HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

Industrial Fair boosts Northern products

Samlors to the Night Bazaar in Chiang Rai

NGO community reflects on tsunami impact

Meritus to open second Thai property

Oriflame cosmetics whiten Chiang Mai

ASEAN Tourism Forum 2005 to promote peace and prosperity

Thai AirAsia celebrates one year in Thailand

Industrial Fair boosts Northern products

Saksit Meesubkwang

Industrial Fair 2005 was held from January 28 to February 6, 2005 at the Industrial Promotion Center, Chiang Mai.

Jakkramon Phasookwanich, permanent secretary of Industry Department and Banjong Piphatsamutra, chairman of the Industrial Fair 2005 Organization cut ribbon to open the fair.

Jakkramon Phasookwanich, permanent secretary of Industry Department, said that the Industrial Fair aimed at building networks and cooperation between entrepreneurs and improving and enhancing their competitiveness.

Banjong Piphatsamutra, chairman of the Industrial Fair 2005 Organization, said that the fair was arranged to support and promote Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs), expand international markets and make Northern Thai products known. He said that as business competition was intense, marketing strategies and competitiveness were crucial for all entrepreneurs.

Many upgraded SME products were displayed at the fair and an exhibition of industry related technologies was presented.

Samlors to the Night Bazaar in Chiang Rai

The Legend Chiang Rai Boutique River Resort & Spa is offering a tricycle (samlor) ride to the close by Night Bazaar. The staff has been specially trained on the Resort’s own Samlors! More information and bookings call 0 5391 0400 or e-mail Marc Dumur at [email protected]

NGO community reflects on tsunami impact

Owen Elias (Health and Development Networks)

The Indian Ocean tsunami of December 26 2004 had a devastating impact on the lives of coastal communities across the region. It also touched millions of people across the world who witnessed the tragedy unfolding in the media. The consequences of this event have been far-reaching and the NGO Forum held on January 25 at Health and Development Networks provided an opportunity for members of the NGO community to gather together and reflect on ‘the challenges and opportunities for NGOs in the aftermath of the tsunami’.

Many of the participants recounted first hand stories of the immediate impact of the tsunami. Everybody had emotional responses to share. Guest speakers Shanya Attasillekha, Jettaya Phaobtong and Veerayuth Triamsantipap had each experienced the full ferocity of the waves in Southern Thailand. Ajarn Sanun Wutti, Sean Litton and David M. Dauer had been involved in the relief effort in the immediate aftermath of the disaster, in Thailand, Banda Ache and Sri Lanka respectively.

Personal responses reflected the shock, concern and sorrow felt by all, but also other emotions - frustration at not knowing how to help; anger about the politicization of the official response; gratitude for the compassion and generosity shown to survivors; empathy for the victim’s families; and relief at having personally avoided tragedy.

The challenges identified varied considerably, depending on the work area of the participants, but one common issue of concern was funding. Many people were struck by the huge mobilization of resources in response to the tsunami and felt that the real challenge was how to raise the same level of concern for issues such as HIV/AIDS. Others expressed the fear that budgets were being directed away from other areas in response to the tsunami, and that funds raised may not be spent appropriately or distributed fairly.

Sean Litton, a lawyer working in child protection, expressed grave concern for children in Banda Ache, and other affected areas, whose vulnerability to sex trafficking may have been dramatically increased. Ilse Claes of Empower talked specifically of the challenges facing sex workers in affected areas of southern Thailand, many of whom are Burmese migrants who are afraid to ask for help because they lack proper identification.

In terms of opportunities, several participants felt that the response to the tsunami offered a ray of hope. People all over the world were moved to generosity and showed real concern for those in the developing south. If this compassion can be engaged for other issues it represents a great possibility. Other participants talked of the opportunity to develop local partners and build relationships with other organizations. Alison Campbell, of Internews spoke of the renewed interest of donors in their community media projects in Banda Ache. Before the forum was closed, a final question was posed, ‘What did you gain from today’s experience?’ Most of the participants felt that the opportunity to share their experiences with the community had been very rewarding. Shanya Attasillekha, of AHRN spoke for many in expressing appreciation for her group simply listening sympathetically to her story.

The aftermath of the tsunami obviously poses enormous challenges for reconstruction of communities in affected areas but, as the forum revealed, it perhaps challenges NGOs in other less obvious ways, stimulating re-evaluation. It also seems that it even offers some surprising opportunities. The NGO Forum takes place on the last Tuesday of every month. For more information, please contact Owen Elias at Health and Development Networks, 053 418 438 or [email protected]

Meritus to open second Thai property

Jeffrey Studebaker, TTG

Meritus Hotels and Resorts has announced plans to open a five-star, 150-key spa resort in Chiang Mai in early 2006 on the banks of the Mei Ping River.

The resort owner, Chiang Mai lord mayor, Boonlert Buranupakorn, is also the owner of a major teak factory, which will supply materials for the eighteenth-century Lanna-style property. In keeping with traditional construction techniques, no nails or concrete would be used.

Bangkok’s Meritus Suites State Tower general manager, Kaya Cansever, said the new property represents the latest move in the group’s expansion in Thailand.

In a parallel development, Accor has officially been named the operator for a new 600-key, 2.7 billion baht (USD 67.5 million) hotel at the new Bangkok airport to be named Novotel Suvarnabhumi and opened along with the airport at the end of September.

Accor won the bid over hotel companies Marriott, Carlson, Central Pattana and Amari Hotels and Resorts.

Oriflame cosmetics whiten Chiang Mai

Kristina Ostermann and Jan Schmidt
(student trainees)

Oriflame, a Swedish brand of natural cosmetics, introduced new products to Chiang Mai at the Airport Plaza Chiang Mai last Saturday. With the Oriflame theme being “White, Color Of Nature”, this had an immediate appeal with the local ladies, who all wish to be ‘white’.

The Lanna Fashion Show

The event was presided over by Dr. Jao Duandueng na Chiang Mai who told the audience how important it is today to get more back to nature. She said that Sweden is known for cleanliness and elegance, and that was exactly what this new cosmetic series embodies. Oriflame believes in enhancing people’s natural looks rather than concealing them and they also perform no animal testing.

Guests at the opening were entertained by the music of well known artist Koh Saxman, and an elegant Lanna Fashion Show.

ASEAN Tourism Forum 2005 to promote peace and prosperity

Reinhard Hohler

The 24th ASEAN Tourism Forum (ATF) was held on January 21-29 in Langkawi, one of the premier destinations in Malaysia. ASEAN comprises the ten destinations of Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. The theme was “Shifting Paradigm – Prospering the Region” to benefit the ASEAN tourism businesses as well as the region’s economy.

Relaxed former Prime Minister of Malaysia, H.E. Tun Mahathir Bin Mohamad (left) during an interview with the international press and flanked by the Malaysian Minister of Tourism, Datuk Dr. Leo Michael Toyad (right).

It was an honor for Malaysia to play host to ASEAN’s flagship tourism event for the 5th time since its debut in Kuala Lumpur in 1981. Since then, the ATF has gained increasing worldwide recognition as a platform for the gathering of ASEAN tourism ministers and senior officials to address current issues and formulate new policies. In addition, the forum offers the opportunity for travel industry players to network with a large number of international buyers and members of the media. The official opening ceremony of ATF2005 was held on Eagle Square, the island’s most prominent landmark at Lankawi island’s main town Kuah, where the take-off point to neighboring islands is located.

At this year’s forum being only shortly after the tsunami that hit the countries around the Indian Ocean on December 26, there were 1,800 delegates, including 403 buyers, 405 seller organizations, and 198 media to descend on the beautiful island of Langkawi. (Actually, Langkawi comprises a group of 99 exotic islands and is developed along the lines of Phuket in Thailand and Bali in Indonesia.)

Idyllic landscape on the island of Langkawi, Malaysia

Most of the media was booked into the inland Kampung Tok Senik Resort, which is made up of Malay-styled chalets surrounded by vast rice fields and a chain of rolling hills. Nearby was the mausoleum of Mahsuri, also called Lady White Blood, who was unjustly sentenced to death for adultery in the 18th century.

The highlight of the program was the ASEAN Tourism Conference on January 26 with Malaysia’s former Prime Minister, H.E. Tun Dr. Mahathir Bin Mohamad, the keynote speaker. Dr. Mahathir made his points by advocating a need to change our mindsets in order to attain greater prosperity after the crises of SARS, bird flu, terrorism and political conflicts.

On a positive note, the former Prime Minister promotes Southeast Asia as a single destination and vaunted its humidity as a factor in staying youthful. “If you want to stay young, come to Southeast Asia,” he said. Furthermore, he singled out the tourism industry as a “catch” business that is better than selling guns. He described the human race as not civilized yet and mentioned wars have been killing people since the Stone Age. “Killing people to solve problems is very primitive and to be against wars is the only solution to solve problems between nations”, he concluded.

Vietnam and Myanmar hosted special dinners for invited delegates, and there were late night functions by Malaysia Airlines and by the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, Indonesia.

The closing ceremony at the Telaga Harbour Park featured the announcement by U Thay Aung, Director-General from the Ministry of Hotels and Tourism, Myanmar that they would hold ATF2006 on January 13-21, 2006 in Yangon under the theme of “Strengthening partnership towards peace, prosperity, and progress.” We will all wait for that!

For further information, please contact Reinhard Hohler, GMS Media Travel Consultant, by email sara

Thai AirAsia celebrates one year in Thailand

The first anniversary of Thai AirAsia was celebrated in style with ‘give-aways’ of free flights over many radio and TV channels during all of February. They will also sell package tours to many destinations in Thailand and special rates with two hotels in Singapore.

Tassapon Bijleveld, (middle with black T-Shirt) with well wishers and a huge birthday cake for the 1st birthday of Thai AirAsia

Five hotels from the Accor Group in Thailand will cooperate with AirAsia and offer special accommodation rates. Sofitel Raja Orchid Khon Kaen is 1,600 baht per night, Panwa Beach Resort Phuket 1,800 baht per night, Novotel Central Sukhontha Hat Yai 1,810 baht per night, Novotel Coralia Phuket 3,000 baht per night and Novotel Chiang Mai 1,420 baht per night. The Singapore special rates are the Grand Mercure Roxy Hotel S$ 110 per night and the Novotel Clarke Quay S$ 120 per night. These promotion rates include daily breakfast for two persons and are valid until March 26, 2005.