Global scorching; Thai Banks also scorched; Tales of two TATs

Phuket NEWS Hound

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

Scorching forecast for Thailand

PHUKET: In the next 35 years, the temperature in Thailand will rise a whopping 3 to 4 degrees Celsius, which will result in the eastern provinces being inundated in 300 millimetres of rainfall every year, an expert said yesterday.

Arnon Sanidwong na Ayudhaya, director of the Southeast Asia START Regional Research Centre, was speaking at an academic conference held by the Office of the Higher Education Commission.

The Nation reports this morning that his analysis was based on eight climate prediction models over the next 35-55 years.

The models, dividing Thailand into eight geological and geographic zones and looking into factors including temperature, rainfall and sea-level changes, found that in the next 35 years the country’s average daily temperature would rise by 3-4 degrees, particularly in the mountainous areas of the North.

The temperatures would rise in both the rainy season and the winter months, he said.

Climate change also functions as a reinforcing factor for the severe urban heat island phenomenon, in which a metropolitan area is significantly warmer than its surroundings at all times, he said.

Citing satellite photos from 2005 until now that showed more frequent flooding, usually in the same locations, he noted that Thailand’s sea levels rose by 2.8-4.3cm, much higher than the world’s average rate of 1.8cm.

The director’s models showed that sea levels would rise by 14-15 centimetres over the next 35 years, affecting coastal areas, including Phuket, from Bangkok all the way down to the Malaysian border.

The rise in temperature would affect people’s metabolic systems and cause deaths, he said.

Expats, tourists bear brunt of ATM fees

The Nation / Phuket Gazette
Finance Minister Korn Chatikavanij’s vow to scrutinise bank fees, mostly those for ATM use, won solid backing on social media yesterday.

But despite getting the banks’ customers on his side, he will have a tough time trying to dissuade bankers to cease the draconian imposts at the nation’s ATM machines.

Before he meets leading bankers today in what promises to be quite a showdown, here are some of the initial reactions gathered from tweets to The Nation as well as messages posted on Mr Korn’s Facebook page.

DD4Wheels: 150 baht for international withdrawals thru an ATM is ridiculously high. Downright robbery.

Sathornstreet: Banks are not charities but they should not be robbers either.

Pakornw: Wholeheartedly agree with Khun Korn; bank fees should not create friction in business.

AmSarosha: The banks pay us petty interest for our savings money. We don’t owe them any more money. Scrap the fees, I say.

JorisGeeven: I hope it includes cancelling of the hefty 150-baht fee for withdrawals using foreign cards, which is scandalous and unfair.

Kanatporn: [I do] not protect bank business, but [the] fees people pay [at the] Thai post office [are] higher than bank fees, poor people use this service.

Rebel_bay: Well, I just don’t feel robbed by bank fees and I use ATMs extensively. Maybe there are more urgent issues to consider?

LisaMajesty: Haven’t seen anyone claim responsibility for the fee. Just institutions pointing at other institutions saying ‘not our fault’.

Chamsai Menasveta: finally… some justice to the poor downtrodden hardworking people who are always getting robbed. Please don’t let them win this one!

Pintira Singhalaka: This will be a glorious victory of David over Goliath! You [Korn] are in our prayers.

Phaisit Phianphithak: Talking from perspective of an ex-banker, fee-based income is what already keeps the interest spread down. One way or another, profit has to come from somewhere. To effectively tackle both u need to simultaneously fix the spread and fee-based without reducing competitiveness of the Thai banking system.

Ke Ket: (translation) Help me please. Bank profits are my blood.

Dee Leesakul: (translation) May God bless you.

Nipoj Jakkrawankul: (translation) Can you really do it?

Mangkorn Sornkam: (translation) [You have] my support. But it’s no piece of cake what you’re dealing with here.

Taweeyos Nakosiri: (translation) When banks suffer losses, [our] tax money is used to shore them up. But they won’t make any change to benefit customers.

Kajonsak Suwattanakorn: (translation) A bit late. But better late than doing nothing.

Pick Pickkie: (translation). Banks are saving their time, space and manpower on services. The transactions cost them very little, so they should cost customers nothing or be very cheap.

The Phuket Gazette has not tweeted on this issue, but would like to suggest that the 150-baht fee imposed on ATM withdrawals from foreign accounts is extracted primarily from expat residents and Thailand’s millions of foreign tourists.

It could be said that the fee is thus somewhat discriminatory, or ‘politically incorrect’, and therefore not an item the TAT would want to feature in its brochures.

But it’s a banker’s delight. Unlike a loan, which requires funding and eats into a bank’s capital adequacy, the fee is revenue for old rope. As a yield, it delivers something close to infinity. And unlike loan interest, which is expressed on a per annum basis, the fee is earned in about a minute.

TAT says Japanese wary of Thailand

TTR Weekly
The Tourism Authority of Thailand’s (TAT’s) Tokyo office reported on Tuesday that Japanese tourists have shunned Thailand because of domestic political unrest and have shifted their travel bookings to Vietnam, Taiwan and China.

“About 1 million Japanese visit Thailand yearly. However, visits have declined over the past few years, said TAT Tokyo office director Benjawan Sunatevorakul.

“In 2007, Japan supplied 1.3 million tourists to Thailand but this dropped to 1.1 million in 2008 and [went] down again, to 1.05 million, in 2009.”

He was speaking at a seminar on “Chiangmai’s opportunities to tap Japanese long-stay travel”, held at Kantary Hills in Chiangmai.

Ministry of Tourism and Sports data, however, showed the Japanese market had made a 3.60% improvement in January to July 2010 with 546,917 visits, compared to 527,937 in the same period of 2009.

However the TAT director warned that Japanese tourists were booking holidays in Vietnam and Taiwan, or opting to visit the Shanghai World Expo in China, rather than visiting Thailand.

TAT Pattaya sees tourism recovery

TTR Weekly
Pattaya should make a robust recovery in the up-coming high season, predicts Niti Kongkrut, director of the Tourism Authority of Thailand’s Pattaya office.

“Earlier this year, the tourism business looked good and Pattaya hotels were reporting improvements in occupancy,” he said. “But everything changed after May and every single hotel, regardless of their ranking, suffered.

“Pattaya’s tourism business is always linked to

— Gazette Editors

Phuket News

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