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Phuket’s ‘Seven Days of Danger’ announced

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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PHUKET CITY: Phuket Police are gearing up for the annual ‘Seven Days of Danger’ road safety period that will this year run from December 29 to January 4.

Nine main police checkpoints on major roads and 18 more on local roads will be manned around the clock to ensure public safety, according to the Department of Disaster Prevention and Mitigation Phuket (DDPM-Phuket).

The safety campaign will emphasize suppression of drunk driving in an effort to prevent road accidents. Coffee and water will also be available for motorists who arrive at checkpoints tired or in need of refreshment.

In Muang District, the three main checkpoints will be on Thepkrasattri Rd in Phuket City, on Wichit Songkraam Rd in front of Surakul Stadium, and on Chao Fah West Rd in front of the Chao Fa Thani housing estate.

In Thalang, the three main checkpoints will be at the Tha Reua Intersection (Heroines Monument), a point near the Cherng Talay Police Station, and at the Tah Chat Chai checkpoint in Mai Khao.

In Kathu, the checkpoints will be operating at the Si Kor Intersection in Tung Tong, on the road near Phuket FantaSea in Kamala, and on the Patong side of Patong Hill Road.

Checkpoint locations are subject to change and the location of smaller checkpoints on minor roads has not been disclosed.

In addition to screening for drunk driving, motorists passing though the checkpoints will be checked to see if they have fastened their seat belts and are carrying valid licenses. The police will also be looking for drivers using cell phones or otherwise breaking the law.

People on motorbikes will be stopped for helmet violations and their drivers will be asked to show a valid license.

Those caught driving without a license, driving a car without a seatbelt or operating motorbikes without a helmet face fines of up to 1,000 baht.

Those convicted of drunk driving face fines ranging from 5,000 to 20,000 baht, jail terms of up to one year, or suspension of driving privileges for a period to be decided by the court.

Fines can increase to as much as 100,000 baht in cases causing injury to another party.

Harsher punishments for drunk driving will take effect when the new Drunk Driving Control Act, introduced by the Road Safety Group of Thailand and the National Health Foundation, is promulgated. However, that will not occur in time for the New Year’s holiday.

Pol Sgt Maj Rachane Chookaew of the Thung Thong Police said that most checkpoint inspections will start with license checks.

Foreign tourists driving cars or motorbikes are technically required to be licensed in Thailand, but police often let them go if a valid international license is presented, he said.

However, enforcement of this law can vary in different police districts. The Gazette has recently received numerous reports of crackdowns on unlicensed foreign motorcyclists in Patong.

To avoid problems, Sgt Maj Rachane encourages expats to apply for licenses at the Land Transport Office in Saphan Hin, where written tests in English are available.

On a positive note, Thailand’s Road Safety Center reported that the total number of deaths in Phuket from road accidents fell from 130 in 2007 to 100 in 2008.

During the ‘Seven Days of Danger’ campaign ending on January 4 this year, one man and one woman were killed and 90 people were injured, many seriously, in road accidents on the island.

— Sitthipong Nongkaew

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Crime

Officials raid 2 Phuket casinos, arresting 87 illegal gamblers

Jack Burton

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Officials raid 2 Phuket casinos, arresting 87 illegal gamblers | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Phuket Andaman News

Officials have raided 2 Phuket casinos resulting in 87 people being arrested for allegedly gambling after the island’s provincial police received complaints of gambling dens operating around the clock – a violation of the current Emergency Decree which bans crowds.

The first raid took place at about 3:30 pm and was at a casino in tambon Talat Nua of Muang district. The premises provided parking spaces for motorcycles and up to 30 cars, and was fenced on all sides with metal sheets. Officials arrested 45 gamblers-30 men and 15 women. They also seized 62,420 baht that was placed as wagers and a gold necklace that was 15 grams in weight.

Around the same time, a second team raided another casino tambon Sisunthon of Thalang district in Phuket’s north. It was also fenced with metal sheets and featured an ample amount of parking space. 42 people- 22 men and 20 women- were rounded up with police seizing 64,260 baht in placed wagers.

All have been charged with illegal betting and violating the Emergency Decree which was recently extended through July.

Officials raid 2 Phuket casinos, arresting 87 illegal gamblers | News by The Thaiger

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Business

Phuket’s (in)famous “Soi Bangla” district reopens today

Jack Burton

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Phuket’s (in)famous “Soi Bangla” district reopens today | The Thaiger

Today is the official reopening of Phuket’s famous (or infamous) “Soi Bangla” nightlife district, but only about 20% of venues say they’re reopening during this early stage. The Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration announced yesterday that all night entertainment venues may reopen but must strictly adhere to health guidelines set out to prevent the spread of Covid-19.

Dr Taweesilp Visanuyothin, the spokesman for the CCSA, says night entertainment venues, including pubs, bars, karaoke venues and beer gardens will be allowed to open, but only until midnight. Social distancing measures will be strictly enforced, and customers must use the Thai Chana app to check in and out.

The Patong Entertainment Business Association president says only about 20% of the 324 registered members are expected to reopen initially, but he expects more to reopen soon. Among the 22 rules announced last week- to be presented to the CCSA for approval- were that all staff must wear face masks and face shields, but performers may wear face shields only. No bottles are to be served, and all drinks are to be served in glasses. No pool table games (including snooker and billiards) and no dart games are to be allowed.

The number of guests in each venue is to be restricted to cater for social distancing, with at least 2 metres between tables, or partitions must be installed to ensure patrons are seated at least one metre away from each other.

Undercutting the main reason people visit popular venues, the draft rules also call for groups to be limited to 5 people, and for guests to be prohibited from dancing and singing, gathering, shouting, or “wandering around the premises”.

“I have no idea what the rules will be, but we will open anyway. If the full list of 22 rules for pubs, bars and entertainment venues is to be applied, we won’t be able to enforce all the rules, because enforcing all these rules is impossible. But we can follow some of the rules, such as social distancing, wearing masks and checking temperatures.”

Even Patong’s mayor told The Phuket News that she is yet to receive a copy of all the rules to be enforced.

“The next thing to do is follow up with the CCSA about the rules. This is very important for the entertainment industry in Patong. I will help and consider being flexible with the rules for entertainment businesses in Patong, because the rules announced by CCSA are the general rules for many places. But some of these rules are not appropriate for businesses here. We have to apply the right rules and optimise them for businesses in Patong.”

The PEBA president dismissed a few entertainment zones being singled out in other countries as “hotbeds for starting a second wave” of Covid-19 infections.

“I do not care what some people claim is the risk of being in a bar. If the government is genuinely concerned about the risk of Covid-19 spreading, then it is not just about bars, pubs and entertainment venues. The risk of Covid-19 spreading applies anywhere where people are around, not only at bars and pubs.”

SOURCE: The Phuket News

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Tourism

Thailand’s hotel industry pushing ahead with recovery

The Thaiger

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Thailand’s hotel industry pushing ahead with recovery | The Thaiger

Optimism is building in some corners of the hospitality industry as Thailand pushes ahead with it Covid-19 recovery phases. Occupancy rates in at least Bangkok and Phuket are likely to bottom out soon with the lifting of travel restrictions, according to JLL Hotels & Hospitality Group.

Thailand’s hotel industry is now entering a recovery phase following the country’s decision to issue a partial easing of lockdown measures, including inter-provincial travel restrictions. There is an expected surge in domestic travel and tourism with the reintroduction of domestic flights, and the slow opening of international borders in the coming months.

The country’s tourism and hotels sector has been significantly impacted since the first reported case of Covid-19 in Thailand on January 13, 2020.

“With the country introducing a government-directed lockdown and placing strict limitations on domestic and international mobility, revenue per available room trended downward during the first four months of 2020, led by declines in occupancy.”

However, optimism of a gradual recovery remains high for both markets, given strong domestic and global brand recognition and a mature hospitality sector well-prepared to align with stringent health and safety guidelines introduced by The Tourism Authority of Thailand ‘s “Amazing Thailand Safety and Health Administration program.

“In 2019, Bangkok was named, for the fourth consecutive year, as the most popular travel destination in Mastercard’s Global Destinations Cities Index, while Phuket was rated the #2 Most Popular Asia Destination by TripAdvisor.”

Chakkrit Chakrabandhu Na Ayudhya, Executive VP, Investment Sales, Asia Pacific, JLL Hotels & Hospitality Group says that Thailand’s hotel industry is a bellwether market in global and regional hospitality circles.

“Its Covid-19 recovery will be closely observed by operators and investors. With both government and bank support, we’re optimistic a market like Bangkok, with its well-balanced offering to business and leisure demand, will be amongst the first hotel sectors regionally to display meaningful recovery, whilst Phuket will take relatively longer as it relies more on international and leisure demand.”

The maturity of Thailand’s hotel space, as well as bank and government support so far, have helped the industry alleviate the full impact of Covid-19, despite wide-spread issues with cash flows and fixed operational overheads. JLL expects fewer distressed asset sales in Bangkok compared to other markets in Thailand due to robust balance sheets held by many owners. Investors have been looking for opportunities in Thailand, with greater interest expected initially from developers and private equity firms who tend to be less risk-averse as the recovery gains momentum.

According to JLL’s Hotels & Hospitality, operators and investors in Thailand’s hotel industry should also consider several factors to optimise their recovery strategies:

  • Critically evaluate hotel positioning and segmentation mix in light of extensive current supply and future pipeline.
  • Calculate breakeven occupancy and factor in gradual demand ramp up, taking into consideration potential travel bubbles being considered by the Thai government.
  • Focus on brand, operating and distribution partners when setting out a differentiating strategy to the local market, whilst following the opening of borders carefully.
  • Take advantage of the government’s domestic tourism promotion to help restart operations and build local customer loyalty; launch staycation packages to take advantage of pent up domestic demand
  • Look for every opportunity to get guests ready for post-Covid-19 travel, embrace the restrictions and set up health and safety protocols for the reopening.

SOURCE: JLL

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