TRAVEL & TOURISM
HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

President of the Constitutional Court Office at the Amari Watergate Hotel

Emirates declares record-breaking profits

Travelers urged to discover the enchantments of Phang Nga

TAT’s “Unseen in Thailand” guide features great places to visit off the beaten track

Health Minister confirms Thailand’s national airline is SARS-free

Air New Zealand reduces international capacity

Tourist industry wants bailout from NESDB to the tune of 2.9 billion baht to curb downturn

President of the Constitutional Court Office at the Amari Watergate Hotel

Pierre-Andre Pelletier (center), general manager of the Amari Watergate Hotel, recently welcomed Kamol Tongdhamachart (2nd left), president of the Constitutional Court Office, upon his arrival to preside over the opening ceremony of a seminar and ceremony to celebrate the Office of the Constitutional Court’s 5th Anniversary. The event was organized by the office and Konrad Adenauer Stifung International Cooperation and held at the Amari Watergate Hotel. Also participating were Dr Chaowana Traimas (left), director of the Institute of Constitutional Studies, Nichaya Chaivisuth (2nd right), public relations director at the Amari Watergate Hotel, and Chetsada Techaprasertporn (right), executive assistant manager of the hotel.


Emirates declares record-breaking profits

The Emirates Group has declared a 74 per cent increase in net profits to Dhs1.05 billion ($285.7 million) for the financial year 2002/3, ended on 31st March 2003, driven by the growing confidence of its customers in the airline and travel-related group of companies.

The average passenger seat factor rose to 76.6 per cent, breaking all previous records and cargo represented 19.6 of the airline’s revenue.

Emirates’ chairman, His Highness Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al-Maktoum said, "As I travel around our network, journalists always ask the same question - what is the secret? I am convinced the answer is our passion for quality, which surfaces throughout the group wherever we do business."

The growth of Emirates goes hand-in-hand with the growth of Dubai. At the airport, the government is making a crucial, multi-million dollar investment in a new, revolutionary expansion of the already futuristic complex which will increase the capacity to 60 million passengers a year by 2012 - and in a mega-cargo center capable of handling one million tons of freight, providing Emirates with an exclusive terminal from 2007.


Travelers urged to discover the enchantments of Phang Nga

Koh Phra Thong in the southern province of Phang Nga is to be highlighted as one of the new tourist destinations in accordance with the government’s tourism promotional campaign to spur domestic travel.

Anupap Therarat, director of Tourist Association of Thailand (TAT) Southern Region office said that the south of Thailand has much potential. Now some of these interesting but less publicized places are being touted through TAT’s new tourism campaign, "Unseen Thailand".

"Phang Nga is one of the destinations where travelers can find unspoiled islands such as Koh Phra Thong, Koh Surin, and Koh Similan," Anupap said.

Koh Surin and Koh Similan are better-known among scuba divers but only a few know that the two islands are in Pang Nga and not in Phuket.

Koh Phra Thong has a distinctive characteristic featuring savanna, a habitat of samba deer, and local plants. Shallow-water and deep-water coral reefs reveal beautiful marine life.

Koh Phra Thong is conveniently located 20 minutes from shore by speedboat, or one hour traveling by long-tailed boat.

"The charming natural attractions, well-equipped facilities, and convenience in transportation will draw tourists to the island," Anupap said.

TAT will work with local tour operators to develop tourism management together with human resource.

Anupap added, "At present, foreigners are the majority of tourist groups visiting Koh Phra Tong. Soon more local tourists will discover this beautiful island. (TNA)


TAT’s “Unseen in Thailand” guide features great places to visit off the beaten track

The Tourism Authority of Thailand has published a Thai-language guide "Unseen in Thailand" with the support of Bangchak, Double A Paper and Singha Beer.

The 119-page book features Thailand’s lesser-known tourist attractions backed by spectacular photographs of places that are simple but fascinating.

There are tips on how to get there, maps and the best time to visit. The guide is priced at 150 baht, but if you buy at Bangchak petrol stations or Double A Paper outlets the price is only 25 baht. The offer is valid until June. For more details, call 02-941-1420-1. (TNA)


Health Minister confirms Thailand’s national airline is SARS-free

Public Health Minister Sudarat Keyuraphan, on May 14, reiterated assurances that passengers traveling with Thai Airways International Plc. (THAI) do not run a risk of contracting Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), while confirming World Health Organization (WHO) reports that Thai agricultural products are also free of the flu-like killer virus.

Speaking after officially receiving 100,000 plastic gloves from Japanese company Siam Mount Plastics, to offer protection, the public health minister said that the WHO’s representative in Thailand had issued a statement on May 1 confirming that Thailand was not at risk from SARS, and that the country’s agricultural products were also safe.

Sudarat praised the public and private sectors’ cooperation in combating the SARS outbreak, saying that the private sector had already donated a total of over 1 million baht in cash and several million baht worth of goods, which had now been handed over to the special SARS Control Center.

The health minister also stressed that travel on THAI flights did not put passengers at risk from contracting SARS, saying that the airline had worked closely with the Ministry of Public Health and had screened passengers both prior to departure from SARS-infected countries and on arrival in Thailand. Passengers arriving by land or sea were also subject to similar screenings. (TNA)


Air New Zealand reduces international capacity

Air New Zealand recently announced that the airline has reduced its international capacity through to the end of September 2003.

This means that service cancellations and the move to smaller aircraft previously announced for May and June have been extended to incorporate the months of July, August and September, and some new cancellations have been introduced to Singapore and Taipei services.

These changes represent a further 2% reduction in total available capacity across the airline’s international network.

Air New Zealand’s managing director and CEO, Ralph Norris emphasised, "This move was a prudent business response to a clearly changed air travel environment due to SARS."

Air New Zealand has also deferred the introduction of an additional Boeing 767-300 aircraft planned for December 2003, but remains committed to the introduction of its new A320 fleet.


Tourist industry wants bailout from NESDB to the tune of 2.9 billion baht to curb downturn

As the SARS outbreak continues to negatively impact Thailand’s tourism, the Tourist Authority of Thailand (TAT) has asked the National Economic and Social Development Board NESDB for 2.9 billion baht to use for marketing both locally and overseas.

Since tourism is a prime source of revenue for the nation, the additional budget could generate as much as 38 billion baht in foreign exchange, which would help soften the blow from the drop in tourist arrivals and the revenue they generate.

However, Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra has indicated he would prefer the industry heals itself rather than approve a request for government funding.

On a more positive note, Sonthaya Khunpluem, Minister for Tourism and Sport said, "Projections of foreign visitor arrivals and revenue could change as it is still early in the year. Aggressive marketing campaigns will start to bear fruit soon."

Meanwhile, there have already been positive signs in markets such as Australia and Japan. TAT recently staged successful road shows in the Japanese cities of Tokyo, Osaka and Fukuoka. TAT will also sign an agreement with 17 Japanese travel agents, which will commit to bringing 40,000 Japanese tourists to Thailand from June to September. Around 1.2 million Japanese tourists are expected to visit Thailand this year. (TNA)