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(From South China Morning Post)
Hundreds of holiday-makers queue up at customs in the arrivals hall of Phuket International Airport. Immigration officials examine each travel document in detail, a painstaking process that draws impatient looks from travellers.
It is clear the island's days as a sleepy tropical getaway are over. More than 72 flights a week bring passengers to Phuket from around South Asia, Japan, Korea, Taiwan and Europe. Charters from some European cities even make the 14-hour flight direct.
Five million visitors pass through the airport every year on their way to tropical holidays and, more often these days, to buy a piece of Thailand's southern resort island.
Among Phuket's newer residents is American golfer Nick Faldo, who bought a golf condominium during a stopover to a tournament in Australia.
Development on Phuket is gathering pace, with interest from big hotel groups and steady foreign investment inflows boosting upscale property prices.
The trend is a reversal of the deflation that followed the 1997 financial crisis, when …