TRAVEL & TOURISM
HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

Malaysia’s tourism minister’s new targets

Mekong Tourism Investment: A New Era Beckons

Selection of THAI president accelerated

Thailand predicts inbound Koreans to rise

Dubai Aerospace expects $ 2b sales-running airports

Malaysia’s tourism minister’s new targets

Satish G.
eTN Asia

Malaysia’s new tourism minister, Datuk Seri Tengku Adnan Tengku, is planning a series of initiatives including promotional campaign for media and simplification of entry procedures in order to bring 20.1 million tourists to Malaysia, generating an income of RM44.5 billion or US$12 billion next year, which is also Visit Malaysia Year 2007.

This year the ministry has set a target of getting 17.5 million tourist arrivals to generate income of US$10.2 billion.

The ministry is to intensify promotion efforts, including organizing familiarization trips involving the media and tour operators to potential markets overseas to promote Malaysia, re-branding tourism programs in the country to further tap the China market, and setting up a team to counter negative reports about the country by the foreign press.

“We are going to push tourist arrivals to a record 20.1 million next year. We are looking at ASEAN as one of our key areas. We want to promote Malaysia in Thailand, Indonesia, Vietnam and the Philippines as people there are earning more, and can afford to travel,” the new minister said. “We will revise the tourism programs to include areas the Chinese would want to visit. For instance, we can include Kek Lok Si temple in Penang rather than just take tourists to Malacca to see the legacy of Laksamana Cheng Ho.”

Tengku Adnan is also planning to set up meetings with the Immigration Department, taxi associations and also all the front liners of the Malaysian tourism industry.

“With Visit Malaysia Year 2007, we must sort out the perennial problem of Immigration officers being rude to tourists, or taxi drivers and shop keepers cheating visitors and the front liners not giving proper service to those who come here for their holidays,” he said.

Tengku Adnan said he would talk about how immigration officers could offer fast and cordial service at entry points to give tourists a positive first impression of Malaysia and prompt them to extend their stay in the country. These tourists would return to their countries as the “ambassadors or marketing officers” of Malaysia and spread the word about the good treatment they received.

He also referred to complaints, including a recent report in Australia, which advised Australians citizens not to use their credit or charge cards in Malaysia because the cards would be cloned here. “Malaysia, definitely doesn’t need this kind of adverse publicity because it’s bad for business,” he told media. “We are quite worried about the negative reports by the foreign press. Some countries have come up with negative reports telling people not to use credit cards in Malaysia to avoid cloning. I would like to appeal to retailers not to give out credit card numbers to unscrupulous people to avoid such incidents.”

Malaysia is also looking into ways to encourage tourists to spend more nights in the country, from 6.9 nights this year, to 7.5 nights in 2007. “The longer tourists stay in Malaysia, the more they will spend. Currently, the average spending of a tourist is RM2,000 (US$539),” Tengku Adnan reportedly said.


Mekong Tourism Investment: A New Era Beckons

eTTR

Nine tourism investment experts and project managers will address the inaugural Mekong Tourism Investment Summit in Luang Prabang, Lao PDR, March 28-30.

Their objective of the Summit is to provide a forum for candid discussion and concrete action to encourage positive growth and investment in the tourism sectors in Cambodia, Lao PDR, Myanmar , Thailand , Vietnam , and the Yunnan and Guangxi provinces of China (PRC).

The Summit will raise the profile of the Mekong region as an expanding tourism destination by linking tourism investors with business opportunities, promoting win-win partnership models between investors and local communities, and creating an accessible investment environment through dialogue, debate, and action.

The Summit seeks to attract private sector investors to fund responsible and sustainable projects throughout the region. The event, hosted by the Lao National Tourism Administration, will recommend action to overcome obstacles to growth. 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.

“In the last 10 years governments in the Mekong region have started meaningful collaboration to advance tourism,” said Mekong Tourism Office Executive Director, Stephen Yong.

“The role of the private sector should now be expanded. The Summit will show how, by analyzing successful case studies and exposing the regulatory and financial issues that need to be addressed.”

There is strong potential for return on investment as the Pacific Asia Travel Association predicts steady increases in international visitor arrivals for the region to 2008. Between 2005 and 2008 the association predicts international arrivals will increase as follows: Cambodia 18.2 percent, Lao PDR 16.1 percent, Myanmar 11.7 percent, Thailand 11.2 percent, and Vietnam 13.0 percent.

At the local level, tourism can have a dramatic impact. In Luang Prabang, for example, tourist arrivals increased from 110,240 in year 2000 to 261,950 in 2005, an increase of 138 percent. At the macro level, the World Bank predicts read gross domestic product growth for 2006 will be:

Cambodia 6.1 percent

Laos PDR 7.0 percent

Thailand 4.4 percent (1)

Vietnam 7.5 percent

China 8.6 percent (2)

During the Summit there will be detailed investment case studies. Major features of the Summit 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 Bangkok Airways, Amadeus Asia Pacific, Best Western Asia, Diethelm Travel, Incentive House Asia and TTR Weekly are sponsors while supporting partners are Lao Airlines, SNV, the Asian Development Bank, PATA and Thailand’s Ministry of Tourism and Sports


Selection of THAI president accelerated

Thai Airways International Public Company Limited (THAI) is accelerating selecting a new president so that the company’s top management will be in office by the time Bangkok’s new Suvarnabhumi Airport is opened for commercial use later this year.

Deputy Transport Minister Phumtham Wechayachai Phumtham, who oversees the national flag carrier, said that qualifications of the selected candidate would have to meet the Ministry of Transport’s criteria.

They include being competent and having experience in successful management of a multi-billion-baht business, and being capable of strengthening and uniting organizational organs in order to drive the company forward with competitiveness and solidarity, he noted.

“There are urgent tasks waiting for the new THAI president, including improvements of internal management, customers services and passenger aircraft to meet world-classed standards.

The company’s selection process for its new president to replace Kanok Abhiradee has already been extended once before.

Kanok’s term will officially end soon, though he has already been ‘shelved’ with the appointment of Somchainuk Engtrakul, a THAI board member, as the acting president since last year.

“Once the qualified candidate is selected, we’ll announce it to the public,” the minister told journalists.

Meanwhile, Caretaker Transport Minister Pongsak Raktapongpaisal confirmed that the new Suvarnabhumi International Airport would be open for commercial purposes in late June as scheduled, despite any political change, with the new government to be formed after the snap election following the dissolution of the House of Representatives on February 24.

The minister said that the construction of the new airport is now 99 percent completed, and that overall decorations would soon be finalized.

He conceded, however, that the new airport’s catering services would be fully in place by September - three months after the opening of the airport - due to a delay in repair works of THAI’s catering building after it was damaged by a fire earlier this year.

“During the three-month period, the airport’s catering services will be served by THAI’s old catering facility at the Don Muang Airport,” he noted.

For the airport-link project, which includes the development of a mass rapid transit system connecting the new airport with Bangkok’s downtown areas, Pongsak said the project is expected to be completed over the next two years. (TNA)


Thailand predicts inbound Koreans to rise

The number of Koreans visiting Thailand has been projected to rise 12 percent to 900,000 this year.

Thailand’s Kasikorn Research Centre estimated the increase would generate an additional 2.5 billion baht (US$634.6 million) in tourism receipts - a 16 percent rise year-on-year. Some 800,000 Koreans visited Thailand last year.

The Tourism Authority of Thailand reported that in the first half of 2005, the Korean market was the Kingdom’s fourth biggest behind Malaysia, Japan and Singapore. (TTG Asiaa)


Dubai Aerospace expects $ 2b sales-running airports

Aftab H. Kola
eTN Middle East

Dubai: Dubai Aerospace Enterprise, which plans to offer aviation services ranging from aircraft leasing to airport operations, said it expected to generate sales of up to $2 billion by 2016 by running airports in Asia.

The state-backed firm launched last week its entry into the aerospace industry equipped with $ 15 billion in investment funds.

“We would like to reach sales of $ 2 billion within 10 years,” Dubai Aerospace project director Rashid Al Malek told reporters at the Asian Aerospace air show.

The Dubai company aims to develop new airports in Asia’s emerging markets, through deals to build and operate airports under one contract. Its business could also include expanding and managing existing airports.

The group’s managing director, Mohammad Al Zar-ouni, told Reuters on Wed-nesday that he expected to win contracts to run airports in India, Asia’s third-biggest economy, this year.

Al Malek said the company could be listed on the stock market at some point but this depended on its owners.

He declined to say when he expected the group to make a profit.

The group’s founders are the government of Dubai, its investment arm Dubai International Capital, property developer Emaar Properties, private investment firm Istithmar, mortgage lender Amlak Finance, the Dubai Airport Free Zone Authority and the Dubai International Financial Centre, a financial free-zone.


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