World Expo 2020: Phuket fails to make the cut

Phuket NEWS Hound

– A daily digest of news about Thailand from around the world, compiled by Gazette editors for Phuket’s international community.

PHUKET: Ayutthaya, Chon Buri and Chiang Mai have been short-listed in a six-month-long effort to name a Thai candidate city to host World Expo 2020.

The three possible venues, which have emerged after a six-month study by the Thailand Convention and Exhibition Bureau (TCEB), will be submitted to the Cabinet next week for approval.

If the Cabinet stands by the list, an in-depth study over the next four months will determine what needs to be done to make one of the three venues the best host city.

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TCEB president Akapol Sorasuchart said Ayutthaya’s advantage lay in its proximity to Bangkok, but it had the disadvantage of being flood-prone.

Chon Buri (Pattaya) is not far from Suvarnabhumi Airport and is close to a deep-sea port.

Chiang Mai has had the experience of hosting the Royal Expo, but if it is chosen, more infrastructure will need to be developed.

“These three provinces boast good infrastructure, accommodation, local hospitality and potential expansion after the event,” Akapol told a press conference on Friday.

“At this stage, Ayutthaya is ranked No 1, followed by Chon Buri and Chiang Mai.”

Key to Ayutthaya’s position is its easy access to a reasonable public transport network, something which Chon Buri and Chiang Mai (and Phuket) do not have.

Kriengkrai Kanjanapokin, chief executive of Index Event Agency, said earlier that Ayutthaya was the most suitable choice for a world-class event because Bangkok’s public transport network could be extended from Rangsit to Ayutthaya in the decade remaining before Expo date.

“A good mass transit infrastructure is critical to support a big event like this because hundreds of thousands of people will come to the site on a daily basis,” Kriengkrai said.

Phuket was one of the six provinces originally proposed by the TCEB for the Expo.

The Phuket Gazette can only speculate why Phuket has not made the shortlist, but it’s probably a safe bet that the island’s outmoded and widely detested public transport ‘system’ has failed to meet the TCEB’s minimum standards for visitor convenience and safety in this most rudimentary of components for any tourist destination.

Phuket, Pattaya still lead tourism

Bangkok Post
Although Phuket and Pattaya both saw their tourist arrivals plunge last year, the two beach destinations continued to dominate tourism in Thailand outside of Bangkok.

Pattaya came first, with 3.5 million tourists; Phuket second with 2.7 million; Rayong a surprising third with 2 million; Krabi fourth with 1.65 million; and Hua Hin with about 1 million.

But In a research report prepared by Hua Hin-based Nexus Properties it is noted that the health of a tourist destination does not spring from arrival numbers alone. Hua Hin is cited as a good case in point.

Tourist arrivals to Hua Hin rose 9% last year over 2008, while those for Phuket and Pattaya dove. Driving the shear was the tourist demographic, with Hua Hin dependent heavily on Bangkok Thais, while Phuket and Pattaya have traditionally depended on foreigners for the bulk of their trade.

Hua Hin also beat Phuket and Pattaya in hotel occupancy rates, with the destination benefiting not only from increased arrivals but also from more conservative growth (only about 10%) in the number of hotel rooms coming on stream in recent years.

Phuket and Pattaya both continue to suffer from an excessive overhang in room supply.

Gen Sonthi backs panel’s proposal

Bangkok Post
Thailand’s Matubhum Party leader Gen Sonthi Boonyaratkalin said yesterday that he supports the proposal by the political reform committee that the “one constituency, one number” system be introduced in the next general election.

Gen Sonthi, former chief of the now defunct National Security Council, said this at the seminar on political development held yesterday by the Election Commission in Korat.

“The one constituency, one number system would open an opportunity for small political parties to win MP seats at the polls. But I believe big political parties will not agree with this proposal”, Gen Sonthi said.

The leader of the September 2006 military coup which toppled former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra from power did not believe there would be a big political change late this year as foreshadowed by Puea Thai Party chairman Gen Chavalit Yongchaiyudh.

“The Democrat-led government is still strong and will stay in power until the end of its term”, Gen Sonthi said.

He added that it is too soon to say whether his Matubhum party would join in the new coalition government after the next general election.

Airport Link to charge for rides

The Nation
The electric train known as the ‘Airport Link’, connecting Bangkok’s Makkasan station and Suvarnabhumi airport will start commercial operations tomorrow, Yuthana Thapcharoen, governor of the State Railways of Thailand (SRT), said yesterday.

However, baggage check-in at the Makkasan station is not yet available as the system installation is not complete. But the service should be available within this year, Yuthana says.

The run-time from Makkasan to Suvarnaphumi is 15 minutes and the train departs every 30 minutes.

The fare will be 100 baht for the non-stop 28-km trip. This special pricing will be maintained until the end of the year before rising to “normal” levels, the SRT says.

The airport link has been running ‘free-ride’ test runs of the service since June 1.

— Gazette Editors

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