TRAVEL & TOURISM
HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

Travel Fair attendees welcomed by Mandarin Oriental Dhara Dhevi

New faces at Four Seasons Resort Chiang Mai

SEAGA conference coincided with annual Silk Fair

Thaitravelmart.com gives tourism enterprises global platform

Travel Fair attendees welcomed by Mandarin Oriental Dhara Dhevi

Mandarin Oriental Dhara Dhevi in conjunction with the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) hosted a traditional Lanna-style banquet complete with fireworks display in their new property in Chiang Mai.

(From left to right): Margaret Bhadungzong, Nutteera Khachornlikitkhul, director of TAT Stockholm office; Savas Rattakunjara, executive assistant manager of Mandarin Oriental Dhara Dhevi, Chiang Mai; Pornsiri Manoharn, deputy governor for International Marketing of TAT; Junnapong Saranak, director of TAT, Northern Region; Chaichatri Limcharoon, chairman of Chiang Mai Provincial Organization; Dr. Ken Santitham, municipal clerk of Chiang Mai Municipality; Boonlert Buranupakorn, Chiang Mai City mayor and Pornchai Jitnavasatien, mayoral secretary.

The dinner was to welcome over 350 guests who were in Chiang Mai to attend the “Chiang Mai and North Travel Show, 2004”.

The guests included Thai dignitaries Pornsiri Manoharn, deputy governor for International Marketing of TAT; Boonlert Buranupakorn Chiang Mai City mayor and Chaichatri Limcharoon, chairman of Chiang Mai Provincial Organization. Other guests at the banquet included overseas tourism operators, plus international and domestic travel agents.

The banquet was preceded by a display of traditional Lanna pageantry that included music, dancing and candlelit processions.

Mandarin Oriental Dhara Dhevi, Chiang Mai, is one of the city’s newest world class resorts. The Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group’s sister property, the Oriental, Bangkok, is regarded as one of the world’s best hotels.


New faces at Four Seasons Resort Chiang Mai

Four Seasons Resort Chiang Mai announce the appointment of Andrew Harrison as general manager and Titiya Chooto as resort manager.

A native of U.K., Andrew Harrison brings over 20 years of extensive international hotel experience to this new posting. He joined the resort from the Four Seasons Resort Aviara, USA where he held the position of hotel manager for the past year.

Andrew Harrison

His career includes previous postings as resort manager at Four Seasons Resort Palm Beach, resident manager at Regent Kuala Lumpur (a Four Seasons managed hotel) as well as executive assistant manager at Four Seasons Resort Bali at Jimbaran Bay, which included the opening of the Four Seasons Resort Bali at Sayan.

Andrew Harrison is a graduate of the Blackpool College of Further and Higher Education (UK) with diploma in Hotel and Catering Management and Business Administration. He has held a number of operational positions in his native UK, Switzerland, Russia and France and is fluent in French, German, Indonesian and Russian.

After moving to Thailand he said, “I am delighted to be part of the hotel’s enthusiastic team and to have the opportunity to share the well known Thai hospitality with our guests.” In his new position Harrison will oversee all resort operations reporting directly to Neil Jacobs, senior vice president operations Asia/Pacific. He is joined by his wife, Francette and daughter Nikita.

Titiya Chooto, who is Thai, brings over 20 years of extensive international hotel experience to this new posting as resort manager. She joins Four Seasons from the Shangri-La Hotel in Bangkok where she held the position of executive assistant manager – rooms.

Prior to this, Ms. Titiya was working in the same capacity at the Hilton Hotel in London, UK following three years as personnel & training manager at the same hotel. Other positions include purchasing manager at the Anglo-American School in Moscow, Russia as well as postings in hotels in Sussex and Surrey, UK. In Thailand, Titiya previously oversaw the pre-opening front office operations at the Novotel Bangkok. In addition to her mother tongue, she is fluent in English and speaks conversational Norwegian.

In her new position Ms Titiya will oversee the resort operation reporting directly to Andrew Harrison, general manager.


SEAGA conference coincided with annual Silk Fair

Khon Khen welcomed 100 international geographers

Reinhard Hohler

During November 29-December 2, the 7th Southeast Asian Geography Association’s (SEAGA) international conference was held at the Charoen Thani Princess Hotel in Khon Kaen. The theme ‘Development and Change in an era of Globalization’ was timely and had brought more than 100 geographers from all around the world to Isaan’s modern historic city, which also celebrated its annual Silk Fair Festival when the conference took place.

Khon Kaen, the new gateway to Indochina. The bus hub of the north-east.

Professor Dr. Sekson Yongvanit, Director of the Research Center for Mekong Regional Tourism, Khon Kaen University, and Professor Kim Chuan Goh, National Institute of Education at the Nanyang Technological University Singapore, jointly organized the conference, providing 40 sessions for academics, policy-makers and geography teachers to present their relevant research.

In his keynote speech, Professor Jonathan Rigg, Department of Geography, University of Durham, U.K. stressed that Thai identity is based on agriculture and should not be undermined by too much industrialization. The professor did his very factual PhD thesis in Maha Sarakham, one of Isaan’s poorest provinces. He also linked a kind of new poverty to the redistribution of land.

Very enlightening was the presentation by researchers from Khon Kaen University to focus on the potential of tourism development in Isaan, Thailand’s Northeast, regarding accommodation, foodservice, souvenir market, souvenir goods, media design, domestic tourism routes and being a gateway to Laos, Vietnam and Cambodia. But here the question arises, why does Isaan have no international airport?

Referring to the co-operation in the Greater Mekong Sub-region (GMS), Khun Apichai Sunchindah, United Nations Resident Coordinator Office, Bangkok analyzed the ongoing cooperative frameworks that appeared since 1992 in the region and assessed the likelihood of achieving a wider co-existence and peace.

The first day included an interesting tour of Khon Kaen University Campus. Like the University in Chiang Mai, Khon Kaen University was established in 1964 and has 16 faculties, including the Mekong Institute that provides specialized training and serves the countries of the GMS.

In another keynote speech, German Professor Dr. Hans Gebhardt, Department of Geography, University of Heidelberg examined the impact of international migration and transnational tourism on the region of Isaan. The booming tourism industry in Thailand ultimately produced a labor out-migration of Isaan villagers, who were victims of loan sharks since the 1970’s. But with the opening to the borders of neighboring Laos and Cambodia, Isaan should be better integrated into the existing tourism network and will be part of multi-cultural tours in the future. The professor singled out the Swiss Diethelm Travel Company in Bangkok, which is the pioneer in the region and initiated the idea of expedition-style tailored tours to Yunnan and other GMS countries.

On the final day of the conference, a lively half-day panel on the Mekong region was moderated by Australian Philip Hirsch, Associate Professor of the School of Geo-Sciences, Division of Geography, University of Sydney who drew on a project coordinated by the Australian Mekong Resource Center (AMRC). The project brings together nine universities highlighting perspectives, linkages and lessons to be learned. Chinese Professor Huang Guang Cheng from the Yunnan Academy of Social Sciences, Kunming shared his rich material taken in the borderland of Qinghai, Tibet and Myanmar, including the 290m high Manwan Dam in Yunnan.

There were two one day post-conference field trips to the Nam Nao National Park at the border of North and Northeast Thailand and to the Dinosaur Park and museum at the foot of Phu Khum Khao. At this site, over 700 pieces of 130 million year old dinosaur bones of seven vegetarian dinosaurs have been discovered. The Department of Mineral Resources in Kalasin constructed the museum, which is open daily to visitors.

The 8th SEAGA international conference will be in Vietnam in 2006.


Thaitravelmart.com gives tourism enterprises global platform

Autsadaporn Kamthai

The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) has launched Thailand’s largest and hopefully most effective inter-business website, www.thaitravelmart.com to support tourism entrepreneurs and SMEs.

Sansern Ngaorangsi, executive director of Information Technology, Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) introduces the Thaitravelmart.com website to Chiang Mai tourism entrepreneurs.

“Realizing that some small business entrepreneurs cannot afford to join the Thailand Travel Mart held in foreign countries, the TAT came up with the idea of building the website, which will give them the opportunity to reach foreign buyers,” Sansern Ngaorangsi, TAT executive director of Information Technology, said. The website Thaitravelmart.com will act as a trading conduit for Thai sellers and foreign buyers.

“Cyber network is a new trend for Thailand’s tourism trade, so entrepreneurs need to be well equipped with Internet skills,” Sansern said. At present, about 70 percent of foreign tourists retrieve information on Thailand through the Internet.

“Chiang Mai has great potential for tourism growth, and many innovative types of tourism occur in Chiang Mai, like balloon tours and language tours,” he said.

Interested tourism services and products can register with the website free of charge. The website would be promoted in 17 overseas countries via TAT offices in January next year, said Sansern. So far, up to 500 Thai agents have registered.