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CSD called in after diver’s disappearance

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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CSD called in after diver’s disappearance | The Thaiger

KAMALA: The family of missing divemaster Phikun “Nori” Srisaksungnoen traveled to Bangkok on December 22 and filed a missing-person report with the Crime Suppression Division (CSD), which is now investigating the disappearance independently of Kathu Police Station. K. Nori’s mother, 54-year-old Soi Mungpanklang, and her younger sister Thanachat Srisaksungnoen, 23, told CSD officials that the investigation by Kathu Police Station had stalled, and that they had reason to believe K. Nori was murdered by her German ex-husband. They fear that he disposed of her body by feeding it to one of the more than 200 snakes kept on his large hillside estate in Kamala – a claim that her ex-husband rejects. The story has been widely and colorfully published in the Thai press, but police officers confirm that no charges have been laid. They say they have yet to discover meaningful evidence, and that the ex-husband has been cooperating with them in their investigations. K. Nori, 25, was last seen at about 10 pm on November 29 at a bar in Kamala, where she had been celebrating with friends after a dive. Her family members, who also live in Kamala, said her disappearance was strange because she left behind her car and two children, who are now being cared for by their father. K. Phikun ended the relationship with her husband about six months ago after 10 years of living together as man and wife in an unregistered marriage which began when K. Nori was just 15 years old. Apparently the estranged couple continued to live on the same estate even after the marriage ended. CSD interrogator Pol Capt Direk Chomyong told the Gazette that the family was concerned that K. Pikun’s estranged husband might have murdered her in a jealous rage because she had taken a new lover. They also feared that he fed her body to a snake, adding that one of his three-meter pythons had gone missing. Capt Direk quoted K. Thanachat as telling him that K. Nori and her ex-husband fought many times because he was jealous of her new boyfriend. They told the CSD that until late on the evening of November 29, neighbors often reported hearing screams coming from the house, but that after that there was only silence, and nobody had seen K Nori since. Kathu Police Station Superintendent Pol Col Chalit Thinthani told the Gazette that he had not yet been contacted by the CSD. He confirmed that a search of the grounds had turned up one of K. Pikun’s shoes, which was stained with blood. Col Chalit said, “[The husband] keeps more that 200 snakes in his home, but he denies killing his wife. He told us that K. Nori [probably] ran away with her lover. While we were there, he allowed the police to make a search.” Col Chalit said that a check had revealed that all of the snakes were legally registered and were used for educational purposes. He added that Kathu Police will continue to investigate. “A few days ago somebody told us they saw somebody that looks like K. Nori walking along Patong Beach,” he added. Marcus Etter of Merlin Divers, where K. Nori had worked, described the missing woman as his business partner and told the Gazette that he had still not been contacted by her. He is offering a 50,000-baht reward for her return. Anyone who has seen K. Nori is asked to notify his or her local police station, or to contact Mr Etter at 076-385518, 06-6829861, or infor@merlin-divers.com

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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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