– 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: Somboon Chirayus, president of the Phuket Tourism Association, says the island should gain more visitors this year as many airlines plan to add more charter flights into Phuket during the next high season, and The Nation cites Indigo Pearl as a concrete example of confidence in the outlook for tourism.
The Phuket-based Indigo Pearl resort, following a lavish, multimillion-dollar refurbishment three years ago, has now announced plans to launch a 70-million-baht spa complex. The new facility is scheduled to open later this year.
Wichit na Ranong, the resort’s managing director, says the hotel industry in Phuket has recovered. Many hotel operators are overbooked, or at least 80-90% occupied, through April, which is normally a slow time. The operators expect business to grow 6-7 percent this year, with more than 5.5 million international tourists visiting the island, up from 5 million is 2009.
Small group of Thai protesters remain
Although red-shirted protest numbers have dwindled in Bangkok, tens of thousands still remain, with the intention and determination to continue for many weeks. While PM Abhisit Vejajjiva is still backed by the military and a majority in parliament, a prolonged protest could undermine his leadership if he is seen to be failing to resolve the impasse or his ability to govern is hampered.
There are some concerns that the protesters may continue to block the entry and exit points to government buildings and further prevent Abhisit from going to his office or attending parliamentary sessions. Roads have also been partly blocked in the historic heart of the Thai capital, testing the patience of local residents.
Protesters want “class war” in Thailand
Thailand’s rural underclass, vying to revive flagging momentum after a week of colourful protests, appealed yesterday for a popular uprising against the well-entrenched political and “aristocratic” elite.
Police said the protesters’ numbers had dwindled to 38,000 at the rally site, from more than 100,000 at the weekend, as the remaining core group of Red Shirts sought to reach out to Bangkok’s middle classes to join in a “class war” against the government.
“Rural grassroots people will join hands with the middle class to drive [Prime Minister] Abhisit from his post,” said Suporn Atthawong, a protest leader.
A government spokesman confirmed yesterday that PM Abhisit had also told lawyers to begin legal action against Thaksin and Red shirt leaders for making false accusations against him.
Laos starts supplying electricity to Thailand
The largest power company in Laos, Nam Theun 2, started on Monday this week to supply 1,000 megawatts of electricity to the Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand (EGAT), Thailand’s state enterprise responsible for electricity nationwide.
The plant is expected to generate average annual revenues of 80 million dollars for Laos in the form of taxes, royalty fees and dividends over the 25-year concession. EGAT and the Italian-Thai Development Company of Thailand together own 40 percent of Nam Theun’s shares.
With its hydroelectricity network, Laos is slated to become the “battery” not only of Thailand but also of South-East Asia, EGAT says.
Thailand’s roads prepare for Songkran
National New Bureau of Thailand
The Ministry of Transport in Thailand has geared up measures to ensure safety and serve passengers in the upcoming mass journey of people back to their hometowns during the annual Songkran Festival, April 13-15.
The Permanent Secretary for Transport, Supoj Saplom, says that executives of the ministry and transport offices nationwide will ensure that transportation plans are ready.
Based on statistics, the implementation of safety measures during the period can reduce accidents by 40-50% each day. The first free car engine checking service is now underway and will continue until April 12 at designated venues, and free car repairing services will also be available on major, and some minor, roads across the country from March 24 til April 18.
— Gazette Editors
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