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Mumbo jumbo in Phuket hotel bookings

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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Mumbo jumbo in Phuket hotel bookings | The Thaiger
Phuket NEWS Hound

– A daily digest of news from around the world compiled by Gazette editors for Phuket’s international community

PHUKET: Phuket readers of stories from a wide array of ‘media outlets’ are by now well accustomed to conflicts, mumbo jumbo and gobbledygook when it comes to hotel occupancy, forward bookings and other tourism statistics.

There are times when the unreconciled (and seemingly irreconcilable) data might easily drive an innocent into believing that there are two or more Phukets, e.g., a Phuket, Thailand; a Phuket, Atlantis; Alice-in-Wonderland Phuket; TAT Phuket; Property Sales Phuket; and, occassionaly, a Reality Phuket (which is indeed an island).

NEWS Hound is faced with such a dilemma again today.

According to Asia Travel Trips, Phuket-based hotel booking company HotelTravel.com (HTN), has reported year-to-date 2010 hotel bookings up more than 23% over the same period in 2009 (1 Jan-19 May).

HTN’s Chief Information Officer, Olivier Dombey, says three important factors have been driving the growth. First, customers with existing reservations have been switching from Bangkok to other destinations rather than cancelling. NEWS Hound can only assume that these switches entail more room nights, more expensive room nights, longer trips or more stopovers. (Otherwise, “growth” would not occur from them.)

Second, according to Mr Dombey, low season rates were allowing bargain hunters to grab “great” hotel deals in Asia. And third, the company’s location in politically calm Phuket had given them a competitive advantage since it had enabled them to stay open while some ot their competitors in Bangkok were forced to close.

HotelTravel’s website reports a 36% increase in bookings to Phuket year-to-date 2010 compared to the same period in 2009, and an astounding increase even as the level of unrest in Bangkok intensified. For the period April 10 to May 19, the company says its bookings rose 10% over the figure for the same period in 2009.

Earth Times, however, paints a somewhat different picture, albeit for a slightly different date frame. They say that the Phuket Tourist Association is reporting forward hotel bookings for June equal to only 15 per cent of capacity, which is an exceptionally low figure for Phuket.

PATA to help Phuket

The Nation
The Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) is to help shape a recovery plan for tourism in Thailand.

PATA’s chairman, Hiran Cooray, said its Thailand chapter would assist the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) in the recovery phase.

PATA has emphasised that travel to Thailand is still safe. A major part of Bangkok remains open and accessible to tourists and business travellers, with hotels, shops and tourist sites open for business.

Popular tourist resorts such as Phuket, Koh Samui, Krabi and Pattaya were, and remain, unaffected by the protests in Bangkok which drew to a close last week, noted PATA’s chief executive officer Greg Duffell.

Visa Overstay penalty exemptions

TTRWeekly
Three offices of the Immigration Bureau’s Division 1 in Bangkok remained closed last week, but visitors who overstayed will not be liable for fines.

The Immigration Bureau informed foreigners holding temporary stay permits that expired after May 17 that they will be exempt from fines when leaving the country, but they must contact an Immigration office on the first day the offices resume services.

For more information, contact 02-141 9889.

Olive branch to red shirts

Today Online
Thailand’s Prime Minister on Friday promised an independent probe into “all events’ surrounding the red shirt protests, and called for reconciliation to heal deep political divisions that led to widespread violence and 83 deaths in two months.

In a nationally-broadcast address on television, Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva said, “We can certainly repair damaged infrastructure and buildings, but the important thing is to heal the emotional wounds and restore unity among the Thai people.”

Order has been restored in Bangkok, the prime minister noted, following the crackdown on the protesters, who went on a rampage of arson and looting after their leaders surrendered on Wednesday.

Across central Bangkok, a huge clean-up was under way after the scenes of anarchy that saw 36 major buildings go up in flames, including the stock exchange and the nation’s biggest shopping mall, which now lies in ruins.

Reports said the damage bill from the torched buildings alone could reach 40 billion baht.

Determined to get back visitors

TTRWeekly
The Thailand Convention and Exhibition Bureau (TCEB) will spend 20 million baht in a new “Thailand Extra Value” program to revive the country’s image in the hope that it can win back MICE visitors over the next six months.

The new extra value benefits are divided into categories: Maximize Value, Maximize Rewards, and Extra Night Extra Smile packages, which all include a variety of freebies and bonuses.

The new program will be introduced during IMEX 2010 (May 25-27 in Frankfurt, Germany) and TCEB road shows in London and Geneva, Switzerland.

The new incentives are expected to draw 517 million baht to the country and will run until the end of December.

— Gazette Editors

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

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Crime

Phuket police arrest meth dealer, discover drugs valued at 15 million baht

The Thaiger & The Nation

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Phuket police arrest meth dealer, discover drugs valued at 15 million baht | The Thaiger

PHOTO: Newshawk Phuket

Drugs valued at 15 million baht have been seized in a drug crackdown in Phuket. On October 22, Phuket police, along with Phuket Governor Pakkapong Tawipat, reported to the media about a drug crackdown that ended up with a total seizure valued around 15 million baht.

Earlier, the police received a report from an undercover agent that a woman named ‘Ying’ or ‘Suthicha Thirawut’ was a local drug dealer trading drugs in Phuket area, so police planned to purchase drugs from the woman. They contacted Ying through another woman named ‘Noina’, Ying’s close friend. Around 10pm on October 20, police bought 1 gram of crystal methamphetamine from Noina before arresting Ying and another man, Thanet Thongtan, at the Naka Condominium.

The two confessed that they receive the drug from a man who they weren’t able to name, in order to sell in Phuket. They were paid 40,000 – 50,000 baht per time and admitted to police that they have done this for the man three times already. This time, the drugs hadn’t been sold to customers as they were arrested before being able to make a sale.

Apart from 2.4 kilograms of crystal methamphetamine, valued around 4.8 million baht, the police also discovered 76,800 methamphetamine pills, worth around 11 million baht.

The three are now assisting Phuket police with their enquires related to the case.

SOURCE: Newshawk Phuket

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News

30 dolphins greet visitors to Similan Islands

Greeley Pulitzer

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30 dolphins greet visitors to Similan Islands | The Thaiger

Tourists were treated to the sight of a school of dolphins in the Similan Islands off the Phang Nga coast on Sunday.

Tour organisers said that around 30 dolphins swam close to the boat six or seven miles offshore, creating excitement for passengers. It was the first time dolphins had been seen in the vicinity since October 15.

The Similan Islands National Park director said they were bottlenose dolphins and were among several species now returning to the area following a five-year closure of the park for environmental rehabilitation. Food is again plentiful there for them, he said.

Tourists are forbidden to feed wildlife lest the free handouts alter the animals’ natural behaviour, and the park’s waters are also very sensitive to contamination from human disease and marine debris, according to the director.

SOURCE: nationthailand.com

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Patong

Phuket hotels slashing the price of rooms

The Thaiger

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Phuket hotels slashing the price of rooms | The Thaiger

by Sophie Deviller

Hotels on Thailand’s most popular holiday island are being forced to slash prices, with rooms left vacant and beaches sparse as Thailand’s tourism chiefs struggle with a plunge in Chinese visitors caused by the US trade war and a stronger baht. Phuket was the most visited destination in the country last year, after Bangkok, and a good gauge of the state of its crucial travel industry.

Tourism accounts for 18% of Thailand’s gross domestic product and Chinese holidaymakers make up more than a quarter of total arrivals. But while 2.2 million people from the country visited in 2018, according to official figures, the numbers for January-September were down almost 20% year on year.

Claude de Crissey, the French Honorary Consul in Phuket and owner of about 40 rooms in the Patong Beach area, says Chinese tourists are usually present even during the current low season.

“That was not the case this year,” he said, adding he had to lower his prices by as much as 50%.

The problem is not only in Phuket, with hotels also struggling to fill rooms in the seaside resort of Pattaya on the mainland and on Koh Samui.

Trade tensions with the US have already made some Chinese reluctant to take holidays owing to uncertainty back home, while the Thai baht has risen about 10% against the yuan this year.

A boating disaster off Phuket’s coast that killed 47 Chinese holidaymakers in July 2018 also scared some off.

“We are worried,” said an industry insider, declining to be named due to the sensitivity of the topic in a country where tourism provides tens of thousands of jobs. Adding to the headache is the fact that more than 3,000 new hotel rooms are being constructed on the island, raising the question of who will fill them.

Phuket hotels slashing the price of rooms | News by The Thaiger

“In terms of business, it’s not good,” said Kongsak Khoopongsakorn, vice-president of the association of hotels in Thailand and director of Vijitt Resort.

“Because … we have more hotels, more rooms to sell, we have more restaurants, more coffee shops.”

Still, tourism authority chairman Yuthasak Supasorn said he remained “optimistic.”

“We should reach our goal of 39.8 million foreign visitors.”

However, that is only up from 38.2 million in 2018, much less than the jump seen from the previous year’s total of 35.6 million.

Counting on India

Now hoteliers and tour package operators are targeting visitors from elsewhere, particularly India, which experts see as a huge untapped market.

A rapid expansion of the middle class in India, increased direct flights and visa-free travel have prompted Thailand to revise forecasts upwards.

It now expects two million Indian tourists this year, after an increase of nearly 25% on-year in the first seven months. But for now, the lower arrivals is evident on the streets of Phuket.

“I’ve never seen anything as bad as what it is at the moment,” said Paul Scott from Australia, who said he has been coming to Thailand for 15 years.

He mainly blamed the stronger baht for the drop-off but also the fact that Thailand wasn’t the untouched vacation paradise it once was. “Now it’s not so new … and it’s not cheap,” he said.

SOURCE: AFP

Phuket hotels slashing the price of rooms | News by The Thaiger

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