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Phuket car used in mega-heist; foreigners suspected

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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Phuket car used in mega-heist; foreigners suspected | The Thaiger
Phuket NEWS Hound

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

PHUKET: Police say a Toyota sedan owned by a Phuket person is believed to have been the vehicle used by the robbers in Friday’s 12-million baht robbery. The heist occurred outside the Krung Thai Bank headquarters in Bangkok.

The car is said to have been a rental vehicle managed by a Phuket car rental company.

The Bangkok Post reports that police have identified two suspects, both foreigners, and that an investigation unit will travel to Phuket to talk to the car owner. The suspects are believed to be professional thieves working for a gang.

In the robbery, Wirat Panyapluattichote of Thaimart Store was at the bank depositing money owned by Thaimart when 12 million baht was stolen from his car.

He had picked up bags containing 25 million baht from an exchange currency trader and went to the bank to deposit it.

The cash was divided into bags containing 5 million, 8 million, and 12 million baht.

Mr Wirat carried the bag with 5 million baht into the bank. When he returned he found that a window of his vehicle had been broken and the bag containing 12 million baht was missing.

Golf victory for Pagunsan in Phuket

Inquirer sports
Juvic Pagunsan from the Philippines won the Mercedes-Benz Masters Thailand tournament on Saturday with a runaway seven-stroke victory while Thai teen prodigy Pinsawat Pariwat finished in a tie for fifth.

Starting the day with a four-stoke lead, Pagunsan closed with a five-under-par 65 at Laguna Phuket Golf Club for his first win on the Mercedes-Benz Tour.

Thailand’s Udorn Duangdecha claimed outright second after shooting a 68, while Lam Chih Bing from Singapore was one stroke further back in third position after carding a 67.

Thirteen-year-old amateur Pinsawat closed with a 70.

The event was sponsored by the Phuket Gazette and PGTV.

Nok Air snorkeling into Phuket

TTRWeekly
Nok Air’s Nok Fan Club members can buy a snorkeling package at Racha Island for 1,200 baht (for two persons) when they purchase standard fares to Phuket through the airline’s call centre.

Racha Island is located a few minutes’ boat ride off Phuket.

The promotion is available for two persons travelling together and both have to be Nok Fan Club members. The booking period ends September 23, or until the allotment of 1,000 packages is fully taken up. The travel period runs until September 30.

The roundtrip fare to Phuket from Bangkok is reported at “around” 2,980 baht per person.

Phuket resort laments

Brisbane Times
The upheaval that’s engulfed Thailand recently has hit tourist hubs hard, and Phuket’s luxury health resort Six Senses Destination Spa has not been spared.

Six Senses Managing Director Ana Maria Tavares last month lamented not only the Bangkok civil unrest that has dissuaded holiday-makers but a raft of other uncontrollable factors that have plagued Phuket and her resort since its opening in November 2008.

“We’re nearly empty and we should be about 60 per cent full,” she said.

“We’ve suffered the financial crisis, the global swine flu epidemic and then the closure of Bangkok airport because of the political situation there.”

Despite the bad-timing, Ms Tavares said the Phuket resort had won eight international awards last year.

Phuket not alone in road disgrace

The Nation
In Phuket, where motorists have been pleading for stricter enforcement of traffic laws for decades, the results of last week’s nationwide road safety survey come as no surprise:

– Many minors under 15 ride motorcycles in Thailand, although the law prohibits that.
– 78.9 per cent of road accident victims weren’t wearing a helmet at the time of their accident(s).
– Drunk driving is responsible for 31.6 per cent of all injuries and deaths.
– Speeding accounts for 31.1 per cent of all accidents.

Nurse Sirikul Kullieub from Khon Kaen Hospital’s Emergency Centre said a survey of 1,200 motorcycle accident victims at 12 hospitals around the country found that most were young persons:

– 37 per cent aged 19-30
– 14.7 per cent 15-18; and
– 7.1 per cent below 15.

The survey results will be used for proposals to the government for stricter traffic law enforcement, and for a plea that driver’s licenses for motorbikes of 100cc or more be issued to over 18s only.

State of emergency continues

Online

Thailand’s Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva yesterday said that it was too early to lift a two-month-old state of emergency in place across about one-third of the country, including Bangkok, because of fears of fresh unrest.

“We have to accept that even though the situation seems to be normal now, the problems of terrorism and security still exist,” Mr Abhisit said in his weekly television address.

He added that the government was “reviewing the appropriate time to lift the state of emergency.”

The emergency rule decree bans public gatherings of more than five people and gives broad powers to the police and military, but its visibility in current day-to-day life in Thailand is negligible to zero.

— Gazette Editors

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News

30 dolphins greet visitors to Similan Islands

Greeley Pulitzer

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30 dolphins greet visitors to Similan Islands | The Thaiger

Tourists were treated to the sight of a school of dolphins in the Similan Islands off the Phang Nga coast on Sunday.

Tour organisers said that around 30 dolphins swam close to the boat six or seven miles offshore, creating excitement for passengers. It was the first time dolphins had been seen in the vicinity since October 15.

The Similan Islands National Park director said they were bottlenose dolphins and were among several species now returning to the area following a five-year closure of the park for environmental rehabilitation. Food is again plentiful there for them, he said.

Tourists are forbidden to feed wildlife lest the free handouts alter the animals’ natural behaviour, and the park’s waters are also very sensitive to contamination from human disease and marine debris, according to the director.

SOURCE: nationthailand.com

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Patong

Phuket hotels slashing the price of rooms

The Thaiger

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Phuket hotels slashing the price of rooms | The Thaiger

by Sophie Deviller

Hotels on Thailand’s most popular holiday island are being forced to slash prices, with rooms left vacant and beaches sparse as Thailand’s tourism chiefs struggle with a plunge in Chinese visitors caused by the US trade war and a stronger baht. Phuket was the most visited destination in the country last year, after Bangkok, and a good gauge of the state of its crucial travel industry.

Tourism accounts for 18% of Thailand’s gross domestic product and Chinese holidaymakers make up more than a quarter of total arrivals. But while 2.2 million people from the country visited in 2018, according to official figures, the numbers for January-September were down almost 20% year on year.

Claude de Crissey, the French Honorary Consul in Phuket and owner of about 40 rooms in the Patong Beach area, says Chinese tourists are usually present even during the current low season.

“That was not the case this year,” he said, adding he had to lower his prices by as much as 50%.

The problem is not only in Phuket, with hotels also struggling to fill rooms in the seaside resort of Pattaya on the mainland and on Koh Samui.

Trade tensions with the US have already made some Chinese reluctant to take holidays owing to uncertainty back home, while the Thai baht has risen about 10% against the yuan this year.

A boating disaster off Phuket’s coast that killed 47 Chinese holidaymakers in July 2018 also scared some off.

“We are worried,” said an industry insider, declining to be named due to the sensitivity of the topic in a country where tourism provides tens of thousands of jobs. Adding to the headache is the fact that more than 3,000 new hotel rooms are being constructed on the island, raising the question of who will fill them.

Phuket hotels slashing the price of rooms | News by The Thaiger

“In terms of business, it’s not good,” said Kongsak Khoopongsakorn, vice-president of the association of hotels in Thailand and director of Vijitt Resort.

“Because … we have more hotels, more rooms to sell, we have more restaurants, more coffee shops.”

Still, tourism authority chairman Yuthasak Supasorn said he remained “optimistic.”

“We should reach our goal of 39.8 million foreign visitors.”

However, that is only up from 38.2 million in 2018, much less than the jump seen from the previous year’s total of 35.6 million.

Counting on India

Now hoteliers and tour package operators are targeting visitors from elsewhere, particularly India, which experts see as a huge untapped market.

A rapid expansion of the middle class in India, increased direct flights and visa-free travel have prompted Thailand to revise forecasts upwards.

It now expects two million Indian tourists this year, after an increase of nearly 25% on-year in the first seven months. But for now, the lower arrivals is evident on the streets of Phuket.

“I’ve never seen anything as bad as what it is at the moment,” said Paul Scott from Australia, who said he has been coming to Thailand for 15 years.

He mainly blamed the stronger baht for the drop-off but also the fact that Thailand wasn’t the untouched vacation paradise it once was. “Now it’s not so new … and it’s not cheap,” he said.

SOURCE: AFP

Phuket hotels slashing the price of rooms | News by The Thaiger

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Events

The 15th Mai Khao Marine Turtle fun run attracts more than 4,000 runners

The Thaiger

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The 15th Mai Khao Marine Turtle fun run attracts more than 4,000 runners | The Thaiger

4,000 runners from Thailand and overseas took part in the 15th Mai Khao Marine Turtle Fun Run and Half Marathon 2019 yesterday, starting from the Phuket Gateway.

The event is expected to raise 700,000 baht for the charity, now in its 15th year. The money raised goes towards to The Mai Khao Marine Turtle Foundation, which is committed to protecting the marine and coastal environment, and ecosystems, for the wellbeing of sea turtles that nest in the Mai Khao beach and the surrounding areas.

The annual race also provides funds for thePhuket Marine Biological Centre’s Injured Turtle Rehabilitation Program and The Third NavalArea Command’s Turtle Hatchery Program.

The race was in its 15th year and runners of all ages and abilities took part in the race. The morning’s racing was divided into five categories – the 21.1km half marathon, 10.5km mini- marathon, 5km fun run and 3k family run and VIP participants for all the races. The route of 21.1 kilometre race took runners northwest along the Haad Sai Kaew beach towards Thao Thepkasattri bridge, past the rural road No. 3006, run along the road – Pi Lai viewpoint area returned back along the T. Baan Tha Nun to the iconic Sarasin bridge before finished the half marathon in the Phuket Gateway.

For Mini Marathon 10.5 km – Over all category, Mr. Chinnawat Changlek clocked 39 minutes and 40 seconds to clinch victory in the male half marathon, winning prize money and a trophy with the signature of Phuket’s Governor. The winner in the female mini marathon was Surakarn Wanna with a time of 47 minutes and 47 seconds.

Winners also received a prize gift voucher as well as a medal. Congratulations to all participants.

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