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TAT sees revival of Japanese tourism in Phuket

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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TAT sees revival of Japanese tourism in Phuket | The Thaiger
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PATONG: The Director of the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) Tokyo office expects about 300,000 Japanese to visit Phuket during the second half of 2005, as the message that it is now safe to return to Phuket is finally being heard.

TAT Tokyo Office Director Patchaneelux Swatdee made the comments during a meeting of tourism industry experts at the Graceland Resort and Spa in Patong.

The meeting, chaired by Phuket Governor Udomsak Uswarangkura, was part of the Phuket leg of the “2nd MEGA-FAM” trip from Japan, which saw some 180 members of the Japanese tourism industry escorted around Bangkok and the Andaman region on an all-expenses-paid “familiarization trip” intended to show that Thai tourism is functioning normally after the tsunami.

The tour was organized by the Tourism Council of Thailand and the TAT.

The TAT arranged all accommodation, tour programs and ground support, while Thai Airways provided all air tickets. The visitors are staying at luxury hotels in Phuket, courtesy of a number of top resorts.

Their August 24-27 tour began in Bangkok with a briefing about developments at the scandal-plagued Suvarnabhumi Airport, new tourism products available in Thailand and an overview of tourism in the country.

The visitors’ itinerary in the Andaman region included a visit to the tsunami early-warning towers at Patong Beach and a tour of islands and beaches in Phang Nga Bay.

In her speech, K. Patchaneelux said that Japanese arrivals to Phuket plummeted after the tsunami, even though some 487,000 Japanese arrived at Bangkok International Airport between January and June, a rise of more than 5% compared with the first half of 2004.

Tourists from Japan opted to go to resorts in other parts of the country, such as Hua Hin and Koh Chang, because they felt it would be disrespectful to visit a place that had recently suffered a disaster, she added.

She felt confident that close co-operation between the TAT and the Japanese Association of Travel Agents would help dispel misconceptions about the real extent of the damage in the region.

“The Japanese are still very keen to help tsunami-affected areas. We were still getting donations at the Thai Embassy in Japan until the TAT asked them to stop, explaining that the best way to help is by taking a vacation here,” she said.

“Between July and December [2005], we expect a total of 800,000 Japanese to visit Thailand. The nationwide target for 2005 is 1.3 million tourists. We hosted almost 500,000 visitors in the first half of the year,” K. Patchaneelux added.

“We expect 300,000 Japanese tourists to visit Phuket between July and December. We have been working hard to help the Andaman Region, and we really believe we can do it.”

Tourism Council of Thailand President Vichit Na Ranong told the meeting that the National Disaster Warning Center’s Tsunami Early-Warning System, already completed in Patong, would go a long way toward reassuring the Japanese market that Phuket can conduct a successful evacuation, should another tsunami appear imminent.

The tsunami only affected 10% to 15% of the island, and it is now completely safe to travel here, he told his Japanese guests.

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Tourism

Phuket prepares to welcome first Chinese tourists in over 6 months

Maya Taylor

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Phuket prepares to welcome first Chinese tourists in over 6 months | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Jing Daily

The first group of tourists to arrive under Thailand’s new Special Tourist Visa scheme are expected to land in Phuket on October 8. The Bangkok Post reports that a flight from Guangzhou in southern China will carry 120 tourists, who will spend their first 14 days in alternative state quarantine. They are reported to be travelling under the government’s new STV.

Arrivals who do not pass the initial health screening will be transferred to specially chosen hospitals, as “Patients under Investigation”. Those who do pass the screening will be transported to alternative state quarantine once they’ve gone through immigration processing.

A Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration spokesperson says the resort islands of Phuket and Koh Samui will be the first to welcome travellers under the Special Tourist Via scheme. He pointed out that Guangzhou has not recorded any new cases of the Covid-19 virus for a prolonged period, meaning next week’s tourist arrivals are deemed “low risk”. His assertion is confirmed from the official figures at worldometer.info website recording world Covid-19 cases.

The CCSA reports that there will be a limit of 300 foreign tourists admitted each week, but this will be reviewed after the first phase of the re-opening. All arrivals will be subject to 14 day quarantine, although the Tourism and Sports Minister Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn has suggested reducing this to 7 days eventually. The CCSA says they are not considering reducing the quarantine time at this stage.

Thiravat Hemachudha from the Thai Red Cross Emerging Infectious Disease Health Science Centre is not opposed to the idea.

“We can study this with foreign visitors who will arrive next month. During the 14 day quarantine they will be tested on the first, the seventh and the fourteenth day. If they are free of infections, we can shorten the quarantine to 7 days.”

However, not all are in agreement, with a doctor from Bangkok’s Chulalongkorn University cautioning against any shortening of the quarantine period.

Meanwhile, Phuket governor, Narong Woonsiew, says the province is ready to welcome the new arrivals, with Covid-19 labs in place at Phuket airport, and officials due to carry out a full dress rehearsal today.

Thanit Sermkaew, chief of the Phuket Public Health Office, says over 1,200 rooms at 9 hotels have been chosen as alternative state quarantine properties, with a total of 73 hotels, providing over 5,800 rooms, applying for consideration.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Phuket

Woman arrested for abandoning newborn baby on a bench in Phuket

Caitlin Ashworth

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Woman arrested for abandoning newborn baby on a bench in Phuket | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Siangtai/Newshawk Phuket

Police tracked down and arrested a Burmese woman who allegedly left her newborn baby on a bench in Phuket’s Patong area last week. The mother faces charges of abandoning a baby.

The newborn was left in a reusable shopping bag on a bench behind a Krungthai Bank branch. A woman in the area heard the baby crying and found the newborn in the bag along with a bottle of milk, diapers and clothing. Police reviewed surveillance camera footage shows a woman, police later identified as Ei Ei Phyu, leaving the bag on the bench.

Police say the woman gave birth on September 9 at a local hospital in Surat Thani’s Phun Phin district. Ei Ei allegedly took a van from Surat Thani to Phuket on September 22 and stayed with a friend in Patong. The early the next morning, she allegedly left her baby on the bench before boarding a bus back to Surat Thani.

Burmese workers in the Patong area told police Ei Ei used to work at a local Indian food restaurant before she moved to Surat Thani to work as a rubber tapper. Ei Ei allegedly told police she is not in the position to raise a child.

In earlier reports, police said the baby is healthy and does not appear to have any injuries.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Thailand

Phuket police arrest 6 after finding large amounts of methamphetamine in raid

The Thaiger & The Nation

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Phuket police arrest 6 after finding large amounts of methamphetamine in raid | The Thaiger

Phuket Provincial Police have arrested 6 people after finding large amounts of methamphetamine and other drugs during a raid. One suspect alone allegedly had 7.6 kilograms of crystal meth (ya ice) and over 12,500 methamphetamine pills (ya bah). 29 year old Surasak ‘Bank’ Wijit and 27 year old Panida ‘Mei’ Saeyang were arrested at an apartment car park in Soi Lookkaew, Moo 6, Rassada, in eastern Phuket, after they were found in possession of the drugs.

Police also found 2 mobile phones and a red Honda PCX, registered in Phuket, as evidence. Both suspects have been charged with posessing a Category 1 drug with the intent to sell.

Other suspects arrested at the same time include 36 year old from Chiang Rai, 42 year old Sarawut ‘An’ Srichanon, from Ranong and 31 year old Pornthep ‘Iew’ Thepchampa, who were charged with the same crimes in Chalong after police found more drugs in their possession. 33 year old Kamon ‘Kung’ Sae-ngow, was arrested as well after police found kratom juice and leaves at a house in Rassada. He was taken to Phuket City Police station and was charged with a Category 5 drug possession.

SOURCE:The Phuket News

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