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Phuket tour companies wary of national park admission fee hike

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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Phuket tour companies wary of national park admission fee hike | The Thaiger
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PHUKET: Many Phuket tour and dive companies are waiting to see how the final confirmation of the significant hike in national park fees will affect their businesses.

The Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation (DNP) announced that the entrance cost at many popular national parks in Thailand would see their first jump in a decade starting January 1.

“Although I understand that the insufficient budget for park management and maintenance has forced the DNP to increase the entrance fees, I am worried that it will affect our services. We will have to charge our customers more for the diving packages for some national marine parks,” one dive operator who asked not to be named explained to the Phuket Gazette today.

The current proposed increase in fees for Thai adults is 40 baht to 100 baht, while the cost for Thai children will jump from 20 to 50 baht. Adult foreigners will see a 20 per cent increase as the park fees go from 400 to 500 baht, while the fee for foreign children will rise from 200 to 300 baht, DNP officer Apinya Mingkwan confirmed to the Gazette.

However, the exact numbers are still tentative, explained Ms Apinya.

In addition to proposing the increases in park fees the DNP, as of September 1, has cancelled the one-day national park ticket, which allowed tourists to visit multiple national parks with a single ticket, Ms Apinya added.

Some tour operators, including Juthamart Supharak from Phuket Tour Holiday Company, do not anticipate the increase in the fees to having a significant affect.

“We don’t want to charge our customers more, but if the increase really happens, then we will just need to explain the situation to them,” Ms Juthamart said. “I don’t think we will have a problem with the fee hike because our tour packages are not that expensive, so even if we add another 100 baht it is still acceptable.

However, she added, “I would be very glad for this money to go towards improving the parks.”

Director of the National Parks Office Vithya Hongvienchan also does not expect the increase in the fees to affect the number of tourists visiting Thailand’s national parks.

“Thailand’s national park fees are very low compared to those in other countries, such as European countries, the US or even Cambodia. I believe that we will still see an increase in the number of tourists visiting our parks,” Mr Vithya told the Gazette.

“Generally, the DNP distributes about 10 million baht per park annually to pay park rangers and for park maintenance. However, costs of maintenance has been increasing every year, especially due to water-treatment systems in the parks,” he said.

“The income generated from the increased admission fees will be used to maintain and develop the park,” he added.

The increase in fees is planned to affect eight parks in the North, four in the Northeast, three in the East, four in the West and 10 in the South of Thailand.

The Southern parks to be affected are: Khao Sok and Mu Ko Ang Thong in Surat Thani; Tarnboke Koranee, Koh Lanta and Nopparattara Beach in Krabi; the Similan Islands, Surin Islands and Ao Phang Nga in Phang Nga; Hat Chao Mai in Trang; and Tarutao in Satun.

— Orawin Narabal

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Thailand

Phuket police arrest 6 after finding large amounts of methamphetamine in raid

The Thaiger & The Nation

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Phuket police arrest 6 after finding large amounts of methamphetamine in raid | The Thaiger

Phuket Provincial Police have arrested 6 people after finding large amounts of methamphetamine and other drugs during a raid. One suspect alone allegedly had 7.6 kilograms of crystal meth (ya ice) and over 12,500 methamphetamine pills (ya bah). 29 year old Surasak ‘Bank’ Wijit and 27 year old Panida ‘Mei’ Saeyang were arrested at an apartment car park in Soi Lookkaew, Moo 6, Rassada, in eastern Phuket, after they were found in possession of the drugs.

Police also found 2 mobile phones and a red Honda PCX, registered in Phuket, as evidence. Both suspects have been charged with posessing a Category 1 drug with the intent to sell.

Other suspects arrested at the same time include 36 year old from Chiang Rai, 42 year old Sarawut ‘An’ Srichanon, from Ranong and 31 year old Pornthep ‘Iew’ Thepchampa, who were charged with the same crimes in Chalong after police found more drugs in their possession. 33 year old Kamon ‘Kung’ Sae-ngow, was arrested as well after police found kratom juice and leaves at a house in Rassada. He was taken to Phuket City Police station and was charged with a Category 5 drug possession.

SOURCE:The Phuket News

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Thailand

Phuket Muay Thai fighter is the first Thai national to compete in UFC

The Thaiger

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Phuket Muay Thai fighter is the first Thai national to compete in UFC | The Thaiger

The upcoming Ultimate Fighting Championship Fight Night event in Abu Dhabi will feature Thailand’s only national marking her third fight with the UFC, the world’s largest mixed martial arts competition. 24 year old Loma Lookboonme, from Burirram in northeastern Thailand, will fight in the event on October 3, 2020.

Loma is a Muay Thai fighter who has adapted her MMA skills to fight in the UFC where she currently trains at the Tiger Muay Thai gym in Phuket. Loma qualified for the national team at the age of 19 and has fought in over 12 nations worldwide. She currently trains 6 days a week starting daily at 6:30am with a 3 kilometre run. In the UFC, she will be competing against China’s Angela Lee who is the undisputed champion of the 52 kilogram fist weight category.

Phuket Muay Thai fighter is the first Thai national to compete in UFC | News by The Thaiger

Loma’s parents are former Muay Thai fighters and her 2 sisters currently compete as well. She reportedly started training at 8 years old after being inspired by her father, whom she describes as her “hero.”

Like most Thais in such fighting sports, Muay Thai offers a way to rise out of poverty-and fighting for the UFC can be financially lucrative. But Loma says her only Thai sponsor is the gym where she trains, with the rest of her sponsors being from foreign brands. She says she is trying to get more Thai sponsors but feels that maybe she needs to win the UFC first before Thai brands notice her.

Loma lost her last fight and says her new opponent gives her nothing to lose. She says her goal is to get into the Top 10, but is not sure when it will happen. Loma says for now, it would be good to fight against someone in the Top 10 to help her prepare for her future.

FULL INTERVIEW: Thisrupt.co

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Tourism

Phuket airport ready for tourists after finishing Covid screening labs

The Thaiger & The Nation

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Phuket airport ready for tourists after finishing Covid screening labs | The Thaiger

Phuket Airport is officially ready for tourists as authorities say they have finished installing Covid screening labs in an effort to welcome international travellers. The 5T Model for Covid-19 is being used at the airport with the goal of screening large groups of people in a quick and efficient manner. The Phuket health chief says the 5T’s stand for Target, Testing, Treating, Trusting and Tracing.

Phuket has one large airport at the north end of the island but is separated into two separate terminals – a domestic terminal (the original airport terminal), and a new international terminal opened in 2016.

The target category refers to the target groups of tourists while the tracing stands for software that will be used to monitor their movements. The testing category refers to Covid tests that will be implemented to travellers upon arrival along with the treatment and trust categories signifying the readiness of resources for medical treatment and confident communications between all parties respectively.

The Covid-19 lab container module has been set up at Phuket airport’s Terminal X (the terminal opened for charter flights opened in 2014) and will be tested tomorrow with its operation to start on September 30. As large groups of tourists could arrive (later in the year, the lab is reportedly capable of testing 96 people at a time with test results becoming available in 6 hours. What the airport would do withe tested passengers whilst waiting for 6 hours, has not been detailed at this stage.

Such a readiness plan to welcome foreign tourists originally singled out Phuket due to its popularity with travellers, and as a so-called guinea pig model to test in a controlled environment (Phuket is an island joined to the Thai mainland by a single 300 metre road bridge). Once dubbed the Phuket Model, authorities have proposed to rename the plan to “Special Tourist Visa” due to the confusion and opposition it reportedly caused. The scheme is reportedly now being proposed for all areas of Thailand but only allowing foreigners from specific countries.

SOURCE: Pattaya Mail

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