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Phuket Airport tipped to reach breaking point

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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Phuket Airport tipped to reach breaking point | The Thaiger
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PHUKET: With tourism numbers surging, Phuket International Airport is expecting a record four million passenger arrivals for the year 2011.

As arrivals to Asia’s leading resort destination in the first half of the year increased 20% over the same period in 2010 and an unprecedented number of new hotel rooms opened, sagging infrastructure is creating a widespread danger to the island’s tourism industry.

In the changing dynamic of guest demographics the Patong area, which accounts for 35% of the 43,571 accommodation rooms on the island, has edged into the mainstream. Patong-wide occupancy hit 82% in the first half of the year, with China and Russia now taking a quarter share of the market.

Numbers are straining the handling capacity of the airport, with Airports of Thailand (AoT) expecting a throughput of 7.95 million passengers (arrivals and departures combined) this year, which will exceed the stated capacity (6.5 million) by 22%.

A US$ 164 million expansion plan that will increase handling to 12.5 million by 2014 will only see the start construction next year, and tourism operators are increasingly concerned over mounting delays by travelers.

First-half hotel trading by volume markets saw a surge in Phuket’s average occupancy across all hotel tiers, to 73%. Key market Revenue per Available Room (RevPAR) moved up to its highest level since the global financial crisis in 2008.

The island’s top 5 tourism source markets to date are China, Russia, Australia, South Korea and Sweden.

Somehow, Phuket has gone into a retro stage where tour groups, wholesalers and the mass movement of visitors are once again the norm rather than the exception.

A leading indicator in the cyclical development was shown in 2010 when charter flights hit their highest-ever level, equating to a 153% increase in year-on-year growth.

Commenting on a steady rise in airlift, Laguna Resorts and Hotels Plc Managing Director Michael Ayling said, “The increase in the number of direct flights into Phuket is resulting in better accessibility and affordability of travel to the destination.

As long as the infrastructure keeps pace with the increased numbers of tourists, expansion of hotels and faculties that are well planned and implemented, the hotels will be able to properly manage their room rates in line with supply and demand.”

Investment in Phuket’s hospitality sector brings strong, positive business sentiment with a supply pipeline for the island of 6,968 rooms. This will see an increase of 16% by the end of 2014.

As the northern part of the island is preparing for work to start on the new International Convention and Exhibition Center, Minor International’s Bill Heinecke says, “We have reviewed opportunities to expand our very successful Anantara Vacation Club and Mai Khao is the destination of choice for a new 100-key resort that is set to open in late 2012.”

Looking toward the future, increasingly, the number of existing hotels will face the necessity to upgrade, rebrand, or downgrade market position while transaction activity is expected to remain active.

In this business, either you move forward or go backwards; there is no standing still.

Unfortunately, progress now faces increasing waiting time and delays at the island’s international gateway, and progress by the tourism industry could be derailed without a greater sense of urgency by AoT and Immigration officials.

Bill Barnett is Managing Director of C9 Hotelworks and can be contacted through c9hotelworks.com

— Bill Barnett

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Thailand

Thai Airways to resume flights from Bangkok to Chiang Mai and Phuket

Caitlin Ashworth

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Thai Airways to resume flights from Bangkok to Chiang Mai and Phuket | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Thai Airways

After nearly 9 months on the ground due to the coronavirus pandemic, along with problems balancing their accounts, Thai Airways will resume flights between Bangkok and Chiang Mai as well as Bangkok and Phuket later this month. The flights will start back up on Christmas day.

Flights from Bangkok to the 2 key tourist provinces have been grounded since April 1. Starting December 25, the airline will run 3 flights a week on both routes. A source told the Bangkok Post that the new schedules will run until at least February 28.

Thai Lion Air, Thai Air Asia, Nok Air, Thai Smile, VietJet Air and Bangkok Airways have returned to the domestic skies since July and slowly adding frequency to their routes.

In addition to resuming the domestic flights, the Thai Airways is relaunching some international flights from January 1 to March 27 including weekly flights to Frankfurt, London, Copenhagen, Sydney, Seoul, Manila, Taipei and Osaka. Flights from Bangkok to Tokyo will be available 3 times a week and flights from Bangkok to Hong Kong will be available every day.

Thai Airways has been tackling bankruptcy throughout the lockdown and trying to make up for more than 300 billion baht in losses. Since many flights were suspended due to travel restrictions, Thai Airways has tried to make money by business ventures on the ground, like a pop-up restaurant serving in-flight meals and selling off unwanted equipment from their warehouse. There also disposing of much of their older fleet, including all of their Boring 747-400s.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

97 police officers investigated for fiddling Covid-19 payments

Maya Taylor

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97 police officers investigated for fiddling Covid-19 payments | The Thaiger
PHOTO: www.newsbeezer.com

97 police officers, from 41 police stations, are currently being investigated for an alleged scam involving Covid-19 payments meant for officers who worked extra shifts during the crisis. The case was assigned by national police chief Suwat Jangyodsuk in November, when it came to light that some officers may have fraudulently claimed allowances meant for others.

In one incident, an officer responsible for transferring extra payments to police on the southern island of Phuket transferred the money to his own accountant instead. At the time, the transfer was dismissed as a mistake (in his favour), with the officer in question receiving a warning, and payments then made to the qualifying officers.

Wissanu Prasatthong-Osot from the National Internal Affairs Police says the investigation should reach a conclusion within the next 10 days.

“The result of the investigation should be ready in 10 days. Currently, 97 officers in 41 police stations ranging from non-commissioned to generals are under investigation for being involved in the swindle. The bureau aims to provide justice to all policemen involved. After the investigation concludes, the victims will receive their full allowance, while the offending officers will be punished under the law and disciplinary standards.”

Nation Thailand reports that a full list of alleged offenders has been sent to Suwat, with Wissanu promising that none will escape prosecution.

“The National Police chief had also ordered the transfer of offending officers at the commander and sub-commander levels out of their areas as per the investigation procedures.”

SOURCE: Nation Thailand

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Tourism

Thai-Chinese Chamber of Commerce to propose Guangzhou-Phuket tourism route

Caitlin Ashworth

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Thai-Chinese Chamber of Commerce to propose Guangzhou-Phuket tourism route | The Thaiger
PHOTO: 77 kaoded

A tourism route from Guangzhou, China to Phuket could help the island province recover from the recession brought on by the pandemic and lack of foreign travel, according to the Thai-Chinese Chamber of Commerce. The president of the organisation, Narongsak Puttapornmongkol, says they plan to submit a letter proposing the route under a travel bubble scheme to the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration.

The Thai-Chinese Chamber of Commerce is proposing a travel bubble with around 20 cities in China with no recent coronavirus infections and considered to be at a low risk of spreading the virus. Travellers from Guangzhou recently entered Thailand on the new Special Tourist Visa. It was the second flight of international tourists since travel restrictions were imposed in late-March.

“We believe that the Travel Bubble and the quarantine reduction will resolve the tourism business, which is a huge economic opportunity to recover.”

Once a vaccine is widely available, Narongsak suggests that those who wish to Thailand could also present their vaccination certificate or examination reports from the place of origin. He adds that the mandatory state quarantine period is likely to be reduced.

SOURCE: Pattaya News

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