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Vice Governor vows to demolish Surin Beach clubs

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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Vice Governor vows to demolish Surin Beach clubs | The Thaiger

PHUKET: What was once arguably Phuket’s most famous stretch of beach clubs will be demolished by New Year, vowed Phuket Vice Governor Chokdee Amornwat today.

“It will take about two weeks to clear all the buildings and broken construction materials from Surin Beach boardwalk,” explained Vice Governor Chokdee. “This needs to be clearly explained to the English-speaking community impacted so that they understand that what we are doing is returning the beach to its former, natural beauty – a gift to the world for New Years.”

Only one man’s signature is preventing the government from establishing a start date for the demolition of Bimi Beach Club, Catch Beach Club and a number of other iconic establishments.

Watcharin Patomwattanapong, acting chief of the Phuket Provincial Administration Organization (PPAO), is required to sign off on the destruction of a number of buildings which are owned by the PPAO and were leased out to locals, who then allowed private businesses to operate at the facilities.

Mr Watcharin is expected to return to Phuket this week, confirmed a PPAO representative who declined to be named.

“I do not have the authority to say yes or no with regards to the demolition of those buildings. I will report the meeting minutes as soon as he returns,” said the representative.

V/Gov Chokdee vowed to follow up with Mr Watcharin to ensure that the demolition was made a priority.

The beach clubs, as well as the restaurants and other businesses on the east side of the Surin beachfront path are occupying units originally built by the government. However, many of the units had been modified, while other structures unassociated with them had been built.

Post-tsunami, the Cherng Talay Tambon Administration Organization (OrBorTor) established 10 buildings on public park land next to the beach, each with two units, while the PPAO constructed 16 buildings paid for by the Overseas Economic Cooperation Fund of Japan.

“Demolishing all the buildings along Surin Beach is not that easy. Some of them are government property. We need to talk about it and bring other government departments into the conversation,” Phuket Governor Chamroen Tipayapongtada said last year while still acting as vice governor.

“We need to see what needs to be done in order to do everything legally. We need to follow the law and examine leases and contracts.

“Part of that will be looking at who was originally given the non-transferable permission to use the buildings, and who is currently using them under what conditions.”

Despite some of the buildings being legal and some of the modifications made to them being sanctioned by the local government, OrBorTor President Ma-ann Samran remains firm in his desire to see them demolished.

“I admit that we were the ones who gave them permission to modify the buildings, to make them beautiful and to maintain them,” Mr Ma-ann said.

“I feel sorry for the people who used to have their businesses on the land, but the situation has changed. I believe that they have earned enough to just move on now.”

The only exceptions to the demolition orders will be a public stadium and a building that was built in honor of a visit by HM King Bhumibol Adulyadej in 1959.

Mr Ma-ann assured the Phuket Gazette that if he is able to have the area cleared, no new structures would be allowed to be built there.

At a meeting about the Surin Beach businesses today, Mr Ma-ann called for military backing when it came time to start the demolition. The move was quickly approved by V/Gov Chokdee and confirmed by Lt Sompop Kamkana of the Royal Thai Navy.

“I already have a team of 40 officers ready do be dispatched with backing from the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO),” Lt Sompop told the Gazette. “I would expect Provincial Police and civil volunteers to be present as well, so no less than 200 men to ensure that the work goes smoothly.”

Last week, Mr Ma-ann banned umbrellas and other vendors from Surin Beach after they disobeyed the recently implemented 10 per cent beach zone (story here).

“We have to follow through. We have come this far. If we do not get rid of those buildings, our job in implementing Phuket’s beach management policies will not be finished,” said V/Gov Chokdee.

— Chutharat Plerin

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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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Events

The 15th Mai Khao Marine Turtle fun run attracts more than 4,000 runners

The Thaiger

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The 15th Mai Khao Marine Turtle fun run attracts more than 4,000 runners | The Thaiger

4,000 runners from Thailand and overseas took part in the 15th Mai Khao Marine Turtle Fun Run and Half Marathon 2019 yesterday, starting from the Phuket Gateway.

The event is expected to raise 700,000 baht for the charity, now in its 15th year. The money raised goes towards to The Mai Khao Marine Turtle Foundation, which is committed to protecting the marine and coastal environment, and ecosystems, for the wellbeing of sea turtles that nest in the Mai Khao beach and the surrounding areas.

The annual race also provides funds for thePhuket Marine Biological Centre’s Injured Turtle Rehabilitation Program and The Third NavalArea Command’s Turtle Hatchery Program.

The race was in its 15th year and runners of all ages and abilities took part in the race. The morning’s racing was divided into five categories – the 21.1km half marathon, 10.5km mini- marathon, 5km fun run and 3k family run and VIP participants for all the races. The route of 21.1 kilometre race took runners northwest along the Haad Sai Kaew beach towards Thao Thepkasattri bridge, past the rural road No. 3006, run along the road – Pi Lai viewpoint area returned back along the T. Baan Tha Nun to the iconic Sarasin bridge before finished the half marathon in the Phuket Gateway.

For Mini Marathon 10.5 km – Over all category, Mr. Chinnawat Changlek clocked 39 minutes and 40 seconds to clinch victory in the male half marathon, winning prize money and a trophy with the signature of Phuket’s Governor. The winner in the female mini marathon was Surakarn Wanna with a time of 47 minutes and 47 seconds.

Winners also received a prize gift voucher as well as a medal. Congratulations to all participants.

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Events

‘Phang Nga Bay and Beyond’ exhibition by Marilyn Band at Mom Tri’s WOK Gallery Kitchen in November

The Thaiger

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‘Phang Nga Bay and Beyond’ exhibition by Marilyn Band at Mom Tri’s WOK Gallery Kitchen in November | The Thaiger

The Art exhibition “Phang Nga Bay and Beyond” by Marilyn Band is being held at Mom Tri’s WOK Gallery Kitchen, Chalong, Kata Hill, Phuket from November 30, 2019 – January 31, 2020. The opening will take place on Saturday November 30, 2019 at 6.30 pm.

Artist’s Statement

“For the current exhibition, I am presenting recent work, a more abstract expression of Phang Nga Bay’s beauty, which intends to encourage the viewer the opportunity to interpret and appreciate a little bit of paradise. I am quite excited about these more abstract works as it has allowed me to explore the essence of these limestone monuments in the bay.

“I find the natural world a beautiful, magical place. My paintings are inspired by many sea voyages. Though based on reality I try to introduce my own feelings and vision which will delight others.”

Biography

Marilyn Band has been creating art since childhood, influenced by a family who surrounded her with paintings and the creations of several generations of her ancestors who were famous stained glass artists. She went to Florence, Italy for life drawing and then went on to study graphics at High Wycombe Technical College in Buckinghamshire, England and started her career as a graphic designer in a variety of advertising agencies in London.

On Holiday in the Seychelles, she met her future husband, Nick Band, and they have been sailing around the Indian Ocean and SE Asia for more than forty years allowing Marilyn the chance to draw and paint the now disappearing tropical cultures from Zanzibar to Sri Lanka to Phuket, and beyond.

She arrived in Phuket in 1980 and immediately built a studio that has been the center of her art projects. Between sea voyages and other travels, Marilyn has become one of Phuket’s most significant artists with one person exhibitions at Mom Tri’s Boathouse and Villa Royale Galleries.

She has also designed and developed the graphics for the island’s world famous Phuket King’s Cup Regatta media.

She continues to explore new avenues of self- expression in acrylic, oil, watercolour, ink, collage and silkscreen.

'Phang Nga Bay and Beyond' exhibition by Marilyn Band at Mom Tri’s WOK Gallery Kitchen in November | News by The Thaiger

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