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New flights for Phuket

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

PHUKET: Opodo Travel News announced yesterday that Air Berlin will add an extra weekly flight into Phuket toward the end of this year. A new Airbus A330-200 aircraft will be stationed at Berlin-Tegel airport to fly the sector.

The airline currently has a flight leaving Berlin every Monday afternoon, arriving into Phuket Tuesday mornings.

Joachim Hunold, Air Berlin’s chief executive officer, says the additional long-haul service to Phuket “reflects [our] desire to make the most of this market opportunity and will strengthen the airline’s position in Berlin for years to come.”

And the Bangkok Post reports that Mohan Air has organised new charter flights between Teheran and Phuket for Iran’s New Year festival in March, with three flights carrying 1,300 visitors to the resort island as Phuket’s high season wanes into low.

The airline is also said to be planning more direct flights to Phuket “later”, while Iran is scheduling an increase in the number of its weekly flights to Bangkok to three from the current two.

Phuket won’t see Travel Mart

TTR Weekly
The Tourism Authority of Thailand’s (TAT’s) contingency plan for Thailand Travel Mart, if the red-shirt protests in Bangkok were not to cease, now calls for postponement rather than a change of venue.

When asked what they would do if the red-shirt protests continue well into May and travel advisories continue to curtail travel to Thailand, TAT officials now say they would not consider switching the event to Phuket.

The event is scheduled for 2-4 June at IMPACT Muang Thong Thani in Nonthaburi, just 30 km north of Bangkok.

The latest report indicates a 12% decline in seller participation this year.

Phuket airport lonely

TTR  Weekly
Phuket and Chiang Mai airports have both reported declines in traffic during April, blamed mainly on the red shirt protests and a subsequent increase in travel advisories.

Phuket Airport Manager Prathuang Sornkhom reported a strong early to mid-April pattern in airport traffic, but by the end of the month the destination was feeling the impact of negative travel advisories.

“Traffic over the next few months will not be so good. Chinese carriers have already suspended their operations to Phuket due to the travel advisories,” he said.

However, some Chinese charters continued to operate to Samui last week, skipping Bangkok and Pattaya, which apparently contradicted reports of a total ban on travel from China.

Thai tourism to rebound

Bangkok Post
Tourism operators expect an influx of foreign visitors into Thailand in the second half of the year as political protests end while the world economy rebounds.

A-One Hotel is among 90 Thai operators who have joined the Arabian Travel Mart in Dubai this week. They say no customers have asked about the political situation in Thailand.

Meanwhile, Chumpol Silpa-archa, Thailand’s Tourism and Sports Minister, says the ministry is maintaining its target of 15.5 million foreign visitors this year.

The government has extended measures to help the industry until March 2011, including the exemption of visa fees, an offer of insurance and 1.6 billion baht in stimulus funds.

Yellow shirts angry at PM

New Straits Times
Thailand’s pro-establishment “Yellow Shirts” yesterday called on Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva to stand down, criticising his reconciliation roadmap which envisages fresh elections in November.

The Yellows, who had previously backed Abhisit’s embattled administration, accused the premier of bowing to the demands of the rival Red Shirts who have mounted weeks of crippling street protests to push for snap polls.

They also accused Abhisit of conducting secret negotiations with representatives of the Reds’ hero – fugitive former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra who was ousted in a 2006 coup.

“We demand that the prime minister reconsider and cancel the election date, and for the prime minister to step down and make way for another person,” said Yellow spokesman Suriyasai Katasila.

Big on Coal

Bloomberg
Thailand’s biggest coal producer, Banpu Pcl, has bought a 14.9 percent stake in Australia’s Centennial Coal Ltd, gaining exposure to mines in the world’s biggest exporter of the fuel.

The investment makes Banpu the biggest shareholder in a producer with 10 mines in Australia and power station customers in Japan and Europe.

Banpu is seeking to acquire coal mines in Australia and South Africa to increase coal reserves, which totaled 606 million tons at Dec. 31, 2009.

It plans to spend $466 million in the next six years to expand its mines in Indonesia and China, and to build a power plant in Laos.

Central Bank Bullish

Bangkok Post
The Thai economy is recovering on the back of an expansion in the export sector and improvement in investment, consumption and employment, Tarisa Wattanagase, Governor of the Bank of Thailand (BoT), said yesterday at the “10th Money Expo” in Bangkok.

The event, with over 200 financial institutions taking part, will continue until Sunday.
Mrs Tarisa said the country’s economic foundations are still strong, even with the negative impact of political uncertainty.

She also believed the ongoing financial crisis in Greece would have a minimal impact on the Thai economy.

The BoT governor hoped the Money Expo, which attracted 130 billion baht’s worth of transactions last year, would help boost the economy.

— Gazette Editors

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Phuket

Man’s body discovered hanged in a Phuket Town apartment

The Thaiger

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A man has been found hanged in Phuket Town apartment yesterday. Police are treating the cases as a suicide at the moment.

The man was found hanged from the apartment’s ceiling fan. His lifeless body was discovered around 11am after neighbours complained to the manager about the smell coming from the man’s room.

Police and the local Kusoldharm Foundation rescue workers attended the scene. Police later confirmed the incident happened in room on the 3rd floor of an apartment lock in Soi Phoonphol Soi 1, Talat Nuea in Phuket Town. Police said the man was 35-45 years of age and had a 29 year old girlfriend from Chumphon. He was paying 1,000 baht a month and had been renting the room for 2 months. Police estimate that the man had been dead for at least 3 days.

Police told media that the man had used, what appeared to be a dress, tied around his neck and then to the room’s roof fan. The apartment manager told police that he had been late on on his recent rent, speculating that the man may have been suffering financial hardship.

The man’s identity has not been released at this stage.

His body was taken to Vachira Hospital for an autopsy.

If you or anyone you know is in emotional distress, please contact the Samaritans of Thailand 24-hour hotline: 02 713 6791 (English), 02 713 6793 (Thai) or the Thai Mental Health Hotline at 1323 (Thai).

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Tourism

Bangkok Airways add 3 new local routes to their schedule

The Thaiger

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Bangkok Airways add 3 new local routes to their schedule | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Bangkok Airways' ATR72, servicing the re-introduced routes

Some domestic routes are being added as local routes continue to expand. This time Bangkok Airways has announced it’s resuming its Samui-Phuket, Phuket-Hat Yai and Phuket-Pattaya/Rayong (U-Tapao) flights.

The first additions to the schedule will be the Phuket-Samui flights resuming this Sunday, October 25, and the Phuket-Pattaya flights start again next Tuesday, October 27. The Phuket-Samui flights will be operating on Sundays and Wednesdays only on the airlines’ ATR72 turbo prop regional planes, same as before.

A casual search on the Bangkok Airways website, for a return flight from Phuket to Samui on November 1, then back to Phuket on November 8 indicates the cheapest fare (promo) is 2,430 baht. Coming back, the cheapest fare we found, again labelled ‘promo’, was 2,630 baht. Bangkok Airways operate as a “full service” airline and don’t compete with the country’s discount airlines. But they operate these three routes exclusively – like it or leave it.

Bangkok Airways say that the flights will be operated “with the highest preventive measures and standards”. Around the country the Civil Aviation Authority of Thailand have eased a few of the onboard restrictions, including the start of catering services which were originally banned under the initial flight rules when domestic routes started flying again at the start of July.

The daily direct services between Phuket and Hat Yai are also being operated on the ATR72 aircraft. The flight to Ha Yai leaves Phuket at 8.40am and arrives at Hat Yai at 9:.45am. The return flights leave Hat Yai back to Phuket at 10.25am each day. The route was very popular for the airline before the ‘disruption’ when airlines had their fleets grounded in April.

The service between Phuket and U-Tapao, linking the party city with the party island, will operate on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays, again with the ATR72. Phuket to U-Tapao will leave at 12.10pm and then from U-Tapao to Phuket at 4pm on the three days. U-Tapao is about a 50 minute drive from Pattaya and the airport also serves the greater Rayong area.

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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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