HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

2nd Lanna-Japan Culture Festival well attended

Rosy future predicted for Chiang Mai tourism

Spotlight on the TAT marketing plan for 2006

New airline on the cards in Thailand

2nd Lanna-Japan Culture Festival well attended

Kittiyaporn Kanjam and Pinutda Suwanchaisri (Student Trainees MFLU)

Suwat Tantipat, Chiang Mai Governor with Boonlert Buranupakorn, Chiang Mai Mayor; Katsuhiro Shinohara, Japanese Consul General in Chiang Mai; and Tsuchiya, Ex-Speaker of Senate of Japan and honorable chairman of Saitama–Thai Friendship Association at the opening ceremony.

Payap University cooperated with the Japanese Consulate-General in Chiang Mai, the Japan Club in Chiang Mai, Chiang Mai Municipality, Chiang Mai Chamber of Commerce, and The Federation of Thai Industries Chiang Mai to organize the 2nd Lanna–Japan Culture Festival during February 10-12, 2006.

This culture festival is held to promote better relationships and understanding between people from Chiang Mai and Japan. The festival was held over three days and included many activities including a Japanese Speech Competition for secon-dary students at Yupparaj Wittayalai School and a solo piano performance given by a famous Japanese pianist Yoko Izumi Nasu. There was also a Lanna-Japanese culture demonstration and exchange held at Chiang Mai City Museum and the Three Kings Monument Square.

Noboru Okonomiyaki or Japanese pizza making demonstration.

Other activities included demonstration of the traditional Japanese tea ceremony, flower arranging and dyeing, Lanna-Japanese food, Lanna dances, Kendo and Thai boxing shows, and traditional Japanese Bon and Tokushima Awa Odori Dance.

The highlight of the event was the many participants who were dressed in colorful traditional Japanese costumes, which delighted the many visitors. More than 100 Japanese and guests of honor participated in the festival and the opening ceremony on February 12 was presided over by Suwat Tantipat, Chiang Mai Governor together with Boonlert Buranupakorn, Chiang Mai Mayor; Katsuhiro Shinohara, Japanese Consul in Chiang Mai; and Tsuchiya, a former Japanese senator and honorable president of the Sai-tama–Thai Friendship Association.

Rosy future predicted for Chiang Mai tourism

Nopniwat Krailerg

The ebullient Secretary-General of the Travel Business Association of Chiang Mai, Vorapong Muchaotai, could barely control his optimism when he spoke of the trends of Chiang Mai’s tourism in 2006. He said that government representatives from the TAT and business owners in the tourist industry had been to London to attend the World Travel Market, one of the two largest of such activities the world in 2005 and as a consequence of their visit, Thailand’s tourism was faring much better, especially in the south. Hotels were almost fully booked to over 90 percent capacity from December to January and this had breathed new life into the tourist industry after the setbacks of last year.

This year more tourist venues are expected to be opened, with hotels in Chiang Mai enjoying advance bookings for almost 20,000 rooms and other activities will continually attract tourists on an ongoing basis such as the Chiang Mai Night Safari. Around 7,000 Hash House Harriers from 160 countries will require accommodation in Chiang Mai for the last week of October, 2006 and for the International Horticulture Exposition that is to be held between November 1, 2006 to January 30, 2007, the government has predicted that the exposition will attract 30,000 visi-tors each day or 3 million throughout the period of the show.

The Association anticipated Chiang Mai’s tourism would expand even more if there were no unexpected events such as in previous years. The secretary general optimistically forecast that 2008 would be a golden year for Chiang Mai’s tourist industry, because it will be supported by the International Product Display and the Convention Hall that is to be opened in 2007, that will coincide with the opening debut of thirteen five star hotels. Furthermore, air transport into Thailand is being made easier with the opening of a second airport in Bangkok, with Chiang Mai province being heavily promoted both at home and abroad, tourism is predicted to bring 50 billion baht into the province.

At present, there are 150 travel businesses registered as members of the Association including tour agents, hotels, rental car agencies, airlines, souvenir shops, spas, golf courses and others. The International Horticulture Exposition organizers have entrusted the Association with the task of coordinating accommodation for visitors who intend coming to Chiang Mai in November and this process has been ongoing since the beginning of February.

Spotlight on the TAT marketing plan for 2006

Reinhard Hohler

According to the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) Deputy Governor Phonsiri Manoharn at the Skal Club Thailand Meeting in Bangkok on February 14, 2006, the TAT marketing plan for this year fo-cuses on quality products, sustainability and competitiveness.

For 2006, TAT officials are projecting 13.8 million international visitors and 79.33 million domestic trips, generating estimated tourism revenues of 486 billion baht and 378 billion baht respectively. Markets targeted for intensive pro-motions are mainly in the Asia-Pacific region, Europe and East Asia, including China, Japan, South Korea, Hong Kong and Taiwan. These are now the dominant generating markets for visitors to Thailand.

TAT officials are also focusing on short-haul markets from where people are traveling for shorter periods, especially Malaysia and Singapore. Emerging markets that will get an extra marketing push include Russia, Ukraine, India, Middle East and some African countries.

In China, where an expansion of marketing efforts is directly targeting surrounding provinces with potential for tourism to Thailand, the number of Chinese visitors will hopefully exceed the one million mark for the first time this year. Furthermore, the 120th Anniversary of the Thai–Japan Friendship agreement gives an opportunity to capitalize on that event for tourism promotion purposes. The target number from Japan is 1,436,000 visitors.

In India, TAT is focusing on quality travelers, such as MICE groups from major Indian cities. There will also be a stepping up of online marketing and getting more Indian Bollywood films to be shot in Thailand. The target from India is 390,000 visitors.. In Russia, TAT is expanding marketing efforts into Central Russia and Far Eastern Russia. The target number there is 126,000 visitors..

Another important element of TAT’s marketing plan is to iron out seasonal peaks and troughs by attracting more visitors during what we now call the Green Season, formerly known as the ‘low’ season. TAT will be cooperating with the public sector to organize events that will help attract visitors from specific markets such as the Middle East.

In addition, a number of new tourism products and services have been identified to cater to the needs of specific market segments, such as MICE and business travelers, high-income visitors, health and wellness, women travelers, long-stay visitors, young people, senior citizens, divers, religious pilgrims, families and honeymooners. Also, TAT is focusing on the long-weekend holidays and attracting sports enthusiasts such as golfers.

Finally, TAT plans to step up cooperation with the countries in the Greater Mekong Sub-region (GMS), especially Laos and Cambodia. There will be more flights from Thailand to these countries, as well as to Vietnam, Myanmar and China’s Yunnan and Guangxi Provinces, than from any other point in Asia. In future, the huge network of roads, highways and other infrastructure coming up in the GMS will help better package and position Thailand as a gateway to this rapidly developing region.

New airline on the cards in Thailand

TTG Asia

Orient Thai Airlines is planning to launch a new carrier that would operate in the South Asian region. The airline’s chief executive, Udom Tan-tiprasongchai, said he was in talks with Nepalese and Bangladeshi investors to establish a joint venture airline company. Orient Thai would hold a 49 percent stake in the airline and one of the two South Asian entities 51 per cent. The deal could be wrapped up soon, Udom said.

He said the proposed carrier would be a cross between full-service and budget airlines, mirroring Orient Thai’s low-fare subsidiary One-Two-Go.

Meanwhile, Thai AirAsia has changed its sharehold-ing structure in an attempt to achieve a 51 percent share owned by Thais to maintain its aviation license. Local newspapers quoted CEO, Tassapon Bijleveld, as saying the airline had brought in Asia Aviation to replace Shin Corp in holding its 50 percent share. Asia Aviation was reportedly registered on February 16 with Shin Corp holding 49 percent of the shares and the rest held by a Thai investor, Sithichai Veeratham-manoon.