HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

Will the Bird catch the worms?

THAI agreement signed with Rajabhat University, Surat Thani

Tourism Development under scrutiny

Get back to nature with an unforgettable experience

Will the Bird catch the worms?

Nok Air opens with Royal support

Marion Vogt

Nok Air, the long awaited new low cost airline that is dedicated to broaden the Thai horizons opening travel between Bangkok and the provinces had its official launch ceremony on Thursday, July 22.

Patee Sarasin, CEO Nok Air, Dr. Chirayu Isarangkun Na Ayuthaya, chairman of Sky Asia and Kanok Abhiradee, president of THAI Airways International just after the official launch.

HRH Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn presided over the formal procedure to unveil Nok Air’s first plane at THAI’s Technical Department hangers.

The newest choice in airlines has some heavyweights at the helm. People like Dr. Chirayu Isarangkun Na Ayuthaya, Chairman of Sky Asia, the operation company of Nok Air, chairman of Siam Commercial Bank, Deves Insurance and the National Institute of Development Administration. Dr. Chirayu is also a former Minister of Industry (1985) and currently serving as secretary-general of the Sai Jai Thai Foundation and the Royal Projects Foundation, plus treasurer of the support foundation of H.M. Queen Sirikit amongst other duties and titles.

Next in line is Patee Sarasin, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Nok Air who is the son of H.M. the King of Thailand’s Principal Private Secretary, HE Arsa, and is Chairman of Bates Thailand since early this year.

Patee Sarasin said in his opening speech, “Nok Air is the result of ideas, concepts, extreme hard work and the commitment of many different people who reached a major step in a journey which began in February. Nok Air was established with the support of the national airline Thai Airways International (THAI) and leading private sector groups to provide a transportation choice that is more convenient and comfortable, with prices that are affordable.”

After HRH Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn officially unveiled the first of three Boeing 737-400s, Koh Saxman and his band gave the ceremony a modern touch with the sounds of ‘Fly me to the Sky’ played in front of the violet Nok Air plane.

Nok Air will serve Chiang Mai during the next three month with special launch prices starting from 598 baht (return 1,198, baht) with the policy that the earlier you book, the cheaper your ticket. E-booking may be done, via the Call Center (1318) or at the Airport Check in.

THAI agreement signed with Rajabhat University, Surat Thani

Kanok Abhiradee (second from right), Thai Airways International’s president signed an ‘Education and Technology’ contract with Dr. Narong Phuthicheevin (second from left), dean of Rajabhat University, Surat Thani.

The contract signifies cooperation between THAI and Rajabhat University, Surat Thani, with programs offered on the study of the Tourism Industry and on Tourism and Tourist Guide for THAI employees to boost the company’s human resources.

Tourism Development under scrutiny

Chiang Mai hosts Asia Cooperation Dialogue Working Group

Reinhard Hohler

After the first successful meeting of the Asia Cooperation Dialogue (ACD) Tourism Business Forum in Phuket in May last year, the second one was surprisingly held in Chiang Mai on July 18-20, this year at the Sheraton Hotel.

Wichit Na-Ranong, president of the Tourism Council of Thailand; vice governor of Chiang Mai, Prinya Pathong; Dr. Sasithara Pichaichannarong, director general, Office of Tourism Development, Ministry of Tourism and Sports; Pradech Phayakvichien, senior advisor of TAT; Chalermpol Thanchitt, ambassador, attached to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. (Photo by Gerard Krebs)

Originally, the government of Cambodia had agreed to host the second ACD Tourism Business Forum, but due to politically motivated uncertainties there, it was moved to Chiang Mai, organized by the Office of Tourism Development, Ministry of Tourism and Sports, in collaboration with the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT), Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Tourism Council of Thailand.

In Thoeun, director of international cooperation and Chhun Nak, deputy director of international cooperation, Ministry of Tourism from Cambodia. (Photo by Gerard Krebs)

Initiated by the Thai PM, who suggested that Asia as a continent should have its own forum to discuss Asia-wide cooperation, the ACD is aimed to build unity among Asian countries and forge a platform for ‘Asia only’ by creating a high powered and strategic partnership.

At present, ACD is composed of 25 countries, including the 10 ASEAN countries, China, Japan, Republic of Korea, Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, Iran, and some of the emerging Gulf States. Interesting to note is that ACD is encompassing cooperation between government, private sector and academic circles. As the tourism potential of Asia is tremendous, the goal of the ACD Tourism Business Forum is to enhance the region’s competitiveness and negotiation power against other destinations in the world and develop a sustainable tourism industry.

Tourism will bring on economic and social development in Asia, creating employment, income, and foreign exchange earnings. Through ever widening person to person contacts and steadily improving understanding between different cultures, tourism is also one of the keys to peace and prosperity in the world.

President of the Tourism Council of Thailand Wichit Na-Ranong officially addressed the 46 participating delegates by underlining the vision of Thailand to become the tourism capital of Asia and attract 20 million visitors in 2008.

Pradech Phayakvichien, senior advisor of TAT, gave an important speech about the ‘Green Leaf Program’ on energy saving and conservation in tourist accommodations.

After a lively discussion on inter-regional promotion activities, safety and security concerns, human resource development and the Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SME’s), Dr. Sasithara Pichaichannarong, director general, Office of Tourism Development, Ministry of Tourism and Sports, gave a stimulating presentation on ‘Possible tourism investment co-operation in ACD countries’ and in the evening, the governor of Chiang Mai hosted dinner.

On the concluding day of the forum, a visit was scheduled to the Mae Sa Elephant Camp and the Queen Sirikit Botanical Gardens. The next ACD Tourism Business Forum in 2005 will be held in Siem Reap, followed by India in 2006.

Get back to nature with an unforgettable experience

IMAC ATV takes you there

Jiraphat Warasin and Autsadaporn Kamthai

Are you getting bored with city or town life and looking for adventure and an exotic experience? Then spare the time for a ride on one of Chiang Mai’s All Terrain Vehicles (ATVs).

The IMAC ATV not only gives you hours of fun and adventure; while riding you will get close to nature and spend unforgettable moments exploring the lifestyle of Hmong hill tribes folk.

Driving ATVs are much more fun than riding motorcycles.

It is included in the Tourism Authority of Thailand’s Unseen in Thailand campaign as one of recommended pursuits for travelers. The IMAC ATVs camp is located 10 km from the main Mae Rim-Samoeng intersection. It is easy to find, just follow the signs.

The IMAC offers three hour trips and one and a half hour trips, with eight ATVs provided for each trip.

The one and a half hour trip covers 22 km. There are two trips daily, starting at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. This route goes through an area within Ban Maew (Hmong) Mae Sa Mai. You will pass a rice paddy and lychee gardens. If you visit during the rainy season, you can taste fresh and delicious lychees plucked straight from the tree.

On the way back to the camp, you will pass the Royal Development Project and observe how the villagers plant vegetables.

The three hour trip covers a 45 km route in the Mae Rim zone, starting at 8 a.m., 12 noon and 3 p.m. The first impressive sight you will come across is the Nariew Waterfall. The route then takes you to Ban Buak Chan, a village where you can get a taste of Hmong culture, lifestyle and music.

The route continues up a mountain, with rows of flowers, cabbages and many other kinds of vegetables planted at the summit, from where you can see the beautiful panoramic scenery of the Mae Rim, Samoeng and Hang Dong districts.

Afterwards, you will be led to a 1,350 meter high fire observatory tower. On the descent, you will find yourself in the midst of high bushes. It’s a wonderful experience of being close to nature.

The last stop is at the Royal Project’s Land Development Center from where you can almost see Bhumibol Dam in Tak province, according to the Hmong villagers. The place is most charming at sunset. The center is a highlight of the trip where you can take photos of the beautiful sunsets. The clean and cold air and beautiful views at the center will invigorate your weary body after the drive and recharge your batteries before returning to the busy city life.