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Phuket will lead recovery of Thai tourism

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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Phuket will lead recovery of Thai tourism | The Thaiger
Phuket NEWS Hound

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

PHUKET: The curent issue of Time magazine quotes Bill Heinecke, whose Minor group owns two hotels in Phuket, as emphasizing that Phuket and Hua Hin were among the many places in Thailand where “tourists were never in any danger and there were no problems” during the anti-government protests.

In a story headlined “Protests Not Expected to Hurt Thai Economy”, the magazine notes that fallout from the civil unrest is expected to be limited, with most economic analysts predicting a year of strong growth. Indeed, the Bank of Thailand announced on May 27 that GDP would still grow between 4.3% and 5.8% for the year, not far off the forecast by the World Bank before the violence began.

Exports are the primary driver of the Thai economy. They are expected this year to contribute a record-breaking 60-65% of GDP, nearly double their contribution in the late 1990s.

Tourism, while a major growth industry, has yet to achieve a double digit percentage in what it brings to GDP. In 2008, a boom year for Thai tourism, the sector contributed less than 8%. This year, by all accounts, it is expected to deliver something a bit over 6%, about one-tenth of the contribution of exports.

Time refers to it as a “small blessing” that the recent bloodshed took place during the low-tourism season, noting that industry executives are now hopeful confidence in the country as a holiday destination can be restored before the start of the high season in October.

With confidence in Phuket damaged far less than has been the case in Bangkok and the north of the country, it is not unreasonable to assume that Phuket will play a leading role in restoring tourism’s national health over the months ahead.

Curfew cut

AFP
Authorities have lifted a night-time curfew imposed 10 days ago in Bangkok and 23 other provinces after deadly anti-government protests, the prime minister said yesterday.

“The curfew will be lifted but the state of emergency will remain in place,” Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva told reporters.

He said security officials had proposed ending the measure “as the situation is under control.”

Thai army has too much power

Time magazine
This week’s most depressing statistic comes courtesy of an unnamed Thai government source which reveals that the military had been willing to kill “between 200 and 300 people” and injure “several thousand” in its May19-20 operation to storm the red shirt protest site in Bangkok.

Both Thai and international human rights activists, including the New-York based Human Rights Watch, have called for an independent inquiry to scrutinize the use of deadly force by both soldiers and armed red shirts.

PM Abhisit Vejjajiva is now engaged in two struggles: one against insurgents in the far south, the other against red shirts in the north and northeast. In both, he relies utterly upon the powerful Thai military, explaining his reluctance to offend the top brass by investigating the actions of their soldiers.

Tearful times for travel and tours

TTRWeekly
The Association of Thai Travel Agents (ATTA) reports that the number of tourists handled by Bangkok’s international airport thus far in May has dropped significantly.

By 20 May, agents had handled only 52,666 clients, compard with 100,168 clients for the entire month in 2009.

So far, ATTA members are ahead this year, having handled 917,224 international customers compared with 703,323 during the period 1 January to 31 May 2009.

Travel agents started to report drops in advance bookings in early April, with mass cancellations by mid-May as news of violent clashes was televised worldwide.

Advance bookings for June continue to fall and there are few if any signs of new bookings being generated for July, the ATTA says.

Traffic jamming Bali tourism

The Jakarta Globe
Bali’s all-important tourism sector is under threat as roads and facilities are lagging, officials warned recently.

Bali Governor Mangku Pastika has called for greater funding for infrastructure, in particular to ease the traffic jams gripping the more popular sites around the south of the island.

“Our concern is that one day Bali will cease to be a desirable destination, mainly because of the traffic jams, so resolving this problem must be a priority.”

Bali’s global profile is on the rise, with visitor numbers increasing by 21% last year. It is also set to host several high-profile events, including the 2013 Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit and the 2014 Miss World pageant.

— 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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