Finland not restricting travel to Asia over SARS
Finnish officials are not urging travelers to avoid
unnecessary travel to certain Asian countries yet, in spite of the spread of
Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) in the area.
Sweden issued such a travel warning last month, but so
far, other EU countries are just observing the situation.
In Finland the Ministry for Foreign Affairs has given
travelers advice to enhance their security. However, the Foreign
Ministry’s advice does not extend to medical questions, which it leaves up
to the National Public Health Institute. Petri Ruutu, head physician at
Findland’s National Public Health Institute said he does not believe that
there will be changes in travel recommendations.
The EU countries and the World Health Organization
discussed the SARS situation in a teleconference on March 27, but so far
Sweden was the only country to recommend travel restrictions.
Lufthansa plans to become leaner and even more efficient
Lufthansa’s Group Executive Board is setting a course
to meet the challenges of global competition. “Leaner structures, and as a
result, even more efficient lines of decision are Lufthansa’s answer to
global competition”, explained the future Chairman of the Executive Board
of Deutsche Lufthansa AG, Wolfgang Mayrhuber.
The further development of Lufthansa from an airline into
the Aviation Group as well as the securing of continuity will remain the
prime objectives when Mayrhuber takes up office in June.
In future, the Group Executive Board will have three
instead of its previous four members. As Chairman of the Group Executive
Board, Wolfgang Mayrhuber will also continue to manage Lufthansa German
The members of the Executive Board will be responsible
for strategically important business fields and regions. Another change is
the reduction of the Executive Board of Lufthansa German Airlines from five
to four members.
The reorganization will be orientated customer and
service oriented. “Continuity and innovative spirit are two sides of the
same coin. We are developing a management structure which prepares us for
handling the competition and the challenges of the future,” said Wolfgang.
Thai hotels want to encourage rating system for better control of standards
Hotel and tourism associations and various government
agencies in Thailand have set up a hotel rating system which gives tour and
business operators concise information on the various categories of
accommodations in the country, which they can in turn pass on to their
clients. A unified rating system and appropriate standard controls will
ensure satisfied customers and reduce confusion.
Patcharapong Aphichatapong, deputy governor of planning
and development department of Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) chaired a
meting at Town In Town hotel attended by the president of Quality and Human
resource development in service and tourism industry, Chanin Tonavanic,
president of Thai Hotel in the East, Chatchawal Suppachayanond, and members
of various tourist associations and local hotel representatives.
Held on March 17 at the Town In Town Hotel, association
representatives present in the meeting included Tourism Authority of
Thailand, Thai Hotels Association, International Forum Development
Association, Domestic Tourism business association, Thai tourism business
association, Governmental and Private University association, and the
Quality and Human Resource Development (service and tourism industry)
Similar meetings were held in 4 other places including
Bangkok, Phuket, Khon Kaen and Chiang Mai.
The open session meetings give hotel business operators a
chance to receive all the correct information about the hotel rating system
and an option to include their hotels in the rating system.
The Quality and Human Resource Development in service and
tourism industry Foundation divided the working process into two sections,
the hotelier or human resource development and hotel quality control.
During the discussion there were pros and cons voiced
toward the scheme. Small and medium sized hotels worried about the intense
competition for room prices in the 1 to 3-stars hotel group. They said this
often results in lowered standards, whereas the 4 and 5- star hotel group
has a more mature customer base and a stable number of visitors.
Patcharapong Aphichatapong, deputy governor of planning
and development department of Tourism Authority of Thailand said in the past
hotels that had to cut their prices still faced fixed costs which couldn’t
be recovered and lost profits. He said that if price cutting resulted in
poor quality of service and drastically lowered standards to preserve
income, consumers felt taken advantage of and were dissatisfied.
The association and the committee wanted to clarify the
rating system and invite all hotels to participate in the rating session to
set stronger controls over differences between each hotel and create
fairness for tourists in room rates. This way, every hotel would have the
same standard, consumers would be more satisfied with what they paid for,
and the tourism industry of Thailand would not be hurt in the long run.
Chiangmai welcomes visitors to traditional setting of Lanna culture
The Tourist Authority of Thailand sees Chiangmai as the
gateway to the northern regions of Thailand, Indochina and China and is
actively urging more tourists to visit the region. Special tour packages
will be available for the Songkran Festival which is traditionally the Thai
New Year, and low-season rates are more attractive since the start of the
conflict in the Middle East.
For centuries, Chiang Mai was the capital of a northern
kingdom called ‘Lanna.’ Today, with its own language, architecture and
traditions, it’s still a world apart. Tourists love the elegant manners
and friendliness of local visitors.
On the outskirts of the walled city, lies Doi Suthep and
there are many day-trips available that take visitors exploring through the
northern highlands. Elephant treks to hill-tribe camps, visits to ancient
temples and tours of handicraft villages are all excellent day-trips.
The region’s sumptuous cuisine is matchless and
visitors often say it’s the best food in Thailand. Lanna folkdances are
unique and colorful traditions that are passed on through generations.
Thailand’s special package deals for tourists aim to counteract war jitters
Tourism Minister Sontaya Khunpluem has reiterated that
nervousness over the Iraq war and fears of the deadly strain of pneumonia
have already taken a toll on Thailand’s $8.5 billion tourism industry.
“If the Iraq war drags on Thailand could see 50,000 fewer foreign visitors
this year than in 2002,” he said.
Last year 10.8 million tourists visited Thailand, a rise
of 7.3 percent from the previous year. Tourism revenue rose 11.5 percent to
360.6 billion baht, or $8.43 billion, adding up to 6.7 percent of the
country’s gross domestic product.
“We are working on a special discount package to
attract tourists. We are trying to make up for the lost number due to the
war and the deadly flu virus,’’ Sontaya said.
Thailand has cut its forecast for 2003 tourism arrivals,
a major source of foreign currency earnings, but still expects growth of 1.7
percent to 4.0 percent over last year, from a previous forecast of 6
The Tourist Authority of Thailand (TAT) believes
attractive discounts for tour groups and hotels accommodations plus a
continued saturation campaign overseas to promote the kingdoms’ unique
culture, friendliness and safety could still produce very positive
Emirates’ new Sydney daily flights will take off to the sound of music
Passengers in Sydney, Australia found themselves
serenaded by the Sydney Symphony Orchestra as they check in for their flight
to Dubai on Sunday March 30. The musicians will be setting the halls of
Sydney International Airport alive to the sound of music as a fanfare for
the official start of daily flights between the two cities.
The increase of Emirates’ Sydney service from 4 to 7
flights weekly brings the total number of Emirates’ weekly flights to
Australia - Sydney, Melbourne and Perth - to 18. That total will jump
dramatically on October 26 when Emirates launches a new daily service
between Dubai and Brisbane via Singapore, operating a Boeing 777-300 on the
October 26 is also the day when flights between Dubai and
Sydney go non-stop with the debut on the route of the ultra long range
Emirates has also just announced its sponsorship as
Principal Partner of the symphony orchestras of Sydney, Melbourne and West
Australia. The March 30 launch of daily flights was the first time the
airline and any of the orchestras have worked in concert.
Emirates’ Commercial Operations Director Ghaith Al
Ghaith, said, “This is a great opportunity for Emirates and the Sydney
Symphony to work together and for us to highlight our continuing involvement
in the community. It’s an exciting time for the airline, with major
expansion taking place this year. We are delighted that these extra flights
increase choices for passengers, especially for Australian passengers
booking connecting flights to Emirates destinations beyond Dubai.”
The Sydney Symphony has not announced its program for its
first-ever recital in an airport check-in hall, so passengers will have to
wait to find out whether they will be checking in to Chopin, weighing their
baggage to Brahms or lingering to listen to Liszt. Or the musicians could
simply swing into the Sinatra number “Come fly with me...”
MOF airs concern over impact of SARS on tourism industry and general economy
Finance Minister Capt Suchart Jaovisidh has voiced
concern over the outbreak of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) in
Asia, saying it could have greater impact on the economy than the war in
Iraq. He said the country’s tourism had been directly affected by the
However, the extent of the impact remains unclear until
state agencies concerned obtain thorough information and can analyze it.
Capt Suchart conceded the number of international trips
had considerably dropped for fears of SARS, resulting in a 10-15% reduction
in foreign arrivals.
To ease the impact, the Tourism Authority of Thailand
(TAT) is attempting to attract foreign tourists back by reducing prices of
package tours by 20-30 percent.
“The situation on SARS is beyond our control because it
occurs outside of our country. What we can do now is to ask our people to
avoid traveling into the countries where the disease is breaking out.”
Still, the minister said he believed a lot of foreign
tourists will return to Thailand when the situation on the deadly virus
Singapore Airlines meets with Pattaya travel agencies
Singapore Airlines has extensive routes around the world.
Every year they inform tour companies and agencies about their new packages
for tourist promotion.
Archiwaranguprok, Assistant Manager Passenger Sales Singapore Airlines.
Singapore Airlines (SIA) group recently held their
“Product Seminar” at the Amari Orchid Resort in Pattaya. The session was
attended by over 50 local travel and tour agents in the city.
Supachai Achiwarangaprok, assistant manager Passenger
Sales for Singapore Airlines, led the seminar, which aimed at sharing
information about the rules of Singapore Airlines ticket distribution and
informing agents about new products and new tour packages available for
tourists. He stressed SIA is famous for its efficiency and its gracious
service to passengers.
SIA recently announced that from April 2003,
restaurateur-chefs Matthew Moran of Sydney and Alfred Portale of New York
join the team that brings excellence in international cuisine to SIA.
Whether passengers are traveling in First or Raffles class or selected
Economy class flights, Moran’s modern Australian dishes and Portale’s
New American cuisine will delight the palate. And there is ice cream for
everyone. Passengers have told SIA how much they enjoy the ice cream served
their meal. Therefore SIA has introduced it on more flights.
SIA has won many awards. Recently the airline finished
top in four out of five categories in FinanceAsia’s Best Companies survey
for 2003. SIA was rated top for Best Managed Company, Best Investor
Relations, Most Committed to Creating Shareholder Value and Best Financial
Management. SIA was rated second in the Best Corporate Governance category.
“Go Without Borders” provides imaginative group adventures
Want to travel Thailand with a group of experts who offer
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Go Without Borders offers unique opportunities to explore
the majestic landscape and hidden treasures of Thailand with their 5, 10,
and 15 day small group adventures. They travel to both “shouldn’t
miss” and “hard to find” destinations throughout the country. They
believe that smaller group sizes allow tourists to interact with the
environment and culture in a non-disruptive manner.
Throughout all of their small group adventures, they
offer Thai language and cultural lessons from our qualified Thai teachers
and guides. Participants will experience the freedom that comes with
speaking the native language and interacting with the local people.
Additionally, you will have the opportunity to not only learn Thai culture
and traditions, but participate in them as well.
They have researched and designed their trips to give
tourists the most opportunities to experience the true wonders of Thailand.
You can join them on one of their planned adventures or contact them about
customizing a trip for your group or organization.
Air India re-routes west-bound flights
On March 24 Air-India began re-routing its flights
operated between India and UK/USA and also those to Paris in the wake of
The route finalized by IATA and ICAO for safe operation
of flights by all airlines, omitting the war zone airspace, entails an
additional flying distance of 36 nautical miles and 5 minutes of extra
flying time, as compared to the normal route followed prior to the outbreak
of hostilities in Iraq.
“Khao Prong’ cave” new attraction in southern province of Nakhon Si Thammarat
Villagers in Sichol district in the southern province of
Nakhon Si Thammarat are preparing to develop an old cave to be one of their
finest cultural attractions. Kiattisak Na-nakhon, village headman of Ban
Khao Prong said, “The ancient Khao Prong cave was the sacred place where
villagers gathered on special events since in the old days. The cave is not
only beautiful but peaceful. Our ancestors felt it was a holy place and the
many Buddha statues were brought there in order to pay respect to this
miracle of nature.”
The subterranean passage in Khao Prong cave consists of a
20-meter wide chamber, which abounds with wondrous stalagmites and
stalactites of odd sizes and shapes.
Archaeologists of the Fine Art Department found that the
15-meter long reclining Buddha image and about 30 seated Buddha statues in
the cave were built in the early Ayuthaya period.
Two hundred and fifty stucco stairs made by villagers is
the easiest way for tourists to explore the Buddhist heritage in the ancient
cave. The local authorities and the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) will
be asked for their assistance and cooperation in promoting Khao Prong cave
as the new destination for cultural tourists. (TNA)
Hotels agree to slash prices to
pull in foreign tourists
Thai hotels have agreed to reduce their prices to attract
more foreign tourists, amid fears that European and Arab tourists canceling
their bookings in droves due to outbreak of war in Iraq.
Prakij Shinamonphong, secretary general of the Thai
Hotels Association, said that members of the association had given the green
light to government calls to reduce room rates by 20 percent in order to
pull in more foreign visitors.
While the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) has put a
brave face on the impact that war in Iraq will have on Thai tourism, it has
admitted that 50,000 tourists, mainly Europeans, have cancelled their
bookings for April and May, and is now pinning its hopes on the Asian market
to make up visitor numbers.
Prakij said that room rates would be slashed by 20
percent for a three-month period starting from next month. He pointed out
that low season rates were already a reduction on normal prices, and that
the low season combined with the 20 percent reduction would push rates down
by about 50 percent on high season prices.
Expressing confidence that the promotion would at least
ensure that low season occupancy fell no further than the 50-55 percent drop
recorded last year, he said that the promotion would focus on tourists from
Asian markets. He added that hotels would also give free breakfasts as part
of tourism promotion packages.
Prakij said that booking rates had already fallen by
10-15 percent since the outbreak of war, but that Thai tourists were making
up numbers to a certain extent. (TNA)
Phuket airport beefs up security
Security has been stepped up at Phuket airport, despite
assurances from the airport’s director that the situation in Thailand’s
most popular island resort is normal. Gen. Boonchart Promphool said that
since the outbreak of war between the US and Iraq Phuket airport had
remained on green alert, and that random passenger checks were being stepped
up from one passenger in 10 to one passenger in seven.
Gen. Boonchart said that the airport’s security
personnel had also been boosted by forces from the Third Region air division
and the navy, and the airport was coordinating with the National
Intelligence Office to monitor developments.
Airport cleaning staff had also been asked to keep their
eyes and ears open for any unusual occurrences.
The airport director said that increases in security were
relatively slight, and voiced confidence that the security situation was
Meanwhile the president of the Thai Hotels Association
(THA) downplayed concern that the war was causing a dip in visitor numbers
to Phuket, saying that arrivals were down only slightly, and the fact that
hotel occupancy was only 50 percent was attributable to a spate of recent
hotel construction, which had pushed the total number of rooms available up
to 28,000. He said that tourists were also turning to new destinations such
as Khao Lak in Phang-nga province and Krabi province, and that neither war
with Iraq or the Asian killer pneumonia scare were doing much to dent Phuket
The association stressed the need for Phuket to retain
its image as a peaceful and safe tourism destination, saying that any
untoward news about Phuket hugely affected tourists’ decisions to travel
to the island. The THA president said that during the present war Asia
remained an extremely safe destination and that Thailand has a particular
advantage in this regard. (TNA)