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Nude, Rude in Phuket; Isaan air link; Phuket leads recovery

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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Nude, Rude in Phuket; Isaan air link; Phuket leads recovery | The Thaiger
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Phuket NEWS Hound

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

Nude is rude in Phuket

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.

Phuket air link to Isaan

TTR Weekly
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 leads recovery

E-Travel Blackboard
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.

Disney World / Phuket man in court

MSNBC
A Greenville, South Carolina man who was taken into custody in Phuketearlier 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.

Thailand raises rates

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.

PAD to report on charges

Bangkok Post
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 to sue Thailand

Reuters
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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Phuket

Phuket’s annual Vegetarian Festival lowers flags, spirits return to the heavens

Caitlin Ashworth

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Phuket’s annual Vegetarian Festival lowers flags, spirits return to the heavens | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Marina Krasnopolska

WARNING! Content below contains photos of self-mutilation that some may find disturbing.

The flags on Go Teng poles were lowered on Monday, ending Phuket’s annual Vegetarian Festival and symbolising that the spirits have returned the heavens. The flags are raised at the start of the festivities each year at participating shrines, calling on the spirits to descend from the heavens.

This year, 2 men were electrocuted while taking down the festival flags. A steel pole with the flag touched a power pole, electrocuting and burning the workers as they were trying to lower the flags. They were taken to the hospital.

During the festival’s street processions and ceremonies so-called “mah songs” channel the descended spirits. They enter a trance-like state and many practice self-mutilation to channel the spirits. “Mah” means horse in Thai, and some say the mah song acts as a horse for the spirit to ride.

Some mah song pierce their cheeks and other parts of their body with steel spikes and sometimes swords or other bizarre choices (we’ve seen petrol pumps, javelins, samurai swords and kitchen utensils). During the street procession, they walk for hours with the self-inflicted piercings, seemingly posessed by ‘spirits’ and muttering all sort of strange chants, verging on mild cases of Tourette syndrome. A team of devotees for each mah song wipe away blood and keep the wounds clean. Some mah songs even slice their tongue for the street procession. Blood drips on their chest and the ground. Waiting bystanders line the streets hoping for the blessing of a passing mah song. Some mah songs carry a black flag.

The event is an annual spiritual ‘cleansing’ for those in watching the processions. Onlookers lining the street bow their heads and place their hands in the “wai” position as the mah song waves flags and banners over their heads. Businesses along the procession route often set up an altar outside their shop and mah songs stop at each one to do a short ritual.

The Phuket government gave the festival organisers the “okay” to hold this years event with hopes that it would increase domestic tourism and generate much-needed revenue after the Thai government’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic crippled Phuket’s tourist economy. Before this year’s festival, Phuket City Mayor Somjai Suwansupana asked that the mah songs “limit the level of torturing.” He also called for a limit on the number of people at ceremonies to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

His calls were largely ignored.

The spirits will again return in 2021 to Phuket again cleanse the island’s large Thai-Chinese community.

Photos of the 2020 Vegetarian Festival by Marina Krasnopolska.

Phuket's annual Vegetarian Festival lowers flags, spirits return to the heavens | News by The ThaigerPhuket's annual Vegetarian Festival lowers flags, spirits return to the heavens | News by The ThaigerPhuket's annual Vegetarian Festival lowers flags, spirits return to the heavens | News by The ThaigerPhuket's annual Vegetarian Festival lowers flags, spirits return to the heavens | News by The ThaigerPhuket's annual Vegetarian Festival lowers flags, spirits return to the heavens | News by The ThaigerPhuket's annual Vegetarian Festival lowers flags, spirits return to the heavens | News by The Thaiger

SOURCE: Phuket News

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Phuket

Phuket told to prepare “response plan” in case of second Covid-19 outbreak

Caitlin Ashworth

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Phuket told to prepare “response plan” in case of second Covid-19 outbreak | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Daily News

As Phuket awaits foreign tourists, city officials are told to prepare a “response plan” in case of a second wave of Covid-19. An official from the Ministry of Tourism and Sports held a workshop in Phuket today to discuss the risk of another outbreak as the country opens up to those on the Special Tourist Visa.

The ministry’s permanent secretary Chote Trachu says now that the country is allowing tourists (who are required to quarantine upon arrival) an infection “may somehow slip through.” He says a response plan needs to be in place in case this happens, adding that there should be corporation from the Ministry of Public Health and Ministry of Defense.

“If any tourists are found to be infected, the disease must not be allowed to spread among the people. There should be no panic, and public health officers will investigate the case. Tourist Police will track down the suspected person in an investigation with the Ministry of Public Health.”

Chote says all provinces – not just Phuket – should have a response plan. Although tourists must go through a mandatory 14 day quarantine upon arrival, Chote says there are some cases where the incubation period for Covid-19 is longer than 14 days.

“There are a variety of cases. Sometimes, the infection does not show after 14 days, or even 15 or 16 days. Each situation is different.”

Recently, a woman in Koh Samui tested positive for the coronavirus 5 days after she was released from a Samut Prakan quarantine facility. Traces of the virus were found on gym equipment the woman used at the quarantine, leading health officials to suspect she was infected before arriving to the island.

“We urge Thai people to not let their guard down. Everyone must wear masks, wash their hands and take care of personal hygiene. This will help prevent them from contracting the disease.”

SOURCE: Phuket News

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Business

Approval sought for multi-billion-baht Phuket medical hub

Maya Taylor

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Approval sought for multi-billion-baht Phuket medical hub | The Thaiger
Mai Khao beach in north Phuket - PHOTO: www.makemytrip.com

Industry officials are seeking the go-ahead for a project to transform over 140 rai of government land in Phuket into a world-leading medical hub. The project is budgeted at 3 – 4 billion baht, depending on which report you read. Kitkong Tantijaraswarodom, from the Federation of Thai Industries, believes the development of a medical and wellness hub in the sub-district of Mai Khao, north Phuket, will help revive the southern island’s battered economy. Phuket has become increasingly reliant on a steady flow of tourists over the past 2 decades.

The southern division of the FTI covers Phuket, Krabi, Phang Nga, Nakhon Si Thammarat, Trang, Patthalung, Surat Thani, Ranong, Satun, Chumphon, and Songkhla.

“The FTI will ask the government to green-light the project during the scheduled mobile cabinet meeting on the island on November 3.”

Kitkong says businesspeople in the south are anxious for the government to approve the project, which will provide both locals and foreign medical tourists with state-of-the-art medical care. The facility is expected to include long-term care, hospice and rehabilitation services, in addition to a dental hospital, sports therapy centre, and a medical training school for doctors, nurses, pharmacists and medical laboratory scientists.

The chair of the FTI’s southern chapter is also calling on officials to provide small and medium-sized businesses with additional support, in the form of access to loans, in order to deal with cash shortages.

“In the short term, the FTI wants the government to help SMEs, especially those in the tourism sector.”

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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