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Man denies role in Samui car bomb

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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Man denies role in Samui car bomb | The Thaiger

PHUKET MEDIA WATCH

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

Man denies role in Samui car bomb
The Nation / Phuket Gazette

PHUKET: A Phattalung man who resembled a suspect in a police sketch wanted over the Central Festival bomb attack on Koh Samui two weeks ago met yesterday with police.

Nukul Yongnoo, the manager of a local cable television station and a restaurant owner, said his meeting with Muang Phatthalung police was meant to demonstrate his innocence.

He said he was at a restaurant in Muang district at the time of the car bomb on the night of April 10. Police interviewed Nukul and registered him without charging him.

Meanwhile, PM General Prayut Chan-o-cha said he knew about a former deputy prime minister’s alleged involvement in the attack “equally to what the media knew”.

Prayut has cited the theory that politics may have had something to do with the bomb attack and other incidents, including a large fire at a cooperative in Surat Thani’s Koh Samui.

He said insurgent attacks were usually simple and only involved a few steps, while evidence showed that the Samui blast was carried out in a more sophisticated manner, with many operatives to steal and create the vehicular bomb, including partly changing the car’s colour.

Prayut called on the media and public not to jump to the conclusion that politics was behind the incident.

“There are many details detected in the investigation, and one of them happens to involve a person who is a former MP,” he said, without elaborating.

Meanwhile, the military released a man yesterday who put a message on Facebook that suggested there would be strife in Surat Thani, several hours before the fire at the cooperative and the car-bomb blast.

National Council for Peace and Order spokesman Colonel Winthai Suvari said there was no solid evidence against Narin Amnongbua, whose Facebook name is M Redshirt, but he would be closely watched.

Army chief General Udomdej Sitabutr backed down from his earlier statement that politicians were behind the car-bomb attack.

He also ruled out that it was an expansion of the insurgency in the far South, although some equipment used in the attack matched what was used in the strife-torn region.

In related news, the mayor of Samui municipality, Ramnet Jaikwang, said the total number of surveillance cameras on the tourist island would soon reach 3,000 – more than double the current 1,300 units – 300 of which are operated by the municipality.

He said that authorities operating public transport services and the owners of relevant businesses would be invited to attend a meeting to work out joint security measures, including the inspection of vehicles going to and from the island.

An inspection of records of the 200,000 or so people staying and working on the island would also be carried out, he said, noting that the island has about 60,000 registered residents and around 3,000 tourists who arrive on the island each day.

— Phuket Gazette Editors

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Tourism

The Area Hotel Quarantine – tweaking Thailand’s arrival options

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The Area Hotel Quarantine – tweaking Thailand’s arrival options | The Thaiger

We spoke about the new proposal for an Area Hotel Quarantine last Friday and in Thailand News Today. The mandatory 14 day quarantine (magically extended a couple of days at many facilities at the foreigner’s cost) remains the key sticking point for the return of tourists or travellers, in any significant or useful numbers. A number of visas and quarantine programs has done little to increase the numbers of foreign arrivals to Thailand.

The proposal, leaked out as a ‘discussion’ pending cabinet talks and a final decision, has not received much support from the overseas community that are trying to travel to Thailand, or former expats that are trying to get back. Many of the comments believe the 14 days, even restricted to a larger set of walls, is still too restrictive, costly and inconvenient.

“It would also be nice if the two weeks quarantine was not part of the visa! You get a two month visa minus the two weeks.”

“It’s still a prison if you can’t get out. Voting with my feet”

“There’s just not going to be any tourism until Thailand stops this 14-day quarantine nonsense.”

The proposal allows guests to leave their hotel rooms after the first 3 days of a 14 day stay. The proposal is on the agenda for the next CCSA weekly meeting. The proposal was mooted at a meeting last Thursday and chaired by Thailand’s Tourism and Sports Minister Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn.

After the first 3 days, guests would have another swab test before being able to spend the remaining 11 days meandering around the rest of the hotel complex (so, suddenly, REALLY large hotels in great locations become much more attractive). But they wouldn’t be able to leave the hotel property.

The Area Hotel Quarantine is being seen as an accommodation for the hardest hit tourist zones in Thailand – Chiang Mai, Phuket, Krabi, Surat Thani (the 3 islands of Koh Samui, Koh Pha Ngan and Koh Tao) and Chon Buri (Pattaya). In all cases the key tourist zones are desperate for the government to ease restrictions or do something… anything… to help boost travel to the battered tourist economies that rely, mostly, on the visits from tourists.

After the 14 day AHQ the visitor will be free to travel anywhere around Thailand.

Last Thursday’s conference call says that Ministers are trying to come up with ways to start re-opening up Thailand to more travellers from next month by expanding the options and slowly easing restriction.. They also want to re-open talks with neighbouring countries and other countries deemed ‘low risk’, or with high vaccination uptake, with travel bubble options, hopefully by May.

About vaccinations, the government is also considering plans to have a no-quarantine option for visitors to come to Thailand as long as they’ve been vaccinated. But the Public Health Ministers says they are looking at the lead from the World Health Organisation about how to administer this sort of ‘vaccine passport’ access as there needs to be a greater body of knowledge about the efficacy of various vaccines. The International Air Transport Association is also in discussion with airlines and governments about restricting access to international travel for people who have been vaccinated.

It was also disclosed this week that some foreigners in the first batch of golf quarantine, where they have to stay in their room for 3 days then can roam around the golf course and play golf, have tested positive for the coronavirus after the test on the third day of their stay. Another batch of Villa Quarantine tourists, visiting Phuket at the end of February, have all returned negative test results.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

(The hotel depicted in the main photo may, or may not, be associated with the Area Hotel Quarantine program)

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Tourism

Thailand to introduce “area quarantine” for international visitors from April

Maya Taylor

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Thailand to introduce “area quarantine” for international visitors from April | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Andreas M on Unsplash

From next month, foreign visitors to the Kingdom will be able to experience the delights of “area quarantine”, after the government confirmed the scheme for 5 provinces. Following a meeting with the Public Health Ministry, the Tourism Minister Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn confirmed that Phuket, Krabi, Chiang Mai, Chon Buri (Pattaya), and Surat Thani (Koh Samui and Koh Pha-ngan) have been chosen to pilot the scheme.

Foreign tourists opting for area quarantine will be required to remain in their hotel rooms for the first 3 days of their stay. They will be tested for Covid-19 and, if negative after 3 days, will be allowed to leave their room and roam freely around the resort for the remainder of their 14-day quarantine. At the end of the 14-day period, they will once again be tested for the virus and, if negative, allowed to travel around the quarantine area.

In order to avail of the scheme, tourists will still need to fulfil the other requirements for travel, including obtaining a Certificate of Entry, a negative Covid-19 test 72 hours prior to travel, and adequate health insurance. Nation Thailand reports that the area quarantine plan will be run by 29 travel agencies, under TAT supervision.

The area quarantine scheme comes as the TAT hails the success of the first “golf quarantine” scheme, which operates in a similar manner. Travellers from countries considered “low-risk” for Covid-19 can come to Thailand for a golf holiday at approved golf resorts in the Kingdom. Conditions are similar to those attached to area quarantine, with the golfers having to spend the first 3 days in their room, test negative for the virus, and then enjoy free rein of the resort, with a few rounds of golf thrown in.

Thailand’s economy has been decimated by the fallout from the pandemic, in particular the loss of international tourism. The current mandatory 14-day quarantine period is seen as the biggest hurdle to overcome in order to re-ignite the sector. In 2019, international tourism contributed 2 trillion baht out of a total 3.01 trillion baht tourism trade. In the same year, tourism made up 17% of Thailand’s GDP.

SOURCE: Nation Thailand

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Tourism

Covid-free Samui, Phangan, Tao offer tourism discounts until end of April

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Covid-free Samui, Phangan, Tao offer tourism discounts until end of April | The Thaiger

The Covid-free gulf islands of Koh Samui, Koh Phangan, and Koh Tao are offering special discounts and privileges to tourists until the end of April. Over 80 tourism operators are taking part in the scheme which can be accessed by clicking on www.samui-phangan-tao-speciallink.com.

Surat Thani, which includes Koh Samui, is 1 of 4 provinces to receive the first delivery of the Covid vaccine after being considered an area of economic significance, along with Chon Buri, Phuket, and Chiang Mai.

SUP ROY or Stand Up Paddle on Koh Samui is one of the operators offering discounts with schedules available on suproysamui at least until May 2021.

Central World in Bangkok is hosting a “3 Wonder Island” tourism promotion from March 11-17 , 2021, with special discounts from 50 tourism operators on Koh Samui, Koh Phangan and Koh Tao. The Tourism And Transport Authority along with Koh Samui Tourism Promotion Association are organising the event.

The “Phangan Privilege Card” is also being promoted to allows holders to enjoy discounts at hotels, restaurants, shops, and tourism-related businesses on Koh Phangan that are members of the Koh Phangan Hotel and Tourism Association. To access the promotion, visit: Koh Phangan Hotel and Tourism Association.

The famous diving island of Koh Tao is offering the “Dive to the Nature” project to promote eco-friendly tourism. Visitors can elect to take part in ocean and beach cleanups, or coral reef restorations among other activities. The island is also promoting a new eco-tourism route development that caters to tourists in the new normal era. To find out more, visit: Koh Tao Tourism Association.

Bangkok Airways, Koh Samui’s only airline, is offering a special one-way fare on the Bangkok-Samui or Samui-Bangkok sector, starting from 2,000 baht. Bookings can be made from now until April 30, 2021, for travel until June 30, 2021, at www.bangkokair.com.

The TAT Koh Samui Office is teaming up with Raja Ferry and Seatran Ferry, to offer a coupon worth 250 baht per vehicle ferry to Koh Samui on weekdays (Monday to Thursday) until April 30, 2021. For more info, contact: LINE Office: @tatkohsamui.

For more tourism activities on Koh Samui, Koh Phangan, and Koh Tao, see Facebook: TAT Koh Samui or LINE Office: @tatkohsamui.

SOURCE: TAT News

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