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DSI provides info for probe into UFUN

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PHUKET MEDIA WATCH

– Thailand news selected by Gazette editors for Phuket’s international community

DSI provides info for probe into UFUN
The Nation / Phuket Gazette

PHUKET: The Department of Special Investigation (DSI) passed information about the case against UFUN Thailand’s alleged pyramid scheme to police yesterday for further investigation, as three more people – one a military officer – filed complaints with police over the company.

The number of plaintiffs has risen to 90, who have claimed losses of 35 million baht.

However, many members of UFUN claimed yesterday that the firm was legal and said allegations of fraud had hurt them financially.

They gathered outside Bangkok’s Central World mall to express their stance before filing a petition calling for justice at the police headquarters, across the road.

UFUN member Napapat Horakiat, 44, claimed there was evidence suggesting the Office of the Consumer Protection Board had issued a new licence for the company and its financial transactions were done online, meaning there were no receipts.

She said it was untrue UFUN was illegal because Thai law didn’t cover online trading and transactions, adding that the company was not linked to the U-Fun Store.

DSI chief Suwana Suwanjutha said she and assistant national police chief Lt Gen Suwira Songmetta would hold a press conference today to announce the DSI and police’s cooperation in the investigation.

The DSI would transfer information – including other pyramid schemes that had changed names and whose members may be involved in UFUN – to support police inquiries, she said.

Although the case was within the framework for the DSI to investigate as a special matter, the agency would not take it over because police had made great progress in its investigation without obstacles and it was more convenient for the alleged victims to file complaints at police stations, she said.

Consumer Protection Police Division deputy commander Col Angkul Klaikleung revealed three more people had filed complaints.

Meanwhile, the military officer, who asked not to be named, said he and other officers at an Ayutthaya camp joined the UFUN scheme in February and he paid an application fee of 105,000 baht.

He said he found online information about pyramid schemes that mentioned this company and he asked it for clarification but didn’t get a clear answer.

Upon learning UFUN executives had been arrested, he and his Army colleagues filed complaints.

Another alleged victim, who claimed to have invested 210,000 baht with UFUN since last May, said he filed a complaint with police after he couldn’t sell U-Token units a few days ago.

Gen Suwira said police were contacting their Malaysian counterparts for clarity about a wanted suspect – UFUN property executive Arthit Pankaew.

Gen Suwira said there was a report that Mr Arthit was a Chinese national who fled an arrest warrant for fraud in China and landed in Malaysia, where he allegedly joined others to open a pyramid scheme until Malaysian authorities issued an arrest warrant for him for fraud.

He then fled to Thailand in 2009 to undergo plastic surgery and change his name to Mr Arthit, Gen Suwira said.

— Phuket Gazette Editors

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Thailand

45 new cases today, 37 local‐Covid‐19‐Update

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45 new cases today, 37 local‐Covid‐19‐Update | The Thaiger

Thailand reports 45 new cases of Covid-19cases today, with 37 infections being locally-transmitted. 8 of those infections were imported, raising the total amount of infections since the pandemic began to 25,809.

The Department of Disease Control reports that 32 cases were confirmed at hospitals with 5 confirmed through active case finding in communities.

Samut Sakhon province, the 2nd wave epicentre, reported over half of the new cases at 19. 14 of those cases were confirmed at hospitals and 5 were detected in Myanmar communities. Bangkok has reported 3 new cases, Nakhon Nayok reported 5, Chai Nat 3, Nakhon Pathom 3, Saraburi 2, Prachuap Khiri Khan 1, and Samut Prakan 1.

45 new cases today, 37 local‐Covid‐19‐Update | News by The Thaiger

The 8 imported cases were those under quarantine arriving from Pakistan, Bangladesh, the UK, Germany, France, The Netherlands, and Kuwait. The case from the UK was that of a 6 year old Thai schoolgirl.

Globally, Covid-19 cases rose by 444,466 over the past day to 113.54 million. The worldwide death toll increased by 10,552 to 2.52 million. The United States still has the most cases at 29.5 million, with the most deaths at 520,785.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Tourism

Surveys show Thailand still one of the top holiday choices post-pandemic

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Surveys show Thailand still one of the top holiday choices post-pandemic | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Jakob Owens on Unsplash

The Stockholm office of the Tourism Authority of Thailand has conducted a survey in which 62% of respondents say they want to spend winter in Thailand provided restrictions are lifted. The top destinations are Phuket, Krabi and Khao Lak, followed by Koh Samui, Koh Pha-ngan, Koh Tao, Bangkok, and Hua Hin.

68% say they would cancel bookings if the 14-day quarantine remains in place. 26% say they would still go ahead, and 13% said they’d be in favour of quarantine being cut to 10 days. 99% of participants say they would be worried about testing positive for Covid-19 after travel plans have been made.

Meanwhile, the TAT’s London office has also been busy, carrying out a survey in conjunction with market research firm, YouGov. The idea behind the survey was to get an idea of the future of tourism once the pandemic is over.

4,127 people took part, with 75% of them saying they’re prepared to be vaccinated if it’s required for travel. 41% are against mandatory quarantine, although 52% would accept a 5-day quarantine. 62% of those planning holidays are over the age of 50 and interested in countries with low infection rates.

According to a Nation Thailand report, Siripakorn Cheawsamoot from the TAT says the findings of the survey indicate that up to 6 million people are interested in travelling to Thailand at some point this year.

Meanwhile, a number of online travel agency platforms in France have also carried out a survey. The poll, conducted by companies such as Go Voy, Opodo, and eDreams, showed that the number of hits to tourism-related websites rose by 15% once the success of Covid-19 vaccines was announced. The top destinations searched for were Dubai at 49%, Marrakesh at 27%, and Bangkok at 25%.

Another travel survey in the Americas found that most holidaymakers have chosen to postpone their trips by 7 months to a year, rather than cancelling completely. Siripakorn says that booking flexibility is a priority for Americans.

“Flexibility to reschedule is the top priority for American tourists, followed by safety. These tourists are looking for safety, no quarantine, flexibility, and no deposit.”

Meanwhile, a report issued by Skift Research shows that travel will not recover until 2023 and will not return to pre-pandemic levels until 2025.

SOURCE: Nation Thailand

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Thailand

Long Buddhist holiday to see over 40 percent reduction in domestic tourism

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Long Buddhist holiday to see over 40 percent reduction in domestic tourism | The Thaiger

The long Buddhist festival holiday, which starts today, is set to see over a 40% reduction in domestic tourism. The Tourism and Transport Authority of Thailand has made the estimation which tallies around 1.09 million domestic trips, a number that is down 44% from last year’s Makha Bucha Day.

The 2nd wave of the Covid pandemicthis year has made potential tourists cautious about spending money, with the holiday forecasted to yield 3.9 billion baht. That number is 38% lower than the same period last year. Hotel occupancy rates are also expected to only be 50% of last year’s tally on average.

Other venues that are normally open for tourists on this holiday, such as the ancient Buddha’s footprint at Khao Khitchakut in Chanthaburi, have been closed out of fears for Covid spreading through mass gatherings. As one of the country’s top 10 religious events, it is indicative of how the 2nd wave has taken a toll on the country’s tourism. The event’s closing is attributed to the forecasted 74% drop in trips to Thailand’s northeastern region, otherwise known as Isaan. And, if there are less tourists, then there is less revenue. The cancellation is expected to decrease expenditures by 68% on average.

Meanwhile, the 2nd wave is also affecting airlines as Thai AirAsia has reported only 9.49 million passengers with an average load factor of 75% for 2020, posting a net loss of 4.76 billion baht with a total revenue of 16.3 billion baht.

Thai VietJet’s marketing manager says before the 2nd wave hit late last year, the airline was on the upswing, operating 120 domestic flights per day. Recently, top economic leaders have warned that Thailand’s tourism industry will fallout soon if it is not revived. The 60 plus year industry is in dire trouble with slow vaccine rollouts, country travel restrictions, and virus variants all being major factors in Thailand’s slow reopening of tourism.

With the vaccine set to be issued to tourism hotspots first, PM Prayut has stated that the government is mulling whether to allow tourists to skip quarantine requirements if they can show that they have received the Covid vaccine.

SOURCE: The Phuket News

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