Heads spin as tourist numbers drop by almost one million
Worapong Moochaotai, advisor to Siripanna Villa Resort Chiang Mai
Centara Boutique Collection, and the Secretary General of the Chiang Mai
Tourism Business Association has sounded a warning. A few years ago Chiang
Mai had positive factors that attracted many investments and the investors
had no problem obtaining funds from the financial institutions. Many new
hotels were built during that period, and the number of hotel rooms in
Chiang Mai reached 30,000 when the Royal Flora Ratchaphruek 2006 took place.
However, since then, different types of issues including global and internal
economic and political upheavals and air pollution have emerged, causing a
decrease in tourist numbers to the province. The resultant oversupply has
become the major issue that Chiang Mai’s tourism business sector has to
Although Chiang Mai remains the top travel destination among the Thai
tourists, especially because of panda Lhin Ping, it has lost more than
700,000 foreign tourists in the past two years, and when 2009 ends the
number could reach 1 million. Since many of the service locations in Chiang
Mai were targeted at foreign tourists, this makes the situation worse.
The small number of reservations at the hotels across the city for the
upcoming high season indicates that more time is required for Chiang Mai to
gain back the foreign tourists it has lost.
The resultant revenue from tourism of this year will be lower than last
year’s, as indicated by the decline in the number of tourists with Chiang
Mai seeing a decrease of 49 percent in the first quarter of this year alone.
“There are only a small number of tourists coming from the southern China.
And although Chiang Mai has welcomed more tourists from Middle East, Eastern
Europe, Indonesia and India, it has lost a large number of tourists from
England, Germany, France and Japan. Chiang Mai’s tourism is yet to heal,”
The situation is dire and obvious, but the big question, is what is being
done about it?
PAO to help restore Chiang Mai to its former glory
Boonlert Buranupakorn, Chairman of Chiang Mai Provincial
Administrative Organization (PAO) having just returned to his position after
a 3 month suspension, announced development plans for Chiang Mai in
preparation for the upcoming high tourist season.
He said that because the Chiang Mai Municipality budget for 2010 had not yet
been approved, he would contribute funds from the PAO budget to pay for
restoration and beautification of certain areas in Chiang Mai.
Buranupakorn, Chairman of Chiang Mai Provincial Administrative Organization
He said, “One of the areas to get top propriety would be the around the moat
area as this would be the centre of attraction during the upcoming Loy
Boonlert went on to say, “Roads around the city would also be repaired and
we will renovate and beautify the gateway to Chiang Mai International
Airport so that arriving visitors would get a good first impression.”
The PAO chief stressed that the provincial authorizes would also help to
beautify all corners of the city by building small parks that would have an
abundance of colourful flowers and a variety of plants, native to the
“With the cooperation of the PAO and the Municipality, Chiang Mai would once
again be returned to its former glory and beauty befitting our reputation as
the ‘Rose of the north’.”
Train service to Kanchanaburi resumes after derailment
State Railways of Thailand train services to the ‘RiverKwai’ city of
Kanchanaburi resumes after a salvage operation to move four carriages of a
passenger train, which derailed in Ratchaburi last Wednesday afternoon.
The four carriages were moved to a train station in Ban Pong district for
A section of railway track and loosened sleepers were repaired and the Sai
Yok Waterfall to Thonburi was the first train to run early Thursday. The
passenger train enroute to Kanchanaburi derailed in Ratchaburi province on
Wednesday due to waterlogged railway sleepers damaged by the cumulative
impact of rain.
About a hundred passengers, both Thais and foreigners, were uninjured in the
incident and were transferred by bus to their destinations.
According to a preliminary investigation, the train derailed as railway
sleepers at the site were damaged and had loosened, combined with
waterlogged land due to several days of consecutive rain.
The accident is the second train derailment in two weeks as a crowded
passenger train Route Number 84 Trang-Bangkok derailed last week at Khao Tao
Station in the resort town of Hua Hin in Prachuab Khiri Khan, killing seven
passengers, while nearly 90 others were injured. (TNA)
Drug checkpoints during Loy Krathong Festival
Chiang Mai will celebrate its largest Yipeng festival this year.
This was the proud boast of the Office of Tourism and Sports of Chiang Mai,
Chiang Mai Provincial Administrative Organization, Chiang Mai Municipality
and the Chiang Mai Tourism Business Association.
Yipeng Festival will run between October 31 and November 3, with the theme
being the preservation of nature and air and reducing water pollution and
the preservation of the art and culture of Chiang Mai.
Chiang Mai Governor Amornpan Nimanant, wants the preservation of nature and
cultural heritage and the Lanna traditional lifestyle, including the
cultural tradition of “Long Sapao” using natural materials such as trunks
and leaves of banana, papaya or bamboo, done in the past during the Yipeng
Festival for the purposes of family bonding and merit-making. Residents and
tourists are encouraged to hang Lanna style lanterns instead of releasing
them into the sky, in support of the campaign to save the earth and reduce
air pollution, and will be the highlight of Chiang Mai Yipeng Festival 2009.
In addition to the “Kratongs” parade, the contests and fireworks, the
tourists and residents will witness the decorated “King Prajadhipok Cultural
Road”. All these activities are funded by the Chiang Mai Provincial
According to Boonlert Buranupakorn, the president of Chiang Mai Provincial
Administrative Organization, the “King Prajadhipok Cultural Road” is
organized with the aim of designating Chiang Mai as the center of Lanna
heritage, and to establish Chiang Mai as a world travel destination.
Sarawut Saetiaw, the president of the Chiang Mai Tourism Association, said
his association has been assigned the responsibility of the “King
Prajadhipok Cultural Road” and will decorate the road, from Chang Phuak
Gate, Three Kings Monument to Chiang Mai Gate, with 20,000 Lanna style
lanterns, with the largest and most beautiful “Kom Pad” or rotating lantern
The Yipeng Festival is to take place between October 31 and November 3,
starting at 6 p.m. each night with free tours along the road provided by the
Chiang Mai Night Safari’s shuttle buses.
Souvenir sales down by 60 percent
In line with the decrease in overseas tourists to Chiang Mai due to
the recession and political dispute of the local residents, Chadcharn
Eakchaipatanakul, the managing director of Wanasanan Souvenirs Shop, said
the end result is Chiang Mai’s economy suffers. His business alone is down
by 60 percent.
Eakchaipatanakul, the managing director of Wanasanan Souvenirs Shop
Chadcharn Eakchaipatanakul said “Business operators have been discussing the
plans to cope, but Chiang Mai has many groups with different opinions; some
do not find what the business sector wants for the province to be as
significant as what they want.
“I need Chiang Mai to be like it was 20 years ago, a lovely and peaceful
place. For others to perceive that Chiang Mai residents are violent and
scary is unacceptable to me, as these are not Chiang Mai people.”
He added that it was highly unlikely that the economy was going to be better
at the end of the year, so the government sector should be willing to give
aid to the private sector, especially the tourism business. If the state of
the economy is unchanged all through next year’s January, there’s really
nothing to be done but hope for the best when October of 2010 comes. And
many seasoned observers believe that if the current political bickering
continues, there won’t be any business by October 2010. But is anyone
Chiang Mai and the north celebrates National Police Day
School and university students who received
the grants from Princess Mother Srinagarindra, Provincial Police Region
5 and Prince Rapee Pattanasak’s funds.
In Chiang Mai, on the occasion of National Police Day on October
13, Chiang Mai Provincial Police held a Buddhist merit-making ceremony
at their Police Station as a memorial to the fellow police officers who
have passed away.
Pol. Maj. Gen. Sommai Kongwisaisuk, the commander of Chiang Mai
Provincial Police, spoke to the police officers who attended the event
and presided over the ceremony to grant scholarships from Princess
Srinagarindra, Provincial Police Region 5 and Prince Rapee Pattanasak’s
funds worth 320,000 baht to the school and university students who were
the children of the Chiang Mai provincial police.
In Mae Hong Son, the Police National Day event took place at Mae Hong
Son Provincial Police Station. Pol. Maj. Gen. Chawalit Kingnet, the
commander of Mae Hong Son Provincial Police, presided over the pledging
ceremony in front the image of King Bhumibol Adulyadej and the granting
of scholarships to the children of Mae Hong Son police and presented
honorary shields to the Mae Hong Son police supporters.
Mae Hong Son’s Governor Kamtorn Tawornsatith attended the religious
ceremony in dedication of the police who have done such hard work for
the country. The police officials also made merit by cleaning at Wat
Prathat Doi Kong Mu.
In Lampang, about 300 police officers attended the Buddhist merit-making
ceremony to gain blessing for themselves and their families and as a
dedication to the police who never failed at their duties to keep order
in the country. Certificates and scholarships were granted to the police
officers who have done remarkable jobs and the children of police who
have been excellent students.
A memo from Acting Police Chief Pol. Gen. Pateep Tanprasert was also
read to encourage the officials to continue their hard work for the
country and its people, with endurance, patience and selflessness.
19th Chiang Mai Motor Show to feature alternative technology
The 19th Chiang Mai Motor Show entitled ‘Save for
Tomorrow’, will take place between December 18 and 27 at Big C’s
Arena Hall near the Donjan intersection, with the focus on
Chairat Yapanya, president of the Automobile Agents’ Association
of Chiang Mai, noted in his speech that his organisation was
founded in 1997 and now has 23 members consisting of a range of
experienced and successful Chiang Mai auto-related businesses
including insurance and car decoration businesses in addition to
sales agents, all of whom have contributed to the advancement of
the automobile business in Chiang Mai. He added that last year’s
event had resulted in orders for 350 cars valued at 300 million
Visitors to the 19th Chiang Mai Motor Show, the largest motor
show event to be held in the northern region, will be introduced
to exciting automobile innovations and other interesting
activities. Special deals from all the world-renowned car brands
will be offered, in a similar way to the Motor Expo event in
Bangkok. It is hoped that the event will boost tourism,
attracting no less that 100,000 people to the province.
During the event, Off Road and Gymkhana car-racing competitions
for King Bhumibol’s trophy and the Miss Motor Show contest will
take place. Cars using technological innovations such as
alternative energy for environment conservation, car
accessories, car cleaning equipment and car stereos will be on
display. Visitors will be able to test drive the cars, relax in
a beer garden and eat at restaurants.
Samsung launches new LED TV with latest technological features
(L/R) Chaowalit Hemachurint, Samsung
Thailand’ AV Product Trainer, a PR representative from Samsung Thailand,
and Somporn Kulpruetdee, Marketing Director of the Northern Region
Consumer Electronic Section of Samsung Thailand, with Trin
Tanakittiwara, Client Leader of the Northern Region Consumer Electronic
Section of Samsung Thailand, all admiring the new Samsung LED TV.
Niyompanit Electronics Store and Samsung Thailand launched the new
Samsung LED TV with its latest programme technology at an event, LED
Exclusive Day, held on October 10 at the Niyompanit Electronics Store’s
Galerie Fantasia. Samsung’s new a leader in the field of sound and
visual technology, has modelled its new TV to include unique crystal
designed thinness and latest technological features, including internet
accessibility, promoted for the first time in Chiang Mai.
Everyone is welcome to visit Gallery Fantasia Niyompanit or the Samsung
booth at the head office of Niyompanit Electronics Store on Mahidol Road
to receive further detailed information about the new Samsung LED TV.
Thailand’s computer market to expand at the end of 2009
According to Kasikorn Research, the computer market should
expand during this year’s last quarter due to the restoration of
Thailand’s economy and customers’ trusts, as well as contributing
business factors including the launch of new computers with the latest
technology such as energy saving batteries and new operating systems,
persuading customers to replace their computers for more efficiency.
Fierce competition in the computer business is causing a decrease in
prices which should enable new groups of customers who did not have
buying power before to purchase the products. The emergence of 3G
technology associated with laptops should also prompt the growth of the
Sales of laptops are expected to increase to between 2.56 and 2.82
million this year, with desktop sales decreasing due to fierce marketing
campaigns among rival companies and the cutback in investments by the
private and public sectors during the first half of the year. As the
economy and consumer power are expected to be restored to normal during
the last quarter of this year, the computer market should become active
again, although prices are expected to be lower than last year in order
to boost sales.
Supreme Court upholds death
sentence for Chalor Kerdthes
in stolen Saudi jewelry case
Thailand’s Supreme Court upheld the Court of Appeals death sentence
verdict for former deputy police commissioner Chalor Kerdthes in murders
and embezzlement connected to the still not fully resolved Saudi jewelry
Pol. Lt-Gen. Chalor, then chief of a police investigative team charged
to resolve the Saudi jewellery theft case, was convicted of abducting
Darawadee Srithanakhan and her eight-year-old son and killing them to
force her husband Santi Srithanakhan, a gem trader who was believed to
be involved in the disappearance of Saudi royal family’s jewelry, to
cooperate with the investigation and to give him information about the
stolen Saudi royal jewellery.
On December 27, 2002, the Criminal Court sentenced Gen. Chalor to life
imprisonment for premeditated murder. On March 3, 2006, the Appeals
Court sentenced the police officer to death for murder, overturning the
earlier sentence by the lower court of life imprisonment.
The Supreme Court on Friday upheld the Court of Appeals’ death sentence
The case dates to the late 1980s when Kriangkrai Techamong, a Thai
worker employed in the palace of a Saudi prince, stole jewellery and
other valuables from the Saudi royal family’s palace and escaped with
the cache of jewels to his Lampang home in 1989.
Mr Kriangkrai was arrested in Thailand in 1990 and jailed for five
years, but when the jewellery was returned to Riyadh, an outraged Saudia
Arabia said only some of it was genuine - and that the famed ‘’Blue
Diamond’’ was still missing.
While Gen Chalor was sentenced for his role in the affair, the overall
case is still unresolved, including murders of several Saudi diplomats
and the disappearance of a Saudi businessman, which resulted in
Thailand’s diplomatic relations with Saudi being downgraded to the
charge d’affaires level.
The unresolved cases have hampered political, economic and trade
relations between the two countries for 20 years.
Several past Thai governments have attempted to upgrade relations with
Saudi Arabia, but their attempts have fallen flat because of the failure
to solve the murder cases. (TNA)
Foreclosed properties up for sale at bank-homes fair
On October 9, Chiang Mai’s Governor Amornpan Nimanant
presided over the opening ceremony of “Bank Foreclosure Homes
Festival ’09” at Central Airport Plaza.
Amornpan Nimanant presided over the opening of the bank-home
At the 5th annual event which was held from October 9-11, more
than 1000 items of property and homes that banks had foreclosed
due to non-payment were put up for sale to the general public.
Participating banks and financial institutions included the
Bangkok Bank, Krung Thai bank and the Bangkok Capital and
Alliance. It was reported that due to the economic crunch the
properties were sold at unusually low prices which proved
beneficial to the bargain hunters.
Bank representatives stated that these fairs are necessary to
solve the economic problems in the country. People with non
performing loans could be free of their debts; the banks can
reduce their Non Performing Assets (NPA) and also enables the
general public to own their own homes at below market prices.
Governor Amornpan Nimanant, members
of organising committee and guests are seen posing for a group
photograph before inspecting the properties.
Floods are continuing in varied areas of Thailand, with critical
needs in some areas due to more overflowing torrents, while the
national weather service warned that the weather system from
China now covers the North and Northeast.
A ridge of moderate high pressure from the Asian land mass is
covering much of Thailand north and east of the capital.
In the northeastern province of Si Sa Ket, second round of flash
flooding has hit Si Sa Ket municipality. Inundation in some
areas is over two metres deep due to the overflowing waters of
the Mun River causing residents to move their valuables to
In Phitsanulok’s provincial seat and Bang Rakam district over
30,000 rais (about 12,000 acres) of flooded paddy fields meant
that farmers were unable to harvest their crops in time, meaning
that they have lost most of their annual income. The farmlands
now smell of rotten rice.
Provincial officials are planning a long-term solution against
the flooding and to allocate budget for a flood retention area
project known as Kam Ling (Monkey’s Cheeks).
In nearby Kamphaeng Phet province, incessant rain and the
accumulated run-off from several other northern provinces
quickly raised water levels in the Yom River, triggering flash
run-offs overflowing into many houses as well as agricultural
Meanwhile, floodwaters in Sam Ngam district of Phichit is more
than two metres high.
Villagers used boats for transport and moved valuables to the
In Kanchanaburi province west of Bangkok, officials in Sai Yok,
Thong Pha Phum and Sangkhla Buri districts warned motorists and
drivers to drive carefully due to poor visibility from a dense
fog covering the areas.
Meanwhile, the Meteorological Department warned that the ridge
of a moderate high pressure weather system from China now
covering the Northeast and the North of Thailand is causing
thundershowers temperature drops one 1-3 degrees Celsius.
Torrential rain and isolated heavy rainfall is likely with winds
in lower central, eastern and southern Thailand.
Tropical Storm Parma in the mid-South China Sea centred about
200 km east of Hainan Island, China, is expected to be
downgraded to become a tropical depression and will make a
landfall at Hainan later on Monday. (TNA)
Train driver sacked following Thailand’s railways disaster
The State Railways of Thailand (SRT) on Monday October 12, fired
a train driver who collapsed while on duty, causing the train he
was driving to Bangkok to derail in the resort town of Hua Hin
in Prachuab Khiri Khan last week, leaving seven passengers dead
and injuring nearly 90 others.
SRT deputy governor Pakorn Tangjetsakow, who is also chairman of
the committee probing the derailment of the Route No. 84
passenger train, bound from Trang to Bangkok, said that the
investigation showed that the accident was not caused by a
technical glitch, but by collective human error—the train
driver, an engineer and other staff.
He said driver Roengsak Phanthep told investigators that he had
taken medicines for fever and allergy and collapsed without
warning as the train approached the accident scene.
Mr Parorn said the train under Roengsak’s control jumped the
stop light at Wang Phong Station and ran at high speed to Khao
Tao station in Prachuap Khiri Khan’s Hua Hin district before
The SRT deputy governor said the committee decided to dismiss Mr
Roengsak, while the engineer and staff of the derailed train
will be punished by cutting their salaries by 15 per cent for 10
The government-owned railway is facing a severe staff shortage
and numbers of train drivers have been unable to take holidays
or sick leave.
The SRT earlier said it will request Transport Minister Sopon
Zarum for permission to recruit more personnel to offset its
manpower shortage, and that train maintenance will be upgraded
following the worst rail incident in Thailand for many years.
a district disaster zone
Flood-hit Phitsanulok in northern Thailand on Tuesday announced
Bang Rakam district a disaster zone as flash floods continued to
damage farmland in Si Sa Ket province in the Northeast.
Floodwaters in Bang Rakam district remained dramatically high as
the water level in the Yom River exceeds the critical point of
Continuous water run-off from nearby Sukhothai, Phrae and
Kamphaeng Phet provinces boosted the floodwater level in Bang
Rakam and flooded eight more nearby subdistricts.
Nearly 40,000 rais (about 15,800 acres) of paddy fields were
submerged and damaged while residents busily moved their
belongings and livestock to higher ground, according to
Phitsanulok Governor Preecha Ruangchan.
In the northeastern province of Si Sa Ket, residents in Sila Lat
district have suffered floods as high as one metre while some
2,000 rais (about 800 acres) of paddy fields in two subdistricts
have been entirely destroyed.
A provincial irrigation team has drained water out of the
affected areas and planned to build dykes to prevent water from
flowing into agricultural areas.
Si Sa Ket was affected earlier by tropical storm Ketsana and
floods have affected some 69,000 households in 19 districts and
damaged farmlands and agricultural areas. (TNA)
and Pelvis Clinic opens
at Maharaj Nakorn Hospital
The opening ceremony was presided
over by Assoc. Prof. Dr. Wattana Nawacharoen, the Director of
Maharaj Nakorn Chiang Mai Hospital, and Dr. Chanane Wanapirak,
Head of CMU?s Department of Obstetrics and Gynecolog.
The Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology of Chiang
Mai University’s Faculty of Medicine have inaugurated a Urinary
Incontinence and Pelvis Clinic at Examination Room no.5 in the
Sripat Building of the Faculty of Medicine’s Maharaj Nakorn
Hospital. The opening ceremony was presided over by Assoc. Prof.
Dr. Wattana Nawacharoen, the Director of Maharaj Nakorn
At first, the clinic will be open every first and third Thursday
of the month, between 9 a.m. and 12 a.m., with the aim of
eventually opening once a week
According to Assoc. Prof. Dr. Wattana, the clinic has been
started to allow women who have urinary incontinence and pelvic
illnesses to obtain proper medical diagnoses and treatments, and
to improve public awareness concerning diagnostic procedures.
In his speech, Dr. Chanane Wanapirak, head of CMU’s Department
of Obstetrics and Gynecology said: that, as knowledge in
gynecology has advanced in recent years, new studies have been
done and many new treatments have been developed. However, up to
this point, there had been no specialist service at Maharaj
Nakorn Hospital for older Thai women with urinary or
The new clinic will function as a centre for medical services,
research, and education.
US pushes Thais to extradite suspected arms dealer
A senior U.S. Justice Department official on Tuesday October 13,
told Thai officials the extradition of suspected arms dealer
Viktor Bout is “a matter of great importance to the United
U.S. Deputy Attorney General David Ogden told reporters he was
“disappointed” by the decision of a Thai lower court in August
to reject a U.S. extradition request for the Russian and was
hopeful an appeals court would rule to extradite him. No date
has been set for the appeal.
Bout, once dubbed the “Merchant of Death,” has been accused of
supplying dictators and warlords with weapons used in civil wars
in South America, the Middle East and Africa.
The 42-year-old Bout was arrested in March 2008 at a Bangkok
luxury hotel after U.S. agents posed as arms buyers for the
Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, which
Washington classifies as a terrorist organization.
After his arrest, Bout was indicted in the U.S. on charges of
conspiring to sell millions of dollars worth of weapons to FARC,
including more than 700 surface-to-air missiles, thousands of
guns, high-tech helicopters and airplanes outfitted with grenade
launchers and missiles.
The Thai court rejected the U.S. extradition request, saying
Thailand considers the FARC a political movement and not a
terrorist group, and that extradition could not be granted for a
In talks with Thai officials, Ogden said he “raised the issue of
Viktor Bout’s extradition proceeding, which is a matter of great
importance to the United States. He stands charged with
extremely serious crimes against Americans.”
Bout has been linked to some of the world’s most notorious
conflicts, allegedly supplying arms to former Liberian dictator
Charles Taylor and Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi. The “Merchant
of Death” nickname came in 2000 from a minister at Britain’s
Foreign Office who was concerned that Bout was ferrying weapons
Bout has repeatedly denied the accusations.
Ogden’s visit was the latest in a political tug of war between
the U.S. and Russia, which wants to get Bout back to Moscow.
Experts say Bout, a former Soviet air force officer, has been
useful for Russia’s intelligence apparatus, and Russia does not
want him going on trial in the United States.