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Phuket wins direct flights from Beijing

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Phuket NEWS Hound

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

PHUKET: Hainan Airlines is preparing to launch non-stop flights to Phuket from Beijing on July 31, becoming the first and only domestic carrier to offer such a service.

According to China Hospitality News, the fourth-largest carrier in China will operate three weekly flights – every Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday. The flights will depart Beijing at 18:00 local time and arrive in Phuket at 22:50 local time. The return flight will leave at 23:50 local time and arrive Beijing the following morning at 06:15 local time.

The route will be operated with Boeing 737-800 aircraft.

The non-stop flights will cut travel time by more than five hours, making it much more convenient for air passengers to the tropical island.

Phuket is often dubbed ‘The Pearl of the Andaman’.

Phuket air traffic rising

TTR Weekly
Airports of Thailand’s recently released traffic figures for June show a 4.5% growth in aircraft movements at all six airports, while passengers dropped marginally by 0.57%.

Notably, Phuket International Airport’s traffic has improved month-by-month this year, despite political turmoil. International passenger traffic increased by an average of 50%, while aircraft movements increased by more than 30% every month. In February, aircraft movements improved by 62%.

In June, international aircraft movements at Phuket Airport improved 33% over the same month last year, and by 46% for international passengers.

However, domestic traffic told a different tale. While domestic airlines increased their flights resulting in a 23% increase in aircraft movements, domestic passenger traffic sank 6%.

June was the second month that Phuket received fewer domestic travellers, following a decline in May.

Phuket to be halal hub

MCOT
The World of Halal Science, Industry & Business (WHASIB) conference for 2010 recently held in Phuket puts Phuket on the world map as a center for dietarily pure and wholesome food and personal care products.

Muslims around the world must observe religiously-directed food and lifestyle behaviours – known as ‘halal’ – to maintain their personal ritual cleanliness within their communities.

Phuket’s Halal Expo was organised in Phuket to promote Muslim culture and Muslim-related businesses in the region.

PIA offers emotional balance tips
Asia Travel Tips

The Phuket International Academy Mind Centre (PIAMC) is hosting an exclusive training seminar for professionals looking to heighten their awareness in cultivating emotional balance within themselves and passing on the knowledge to a broader audience.

Running until 24 August 2010, the “Cultivating Emotional Balance Teachers’ Training” course will be taught by world renowned psychology professor Dr Paul Ekman and Dr B. Alan Wallace (who is also Chairman of PIAMC) in conjunction with the Santa Barbara Institute for Consciousness Studies.

A team of IT experts will be using video conferencing software which will allow Dr Ekman to not only give lectures from his home in California, but to communicate directly with participants and answer questions each day.

Tesco may eye Carrefour

Business Times
Tesco plc investors want the UK’s largest retailer to bid for Carrefour SA’s Southeast Asian supermarket assets, but not at the indicated price.

Carrefour is open to offers for its units in Malaysia, Thailand and Singapore. For the combined operations, Carrefour has indicated a price of US$800 million to US$1 billion, the Tesco plc investors said, a valuation that according to Royal Bank of Scotland analyst Justin Scarborough would be too high for any bidder.

“If Tesco keeps putting money into their strong markets, and Thailand is clearly one, then that would be grand,” said Phil Doel, an investment manager at F&C Asset Management in London, whose funds hold about 1% of Tesco shares.

“It depends on price and the return they can get,” he said.

Tesco generates about a third of its sales outside the UK, where growth is slowing amid heightened competition and easing inflation.

Asia accounts for about 15 per cent of the retailer’s revenue and is its fastest-growing division by earnings, which rose 24 per cent last year. Tesco plans to add 4.9 million sq ft of new store space in the region this year.

Tesco and Carrefour both operate in Phuket, but provincial figures on their operations in Phuket are not published.

Russian Pianist ordered to return to Thailand

BBC News
Charged with the rape of a 14-year-old boy in Pattaya and released on bail earlier this month, Mikhail Pletnev was ordered at a hearing on Monday to return to Pattaya every 12 days to renew his bail, set at 300,000 baht (approx $9,000).

Mr Pletnev, who conducts the Russian National Orchestra, is allowed to travel abroad as long as he continues to make his court appearances.

Speaking to reporters outside the court, Mr Pletnev said: “I say again these allegations are not true.”

“I have always stated that I will assist the police in every way I can with their enquiries into the allegations that have been made against me.”

If found guilty of the charges against him, he could face up to 20 years in prison.

He was not considered a flight risk because he is resident in Thailand and owns property here.

Mr Pletnev is an internationally famous musician – a virtuoso pianist, composer and conductor – and a friend of former Russian President Mikhail Gorbachev.

He won a Grammy in 2005 for an arrangement of Prokofiev’s Cinderella.

— Gazette Editors

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

“Open the borders, safely”, Bill Heinecke, Minor International interview – VIDEO

The Thaiger

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“Open the borders, safely”, Bill Heinecke, Minor International interview – VIDEO | The Thaiger

Bill Heinecke speaks to Bill Barnett. The two heavy-hitters of Thailand’s hotel and hospitality sector, mull over the current Covid situation and the reopening of Thailand’s borders to some form of tourism. Bill Heinecke is the Chairman and Founder of Minor International.

Bill Barnett is the Managing Director of c9hotelworks.com

Now the Thai government has approved the special long-term tourist visa scheme (STV), hoteliers are remaining skeptical about reopening due to the lack of clarity in the recent announcement, which will reportedly take effect next month. The president of the Thai Hotels Association’s southern chapter says more hoteliers will consider reopening if the government gives further information about the plan in terms of prospective markets, arrival dates, origin countries, and flights.

Such details would allow hotels to prepare themselves ahead of time to offer services as alternative state quarantine premises as at least 60 hotels in Phuket are awaiting approval to operate such facilities.

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Bangkok

Now they’re coming… Special Tourist Visa flight set for Tuesday – Tourism and Sports Minister

Caitlin Ashworth

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Now they’re coming… Special Tourist Visa flight set for Tuesday – Tourism and Sports Minister | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Unsplash: Suhyeon Choi

After much confusion and a few apparent ‘misunderstandings’, Chinese tourists on the Special Tourist Visa will actually arrive on October 20 and 26. At least that’s what Tourism and Sports Minister Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn says, according to the Bangkok Post. The first group is said to arrive 4 days from now in Bangkok (if they actually applied for the visa this time).

Reports circulated for weeks about a flight of 120 to 150 tourists set to arrive in Phuket on October 8 from Guangzhou, China. An announcement was made shortly after the flight was due to arrive with Tourism Authority Governor Yuthasak Supasorn saying “administrative issues” had caused the delay.

It was later reported that no one from Guangzhou had actually applied for the visa and it was all just a misunderstanding after the Tourism Authority of Thailand reportedly passed off a list of those “interested” in the visa as actual applications.

This time, the Post is reporting the first group of 120 tourists from Guangzhou will arrive at Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport on Tuesday. Another group of 120 tourists, also from Guangzhou, will arrive on October 26, but the Post didn’t say where that flight will land.

It’s apparently the same group that was planned to arrive in Phuket on October 8, but the minister claims the trip was postponed due to the Vegetarian Festival which is planned to run until October 25. Both the Phuket governor and National Security Council secretary general had claimed the festival was the reason for the delayed flight and was intended to ease fears of Covid-19 for the festival-goers coming in from the rest of Thailand.

Even though the new long stay tourist visa is good for 90 days, and can be renewed twice, the tourists will only stay in the country for 30 days, with 14 of those days in quarantine. Phiphat says the Tourism Authority of Thailand will find activities to keep the tourists occupied while in quarantine.

The visitors will be the first international tourists after a 6 month ban to prevent the spread of Covid-19. Thai officials have been discussing plans for months about how to safely reopen borders to revive the country’s economy which is heavily driven by the tourism industry. Officals are now talking about cutting down the mandatory time for quarantine from 14 days to 7 days to help entice people to visit.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Phuket

Phuket to host Cabinet meeting to review proposals for reviving local economy

Maya Taylor

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Phuket to host Cabinet meeting to review proposals for reviving local economy | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Wikimedia

Government officials are to hold a Cabinet meeting in Phuket on November 2 and 3, when they will meet with local authorities and business owners to hear their suggestions on re-igniting the province’s decimated economy. Phuket has been hit particularly hard by the country’s borders being shut since late March, with the absence of international tourists dealing a hammer blow that some say will be felt for years to come.

The Bangkok Post reports that, prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, the province would generate over 400 billion baht in tourism revenue each year. Now, data from the Phuket Area Revenue Office shows that, between January and August, year on year tax revenue from the province has plummeted by over 46%.

In preparation for the November meeting with central government officials, Governor Narong Woonsiew has met with local business leaders. Narong says Phuket is currently completely reliant on domestic tourism, with the local economy devastated by the fallout from Covid-19 and the loss of internationals tourists. He says the government understands the difficulties being faced by the province and has chosen to have a Cabinet meeting there for that reason. He adds that he would like Bangkok officials to ask state agencies to hold meetings and conferences in Phuket, as one way of helping the local economy.

“Phuket is grateful that it is the Cabinet’s venue of choice. This gives us hope for economic recovery. We have experienced many economic hardships before, and we are discussing what to propose as immediate and long-term solutions to the Cabinet.”

Phuket is still hoping to welcome its first international tourists in over 6 months, under the new Special Tourist Visa scheme. The programme was officially launched on October 1, however, nobody seems sure when the first lot of foreign visitors availing of the visa are set to arrive. The much-talked about arrival of between 120 and 150 Chinese visitors, which was supposed to take place this month, turned out to be all for nothing, when it was revealed not a single Chinese national applied for the STV.

Nevertheless, Governor Narong says he expects the province to re-open for international tourism from October 25. That’s just over a week away. He adds that he would like PM Prayut Chan-o-cha to test Phuket’s readiness for managing STV arrivals, by undergoing all the procedures the province has put in place. He says the role-play could be filmed and used to increase tourists’ confidence that Phuket is well-equipped to prevent a resurgence of Covid-19 on the island.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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