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Kata boatmen blockade Amancruises yacht

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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KATA: A dispute over business territory led to a seaborne blockade at Kata Beach this morning in which a motor launch from the exclusive Amanpuri resort was forced to sail without eight passengers. The 38-foot motor yacht Maritess, operated by Amancruises, had been booked to pick up four adults and four children from Kata Beach, and take them to Phi Phi. But when local boatmen saw the Maritess at Kata and realized it was picking up passengers, they sprang into action, preventing it from leaving for about an hour. Mongkol Maneesri, captain of the Amancruises yacht, told the Gazette that he had an appointment to pick up the guests at 8:30 am. “I beached the boat and the guests got aboard,” he said. “At least six boat operators then told me that the boat couldn’t take guests from the beach and that the guests had to get out again.” The boatmen included longtail and speedboat operators, he said. He added that, normally, the boat picked up guests at Bang Tao Beach or at the Boat Lagoon. Today was the first time an appointment had been made for a pick-up at Kata. “The passengers were not pleased,” he said. “I think they [the boatmen] should be flexible in cases like this. Sometimes, guests from Kata arrange a pick-up at Bang Tao Beach – there are no bans on boats going to Bang Tao to pick up passengers.” He said that, as a compromise, he had suggested the boatmen ferry the guests out to the Maritess but they had refused to do so. In the end the guests had to take a car to Chalong where they were picked up from the pier. “I don’t know why [the local boatman] did that,” he said, “Maybe it’s because we were picking up guests in ‘their area’. In future we may collect passengers from Chalong Pier because we don’t want any more problems with local operators.” Samrit Taweesaman, President of the Rak Kata Karon (Love Kata Karon) Club told the Gazette that he owns two speedboats and has operated them for more than 10 years. “I get about 10,000 baht [a month] from this business. It’s an income for local people who live in the area. If we don’t keep it for local people, what will they do for a living?” Met Chulak, President of the Longtail Boat Club of Kata, Kata Noi and Karon, said that if other boats come to do business at Kata or Karon beaches, the captains should ask for permission from the local organization first, by contacting the Kata-Karon Municipality. If more boats came to these beaches from elsewhere, he said, this would affect local operators because tourists would go with those boats instead. “We have divided up the area for picking up guests,” he noted. For example, he said, boat operators from Kata would not pick up customers at Karon Beach and vice versa. The Chief Administrative Officer of Karon Municipality, Thawatchai Tongmung, said, “We need to have a well-organized plan for good tourism. Otherwise people will just come from everywhere and set up business at will.” He explained that local people – taxi drivers, beach chair owners, longtail boatmen, jet-ski operators and masseuses – all earned their income from tourism. Each group has specific membership and regulations. “These groups are members of the Rak Kata KaronClub,” he said. “The club has agreements with the municipality and also liaises with other local committees. “Although the law doesn’t specifically say that we can or cannot do this, social rules make it a suitable arrangement,” he said. “For example, with such things as motorbike taxis in Karon, the issues need to be discussed first. Although there are no legal bans, if [local] people were to agree that motorcycle taxis were not suitable, we would usually ask for cooperation to end their use.” K. Thawatchai added that there are 38 longtail boats and nine speedboats operating off the three beaches. Because of the agreement between the municipality and the club, no more boats are allowed to operate in the area. He explained, “If one new boat [is allowed to come] here to transport tourists, then more will come, and it will no longer be well organized.” Local monopolies such as this are common on Phuket. Fifteen months ago demonstrations and threats of violence by tuk-tuk drivers stopped safari companies from picking up their own customers from hotels in the Kata-Karon area. Instead, the customers were forced to use local tuk-tuks or taxis.

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

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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Bangkok

Now they’re coming… Special Tourist Visa flight set for Tuesday – Tourism and Sports Minister

Caitlin Ashworth

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Now they’re coming… Special Tourist Visa flight set for Tuesday – Tourism and Sports Minister | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Unsplash: Suhyeon Choi

After much confusion and a few apparent ‘misunderstandings’, Chinese tourists on the Special Tourist Visa will actually arrive on October 20 and 26. At least that’s what Tourism and Sports Minister Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn says, according to the Bangkok Post. The first group is said to arrive 4 days from now in Bangkok (if they actually applied for the visa this time).

Reports circulated for weeks about a flight of 120 to 150 tourists set to arrive in Phuket on October 8 from Guangzhou, China. An announcement was made shortly after the flight was due to arrive with Tourism Authority Governor Yuthasak Supasorn saying “administrative issues” had caused the delay.

It was later reported that no one from Guangzhou had actually applied for the visa and it was all just a misunderstanding after the Tourism Authority of Thailand reportedly passed off a list of those “interested” in the visa as actual applications.

This time, the Post is reporting the first group of 120 tourists from Guangzhou will arrive at Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport on Tuesday. Another group of 120 tourists, also from Guangzhou, will arrive on October 26, but the Post didn’t say where that flight will land.

It’s apparently the same group that was planned to arrive in Phuket on October 8, but the minister claims the trip was postponed due to the Vegetarian Festival which is planned to run until October 25. Both the Phuket governor and National Security Council secretary general had claimed the festival was the reason for the delayed flight and was intended to ease fears of Covid-19 for the festival-goers coming in from the rest of Thailand.

Even though the new long stay tourist visa is good for 90 days, and can be renewed twice, the tourists will only stay in the country for 30 days, with 14 of those days in quarantine. Phiphat says the Tourism Authority of Thailand will find activities to keep the tourists occupied while in quarantine.

The visitors will be the first international tourists after a 6 month ban to prevent the spread of Covid-19. Thai officials have been discussing plans for months about how to safely reopen borders to revive the country’s economy which is heavily driven by the tourism industry. Officals are now talking about cutting down the mandatory time for quarantine from 14 days to 7 days to help entice people to visit.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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