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5,000 Samui residents diagnosed with depression in 2019

Maya Taylor

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5,000 Samui residents diagnosed with depression in 2019 | The Thaiger
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Thailand’s second largest island may be renowned for its beautiful beaches and laid-back atmosphere, but a new report indicates that the number of people diagnosed with depression on Koh Samui has increased to over 5,000 this year.

Thai-language Daily News says Songyot Chayaninporamet, deputy director at Samui Hospital, blames several factors, including the high cost of living, crime, unemployment and drugs. The hospital now employs specialists to care for patients battling mental health issues.

A change in the tourism demographic has also seen some hotels and attractions having a particularly bad business year with many hotels, attractions and tour companies putting off staff.

A recent study carried out by the World Health Organisation (WHO) found that Thailand has the highest suicide rate in the ASEAN region, with around 10,000 suicides a year, mainly among the younger population.

The WHO ranked Thailand 32nd worldwide in its annual suicide rate report which came out earlier this month. The report indicated around 10,000 deaths by suicide per year, much higher than other ASEAN countries.

Three months ago the current Department of Mental Health director general Kiattibhoom Vongrachit released another report showing that Thailand’s youth now have an increased risk of depression and suicide. In the first six months of 2019, 40,635 calls were made to DMH’s hotline; 13,658 of the calls were from children and young people aged between 11 – 25 years of age.

This is around a 20% rise in the rate of calls made during 2018.

See full story HERE.

SOURCE: Thai Residents

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Tourism

New Year holiday draws homegrown tourists to Phuket, Koh Samui

Maya Taylor

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New Year holiday draws homegrown tourists to Phuket, Koh Samui | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Syed Ahmad on Unsplash

With the vast majority of foreign holidaymakers still steering clear of Thailand, or simply unable to get a visa at the moment, the country has become almost completely reliant on homegrown tourists. The New Year holiday has brought some slight relief to islands like Phuket and Koh Samui, as visitors from other parts of the country arrived to welcome in a much-anticipated 2021.

Reports from Samui say the local ferry operator had to lay on extra services to meet demand, as cars and visitors queued in both directions before and after the long holiday. There were similar scenes reported at Phuket’s Sarasin Bridge, gateway to the holiday island. Patong has spring back to life, albeit still a shell of its former busy self.

The hotels and other tourism businesses that have managed to survive in places like Phuket and Samui are now completely dependent on domestic trade. The Thai government recently confirmed more public holidays in 2021, as well as an extension to the domestic tourism stimulus campaign, although it remains to be seen how a resurgence in Covid-19 may affect bookings. For the hotels still open on the island of Phuket and other tourist spots, the scheme is a much-needed lifeline.

Despite the return of community transmission, and tough restrictions still in place for foreign arrivals (even when vaccinated), the ever-optimistic Tourism Authority of Thailand recently held a dinner event in the Dusit Thani hotel in Dubai, with local TAT director, Pichaya Saisaengchan, celebrating the reopening of the Kingdom’s borders to visitors from the Middle-East.

“We look forward to starting 2021 on a positive note as we convey to travellers from the region to ‘Get Ready for Amazing Thailand 2021′.”

Just days ago, Thailand’s Tourism and Sports Minister, Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn, said it would be up to homegrown tourists to rescue the Kingdom’s tourism sector, as the pandemic continues to wreak havoc around the globe and Thailand’s 14 day quarantine requirement remains in place.

The government has added 8 more public holidays in 2021 in the hope of encouraging some additional domestic travel.

National holidays

• Friday, February 12 for the Chinese New Year
• Monday, April 12, adding a day to Songkran holiday from April 13-15
• Tuesday, July 27 for substitution day for Buddhist Lent
• Friday, September 24 to celebrate Mahidol Day which is in remembrance of Prince of Songkhla, Mahidol Adulyadej

Regional holidays

• Friday, March 26 for Wai Phra That (Northern Thailand)
• Monday, May 10 for Bun Bang Fai, known as the Rocket Festival (Northeastern Thailand)
• Wednesday, October 6 for Sart Thai, a festival held on the 10th lunar month (Southern Thailand)
• Thursday, October 21 for the End of Buddhist Lent (Central Thailand)

SOURCE: Trade Arabia | Bangkok Post

 

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Tourism

Academics call on government to hurry up and help the tourism industry

Maya Taylor

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Academics call on government to hurry up and help the tourism industry | The Thaiger

Leading Thai academics are calling on the government to get a move on and help the tourism industry before it’s too late. Addressing a gathering arranged by the Foundation for Labour and Employment Promotion, Kiriya Kulkolkran from Thammasat University’s Faculty of Economics, pointed to the 80% drop in international tourism as a result of the Covid-19 fallout. His estimate includes the first few months of the year when there was actually a functional tourism industry in Thailand.

According to a report in the Bangkok Post, Kiriya says just 4% of businesses in the tourism sector say they’ve made the same amount or more than they did before Covid-19. She adds that a survey shows employees in the industry are concerned about debt accumulation and “extremely worried about the future”.

Bovorn Subsing, from Chulalongkorn University’s Social Research Institute, has backed up the comments, saying tourism workers have seen their wages drop by 60%, while still facing the same, or higher, cost of living. The result is that most are now in debt.

Kiriya predicts the devastation could continue for over 3 years, affecting not just tourism operators but the entire supply chain, as well as new graduates and those seeking their first job. She says that until the sector recovers, the government needs to provide tailored help for businesses, singling out Phuket hotels, who are struggling to survive without foreign guests.

The islands of Phuket and Samui, plus the other ‘tourist’ islands around Thailand, are facing a particular problem as they’re mostly geared for the international tourist market. Domestic tourism, rebooted last July when the local airlines were permitted to fly again, has mostly shunned the popular tourist islands.

One worker at a Phuket hotel, 52 year old Anchisa Sirinanthasak, addressed the forum in support of a possible co-payment scheme for hotel workers. It’s understood most hotel operators are paying employees 62-75% of their normal salary, which works out at around 8,000-9,000 baht per person and is not enough to cover their costs.

Meanwhile, Manop Kaewphaka from Homenet Thailand, a non-profit that protects home-based workers, has called on the government to allow foreign tourists back into the Kingdom and to provide more support for informal workers, in the form of wage guarantees and co-payment.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Visa

Foreigners report alleged visa scam in Koh Samui

Caitlin Ashworth

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Foreigners report alleged visa scam in Koh Samui | The Thaiger
PHOTO: 77kaoded

A Thai woman in Koh Samui allegedly ripped off at least 8 foreigners by offering visa extension services and taking off with the money. A group of foreigners reported the scam to officers at the Bo Phut police station, saying they placed deposits ranging from 10,000 baht to even 100,000 baht, but the services were never fulfilled.

A man posted a video on Facebook warning people about the alleged scam and saying he believes the woman stole around 10 million baht. A Thai TV news report shows a J&R Accounting business card for “Joy” which advertises accounting and work permit services.

“Be careful with your visa… There are a lot of people that just want your money and they don’t give the service.”

Apparently, some of the foreigners paid a deposit 6 months ago. They say Joy kept reassuring them that their applications processing. Now that visa amnesty is up, the foreigners worry about potential problems with immigration, Thai media reports.

Police told Thai media that this isn’t the first time they’ve heard of Joy. They issued a summons for her in the past. If she does not respond to the second summons, the police may go to court and request a warrant for her arrest.

A little over a week ago, at the neighbouring island Koh Pha Ngan, a language school allegedly ripped off more than 100 foreigners, claiming they were able to issue them with a 1 year education visa.

SOURCE: Thai Visa

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