HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

Emirates’ launch-flights arrive in Auckland

“Andaman Pearl” and “Lanna Heaven” counter promotions

‘Culture taxis’ to whisk tourists round Bangkok

ASEAN joins with regional giants in bid to revive tourism

Helicopter flights to take tourists to view Thailand’s scenic mountain

Nai Lert Park hotel to retain name

Emirates’ launch-flights arrive in Auckland

Maurice Flanagan, vice chairman and group president, arrived on the second inaugural flight, from Melbourne, and was greeted by the mayor of Manukau City, Sir Barry Curtis. Sheikh Ahmed’s delegation included New Zealander Gary Chapman, president Dnata and Associated Companies; Ghaith Al Ghaith, executive vice president commercial operations worldwide; and Ram Menen, senior vice president cargo.

New Zealand’s prime minister expressed her delight with Emirates’ new services to New Zealand and was pleased that the routes were launched only nine months after she had visited Dubai and discussed the possibility with Sheikh Ahmed and Maurice Flanagan.

Sheikh Ahmed, making his first visit to New Zealand, said, “We hope our new service to Auckland will help to enhance the relationship between the UAE and New Zealand and bring more tourists and business travelers to your country.”

The new services offer passengers the choice of 14 flights weekly across the Tasman Sea with the further choice of two Australian gateways. On October 26, those numbers will increase when Emirates launches a new daily service to Brisbane, which will continue on to Auckland. Flights via Sydney and Brisbane will provide convenient connections from the Middle East, while flights via Melbourne increase the options for the Australian traveler.

Emirates plans to provide a major boost to the Auckland route by operating the new Airbus A340, non-stop between Dubai and Sydney and onwards to Auckland from December.

Emirates Holidays has also produced two packages enabling leisure travelers to experience the spectacular New Zealand landscape with the self-drive option. The North Island tour takes in Auckland, Pauanui, Rotorua, Napier and Wellington. The South Island Adventure includes Christchurch, Dunedin, Te Anau and Queenstown.

Cargo loads on both inaugural flights were full with shipments for Singapore, Sydney/Melbourne in addition to Auckland. Shipments into Auckland comprise spare parts, personal effects and electrical goods while fresh produce is expected to form most shipments out of Auckland.

“Andaman Pearl” and “Lanna Heaven” counter promotions

Pushed by Pattanapong Aikwanich of Phuket Tourist Association

Phitsanu Thepthong and Pichitpol Tongtuek

A trade mission consisting of mainly private sector tourism-related businesses from the South came up to meet with Chiang Mai tourism operators and tourist-related business counterparts for mutual business talks and sales. It was held at the Empress Hotel, Chiang Mai.

The opening ceremony of the Lanna Exhibition under the Chao Doi Chom Le (hill tribes view sea) tourism program organized by Chiang Mai Chamber of Commerce at Phuket last month. Here permanent secretary of Ministry of Tourism and Sports Chadej Insawang (center) was honored to jointly cut the ribbon marking the opening of the exhibition and fair. He is flanked by Phuket Governor Pongpayom Wasaputi (left) and Chiang Mai Governor Suwat Tantipat (right).

Pattanapong Aikwanich of Phuket Tourist Association said about 900,000 Thai domestic tourists have been visiting Phuket, a major tourist spot in the South during the low tourist season. “With a total number of 3-4 million visitors both Thai and foreign travelers visiting Phuket, annually, this generates about 69,000 million baht a year,” he said.

To assist contra promotions, he said both international and domestic airline services like Thai Airways International (THAI) could help promote and advance Chiang Mai’s status and link domestic flights with the Northeast and Southern region and then internationally.

With the government policy promoting Chiang Mai and Phuket provinces as regional aviation hubs of the northern and southern regions, Phuket and Chiang Mai Tourism Associations and representatives of tour agents in Phuket are setting up special tour programs, called “Andaman Pearl” and “Lanna Heaven” promotional campaigns.

More than 30 hotels and resorts are joining in this one year long Andaman Pearl package program, which is divided into 5 packages - Golden Pearl, Black Pearl, Blue Pearl, Pink Pearl and White Pearl package. The price starts at 1,950 baht including 2 nights hotel accommodation with breakfast, free transfers between the airport and the hotel, half-day city tour and a dinner. Tourists can buy packages from authorized agents in Chiang Mai.

For more information about “Andaman Pearl” tour package, please contact Phuket Tourist Association, tel. (076) 222 177- 8, Fax (076) 354 139 e-mail: [email protected] and for details on the “Lanna Heaven” package contact Boonlert Perera, the president of Chiang Mai Business Association tel. (053) 270823.

‘Culture taxis’ to whisk tourists round Bangkok

Bangkok’s tuk-tuks may be the capital’s most famous form of transport, but soon they could be overtaken by the humble taxi thanks to an initiative by the Ministry of Culture to introduce ‘culture taxis’ to the City of Angels.

Under the scheme, announced by the ministry, together with Rajabhat Institute Suan Sunanta, the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration’s Tourism Promotion Division, and the National Culture Office, taxi drivers will help publicize the uniqueness of Thai culture, together with the famous ‘Siamese smile’ and good manners.

The first batch of 150 taxi drivers began training on 12 August, with the training program focusing on cultural studies and English language skills. On successful completion of the course they will be able to display a prominent ‘culture taxi’ sign to show their status. (TNA)

ASEAN joins with regional giants in bid to revive tourism

Ministers from the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) have joined hands with their counterparts from China, Japan and South Korea to announce a drive to boost the region’s battered tourism industry by encouraging greater intra-regional travel, cooperating to prevent terrorism, and promoting tourism among extra-regional market groupings.

Speaking after the first ASEAN+3 meeting of tourism ministers, convened in the wake of the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) crisis, Tourism and Sports Minister Sontaya Kunpluem said that the meeting had signed a ‘Beijing Charter’ pledging cooperation in the revival of the region’s tourism industry.

“The charter stated with confidence that SARS was a short-term problem and countries in Southeast Asia and the Far East still remain among the most popular tourism destinations in the world,” Sontaya said.

Sontaya stressed that Thailand’s tourism industry has bounced back quickly after the SARS crisis, but warned that other factors - most particularly terrorism - as evidenced by last week’s bombing of the Marriott hotel in Jakarta, remained a threat to the region’s tourism industry. He urged the meeting to quickly draw up measures to boost cooperation and to ensure the continuation of tourist confidence.

The meeting passed six unanimous resolutions. First, it described tourism as an important bridge for global friendship, which also played a vital role in promoting economic and social development and in creating the roots of international peace.

Second, the meeting noted that the tourism industry was volatile in the face of external events, whether natural disasters, terrorism, politics or health concerns. The ministers will cooperate in drawing up a system to boost the efficiency and effectiveness of tourism collaboration, and to extend and amend all stages of tourism security measures.

Third, the ministers observed that tourism was caught up in the natural flow of persons from one country to another. This in turn led to problems of administration. To help combat this, the countries present at the meeting agreed that their respective tourism agencies would exchange data, experiences and tools in order to facilitate tourism and ensure maximum ease of travel, while if a crisis should occur, the country affected would solve the problem and issue warnings to the other countries in the grouping.

Fourth, the ministers agreed to amend procedures for crossing international boundaries, in particular for members of the regional grouping, to facilitate intra-regional travel. Fifth, the meeting agreed to upgrade the quality of regional tourism and ensure tourism safety. Finally, the ministers stressed that the SARS crisis had now disappeared, and that the member countries were waiting to receive tourists with open arms. (TNA)

Helicopter flights to take tourists to view Thailand’s scenic mountain

Thousands of visitors who make the arduous trek up one of Thailand’s most popular mountains might soon be able to spare their leg muscles, thanks to plans to introduce helicopter flights up Phu Kradeung.

Aphinan Plotpliew, president of Eco Flying Service Co. Ltd., said that the company would introduce helicopter services taking tourists up the mountain in the north-eastern province of Loei from 15 October this year, after having received a license from the Royal Forest Department to provide flights to elderly people unable to make the climb.

The twin-engine helicopters will be able to take eight passengers, taking only 15 minutes to fly from the tourist service center at the base of the mountain to the summit.

Although at 2,000 baht, the flights are not cheap, but the company is confident of getting customers. When proposals to introduce the flights were aired at a recent tourism fair in Bangkok, over 3,000 people expressed an interest, with 1,000 people already having booked places.

Citing statistics showing that around 80,000 visitors climbed the mountain last year, Loei Governor Phairat Phochanachai said that discussions were also underway to build a cable car up the mountain. He predicted that 120,000 visitors would flock to the mountain this year, generating extra tourism revenue for the province. (TNA)

Nai Lert Park hotel to retain name

Contrary to earlier reports, the hotel from which Hilton is exiting on December 31 will not be named Swissotel, but will be called the Nai Lert Park, Bangkok, - a Raffles International Hotel.

Dispelling any doubts, the owner and managing director of the property, Ms Bilaibhan Sampatisiri, told TTG Asia that Raffles had agreed the property had its own distinctive history and heritage which should not be diluted.

Ms Bilaibhan said the new general manager of the hotel would be Mr Blaise Montandon, a Swiss national and one of Raffles’ most experienced staff. He will take up his new position at the hotel on September 1. (TTG Asia)