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Mayor Pian unveils “14 strategies’ to develop Patong

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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Mayor Pian unveils “14 strategies’ to develop Patong | Thaiger

PHUKET: Pian Keesin, launching into his final term as Patong Mayor, has revealed a grand plan of “14 strategies” to transform Patong into a “Livable and Sustainable Tourist Destination City”.

Speaking at a Patong council meeting on Monday, Mayor Pian said, “In order to prepare our town for the beginning of the Asean Economic Community [AEC] in 2015, we will have to raise our standards to international level.

“To achieve that, I propose a plan of 14 different strategies that will highlight different aspects and help our town develop in the right direction,” he added.

In delivering his address, Mayor Pian listed each strategy, with a brief description, as follows:

Strategy 1: Education

“We will give everyone a chance to be equal in education. We will support having computer classes in school, English classes taught by native speakers, and after school classes will be provided for students.”

Strategy 2: Sport and recreation

“We will push to set up a sports complex in Patong, and we will hold sports competitions so everyone can enjoy sports.”

Strategy 3: Information technology development

“We will push our ‘Patong WiFi City’ project, especially in the Loma Park area. The Patong Municipality official website also will be made available so that anyone can publish their public relations through our website.”

Strategy 4: Promotion of local culture and customs

“We will promote local culture and traditions. More events to support culture, tradition and religion will be held so that a deep appreciation of local people will be long-lasting.”

Strategy 5: Social order

“Everyone will be equal in the community according to the law.”

Strategy 6: Drug prevention

“Our communities will be kept safe from drugs. We will do everything to prevent drugs in the area.”

Strategy 7: Public health

“We will promote the public health network by launching activities such as exercise programs that allow people in the community to take part. Food safety is an issue that should also be focused on. Food should be 100 per cent safe and clean and vendors should be inspected regularly. Also, everyone should have access to medical treatment.”

Strategy 8: Increase work efficiency of Patong Municipality staff

“Our work will be clean and transparent. People can check on us and inspect us anytime they want. We will listen to what people in the area need and ensure that we take care of all problems.

“We will provide enough staff to be on duty the whole time during office hours. We will also develop a ‘One Stop Service’ system to save time for people who need to contact us.”

Strategy 9: Economic and tourism promotion

“We will ensure that public services and facilities are ready to serve everyone in order to support the tourism industry, and we will promote local careers in order to help develop the local economy.”

Strategy 10: Public utilities and infrastructure

“We will improve our wastewater treatment capabilities and expand the city sewer network to cover the whole Patong area in order to prepare the town for further expansion.”

Strategy 11: Town plan and Patong city development

“We will develop the town plan to support growth of the local economy and development of the community, and encourage Patong residents to actively take part in developing their city.”

Strategy 12: Natural resources and environment

“We will improve public hygiene and cleanliness, by improving trash collection and how the people dispose of their garbage in the city, and we will promote activities to rehabilitate Patong Beach and promote our municipality to be a ‘green’ community.”

Strategy 13: Preserving safety and security of local residents and tourists

“We will add more CCTV cameras throughout the community and set up an EMS [emergency medical services] mobile unit to provide initial treatment to residents and tourists in need.

“Problems with flooding will be solved and disaster-relief operation officers will be provided seminars and training sessions in conducting rescue operations.”

Strategy 14: Traffic

“We will make any changes needed to improve traffic flow in Patong, and designate traffic police officers to facilitate traffic flow during rush hour. CCTV cameras will be installed at intersections and in crowded areas to prevent drivers from breaking traffic rules and we will widen roads in some areas that already suffer from traffic jams.”

Mayor Pian did not elaborate on which parts of the community, if any, may be lacking such essential services as some of those listed above.

He also did not present any detailed plans on how the above objectives were to be achieved. Such details are to become available as the plans are approved, he said.

“All these 14 strategies will be applied practically. We will set up a development strategic plan, designate projects and distribute the budget to support and push Patong to become a ‘Livable and Sustainable Tourist Destination City’,” he said.

“Progress reports will be submitted to the Patong Municipality Council every year,” he added.

— Kritsada Mueanhawong

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Tourism

Thailand’s 3rd wave wreaks havoc on the Tourism Restart Plan – where are we now?

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Thailand’s 3rd wave wreaks havoc on the Tourism Restart Plan – where are we now? | Thaiger
PHOTO: Empty beaches of Hua Hin - AJ Wood

OPINION by Andrew J Wood

Thailand Ministers ponder the next steps to re-start it’s massive tourism industry, initially set for July 1, 2021 in Phuket. The plan may need to be overhauled as Phuket struggles to immunise the whole island in the wake of the third wave of hotspots. Phuket, prior to the third wave had already secured more than 100,000 doses and planned to receive an additional 930,000 doses by June.

This would be enough for 70% of the population – the target needed to achieve herd immunity. The spike in Covid-19 cases has interrupted this plan, as vaccines must also be allocated to other provinces urgently to help fight the latest outbreaks.

Not deterred, the Tourism and Sports Minister Pipat Ratchakitprakarn said he plans to meet next week with all relevant agencies to discuss the reopening plan, previously set for July this year. Eighteen provinces have now been declared red zones, with a partial lockdown and stay at home order. The alert warning was also raised across the rest of the country to orange, in all the remaining 59 provinces many of which had previously been green and considered safe.

Deciding to ignore expert warnings, the government allowed the Songkran holidays to go ahead, even adding an extra day. However no mass gatherings or water splashing were allowed.

(Songkran is the Thai New Year celebration which typically lasts 3-4 days, leading to a mass exodus of cities like Bangkok).

Last year, due to Covid-19, the holiday was cancelled. As a result of the holiday this year, a few outbreaks in Bangkok allowed the virus to spread widely. The Bangkok outbreaks centred on entertainment places; restaurant-pubs and nightclubs around the Thonglor area, plus a high-society wedding at a new riverside hotel, whose guest list included a number of government Ministers and prominent business leaders.

The Covid virus from these few hotspots were quickly spread throughout the whole country, as people returned to their homes for the holidays. Unfortunately this was a perfect storm for spreading the virus. Up until this point, since the beginning of the pandemic, Thailand had only recorded 28,889 cases and 94 deaths as at April 1, 2021. Eighteen days later this has risen to 43,742 cases and 104 deaths. An increase in cases of 51%.

During my recent visit to Hua Hin, empty beaches were very much in evidence already with the third wave leading to mass cancellations. Some resorts, previously 70-80% occupied, saw domestic arrivals decimated. Already hurting from a lack of international visitors, this latest outbreak was a most unwelcome guest.

The question of re-opening Thailand to Tourism, starting with Phuket, has obviously taken a knock backwards.

“The key determinant is insufficient vaccines, we are concerned about the re-opening timeline. We still need to discuss the vaccine administration plan. If the herd immunity goal cannot be achieved, we may have to consider opening only certain areas in Phuket”.

However, to continue with the same plan, even with restricted zones, will not be easy as long as the country still has increasing new daily infections, said Minister Pipat.

“Most importantly, we still have to hear from other countries that we already started travel bubble negotiations with about their confidence regarding the same timeline.”

Like Hua Hin, hotels in the North reported cancellations of more than 70% with Chiang Mai a cause for concern and currently experiencing increased coronavirus cases. Prior to the pandemic, the province was a popular destination to celebrate Thai New Year.

Regrettably Minister Pipat is in self-quarantine after being in close contact with Transport Minister Saksayam Chidchob, who was diagnosed with Covid-19. The Minster fortunately has already received his first vaccination jab last month (AstraZeneca) and will remain in isolation until next week when all tests are complete (3 swab tests).

ANDREW J WOOD

Andrew J Wood was born in Yorkshire England, he is a professional hotelier, Skalleague and travel writer. Andrew has 48 years of hospitality and travel experience. He is a hotel graduate of Napier University, Edinburgh. Andrew is a past Director of Skål International (SI), National President SI Thailand and is currently President of SI Bangkok and a VP of both SI Thailand and SI Asia. He is a regular guest lecturer at various Universities in Thailand including Assumption University’s Hospitality School and the Japan Hotel School in Tokyo.

The content of this article reflects the writer and does not necessarily reflect the editorial stance of The Thaiger.

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Tourism

Phuket’s July Sandbox no-quarantine model “needs a major revamp”

Tim Newton

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Phuket’s July Sandbox no-quarantine model “needs a major revamp” | Thaiger
PHOTO: The monsoon waves are starting to hit Phuket's west coast

Thailand’s Sports and Tourism minister Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn is acknowledging that Phuket’s ‘Sandbox’ model for a no-quarantine re-opening in July will need “a major revamp”. As the Songkran travel bubble bursts and the monsoon season waves start to roll onto the island’s west coast beaches, Phuket’s scheduled July re-boot suddenly seems a long way off.

Minister Phiphat says he plans to meet with “all related agencies” this week. Apart from the latest national re-surge in new infections, Phuket has been unable to get its hands on sufficient vaccines to meed its deadline of 70% of the island vaccinated by July 1. Thailand’s limited supplies of the vaccine – including some 930,000 doses designated for Phuket – are being rerouted to other provinces as the government prioritises the limited supply.

“We are all concerned about the reopening timeline,” he was quoted in Bangkok Post.

But the Minister did acknowledge that, if the 70% vaccination level couldn’t be met, they may consider opening some areas of the island. Exactly how that would work hasn’t been revealed at this stage.

The minister also brought up the ongoing travel bubble negotiations and says he hadn’t heard back from some of the candidates with their reaction to the current outbreak.

Flights in and out of Phuket Airport’s international terminal have been extremely patchy and the flights from feeder tourist markets will need to co-operate with any re-opening plans.

Phuket, whilst suffering a rise in new infections, hasn’t been hit as hard as some of the other popular holiday provinces, like Chiang Mai, Chon Buri (Pattaya) and Prachuap Khiri Khan (Hua Hin).

This year’s Songkran was going to be a major stepping stone for the island’s recovery and many hotels, some who had opened especially to cater for Songkran holiday traffic, noted a lot of cancellations just prior to the break.

But some island hotels have still reported high occupancy rates over the past week. One Manager, who did not want his name published, said that their hotel was almost full with Thai patrons, most who had pre-paid for their flights and accommodation and decided to go ahead anyway.

Bhummikitti Ruktaengam, the president of the Phuket Tourist Association, says that they are opposed to any lockdown as it would cripple the island, with its tourist businesses already suffering greatly. He stated that 15% of people cancelled their Songkran bookings, while 30% had postponed their trips.

The Sports and Tourism Ministers is still in quarantine after having close contact with Transport Minister Saksayam Chidchob, who was diagnosed with Covid-19 2 weeks ago.

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Phuket begs Kolour attendees to come for Covid-19 testing

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Phuket begs Kolour attendees to come for Covid-19 testing | Thaiger
FILE PHOTO: Kolour in the park was more pleasant in 2018 before Covid-19.

Health officials in Phuket put out a public statement this week compelling all foreigners who attended clubs and ‘Kolour’ events to report for Covid-19 testing. As many might expect, the response has been lacklustre at best. Spreading the message around the foreigner and expat community in Phuket, the message is aimed at the multitudes of people, mostly foreign who attended Kolour and related events that turned into a Covid-19 superspreader event. Many foreigners have not come forward, much to health officials chagrin.

Online and on social media, foreigners and Thais shed light on why this urgent public health request is going largely unheeded. Foreigners fear the repercussions of coming forward, especially since Thailand is not allowing staying home or elsewhere in isolation if someone tests positive for Covid-19. Quarantine is mandatory, and with infection numbers exploding across the country, many fear the less-than-posh comforts of being quarantined in an emergency field hospital.

Cost is the other factor that likely is preventing foreigners from turning themselves in to be tested for Covid-19. While Phuket health officials may test people for free, anyone found infected with Covid-19 will be financially responsible for all the costs of their treatment and quarantine. Foreigners with limited financial resources, especially after a year of holing up in Thailand to ride out the Coronavirus, may resist reporting to authorities when they cannot afford the mandatory quarantine and medical treatment.

Perhaps recognizing this hesitation, the message includes a plea for all attendees to self-quarantine and self-monitor for any symptoms over the next week, even if they fail to report or test negative. The note also reminds everyone to wear masks in public at all times. The statement to the public also instructed anyone who attended any of the Covid-19 spreading nightlife events to report to the Acute Respiratory Infection Clinic area of Vachira General Hospital to receive a Covid-19 swab test.

SOURCE: The Pattaya News

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