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Hotel supply cap “pointless’ for Phuket

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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PHUKET: Hotel operators are lukewarm to an effort by the Thai Hotels Association to lobby the government to limit the number of new hotel licenses it issues, saying the real problem is the number of accommodation establishments that operate illegally.

Following reports that the association planned to lobby returning Tourism and Sports Minister Chumpol Silpa-archa to help develop the industry by limiting new hotel licenses in popular destinations, Phuket Tourist Association President Somboon Jirayus doubted such a measure could be effective in Phuket under current circumstances.

The main obstacle is the number of guesthouses, serviced apartments and similar establishments operating as hotels on the island without licenses, he said.

He estimated there were “over 50,000” rooms in such establishments – surpassing the number of rooms in registered hotels.

As of June 2011, there were 43,571 registered rooms in Phuket, according to Tourism Authority of Thailand statistics.

Asked how such a situation could have developed he said, “It’s hard to explain. I guess you could say we do it ‘Thai style’. Those businesses do not comply with regulations, they just build and open.”

As the Interior Ministry issues licenses, any effort to crack down on illegal operators would require action from them through the Governor’s Office in each province, he said.

If they could solve the “underground hotel” problem, the idea of limiting the number of new licenses would be an attractive one, he said.

“I think we have to accept the fact that the room supply in Phuket now surpasses demand, especially during the green season. So I think the idea to limit the number of new licenses is interesting, but I think you would need a committee to present all the facts relevant to the situation.

“It would be good if the government could do it, but it should match the actual supply and demand situation,” he said.

Rival destinations have benefited from similar measures. Authorities in Bali, for example, had successfully limited the number of new hotel licenses issued in certain areas, such as the tourist-busy Kuta Beach.

Whether or not new licenses should be issued is considered by a review panel after a set period of time, such as every three years, he said.

Suchart Hirankanokkul, president of Thai Hotels Association Southern Chapter and managing director of Graceland Hotel, said he was aware of the issues involved but would not be attending the meeting in Bangkok.

The chief problem of the proliferation of unregistered accommodation establishments was not that it created an oversupply situation, but that it eroded standards and compromised safety, he said.

“There are simply no controls on serviced apartments and guesthouses operating illegally as hotels,” he said.

The government should come up with a suitable permitting system for such venues to ensure they are at least equipped with basic safety systems. A major fire disaster in such an establishment would ruin Phuket’s hotel industry reputation globally.

“Prospective tourists would just hear the word ‘hotel’. They would not know whether or not the hotel was legally registered,” he said.

Many illegal hotels on the island were built as far back as 30 years ago and the structures do not meet building code requirements. Complete reconstruction would be cost prohibitive, so they opt not to apply for permits at all, he explained.

“But to order them to close would be too cruel,” he said.

Instead, the government should allow a “grandfather clause” to allow them to operate within the law, he added, insisting that the Thai Hotels Association did not want to limit new business investment.

“We are not opposed to business competition, but there must be standards in the industry. We want to bring the illegal establishments into the system so that we all operate under the same laws.

“Otherwise, legally-registered hotels will be forced to continue to operate at a competitive disadvantage since all those other operators don’t have to pay tax or train staff according to the Hotel Act. This allows them to undercut legal hotels on pricing,” he said.

The problem would be a topic of discussion at an upcoming meeting with the governor, he said.

— S Fein & J Upatising

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Phuket

Phuket workshop helps residents cope with high stress brought on by the economic crisis

Caitlin Ashworth

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Phuket workshop helps residents cope with high stress brought on by the economic crisis | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Facebook: ประชาสัมพันธ์ เทศบาลตำบลวิชิต

Hundreds of residents in Phuket’s Wichit subdistrict attended a workshop focused on reducing stress from to the pandemic-induced economic crisis. A psychologist was even on site to help those who had extreme mental stress and a Buddhist monk taught meditation techniques to reduce physiological effects of stress.

The event was planned in response to an online survey conducted by the municipality asking residents about how much stress they were experiencing from the economic climate. They found that some residents had serious stress issues brought on by the pandemic and financial problems, according to Wichit Mayor Kreetha Chotiwichphiphat.

“The loss of income due to the economic crisis brought on by the Covid-19 situation has resulted in some people in the area suffering serious stress, which can lead to serious mental health issues.”

Around 350 people attended the event. The mayor says it was the first step in caring for the residents’ mental health. Local officials plan to hold similar workshops in the future.

“It was a good opportunity for people to realise the importance of mental health and to learn techniques of how to deal with stress, which will help people to maintain their physical health and avoid developing mental health problems.”

SOURCE: Phuket News

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Phuket

Phuket’s Soi Dog Foundation opens Humane Education Centre at Mai Khao shelter

The Thaiger

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Phuket’s Soi Dog Foundation opens Humane Education Centre at Mai Khao shelter | The Thaiger

The Soi Dog Foundation has officially opened its Humane Education Centre, the first of its kind in Thailand dedicated to the welfare of stray animals. The centre, located at the Soi Dog shelter in northern Phuket, forms part of the foundation’s Humane Education program. Rolled out in 2017, the program sees a team visit Thai schools to teach the next generation the basic principles of animal welfare and promote empathetic attitudes towards both owned pets and free-roaming strays.

The program has reached a total of 15,058 students and 861 teachers to date. With a dedicated classroom as well as educational tools and resources now on site at the shelter, Soi Dog will be able to expand the programme and reach an even greater number of young minds.

Co-founder and president of Soi Dog Foundation International John Dalley said, “The cornerstones of what we do – what I believe very firmly are the answers to the stray dog problem throughout Asia – are large-scale sterilisation of stray dogs and cats and education of, particularly, the next generation.

“We see all the time the problems that are being caused through us not respecting the environment and not respecting the other animals with whom we share this planet. That’s why education is so important.”

John also thanked the supporters and donors who made the construction of the centre possible. After cutting the ribbon, the students filed into the brand-new facility for the very first on-site class – a fun and interactive hour of roleplaying, brainstorming and problem solving.

Humane Education Manager Nuttawut “Film” Kumngern. said… “We want to encourage kindness toward animals, especially free-roaming dogs and cats, and teach youngsters to be responsible pet owners. This will sustainably reduce animal cruelty and pet abandonment.”

“We hope to one day see animal welfare incorporated into the curriculum in Thai schools, and our education centre is a great start.”

Soi Dog is ready to welcome school groups from Phuket and other provinces to the centre which can accommodate up to 40 students at any one time. Schools interested in participating are encouraged to email film@soidog.org

Phuket's Soi Dog Foundation opens Humane Education Centre at Mai Khao shelter | News by The ThaigerPhuket's Soi Dog Foundation opens Humane Education Centre at Mai Khao shelter | News by The Thaiger

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Police have yet to investigate illegal hiring of foreign teachers at international school in Phuket

The Thaiger

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Police have yet to investigate illegal hiring of foreign teachers at international school in Phuket | The Thaiger

Chalong police in Phuket say they have yet to start investigating the illegal hiring of foreign teachers at an international school in Rawai, south of the island. Palm House International School allegedly hired foreign teachers illegally in which 2 were arrested by Phuket Immigration police on November 4.

Somkiet Sarasin, the leading investigator of the case, says the 2 Brits were informed that police were processing a charge of working illegally in the country against them, in which both denied the charges. Somkiet says the 2 were released on bail, but did not confirm the amount of bail that was set by the police.

“They are still staying in Thailand. I am not worried. I have their passports. I am not available to explain [any details] because the investigation is still ongoing.”

“This is normal for an investigation when the suspects deny the charge against them. I have to check more information against their claims. This case will probably be concluded next month.”

However, the investigation has yet to begin, with Somkiet saying he has not even questioned the owner of the school, despite his claims the case would be finished next month.

“The investigation into the school will take time. The investigation into the two British people must be finished first.”

Such allegations of foreign teachers working illegally have recently been in the news after Sarasas Witaed Sainoi Pitiyakarn School, in the central province of Nonthaburi, saw 7 foreign teachers probed for being hired illegally. That school, along with others in its private network, made nationwide news after CCTV caught a Thai teacher hitting, pushing and dragging a young student in the classroom. Such widespread violence against students has long been a sad component of many Thai schools, in which some of the teachers are unqualified and unlicensed to teach, but are hired anyway.

SOURCE: The Phuket News

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