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Gov sparks furore with Phi Phi proposal

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PHUKET: Governor CEO Pongpayome Vasaputi has landed in the middle of a war of words after suggesting that the central government should buy the Phi Phi islands, kick out private businesses and run the islands as a state enterprise. During a speech about the CEO system at a Thai Rak Thai Party seminar on Friday at the Patong Beach Hotel, Gov Pongpayome said, “At the moment many islands are not as beautiful as they used to be. The government should buy them; Phi Phi and other tourist centers should belong to the nation. “Some of the private businesses there cause a lot of damage to the islands and then, after the damage has been done, the government has to fix it. “That’s not right. The best thing would be for the government to buy the islands and then run them itself,” he said. He proposed that, after buying the islands, the government should manage them like a state enterprise, taking care of all businesses initially and letting private operators open again only after “everything is under control”. “It’s lucky that about half of the islands are national park, so buying the land back should cost about 3 billion to 4 billion baht,” he pointed out. Gov Pongpayome’s idea got a scathing reception from Saritpong Kiewkong, Vice-President of the Krabi Provincial Organization Administration (OrBorJor) and owner of the Phi Phi Pavilion Resort. K. Saritpong told the Gazette today, “The Governor of Phuket must be dreaming. He should concern himself only with Phuket Province. I think he must have lost his map.” Many islands in Phuket province, K. Saritpong said, were dirtier than Phi Phi, and Gov Pongpayome should take care of his own backyard before talking about other provinces that are outside his jurisdiction. “Gov Pongpayome has complained that Phi Phi is like a garbage dump. But many islands in Phuket Province, such as Koh Loan and Koh Hei, are like septic tanks,” he said. “The problems in Phi Phi are not caused by the private sector. They are the result of poor law enforcement and a few selfish businessmen. “Local people here are not dreamers like the Governor of Phuket. They think that the government should first take care of basic facilities in Phi Phi, such as power, water, a jetty, sanitation, good walkways, an incinerator, and proper policing,” K. Saritpong said. An incinerator and a water treatment plant were installed many years ago on Phi Phi Don by the central government but have never worked properly because, say locals, no one was taught how to use them properly. A dam to store drinking water, also built by the central government, leaks, despite being repaired three times. “When Gov Pongpayome says that there’s a lot of garbage in the sea around Phi Phi, he is striking a blow at the heart of tourism in Phi Phi,” K. Saritpong said. “I don’t understand why he didn’t discuss the issues privately with those concerned, instead of making them public through the media. “If I were dreaming like the Phuket Governor, I think it would be better for us to sell Phuket Island – it’s more famous, so we could get a lot more money for it and repay Thailand’s IMF loans.” But the local director of the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT), Anupharp Thirarath, told the Gazette that he thought a government purchase of Phi Phi would be a fine idea. Pointing out that the Phi Phi Islands attract about 800,000 tourists a year, he said, “Phi Phi has many problems. It is a very beautiful place, but because of encroachment and disorder, its value has been wasted. “If it is possible to reorganize everything and redevelop the Phi Phi Islands, they would become a valuable and classy tourist destination in the future.”

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Archiving articles from the Phuket Gazette circa 1998 - 2017. View the Phuket Gazette online archive and Digital Gazette PDF Prints.

Thailand

UPDATE: Confusion over Covid-19 tests for visa extensions

Caitlin Ashworth

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UPDATE: Confusion over Covid-19 tests for visa extensions | The Thaiger

UPDATE: Khaosod English removed a story on Covid-19 tests for those seeking visa extensions and replaced it with the article “Immigration backtracks on plan to require Covid-19 test for visa extensions.” They say the previous report sparked uproar among expats and immigration police spokesperson has since apologised for the misunderstanding.

Original article…

Confusion reigns today over whether Covid-19 tests will be required for visa extensions. While The Phuket News spoke with an immigration official who said “no… you don’t need a Covid-19 test to extend your visa or apply for a work permit”, Khaosod English wrote an article headlined “Covid-19 test will be mandatory for all visa extension”.

The Thaiger also contacted a respected visa agent who said Covid-19 tests are, indeed, now required for applying for both visa extensions and work permits, even renewals.

The Thai Immigration Bureau has not made any official announcement regarding Covid-19 tests. Talk about Covid-19 tests for foreigners was brought up after a rule was published in the Royal Gazette last month, officially adding Covid-19 to a list of dangerous diseases, prohibiting those infected with any of the listed illnesses from entering the country.

Immigration Police Bureau spokesperson Archayon Kraithong told Khaosod English that proof of a negative Covid-19 test will be required for visa extensions, regardless of how long a foreigner has stayed in Thailand. On the other hand, Phuket immigration deputy chief Nareuwat Putthawiro told The Phuket News that Covid-19 tests will not be required for visa extensions or work permit applications.

“We do not require any medical documents for an application to renew a visa, because there are few foreigners’ movements outside Phuket. Most of them live and work in Phuket, and have done so before the new wave of Covid-19… So they do not have to worry about it. Everything is still the same.”

Medical exams are currently already required for most work permit applicants (including tests for Syphilis and Elephantiasis). A visa agent told The Thaiger that Covid-19 tests have been added to the medical examination requirements for work permit applicants. But, on the other hand, Phuket immigration says they DO NOT require Covid-19 tests for work permit applicants.

“We have not received any notices about Covid-19 requirements for processing applications to renew visas. If we do receive any such orders, we will let the public know.”

It isn’t the first time there has been conflicting statements coming out of different officials, in different immigration offices on different days.

SOURCES: Phuket News| Khaosod English

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Visitors to Phuket from “highest risk” areas must show Covid-19 test results

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Visitors to Phuket from “highest risk” areas must show Covid-19 test results | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Chiang Rai Times

People arriving Phuket from the “highest risk” areas are required to take a swab test by the staff at emergency operation centres (EOC) or show the test result document endorsed by the EOC staff made within 72 hours of their arrival. The revised order is effective from now until January 31, according to the Phuket Governor.

Those people who are on a brief business trip to Phuket need to show certificates from their employers describing the reason and necessity of their trips. If they want to leave their accommodations, they have to make a request to the EOC and clearly explain the reason as well as the time and destination. Visitors are also asked to avoid going to the community areas to avoid crowded gatherings.

It is noted that the revised order by the governor has not been officially promoted by the Phuket office of the Public Relations Department. However, all visitors are still asked to register online via the Mor Chana contact tracing application and via www.gophuget.com according to the order re-issued on Friday.

SOURCE: Phuket News

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Tourism

The road less travelled – trekking to the Kalim Viewpoint

The Thaiger

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The road less travelled – trekking to the Kalim Viewpoint | The Thaiger

There are two well known ways to get from Kathu to Kalim or Kamala – one is across the Patong Hill, and the other is much longer, through Srisoonthorn and along the coastal road from Surin the Kamala (very scenic too).

But there’s also another way. Also very scenic but will take you about 2 hours through dense forest although there is a well-worn walking track. The track will take you from Kathu up to the Kalim Viewpoint. From here you can head back to Kathu along a different path, or down into Kalim, near Patong.

Starting about halfway down Soi Namtok in Kathu, you head up a nondescript road past the Flying Hanuman zipline attraction, although there’s no sign at the entrance to the soi (below). About the first kilometre is paved but then becomes increasingly ‘agricultural’ as you get higher into the hills, heading towards the Kalim Viewpoint. There’s also a small temple on the way up.

The road less travelled - trekking to the Kalim Viewpoint | News by The Thaiger

PHOTO: The start of the trek, a small soi off Soi Namtok – Google Maps

It will take around 2 hours to trek up to the Kalim Viewpoint. The walking is quite strenuous and you’ll need to be wearing the right shoes and take plenty of water – there’s no 7/11s on the way! As you get nearer the top, to the viewpoint, the track becomes less drivable although the track is still quite open and easy to follow. If you’re feeling a bit lazy you can take a motorbike about halfway up the road until you’ll need to proceed on foot from there.

From the Kalim Viewpoint you can see across Kalim to Patong Bay and the land that stretches along the bay south of Patong Beach. From the top you can either make your way down to Kalim or another exit along the Kalim-Kamala Road, just near the Iguana Beach Club.

You can also head back another way to Kathu, a longer return track that skirts around the top of the Kathu Waterfall. A lot of that track gets very narrow and parts of it are up and down the hills, some of it very steep.

The views are amazing and you get to see a vast swathe of Phuket, still very close to popular locations like Patong, Kamala and Kathu, but untouched by any civilisation.

You’ll need to be in reasonable health to take on the trip but, just to go up to the Kalim Viewpoint and back, or down into Kalim, should take around 5 hours in total. On a scale of 1 – 5 for difficulty, we’d rate it a 3. An easy trek for experienced people but will need a bit of planning if you’re not an experienced trekker.

Even on a hazy day, as it was today, the views were amazing. But best to start off early morning when the weather is cooler. Well worth the time for the views and the opportunity to see more of Phuket, away from the bars and beaches.

Thanks to BT for the pics and information.

The road less travelled - trekking to the Kalim Viewpoint | News by The Thaiger

The road less travelled - trekking to the Kalim Viewpoint | News by The ThaigerThe road less travelled - trekking to the Kalim Viewpoint | News by The Thaiger

The road less travelled - trekking to the Kalim Viewpoint | News by The Thaiger

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