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Maya Bay’s four month ‘tourist break’ begins

The Thaiger & The Nation

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Maya Bay’s four month ‘tourist break’ begins | The Thaiger

Park Rangers at the Nopparat Tara-Mu Ko Phi Phi marine national park have placed buoys outlining a no-access zone as part of a bid to rehabilitate the park’s world-renowned Maya Bay.

The decision to close Maya to pave the way for a rest period, and preparation for new access to the area, was made by the National Parks, Wildlife, and Plant Conservation Department in March. The department had consulted with the marine national parks advisory committee comprising a group of noted marine experts including Assistant Professor Thon Thamrongnawasawat, who is also a member of the national reform and strategy committees.

The bay was made famous by the 2000 Hollywood film “The Beach” starring Leonardo DiCaprio, but it has been degraded by the excessive number of tourists – a daily average of about 4,000 people and 200 boats.

Maya Bay's four month 'tourist break' begins | News by The Thaiger

Following a recommendation by the experts, the department decided to make the bay off-limits from yesterday until September 30. The closure is seen as an entry point for a new approach to tourism management at the park, and would also set a new standard for another 26 Thai marine parks that also bear a similar burden, according to the department.

Since Thursday, the rangers have placed buoys extending hundreds of metres in front of the bay to close it off from tourist boat access, according to Songtham Suksawang, director of the department’s National Parks Office overseeing the operation.

“Maya today is very peaceful,” said Sontham, apparently with no tourist boats coming and going as they did up until Thursday.

Maya Bay's four month 'tourist break' begins | News by The Thaiger

According to the department’s plan, the old access to Maya Bay will become permanently unattainable. It will be shifted instead to the back of the island, where a new aluminium and plastic pier and bridge will provide new access to the bay to reduce ecological impacts caused by tourists.

The number of both individual tourists and transport boats will also be cut in half, while an e-ticketing system will be introduced to help handle tourist demand. Second-tier tourist spots will also be cultivated to help handle tourist pressure.Perhaps most importantly, the degraded ecosystems of the island will be rehabilitated, including the coral reefs in front of the bay.

Dr. Thon posted a message to his Facebook page, noting that Maya has been exploited for tens of years, with boats taking tourists in and out, crashing into and crushing coral reefs thousands of times. This caused the destruction of marine resources as tourists visiting paradise slowly pulverised the reef coral, smashing it over and over. The closure and rehabilitation today, he said, would draw tears of joy from many sea lovers as an end is called to the reef’s destruction.

“The sounds of the sea, the waves, the wind and the birds on this island paradise are like they were saying, ‘thank you all for giving the paradise a chance’,” wrote Thon.

Maya Bay's four month 'tourist break' begins | News by The Thaiger

STORY: The Nation



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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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