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It takes two to tango - THAI woos customers

TAT to attract US meditation-lovers

Strategic Intelligence Center World Watch

Chiang Mai gets ready for ITB in Berlin

It takes two to tango - THAI woos customers

Suvarnabhumi Airport discussed

Text by Marion Vogt
Photos by Michael Vogt

Thai Airways International (THAI) recently held its annual customer airlines conference in Chiang Mai. Kanok Abhiradee, THAI’s president said they decided on Chiang Mai as the venue for the conference to support the government’s policy to develop Chiang Mai as the regional aviation hub.

Governor of Chiang Mai Suwat Tantipat (4th right) THAI’s President Kanok Abhiradee (4th left) and former mayor, Boonlert Buranupakorn (3rd right) at the convention.

However, the principal reason for this year’s conference was to inform all the airlines operating to and from Thailand that THAI is ready to develop Suvarnabhumi Airport as a one-stop ‘seamless service’ for smooth travel transition.

(From right) Jarkko Harmala, Finnair sales director, a friend, Brian Sinclair-Thompson, Swiss International Airlines; Pandit Chanapai, THAI International; Pisamai Chandrubeksa, THAI MD Catering Department.

THAI’s President Kanok added, “We invited you here today because we cherish our partners. We want to entertain and look after you because it always takes two to tango. Thailand has changed a lot over the last year and now you have two choices. Number 1 is you can consider other service providers, get their options, check it out, and then come back to us; or, number 2, you can stick with us, because we cherish our relationships, we nourish them and in the future, we want to take even better care of you.”

Suvarnabhumi Airport is located in the Bangphi district of Samut Prakan province on Bang Na-Trad Road, 25 km from downtown Bangkok. The plan is to open it in September 2005. It is designed to handle 45 million customers per year and the opening will be a momentous occasion for Thailand in developing its future. THAI’s service for its customers at the new Suvarnabhumi Airport were summarized as follows:

The aircraft maintenance service is in strict compliance with internationally required standards and regulations. The new building can accommodate three large aircraft simultaneously, the size of the Airbus 380, while smaller aircraft can utilize space between the large aircraft for maintenance.

The catering service will be able to produce 85,000 meals per day.

The ground support equipment services offer a one stop and flexible service, which is ISO certified and meets IATA service standards with strong international standards security measures.

The international cargo terminal is divided into different zones and the domestic cargo terminal is located outside the custom free zone.

The customer ground services will be operated by multilingual staff. A state of the art business center and superior lounge including spa facilities and door-to-door limousine service will be available for THAI’s premium customers.

More than 300 participants attended the conference, including 50 airlines, Star Alliance member airlines, THAI’s management and government officials.

TAT to attract US meditation-lovers

Thailand’s reputation as a land of Buddhist calm is to be the focus of a new Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) campaign to attract US visitors, who it hopes will be interested in meditation courses in monasteries in the northeastern region.

Announcing the new plans, TAT Governor Juthamas Siriwan said that as part of its promotion of the Isaan region, the TAT aimed to attract students studying in US, whether from China, Japan, Taiwan, Korea or even Thailand, to participate in meditation courses in the north-east. The scheme would first be piloted in Ubon Ratchathani Province, home to over 10 participating temples, before being expanded to other provinces in the region.

Noting that several Thai temples in the US had already gained a reputation among international students for their meditation courses, she expressed confidence that the scheme would attract 50,000 students in its first year, starting from the upcoming spring holiday.

Stressing the attractions of the scheme, she said, “There will be no need for any new investment. There are several famous Thai temples in the northeast, and we won’t need to construct any new hotels. It will be enough simply to organize accommodation and places to meditate. Foreign students want to learn new things, including spiritual matters. Meditation will also help them study better.” (TNA)

Strategic Intelligence Center World Watch

* The United States is pushing ahead with plans to screen and color code all passengers flying in the country, despite resistance from airlines and privacy groups. (“Brown over here, Yellow over there and Green step right back!”)

* The world’s largest cruise ship, Queen Mary 2, left on its maiden voyage January 12. The 150,000 ton, 1,138 foot long and 238 foot high vessel, carrying 2,600 passengers, left the English port of Southampton on a 14 day journey to Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

* Maldives saw growth of 16.3 percent in arrivals in 2003. The source markets of Singapore (+84.6 percent) and Russia (+60.4 percent) grew fastest, while Italy remained the largest, supplying one quarter of total visitors.

* Arrivals to Nepal grew 23 percent. Spain (+79.6 percent) and Chinese Taipei (+39.2 percent) were the fastest growing source markets, while India remained the largest, supplying one third of all visitors.

* Tourist arrivals to India hit a record high in 2003, jumping 15.3 percent. Tourism officials expect more than three million visitors in 2004.

Chiang Mai gets ready for ITB in Berlin

Reinhard Hohler

Chiang Mai’s tourism planners and officials briefed around 50 participants on the ongoing preparations to attend the International Tourism Bourse (ITB) in Berlin. This important once a year event will be held March 12-16 in Germany.

Vorapong Muchaotai, Thai Hotel Association Northern Chapter, explained that around 200,000 visitors should be expected during the show in Berlin, the largest in the world. It was felt that Thailand’s pavilion will be under special scrutiny, especially after the disastrous year of 2003 because of the war in Iraq and the SARS epidemic. Chiang Mai will be effectively represented by four persons within the booth run by the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT), the new marketing arm of the Thai tourism industry.

Boonlert Pereira, Chiang Mai Tourism Business Association, introduced the proposed brochure to promote Chiang Mai. First of all, Chiang Mai will be the aviation hub of the Greater Mekong Sub-Region (GMS) with flights to Myanmar, Laos, China, Vietnam, and Cambodia.

Secondly, Chiang Mai will become the capital of oriental crafts. With the sophisticated shopping opportunities in Sankamphaeng, Bo Sang, the Night Bazaar and Central Airport Plaza, there will be enough interest to attract tourists to Chiang Mai from all over the world.

According to Somyot Chamnanrith, adviser to the Chiang Mai Tourism Promotion Board, the highest potential to attract visitors will be through the development of a special web site, offering a directory to inform about the history of Chiang Mai, location, transportation, attractions, travel agents, shopping, and nightlife. Very helpful will be the introduction of a photo gallery.

Finally Somrith Haikhum, Chiang Mai Guide Association, summed it all up to emphasize the importance of the meetings, incentives, conventions, and exhibitions (MICE) market for Chiang Mai and highlighted the upcoming Chiang Mai & North Travel Show on December 1-4, 2004. At that, more than 250 buyers from all over the world will be invited to experience agro-tourism, one tambon one product (OTOP), exotic festivals, amazing city sightseeing, spa and health tourism, eco-tourism and Wiang Kum Kam, the lost city of Chiang Mai.

For further information, contact Reinhard Hohler, GMS media travel consultant email [email protected]