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Minister buries underground cable pleas

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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Minister buries underground cable pleas | Thaiger

PATONG: It appears unlikely that Patong will get the 350 million baht it wants for burying power cables, after Sports and Tourism Minister Pracha Maleenont sternly shot down a budget proposal for the project at a meeting on post-tsunami redevelopment.

The meeting, at the Graceland Resort and Spa on Wednesday, was held to discuss progress reports on tourism redevelopment efforts in the six tsunami-affected provinces.

As host – and the only province to be represented by its provincial Governor – Phuket was the first province to report to K. Pracha, who chaired the meeting.

Phuket Tourism Association Chairman Pattanapong Aikwanich mentioned that Patong’s last request for 350 million baht in central government funding to lay underground power cables had been rejected by former Deputy Prime Minister Suwat Liptapanlop, who was responsible for Phuket and Phang Nga Provinces after the tsunami.

However, he said, the local business community was very much in favor of the project, and Patong Municipality had already cleared a two-meter-wide path along the beach road to accommodate the subterranean cables.

“If we don’t go ahead with this project now, it will be very difficult to get it done in the future. We requested a budget from the government, and the Provincial Electricity Authority (PEA) has agreed to budget 40 million baht, but we will need more than that,” he said.

He then turned over the floor to Patong Mayor Pian Keesin to make a budget request for the project, estimated at 350 million baht.

“Patong really needs to have underground cables. So if it’s possible, could the Office of Tourism Development provide 100 million baht and the Ministry of Sports and Tourism another 100 million? If the PEA could [increase its contribution] to 100 million, then Patong Municipality could pay the remainder.

“Could the Ministry please help us with just 100 million baht for this project?” he asked.

Mayor Pian then began to ask K. Pracha to help lobby the government to designate Patong as a “special tourism zone”, where entertainment venues would be allowed to remain open until 3 am or 4 am.

K. Pracha cut the mayor off in mid-flow. “Local administrations are always making requests for this and for that,” he said. “Please be aware of what the Ministry of Tourism and Sports is responsible for and what it can accomplish. You continually ask and ask, but the government still has other parts of the country to take care of.”

Former Phuket Chamber of Commerce Chairman Pamuke Archariyachai then suggested that finishing the national tsunami warning system by the start of the high season should be a top priority to restore confidence among foreign tourists.

He also asked the Ministry to promote the region in other Asian countries, because they are an important source of low-season tourists, and encouraged the Ministry to host a top-level sports tournament, such as an Asian Circuit golf tournament, that would bring well-heeled tourists to the island.

K. Pracha said he agreed with these ideas, but noted that the warning system would not likely be finished by September.

The other five provinces then presented their own progress reports. Many of these, such as Krabi Province’s request for funding to extend the runway at Krabi Airport, included a series of budget requests.

K. Pracha told the media after the meeting that most of the requests were more about infrastructure development than sports and tourism and, as such, should be submitted to other ministries.

However, he added, the redevelopment of Patong and Kamala remains the top policy objective at his Ministry.

Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) Governor Juthamas Siriwan, also present at the meeting, added that the TAT would finish the first phase of its redevelopment plan for Patong and Kamala by September as a “gift” to high-season tourists. The work involves landscaping areas along the tsunami-damaged beaches.

K. Juthamas said she expects hotel occupancy rates in the coming high season to average 70% to 80%.

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Chiang Mai

Tourism officials slash Songkran travel expectations by half

Tim Newton

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Tourism officials slash Songkran travel expectations by half | Thaiger

The TAT, ever the optimists regarding anything tourism related, even domestic tourism, predict that the Bangkok clusters that have emerged in the week before the Songkran break could reduce traffic and spending by up to half.

Today the CCSA is reporting 789 new infections and one additional death. 522 were local infections, mostly walk-ins to Bangkok hospitals, 259 were discovered through track and tracing. The remaining 8 were found in quarantine from overseas arrivals. In Phuket, another 17 cases have been reported today, taking the island’s week total to 43.

Tourism officials slash Songkran travel expectations by half | News by ThaigerGRAPH: Worldometer figures for Thailand, up to April 9

A 68 year old man from Nakhon Pathom province died on April 4 but wasn’t reported until today. The CCSA report that he died from Covid and “complications”. 33 other former patients have recovered and been discharged.

Last week the TAT estimated 3.2 million domestic trips would circulate 12 billion baht for the Thai economy. But the Tourism Authority has now slashed their estimates by half after hotels, airlines and bus companies reported mass cancellations in the last few days. Other provinces are reporting less than 20% cancellations. Although this weekend will see a lot of travel, Songkran doesn’t formally start until next Tuesday and the TAT expect there could be additional fallout as travellers decide to have a staycation for Songkran instead heading home.

Bangkok Post reports that 70% of travellers to Prachuap Khiri Khan and Hua Hin have already cancelled hotel bookings. Similar cancellations have been reported in Pattaya, Phuket and Chiang Mai. Many other provinces, particularly in the north east and north, are also enforcing quarantine on arrivals or additional paperwork to try and protect their provinces from any of the Bangkok clusters.

8 north eastern provinces rare now requiring 10 or 14 day quarantine periods for anyone arriving from areas where new clusters have been reported. Chiang Mai provincial officials say that tourists from Samut Prakan, Nakhon Pathom, Bangkok, Pathum Thani and Nonthaburi – basically Bangkok and surrounding provinces – must complete a 14 day mandatory quarantine or conduct a test for Covid when they arrive.

The reality is that the travel and quarantine changes are outstripping the ability to communicate them all. Anyone crossing into other provinces in the next few day, especially if you’re travelling from Bangkok and surrounding provincial ‘red zones’ can expect some additional paperwork or a Covid test. Or even quarantine.

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Education

Phuket student protests and is flunked as “not loyal to the nation”

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Phuket student protests and is flunked as “not loyal to the nation” | Thaiger
FILE PHOTO: Student protests led to one student not graduating due to being “not loyal to the nation, institution of the monarchy”

After participating in protests for student’s rights, a Phuket student was barred from graduating 9th grade, moving from middle school to high school, charged with being “not loyal to the nation, institution of the monarchy”. The student had advocated against mandatory uniforms and for student’s liberties. He told reporters that the school started paying attention to his actions last year when he participated in rallies in solidarity with students across Thailand. The school’s student affairs office received a copy of posts he made on social media encouraging others to join the cause. The school ordered a stop to his political actions, but he and his friends disregarded warnings and violated school rules when they handed out white ribbons to classmates. They received a warning from the student affairs office.

Student protests have increased after pro-democracy demonstrations surged in July last year, empowering many Thai people to speak out against injustices, including students’ rights and liberties. People from schools across the nation have been banding together in solidarity to bring their issues to public light.

On graduation day, all the students were promoted into high school, except for the one student protestor, says the Bad Student protest group. The theme of the day focused on dedication to the monarchy, country and religion, and specifically how students should be obedient. The student said he has received support from friends, but his parents remain neutral and his teachers have been completely silent on the matter. He is frustrated that he was punished for his right to express himself. He plans on testing with incoming students to re-enrol in the same school, and if he is not accepted because of the disloyalty charge, he will pursue legal ramifications, suing the school for blocking his right to an education over the student’s protests.

The student believes he needs to speak out to prevent school administrators from imposing on more students’ rights. He advocates for diversity in schools and ending prejudices, with increased liberties and freedoms for students.

“Schools must teach children to be able to think by themselves, not force children to think like them. Schools should create opportunities for students to express their ideas more freely.”

SOURCE: Prachatai

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

16 more Covid infections reported today in Phuket

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16 more Covid infections reported today in Phuket | Thaiger
iTrip.com

Phuket is reporting 16 more infections today. It follows visits from Bangkok and last weekend’s Kolour Beachside parties that have resulted in a number of new Covid infections. The number of new infections has reached 26. But deputy governor Vikrom Jakthee says the province has been successful in containing the new outbreak “due to its quick response measures which now include shuttering bars and nightlife venues.

One of the confirmed cases is a male teacher from Headstart International School in Kathu who, after attending the parties on the weekend, was back teaching students on Monday and Tuesday. The school has sent a letter to all parents advising them of the situation and organising testing for anyone who may have come in contact with the teacher.

The closure order in Phuket comes just as the island province was expecting to get an influx of visitors for Songkran, the Thai New Year. Many bar and club owners were expecting some increased traffic during the holiday week. Phuket officials say they will explain to bar and club owners why they decided to close the venues during the critical week for business.

Vikrom previously cited the start of the island’s Covid vaccine roll-out of Covid starting to head towards a herd immunity in time for the province’s proposed July reopening to international tourists. But he admitted that the sudden appearance of the coronavirus on the island again will force officials to reevaluate the schedule for reopening. He also said that almost all cases were in younger age groups of people in their 20s and 30s.

“Today, the number of infected people reported in Phuket has reached 26, many are from entertainment venues. This figure is relatively high. It jumped from 10 to 26 cases. We will invite operators of entertainment places in for discussions.”

Partygoers who went to any of the Kolour Beachside parties in Phuket last weekend are being asked to visit a local hospital for a Covid test. The parties hosted more than 3,000 people, drawing concern after a musician tested positive for Covid-19, having attended all 3 parties. The Phuket Provincial Government and Phuket Provincial Public Health Office released a statement yesterday advising all partygoers to get tested.

“Those who attended the Kolour parties from April 2 to 3 at Shelter Phuket Dance & Night Club in Patong, Cafe Del Mar Phuket in Kamala and Illuzion nightclub on Bangla Road in Patong are asked to get tested.”

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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