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Phuket hotel registration remains a challenge

Bill Barnett

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Phuket hotel registration remains a challenge | The Thaiger

Phuket is attracting an ever-increasing number of international visitors to our golden beaches and turquoise seas.

But many of the millions of travellers who visit Phuket each year could be staying in unlicensed – and effectively illegal – hotels. According to a new report by hospitality consulting group C9 Hotelworks, less than a quarter of hotels in Phuket (429 out of 1,724) are currently licensed.

This issue was brought into sharp focus late last year when former Phuket’s Governor Chokchai Dejamornthan, announced plans for a crackdown on unlicensed hotels in the island province. At the time, Governor Chokchai urged the travelling public not to stay in unregistered hotels.

But despite a deadline of 31st January 2017 being set for offending hotels to become legally registered, C9 Hotelworks has underscored that, six months later, the situation remains challenged.

Data from Phuket’s Provincial Administration Office shows that of the 1,295 unlicensed hotels identified in Phuket, only six have had their licenses approved. A further 1,001 are pending approval, while 288 have not yet applied.

A disconnect in regulation could be hindering the licensing process.

Phuket’s provincial government has undertaken an admirable large-scale initiative to tackle the proliferation of unlicensed hotels.

Currently the main challenges for the process are the strict regulations associated with the Thailand-wide Building Control and Hotel Act’s. As a result of these mandates, the province is considering reviewing the requirements to support the conversation process.

Local authorities are under pressure to tackle this issue, as strong demand from emerging economies continues to drive a sharp increase in tourism arrivals to Phuket. For example, Russian passenger traffic at Phuket International Airport jumped 17% in the first five months of 2017, while arrivals from Mainland China rose 8%. With 17 Chinese airlines now flying into Phuket, Mainland China accounts for two-thirds of Asian traffic at the island’s airport.

Hotel development in Phuket also continues to gather pace; according to C9 Hotelworks’ pipeline analysis, there are now 33 hotels being developed across the island, which will add 5,738 more rooms to Phuket’s inventory. These include major global brands such as Sheraton, JW Marriott, Best Western, InterContinental, Park Hyatt, Kempinski, Ramada and Rosewood.

With so many new hotels due enter the market in the coming months and years, Phuket’s authorities are mandated to ensure regulatory processes are stringent and effective, whilst the reality is not being overly complex or bureaucratic. At the same time private sector investment into the hotel industry is racing ahead of the public sector.

Without the ability to apply hotel tax to unlicensed properties, the island is being denied much needed revenue that could be reinvested into infrastructure. There remains an imperative to ensure that the 1,295 unlicensed hotels currently operating in Phuket are dealt with swiftly and effectively, to ensure the issue does not do damage to the island’s international reputation.

Many of Southeast Asia’s surging mass tourism resort markets face a similar issue to Phuket. One case in point is Bali where the official registered number of hotels stands at 317, with 33,599 rooms according to the Indonesian government’s Badan Pusat Statistik. In reality inventory stands well above that of Phuket.

Government regulating bodies have to understand the close relationship between hotel licensing and tax issues in order to not be left out in the cold.

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Bill Barnett has over 30 years of experience in the Asian hospitality and property markets. He is considered to be a leading authority on real estate trends across Asia, and has sat at almost every seat around the hospitality and real estate table. Bill promotes industry insight through regular conference speaking engagements and is continually gathering market intelligence. Over the past few years he has released four books on Asian property topics.

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Pakistan goes dark after electrical fault causes nationwide blackout

The Thaiger

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Pakistan goes dark after electrical fault causes nationwide blackout | The Thaiger

Pakistan is slowly recovering after the entire country experienced an electrical blackout today. Power minister Omar Ayub Khan tweeted that this latest blackout was caused by a fault in southern Pakistan at 11:41pm local time yesterday, which was at 3:41am today here in Thailand.

“The fault tripped the transmission system of the country… leading to the shutdown of power plants.”

The blackout darkened all of Pakistan’s cities, including the capital Islamabad, its economic hub of Karachi and the 2nd largest city of Lahore.

“The breakdown took place when frequency tripped from 50 to 0 in the electricity distribution system. However, electricity is gradually being restored across the country.”

There were no immediate answers as to whether hotels experienced a disruption as they often rely on back-up generators. Power has been restored to some parts of the country but many areas in Lahore and Karachi were still waiting according to a water and power ministry spokesman.

The same spokesman says an investigation is underway to find out the cause of the blackout, which also saw the internet connectivity nationwide to collapse. Netblocks, which monitors internet outages said on Twitter that the blackout caused a dip in levels.

Connectivity was at “62% of ordinary levels.”

Pakistan’s electricity distribution system is a “complex and delicate” web, and a problem in 1 section of the grid can lead to a domino effect in breakdowns nationwide.

In 2015 a rebel attack on a key power line sent about 80% of Pakistan into darkness. That blackout, which was one of the worst in Pakistan’s history, caused major cities, including Islamabad, to go dark, even affecting one of the country’s international airports.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Songkhla

Nude Panda: naked food delivery man hit with 500 baht fine

Maya Taylor

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Nude Panda: naked food delivery man hit with 500 baht fine | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Nation Thailand

Nude Panda? Rude Panda? Or NoodPanda? A man working as a food delivery driver in the southern province of Songkhla, has been filmed riding his motorbike while naked. 24 year old Botsin Dueanchamroon later handed himself in to police, explaining that he’d taken his clothes off due to “a personal problem”. The nature of the problem is not known, and police let Botsin go with a 500 baht fine.

The incident came to light after a video was posted on social media, showing a naked Botsin hurtling along on his motorbike, which had a food delivery bag on the back. The video has now been deleted. According to a 66 year old motorbike taxi driver, Bai Aumaoom, Botsin parked his bike in front of a local temple, removed his clothes, then got back on the bike and drove off.

He later returned and strolled around before putting his clothes back on. One woman who witnessed the spectacle says she was “sickened by the sight” and would not want to eat any food delivered by the man.

Social media response was mixed with most just inquisitive about his motives to ride “commando” with little (actually no) protection.

SOURCE: Nation Thailand

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Divers believe they have found a 77 year old wrecked US Navy submarine by Phuket

The Thaiger

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Divers believe they have found a 77 year old wrecked US Navy submarine by Phuket | The Thaiger

Divers in the Strait of Malacca have reportedly found what they believe to be a 77 year old US Navy wrecked submarine in what is seemingly the concluding piece in a tale from World War II. The divers are currently awaiting confirmation of the finding from the United States Naval History and Heritage Command for verification after sending photos and other evidence to be reviewed. Over a five month time period, the divers gathered evidence over six separate dives to substantiate their claims that the shipwrecked submarine is that of the USS Grenadier, one of the 52 American submarines lost during the conflict.

The Grenadier, weighing 1,475 tonnes and measuring 307 feet long, was found about 150 km south of Phuket, Thailand in the Strait of Malacca. Singapore-based Jean Luc Rivoire, Frenchman Benoit Laborie, Australian Lance Horowitz, and Belgian Ben Reymenants-all who live in Phuket made the discovery. Reymenants was also one of the divers who helped in the dangerous rescue mission of the 12 Thai young football players who became trapped in a cave with their coach 2 years ago.

The Belgian has made a habit out of searching for sunken vessels over the years and would enlist Rivoire’s help in underwater searches as he had a suitable boat.

History of the submarine’s sinking details the story of the boat’s crew abandoning ship after Japanese bombs nearly killed them undersea. However, the sailors were lucky as all 76 of its personnel reportedly survived the bombing and subsequent sinking, but their luck soon took a dark turn. After Japan took the crew as prisoners, they were allegedly tortured, beaten and nearly starved for more than 2 years with 4 reportedly succumbing to the ordeal.

Divers believe they have found a 77 year old wrecked US Navy submarine by Phuket | News by The Thaiger

In this image taken from video, the top hatch of a conning tower can be seen from a submarine wreck somewhere in the Strait of Malacca on March 4, 2020. Divers have found what they believe is the wreck of a U.S. Navy submarine lost 77 years ago in Southeast Asia, providing a coda to a stirring but little-known tale from World War II. (Jean Luc Rivoire via AP)

The Belgian says he has been researching possible locations of shipwrecks for many years. When they dived to look at one captivating object, they found it was much larger than they had originally expected. Horowitz says once confirming the object’s size, they searched archives to find out which vessel it could be.

“And in the end, we took very precise measurements of the submarine and compared those with the naval records. And they’re exactly, as per the drawings, the exact same size. So we’re pretty confident that it is the USS Grenadier.”

However, the confirmation could take anywhere from 2 months to up to 1 year to complete. But its 77 year old history may make it well worth the wait.

The Grenadier set sail from Pearl Harbor on Feb 4, 1942 embarking on multiple missions while sinking 6 ships and damaging 2. Then, it took to the waters again on March 20, 1943 from Australia, on its 6th patrole to the Malacca Straight and Andaman Sea. One month later, a plane was sighted causing the ship to be ordered to crash dive. But it was too late. Blasts from 2 bombs attacked the sub, leaving important parts of the ship damaged.

Divers believe they have found a 77 year old wrecked US Navy submarine by Phuket | News by The Thaiger

This Dec. 27, 1941, photo released by U.S. Navy shows USS Grenadier (SS-210) off Portsmouth, New Hampshire. Divers have found what they believe is the wreck of the U.S. Navy submarine lost 77 years ago in Southeast Asia, providing a coda to a stirring but little-known tale from World War II. Photo: United States Navy via AP

The next morning, the crew made plans to scuttle the submarine but was captured by an armed merchant ship and hauled off to Penang, a major port town in Malaysia. Fitzgerald says the crew landed in a Catholic school turned Japanese prison where they then began to become the recipients of alleged abuse.

“The rough treatment started the first afternoon, particularly with the (enlisted) men. They were forced to sit or stand in silence in an attention attitude. Any divergence resulted in a gun butt, kick, slug in the face or a bayonet prick. In the questioning room, persuasive measures, such as clubs, about the size of indoor ball bats, pencils between the fingers and pushing of the blade of a pen knife under the finger nails, trying to get us to talk about our submarine and the location of other submarines.”

He says after a few months, the sailors were transferred to camps in Japan where they saw 4 of their compatriots die from a lack of medical attention. Such a tale that has spurned from the Grenadier has Horowitz enthralled in its history and significance.

“This was an important ship during the war and it was very important to all the crew that served on her. When you read the book of the survivors, that was, you know, quite an ordeal they went through and to know where she finally lies and rests, I’m sure it’s very satisfying for them and their families to be able to have some closure.”

 

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