Vol. III No. 2 - Saturday January 10 - January 16 2004
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HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

2004 to be ‘Year of new airport construction’

Tourism growth projected at 25% in 2004

Film festival pushes Bangkok’s into forefront as entertainment hub

Emirates launches cabin crew recruitment drive

Singapore considers low-cost terminal for budget carriers’ customers

Northeastern region gateway to Laos’ World Heritage city

‘Clean toilet’ campaign to bring smiles to travelers

Phuket declares ‘fake-free zones’

2004 to be ‘Year of new airport construction’

Deputy Transport Minister Vichet Kasemthongsri has declared 2004 to be a ‘Year of new airport construction’, with new airports springing up across the country in response to the launch of low-cost airlines.

Launching the scheme, Vichet said that he had ordered the Department of Aviation to conduct an urgent feasibility study into the construction of a second airport to serve the growing number of tourist arrivals on the southern resort island of Samui. Expressing hope that the feasibility study would be completed in a mere three weeks, he said that construction would require investment of over 500 million baht.

At the same time, he said, he had called on the Department of Aviation to regard 2004 as a year of airport development and construction, noting that there were several other suitable locations for new airports where the number of visitors would make the construction of an airport cost effective. These included the district of Pai in the northern province of Mae Hong Son, and an airport for Uttradit Province.

He also called for the acceleration of 26 provincial airport construction projects currently underway, stressing the importance of new airports for the blossoming low-cost airline industry, which looked set to increase annual passenger numbers from eight million to 20 million within the next five years. (TNA)

Tourism growth projected at 25% in 2004

Tourism and Sports Minister Sontaya Khunpluem recently stated that earlier tourism plans based on growth of 12 percent had now been abandoned due to the successful containment of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), the healthy growth of the Thai economy and Thailand’s exemplary hosting of October’s Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit.

Expressing confidence that Thailand would see a surge of visitors next year, the minister said that new plans had now been drawn up based on growth of no less than 25 percent, with no less than 12 million foreign tourists flocking into the country.

Sontaya said, “Under the new plans, the ministry will use its 4.7 million baht funding allocation for 2004 to develop tourist destinations to international standards. At the same time, the ministry will use 1.8 billion baht in a public relations campaign to encourage foreigners to visit Thailand in greater numbers, while urging Thais from all walks of life to drive round the Kingdom as part of a new ‘Drive round Thailand - go every month’ promotion.”

Sontaya added that the Tourism and Sports Ministry now planned to revamp a number of tourist destinations, including the Sukhothai Historical Park, which sees 400,000 visitors each year. He also stressed that the government was attaching great importance to tourist safety. (TNA)

Film festival pushes Bangkok’s into forefront as entertainment hub

The upcoming Bangkok International Film Festival promises to be better than ever, with features, documentaries and short films from every corner of the globe highlighting the capital’s role as one of the world’s foremost places of entertainment.

Announcing the launch, Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) Governor Jutamas Siriwan said that the festival, scheduled to run from 22 January to 2 February 2004, would showcase an enormous range of films, including 10-15 feature-length movies from Association of Southeast Asian Nation (ASEAN) members including Vietnam, Myanmar, Laos, Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore and the Philippines.

ASEAN short films, documentaries and animations will also be featured. For those interested in Thai cinema, there will be both feature movies and documentaries on important events in the Kingdom’s past.

Jutamas said that the festival would be more spectacular than previous years’ events, with grand opening and closing ceremonies held at the Scala cinema, film competitions, prizes, seminars, golf contests for film stars, and concerts.

The movies will be shown at five leading cinemas: SF Cinema City Emporium, Major Cineplex Central World Plaza, Lido Siam, EGV Metropolis Big C Rajadamri, and Grand EGV Siam Discovery. (TNA)

Emirates launches cabin crew recruitment drive

Emirates is sending teams of recruitment specialists to 27 countries on four continents between January and April, as the airline launches a multi-national campaign to recruit new cabin crew for its continually growing fleet.

The airline’s target is to welcome on board 1,000 high caliber new cabin crew by mid 2004, boosting numbers to over 5,000. Emirates will be looking for male and female candidates with excellent interpersonal and communication skills, maturity, a focus on service and a positive attitude.

In January, recruiters will visit eight cities in Europe (London, Rome, Milan, Paris, Istanbul, Ankara, Belgrade and Berlin), seven in Asia-Pacific (Singapore, Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur, Brisbane, Cairns, Melbourne and Auckland), four in Africa (Cairo, Cape Town, Johannesburg and Nairobi) and one in the Middle East (Beirut).

In February the search widens to Tokyo, Vancouver, Barcelona, Dublin and later the East European nations of Bulgaria, Romania and Hungary.

First efforts to find candidates in Central and South America come in March and April, when recruiters visit Brazil, Argentina, Venezuela and Mexico. Teams will also tour UK cities outside London, including Birmingham and Leeds.

Singapore considers low-cost terminal for budget carriers’ customers

Air-conditioning and carpets considered unnecessary

With the advent of budget carriers into Asia, the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS) is considering building a terminal specifically to cater to them, and which may have “the same physical attributes as some of our bus terminals.”

The announcement was made by Singapore’s Transport Minister, Yeo Cheow Tong, at an event celebrating the centennial of powered flight at Changi Airport’s Terminal 1. Yeo also said Singapore would “spare no effort” to ensure that it remained the premier air hub in the region.

Two new budget carriers, Tiger Airways (whose major shareholder is Singapore Airlines) and ValuAir (whose founders include SIA’s former managing director, Lim Chin Beng) will enter the fray next year.

He said, “The future will not be a mere extrapolation of the past. With the emergence of new and low cost carriers in the region, and a fundamental change in our local aviation scene from a single player to multiple players, the local aviation environment can only get increasingly complex. Although (the new terminal) will be physically located at Changi, and be equally efficient and clean, it will be quite a different concept from the current terminals in Changi Airport in terms of its physical attributes.”

Yeo said this new form of air travel will require not only a change in mindset on the part of the CAAS, but also the traveling public who “have long experienced the high standards of Changi Airport.” He mentioned air-conditioning and carpeting would not be considered necessary in the new terminal. (TTG Asia)

Northeastern region gateway to Laos’ World Heritage city

The Ministry of Tourism and Sports is pushing to promote the country’s northeastern region to be a gateway to the world Heritage City of Luang Prabang. The minister, Sontaya Khunpluem said that he had assigned the tourism authorities to study the strategy for northeastern tourism development ahead of the opening of the new Thai -Laos Friendship Bridge across Hueng River.

Sontaya said Thailand set aside a budget of 20.7 million baht to build the 110 meter-long bridge linking Loei Province and the Lao province of Sayaboury. The project will facilitate traveling to the ancient city of Luang Prabang situated 150 kilometers from the site. The completion date is scheduled in mid 2004. (TNA)

‘Clean toilet’ campaign to bring smiles to travelers

Anyone whose travel is marred by the thought of filthy public toilets can take heart from the Ministry of Public Health’s new campaign to ensure that petrol station lavatories are clean enough to bring a smile to users’ faces and improve Thailand’s tourist image.

Toilets are the main target in the ministry’s ‘Thailand - good to live in, good to tour’ campaign, which recently saw 321 petrol stations win certification for their clean toilets from the Permanent Secretary for Public Health, Vallop Thaineua.

Handing over the awards, Vallop noted that poor environmental health standards not only led to bad hygiene among the Thai public, but also affected Thailand’s reputation among tourists.

The quaintly-named ‘Toilets which are good to use, for the happiness of Thais and foreigners’ campaign is hoped to ensure that petrol station toilets across the country adopt a uniformly high standard of cleanliness. The campaign is also intended to encourage local government authorities to realize the importance of following international hygiene measures to pull in visitor numbers.

Regular inspections of toilets will be carried out to ensure compliance with legislation and with the environmental health measures drawn up by the ministry. Inspections of petrol stations on roads leading from Bangkok to the north, northeast and southern regions have revealed that only 48.2 percent of toilets currently meet the ministry’s standards. (TNA)

Phuket declares ‘fake-free zones’

The southern resort island of Phuket has declared three of its most popular tourist areas to be free from counterfeit goods, according to Deputy Provincial Governor Niran Kalyamitr.

Admitting the island’s reputation as a haven for fake goods, Niran nonetheless noted that this year’s crackdown by the local authorities had resulted in raids on several shops in the Patong, Kata and Karon areas, with 53 arrests and the seizure of goods worth over 50 million baht which led to a reduction in the number of counterfeit goods being sold. He added that in the near future the whole of the island would be able to declare itself ‘fake free’ which will fall into line with the central government’s policy of enforcing the laws regarding bogus merchandise. (TNA)

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