Roundup of Thailand news with AJW

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BKK Weather 32C; Hot, cloudy, rain; Euro:US 1.2564, Euro:Baht 39.20, SET Index: 1236



BKK Weather 32C; Hot, cloudy, rain; Euro:US 1.2564, Euro:Baht 39.20, SET Index: 1236


Heavy rain predicted throughout country, as government set to test Bangkok canals. Amlo says southern school misused charity to fund bombings.


China warns visiting Hillary not to get involved in China Sea spats. China-India war games to resume. Rebels bomb Syria army headquarters, 100,000 flee.


– APPLE: In New York, the S&P 500 rebounded as Apple extended gains, with the world’s most-valuable company closing the session up 1.5 percent at US$674.97. The company sent out invitations to a September 12 product event in San Francisco, where it is expected to introduce a redesigned iPhone. The invitations “12” casts a shadow… 15 (iPhone5?).

US stocks trimmed loses as speculation grew that European leaders will take new steps to tame the debt crisis. Spanish and Italian notes jumped on bets the European Central Bank will buy the debt.

US markets were closed Monday for the Labor Day holiday.

– PHUKET: The new Director of the TAT’s Phuket Office, Chanchai Doungjit, said flights coming to Phuket are full this year, even in the “green” season.
Last year, more than half of the 4 million international tourists who came to Phuket were stamped in by Phuket Immigration directly, an indicator that Phuket itself (as opposed to Thailand) is an increasingly popular destination.

“The rate of growth is very positive, rising 28 percent from last year,” said Mr. Chanchai. “Though the number of European tourists has fallen between 3 and 5 percent this year due to the impact of the Euro crisis, the Asian market is going up, replacing the missing European tourists.”

Their numbers have been far outstripped by the new markets. In the first half, 142,582 tourists arrived from China and 140,297 from Russia. In third place was Australia with 121,916, followed by South Korea with 102,021, and Sweden in fifth place with 80,427.

According to TAT’s statistics, the biggest growth markets were China and Russia, which both more than doubled. China increased 107 percent and Russia 105 percent, followed by South Korea (30), Malaysia (25), and Sweden (25).

– UK VAT INCLUDED: Several prominent hotel chains in the United Kingdom are scrambling to resolve an alleged breach of regulations for not including VAT in initial prices shown for some properties online.

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) code states that VAT, or the value-added tax, must be displayed if purchasers are required to pay it.

A subsequent survey by “Which? Travel” magazine found that the following 11 hotel chains in the UK did not include VAT in the total price until the payment page in the booking process: Crowne Plaza, Doubletree by Hilton, Guoman, Hilton, Holiday Inn, Malmaison, Marriott, Mercure, Radisson Blu, Sofitel, and Thistle.

The Committee on Advertising Practice, which is administered by the ASA and is responsible for the codes of practice, has started a compliance action, which goes into effect September 17 to force the entire UK hotel industry to adhere to the code.

– MYANMAR E&O: Orient-Express Hotels, owners or part-owners and managers of 45 hotel, cruise, and luxury rail businesses in 22 countries, is to launch a new river cruiser in Myanmar in July 2013.

Currently under construction in Yangon, the 50-guest ship will complement Orient-Express’ two other businesses in Myanmar, namely The Governor’s Residence, which is a 48-key colonial-style hotel in Yangon, and the Road to Mandalay river cruiser, which has been cruising the Ayeyarwady River for 17 years.

The river cruiser will be named “Orcaella” after the dolphins known to inhabit the Ayeyarwady River.

– HK RATES SET TO ROCKET: From September 21, non-permanent residents in 6 Chinese cities – Beijing, Tianjin, Shanghai, Chongqing, Guangzhou, and Shenzhen – will be allowed to apply for visas to Hong Kong under the Individual Visit Scheme (IVS) from their residing cities instead of their hometowns.

With the eased regulations, some 14 million people will qualify for visa applications, while an additional 4 million non-local residents from neighboring Shenzhen will be eligible for multiple-entry visas to Hong Kong.

DMCs say, “Hong Kong is benefiting from China but at the expense of other markets. Hotel rates in Hong Kong are currently unbelievably expensive, and we foresee rates will become even higher in the future.”

– GREEN MILE DEAD: Michael Clarke Duncan, who was nominated for an Academy Award for his role in “The Green Mile,” an adaptation of a Stephen King work, died Monday at age 54. Born in Chicago on December 10, 1957, Duncan moved to Los Angeles to pursue his acting career. The imposing actor, who was 6′ 5″ (1.96 meters), worked as a bodyguard for Will Smith and Jamie Foxx while securing smaller roles.

His breakthrough performance came when he was cast as convict John Coffey in “The Green Mile,” a man wrongly accused of child murder and rape, who has supernatural powers. Tom Hanks co-starred as a prison guard.

– HOTEL BOOKINGS ONLINE: Some 85% of travelers prefer to book last-minute hotel stays via mobile apps and the Internet, according to a Trivago survey of 4,142 people.

In the United Kingdom, 93% of travelers booked via apps and the Internet, the highest of the 8 countries studied. The survey was done during the 2-week period from August 13-27.

– RED BULL: Vorayuth Yoovidhya, 27, known as Boss, was arrested yesterday morning after a black Ferrari ran into a motorcycle at about 5:30 am on Sukhumvit Soi 47.

The son of Chalerm Yoovidhya, a top executive of the world-famous Red Bull empire, has confessed to a hit-and-run charge, following a road accident that killed a police officer on Sukhumvit Road early yesterday, police say.

The motorcycle’s rider, Pol. Snr. Sgt. Maj. Wichian Klanprasert, 48, of Thong Lor police station, was killed. His body was dragged by the 32 million baht Ferrari 200 meters down the road. He reportedly suffered a broken neck and multiple broken bones.

Vorayuth admitted hitting the policeman, but told investigators that the officer had come out of nowhere and cut in front of him, making it impossible for him to take evasive action, police said.

Vorayuth is the third son of Mr. Chalerm who is the son of the late Chaleo Yoovidhya, the founder of the world-renowned energy drink Red Bull, or Krating Daeng in Thai, and was one of the nation’s richest men.

– AUSTRALIAN tourism has suffered a setback following the rise in the overseas departure tax, while growth in international travel by Australians has also slowed.
The number of international visitors fell by more than 1 percent compared to the same month last year, according to latest Overseas Arrivals and Departures figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

The growth in international travel by Australians also slowed to under 1 percent, compared to an annual rate of more than 7 percent.

The passenger movement charge rose from US$47 to US$55 in July after changes announced by the government in the May budget.

Arrivals from Australia’s biggest source market, New Zealand, fell by more than 4 percent.

Tourists from Thailand fell nearly 20 percent, Korea dropped almost 13 percent, and Malaysia was down more than 3 percent.

– SWISS COSTLY TURNAROUND: A fight between 2 Chinese passengers forced a Swiss plane carrying 200 people from Zurich to Beijing to turn-around after more than 6 hours in the air.

“The two passengers were handed over to the police in Zurich after the Airbus A340 landed Sunday evening,” said a spokesman for the airline.

The plane was just east of Moscow when the pilot decided to turn it around. The pilot had opted to head back to Zurich instead of making an emergency landing in Moscow to avoid administrative difficulties.

Swiss put up the plane’s 200 passengers at a Zurich hotel, before placing them on Beijing flights with other companies, since its own flight to the Chinese capital Monday was already fully booked.

– HAPPY SONGS: In a recent survey of MICE professionals, participants were asked to reveal what they thought was the most optimistic and uplifting song of all time. Their top 6 most uplifting songs (unprompted) were Louis Armstrong’s “What a Wonderful World” in the top slot; followed by “Beautiful Day” by U2; 3 was “Don’t Worry Be Happy” by Bobby McFerrin; 4 – “Amazing Grace” by John Newton; 5 – “Don’t Stop Believing” by Journey; with “Over the Rainbow” by Israel Kamakawiwo’ole coming at 6.

About the author


Editor in chief for eTurboNew is Linda Hohnholz. She is based in the eTN HQ in Honolulu, Hawaii.