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Phuket packaged in smiles by Nok

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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Phuket packaged in smiles by Nok | Thaiger
Phuket NEWS Hound

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

PHUKET: Nok Air has relaunched its Smile Packages to Phuket, but this time they are grouped into categories — ‘Free and Easy’, Adventure’, ‘Discovery’ and ‘Sightseeing’. The promotion is valid until September 30.

According to TTR Weekly, the packages are based on a three-day/two-night itinerary, inclusive of return airfare to/from Bangkok, hotel accommodation, meals, airport transfer by limousine, and one activity. The basic Phuket package is priced at 4,900 baht. Prices rise as activities are added.

For example, travellers to Phuket can add snorkelling at Phi Phi Island, Maya Bay and Khai Island for an all-in price of 6,750 baht. Or they can opt for diving diving off Racha Yai Island in Phuket with a Smile Package priced at 9,400 baht. If they wish to add golf, the package rises to 14,650 baht.

In addition to Phuket, the airline is offering Smile Packages to Chiang Mai for a basic price of 4,750 baht, and to Phitsanulok starting at 4,450 baht.

Phuket tourism ‘exceptionally strong’?

Property Showrooms
Phuket people may be pleased to hear that Thailand is experiencing strong bookings once again, a tour operator has suggested.

Hayes and Jarvis say that despite all the recent troubles experienced in Thailand, the availability of cheap flights has contributed to an upturn in tourism.

Neil Alobaidi, commercial director for the global tour operator explains that there are some good deals for holidaymakers to take advantage of in the long-haul holiday market.

“While the political instability definitely dented bookings in the short term, while the country was hitting the headlines, Thailand has now turned the corner and bookings for Phuket and Koh Samui are exceptionally strong,” says Mr. Alobaidi.

His comments come after the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) announced that it would be running a range of promotional strategies to tempt visitors back to Phuket and seven other key tourist destinations.

Official figures show that there was a 6.8 per cent decline in visitor numbers in June, compared to last year.

Phuket to see more Russians

TTR Weekly
Pegas Touristik, a Russian tour operator, plans to increase its charter flights from points in Russia to Phuket and Bangkok during the up-coming winter season. It estimates it can sell Thailand tours to 4,500 tourists a week.

The Tourism Authority of Thailand estimates the Russian market will grow by at least 30% this year.

Phuket has wittnessed a substantial rise not only in Russian tourism over the past three years, but also in the number of homes purchased and businesses established by Russians.

Pegas Touristik’s deputy general manager, Abdullah Cankaya, told TTR Weekly that during the coming winter season the company plans to operate three charter flights a day – one to Phuket and two to Bangkok – from cities in Russia. They will 215-seat Boeing 757s for the service.

If the flights are fully booked, they will bring to Thailand 4,515 Russians a week, Mr Abdullah says.

“Last season, we faced some difficulties due to [the] demonstrations in Bangkok. We reduced flights, but we did not stop bringing in people like some of the European operators. We believe that if you support a country in bad times, you will benefit during good times,” he said.

Prehistoric discoveries in Thailand

The New York Times
In Thailand, when the rains come and the rivers swell, giant bones tend to wash up in Baan Nakum, a remote rice-farming corner of the Kingdom.

It turns out that the creatures of prehistory, like the tourists of today, found certain parts of Thailand very hospitable. Now their bones are scattered amongst the rice paddies of those areas.

Paleontologists say that the Khorat Plateau of northeastern Thailand was teeming with dinosaurs starting about 200 million years ago (Bangkok was under the sea at the time), and that the proof is in the frequency with which villagers find dinosaur bones and other fossils.

“Sometimes we discover three or four new sites with dinosaur bones in a single month,” said Preechit Phulanpree, an assistant geologist at a local dinosaur museum. “Usually we find the bones stuck in a riverbank.”

‘Rehab tourism’ growing in Thailand

TAT News
Now public figures can escape prying eyes by retreating to Thailand where they can discreetly overcome addictions with their dignity intact.

“People come to Thailand for anonymity,” says Wade Dupuis of Channah Thailand, a drug and alcohol rehabilitation retreat in Kanchanaburi Province. “You can avoid the stigma of rehab by saying you simply went on holiday. We get clients from all over the world — a lot from the Middle East, a few from the UK and America, and many expats living in Asia.”

“In the last 18 months, we’ve had clients from 24 different countries across four continents,” says Stephen Russell of Breathing Space Thailand in Chiang Mai. “This programme really does have international appeal.”

Thailand already enjoys international acclaim for superb medical and spa services. Over the last five years holistic wellness, detoxification and weight loss programmes have grown fast, both in terms of popularity and accessibility, and drug and alcohol rehabilitation services are springing up off the back of this sector.

Thailand now hosts a number of centres that offer Hollywood-style services and expert treatments that have attracted celebrities, politicians, business people and professionals from around the world.

Laos to verify migrants in Thailand

Earth Times
Laotian labour officials plan to be in Thailand next week to identify tens of thousands of labourers working there, legally and illegally, news reports said yesterday.

The team is to stay for an unspecified time to identify an estimated 62,000 Lao nationals who have registered in Thailand for legal status under the two governments’ Nationality Verification Programme (NVP), the Vientiane Times reported.

The officials were originally scheduled to be in Thailand in February but postponed their trip, citing planned anti-government protests in Bangkok that began on March 12, lasted two months and prompted clashes that left 90 dead.

An estimated 200,000 Lao nationals work in Thailand, and nearly a third have applied for legal status under the NVP.

— Gazette Editors

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Chiang Mai

Tourism officials slash Songkran travel expectations by half

Tim Newton

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Tourism officials slash Songkran travel expectations by half | Thaiger

The TAT, ever the optimists regarding anything tourism related, even domestic tourism, predict that the Bangkok clusters that have emerged in the week before the Songkran break could reduce traffic and spending by up to half.

Today the CCSA is reporting 789 new infections and one additional death. 522 were local infections, mostly walk-ins to Bangkok hospitals, 259 were discovered through track and tracing. The remaining 8 were found in quarantine from overseas arrivals. In Phuket, another 17 cases have been reported today, taking the island’s week total to 43.

Tourism officials slash Songkran travel expectations by half | News by ThaigerGRAPH: Worldometer figures for Thailand, up to April 9

A 68 year old man from Nakhon Pathom province died on April 4 but wasn’t reported until today. The CCSA report that he died from Covid and “complications”. 33 other former patients have recovered and been discharged.

Last week the TAT estimated 3.2 million domestic trips would circulate 12 billion baht for the Thai economy. But the Tourism Authority has now slashed their estimates by half after hotels, airlines and bus companies reported mass cancellations in the last few days. Other provinces are reporting less than 20% cancellations. Although this weekend will see a lot of travel, Songkran doesn’t formally start until next Tuesday and the TAT expect there could be additional fallout as travellers decide to have a staycation for Songkran instead heading home.

Bangkok Post reports that 70% of travellers to Prachuap Khiri Khan and Hua Hin have already cancelled hotel bookings. Similar cancellations have been reported in Pattaya, Phuket and Chiang Mai. Many other provinces, particularly in the north east and north, are also enforcing quarantine on arrivals or additional paperwork to try and protect their provinces from any of the Bangkok clusters.

8 north eastern provinces rare now requiring 10 or 14 day quarantine periods for anyone arriving from areas where new clusters have been reported. Chiang Mai provincial officials say that tourists from Samut Prakan, Nakhon Pathom, Bangkok, Pathum Thani and Nonthaburi – basically Bangkok and surrounding provinces – must complete a 14 day mandatory quarantine or conduct a test for Covid when they arrive.

The reality is that the travel and quarantine changes are outstripping the ability to communicate them all. Anyone crossing into other provinces in the next few day, especially if you’re travelling from Bangkok and surrounding provincial ‘red zones’ can expect some additional paperwork or a Covid test. Or even quarantine.

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Education

Phuket student protests and is flunked as “not loyal to the nation”

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Phuket student protests and is flunked as “not loyal to the nation” | Thaiger
FILE PHOTO: Student protests led to one student not graduating due to being “not loyal to the nation, institution of the monarchy”

After participating in protests for student’s rights, a Phuket student was barred from graduating 9th grade, moving from middle school to high school, charged with being “not loyal to the nation, institution of the monarchy”. The student had advocated against mandatory uniforms and for student’s liberties. He told reporters that the school started paying attention to his actions last year when he participated in rallies in solidarity with students across Thailand. The school’s student affairs office received a copy of posts he made on social media encouraging others to join the cause. The school ordered a stop to his political actions, but he and his friends disregarded warnings and violated school rules when they handed out white ribbons to classmates. They received a warning from the student affairs office.

Student protests have increased after pro-democracy demonstrations surged in July last year, empowering many Thai people to speak out against injustices, including students’ rights and liberties. People from schools across the nation have been banding together in solidarity to bring their issues to public light.

On graduation day, all the students were promoted into high school, except for the one student protestor, says the Bad Student protest group. The theme of the day focused on dedication to the monarchy, country and religion, and specifically how students should be obedient. The student said he has received support from friends, but his parents remain neutral and his teachers have been completely silent on the matter. He is frustrated that he was punished for his right to express himself. He plans on testing with incoming students to re-enrol in the same school, and if he is not accepted because of the disloyalty charge, he will pursue legal ramifications, suing the school for blocking his right to an education over the student’s protests.

The student believes he needs to speak out to prevent school administrators from imposing on more students’ rights. He advocates for diversity in schools and ending prejudices, with increased liberties and freedoms for students.

“Schools must teach children to be able to think by themselves, not force children to think like them. Schools should create opportunities for students to express their ideas more freely.”

SOURCE: Prachatai

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

16 more Covid infections reported today in Phuket

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16 more Covid infections reported today in Phuket | Thaiger
iTrip.com

Phuket is reporting 16 more infections today. It follows visits from Bangkok and last weekend’s Kolour Beachside parties that have resulted in a number of new Covid infections. The number of new infections has reached 26. But deputy governor Vikrom Jakthee says the province has been successful in containing the new outbreak “due to its quick response measures which now include shuttering bars and nightlife venues.

One of the confirmed cases is a male teacher from Headstart International School in Kathu who, after attending the parties on the weekend, was back teaching students on Monday and Tuesday. The school has sent a letter to all parents advising them of the situation and organising testing for anyone who may have come in contact with the teacher.

The closure order in Phuket comes just as the island province was expecting to get an influx of visitors for Songkran, the Thai New Year. Many bar and club owners were expecting some increased traffic during the holiday week. Phuket officials say they will explain to bar and club owners why they decided to close the venues during the critical week for business.

Vikrom previously cited the start of the island’s Covid vaccine roll-out of Covid starting to head towards a herd immunity in time for the province’s proposed July reopening to international tourists. But he admitted that the sudden appearance of the coronavirus on the island again will force officials to reevaluate the schedule for reopening. He also said that almost all cases were in younger age groups of people in their 20s and 30s.

“Today, the number of infected people reported in Phuket has reached 26, many are from entertainment venues. This figure is relatively high. It jumped from 10 to 26 cases. We will invite operators of entertainment places in for discussions.”

Partygoers who went to any of the Kolour Beachside parties in Phuket last weekend are being asked to visit a local hospital for a Covid test. The parties hosted more than 3,000 people, drawing concern after a musician tested positive for Covid-19, having attended all 3 parties. The Phuket Provincial Government and Phuket Provincial Public Health Office released a statement yesterday advising all partygoers to get tested.

“Those who attended the Kolour parties from April 2 to 3 at Shelter Phuket Dance & Night Club in Patong, Cafe Del Mar Phuket in Kamala and Illuzion nightclub on Bangla Road in Patong are asked to get tested.”

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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