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More ‘wind and waves’ – Phoenix still at the bottom of the Andaman Sea

The Thaiger



More ‘wind and waves’ – Phoenix still at the bottom of the Andaman Sea | The Thaiger

The Phoenix, the boat that sank on July 5 off Phuket’s south west coast, causing the drowning of 47 Chinese tourists, remains 45 metres underwater as the new salvage team have little more success than the original salvage team who threw in the towel a week ago.

A Marine Police diver on site, Pol Lt Passakorn Sirichuchote, is quoted in the Bangkok Post saying… “We’ve encountered strong undercurrents. Rough seas were also on the surface.”

“We expect difficulties ahead but are still confident that the experience of the Singapore team would help us overcome the obstacles.”

Spitz Tech, the original contractors, complained about the same strong currents in the two months they attempted the salvage. Since then Sunquest Marine of Singapore, under the direction of the acting immigration department chief Maj Gen Surachate Hakparn, has been wrestling with the elements.

This time, however, they will have a 1200 tonne pontoon crane at their disposal which is due to arrive this evening. The tug and crane, making their way up from Singapore over the last week, have also been reporting ‘wind and waves’ slowing down their progress.

The new, latest, revised, updated deadline to raise the Phoenix is this Friday with Pol Lt Passakorn saying the “wind and waves are changing every day. And that could delay the work.”

Meanwhile the train wreck of, principally, Chinese tourism to Thailand and Phuket, continues to unravel in slow motion.

Tourism chiefs in Phuket are playing down the drop in Chinese tourism saying that arrivals from other markets will “fill in the gaps” left by Chinese tourists. TheThai  Tourism Minister admitted last week that Chinese tourists coming to Phuket had dropped by 25%. Local hotels and tour companies variously quote numbers more like 50-70% drop in tourists out of mainland China.

One prominent hotel MD told The Thaiger, on condition of anonymity, “just look around the roads. Where are the Chinese tour buses? We don’t Chinese tourists in the streets, we don’t see them in our forward bookings. The Tourism Minister’s figures are either very optimistic or he’s been consulting a fortune teller.”

Tourism officials appears unable to grapple with ways to rebuild confidence in the sector, which has contributed up to 30% of all Phuket tourism over the past 3 years.

Chinese social media has led the exodus panning the response to the original tragedy, including the Deputy PM Prawit Wongsuwan’s blame-game, “The Chinese are killing Chinese”, the ponderous investigation (which has still not concluded) and the botched search in the immediate aftermath of the sinking, which saw search and rescue efforts called off hours after the disaster and resumed the next morning.

Another Deputy PM, Somkid Jatusripitak, the government’s economic tzar, was in Shanghai last week speaking to Alibaba’s Jack Ma about ways to reboot Chinese tourism into the Phuket and Thailand.

Read more headlines, reports & breaking news in Phuket. Or catch up on your Thailand news.

If you have story ideas, a restaurant to review, an event to cover or an issue to discuss, contact The Thaiger editorial staff.


Is the Kathu Temple involved in a zero dollar Chinese tour scam?

Tim Newton



Is the Kathu Temple involved in a zero dollar Chinese tour scam? | The Thaiger

Hundreds of Chinese tour buses are clogging the tiny streets around ‘old Kathu’ on the northern side of Phra Phuket Kaew Road every day to drop the tourists off at the Kathu Temple. The temple now has a full commercial operation offering religious amulets, some of them selling for 20,000 baht and more.

Tourists are guided around some of the temple’s displays and artefacts, and told stories about the displays, real or otherwise.

Spotlight Phuket, who went public with the story of police corruption in Patong last October, has described the commercial enterprise as a ‘scam’.

Speaking to two people involved in the daily operations of the tours on site, they admitted that the temple was working in conjunction with a Chinese tour company.

The tourists are being told that the amulets will ‘give them good luck’. We weren’t able to get any proof of these claims.

Is the Kathu Temple involved in a zero dollar Chinese tour scam? | News by The Thaiger

The temple’s commercial activities are another example of innocent Chinese tourists being dropped off at various activities, not included in their original agenda, where they are ‘encouraged’ to purchase over-priced, gems, latex (rubber products), herbs and herbal products, dried fruits and, in this case, religious amulets.

The issue of a Buddhist community temple being involved in questionable commercial activities is now being investigated by concerned local officials and police. A translator who works with one of the Chinese tour companies visiting the temple, says that the bus companies are being offered around 50% of the sales made to their tour groups as an incentive to bring the bus groups to the temple.

In the meantime the buses are causing traffic problems with the small streets of the adjacent village completely unsuited to the large buses meandering through the roads to get to the Kathu Temple.


Is the Kathu Temple involved in a zero dollar Chinese tour scam? | News by The Thaiger



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US ambassador shares concerns about tourism in Phuket

The Thaiger



US ambassador shares concerns about tourism in Phuket | The Thaiger

The acting US ambassador has met with Phuket’s Vice Governor to discuss long-term tourism and environment issues whilst visiting the island.

Peter Haymond, the acting US Ambassador, met with Phuket’s Vice Governor Prakob Wongmaneerung at the Phuket Provincial Hall today.

The Phuket PR Office reports that Vice Governor Prakob says, “The ambassador is interested in Phuket as it is an international tourist city where many Americans visit. More and more tourists are visiting Phuket every year. So how is Phuket being managed in relation to the environment and safety aspects.”

Chargé d’Affaires Haymond says, “We are thankful that Phuket has taken care of American tourist with good safety. More than one million American tourists are visiting Thailand every year at the moment and many come to Phuket.”

“The relationship between Thailand and America is now 200 years old. We have also cooperated with the Phuket Hotel Association in efforts to decrease the use of plastic on the island. Hotels in Phuket should use glass bottles instead of plastic bottles for long-term tourism and environment benefit.”

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Fire destroys wooden house in Wichit

The Thaiger



Fire destroys wooden house in Wichit | The Thaiger

A fire has totally destroyed a wooden house and storage area in Wichit yesterday. The estimate value of damages is around 300,000 baht.

Wichit Police were notified of the fire in Soi Thep Anusorn in Wichit at 2pm yesterday.

Police and rescue workers, along with firefighters with two fire engines, arrived at the wooden house which was already well ablaze.

In front of the house was a storage room where wooden materials had been kept. This had also caught fire.

It took about half an hour to control the blaze. No injuries were reported.

49 year old Surin Tapyang, the owner of the house, told police that the house was 15 years old. His four Thai workers lived in the house.

“When the fire started there was no one in the house as they went out to work at a construction site.”

The value of damage is estimated about 300,000 baht. Police are now investigating the causes. At this stage police believe it could have been an electrical short cut.

Fire destroys wooden house in Wichit | News by The Thaiger Fire destroys wooden house in Wichit | News by The Thaiger Fire destroys wooden house in Wichit | News by The Thaiger

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December 12, 2018, 12:42 pm
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