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“Best Practices Guidelines”– within the Thailand Property Market A Thai-Swedish Chamber of Commerce Project 2008

In recent years we have seen a large increase of Swedish affiliated property companies commencing real estate developments in Thailand primarily geared towards Swedish buyers. This has grown considerably in size becoming an essential investment and business as well as a significant part of the Thailand-Sweden relationship affecting thousands of people.

The Long Stay / Second Home Market in Thailand is an extension of Tourism and linked to it. The tourists – with positive impressions – become repeat visitors with an increasing number wishing to Long Stay and acquire a Second Home in Thailand bringing significant investments and spending with them as well as generating more Visitors and Tourism.

The Thai-Swedish Chamber of Commerce in Thailand has initiated a Project aimed at adhering to Best Practices within the Thailand property sector geared towards Buyers, Brokers, Investors, Developers of property in Thailand and all other Stakeholders using the Chamber platform and Member Network as the vehicle.
The Best Practices Guide includes:
- Information on Geographical Areas in Thailand
- Legal advice for Second Home buyers
- Financial and Taxation information
- Due Diligence
- Environment Issues
- Building and Construction
- Security and Insurance
- Check Lists

The Guide will be a key instrument and benchmark document ensuring Best Practices and Good Business Conduct are met. It will be positioned towards everyone with an interest in the Thailand Second Home market specifically aimed towards Consumers / Buyers, Brokers, Investors, Developers and other Stakeholders. The Media Launch of the Project and the presentation of the printed Guidelines take place in Bangkok 08 December 2008.

By working together we will ensure a business environment conducive to Best Practices and Good Business Ethics. As stakeholders of the Thailand-Sweden relationship we all share a responsibility for carrying this out in the best possible way.

Phuket International Marine Expo 2008 (Property Report Nov 2008)

The sixth Phuket International Marine Expo (PIMEX) will be held at a new location this year. The four-day event, from 4 to 7 December, will take place at the new Exhibition and Conference Centre at the Royal Phuket Marina. It is held alongside Phuket King´s Cup Regatta, Asia´s largest regatta in terms of boats and participants.

Organised by Andaman Marine Consultants, PIMEX attracts exhibitors from throughout the world to the tropical island.
This year the event has expanded its capacity to accommodate more places on the water, allowing a total of 40 yachts in Phuket’s stunning yacht basin, together with an impressive number of additional boats in the on land display.

Filling 2,500 square metres of air conditioned space, the exhibition hall will be buzzing with regular and first time exhibitors from marine suppliers, yacht brands, the yachting press and the important brokers and dealers within the maritime and yachting industry.
Historically the show attracts over 5,000 visitors every year, cementing Phuket as a lively hub for marine leisure.

"There is every indication that this year’s PIMEX will be the most successful yet, we are all looking forward to the activities programmed for this spectacular show in this fantastic location, which solidifies its position as Thailand’s premier boating and lifestyle event," Andaman Marine Consultants show director Andy Dowden said.

The Sports Authority of Thailand bring the six major regattas in the Kingdom to the exhibition, including the Phuket Kings Cup.

Phuket Carnival dates announced (Phuket Gazette Nov 2008)

PATONG: This year’s Phuket Carnival will take place from December 15 to 20 at Patong Beach, some six weeks after the traditional starting date of November 1.

Phuket Deputy Mayor Chairat Sukban said this year’s events will differ slightly from carnivals in past years, which have featured top rock acts including Modern Dog and even a performance once by the full Bangkok Symphony Orchestra.

Instead, this year’s entertainment will mostly feature displays of traditional Thai culture performed by university students brought in from various regions across the country. These will take place at the main stage at Loma Park as well as at two smaller stages: one near the police box on the beach at the foot of Soi Bangla and the other on the beach near the Holiday Inn resort.

This year’s carnival will be organized into a number of zones. These will include zones for One Tambon One Product (OTOP) sales, arts and culture displays, spa and massage services, and food and beverage services.

Big Buddha gets big bell (Phuket Gazette Oct 2008)

KARON: Work on the the enormous Buddha image in the Nakkerd Hills is now about 90% complete and a huge bronze bell was installed at the site to mark King Chulalongkorn Memorial Day on Thursday.

The one-million baht bell, which weighs one metric ton, was a gift from the Rassada Cooperative Credit Union.
Work on the image, officially known as Phra Puttamingmongkol Akenakkiri, is now about 90% complete, according to the Mingmongkol Faith 45 committee that has funded the project though fund raising efforts.

Vice Governor Worapot Ratthasima attended the Buddhist ceremony at which gold leaf was applied to the bell and it was struck for the first time on Chulalakorn Day.
The entire Mingmongkol Buddha project, to include a landscaped park and museum, is expected to be complete by 2010, at a total cost in excess of 150 million baht.

Once completed, the 45-meter-high Buddha image is expected to become Phuket’s most popular man-made tourist attraction. There has also been talk of installing a cable car from Patong to the site, which sits atop a 380-meter hilltop.

Jetsetters flock to Phuket

Property Report April 2007

Over the course of the last year, Property Report Thailand has reported on the endless number of high-end projects going on up on the island, as well as the burgeoning marine industry.

At the same time, many questioned whether the island truly had the services and facilities to cater to the world’s high rollers.

We’ve now dug up proof that yes, indeed, they are coming. Statistics from the Phuket International Airport state that over the course of 2006, 840 private jets arrived on the island. The top month for arrivals was December, when 115 private jets touched down.

And, while many of those were undoubtedly visiting the island for tourism purposes, it’s safe to assume the island’s growing portfolio of luxury property developments is also attracting the wealthy. Although it might be a coincidence, it is worth noting the Phuket Provincial Land Department reported the highest number of land registrations in December of 2006 – 659 – worth a total of Bt653 million. October, meanwhile, experienced the lowest number of private jet arrivals (10) and the lowest number of land registrations (258).

Among the most notable and pricey developments attracting attention are Jumeirah Barama Bay Private Island Resort, which features 30 lavishly appointed Residences and 19 Estates, a five-bedroom villa in the development is listed at a cool Bt120 million.

Trisara, meanwhile, features 33 individual pool villas plus 12 privately-owned residential villas. Prices for a three-bedroom villa here are listed at Bt209 million.

And then of course there’s the Amanpuri, Phuket’s first truly luxurious property, which opened in 1988. This development comprises 40 pavilions and 30 Thai villa homes interspersed throughout a coconut grove. Villas here are rarely offered for re-sale, however rents go as high as US$7,800 a night.

Meanwhile, another sign has emerged to signal that Phuket is becoming a jetsetter’s playground: Ferrari and Maserati are rumoured to be opening a fully-serviced outlet in Phuket City.

The changing face of Thai resort property

According to Bank of Thailand statistics, tourism contributed 9% to the country’s GDP in 2005 and international tourist arrivals reached 13.4 million in 2006. Historically, tourists stayed in hotel accommodation, but following a global trend there is growing demand for villas and condominiums - particularly for long-stay tourists. There is also a growing demand from tourists to own their own resort properties in Thailand.

“Resort property development is an extension of the tourist industry and is an important element in attracting high income short and long-term stay tourists,” says David Simister, chairman of CB Richard Ellis Thailand.

Spain is a good example of a country that has leveraged its popularity as a tourist destination to become the most favoured location for second homes in Europe.  Spain attracted 56 million tourists in 2005.

The UK Government’s Survey of English Housing reports that 231,000 British households own property overseas with 27% of this number owning a property in Spain. Ownership of a second home is also popular in many other countries in Northern Europe and Scandinavia with Spain being the most popular country to purchase an overseas property.

But costs in Europe are increasing both for property and general living expenses while at the same time the quality of living is increasing in Thailand.

Everyone can fly long haul, flying has become more and more affordable and distance is no longer a barrier. The emergence of low cost carriers within Asia has grown dramatically and it is feasible to fly from Hong Kong or Singapore to Phuket for the weekend.  It is also feasible for someone to live in Europe and fly to Thailand several times a year to use their holiday home.

Although individuals had constructed holiday homes in Phuket for a number of years, the first significant development targeting foreign purchasers was the Allamanda condominium launched in Bang Tao Bay Phuket in 1991.  The majority of purchasers were based in Hong Kong and Singapore.

The financial crash in 1997 halted development in resorts but activity resumed in 2000 and has been growing rapidly ever since.

Simister believes that there are significant benefits to local economies from second home developments. Owners and people who rent properties stay longer and visit more frequently.  They are significant users of services including retailers, maintenance companies and other locally based businesses. Local authorities benefit from property tax charged on rentals.

Meanwhile, ownership of property reduces volatility in visitor arrivals as there is an incentive for owners to use their own property rather than choose an alternative destination.

But Simister says there are challenges in the growth of resort property development - especially protecting the environment so that a destination remains attractive without restrictions that are so onerous that development is not feasible.

In terms of the Thai resort property market, there are obstacles in the way of its growth, including tight restrictions on foreign ownership and a prohibition on lending to foreign property purchasers.
Currently, under Thai Law foreigners are allowed to buy up to 49% in area terms of a condominium.
Foreigners are not allowed to own land and the maximum length of lease is 30 years, although developers can offer options to renew extending the lease term to 90 years.

In many resort areas there is not enough local demand for high-end resort condominium units and so developers are unable to sell the 51% Thai quota of the building. The main option open to the developers is to offer 30 year leases, plus options to renew, on the Thai quota condominium units.

Thirty year leases are not as attractive as freehold titles or longer term leases, says CBRE. They are relatively illiquid because of their short length and so there is a limited secondary market in resales.
Currently foreign condominium purchasers are prohibited from borrowing money locally to purchase a condominium as the foreign ownership regulations state that all funds used to purchase a condominium must come from overseas as foreign currency.

In the past many other countries in Asia were equally restrictive but now other countries are opening up their property markets and although Thailand has had a head start and has a natural advantage in attracting overseas property buyers this position will be eroded as other countries offer more attractive packages.

Malaysia has limited regulations on foreign ownership of property. Foreign ownership is regulated by the Foreign Investment Committee (FIC).  Any acquisition of property by a foreign interest requires the approval of the FIC however this is a formality and rarely is approval withheld. The only restriction is that the property should be valued at more than 150,000 Malaysian Ringgit (the equivalent to Bt1.5 million).  Foreigners are allowed to borrow locally to fund property purchases.
Malaysia is also promoting a special programme under “Malaysia My Second Home.”  The Malaysian government grants a 10 year visa to citizens of all countries providing they open a fixed deposit at a Malaysian bank in the amount 300,000 Malaysian Ringgit (about Bt3 million) and the right to buy up to two houses priced at more than 150,000 Malaysian Ringgit each (Bt1.5 million baht).

Vietnam offers overseas buyers 50 year leases and China offers foreigners a maximum leasehold period of 70 years for land intended for residential use. 

In Singapore there is no restriction on foreigners owning freehold condominiums but the only freehold landed property that is available for foreigners is on Sentosa Island. 

CBRE says this is why the Thai government needs to change its stance, or it risks losing its advantage over other regional markets.

“Thai government policy has been to focus growth in tourism on quality not just quantity with the objective of increasing the amount spent by individual tourists and extending the length of stay,” says the company. “The sale of resort property to tourists will achieve both those goals. Resort property sales will be a key catalyst in upgrading the type of long stay tourist from back packer to billionaire.”

Thais across the country gather to pray for King

Thais across the country attended multi-faith ceremonies yesterday to celebrate the 80th anniversary of His Majesty the King's birthday. The government-sponsored ceremony began on April 17 with the participation of people of all religions.

HRH Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn presided over religious rites at the Temple of the Emerald Buddha where 81 senior monks chanted prayers for the monarch. The ceremony was attended by Prime Minister Surayud Chulanont, cabinet members and senior government officials. Thousands of people gathered at Sanam Luang at 5pm to join 801 Buddhist monks in prayer to bless His Majesty as the highlight of the six-day ceremony, which ends today.

Preecha Kantiya, director-general of the Religious Department, said 5pm was an auspicious time for people nationwide to pray together for the King.

In Yala, Muslims and Buddhists had joined together in their religious rites to express their love and loyalty to His Majesty.

Buddhists offered alms to monks while Muslims prayed for Allah's blessing for the King.

Similar religious rites were held in other provinces across the country. Provincial governors presided over the rites in the provinces.

Meanwhile, His Holiness the Supreme Patriarch yesterday donated gold, totalling 30 baht in weight, to a fund set up by Phra Dharma Visuthimongkol or Luangta Maha Bua, the abbot of Wat Pa Ban Tad.

The Isan monk's fund goes to the country's gold reserve.

Luangta Maha Bua was among the senior monks and well-wishers who made a visit to the Supreme Patriarch at Chulalongkorn Hospital in an event to commemorate the 18th anniversary of his appointment as Sangha head.

Dragonair relaunched its direct daily Hong Kong-Phuket service

Dragonair relaunched its direct daily Hong Kong-Phuket service in December, with CEO Kenny Tang saying, “We are excited about returning to Phuket, a destination that we first flew to in December 1986. We are confident that the route will be popular, not only among tourists from Hong Kong and the China Mainland, but also with long-haul travelers.”

Mr Tang added, “Phuket is the first destination to be added to our network since we joined the Cathay Pacific family. And with it being marketed worldwide it will help to enhance Hong Kong’s status as an international aviation hub.”

Dragonair flights depart Phuket at 6:05 pm Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, arriving in Hong Kong 10:35 pm local time, and at 12:20 pm Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays, arriving in Hong Kong 4:45 pm local time.

In the opposite direction, Dragonair flights depart Hong Kong at 2:40 pm Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, arriving in Phuket 5:05 pm, and at 8:50 am Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays, arriving in Phuket 11:10 am.

The service uses Airbus 320 aircraft, configured with eight Business class and 150 Economy class seats.

For more information visit www.dragonair.com

 

Grand opening of Home2Thailand Main office in Surin Beach, Phuket, Thailand, New Year 2007.

We are glad to open the doors of our newly decorated office and are looking forward assisting all our clients in best possible way.
Visit the office of Home2Thailand, conveniently located at beautiful Surin Beach, opposite The Plaza, Phuket.
The office will be open Monday to Saturday between 09:00-18:00.

Address:
8/44 Moo 3 Cherng Talay
Thalang, Phuket 83110
Thailand
+66 (0) 85060 0033
+66 (0) 85063 0033

 

Jury still out on foreign ownership changes

By Daniel Ten Kate (Property Report)

Foreign-owned property developers are still waiting for more information on the governments plans to halt the longstanding use of nominee companies to bypass foreign ownership restrictions.

The cabinet on Tuesday approved "in principle" to change the definition of a foreign-owned company to include voting rights or shareholdings. For decades, companies had simply been defined by shareholdings, and many foreigners subsequently set up nominally Thai owned companies in which they controlled the voting rights to sidestep the law.

Finance Minister Pridiyathorn Devakula said Tuesday that companies on "List 1" and "List 2" of the foreign business act would have one year to sell down shareholdings to below 50%, and would get two years to reduce voting rights to below 50%. "List 3" companies would be exempt, as long as they promptly applied for an Alien Business License.

It’s still unclear whether property companies would fall under "List 1" or "List 2" of the Foreign Business Act, which includes sectors vital to national security, culture or other "special" sectors, or "List 3," which includes sectors in which Thais are supposedly not competitive. Both "List 1" and "List 2" prohibit foreigners from owning companies that buy or sell land, while "List 3" includes construction and services, such as leasing.

Legal experts, speaking on condition of anonymity because details remain hazy, said that if property developers are considered to operate in construction or leasing, then they should be fine.

"If it’s true that developers are on List 3, then that could be a good thing," said a legal expert in Bangkok.

If property firms are considered to be in the business of "trading land," then they would need to immediately sell down holdings or restructure voting rights to comply with the law. But that could pose logistical problems for the government, as thousands of companies could be affected.

"It’s really too early to say," said an executive at a firm that deals in property on Koh Samui. "We’re talking about hundreds, thousands of companies that need to be restructured. And they not only need to be restructured, but it must be approved by lawyers and by government officials. We know they don’t have the manpower to do that."

Many property executives are still hoping that the final law, which has yet to be approved by a government legal body or passed by the military-installed legislature, will be watered down so that companies can simply apply for a license and return to business. If the worst case scenario hits, then the property sector will likely become the greatest victim in the government’s quest to punish deposed premier Thaksin Shinawatra for his family’s sale of Shin Corp to Singapore-run Temasek Holdings last January.

"This all stems from the governments efforts to shake down Temasek," the Koh Samui executive said. "It’s like they’re trying to put out a fire with a gasoline truck."

 

Southern Phuket goes upmarket

By Lis Kinswoman (Property Report)

The recent history of property development in Phuket immediately shows a dichotomy in its north-south divide. In the past the south lingered way behind its more developed northern sister and when western-financed property development began in the south it was in the smaller, residential field rather than aimed at the more lucrative tourist or retirement market.

No longer. These days, major hotel and residence investors are about to, or have already, started construction throughout the south of Phuket. Gated communities are springing up in what were previously back roads and a major road-widening project from Tesco Lotus outside Phuket City to Rawai has radically changed the local residents’ way of life. A new pier is being erected in Rawai and Chalong’s waterfront alone hosts two major projects.

Yet house and property hunters tell of northern realtors scoffing at the idea of quality property available in the island’s south, while southern developers state the exact opposite. So what’s going on? Several of the island’s realtors, property dealers and land owners talked to Thailand Property Report about the situation.

Coral Tree Properties recently opened Rawai Villas, an 18-rai gated community over viewing the south of the island with vistas to nearby islands. Managing Director Bob Windsor says, “We’ve got 18 to 22 villas so it’s very generous in terms of plots in a gated community. Our site is on a slope from 24 meters to two meters above sea level. The second row of four-bedroom villas have views through the trees to the sea, on Rawai Beach and down at the lower villas, which are two-bedroom, three bedroom villas and we’ve created our own mini lake.”

Is this a typical south Phuket development? “No, we were looking from north to south about three-and-a-half years ago and we took about nine-months-to-a year to look around the (present) site. We looked up north by the airport but we’ve always had a soft spot for this part of the island. I felt, as a buyer, that the north part of the island gave investment opportunities but it wasn’t too much of a place where I wanted to live. There were times when people were saying that the north and central parts of the island were better at serving the needs of golfers and that it suited the Hong Kong and Chinese set more who don’t want to drive more than 15 minutes from the airport. But recently, the road-widening projects from Lotus-Central down to Rawai have meant that you can get anywhere in a short amount of time. Nowadays you can get from here to the airport in 40 minutes.”

Hayo von Keller is Managing Director of The Mangosteen Resort and Spa – a five-star complex with a lofty 360 degree view of lower south Phuket. He plans to build pool villas to augment his investment. He says, “From my point of view, the property development scene in south Phuket looks pretty good because what seems to be coming is all relatively high quality; The Four Seasons, the Puravana and others. I’m quite happy to sit right in the middle of all this, with all these good names around. And this area is different from, for example, the Laguna area – so different people come. I also believe that these high-end newcomers will do very strong destination marketing for the area. I hope very much that this place retains its personality as sometimes one gets the impression that certain areas in the north could be anywhere in the world and not necessarily in Thailand. It’s different here as the hotels are not attached together and I believe that here the hotels try to retain their own style.”
And what of the Mangosteen Villas themselves? “We plan 39 pool villas; nine are already sold and we will start to build a show house next month. It will all be adjacent to the hotel. I believe that as soon as we build the first house, interest will be great. The pool villas have a mountain view and will be built along Bali-esque lines.

As for Chalong and its environs, Kan Eng 1, long a Chalong landmark restaurant, has been razed and a top-end bungalow and restaurant project is presently under construction on its site. Meanwhile, 800 metres to the north, the seriously dilapidated Fishing Lodge has been stripped to its architectural bones and is to be converted into luxury apartments featuring a restaurant and spa. Dredging of the Chalong Marina is heavily anticipated and with the combination of that and the 800-metre pier, convenience will be the byword amongst boat owners and dive operators.

Another example of higher-end developments is Mom Tri’s Villas Grand Cru which crests Kata Hill with a sweeping view of Chalong Bay and the nearby islands. The recently constructed project offers 17, 550 sqm three-storey residences. Quality is assured as architect, Mom Luang Tri Devakul, has been responsible for many of the island’s more impressive – yet extremely functional – buildings such at the Club Med, Le Meridien, Trisara Resort and of course, Mom Tri’s Boathouse Wine & Grill.

There are, of course, teething problems but these are nationwide concerns. “Red” Wayne Graham of East-West Property points out that freehold laws need to be sorted out as soon as possible and that the present visa rules make it very difficult for people under 50 years old to settle comfortably into island life. These are sentiments echoed by Peter Notley, International Sales and Marketing Manager of Katamanda. Under Peter’s aegis, Serenity Terraces – a beachfront resort and spa – will comprise 55 duplex apartments, four beach loft apartments and four beach duplex apartments facing east into Chalong Bay and will offer residents the use of an 89-foot luxury yacht. Construction starts in January 2007 and is anticipated to be complete within 18 months.

Peter says, “The diving and yachting industries continue to grow and with Chalong Marina I believe that growth is not going to stop. Overall I’m bullish about the whole place and even if the worst of worst happens – for example the troubles in the south overflowing – I believe that it would be a temporary situation. After all, Phuket is a finite place – there’s only so much room that you can build on it.”

 

Most companies not affected by amended foreign business laws

The Nation

Finance Minister Pridiyathorn Devakula said Wednesday that most foreign companies will not be affected by draft legal amendments of foreign business laws. The amendment expected to force some owners in the telecommunications and other sectors to sell down majority holdings and give up majority voting rights.

The minister said the law will apply mainly to service industries, while most foreign companies in the country are in export and industrial sectors. He said there could possibly be minor revisions to the draft, but that the principles of the law couldn't be sacrificed and the loophole of using voting rights to maintain majority control in sensitive sectors would be closed.

"Some minor adjustments are possible in implementation, but if they ask for us to call off the voting rights rules, we can't do that. It is because it's the main principle which they have used to avoid Thai laws all along," he said. He added that we have to talk reasonably. "We are an independent country. We have our own laws and we want businesses to respect our laws."

 

FOREIGN BUSINESS ACT, Nominees will be forbidden

By Petchanet Pratruangkrai (The Nation)

Planned amendments give more teeth to laws that restrict business holdings; executives warn of investment backlash
Foreign companies, which have been using Thai nominees to circumvent ownership laws, will be forced to reduce their stakes and their voting rights within specified time limits when the amended Foreign Business Act becomes law.
After deliberating for almost five hours yesterday, the Cabinet approved a draft amendment to the Foreign Business Act designed to create a level playing field and transparency among foreign companies doing business in Thailand.

The amendment aims to end the legal contention over allegations that Temasek Hold-ings of Singapore had relied on nominees to get around the Thai ownership law to take over Shin Corp.
The amendments require foreign business owners to reduce their voting rights to below 50 per cent within one year.

For shareholdings, if they own a stake in their own name that exceeds the limit, they have two years to reduce it. If the exceeded limit is held in the name of a Thai nominee, they have one year to reduce it.

Commerce Minister Krirk-krai Jirapaet said the new law would set a clearer definition on foreign corporate entities.
"The law is designed to create more transparency in the system. It should improve the investment atmosphere," he told a news conference.
Under the amendments, "foreign companies" are defined as those whose shareholding stakes or voting rights exceed 50 per cent.

This law mainly affects foreign companies in the service industry. Most foreign
manufacturing companies are exempt, including companies that fall under Board of Investment mandated waivers.
The Foreign Business Law covers three lists of business sectors - deemed critical to national security - subject to the degree of protection. The most protective category is Annex 1, followed by Annex 2 and Annex 3.

Industries listed in Annex 1 include rice farming, forestry, agriculture and protected professions such as hairdressing. Annex 2 comprises national security-related sectors such as telecommunications, handicrafts, media, weaponry, ammunition, military equipment, the culture-related sector, environment, transportation, marine and air transport, domestic aviation, antique sales, salt farming and mining.

Companies operating in industries listed in Annex 3 of the law will be exempt from the rule. Annex 3 includes rice milling, fisheries, forestry, accountancy services, the service business, legal service business, agriculture, engineering, and retail.
However, the retail law will soon be subject to a retail business law to be introduced in the near future.
At present, there are around 8,800 companies under Annex 1 and 2, while another 30,000 companies operate under Annex 3.

According to the draft amendments, companies, which operate under Annex 1 and 2 and which violate the foreign business law, will be required to revise their shareholding structure and voting rights below 50 per cent within a maximum of two years.

For foreign companies, which have used nominees to circumvent the ownership law, they must report their true status to the Commerce Ministry and will be given one year to comply with the law by reducing their stake to less than 50 per cent.In total, the new law will govern almost 40,000 multinational companies operating in Thailand at the moment. The Joint Foreign Chambers of Commerce on Monday warned the government to suspend the amendment saying members might withdraw their investments if the new law becomes more restrictive.

"Companies in List 1 and 2, which include large companies, will be affected. The net effect is something that we can't really gauge and we don't know what it is [at the moment]. However, the immediate effect is that it changes the playing rules, and that reduces the confidence of investors," said Peter Van Haren, chairman of the joint foreign chambers.
However, the new law would not affect the legal process in the Kularb Kaew case. Krirk-krai said Kularb Kaew, suspected to hold Shin Corp's shares on behalf of Temasek Holdings, would be subject to the old law.

The Commerce Ministry is still firm on its recommendation to the police that evidence leads the ministry to believe that Kularb Kaew might be a nominee for Temasek of Singapore.

Sources said Cabinet members intensely debated the merits of the law. According to the source, Interior Minister Aree Wongsearaya voiced concern that the new law might provide amnesty to Kularb Kaew. Information and Communications Technology Minister Sitthichai Pookaiyaudom also questioned the implication of the law on the Shin Corp deal.

Foreign Minister Nitya Pibulsonggram asked for Cabinet's comments on how he should explain the new law to foreigners. Eventually, Prime Minister Surayud Chulanont assigned Krirk-krai to explain the issue to avoid confusion.

Surayud also tried to ward off investors' concerns, saying the decision was right and the government would be able to explain it.

He said the changes would not take effect for "some time", as a panel of legal experts needs to review the changes and the government would try to reassure nervous investors.
"We think that it needs to be worked out in detail for the law to be more transparent, and to make investors more confident," Surayud said.

But that failed to console the stock market, which tumbled 2.69 per cent, with the Stock Exchange of Thailand (SET) composite index losing 17.07 points to close at 616.75.

Krirk-krai said he could not say when the law would be enacted as the draft would have to receive the blessing of the Council of State. He expected that it might take three to four months.

Krirk-krai said the amendment would promote good governance and transparency. Foreigners wishing to hold more than 50 per cent in businesses under Annex 2 and 3 could apply for approval on a case by case basis.

The old law imposes a maximum three-year jail sentence and Bt100,000 to B1 million in fines. But the new law would increase the fine from Bt500,000 to Bt5 million.
Director general of the Business Development Department, Kanissorn Navanugraha, said the law should be clearer and the investment atmosphere should be transparent. The department would develop the system of checking company structures and would randomly check to see who was violating the law.

Asked if foreign investors would pull out, Krirk-krai said: "It's their right to invest, but I believe that quality foreign investors will understand this issue."

 

2006 tsunami remembrance in Patong

by Ekkarat Thamchanta

On 26 December 2006, the local Tourism Authority of Thailand office (TAT) will collaborate with Phuket Provincial Administration Organization (PPAO) and Patong Municipality to stage a tsunami remembrance ceremony at Loma Park, at the north end of Patong Beach.

Suwalai Pinpradab of TAT said that the ceremony will have two parts. The first part will be a Thai ceremony which will include merit-making and blessings performed by nine Buddhist monks. This will be held in the morning. Dr Suvit Yodmani, the Minister of Tourism and Sport, will come to Phuket to officiate over the second part of the ceremony in the evening, which will feature a candle lighting ceremony. The Sports and tourism minister will also open a photography exhibition about the tsunami and a fountain with music show at Jungceylon.

“The candle lighting ceremony will be a little different this year,” Anchalee Vanich Thepabutr, PPAO president, said. The candle pits will spell out the words ‘Live Up Phuket’ along the beach for 800 metres. I will coordinate with the hotels and schools that are interested in running a 100-200-metre section each.

K Anchalee also said that there will be performances of HM the King’s compostions by the orchestras of Phuket Wittayalai, Satree Phuket and Kathu Wittaya schools.

Announced program for the events.

9:30 am Visitors and guests assemble at Loma Park, Patong Beach.

9:45 am Address by Patong Mayor Pian Keesin.

9:50 am Tsunami Day memorial service, a merit-making ceremony for guests to remember and honor those who lost their lives in the tsunami.

10 am Merit-making and blessing ritual performed by nine Buddhist monks.

10:20 am Participants make merit-making offerings to the monks.

10:30 am Buddhist monks offer blessings.

6 pm Welcome Ceremony, visitors and guests assemble at Loma Park, Patong Beach.

6:10 pm Arrival of Minister of Tourism and Sports Dr Suvit Yodmani. Welcome address by Phuket Provincial Administration Organization (OrBorJor) President Anchalee Vanich-Thepabutr.

6:15 pm Address by Dr Suvit Yodmani.

6:20 pm Performance by the Baan Sam Thong School choir.

6:30 pm Wreath laying and candle lighting ceremony. Dr Suvit Yodmani, Mayor Pian and OrBorJor President Anchalee lead guests in a remembrance ceremony. Flowers and floral wreaths will be laid, candles will be lit and traditional khom loy hot air floating lanterns will be released in memory of the deceased.

 

Blue Canyon to host Johnnie Walker Classic

PHUKET (The Nation): The US$2.4-million Johnnie Walker Classic will return to Phuket in March, silencing rumors it could be moved to other countries due to the government’s attempt to ban alcohol advertising and sponsorship.

Organizers Riche Monde, distributor of the beverage, insisted on keeping the tournament at Phuket’s Blue Canyon Country Club from March 1 to 4.

“Our company has the firm intention to organize and promote the golf tournament. There will be no problem if we have to refrain from advertising,” said Riche Monde President Vorathep Rangchaikul.

Earlier this year, the company considered relocating the event to another Asian nation if it were not allowed to use its logo and the brand name for the tournament.

The government’s proposed legislation to ban liquor advertising and sponsorship has been indefinitely postponed as the Ministry of Health failed to introduce it in the National Legislative Assembly. The indications are that it might take longer than the term of the current government.

Tri-sanctioned by the European, Asian and Australian Tours, the 16th Johnnie Walker Classic will be staged in Thailand for the sixth time since the tournament started in 1990.

World No 1 Tiger Woods is a two-time champion – in 1998 at the Blue Canyon Club and 2000 at the Thai Country Club. Spanish veteran Miguel Jimenez won the event when it was last held in Thailand in 2004.

This year three top 10 marquee names – Adam Scott of Australia, and Retief Goosen and Ernie Els of South Africa – have confirmed their participation.

Goosen, who last won the tournament in Perth in 2002, will return to Blue Canyon, where he shared the Tiger Skins title with Thomas Bjorn in 2005.

“I won this tournament before. I’ve heard the course will be tough and I look forward to coming back to Phuket again,” said Goosen, ranked No 6 on the PGA Tour.

Another big name to feature in Thailand’s most expensive golf tournament is British Ryder Cup star Paul Casey.

 

Do it right: be polite

Thailand's Ministry of Culture will distribute a handbook on Thai manners and 10 'Do's and Don'ts' in Thailand to foreign tourists to enable the visitors to understand and avoid doing things considered taboo in the kingdom, according to Minister of Culture Khunying Khaisri Sri-arun.

TNA reports that Khunying Khaisri said the handbook is designed to create more understanding among foreign tourists regarding Thai etiquette and actions that may not appropriate among the Thai public.

The Fine Arts Department and the Culture Monitoring Centre frequently receives complaints of inappropriate behaviour by foreigners, such as placing Buddha image heads at in proper places.

"Some foreigners use the Buddha images as hat racks, some put them at the foot of their beds and some use them as a decoration in the product sales display cases," she said.

The minister said the handbook would be issued in eight languages including English, Chinese, Japanese and Arabic, and would be given to foreign embassies in Thailand for distribution.

The manual would also available at hotels, Suvarnabhumi Airport and on board Thai Airways International aircraft.

 

Phuket King's Cup Regatta 2- 9 Dec 2006.

The Phuket King's Cup Regatta is Asia's biggest and most popular regatta. More than a regatta, the week long event consists of great parties, great sailing and lots of fun.
The Phuket King's Cup Regatta is Asia's biggest and most popular regatta. More than a regatta, the week long event consists of great parties, great sailing and lots of fun.

Inaugurated in 1987 to celebrate the 60th birthday of His Majesty the King of Thailand, the event has been held every year since during the first week of December.

With the Royal Patronage of His Majesty the King, the Regatta is organized by the Phuket King's Cup Regatta Organizing Committee under the auspices of the Royal Varuna Yacht Club, in conjunction with the Yacht Racing Association of Thailand, the Royal Thai Navy and the Province of Phuket.

Royal Diamond Jubilee
Twenty years ago Thailand celebrated the fifth cycle of His Majesty the King’s birthday with many memorable celebrations, including the grand Royal Barge Procession on the Chao Phraya River in Bangkok.

This month is another special time for Thailand and its people as they celebrate the 60th anniversary of His Majesty the King’s accession to the throne. Other monarchs and royalty from around the world are in the Kingdom this month to celebrate and honor His Majesty King Bhumiphol’s Diamond Jubilee.

Throughout this year the people of Thailand are paying homage to their beloved King, who has given tremendous support to the development of the country and its people both socially, economically and at times by mediating and offering advice in many varying political circumstances. When His Majesty the King turned 60 in 1987, many celebrations were held. Among those who gathered to celebrate the occasion were a number of sailors and seamen, who came together to organize a yacht race to commemorate and celebrate the auspicious occasion. The organizers decided that a sailing race was a very good and appropriate way to celebrate the 60th birthday of His Majesty the King, himself a very good and competitive sailor. The first Phuket King’s Cup Regatta was held that year under Royal Patronage. His Majesty the King is an expert sailor and represented Thailand at the fourth South East Asia Peninsular Games – which are now known as the SEA Games – in December, 1967, and won a gold medal in the OK Dinghy Class. The Thai Monarch sailed OK Dinghy No. TH 27 and his daughter, Princess Ubolratana, sailed OK Dinghy No. TH 18 and they finished equal first at the Games.

This year is also the 20th anniversary of the Phuket King’s Cup Regatta, the sailing race that was started in 1987 in His Majesty’s honor. Once again the organizers will be joining the nation in celebrating His Majesty’s Diamond Jubilee, as well as celebrating his 80th birthday on December 5, 2006. During the Phuket King’s Cup Regatta every year a candle-lit ceremony is held on His Majesty’s birthday, and this year promises to be bigger and better for a number of reasons – His Majesty’s Diamond Jubilee, his 80th birthday and the 20th anniversary of the Phuket King’s Cup Regatta.

The annual Phuket King’s Cup Regatta has grown from a small, mostly locally-contested regatta in 1987 to Asia’s premier yachting event and a world-class outing for some of the world’s leading sailors. This year sailors and yachts from all over the world will take to the beautiful waters of the Andaman Sea off Phuket, including one of the first competitive teams from the Chinese mainland, China Team. Most of the yachts which contested the regatta last year have signed up again for this year, with many racing-class yachts from Hong Kong, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore and Australia lining up. Some new race courses are being studied, several party venues have been inspected and negotiations are continuing with some international media organizations to make this year a special one as Thailand celebrates the Diamond Jubilee of His Majesty the King as well as his 80th birthday and the 20th year of Asia’s premier sailing event, the Phuket King’s Cup Regatta.

For more information, visit www.kingscup.com

 

Jumeirah selected to manage Barama Bay island, Phuket, Thailand

Jumeirah Group, the Dubai-based luxury international hospitality group and member of Dubai Holding, has been appointed by TGR Group–Asia to manage the five star private island resort currently under development in Ao Po Bay, Phuket, Thailand.

Scheduled for completion in late 2008, the Jumeirah Phuket Private Island Resort will feature 65 lavishly appointed deluxe pool villas each with private infinity pool and Jacuzzi, 12 three-bedroom luxury residential villas, four restaurants and bars as well as extensive leisure, spa and fitness facilities including a large free form swimming pool and a 400 meter private, white sandy beach. In addition, the resort will offer a marina, a private yacht club, a tennis court, several boutiques, a business centre and a library with dedicated reading room.

Jumeirah Phuket Private Island Resort will be situated on the shores of Koh Raet; an untouched tropical island located just 500 meters offshore from Ao Po Bay, north east of Phuket Island in Thailand, providing easy access for guests to the main tourist areas of Phuket Island. The resort can be reached by a four minute private motor yacht ride or island ferry from the access point on the mainland which is located just fifteen minutes from Phuket International Airport.

Set on 56.000 m2 of private land, Jumeirah Phuket Private Island Resort will be an exclusive, luxurious island resort offering spectacular views of the limestone karsts of Phang Nga Bay to the north, views of the beaches of Ao Po Bay to the west and kilometers of white sandy beaches with views of both Naka Yai and Naka Noi.

This news follows Jumeirah recent announcement of its intention to accelerate its portfolio growth, and closely follows the Group’s entry into the Southeast Asian market with the planned opening of Hantang Jumeirah Shanghai in July 2008 and the announcement of several senior management appointments, including the set up of Jumeirah regional operations in the Asia Pacific region.

Partner and Managing Director for TGR Group – Asia, Mr. Dilokpol Sundaravej, commented: "It is with great pleasure that we appoint Jumeirah Group and we feel this partnership will provide our clients with a unique and exclusive luxury experience unparalleled by any other in the region."

Gerald Lawless, Chief Executive Officer of Jumeirah Group commented: "We are very pleased to have been appointed by TGR Group – Asia to manage what promises to be one of the most exclusive private island resorts in the Asia Pacific region." He added: "The essence of Jumeirah can be expressed in two words – ´Stay Different´ – and we believe that this exciting new resort development represents a unique opportunity to create one of the world’s exclusive and most individual hospitality experiences."

 

Phuket International Boat show, PIMEX 7-10 December 2006.

60 BOATS & RECORD INTERNATIONAL VISITORS

The fourth Phuket International Boat show PIMEX 2006 have the number of boats on display and advance registrations from international visitors are both at an all-time high, according to the organizers.
“Advance registrations traditionally make up only a small part of the total visitor numbers,” said Grenville Fordham, managing director of PIMEX organizers, Image Asia Events. “But they are a strong indication of the visitor trend,” he continued, adding that there was also an unprecedented number of advance registrations from Bangkok, following on from October’s successful PIMEX Preview in Bangkok’s business district.

Visitors already registered for Thailand’s only international boat show, which will be held from 7-10 December at Phuket Boat Lagoon Marina, are coming from Australia, Germany, Hong Kong, India, Malaysia, Maldives, Nigeria, Singapore, Slovenia, Sweden, Taiwan, Thailand, UK and USA.

“Surprisingly, we’ve been disappointed in previous years with number of visitors from here on Phuket itself, so this year we’ve mounted an intensive local publicity campaign targeting the property, expatriate and tourism sectors. Nobody on the island can be unaware of PIMEX 2006,” said Fordham.

PIMEX 2006 will have more boats on display – the current count is 60 boats – both in the water and on the hardstand, than any other regional show is able to achieve. They range from fast rigid inflatable boats priced at around US$10,000, through small trailer-boats at US$30-50,000, all the way to prestigious luxury motor yachts that can go for US$1 million upwards – and everything imaginable in between.

More than 100 international boating brands, mostly represented by local and national distributors targeting Phuket’s booming marine leisure sector, mean the range of choice is hard to imagine. For anyone in South East Asia who is thinking about a boat purchase, PIMEX 2006 is a must-visit and an opportunity for some superb bargains.

Whether it’s a power boat or sail boat, Phuket’s boat show has something for every price range and taste, not to mention some great deals limited to four days of the show, such as a Range Rover/trailer boat combination at a very special PIMEX price.

Add to that the opportunity to view island homes and resorts, luxury marina condominiums or to arrange an exotic yacht charter anywhere in Thailand, and PIMEX makes a great way to spend a day… or more.

As one visitor said last year, “The show was great… my two boys had a whale of a time, and I did some shopping too! Unexpectedly, I found several things of interest [to my resort], so I mixed some business with a great deal of pleasure.”

Entry to PIMEX is free of charge, and there are many opportunities, both within the show itself and around the Boat Lagoon Marina, to take a break waterside for lunch or a drink and soak up the cosmopolitan atmosphere of Thailand’s only international boat show.
For more information, visit www.phuketboatshow.com.

 

Tsunami early-warning buoys to deploy from Phuket

PHUKET CITY: Thailand’s tsunami early-warning system will take a big step forward this month, when a high-tech monitoring buoy able to directly detect tsunami waves will be deployed about 1,100 kilometers off the Andaman Coast, near the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.

The announcement came during a meeting on disaster preparedness in the six tsunami-affected provinces held at the Royal Phuket City Hotel 15 Nov 2006.

The buoy, the first of its kind in the Andaman Sea, will be linked via satellite to the existing network of some 80 tsunami warning towers already built in the six tsunami-hit provinces. It is expected to provide valuable lead time in warning coastal residents of an approaching tsunami.

It will use US-made Deep Sea Tsunami Detection Equipment-2 (DART-2) technologies. Similar technology has long been used as part of the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Pacific Tsunami Warning Center.

The buoy is the first of two to be provided by the US government as part of its two-year, US$16.6-million contribution of equipment and expertise. They will eventually form part of a network of buoys forming part of an Indian Ocean tsunami early-warning system by NOAA.

Currently, the warning towers can be activated only following orders from NDWC headquarters in Nonthaburi. Researchers there must first obtain seismic data from earthquake activity in the region, and then make an educated guess about the likelihood of a tsunami.

The last time the NDWC issued a tsunami warning was on March 28, 2005, following an 8.3-magnitude earthquake in Sumatra. The warning, which caused panic in Patong and other parts of Phuket, turned out to be a false alarm.

Dr Smith Thammasaroj, Director of National Disaster Warning Center, said that the buoy will be donated by the US Government, but added that the Thai government must pay an estimated 36 million baht in maintenance costs over the buoy’s two-year life span.

Once the buoy is operational, he said, it will be handed over to the Meteorological Department because the NDWC faces staff and funding shortages following the change in national government.

He criticized the government for suspending the NDWC’s 300-million-baht plan to install 144 remaining disaster-warning towers in 57 provinces in the North, Northeast and Central region.

Smith had earlier vowed to quit his post if the self-appointed Council for National Security continues to ignore the nationwide warning tower project.

The NDWC would be able to maintain the buoy only if its status were changed to that of an independent public agency, he added.

The DART-2 buoy will be launched from a research vessel that will leave the Phuket Marine Biological Center pier at Cape Panwa on November 28.

 

HOME2THAILAND EXCLUSIVELY LAUNCH “WEST SANDS” IN SCANDINAVIA AT THE “BUYING PROPERTY ABROAD” FAIR ON SAT 30TH SEPT – SUN 1ST OCT, AT THE GLOBENS ANNEX, STOCKHOLM. BOOTH NUMBER 108 – SECOND FLOOR.

Fair is open 10.30-17.00, free entrance.
Home2Thailand is proud to present “West Sands”, an exclusive residential project with 500m. pristine beachfront on the west coast of Phuket island. West Sands offers a superb residential environment and quite unmatched elsewhere on the island, in both living and environment.

Located just north of the airport, West Sands is set in 40-acres and with its own unspoilt pristine 500-metre beachfront, West Sands has 350 prestige quality residences designed as luxury Beachfront & Seaview villas, Lakeside villas and Apartment residences, varying in size from one to four bedrooms. The architectural style is contemporary and elegantly designed with modern convenience, emphasizing natural light and spaciousness, All villas and apartments have been carefully sited to maximize views of the ocean and Phuket’s dramatic hinterland.
Half of the area has been dedicated to tropical landscape, enhancing the superb natural setting with waterfalls, lakes and pools. There’s even an organic vegetable garden where residents can grow their own fresh produce.

The development has been made as environmentally friendly as possible. Solar energy, superior insulation, biodegradable refuse plants, hydrothermic air conditioning and hot water systems… all have been carefully planned for the least ecological impact, at the same time maximizing a quality lifestyle.

With one of the finest locations on Phuket, West Sands is a natural choice for securing a luxurious tropical lifestyle and a sound investment for the future.

Complementing the luxury of the individual homes is a full range of leisure facilities that complete a privileged lifestyle and enhance a relaxed sense of community.
Visit West Sands website..

 

ALL SET FOR THAILAND’S SPECTACULAR ROYAL BARGE PROCESSION

Millions of people worldwide will soon bear witness to one of Thailand’s most spectacular cultural events — the magnificent Royal Barge Procession, the highlight of the many Royal events celebrating the 60th anniversary of His Majesty King Bhumibol’s accession to the throne.
Although all the 1,200 tickets have been sold out for viewing the main event on June 12, 2006, many tickets are still available for the three rehearsals on June 2, 6 and 9 at the two best riverside spots organized by the Tourism Authority of Thailand — the lawns of the Bank of Thailand and the Riverside III cruise.

For those who miss the opportunity to view the spectacular procession live, around 1,200 overseas and local media have signed up with the Public Relations Department to join this special event. They will be providing extensive coverage via their travel channels and documentaries. TAT has also invited 80 overseas media from Malaysia, Vietnam, Hong Kong, Germany, Italy, Russia, Sweden and USA to view the Royal Barge Procession rehearsals.

TAT is still inviting visitors to enjoy the Royal Barge Procession rehearsals, tickets can be booked at Tel: 0 2250 5500 ext. 2116-7 for the two locations:
1. Bank of Thailand riverside lawn:
This is the only good place to clearly view the starting point of the procession in natural light. Refreshments will be served. Entrance fee is 1,000 baht.
• As parking space will not be available, it is best to take public transport to the venue.
• The Royal barge will start its formation for the procession at 16.30 hrs when the lead boat will be at the King Rama 8 Bridge. Spectators are suggested to arrive well before the official time in order to clear the security check and be seated before the procession starts.

2. Riverside III Cruise:
For the rehearsals on June 2, 6 and 9, 2006, visitors onboard the cruise ship will dock alongside the Chao Phraya River to enjoy the light and sound show of the procession. Cocktails and drinks will be served. Ticket price is 3,000 baht.

Recommendation for viewers:
• Boarding will be at the Riverside Cruise point at Niwet Woradit Pier (near the Royal Thai Navy Club) between 15.00-16.00 hrs. The route of the procession will be closed to all water-borne traffic. The cruise boats to view the procession have to leave the pier at 16.15 hrs sharp in order to dock at the Royal Thai Navy Institute. There will be no way to reach the cruise boat after its departure and late-comers will not get a refund.
• As parking space will not available at the Niwet Woradit Pier, it is best to take public transport there.
For more details, please check out www.60thcelebrations.com/en and www.tatnews.org

 

‘MOUNTAINS OF REMEMBRANCE’
WINNER OF THE TSUNAMI MEMORIAL DESIGN COMPETITION STAGE II

The International Jury of the Stage II Tsunami Memorial Design Competition met in Bangkok from 13-16 May 2006.

Following careful consideration of the submissions by the five finalists, members of the jury unanimously awarded the commission for the Memorial to Proposal C — Mountains of Remembrance by the Spanish-based team Ana Somoza + Juana Canet = DISC-O ARCHITECTURE, Eva Sebastián Peñín, Angel Martínez Rodríguez, Laura Somoza Jiménez, Raquel Lozano Gutiérrez Juan Antonio Díaz Moreno, David González Calle, Jose Antonio Somoza Arribas, Miguel Jaenicke Fontao, Sara Fernández López, Beatriz San Salvador Picó, Constantino Hurtado Mingo, Tectum Ingenieros and NagaConcepts (Thailand) Co., Ltd.

The proposed Tsunami Memorial is being created through a two-stage international design competition. Although the object of this open competition is to welcome conceptual ideas from professional architects and other artists from around the world, the Memorial will address in some form the following objectives:

• An appropriate memorial to the victims of the tragedy
• A place of contemplation that will encourage visitors and tourists to visit and to remember and learn about the disaster
• An appropriate exhibit or museum space that will stimulate understanding of the tsunami and the natural phenomena involved
• A structured space to be used as a learning centre for students and other members of the public

Competitors were encouraged to present unique but constructible designs that recognize the above goals. The goal of the two-stage competition was to gather and develop ideas and concepts with the objective of building an appropriate and interactive Memorial.
Stage I, the conceptual design aspect of the Tsunami Memorial Design Competition, was open to professional architects, designers, artists and laypersons. A jury consisting of prominent design professional from Thailand and other countries selected finalists, who were then invited to further develop their concepts in conjunction with architects licensed to practice in Thailand in Stage II of the competition. A second jury reviewed these designs and recommended the best design for submission to the Government of Thailand in May 2006.
Read more at TAT news sites

 

THAILAND RANKS 8th IN TOP OVERALL COUNTRY BRANDS

Thailand is ranked eighth among ‘Top Overall Country Brands’ in the first Country Brands Index Award. Italy was ranked first, followed by Australia, USA, and France. Thailand is one of the two countries in Asia ranked in the top ten; the other being the Maldives.
The FutureBrand Company, a famous global brand consultant in the United States, held this award for the first time in 2005. There are 10 other award categories in addition to ‘Top Overall Country Brands’. These are Art and Culture, Beach, Business, Conventions, Families, History, Improved, Nightlife, Outdoor and Rising Star.

Thailand is listed in the top 10 in five categories, namely:
• 4th in the Best Country Brand for Nightlife
• 5th in the Rising Star Country Brands
• 7th in the Best Country Brand for Beach
• 8th in the Most Improved Country Brands
• 9th in the Best Country Brand for Families

The awards aim at giving credit to the creativity of a country in building its own brand. This process not only needs good planning but also strong marketing efforts and times to achieve its goal.
FutureBrand has developed a unique three-tiered evaluation system for ranking country brands. It incorporates traditional quantitative market research with global expert opinions and statistics gathered from trade organizations, government agencies, travel industry organizations, and secondary sources.
For more information on the Country Brand Index, please visit www.futurebrand.com

 

CROWNE PLAZA SOLD TO SAUDI COMPANY (KHI)

In a surprise move, Kingdom Hotel Investments (KHI), the Saudi Arabia-based hotel and resort investment company, signed a contract in May to acquire the Crowne Plaza Resort in Karon Beach, Phuket, from LaSalle Investment Management for USD98.5 million including USD 30.5 million in debt.
This is KHI´s first acquisition in Asia, who will re-brand the hotel as a Movenpick.

The Resort opened in 1984 as the Karon Villa Resort and was bought by LaSalle Investment Management in December 2003, who then closed it for a two-year refurbishment before re-opening in August 2005, complete with 30 holiday apartments for sale to private investors. LaSalle has sold 16 apartments in the last year.
 
“We are delighted by the addition of the hotel in Phuket to our portfolio,” Sarmad Zok, Chief Executive Officer of KHI. “It represents continued global diversification into the world´s emerging markets. This existing hotel is the first of many investment opportunities for KHI in Asia since the opening of KHI´s Asian offices in Singapore earlier this year.”
 
KHI has said it plans for the new Movenpick include raising additional debt and completing the sale of the 30 apartments within a period of two years.  The company has moved swiftly to allay the concerns of existing buyers regarding honouring of contracts and has offered 100 percent refunds to any to any unhappy with the re-branding. At the time of going to press, one out of the 16 owners had taken up the refund option.
 
“At this stage it’s basically wound up in re-writing legal contracts,” Michael Cowan, Director of asset management company C9 Hotelworks said. “It’s a legal delay, but we don’t foresee any major issues at this point. We’re very supportive of the buyers because we represent the ownership, we represent the buyers and we also represent the local agents."

 

20TH PHUKET KING’S CUP REGATTA 2-9 December 2006

This event should not be missed. The Phuket King's Cup Regatta was inaugurated in 1987 to celebrate the 60th birthday of His Majesty the King on December 5th. It has been held in early December every year since then. The King's Cup Regatta is held under the Royal Patronage of His Majesty the King, and organized by the Phuket King's Cup Regatta Organizers Committee and the auspices of the Royal Varuna Yacht Club, in conjunction with the Yacht Racing Association of Thailand, the Royal Thai Navy and the Province of Phuket.
Read more on www.kingscup.com

The week long event, which attracts yachts from around the world, consists of great parties, great sailing and lots of fun. It is Asia’s biggest and most popular regatta. It also attracts participants and media from all over the world. COME AND JOIN US AT THIS GREAT EVENT!

 

16 Early Warning Systems and 31 Beach Life-Guard Towers has been being built in Phuket.

10 Oct 2005
Phuket, in cooperation with ICT (Information Communication Technology) Ministry and Phuket Provincial Administration Organization, has been constructing 16 early warning systems around Phuket Island in order to prepare Phuket residents and all visitors, and make them feel safe and comfortable when traveling to Phuket.

The construction of three early warning systems, installed on the deck of Sunset Beach Resort Hotel ( Kalim Village) and Patong Sea View Hotel, and at the Patong Tourist Center have been completed. The SIRCOM Company, Germany and KOCKKUM SONIC Company, Sweden donated the early warning systems to the Patong area and this is the first installation in Thailand. The remaining 13 early warning systems, which include six large and seven small systems, are in the process of construction.

Management of Early Warning System:

Broadcasting
The early warning system consists of sirens and 127-decibel amplifiers. The large systems have 24 amplifiers and a 1.5-kilometer hearing range and the small systems have 12 amplifiers and a 1-kilometer hearing range. The warning message will be delivered in 5 languages; Thai, English, German, Chinese and Japanese.

Controlling
The Phuket early warning systems are controlled by the National Disaster Warning Center (located at Rattanathibet Road , Nonthaburi Province) are fed data from the Inmarsat Satellite. If there is an emergency disaster preparation is requited, Patong Municipality can use a special Leaser Line, linked with Patong Disaster Prevention and Mitigation, where officials are on 24 hour standby.

Power Supply System
Each of the early warning system has its own power supply which won’t cause problems if there is any disruption to town power supplies.

The 13 early warning systems will be installed at the following places:
- Rawai Beach, Rawai Sub-district, Muang, Phuket
- Loan Island, Rawai Sub-district, Muang, Phuket
- Chalong Bay, Chalong Sub-district, Muang, Phuket
- Took Khae Cape, Rassade Sub-districti, Muang, Phuket
- Kata Beach, Karon Sub-district, Muang, Phuket
- Karon Beach, Karon Sub-district, Muang, Phuket
- Kamala Beach, Kamala Sub-district, Talang, Phuket
- Nai Yang Beach, Saakuu Sub-district, Talang, Phuket
- Mai Khao Beach , Talang, Phuket
- Bang Tao-Lae Pang Beach, Cherngtalay Sub-district, Talang, Phuket
- Panwa Cape, Vichit Sub-district, Muang, Phuket
- Sapan Hin Cape, Talad Yai Sub-district, Muang, Phuket
- Por Bay , Pa Klok Sub-district, Talang, Phuket

In addition the Phuket Provincial Administration Organization has co-ordinated with Bangkok Phuket Hospital in constructing 12 beach life-guard towers. The government also assigned the Special Land Development Organization to build 19 more beach life-guard towers and two models of them have already been constructed at Kamala Beach. The remaining towers are in the process of being constructed. These beach life-guard towers are constructed in order to ensure safe swimming areas in Phuket.

Bangkok Bank Launches mortgages for foreigners

Bangkok Bank has broken ranks with the Thai banking establishment to become the first Thai bank to offer mortgages targeted firmly at foreigners wanting to buy property in Thailand.

The mortgages are fairly limited in scope – they can be applied only to condos; the buyer must come up with the first 50% of the purchase price; and the mortgage term is only 10 years – but they are being hailed as a breakthrough by property developers and real estate agents.

The loans, recently launched, are available through Bangkok Bank’s branches in Singapore and Hong Kong, and will normally be denominated in US, Hong Kong or Singapore dollars. Other curr encies may be considered – but not baht.

In Hong Kong, where branch General Manager Phaithul Tejasakulsin said the bank has made “one or two” loans, the amount that can be borrowed ranges from HK$1 million to HK$5 million (approximately 5 million to 25 million baht). Loans are made only to Hong Kong residents.

In Singapore the range is from S$100,000 to S$1 million (about 2.5 million to 25 million baht) The loans currently carry annual interest of around 7.5%.

In addition there are fees attached. In Hong Kong, for example, a processing fee of around 125,000 baht is payable when the borrower accepts the bank’s letter of offer. About 50,000 baht of this is refunded when the loan is drawn down. In addition, at the start, 1.5% of the loan amount must be handed over to the bank as a “prepayment fee”.

The Head of the Thai Desk at Bangkok Bank in Singapore, Yaovaluk Suksathit, said that the bank there had made more than 20 loa ns. The Singapore branch has been pushing the service more aggressively than Hong Kong.

For example, in Hong Kong mortgages are available only for buying freehold condominiums, whereas in Singapore loans will be considered for other types of property, including homes on leased land, said K. Yaovaluk.

“It all depends on the structure,” she explained. “We have done some.” The average mortgage to foreigners granted so far by Bangkok Bank in Singapore has been about US$200,000 (8 million baht), she told the Gazette.

The mortgages may be available later through other Bangkok Bank branches, said K. Phaithul – the London office, for example. “I think [the bank] will probably look at it,” he said. Hong Kong, Singapore and Britain are regarded as the three major markets for Phuket home buyers.
Read more in the Phuket Gazette paper



Real Estate Property Properties Apartments Villas and Land in Phuket Thailand

* Phuket offers activities such as golf, scuba diving, deep-sea fishing, sailing, sea canoeing and lots more.

* Its hospitality has never failed to impress visitors from all walks of life.

* In addition, accommodations ranging from world-class resorts to tropical-style bungalows have warmly catered to the different needs of visitors.

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