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

SWISS passengers support SOS-Children’s’ Villages

Ambassadors tour Samui and Phuket islands compliments of TAT

Korat Zoo breeds extinct Thai crane

Phnom Rung likely to be made into world heritage site

Low-cost carrier preparing for takeoff

Thailand targets “Bollywood”

Virgin Atlantic becomes 21st airline to offer services between the UK and Australia

SWISS passengers support SOS-Children’s’ Villages

By means of coins and miles, SWISS clients are making a contribution to the SOS-Children’s Villages around the world. “Your small change can make a big change” is the motto of the campaign which SWISS is conducting on board its flights. The most recent project in Italy has now been implemented thanks to the generous contributions by clients.

The SOS Holiday Village at Caldonazzo, near Trient in northern Italy will celebrate 50 years of existence on July 19, 2003. Every summer the village accommodates schoolchildren - about 35-40 kids at a time - from villages from all over Europe and provides them with holiday activities. SWISS is delighted that so many passengers have assisted with their contributions, thus bringing so much happiness to the children.


Ambassadors tour Samui and Phuket islands compliments of TAT

The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) invited ambassadors and their spouses from 30 countries to tour two of the kingdom’s most popular resort islands in an exercise designed to boost foreign confidence in the wake of the SARS heath scare.

The 30 couples from the United States, Europe, Japan and the Middle East, all of which are important markets for the upcoming tourism high season, were taken on a two-day tour of the islands of Samui and Phuket.

The TAT hopes that the trip will help assure foreign tourists that Thailand is safe from SARS. Although Thailand has repeatedly insisted its SARS-free status, it has inevitably been tarred with the same brush accorded to other countries in the region on the World Health Organization’s SARS warning list. (TNA)


Korat Zoo breeds extinct Thai crane

Korat Zoo has successfully bred two Thai sarus cranes which have become extinct in the wild, according to director general of the Zoological Park Organization. Expressing pleasure at the success of the breeding program, Sophon Dumnui, who is also deputy president of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) zoological association, said that it had taken several years to breed the young cranes and visiting tourists have been very surprised and delighted since these birds are so rare.

Sophon said that in December he will bring the breeding program to the attention of the ASEAN zoological association when it meets in Singapore to show them Thai conservation programs. The breeding program will continue in order to ensure that a large number of cranes are bred so some can eventually be released into the wild. (TNA)


Phnom Rung likely to be made into world heritage site

The Khmer monument Phnom Rung in Thailand’s northeastern province of Buriram looks set to be made into a world heritage site.

Arak Sanghitkul, Deputy Permanent Secretary for Culture said that he had asked the Department of Fine Arts to draw up a new classification system for Thailand’s ancient monuments under new ministry criteria for dividing monuments into sites of national importance and world heritage sites.

“Monuments such as the Khmer Phnom Rung temple and Phu Phrabat in Buriram were likely to join the ancient capitals of Ayuthaya and Sukhothai as world heritage sites under the supervision of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO),” Arak said, adding that the scheme would also include local customs and ways of life.

Arak added, however, that the registration of ancient monuments had run into long delays, and that only 1,000 of the country’s 5,000-odd monuments had been surveyed. He said he has asked directors of archeological offices across the country to survey monuments in all provinces so that the registration process could proceed. (TNA)


Low-cost carrier preparing for takeoff

Orient Thai Airways (OX) is making final preparations to launch a no-frills airline that will begin operating throughout Thailand at the end of the year offering fares one third less than established operators. Services will be from Bangkok to eight domestic destinations using 220-seat Boeing 757s and 160-seat Boeing 737s.

The company’s managing director Udom Tantiprasongchai said there will be 14 flights a day to Chiang Mai and Phuket; six flights a day to Had Yai, Chiangrai, Khon Kaen, Udon Thani and Ubon Ratchatani; and two flights daily to Surat Thani and Phitsanulok.

Udom said distribution would be via the Internet and through 7-Eleven retail outlets, but he believed most tickets would be purchased at Don Muang airport.

“We’re talking about flights every hour on the Chiang Mai and Phuket routes. I believe people will turn up and buy their ticket on the spot,” Udom said, adding that a website booking engine is under construction for those who wish to book in advance. He said typical fares would be 33 percent less than Thai Airways. Udom aims to inaugurate the first flights on December 5. (TTG Asia)


Thailand targets “Bollywood”

Indian film-makers will be a prime target for the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) when they visit the subcontinent in August for a four-day official visit.

TAT’s India expert, Somprasong Varamisra, said Indian film-makers had already made several films in Thailand, but he believed TAT had only touched the tip of the Bollywood iceberg. “We believe that film-making tourism is a niche with a very strong potential and India, which has the biggest film-industry in the world, is of great interest to us,” said Somprasong.

TAT representatives will be among a delegation of 100 Thai tourism, trade and investment officials visiting India from August 6-9. Their itinerary includes Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore and Madras. (TTG Asia)


Virgin Atlantic becomes 21st airline to offer services between the UK and Australia

Sir Richard Branson recently announced that Virgin Atlantic would become the 21st airline to offer services between the United Kingdom and Australia.

The Chief Financial Officer of Qantas, Peter Gregg, said Sir Richard and some others seemed to be under the impression that Virgin Atlantic would only be competing against British Airways, Qantas and Lauda Air. “In fact, they will also be competing against another 17 airlines, including Cathay Pacific, Malaysia Airlines, Thai Airways, Emirates, Japan Airlines, United Airlines, Air New Zealand and, of course, Singapore Airlines which owns 49 per cent of Virgin Atlantic. Qantas competes with all these airlines on a daily basis.”

Gregg said he would be very interested if Virgin Atlantic managed to obtain rights to fly to Australia via Hong Kong because, despite trying for many years, Qantas had been unable to obtain the rights to fly between the United Kingdom and Australia via Hong Kong.