Connect with us

Opinion

250,000 baht in a day. Patong’s para-sailing business.

Tanutam Thawan

Published

on

250,000 baht in a day. Patong’s para-sailing business. | The Thaiger

Following the death of Australian 70 year old businessman, Roger Hussey, in July 2017, and the subsequent investigation and promises for a ‘crackdown’ on the local parasailing industry, things appear to have settled back to ‘normal’. Again.

Read about the tragic death of Mr. Hussey HERE.

We have nothing against good people doing business in their own country. Most of the people involved seemed quite pleasant. We’re just reporting what we witnessed.

In a one hour period on a typical Saturday afternoon – not particularly busy on Patong Beach – we watched the parasail vendors ply their trade almost directly in front of Bangla Road.

Over the hour from 5.15 to 6.15pm 26 people went up on a ride, that’s nearly one every two minutes. There was a 30 second turn around between one customer landing, being unclipped and the next ‘passenger’ being clipped in and being dragged off into the sky for their two minute journey.

The entire system, run by five assistants, a few salespeople drifting around the beach with a multi-language flash card to drum up business and two in the speed boat, pocketed approximately 31,200 (based on their rate of 1,200 baht for a ‘QUICK’ ride and 1,500 baht for a longer ride). We presumed the two minute ride was the ‘quick’ ride. If they did this for an entire day, say, starting at 10am, then they had the potential of making nearly 250,000 baht per day. PER DAY!!!! Of course they’re unlikely to do this roaring trade all day, every day. But they appeared to have no end of willing customers queuing up to fly over Phuket’s busiest and least-clean beach.

Very efficient, and lucrative we figure. An income of twice the average monthly Thai wage, in an hour! They would need to pay fuel costs for the boat, maintenance on the boats, storage fees, presumably some ‘thankyous’ for being able to operate on a public beach in the first-place and wages to the assistants.

A few things leapt out at me whilst watching.

Firstly the ‘jockey’ who takes to the skies with the paying passenger has absolutely no attachment to the parachute at all. They go along for the ride for seemingly no reason. They don’t assist with the landing – the ground assistants are there to catch and recover. They may do some sort of steering in the latter moments of the landing process but, really, the speed of the boat and the wind are in almost total control of the parasail’s flightpath.

Secondly, the ground assistants can be a bit aggressive with people that walk through their ‘domain’ – the area needed for the take-offs, landings and tow rope (which is about 50 metres long). They were shooing tourists away to keep them away from getting hit by landing parachutes and the tow rope. They didn’t appear to have had a lot of customer service training in regard to their handling of the tourists, whose only crime was walking along a public beach.

Finally, and most controversially, how in earth do these businesses operate on Phuket’s public beaches when ALL the other beach ‘commerce’ was swept off the beaches with great fanfare post the 2014 coup and the crackdown on the sunbed and umbrella vendors? It could be argued that they’re providing a service but just one beach had eight operators taking up large sections of a public beach for the purpose of making money, lots of money.

If there was any paperwork, receipts, contracts or insurance, we didn’t see it. Would be happy to be informed if the operators have all the required paperwork in place – for their sake and that of their customers.

The same could be said for the jetski operators but we’ll save their story for another day.

A lot was said and promised at the time of the Australian’s death (after falling out of his harness into the shallows of Karon Beach) – a code of conduct, stricter safety regulations, inspections, paperwork. We saw little evidence of any of this and would like to ask officials and Phuket’s Governor “what are you doing to protect paying passengers from this happening again”? And “how can these unsupervised adventure activities get permission to operate on a public beach when all the other commercial activities have been banned?”

We have sent these questions off to the various officials and will report their answers when we receive a response.



Read more headlines, reports & breaking news in Phuket. Or catch up on your Thailand news.

Local Thai journalist speaking fluent Thai and English. Tanutam studied in Khon Kaen before attending Bangkok’s Chulalongkhorn University.

Continue Reading
5 Comments

5 Comments

  1. simon01

    September 10, 2017 at 12:11 pm

    Its the same with everything on Phuket. What ever the current news story they do a 3-4 day ” crackdown ” for the papers and then do nothing more and everything is back to normal in a few days. The Para sailing are rude and violent when it comes to any non customer on their bit of beach. They do not allow anyone on their bit of beach. If you put a towel out to sunbath they shout at you, kick sand at you tread all over your bags and make the beaches a 10% zone for tourists and 90% for them. But they pay who they need to pay to ignore them. Same as before The same with the Tuk Tuks in patong, the road carnage, the jet ski. Nothing is ever done about any of them in reality. Nothing more than a quick photo shoot for the papers to counter what ever the last death or accident was. But nothing ever done to stop any of them happening again or ending the problems. But I hope that if enough people complain and comment on how bad the rules, safety and lack of enforcment is then just may be one day several years from now may be something will be done and just may be Phukets beaches will be a safe place for tourists again.

  2. haymanpl

    September 11, 2017 at 12:56 am

    “how can these unsupervised adventure activities get permission to operate on a public beach when all the other commercial activities have been banned?”

    Simple. Pay money to the people in power.

  3. richy

    September 11, 2017 at 5:41 pm

    I am a regular visitor of Patong but lately I stay away from the beach. The water is oily, due to the criss-crossing motor boats carrying the para-sailers in the air. Besides, the boats are going dangerously close to the bathers. I wonder why the authorities are not intervening.

You must be logged in to post a comment Login

Leave a Reply

Opinion

December 4 – Thailand’s national day of shame

Tim Newton

Published

on

December 4 – Thailand’s national day of shame | The Thaiger

Today is Thai Environment Day. Today convenience stores, trade stores and shopping malls will refrain from providing single-use plastic bags to shoppers and at the same time will campaign for donation of cloth bags to be distributed to hospitals for containing medicines.

Whether any of this actually happens, we will see.

The proposed plastic bag-free day is the outcome of a memorandum of understanding signed by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment and operators of convenience stores, trade stores and shopping malls to reduce the use of single-use plastic bags.

The cynical campaign is another chance for the Thai government to indicate its ‘commitment’ to the Thai environment and the reduction of single-use plastic bags whilst doing next to nothing to actually solve the problem.

Encouraging Thais to reduce their use of single-use plastic bags for one day out of 365 should be seen as national day of shame.

Thailand is one of the region’s main contributors to plastic waste floating around the seas with daily photos of dead sea-life making their way onto social media. Dead sea animals are routinely retrieved and, upon examination, are found to have ingested plastic bags or suffocated with plastic lodged in their mouths or around their necks.

The problem of single-use plastic bags, the removal of these items out of the retail chain and the proper disposal of plastics remains unmanaged and unplanned in Thailand.

Back in October the Central Pattana Group in Phuket, the operators of Central Festival and Central Floresta, who also own the TOPS supermarket chain and Family Mart convenience stores, loudly lauded their ‘no plastic bag’ campaign which meant they would ask customers if they really needed a plastic bag and offered a 200 baht cloth replacement… ONE DAY A MONTH.

Another cynical PR stunt without substance or any real commitment to reduce the amount of single-use plastic bags marching out the doors of their retail stores and shopping centres.

The Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment is saying that after the “plastic bag-free day” today, all the stores and malls will work out their own measures to reduce the use of the plastic bags, such as designating a day or a few days of a week that no plastic bags will be provided to shoppers.

In other words next-to-nothing. No commitments, no targets, just vague words without any concrete action from the Thai Government.

According to unofficial estimates, each Thai generates 1.4 kilograms of garbage a day or 74,000 tonnes of garbage a day for the entire population which means that a total of 2,960 10-wheel trucks with the capacity of hauling 25 tonnes of garbage each will be needed to carry the trash to dump sites or land fills for disposal.

There is enough evidence from multiple studies and surveys (or just walk along any Thai beach) to show that single-use plastics are a major environmental threat and need urgent political attention and action instead or meaningless words and PR stunts.

And watch today as thousands and thousands of Thais will, like every other day, stop on the roadside to purchase their delicious Thai iced coffee in a plastic cup, with a plastic cup-cover, in a plastic bag with a plastic straw.

December 4 - Thailand’s national day of shame | News by The Thaiger

Continue Reading

Opinion

How will ‘Chindia’ change Phuket’s tourism future?’

Bill Barnett

Published

on

How will ‘Chindia’ change Phuket’s tourism future?’ | The Thaiger

What exactly is this Chindia?  In a nutshell it’s a flash drive marketplace with 1/3 of the world’s population – China and India.

For a great number of Phuket hoteliers, the first half of 2018 saw marketplace velocity, where RevPAR’s rose on surging demand, and the most often heard comment was the ignominious ‘same same’. Though room rate growth was not there, volume ruled the day.

Next came, what is referred to on the Mainland as the ‘boat sinking’ and suddenly the monsoon gloom thrust the blazing sun into a dark room, way out back. Chinese numbers sunk, airlift declined and online chatter in China denounced not only Phuket but cast a broader shadow on Brand Thailand.

The traditional concept that the mojo of Thai teflon would result in only a slight momentary blip turned out to be erroneous. While the fallout from the incident has lessened, there remains a strongly demonstrated downward shift in Mainland Chinese tourists to both Phuket and Thailand.

What is clear is that there can be no separation in negative sentiment between Phuket and the larger Thai brand. Essentially both get a collective emoji award with an ‘un-smiley’ face.

Another negative has been the depreciation of the Mainland Chinese currency, the yuan. While most of the damage has been done over the past 4 years, this year has seen further erosion, as the Thai baht has remained strong.

Hoteliers staring into the looking glass of the fast approaching 2019 are increasingly being fixated by the magnetic attraction of Chindia. What exactly is this Chindia?  In a nutshell it’s a flash drive marketplace with 1/3 of the world’s population – China and India.

What’s most attractive is door-to-door average flying time to major gateways in both countries of 4 to 5 and a half hours. Over the years I have been asked the question “what is the secret of Phuket’s success?” A great deal of it actually has to do with geography.

Geography has a lot to do with accidental tourism. One can look back to 1967 and the ensuring decade when Thai Airways was instrumental in opening up broad access to Bali which was a connector from Bangkok, and fitting into the Sydney to London route as key access points. In those days, the constraints of long-haul flights made the refueling stop necessary but fast forward to the present and the emergence of single body dominated low-cost airlines fits like a glove into the Phuket Chindia equation. Yes history buffs, Thailand’s flag carrier was a key enabler of early stage Bali hotel growth.

There is little doubt that Indian tourism holds great promise for Phuket. Geography helps, as does the depth of the islands tourism sector to cater to marque events like Indian weddings. Looking into the numbers is enlightening, as there are two significant events on the island which are both valued in excess of US$10 million in spend.

Leading the change has been India’s GoAir who launched direct flights between Phuket and New Delhi as well as Mumbai in October. Next month Bengaluru will be added. Will other Indian carriers such a IndiGo or Jet Airways follow, or will AirAsia join the fray? It’s clearly only a matter of time.

Just last week, I was talking about STR hotel performance data on Phuket in October, and the fact is year-on-year performance remains ‘constrained’ or in straight talk -broad business is down. Inside the numbers some hotels have held traction but in the big picture, the loss  is evident event to the blindsided types out there.

The China situation has been hurtful. And though it’s comforting to see Russian travelers at Phuket International Airport lugging pink and blue plastic buckets of mangos around, the reality is the island’s tourism market is a year-round proposition and relying on snowbirds alone won’t cut it.

We live in an industry that flirts with the thin line between love and hate. The Chinese came, they were loved, then hated and now truly missed. With India, the play is cautious optimism, but the mounting importance of a solid Chindia strategy is the most prolific question facing island hotels now and in the coming year.

Continue Reading

Koh Samui

Koh Samui balancing on tourism razor’s edge

Bill Barnett

Published

on

Koh Samui balancing on tourism razor’s edge | The Thaiger

PHOTO: www.thekalasamui.com

“…shrinking Chinese demand due to the economic slowdown and depreciation for the yuan versus the baht”

The time has come to open the discussion about the troubling drop in one of Thailand’s leading resort destinations, Koh Samui.

Looking into the island’s performance numbers, according to data from international  hospitality benchmarking  group STR, at the end of August room night demand was down year-to-date by 4.4%.

Viewing a broader market metric C9 Hotelworks research has shown through September that hotel occupancy for the first nine months of the year declined by over 7% compared to the same period in 2017.

One cannot simply account for the dismal numbers as an effect of the China ‘boat sinking’ crisis which was triggered in the middle of the year. Airlift is the elephant in the room of island tourism destinations. During the first six months of this year, domestic arrivals at Koh Samui Airport dropped by 19%, with each month reflecting a negative variance compared to the same month in 2017.

Many industry watchers have pointed to the termination of Thai Airways International flights between Bangkok and Koh Samui in September as a trigger. The reality of the airlift in fact is TG retired an aging 737-400 jet that was used to service the route. It lacks an appropriate replacement given the island’s short runway and negotiated a codeshare agreement with Bangkok Airways to ensure travelers transit seamlessly.

One telling indicator of the market malaise is Surat Thani Airport on the mainland. Over the past few years a rising number of Chinese travelers had used the gateway and were ferried on to Koh Samui. Diving into the latest available data, international arrivals at Surat Thani for the period of January through September dropped 36%, while domestic arrivals only slightly moved downward by 1%.

Armed with the numbers I started a dialogue with island hoteliers to better understand the situation. For the most part, there were similar stories about shrinking Chinese demand due to the economic slowdown and depreciation for the yuan versus the baht.

Arguably the legacy European markets were slower based on the impact of a World Cup year. Lastly is the rise of Vietnam’s beach destination’s including Da Nang, Nha Trang and Phu Quoc.

Ultimately there is little doubt though that the sheer cost of airfares to Koh Samui remain a vital barrier to entry. Phuket continues to see more low-cost airline carriers which has contributed to growth in price sensitive markets. Samui’s environmental restrictions on the number of daily flights and lack of airline carrier diversity in the LCC space has created a glass ceiling.

For hotels, frankly there is no easy answer. The island has somewhat avoided the massive development crush of other resort locations in Thailand and Southeast Asia, but the nature of the island’s economic dependence on tourism has caged the golden goose. Damned if they do or damned if they don’t, the path to tourism maturity comes with a price tag with either staying small or going big. The hotel and tourism sector will likely remain stressed going forward, though certain niches such as luxury properties and wellness offerings tend to buck the trend.

To sum up the future, something has to happen with the airport issue to balance mounting infrastructure drains. The continued influx of Full Moon travellers transiting to nearby Koh Phangan and early stage development of Koh Tao are just another part of the equation.

In short, Koh Samui either needs to find a way to grow the existing airport or else find a new location and long-term solution to the airport conundrum.

Koh Samui balancing on tourism razor’s edge | News by The Thaiger

Continue Reading

The Thaiger Newsletter

Keep up with all the day’s news. Subscribe here.

The latest news and information from Thailand.

* indicates required

Trending