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Elite card price for expats to double

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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Elite card price for expats to double | The Thaiger

BANGKOK (The Nation): Expatriates will be charged two million baht next year for a Thailand Elite privilege card – double the current price – because they can use member services and facilities more often than foreign tourists or visiting businessmen. “We originally intended to set the price for expatriates at two million baht because of the many advantages they have, but in the beginning we reduced it to one million baht to build customer interest,” Paisit Kaenchan, Director of Thailand Privilege Card Co, said yesterday. Applications from expatriates will not be accepted after the end of next year to bring the proportion of expatriate members down to 5% of total membership from the present 20%. The price for foreign-based cardholders would also be raised by 20%-25% from the current one million baht within two years as facilities and services would be improved and added, K. Paisit said. The Thailand Elite card, the brainchild of Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, targets 1 million members in five years. However, since its launch on November 19 only some 200 cards have been sold, at US$25,000 or one million baht for individuals and $50,000 for juristic persons. This has forced a drastic cut in the 1,000-card year-end goal for 2003. To achieve next year’s sales objective of 100,000 cards, the company has put together a marketing plan that includes roadshows at least once a month in Japan, China, Korea and other countries in Asia, and expanding its sales network from 20 to 30 or 40 agents. “After reaching the 100,000-card level, the company will suspend recruitment of new members for six months to evaluate all services and every golf course, hotel, spa, restaurant and shopping mall participating in the program,” K. Paisit said. Proceeds from card sales are now placed in bank deposits, but in the future an asset management company will be retained to invest in the same manner as the Government Pension Fund. These idle funds represent 90%-95% of total reserves and the fund manager must make an annual return on investment of at least 6%-7%. The remaining 5%-10% of reserves will be used to build or take over at least two golf clubs, a boutique hotel and a city club within two years, which will be linked to the future increase in membership fees. K. Paisit explained the cardholder privileges in property investment as a form of “usufruct” – the right to use and enjoy the profits and advantages of something belonging to another as long as the property is not damaged or altered in any way. Thailand Privilege Card Co, as a Thai-owned entity, retains ownership of properties that cardholders buy, but the cardholders can enjoy lifetime use of their land and properties, including renting their units out when they are not in the country. However, cardholders do not receive full commercial rights, such as to develop homes or condominium projects. “The first approval of property purchases is expected in January,” K. Paisit said. Thailand Privilege Card Co would be around for a long time – not only during this government’s term – because it is a private company and has members around the world who benefit the country greatly over the long term, he said. “I’m confident that no government would dare to close us. If anyone tries that, he’ll get sued by cardholders all over the world.”

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News

30 dolphins greet visitors to Similan Islands

Greeley Pulitzer

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30 dolphins greet visitors to Similan Islands | The Thaiger

Tourists were treated to the sight of a school of dolphins in the Similan Islands off the Phang Nga coast on Sunday.

Tour organisers said that around 30 dolphins swam close to the boat six or seven miles offshore, creating excitement for passengers. It was the first time dolphins had been seen in the vicinity since October 15.

The Similan Islands National Park director said they were bottlenose dolphins and were among several species now returning to the area following a five-year closure of the park for environmental rehabilitation. Food is again plentiful there for them, he said.

Tourists are forbidden to feed wildlife lest the free handouts alter the animals’ natural behaviour, and the park’s waters are also very sensitive to contamination from human disease and marine debris, according to the director.

SOURCE: nationthailand.com

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Patong

Phuket hotels slashing the price of rooms

The Thaiger

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Phuket hotels slashing the price of rooms | The Thaiger

by Sophie Deviller

Hotels on Thailand’s most popular holiday island are being forced to slash prices, with rooms left vacant and beaches sparse as Thailand’s tourism chiefs struggle with a plunge in Chinese visitors caused by the US trade war and a stronger baht. Phuket was the most visited destination in the country last year, after Bangkok, and a good gauge of the state of its crucial travel industry.

Tourism accounts for 18% of Thailand’s gross domestic product and Chinese holidaymakers make up more than a quarter of total arrivals. But while 2.2 million people from the country visited in 2018, according to official figures, the numbers for January-September were down almost 20% year on year.

Claude de Crissey, the French Honorary Consul in Phuket and owner of about 40 rooms in the Patong Beach area, says Chinese tourists are usually present even during the current low season.

“That was not the case this year,” he said, adding he had to lower his prices by as much as 50%.

The problem is not only in Phuket, with hotels also struggling to fill rooms in the seaside resort of Pattaya on the mainland and on Koh Samui.

Trade tensions with the US have already made some Chinese reluctant to take holidays owing to uncertainty back home, while the Thai baht has risen about 10% against the yuan this year.

A boating disaster off Phuket’s coast that killed 47 Chinese holidaymakers in July 2018 also scared some off.

“We are worried,” said an industry insider, declining to be named due to the sensitivity of the topic in a country where tourism provides tens of thousands of jobs. Adding to the headache is the fact that more than 3,000 new hotel rooms are being constructed on the island, raising the question of who will fill them.

Phuket hotels slashing the price of rooms | News by The Thaiger

“In terms of business, it’s not good,” said Kongsak Khoopongsakorn, vice-president of the association of hotels in Thailand and director of Vijitt Resort.

“Because … we have more hotels, more rooms to sell, we have more restaurants, more coffee shops.”

Still, tourism authority chairman Yuthasak Supasorn said he remained “optimistic.”

“We should reach our goal of 39.8 million foreign visitors.”

However, that is only up from 38.2 million in 2018, much less than the jump seen from the previous year’s total of 35.6 million.

Counting on India

Now hoteliers and tour package operators are targeting visitors from elsewhere, particularly India, which experts see as a huge untapped market.

A rapid expansion of the middle class in India, increased direct flights and visa-free travel have prompted Thailand to revise forecasts upwards.

It now expects two million Indian tourists this year, after an increase of nearly 25% on-year in the first seven months. But for now, the lower arrivals is evident on the streets of Phuket.

“I’ve never seen anything as bad as what it is at the moment,” said Paul Scott from Australia, who said he has been coming to Thailand for 15 years.

He mainly blamed the stronger baht for the drop-off but also the fact that Thailand wasn’t the untouched vacation paradise it once was. “Now it’s not so new … and it’s not cheap,” he said.

SOURCE: AFP

Phuket hotels slashing the price of rooms | News by The Thaiger

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Events

The 15th Mai Khao Marine Turtle fun run attracts more than 4,000 runners

The Thaiger

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The 15th Mai Khao Marine Turtle fun run attracts more than 4,000 runners | The Thaiger

4,000 runners from Thailand and overseas took part in the 15th Mai Khao Marine Turtle Fun Run and Half Marathon 2019 yesterday, starting from the Phuket Gateway.

The event is expected to raise 700,000 baht for the charity, now in its 15th year. The money raised goes towards to The Mai Khao Marine Turtle Foundation, which is committed to protecting the marine and coastal environment, and ecosystems, for the wellbeing of sea turtles that nest in the Mai Khao beach and the surrounding areas.

The annual race also provides funds for thePhuket Marine Biological Centre’s Injured Turtle Rehabilitation Program and The Third NavalArea Command’s Turtle Hatchery Program.

The race was in its 15th year and runners of all ages and abilities took part in the race. The morning’s racing was divided into five categories – the 21.1km half marathon, 10.5km mini- marathon, 5km fun run and 3k family run and VIP participants for all the races. The route of 21.1 kilometre race took runners northwest along the Haad Sai Kaew beach towards Thao Thepkasattri bridge, past the rural road No. 3006, run along the road – Pi Lai viewpoint area returned back along the T. Baan Tha Nun to the iconic Sarasin bridge before finished the half marathon in the Phuket Gateway.

For Mini Marathon 10.5 km – Over all category, Mr. Chinnawat Changlek clocked 39 minutes and 40 seconds to clinch victory in the male half marathon, winning prize money and a trophy with the signature of Phuket’s Governor. The winner in the female mini marathon was Surakarn Wanna with a time of 47 minutes and 47 seconds.

Winners also received a prize gift voucher as well as a medal. Congratulations to all participants.

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