OUR COMMUNITY
HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

Thousands of trees planted in honour of HM Queen Sirikit

Chiang Mai best location for international conventions and exhibitions

Focus Group seminars aim to stimulate ASEAN business for SMEs

New law is biggest shake-up at Thai Customs and Excise in 135 years

Attempts to revive the north’s flagging tourism sector are increasing

Thousands of trees planted in honour of HM Queen Sirikit

Elena Edwards
A project to honour Her Majesty Queen Sirikit by planting a total of 20,000 bamboos at Ban Pa Pai village in Doi Saket district got off to a great start on August 12, HM the Queen’s birthday and Mothers’ Day. A good number of members of the Chiang Mai Friends’ Group (and their friends), enjoyed the planting with members of the local community - and the lunch which followed!

Ban Papai self-sufficiency village in Doi Saket district was the scene for the planting of 20,000 bamboo plants in honour of HM Queen Sirikit’s recent birthday.
Bamboos are the symbol of this village, set in beautiful countryside and run on self-sufficiency lines as recommended by HM the King. Bamboo, the largest grass in the world, is regarded highly across the whole of Asia for its usefulness as food, in the construction of traditional homes, in the manufacture of furniture and many other practical uses. Even its leaves have a use as, when decomposed, they make an excellent fertiliser.
On the previous Saturday, August 8, the foundation Habitat for Humanity together with representatives from San Sai district joined together for another tree-planting in honour of Her Majesty at the Nong Kon Khru Tree Planting Project. The aim of the day out was to increase ‘green areas’ and improve air quality as a result. Young people are also encouraged to care about their local community’s environment and learn to care for nature. Approximately 2,552 seedlings of various tress including cork trees, teak tress, red-black trees and golden gardenia trees were planted. Each participant received 5 seedlings to plant at home in order to increase the ‘green areas’ in their own communities. The event was presided over by Chiang Mai’s Governor Amornpan Nimanant, who also helped to plant the trees.

 

Chiang Mai best location for international conventions and exhibitions

Nopniwat Krailerg
At a recent press conference, the PR manager of the Thailand Convention and Exhibition Bureau (TCEB) Itsara Tanuplaeng stressed that Chiang Mai is the best-placed location in Thailand to host international conventions and exhibitions, as it is the Northern region’s centre for business, transportation and tourism.

Arisara Tanuplaeng, the PR manager of the Thailand Convention and Exhibition Bureau.
The growth of the city’s Meetings, Incentives, Conventions and Exhibitions, (MICE) sector in would increase local residents’ income and enable continuous transference of technological knowledge between different industries, benefiting the province as well as the country. To support the industry in the area, the ‘MICE for Youth’ and ‘Chiang Mai MICE city’ projects have been developed in order to develop MICE-related skills in students and graduates and publicise the city and province as a host.
The project will operate in cooperation with 9 universities and various businesses in the Northern region and will offer lectures and specialist training plus internships with MICE industrial operations. Graduating students will be awarded the ‘Thailand MICE Certificate’.
The project will be launched on September 2 at the Empress Hotel with the signing of an agreement between the province and TCEB by Chiang Mai governor Amornpan Nimanant and M. R. Disnadda Diskul, TCEB’s Chairman of the Board.


Focus Group seminars aim to stimulate ASEAN business for SMEs

Pictured are owners and managers of SMEs from various manufacturing and serve sectors, attending the Chiang Mai Focus Group seminars held at Kantary Hills Hotel on August 5 and 6.

Nopniwat Krailerg
The Office of SMEs Promotion, (OSMEP), is holding a series of seminars entitled ‘Focus Group SMEs’ in order to improve domestic and export sales amongst small manufacturing and service businesses badly affected by the economic crisis and the downturn in exports. The Chiang Mai seminar was held at Kantary Hills Hotel August 5 and 6, and attracted 200 owners and managers of small and medium-sized businesses in the tourism, hand-made products and furniture sectors.
According to OSMEP’s director, Thai hand-made products and furniture are recognised worldwide, but raw materials now need to be imported from Laos and Vietnam, increasing their cost. Publishing, screen printing, food and fashion businesses are also losing money. The large numbers of SMEs involved in the tourism sector have been hard hit by the 30-40% drop in tourist numbers due to the political situation and the H1N1 virus.
During the recent ASEAN summit, a pilot project was initiated to link the tourism industries of the member nations, with the aim that seamless travel within the ASEAN block will attract a greater number of visitors overall.
The Focus Group seminars are intended to improve the marketing and production skills of SMEs, making it easier for them to trade across national borders and resulting in renewed growth in Thailand’s economy.


New law is biggest shake-up at Thai Customs and Excise in 135 years

CMM reporters
A new law aimed at radically reforming the Thai Customs and Excise department to facilitate an increase in trade will be submitted in draft form to the cabinet by early October. The reforms will result in the biggest shake-up for Customs since its establishment 135 years ago.
According to Deputy Finance Minister Pradit Pataraprasit, the new law will ensure that the Customs department is more open to judicial scrutiny. He added that all information concerning import duties will be placed in the public domain at the beginning of September.
The reforms are intended to change the focus of the Customs department from collecting import and export duties to that of a service provider facilitating trade.
Pradit states that ‘The Customs Department should become easier to deal with if the country wants to boost foreign trade and accelerate economic recovery’. The department would also be expected to provide clarification on product categories and methods used in evaluations and classifications, which should assist businesses to calculate import costs.
To facilitate this, the department will have to commit to a consistent evaluation process for calculating duties, the amount of which is to be confirmed before actual importation. Pradit is committed to an improvement in transparency, efficiency and accountability within the department, along with a reduction in what are seen by businesses as arbitrary judgements.


Attempts to revive the north’s flagging tourism sector are increasing

Nopniwat Krailerg
Chiang Mai’s Tourism Business Association is asking for help from the Chiang Mai governor for a plan to restore the city’s tourism industry, severely affected by the world recession, political unrest and the H1N1 virus.
The association’s project involves both the national and international aspects of the trade, although international tourism is the main focus as promotions aimed at national tourism are already in place.
A recent report notes that tourist businesses in the city have suffered a loss of over 80,000 visitors during the past 3 years. Government plans for revival of the industry in 2011 include international publicity for Pattaya, Phuket and Koh Samui, but ignore Chiang Mai due to a lack of support from its local and provincial administrations. The massive decline in international visitors to the city affects not just tourism-related businesses, but other sectors as well.
According to Worapong Moochaotai, the association’s director, the strategy presented to the governor covers every aspect of PR necessary to reverse the downturn, including e-marketing, websites, international exhibitions, road-shows and specific campaign targeting to the world’s capital cities.
Meanwhile, a group comprising representatives from the 10 northern chambers of commerce, together with the chairman of the Committee for the Northern Economic Quadrangle, met with the Chinese Consul-General to discuss the prospects for Chinese tourism in the area.
At present, visitors from China’s landlocked south and west head for Thai beach resorts. To attract Chinese tourists to the north, more promotional campaigns need to reach them, and should include details of cultural events and festivals, including the upcoming Mekong River Culture festival, to be held in Chiang Rai in December.
The organisation is also committed to the construction of the railroad linking Den Chai and Chiang Rai as part of the proposed Yunnan to Bangkok route.
It is hoped that all northern provinces along the route will benefit. Cooperation with the private business sector in Laos has followed agreements between the two countries in commerce, investment, tourism and logistics, which will benefit SMEs in local communities.
A memorandum of understanding was recently signed between the government and private sectors to promote a change of date for the ‘Amazing Lanna Jao’ campaign. Previously, the campaign has been held during the low season, but was replaced this year by the Chiang Mai Grand Sale campaign, which has been disappointing. As a result, the ‘Amazing Lanna Jao’ campaign will now be held during the high season. In spite of the positive effect on tourism of the birth of the panda cub Lhin Ping, promotional activities are essential if the sector’s fortunes are to be revived. During the high season, another grand sale will take place, focusing on quality rather than quantity.