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Local News Vol. 12 No. 2 Febuary 2003

   
CNX - World
The Chiang Mai - Chittagong route requires up to 25,000 passengers to use their services per year to become profitable.
Thai Airways is very confident of the route's success however, and have announced that direct flights to Paris, Frankfurt and Tokyo will fly from Chiang Mai nine times per week by the end of April. With two million tourists visiting Chiang Mai every year,
Thai Airways International is confident of these new investments.

Japanese Wailing
Japanese tourists have been complaining to the municipality about the planning of pedestrian and transportation affairs in Chiang Mai. 58,000 Japanese tourists a year come to Chiang Mai and themunicipality is taking these complaints very
seriously.
A pedestrian shopping zone is slated to be constructed within the next three years (location as yet unknown) and 40 pedestrian road bridges will be built within the municipality with funding coming in part from low interest Japanese OECF funds.

Chiang Mai hosts regional IB Asia Pacific Workshops

The Prem Center, in co-operation with the International Baccalaureate Asia Pacific (IBAP) held twelve International Baccalaureate (IB) Asia Pacific Workshops during 18-27 January 2003, at its campus in Mae Rim district. Over 240 teachers from
14 countries in the region, representing 70 schools, have registered. The purposes of the workshops were to inform, qualify and ensure that IB teachers at whatever level are thoroughly prepared and oriented to deliver an exciting and challenging
programme. International Baccalaureate programmes are taught in over 1500 schools around the world, and the IB Diploma is increasingly seen as the premier university entrance qualification globally.

Chiang Mai as the Region's Education Hub

The Prem Tinsulandonda International School was among representatives promoting Chiang Mai as an education, health, tourism and business hub in the region in conjunction with the Chiang Mai - Chittagong inaugural flight. Thai Airways International invited service and business representatives in Chiang Mai to fly on its inaugural flight on 11th December
ibit and to meet local business leaders.
Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, Prime Minister
Begun Khaleda Zia, senior government officials, businessmen and the representatives gathered for a ceremony at Chittagong International Airport on 12 December. Later an exhibition was held at the Chittagong Club where leading Bangladeshi businessmen got to meet and talk to the
Chiang Mai representatives.
Prem Tinsulanonda International School, an IB World School, was among the 25 representatives
from Chiang Mai at the exhibition.

Schoolgirl's parents suing clinic's owner for B 10 million

The parents of the Chiang Mai schoolgirl who died whilst undergoing liposuction surgery announced that they will file a civil lawsuit
against Dr. Charlie Kanchanarak. They are demanding B 10 million for wrongful death of their 17-year old daughter in addition to
his falsely accusing her of methadone usage. Autopsies performed at various hospitals failed to find any presence of methadone.
The girl's parents will donate the money to charity.

Taxi Metres to Serve Chiang Mai


The Songtaew Association has announced that they will be introducing 300 metered taxis in Chiang Mai while at the same time eliminating 300 songtaew taxis (there are currently 2,791 songtaew in Chiang Mai). From over 21 years of collecting membership fees, as well as share options income, the association has accumulated over B 10 million.
The interest from this sum of money will be used to loan money to songtaew drivers who wish to purchase a metered taxi. Each taxi will cost around B 250,000 - 300,000 and the association will loan members B 70,000 towards the purchase of them, with a monthly repayment of B 3,033.
The minimum charge on the meter will be around B 30-35 and after that it will cost B 1.50 per km.

Web Operators Beware

A growing number of businesses in Thailand are now selling tours, hotel nights, treks or transportation through websites. However,
TAT would like to remind these web businesses that according to Thai law, whether they are an online or offline tour company, they
are still required to register as a travel agent by law. TAT will be checking up on these web-based businesses and there may be
hefty fines.

Zoo Stays Put

Chiang Mai zoo denied reports issued by Plodprasop
Suraswadi, who is spearheading the committee to develop the Mae Hia Safari Night Zoo project, that the project will incorporate the relocation of the current Chiang Mai zoo into its Mae Hia location. The Chiang Mai zoo will be contributing animals towards the Night Safari, as requested, with four other zoos in Thailand helping the Chiang Mai zoo restock, but that is the extent of their involvement.
The construction of the panda habitat began in January at the zoo's present location and is expected to be complete by the end of July.
Should the zoo move location to Mae Hia, and this couldn't occur for at least another four years anyway, the pandas are scheduled to arrive at the end of this year for a decade's stay.
Should the pandas breed successfully then Chiang Mai zoo will be allowed to keep the baby panda for a further two years before its return to China. Two hundred people at a time will be allowed to enter the viewing
area of the panda's air-conditioned habitat and there will be 24 hour video cameras monitoring behaviour for scientific studies.
This habitat will cost B 39 million to create. There are currently 142 pandas in captivity in China, 125 in the United States, 6 in Japan, 3 in Mexico, 2 in Germany and 2 in Thailand. Around 1,000 are estimated to live in the wild.

The Problem with our Tourism
A recent conference in Bangkok among travel agencies throughout Thailand resulted in a report concerning some problems which could be addressed in order to alleviate the lack of tourism in Chiang Mai. Main points to ponder are: the north does not at
present have an appeal to attract tourists for one to two week length stays as do southern destinations; local tour operators as well as government bodies have spent time and resources in continuing to find new attractions for tourists to visit, often allowing
old attractions to fall by the wayside; there is also no real co-ordinated effort by businesses in the tourism industry to work together for their mutual benefit. There are over 17,000 registered hotel rooms in Chiang Mai, yet the hotel association fails to
attract MICE (Meeting, Incentive, Conference and Exhibition) tourists due to their inability to work together effectively. Of these hotels there are only a few five star hotels, therefore top end tourists from Europe and the US tend to go to larger resort

destinations such as Phuket and Samui where large five star accommodations cater to a wider variety of needs. This can be seen clearly in the falling number of French tourists to Chiang Mai in 2002, when only 41,000 tourists arrived: a 40% reduction from
2001. However, throughout Thailand the French tourist market is expanding rapidly. Most tourists in the north are either low budget tourists or group tourists, unlike more independent holiday makers who go down south and spend much more money
per head per day. The international flights from Europe also have not been accommodating towards Chiang Mai as most flights require a one night stopover in Bangkok which makes travel to Chiang Mai inconvenient. The last major concern to be raised was Thai Airways' refusal to allow bookings of internal flights from abroad if the long haul flight is not Thai Airways. These points are currently being addressed by the Tourism Association of Chiang Mai and the TAT northern Region.

Malaysian Tourism

TAT is driving a campaign to promote the north of Thailand as a tourist destination for Malaysians. Malaysia has a population of 23.5 million people, 65% of whom are Muslim.
TAT has been working towards promoting Thailand and especially the north by appealing to the Muslim community.
821,000 Malaysians visited Thailand in the first 8 months of 2002, spending an average of B 4,500 per day per person.
However, only a fraction of these visitors ventured as far north as Chiang Mai. TAT has also been facing difficulties in promoting Thailand as a destination to Malaysia whose policy, similar to ours, is to promote tourism within its own country.
TAT has therefore not been able to advertise on Malaysian television or radio stations. However a famous Malaysian television programme, thanks to the support of the Bangkok Bank, TAT and Thai Airways International, has just finished an eleven-series travel documentary about the Muslim
communities in Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai and Mae Hong Son.
A greater number of Malaysian tourists are expected in the north this year as a result.

 
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