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?
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
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
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
Andrew J Wood is the general manager of the Chaophya Park Hotel &
Erik & Robert to cycle from Pattaya to Chanthaburi - and back!
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.
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
It’s time to have some fun
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.
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
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
(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.
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.
|CHILDREN’S RAFFLE PRIZES
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.
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.