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

Oasis Spa Receives SME’s “Best Brand Award”

British Chamber of Commerce announces “Thailand means Business 2008”

Pollution report: Recent storm improved conditions in CM; other areas still critical

China bans foreign travel to Tibet as death toll rises

Oasis Spa Receives SME’s “Best Brand Award”

“An experience of pleasure and relaxation”

Oasis Spa Thailand recently received the SME’s Best Brand Award from the Office of Small and Medium Enterprise Promotion and the Thailand Management Association.

At a ceremony held on March 14 in the Grand Hyatt Erawan Hotel, Bangkok, Pakin Ploypicha, left, CEO of Oasis Spa, receives the SME’s Best Brand Award from a representative of the Office of Small and Medium Enterprise Promotion and the Thailand Management Association.

The award was initiated in 2007 to encourage SMEs to build branding of their products and services, and is known as a symbol of distinction and success for Thai entrepreneurs. The 180 nominees were judged on their excellence in the following areas: customer focus, innovation initiatives striving towards high quality, adaptability to change, value creation, branding, efficiency, leadership & team building, and social responsibility. The company currently has 170 employees.
Pakin Ploypicha, CEO of Oasis Spa, said on receiving the award: “Oasis Spa has proved to be one of Thailand’s fastest growing businesses since it was established in Chiang Mai in 2003. Since then it has expanded very quickly from a single branch into four separate locales; two based in Chiang Mai, one in Bangkok, and one in Pattaya. We are very pleased that the government is paying attention to Thai brand development and encouraging Thai SMEs to create and improve businesses on the level of international standards. We have an In-house Training Institution to train our employees and equip them with the interpersonal skills needed to provide our customers with excellent service at all times. Oasis Spa prides itself on giving our clients an experience of pleasure and relaxation through a variety of treatments offered by our skilful therapists. In addition to winning the SME award, we also recently earned the Prime Minister’s Award for the Most Recognised Service in 2007 - a guarantee of our service and quality.”


British Chamber of Commerce announces “Thailand means Business 2008”

Campaign to improve UK business confidence in Thailand

The British Chamber of Commerce in Thailand has announced an initiative intended to improve UK businesses’ confidence in the Thai economic scene. A series of business-to business seminars will be introduced throughout the remainder of this year aimed at British companies based in the UK, Hong Kong and Singapore who seek to either invest in or trade with Thailand. The seminars will present a positive view of the many opportunities that exist in Thailand, and will be balanced by information concerning the challenges faced by foreign businesses. Speakers will be invited from Thailand-based members of the BCCT.
During 2007 BCCT members were concerned that their businesses could have been adversely affected by changes to legislation such as the Foreign Business Act. Whilst, technically, some of these draft laws remain active, the new government has announced plans to actively promote foreign investment in Thailand. BCCT Chairman Rodney Bain stated that, “Despite concerns during 2007, the UK remained the largest European investor in Thailand. Our bilateral relationship is also very positive, amply demonstrated by the visit this month to Thailand by Lord Digby Jones, the UK’s Minister for Trade, one of the first visits by a foreign trade minister since the election of the new Thai government.” He continued, “The new government has stated a need to attract greater foreign investment to Thailand. ‘Thailand Means Business 2008’ is BCCT’s way of supporting this need by passing on its wealth of knowledge and practical experience of doing business in Thailand to UK companies, in particular to those that may have cancelled or suspended their investment or trading plans during the last couple of years. I hope that ‘Thailand Means Business 2008’ will contribute directly to an increase in investment and trade between the two Kingdoms.”
2007 was a record year for the BCCT with membership exceeding 660. Event sponsorship reached best ever levels and a record sum of approximately THB 2.5 million was donated to charities in Thailand. In conclusion, Mr Bain stated that ,” BCCT has an ambitious programme of activities in 2008 including visits to regional centres in Thailand, continuation of our Thai-language events and the ‘Thailand Means Business 2008’ campaign. We actively welcome new members.”
BCCT’s mission statement is: “To serve the needs and promote the development of British business in Thailand and as ‘Partners in Progress’ contribute directly to Thailand’s economic advancement.” For further information please contact BCCT Executive Director Greg Watkins on tel 02 651 5350-3 or email: greg @bccthai.com.


Pollution report: Recent storm improved conditions in CM; other areas still critical

Burning continues across the North in spite of efforts and new laws

Khajohn Boonpath and Staff Reporters
The rainstorms early last week improved the air quality in Chiang Mai, if only for a short time. Before the rains, pollution particle levels had risen to a dangerous high. In Chiang Rai, the levels were equally high, causing respiratory problems. At the time of writing, forest fires were still burning in the Chiang Mai area, according to the city’s environmental officer. Ten sites in Mae Cham and Omkoi districts were affected, together with areas in Samoeng district, where artificial rain-making was being employed to douse the flames.
On March 22, highway police and officers from the Pollution Control Department set up a checkpoint at Don Chan crossroads, in order to monitor vehicle emissions and inform drivers about the dangers of pollution from exhaust fumes. Government vehicles were causing problems with some emitting fumes 48% over acceptable levels. Owners of offending vehicles were subject to immediate fines, and were instructed to modify their engines to reduce emissions. Informative fliers were handed out, and warnings were given that the law on emissions would be strictly enforced.
Toxic fumes from wildfires still cover much of Mae Hong Son, with high pollution levels resulting in over 10,000 affected people needing treatment during the past month. Illegal burning is still widespread; in forest areas the reason would seem to be to prepare the ground for the growth of mushrooms. In spite of all efforts and the introduction of new laws, there seems to be no way to prevent the burning in these areas.
A huge forest fire which broke out on March 20 is, at the time of writing, still burning, involving many villages in an area between Pa Tung and Mae Chan in Chiang Rai province and threatening a forest planting project measuring 3,000 rai. Firefighters are in attendance, but it seems unlikely that they will be able to extinguish the flames over such a large area. The Governor of Chiang Rai and the local military command have been alerted. Preventative measures to protect the newly planted area are now in place.
However, advance weather forecasts suggest that there may be some naturally occurring relief during April and May. Although forecasts suggest that unusually hot weather is expected over the entire Kingdom during the next two months, due to an area of high pressure in the North and North-East extending to Central and Eastern regions, rapid changes in temperature are predicted to cause a high number of severe thunderstorms. It is hoped that the resultant heavy rains will help to settle dust particles and reduce pollution.


China bans foreign travel to Tibet as death toll rises

Demonstrators disrupt lighting of the Flame at Ancient Olympia

Staff Reporters
As riots and killing continue, the Chinese government has suspended travel permits to the so-called Tibetan Autonomous region, and are urging foreigners already in the area to contact local police in order to arrange immediate departure. Visitors to the surrounding areas of Western Sichuan, parts of Quinghai and Yunnan province are also being turned away. Travel agents in Beijing are cautious about the prospects of travel in the affected areas for the remainder of this year.
As the Olympic Flame was lit in Greece prior to its journey across the world to Beijing, protestors gathered at Ancient Olympia, the site of the Classical Greek Games, to make their feelings known about China’s reaction to the recent Tibetan uprising which began two weeks ago, and to stand in solidarity with the Tibetan peoples. As Liu Qi, the Chinese Olympic chief, was stating that” The Olympic Flame will radiate light and happiness, peace and friendship, and hope and dreams to the people of China and the whole world”, demonstrators broke through the security fences and ran onto the field, carrying “Boycott China’s Olympic Games” banners showing 5 sets of handcuffs instead if the 5 Olympic rings symbolic of the Games. A protestor from the group “Reporters without Borders”, breached a huge police cordon and tried to run behind Liu Qi, but was grabbed before he could succeed, whilst another protestor tried to snatch the microphone. Minutes later, a Tibetan woman covered in red paint threw herself onto the road in front of the runner carrying the torch. The death toll in Tibet is estimated to have risen to at least 130, and suspected Tibetan protestors in Lhasa are being rounded up and thrown into prison.
Even as the Olympic Flame was being lit in Greece, in Beijing a Chinese man, Yang Chunlin, was receiving a jail sentence of 5 years for subversion. Chunlin had circulated a petition about a land dispute which used the words, “We don’t want the Olympics,we want human rights”. A scuffle between police and members of his family broke out in the court, in Jiamusi, Northern China, resulting in Chunlin’s being subdued with shocks from an electric baton.
An online petition has been launched, and at time of writing already has more than 1,280,000 signatures. The target is to have 2 million signatures by Monday, March 31, when copies of the petition will be delivered to Chinese Embassies and Consulates across the world. Commercial sponsors, including Coca-Cola, Samsung, and Lenovo, who have paid as much as $15 million each to sponsor the relay, may be showing increased concern, according to the head of a major marketing consultancy agency. Protest groups are particularly angry about the Olympic Torch’s planned route through Tibet itself and across Mount Everest as they believe it is certain to incite more violence. One of Thailand’s chosen representatives in the Olympic torch relay has withdrawn in protest over the violence. Narisa Chakrabongse, one of the country’s six torchbearers, said in an open letter that she had decided against taking part in the relay in order to send a strong message to China that the world community could not accept its actions.
Analysts report that Chinese hopes of a Games uninterrupted by political and human rights concerns are fading fast. It is likely that, as the torch passes through many other countries on its way to Beijing, protest groups from all nations will use the opportunity to put more pressure on China and to make their views known. In London and San Francisco, protests are already being organised, which will no doubt cause security problems for the countries concerned. World leaders still seem reluctant to criticise China’s appalling human rights record in the run up to possibly the most controversial Games since Berlin, 1936.