NEWSLETTER No 159 – DECEMBER 2017

We have all had computer problems I suspect and they always happen at the worst  possible time. That is why this months Newsletter is fashionably late. Essentially I lost all my data, all my email addresses and emails. It has taken me a week to get back what I can and luckily the Newsletter mailing list is kept off site by Mail Chimp. The basic Newsletter was mostly recoverable but not my usual preamble and I am a week behind in my work of maintaining the web site and dealing with inquiries and inspecting new properties etc. So this is not going to be very exciting or informative this month.

Briefly the rainy season is well and truly here, and whilst the roads still flood, there is a distinct improvement with the drainage. This morning I drove from the office to near Bangkok Hospital. Heavy, heavy rain all morning. Fisherman’s Village to the Ring Road was flooding but passable, Town Centre was flooded and bikes were having problems, Big C was impassable except for lorries but you could get through by way of their car park. I came back 90 minutes later and Big C and Town Centre were totally clear and Fisherman’s Village was much lower. Won’t last though! Heavy rain forecast for the next couple of days.

If you want to stay up to date with the weather here are the sites to look at.
Thai Met Office Weather Radar – the one that serves Samui best is Chumphon – http://weather.tmd.go.th/cmpLoop.php

There are two which give a bigger picture with forecast displays as well
https://www.ventusky.com/?p=9.17;100.39;8&l=rain-3h and https://www.windy.com/

Also there are some local Facebook pages which give up to date, on the ground reports of flooding and other traffic matters,
https://www.facebook.com/groups/242809562799180/?ref=group_header – Thunder Road Reporters
and
https://www.facebook.com/groups/599017576877886/?ref=group_header Roads of Koh Samui
Should be clear by the weekend – I hope!

Also in this months Newsletter –
New Listings
Price Reductions
Public Holidays in Thailand in December
Cruise ships visiting Samui in Dcember
Samui Coco Fest
Samui Taxi Drivers demand hike in fares
New pumping station to solve Samui flooding
Thailand hopes to become new stop for luxury cruises

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KSP Newsletter 158 – November 2017

Five years ago I wrote about the risk of a Tsunami hitting Samui and recently for some reason that topic has come up for discussion again, so I have been doing some research to see if anything has changed or there is new evidence or studies to suggest anything different.

There has still been nothing specific to Koh Samui and no new studies relating to the possibility of a tsunami in the Gulf of Thailand. An article in The Nation in December last year stated that “THAILAND is unlikely to be affected by another deadly tsunami any time soon according to an earthquake expert and that included the west coast Andaman Sea area. TRF geology researcher Passakorn Pananont said “Even though scientists still cannot preciously predict an earthquake [happening], which can cause a tsunami, it is very unlikely that the next tsunami will hit our shores soon.”

Paiboon Nuannin, a lecturer at the Department of Physics at Prince of Songkla University and a prominent earthquake expert, said that based on the earthquake record in the Andaman Sea between 2007 to this year, there were 10 earthquakes big enough to create a tsunami. He said a tsunami could only be triggered by a specific type of tectonic plate movement and not all big earthquakes can generate a seismic sea wave. “A big tsunami can only be generated by an earthquake larger than eight magnitude, and in the Andaman Sea, the recurrence interval for such a gigantic earthquake was once every 15 years. And the most recent earthquake on this scale already happened in 2012, so it will take around 10 years to gather the energy for the next big earthquake”

There are three principal causes cited for the promulgation of a tsunami, sub-sea earthquakes, landslides and volcanic eruptions – the former being the most common. Earthquakes are the consequence of the movement of the tectonic plates moving against each other and similar movements in the fault lines which cross them. Major earthquakes commonly occur along the plate boundaries and in SE Asia the ones we are concerned with are the Sunda Trench to the west of Thailand and the Manila/Luzon Trench immediately to the west of the Philippines. Any tsunami generated by an earthquake in the Sunda Trench will not affect Koh Samui due to the land mass in between. All studies I have found re the Gulf of Thailand concern themselves with the effects of earthquakes in the Manila/Luzon Trench.

“PROBABILISTIC TSUNAMI HAZARD ANALYSIS AND RISK TO COASTAL POPULATIONS IN THAILAND”
Follow the link for the full report but to summarize a seismic induced tsunami in
the southern part of the Manila Trench in excess of 8.5Mw would likely lead to a
tsunami entering the Gulf of Thailand once in 650 years to a height of 2-3 metres. The
worst affected areas would be the southern provinces.

This is demonstrated in the “2010 Tsunami Simulations for Regional Sources in the South China and Adjoining Seas” study which proposed a catastrophic earthquake at the Luzon Trench, off the western shore of Luzon producing a tsunami affecting the Narathiwat and Pattani provinces in Thailand. It also addresses the effects of a sub-sea landslide off Borneo but  generally the shallow nature (average 100m) would mitigate the magnitude of any tsunami entering the Gulf of Thailand and hence the affect on Koh Samui.
The study “Effect of Tsunamis generated in the Manila Trench on the Gulf of Thailand 2008” states “The Gulf of Thailand is affected by the diffraction of tsunamis around the southern part of Vietnam and Cambodia. The tsunami amplitude at the southernmost coastline is about 0.65 m for the Mw 9.0 earthquake. The current velocity in the Gulf of Thailand due to the Mw 9.0 earthquake is generally less than 0.2 m/s. “

Tsunami Risk Reduction Measures Phase 2 – November 2009” stated “The simulations reveal further that tsunami threat due to seismic origin to the Gulf of Thailand is almost nonexistent.” The conclusion is that , yes, Koh Samui could be affected by a tsunami, but that it would be small and not very powerful, probably less than one metre.

Newsletter No 157 – October 2017

Today is the beginning of the Chinese Golden Week. Three days of paid holiday are given, and the surrounding weekends are re-arranged so that workers in Chinese companies always have seven continuous days of holiday. These national holidays were first started by the government for the PRC’s National Day in 1999 and are primarily intended to help expand the domestic tourism market and improve the national standard of living, as well as allowing people to make long-distance family visits. It is forecast that half a billion people will travel during this period, mostly within China but over 6 million are
expected to travel abroad.

Travel China Guide reports that Thailand is still the top outbound tourist destination for Chinese travelers due to relaxed visa requirements, followed by Japan, Singapore and South Korea although other reports suggest travel to the latter may be declining due to current tensions in the region. But they also report that in the first quarter of 2017 they spent less during their visits by up to 37% compared to last year.

The ban on “zero dollar” tour groups last year had an immediate negative effect on numbers from China. These tours were sold at extremely cheap rates in China but on arrival in Thailand the groups were closely marshalled into Chinese backed operations, they were forced to stay, travel and shop in places part of a tightly controlled network and rarely saw the real Thailand. Very little money ended up in the Thai economy. Since then there has been an increase in the FIT – Free Independent Traveller – using their smart phones to book hotels through Chinese on line travel agents such as CTrip and
using translation aps on the phone to communicate. It is reckoned that the Chinese FIT now make up 60% of the 9m or so Chinese visitors to Thailand.

What does this mean for Koh Samui? We are now in the second low season of the year and if I look at hotel availability a large number are showing as fully booked for the Golden Week. Obviously this is good for the hotels but taking into account the reports quoted above, and assuming most of these bookings are indeed Chinese, it will probably have little benefit to the wider economy apart from the 7-11’s and Family Marts.
We are still not seeing any interest from the Chinese in the re-sale market but as reported in previous Newsletters I am now aware of three developments backed by Chinese funds and aimed principally at the Chinese market confirming the preference for new properties rather than older ones.

This month’s contents –
Chinese Golden Week
New Listings
Price Reductions
Public Holidays in October
Cruise ships visiting Samui in October
Direct flight opens from Xi’an to Koh Samui in Thailand
Thailand becomes first country in Asia to join global effort to clean up
the world’s oceans
Venice Film Review: ‘Samui Song’
Samui Festival 2017 sets Guinness World Record for largest buffet
Thailand’s tourist arrivals and revenue continues growth in 3rd Quarter of 2017
Thumbnail Guide to Trash on the Thai Gulf Islands
Travellers rank Thailand 8th best of all
SALA Samui Chaweng Beach Resort
Samui braces for Chinese tourist invasion for National Day this weekend

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NEWSLETTER No 156 – SEPTEMBER 2017

I am not, and have never pretended to be, an economist and I have a deep distrust of them as their predictions invariably prove wrong. But even I can see a ten year economic cycle especially in the world of real estate where I have been most closely involved over the past ….many years. This tends for obvious reasons to parallel the state of the world economies.

I recall starting work in Abu Dhabi with a responsibility for a good sized real estate portfolio spread across the whole of the USA. This was in 1988 which was a year after the stock market crash in the USA. The real estate market was suffering with poor returns and lack of demand and was really in the doldrums. There was a great deal of vacant office space and simply to keep buildings full, net deals were being agreed – i.e. the cost of putting a tenant into space equaled the rent received over the period of the lease. Not ideal but empty space cost money – net deals broke even.

Ten years later, 1997 and we had the crash of the Tiger economies in the Asia which started in Thailand with the collapse of the Thai Baht. (1997 Asian financial crisis – Wikipedia).

Move on to 2007 and the global financial crisis which started in the sub-prime mortgage market in the USA and culminated in the collapse of Lehman Brothers a year later and subsequent economic down turn and European debt crisis.

So here we are in 2017 and what is happening? Well the Thai Banks are not in trouble but they are reporting very significantly reduced profits. According to Reuters major Thai banks have reported weaker than expected quarterly earnings and have made provision for rising bad debt. You can follow the link above for the full report.

So where does that leave us in our little Koh Samui real estate market? Unfortunately my crystal ball is clouded by the events in Europe with the uncertainty surrounding Brexit, the Euro induced sovereign debt throughout southern Europe, the upcoming German elections, etc. The first half of this year was pretty bleak with inquiries well down. Sales were happening but at a reduced level and at reduced prices. Asking prices for more than 60 properties on our web site have been reduced by an average of 20% since March, some by much more.

On the positive side, inquiries over the last month have stepped up quite a lot which is encouraging. Mostly from Expats already living overseas but also from Thais. Still very few from the Chinese although there have been some purchases. Also the price range has been quite broad, whereas we were seeing very little demand over 10m a few months ago, now we have had inquiries in all price brackets ranging up to the super luxury area. Certainly encouraging but not yet sufficient to get over excited about as there is still a huge stock of available real estate on the market and more being added each month.

Thank you to transislandtravel for sending me this link to a report on the new water pipeline from the mainland.

http://transislandtravel.com/2017/08/28/underwater-pipeline-project/

If you are British and require a letter of confirmation of pension/income for Thai Immigration you should find this link from the UK government web site useful - How to obtain a pension/income letter for Thai Immigration

KSP Newsletter No: 155 August 2017

PLEASE NOTE OUR NEW LANDLINE TELEPHONE NUMBERS

077 951 620 and 077 951 621 and FAX 077 951 622

 We keep hearing a great deal about the Chinese buying in Samui but I am not seeing much direct evidence of this in the re-sale market although there are indications that Chinese developers are buying land with a view to developing for the Chinese market.

 Juwai.com is one of the largest Chinese agents offering real estate to Chinese buyers and they have just issued their latest report on trends in that market.  Outbound Chinese investment in real estate has increased dramatically from USD 5billion in 2010 to USD 101billion in 2016. This includes real estate purchases made by corporate investors and individual, or retail-level, investors. The main target for Chinese investment is the USA, followed by Australia, Hong Kong, Canada and the UK.

 Of the SE Asian countries, Thailand has shown the least increase in demand as compared to Malaysia, Indonesia, Vietnam, Philippines and Cambodia where the increase in inquiries was a massive 311%.

Moving away from the Juwai report and looking at other reports on Chinese buyers and why they prefer other countries it is clear that Thailand’s land ownership laws, visa requirements and lack of available finance are disincentives compared to the ease of investing elsewhere in the world. The Chinese investor is a new phenomena and they do not have the experience of investing outside of China so they will take the path of least resistance. Note that four of the five top countries in the Juwai report have English as their primary language and all have legal systems that are clear and transparent.

There is no doubt that the Chinese market has great potential but whether that potential will be seen here in Thailand and in particular in Koh Samui we must wait and see.

This is an interesting article from Travel Daily News – Asia.

“Packages Drive Increased Revenue
Overall, Average Daily Rates (ADRs) – a common performance metric for hotels – for package stays were higher versus standalone stays by an average of more than 5%. This shows a substantial rate boost for hotels – and an incentive to include their hotels in package offerings. As an example, there is substantially more package demand for 4-5 star properties in Phuket and Koh Samui as compared to standalone hotel demand in these beach destinations.”

I wonder how this would relate to the Villa rental market? The full article can be found here.

The full Newsletter contains the following  :

Comments on the Chinese market.
8 New Villa Sale Listings
3 New Rental Listings
5 New Apartment Listings
4 New Land Listings
4 New Price Reductions

Public Holidays in August – One
Cruise Ships visiting Samui in August  – None

From the Press
– More hotels to join effort to tackle Koh Samui’s waste
crisis;
– Anayara Resorts plans Thai debut in Phuket

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KSP Newsletter No: 154 July 2017

I have been trying to follow up on the new water pipeline being laid from the mainland to Samui. I mentioned this is in my July Newsletter last year following a visit to the East Water desalination plant in Plai Laem. Since then it has been possible to see the barges laying the pipeline. Taken from Notice to Mariners for the area the line of the pipeline is shown on this chart extract. More on this as information becomes available.

Chart courtesy of https://webapp.navionics.com  

This is an extremely interesting and useful web site which covers the whole world. If you enter the site and zoom in to Samui at a small scale, especially around the Nathon area you will see why the cruise ships that visit us stay so far out. The first issue is the depth of water. You will see that the 10m line is quite far out and it gets quite shallow inside that line as you will regularly see at low water. As most of the ships draw around 8m that leaves little margin for error. The second thing you will see is the plethora of submarine cables in that area which they must avoid when anchoring. If you recall the major electrical power outage which lasted for a few days a few years ago, you can see the new underwater power cable that they then laid from the mainland to the sub-station in Maenam.

 The Notice to Mariners was issued in October last year and stated

1. From September 2016 to April 2017 Provincial Waterworks Authority (PWA)
The following pipe will be installed”

It then gave eight coordinates from which the attached line was drawn – although some of the later coordinates seemed to be on land! The barges have gone so I am presuming the line has been finished and it just remains to connect to the pumping station in Ban Kao and complete the connections round the island.

 If you would like to see all Notices to Mariners they can be found here http://www.hydro.navy.mi.th/NTMs/ntm.htm in Thai but Google Translate for once does a reasonable job.

For those of you who have your water direct from the PWA and get a PWA bill each month, you usually pay at the 7-11. However, if you forget to pay by the due date (or just want to save 10 Baht!) you need to pay at the PWA in Nathon or to save the trip, once a month there is a mobile office at the Lake in Chaweng. It is there for three days from 10.30-15.30 usually the Monday – Wednesday on the 3rd week of the month. Exact dates can be obtained from the PWA 077 200 517.

The full Newsletter contains the following articles and links
New Listings – 9
Price Reductions – 6
Public Holidays
Cruise Ships

Bangkok Airways Offers Special Privileges to Women Travelers throughout the month of August 2017

Bangkok Airways and Hong Kong Airlines enter into codeshare agreement

Scandal brewing as key forestry official transferred over Koh Phangan airport plans

Koh Phangan airport project hits snag

Tourism Authority of Thailand upgrades mobile apps for tourists

Captain on the bridge – Raja Ferries

Two foreign thieves – at least one believed to be an American – were arrested by police on Koh Phangan on Tuesday.

Healthy Summer Camp for Kids on Samui

Thailand to launch new 10 year multiple entry visa for over 50s

Universal Aviation Thailand to provide customer service & ramp training to Koh Samui Airport

and can be subscribed to by following this link Newsletter Subscription

KSP Newsletter No: 153 June 2017

Oh dear! Here we go again. Let’s have a bridge to Samui. See the article below. I cannot believe this man is serious. Apart from the fact that the money could be far better used to improve the infrastructure on the island there are major errors of logic in the argument. For one, he suggests that businesses would continue to use the ferries, but why would they unless the Toll for the bridge was exorbitant – no one should think for a minute that if this ever did come to pass, that it would be free. This came up about five years ago when the cost was estimated at Baht 7.5 Billion and that included a tunnel which was even more ludicrous as the tunnel was shown as going under the deepest part of the sea at that point.

Chart courtesy of https://webapp.navionics.com
I seriously doubt this will ever happen and I am not convinced it would be good for the island but stranger things have happened.

And so onto the next project which looks as if it just might happen. Samui looks to be getting a second roundabout. This one to be south of Nathon at the cross roads to the Samui Nathon Hospital and the PWA Offices.

Images courtesy of FACEBOOK contributors.

The full version of this Newsletter contains the following:

New Listings
Price Reductions
Public Holidays
Cruise Ships
Bangkok Airways Operating results
Former Democrat MP proposes Bt45-bn bridge to Koh Samui
Samui Regatta sets the standard for sports tourism on Samui
Island
Bangkok Airways Supports Slow Loris Conservation Project
The 9th Queen’s Cup Bangkok Airways – SAT Samui Golf Tournament 2017
The Tongsai Bay, Koh Samui, Thailand welcomes Martin Heiniger as new General Manager
Koh Phangan ferry gets stuck on sandbar just after leaving port.

and can be subscribed to by following this link Newsletter Subscription

KSP Newsletter No: 152 May 2017

In February last year my Newsletter was about the way in which Land Papers are surveyed throughout Thailand with reference to the seven base stations in Chonburi, Srisakhet, Uthaithani, Lampang, Chomphon, Phuket and Pattani. This being the basic reference frame of GPS Stations in Thailand. There are then a total of 18 First Order Stations around the country which form the Primary Network of GPS Stations. There are then a further 692 GPS Secondary Network Stations.  

      

How do you recognise these stations? I have been following a web blog “Changwat, Amphoe, Tambon” and the writer recently included this issue and gave examples. They are very much like what you would expect to find used by the Ordnance Survey in the UK. Each has a plaque stating its purpose in both Thai and English. 

I have yet to find one on Koh Samui but if anyone in their travels comes across one please send me a photograph and GPS location.

Some Provincial Offices have similar structures (see below) with plates stating a GPS location, but these are Geographical markers not necessarily part of the Thailand Survey but simply to record the location of the Office. Some give ridiculously precise coordinates extending to five decimal places of a second which having regard to continental drift was inaccurate as soon as it was built.

 

 

 

 

 

The full version of this Newsletter contains the following:

Land Department Survey Points
Price Reductions
Public Holidays in May
Cruise ships visiting Koh Samui in May – actually none!
Bangkok Airways receives its latest ATR72-600

Giant King Cobra returned to nature in joint Thai/British rescue operation Samui

Hospitality Veteran Lyle Lewis Joins Conrad Koh Samui as General Manager

ISS Camping Adventure to Angthong Marine Park

and can be subscribed to by following this link Newsletter Subscription

 

KSP Newsletter No: 151 – April 2017

Population of Thailand

If you are interested in statistics there is some new information from the Department of Provincial Administration about the population of Thailand and the number of foreigners resident here. They take the figures from the number of foreigners required to report to Immigration every 90 days.

The total population of Thailand at 31 December 2016 was 65,096,905 Thai nationals plus 834,645 registered foreigners. There are no separate figures for Koh Samui as these figures are compiled on a Provincial basis but Suratthani shows a Thai population of 1,045,860 plus 5,053 registered foreigners most of whom I would suspect are in Koh Samui. If we say that 80% live in Samui and Immigration is only open 60 days in any 90 day cycle they have to process 67 people a day on average – just for the 90 day report. On top of that they have resident’s annual renewals and tourists extensions so it is little wonder it gets busy and crowded. You can see this report here although only in Thai.

What the figures hide though, or perhaps just do not show, are the numbers of non-registered migrants and refugees from neighbouring countries. The 2010 Census shows that there were some 1,292,862 people from Myanmar alone, by far the highest number of foreign nationals, but no indication of the proportion who were here working on special visas or as refugees.

The 2010 Census for Thailand as a whole also showed that the highest numbers from Europe were from the UK (85,850) followed by Germany (24,381) and France (22,489). The full Census is very comprehensive and contains a wealth of information including the types of housing, household appliances, water sources etc. If this is of interest to you it is available here Population Census in both Thai and English.

 I am constantly being asked about the state of the market here and it is without doubt pretty slow – not dead as some sales are happening but if you look at the list below you will see a great many price reductions this month. Over 35 owners reduced their prices with an average reduction of 20% so some considerably more. Obviously the change in the value of currencies still plays a part in this as does the uncertainties surrounding Brexit about which there are as many views as grains of sand on the beach. Once again all the experts and pundits are divided in their opinions and previous experience suggests they are all wrong and only time will tell.

 Looking out across to Koh Tan the other day I could see the ships laying the new undersea water pipe edging their way towards the mainland. It does not look as if they will meet their target of this month, but then we did have a lot of unexpected bad weather through into February and simply to get it finished this summer will be an achievement.

The full version of this Newsletter contains the following:

– Population statistics of Thailand
– New Listings – 9
– Price Reductions – 17
– Thailand Public Holidays in April
– Cruise Ships visiting Samui in April
– Raja Ferry looking at Andaman Sea route
– Samui vies for year-round bookings 
– Platinum to commence construction of two Samui hotels this year
– Bangkok Airways to link longhaul to more beaches
– Samui Sharks Swim Team sweeps to 1st Place

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