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Adopt-a-highway scheme in the works

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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Adopt-a-highway scheme in the works | The Thaiger

PHUKET CITY: The provincial government is to launch two ambitious schemes aimed at beautifying Phuket. The Phuket Provincial Highways Office (PPHO) has already received 2.4 million baht in provincial funds to beautify the five-kilometer stretch of road connecting Phuket International Airport to Thepkrasattri Rd, and is now developing an “adopt-a-highway” scheme intended to spruce up the entire 40-km length of Thepkrasattri Rd from the airport to Phuket City. PPHO Chief Wanchai Wattanasiri said the project is in line with the policy of Phuket Governor Udomsak Usawarangkura, who was ordered by Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra to plant bouganvillea and make other improvements to the route from the airport into town. The order came as the two CEOs drove together along the road during the PM’s most recent visit to the island, in February this year. The Governor quoted the Prime Minister as saying he wants visiting tourists to enjoy a nice view all the way from the airport to their hotels. In order to turn the PM’s vision into reality, the PPHO is now preparing a model of the proposed improvements for submission to Vice Governor Winai Buapradit, who is responsible for the project, dubbed krongkaan thanon suay (Beautiful Road Project). The private sector is being called on to foot the bill. “We will divide Thepkrasattri Rd into one-kilometer sections and allow the private sector – developers, companies or hotels – to sponsor the beautification work within each section,” said K. Wanchai. K. Wanchai said he expects sponsorship for each 1-kilometer stretch to range from 700,000 to 1.2 million baht, depending on the width of the road. Sponsors who carry out the upgrade and maintenance work themselves will be eligible for a lower rate, but the work must conform with the Government approved design specifications, he added. In exchange for their contribution, sponsors will be allowed to erect signs informing passers-by that their business is responsible for the roadside scenery. The signs, too, will have to conform with government rules on size and appearance. After the improvements are made, the companies will be able to continue their sponsorship in following years by paying an annual maintenance fee, the amount of which will be determined during the first year of the project. K. Wanchai said that 20 businesses had already applied to take part in the scheme, which he said is similar to schemes that have been successfully implemented for decades in many US states. In a related development, the PPHO will install 110 new light poles along the road to the airport next month. The work should be completed by the end of July, said K. Wanchai. Gov Udomsak told the Gazette that, in addition to the Beautiful Road Project, the province is also working on an island-wide waste management scheme that has been provisionally entitled Chao Baan Kwaad Muang (“The Villagers Sweep the Town”). The plan, still in the planning stages, is expected to begin next month. “We will encourage Phuket people to keep their island clean. Volunteers will check areas around people’s homes to see if they are being kept clean. The information they collect will be recorded in a registration log. “We will enforce provisions of the Public Health Act and other applicable laws. Responsibility will rest with local administration bodies such as tambon administration organizations,” said the Governor.

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Archiving articles from the Phuket Gazette circa 1998 - 2017. View the Phuket Gazette online archive and Digital Gazette PDF Prints.

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News

30 dolphins greet visitors to Similan Islands

Greeley Pulitzer

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30 dolphins greet visitors to Similan Islands | The Thaiger

Tourists were treated to the sight of a school of dolphins in the Similan Islands off the Phang Nga coast on Sunday.

Tour organisers said that around 30 dolphins swam close to the boat six or seven miles offshore, creating excitement for passengers. It was the first time dolphins had been seen in the vicinity since October 15.

The Similan Islands National Park director said they were bottlenose dolphins and were among several species now returning to the area following a five-year closure of the park for environmental rehabilitation. Food is again plentiful there for them, he said.

Tourists are forbidden to feed wildlife lest the free handouts alter the animals’ natural behaviour, and the park’s waters are also very sensitive to contamination from human disease and marine debris, according to the director.

SOURCE: nationthailand.com

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Patong

Phuket hotels slashing the price of rooms

The Thaiger

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Phuket hotels slashing the price of rooms | The Thaiger

by Sophie Deviller

Hotels on Thailand’s most popular holiday island are being forced to slash prices, with rooms left vacant and beaches sparse as Thailand’s tourism chiefs struggle with a plunge in Chinese visitors caused by the US trade war and a stronger baht. Phuket was the most visited destination in the country last year, after Bangkok, and a good gauge of the state of its crucial travel industry.

Tourism accounts for 18% of Thailand’s gross domestic product and Chinese holidaymakers make up more than a quarter of total arrivals. But while 2.2 million people from the country visited in 2018, according to official figures, the numbers for January-September were down almost 20% year on year.

Claude de Crissey, the French Honorary Consul in Phuket and owner of about 40 rooms in the Patong Beach area, says Chinese tourists are usually present even during the current low season.

“That was not the case this year,” he said, adding he had to lower his prices by as much as 50%.

The problem is not only in Phuket, with hotels also struggling to fill rooms in the seaside resort of Pattaya on the mainland and on Koh Samui.

Trade tensions with the US have already made some Chinese reluctant to take holidays owing to uncertainty back home, while the Thai baht has risen about 10% against the yuan this year.

A boating disaster off Phuket’s coast that killed 47 Chinese holidaymakers in July 2018 also scared some off.

“We are worried,” said an industry insider, declining to be named due to the sensitivity of the topic in a country where tourism provides tens of thousands of jobs. Adding to the headache is the fact that more than 3,000 new hotel rooms are being constructed on the island, raising the question of who will fill them.

Phuket hotels slashing the price of rooms | News by The Thaiger

“In terms of business, it’s not good,” said Kongsak Khoopongsakorn, vice-president of the association of hotels in Thailand and director of Vijitt Resort.

“Because … we have more hotels, more rooms to sell, we have more restaurants, more coffee shops.”

Still, tourism authority chairman Yuthasak Supasorn said he remained “optimistic.”

“We should reach our goal of 39.8 million foreign visitors.”

However, that is only up from 38.2 million in 2018, much less than the jump seen from the previous year’s total of 35.6 million.

Counting on India

Now hoteliers and tour package operators are targeting visitors from elsewhere, particularly India, which experts see as a huge untapped market.

A rapid expansion of the middle class in India, increased direct flights and visa-free travel have prompted Thailand to revise forecasts upwards.

It now expects two million Indian tourists this year, after an increase of nearly 25% on-year in the first seven months. But for now, the lower arrivals is evident on the streets of Phuket.

“I’ve never seen anything as bad as what it is at the moment,” said Paul Scott from Australia, who said he has been coming to Thailand for 15 years.

He mainly blamed the stronger baht for the drop-off but also the fact that Thailand wasn’t the untouched vacation paradise it once was. “Now it’s not so new … and it’s not cheap,” he said.

SOURCE: AFP

Phuket hotels slashing the price of rooms | News by The Thaiger

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Events

The 15th Mai Khao Marine Turtle fun run attracts more than 4,000 runners

The Thaiger

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The 15th Mai Khao Marine Turtle fun run attracts more than 4,000 runners | The Thaiger

4,000 runners from Thailand and overseas took part in the 15th Mai Khao Marine Turtle Fun Run and Half Marathon 2019 yesterday, starting from the Phuket Gateway.

The event is expected to raise 700,000 baht for the charity, now in its 15th year. The money raised goes towards to The Mai Khao Marine Turtle Foundation, which is committed to protecting the marine and coastal environment, and ecosystems, for the wellbeing of sea turtles that nest in the Mai Khao beach and the surrounding areas.

The annual race also provides funds for thePhuket Marine Biological Centre’s Injured Turtle Rehabilitation Program and The Third NavalArea Command’s Turtle Hatchery Program.

The race was in its 15th year and runners of all ages and abilities took part in the race. The morning’s racing was divided into five categories – the 21.1km half marathon, 10.5km mini- marathon, 5km fun run and 3k family run and VIP participants for all the races. The route of 21.1 kilometre race took runners northwest along the Haad Sai Kaew beach towards Thao Thepkasattri bridge, past the rural road No. 3006, run along the road – Pi Lai viewpoint area returned back along the T. Baan Tha Nun to the iconic Sarasin bridge before finished the half marathon in the Phuket Gateway.

For Mini Marathon 10.5 km – Over all category, Mr. Chinnawat Changlek clocked 39 minutes and 40 seconds to clinch victory in the male half marathon, winning prize money and a trophy with the signature of Phuket’s Governor. The winner in the female mini marathon was Surakarn Wanna with a time of 47 minutes and 47 seconds.

Winners also received a prize gift voucher as well as a medal. Congratulations to all participants.

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