Thursday, 8 December 2022

Christmas present to Phuket motorists: Patong Hill road to reopen

 Good news for motorists in Phuket, Patong Hill road is expected to fully reopen to all traffic on Christmas Day.

The road between Kathu and Patong was closed after it was hit by a landslide during a deluge of heavy rain in October. The road is only partially open at the moment but the Mayor of Kathu, Chai-anan Sutthikul, reported today that repairs to the road were almost finished, said Bangkok Post.

“The road’s foundation has been filled and strengthened and repair work is almost done.

“When completed, the road’s width will be increased by 7 metres in that section, making it safer, stronger and more durable.”

The mayor revealed he expected the 21 million baht project to be finished before December 24 and within the 45-day timeframe set in the contract.

“If there is no rain, the work could even be finished on December 20.”

The Provincial Electricity Authority’s Phuket office announced it will install new power poles and CCTV to monitor the repaired section of the road.

A survey on November 7 revealed that about 70,000 round trips were made on the hill road each day, about 35,000 each way.

A landslide caused the Kathu-Patong Road to close on October 19 causing chaos to motorists and travellers trying to reach Phuket Airport. Road workers were able to clean up and stabilise the roadway to allow motorbikes to pass in both directions over Patong Hill a week later on October 26.

Then on November 4, small cars were permitted to travel over Patong Hill before the road was fully reopened to vans and pickup trucks with restrictions.

The mayor said the two alternative routes to Patong beach – Go-kart in Kathu district to Chao Phor Sue shrine in Patong, and Wat Bang Thong in Kathu to Chao Phor Sue shrine – were not far from Patong but the roads were rather steep and were best used in times of emergency.

Chai-anan added that he is still in talks with the provincial electricity office about installing lighting along the two routes.

Source - The Thaiiger



Wednesday, 7 December 2022

Thailand to celebrate its 10 millionth tourist on December 10

Thailand expects to hit the 10 million tourist target on December 10 and Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha is urging the nation’s airlines to add more flights to meet the growing demand.

The Governor of the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT), Yuthasak Supasorn, reported the good news yesterday. From January to December 5 of this year Thailand welcomed more than nine million tourists, and the number will hit TAT’s yearly target of 10 million on Saturday, December 10.

The PM Office spokesperson, Anucha Burapachaisri, said yesterday that many more travellers wanted to come to Thailand but there were no available flights. Two months ago, the Director of the Thai Travel Service Association (TTSA), Jarivat Wongsomsri, revealed that tourists from Japan wished to come to Thailand but couldn’t find plane tickets.

PM Prayut wants the Ministry of Transport and airlines to solve this and increase flights to Thailand, adding that more ground operation staff needed to be hired and trained to support the increasing number of tourists.

TAT Governor, Yuthasak, revealed that they will host an event named “Amazing Thailand 10 Million Celebrations” to celebrate the kingdom’s achievement and will provide gifts and souvenirs to tourists who enter Thailand on Saturday.

“As of December 5, Thailand recorded 9.78 million foreign visitors this year. We believe the tally will hit 10 million on December 10. “TAT has invited partners to join in the campaign to celebrate this achievement and to show Thailand’s readiness to welcome foreign tourists in every part of the country.”

The event will be held at seven airports across the country, including Suvarnabhumi, Don Mueng, U-Tapao, Chiang Mai, Phuket, Krabi, and Samui.

Tourists who travel by land can also celebrate with Thailand at the Nong Khai Border Checkpoint in the northeastern province of Nong Khai and the Sadao Border Checkpoint in the southern province of Songkhla.

Yuthasak said there will be a lucky draw with special prizes at Suvarnabhumi Airport and one lucky traveller will get a special prize. Wonder if it goes to the tourist number 10 million?

Source - The Thaiger



Tuesday, 6 December 2022

Whole new world of censorship pain on its way to Thailand

 Whole new world of censorship pain on its way to Thailand

A whole new world of censorship pain is on its way to Thailand, with the latest act by the thought police becoming law on Christmas Day.

Online platforms must abide by a new regulation to deal quickly with complaints about content deemed to violate the Computer Crimes Act.

A new regulation issued by Digital Economy and Society (DES) Minister Chaiwut Thanakamanusorn establishes procedures for the notification and removal of illegal information. According to Prachatai, this prohibits the public posting of anything dodgy and includes any information made available over a public digital network.

Among other things, all online service providers must create channels to receive complaints from the public. Apart from filing complaints with providers, offended parties can also complain to the police.

Upon receiving a complaint – any complaint – providers must take down the questionable content, and notify all concerned parties, within 24 hours.

Those who don’t comply will face punishments of up to five years in jail and 100,000 baht fine (US$2,900). In addition, the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Office revoke a provider’s operating licences.

Under the Computer Crime Act, the word “information” has been subject to disturbingly broad interpretation. The provision allows for digital messages, posts, and emails.

The bill also prohibits the public posting of information that might defame people, damage national security, or be regarded as pornography.

However, providers held to be negligent in the performance of their duties can still avoid punishment if they can prove that they are not responsible for the illegal information and gain no benefit from it.

Platform providers that allow for unscreened content uploads will also be exempted from the punishment, provided they abide by MDES’s notification and takedown policy.

Source - The Thaiger


Sunday, 4 December 2022

Thai baht soars to six-month high against US dollar

The Thai baht opened at 34.78 against the US dollar today, strengthening from yesterday’s close of 35 to a six-month high.

The baht’s sudden rise is down to the Bank of Thailand’s (BOT) hiking the policy rate by a quarter point earlier this week.

The BOT remains committed to a gradual monetary tightening policy, raising the policy rate from 1% to 1.25% on Wednesday.

Economic growth this year is expected to be at 3.2%, lower than the prior projection of 3.3%, according to the central bank. The BOT also cut its 2023 growth forecast to 3.7% from 3.8%.

Thailand’s currency is facing pressure from the depreciating US dollar, gold sales, and foreign investors possibly buying more Thai bonds amid continuous drops in the US 10-Year bond yields.

Investors might want to sell the baht now as it edges near the support level of 34.75. Once it hits the support level, it could depreciate again.

Although, US labour data coming out this weak could impact the baht’s value. Low employment rates could help the baht but high levels of employment could weaken the baht, so it’s up to investors whether to hold out and see.

Krungthai market specialist Poon Panichpibool advised investors to use hedging tools in the highly-volatile currency market.

Economists have high hopes for the baht in the long run. Capital Market Research Specialist at Kasikorn Bank Kittika Boonsrang predicts…

“I expect the Thai baht to get a high that could be around 33.50 to 34.00 per US dollar by the end of next year.”

The forecast will only be achievable if Thailand pumps up exports and ramps up tourist arrivals, added Kittika.

Other regional currencies have also strengthened against the greenback amid hopes that China will ease up their Covid-19 restrictions.

Currencies have been highly sensitive to the Federal Reserve’s aggressive monetary tightening this year which was designed to fix high inflation rates in the US.

Source - The Thaiger



Wednesday, 30 November 2022

Bangkok ranks 6th out of 50 cities worldwide in Expat City Ranking 2022, Friendly atmosphere a highlight

Bangkok ranks 6th out of 50 cities in the Expat City Ranking 2022, performing best for personal finance and worst for working abroad and quality of life.  

– In 2022, Valencia (1st), Dubai, Mexico City, Lisbon, Madrid, Bangkok, Basel, Melbourne, Abu Dhabi, and  Singapore (10th) are the top 10 cities for ex-pats to live in.  

– On the other hand, ex-pats consider Johannesburg (50th), Frankfurt, Paris, Istanbul, Hong Kong,  Hamburg, Milan, Vancouver, Tokyo, and Rome (41st) the world’s worst cities to live in.  

Bangkok ranks 6th out of 50 in the Expat City Ranking 2022 by  InterNations, the world’s largest ex-pat community with over 4.5 million members.

The city excels when it comes to both Personal Finance and the Ease of Settling In, ranking among the top 5 in both indices. While it gets somewhat mixed results in the Expat Essentials Index (22nd) — ex-pats find it easy to find housing but are unhappy with the digitization and local bureaucracy — Bangkok performs worst for both the Quality of Life and Working Abroad.

 The Expat City Ranking is based on the annual Expat Insider survey by InterNations. It is one of the most extensive surveys about living and working abroad, with 11,970 respondents in 2022. A total of  50 cities around the globe are featured this year, offering in-depth information about five areas of ex-pat life: Quality of Life, Ease of Settling In, Working Abroad, Personal Finance, and the new Expat  Essentials Index, which covers digital life, admin topics, housing, and language.  

Expats Enjoy Life without Monetary Concerns

Bangkok ranks 6th out of 50 cities in the Expat City Ranking 2022 and 2nd worldwide in the Personal  Finance Index. Expats are not only happy with the general cost of living (69% vs. 45% globally), but affordability is also a highlight in the Expat Essentials Index (22nd).

Source - Pattaya News


Monday, 28 November 2022

Bangkok - Why aren’t tourists returning to Khao San Road?

The past few years have been dark for tourism in Thailand and around the world. The Covid-19 global pandemic closed borders and killed tourism in so many crucial areas. Khao San Road, the vibrant, bustling backpacker haven of Thailand’s capital city of Bangkok quickly fell into a desolate ghost town. Now, the last pandemic restrictions have been lifted, and the government is constantly reporting floods of international tourists bringing Thailand back to life. But vendors on Khao San Road say they’re just not seeing the tourism numbers that were predicted even as all Covid restrictions have been lifted.

The popular tourist neighbourhood took a beating when restrictions started rolling out. Bars were among the first businesses to close, and authorities did everything they could to prevent poorly ventilated crowded places to operate in the face of airborne disease. So Khao San Road – packed densely full of eating and drinking backpackers and cafes, street bars, and shops crowding them for their business – was a prime target to be shut down for most of the pandemic.

The Bangkok Post recently interviewed vendors on the street now though, and they all say that they have not seen the crowds come surging back even as the last of the pandemic restrictions were lifted last month. They are calling on the government the launch tourism campaigns luring international travellers back to Khao San Road and the surrounding area. One vendor selling clothing in a street stall appealed to foreigners to return.

“We’re still waiting for them…. come back to Khao San. We still need all of you. There are few foreign customers today. Before the pandemic, I earned around 5,000–6,000 baht a day, but now I earn just 1,000–2,000 baht a day. After the pandemic, most foreign tourists are more careful with spending. It’s even harder to close a sale each time. They want me to give them a big discount.”

Vendors called on the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration and the Tourism Authority of Thailand to focus their efforts on raising awareness of unrestricted travel in Thailand. They also want help promoting that while many costs have skyrocketed in the industry, accommodation is still affordable on Khao San Road, and the area is linked to plenty of tourist attractions. The road lies just a short walk from the Grand Palace and Wat Phra Kaeo. Great shopping, dining, and other attractions are just a short hop away.

A pad Thai seller said she was happy to be back on Khao San Road for the first time since the pandemic, even though she is earning half as much as before. But she called on the government to support the area, promoting holidays and events. Before the coronavirus, Khao San was packed for every special event or holiday.

“We have not celebrated the new year and the Songkran festivals together for two years. So, the government must organise these two big events next year and should regularly promote events every holiday to encourage tourists to visit.”

Source - The Thaiger



Sunday, 27 November 2022

Russian invasion takes Thailand’s tourism forces by surprise

Russian invasion takes Thailand’s tourism forces by surprise
The Russians are coming! The recent mass Russian invasion of Thailand has taken the country’s tourism forces completely by surprise.

Unexpected numbers of tourists from the war-torn county have tourism operators scrambling to cope with an army of independent travellers, more than capable of looking after themselves, and left commentators scrambling to occupy the moral high ground.

Despite the ongoing war between Russia and Ukraine, the Russian tourism market has returned much quicker than expected, said Association of Thai Travel Agents (ATTA) president Sisdivachr Cheewarattanaporn.

Tourism businesses and providers of guides and buses are remarkably poorly prepared for the influx, despite months or even years of doing very little.

ATTA more focused on assisting tour operators than actual tourists, is preoccupied with the dissemination of marketing information to a group that has their own ideas about what they want from their time in the kingdom.

Russia ranks only 13th this year in terms of Thailand’s source markets with 230,000 happy travellers besieging beaches, temples and the ever-popular red-light districts across the country. However, arrivals have increased significantly this month via Aeroflot flights from Novosibirsk and chartered flights. Pattaya and Phuket are the main destinations for chartered flights from Russia.

ATTA’s Adith Chairattananon said there are increasing inquiries from Russian agents when it comes to tour packages to Thailand, prodding idling cash-strapped tour operators back to life earlier than expected.

Bemoaning the independent thinking of Russian arrivals, Adith said…

“There are very few Thai operators who specialise in the Russian market — most of the players are native Russians.

“As those local specialists in the Russian market have yet to resume operations. Thai operators that are not fluent in this market are likely to face a few hiccups after being closed for a long time as they try to restart their businesses.”

Adith said it would take until the beginning of next year for his members to adjust to the new Russian flavour of visitors.

Sisdivachr claimed that numbers of visitors from India, Vietnam, Malaysia and Singapore have already fully returned, despite limited flight capacity and clear evidence to the contrary on the beaches and islands. Previously vital markets in northern Asia such as Taiwan and Japan remain flat, Sisdivachr said.

With no signs of China reopening during President Xi Jinping’s recent attendance at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Bangkok, Sisdivachr said it will take a while before overall performance improves.

Source - The Thaiger