HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

Major travel show plans for November

AirAsia links Hat Yai to Kuala Lumpur

Tourism Ministry aims for 20 million tourists by 2008

New air link to Taipei

New road route to the North opened

Nok Air postpones launch indefinitely

Suvarnabhumi Airport prepares 15,000-vehicle car park

Upgraded Sihanoukville Airport ready

TTG Asia to launch International Travel Show

Major travel show plans for November

Jiraphat Warasin

The Chiang Mai Tourism Promotion Board (CTPB) has met to review its operations and prepare for the “Chiang Mai & North Travel 2004” bonanza.

Pornchai Jitnawasatien (right), Mayor Boonlert Buranupakorn’s secretary flanked by Vorapong Muchaotai, the president of THA, Northern Chapter.

The board consists of representatives from both the public and private sectors in Chiang Mai province so that the two can work together towards promoting tourism. Mayor Boonlert Buranupakon was introduced as the president of the CTPB’s new executive committee.

The board announced it has agreed on a plan, budgeting and media campaign for efficient short and long term public relations and marketing, and discussed preparations for the travel show that will run from November 29 to December 2.

Jint Kusumaraphan, adviser to the CTPB, said a travel show had been organized two years ago but did not get good support from the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) offices abroad. It was also not properly marketed.

Vorapong Muchaotai, president of the Thai Hotels Association (THA), Northern Chapter, said that they were ready to tackle any problems that may arise during the travel show. Teams with specific areas of responsibility had been set up.

For example, the TAT would be responsible for promoting it abroad, and producing VCD’s for the media campaign. The THA would take care of accommodation and food arrangements, and organizing the sales table displays.

The Chiang Mai Tourism Business Association would take care of printing, booth preparations, tour program arrangements and bookings, while the Chiang Mai Guide Association would take responsibility for escorting tour groups.

AirAsia links Hat Yai to Kuala Lumpur

Luc Citrinot

AirAsia continues to provide more connections between Thailand and its largest hub, Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia. AirAsia, a low fare, no frills airline within Southeast Asia will start its first international route from Hat Yai, Southern Thailand to Kuala Lumpur on August 5. Hat Yai will then become the third destination in Thailand, after Bangkok and Phuket, to benefit from non-stop connections to Kuala Lumpur. From Bangkok, people can also fly daily to Johor Bahru - with easy transfer to Singapore, Kota Kinabalu and Penang.

Flight AK863 will leave Hat Yai at 2.40 p.m. to reach Kuala Lumpur at 4.45 p.m.. The return flight AK862 leaves Kuala Lumpur at 2.05 p.m. to land in Hat Yai at 2.15 p.m. local time. The flight will use a Boeing 737-300.

To celebrate this new routing, AirAsia offers a special promotional fare of 500 baht or 49.99 RM for bookings done between July 1 and July 15. Travel must be completed between August 5 and October 30.

AirAsia’s network in Thailand presently includes domestic flights from its hub in Bangkok to Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, Hat Yai, Khon Kaen, Nakhon Ratchasima, Ubon Ratchathani and Udon Thani (Vientiane/Laos) in Thailand as well as international flights to Macao, Singapore, Johor Bahru, Kota Kinabalu, Kuala Lumpur and Penang.

Tourism Ministry aims for 20 million tourists by 2008

The kingdom is aiming to attract 20 million tourists by 2008, a significant increase on the 17.5 million it had previously targeted, and nearly double the 10.5 million who visited the country last year.

A spokesman for the minister of tourism and sports, Sontaya Khunplome, said the new figure is considered “totally realistic” and the country is already developing the infrastructure required to meet the new target.

The spokesman said, “We are confident we can host 20 million with Suvarnabhumi Airport opening in 2005, an additional runway at Phuket, extensions and modernization at Chiang Mai airport, the new subway in Bangkok, new roads and numerous new hotels in Bangkok and throughout the kingdom.” (TTG Asia)

New air link to Taipei

Fly with a Mandarin

Sampham Changtong, PRD Department

Mandarin Airline has launched a new flight route between Taipei and Chiang Rai to stimulate tourism between the two cities.

The carrier offers one flight a week, on Wednesdays, from Taipei to Chiang Rai and Chiang Rai to Taipei. The flight from Taipei arrives in Chiang Rai at 6.30pm and departs at 7.30pm.

It takes only three hours to travel between the two cities. The Boeing 737-800 aircraft can carry 168 passengers.

Pratuang Sornkham, vice-director of Chiang Rai Airport, said that the new flight would support tourism between the two countries and contribute to the continued growth of tourism to Chiang Rai. He also announced that direct flights between Chiang Rai and Singapore are being planned.

For more information on the Taipei flight, please contact Mandarin Airline’s Chiang Mai office on 0-5320-1268-9.

New road route to the North opened

Public Relations Department, Chiang Rai

The new R3W route to the North has been built to provide trade and transport facilities between Northern Thailand and the Mekong sub-region. It links Thailand’s Mae Sai district with Tachilek and Chiang Tung provinces in Myanmar, and Sibsong Panna province in southern China.

Chiang Rai Governor Narin Panichkij said the R3W route facilitated the provincial and Lanna aims of introducing Thai products to international markets, especially in the Mekong sub-region. It would indirectly strengthen international relations between Thailand and China as well. Thailand’s Industry Minister Pinij Charusombut and Yunnan governor Xu Rongkai officially opened the new R3W route on July 1.

Nok Air postpones launch indefinitely

Nok Air – the low-cost airline backed by Thai Airways International (THAI) – has once again delayed its launch and this time has not set a new date for the commencement of operations. A Nok spokesman said the process of getting approvals and permissions from the regulatory authorities had taken longer than expected and “everything is behind schedule”.

Nok originally intended to start services between April and June following a pledge by THAI chairman, Dr Thanong Bidaya, to give “support and assistance” wherever it was required to get the new venture into the air. Despite having the weight of the flag carrier behind it, Nok was unable to meet its earlier deadline and postponed the launch to June 1, then to July 1 and now to an unspecified date in the near future. (TTG Asia)

Suvarnabhumi Airport prepares 15,000-vehicle car park

The New Bangkok Airport Authority (NBA) is preparing to construct a car park for Bangkok’s new international airport which will have a capacity of over 15,000 vehicles. Revealing that construction on the Suvarnabhumi Airport - due to open in September 2006 - the NBA said that the car park would be one of the airport’s most important facilities.

Work on the car park began in May, and is scheduled for completion shortly before the airport opens. Two six-storey concrete car park buildings will front the passenger terminals, with a combined area of around 93,000 square meters to take around 5,000 vehicles. There will also be two additional car park areas for temporary parking, able to take a further 1,000 vehicles. Other car parks dotted around the airport compound will bring total vehicle capacity to around 15,600. Construction costs are expected to run to 898.6 billion baht. In its initial phase, the airport hopes to handle around 45 million passengers a year. The construction of the Suvarnabhumi Airport is now 54 percent complete. (TNA)

Upgraded Sihanoukville Airport ready

Sihanoukville Airport in Cambodia’s emerging beach resort destination has undergone a major upgrade and is now ready to receive regular international flights. The airport recently reopened after extensive work, including a 100m runway extension, the addition of five new parking bays and a new two-storey terminal building with customs and immigration facilities, a VIP lounge, four large airline offices and several smaller offices.

“Discussions are now under way with several airlines interested in serving the Sihanoukville market from the commencement of the next tourist season,” said airport manager Geoff Rider. (TTG Asia)

TTG Asia to launch International Travel Show

Ambitious plans for inboard, outboard and domestic travel

Surat Tantanawiwat and Suparat Photivichit

A one-stop shop for all travelers, the first International Travel Show Thailand (ITS Thailand), and organized by TTG Asia, will be held at the IMPACT Exhibition Center from August 20-22 this year. A first of its kind event in Thailand, ITS Thailand is promising bargains on a huge selection of travel destinations in Thailand and around the world.

The three day event is expected to draw 100,000 visitors, with exhibitors putting together an array of dream holidays and travel bargains, promotions and prizes for Thai travelers and expatriates looking for holidays and tour packages within and outside Thailand. ITS Thailand is being promoted as the perfect platform for tourism markets and travel suppliers to tap into the domestic and international travel potential of Thailand.

ITS Thailand is fully supported by many travel associations in Thailand, including the TCT (Tourism Council of Thailand), ATTA (Association of Thai Travel Agents), ITA (International Ticketing Association), and TTAA (Thai Travel Agents Association).

“This is a good timing for the show. The Thai economy has recovered and has been registering positive growth rates since 2000. With the population numbers and the number of people who travel either domestically and internationally, we see a high potential in expanding the market”, stated Darren Ng, TTG Asia’s Managing Director.

As another incentive, after spending a minimum of 5,000 baht at ITS Thailand, visitors can win air tickets sponsored by the Star Alliance group of airlines as well as other participating airlines.

Besides travel packages and prize giveaways, TTG is organizing a travel forum for the travel trade. Aimed at all segments of the Thai travel trade - inbound, outbound and domestic markets, the forum, themed “Thailand: Charting the New Course of Total Tourism” will be held on Friday, 9 August 2004. Travel seminars for consumers will be held on the Saturday and Sunday 21-22 August at ITS Thailand.