A cave complex in Thailand where 12 schoolboys and their soccer coach were trapped for over two weeks before getting rescued will be turned into a museum, an official said on Wednesday.
The rescue mission in the flooded Tham Luang Nang Non cave, which ended on late Tuesday, proved to be dangerous and difficult with the death of a Thai rescue diver on Friday.
“This area will become a living museum, to show how the operation unfolded,” the head of rescue mission, Narongsak Osottanakorn said at a press conference. “It will become another major attraction for Thailand.”
Deputy head of national parks Chongklai Woraponsathron said the plan to turn the cave into a “world-class tourist attraction” would need to be approved by the Thailand Department of Natural Resources.
The Tourism Authority of Thailand director Karuna Dechatiwong said the agency would be prepared to work with local officials and the private sector to promote the (in)famous cave further. “The cave has become of interest for both local and foreign travellers.”
The 6-mile limestone cave in the Khun Nam Nang Non Forest Park is understood to be the country’s longest cave.
As the World Cup is approaching close, Thai authorities have ramped up efforts to battle illegal gambling.
Deputy Prime Minister General Prawit Wongsuwan has instructed police to crack down on football gambling and violence during and after the 2018 FIFA World Cup, which runs from June 14 to July 15.
As part of the operation “Pitakpai Dulaeprachachon 61”, police also plan to summon and investigate around 100 celebrities and internet presenters for allegedly promoting illegal football betting websites. Deputy commissioner of the Metropolitan Police Bureau, Phanurat Lakboon said on Tuesday these people may face a maximum imprisonment of one year and/or a maximum fine of 1,000 baht. He cited section 12 of the gambling law, which prohibits all forms of advertising and acts encouraging others to gamble.
The police also announced plan to block about 1,000 gambling websites.
Entertainment venues were also warned that allowing or organising football gambling is a punishable offence, which may result in them being closed down.
Phanurat also said a total of 763 people have been arrested since May 1 for their involvement in football gambling.
On the same day, nine elephants also participated in a football match against local students in Ayutthaya to raise awareness against illegal gambling. “They’re here to bring colour and joy, and create awareness that we can enjoy the World Cup without gambling and just cheer for the soccer players,” said Reangthongbaht Meephan, deputy chief of the Ayutthaya Elephant Palace and Royal Kraal.
The country’s Mental Health Department announced a gambling rehabilitation hotline 1323 and a Facebook page – @GamblingCounseling1323 – to offer counselling services from Thursday onwards, while 19 hospitals will open their doors to give further aid.
A survey by the University of the Thai Chamber of Commerce forecast that World Cup betting in the country this year will reach 59 billion baht.
Airports of Thailand has approved the construction of second airports for Chiang Mai and Phuket to accommodate more tourism arrivals.
The decision came in the same week as the closure of Maya Bay, one of the country’s most popular destinations, due to overtourism.
The second Chiang Mai airport will be located in Lamphun’s Ban Thi district, while the Phuket airport will be developed in Phang Nga’s Ban Khok Kruad district. The two airports, which will serve an extra 10 million visitors, are expected to cost 120 million Baht in total, with construction starting next year and slated completion for 2025.
The decision reflects Thailand’s tourism dilemma. The tourism industry accounted for 9.2 percent of Thailand’s GDP, a number that is expected to increase to 14.3 percent by 2027 by the World Travel & Tourism Council. There were 3.5 million travellers that passed through immigration at the Phuket International Airport, a 19 percent rise from the same period last year.
However, this tourism boom comes at a cost. Maya Bay, which rose to fame after the release of Leonardo Dicaprio flick The Beach in 2000, is closed to tourists for four months starting June 1 due to poor conditions and coral reef damage.
Telegraph Travel expert Lee Cobaj regretted AOT’s decision to build more airports in the busy districts.
“It’s disappointing to see that the Thai government’s response to rampant overtourism is to upgrade the airports at two of Thailand’s busiest entry points rather than focussing on sustainable less-damaging approach to its rapidly-increasing visitor numbers,” Cobaj said.
“Much of Phuket has already been concreted over, with ugly buildings, and little planning or concern for the environment. Without a radical new approach from the military junta, I would expect that long empty golden beaches of Phang Nga and Khao Lak will share the same fate.”
Thailand has been named the second most Muslim-friendly travel destination among non-OIC markets, according to a new report.
The 2018 Mastercard-Crescentrating Global Muslim Travel Index revealed that Thailand placed second among non-Organisation of Islamic Cooperation countries, and 16th among 130 destinations overall, up two spots from the previous year. The improvement could be attributed to the increasing availability of Halal restaurants and promotion of the destination to Muslim travellers.
“Thailand is already ranked second among non-OIC countries as our growing tourism industry taps into this increasingly important market segment,” said Donald Ong, Thailand and Myanmar country manager at Mastercard.
Securing the top spot in the US$220 billion global Muslim travel market is Malaysia, which could attribute its success to excellent ease of access and communications for travellers.
Thailand’s low-cost airline industry has grown rapidly as number of fleet tripled in the last five years.
According to the CAPA Fleet Database, low cost carrier (LCC) fleet in Thailand has more than tripled in size, from just 42 aircrafts in 2013 to 136 by April 2018. LCCs account for 45 per cent of the country’s total commercial aircraft fleet. The aircraft number is expected to reach 150 by the end of 2018.
LCC capacity has also increased more than threefold, from approximately 11 million domestic LCC seats in 2012 to 33 million in 2017.
Thai AirAsia, which was one of the first LCCs to launch in Thailand in 2004, remains as the market leader. Its fleet has doubled in size over the past five years from 28 to 59 aircrafts.
The Thai government is set to adopt new rules to undo the damage from tourism activities on three islands.
Starting in July, the government will ban fishing, fish feeding, anchoring on coral reefs, beach construction and walking on the islands’ seabed, said Jatuporn Burutphat, director of the Department of Marine and Coastal Resources. The islands covered by this ban are Koh Samui, Koh Tao and Koh Pha-ngan.
“The amount of garbage and waste water on these islands is so big that it will become unbearable in the near future, and we have to think about the future,” said Jatuporn.
The Southeast Asian country continues to be a popular holiday destination. The Ministry of Tourism and Sports expects 37.5 million tourists in 2018, up from last year’s 35.3 million.
People violating this rule will face up to one year in prison and a fine of 100,000 baht ($A4154).
The rule follows the smoking and littering ban on 24 beaches introduced in February. Violators could expect to face a criminal court and one year in jail, or a fine of up to 100,000 baht ($3,190), or both.
Summer is the best season for tropical fruit drinks – from mango and coconut to bael and tamarind. Why not take some inspiration from Thai drinks and make your own at home? Here are some of the best Thai summer fruit blend recipes…
Coconut Juice (Nam Maprow On)
This refreshing drink only requires one ingredient: a young coconut. After you’re finished with the drink, pick up a spoon and scoop out the coconut meat inside!
Papaya Drink (Nam Maragor)
Blend fresh or canned papaya with sugar syrup, and serve with crushed ice for maximum coolness.
Bael Fruit Tea (Cha Matoom)
Roast two slices of bael fruit on a grill, and boil them with four cups of water for around two minutes. Serve warm or with ice!
Mango Juice (Nam Ma Muang)
Blend your fresh or frozen mangoes with water and lime juice, and serve cold with crushed ice cubes.
Tamarind Drink (Nam Makham)
To create this, mesh half a cup of fresh tamarinds until they turn into a paste. Heat the paste with three cups of water and some sugar until the sugar dissolves. Chill the tamarind drink in the fridge and serve with lime.