HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

Hotels offering special price deals

TAT and Phuket tourist associations launch special package to tempt tourists

Amari Watergate receives award from deputy prime minister

Air-India curtails flights to Singapore

Thai families offered by 70% savings on domestic tour programs

Travel companies fear for their survival over the next 6 months Government assistance package of 3 billion baht may not be enough

Hotels offering special price deals

But get a Thai citizen to book it!

Autsadaporn Kamthai

The general manager of Imperial Mae Ping Hotel, Vorapong Muchaotai, told Chiangmai Mail that the Imperial Hotels Group has a special promotion discount rate of 500 baht + + (room only) at the hotel.

Vorapong Muchaotai, the general manager of Imperial Mae Ping Hotel in Chiang Mai.

The Association of Domestic Travel (ADT), Bangkok, has promoted the "Special Price" project supported by the government’s policy to help solve the economic problems in the tourism industry.

The hotel group was urged to discount the rates by the ADT, and the deputy prime minister, Somkid Jatusripitak, since the tourism industry is facing a depressed situation caused by the (unfounded) SARS fears and the Iraq war.

The room only promotion will only run to May 15 this year. The promotion is for Thai citizen hotel guests. The special discount will be given to those who reserve a hotel room in one of 10 destinations at Association of Thai Travel Agents (ATTA). People who book through ATTA have to show the ATTA voucher at the check-in counter. Only 20 rooms weekdays and 10 at weekends will be put aside for this special deal.

The scheme covers 6 participating hotels including the Imperial Mae Ping Hotel, Chiang Mai; the Imperial Tara Mae Hong Son Hotel, Mae Hong Son; the Imperial Golden Triangle Resort, Chiang Rai; the Imperial Phuket Hill Resort, Petchaboon; Eurasia Chiang Mai Hotel and the Imperial Chiang Mai Resort, Chiang Mai.

TAT and Phuket tourist associations launch special package to tempt tourists

The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) in cooperation with Phuket Tourist Business Association, Thai Hotels Association, Southern Chapter and Bangkok Airways is launching three attractive packages for visitors to Phuket. Valid from April 16-July 31, a three-day/two-night package includes return airfare, two nights’ accommodation, airport transfer and breakfast.

Prices range from 5,950, 6,550, 6,950 and 7,550 baht per person, depending on the choice of hotel.

Travelers can buy optional tours with discounts under Phuket City Tour and Phuket Fantasy programs, or June Bahtra cruise. For bookings call Suan Sukhothai at 02-265-5805; NS Travel 02-246-5659; C&P Travel 02-266-3901; and Bangkok Air Tour 02-255-8964-8.

Amari Watergate receives award from deputy prime minister

Deputy Prime Minister H.E. Korn Dabaransri recently presented an award to Pierre Andre Pelletier, general manager of Amari Watergate Hotel for supporting the Sporty Award 2003 event at the hotel.

Air-India curtails flights to Singapore

Flights reduced from 14 to 10

In view of low passenger demand on flights operated between India and Singapore due to SARS, and the directive issued by the Indian Pilots’ Guild (IPG) asking its members not to operate flights to Singapore, Air India decided to effect changes in its flight schedules to Singapore.

Air-India which currently operates 14 services a week to Singapore from four Indian cities - Mumbai, Chennai, Delhi and Hyderabad now operate only 10 flights per week. This initiative was implemented on April 21. These flights will now operate from only two Indian cities, Mumbai and Chennai. Flights from Hyderabad and Delhi are being temporarily suspended.

Flights to Kuala Lumpur and Jakarta - the two destinations in South-east Asia, to which some of the Singapore flights are extended in the normal schedule, will also be temporarily discontinued.

A spokesman of Air-India said, "The airline had to effect these changes in the flight schedule keeping in view the availability of executive pilots to operate the services to Singapore."

Executive pilots are also being deployed by Air-India for operating flights to Hong Kong and Kuwait. In April, the India Pilots Guild asked its members not to operate flights to Hong Kong, due to SARS, and to Kuwait, because of the war in Iraq.

However, management has taken all effective measures possible to ensure that the crew operating flights were not exposed to SARS by eliminating the need for an overnight halt.

Flights to Kuwait have been operated safely throughout the period of the Iraq war by Air-India and many other airlines, as the air space has been regarded safe for civil aviation.

Thai families offered by 70% savings on domestic tour programs

Thai families are to be offered massive savings of up to 70 percent on domestic tour programs in a bid to boost domestic tourism in the wake of losses in international tourism revenue due to fears over Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS).

Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak conceded that while SARS was affecting tourism across Asia, including Thailand, it had also helped kick-start domestic tourism with fewer Thais traveling abroad.

"During this time when tourists are scared by SARS, I have discussed with tour and travel companies measures to drive domestic tourism while Thai schools are having vacations. We will also make preparations to deal with international visitors once the SARS scare has died down," Somkid said.

Somkid said that special promotions would focus on family vacations, with savings of around 70 percent on travel and accommodation, adding that he had also suggested that tour companies offer prizes for families traveling within Thailand. At the same time, he urged tour companies to look to tourism markets abroad, focusing on markets for which tourism numbers remained high such as Japan and Scandinavia.

Playing down the impact of SARS on the tourism industry, the deputy PM called on tour companies to refrain from laying off their staff. He suggested that company executives sacrificed some of their salaries for the sake of their companies.

Thai Airways International Plc (THAI) president Kanok Abhiradee said that the airline would organize integrated package tours with special discounts for Thai families. He hinted, however, that discounts might not be as high as 70 percent, as the companies concerned could not be allowed to run tour programs at a loss. (TNA)

Travel companies fear for their survival over the next 6 months Government assistance package of 3 billion baht may not be enough

The government has promised to help the beleaguered Thai travel industry which has been hit hard by the SARS outbreak. To soften the blow, an ‘emergency package’ credit line of three billion baht has been pledged by the SME Development Bank.

Under the agreement the SME Development Bank would lend between 500,000 baht and three million baht to each tourism-related company requiring assistance. The loans must be repaid within two years and carry a 6% interest rate, which is just below market levels.

But tourism operators say this sum may not be sufficient to carry them through the crisis. Industry leaders say the next 6 months will be critical and without more help many companies will not survive. They are asking that government extend its support by providing tax breaks and other incentives, including a reduction or exemption from value added tax (VAT).

Suparerk Soorangura, president of the Association of Thai Travel Agents (ATTA) said, "In addition to loans for working capital we also need to slash expenses. A reduction in VAT would help immensely. The damage to the industry so far has been estimated at 40 billion baht, and many of the more than 3,000 member companies in various associations could go under."

The Tourism Authority of Thailand has forecast foreign tourist arrivals to fall by about 25% in the second quarter due to the SARS outbreak. Expected arrivals for the full year could drop to 10.56 million.

In response, Deputy Prime Minister Dr. Somkid Jatusripitak has urged tour agencies to promote campaigns that include huge discounts that would entice Thais to boost domestic travel. (TNA)