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Phuket Update; foreigner nabbed; Phuket airline happy; Wiki wasted

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Phuket Update; foreigner nabbed; Phuket airline happy; Wiki wasted | Thaiger
Phuket NEWS Hound

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

Phuket airport arrivals soar

Passenger traffic through Phuket International Airport during the first half of this year surged 28 per cent compared to a year earlier – marking a dramatic recovery for Phuket as the island resort province leads Thailand’s tourism revival and a return toward the boom statistics of 2007.

According to the mid-year edition of the Phuket Hotel Market Update, a research publication released today by leading hospitality consulting firm C9 Hotelworks, the road to recovery has firmly begun with higher hotel occupancies and a “game changing” shift in tourist profile that is driving growth.

C9’s Managing Director Bill Barnett says that one clear indication of the bounce back are the hotel-wide performance statistics, with occupancies rising from 61% per cent in 2009 to 70 per cent in the same period this year, although this did come at a cost to average room rates – down 9 per cent.

But the longer term implications of the shift away from European visitors looks likely to have a more telling impact on Phuket as it begins to deliver the metrics prevailing prior to the dawn of the global economic crisis in 2008.

Rich in statistics, a free copy of the eight-page Phuket Hotel Market Update will be available in all copies of the Phuket Gazette newspaper due out tomorrow afternoon.

Taiwanese nabbed in Phuket

Bangkok Post
A Taiwanese man wanted in Taiwan on drug charges has been arrested in Phuket, provincial immigration police chief Panuwat Ruamrak said at a press conference yesterday.

Pol Col Panuwat said Wu Jung-Mu, 50, was arrested by immigration police at the request of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office (TECO) in Thailand.

A local court in Taiwan issued a warrant for his arrest on Nov 28, 2003 and the TECO in Thailand asked the Immigration Police Bureau to find out if he had fled to Thailand.

Police learned that Wu Jung-Mu last entered Thailand via Suvarnabhumi airport on Oct 27, 2009, with a visa was valid until Jan 24, 2010. The man sought an extension of his visa at the Phuket immigration office on Jan 11 this year and was given an extension until Jan 24 next year.

Pol Col Panuwat said the immigration office revoked his visa on Aug 4 and arrested him at an apartment in Phuket’s Muang District on Aug 10.

The TECO in Thailand had been contacted to make arrangements for his deportation to Taiwan after completing all legal proceedings in Thailand, he said.

Phuket’s Happy Air expanding

TTR Weekly
Phuket’s Happy Air has established a new base in Nakhon Ratchasima, a.k.a. Korat, in order to operate more flights to towns in the North and Northeast of Thailand.

The airline will base two aircraft in the northeastern city and one in Phuket.

Happy Air sales and marketing manager Phatcharapon Sontipun says the airline is confident its Nakhon Ratchasima hub can be developed into its main operational base.

The airport comes under the Civil Aviation Department, with lower parking and landing fees than at Phuket International Airport which is managed by Airports of Thaland.

“We will keep one aircraft in Phuket and have two operating out of Korat by October 1,” Phatcharapon says.

Wikileaks blocked

The Telegraph
Thai authorities have used emergency powers to block the Wikileaks whistleblower website on security grounds, claiming it could lead to further unrest.

“Access to this website has been temporarily suspended under the 2005 emergency decree,” a spokesman from the Ministry of Information and Communication Technology said.

Thailand has removed tens of thousands of web pages from the Internet in recent years and critics have complained that the authorities have responded to the recent anti-government demonstrations by widening the net.

Some pages of social networking site Facebook are thought to have been blocked in the recent clampdown.

WikiLeaks has been the focus of international attention in recent weeks after it released thousands of military documents on the conflict in Afghanistan.

Budget bill will pass

The Nation
The Budget Bill will be passed on schedule tomorrow, House Speaker Chai Chidchob affirmed yesterday, despite the opposition’s extreme criticism of the concentration of budget allocations to certain government agencies and a special allotment by House Budget Committee members.

Chai said today’s debate could if necessary continue till dawn, ahead of the vote.

Yesterday, the first day of the debate, Pheu Thai Party MPs criticised the lack of data on the budget, particularly details of late decreases and increases totaling 33.4 billion baht.

Maha Sarakham MP Prayuth Siripanich charged that some committee members had managed to win 10-20 per cent of the budgets they helped allocate to the constituencies of certain coalition parties’ MPs.

Chavalit Vichaisut also criticised the fact that that the budget was particularly concentrated in some provinces.

The opposition’s points of concern extended to agricultural price guarantees, which despite the huge sum involved were said to benefit landowners and not farmers, as well as the government’s policies to address corruption and public debt.

Criticism was also leveled at the allocation of 170 billion baht, or 8 per cent of the overall budget, to the Interior Ministry – an agency heavily criticised over many past equipment purchases – against just 70 million baht for the Agriculture Ministry.

It took over 10 hours to finish just the first of the 35 clauses in the bill.

Copter crash kills five

Earth Times
Five people, including three senior bureaucrats, died in a helicopter crash in northern Thailand, officials said yesterday.

The crash site of the Eurocopter AS 350, which went missing on Tuesday, was located early yesterday in a forest in the Na Muen district of Nan province, 420 kilometres north of Bangkok, said Army Major General Cheewan Horabuth, head of the search and rescue operation.

Three bodies were found near the wreck and another two beneath it. Authorities have launched an investigation into the cause of the crash, which was initially blamed on bad weather.

Among those killed were Saksit Tridech, permanent secretary of the Natural Resources and Environment Ministry; Kowit Punyatrong, Inspector General of the National Parks Department; and Sahat Boonyawiwat, an advisor to the Royal Household Bureau.

The Mineral Resources Department helicopter went missing shortly after it took off in a heavy rainstorm from Phitsanulok Tuesday morning to take the officials to the inauguration of a river basin development project.

— Gazette Editors


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