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Thailand storm: Latest travel update as Tropical Storm Pabuk hits poplar tourist resorts | Travel News | Travel

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Thailand will be hit by Storm Pabuk today. It is set to become the first tropical storm outside of monsoon season since 1989. Some have forecasted it to be the worst storm in a generation and flights have been cancelled in and out of Thailand. The storm is predicted to batter Thailand’s southern beach resort during peak tourist season. The UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office have now updated their travel advice to the area.

Thai authorities have halted all ferry services in the tourist hubs of Koh Samui, Koh Phangan and Koh Tao.

Tourist hotspots overlooking the Andaman Sea, such as Phuket and Krabi, have been warned to expect heavy rain as Pabuk approaches the island and beach resorts in the storm’s path have been evacuated.

The FCO have said: “Tropical Storm Pabuk is expected to hit the southern coast of Thailand on 4 January 2019.

“This will have an impact on boat sailings and flights in affected areas, which may include Surat Thani (Koh Samui, Koh Pha Ngan and Koh Tao), Chumporn, Nakhon Si Thammarat, Phuket, Krabi, Trang, Ranong, Phang Nga, Satun and Song Khla, as well as Pattani, Yala, and Narathiwat.

“You should follow instructions from local authorities and monitor weather warnings from the Thai Meteorological Department.”

Bangkok Airways

Bangkok Airways has announced is it cancelling all to and from Samui airport on citing passengers’ safety.

“Passengers who have been affected by the flight cancellations on 4th January 2019 may rebook their flights without fees and charges,” Samui Airport has said.

Thai Airways

Thai Airways has announced they are monitoring the situation and advise passengers to check the flight schedule.

They said in a statement they will make a public announcement “as soon as there is any impact on flight schedule of Bangkok – Krabi and Bangkok – Phuket routes.”

“#ThaiAirways advises passengers to check flight schedule of Bangkok – Krabi and Bangkok – Phuket routes due to possible impact from #tropicalstormPabuk,” the airline tweeted.

What weather will Storm Pabuk bring?

Forecasters do not expect Pabuk to evolve into a full-blown typhoon but they expect winds to hit 64mph as it reaches the island.

Phuwieng Prakammaintara, director general at the Thai Meteorological Department, told reporters: “We expect waves as high as five or seven metres near the eye of the storm. Normally in the Gulf of Thailand there are only two metre high waves.

“It’s difficult to predict the severity of the storm so people should comply with authorities’ recommendations.”

Krikkrai Songthanee, Koh Phangnan district chief, told AFP: “I think the islands are almost empty between 30,000 to 50,000 have left since the New Year’s Eve countdown parties.”

Authorities on the islands are said to be preparing shelters for those tourists and residents who are staying.

Thailand’s Defence Minister Prawit Wongsuwan said the military was on alert to assist people affected.

Chaiyan Thurasakul, mayor of the Koh Tao Subdistrict Municipality, told BBC Thai the island had prepared for possible floods, landslides and strong waves.

He said: “If the storm is severe for two to three days, we may have to ask for help from the mainland for shipment of necessary items.”

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Travel & Escape

Opinion: Are we ready for the tourism rebound?

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Canadians are ready for the borders to be re-opened and will be flocking to sun destinations this winter like never before. The number of people who have said that they are ready to “get out of Dodge” and “fly the coop” is an indication that there is a pent-up demand for travel and excursions that has been bolstered by a two-year sabbatical from vacations of any semblance. 

While Canadians are going to be heading south, we can expect some of our citizens as well as those from other nations to be looking to Canada for their adventure holidays. When the requirements for the two-week quarantines are lifted, we will be seeing a quick rebound of tourism as other countries who have already lifted their restrictions have seen. 

But are we ready?

In 2019, tourism contributed $105 billion to the Canadian economy. Tourists from outside of Canada spent over $16 billion dollars.  Those numbers were down considerably in 2020 and it is only natural that many people in the industry suffered as a result of the effects of the pandemic and lockdown restrictions.

While some folks, fearful of the spread of variants, believe that the borders should never be re-opened, the reality is that to save our tourism industry and the economy, we need tourist traffic from outside of Canada as well as interprovincial travel. As Canadian and foreign tourists start their migration towards our tourist and nature attractions, there is some hesitancy about the readiness of the industry to manage the coming tsunami of people.

Hit harder than many sectors, the tourism industry has been affected by the pandemic in ways that other industries haven’t. The closure of attractions, fairs, tour bus companies, sporting events, concerts and community events with any semblance of a large group has forced workers in this industry to look for jobs elsewhere to survive. As a result of this migration of talent there will be many tourism related businesses that will have difficulty scaling up to meet demand.  According to Statistics Canada, 32 per cent of accommodation and food service companies expect that attracting workers is going to be an obstacle for them this year.

Even if you have some warm bodies to fill your positions, having well-trained staff will remain a problem for many tourism and food service companies. Most business leaders in the industry understand the result of having improperly trained staff working in positions serving the public. The consequences of poor customer service can be long lasting and devastating. Unfortunately, as a result of the constant opening up and shutting down scenarios that have been seen in the economy over the past 18 months, most operators have been reluctant to increase the staffing levels that will be necessary to meet demand. The consequences will be that there will be no other option but to have staff that are not fully trained or optimally equipped to take care of the flood of vacationers.

In order to adjust to the coming demand, tourism-related businesses will need to be prepared to hire and train new employees to promote and deliver their services. This should include systematization of training, hiring and onboarding processes to enable companies to get up to speed quickly when the demand starts.  

While tourism deserves to have their days in the sun and profit from increased business, we need to recognize as Canadians that it takes a country to host visitors and we need to encourage and support those people in the industry who have been hit so hard.

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Travel & Escape

COVID-19: Tourism bookings start increasing as B.C. opens up

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Tourism in B.C. is restarting but don’t expect it to be the same as it was before the COVID-19 pandemic.

While B.C. Ferries is welcoming recreational travellers and relaxing its mask requirement at terminals, face coverings will still be mandatory on board whenever you’re not in your vehicle.

Several Indigenous tourism businesses and locations that were closed to visitors are planning to reopen July 1.

Other tourism businesses are welcoming back visitors but won’t be in a position to handle big volumes because of a lack of staff, said Anthony Everett, president and CEO of Tourism Vancouver Island.

“Everyone needs to travel with a great deal of patience,” Everett said from Nanaimo. “Most businesses are running at a fraction of capacity of what they did prior to COVID.”

Many tourism sector workers have left the industry and found work elsewhere, Everett said. Particularly hard hit are restaurants that can’t find kitchen workers and companies doing tourism-related activities such as kayaking.

He said the benefits of tourism won’t be evenly distributed.

Last year, Victoria struggled all summer long and while bookings for accommodation have increased, some of the city’s restaurants are only open for lunch, others only for dinner.

“This is all going to take time to build up,” Everett said.

“Frankly, I think it will take years. This summer, bookings are going up, that’s what we’re been waiting for. It’s not going to be the exact same experience you were used to prior to the pandemic. I hope people remember and recognize that.”

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Travel & Escape

Mountain biking the Sea to Sky Trail

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With the 700-metre granite dome of the Stawamus Chief as a backdrop, my friend, Ken, and I climbed on our bikes in Squamish and began pedalling north. Our destination was Whistler, an uphill trek of some 80km that we hoped to cover in two days.

It would be easier to ride the opposite way—from Whistler to Squamish—because it’s downhill. But it wouldn’t be the Sea to Sky Trail if we rode that way. Besides, how hard could an elevation gain of more than 600 meters be?

I have driven the Sea to Sky Highway to Whistler many times. It’s arguably one of the best drives in Canada, but when I learned about the Sea to Sky Trail, I knew I needed to experience it on a bike. It’s a slower pace, and largely away from the highway, so it would allow us to appreciate the journey—the valleys, river gorges, lakes, and forests—in a way you can’t in a car.

While the Indigenous peoples of the Coast Salish and Interior Salish have used this corridor as a historic travel and trade route, the idea of a multi-purpose Sea to Sky Trail was first imagined in the early 1990s. But given the geographical and funding challenges, it’s only been in the last decade or so that the vision of the 180km trail from Squamish to D’Arcy, north of Pemberton, has been realized.

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