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Phuket business: Sports tourism “scores big’; Games to bring in B600mn

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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Phuket business: Sports tourism “scores big’; Games to bring in B600mn | The Thaiger

PHUKET: Defining and developing ‘Brand Phuket’ as a world class sports tourism destination was top of the agenda at a recent meeting of senior business people here.

Organized in collaboration with the Phuket PR Network and the Greater Phuket Chapter of the American Chamber of Commerce (AMCHAM), the meeting was held at the Thanyapura Sports and Leisure Club (TSLC) on May 24.

Discussions for were fueled by presentations from four keynote speakers: Debbie Dionysius, Paul Poole, Duncan Worthington and Nicholas Seaver.

The opening address was given by Gazette property columnist and Managing Director of the Phuket-based C9 Hotelworks, Bill Barnett.

Begging the question about the implications of sports tourism for “Phuket’s stakeholders”, Mr Barnett emphasized the lure of Phuket. “People who’ve moved to the island in the past few years [did so because they] were driven by the lifestyle, education and sporting opportunities available here.”

Following his observations, Natasha Eldred of the Phuket PR Network introduced the panel.

“When brand guru David Keen at an AMCHAM meeting [on November 30, 2011] asked the question ‘What is Phuket?’, no one was able to answer. The room fell completely silent,” she recalled.

“This silence reinforces the fact that no one has yet come up with a distinct brand image for Phuket. So at this meeting, the first of a planned five-part series, we will further explore and identify ‘Brand Phuket’,” she said.

In the opening presentation, Ms Dionysius, who is Head of Destination Marketing at Laguna Phuket, highlighted benchmark sporting events such as the Laguna Phuket Triathlon, the Phuket International Marathon, and the Ironman 70.3.

She argued that we should continue to build on and nurture the island’s reputation as a sports tourism destination, emphasizing the international reach and exposure that such events have fostered.

“We want to push forward the brand of Phuket for being a major sports tourism destination. We started the Laguna Phuket Triathlon in 1994 and we’ve come from a small race, where some triathlon athletes showed up from surrounding countries, to [being] one of the biggest triathlon competitions for athletes from across the world [to] attend.

“I believe we are on the right track to promote the Phuket brand as being the sport tourism destination,” she said.

By continuing to support and promote these kind of events, sports tourism and the island’s brand will become synonymous, she argued.

The ‘bottom line’ certainly speaks for itself. Last year, for example, independent surveys found that participants and spectators at the island’s world-renowned Kings Cup Regatta spent over 40 million baht on accommodations, food and beverages during the week of the prestigious sailing competition, according to Duncan Worthington, Media and Communications Director for that event.

Although sailing regattas serve a niche market, last year’s numbers support the notion that the Phuket’s Kings Cup is an increasingly valuable asset in terms of annual tourism income, Mr Worthington noted.

“The Phuket King’s Cup Regatta is known around the world as ‘the race to win’, attracting over 2,000 people from more than 30 countries joining the event. The top participating countries include Australia, the UK, Russia and Japan,” said Mr Worthington.

Going on to highlight the potential of the domestic market, Mr Worthington named golf, Muay Thai and even football as sports that we can expect to see and hear more of in Phuket’s future.

While more athletes and spectators equates to increased cash flow in the economy, meals, tickets and reservations are not the primary source of sports revenue.

A marketing veteran backed with nearly two decades of experience, Paul Poole focused his speech on the need to successfully integrate sponsorship into destination events. Mr Poole’s company, The Sponsorship Experts, currently coordinates sponsorship for dozens of events and agencies in Phuket.

“Sporting events get the most sponsorship throughout the world,” he said, adding that organizations should focus on segmentation for particular kinds of sponsorship using tier levels, and that events must offer clear and tangible incentives to companies.

The closing speaker was Nicholas Seaver, CEO of TSLC.

A Harvard graduate who has worked with former US Vice President Al Gore on climate-change, Mr Seaver said he moved to Phuket in order to pursue the vision of TSLC, which integrates the appeal of a luxurious resort destination with the facilities needed for world-class athletes to train.

“I’ve learned that the new trend in tourism aims toward health and wellness activities. That is why we provide a retreat center, an integrative health center and mind center… to attract new groups of tourists,” said Mr Seaver.

He highlighted how efforts to brand the TSLC facility as the most desirable sports center in Southeast Asia will benefit Phuket and help further the island’s brand positioning as a quality sports destination.

“We have a complete sports facility that is able to support all kinds of sports activities. The TSLC has a fitness center, aquatics academy, tennis academy, triathlon academy, rugby academy and football academy.

“We have hosted many important sports events, such as an ITF tennis tournament, the Phuket International Soccer 7s and the IronKids Triathlon. We’ve welcomed athletes to use our venue as a place to train – including the Netherlands’ National Triathlon Team and the Canadian National Synchronized Swimming Team,” said Mr Seaver.

But the TSLC’s efforts are not restricted to targeting professional athletes, he added.

“We also want to promote the center not only as a home for athletes and members, but also to tourists as a holistic wellness center,” he concluded.

The Phuket PR Network plans to continue its Brand Phuket series of seminars. For more info visit: phuketprnetwork.com.

Games to bring in B600mn

Hundreds of millions of baht will be in circulation on the island thanks to Thailand’s 28th National Youth Games which began on May 24 and will last through June 5.

Governor Tri Aukaradacha revealed the official projection during a visit to the Games’ press center at the Royal Phuket City Hotel on Sunday evening.

“We expect that this event will inject no less than 600 million baht into [the economy of] Phuket.”

“I have ordered the Department of Internal Trade to look after and regulate prices to be fair for all the organizers, athletes and spectators coming from other provinces across the country.

“Also, [I’ve asked them] to make brochures that can recommend products, whether food or souvenirs, to leave a good impression with visitors to Phuket. I’d like to ask all in Phuket and neighboring provinces to come out and cheer on the athletes who have come to compete in this event. This will encourage all of them [the athletes],” he concluded.

Dubbed ‘The Phuket Games,’ this is the second time Phuket has hosted the event, with more than 20,000 athletes, spectators and organizers estimated to take part. The first Phuket Games took place in 1990.

The Games’ mascot, now being sold in Phuket, has become a very popular souvenir.

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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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