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

Mae Hong Son brainstorming for sustainable development

Japanese Prince Akishino participates in Thai tourism seminar

Railway Authority donates old trucks to make coral reefs

Myanmar relaxes FEC requirements

TravelwithPata.com anchors Project Phoenix online

Rolls-Royce wins US$350 million order from THAI

Dragonair launches flights to Bangkok in November

Mae Hong Son brainstorming for sustainable development

Nantanee Jedsadachaiyut

The House Committee for Tourism recently teamed up with Mae Hong Son Provincial Authorities to arrange a seminar titled, “Tourism and Local Organization Administration,” aimed at seeking effective strategies for developing sustainable tourism, and to strengthen the local tourism network.

The seminar was held at Tara Mae Hong Son Hotel.

Songsak Thongsri, president of House Committee for Tourism, and Somboon Praiwan, Mae Hong Son Member of Parliament presided over the opening ceremony and participated in the tourism panel discussion.

The seminar mainly focused on 3 important topics: “Summarization of Tourism in Thailand,” “The Importance of Local Organization Administration toward Tourism,” and “The Preparation of Action Plans for Tourism Budget Proposal.”

According to the government policy about sustainable development, the seminar would encourage both government officials and the private sector in Mae Hong Son to consider tourism management in term of sustainable tourism.

More than 300 people from the House Committee for Tourism, representatives form the government budget office, representative from the Ministry of Tourism and Sports, Mae Hong Son provincial offices, and local administration organizations engaged in the seminar.


Japanese Prince Akishino participates in Thai tourism seminar

His Imperial Highness Japanese Prince Akishino, who recently visited the Thai kingdom with his wife and daughter, gave a special lecture on ecotourism as part of an ecotourism and ornithology seminar organized by the Office of Tourism Development.

The office’s Director-General, Sasithara Phichaichannarong, said that Prince Akishino spoke before an audience of ecotourism experts at a seminar held at Khao Yai National Park.

Noting that ecotourism was growing in popularity among both domestic and foreign tourists, Sasithara stressed the importance of developing the ecotourism sector, in particular ornithology trips, in a manner that ensured the sustainability of the ecosystem.

Pointing to the fact that Thailand was home to a huge number of pristine environments suitable for tourism and study, with a wealth of birdlife including species native to the kingdom, he expressed hope that the seminar would help the Office of Tourism Development to draw up plans to protect local environments, solve problems, and develop ecotourism destinations, with a suitable dispersal of tourist revenue. (TNA)


Railway Authority donates old trucks to make coral reefs

One hundred ageing and disused railway trucks may not seem like much of a birthday present, but the gift presented on August 12 to Her Majesty Queen Sirikit by the State Railway of Thailand (SRT) will be instrumental in preserving some of the Kingdom’s rare and beautiful coral.

Sukaman Sritula, head of the SRT’s public relations division, explained that the SRT had selected 100 ageing freight trucks kept at the Makkasan, Nakhon Ratchasima and Uttradit engine workshops to present as a gift to HM the Queen in honor of her 71st birthday. The trucks will be used in Royal projects to revive coastal life in the southern provinces of Pattani and Narathiwat, where they will be made into artificial coral reefs.

The SRT has agreed to clean the trucks and remove unnecessary equipment, before sending the trucks to Chonburi, from where the Fisheries Department will load them onto boats to be taken to their final destinations.

This was the second time which the SRT had given trucks to HM the Queen, the first being in 2001, when 210 trucks were handed over. (TNA)


Myanmar relaxes FEC requirements

In a move welcomed by the travel trade, free independent travelers (FIT) visiting Myanmar no longer must buy the minimum US$200 worth of foreign exchange certificates (FEC) previously required by law.

US sanctions have caused the FEC, which is pegged to the US dollar, to depreciate in value. One FEC was equivalent to US$1.

Previously those with FIT visas had to buy the FEC upon arrival. They could make purchases using the FEC but some establishments did not want to accept the currency. It also meant that they had to spend at least 200 FEC (US$200) in the country. Only those who had bought in excess of US$200 could have the extra amount exchanged back to US dollars at the airport on their departure.

Meanwhile, US sanctions have also caused American banks such as MasterCard and Visa to temporarily cease trading since end July. Tourists going to the destination should bring cash or arrange for financial transfers with local operators. (TTG Asia)


TravelwithPata.com anchors Project Phoenix online

PATA has launched TravelWithPATA.com (www.travel withpata.com) as a one-stop consumer website featuring travel news, explanations and samples of travel advisories, airline and hotel offers, weather information, maps and currency exchange guides.

Detailed country guide information supplied by Lonely Planet will be added before the end of August. PATA President and CEO, Peter de Jong, said, “We aim for TravelWithPATA to become the first place travelers will go to when they need authoritative and insightful information about travel in Asia Pacific.”

This site is designed to help revive travel to and within Asia Pacific. TravelWith PATA.com will give a fuller and more balanced and forthright picture to help consumers make more highly informed decisions about Asia Pacific destinations.

TravelWithPATA.com also contains a section for airline and hotel offers from Project Phoenix contributors, updated exchange rates and weather information for many countries in the region. (TTG Asia)


Rolls-Royce wins US$350 million order from THAI

Rolls-Royce has won an order worth around $350 million from Thai Airways International (THAI) for Trent 500 engines to power eight long-range Airbus A340s. The order comprises five A340-600s and three A340-500s with deliveries commencing in March 2005.

THAI is an existing operator of the Rolls-Royce Trent engine family, having been the launch customer of the Trent 800 powered Boeing 777 which entered service in April 1996. Thai Airways International has a total of 14 Trent-powered aircraft in service, including eight Boeing 777-200s and six Boeing 777-300s.

Mike Terrett, President - Civil Aerospace, said, “This announcement further underlines the success of the Rolls-Royce Trent family of engines and the popularity of the Trent 500 powered A340s. We are delighted at the prospect of strengthening our relationship with Thai Airways International.”


Dragonair launches flights to Bangkok in November

Dragonair will start its twice-daily scheduled flights to Bangkok in November, according to the airline’s chief executive Stanley Hui, adding the service will be important in taking tourists from China to Thailand.

The first flights will be using the 150-seat Airbus 320 aircraft, which will be replaced next year by the 300-seat A330. Dragonair also has rights from Hong Kong to fly to Manila, Seoul, Tokyo and Sydney. (TTG Asia)