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Currency investors factor in no-deal Brexit as pound flounders

The Thaiger

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Currency investors factor in no-deal Brexit as pound flounders | The Thaiger

The world’s stock markets and economists think leaving the EU won’t have a sterling outcome. That’s the way the protracted Brexit negotiations are playing out in a slow, drawn out and economically painful rout of the GBP.

The British pound hit a two year low of $1.212 against the USD on Tuesday, just another blow for the currency following several days of decline since Brexit frontliner Boris Johnson became the UK’s next PM, taking over the poisoned chalice from former PM Theresa May.

Currency investors factor in no-deal Brexit as pound flounders | News by The Thaiger

The new PM’s hardline indications that he would take a no-deal Brexit have shaken confidence in the pound and sent its value on a downward trajectory since July 24. The downward spiral is partly world economists and currency traders factoring further drama for the pound if and when the UK crashes out of the EU in October.

The British sterling initially slumped after the Brexit referendum in 2016 and has never fully recovered.

After the pound 2016 trading at nearly $1.50 against the US dollar, two significant drops followed later that year: In June, after the Brexit referendum results were announced, and then in September, after the reelection of Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, who at the time supported Brexit. Despite a recovery in 2017, the pound slumped again the following year as a deal between the U.K. and the European Union looked less and less likely.

British PM Theresa May surviving a no-confidence vote in December 2018 was followed by a small uptick in the pound’s value. But by the time May announced she would step down on May 24, the pound was back to where it had traded before the no-confidence vote.

The value of currency is determined by several factors, but one conclusion that can be drawn from this chart is that events favoring a hard-line exit from the European Union have usually led to the pound’s depreciation and will likely lead to further drops as investors factor in hard times for the GBP.

At lunchtime today the British Pound had fallen further against the Thai baht.

Currency investors factor in no-deal Brexit as pound flounders | News by The Thaiger

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ASEAN

Thai Airways announces cancellation of six routes to four ASEAN destinations

May Taylor

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Thai Airways announces cancellation of six routes to four ASEAN destinations | The Thaiger

The President of Thai Airways International says the airline is set to cancel six flight routes to Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia, and Myanmar.

The Nation reports that Sumeth Damrongchaitham says the routes in question are all from Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi airport to Vientiane, Luang Prabang, Phnom Penh, Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh and Yangon.

“These routes are all covered by a small number of flights and have low customer capacity. Once the cancellation plan is finalised, THAI will assign Thai Smile Airways to cover these routes instead.”

Sumeth cites increased competition as the reason behind the decision and the difficulties presented by rival airlines slashing prices to remain ahead of competitors.

“THAI needs to adjust our strategies too to preserve our reservation rate. We will focus on rolling out promotional campaigns until year end. However, next year’s strategy remains to be seen. Our prices this year have been reduced to a record low and if this strategy doesn’t work, we may take a different direction, such as seeking more partners for organisation tickets, increasing online channels, or giving privileges to frequent fliers.”

SOURCE: nationthailand.com

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Economy

Asia leads the world in medical tourism

Greeley Pulitzer

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Asia leads the world in medical tourism | The Thaiger

Over the past ten years, Asia has become a favourite destination for medical tourism for people from around the world. Besides the white sand beaches, historic monuments and rich cultural legacy, healthcare in Asia is now a major attraction. From transplants and surgeries to dental procedures and botox, people are turning to Asia.

But what makes Asia the most popular destination? Some say lack of specialised treatments in their home countries or the affordable cost of treatment in Asia: these combined with ease of travel and lax visa rules for medical treatment have opened vast avenues for the region.

In 2017, some one million medical tourists visited Malaysia and 3.3 million visited Thailand. India too saw a surge from 4,27,014 medical tourists in 2016 to 4,95,056 in 2017.

Here’s a look at the top Asian countries for various medical treatments:

Thailand is popular for breast implants and gender reassignment surgeries. Since 2003, the Thai Government has taken steps to make Thailand a global centre for medical tourism through its Centre of Excellent Health Care of Asia initiative, and now has 37 Joint Commission International (JCI) accredited hospitals.

A 2016 WHO study revealed that medical tourists visiting Thailand were more likely to be residents of the eastern Mediterranean or south-east or south Asia. However, what makes the country a preferred destination is its world-class hospitality, highly specialised care and tailored care packages.

India is a favoured destination due to its its advanced technology, world-class surgeons and cost-effective treatments. Patients visit India not just for specialised treatment and surgeries but for routine check-ups as well.

India amended e-visa rules for 150 countries in 2016, making visa procurement easy for foreigners. India’s National Health Policy specifies that the government supports medical tourism and issues visas patients’ accompanying spouses.

Singapore is a choice for patients seeking state-of-the-art facilities, well trained doctors and quality care. Although it is one of the most expensive cities in the world, the city-state has more than 15 hospitals catering to medical tourists. Singapore was ranked the most attractive among seven Asian countries in terms of “patient experience”, but was also one of the least attractive in terms of cost-effectiveness.

Malaysia is picking up the pace and is a preferred destination for people from other Asian countries, especially Indonesia. Of one million medical tourists who visited the country in 2017, 600,000 were from Indonesia.

According to the Malaysia Healthcare Travel Council, Malaysia has set a target of at least one million medical tourists from Indonesia by 2020. Since the health ministry regulates the prices that private hospitals charge in Malaysia, quality care at affordable prices lures patients from across Asia and the world.

World-famous for its beauty clinics, South Korea’s ambitions go beyond cosmetic surgery. According to the South Korea Ministry of Health and Welfare, about 3,64,000 foreign medical tourists visited the country in 2016, including patients from Canada, the USA, UAE, China and Japan.

South Korea’s healthcare system is considered one of the best in Asia and has established a niche in the medical technology industry. To promote medical tourism, the government offers a special visa to medical tourists and insurance that covers both injury and death resulting from medical treatment or procedures.

SOURCE: nationthailand.com

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Patong

Phuket hotels slashing the price of rooms

The Thaiger

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Phuket hotels slashing the price of rooms | The Thaiger

by Sophie Deviller

Hotels on Thailand’s most popular holiday island are being forced to slash prices, with rooms left vacant and beaches sparse as Thailand’s tourism chiefs struggle with a plunge in Chinese visitors caused by the US trade war and a stronger baht. Phuket was the most visited destination in the country last year, after Bangkok, and a good gauge of the state of its crucial travel industry.

Tourism accounts for 18% of Thailand’s gross domestic product and Chinese holidaymakers make up more than a quarter of total arrivals. But while 2.2 million people from the country visited in 2018, according to official figures, the numbers for January-September were down almost 20% year on year.

Claude de Crissey, the French Honorary Consul in Phuket and owner of about 40 rooms in the Patong Beach area, says Chinese tourists are usually present even during the current low season.

“That was not the case this year,” he said, adding he had to lower his prices by as much as 50%.

The problem is not only in Phuket, with hotels also struggling to fill rooms in the seaside resort of Pattaya on the mainland and on Koh Samui.

Trade tensions with the US have already made some Chinese reluctant to take holidays owing to uncertainty back home, while the Thai baht has risen about 10% against the yuan this year.

A boating disaster off Phuket’s coast that killed 47 Chinese holidaymakers in July 2018 also scared some off.

“We are worried,” said an industry insider, declining to be named due to the sensitivity of the topic in a country where tourism provides tens of thousands of jobs. Adding to the headache is the fact that more than 3,000 new hotel rooms are being constructed on the island, raising the question of who will fill them.

Phuket hotels slashing the price of rooms | News by The Thaiger

“In terms of business, it’s not good,” said Kongsak Khoopongsakorn, vice-president of the association of hotels in Thailand and director of Vijitt Resort.

“Because … we have more hotels, more rooms to sell, we have more restaurants, more coffee shops.”

Still, tourism authority chairman Yuthasak Supasorn said he remained “optimistic.”

“We should reach our goal of 39.8 million foreign visitors.”

However, that is only up from 38.2 million in 2018, much less than the jump seen from the previous year’s total of 35.6 million.

Counting on India

Now hoteliers and tour package operators are targeting visitors from elsewhere, particularly India, which experts see as a huge untapped market.

A rapid expansion of the middle class in India, increased direct flights and visa-free travel have prompted Thailand to revise forecasts upwards.

It now expects two million Indian tourists this year, after an increase of nearly 25% on-year in the first seven months. But for now, the lower arrivals is evident on the streets of Phuket.

“I’ve never seen anything as bad as what it is at the moment,” said Paul Scott from Australia, who said he has been coming to Thailand for 15 years.

He mainly blamed the stronger baht for the drop-off but also the fact that Thailand wasn’t the untouched vacation paradise it once was. “Now it’s not so new … and it’s not cheap,” he said.

SOURCE: AFP

Phuket hotels slashing the price of rooms | News by The Thaiger

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