Phuket bemused as protests fizzle

Phuket NEWS Hound

– A daily, pocket-sized packet of news from around the world, compiled by Phuket Gazette reporters for foreigners who want it short, sharp and straight to the point.

PHUKET: The mass anti-government rally in Thailand appears to be losing steam. Tens of thousands have returned to their farms. They drew nowhere near the promised million protesters. But according to The Star Online, Thaksin’s red-shirted protesters, vilified as a thuggish mob after their street insurrection in Bangkok in 2008, may have regained some credibility as a non-violent political movement.

“The size of the protest, the show of emotion and discipline, has been impressive, and Thai people will have got the message quite strongly,” said Chris Baker, a Thailand-based author.

Meanwhile, a tiny contingent of less than 1,000 red shirts from Phuket remains in Bangkok, with the vast majority of Phuket people, like their compatriots throughout Thailand, bemused by the ghoulish and increasingly irrelevant antics of the red fringe skulking the capital.

The New York Times observes that Deputy PM Suthep Thuagsuban echoed the feelings of many educated Thais when he said that the blood protests had “sent a message to the world that some sections of the Thai populace are crazy about black magic, which is unscientific and uncivilized.”

Thai investors unfazed by protests

Business Week
Thailand’s baht and the benchmark SET Index of shares both rose to their highest level since June 2008, buoyed by inflows of foreign capital as anti-government protests remained peaceful.

“Investors have been buying the baht and stocks as nothing serious has happened,” said Tetsuo Yoshikoshi, a senior economist at Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corp. Overseas investors bought $38 million more of Thai shares than they sold yesterday, a 16th day of net purchases, boosting inflows this year to $597 million, according to stock exchange data.

Kim Eng Securities Pte said, “Local institutions are becoming increasingly confident that Thai politics will not interfere with the economy… the Thai stock market should move higher as liquidity continues to pour in.”

Elderly tourists like Phuket

New Straits Times
As is evident in Phuket, senior citizens are important to tourism. From Thailand to Germany, the gray-haired segment makes up a lucrative and fast-growing opportunity in the travel industry, with deep pockets, disposable income and free time, said Sybille Zeuch of the German Tourism Federation (DRV) at last week’s ITB in Berlin, the world’s biggest trade fair for the multi-billion-dollar global holiday industry.

“They have strong purchasing power, are interested in culture and are accustomed to travel,” she told AFP.

The elder tourists have little fear when it comes to choosing faraway locations for their holidays, agreed Thomas Graune, founder of German firm Studios, which offers cultural trips for the 50 to 60 crowd. “These people have increasingly exotic tastes. They’ve already seen Italy and Greece. Now they want to go to Ethiopia, Yemen or China,” he said.

Phuket: better value for money

New York Times
Major United States hotel chains are aggressively expanding into Asia, including Thailand, looking to create new options for travelers looking for familiar brands abroad. These chains tend to deliver more value at a cheaper rate abroad. For example, in Thailand, Courtyard hotels offer a free Children’s Club with a mini movie theater, science lab, pool table and video games, on top of the usual hotel pool with water slides. At the same time, prices are comparable if not cheaper than the United States counterparts that don’t offer all the extras.

The Courtyard Boca Raton in Florida, for example, was recently listed on the Marriott Website as $129 a night for a one-night stay in early April. The Courtyard Phuket at Kamala Beach: $110 a night.

Fish smuggler caught in Phuket
Hundreds of illegally caught aquarium fish were seized from a house in Phuket, Thailand. The owner of the house hired local fishermen to catch the fish with cyanide in coral reefs around the islands of Ko Racha and Ko Khai. Two hundred corals, 400 tropical fish and other animals were found in tanks throughout the house, some sick with cyanide poisoning.

The owner of the house told police he was going to smuggle the animals into Chiang Mai in northern Thailand to sell to collectors. He has been charged with possession of a protected species without permission from the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment.

Phuket doing its part

Bangkok Post
Bangkok expects to cut its electricity use by 2,000 megawatts during the global “Earth Hour” energy-saving campaign to be held on March 27, Deputy Governor Pornthep Techapaiboon says. Mr Pornthep yesterday said Bangkok and Phuket would join the 2010 Earth Hour along with 4,000 cities in 84 countries.

— Gazette Editors

Phuket News

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