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Roundup of Thailand news with AJW

TODAY: BKK Weather 34C, Hot, bright and partly cloudy; Euro:US 1.3068, Euro:Baht 40.11, SET Index: 1311 BANGKOK BRIEF:

Roundup of Thailand news with AJW

TODAY:

BKK Weather 34C, Hot, bright and partly cloudy; Euro:US 1.3068, Euro:Baht 40.11, SET Index: 1311

BANGKOK BRIEF:

3G deal comes under heavy fire. PC Air struggles to get people back from Korea, faces loss of license. Bridgestone to expand Thai plant.

WORLD SUMMARY:

Bangladesh Islamist held in New York bomb plot. Assad regime disappears 28,000 Syrians as Haj ceasefire possible. Anti-austerity riots paralyze Greece.

OTHER NEWS:

– PC AIR: The airline that launched last year amid publicity for it’s transgender flight attendants, has been ordered to halt flights by the Civil Aviation Department after it stranded Thai tourists for 2 days in South Korea when it could not pay its fuel bill.

After being stranded at Seoul’s Incheon International Airport since Tuesday, the Thais returned to Bangkok yesterday after PC Air paid its outstanding fuel and airport fees.

Civil Aviation Chief Voradej Harnprasert said his department will need a week to investigate what happened and warned that PC Air could be stripped of its license if such an incident happened again.

The PC Air flight returned to Bangkok at 4:00 am yesterday morning with 228 passengers. It left behind around 170 more passengers, who were assisted with accommodations and meals by the Thai Embassy, tour agencies, and Thai Airways International. They were to return to Bangkok at around 10:00 pm last night.

PC Air president Peter Chan apologized for the inconvenience and assured that the airline had paid the fuel charges. He said he would go to South Korea to further investigate the problem.

– WINE DESTINATION WINNERS: TripAdvisor announced the winners of its 2012 Travelers’ Choice Wine Destinations awards. Thirty-two spots across the world were honored, based on millions of valuable traveler reviews and opinions on TripAdvisor.

Award winners were determined based on their popularity as wine destinations, taking into account travelers’ reviews and opinions for local wineries, restaurants, attractions, and accommodations.

Best Wine Destinations:

Tuscany, Italy
Sonoma County, California
Hunter Valley, Australia
Stellenbosch, South Africa

– CRUISE POPULARITY GROWS: There has been a sharp rise in the number of people enjoying cruise holidays, according to new reports. A record number of cruise passengers enjoyed a holiday at sea last year, with the total global figure jumping to over 20 million for the first time.

According to the Cruise Line International Association (CLIA) cruise passenger numbers increased by 10 percent between 2010 and 2011 with a leap in bookings of almost 2 million people.

The figure jumped from 18.7 million to 20.6 million passengers with North America and Europe being the most popular destinations of choice.

– BANG SARAY THAILAND: Until recently Bang Saray was a sleepy fishing village where the only activity was the coming and going of the small wooden fishing craft as they depart each day to make their catch.

Recently, due to the superb location (between Rayong and Pattaya) it has been “slightly” developed by one or 2 high end villa projects. However, it still maintains its “old world charm.” The gentle sloping beach and the calm turquoise waters are rarely busy and offer an excellent opportunity for relaxing and eating local barbecue and seafood dishes.

Only a few hundred meters in from the beach road stands the impressive Bang Saray Temple (Wat) with its tall roofs and highly-decorated spires. If you are an early riser, it is possible to see the monks on their daily rounds, collecting food and performing ritual blessings to the people.

– GOOGLE TOO MUCH INFORMATION: Google suffered the single largest plunge in stock market history when US$24 billion was wiped off the company’s value after its results were accidentally released. The catastrophic error revealed that profits were down by 20 percent. The Internet search leader that prides itself on organizing the world’s information lost control of its own data. ”This is a monumental failure of epic proportions,” said Michael Robinson, an Executive Vice president for Levick Strategic Communications, which specializes in financial crisis management.

– BANGKOK THEATRE: Playhouse Theatre cut their teeth in the performing arts 7 years ago when they participated in the Fringe Festival in Phuket which was a 10-day musical festival for the performing arts. Starting their theatre with an audience of 80 people, they went on to Chiang Mai, casting talents from all walks of society in Thailand who were interested in the performing arts.

Choreographed by experienced tutors in various disciplines of dance and performance, they soon established a blend of theatrical musicals from Thai and western influences that were unique to their performances. Moving to Bangkok was a big decision and cast, crew, and management worked frantically around the clock to prepare the new venue, stage props, and rehearsals for the fast-approaching opening night (today).

Occupying the former location of Calypso Cabaret (now based at Asiatique along with Joe Lewis puppets) in the Asia Hotel, Bangkok, they will need to distinguish themselves from the former occupants reputation as a cabaret performance. Playhouse Theatre will be a new act in Bangkok but is expected to be a success as with their past performances in Phuket and Chiang Mai. There will be a total of 16 interchangeable stage sets for the whole performance lasting an hour and a half.

– BURMA: The Asian Development Bank says tourism could become Burma’s biggest source of revenue and estimates that foreign visits will soon top one million per year for the first time. The ADB says tourism in Burma is expected to bring US$390 million in revenue this year and provide income for 50,000 people.

– NEWSWEEK DEMISE: Newsweek will stop printing at the end of December, the company announced. The company’s print circulation has dropped 51 percent since 2007. Layoffs will accompany the move.

– PHUKET SHINES: There is no question that Phuket over much of the last 4 years has recovered from global recession. However, what is more noticeable is how resilient it has been in terms of tourism, despite a global financial meltdown and political instability on a national level. This resilience allows Phuket to grow while other tourism areas of the world are suffering.

The global financial crisis generally hit everyone in 2008. However, in that year, Phuket’s tourism was improving only 4 years after the major South Asian tsunami. Ironically, political issues in other parts of Thailand helped drive more tourism to Phuket and away from Bangkok.

Swedes and Russians are popular visitors to Phuket. Both saw increased financial strength due to the currency machinations in Europe, especially since both countries were not directly drawn down by the sinking Euro. This was a good trend since it helped offset the loss of tourists coming from traditional European markets such as England, Germany, and France.

By 2010, tourism and other related segments made up the income of more than two-thirds of the labor on the island. Furthermore, during that year, the sector provided Thailand with an estimated US$3.15 billion in aggregate revenue.

Phuket’s tourism strength continues to be a bright beacon in Thailand. Not only is airline traffic to the island up almost 30 percent versus 2011, tourism numbers this year are also set to shine.

This boom in foreign tourism business increased as linkages by low-cost airlines expanded. A number of airlines provide regular, direct flights to Phuket, further connecting more regions for quick getaways as well as being connection points from further destinations. The proof is in the numbers: arrivals jumped 1.74 million additional passengers into Phuket in 2012. Further, international arrivals jumped by half over 2011.

– SIN WINS: Singapore won awards for being Asia’s top city attraction and the best meetings and conference destination at what is touted as the tourism industry’s Oscars. The Republic lost out in both these categories last year to Kuala Lumpur and Bangkok respectively at the World Travel Awards.

– CONVENTION CENTRE AXED: The revelation that the Thai Cabinet cancelled the Phuket Convention and Exhibition Centre at its meeting on October 2 comes on a day when plans were announced for Pattaya to gain a 10 billion baht private ”superpark.”

Phuket has lived in hope of obtaining the conference and exhibition centre for 2 decades. Now it is going to Chiang Mai.

In Singapore, where a Phuket team is selling Phuket to neighboring countries at ITB Asia, Bhuritt Maswongsa, Vice President of the Phuket Tourism Association, said the axing of the 2.6 billion baht project was ”another sign that this government really doesn’t care.”

In Parliament in Bangkok yesterday, Phuket Democrat Opposition MPs Anchalee Thepabutr and Rewat Areerob accused the government of breaking its promises and misleading the people of Phuket.

– THAI TOPS MEDICAL TOURISM: A new research report on “Asia Medical Tourism Analysis and Forecast to 2015” reviews the current status and explores the future outlook for medical tourism in Asia. During the current global economic slowdown when other industry’s future seems bleak, medical tourism’s future seems bright. Asia was one of the first regions in the world to promote medical tourism, and has created a brand name for itself for having affordable and high-quality healthcare. Asia medical tourist arrivals are expected to reach 10 million by 2015 and is expected to double by 2015 from 2011 levels.

The top 3 countries – Thailand, India, and Singapore – are expected to control more than 80 percent of the market share by 2015.

Thailand is the leader in medical tourist arrivals holding more than 40 percent in 2011. Its medical tourism market is also expected to double by 2015.

– HIGH AND DRY: Seventeen-year-old Yoshioka Ryusei of Japan was sentenced by an Indonesian court to spend 6 months in prison after being arrested with a small amount of marijuana in Bali.

– PATTAYA: SET-listed property developer, Nusasiri Plc, plans to develop a new grandiose project featuring a housing estate, condominium, ocean park, and plaza at a cost of 10 billion baht in South Pattaya. Chief Executive Visanu Thepcharoen said the group is preparing to buy about 300 rai for The Grand Kingdom.