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Help line 1111 or 1155 ?

[ Tourism News ] Posted by admin on 2015/3/24 16:00:00 (905 reads)
Bangkok, 24 March 2015 : The Thai government has launched yet another hotline, this time 1111, to receive complaints from foreigners visitors or residents in Thailand.

The new help line is in addition to the existing 1155 Tourist Police Call Centre. There was no explanation why the country needed two help lines for the single task of assisting tourists in trouble.

It might suggest the Tourist Police line is unable to handle the volume, or there could be doubts that the Tourist Police are capable resolving issues efficiently.

However, in a press release announcing the new service the Tourism Authority of Thailand advised that in emergencies, foreigners should continue to use the Tourist Police service at 1155.

TAT did not clarify what constitutes an emergency, but usually a call to the Tourist Police is often prompted by a crime or scam that creates a crisis for the visitor.

The 24-hour Tourist Police Call Centre claims to offer assistance to both tourists and foreign residents in Thailand.

There are interpreters on standby to handle emergency calls and in some cities the Tourist Police recruit foreigners as volunteers to assist officers.

For non-emergency matters, foreigners are advised to call 1111.

The centre, also available 24 hours and is staffed by representatives from 20 ministries to ensure prompt response to complaints.

According to the TAT press release, pressing cases that are beyond the centre's jurisdiction will be referred to the respective government agencies.

Complaints received will be coordinated through the centre to related government agencies, state enterprises, and non-governmental organisations.

The government plans to expand the 1111 centre's cover to Thai embassies in the ASEAN region soon.

The move is part of a government review of all safety measures, but there is not evidence of any checks and balances to ensure the service works and is a useful channel to improve safety and deal with problems.

There is also considerable duplication in so-called tourist help centres. Both TAT and the Ministry of Tourism and Sports have help desks at Suvarnabhumi Airport in addition to the Tourist Police.

Even in small airports such as Chiang Rai, there is a Ministry of Tourism and Sports centre with three staff and it is doubtful if they have more than a couple of enquiries a day if any.

There is also a Tourist Police office close by, usually with a sign posted on the window of the empty cubicle identifying the officer in charge, who is absent.

Officers are more likely to be found sitting at a nearby tea shop, but that nugget of information is not mentioned in the window notice.

The Ministry of Tourism and Sports does not provide updates on how its assistance centres operate to show their cost effectiveness, but they are over staffed.

A quarterly report on their performance and the kind of assistance they offered would add transparency and indicate to the public if the service is worth the investment. Most of the assistance and help centres were responses to a crisis such as the Bangkok flood in 2012 or the earlier tsunami in South Thailand. Government agencies had to show they were responding to a crisis but once it had passed the centres were considered busy if a couple of tourists visited the centre to obtain a city map.

The ministry will, of course ,claim staff are busy every day serving hundreds of tourists, but as they provide little or no feedback on the monthly visits and nature of the assistance provided the media is left to guess just what those people do all day sitting in airport gold-fish bowls. What we can be sure of is duplication of costs and resources.

Duplication confuses visitors, but it makes for excellent PR. It creates new versions so officials can gain another round of publicity to show they are achieving results, The media is not expected to return six months later and ask; "did it work, did you help any tourists?"

Once a service has been introduced, there is little accountability or assessment to indicate results.. The staff are almost forgotten, or from time-to-time they might be called to meet-and-greet a VIP from Bangkok. They may even get to stand in line while the minister makes a cursory tour. Catch the minister's attention, it might be a passport out of the gold-fish bowl of boredom and the start of a real career in tourism.
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TAT motors on at 55

[ Tourism News ] Posted by admin on 2015/3/19 16:00:00 (737 reads)
BANGKOK, 19 March 2015 : The Tourism Authority of Thailand marked its 55th anniversary at an event, Wednesday, attended by senior TAT officials as well as members of the tourism private sector and media.

Established as the Tourism Organisation of Thailand in 1960, TAT has been at the forefront of the country's tourism marketing efforts. It has undertaken numerous marketing campaigns, worldwide, to help boost visitor arrivals and make tourism one of the most important job creators and foreign exchange earning industries.

Invited guests were asked not to present TAT with flowers but to make donations to the National Elephant Institute.

A special video highlighting the progress of the Thai tourism industry over the last 55 years is being produced. It is designed to help enhance product development, encourage the Thai people to be good hosts and preserve their heritage and traditions, and better manage their indigenous tourism resources.

The latest promotional campaign "2015 Discover Thainess", now in full swing worldwide, has a target of 28 million visitors and an estimated THB1.35 trillion (USD41 billion) revenue from international visitors, and an estimated THB800 billion (USD24.3 billion) from domestic visitors.

TAT is also partnering with Thai Airways International, which is also marking its 55th anniversary, this year, to promote the "2015 Discover Thainess" campaign in both the domestic and international markets, especially Europe, North America, Asia and the ASEAN countries.

Thai Airways will produce publicity material for the "2015 Discover Thainess" campaign and all the 55th anniversary projects before the start of the Songkran Festival mid-next month. Special videos will also be produced for in-flight screening on all Thai Airways routes.

For the domestic market, TAT will promote tourism to Royal Projects, nationwide, as well as Fly and Bike tourism. Thai Airways has recently announced that bikes can be checked in without extra charges (similar to golf clubs) as long as the passenger does not exceed the weight allowance.

Bangkok Airways has offered the same concession for the last two year.

Applications are open for the 10th Thailand Tourism Awards, which will be conferred at a ceremony in September 2015. These are designed to recognise companies and individuals that have contributed significantly to advancing the sustainability and creativity of Thai tourism products.
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Agoda thinks Buri Ram is fresh

[ Tourism News ] Posted by admin on 2015/3/13 15:50:00 (739 reads)
BURI RAM, 13 March 2015 : Buri Ram in Northeast Thailand has been named one of Asia's freshest emerging vacation spots for 2015, according to

Released earlier this week, Agoda's 2015 list of Fresh Destinations named eight places that will be trendy for travellers in the near future.

The eigh destinations were : Penghu, Taiwan; Chitwan National Park, Nepal; Pangandaran, Indonesia; Yufuin, Japan; Coorg (Kodagu), India; Buri Ram, Thailand; Mount Emei, China; and Sokcho, South Korea.

"Now in its fifth year, the 2015 Fresh Destination list is drawn from data on consumer travel trends with editorial oversight and review. To make the list, a destination needs to be in the top of 2014 booking trends and customer review ratings and meet tight editorial standards," the release read.

"This year, we limited the choices to destinations that have less than 70 properties but have seen a notable jump in bookings when compared to the previous year."

Buri Ram is one of the places chosen for the Tourism Authority of Thailand's "Cities That Can't Be Missed" campaign this year as it has a variety of attractions some linked to sports, but the main attractions are its Khmer temple ruins.

Besides its historical culrure sites, the province also has a motor sports stadium and is home to a leading Thai football team, Buriram United, that plays in the Thai Premier League.

Nok Air also offers daily flights on the Bangkok-Buri Ram route while Thai AirAsia will start a daily service on 2 April.
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Ayutthaya hosts Muay Thai extravaganza

[ Tourism News ] Posted by admin on 2015/3/13 15:30:00 (708 reads)
BANGKOK, 13 March 2015 : Eight hundred Muay Thai fighters from 60 countries have registered to attend the 11th Wai Kru Muay Thai Ceremony, 17 March, in Ayutthaya.

The ceremony is part of the Nai Khanomtom Day, which will be held, 15 to 20 March, at Wat Chula Mani, Wat Maha That and Wat Langkhakhao in the Ayutthaya Historical Park as well as at the Ayutthaya Provincial Sports Stadium, 70 km north of Bangkok.

The 11th Wai Kru Muay Thai Ceremony will showcase some of the rituals of Thai boxing, a martial art that has kicked itself into the world's spotlight over the years and gained fans the world over.

The objective of this event is also to help people to understand the meaning of the Wai Kru ceremony, which is an important element of Thai boxing.

Tourism Authority of Thailand governor Thawatchai Arunyik said : "Thailand is the home country of Muay Thai, and the Wai Kru Muay Thai Ceremony and Nai Khanomtom Day form part of the many cultural assets that make Thailand a very unique destination. The event also corresponds with TAT's 2015 Discover Thainess campaign, which highlights a range of tourism activities that allow tourists to immerse themselves in the Thai way of life, Thai culture and Thai experiences; such as, Thai boxing, Thai cooking and Thai dance."

Prior to the ceremony, there will be presentations from various Muay Thai camps and gyms. Visitors will also get the chance to observe craftsmanship demonstrations, Yantra tattooing and writings, Aranyik sword-making and Thai martial art performances.

In the afternoon of the same day, the Amazing Mauy Thai Tournament will take place at Wat Langkhakhao (opposite Wat Maha That). Highlights include a special match between Buakaw Banchamek, a famous Thai welterweight Muay Thai kickboxer, against two Muay Thai fighters-Kaolan Kaovichit and Yodsingdaeng Jor Chaijinda.

On 15 to 16 March, there will be a Nai Khanomtom Super Mini Marathon in honour of Nai Khanomtom, who was the most famous Muay Thai fighter of the Ayutthaya period and respected by Thai boxers to this day.

Muay Thai classes, exhibitions highlighting the history of Muay Thai and Nai Khanomtom, and a Muay Thai tournament will convene 18 to 20 March.
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Smog in the North

[ Tourism News ] Posted by admin on 2015/3/11 15:10:00 (776 reads)
CHIANG MAI, 11 March 2015 : A smog covering most of northern Thailand will discourage tourism as air pollution hit unhealthy levels and hospitals issue warnings.

Officials admit that northern provinces are now in the grip of a health threatening smog caused by the wholesale burning of paddy fields and forests across Laos, Thailand and Myanmar.

In Chiang Rai province officials confirmed they had instructed all districts to adopt strict measures to end burning including that of domestic waste. Only a few districts in Chiang Rai town have garbage collection, leaving thousands of villages across the province to burn rubbish, usually at night, or just before dawn to avoid detection.

But the major damage comes from paddy and forest burning. Farmers burn the fields to prepare for the planning of the next rice crop, but the wholesale burning of forests is an encroachment by plantation owners who illegal occupy vast stretches of hillside, burn and clear them to plant rubber, palm oil trees.

Chiang Mai Provincial Public Health Office has instructed hospitals to prepare medical supplies for more patients suffering from smog-triggered illnesses, as the air pollution in the north remains severe.

An office executive, Surasing Wisaruthrat, said that 70,000 to 80,000 facemasks would also be distributed to at-risk persons, especially those living in outer districts where field burning and wildfires usually occurred.

Tiny particles registered in downtown Chiang Mai on Tuesday were reported at 253 microgrammes per cubic metre at Yupparaj Wittayarai Scholl in the province town and 247 microgrammes per cubic metre at the Provincial Hall in town, which were beyond the safety level of 120 microgrammes per cubic metre (PM10).

These levels are seriously unhealthy causing respiratory infections, smarting eyes, coughs and headaches.

According to the Department of Pollution Control, prompt action needs to be taken to deal with the smoke haze and bush fire situation in many provinces of the northern region.

The department general director, Vichien Joongroongraung, said last Friday the overall air quality in the upper northern region, especially Chiang Mai, deteriorated due to an increase of sub10 micron dust particles in the air.

Bush fires were raging in the area of Doi Suthep national park which caused smog to blanket Chiang Mai last Friday. Other hard hit areas were Muang and Mae Moh districts in Lampang; and the Muang districts in the province of Phrae and Mae Hong Son.

The department has instructed responsible units to come up with urgent measures to control burning in open fields and to cope with bush fires, to alleviate the situation that affects the health of a million local residents of the area.

Late last week, the Third Army Area has sent out water and fire trucks around Lampang to reduce haze and air pollution, which has covered the province since January this year.

Officials also encouraged local residents to spray water in their house gardens and the front lawns, as well as avoid buring garbage until the air quality becomes normal.

Source: Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment's Pollution Control Department
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