Before the island of Phuket will soon heat up with one of the most popular event of Asia “Laguna Phuket Triathlon” on December 6th, get yourself prepared for anticipating of the year. An interview with Khun Natasha Eldred, Assistant Director of Marketing Communications and Khun Prapa Hemmin, Assistant Director of Destination Marketing of Laguna Phuket may improve your understanding about this traditional event co-hosted by Phuket Province and Laguna Phuket .
Q: The goal of the event?
A: The 1st Triathlon, 16 years ago, was to boost the arrival, especially international arrival into Phuket Island.
As we know this time of the year, Phuket just starts to get a little busier with oversea arrival so what we aim to do is to boost kind of the quiet first week of December with more arrival internationally and to encourage more people to stay in Laguna Phuket, encourage people to visit Phuket, enjoy shopping, the entertainment, the restaurant, and also encourage more people to book flight.
The event brings tourists not only just to Laguna Phuket. We recognise that not all triathletes and their family and friends stay within Laguna Phuket, they stay in other resorts also.
Not only for Phuket, we maximise a lot of PR internationally for this event. We have a one hour television programme that broadcast to around 50 different countries including Mainland China, Europe, UK, Australia, all round the world.
What this triathlon really highlight is Phuket’s beauty as the destination. People regard triathlon as a niche sport that once you see Phuket, you then think “Wow, I would like to go and visit Phuket”.
Q: How many participants this year?
A: This year we have 900 athletes in individual triathlon competition. We have 400 athletes in our 6K Fun Run. We have 51 teams for a corporate challenge.
For a corporate challenge, we allow three people to take part in a team – one swimmer, one cyclist, and one runner. Three people can work together as a team which is more fun for people who have not hard experience to do a full triathlon. This is also good for businesses to get involved in the challenge of the Relay Team because they can market themselves and get a good publicity for themselves.
Q: Is the number of participants increase?
A: Yes. If you remember last year we have the challenge after the airport closure so we lost a certain amount of people. Most of our athletes tried very hard to get here last year and they did.
Number of Thai athletes is increase from last year as well. We have total of 203 Thai people to join in the event this year.
Q: Is there any Laguna Phuket’s staff participate?
A: Yes. We have many but not me and Khun Prapa (said Khun Natasha laughingly).
Q: How long does it take for the whole program?
A: It depends. Some athletes only come for 3-4 days if they come from Singapore, Hong Kong, they come for short time. But some people coming over from UK or Australia, they come here about 3 weeks. They train before hand in heat because the climate in Phuket is very different from some places in Australia, UK, and Europe. So they need to get acclimatized.
Q: Will the winner from the last year return to defend their title?
A: Yes. We have both of our defending champion. We have Richie Cunningham from Australia and Belinda Granger from Australia. Both Richie and Belinda have been coming for Laguna Phuket Triathlon for around 7 years. Last year was the first time that Belinda and Richie both come 1st in Laguna Phuket Triathlon. Of course we have the Germany’s Olympic gold medalist from Beijing 2008 Jan Frodeno come and race here too.
Q: What we can expect for the next years’ event?
A: Next year will be very exciting for us because we are going to have the Ironman 70.3 as well. It’s something that we extremely excited about. As a Department for Destination Marketing this is what we have been working toward for many years. It is to gain the trust from the international community that Phuket has the infrastructure enhanced. Everything is in place to hold the international event. Next year we will have an entire race week. We will kick off the Laguna Phuket Triathlon on one weekend and the following weekend will have Ironman 70.3.
And before we leave, Khun Natasha took an opportunity to convey her message “We would like to encourage more people to get involved in the next year event. We really like you to come and watch the event, to support the people not just Thai but all the guests that come to Phuket. Please Phuket come and support the event. It will be lovely to see more people out on the track cheering and giving the athletes some support. Also, if people want to volunteer for next year to help with our races, they are more than welcome”.
For further information about Laguna Phuket Triathlon please visit www.lagunaphukettriathlon.com