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New TAT Governor takes the helm

Mr. Thawatchai Arunyik is the new Governor of the Tourism Authority of Thailand.

Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) executive Mr. Thawatchai Arunyik, who became the new TAT Governor on 22 December, has issued a broad statement of thanks to all visitors who are presently in Thailand, and all those who are sticking to their travel plans in spite of the present state of political flux.
“I am happy to be taking the helm of TAT at a very important stage of the country’s history,” said Mr. Thawatchai. “I am confident the tourism industry will ride this through. Above all, I would like to thank all the visitors who have retained their confidence in the kingdom and maintained their travel plans. I hope their presence will encourage others to follow suit.”
Mr. Thawatchai replaces Mr. Suraphon Svetasreni, who has completed his four-year term. Born in Phetchaburi province in 1955, Mr. Thawatchai is the 9th Governor of TAT. Graduating with a Bachelor of Science from the University of the East, Manila, Philippines, he joined TAT in 1983 and has since held a number of positions both in Thailand and abroad, as follows:
Director of the TAT Central Region Office Region 2 (1995 – 2000), Director of the TAT London Office (2000 – 2003), Executive Director of the Central Region (2006 – 2007), Executive Director of Europe Africa and Middle East (2007- 2010), Deputy Governor for Domestic Marketing (2010 – 2013)
Commenting on his appointment, Mr. Thawatchai thanked the TAT Board of Directors for entrusting him with the responsibility. He said he looked forward to working with all industry partners, both in the public and private sectors, in Thailand and abroad, to maintain the momentum and help travel and tourism meet its targets.
“Tourism is now well established as a leading driver of jobs, economic growth, income distribution and sustainability,” Mr. Thawatchai said. “All my predecessors and the entire staff of TAT have worked tirelessly over the years to build a strong foundation. My job is to build on that and implement the strategies and projects already clearly outlined in the Marketing Action Plan.”
TAT is anticipating visitor arrivals of 26.1 million in 2013, and projecting 28.01 million in 2014. Revenue projections are for 1.1 trillion Baht in 2013 and 1.326 trillion Baht in 2014.
He said he would work on further strengthening alliances with industry partners, boosting cost-effective communications via social media and ensuring that the industry never loses sight of the need for environmental sustainability. (TAT)


Following in the Footsteps of the King

Napan Sevikul (1st left), Chairman of the committee for the photo contest and President of the exhibition “Yang Phra bath Thi Yatra” or “Following in the Footsteps of the King”, along with Dr. Jiraporn Wittayasakpan (3rd left), Dean of the Faculty of Mass Communication of CMU, Dr. Anchan Chompupoung (4th left), a representative of the Royal Project and Orachorn Chanwiwattana (5th left), Area Director and General Manager of Central Festival Chiang Mai introduced the exhibition at a press conference held at Central Festival in honor of the 50th anniversary of Chiang Mai University.


Strawberry season has arrived!

13th Samoeng Strawberry Fair from February 6 – 9, 2014

Samoeng District Chief Anupong Vawongmoon announces the Strawberry Fair in February.

Nopniwat Krailerg
Samoeng district will host the 13th annual Samoeng Strawberry Fair from February 6 - 9, 2014 and it will feature the sweet strawberries of the mountains along with OTOP products and of course Miss Strawberry Fair as well as a Miss Tribal contest, a Strawberry wedding, traditional games and singing contests from village leaders. There will be a show of agricultural products as well as a Strawberry parade. The opening ceremony will be held on February 8, 2014 at 9:00 a.m.

Held in cooperation with the Chiang Mai Provincial Administration Organization, Samoeng District and the Samoeng District Agricultural Office, the event features the produce of over 500 area farmers; the largest area of strawberry farms in Chiang Mai, according to Samoeng District Chief Anupong Vawongmoon. He noted that due to the weather the strawberries have ripened faster than in previous years and a shortage will result in prices of 400 – 600 baht per kilogram.

Surapon Thongthiang, Acting Director of Chiang Mai Provincial Agricultural Extension Office said that Chiang Mai has strawberry farms covering 4,931 rai in 7 districts including Samoeng, Mae Wang, Mae Cham, Mae Rim, Muang and Galyani Vadhana. The value of the crop is around 610 million baht per year. This year the strawberry season is expected to produce approximately 8,145 tons or 2,400 kg /rai, 32% less than last year.


Explaining UK pension transfers

By Don Freeman

For the many people who leave the UK each year to live, work and retire in Thailand, or many popular countries across the world, a decision needs to be made as to whether they will keep their private or occupational pension funds in the UK or transfer them overseas. Since 2006, an individual looking to transfer their UK pension benefits, has been permitted to transfer that UK pension overseas by Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) on the condition that the receiving overseas scheme is a QROPS.

The initials stand for Qualifying Recognized Overseas Pensions Scheme, and it is the only type of overseas pension scheme that an individual can transfer a UK pension to. A UK pension fund would have both been contributed to and grown with the assistance of HMRC tax relief over the years. HMRC therefore expects those funds to provide an income in retirement.

However, as other jurisdictions in the world do not have the same internal rules for their pensions, HMRC made the decision that UK pensions could only transfer to an overseas scheme that agreed to pay out benefits with the same limits as UK schemes. This must be for a period of at least five complete UK tax years of the pension member’s overseas residency (a period of time now referred to as the Member Payment Provision Period).

The limits would include any pension benefits not being paid out before retirement age 55, with pension income not exceeding the UK limits and the lump sum payable not exceeding 25% of the total fund’s value. Benefits paid before retirement age, 55, or in excess of the UK limits, would be subject to an unauthorized payment charge.

However, providing the pension member (and the QROPS) stays within the UK regulations for five complete tax years of the member’s overseas residency, there are many benefits and advantages of transferring from a UK pension to a QROPS.

A key reason to transfer to a QROPS is tax treatment on the pension. Pension income paid from a UK pension (either through drawing from the fund or purchasing an annuity) would be subject to tax at source, when paid from the UK scheme, or subject to tax upon receipt in the country that the member lives. Depending upon where an individual has migrated to, the local rules of some QROPS could allow either a nominal or nil tax to be deducted from the income at source and no tax required to be paid upon receipt.

Many people assume that transferring their UK pensions to a scheme in the country that they are living, is the right solution. This is not necessarily the case. Firstly, the country that they are living in may not have any pension schemes (or the equivalent) that are QROPS – therefore a UK pension transfer could not be received.

Secondly, the benefits available from a local scheme may not be any greater or tax efficient than if paid from the original UK scheme. In recent years, the most popular QROPS are in Gibraltar, Malta, Isle of Man and New Zealand.

The local pension rules for each vary and each jurisdiction has Double Tax Treaties with different countries, therefore it is important to establish what benefits are important to you.Among the benefits available, after the five years of overseas residency, are higher income levels than permitted from UK pensions, enhanced lump sums (usually up to 30%) and zero tax paid on death benefits to beneficiaries when a pension is in payment. This can be up to 100% of the remaining fund. UK pensions would either tax the beneficiaries 55% on any lump sum or (in the case of some annuities) the pension would stop altogether upon death of the member.

With the various benefits and options available, it is important to seek the correct advice before deciding on transferring your UK pension to a QROPS.

Don Freeman is president of Freeman Capital Management, a Registered Investment Advisor with the US Securities Exchange Commission (SEC), based in Phuket, Thailand. He has over 15 years experience and provides personal financial planning and wealth management to expatriates. Specializing in UK and US pension transfers. Call 089-970-5795 or email: [email protected]


Candle Light Museum in Chiang Rai to feature antique wood crafts

The Candle Light Museum at the Mae Fah Laung Art and Cultural Park will be open until January 31, 2014.

The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) is inviting international and local tourists to visit the special “Candle Light Museum” at the Mae Fah Luang Art and Cultural Park in Chiang Rai.

Mr. Thawatchai Arunyik, Governor of TAT said, “The Candle Light Museum at the Mae Fah Laung Art and Cultural Park is the first of its kind in Thailand and is unlike anywhere else. Visitors to Chiang Rai should not miss this magnificent exhibition, where the exquisite hundred-year-old wooden crafts are being beautifully decorated with candle light.”

The Candle Light Museum is the first-ever exhibition of its kind as candles are lit to spectacularly illuminate the exquisite wooden Lanna-style candlesticks and artefacts aged over several hundred years. Visitors will also be impressed with the romantic atmosphere around the art and culture park as the candles are lit to illuminate the entire premises.

The Museum, which is set to exhibit until 31 January, 2014, is open daily (except Monday) from 10:00 – 22:00 hrs. Saturday, Sunday and public holidays will be more special as visitors will be served with complimentary welcome drinks and will have the chance to enjoy Lanna traditional performances, which are organized twice a day at 19:30 and 20:30 hrs.

The new exhibition shows the character, philosophies and working principles of the Royal Family, and their diligence to find ways to improve the lives and livelihoods of the Thai people in all corners of the Kingdom through simple but effective works. It also shows how the members of the Family inspired each other, and how their examples can inspire so many others.

For visitors wishing to visit all attractions, a combined ticket of three places is available at 190 Baht (from 230 Baht). The Candle Light Museum can be reached at 66 (0) 5371 6605-7. (TAT)


Governor receives Chamber of Commerce award

Governor Wichien Puthinwinyoo receives the Golden Boat Award from the Thai Chamber of Commerce for his work in promoting business during his time as Governor in Nonthaburi.

Shana Kongmun
The Chiang Mai Chamber of Commerce awarded Chiang Mai Governor Wichien Puthiwinyoo the “Golden Boat Award” on behalf of the Thai Chamber of Commerce on Thursday, January 16, 2014 at the Imperial Mae Ping Hotel Chiang Mai. The awards ceremony, which held in Trang in November 2013 at the Thai Chamber of Commerce’s 31st annual meeting, saw 9 individuals receive the award for outstanding service. Governor Wichien received the award for his work in promoting Nonthaburi during his four years as Governor in that Central Thailand province.

The Chairman of the Chamber of Commerce, Kitsana Vachekrilas, traveled to Chiang Mai to present the award personally, telling the gathered Chamber members of the hard work and dedication Governor Wichien showed there. Chairman Kitsana talked about the improvements under his guidance; flood control and traffic guidance. He noted that when Nonthaburi faced flood problems he stepped in personally to find solutions. He concluded that even though Chiang Mai is bigger with more people he believed Governor Wichien would do as good a job for Chiang Mai as he did for Nonthaburi.

The embarrassed Governor took the stage to accept the award and the thanks for his work in Nonthaburi noting that he was a child of the temples, having attended temple schools when young. He said that Nonthaburi with its 6 districts that could be visited in one day were much less work than Chiang Mai and its 25 districts that can take days to visit, he believed that his willingness and dedication to hard work will show through. He said “I’ve come to work, and I will work hard for the people of Chiang Mai.”

Kitsana Vachekrilas was then joined onstage by President of the Chiang Mai Chamber of Commerce Chalermchart Nakarungkul and former President Narong Kongprasert to award Governor Wichien the Golden Boat award from the Thai Chamber of Commerce.


CMU develops alternative filling stations for LPG

Compressed bio-methane gas new alternative

Chiang Mai University’s ERDI – Nakornping has developed alternative filling stations using CBG gas instead of LPG.

ERDI - Nakornping, or the Energy Research and Development, Chiang Mai University has succeeded in developing an alternative to LPG gas or liquefied petroleum gas, called Compressed Bio Methane Gas or CBG gas. Rising oil prices has seen people turn steadily towards LPG gas; not only in vehicles but in Thailand it is in common use in households as well. The use of LPG has seen a growth rate of 10% annually in the last five years and in 2012 the proportion of houses using LPG in Thailand reached 41%, approximately 3,047 tons per year.
LPG production in Thailand is not sufficient to meet the rising demand and Thailand has had to import increasing quantities to make up the shortfall. In 2012 22% of all LPG used was imported, or approximately 1,730 tons per year.
In 2012, the Energy Conservation Fund, the Energy Policy and Planning Office (EPPO) supported ERDI - Nakornping to research the potential development for biogas production from energy crops to replace liquid petroleum gas commercially. The study was supported by a budget from the Energy Conservation Fund to build Compressed Bio-methane Gas (CBG) filling stations instead of LPG.
Assoc. Prof. Prasert Rerkkriangkrai, Director of ERDI - Nakornping, Chiang Mai University said that nowadays, the potential of biogas production in Thailand from the livestock, industrial sector and the community are 1,170 million cubic meters per year across the country. Biogas can be obtained from the fermentation of waste such as agricultural produce or livestock. ERDI improved production and quality to compete with LPG effectively as a replacement.
Scientists improved CBG by adding elements to a greater volume of methane by reducing the amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) gas, hydrogen sulfide (H2S) and humidity down to produce compressed bio-methane gas or CBG.
ERDI – Nakorn Ping produced a model of a Compressed Bio-methane Gas (CBG) filling station using bio-methane gas production technology. The model station could produce CBG 420 kg/day or 153,300 kg/year with a cost of 12 baht/kilogram. CBG could replace LPG 133,000 kg/year, valued at 3,308,000 Baht/year (equivalent to the price of LPG at 24.82 baht per kilogram.)
Tests found that the efficiency of CBG is similar to that of LPG and that it could replace it. (ERDI-Nakornping) will test use in communities of not less than 100 households to assess and build confidence among the entrepreneurs and public as well as other interested consumers to further development and commercial applications. (CMU)


Asian Wings to fly from Mandalay to Chiang Mai

The Myanmar based airline Asian Wings Airways plans to fly from Mandalay Tada –U International Airport to Chiang Mai International Airport every Wednesday, using an ATR 72-500 aircraft. Asian Wings Airways is currently flying to 16 destinations from Yangon with two ATR 72-500 aircrafts.


HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]

New TAT Governor takes the helm

Following in the Footsteps of the King

Strawberry season has arrived!

Explaining UK pension transfers

Candle Light Museum in Chiang Rai to feature antique wood crafts

Governor receives Chamber of Commerce award

CMU develops alternative filling stations for LPG

Asian Wings to fly from Mandalay to Chiang Mai