HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

AIS and 500 affiliates offer privileges to Chiang Mai and the North

Hundred year anniversary of death of Adolf Bastian

Budget Airlines Announced Fuel Surcharge, effective May 1

PATA faces stiff challenges ahead –A report from Macau

AIS and 500 affiliates offer privileges to Chiang Mai and the North

Nopniwat Krailerg

Advance Info Service, with almost 500 business affiliates in Chiang Mai, introduced new privileges for AIS Card holders.

AIS has cooperated with businesses in Chiang Mai to provide benefits with an AIS Card.

Pongsak Tonwisut, director of Northern Region Office of Advance Info Service said, “AIS has identified 2 million important AIS customers in the northern region who are using our services, such as GSM Advance, GSM 1800, and 1-2 Call. Therefore, AIS has joined forces with almost 500 affiliates in Chiang Mai, to offer more value for the benefit of our customers. Using the card, customers can satisfy their needs in several sectors such as entertainment, education, health, technology, beauty and relaxation. There are 3,500 associated businesses throughout the country that intend to serve AIS customers.”

Clients using GSM Advance and GSM 1800 for more than six months will receive the card by mail, and 1-2 Call clients could ask for the card at AIS offices throughout the country. It is expected that there will be 1,000 affiliations in Chiang Mai by the end of this year.

Hundred year anniversary of death of Adolf Bastian

Famous German (1826-1905) remembered

Reinhard Hohler

Credits to describe the ruins of Angkor in its complexity and later researched by the scholars of the L’Ecole Francaise d’Extreme-Orient should go to German Dr. Adolf Bastian - a ship’s doctor turned ethnologist. Bastian traveled in Thailand in 1862/63 and reached Angkor only 3 years after the French naturalist Henri Mouhot, who is officially recognized as the discoverer of Angkor.

Adolf Bastian 1826-1905

Adolf Bastian was born in Bremen on June 26, 1826. He was educated as a physician in Heidelberg, Jena and Wuerzburg and earned his medical degree from Charles University at Prague in 1850. Proceeding to Australia in 1851 as surgeon on a merchant vessel, he had visited New Zealand, South Sea, South- and North America, East Asia, India, Near East, and Africa, before his return to Europe in 1859.

Two years later, Bastian embarked on a more ambitious trip to study in details the peoples and cultures of Southeast Asia. Crossing the Bay of Bengal from Madras, he arrived in Burma, when the British had occupied the port town of Rangoon, and started on November 1, 1861 to row the Irawadi River up to Pagan and Mandalay. There he got an audience with King Mindon and stayed several weeks in his palace to study and research Burmese Buddhism.

Later he traveled along the foot of the Shan Plateau and reached Moulmein at the delta of the Salween River. From there he went up to Myawadi and crossed the Siamese border in November 1862. Hiring elephants from the Karen hill tribe, he arrived in Tak, from where he traveled on the Ping River via Kamphaeng Phet to Nakhon Sawan. Living several months in Bangkok, he got an audience with King Mongkut and marveled at the Emerald Buddha in Wat Phra Keo. He studied the life in the monasteries, Buddhist law, the customs of the people, the spirit world, festivals, and games of the Siamese.

On November 30, 1863 Bastian started his voyage of exploration to Cambodia in a boat of the missionary Dr. House. He reached Prachinburi and traveled via Kabinburi and Aranyaprathet to Siem Reap. His wanderings and discoveries there were published in the German journal “Petermanns Mitteilungen X” in 1864 running 223 pages. Later, he crossed the Tonle Sap Lake from Siem Reap to Battambang, from where he struggled his way through tropical forest and marshland to reach the seat of royalty in Udong.

He was a foreign witness, when Prince Norodom was crowned as the new king of Cambodia. On February 11, 1864 he arrived in Phnom Penh to hit the Mekong River. After 6 days in a flimsy boat on the river, he had passed Mytho and reached Saigon on February 17, 1864. Then, he continued his journey on a steamboat to Singapore.

From Singapore, he visited the Indonesian archipelago and Manila in the Philippines. From there he traveled to Japan, China, Mongolia, Siberia, and the Caucasus. Upon his return to Europe in 1866, he settled in Berlin, where he was made professor of ethnology at the university and curator of the ethnological museum.

Not content to rest on his laurels, his restless life continued and Bastian undertook more travels in Africa, South America, and India. On his 70th birthday - 1896 - during which year he started on an expedition to the Malay States, he was presented with a volume of essays compiled by the most distinguished ethnologists of that time in celebration of this event and dedicated to him. Interesting to note is that Bastian was also honorary founding member of the Siam Society Bangkok in 1904.

During his ninth journey through the world, at the age of 79, he died on February 3, 1905 in Port of Spain on the Caribbean Island of Trinidad. Many future generations of explorers and scholars will remember one of the great explorers and will study his many written works, which have only recently been translated into English.

Budget Airlines Announced Fuel Surcharge, effective May 1

TQ Agency

Thailand’s three budget carriers, Nok Air, One-Two-Go, and Thai AirAsia, announced a fuel surcharge to attempt to recoup the increasing cost of aviation fuel. The carriers’ fuel surcharge, effective May 1, will be THB 200 (excluding VAT) per ticket for domestic flights, and THB 400 for international flights (this may vary depending on the international destinations’ regulations).

“With the constantly escalating cost of aviation fuel, and its serious impact on all our operating costs, it is necessary to put in place this fuel surcharge,” said Patee Sarasin, CEO of Nok Air. “Needless to say, as low cost carriers, the last thing any of us want to do is to raise our prices, but in this current situation we have had no choice but to implement the surcharges. All of us have been equally affected and can no longer absorb these additional costs. The surcharge will help us but it certainly does not cover what we have had to absorb over the past several months. We plan on reviewing the situation quarterly from here on out, so as to reflect the market.”

“The airlines have been facing the growing pressure of the ever increasing world oil prices since the beginning of the 2005. Now, with oil prices reaching their highest level, we have all been forced to levy this surcharge to offset the costs of aviation fuel. The airlines will adjust the surcharge once the situation is back to normal,” noted Tassapon Bijleveld, CEO of Thai AirAsia.

“We think our passengers, and those looking at purchasing our tickets, will understand why this surcharge was necessary. We will be reviewing the situation regularly, and certainly hope that oil prices will stabilize, and even go down,” concluded Udom Tantiprasongchai, CEO of One-Two-Go.

PATA faces stiff challenges ahead –A report from Macau

The 55th PATA Annual Conference will take place in Pattaya in April 2006

Reinhard Hohler

The 54th Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) Annual Conference officially opened on April 17 with a spectacular reception at the Taipa Houses-Museum, organized by, the Macau Host Committee, comprising representatives of the SAR’s public- and private-sector tourism stakeholders.

In the Opening Ceremony on April 18, H.E. Edmund Ho, Chief Executive of the Macau Special Administrative Region welcomed 1,176 delegates from 44 countries to Macau. “We foresee a strong and solid growth in the tourism industry as well as the vast opportunities,” said Mr Ho. “We have no illusions about the challenges ahead of us.” He added: “As you are fully aware, many of these challenges are not unique but universal, shared by many of our partners in this region. We value our participation in PATA and we firmly believe that we all will become stronger and better through our closer partnership and co-operation.”

During the PATA Presidential Address, Peter de Jong asked delegates to stand for one minute of silence in remembrance of the more than 170,000 people killed and some 100,000 people still missing and feared dead as a result of the December 26, 2004 Indian Ocean quake and tsunami.

Mr de Jong said: Sadder but wiser from our recent years’ experience dealing with the Bali bombing, with SARS, with Avian Flu, and our successful Phoenix recovery campaign, PATA is now, more than ever, ready to respond rapidly to crises that threaten our region.”

Mr de Jong went on to outline the Association’s rapid and authoritative response to the December 26 quake and tsunami tragedy. He said: “Our response to the tsunami, when viewed in total, is part and parcel of PATA’s transformation into an agile, knowledge-based and advocacy-embracing travel trade association.”

Following a colorful Macanese cultural performance, International Air Transport Association Director General and CEO Giovanni Bisignani delivered the opening keynote address on the Conference theme “Connecting Tourism’s Stakeholders”.

“Globally, tourism is responsible for 5% of GDP. In PATA countries, tourism directly accounts for up to 50% of GDP,” said Mr Bisignani. “If one link in the value chain is weak or broken, everybody suffers. This has been the lesson of Asia Pacific’s recent crises.” He added: “Everyone in this room has felt their impact. In a global world of instant news, coordinated action is critical.”

The next three days, the Conference delegates heard from experts on strategic travel industry topics, such as changes in the aviation sector’s competitive environment; poverty alleviation through tourism; the industry’s sustainability; the relationship between tourism and the arts; and China (PRC)’s rise as a tourism destination and source market.

Panelists on the well-attended “Windows on China” session agreed that the China (PRC) and Japanese governments needed to initiate reconciliation in the wake of anti-Japanese demonstrations in China (PRC).

The 54th PATA Annual Conference closed on April 20 with speaker Vincent Lo drawing from his own experiences to describe how to “build success”. Mr Lo is Chairman of Shui On Holdings, a group engaged in property, construction and construction materials which has successfully created value for destinations through leisure and lifestyle property developments.

Mr Lo asserted that tourism and property development are parallel industries. “Tourism and property development can go hand-in-hand,” he said. “Success in both is based on some common fundamentals: people, environment, culture, architecture, facilities, and supporting services.”

Threats and challenges identified by PATA’s ongoing Total Tourism Survey included bird flu, terrorism, environmental degradation and the ability of tourism infrastructure to handle one of the world’s fastest growing industries. An interesting preliminary finding of the survey is that bird flu is perceived by tourism professionals as a greater potential threat than SARS. Respondents were also worried about future terrorist activity, with the majority saying that governments should pay for security. To pre-empt and be prepared for most of these challenges, delegates learned that it was essential for tourism stakeholders to develop credible and targeted communications strategies.

The 55th PATA Annual Conference will take place in Pattaya, Thailand in April 2006.