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Foreign minister meets with Phuket-based diplomats to discuss the island’s future

Maya Taylor

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Foreign minister meets with Phuket-based diplomats to discuss the island’s future | The Thaiger
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The Thai Foreign Minister and Deputy PM, Don Pramudwinai, has met with a group of European and Asian diplomats based in Phuket to discuss the future of the southern island province. Attendees came together to talk about economic stimulus measures that could help Phuket, which has been hit hard by Covid-19 travel restrictions and the closure of Thailand’s borders.

According to a Bangkok Post report, Don has expressed optimism that the tourism sector would bounce back once the Covid-19 pandemic is brought under control. However, he says the province must also look at becoming more than just a holiday destination. The minister believes the province could potentially become a global centre for conferences and watersports, but currently lacks the necessary infrastructure.

“All consuls have shared a similar point of view that Phuket has the potential to make (the global centre idea) happen. But it cannot be done without a network of infrastructure such as a local transport system and water supply. They also want the government to get rid of the mafia problem in the country.”

(The ‘mafia’ problem to which the FM alludes is mostly related to the island’s taxi and tuk tuk mafia who run an extortion racket and cabal keeping a tight control over who drives taxis and tuk tubs and the overpriced fares. Several ministers, Governors and police chiefs have tried to get some sort of control over the key, and well known, mafiosos, and ended up being run off the island, sometimes under a cloud and with threats to their lives.)

He adds that instead of Phuket focusing on how many tourists it could attract, the emphasis should shift to quality over quantity. The government is currently limiting numbers for its Special Tourist Visa scheme, only admitting up to 1,200 tourists a month, from countries considered “low-risk” for Covid-19. And, although the first group of STV tourists arrived from China two weeks ago, a domestic tourism marketing campaign being run in China means fewer of them are applying to come to Thailand.

Tanee Sangrat from the Foreign Affairs Ministry acknowledges numbers are lower than expected and says officials are in talks on how best to attract more tourists.

“We have been aware of the issue and we are working with a related agency to provide more lucrative packages to tourists for when the Covid-19 situation improves. We do hope to get more tourists from Scandinavia joining our visa scheme if the countries have few infection cases.”

Bill Barnett addresses Phuket and Samui’s particular tourism challenges.

Last year, Thailand welcomed around 40 million tourists, with around 15 million holidaying in Phuket. Now the Covid-19 pandemic and the closure of Thailand’s borders has led to deserted streets and shuttered businesses in former tourist hotspots like Patong, Kata and Karon. Although grateful that domestic tourism is being encouraged, one local shopkeeper says it simply isn’t enough.

“It is a good policy to encourage local travel, but it can’t compare with income from foreign tourists. We don’t think the tourism industry will resume any time soon because outbreaks can still be found in Europe.”

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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7 Comments

7 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Guy Fawkes

    November 6, 2020 at 9:52 am

    China is low risk I assume. Didn’t they just shut a province down their

  2. Avatar

    Toby Andrews

    November 6, 2020 at 9:54 am

    Why would they go all the way to Phuket, when they can have conferences in Pattaya – two hours from Bangkok?

  3. Avatar

    SG666

    November 6, 2020 at 11:06 am

    Why would anybody from Europe visit LOS going 14 days into quarantine when they can visit the UAR with a pcr test on arrival ? Cheaper, shorter flight better standards in the UAE anyway.

  4. Avatar

    EdwardV

    November 6, 2020 at 11:27 am

    “once the Covid-19 pandemic is brought under control.” – That could be a very long time considering Thailand’s zero tolerance policy. I had to laugh at the point about getting rid of the mafia, yeah like that’s going to happen (not). Interesting about the Chinese running their own domestic tourism program, ouch.

  5. Avatar

    preesy chepuce

    November 6, 2020 at 8:44 pm

    They need to shift the focus away from tourism, not from one type of non-existent tourism to another.

  6. Avatar

    Sam

    November 9, 2020 at 11:00 am

    Conferences and water sports. Yeah that will do it ! Idiotic morons

  7. Avatar

    Khun plastic

    November 11, 2020 at 2:18 am

    For many many years going back
    well into the last century various big wigs up to an including the governor of Phuket have banged on about how they want rid of low value mass tourists and the island should focus on far fewer high spending visitors.

    Phuket simply is far to good for the Hoi Poli and anybody visiting should pay handsomely for the privilege.

    Remember him pointing out the fancy harbour they built for the mega yachts that would soon be sailing in and the ritzy golf courses built for the high spending asian market.
    All the 5 star hotel operator’s were rubbing their hands with glee.

    Let’s now look at the reality of the situation until fairly recently.

    You are greeted by surly greedy taxi drivers who want to charge a ridiculous rate per km to take you from the airport,you have little choice but to agree to this extortion racket.anybody who has tried to stop it ends up with the shit beaten out of them.

    They are so powerful they managed to keep a visiting us admiral who was hosting a dinner for veterans from returning to his ship and sticking with the nautical theme the crew and and passengers of a cruise ship were completely unable to leave the ship while in port due their actions.

    That does not sound like a very up market experience to me!

    A euro/hkg couple check in to a 5 star hotel,great just the sort of visitor the island deems worthy enough to visit.
    While out for a stroll the hotel CCTV mysteriously fails and their safe box is emptied.
    Nobody knows anything and no prosecutions occur!
    Another day in paradise.

    Well now the island has finally been purged of ke neow mass tourists the governor’s dream of the super wealthy queing up to visit can finally be put in place.

    It is a great opportunity for the island to move forward and the crisis should not be wasted.

    Be careful what you ask for.

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Coronavirus Japan

Tokyo Olympics may cost almost US$2 billion more due to Covid delay

The Thaiger

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Tokyo Olympics may cost almost US$2 billion more due to Covid delay | The Thaiger

The Tokyo Olympics may cost almost US$2 billion more than its original budget of US$13 billion, after it has been delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic. Olympic organisers say they will decide on the increased budget for the Games after communicating with Japan’s government and Tokyo. The Games were postponed by 1 year after Covid-19 spread worldwide, with its opening date set to July 23, 2021. Of all the events postposed because of Covid-19, the Olympics was the biggest and most complex to postpone.

Such a delay has yielded new costs, from retaining the organising staff, rebooking venues and transportation. Not to mention, the question of if the event can actually proceed safely. But Olympic officials are reaffirming that the Games can, indeed, be held following safety measures.

Such covid safety measures are reportedly another reason why the price of the event has increased, although the new estimated cost doesn’t include such measures. Officials say they are expecting the additional costs to be paid for by the Japanese government. Organisers and officials are reportedly considering a long list of possible virus countermeasures that they hope will make the Games possible, even if a vaccine is not yet available.

A dialed-down, lower-cost Olympics plan was announced in September, with banners, mascots, meals, and athlete welcome ceremonies being scrapped along with fewer free tickets to be offered. A senior official has said that Tokyo Olympics test events will resume in March with a decision on fan attendance to be made in the spring season.

Thomas Bach, the International Olympic Committee Chief says he is very confident that the Games will have attending fans. However, fan enthusiasm has decreased inside of Japan, with summer polls indicating only 1 in 4 Japanese people wanting the Games to happen, with most wanting them to be postponed or even fully cancelled.

So far, Tokyo has reported just over 40,000 cases of Covid, with Japan reporting 145,000 cases since the pandemic began.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Coronavirus Singapore

Singaporean woman gives birth to baby with Covid antibodies in system

The Thaiger

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Singaporean woman gives birth to baby with Covid antibodies in system | The Thaiger

A Singaporean woman has given birth to a baby with Covid antibodies in its system, giving new clues into whether Covid can be transferred from mother to child. The woman, Celine Ng-Chan, was infected with the virus in March during her pregnancy, and gave birth this month to her Covid-free baby.

“My doctor suspects I have transferred my Covid-19 antibodies to him during my pregnancy.”

The World Health Organisation says it is not yet known whether a pregnant woman with Covid-19 can pass the virus to her foetus or baby during pregnancy or delivery.

Ng-Chan became mildly sick from the virus, but was discharged from the National University Hospital after 2.5 weeks. So far, the World Health Organisation says it is not yet known whether a pregnant woman can pass the virus to her fetus or baby during pregnancy or delivery, but this new finding helps researchers with new information. The active virus has not been found in samples of fluid around the fetus in the womb or in breast milk as of now, with Chinese doctors reporting such detection of antibodies in babies born to women, who have been infected with the virus, has been shown to decline over time.

New York Presbyterian/Columia University Irving Medical Centre has also reported in October, in JAMA Pediatrics, that the transmission of the virus from mothers to babies is rare, further pointing towards the risks being minimal of the possible transmission from mother to baby either in the womb, during delivery, or in breastfeeding.

Meanwhile, a 29 year old female Thai returnee from Myanmar has tested positive for Covid in Chiang Mai, after visiting the hospital with flu-like symptoms. She was the only local case reported, out of 5 other positive tests, with officials saying she is believed to have contracted the virus in Myanmar.

The positive test on November 27, came after she was out and about, with authorities saying 326 people are suspected of coming in contact with the woman. The woman reportedly visited a mall to eat Japanese shabu, watched a movie, visited a karaoke bar, and used public transportation before her positive diagnosis.

SOURCE: NDTV.com

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Thai woman tests positive for Covid in Chiang Mai, 72 people found to be in close contact

The Thaiger

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Thai woman tests positive for Covid in Chiang Mai, 72 people found to be in close contact | The Thaiger

A 29 year old female Thai returnee from Myanmar has tested positive for Covid in Chiang Mai, after visiting the hospital with flu-like symptoms. She was the only local case reported, out of 5 other positive tests, with officials saying she is believed to have contracted the virus in Myanmar. The positive test on November 27, came after she was out and about, with authorities saying 326 people are suspected of coming in contact with the woman. The woman reportedly visited a mall to eat Japanese shabu, watched a movie, visited a karaoke bar, and used public transportation before her positive diagnosis.

Of those suspected 326 people who came in contact with the woman, 105 were deemed at high risk of infection with 149 deemed at low risk. Officials said 72 people were in close contact with her. The mall operator says those who were found to be in contact with the woman will proceed to a 14 day quarantine period.

The woman reportedly came down with symptoms on November 23 and went to the Nakornping Hospital the next day to be checked out. Now, the Chiang Mai governor has ordered all affected venues to be disinfected, including the Central Festival Chiangmai mall, which closed at 4 pm for a “big cleaning” yesterday.

Officials from the Disease Control Department have provided the woman’s whereabouts at a briefing on Saturday as part of the contact-tracing exercise. Sopon Liamsirithavorn, director of the Communicable Diseases Division, has presented a timeline of her movements:

  • From October 24 to November 23, the woman was in Myanmar. On November 23, she developed a fever, watery diarrhea, and lost her sense of smell.
  • On November 24, she still had a fever and developed a cough and a headache. Around 5 am on that day, she travelled from Myanmar to the Mae Sai district of Chiang Rai by public van.
  • Around 11 am on November 24, she left Chiang Rai for Chiang Mai by bus.
  • At 2.51 pm the same day, the woman arrived at her condominium in a Grab car. That night, she used another Grab car to visit a karaoke bar in the Santitham area with two friends. They smoked a cigarette and shared it.
  • On November 25, she stayed overnight at a condominium with one of the friends who had returned from the entertainment venue around 2 am. Two other friends who lived in the room opposite came to the room to drink alcohol.
  • About noon on November 25, the woman left the condominium in another Grab car. She arrived at her condo building at around 1 pm.
  • Between 3.30 pm and 8.30 pm, she used another Grab car to visit a shopping mall and watched a movie there, had meals, and went shopping. She wore a face mask most of the time. She later used another Grab car to return to her condominium.
  • On November 26, the woman took a Grab car to a private hospital in Chiang Mai for a medical check-up around 3.30 pm after she lost her sense of smell, had watery diarrhea, and a body temperature of 36.9 celsius. She underwent a Covid-19 test.
  • Around 10pm, she was sent to Nakornping Hospital for another Covid-19 test. On November 27, the tests turned out positive.

A full announcement is set to be made by the Chiang Mai governor and Thai public health authorities when more information has been confirmed.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post | Reuters

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