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Phuket now has a world class shopping hub

Tim Newton

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by Tim Newton

The population of Thailand is around 70 million people. I think most of them were at the opening night of the new Central Floresta on September 10.

As far as openings go this must have put a smile on the Central owners and management involved in bringing this new shopping experience to fruition – it was a triumph in every respect.

If you were driving past over the weekend you must have thought, as I did, that there was no way the new shining light of the Central Pattana Group was possibly going to be ready. Little did we know that the hard work was all happening behind the facade and once the scaffolding came down on Sunday, voila, there it was.

Phuket now has a (sorry, I’m going to use the hackneyed phrase) world class shopping precinct in the heart of the island. A ‘central’ retail district to rival anything else in Thailand, outside Bangkok. Surely the intersection will now continue to attract more investment and the area will evolve into the island’s premier shopping zone – clearly this is the plan and what Central Pattana are hoping for.

Everything about the new Central Floresta is well above predictions – from the parking (there’s plenty), the range of stores, the excellent food court, the imaginative design, the decor, lighting – it’s all outstanding. Particularly pleasing is the integration, just about everywhere you look, of ‘Thainess’ but with a Phuket flavour. The Peranakan architectural motifs adorn the food court, the lofty statues and sculptures are highly imaginative and add spectacle to the open spaces.

Whilst some of the better-known luxury brands are missing at the moment there are still plenty of high-end luxury brands and a few new ones as well.

I am sure we will be calling the two sides of the road ‘the old Central’ and ‘the new Central’ in the short-term, but can imagine there will be a time when the two will morph into one precinct we’ll simply call ‘Central’.

Phuket went a few notches up the retail ladder yesterday when the new store opened its doors. Apart from Thailand’s best beaches, the island can now boast an international shopping precinct as a key attraction – it was lacking in the past with Patong’s Jungceylon looking tired and Central Festival in need of a modern interpretation. The retail scene is changing a lot faster than developers seem to be able to cope with.

For the ‘locals’ who yearn for the Phuket of old – the little Thai tropical paradise with the cheap bars and tacky beach restaurants – it’s long gone and it’s not coming back. Thailand’s largest companies and biggest investors are spending big and the biggest international brands keep coming, investing in new projects, raising the stakes and the quality of the island’s offerings.

In the next few years we have the opening of one of the most spectacular water theme parks in Asia opening up (Blue Tree in Cherng Talay), a classy new Mandarin Hotel at Laem Singh on the west coast, the opening of the MontAzure properties at Kamala and a list of other new developments currently pending announcement – all taking Phuket up a notch.

Phuket now has a world class shopping hub | News by The Thaiger

The new food hall on the lower floor is immense with something for every budget and taste. And a floating market!

Phuket will never be the same; it’s growing and evolving into an urban island for tourists – the ‘Hawaii of South East Asia’ (as I heard someone describe it last night – thanks Harry). If you really want to live the 1990’s Phuket you can still find a similar lifestyle north of the island, down around Trang, parts of Krabi or even up around the northern parts of Phuket. But the island is now on a one-way trajectory to become Thailand’s most recognised international brand.

So congratulations Central Pattana for having the vision and coming up with something we can all enjoy and that tourists will appreciate. Floresta is a welcome addition and will surely encourage other shopping zones on the island to invest and catch up, otherwise be left behind.

But wait, there’s more coming. The new shopping precinct has three themed attractions to open yet and an enormous Aquarium as well.

Check out Floresta but leave yourself a morning or afternoon – there’s plenty to absorb.

We were at the opening yesterday when the shutters went up…

Central Floresta is open. We were there.

PHUKETIt’s open. We were at the new Central Floresta in the opening moments.

Posted by The Thaiger on Sunday, September 9, 2018

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Tim Newton has lived in Thailand since 2012. An Australian, he has worked in the media, principally radio and TV, for nearly 40 years. He has won the Deutsche Welle Award for best radio talk program, presented 3,900 radio news bulletins in Thailand alone, hosted 450 daily TV news programs, produced 1,800 videos, TV commercials and documentaries and is now the General Manager and writer for The Thaiger. He's reported for CNN, Deutsche Welle TV, CBC, Australia's ABC TV and Australian radio during the 2018 Cave Rescue.

Business

Approval sought for multi-billion-baht Phuket medical hub

Maya Taylor

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Approval sought for multi-billion-baht Phuket medical hub | The Thaiger
Mai Khao beach in north Phuket - PHOTO: www.makemytrip.com

Industry officials are seeking the go-ahead for a project to transform over 140 rai of government land in Phuket into a world-leading medical hub. The project is budgeted at 3 – 4 billion baht, depending on which report you read. Kitkong Tantijaraswarodom, from the Federation of Thai Industries, believes the development of a medical and wellness hub in the sub-district of Mai Khao, north Phuket, will help revive the southern island’s battered economy. Phuket has become increasingly reliant on a steady flow of tourists over the past 2 decades.

The southern division of the FTI covers Phuket, Krabi, Phang Nga, Nakhon Si Thammarat, Trang, Patthalung, Surat Thani, Ranong, Satun, Chumphon, and Songkhla.

“The FTI will ask the government to green-light the project during the scheduled mobile cabinet meeting on the island on November 3.”

Kitkong says businesspeople in the south are anxious for the government to approve the project, which will provide both locals and foreign medical tourists with state-of-the-art medical care. The facility is expected to include long-term care, hospice and rehabilitation services, in addition to a dental hospital, sports therapy centre, and a medical training school for doctors, nurses, pharmacists and medical laboratory scientists.

The chair of the FTI’s southern chapter is also calling on officials to provide small and medium-sized businesses with additional support, in the form of access to loans, in order to deal with cash shortages.

“In the short term, the FTI wants the government to help SMEs, especially those in the tourism sector.”

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Hong Kong

Up to 5,900 jobs to go as Hong Kong carrier Cathay Dragon shuts down

Maya Taylor

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Up to 5,900 jobs to go as Hong Kong carrier Cathay Dragon shuts down | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Kwok Ho Eddie Wong / Flickr

Hong Kong airline Cathay Pacific is set to close its subsidiary, Cathay Dragon, with the loss of up to 5,900 jobs. The carrier, that used to be called Dragon Air before being absorbed by Cathay, has become yet another casualty of the Covid-19 pandemic that has decimated the aviation business.

The Bangkok Post reports that 5,300 jobs are expected to go in the airline’s Hong Kong base, with a further 600 axed overseas, accounting for 17% of Cathay’s total workforce. Cathay Dragon primarily operated short-haul routes within Asia, including direct flights from Hong Kong to Bangkok and Phuket.

Cathay Pacific bosses have hammered out a HK$2.2 billion restructuring plan that involves thousands of job cuts, pilots and cabin crew having to sign cheaper contracts, and total closure of its subsidiary carrier. The South China Morning Post describes the plan as, “life or death”, reporting cuts to a total of 8,500 jobs across the group. The parent airline is understood to be applying for approval to absorb Cathay Dragon’s routes into the Cathay Pacific network, as well as that of its low-cost carrier, HK Express.

Cathay Pacific CEO, Augustus Tang, says the restructuring plan is essential to Cathay’s future survival as the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic show no sign of abating.

“The global pandemic continues to have a devastating impact on aviation and the hard truth is we must fundamentally restructure the Group to survive. We have to do this to protect as many jobs as possible and meet our responsibilities to the Hong Kong aviation hub and our customers.”

SOURCE: Bangkok Post| South China Morning Post

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Thailand’s media spend shrinks as brands shy away from ‘bad’ news

The Thaiger

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Thailand’s media spend shrinks as brands shy away from ‘bad’ news | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Thailand Business News

Young protesters, who use social media and messaging intuitively vs Thai officials and police who try and track those messages to keep up with the plans of the protest movement. Although Thai police have water cannons and brute force, the Thai youth at the core of the current protest movement also have a valuable weapon. And it’s being used more than ever at the moment. But this increased traffic is not transforming into increased media spending from Thailand’s main brands.

Social media analyts Wisesight say social media is being ‘weaponised’, not only to plan and communicate with fellow protesters, but also “spread the word” of the issues behind their campaign and share their stories with friends. Posts on social media have nearly doubled to 40 million messages a day over the past week. The daily average of posts in past months are around 20-22 million a day.

“Some 40 million messages were posted on social media in Thailand on Oct 15, mainly driven by political strife,” according to Kla Tangsuwan, CEO of Wisesight.

But the increased traffic on social media hasn’t meant that brands are increasing their spending to take advantage of the additional ‘reach’.

In fact, Wisesight say brands are pausing digital media spending after the political conflict ramped up this week. Usually digital media spend spikes in Q4 with the approaching festive season, a peak buying time for consumers. Media were hoping that sentiment would rebound as the world “pandemic” started the settle in October, but fresh political protests, and a surge in new global Covid-19 cases, have caused brands to “pause or wait and see”.

“Brands have begun to hold back on digital media spending in the fourth quarter as political messages flood online platforms, drawing attention away from commercial activity.”

According to the business director of Media Intelligence, Pawat Ruangdejworachai, businesses are pausing their media spend.

“They lack confidence and are hard to gain attraction from audiences that have more interest in political movements.”

The report also notes that Thailand’s social media landscape, and broader media landscape generally, are entering a new paradigm where usage is driven mainly by Generations Y and Z who use their media intuitively and consume it in real time, the vast majority on their smartphones.

Gen Y. Gen Y, or Millennials, were born between 1980 and 1994. They are currently between 24-39 years old.

Gen Z. Gen Z is the newest generation to be named and were born between 1996 and 2015. They are currently between 5-24 years old.

According to Media Intelligence, media spending is expected to fall 20% in Thailand to 71.2 billion baht this year. Internet channels are forecast to be the only media which will see growth this year, up 0.5% to 19.7 billion baht.

SOURCE: wisesight.com

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