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Gulu’s goal: to bring mega-yachts to Phuket

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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Gulu’s goal: to bring mega-yachts to Phuket | The Thaiger

KOH KAEW: Royal Phuket Marina (RPM) developer Gulu Lalvani yesterday held a press conference to outline his vision to develop Phuket as the world’s top yachting destination – including his plan to build Zoran Island, a new island off the coast to site a deluxe marina complex capable of berthing mega-yachts.

“I am very pleased that at the beginning of this month Phuket was named the best marine destination in Asia, but this is not enough for me. My dream is to make Phuket the world’s number one destination. Some of you may think this is impossible, but some of my friends thought I was crazy when I told them a few years ago that I wanted to make Phuket the top destination in Asia,” he said.

“As many of you know, Bill Gates was here last month for two weeks on his 54-meter yacht. He said it was one of the best holidays he ever had. My dream is to have more people like Bill Gates coming here. All we lack is the facilities for yachts in the 40- to 70-meter range. My dream has been to make an island which can take mega-yachts. I shared my vision with [former] Governor Udomsak [Uswarangkura] last year and he like the idea very much,” he said.

Former Governor Udomasak was among several dignitaries attending the press conference, held at the RPM conference room. Also attending were Phuket Deputy Governor Smith Palawatvichai and Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) Deputy Governor for International Marketing Juthaporn Rerngronasa.

Zoran Island, named after one of telecom tycoon Mr Lalvani’s sons, would be located about three kilometers offshore near the end of the existing channel to RPM. It would have restaurants, shopping and other facilities catering to the needs of the world’s super-rich, he said.

Mr Lalvani said that reports in the Thai media that Bill Gates would invest in the Zoran Island project were incorrect.

“I want to put the record straight on that it will be my investment, not that of Bill Gates,” he said.

Asked what he expected to be the biggest obstacle to turning Zoran Island from a dream into a reality, Mr Lalvani told the Gazette that he met with officials from the Marine Department earlier in the day and that he had hired an Australian consulting firm to conduct an initial survey of the proposed project site.

“The government is pro-tourism, but of course they have to check out that this is the right location…There don’t seem to be any obstacles, but we will have to go through proper procedures,” he said.

“Because we have a temporary government at the moment, officials tend to delay making decisions…In the past, I had a very fast decisions from the governor, but this year we have a temporary government that has other priorities. But I believe that once the survey is done it is only a matter of time before we get there.

“The islands that surround Phuket are the most beautiful in the world. I am so confident that I have fully funded this entire project with my own money…there is not one baht of borrowing. So I have total confidence in Zoran Island being a long-term success.”

As had Mr Lalvani, K. Juthaporn hailed Phuket’s for being named as “Asia’s Maritime Capital” and the Phuket King’s Cup Regatta being named “Yachting Event of the Year” at the Christofle Asia Boating Awards in Bangkok last month.

Evidence of Phuket’s post-tsunami recovery and continued growth was reflected in tourist arrival figures, she said.

There were 4.5 million visitors to Phuket in 2006, up 79% from the post-tsunami 2005. First quarter figures for 2007 showed an increase of 26% over the first quarter of 2006, she said.

Also increasing were the number or direct flights to Phuket, including scheduled flights from places such as Australia and Hong Kong.

An increase in the number of charter flights scheduled to arrive from Europe in upcoming months reflects the fact that Europeans are beginning to view Phuket as more of a year-round destination than just a winter getaway, she said.

More good news comes with an increase in the number of cruise ships scheduled to include the island on their itineraries.

Among the newcomers are Seabourn and Carnival cruise lines, she said.

Further details of Zoran Island’s construction and projected costs have not been announced, but based on computer models released by Mr Lalvani, it appears that the island will be capable of mooring at least 40 yachts and about 10 mega-yachts. The design calls for a ring of villas surrounding a hotel and man-made bay.

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

Expats

Deceased Phuket expat’s body stuck in hospital due to passport mix-up

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Deceased Phuket expat’s body stuck in hospital due to passport mix-up | The Thaiger

In a nightmarish scenario, a deceased Phuket expat’s body is stuck in a Thai hospital as his step‐daughter claims hospital administrators won’t release the body due to a passport mix‐up.

Gemma Swift, the step‐daughter of 75 year old David Donoghue, who died 2 weeks ago, says she is pleading with embassy staff in Thailand to resolve, what she says, is purely an administrative issue after Donoghue’s passport number at the hospital was from that of an expired one.

Donoghue’s current passport was on file with the British Embassy, but because it did not match what the hospital had, his body has remained at the hospital. Swift says it was something that could easily be corrected and the situation was “horrendous” for the family.

“The British Embassy over in Bangkok, they said that because [the number] was from his current passport, they were unable to change the letter. They have said that they won’t reissue a letter with the passport number that he’s got in the hospital with him.”

She said her family planned to arrange a funeral for him in Thailand, then bring his ashes back to the UK. As he retired to Phuket 15 years ago, her family would then take his ashes back to Thailand, as per his wishes, to scatter them.

However, none of his family members were able to travel to Thailand to be with Donoghue in his final days, as the mandatory 14 day quarantine period upon entering Thailand, would not have allowed them to see him.

“I thought this was a basic human right to be able to give somebody a funeral and I accept that there is always going to be red tape…but please just issue a letter and let us bring him home.”

She said before Covid-19, family members travelled often to Phuket to visit Donoghue, who once worked for the Thai tourist police. She says the entire ordeal has been heartbreaking as her family was unable to say goodbye.

“That on its own was heart breaking, and now to get this two weeks later, to find out we can’t give him a funeral, or get his ashes back, it’s just horrendous.”

“It’s like being on autopilot… once we know we have done everything we can, we can start the grieving process, but at the minute we can’t.”

A Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office spokesperson said they are assisting Donoghue’s family during the difficult time.

“Our staff are in contact with the local hospital and funeral director to help his family obtain the necessary paperwork to ensure his body is treated in line with their wishes.”

If the situation isn’t fixed, Donoghue’s body will join a mass cremation at the hospital.

SOURCE: BBC News

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Phuket

Thailand News Today | Covid passport talks, Thai Airways heads to court | March 2

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Thailand News Today | Covid passport talks, Thai Airways heads to court | March 2 | The Thaiger

In today’s Thailand News Today…. The island of Phuket has a firm plan to get its residents vaccinated leading up to an October opening for tourists, the Thai PM backs up his police over last Sunday’s protest violence and Thai Airway’s employee union criticises the changes to employee contracts.

But the plan must be approved by the national government by April, if the province wants to open tourism by October 1. Phuket has a resident population of around 300- 400,000 people.

Before you go rushing off to book your plane tickets we’d stress that this is another in a long list of proposals that have not come to fruition and we’d urge patience until the Government approves the plans.

Meanwhile the island has taken delivery of 4,000 doses of the Chinese Sinovac Covid-19 vaccine. Vaccinations started yesterday, with priority given to 1,500 healthcare workers and 500 “at-risk” officials exposed to Covid-19 patients.

On a broader note… Thailand’s Tourism Minister says he has asked the Public Health Ministry to approve a vaccine passport scheme aimed at reviving Thailand’s devastated tourism sector. According to the Minister, the government is looking to the World Health Organisation to issue a statement on vaccine passports before it makes a final decision on the matter.

The Thai PM, Prayut Chan-o-cha has defended police action against protesters taking part in Sunday’s anti-government rally in Bangkok. Officers from the Metropolitan Police Bureau used tear gas, a water cannon and rubber bullets in an effort to drive protesters back from the PM’s residence. The PM insists the actions were in line with international standards. He says that police did not violate the protesters’ rights.

Thai researchers are claiming that horseshoe bats are not responsible for transmitting the Covid virus to humans. A researcher with the Thai Red Cross Emerging Infectious Diseases-Health Science Centre, says that even though the bats have tested positive for a coronavirus, it is not the strain that is transmissible to humans, and it’s certainly not the virus that causes Covid-19.

As Thai Airways tries to sell new contracts and conditions to its remaining workforce, the labour union of the national carrier is challenging changes to the employment contracts, where Thai Airways employees are being asked to agree to changes as part of the bigger financial rehabilitation program.

But a union representative says the new contracts are unfair because it includes fewer leave days and shorter holidays. The union has filed a complaint with the Department of Labour Protection and Welfare.

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Phuket

Police investigate reports of women’s underwear stolen from Phuket homes

Caitlin Ashworth

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Police investigate reports of women’s underwear stolen from Phuket homes | The Thaiger
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Police in Phuket are looking for a suspect who residents say has been stealing women’s underwear. Surveillance camera footage from a resident’s home shows a teenager driving through a neighbourhood, then stopping and stealing ladies panties that were hanging up to dry.

One resident told Phuket News that numerous residents in Thalang’s Baan Lipon area have reported missing underwear.

“Recently neighbors have been reporting that many items of their underwear have been stolen. Many residents are worried about the man hovering around here trying to steal underwear.”

A man told the Phuket News that his wife’s underwear was stolen and he’s now worried about his family’s safety. Another resident says he’s also concerned.

“As a resident in this area, I am worried about the safety of the local residents. Underwear has been stolen, something else could happen as well.”

In a similar case back in October, a 46 year old man was arrested for allegedly breaking into homes in Ratchaburi and stealing women’s underwear. Police says they seized 70 pairs of panties.

SOURCE: Phuket News

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