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Phuket to host Asian bike tour

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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Phuket to host Asian bike tour | The Thaiger
Phuket NEWS Hound

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

PHUKET: SpiceRoads Cycle Tours has launched an epic journey for cyclists – a 3,000 kilometer bicycle tour from Hanoi to Phuket. Riding through Vietnam, Laos and Thailand, the organizers say it will take 39 days to complete this “trip of a lifetime.”

The departure date is September 19, 2010 and the cost is US$7,500. Anyone booking by May 15 will receive a US$1,000 discount.

The tour company says the best natural and cultural wonders of Southeast Asia will be a part of the cycling adventure.

In addition to “stunning mountains, jutting limestone karsts, spectacular waterfalls, serene rivers and bountiful beaches,” the tour visits the UNESCO World Heritage sites of Luang Prabang, Sukhothai, Khampeng Phet and Ayutthaya, and cycling through a myriad of colourful ethnic hill tribe villages.

Angry Britons at Bangkok airport

Daily Mail
Hundreds of angry and frightened Britons left stranded in Thailand by the volcanic dust cloud nearly caused a riot at Bangkok International Airport (Suvarnaphumi) yesterday as they battled for plane seats out.

Many have been sleeping rough on cardboard mats at for days, since non-European airlines have declined to offer customers any hotel accommodation, which must be offered by air carriers under EU regulations.

These problems have been exacerbated by the violent ongoing street protests which have led The Foreign and Commonwealth Office to urge people to avoid Bangkok. The Office has elevated Thailand to the No 1 destination from which to repatriate British tourists.

An estimated 350 Britons surged around check-in desks shouting “Tell us the truth!” and “Get us out of here!” after they were refused permission to board flights. One British official described the scene as “like the last days of saigon”.

Peter Holley, from Ashford, Middlesex, said: “We have been stuck here since Saturday last week. Thai Airways tells us nothing. They don’t tell their staff anything, and the check-in girls have been reduced to tears….

“We queue for stand-by and they give us pieces of paper, [like] promissory notes, saying we will be on the next flight, and then it does not happen. There is no method in the system at all. People are going crazy.”

Bleak outlook for tourism

MCOT
Thailand’s beleaguered tourism industry sank deeper into disrepair as it became even more seriously affected by the grenade attacks in Silom Road on Thursday night, according to the Federation of Thai Tourism Associations (FETTA).

Apichart Sankary, a FETTA committee member, said the incident upped the number of foreign tourists who cancelled their trips for fear of the violence.

FETTA had earlier estimated that if the political turmoil were to continue, the number of travellers to Thailand would fall by 2-2.5 million because tourists have lost confidence in Thailand’s safety measures.

Due to the escalating tension, Mr Apichart said that it would be hard to believe that there will actually be 15 million visitors travelling to Thailand this year as the government had previously predicted. He said he thinks that reaching even 10 million visitors will not be easy now.

Red shirt discord

Bangkok Post
Red Shirt leaders in Bangkok tried yesterday to calm their fellow protesters, some of whom were angry over the leaders’ offer on Friday of negotiations with the government and PM Abhisit Vejjajiva’s noncommittal response.

“Don’t insult our Red Shirts’ olive branch. We offered a compromise to avoid further loss of people’s lives,” said Kwanchai Praipana at the protest camp.

Jaran Ditsatapichai added: “The new proposal does not mean we are retreating…If we shut down the door for negotiation it will be bad for us,” reiterating as well that foreign diplomats had put pressure on the Red Shirt leaders to find a solution to avoid a looming crackdown.

Jaran said the military was reluctant to disperse the rally, and that a likely violent and deadly crackdown would be shelved during the current negotiating phase.

Friendly Football: England vs Thailand

Goal.com
Thailand has announced that England will visit Bangkok in June 2011 for a friendly football match.

Football Association of Thailand (FAT) president Worawi Makudi says that Lord Triesman, head of the English FA, and Premier League chairman Sir David Richards have agreed to make the trip.

“It will be a great honour for Thailand to play England. I am sure that it will be a great match for Thai fans,” said Worawi, who is a member of FIFA’s Executive Committee.

Thailand’s national team, coached by former England captain Bryan Robson, recently just missed out on qualification for the 2011 Asian Cup.

— Gazette Editors

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Crime

Phuket police arrest meth dealer, discover drugs valued at 15 million baht

The Thaiger & The Nation

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Phuket police arrest meth dealer, discover drugs valued at 15 million baht | The Thaiger

PHOTO: Newshawk Phuket

Drugs valued at 15 million baht have been seized in a drug crackdown in Phuket. On October 22, Phuket police, along with Phuket Governor Pakkapong Tawipat, reported to the media about a drug crackdown that ended up with a total seizure valued around 15 million baht.

Earlier, the police received a report from an undercover agent that a woman named ‘Ying’ or ‘Suthicha Thirawut’ was a local drug dealer trading drugs in Phuket area, so police planned to purchase drugs from the woman. They contacted Ying through another woman named ‘Noina’, Ying’s close friend. Around 10pm on October 20, police bought 1 gram of crystal methamphetamine from Noina before arresting Ying and another man, Thanet Thongtan, at the Naka Condominium.

The two confessed that they receive the drug from a man who they weren’t able to name, in order to sell in Phuket. They were paid 40,000 – 50,000 baht per time and admitted to police that they have done this for the man three times already. This time, the drugs hadn’t been sold to customers as they were arrested before being able to make a sale.

Apart from 2.4 kilograms of crystal methamphetamine, valued around 4.8 million baht, the police also discovered 76,800 methamphetamine pills, worth around 11 million baht.

The three are now assisting Phuket police with their enquires related to the case.

SOURCE: Newshawk Phuket

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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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