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Phuket chosen as Asian HQ

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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Phuket chosen as Asian HQ | The Thaiger
Phuket NEWS Hound

– A daily digest of news from around the world compiled by Gazette editors for Phuket’s international community. World Cup? Get instantaneous scores and news updates right here on the Gazette Online (fed directly from FIFA).

PHUKET: Asia Travel Tips reports that Outrigger Hotels and Resorts Asia has officially established Phuket as its Regional Operating Headquarters (ROH).

The resort operator has also been approved by the Thai Government’s Board of Investment, under the Ministry of Industry.

“We are a resort company so have chosen a resort location,” said Outrigger’s Senior Vice President for Asia, Darren Edmonstone.

“Our expertise since our formation in Hawaii over 60 years ago pertains to warm climate resort holidays. Phuket, with its great aviation access, human resources and culture of hospitality is a perfect regional headquarters for us in Asia.

“With a headquarters in Phuket, Outrigger can easily access resort areas of potential business interest in India, Indonesia, Vietnam, China and around Asia,” he added.

Here in Phuket, the resort company manages the Outrigger Laguna Phuket Resort & Villas.

The Thai Government created the ROH program in 2001 to reinforce Thailand’s position as an important business hub.

Thais move to help tourism

ETN
The Thai government has decided to move forward with a tourism recovery plan, and to move quickly. Thailand’s Government has extended a range of measures to promote tourism, including a waiver of tourist visa fees until March 31, 2011.

They they have also approved a relief package for the tourism industry, including loans in the Thai Baht equivalent of US$153 million.

Hotels are exempted until 2011 from operation fees, while Thais travelling on local packages from tour operators, or who pay for their accommodation, will be able to deduct up to 15,000 baht from their annual income tax this year.

The TAT was granted an additional budget of 350 million baht (approx US$11.1 million) to boost promotion in the domestic market.

And the government-owned Airports of Thailand company has introduced discount schemes such as the reduction of landing fees by 15%.

The Government says it will also study tax deductions for MICE organizers.

Thailand praised for recovery

Earth Times
International tourism officials on Friday praised Thailand’s efforts to restore its image as a safe destination after months of political turmoil.

At a meeting in Bangkok, World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) secretary general Taleb Rifai and Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) chief executive Gregory Duffell pledged to work closely with Thailand to accelerate the recovery of the country’s tourism industry.

“UNWTO and its members stand behind Thailand,” Rifai said. “Valuable lessons and strategies used by other member states to confront similar crisis situations will be shared. This meeting also represents an expression of solidarity with Thailand from the international tourism community.”

Rifai praised Thai government’s efforts to revitalize the tourism industry, including a financial scheme for tourism entrepreneurs and small businesses affected by the unrest, exemption from the tourist visa fee for foreigners, and a landing and parking fee discount for airports.

The Kingdom’s image as the ‘Land of Smiles’ was shattered after thousands of anti-government protesters occupied Bangkok’s central shopping and hotel district in April and May and sporadic violence left 90 people dead and 1,885 injured.

Economic losses, including the torching of several of Bangkok’s landmark businesses, were estimated at 200 billion baht (6.25 billion dollars).

Thailand’s tourism industry was hurt by the outbreak of SARS, or severe acute respiratory syndrome, in 2003; by the Indian Ocean tsunami in 2004; and the closure of Bangkok’s two airports by protesters in 2008.

But the industry has proved resilient, bouncing back stronger each time.

Thais seek peace through art

Centre Daily

Out of Thailand’s bloody political turmoil that ended in mid-May, an art exhibit has emerged.

‘Imagine Peace’ opened last week and runs through August 22 at the Bangkok Art and Culture Center, located just a block from the protest zone in central Bangkok where protesters set up a makeshift campsite enclosed by a barricade of stacked rubber tires and bamboo spears.

Eighty artists have contributed works that include a rendition of the anti-government protesters’ rubber tire barricade – which sealed off parts of central Bangkok for weeks – to express “the desire for peace and reconciliation,” says curator Apinan Poshyananda.

Reconciliation is the latest catchword in Thai politics today, as the government tries to heal a nation fractured by the worst political violence in nearly two decades.
The 10 weeks of protests left 89 people dead and about 1,400 injured, and brought the capital’s luxury shopping district to a standstill.

The exhibit was cobbled together in three weeks. Organizers say they hope to rotate in new installations if more artists want to contribute, and even expand onto the streets outside the gallery if need be.

Jakarta develops tourism

The Jakarta Post
The Ministry of Culture and Tourism has selected 200 villages across Indonesia as recipients of donations from the country’s Community Empowerment Fund (CEF) in a bid to develop tourism. The announcement was made yesterday.

Indonesia has announced a series of tourism development measures over the past few months. The country’s most visible competitor with Phuket is Bali, but many other destinations in the archipelago are under active grooming as tourism attractions.

The Director of Community Empowerment at the Ministry said that each village in Java would receive development funds, and that the villages were expected to develop tourism as a source of income for themselves and for the country.

The CEF program was initiated last year, with 104 villages receiving allocations of funds. An additional 450 villages will receive allocations next year, the Ministry says.

— Gazette Editors

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Crime

Now you see him, now you don’t… Patong Police hunt foreigner over $30k theft

Greeley Pulitzer

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Now you see him, now you don’t… Patong Police hunt foreigner over $30k theft | The Thaiger

PHOTO: Patong Police

Patong Police have yet to develop any tangible leads tracking down a foreigner who made off with US$30,000 in cash from a currency exchange booth in Kalim, north of Patong in Phuket, last Tuesday.

The man is about 168 centimetres tall with grey hair and around 60 years old, Patong police told The Phuket News.

“We have no clue what nationality he is.”

He was last seen at the currency exchange booth wearing a purple polo shirt, blue jeans and black cap. Police have checked hotels in the area, police stations across the island and Phuket Immigration, but have yet to join the dots and come up with firm leads.

“Investigators have checked CCTV in the area and collected what evidence we have but we still do not know the man’s name or where he was staying.”

The man had visited the booth several times before Tuesday, when he disappeared with the $30,000 in US banknotes, according to police.

“It was always small amounts”, he added, noting that the amounts didn’t warrant staff at the exchange booth to check the man’s passport before making the exchange.

The man arrived at the booth again at about 1pm on Tuesday, saying that he had 900,000 baht cash to exchange.

SOURCE: The Phuket News

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Crime

Mystery surrounds security guard found dead in his Phuket room

The Thaiger

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Mystery surrounds security guard found dead in his Phuket room | The Thaiger

PHOTOS: Phuket Hot News

The security guard of a hotel in Nai Yang, northern Phuket, 52 year old Yingyot Butsabong, from Maha Sarakham province, was found dead yesterday (October 16) in his room. Police remain mystified how the man came to grief.

A woman named Supattra received a call from the hotel he worked at and was informed that he didn’t show up at work yesterday, so she went to his apartment to check on him.

She saw that his room was locked from the inside, so used the key she had in her possession to open the room and found Yingyot laying on the floor, face down. She thought he was just sleeping so she tried to wake him up but once she flipped him, she found that he already passed away.

She immediately called Saku police, and once on the scene, police found that there was some blood on the floor. The man had a 2 centimetre wound on his left eyebrow which was deep into his skull. There was also a wound on his chin about 1 centimetre long and about a centimetre deep. His left eye had a bruise which looked like he was attacked by a hard object.

Police report that he had been dead for around four hours in the room.

The room was not ransacked and there was no sign of fighting or theft. His body has been sent to Thalang Hospital for a detailed autopsy and to look into the cause of death.

SOURCE: Phuket Hot News

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People

‘Always Smile Journey’ raises fund to provide free English classes for underprivileged people

Nattha Thepbamrung

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‘Always Smile Journey’ raises fund to provide free English classes for underprivileged people | The Thaiger

On October 18, the ‘Always Smile Journey’ group and its partners will host an exhibition with plenty of fun activities at the Yak Yai Market, near Chalong Circle, in Phuket. This event was designed to raise funds to provide free English classes for underprivileged people on the island of Phuket on Saturdays and Sundays. The group does not accept donations but aims to raise money through the sales of the products available at the event.

‘Always Smile Journey’ raises fund to provide free English classes for underprivileged people | News by The Thaiger

From 2 pm to 8 pm, there will be a number of artists, musicians and performers who will keep the attendees entertained along the way. There will be a short film about His Majesty King Rama 9 as well as fun activities and games for kids and families, which are all free of charge.

The big bike crew is also a part of this event. They will ride a parade from Rawai Beach heading to the market and showcase their gorgeous two-wheel buddies.

One of the highlights of the Always Smile Journey exhibition is the ‘Happening’ artists group, who will draw and paint a picture of the His Majesty King Rama 9 under the name ‘Street Art King Bhumibol’ on a 4×10 meter sign live at the event so the guests will experience this large-scale art in action. The Happening will also offer portrait sketching for the participants.

‘Always Smile Journey’ raises fund to provide free English classes for underprivileged people | News by The Thaiger

One of the works created by the Happening team; a painting of HM the King Rama 9 on a huge wall (Photo credit: Chawat Chumpasan)

There will also be some western menus available at the event which will be donated to underprivileged children.

This free English class project has over seven years of experience through its cooperation working with individuals and other charity organizations. Throughout the years, the group visited several areas such as Ban Laem Hoy School, Ban Bopud School and Ban Angthong School in Samui, Surat Thani province, Ban Bueng Ao Oun School and Ban Kakoh Rayong, in Surin province, Jalae Village of Lahu (Muser) in Chiang Rai province, as well as community education centers in Siem Reap, Cambodia and in Luang Prabang, in Laos.

This event is a cooperation between several groups, including Happening, Yak Yai Market and Arrow Media, Tattoo artist group, Thonburi Art School Alumni, International School of Tourism, Suratthani Rajabhat University, big bike group from Phuket, artists/performers/musicians from many provinces as well as several businesses across Phuket.

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