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Officials admit fear of reprisals killing Phuket bus plans

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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Officials admit fear of reprisals killing Phuket bus plans | The Thaiger
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PHUKET: Top Phuket officials have openly admitted that fear of reprisals by taxi and tuk-tuk drivers is preventing people from launching affordable bus services between Phuket’s main tourist beaches.

Phuket Vice Governor Weerawat Janpen yesterday chaired a meeting at the Phuket Land Transport Office (PLTO) to discuss strategies to resolve the decades old problem of tourists being cheated by “transportation operators” in Phuket.

Wanta Phummararossukon, who holds the position of “Special Scholar” at the PLTO, explained that his office is currently open to receive applications to run concessions on three bus routes as follows:

  • 1. Phuket Airport to Phuket Bus Terminal (on Phang Nga Rd in Phuket Town)
  • 2. Phuket Airport to Kamala / Patong / Kata / Karon
  • 3. Phuket Airport to destinations within Patong

Two other routes are currently under consideration:

  • 4. Phuket Airport to Patong – Kata – Karon
  • 5. Phuket Airport to Rawai Beach

“Route 1 is already in service, but routes 2 and 3 cannot be because whenever someone tries, the taxi and tuk-tuk [people] ‘do something against us’.

“No concession companies dare face them,” Mr Wanta said.

“Another issue is illegal taxis. We are planning resolve the black-plate taxi problem by having them brought into the system and registered, perhaps enticed by being included in a single-number call center for all taxis.

“We will have each authority be strict in their duty and arrest those not abiding by the law,” Mr Wanta added.

Patong Deputy Mayor Chairat Sukkaban said he had heard that some companies were interested and ready to run bus services on routes 2 and 3, but they were afraid of “the influence”.

To counter the fear, he called on unity among relevant authorities to make sure operators were protected.

“The Land Transport Office, Phuket police and local administration organizations must act together. They must be strict in asserting their authority; they must enforce the law as they are empowered and obligated to do; and they must make sure there is nothing hidden in the law enforcement,” Mr Chairat said.

“To have the routes in service, it is our responsibility to ensure the concession companies do not have to face ‘the influence’ all alone,” he added.

Phuket Land Transport Office (PLTO) chief Teerayout Prasertphol agreed in part, but asked the big question: who was going to stand up to those who currently rule Phuket’s public transportation system.

“The most important thing is who is going to take care of this problem? I suggest local authorities as an option,” Mr Teerayout said.

To this, Phuket Tourist Association Vice President Sarayuth Mallam said, “The Land Transportation Office does not need to ‘transfer’ this responsibility to anyone else – this is your responsibility.

“Taxi and tuk-tuk drivers fear no one, except for you – because you issue the license plates that allow their cars on the road. Sorting this problem out is your responsibility.”

Mr Sarayuth added that one of the major obstacles was that some persons in positions of authority had relations – literally – with the people involved.

“Some of them are their relatives or friends,” he said.

“Another problem is that metered taxis can’t even drive around the island because of taxi and tuk-tuk drivers. I would like to ask the authorities to have public transportation able to drive anywhere on the island,” he said.

“By the way, it does not matter what great plans we have when the authorities do not fulfill their duties. Illegal taxis must be brought into the system. You can probably give them a period of time – like 30 days – to register. After that, get strict on them,” he said.

Vice Governor Weerawat added, “This is all about law enforcement. All of this can be done by the authorities…

“What about we work on these problems and have the next meeting in another two weeks to see what progress has been made?”

— Chutharat Plerin

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Re-opening Thailand to tourism will be vaccine dependent

Bill Barnett

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Re-opening Thailand to tourism will be vaccine dependent | The Thaiger

Bill Barnett from c9hotelworks.com continues to follow the difficult journey of the Thai hospitality industry. Traditionally, now would be the start of the country’s highly profitable high season for the tourism industry. But not this year. Thai hotels find themselves in the middle of an existential crisis – either still closed, only partly open, or one of the few converted to limited ASQ traffic. The situation is dire, when you consider that between 15-20% of Thailand’s GDP is linked to tourism.

In a speech this week Thailand’s Prime Minster Prayut Chan-o-cha spoke clearly that only when a vaccine is approved, produced, and implemented, would the country open to substantial tourism. Given the current timelines and forecasts, this may not be likely until mid-2021 at the earliest, though subject to advancement if the process could be accelerated, which is unlikely.

For tourism and hotel stakeholders, the writing is on the wall that 2021, for the most part, will see a continued reliance on domestic travellers, and only in 2022 will there be a large-scale return in numbers of overseas visitors.

Given the winter spike in Asia, Europe, and North America of Covid-19, Thailand is not alone in relying on the vaccine to return tourism but the process will not be instant and the re-openings of borders will most certainly be staged.

HERE’s a list of 113 Alternative State Quarantine hotels.

The business reality for Phuket and across Thailand is to plan for the worst in the coming six months and only expect 2022 to see a notable uptick.

Currently, the hotel sector continues to advocate to the Thai government and Central Bank for debt and financing relief measures and assistance in a social security supplement to retain staff.

While it’s negative news, it at least allows for hotels to understand the challenges ahead, plan and adjust their operating models going forward. ‘Survive the downturn’ is the new mantra.

No vaccine, no entry. Read more HERE.

No vaccine, no flight. Read more HERE.

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Phuket

Phuket workshop helps residents cope with high stress brought on by the economic crisis

Caitlin Ashworth

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Phuket workshop helps residents cope with high stress brought on by the economic crisis | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Facebook: ประชาสัมพันธ์ เทศบาลตำบลวิชิต

Hundreds of residents in Phuket’s Wichit subdistrict attended a workshop focused on reducing stress from to the pandemic-induced economic crisis. A psychologist was even on site to help those who had extreme mental stress and a Buddhist monk taught meditation techniques to reduce physiological effects of stress.

The event was planned in response to an online survey conducted by the municipality asking residents about how much stress they were experiencing from the economic climate. They found that some residents had serious stress issues brought on by the pandemic and financial problems, according to Wichit Mayor Kreetha Chotiwichphiphat.

“The loss of income due to the economic crisis brought on by the Covid-19 situation has resulted in some people in the area suffering serious stress, which can lead to serious mental health issues.”

Around 350 people attended the event. The mayor says it was the first step in caring for the residents’ mental health. Local officials plan to hold similar workshops in the future.

“It was a good opportunity for people to realise the importance of mental health and to learn techniques of how to deal with stress, which will help people to maintain their physical health and avoid developing mental health problems.”

SOURCE: Phuket News

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Phuket

Phuket’s Soi Dog Foundation opens Humane Education Centre at Mai Khao shelter

The Thaiger

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Phuket’s Soi Dog Foundation opens Humane Education Centre at Mai Khao shelter | The Thaiger

The Soi Dog Foundation has officially opened its Humane Education Centre, the first of its kind in Thailand dedicated to the welfare of stray animals. The centre, located at the Soi Dog shelter in northern Phuket, forms part of the foundation’s Humane Education program. Rolled out in 2017, the program sees a team visit Thai schools to teach the next generation the basic principles of animal welfare and promote empathetic attitudes towards both owned pets and free-roaming strays.

The program has reached a total of 15,058 students and 861 teachers to date. With a dedicated classroom as well as educational tools and resources now on site at the shelter, Soi Dog will be able to expand the programme and reach an even greater number of young minds.

Co-founder and president of Soi Dog Foundation International John Dalley said, “The cornerstones of what we do – what I believe very firmly are the answers to the stray dog problem throughout Asia – are large-scale sterilisation of stray dogs and cats and education of, particularly, the next generation.

“We see all the time the problems that are being caused through us not respecting the environment and not respecting the other animals with whom we share this planet. That’s why education is so important.”

John also thanked the supporters and donors who made the construction of the centre possible. After cutting the ribbon, the students filed into the brand-new facility for the very first on-site class – a fun and interactive hour of roleplaying, brainstorming and problem solving.

Humane Education Manager Nuttawut “Film” Kumngern. said… “We want to encourage kindness toward animals, especially free-roaming dogs and cats, and teach youngsters to be responsible pet owners. This will sustainably reduce animal cruelty and pet abandonment.”

“We hope to one day see animal welfare incorporated into the curriculum in Thai schools, and our education centre is a great start.”

Soi Dog is ready to welcome school groups from Phuket and other provinces to the centre which can accommodate up to 40 students at any one time. Schools interested in participating are encouraged to email film@soidog.org

Phuket's Soi Dog Foundation opens Humane Education Centre at Mai Khao shelter | News by The ThaigerPhuket's Soi Dog Foundation opens Humane Education Centre at Mai Khao shelter | News by The Thaiger

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