Phuket riding the wave to recovery
The Phuket tourism situation may have finally recovered
from the 2005 tsunami with visitor numbers expected to reach the same level
as 2004 at about 4.7 million.
Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) Southern Region Four office director, Ms
Suwalai Pinpradab, said the expected full rebound would be a result of
proactive marketing activities by TAT and the trade to promote Phuket as a
year round destination. She said the island had earlier this year seen a
number of winter charter flights ending in April instead of March, and the
upcoming winter charter connections would start earlier with Russia taking
the lead from August, instead of October.
“In addition, during this summer holiday from May to October, domestic
flights have increased by 35 flights to 165 while international direct
connections have risen by 48 flights to 180. This is also the first year the
island welcomes six international charter flights per week during low
season,” she added.
Phuket recorded a 26.77 per cent growth in direct foreign arrivals at its
airport during the first three months of this year compared to the same
period last year. However, total figures of Thai and foreign visitors to the
island last year were still down by 6.13 per cent compared to 2004, even
though they represented a growth of 79.24 per cent over 2005. (TTG)
TAT says Phuket is open
The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) has informed
foreign media that hotels in Phuket and Khao Lak are still opened as usual
after reports claimed that the Thai government ordered for the hotels to
close temporarily due to high waves.
Mrs. Suwalai Pinpradab, the Director of TAT’s Southern Office, says the TAT
has circulated letters to the TAT’s offices worldwide, clarifying the actual
situation in Phuket province and Khao Lak in Phang Nga province.
Previously, there were reports claiming that the Thai government prohibited
tourists to stroll along the beaches in the two popular tourist destinations
due to high waves. Mrs. Suwalai says such reports are false since hotels in
Phuket and Khao Yai are still operating normally and tourists are also
enjoying their vacation on the coastal areas.
According to the TAT, tourism during this year’s rainy season is expected to
be very positive as tourists are continuing to pour into many tourist
destinations of Thailand such as Patong Beach. Most foreign tourists in
Thailand are from Korea, Singapore, Malaysia, Japan, Hong Kong, Australia,
as well as countries from the Middle East. (NNB)
Funds earmarked for new
Chiang Mai convention center
Thailand plans to continue to bank on the successful
Amazing Thailand campaign, but will create a tagline to promote the kingdom
next year, Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) governor, Ms Phornsiri
TAT is in the process of constructing a 2008 tourism marketing strategy,
which the agency normally announces to the industry in July or August.
Ms Phornsiri added “Next year’s plan will see some adjustments in the
budgeting pattern where some events organising and marketing budget will be
diverted to fund more advertising and public relations activities.”
Local reports quoted Ms Phornsiri as saying that TAT would propose a budget
of 6.6 billion baht (US$200 million) for the next fiscal year, starting from
October. From the total amount, some 2.6 billion baht would be invested on
the construction of an international convention center in Chiang Mai and the
improvement of the TAT headquarters’ building. The rest of the sum would be
divided for international marketing, domestic marketing and events
It has also been reported that TAT would cut its events marketing and
organizing budget by 30 per cent to around 500 million baht. (TTG)
Discovering Chiang Rai’s secrets
Sirima Eamtako, TTG
We headed up the province’s mountainous terrain driving up the meandering
and hilly roads where we pulled over at Doi Tung Development Project.
sleepy hill tribe village in Chiang Rai province.
The main attraction is Mae Fah Luang Garden, but visitors can learn about
the late Princess Mother, whose highland agricultural projects have over
time replaced the cultivation of opium and increased the income of the
highland ethnic minorities from just above 3,500 baht (US$106) to more than
40,000 baht annually.
From her royal villa, which is partially open to visitors, I could see
magnificent mountain scenery between Thailand and Myanmar on one side and
between Thailand and Laos on another.
Then we made our way up to Doi Chang Moob, a botanical garden bordering
Myanmar and perfect for a strenuous forest walk. An Akha villager told us he
sang and danced in his Akha dress before the late Princess Mother and Her
Royal Highness Princess Sirindhorn on separate occasions. He was a good
example of Thais who affectionately cherish the late Princess Mother’s kind
benevolence and tireless efforts to improve living conditions for the
highland ethnic minorities.
We continued along the Myanmar border with a few stops at hill tribe
villages which had brick houses, paved roads and electricity. My guide, Mr
Gai, said there were some hill tribe villages which had retained their
culture and traditional practices, but could not be reached by car. Guided
trekking trips are available for interested visitors.
We stopped for lunch in Mae Sai, the northern-most border town of Thailand.
I crossed over to Myanmar’s Tachilek Market and found it too busy for my
liking. It may appeal to those seeking imitation goods.
The afternoon journey also involved a tour of the Hall of Opium and a
relaxing stroll in the Golden Triangle’s Big Buddha area.