HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

Low cost airline will improve business, says tourist organizations

Air India Board approves fleet acquisition plan

Phuket to receive first international AirAsia flight

Finnair gives fewer points through the Internet

Offer made to buy ‘long-necked’ Padaung tribe families

“ICE” offers Emirates customers choice entertainment and convenience

SRT to compete with low cost airline

PATA preparing to come to Chiang Mai

Low cost airline will improve business, says tourist organizations

But have the low cost passengers money to spend?

Chin Ratitamkul

Low cost flights to Chiang Mai will be a reality soon. Charoen Wangananon, from the Chiang Mai Tourist Business Association, said that the low cost airline project would help lift tourism and travel because the fare would be below 1,000 baht one way.

“This rate will not be too high for middle class tourists and it would stimulate traveling across the provinces,” said Charoen who also expects that domestic travel would grow by 25 percent, compared to an average increase of only 10 percent a year previously.

Vorapong Muchaotai, Thai Hotels Association (THA) Northern Chapter president, said the initiation of a low cost airline would bring great benefits to Chiang Mai, especially for 3 star hotels.

The low cost airline project would increase the number of hotel guests by over 60 percent in Chiang Mai. He also said that the private sector should also organize activities to stimulate tourism related business in the low tourist season when the expense of airfares is no longer a bar to travel.

Activities could include elephant shows, rafting adventures, jet ski competitions and similar events.

However, the private sector also hopes that the Tourism Authority of Thailand would help promote and publicize this low cost airline plan as soon as possible.

The target groups will be tourists, youths and students and this would help expand middle class passengers.

Air India Board approves fleet acquisition plan

The Air-India Board has decided to recommend to the Ministry of Civil Aviation acquisition of 10 long-range and 18 short-range aircraft for Air-India.

The aircraft recommended for the long-range and short-range categories are Airbus 340-300 and Boeing 737-800 respectively. Both these aircraft will be powered by CFM Engines.

A340-300s recommended for induction will be in three class configuration. Each aircraft will have 272 seats - 10 First Class, 27 Executive Class and 235 Economy Class. These aircraft will be deployed on the India-Europe/United States and India-Saudi Arabia routes.

Boeing 737-800s, in two class configuration, will have 146 seats - Eight Executive Class and 138 Economy Class. These aircraft will be deployed on the India-Gulf, India-Africa and India-South East Asia sectors.

Phuket to receive first international AirAsia flight

AirAsia will commence its first regional flight from Kuala Lumpur on December 8 when it flies to Phuket in Thailand. It will operate a daily service, with fares starting from RM89.99 (US$24) one way. The outgoing flight will depart at 10.40 and arrive in Phuket at 10.45. The return flight will depart at 11.35 and return to Kuala Lumpur at 13.50. Seats are open for booking. (TTG Asia)

Finnair gives fewer points through the Internet

When you book your award flight through the Internet, you obtain it with fewer points charged. Your benefit is 1,000 - 3,000 points, depending on the award’s normal points charge. The benefit affects only scheduled Finnair award flights (Finnair aircraft and the AY code on the flight ticket) and Golden Air flights within Finland.

This advantage applies only to new bookings made through the Internet. Bookings cannot be changed.

Required points for Finnair round-trip award flights: Flights within Finland: 19,000; Northern Europe, tourist class: 29,000; business class: 43,000.

Rest of Europe, tourist class: 39,000; business class: 58,000; Long-haul flights/Atlantic, tourist class: 118,000; business class: 167,000; Long-haul flights/Far East, tourist class: 148,000; business class: 217,000.

Offer made to buy ‘long-necked’ Padaung tribe families

Provincial governor thwarts business plan

A businessman offered 10 million baht to purchase members of the Padaung tribe – famous for their ‘long-necked women’ – based in this northern province of Mae Hong Son, in hopes of tapping into vast tourism revenue, according to the head of the tribe, 40 year-old Thulae.

Thulae said that a group of businesspeople from Phuket had contacted him with a proposition to buy 3-5 Padaung families based in Mae Hong Son and with an aim to take them to Phuket to be shown to tourists there, and a sum of 5-10 baht billion was offered.

After discussions, members of the tribe had spoken favorably of the offer, noting that their present income in Mae Hong Son was low, as tour companies were reluctant to pay foreign tourists to see them.

At present, around 20 Padaung families live in Mae Hong Son, earning their incomes from the sale of souvenirs and from tourists who pay to look at their traditional costume, which includes the wearing of several brass rings round the necks of women, producing the famous ‘long necks’.

Thulae said that some of the Padaung families expressed interest and said they would travel to Phuket, where they had been promised 200 baht from every foreign tourist who paid to look at them, with the tour companies paying them on a monthly basis.

But Mae Hong Son provincial governor, Suphot Laowansiri, said that the Padaung had to remain in Mae Hong Son, as they were war refugees who would be returned to Myanmar once the situation there had improved. The province has set aside a special area for the Padaung tribe, with soldiers and volunteers ensuring that they do not escape from the province. (TNA)

“ICE” offers Emirates customers choice entertainment and convenience

Emirates new $8 million ICE (information, communication and entertainment) system starting in December will feature 100 movies and 50 TV channels on demand, 350-plus audio channels and 40 in-flight games.

The award-winning airline is launching the industry’s most sophisticated on-demand video and audio system, making it the first to show BBC World news updates in-flight, and first to let travelers send and receive email and SMS from any seat for just $1 a time.

On non-stop trips to and from Australia - and next year North America - they will test their knowledge in trivia tournaments, save the world from space invaders, sink a putt at mini-golf, challenge a colleague to a game of Hangman, or try their skill at 10-pin bowling.

Every passenger can also telephone anyone anywhere for US $5 a minute, using an individual handset to access the world’s most widely-used in-flight telephone system.

Emirates is also pioneering Room Service, allowing them to phone over their requirements to the cabin crew at any time.

SRT to compete with low cost airline

The State Railway of Thailand (SRT) is promising ‘buy one, get one free’ promotions to counter the fact that the low-cost Bangkok-Chiang Mai airfare will be a full 200 baht lower than the cost of a train ticket. SRT Governor Chitsanti Dhanasobhon said that the SRT was urgently searching for approaches to help ease the situation by the beginning of December.

The SRT’s move followed a deal between Shin Corporation Public Company Limited and Malaysia-based AirAsia to jointly launch the low-cost airline early next year.

Transport Minister Suriya Jungrungreangkit conceded the low-cost airline could affect the SRT’s revenue, particularly from its VIP-class customers who could turn to travel via the low-cost airline’s flights, saying the adjustment of the SRT’s strategies was needed to enhance its competitiveness. (TNA)

PATA preparing to come to Chiang Mai

‘Protect, Position & Promote Chiang Mai’ at the ninth PATA Mekong Tourism Forum from March 26 - 28, 2004

M. + M. Vogt

PATA held their first PATA Mekong Tourism Forum in 1996. Today the greater Mekong sub-region (GMS) is the fastest growing tourism destination in the world.

The fairytale like inner court of the Chiang Mai City Arts and Culture Center where VIP and officials met for a cocktail reception

The ninth Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) Forum will be held at the new Sheraton Chiang Mai in March 2004.

PATA has designed the forum program with a strong marketing focus aimed at bringing international attention to the six nations that make up the greater Mekong sub-region, namely Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand, Vietnam and Yunnan, China.

Suthep Suebsantiwongse, executive vice president Thai International, talking to Marion Vogt from CMM regarding the new inauguration flights from the GMS, adding even more substance to Chiang Mai as the northern aviation hub. Inquiring about the rumors that TG will launch a direct flight from Europe to Chiang Mai, he replied that feasibility studies are currently being undertaken, and that such a direct connection is still under consideration.

The main objectives of the tourism forum will be to establish and expand sub-regional cooperation to develop and promote this area as a tourist destination. Also, it will provide a platform for the public and the private sector to gather, discuss and address sub-regional tourism issues. And of course it is a great chance for high-level tourism representatives and government officials to expand marketing networks for a better promotion.

Peter de Jong, president and CEO, PATA announced the upcoming tourism forum and expressed his hope to see many faces again during this international convention which will further promote the GMS in the 21st century.

Peter de Jong, president and CEO of PATA promised some high caliber keynote speakers, as well as many brainstorm sessions from people like Prof. Walter Jamieson (Dean-University of Hawaii), Bert van Walbeek (MD of ‘The Winning Edge’), William E. Heinecke (The Minor Group) and Professor Kaye Chon to just name a few.

Official hotels for PATA will be the Sheraton as the forum venue and the Rydges Thapae with shuttle buses to and from the forum. Thai Airways will be one of the major sponsors, offering a 50% discount on international sectors to delegates traveling to Chiang Mai.

Everybody’s main slogan will be P, P & P: Protect, Position and Promote Chiang Mai, Thailand.