HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

Chiang Mai and Phuket link up

Emirates increases non-stop flights to Perth

New Bangkok International Airport steps up construction

Most Air-India flight schedules now back to normal

Lychee and Good Things Festival in Chiang Rai May 23 - June 6

Special Lanna Tour packages

Accor launches ‘Cool Deals’ campaign to boost domestic market

Chiang Mai and Phuket link up

Hopes that domestic travelers will replace international ones

Autsadaporn Kamthai

Chiang Mai and Phuket Tourism Business Associations will launch a new direct flight by Phuket Airlines flying between Chiang Mai and Phuket in September this year. This is an attempt to exchange domestic tourists between the two provinces and cope with the SARS crisis, declared Boonlert Pelera, president of Chiang Mai Tourism Business Association.

Phuket Airlines are proposing two flights per week (between Chiang Mai and Phuket). The flight will cost less than 8,000 baht a ticket, which will be cheaper than previously and this new direct flight should help tourism businesses in Chiang Mai and Phuket during the low season.

Tourism businesses in both provinces have faced the most difficult time during the past few months since the Gulf War and fears of a SARS epidemic. During the past few months, tourist arrivals in Chiang Mai have gone down alarmingly; Chinese down by 50%, Europeans and others 25-40%, this on top of the usual low season dip could spell disaster for some tourist related businesses said Boonlert.

As well as Phuket, Chiang Mai has also targeted Koh Chang in Trat Province, Surat Thani and Hat Yai in Songkla, but all these routes are still in the stages of planning and coordination.

Emirates increases non-stop flights to Perth

Passengers and cargo customers will benefit from greater choice now that Emirates has increased its flights between Dubai and Perth in Western Australia from four times weekly to daily. The extra flights provide capacity for 900 extra passengers per week and an additional 45 to 50 tons of cargo.

Ghaith Al Ghaith, Commercial Operations director said that the increase was a result of strong demand.

This expansion of its Perth services means that Emirates will fly daily to three Australian cities - Sydney, Melbourne and Perth, a total of 21 flights weekly. On 26 October, a fourth city will be added when daily services start between Dubai and Brisbane.

Flights to Sydney and Melbourne are currently routed via Singapore, but, in a further development, flights between Dubai and Sydney will become non-stop on 26 October when Emirates introduces the new ultra long range Airbus A340-500 aircraft on the route.

New Bangkok International Airport steps up construction

In an effort to meet pressing deadlines and speed up construction the New Bangkok International Airport (NBIA) has approved three more projects. Acting NBIA president Somchai Somprasong said the move was made to ensure the new airport opens as scheduled.

The three new projects that have been approved include a 885.5 million baht soil quality improvement project in front of the NBIA warehouse to be operated by Ch Karnchang - the country’s leading construction firm, a 576 million baht underground tunnel project for electric trains to be undertaken by the ITO Joint Venture Group, and a 1.17 billion baht soil quality improvement project at the NBIA parking area to be undertaken by Kanpangpet Vivat Construction and Econ Corporation.

According to Somchai, the construction progress rate at the new airport is about 31 percent, which is 6 percent slower than the set target.

Most Air-India flight schedules now back to normal

All Air-India flights which are routed via Delhi to Western destinations returned to operating as per the normal schedule on May 7.

Air-India’s flight schedule was temporarily disrupted by a pilot’s dispute but has been almost completely restored. All flights to various destinations in the Gulf are also being operated.

Flights to Nairobi/Dar-es-Salaam, which had been temporarily discontinued, were resumed on May 12.

Flights on the Mumbai-Chennai-Singapore sector are being stepped up to three per week and are expected to gradually go up in the coming weeks. These flights will be operated on Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays.

Flights to Hong Kong, also temporarily suspended due poor demand are not being restored for the present. Flights on the India-Bangkok sector via Guwahati will also remain cancelled till September 14, 2003.

Lychee and Good Things Festival in Chiang Rai May 23 - June 6

When you’re on a good thing, stick to it!

Nuttanee Thaveephol

Chiang Rai Governor Narin Panichkit said that this year, the 28th Lychee festival will be arranged at Mae Korn Market, Muang District, Chiang Rai. There will be many activities such as sales of lychee and other agricultural products, lychee eating competitions, beauty contest, Thai boxing competition, rally, cockfighting bouts, tea making demonstration, concert, singing and dancing contests and One Tambon - One Product stalls.

Chiang Rai’s Lychee and Good Things Festival will run from May 23 - June 6 this year, aiming to promote the lychee market and boost local tourism. The opening ceremony will be at 4 p.m. on May 24 at Mae Korn market after the Lanna art and culture parade.

Narin said that lychee is one of Chiang Rai’s important economic cash crops and has made Chiang Rai famous for some time, and the lychee growing areas cover more than 53,000 rai.

Special Lanna Tour packages

Tell your friends - for a limited period only

Nantanee Jedsadachaiyut

The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT), Chiang Mai Office in cooperation with the Chiang Mai Tourist Business Association and Bangkok Airways offer a Kularb Lanna Package tourism promotional campaign to encourage tourists to visit Chiang Mai.

There are three promotional tour packages on air routes Bangkok-Chiang Mai-Bangkok for 3,900 baht per person, Phuket-Chiang Mai-Phuket: 7,900 baht per person, and Koh Samui (island) -Chiang Mai-Koh Samui for 8,900 baht person.

The Kularb Lanna Packages also include Bangkok Airways flights and two nights stay in a hotel including two breakfasts and limousine transfers to Chiang Mai Airport, cultural tours in the city and half-day participation in local handicrafts workshop and demonstrations.

There are also 10 optional tours at special prices for the tourists who buy the Kularb Lanna Packages.

Chalermsak Suranan, the director of TAT, Northern Region 1, Chiang Mai Office said besides aiming to persuade tourists to travel to Chiang Mai, this campaign follows the TAT project, called "Unseen in Thailand", and to minimize the impact of the SARS scare on tourism.

For reservations from May 15-October 31, 2003, contact Pink Rose Holidays (in Bangkok) tel. 02 255-8966; (Chiang Mai) tel. 053 276 613; Suan Sukhothai (Bangkok) tel. 02 265-5805; Bangkok Airways (Chiang Mai) tel. 053 276 176, members of the Chiang Mai Tourist Business Association; Arawan P.U.C. (Chiang Mai) tel. 053 274 212, (Bangkok) tel. 02 225-7415; Manit Travel Co (Chiang Mai) tel. 053 235 412, (Bangkok) tel. 02 958-6150; or Standard Tour (Chiang Mai) tel. 053 204 520, (Bangkok) 02 693-2061.

Accor launches ‘Cool Deals’ campaign to boost domestic market

Accor is launching a ‘Cool Deals’ campaign in Thailand, Cambodia and Laos with outstanding rates for Thai citizens and expatriate residents until 30 September 2003.

The promotion includes some of the finest hotels in Bangkok and beyond, featuring attractive rates that allow guests to enjoy the local culture, shop, relax by the pool or enjoy a soothing massage.

Participating hotels in Bangkok include Sofitel Silom (2,050 baht); Sofitel Central Plaza Bangkok (2,731 baht on weekdays and 2,600 baht on weekends); Novotel Bangkok on Siam Square (1,850 baht); Novotel Lotus Bangkok (1,690 baht on weekdays and 1,490 baht on weekends); Novotel Bangna Bangkok (1,479 baht on weekdays and 1,202 baht on weekends) and Regency Park (1,120 baht).

Resort hotels outside Bangkok joining this campaign are the historic Sofitel Central Hua Hin Resort (3,290 baht on weekdays and 4,290 baht on weekends); Sofitel Raja Orchid Khon Kaen (1,450 baht); Novotel Coralia Rim Pae Rayong (1,277 baht on weekdays and 1,777 baht on weekends); Novotel Coralia Phuket (2,000 baht); Novotel Chiang Mai (1,000 baht); Novotel Central Sukhontha HatYai (1,600 baht) and Panwa Beach Resort (1,100 baht).

Sofitel Royal Angkor in Cambodia and Novotel Vientiane in Laos also are offering special rates of US$120 (including breakfast) and 1,800 baht respectively.

Rates are per night for room only for one or two persons and inclusive of VAT and service charge. Inquiries and bookings can be made at Tel: 02 237 6064.