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THAI and Star Alliance in drive to increase revenue

New hotel happy with Chiang Mai occupancy rates

Street Carnival promises to be bigger and better than last year

Member of Expedition Mekong 2002 visits Chiang Mai

THAI and Star Alliance in drive to increase revenue

Thai Airways International (THAI) could generate substantial extra revenue by optimizing its existing fleet and new aircraft on order when operating out of the new Suvarnabhumi Airport, according to executives of Star Alliance, the world’s largest airline alliance.

THAI’s chairman, Thanong Bidaya, who chaired a recent meeting with Star Alliance, said improved connectivity across the THAI fleet in the future, particularly with the resources offered by Suvarnabhumi Airport, would help Bangkok’s drive to be the pre-eminent hub in Asia.

(From left) Star Alliance Team: Maxwell Reily, Stephan Nagel, Jaan Albrecht, CEO Star Alliance; THAI Team: Kanok Abhiradee, THAI president, Dr. Thanong Bidaya, THAI chairman, Dr. Chai-anan Samudavanija, THAI board member, Dr. Vichit Suraphongchai, THAI board member, and Dr. Olarn Chaipravat, THAI board member.

Statistics show that Bangkok is already the busiest airport in Asia with 30,000 passengers per day more than airports at Narita, Japan; Seoul, Korea; Singapore and Auckland, New Zealand, the sites of the four other Star Alliance carriers in Asia/Pacific, and only 10,000 passengers per day less than O’Hare Airport in Chicago, USA, the world’s busiest.

Star Alliance CEO Jaan Albrecht said implementation of the new global connectivity improvement programme would strengthen the Star Alliance concept. The global connectivity concept involves improving aircraft connection times through Bangkok Airport. For example, changes to the connection times of just four flights can give THAI up to an extra 22 connections. This would result in 50 percent more passengers passing through Suvarnabhumi Airport at that time; 7,000 more new passengers per week and provide a strong basis for future expansion.

THAI’s president, Kanok Abhiradee, who initiated the idea with Star Alliance, said better connectivity could bring THAI an additional 350,000 passengers from other non-Star Alliance airlines. Kanok has strongly supported THAI taking an aggressive approach to maximizing its hub strategy with the opening of the Suvarnabhumi Airport.

Star Alliance, of which THAI is one of the five founding members, was started in 1997. It now has 15 members with two new members: South African Airways and TAP Portugal due to join next year.

The members are: Air Canada, Air New Zealand, All Nippon Airways, Austrian Airlines, Asiana Airlines, bmi, Lufthansa, LOT Polish Airlines, SAS Scandinavian, Spanair, Singapore Airlines, Thai Airways International, United Airlines, US Airways and VARIG Brazilian Airlines.

New hotel happy with Chiang Mai occupancy rates

Phitsanu Thepthong

Located in the heart of the city downtown, near the Chiang Mai night bazaar, the newly opened Duangtawan Hotel is drawing its mostly Thai domestic guests for seminars and workshops, while Japanese tourists on sight-seeing holidays run second.

The Duangtawan Hotel, the new paradise located in the heart of Chiang Mai City. (Photo supplied by Duangtawan Hotel)

The occupancy rate during this low season is about 90 percent, said Benchawan Chaemvimol, senior sales and public relations manager for the hotel. “Normally, the tour groups are more than government sector meetings, followed by walk-in guests sometimes as high as 30-40 rooms per night,” she said.

The hotel has been outfitted in elegant modern Thai architecture with Thai silk furnishing and contemporary Thai art.

The Duangtawan is one of seven in the hotel chain with three in Pattaya, one in Phuket, one in Koh Samui, one in Bangkok and the latest one in Chiang Mai.

Street Carnival promises to be bigger and better than last year

Grand opening of tourist season

Staff Reporters

To mark the opening of the tourist season, the beginning of the cool season, the start of the Christmas shopping season and whatever your heart desires will be celebrated with an even larger Street Carnival than in the past. The event will be held shortly after the Loy Krathong festivities.

Miss Thailand 2003, Chalisa Boonkrongsap will promote the Mardi Gras this year.

That is the promise from Chiang Mai City fathers for the December 9-12 Street Carnival, Chiang Mai Mardi Gras 2004. “Last time, there were only 20 floats in the street carnival parade, but there will be many more this year,” announced Chiang Mai Mayor Boonlert Buranupakorn.

Mayor Boonlert also said the venue will change from the night bazaar area to Chang Klan Plaza on Chang Klan Road. This will make it easier for the artists who are planning spectacular shows and performances of local and regional arts, culture and entertainment. The main carnival area will start from Saengtawan intersection to the Lanna Palace Hotel intersection, which will be closed during the event from 6 p.m. - 1 a.m. each evening.

“The northern charm will be upgraded to an international level of tourism promotion of arts and cultures here in Asia in the future,” he stressed. Mayor Boonlert would like to make the Chiang Mai Street Carnival as well known as the Pattaya Music Festival, the Hua Hin Jazz Music Festival and the Samui Carnival. It will also be a stage for talented youth to showcase their abilities at a national level.

Organizers plan to divide the Mardi Gras into six different categories. The first will be the food and drink zone decorated in fancy Lanna style. The second will be a music festival featuring Thai artists. The third will be a cultural and performing arts program, from dance to play, alternating with a music carnival contest for 17 to 25 year olds. The fourth category will be street performances, with paintings elephants, and drawings by artists from the north. The fifth will be the Mardi Gras shopping and travel zone, which is designed for products and souvenirs, tourist information and services as well as an area for the street carnival OTOP zone, and kad mua or traditional morning market. Finally, the sixth category will be “the highlights”, a unique parade which is still in the planning stages, but the rumors say that even a parade of diplomats, consuls, and embassy officials could be in the offing.

Live web broadcast during the grand opening ceremony will be done and this year there will be parades, a fancy dress contest, a beauty contest and several bands and musicians who already have confirmed their attendance. They include famous artists and singers from Korea and Taiwan, Ad Carabao, the Beatlenuts Band, the Dynamics, the Nuveau Brothers, a concert of KOH (Mr. Saxman), guitar kings of Thailand Lam Morisson and “Gun” Kitti, as well as the Elvises of Chiang Mai.

Member of Expedition Mekong 2002 visits Chiang Mai

Cyriel Van Tilborgh remembers his travel experience

Reinhard Hohler

At the end of August, Belgian Cyriel van Tilborgh, director of the KBC Bank in Antwerp and professor of marketing at Lessius University, spoke about his past experiences with Expedition Mekong 2002 that was co-organized by Armin Schoch.

Cyriel explained that travelling was always a passion for him. His philosophy in life was always to mix his career with his passionate hobby of travel. Many people start ‘living’ too late in life and postpone ambitious travel projects until their retirement, which he feels is not a good thing to do.

Travelling on waterways is an unforgettable experience, because you are in closest contact with the daily life of the local people. This was the reason Cyriel joined Expedition Mekong in November 2002, covering the six countries of the Greater Mekong Sub-region (GMS), comprising Yunnan/China, Myanmar, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam.

The exciting expedition was not his maiden trip within the region of dragons, spirits and lotus flowers. He had already been to Vietnam and had authored a beautifully illustrated book about Vietnam in the series “Colors of the World” published in Belgium.

Remembering Expedition Mekong 2002, he said that sometimes it was really difficult to find the right way in the labyrinth of river channels surrounded by forests. The heavy hovercraft was often difficult to handle near rapids and other obstacles. Nevertheless, travelling by water gave him a new impression of different colors every minute. These were memories which will stay a lifetime.

Such travelling gives you three important different experiences. First, you have to prepare in detail what the project is about and then of course, you have the trip itself and its realization, and lastly and maybe the most valuable experience is to recall all the travel adventures, specific anecdotes and exciting happenings after the trip at home. To summarize all these experiences into a book is the absolute highlight.

Regarding the vexed question of travel to Myanmar, Cyriel believes that it is better to inspire other travellers to visit the country and not to stay away because of the military government. It makes more sense when many more “eyes” see the country, to understand and support the local population.