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ICEC location down to two sites

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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ICEC location down to two sites | The Thaiger
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PHUKET CITY: After studying four proposed locations for the long-awaited Phuket International Convention and Exhibition Center (ICEC), project investor ING Funds (Thailand) Co Ltd has whittled the field down to just two sites: Anuphas and Sons’ 250 rai off Chao Fa West Rd in Wichit and 130 rai of government land at Tah Chat Chai.

The announcement was made at a meeting of the ICEC siting committee at Phuket Provincial Hall on Friday.

Chaired by Phuket Governor Niran Kalayanamit, the meeting featured a presentation by Maris Tarab, Managing Director of ING Funds (Thailand) Co Ltd.

The two proposed sites were selected by ING Funds (Thailand) for the 2-billion-baht project because of their locations, access to facilities and ease of development, he explained.

Two other privately owned sites were eliminated by ING Funds (Thailand), the only investment firm to show interest in the project after Tourism and Sports Minister Suwit Yodmanee announced the project should go forward with private investment.

Strong points of the Anuphas and Sons’ land was access and ease of development. The site, originally intended for the Chao Fa City project, is bordered on one side by a paved divided highway and has adequate water supply from abandoned tin mine ponds.

Unlike the other two privately-owned sites, the land has already been cleared and is ready to build on, Gov Niran said

However, potential problems include increased traffic congestion along Chao Fa West Rd and Wichit Songkram Rd, he added.

Prasert Temmart, representing the Phuket Provincial Public Works and Town & Country Planning office, suggested that a new bypass road – that would actually bypass the bypass road – or even a bridge from the Darasamuth School Intersection could be built to alleviate congestion in the area if the site is chosen.

There was no mention that lack of a sea view was considered a major drawback. Previous efforts to find a site for the project, going back well over a decade, had held a sea view as a basic requirement.

K. Maris said that advantages of the Tah Chat Chai site, apart from having a sea view, include that it is located along a major highway and is easily accessible from the airport. It is also next to the site of the planned sports complex, also to built on government land.

However, while the site would be more easily accessible by motorists arriving from off the island, it is quite far from Phuket’s main population centers and most hotels, K. Maris said.

ING Funds (Thailand) asked for and was granted two more weeks from the committee to study investment costs and other aspects of the two sites before presenting its final recommendation to the committee on September 19.

Also addressing the committee was the Anurak Khunyotying, Managing Director of architectural firm Axis Group, which designed a similar project in Chiang Mai and has been chosen by ING Funds to design the Phuket ICEC.

Presenting a rough sketch of the proposed design for the Phuket ICEC, K. Anurak said the project would incorporate elements of the Sino-Portuguese design, such a archways and covered corridors.

The Phuket ICEC will comprise three main sections: a 3,000-seat Convention Hall with an attached restaurant; a 30,000-square-meter Exhibition Hall with space for 900 exhibition booths; and a 20,000-sqm Arena Hall, which will be multipurpose area for music and sports events.

The heart of the center would be a large open-air lobby suitable for outdoor exhibitions. Much of project design would reflect Phuket cultural and architectural heritage, while the Arena Hall would be built as a large dome showcasing modern construction techniques and materials, said K. Anurak.

Viewed from above, the entire project would resemble the shape of a stingray, he added.

Once final approval is granted, ING Funds (Thailand) will begin construction immediately and the project could be completed in a year’s time at a cost of about 2 billion baht, he said.

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Tourism

Bangkok Airways add 3 new local routes to their schedule

The Thaiger

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Bangkok Airways add 3 new local routes to their schedule | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Bangkok Airways' ATR72, servicing the re-introduced routes

Some domestic routes are being added as local routes continue to expand. This time Bangkok Airways has announced it’s resuming its Samui-Phuket, Phuket-Hat Yai and Phuket-Pattaya/Rayong (U-Tapao) flights.

The first additions to the schedule will be the Phuket-Samui flights resuming this Sunday, October 25, and the Phuket-Pattaya flights start again next Tuesday, October 27. The Phuket-Samui flights will be operating on Sundays and Wednesdays only on the airlines’ ATR72 turbo prop regional planes, same as before.

A casual search on the Bangkok Airways website, for a return flight from Phuket to Samui on November 1, then back to Phuket on November 8 indicates the cheapest fare (promo) is 2,430 baht. Coming back, the cheapest fare we found, again labelled ‘promo’, was 2,630 baht. Bangkok Airways operate as a “full service” airline and don’t compete with the country’s discount airlines. But they operate these three routes exclusively – like it or leave it.

Bangkok Airways say that the flights will be operated “with the highest preventive measures and standards”. Around the country the Civil Aviation Authority of Thailand have eased a few of the onboard restrictions, including the start of catering services which were originally banned under the initial flight rules when domestic routes started flying again at the start of July.

The daily direct services between Phuket and Hat Yai are also being operated on the ATR72 aircraft. The flight to Ha Yai leaves Phuket at 8.40am and arrives at Hat Yai at 9:.45am. The return flights leave Hat Yai back to Phuket at 10.25am each day. The route was very popular for the airline before the ‘disruption’ when airlines had their fleets grounded in April.

The service between Phuket and U-Tapao, linking the party city with the party island, will operate on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays, again with the ATR72. Phuket to U-Tapao will leave at 12.10pm and then from U-Tapao to Phuket at 4pm on the three days. U-Tapao is about a 50 minute drive from Pattaya and the airport also serves the greater Rayong area.

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Phuket

4 billion baht medical hub planned for Phuket

Maya Taylor

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4 billion baht medical hub planned for Phuket | The Thaiger
Mai Khao beach in north Phuket. PHOTO: Booking.com

Phuket officials are setting aside around 4 billion baht to transform medical tourism in the southern province of Phuket, by developing a state-of-the-art treatment hub in the north of the island. The Bangkok Post reports that the Treasury department is planning to give the Public Health Ministry permission to use 141 rai of government land in the sub-district of Mai Khao, close to Phuket International Airport. It’s not the first time the proposal has come to light.

The concept is gathering support as Phuket battles to diversify its attraction beyond a tropical holiday island.

The aim is to develop Phuket as a world-class health and wellness destination, with facilities that will attract medical tourists from all over the world, as well as providing a high standard of treatment to the local population. It’s understood the facility will provide a full range of health services, including long-term care, and hospice and rehabilitation services.

The island already has a well-developed medical tourism market, but has been based around local hospitals and clinics linking up with foreign marketing companies in the past. “The International Medical and Public Health Service” has been conceived to create more long term financial security and diversification, and value-added tourism in Phuket, as the island has taken a heavy financial hit over the past 7 months.

4 billion baht medical hub planned for Phuket | News by The Thaiger

PHOTO: Phuket Andaman News

The plan was first suggested in 2017, by then governor, Noraphat Plodthong and confirmed by the director of Phuket’s Vachira Hospital, Dr. Chalermpong Sukontapol, in July. At that stage, the estimated budget was 3-4 billion baht. The director-general of the Treasury department, Yuthana Yimkarun, says the plot is being offered to the Health Ministry for free. The land is thought be worth around 1 billion baht.

Yuthana says the ministry will manage investment, with approximately 2 billion baht required for the first stage of the project. Construction of the facility is expected to be completed over 2 years.

Meanwhile, it’s understood that unused government land that is currently managed by various government agencies may be moved under the remit of central government, with a view to increasing its worth. According to the Bangkok Post report, just 4% of government land is directly managed by the Treasury. The other 96% is controlled by various government agencies. Yuthana says the plan is to increase the percentage of state-owned land under the Treasury’s management to 10% within 2 years.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

“Open the borders, safely”, Bill Heinecke, Minor International interview – VIDEO

The Thaiger

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“Open the borders, safely”, Bill Heinecke, Minor International interview – VIDEO | The Thaiger

Bill Heinecke speaks to Bill Barnett. The two heavy-hitters of Thailand’s hotel and hospitality sector, mull over the current Covid situation and the reopening of Thailand’s borders to some form of tourism. Bill Heinecke is the Chairman and Founder of Minor International.

Bill Barnett is the Managing Director of c9hotelworks.com

Now the Thai government has approved the special long-term tourist visa scheme (STV), hoteliers are remaining skeptical about reopening due to the lack of clarity in the recent announcement, which will reportedly take effect next month. The president of the Thai Hotels Association’s southern chapter says more hoteliers will consider reopening if the government gives further information about the plan in terms of prospective markets, arrival dates, origin countries, and flights.

Such details would allow hotels to prepare themselves ahead of time to offer services as alternative state quarantine premises as at least 60 hotels in Phuket are awaiting approval to operate such facilities.

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