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Wednesday, 22 November 2006

Latest News from Koh Samui

So while we wait for the government to decide how they are going to move the issue of foreign ownership forward what else is happening on Koh Samui?

Well I suppose the big controversy over the last month has been the increase in airfares between Bangkok and Koh Samui imposed by Bangkok Airways. This amounted to a nearly 20% increase on what is already the most expensive internal flight in Thailand. The Thai locals in particular to exception to this, not entirely because of what they would have to pay, but because they saw that it would affect tourists making a choice of destination and who would choose to fly to cheaper destinations such as Phuket or Chang Mai. The protest was so vociferous that eventually Bangkok Airways had to back down and drop the increase.

One of the main problems on Koh Samui is that as many as 80,000 people live on the island unregistered. A large number of these people came to Samui as tourists and ended up working. The last census in 2000 put Samui’s population at only 39,369. But Samui’s actual population is much more than that. Each year hundreds of Thais and foreigners visit Samui and then find jobs without registering with the authorities. The result is a further strain on the island’s resources. The island’s annual allocation from the national government is based on a population reflected on the census. The problem is the unregistered population on the island is twice the census’s figures. In effect, the island isn’t getting the right budget for the actual number of people living on the island.
The true population is very important for local officials to correctly calculate the budget for the island. The true population helps them to plan appropriately for development of the basic infrastructures such as electricity and water supply. This also has had a negative effect on the island’s application for City status as the registered population is not high enough. City status would allow Koh Samui to retain a significant proportion of the tax revenues in generates but which at the present time end up in Surat Thani.

Some good news for Golfers now: A new course is being constructed in Bophut hills. Its designer is Piraporn Namatra, reputedly the best golf course designer in Thailand. It will be a championship nine-hole golf course and only the best equipment will be used. A limited number of memberships will be available and members can play without a limit. A club house is being built for the players to have relaxing place after a tough game. The restaurant will serve both Thai and international cuisines. Bophut Hills Golf Club (as it will be called) is expected to open in December, before Christmas.

The other good news is that Koh Samui will receive double the supply of electricity from 72 megawatts (MW) to 147 MW in December according to the Provincial Electric Authority (PEA). This comes after the completion of the third power cable to supply electricity to the island. Due to Samui’s rapid growth in tourism and the property sector, the demand for electricity also increased tremendously. At the end of this year, demand is pegged at 72 MW and will increase by 10% each year. The expansion will aid the deficiency of supply of the combined capacity of power lines from the mainland. The new power cable is hoped to meet electricity demand on Samui for the next seven years. An Italian-Thai Development company and Nexans Norway AS consortium won the contract in 2005 to lead the project and install the third power line from the Khanom power station in Nakhon Si Thammarat to Samui. The project costs Bt899 million.
The new 27-kilometer undersea transmission line is three months ahead of schedule and will be complete by early December. The cable has already been installed underground and the marine segment is 80 percent done. Also designed to strengthen Samui’s communication system, the new power cable is expected to break even within 15 years. PEA also considers a fourth power line or building a gas-fired power plant on the island

1 comment: said...

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