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Phuket NEWS Hound

– A daily digest of news from around the world compiled by Gazette editors for Phuket’s international community

PHUKET: A lead story on major travel site CNN Go this morning says that Phuket is set to receive some stiff competition as a number of other destinations are being touted by developers and local governments as the “next-generation” Asian tourist hotspots.

The rivals include Marinduque, Phu Quoc, Hainan and the Ho Tram Strip.

The tear-shaped island of Phu Quoc in southern Vietnman is said to be a particular threat as it is being fashioned as ‘the next Phuket’. The island has everything, reporter Tiffany Lam says: beaches, diving spots and a distinct regional character.

The government is working furiously to flesh out the island’s tourist potential. In 2008, Kien Giang province licensed out 21 infrastructural projects worth US$1.7 billion for the island, mostly for resorts along the coast, the story says.

The island’s Duong To International Airport, worth around US$910 million and with a capacity of three million passengers a year, is set to be completed in 2012.

Phuket tourism: Higher score for Singapore?

The Economist
The Marina Bay Sands casino opened on April 27th, and symbolizes an interesting, and potentially risky, new phase in Singapore’s industrial policy.

The resort aims to give the many business people who visit a reason to stay for the weekend rather than leaving for – say, Phuket – as soon as their work is done.

Thanks to rising Asian wealth, the region’s tourism industry has excellent growth prospects. And Thailand’s recent political demonstrations have damaged Phuket, highlighting the attractions of stable, safe and clean Singapore.

Las Vegas sands CEO Sheldon Adelson has no doubts that Singapore’s new industrial strategy will succeed. Although Marina Bay Sands opened late, and is the costliest casino resort ever built, at $5.7 billion (more than $2 billion over budget), he expects to make his money back within five years.

“Hot shot” for Andara Phuket

Asia Travel Tips

The Andara Phuket Resort & Villas has appointed Ms Pimpatai Techachukiat as Director of Sales & Marketing for resort and villa rentals.

Ms Pimpatai has represented the resort as the Bangkok-based General Sales Agent for the past 6 months and will now relocate to be based “on-property” in Phuket.

With a distinguished career spanning over 20 years in the hospitality industry, Ms Pimpatai has a strong background in sales, marketing and operations.

Highlights include an assignment as Director of Sales at The Mandarin Oriental in Bangkok. She also fulfilled that responsibility at The Peninsula, Bangkok.

Myanmar tries to open up

The Star
Myanmar’s military government will offer visas on arrival to boost the country’s nascent tourism sector, in an attempt to draw on some of the wealth of its tourism mecca neighbor, Thailand.

Tourist visas will be now be available at international airports in Mandalay and Yangon.

The cost of the visa will be $30 and it’s to be valid for 28 days, unlike Thailand where it’s free and grants a 30-day stay.

Total tourist arrivals into Myanmar for fiscal year 2009-2010 were 300,000, compared with 255,288 the previous year.

Those figures are dwarfed by Thailand, which drew 14.1 million tourists last year.

Economic outlook inflated?

Seeking Alpha
Market euphoria in Thailand following the prospect of an end to political turmoil may be exaggerated.

The civil disorder has already shaved 0.5% off GDP, according to the finance ministry, and yesterday Thailand reported 3% headline CPI (year-over-year) for March and a core rate of just 0.5% – both lower than expected.

Although the Thai baht has been fairly stable against the US dollar throughout the demonstrations, (net-net, since March 1, the baht has gained 1.7% against the USD), it has lagged behind most of the other regional currencies.

The best performing currency in the region to date this year has been Malaysia’s, where the ringgit is up 5.4%, followed by the South Korean won, up 3.5%.

— Gazette Editors