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Six Months On
Challenges and achievements six months after the tsunami
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Sources: Bangkok Post, BBC, The Nation, ThaisNews

02 August 2005:
Andaman coast won't be revived by high season
As a result of December's devastating tsunami, hotel operators and travel agents have lost international and local bookings, especially in Phuket and its surrounding provinces where the hotel occupancy is now at 20-30 per cent. The Thai Hotels Association expects the occupancy rate for the entire industry to fall 10-20 per cent this year.

03 August 2005:
Tsunami alert system discussed in Australia
Representatives from 27 nations have gathered in Perth to discuss the technical and scientific requirements to set up a tsunami warning system for the Indian Ocean. The system will be a network of separate alert systems operated by individual countries including Thailand, Indonesia, Sri Lanka and India which are then linked together through a regional centre. The backbone of this is an array of hi-tech wave, tide and pressure sensors that are already transmitting information about climate and other scientific data but are hoped to be upgraded to form an interim warning system that can be fully operational by the middle of next year.

05 August 2005:
Warning system in full operation by summer 06, 24 buoys in place by this December
Indian Ocean countries meeting in Australia have decided to set up a network of seabed sensors and buoys as part of a tsunami warning system. The forum also agreed that warning centres would be created in Australia, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Iran and Pakistan bringing about the concern that these separate centres sending advisories to national warning centres in 25 countries might generate confusion. The system is being established with the backing of UNESCO, which formally set up the Intergovernmental Coordination Group for the Indian Ocean Tsunami Warning and Mitigation System (ICG) in June.

06 August 2005
Caravan-for-children project introduced to lift the spirits of child victims
Organized by the Phuan Kaeo Society and the Swedish consulate in Thailand, three vans loaded with toys, storybooks, musical instruments and sports gear will be deployed in Phuket, Phang Nga and Krabi from next Wednesday to lift the spirits of children affected by the December 26 tsunami. Each van will have three staff who will try to gain an insight into the children's needs and come up with long-term solutions. 50 mobile phones will also be distributed to affected communities in the provinces so children can call a 1387 counseling hotline if they need help.

06 August 2005
Duty-free zone in Phuket soon
The Thai Tourism Minister said that he planned to get Phuket's duty-free zone up and running by end of the year to draw more international tourists as part of the Andaman recovery campaign. The project was initiated at the beginning of the year after the December tsunami severely dented the economy but it could not be implemented due to poor cooperation from agencies and lack of awareness by local shops and residents.

06 August 2005
Thai marine research and management mission to Queensland funded by AUSAID
Thai specialists in natural resources and tourism would meet with representatives of Australian coastal research and other agencies to share ideas on improving coastal management in Thailand. The eight-day mission is part of Australia's A$400,000 (Bt12.7 million) support programme for the tsunami-ravaged Andaman coast.