Magazine article The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)

Patong's Plight: Phuket's Gay Resort Area Survived the Tsunami, but Economic Disaster Looms

Magazine article The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)

Patong's Plight: Phuket's Gay Resort Area Survived the Tsunami, but Economic Disaster Looms

Article excerpt

It's 11 P.M. at the Paradise Complex, a large cluster of gay venues and hotels in Patong Beach on the island of Phuket. Less than three weeks after the December 26 tsunami killed thousands here in Thailand, the sidewalks are quiet. The tourists are gone, and many of the go-go boys have either gone back to their villages or moved on to unscathed Pattaya, the country's other large gay beach resort area.

"Not too many [gays] died on the beach that fateful day," says Bangkok-based tour operator Khun Chatt, who runs Naga Rainbow Tour. "It was too early in the morning."

The calm after the storm is the latest threat to Phuket's existence as the hub of an international gay following. Unless the tourists return, reports the Bangkok Post, the tens of thousands of workers in the tourism industry who drive the Phuket nightlife scene--from restaurant and hotel employees to sex workers-face financial disaster.

Ulf Mikaelsson, who runs the Connect Guest House and Coffee Bar, untouched by the tsunami, worries that Phuket's gay businesses face difficult times ahead. …

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