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Thai and Chinese clash over damming of the Mekong

The Thaiger & The Nation

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Thai and Chinese clash over damming of the Mekong | The Thaiger

The Mekong River is shared my six countries and is the world’s twelfth longest river. But running through six going economies is causing a host of challenges and conflicts as to how to manage the river. Hydro-electric power is just one of the issues.

Chinese experts who insist that hydropower projects on the Mekong River will benefit all stakeholders met opposition yesterday when a Thai academic argued that locals lose more than they gain since dams impact heavily on every aspect of their lives.

Academics and experts from China told a seminar on “The Sustainable Development of Water Resources” at Chulalongkorn University that hydropower development on the Mekong mainstream is sustainable and would bring overall benefits to all residents of the river basin.

While accepting that dams had adverse impacts on the environment, river ecosystem, and the livelihoods of local people, the Chinese delegates said these could be mitigated by technology and good management.

China is among the biggest investors in Mekong hydropower, having so far constructed eight dams on the upper reaches of the river, and “currently work on” two massive hydropower projects downstream in Laos – the Pak Beng Dam and Pak Lai Dam.

Feng Yan, an academic from Yunnan University in China, claimed a survey on the impacts of the Nuozhadu Dam in Yunnan province showed that proper management and planning could ensure resettled residents enjoy a better quality of life.

Feng said the 2015 survey on 242 relocated families revealed they now had a higher average income and living standards despite having to change their way of life and livelihoods after moving to their new homes.

The Nuozhadu Dam is one of the largest on the upper Mekong, with a generating capacity of 5,850 megawatts.

More than 43,000 people had to be relocated after its completion in 2012, according to International Rivers, environmentalist group.

“People in the studied group have been resettled in modern high-rise residential buildings, which allow them to access electricity and tap water. They also have greater and easier access to education and healthcare compared to their old homes in rural farming villages,” Feng said.

She said this was a result of good management and planning by the project owner and authorities, which could be replicated elsewhere on the Mekong.

Thai and Chinese clash over damming of the Mekong | News by The Thaiger

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Bangkok

Bangkok luxury poised to push through the US$300 ceiling

Bill Barnett

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Bangkok luxury poised to push through the US$300 ceiling | The Thaiger

by Bill Barnett of c9hotelworks.com

PHOTOS: Rosewood Bangkok

For hotel owners and managers in South East Asia, one of the great mysteries of the past ten years has been the low rate profile of Bangkok’s luxury hotel set. Despite soaring and sustained tourism growth, rising airlift and a strong economy, rates at Bangkok’s top tier properties have remained fairly stagnant.

Have we reached the tipping point?

I had had the opportunity to visit the latest entry to the Bangkok luxury class a few days ago, the Rosewood. With 159 keys which includes a limited number of posh houses with private pools and terraces the property is seeing an exceptional response and already achieving high rates.

What’s impressive about the entry is a take on the design approach that sees hotel developers apply a non-uniform approach with AvroKO coming in to focus on the restaurants and bars, while the rooms and public areas were led by Celia Chu Design and Associates.

While the speakeasy Lennon’s has not be opened yet, the 6,000 record vinyl collection is impressive and the bar will clearly have a strong pull. Taking the approach to designing restaurants and not typical hotel outlets, the Chinese eatery Nan Bei is a breath of fresh air and limited seating provides a bespoke appeal.

Taking a step back, and looking at recent entries like the Waldorf Astoria, and upcoming 101 key Capella, what is clear is luxury properties are shifting in terms of key drivers of the segment of art, fashion, residential vibe, bar and restaurant offerings, wellness and events.

So, what about rates?

On a broad basis Bangkok’s top tier hotels have averaged rates of US$200-240 for the past few years. This set has seen longer serving properties such as the St. Regis, Kempinski, and Okura effectively flatline on rates, though newer entries have come up including the Park Hyatt. On the broader horizon is the return of the Four Seasons and Capella by the river and the Orient Express at the MahaNakhon skyscraper.

With the entry of Rosewood driving rates, my expectation is that a few of the set will follow and at the end of 2019 we will set limited number of hotels crash through the US$300 average room rate barrier and effectively smash the legacy glass ceiling of Bangkok’s luxury hotels.

As in any business there will be winners and losers. Smaller hotels with some rate leading premium key types will be able to push up average daily rates. Segmentation is another key and hotels on the river that lack substantial corporate numbers will remain challenged until transport links to the area improve.

Where in the world are Bangkok luxury hotels heading?

To sum up 2019, size and location matter, the shift on food and beverage and social events along with niches like wellness and  smaller meetings/weddings are the key to the future. As for the quantum leap in rates, it’s about time Bangkok hoteliers be confident and push rates towards a more global norm.

Bangkok luxury poised to push through the US$300 ceiling | News by The Thaiger

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Bangkok

Third runway for BKK Suvarnabhumi Airport

The Thaiger

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Third runway for BKK Suvarnabhumi Airport | The Thaiger

The Thai cabinet yesterday approved the construction of a third runway at Suvarnabhumi International Airport as part of the country’s ambition to become the aviation hub of ASEAN.

The 21.7 billion baht project will increase the combined capacity of Suvarnabhumi international airport’s runways to 94 arrivals and departures per hour from the current 64, said Lt-Gen Weerachon Sukonthapatipak, deputy government spokesman.

Suvarnabhumi Airport (aka. BKK) was opened in 2006 as Bangkok’s second airport. Initially it replaced the tired Don Mueang Airport but Don Mueang was later revamped as a low-coast airport to service the growing traffic demands.

Meanwhile Suvarnabhumi Airport was, and still is, operating above its designed capacity. An earlier bid to build a third terminal has been mired in controversy and is currently shelved pending a new brief from Airports of Thailand with a new round of design bids called for in the future.

Third runway for BKK Suvarnabhumi Airport | News by The Thaiger

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Plastics

Thailand to ban three kinds of plastic by end of this year

The Thaiger & The Nation

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Thailand to ban three kinds of plastic by end of this year | The Thaiger

By the end of 2019 Thailand will be free from three types of plastic – microbeads, cap seals and oxo-degradable plastics.

Then by 2022 four other types of single-use plastics will also be banned – lightweight plastic bags less than 36 microns thick; styrofoam food containers for takeaways; plastic cups and plastic straws – according to a road map approved by the Cabinet.

The Plastic Waste Management Road Map 2018-2030 also includes an ambitious plan for Thailand to use 100 per cent recycled plastic by 2027 in various forms, including turning waste into energy.

The Cabinet has acknowledged the road map and assigned the Natural Resource and Environment Ministry to formulate a draft action plan for plastic waste management, so it is in line with the 20-year national strategy.

Thailand to ban three kinds of plastic by end of this year | News by The Thaiger

The Cabinet also called for clear details on related agencies’ role in the integration of the work for managing plastic waste, which will also get huge participation from the private and business sectors. The related state agencies should create various mechanisms to propel this forward such as creating a good understanding among agencies, continuously implementing a public relations campaign via social media to achieve the set goals, the Cabinet instructed.

The work procedure must consider lifecycle plastic-waste management so steps are taken from the very start: with plastic products designed applying the “Eco Design” approach, manufacturing and post-consumption disposal which will include garbage separation, transport and storing, recycling and proper disposal.

According to the Department of Environmental Quality Promotion, Thais generate as much as 1.14 kilogram of garbage per head per day, contributing to the 27.04 million tonnes of waste per year.

One person uses approximately eight plastic bags a day – or 500 million plastic bags per day for the whole nation.

Most of the plastic waste ends up in the oceans, accounting for 16% of garbage in the seas.

SOURCE: The Nation

Thailand to ban three kinds of plastic by end of this year | News by The Thaiger

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