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Phuket’s governor calls for help in restoring island’s economy

Maya Taylor

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Shuttered businesses along Bangla Road in Patong yesterday

The governor of Phuket has likened the southern province to a “patient in a coma”, as he pleads for help to restore its devastated economy. According to a report in the Bangkok Post, Phuket Governor Narong Woonciew was addressing a Public Health Association forum, where he highlighted the economic crisis caused by the ongoing ban on international tourists. The island’s international airport closed in April, shutting off the supply of international tourists, and cutting off the flow of international money flowing into the island’s tourist economy.

The latest figures show that Phuket has lost over 400 billion baht since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic. The island’s economy is, either directly or indirectly, 90% reliant on a steady flow of international tourists, and has seen a massive tourist infrastructure boom over the past 20 years, including accommodation, tours, tour boats, tours buses and passenger vans, international shows, new roads, restaurants and rentals – all aimed at the many levels of traveller budgets.

Governor Narong predicts the province will face similar hardship next year, and is calling on the government to organise conferences and other events that will attract more visitors to the province.

“So far, the province has invited 15,000 village health volunteers in the south to travel and spend time in the province while today’s seminar is bringing in 10,000 attendees and followers and will relieve some of the hardship.”

Meanwhile, PHA president Prapat Thamwongsa, says the forum gives those attending the opportunity to share knowledge and advice on tackling the spread of disease, with presentations and competitions addressing all public health activities.

Phuket usually receives around 14 million visitors every year, with around 10-11 million arriving from outside Thailand. The airport usually welcomes up to 300 international flights a day but is now only receiving around 80 flights a day, since the ban on foreign flights started in April. Narong says an estimated 40,000 of the island’s workers are now unemployed, while those still employed have taken hefty pay cuts of anything from 20% to a hefty 90%. Less than 30% of the province’s hotels are currently open.

“Phuket is like a patient in a coma in ICU. So, it is necessary for all stakeholders to help restore Phuket as quickly as possible.”

The Cabinet recently approved a long-stay visa (the Special Tourist Visa) for tourists who wish to visit the Kingdom, although critics say the strict requirements, coupled with the extortionate cost of the mandatory 14 day quarantine, make it unworkable. The new visa is also insisting that travellers will have to arrive on restricted charter or private jet flights, adding further cost and restrictions.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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20 Comments

20 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Svcoquette

    Tuesday, September 22, 2020 at 11:58 am

    And yet you are making it very difficult for the tourists you have here to stay.

  2. Avatar

    Gary

    Tuesday, September 22, 2020 at 11:59 am

    Many expat retirees from Phuket stuck overseas at the moment, getting back home will be a start to helping.

  3. Avatar

    Toby Andrews

    Tuesday, September 22, 2020 at 12:27 pm

    THE REMEDY IS CLEAR.
    Let foreign tourists in with no restrictions. Die of the virus, not much chance, or die of starvation.
    Stupid people.

  4. Avatar

    Richard king

    Tuesday, September 22, 2020 at 1:26 pm

    This new tourist 90 day visa is only viable to a very small numbers of people who can afford the time and costs. Is only limited band aid solutions until such times normal travel can happen and when that is Maybe next year if lucky, So many more months of pain to come.

  5. Avatar

    Anti Madness

    Tuesday, September 22, 2020 at 1:44 pm

    In the meantime all the quarantined private yachts stuck in south east Asia could easily start coming in with no risk at all. But that is a little obvious and easy. There is no way for us to even meet the new long stay visa requirements, although we already exceed them with actual real quarantine on a boat before arrival. I guess my Thai partner will have to wait another 8 months to come home.

    • Avatar

      Svcoquette

      Tuesday, September 22, 2020 at 2:51 pm

      The Thai government and particulary Phuket are ignoring yachts. Yesterday immigration would not accept our yacht (our only home) as a local address. We had to rent a hotel room. Yachts are not appreciated here. We’ve been coming to Phuket for several years, usually spending more than 1 million baht to have boat work done and buy needed supplies.
      Yachties have an efficient grapevine and word is already spreading “do not come here, you are not welcome”.

  6. Avatar

    Perceville Smithers

    Tuesday, September 22, 2020 at 1:56 pm

    Why would the general tourist want to spend tons of money to visit a ghost town?

    • Avatar

      Peter

      Tuesday, September 22, 2020 at 7:57 pm

      Very good point!

  7. Avatar

    Perceville Smithers

    Tuesday, September 22, 2020 at 2:04 pm

    P•One Bar my favorite on Bangla Rd.! Too many families now walking up and down that road at night just looking and the parents should have kid(s) in the room sleep.

  8. Avatar

    Buklao

    Tuesday, September 22, 2020 at 2:14 pm

    This is much bigger than just Thailand opening up for international travel, they will not open, that’s why they make it difficult and changing plans all the time. Just look what’s happening everywhere In the world, all this is intentionally and orginized. The fourth industrial revolution, agenda 2030, the great reset. Listen what the worldleaders talk about, they all plan together. It’s over

    • Avatar

      Jordan

      Wednesday, September 23, 2020 at 9:29 am

      Can you elaborate more on this?

  9. Avatar

    Buklao

    Tuesday, September 22, 2020 at 2:16 pm

    The great reset

  10. Avatar

    Svcoquette

    Tuesday, September 22, 2020 at 2:53 pm

    The Thai government and particulary Phuket are ignoring yachts. Yesterday immigration would not accept our yacht (our only home) as a local address. We had to rent a hotel room. Yachts are not appreciated here. We’ve been coming to Phuket for several years, usually spending more than 1 million baht to have boat work done and buy needed supplies.
    Yachties have an efficient grapevine and word is already spreading “do not come here, you are not welcome”.

  11. Avatar

    James

    Tuesday, September 22, 2020 at 2:55 pm

    Just admit the facts.

    Most countries are having second higher numbers of infected people and are closing down even further. Eg the UK

    Thailand just has to admit it can do nothing special until a drug is available to stop the virus.

    Stop pretending you have special ideas in order to get around the fact more tourists will bring more cases of the virus.

    International travel to all countries in the world will be severely limited until a cure is found.

    Facts are facts, magic does not exist.

    • Avatar

      Khaja Sarfaraj Mansur

      Thursday, September 24, 2020 at 12:56 am

      ‘2552 killed themselves since the pandemic start’ IS ALSO A FACT

      Do you have any cure to stop this?

  12. Avatar

    MARTIN BERRY

    Tuesday, September 22, 2020 at 5:09 pm

    If you wait for a cure then the Thai tourism is finished. Presently the “officialdom” required for any visitors is too prohibitive compared with easier destinations for travelers, they will look at the requirements and not bother.
    Countries need to talk to one another and agree a testing prior to individuals departure and additionally travelers insurance would need to cover repatriation.
    I real have a lot of sympathy for ordinary working Thai people whose survival depends on tourism they have no welfare state to fall back on like many other people living in other countries. Also the foreigner with business whether it be a hotel or bar owner must be going through a nightmare. We need backbone and sensible policies but scaremongering is the prophecy of doom.

    • Avatar

      Peter

      Tuesday, September 22, 2020 at 5:56 pm

      You are missing the reason why quarantine is essential, a test only means (assuming it’s accurate false positives and false negatives are far from being unheard of) the person tested did not have a “detectable virus load” at the time of the test. The Covid virus can take upto 14 days or more to be detected, although most scientists think it’s detectable within 5/6 days but I don’t think the Thai government is going to take a chance with their citizens lives. A reliable vaccine AND a negative test result is about the only thing that will get the quarantine requirement dropped

      • Avatar

        Per Fect

        Tuesday, September 22, 2020 at 6:14 pm

        Then I Guess Thailand Will be out of tourists. Because tourists Will not come. I would even consider, really really Hard, if a test prior or after flights makes it worth it, never mind quarantine. They have already started to scare of the rich ones, the ones they are targeting to help the Economy.

        • Avatar

          Whiro

          Wednesday, September 23, 2020 at 10:51 am

          Wrong target.
          This is Thailand we are talking about, not Maldives:)

  13. Avatar

    Ken

    Wednesday, September 23, 2020 at 10:43 pm

    The government should increase the number of STV visa from 1,200 STV visa a month to 12,000 STV visa a month and provide more ASQ quarantine
    1,200 STV a month might be too slow and too little to help the tourism sector in Thailand

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Multi-day traditional Thai funerals shortened for Covid-19 safety

Neill Fronde

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FILE PHOTO: Traditional Thai Buddhist funerals need to be shortened for Covid-19 safety.

Traditional funerals in Thailand last several days with ceremonies and mourning before the eventual cremation of the lost loved one. But with the rising death toll of Covid-19, funeral ceremonies have needed to be revised and shortened for the safety of attendees. With infections in Thailand catapulting from 29,000 in early April to 74,900 as of yesterday, funerals have to adapt to account for not only handling the remains of someone who died from Covid-19 but also infected mourners attending the funerals.

Traditional Buddhist funerals involve family members, friends, and often the local community joining together to offer condolences, pray, share meals, and view the body, placing flowers on the dead loved one before they are moved into an incinerator for cremation. Family members often sleep in the temple where the ceremony takes place, staying on-site for several days. But in the Covid-19 era, services need to be shortened and socially distanced, with family members that do come close to the dead body requiring disinfection and possibly isolation afterwards. Volunteers in full PPE protection gear often remove the casket from an ambulance moving it straight to the crematorium rather than allowing it to lie in repose first.

Siam-Nonthaburi Foundation is a volunteer group that is assisting people to conduct safe funeral services for those who may be unable to afford them. They work with the Nontha Buri temple of Wat Rat Prakong Tham just outside of central Bangkok to arrange free cremation services. Foundation officials pointed out they’re often handling 4 funerals per day because of Covid-19 when they usually only conduct 1 each day. They have to take severe Covid-19 precautions as it is a high-risk endeavour.

After assisting with many funerals and helping with Covid-19 safety, they advised maximum caution especially with older family members as the majority of the funerals they conduct were for the elderly.

Thailand has now had 315 death from Covid-19, with the third wave spreading faster and deadlier due to the B.117 variant that first appeared in evening entertainment venues in Bangkok and other hot spots. Yesterday the first recorded infection with the Brazilian variant was identified in Thailand, but in an arriving passenger who went into immediate quarantine, so there is hope that the strain has not made it into any communities yet.

With a difficult-to-control Covid-19 pandemic and Thai funeral traditions bringing people in close proximity to each other and to the deceased, precautions and revision of tradition has been necessary to speed services into the cremation process far more quickly.

SOURCE: France 24

 

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Protests

Activist lawyer contracts Covid-19 in prison

Neill Fronde

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PHOTO: Activiets lawyer Arnon Nampa has been infected with Covid-19 in prison. (via Wikimedia)

Arnon Nampa, an activist lawyer in jail without bail since February on lese majeste charges has been infected with Covid-19, according to his Facebook page. An anonymous source at the Corrections Department confirmed with Reuters that Arnon had tested positive yesterday and has been sent to the prison hospital for treatment. The department later released a press statement confirming the activist he had Covid-19.

Held without bail for more than 3 months, Arnon has been a leader in the pro-democracy demonstration calling for the resignation of PM Prayut Chan-o-cha, along with a revision of power for the Thai royal family. The protests had gained momentum last summer and still maintain widespread support though the government has cracked down on marches and demonstrations. They have discouraged political dissent by using the lese majeste law, which carries harsh penalties of up to 15 years in jail for anyone who insults royalty in Thailand.

Arnon, who is 36 years old, confirmed this morning he was being taken to the Medical Correctional Hospital in the Chatuchak District of Bangkok. He has been a key legal advisor who helped activists voice a push for reform that was previously unspeakable in Thailand. Once only whispered in private conversations, the call for reform has now been thrust into the spotlight by student protests.

Thailand has seen several outbreaks of Covid-19 within the prison system throughout the country. Clusters in Narathiwat that later spread to Surat Thani prisons as well, and outbreaks in larger prisons in Chiang Mai and Bangkok have recorded about 475 coronavirus infections within prison walls.

The jailed attorney is one of many protesters and activist leaders who have been held for weeks or months without bail on lese majeste charges. 22 year olds Parit “Penguin” Chiwarak and Panusaya “Rung” Sithijirawattanakul are both on a hunger strike to protest being denied bail multiple times. Penguin was hospitalized last week after his health condition worsened, and there are reports that his trial may be delayed after the activist was exposed to Covid-19 by being held in a cell with a prisoner later confirmed to be infected.

SOURCE: Reuters and Coconuts

 

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

COVID Update: 1,911 new infections, provincial totals

Tanutam Thawan

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Photo via Facebook/ศูนย์ข้อมูล COVID-19

1,911 new Covid-19 infections and 18 coronavirus-related deaths were reported today in the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration’s daily briefing. Since the start of the pandemic, there have been 76,811 Covid-19 infections and 336 virus-related deaths.

There are now 29,680 active cases. 1,073 patients are in critical condition including 356 on ventilators. The majority of the recent deaths were elderly patients. 12 of the 18 patients who died had contracted the virus from family members. A spokesperson for the CCSA says it’s important that family members be extra cautious around grandparents and elderly relatives who are the most at risk of infection.

Province New cases Total since April 1
Bangkok 739 16,048
Nonthaburi 273 2,831
Samut Prakan 143 2,737
Chon Buri 76 3,039
Samut Sakhon 65 1,230
Surat Thani 53 975
Nakhon Pathom 47 717
Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya 35 575
Chachoengsao 35 402
Pathum Thani 31 1,060
Nakhon Si Thammarat 31 498

COVID Update: 1,911 new infections, provincial totals | News by Thaiger COVID Update: 1,911 new infections, provincial totals | News by Thaiger COVID Update: 1,911 new infections, provincial totals | News by Thaiger COVID Update: 1,911 new infections, provincial totals | News by Thaiger COVID Update: 1,911 new infections, provincial totals | News by Thaiger COVID Update: 1,911 new infections, provincial totals | News by Thaiger

 

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