HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

Tourism expected to grow in 2011

New Year’s around the North

Chiang Mai Airport sees expansion plans continue

Two new airline companies emerge in Cambodia next year


Tourism expected to grow in 2011

Chiang Mai remains destination of choice for Thais

A recent report presented by Piyamarn Tejapaibul, President of the Tourism Council of Thailand (TCT) reported that 2010 saw tourism growth despite the political turmoil and environmental disasters, with international tourist arrivals increasing by 1.59 million to 11.5.75 million, up 11.2 percent from last year’s 14.16 million. International visitors were projected to add 560 billion baht to the Thai economy for 2010. Domestic tourism expanded 5 percent from 86.4 million to 90.7 million bringing in 390 billion baht to the economy.

South Asian tourists represented the highest volume of international visitors with Malaysians at the top followed by China, Japan and South Korea. European tourists were the second highest volume with the United Kingdom once again accounting for the largest percentage of visitors.

Russia, some middle European countries, China, Cambodia, South Korea, Indonesia, India, Bangladesh, Nepal, Argentina, Brazil, South Africa, and United Arab Emirates saw significant increases in the volume of visitors to Thailand, a result of direct flights recently available from those countries.

Bangkok has remained the primary destination among international tourists as is the hub for traveling to other regions. The second most popular destination was Phuket, Surat Thani and Hat Yai with Pattaya also a top draw. On the other hand, Thai tourists chose the northern region, especially Chiang Mai, as their primary choice, followed Hat Yai, Nakhon Si Thammarat, Surat Thani, and Pattaya.

About 80 percent of international tourists traveled on non-package trips and a large number were return visitors.

For 2011, the Tourism Council of Thailand expects the expansion of international tourists by 8 – 10 percent (on the assumptions of no political turmoil or unexpected natural disaster), approximately between 17.01 – 17.32 million, but the marginal increase will be lower than those between 2009 and 2010. Rising oil prices, global economic issues, the fluctuation of the baht constitute some of the external factors for slowing growth while internal factors affecting tourism are seen as the inadequate development of tourism attractions and activities to attract new groups of tourists, quality assurance on products and services concerned with the tourism industry not being seriously implemented to the whole industry, high market concentration and the inability of businesses to cope with the changes of market conditions.

However, a tourism confidence survey conducted by the Faculty of Economics at Chulalongkorn University with the TCT and the TAT showed that Thai tourism operators expressed more confidence in the coming first quarter than they did in the last quarter of 2010 due to increasing political and economic stability and the consistency of tourism promotion measures.

Stimulation measures recommended include; promoting Thailand as a health and wellness destination, creating better investment opportunities for new tourism businesses, developing data from the Ministry of Tourism and Sport, the TAT and the TCT and promoting the “Thai Tiew Thai” program to encourage domestic tourism.


New Year’s around the North

Travelers flocked to Wat Phrathart Lampang Luang in Lampang to make merit for the New Year.

Chiang Mai Mail reporters, Thaweerat Pensalaphan, Khajohn Boonpath

More than a million visitors came to Chiang Mai during the past year, Governor ML Panadda Diskul announced recently, noting that large numbers of visitors came to Chiang Mai during the New Year period to enjoy the cool weather and the spectacular fireworks show put on for HM the King’s birthday.

“They visited Waroros market, viewed the beautiful flowers blooming in the cool weather, shopped for unique Lanna products and enjoyed the international fireworks display and contest. But it still worries me that if the winter and tourist season ends soon then the number of visitors will drop, so there should be other promotional plans and events to help attract them back again,” the Governor noted.

Lampang’s Wat Prathat Luang saw large numbers of Buddhist faithful flock to the temple to pay their respects and make merit at the grand pagoda and to seek good fortune in the coming year, according to Prayuth Tonkaew, Kaman of Tambon Lampang Luang.

“This year, there were not enough parking spaces for cars and vehicles to cope with the influx of the visitors,” he said. So, the temple management had to arrange the multi –purposed grounds as well as cultural performance ground and football field to be used as the car parks, he added.

Further North in Mae Hong Son, Governor Kamthorn Thavornsathit opened a traffic safety operational center to reduce road accidents during the New Year period and to offer help to drivers in the province.

Chiang Mai Airport sees expansion plans continue

The Airports of Thailand (AoT) continues improvement of facilities at Chiang Mai International Airport in a bid to develop the airport into a world class airport catering to less than 5 million passengers, according to Rawiwan Netrakhawesna, Director of AoT, Chiang Mai. More shops and services have been installed in the newly developed sections with nearly 90 percent occupancy.

“Next year, improvement work will be focused on the outside of the building as part of the expansion plan to cope with more international airlines using the Chiang Mai International Airport as an aviation hub,” she said.

Thai Air Asia launches direct flights between Chiang Mai and Hat Yai, and Chiang Mai and Singapore this month. Kan Air, the operator of the small aircraft service with 12 seater aircraft, between Chiang Mai and Pai district, Mae Hong Son begin services this month as well.

Two new airline companies emerge in Cambodia next year

By Reinhard Hohler

According to media sources in Phnom Penh, the Cambodian Government will provide flight licenses to two local airline companies for domestic service between Phnom Penh-Siem Reap and Phnom Penh-Sihanoukville. Mao Havanal, Secretary of State of the Civil Aviation Department, indicated during a meeting held yesterday that the government will grant licenses to the “Tonle Sap” and “Indochina” airline companies at the beginning of 2011. Mao Havanal indicated that these companies will fly medium size airplanes, including ATR 320 and Boeing 737. SRP MP Yim Sovann said that he welcomes the authorization for additional airlines, because the more there are the more competition there will be in the airline sector.