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The Governor of Ranong, Kanchana Pakeemun

Budget Cuts Hurt New Andaman Destination

Monday, August 11, 2008
Monday TRENDS

RANONG is running hard to catch up with the other tourism provinces of the Andaman group.

But the region's newest destination is already finding that national funding is the big uncertainty.

The outspoken Governor of Ranong, Kanchana Pakeemun, told Phuketwan that her province's budget for essential spending on tourism-related projects had been, well, sliced and diced.

''We cannot be expected to attract tourists without money being invested,'' she said.

The governor said that visitors to the new hot springs resort had been told their bookings had to be cancelled. Funding to upgrade the resort had been allocated, then withdrawn.

So Ranong joins the club. The other provinces in the Andaman group, Phuket, Krabi and Phang Nga, have had plenty of experience with lack of adequate funding from Bangkok.

Khun Kanchana said the failure of funding was disappointing because Ranong airport, reopened this year, was already attracting Thai Air Asia customers in heartening quantities.

The airline has flights from Bangkok to Ranong three times a week. One-Two-Go is also keen to fly to Ranong, if the grounded airline overcomes Department of Civil Aviation concerns about safety.

''Ranong is a peaceful place but if we want tourists we need to make sure the city is even safer,'' she said.

Easier said than done. CCTV cameras were to be installed to improve checks on people in transit between Burma and Ranong. But that budget has been cancelled, too.

Lucky For Some

WITH former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra and his wife missing their Thai Airways flight from Beijing to Bangkok, we hope some lucky Chinese tourists on standby made the cut.

All the fortunate fliers will need to do now is find some way of getting seats from Bangkok to Phuket.

Of course! They only have to wait for Nok Air's restored services, each Saturday and Sunday . . .

Firefly Flying High on Turboprop

FIREFLY, the small airline that operates services between Penang and Phuket, is expected to realise profits next year, says managing director Eddy Leong.

He says the turnaround is possible because it has just 160 staff and an advantage in saving costs through parent Malaysia Airlines.

Being community-minded, Leong says Firefly places great emphasis on safety and comfort in its flying experience.

''We fly high in the modified turbo-propelled propeller,'' he says ''The Fokker 50 uses less fuel than other aircraft.

''Before the end of this year, three more fuel-efficient Turbo Prop ATR 72-500 will replace the Fokker 50s.

''The new small body aircraft, which will be able to ferry 70 passengers, is ideal for the type of routes we cater, providing quick landing and takeoffs.'' he adds.

Leong refers to Firefly, launched in April last year, as Malaysia's ''first community airline.''

Small and short seem to be beautiful in the airline business right now.

A Motto for Everyone

NOT EVERY slogan we see on the back of large four-wheel vehicles at stop lights has appeal. But we did like this one because it seemed especially Thai and especially true:

''I love to have fun. I love my family and friends. I love this beautiful planet Earth.''

We will go along with that.

Look for
TRENDS
every day, Monday to Friday, at Phuketwan. It's essential reading. To tell us your news, email bigislandmedia@gmail.com or telephone 081 6513489.

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Look for
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every day, Monday to Friday, at Phuketwan. It's essential reading. To tell us your news, email bigislandmedia@gmail.com or telephone 081 6513489.

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