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Chiang Rai: UK cave-diving experts get to work. US providing rescue equipment.

The Thaiger & The Nation

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Chiang Rai: UK cave-diving experts get to work. US providing rescue equipment. | The Thaiger

International experts have arrived in the last 24 hours to add to the level of expertise as every effort continues to be made to rescue 12 young footballers and their deputy coach trapped for five nights in the Tham Luang Cave in Chiang Rai province.

Three cave-diving experts from the UK arrived on the scene yesterday to help locate the teens, who are players of the local Mu Pa Academy football club. The team entered the country’s fourth-longest cave in Mae Sai district on Saturday with their 25 year old deputy coach, Ekkapon Intawongse. According to early reports they had basic provisions and a first aid kit. This was not the first time they had gone to the cave.

It is believed that they may have failed to leave the cave before a flash flood arrived, inundating a huge part of the cave.

The three foreign experts – Robert Harper, John Volamthen and Richard Stanton – arrived in Chiang Rai on Tuesday evening. The British cave-divers, who have previously explored the site, arrived on June 27 to join about 1,000 Thai soldiers, navy SEAL divers, police and park rangers at the mud-slicked site in the northern province of Chiang Rai.

Thai Airways International sponsored the travel of the experienced underwater cave rescuers, who boarded a flight out of London on Tuesday night.

“We have already talked to them online about the nature of the challenges,” said Chiang Rai Governor Narongsak Osottanakorn.

Chiang Rai: UK cave-diving experts get to work. US providing rescue equipment. | News by The Thaiger

At present, a total of 12 rescue teams are in action, using a variety of approaches in the hope of saving the missing youths. Efforts were on yesterday to find an accessible hole from the top of the cave, to enter the deeper reaches that rescue teams have not been able to from the main entrance.

Meanwhile, the US-Indo Pacific Command has dispatched a team of Navy officers and disaster experts to assist with the operation. Weerasak said that the US would also arrange for the dispatch of equipment required for the rescue from Okinawa.

Yesterday, the main difficulty confronting divers led by the Navy’s SEAL unit was the increasing water level in the cave following continuous rains. The divers have had to swim through muddy waters in the cave that is full of stalagmites and stalactites.

Yesterday, the SEALs, tried to reach “Pattaya Beach” in the cave where it is believed the youths may have taken refuge. The Army has deployed more than 1,000 personnel to survey waterways and to build blockages in an attempt to decrease the flow of water into the cave. Yesterday they erected check dams to divert water from the Pa Mee Cliff from travelling into the cave system.

Local people in the area expressed readiness to let their houses be flooded as a result of water being pumped out of the cave, saying they were willing to cooperate in the efforts to find the youths.

Interior Minister General Anupong Paochinda added that hundreds of local, military and rescue officers have been deployed for the search operation. Anupong, however, warned that it was a race against time as rainwater was flooding the limestone caves despite water being pumped out. He said larger water pumps could not be taken into the cave because of the narrow entrance. Heavy fog also surrounded the cave, preventing helicopters from flying above.

Chiang Rai: UK cave-diving experts get to work. US providing rescue equipment. | News by The Thaiger

Rescuers spent all of Tuesday laying electric wires underwater to enable five water pumps to function. Some pumps also were placed outside to decrease the water level around the cave. He believed, however, that the missing people would not have gone too far from the entrance to evade the flood and they should have their flashlights with them.

“With varying depth and the lack of light, even divers with oxygen tanks are having a hard time exploring the cave at some points. In order to dive efficiently, they need some air between the water surface and the cave ceiling,” the minister said.

“More search crews will be deployed in addition to the divers. There should be those rappelling down from a nearby cliff and drills should work their way down through some cavities,” he said.

The Energy Ministry will supply the drills while the Natural Resources and Environment Ministry would supply X-ray machines to help scan the cave, he said.

HM King Maha Vajiralongkorn said, through his royal spokesperson, that the search operation should be carried out in the best possible way in the interests of the missing persons, their families and also the rescuers, PMGeneral Prayut Chan-o-cha said yesterday.

“His Majesty is closely following the situation.”

Government Spokesman Lt-General Sansern Kaewkamnerd said Prayut had also showed the King’s handwritten message expressing his concern over the missing youths during the Cabinet meeting yesterday.

An operation command has been set up to integrate the search force, the premier said. Headed by the provincial governor, the command would consist of the police, the military and civil officers and work on the rescue, media centre, housing for the victims’ families and food supply

“They are sportsmen. I’m certain they are tough enough to survive and wait for the rescue,” the PM said.

Chiang Rai: UK cave-diving experts get to work. US providing rescue equipment. | News by The Thaiger

SOURCE: The Nation



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Bangkok

Bangkok luxury poised to push through the US$300 ceiling

Bill Barnett

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Bangkok luxury poised to push through the US$300 ceiling | The Thaiger

by Bill Barnett of c9hotelworks.com

PHOTOS: Rosewood Bangkok

For hotel owners and managers in South East Asia, one of the great mysteries of the past ten years has been the low rate profile of Bangkok’s luxury hotel set. Despite soaring and sustained tourism growth, rising airlift and a strong economy, rates at Bangkok’s top tier properties have remained fairly stagnant.

Have we reached the tipping point?

I had had the opportunity to visit the latest entry to the Bangkok luxury class a few days ago, the Rosewood. With 159 keys which includes a limited number of posh houses with private pools and terraces the property is seeing an exceptional response and already achieving high rates.

What’s impressive about the entry is a take on the design approach that sees hotel developers apply a non-uniform approach with AvroKO coming in to focus on the restaurants and bars, while the rooms and public areas were led by Celia Chu Design and Associates.

While the speakeasy Lennon’s has not be opened yet, the 6,000 record vinyl collection is impressive and the bar will clearly have a strong pull. Taking the approach to designing restaurants and not typical hotel outlets, the Chinese eatery Nan Bei is a breath of fresh air and limited seating provides a bespoke appeal.

Taking a step back, and looking at recent entries like the Waldorf Astoria, and upcoming 101 key Capella, what is clear is luxury properties are shifting in terms of key drivers of the segment of art, fashion, residential vibe, bar and restaurant offerings, wellness and events.

So, what about rates?

On a broad basis Bangkok’s top tier hotels have averaged rates of US$200-240 for the past few years. This set has seen longer serving properties such as the St. Regis, Kempinski, and Okura effectively flatline on rates, though newer entries have come up including the Park Hyatt. On the broader horizon is the return of the Four Seasons and Capella by the river and the Orient Express at the MahaNakhon skyscraper.

With the entry of Rosewood driving rates, my expectation is that a few of the set will follow and at the end of 2019 we will set limited number of hotels crash through the US$300 average room rate barrier and effectively smash the legacy glass ceiling of Bangkok’s luxury hotels.

As in any business there will be winners and losers. Smaller hotels with some rate leading premium key types will be able to push up average daily rates. Segmentation is another key and hotels on the river that lack substantial corporate numbers will remain challenged until transport links to the area improve.

Where in the world are Bangkok luxury hotels heading?

To sum up 2019, size and location matter, the shift on food and beverage and social events along with niches like wellness and  smaller meetings/weddings are the key to the future. As for the quantum leap in rates, it’s about time Bangkok hoteliers be confident and push rates towards a more global norm.

Bangkok luxury poised to push through the US$300 ceiling | News by The Thaiger

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Bangkok

Third runway for BKK Suvarnabhumi Airport

The Thaiger

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Third runway for BKK Suvarnabhumi Airport | The Thaiger

The Thai cabinet yesterday approved the construction of a third runway at Suvarnabhumi International Airport as part of the country’s ambition to become the aviation hub of ASEAN.

The 21.7 billion baht project will increase the combined capacity of Suvarnabhumi international airport’s runways to 94 arrivals and departures per hour from the current 64, said Lt-Gen Weerachon Sukonthapatipak, deputy government spokesman.

Suvarnabhumi Airport (aka. BKK) was opened in 2006 as Bangkok’s second airport. Initially it replaced the tired Don Mueang Airport but Don Mueang was later revamped as a low-coast airport to service the growing traffic demands.

Meanwhile Suvarnabhumi Airport was, and still is, operating above its designed capacity. An earlier bid to build a third terminal has been mired in controversy and is currently shelved pending a new brief from Airports of Thailand with a new round of design bids called for in the future.

Third runway for BKK Suvarnabhumi Airport | News by The Thaiger

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Plastics

Thailand to ban three kinds of plastic by end of this year

The Thaiger & The Nation

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Thailand to ban three kinds of plastic by end of this year | The Thaiger

By the end of 2019 Thailand will be free from three types of plastic – microbeads, cap seals and oxo-degradable plastics.

Then by 2022 four other types of single-use plastics will also be banned – lightweight plastic bags less than 36 microns thick; styrofoam food containers for takeaways; plastic cups and plastic straws – according to a road map approved by the Cabinet.

The Plastic Waste Management Road Map 2018-2030 also includes an ambitious plan for Thailand to use 100 per cent recycled plastic by 2027 in various forms, including turning waste into energy.

The Cabinet has acknowledged the road map and assigned the Natural Resource and Environment Ministry to formulate a draft action plan for plastic waste management, so it is in line with the 20-year national strategy.

Thailand to ban three kinds of plastic by end of this year | News by The Thaiger

The Cabinet also called for clear details on related agencies’ role in the integration of the work for managing plastic waste, which will also get huge participation from the private and business sectors. The related state agencies should create various mechanisms to propel this forward such as creating a good understanding among agencies, continuously implementing a public relations campaign via social media to achieve the set goals, the Cabinet instructed.

The work procedure must consider lifecycle plastic-waste management so steps are taken from the very start: with plastic products designed applying the “Eco Design” approach, manufacturing and post-consumption disposal which will include garbage separation, transport and storing, recycling and proper disposal.

According to the Department of Environmental Quality Promotion, Thais generate as much as 1.14 kilogram of garbage per head per day, contributing to the 27.04 million tonnes of waste per year.

One person uses approximately eight plastic bags a day – or 500 million plastic bags per day for the whole nation.

Most of the plastic waste ends up in the oceans, accounting for 16% of garbage in the seas.

SOURCE: The Nation

Thailand to ban three kinds of plastic by end of this year | News by The Thaiger

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