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Phuket sees 300 million baht boost over long holiday weekend

23/11/2020

The Tourism Authority of Thailand says that Phuket has received a much-needed 300 million baht boost over the 4 day long weekend with around 54,000 tourists flocking to the island from last Thursday through to yesterday.

Phuket Office Director Nanthasiri Ronnasiri, reports that the average expenditure per visitor was about 5,500 baht, which was higher than the average spend for a Thai tourist to Phuket 2 years ago. She also noted that random checks on hotels showed that occupancy rates climbed to about 35%, with most guests staying 2 nights. But most of Phuket’s hotels remain closed.

Nanthasiri also says that many of the tourists concentrated themselves in the Phuket Old Town area, especially around Thalang Road, Phang Nga Road, and Dibuk Road in order to enjoy at the Sino-Portuguese shophouse architecture and historical locations. In fact much of Phuket Town, including its many markets and alley eateries, were doing roaring business, The Thaiger can vouch for the heavy traffic, on the roads and footpaths, over the past 4 days.

“This special holiday made Phuket tourism livelier, even though it was not as same as the situation before the Covid-19 pandemic.”

In fact, despite the welcome surge of visitors, it was still a long, long way from its previous tourist levels with much of the west coast, which has largely catered for the international tourist traffic, was still very quiet in places like Patong, Kata and Karon.

Phuket wasnt the only destination that has profited off of the long weekend as Chiang Mai saw droves of Thai tourists visiting its Royal Park Rajapruek as well as the northern city’s other nearby national parks and tourist areas. Visitors came from all over to see the blossoming of flowers in a beautiful display at the park as well as enjoying the air-purifying flowers as they relaxed. Tourists were able to rent a bicycle for 60 baht if they wanted to exercise while taking in the scenery and could also pay a visit to the orchid greenhouse, which hosts a variety of orchids in bloom. TripAdvisor recommends to set aside 2 hours to visit the park.

Next holiday weekend, on November 27 and 28, Pattaya is expected to get a tourism boost as its annual fireworks festival is set to bring in travellers who have taken advantage of package deals offered by some beachside hotels. Such packages were offered for advance bookings, where holidaymakers could view the firework shows on the rooftops of their hotels. The firework displays are said to be long with breaks of entertainment-packed shows, featuring live music and student bands amongst others.

Phuket sees 300 million baht boost over long holiday weekend | News by The Thaiger

Courtesy: Published at The Thaiger on November 23, 2020 by The Phuket News

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Bank of Thailand takes action to curb Thai baht’s strength

23/11/2020

The Bank of Thailand has moved forward measures, originally meant to begin early 2021, but most of which will now take effect from end of this month. The end result is that the new rules will make it easier for Thais to shuffle money overseas and invest in foreign assets. It will also make is easier for Thai citizens to hold foreign currency in local banks. The new rules will also require the registration of local and overseas bond investors.

“Following the U.S. elections and positive news on Covid-19 vaccine development, investors have turned toward investing in emerging markets, including Thailand. The situation has resulted in strengthening the baht quickly and can impact economic recovery.”

“The registration of bond investors will allow close monitoring of investor’s behaviours and thereby enable the implementation of targeted measures in a timely manner.”

Last week the Bank of Thailand assessed that the Thai baht’s recent rapid gains could affect the country’s “fragile” economic recovery. The Thai government has called on the central bank to do its best to use what tools it has at its disposal to restrain the baht to protect exports.

Khoon Goh, head of Asia research at ANZ Banking Group, says that he central bank also will continue to resort to direct intervention in foreign-exchange markets.

“The issue here is that local investors have a very strong home bias. Making it easier to invest overseas may not actually encourage them to do so.”

The Thai baht has been the 2nd best performer in Asia this month after foreign investors turned net buyers of almost $2.4 billion of bonds and stocks as appetite returns for riskier emerging-market assets amid a weak dollar, according to Bloomberg.

The Thai baht had recently rallied 8.8% from this year’s low in April, hitting a 10 month high last week.

Courtesy: Published at The Thaiger on November 23, 2020 by Bloomberg

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Long weekend generates B300mn for Phuket, says TAT

23/11/2020

PHUKET: Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) Phuket Office Director Nanthasiri Ronnasiri has announced that the long weekend from last Thursday through to yesterday (Nov 19-22) has delivered a welcome boost to the island’s economy.

In total 53,970 tourists had come to Phuket over the four days, generating an estimated B300 million in revenues, Ms Nanthasiri said.

Of note, the figures given for the weekend indicate that the average expenditure per person was about B5,558.

According to TAT Intelligence Centre, that figure was even higher than the average expenditure for a Thai tourist to Phuket of B4,950 in 2018, long before the COVID-19 outbreak or even the economic slowdown last year.

Ms Nanthasiri explained that random checks of hotels on the island revealed that hotels over the weekend enjoyed occupancy rates of about 35%, with most guests staying two nights.

Ms Nanthasiri did not explain how many hotels were asked, or give any comparison on how many hotels across the island were still receiving guests.

Ms Nanthasiri pointed out that many of the tourists visited the Phuket Old Town area, especially Thalang Rd, Phang Nga Rd and Dibuk Rd, “to appreciate the architecture of the Sino-Portuguese shophouses”.

“This special holiday made Phuket tourism livelier, even though it was not as same as the situation before the COVID-19 pandemic,” Ms Nanthasiri said.

The long weekend was created by public holidays last Thursday and Friday declared by Cabinet earlier this year with the sole purpose of boosting domestic tourism throughout the country.

Ms Nanthasiri said that hotel bookings in Phuket had been gradually increasing, said a report by the Public Relations Department Region 5 office, based in Surat Thani.

“Most of the bookings so far have been made for weekends and long holidays. However, Thai people do not like to book their rooms a long time in advance, so the number of advance bookings is not very high,” Ms Nanthasiri said.

Courtesy: Published at The Phuket News on November 23, 2020

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High season to push domestic trips to 70mn

20/11/2020

BANGKOK: The flow of tourists the last two months of this year should drive the number of domestic trips to 70 million this year, while the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) plans more campaigns next year.

Kritsana Kaewthamrong, deputy governor for domestic marketing at TAT, said domestic tourism during the cool season may be softer than usual, but should be higher than previous months because of numerous public holidays, affordable hotel prices and higher flight frequencies, reports the Bangkok Post.

Social distancing practices will set a new direction for tourism flows from downtown to suburban areas, resulting in higher income for local communities.

He believes local tourism sentiment is still unfazed by the news about local cases.

During the first nine months this year, local tourists tallied 52.7 million domestic trips, down 54.1% year-on-year. Those trips contributed B323 billion to the economy, a drop of 59.5%.

Average spending per trip dropped 14.4% to 4,149 baht, while the hotel occupancy rate closed at 28.6%.

In October, the average occupancy rate picked up to 34.4%, especially for hotels in the Northeast and North, where the occupancy rate decreased by just 2.2% and 9.96%, respectively, compared with the same period last year because of colder weather.

The TAT also plans to organise year-end countdown events in provincial areas. The possible provinces consist of Sukhothai, Koh Phi Phi in Krabi, Roi Et and Ratchaburi.

Mr Kritsana said the TAT wants to introduce the “Best Selfie in Thailand” campaign by creating partnerships with airlines and bloggers to offer tourism packages and remind tourists about forgotten destinations.

This campaign is scheduled to start around mid-December or January.

The next campaign, which is set to launch by January, will focus on caravans with car companies to offer cross-regional road trips. Tourist are to experience various types of tourism products along the way.

“We have to focus on highlighting more local identities in each area, making the tourism more sustainable rather than using singers or concerts to attract tourists,” he said.

Moreover, the TAT is discussing with telecom operators offering free WiFi conditioned on tourists completing tourism-related questionnaires. Data from this project will be used to enhance domestic marketing plans.

The agency also aims to adapt products and marketing campaigns to stimulate more trips on weekdays, including targeting the elderly as well as hosting festivals.

Courtesy: Published at The Phuket News on November 20, 2020 by Bangkok Post

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Tourism and Sports Ministry targets 10mn high-season domestic trips

04/11/2020

BANGKOK: The Tourism and Sports Ministry has committed to pushing for 10 million domestic trips per month during high season following the Cabinet’s approval of more financial aid measures on Tuesday, reports the Bangkok Post.

After the government lifted the lockdown in the second quarter, the number of domestic trips gradually picked up from merely 90,000 in April to 8.5 million in September, but has yet to cross the 10-million-trip threshold despite government stimulus schemes, the Bangkok Post noted.

Tourism and Sports Minister Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn said improved scenarios are expected in the last two months of this year, the high season for the domestic market, while measures approved by the government may help operators run their businesses at a steadier pace.

The improved performance in domestic tourism started during the partial lockdown in May with 505,000 trips, before growing to 3.2 million in June, 7.4 million in July and 8.4 million in August.

Vichit Prakobgosol, president of the Association of Thai Travel Agents (Atta), said increasing the allocation of soft loans from B20 million to B100mn and allowing the Thai Credit Guarantee Corporation (TCG) to provide loan guarantees to operators that cannot access financial aid certainly can increase opportunities for operators to receive soft loans.

If the reference regulations remain rigid, such as requiring collateral, cash flow statements and credit bureau credibility, only a small number of operators are eligible for the scheme.

He suggested the government allows a cross-guarantee measure to let three to five companies in the same tourism business act as guarantors for each company instead.

This type of guarantee will help operators who do not have their own collateral access soft loans more easily, he said.

“Everyone is mired in difficult situations as a result of the pandemic,” Mr Vichit said.

“Further relaxations for soft loans are desperately needed to help [operators] stay afloat.”

The Cabinet approved various measures yesterday to assist small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and tourism operators affected by the crisis, said the report.

The Government Savings Bank’s (GSB) soft loan scheme for tourism-related businesses has increased to no more than B100mn baht per borrower from the previous cap of B20mn, the report repeated.

Under the scheme, the GSB provides loans to commercial banks at a 0.01% interest per year in an attempt to have banks re-extend lending to business operators at 2% interest per year for two years.

The loan application period has been extended to June 30, 2021.

Tourism business operators were also granted approval under the B57-billion portfolio guarantee scheme conducted by Soft Loan Plus under the TCG.

Under this soft loan scheme provided to SMEs, the TCG charges a commission fee of 1.75% per year under the eight-year loan guarantee period.

Other approved measures comprise extending the loan application period for the GSB’s B5bn soft loan scheme to rehabilitate the tourism industry to June 30, 2021, and the B10bn Extra Cash scheme under the Small and Medium Enterprise Development Bank to June 30, 2021.

Bhummikitti Ruktaengam, president of the Phuket Tourist Association, said the Cabinet approval of financial measures will help tourism operators retain their employees, concluded the report.

Courtesy: Published at The Phuket News on November 4, 2020 by Bangkok Post

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Phuket gets ready for foreign yachts, high-spending tourists hoped to revive economy

03/11/2020

With hopes that high spending tourists will help revive the crippled economy, Phuket is jumping on the new scheme allowing those travelling on super-yachts and cruise ships to dock in Thailand and enter on the Special Tourist Visa.

Phuket officials have come up with guidelines for the province’s reopening to foreign tourists and will submit it to the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration. If approved, foreign yachts and cruise ships each carrying hundreds of tourists and crew members will be allowed to dock in Phuket.

Foreign tourists and crew members travelling by yacht or cruise ship will need to go through a 14-day quarantine aboard the vessel. Under Phuket’s proposed guidelines, luxury vessels will dock in Ao Por and will be able to anchor around Koh Nakha Noi which is about 6.2 kilometres away from the mainland.

Phuket’s deputy governor Pichet Panapong says the provincial committee on disease control has drafted a step by step approach on how to use the luxury vessels as “alternative yacht quarantine,” or AYQ, facilities.

During the aboard quarantine, temperature checks are required to be done twice each day and RT-PCR Covid-19 tests must be done at least 3 times including upon arrival, between the second and fifth day of quarantine and between the twelfth and fourteenth day.

Small boats will be used to go to and from the yachts to deliver supplies and collect samples. The personnel on the small boats must wear proper protective gear and make sure the boat is cleaned and disinfected after each journey.

Since the cabinet’s guidelines on docking foreign luxury vessels was approved, 27 super yachts and 33 cruise ships, each carrying 600 to 700 people, have shown interest in docking.

Phuket has been struggling since the coronavirus lockdown as its economy heavily relied on foreign tourists for income. Pichet says domestic tourism is not enough. He says the island province needs tourists who are going to spend a significant amount of money and the group of tourists travelling on yachts and cruise ships are expected to generate around 2.1 billion baht.

“We have six to seven requirements for foreign visitors and we only let a small number of them in at a time. So we need those who are significant contributors to revive the local economy. If the spending remains low it will hardly make a difference.”

Courtesy: Published at The Thaiger on November 3, 2020 by Bangkok Post

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Free Trade Agreement talks continue between Thailand and EU

31/10/2020

Thailand is resuming trade talks with the European Union on the long-delayed Thai-EU free trade agreement. The 15th Thai-EU Senior Officials’ conference was held virtually between leading Thai and European trade officials this week. The push was on to have the Free Trade Agreement signed and sealed by the end of this year.

Discussions were held regarding the ongoing affects of the Covid-19 pandemic, the impact on Euro and Thai economies, the current political unrest in Thailand, the fight against Illegal Unreported and Unregulated fishing, promoting the protection of labourers and a commitment to strengthen ties between the Euro zone and Thailand.

The next step in the establishment of the FTA will be a forthcoming meeting on trade and investment in December.

The virtual meeting was represented by Sasiwat Wongsinsawat, the Director-General of the Department of European Affairs and the European Union’s Paola Pampaloni , the Deputy MD for Asia and Pacific Department at the European External Action Service.

Courtesy: Published at The Thaiger on October 31, 2020

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Phuket’s annual Vegetarian Festival expected to draw in 350 million baht

15/10/2020

After months and months of an economic slowdown induced by the coronavirus pandemic and the lack of tourists, thousands of people are expected to arrive to Phuket over the next 2 weeks to take part in the annual Vegetarian Festival. It’s expected to generate more than 350 million baht, according to the Tourism Authority of Thailand Governor Yuthasak Supasorn.

The festival, scheduled to run from Saturday until October 25, is more known for the street processions involving self-mutilation than it is for the vegetarian food. Crowds of people line the streets, watching so-called “mah songs” walk by. The mah songs often practice self-mutilation to enter a trance-like state and channel spirits during the event.

“We expect 60,000 tourists and local people to join the festival. Most of the tourists will come from nearby provinces, up to about 300 kilometres from Phuket.”

The expected revenue isn’t as high as it’s been in the past, but Yuthasak says it will still help stimulate tourism and the local economy. He says 54 of the 200 hotels open in Phuket report about 20% of their rooms are booked for weekdays.

“We expect the festival to generate more than 350 million baht. Even though the number cannot be as high as past years, in a situation like this, it will help to stimulate tourism and the economy well.”

Those at the festival will also need to abide by “new normal” rules to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. Along with typical measures, like wearing a mask and social distancing, mah songs have been asked by the mayor to “limit the level of torturing.”

Phuket's annual Vegetarian Festival expected to draw in 350 million baht | News by The ThaigerPhuket's annual Vegetarian Festival expected to draw in 350 million baht | News by The ThaigerPhuket's annual Vegetarian Festival expected to draw in 350 million baht | News by The ThaigerPhuket's annual Vegetarian Festival expected to draw in 350 million baht | News by The ThaigerPhuket's annual Vegetarian Festival expected to draw in 350 million baht | News by The Thaiger

Courtesy: Published at The Thaiger on October 15, 2020 by The Phuket News

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Cabinet approves B23bn graduate job creation scheme

08/09/2020

BANGKOK: The Cabinet today (Sept 8) approved measures to create jobs, the prime minister said, as the government tries to revive an economy devastated by the coronavirus pandemic.

But planned cash handouts had not been discussed yet, Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha told a news briefing, reported the Bangkok Post.

Last week, the government announced fiscal stimulus plans worth a combined B68.5 billion.

The prime minister said that the Labour Ministry planned to create 12-month-long jobs for 260,000 graduates from universities and vocational schools.

The positions would be among 1 million jobs that the ministry was preparing for people and it would present the job vacancies in an upcoming job expo, Gen Prayut said.

The government will pay 50% of salaries for new graduates during the one-year period starting next month.

Salaries will be set at B15,000 for university graduates, B11,500 for graduates with advanced vocational certificates and B9,400 for graduates with standard vocational certificates.

The subsidies will cost the state about B23.48bn.

Employers participating in this project must be in the social security system and their lay-offs cannot exceed 15% of their workforce during the one-year period.

Graduates must not be older than 25 years, unless they graduated during the previous year or will graduate this year.

Government spokesman Anucha Burapachaisri said the subsidy was a part of the B1 trillion that the Finance Ministry borrowed to shore up the economy affected by the coronavirus pandemic.

Courtesy: Published at The Phuket News on September 8, 2020 by Bangkok Post

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Panel announces plans to boost tourism, create 1 million jobs

20/08/2020

The new panel established by PM Prayut Chan-ocha to steer the economy through the Covid-19 crisis got off to a blazing start yesterday, announcing measures to boost tourism and create a million jobs. Created after the Cabinet reshuffle earlier this month, the panel’s first meeting was chaired by the PM and attended by economics ministers and experts. After the meeting, Deputy Prime Minister and Energy Minister Supattanapong Punmeechaow said they had agreed to increase subsidies for local tourists and make jobs available for 400,000 recent graduates.

The committee plans to boost local tourism by expanding its 40% subsidy for accommodation costs from 5 nights to 10. The government launched the tourism subsidies in mid-July with its “We Travel Together” scheme, but so far only around 660,000 of the available 5 million subsidised nights have been booked. Travellers will also see their 1,000 baht discount on air tickets increased to 2,000 baht. Corporations will be invited to use the subsidies to organise seminars or training in other parts of the country. The measures will be submitted to the Cabinet for approval on Tuesday.

The Labour Ministry will also propose measures to create 1 million jobs in the near future to combat burgeoning unemployment. The government has prioritised finding another 400,000 jobs for graduates by funding companies to hire and retain workers. The jobs will be available at private companies and government agencies, according to the minister. The government will also launch other job creation projects funded by the 400 billion baht economic stimulus package.

The unemployment rate in the second quarter rose 1.9 per cent to 745,000 people, according to the National Economic and Social Development Council. The NESDC is also worried about further job losses as 1.7 million workers are currently “furloughed”. The state think-tank predicts the economy will shrink 7.5 per cent this year following a plunge of 12.2 per cent in the second quarter.

Supattanapong said the government aims to bolster the economy and keep the contraction lower than projections.

The new governor of the Bank of Thailand says more small and medium-sized enterprises will apply for loans under the government’s 500 billion baht soft loans scheme. Launched by the central bank in April, the scheme has attracted fewer than expected borrowers due to strict loan conditions. On Tuesday the government relaxed the conditions, instructing bythe state run Thai Credit Guarantee Corporation to guarantee loans, which will encourage commercial banks to lend more.

Courtesy: Published at The Thaiger on August 20, 2020 by Nation Thailand

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