HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

US-led Iraq war already resulting in decreased tourism numbers

Qantas aiming for Rotary business

Thailand’s special package deals for tourists aim to counteract war jitters

Orient Thai now flies direct to Hong Kong

US-led Iraq war already resulting in decreased tourism numbers

Domestic tourism could be key to survival

Ampai Kuntawong

Prasit Sirisrisakulchai, former president of the Lampang Tourism Association, said that tourism all over the world has already been affected by the US-Iraq war, as many foreign tourists are postponing their travel plans to observe the war situation.

In turn this is causing a crisis for tourism related businesses in Thailand. In Lampang, the number of European tourists has decreased by 30% and it is expected that numbers will decrease further.

However, Prasit believes that if the war is over within 3 months, the situation for Thai tourism will begin to improve from the end of this year to the beginning of next year.

Chetnarong Kuankaew, current president of the Lampang Tourism Association, stated that the tourist numbers in next month will be a clearer indication on how severe this situation will be.

Chetnarong agreed with the domestic tourism marketing campaign and the policy of promoting Thailand as a healthy tourist destination after the war. He also said that Lampang Province is ready for this because there are many health oriented tourist destinations in Lampang.

Qantas aiming for Rotary business

Qantas Airways recently joined Far-East Air Trans Service & Tours to display the airline’s products and services during the Rotary Club national meeting organized at Impact Arena Muang Thong Thani exhibition center.

Ms Pranee Wangwiwatsil (seated left), Qantas/British Airways sales executive and Ms Sirin Atthabodeekul (seated right), Qantas/British Airways marketing executive with Sanchai Phetaratana (standing 2nd from right), Far-East Air Trans Service & Tours managing director and Ms Soraida Salwara (standing 2nd left), member of the Rotary Club Bangkok-Benjasiri. Others in the photo are Far-East Air Trans Service & Tours staff.

Thailand’s special package deals for tourists aim to counteract war jitters

Tourism Minister Sontaya Khunpluem has reiterated that nervousness over the Iraq war and fears of the deadly strain of pneumonia have already taken a toll on Thailand’s $8.5 billion tourism industry. “If the Iraq war drags on Thailand could see 50,000 fewer foreign visitors this year than in 2002,” he said.

Last year 10.8 million tourists visited Thailand, a rise of 7.3 percent from the previous year. Tourism revenue rose 11.5 percent to 360.6 billion baht, or $8.43 billion, adding up to 6.7 percent of the country’s gross domestic product.

“We are working on a special discount package to attract tourists. We are trying to make up for the lost number due to the war and the deadly flu virus,’’ Sontaya said.

Thailand has cut its forecast for 2003 tourism arrivals, a major source of foreign currency earnings, but still expects growth of 1.7 percent to 4.0 percent over last year, from a previous forecast of 6 percent.

The Tourist Authority of Thailand (TAT) believes attractive discounts for tour groups and hotels accommodations plus a continued saturation campaign overseas to promote the kingdoms’ unique culture, friendliness and safety could still produce very positive results.(TNA)

Orient Thai now flies direct to Hong Kong

Supatatt Dangkrueng

Orient Thai Airlines has begun direct flights from Chiang Mai to Hong Kong. The inaugural flight was preceded by a ceremony and reception at the Lotus Pang Suan Kaew Hotel on Sunday, March 30. It was presided over by Kajit Habanananda, advisor to the deputy minister of transport.

Kajit Habanananda gave a souvenir to Chao Duang Duen na Chiang Mai to mark the inauguration of the Chiang Mai-Hong Kong service.

Udom Tantiprasongchai, CEO & Managing Director of Orient Thai Airlines, officially launched the company’s Chiang Mai-Hong Kong route.

The first flight was fully booked with all 450 seats reserved. Udom Tantiprasongchai, CEO & managing director of Orient Thai Airlines, said this was a good sign that people had faith in the standards and security of the airline.

Udom said that following the success of the airline’s Chiang Mai to Hong Kong service new routes would be introduced in the near future. There will be new services from Bangkok to the Maldives, to Shanghai and Taipei and increased domestic shuttle flights.

Kajit Habanananda, advisor to deputy minister of transport presided over the inauguration ceremony.

Currently Orient Thai Airlines flies from Bangkok to Hong Kong, Seoul, and Singapore. It uses four 450 seat Boeing 747s and one Lockheed Tristar with 302 seats.

Kajit said three factors now affecting international transport were the War in the Gulf, the SARS virus flu spreading in Asian countries and unstable oil prices.