Tourism: Phuket better than most

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PHUKET: Tourism in Thailand suffered heavily in May, but Phuket continued to do better than most.

The Bangkok Post reports that tourist arrivals and hotel occupancy plummeted, particularly in the Central and Northern provinces of the Kingdom.

According to the Bank of Thailand, arrivals declined by 12% year-on-year in May, after a record number of foreigners came to the country in the first quarter.

But international trade and investment, driven by strong external demand, helped shore up the economy.

Despite the violent protests in May, the overall economy expanded moderately from the previous month, says Mathee Supapongse, director of the central bank’s Domestic Economy Department.

But tourism was a disaster, with hotel occupancies falling to 35% in May compared with an average of 50% for the past five years.

Bangkok and the North were hardest hit, but some southern destinations, particularly Phuket, enjoyed a slight increase from the same period last year.

Thai diplomat honored

The Nation
The Thai ambassador recently named president of the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) said his election demonstrates Thailand’s positive international profile and increases the country’s visibility on the world stage.

Sihasak Phuangketkeow, presently permanent representative of Thailand to the UN in Geneva, told Thai News Agency that Thailand needed to be clear and stand firm on its stance on some issues it had previously avoided.

The UNHRC is an inter-governmental body within the United Nations system, comprising 47 nations responsible for providing humanitarian assistance while strengthening the promotion and protection of human rights around the world.

Sihasak was the only candidate nominated from Asia and won the votes of 41 countries.

Thai Real Estate: Price slump continues

Property Report
Thailand’s Agency for Real Estate Affairs (AREA) has revealed that the number of newly launched projects increased by 45 per cent during the first five months of 2010, but the average unit price for new launches dropped by a whopping 35 per cent compared to the same period last year.

AREA’s President Dr Sopon Pornchokchai said that 111 new property projects were launched in Thailand during the first five months of the year, with a total of 28,374 units.

Of the 111 new projects, 24 came from Prueksa Real Estate, one of Thailand’s largest listed property developers.

Dr Sopon predicted that there will be a total of 266 new projects, or 69,233 units, launched by the end of this year, with the average sales price per unit deteriorating still further to just 2.25 million baht (US$69,325) per unit.

Nok Air suspends routes

TTR Weekly
Nok Mini has suspended four routes in Thailand after the company from which it leases aircraft declined to renew the contract on two Saab 340Bs. That contract expired yesterday.

The company did not elaborate on why it was not renewing the contract.

One of the routes, Chiang Rai-Xishuangbanna, was only launched last month.

The four affected routes are: Chiang Rai-Xishuangbanna; Chiang Mai-Chiang Rai; Chiang Mai-Udon Thani; and Chiang Mai-Khon Kaen.

Nok Mini is confident that it will not need to suspend the Chiang Mai-Mae Hong Son operation as it can be maintained using a Cessa 208B at least during the low-season.

Two other routes remain operable. They are Chiang Mai-Pai and Chiang Mai-Nan, both served daily.

From 16 August, the Pai services will become twice daily.

Man aged 90 charged with rape

7 News
A 90-year-old Australian was arrested and charged with raping four young sisters whom he allegedly lured to his home in Thailand with imported chocolates and English lessons, police said Wednesday.

One girl was 5 when the alleged abuse began. The sisters are now 7 to 15.

Karl Joseph Kraus was arrested Tuesday at his home near Chiang Mai, where police confiscated about 100 photographs of naked children, said Doi Saket police chief Kritapol Yeesakorn.

The parents recently noticed the girls had lost interest in playing outside and asked them what was wrong, and then took them to police who immediately sought an arrest warrant, the police chief said.

He was charged with rape and sexual abuse.

Malaria on the wane in Cambodia

Medilexicon
A two-year effort aimed at preventing the emergence of drug-resistant malaria near the border between Cambodia and Thailand is showing signs of success, Duong Socheat, head of Cambodia’s National Center for Malaria Control, says.

So far, 2,448 people have been tested near the town of Pailin in Cambodia, but only two cases of malaria resistant to Artemisinin Combination Therapy (ACT) have been identified, Socheat said, adding that the result was “encouraging.”

The six-week program tested people in six of Cambodia’s “most malaria-prone villages,” the government says.

Steven Bjorge, a World Health Organization malaria specialist in Phnom Penh, says: “It looks like we are having success. I am cautiously optimistic.”

— Gazette Editors

Phuket News

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