Roundup of Thailand news with AJW

Written by editor


BKK Weather 32C; Hot, cloudy, rain; Euro:US 1.2930, Euro:Baht 39.97, SET Index: 1287



BKK Weather 32C; Hot, cloudy, rain; Euro:US 1.2930, Euro:Baht 39.97, SET Index: 1287


Thaksin – no charter change for foreseeable future. Fallout of red-yellow clash – little reconciliation. Red Bull family pays victim family.


World – Tough Obama UN speech opposes Iran nukes, says diplomacy has time limit. China launches first aircraft carrier. Taiwan ships home in on disputed islands.


-QANTAS CROC SHOCK: A crocodile was found roaming free in the cargo hold of a Qantas plane recently, the airline has confirmed.

The reptile was being transferred from Brisbane to Melbourne, but managed to escape from its container during the two-hour journey.

It was discovered by baggage handlers who were unloading passengers’ luggage after the plane landed in Melbourne.

-CHIANG MAI MICE: TCEB Board member and Acting President, Thongchai Sridama, said recently that proposals for Chiang Mai have gained approval from the Cabinet for a year-long campaign.

The main emphasis will be supporting the city’s brand new convention center, due to soft open next month for a trial period to bring facilities and services up to scratch.

Apart from declaring 2013 year of MICE, the city has done little to firm up events or promote the convention centre overseas, possibly because of numerous construction delays that beset the project from the beginning.

But an effort to kick-start the campaign is now under way as TCEB and the Tourism Authority of Thailand join hands with tourism and business associations to organize a brainstorming “MICE summit” this November.

The summit will look at ways to promote the province’s MICE industry in the lead-up to the official opening of the Chiang Mai International Convention and Exhibition Centre (cMICE-c) possibly in April 2013.

-73RD SKAL WORLD CONGRESS: Seoul will be serving up the very best of traditional Korean and international cuisine as part of the regular Skal “Dine Around” event during next month’s 73rd Skal World Congress. This year’s Dine Around, designed as a night out on the town, will give visiting delegates the options to try a royal Korean banquet, Buddhist temple cuisine, signature Italian favorites, and more in the city’s popular Insa-dong cultural district.

The annual congress, set for October 2-7, will bring to Seoul several hundred top travel industry professionals from across the globe, including hotel managers, CEOs of travel agencies, and tourism and convention bureau heads, among others. The event will take place at two of Seoul’s major hotels, the Grand Hyatt and the Hilton.

-IBIS MAKEOVER: A Sweet Bed, new uniforms, and new signage are included in the makeover of Accor’s economy hotel brand, Ibis.

Down the track, new lobby and restaurant designs will be part of the radical overhaul.

Ibis will become a triple-tier brand adding Ibis Budget (from the current Formule 1 brand) and Ibis Styles (from the former All Seasons brand) to the existing Ibis hotel network.

Following the re-brand of the hotels, Ibis will grow to more than 70 hotels in Australia and 1600 worldwide, making it the largest global economy hotel.

All existing and new Ibis hotels will get new signage by the end of the year, while Ibis Hotels and Ibis Budget will introduce the Sweet Bed over the next 6 months.

The Sweet Bed being introduced into Ibis Hotels features a 7cm topper, which in the past would normally be associated with a luxury brand.

Changes to the brand followed a recent survey that showed that some 70 percent of guests ranked comfortable beds as “the single most important factor when they choose an economy hotel.”

-BLACKBERRY: Research In Motion Ltd. (RIM) plans to release its new BlackBerry 10 (BB10) smartphone lineup on 6 continents in the first quarter, seeking to capitalize on the company’s lingering strength in overseas markets.

RIM is counting on overseas customers to offset shrinking demand in North America where the BlackBerry has lost ground to Apple iPhone and Google’s Android operating system. Even with analyst’s forecasting a 45 percent decline in RIM’s sales this fiscal year, the company says its installed base of customers continues to grow. The BlackBerry now has 80 million subscribers.

RIM’s shares climbed 4.6 percent to US$6.60 at 1:26 pm in NY. The stock, down 57 percent this year through yesterday, rose as much as 5.5 percent earlier in the day.

RIM’s share of the global smartphone market, which it once dominated, tumbled to 4.8 percent in the second quarter from 12 percent a year earlier, according to research firm IDC. RIM, based in Waterloo, Ontario, reports its latest quarterly results in 2 days.

Analysts say that their biggest concern is that BB10 doesn’t have the support of developers who build the news, games and music applications that have helped drive the success of the iPhone and Android.

-GREATER MEKONG SUBREGION: Thailand has stamped itself as the tourism hub for the GMS. In the first quarter of this year, there were 463,468 visitors from the four GMS countries of Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia, and Myanmar, up 18.48 percent compared with the first quarter of last year. Thailand now leads in promoting cross-border tourism and raising the GMS as a single tourist destination, as evidenced by roughly 350 delegates from the six GMS member countries coming to Thailand to attend the Mekong Tourism Forum in June.

The area is geopolitically important. It is in the middle of the region stretching from Northeast Asia to South Asia and links to the Indian Ocean, inner China and the East China Sea. It offers a land-corridor alternative to the sea lane through the Strait of Malacca, providing China with direct access to the Indian Ocean.

Although poverty still looms, the region has high development potential, with a total population of about 314 million. Furthering the hope of progress, an integrated strategy of development – the formation of the Asean Economic Community – is anticipated by 2015. In preparation, a strategic framework is being created involving infrastructure developments and the development of economic trade zones in the region.

Thus the technical and financial aid from Thailand has contributed significantly to the growth of the GMS, which helps the positioning of Thailand at a time when global investors are paying more attention to the growth potential of the Mekong region.

-FORMULA 1 BKK: It would not be easy to host a Formula One race in Bangkok and it may need a public hearing, officials said yesterday.

Sports Authority of Thailand governor Kanokphand Chulakasem met Formula One supremo Bernie Ecclestone during the Singapore Grand Prix at the weekend.

According to Tourism and Sports Minister Chumpol Silpa-archa, Ecclestone has agreed for Thailand to host a race in 2014. He said it would be a night race and that Ecclestone wanted it to take place in Bangkok.

The government would shoulder 60 percent of the total cost and the rest would be paid by private companies such as Red Bull and Singha, he said. However, further talks are needed to finalize details, officials said.

-NO KIDS: Hoping to target honeymooners and romance vacationers, the tourism industry in Asia is implementing more adults-only features.

The Akyra Chura Samui hotel will ban children under the age of 12 from November 1 due to increasing demand by vacationers for more private, couples-oriented holidays. The hotel is the second resort in Thailand to accept bookings only for adults.

Meanwhile, another hotel in Asia is also implementing an adults-only feature in its property. French resort chain Club Med, which recently unveiled a series of renovations to its Malaysian property, Cherating Beach Resort, will have a “Zen Space” with a quiet pool that is strictly off-limits to children.

In July this year, Malaysia Airlines also issued an advisory to travel agents restricting children from the upper deck of its super-jumbo aircraft flying between Kuala Lumpur and London as well as Sydney to Kuala Lumpur, citing the reason that the upstairs economy seats were only available to business travelers.

Adults-only resorts are increasingly popular in other parts of the world, in particular the Caribbean islands, according to ABC News in July, the decision to impose a ban on kids brought about a surge in hotel occupancy rates.

-THAI CHINESE WEDDINGS: Cha-am, Phetchaburi: A total of 160 couples from China are to tie the knot in the first such joint mass ceremony to be held in the Thai beach resort of Cha-am on October 10.

The couples are the first batch of 999 couples who have signed up for 5-day, 4-night packages to get married and enjoy a memorable honeymoon in Thailand. All the ceremonies will be held between now and 2013.

Chinese visitors to Thailand totaled 1,721,247 in 2011, up 53.38 percent over 2010. China is now the largest visitor source-market for Thailand. In January–August 2012 Chinese visitors totaled 1,685,896, up by 35.38 percent over the same period of 2011.

-FREE TOURIST WI-FI – UPDATE: Both local and foreign tourists in Thailand will soon be able to access free WiFi at more than 1,600 hotspots in tourist destinations nationwide.

The Ministry of Tourism and Sports and the The Ministry of Information and Communication Technology of Thailand (ICT) signed a MOU last week to allow TOT and CAT Telecom to install hi-speed Internet at 1,615 hotspots in major tourist attractions across the country.

The project is a part of Smart Thailand campaign, and aligns with the government’s strategy to promote the economy via tourism.

“This move is to support the government’s policy on tourism that targets two trillion (US$64.6 billion) in annual tourism revenue by 2015,” said ICT Minister Gp Capt. Anudith Nakornthap.

Of the 1,615 hotspots, there will be 253 routers for Bangkok, 446 in the Central region, 201 in the Eastern region, 323 in the Southern region, 325 in the Northern region, and another 67 in the Northeastern region.

The free WiFi is not only to drive the economy but also to achieve the ICT’s goal of providing hi-speed Internet to 80 percent of Thai households by 2015, the ICT Minister said.

About the author


Editor in chief for eTurboNew is Linda Hohnholz. She is based in the eTN HQ in Honolulu, Hawaii.