TRAVEL & TOURISM
HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

Thailand signs Guilin Declaration on cooperation in tourism

Emirates to boost capacity by 26%

Air New Zealand and Qantas to form major airline grouping

Thai province promotes pineapple leaf paper as top souvenir

Branson says Virgin Blue may buy more jets

Accor seasonal sale runs through March 16 2003

Thailand signs Guilin Declaration on cooperation in tourism

Thailand has joined other Asian countries attending the Boao Forum for Asia (BFA) Tourism Conference in the Chinese province of Guilin in signing the Guilin Declaration on cooperation in tourism.

Aphichart Chinavanno, deputy director of the Department of East Asian Affairs, recently stated that Thai Ambassador to China Don Pramudwinai signed the declaration on behalf of the Thai government at the end of the conference which was held from November 17 through November 20.

The declaration is geared to promote sustainable development of regional tourism, which aims to support economic and social development, and will eventually address the poverty problem in the region.

Aphichart said that participating countries agreed to become strategic partners in tourism. The Guilin Declaration states that Asian countries will jointly develop regional tourism through cooperation in communication, information exchange, and training programs for tourism personnel.

Asian countries will also jointly work for diversified alternatives of regional tourism development, including promotion of new products for tourists and introduction of new tourism projects, namely eco-tourism, agro-tourism, and city-tours. Information technology (IT) will also be applied for the benefit of regional tourism development.

At the three-day meeting, participants also expressed their support for Asian governments in introducing and implementing measures to ensure the safety of tourists. (TNA)


Emirates to boost capacity by 26%

Unstoppable Emirates has announced plans to add 4 new destinations to its ever-growing network in the next year and increase frequencies to no fewer than 17 existing destinations.

The four new routes and the increased flights will amount to an increase in total capacity of 26 percent. They will also provide travelers from the Middle East region with greater choice and flexibility. At the same time, they will enhance Dubai’s position as premier transit point to destinations around the globe.

Emirates launched new services to Kochi (Cochin) on December 2, 2002 (subject to government approval). Kochi will be followed by Lagos (subject to government approval) on March 31, Moscow on July 1, 2003 and Shanghai on August 2, 2003. Airbus 330-200 jets, offering a three-class service, will be operated on all four routes.

His Highness Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, Emirates’ chairman said, “The introduction of these new routes, coupled with our intention to launch services to the US next year, will secure Emirates place as a truly global carrier. Our plans for growth are further underlined by our $15 billion aircraft order book. This includes 22 of the new double-deck Airbus A380s, which will be the world’s largest aircraft when they enter service from 2006.”

Flights to Manchester, Bangkok, Munch and Muscat become double daily, while those to Sydney become daily. Across the network, exiting flights will be increased as follows.

Europe

Manchester Daily to double daily service (1 June)

Munich Twelve flights weekly to double daily (30 March)

Malta/Tripoli Three flights weekly to four flights a week (1 May)

Paris Seven flights weekly to eleven flights a week (1 July)

Istanbul Four flights weekly to five flights a week (1 July)

Pacific Rim/Australia

Sydney Four flights weekly to daily service (30 March)

Bangkok Ten flights weekly to double daily (30 March)

Hong Kong Ten flights weekly to 13 flights a week (1 May)

Subcontinent/Africa

Karachi(terminators) 14 flights a week to 21 flights a week (1 July)

Khartoum Three flights weekly to five flights a week (1 May)

Middle East

Tehran Ten flights weekly to 14 flights a week (1 May)

Jeddah Five flights weekly to six flights a week (30 March)

Doha Seventeen flights weekly to three times daily (30 March)

Damman Four flights weekly to five flights a week (30 March)

Muscat Daily to double daily service (1 July)

Sanaa Three flights weekly to five flights a week (1 July)

More information on Emirates can be found at www. emirates.com


Air New Zealand and Qantas to form major airline grouping

The board and management of Air New Zealand have unanimously supported the entry by the airline into a major strategic alliance with Qantas. The boards of the two companies recently concluded a far reaching agreement which will secure long-term opportunities for both parties, bringing substantial economic benefits to the companies and public benefits to New Zealand and Australia.

The basis of the strategic alliance is the absolute commitment of both parties to Air New Zealand being New Zealand controlled, and managed autonomously under the oversight and direction of its own board.

Under the alliance all the airline activities of Air New Zealand will be combined with those parts of Qantas which operate to, from or within New Zealand, under the commercial management of Air New Zealand.

This establishment of a major airline grouping in the region provides both parties with a sound base from which to strengthen their global presence in overseas markets, develop new routes, and improve scheduling and frequency of services. These markets account for over three quarters of Air New Zealand’s international passengers who travel to this country as tourists and business visitors.

The strategic alliance is a bold response to the challenges both airlines face. The agreement emerged from a commonly held view of the future which sustained the lengthy discussions between the two parties initiated some 12 months ago.

Air New Zealand considered two strategies, that of joining with another airline and then competing against Qantas, or working with Qantas and competing as a strong alliance. The Qantas alliance offered the best outcomes, both from the company’s, and the national interest, perspective.

The name Air New Zealand will remain and the Koru symbol will continue to fly proudly to major international destinations.

Once the strategic alliance is operational Air New Zealand will manage the commercial activities of operations within the alliance - that is the scheduling, pricing, routes and marketing of all Air New Zealand flights and all those Qantas flights which operate to, from or within New Zealand. Each airline will remain fully responsible for its own flight operations including matters such as aircrew, provision and maintenance of aircraft, and passenger services.


Thai province promotes pineapple leaf paper as top souvenir

The southern province of Prachuap Khiri Khan is launching a tourist campaign to attract tourists by promoting the products made from pineapple leaf paper as superior souvenirs.

Prasong Pitoonkijja, Prachuap Khiri Khan governor, said that the government’s project plan is to tie the “One Village, One Product” scheme to the tourism campaign.

The province plans to join the products made from pineapple leaves with its tourism promotion. The pineapple leaf paper handicraft center at Pranburi district would be the top attraction in this project, he said

It is expected that the bond between the tourism and One Village, One Product scheme will help increase the community income. “Tourists will drop by at handicraft centers that offer local products from the One Village, One Product campaign and I am sure that they can not resist buying the products,” the governor said.

Silachai Surai Director of the central region office of the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) said the One Village, One Product campaign will be a good strategy to attract more visitors to the province.

Siriwan Wuttiwong-angkana, owner of Pranburi Pineapple Leaf Paper Handicraft Center said tourists will be able to try to make the pineapple leaf paper by themselves at the handicraft center and take their own work back home. A variety of goods made of pineapple leaf are available at the reasonable price. (TNA)


Branson says Virgin Blue may buy more jets

Richard Branson, founder of Virgin Blue Airlines, Australia’s second-biggest carrier, said the airlines may place an order of between 30 and 40 aircraft in December of this year.

Branson said the order will most likely be announced in the next four or five weeks, as the company continues its push to expand market share in Australia and find new routes offshore. The discount carrier has “a couple of extremely attractive deals on the table,” he said, without being specific.

“We’re talking about ordering 30-to-40 jets. It’s the best time perhaps in the history of aviation to be buying new planes because after September 11 there aren’t many airlines in a position where they’re expanding. By ordering 30 or 40 new planes we can drive our cost base even lower,” Branson said.

Virgin Blue said it planned an expansion of its 28 Boeing aircraft fleet and raise its 18 percent market share by taking business from rival Qantas Airways. It’s considering whether to add more Boeing planes or switch to Airbus SAS.

Virgin Blue is targeting net income of at least A$100 million (US$57 million) next year to help fund the new aircraft purchases and planned route expansion outside Australia.

“I’ve set our staff the challenge to seeing whether we can get over A$100 million in this year’s trading,” Branson said. “I’m absolutely confident that they’ll achieve that. An airline needs to be very profitable to be able to reinvest in routes,” he added.

Brisbane-based Virgin Blue started operations in August 2000 with two planes and more than doubled its market share after the September 2001 collapse of Ansett, the then #2 airline in Australia. The discount carrier has moved into larger terminals previously used by Ansett at many of the nation’s airports.

Branson reiterated that Virgin Blue plans to sell shares in an initial public offering in the first half of 2003. “The idea is to bring in the public into Virgin Blue sometime in the first half of next year, and it will be a stand alone float of Virgin Blue,” he said. “We’ve got pretty well everything all in place.”


Accor seasonal sale runs through March 16 2003

Outstanding rates available at over 90 hotels Asia wide

Accor has launched its latest seasonal sale, which started on November 16 with great prices at over 90 hotels in Asia. Valid until March 16, 2003 the Accor seasonal sale allows frequent travelers in Asia to take advantage of special rates and enjoy substantial savings at participating hotels around the region.

Top deals include Sofitel Jin Jiang Oriental Pudong Shanghai, US$95 a night; Sofitel Silom Bangkok, US$102, Sofitel Royal Angkor, US$165; Sofitel Ambassador Seoul, US$145; Sofitel Central Hua Hin Resort, US$130; Sofitel Metropole Hanoi, US$128; Novotel Xinqiao Beijing, US$60; Novotel Century Hong Kong, HK$736 (US$95); Novotel Surabaya Hotel and Suites, US$40; Novotel Apollo Singapore, S$125 (US$70); Novotel Century Kuala Lumpur RM 167 (US$44) and Novotel Koshien Osaka West Y15,000 (US$125). (US dollar figures are estimates based on release date exchange rates. All rates are paid in local currency only.)

Accor Advantage Plus cardholders enjoy an additional 5% savings on above rates and other hotels in Accor’s Asian network - in addition to being eligible for participating frequent flyer benefits with Thai Airways International’s Royal Orchid Plus and Cathay Pacific’s Asia Miles.

Inquiries and bookings can be made through Global Distribution Systems or on the accorhotels.com/asia web site or contact Asia Corporate Sales Office; Bangkok tel. 02-237-6064, or fax: 02-237-1308.