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Phuket land issues to be reported “direct to PM’

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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Phuket land issues to be reported “direct to PM’ | The Thaiger
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PHUKET: Encroachment on protected forest land and illegal land ownership were the top two issues identified by a panel of specialists who recently conducted a fact-finding tour of Phuket, Phang Nga and Krabi.

The panel of five from the National Coordinating Center for Special Security reports to the Internal Security Operations Command (ISOC), which will report its findings directly to the Prime Minister’s Office.

“We have identified the problems regarding forest encroachment and illegal land ownership and we will report these problems to – and coordinate with – the relevant agencies,” said Lt Gen Akanant Ratanasopar, the center’s director.

“We will also report the problems for acknowledgment by the Prime Minister so we can then discuss possible solutions. As ISOC operates under the Office of the Prime Minister, the problems will be reported promptly when we return [to Bangkok],” Lt Gen Akanant said.

On the fact-finding team was Phoppol Sirilugsanapong, who is the head of the Natural Resources Division of the Phuket Natural Resource and Environment Office.

Mr Phoppol identified the lack of consistent policy as one of the main issues hindering enforcement of land rights.

“The [central] government should be clear about forest policy, but the problem we have found is that the policy changes with each government,” he said.

Degraded forest land permitted to be used for other purposes was another problem.

“They should allow us to specify the location and amount of land to be reserved as a forest area. They should not change their minds and allow land with degraded forest to be used for other purposes.

“No matter how bad the land is, we should take measures to recover and rejuvenate it. We should improve decaying forest areas by growing plants. If we give up our decaying forest land to others, we will have no more land on which to grow trees,” Mr Phoppol said.

“We have to follow the policy of the current government, but it is hard for us to take action when there is no consistency,” he added.

He cited the differences between land usage rights under the SorPorKor system versus “Community Chanote” titles.

SorPorKor deeds are issued to allow those with low incomes to occupy and farm – but not own – state land.

“Community Chanote” titles, however, are issued so villagers can maintain their right to live on communal land that no particular individual owns.

“The government should make clear exactly where SorPorKor should be issued so we can ensure land is used appropriately,” Mr Phoppol said.

Chaloemkiat Susakorn, fellow team member and a specialist at the Forestry Department, said encroachment was widespread in Phuket, with both local residents and “influential people” engaging in the activity.

The team discovered most cases of encroachment fell into two categories: illegal issuance of land deeds; and using land for purposes not permitted under a legally issued deed.

SorPorKor and NorSor 3 are the most commonly misused type of deed.

“Local authorities must enforce proper use of land. For example, if a title permits only agricultural use of hillside land, the holder should not be allowed to build a resort on it,” he said.

Mr Chaloemkiat warned that those who construct on land where it is not permitted will face “problems” in the future.

“For those who have title deeds that were issued illegally, it is our job to investigate and reclaim that land,” he said plainly.

“We will need to collaborate with many agencies to solve this problem, especially the Land Department. We will be taking aerial photographs of areas under investigation and supply these to a court with the view of revoking ownership,” he added.

— Janpen Upatising

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Tourism

Thai-Chinese Chamber of Commerce to propose Guangzhou-Phuket tourism route

Caitlin Ashworth

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Thai-Chinese Chamber of Commerce to propose Guangzhou-Phuket tourism route | The Thaiger
PHOTO: 77 kaoded

A tourism route from Guangzhou, China to Phuket could help the island province recover from the recession brought on by the pandemic and lack of foreign travel, according to the Thai-Chinese Chamber of Commerce. The president of the organisation, Narongsak Puttapornmongkol, says they plan to submit a letter proposing the route under a travel bubble scheme to the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration.

The Thai-Chinese Chamber of Commerce is proposing a travel bubble with around 20 cities in China with no recent coronavirus infections and considered to be at a low risk of spreading the virus. Travellers from Guangzhou recently entered Thailand on the new Special Tourist Visa. It was the second flight of international tourists since travel restrictions were imposed in late-March.

“We believe that the Travel Bubble and the quarantine reduction will resolve the tourism business, which is a huge economic opportunity to recover.”

Once a vaccine is widely available, Narongsak suggests that those who wish to Thailand could also present their vaccination certificate or examination reports from the place of origin. He adds that the mandatory state quarantine period is likely to be reduced.

SOURCE: Pattaya News

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Phuket officials concerned about virus risk from undocumented migrant workers

Maya Taylor

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Phuket officials concerned about virus risk from undocumented migrant workers | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Wikimedia

The discovery that 3 Thai nationals infected with Covid-19 returned from Myanmar and bypassed health checks and quarantine, has officials in Phuket on high alert. Over the weekend, it was discovered that a 29 year old Thai woman had illegally crossed from Myanmar and subsequently tested positive for Covid-19 after admitting herself to a Chiang Mai hospital. 2 other women who worked with her have also tested positive for the virus.

Phuket’s deputy governor, Pichet Panapong, says news of the 3 infected Thai women who managed to enter Thailand without undergoing any health checks or mandatory quarantine, has officials on the southern island worried. He adds that local authorities are monitoring Burmese workers, calling on them to follow disease control measures if returning to Phuket from Myanmar. (It would appear he missed the bit about the 3 infected women being Thai, not Burmese)

In a report in the Bangkok Post, Pichet says officials are considering setting up a quarantine facility for any migrant workers already in Phuket illegally, adding that of the 59,900 registered migrant workers on the island, 80% are Burmese. The Thailand/Myanmar border is longer than 2,000 kilometres with hundreds of official and “natural” border crossings.

“People can also act as eyes and ears for the authorities. If they find something suspicious in their communities, they should alert immigration police or local police.”

Phuket has 21 alternative quarantine properties, offering over 2,500 rooms in total, but arrival numbers are low. It’s understood that only 11 people have applied to enter Phuket in the period December 4 – 12, and so far, only a single application has been received for January. There are currently 726 people in local quarantine, 20 in alternative local quarantine, and 4 people carrying out yacht quarantine. Since Phuket agreed to receive foreign-registered yachts, 6 vessels have entered its waters, with all passengers and crew carrying out quarantine on board, 6 kilometres from shore.

Pichet says that, at a meeting of the communicable disease control committee, the Thai Yachting Business Association submitted a proposal to manage cruise ships, and officials have also received a request to extend the opening hours of shopping malls over the New Year holiday.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Re-opening Thailand to tourism will be vaccine dependent

Bill Barnett

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Re-opening Thailand to tourism will be vaccine dependent | The Thaiger

Bill Barnett from c9hotelworks.com continues to follow the difficult journey of the Thai hospitality industry. Traditionally, now would be the start of the country’s highly profitable high season for the tourism industry. But not this year. Thai hotels find themselves in the middle of an existential crisis – either still closed, only partly open, or one of the few converted to limited ASQ traffic. The situation is dire, when you consider that between 15-20% of Thailand’s GDP is linked to tourism.

In a speech this week Thailand’s Prime Minster Prayut Chan-o-cha spoke clearly that only when a vaccine is approved, produced, and implemented, would the country open to substantial tourism. Given the current timelines and forecasts, this may not be likely until mid-2021 at the earliest, though subject to advancement if the process could be accelerated, which is unlikely.

For tourism and hotel stakeholders, the writing is on the wall that 2021, for the most part, will see a continued reliance on domestic travellers, and only in 2022 will there be a large-scale return in numbers of overseas visitors.

Given the winter spike in Asia, Europe, and North America of Covid-19, Thailand is not alone in relying on the vaccine to return tourism but the process will not be instant and the re-openings of borders will most certainly be staged.

HERE’s a list of 113 Alternative State Quarantine hotels.

The business reality for Phuket and across Thailand is to plan for the worst in the coming six months and only expect 2022 to see a notable uptick.

Currently, the hotel sector continues to advocate to the Thai government and Central Bank for debt and financing relief measures and assistance in a social security supplement to retain staff.

While it’s negative news, it at least allows for hotels to understand the challenges ahead, plan and adjust their operating models going forward. ‘Survive the downturn’ is the new mantra.

No vaccine, no entry. Read more HERE.

No vaccine, no flight. Read more HERE.

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