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

Thailand signs MoU with neighboring countries on compulsory insurance

Overland Thai trade caravan leaves for Yunnan

Education business likely to grow 10% annually

Tourist Authority of Thailand to focus on religious tourism in 2010

Driver of SRT ill-fated train says he fainted on duty

Thailand to examine newly-developed American aromatic rice

Thailand signs MoU with neighboring countries on compulsory insurance

Thailand’s Office of the Insurance Commission (OIC) is cooperating with insurance regulators in the Lao PDR, Vietnam and Cambodia regarding compulsory insurance for cross border vehicles, OIC secretary-general Chandra Purnariksha said on Thursday September 24.
The OIC signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the Lao PDR’s Department of Fiscal Policy, Vietnam’s Insurance Supervisory Authority and Cambodia’s Department of Financial Industry.
The detail of the MoU is to support the operation of the National Bureau of Insurance (NBI) to set up an Insurance Compulsory Centre for motorists to apply for insurance coverage before leaving to any of the four member countries.
The appropriate insurance agency in each country will proceed with making the necessary contract. The project is expected to start before the Southeast Asian Games (SEA Games), which is due to be held in Vientiane, Laos, in December.
The OIC secretary general said the agency expected the scheme to promote Thai insurance business to expand an investment base to other countries in the region.
Tourists can buy the insurance at the National Bureau of Insurance (NBI) and will be able to use it in all four countries, she said.
Such cooperation will be expanded to other ASEAN countries such as Singapore and Malaysia to promote tourism, she added. (TNA)


Overland Thai trade caravan leaves for Yunnan

On September 24, Thai Commerce Minister Pornthiva Nakasai presided over a launching ceremony sending a caravan of trucks carrying 15 containers of Thai goods to China’s Yunnan province through Thailand’s northern province of Chiang Rai, the Lao PDR and Xishungbanna Thursday morning.
The cargoes are destined for a Thai goods fair will be held in Yunnan’s Xishungbanna October 1 to 5 during the celebration of China’s national day.
The activity is considered the official opening of the route R3A, linking Thailand, Laos, Myanmar and China. The route was expected to boost Thai-Chinese trade at the border to grow by at least 25 per cent, the commerce minister said.
The value of trade between Thailand and China in 2008 was worth US$36 billion, a 19 per cent growth, compared to a year earlier.
The Department of Export Promotion (DEP) targeted to increase trade and investment value in 2010 to reach US$ 50 billion.
Thai goods caravan to southern China under the “Made in Thailand Exhibition 2009” project is one of the DEP projects to achieve its target.
R3A is considered an important trade route to transport Thai exports to China. The route will also boost tourism, cultural exchange and relations between the two countries, Mrs Porntiva said. (TNA)


Education business likely to grow 10% annually

The education business sector in Thailand is projected to grow at least 10 per cent annually linked to the implementation of the Abhisit government’s Thai Kem Keng Scheme (Strong Thailand Project), according to Thailand’s export chief.
International students currently contribute some Bt50 billion of Thailand’s Bt70 billion education business sector, according to Director-General Rachaen Pojjanasunthorn of the Department of Export Promotion (DEP).
Speaking at a press conference to introduce the Thailand International Education Exhibition for 2009 scheduled for October 9-10 at the Queen Sirikit Convention Centre, the DEP chief said the private and public sectors are jointly promoting Thailand as a regional education hub under the Thai Kem Keng Scheme to be implemented during 2010-2012.
He said more than 300 international education institutes are located nationwide in Thailand with the capacity to provide Thai and foreign students from over 100 countries with more than 900 courses.
More than 70,000 foreign students enrol at the international institutes in Thailand annually, earning the country over 50 billion baht in foreign currencies.
Around 20,000 Thai students enrol in courses at the institutes each year, making over 70 billion baht circulate in Thailand, he said.
Visitors from neighbouring countries include parents and prospective students.
Joining together with DEP in sponsoring the annual exhibition are the Ministry of Education, the International Schools Association of Thailand, the Association of Private Higher Education Institutes of Thailand, the Association of Private Schools for English Program, and the Association of the Thai Software Industry. (TNA)


Tourist Authority of Thailand to focus on religious tourism in 2010

CMM reporters
The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) is planning to publish a listing of 35 meditation centres in Thailand under the title, ‘Meditation in Thailand’, with the aim of attracting tourists from Asia, Europe and the USA. 1,000 copies written in the English language will be distributed to TAT offices and tourist agencies in overseas countries. The launch of the publication will be in time for the World Travel Mart event in November.
TAT will also add information in English and other languages including Korean and Japanese on its website, enabling targeted groups to research online travel destinations more easily.
The project hopes to establish Thailand as a destination for religious tourism, attracting travellers from India, China and other Asian countries, as well as from Europe and America, including CEO’s, business operators, seminars, academics, workers, pensioners and students. It hopes to also encourage cooperation in the future among ASEAN countries, Thailand and India, and to develop religion as a highlight of Asia’s tourism.
The project will focus on trips to 9 specific temples to pray and make merit, trips for the study of the architecture of religious buildings including Buddhist temples, Christian churches and mosques, and visits to meditation centres. Early next year, the press and tour companies from Korea will be invited to visit Thai mediation centres.


Driver of SRT ill-fated train says he fainted on duty

The driver of the State Railways of Thailand Trang-Bangkok train which derailed in Hua Hin on Monday said on Friday October 9, that he collapsed without warning while he was on duty.
Roengsak Phanthep told the investigators that it happened before the train approached Khao Tao station.
Mr Roengsak will have a medical examination to confirm his claim, said the police.
The police will also question a mechanic who was working with Mr Roengsak at the time. The investigation is expected to finish on Tuesday as the mechanic was injured and is now in hospital.
The stationmaster at Khao Tao train station told the authorities that an SRT worker who controlled the rail switching signal went through proper channels and contacted the train driver by radio but there was no response from the train driver or any other SRT crew on the train.
Pol. Maj-Gen. Rungroj Saengkram, provincial commander, also questioned the train driver. The general said the investigators will further investigate the cause of the accident to determine if it confirms the train driver’s statement or not.(TNA)


Thailand to examine newly-developed American aromatic rice

The Thai government is examining whether America’s newly-developed aromatic ‘Jazzman’ rice, similar to the famous premium grade Thai jasmine rice, violates any intellectual property rights, Deputy Commerce Minister Alongkorn Polabutr said on Wednesday.
The aromatic Thai Jasmine rice, also called Thai fragrant rice, known locally as Khao Hom Mali, is well-known as the world’s premium grade rice for its long grain, unique aroma and subtle pandan-like flavor.
The Louisiana State University Agricultural Centre (LSU Agcentre) recently announced that it successfully developed a new variety of aromatic rice, known as LA2125 with a very similar fragrance, soft grain and quality as Thai jasmine rice and named it “Jazzman rice”.
The announcement caused concerns among Thai rice exporters and farmers, saying that the Jazzman rice may pose a threat to Thailand’s Jasmine rice industry and the kingdom’s rice exports as consumers may become confused due to the similar name and quality.
The United States is one of Thailand’s major rice export markets, importing about 400,000 tonnes of Thai Jasmine rice each year.
Mr Alongkorn said the Thai government has assigned the Department of Intellectual Property to coordinate with the Department of Agriculture, the Rice Department and the Thai embassy’s Office of Commercial Affairs in the United States to determine whether the Louisiana-produced US Jazzman rice was developed from Thai Jasmine rice.
The deputy commerce minister added that the government will also ask for cooperation from the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) based in the Philippines to help verify the origin of the US-bred Jazzman rice.
“If it is found that the genes of Thai Jasmine rice has been used for production and distribution for commercial purposes,” said Mr Alongkorn.” The Thai government will take action against what it is considered as violation of copyrights and intellectual property.”
The minister also affirmed that he would speed up inspection and investigation of the issue to allay concerns of Thai farmers and rice exporters.
Mr Alongkorn added that the Ministry of Commerce plans to boost the export of Thai Jasmine rice in overseas markets by improved packaging and value-added products, such as combination of green tea fragrant with Thai Jasmine rice in a bid to appeal more to Japanese customers. (TNA)