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Dasta seeks listing for all of Phuket

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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PHUKET CITY: The agency pushing to develop the Ao Phuket mega-project off Saphan Hin has finished holding public hearings and says it has overwhelming support for listing all of Phuket as a special administrative zone for sustainable tourism development.

Designated Areas for Sustainable Tourism Administration (Dasta) held the first in a series of public hearings with representatives from Phuket’s Muang, Thalang and Kathu districts at the Royal Phuket City Hotel on June 30.

The hearings concluded on July 29 with a meeting at the Amora Beach Resort in Cherng Talay for representatives of the Phuket Provincial Administration Organization, as well as the administration organizations of tambons Pa Khlok and Srisoonthorn, and other local leaders.

Going into the final hearing, Sathit Leungjaroenlab, managing director of consulting firm Phisut Technology Company, said that overall about 90 per cent of all those who voted at the hearings agreed to list their communities under Dasta.

Phisut Technology was retained by Dasta to help with the public hearing process.

Of those who did not vote in favor of Dasta listing, some had simply abstained. There was little strong opposition, he said.

With such overwhelming approval, Phuket Governor Wichai Phraisa-ngop is now expected to send a letter to the Dasta board in Bangkok formally requesting that the entire province be listed under Dasta.

Cabinet approval could come in about three months time.

The Dasta executive board will meet on September 5 and 13 to establish subcommittees to prepare to have Phuket come under the agency’s purview.

Two areas in Thailand are currently listed under Dasta: Koh Chang in Trat province and the Chiang Mai Night Safari.

Pattaya is also in the process of becoming listed.

Tribunyat Jariyalerpong, president of the Thalang Cultural Village at Ban Khanaen, told the Gazette that public reaction to Dasta listing was strongly positive because people understand the agency will fast-track good projects without the need to pass through all of Thailand’s normal, and onerous, bureaucratic steps.

Dasta, a public organization formed in 2003 by former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, answers directly to the Prime Minister’s Office.

“After Phuket is listed as a sustainable tourism area I would love to see the problem of the land rights issues addressed, because about 60 per cent of the land on the island is currently owned by foreigners.

“It is a frightening situation that will only get worse unless it is addressed. Before long we might see landless local people having to rent places to live in from foreigners,” Mr Tribunyat said.

The Dasta board was last in Phuket in May last year, when the government of then Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej gave the agency the green light to develop a 100-billion-baht mega-project in Phuket Bay.

Dasta is still keen to push forward with that project, which would finally give the island a world-class convention center.

The project would also remove a layer of mud and tin mining dregs covering 10,000 rai of Phuket Bay and restore the bay’s natural sandy bed, Dasta board member Rajatin Syamananda told the Gazette.

For previous stories click here and here.

— 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.

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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Bangkok

Now they’re coming… Special Tourist Visa flight set for Tuesday – Tourism and Sports Minister

Caitlin Ashworth

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Now they’re coming… Special Tourist Visa flight set for Tuesday – Tourism and Sports Minister | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Unsplash: Suhyeon Choi

After much confusion and a few apparent ‘misunderstandings’, Chinese tourists on the Special Tourist Visa will actually arrive on October 20 and 26. At least that’s what Tourism and Sports Minister Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn says, according to the Bangkok Post. The first group is said to arrive 4 days from now in Bangkok (if they actually applied for the visa this time).

Reports circulated for weeks about a flight of 120 to 150 tourists set to arrive in Phuket on October 8 from Guangzhou, China. An announcement was made shortly after the flight was due to arrive with Tourism Authority Governor Yuthasak Supasorn saying “administrative issues” had caused the delay.

It was later reported that no one from Guangzhou had actually applied for the visa and it was all just a misunderstanding after the Tourism Authority of Thailand reportedly passed off a list of those “interested” in the visa as actual applications.

This time, the Post is reporting the first group of 120 tourists from Guangzhou will arrive at Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport on Tuesday. Another group of 120 tourists, also from Guangzhou, will arrive on October 26, but the Post didn’t say where that flight will land.

It’s apparently the same group that was planned to arrive in Phuket on October 8, but the minister claims the trip was postponed due to the Vegetarian Festival which is planned to run until October 25. Both the Phuket governor and National Security Council secretary general had claimed the festival was the reason for the delayed flight and was intended to ease fears of Covid-19 for the festival-goers coming in from the rest of Thailand.

Even though the new long stay tourist visa is good for 90 days, and can be renewed twice, the tourists will only stay in the country for 30 days, with 14 of those days in quarantine. Phiphat says the Tourism Authority of Thailand will find activities to keep the tourists occupied while in quarantine.

The visitors will be the first international tourists after a 6 month ban to prevent the spread of Covid-19. Thai officials have been discussing plans for months about how to safely reopen borders to revive the country’s economy which is heavily driven by the tourism industry. Officals are now talking about cutting down the mandatory time for quarantine from 14 days to 7 days to help entice people to visit.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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