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Vol. XIV No. 27
Friday July 7 - July 13, 2006

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by Saichon Paewsoongnern

 

TRAVEL & TOURISM
HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]: 

Football fans cheer with Emirates onboard, online, and on-the-ground

Amazing Thailand campaign may be revived in 2007

Thai Air Asia to launch daily Yangon service

Tourism in Thailand flourishes as king’s anniversary negates FIFA World Cup

Lufthansa private jets promoted to agents

A fresh look for Krabi airport

Buddhist Lent begins next week


Football fans cheer with Emirates onboard, online, and on-the-ground

Soccer fanatics travelling for business or vacation are being kept up to date on their team’s progress at the 2006 FIFA World Cup - onboard, online and on the ground - courtesy of Emirates Airline, an Official Partner of the tournament.

Fans of the Italian national team gather to watch the Azzuri in action at the popular Emirates viewing ‘cube’ in Milan’s Malpensa Airport.

Onboard, travellers flying with Emirates can enjoy exclusive screenings of the most recent matches, plus live text updates of current matches being played. It’s a service proving to be extremely popular with passengers, with some flights showing more than 80 per cent of passengers tuning in to the match action.
In addition to broadcasting all FIFA World Cup matches across its entire fleet, Emirates is also providing football lovers with the chance to follow every kick of the 64-game tournament online, thanks to its Matchcast sponsorship on FIFAworldcup.com, hosted by Yahoo!
Available in nine languages, FIFAworldcup.com provides fans with the most comprehensive coverage of the 18th edition of the FIFA World Cup and is already attracting an average of five million fans every day. And it’s the Emirates-sponsored Matchcast that provides the best live match coverage on the web.
Detailed, direct and dedicated to the facts of each game, the Emirates Matchcast features play-by-play commentaries, the official FIFA Data Feed, users Fanchat, photographs of the action published in real time, trivia and football polls.
On the ground, the airline has installed special viewing stations equipped with plasma TVs and projection screens at 16 international airports, showing live matches, as well as highlights from earlier games, information regarding forthcoming matches, team standings and the latest FIFA news.
Mike Simon, Emirates’ Divisional Senior Vice President Corporate Communications, said: “Since the first match kicked off on 9th June, we have been receiving phenomenal and very positive feedback from our customers. At some live match screenings, our airport viewing stations have attracted enormous crowds of cheering fans of all ages and nationalities, all keen to catch some football action before their flights. You can really feel their passion and excitement.”
The popular Emirates ‘cubes’ at the airports have been attracting a plethora of passengers, many wearing their national team jersey and waving flags and other items during the live broadcast from the 2006 FIFA World Cup.
Emirates’ FIFA World Cup viewing stations can be found in airports at New York JFK, Zurich, London Heathrow, London Gatwick, Nagoya, Kansai, Shanghai, Narita, Brisbane, Hamburg, Hong Kong, Melbourne, Sydney, Milan, Rome and Dubai.


Amazing Thailand campaign may be revived in 2007

The ‘Amazing Thailand’ tourism promotional campaign might be brought back to life next year, according to a local newspaper report.
Krungthep Turakij quoted Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) director of policy and planning department, Mr Auggaphol Brickshawana, on Thursday (June 29) from TAT’s annual marketing focus group meeting: “The TAT has formed a working group to study the 2007 tourism branding to re-launch the Amazing Thailand campaign in our next year’s marketing strategy.”
TAT’s deputy governor for tourism products, Mr Santichai Euachongprasit, was also quoted saying that Thailand was in need of a stronger tourism branding due to intense competition from other countries’ brand consistency, such as Spain’s ‘Espana’, New Zealand’s ‘100% Pure New Zealand’, Malaysia’s ‘Truly Asia’ and India’s ‘Incredible India’.
At the same meeting, the private sector urged the TAT to create awareness on Thailand under just one tourism branding, ‘Amazing Thailand’, instead of introducing new brands such as Unseen Thailand, Exotic Thailand and Happiness On Earth, which created confusion among the international market.
The TAT will announce its 2007 marketing strategy after this year’s annual general marketing meeting, to be held from August 15 to 19 in Petchburi. (TTG)


Thai Air Asia to launch daily Yangon service

THAI Air Asia will launch one daily flight from Bangkok to Yangon, Myanmar, from August. Thai Air Asia CEO, Tassapon Bijileveld, told TTG Daily News the flight was part of the airline’s route expansion, planned between June and December.
Also from the same month, the airline will be increasing its four times daily services from Bangkok to Phuket to five times daily. Its three flights daily from Bangkok to Chiang Mai will be increased to six flights daily.
Meanwhile, the airline launched the first Thai Air Asia Travel Fair, held in Bangkok from June 23 to 25. Mr Tassapon said he hoped to sell up to 30,000 air tickets during the event. From the total, around 3,000 air tickets were expected to be sold at 9 baht (US$0.23), while the rest at 199 baht and 399 baht.
Tassapon said the fair would help fill the airline’s 60,000 empty seats on all routes between July and October. He added he planned to make the travel fair, which also featured hotels, tour companies and National Tourism Organisations from China, Vietnam, Malaysia, Macao and Thailand, an annual event. (TTG)


Tourism in Thailand flourishes as king’s anniversary negates FIFA World Cup

Thailand’s recent royal celebrations and more festivities planned to honour the monarch throughout the rest of the year have emerged as a reprieve for the country’s tourism industry. Prior to this month’s celebrations, the industry had expressed unconstructive concerns due to the FIFA World Cup in Germany.
It was projected that the number of European tourists visiting Thailand was expected to decline about 22 percent during this year’s World Cup and the Southeast Asian country would lose US$60 million in tourism revenue, according to a report by the KASIKORN Research Center (KRC).
However, Thailand’s royal celebrations brought enough tourists to the kingdom to make up for the season’s usual drop-off in arrivals and even the negative impact of the World Cup. And with more festivities planned to honour the monarch throughout the rest of the year, the Thai government has raised its target for arrivals to 14.5 million, up from the previous projection of 13.8 million.
Recently, Thailand commemorated King Bhumibol Adulyadej’s 60th year of accession to the throne with a grand five-day celebration graciously attended by dignitaries, including kings and queens, from 25 countries, spending about US$13 million in five days to honor the world’s longest-reigning monarch.
The country’s airports, hotels, museums, shopping centers, office buildings and art galleries are alive with pictorial tributes to the king of Thailand.
Tourism Authority of Thailand governor Juthamas Siriwan said, “The Royal Celebrations presented a perfect opportunity to showcase Thailand at its best. We have certainly set new standards of global hospitality, and we hope our entire tourism industry will continue to maintain them in the years ahead.”
Revising the drop in projections due to the FIFA World Cup, the Association of Thai Travel Agents (ATTA) president Apichart Sankary said, “Over 8,000 arrivals a day is a good figure for the low season. During the World Cup four years ago, very few people came to Thailand.” (eTN Asia)


Lufthansa private jets promoted to agents

Vimolrat Singnikorn
Lufthansa organized a seminar June 14 at the Amari Hotel and Resort to brief travel agents on the airline’s new private jet promotion.

Chompunud Sirisopana, Key Account Manager, Lufthansa talks to Pattaya travel agents about the new service.
Chompunud Sirisopana, key accounts manager at Lufthansa said the airline had last year introduced its private jet service in Europe, in which small jets of six and eight seat capacity operated out of the Frankfurt and Munich hubs. The aircraft are particularly useful for businessmen who are traveling on a tight schedule or who wish to visit smaller airports, as the private jets can access about one thousand smaller airfields in Europe and Scandinavia.
The planes are available to first and business class passengers and are hired at a scale rate with only a small surcharge for extra passengers. The private jet service has also found favour amongst families who travel together, and with honeymoon couples.


A fresh look for Krabi airport

The recently launched new terminal at Krabi International Airport has caused much cheer in the southern province.
Built at a cost of 327 million baht (US$8.7 million), the 15,943sqm terminal can handle 1,400 passengers an hour, compared to 600 passengers an hour at the old terminal.
The runway has also been lengthened - from 2,100m to 3,000m - and can now handle Boeing 747s. The apron has been widened and a further extension will allow the airport to handle three B747s, one B737, one ATR and two helicopters at once.
The airport’s director, Mr. Phaisan Jinachan, said: “The extension will increase arrivals, especially those on direct charter flights from Scandinavia. I’m expecting to receive requests for more international flights once the airport’s new capacity has been officially announced.”
Thai Airways International (THAI) airport service manager, Mr. Peer na Talang, said European airlines applying to land at the airport included Finnair, Britainnia Airlines and LTU International Airways. The carriers planned to start services in October, he said, and added the airport’s ability to handle larger aircraft was the reason European airlines were showing interest in operating regular charters to Krabi and sharing the market with Phuket.
Budget carrier, Tiger Airways, started flying to Phuket four times a week last October, while Nova Airlines has halted its weekly service to the destination until the winter schedule.
THAI flies to Krabi four times daily and Thai AirAsia twice daily. Both airlines are the only two operating domestic flights to Krabi.
Mr Phaisan said he believed THAI would introduce a direct Krabi-Chiang Mai flight in its winter schedule.
To complete the airport’s transformation, the old terminal, which is closed for renovations, will handle international traffic when it reopens early next year. The new terminal will be used for domestic flights.
Tourism Authority of Thailand governor, Juthamas Siriwan, said she was confident the airport extension would result in increasing visitor arrivals to Krabi each year.
She said: “The new terminal is a very good opportunity for Krabi. I have been approached by many airlines from Australia and Hong Kong to fly direct to Krabi.’’
The airport makeover is one of many changes the destination has undergone over the past six years. Numerous hotels have opened, including Sheraton Krabi Beach Resort and Central Krabi Bay Resort, and many other hotels have been renovated.
Krabi, with its stunning beaches and islands and peaceful atmosphere, is ideal for couples as well as families. It has so far avoided the over-development trap, unlike nearby Phuket and has maintained its provincial charm. (TTG)


Buddhist Lent begins next week

July 10 & 11

With candles and joss sticks lit, many recite prayers during Buddhist Lent in Pattaya. The Buddhist holy days of Asalaha Bucha and Khao Pansaa will be celebrated throughout the country on July 10 and 11.

This year, the Buddhist holy days of Asalaha Bucha and Khao Pansaa fall on July 10 and 11. Both are recognized public holidays, and therefore banks and most businesses will be closed. It is also against the rules to sell alcoholic beverages during the beginning of Buddhist Lent. Many activities are planned throughout the city, especially at our temples, and everyone is invited to take part.
Asalaha Bucha Day (July 10)
The Buddhist Holy Day of Asalaha Bucha falls on the 15th night (15 kham) of the full moon during the eighth month of the Buddhist Lunar calendar, this year equating to Monday, July 10. “Asalaha Bucha” means paying homage and worshiping on the day identified according to the Lunar calendar during the eighth month, Ahsala being the name of the eighth month in the Pali language.
Asalaha Bucha Day is worshipped because of three important events occurring on the day. Called the “Triple Gem” (the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha), these commemorate the first sermon given by the Buddha, called the “Dharmachakapavattama Sutta” concerning the “Four Noble Truths” presented to the Buddha’s first five disciples. The sermon set in motion the “Wheel of Dharma”, which is the meaning of “Dharmachaka”.
The sermon concluded that: 1. All things are a source of suffering from the constant cycle of birth, disease, old age and death. 2. Desire or the inability to obtain what one desires is the cause of suffering resulting from cause and effect. 3. Freedom from suffering can be obtained after the complete cessation of desire. 4. The last of the Four Noble Truths is the “Middle Way”, or the path between extremes of asceticism and indulgence leading to the eliminating of desire. The Eight-Fold Path consists of possessing the correct: Views, Resolve, Speech, Conduct, Livelihood, Effort, Mindfulness, and Meditation (or Concentration).
Secondly, the day is considered to be the birth of Buddhism, as the Buddha departed the location where he obtained his enlightenment two months earlier and then, coming to a forest area in the city of Pharansi, he showed favour to five ascetics who became his followers.
The third of the Triple Gems is the Sangha. On this same day, the first person listened to the Buddha’s sermon, realising the truths contained therein and becoming the first Buddhist monk. This created the Buddhist order “Sangha” and the day is known as “Sangha Day” as well as Ahsala Bucha Day.
The Thai government established the observance of Asalaha Bucha Day in 1958. Buddhist temples throughout the Kingdom arrange ceremonies venerating the important historic events in the past. Devout Buddhists participate in the ceremonies by presenting offerings to monks, listening to sermons and performing ritual prayers.
The entire day is revered and certain precepts are adhered to by the more devout Buddhist, and by those who have the inclination and opportunity to do so. The Wientian ritual ceremony is performed in the evening as many go to nearby temples bringing candles, flowers and joss sticks, completing three trips walking around the temple area sacred grounds.
“Khao Pansaa”
(July 11)
The day following the start of Buddhist Lent (Asalaha Bucha Day) another important Buddhist Holy day begins in Thailand with the custom called Khao Pansaa. This day falls on the first full moon (1 kham) of the Buddhist Lunar calendar during the eighth month of every year, which this year equates to July 11, and ends on the 15th full moon (15 kham) of the 11th month of the Buddhist calendar, usually in mid-October. During a leap ear it is identified during the second eighth month.
The term “Khao Pansaa” can also translate to entering the months of the rainy season when monks return to the temple for the duration of the rains, usually to the temple where they were ordained. They stay there for approximately three months. The monks are not supposed to depart the temple, or stay overnight at any other location during the months of rain. Although the rainy season is considered to be longer than three months, lasting up to four or even more, monks are only required to remain at the temples for three of the four months. During the last period of the rainy season they can then go elsewhere when the “Katin” ceremony is performed presenting robes to the temples.
Initially, monks were discouraged from travelling during the rainy season because of the idea that it was inappropriate to walk about during the rainy season when many small living creatures were about, which could be accidentally stepped on. This included the rice crops. Inclement weather also made it difficult to get out and about. Therefore, it was established long ago that the monks would remain in temples during the rains for three months, discussing and studying Buddhist scriptures, following Buddhist disciplines, meditating and performing ritual ceremonies.
The custom of Khao Pansaa has continued on to this day with three classes of ceremonies, a Royal ceremony conducted by HM the King of Thailand, ritual ceremonies for devout followers of Buddhism throughout the Kingdom and ceremonies performed by monks in the temples.
The Royal ceremony is similar to the ceremony performed by the general public, but more elaborate. HM the King and members of the Royal Family perform ritual ceremonies to pay homage to Buddhism, and present Khao Pansaa candles and traditional garments to Buddhist monks. The Royal Family also donates many other items used in these ceremonies.
Other followers of Buddhism all over Thailand will attend temples in the morning, bringing food, necessity items, money, the traditional candles, garments and ceremonial items for the monks, with flowers and candles in hand.
For those people having devout faith they may refrain from the recognised eight offences for the duration of the three month rainy season just as monks do, while others may give up a single vice, with yet others recognising 5-8 offences for the day.
The ceremonies performed by monks in temples revolve around rituals accepting new monks, who take vows for periods up to the three months, with some staying even longer. Senior monks at each monastery perform other ceremonies leading followers in worship and prayer.
The two main items presented to monks during Khao Pansaa are the candles and garments worn by monks, specifically the bathing robe. The candles were essential in former times and needed for ceremonies, studying scriptures and performing various other functions. The candle offering has developed into a custom still followed.
The presentation of garments worn by monks is said to have originated from methods of bathing in former times, commonly done in community areas using streams, rivers, ponds and other sources of water, with monks requiring a bathing robe. The garments worn by monks continued to develop until the custom included presenting the entire arrangement worn by monks.
Many people take time away from their work on Khao Pansaa to recognise the importance of the Buddhist Holy Day. Everyone is invited to participate in the temple ceremonies and to refrain from offensive behaviour for the day, and to make the same effort thereafter.


 


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