How does Chiang Mai compare with other tourist destinations?
American Jack Kelly, consultant to J.E. Austin &
Associates and the Kenan Institute Asia in Bangkok has spelt out some of the
problems and solutions for Chiang Mai’s tourism. He made a high-tech
presentation to the Informal Northern Thai Group at their meeting held at
the Alliance Francaise in Chiang Mai on September 7. Approximately 40
visitors attended, including tourism-related entrepreneurs.
Kelly (left) describes Chiang Mai’s tourism industry to participants in
his talk at the Alliance Francaise.
Kelly allowed questions and comments during his talk on
the “Chiang Mai Charm Cluster Situation Analysis and Strategic Plan”. He
divulged statistics on the numbers of tourists in Chiang Mai and the average
daily expenditure. He cited a benchmark analysis that showed a daily average
expenditure of US$ 67 and a four-day stay. Compared with Bangkok and Phuket,
it appears that tourists spend less money in Chiang Mai.
Even though tourists in Chiang Mai spend a higher daily
average than in Bali (US$ 50) and Nepal (US$ 49), Chiang Mai compares
unfavourably when considering the length of stay in Bali (6 days) and in
Nepal (7.9 days). Furthermore, the average foreign tourist in Chiang Mai
spends 2,753 baht per day, 27 percent less than the national average (3,748
Kelly did not want to go into depth about the problems in
the tourism industry in Chiang Mai. But his ‘developed cluster’ concept
targeted niche markets such as golf, spas and eco-tourism, to reposition
Chiang Mai as a premium destination with world-class tourism services that
maximize its rich cultural history, unique charm and hospitality.
One of the key findings of the benchmark study was that
Chiang Mai should have its own marketing team or Tourism Promotion,
Convention and Visitors Bureau. At present, there is no such effective
marketing arm to serve and promote Chiang Mai as a tourist destination. The
Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) markets Thailand effectively, but is not
designed or equipped for Chiang Mai only. There should also be English
language training for tourism professionals and a Chiang Mai web site.
However, during the talk, there were concerns about a decreasing quality
of life and lack of a mass transportation system, considered the main
obstacles to promoting Chiang Mai’s tourism and encouraging tourists to
spend more days in the city and revisit it.
Shop in the skies with Thai AirAsia
Thai AirAsia has introduced new in-flight services.
Thai AirAsia claims it now has the most complete and exciting range of
in-flight products of any low-cost carrier in Thailand. This ranges from
serving an own food and beverage product line to fun and fashionable
AirAsia merchandise and in-flight duty free items.
With the introduction of its in-flight duty free
programme, now available on all international flights, Thai AirAsia
features a range of duty free products including popular fragrances and
cosmetics, watches and jewelry, fun gift items for adults and children and
confectionary products for those with a sweet tooth. AirAsia’s first
duty free catalogue includes over 50 products and a range of specialized
“made in Thailand” products will be offered in the near future.
Thai AirAsia merchandise includes Thai AirAsia red and
black polo shirts and hats. Also featured is a range of t-shirts. The
collection line includes AirAsia model aircraft, thermos mugs, pens, key
rings and other items.
Thai AirAsia offers a selection of food and beverage on
every flight with their own brand “SnackAttack” prepared daily,
exclusively for Thai AirAsia, and a range of sandwiches and snacks.
AirAsia also provides hot and cold beverages on every flight, including
coffee, juices and soft drinks, all sold at prices generally cheaper than
Two thousand air marshals for Chinese flights
The China Civil Aviation Bureau has announced that
2,000 air marshals have completed an intensive training program and have
been deployed on over 1,000 domestic routes. Additional security personnel
will be assigned to international flights and “sensitive domestic
Though trained in combat, emergency management and
negotiation, the air marshals - in plainclothes, armed in some cases, and
sitting inconspicuously among the passengers - will likely find themselves
dealing with transgressions more common on Chinese flights than hijackings
or other acts of terrorism: The China Youth Daily reports their main
duties will be preventing passengers from making cell phone calls,
smoking, and taking other people’s seats (TTG Asia)
TAT to offer cut-price tours as oil prices pinch
Holidays are often the first thing to fall by the
wayside when rising oil prices force the public to tighten their belts.
But the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) hopes to capitalize on the new
era of economy and scrimping by joining hands with tour agencies to
provide cut-price tours, in a bid to stimulate the domestic tourism
With support from Orient Thai Airlines, Aeon Thana
Sinsap and Kasikorn Bank Public Company Limited the TAT is organizing
tours on nine popular routes that are aimed to be ‘easy on the purse,
easy on the mind’.
Destinations for the tours, which are designed to save
both time and money, include the southern Phuket and Phi Phi islands, and
the northern province of Chiang Mai. Prices start at just 4,990 baht
exclusive of VAT. Not only are the prices low, but people who book places
on the group tours will be given the chance to pay for their holiday in up
to 24 installments. (TNA)
Airline war hots up
Gloves off between Thai AirAsia and Singapore’s Tiger Airways
Thai AirAsia is going toe to toe with Singapore’s
budget carrier, Tiger Airways, to protect its reputation of offering the
lowest airfares in the region. A single trip between Bangkok and Singapore
is being advertised by Thai AirAsia for travel between the capitals, from
September 15 to October 15, for an 11 baht fare (or 49 Singapore cents),
with certain conditions applying.
The timing of the announcement coincides with Tiger
Airways offer of a single flight between the same two airports for S$ 1.00
(22 baht), again with conditions applying. Tiger Airways S$1 fare is only
for flights to Bangkok from Sept 15-21; to Phuket from Sept 22-28; and to
Hat Yai from Sept 29-Oct 5.
Despite the travel conditions applying to the extremely
low price flight tickets, at face value it would be difficult to undercut
the Thai AirAsia offer. “These fare discounts on the Singapore-Bangkok
route are the lowest that the region has ever seen,” said Thai AirAsia
CEO, Tassapon Bijleveld.
The conditions that apply to the Thai AirAsia discount
tickets are firstly that bookings can only be made from September 9,
onwards, and are only available on-line at www.airasia.com. All bookings
must be made five days in advance of the requested travel dates. There are
also only 5,000 seats being made available for the 30 day period, which
equates to just over 40 seats per flight in either direction.
The additional charges that will apply to the rock
bottom fare include 50 baht for administration fees, 50 baht for
insurance, 50 baht in Thai passenger service charges and approximately 460
baht for airport tax in Singapore. Passengers leaving Thailand must also
pay an airport tax on departure of 500 baht. However, this is still a very
low fare, even with all the ‘add-ons’.
Thai AirAsia, a joint venture between PM Thaksin
Shinawatra’s family company Shin Corp and Malaysia’s AirAsia Berhad,
presently operates two daily flights connecting Bangkok and Singapore. The
airline initially launched flights to Singapore in February this year,
with a second service being introduced in March to cater to the demand.