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Air Asia aids Phuket

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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Phuket NEWS Hound

– A daily digest of news from around the world compiled by Gazette editors for Phuket’s international community

PHUKET: AirAsia Group is today kicking off a promotional campaign called “It’s OK, Thailand”. The campaign aggressively markets Bangkok as well as other Thai destinations, most notably Phuket, with low fares to revive Thailand’s travel and tourism industry.

The campaign’s first promotion, tagged ‘To Thailand with Love’, is giving away 10,000 free seats to passengers worldwide.

At the launch of the campaign, the airline invited media from ASEAN countries and India to see for themselves that it is now okay to travel to Thailand.

The booking period for the ‘To Thailand with Love’ promotion is from May 28 to June 1, and customers can visit Thailand almost immediately – from June 7 to August 31. In addition to the 10,000 free seats, there are also significantly discounted fares available during this period.

Jetstar also aids Phuket

TODAY Online
The recently-launched Jetstar Holidays packages for families to Phuket and other regional destinations are available for booking for just two more days, i.e. through May 30.

The packages allow for travel from Sept 21 to Nov 10 this year and are inclusive of hotel accommodation on a triple- or quad-sharing basis (two adults and up to two children). Transfers are not included.

Thai tourism outlook gloomy

AFP
Thailand’s National Economic and Social Development Board (NESDB) said on Monday that the Bangkok violence had turned away millions of potential tourists, cutting revenues by 113 billion baht (3.47 billion dollars).

“There will only be about 13 million tourist arrivals this year, a three million drop from our original target of 16 million,” the think-tank said in a statement, noting tourist arrivals from within Asia had particularly declined.

Bill Heinecke, chief executive of the Minor Group, which, in addition to properties in Phuket, owns a Four Seasons hotel in the protest zone, said: “Directly, we’ve seen room cancellations of 100 million baht (3.07 million dollars).”

Peter Intrayota, vice-president of the Thai Hotels Association’s northern branch, said, “Our hotels and streets are empty. Tourists are just cancelling their bookings.”

However, the outlook for Phuket, though not specifically cited by the NESDB, looks considerably better than that for Thailand as a whole, with a 41% increase in arrivals at Phuket International Airport, compared to the same month last year.

Thaksin on the run

The Nation

One day after the Criminal Court issued an arrest warrant over terrorism charges, ex-prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra mounted a global PR blitz to claim his innocence and deny that he financed the red shirts’ burning of Bangkok.

Speaking to New York Times, Thaksin said he did not finance or organise the red-shirt movement, which ended on May 19 in one of the fiercest upheavals in modern Thai history.

“No, no, no,” he said. “I was in Paris – they sent my picture – shopping at Louis Vuitton with my daughter.”

He denied helping finance the red-shirt protest, saying the movement sustained itself through donations from both poor and wealthy supporters.

Thaksin also told the newspaper that he was only involved with the protest leaders from afar. “I am in contact with them and they ask for advice sometimes,” he said, adding, in a non sequitur, that the violent incidents had taken place while he was on his way to attend the Cannes Film Festival.

In his interview with the Globe and Mail, Thaksin refused to disclose his whereabouts. He said national reconciliation in Thailand was “still far away” now that the government had used a military crackdown to bring the two-month red-shirt rally to an end.

“The protesters, they were very angry. They were ready to die because they feel the injustice against them. They want to fight,” Thaksin was quoted as saying. “Those who survived are very angry. It’s not a good sign. I am very worried. I worry about the anger and I worry the government has cornered them instead of talking to them.”

Thaksin also accused Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva’s government, which he described as a “junta”, of hunting down the red shirts. He added that he was ready to compromise.

“Those who survived are being hunted by the government. They are innocent people who are being hunted and detained. I’m more worried about that than myself,” he said. “What I’m concerned about is reconciliation in the country. The government uses the word reconciliation, then creates more conflict.”

Thaksin also gave a video-link interview in English to Australia’s ABC television channel, in which he spoke in broken sentences.

“I can assure this is very, surely politically motivated case, allegation. It is not really a it has no grounds. In my mind I always advocate peaceful protest and I always support my own people that we, Thailand, needs reconciliation. I’m always saying that and I always be.”

— Gazette Editors

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Crime

Police investigating a double murder and suicide in Lampang

Jack Burton

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Police investigating a double murder and suicide in Lampang | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Thai Rath

Police in the northern province of Lampang were called to the scene of a double murder, where a man killed two relatives and stabbed another before killing himself. His motive remains unknown. Police say they learned of the attack at about 7:45am yesterday.

The victims were identified as 52 year old Amphon Saikon and 70 year old Inkaew Promdam. Police and rescue workers called to the scene found the 2 men lying on the road dead with bullet wounds. A third man, identified as the gunman, 52 year old Somthop Saikon, was also found dead with a gunshot wound to the head in front of a wooden house. A shotgun was found near his feet. Police also found a knife and a spare shotgun shell in his pocket.

51 year old Phannee Saikon, the wife of one of the victims, was found inside the house with multiple stab wounds to her chest. Relatives rushed her to a Lampang Hospital.

A neighbour, 51 year old Phan Promdam, told police that all 4 people involved were related. She says she saw Somthop approach Phanee and stab her. Phanee then ran out onto the road and called for help. Her husband and father ran out their house to intervene, but they were met by Somthop with a shotgun, who killed them both.

Phanee fled to her house and hid. Somthop chased her but couldn’t find her. He sat down in front of the house and turned the shotgun on himself, according to Phanee.

Lampang police are investigating.

Police investigating a double murder and suicide in Lampang | News by The Thaiger

In a similar story, police are investigating an apparent murder-suicide in the southern province of Phuket, involving a couple who allegedly had a falling out over drugs. Police were called around 4:30pm Wednesday after people reported hearing a single gunshot. Upon arrival they found a man dead on the ground with a single gunshot wound to his head, an apparent suicide. A revolver was found beside him.

He was later identified as 42 year old Thanet “Oley” Chuisod. Police told The Phuket News that before finding his body they had been called to a shop where Thanet had shot and killed 27 year old Suphattra Suwanworn before speeding off on his motorbike.

SOURCES: Chiang Rai Times | Bangkok Post | The Phuket News

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

They arrived! One Thai/Australian family’s battle to re-unite.

The Thaiger & The Nation

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They arrived! One Thai/Australian family’s battle to re-unite. | The Thaiger

Common sense has prevailed and the uphill task faced by father Sam Kelly last week has had a favourable ending with his Thai wife, Kannika, and 2 children. Ronny and Adam, arriving safely this morning in Brisbane, Australia. His months-long battle with common sense and the vagaries of Thai officialdom has resulted in at least one family being re-united soon – one of many such cases. Not all of them end as well with families around the world still separated by border closures, bans and lack of flights.

This time last week the prospects of Sam’s family getting onto a repatriation flight, organised by the Australian Embassy in Bangkok, looked doubtful as capricious Thai red tape was shuffling his family around as they battled to get from their base in Phuket to Bangkok and then onto the flight. The repatriation flights are rare and seats extremely limited. The flights are a bureaucratic nightmare to organise and Sam was doubtful last week that all the pieces of the paperwork puzzle would fall in place.

Suffice to say Sam, speaking to The Thaiger this morning, was overjoyed.

“They made it! My family have arrived in Brisbane safely and are currently undertaking their mandatory quarantine period there.”

In Australia, the government pays all the bills for the mandatory 14 day quarantine period. Kannika and the 2 boys are staying at a five star hotel in the heart of Brisbane. Sam is stuck on an offshore oil rig with another 3 weeks of work ahead of him before he can be re-united with his family.

You can read the whole background to Sam, Kannika, Ronny and Adam’s adventures to re-unite HERE.

“There are many people we would like to thank, and forgive me if I miss anyone. Firstly from the bottom of my heart I would like to thank the senior Thai government officers that were directly involved…

• General Anupong Phaojinda (พลเอก อนุพงษ. ์เผ่าจินดา) Minister of The Interior รัฐมนตรีว่าการกระทรวงมหาดไทย

• Mr.Chatchai Phomlert นายฉัตรชัย พรหมเลิศ Permanent Secretary ปลัดกระทรวงมหาดไทย

• Mr.Thanakom Jongjira นายธนาคม จงจิระ Director General อธิบดีกรมกาปกครอง

• Mr.Pinij Boonlert นายพินิจ บุญเลิศ Pathumthani Governor ผู้ว่าราชการจังหวัดปทุมธานี

• Mr. Jirawat Dusadeetharangkool นายจิรวัฒน์ ดุษฎีธารางกูร ปลัดอาวุโส ธัญบุรี (Thanyaburi District Senior Officer)

• Mr.Pisanu Prapathananun นายพิษณุ ประภาธนานันท์ Thanyaburi District Chief นายอำเภอธัญบุรี

These officials moved mountains and did everything within the Thai law to make sure my family was safe and released in time for the flight. Without these people we may have not be back together for many more months.

I would also like to thank…

• The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade in Canberra and The Australian Consulate in Bangkok. The staff here have worked very hard to get everything sorted with the relevant Thai authorities for my family to make this flight. I cant even begin to explain how many phone calls and emails were bouncing back and forth between us all.

• All my friends and family from the 4 corners of the globe, Maritime Union of Australia members, the Phuket expat community and the Thai and Australian media who all got involved in my plight. Much love to you all and thankyou for all the phone calls that were made and emails that were sent on our behalf.

Lastly but not least, We would like to thank Australian Ambassador McKinnon and the Thai Government for chartering and arranging these repatriation flights. The effort that goes into this is unbelievable.”

They arrived! One Thai/Australian family's battle to re-unite. | News by The ThaigerThey arrived! One Thai/Australian family's battle to re-unite. | News by The ThaigerThey arrived! One Thai/Australian family's battle to re-unite. | News by The Thaiger

They arrived! One Thai/Australian family's battle to re-unite. | News by The Thaiger

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Tourism

Phuket’s hotels can now open. Someone forgot to tell the hotels.

The Thaiger

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Phuket’s hotels can now open. Someone forgot to tell the hotels. | The Thaiger

Phuket is open. Sort of. And the hotels on the island are officially allowed to re-open but few are flinging open their doors anytime soon to welcome the hordes of tourists lining up to book a room. The holiday island is in a Catch 22 situation with the hotels waiting for the guests to return and potential visitors waiting until there are signs of life.

Although the authorities said hotels could re-open on June 1 they forgot to give hotels any advance notice so management could put all the many wheels in motion necessary to open a modern hotel.

A hotelier told TTR Weekly the first he knew of the lifting of restrictions was when he received a message on his phone saying the province had announced the island’s hotels could reopen.

“They gave no one any warning, but within 30 minutes of the text message on hotels reopening, the social security department sent out messages ending the monthly compensation payments for June.”

But opening up the hotels is just one small step to re-booting Phuket’s battered tourist industry.

What are the guidelines for quarantine, if any? Do guests require any specific documentation? Insurance? Which hotels are actually open? Who is co-ordinating the information? Do travellers get any information about these things when they make their bookings? How do travellers know the hotel’s open anyway?

And if travellers come to Phuket, then return to their province. will they be required to do 14 day quarantine, as required by some provinces?

For now, the only way you can get to Phuket is across the Sarisan Bridge, the only land link to the Thai mainland. The island’s marine piers are also open again but there are scant services running at the moment.

And the airport?

There has been no official announcement about the re-opening of Phuket International Airport, even for domestic services. The island’s provincial authorities applied to the Civil Aviation Authority of Thailand last week to re-open the airport but there has been no official response. Many other airports have now re-opened around Thailand to limited domestic flights but the success of the domestic flights reboot has been sketchy with schedules constantly changing as airlines battle with the ‘new normal’. Passengers are also describing the whole process as a “hassle’ with longer times needed to get into the airport, through check-in, requirements for social distancing and the completely impersonal flight experience with flight crews dressed up like ICU staff.

But there are signs of life. Maybe Thai AirAsia, Nok Air and Vietjet Air know something the rest of us don’t. All three have bookings available, at least between Phuket and Bangkok, from June 16. Fares range from 1,100 up to 1,700 in the week after June 16, one way. But if you’re rushing to buy a ticket, on or off the island, be aware that there is no official green light for a resumption of flights, as of today.

International flights into Thailand are banned up to at least the end of June with, again, no official mention of what will happen after that. Residents of which countries will be allowed to fly in? What restrictions and conditions will be imposed? And which airlines are going to be flying anyway?

The CAAT has extended the ban on international flights twice already.

The Thai government said last month that they were going to use June as the month to clear a lot of the chartered Thai citizen repatriation flights. That the only new cases of Covid-19 in Thailand over the past 2 weeks have been returning citizens, all from Middle East countries, will be a niggling concern for authorities as they figure out how, or when, to re-open international borders.

Back to Phuket…

Even if the hotels are re-opening, where will these magic travellers be coming from. The biggest feeder market, weekenders from Bangkok, will be going to Pattaya or Hua Hin. They’re unlikely to take a 12 hour drive to Phuket, no matter how cheap the hotels, or pretty the beaches. So as long as Thailand is closed to international tourists, and the airport’s sealed off from international travel, the prospects for Phuket’s hotel industry remain extremely limited.

Even if some domestic tourism provides a kick-start to the island’s tourist economy, what will they do when they’re here? All the hot spots are ‘cold’, there are few tours that are considering re-starting for now and it’s wet season anyway.

Speaking to the GM of three hotels on the island, he told The Thaiger that they’re not re-opening until October, at the earliest.

“There are plenty of difficult months ahead with our old staff mostly laid off. When we re-open, many of the staff will be new. The whole things a mess.”

Any bets on June 16 for a re-opening of Phuket Airport to domestic flights?

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