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“Phuket needs a world class exhibition and convention centre”

The Thaiger

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“Phuket needs a world class exhibition and convention centre” | The Thaiger

“Two key developments we are tracking is Central Festivals next phase of expansion and Proud Groups Andamanda project that both have significant concerence, meeting and incentive space.”

Plans to promote Phuket as a world-class MICE (meetings, incentives, conventions, exhibitions) location are being obstructed by many impediments – inefficient town planning, poor transport systems and poor availability of land in tourist locations.

Dusida Worrachaddejchai writes that Phuket’s deputy governor says the province has a blueprint to build an exhibition and convention hall to host international events with a capacity up to 5,000. But he said that town planning rules forbid building a hall larger than 6,000 square metres with a hight greater than 23 metres.

The prohibition for a proper convention hall by town planning appears to be one of the few projects impeded by lax town planning laws.

The project has been talked about for decades with Phuket’s potential as an active MICE venue being hampered by the lack of facilities, principally a large convention and exhibition centre.

If some provisions of the current town planning act for Phuket can be amended, the likely destination for a convention centre would be Thalang district. The deputy governor says he hopes it can be built in a few years and make Phuket able to bid for international events and expos.

But Thalang, although within 15 minutes of the Phuket International Airport, has little offer convention and exhibition delegates with most of the beaches and tourist infrastructure on the island’s southern coastal areas (Patong, Kata, Karon).

C9hotelworks’ Bill Barnett says proper MICE facilities have been a long time coming for Phuket.

“Phuket hotel developers are finally seeing the signifigance of the MICE trade. Two key developments we are tracking is Central Festivals next phase of expansion and Proud Groups Andamanda project that both have significant concerence, meeting and incentive space. TCEB ae active in the working on Phuket as a MICE destination so we see the future direction as positive, at last.”

Meanwhile the Thai government has foreshadowed that five Thai cities will be earmarked as MICE locations – Phuket, along with Chiang Mai, Khon Kaen, Pattaya and Bangkok. The deptuty governor sprouted Phuket’s existing MICE credentials – 600 hotels offering 40,000 guest rooms, 220 convention rooms, 615 meeting rooms, 14 piers and four private marinas. But these facilities are spread all over the island with poor access and almost no public transportation.

Plans for a world class convention centre have been brought up from time to time over the past two decades with provincial officials huffing and puffing about the need for a proper facility for the growing island but, so far, nothing has happened and the island remains a leading tourist destination with little attraction for larger conferences, exhibitions and events.

In the past the private sector – primarily Central Group and Jungceylon – have indicated their interest to build a convention hall in the Patong area. But town planning issues and the ever-dwindling available land in the seaside city have shelved any progress.

Southern beach locations, with excellent hotels, shopping and beaches – Karon and Kata – have also been flagged as potential locations but access, especially from the airport, remains poor. Travel times to the southern beaches from the airport is at least an hour and involves trips across the notorious hills roads at either Patong or Kata.

Progress on the Patong Tunnel has also stalled with successive governments unable to progress the project.

The government should improve mass transport from the airport to Patong and other western coast districts in Phuket, namely Karon, to facilitate large groups such as Mice travellers that require more than buses and vans, Ms Chalermluck said.

Last year, more than 2 million visitors arrived in Phuket for MICE events, generating 19.5 billion baht in income. But MICE industry proponents say that number could be easily tripled with a proper convention and exhibition venue.

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Fish sauce excluded from Thailand’s proposed tax on salty foods

May Taylor

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Fish sauce excluded from Thailand’s proposed tax on salty foods | The Thaiger

PHOTO: Cook’s Illustrated

Thailand’s Excise Department and Public Health Ministry is considering a levy on salty foods in an attempt to tackle the sodium-rich diets of Thai citizens, and the health consequences.

The director general of the Excise Department, Patchara Anuntasilpa says the tax would be calculated based on the amount of salt in a product, with the proposal being sent to Finance Minister Uttama Savanayana by year end.

Fish sauce is a liquid condiment made from fish or krill that have been coated in salt and fermented for up to two years.[1][2]:234 It is used as a staple seasoning in East Asian cuisine and Southeast Asian cuisine, particularly south east Asia and Taiwan. Following widespread recognition of its ability to impart a savoury umami flavor to dishes, it has been embraced globally by chefs and home cooks.

“If the tax is approved, we will allow entrepreneurs one or two years to reduce the salt content and launch a less-salty version of their product.”

The World Health Organisation and the UN both recommend taxing foods with a high salt content, saying increased sodium intake leads to high blood pressure, cancer and kidney and heart disease.

The Nation reports however, that while the proposal is to levy the tax on frozen and canned foods, along with processed items such as instant noodles, seasoning such as fish sauce and snacks like potato chips would be excluded.

The Federation of Thai Industries has pledged to cooperate with the government’s effort to improve the health of Thailand’s citizens, but its head Wisit Limluecha says he is not in favour of taxing popular seasonings, snacks, frozen or instant foods.

“Research has found that these foods represent only 20% of what we eat each day, and everyone has different eating habits, so the better solution would be to advise consumers on how to eat healthily.”

Wisit warns that the tax may damage the country’s competitiveness in the food sector both overseas and in Thailand, where imported products are easily available. He also voices concern that small businesses will suffer if unable to afford ingredient and packaging changes.

SOURCE: The Nation

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500 people own 36% of equity in Thai companies

Greeley Pulitzer

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500 people own 36% of equity in Thai companies | The Thaiger

Roughly 36% of Thailand’s corporate equity is held by just 500 people, highlighting wealth inequality in the Kingdom, according to a study released by the Bank of Thailand’s research institute.

Each of these 500 amass some 3.1 billion baht (102 million USD) per year in company profits, according to the report from the Puey Ungphakorn Institute for Economic Research. In contrast, average yearly household income in Thailand is around 10,000 USD.

A report out this week from the Economic and Business Research Centre for Reform at Thailand’s Rangsit University also pointed to divisive and polarised politics being another root cause of the economic divide.

Thailand’s private sector is dominated by tycoons running sprawling conglomerates. According to the World Bank, the gap between the mega-wealthy and the rest of the Thai population of 69 million is among the many economic challenges for Thailand. According to Bloomberg, the perception of a divide, exacerbated by an economic slowdown, is a major political fault line.

“Magnates arise in Thailand from institutional factors that privilege certain businesses,” said the executive director of PIER, author of the study.

The institute said Thailand needs to promote competitiveness to reduce profits from monopoly power and bolster entrepreneurship to create a more equitable distribution of corporate wealth.

The research is based on analysis of 2017 Commerce Ministry data on the 2.1 million shareholders in Thai firms, and was funded by the University of California San Diego.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Thai Airways must modify rehabilitation plan to survive: Airline President

The Thaiger & The Nation

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Thai Airways must modify rehabilitation plan to survive: Airline President | The Thaiger

PHOTO: gta5-mods.com

“Thai Airways will have to modify its rehabilitation plans to survive in the face of tight competition.” This frank admission by the airline’s president Sumet Damrongchaith.

The national carrier is now carrying a total debt of over 2.45 billion baht and losses of more than 20 billion, despite being able to reduce its debts by 48 billion baht over the past five years.

Sumet says the first step will be to restructure the airline’s management and finances as well as reconsider its plan to spend 1.5 billion baht on 38 new aircraft. He admits the biggest problem is that Thai Airways has low capital but a high debt-to-equity ratio of eight times.

In order to maintain its competitiveness, the carrier will have to reduce its debts versus assets and boost its working capital with support from the ministries of Transport and Finance. Hence, it plans to borrow approximately 3.2 billion baht in fiscal 2020 in line with the budget limit set by the Office of Public Debt Management.

This loan will be taken to support the airline’s investments as well as for its working capital, to update equipment and maintain existing aircraft, but will not be used to repay old debts.

The Nation also reports that the airline is also concerned about maintaining its liquidity because at the end of June this year, its revolving credit line stood at 13.4% of the total revenue forecast for 2019.

Sumet admits that, though the original rehabilitation plan has a set framework, the situation has now changed due to the appreciation of the baht, so in order to achieve goals, the work method has to be redesigned, such as finding a way to procure more passengers.

“We are now in the process of analysing new markets.”

Meanwhile, Thai Aiways’ board chairman Aek-Niti Nitithan-Praphas says the board is reconsidering plans to procure a new fleet taking into consideration the state of the global and domestic economies as well as the US-China trade war.

“The growth of the tourism industry and the airlines’ financial status needs to be reviewed in line with strong competition and routes that are no longer popular. It’s better to carefully revise the plan instead of exposing the airline to greater risk. The target should be reduce expenses by 20%.”

Meanwhile, Thai Airways aims to boost the sale of tickets, find ways of increasing online shopping of duty-free goods and reducing unnecessary expenses by 10%without affecting the quality of service in the last three months of 2019.

The airline is also negotiating the option of cutting down overtime expenses and is looking into curbing losses incurred by it’s semi-budget offshoot Thai Smile by increasing its flying hours to 10.5 hours daily. These steps are expected to help the airline reach breakeven point in the short term.

The airline is also considering long-term goals such roping in more passengers by offering greater benefits to Royal Orchid Plus members, focusing on digital marketing, retiring non-performing assets as well as increasing revenue from related businesses such as kitchens and aircraft repair centres.

SOURCE: The Nation

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