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Phuket’s hotel bookings starting to wane in wake of boating disaster

The Thaiger & The Nation

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Phuket’s hotel bookings starting to wane in wake of boating disaster | The Thaiger
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The Nation is reporting that Thai tourism authorities are expressing concern following an increase in cancellations of hotel room bookings by Chinese tourists following the tragic July 5 boat accident.

So far, 7,300 Phuket hotel room bookings for July and August have been cancelled by Chinese tourists in just 16 hotels that have reported figures so far, out of 160 in the Southern Hoteliers’ Association group.

Industry insiders say the numbers are likely to increase as more hotels report their booking status. Chinese account for as many as 3 million tourists in Phuket per year, while on average some 10 million Chinese tourists visit Thailand every year.

Kongsak Kupongsakorn, president of the Southern Hoteliers’ Association, said 19 member hotels had already reported their cancellations while another 160 hotels have yet to file their reports. The negative impacts of the July 5 accident in which nearly 50 were killed are widespread and more serious than previously thought, he said.

Phuket's hotel bookings starting to wane in wake of boating disaster | News by The Thaiger

Chatchai Tipsunavee, permanent secretary at the Tourism and Sports Ministry, said a massive number of hotel booking cancellations had been reported despite remedial measures taken by the Thai government following the boat accident.

At this stage, hotel room cancellations are estimated to account for 10-15 per cent of the total business in the world-renowned resort province.

Chiaya Rapuepol, president of the Andaman Sea tourism business association, said the boat accident could cost as much as 42 billion baht in lost tourism and related revenues over the next two months. He called for the government to restore confidence in tourist safety as soon as possible to avoid even greater damage being caused to Phuket’s 350 billion baht per annum tourism industry. News reports of the two boats capsizing received worldwide media coverage.

Phuket Governor Napat Prodthong wants the government to set up a command centre to regulate all Andaman Sea tourist activities in the nearby Phang Nga province.

He suggested inspection points for all incoming and outgoing vessels so that authorities could more effectively enforce safety and |related laws on vessel operators, captains, passengers and crew.

The Phang Nga command centre could take responsibility for Phuket, Krabi, Trang and Phang Nga provinces, he said, adding that Phuket itself will have its own vessel command units at Ao Por, Ratchata Harbour and Ao Chalong Harbour, with closed-circuit and surveillance TV systems installed to record all incoming and outgoing tourists.

Phuket's hotel bookings starting to wane in wake of boating disaster | News by The Thaiger

Overall, the Phang Nga command centre and other facilities would cost Bt500 million to Bt600 million to boost tourist safety in the Andaman Sea, he said.

Meanwhile, the Phuket governor and other provincial authorities have joined with Vice Admiral Somneuk Prempramoj, commander of the Third-Region Navy responsible for Phuket and other Andaman Sea provinces, to work with harbour operators and other businesses to ensure tourist safety in the wake of the disaster. The government has announced a revamping of safety rules and regulations to prevent future accidents. The large number of vessels, boat services and even harbours in Phuket alone present a challenge for properly regulating the industry.

The Navy has sent its personnel to help provincial authorities restore confidence and to help upgrade the safety system by issuing early warnings on bad weather. Tourism authorities and others must step up preventive safety measures, such as ensuring passengers are taught how to use safety vests.

Somnuek said the Navy would propose that the central government use Article 44 of the charter to empower Phuket authorities to fast-track enforcement of rules and regulations to boost safety.

Meanwhile, Woraluk Reukch-aikan, managing director of TC Blue Dream Co, owner of the ill-fated Pheonix tourist boat, surrendered on Saturday and will appear in court today to seek release on bail.

Relatives of the 29 victims killed in the accident have been paid more than Bt60 million in combined compensation. Altogether, 46 bodies have been recovered from the sea, while authorities are still attempting to recover another body struck in the boat’s wreckage and another passenger is still missing.

Reported by The Nation

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Weather

Strong wind and waves this morning closes Phuket’s beaches, one swimmer rescued

The Thaiger

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Strong wind and waves this morning closes Phuket’s beaches, one swimmer rescued | The Thaiger

Phuket’s Rawai Mayor, Aroon Solos, ordered all beaches in the area to close after a foreigner was rescued this morning after being unable to make it back to shore. The foreigner was swimming off Ao Sane beach, just north of the popular Nai Harn Beach, when lifeguards were sent out to help bring him back to shore. The recent weather has been partly attributed to Tropical Storm Noul as other beaches areas around Patong have been closed since Friday.

Mayor Aroon ordered both the Nai Harn and Ya Nui beaches closed until further notice.

Noul crossed over the Vietnamese coastline in the early hours of Friday morning and tracked westwards into Laos, then Thailand’s north east, dragging in moisture from the Indian Ocean and intensifying the south-west monsoon.

The Chief of the Cherngtalay Tambon says that, once weather is more stable, the island’s beaches will reopen.

“All beaches in our area, Surin Beach, Bang Tao beach and other beaches, are closed today. We will reopen them when the weather improves.” Strong winds have contributed to falling trees and power outages across the island with one tree falling on the island’s main traffic artery, Thepkasattri Road, blocking traffic.

Officials are also warning road travellers to drive carefully after a car reportedly flipped over yesterday during wet conditions. The Thai Meteorological Department has also re-issued a weather warning today, saying that Noul has been now downgraded from a Category 3 tropical storm to a tropical depression.

The remnants of Noul currently sit over the Kancanaburi province after surging through Thailand’s north eastern and central provinces earlier today.

“Strong wind waves are likely in the Andaman Sea and the Gulf of Thailand. In the upper portion of both seas, the waves will be likely 2-4 meters high and more than 4 meters high in thundershowers. In the lower portion, the waves will be likely about 2 meters and in thundershower areas more than 3 meters high. All ships keep ashore through 20 September.”

SOURCE: The Phuket News

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Thailand

Phuket residents going hungry after local government assistance runs out

The Thaiger & The Nation

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Phuket residents going hungry after local government assistance runs out | The Thaiger

Residents in Phuket, particularly those living in and around the west coast townships, are reportedly going hungry as the government’s municipal budget to provide food has been depleted. Despite efforts to revive tourism in the area, thousands of people are still in need of donated food to survive and continue to queue up for donated food every day. A public relations staff member at the Patong municipality says, sadly, there is no budget to do any more food handouts in the near future and that there is no word on when or if there will be any more handouts.

The Phuket Town Deputy Mayor told The Phuket News that there has only been 2 handouts since the pandemic struck the tourist-reliant area. One handout was in March while the last handout was in June with the mayor saying 28 million baht was spent in those 2 handouts. Meanwhile a number of foreign residents in the town have been providing supplies for food queues for many months to help the impoverished residents.

One Phuket expat says the majority of those affected in the Patong area are Burmese migrant workers, with long queues for private donations still being seen on the streets of Patong. Such private donations are a result of charity events that are being held across the island with the assistance of dedicated volunteers.

Like Thailand’s Mental Health Department, many are concerned about the impact that food insecurity is having on those struggling. According to the department, 2,551 people had killed themselves across Thailand in the first half of 2020, a 22 % increase, year on year. In response, the National Reform Committee on Labour was ordered on September 11 to issue an amnesty on all outstanding debts, while providing financial support anyone who remains unemployed on the island.

At a recent meeting, other requests were made that include the government giving incentives for more Thais to visit the island and to use social security funds and soft loans as support for local business owners. For now, the situation is grim as Phuket residents are resorting to relying on private charities for food donations.

Phuket’s vice governor Phichet saysd that Phuket has been badly affected by the Covid crises, and delivered 3 requests to the Senate Standing Committee on Tourism… to extend the financial support by the Social Security Office for a further 3 months, allow workers from other provinces to transfer their house registration to Phuket so the Phuket government can receive more funds to provide better care for them, and ask the Ministry of Labour to provide assistance to at least 1,000 unemployed in Phuket.

Whilst the government unveiled plans for a “Phuket Model” to revive tourism on the island, it came to nothing, despite a high power delegation of Ministers and Bangkok officials who visited Phuket 2 weekends ago.

One such charity is set to record a song by leading Phuket musicians with the hopes of continuing to help feed those in need on the island.

SOURCE: The Phuket News

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Weather

Heavy rain across the country this weekend – local forecasts

The Thaiger

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Heavy rain across the country this weekend – local forecasts | The Thaiger

Heavy rain is expected across much of Thailand over the next few days, mostly as a result of the intensity of a tropical storm crossing into Vietnam today, ‘Noul’, from the South China Sea. The low pressure cell will help intensify the effects of the south west monsoon too. But the remnants of the storm won’t “slam” into Northern Thailand as one news site claimed – rather it will be a lot of rain and increased winds. The storm is expected to cross into Thailand around the Mukdahan province some time early tomorrow,

Around the country, Saturday will be the worst with rains easing during Sunday. Thailand north east ‘Isaan’ provinces will be the worst affected as they are in the direct track of the storm as it crosses Vietnam, into Laos, and then crossing Thailand’s borders in the upper north east in the early hours of tomorrow morning.

Whilst tropical storm ‘Noul’ has been packing winds from 80 – 120 kilometres per hour as it reaches the central Vietnam coast areas, including popular tourist locations like Da Nang and Hoi An, the storm will continue to dissipate as it moves inland. The storm has been tracking across the South China Sea this week, gathering strength, in a west northwesterly direction.

Residents in the coastal town of Hoi An report that it rained continuously last night, with strong winds, and that they expect widespread flooding to be reported during the day.

The forecast for heavy rain in Bangkok will probably dampen some of the enthusiasm for tomorrow’s anti-government rally to be held in and around the Thammasat University Tha Prachan campus.

Here are the forecasts for Saturday and Sunday around the country…

Bangkok

Heavy rain across the country this weekend - local forecasts | News by The Thaiger

Phuket

Heavy rain across the country this weekend - local forecasts | News by The Thaiger

Chiang Mai

Heavy rain across the country this weekend - local forecasts | News by The Thaiger

Pattaya

Heavy rain across the country this weekend - local forecasts | News by The Thaiger

Khon Kaen

Heavy rain across the country this weekend - local forecasts | News by The Thaiger

Koh Samui

Heavy rain across the country this weekend - local forecasts | News by The Thaiger

Read more about Thailand’s annual monsoons HERE.

SOURCE: weather.com

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