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Dutch ambassador guides reform

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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Dutch ambassador guides reform | The Thaiger

PHUKET: Speaking at the Phuket Gazette offices recently, Ambassador Boer explained about his efforts to galvanize the international diplomatic community to jointly deliberate with authorities in Bangkok to bring an end to the various scams that have done so much damage to the tourism industry in Phuket and other destinations in Thailand.

Amb Boer, now in the second year of a four-year posting in Thailand, told the Gazette that it was not long after his arrival in Thailand that he began receiving complaints from Dutch tourists in Phuket.

“I first came here one and a half years ago to discuss with then Gov Tri Augkaradacha the future of tourism, the social climate for [expat] residents, et cetera. That was after a couple of incidents of scamming… people who rented jet-skis and then got back and were [unjustly] charged for damages, or people who rented a motorbike and left it at their hotel and then found it gone. But even more seriously, we also had a couple of incidents where people were beaten with iron bars [following disputes over] just 200 or 300 baht. That’s when it really gets nasty,” he said.

He asked Gov Tri in September 2010 what he was doing on these issues and asked him what he could do as an ambassador to support his efforts.

“The Governor said, ‘You know I am here as Governor under circumstances that are too strong for me. I need support from central authorities in Bangkok. Can you help me?'”

“When you get a question like that, then it is on your shoulders. I can’t tell my taxpayers that… ‘it is his problem, not my problem’.”

Amb Boer took it upon himself to try to initiate such change.

“At that point I began coordinating with ambassadors from ten different countries that were experiencing similar problems. We made an overview of the issues and agreed that we wanted this both to be a multilateral effort and not just pointing the finger at the Thai authorities.”

Since that time, Amb Boer and his fellow diplomats have held three high-level meetings with Ministry of Tourism and Sports officials and other authorities in Bangkok.

The Ministry recently issued a number of conclusions based on various concerns the diplomats had presented them with.

One of the important conclusions is that jet-ski and motorbike rental operators would henceforth face prosecution if caught in possession of a foreigner’s passport.

Operators have long demanded that tourists hand over passports as surety when renting out vehicles. In the future, the operators would have to accept a copy of the renter’s passport, because the document is the property of the issuing country, he explained.

Asked about the likelihood of enforcement, Amb Boer said the group of countries would carefully monitor events on the ground in tourist destinations like Pattaya, Hua Hin – and especially Phuket.

While the scamming phenomena in Pattaya rivals that of Phuket, “intransparencies” in the transport sector in Phuket make public transport here the most expensive in Thailand – and a common cause of conflict between drivers and visiting tourists, he said.

“Labor costs are the same here as in Bangkok, as are petrol and vehicle purchase costs, so I don’t know why taxi costs have to be three times as much here. We have to look at the system behind it, why one has to bargain so hard for each meter – and why if you don’t reach an agreement, people can get very aggressive. I can’t accept people from my country getting beaten up over 200 baht, and if I were to accept it my government should withdraw me from the post,” he said.

Amb Boer said high-profile cases like rapes and murders tended to be resolved in a few days. However, the sheer volume of less-publicized cases of scamming and price-gouging in the transport sector, and the authority’s inability to deal with them satisfactorily, indicated these problems were systemic.

Only about two per cent of Dutch tourists return from Thailand dissatisfied with their experiences here, but he stressed that in the “brave new age” of social media just one of these people could do immense harm to a country’s tourism image.

In terms of the way information is propagated, he said the emergence of the social media was as revolutionary a change as the invention by Gutenberg of the printing press in the early stages of the Renaissance.

“One person with a PC or a blog can seriously affect a destination’s reputation. Like it or not, I now have a case on my hands with over 500,000 YouTube hits [The Evil Man From Krabi video]. That’s new to me; I have not been trained for it, but it’s the new world we have to face. I understand the [alleged victim’s] father. I also understand some of the concerns elsewhere. I do not want to mingle in the justice process, but I do want a justice system that is transparent and can be explained,” he said.

Amb Boer stressed that the alleged rape that inspired the video was an isolated case and that he still encouraged Dutch people to holiday in the Kingdom.

Many Dutch tourists who get into trouble here do so because they are naive and fail to heed the many warnings about scamming and other potential problems that are clearly stated on the foreign ministry’s website, he conceded.

“I don’t know how it happens. As soon as they get off the plane… they seem to lose some of their normal reflexes. I have been out with the Tourist Police in Patong and seen a lot of behavior of the kind that invites scamming. So it’s a double-edged sword and we have a role in educating our own people,” he said.

Among the irresponsible behavior displayed by about 30 per cent of Dutch tourists is failing to get travel insurance before traveling to the Kingdom, even though packages are available for the equivalent of about 80 baht per day. Advertisements for such even pop up on their computer screens when they are researching trips, he noted.

“Thirty per cent uninsured is irresponsible behavior. That’s what I tell my tourists: ‘You are irresponsible if you go without insurance for the cost of a beer’,” he said.

The jet-ski insurance program was a “good start”, but it has also revealed a good deal of “creativity” on the part of renters, who now demand compensation of two days for a jet-ski being out of service following an “accident”. This compensation is not covered under the current insurance package, but should be in the future, he said.

“Regulators are always one train late. I understand that we are not ahead of the scammers, but we should be closely behind them, not off over the horizon,” he said.

He described his work as the “start of a process”, one that acknowledges a set of facts and figures that weren’t available a year ago.

“So we can now enter into a conversation where, on both sides of the line, we take our responsibilities and try to move forward. Again, I am not a player in this process in the sense that I am not at the wheel or in a position to change the tourism industry in Thailand. Together with colleagues I am trying to set things in motion.

“If people don’t feel secure there is no progress. In the tourism sector, the sense of security is extremely important, because if people do not feel safe they will not return to a destination,” 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.

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Phuket

Rawai beachfront water shut-off tomorrow for mains works

The Thaiger

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Rawai beachfront water shut-off tomorrow for mains works | The Thaiger

The Phuket Provincial Waterworks Authority says Rawai’s mains water supply will be shut off tomorrow (Tuesday, October 15) as new water pipes are fitted in front of The Title Beach Front condo resort complex on the town’s beachfront.

The mains water supply will be shut off from 9am until 4:30pm along the beachfront strip.

The PWA says the areas affected will be along Wiset Road along the Rawai beachfront road, as well as Soi Yanui and Soi Ruafaed.

Residents and businesses are being urged to collect water for use during the day today, before tomorrow morning’s shut-off.

As usual, the PWA say…“We apologise for any inconvenience caused.”

Contact the Phuket Provincial Waterworks Authority on 076 319173 or 082 7901634 for more details.

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Top 10 spas and massages in Phuket

Donna Toon

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Top 10 spas and massages in Phuket | The Thaiger

One of the best things about living in Asia, and in particular Thailand, is the abundance of fabulous places to have spa treatments. From the true local experience on the beach, to the ultra chic five star luxury treatments here is, in no particular order, our Top Ten Phuket Spa Experiences.

1. Let’s Relax (Boat Lagoon)

Let’s Relax’s latest addition to their Thailand spa portfolio is located in the residential area of Boat Lagoon in Koh Kaew and by accounts a winner in our books! It is a beautiful space with the natural light also bringing a sense of calm as you walk down the long entrance. With multiple treatment rooms as well as a well appointed foot massage space that can accommodate a large gaggle of girls it is has become popular very quickly with the local ladies.

Being brand new it also is a treat to sit in lush white comfy chairs while having your foot massage and a chat to your girlfriend or boyfriend. Priced on the lower end of the market, but higher than the local spas on the side of the street and well worth the extra baht, Let’s Relax is fabulous new addition to the flooded spa market.

Top 10 spas and massages in Phuket | News by The Thaiger

2. Oasis Spa (Kamala)

Oasis Spa Group has a few little gems around the island including one in Laguna and also another great one on the beach road in Kamala, however this hidden sanctuary located on the back roads in Kamala is our pick of the bunch. From the main street you would never know there is a tranquil ten treatment room spa and delightful pool setting behind the single wooden door. With an impressive and consistent list of treatments, positioned above the street-side prices but below the five star offerings, Oasis Spa is wonderful place to pamper away your day.

Top 10 spas and massages in Phuket | News by The Thaiger

3. Kata Rocks Infinite Luxury Spa

Winning the World’s Luxury Spa Awards for 2015, 2016 and 2017 we couldn’t put together a top ten spa list without including the very modern and chic Infinite Luxury Spa at Kata Rocks.

The spa blends the beyond organic philosophy of ILA spa products with its own “Me Time” philosophy, the latest spa massage technology in its eight luxury treatment rooms and suites, each designed around specific treatments. This includes two rooms for couples complete with luxurious his and her bathtubs, a chromotherapy room for coloured light therapy, a waterbed room equipped with Italian-made Iso-Benessere, a water massage bed for aiding spinal integration, a sleeping pod room with Metronap rest pod, traditional Thai spa massage treatment room, consultation and treatment room, pedicure and manicure treatment room and a contemporary tropical relaxation patio for after treatment chill down.

Positioned in the very high end of the spa market, Infinite Luxury Spa is an impressive and fabulous space to spend your day, worth every baht!

Top 10 spas and massages in Phuket | News by The Thaiger

4. 4th Floor Central Festival Phuket

‘It’s not a very accurate location’ I hear you say, but I love this spa, and whenever I am at Central I always try and allow at least 60 minutes extra to escape the crowds and enjoy a foot massage while reading my book. Located on the top floor of Central on the left hand side as you head towards Central Department Store (sort of above McDonalds), it’s hard to miss it but the staff are always outside greeting you and encouraging you to come in and take a load off. Priced perfectly at 300 baht for a 60 minute foot massage (plus tip of course), the experience is consistent and friendly. Full body treatments are also available behind the traditional curtain.

Top 10 spas and massages in Phuket | News by The Thaiger

5. Amatara Wellness Resort

Located at the very South of Phuket at Cape Panwa, Amatara Wellness Resort as the names suggests has an incredible spa perched high on the cliffs overlooking the Andaman Sea. One of the largest spas in Asia with over 2000 square metres of dedicated spa bliss, paralleled by the extensive menu and holistic and wellness packages, it really is an experience not to be missed.

Amatara has also just opened a new spa wellness experience, the exquisitely designed Thai Hammam brings together traditional Turkish and Moroccan bathing practices with the wisdom and gentleness of Thai spa therapies. Soak your worries away.

Make a whole day of it, indulge in their fabulous Sunday Brunch and then move through to the spa! Perfection!

Top 10 spas and massages in Phuket | News by The Thaiger

6. Banyan Tree Spa

A market leader for many years not only in Phuket but around the world, Banyan Tree is has provided us with professional and impressive spas for decades. Banyan Tree Phuket Spa with it’s impressive 24 treatment rooms hidden in lush surroundings within the gardens of the resort has well trained and dedicated therapist giving you the ultimate in spa experiences. The attention to detail which is synonymous with the spa philosophy of the group together with the consistency and surroundings makes it one of the best spa experiences certainly in Thailand. I can highly recommend the three hour Royal Banyan package, which included a cucumber and coriander scrub, Banyan Tree herbal pouch massage, jade chilled facial and flower bath. My girlfriends and I indulged just last week, and it was such a treat.

Top 10 spas and massages in Phuket | News by The Thaiger

7. Beach Shack next to Dream Beach Club on Layan Beach

We are creatures of habit in our house, we have been in Phuket for ten years now and when we like something we tend to go back regularly. Sunday’s are for chilling and we tend to either head to brunch or down to the local beach at Layan, away from the larger more commercial eateries and clubs we like eating and massaging with the locals.

Purely bang for your buck, the full body oil massages on the beach for 300 – 400 baht are an absolute must. I would love to say head to “Phung’s Massage Shack” next to Dream Beach Club but to be honest it doesn’t have a name but that doesn’t mean it shouldn’t get a mention and make our list. Head to the top end of Layan and facing the beach next to Dream go left, it’s worth the trip!

Top 10 spas and massages in Phuket | News by The Thaiger

8. JW Marriott Mai Khao Spa

Mandara Spa at JW Marriott Phuket Resort & Spa is an oasis within an oasis, the resort itself sits on 27 acres of lush gardens and beach side bliss just North of the airport in Mai Khao. Within it’s tropical gardens is the king pin for many years on the island Mandara Spa, its an icon in the local spa industry.

Tranquil, exotic and extremely relaxing, the Mandara Spa at JW Marriott Phuket Resort & Spa features a full service beauty salon, separate steam rooms for male and female guests, five double luxurious spa suites and eleven double deluxe rooms. The spa suites are well fitted out, with some enjoying outdoor bathrooms, but the most impressive aspect of the spa itself is the staff. They are incredibly well trained, and efficient in their craft, professional yet approachable and deliver every time.

The JW Marriott Wellness Retreat (bi yearly) is a highlight every year in my calendar, hosted and facilitated by Linda and her team, as well as the best wellness experts on the island, including Hayden Rhodes, Kim White and Andrew Stanndard. The four day program has informative workshops, wellness consultations, spa treatments, healthy meals, hands on activities, yoga, cooking classes and so much more.

Top 10 spas and massages in Phuket | News by The Thaiger

9. Atmanjai Wellness Retreat

Located on the South of the island just past Chalong circle Atmanjai Wellness Retreat at Friendship Beach offers a friendly and relaxed haven where guests can participate in detox, yoga or wellness programs that help restore your vitality, happiness and health. The cute bungalows located around the pool and on the beach side are a perfect excuse to indulge just a little further and stay on location while doing your retreats.

Top 10 spas and massages in Phuket | News by The Thaiger

10. Coqoon Spa at The Slate

Unlike anything else in Phuket, Coqoon Spa at The Slate is tranquil and idyllic space nestled in the lush green trees of the resort. It has a “cocoon” tree house made from bamboo and other natural products located high off the ground in true robinson crusoe style. Being in the trees is a unique experience matched perfectly with the highly trained and efficient practitioners. Subtle touches throughout the spa together with the extensive well thought out menu make Coqoon a special occasion treat.

Top 10 spas and massages in Phuket | News by The Thaiger

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Phuket

Phuket Town – In CNN Travel’s “Asia’s most picturesque towns”

The Thaiger

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Phuket Town – In CNN Travel’s “Asia’s most picturesque towns” | The Thaiger

“Though most famous for its beaches, the Thai island of Phuket offers ample opportunities for cultural immersion as well.”

Phuket’s Old Town was listed as one of Asia’s 13 most picturesque towns by CNN Travel.

The article mentioned, that whilst the island is renowned for its world-class beaches and leisure, offshore and adventure tourism activities, Phuket Town delivers on romance, history and cultural beauty in the island’s main commercial centre.

Tourism Authority of Thailand Governor Yuthasak Supasorn says the article correctly highlighted Phuket’s cultural diversity and history; things that are often eclipsed by its beaches and Patong nightlife.

“Phuket Town retain its charm and unique identity that comes from the influence of the Baba-Peranakan culture, which started when Chinese families migrated to Phuket. We are seeing more fully independent tourists with discretionary spending power who want the unique experiences that Phuket Town is rich in.”

The pocket-sized town welcomes a large number of foreign tourists each year, a significant number of who come from China and are interested in exploring the area and its Chinese influences.

“The historic old quarter of Phuket Town, located in the centre of the island, is lined with Sino-Colonial style shop houses, built during the island’s tin-mining boom of the 18th and 19thcenturies.

“There are plenty of hip shops, cafés, restaurants and bars, including the batik shops along Thalang Road run by ethnic Malays and Indians. The area is also filled with Chinese temples, crumbling mansions, cultural museums and a nunnery.”

CNN also recommended that one of the best ways to soak up Phuket Town’s rich culture and bohemian atmosphere was to find a local company that specialises in walking tours of the Old Town.

In addition, CNN noted that Phuket Town is where travellers can indulge in some of the island’s best restaurants, ideal for those visitors who have had their fill of the same old tourist fare served in beach areas. Top picks according to CNN include Southern Thai specialist Raya, Tantitium and One Chun.

SOURCE: TAT News

Phuket Town - In CNN Travel's

Phuket Town - In CNN Travel's

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