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Star Cruises denies terrorism caused suspension



Star Cruises denies terrorism caused suspension | Thaiger

PHUKET: Star Cruises today denied that its suspension of all cruises from Singapore to Phuket was the result of fears of terrorist attacks, following the violence in southern Thailand on April 28. Ariya Noongan, Executive Sales Officer at Star Cruises in Bangkok, today told the Gazette that the Star Cruises head office in Singapore decided “last month” to suspend the Singapore-Phuket service because feedback from ticket agents and customers indicated that a Singapore-Penang-Langkawi service was preferred. “The decision had nothing to do with the threat of terrorism,” she said. Oddly, given the “feedback”, K. Ariya said that the Phuket service, discontinued on Sunday (May 2), will resume from June 1. The Star Cruises denial came after Leenawat Roonguthai, Operations Manager of the Phuket branch of SEA Tours Co Ltd, a major booking agent for the cruise line, told the Gazette, “The cruise industry has been severely affected by the threat of terrorism. “We usually have 10,000 tourists a month in the low season,” he said, “but today we have zero bookings. We have lost revenue of 3,000 baht per person per day.” In contrast, other tourism businesses operating outside of the deep south report that there has been little effect so far on their businesses. Chusak Wongwai, Operations Manager of Phuket-based tour company Asian Trails, said, “The [violence] has not affected us more than 0.5%.” However, he added that many tourists were worried about traveling to Phuket because it is a southern province. “The negative image of the recent violence has spread to cover all of southern Thailand. In fact, [the violence] did not involve Phuket, and publicizing this is important in getting tourists to understand,” he said. Pattanapong Aikwanich, President of the Phuket Tourist Association, agreed. He explained to the Gazette that he recently returned from Xiamen, China, where he saw the newspaper headline “Terrorism in southern Thailand” and a map showing Pattani, Yala, Narathiwat, Krabi, Phang Nga and Phuket as the danger zone. “Most tourists misunderstand [the situation] because of what is presented by the media [in those countries]. They should publish the facts, and Thailand, especially, should communicate directly through the international media,” K. Pattanapong said. He also called for Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) offices in Singapore and Malaysia to organize familiarization trips to Phuket, Phang Nga and Krabi, to show tour agents and travelers from those markets that the three provinces are safe. In response, local TAT office Director Suwalai Pinpradab said, “I cannot say anything about terrorism because the central TAT offices communicate directly with the media [about that].” She explained that, regardless of events in the troubled South, the number of tourists coming to Phuket has grown dramatically compared with last year. “Terrorism has had a significant effect on the Singapore market. However, people in other Asian countries such as China and Japan feel that it is still safe to travel to Phuket.” K. Suwalai also said that the TAT has organized a number of familiarization trips to Thailand for travel journalists and tour agencies abroad, to be held this year under the umbrella title of “Mega Fam Trip”. “A group from Australia is currently on a tour of Phuket, Phang Nga and Chiang Mai,” she said. TAT moves to calm fears:


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