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Slow economy boosts Festival crowds

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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PHUKET: Slow times in the Thai economy and higher unemployment have had an effect on the Vegetarian Festival, with the number of people going to Chinese shrines for free vegetarian meals sharply up on last year’s figures. Partly, shrine spokespeople said, this was because they could save money. But it was also because believers felt that by taking part in the festival and taking food from the shrines for their families, they could improve their fortunes and their prospects. Wanchai Chantham, coordinator of the leading Jui Tui shrine on Ranong Rd said, “As of today, more than 15,000 people have registered to take meals at the shrine [compared with about 13,000 last year]. The majority are from Phuket, while the rest are mostly Thais from other provinces, and tourists from Singapore and Malaysia.” Those who register with the shrines make donations in cash or in kind, but this year many more simply came for the meals without registering or making a donation. “We have had people donating anything from 10 baht up to many thousands of baht, and taking meals with us for the entire nine days of the festival. We don’t mind if people give very little; we realize the economy is not good and, in any case, their intent is to help the shrine,” K. Wanchai added. He said he believed that many more people joined the festival on the first day (October 17) than in previous years because they could get free meals at the shrine and because this year the food on offer was different every day. Normally people join in either for the entire nine days or only for the last three days. “Our menu was more developed this year. This was also the first year that hotels were involved in providing free vegetarian food for people,” he noted. “We’ve cooked between 2½ and 3 tonnes of rice a day, both for people to eat at the shrine and to take home with them,” he added. “We cook 100 kilos of ‘kanom chin’ in the morning and it’s all gone in an hour.” Jare Kaewliporn, secretary of the small Sui Boon Tong Shrine in Patipat Rd, agreed that demand for food had increased dramatically. “We could tell from the increased number of food pails that the number of people coming for the food was up by about 30% on last year. “Part of the reason, we believe, is economic; everybody has to economize at the moment.” A spokesperson for the Bang Neow Shrine in Phuket Rd, told a similar tale. “A lot of people came for food this year; about 6,000 people registered but many more came without signing. They can save a lot of money because they can take as much food as they like, enough for the whole family.” Tomorrow (October 25) is the last day of the Festival, climaxing in an assembly of all the shrines at Saphan Hin at midnight.

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Thailand targeting specific Chinese provinces for “tourism bubble”

Jack Burton

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Thailand targeting specific Chinese provinces for “tourism bubble” | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Travelwire News

Thailand’s minister of tourism and sports says his ministry will target specific provinces in China in a bid to attract tourists back to the resort island of Phuket as travel restrictions are gradually eased. Pipat Ratchakijprakarn says the ministry will not splash out money launching a tourist campaign all across China but rather target some of the many provinces that have brought Covid-19 under control.

He didn’t specify which provinces, but said Phuket is being eyed to lead the planned “tourism bubbles” comprising Thailand and its selected partners. The primary target is selected Chinese cities and provinces.

“China is the first market with potential, because flying time to Thailand is less than six hours.”

Other markets being discussed include South Korea, Japan, Australia, New Zealand and some south east Asian countries.

Before the pandemic, 1 in every 4 foreign visitors to Thailand was Chinese. There were almost 40 million foreign arrivals last year.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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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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