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Gloomy outlook for Phuket tourism

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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Gloomy outlook for Phuket tourism | The Thaiger

PHUKET CITY: The Phuket Tourism Association (PTA) has forecast that Phuket hotels will see average occupancy rates dip to as low as 25-30%, compared to 60% in the summer season last year.

Citing a number of negative factors, PTA Vice President Bhurit Maswongsa said the spread of the type-A (H1N1) flu virus was one of the main problems hitting the industry at the moment.

Phuket is already in the summer season, but occupancy rates will fall by about 30% to remain at between 30-35%,” he predicted.

Revenues for operators in Phuket would be down 50% compared to last year, he added.

Only tourists from Australia, the Middle East and India are likely to be visit the island in strong numbers at this time of year, he said.

Promotional offers were not enough to tempt tourists back to Thailand as they were trying to avoid the possibility of catching the flu and were also concerned about political instability.

Moreover, occupancy rates in the high season are expected to be down 20%, to between 50% and 60%, he said.

Laguna Resorts and Hotels forecasts the average occupancy rate at its properties will be down 20% to 25% in the second and third quarters of this year.

Average occupancy rate at the region’s largest resort complex fell 27% in the first quarter, to 65% because people canceled bookings to Phuket following the closure of the Bangkok airports in November.

Political instability and the global economic crisis are key factors for the downturn and this has been exacerbated by the spread of the flu virus.

Debbie Dionysius, Laguna’s assistant vice president for destination marketing, said it had offered 100,000 free rooms earlier this year so occupancy rates were pretty high from January to March. However, revenue was down.

Ms Dionysius expected to see an improvement by the fourth quarter as tourists would be returning to Thailand.

We have seen some positive signs such as the economy picking up,” she said.

Dusit Thani Laguna recorded the best performance in terms of revenue in 2007-2008, while Banyan Tree has recorded the highest occupancy rate over the last two years.

The hotel operator is trying to attract more tourists to the island by adding more activities and implementing new marketing strategies.

An upcoming event is the fourth Laguna Phuket International Marathon, which is scheduled for June 14. The event is expected to draw 4,000 runners from overseas and from within Thailand. It is hoped that the event will generate revenues of around 30 million baht for the province.

According to Ms Dionysius, Laguna Phuket is working with international schools in Thailand, Hong Kong and Singapore to organize activities and camping trips. The scheme will run from June to September.

Moreover, the group will try to attract more customers from China where it has Banyan Tree offices in Beijing and Shanghai. Laguna expects visitors from China to increase from 5% this year to 15-20% over the next few years.

— SUCHAT SRITAMA (The Nation)



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Phuket

Phuket seastead will be removed today

The Thaiger & The Nation

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Phuket seastead will be removed today | The Thaiger

The Third Naval Area Command will remove the seastead stationed off Phuket south-east coast today, belonging to an American bitcoin investor and seasteading innovators Ocean Builders.

Thai authorities plan to seize the structure as evidence in a criminal case. They fear the structure will continue to be a navigation hazard if left there.

US national Chad Elwartowski and his Thai girlfriend, Supranee Thepdet (aka Nadia Summergirl), are facing charges of threatening the Kingdom’s sovereignty. Last Sunday officials from the Royal Thai Navy and Phuket Maritime boarded the structure saying it violated Article 119 of the Criminal Code and also posed a navigational hazard.

The couple launched the ‘Ocean Builders’ seastead on February 2 off the coast of Phuket. The structure is located to the southeast of Koh Racha Yai, approximately 12 nautical miles (22.2 kilometres) from the mainland.

Elwartowski has claimed that his seastead is outside Thailand’s territorial waters, but Thai authorities insist that it violates Article 119 and challenges Thailand’s territorial rights.

“The Royal Thai Navy has full authority and duty to protect national interest and marine sovereignty in the area,” according to a Navy spokesperson.

Regarding the couple’s claim that they feared for their lives, Vice Admiral Sitthiporn Maskasem, commander of the Third Naval Area, said that authorities had followed the legal procedures.

“We are neither hunting them down nor threatening them,” said the commander.

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North East

Forecast drought will weaken the Thai economy

The Thaiger

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Forecast drought will weaken the Thai economy | The Thaiger

Thailand suffers calamities at both ends of the annual weather spectrum – both drought and flood. But as the demands on agriculture grow, with a growing population and the rise of tourists and development, the effects of these two extremes are becoming more apparent.

Which leads us to this year’s outlook of lower rains which is exposing the poor management of the Kingdom’s water resources. Greater development and growing population bases hasn’t been met with more or larger water catchments.

So Thai farmers are expected to face a tough 2019 as forecasters say the drought will be more acute than usual, lowering the water levels in reservoirs in the central and northeastern provinces especially.

Int eh south, Phuket, Thailand’s largest island and surrounded by water, has an acute water shortage as of Songkran and, without adequate monsoonal rain between now and November, will be facing a water crisis if it has to rely on its own island resources.

The Director General of Department of Agricultural Extension Samran Saraban says the drought this year is exacerbated by El-Nino weather cycle which causes temperature to rise 1-2 degrees higher than normal and cause the water levels in major reservoirs to drop to worrisome level. Higher temperatures mean more evaporation and more usage of reserves.

The Thai PM Prayut Chan-o-cha has called for farmers not to grow off-season rice as drought is predicted to spread into northeastern and eastern regions. That there will likely be a new administration coping with political instability will not help leaders focus on the country’s looming water shortage.

The long dry season will lower certain farm outputs, pushing up their prices. However, an overall farm income is set to decline because the drought will leave other negative affects to farmers who are also the consumers as well. This will affect the purchasing power of farm households, which account for one-third of Thais.

Etc, etc, etc.

Economists estimated the damage from the drought on the economy this year could be high. Kasikorn Research Center estimate the drought could cost at least 15.3 billion baht. Whilst Anusorn Tamajai, Dean of Economics Faculty, Rangsit University, estimates the drought to cost even more – 20-30 billion baht -because it would affect the outputs of off-season rice, sugarcane and tapioca.

“It will dampen the purchasing power of farmers in the second quarter.”

Siam Commercial Bank’s Economic Intelligence chief Yanyong Thaicharoen said that the lackluster farm income can slash the growth rate of domestic consumption this year to 3.5% versus 4.6% growth last year, in addition to other factors, namely, high household debt and slower demand for durable goods.

Spending power from farmers, according to SCB, is crucial to sustain the growth of the economy. However, the grassroots economy is bracing for negative outlook this year.

There will be intense pressure on this season’s management of Thailand’s valuable water resources, through the remaining hot season and as the catchments gather water during the monsoon.

Forecast drought will weaken the Thai economy | News by The Thaiger

SOURCES: Thai PBS | The Thaiger | Wikipedia

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People

Patong’s trash hero rewarded for collecting garbage in filthy canal

The Thaiger

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Patong’s trash hero rewarded for collecting garbage in filthy canal | The Thaiger

PHOTOS: Patong Police / Theeraphong Penmit / Newshawk Phuket

A Phuket boy has been rewarded after setting an excellent example for the rest of the Patong community.

8 year old Kosin Ta-ngam, who is studying at Sai Nam Yen School in Patong in Pratom Suksa Three, has been collecting garbage in the filthy Pak Bang Canal and along Patong Beach since the beginning of this year.

He lives with his grandmother and other relatives. His grandmother has been looking after Kosin since he was 10 months old.

A certificate, scholarship and life vest have been awarded to Kosin by the Patong Police Chief Col Anothai Jindamanee for displaying excellent citizen for the community as a youth volunteer and being an active part of keeping the city clean.

The Pak Bang Canal, running through the back of Patong into Patong Bay, has been a dark, dirty mess for decades. Many promises have been made to clean it up but it remains a disgraceful waterway flowing through Phuket’s main tourist town.

The tiny eight year old seems to be able to achieve a lot more than the local municipality with all their money and machinery.

Kosin, you are the Thaiger hero for today and we salute you!

Patong's trash hero rewarded for collecting garbage in filthy canal | News by The Thaiger

Patong's trash hero rewarded for collecting garbage in filthy canal | News by The Thaiger Patong's trash hero rewarded for collecting garbage in filthy canal | News by The Thaiger Patong's trash hero rewarded for collecting garbage in filthy canal | News by The Thaiger Patong's trash hero rewarded for collecting garbage in filthy canal | News by The Thaiger

Patong's trash hero rewarded for collecting garbage in filthy canal | News by The Thaiger

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