HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

Lao Airlines emerge as the airline of the Mekong region

TAT publishes Agro-tourism handbook for visitors

Hotels fully booked for ‘midnight Songkran’

Free bubbly on Air Andaman

Thailand casts Elite net in regional pond

Lao Airlines emerge as the airline of the Mekong region

Reinhard Hohler

A one-day workshop in Luang Prabang was jointly organized by Lao Airlines and Villa Santi Hotel and Resort. Khammouane Siphanthong, general manager of the resort at the outskirts of Luang Prabang welcomed the participants to Summer Package 2004.

A small cobblestone alley in the town of Luang Prabang.

The summer packages aim to promote Lao tourism (and revenue) during the low or rainy season, as well as to raise awareness within the international travel market. Luang Prabang will be actively promoted as one of the most unspoiled and relaxed destinations to explore and to discover the original lifestyle of Laos.

According to the Summer Schedule 2004 of Lao Airlines from March 28 - October 27 there are the following options:

1. Vientiane-Luang Prabang-Vientiane three times daily

2. Chiang Mai-Luang Prabang-Chiang Mai three times weekly

3. Bangkok-Vientiane-Luang Prabang-Vientiane-Bangkok daily

4. Hanoi-Vientiane-Luang Prabang-Vientiane-Hanoi daily

5. Siem Reap-Vientiane-Luang Prabang-Vientiane-Siem Reap three times weekly

6. Phnom Penh-Vientiane-Luang Prabang-Vientiane-Phnom Penh daily

7. Kunming-Vientiane-Luang Prabang-Vientiane-Kunming two times weekly

With this ambitious schedule, Lao Airlines will emerge as the airline of the Mekong region and will facilitate the access to Luang Prabang from nearby cities in the neighboring countries.

Luang Prabang at the Mekong River will be promoted to attract foreign visitors to Laos.

The Summer Package 2004, scheduled from April 1 - September 30, will certainly attract an increasing number of visitors and with competitive prices featuring roundtrip air tickets with two nights accommodation in a deluxe room at the Villa Santi Hotel and Resort including breakfast and airport transfers in Luang Prabang.

Dramatic limestone scenery at Ban Muang Ngoi at the Nam Ou River.

What is there for the tourist to do during the stay in Luang Prabang? Besides the many attractions in and near Luang Prabang, there are two destinations to reach if you want to jump on the bandwagon of eco-tourism: Excursion to Ban Muang Ngoi - imagine a place where there are no roads, cars or motorcycles and you can enjoy the village life surrounded by fantastic limestone mountains reached by an hour’s boat cruise on the Nam Ou River. To get there, take a ‘song taew’ taxi from the Northern Bus Terminal in Luang Prabang to Nong Khiow which is 140 kilometers away on National Route 1 to Xam Nua. From there, take a boat on the Nam Ou River upstream. For bungalow accommodation, Ning Ning Guesthouse is recommended.

Picturesque sunset at the Namxong River in Vang Vieng.

Secondly, an excursion to Vang Vieng - this is one of the best known places to enjoy cycling, kayaking and spelunking. To get there, take a comfortable overland bus from the Southern Bus Station in Luang Prabang some 230 kilometers on National Route 13 south to Vientiane. Despite some counterproductive travel advisories, the road is safe. Besides some budget accommodation, the Namxong Hotel is highly recommended.

To quote Miss Pany Saignavong, Marketing Advisor for Lao Airlines, “Don’t miss out on this very attractive and unique Summer Package 2004 to learn more about the unique beauty of Lao hospitality.”

For further information, contact GMS Media Travel Consultant Reinhard Hohler by email: [email protected]

TAT publishes Agro-tourism handbook for visitors

Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) joined with the Department of Agricultural Extension and Department of Agriculture to publish a handbook for agro-tourism for the visitors who are interested in the field of tourism. The book will give information on 21 routes of agro-tourism all over the country.

Available in both a Thai and English version with complete map of each route and full details, the handbook will give the details on how to access to the tourist sites and point out the significance of each tourism spot as well as the telephone number of the coordinators of the area.

Information is also included on the best seasons to visit the sites, the way of life of the farmers in different areas and the local agricultural products.

The handbook is now available at TAT’s head office and leading bookstores for 95 baht per copy. (TNA)

Hotels fully booked for ‘midnight Songkran’

It’s nearly two months away, but already hotels and guesthouses in the southern city of Hat Yai in this southern province of Songkhla are fully booked for what local tourist associations are billing as one of the most exciting Songkran festivals ever.

With Hat Yai being the only place in Thailand where Songkran revelers can indulge in water-throwing fun in the middle of the night, tourists from far and wide are set to flock to the city for 12-13 April.

Nimitr Chaijeerathikul, President of the Songkhla Provincial Tourism Association, said that this year’s ‘midnight Songkran’ festival should be better than ever, and hoped that the festival would bring at least 400-500 million baht in tourism revenue to the province. (TNA)

Free bubbly on Air Andaman

Air Andaman is planning to introduce a daily Bangkok-Singapore service and a Bangkok-Phuket-Singapore service four times weekly, with all flights to feature free champagne. A Boeing 747-400 configured single class with 169 seats will be used on both new services which will be launched on May 1, subject to Department of Aviation approval.

Newly-appointed president Dean Mills confirmed the airline will continue to be a full-service carrier but fares would be competitive. He added that additional routes within the region are being planned, notably to key destinations in China in India. (TTG Asia)

Thailand casts Elite net in regional pond

Singapore-based Aktiv Elite (Asia-Pacific) has been appointed by the Tourism Authority of Thailand to promote and market the Thailand Privilege Card (TPC) in Asia-Pacific.

The company has set up its first Thai Elite Center at Clarke Quay in Singapore and plans to open another in Kuala Lumpur by May. Indonesia is also a target in the plan.

Managing director, Phun Teow Kie, who has so far invested about S$200,000 (US$118,343) in the venture, said he was targeting more than 300 to 500 members in Singapore in the next six months.

The card is aimed at luring and rewarding frequent travelers to Thailand and its privileges include full access and free green fees at over 25 golf-courses throughout the destination, free massage at more than 80 spas, free annual medical check-ups at 14 hospitals, fast track immigration service at the airport and free limousine transfers. At US$25,000, membership is lifetime and cardholders are eligible to buy 16,000 sq. meters of land in Thailand for residential purposes.

Phun said, “We are targeting business people and the golfers. It is quite worth it for them considering that membership at some of these elite golf courses in Thailand can be as high as US$70,000. The card also allows them to purchase one-for-one deals for Thai Airways’ business class.” It is transferable at US$1,000.

Since its conceptualization last year, the program has had several teething problems and its international launch was delayed, but Phun said the issues had been settled and the program was now ready “to move outside of Thailand.” (TTG Asia)