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First tourist town blast suspect arrested in Thailand

Thai authorities have arrested the first suspect linked to a string of bomb and arson attacks that rocked southern tourist towns last month, a police officer said on Saturday. The coordinated blasts erupted across seven provinces on August 11-121, killing four and injuring dozens, including foreign tourists. One suspected arsonist was arrested yesterday in his hometown in Pattani

Assistant national police chief Suchart Theerasawat

No one has claimed responsibility for the bombing spree but analysts say it bore the hallmarks of ethnic Malay Muslim insurgents behind a 12-year rebellion concentrated further south.

The battle for greater autonomy from the Buddhist-majority state has killed than 6,500 people mainly civilians since 2004, but the violence rarely spills outside the southern border region.

One suspected arsonist was arrested yesterday in his hometown in Pattani, assistant national police chief Suchart Theerasawat told AFP on Saturday, referring to a province that lies in the heart of the insurgency. The man, identified by police as 36-year-old Abdul Kadae Salae, is accused of setting fire to a supermarket in Trang province. The flames severely damaged the building and struck during the same early morning window as bombings in other towns, including the beach resort of Hua Hin and the island of Phuket.

He is being questioned at a military camp, the officer added.

With bombings, Thai militants appear to be sending a message to the junta2

Like some of the four other suspects still at large, Salae has a record of involvement in the southern insurgency, according police. But officers insist it is too early to call the tourist town bombings an extension of the southern rebellion, suggesting the men could have been hired by other opponents of Thailand s military government.

Junta rules out link between latest bombings in southern Thailand and earlier deadly attacks3

Analysts say the junta, which came to power in a 2014 coup, would be loathe to admit to a major expansion of the insurgency as it would undercut their claims to have stemmed violence in the restive border region. Drive-by shootings and roadside bombs happen almost daily in the culturally and linguistically distinct zone bordering Malaysia.

Car bomb kills policeman, wounds two in rebel-hit Thai south4

On Saturday one person was killed when an explosive planted on a railway track derailed a train car in Pattani.

One train staff was killed and one person was injured, said Colonel Pramote Prom-in, a southern army spokesman.

The rebels never claim their attacks but factions are known to be frustrated with their lack of progress after more than a decade of fighting.

References

  1. ^ coordinated blasts erupted across seven provinces on August 11-12 (www.scmp.com)
  2. ^ With bombings, Thai militants appear to be sending a message to the junta (www.scmp.com)
  3. ^ Junta rules out link between latest bombings in southern Thailand and earlier deadly attacks (www.scmp.com)
  4. ^ Car bomb kills policeman, wounds two in rebel-hit Thai south (www.scmp.com)

BBC Millionaires’ Holiday Club travel firm sold to private equity in £30m deal

ITC Travel, a maker of made-to-measure holidays for the rich, has been sold to private equity firm NorthEdge in a deal thought to value the luxury operator at 30m.

The Cheshire-based travel group was recently featured in the BBC documentary The Millionaires’ Discount Holidays © Holiday Club1, which gave a glimpse of its sumptuous holidays, from champagne-fuelled yacht parties in the Caribbean to haute couture dress shopping. ITC, which was set up in 1974 by the late Drew Foster and is now run by boss Jen Atkinson2, specialises in organising upmarket holidays to sunny destinations and trips to major sporting events, such as the Monaco Grand Prix. NorthEdge has bought a majority stake in the firm, which is one of Britain s oldest Discount Holidays © holiday businesses, following a management buyout backed by former Capita boss Paul Pindar in 2014.

Jen Atkinson, who took the top job in 2009, said NorthEdge’s investment would boost its presence in the mainstream end of the travel market and help upgrade its technology.

Our customers demand unique experiences in the world s most exclusive destinations, she said. We ll also be looking to broaden our product offering beyond our current luxury and tailor-made proposition. Since the buyout two years ago, ITC has been part-owned by Ms Atkinson and Mr Pindar. Last year it bought four businesses off beach travel operator Western & Oriental. ITC reported 80m sales in the year to April 2016, up from 43m in 2013, at a time when the wider travel industry has blamed falling sales on the EU referendum and fears over terrorism3.

The business, which was the first travel company to charter Concorde and employs 60 travel specialists to book its bespoke holidays, is on track to make 13,000 bookings this year. A number of privately owned Discount Holidays © holiday firms have been dressed up for sale this year including ITC Travel, Your Golf, and Cruise.co, the Telegraph understands. It comes on the back of last year’s summer of deal-making in the travel industry4.

Ray Stenton, a partner at NorthEdge, said: ITC has been selling luxury holidays for over 40 years.

The business has a clear growth strategy and has already demonstrated its ability to expand.

References

  1. ^ The Millionaires’ Discount Holidays © Holiday Club (www.discountholidays.info)
  2. ^ Jen Atkinson (www.discountholidays.info)
  3. ^ has blamed falling sales on the EU referendum and fears over terrorism (www.discountholidays.info)
  4. ^ comes on the back of last year’s summer of deal-making in the travel industry (www.discountholidays.info)

Starwood’s W Hotels announce deal to operate Edinburgh hotel

Starwood Hotels & Resorts is to bring its iconic W Hotels brand to Edinburgh, as the centrepiece of the flagship 850m Edinburgh St James1 development.

W Hotels2 is a contemporary, design-led lifestyle brand and an industry innovator with 49 hotels and retreats in the most vibrant cities and exotic destinations around the world and it is coming to Edinburgh. Currently, there is only one other W Hotel operating in the UK; The W Hotel London3, on Leicester Square and confidence is high that there will be a huge appetite from both locals and visitors alike for the latest addition to Edinburgh s diverse accommodation offer. The W Hotels experience began with the W New York4 (49th Street and Lexington Avenue), which opened its doors in December 1998.

Colin Bennett, UK & Ireland area manager, Starwood Hotels & Resorts:

The Scottish capital is an established business hub with a thriving tourism industry. Edinburgh’s tourism industry is second only to London s. A vibrant programme of world-renowned cultural festivals and events helps generate strong visitor numbers year round. Each hotel and retreat worldwide synthesises our birthplace’s energetic, vibrant, forward-thinking attitude into an atmosphere entirely appropriate to its destination. This approach reflects the W Hotels vision of the hotel as a mix of vibes and elements that mingle to create a welcoming and social gathering place.

The WOW factor

The Edinburgh hotel, which will form the centrepiece of the flagship 850m St James Quarter development, will offer 214 stylish guest rooms, including 20 suites and one Extreme Wow Suite (the W brand s interpretation of the Presidential Suite). The rooftop will feature a destination bar and outdoor terrace, offering 360-degree panoramic views of the city s historic skyline, along with a cutting-edge approach to cocktails and cuisine. Other areas will include W Lounge, a signature restaurant, FIT – the ultimate workout facility, an AWAY Spa offering signature health and lifestyle experiences, along with 2,450 sqft of ultra-modern event space.

With its vibrant lifestyle programming focusing on what s new in fashion, design and music, the hotel is designed to appeal to international jet-setters and local Edinburgh residents alike, with guests feeling like insiders of the city not just visitors.

Local opportunities

W Edinburgh will attract high-spending international visitors from around the globe who will put money back into the local economy and help drive future growth. Having one of the most exciting hotel brands in Edinburgh will also drive increased visibility for the destination and create numerous employment opportunities for local people. The hotel will look to employ locals and international staff who are passionate about the W brand and the city of Edinburgh.

One of the key roles in any W Hotel is The Insider this is W s take on a super-concierge, a person who knows the city inside out.

said Colin Bennett, UK & Ireland area manager at Starwood Hotels and Resorts.

Why Edinburgh?

Edinburgh is a growing capital city, that achieves some of the highest hotel occupancy levels in Europe and some of the highest average daily room rates in the UK.

Edinburgh is one of Scotland’s best-connected areas, with a sophisticated transport and communications network linking it with the rest of the UK, Europe and beyond. says Bennett.

The Scottish capital is an established business hub with a thriving tourism industry. Edinburgh’s tourism industry is second only to London s. A vibrant programme of world-renowned cultural festivals and events helps generate strong visitor numbers year round. Discover more: Invest Edinburgh spoke to Colin Bennett, UK & Ireland area manager, Starwood Hotels & Resorts5.

References

  1. ^ Edinburgh St James (www.edinburghstjames.com)
  2. ^ W Hotels (www.starwoodhotels.com)
  3. ^ The W Hotel London (www.starwoodhotels.com)
  4. ^ W New York (www.starwoodhotels.com)
  5. ^ Invest Edinburgh spoke to Colin Bennett, UK & Ireland area manager, Starwood Hotels & Resorts (www.investinedinburgh.com)

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