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

Thai hotel group to double in size

Board first on AirAsia for additional 215 baht

Wine lovers event at the Four Seasons

Tourist arrivals plummet in April

Thailand to host 1st PATA summit

Bangkok to host major travel fair

The Hua Hin Jazz Festival 2007

Thai hotel group to double in size

Sirima Eamtako, TTG
The Dusit Hotels and Resorts chain has announced a major expansion plan to double the Thai group’s portfolio from 18 hotels with 5,000 rooms in 12 cities to 36 properties with 12,000 rooms in 26 cities by 2013.

A view of the Dusit Thani Hotel in Bangkok.
Vice-president marketing and sales, Mr Keith Blott, said: “The expansion follows our decision, made 18 months ago, to expand and make Dusit a major regional hotel company with main focuses on Asia-Pacific and the Middle East.”
Mr Blott said Dusit’s expansion would center around the opportunities to attain management contracts, to take up equity in some circumstances and to develop its own properties across all brands – Dusit, D2 and Royal Princess.
Earlier this month, Dusit announced a major expansion in the Middle East, which would see it boost its presence from one hotel in Dubai now to eight properties in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) within the next few years.
The Middle East expansion will also mark the inauguration of Dusit’s new hotel and residential brands – Dusit Devarana and Dusit Residence.
Touted as a six-star property, the 114-key Dusit Devarana is being developed as part of the Dusit Palm Island project, located on Dubai’s Palm Island. Designed with Indian-inspired architecture, it will offer “quiet but distinctive, elegant and graceful service”.
The Dusit Palm Island project will also feature the 272-room and 10-chalet Dusit Thani resort and the 180-room Dusit Residence on The Palm.
Elsewhere in the UAE, Dusit will open two residential properties in Dubai, a Dusit Thani hotel and a Dusit Residence in Abu Dhabi.
Mr Blott said Dubai was chosen as one of the main focuses for expansion in the Middle East due to the city’s reputation as the fastest growing city with more development than any city in the world.
Apart from its Middle East expansion, Dusit also made its foray into India in March with a 50-50 joint venture with Bird Hospitality Services (BHS).
The first three properties are projected to open within the next few years in Delhi, Goa and Rishikesh, and the other three by 2013 in Pune, Amritsar and Jaipur.
Dusit is also looking to enter the residence and serviced apartment segment. Its mid-scale brand, Royal Princess Hotels and Resorts, will open its first resort property, the 96-key Princess Resort Koh Chang, in August.
Industry insiders have also reported the group is inking management deals for two new D2 properties in the kingdom.


Board first on AirAsia for additional 215 baht

AirAsia, the leading low cost carrier in Asia, has found a new way to make more money.
It will soon introduce a new service called ‘Xpress Boarding’. ‘Xpress Boarding’ will offer passengers the greatest choice over their seating arrangements onboard the aircraft. This new service provides the opportunity to be among the first to board and have the greatest choice of seats, ahead of the general boarding group at an introductory fee of 215 baht one way. By paying a little more, guests may select their choice of seating, from front row seats, to aisle and window seats for their own expediency and convenience.
AirAsia, who practices a free-seating policy will introduce the Xpress Boarding service to all airports within its network including those serviced by its sister companies, Thai AirAsia and Indonesia AirAsia in the coming weeks.
Xpress Boarding is sold online on a first come first served basis as part of the normal flight booking process at www.airasia.com or at any of the airline’s Sales Offices, Airport Sales Counters or Call Centers.


Wine lovers event at the Four Seasons

The Four Seasons Resort Chiang Mai and Italasia will present an exclusive Castello Banfi Winemaker dinner on Friday, June 15 2007. Set in the Resort’s spectacular Pool Side Terraces, the evening starts with cocktails at 7:00 pm followed by a six course menu.
Mr. Richard Goodine, Area Director for Castello Banfi will lead through the evening, providing insider tidbits on the history of the renowned Tuscan winery and explaining the different wines tasted. Paired with delectable cuisine prepared by Executive Chef, Giordino Faggioli, the event will be a memorable occasion to share with friends and family.
The featured wine selections for the evening will be: Banfi ‘Le Rime’ (Chardonnay /Pinot Grigio), IGT, 2006; Castello Banfi ‘Centine’ Toscana Rose, IGT, 2005 (Sangiovese/Cab Sauv/Merlot); Castello Banfi ‘Fontanelle’ Chardonnay, Sant’ Antimo, DOC, 2005; Banfi Chianti Classico Riserva, DOCG, 2004; Castello Banfi Brunello Di Montalcino, DOCG, 2002 and Banfi ‘Rosa Regale’ Brachetto D’Acqui, DOCG, 2005
Tickets are Baht 1,900 per person plus applicable taxes and can be reserved by calling the Resort at 053 289 181 or email: [email protected] fourseasons.com.


Tourist arrivals plummet in April

Based on data from the Association of Thai Travel Agents (ATTA), reported arrivals at Suvarnabhumi Airport plummeted 17 per cent to 36,533 in April.
Arrivals in the first four months of the year stood at 884,043 - a 13 per cent drop on the year, according to ATTA.
In Bangkok the average occupancy for hotels was 50 per cent down from 80 to 90 percent a year ago.
Arrivals from Thailand’s top three source markets - China, Korea and Japan - nosedived over the first four months of the year, according to ATTA figures.
Tourists visiting the kingdom from China, Korea and Japan declined 24 per cent, 26 per cent and 24.5 per cent, respectively, compared to the same period last year.
China supplied 136,842 arrivals, Korea 106,850 and Japan 100,376.
Arrivals from other Asia-Pacific nations also plummeted in the first four months. Vietnam and Australia were both down 51 per cent while Singapore, Hong Kong, Malaysia and Taiwan were down 45.5 per cent, 42 per cent, 42 per cent and 27 per cent, respectively.
European arrivals were up with England, France, Russia and Germany up 45.5 percent, 32 percent, and 30 percent during April. (TTG)


Thailand to host 1st PATA summit

Thailand has been selected as the host country of the first Asia Pacific travel and tourism leadership summit to be organized by the Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) in April 2008, the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) Governor, Mrs. Phornsiri Manoharn, has announced.
The decision to host the first PATA summit in Bangkok was made by the PATA Board of Directors Meeting & Annual General Meeting in Vancouver, Canada.
According to a PATA spokesperson, the summit will focus on high level strategic business issues impacting the Asia Pacific travel and tourism industry in the next twelve months.
Designed to replace its annual conferences, PATA will seek to attract organizations in the hotel, financial investment and aviation sectors to structure a focused, quality content program that attracts CEO-level participation from the travel and tourism sector and allied industries.
Mrs. Phornsiri said the selection of Bangkok as the venue for the inaugural PATA Summit “reflects a tremendous vote of confidence in Thailand as a popular and safe travel destination.”
She said Thailand is the perfect place to launch this summit. “By 2008, we expect to welcome more than 15 million visitors. Our growing linkages with the Greater Mekong Sub-region, India, China and the entire ASEAN region will pave the way for considerable future growth.
Founded in Honolulu, Hawaii in 1951, PATA is a grouping of over 800 travel and tourism-related organizations, including nearly 100 government, state and city tourism bodies, more than 55 airlines and cruise lines, and hundreds of travel industry companies.


Bangkok to host major travel fair

Three of Thailand’s primary travel and tourism showcase events are to be merged into one large function targeted at both the trade and consumer during 7-10 June 2007 at Challenger Hall, Impact Muang Thong Thani Exhibition Center.
The event will bring together the Thailand Travel Mart (TTM) 2007 Plus Amazing Gateway to Greater Mekong Sub-region and Thailand Tourism Festival 2007 (TTF 2007), making it the biggest such event to be ever held in the country.
About 315 sellers from Thailand and GMS countries are expected to participate in the Thailand Travel Mart (TTM) 2007 Plus Amazing Gateway. These include 224 hotels, 5 airline, 8 ecotourism and adventure operators, 18 medical & health tourism facilities, NTOs and other services, 29 tour operators and 31 companies from the Greater Mekong Sub-region.
The registration fee is US$200, EUR155 or Bt7,400 for each hosted buyer with complimentary air fares, accommodation and transportation to and from the venue provided.
Other local and overseas operators are also allowed to participate at their own expense. The registration fee is USD70 or EUR55 or Thai Baht 2,590 for each non-hosted buyer.
About 50 corporate buyers from Thailand will be invited to attend on the afternoon of the final trade day to give additional exposure to the sellers. This will be followed by two days of consumer participation on June 9-10.
The event is especially important for the small and medium sized enterprises which do not have the large marketing budgets to afford participation in the major international trade shows.
The official program will begin on June 6, 2007 with a welcome reception in the evening at Siam Paragon, a newly-opened world class shopping and entertainment centre. The business functions will be held on June 7-8 at the Challenger 3, Impact Muang Thong Thani Exhibition Center, the world’s largest column-free exhibition hall, Asia’s largest indoor exhibition center and Thailand’s largest ballroom. For more details, please check out http://www.thai landtravelmartplus.com/


The Hua Hin Jazz Festival 2007

The festival will be held on June 8th and 9th and this year it will be a smaller affair with only two days instead of the three to follow principle of the Sufficiency Economy. This year’s concept, Party by the Sea, is expected to attract about 65,000 visitors.
The main concerts will be played in front of Sofitel Central Hotel. Some of the world’s famous jazz artists such as Quintet-X, Young Blood Band, Bossa Blossom, and Caroline Henderson are scheduled to perform. NNB