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Building a medical tourism hub

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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Building a medical tourism hub | The Thaiger

PHUKET: Phuket has the potential to become a leading regional hub for medical tourism, an industry that is well positioned for exponential growth primarily led by the demand for aesthetic treatments. Investment opportunities in medical facilities and premises are increasingly attractive amid the backdrop of a global economic slowdown.

Despite the diminishing legacy market for ‘Gender Reassignment’ Surgery (GRS), more commonly known as Sex Change Operations, the market has continued to flourish by focusing on the global movement for beauty enhancement. Mergers and acquisition activity is high in Thailand’s medical sector, seeking to develop quality centers and facilities to cope with increasing demand from the growing Asian middle-class and a broader international audience.

Currently, the island’s major existing medical institutions include Phuket International Hospital (PIH) and Bangkok Phuket Hospital (BPH), while on the wellness side there are the Thanyapura Integrative Health Center, Dr Orawan, and the Radiant Medical Clinic among a growing list of new arrivals.

With Phuket’s high growth over the last decade, existing facilities have had a hard time coping with demand and now Australians and Chinese are beginning to consume more of the products and services of these medical institutions.

Nearly half of the medical tourists to Phuket come for cosmetic operations such as breast augmentation, which is the most popular procedure offered. These operations attracted more than 15,000 patients over the past five years at major hospitals. Recently, there is a surge in demand for anti-aging treatment driven by the influx of female patients from Mainland China. The number of medical tourist arrivals is rising consistently at an annual rate of over twenty per cent in recent years. The gloom surrounding the global economy has not altered the growth trajectory of the industry.

According to the findings presented in C9 Hotelworks’ recent Phuket Medical Tourism Market report, Australia has become the top nationality, making up close to half of all patients in the market and 70 per cent of cosmetic surgery clients. In light of the large number of appointment cancellations triggered by the Australian Dollar (AUD) to Thai Baht devaluation in 2015, we may see some shifts in geographic segments in 2016.

Competitive pricing is a significant advantage for Phuket in attracting travellers worldwide. The average expenditure per cosmetic surgery patient amounts to THB150,000 while the average spend on anti-aging treatments is about 80,000 baht in Phuket. These price points are attractive to the quality-conscious, yet price-sensitive visitors.

Most hospitals and clinics work with medical tour agents to promote packages that include treatment and holiday, thereby enhancing the island’s appeal to international patients.

The formation of the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) will in part catalyze intra-ASEAN cross-border investments. Healthcare services in many ASEAN countries will not be able to serve the needs of their rising middle-class populations. Therefore, more consumers from these countries, especially neighboring Vietnam and Myanmar, are expected to come to Phuket

Expanding market demand for aesthetic treatments is expected to lead the way for more investment in the medical industry. However, as the competition intensifies, it will trigger the development of non-aesthetic medical service segments such as disease treatments, with more hospitals and clinics venturing into this area to diversify their businesses and gain a competitive edge, further enhancing Phuket’s appeal as a medical hub.

Today’s wave of investment is just one of the trends enabling the market’s evolution. Beside the opportunities in green-field and brown-field projects across the industry, we are seeing significant convergence across different industry sectors. Medical institutions venturing into providing quality recuperation accommodations to patients, and similarly hotel groups investing in healthcare services, will blur the lines between medical service providers and facilities owners.

Bill Barnett is the Founder and Managing Director of C9 Hotelworks (C9Hotelworks.com), a leading Thailand-based hospitality and real estate consulting firm.

— Bill Barnett

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Archiving articles from the Phuket Gazette circa 1998 - 2017. View the Phuket Gazette online archive and Digital Gazette PDF Prints.

Thailand

Facebook removes “information-influencing” pages linked to Thai military

Maya Taylor

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Facebook removes “information-influencing” pages linked to Thai military | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Facebook

Facebook has confirmed the removal of 185 accounts run by the Thai military and allegedly involved in information-influencing. The social media giant says the accounts were deleted for engaging in what it calls, “coordinated inauthentic behaviour”. In total, 77 accounts, 72 pages, and 18 groups have been removed from the platform, in addition to 18 Instagram accounts. It’s the first time Facebook has taken such action against accounts linked to the Thai government.

The accounts were associated with the Thai military and were targeting people in the southern provinces, Facebook said its regular report on coordinated inauthentic behavior. The south of the country has been the scene of decades-long conflict, with insurgent groups in the majority-Muslim, Malay-speaking region calling for independence. To date, around 7,000 people have died in the ongoing struggle.

Facebook says the deleted accounts were most active last year and used both fake and real accounts to manage pages and groups, both openly military pages and pages that hid their links to the military. Some of the fake profiles pretended to be people from the southern provinces.

The report mentioned a post by the now-removed account named “comprehending the operation” in Thai. The page posted the logo for Amnesty International Thailand and wrote “The NGO never cares about ordinary citizens because they have no role in society. Normal people are not famous. Any case is not big news. They are not worth the investment of foreigners so they will not do anything to help. This is why we don’t see anything from the NGO.”

Facebook removes “information-influencing” pages linked to Thai military | News by The Thaiger

Image overlay translates to “The NGO never cares about ordinary citizens because they have no role nor money.”

On another now-removed account, named “truth about my home Pattani” in Thai, a post said “Muslim leader declares southern border is a peace zone. The southern separatists started a movement by spreading the idea that Thailand is under control by different believers so that people would come and fight for their religion. This was declared that the action clearly violates Islam faith.”

Facebook removes “information-influencing” pages linked to Thai military | News by The Thaiger

Image overlay translates to “Southern border is not Jihad zone.”

When contacted by Reuters, the military had no comment on the removal of the Facebook accounts, with a spokesman saying the organisation does not comment outside of official press conferences.

The head of Cybersecurity Policy at Facebook, Nathaniel Gleicher, has confirmed the reasons behind the platform’s decision.

“This is the first time that we’ve attributed one of our takedowns to links to the Thai military. We found clear links between this operation and the Internal Security Operations Command. We can see that all of these accounts and groups are tied together as part of this operation.”

He adds that the accounts had spent around US$350 on advertising on both Facebook and Instagram. One or more of the pages had about 700,000 followers and at least one of the groups had 100,000 members. Gleicher says the accounts were removed because of their misleading behaviour and not because of the content being posted. The content included support for the military and the monarchy, with allegations of violence and criticism of insurgent groups in the south.

It’s not the first time accounts linked to the Thai military have been removed by a social media platform. In October, Twitter removed 926 accounts it says had links to the army and posted pro-military and pro-government content. The Thai army has denied any involvement with the accounts in question. In November, Twitter also suspended an account posting pro-monarchy content that was found to have links to the palace and to thousands of other accounts posting similar content.

To read the February 2021 Coordinated Inauthentic Behavior Report, click HERE.

SOURCES: Reuters| Facebook

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Central Thailand

Airline executive arrested for failure to pay wages of 150 workers

Maya Taylor

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Airline executive arrested for failure to pay wages of 150 workers | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Wikimedia

An airline executive has been arrested in the central province of Samut Songkhram, after complaints from150 employees that they had not been paid. Chawengsak Noiprasan, who had a court warrant issued against him in October, was taken to Don Muang police station from a property in the Bang Khan Take sub-district. He is a board member of Siam Air Transport.

The airline began operations in October 2014 with services out of Don Mueang to Hong Kong, using 2 Boeing 737-300s. 2 Boeing 737-800s were added to its fleet in late 2015. It expanded by adding Zhengzhou and Guangzhou in China to its network in early 2015. In late 2015, the airline launched flights to Macau and Singapore. In 2017, the airline ceased all operations.

But according to an article in the Bangkok Post, the carrier operates a number of scheduled and charter flights from Bangkok’s Don Mueang Airport. The Post reports that, as Chawengsak signs the company’s legal paperwork, all legal matters concerning the airline fall to him.

The Metropolitan Police Bureau says the executive has admitted to ignoring a 30 day notice issued by the labour inspector and ordering the payment of wages to 150 workers. It’s understood he is also wanted in relation to 7 other cases.

The authorities sought Chawengsak’s arrest following complaints from employees who say they haven’t received their wages for 2 months. It’s understood the airline had previously deferred salary payments for over 8 months. 150 workers filed an official complaint with Don Mueang police and also approached media outlets, asking them to pressure the airline into paying the money owed.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Business

Governments & old media versus social media – who will win? | VIDEO

The Thaiger

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Governments & old media versus social media – who will win? | VIDEO | The Thaiger

We look at the recent changes made by the Australian and Indian governments to except control over the world’s biggest social media platforms. India has issued strict new rules for Facebook, Twitter and other social media platforms just weeks after the Indian government attempted to pressure Twitter to take down social media accounts it deemed, well, anti social. There is now an open battle between the rise of social media platforms and the governments and ‘old’ media that have been able to maintain a certain level of control over the ‘message’ for the last century. Who will win?

The rules require any social media company to create three roles within India… a “compliance officer” who ensures they follow local laws; a “grievance officer” who addresses complaints from Indian social media users; and a “contact person” who can actually be contacted by lawyers and other aggrieved Indian parties… 24/7.

The democratisation of the news model, with social media as its catalyst, will continue to baffle traditional media and governments who used to enjoy a level of control over what stories get told. The battles of Google and Facebook, with the governments of India and Australia will be followed in plenty of other countries as well.

At the root of all discussions will be the difference between what governments THINK social media is all about and the reality about how quickly the media landscape has changed. You’ll get to read about it first, on a social media platform… probably on the screen you’re watching this news story right now.

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