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

“Privilege Card” soon on sale

KLM receives first passenger to ticket his flight electronically

Guide profession to be reserved for Thais

Lufthansa introduces medically based relaxation program on board

THAI wants budget partner

TAT dives into the US

South African Airways to suspend Bangkok-Johannesburg link

Dragonair launches flights to Bangkok in November

“Privilege Card” soon on sale

The first set of Thailand’s ‘privilege card’ for affluent tourists will be in service domestically on 15 September, with an overseas launch of the card in major cities to be followed soon.

Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra has agreed with the ‘privilege card’ project approved by the cabinet, said Tourist Authority of Thailand (TAT) Governor Juthamas Siriwan, adding that a company owned by the TAT, named Thailand Privilege Card Company, would run the project.

The card called “Thailand Elite” ensures that card holders will be treated as the country’s special guests. The project will also be launched in overseas markets, promoted mainly through advertisements in magazines. Targeted cities in which the project will be launched include New York, Paris, London, and Tokyo.

“The privileges will include special discounts on local golf course membership, medical treatments, hotel room rates and others,” Juthamas said. “Sixty-two hotels, 26 spas, 14 hospitals and world-class golf courses have confirmed their willingness to participate in the project,” she added. (TNA)


KLM receives first passenger to ticket his flight electronically

KLM Royal Dutch Airlines recently congratulated Michael Leiper (left) as the first passenger to ticket his flight electronically via KLM’s enhanced online reservation and booking system at www.klm.co.th

Mr. Leiper was personally greeted on KLM’s Bangkok to Amsterdam flight KL878 by KLM Bangkok station manager, Hans Jeronimus, and the flight’s purser, Maria Monne, who presented him with a 50-euro tax-free shopping voucher. KLM is offering shopping vouchers worth up to 100 euro to all passengers who make an online booking through 30 September 2003. Mr. Leiper was also given a free upgrade to business class on the flight.


Guide profession to be reserved for Thais

Labor Minister Suwat Liptapanlop sought to allay the fears of Thai tours guides that their profession could be opened up to a flood of foreign nationals. Speaking on August 28 in response to protests by tour guides incensed by new regulations which they alleged would leave up to 30,000 Thai tour guides out of work, Suwat said that the tour guide profession would continue to be closed to foreign nationals.

While conceding that the Cabinet had approved new regulations allowing companies to hire foreign nationals in the tourist business, in accordance with suggestions made by the Ministry of Tourism and Sport to attract more foreign investment into the Thai tourism industry, Suwat stressed that the Ministry of Labor had imposed several conditions on the new rules.

Any tourism company wishing to hire a foreign national will have to possess 2 million baht in registered capital to hire just one person and the new regulations also prohibited companies from hiring more than 10 foreigners. In addition, companies will have to bring 5,000 tourists to Thailand each year to be eligible to hire foreigners. Requests by companies to hire foreign nationals will be considered on a case-by-case basis. (TNA)


Lufthansa introduces medically based relaxation program on board

How can you relieve pressure in your ears when an aircraft is descending to land? And how can you adjust your body clock to time changes? From 1 September, Lufthansa will be providing answers to many questions like these in its in-flight entertainment program.

The new relaxation channel in German and English combines techniques that can be applied immediately with well-sourced background information.

Dr. Lutz Bergau, who for many years headed Lufthansa’s Medical Service, discusses a number of topics, such as the specific pressure conditions on an aircraft. Passengers will find that the simple breathing and keep-fit exercises will enhance their flight experience. The exercises are also demonstrated on the Lufthansa Flyrobic video or the current in-flight entertainment program and further health tips can be viewed at www.lufthansa.com


THAI wants budget partner

Thai Airways international (THAI) appears to be backing off from earlier plan to launch a no-frills service in December, largely because it has not yet found a suitable partner.

A spokesman close to THAI’s chairman, Thanong Bidaya, told TTG Asia the airline did not want to operate a no-frills carrier itself, preferring to find a partner that had some experience in running a low-cost carrier.

“We see this as a highly-specialized field. We haven’t found the partner we’re looking for in Thailand so we’ve started looking further afield. We’ve talked with Virgin Blue and we’ll be talking with regional and European colleagues,” the spokesman said, adding the partner would be offered a stake of up to 49 per cent in the new venture.

THAI’s main contribution would be to provide ground handling and maintenance, and it might also be prepared to make some Boeing 737-400 aircraft available. But it insists it will not run the service. “We wish to be the facilitator only,” the THAI spokesman said. (TTG Asia)


TAT dives into the US

The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) will be leading a delegation of Thai dive operators to the DEMA Show, being held in Miami in the first week of October.

The dive delegation will be accommodated on the 400-square-meter Thailand Country Pavilion. In all there are 14,280 dive and travel industry professionals representing 721 professional organizations from around the world participating in this year’s show.

A TAT spokesman said Thailand, with more than 2,700km of coastline, is now seen as one of the world’s leading dive destinations. TAT deputy governor for international marketing, Phornsiri Manoharn, said, “International awareness of the quality and diversity of dive products and services and marine ecotourism opportunities in Thailand is high. What we have to do now is convert more of that awareness into holidays.” (TTG Asia)


South African Airways to suspend Bangkok-Johannesburg link

South African Airways is planning to suspend its thrice weekly Bangkok-Johannesburg service from November 1 until January 31, and may drop the service altogether.

A spokesman in Bangkok said nothing had been confirmed but the carrier’s 18 staff had been told the SAA system would not accept bookings from November 1 onwards. “We’re hoping the service will be re-instated sometime next year, but we aren’t certain just at the moment,” the spokesman said, claiming high operating costs, not bookings, were the problem. (TTG Asia)


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)