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Phuket Gazette partner journalist shot in Bangkok

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

PHUKET: Chaiwat Phumpuang, a photo-journalist in the Nation/Gazette news pool, has become the latest victim of the protest violence in Bangkok.

The award-winning lensman, who has covered many political crises, was shot in the leg while recording the demonstrations in the military’s “live firing zone” last night.

A bullet smashed into a bone in Mr Chaiwat’s leg and he ended up in Phya Thai 1 hospital. He had just returned to work a few weeks ago after suffering partial paralysis.

He had to undergo an operation last night, but “Mai pen rai (never mind),” Chaiwat told friends who visited him at the hospital this morning.

“He was sitting beside me at the corner of a building when the bullet hit him. We couldn’t move at first because the gunfire was still going on,” a colleague said later.

Chaiwat is the fourth journalist casualty in the latest protest rampage. On Friday, three journalists – from Matichon, France 24, and Voice TV – were wounded in clashes between government forces and protesters.

The Nation/Gazette news pool is a joint reporting force for sharing breaking news in Phuket and Bangkok.

The Nation Multimedia Group owns 19% of the Phuket Gazette, and their respective newspapers, including the Thai-language Kom Chad Luek and business daily Krungthep Turakij, entered into an editorial sharing agreement in January 2000.

Phuket hotel construction delayed

Bangkok Post
MBK Plc, operator of the MBK shopping center in Bangkok, says it will put off new hotel projects in Phuketand Samui, worth from 2-3 billion baht, for one year.

MBK will instead focus on expansion of existing property projects and community malls to reduce risks amid Thailand’s political uncertainty.

The company says the prolonged demonstrations have so far cut visitors to its flagship shopping center, located near the center of the Bangkok protests, by 20% from the normal rate of 100,000 a day.

Once the demonstrations end, MBK says it will take about one year to re-activate its Phuket and Samui hotel projects.

South Africans still in Phuket

The Times Online
Bangkok hotel occupancies have dropped to ten percent and the hospitality industry has been forced to slash prices. Even The Peninsula hotel, twice voted the best in the world, has cut prices from R2,500 (10,700 baht, or $330) to R1,500 (6,400 baht, or $198) a night.

In Phuket, where the vast majority of Thais strongly support the ruling government and there is ‘no chance’ of any political disturbance, the hotels and resorts are doing far better.

The number of South Africans visiting Phuket appears to have remained fairly steady. Hotels popular among South African visitors say they have a significant number of visitors from that country currently visiting the island.

And they say the number is likely to increase next month due to special rates being offered to commemorate the relaunch of Thai Airways flights between Johannesburg and Bangkok, despite the fact that passengers arriving in Bangkok need to change planes there to get to Phuket.

Phuket turtle race

The Nation
Phuket’s Maikhao Beach is holding its annual Mini Marathon & Fun Run on May 23 to raise funds for the care of sea turtles at the Phuket Marine Biological Centre.

There’s a 10.5-kilometer mini-marathon (registration costs 250 baht) and a 3.5km Fun Run (200 baht).

Registration starts at 4.30am with the race kicking off at 6am from Pru Jeh San Lake.

Both fees include a T-shirt and the chance to win trophies, medals and lucky draw prizes.

For more details of this and all other Phuket events (and Thai public holidays), see the Phuket Gazette‘s online Events Calendar.

— Gazette Editors

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Archiving articles from the Phuket Gazette circa 1998 - 2017. View the Phuket Gazette online archive and Digital Gazette PDF Prints.

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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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

“Open the borders, safely”, Bill Heinecke, Minor International interview – VIDEO

The Thaiger

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“Open the borders, safely”, Bill Heinecke, Minor International interview – VIDEO | The Thaiger

Bill Heinecke speaks to Bill Barnett. The two heavy-hitters of Thailand’s hotel and hospitality sector, mull over the current Covid situation and the reopening of Thailand’s borders to some form of tourism. Bill Heinecke is the Chairman and Founder of Minor International.

Bill Barnett is the Managing Director of c9hotelworks.com

Now the Thai government has approved the special long-term tourist visa scheme (STV), hoteliers are remaining skeptical about reopening due to the lack of clarity in the recent announcement, which will reportedly take effect next month. The president of the Thai Hotels Association’s southern chapter says more hoteliers will consider reopening if the government gives further information about the plan in terms of prospective markets, arrival dates, origin countries, and flights.

Such details would allow hotels to prepare themselves ahead of time to offer services as alternative state quarantine premises as at least 60 hotels in Phuket are awaiting approval to operate such facilities.

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Bangkok

Now they’re coming… Special Tourist Visa flight set for Tuesday – Tourism and Sports Minister

Caitlin Ashworth

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Now they’re coming… Special Tourist Visa flight set for Tuesday – Tourism and Sports Minister | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Unsplash: Suhyeon Choi

After much confusion and a few apparent ‘misunderstandings’, Chinese tourists on the Special Tourist Visa will actually arrive on October 20 and 26. At least that’s what Tourism and Sports Minister Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn says, according to the Bangkok Post. The first group is said to arrive 4 days from now in Bangkok (if they actually applied for the visa this time).

Reports circulated for weeks about a flight of 120 to 150 tourists set to arrive in Phuket on October 8 from Guangzhou, China. An announcement was made shortly after the flight was due to arrive with Tourism Authority Governor Yuthasak Supasorn saying “administrative issues” had caused the delay.

It was later reported that no one from Guangzhou had actually applied for the visa and it was all just a misunderstanding after the Tourism Authority of Thailand reportedly passed off a list of those “interested” in the visa as actual applications.

This time, the Post is reporting the first group of 120 tourists from Guangzhou will arrive at Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport on Tuesday. Another group of 120 tourists, also from Guangzhou, will arrive on October 26, but the Post didn’t say where that flight will land.

It’s apparently the same group that was planned to arrive in Phuket on October 8, but the minister claims the trip was postponed due to the Vegetarian Festival which is planned to run until October 25. Both the Phuket governor and National Security Council secretary general had claimed the festival was the reason for the delayed flight and was intended to ease fears of Covid-19 for the festival-goers coming in from the rest of Thailand.

Even though the new long stay tourist visa is good for 90 days, and can be renewed twice, the tourists will only stay in the country for 30 days, with 14 of those days in quarantine. Phiphat says the Tourism Authority of Thailand will find activities to keep the tourists occupied while in quarantine.

The visitors will be the first international tourists after a 6 month ban to prevent the spread of Covid-19. Thai officials have been discussing plans for months about how to safely reopen borders to revive the country’s economy which is heavily driven by the tourism industry. Officals are now talking about cutting down the mandatory time for quarantine from 14 days to 7 days to help entice people to visit.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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