Vol. II No. 3 Saturday 18 January - 24 January 2003
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TRAVEL & TOURISM
HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

BMA launches 9-temple tour

Bangkok’s Silom Road ‘Walking Street’ project gets the heave-ho!

BMA launches 9-temple tour

Bangkok City Hall has launched a temple tour during weekends to bring people good luck at the start of the New Year.

Nathanon Thavisin, permanent-secretary for the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) said that the Bangkok Tourism Bureau had organized the Bangkok Temple Tour Program to nine holy temples in Bangkok.

“The program got a very good response as the tour scheduled for the first weekend of the year (January 4-5) was fully booked, and just a few seats are still available for the next few weekends,” she stated. “BMA may have to extend the program until February. We originally planned to organize the program only in January,” she said.

Nathanon said February would also be a good month for the tour, as there would be the Chinese New Year and St. Valentine’s Day holidays.

She added that if the February tours were successful, organizing the program all year round will be considered.

Some people believe that visiting and making merit at nine temples in a single day will bring them luck and good karma. The number nine is considered lucky by many people.

The five-hour temple tour begins at the Bangkok Tourist Promotion Center near the Phra Pinklao Bridge.

The nine temples are Wat Suthat Thepwararam, Shrine of Chao Pho Suea (Tiger God), Wat Chanasongkram, the City Pillar Shrine, Wat Phra Kaew (the Temple of the Emerald Buddha), Wat Phra Chetuphon, Wat Kanlayanamit, The temple of Dawn, and Wat Rakang Kositaram.

The tour costs 399 baht each for adults and 299 baht for children under 12. Included in the package are snacks, drinks, air-conditioned van, and guides. The trips start at 7.30 a.m., 8.00 a.m., 1:00 p.m., and 1:30 p.m. (TNA)


Bangkok’s Silom Road ‘Walking Street’ project gets the heave-ho!

As of the Sunday before Christmas, December 25, 2002, the Silom Walking Street project was brought to a close. Leisurely meandering down this road in the heart of Bangkok’s business district is now a thing of the past, as the outdoor fun activities for the public will no longer be held on a regular basis.

The authorities concerned decided to cancel the project after a study by the National Energy Policy Office (Nepo) suggested the disadvantages of the project outweighed the advantages. The results of the study said the project had failed in all aspects, except that it allowed people additional public space.

Former deputy prime minister Pitak Intrawitayanunt, who chaired the Nepo board, launched the project with the intent of reducing pollution, conserving energy by encouraging people to use public transportation, boosting tourism and offering the public a new family-oriented recreation spot every Sunday.

Supported by an annual budget of 30 million baht, Silom Road ‘Walking Street’ became a source of fun-filled outdoor activities from midday till midnight every Sunday. In a move to boost tourism, two large stages were set up to highlight shows following a different weekly theme, and to add to the fun plenty of smaller platforms were also available for the general public to show off their talents.

The activities attracted at least 30,000 visitors every week, and with special events on certain Sundays the number of visitors sometimes totaled 100,000.

During its first six months the scheme received overwhelming approval, thanks to the variety of performances, vendors offering local products and its image as an energy conservation scheme. But towards the end, creative activities aimed at boosting tourism fizzled out and were replaced mainly by vendors who charged outrageous prices and attracted gangs of extortionists.

Opposition to the project gained momentum and the government finally cancelled the project. Silom Road’s Walking Street project lasted just 56 weeks.

Silom-based business operators and residents from Bang Rak District led the opposition, citing excessive noise, uncollected garbage and traffic congestion in the area. Pollution increased in adjoining areas. Local residents complained about lack of mobility.

Tourism Authority of Thailand governor Juthamas said the project did not achieve its tourism promotion goals because activities lacked unique charm. “Most visitors were students and shoppers,” she said.

Juthamas also acknowledged that the project had failed in terms of energy conservation, noise pollution and garbage. “We may consider offering similar activities elsewhere, but we will have to select the site more carefully,” she added. (TNA)



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