Veerachai Somchart and Chakrapong Akkaranant
The “Thailand Travel Mart 2001” opened with a gala ceremony at the Royal Cliff Beach Resort on September 17, but many of the participants from outside Asia were forced to cancel.
Somsak Thepsutin, Minister to the Prime Minister’s Office in charge of tourism, turned the key to officially open the Thailand Travel Mart 2001.
The terrorist act against the United States and the temporary delay in international flights significantly reduced the number of participants from the U.S., Canada, Japan, New Zealand and Australia. However, increased representation from Japan, Romania and Turkey helped bring up the numbers. The event was held at the Pattaya Exhibition and Convention Hall (PEACH) from September 17-20.
Somsak Thepsutin, Minister to the Prime Minister’s Office in charge of tourism, presided over the opening ceremony, which included a “Pattaya Carnival Night”.
Minister Somsak said the preparations for the TTM began long before the shocking tragedy in America, and representatives from over 200 businesses in 48 countries registered for the event.
Mrs. Juthamas Siriwan, the deputy governor of the Tourist Authority of Thailand (marketing division), at a news conference on September 17 said that following the terrorist act in America the unavailability of flights from two main U.S. carriers affected the number of participants traveling to Thailand from Japan.
Although Thai Airlines International increased its flights to and from Osaka, the U.S. flights would have been stopping in Japan and picking up passengers, some destined for TTM. Mrs. Juthamas also said this could extend beyond the TTM, as the increased flights to Osaka would be insufficient for the number of tourists anticipated coming to Thailand through to the end of this year.
Mrs. Juthamas also expressed her grief over the tragedy, “Certainly, these are sad times for us all. The very tragic developments in the United States are clearly going to have a major impact on the global tourism industry. The Thai tourism industry would like to send condolences to the bereaved families of the victims and express sorrow to the people of the United States.”
Panga Vathanakul, managing director of the Royal Cliff Beach Resort, said that tourism in Pattaya would bounce back. She said the city is becoming a favored destination for conferences, and that eventually the domestic economic situation would also be restored. “The signs are already there that Pattaya is ready to experience a ‘renaissance’ of sorts. In fact, it is quite clear that this ‘renaissance’ has already begun,” she said.
Andrew Wood, general manager of the Royal Cliff Beach Resort, said that the overall outlook for Pattaya’s tourism is very good. “The simple fact that the Tourism Authority of Thailand has chosen Pattaya to showcase Thailand to the world speaks volumes for the tourism and MICE (meetings, incentives, conventions and exhibitions) infrastructure already in place here,” he said and added, “In effect, a ‘low season’ is being eliminated from Pattaya’s tourism climate.”
Urge mayor to approach MOI on their behalf
Pattaya’s entertainment business coalition, which now has 3 groups of advocates, has written yet another letter to the Minister of Interior asking for him to give Pattaya special status.
The letter outlines what the businessmen are calling, “the associated problems caused by the continuing crackdown,” and goes on to explain their “desire for a conference with the Minister of Interior to define the extent of problems negatively affecting business in Pattaya.”
The coalition’s newest member, the karaoke committee chaired by Adeesak Suttipitak, joins with the entertainment business committee chaired by Preecha Sanguansak and the beer bar committee chaired by Samphan Cholrahan.
Mayor Pairat Suttithamrongsawat told the coalition that he agrees an exception should be allowed because Pattaya is unlike other tourist locales around Thailand and TAT statistics support the need for change.
The mayor cited statistics showing how tourism was improving and how it brought in 37 billion baht in revenue for the year.
The mayor said that the MOI’s current policy to implement social change is not suited for every location around the country and, “should maintain appropriate exceptions adaptable to each area’s specific situation and makeup.” He also added that each area should be researched to assess the pros and cons associated with implementing drastic change, rather than applying the same regulations to every locale around the country.
The mayor also reiterated it is necessary to await the official implementation of zoning in Pattaya, and he said the MOI should be assessing the situation in Pattaya as a first priority, due to the city’s dependence on night-time entertainment for its survival.
Mayor Pairat said he would probably be accompanying a group of 7-10 representatives of the entertainment business community in Pattaya and speaking on their behalf during a meeting with the Minister of Interior in the near future.
PM can’t make it, Minister of S, T & E out of town
Mayor Pairat Suttithamrongsawat announced that the official opening of the city’s wastewater plant will be delayed. The announcement came after the mayor received notice that the prime minister would not be attending the ceremony.
City fathers hoped that the prime minister would preside over the opening ceremony on September 17th during the “Thailand Travel Mart 2001”. But the prime minister’s office delegated the honor to the Minister of Science, Technology and Environment, Sonthaya Khunpluem, but he is in Brunei on business.
The official opening has been postponed until such time the office of the prime minister informs Pattaya when Thaksin Shinawatra will be available. City leaders are waiting for a response and consider his presence at the opening ceremony as a huge plus for Pattaya’s public relations scheme. Foreign diplomats would also be invited if Mr. Thaksin agrees to preside over the ceremony.
The Indian Community of Pattaya held a day of prayer on Sunday the 16th of September for the people who lost their lives in last week’s attack on the World Trade Center in New York, the Pentagon in Washington DC and the ill-fated airliner in Pennsylvania. The ceremonies were held at the Sikh Gurudwara (Temple) on Soi 17. The Indian community joins the freedom loving peoples of the world in condemning such brutal and senseless attacks on innocent people and pray that the human race never again be inflicted with so much pain and suffering.
Employment center, access to new buses needed
Sutham Mongkolsawad, the headmaster of the Pattaya Redemptorist Vocational School, met with the city mayor, Pairat Suttithamrongsawat on September 10 to request assistance in providing support and conveniences the disabled around Pattaya.
Sutham Mongkolsawad met with Mayor Pairat Suttithamrongsawat and requested he help upgrade facilities for the disabled.
The number of disabled people living in Pattaya is increasing and there is now a need to establish an employment center to arrange suitable work for people with physical disabilities. Sutham presented the mayor with a design for a 2-story building which would have an estimated cost of 3-million baht, and asked the mayor to review the design and submit it to the Chonburi provincial administrative organization for budgeting.
The mayor agreed to support the plan, present it to the city council and request further support before submission to the Chonburi PAO.
Sutham also requested the recently proposed mini-bus service, which may start operating in Pattaya by the end of the year, be required to incorporate accommodations for people with physical disabilities. The new constitution includes provisions for affording public conveniences for handicapped people, and Sutham pointed out how Singapore incorporates similar conveniences and gives special attention to the needs of people with physical disabilities.
Mayor Pairat agreed to the idea and said he would have letters outlining the requirements sent off to the Amornphant Motor Company Ltd. to have the appropriate number of buses in the final plan suitably equipped. He said the idea would also benefit tourists with physical disabilities visiting Pattaya.
Lastly, Sutham asked the mayor to assist in preparations for this November’s visit by representatives from the Social Welfare Commission led by Kanchana Sinlapacha. The visit includes contacting all provincial agencies associated with providing assistance to the disabled.
“An Opinion” by Howard Reed
It was the second weekend in September in America. A time for college and pro football, pennant races headed towards the finish line in baseball, pre season hockey; but this weekend was different. It was like no other in our history. Those traditions are gone, replaced by tears, sorrow, anger and resolve. It was a different Fall Saturday because a group of hypocritical cowards committed suicidal attacks on the East Coast of America. Despite the self serving remarks of Senator Clinton, “New York is NOT America,” it and Washington are a part of the country, though they are not the alpha and omega. These terrorist attacks hit the USA but there should be no mistake that these attacks were against men and women who love freedom regardless of where they live. Or work. When the books have been closed, peoples of more then 35 countries will have lost their lives in the actions at the World Trade Center. The German loss may reach 500, India 300 and the UK 100. It was much more than an attack against America. It was an attack against the free rational world.
“They spent the night before drinking in a strip club in Florida. Tomorrow they will be martyrs and heroes.” They were wrong. The terrorists have been branded as the cowards they are wherever Freedom Loving people gather. The martyrs and heroes are the men and women of freedom from all countries that have stood up to their despicable acts. The heroes are the fireman and police of New York City and Washington DC, the passengers of the flight that never reached its target while crashing in a field in Pennsylvania, the men and women of the world that will hold them accountable. The police of Germany, Netherlands, Cayman Islands and England have shown courage in arresting those that may be linked to the attack. Religions are going to have to rid their houses of those that commit acts of atrocities in their name. If they don’t, others will volunteer for the job.
It’s not just America that has and will answer the call. Our oldest and dearest ally England answered the call before it came. The Queen ordered, for the first time in history, the American National Anthem was to be played during the changing of the guard at the Palace. The next day she led 10,000 of her citizens, 2,000 in the church and 8,000 outside, in a prayer service at St. Peter and Paul’s Cathedral. Our neighbor to the north, Canada, sent dog boots for the animals digging in the ruble of the Twin Towers. We received kind words and thoughts from throughout the world. Like those in the Kingdom that read the Herald-Tribune, we actually believed that everybody hated us. Imagine our surprise and joy.
In all the horror and tragedy there have been a few lighter moments. In other times some actions would have caused a downright belly laugh. The secretary-general of the Arab League, speaking on their behalf said, “We stand behind the United States of American. We want them to consult with us before they take any action.” To call up the old Buddy Holly tune of the 50’s, “That’ll Be the Day”. America’s great friend Sadam Hussein has chipped in with advice to the: “Great Satan.” “It’s time for common sense. We hope that America will not resort to violence.” Advice on “Common Sense” coming from the Butcher of Baghdad.
The response to these acts will not be the “bombing of an aspirin factory” as a distraction for the public and press from what’s really important. This won’t be some phony “Declaration of War” against terrorism that is nothing more than useless rhetoric and ego building for a flawed character. The American Government is run by serious grownups not spineless morally corrupt cowardly children playing at government. There can be no doubt that the people in charge are going to do exactly what they say they will. Many have been there before in the planning and execution of the Gulf War, which regardless of what mindless critics have said did what it said it would do. “We’re going to find the enemy and cut the head off. Then we’re going to kill it.” They will decide what is best to do. Then they’ll do it. Operation Noble Eagle has a goal. “We are going to wipe out terrorism wherever it’s found. It will continue until that goal is achieved. We will prevail.” To the religion that teaches that to “kill and die” in the name of their cause is to go to heaven, it will prove that hell is a more likely resting place. It will give countries throughout the world an opportunity to either help or... Or what? Or get the hell out of the way cause the men and women of freedom are on the way.
Updated every Friday
Chinnaporn Sungwanlek, assisted by Boonsiri Suansuk.