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Tourism: Phuket better than most

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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Tourism: Phuket better than most | Thaiger
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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

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Tourism

Phuket’s July Sandbox no-quarantine model “needs a major revamp”

Tim Newton

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Phuket’s July Sandbox no-quarantine model “needs a major revamp” | Thaiger
PHOTO: The monsoon waves are starting to hit Phuket's west coast

Thailand’s Sports and Tourism minister Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn is acknowledging that Phuket’s ‘Sandbox’ model for a no-quarantine re-opening in July will need “a major revamp”. As the Songkran travel bubble bursts and the monsoon season waves start to roll onto the island’s west coast beaches, Phuket’s scheduled July re-boot suddenly seems a long way off.

Minister Phiphat says he plans to meet with “all related agencies” this week. Apart from the latest national re-surge in new infections, Phuket has been unable to get its hands on sufficient vaccines to meed its deadline of 70% of the island vaccinated by July 1. Thailand’s limited supplies of the vaccine – including some 930,000 doses designated for Phuket – are being rerouted to other provinces as the government prioritises the limited supply.

“We are all concerned about the reopening timeline,” he was quoted in Bangkok Post.

But the Minister did acknowledge that, if the 70% vaccination level couldn’t be met, they may consider opening some areas of the island. Exactly how that would work hasn’t been revealed at this stage.

The minister also brought up the ongoing travel bubble negotiations and says he hadn’t heard back from some of the candidates with their reaction to the current outbreak.

Flights in and out of Phuket Airport’s international terminal have been extremely patchy and the flights from feeder tourist markets will need to co-operate with any re-opening plans.

Phuket, whilst suffering a rise in new infections, hasn’t been hit as hard as some of the other popular holiday provinces, like Chiang Mai, Chon Buri (Pattaya) and Prachuap Khiri Khan (Hua Hin).

This year’s Songkran was going to be a major stepping stone for the island’s recovery and many hotels, some who had opened especially to cater for Songkran holiday traffic, noted a lot of cancellations just prior to the break.

But some island hotels have still reported high occupancy rates over the past week. One Manager, who did not want his name published, said that their hotel was almost full with Thai patrons, most who had pre-paid for their flights and accommodation and decided to go ahead anyway.

Bhummikitti Ruktaengam, the president of the Phuket Tourist Association, says that they are opposed to any lockdown as it would cripple the island, with its tourist businesses already suffering greatly. He stated that 15% of people cancelled their Songkran bookings, while 30% had postponed their trips.

The Sports and Tourism Ministers is still in quarantine after having close contact with Transport Minister Saksayam Chidchob, who was diagnosed with Covid-19 2 weeks ago.

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Phuket begs Kolour attendees to come for Covid-19 testing

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Phuket begs Kolour attendees to come for Covid-19 testing | Thaiger
FILE PHOTO: Kolour in the park was more pleasant in 2018 before Covid-19.

Health officials in Phuket put out a public statement this week compelling all foreigners who attended clubs and Kolour events to report for Covid-19 testing. As many might expect, the response has been lacklustre at best. Spreading the message around the foreigner and expat community in Phuket, the message is aimed at the multitudes of people, mostly foreign who attended Kolour and related events that turned into a Covid-19 superspreader event. Many foreigners have not come forward, much to health officials chagrin.

Online and on social media, foreigners and Thais shed light on why this urgent public health request is going largely unheeded. Foreigners fear the repercussions of coming forward, especially since Thailand is not allowing staying home or elsewhere in isolation if someone tests positive for Covid-19. Quarantine is mandatory, and with infection numbers exploding across the country, many fear the less-than-posh comforts of being quarantined in an emergency field hospital.

Cost is the other factor that likely is preventing foreigners from turning themselves in to be tested for Covid-19. While Phuket health officials may test people for free, anyone found infected with Covid-19 will be financially responsible for all the costs of their treatment and quarantine. Foreigners with limited financial resources, especially after a year of holing up in Thailand to ride out the Coronavirus, may resist reporting to authorities when they cannot afford the mandatory quarantine and medical treatment.

Perhaps recognizing this hesitation, the message includes a plea for all attendees to self-quarantine and self-monitor for any symptoms over the next week, even if they fail to report or test negative. The note also reminds everyone to wear masks in public at all times. The statement to the public also instructed anyone who attended any of the Covid-19 spreading nightlife events to report to the Acute Respiratory Infection Clinic area of Vachira General Hospital to receive a Covid-19 swab test.

SOURCE: The Pattaya News

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Pattaya, Phuket and Hua Hin brace for increased restrictions

Tim Newton

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Pattaya, Phuket and Hua Hin brace for increased restrictions | Thaiger

Three of Thailand’s biggest expat areas are seeing sharp rises in new infections, partly from pre-Songkran traffic. The Songkran holidays, now officially over (but will see many people taking today off and making a weekend Songkran extension), and the government says they are expecting to see a rise in the cases numbers reported in the popular holiday locations.

Chon Buri Public Health office says they now have a total of 910 infections since April 1. They have 103 new cases in the past 24 hours. Most new cases are in Bang Lamung district which includes Pattaya City with 47, Siracha with 12) & Chon buri City with 8.

Pattaya, Phuket and Hua Hin brace for increased restrictions | News by Thaiger

Meanwhile Phuket has a total of 142 infections recorded on the island with the Governor still insisting there will be no need for a lockdown. Here’s a breakdown of the areas and the numbers of recorded infections so far (below).

Governor Narong announced that the Phuket Infectious Disease Control Committee won’t be implementing an official lockdown, but will “strictly raise the intensity of public health measures to counter the spread of Covid-19″.

“Everyone should wear a face mask, maintain social distancing, wash their hands frequently and install the Mor Chana app (available for free from App Store and Google Play Store).”

A meeting of the CCSA, chaired by PM Prayut Chan-o-cha is expected to upgrade restrictions in red zone areas around the country, which includes Phuket and Pattaya. Read more about the latest red and orange zones HERE.

Pattaya, Phuket and Hua Hin brace for increased restrictions | News by Thaiger

For Hua Hin expats, there’s been 100 new Covid-19 infections announced in Prachuap Khiri Khan in the past 24 hours, 75 cases from Hua Hin. This takes the total in the province since April 1 to 625. Hua Hin accounts for nearly 90% of the district’s total cases.

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