Pattaya Mail turns 12

Vol. XIII No. 35
Friday September 2 - September 8, 2005

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HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]: 

BOT opposes opening financial sector to US competition

Auditor-General’s Office to closely monitor mega infrastructure projects

Cabinet to consider emergency Eastern Seaboard water supply proposal

Current account likely to be in surplus in July

Petronas 4 x 4 caravan visits Chaophya Park Hotel

Grand Mercure brand enters Thailand

Hoteliers receive Bt 3.5 billion in loans to revive post-tsunami business

Global summit to debate tourism industry strategic response to international terrorism

Changing Asian demographics affect travellers’ profile

BOT opposes opening financial sector to US competition

The Bank of Thailand (BOT) has said the country is not ready to fully liberalize its financial services sector, as demanded by American negotiators working on a free trade agreement between Thailand and the United States.

BOT Governor Pridiyadhorn Dvakula said all domestic commercial banks had just begun to adhere to a national financial institution master plan, and need time to adjust and strengthen before being able to compete on a level-playing field with foreign competitors.

The central bank governor said that he shared the same view of the government in that financial services are a matter of national security, citing China, Australia and New Zealand as examples of stronger economies that have not fully deregulated their financial sectors.

He said another issue is the gap between branches of Thai banks operating in urban and rural areas.

In economies like Singapore or Hong Kong, it was easier for the banks to adjust because they were all on the same footing.

“I insist that there is no financial sector liberalization under the FTA. We and the government see eye to eye on this,” the governor said. (TNA)

Auditor-General’s Office to closely monitor mega infrastructure projects

The Office of the Auditor-General will closely monitor the government’s Bt 1.7 trillion spending program to develop massive infrastructure projects, as well as overseeing how the local administration spends the funds.

Lt. Gen. Somchai Wiroonphol, spokesman for the Office of the Auditor-General, said the task will focus on whether or not the investments yield value for money, and it will present its evaluation to the agencies concerned.

Also under scrutiny will be spending at the local administrative level, mainly that of Tambon Administrative Organizations.

To pave the way for greater public participation in, and understanding of the audit, the OAG is planning to set up a squad of 40 officials who can be highly mobile in checking tip-offs on corruption from members of the Thai public, said Lt. Gen. Somchai. (TNA)

Cabinet to consider emergency Eastern Seaboard water supply proposal

The Agriculture and Cooperatives Ministry will ask the cabinet on Tuesday for an emergency budget of Bt350 million to solve the problem of water shortage in the Eastern Seaboard Industrial Estate, home of Thailand’s largest industrial plants.

Agriculture and Cooperatives Minister Khun Ying Sudarat Keyuraphan said today that the money would be spent on building six water pumping systems designed to fill reservoirs during the rainy season.

She said the state-run Royal Irrigation Department (RID) was certain that the implementation of the plan would enable some 40 million cubic meters of water to be stored annually.

Khun Ying Sudarat said she believed it would be ‘more than satisfactory’ if only half that amount could be stored at the new reservoirs.

Her remarks were made after she attended a meeting with senior officials on water shortages in the Eastern Seaboard in this province.

According to Khun Ying Sudarat, few changes would need to be made in the government’s existing plan to deal with the problem, such as water diversion from the Bang Pakong River, which would now require East Water Public Co., Ltd. to accelerate laying its water pipeline by November. The RID must find measures to postpone the flow of saltwater into the Bang Pakong River, which normally occurs in November of each year, so that fresh water could be pumped for consumption.

Khun Ying Sudarat said she would ask industrial operators in the area to map their consumption plans, as well as making consumers understand that the planned water diversion is meant for holding it in reservoirs for future use. (TNA)

Current account likely to be in surplus in July

Bank of Thailand’s Governor M.R. Pridiyathorn Devakula last week disclosed that the current account balance in July was likely to be in surplus following a significant decrease in the trade deficit for that month.

Speaking after delivering a lecture on the country’s economic conditions to Thai ambassadors of many countries, he said the central bank believed foreign investors still had confidence in the Thai economy.

They were keen on investing in Thailand because the country’s international reserve is as high as US$48 billion, non-performing loans (NPLs) have decreased, operating results of private-sector companies have improved, and overall production capacities have increased.

Given these factors, the BOT believes that the Thai economy has enough flexibility to cope with possible economic volatilities.

Pridiyathorn said the decline in the trade deficit for July has lived up to the expectations of all parties, but it is just a figure for one month. Figures in the following months will have to be monitored.

He said the improvement in the trade deficit could possibly turn the current account in July to be in surplus.

However, it cannot be denied that the current account for the whole year will be in deficit.

Previously, the central bank forecasted that the current account for the entire year would be approximately US$3-4 billion in deficit, as the account in June was US$1.5 billion in the red.

The BOT chief said that in order to cope with the economic woes in the long run, Thailand would have to stress on developing competency, boosting competitiveness, adding value to products, particularly in the farming sector, and locating new markets with growth potential. (TNA)

Petronas 4 x 4 caravan visits Chaophya Park Hotel

Andrew J. Wood (standing 1st right) general manager of the Chaophya Park Hotel, Bangkok, recently welcomed the 24 vehicle caravan of Petronas Adventure Team Malaysia, led by Halim Abdul Rahman, general manager, during their 40 days and 40 nights caravan trip taking them to the foothills of the Himalayas, Laos, Cambodia and Thailand on a goodwill and charity fund raising visit. Also seen in the photo is Dheerawat Bhunlapiwat (standing 2nd left), executive assistant manager - sales & marketing of the Chaophya Park Hotel.

Grand Mercure brand enters Thailand

Accor’s Grand Mercure brand recently entered the Thailand market with the official re-branding of the Fortune Hotel Bangkok as the Grand Mercure Fortune Bangkok.

Following an extensive renovation project, the property is offering six restaurants and bars, an entertainment complex with pub and 21 room karaoke outlet, fitness center, spa, and a ballroom which accommodates up to 1,000 participants theatre-style, supported by eight meeting rooms.

The hotel is next to the Bangkok Mass Rapid Transit Phra Ram 9 Station and adjacent to Fortune Town Shopping Mall. General manager, Stanley Chan, said: “The hotel is located within 25 minutes of both Don Muang and the new Suvarnabhumi International Airports, plus all major convention venues around Bangkok.” (TTG Asia)

Hoteliers receive Bt 3.5 billion in loans to revive post-tsunami business

Financial institutions have approved more than Bt 3.5 billion to businesspeople whose hotels and resorts at Khao Lak in Thailand’s southern resort province of Phang-nga were destroyed by last December’s tsunami.

Meanwhile, the government has already provided over Bt 150 million to help small-scale travel businesses and fishermen recover their losses and get their businesses moving again.

Phang-nga Governor Anuwat Metheewiboonwut said that financial institutions gave over Bt 3.5 billion in long-term loans to rebuild 63 hotels and resorts as part of the rehabilitation plan for the tsunami-hit Khao Lak area.

Some Bt 2.6 billion in loans requested for the remaining 30 hotels and resorts are now under consideration. Unfortunately, according to Anuwat, delays are being caused by the complicated processes of commercial banks.

He said Bt 34 million in government funds was set-aside for small-scale entrepreneurs in the tourism sector.

To date, the government has spent Bt 120 million to help fishermen and Bt 4 million to help owners of tourist boats. (TNA)

Global summit to debate tourism industry strategic response to international terrorism

In response to recent terrorist bombings, the program of the 3rd Global Summit on Peace through Tourism is being adjusted to include a special plenary session to debate a “Strategic Tourism Industry Response to International Terrorism.”

The 3rd Global Summit on Peace through Tourism is being held October 2-5, 2005 at the award winning Royal Cliff Beach Resort and Conference Center in Pattaya.

A plenary session to be moderated by H.E. Akel Biltaji, special advisor to H.M King Abdullah II, Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, will focus on the experience of destinations that have successfully recovered from terrorist attacks and the actions and strategies that they employed.

More significantly, the panel will share their wisdom and insights on protecting against terrorist attacks - and the challenges to the travel and tourism industry in addressing the root causes of terrorism in contributing to a long term solution to international violence in all its forms. Invited speakers for this special session include travel and tourism industry leaders from countries that have experienced terrorist bombings.

Theme of the summit is “One Earth One Family: Travel & Tourism - Serving a Higher Purpose.” Its aim is to develop a 21st Century agenda for peace through tourism that addresses key global issues of our time including: poverty reduction; healing the wounds of conflict; promoting international understanding, tolerance and cooperation; environmental enhancement and preservation of biodiversity; and a sustained travel industry response to the social and economic revitalization of tsunami affected countries.

World leaders and statesmen in the travel and tourism industry will be featured as keynote speakers, as well as leaders from the areas of culture, environment, sport, poverty reduction and sustainable development. Concurrent sessions and workshops will be held on a range of topics related to the aim and goals of the summit.

The summit is being organized by the International Institute for Peace through Tourism (IIPT), supported by the Thailand Convention & Exhibition Bureau (TCEB) and with the support of the World Tourism Organization (WTO). Sponsors include: Resorts Condominiums International (RCI), Reed Travel Exhibitions (RTE); Africa Travel Association; and Media Sponsors: eTurbo News, Travel World News, World Tourism Directory, Africa Travel Magazine, Travel Weekly, Tourism & Wildlife India, and Travel Talk Radio.

More than 40 prestigious international organizations have announced their support for the summit. This is in addition to 36 major international organizations that are members of the IIPT Coalition of Partners for World Peace through Tourism. Members of both ‘Supporting Organizations’ and IIPT’s Coalition of Partners are entitled to special discounted registration fees.

International organizations that are interested in supporting the 3rd Global Summit - its theme, aim and goals, are invited to contact IIPT, email address: [email protected]

Summit outcomes will include a “21st Century Agenda for Peace through Tourism” in support of the U.N. Decade of Peace and Non-Violence for the Children of the World and the Millennium Development Goals.

For more information please visit website: or contact: [email protected] or fax: + 1-802 253-2645; tel. + 1 802 253-2658.

Changing Asian demographics affect travellers’ profile

Raini Hamdi

The number of Asians who can afford to travel will grow from 384 million now to 639 million by 2014, based on GDP growth of five per cent per annum. A key segment that tourism operators should target is the “working age empty nesters and older singles”, according to Asian Demographics Hong Kong-based chief technical officer and director, Dr. Clint Laurent.

“This group is not so constrained to travel as their kids have left home or have become more independent economically. They are near finishing their mortgages and most, even in China, will have bought their consumer durables such as televisions, and in fact, there can be more income, not less, if the spouse decides to go back to work,” he said.

In fact, those marketing to Chinese travelers were making a mistake if they simply targeted the wealthy Chinese. One key message Dr Clint sent across at this morning’s travel forum organized by MasterCard International was that while the Asian markets were indeed growing, they had become more complex and the customer profiles were changing.

In China, for instance, he would forget the affluent market and go for the middle-age empty nesters with a household income of around RMB40,000 (Bt.200,000), “where the growth is”.

“I would then do a P&G (Procter & Gamble) which designed the product to meet the price point of what would appeal to the RMB40,000 group. If you can make a profit margin with that, that is what you should be aiming at,” he said.

Dr Clint also warned against treating China and India as similar markets. “China has a middle income group. That is the group that has disposable income and it helps China be politically stable and drives the economy. India is the opposite - it has no middle income to drive the economy. China’s average household size is three, in India it’s five. I would say the priority today is China, and India in 10 years time.” (TTG Asia)


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