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HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:
Entering into the spirit world

Bazaar Expands

Thai Blind Massage Institute opens

Dusit Resort hosts 14th “Beat of Life F&B Night”

Philatelist’s dream

St Andrews fun at Jesters Fair

Dates that do good, every day!

ATCC seeking sponsorship for auspicious event

ISR congratulates outstanding students

ISR welcomes new staff

ITB Berlin gets a younger brother in Asia

Entering into the spirit world

by Wichan Pradpreung and Eddie Smith

The unseen is the unknown - or is there something unseen to be known at all? What we see for ourselves is the only certainty.

Aside from 9 September (9/9/99) being considered by many to be an auspicious date in time, there was another auspicious day earlier this month. This year, September 2nd was the seventh day of the waning moon according to the Buddhist calendar. At the precise time of 7:00 p.m., a sorcerer’s dance to exorcise evil spirits (soong jao) took place in the area of Moo 6 in Soi Siam Country Club. Many people involved in such rituals were aware of the time and place and gathered according to their beliefs to experience rituals performed by sorcerers.

The conducting of the soong jao ritual is not hard to understand, but may be difficult for some to believe. According to those who believe in this type of sorcery, protective spirits are called to return to the body at a prescribed date and time. The specific day is calculated by sorcerers after consulting their textbook called the 100 Year Life Tables, which lists what days have certain omens for various occasions. The day is different each year and may even vary according to the reader’s interpretation.

Behavioral symptoms begin after one of the spirit angels enters into the believer’s body.

Spirits called include the tiger, monkey, snake and the hermit, as well as gods from India and China. Surprisingly to many, the spirits of the former King from the 5th Dynasty, His Majesty King Phrabat Somdej Phrachulajomklao, as well as King Taksin the Great, are “invited” and highly revered. Both are considered to have the status of angels of great men who passed through the evolving culture, just as Alexander the Great is revered in some other parts of the world for his part in history. Most believers also look to Buddhism for their spirits, and noble monks who have achieved great levels are revered more than angels.

Possessed participants exhibit various behavior during the ritual chants performed by the sorcerer.

The rituals performed during the sorcery require rolled banana leaves, lighted candles and incense. These ingredients are contained in either a common metal water bowl or a traditionally decorated metal bowl that honors all the gods, spirits and angels.

The sorcerer usually arrives close to 9:30 p.m. and the ritual ceremony begins soon after. Accompanied by traditional music, the sorcerer recites ritual chants in the local dialect mixed with other ancient languages used today only by monks.

The great angel spirits and gods are worshiped and praised during the chants, with all attention focused around the water bowl offering. The ritual chants ask for the protective spirits to return to the body for a temporary stay. Once started, the mood immediately changes with everyone’s eyes appearing different than before. Unbelievable things begin to happen; some people go into uncontrollable shakes or cry, some become possessed with the tiger, snake, or monkey spirit and assume the animal’s behavior. Others possess a look of fear or as if in a trance caused from the unknown. The tempo of the music enhances the excitement in the air. Newcomers experience sensations never known before.

Angels and gods walking and eating on this earth with humans are called “Samphawesi”, or the lowest form of gods that must still be involved with humans.

The whole affair is inexpensive, as the normal procedure is to give the sorcerer what ever you can afford, and maybe a few drinks, to show respect and gratitude. Some people have turned into professional sorcerers and can make a living from performing the various rituals associated with animism; however, it is not a profession that will make one wealthy.

Not many dare investigate the facts surrounding this belief, and people able to explain how the belief evolved are hard to find. If someone willing to try to explain its history is found at all, the common response is that the information was verbally passed down by older generations.

The unknown is certainly interesting to investigate, but does anyone dare to obtain the answers? Some who have heard or witnessed the soong jao rituals quietly believe the whole affair is a hoax. Some devout Buddhist followers believe the spirit angels should not be worshiped, while others believe in both sorcery and Buddhist ways. However, Thailand is a tolerant society, and the ritual is allowed as a personal belief. There are no objections from the majority of people who see it as a harmless and interesting ritual from the past that preserves the culture.

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Bazaar Expands

The Pattaya International Ladies Club reports that the Holiday Bazaar this year looks like being an even bigger event than last year. With the knowledge gained from the previous bazaar, this has streamlined the organisation for this year’s event.

Since it is being held on Saturday the 2nd of October, this means that many Mums have kids in tow - consequently, convenor Arlette Cykman of the organising committee, advises that there will be kids’ entertainment plus a colouring competition for the children. Three categories - ages 5-7, 8-10 and 11-13 with prizes for first and second in each age group. There will also be batik painting classes with a competition for the best batik on the day. The categories here will cover the three children’s age groups, plus teenagers 14-19 and adults.

There is also a “Millennium Raffle” with tickets only B 50 each with prizes on offer including return air tickets to Hong Kong or Singapore, two nights stay in suites at luxury hotels in Bangkok, Chiang Mai and Pattaya, green fees at golf clubs and many dinners for two.

Of course, all the proceeds from this raffle and the Holiday Bazaar go to the PILC sponsored charities, this being one of the major fund-raising events for the club.

Pattaya Mail will have more information on the Holiday Bazaar next week, but if you would like more details contact Arlette Cykman on 300 325, Ann-Laure Hill 716 624 or Ffion Mercer 225 359.

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Thai Blind Massage Institute opens

The newest charity project in Pattaya, the Thai Blind Massage Institute was opened on August 28th on the ground floor of the Jomtien Complex Condotel. Just 200 meters from the beach, blind men and women provide excellent, professional massage at the low price of 120 baht per hour. While enjoying their massage, customers will also be helping the blind masseurs/ses and their families. Customers are also invited to enjoy free coffee or tea in the institute’s “cozy corner”.

The Thai Blind Massage Institute has three air-conditioned rooms and one big fan room. Privacy is secured by beautiful, hand-woven cotton curtains, made by handicapped women. The buttons are “home made” out of coconut shells.

The idea to take care of the blind originated from 30-year-old Khun Sayan. Khun Sayan spent 4 years in the monkhood (from 13 to 17 years of age), which instilled within him kindness and social awareness. With this idea in mind, he approached his friend, Mr. Henri, to sponsor the institute, and within 2 months of hard work, 6 units in the Jomtien Complex Condotel were transformed into the institute.

The founder and sponsor of the Thai Blind Massage Institute shown here surrounded by the institute’s blind staff.

The blind have all received thorough training in the North of Thailand (Chiang Mai) and all have certificates showing they have successfully completed at least 300 hours of training. Many also have years of professional experience.

The institute hopes that Pattaya’s residents and tourists will help support this initiative to help the blind.

The excellent grand opening dinner buffet was arranged by Mr. Rachin and his staff from the Balcony Restaurant.

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Dusit Resort hosts 14th “Beat of Life F&B Night”

The Thai Hotel Association Eastern Chapter and TAT Region 3 organized the 14th “Beat of Life Food & Beverage Contest” held at the Dusit Resort Hotel’s Napalai Room on 8 September. Eastern Region bartenders and hotel staff displayed their skills while competing for recognition in their fields of expertise.

The Dance Style of Miss Chadsama Jareunwijitsil from the Montien Hotel - Miss Bartender 1999.

Each year, the competition helps develop the skills of food and beverage professionals, as well as being an entertaining attraction for visitors.

This year, over 1,000 people attended the event, overcrowding the Napalai Room and causing many interested watchers to attempt to gain a view from outside the room. Inside, it was standing room only.

The 1999 contest was the 14th consecutive year the competition has been held and this year’s competition was more extravagant than any before it. Dusit Resort General Manager Chachawan Suphachayanont was instrumental in putting the show together and the expertise provided by competition directors J.S.L. Company and Master of Ceremonies Dr. Aphiwat Watnangkoon created an exciting atmosphere filled with entertainment.

The activities were divided into five categories: the Miss Bartender Contest, the Bartender Skills Contest, Cake Decorating, Table Skirt Decorating, and Vegetable and Fruit Carving. In addition, the audience also selected a Miss Popular Bartender.

The winner of the Bartender Skills competition Miss Suthathip Ruangphakdi from the Montien Hotel displays her championship skills.

Sixteen hotels in Pattaya sent their contestants to compete and 30 people from the business community performed the duties of judging the different contests.

The highlight of the evening, the Miss Bartender Competition, was highly competitive. Miss Chadsama Jareunwijitsil from the Pattaya Montien Hotel, Miss Ratsapha Kan Hong Klang from the Dusit Resort and Miss Sarinya Saekui from the Royal Garden put on unforgettable shows and emerged as the top three contenders.

Miss Chadsama Jareunwijitsil from the Montien Hotel electrified the audience with her perfectly choreographed musical routine. The audience’s reaction was so favorable, in fact, it certainly made the judges job an easy task.

However, Miss Sarinya Saekui from the Royal Garden Hotel gave Miss Chadsama a run for her money with an exciting South Seas dance. Miss Sarinya dressed Hawaiian style with flowers adorning her arms and legs and a crown of flowers on her head. Her performance brought cheers from the audience as she coaxed them with her smiles.

Saen Sukh Mayor Somchai Khunpleum presided over the opening ceremony.

Miss Ratsapha from the Dusit Resort also gave a thrilling performance, and at the end of the night she was tied for second on points with Miss Sarinya from the Royal Garden, which forced a tie-breaking contest.

Miss Sarinya was considered the favorite during the run off competition, but a high leg kick athletically perfected by Miss Sarinya, well appreciated by the male members of the audience and a sure winner in their minds, lost points with the judges. The feat may have been viewed as unfair to the other contestants. Or the judges, understandingly fearing their wives, may have intended to maintain an acceptable code of conduct for the contestants.

When it was over, the audience and judges chose Miss Ratsapha Kan Hong Klang from the Dusit Resort as first runner-up and Miss Sarinya Saekui from the Royal Garden as the second runner-up.

VIPs gather to congratulate the winners.

Miss Chadsama Jareunwijitsil from the Pattaya Montien Hotel was declared the champion. Miss Chadsama and the winner of the Bartender Skills Competition, Miss Suthathip Ruangphakdi, also from the Montien Hotel, will be going on to represent Pattaya at the national level competition in Phuket on 24 October 1999.

The Montien Hotel, taking a good portion of the awards, especially the coveted bartender awards, was declared the overall team champion. The Montien has won the competition seven times now, including last year. This also makes the third time that the Montien has taken a double, winning both top bartender awards.

Other results of the 1999 Beat of Life F&B Competition are:

Table Skirt Decorating

Winners - Mr. Thanet Thapbhumi and Mr. Phaibun Singthong from the Dusit Resort Hotel. 1st Runner-ups - Mr. Prasit Singthong and Mr. Siam Ruangnok from the Mountain Beach Hotel. 2nd Runner-ups - Mr. Direk Phecharangam and Mr. Sutham Sawangtri from the Sigma Resort Hotel.

Cake Decorating

Winner - Mr. Sarod Pandaeng from the Montien Hotel. 1st Runner-up - Mr. Khwanchai Thadsanatharn from the Tropicana Hotel. 2nd Runner-up - Mr. Bounying Ketuma from the Royal Cliff Beach Resort Hotel.

Fruit and Vegetable Carving

Winners - Mr. Anan Rodbhai and Mr. Bancha Obcheuy from the Montien Hotel. 1st Runner-ups - Mrs. Nongnuch Janthakhana and Mrs. Jamnong Phayoung from the Tropicana Hotel. 2nd Runner-ups - Mrs. Nuthong Namsan and Mrs. Diao Plaengrai from the Siam Bay Shore Hotel.

Bartender Skills

Winner - Miss Suthathip Ruangphakdi from the Montien Hotel. 1st Runner-up - Mr. Somsak Wongmahadthai from the Royal Garden Resort. 2nd Runner-up - Mr. Phongsakorn Phophedrasen from the Flipper Lodge.

Miss Popular went to Miss Phimjai Yodnok from the Amari Orchid Hotel.

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Philatelist’s dream

Postage stamp exhibition held at Big C to honor His Majesty the King’s Sixth Cycle birthday

The Chonburi Postal Communications Office from Region 2 held a postage stamp exhibition at Big C from 16-21 September to honor His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej’s upcoming 72nd birthday.

The first stamps in Thailand, printed in 1883, commemorated His Majesty King Chulalongkorn.

Four sets of new stamps honoring His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej’s 6th cycle birthday were on display, as well as replicas of the British “Black Penny” stamp, said to be the world’s first postage stamp, and replicas of the first postage stamps to be used in Thailand.

The British “Black Penny” stamp was designed by Sir Roland Hill and was first printed in England on May 6, 1840. The stamp was printed in black and white and had an image of Her Majesty Queen Victoria.

Stamps commemorating His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej entering the Sixth Cycle in Life were designed by Mr. Thawiphorn Thongkhambai.

The first postal enterprise in Thailand was established on 4 August 1880 under the reign of King Chulalongkorn. His Majesty had made many visits to foreign countries and introduced modern ideas into Thai society. Three years later, the first Thai stamps were printed by Waterlow and Sons Ltd. in England. The first stamps had six different values, called “soolod”, meaning the 16 tiers of the Brahman Heaven.

Stamps from Thailand, India, China, France, Italy, England and Brazil were on display at Big C, as well as many rare and priceless stamps. An exhibition of the development of the Thai Postal Service from its inception to present times was also set up.

The British “Black Penny” stamp, printed in 1840, commemorated Her Majesty Queen Victoria.

The four sets of new stamps commemorating HM the King’s 6th cycle birthday were designed by Mr. Thawiphorn Thongkhambai and printed in Switzerland by Helio Chovoisier. The first two sets of stamps have been available since 10 September. The next two sets will become available in October.

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St Andrews fun at Jesters Fair

Those who attended the Jesters Children’s Fair at the Royal Cliff Beach Resort will agree that the whole day was a grand success. The day not only helped to raise money for the Fountain of Life children, but also helped to lift the children’s spirits and put a smile on all faces.

Young artists going for the top prize in the St Andrews International School Kids’ Corner Colouring Competition t the Jesters Children's Fair.

Some very talented artists also came along to the St Andrews International School tent to enter the Kids’ Corner Colouring Competition. Congratulations to the winners below:

5 years and under: 1st: Jessica. 2nd: Chrissy Jennings. 3rd: Stephen Hamilton.

6-8 years old: 1st: Guy. 2nd: Cristopher Nordin. 3rd: Gop.

9-12 years old: 1st: Tawan. 2nd: Wannee (Lek). 3rd: Napapon Atisan.

St Andrews will contact all winners by telephone and invite them to come to St Andrews International School to collect their prize. Below are the telephone numbers and address of St Andrews School. Please feel free to contact St Andrews at any time with regard to the competition.

Phone: (038) 893 716-9. Fax: (038) 893 720. Address: Rayong Green Valley Estate, 23 Moo 7, Banchang-Makham Road (Route 3376), Rayong, 21330.

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Dates that do good, every day!

Did you know that for only 200 Baht you can help some underprivileged children have a better life for twelve whole months?

What is more, the 200 Baht gives you the ability to plan your appointments days or even months ahead. If that is not enough, for your 200 Baht you also get a set of beautiful paintings faithfully reproduced in colour, to hang on the wall as art. The money will also get you excellent, inexpensive, really Thai gifts to send to people overseas. The queue forms here!

Your opportunity to assist the various projects for needy children comes through the Jomtien-Pattaya Rotary Club, who commissioned a very special millennium calendar, the sales of which will go towards funding their charity projects during the year 2000.

The calendar features watercolour paintings done by local school children in Loei, fast becoming known as the artistic centre of provincial Thailand. Several outlets have been happy to handle these prestigious quality calendars, so next time you are out ask for a calendar. You are buying something of excellent value and helping the needy at the same time. A true win-win situation.

The calendars are for sale at SE-ED Book Centre at Lotus, the two Bookazine outlets at Royal Garden Plaza, Thai Wittaya stationers 88/8-9 Pattaya-Naklua Road and Sophon Karnka liquor outlet, near the Thai Farmers Bank also on the Pattaya-Naklua Road.

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ATCC seeking sponsorship for auspicious event

from HE William Fisher, Australian Ambassador to Thailand

This is a very special year for all Thais as His Majesty the King celebrates his 72nd (6th cycle) birthday, which here in Thailand is a very auspicious occasion indeed.

The Australian Embassy in Bangkok has had the honour of being invited to hold a special performance in celebration of this occasion. This is a great opportunity to strengthen links between the two countries. Several ideas have been discussed as to the most effective way to honour the King, and promote Australia at the same time, as a cultural and business partner of Thailand.

As His Majesty is an avid follower of the arts, the ATCC is proposing a performance that will be choreographed by the highly acclaimed Australian events management company “ShowStopper”. The show would involve a visual and audio feast of onstage acrobatics choreographed to contemporary music, to be held at the Thailand Cultural Centre in February 2000.

The Australian Embassy is seeking major sponsorships for this significant and prestigious event, which will be the gift of the Australian people to His Majesty the King. ATCC is looking for support to the amount of AUD 12,000 by at least six major sponsors (although any participation would of course be well received).

ATCC is confident that in a year of such importance for the Thai people, your name as a sponsor would gain your company great respect and recognition here in Thailand.

Please call ATCC Public Affairs manager, Jay Tapley, Ph 287-2680 ext 4511 if you could assist, or if you wish to obtain further information on the possibility of sponsorship.

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ISR congratulates outstanding students

The International School of the Regents (ISR), Pattaya received its IGCSE results recently and was able to announce that 22 students attained grades A-C in five or more subjects, which is the Mattayom 6 equivalent.

Dragana Obradovic

Two students in particular performed outstandingly well. Dragana Obradovic recorded 5A*s, 1A and 2Bs whilst Rozita Namia recorded 1A*, 7As and 1B. Both students also passed the Cambridge Information Technology Certificate.

Dragana’s academic achievements were already recognised at ISR when she was presented with the Dux Scholaris award on Speech Day two years in succession. Dragana, an ISR student of five years’ standing, will continue her studies in the UK where she hopes to go on to read Applied Science at university.

Rozita Namia

Earlier this year Rozita was nominated for the ECIS (European Council of International Schools) Award for international understanding. The award was offered to a bilingual student who had contributed the most international harmony during the school year. Rozita, fluent in English and Greek (also an A* in French!) and president of ISR’s Student Guild was a worthy winner. Rozita has returned to the UK with her family and has won a scholarship to Fettes College in Edinburgh which counts Tony Blair among its alumni.

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ISR welcomes new staff

The International School of the Regents welcomed many teachers to its staff at the beginning of this school year.

ISR's new staff gather together at the start of the new school year.

The 22 new teaching staff joining ISR are the result of a recruitment drive held in England earlier this year. An expanded music programme, together with a pioneering programme in Outdoor Education and Community Service has meant an increased number of staff for the School. While teachers are predominantly from Britain or Australia, many have come from international schools in countries around the world, including Brunei, Singapore, South Africa, Kuwait and Spain.

The welcome programme included a visit and presentation by Khun Preeda Phonsitakvises, providing an interesting start to the year and an insight into Thai culture for the staff - both returning staff and those new to Thailand.

Mrs. Barbara Deveney, Head f Primary at ISR, received expert guidance from Khun Preeda when she chose some pieces of blue and white porcelain.

Khun Preeda’s passion for traditional Thai houses is well known and has led him to build a beautiful house in Bangkok which is open to the public for visits by request. The house is actually composed of 3 Thai houses that were taken apart, moved, and reassembled in Bangkok. The result is a tribute to traditional Thai building and a showcase for his collection of Thai antiques. ISR staff were also treated to a display of blue and white porcelain which is produced at Khun Preeda’s factory in Nakorn Pathom.

With staff drawn from such a rich diversity of backgrounds and English speaking countries around the world, ISR has a truly great team to take the school onwards into the next millennium.

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ITB Berlin gets a younger brother in Asia

by Imtiaz Muqbil, Executive Editor,
Travel Impact Newswire

A new travel show was born in Asia on September 1. So, how did it go?

Asia’s newest travel trade show was born on 1 September, the product of a union between global exhibition organisers Miller Freeman and ITB Berlin organisers Messe Berlin. A total of 230 registered buyers and 333 sellers became the inaugural participants in the Hong Kong based International Tourism Asia (ITA), the first younger sibling of its much better known 33-year-old senior, ITB Berlin.

In many ways, the organisers were lucky. As the two-year economic crisis eases, outbound travel from the Asia-Pacific region is rising again, with intra-regional travel becoming particularly popular. Space was selling at US$395 for a ‘raw’ area of 20 sq. m, with a 10% discount for those who had registered before the end of 1998. That more space could still have been sold was pretty obvious. Still, the roomier atmosphere was a blessing for many trade-show veterans tired of fighting crowds or navigating narrow, colourless aisles at other travel shows.

The 2.5-day event turned out to be a bit too long given the rather small number of sellers. But Miller Freeman is optimistic that having produced a well-organised show this year, there will be a ‘’substantial increase’’ in the number of sellers next year. Said Bob James, marketing chief of the Central Group of Hotels, Thailand, ‘’They’ve got too much invested in this show, not only the organisers but these other groupings like the World Tourism Organisation and World Travel & Tourism Council (which ‘endorsed’ the show). They’re not going to let it die.’’

This message was reinforced by another show endorser, the Universal Federation of Travel Agents Association whose secretary-general Birger Backman said, ‘’UFTAA is very pleased with what we have seen. We will definitely be back next year.’’ Added Brian Deeson, CEO of Century Hotels, Hong Kong, ‘’These events take at least three/four years to make it.’’

By and large, response from the sellers was mixed but leaning towards positive. In a range of interviews, words like ‘’cost-effective’’ and ‘’value for money’’ rang out, especially as many of the sellers had been wooed with discounts. Virtually all the Asia-Pacific sellers interviewed for this report said they would be back next year and indeed were taking advantage of the 10% discount being offered by the organisers to sign up.

Perhaps the biggest blessing was that the ITA is a show, not a mart. Just like the ITB Berlin, there were no structured appointments, though a special appointment-scheduling session was organised on the first day for those who still had time to spare. Many expressed relief at being freed from the 15-20 minutes time restriction at travel marts. “No sooner that you finish explaining your product that the buyer has to move on,’’ said one seller. ‘’You then have to follow-up the conversation at cocktail parties or dinners, which is a bit unwieldy.’’

Several sellers at the ITA said they would like to see the ITA format adopted at other regional and domestic travel marts, balanced between structured appointments and free days for walk-in and other buyers to make their rounds. Most of them were ambivalent about the quality of the buyers. Invariably, those who had done their homework and sought the business, scored. Those who waited for the business to come to them were disappointed.

Estela Quiambao, Chief, Northeast Asia Division of the Philippines Convention & Visitors Corporation said some of the Philippines sellers had indicated a desire to better design the booth in 2000 to allow more privacy in discussions. Penang State Executive Councillor in charge of tourism Madam Kee Phaik Cheen said she had developed good leads and much would depend on her own initiative to follow them up.

From sellers outside the Asia-Pacific, the reaction was mixed. Willem Coremans of IEE Destination Developers, South Africa, said he was pleased with the show and would be back in 2000 to tap the outbound Asian market. But Vlado Tance of the Mediterranean Operators Association indicated the show had proved to be a disappointment. Asked if he would be back next year, Mr Tance said, ‘’We’ll see.’’

Perhaps the biggest oversight noted was the paucity of Japanese and Korean buyers, even though the buyers list showed four from Japan and only two from Korea. Many of the 34 Chinese buyers who had been invited became conspicuous for their no-shows. The other buyers included 33 from Hong Kong, 28 from India, 14 from Taiwan and a total of 56 from Thailand, Singapore, Philippines and Malaysia. Altogether, buyers from 34 countries were on the list.

The September timing of the show, the source of some initial muttering, clearly proved to be no problem. In the age of the Internet, the timing of shows is clearly becoming less important than the seasonality of travel which varies from country from country. One seller said timings eventually will become less important than the quality of participation. ‘’With everybody putting their brochures on the Net, the faster they get new products out, the better,’’ he said.

Strategically, Miller Freeman is bending backwards to position the ITA as an Asia-Pacific show, and not a showcase for Hong Kong. MF’s Asia Director Michael Duck insisted that was one of the most important features of the ITA. The former British colony had been chosen because it came out tops in survey responses as the best venue for the ITA. ‘’This is not a Hong Kong event,’’ he stressed at the final media conference. ‘’This is a show for the Asia-Pacific.’’

He emphasised that ‘’unlike other trade shows,’’ the event had received no extraordinary support from the Hong Kong Tourist Association and that show organisers had gone a long stretch to ensure that the HKTA did not get ‘’covered in glory’’ by having the event in Hong Kong. Needless to say, Hong Kong-based airline Cathay Pacific was one of the major sponsors and threw a lot of weight behind the ITA.

Miller Freeman is clearly seeking to signal to other regional groupings like the Singapore Tourism Board (which was conspicuous by its absence at the ITA) that even if it is a major supporter of the PATA Mart (which is based in Singapore), it can still participate in the ITA. The ITA is also seeking to distance itself from the other trade show, the International Travel Exhibition (ITE), held in Hong Kong every June and rapidly gaining a reputation for showcasing Hong Kong and China due to the overwhelmingly large number of sellers from these two places.

The Asia-Pacific travel trade show battle is now on between the exhibition elephants Messe Berlin / Miller Freeman and Reed Travel Exhibitions, organisers of that other Asia-Pacific event, the PATA Travel Mart. Reed also organises the annual World Travel Mart in London, a quasi-competitor of ITB. The PATA Mart is organised by Reed for the Pacific Asia Travel Association. Seen scouting the ITA was Reed’s Jackson Loy, Project Director for the PATA Mart. Interviewed later, Loy found little to fault with the ITA, except saying that it was possible that Miller Freeman/Messe Berlin had probably not been able to raise the numbers originally targeted.

Loy insisted that Reed would not discount prices to attract sellers to the PATA Mart. By the time of the PATA mart in April 2000, Asian buyers are forecast to be back in strength and a greater representation is anticipated from South Asian and Middle East buyers. Reed is also going to be experimenting with Internet appointments for the World Travel Mart this year and if that works well, it will be tried out for the PATA Mart 2000.

Loy said the quality of the PATA Mart would also be upgraded with a focus on the MICE market in the attached travel seminars. This will involve a tie-up with MeetingsNet Asia, which is under the Association of Asian Convention and Visitors Bureau.

One thing that has changed is the publisher of the daily newspaper at the PATA Mart. In addition to running exhibitions, Miller Freeman also publishes TTG Asia and other regional travel titles. It has published the ‘official’ dailies at the PATA Mart for several years but lost the rights for the PATA Mart 2000. The contract is set to go to TTG Asia’s rival publication, a Malaysian-owned group known to have limped through the Asian crisis.

Meanwhile, the other bacon in the sandwich of exploding global travel shows is the ASEAN Tourism Forum. The big question: How will it maintain its edge, at least in terms of attracting buyers? The ATF 2000 is in Bangkok in January 2000 and has space for 490 seller booths, of which about 10% had been sold by September. The Tourism Authority of Thailand has plugged into a database of several thousand buyers nominated by ASEAN national tourism organisations and hopes to have an equal number of buyers and sellers. With the situation in Indonesia still panning out at the time of writing, meeting that ratio is going to be pretty much a last-minute rush.

All told, there was widespread back-thumping among the organisers of the ITA that it had made a good beginning. In a classic chicken-vs-egg situation, many sellers had waited to see whether it would produce the goods. Now that the baby has been born, the proud parents are hoping that the first birthday next year will truly be a big bash. And just to help it along, space rates have been frozen, with the same 10% early bird discount for bookings before 31 December 1999.

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Copyright 1999 Pattaya Mail Publishing Co.Ltd.
370/7-8 Pattaya Second Road, Pattaya City, Chonburi 20260, Thailand 
Tel.66-38 411 240-1, 413 240-1, Fax:66-38 427 596; e-mail: [email protected]
Updated by Chinnaporn Sangwanlek.