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Dive site closure “will not affect tourism’: official

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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Dive site closure “will not affect tourism’: official | The Thaiger
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PHUKET: The immediate closure of many dive sites in seven marine national parks will not have a big impact on Phuket’s critical tourism industry, says at least one official.

Malinee Jannoi, an officer at the Center for Tourism Development, Department of National Parks, today told the Phuket Gazette, “It will not affect tourism much as we’re not closing whole parks, just some parts that probably don’t account for [even] 10% of each park.

“Tourists can go to other dive sites instead,” he added.

Mr Malinee suggested more sites should be off-limits. “Other sites where diving is not banned are still being damaged by people standing on the corals, such as at Koh Hei,” he said.

He explained the closures follow a failed public-education campaign aimed at protecting corals at national park dive sites.

“We are trying to inform tour guides and tourists not to stand on the corals, but we’re not getting a good response. So officers should be strict in enforcing the regulations and punish anyone not following the rules,” he added.

Sunan Arunnopparat, director-general of the National Parks, announced the closures yesterday – effective immediately, with no re-opening date set.

Mr Sunan said coral at the sites needed protection after his department reported huge areas being bleached by warmer water temperatures – a factor widely recognized as an effect of global warming.

The dive sites now closed were named as:

– Koh Chueak in Hat Chao Mai National Park, Trang

– Koh Bulon in Mu Ko Petra National Park, Satun

– Koh Takiang, Koh Hin Ngam, off Sai Khao Beach at Koh Rawee, and Koh Dong in Tarutao National Park, Satun

– Koh Maphrao at Mu Ko Chumphon National Park

– Hin Klang reef at Hat Noppharat Thara – Mu Ko Phi Phi National Park

– Ao Mae Yai, Ao Jak, Ao Tao, Koh Torinla and Ao Mang Kon in Mu Ko Surin National Park

– Ao Fai Wap and East of Eden at Mu Ko Similan National Park.

Nipon Pongsuwan, a fisheries technical specialist at the Phuket Marine Biological Center, explained, “It will take many years for the coral to recover; closing them for just a few months will not have any effect.

“In 2004, when 10%-20% of corals at the sites showed bleaching, it took at least five years for the coral to recover. This time bleached corals account for 70% to 100% of some sites, such as Ao Mae Yai in the Surin Islands,” he said.

Dive tour operators have denounced the closures, mostly on the grounds that the move will not help protect the corals from further damage.

Surapoom Kwankajohnkit, of Dive Master Co Phuket, said, “The closing will not help the coral to recover. It will be worse because if there are no dive boats around dive sites, fishing boats will anchor and fish close to the islands.”

Sea Bees Khao Lak, which runs dive tours to the Similans, saw the writing on the wall. “This has not affected us at all as we have not dived there since the beginning of the season,” said manager Markus.

“From April through October last year, the coral bleaching continued and those particular dive sites had become more affected than others and simply were not as beautiful as they used to be,” he added.

“It makes me very sad that divers are being blamed for damaging coral, which is absolutely ridiculous. Of course protection is needed – but logical protection. Coral bleaching is from global warming, not from divers.

“Protection from other factors is needed, such as controlling the snorkeling companies. They keep throwing snorkelers into the water without any education. The snorkelers break the coral and it takes years for the coral to recover.

“Take a look at Racha Noi and Racha Yai – it is very sad what has happened there,” he said.

— Atchaa Khamlo

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Phuket

Phuket told to prepare “response plan” in case of second Covid-19 outbreak

Caitlin Ashworth

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Phuket told to prepare “response plan” in case of second Covid-19 outbreak | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Daily News

As Phuket awaits foreign tourists, city officials are told to prepare a “response plan” in case of a second wave of Covid-19. An official from the Ministry of Tourism and Sports held a workshop in Phuket today to discuss the risk of another outbreak as the country opens up to those on the Special Tourist Visa.

The ministry’s permanent secretary Chote Trachu says now that the country is allowing tourists (who are required to quarantine upon arrival) an infection “may somehow slip through.” He says a response plan needs to be in place in case this happens, adding that there should be corporation from the Ministry of Public Health and Ministry of Defense.

“If any tourists are found to be infected, the disease must not be allowed to spread among the people. There should be no panic, and public health officers will investigate the case. Tourist Police will track down the suspected person in an investigation with the Ministry of Public Health.”

Chote says all provinces – not just Phuket – should have a response plan. Although tourists must go through a mandatory 14 day quarantine upon arrival, Chote says there are some cases where the incubation period for Covid-19 is longer than 14 days.

“There are a variety of cases. Sometimes, the infection does not show after 14 days, or even 15 or 16 days. Each situation is different.”

Recently, a woman in Koh Samui tested positive for the coronavirus 5 days after she was released from a Samut Prakan quarantine facility. Traces of the virus were found on gym equipment the woman used at the quarantine, leading health officials to suspect she was infected before arriving to the island.

“We urge Thai people to not let their guard down. Everyone must wear masks, wash their hands and take care of personal hygiene. This will help prevent them from contracting the disease.”

SOURCE: Phuket News

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Business

Approval sought for multi-billion-baht Phuket medical hub

Maya Taylor

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Approval sought for multi-billion-baht Phuket medical hub | The Thaiger
Mai Khao beach in north Phuket - PHOTO: www.makemytrip.com

Industry officials are seeking the go-ahead for a project to transform over 140 rai of government land in Phuket into a world-leading medical hub. The project is budgeted at 3 – 4 billion baht, depending on which report you read. Kitkong Tantijaraswarodom, from the Federation of Thai Industries, believes the development of a medical and wellness hub in the sub-district of Mai Khao, north Phuket, will help revive the southern island’s battered economy. Phuket has become increasingly reliant on a steady flow of tourists over the past 2 decades.

The southern division of the FTI covers Phuket, Krabi, Phang Nga, Nakhon Si Thammarat, Trang, Patthalung, Surat Thani, Ranong, Satun, Chumphon, and Songkhla.

“The FTI will ask the government to green-light the project during the scheduled mobile cabinet meeting on the island on November 3.”

Kitkong says businesspeople in the south are anxious for the government to approve the project, which will provide both locals and foreign medical tourists with state-of-the-art medical care. The facility is expected to include long-term care, hospice and rehabilitation services, in addition to a dental hospital, sports therapy centre, and a medical training school for doctors, nurses, pharmacists and medical laboratory scientists.

The chair of the FTI’s southern chapter is also calling on officials to provide small and medium-sized businesses with additional support, in the form of access to loans, in order to deal with cash shortages.

“In the short term, the FTI wants the government to help SMEs, especially those in the tourism sector.”

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Phuket

Man’s body discovered hanged in a Phuket Town apartment

The Thaiger

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Man’s body discovered hanged in a Phuket Town apartment | The Thaiger

A man has been found hanged in Phuket Town apartment yesterday. Police are treating the cases as a suicide at the moment.

The man was found hanged from the apartment’s ceiling fan. His lifeless body was discovered around 11am after neighbours complained to the manager about the smell coming from the man’s room.

Police and the local Kusoldharm Foundation rescue workers attended the scene. Police later confirmed the incident happened in room on the 3rd floor of an apartment lock in Soi Phoonphol Soi 1, Talat Nuea in Phuket Town. Police said the man was 35-45 years of age and had a 29 year old girlfriend from Chumphon. He was paying 1,000 baht a month and had been renting the room for 2 months. Police estimate that the man had been dead for at least 3 days.

Police told media that the man had used, what appeared to be a dress, tied around his neck and then to the room’s roof fan. The apartment manager told police that he had been late on on his recent rent, speculating that the man may have been suffering financial hardship.

The man’s identity has not been released at this stage.

His body was taken to Vachira Hospital for an autopsy.

If you or anyone you know is in emotional distress, please contact the Samaritans of Thailand 24-hour hotline: 02 713 6791 (English), 02 713 6793 (Thai) or the Thai Mental Health Hotline at 1323 (Thai).

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