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Phuket Tourism Update: TAT mounts global push

Legacy Phuket Gazette



Phuket Tourism Update: TAT mounts global push | The Thaiger

PHUKET: The Thai Hotels Association (THA) and the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) will kick off a global campaign in December to woo back tourists to Phuket and other destinations in the aftermath of the flood disaster.

The campaign is set to run from December 15 until January 15, 2012, with THA members across the country, mostly three and four star venues, expected to join.

Participating hotels will offer “buy one get one free” deals on normal room rates to encourage tourists during the designated period, which falls during the traditional high season for tourism.

TAT’s 26 offices worldwide will help promote the campaign. THA president Prakit Chinamourphong said that although the campaign would run globally, THA and TAT would focus on regional markets like Hong Kong, Singapore and China as tourists from those areas would offer a faster response than long-haul travelers.

THA hoped that the campaign would boost tourism by 20%-30%.

Mr Prakit said flooding had caused the hotel occupancy rate nationwide to drop in November, from a projected 68% to 62%. However this is still an improvement from 53% last November, he said.

Hotels in Bangkok this month reported a drop of 40% as international tourists were still worried about inundation.

“Average occupancy rate at hotels in Bangkok this month was 55-60%, lower than the expected 75-80%,” said Mr Prakit.

However occupancy rates in non-affected areas such Phuket have been strong, bolstered in part by people in affected regions fleeing the inundation. Rates in Phuket are running as high as 70% this month, compared to just 36% during same period last year.

Operators in Pattaya are experiencing 70% in November, with fully half the guests being Thais who escaped the flooding in Bangkok and Central region.

The occupancy rate at hotels in Chiang Mai was 56% in November, but rose to as high as 80-90% in December, when the Royal Flora Expo and a large conference were held.

Thailand’s worst-ever floods have already washed away more than 400,000 international tourists, according to estimates. The negative impact is expected to continue and could lead to as many as 300,000 visitors staying away this year, even though 97% of tourist destinations are not directly affected, according to the TAT.

Sansern Ngaorangsi, deputy governor for Asia and South-Pacific Markets at TAT, said his agency had revised down total arrival estimates from the projected 19.5 million to 18.3 million, mainly due to the flooding.

The authority planned to organize a “mega familiarization” trip in mid-December, bringing in 500 travel agents and media representatives from around the world. TAT would add more marketing activities in January and March to further boost the number of foreign visitors.

According to Mr Prakit, the association has handed its rehabilitation plans to Tourism and Sports Minister Chumpol Silpa-archa and urged the government to help with corporate tax measures, dept repayment extensions as well as provide financial assistance to affected operators.

The ministry asked the government for 3-5 billion baht to rebuild the entire tourism industry.

In other TAT news, the agency on Monday also rolled out a “Beautiful Thailand” recovery campaign to lure back tourists.

According to TAT Governor Suraphon Svetasreni, the most effective strategy to restore tourist confidence and build lasting momentum for the Thai tourism sector is to focus on value-added services and Thai hospitality, not price cutting.

“We are now focused on restoring tourist arrivals for the duration of the high season. The TAT is confident that from the year-end holiday period until March 2012, the second half of the high season, the tourism sector will have recovered. In the past, the Thai tourism sector has come back quickly when faced with similar situations. This clearly shows a travelers’ preference for and loyalty to the Thailand brand,” said Mr Suraphon.

— The Nation

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BOI approves new rail services, new port investment

The Thaiger



BOI approves new rail services, new port investment | The Thaiger

PHOTO: Duangjai Asawachintachit, BOI secretary general

The Board of Investment of Thailand (BOI) has laid out strategies to boost the development of rail services and the country’s cruise tourism.

Duangjai Asawachintachit, BOI secretary general, says the latest BOI meeting chaired by the Prime Minister had resolved to instigate measures to attract investment in rail development and related infrastructure for continued economic growth.

According to Duangjai, investment projects for rail development and related sectors will be entitled to a tax break of 50% for the first three to five years of investment.

The BOI also approved measures to stimulate the cruise tourism business, with the aim of attracting more tourists to the kingdom.

Moreover, the BOI has introduced a plan to attract aerospace investment to U-Tapao Airport in 2019 as part of the Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC) project, as the EEC Office is planning to develop an “Aerotropolis” which will stretch over 30 kilometers from the airport.

Additionally, the meeting endorsed the 7-year strategic investment promotion plan, spanning 2015 to 2021, which it is anticipated will contribute 418 billion baht to the country’s GDP.

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Chinese foreign policy – On track

The Thaiger



Chinese foreign policy – On track | The Thaiger

by Nikkei Asia Review

“When Japanese trading house Itochu and train maker Hitachi withdrew from a soon-to-be-decided $7 billion tender for a high-speed rail project near Bangkok, it appeared to be another victory for China and its grand plans to connect Southeast Asia with railways.

Thailand has for decades been the centerpiece of Tokyo’s strategy for Southeast Asia, and long-discussed plans to build extensive shinkansen-style rail lines in the country’s east and north were meant to cement the relationship between the two nations.

But while Japan’s ambitions have been stalled by disagreements about financing and other details, Beijing has managed to push ahead with construction of a separate high-speed rail line in northern Thailand. To some, the rail projects are a symbol of China’s growing influence in a country where Japan had spent decades building ties.”

The article predicts that the Chinese investment into South East Asian rail services is part of its broader ‘belt and road’ policy that is stretching out into new routes and connecting regions, and China, with hitherto remote parts of the asian continent.

“China’s high-speed rail ambitions in Southeast Asia don’t end in Bangkok, however. Under its planned 3,000-km pan-Asian railway network, Chinese rail lines will extend even further south, stretching through Malaysia and feeding into Singapore.”

Chinese foreign policy - On track | News by The Thaiger

China’s reach southwards will allow it to exert greater political influence on places like Singapore which, for now, still retains strong connections to Washington. Investing in high-speed railways all the way from China’s borders to the tip of the Malay Peninsula is a lot more than just an economic investment, it’s a high-profile symbol of China’s new influence in the region where issues such as ‘Taiwan’ and it’s demands in the South China Sea have caused prickly negotiations with the ASEAN countries.

But to reach Singapore, China must first get Malaysia on side…

“A dramatic recent shift in Malaysian politics has put China’s plans for Singapore on hold, however. After his election in May, Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad decided to hold up “for now” the $20 billion 688-km east coast rail line connecting southern Thailand to Kuala Lumpur, and postpone for two years a 350-km high-speed rail link between the Malaysian capital and Singapore.”

The article says that these ‘investments’ are actually just loans for high-priced infrastructure that often cannot be repaid by smaller economies….

“China typically provides loans, not grants, for foreign infrastructure projects, and takes possession of the project if the recipient is unable to repay its debt – as happened with a port in Sri Lanka. Such instances have prompted critics in the West to accuse China of practicing ‘debt diplomacy’.”

Read more of this fascinating and important article from Nikkei Asia Review HERE.

Chinese foreign policy - On track | News by The Thaiger

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Thailand opens doors to cryptocurrencies – Thaiger Bites

The Thaiger



Thailand opens doors to cryptocurrencies – Thaiger Bites | The Thaiger

Divisions are forming across Asia with regards to cryptocurrencies. Some nations such as China are constantly stomping on anything to do with crypto assets but others, Thailand being the latest, are opening their digital doors to the fledgling industry.

Over the past year Thailand has warmed to crypto and this latest raft of official licenses is a big boost to the industry in the country and region as a whole. Military rulers and the central bank remains wary which is no surprise and have issued warnings to investors. Overall though the sentiment is positive and an official ICO portal has even been proposed by the SEC.

Read more about this story from News BTC HERE.

(Thaiger Bites provides these short snippets for stories we believe of interest to our readers)

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