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Update: Security stepped up nationwide after bombings

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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Update: Security stepped up nationwide after bombings | The Thaiger

PHUKET: In a statement issued this morning, Phuket Governor Chamroen Tipayapongtada said has ordered additional security personnel to be deployed across the island, in the wake of two blasts in Patong this morning.

The governor’s comments come after a meeting with military and police advisers at Phuket Provincial Hall. The province was put on ‘high alert’ yesterday, after a bomb blast at a market in downtown Trang killed one person and wounded seven others (story here).

“I have ordered an increase of personnel to be deployed at checkpoints, bus stations, markets, tourist attractions, government offices and Phuket International Airport,” Gov Chamroen said. “I’ve also asked that government offices be guarded for the next 24 hours, and for local officers to ensure that public places are well-lit and that CCTV systems are working properly.”

Highway Police set up an additional checkpoint on the northbound lane of Thepkrasattri Road before the airport, near their kiosk, this morning. That checkpoint backed up traffic for several kilometers to the south, before being dismantled this afternoon.

Travelers headed to the airport should allow additional time for security checks and traffic jams. Nearly half of all flights through Phuket International airport have been delayed.

Governor Chamroen’s comments echo those of Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwan, who said that local security forces nationwide have stepped up measures in response to the unprecedented spate of explosions that rattled the Kingdom yesterday and today.

Mr Prawit’s security adviser, Panitan Wattanayagorn, said it is probable that the bombings were carried out by a network, given the close ranges in detonation timings.

He also said that the two inactive firebombs found in Patong yesterday have never been used in attacks carried out by the southern insurgency (story here).

The Embassy of the United States in Bangkok issued a statement of condolences to the victims of the attacks, stating, “We express our deepest sympathy to all those affected by the bombings in Thailand. Our thoughts are with the victims and their families.”

Australia’s Foreign Ministry has issued a travel advisory to its citizens in the Kingdom in response to the bombings.

“Some of these explosions have occurred in locations frequented by tourists, including in Hua Hin, Surat Thani and Patong, Phuket,” the statement reads. “Further explosions in any part of Thailand are possible. There may be an increased security presence and restrictions on local travel movements.

“[Travelers] should avoid the affected areas and other crowded places, monitor local media and follow the instructions of local media,” it said. “We continue to advise Australians to exercise a high degree of caution in Thailand.”

— Gazette Reporters

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Crime

Phuket police arrest meth dealer, discover drugs valued at 15 million baht

The Thaiger & The Nation

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Phuket police arrest meth dealer, discover drugs valued at 15 million baht | The Thaiger

PHOTO: Newshawk Phuket

Drugs valued at 15 million baht have been seized in a drug crackdown in Phuket. On October 22, Phuket police, along with Phuket Governor Pakkapong Tawipat, reported to the media about a drug crackdown that ended up with a total seizure valued around 15 million baht.

Earlier, the police received a report from an undercover agent that a woman named ‘Ying’ or ‘Suthicha Thirawut’ was a local drug dealer trading drugs in Phuket area, so police planned to purchase drugs from the woman. They contacted Ying through another woman named ‘Noina’, Ying’s close friend. Around 10pm on October 20, police bought 1 gram of crystal methamphetamine from Noina before arresting Ying and another man, Thanet Thongtan, at the Naka Condominium.

The two confessed that they receive the drug from a man who they weren’t able to name, in order to sell in Phuket. They were paid 40,000 – 50,000 baht per time and admitted to police that they have done this for the man three times already. This time, the drugs hadn’t been sold to customers as they were arrested before being able to make a sale.

Apart from 2.4 kilograms of crystal methamphetamine, valued around 4.8 million baht, the police also discovered 76,800 methamphetamine pills, worth around 11 million baht.

The three are now assisting Phuket police with their enquires related to the case.

SOURCE: Newshawk Phuket

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News

30 dolphins greet visitors to Similan Islands

Greeley Pulitzer

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30 dolphins greet visitors to Similan Islands | The Thaiger

Tourists were treated to the sight of a school of dolphins in the Similan Islands off the Phang Nga coast on Sunday.

Tour organisers said that around 30 dolphins swam close to the boat six or seven miles offshore, creating excitement for passengers. It was the first time dolphins had been seen in the vicinity since October 15.

The Similan Islands National Park director said they were bottlenose dolphins and were among several species now returning to the area following a five-year closure of the park for environmental rehabilitation. Food is again plentiful there for them, he said.

Tourists are forbidden to feed wildlife lest the free handouts alter the animals’ natural behaviour, and the park’s waters are also very sensitive to contamination from human disease and marine debris, according to the director.

SOURCE: nationthailand.com

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Patong

Phuket hotels slashing the price of rooms

The Thaiger

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Phuket hotels slashing the price of rooms | The Thaiger

by Sophie Deviller

Hotels on Thailand’s most popular holiday island are being forced to slash prices, with rooms left vacant and beaches sparse as Thailand’s tourism chiefs struggle with a plunge in Chinese visitors caused by the US trade war and a stronger baht. Phuket was the most visited destination in the country last year, after Bangkok, and a good gauge of the state of its crucial travel industry.

Tourism accounts for 18% of Thailand’s gross domestic product and Chinese holidaymakers make up more than a quarter of total arrivals. But while 2.2 million people from the country visited in 2018, according to official figures, the numbers for January-September were down almost 20% year on year.

Claude de Crissey, the French Honorary Consul in Phuket and owner of about 40 rooms in the Patong Beach area, says Chinese tourists are usually present even during the current low season.

“That was not the case this year,” he said, adding he had to lower his prices by as much as 50%.

The problem is not only in Phuket, with hotels also struggling to fill rooms in the seaside resort of Pattaya on the mainland and on Koh Samui.

Trade tensions with the US have already made some Chinese reluctant to take holidays owing to uncertainty back home, while the Thai baht has risen about 10% against the yuan this year.

A boating disaster off Phuket’s coast that killed 47 Chinese holidaymakers in July 2018 also scared some off.

“We are worried,” said an industry insider, declining to be named due to the sensitivity of the topic in a country where tourism provides tens of thousands of jobs. Adding to the headache is the fact that more than 3,000 new hotel rooms are being constructed on the island, raising the question of who will fill them.

Phuket hotels slashing the price of rooms | News by The Thaiger

“In terms of business, it’s not good,” said Kongsak Khoopongsakorn, vice-president of the association of hotels in Thailand and director of Vijitt Resort.

“Because … we have more hotels, more rooms to sell, we have more restaurants, more coffee shops.”

Still, tourism authority chairman Yuthasak Supasorn said he remained “optimistic.”

“We should reach our goal of 39.8 million foreign visitors.”

However, that is only up from 38.2 million in 2018, much less than the jump seen from the previous year’s total of 35.6 million.

Counting on India

Now hoteliers and tour package operators are targeting visitors from elsewhere, particularly India, which experts see as a huge untapped market.

A rapid expansion of the middle class in India, increased direct flights and visa-free travel have prompted Thailand to revise forecasts upwards.

It now expects two million Indian tourists this year, after an increase of nearly 25% on-year in the first seven months. But for now, the lower arrivals is evident on the streets of Phuket.

“I’ve never seen anything as bad as what it is at the moment,” said Paul Scott from Australia, who said he has been coming to Thailand for 15 years.

He mainly blamed the stronger baht for the drop-off but also the fact that Thailand wasn’t the untouched vacation paradise it once was. “Now it’s not so new … and it’s not cheap,” he said.

SOURCE: AFP

Phuket hotels slashing the price of rooms | News by The Thaiger

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