Vol. V No. 20 - Saturday May 13, - May 19, 2006
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TRAVEL & TOURISM
HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

Emirates sets new profit record

Delays foreseen in opening of new airport

Thailand minister visits Korea for tourism talks

Thailand confident of bouncing back this year

National carrier announces new air travel fuel surcharge rates

PATA to create new ‘summit’ to replace conference

Emirates sets new profit record

The Emirates Group has announced another record performance with net profits of US$762 million for the financial year ended 31 March 2006 - up five per cent from the previous year’s record profits of US$726 million.
Group revenue increased by an impressive US$1.4 billion or 27 per cent, to US$6.6 billion compared to US$5.2 billion last year. The Group’s cash balance was a robust US$3 billion at the end of March, an improvement of 28.6 per cent against a year earlier.

His Highness Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al-Maktoum, Chairman and Chief Executive, Emirates Airline and Group announced another record performance for the Emirates Group for the financial year ended 31 March 2006

The 2005-06 Annual Report of the Emirates Group - comprising Emirates Airline, Dnata and subsidiary companies was released in Dubai last week at a news conference hosted by His Highness Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al-Maktoum, Chairman and Chief Executive, Emirates Airline and Group.
The Group’s sharp sales growth and record returns reflect customers’ increasing preference for its products, as illustrated by the two million more passengers who flew Emirates in the latest financial year, for a new record total of 14.5 million.
Sheikh Ahmed said: “These results clearly show that Emirates’ customer-oriented approach and investments in providing a quality product - the best aircraft that money can buy, top-flight service and travel experience at a competitive price has paid off in terms of retaining and winning new customers globally.”
He continued: “It has been another tough year with pressure from fuel costs continuously dampening our robust net income production. Emirates has returned its 18th consecutive annual profit, and we are pleased to have achieved this solid performance while expanding our operations in an increasingly competitive environment.”
In his opening review in the 2005-06 Annual Report, Sheikh Ahmed remarked on the catalystic relationship between the transformation of Dubai into a world-class centre for business, tourism and transport, and the explosive growth of Emirates and Dnata to become world-beating companies.
One of the key highlights of the year was Emirates’ signing of a massive US$ 9.7 billion contract for 42 Boeing 777 aircraft at the 2005 Dubai Air Show. This is the largest ever single order for Boeing 777 aircraft, and brought the value of Emirates’ total order book for new aircraft to US$33 billion. Over the next eight years, the airline will receive delivery of one new aircraft per month on average.
The airline forecasts that its fleet will comprise 156 aircraft by 2010, serving 101 destinations and carrying some 26 million passengers.


Delays foreseen in opening of new airport

Caretaker Deputy Transport Minister Gen. Chainant Charoensiri has expressed his concerns that a planned opening of Suvarnabhumi international airport this July could be delayed due to extensive repairs to the passenger terminal and to roofing fabric on concourse buildings.
Following recent inspections by leading civil engineers from the Air Force, Chainant revealed that 14 sections of roofing fabric on concourse buildings had to be replaced while another 81 sheets needed repairs and that this remedial work could take a few months. Refurbishment of the duty free shopping area, to be operated by King’s Power Duty Free, is also required as many cracks were found on the floors of concourse buildings and water also leaked from them.
Construction contractor ITO Joint Venture, however, reiterated that all the structural work would be completed this June but tests on facilities could be delayed. Its staff said the airport should be open this year but they declined to specify the exact month.
The caretaker government has already set a deadline for the opening of Suvarnabhumi international airport for this July. (TNA)


Thailand minister visits Korea for tourism talks

Thailand’s Minister of Tourism and Sports, Pracha Maleenond, visited Korea last week to discuss issues hindering tourism growth for both inbound Koreans and outbound Thais.
The ministry’s permanent secretary, Sakthip Krairik, said Korean arrivals to Thailand were growing at around 10 per cent per year, but that there was a lack of Korean-speaking Thai guides.
“There are presently only 800 Korean-speaking Thai guides in the kingdom, most of whom possess only a fair command of the Korean language”, he said.
This has prompted Korean-owned tour companies to employ native Koreans as guides. The practice violates the Thai law, which prohibits employment of foreign guides.
Sakthip indicated that the ministry had relaxed the rules to allow Koreans to work as interpreters alongside local Thai guides, although he conceded the move was only a short-term measure.
He said the ministry had been working with Songkhla University in Thailand to train Korean-speaking Thai guides as part of its long-term strategy. Last year, the university awarded certificates to around 311 guides. It is training another 500 student this year.
Some 600,000 and 700,000 Koreans visited Thailand in 2004 and 2005, respectively. Between 800,000 and 900,000 Koreans are expected to visit the kingdom this year. (TTG)


Thailand confident of bouncing back this year

After falling short of its tourism targets last year, Thailand hopes to bounce back and attract 13.8 million foreign tourists this year. Against a set target of 13.8 million last year, the South East Asian nation could only manage to attract 12 million due to the devastating tsunami in December 2004.
Juthamas Siriwan, governor of the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT), said: “This year again the target is 13.8 million visitors, and 79.3 million domestic trips, which together should generate about $20 billion.”
The TAT official shared that Thailand’s tourism sector had already witnessed impressive growth in the first quarter of 2006, with arrivals up 37 percent in January, 30 percent in February and 20 percent in March, compared with the same months last year.
“When there was the tsunami last year, I thought that was the end of the tourism industry but we recovered very fast, in only six months,” said Juthamas.
Meanwhile, around 1.7 million Thais are expected to travel overseas, mainly to countries in Asia, during the first half of 2006, according to a report issued by the Kasikorn Research Center (KRC), while Thailand will lose foreign exchanges worth about US$1.375 billion.
About 750,000 Thai tourists are expected to have traveled abroad during the first quarter of 2006 (January-March), an increase of eight percent from the corresponding period of 2005. The number of outbound Thai tourists is anticipated to further rise in the second quarter of this year due to an ease in the domestic political tension and a stronger baht. It says that about 950,000 Thais are projected to travel overseas during the second quarter of 2006, up 12 percent from the same period of 2005. (ETN)


National carrier announces new air travel fuel surcharge rates

Thai Airways International has announced new fuel surcharge rates affecting both domestic and international routes effective from June 1. According to THAI Vice President for Commercial Affairs Vasingh Kittikul, the new rates are in response to rising global energy prices. The tariffs reflect the rising cost of aviation fuel, and are in line with airline practice around the world.
From June 1, all domestic tickets will have a Bt 400 baht one-way and Bt 800 return ticket surcharge, up from the current rate of Bt300 per trip.
On routes from Bangkok to Europe, Israel, Australia, New Zealand, and the US cities of Los Angeles and New York, the fuel surcharge will be US$65, or about Bt 2,600 per trip, compared to the current rate of US$50.
Flights between Bangkok and the Middle East - Muscat, Dubai and Kuwait will be subject to a US$30 fuel surcharge per trip, up from US$25.
The new fuel surcharge for THAI flights between Bangkok and Korea will be US$35. Flights between Bangkok and Taipei, as well as to the Chinese cities of Beijing and Shanghai will be subject to a US$30 surcharge. The rates for flights between Bangkok and Japan will also be increased from US$25 to US$35.
Fuel surcharges for flights from Bangkok to neighbouring Laos and Cambodia will also be subject to the new, lower rates of US$10 per flight, compared to the current US$25. Flights to Singapore and Malaysia will also be taxed less at US$15 and US$14 per trip respectively.
For routes other than the above, THAI will maintain the US$25 rate. (TNA)


PATA to create new ‘summit’ to replace conference

The Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) will design a new-style, industry-focused annual ‘summit’ to replace the 55-year old PATA Annual Conference. The first summit will take place in 2008. Destinations that had been appointed to organise the 2007 and 2008 Conferences - Chinese Taipei and Sri Lanka respectively, have been advised to cease preparations. New bid books for the inaugural 2008 summit will be circulated to all PATA member destinations later this year.
The decision, passed by the PATA Board of Directors on April 23 and ratified by the PATA Annual General Meeting on April 24, included a mandate for PATA to create a new format for Committee, Board and Annual General Meetings. The internally-focused agendas of the Board and AGM sessions can now, if necessary, be de-linked from the summit, which, PATA officers said, should be outward looking, intellectually compelling and able to attract iconic speakers.
PATA President and CEO Mr Peter de Jong said: “The PATA Board has taken the wise, long-term view to vote for a more tightly focused summit-style event. The summit would demonstrate PATA’s growing role as the convener of high-level discussions on the major global issues and opportunities that shape the travel industry.”
He added: “Our Board of Directors understood and acknowledged the disappointment expressed by Chinese Taipei and Sri Lanka. It was heart-warming to note, however, that both destinations appreciated the greater good for the Association and accepted the Board’s sovereign and democratic decision-making process.”
While the format and scope of the summit is yet to be confirmed, Mr de Jong said that the new event would enhance the PATA brand, be affordable for destinations to host, be time and cost-efficient for busy executives, be content focused, be in tune with PATA’s advocacy agenda, be a platform to convert non-members to members, and deliver a better return on investment for host destinations and PATA.
During 2007, PATA will hold two Board meetings and a ‘new-style’ AGM. It will also consider convening smaller summit-like events in different parts of Asia Pacific.(TTG)



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