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Chiang Mai promoted as Long Stay destination for Japanese

Governor Suriya Prasatbandit addresses the forum attendees including many Japanese long stay residents of Chiang Mai.

Wipanee Intapan
The Chiang Mai Long Stay Forum was held to discuss and publicize the potential of Chiang Mai as a destination for Japanese who wish to stay for a long time, including retirees at the Dhara Dhevi Chiang Mai on June 18, 2014. Chiang Mai has seen growth in retired Japanese making the city their home.
Pongsathorn Kessasamli, Deputy Governor Asia and South Pacific Market of Tourism Authority of Thailand presided over the Chiang Mai Long Stay Forum where he was welcomed by Chiang Mai Governor Suriya Prasatbandit.
The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) East Asia office has mapped out a marketing plan that focuses on Japanese long-stay tourists in a joint project with 3 TAT offices in Japan; Tokyo, Osaka and Fukuoka. They worked with the Chiang Mai Chamber of Commerce which has proposed a 5 year visa for long stay tourists, and businesses in Chiang Mai to offer the forum for more the more than 100 Japanese long stayers who visited the forum to meet with local businesses and see products tailored to their needs.
The event had a forum for members of the Chiang Long Stay Guide Club, the Japan Thailand Friendship Forum and Chao Newspaper to offer suggestions and offer information to the Japanese who live in Chiang Mai.
In the evening the TAT held a Lanna style welcome party for the attendees who also got to view an impressive Bai Sri Su Kwan ceremony, Thai dance performances and a Kad Mua, Northern style market.
The TAT Deputy Governor Asia and South Pacific Market said that this type of tourist is a great market to target as they have a lot of free time and disposable income. Chiang Mai is popular with many Japanese for the golfing, the weather, health services, amenities and livable size.
In the past year, Thailand welcomed more than 1.5 million Japanese tourists accounting for 11.96% of tourists. In 2014, the number of Japanese tourist in first five months has dropped to 19.94% because of the political situation believes that with political stability the Japanese tourists will return in greater numbers.


New Chiang Mai – Myanmar routes to open this year

Chiang Mai Mail reporters
Bangkok Airways announced plans to use Chiang Mai as their base for ATR-72 turboprop flights to Myanmar and new domestic destinations. The new base will be opened in the fourth quarter of 2014 and will be the base for Bangkok Airways for the new generation of the 600 model of the ATR-72 turboprop plane. The airline plans on purchasing three more ATR 72 – 600s from its original order of six of the same type.
Bangkok Airways will offer direct Chiang Mai – Yangon and Chiang Mai –Mandalay flights that will give the airline a total of five routes to Myanmar, it is already the largest foreign carrier with three routes with 40 flights in total a week.


Unlicensed hotels and guesthouses given July 17 deadline to register

Athacha Kampanat –saenyakorn Chief of the Administration and Justice Enhancement Group of Chiang Mai warned all small business operators, especially those operating hotels or guesthouses, to obtain a trade license by July 17, 2014 or face prosecution from the government.

Nopniwat Krailerg
Unlicensed hotels, guesthouses and service hotels are being told they have until July 17, 2014 to register their businesses and obtain the correct licenses or they will face prosecution which includes fines and imprisonment. Two locations have already been prosecuted including a 40 room service hotel that was fined 10,000 baht for not registering and a 1,000 baht for the period during which it was operating.
Athacha Kampanat–saenyakorn Chief of the Administration and Justice Enhancement Group of Chiang Mai said, “Chiang Mai has 270 legal hotels or about 16,000 rooms and over 200 illegal hotels. The word ‘hotel’ in this law means every room that is rented for less than 30 days at a time, so if you have this kind of room, you have to sign this trade license.”
The NCPO is enforcing laws and regulations for entrepreneurs to obtain their trade licenses as well and will investigate those who break the law in regards to auctions, antiques, pawnshops, hotels and others.
The Department of Provincial Administration chose Chiang Mai as the target area for training Administrators about this operation from June 10 to 12, 2014, covering all parts of the process including arresting the suspect to drafting the complaint for Chiang Mai District Court prosecutors. The Chiang Mai Government has given all unlicensed businesses until July 17, 2014 to register and comply with the law.


Imperial Mae Ping holds wedding fair

It’s the season to begin planning those cool season weddings and the Imperial Mae Ping led the way with their Chic Wedding Fair 2014 held at Central Plaza Chiang Mai Airport shopping center on Friday, June 13, 2014. Here General Manager of Imperial Mae Ping Hotel Peter Schnyder is joined by organizers and his management team at the opening ceremony for the event which featured a fashion show as well as special offers from vendors.


Thonglor Pet Hospital opens new Chiang Mai branch

Assoc. Prof. Suvichai Rojanasthien President of the Veterinary Council of Thailand (2nd left) presided over the opening ceremony of the Thonglor Pet Hospital’s 13th branch in Chiang Mai where he was welcomed by Dr. Boonchu Thongcharoenpoonporn, Managing Director of Thonglor Pet Hospital (center) on June 15, 2014.

Wipanee Intapan
The well-known brand Thonglor Pet Hospital has added their latest branch in Chiang Mai to increase their number of hospitals to 13 with branches in Sukhumvit, Lad Phrao, Pinklao, Chaengwattana, Rangsit, Ram Indra, Rama 2, Kaset-Nawamin, Phutthamonthon Sai 4 in the Bangkok area and outside Bangkok in Pattaya, Khon Kaen, and now Chiang Mai.
Dr. Boonchu Thongcharoenpoonporn, Managing Director of Thonglor Pet Hospital said that the pet hospital is in a 4-storey building designed and decorated in a French style located near the Tesco Lotus Ruamchok on Somphot Chiang Mai 700 Year Road (2nd Ring Road) to offer convenience to those who need to bring their pets in.
The hospital offers pet check-up services as well as a general medicine clinic, and specialized clinics such as neurological, heart, and eye. The hospital will also be able to repair broken limbs, a frequent problem with dogs, and offer services such as a heart ultrasound, electrocardiography, and digital x-ray. The clinic will have separate pet recovery rooms with 24 hour care. Additionally, they will offer grooming services and pet products.
Thonglor Pet Hospital Thailand works to offer a high standard in all services and offer high quality care for pets so that owners can have the peace of mind that their pet is receiving the best care. Thonglor Hospitals’ motto is “The best standard is to mind the details,” and this is key to all the staff at the hospital.


Forum on improving standards in tourism management

Supith Verjai, Director of the Bureau of Tourism Services Development led a seminar with Bangkok University and tourism professionals in Chiang Rai to discuss improving outdated standards.

Chiang Mai Mail reporters
The Bureau of Tourism Services Development (BTSD) and Bangkok University held a forum at the Rimkok Resort Hotel in Chiang Rai to review the standards that had been set in place in 2005 and to receive suggestions on necessary revisions. Supith Verajai, Director of the BTSD met with government officials, business owners and management to discuss necessary measures to improve the current standards.
The Department of Tourism had created 14 sets of standards for tourism management in 2005 but as those standards no longer relate to current conditions the Bureau has been assigned to obtain feedback for new standards.
K. Supith noted that many tourist attractions were in dilapidated condition and lacked serious management oversight in their sustainability. The Department of Tourism is in charge of improving tourist attractions and creating standards for goods and services that will ensure confidence in tourism in Thailand.


New privileges for 1Card holders with CPN

Central Pattana Public Company Limited (CPN), in cooperation with the 1 Card is now offering premier privileges to their shoppers at Central Plaza Chiang Mai Airport, Central Festival Chiang Mai, and Central Plaza Shopping Malls in Lampang, Chiang Rai, and Pitsanuloke. Dr. Nattakit Tangpoonsinthana, CPN Executive Vice President for Marketing, said that the cooperation between the two companies was a key strategy to expand and strengthen their customer base. The 1 Card as a leading retail company in Thailand now has had over 4.7 million customers nationwide. “Privileges for our customers will include special information, activities, and added exclusive promotions from the shopping centers under CPN, such as Central World, Central Plazas, and Central Festivals. Apart from that, we have implemented the CRM system by making the 1 Card our main data base for customization along with the granted privileges,” the Executive Vice President revealed. The 1card will be the only card that can make shopping more convenient at all shopping centers under CPN and will offer premium and prize programs as well as discounts from many leading brands. (PR)


Chiang Rai is the Destination of Love

Wedding, Honeymoon & Travel Fair at Central Plaza Chiang Rai

The Destination of Love 2nd annual Wedding, Honeymoon and Travel Fair was held at Central Plaza Chiang Rai and promoted Chiang Rai as a wedding destination with its beautiful scenery and tourist attractions.

Wipanee Intapan
Chiang Rai touted itself as the Destination of Love in the Wedding, Honeymoon & Travel Fair held at Central Plaza Chiang Rai on June 14 and 15, 2015. The second annual event was hosted by Central Pattana Public Company Limited (CPN) in cooperation with Toyota Chiang Rai Co., Ltd, Thai Air Asia Co., Ltd, Le Meridien Chiang Rai Resort, the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) Chiang Rai Office, Anantara Golden Triangle Elephant Camp and Resort, Fine Dae Creative Organizer, and other wedding oriented businesses.
Weeradech Somwan, Muang Chiang Rai District Chef presided over the opening ceremony to promote Chiang Rai as a great destination for weddings with the ability to offer great wedding organization. He noted that Chiang Rai has long been known for its beautiful landscapes and tourist attractions that can fulfill wishes for stunning pre-wedding photos as well as chic weddings. The province offers first class accommodation, shopping malls and good transport that would serve wedding couples, both Thai and foreign.
A mini-concert was also given at the Wedding Fair by the famous Thai singer Nueng ETC or Apiwat Pongwaad. This was followed by a fashion show by leading brands.


Upcoming AEC explained by MFA

Roadshow launched to introduce new book

Shana Kongmun
“Many Thai people lack an understanding of what ASEAN is and what the full implementation of the Asean Economic Community will mean,” said Dusit Manapan, Deputy Director – General of the Department of Information at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, at a conference held at the Kantary Hills Hotel Conference rooms on Wednesday, June 18, 2014. The Ministry has produced a book in Thai explaining what the AEC is, how the economic community will affect labor, SMEs, infrastructure and regulations.
The Deputy Director outlined the procedure, explaining the various Free Trade Agreements and alliances around the world and how the AEC compares. He noted that the ASEAN agreement covers more than just the economic aspect but also the political, security, and socio-cultural communities. He outlined the Master Plan for the ASEAN community and went over the points in the book including the issue of free flow of skilled labor in certain categories, and of the need for Thailand to better its language skills.
The roadshow will be visiting all of the provinces to distribute the books and inform local businesspeople and officials about the details of the AEC. He pointed out that the implementation of the AEC is a gradual affair and that not every country will be at the same stage of readiness as the same time, adding that will not be a problem.
Deputy Governor Nawin Sintusa spoke on the effects on Chiang Mai and the effect on tourism, the MICE industry and other industries in the North.

AEC: Dusit Manapan, Deputy Director – General of the Department of Information at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (center) and Deputy Governor Nawin Sintusa (2nd right) are joined by Head of the Tourism Authority of Thailand for Chiang Mai Wisut Buachoom (far right), Chalermchart Nakarunkul and the moderator for the event (far left)


First rise of Thai Industries Sentiment Index in 7 months

The Thai Industries Sentiment Index (TISI) in May showed its first rise in seven months, while a related indicator, motorcycle installment plan loans, have started to pick up.
Suphan Mongkolsuthee, chair of the Federation of Thai Industries (FTI), said TISI rose to 85.1 in May compared with 84.0 in April as operators saw positive signs in the economy. along with the alleviation of some Thai political problems. The index is based on orders, sales, production and operating results.
In May, about 148,000 automobiles were produced. The figure fell by 36 per cent year-on-year but rose by 16.94 per cent from the amount registered in April. Automobile sales should increase significantly by October when economic confidence improves and money in the economy increases.
The FTI predicts the Thai economy will grow by more than 2.5 per cent or nearly 3 per cent this year. Earlier it expected the economy to shrink by 1 per cent.
Mitsuji Konoshita, executive of Group Lease Plc, said the economic stimulation measures of the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) including payment for pledged rice were supporting the grass roots economy which formed the main group of its clients.
He said his company’s net profit in the second half of this year should grow by 20-30 per cent, even though its net profit dropped 10-15 per cent in the first quarter. Mr Konoshita expects loans for both motorcycle installment plans and microfinance to grow. (MCOT online news)


The Military Coup Is Bullish For the Thai Stock Market

As you can see, shares dropped initially when the coup was announced, but have since recovered. Furthermore, shares are about 25% off their highs seen last summer. Compare this to the S&P 500 SPDR (SPY), which is making new all-time highs.

By Don Freeman
For those of us from the United States and Europe, we cannot imagine a military coup occurring where we come from. Matter of fact, I get calls from nervous friends and relatives asking if I’m okay and if there are tanks in the street. Well, for those of us that have lived here for quite some time, we have become like ordinary Thais and view the coup as a non-event. Here in Thailand, coups are part of the ordinary course of business every few years.
All I tell the folks back home is imagine a General put the Republican and Democratic leaders in a room and said stop this bickering and work together. Here in Thailand, that’s what the General did. When they failed to come up with a deal, he just said both of you are useless and I’m taking over.
I view this as a bullish event for the long-term because it provides some stability to the country, which it so desperately needs. In fact, if you notice its business as usual. Factories are still humming and goods are being shipped in and out of the country. Thailand, due to its location, remains the industrial heart of Southeast Asia.
For Thai exporters and us expats, we are benefiting from the weak Baht. A weak currency is good for tourists as they can buy more with their home currency and it also makes Thai exports more competitive in the global market. In other words, it’s cheaper to buy Thai goods abroad. This, in turn, has helped the Thai stock market.
The ETF that tracks the Thai Stock Market is iShares MSCI Thailand (THD). Shares have rallied since the lows seen in 2008 of around $20 to almost $100 last summer. This was before Thailand was hit by protests and it fell to around $62. Shares look to have formed a triple bottom and gone higher. As I like to say, “what can’t go lower, must go higher.” Furthermore, when a market is hit with bearish news like a military coup and goes higher, that is one of the hallmarks of a bull market. Matter of fact, since Thailand has a history of coups, the Thai Stock Market has typically risen 3% in the first month after a coup. Here, you can see how the THD has performed since the protests have been going on, leading up to the coup last month.
Digging deeper, I see the top 10 holdings of the THD comprise the leading companies in Thailand and account for half of THD’s assets. They include Siam Commercial Bank, PTT, AIS, Kasikornbank, PTT Exploration, CP Group, Siam Cement, PTT Global Chemicals and Bangkok Bank. These companies form the backbone of the Thai economy and are unlikely to be affected from the drop in tourism numbers. The companies in the THD rely more on domestic demand and their growth story is still intact.
These stocks are also incredibly cheap compared to their global peers. The holdings of the THD have a Price/Earnings multiple of 12 and are trading at just 0.8 times book value and 0.8 times sales. If we compare this the SPY, we see that it has a Price/Earnings multiple of 16 and shares are trading at 2.2 times book value and 1.6 times sales.
My long-term outlook for Thailand remains intact. As an expat who has been coming to Thailand for many years, I know where Thailand was, where it is, and I have a pretty good idea of where it’s heading. Even the World Bank agrees with me. In their assessment of Thailand, they say:
“Thailand became an upper-middle income economy in 2011. Notwithstanding political uncertainty and volatility, Thailand has made great progress in social and economic issues. As such, Thailand is one of the great development success stories, with sustained strong growth and impressive poverty reduction.”
I couldn’t have said it better myself. For those of you interested in more of my writings, give me a call to get a copy of Don Freeman’s Expat Financial Guide. I’m also available to discuss the THD and various other investment options for your portfolio to help build a more secure future.
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]


HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]

Chiang Mai promoted as Long Stay destination for Japanese

New Chiang Mai – Myanmar routes to open this year

Unlicensed hotels and guesthouses given July 17 deadline to register

Imperial Mae Ping holds wedding fair

Thonglor Pet Hospital opens new Chiang Mai branch

Forum on improving standards in tourism management

New privileges for 1Card holders with CPN

Chiang Rai is the Destination of Love

Upcoming AEC explained by MFA

First rise of Thai Industries Sentiment Index in 7 months

The Military Coup Is Bullish For the Thai Stock Market