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Cruise liner rallies against paying Phuket port extra fees

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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Cruise liner rallies against paying Phuket port extra fees | Thaiger

PHUKET: The representative of a major cruise line operator that brings thousands of tourists to Phuket each week has lobbied Provincial Hall to stop the company from having to pay “extra fees” levied every time the Phuket Deep Sea Port is double-booked.

At a meeting headed by Phuket Vice Governor Somkiet Sungkaosuthirak on Wednesday, Thanin Thumsuwan of Thoresen Shipping and Logistics Co Ltd explained, “Two of our cruise liners dock at either Phuket Deep Sea Port or anchor off Patong Beach every week, depending on the weather.

“We have to inform the port about a year in advance of when our cruise liners will arrive at the port. But when the time comes, if a cargo ship is docked at the port when one of our ships is due to arrive, the port authority has to ask the cargo ship to move out before we arrive, and dock again after we leave.

“Each time this happens, the cruise liner is asked to pay an extra fee. This is not fair,” said Mr Thanin.

Thamrong Thongtan, Chief of the Phuket Treasury Office, expressed his concern to V/Gov Somkiet, saying, “This practice was introduced without informing them first, so we are afraid that if this problem continues, it will affect the tourism industry and overall economy of Phuket.

“I therefore would like the relevant organizations to think about the potential solutions to the problem,” Mr Thamrong added.

However, Wattanachai Raunglertpanyakul, Director of Chaophaya Terminal International Co Ltd, which has the government concession to operate the Songkhla and Phuket Ports, explained that the service at the Phuket Deep Sea Port was “first come, first served.”

“Even though the [cruise line] company informs the Phuket port in advance of the exact times when their ships will arrive, they still have to wait for any ships using the port to finish what they are doing before they can dock at the port,” he explained.

Mr Wattanachai highlighted that his company was already “bending the rules” on safety in order to support tourism and allow the large cruise liners to use the port.

“The Phuket Deep Sea Port is a cargo port with a quay 360 meters long. Two ships can dock at the same time if the ships do not exceed 175m each. We allow [cruise liner] ships up to 210m long to dock, but the port is not designed to handle ships that size. We allow them to do this only for the sake of supporting the tourism industry,” he explained.

Mr Wattanachai added that, as a temporary solution, he had brokered a deal with cargo ship companies that use the port.

“We have made an agreement with cargo ships that if a cruise liner loaded with passengers wants to dock while they are using the port, they will exit the port to allow all passengers to be unloaded from the cruise liner,” he explained.

“But the condition is that the cruise liners have to pay a fee of about 60,000 up to 100,000 baht, depending on the size of the cargo ship that has to leave the port. Cargo ships have to pay 450,000 to 600,000 baht per day to use the port,” Mr Wattanachai explained.

The port director seized the opportunity to highlight that the stalled port expansion would solve the problem.

“We plan to extend the port from 360m to 420m long so it accommodate more than one large ship at a time. We also plan to build an arrival and departure hall for passengers. It will take at least two years to complete the construction, including passing its Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA).

“When the construction is complete, it will help to fix this problem. Until then, we will have to continue doing what we are doing to fix the problem in short term,” Mr Wattanachai explained.

However, the project to expand the port, at a cost of more than 100 million baht, has stalled over its (EIA) report.

Regardless, Vice Governor Somkiet suggested that, for now, Mr Wattanachai continues with the current solution until the expansion construction has been completed.

“I also recommend that the Phuket Deep Sea Port issue a notice to explain the reasons why the cruise liners have to pay the fee and how much it will cost.

“For my part, I will raise this issue with the governor as the Deep Sea Port is an important gateway for tourism in Phuket,” said Vice Governor Somkiet.

— Kritsada Mueanhawong

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Chiang Mai

Tourism officials slash Songkran travel expectations by half

Tim Newton

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Tourism officials slash Songkran travel expectations by half | Thaiger

The TAT, ever the optimists regarding anything tourism related, even domestic tourism, predict that the Bangkok clusters that have emerged in the week before the Songkran break could reduce traffic and spending by up to half.

Today the CCSA is reporting 789 new infections and one additional death. 522 were local infections, mostly walk-ins to Bangkok hospitals, 259 were discovered through track and tracing. The remaining 8 were found in quarantine from overseas arrivals. In Phuket, another 17 cases have been reported today, taking the island’s week total to 43.

Tourism officials slash Songkran travel expectations by half | News by ThaigerGRAPH: Worldometer figures for Thailand, up to April 9

A 68 year old man from Nakhon Pathom province died on April 4 but wasn’t reported until today. The CCSA report that he died from Covid and “complications”. 33 other former patients have recovered and been discharged.

Last week the TAT estimated 3.2 million domestic trips would circulate 12 billion baht for the Thai economy. But the Tourism Authority has now slashed their estimates by half after hotels, airlines and bus companies reported mass cancellations in the last few days. Other provinces are reporting less than 20% cancellations. Although this weekend will see a lot of travel, Songkran doesn’t formally start until next Tuesday and the TAT expect there could be additional fallout as travellers decide to have a staycation for Songkran instead heading home.

Bangkok Post reports that 70% of travellers to Prachuap Khiri Khan and Hua Hin have already cancelled hotel bookings. Similar cancellations have been reported in Pattaya, Phuket and Chiang Mai. Many other provinces, particularly in the north east and north, are also enforcing quarantine on arrivals or additional paperwork to try and protect their provinces from any of the Bangkok clusters.

8 north eastern provinces rare now requiring 10 or 14 day quarantine periods for anyone arriving from areas where new clusters have been reported. Chiang Mai provincial officials say that tourists from Samut Prakan, Nakhon Pathom, Bangkok, Pathum Thani and Nonthaburi – basically Bangkok and surrounding provinces – must complete a 14 day mandatory quarantine or conduct a test for Covid when they arrive.

The reality is that the travel and quarantine changes are outstripping the ability to communicate them all. Anyone crossing into other provinces in the next few day, especially if you’re travelling from Bangkok and surrounding provincial ‘red zones’ can expect some additional paperwork or a Covid test. Or even quarantine.

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Education

Phuket student protests and is flunked as “not loyal to the nation”

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Phuket student protests and is flunked as “not loyal to the nation” | Thaiger
FILE PHOTO: Student protests led to one student not graduating due to being “not loyal to the nation, institution of the monarchy”

After participating in protests for student’s rights, a Phuket student was barred from graduating 9th grade, moving from middle school to high school, charged with being “not loyal to the nation, institution of the monarchy”. The student had advocated against mandatory uniforms and for student’s liberties. He told reporters that the school started paying attention to his actions last year when he participated in rallies in solidarity with students across Thailand. The school’s student affairs office received a copy of posts he made on social media encouraging others to join the cause. The school ordered a stop to his political actions, but he and his friends disregarded warnings and violated school rules when they handed out white ribbons to classmates. They received a warning from the student affairs office.

Student protests have increased after pro-democracy demonstrations surged in July last year, empowering many Thai people to speak out against injustices, including students’ rights and liberties. People from schools across the nation have been banding together in solidarity to bring their issues to public light.

On graduation day, all the students were promoted into high school, except for the one student protestor, says the Bad Student protest group. The theme of the day focused on dedication to the monarchy, country and religion, and specifically how students should be obedient. The student said he has received support from friends, but his parents remain neutral and his teachers have been completely silent on the matter. He is frustrated that he was punished for his right to express himself. He plans on testing with incoming students to re-enrol in the same school, and if he is not accepted because of the disloyalty charge, he will pursue legal ramifications, suing the school for blocking his right to an education over the student’s protests.

The student believes he needs to speak out to prevent school administrators from imposing on more students’ rights. He advocates for diversity in schools and ending prejudices, with increased liberties and freedoms for students.

“Schools must teach children to be able to think by themselves, not force children to think like them. Schools should create opportunities for students to express their ideas more freely.”

SOURCE: Prachatai

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

16 more Covid infections reported today in Phuket

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16 more Covid infections reported today in Phuket | Thaiger
iTrip.com

Phuket is reporting 16 more infections today. It follows visits from Bangkok and last weekend’s Kolour Beachside parties that have resulted in a number of new Covid infections. The number of new infections has reached 26. But deputy governor Vikrom Jakthee says the province has been successful in containing the new outbreak “due to its quick response measures which now include shuttering bars and nightlife venues.

One of the confirmed cases is a male teacher from Headstart International School in Kathu who, after attending the parties on the weekend, was back teaching students on Monday and Tuesday. The school has sent a letter to all parents advising them of the situation and organising testing for anyone who may have come in contact with the teacher.

The closure order in Phuket comes just as the island province was expecting to get an influx of visitors for Songkran, the Thai New Year. Many bar and club owners were expecting some increased traffic during the holiday week. Phuket officials say they will explain to bar and club owners why they decided to close the venues during the critical week for business.

Vikrom previously cited the start of the island’s Covid vaccine roll-out of Covid starting to head towards a herd immunity in time for the province’s proposed July reopening to international tourists. But he admitted that the sudden appearance of the coronavirus on the island again will force officials to reevaluate the schedule for reopening. He also said that almost all cases were in younger age groups of people in their 20s and 30s.

“Today, the number of infected people reported in Phuket has reached 26, many are from entertainment venues. This figure is relatively high. It jumped from 10 to 26 cases. We will invite operators of entertainment places in for discussions.”

Partygoers who went to any of the Kolour Beachside parties in Phuket last weekend are being asked to visit a local hospital for a Covid test. The parties hosted more than 3,000 people, drawing concern after a musician tested positive for Covid-19, having attended all 3 parties. The Phuket Provincial Government and Phuket Provincial Public Health Office released a statement yesterday advising all partygoers to get tested.

“Those who attended the Kolour parties from April 2 to 3 at Shelter Phuket Dance & Night Club in Patong, Cafe Del Mar Phuket in Kamala and Illuzion nightclub on Bangla Road in Patong are asked to get tested.”

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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