Thailand hits 10m visitors in 2022 as tourism recovers

Thailand hits 10m visitors in 2022 as tourism recovers
Tourists take a commuter ferry on the Chao Praya River in Bangkok on Friday. (AFP)
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Updated 11 December 2022

Thailand hits 10m visitors in 2022 as tourism recovers

Thailand hits 10m visitors in 2022 as tourism recovers

BANGKOK: Thailand celebrated the arrival of its 10 millionth international visitor of 2022 on Saturday, according to the tourism authority, as the kingdom consolidated the recovery of its COVID-battered travel sector.

Thailand welcomed some 40 million people in 2019, but then the pandemic hit and travel was decimated as nations tightened border controls to contain the coronavirus.

With those restrictions easing worldwide Thailand's travel numbers have begun a slow recovery and the government expects to generate nearly $16 billion in tourism revenue this year.

Traditional dancers and drummers at Bangkok's Suvarnabhumi International Airport on Saturday welcomed passengers arriving on a Saudi Arabian Airlines flight that authorities believe clocked the 10-million milestone.

"The sky is open," Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-O-Cha said in a speech at the airport.

"We would like to build confidence that Thailand is still one of the (top) tourist destinations of people around the world."

Finance minister Arkhom Termpittayapaisith said this week that visitor numbers were expected to grow next year too.

Government figures suggest Thailand would welcome roughly 23 million tourists in 2023, while some analysts believe a full recovery in tourist numbers could happen in 2024.

Thai hotel owners and restauranteurs have breathed a sigh of relief as business has slowly picked up.

FASTFACT

Traditional dancers and drummers at Bangkok's Suvarnabhumi International Airport on Saturday welcomed passengers arriving on a Saudi Arabian Airlines flight that authorities believe clocked the 10-million milestone.

Marisa Sukosol, president of the Thai Hotels Association, welcomed the 10 million travelers milestone "after two years and a half of pain.”

"I think next year we will see continuous momentum of growth," she said, pointing to the return of tourists from Russia and across the Asia-Pacific region.

But she cautioned against over-optimism — economic stagnation as well as lingering pandemic threats continue to impact the tourism sector.

While Thailand has benefited from the loosening of travel restrictions by other nations, its tourism industry has also been affected by the global economic slowdown and persistent inflation.

Recovery in the tourism sector is also heavily dependent on China relaxing international travel rules, Thai officials have said.

China was previously the biggest source of foreign tourists for Thailand.


China says warship crossing in front of US destroyer was ‘safe’

China says warship crossing in front of US destroyer was ‘safe’
Updated 13 sec ago

China says warship crossing in front of US destroyer was ‘safe’

China says warship crossing in front of US destroyer was ‘safe’
BEIJING: The maneuver of a Chinese warship in the Taiwan Strait during an encounter with a US destroyer was completely reasonable, legal, professional and “safe,” a spokesperson at China’s foreign ministry said at a press conference on Monday.
The US Navy on Sunday released a video of what it called an “unsafe interaction” in the Taiwan Strait, in which a Chinese warship crossed in front of a US destroyer in the Taiwan Strait on Saturday.

Shootout between Pakistani troops and insurgents in border region kills 2 soldiers, 2 militants

Shootout between Pakistani troops and insurgents in border region kills 2 soldiers, 2 militants
Updated 23 min 40 sec ago

Shootout between Pakistani troops and insurgents in border region kills 2 soldiers, 2 militants

Shootout between Pakistani troops and insurgents in border region kills 2 soldiers, 2 militants
  • The shootout took place late Sunday in North Waziristan, a district in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province

PESHAWAR: Pakistani troops and militants exchanged fire in a northwestern region along the border with Afghanistan in a shootout that killed two soldiers and two militants, the army said Monday.
The shootout took place late Sunday in North Waziristan, a district in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province that is a former stronghold of the Pakistani Taliban, a militant group also known as Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan or TTP.
According to an army statement, two militants were also wounded and troops seized a cache of weapons at the site. A search operation was underway in the area, it said.
Although the Pakistani military claims it has cleared North Waziristan of militants, occasional attacks and shootouts continue, raising concerns that the Pakistani Taliban are regrouping in the area.
Though a separate group, the TTP remains a close ally of the Afghan Taliban, who seizing power in Afghanistan in mid-August 2021, during the last weeks of the withdrawal of US and NATO forces from the country after two decades of war.
The takeover emboldened the TTP. They unilaterally ended a cease-fire agreement with the Pakistani government last November and have since stepped up their attacks in the country.

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Bangladesh power cuts may last two more weeks on fuel shortages

Bangladesh power cuts may last two more weeks on fuel shortages
Updated 05 June 2023

Bangladesh power cuts may last two more weeks on fuel shortages

Bangladesh power cuts may last two more weeks on fuel shortages
  • Bangladesh has suffered under severe power shortages since April as a searing heatwave spiked demand for electricity
  • The power losses threaten Bangladesh’s crucial apparel sector that accounts for more than 80 percent of its exports and supplies retailers

DHAKA: Bangladesh could face power cuts for two more weeks, its power minister said late on Sunday, as higher electricity consumption because of rising temperatures has caused a fuel shortfall for generation plants.
Bangladesh has suffered under severe power shortages since April as a searing heatwave spiked demand for electricity and then a deadly cyclone cut off supplies of natural gas to fuel plants. The country has also curtailed imports of liquefied natural gas (LNG), its main power generation fuel, after record high prices in the second half of 2022 made the fuel too expensive.
“This condition may remain for another two weeks,” Nasrul Hamid, minister of state for power, energy and mineral resources told reporters.
“This problem is happening because we are not able to ensure an adequate supply of coal and gas,” Hamid said.
The power losses threaten Bangladesh’s crucial apparel sector that accounts for more than 80 percent of its exports and supplies retailers such as Walmart, Gap Inc, H&M , VF Corp, Zara and American Eagle Outfitters .
The loss of those exports will exacerbate issues around its dollar reserves, which have plunged by nearly a third in the 12 months to end of April to a seven-year low, and limited its ability to pay for fuel imports.
Hamid said the country’s power sector officials had been working to avert fuel shortfalls over the last two months, but higher consumption was making the task harder.
An impending shutdown of a key coal-fired power unit from Tuesday because of a fuel shortage over the next few days could further worsen the situation, a senior official from the power ministry said.
“Only rain can give us some relief as power demand decreases when it rains,” said the official, who declined to be identified as he is not authorized to speak to the media.
The frequent power cuts have also drawn criticism from opposition parties.”“The entire country is almost without electricity. People are getting sick in extreme heat,” said Ruhul Kabir Rizvi, a senior leader of the main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party


Indian opposition leader Rahul Gandhi calls on US audience to stand up for ‘modern India’

Indian opposition leader Rahul Gandhi calls on US audience to stand up for ‘modern India’
Updated 05 June 2023

Indian opposition leader Rahul Gandhi calls on US audience to stand up for ‘modern India’

Indian opposition leader Rahul Gandhi calls on US audience to stand up for ‘modern India’
  • The Congress Party defeated the BJP in recent state elections in the Himachal Pradesh and Karnataka states, wins that came after a series of state elections defeats after Modi became India’s prime minister in 2014

NEW YORK: Indian opposition leader Rahul Gandhi pressed his criticism of the country’s leadership in a speech Sunday, calling for Indians in the US and back home to stand up for democracy and the Indian constitution.
Gandhi, a sharp critic of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi who was expelled from Parliament, accused Modi and his Bharativa Janata Party (BJP) of dividing the country and failing to focus on important issues such as unemployment and education.
“To be nasty to people, to be arrogant, to be violent, these are not Indian values,” Gandhi, 52, told a crowd of about 700 at the Indian Overseas Congress USA event at the Jacob Javits Center in Manhattan. He spoke just after a minute of silence recognizing a massive train derailment in eastern India that killed 275 people and injured hundreds more.
Gandhi has been on a three-city tour of the United States, including speaking engagements at Stanford University in California and the National Press Club in Washington, D.C.
Meanwhile, US congressional leaders have invited Modi to address a joint meeting of Congress later this month. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and other leaders announced the address as an “opportunity to share your vision for India’s future and speak to the global challenges our countries both face.”
Grandson of former Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi is a member of the Indian National Congress party. He is considered to be Modi’s main challenger in the upcoming 2024 elections.
“Modern India cannot exist without our constitution and our democracy,” he said Sunday. He also urged a stronger partnership between India and the US to offset China’s influence.
“One of the things we have to think about is the bridge between India and the United States,” he said. “How do we compete with the challenge the Chinese have placed on the table,” he asked, specifically citing issues of mobility and the world’s energy supply.
The Congress Party defeated the BJP in recent state elections in the Himachal Pradesh and Karnataka states, wins that came after a series of state elections defeats after Modi became India’s prime minister in 2014. Gandhi now holds no official position in his party. He gave up the post of party president after his severe defeats by Modi’s Hindu nationalist party in 2019 national elections, though his supporters hope the more recent results will impact the country’s 2024 national elections, which are likely to be held before May.
Gandhi suffered a serious setback in March when a court convicted him in a criminal defamation case for mocking Modi’s surname, a decision that led to him being expelled from parliament. He could lose his eligibility to run for a parliamentary seat for the next eight years if an appeals court doesn’t overturn his conviction. The conviction came in connection with a speech he gave in 2019.
Gandhi, who is not related to Mahatma Gandhi, also invoked the assassinated Indian leader’s name several times during his speech, praising his model of non-violence.

 

 


Russia says shoots down Ukraine-launched drones over Crimea, Kursk

Russia says shoots down Ukraine-launched drones over Crimea, Kursk
Updated 05 June 2023

Russia says shoots down Ukraine-launched drones over Crimea, Kursk

Russia says shoots down Ukraine-launched drones over Crimea, Kursk
  • The strikes came after multiple attacks on the Russian border region of Belgorod and oil infrastructure inside the country, as well as a drone strike on wealthy districts of Moscow earlier in the week

MOSCOW: Russia said on Sunday it intercepted nine drones over the Crimean Peninsula and one over the small town of Sudzha in the southern region of Kursk, in what have been nearly daily attacks inside the country or on Moscow-held territories.
Five drones were shot down and four were jammed and did not hit their targets in Dzhankoi in Crimea, said a Russian-installed official in the peninsula that Moscow annexed from Ukraine in 2014.
A Ukrainian-launched drone was downed over Sudzha later in the day, the governor of the Kursk region that borders with Ukraine said on the Telegram messaging app.
Reuters could not independently verify the reports.
The strikes came after multiple attacks on the Russian border region of Belgorod and oil infrastructure inside the country, as well as a drone strike on wealthy districts of Moscow earlier in the week.
Kyiv denied attacking Moscow and Ukraine almost never publicly claims responsibility for attacks elsewhere inside Russia and on Russian-controlled territory in Ukraine.
There were no casualties in the Sunday drone attacks, officials said. In Dzhankoi, windows were broken in several houses, Sergei Aksyonov, the Russian-backed head of Crimea’s administration, said on the Telegram messaging app.
He added that one unexploded drone was found on the territory of a residential house, forcing the temporary evacuation of about 50 people in the area.
Russia has a military air base near Dzhankoi. Ukrainian officials have long said the city and surrounding areas have been turned into Moscow’s largest military base in Crimea.