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
of Chiang Mai Suwat Tantipat (4th right) THAI’s President Kanok Abhiradee
(4th left) and former mayor, Boonlert Buranupakorn (3rd right) at the
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.
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
The catering service will be able to produce 85,000 meals
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
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
* 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
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
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]