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Ten bodies found in Central World, Thai media reports

MediaWATCH: '10 Bodies' in Central World; Phuket Safe, Rules Taiwan Travel Alert; Order Restored, Says PM; Phuket's Pain

Friday, May 21, 2010

TEN Bodies recovered in Central World ruins, says Thai media. Total building damage in Bangkok put at $1.25 billion. According to a source in the insurance industry, Central World had bought a terrorism policy that covers three billion baht. [Only one body was found].

PM Abhisit Vejjajiva said on television that order had been restored to Bangkok and normalcy would come. He promised a full independent investigation and said he intended to pursue the five tenets of the road map to reconciliation. Taiwan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs raised the travel alert to red - the highest grade on a four-color system - for the greater Bangkok area, advising Taiwanese tourists against visiting the Thai capital unless necessary. The alert was orange - also very serious - for other areas in Thailand, except for the resort area of Phuket island.

MOST of Phuket's red supporters who remained in Bangkok until the end are already back on Phuket with the last due to arrive on Saturday, sources have told Phuketwan. ''Tourism in value terms accounts for six per cent of our GDP,'' Finance Minister Korn Chatikavanij told a Tokyo conference Friday, adding that the sector also accounts for ''as much as 15 to 20 percent of the total employment.'' ''And clearly, with the events that took place over the past several weeks, and the pictures of these events flashing across TV screens across the world, it is going to have a very disastrous impact on tourism.''

Phuketwan MediaWATCH: Photo Album Above

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

bloomberg About 860 kilometers south of the rioting in Bangkok, the island of Phuket is again counting the cost of events beyond its control. The worst political violence in at least 18 years, which escalated as security forces struggled to clear rioters from buildings in the city, is deterring travel to Thailand and damaging Phuket's $3 billion tourism industry. Hotel occupancy there has dropped below 40 percent, about a third less than normal, according to the Thai Hotels Association.

Phuketwan Opinion As resort managers and marketing directores have told Phuketwan, Phuket's plight is worse than after the 2004 tsunami. The tsunami was followed by a wave of international generosity that put tourists back on Phuket fast, and along the Andaman coast soon after. This will take longer. Phuket is going to suffer a lot of pain. Jobs will be lost, and so will investment.
The bargain hunters will come, because the rates will be attractive: they will have to be. Wolfgang Meusburger, a veteran of almost two decades at Patong's Holiday Inn, told Bloomberg: ''Something is broken and you hope that it can be mended, but this time, the damage is very great.''
And the pain will be more intense because, unlike the tsunami, the damage this time to Phuket's tourism industry was entirely avoidable.
Travel alerts, issued independently by 40 nations, simply failed to describe the situation accurately.
Phuket was always safe. There was never any real danger.
The enduring tragedy is that the international diplomatic community has done as much damage on Phuket as the arsonists have done in Bangkok. There will be at least six months of suffering: jobs gone, increased crime, poverty and deaths.
To prevent more needless sacrifice, it's time the mish-mash of national travel alerts became an accurate and reliable global system.
Kongkrit Hiranyakit, president of the Tourism Council of Thailand, told Bloomberg: ''The impact will be the worst in 50 years of Thai tourism history.''
The danger is that just like the tsunami, without action to protect the innocent, it could all happen again. It's time for reforms to prevent more needless suffering.

ani Thailand's tourism industry experts have claimed that the red shirts' anti-government rally could cause the sector about 120 billion baht in lost revenue. "The political turmoil [for Phuket, read 'travel alerts'] will drive away foreign tourists. The number of foreign arrivals this year is expected to drop by 10 per cent to between 12.7 million and 14.1 million," the Bangkok Post quoted Kongkrish Hiranyakij, Chairman Federation of Thai Tourism Industries, as saying. He added that the number of foreign tourists was expected take a 20 percent dip in the second and third quarters of the year, bringing projected revenue down from 600 billion baht to 480 billion baht this year. Five travel companies that spoke to my paper had seen cancellations and postponements of 10 to 80 percent of trips scheduled to depart in March, when the protests began. The situation is looking even bleaker this week. One company said that Singaporeans are not going to the whole of Thailand now, avoiding even Phuket and Samui. While visitors should begin filtering back in if the violence subsides, investments will take much, much longer to return. Multinational investors will simply go elsewhere. Thai investors will put decisions on hold until it becomes clear where the country is headed, which could take years. The first evidence of this came last week when Bangkok property developer MBK plc announced it would delay two new hotel projects worth between $60 million and $100 million. Construction on the hotels - one in Bangkok and one on Phuket - will commence about one year after the unrest ends, a rather hazy timeline. A total of 52 people have been killed, 15 of them on Wednesday and yesterday, and 399 have been injured since last Friday, according to the Ewaran Emergency Centre. Yutasak Romchattong, director of the Prevention and Mitigation Office at the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration, said one reason for the severe damage to several buildings was the ban by the Centre for the Resolution of the Emergency Situation on firefighters going into those areas because of safety concerns. Life in Bangkok started returning to normal Thursday as Thailand's capital began to clean up the mess left by a months-long protest, but a solution to the country's deep-seated political problems appeared no closer.

reuters Bangkok Bank, the country's biggest lender, said 10 of its branches had suffered in the rioting. Some branches at the bank - a target of the protesters because of supposed links to the royalist elite they were fighting - also were also damaged by grenades earlier in the protest. Central World was badly damaged. Zen, a trendy store at the front of the complex, was destroyed, according to Central Pattana, which owns the mall. Initial inspection showed the nearby Centara Grand Hotel, operated by Central Plaza Hotel, was not damaged. Government officials reassured the nation that the situation in the capital was largely under control, though die-hard protesters exchanged sporadic fire with troops early in the day. ''We can immediately fix the roads,'' Bangkok Governor Sukhumbhand Paribatra said on television. ''But we do not know how long it will take to fix the wounded hearts and minds of the people.'' As Thailand picks up the pieces after Bangkok's worst-ever protests and street riots, the country is further away from peace and reconciliation than it was two months ago, when the red shirts under the United Front for Democracy Against Dictatorship took to the streets. As details of violence emerge, the Committee to Protect Journalists called on the Thai government to investigate the deaths of two journalists who were killed while covering the violence. It is the government's duty to instruct military forces to be aware of the presence of journalists in a battle area and ensure their safety, CPJ said. In addition to the two journalists killed, at least six more were injured while covering the unrest, according to news reports.

Phuket Coming Events

May 21 Phuket fightback: Watermark meeting of key Phuket networking groups, from 5pm.
May 21-23 Paragliding on Phuket.
May 22 Jazz on the Beach at Karon from 5pm: Tickets, 1500 baht. Details:
May 23 Tourism Authority of Thailand bicycle ride around Old Phuket Town. A guided tour, with meals and a t-shirt, for just 100 baht. Bookings from May 10. Details: 076 217138 or 076 211036.
May 26 Boy George plays at Seduction, Phuket.
May 31-June 5 Eight-nation football tournament for players over 55 at Surakul Stadium in Phuket City. Britain, Australia, New Zealand, Thailand, Taiwan, Iran, Armenia competing.
June 4-13 Phuket International Film Festival, Coliseum Cineplex, Phuket City.
June 13 Laguna Phuket International Marathon. Fun runs, too.
June 25 to 27 Second Kathu Culture Road Fair, recalling the region's history
July 21-25 Phuket Six Senses Race Week, Evason, Rawai
July 4 Planned US Phuket Navy League Independence Day party on Patong shorefront at Loma Park
December 4-11 Phuket King's Cup Regatta

January 6-9 PIMEX boat show, Royal Phuket Marina
February 9-13 The Bay Regatta - Phuket, Phang Nga, Krabi
Phuket, Safe Half of Amazing, Blazing Thailand
News Analysis Tourism is a vital part of Thailand's economy and one in five Thais depend on it. To torch tourism with travel alerts is a wanton act of international vandalism.
Phuket, Safe Half of Amazing, Blazing Thailand

Phuket Flights Cancelled, Travel Alerts Bite
News Analysis Thai Airways cuts flights between Phuket and Bangkok as passenger arrival and departure figures drift lower, towards a desolate June.
Phuket Flights Cancelled, Travel Alerts Bite

Phuket Stays Safe, Says Island's Police Chief
UPDATE Police numbers are down because of reinforcements being sent to Bangkok, but Phuket remains a safe place for residents and tourists, says the island's chief of police.
Phuket Stays Safe, Says Island's Police Chief

Centara Confirms October for 1.9bn Baht Resort
Latest Confidence is required for Phuket tourism in the face of continuing strife. The island is suffering despite an absence of violence. Centara says it's all go for a 1.9 billion baht development.
Centara Confirms October for 1.9bn Baht Resort

Phuket Resorts to Aid New Swim-Safe Campaign
Latest Coastal resorts on Phuket are to be asked to help inform tourists of the risks involved in swimming when local beaches are particularly dangerous in the 'summer' season.
Phuket Resorts to Aid New Swim-Safe Campaign


Comments have been disabled for this article.


A real point of concern to Phuket and all of Thailand now must be the big decline in European currency purchasing power. Thailand is now looking expensive. Phuket being a premium rate district will suffer more. Prices are essentially up to 31 percent greater to Tourists than they were in 2007 when 1 GBP was 67 baht.

Editor: The Aussie dollar is falling through the floor, too.

Posted by Mike Hunt on May 21, 2010 09:22

Wednesday May 12, 2021
Horizon Karon Beach Resort & Spa


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