How accurate are tourist spend estimates?

October 9, 2017 by  
Filed under Don Ross, Travel Logs

CHIANG RAI, 10 October 2017: I always thought I got the best beach deal on a room when in the early 1970s I stayed in an A-Frame wooden “villa” with a rickety balcony and a view of the entire expanse of Phuket’s Karon bay stretching 7 km into the distance.

Run by a Karon-born family, the cluster of A-Frame huts was a perched on a rocky outcrop at the southern tip of Karon.  For THB300 a night the owner threw in a hearty breakfast. There were no plus, plus calculations when the bill arrived and the only proof you had of your stay was a scratchy record in a crumpled exercise book.

I was telling this tale to a 23-year old traveller, who is heading for Phuket this week. We were sharing travel notes separated by almost 50 years. Read more

Cruise beyond money matters

August 25, 2017 by  
Filed under Don Ross, Myanmar, Travel Logs

BANGKOK: Heritage Line a river cruise operator in Myanmar is a mite shy about sharing its prices online so discovering just how amazing the latest offers are becomes problematic for the online booker.

But there is definitely demand for river cruises in Myanmar from travellers who want to explore rural scenes beyond the popular urban destinations; Yangon, Mandalay and Bagan.

Just this week a Singaporean traveller asked me what I thought about cruising between Mandalay and Bagan? Read more

Cut the cost of a China visa

August 4, 2017 by  
Filed under Don Ross, Travel Logs

BANGKOK, 4 August 2017: China has been making it easier to travel to and through the country without any cost since last year. But the message might not be getting through.

UK’s Independent newspaper alerted UK travellers that they can now visit Shanghai stay for up to six days on what is for all intents and purposes a free transit visa. Read more

Airlines in sneaky seat squeeze

August 3, 2017 by  
Filed under Don Ross, Travel Logs

BANGKOK, 3 August 2017: Passengers measuring leg room between airline seats is not a trendy habit in Asia, but apparently it’s a hot topic in the US.

CNN reported the squeeze on the typical airline seat made it all the way to a Congress hearing when the spotlight shone on how airlines have quietly eroded the centimetres between seat rows.

CNN reported that American Airlines is planning to squeeze in more seats on its new Boeing 737 Max aircraft due for introduction later this year. Apart shaving space between seat rows it may also introduce slim-fit  toilets. Read more

Art shines In Her Eyes

July 25, 2017 by  
Filed under Don Ross, Events, Travel Logs

CHIANG RAI, 25 July 2017: An art exhibition by 26 female artists living in this far-north Thai province, underscores efforts to brand Chiang Rai as a “City of Art.”

The ‘In Her Eyes’ exhibition opened last Saturday at the town’s ArtBridge that has more than 300 members many of them artists in their own right and residents who support the arts. The exhibition runs until 20 August displaying more than 60 paintings.

Efforts to brand Chiang Rai based on its strong art community date back to 2015 when the Tourism Authority of Thailand and the Ministry of Tourism and Sports funded an exercise to assist the province to discover a path to branding its tourism identity.

A series of seminars were held after the inaugural briefing and presentations at the town’s Legend Hotel. Nothing much came of the initiative until earlier this year, when it became apparent tourism officials had settled on the tag “City of Art”. Very little has been carried out since to present the branding to the province’s travel industry and the TAT office in Chiang Rai was conspicuous by its absence from the launch of the In Her Eyes exhibition. Read more

Exception to a rule

July 18, 2017 by  
Filed under Don Ross, Travel Logs

CHIANG RAI, 18 July 2017: I thought it was a pretty simple decision to make. I wouldn’t ride elephants. But that all changed when my grandson visited last month.

“Grandpa,” he said just minutes after he exited Chiang Rai’s airport terminal building after a six-hour flight from Singapore, “I want to ride an elephant”.

Grand fathers are not supposed to pontificate on what’s politically correct. They make things happen, perhaps beyond the peripheral vision of mum and dad. Anyway, he wasn’t going to take no for an answer.  That’s when I realised that there are always exceptions to the best of rules. Read more

Reputation rules the roost

July 13, 2017 by  
Filed under Don Ross, Travel Logs

BANGKOK, 13 July 2017: A country’s tourism rises and falls on its reputation and also on what research identifies as its emotional connection, or how international travellers relate to and perceive a destination.

Apparently Thailand has plenty in the positive emotional connection department, according to the 2017 Country RepTrax study, released last week, but it needs to work on its overall reputation index.

Reputation Institution established in 1997 has been tracking the reputation score of 55 top GDP countries worldwide for the last 12 years. Read more

Farewell to the Dusit Thani

July 4, 2017 by  
Filed under Don Ross, Travel Logs

BANGKOK, 4 July 2017: Whatever the PR spin, there is a sense of sadness knowing the iconic Dusit Thani Bangkok, will be torn down to make way for a new flagship hotel for its owning company Dusit International.

Just over 48 years after it opened to the public in February 1970, the hotel will close 16 April 2018 to allow demolition teams to move in.

I remember the opening party that attracted Bangkok socialites, business leader and the media. I worked at the Bangkok Post at the time, just a block away from the brand new hotel on Rama IV road. At the opening party I was introduced to the general manager who represented the US chain Westin, the only foreign chain ever to manage the hotel. They didn’t stay long enough to make a real impression. Read more

No bond between airlines and agents

June 29, 2017 by  
Filed under Don Ross, Travel Logs

BANGKOK, 29 June 2017: Are airlines quietly denying travel agencies the oxygen of a competitive fare? Or perhaps they smothering their business partner quietly with a fluffy pillow, praying the old codger would breathe his last and be gone?  Sadly it looks that way for the almost pensioned travel agent.

Long gone are the days when airlines depended on travel agencies for the bulk of their bookings. The very notion of keeping back a best-of-its-class fare was unheard of when travel agencies ruled the roost. Just the hint that a better deal could be sourced elsewhere would have brought the travel agency community down on the hapless airline like a ton of bricks.

I had almost forgot the love-hate relationship between airlines and travel agencies. I just assumed that if I sourced a great fare on an airline website that the airline would still be looking out for its faithful business partner, the traditional travel agency. The same fare would be available to a loyal agent. All I had to was ask. No such luck. Read more

Asian airlines dominate Skytrax’s top 10

June 27, 2017 by  
Filed under Don Ross, Travel Logs

BANGKOK, 27 June 2017: Asian airlines dominated Skytrax’s 2017 top 10 rankings of the World Airlines Awards taking six of the 10 leading slots.

Qatar Airways took the top award, but Singapore Airlines was a close second, while Japan’s ANA was third, Cathay Pacific fifth, Taiwan’s EVA sixth, China’s Hainan ninth and Indonesia’s Garuda 10th.

Middle East Airlines, Qatar (first) Emirates, fourth and Etihad, eighth, illustrated the brand strength of the three gateway carriers that now carry the lion’s share of the traffic between Southeast Asia and Europe. Read more

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