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Press conference to clarify “Zoran Island” plan

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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Press conference to clarify “Zoran Island” plan | The Thaiger
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PHUKET: Following reports that a man-made island was ready to be built off the east coast of Phuket to accommodate a marina for mega-yachts, the marketing manager at Royal Phuket Marina [RPM] clarified that the project is still in the early planning stages and faces many obstacles before it can become a reality.

RPM Marketing Director Wilaiporn Titimanaaree told the Gazette that developer Gulu Lalvani will hold a press conference at RPM on May 25 to announce his plan, which envisions a 6.6-billion-baht marina, luxury hotel and villa complex on reclaimed land about three kilometers off Phuket’s east coast.

K. Wilaiporn told the Gazette that a recent report by news agency Reuters had misquoted Mr Lalvani as saying that the project already had the approval of the Phuket Governor.

As a result, Gov Niran Kalayanamit has been besieged with requests to verify the story since it was released, she said.

Mr Lalvani wished to clarify the matter by saying that he had discussed the idea with former governor Udomsak Uswarangkura, who had only agreed in principal with the plan to build a man-made island off the coast near RPM.

It has not clear whether the island, if built, would fall under the jurisdiction of Phuket or Phang Nga province.

Mr Lalvani said he is aware of the obstacles that will need to be overcome, including the need to get public approval for the massive project in an area not far from where environmental activists have been protesting actively against the construction of a simple pier, she said.

The idea for a man-made island capable of berthing mega-yachts was inspired by a visit to Phang Nga Bay in April by Bill Gates and his wife Melinda aboard his yacht, Reuters reported.

Mr Gates was quoted as telling Mr Lalvani that he loved the area so much that he would like to visit every year, if only he could find a marina capable of berthing the 54-meter vessel.

To accommodate the needs of Mr Gates and the world’s other super-rich, Mr Lalvani proposes to build “Zoran Island”, named after his third son. The project would be reminiscent of “The Palm” and “The World” projects off the coast of Dubai, Reuters quoted him as saying.

Many more details about the project concept will be unveiled at the upcoming press conference, at 5 pm at RPM. The event will also be used to officially announce RPM’s hosting of the PIMEX boat show in early November and to outline the significance of Phuket being named “Asia’s Maritime Capital” at the prestigious Christofle Asia Boating Awards held in Bangkok last month.

Despite some confusion, reaction to the plan has been mostly positive.

Gov Niran told reporters that no one had contacted him about the project. “I just learned about it from the media,” he said.

However, he added that it would be good for Phuket to have more ports for yachts, and the idea is in line with a provincial plan to turn the island into the new “Marina Hub of Asia”.

“Currently, there are not enough marinas,” he said.

The project would first have to be carefully studied and its potential impact on the environment and the local communities assessed, he said.

Investors from many countries, including Saudi Arabia, Russia and India, were interested in investing in hotels and marinas in Phuket, he added.

Tourism and Sports Minister Suvit Yodmani welcomed the idea, saying that it could promote a good image for Thailand’s tourism.

However, he also said more details of the project were needed and it must be studied further.

Phuket Tourism Association Chairman Maitree Narukhatpichai said he would not object to the project as long as it did not harm the environment and local ways of life.

Phang Nga Governor Winai Buapradit said Gates had not contacted him.

“But if he’s interested in developing such a project, it’s in line with our provincial strategy to promote marine tourism,” Gov Winai said.

However, Wildlife Fund Thailand Coordinator Thanu Nabnien expressed concern that a man-made island could harm the ecology of Phang Nga Bay, which he described as an important part of Asia’s natural heritage.

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Archiving articles from the Phuket Gazette circa 1998 - 2017. View the Phuket Gazette online archive and Digital Gazette PDF Prints.

Phuket

4 billion baht medical hub planned for Phuket

Maya Taylor

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4 billion baht medical hub planned for Phuket | The Thaiger
Mai Khao beach in north Phuket. PHOTO: Booking.com

Phuket officials are setting aside around 4 billion baht to transform medical tourism in the southern province of Phuket, by developing a state-of-the-art treatment hub in the north of the island. The Bangkok Post reports that the Treasury department is planning to give the Public Health Ministry permission to use 141 rai of government land in the sub-district of Mai Khao, close to Phuket International Airport. It’s not the first time the proposal has come to light.

The concept is gathering support as Phuket battles to diversify its attraction beyond a tropical holiday island.

The aim is to develop Phuket as a world-class health and wellness destination, with facilities that will attract medical tourists from all over the world, as well as providing a high standard of treatment to the local population. It’s understood the facility will provide a full range of health services, including long-term care, and hospice and rehabilitation services.

The island already has a well-developed medical tourism market, but has been based around local hospitals and clinics linking up with foreign marketing companies in the past. “The International Medical and Public Health Service” has been conceived to create more long term financial security and diversification, and value-added tourism in Phuket, as the island has taken a heavy financial hit over the past 7 months.

4 billion baht medical hub planned for Phuket | News by The Thaiger

PHOTO: Phuket Andaman News

The plan was first suggested in 2017, by then governor, Noraphat Plodthong and confirmed by the director of Phuket’s Vachira Hospital, Dr. Chalermpong Sukontapol, in July. At that stage, the estimated budget was 3-4 billion baht. The director-general of the Treasury department, Yuthana Yimkarun, says the plot is being offered to the Health Ministry for free. The land is thought be worth around 1 billion baht.

Yuthana says the ministry will manage investment, with approximately 2 billion baht required for the first stage of the project. Construction of the facility is expected to be completed over 2 years.

Meanwhile, it’s understood that unused government land that is currently managed by various government agencies may be moved under the remit of central government, with a view to increasing its worth. According to the Bangkok Post report, just 4% of government land is directly managed by the Treasury. The other 96% is controlled by various government agencies. Yuthana says the plan is to increase the percentage of state-owned land under the Treasury’s management to 10% within 2 years.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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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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