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Phuket arrest: Father remains jailed

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PHUKET: A father volunteered to remain in jail in the United States on Monday while awaiting trial on charges that he fled the U.S. with his 3-year-old daughter in violation of an order issued by the Family Court of Greenville County, South Carolina.

According to the Greenville News yesterday, Samuel Lee Horton II, 38, was arrested in Phuket three weeks ago, ending a search that lasted more than a year, federal prosecutors said.

FBI Special Agent Lisa Quillen wrote in an affidavit that Horton flew from New York to New Delhi, India in April 2009. Greenville County sheriff’s deputies charged him the following month with violating a custody order, Quillen wrote.

Horton initially returned to the United States at Los Angeles and has more recently been in the Greenville County Detention Center, authorities said.
Horton volunteered to remain in custody after attorneys in a court hearing clashed over whether he should be granted bond.

Horton has been charged with unlawful flight to avoid prosecution and giving a false statement for the use or application for a passport.

If convicted, he faces up to 10 years in prison.

7-Eleven swamps Thailand

Earth Times
Phuket residents will not be surprised to learn that Thailand has overtaken Taiwan as host to the third-largest number of 7-Eleven convenience stores in the world, behind only Japan and the USA, media reports said yesterday.

The number of 7-Eleven outlets in Thailand reached 5,500 this year, surpassing Taiwan’s 4,000 stores, but behind Japan’s 12,000 stores and the USA’s 6,000, the Bangkok Post reports.

“We expect the total number of stores to reach 7,000 in 2012, enabling us to replace the US [as World Number Two],” said Suvit Kingkaeo, Senior Deputy Managing Director of CP All Plc, operator of the 7-Eleven franchise for Thailand.

The ubiquitous 24-hour convenience stores were introduced to the Thai market around 20 years ago and now offer various services, such as paying bills and providing mobile phone SIM cards as well as conventional corner-store fare.

Thai army deflated

Earth Times
An 11-million-dollar airship recently purchased by the Royal Thai Army has been grounded for the past several weeks because of leaks, news reports said yesterday.

The US-made Aeros 40D aircraft, which was delivered in May, has been sitting in a hangar because of several ruptures in the stitching on the aircraft’s body.

The army purchased the helium-filled craft to conduct surveillance in Thailand’s three troubled southernmost provinces of Narathiwat, Pattani and Yala, where a separatist struggle has claimed 4,000 lives over the past six years.

The military went on a buying spree after its coup in 2006 when it ousted former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, who fled Thailand to escape a jail sentence for corruption.

The military budget jumped 60 per cent in 2007 and 18 per cent in each of 2008 and 2009.

Drought hits Thai farmers

The Nation
This year’s prolonged drought has badly hurt Thai farmers, who face increased production costs and lower yields, and are likely to see the effects in next year’s crops as well.

Farmers have not been able to harvest their crops as usual, as lack of rain has disrupted their normal farming cycles. Rice farmers have been advised to grow their main crops in the middle of July.

In addition, a drought brought on by the El Nino weather phenomenon has seen some fruit crops either diminished or delayed.

The drought has created an opportunity for some businesses involved in alternative water supplies in Thailand, the world’s biggest rice exporting nation, where the staple is farmed throughout the year and demand for water is high.

Thai crackdown benefits Burma?

The Irawaddy
The Democratic Karen Buddhist Army (DKBA), a proxy militia of the Burmese regime, says it has seen profits rise at its unofficial “Immigration Checkpoint” following Thailand’s recent crackdown on illegal migrant workers, according to a source close to the DKBA.

The DKBA checkpoint, locally known as “Gate Zero” and controlled by a DKBA battalion, has become the main deportation point for illegal migrant workers arrested in Thailand.

Gate Zero is located on the Thai-Burma border next to the Myawaddy Friendship Bridge, just across the Moei River from Mae Sot in Thailand’s Tak province.

“The crackdown has meant more migrant workers are being deported to the gate, so revenues have gone up,” the source said.

Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva recently issued an official order to set up a special center for the suppression, arrest and prosecution of alien workers in Thailand.

Thailand promotes North

TTR Weekly
The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) says it will promote in the UK the lesser known regions of Thailand, such as the Northeast and the eastern seaboard.

To balance the southern region’s popularity in Europe, spearheaded by Phuket, the TAT intends to experiment by promoting the Northeast region, known as ‘Isan’, and lesser known beach destinations on the eastern seaboard in a move to support government policy to spread the benefits of investment and tourism.

In 2009, Thailand welcomed 14.09 million tourist arrivals, of which 777,313 were from the UK and represented a 30% market share of the overall market.

The UK also generated the highest tourism revenues of any country for Thailand last year, due to its nationals’ average length of stay of 15.5 days.

— Gazette Editors

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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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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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