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Startling plans for Phuket’s future

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Startling plans for Phuket’s future | The Thaiger
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PHUKET TOWN: Four Cabinet members attended high-powered meetings with Phuket government officials and local businessmen on Friday and Saturday (July 4 and 5), indicating that the government is still committed to Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra’s vision of Phuket as a regional hub for transport, medical tourism, IT, duty-free shopping and yachting. The Saturday meeting at Royal Phuket City Hotel was led by Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak and attended by Tourism and Sports Minister Sontaya Kunplome, Public Health Minister Sudarat Keyuraphan and Information and Communications Technology (ICT) Minister Surapong Suebwonglee. Several startling government initiatives were announced, most with three-month timetables for specific tasks to be accomplished: Duty-free shopping: The Customs Department is considering tax exemptions on certain products, such as wristwatches and leather products, in order to develop the island into a “shopper’s paradise”. Marine leisure industry: The Finance Ministry, Excise Department and Customs Department will work together to eliminate registration fees for yachts and do away with import duties on foreign yachts, which now stand at about 47%. International conference center: The government continues to support the multi-billion-baht project, though no site has yet been chosen. The Tourism Authority of Thailand, which supported Saphan Hin as the site, will further study the siting issue and make its recommendations to the cabinet. A special committee will be formed to coordinate the project, and a final conclusion is expected within three months. K. Somkid and other officials visited both the Saphan Hin site and the site at Mai Khao, which is supported by a majority of Phuket residents. Spa industry promotion: The government will support the growing spa industry as an environmentally-friendly way to diversify Phuket’s tourism economy. The Public Health Ministry and Board of Investment (BoI) will cooperate to adopt standards for the industry to make it more competitive internationally. Medical hub: Public Health Minister Sudarat Keyuraphan announced that the Ministry would be ready to declare Phuket a “medical hub” at the beginning of next year. Health-tourism packages will be promoted along with Thai traditional massage and spa therapies, for which the Ministry will establish hygiene and safety standards. IT City: The ICT Ministry will continue its efforts to make Phuket a “cyber paradise” by coordinating a pilot effort to integrate Phuket’s government agencies through IT technology. The government will try to attract foreign investment and know-how for the industry by improving infrastructure. Plans to accomplish this will be drawn up and approved within three months. The Software Industry Promotion Agency (SIPA) will also be established within three months. The ICT and Telephone Organization of Thailand (TOT) will add 14,400 fixed-line telephone numbers and will make broadband Internet connections available to 80% of the island’s fixed lines within six months. Phuket will tap directly into the global Internet cable system within one year, by-passing the existing connection through Bangkok. Prince of Songkhla University will cooperate with the ICT Ministry to establish a new program to meet the needs of the local software industry, the success of which will depend on a ready supply of young people with programming skills. Transport: In a meeting on Friday at Phuket International Airport, K Somkid said that a Cabinet committee was preparing a request for a 500-million-baht budget from the BoI to improve Phuket’s transport infrastructure. It noted that that total will not cover all budget requests from all transport agencies. The Airports Authority of Thailand alone has requested 500 million baht for a massive upgrade to the airport that would include runway extensions, expansion of the main and cargo terminals, and many other improvements. Other budget requests include: – The Harbor Department’s 350-million baht request to upgrade the deep sea port at Ao Por, Thalang. The project’s environmental impact assessment is still being prepared. – Phuket Governor CEO Pongpayome Vasaputi’s 38-million baht plan to construct a new bus terminal for the island in Koh Kaew to ease traffic congestion in Phuket Town. K. Somkid, however, viewed the proposed site as too far from the city center and expressed worry about the environmental effects of building there. – Other areas for transport improvement discussed included roadside rest stops and language training for taxi and tuk-tuk drivers. K. Somkid said that a cabinet committee will evaluate all of the proposed transport projects and submit the 500-million-baht budget request to the BoI within one month.

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Phuket

Phuket’s Soi Dog Foundation opens Humane Education Centre at Mai Khao shelter

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Phuket’s Soi Dog Foundation opens Humane Education Centre at Mai Khao shelter | The Thaiger

The Soi Dog Foundation has officially opened its Humane Education Centre, the first of its kind in Thailand dedicated to the welfare of stray animals. The centre, located at the Soi Dog shelter in northern Phuket, forms part of the foundation’s Humane Education program. Rolled out in 2017, the program sees a team visit Thai schools to teach the next generation the basic principles of animal welfare and promote empathetic attitudes towards both owned pets and free-roaming strays.

The program has reached a total of 15,058 students and 861 teachers to date. With a dedicated classroom as well as educational tools and resources now on site at the shelter, Soi Dog will be able to expand the programme and reach an even greater number of young minds.

Co-founder and president of Soi Dog Foundation International John Dalley said, “The cornerstones of what we do – what I believe very firmly are the answers to the stray dog problem throughout Asia – are large-scale sterilisation of stray dogs and cats and education of, particularly, the next generation.

“We see all the time the problems that are being caused through us not respecting the environment and not respecting the other animals with whom we share this planet. That’s why education is so important.”

John also thanked the supporters and donors who made the construction of the centre possible. After cutting the ribbon, the students filed into the brand-new facility for the very first on-site class – a fun and interactive hour of roleplaying, brainstorming and problem solving.

Humane Education Manager Nuttawut “Film” Kumngern. said… “We want to encourage kindness toward animals, especially free-roaming dogs and cats, and teach youngsters to be responsible pet owners. This will sustainably reduce animal cruelty and pet abandonment.”

“We hope to one day see animal welfare incorporated into the curriculum in Thai schools, and our education centre is a great start.”

Soi Dog is ready to welcome school groups from Phuket and other provinces to the centre which can accommodate up to 40 students at any one time. Schools interested in participating are encouraged to email film@soidog.org

Phuket's Soi Dog Foundation opens Humane Education Centre at Mai Khao shelter | News by The ThaigerPhuket's Soi Dog Foundation opens Humane Education Centre at Mai Khao shelter | News by The Thaiger

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International Schools

Police have yet to investigate illegal hiring of foreign teachers at international school in Phuket

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Police have yet to investigate illegal hiring of foreign teachers at international school in Phuket | The Thaiger

Chalong police in Phuket say they have yet to start investigating the illegal hiring of foreign teachers at an international school in Rawai, south of the island. Palm House International School allegedly hired foreign teachers illegally in which 2 were arrested by Phuket Immigration police on November 4.

Somkiet Sarasin, the leading investigator of the case, says the 2 Brits were informed that police were processing a charge of working illegally in the country against them, in which both denied the charges. Somkiet says the 2 were released on bail, but did not confirm the amount of bail that was set by the police.

“They are still staying in Thailand. I am not worried. I have their passports. I am not available to explain [any details] because the investigation is still ongoing.”

“This is normal for an investigation when the suspects deny the charge against them. I have to check more information against their claims. This case will probably be concluded next month.”

However, the investigation has yet to begin, with Somkiet saying he has not even questioned the owner of the school, despite his claims the case would be finished next month.

“The investigation into the school will take time. The investigation into the two British people must be finished first.”

Such allegations of foreign teachers working illegally have recently been in the news after Sarasas Witaed Sainoi Pitiyakarn School, in the central province of Nonthaburi, saw 7 foreign teachers probed for being hired illegally. That school, along with others in its private network, made nationwide news after CCTV caught a Thai teacher hitting, pushing and dragging a young student in the classroom. Such widespread violence against students has long been a sad component of many Thai schools, in which some of the teachers are unqualified and unlicensed to teach, but are hired anyway.

SOURCE: The Phuket News

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Tourism

Phuket sees 300 million baht boost over long holiday weekend

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Phuket sees 300 million baht boost over long holiday weekend | The Thaiger

The Tourism Authority of Thailand says that Phuket has received a much-needed 300 million baht boost over the 4 day long weekend with around 54,000 tourists flocking to the island from last Thursday through to yesterday.

Phuket Office Director Nanthasiri Ronnasiri, reports that the average expenditure per visitor was about 5,500 baht, which was higher than the average spend for a Thai tourist to Phuket 2 years ago. She also noted that random checks on hotels showed that occupancy rates climbed to about 35%, with most guests staying 2 nights. But most of Phuket’s hotels remain closed.

Nanthasiri also says that many of the tourists concentrated themselves in the Phuket Old Town area, especially around Thalang Road, Phang Nga Road, and Dibuk Road in order to enjoy at the Sino-Portuguese shophouse architecture and historical locations. In fact much of Phuket Town, including its many markets and alley eateries, were doing roaring business, The Thaiger can vouch for the heavy traffic, on the roads and footpaths, over the past 4 days.

“This special holiday made Phuket tourism livelier, even though it was not as same as the situation before the Covid-19 pandemic.”

In fact, despite the welcome surge of visitors, it was still a long, long way from its previous tourist levels with much of the west coast, which has largely catered for the international tourist traffic, was still very quiet in places like Patong, Kata and Karon.

Phuket wasnt the only destination that has profited off of the long weekend as Chiang Mai saw droves of Thai tourists visiting its Royal Park Rajapruek as well as the northern city’s other nearby national parks and tourist areas. Visitors came from all over to see the blossoming of flowers in a beautiful display at the park as well as enjoying the air-purifying flowers as they relaxed. Tourists were able to rent a bicycle for 60 baht if they wanted to exercise while taking in the scenery and could also pay a visit to the orchid greenhouse, which hosts a variety of orchids in bloom. TripAdvisor recommends to set aside 2 hours to visit the park.

Next holiday weekend, on November 27 and 28, Pattaya is expected to get a tourism boost as its annual fireworks festivalis set to bring in travellers who have taken advantage of package deals offered by some beachside hotels. Such packages were offered for advance bookings, where holidaymakers could view the firework shows on the rooftops of their hotels. The firework displays are said to be long with breaks of entertainment-packed shows, featuring live music and student bands amongst others.

Phuket sees 300 million baht boost over long holiday weekend | News by The Thaiger

SOURCE: The Phuket News

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