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Phuket Business: Head of airport expects arrivals to exceed 10.5mn

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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Phuket Business: Head of airport expects arrivals to exceed 10.5mn | The Thaiger
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PHUKET: The director of Phuket International Airport (HKT) expects passenger arrivals to exceed 10.5 million by the end of this year, with related profits expected to be no less than two billion baht.

HKT director Prathuang Sorn-kham said that the airport is fully prepared to provide increased conveniences for passengers ahead of the its 5 billion baht expansion project, due for completion by 2015.

A number of upgrades currently underway will enable the airport to comfortably handle the target of 12.5mn passengers per year.

Mr Prathuang said that passengers coming to Phuket during this period, just ahead of the rainy season (which up until only recently, was traditionally considered tourism’s ‘dry season’) have increased by 12% over the same period last year.

He noted that the average arrival rate is now around 34,000 to 35,000 passengers a day, compared to this time last year, when there were about 28,000 arrivals per day.

He added that HKT’s profit in 2012 was about 1.85bn baht, up 300mn baht from 2011.

Meanwhile, he expects the airport’s profit by the end of 2013 to be around 2bn baht, most of which will be generated by passengers and airlines.

Mr Prathuang explained that such profit derives from rental fees and taxes paid by airlines and other retailers based at the airport, but does not factor in the spending or expenditures of tourists once they leave the airport.

In response to the increasing passenger load ahead of 2015, HKT has already added a new x-ray machine at the check-in counters, bringing the total now to four machines.

Also, the airport has doubled the amount of x-ray machines in the airplane boarding area, up to eight from four, previously.

He went on to confirm that a new warehouse is currently under construction and will be completed in about eight to ten months.

The construction of five new airplane stands is also underway, which will increase the total from 15 to 20 stands. These are expected to be ready for use by the end of 2014, he said.

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Thailand producing over 4 million face masks a day

Maya Taylor

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Thailand producing over 4 million face masks a day | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Mika Baumeister on Unsplash

An increase in production facilities means Thailand is now producing 4.2 million face masks a day, leading to a growing surplus. A report in Nation Thailand says Internal Trade Director Vichai Pochanakit says producers in China are once again exporting the raw materials needed for mask production.

The Thai government is now looking at ways to manage a daily surplus of more than 1 million face masks. It currently purchases 3 million masks a day from 16 factories. Of these, the Public Health Ministry takes 1.8 million and is now understood to have amassed more than a month’s supply. The Interior Ministry gets 1.2 million masks a day, with officials now in talks to distribute extra masks to organisations that may need them, such as airlines.

Officials have also decided to extend Thailand’s ban on the export of masks until at least February 2021. An exception is being made for certain categories of masks, including those produced under Board of Investment tax incentives specifically for the export market, those that filter out chemical particles, and masks exported to embassies in foreign countries.

SOURCE: Nation Thailand

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“Come and see” – Ministry invites diplomats to see coconut-picking monkeys in action

The Thaiger

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“Come and see” – Ministry invites diplomats to see coconut-picking monkeys in action | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Atlas Obscura

The monkeys, and the Thai government, are hitting back at accusations macaque monkeys are being exploited, even abused, and forced to pick coconuts for commercial farmers. Some larger western retailers say they’re going to pull Thai coconut products off their shelves after being lobbied by animal rights activist that the coconuts were picked by abused and over-worked macaque monkeys.

The Thai Commerce Ministry, coconut farmers and the “monkey school” trainers are dismissing reports, and a dramatic video from PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animal), that the coconut-picking monkeys are maltreated. So they’re organising a tour for foreign diplomats and the media to see the monkeys at work and decide for themselves.

The permanent secretary for commerce, responding to the reports, says the monkey owners don’t abuse or exploit the animals which have been “humanely trained” to pick coconuts. He has instructed attaches in foreign Thai embassies to provide an explanation to retailers in other countries who have expressed concerns and even instigated boycotts.

“The ministry is ready to invite foreign diplomats to visit coconut plantations and see how the monkeys pick coconuts so they will realise this is not animal cruelty.”

The Bangkok Post reports that Pramual Pongthawaradej, a Demo­crat Party MP for Prachuap Khiri Khan province, the Chair of a House subcommittee tackling falling coconut prices, says they’ve approached owners of coconut milk plants to justify their practices to PETA. They’ve also asked the Department of Agriculture to provide details regarding the use of monkeys to pick coconuts.

A video from Touronthai shows an operating monkey-school posted 4 years ago…

But Somjai Saekow, an owner of a monkey school which trains macaques in Surat Thani, says… “the practice of capturing monkeys from the wild to pick coconuts ceased a long time ago”.

“Currently, monkeys are bred and raised before being trained. They are not forced to pick 1,000 coconuts from trees everyday, and they don’t work every day.

“Coconut-picking monkeys are mostly males and their abilities vary. The owner of the monkey receives 2 baht per a coconut picked.”

“Foreigners may not understand our livelihood. Also, humans are not built to climb up a coconut tree to pick fruit. They will be at risk, compared to monkeys which have the natural ability to do so.”

An owner of monkeys in Surat Thani, denied the claims of poor treatment or abuse of the coconut-picking monkeys.

“There is no cruelty. Actually, they are looked after well. They are fed well with rice, milk, and fruit three times a day. They are treated like family members.”

PETA claims pigtailed macaques in Thailand were treated like “coconut-picking machines”.

“Following PETA’s investigation, more than 15,000 stores will no longer purchase these brands’ products, with the majority also no longer buying any coconut products sourced from Thailand monkey labour.”

PETA said it had found 8 farms around Thailand where monkeys had been forced to pick coconuts for commercial export.

“Male monkeys are able to pick up to 1,000 coconuts a day.”

“Other coconut-growing regions, including Brazil, Colombia and Hawaii, harvest coconuts using humane methods such as tractor-mounted hydraulic elevators, willing human tree-climbers, rope or platform systems, or ladders, or they plant dwarf coconut trees.”

“PETA went further by calling on “decent people never to support the use of monkey labour by shunning coconut products from Thailand”.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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PETA reveals ‘abused’ monkeys used to pick coconuts in Thailand

The Thaiger

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PETA reveals ‘abused’ monkeys used to pick coconuts in Thailand | The Thaiger
PHOTO: PETA

A boycott is in full swing amongst western retailers to pull Thai coconut products off their shelves following allegations that the coconuts have been picked by monkeys who were ‘abused’ to learn how to pick coconuts. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals director, Elisa Allen, claims the macaque monkeys are “snatched from the wild” and cruelly trained to climb up coconut trees and pick up to 1,000 coconuts a day.

“These curious, highly intelligent animals are denied psychological stimulation, companionship, freedom, and everything else that would make their lives worth living, all so that they can be used to gather coconuts.”

PETA says that the Thai pigtailed macaques are treated like “coconut-picking machines”. A new investigation into Thailand’s coconut industry reveals the monkeys are confined to cramped cages, chained, and forced to work. PETA reports that the monkeys are used by commercial farms that supply 2 of Thailand’s best-known coconut milk brands, Aroy-D and Chaokoh. Both brands are exported EU countries and the US.

In the UK, Waitrose, Ocado, Co-op and Boots have now announced they will stop selling some coconut products from Thailand. A spokesperson for Tesco told the BBC… “Our own-brand coconut milk and coconut water does not use monkey labour in its production and we don’t sell any of the branded products identified by PETA”.

“Following PETA’s Asia’s investigation, more than 15,000 stores will no longer purchase these brands’ products, with the majority also no longer buying any coconut products sourced from Thailand monkey labour.”

PETA has shared a video narrated by Downton Abbey star Peter Egan. According to PETA, the video shows ‘monkeys pacing and circling endlessly on chains… confined to cramped cages with no shelter from the rain… forced to climb trees and pick coconuts for milk sold by major brands’.

PETE claims it had found 8 farms in Thailand where monkeys were forced to pick coconuts for export around the world. Male monkeys can pick up to 1,000 coconuts in a day. It’s thought that a human can pick about 80.

“Other coconut-growing regions, including Brazil, Colombia and Hawaii, harvest coconuts using humane methods such as tractor-mounted hydraulic elevators, willing human tree-climbers, rope or platform systems, or ladders, or they plant dwarf coconut trees.”

The group said it has uncovered “monkey schools”, where the macaque species monkeys are trained to pick coconuts, fruit, as well as ride bikes or play basketball for the entertainment of tourists.

“The animals at these facilities, many of whom are illegally captured as babies, displayed stereotypic behaviour indicative of extreme stress.”

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