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Phuket Old Town Festival

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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PHUKET TOWN: The annual festival showcasing Phuket Town’s distinctive blend of Chinese and Thai culture is set to return this month.

This year’s Phuket Old Town Festival will take place from February 19 to 21, after the arrival of the Year of the Tiger that falls on Valentine’s Day.

The Tourism Authority of Thailand and Phuket City Municipality are promising more activities than ever during the event, now in its 11th year.

Organizers chose the serene courtyard of Saeng Tham Shrine on Phang Nga Road as the launch site for this year’s festival.

Centered on Queen Sirikit Park and spreading over the Old Town streets of Thalang Road, Phuket Road, Krabi Road and Soi Rommannee, this year’s event will feature performances by entertainers from no fewer than 10 different Chinese provinces.

Wanaphapar Suksombul, assistant director of the TAT Phuket, said the performances would include Shaolin Kung Fu, acrobats from Beijing, tribal dancing from Tibet, Chinese opera, a puppet show and a bian lian mask changing performance from Sichuan.

“This year the Peranakan Association of Phuket will invite those in other Southeast Asian countries, such as Singapore and Malaysia, to come and perform. There will be an extra stage on Thepkrasattri Road and an exhibition presenting Phuket Peranakan origins and culture,” she said.

Peranakan, as well as ‘Straits Chinese’ and ‘Baba-Nyonya’, are terms used to refer to descendants of ethnic Chinese who emigrated to Southeast Asia during the colonial period.

Ms Wanaphapar said the TAT will borrow three of the Phuket Provincial Administration Organization’s pink poh thong buses to help promote the festival.

Setting off at 1pm from Queen Sirikit Park, the buses will take festival-goers on a tour of five of the town’s Chinese shrines. The cost will be 50 baht per passenger.

Bang Niow Shrine will be the first stop. The pinkies will then move on to Saphan Hin Shrine, Kuan Im Shrine and then Jui Tui Shrine “to worship the tiger god, as next year is the year of the tiger,” Ms Wanaphapar said.

The buses will then move on to Saeng Tham Shrine before returning to the park at 6pm.

Activities on the first night of the event are set to include a ceremony of worship of the bodhisattva Kuan Im, whose statue stands in Queen Sirikit park, as well as a cultural exhibition at 63 Thalang Road, rickshaw tours of Phuket Town, and boat trips along local canals.

The second night will see colorful processions of Phuketians dressed in traditional costumes parading from Saphan Hin back to the festival.

The last night of the festival will feature a Hokkien god-worship ceremony, with Chinese monks praying for prosperity and protection for Phuket.

The Phuket Post Office will provide a mobile stamp-printing service that will allow people to have their photograph printed on postage stamps that can then be mailed.

“We would like to invite all Phuket locals and tourists to join in the festival because it is only held once a year,” Ms Wanaphapar said. “It is a festival that shows off the beautiful traditions and cultures of Phuket that are not often seen.”

— Sitthipong Nongkaew

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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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