Tourists to be routed to Phuket

Phuket NEWS Hound

– A daily, pocket-sized packet of news from around the world, compiled by Phuket Gazette reporters for foreigners who want it short, sharp and straight to the point.

PHUKET: Government sectors have teamed up to create the National Tourist Assistance Center (NTAC) to help tourists during the current mass rally against the government in Bangkok. Conducted by the red-shirted United Front for Democracy Against Dictatorship (UDD), the ‘rally’ is expected to turn into heated protests, possibly with violence, this weekend.

According to the National News Bureau of Thailand, the NTAC will operate until March 23, when the rally is scheduled to end. Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) spokesperson Sansern Ngaorungsi says the center is printing 200,000 leaflets recommending travel routes and attractions for tourists in the Kingdom during the rally period. The recommendatons are likely to include Phuket, since the island province is a calm zone in terms of national politics.

The leaflets are being distributed to hotels nationwide and will also be handed out at major airport and border immigration points.

Thai students in visa trouble in USA

The Nation
A Thai government house committee yesterday urged the Foreign Affairs Ministry to blacklist controversial overseas language schools. More than 50 Thais have been arrested in the United States after they enrolled in a California language institute. Their offences include overstaying a visa, not sitting in class long enough per week, or working during their course, a violation of the terms of their visas.

It is reported that some 200 Thai students at this institute are now living illegally in the US. They have gone into hiding to avoid arrest.

The Thai government committee says students should carefully check their visa type and its conditions, as well as the practices of any language school to avoid running into trouble.

Thai bonds to benefit from protests

Business Week
Thai government bonds, the second-best performers in Asia this year, will see further gains as investors seek safety in fixed-income assets amid the mass protests against the nation’s current government, says ING Groep NV.

“Elevated political risk makes Thailand an attractive bond market,” according to Singapore-based Tim Condon, ING’s chief ecoonomist for Asia. Bonds denominated in Thai baht have gained 2.1 percent this year. An escalation in political tensions may prompt the Bank of Thailand to refrain from increasing borrowing costs and adopt other policies favorable to investors, such as the one-day bond repurchase rate being unchanged at 1.25 percent for a seventh straight meeting, the lowest level since July 2004.

Northern Thailand shrouded in smog

The Nation
The Public Health Ministry of Thailand found that nearly 100,000 people had fallen ill from the smog shrouding eight provinces in the North and warned that more would be affected if the situation persists. The ministry has already sent hundreds of thousands of face masks to Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, Lampang, Phayao, Nan, Phrae, and Mae Hong Son.
The number of patients at 19 hospitals in the eight provinces has risen sharply since January, and in the past week alone 96,040 people have showed up for treatment. If the current smog situation continues or worsens, more people will need to seek treatment, so the ministry has instructed hospital medical staff to start making preparations.

Jetstar sale

TODAY Online
Jetstar is having a network-wide sale in which all-inclusive, one-way tickets to many destinations, including Phuket, Bangkok, Penang, Kuala Lumpur, Bali and Ho Chi Minh City, can be bought at deep discounts. Travellers can also get discounted fares to destinations beyond the region – to Australia, New Zealand, Fiji and Hawaii.

The discounts apply to the ‘Jetsaver Light’ category, meaning that the luggage weight limit is 10kg.

The sale, offering 500,000 seats, runs until Monday, March 15, with the travel period open from April to November. For terms and conditions and to book, visit www.jetstar.com

— Gazette Editors

Phuket News

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