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Phuket locals alarmed by tsunami-tower silence

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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Phuket locals alarmed by tsunami-tower silence | The Thaiger
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PHUKET: Officials in Bangkok say all 19 tsunami warning towers in Phuket are operational and functioning correctly, yet some local residents say they haven’t heard the sirens sound for months.

The towers are supposed to be tested by playing the national anthem at regularly-scheduled times twice a month.

But Siriprapa Auychai, a 29-year-old masseuse who works at the south end of Patong Beach, told the Phuket Gazette that no one she knows has heard the tower near the bridge at the south end of the beach sound since about December last year.

“Actually, the towers need to be taken care of and need to be cleaned. They are located near to the beach, where they are prone to rust – but they are just being left,” she said.

The other two towers along Patong Beach appear to be operating normally, however.

A lounge chair operator working near the police box at the end of Bangla Road said he heard the anthem played on schedule on May 1, while two motorbike taxi drivers in front of Kalim School confirmed they heard the tower at the nearby Sunset Beach Resort sound at the same time.

Down in Karon, people report hearing a variety of sounds emitted from the tsunami warning tower in front of the Hilton Phuket Arcadia Resort & Spa Hotel, including the sound of crackling static.

Taxi drivers in front of the tower, one of two in Karon, said it had been months since they heard a recognizable noise from the tower.

“The last time we heard the national anthem played from the tower was about two months ago,” said Udomporn Jaipiang, 39.

“Sometimes I hear noises coming from the speakers that sound like an electrical short circuit inside,” he added.

“So we just keep an eye on the sea instead to see if a tsunami is actually coming,” he added.

The other warning tower in Karon, located near Karon Park near the Nong Harn Lake, also appears worse for wear.

“The speaker is rusty. I’ve heard that officials will fix it, but I haven’t seen any of them yet,” said one beach guard.

Despite these accounts, officials deny the warning towers are in need of repair.

San Jantharawong, chief of the Department of Disaster Prevention and Mitigation (DDPM-Phuket) that is responsible for maintaining the towers, told the Gazette, “The warning towers are tested by playing the national anthem on the 1st and 16th of every month.

“The towers still work. We have not received any reports otherwise, not from our own officers or from local authorities or from local residents.”

Chief San added that the National Disaster Warning Center (NDWC), which is responsible for issuing tsunami warnings, has confirmed that all 19 warning towers in the six Andaman provinces were operational.

NDWC Director Somsak Khaosuwan told the Gazette, “We have not received any complaints about the warning towers, which we regularly inspect.”

However, he added that the alarm currently used by the towers sounds the same as an ambulance siren or other emergency vehicle.

“This might confuse people, so we will change the alarm so people will instantly recognize what it is,” he said.

Director Somsak urged anyone who notices a tsunami warning tower in need of repair to report it by calling the NDWC hotline Tel: 192.

— Atchaa Khamlo

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

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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