HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

Emirates show-stealing stand takes off at ITB exhibition in Berlin

Bang Sai Royal Folk Arts and Crafts Center now welcomes tourists

THAI profits jump 234 percent

TAT opens website for booking tourism services

Khon Kaen gets a facelift

Emirates show-stealing stand takes off at ITB exhibition in Berlin

The 21-ton stand was the biggest aircraft model ever built inside an exhibition hall. It placed the award-winning Dubai-based airline on center stage with thousands of influential travel industry visitors at ITB, the international tourism exhibition in the German capital Berlin.

On March 7, top German state TV show “Morgenmagazin” broadcast live from the stand from 5:30 a.m. to 9:00 a.m., bringing footage of Emirates and Dubai to the breakfast TV screens of millions of German homes.

The ‘nose cone’ was covered in see-through gauze to help visitors visualize the inside of the mighty aircraft. It stood more than nine meters tall, but was only supported by a single nose wheel - technically challenging for an exhibition hall with tight limits on floor loadings.

Originally intended as a life-sized model of the front cabin of an Airbus A380, the giant 575-seat double-decker aircraft - which will form the backbone of Emirates’ fleet for much of this century - had to be scaled down to 90 percent of its actual size to fit it into Berlin’s huge Messe exhibition hall.

Mike Simon, Emirates’ corporate communications director said, “We briefed Pulse Group, our designers, to highlight our considerable investment in the A380 with a model which would incorporate our core values of quality, innovation and forward-thinking. The new aircraft will have two particularly memorable aspects - its enormous size and the two complete passenger decks running throughout its full length. Our model had to be as close in size to the real thing as possible to give an impression of its huge presence.”

The climate-controlled model, built on three floors, included two kitchens for cabin crew to serve first-class catering, a fully-networked computer system with Internet links, a DVD-based plasma display system to broadcast promotional messages around the stand, two business lounges and a boardroom.

Senior executives from Emirates, Emirates Holidays, Arabian Adventures, Skywards frequent flyer scheme and Al Maha Desert Resort were there to brief visitors on the Group’s award-winning products and services.

Bang Sai Royal Folk Arts and Crafts Center now welcomes tourists

Bangsai Arts and Crafts Village at the Bangsai Arts and Crafts Center, Ayuthaya was recently introduced as a new tourist attraction. The center is a village representing four regions of Thailand with examples of traditional Thai houses, living styles in the olden days, folk arts and crafts, landscaping and gardening of the four regions of Thailand. This project has Royal support.

Built and donated to the center by the Tourist Authority of Thailand (TAT) the center will be a permanent showcase of Thai culture.

The Royal Folk Arts and Crafts Center is under the Promotion of Supplementary Occupations and Related Techniques (SUPPORT), an organization under the Royal Patronage of Her Majesty Queen Sirikit.

An annual fair at the end of January highlights the center’s craft products. A variety of performances enliven the fair.

To get there, take a bus from Bangkok’s Northern Bus Terminal (telephone 02 272-0299) or take a boat up the Chao Phraya River.

The center is open from 8:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. daily except Monday. The admission fee is 20 baht for children (both Thai and foreigners), 50 baht for Thai adults and 100 baht for foreigners.

Unfortunately, the center has a dual pricing system, charging foreign visitors double the entry fee for locals. For more information, call 035 366-092 or 032 225-8165.

THAI profits jump 234 percent

Thai Airways International recorded a 234 percent leap in net profits for the first quarter of fiscal 2003, with a profit : share ratio of over 2.5 baht.

The airline’s executive director Kanok Aphiradee said that profits from sales and service provision for the period October-December 2002 stood at 6.381 billion baht up 5.475 billion from the same period the previous year, a staggering increase of 604.2 percent. When this was added to other income and expenditure the company was left with net profits of 3.509 billion, up 234.2 percent from the previous year.

Share ratio also soared from 0.75 baht in the first quarter of fiscal 2002 to 2.5 baht this year.

Unveiling the latest figures, Kanok said that last year business had been badly affected by fears of global terrorism. “The improved performance this year is a result of aggressive marketing plans and an expansion of routes, together with the fact that passengers and tourists are confident that Thailand is a safe place, and so are visiting Thailand in increasing numbers. This has resulted in an average passenger carrying rate of 72 percent for this first quarter,” he said.

Kanok added that while the company has increased its expenditure in production and transportation, the increase was relatively low and did not make a significant dent in profits.

TAT opens website for booking tourism services

The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) in cooperation with Advance E-commerce Company has launched an online service for travelers who can now make tour and hotel reservations on its website.

The homepage currently offers B2C (Business to Customer) services to more than 400 entrepreneurs.

Accommodation providers, tour operators, airline businesses, car rental services are the target groups. TAT’s web-site is aimed to boost SME operators by allowing payment transactions to be performed via the Internet.

To cater for the need of worldwide users, a call center is also on hand to give information and reply to any inquiries from worldwide business operators.

Khon Kaen gets a facelift

It’s not quite a case of painting the town red, but the paint pots are out for the northeast city of Khon Kaen in advance of May’s Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation meetings, with the municipal authorities offering free painting services for any buildings in the city whose owners can stump up the paint.

Khon Kaen does not often find itself in the international limelight, but on May 21-30 it is due to host an official meeting of senior APEC officials, closely followed by the APEC trade ministers’ meeting on June 2-3.

With over 10,000 people likely to descend on the town for the two conferences, the municipality decided to do a bit of spring cleaning. And the finished product will boost tourism to the city long after the trade ministers have left.

The municipality is busy training 100 painters - mainly people with low incomes - to decorate buildings across the town. And what’s more, the services of these painters will come completely free, with the owners of buildings along the town’s major thoroughfares only paying for the cost of paint, and the municipality paying all labor charges.

The town is also rushing to improve its overall appearance, with pride of place going to a new city gate worth 9 million baht. Twinkling lights on city buildings will cost 1 million baht, while 640,000 baht is being spent on new street signs and 2.2 million baht on new street lights.

Khon Kaen Mayor Suraphol Chueachomkul says that city residents have been called on to ensure that the town is neat and beautiful to receive its international guests, and has warned local shop owners and service providers that they must not increase their prices for the international visitors.