– A daily, pocket-sized packet of news from around the world, compiled by Phuket Gazette reporters for foreigners who want it short, sharp and straight to the point.
PHUKET: In what might look like an April Fools’ Day joke but isn’t, Thai Airways is increasing its domestic fares tomorrow in hopes that its passengers will be willing to underwrite the carrier’s ‘higher fuel costs’.
The Bangkok Post reports that the increases, set by the Civil Aviation Board, fall within a range of up to 13 baht per kilometer. The highest increment, 2,920 baht, is imposed against customers on the Chiangmai-Phuket route.
“We decided to raise fares because operations on most domestic routes remain loss-ridden,” said airline President Piyasvasti Amranand. Specifically, an ‘economy’ class ticket on the 696km Bangkok-Phuket route will rise a whopping 46%, from 2,575 to 3,770 baht.
But not to be outdone, the 1,263km Chiangmai-Phuket run is boasting a 64% hike, from 4,535 to 7,455 baht.
The airline says its international fares, governed by stiff competition from major world carriers, remain unchanged.
Beach threat for Phuket
The Malay Mail
When planning a holiday in Thailand, the first thing that comes to most people’s minds is places like Phuket, Krabi and Koh Samui. However, there are many other choices that holidaymakers often fail to see.
The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) recently organized a media and travel agent familiarization trip to the ‘Ample Moon Festival’ in Nakhon Sri Thammarat, which is also home to some of the most beautiful beaches in Thailand, situated in Khanom District. The beaches here are proof that there is more to Thailand than just Koh Samui and Phuket. Many of them remain unspoiled and provide complete privacy.
Among the attractions offered by these beaches are ‘pancake rocks’, pink dolphins and Ample Moon parties.
Phuket’s beaches in recent years have been threatened by pollution, the noise and dangers of jet-skis, and, most recently, the complete absence of lifeguards.
US Healthcare may affect Phuket
Asia Times Online
The long-awaited United States healthcare reform package became law last week, and may affect Thailand’s medical tourism industry, much of which is based in Phuket.
Thai hospitals treating American medical travellers will have to wait longer to see whether the bill will have a significant impact on their businesses, but US insurers will feel the reforms’ impact more quickly, and that could lead them to look more closely at international options.
“Greater coverage for more Americans presumably would mean fewer Americans would need to travel abroad for care,” Bangkok Hospital’s international marketing manager Judy Mitchell said. Uninsured and under-insured Americans are at present the primary market for medical travel in Thailand, which now has to focus on cosmetic surgery and attracting US insurance companies to outsource their surgeries.
Medical tourism in Phuket to date has been focused primarily on Lasik eye procedures, cosmetic and ‘gender reassignment’ surgery, and dental care.
Who’s behind the bomb attacks?
The numerous bomb attacks in Bangkok have raised suspicions as to who is responsible. The attacks have been aimed at places that were symbolic enemies of fugitive former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, now patriarch of the red-shirted protesters. However, if the red shirts were responsible, it seems almost too obvious a list of targets.
Furthermore, certain incidents, such as the grenade fired into the 11th Infantry Regiment Headquarters on Saturday night, gave the government justification to threaten to impose martial law inside the compound ahead of a planned red-shirt demonstration there.
It could also be ‘the other side’ wanting to frame the red shirts, or the red shirts wanting to look like they are being framed. Or it could be a third party wanting to undermine the government; or it could be a third party wanting to undermine the red shirts.
Last but not least, it could be all of the above.
Thaksin assets will be seized
National News Bureau of Thailand
Comptroller General Department Director General Pongpanu Svetarunda is prepared to seize 46.3 billion baht in assets of Thailand’s run-away former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra after receiving a document from related authorities enabling the department to do so.
Mr Pongpanu says his department is prepared to audit assets and all bank accounts of Thaksin, which would be seized by the Ministry of Finance following a rumor of cash withdrawal by members of the Shinawatra family.
Finance Minister Korn Chatikavanij earlier disclosed a report that Thaksin family members had gradually withdrawn about 0.8 to 1.0 billion baht in cash from their deposits in commercial banks. However, there is no report of large overseas money transfers.
On January 26, 2010, Thailand’s Supreme Court ruled to confiscate 46.3 billion baht out of 76 billion in Thaksin family assets as recompense for Thaksin’s abuse of power to facilitate his own business interests.
— Gazette Editors
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