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Opinion

Phuket Opinion: Scofflaw hotels have little to fear

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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Phuket Opinion: Scofflaw hotels have little to fear | The Thaiger

PHUKET: The Phuket Gazette wishes Governor Tri Augkaradacha the best of luck in his efforts to make legal the unknown thousands of unregistered hotels on the island – he is certainly going to need it.

According to figures from Gov Tri’s office [see page 8, current issue of the Gazette, or click here for our digital version], there are just 279 hotels with a total of 31,014 rooms legally registered with Phuket province under the Hotel Act.

But there are an additional 43,000 rooms in more than 700 “accommodation establishments” registered with another government agency: the Tourism Authority of Thailand. The actual number of these hotel rooms in Phuket is undoubtedly much higher because all establishments with more than four rooms for rent on a daily basis are classified as hotels under the Hotel Act.

Phuket Tourist Association president Somboon Jirayus estimates the number of rooms-for-rent by the day in guesthouses, serviced apartments and similar establishments at more than 50,000.

Typically-priced at about 500 baht a night, a room in one of these establishments is clean and comfortable, air-conditioned, equipped with wi-fi internet and a cable television service with at least 50 channels.

While the ubiquity of so many cheap lodgings continues to lure in ever more visitors, many in the middle and upper segments of the hotel business cry foul that so many of these establishments are able to operate outside the law, avoiding taxes and ignoring safety regulations.

We understand and certainly applaud their protestations, particularly with regard to issues of safety and hygiene.

Gov Tri notes that lax enforcement by the government in the past has allowed the current situation to develop, and he is realistic in believing that some “negotiation” may therefore be needed to correct it.

We doubt, however, that simply trying to persuade illegal operators to register “for their own benefit” is going to lead to significant change. After all, how many of us would actually pay our income taxes honestly, fully and punctually if there were no threat of an audit hanging over our heads?

Disincentives to register are especially high among guesthouse and serviced apartment owners, whose guests are predominantly independent travelers not on package tours. In their view, registration as a hotel simply opens a Pandora’s Box of new rules and regulations that would need to be adhered to at considerable cost.

The need to comply would also doubtless expose accommodation providers to additional sub rosa payment and ‘protection’ demands from some of Phuket’s more entrepreneurial government officers.

It is also worth noting that some registered hotels have ‘dug in’ and refuse to pay the one-percent room revenue tax imposed several years ago by the Phuket Provincial Administration Organization, despite periodic threats of legal action by that authority.

Ministerial regulations issued in 2008 to clarify the terms of the national Hotel Act have likewise been largely ignored in Phuket, mainly, we think, because so many operators have no real incentive to comply.

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Opinion

“Racial profiling and xenophobic” – a rant against Dual Pricing

The Thaiger

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“Racial profiling and xenophobic” – a rant against Dual Pricing | The Thaiger

The rules are applied in a lumpy fashion at various tourist hot spots around the country as well as some national parks. Sometimes it’s applied, sometimes, not, sometimes there are signs, sometime they make it up as they go, sometimes they will allow local expats in for the Thai price.

There are dual-pricing apologists who say ‘Hey, it’s cheap anyway, so pay up and shut up’. Whilst dual-pricing whiners say it’s unfair, racist and shows a lack of grace towards tourists and foreigners.

Here’s the story from ‘Despondant Foreigner’. You can have your say on the post at our Facebook page

“I would like to share my story with you that happened to me this morning. I visited Promlok waterfall in Nakhon Si Thammaratt with my Thai wife, child and wife’s family. Upon arrival two soldiers approached our car and my wife began talking to them. They explained to her that as today is Songkran all Thai’s get to go to the waterfalls free of charge but I had to pay. Then a woman dressed in yellow approached the car who confirmed what the soldiers said and told my wife that this is a new law. Well we were all disgusted and proceeded to drive back down to the bottom of the waterfall where we could all swim for free.

I am absolutely disgusted by this. Yet another example of Thailand’s racial profiling and xenophobia towards foreigners. The fact that I am married and have children here doesn’t make a difference. Because I have white skin I must pay the fee whilst all Thais go in free.”

SOURCE: ThaiVisa

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Opinion

Fox News fake news, Phuket gets a bullet

Bill Barnett

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Fox News fake news, Phuket gets a bullet | The Thaiger

by Bill Barnett, C9Hotelworks.com

As Phuket moves slowly into low season, a story published in the international media by the US-based Fox News about how tourists could face the death penalty over taking photos at the island’s airport is a highly flaw piece of sensationalist fake news.

Clearly there is no likelihood that the Thai authorities will apply a legal maximum penalty under the Air Navigation Act for tourists posing for selfies as airplanes land. More likely would be a  charge of trespassing and a fine.

Clicking into Google this morning the story is now running with the New York Post, MSN and other news outlets abroad.

What is distressing is to see how news providers sensationalize Thailand and Phuket with little regard as to the consequences of the economic impact of such a story.

For most readers, what they will remember when reading such a piece is only the headline about Phuket, Mai Khao Beach and the death penalty.

What a sorry state of affairs mainstream news has become.

To read the Fox News article clock HERE.

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Election

Is Thanathorn the new Thaksin? Will the ‘establishment’ tolerate his new political vision?

The Thaiger

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Is Thanathorn the new Thaksin? Will the ‘establishment’ tolerate his new political vision? | The Thaiger

Is Future Forward Party leader Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit a popular fad or does he, and his party, have the staying power to make him a sustainable threat to the entrenched Thai political elite?

Many analysts are comparing Thanathorn to Thaksin in his early days. They say there are clear similarities. First off, Thanathorn is facing the kind of legal trouble that Thaksin faced when Thailand’s political crisis started to brew.

After becoming Thailand’s PM, Thaksin faced a share transfer scandal in which he moved his company shares to poor servants, allegedly to avoid stock market restrictions imposed on people owning big lots of stocks. Now, 40 year old Thanathorn is facing a legal controversy over his previous ownership of media shares, which could still doom his election candidacy.

The allegations are yet to be considered by the Election Commission.

Thaksin, in spite of repeated denials, was always alleged to have controversial political ambitions. Thanathorn, meanwhile, is seen in an increasingly similar situation. The list of complaints is growing, many to do with his perceived unorthodox ideology that contrasts with the conservative political ‘Thainess’ that includes non-negotiable support for the Army and Monarchy.

Thanathorn has been criticised for something he said about the Khana Ratsadon Party, which played an instrumental role in changing Thailand’s system from absolute monarchy to constitutional monarchy in 1932. The secretary-general of Thanathorn’s party has also been forced to deny making highly-controversial comments about Thailand’s political culture.

Future Forward did very well on March 24, surpassing pundits’ predictions for the new party. Analysts say the success is due to three main factors — Thanathorn’s youthful image that attracted the majority of first-time voters, the dissolution of the Thai Raksa Chart Party that shifted a lot of votes to Future Forward, and the new party’s fresh ideology and perspectives.

He, and the party, attracted a lot of newer voters along with a core of disaffected voters who are looking for change.

But Thanathorn’s looming legal trouble is described as a potential banana skin. It concerns a large number of shares he had in a media company, which were transferred to his mother so that he could qualify as an election candidate.

One apparently-private document, which he is relying on, showed he transferred the V-Luck Media Company shares on January 8, before he applied for election candidacy. Another document, which his accusers are relying on, apparently showed the transfer was brought to the authorities’ attention after he became an election candidate.

Controversy continues to build around the young billionaire and chances are it will grow.

SOURCES: Thai PBS | The Thaiger

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