BUSINESS & TRAVEL
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Skål International Bangkok inaugurates new President

Government earmarks Bt110bn to stimulate grass-roots economy

New Thai Tourism chief wants to see the money

New Boutique Hotel scheduled for Chiang Mai

Thai Airways International start new Bangkok-Koh Samui service

Skål International Bangkok inaugurates new President

Record attendance at February 12 meeting

The Skål International Bangkok Executive Committee at the Imperial Queen’s Park Hotel in Bangkok. Robert Lee, Samir Wildemann, Brian Sinclair Thompson, Malai Sakolviphak, Deborah Bundityanond, Andrew Wood, Khun Natwut, Kusa Panyarachun, Scott Smith, Somsak Kiratipanich and Anton Knecht.(l-r).

Skål International Bangkok held its monthly meeting on February 12 at the Imperial Queen’s Park Hotel, Bangkok. A record attendance of over 80 Skålleagues and guests witnessed the inauguration of the Bangkok Club’s new president, Mr. Andrew Wood, GM of the Chaophya Park Hotel, who received the chain of office from outgoing president, Mr. Brian Sinclair Thompson, VP Swiss International Airlines.
The keynote speaker was Natwut Amornvivat, the President of the Thailand Convention and Exhibition Bureau who spoke on the “Role and Objectives for TCEB in 2008 and beyond.”
Skål International Bangkok was formed in 1956 and is a member of Skål International, the world’s largest association of travel and tourism professionals, with over 22,000 members in 500 clubs in over 80 countries globally. Skål aims are to promote tourism through friendship and peace along with a commitment to eco-tourism and the pursuit of sustainable development. Its Eco Tourism Awards are presented annually at the Skål World Congress, this year to be held from October 12-17 in Taipei.


Government earmarks Bt110bn to stimulate grass-roots economy

New policy to be introduced as a priority in rural areas

Thailand’s Deputy Prime Minister and Industry Minister Suwit Khunkitti last week revealed that the government planned to spend Bt110 billion (US$3.3 billion) to help stimulate the economy at the grass-roots level through the village fund and the small, medium, and large-scale enterprise fund. He stated that the government was paying serious attention to moves which would jump start the country’s general economy. An additional 80 billion baht would be set aside from the village fund and around 30 billion baht from the SML fund to stimulate the economy in rural areas and local communities.
The extra funds would be injected into local communities this year through the Bank for Agriculture and Agricultural Cooperatives and the Government Savings Bank, in order to create more income for people in the rural areas. Stimulating the grass-roots economy should help to provide the impetus for recovery in the general economy. The new government will pay attention to increasing incomes and reducing spending at the grass-roots level. During the past two years, livings of people in rural areas have been ignored; hence the necessity to revive the village fund and SML projects.
Suwit said that this particular government policy must be delivered before priority can be given to basic infrastructure development, construction of electric mass transit rail routes in Bangkok and its environs, dual-track rail lines upcountry, and water resources management. The deputy premier said he had discussed with Transport Minister Santi Prompat the planned construction of the rail system in support of distribution of products into many areas including industrial estates, in order to reduce total production costs. (TNA)


New Thai Tourism chief wants to see the money

Revised 2008 targets set - optimism rules

New Thai tourism and sports minister, Weerasak Kowsurat, plans to boost the revenue from this year’s targeted 15.9 million foreign visitors to 800 billion baht, instead of the 600 billion baht target recently announced by the Tourism Authority of Thailand. Reports also said Mr. Weerasak, 43, who has a master’s degree in law from Harvard University, has vowed to set a higher domestic tourism revenue target than the current 385 billion announced. Approximately 83 million trips are taken annually by domestic tourists. In addition, he is aiming for a double digit growth contribution from tourism revenue to Thailand’s Gross Domestic Product. This represents a growth of more than 10 per cent compared to TAT’s original target of 5.6 per cent for this year.
His plans call for more quality tourists from emerging markets such as China, India and Russia in line with the global tourism trends toward intra-regional and short-haul travel. He is also hoping to encourage more flights, to collaborate more with related state agencies and to amend present laws hindering the growth in tourism. The new minister has held several advisory and deputy-ministerial positions in previous governments, including the first Thaksin administration. (TTG)


New Boutique Hotel scheduled for Chiang Mai

Old City location for first of new brand

The Thai property development company Tanayong has appointed newly established InVistion Hospitality to create their new boutique hotel brand, U Hotels and Resorts. 10 hotels and resorts will be developed within the next 5 years in Thailand, Laos and Cambodia. Each property will have no more than 100 guest rooms and suites, and will be positioned as “niche accommodation”. The first development under the new brand name will be the 41 room U Chiang Mai, situated on Rajchadamnoen Road in the Old City, scheduled to open by the middle of 2008.


Thai Airways International start new Bangkok-Koh Samui service

Flights twice daily from Suvarnabhumi

Thai Airways International’s new route involving twice-daily flights between Bangkok and Koh Samui began on February 15, ending the criticism over Bangkok Airways’ monopoly on the lucrative route. The national carrier is operating the flights from Suvarnabhumi Airport to facilitate connections for international passengers, using a Boeing 737-400 with 12 business class and 137 economy class seats.
The airline’s commercial executive vice-president, Pandit Chanapai, said the airline had targeted a cabin factor of 75 per cent on the route in order to break even and had planned for revenue of more than 300 million baht during the summer schedule ending September 30. He said the airline already had a base of 14,000 international passengers per month, which in the past it had been forced to transfer to Bangkok Airways’ onward flights to the popular holiday destination. As a result of the new service, Thai Airways would now be able to handle the demand on its own.
In related news, Pandit also mentioned that the airline planned to launch a new twice-weekly service between Seoul and Phuket in July. (TTG)