TRAVEL & TOURISM
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Thai Aviation History at Lamphun

THAI assistance for those affected by Southern tsunami

Tourists, if you want to help us, book your trip now

Keep the relief effort going

Thai Aviation History at Lamphun

John Cable

Most people don’t even know that Lamphun City has an airport, but a little bit of history was made there on Thursday Dec 30 at 4.55 p.m. when the first Thai glider took to the skies. The first flight, a test flight required as part of the procedure for listing on the Thai register (Thai aircraft have the registration HS-xxx) lasted only a little over ten minutes, but marks the beginning of what is hoped to be the start of a very popular sport.

The Blanik makes a perfect landing after the first flight by a glider in Thailand.

The Czechoslovakian Blanik L13 glider built in 1966, piloted by Stuart Coulson, was air-towed by a Piper Super Cub tug aircraft. The glider’s owner, Tony Smallwood was at the controls of the tug, and the two aircraft made several passes across the airfield before being released for Stuart to make an absolutely perfect touchdown, followed by the Super Cub.

Stuart Coulson is a commercial pilot (and qualified dentist) and both an experienced tug and glider pilot. As there is nobody in Thailand who has aero towed before his help was necessary for the initial test flights. It is hoped to check and qualify Yves and another instructor for aero towing in the immediate future so there are Thailand based tug pilots available.

The Blanik rolls gently to a standstill after the Thailand maiden voyage.

The Super Cub which has just received its Thai Certificate of Air worthiness and the registration number HS-JUL and is owned by Pierre-Yves Vandermeerch and was brought from the UK at the same time as the glider. Yves and Tony hope to be soon training Thai glider pilots, with the aircraft being based at Baan Thi which is just 10 km from Lamphun.

Gliders have no engine, and are towed into the air by another aircraft, or winched into the air. In the right weather conditions, they can remain airborne for many hours and cover hundreds of kilometers. The record altitude is about 50,000 feet, which is higher than an airliner flies, but altitudes of 8 to 10 thousand feet are more normal.

The L13 glider has a single wheel undercarriage, and requires a person to hold one wing-tip up at the beginning of the take off. For the test flight, student pilots from Chiang Mai Flying Club, where Tony is chief flying instructor, assisted. Congratulations to all concerned, and look for the sleek machine in the skies above Lamphun. Further information is available from [email protected]


THAI assistance for those affected by Southern tsunami

THAI’s president, Kanok Abhiradee, along with members of management and employees packed shipments of emergency supplies, food, water, and clothing donated by the general public, the entertainment industry, THAI employees, THAI Employees Association, and the THAI Employees Union. The emergency aid shipment was transported on board THAI’s regular flights to Phuket. Shipments for Krabi were sent on regular Bangkok-Krabi flights.

People wishing to make donations in the form of clothes, dry or canned food, drinking water, and necessary personal items for those affected by the tidal wave in Southern Thailand may contact THAI’s Security Office on a 24 hour basis or call tel. (02) 545-2535 to 7 during business hours. Donors are asked to provide an itemized list of the goods donated on all boxes in order to facilitate separation and categorizing of items.


Tourists, if you want to help us, book your trip now

PATA

Based on its assessment of tourism infrastructure in tsunami-affected areas, the Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) wishes to emphasize that most properties and attractions in Indian Ocean destinations have sustained little or no damage.

Of PATA’s 45 Asia Pacific member countries, the coastal area of only eight were affected by the tsunami. Of those eight destinations, only the Maldives, Sri Lanka and Thailand suffered significant travel sector losses.

PATA believes that to support the speedy recovery of destinations, local employment and local self-sufficiency, consumers must be encouraged to proceed with their travel plans to the region. PATA President and CEO, Peter de Jong, said, “The human loss of this tragedy is unprecedented. However, the negative impact will only be exacerbated if tourists cancel or postpone their visits. Now more than ever, Indian Ocean countries want you to come to visit. Not only will tourism maintain jobs and boost local economies, it will also be a sign of support and solidarity, giving new hope and confidence to those who have begun to rebuild their lives and livelihoods. If you have not yet planned a visit, please consider booking a trip. If you wish to make a difference, visit the many safe and intact parts of the affected destinations. The money you spend and, importantly, the hearts you touch, will make a difference.”

PATA says the following key messages are important:
Tourists are welcome and needed
* if you really care about our destination, come visit us
* tourists’ enjoyment of a destination will be tangible support for its recovery
* you are assured of a very warm welcome

Parts of Bangladesh, India, Indonesia, Myanmar and Malaysia have experienced minimal damage to their travel and tourism infrastructure. Parts of the Maldives, Sri Lanka and Thailand have incurred damage to some tourism infrastructure, but the damage is local and rapidly being fixed. All airports in tourism-related areas in the tsunami-affected countries are operating normally. PATA encourages all travel professionals, travel agents, tour operators and media to clearly communicate the facts to potential travelers and encourage bookings.

Maldives

Of the island nation’s 87 resorts, 64 are currently operational. Many of those that have been damaged are expected to be operational within a matter of weeks or months. Only a handful of resorts have sustained considerable damage. For specific details on affected resorts, please refer to: http://www.visitmaldives.com.mv/mu/latest/update_situation _assessment.php.

Sri Lanka

Of Sri Lanka’s total hotel supply of 244 properties, 183 remain fully operational. The hardest hit districts of Sri Lanka include: Ampara, Hambantota, Galle, Kalutara, Matara and Trincomalee. A detailed listing of the condition of hotel properties and their respective conditions is available at: http://www.contactsrilanka.org/list_oftourists.htm.

Thailand

The damage to Thailand’s tourism industry is exclusively confined to the southern provinces adjoining the Andaman Sea: Phuket, Phangnga, Krabi, Ranong, Satun and Trang. Within these provinces the impact was varied and highly localized. Many places are operating normally. The remainder of Thailand’s tourism destinations were untouched by the tsunami and remain fully operational. The majority of tourism infrastructure in Phuket remains intact with only 10 percent of total rooms inventory impacted. The following recommended update by the Tourism Authority of Thailand provides specific details on which hotels remain operable and which have sustained minor or major damage. http://www. sa wadee.com/tsunami/ho tels.htm


Keep the relief effort going

One billion baht needed for Thai relief

Jeremy Colson,
TTG Asia

Initial estimates indicate that a budget of about one billion baht (USD 25 million) will be required to restore confidence in the tsunami-stricken provinces of Phang Nga, Krabi and Phuket.

Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) governor, Juthamas Sirawan said she had not yet submitted a request for funds to the government but would be doing so soon.

“It’s clear that we are going to need extra funds for a marketing and public relations campaign, which will also involve familiarization (fam) trips for agents and media,” Juthamas said. She added a final decision had not yet been made on what to call the recovery campaign.

Earlier reports that it would be called “Save Andaman” have led to criticism from Phuket-based businessmen who say it is wrong to bracket Phuket along with the Andaman as a whole. The managing director of Artasia, a publishing firm that specializes in Phuket, said Phuket should be promoted separately. “There’s no point in trying to sell or promote Khao Lak, there’s nothing there. By contrast, Phuket is largely unscathed. The TAT needs to wait for emotions to settle,” he said.

Hilton Phuket Arcadia Resort general manager, Peter Hourigan, said he hoped TAT would involve the private sector in the campaign. He also stressed the importance of not lumping all destinations in the same basket. “Khao Lak is a disaster. There’s nothing left there. It’s a different story here in Phuket. It’s true that Patong was badly hit but most of Phuket was totally untouched,” he added.