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Phuket to benefit from a better 2010?

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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Phuket to benefit from a better 2010? | Thaiger
Phuket NEWS Hound

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

PHUKET: According to Travel Weekly, Phuket and Bangkok can look forward to improved tourism in 2010. The influential US-based weekly newspaper for the travel industry says that Thailand was one of the most beleaguered tourist destinations in the world in 2009, suffering from the combined effects of the global financial crisis, political instability, a rising currency and swine flu.

However, the outlook for 2010 appears much brighter, thanks to many excellent promotional deals and to increased airline capacity that will be arriving shortly.

Noting that Bangkok and Phuket remain the most popular tourist destinations in the country, the respected B2B journal predicts that Chiang Rai and the beach resorts of Pattaya, Samui, Krabi, Hua Hin and Phi Phi will see an acceleration in arrivals.

Not mentioned in the journal’s outlook for Phuket is the alarming announcement by Thai Airways last week of massive fare increases into and out of Phuket International Airport. Citing ‘fuel price increases’, the national carrier hiked the price of an ‘economy’ class ticket on the Bangkok-Phuket route by 46%, while the Chiangmai-Phuket run was dealt a whopping 64% rise.

For more details on the new Phuket fares, click here.

Thai tourism takes a blow

China Post
The anti-governmental protests are affecting Thailand’s tourism. “The decline has reached a point where we risk losing visitors for the long term,” Apichart Sankary, an adviser to the Federation of Thai Tourism Associations said.

Hotels nationwide reported an average of 40 percent occupancy last month, down from the typical March average of 75 percent, said Prakij Chin-amornpong, chairman of the Thai Hotels Association, which represents 653 hotels nationwide.

Hotels in Bangkok were among the hardest hit, with tourists trying to avoid the capital, he said. Hotels on the beach resort island of Phuket and other places with international airports have fared better, he added.

Last week, Phuket Tourist Association president Somboon Jirayus said that tourism in the resort province this year to date has seen only 60-70 per cent of the check-ins it enjoyed during the same period last year.

Protests costing Thailand dearly

Sky News
Thousands of anti-government protesters yesterday continued to refuse to leave the commercial heart of Bangkok. They are defying threats of arrest and pledging to continue their protests until new elections are called.

Office buildings and more than half a dozen shopping malls, normally packed with weekend shoppers, were closed for security reasons for the second day.

Businesses say the economic losses could reach £10 million a day.

Police say the protesters could face fines and up to one year in prison as they had broken emergency decrees by disrupting traffic and commerce.

Thai police confront protesters

Earth Times
Thai police issued orders for the red-shirted crowd to disperse from the Ratchaprasong intersection, which is home to some of Bangkok’s ritziest shopping centres and hotels.

Copies of the order, threatening a crackdown if they failed to leave the area, were handed to protestors on the street and broadcast through speakers.

“We need to inform (the protestors) to leave because what they are doing is illegal,” PM Vejjaiva Abhisit said.

On Saturday night, police announced that leaders of the protests were in violation of the Internal Security Act and faced a year in jail and fines if they failed to disperse. The demonstrators defied a 9-pm deadline to disperse and many spent the night camped on the streets and sidewalks.

— Gazette Editors

 

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Thailand

Americans in Thailand urge US to provide Covid-19 vaccines to citizens overseas

Tanutam Thawan

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Stock photo by Mufid Majnun for Unsplash

Thai officials say expats living in Thailand will be included in the government’s mass Covid-19 vaccination plan, but exactly when that will be is still up in the air. With foreign embassies in Thailand clearly stating that they will not assist with providing citizens living overseas with vaccines, expats are relying on the Thai government.

A number of Americans are now urging the US government to provide Covid-19 vaccines to citizens living in Thailand. And with the recent outbreak linked to the more contagious variant of the virus, getting a vaccine in Thailand has become more pressing.

A “Covid-19 Vaccine Task Force” of Democrats Abroad Thailand members, as well as those from American organisations based in Thailand, is calling on the US government to deliver vaccines to citizens living in Thailand, chairperson of Democrats Abroad Thailand and a United Nations consultant, Paul Risley, told VOA.

“Americans who live abroad need to be vaccinated for the same reasons that Americans who live in the United States need to be vaccinated… Because it’s the only way to stop Covid-19.”

If an American were to travel back to the US for a vaccine, they would still need to stay in a hotel or certified facility for a 14-day quarantine at their own expense when re-entering Thailand. Along with getting together the required paperwork, they would need to go through numerous Covid-19 tests including before the flight, upon arrival and before being released from quarantine. The flights to and from the US can end up being more than 20 hours per trip and add up to thousands of dollars in travel costs.

For the vast majority of Americans in Thailand, flying back to the US is the only way to get vaccinated at the moment. The US Embassy in Bangkok says vaccines will not be provided for US citizens living overseas.

The Department of State does not provide direct medical care, including vaccinations, to private U.S. citizens abroad. We are committed to providing all possible consular assistance to U.S. citizens in need overseas, including by providing information on local medical resources when appropriate. Please follow host country developments and guidelines for COVID-19 vaccination.

At a recent Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration meeting, a spokesperson for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said “all people who reside in Thailand, regardless of their nationality, are eligible to receive the vaccine under the government’s plan.”

Mass vaccination campaigns are being rolled out in high-risk areas, such as Bangkok’s Khlong Toey slum where a cluster of infections was reported, as well as Phuket and Koh Samui, tourist islands that are said to be of “economic significance.” Health officials are trying to hit herd immunity on the 2 islands to reopen to foreign tourists.

Expats in Phuket who have a valid work permit can now register for a state Covid-19 vaccine. The registration must be under the company name and expats are told to have the company’s human resources staff assist with the registration process.

While no official announcement has been made regarding expats in Koh Samui, some foreigners who work as English teachers on the island say they have received both doses of the Chinese-made Sinovac vaccine. Schools apparently helped with the registration process, but some teachers say they told to keep quiet about getting the vaccine. Some did not receive a vaccine certificate or any other documentation confirming that they are vaccinated against the coronavirus.

SOURCE: VOA

 

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Phuket

ICU beds for Covid-19 patients in Phuket are close to a “critical” low

Tanutam Thawan

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FILE PHOTO

Covid-19 patients in severe condition may have to been transferred from a government hospital in Phuket to a private hospital as the number of available hospital beds at public intensive care units in Phuket is close to a “critical” low, according to Vachira Phuket Hospital Director Chalermpong Sukontapol.

There are 9 ICU rooms at the Vachira Phuket Hospital. 5 are being used for Covid-19 patients with severe symptoms while the other 4 rooms are for those with mild symptoms and are under observation before being moved to another bed.

“If the 9 rooms are full of severe symptom cases, that will be a big critical stage. We may need to transfer our patients to other provinces or private hospitals, which may involve additional costs.”

He says 50% of the Covid-19 patients in Phuket are asymptomatic while 30% have mild symptoms and 10% have severe symptoms. For most of those with severe symptoms, the virus has moved to their lungs and they are in need of special equipment, like ventilators, to help them breathe and Charlempong says those patients need to be under close observation.

SOURCE: Phuket News

 

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

For travellers to Phuket, testing is out, quarantine is in

Neill Fronde

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PHOTO: Phuket Vice Governor Piyapong Choowong (via Facebook)

The on-again-off-again plans for testing people for Covid-19 as they arrive in Phuket will be replaced by quarantine after May 15, according to Vice Governor Piyapong Choowong’s latest announcement. In an online video broadcast last night, the vice governor confirmed the new scheme after Phuket Governor Narong Woonciew first mentioned it in an executive meeting at Phuket Provincial Hall yesterday.

There are now 25 provinces on the Phuket red zone list that they instated on April 22, with anyone arriving from those places required to have proof that they are either fully vaccinated or tested negative for Covid-19 within the last 72 hours. Without proof, people have to take a rapid antigen test to confirm they did not have Covid-19 before they would be allowed on the island. The test was first set to be 300 baht for everyone, and later controversially made free for Thai people and 500 baht for foreigners.

There had been some back and forth with budget concerns of being able to provide the mass testing and who would pay how much for continued testing. Perhaps requiring people to quarantine in Phuket is cheaper than testing them when they arrive (cheaper for Phuket officials anyway).

The original scheme was set to expire May 15, and announcements were made about extending the plan and stopping testing right away. For now, this debate seems to have settled on replacing the testing with a mandatory quarantine upon entering Phuket.

The vice-governor explained that the rapid antigen test will continue through May 14, and then starting May 15, anyone who arrives without a vaccine or a negative Covid-19 test within 72 hours of arriving in Phuket will be required to quarantine for 14 days. They set a goal of zero new infections by the end of the next two weeks. And he stated they are committed to doing whatever it takes as “Phuket cannot continue with this risk”.

Speaking to The Phuket News… “We want to send a sign to the country that we are cleaning up our province. The 3 vice governors [in Phuket] have been ordered to take care of each district by cooperating with local administration officers as well as community leaders to do proactive screening,”

After announcing the quarantine plan for Phuket, the vice governor spoke confidently that in the near future the island will have enough jabs to vaccinate every person on the island. Religious leaders from any faith are currently being vaccinated because of their general proximity to people during religious ceremonies and practices.

Vice Governor Piyapong pled with people with the people of Phuket who were on the fence about Covid-19 vaccinations, anti-vaxxers, or those otherwise resisting getting the jabs needed to reach herd immunity.

“If you are still deciding whether or not to get vaccinated, please come to get vaccinated”

SOURCE: The Phuket News

 

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