Skal International is one of the oldest tourism and travel organizations
in the world, with over 23,000 members in 500 clubs spanning 87 countries.
It has been present in Thailand for more than 50 years, but despite strong
growth in Samui and Pattaya, Chiang Mai’s club membership diminished after
the 1997 economic crash and Skal International Chiang Mai was left as
another casualty of the imploding Asian economy.
Sinclair-Thompson, (GM Thailand, Myanmar, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam for
Swiss International Airlines and 1st
vice president of Skal International Thailand), with David Thomas from Wanna
Tours Chiang Mai.
However, all that looks as if it will change. At the 27th
Annual General Meeting of Skal Clubs in Thailand, held at the Rydges Amora
Tapae, travel and tourism leaders from all over Thailand descended on Chiang
Mai. With the growth in the hospitality industry being particularly strong
in the North, much discussion ensued as to how this momentum can be
harnessed to allow the professionals in the North to network with the rest
of Thailand and the world. The answer, the meeting concluded, was quite
simple. Skal International Chiang Mai and the North should be reborn!
Dumur (Asst. MD The Legend Chiang Rai) talks with Malai Sakolviphak (Pacific
Leisure Group and president Skal International Thailand).
That evening, at a most convivial dinner organized by
Chiang Mai’s energetic Arie de Keijzer (Rydges Amora Tapae), the Skal
International members, friends, partners and leading Chiang Mai
professionals all expressed interest in Chiang Mai, both as a tourist
destination, and as a future stronghold for tourism networking. In other
words, Skal International.
Speakers at the dinner came from all facets of travel and
tourism, with Thailand President Malai Sakolviphak (Pacific Leisure Group
Bangkok) reaffirming the strong stance taken by Skal International in
assisting the tsunami-affected South of Thailand.
Skalleagues catching up – Marion Vogt (sales and marketing Chiangmai
Mail), Andrew Khoo (GM Hard Rock Hotel Pattaya), and MC of the evening
Michael Vogt (MD Chiangmai Mail).
Brian Sinclair-Thompson, the local driving force behind
the rebirth of Swiss International, and president of the Bangkok chapter,
also spoke on the need for Thailand to get behind the many rescue packages
to assist the members in the South.
These ideas were also emphasized by others, including Bob
Lee (Welkom Hotels), president of the Pattaya and the East club, who has
recently returned from the World Congress which was held in South Africa and
showed the entry done by the Pattaya club in the eco-tourism awards, while
Rose Laodee (Artasia Press Phuket) spoke from the heart and expressed her
gratitude at what was being done for her island.
Schneider (Siam Sun Tours), Armin Schoch (Impulse Tourism) and Natalia
Kortchouganova, assistant SPA director Jirung Health Resort, during the
cocktail reception at the Rydges Amora Tapae.
During this year, there is the Skal International Asian
Congress which will be held in Phuket. This ravaged tourist resort island is
fighting to regain its place within Thailand’s tourism, and the advent of
the congress will assist the Phuket members to hang on, thankful of the
assistance that has been extended to them by Skal International.
“Peter” Malhotra, (MD Pattaya Mail Publishing and chairman of the board
Chiangmai Mail) in talks with Lilli Saxer (Impulse) who recently moved from
Myanmar to Chiang Mai.
The diners were also told of the forthcoming World
Congress (2006) that will be held in Thailand, in Pattaya. These congresses
will allow Thailand members to network with the world leaders in their
fields, and are exceptional opportunities for Thailand professionals to be
“doing business with friends,” the motto of the organization. With both
the Asian Congress and the World Congress, members of Skal International
have the chance to see the tourism and travel potentials in the global
business with friends are Arie de Keijzer (GM Rydges Amora Tapae Chiangmai
Hotel) and Eleanor Hardy (GM The Chedi Chiang Mai).
For many of the dinner guests, Skal International was
very well known to them, such as Armin Schoch (Impulse), David Thomas (Wanna
Tours) and Shane Beary (Track of the Tiger), and all of them know the
advantages that such a ‘special interest’ organization can have not only
for them, but for Thailand’s increasing prosperity.
The media was well represented, with Chiangmai Mail
and Pattaya Mail out in force, and a TV documentary was filmed by ChiangmaiMail
using the newspaper’s executive editor as anchorman. Other media people
included Margaret Bhadungzong, Horst Hornung (Samui Journal), and Ramlah
Magnusson. Hoteliers were also out in force, with Andrew Khoo (Hard Rock
Hotel Pattaya), Vitaya Whangpattanathon (Chaweng Regent, Samui), Marc Dumur
(The Legend Chiang Rai), Wim Fagel (Amari Rincome), Prinyar Prinyarnussorn
(Northern Heritage Resort and Spa), Jason Friedman (Four Seasons) and
Eleanor Hardy, GM of the soon the be opened The Chedi, Chiang Mai, all seen
exchanging business cards with the travel representatives.
Chiang Mai travel and tourism professionals who would
like more information on the organization should contact Skal International
Thailand, 02 652 0506 or email: [email protected]
Beary, David Thomas (Wanna Tours) and Shane Beary (Track of the Tiger Tours)
after a very enjoyable night at the Rydges Amora Tapae dinner.
managers, executives, Skal International members and prospective members
enjoyed an informative dinner reception after the National Committee meeting
of Skal International.
Coffee time after the networking business was over.