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Taiwan challenges Thai government over new visa requirements for their citizens

May Taylor

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Taiwan challenges Thai government over new visa requirements for their citizens | The Thaiger
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The Taiwanese government says it’s concerned about new Thai government visa rules being imposed on its citizens travelling to Thailand.

A new application scheme launched on November 29 by the Thailand Trade and Economic Office in Taipei now requires applicants to show evidence of sufficient funds for their trip. The requirement, which asks Taiwanese nationals to submit bank statements from the previous three months, has angered some, with a member of the Kuomintang opposition party saying it’s akin to treating Taiwan as a third world country.

Taiwanese applicants are also required to apply online and then make an appointment to submit their documents in person, whereas previously they could apply in person at the TTEO without any prior online application or appointment.

Members of the opposition are calling on the country’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs to register a formal protest with the Thai government against the new application procedure, pointing out that Thai citizens visiting Taiwan are granted visa-free entry.

The Taiwanese foreign affairs officials, for their part, say they’ve already notified the Thai government of its concerns and asked for clarification on the more stringent guidelines. They also insist that visa-free privileges granted to Thai citizens have boosted tourist numbers and business and education exchanges between both countries, but did not provide any numbers in support of the claim.

“We have asked the Thai side to clarify the new process and will continue to urge it to improve the convenience of visa applications for Taiwanese.”

Meanwhile, the Thai representative office in Taipei says the new visa application process is not restricted to Taiwanese nationals but applicable to other nationalities too, including British and French.

An official from the TTEO says that while tourists from some countries may be able to enter Thailand visa-free, they still need to follow the online process should they require a visa, whether that be for education, business or marriage.

SOURCE: The Nation

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Myanmar

Tourists to Myanmar going up, but falling short of projections

The Thaiger

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Tourists to Myanmar going up, but falling short of projections | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Numbers going up, but falling short of projections - South China Morning Post

Vietnam to the right of me, Myanmar to the left, Thailand stuck in the middle….

Myanmar’s 2019 tourism figures improved 15% to give the country 1,324,000 tourist arrivals through the main airport at Yangon. Officials released the 2019 visitor data for Yangon Airport, which excludes cross border arrivals and arrivals through Mandalay and Nay Pyi Taw airports, the country’s two other international aviation gateways.

Once overland arrivals at border checkpoints are counted, the annual inbound tourist numbers are expected to swell to around 4 million for the full 2019 year. But the numbers fall well short of the projections made for 2020 which said there would be 7.5 million tourist arrivals by the end of the last decade by the Asian Development Bank. The projections were made by a detailed report on Bumese tourism back in 2013.

In 2019, Asian tourist emerged as the dominant supply with 1,060,396 arrivals at Yangon airport last year, an increase of 20%. This compares with 142,443 arrivals from Western Europe, 0% growth for 2019

China drives the growth in Asian markets, delivering 344,268 passengers, up by a massive 75%, Thailand is now the second-largest source market, dropping from the top spot.

Japan, South Korea and the US make up the third, fourth and firth largest tourist markets arriving at the country’s largest airport. Other strong top performers were: Singapore 52,461, Vietnam 50,203, India 42,548, Malaysia 40,891 and Taiwan 36,874.

Arrivals from the UK market dropped 7%, France slumped 2% and Switzerland declined 10%. Australia tourism to Myanmar declined 8% over the past year.

SOURCE: ttrweekly.com

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Business

Crunching the numbers on Phuket’s hotels – 2020

Bill Barnett

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Crunching the numbers on Phuket’s hotels – 2020 | The Thaiger

PHOTO: Travel 141

Bill Barnett from c9Hotelworks, crunches the numbers and reports on some challenges for Thailand’s largest island and most popular tourist destination, outside of Bangkok.

Robust passenger arrivals in the second half of 2019 highlighted by growth in Indian tourists helped rebalance the island’s tourism sector, according to the C9 Hotelworks newly released Phuket Hotel Market Update (link below). The addition of direct flights out of Mumbai, Dehli and Bengaluru propelled numbers by 298% versus the same period the year before.

In 2019, year-on-year passenger arrivals declined in Q1 (-4%) and Q2 (-7%) due to international economic volatility, China-US trade tensions, and a strong Thai baht. Long-haul travellers from Australia and European countries (led by Scandinavia, Germany, and Italy) shrank. Moreover, Chinese arrivals moved into troubled territory with a negative year-on-year growth rate of -9%.

However, passenger arrivals notably regained momentum in Q3 (3%) and Q4 (8%). The demand came from regional Asian feeders (led by India, Malaysia, and Singapore). Overall for the year passenger arrivals in 2019 are forecasted to be similar to 2018, but punctuated by a second-half rising trend. In 2019, the total number of passenger arrivals at the Phuket International Airport is forecast to be 9,109,487 when finally tabulated, with the December year-on-year monthly 2019 figure forecasted to be up by 8%.

Crunching the numbers on Phuket's hotels - 2020 | News by The Thaiger

Citing recent media reports about Phuket’s hotels being “half empty”, C9’s Managing Director Bill Barnett stated “current 2019 data that reflects over 9 million passenger arrivals at Phuket International Airport, and hotel occupancy levels for the year in the low 70’s is contrary to the media claims which are unsupported by a lack of metrics or attribution.”

“While 2019 saw a slight drop in occupancy, and marked reduction in average rates and RevPAR*, these are mainly attributed to an appreciating Thai baht and reaction to increased competition in leisure destinations. The latter part of 2019 trending showed higher demand which is encouraging but seasonable challenges remain a key challenge.”

*Revenue per available room (RevPAR) is a performance metric used in the hotel industry. It is calculated by multiplying a hotel’s average daily room rate (ADR) by its occupancy rate. It may also be calculated by dividing a hotel’s total room revenue by the total number of available rooms in the period being measured.

Crunching the numbers on Phuket's hotels - 2020 | News by The Thaiger

Looking at key hotel performance trends, the second half growth spurt in demand drove full-year market-wide occupancy to 72% according to data from STR, which is 3% lower versus the 2018 numbers. Room rate pressure remains intense and a challenge to RevPAR; with Thai currency appreciation set to continue in 2020. Two key metrics that were impacted was a drop in island average rates by 6%, and the knock on impact to RevPAR that also stepped back by 10%, largely driven by lower room rates.

Tourism receipts in Phuket for the period January to November 2019 tallied 416 billion baht.

A key airlift factor is direct flights and diverse destinations. Comparing Mainland China with 21 destinations from 22 airlines and Russia with 34 destinations from 8 airlines, the number of Indian arrivals from 3 cities and 2 airlines is anticipated to see continued market penetration and upside in 2020 and beyond.

Phuket’s developing surge has continued with 57 properties under development in the pipeline representing 15,277 new room keys. Over 50% of the incoming supply are hotel managed residences or real estate-led projects.

In 2020, 5,009 newsroom keys from 21 properties will enter the island hotel supply, a 6% increase. The majority of future pipeline developments are in upscale and midscale tiers.

You can read the full report HERE.

Crunching the numbers on Phuket's hotels - 2020 | News by The Thaiger

Crunching the numbers on Phuket's hotels - 2020 | News by The Thaiger

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Southeast Asia

Chinese scientists identify the ‘Wuhan Virus’. Screening continues on Thai-bound flights.

The Thaiger

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Chinese scientists identify the ‘Wuhan Virus’. Screening continues on Thai-bound flights. | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Screening continues at airports in Thailand receiving passengers from Wuhan in China

The mysterious pneumonia-like disease striking dozens of people in Wuhan, China, has now been identified as from the same family of viruses as the deadly SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome). This news from Chinese scientists today.

Earlier today The Thaiger reported that three Thais and a Chinese citizen had been detected arriving from Wuhan in the Hubei province with suspected viral symptoms comparable with a flu or viral pneumonia.

The scientists say they’ve found a new “coronavirus in 15 of 57 patients with the illness in the central city of Wuhan, saying it has been preliminarily identified as the pathogen for the outbreak”.

The news was reported on the Chinese state broadcaster CCTV.

“Coronaviruses” are a large family of viruses that can cause anything from the common cold (rhino virus) up to to SARS*. According to the WHO, some coronaviruses are able to transmit easily from person to person, while others can not.

The CCTV report went on to explain that the current ‘Wuhan Virus’, a coronavirus, appears to not be as lethal as SARS.

“Its symptoms are mainly fever, with a number of patients having difficulty breathing. Eight patients had recovered and been discharged from hospital as of Wednesday, and no deaths have been reported.” (Translated from CCTV)

This new viral outbreak was first detected in the city of Wuhan on December 12 last year. A total of 59 people have been identified as contracting the illness. Seven patients have been in a critical condition at some stage, according to Chinese health authorities. Authorities report that no healthcare workers have been infected.

Some of the patients were reported to have been employed at a seafood market in Wuhan. Local media reported the market also sold “other live animals, including birds, rabbits and snakes”. These reports sparked concerns that the virus might have been transmitted to humans from animals.

Six coronaviruses are known to infect humans — four of them typically cause the common cold, and the other two are SARS and MERS (the middle east respiratory syndrome, first identified in Saudi Arabia in 2012).

SARS infected more than 8,000 people and killed 774 in a pandemic that ripped through Asia and spread to 37 countries in 2002 and 2003.

In a statement today the World Health Organisation said that China’s preliminary identification of a “novel virus” in such a short period since its earliest identification, “demonstrates the country’s increased capacity to manage new outbreaks”.

Across Asia governments are now stepping up preventive measures such as airport temperature screening and requirements for notification in the wake of what is being referred to as the “Wuhan outbreak”.

Airports of Thailand says they are monitoring a the detection of any viral symptoms from Wuhan flights coming out of China. They say that six airports are now ready to cope with the situation by setting up international communicable diseases control checkpoints. Up to date four passengers – three Thai and one Chinese – have been detected and isolated pending further prognosis.

*World Health Organisation

Chinese scientists identify the 'Wuhan Virus'. Screening continues on Thai-bound flights. | News by The Thaiger

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