BUSINESS 
HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

Women in Thailand still bereft of political power

TAT teaching welcoming skills

Chiang Mai Art and Culture Festival

Women in Thailand still bereft of political power

By Grant Peck
Associated Press

Women remain grossly underrepresented in Thailand’s politics and government and a major shift in the country’s attitudes is required to address the imbalance, according to a U.N. report released Wednesday.
The report, Women’s Right to a Political Voice in Thailand, noted that women hold only 10 percent of the seats in the national parliament, one of the Thai Cabinet’s 36 ministerial posts and one of the country’s 76 provincial governor posts.
Though women hold fewer positions of power than men worldwide, they are marginalized more than the average in Thailand, said the report by the U.N. Development Program and the multinational non-government organization Women for Democratic Development Foundation.
“Closing the gender gap in politics needs to be a top priority in all countries, not just Thailand, and will produce better governments and better policies for the benefit of all,” the UNDP’s Thailand representative Joana Merlin-Scholtes was quoted as saying in a news release.
The report, issued ahead of Thailand’s general election on Sunday, said the Thai government has failed to meet targets it set in 2004 to increase women in parliament, local government bodies and top positions in the civil service.
Women are only 10 percent of the outgoing members of parliament, putting Thailand in 113th place out of 185 countries around the world, the report said.
“This is worse than most countries in the East and Southeast Asia region, with the exceptions of Cambodia, Malaysia and Japan,” it said.
The worldwide average for female representation in parliament is 15 percent to 16 percent.
Female representation in Thailand’s local governments is also weak, with women making up 0.3 percent of district officers, 12.6 percent of deputy district officers, and 3.3 percent of village heads.
Only in the civil service do the figures improve, and even there, the more senior the job, the less likely a woman is to hold it. Women make up more than two-thirds of lower-level positions, but one quarter of senior posts.
Promoting women’s right to a political voice in Thailand “will require an unprecedented mobilization of government, political parties, media, education system, and advocacy groups,” said Dr. Juree Vichit-Vadakarn, lead author of the report and an official at the Thai Ministry of Social Development and Human Security.
The Thai government should set deadlines for boosting the number of women in senior positions, government committees and independent bodies, and teach civil servants about gender equality, the report says.
“Gender equality in politics cannot be achieved without a major shift in attitudes of people in general, and in particular men,” Dr. Juree said.


TAT teaching welcoming skills

Preeyanoot Jittawong
The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) has devised training courses to stress the need to provide the many different requirements that international tourists expect and even demand. This is part of the “Grand Plan” to persuade Thai and foreign tourists to celebrate the 60 year anniversary of His Majesty the King ascension to the throne.
The host and hostess training program in Chiang Mai was held on March 21st, 2006 at the Duang Tawan Hotel with more than 200 participants. Junnapong Saranak, Director of Tourism Authority of Thailand Northern office Region 1, reported that the selected 60 widely differing tourist attractions will provide great interest and have many facilities. There will be attractions with many interesting features such as royal projects, along with world heritage sites, natural, historical, cultural, and agricultural tourist attractions, and also a learning center with locally-made products.
This training program emphasized welcoming visitors, being a good host, providing security, demonstrating good standards of hygiene, understanding tourist behavior, and the psychology of providing a service. It was expected that after completion of this course, the participants will transfer their new-found knowledge to their colleagues in the service industry which will continue the thrust of this program and spread a common servicing viewpoint.


Chiang Mai Art and Culture Festival

Preeyanoot Jittawong
The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) in association with different organizations of Chiang Mai is to hold the Chiang Mai Art and Culture Festival which will take place from April 1 to 9, 2006 in Chiang Mai. It has been an annual event since 1996.
This year’s festival is to be organized primarily to celebrate the 60 year anniversary of HM the King ascending the throne and secondly, to conserve local wisdom concerning art and culture of the 700 year old Lanna Kingdom and to promote Chiang Mai tourism, especially in the fields of art and cultural beauty.
Many activities are to be provided, including a display of photographs taken by His Majesty King Bhumibol, a Lanna puppet show, Poi Sang Long or novice ceremony of the Tai tribe, a Thai Lanna drum competition and a display of art work from students of several universities. There will be musical performances by leading jazz musicians and classical numbers played by a full symphony orchestra; as well as demonstrations of Lanna local music instruments. The entire activities are to be held at different places around Muang, Chiang Mai over several days.
More information is available at TAT Northern Office Region 1 or by calling 053-28064, 053-248607 and 053-302500.