Tuesday, 24 July 2018

VIETNAM SEEKS LARGER SHARE OF INDIAN TOURISTS

Thanh said that the country has a great heritage
with a 4000-year-old history. Photo: Twitter
Vietnam wants a larger inflow of Indian tourists, who are yet to show as much interest in this far eastern country as they do in its neighbours like Thailand and Malaysia.

Nguyen Le Thanh, deputy chief of mission at Vietnam Embassy, today said 20 million Indians travel overseas every year, while only 90,000 of them go to visit Vietnam.

“India has a very important place in our foreign policy and we have a comprehensive strategic partnership. The bonding will strengthen further with more people to people contact and this can been be boosted through tourism,” she said.

There are, however, no direct flight to any Vietnamese destination from Indian cities. Thanh said the first direct air service between Vietnam’s most populous city Ho Chi Minh City and New Delhi is likely to commence by the last quarter of this financial year.

She said Vietnam has seen a rapid rise in tourist inflow from the other parts of the world with an average 25 to 30 per cent increase in numbers every year compared to the previous year.

“From just 2.5 lakh overseas tourists in 1990, Vietnam has registered 13 million tourist arrivals in 2017,” she said. Thanh said that the country has a great heritage with a 4000-year-old history.

Read full article at Devdiscourse: https://www.devdiscourse.com/Article/50622-vietnam-seeks-larger-share-of-indian-tourist

http://www.mekongtourism.org/

Thailand Queen's Birthday

Her Majesty Queen Sirikit
Mother’s Day was first introduced to Thailand on 15th April, 1950. In 1976, Mother’s Day was changed to 12th August to commemorate the birthday of Her Majesty Queen Sirikit, the Mother of all Thai people.

Every year during the month of August, Thai households and public places will be decorated with lights, decorations, and portraits of the most beloved Queen Sirikit in celebration of the day of Her birth.

In the morning, an alms-giving ceremony will be held followed by country-wide candle-lighting ceremony and fireworks displays.

The Queen’s birthday is celebrated everywhere, but nowhere more than in Bangkok, the capital, especially along Ratchadamnern road and Grand Palace area.

Queen Sirikit is regarded as mother to all Thai people, thus her birthday is also celebrated as Mother’s Day and observed as a Thai national holiday.

Date - 12/08/2018

Monday, 23 July 2018

KING VAJIRALONGKORN’S BIRTHDAY (THAILAND)

King Maha Vajiralongkorn
The birthday of King Maha Vajiralongkorn, also called King Rama the Tenth, arrives every 28 July and is a public holiday in Thailand.

Rama X has been king over Thailand only since 2016, when his father King Bhumibol died after a 70-year reign. Vajiralongkorn was a clear successor since he was Bhumibol’s only son. Vajiralongkorn was already 64 years old upon ascending the throne.

Thailand long kept Bhumibol’s birthday every 5 December, and they continue the tradition with a new king and a new date. Many Buddhist temples have special events and receive alms for the monks. Some also release birds or turtles to bring good luck.

Date - 28/07/2018

Sunday, 22 July 2018

LONG-TERM STRATEGY NEEDED FOR TOURISM

From left: Piip Amarisara Jaturapat, the senior partner at
Thalias; Luu Meng, president of the Cambodia Tourism
Federation; and Ly Tayseng, CEO of Post Media,
at the Cambodia Tourism Federation networking event
on Tuesday.  Photo: Hong Menea
The Cambodian tourism sector is set for more spectacular growth in the next few years, thanks to industry promotion and networking through the Cambodia Tourism Federation (CTF) and support from the Ministry of Tourism.

The CTF president and co-chair of the Government Private Sector Working Group-B on Tourism, Luu Meng, said this at a CTF networking event in Phnom Penh on Tuesday with the theme, Stronger Together in Tourism.

“Our country is known as the ‘Kingdom of Wonder’ because of its historical and natural richness. Our ultimate goal is marketing and bringing more people to experience our wonderful country.

“But to do so, we need to develop our tourism products and have policies and infrastructure that support such development. This way, it will be much stronger,” he told the 200 guests at the event which included industry leaders.

Meng said the last four years have been exciting for the sector, thanks to incredible work by the Ministry of Tourism and private companies to develop mechanisms for better discussion and communication.

The only way for Cambodian tourism to grow, he said, is for all parties to work together. “There is no single part of the equation that can stand alone. We are all working towards the same goal of making the Kingdom ‘the destination of choice’ for tourists,” Meng said.

He said the CTF started as four associations, but has since expanded to nine, plus two private companies. And it continues to expand with the goal to engage all aspects of the private sector and provide a platform to build the tourism industry.

Meng said: “Though having the right tourism policies are important, ultimately it is a coordinated marketing strategy that will draw more international tourists. This includes promoting our existing tourism products and developing new ones.

“But it needs to happen under a cohesive longer-term strategy. We need the sector to help support the newly formed Marketing & Promotion Tourism Board and work within the Government-Private Sector Forum – Tourism, which is a solution-oriented mechanism established specifically to build dialogue between the government and private enterprise.”

He said within the mechanism are nine working groups, including Overseas Marketing and Promotion, Tourism Industry which addresses policies, Training, and others.

The working groups, he said, were critical to ensure all aspects of the tourism experience in Cambodia are addressed with none left out.

“It’s not just about selling our hotel rooms, restaurants, travel agents, transport providers or tour guides. It’s about everyone in the tourism sector working together to develop and strengthen the authentic tourism experience,” Meng said.

The event was graced by the presence of Tith Chantha, secretary of state and high representative to the Minister of Tourism Dr Thong Khon, and Chhuon Dara, the secretary of state at the Ministry of Commerce.

Also present was Post Media CEO Ly Tayseng, whose company owns The Phnom Penh Post.

During the networking session, he told those present that The Post is keen to promote and support local and foreign businesses operating in Cambodia.

Read full article at The Phnom Penh Post: https://www.phnompenhpost.com/national/long-term-strategy-needed-tourism

http://www.mekongtourism.org/

1ST ASEAN WORLD HERITAGE SUMMIT 2018

Wat Mahathat in Sukhothai (Photo: Creative Commons)
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation – UNESCO – has listed more than 1000 historical and natural sites in the world. 

With 38 sites already listed in Southeast Asia and many more submitted for review, culture, histories and landscapes have been recognised for our unique value for mankind. 

Learning and sharing how to manage the world heritage sites sustainably among the 10-member states in ASEAN is vital. 

Sukhothai will be the venue for the 1st summit; this site has been governed by the Designated Areas for Sustainable Tourism Administration (Public organisation), Thailand or known as DASTA. 

The “built to thrive” journey through a joint effort of all stakeholders has made an integrated and community-based management model recognised as one of its world-class case examples.

Date - 02/08/2018 - 04/08/2018
Location - Sukhothai Treasure Resort & Spa

Saturday, 21 July 2018

MIND BLOWING LINE-UP ANNOUNCED FOR SYDNEY SCIENCE FESTIVAL 2018

The Sydney Science Festival returns in 2018 with a program of astronomical proportions. Taking place from Tuesday 7 – Sunday 19 August, the Festival rockets into venues around Sydney and is overflowing with hands on science experiences for all ages.

Featuring 13 days jam-packed with over 200 events across 90 venues, the Sydney Science Festival brings together some of the greatest minds in science today, including Sydney Science Festival Ambassador and astronomer, Lisa Harvey-Smith, Indigenous Astronomer Kirsten Banks, leading Artificial Intelligence expert Ellen Broad, A.I. researcher Toby Walsh, comedian and public health practitioner Alanta Colley, former Greens leaderBob Brown, and 2018 Australian of the Year quantum physicist Michelle Simmons.

“Innovation is an essential part of any growing city. The Sydney Science Festival gives industry leaders and emerging talent a unique opportunity to both share and showcase their vision for a smarter future. With such a diverse line-up of speakers and exhibitions hosted across some of Sydney’s most iconic venues, including the Powerhouse Museum in Ultimo, I’m confident that this year’s Festival will be our most ambitious and successful to date,” said Minister for the Arts, The Hon. Don Harwin.

Now in its fourth year, Sydney Science Festival is produced by the Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences (MAAS) and the Australian Museum as part of National Science Week, in partnership with Inspiring Australia.

“Last year saw 70,000 fans attend over 180 events, presented by 60 partners at the Sydney Science Festival. The incredible program for this year’s Festival provides an opportunity for the general public, both young and old, to come together to understand and marvel at how science influences every aspect of our lives. As STEAM disciplines become increasing important to future economies museums such as MAAS have a key role to play in engaging and educating students in real-world applications of STEAM subjects,” said MAAS Director of Programs and Engagement, Tristan Sharp.

On Thursday 9 August, after-hours favourite MAASLive Lates: Science returns to the Powerhouse Museum to celebrate the launch of the Festival. This free event is your chance meet experts, get creative with a range of hands-on activities, tour exhibitions and chat with curators in a huge night of science.

Program Highlights

What happens when galaxies collide? It might sound like an abstract question, but it's one that our descendants might need to worry about. Sydney Science Festival Ambassador,Lisa Harvey-Smith presents a lively talk on how a future collision between our own galaxy, the Milky Way, and its nearest neighbour will bring dramatic changes to our night sky. Lisa Harvey-Smith Keynote: When Galaxies Collide will take place on Friday 10 August, the possible galaxy collision on the other hand wont be for at least 3.8 billion years!

Get set for some outdoor fun with Science in the Swamp at Centennial Park. The FREE day is a favourite among families and this year’s theme “Dinosaur vs Superpower” will combine two of kid’s favourites. With roving dinosaurs and scientists on hand to point out amazing super powers found in nature, it’s an action packed day of fun. And don’t forget to come in your superhero outfit!

More family-focused events include the hands-on Super Science Saturday at the Australian Museum and Big Science Day at the Powerhouse Museum where interactive science shows and demonstrations will have the museum buzzing with science action.

A highlight of the Festival will be a new exhibition at the Powerhouse Museum. Art, science and speculation converge in Human Non-Human, an exhibition that asks “what makes us human and how might humans adapt in the future?” The exhibition features four art commissions that incorporate architecture, design, robotics, biotechnology, chemistry, animism, film and performance to consider the entanglement between humans and technology. Featuring artists Maria Fernanda Cardoso, Lindsay Kelley, Ken Thaiday and Liam Young, Human Non-Human explores the themes of food, work, sex and belief.

Sit back and enjoy a special screening of the landmark documentary The Living Universe - It’s Time to Meet the Neighbours. The film is an extraplanetary search for life on other planets. After the film, a panel of eminent scientists, space engineers, biologists and philosophers will answer the audience’s burning questions. The Living Universe will take place on Thursday 9 August at Event Cinemas, George Street.

Take a look into the future with Good Robot/Bad Robot - Living with intelligent machines/living with artificial intelligence. Leading Artificial Intelligence expert Ellen Broad, A.I. researcher Toby Walsh and MIT Media Lab technologist Hae Won Park will try to answer the question “if robots can be everything from carers to warriors, what does this mean not just for human lives, but for the way we understand human intelligence, human values, and humanity itself?”

Celebrate the women of science in GenWomen: Scientists Smash the Glass Ceiling where six women from six generations of science, including Indigenous Astronomer Kirsten Banks, share their experiences and challenge the stereotypes and preconceptions about what being a scientist means.

Alanta Colley: Parasites Lost combines science communication, storytelling, and comedy in a parable on parasites. Join comedian and public health practitioner Alanta Colley as she takes audiences on an adventure, across the world and through her intestine; and learn about some of the world's cheekiest micro-organisms, and how she contracted each of them. Alanta Colley: Parasites Lost takes place on Thursday 9 – 12 August.

Established in 1999, the Jack Beale Lecture Series provides an opportunity for a prominent individual to examine Australia's environmental responsibilities, opportunities and performance within a global context. On Wednesday 15 August at the University of NSW, the series invites former Greens Leader and environmentalist Bob Brown to share his insights.

Five years ago, 2018 Australian of the Year Professor Michelle Simmons and her team developed the world's first transistor made from a single atom, as well as the world's thinnest wire. Now she is looking to build a quantum computer capable of solving problems in minutes, which would otherwise take thousands of years. Join Professor Simmons for an insightful discussion on her work launching Australia into “the space race of the computing era” in The Einstein Lecture: The Quantum Computing Revolution by Australian of the Year 2018 - Michelle Simmons. The lecture takes place Tuesday 14 August at the University of NSW.

This year Sydney Science Festival features 25 events in suburban libraries throughout Sydney. From Castle Hill, to Liverpool, Sutherland, Blacktown and Parramatta there are 25 scientists are ready to meet local communities and talk about their research. The libraries have experts on everything from women’s brains, robots, technology of the future, gut health, Antarctica, bilingualism and children’s brains.

Dr Karl Kruszelnicki tackles the big issues in the universe today, like how air conditioners are sexist and whether there could be life on one of Saturn’s moons in Dr Karl Out West on Wednesday 15 August.

Innovation Games is a free event full of new ways to taste, touch and see science in action. At Innovation Games on Saturday 18 August, Sydney Olympic Park will be buzzing with interactive displays, an augmented reality treasure hunt, live stage shows, games, gadgets, film and food.

The MAAS Indigenous Sciences Symposium 2018 is dedicated to honouring the next generation of Indigenous scientists and those who are supporting their development. Join in on two days of events to celebrate 60 000 years of technological advancement and eco-sustainable practices. Presenters include recipients of the CSIRO Indigenous STEM and IDX awards for their exceptional contribution to the advancement of Indigenous sciences and technology locally, nationally and globally.

The full Sydney Science Festival program is available online at www.sydneyscience.com.au. For more information about National Science Week events visit www.scienceweek.net.au.

Dedicated Great Barrier Reef events venue opens

The first dedicated events venue on the Great Barrier Reef has been launched in Cairns offering bespoke corporate events and private parties in the middle of the Coral Sea.

Sunlover Funlover is an innovative event and entertainment product incorporating a high-speed catamaran and outer Great Barrier Reef pontoon which can be customised for any function and cater for more than 300 guests.

Sunlover Reef Cruises and Hides Hotel Cairns Group General Manager Sharon Sheldrake said the unique offsite venue was the only tourism infrastructure at Arlington Reef so guests would feel like they had the Great Barrier Reef to themselves.

“Operating on demand all year round, Sunlover Funlover allows clients to choose their event theme, timing and entertainment to create the ultimate Instagram-worthy event,” she said.

“Imagine Tweeting from your business meeting with nothing but the Great Barrier Reef in the background?

“Start your event the moment you leave Cairns city with a comedian doing a live set or learn about the Reef with our in-house marine experts during the 90-minute boat ride.

“Choose an Indigenous theme with a Welcome to Country on arrival at the pontoon, a presentation on what the Reef means to its Traditional Owners and entertainment by an Indigenous band.

“Snorkelling, glass bottom boat tours, the underwater observatory, fish feeding and touch tanks are all included and extras such as diving and scenic helicopter rides can be added.

“Our first Sunlover Funlover event is Diving Divas, a fundraiser celebrating PADI Women’s Dive Day on Saturday July 28, with a fashion parade, synchronised swimming performance, live band, head and hand massages and special guest Straw No More founder Molly Steer.

“Sunlover Funlover has been developed as an innovative, highly entertaining Great Barrier Reef experience with the utmost respect for our precious marine environment.”

Sunlover Reef Cruises is a market leader in interactive reef experiences, creating the only theme-park waterslide on the Great Barrier Reef on their Moore Reef pontoon.

The Australian-owned company is committed to innovative product development and will continue to develop the Arlington Reef activities pontoon and the Sunlover Funlover product to ensure to it offers unique customised event experiences.

Find out more at sunlover.com.au

AIRBNB TEAMS UP WITH THAI GOVERNMENT TO ONBOARD LOCAL

Both Airbnb and the Thai government aim to better
spread tourism dollars and improve digital
literacy across local communities in the country.
Airbnb has sealed its first partnership with a government agency in Thailand to train local provincial officials on hospitality, hosting and compliance standards, with a view to onboard existing homestays onto the global homesharing platform.

Joining forces with the Thai Ministry of Interior’s Department of Local Administration (DLA) as part of the Empowering Local Tourism Entrepreneurs initiative, both partners agree to conduct training sessions focused on sharing information about Airbnb, and how to use the platform to distribute tourism income to local communities across Thailand.

Moreover, they will work to equip officials with the digital literacy skills to help locals create and manage their own listings on the platform, as well as build a local community of hosts in each province who can support and learn from each other.

Suttipong Juljarern, DLA director-general, Ministry of Interior, said: “Digital technology fosters real-time audiovisual communication and connections between local communities and guests around the world, and will surely encourage economic development in rural areas. This will help us achieve the UN and the Royal Thai Government’s goals to alleviate poverty, as this additional stream of revenue for locals means the improvement of their living standards in all respects.”

Mich Goh, Airbnb head of public policy for South-east Asia, added: “By promoting digital inclusion and the effective use of our platform to attract inbound guests domestically and abroad, we will help drive economic growth in areas that have not traditionally benefited from tourism.”

Commented Mike Orgill, Airbnb director of public policy for Asia-Pacific: “Through this partnership, we will empower the muang rong (secondary cities), the thesaban (municipalities) and the tambon (sub-districts) to transform themselves into communities of local hospitality entrepreneurs, which are an integral part of Thailand’s booming tourism industry. This new generation of local tourism entrepreneurs is something envisioned by nations around the globe as a new driving force of tourism.”

The launch of the initiative also saw a country-first joint training workshop conducted by three Airbnb Superhosts and Community Leaders, and guest speakers from the Ministry of Interior’s Department of Provincial Administration and the Thai Immigration Bureau.

Read full article at TTGAsia: https://www.ttgasia.com/2018/07/09/airbnb-teams-up-with-thai-government-agency-to-onboard-local-hosts/

http://www.mekongtourism.org/

Three finalists chosen to compete for ABC Young Performers Awards 2018

Discovering and nurturing the finest young Australian performers

After 8 months of intense preparation and memorable performances the three finalists have been chosen who will battle it out to win the coveted title of ABC YOUNG PERFORMER OF THE YEAR. The three finalists are Kevin Chow from Perth (piano); Emily Sun from Concord West (violin) and Oliver Shermacher from Marrickville (clarinet).

2018 Young Performers Awards will be held on Tuesday 24 July in the Concert Hall, Sydney Opera House when each finalist will play an exhilarating concerto accompanied by the Sydney Symphony Orchestra under the baton of celebrated conductor Dr. Nicholas Milton AM.

Be inspired by their journey, be transported by their performance, be there to witness a defining moment in a young musician’s life.

Presented by Music & Opera Singers Trust Ltd
Venue: Concert Hall, Sydney Opera House
Date & Time: Tuesday 24 July at 6.30pm
Prices: from $29 + $8.50 booking fee
Bookings: sydneyoperahouse.com 9250 7777 or
ticketmaster.com.au or 136 100

2018 Gong Cultural Festival slated for mid-November

The opening ceremony of 2017 Gong Cultural Festival
Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc has instructed the People’s Committee of the Central Highlands province of Gia Lai to work with the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism (MCST) and relevant agencies to organise the 2018 Gong Cultural Festival.

The festival is scheduled to take place in this year’s mid-November in the province, with the unity of local ethnic communities as its main theme.

The Gia Lai People’s Committee has been tasked to efficiently utilise social sources along with part of the province’s coffer to organise the festival.

Numerous activities will be jointly held by five Central Highlands provinces, namely a street festival featuring gong performances, re-enactment of some traditional rituals and festivals of 11 ethnic groups of the region.

The art of wood sculpture and brocade weaving will also be introduced during the festival, along with seminars on the conservation of gong cultural values and exhibitions on ethnic costumes.

The event is to honour the Cultural Space of Gong of Tay Nguyen (Central Highlands) in line with an action plan of the MCST to preserve and promote the gong cultural heritage in the province.

The Cultural Space of Gong of Tay Nguyen was recognised by the UNESCO as a masterpiece of the oral and intangible heritage of the humanity in 2005. It is closely linked to the daily life of local people. Their belief systems form a mystical world where the gongs produce a privileged language between men, divinities and the supernatural world.

NEWCASTLE TO WELCOME INTERNATIONAL FLIGHTS

The Hunter region is set to welcome more international visitors, with Virgin Australia confirmed to commence direct flights to Newcastle Airport from Auckland on a seasonal basis.

The Trans-Tasman service will operate thrice weekly from 22 November 2018 through until 17 February 2019.

Deputy Prime Minister and Federal Minister for Infrastructure and Transport Michael McCormack said the Australian Government had committed more than $2 million a year over the next four years to facilitate international flights at Newcastle Airport.

“Local tourism is set to benefit, with flights across the Tasman moving a forecast total of 9,000 passengers over the initial season,” Mr McCormack said.

“We look forward to seeing these flights take-off – just in time for Newcastle’s Supercars event and the busy end-of-year travel period.”

NSW Minister for Tourism and Major Events Adam Marshall said the creation of a new international gateway at Newcastle Airport would help drive more international visitors to regional and rural NSW.

“The creation of this new international gateway is a huge win for regional NSW and will help funnel international visitors to some of the State’s most impressive destinations, from the Hunter Valley to the New England region,” Mr Marshall said.

Flights are on sale now.

Friday, 20 July 2018

HẠ LONG CITY TO HOST ASEAN TOURISM FORUM 2019

Iconic location: Hạ Long City, in the northern coastal
province of Quảng Ninh Province, will host the ASEAN
TourismForum 2019 to be held on January 14-19.
— VNA/VNS  Photo: Trung Nguyên
The ASEAN Tourism Forum 2019 will take place early next year in the tourism hub of Hạ Long City, in the northern province of Quảng Ninh.

ATF 2019, the annual forum regarded as one of the top events of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), will be held from January 14-18 to boost tourism co-operation and development.

With the theme “ASEAN – The Power of One”, it is expected to underline the strength and beauty of the 10 nations in ASEAN and the beauty of each individual in the community, towards a prosperous, sustainable and inclusive development goal.

A wide range of activities will be held as part of the forum, including formal meetings between officials of ASEAN National Tourism Organisation (NTO) and meetings between ASEAN tourism ministers and their counterparts from China, Japan, South Korea and India.

Other events include association meetings involving the ASEAN Tourism Association, the Federation of ASEAN Travel Associations, the ASEAN Airlines Association, and the ASEAN Hotel & Restaurant Association, exhibitions and business appointments seeking to facilitate the trade of regional and individual tourism products of ASEAN member states, and a tourism conference.

As part of the event, the unique ATF Travel Exchange (TRAVEX) will be held to make it easier and more convenient for suppliers of ASEAN tourism products and services and international buyers to conduct business.

The authorities of the Việt Nam National Administration of Tourism and Quảng Ninh Province organised a meeting on the organisation of the two events.

The ATF 2019 creates an opportunity for Việt Nam to introduce its nation, people and tourism as well as attract more investment in tourism in the nation.

Meanwhile, TRAVEX is a trade-only event that showcases the world’s largest contingent of ASEAN destination products and services, and facilitates selling, buying and promoting the region internationally.

This is the second time Việt Nam has hosted the event, 10 years since its first organisation in 2009.

The hosting of ATF 2019 is also expected to create a golden opportunity for Quảng Ninh in particular to promote its tourism.

The province this year has also been successful in hosting the National Tourism Year 2018 themed “Hạ Long – Heritage, Wonder, Friendly Destination”, in Hạ Long City in April.

Hạ Long Bay is a must-see destination in Quảng Ninh. It was recognised as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1994 and 2000.

The bay spans 1,553 square kilometres and includes 1,969 islands of various sizes. It features thousands of limestone karsts and islets of various shapes and sizes.

The limestone islands in the bay has gone through 500 million years of formation in different conditions and environments.

The geo-diversity of the environment has created biodiversity, including a tropical evergreen biosystem, oceanic and sea biosystem. Hạ Long Bay is home to 14 endemic floral species and 60 endemic faunal species.

Read full article at Viet Nam News: http://vietnamnews.vn/life-style/451185/ha-long-city-to-host-asean-tourism-forum-2019.html#ckGUXI1ZzX4WzuO0.99

http://www.mekongtourism.org/

Thursday, 19 July 2018

ADB LOAN TO BOOST HIGHWAYS

Minister of Finance Apisak Tantivorawong (left)
and ADB Director General for Southeast Asia
Ramesh Subramaniam (right). Courtesy of ADB.
THAILAND has gained a US$99.4 million loan from the Asian Development Bank (ADB) to help upgrade some of the country’s highways and improve road safety in the Northeast.

The loan agreement was signed yesterday by Finance Minister Apisak Tantivorawong and the ADB’s director general for Southeast Asia, Ramesh Subramaniam.

“Transport infrastructure is an important driver of growth for Thailand’s economy,” said Subramaniam. “Improving the country’s road network will boost economic growth and improve people’s access to economic opportunities and social services. It will also help Thailand become a trading and economic hub in the Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS).”

Under the funding package, some 125 kilometres of highways will be upgraded.

The project follows the success of the ADB-supported GMS Highway Expansion Phase 1 Project in 2009, which upgraded 178 km of an existing two-lane national highway to a four-lane divided standard, including Highway 12 between Phitsanulok and Lom Sak (105 km) and Highway 359 from Phanom Sarakham to Sa Kaeo (73 km). These two routes link to the GMS East–West Economic Corridor and the GMS Southern Economic Corridor, respectively.

The GMS Highway Expansion Phase 2 Project will upgrade Highway 22 (Nong Han to Phang Kon and Sakon Nakhon to Nakon Phanom) and Highway 23 (a section from Roi Et to Yasothon) from two-lane highways to four-lane highways. The project will result in a more efficient and safe transport network for goods and people. It will also help the government improve road safety and management through safety awareness training and knowledge sharing in road safety audits.

Read full article at The Nation: http://www.nationmultimedia.com/detail/Economy/30349310

http://www.mekongtourism.org/

Wednesday, 18 July 2018

SLEEPING BEAUTY - "A KNIGHT AVENGER'S TALE" Pantomime a family hit is Sydney

I was unable to attend the opening night of Sleeping Beauty, so I was pleased to see it this afternoon. This is the 5th pantomime produced by the amazing Bonnie Lythgoe.

Everyone knows the Once pon a time story of the princess who pricks her finger ion a spinning wheel and is cursed to a 100 years of deep sleep. She is of course saved by the charming prince who awakens her with his kiss.

This pantomime musical is a show for all the family. Children, parents and grandparents will all enjoy the singing, dancing and comedy that abounds in the show.

Audience participation is encouraged throughout the show, with booing the heroes and hissing the villains encouraged. From the audience reaction throughout the show and the commenets I overheard at interval and after the show, it was obvious to me that the audience loved Sleeping Beauty.

The humour is the thing that stands out in the show, and there are laughs for all generations. Look out for the references to Dr Who and Spider Man in the show. "The 12 days of Christmas song" featuring the toilet rolls once again is a hit in the second half. 

Some of the songs in the show are new songs especially written for the show, and others are well known classics that have been worked into the show. "If I can turn back time" sing by Rhonda at the end of act one is memorising. 

This is a fully staged show, with dazzling costumes, delightful sets and special lighting effects. Watch out for the flying Rhonda and the flying phone box!!!!! 

The star of the show is the Rhonda Burchmore who is the Wicked Fairy Godmother Carabosse. Her dazzling costumes, dancing and singing are brilliant.

The role of 'King Louis', Sleeping Beauty's father is played by English actor Frazer Hines, best known for his role as 'Jamie McCrimmon', the Doctor's assistant, in Doctor Who.

It is good to see Kev Orkian once more in the role of 'Silly Billy'. He interacts with the audience well and is a great source of laughter throughout the show.

The ensemble of adult and children sing and dance well to complete the spectacle of this family pantomime.

Don't miss this opportunity to see this fun pantomime musical these school holidays and attend one of the few remaining shows.

VENUE: State Theatre, 49 Market Street, Sydney
PRICES: from $52.95 to $97.95 plus Family tickets available
BOOKINGS: Ticketmaster.com.au or 1300 139 588
WHEN: for a strictly limited run to 22 July
THU 19 JUL 2018 11:00AM **REGULAR PERFORMANCE
THU 19 JUL 2018 3:00PM **PREMIUM PERFORMANCE
FRI 20 JUL 2018 2:00PM **PREMIUM PERFORMANCE
FRI 20 JUL 2018 7:00PM **REGULAR PERFORMANCE
SAT 21 JUL 2018 2:00PM **PREMIUM PERFORMANCE
SAT 21 JUL 2018 7:00PM **PREMIUM PERFORMANCE
SUN 22 JUL 2018 11:00AM **PREMIUM PERFORMANCE
SUN 22 JUL 2018 3:00PM **PREMIUM PERFORMANCE

TOURISM AUTHORITY OF THAILAND FORECASTS 40 MILLION TOURISTS FOR 2019

Thailand’s tourism industry is expected to expand through next year, with at least 10% growth in revenue from this year, fetching 3.4 trillion baht.

Yuthasak Supasorn, the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) governor, said strong growth is anticipated from both the international and domestic markets.

Next year, the international market should generate income of 2.28 trillion baht, while the domestic market should contribute 1.12 trillion, he said.

The authority also predicted international arrivals would increase from a predicted 37.5 million this year to 40 million next year, with domestic tourists making 169 million trips for 2019, up from 160 million this year.

Revenue from domestic tourism will climb to 1.12 trillion baht from an estimated 1 trillion baht for 2018.

“Tourism contributes 11% to GDP. The industry will continue to grow and that is very challenging for TAT,” said Mr Yuthasak.

Weerasak Kowsurat, the tourism and sports minister, said the government would continue using tourism as a key tool to drive the economy, reduce poverty and lower income inequality.

The government will also focus on sustainability by promoting responsible tourism.

The ministry is randomly inspecting some resorts on Phi Phi Island to verify their quality, check their licences and ensure they are legally employing staff. The move is aimed at increasing tourism quality and standards.

“Apart from that, the move is intended to eliminate nominees working in the industry for foreign investors. We don’t want them to put Thailand on sale and take the money back home,” said Mr Weerasak.

The minister said in the future tourists entering the country must buy insurance as part of new tourism standards.

The government has additional travel safety initiatives on the cards, he said.

TAT has called a meeting with directors from its global offices worldwide to map out strategies for next year.

Pichaya Saisaengchan, director for the Dubai and Middle East office, said TAT would encourage more visitors from this region, particularly female tourists, families and those seeking preventive medical service.

Last year 610,000 visitors came from the Middle East, mainly from the United Arab Emirates, Iran and Oman. The region accounted for 2% of total international arrivals, but average spending from the segment is 7,200 baht per head per day, higher than the 5,200 average from other markets.

“The high season for the Middle East falls between July and August, which is good [as it’s] Thailand’s low season. TAT expects tourist numbers from this region to increase by 3% next year,” said Mr Pichaya.

Jittima Sukpalin, executive director for the Americas Region, said three offices located in Los Angeles, New York and Toronto will seek out new markets such as first-time visitors and millennial tourists looking to travel independently and enjoy outdoor activities.

Read full article at Chiang Rai Times: https://www.chiangraitimes.com/tourism-authority-of-thailand-forecasts-40-million-tourists-for-2019.html

http://www.mekongtourism.org/

LAOS TO INTRODUCE E-VISA BY 2019

Laos will join Cambodia, Vietnam and Myanmar in offering an online e-visa option for tourism purposes, the last country in Southeast Asia to switch from passport-page sized stickers to electronically prearranged visas for self-printout. The service is currently under preparation and is set to be offered at the end of this year or early next year in a move to attract more foreign tourists to Laos.

Authorities in charge are accelerating procedures for the launch of the e-visa service, a senior official of the Consular Department at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs told Vientiane Times.

Only foreign tourists will be eligible to apply for Laos’ entry visa online. Overseas business people and officials are required to apply for entry visas from Lao embassies and consulates as normal, according to the official.

Currently, there are two ways which foreign visitors can apply for an entry visa – one is to apply for a visa on arrival, which is available at 22 international border checkpoints of the country. However, the remaining five international border checkpoints do not service visas on arrival.

Another way is to apply for an entry visa from a Lao embassy or consulate which can be rather inconvenient, particularly for those living in countries where there is no Lao diplomatic post.

Especially frequent travelers find it inconvenient that the current Laos visa sticker consumes one full passport page plus entry- and exit stamp, which will be reduced to the stamps after the e-visa is introduced.

Laos registered an average annual growth rate in foreign tourist arrivals of 10.7 per cent between 2000 and 2015. In 2016, the country experienced its first major dip of ten per cent in arrivals to 4.23 million foreign visits, while international arrivals further dropped In 2017 to 3.8 million.

Read full article at J&C Service: http://jclao.com/laos-to-introduce-e-visa-by-2019/

http://www.mekongtourism.org/

HCM CITY TOURISM SECTOR TARGETS TOURISTS FROM INDIA

HCM City has great potential to attract tourists from new markets like India but the city must diversify its products and services to appeal to more international visitors, an official said on Wednesday.

Bùi Tá Hoàng Vũ, director of the city’s Department of Tourism, said new policies were being designed to attract more tourists, especially from India.

The department has also been working with airlines, he said.

In September, the budget airline Vietjet Air plans to open direct flights from HCM City to India, he added.

Last year, the number of Indian visitors to Thailand reached 1.6 million, while the number to Việt Nam was only about 170,000, according to the department.

As one of the measures to improve the situation, the department is working with consultants on food publications for Indian tourists in Việt Nam, according to Vũ.

In recent years, the department has also launched promotion campaigns in India, he added.

Read full article at VietNam News: https://vietnamnews.vn/society/449052/hcm-city-tourism-sector-targets-tourists-from-india.html#088lTvW1jVP6ymyf.97

http://www.mekongtourism.org/

NEW ROUTE CHIANG MAI TO YANGON

Yangon in Myanmar
AirAsia will introduce a new direct service linking Chiang Mai in North Thailand with Yangon in Myanmar.

The three weekly service, scheduled Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday, will start 11 August.

August is one of the lowest months for travel to Yangon and traffic from Chiang Mai will be even lower. However, there is strong potential for the route during November to March when peak tourist season kicks in for Myanmar.

Competition will be tough as Bangkok Airways serves the Chiang Mai-Yangon route daily. The PG one-hour, 25-minute flight departs at 1140 and arrives in Yangon at 1235.

The roundtrip fare is THB 7,147 with full service, baggage allowance and lounge use at both airports.

Myanmar National Airlines offers three weekly flights (Wednesday, Friday and Sunday) on the route quoting a fare of THB 5,976.

But AirAsia can count on its strong customer base and it low-fares starting with a special deal for the launch of just THB 990 during the sales period 11 to 24 June for travel 11 August to 12 August 2019.

It is likely that outside of the launch promotion the roundtrip fare will hover around the THB 2,800 mark, with no add-ons.

At present, AirAsia serves the Chiang Mai-Yangon route with a check-through service and a stop in Bangkok for a change of plane. The roundtrip fare is THB5,467. Flight time end-to-end is three hours and 55 minutes

AirAsia’s believes the new direct flight, using its latest A320s, will appeal to tourists who want to visit Chiang Mai the prime gateway city to North Thailand and then extend their travels to take in Yangon in Myanmar.

Multi-country tours are gaining popularity in the region as air travel costs are low and tourists travelling long distances to get to the region want to experience more than just one destination.

There is potential to sell trips to Chiang Mai residents who will be able to visit Yangon without having to travel via Bangkok that makes the trip more expensive and time-consuming.

Thai AirAsia CEO, Santisuk Klongchaiya, remarked that Chiang Mai is now a gateway with numerous international flights from Asia.

Read full article at TTRWeekly: http://www.ttrweekly.com/site/2018/06/new-route-chiang-mai-to-yangon/

http://www.mekongtourism.org/

HALLYUWOOD DOWN-UNDER: THE 9TH KOREAN FILM FESTIVAL IN AUSTRALIA ANNOUNCES 2018 PROGRAM

The Korean Film Festival in Australia (KOFFIA) is proud to be returning down-under in 2018, bringing with it a line-up of exquisite new Korean films, from across all genres. Taking place in Sydney (9-18 August), Brisbane (15-16 August), Melbourne (6-13 September) and Canberra (21-23 September), this year’s program has a whopping 22 films on offer.

Presented by the Korean Cultural Centre Australia, KOFFIA showcases the very best of Korean culture through film. From big-budget blockbusters to intimate art-house flicks, the Festival presents a packed program of world-class cinema, plucked straight out of Korea’s booming film industry – Hallyuwood.

KOFFIA Director, David Park, says, “The past year for Korean cinema has been one of the best and most accomplished in recent memory – making this a very, very special year for the Festival. With such an enormous range, audiences are able to pick out a film for whatever tickles their fancy: a comedy, a thriller, a horror, a drama – you name it!”

KOFFIA is a cinematic experience for people of all tastes, ages and cultural backgrounds. As such, every film presented at the Festival screens with English subtitles.

OPENING AND CLOSING NIGHT
Opening the Festival in each city is the feel-good flick Little Forest. Starring Kim Tae-ri (The Handmaiden), the film follows a young woman as she leaves the big city behind and returns to her country hometown, reuniting with childhood friends. Cosy, relaxing and satisfying, Little Forest will have audiences yearning for the simple life.

The closing night film is the poignant and lively Korean art-house smash Microhabitat. Winner of the CGV Arthouse Award at 2017 Busan International Film Festival, Microhabitat is the directorial debut of Jeon Go-woon and follows aging housekeeper Mi-so. To Mi-so as long as she can afford her three greatest pleasures – whisky, cigarettes and her boyfriend – she’ll be happy. But when her landlord raises the rent, and the cost of cigarettes increases, she decides to ditch the roof over her head and journey through Seoul to reconnect with her old college friends and crash on their couches.

Microhabitat’s Jeon Go-woon (Director), Ahn Jae-hong (Actor) and Kim Soon-mo (Producer) will be guests of the Festival for the Sydney screening and will hold a Q&A following the film’s screening.

FESTIVAL HEADLINERS:
Hallyuwood and Hollywood come together in A Taxi Driver, which was selected as South Korea’s pick for the Foreign-Language category at the 2018 Academy Awards. Based off the real-life Gwangju Uprising of 1980, the film stars Kang-ho Song (Snowpiercer) as he drives a German journalist from Seoul to Gwangju city in the middle of a political uprising. The film is a richly imagined tribute to a Korean working-class hero.

In the moving dramedy, Keys to the Heart, Lee Byung-hun (The Magnificent Seven) and Park Jung-mun enter each other’s lives when they discover they’re half-brothers.

THRILLERS:
For those who love a bit of a thrill, there is 7 Years of Night, which follows a man as he struggles to cope with his guilt and paranoia after accidentally killing a young woman; Golden Slumber explores the danger of mass media sensationalism and public witch-hunts as an everyman’s peaceful life is turned upside down when a black ops organisation frames him for the murder of a presidential candidate.

In Forgotten, a twisty violent tale of amnesia and murder unfolds as man investigates his brother’s strange disappearance after he reappears with no memory of it. Forgotten Director Chang Hang-jun and Producer Jang Won-seok will be guests of the Festival and present a Q&A following the film’s screening in Sydney.

In a directorial debut from Lee Chang-hee, The Vanished is a stylish psychological thriller that draws on Alfred Hitchcock and classic European Noir, as the body of a powerful businesswoman vanishes from the morgue and her trophy-husband becomes the key suspect.

DRAMAS:
For something more reserved, but still with a dramatic punch, A Haunting Hitchhike is the debut feature from Jeong Heejae – following the lonely, but hopeful, journey of one teenage girl seeking out her long-lost mother. The film won Jeong the special Audience Award at the Seoul International Women’s Film Festival.

In the spirit of Groundhog Day (1993), A Day is about a surgeon who returns home, eager to reconnect with his teenage daughter, only to find her killed by a taxi when he arrives. His nightmare worsens when he wakes up on the plane again and realises he must re-live the traumatic morning over and over again.

Addressing the issues of mixed-identity and connecting with your roots, Champion follows a lonely and unfilled former arm-wrestler as he returns to Korea from the United States to resume his sports career and search for his biological family.

In Last Child, a grieving couple mourn the tragic loss of their son after he drowned in a river saving his friend. The boy’s father takes an interest in his son’s friend, and his wife embraces him into their family. But the boy hasn’t told them the truth on what happened that day at the river. Similarly, in Mothers, a woman must take in her deceased husband’s teenage son from another marriage. Hesitant and unable to connect with him, the film explores complex relationships and family ties.

Stand by Me is a heart-warming story of a grandfather as he struggles to support his grandchildren, in their parents’ absence. Realising his time is short, and that his grandchildren can’t support themselves yet, he prepares a present for them that may be the very last thing he can give.

Those who love gritty crime dramas won’t be disappointed with Believer, about a troubled and obsessed detective hell-bent on arresting the main crime lord of Asia’s largest drug cartel. When a lab explosion wipes out most of the kingpin’s higher-ups, the lone survivor decides to help take the boss down for good. This gritty crime epic is a remake of Johnnie To’s 2012 award winning hit film Drug War.

COMEDY
I Can Speak is a delightful story of an unlikely friendship between a young, eager-to-please civil servant Min-jae and an elderly lady, nicknamed ‘Goblin Granny’. Terrorizing Min-jae daily, Goblin Granny strikes up a deal with him. When she learns he speaks English: she’ll stop the complaints in exchange for English lessons, so she can reconnect with her long-lost brother in America. I Can Speak is a lighthearted Korean comedy that packs a political punch.

What a Man Wants is a delicious dramedy exploring the taboos of infidelity. A habitual womaniser falls into a deep depression when his wife suddenly dies; his brother-in-law is miserable in his own marriage and finds his eyes wandering on an enchanting stranger. Things get messy when his wife hires her as to be the housekeeper for her womanising brother’s.

An absurd game of cat-and-mouse ensues between seven men when a misunderstanding during an assassination plot goes awry in Snatch Up. Part crime thriller part black comedy The Snatch Up is a laugh out loud look at the entwined destinies of seven men trying to get ahead in life.

Midnight Runners resembles buddy-cop favourites like 21 Jump Street (2012) and Police Academy (1984), but with an exciting and dark twist. A slow-witted jock and shy bookworm become best-friends during their time at Police University and, after witnessing a woman being kidnapped on a night out, the pair launch their own investigation.

HORROR:
Injecting some new life into the found-footage genre is Gonjiam: Haunted Asylum, which follows a team exploring an allegedly haunted asylum for a YouTube horror web-series. Unbeknownst to the team, the leader has staged a hoax to boost the video’s views – but when the scares veer off-script, they realise legitimate supernatural forces may be at work.

FANTASY:
The pretty and peculiar, Glass Garden, follows a brilliant Ph.D. student with a gift for communicating with nature as she goes deep into the forest after a heartbreak. She gets the attention of a novelist, whom she fascinates. However, he soon realises something mysterious is happening. Glass Garden is a pretty, peculiar fable that promises a compelling viewing experience.

Be with You is a love story that blends the perfect amount of warmth and melancholic sadness together. A grieving widower struggles to cope with the loss of his wife, alongside his devastated son, who firmly believes his mother will return during the rainy season, as said in his favourite fairy-tale. When she does return, the boys try to rebuild her memories and spend the rest of the season fearing what will happen to her when it ends.

2018 KOFFIA screening dates and locations:
Sydney: August 9 - 18 | Dendy Opera Quays
Brisbane: August 15 - 16 | Elizabeth Picture Theatre
Melbourne: September 6 - 13 | Australian Centre for the Moving Image
Canberra: September 21 - 23 | Palace Electric Cinema

Stay up to date with KOFFIA:
Website: www.koffia.com.au
Facebook: www.facebook.com/koreanfilmfestival

Tuesday, 17 July 2018

TAT AMPS UP MARKETING OF ‘THAILAND RIVIERA’

UNWTO will provide technical and marketing
support for the project; Hua Hin coast pictured.
‘Thailand Riviera’ – comprising the four coastal provinces of Phetchaburi, Prachuap Khiri Khan, Chumphon and Ranong – is expected to receive stronger marketing push from the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT), as part of the Ministry of Tourism and Sports’ comprehensive master plan develop the area’s full tourism potential.

Weerasak Kowsurat, minister of tourism and sports, earlier this month met with local authorities and representatives from various government agencies to move ahead with the next steps. The UNWTO has also been enlisted to provide technical and marketing support for the Thailand Riviera project.

The tourism minister stressed that the Thai government and related agencies will be closely involved in the entire development process, including tourism management, to ensure that its is implemented in a comprehensive, coordinated manner that pays equal attention to economic and ecological issues.

An important feature of the project has been the construction of a scenic 680km highway from Bangkok, which runs directly along the coastline with bike lanes. About 200 km have been completed and a 49km stretch is currently under construction, with the entire highway to be concluded in five years.

The platform of the Hua Hin Railway Station, a local heritage site dating back to the days when it was used by members of the royal family visiting the Mrigadayavan Summer Palace of King Vajiravudh (Rama VI), will be upgraded to reflect its unique design and architecture.

Read full article at TTGAsia: https://www.ttgasia.com/2018/06/28/tat-amps-up-marketing-of-thailand-riviera-as-area-goes-under-fast-track-development/

http://www.mekongtourism.org/

VIETNAM LOOKS NORTH

The stunning cityscape of Ho Chi Minh City
China continues to be a vital source market for Vietnam as efforts to boost the business events sector step up a gear.

Vu Nam, deputy director of Vietnam National Administration of Tourism (VNAT), said China is Vietnam’s top performer, with the country welcoming more than four million visitors in 2017 – a 48 per cent year-on-year increase.

He added the business events market is also of increasing importance, with a rising number of Chinese business travellers heading to central Vietnam, which is emerging as a hub for corporate gatherings.

Marketing campaigns highlighting the area’s capacity for hosting events, coupled with its long stretches of beaches and rich culture, will be stepped up throughout 2018, with VNAT attending a host of tradeshows and events this year to promote Vietnam’s potential to China.

As well, general destination promotion efforts by VNAT include launching a Mandarin website, hosting fam trips and increased advertising supported by a heftier budget.

Also tapping into China’s potential, is Asia DMC, which in December last year, created a dedicated business events department in China equipped with a Chinese- and English-speaking team. It offers a range of itineraries and services that take in a range of cultural activities – an element of business trips that the Chinese market is increasingly demanding.

Tran Thi Lan, Asia DMC’s head of Chinese market development, told TTGmice that Chinese planners especially seek “memorable, thematic experiences” that will leave their delegates impressed.

Nguyen Duc Quynh, deputy general director of Furama Resort Danang, has noted a rise in the number of Chinese visitors to the coastal city in central Vietnam in the last five years, since the commencement of the first China-Danang flight.

Furama Resort Danang is part of the larger Ariyana Tourism Complex, which comprises the new Ariyana Convention Centre, Furama Villas Danang and the International Convention Palace.

He added: “Prior to 2017, most Chinese guests visited Danang in leisure groups but now, more and more MICE groups are choosing Danang as the destination for their events.”

Three years ago, the five-star resort opened sales and marketing offices in Hong Kong, Shanghai and Guangzhou. A monthly newsletter in Mandarin about Furama’s facilities and business event activities is distributed to tour operators in China and Hong Kong, while a Mandarin version of its website is under construction.

In 2017, Chinese guests accounted for 12 per cent of Furama’s international guests, and this is expected to increase to 18 per cent by the end of this year.

Nguyen said: “This will definitely be achieved as the number of RFPs from China has increased by 45 percent.”

Read full article at TTGmice: https://www.ttgmice.com/2018/07/02/vietnam-looks-north/

http://www.mekongtourism.org/

Monday, 16 July 2018

RUILI AIRLINES ADDS PHNOM PENH SERVICE

Ruili Airlines based in Yunnan province, China, has started a new service to Cambodia’s capital Phnom Penh.

Tourism officials from Cambodia attending the Mekong Tourism Forum said it would boost tourism from Yunnan province, which is part of the Greater Mekong Sub-region.

“It will fill in a network gap as we lack air connectivity between Kunming and Phnom Penh, which is one of the closest Chinese cities to Cambodia,” the official told TTR Weekly.

Ruili Airlines started the service mid-June flying daily and using a 144-seat Boeing 737.

However, effective 13 July, the Kunming-Phnom Penh route will be served by the larger 186-seat Boeing 737-800 aircraft, on a three weekly schedule.

As of 13 July the flight will depart Kunming at 1440 and arrive in Phnom Penh at 1750 on Wednesday, Friday and Sunday.

Yunnan province will host the Mekong Tourism Forum in 2019 in Dali. The provincial authorities have yet to announce firm dates for the event, but it will be held in May to avoid clashes with other regional events such as the Thailand Travel Mart.

Ruili Airlines is based at Kunming Changshui International Airport and serves mainly domestic routes, but is expanding its international services mainly to Southeast Asia, using Boeing 737 aircraft.

Read full article at TTRWeekly: http://www.ttrweekly.com/site/2018/06/ruili-airlines-adds-phnom-penh-service/

http://www.mekongtourism.org/

HOW THAILAND’S RISING INFRASTRUCTURE IS RESHAPING TOURISM

Bangkok
Thailand’s infrastructure changes are helping the country reap the rewards from the tourism industry and Thailand’s tourism industry is at an all-time high. According to data from the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT), the Kingdom welcomed 17.3 million international visitors in the first half of 2017, generating 876 billion Baht (US$25 bn).

A lot of improvements can be seen in Bangkok, the country’s metropolis, and Phuket, a favourite holiday destination and tropical paradise. In January, hotel industry professionals convened and discussed the mega-projects that are reshaping Bangkok’s cityscape and its impact on tourism and hospitality sectors. The rising number of tourists gave confidence to the hotel sector.

“Thailand’s tourism industry continues to ride the crest of a wave, with record-breaking numbers of global visitors clamouring to experience the country’s many attractions,” C9 Hotelworks managing director Bill Barnett said.

“As the country’s capital and major international gateway, Bangkok is fast becoming one of the world’s great mega-cities,” he added.

A crossbreed of city and paradise
Phuket passenger arrivals increased by 19% after the completion of the newly upgraded and expanded international airport.

There is a dramatic shift with the travellers as they look for non-beach centric activities. This trend is seen as more retail and tourism attractions are developing on the island. Hotels and resorts are reaping the rewards as well with more check-ins.

Commenting on the changes in the landscape, Barnett, said: “Phuket is gradually transforming to a more urbanised holiday destination rather than a pure beach getaway. Resort-oriented retail is a rising force, with our data showing nearly 200,000 square meters of Grade A net lettable area in the pipeline.”

The rise in the number of tourists can also be attributed to the upsurge of low-cost airlines. According to Thailand-based consulting group C9 Hotelworks’ latest market research, as of May the number of direct flights to Phuket has risen to 23 with 19 from mainland China.

Read full article at Travel Daily Media: https://www.traveldailymedia.com/how-thailands-rising-infrastructure-is-reshaping-tourism/

http://www.mekongtourism.org/

Sunday, 15 July 2018

HUE AMBITIOUS TO BE VIETNAM’S GASTRONOMY CAPITAL

Local authorities in Hue have the ambitious plan of developing the city into the gastronomy capital of Vietnam to boost tourism.

Technically, the former imperial capital city of Hue is already the capital of Vietnamese gastronomy as it serves almost 1,700 of the country’s 3,000 dishes.

Local authorities and researchers, however, want a formal recognition, which will make Hue famous as the “city of food.”

The People’s Committee of Thua Thien-Hue Province, which includes Hue, recently announced a plan towards this end. Under the plan, authorities will work to build trademarks for prominent Hue dishes as well as create signatures for Hue food in general.

They will also put up signature boards at restaurants and eateries serving authentic Hue dishes for easier recognition by tourists.

Meanwhile, the local tourism sector has created tour programs for local cuisines, with the focus on street food, dishes made from ingredients taken from lagoons, folklore-styled and royal-styled main courses as well as Hue vegetarian food.

The itinerary will help visitors explore gardens growing fresh vegetables and witness the selection of ingredients in traditional markets as well as the cooking process.

According to Nguyen Van Phuc, deputy director of the local Tourism Department, the sector is working with a giant tourist operator from HCM City to build a museum for Hue food.

“Building a museum for Hue gastronomy is a must. We expect it to function perfectly for conservation of local food as well as to offer cuisines to visitors,” Phuc said.

He added that the local authorities were revoking a wide plot of land at the center of the city to set up the proposed museum. “It will have a space for study and showcasing the food, a space for dining and a space for visitors who want to join the chefs in making the food,” Phuc said.

The investor and local tourism department are working with experts and researchers across the country for documenting local dishes as well as their authentic ingredients and recipes.

In the meantime, Hue University of Tourism has proposed the construction of a culinary center, which will showcase Hue’s vast culinary variety as well as provide vocational training to students.

Nguyen Thi Thanh Nga, a lecturer who was involved in the proposal, said the centre would allow interactive communication between the cooks and visitors who want to have a deeper knowledge of Hue cuisine.

Every activity at the centre will be communicated in Vietnamese, English and French.

Read full article at Inquirer: http://lifestyle.inquirer.net/298966/hue-ambitious-vietnams-gastronomy-capital/#ixzz5KMMpAP9H

http://www.mekongtourism.org/

Saturday, 14 July 2018

WEST SIDE STORY BOUND FOR SYDNEY

Handa Opera on Sydney Harbour 2018 production of La Bohème.
Credit: Opera Australia/Hamilton Lund. 
Sydney will play host to one of the world’s greatest pieces of theatre, the much-loved West Side Story, when it takes to the stage at Handa Opera on Sydney Harbour next year.

Minister for Tourism and Major Events Adam Marshall said the production was secured by the NSW Government via its tourism and major events agency, Destination NSW, and will open in March 2019 for an exclusive four-week season.

“Every year we’re securing awe-inspiring performances exclusively for Sydney through Handa Opera, and I am delighted to see this world-famous production make its way to Australia’s Major Events State,” Mr Marshall said.

“We expect West Side Story to attract around 10,000 overnight visitors to Sydney, generating more than $10 million in visitor expenditure for NSW.”

West Side Story premiered on Broadway in 1957 with music by Leonard Bernstein and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim. The story is inspired by Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, with the action set in 1950s New York City.

The production will play on a magnificent stage at Fleet Steeps, Mrs Macquarie’s Point, from 22 March to 21 April 2019.

FOOD LOVERS SET FOR A FEAST AT THAI EAT ART GASTRONOMY FESTIVAL

The Tourism Authority of Thailand’s aim of creating a wide variety of attractions is focusing this month on culture and cuisine with the ‘Thai-Eat-Art-Gastronomy’ festival, set to be held in Bangsaen, Chonburi from June 29 – July 1.

The event will showcase traditional Thai cuisine to the world while providing a cultural experience to visitors and give insights into how the local foodstuffs are created and sourced.

Over 100 booths will be available at Laem Taen in Bangsaen for visitors to fully indulge in traditional Thai goods from all around the region. Five regions will have their own quota of food-stalls offering a range of tasty goods while more with 60 local shops and vendors will be invited for the occasion to display their goods and products.

This exhibition of gastronomy tourism will offer visitors a better insight into the art of Thai food and culture and the activity zone, with Thai traditional music showcased and played, will host live cooking stations with experienced chefs offering tips and advice on food creation.Read full article at Pattaya Mail: http://www.pattayamail.com/happenings/food-lovers-set-feast-thai-eat-art-gastronomy-festival-213577

HCM CITY MEDICAL TOURISM GUIDE RELEASED

The bilingual Ho Chi Minh City Medical Tourism Guide.
Photo: sggp.org.vn
The Ho Chi Minh City Department of Tourism and Department of Health has released a bilingual Medical Tourism Guide with basic information about travel and healthcare in the city.

The guidebook in Vietnamese and English has the names, addresses and phone numbers of 14 health facilities in the city, including the HCM City Heart Institute, Dermato-Venereology Hospital, HCM City Paediatrics Hospital, Odonto-Maxillo-Facial Hospital, Otalaryngology Hospital, University Medical Centre, Traditional Medicine Institute, Tu Du Hospital, Hoan My Hospital, and HCM City International Hospital.

en thousand copies will be distributed to tourist information and support centres, travel agents, hotels, and hospitals in the city.

The health facilities registered to be listed in the guidebook and were chosen after meeting the 24 criteria stipulated by the Department of Health related to facilities, medical staff, check-up and treatment, and prices, Nguyen Thi Huynh Mai, chief of the Department of Health office, said.

With a number of quality public and private hospitals, capable doctors, and low cost of treatment, the city’s hospitals have attracted a large number of international visitors coming for healthcare, she said.

Many hospitals offer advanced treatment in areas like organ transplant, robotic surgery, cardiovascular surgery, endoscopic surgery, obstetric and gynecological diseases, dentistry, and others.

Read full article at Nhan Dan: http://en.nhandan.org.vn/travel/item/6192802-hcm-city-medical-tourism-guide-released.html

http://www.mekongtourism.org/

Friday, 13 July 2018

Trang Moon Festival 2018 offers cultural shows, food stalls, contests and more

The unique frog-head tuk-tuk and
Sino-Portuguese building in Trang city
The ‘Trang Moon Festival’ has long been observed by Chinese people in Thung Yao in Trang province’s Palian district and the ‘Trang Moon Festival 2018’ is scheduled for this 22-24 September.

Through the staging of this traditional festival, the Chinese commemorate the fight for their nation against the Mongols. Trang province was one of Thailand’s trading ports and trade with the Chinese was frequent, thus many Chinese made Trang their home.

Highlights of the three-day ‘Trang Moon Festival 2018’ include Chinese food stalls, cultural performances, an antique exhibition, moon princess contest, ancient dessert making demonstrations, Thung Yao sweet tea tasting and an altar decorating contest.

Each year a beautiful altar is set up for the festival, to give thanks to the moon.

A southern province on the coast of the Andaman sea, Trang is known for its picturesque attractions which offer visitors plenty of sightseeing opportunities and unique Thai local experiences in and around the ‘Trang Moon Festival 2018’. These include Morakot Cave, Khao Kob Cave, Peninsular Botanic Garden, Pak Meng Beach, Chan Chala Night Market, Sivalai Beach and Hat Chao Mai National Park.

For more information, contact:
TAT Trang Office
Tel. +66 (0) 7521 5867; +66 (0) 7521 1058; +66 (0) 7521 1085
Email: tattrang@tat.or.th

THAILAND KEEPING TOURISM GREEN

A new law aimed at curbing environmental damage will go into effect in July on the Thai islands of Koh Samui, Koh Phangan and Koh Tao.

The new measures will include a strict ban for at least the next two years on the feeding of marine life, wastewater dumping, fishing or anchoring on coral reefs, walking on the seabed, and new seaside construction, according to Thailand’s Department of Marine and Coastal Resources Director Jatuporn Burutphat.

The government initiative follows a no-smoking and no-littering law that was enacted on the islands a few months ago.

“The amount of garbage and wastewater on these islands is so huge that it will become unbearable in the near future,” said Jatuporn “We have to think of the future.”

The moves to restore the coral reefs on the three islands have been widely applauded and follow closely on the heels of beach and island closures in the Andaman Sea to allow fish stocks, coral and the environment to recover. One of Thailand’s most popular attractions, Maya Beach, famous for its scenes in the Hollywood movie “The Beach” starring Leonardo Di Caprio, is among those destinations currently off limits to visitors.

Previously known as “Coconut Island” and home to but a handful of fishermen and farmers until the late 1970s, Koh Samui now receives more than a million visitors a year and produces some 250,000 tonnes of trash annually. The island’s only garbage incinerator has been broken for eight years.

“We are hoping this new environmental law could be a game-changer,” said Remko Kroesen, the general manager of Banyan Tree Samui, a secluded luxury resort that sits atop a cove with a coral reef. “Considering the critical state of the sea and our waterways on this small island, an eco-friendly initiative is well overdue. The threat from waste is very real.”

Banyan Tree is among a handful of resorts on Koh Samui that can hold its hand up for maintaining high environmental standards.

As a matter of regular practice, the resort recycles all plastic, metal and glass garbage, transports food waste to a local pig farm every other day, and treats all wastewater so that it can be re-used as fertilizer on the resort’s 38-acre property.

Likewise, on the north side of the island, Mantra Samui is another notable resort that has risen to the challenge. Aside from recycling wastewater for irrigation and gardening, the hotel also collects rainwater, which is discharged into a tank for filtration, then re-used throughout the hotel.

“In 2016, Koh Samui was experiencing the worst water shortage it had seen in over two decades,” said Niklas Wagner, general manager of Mantra Samui Resort. “We knew we had to cut back on water consumption and set about finding novel ways to recycle water.”

A stand-out effort is Banyan Tree Samui’s “coral regeneration” project whereby broken coral is brought onshore and treated, before being re-planted on the reef.

“Many people think corals are plants, but they’re not, they are invertebrate animals,” said marine biologist Loyjiw Thepsuda, the resort’s CSR manager.

Read full article at Live Trading News: https://www.livetradingnews.com/thailand-keeping-tourism-green-90378.html#.Wz3DAmWapAZ

http://www.mekongtourism.org/

MYANMAR’S ECO-RESORTS OPEN UP ASIA’S NEW TOURISM FRONTIER

The Myeik Archipelago, a chain of 800 largely pristine islands,
 is untouched by the mass tourism seen in neighboring Thailand.
Photo: davidvandriessche.com
A few hours boat ride from the port of Kawthaung, a school of dolphins nudged up to our 30-meter wooden junk. As the captain cut the engine, their silver backs heaved in and out of view; all else was still. Behind us, the Tanintharyi coastline — Myanmar’s skinny southern tail, fringing the Andaman Sea — had receded to a cut-out scene of blue hills.

Around us were islands topped with primordial rainforest and ringed with empty, white-sand beaches, limestone cliffs and mangrove thickets. Small wooden boats bobbed in sheltered bays, their crews snoozing until nightfall, when squid trapping would begin. Sea eagles careened high above. There was not a beep or a rumble from the mobile phones aboard the junk.

We were off the grid in Myanmar’s Myeik Archipelago, also known as the Mergui Archipelago — a chain of around 800 islands, spread over nearly 400km between the far-south ports of Myeik and Kawthaung.

The archipelago has been formally open for business since 1997, but thanks to cumbersome red tape, isolation and erratic investor sentiment it is a seascape largely unblemished by Myanmar’s rush to modernize. It is one of the few places in Southeast Asia where visitors can — for a price — have whole beaches, or even entire islands, to themselves.

But the archipelago is at a crossroads. Divergent models of tourism are being pursued. Small ecologically focused resorts, aimed mostly at Western travelers, have been launched, but large resorts, replete with casinos and yacht marinas, and aimed at a regional mass market, are also emerging. Companies and conglomerates, mostly Myanmar-based, have wrangled concessions for the most promising islands, though all but a few stand empty, awaiting developers.

Government policies that stress sustainability appear to favor the eco model, as do internationally backed conservation plans for the area. The Tanintharyi Tourism Development Committee, a government-backed group of entrepreneurs led by Serge Pun, a leading Myanmar tycoon, is working on a master plan for sustainable tourism that will include protected areas and other safeguards recommended by the U.K.-based conservation charity Flora & Fauna International.

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization has declared the Myeik Archipelago’s ecological system to be of “outstanding universal value.” But beneath the water, it is far from pristine. An FFI biodiversity survey issued this year recorded widespread coral degradation due to dynamite fishing and anchor dragging, and found that large predatory species such as sharks and rays were “notably absent” — a sign of an ecosystem damaged by overfishing and practices like bottom trawling.

However, these threats to biodiversity are not generally attributable to tourism. In fact, some believe responsible tourism could provide part of the answer. One is Bjorn Burchard, a Norwegian who moved to Myanmar in 1993 and has pursued various businesses — including a tour company called Moby Dick, on whose boat, the MV Sea Gipsy, I visited the archipelago in early May.

Burchard was a pioneer of beach tourism on Koh Samui, Thailand’s second biggest tourist island, in the 1980s. Then, he said, the island was a “paradise.” He left disillusioned by the hyper-development that had overtaken Samui and many other Thai islands catering to a mass tourism market. In search of unspoiled areas, he began to explore the Myeik Archipelago.

With local business partners, Burchard established the Boulder Bay Eco Resort, which occupies Boulder Island, near the outer reaches of the archipelago. The resort completed its second season this year, running entirely on solar energy, with no air-conditioning, which Burchard claims is unnecessary because of the plentiful sea breezes. The island also hosts marine biologists from Project Manaia, a small Austria-based marine research organization that has created coral nurseries, and the resort’s proceeds have been used to bring in local students from Myeik University.

Other resort projects have also tried to project environmental credentials, albeit through more luxury offerings. Wa Ale Island Resort, a newly completed American investment, resulted from a 2015 Myanmar Forestry Department tender for an eco-resort in Lampi Marine National Park, which lies within the archipelago.

Read full article at Nikkei Asian Review: https://asia.nikkei.com/Life-Arts/Life/Myanmar-s-eco-resorts-open-up-Asia-s-new-tourism-frontier

http://www.mekongtourism.org/