It's the End of the World
Category: Newspaper / Magazine Columns
The two S's caught up Phuket in a recent media deluge over claims that the island would be submerged on April 28th.
Superstition and social media were the torchbearers of an unlikely Armageddon event.
Things are getting decidedly weirder these days on the island after a tsunami alert touched off a massive beach evacuation and then an earthquake the following week shook up a few nervous souls.
This is after all 2012, the year the Mayan calendar ends and a doomsday cult tells us the end of the world is upon us.
In reality, while the Mayan's certainly had some ancient mysterious influence with the spiritual side, they somehow missed leap years, which throws the entire 2012 theory out the world as we are well past that point.
One of the notable trends was a number of property firms seizing the moment and all of a sudden direct e-mail offers and hastily written press releases started emerging.
One of the more opportunistic had a hillside estate declared as a safety zone for tsunami evacuees and even had pictures of beachgoers sitting atop a mountain during the recent alert.
And, yes, a brochure was attached to the sale pitch.
Others tapped into the trend with talk of earthquake inspections, insurance necessities and other commercial offerings all written in a friendly altruistic tone that cries out "we are here to help you".
The jury is out on these types of instant promos and I'll let the public decide if they are appropriate or not?
What it does point out is that at least for the next year or possibly even more tsunamis and earthquakes are going to have an impact on the Phuket real estate sector.
Looking closer, the sectors that most likely will see scrutiny will be building approvals on slopes and hillsides. With many ultra-villa products aimed in these types of locations, tighter controls are inevitable.
Next would be building inspections and greater emphasis on the soundness of structures and civil engineering. This will hit new build and the secondary market, where resale buyers will no doubt take a closer look at the actual build quality of a property they are considering.
Logically or not, there is no clear geographic right or wrong. Beachside locations are perceived to have tsunami risk and inland properties are located near to a long fault line.
Will Phuket development start heading to the hills again?
Insurance is another key segment that has many owners reaching for their telephones and either reviewing policies or obtaining new ones.
I've lived in Phuket for a decade, and was there in 2004 during the tsunami. During that same time the island has been impacted by Sars, waves, a political coup, red and yellow shirts, tragic plane crash and a global financial crisis.
Each time tourism has come back bigger and better than before, and the rubber-band effect from a short-term impact to recovery has been demonstrated time and time again.
No, Phuket didn't join the Lost City of Atlantis on April 28 and despite a few shakes, rattles and rolls, continues on its merry way.
For the doomsday predictors, if you can find a safer place to live in a world gone mad, please me know?