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Australian world triathalon champs to go head-to-head at Challenge Laguna Phuket

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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Australian world triathalon champs to go head-to-head at Challenge Laguna Phuket | The Thaiger

PHUKET: Reigning World Champion Pete ‘PJ’ Jacobs has confirmed he will race the inaugural Challenge Laguna Phuket half distance triathlon on December 1 – setting up an intriguing contest with fellow Australian Chris ‘Macca’ McCormack, the defending title-holder and two-time World Champion, for a slice of the race’s 25,000 euro prize purse.

The elite pair will compete at Challenge Laguna Phuket less than two months after the 2013 World Championships in Kona, Hawaii, where they’re expected to be among the top athletes vying for the coveted honour, with McCormack bidding for a third title to cement his legendary status and Jacobs defending his 2012 crown.

At Challenge Laguna Phuket they are among a pro field that also boasts World Champion and defending Laguna Phuket women’s champion Melissa Hauschildt, together with her 2012 Phuket podium finishers Radka Vodickova and Belinda Granger.

Jacobs is making his debut in Phuket and his duel with McCormack may see him at a disadvantage – McCormack is familiar with the testing course and will also have raced the Laguna Phuket Triathlon a week earlier on November 24, the 20th edition of the legendary race that launches the week-long Challenge Laguna Phuket Tri-Fest.

But Jacobs, a three-time top ten finisher at the World Championships before he lifted his 2012 crown, has a record of posting top swim and run times.

At 31, he’s almost 10 years younger than McCormack and is relishing the prospect of racing against him on Phuket’s tropical paradise course.

“I’m definitely going to be motivated to stay healthy and in good shape after Kona to race against Macca in Phuket,” Jacobs said.

“Competing in Phuket – in such a wonderful location alongside some of the best triathletes in the world – is an amazing opportunity for me to cap off my year with some adventure and adrenaline.

“I’ve heard for so many years about how good Phuket’s race, accommodation, food, and after party are. This year I’ll be putting in extra effort after Kona to be in Phuket ready to race.”

McCormack said: “It’s great to have PJ join the pro start list for Phuket. He’s an amazing talent and as current World Champion will be the major favourite for this race.

“PJ’s biggest skill is his ability to race so well in hot and humid conditions, so this course in Phuket is perfect for him. He’s a good friend of mine and a young athlete that I admire a lot – it’s great to have him joining all of us in Phuket.”

Debbie Dionysius, Assistant Vice President of Destination Marketing, Laguna Phuket, said: “We couldn’t ask for a better contest in our inaugural Challenge Laguna Phuket.

“It’s going to be fantastic watching PJ and Macca battling it out – and with the calibre of the other pros expected to race there’s always the prospect of an upset!”

The Challenge Laguna Phuket Tri-Fest has drawn worldwide interest with more than 600 athletes now signed up for the 20th anniversary edition of the Laguna Phuket Triathlon, and keen demand for the Challenge Laguna Phuket half distance triathlon. Fields in excess of 1,000 athletes are expected for each race.

The Laguna Phuket Triathlon on November 24 will be contested over a 1.8k swim, 55k bike ride and 12k run. The Challenge Laguna Phuket half distance triathlon on December 1 features a 1.9k swim followed by a 90k bike and half marathon 21k run.

Both swim courses are across two bodies of water – a sea course followed by beach run-over to a freshwater lagoon – and the half distance bike course features a mandatory dismount across a pedestrian road bridge.

Pros will compete for a total Challenge Laguna Phuket Tri-Fest prize purse of

US$ 57,000, with US$15,000 on offer in the Laguna Phuket Triathlon; 25,000 euro in Challenge Laguna Phuket – and a bonus US$ 10,000 for the top fastest combined times in both events.

The week-long Challenge Laguna Phuket Tri-Fest staged between the races will this year feature a host of family-friendly triathlon training and social activities around the Laguna Phuket resort, together with charity fund-raising events for local schools and communities.

More information, click here.

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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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