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Phuket on Sunday in Patong: Jet-skis wait for tourists

MediaWATCH: How Jet-Ski JJ Scammed US Marines

Monday, September 14, 2009
Phuketwan MediaWATCH

A daily wrap of Thailand news, with a Phuket perspective and reports from national and international media.

andrew-drummond.com 'Thai jet ski boss took cash off the US Marines, too,' says the headline. A now notorious Phuket jet-ski operator accused of ripping off British Royal Marines in the infamous 'damaged jet ski scam' also took cash off US Marines in an incident just days later - and was ''wai-ed'' by one marine in an apparent plea for lenience, freshly posted footage shows. Producer-director Gavin Hill says: ''I have released this material so that nobody can be in any doubt that any of these sequences were set up. I just shot as things happened. I should not have needed to defend my integrity, but it has now become an issue and I have to deal with it.'' British marines who claim they were swindled and held at gunpoint while on R&R in Thailand say they are ''ready to go to war'' over an alleged cover-up of the incident.

Associated Press Scams against tourists are the subject of a new British documentary series called 'Big Trouble in Tourist Thailand.' The program, which aired its first of eight episodes last week on British television, ''explores the ugly side of tourism in Thailand'' - like getting ripped off by a gun-wielding jet-ski operator and landing in jail after partying at a drugged-out, all-night beach rave. The show is sure to hit a sore spot in Thailand, where the tourism industry has barely recovered from last year's public relations disaster at Suvarnabhumi airport - the main gateway to the country - when anti-government protesters shut the airport for a week and stranded 300,000 travelers.

Today's Must Read

Bangkok Post Editorial It is encouraging that the Airports of Thailand has shown willingness to put its money where its mouth is. The war it is waging on unlicensed taxi drivers, tour guides, touts and other shady operators at Suvarnabhumi Airport was originally expected to last a month. Instead, it is now entering its seventh week after netting over 1200 illegal drivers and tour guides and exceeding the time frame allotted for similar crackdowns in the past. Clearly they are serious about this, but the key question of what happens when funds do eventually run out and the crackdown tapers off remains unanswered. Short-term measures will not solve this problem.

news.ninemsn.com.au Australians make up the largest portion of foreign sex offenders against children in Thailand, according to a study. Researchers at the John Hopkins University in Baltimore studied patterns of arrests and prosecutions between 1995 and 2006 as part of a plan to tackle child sex trafficking. Bernadette McMenamin, CEO of Child Wise Australia, said child sex trafficking remains a hidden problem that most Australians have become complacent about. She said most Australians view the price of petrol as a greater concern than the welfare of foreign children: ''We're simply not keeping up with travelling sex offenders.'''

scmp.com Two of the buildings at the heart of one of Hong Kong's biggest entertainment hubs are destined for the wrecker's ball. California Entertainment Building and California Tower, the 12-storey buildings where businessman Allan Zeman began opening the bars and restaurants that transformed Lan Kwai Fong 26 years ago, will be torn down next year. In their place will come a single 24-storey tower. ''Lan Kwai Fong has to transform itself. People look for new things and have lots of places they can choose to spend,'' said Zeman, who is known as 'the Father of Lan Kwai Fong'. ''If you stick with the old model, you will die.'' Zeman plans to invite some big-name restaurant groups to Hong Kong.

boston.com After decades of military dictatorship, and the threat of Islamism in the late 1990s, Indonesia is today ruled by a coalition that mixes secular and moderate Islamic parties and protects minority rights. And at a time when countries from Japan to Singapore are struggling, Indonesia posted some of the strongest growth in Asia this year. The nation's occasional terrorist attacks haven't succeeded in destabilising the government, which has steadily built a reputation for good governance and an effective battle against militant groups.

Jakarta Post Djodi Trisusanto of Jones Lang LaSalle writes: Recent data has shown relatively stable growth in Bali during the period after the hotel bombings in July. International tourist arrivals for the seven months up to July 2009 were recorded at over 1.2 million, a growth of around 12 percent over that of 2007. Security measures and government initiatives to minimize the effect of recent Jakarta bombings on the Bali tourism market as well as efforts to capture and to bring the perpetrators to justice have given confidence and positive perception to international tourists that Bali remains a safe tourist destination.

bloomberg.com Yu Lia-chun, a retired hospital orderly in Hong Kong, never heard of Lehman Brothers before she got a call last September from her banker. ''He said: 'Did you hear the news? Something has happened to Lehman,''' Yu, 66, recalled. ''I didn't get it.'' Eventually, she found out that her HK$1.2 million nest egg was gone. What hit Yu and her family was a tidal wave triggered halfway around the world by the biggest bankruptcy in US history.

asiatraveltips.com Marriott International has signed 21 management contracts for hotels and resorts in the Asia Pacific region. The 21 hotels are scheduled to open through the end of 2013, represent four of the company's lodging brands and will add nearly 7,000 rooms to Marriott's previously-announced Asia Pacific pipeline of 37 hotels and 9400 rooms now under construction. They are part of the companys global development pipeline of 110,000 rooms.

Bangkok Post The international community may finally have the information it needs to effectively prod the intransigent Burmese military regime to change its repressive ways - the specific offshore location of the regime's illicit multi-billion dollar natural gas revenues has been revealed. According to our 110-page report entitled 'Total Impact: The Human Rights, Environmental, and Financial Impacts of Total and Chevron's Yadana Natural Gas Project in Military-Ruled Burma (Myanmar)', the oil giants Total and Chevron have generated US$4.83 billion (164 billion baht) in profits for the ruling State Peace and Development Council (SPDC) since the companies' Yadana gas pipeline to Thailand started commercial production in 2000.

travelbite.co.uk Carol Driver has picked the top luxury holiday resorts in Thailand: the five-star Lebua, which stands head and shoulders above other hotels in Bangkok. The 247-metre tall building has been described as the finest, all-suite hotel in the Thai capital; the Alila five star resort near Cha-Am; the Six Senses Hideaway andthe exclusive X2 luxury resort on Koh Samui; Indigo Pearl on Phuket; The Sarojin, near Khao Lak, north of Phuket.

smh.com.au Australian schools are reporting a rise in the number of students missing up to two months of classes as overworked parents are driven to book family holidays during term. It comes as airlines and travel agents offer bargain prices for trips outside school holidays in a bid for the family dollar in tough economic times.

msnbc.msn.com Despite the stark facts that rainforests once covered 14 percent of the earth's land surface and now cover only six percent, and that thousands of species continue to be lost each year to deforestation, the rain does not stop, and there is still plenty of luxuriant terrain to explore and discover. Caption: Gibbons, rhesus monkeys, macaques, cobras and elephants are some of the animal kingdom heavy hitters in residence at Erawan National Park in Thailand's Kanchanaburi Province. In the natural features department, the star attraction is the seven-tiered Erawan Falls, named for a three-headed white elephant in Hindu mythology.

biz.thestar.com.my Malaysia stands out as one of the few countries in the world that have extensively liberalised their property markets to attract foreign buyers. From January 1, 2010, the minimum threshold of residential units that can be sold to foreigners will be doubled from the current RM250,000 to RM500,000. While neighboring countries impose various restrictions, Malaysia allows the purchase of freehold property by foreign purchasers. Despite the much better terms, lower prices and the offer of freehold property, foreigners are still not coming in droves to invest.

wsj.com ''The consumer is king'' and will benefit from the global economic recession as luxury houses rethink their business strategy, writes Tina Gaudoin, editor-in-chief of WSJ., The Wall Street Journal's glossy magazine. ''Luxury goods houses will have to rethink the way they appeal to us, the consumers, in order to survive...which ultimately means greater value, superior products and a better deal," writes Ms Gaudoin in her cover story. The September issue also includes ''A Man Obsessed: Amanresorts is one of the most exclusive - if not the most exclusive - hotel chains in the world with lush properties in exotic spots like Phuket, Thailand, and Marrakesh, Morocco. Its influence can be found in leading upscale hotels like the Ritz Carlton, but yet it's not widely known about in the U.S. WSJ delves into the secret behind founder Adrian Zecha's success.

dailymail.co.uk A British drug smuggler who avoided the death penalty in Laos by becoming pregnant has given birth after being returned home to serve her sentence. Samantha Orobator, 20, left Holloway Prison to give birth to a girl in hospital several weeks ago, the charity Reprieve says. A spokeswoman said: ''It was earlier than we thought but we're not sure if the doctor got the date wrong or it came early.''

eturbonews.com Think of Phuket and the chances are many travel professionals may conjure up images of an overcrowded, overcommercialised, overpriced corner of Thailand that is best avoided. Recently I revisited Phuket and was amazed (pun intended) at the choices available for couples wanting a destination wedding or honeymoon that is original and affordable. Thai style is always high-end, colorful, and exotic.

Phuketwan on Phuket News

British Warning Follows Phuket Beach Drownings
Latest Phuket has failed to adequately protect tourists and residents on its beaches.The consequences of years of neglect are about to damage the island's tourism industry.
British Warning Follows Phuket Beach Drownings

More Shocks to Come in Phuket Jet-Ski Scandal
Latest Phuket's Jet Ski Scandal is expected to grow in scale with more revelations to come on television in 'Big Trouble'. Sources say that honest Thais and tourists will be shocked.
More Shocks to Come in Phuket Jet-Ski Scandal

'Big Trouble' for JJ: Inside the Jet-Ski Scandal
Latest The producer who shot the series that focuses on the underbelly of Phuket's tourism troubles provides his own illuminating account of the filming and the fuss that followed.
'Big Trouble' for JJ: Inside the Jet-Ski Scandal

China Anger: Jet-Ski Scammers Told to Behave
Photo Album Phuket's Governor has told the island's jetski operators to clean up their act, or else. His plain speaking warning came as VIPs from China told Phuket to protect their tourists.
China Anger: Jet-Ski Scammers Told to Behave

Confessions of a Farang Bangkok Bodysnatcher
Bodysnatcher Profile Phuket has its volunteer foundations but Bangkok is noted for its Bodysnatchers, and Marko Cunningham is the only farang among them. He tells his story in a new book.
Confessions of a Farang Bangkok Bodysnatcher

British Tourist Hires Car in Patong, Vanishes
Latest Police are concerned for the safety of a British visitor who hired a car on Phuket and then vanished mysteriously, leaving the vehicle in Phang Nga Town. Blood was found on a seat.
British Tourist Hires Car in Patong, Vanishes

Phuket Wins New 500m Baht Mainland Link
Latest Work begins on a new as yet unnamed bridge to the mainland, but romantic Sarasin Bridge will be modified so masted vessels can negotiate the passage for the first time in decades.
Phuket Wins New 500m Baht Mainland Link

Phuket Bans All Future Marinas, Private Piers
News Analysis In a dramatic reversal of policy, the Phuket Governor has banned the building of non government marinas and piers. It leaves some developers making broken promises.
Phuket Bans All Future Marinas, Private Piers

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