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Compulsory insurance plan for Phuket jet-ski rentals

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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Compulsory insurance plan for Phuket jet-ski rentals | The Thaiger
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PHUKET CITY: In the latest bid to rein in the island’s controversial jet-ski rental industry, the province is considering imposing a mandatory insurance scheme.

A major aim of the policy is to cut down on the number of complaints about operators charging inflated fees for alleged damages to their machines.

A meeting was held at Phuket Provincial Hall on Monday to discuss the problem.

Vice-Governor Worapoj Ratthasima chaired the meeting, which was attended by representatives from jet-ski rental operators and officials from the Marine Department, Kathu Police and the provincial insurance office.

All agreed to meet again at the end of June, after a feasibility study has been carried out.

V/Gov Worapoj said that the province and other agencies continuously receive complaints form tourists about unfair treatment at the hands of jet-ski operators.

The provincial governor would like to see an end to the complaints by finding a solution acceptable to both the tourists and the jet-ski operators. This would also improve the overall image of tourism in the province, he said.

Kathu Police Superintendent Grissak Songmoonnark said that in 2008, Kathu Police dealt with 49 cases involving jet-skis. A total of three million baht in compensation for damage to the machines was paid out, with some individual claims in excess of 100,000 baht.

Col Grissak suggested that establishment of a central repair shop to determine the true cost of damage caused to jet-skis would be one way to tackle the problem.

Suwimon Saelim of the Provincial Insurance Office said that she would contact insurance companies to find out if the idea for mandatory insurance was feasible and, if so, how much it would cost.

Patong Deputy Mayor Chairat Sukban said that he agreed with the proposal.

Patong Municipality receives a steady stream of complaints from tourists about the behavior of jet-ski operators, he added.

Controlling jet-ski operators in Phuket has been a contentious issue for at least a decade. Following two tourist fatalities from jet-ski accidents at the end of 2003, then-governor Udomsak Usawarangkura announced a plan to gradually phase out the industry by 2011, giving operators enough time to find alternative ways to make their livelihoods.

New jet-ski registrations were banned with the intention of gradually reducing the existing fleet of 219 jet-skis to zero as they became inoperable due to wear and tear.

In 2007, Governor Niran Kalayanamit relaxed the ban, allowing operators to transfer registrations from old vessels to new ones, theoretically keeping the number of jet-skis on the island at a maximum of 219.

In reality, the number is far higher. In Patong alone there are now 167 registered jet-skis, compared to 126 in 2004, Mr Chairat said.

Factoring in the the number of jet-skis at the other beaches where they are allowed to operate (Kata, Karon, Kamala and Bang Tao), the total number of jet-skis on the island now far exceeds the 219 permitted under the provincial policy.

Olan Hengcharoen, of the Marine Department’s Phuket Office, which is responsible for jet-ski registrations, said some operators have brought jet-skis registered in other provinces to use in Phuket.

The department cannot legally prevent this, he said.

However, the Phuket office has written to Marine Department offices in other provinces asking for their co-operation in trying to prevent more jet-skis being brought into Phuket.

The Phuket office has also presented the problem to the department headquarters, asking that a clear-cut policy to be issued.

Jet-ski operators present at the meeting were reportedly in favor of the idea to impose mandatory insurance, though they said it would have to be established whether the insurance would cover only damage to the jet-ski itself or be extended to include injuries for the renters and damages to third parties.

Despite the provincial registration ban it is still possible to buy a jet-ski in Phuket.

Mr Ekachai Thongyon, who runs a shop selling Yamaha jet-skis in Cherng Talay for Bt110,000 each, said business has been poor, however.

Sales have fallen to about one jet-ski per month due to the economic downturn, he said.

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Archiving articles from the Phuket Gazette circa 1998 - 2017. View the Phuket Gazette online archive and Digital Gazette PDF Prints.

Tourism

Bangkok Airways add 3 new local routes to their schedule

The Thaiger

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Bangkok Airways add 3 new local routes to their schedule | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Bangkok Airways' ATR72, servicing the re-introduced routes

Some domestic routes are being added as local routes continue to expand. This time Bangkok Airways has announced it’s resuming its Samui-Phuket, Phuket-Hat Yai and Phuket-Pattaya/Rayong (U-Tapao) flights.

The first additions to the schedule will be the Phuket-Samui flights resuming this Sunday, October 25, and the Phuket-Pattaya flights start again next Tuesday, October 27. The Phuket-Samui flights will be operating on Sundays and Wednesdays only on the airlines’ ATR72 turbo prop regional planes, same as before.

A casual search on the Bangkok Airways website, for a return flight from Phuket to Samui on November 1, then back to Phuket on November 8 indicates the cheapest fare (promo) is 2,430 baht. Coming back, the cheapest fare we found, again labelled ‘promo’, was 2,630 baht. Bangkok Airways operate as a “full service” airline and don’t compete with the country’s discount airlines. But they operate these three routes exclusively – like it or leave it.

Bangkok Airways say that the flights will be operated “with the highest preventive measures and standards”. Around the country the Civil Aviation Authority of Thailand have eased a few of the onboard restrictions, including the start of catering services which were originally banned under the initial flight rules when domestic routes started flying again at the start of July.

The daily direct services between Phuket and Hat Yai are also being operated on the ATR72 aircraft. The flight to Ha Yai leaves Phuket at 8.40am and arrives at Hat Yai at 9:.45am. The return flights leave Hat Yai back to Phuket at 10.25am each day. The route was very popular for the airline before the ‘disruption’ when airlines had their fleets grounded in April.

The service between Phuket and U-Tapao, linking the party city with the party island, will operate on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays, again with the ATR72. Phuket to U-Tapao will leave at 12.10pm and then from U-Tapao to Phuket at 4pm on the three days. U-Tapao is about a 50 minute drive from Pattaya and the airport also serves the greater Rayong area.

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Phuket

4 billion baht medical hub planned for Phuket

Maya Taylor

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4 billion baht medical hub planned for Phuket | The Thaiger
Mai Khao beach in north Phuket. PHOTO: Booking.com

Phuket officials are setting aside around 4 billion baht to transform medical tourism in the southern province of Phuket, by developing a state-of-the-art treatment hub in the north of the island. The Bangkok Post reports that the Treasury department is planning to give the Public Health Ministry permission to use 141 rai of government land in the sub-district of Mai Khao, close to Phuket International Airport. It’s not the first time the proposal has come to light.

The concept is gathering support as Phuket battles to diversify its attraction beyond a tropical holiday island.

The aim is to develop Phuket as a world-class health and wellness destination, with facilities that will attract medical tourists from all over the world, as well as providing a high standard of treatment to the local population. It’s understood the facility will provide a full range of health services, including long-term care, and hospice and rehabilitation services.

The island already has a well-developed medical tourism market, but has been based around local hospitals and clinics linking up with foreign marketing companies in the past. “The International Medical and Public Health Service” has been conceived to create more long term financial security and diversification, and value-added tourism in Phuket, as the island has taken a heavy financial hit over the past 7 months.

4 billion baht medical hub planned for Phuket | News by The Thaiger

PHOTO: Phuket Andaman News

The plan was first suggested in 2017, by then governor, Noraphat Plodthong and confirmed by the director of Phuket’s Vachira Hospital, Dr. Chalermpong Sukontapol, in July. At that stage, the estimated budget was 3-4 billion baht. The director-general of the Treasury department, Yuthana Yimkarun, says the plot is being offered to the Health Ministry for free. The land is thought be worth around 1 billion baht.

Yuthana says the ministry will manage investment, with approximately 2 billion baht required for the first stage of the project. Construction of the facility is expected to be completed over 2 years.

Meanwhile, it’s understood that unused government land that is currently managed by various government agencies may be moved under the remit of central government, with a view to increasing its worth. According to the Bangkok Post report, just 4% of government land is directly managed by the Treasury. The other 96% is controlled by various government agencies. Yuthana says the plan is to increase the percentage of state-owned land under the Treasury’s management to 10% within 2 years.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

“Open the borders, safely”, Bill Heinecke, Minor International interview – VIDEO

The Thaiger

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“Open the borders, safely”, Bill Heinecke, Minor International interview – VIDEO | The Thaiger

Bill Heinecke speaks to Bill Barnett. The two heavy-hitters of Thailand’s hotel and hospitality sector, mull over the current Covid situation and the reopening of Thailand’s borders to some form of tourism. Bill Heinecke is the Chairman and Founder of Minor International.

Bill Barnett is the Managing Director of c9hotelworks.com

Now the Thai government has approved the special long-term tourist visa scheme (STV), hoteliers are remaining skeptical about reopening due to the lack of clarity in the recent announcement, which will reportedly take effect next month. The president of the Thai Hotels Association’s southern chapter says more hoteliers will consider reopening if the government gives further information about the plan in terms of prospective markets, arrival dates, origin countries, and flights.

Such details would allow hotels to prepare themselves ahead of time to offer services as alternative state quarantine premises as at least 60 hotels in Phuket are awaiting approval to operate such facilities.

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