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As Thailand’s post-tsunami recovery falters we ask: What’s going wrong?

Erik & Robert to cycle from Pattaya to Chanthaburi - and back!

It’s time to have some fun

Blind students treated to lunch, snacks and necessities

As Thailand’s post-tsunami recovery falters we ask: What’s going wrong?

by Andrew J Wood

The old saying of, “You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make it drink,” sprang to mind when reading recent press reports from various industry leaders suggesting we need to support Phuket and the south. One leading travel organization was quoted as saying just recently, “It was time for travellers and the travel industry to rally behind the destinations.” But some 8 months after the event, I feel there has not been any lack in trying, but can you really artificially inseminate market demand, when it really doesn’t want to blossom just yet?

Kamala Beach, Phuket

I recently returned from a private visit to North America and during my trip took time to visit Ground Zero. The hustle and bustle of lower Manhattan was still very evident, but around the site of the WTC, people were walking quietly, with hushed voices, and one could not but notice that one was visiting a place where something quite monumental had taken place. People were exhibiting a different kind of behavior.

I guess this is also a factor with the south, and why recovery has been slower than forecast. People just don’t like travelling to destinations where many lives have been lost.

When complaints that air capacity to Phuket is down 18% and this is blamed also for a reduction of 40% of visitors to the island, is that really correct?

I guess if I was an airline operator (and no thank you by the way, I don’t see many happy airline people these days except perhaps in the Middle East), I wouldn’t be sending empty aircraft to a destination just to keep up “seat availability”. I would switch to routes that are more profitable, until there is market demand.

Discounts, free rooms, and fam trips galore, are starting to have an effect but the tourism chiefs are wondering why it is taking so long. Well I guess one of the other reasons is that no matter what plans and case studies are scoured through to help find answers, there never was anything quite like Dec 26, 2004 before, with quite as much media coverage as before. It is unusual that it is taking so long for people to forget; normally the industry has been grateful for short memories, but we have not got away with that one this time round.

So maybe let’s take a step backwards for a second, and here I have to apologise to all my southern colleagues because what I personally feel is not something they are going to like to hear.

Why continue to pin hopes on an ‘early’ southern recovery?

A recent survey showed that visitor arrivals to Bangkok are, however, up. Would it therefore be prudent to expound on the virtues of the capital and put market dollars into promotion campaigns to areas of Thailand that are in demand and able to carry the extra burden of visitor arrivals?

Sell into your strengths but don’t forget your weaknesses is a good marketing rule. Like life itself, it is a balance, and I am not advocating abandoning the south - far from it. Continue with the message of normalisation, but let’s move and speed up the healing and after shocks of the tsunami with an aggressive campaign expounding our strengths, not lamenting our weaknesses and reminding ourselves of our failures. After all, tourists don’t just stay in one location; they do tend to move around, and south is one direction we all hope they’re heading.

Andrew J Wood is the general manager of the Chaophya Park Hotel & Resorts.

Erik & Robert to cycle from Pattaya to Chanthaburi - and back!

Mike Franklin

Erik Sorensen from Scandi Bar and his trainer Robert Johansson are always ready with a new feat of endurance to raise money for charity. In 2004 they supported the Jesters ‘Care for Kids’ Charity Drive by cycling from Trat to Pattaya, a 267 km back-breaking ride in a day. It is literally a hard ride, as their specially equipped bikes are very light with tire pressures at 140 psi. In 2004, their efforts raised a staggering 506,230 baht.

Erik Sorensen (left) and Robert Johansson (right) have planned a new feat of endurance in support of the Jesters ‘Care for Kids’ Charity Drive.

This year Erik and Robert have raised their stakes and are planning another cycle marathon, this time from Pattaya to Chanthaburi, and back, over two days starting on Friday September 9 and returning on Saturday the 10th, the day before the Jesters Children’s Fair.

Anyone wishing to sponsor their marathon round trip to Chanthaburi can do so at the Pattaya Marriott Fitness center in the mornings, or go to the Scandi Bar in the evening. Please sponsor Erik and Robert, they really deserve it.

It’s time to have some fun

Karyn Walker

Children in the Eastern Seaboard region have a lot to be excited about - Sunday, September 11 is the date of the annual Jesters Children’s Fair. Kicking off at 10 a.m. at the Diana Garden Resort and Driving Range, there promises to be lots of fun for all the family.

Bangkok-Pattaya Hospital will be on hand to provide blood pressure checks.

The busy schedule of on-stage entertainment, dozens of food and refreshment stalls, together with opportunities for shopping, raffle prizes and even blood pressure checkups ensures an enjoyable day out. However, the area providing the most fun for the younger ones is undeniably the children’s activity section. Primarily organized by the local international school communities, these stalls feature all sorts of fun and games.

Jester Care for Kids clowns provide lots of fun for kids of all ages.

Staff, students and parents from Garden International School, St Andrews International School, The Regent’s School, International School Eastern Seaboard and Montessori Children’s Centre turn out in force to support the ‘Care for Kids’ Charity Drive and have fun.

(L to R) Woody, Mickey Monkey and Mae are ready for the fair.

This year the accent is on ‘Lucky’ with lucky numbers, lucky colour wheel, lucky lollipops, lucky dips and lots more – come along and try YOUR luck!

There are also lots of tremendous prizes to win in the Children’s Raffle hosted by Percy Panda, assisted by Mickey Monkey, both courtesy of the US Navy and donated, with many other gifts for children, when they were here for Cobra Gold. So don’t forget to buy your Children’s raffle tickets at the Fair and be sure to be there when the winning tickets are drawn at 3.30 p.m.

Marching bands will set the pace for the day, Eckie the Clown will be there, together with Elvis and other exciting entertainers. This year the colourful event shirt features a clown and will be on sale in all sizes from the tiniest to the gigantesque. Or, buy one now at the Pattaya Mail office by the Grand Sole Hotel 2nd Road. Just 300 baht each, or two for 500 baht.

Dale, Linden and Isabelle - ‘the terrific trio’ - will also be organizing some games in front of the stage throughout the afternoon so listen for the announcements if you would like to join in the friendly competitions. So children, if you are feeling particularly strong you might like to lend your weight to the Children’s tug-of-war competition. Non-stop action all day, food stalls of every description and even a beer tent for Dad to visit if the pace gets too hot.

We look forward to seeing you on Sunday, September 11 - come along and have some fun! This is Jesters ‘Care for Kids’ Sanuk Sunday to benefit kids less fortunate, so be sure to be there.

Finally, another important date for the diary is Saturday September 17th for the Jesters Pub Night at Jameson’s the Irish Pub. Full details of that in Pattaya Mail next week.


Blind students treated to lunch, snacks and necessities

Chevron Offshore (Thailand), one of the Jesters Care for Kids Gold Sponsors, sponsored a special lunch for the Pattaya Redemptorist School for the Blind students and staff on Friday, August 18.

(Back row, from left) Rod Martin, Woody Underwood, Ms. Rattikan (Khun Dang) and Norm Aylward treated the blind students at the Pattaya Redemptorist School for the Blind to a fun day.

The party was led by Ms. Rattikan (Khun Dang), director of government relations and public affairs for Chevron, who came down from Bangkok with the Chevron team, which included Norm Aylward and Rod Martin. They brought down boxes of toiletries, clothing and snack foods as well.

The blind kids truly enjoyed the day, and especially enjoyed the chance to meet with and mingle with caring people they had never before met.