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Phuket hit by coral bleaching

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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

PHUKET: Marine scientists have been closely watching massive coral bleaching in the Andaman Sea around Phuket, believed to be the worst case in Thai waters for 20 years.

According to the Bangkok Post, coral reefs off Phuket, Krabi and Phang-nga, including popular scuba diving sites such as the Similan, Surin and Phi Phi islands, have been damaged by the phenomenon.

The bleaching could get worse if sea temperatures continue to rise, says Niphon Phongsuwan, a marine biologist at the Phuket Marine Biological Centre (PMBC).

Temperatures in the Andaman Sea have stood as high as 31-32C for a long period this year.

Coral reefs in shallow waters at depths of up to 10m will take three to four years to recover. Coral at greater depths will take more time.

Emerging tourism challenge for Phuket

New Straits Times
The mystical Malaysian island of Pulau Besar will have a MYR20 million (THB 200,000,000) facelift which will turn it into a “major tourist destination,” putting it in direct competition with Phuket.

Chief Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Ali Rustam said the project includes landscaping, establishment of a museum, upgrading of basic infrastructure and the purchase of a new fleet of vans to transport tourists around the famed island.

Ali said “Pulau Besar has the potential to be the next tourism attraction in the state.”

From the MYR20 million, Ali said 10 million would be for the refurbishment of a hotel, and that 6 million would be spent on upgrading of some chalets and landscaping.
Ali said the state was hoping to attract 200,000 visitors to the island next year.

Award winners for Phuket Film Festival

E travel blackboard
The Phuket Film Festival, which runs June 4–13, is finalizing its film line-up.

According to the organizers, an eclectic menu of award winning films from around the globe will be screened – everything from a musical comedy from Australia to a controversial documentary from Cambodia and Internationally acclaimed Indian films.

On Saturday and Sunday, June 5 & 6, two benefit screenings will take place: the movie “Soi Dogs” benefitting the Phuket Soi Dog Foundation, and the UNDP produced “Anatomy of a Recovery”, benefiting the Chumchonthai Foundation.

The Festival’s Gala Opening and Awards will be held on Sunday, June 5th, at the Royal Phuket Marina.

The Phuket Gazette is the media sponsor for this event.

Tickets go on sale May 16 at the Coliseum Cineplex in Phuket Town.

Film celebrity in Phuket

PR.com
Thai cinema’s top leading man Ananda Everingham enjoyed some well deserved R&R recently at Mom Tri’s Boathouse in Phuket.

Ananda enthuses, “I’ve been coming to the Boathouse for over 15 years and it feels like home to me…. Many of the staff have known me for a long time as I used to come together with my dad [Phuket Magazine founder John Everingham] while growing up.”

He says he is about to start filming a new project in the south of Thailand in a few days.

Violence in Bangkok

CNN
Two Thai police officers were killed and eight people injured in overnight violence that lasted into early yesterday morning in areas where anti-government protesters are camped out.

The first attack – a drive-by shooting in Bangkok’s business district – killed two police officers.

Later, early yesterday, several grenades were launched toward police and army troops guarding an area where protesters were camping in the capital. That attack injured eight.

Leaders of the anti-government protesters announced Tuesday that they had reached a deal with the government but said they would not end their demonstrations until the prime minister announces when he will dissolve parliament.

Red shirts divided

Christian Science Monitor
While Red Shirt leaders in Bangkok have agreed to a road map to reconciliation with the Thai premier, the protesters from the farms of northeast Thailand, a hotbed of antigovernment demonstrations, show no signs of backing down.

Although the Red Shirts have not officially agreed to end their marathon protest, one leader said they would leave tomorrow.

But in the northeast, a convoy of hundreds of pick-up trucks was due to leave Friday, part of a fresh influx from the rural heartland.

The mobilization may reflect divisions in the leadership. Ittichai Sriwongchai, a red-shirt organizer, says a decision was taken on Wednesday to ratchet up the pressure, declaring, “We need a knockout punch [to Prime Minister Abhisit].”

— Gazette Editors

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Archiving articles from the Phuket Gazette circa 1998 - 2017. View the Phuket Gazette online archive and Digital Gazette PDF Prints.

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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