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30 dolphins greet visitors to Similan Islands

Jack Burton

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30 dolphins greet visitors to Similan Islands | The Thaiger
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Tourists were treated to the sight of a school of dolphins in the Similan Islands off the Phang Nga coast on Sunday.

Tour organisers said that around 30 dolphins swam close to the boat six or seven miles offshore, creating excitement for passengers. It was the first time dolphins had been seen in the vicinity since October 15.

The Similan Islands National Park director said they were bottlenose dolphins and were among several species now returning to the area following a five-year closure of the park for environmental rehabilitation. Food is again plentiful there for them, he said.

Tourists are forbidden to feed wildlife lest the free handouts alter the animals’ natural behaviour, and the park’s waters are also very sensitive to contamination from human disease and marine debris, according to the director.

SOURCE: nationthailand.com

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Jack Burton is an American writer, broadcaster, linguist and journalist who has lived in Asia since 1987. A native of the state of Georgia, he attended the The University of Georgia's Henry Grady School of Journalism, which hands out journalism's prestigious Peabody Awards. His works have appeared in The China Post, The South China Morning Post, The International Herald Tribune and many magazines throughout Asia and the world. He is fluent in Mandarin and has appeared on television and radio for decades in Taiwan, Mainland China, Hong Kong and Macau.

Tourism

Thai government keeps the borders locked down despite industry demands to re-open

The Thaiger

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Thai government keeps the borders locked down despite industry demands to re-open | The Thaiger

Despite progress in vaccines and the hard lobbying from Thailand’s tourism and hospitality industries, the Kingdom is destined to miss out on the 2010/2021 high season. The Thai Minster for Sports and Tourism, Pipat Ratchakitprakan, says that the government is looking to March/April in 2021 as the earliest date for any return to general tourism.

For now travellers still have to go through a long list of Thai red tape, certificates and trying to find flights into Thailand. And when they arrive, all travellers will face 14 days in quarantine, at their own expense. Even the new Special Tourist Visa hasn’t been very special at all with only a handful of takers for the long-stay visa.

Thailand’s hotel operators and tourism industry players were hoping for a broader re-opening plan so they could make the best of the traditional high season, usually late November to the end of February each year. That isn’t going to happen now.

With many of the country’s traditional feeder markets having to weather a current surge in cases, except China, there wouldn’t be many takers anyway. Even the Chinese are mostly prohibited from travelling for now.

A drag in the plans to re-open the borders is likely to push more Thai and foreign-owned tourism and hospitality businesses to the wall, unable to ‘hang on’ for another 4 months, or longer.

The Thai Hotel Association and The Thailand Travel Agents Association have been lobbying, even demanding, the Thai government to drop its mandatory quarantine provisions and urgently negotiate travel bubble with provinces in China and other nations that are currently “low risk” for Covid-19, including Singapore, Vietnam, South Korea, Australia, New Zealand and Taiwan.

Andrew J Wood, the President of Skål International Bangkok, says that it’s becoming increasingly evident that the damage being inflicted to Thailand’s massive travel and tourism industry is proving to be critical with “deep long lasting structural economic damage that is set to worsen rather than improve”.

“With the current official mindset of allowing the industry, that employs millions in Thailand, to be sacrificed; thrown to the covid wolf with no meaningful financial lifelines, left to fend for itself and potentially fail. With no hope of borders being opened by mid 2021, even with the introduction of vaccines in key feeder markets, there is confusion and a leadership vacuum in our industry.”

But Minister Pipat says everything is on hold at this stage and that the Thai PM Prayut Chan-o-cha is urging caution in regards to any wholesale easing of restrictions.

“The country will continue with opening to businessmen, technical experts, high level workers and those in the medical field for now. 14 day quarantine will continue for now with many countries still in the grip of the pandemic.”

He also noted that even Chinese officials are advising caution and suggest waiting until the hot season next year (mid year). There were small outbreaks in 3 cities in China in the middle of November, less than 10 cases in each city, where Chinese health officials rolled out quick-response lockdown teams for the affected communities.

But Andrew Wood makes it clear that any entry to Thailand by tourists involves 14 day quarantine is destined to fail.

“I am sure I am not the only person to say this, but let me say loudly and clearly that tourism promotions with 2 weeks quarantine WILL FAIL. Now vaccines are starting to be introduce lets look at other low risk options for borders to be gradually opened. I plead to the government to allow this. Otherwise the structural damage to our tourism economy will take us until 2025 to repair.”

“A recent survey suggested that 57% of global tourism will have been wiped out by the pandemic by the end of 2020. In Thailand this figure will be nearer to 80% and highlighted Bangkok as the destination which will see the sharpest drop in the world. Thailand will lose 2.1 trillion baht (US$69.7billion) in income before the end of the year in lost tourism revenue.”

The Minister, indeed the Thai government and the CCSA, appear to be bowing to survey after survey which shows Thai people, around the country, are in favour of keeping the borders closed for now, despite the country’s tourism and hospitality industry being decimated by the government’s policies.

The recent spate of cases in northern Thailand, currently an evolving story, will give the risk-averse Thai government increased impetus to keep a tight control on its borders in the short to medium term.

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Business

FazWaz accelerates growth in SE Asia property market with latest funding round

The Thaiger

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FazWaz accelerates growth in SE Asia property market with latest funding round | The Thaiger

FazWaz, a leading real estate transaction marketplace headquartered in Bangkok, has raised a new round of funding to accelerate growth into 2021. Serial investor and Online Marketplaces Chairman Simon Baker via CAV Investment Group says he’s been closely following FazWaz for the last 3 years since they first attended our Property Portal Watch Conferences in 2017.

“I believe that their mission to use technology to streamline the end-to-end real estate transaction process is the future for real estate sales. Brennan Campbell and his team are very well positioned to be a global leader in real estate e-transactions.”

The latest round of funding will be used to invest further into the marketing, data and technology to ultimately drive FazWaz brand awareness and grow its market share. FazWaz had gone against the traditional startup route and remained 100% bootstrapped for its first 4 years of business while showing 100% growth year on year.

Also participating in the funding round for FazWaz were 500Tuk Tuks, Aries Capital (Indonesian family fund), and Alpha Founders Capital.

Having been launched just under 5 years ago by expat entrepreneurs Paul Trayman, Brennan Campbell and Michael Kenner, the brand has expanded across south east Asia with the latest country launch being Cambodia in November. The portal is looking to digitise property transactions in the country and can count some 500,000 visitors per month to its main Thai site having overtaken some big names to rank in the top 3 property portal sites in the country.

Brennan Campbell, Founder & CEO of FazWaz, says that we now live in an on-demand, digital-first society where users want efficient access to products and services at the click of a button.

“The real estate industry is no different and users are demanding a better online search and offline service experience. As a mission-driven business, the funding and expertise brought on in this round of investment moves us closer to our goal of empowering consumers to make more efficient and informed real estate decisions.”

FazWaz is one of an increasing number of property marketplaces with an end-to-end model that seeks to bring transactions online with users able to make an offer directly on the platform.

Johannes von Rohr, General Partner at Alpha Founders Capital says that Thailand’s proptech (property technology) scene is seeing an exciting amount of activity with two well-known major M&A deals in 2020, one being for Kaidee.com and another being Hipflat.com.

“At the same time, a large amount of investment pours into startups tackling the fragmented real estate market. FazWaz re-envision the real estate sales process with technology. We are excited to back FazWaz as they now enter into the next significant phase of growth.”

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Thailand

Thai jasmine 105 scoops top prize in world’s best rice competition

Maya Taylor

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Thai jasmine 105 scoops top prize in world’s best rice competition | The Thaiger
PHOTO: www.hot-thai-kitchen.com

Competition judges seeking the world’s best-tasting rice have awarded the top prize to Thailand’s jasmine 105. The rice was named best-tasting at the 12th World Rice Conference, an online event this year, held from Tuesday to Thursday this week.

After the Thai Rice Exporters’ Association added the 105 jasmine to the competition line-up, it was judged the world’s best after scoring top marks in all criteria, including taste, smell, texture, and shape. The judges chose jasmine 105 following a blind test.

In Thai, jasmine 105 is known as hom mali, or by the agricultural name, Khao Dawk Mali 105. It last won the world’s best rice contest in 2017 but was beaten by Cambodia and then Vietnam in the intervening years.

SOURCE: Nation Thailand

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