Air Asia aids Phuket

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.

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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

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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