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Phuket Governor lobbies AoT for lower airport taxi fees

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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Phuket Governor lobbies AoT for lower airport taxi fees | The Thaiger
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PHUKET: In a bid to lower taxi fares on the island Phuket Governor Wichai Phraisa-ngop is lobbying to reduce fees for taxis operating out of Phuket International Airport (PIA).

Land Transport Department director Kanok Siripanichkorn told the Gazette today that Gov Wichai sent a letter to Airports of Thailand (AoT) management in Bangkok requesting a meeting by the end of the month with those responsible for setting concession charges.

Gov Wichai is seeking an explanation as to why the rates are so high and wants to discuss the possibility of a reduction.

Two concessionaires currently operate booths inside the PIA terminal.

Phuket Airport Limousine and Business Cooperative Ltd (PBC) has 150 vehicles and pays 1.3 million baht monthly to AoT, while rival operator Phuket Mai Khao Sakoo has 110 vehicles and pays 900,000 baht monthly.

There are also 62 metered taxis currently operating out of the airport parking lot. All passengers hiring metered taxis there are required to pay an extra 100 baht fare, pushing the price of a typical journey to Patong to 420 baht.

The Meter Taxi Association paid 70,000 baht in monthly concessions to AoT when it started and its fee is still under 100,000 baht, according to an informed source.

Among the many associations seeking a reduction in the concessions is the Phuket Chamber of Commerce (PCC), which wants taxi concession fees at PIA cut in half.

PCC President Dr Sirichai Silapa-archa late last month described the current fees as ‘excessive’ and charged Airports of Thailand (AoT) with driving up fares across Phuket.

Speaking at a provincial economic committee meeting at Phuket Provincial Hall, Dr Sirichai also said the introduction of meters on all hired vehicles in Phuket was essential to boost the local tourism industry.

In Phuket there are no standard fares, so taxi and tuk-tuk rides are expensive. This makes getting around inconvenient and makes tourists and other passengers feel they are being unfairly treated,” he said.

Dr Sirichai said a committee should be established to determine and implement an appropriate fare structure.

The panel should should include Land Transport Department officials as well as operators and users, including resorts and other tourism businesses, he said.

Also at the meeting was Phuket Provincial Administration Organization president Paiboon Upatising, who said he agreed with Dr Sirichai on meters and the need for AoT to slash its rates.

These should be top priorities,” he said.

PBC President Chukiat Panyawai said friends working at Chiang Mai Airport told him rates in Phuket were far more expensive than in the northern city .

If the AoT agreed to reduce fees by 50%, that would be great. Then we could talk about lower prices for passengers and everyone would be happy,” he said.

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

Tourism

Bangkok Airways add 3 new local routes to their schedule

The Thaiger

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Bangkok Airways add 3 new local routes to their schedule | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Bangkok Airways' ATR72, servicing the re-introduced routes

Some domestic routes are being added as local routes continue to expand. This time Bangkok Airways has announced it’s resuming its Samui-Phuket, Phuket-Hat Yai and Phuket-Pattaya/Rayong (U-Tapao) flights.

The first additions to the schedule will be the Phuket-Samui flights resuming this Sunday, October 25, and the Phuket-Pattaya flights start again next Tuesday, October 27. The Phuket-Samui flights will be operating on Sundays and Wednesdays only on the airlines’ ATR72 turbo prop regional planes, same as before.

A casual search on the Bangkok Airways website, for a return flight from Phuket to Samui on November 1, then back to Phuket on November 8 indicates the cheapest fare (promo) is 2,430 baht. Coming back, the cheapest fare we found, again labelled ‘promo’, was 2,630 baht. Bangkok Airways operate as a “full service” airline and don’t compete with the country’s discount airlines. But they operate these three routes exclusively – like it or leave it.

Bangkok Airways say that the flights will be operated “with the highest preventive measures and standards”. Around the country the Civil Aviation Authority of Thailand have eased a few of the onboard restrictions, including the start of catering services which were originally banned under the initial flight rules when domestic routes started flying again at the start of July.

The daily direct services between Phuket and Hat Yai are also being operated on the ATR72 aircraft. The flight to Ha Yai leaves Phuket at 8.40am and arrives at Hat Yai at 9:.45am. The return flights leave Hat Yai back to Phuket at 10.25am each day. The route was very popular for the airline before the ‘disruption’ when airlines had their fleets grounded in April.

The service between Phuket and U-Tapao, linking the party city with the party island, will operate on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays, again with the ATR72. Phuket to U-Tapao will leave at 12.10pm and then from U-Tapao to Phuket at 4pm on the three days. U-Tapao is about a 50 minute drive from Pattaya and the airport also serves the greater Rayong area.

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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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