Asian trade dominates ATF buyer profile
Asian travel agents and tour operators represent the
largest group of buyers scheduled to attend the ASEAN Tourism Forum
(ATF) 2008 in Bangkok from January 18 to 26.
Of the 650 registered buyers, 294 are from Asia, including 47 from
Singapore, 38 from Malaysia, 34 from India, 31 from Indonesia, 21 from
Vietnam and 43 from Thailand. Another 239 buyers are from Europe and are
from the UK (48), Germany (46), the Netherlands (20) and France (15).
There are 39 registered buyers from the US and 31 from Australia.
Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) governor, Ms Phornsiri Manoharn,
said: “This selection of buyers reflects the rapid growth taking place
in intra-regional travel, one of the most important trends taking place
“More growth is certain as Asia-Pacific governments push regional social
and economic integration and liberalise movements of people and goods by
boosting transportation infrastructure, especially low-cost airlines.”
As for sellers, the biggest number are from Thailand the host country,
(184), followed by Indonesia (61), Malaysia (56), Singapore (25), the
Philippines (17), Vietnam (17), Myanmar (nine), Brunei and Cambodia
(seven each) and Laos (five).
Travex at ATF 2008 will be held at Challenger 2, Impact Muang Thong
Thani, from January 21 to 25 January. The ASEAN Tourism Conference will
be held at the same venue on January 23. (TTG)
Andrew Wood elected
President Skal Bangkok
the 8th January 2008 meeting of Skal Intl Bangkok, which took place at the
Conrad hotel, Mr. Andrew J Wood, General Manager of the Chaophya Park Hotel &
Resort, was elected President for 2008-2010.
Andrew J Wood, President-Skal Intl Bangkok
Wood replaces Brian Sinclair Thompson of Swiss International Airlines, who hands
over responsibility after a very successful 4-year tenure.
Mr. Somsak Kiratipanich was returned as Vice President and Mr. Robert (Bob) Lee
was returned as Executive Secretary.
Andrew Wood is also the Skal International Councillor for Thailand and Skal
Asian Area Director of Development. His election day victory coincided with his
The Skal Club of Bangkok was formed in 1956 (Club No.153) and meets on the
second Tuesday of each month and currently has 94 members.
Only ‘genuine’ Malaysians to greet tourists, government says
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia (eTN) - A new directive by the Malaysian
government has decreed only “genuine” Malaysians can now man the frontline in
the country’s hospitality industry.
“We want tourists to meet ‘local’ workers, including those pushing trolleys and
taking bags,” said Malaysian Deputy Prime Minister Najib Razak, who made the
announcement after chairing a cabinet committee on tourism. “We want our
airports to give tourists a truly Malaysian welcome.”
“This is a new ruling for Malaysian airports, especially at the Kuala Lumpur
International Airport (KLIA) to ensure services provided will be carried out by
locals,” he added. “Only local manpower can be used in jobs involving contact
The ruling has been made to stem the tide of employer’s dependency on “imported”
labor, which the government has estimated now numbers some 3 million legal
Najib’s announcement coincided with Malaysia Airport’s unveiling of its new
“orange flavored” attire for its airport frontline staff, as part of KLIA’s 10th
Three years after the tsunami
Burkhard Bartel, Pastor
People that travel to Khao Lak, now that three years have passed
after the tsunami, are curious about the developments there. How are the
survivors? What does the beach look like? Are resorts and hotels
Nicolai Leger with godparents and his mother.
Most visitors are amazed by the normality they encounter everywhere. As if
nothing had happened. But on 26 December 2004, more than 5,000 people lost
their lives and about 85 percent of all hotels were completely destroyed.
Little by little, employees and guests break their silence and begin to tell
their own private stories of how they survived the huge wave.
The German-speaking Protestant community in Bangkok has helped in the
tsunami-hit region over the last three years. We focused our work on Khao
Lak and Ban Nam Khem, perhaps the place where the wave hit hardest. About
half of the 7,000 inhabitants died, and 85 percent of the village was
shattered. We have supported families, helped on reconstructions, paid for
surgeries and the necessary aftercare.
Some people contracted illnesses from contaminated sand and water, and even
today there are people dying from these infections.
The Takua Pa kindergarten is operating again.
During the third week of Advent 2007, I visited that region again. My
departure was marked with wistfulness, as the misery has built close
relationships and true friendships.
The reason for my journey to Khao Lak, though, was the baptism of Linus
Nicolai Leger from Stuttgart, on December 17. It took place right at the
place where the Leger family had lost Tom, their first child, to the wave
three years ago. Only other people who experienced similar tragedies can
emotionally understand the hard times these people have had to go through.
The Leger family found some comfort in the birth of Linus about eight months
ago. His mother chose a reading from St Paul’s Epistle to Timothy: “God has
not granted us the spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of
The happiness of baptizing a newborn child, the commemoration of the tsunami
victims and the peaceful Christmas festivities all came together. Most
visitors to the worship mourned to the loss of a loved one. Glancing to the
horizon, we gave rein to tears, but still there was happiness about the new
life of a human being.
Many told me about their bad dreams at night, their fearfulness and
depressions. Some lost their hope and feel ready to leave this world. We all
know situations of great fear. Fear, however, is not just a negative,
paralyzing feeling: it is also important. It warns us before danger.
Dark clouds drift past Ban Nam Khem.
Very few people realized the hazard of the approaching tsunami. One woman
told me that she had just finished a book about tsunamis two days prior to
the tragedy. She was at the very same beach, just a few hotels further down.
As the water receded, she started to scream out frantically. Luckily, she
managed to convince several people to quickly move to higher-level ground.
While running, the woman saw a young man with a heavy backpack and she told
him to just drop it. But the young man wouldn’t listen, and the wave got
has not stopped at Khao Lak.
Thousands of inhabitants have survived, but what have they done since? Most
of them received support from the Thai government, private organizations and
churches from all over the world and were able to build up accommodations
again. The village came back to life. But even after three years, there are
many who suffer from nightmares or feel suddenly terrified by a single
A pastor and the owner of a batik atelier booth said that corruption was
raging and it still is. Jealousy has risen between friends and even within
some families. People were treated very differently. Some of them actually
became rich because of the tsunami.
Fishermen say they are afraid of the future. The houses are no more solid
than before. In the last three years, high waves have flushed sand into
living rooms over and again. Prior to the tsunami, things like that had
A woman says: “We are terrified by the thought that another tsunami might
strike. And we fear the ghosts of the deceased. Practically one human died
on every square meter and many of them haven’t received a proper funeral.
Some still lie on the bottom of surrounding ponds. When the wave hit our
house, I held both my twins in my arms. I was whirled underneath the surface
and just couldn’t hold onto my babies. We never saw them again. In my
dreams, I oftentimes run from the water and suddenly everything turns
Most of the relief organizations that pitched their tents right after the
tsunami and soon moved into solid accommodations have left by now. A lot of
praise can be heard about how unbureaucratic and selfless Thais and
foreigners had worked hand in hand the first days and weeks. On the second
day, enough drinking water and cooked rice had been supplied for all the
people. Construction companies from all over Thailand sent heavy machinery
to clear the streets and remove collapsed buildings and trees.
By today, most hotels in Khao Lak have already been renovated and some of
them even look better than before. Many entrepreneurs, especially from small
businesses, were forced to take out high loans. But tourism hasn’t yet fully
recovered. Even in the high season now, empty beds can be found. The name
“Khao Lak” became the epitome of horror. Especially tourists from Asian
countries stay away, as they also fear the wandering souls of the dead.
Due to the low visitor numbers, many entrepreneurs have had to sell their
businesses to pay off their debts. A diving instructor said: “The rich from
Bangkok buy all the land. In a few years, we will see tourism similar to
that in Pattaya and Phuket.”
One thing many villages still lack is centers for psychological counseling.
There is no such thing in that region.
On the third anniversary, many tourists came back to the site where the
tsunami struck. A woman from Germany said: “This is my first visit after the
tragedy. I have gone through two years of psychological treatment. I’m here
today because I finally want to recover wholly.”
As I go for a last walk before my departure, I take pictures of the white
waves at the beach of Khao Lak, while a thunderstorm develops on the