KEMPINSKI, a respected European brand now expanding rapidly into China, was planning to reopen the old Sofitel Magic Lagoon Resort and Spa near Khao Lak. Not any more.
Plans for Kempinski to be be the new brand at the 300-room resort have been shelved.
But Phuketwan has been told the reopening of the resort is to go ahead as planned for November 1 2008.
The reason for the change is unclear but we were assured on July 9 that staff hired for the new resort still have jobs.
A new brand will be announced next week, Phuketwan has been told. It would have been Kempinski's first venture in Thailand.
The old Sofitel was upgraded to a five-star not long before the December 26, 2004, tsunami.
We think it is the last of the big Andaman resorts to be restored.
THE tsunami is no joke, but sometimes we find it hard not to laugh.
As chairman of the National Committee on Disaster Warning Systems, Deputy Prime Minister Suwit Khunkitti, oversaw the practice warning drill at Saphan Hin, in Phuket City, on July 7.
Complaints about the lack of penetrating sound at some of 79 warning towers along the Andaman coast came later.
Khun Suwit's suggestion to solve the problem, according to Thai News, is that the warning towers should play the national anthem twice every day so we all know that the system is working.
We wish Khun Suwit well in his future career, whatever that might be.
High Season Prediction
THE Bangkok Post has now confirmed, as Phuketwan reported on June 30, that direct flights are to resume between Tokyo and Phuket twice-weekly. That's positive news amid the gloom.
The Phuket Tourist Association told the Post that average hotel occupancy in Phuket in the coming high season would be 70 percent compared with 75 percent in the 2006-07 high season.
Here's hoping that's accurate. Other predictions are more bleak.
Phuket's Own Roadshow
PHUKET organises plenty of roadshows to promote its tourism prospects.
Now the small Penang airline Firefly, Tourism Malaysia and the Penang Tourism Action Council are running a roadshow in Phuket.
''Penang's location is very strategic and Firefly will position the state as a gateway to the Indonesia-Malaysia-Thailand Growth Triangle,'' said PTAC chairman Datuk Kee Phaik Cheen.
''We must be pragmatic. Penang can no longer stand on her own.
''That is why I want to promote closer cooperation with other countries and come up with joint packages that add value for visitors,'' she said.
Penang is a popular destination for weekends and visa runs from Phuket.
ALONG with other destinations, the Philippines is repositioning itself for global market shifts.
Samie Lim, vice chairman of the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry, aims to have tourists stay longer, or if they won't stay longer, at least spend more.
And China, inevitably, is seen as the end of the rainbow.
''Korea is a good market but we are not getting the right tourists,'' Lim says. ''We are getting Koreans who live in one house, sometimes all 16 of them in just one house.
''We should target the Chinese - China is huge and there are areas where they have no beaches. They also love to gamble,'' Lim says.
Yes, and that cuts out Phuket. We still think the island's future would be more assured with a casino, just for tourists.