Vol. V No. 42 - Saturday October 14, - October 20, 2006
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FEATURES
HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

THAI appoints True to provide Wi-Fi services in THAI’s royal executive lounges at Suvarnabhumi Airport

Worldwide award for local company

THAI appoints True to provide Wi-Fi services in THAI’s royal executive lounges at Suvarnabhumi Airport

Rhatchya Pamon-montri (2nd from left), managing director of Customer Services Department of Thai Airways International Plc and Thiti Nantapatsiri (2nd from right), managing director Home/Consumer Solution & Hi-speed Access of True Corporation Plc display the contract.

Staff Reporter
On September 29, Thai Airways International Plc signed an agreement with True Group to provide Wi-Fi services and computer facilities for the airline’s Royal Executive Lounges covering a total area of over 13,000 square meters at Suvarnabhumi Airport.
All of Thai’s Royal Executive Lounges at Suvarnabhumi Airport now feature Wi-Fi Internet access via True’s Wi-Fi network, which is the largest in the country, numbering some 3,000 hot spots nationwide.
Both Thai’s Royal First class and Royal Executive class passengers can enjoy seamless hi-speed wireless connectivity to the Internet with speeds of up to 1 Mbps. For added convenience, no user authentication is required.
Seen above signing the contract are: Rhatchya Pamon-montri, Managing Director of Customer Services Department of Thai Airways International Plc and Thiti Nantapatsiri, Managing Director Home/Consumer Solutions and hi-speed Access of True Corporation Plc.


Worldwide award for local company

Elle Faraday
A local Eco and Adventure tour company have won an industry award which has put Chiang Mai at the forefront of culturally sensitive and environmentally friendly tourism.
Track of the Tiger was the brainchild of Irish born Shane Beary and was started back in 1986. The company was initially established as a ‘soft adventure tour company’ but due to forward thinking and concerns for Chiang Mai’s heritage and ecology, it has transformed into a ‘tourism resources development company’.
Skål is an international organisation of the tourism industry’s leaders and is a powerful force which initiates change and encourages tourism agencies to promote the conservation of the environment. It unites all branches of the travel and tourism industry across the globe and is the largest organisation of travel and tourism professionals in the world.
The awards presented by Skål are based on their concept and also highlight the best practices in travel and tourism across the world. They try to introduce new ideas which put emphasis on the need for community participation with all issues regarding ecotourism as well as making the traveller aware of his or her surroundings, and what they can do to prevent further damage or exploitation.
Every year, tourism companies from around the world compete for the prestigious award for the best tour operator/travel agency. Skål judges have the final decision of whose travel company has the best ideas and runs the best ecotourism organisation. This year’s winners are Chiang Mai’s very own Track of the Tiger T.R.D., with their ‘Voluntourists Without Boundaries’ project.

Skål International Award Winners, Sriphan and Shane Beary.

This award will further enhance Chiang Mai as a world class holiday destination. Shane told me ‘Too many people use Chiang Mai as a stopover. The average daily stay is under three days - we need to increase this. There is so much to see and do here and as travel companies, we should be ensuring that the province is using its full potential. It’s a beautiful city with so much to offer – let’s show the world this fact.’ Shane has taken the lead in the field of combining ecotourism (more accurately geotourism) with voluntourism and hopes many more companies will follow.
Together with his wife, Sriphan, who is the managing director, and his business partners Bryan & Rosie Massingham, Shane Beary had earlier developed the Maekok River Village Resort & Outdoor Education Centre. This unique establishment in Ban Thaton offers the chance for schools and students to study and practice environmental studies, geography, organic farming, team building and community development.
Voluntourism is a new phenomenon that Track of the Tiger T.R.D. sees as the way forward for Thailand’s tourist industry. Voluntourism is essentially offering holiday makers who want to use their skills to make a difference - a chance to get active and have a positive effect on the country they visit. Many people get bored of sitting on beaches or lounging round the pool and long to help with something life-changing. Unfortunately, many projects are badly run or simply pay lip service to the concept of eco-tourism. Shane and Sriphan shared concerns over what they had seen across Thailand and set up the voluntourist initiative as a result.
They aim to use voluntourist labour alongside funding to help rural Thais and ethnic minorities develop their own ecotourism projects. Voluntourists Without Boundaries (VWB) has been set up purely for this purpose. This project has been two years in development, but already VWB has worldwide recognition and awards to match.
In northern Thailand, voluntourists have been involved in working on a nature trail, following the Mae Lai stream. It is already 4kms long, and is being improved all the time. The trail leads visitors through a section of stunning community forest, which belongs to the local villagers, in the Mae On district (about one hour away from Chiang Mai). The voluntourists pay a daily rate which covers food and accommodation and literally ‘get to work’. There are no hidden costs; the organisation is completely transparent so every guest knows exactly what their money is paying for. Alongside this nature trail, educational, corporate and geotourism programmes by Track of the Tiger provide much needed funds for the villages through a trail entry fee payment.
Many of the voluntourists come from schools from both Thailand and abroad. The idea of allowing school children the chance to make a difference is perfect. After all, it’s the children who are going to inherit the world and its problems after we’ve gone. Unfortunately, at the minute it is only the rich independent schools that can afford trips to Thailand to experience the volunteering programme. What everyone at Track of the Tiger T.R.D would like to see is more local and state-run schools having the chance to visit and experience Chiang Mai’s beauty. They are asking companies to sponsor or subsidise school groups giving less affluent children and possible future employees the chance to work in a team, gain confidence in their abilities and help something that will change someone else’s life – and probably their own.
There are also other projects under the VWB Initiative such as forest augmentation, providing year round revenue with a small amount of labour; forest ecosystem restoration, the replanting of native trees; a jungle challenge, a revenue source designed to help team building and a research centre (Pang Soong Lodge) designed to encourage experts in various fields to visit the project as well as to record the overall effects of the project over time. Scientific record keeping tracking change for the better is VWB’s ‘strongest argument in support of expanding the concept beyond its pilot programme.’
The award ceremony is to be held on Monday 16th October and both Shane and Sriphan will be there. It is being held at the Royal Cliff Beach Resort in Pattaya, attracting individuals and groups from all around the world. If this is the future of Chiang Mai tourism, then the city has a lot to look forward to.
For more information on Voluntourism, Track of the Tiger projects and the Skål awards, visit either www.volun tourists-without-borders.com or www.track-of-the-tiger.com



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