Vol. V No. 8 - February 18 - February 24, 2006
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BUSINESS 
HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

Crowds enjoy 4th anniversary of Walking Street

THAI plans Royal Orchid offshoot

First Mekong Tourism Investment Summit

Crowds enjoy 4th anniversary of Walking Street

Preeyanoot Jittawong

Chiang Mai Walking Street is popular among Thai and foreign tourists.

Chiang Mai municipality organized the “Four Year Anniversary of Chiang Mai Walking Street” on February 5, 2006, at the Three Kings Monument courtyard. It was to promote Chiang Mai Walking Street, which over the
last four years has become a thriving Sunday market for locally made handicraft
products displayed on the street.

Unashamedly borrowing the idea from other countries where it has been successful, Walking Street has been promoted by the city council to close off a particular city street to vehicular traffic every Sunday. Over the years it has developed dynamically to become a center of art, artists, performances, music and an increasingly popular tourism destination.

Originally, the Thaksin Shinawatra government had announced Walking Street as a means of conserving energy according to an amazing resolution of the cabinet in September 2001. Pattaya has had its Walking Street for many years, then came one at Silom, Bangkok and later Chiang Mai decided to have one on Thapae Road.

The local version had the aim of presenting good Lanna culture and adding some energy saving, pollution reduction and tourism promotion issues. Later, in 2004, Walking Street was moved from Thapae Road to it’s present location on Rachadamnern Road where it provides 1.5 kilometers of stalls selling a bewildering array of handicrafts, a performance stage situated at the Three Kings Monument courtyard and is held every Sunday.

In the four years that Walking Street has been in operation, it has increased in popularity and has become as widely known as Chiang Mai’s famous night bazaar. The number of tourists has increased tenfold with an estimated 150,000 visitors during the high season; and still 100,000 minimum during the low season, bringing a minimum revenue of 100 million baht each week. Because of its growing popularity, its continuation is assured. One unusual trend has already been observed, that youngsters like to use local bags and shoes in preference to designer fashion bags and shoes. Chalk up another point for Chiang Mai and common sense!


THAI plans Royal Orchid offshoot

TTG

THAI Airways International (THAI) plans to launch a wholly owned domestic airline called “Euarng Luang” or “Royal Orchid” in the middle of this year to serve high-end domestic passengers. THAI intends to place more emphasis on the international routes.

The new airline will be THAI’s second domestic carrier, following Nok Air, which operates low cost domestic flights. Nok Air is partly owned by THAI.

The new airline is expected to start operation from Don Muang Airport, which is expected to remain operational exclusively for low cost carriers, once Suvarnabhumi Airport opens in the middle of this year.

THAI chairman, Wanchai Sarathulthat, said the new airline would serve domestic passengers who prefer premium services.


First Mekong Tourism Investment Summit

PATA

The first Mekong Tourism Investment Summit will take place March 28-30, 2006 in the World Heritage Site of Luang Prabang, Lao PDR. The objective of the summit is to encourage investment in tourism projects in
the Greater Mekong Sub-region.

Major features of the event will include: user-friendly documents detailing tourism investment procedures presentations from entrepreneurs profiling investment success stories case studies of pioneering community-private sector partnerships breakout sessions on improving the investment environment Mekong-region country booths

Up to 200 delegates, including investors and stakeholders will discuss the profile of the Mekong region as an expanding tourism destination. The emphasis will be on linking tourism investors with business opportunities that benefit local communities. The summit, hosted by the Lao National Tourism Administration, will recommend action to overcome obstacles to growth.

Bangkok Airways, Amadeus Asia Pacific, Best Western Asia, DIETHELM Travel Asia and Incentive House Asia sponsor the event, which is supported by Lao Airlines, SNV, a Netherlands development organisation, the Asian Development Bank and the
Pacific Asia Travel Association.

Outcomes will be tabled at the Mekong-region tourism ministers’ dialogue which will take place at the PATA Annual Conference in Pattaya, Thailand, April 24. PATA vice president-development, Peter Semone said, “Cooperation between the Mekong-region countries has come a long way in the last 10 years. We now want to encourage the private sector to take up the reins and drive responsible tourism growth in the Mekong region. The investment summit in Luang Prabang is the first step in that direc-tion.”

PATA’s third quarter 2005 international visitor arrival statistics show strong demand for Mekong-region destinations. Compared to third quarter 2004, Cambodia recorded an increase of 35.3 percent, Lao PDR 23.8 percent, Thailand 6.7 percent, Vietnam of 11.3 percent, China’s southern provinces of Yunnan 43.9 percent and Guangxi province 27.2 percent, while Myanmar’s performance was down by 7 percent.

Investors and delegates seeking further information about the summit should visit www.mekongtourisminvestmentsummit.com.



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