– A daily digest of news about Thailand from around the world, compiled by Gazette editors for Phuket’s international community.
Phuket is to host a fashion runway show to benefit the ‘Phuket Has Been Good To Us’ foundation, a children’s education charity.
The event will debut ‘Nude is Rude’, the new label from Hong Kong-based designer Marisa Zeman.
Local and international fashionistas will join media on Sunday afternoon, September 12, to support the cause and be the first to see this season’s hottest collection.
The event takes place at Silk Restaurant & Bar at Phuket’s Andara resort, where guests will dine on a tapas lunch and sip cocktails.
There will be a raffle for special prizes such as 2-night stay at Andara, a trip to Chiang Mai, spa treatments, tickets to Silk’s Italian Wine Dinner in October, and private Pilates training.
Full ticket, auction and raffle proceeds will benefit the ‘Phuket Has Been Good To Us’ foundation which works to improve the economic opportunities and life chances of young people by funding and implementing high quality, practical English-language education in government schools.
Thai AirAsia has announced the launch of three weekly Phuket-Ubon Ratchathani services, starting 12 October.
The airline has a service to the northeastern town from Bangkok, but this is the first link from Phuket to southern Isaan. It will offer the services on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays.
It hopes to tap expats working in Ubon and local residents who want to take a break in Phuket.
“Ubon Ratchathani has great potential as a tourist destination, in addition to being a strategic gateway to Laos”, said Thai AirAsia CEO Tassapon Bijleveld. “It also strengthens Phuket’s capacity as a travel hub for the southern region.”
Currently, direct flights from Phuket are available to Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Udon Thani, Hong Kong, Singapore, Jakarta, and Kuala Lumpur.
Phuket is leading Thailand’s dramatic tourism recovery in 2010, though the longer term impact of a shift in its tourist profile is yet to be seen.
Passenger traffic through Phuket International Airport increased 28% in the first half of 2010 compared to the same period in 2009, according to a report from C9 Hotelworks. And driving the tourism surge to the pre-economic crisis levels of 2007 was a shift in tourist profile.
“Market dynamics are evolving with a game-changing shift in tourist profile from a historical Eurocentric dependence on long haul European visitors to short haul Asian travellers,” C9’s managing director Bill Barnett said.
The favorable exchange rate for proximal tourists has translated to a jump in airline passenger traffic of 1.74 million in the first half of 2010 compared to last year. Year-on-year data over the past five years reveal that passenger volumes into Phuket have hit the boom levels of 2007.
The tourism boom has the hospitality industry bullish after recent local and international incidents had stymied growth. Hotel occupancies rose from 61 percent in the first half of 2009 to 70 percent in the same period of this year, Mr Barnett said.
However, this came at a cost to average room rates in Phuket, which were down nine percent.
A Greenville, South Carolina man who was taken into custody in Phuket earlier this year after violating a custody order more than a year before was in federal court in the United States on Tuesday.
On June 9, Samuel Lee Horton, 38, was escorted back to the United States by FBI special agents.
Investigators said Mr Horton was charged by the Greenville County Sheriff’s Office with violating a custody order involving his 3-year-old daughter on May 5, 2009.
Horton is divorced, and his ex-wife has custody of their daughter and son. He had visitation rights with the children.
Investigators said that after they learned Mr Horton had taken his daughter out of the country, a federal warrant for his arrest for unlawful flight to avoid prosecution was issued.
Further investigation led to a federal grand jury indictment on a charge of fraud in connection with a passport he secured for the child.
Janis Richardson Hall, the attorney representing the child’s mother, Cindy Horton, said Mr Horton had claimed he was taking his daughter to Disney World, but he took her to Phuket instead.
Bloomberg Business Week
Thailand’s central bank raised its benchmark interest rate and signaled further increases after the economy overcame political unrest to grow faster than estimated last quarter. The baht strengthened and stocks fell.
“Interest rates are on an uptrend,” Bank of Thailand Assistant Governor Paiboon Kittisrikangwan told reporters in Bangkok today. “Our interest rates remain very low compared to the economic growth even after the increase.”
Southeast Asia’s largest economy after Indonesia grew 9.1 percent in the second quarter as exports countered the impact of political clashes that killed at least 89 people.
Paiboon said the central bank is “not concerned” that higher rates will attract capital inflows and pressure the baht to rise, even as the government this week urged the bank to ensure that its monetary policy doesn’t spur currency gains.
Leaders and supporters of the People’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD) will report to the Crime Suppression Division in Bangkok today to hear charges in connection with the blockade of Thailand’s Suvarnabhumi and Don Mueang airports in late 2008, PAD lawyer Nitithorn Lamlua said.
Mr Nitithorn on Wednesday went to the CSD headquarters to make the preparations.
Most of the suspects would show up, except those who had already surrendered, to hear the charges, he said.
Mr Nitithorn said he and Suwat Apaipak would act as defense lawyers. Some of the suspects might appoint their own lawyers.
Indonesia plans to seek at least $2.2 billion in compensation from Thailand’s state-controlled PTT Exploration and Production Plc (PTTEP) for damage caused by a 2009 oil spill in the Timor Sea, a government source said on Wednesday
But PTTEP chief executive Anon Sirisaengtaksin said the claim was not backed by evidence of economic damage from the oil that spilled into Indonesian and Australian waters after a rig operated by PTTEP Australasia caught fire in August 2009.
The size of compensation, if any, from one of the worst oil spills in Australi
— Gazette Editors
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