Distinction in travel journalism
Is independent travel journalism important to you?
Click here to keep it independent

30 Dec, 2004

Tsunami Update 8: Thailand in Heavy-Duty Crisis Management Mode

The latest updates, announcements and appeals from the Thai government and Tourism Authority of Thailand, the Malaysian government, Emirates, PATA, Diethelm Travel, Taj Hotels and Resorts, Bali Crisis Center for Natural Disaster and International Institute for Peace through Tourism. The PATA announcement is particularly noteworthy for those looking to boost the distribution of ‘good news’.



CHRIS WONG, CHIEF EXECUTIVE, COOK ISLANDS TOURISM CORPORATION: We in the South Pacific have watched with horror as TV News and electronic media reports have unfolded the extent of damage and loss of human lives in countries affected by the Tsunami. Through TIN please allow me to express our deepest sympathies and condolences to all those who have lost loved ones in this major catastrophe. Your updates are helping to provide a sense of balance in reporting to the international travel market. It is my hope that as citizens of this planet and as members of the global tourism family we will rally together and comfort those who have suffered personal losses and support those in need of help.



# Emergency assistance

The Thai government has arranged to provide free accommodation, food and medical care at six selected public and private hospitals to those affected by the disaster. Senior TAT executives are on-site in three key locations to direct and supervise operations and provide immediate assistance to tourists.

TAT staff are on high alert and have been working actively in cooperation with airlines, government officials and the private sector to ensure relief and the safe return of international visitors to their home country.

TAT Tourist Assistance Counters

Tourist Assistance Counters manned by TAT staff have been set up in Phuket, Phang-nga, Krabi, Don Muang Airport and Thammasat University Rangsit Centre.

With many tourists still in their swim suits and left without any other belongings such as clothes, footwear, cash/wallets and travel documents when the tsunami hit, TAT is seeking donations of essential items from major retailers and department stores in Bangkok; these are being handed out at relief centres and airports.

Issue of Replacement Identification Documents

International visitors who have lost their passports are being issued a Certificate of Identification as a temporary substitute to facilitate their departure from Thailand. Representatives of embassies of 30 countries are currently stationed in Phuket to provide aid and the necessary identification papers to citizens of their countries.

The Tourist Police of Phuket and Krabi are being assisted by the regular police force to set up a tourist police call centre that can be reached at 1155.

24-Hour Hotline & Call Centre

To enable family members and friends to call toll-free from overseas, TAT has set up an international hot line number — +66 21672

TAT Assistance in Locating Family Members

TAT has set up Tourist Information Centres to help visitors and family members establish contact with relatives and friends. To report missing family members or friends, please e-mail: center@tat.or.th

TAT Information Centres and Crisis Communication Centre

TAT offices are also coordinating with embassies to assist family members and friends concerned about the welfare of stranded, injured or missing tourists, keeping them informed of the latest developments. TAT offices in the affected areas are sending regular updates to TAT offices worldwide. TAT has also dispatched a survey team to the affected sites to assess the situation.

Tour guides

In support of evacuation and relief efforts, TAT is also coordinating with various parties to mobilise tour guides in various languages to assist English-speaking as well as European, Scandinavian and Russian tourists. Some of the tour guides are backing up TAT staff at TAT Tourist Assistance Centres.

Announcements are also being broadcasted on Thai TV channels throughout the day to recruit university student volunteers and other volunteers who are able to speak a range of foreign languages to be deployed at the airports, the Thammasat University Rangsit Centre and at various hospitals.

Free International Calls for Visitors

The Communications Authority of Thailand (CAT) has set up centres in Patong Beach in Phuket, Takua Pa and Kok Loi in Phang Nga, Krabim in Trang and Satun to provide free international calls to visitors wishing to call family and friends back home. CAT staff are also distributing free international call cards in other areas.

TAT Crisis Management Centre

Furthermore, to facilitate and support relief efforts, TAT’s Crisis Management Centre situated on the 10th. Floor of the TAT head-office on Petchaburi Road, is open 24 hours.

TAT is also coordinating with embassies and consulates in Thailand which are directly involved in the relief effort.

The Royal Thai Embassy in different countries around the world are also serving as an information centre for the local media, while TAT representatives, the Tourist Police and Thai Hotels Association (THA) are working together to provide critical information.

Families seeking casualty information about family members who are foreign nationals in Thailand should deal directly with their embassies and consulates in Thailand as they will be the first to be informed of any wounded or injured.

# The evacuation and safe return of tourists

Airline partners — THAI Airways International, Bangkok Airways, Air Asia, Orient Air, Phuket Air, Nok Air and the Royal Thai Air Force (C130 aircraft) — have pledged their full support and are providing free service for those injured and in need of medical treatment.

Evacuation flights will continue non-stop until all stranded and injured tourists and passengers have been flown back to Bangkok. It is expected that the mission will be completed within 48 hours as of 28 December 2004.

Working with the full cooperation of local airline partners, a total of 45 evacuation flights were flown on 27 December and by the afternoon of 28 December 2004, 2,000 passengers and tourists had been evacuated from the affected areas and flown back to Bangkok on scheduled flights as well as special chartered flights.

Upon arrival at Don Muang Airport in Bangkok, tourists in need of medical attention are immediately directed to THAI’s Royal Executive Lounge were a medical team are on stand-by to provide medical care and First Aid. A team of 40 TAT staff are stationed at Don Muang airport to offer assistance to tourists.

Germany, Canada, Italy and the Netherlands have also dispatched aircraft to pick up their respective citizens.


Coordination with the Thai Hotels Association (THA)

THA is coordinating with its members to provide accommodation for tourists in Bangkok and surrounding areas. A total of 500 rooms were secured for 27 December with an additional 200 rooms being made available on 28 December.

Additional Accommodation

Every attempt is being made to find decent accommodation for all tourists evacuated from the beach resorts. With December being the peak holiday season, the majority of hotels in Bangkok are operating at close to full capacity hence special arrangements have been made to provide additional accommodation at Thammasat University residence halls and Sukhothai University residence halls.

At both these locations, tourists are provided with clothing and other essentials, free meals, medical attention if needed, and free Internet access to contact family and friends.

More rooms are being arranged to receive the many thousands more expected to arrive. Chain hotels are also helping to transfer guests to their properties in Bangkok.

# Coordination with the Association of Thai Travel Agents (ATTA)

ATTA has despatched 15 coaches to affected areas to transfer tourists to hotels and hospitals in Bangkok as well as to drop tourists off at homes in the suburbs of the city.



KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 29 (Bernama) — Most public celebrations to usher in 2005 have been cancelled or postponed following a call by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi that prayers be conducted instead. Two New Year’s eve concerts scheduled to be held here have been deferred as a mark of respect for victims of the killer tsunami.

One concert at Dataran Merdeka was to have been aired live by TV3. The other is “Countdown 2005” organised by Petronas at Kuala Lumpur City Centre (KLCC) that was to appear on TV3 as a delayed telecast the following night.

AmBank Group Public Affairs Director Syed Anuar Syed Ali told Bernama that all parties agreed to defer the event to a date to be fixed later. Deputy Information Minister Datuk Zainudin Maidin said Radio Televisyen Malaysia (RTM) had cancelled all special programmes scheduled for broadcast over TV1 and TV2 on New Year’s eve.

He told Bernama that the Radio Muzik Gempaq show, which was to be staged at the Kulim High-Tech Park and expected to be attended by 50,000 people on Friday night had also been cancelled.

The Shah Alam City Council (MBSA) cancelled the “Ambang 2005” programme on the launch of Selangor as a developed state and the closing ceremony of the K-Komuniti (TK2) programme planned for Friday night at Dataran Kemerdekaan Shah Alam.

“Instead, MBSA with the cooperation of the Sultan Salahuddin Abdul Aziz Shah Mosque will hold a tahlil on Dec 31 after Maghrib prayers. The public, especially Shah Alam residents, are invited to attend the gathering,” said MBSA assistant public relations officer Shahrin Ahmad in a statement Wednesday. MBSA also encouraged residents associations, mosques and suraus to hold tahlil and special prayers for the tsunami victims.

In MELAKA, the New Year’s eve celebration at the Melaka International Trade Centre in Ayer Keroh organised by the state government has also been cancelled.

Chief Minister Datuk Seri Mohamed Ali Rustam said the event would be replaced with tahlil and special prayers at the Al-Azim State Mosque in Bukit Palah on Dec 31.



DUBAI, UAE, 29th December 2004 – Emirates Airline is moving to provide humanitarian relief and aid. The first 100 tents of a shipment of 1000 donated by a local Sri Lankan benefactor have already been dispatched by Emirates SkyCargo from Dubai to Colombo, as well as five tonnes of foodstuffs from Dubai to the Maldives. Over the next few days, the airline will procure, provide and transport relief materials, either free of cost or at extremely reduced charges.

To Colombo:

<> Food, medicines and clothes totalling 10 tonnes from the Emirates Group, and the remaining 900 tents of the charitable shipment mentioned above, will be sent on Emirates’ regular flights.

<> Relief vehicles and 4000 tents from the Federation of Red Cross/Red Crescent Society in Dubai – a total of 200 tonnes to be carried in two Boeing 747-200 freighters.

<> Relief and medical supplies will be transported free of cost from Gothenburg to Colombo, commissioned by the Sri Lankan embassy in Sweden.

To Male (Maldives):

<> Emirates has procured 30 tonnes of bottled water and secured the entire cargo hold of a flight to Male.

<> One hundred and eighty-three cartons of clothing and blankets, amounting to 2.5 tonnes of relief goods, from Airport Fire Services at Manchester will be transported free of cost.

To Jakarta: 35 tonnes of tarpaulins from Unicef, Dubai

To Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur, Colombo and Delhi: a combined total of 90 tonnes of relief goods from the Iranian Red Crescent Society in Tehran.

To Madras: Relief supplies from Paris sent by MEDICOR – a French Doctor’s Association.

Emirates SkyCargo is working closely with SriLankan Airlines to facilitate quick transport, provide cargo space and coordinate relief activities. Emirates also is co-sponsoring the Airport Emergency team based in Dubai, part of the Disaster Resource Network, a non-profit consortium of blue-chip companies that offers humanitarian aid during such disasters.

Eight staff members from the Emirates Group will travel to Colombo to coordinate and support these relief efforts.

Tim Clark, President Emirates Airline said: “We are horrified by the scale of the disaster that has affected so many of the communities that we serve across South Asia. From Emirates staff at airport operations across the region we are hearing that many passengers are arriving in rags. Our people are assisting them by providing clothes, beverages and comfort, and ensuring that they fly home on the first available flight.

“To all those who worried about their lost tickets, it has been a relief to learn that basically all we need to issue them new tickets is their names and the original date of travel. The Emirates Airline Foundation and our staff are involved with various aspects of relief work. We are monitoring the situation carefully to assess the most urgent needs and will do our utmost to help. Our thoughts and prayers are with the survivors and the relief workers.”

Emirates’ relief efforts are being coordinated with the authorities in each country to ensure that the supplies are quickly and efficiently distributed once they arrive at their destinations, and that they reach the survivors as soon as possible.



Through a special agreement with PATA Communications Department, the Xinhua-PR Newswire together with Asianet (a consortium of Asia-Pacific National News Agencies) has offered to distribute PATA member press releases RELATING TO THE INDIAN OCEAN TSUNAMI free of charge.

Xinhua-PR Newswire is a leading press release distributor. In each distribution the media covered includes trade publications, newspapers and broadcast media such as TV, radio stations, newswire services, online services and Web sites.

This complimentary press release distribution is meant FOR INDIAN OCEAN TSUNAMI NEWS RELEASES ONLY — i.e. CRISIS AND/OR RECOVERY NEWS. The countries included in this complimentary distribution are Asia Pacific countries including the USA:-

Via National News Agency in Asia Pacific: AAP Information Services (Australia), Antara (Indonesia), AsiaNet (Asia Pacific Region), Bernama (Malaysia and Singapore), Infoquest (Thailand), Kyodo (Japan), Yonhap (Korea ROK), Philippines National News Agency (Philippines), Press Trust of India (India and Sri Lanka), Vietnam National News Agency (Vietnam), New Zealand National News Agency (New Zealand), Pakistan Press International (Pakistan)

Via Xinhua-PR Newswire: Hong Kong SAR (Xinhua-PR Newswire), China (PRC) (Xinhua-PR Newswire), USA (PR Newswire)

If you would like to take up this service, please send your releases to Jennifer Kok at jennifer.kok@xfn.com. For more information about Xinhua-PR Newswire, visit: www.prnewswire.com.



Bangkok, December 29 – To provide clients, customers and anxious relatives with the latest information on the situation in Southern Thailand following Sunday’s earthquake, Diethelm Travel Asia (DTA) has set up a special link on its website, making available emergency contact numbers, news and live updates on resorts in Phuket, Khao Lak and other stricken areas.

People looking for more information can click on a tab that reads, “Tidal Wave Update” at the top of the homepage www.diethelmtravel.com and a link will take them to the latest information available with previous releases posted below.

“Our thoughts and prayers go out to everyone caught up in these unprecedented events – we hope that the information provided on our website will go some way to helping people deal with the constantly shifting circumstances in the affected areas,” said John Watson, Chief Executive Officer, Diethelm Travel Asia.

Watson added, that while the tsunami had struck many areas of the Indian Ocean rim, it should be noted that most of Asia had not been affected by the tidal surges. For example, hotels and resorts in the Gulf of Siam, such as Koh Samui, Hua Hin and Pattaya had suffered no repercussions.

“This is a major humanitarian tragedy, but as far as tourism is concerned the affects will not be as severe as SARS which was endemic throughout Asia’s tourism industry. To get through this crisis we must help each other and work together – solidarity is the key,” said Watson.

Diethelm Travel offered its services to rival tour operator Asian Trails yesterday after learning that its office at the Holiday Inn on Patong Beach, Phuket had been struck by the tsunami.



We are deeply saddened by the devastation caused due to the tsunamis across South and South East Asia including Tamil Nadu and parts of coastal south east India. We continue to extend our full support to local authorities.

We would like to reiterate that there was no casualty / injury to any of the guests or staff member at any of the Taj hotels in India, Sri Lanka or Maldives.

We were fortunate that only 4 of our hotels i.e Taj Exotica Resort Bentota, Taj Exotica Resort & Spa Maldives, Taj Coral Reef Maldives and Fisherman’s Cove Chennai were slightly affected and suffered slight damage.

We believe that there have been various reports, which do not reflect the true extent of damage and therefore, we would like to convey to you the exact current status for each of the properties concerned.



Fisherman’s Cove: Only 8 villas on the seafront were affected. Water had entered these villas and damaged the furnishings, etc. and hence, these villas are currently being refurbished and will all be ready by 6 January 2005.Water had also entered the Bay View Restaurant, but this was cleaned up the very next day and the restaurant has been functioning normally thereafter. The balance rooms, all restaurants and other facilities at the hotel were not affected and are functioning normally. The debris on the beach was cleared on 27 December itself.

Taj Coromandel and Taj Connemara: Both these hotels were not affected at all, as they have downtown locations, which are not on the coast. All international and domestic flights to Chennai are operating normally and so is transportation and sight seeing.

Rest of India

The rest of the hotels in India – including Goa, Kerala and Rajasthan are not affected at all and continue to operate normally.


Bentota, Colombo

Taj Exotica Resort: There was some damage to a few ground floor rooms, the Chinese Restaurant and the banquet hall. The power supply was affected temporarily, and was restored fully the next day itself and is now operating normally. Some rooms on the ground floor which were affected by water, are in the process of being refurbished and will be ready by 31 December 2004. This hotel is otherwise fully functional.

Taj Samudra, and Airport Garden Hotel: Both these city hotels are not affected and continue to operate normally because they are located in Colombo and Negombo, which are not part of the affected areas.


Taj Exotica Resort & Spa: This resort did suffer some damage and will be closed for repair and refurbishment for a period of approximately 2 months. We will advise you shortly the exact date of reopening, after a proper assessment, which is currently underway. As a precautionary measure, we provided alternate transport to our guests to enable them to reach Chennai, India. We chartered an aircraft, to bring back guests and our staff from Male to Chennai, India on December 27th,2004. At Chennai, we assisted them in making arrangements for their onward journeys.

Taj Coral Reef: The impact on this resort has been minimal and has not had any structural or major damage. We will be carrying out maintenance checks to restore the property to Taj standards, before accepting fresh bookings. While some guests continue to stay on, we will only take fresh arrivals after 31 January 05.

To facilitate any further queries, please do contact us at the following numbers:

For India – 0091 22 56651260 / 0091 9820183972. itd.bom@tajhotels.com

For Sri Lanka – 009471 4046558 / 0094 11 4717363.


For Maldives – 00960 325971 / 00960 442200. tajexotica@tajmaldives.com.mv, tajcoral@tajmaldives.com.mv



The biggest problem is the distribution of materials and goods due to inaccessibility. Donations of clothing, blankets, bedsheets etc are clogging up at Jkt. Halim Perdana Kusuma airport. As of this evening about 60 trucks are lining up outside airport. Inspite of maximum efforts from the Government to provide air transportation 7 to 10 flights using C130 yet its insufficient.

Polonia airport in Medah are clogged up as well due to insufficient availibility of road transportation to move the goods out from the airport to the disaster lications. Analysing the situation, our Bali Crisis Center is concentrating on CASH donations. With our network in the troubled areas we will personally visit the locations with our own money, not using the money donated. Below is our bank account.

Bali Crisis Center for Natural Disaster;

Name of Bank; Bank Niaga

Address; Jalan Melati 29, Denpasar, Bali, Indonesia

Account Number; 047 01 09372 00 4

In favour of; Aloysius Purwa

Auditor; TBA (This account will be audited by a public accountant and periodical reports will be produced. We welcome any donors and any concerned party to review and check this account during office hours)



(Stowe, Vt. Dec. 29, 2005) The International Institute for Peace through Tourism (IIPT) today launched a special ‘Just a Drop’ fundraising campaign to assist grief stricken survivors of this Sunday’s Indian Ocean-Bay of Bengal disaster.

‘Just a Drop’ is the charity appeal for the global travel and tourism industry, organized by World Travel Market and Reed Travel Exhibitions. With the vision and leadership of its Founder and Chairman, Fiona Jeffery, ‘Just a Drop’ raises money to provide clean water, sanitation and health education programs for thousands of children and their families from countries of Africa to countries of South East Asia. IIPT adopted ‘Just a Drop’ as its official charity in 2002.

Children have emerged as the biggest victims of the disaster. The main concern now is that the people and children who survived the tsunami – now survive the aftermath. The World Health Organization has said that as many could die from diseases as died from the tsunami wave.

While the response of relief agencies and governments has been swift and generous – relief experts say that much more needs to be done, and for a long period of time. One of the most important needs is for drinking water, especially for children who are most vulnerable to dehydration and water-born diseases.

Persons wishing to make a contribution to this special appeal can make their checks payable to: IIPT – Just a Drop and send to: IIPT, 685 Cottage Club Rd.

#13 Stowe, VT 05672 USA

Persons wishing to wire funds may contact Louis D’Amore, IIPT President, for detailed information regarding wire transfers. Tel. +802 253.8671; fax: 802 253.2645; email: ljd@iipt.org or lou_damore@hotmail.com.

All contributions are tax deductible (an acknowledgement will be sent upon request); All funds raised go straight to the work of the appeal, there are no administrative costs.

Comments are closed.