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Drop your excise tax on jet fuel, or we’ll pull out – Airlines

The Thaiger

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Drop your excise tax on jet fuel, or we’ll pull out – Airlines | The Thaiger

The Thai Excise Department is proposing local airlines increase the number of flights to the Kingdom’s second-tier provincial airports in return for a reduction in the excise tax on jet fuel. The Department’s aim is to increase tourism into Thailand’s lesser-known tourist areas and attractions.

Nok Air, Bangkok Airways, Thai AirAsia, Thai Smile Airways, Thai Airways International, Thai VietJet Air and Thai Lion Air have all submitted requests to cut the excise tax on jet fuel to avoid downsizing, cutting services on low-performing routes, or shutting down operations.

Aviation fuel makes up 30-35% of an airlines’ costs, and the excise department charges on jet fuel tax of 4.726 baht per litre. The airlines say that the tax on jet fuel is a huge burden since it went up to 4.726 baht per litre from just 0.20 baht per litre just two years ago.

But Patchara Anuntasilpa, the director-general of the excise department said that if the low-cost and full-service airlines want the Department to cut the jet fuel taxes, they should “offer proposals that benefit the public”, including more frequent flights to second-tier provinces.

The Bangkok Post reports that meetings are now scheduled in two weeks where the key players will be joined by the TAT to discuss options. The TAT acknowledge the co-operation of airlines is vital to establishing new tourism hubs.

Meanwhile, airlines operating in Thailand say they are being battered by a weak economy and the baht’s strength, which is reducing international tourist arrivals, while the intense competition prohibits them from raising fares.

Thai AirAsia says they’ve had to reduce flights by 15% over the last four months, cutting frequency of flights to Chiang Mai, Phuket, Krabi and Khon Kaen to contain the high operating costs.

Meanwhile, the senior vice-president of Bangkok Airways, Anawat Leelawatwatana, says Thailand airlines’ fares are falling as carriers compete locally and internationally.

“Government support is required if airlines are expected to take part in stimulating tourism in particular provinces.”

“Promoting travel in second-tier provinces is crucial for Thailand’s tourism. Many foreign tourists are drifting towards other countries in the region because of a dearth of new tourism spots.”

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Business

Hotel association wants rules on short-term rentals, home sharing

Greeley Pulitzer

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Hotel association wants rules on short-term rentals, home sharing | The Thaiger

PHOTO: Airbnb and other accommodation-share businesses, plus a glut of newly opened hotels rooms across the country, is putting pressure on the traditional hotel model

The Thai Hotels Association has again asked for a meeting with the Minister of the Interior to discuss the impact of short-term rentals and home sharing services like Airbnb on the domestic hotel business. The Assoication’s president Supawan Tanomkieatipume reminds him Thai law officially doesn’t, technically, allow owners of condos to rent out their units for less than 30 days without a hotel licence.

But he acknowledges that the practice is widespread and almost impossible to police.

“THA has no intention of seeking a ban on these services in Thailand. We just want the government to issue suitable regulations on the operations of these service providers, and enforce related laws to protect customers.”

Supawan acknowledges that the tourist numbers are still reaching almost last year’s levels but says that the both accommodation-sharing services and a surfeit of new hotel rooms available is cutting into his members’ bottom-lines.

His solution would make owners offering short-term rentals and home sharing services be required to register with the Ministry and apply for a business licence, the same as for hotel operators, and display their licence numbers when advertising.

THA also wants to count them in the total number of hotel operators, so the government can design measures to promote hotels based on the actual number of businesses in the market.

“A preliminary survey by THA shows that there are over 21,000 providers of accommodations not listed as hotels scattered around Bangkok and tourist cities. Without knowing the actual number of competitors, hotel entrepreneurs face the risk of room oversupply.”

Statistics published by Airbnb earlier this year showed that home sharing generated more than 33.8 billion baht to property owners and the surrounding communities.

SOURCE: The Nation

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Chiang Rai

British diver’s lawyer claims jury blundered in Elon Musk defamation trial

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British diver’s lawyer claims jury blundered in Elon Musk defamation trial | The Thaiger

PHOTO: Getty Images

“That is a serious problem. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a bullying billionaire or a penniless troll, that behaviour is ­destructive.” – Vernon Unsworth’s lawyer, Mark Stephens

Elon Musk could face a retrial in his defamation case after a lawyer for the British cave diver Vernon Unsworth, based in Chiang Rai, claimed the jury blundered. The Tesla founder had a spat with diver Vernon Unsworth over the rescue of 13 young men trapped in the flooded Tham Luang cave in June and July last year. Read The Thaiger story of the trial verdict HERE.

In a Twitter spat in July last year, the US Tech-guru branded Vernon as the “pedo guy”. Vernon had criticised Elon’s offer of an ‘escape tube’ saying it was (paraphrasing) impractical and just a ‘vanity project’ by the American tech crusader – the founder of Space X and Tesla electric cars.

At the time Vernon branded Elon’s gesture a “PR stunt”, telling him to “stick his submarine where it hurts”.

On Friday Elon Musk told the court the phrase “pedo guy” was a common slur in South Africa where he grew up. But Vernon claimed the remarks were effectively “a life sentence without parole”, saying the defamatory comment would ‘stick’ even though Elon later retracted them.

Vernon Unsworth made a claim for US$190 million in damages but Elon Musk was cleared of the defamation suit last Friday.

Now Vernon’s lawyer, Mark Stephens, claims post-verdict interviews with jurors show they decided the tycoon was not liable because he did not name Mr Unsworth in his tweet, according to an article in the mirror.co.uk.

Mr. Stephens claims the jurors made a mistake that could set a dangerous precedent for future ‘Twitter’ based defamation cases.

“We all know jurors make mistakes on occasion.”

SOURCE: mirror.co.uk

British diver's lawyer claims jury blundered in Elon Musk defamation trial | News by The Thaiger

PHOTO: Vernon Unsworth arrives for the trial verdict last Friday – Getty Images

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Thailand

You introduce new visa requirements? We don’t send any tours.” – Taiwan

Greeley Pulitzer

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You introduce new visa requirements? We don’t send any tours.” – Taiwan | The Thaiger

PHOTO: Chiang Rai Times

“This is not the first time the Thailand Trade and Economic Office has come under fire for enforcing unpopular policies that were introduced without a lot of thought.”

It’s now emerged that the proposed requirement for Taiwanese tourists to submit financial statements to obtain a Thai visa happened after the Travel Agents Association of Taiwan threatened to boycott tours to Thailand. Nothing like a threat of tourist numbers to convince the Thai government to review its stance on the Taiwanese tourists’ visas!

In November the Thailand Trade and Economic Office in Taipei announced a new policy requiring tourist visa applicants to submit submit bank details for the previous three months to prove that they could cover their travel expenses. Unlike in the past, they would also be required to apply online for an appointment, then submit the documents in person.

The new policy, which was to take effect on December 1, would have eventually applied to Taiwan, China, Britain and France. The TTEO says it chose Taiwan to implement the procedure because of its “advanced information technology”.

Travel Agents Association of Taiwan chairman Hsiao Po-jen (蕭博仁) says the Taiwanese ministry should halt its visa-waiver program for Thai tourists.”

Travellers and travel agents in Taiwan have said the policy was disrespectful and said the Taiwanese government humiliated itself by agreeing to it. But the TTEO decided on the policy unilaterally and the Taiwan government was not involved, according to a spokesperson

The China News Agency reports that the plan will now be postponed until March 1 “to give applicants sufficient time to prepare and to acquaint themselves with the new method”.

Nearly 700,000 Taiwanese tourists travel to Thailand each year.

“Why do they need a financial statement when they apply for visas? Taiwan is not a third world country,” the head of the Travel Agent Association of Taiwan said. “The policy is just ridiculous.”

Many people also complained that they couldn’t even access the new online visa-application system.”

This is not the first time the TTEO has come under fire for enforcing unpopular policies that were introduced without a lot of thought. Last year, the Association protested a proposed 470 baht increase in visa fees, threatening to stop sending tourists to Thailand. The proposal was eventually scrapped

SOURCE: Taipei Times

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