Riddle in THAI’s Phuket policy

Phuket NEWS Hound

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

PHUKET: Cancellations and a shortfall in advance bookings are forcing THAI Airways to revise its route network, capacity and fleet use to curb losses. Phuket continues to be a riddle in the plans.

According to TTR Weekly, adjustments are being made to keep the average cabin factor through the second quarter at around 70, about 2.16% points below the April average.

THAI President Piyasvasti Amranand had said that a contingency plan would be activated on May 4, concentrating on Phuket since it remains the most viable destination in Thailand with continued strong bookings throughout the Bangkok protests.

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“Since the decline in bookings to Thailand, we have to concentrate on sales to Bali, Australian cities and Auckland, New Zealand. As the Indonesian national airline is not so strong, we can sell Bangkok as a transit hub to Bali.

“We will [also] have to start more direct flights to Phuket as soon as possible,” he said.

However, the perception of Phuket as an antidote to the airline’s sagging passenger loads may encounter some stiff headwinds.

On April 1, the national carrier hiked the price of an ‘economy’ class ticket on the Bangkok-Phuket route by 46%, while the Chiangmai-Phuket run was dealt a whopping 64% rise.

Kiwi expat dies in crash

New Zealand Herald
A New Zealander who survived the 2004 Boxing Day Tsunami died in a freak motorbike accident in Phuket last week.

John Grant Kerr, 53, broke his neck after falling off his bike at Patong Beach.

Kerr died instantly after hitting his head on the footpath about 100m from the ‘Anzac Bar’, which he had bought in 2005.

Sister Marlene Foley said he was a keen traveller and a “fun-loving and caring person”.

His bar was popular with tourists and he was a social person with a lot of friends.

Bangkok Air turns to locals

Bangkok Post
Bangkok Airways is joining forces with local hoteliers and tourism bodies in discount campaigns to attract local tourists to Thai beach resorts, particularly Phuket, Samui and Trat, to offset a plunge in foreign visitors.

International arrivals have plummeted after many countries advised their citizens against visiting Thailand due to its political turmoil.

Bangkok Airways’ passenger numbers were down by 30% last month, and by 50% so far this month, said vice-president Nandhika Varavarn.

Because of its heavy reliance on international tourists, who constitute 80% of its passengers, Bangkok Airways is now trying to reduce this dependence to 70%, while raising the percentage of Thai and expatriate residents to 30%.

M.L. Nandhika says that, “Basically, anyone who buys a Bangkok Air ticket [to those three destinations] will get a hotel room, transfer service and even breakfast for free.”

The campaigns will run to mid-July, helping the airline, as well as hospitality and tourism companies, to stay afloat during the low season.

Phuket unfazed by tsunami warning

NBT Phuket
A tsunami watch followed a 7.4 magnitude earthquake which struck off northern Sumatra in Indonesia at around 1pm Thai time on Sunday afternoon.

In Phuket, sea gypsies on Ko Sireh, east of Phuket Town, evacuated to safe shelters at a local school. They said they felt the earthquake. Some, however, kept up their routines while waiting for official warnings and kept their eyes on the level of the sea.

Meanwhile, residents and tourists in Patong carried on as normal, some sunbathing and walking on the beach.

After no tsunami waves had been detected, the NDWC sent out SMS messages to revoke the watch, at 14:11, Phuket time.

Koreans love Phuket

National News Bureau of Thailand
A group of 38 delegates from Thailand, including tourism entrepreneurs, hoteliers, and golf and spa operators from Phuket, along with members of the Phuket Tourist Association (PTA), went to Seoul and Busan late last month to attract Koreans to Phuket.

During the demonstrations in Bangkok over the past two months, 90% of the bookings for hotels in Bangkok and Pattaya were reported to have been canceled, while the cancellations for Phuket were said to have stood at only about 5%.

Thailand is the third favorite destination for Koreans, following Japan and China. Golfing and honeymoon trips to Phuket and Koh Samui are particularly popular.

There are about 20 direct flights between Seoul and Phuket each week.

Phuket Tourist Association President Somboon Jirayus voiced his confidence that the Korean market for Phuket will expand at 10-15%, especially if THAI Airways launches its direct flights between Seoul and Phuket.

Bargains in Phuket

Phuket will play host to an “Amazing Thailand Grand Sale” again this summer, June 15 through August 15.

The event is nationwide and sees price cuts ranging from 5 to 80 per cent. The discounts apply to products such as clothing, jewelery and food, as well as travel packages, rounds of golf at various Phuket courses, and a number of other products and services.

The list includes both homegrown, handmade products and items imported from around the world.

The Amazing Thailand Grand Sale will also bring with it a number of special events exclusive to Phuket, details of which will be released closer to the time.

Thai censorship under scrutiny

The Jakarta Post
Thailand’s declaration of a state of emergency has served to further aggravate its negative image regarding freedom of the press.

Immediately, it ordered 36 politically oriented websites blocked, along with key red shirt radio stations and their satellite TV connection.

Accusations of bias were raised as none belonging to the Yellow Shirts are known to have been targeted.

Reporters Without Borders says that over the past few years more than 50,000 websites have been blocked.

“Thailand is getting increasingly like China when it comes to Internet censorship,” said Poomjit Sirawongprasert, president of the Thai [Website] Hosting Service Providers Club.

Consequently, Thailand’s standing in the Press Freedom Index of Reporters Without Borders plunged to 130 last year, from 65 in 2002.

— Gazette Editors

Phuket News

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