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New airports approved for Phuket and Chiang Mai

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New airports approved for Phuket and Chiang Mai | The Thaiger

After four years of false starts and rumours it looks like Phuket will now get a much-needed second airport to feed the island and the surrounding region. Yesterday’s announcement by AoT (Airports of Thailand) comes after extensive studies to examine the extension of the current Phuket airport runway which is hemmed in by Thepkasattri Road at one end and the Andaman Sea at the other.

The newly announced airport won’t actually be on the island. It will be in Phang Nga, north of Phuket. Bangkok Airways has been discussing the proposal with the Government of a privately run airport for Phang Nga. Bangkok Airways operate the privately owned airport on Koh Samui. It appears that the Government will build and manage the new airport through the AoT.

The AoT board of directors have approved the construction of second airports for Phuket and Chiang Mai with a combined budget of 120 billion baht.

Each new airport is budgeted at 60 billion baht, said AOT president Nitinai Sirismatthakarn, with construction beginning in 2019 and completed no later than 2025.

The second Phuket International Airport would be built in Phang Nga’s Ban Khok Kruad district. The second Chiang Mai International Airport would be built in Lamphun’s Ban Thi district.

The new airports would be about 20 to 30 kilometres distant from the first airports, Nitinai added.

Older stories about the proposed Phang Nga airport HERE and HERE.

New airports approved for Phuket and Chiang Mai | News by The ThaigerSOURCES: The Nation, The Thaiger

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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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Air Pollution

Chiang Mai 3rd most polluted city in world in yesterday’s air quality ratings

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Chiang Mai 3rd most polluted city in world in yesterday’s air quality ratings | The Thaiger

Chiang Mai ranked as the 3rd most polluted city in the world yesterday, according to AirVisual, following Lahor in Pakistan and New Delhi in India. The northern Thai city’s was recorded to have an average PM2.5 dust level higher than 200.

All 4 air quality monitoring stations in the municipal area reported the PM as exceeding the safe level, with the deputy chief of an air pollution command citing some 928 hotspots detected across the nation’s 17 northern provinces.

In Tak province, its PM2.5 and PM10 ratings exceeded the safe level for 4 consecutive days, affecting people’s health and road visibility. Mae Sot district yesterday saw the PM 2.5 and PM10 measured at 114 and 171 µg/m3 with people being advised to avoid all outdoor activities and stay away from areas with high air pollution.

The governor of Tak says the province has initiated measures to prevent forest fires and to prohibit the burning of old crops for 2 months starting from March 1. Those who are caught burning or carrying hunting equipment will be charged by forest patrol officers.

The Department of Health Director-General says tropical storms in the northern part of Thailand would help reduce the PM2.5 in Bangkok, the Central Plains, the East and the lower North over the next few days. But some areas in the north, northeast and central plains may see more pollution due to burning in the country and smoke from neighbouring countries.

The Director advised people to protect themselves by wearing a face mask when going outside and follow air pollution news on the official website of the Department of Pollution Control.

According to IQAir, Chiang Mai’s air quality index is at 176, with the PM2.5 measured at 103.9 µg/m³, sitting at unhealthy levels.

Meanwhile, the PM2.5 air pollution was behind approximately 160,000 deaths in the world’s 5 most populous cities in 2020, according to a Greenpeace Southeast Asia analysis of IQAir data from a live Cost Estimator.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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