Dusit Deal for Phuket; Thaksin trimmed; Phuket Fantasy flourishes; Shares soar

Phuket NEWS Hound

– A daily digest of news about Thailand from around the world, compiled by Gazette editors for Phuket’s international community.

Dusit Deal a plus for Phuket

As reported in Phuket NEWS Hound yesterday, Dusit International has acquired the Dusit Thani Laguna Phuket for 2.6 billion baht. The seller was Laguna Resorts & Hotels, a local Phuket unit of Singapore-based Banyan Tree Group.

The transaction exudes confidence in Thailand and, in particular, Phuket.

“This successful acquisition will put Dusit in an even stronger position in the market, as well as strengthen our existing portfolio of hotel assets as we continue to grow internationally,” said Dusit chief executive Chanin Donavanik yesterday.

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Dusit had spent a few months sealing the deal, he said.

Dusit International has been managing the Phuket property for 23 years, ever since the opening of the Laguna Phuket complex that now hosts several luxury hotel brands, including Sheraton and Banyan Tree.

The Dusit Group will retain its management of the Dusit Thani Laguna Phuket.

Chanin said the Phuket property had been one of the group’s best-managed hotels for more than two decades, and had never dropped its performance despite the many challenges.

In its latest report, titled “Strong Recovery in Southeast Asia”, STR Global cites Phuket as as showing exceptional growth in RevPAR (revenue per available room), at 36.7% for the first half of this year vs last year, placing the island resort province as Number Two in that metric in Southeast Asia.

Thai court rejects appeal from Thaksin

BBC News
Thailand’s top court has refused to hear an appeal by ousted former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra against the seizure of assets worth almost $1.5 billion.

The assets were frozen in 2006 when Thaksin was overthrown in a military coup, and a court ordered in February this year that they should be seized.

The court ruled that the assets had been gained illegally through conflicts of interest when Thaksin was prime minister.

This is just one of a series of legal battles facing Thaksin in Thailand.

He has also been accused of terrorism in connection with the recent anti-government protests in Bangkok. He denies the allegations.

Judges ruled in February that Mr Thaksin, a telecommunications magnate, had shaped Thai government mobile phone and satellite communications policy to benefit his firms.

Mr Thaksin lives in self-imposed exile overseas and faces a two-year prison term for corruption if he returns to Thailand.

Phuket FantaSea in strong recovery

The Nation
The Phuket FantaSea amusement park has enjoyed a nearly full recovery from the blows dealt it by the riots in Bangkok in April and May this year.

Litti Kewkacha, Vice President – Marketing for Bangkok-based Safari World, the operators of Phuket FantaSea, says the recovery of the amusement park from a massive drop in May has been so impressive that his company has recently invested 100 million baht in three new projects to “cash in” on the current updraft in Thai tourism.

The three new projects will be officially opened this month.

The government’s policy of supporting schools that offer students field trips is the main factor in the recovery, Mr Litti said.

He added that some customers of Phuket FantaSea complain about the rising fares THAI Airways, suggesting that they are a barrier to domestic travel at a time when China, Singapore and South Korea are offering package promotions to help boost Thai tourism.

Litti said Thailand should have at least a 10-billion baht budget for attracting overseas tourists, noting that it would enhance the Thai economy in the long term.

Universal Studios in Singapore and the upcoming Disneyland in China are good examples of amusement parks with a global reach, he said.

He noted that Singapore had enjoyed growth in GDP of a whopping 18.1% in the first half of this year after launching mega-tourism projects.

Accor bullish on Thailand

The Nation
Accor plans to operate up to 13 additional hotels in Thailand over the next three years, making it the largest international chain operator in the country.

Paul Stevens, Accor Thailand director of operations, yesterday said the group would operate four new hotels in Bangkok and had also signed management agreements with eight or nine hotels in other tourist destinations including Phuket.

He said that general occupancy and growth in market share in Bangkok and Phuket were quiet positive.

Accor claims to be the largest international hotel-chain operator in Thailand in terms of number of rooms. The group currently operates 42 properties with 10,044 rooms under several brands: Sofitel, Pullman, Novotel, Grand Mercure, Mercure, M Gallery, and Ibis.

“We see the coming months running into the high season as surprisingly buoyant. There is no reason why the high season cannot eclipse last season’s results,” Stevens said.

He said the group would not start dumping its rates, preferring to use “a more strategic approach” to win business.

Meanwhile, hotel operators in Malaysia are also looking at investment opportunities in Thailand, including Phuket and Samui.

Thai stocks strong

Bloomburg Business Week
Stock markets in Thailand, Indonesia, the Philippines and Malaysia have been “remarkably resilient” and investor interest may increase, drawn by Southeast Asia’s economic growth and an equities rally, JP Morgan Chase & Co said.

The bank’s analysts reported on Tuesday that the Thai economy is estimated to expand 8.5% this year, the fastest among the four nations.

Indonesia may report growth of 6%, while the economies in Malaysia and the Philippines may expand 7.2% and 6.8% respectively, according to the reports.

Expat hit man worked from Thailand

BBC News
A hitman has been jailed for life for murdering a housewife in her home in the UK on behalf of her ex-husband.

Sharon Birchwood, 52, of Ashtead, Surrey was found strangled and trussed up with parcel tape in Ashtead in 2007.

Expatriate Paul Cryne, 62, who flew to the UK from Thailand to carry out the killing for a £30,000 fee, was convicted by a court in England on Tuesday.

He was told by Judge Jeremy Roberts that he would serve a minimum of 28 years and six months in jail.

— Gazette Editors

Phuket News

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