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A Thai flag is carried proudly at Provincial Hall on Tuesday

Phuket Air Siege: 'Two Years for Recovery'

Wednesday, September 3, 2008
Wednesday TRENDS

PHUKET needs Australian and Japanese travellers to return as soon as possible after the three-day airport siege, a leading tourism industry spokesman said today.

Methee Tanmanatragul, president of the Thai Hotels Association, Southern Chapter, said the occupancy rate at resorts on the island, normally 55 percent at this time of the year, had slumped to 30 percent.

The actual financial loss was difficult to calculate. It would take at least a year and possibly two to fully recover, he said.

''The airport is the lifeblood of the industry,'' Khun Methee said.

''Tourists will change their plans, go to Bali or somewhere else and not return to Phuket if there is a problem.''

Phuket is back to normal and perfectly safe. If you have any questions, please ask us via the Comment box below

He said Australians had been quick to return after the 2004 tsunami, and he hoped they would lead the recovery again after the man-made 2008 disaster.

The Japanese were probably going to be harder to attract back, he added.

''They are sensitive to any problem that arises,'' Khun Methee said. ''We only really got the Japanese market back post-tsunami a little while ago.''

Phang Nga was equally damaged by the blockade of Phuket International Airport last Friday, he said.

Eleven airlines flew to Phuket in the low season compared to 28 in high season, Khun Methee said.

Sarayuth Mallam, Director of Royal Phuket Marina, said the damage was spread across 28 countries. All those connections would need to be repaired with extra marketing, he said.

Tourist associations, resort associations, the Patong Hotel Association and the Kata Karon Hotel Association would need to work together.

A small, peaceful People's Alliance for Democracy protest was due to end this evening at Phuket Provincial Hall, with a planeload of PAD heading for Bangkok and perhaps the PM's long awaited resignation on Thursday morning.

Airline's 15 Million Baht Rescue

AUSTRALIAN newspapers have reported that low-cost airline Jetstar has been left with a 15 million baht ($A500,000) bill from its rescue of Australian holidaymakers on Monday..

A special chartered Jetstar flight carried 200 passengers stranded on Pucket back to Sydney.

A Jetstar spokesperson said: ''We had an obligation to customers and, dealing with difficult conditions, I think we've gone about it in a very professional way.''

Far from arriving home with horror travel stories, many of the passengers laughed about enjoying a couple of extra days ''in paradise''.

''I'm stuck in paradise,'' one man said he had told his boss by phone when he couldn't make it back for work.

Chris Blows said he never felt threatened or intimidated.

''It was frustrating, especially when you couldn't see any police or anything,'' he said.

''They sort of had free rein. But I guess that's cultural differences and when you travel you learn to appreciate it.''

Jillian and Kelvin Rosscarel, from the NSW central coast, said they did not feel insecure or witness any violence.

''Other than the fact that the plane didn't leave as scheduled, it was just like an extended holiday,'' Mr Rosscarel said.

TAT Team Play Tag

THE TIMING of the Tourism Authority of Thailand may be off just a little, through no fault of their own.

Suwalai Pinpradab, director of Southern Office, Region 4 for more than four years, has headed to her new posting in Europe.

But her replacement, Settapan Puttanee, coming from New York, will not take up his position until October.

The TAT assistant director, Anoma Vongyai, is also on the move, having been offered a job in Japan.

Taking her place will be Nongnit Tengmaneewan, who has arrived from her previous posting in India for four years. She does not have a mobile telephone yet.

The Governor joked today when they met that she had brought strife with her.

The TAT is opting not to react to the crisis until the political situation is resolved and they can be precise about what needs to be done to get tourism ticking over again.

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

from Phuketwan:

September 2
With a state of emergency announced in Bangkok, a survey of Phuket resorts indicates that the airport siege cost the tourism industry dearly. One thing is sure: Phuket is no longer the haven from political unrest it was last week.

Phuket Resorts Report Cancellations, Uncertainty

August 28
Phuket's Big Buddha stands at the top when it comes to tourist attractions, bringing more and more visitors to the island; Phuket artist takes on Manhattan; Charity golf day.

Phuket's Big Buddha Tops With Tourists

August 27
After a month's delay for a poll challenge, Patong has a reelected mayor. Pian Keesin is likely to push the Patong Tunnel and the Big Buddha cable car; Phuket mourns five in van blast; Alert on PAD action.

Patong Mayor Pian Wins Despite Poll Challenge

August 26
The familiar green Phuket City buses are turning pink and changing in other ways, too. Look for the new buses from October 1; New discount for airlines at Phuket; Dengue fight goes on foot.

Phuket Turns Pink With New Bus Service

August 25
In a fuss about funding, Bang Tao almost loses its artificial Sky Dive Reef to Koh Racha. It was not plane sailing; Shock and disbelief at Immigration over the coming Russian invasion

Phuket Sky Dive Reef Saved for Bang Tao

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


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