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Club Med Phuket sets up swim zone at Kata Beach

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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Club Med Phuket sets up swim zone at Kata Beach | The Thaiger

PHUKET: A second swim area has been cordoned off at Kata Beach in Phuket, but lifeguards continue to worry about the safety of swimmers and snorkelers who venture outside the float ropes and into the path of speedboats and jet-skis.

Safety issues at the popular west coast beach were highlighted earlier this month when Russian tourist Nikolai Nefedov, was hit by a parasail boat. He survived the incident by attempting to dive down below the boat. Despite Mr Nefedov’s efforts, his leg was still badly mangled by the propeller of the boat, the operator of which was never sought by the police.

Yesterday, a foreign tourist posting on the Phuket forum of the popular ThaiVisa.com website had a similar story:

“I’m a British tourist. Yesterday I was swimming at Kata Beach when I was nearly run over by one of the powerboats. I think it was the parasail one. When I shouted at the driver he then maneuvered his boat between me and the shore and proceeded to try and whip me with a coil of rope!”

“I attempted to report the incident to the police but they seemed uninterested. They even sniggered. They told me that if I wanted to make something of it I would have to travel to the police station in Chalong to file a report,” he wrote.

To see what improvements have been made to the beach since the start of the high season, the Gazette contacted Wijit Dasantad, a community liaison officer at the Club Med Resort. He confirmed that the resort deployed a floating cordon off the beach a few days ago.

“Club Med’s roped off area is 200 meters wide and extends 100 meters from the beach. We set it out every high season and it stays till around April. It cost about 50,000 baht, including installation,” he said.

The addition of the Club Med swimming zone is the second at Kata Beach. Another was set up in front of the Kata Beach Resort earlier in the season.

Mr Wijit said most parasail boats and Thai jet-ski operators stay 100 to 200 meters offshore, where swimmers are few. However tourists who rent jet-skis often come too close to the shoreline, endangering swimmers, he said.

A tour operator at Laem Sai told the Gazette that Mr Nefedov was snorkeling about 50 meters offshore when he was hit by the parasail speedboat.

Uten Singsom, head of the Kata-Karon Lifeguard Club, told the Gazette the increase in activity at the beach from December through February makes accidents inevitable if clearly delineated zones for swimmers and marine vessel operators are not established.

To further increase safety, the Kata-Karon Lifeguard Club has asked the Phuket Provincial Administration Organization to request the Karon municipality to set up a system of red and yellow flags, which lifeguards would use to indicate to tourists where it is safe to enter the water, he said.

“Until such a system is in place, accidents can happen at any time,” he said.

While Kata Bay is generally free of riptides during the high season, increased activity poses its own set of risks, including tourists who go in the water while drunk or who suffer from medical conditions that put them at risk, said Mr Uten.

He offered the example of a Russian tourist who drowned in waist-deep water last month as a case in point.

The Kata-Karon Lifeguard club currently has six guards stationed at Kata Beach and three at Kata Noi, he said.

There are also 16 lifeguards along Karon Beach, which currently has two safe swimming zones: one in front of the Hilton Arcadia Phuket Resort & Spa and the other off the stretch of beach at Karon Circle.

— Atchaa Khamlo

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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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