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Navy boys are good to Phuket

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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Navy boys are good to Phuket | The Thaiger
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PHUKET: Three US Navy warships – USS Hopper, USS Ingraham and USS Port Royal – are currently in Phuket, marking the first time that the three have anchored in the same port to give the 900-plus enlisted personnel and officers some well-earned R&R.

While the ships are in port, many of the seamen can be seen around the island, letting loose at some of the tourist attractions. One group of officers, however, donated their time and skills to their host community by taking part in community relations projects, or in Navy-speak, “comrels”.

On April 4, a group of nine officers clad in navy-blue overalls and led by their on-board Southern Baptist Chaplain, Mark Haley, rolled in to Baan Kamala School to begin sanding down and varnishing classroom desks that curious students were bringing down from their classrooms.

“We’ve done about 16 comrels so far,” said Chaplain Haley, adding, “We really just want to bring goodwill as ambassadors of our country.”

The group of volunteers ranged in age and rank, each a specialist in a particular field, including a helicopter pilot who had rooted out a pair of old flying greens for the day of dusty desk work.

They made quick work of sanding down the desks with their power tools while school kids added desks to the “assembly line.”

Yesterday, Chaplain Haley and volunteer crew members pitched in at the Life Home Project, a shelter for orphans, HIV-positive mothers and their children.

This time the volunteers brought a bit more order to the grounds by clearing weeds, trimming hedges and planting fruit trees. They later joined the mothers and their children for snacks.

It’s really good to see these opportunities, and we’re grateful to the Rotary club for their help in co-ordinating this, said Chaplain Haley.

“We are actually on our way home after a long time at sea, but it’s both exciting and important for us to build community relations in the ports we stop at. It’s important for people around the world to know that as individuals, we have the best of intentions and are here to help,” Chaplain Haley added.

“Having experienced the trauma and grief that comes with working in conflict zones, it’s also good to be able to take on this kind of supportive role in the community. It’s very rewarding to know we can make a difference in a positive way,” he said.

The three warships anchored off Makham Bay made for a dramatic backdrop to the tropical vista and Chaplain Haley expressed his confidence in the high-tech defense capabilities the ships can provide for their host country.

At just over 10 years old, the USS Hopper (DDG-70), based at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, is the youngest of the battleship trio and weighs in at nearly 9,000 tons fully laden. With a length of 154 meters, the ship can carry her compliment of 338 over 4,000 nautical miles at a cruising speed of 20 knots. She can also carry a single SH-60 Sea Hawk helicopter. The Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer sails with the motto Aude et effice (Dare and Do).

The USS Ingraham (FFG-61) is the fourth US Navy vessel named in honor of Capt Duncan Ingraham (1802–1891), whose career in the US Navy began as a midshipman when he was just 10 years old. The Oliver Hazard Perry-class frigate is based at NS Everett, Washington and was launched in 1988.

Sailing by the motto “Heritage of gallantry”, she carries a crew of 236, including pilots for the two Sea Hawk helicopters on board.

The USS Port Royal is also based at Pearl Harbor and is the largest of the three ships, displacing 9,600 tons when fully laden with a crew of 360 and two Sikorsky SH-60 Seahawk LAMPS III helicopters. At 173 meters long, The Port Royal cuts through the water at 30 knots, sailing with the motto “The will to win”.

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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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