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Authorities battle to contain the fallout of ‘Phoenix’ disaster

The Thaiger

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“…hotel bookings in Phuket by Chinese tourists in the next two months had shrunk by up to 70 percent.

Chinese tourists are cancelling Phuket hotel bookings, unnerving Thai authorities and tourism-related business who are scrambling to raise the image of the island’s battered safety reputation. The cancellations are coming mostly from the tour company businesses based in China whilst the FIT (Free and Independent Travellers) are showing lingering confidence whilst the island’s systemic safety problems continue to be discussed.

The Transport Ministry, local and senior government agencies are working frantically to plug public safety loopholes to restore the confidence of Chinese tourists in wake of the cancellations of hotel bookings  following the July 5 sinking of the boat ‘Phoenix’ which left 47 Chinese dead. The entire crew and Captain survived the ordeal with survivors telling tales of Thai crew members abandoning the passengers remaining inside the boat and heading for the life rafts.

But a spokesperson from the Phuket office of the Tourism Authority of Thailand, who spoke to The Thaiger on condition of anonymity, says the real effects will be felt in coming months as the tourists arriving now had already paid for their holidays and less inclined to cancel.

Transport Minister Arkhom Termpittayapaisit has ordered a revamp of safety measures with tougher penalties against tour operators and boat skippers that defy safety measures.

The captain of ‘Phoenix’ is alleged to have defied forecasts of rough weather for the day when the boat left Chalong pier for an island tour to Koh Racha with 89 Chinese passengers on board.

It has also been revealed that the boat was owned by the same company which arranged the ill-fated boat trip. The owner of the company is a Thai nominee appointed by the real owner, a Chinese businessman linked to the Tha Li company which was shut down some time ago for operating so called zero-dollar package tours for unsuspecting Chinese tourists.

Tourism and sports permanent secretary Chartchai Thipsunavee claimed yesterday that between 10-15 percent of Phuket hotel bookings by Chinese tourists had already been canceled since the tragic incident.

Of the estimated 10 million Chinese tourists who visit Thailand each year, about three million of them visit Phuket.

Mr Chaiya Rapee-arphol, president of Andaman Tourism Business Association, is painting a much more gloomy picture of tourism business in the popular resort island, saying that hotel bookings in Phuket by Chinese tourists in the next two months had shrunk by up to 70 percent, with estimated loss in revenue in the tune of 42 billion baht from about 350 billion baht in revenue each year.

SOURCES: The Thaiger, Thai PBS

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Hua Hin

TAT criticises operators of suspended Pattaya-Hua Hin ferry

The Thaiger

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The Tourism Authority of Thailand is criticising the operator of the Pattaya-Hua Hin ferry service over the suspension of boat trips on the grounds that it is low season and too few passengers.

The Prachuap Khiri Khan Harbour Office announced this morning that the Royal Passenger Line would suspend the service from September 20 to October 31 and would resume services on November 1.


However, Orasa Avudhkhom, director of the Prachuap Khiri Khan Office of TAT, says that the low season should not be a reason for suspending services. She said boat services should only be suspended if the sea was too rough or weather conditions were hazardous.

She said the suspension of services will affect tourism in Hua Hin. The ferry route concessionaire should have used marketing campaigns during the low season to attract business, instead of suspending the services, she said.

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Bangkok

Man arrested for alleged attempted rape of nine year old girl

The Thaiger & The Nation

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by Kornkamon Aksorndech and Supachai Phetchthewee

Police have arrested a motorcycle taxi driver for allegedly luring a nine year old girl into a Bangkok temple toilet yesterday in an attempt to rape her.

The alleged incident took place at 5pm at the Wat Yoo Dee Bumrungtham (Wat Or Ngern) toilet in the Saimai district.

The alleged assault was stopped when the girl screamed for help and a monk, armed with a metal bar, managed to rescue the young girl as her attacker fled.

Based on the description they gave, police questioned the accused man who had been previously arrested for marijuana possession. He gave his name as Ae, although he carried no ID.

Ae, aged in his 40s, reportedly told police that the girl hailed his motorcycle taxi to go to her mother's house in Sukha Pibal 5 area and on the way he made a stop to use the toilet.

He allegedly told the girl to go into the toilet and then ...
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Phuket

Russian tourist stung by ‘fire jellyfish’ at Patong Beach

The Thaiger

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PHOTOS: Patong Lifeguards / Newshawk Phuket

A female Russian tourist has sustained a painful sting on her leg from a ‘fire jellyfish’ at Patong beach today (September 20).

Patong lifeguards are warning of jellyfish known locally as the ‘fire jellyfish’ at Patong Beach.

Fire Jellyfish or Morbakka fenneri can be discovered in tropical watersa. The physical appearance of this jellyfish is slightly larger than most jellyfish. The fire jellyfish can be seen from their pink coloured body, four inch body length and their bell is two-inches in diameter. Their stings are also painful but no worse than other jellyfish.

Patong lifeguards say, “We have provided first aid to a the Russian lady who refused to go to a hospital. If you are stung by one, pouring sea water or vinegar on the affected area can help relieve some of  the pain. Please don’t use fresh water and don’t scratch.”

"Many tourists sustai...
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