UNWTO’s Rifai got it wrong

June 23, 2017 by  
Filed under Don Ross, Travel Logs

BANGKOK, 23 June 2017: At about the same time as Otto Warmbier was shipped out of North Korea in a coma on a flight home to the US, UNWTO secretary general, Taleb Rifai, was preaching the good news that tourism could build international relations with North Korea.

Warmbier never regained consciousness. He died at home from serious brain damage caused by the brutal treatment meted out by guards at a North Korean prison where he was incarcerated for 17 months.

His crime? He pilfered a political poster from his hotel as a memento of his trip, just minutes before he left for the airport. He never made that flight and the last time he was seen in public was during a public televised viewing of his sentencing when he cried for mercy. Read more

Mekong Tourism: Is there a way forward?

June 14, 2017 by  
Filed under Don Ross, Travel Logs

LUANG PRABANG, 14 June 2017: “We shouldn’t repeat the mistakes of others, I am not happy with tourism development and be careful what you wish for,” were some of the cryptic comments of panelists at last week’s Mekong Tourism Forum.

Asked to talk about the way forward, 20 years after the first MTF convened in Thailand, a new generation appears to be ready to grapple with tough decisions and choices.

Their comments followed the official presentation of the GMS Tourism Strategy Draft Report 2016 to 2025 and a thought provoking keynote address by Conscience Travel Founder, Anna Pollock, who told the travel industry it isn’t an industry. Read more

ADB funds flow to the Mekong

June 12, 2017 by  
Filed under Don Ross, Mekong, Travel Logs

BANGKOK, 12 July 2017: Achieving balance in Mekong Region tourism was the underlying theme of keynote addresses and discussions at breakout sessions during the 20th Mekong Tourism Forum held last week in the World Heritage town of Luang Prabang in Laos.

But will the region’s tourism policy makers listen to the call for caution, balance and possibly a rethink of long-term goals?

The region known as the Greater Mekong Sub-region (GMS) is heading for an astounding tourist head count of 66.9 million this year and based on the GMS Tourism Sector Strategy 2016 to 2025 the region is on track to welcome 95 million visitors by 2025. Read more

Lifetime vocation attending travel shows

June 5, 2017 by  
Filed under Don Ross, Travel Logs

BANGKOK, 5 June 2017: June is a reminder that Asia’s travel trade scene is packed with events that will change how you do business, talk fests that entertain and a smattering of the old fashioned travel shows that motor on despite disruptive technology.

This week, the Mekong Tourism Forum convenes in Luang Prabang, a World Heritage town and a premier destination driving tourism to Laos. It is six years since the forum was last held in Laos when it convened in Pakse.

Many of the faces have changed, but most of the core issues have not.  At the MTF 2011 in Pakse organisers rolled out the theme, “Destination Mekong: The Making of a Star,” while this year the focus is on “Prosper with Purpose”. Following each event the theme is deposited in a box appropriately named “been there done that”. Read more

China: Thai travel industry can’t survive without it

May 22, 2017 by  
Filed under Don Ross, Travel Logs

BANGKOK, 22 May 2017: There is food for thought in the latest KSC report on China’s outbound travel market to Thailand. The bank’s think-tank forecasts full recovery later this year in a market that has suffered decline.

Hotels should be happy to hear that the Q4 2016 decline in arrivals from China and a sluggish performance in the first quarter of the year will soon give way to robust travel bookings during the second half of the year. That’s what KSC’s usually reliable forecast tells us, but whenever we post a report on the positive travel trends in the Thai market, it usually accompanies comments from readers who think the bank and probably TTR Weekly suffer from ostrich syndrome. So are KSC researchers burying their heads in the sand? Or perhaps accepting at face value data supplied by government agencies without offering an alternative view? Read more

Cats star in Inle tourism tale

May 19, 2017 by  
Filed under Don Ross, Myanmar, Travel Logs

MYANMAR, 19 May 2017: Posh and poor cats are among the top tourist attractions on Inle Lake. At the top end of the social ladder, pretentious purebreds lap up a life of luxury at Inle Heritage Foundation.

At the other extreme, working-class cats used to jump through hoops for snacks at the famous Nge Phe Chaung Monastery located on the western shore of the lake.  In recent years, the monks ordered their retirement, but they remain in residence pensioned off to slumber in the shade of the timbered temple. Noted for its magnificent collection of Buddha images, throngs of tourists continue to visit the teak wood monastery and still call it the ‘Jumping Cat Monastery.’ It’s kind of flattering for the working-class cats, but despite the recognition they are never going to quite make it to the luxurious lifestyle that the purebreds enjoy at Inle Heritage Foundation. Read more

Fly less explore more

May 15, 2017 by  
Filed under Don Ross, Myanmar, Thailand, Travel Logs

CHIANG RAI, 15 May 2017: Myanmar’s e-Visa is changing the country’s travel landscape and opening alternative tourist routes linked to Thailand’s far north.

The e-Visa is convenient, easy on the wallet and once you are online applying for it you will probably stay online to research and book a travel itinerary that will be a perfect fit. Read more

Tough times for travel agents

May 15, 2017 by  
Filed under Don Ross, Travel Logs

BANGKOK, 15 May 2017: The monthly Association of Thai Travel Agents data on travellers booked with its member companies should sound a warning to travel agency owners that all is not well with their business model.

Declines are showing up in the figures counted at Bangkok’s two gateway airports based on clients booked on member company tours. Yet, the Ministry of Tourism’s month figures show a healthy growth in travel to the country even if you take out the dubious overland arrivals that mix tourists and border traders. Read more

Cheapskates irritate Thais

May 8, 2017 by  
Filed under Don Ross, Travel Logs

BANGKOK, 8 May 2017: Perhaps it was a storm in a teacup, but social media pundits were having a go last week at Western tourists who travel Thailand without dipping into their own wallets. It’s almost a competition to see who can travel the furthest and longest on charity.

Hardly something to brag about, especially on your Facebook pages, but some couldn’t resist the temptation and the bragging rights that go with zero-dollar travel.

Apart from irate Thais who thought the freeloaders should be deported, the entire concept of travel on the cheap flies in the face of Thai government’s policies and ambitions for tourism. Read more

Thanks India for easy visas

April 10, 2017 by  
Filed under Don Ross, Editor's Post, Travel Logs

BANGKOK, 10 April 2017: India might be a giant in the outbound travel stakes capable of  challenging even China in the long-run, but it is often classed as an under achiever in the lucrative inbound travel market.

That is likely to change as India continues to liberalise and open its visa procedures.

Last year, India attracted 8.89 million visits in 2016, representing an increase of 10.2%. Some of the credit for growth should go to the government’s decision make it easier to obtain visas. Read more

« Previous PageNext Page »