Spas get a healthy boost

PHUKET CITY: Jurai Skulpuak, Head of the Health Consumer Protection Division of Phuket Provincial Health Office (PPHO), yesterday announced that spas that have been approved by the PPHO as “health business” will not be classified as “entertainment” venues. K. Jurai told the Gazette, “Spas will not be forced to comply with the same legal health requirements as massage parlors, and will be considered as different from massage parlors as defined in the Entertainment Act 1966.” The announcement was good news for Pakin Ruktae-ngam, Chairman of the Phuket Spa Business Club (PSBC), of which 65 Phuket spa operators are members. “This will mean that spas will not be included in the definition of an ‘entertainment’ venue, and will not have to pay the 10% excise tax [levied on entertainment venues].” However, he explained to the Gazette, the re-classification of spas will not be official until it is approved by a joint committee of the Public Health Ministry and the Ministry of Finance. “The joint committee … is currently reviewing whether spas should pay the 10% excise tax,” he said. In the meantime, however, K. Pakin said that all PSBC members will continue refusing to pay the excise tax in protest. “The Excise Office is trying to make us pay the tax, but we don’t care. Even the chief of the local Excise Office personally agrees that we should not have to pay the tax,” he said. K. Jurai made the announcement at a workshop at The Metropole hotel, where 200 government officers and members of the spa industry were trained in what is required of spas and their staff to gain approval from the PPHO. “The PPHO will try to have all spas operating to the Health Ministry’s standards, which includes having therapists attend training courses that we are running all this year,” she said. “Thai massage is a unique, key feature of Thai spas, so we will train them to administer proper Thai massages.” K. Jurai added that 600 people had already passed the PPHO course, and she expected that number to grow to 1,000 soon.

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