NEWS
HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

Historic International Jazz Festival for HM the King comes to Chiang Mai

Chiang Mai Hotels earn 500 million baht in 2 weeks

Royal Flora 2006 Mascot Collectables in High Demand

Chiang Mai to improve existing tourism sites and create new ones

Students recruited as guides for Mae Hong Son tourism

International Day for the Handicapped to be celebrated in Chiang Mai

Beware of Falling Space Rocks

HIV-AIDS cases in Chiang Mai reach an alarming level

Prime Minister concerned about cold weather and the drugs abuse in Mae Hong Son province

Creative Spirits at the Indy Festival

Historic International Jazz Festival for HM the King comes to Chiang Mai

(From left) Thanawat Hiranlekha, manager of Thai Airways International North Region office, Surapon Sawetseranee, marketing communication deputy governor of TAT, and Thongchai Wongrianthong, Chiang Mai deputy governor, who joined the press conference for the Jazz Royale Festival at Sofitel Riverside Hotel, Chiang Mai

Nopniwat Krailerg
The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) will stage the International Jazz Royale Festival to honor HM the King – a world-class musician. It is to be held between December 9-17, 2006 in Bangkok, Pattaya, Chiang Mai, and Phuket. Accomplished performers from around the world will be travelling to Thailand to participate.
Almost 100 musicians will gather to perform. Headliners include Kenny G, the world’s best selling saxophone player, jazz pianist McCoy Tyner, the Trio band, the Regina Carter Quintet, and Dizzy Gillespie’s All Star Big Band (with Paquito D’Rivera and Claudio Roditi). Solo performers Nancy Wilson, Chris Botti, Georgie Fame, Ahmad Jamal, and Marta Topferova complete this standout list of the famous and talented who will share their musical gifts with the audience.
The Jazz Royale Festival is to be staged at Sua Pa Field, Bangkok on December 9-10, Chu Point Hall in Pattaya from December 11 to 12, Chiang Mai University in Chiang Mai from December 14-15, and Karon Beach in Phuket from on December 16-17.
As a major highlight, Kenny G will perform HM the King’s compositions for the first time in his inimitable style. Kenny G will play for 90 minutes, with 50-minute concert durations for the other musicians. The performances will begin at 6pm each night, and continue until midnight.
Surapon Sawetseranee, a marketing communications deputy governor of TAT, remarked that the objective of this festival was to honor HM the King on the occasion of his 60 year’s on the throne in 2006, and 80th birthday in 2007. It was also to encourage tourists from Asia and Europe (and ex-pats living in Thailand) and Thai citizens to come together to celebrate these two historic occasions. TAT plans to make the jazz festival an annual event.
Ticket prices are 2,000 baht in Bangkok, or 1,500 baht at the other locations. You can reserve tickets at the TAT head office, Thai Ticket Master (www.thaiticketmaster.com), TTM Call Center 02-2623456, Central Pattaya Department Store, Central Airport Plaza Chiang Mai, and Central Festival Phuket.
For additional information, contact the call center of TAT at 1672. A percentage of the revenue from the festival will be presented to HM the King. Sponsors include Thai Airways International, TMB Bank, Bangkok Insurance, and TMB Asset Management Company Limited.

Claudio Roditi

Chris Botti

Regina Carter Quintet

Marta Topferova

Nancy Wilson

Georgie Fame

McCoy Tyner

Paquito D'Rivera


Chiang Mai Hotels earn 500 million baht in 2 weeks

By Saksit Meesubkwang
Sangvorn Santisuk, the chairman of the Thai Hotels Association (northern chapter), said that due to the International Horticultural Exposition: Ratchaphruek 2006, hotel businesses in Chiang Mai have earned more than 500 million baht in the last two weeks. Room reservation rates have averaged approximately 80 percent of full capacity, compared to only 50-55 percent last year – an increase of 30 percent.
Of the tourists who stayed in hotels in Chiang Mai since November 1-3, 60 percent were Thai and 25 percent were foreigners. Since the International Horticultural Exposition in Chiang Mai began, many hotels have been full, especially on Saturdays and Sundays. Mostly, tourists prefer to stay in 3 or 4-star hotels.
The Thai Hotels Association predicted the income from hotel reservations in Chiang Mai will be more than 5 billion baht by the end of the Expo. In addition, they believe that in the remaining time of the Expo, the average number of tourists will increase, especially in December 2006 and January 2007.
Vorapong Moochaotai, secretary of the Chiang Mai Tourism Business Association, said that according to predictions of income for the hotel industry since the opening of the Expo, it was believed that between November 1-13, hotel businesses in Chiang Mai received at least 555 million baht from tourists.
In total, throughout the 3 months of the Expo, it is expected that there should be approximately 20 billion baht of income from the International Horticultural Exposition.


Royal Flora 2006 Mascot Collectables in High Demand

Many tourists are interested in buying the expo mascots

By Nopniwat Krailerg
Praparn Prangla-or, owner of the PRT Inter Trade Company, which produces the mascots at the Royal Flora Expo, said that, initially, there were 5 separate mascots on display. However, with the addition of 4 new models, there are now 9 models to collect. They are: Khun (Indian Laburnum), Kulap (Rose), Nari (orchid), Bua (Lotus), Kan Yao (Durian), MangKurt (Mangosteen), Fak Bua (Watering Pot), Chon (Chinese radish) and Ta Thung (Scarecrow). Mascots come in 2 sizes, 7.5 inches and 12.5 inches. It is predicted that 200,000 dolls could be sold.
Narong Tananuwat, president of the Chiang Mai Chamber of Commerce, said that, since the expo started, sales of souvenirs have generated Bt100,000 to Bt200,000 each weekday, and more than Bt200,000 on weekends. It is expected that by the end of January 2007, the income from souvenirs at the Expo could reach Bt20 million.


Chiang Mai to improve existing tourism sites and create new ones

By Preeyanoot Jittawong
Lt. Suwit Yodmanee, the Minister of Tourism and Sports, visited Chiang Mai to learn how tourism management was proceeding at Chiang Mai province. He stressed that faltering areas should be improved while expanding new tourism areas. He also stressed the benefits of careful selection of tourist groups.

Lt. Suwit Yodmanee, Minister of Tourism and Sports

On November 12, Lt. Suwit participated in a conference to learn the Chiang Mai province tourism policy and management structure from Junnapong Saranak, the Director of the Tourism Authority of Thailand’s Northern Office Region 1.
The minister disclosed that the north region’s tourism activities would follow the Thai travel in Thailand policy. In the meantime, old tourism areas that are deteriorating, such as the hot springs, should be improved in order to spread money among local area residents and local communities. If the local tourism destinations improved, residents will be proud of them and they will be better hosts.
New tourism destinations are as important as existing location improvement because Chiang Mai has many beautiful attributes to attract tourists. Several places should be developed as new tourism destinations, without too much concern about the number of visitors this year. In 2007, the government will attempt to attract tourists with more purchasing power. Too many visitors could cause tourism areas to rapidly deteriorate, which would cause the government to spend its budget on improvements.


Students recruited as guides for Mae Hong Son tourism

By Chiangmai Mail Staff Reporters
Wisoot Buachoom, the head of the Mae Hong Son Provincial Tourism Coordination Center, said that the center has organized a training program for students. The program was organized in cooperation with Mae Hong Son Province College of Arts, Media, and Technology (CAMT) of Chiang Mai University, Mae Hong Son Cultural Office, Education Area 1, Mae Hong Son Municipality, Mae Hong Son Non-Formal Education (NFE) Center, and related agencies.
“Mae Hong Son’s Small Guide Training Program” began on November 11 with 60 students, including 50 students from Hongsonsuksa School and 10 students from Tedsaban Muang Mae Hong Son School. The training program is under the guidance of famous lecturers from Chiang Mai and Mae Hong Son, who will use their experience to provide knowledge to trainees.
November is the high tourism season at Mae Hong Son. Numerous numbers of Thai and foreign tourists visit during this time. Attractions include: arts and cultural activities, architectural structures, Tai tribal traditional places, and nature itself. The number of tourists has increased 5 percent each year and should continue to grow.
Last year, 329,580 tourists visited Mae Hong Son (187,060 Thais, 142,520 foreigners) and spent about Bt1.5 million. For the first 9 months (January-September) of 2006, there were 238,963 tourists, an increase of approximately 5.50 percent from 2005. This shows that Mae Hong Son province is becoming an important destination for tourists. Tourism in Mae Hong Son will be sustainable if every agency works together to develop and promote tourism. Young people will also be important personnel for tourism in the future.
“According to our development strategies, Mae Hong Son will be known as the city of tourism, or Mae Hong Son: the Land of Dreams. There were many activities in 2005. In order to achieve their objectives, Mae Hong province assigned CAMT of Chiang Mai University to develop ICT personnel to support e-tourism. These places will be advertised as “must-visit” places, or The Best of Mae Hong Son. There will be arrangements made for bicycle routes, and youths in Mae Hong Son will be volunteer guides to help tourists visit 15 interesting historical and intrinsic places in the province.” Wisoot Buachoom said.


International Day for the Handicapped to be celebrated in Chiang Mai

By Preeyanoot Jittawong
A five day celebration to show gratitude to His Majesty the King for His caring and love for all the disabled in Thailand will be held, including a special appearance by HRH Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn.

Samit Suweera, subcommittee member of Disabled People’s Quality of Life Improvement in Chiang Mai

At a press conference on November 15, Monchai Thesaphaet, editor of the Chiang Mai News, together with Prayad Songkham, director of Special Education Area 8 and Samit Suweera, subcommittee of Disabled People’s Quality of Life Improvement in Chiang Mai said that preparations were underway for “Gratitude to His Majesty the King for His caring and love for all the disabled in Thailand,” which will be held December 1-5 at Sala Angkaew and Rugby Field of Chiang Mai University.
The event will showcase many entertainment activities, and one of the highlights will be the “Run in obedience to HM the King’s teachings” Rally. The winner will receive a special cup from HRH Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn.
Other activities include concerts from famous singers, a product exhibition from disabled people, and a food festival with entries from many famous restaurants in Chiang Mai (special price of 10 baht for disabled persons). There will also be exhibitions from government agencies, foundations, and disabled associations. Of particular interest is a sports competition for all, handicapped or not. Moreover, there will be special-skill performances, intelligence skills, and teaching demonstrations to give disabled people opportunities to perform their skills.


Beware of Falling Space Rocks

By Saksit Meesubkwang
On the night of November 18, Sirindhorn Observatory at Chiang Mai University invited people to observe a meteor shower using their telescopes. About 100 people attended. Doi Inthanon and Doi Suthep were also crowded with people who braved the cold weather to watch the celestial event.
Asst. Prof. Dr. Boonruksa Soonthorntham, director of the National Astronomical Research Institute of Thailand (NARIT) at the Ministry of Science and Technology, said that the Leonid meteors could be seen at night. They are formed by ice and stone that have separated from the Temple-Tuttle comet, which orbits near the Sun every 33 years. Each time it orbits near the Sun, it cracks and loses pieces of its tail, which become asteroids. When the Earth orbits near these asteroids, they are pulled into Earth’s atmosphere by the gravitational field. Upon entering the atmosphere, they are burned and fall to the Earth. This is called a “meteor shower”. This meteor shower, from the Leo asterism, dropped hundreds of meteors per hour. In 1998, the Temple-Tuttle comet approached the Sun, causing 1,000 meteors per hour to fall on us in 2002. Since then, the meteor showers have dropped to less than 100 meteors per hour.
This year, it is expected that there will be 100-150 meteors showering down on us per hour. The meteor showers continued until November 21. On November 19, at 11.45 a.m. in Thailand (4.45 a.m. Universal Time) the amount of meteors were at their peak.


HIV-AIDS cases in Chiang Mai reach an alarming level

By Saksit Meesubkwang
Rathawut Sukmee, an officer of the Chiang Mai Provincial Public Health Office, disclosed that the AIDS situation in Chiang Mai and nearby areas is becoming critical. In the past 9 months, 376 new patients were diagnosed with HIV. The most common cause of infection is from unprotected sex, although there are other causes as well. Most of the infected people are between the ages of 15-39 years old, and are carriers posing a high risk of spreading the disease to others.
Rathwat added that from September 1984 – August 2006, infected people who are 15-29 years old accounted for 101,724 cases, or 34 percent of all HIV-infected people. According to research as recent as 2005, it was found that the AIDS situation has become more severe. 40 percent of Thai teenaged males have sex with women whom they don’t know. Only 35 percent use condoms, leaving the other 65 percent at a high risk of becoming infected. Among 5 million 15-19 year-olds, about 1.3 million are in danger of being infected with AIDS.
Moreover, statistics show that in 2003 there were 10,934 people who were infected with Gonorrhea and other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), but by 2005, the number had increased to 12,235 people. Half of them were teenagers.
According to recent evaluations of juvenile problems, parents do not spend enough time with their children, who spend their time shopping in department stores or chatting on the Internet. This lack of supervision can lead to many problems, including under-aged, unprotected sex.
Since 1988, there have been 20,629 AIDS infected patients, 15,769 of which are still alive. In 2006, there are 376 new patients; 345 were infected by sexual contact, the rest from using illegal drugs, from mother to newborn, and other unknown causes. People aged 25-39 have the highest rate of infection, but 15-25 year-old’s are also in critical condition. A large number of cases have been reported in Mae Ai, Mae Taeng, San Sai, Chiang Dao, Fang, Phrao districts, and Muang Chiang Mai.


Prime Minister concerned about cold weather and the drugs abuse in Mae Hong Son province

Staff Reporters
Direk Konkleep, Mae Hong Son’s Governor, and head officers of governmental organizations consulted with Prime Minister Surayuth Chulanont via video conference about the cold weather and drug problems in the province of Mae Hong Son. The governor reported that Mae Hong Son’s residents need 49,210 blankets and 32,314 sweaters. People in 45 sub-districts of the 7 districts are facing the chilling weather. The province has already requested help from the government and private sector to aid these cold weather victims.
Regarding the drug problem, it was discovered that small groups located opposite Mae Hong Son province have set up 4 or 5 drug production factories. Therefore, police, soldiers, and administrative officers will work together to protect the border, preventing the drugs from entering the province.
In addition, the governor also asked for 20 million baht from the Prime Minister to dredge five creeks and to fix areas damaged by flooding in the Pai district in 2004. He also requested 70 million baht to set up reservoirs in Pai district to prevent future flooding. The province has made these requests before, but has never gotten a favorable response. The Prime Minister promised to look into this issue so that the province could possibly receive the money they need.


Creative Spirits at the Indy Festival

Well-known Comedy Star “Eak” joined the Indy Festival

Staff Reporter
On November 17-18, the Indy Festival was held at the Fine Arts Museum of Chiang Mai University. This alternative gathering was hosted by the Thai Health Promotion Department, Thai Writer’s Network, the Fine Arts Museum of Chiang Mai University, and “To Tell” Bookshop. The goal was to organize new activities for those who do not follow the trends.
This is the 3rd Northern Indy Festival from BooMF (Book Battle, Mind Music and Film Free). Activities were plentiful, including meeting with famous writers, Siawchan Ramphai, Khomsan Nanthachit, and Akewichai. Also showcased was the opening of a paparazzi book, named “Ching Mha Kerd” (competing with a dog to be born).
Student bands and Indy artists gave concert performances. There was a “Book Battle” contested by students from many academies in Chiang Mai. Individual focus groups conducted discussions on music (including a talk on the independent path of music), books, and the film, Chor Ma Kok. Independent filmmakers gathered to discuss their work, and there was even a prize given to an independent film director.
Dozens of booths were on hand selling a variety of products including books, magazines, postcard cds, music, films, handmade crafts, and, of course…food. This event is the largest gathering of Indy lovers in Chiang Mai.