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Vol. XIV No. 24
Friday June 16 - June 22, 2006

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by Saichon Paewsoongnern


HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]: 

British Ambassador captivates BCCT members with Monty Python references

Hospitality Educators

Amari Hotel welcomes famous rugby player

Hotel boom continues in China

Pattaya goes for top end

Chinese officials voice concern over tourist safety in Thailand

British Ambassador captivates BCCT members with Monty Python references

Mail Reporters
On Wednesday, 31st May, the British Chamber of Commerce Thailand was delighted to host an event at the Pattaya Marriott Resort & Spa. The main guest was H.E. David Fall, the British Ambassador, who has started the tradition of an annual speech for the BCCT and people living on the Eastern Seaboard. This is the third time he has come to the BCCT Eastern Seaboard May dinner and he was most welcome.

H.E. David Fall ‘looking on the bright side of life.’
Graham Macdonald, chairman of the BCCT Eastern Seaboard, was there to greet Fall and also Stephen Buckley, who is the director of trade and industry for the British Embassy in Bangkok.
The ambassador had, in fact, spent the entire day on the Eastern Seaboard. Graham Macdonald met with Fall and Buckley at the Amata Nakorn Ind. Est. where they were inspecting the last minute preparations for HRH Duke of York’s visit to the Triumph Motorcycle factory on Friday, June 9. After that they were shown round the GKN Driveshafts plant at the Hemaraj Eastern Seaboard Ind. Est. in Bowin and, finally, the Wood Group in Maptaput.

Graham MacDonald listens intently as H.E. David Fall reveals to him the secrets of evolution in world history.
The turn out for the evening event was excellent with more than sixty people waiting to hear what subject the ambassador was going to enlighten them about. People had no idea if it would be solemn or informative or light-hearted or abstract. You can imagine people’s surprise when The Monty Python music came on.
The ambassador enlightened the audience by saying that the music defined an evolution in world history: The dawn of the age of Monty Python.

Barry Kenyon, David Fall (British Ambassador) looked after by Somsak Tanruengsri, GM of the Pattaya Marriott Hotel & Spa.
His Excellency said that when he was at university, Monty Python had had a major influence on him. “It’s like a secret society,” he said, “and it does cross generations. My 3 sons have all inherited the gene; it’s the naughty bit of the brain, or the nudge-nudge wink-wink bit.
“What Monty Python and the programmes like Fawlty Towers, Ripping Yarns, etc., did was to deflate the pompous. This type of humour magnifies the absurdities of life and there is no profession that has more absurdities than diplomacy.
“We all have to keep out sense of humour, the ultimate test is when a country or its leaders are sure of enough of themselves to let others poke fun at them … this is the stuff that can avoid conflict.”
He finished his speech by prompting the audience to sing, “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life” from the movie Life of Brian.
The evening was a great success and people are already looking forward to next year’s event.

David Holden and Steve Buckley enjoy a drink with a BCCT member.

Charmed by the main sponsors from Harrow International School

Justin Barnett (Tesco), Debbie Lightley and Simon Philbrook (MBMG International) and Danny Poole (BCCT)

Hospitality Educators

Andrew J Wood
The university lecturer in his opening remarks asked the group of new intakes to spell “accommodation”. He was addressing BA degree students attending his Edinburgh class entitled, “Catering and Accommodation Studies”. He then asked us all to write down what our first job expectations were, on completing the 4 year degree course and at what salary?

Andrew J Wood is a long time resident of Thailand and General Manager of Chaophya Park Hotel & Resorts, Thailand and Skĺl International Councillor for Thailand.
The results were perhaps easy to forecast: more than half of us said we would like to be in senior management positions, a few even said general manager; with salary expectations ranging from fifty thousand pounds per year upwards. The year was 1979.
At that point in time we were 30 students. Four years later there were just nine who had made it through to graduation. Most of us in our first real jobs had starting salaries of less than ten thousand pounds per year.
I guess the point being made by the lecturer, in those early days of university, is that as students we have no real knowledge of the world outside. Almost 30 years later, ask students the same questions today and you are almost bound to receive similar answers.
During the 2006 PATA Education and Training Forum - a recent industry seminar on Education in the Hospitality Industry hosted by the Pacific Asia Travel Association in Pattaya, I along with a group of panellists were asked to comment on why the industry was not very good at attracting talent and why there were so few Asian leaders in the hospitality industry.
Student’s un-realistic expectations were cited as a challenge by many educators at the conference.
One of the speakers hit on perhaps another important observation. The industry is perceived poorly. Images of dish washing, mopping floors, waiting at table, it hardly conjures up a ‘sexy’ vision. However the industry is a heavy user of technology and the industry’s image of being just an accommodation and food and beverage provider, with little variety, is being enhanced with many areas of specialization that may well appeal to a younger generation (the so called Generation Y). They are competent, computer literate individuals, capable of multi-tasking (i.e. balancing a cup of iced coffee in one hand while playing video games on the other, talking on their hands free mobile phones and listening to music from their iPod, all at the same time!).
As educators, the hospitality industry in Asia desperately needs to improve its PR. It can be the most rewarding of careers as many of us have found. A career that can lead to travel, new opportunities in a variety of countries and locations and just as importantly, a career ladder as high as your ambitions.
With the emphasis on more leisure time in our lives, the tourism industry is expected to dramatically increase. More travelling from retiring baby-boomers (they are fast approaching 60), longer life expectancy, the impact of higher inherited wealth, greater, faster, cheaper air travel, they will all have significant impact.
As to that latter part of the question, why are there not more Asian Tourism leaders in our industry? The short answer is that there should be and there are many talented individuals around.
One of them is the current chairman of the Singapore based Banyan Tree Hotel Group, Ho Kwon Ping, who during the recent PATA conference, expanded by saying, “In the last century when the well-heeled western tourists experienced Asian hospitality, the unspoken paradigm was that of the caucasian expatriate GM and the smiling, gracious Asian waitress or bellboy. Because of the need for fluency in European languages, knowledge of western cultural and culinary standards, senior management of an Asian hotel would invariably be a westerner.”
Times are changing, but perhaps the pace of that change is not quick enough, in an industry that is often a country’s second or third largest export provider. In Thailand for instance, from my own calculations (and therefore unofficial), I estimate there are close to 350,000 hotel rooms in Thailand (incidentally only 95,000 of which fall under the umbrella and protection of the Thai Hotel Association). There are 14 universities and colleges offering tourism related further education courses, with an annual output of just 2,000 graduate or diploma students. Calculating that the room to staff ratio across the board of 5-star to no-star hotels is approximately 0.75, that means a total workforce of approximately of 262,500 people.
With just 2,000 graduates arriving into the industry each year and a turnover of approximately 20% who will leave in their first year, the industry is in a poor state of educational health.
However, there are a few bright lights shining. A number of companies in the private sector are starting to introduce their own training programmes, including the overseas exposure that is so important in our industry, along with English language training (the language of international business). What is now needed is a visionary to put the frame work of an educational system together, which will long provide for home grown hospitality leaders.
And finally for those of you curious to know ... the spelling of accommodation ... twenty seven of the thirty got it wrong.

Amari Hotel welcomes famous rugby player

Mr. Pierre Andre Pelletier, (left) General Manager and Mr. David Coming, (right) Executive Assistant Manager of the Amari Watergate Hotel recently welcomed Mr. Eric Rush, (center) Rugby Captain of the World Champion New Zealand team on his arrival as the guest speaker at the Juniper Networks Asia Pacific Conference at Watergate Ballroom of the Amari Watergate Hotel

Hotel boom continues in China

China is leading the world in the number of hotel developments, according to the first study for Asia by US-based Lodging Econometrics, an industry authority for hotel real estate.
China has 188 hotels or a total of 71,967 rooms, in the pipeline, representing 48 percent of all development in Asia. Of this, 134 are four or five-star properties and 46 are scheduled to open in the second half of 2006.
The study said the coastal cities and second-tier cities were leading the growth in China. Beijing has 25 hotels in the pipeline - of which 18 are four or five-star developments; while Shanghai has 24, of which 19 will be of four or five-star category.
India is behind China with 78 hotel projects, and Thailand ranks third with 39 projects in the pipeline. But in Thailand’s case, many are part of the redevelopment of areas affected by the tsunami in December 2004. (TTG)

Pattaya goes for top end

Thai travel agents want to promote Pattaya as a high-end tourist destination, but first they plan to gradually eliminate its negative image as a haven for sex tourism.
Association of Thai Travel Agents (ATTA) president, Mr Apichart Sankary, said the move was in response to the anticipated year-end opening of the new Suvarnabhumi Airport, located just one and a half hours from the Pattaya.
He said ATTA and the Thai Hotels Association had in May organised an agent familiarisation trip to Pattaya for a site inspection as well as brainstormed ways to develop tourism promotions. As a result, ATTA has identified the 100-year-old canal market as a new tourism attraction for potential tourist markets from Europe such as Russia and Switzerland as well as locals and expatriates.
However, Mr Apichart said Pattaya must eliminate problems hindering tourism growth such as safety, illegal sex tourism and the lack of proper zoning for the entertainment district.
“The high-spending Scandinavian market is extremely against all these negative issues and that explains why Pattaya can now only attract Asians and Russians with lower spending power,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Tourism Authority of Thailand - Central Region Office 3 is organising a “Colours of The East” event for 90 international travel agents and media from Korea, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Vietnam and Taiwan scheduled for June 10 to 13.
The event, it is hoped, will highlight tourism attractions in the Coastal Tourism Cluster including Chonburi (Pattaya), Rayong, Chanthaburi and Trat. (TTG)

Chinese officials voice concern over tourist safety in Thailand

It was only late last year that Thailand attracted the biggest single tourist group from China. But with growing concern regarding tourists’ safety in Thailand, a senior Chinese official has asked the South East Asian country’s government to make destinations safer for Chinese tourists. The development follows the deaths of three Chinese nationals from accidents in Phuket earlier this year.
“The Chinese government is very concerned about the safety of Chinese tourists, especially as three have died as a result of accidents in Phuket since the beginning of the year,” Yao Bomin, China’s Consul-General in Songkhla, said.
“The Chinese government recognizes that the most important thing for tourism development is safety, and so we urge Chinese tour operators to take very good care of their tourists. We also want the Thai government to help prevent Chinese tourists from getting into unsafe situations.
The development can be a major concern for Thailand.
For example, in late 2005, nearly 7000 incentive travel award winners from five major Chinese cities redeemed their awards with a holiday in Bangkok and Pattaya. It was termed as the biggest ever group of Chinese tourists to visit Thailand.
In another development preceding the biggest group tour, the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) signed an agreement with four Chinese companies to boost the public profile of the kingdom and attract millions of Chinese visitors both in the immediate term as well as over the next five years.
But with growing concerns, Chinese officials have sought cooperation from related agencies, especially tour companies to strictly follow the safety rules. The authorities have asked the government to produce leaflets in Chinese language explaining to tourists about any dangers that they might be exposed to in the areas they visit.
“Tourists have an obligation to take care of themselves, but a major factor is that traffic in Thailand is different from that in China. We would like the Thai government to improve traffic safety and to make travel safer,” added Yao.
“At a recent conference of Thai and Chinese tour businesses in Bangkok, guidelines for safer practices were set down and standardized prices were set for tours to Bangkok and Phuket. If a company is found to be charging more than the agreed prices, the Chinese government will move to have the company’s operating license revoked. Similarly, if a tour company has an accident, the Chinese Consulate will investigate and possibly move to have the company’s license withdrawn,” Yao said. (eTN)


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