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Phuket hoteliers seek solution to price-cutting woes

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Phuket hoteliers seek solution to price-cutting woes | The Thaiger
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PHUKET: In a bid to keep small hotels and guesthouses in Patong from falling into bankruptcy, a group called the Patong Hotel and Guesthouse Association (PHGA) is calling for hoteliers to end current price wars by agreeing to set minimum room prices.

The informal consortium of hoteliers wrote in its “Letter of Awareness Awaking” sent to members last week: “During the past high season, even on New Year’s Eve, several hotels where selling good rooms at 700 baht per night. This year, new hotels have opened up nearby and I am afraid that due to competition the prices will go even lower than that,” the statement read.

“If a solution is not found quickly, for the incoming high season this ‘war of prices’ will continue and even though the number of customers may increase, lower room prices will not be sufficient to cover all the costs and many hotels will face bankruptcy,” it warned.

The letter suggested adopting several “price seasons” and a basic framework for classifying standard rooms so that minimum prices could be agreed on by any hotel joining the campaign.

However, the letter also recognized the limited impact the campaign would have if only a few hotels took part. It also acknowledged that classifying and categorizing rooms would be a “difficult task”.

The PHGA listed a downturn in tourist arrivals, operating cost increases and the strengthening of the Thai baht as factors contributing to the crisis, but it identified the main culprit as oversupply.

According to the the most recent Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) figures, Patong has 14,821 rooms in 264 “accommodation establishments”, or about one-third of the total 43,036 rooms on the island.

“People do not come to Patong because the rooms cost 500 baht. They are coming anyway and they are used to paying more. It is the ‘war of prices’ between the hotels which has set the prices so low,” the letter read.

“Even though there is still an economic crisis in [the] USA and in Europe, a room for 1,000 baht is still a cheap room. But of course, if we sell it cheaper, anyone will be glad to pay as [little] as they can,” it continued.

Bert van Walbeek, chairman of the Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) Thailand Chapter, supported the call, but said the campaign was unlikely to garner wholesale support.

“I think working on this terrible price dumping that is happening everywhere is very good. It’s a sad story that the hotel rates in Thailand, including Phuket, are 30% less than anywhere else in Asia,” he said.

Creating better marketing awareness and sales training would be much more effective than setting certain rates, because implementing something like this in Thailand is ‘mission impossible’, he said.

Trying to establishing fixed minimum rates might also run into legal difficulties, he added.

Preechavude “Prap” Keesin, President of the Patong Taxi Federation and son of Patong Mayor Pian Keesin, agrees with the proposal.

“If this problem goes on, it may cause business operators to suffer and ruin confidence in investing in Patong,” Mr Prap said.

“The real problem is that oversupply has forced prices down, and I think it would be better if the prices were regulated,” he added.

Despite agreeing that a state of oversupply exists, Mr Prap’s Pisona Group last week reportedly took the first step towards applying for permission to build a new 744-unit resort across 20 rai high in the Patong hillsides. If completed, the project would be the largest on the island in terms of room numbers.

Phuket Chamber of Commerce (PCC) President Dr Sirichai Silapa-archa disagrees with minimum prices, arguing that the forces of supply and demand should be left alone.

“There should be a better solution. The problem is too many rooms and not enough customers. If prices were set [artificially] high, they wouldn’t sell and trade would go ‘underground’,” he said.

Suchart Hirankanokkul, President of the Thai Hotels Association (Southern Chapter), was also wary of the legality of such ‘price fixing’.

“Actually they cannot do that; it’s competition in the free market and without legal support there would be no way of making sure [PHGA] members cooperate,” he said.

What they should do is call a meeting and just ask for cooperation to stop the price war,” he said.

— Sittipong Nongkaew

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Thailand

Phuket police arrest 6 after finding large amounts of methamphetamine in raid

The Thaiger & The Nation

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Phuket police arrest 6 after finding large amounts of methamphetamine in raid | The Thaiger

Phuket Provincial Police have arrested 6 people after finding large amounts of methamphetamine and other drugs during a raid. One suspect alone allegedly had 7.6 kilograms of crystal meth (ya ice) and over 12,500 methamphetamine pills (ya bah). 29 year old Surasak ‘Bank’ Wijit and 27 year old Panida ‘Mei’ Saeyang were arrested at an apartment car park in Soi Lookkaew, Moo 6, Rassada, in eastern Phuket, after they were found in possession of the drugs.

Police also found 2 mobile phones and a red Honda PCX, registered in Phuket, as evidence. Both suspects have been charged with posessing a Category 1 drug with the intent to sell.

Other suspects arrested at the same time include 36 year old from Chiang Rai, 42 year old Sarawut ‘An’ Srichanon, from Ranong and 31 year old Pornthep ‘Iew’ Thepchampa, who were charged with the same crimes in Chalong after police found more drugs in their possession. 33 year old Kamon ‘Kung’ Sae-ngow, was arrested as well after police found kratom juice and leaves at a house in Rassada. He was taken to Phuket City Police station and was charged with a Category 5 drug possession.

SOURCE:The Phuket News

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Thailand

Phuket Muay Thai fighter is the first Thai national to compete in UFC

The Thaiger

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Phuket Muay Thai fighter is the first Thai national to compete in UFC | The Thaiger

The upcoming Ultimate Fighting Championship Fight Night event in Abu Dhabi will feature Thailand’s only national marking her third fight with the UFC, the world’s largest mixed martial arts competition. 24 year old Loma Lookboonme, from Burirram in northeastern Thailand, will fight in the event on October 3, 2020.

Loma is a Muay Thai fighter who has adapted her MMA skills to fight in the UFC where she currently trains at the Tiger Muay Thai gym in Phuket. Loma qualified for the national team at the age of 19 and has fought in over 12 nations worldwide. She currently trains 6 days a week starting daily at 6:30am with a 3 kilometre run. In the UFC, she will be competing against China’s Angela Lee who is the undisputed champion of the 52 kilogram fist weight category.

Phuket Muay Thai fighter is the first Thai national to compete in UFC | News by The Thaiger

Loma’s parents are former Muay Thai fighters and her 2 sisters currently compete as well. She reportedly started training at 8 years old after being inspired by her father, whom she describes as her “hero.”

Like most Thais in such fighting sports, Muay Thai offers a way to rise out of poverty-and fighting for the UFC can be financially lucrative. But Loma says her only Thai sponsor is the gym where she trains, with the rest of her sponsors being from foreign brands. She says she is trying to get more Thai sponsors but feels that maybe she needs to win the UFC first before Thai brands notice her.

Loma lost her last fight and says her new opponent gives her nothing to lose. She says her goal is to get into the Top 10, but is not sure when it will happen. Loma says for now, it would be good to fight against someone in the Top 10 to help her prepare for her future.

FULL INTERVIEW: Thisrupt.co

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Tourism

Phuket airport ready for tourists after finishing Covid screening labs

The Thaiger & The Nation

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Phuket airport ready for tourists after finishing Covid screening labs | The Thaiger

Phuket Airport is officially ready for tourists as authorities say they have finished installing Covid screening labs in an effort to welcome international travellers. The 5T Model for Covid-19 is being used at the airport with the goal of screening large groups of people in a quick and efficient manner. The Phuket health chief says the 5T’s stand for Target, Testing, Treating, Trusting and Tracing.

Phuket has one large airport at the north end of the island but is separated into two separate terminals – a domestic terminal (the original airport terminal), and a new international terminal opened in 2016.

The target category refers to the target groups of tourists while the tracing stands for software that will be used to monitor their movements. The testing category refers to Covid tests that will be implemented to travellers upon arrival along with the treatment and trust categories signifying the readiness of resources for medical treatment and confident communications between all parties respectively.

The Covid-19 lab container module has been set up at Phuket airport’s Terminal X (the terminal opened for charter flights opened in 2014) and will be tested tomorrow with its operation to start on September 30. As large groups of tourists could arrive (later in the year, the lab is reportedly capable of testing 96 people at a time with test results becoming available in 6 hours. What the airport would do withe tested passengers whilst waiting for 6 hours, has not been detailed at this stage.

Such a readiness plan to welcome foreign tourists originally singled out Phuket due to its popularity with travellers, and as a so-called guinea pig model to test in a controlled environment (Phuket is an island joined to the Thai mainland by a single 300 metre road bridge). Once dubbed the Phuket Model, authorities have proposed to rename the plan to “Special Tourist Visa” due to the confusion and opposition it reportedly caused. The scheme is reportedly now being proposed for all areas of Thailand but only allowing foreigners from specific countries.

SOURCE: Pattaya Mail

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