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8 Aug, 2022

The Travel Industry Journalists Who Took a Stand Against War, and Made History

In January 2003, a group of 44 journalists made history by co-signing the first anti-war statement ever issued by the Travel & Tourism industry. Released at the first ASEAN Tourism Forum held in Cambodia, the journalists’ petition was a follow-up to an official anti-war statement released also for the first time at the same event […]

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14 Jul, 2022

Sri Lankan turmoil shows it failed to learn the lessons of a 26-year civil war

Watching the turmoil in Sri Lanka these days reminded me of a UNWTO conference on “Tourism: A Catalyst for Development, Peace and Reconciliation” held in the northern Sri Lanka township of Passikudah in July 2016. It was organised by the Sri Lankan tourism authorities with the support of the then UNWTO Secretary-General Dr Taleb Rifai, […]

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11 Jul, 2022

Thai-Saudi travel set to boom after red-carpet treatment for Riyadh business delegation

Bangkok — A team of more than 100 high-level delegates from Saudi Arabia visited Thailand between 3-7 July 2022 as part of the roadmap set by the two countries following the historic diplomatic patch-up in January 2022. The group consisted of 57 corporate executives plus senior representatives of the Saudi Tourism Authority, the Saudi Fund […]

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20 Jun, 2022

How the new Thai privacy protection law will hurt tourism marketing, networking and MICE events

Phuket – The Thailand Travel Mart Plus held in Phuket between 8-10 June 2022 was the first local travel trade show since the enforcement of the Personal Data Protection Act. That led to some immediate and multiple changes in the way information about the participants was displayed. Whether the law did anything to protect anyone’s […]

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16 Jun, 2022

Back to the Future: The Most Important Thai Tourism Crisis Recovery Meeting Ever Held

Many meetings are being held these days to plan for a post-Covid tourism REcovery… Most are just REhashing and REcycling old ideas and solutions. None come even close to matching the intellectual firepower and recommendations of arguably the most important crisis recovery meeting ever held in Thai tourism history. Please click here to email confirmation […]

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14 Jun, 2022

Successful Thailand Travel Mart in Phuket gives impetus to rebounding visitor arrivals

Phuket — Thailand’s rebounding tourism industry is set to gather steam following a successful Thailand Travel Mart Plus in Phuket between 8-10 June 2022. A total of 277 buyers from 42 countries and 62 international media got a first hand look at the leading Thai resort island’s range of products and services. And a total […]

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3 Jun, 2022

Will PATA’s new hybrid chairman raise a Voice for the Voiceless?

Bangkok – If hybrid meetings, cars and work-places are now the “in” thing, why not hybrid leaders? In the post-Covid era, the new chairman of PATA could well be the first of that generation. Peter Semone was elected to lead this once formidable travel institution in the midst of a perfect storm. The pandemic is […]

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17 May, 2022

A Prominent Thai Buddhist monk’s alternative path to Reopening, Recovery, Resilience

Bangkok – One of Thailand’s prominent Buddhist monks has flipped all the conventional textbook theories of crisis management with a heart-warming personal perspective on the prevailing “Reopening, Recovery, Resilience” agenda. The simple but profound wisdom shared by the Venerable Phra Anil Sakya, the Rector of Mahamakut Buddhist University, won him a round of polite applause […]

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14 May, 2022

134-member Thai team off to Saudi Arabia to spur ties across multiple sectors

Bangkok – A mammoth delegation of 134 Thai public and private sector representatives is to depart for Saudi Arabia on 15 May for four days of intensive, multi-sectoral meetings that will give a huge fillip to relations between the world’s two most populous Buddhist and Islamic kingdoms. The delegation will be led by Mr. Don […]

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7 Apr, 2022

Health and Wellness: 30 Daily Reasons why Ramadan is Better than Yoga

As interest in Health and Wellness is surging globally in the wake of the Covid-19 catastrophe, I have prepared a series of daily posts to promote the vast physical, mental, spiritual, social, economic and environmental benefits of Ramadan, the Islamic month of fasting. These benefits of the world’s largest joint movement regrettably get lost in […]

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16 Feb, 2022

An Honest and Constructive Critique of the Visit Thailand Year 2022 Strategic Plan

This special report focusses on the strategic plan to reboot Thai tourism with a Visit Thailand Year 2022 campaign. It takes a critical thinking approach but in an honest and constructive context. Click on the image to watch…

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1 Feb, 2022

35 Years On: How Visit Thailand Year 1987 Revolutionised Global Tourism

The year 2022 marks the 35th anniversary of Visit Thailand Year 1987, the record-breaking marketing extravaganza which revolutionised the Thai and global tourism industry. What lessons can be learned from its successes and failures? How can it help design a new post-pandemic model for global tourism? As Thailand Bureau Chief for the then leading travel […]

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28 Jan, 2022

Thai Saudi Relations Take a New Turn – A Ray of Light in a World of Darkness

This special report focuses on the diplomatic rapprochement between Thailand and Saudi Arabia, the background to and impact of the 32-year conflict, and the huge benefits now set to accrue for the peoples of both countries and the regions and the world at large. Click on the image to access the YouTube link….

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23 Jan, 2022

To Tax or Not To Tax: The Dilemma Facing Thai Tourism

Thai Government revenues have fallen precipitously as a result of the pandemic, and so have tourism budgets. Paying for medical emergencies as well as the consequences of Acts of God and self-inflicted crises is no longer possible. A 300 baht tourist tax is in the works. The idea is proving controversial, and also opening up […]

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14 Jan, 2022

Crossing the Rubicon: Door Opens for Travel & Tourism to Take a Stand on Political Issues

A cursory look at the numerous crisis which have hit global tourism in the past three decades will show that they can be divided into two – man-made crises such as wars, terrorism, economic disasters, local conflicts, and Acts of God such as pandemics, tsunamis, floods, earthquakes… Fitting somewhere in the middle is Climate Change, […]

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9 Jan, 2022

Time for Brand name Travel & Tourism CEOs to Change Their Tune? Part 1

This current generation of CEOs is inheriting a bigger mess than ever. They claim to see opportunities, but I don’t see too many of them talking about the hazards, risks and threats of the chaos which prevails today. Have they learned the lessons of history? After inheriting the mess created by the outgoing generation, the […]

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2 Jan, 2022

Reality Check: The Future of Tourism in a Dangerously Imbalanced World

Everyone says they want to learn from past mistakes, but how is that possible without first acknowledging those mistakes? If travel & tourism wants to vaccinate itself from the next crisis, it will have to rebalance its agenda, democratise its discussion platforms, re-set its own mindset, speak truth to power and hold those causing problems […]

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27 Dec, 2021

Loss of Balance – The Biggest Failure of Global Tourism

The concept of balance will drive the post-Covid tourism development agenda. However, there is growing evidence that the chasms of imbalance are widening still further. Past mistakes are again being repeated. Tourism has a chance to make a fresh start from a nearly clean slate. A well-balanced recovery should be the basis of a New […]

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19 Dec, 2021

A SWOT analysis of Visit Thailand Year 2022

The entire operating environment of Visit Thailand Year 2022 is totally different from that which led to the success of Visit Thailand Year 1987. As events of the past few decades have proved, tourism is no longer in control of its destiny. It is entirely at the mercy of external and internal shocks. That scenario […]

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19 Dec, 2021

2022: 11 Historic Anniversaries raise Soul-Searching Questions about the Future of Tourism

In 2020, when the Covid-19 crisis was still in its early days, there was a lot of bluster about how it could be converted into an opportunity to create a New Normal and Build Back Better. In 2022, as a recovery seems to be on the horizon, 11 significant anniversaries will open windows of opportunity […]

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5 Dec, 2021

How Thai Tourism Failed a Great King

In this video, made to commemorate the birth anniversary of His Majesty the late King Rama IX the Great, I share a few thoughts on what I consider to be the biggest mistake made by Thai tourism — exploiting the marketing opportunities presented by the various Royal events over the late King’s 70-year reign, but […]

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4 Nov, 2021

Power of History Lecture II: How Visit Thailand Year 1987 Revolutionised Global Tourism

2022 has been declared yet another “Visit Thailand Year”. But how much is known today about the original Visit Thailand Year 1987, the record-breaking marketing extravaganza which raised the Thai and entire global tourism industry to a whole new level? Not much at all. As Thailand Bureau Chief for the then leading travel trade publication […]

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26 Oct, 2021

India’s split-personality psyche exposed by a cricket match in Dubai

If the Indian tourism industry is pondering the country’s future brand image and reputation, it need look no further than the aftermath of the 24 Oct cricket match with arch-rival Pakistan at the ICC T20 World Cup tournament in Dubai. The contrasting reactions are a clear reflection of India’s current split-personality psyche and the political-social-cultural-economic […]

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13 Oct, 2021

As the doors reopen, will Thai tourism walk the Prime Minister’s talk?

Bangkok – In his speech to the UN General Assembly (UNGA) annual summit on 25 September 2021, Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha said, “I believe that the crises and challenges we face today have presented us with an opportunity to learn from past lessons, to reorient our approach and to better prepare for the future.” If […]

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8 Oct, 2021

Will Travel & Tourism take the whistleblower claims against Facebook seriously, or ignore them?

The widely-publicised revelations by Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen create an opportunity to rethink and reset relations between the techno-oligarchs and the Travel & Tourism sector, and also rectify the long-standing, grossly imbalanced content of Travel Tech forums. Facebook along with its first cousins Google, Amazon, TripAdvisor, AirBnB and other techno-oligarchs have long dominated the Travel […]

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2 Oct, 2021

Inaugural Global Lecture: “25 Women Who Put Thai Tourism on the Global Map”

As Thailand is reopening to tourism, a look back may help us look ahead more clearly. I am proud to be the first to launch this “Power of History” lecture series. All will be FREE but BY INVITATION ONLY.

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30 Sep, 2021

Veteran Malaysian tour guide proves high-touch can beat high-tech in post-Covid era

The tour guide is one of the many travel industry professions threatened by the high-tech revolution. But one award-winning Malaysian guide of Punjabi-Sikh ethnic origin who speaks English, Malay, Hindi and Tamil can prove that high-touch delivers in ways high-tech never can. Upskilling herself with a high-touch Muslim-Friendly Tour Guide training course enriched her personally […]

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28 Sep, 2021

Israel makes clear plan to wipe Palestine off the map; Travel & Tourism sure to face the consequences

Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett gave what I consider to be the most dangerous speech of all those delivered at the 76th UN General Assembly, which ended on 27 September. He made it clear, without saying a word about the topic, that Israel will stay the course of wiping Palestine off the map — and […]

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22 Sep, 2021

R.I.P. Mrs Chitdee Rangvara, one of Thailand’s top tourism PR professionals in the 1980s

Bangkok – Mrs Chitdee Rangvara, one of Thailand’s leading tourism communications professionals of the 1970s/80s, passed away on 21 Sept 2021, aged 93. She had been suffering from senility related to old age. (Correction: The earlier version of this post said she was suffering from Alzheimers). She was primarily responsible for Thai Airways International’s PR […]

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13 Sep, 2021

9/11 memorials expose the superficial, imbalanced reactions of Travel & Tourism

Last week, the world united in observing the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, widely described as “The Day That Changed the World”. Because commercial aircraft were used as live missiles in the horrific attacks, the Transportation, Travel & Tourism sectors were the first to face the resulting geopolitical and military backlash. Two apex international […]

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10 Sep, 2021

R.I.P. Lakshman Ratnapala: The man who put “Asia” into the Pacific Asia Travel Association

Lakshman Ratnapala, 82, the first Asian President and CEO of the Pacific Asia Travel Association, passed away on 08 Sept 2021 after a brief illness related to Parkinson’s Disease. He is survived by his wife Barbara. The couple had no children. Born Nihal Lakshman in the Sri Lankan village of Veyangoda, Mr Ratnapala studied for […]

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2 Sep, 2021

The Future of Travel & Tourism Leadership

Bangkok – September is the most important month for Travel & Tourism. It commemorates both the International Day of Peace (21 Sept) and the International Day of Tourism (27 Sept). This Sept 2021 will be extra significant because of the 20th anniversary of 9/11, the geopolitical failure of America’s longest war and the global socio-economic […]

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9 Aug, 2021

Phuket is facing the wrath of Karma

BANGKOK – The cause-and-effect laws of Karma are fundamental to Buddhism and many other Asian ways of life. As you sow, so shall you reap, perhaps not immediately but many years later or even in the next life. Today, they are being proved right, big time. When the rampant “development” of Phuket began in the […]

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23 Jun, 2021

What the next Thai Five-Year Development Plan says about the Future of Tourism

Bangkok – Thailand’s 13th National Economic and Social Development Plan covering the five-year period Oct 2021-Sept 2026 is in the drafting stage and nearing finalisation. A number of public hearings on the Travel & Tourism component are being held this week. To ensure a broader and more comprehensive input, I downloaded the Thai summary of […]

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23 Mar, 2021

Book on Anand Panyarachun shows why a “New Normal” may prove elusive for Thailand and Thai Tourism

Bangkok – As Thailand charts a recovery from the Covid-19 catastrophe, the hills are alive with calls for a “New Normal”. They have been heard before. Exactly 30 years ago this month (March 1991), the Thai military appointed Mr Anand Panyarachun, today one of the country’s most recognised statesmen, to craft a “New Normal” after […]

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18 Mar, 2021

​ Mekong tourism chief’s resignation raises the bar for the Value of Values

Bangkok – When Jens Thraenhart resigned as Executive Director of the Mekong Tourism Coordinating Office, he became, to the best of my knowledge, the first head of a multilateral travel industry grouping to quit in defense of his “values.” The official press release said he had quit for “personal reasons”. It also referred to “external […]

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25 Feb, 2021

In Memoriam: Indonesian tourism leader who championed spirituality, balance and peace

Mr I. Gede Ardika, former Indonesian Minister of Tourism and Culture, who passed away on 20 Feb 2021, was the only leader who recognised and championed the higher purpose and value of tourism. While others saw expenditure, jobs and economic growth, Mr Ardika saw spirituality, balance and peace. Witness these opening slides of his presentation […]

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13 Jan, 2021

IATA urges “balanced approach” to tackle severe side-effects of Covid-19 tourism economy collapse

Geneva, 12 January 2021 — The International Air Transport Association is vehemently urging global governments to adopt a balanced approach that will keep the Covid-19 virus in check while preventing economies from becoming victims of “the severe side-effects” of the travel & tourism restrictions. Speaking at a media briefing, Mr Alexandre de Juniac, the IATA […]

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29 Dec, 2020

A Compendium of Insightful Speeches on Thailand: The Greatest Story in Global Tourism HiSTORY

Bangkok — The Covid-19 crisis stifled what was to be a glorious year of celebrations marking the 60th anniversary of the Tourism Authority of Thailand and Thai Airways International. While 2020 turned out to be a year of commiseration, hitting the lowest point of a probable V-shaped recovery makes it the best time for some […]

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13 Nov, 2020

WHO Director-General hails Thai success in containing Covid-19, urges world to follow suit

Geneva — World Health Organisation Director General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has hailed Thailand’s success in battling the Covid-19 virus as “an excellent example that with a whole-of-government, whole-of-society, comprehensive approach, this virus can be contained – even without a vaccine.” Delivering his closing remarks at the World Health Assembly on 13 November 2020, Dr […]

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3 Nov, 2020

25 Years since the death of the slogan “Peace Promotes Tourism”

Tomorrow, Nov 4, the world will be mesmerised by the U.S. elections. Forgotten in the heat of the political competition will be the 25th anniversary of The Day The World Really Changed — the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin, Israeli Prime Minister and Nobel Peace Prize winner, by a Jewish fanatic extremist terrorist named Yigal Amir. […]

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29 Oct, 2020

The Best Speech I Ever Wrote for the Thai Minister of Tourism and Sports

Between 1995-2020, a full 25 years, I did a voluminous amount of contract work for the Tourism Authority of Thailand, including writing nearly all the speeches for their senior executives at major events such as the ITB Berlin, World Travel Market, Arabian Travel Market, etc. Looking back, the best speech I ever wrote was for […]

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28 Oct, 2020

A 71st birthday tribute to the late Dr Surin Pitsuwan

Today would have been the 71st birthday of the late Dr Surin Pitsuwan, former ASEAN Secretary-General and Thai Foreign Minister. I am honoured to have been his friend and colleague over his distinguished career as one of Thailand’s finest politicians and technocrats. His many brilliant speeches and visionary activities, which I proudly covered, ranged from […]

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26 Oct, 2020

To solve Thailand’s latest crisis, try reading a TAT brochure

Bangkok – What is happening in Thailand today is not actually supposed to be happening at all. According to the Tourism Authority of Thailand marketing brochures, this is a land of meditation, peace, tranquility and happiness full of friendly, hospitable, service-minded people who eat healthy food, holiday in dream destinations and bask in the harmony […]

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24 Oct, 2020

Have Your Say: What do you think about the political protests in Thailand?

Bangkok — The ongoing political protests are sure to have a long-term impact on the future of Thailand, in equal measure as the economic fallout from the Covid-19 pandemic. While the latter is getting saturation coverage in the travel trade media, the former is getting none. Such intellectual cowardice is typical of the Travel & […]

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16 Oct, 2020

Thailand in crisis: Applying draconian medical solutions to political problems risks killing the patient

Bangkok – For several years, the Thai Travel & Tourism industry has marketed “Health & Wellness” as a major competitive niche. Campaigns have highlighted grassroots preventive measures such as Thai massage and meditation alongside curative capabilities such as qualified medical practitioners and high-tech, well-managed hospitals. Today, that holistic medical formula is entirely missing in the […]

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15 Oct, 2020

Thailand’s image in a tailspin, will worsen recovery from Covid-19 crisis

Bangkok – Thailand’s carefully cultivated image as a country of peaceful, friendly, hospitable and service-minded people is again in a tailspin, thanks to a government crackdown on anti-establishment protestors. An official decree declaring a “Serious Emergency Situation” in Bangkok met with a response just 12 hours later from the civil society group, Asian Forum for […]

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26 Sep, 2020

Edition 2: 21 Trends, Risks, Ideas, Policies and Strategies (TRIPS) to help decision-makers Build Back Better

Compiled and edited by Imtiaz Muqbil, Executive Editor

Tourism Will Never Look The Same Again – Skyscanner Publishes New Trends Report Search patterns for domestic, regional and international flights indicate that recovery will be multispeed, tied to the global economy and driven by low cost carriers. At the same time, the decline in business travel revenues for other airlines calls for a rethink […]

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18 Sep, 2020

Edition 1: 21 Trends, Risks, Ideas, Policies and Strategies (TRIPS) to help decision-makers Build Back Better

A weekly roundup by Imtiaz Muqbil, one of the Asia-Pacific region’s longest-serving travel industry journalists, to help Travel & Tourism decision-makers absorb ideas, understand trends, monitor innovations and beware of risks and threats in the post-Covid era. To be published every Friday. Click on any of the links. Top UN economists warn of crises of […]

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11 Aug, 2020

Geopolitical impact of Covid-19 pandemic enters the agendas of global Travel & Tourism forums

Bangkok – The far-reaching geopolitical impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the future of tourism is to be the topic of a game-changing webinar to be organised by the Jamaican Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett on Aug 26. Former UN World Tourism Organisation Secretary-General Dr Taleb Rifai and Chairperson of the UN SDGs Advocate Alumni Ambassador […]

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27 Jul, 2020

The Death of the UN Sustainable Development Goals

The COVID-19 pandemic and accompanying global recession is set to trigger “years of depressed and disrupted economic growth”, UN Secretary-General António Guterres warned on July 1, 2020. He painted a grim picture of acute suffering, saying that extreme poverty and hunger are set to increase drastically. Many healthcare systems are at breaking point and a […]

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21 Jul, 2020

How Visit Thailand Year 1987 crafted the original “New Normal” for global tourism

Bangkok – In 1987, Thailand spearheaded an historic event which crafted a “New Normal” for Global Travel & Tourism well before the current rage. With an unprecedented show of political, social, economic and cultural unity, the Thai people celebrated the auspicious 60th birthday of His Majesty the late King Bhumibhol Adulyadej the Great with Visit […]

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9 Jul, 2020

Samui Unlock Sale: Thai Tourism private sector fails the balance test – again!

Bangkok – The first Thai domestic travel promotion event launched after the gradual relaxation of the Covid-19 lockdowns saw the tourism private sector turn up for another resilience-and-recovery campaign. True to form, it repeated all the same mistakes of previous post-crises campaigns. Focussing on the popular Samui island, the event was awash with discounts and […]

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2 Jul, 2020

1980 UNWTO Manila Declaration Shows How Global Travel & Tourism Failed Its Mandate and Vision

Bangkok – In hot pursuit of REcovery from the devastation caused by Covid-19, global Travel & Tourism is abuzz with “New Normal” buzzwords: REthink, REbuild, REdesign, REform, REimagine, REinvent, RE-this and RE-that. A better option would be to press the REwind button and REflect on its own history, especially the failures and mistakes. If the […]

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24 Jun, 2020

REality Check: FCCT event will help Thai tourism prepare for the next potential crisis

Bangkok – The Foreign Correspondents Club of Thailand will organise a livestream panel discussion on “Thai History and Nationhood since 1932”. It will be broadcast via the FCCT’s Facebook page with English translation at 7 pm tonight. A line-up of eminent scholars, social activists and political scientists will discuss the upheavals and turbulence that have […]

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23 Jun, 2020

Dump bloggers and influencers, cut military budgets to help global Travel & Tourism “Build Back Better”

Bangkok – The Travel & Tourism industry should dump bloggers and influencers and redirect its marketing budgets into quality journalism and communications platforms if it wants to attract “quality tourists.” As a self-proclaimed “industry of peace,” it should also start paying more serious attention to the trillions of dollars wasted on global wars and conflict […]

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18 Jun, 2020

Unity, Accountability, Transparency, Efficiency: Thai PM launches post-Covid nation rebuilding agenda

Bangkok — Thai Prime Minister Gen (retd) Prayuth Chan-o-cha has launched a new nation-rebuilding programme for the post-Covid era, one that will “lay down the fundamentals for sustainable prosperity, and open the way for Thais to rediscover who and what they really are and all that they are truly capable of achieving.” In a nationwide […]

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11 Jun, 2020

As Thailand eyes victory over the virus, a return to the “Old Normal” seems certain

Bangkok – Thailand is within sight of declaring victory over the dreaded Covid-19 virus. As it is has done through many previous crises over the past 40 years, Thailand overcame what the Foreign Correspondents Club of Thailand (FCCT) called its “celebrated ‘mai pen rai’ culture” to discipline itself and absorb serious short-term pain in order […]

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8 Jun, 2020

How Thailand Contained Covid-19: Why a Public Health System with Popular Support Matters

Bangkok – One of ASEAN’s preeminent political scientists has heaped praise on the Thai healthcare system for the clean-up campaign that averted a potential Covid-19 disaster, but also obliquely hinted whether the kingdom can also clean up its fractious and divided political system, too. In an analysis published on June 7, Prof Walden Bello, Co-chair […]

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8 Jun, 2020

FCCT June 9 Live Webcast: Why has Thailand done so well combating Covid-19?

Announcement by the Foreign Correspondents Club of Thailand. As of June 2, Thailand had officially confirmed 3,085 cases of Covid-19 and suffered 58 deaths; only 59 infected people were still hospitalized. The pandemic is far from over, and has completely changed the way people live. It has also wrought economic mayhem that has yet to […]

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3 Jun, 2020

UN Human Rights chief alarmed by Asia-wide clampdown on freedom of expression during COVID-19

GENEVA (3 June 2020) – UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet expressed alarm at the clampdown on freedom of expression in parts of the Asia-Pacific during the COVID-19 crisis, saying any actions taken to stop the spread of false information must be proportionate. Many countries in the region already have laws governing alleged […]

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28 May, 2020

Thai Prime Minister, Foreign Minister flag importance of balance in “Build Back Better” strategy

Bangkok – Two of Thailand’s top leaders have reaffirmed the importance of balance and the Sufficiency Economy Philosophy in charting the future course of national development, with tourism playing a major role. Thai Prime Minister Gen (retd) Prayut Chan-o-cha reaffirmed this in two speeches to local and international audiences on May 21 and May 26, […]

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9 May, 2020

Hotels in focus as Thai PM holds second personal meeting with tourism sector

Bangkok – Thai Prime Minister Gen (retd) Prayuth Chan-o-cha continued his extraordinary personal interaction with the Thai tourism industry on 08 May with a meeting with committee members of the Thai Hotels Association to discuss the business impact of the Covid-19 pandemic and remedial measures for the kingdom’s top service sector and job-creating industry. Similar […]

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1 May, 2020

Thai PM makes historic visit to tour operators HQ to hear industry’s concerns

Bangkok – In a global first, Thai Prime Minister Gen Prayuth Chan-o-cha personally visited the offices of the Association of Thai Travel Agents on April 30 to get a first-hand update on the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the country’s most important service economy sector and generator of foreign exchange. A spokesman for the […]

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23 Mar, 2020

Masterpiece Earth Summit 1992 speech by ex-UNWTO chief shows how Travel & Tourism bungled the agenda

Bangkok – The UN World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) last week held a Global Tourism Crisis Committee meeting in preparation for the launch of a global guide for recovery. Some important-looking people were shown conducting their first virtual meeting. The press release promised a set of recommendations for recovery is to be released “in the coming […]

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20 Mar, 2020

Boracay “cesspool” shutdown goes viral, Planet Earth “cesspool” in clean-up mode

Bangkok – In April 2018, Philippines President Roderigo Duterte announced a shutdown of Boracay Island. His unprecedented move after describing one of the archipelagic country’s most popular tourist spots as a “cesspool” shocked the tourism industry and triggered widespread wailing about the loss of jobs and income. He stayed the course. When the island reopened […]

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10 Mar, 2020

Lively Halal Fest 2020 bucks cancellation trend, lights up Bangkok tourist district

Bangkok – At a time when public events are being cancelled and/or postponed worldwide, a grouping of young Thai-Muslim business leaders forged ahead with the World Halal Fest 2020, a long-planned event designed to promote Islamic cuisine, culture and commerce in Thailand. Attended by high-profile Thai politicians as well as business and religious leaders, entertainment […]

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3 Mar, 2020

Have Your Say: What should be the Travel & Tourism priorities in the post-Covid19 recovery era?

Bangkok – It is more than likely that the Covid-19 virus will be brought under control some time in the second quarter of 2020. A highly relieved global Travel & Tourism industry will swing into action to get business moving again. But should it revert to business as usual, or take a deeper look at […]

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1 Mar, 2020

Industry Poll: Was cancelling ITB Berlin 2020 the right decision?

Bangkok – The last-minute decision to cancel ITB Berlin 2020 has caused mayhem in the global travel & tourism industry, with billions of dollars worth of lost business and cancellations, and incalculable waste of time for thousands of people. The official press release blamed the stringent health conditions imposed by Federal Ministry of Health and […]

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27 Feb, 2020

Breathtaking photographs link African Wilderness to Buddhist Wisdom

Bangkok – Prominent Bangkok-based photographer David Lau has captured the grandeur of an East African safari in a catalogue of images exhibited in Bangkok between Feb 20-23. More than just proving his professional prowess, Mr. Lau has raised the value of his artistry to a more sublime level by including reflections from a well-known Buddhist […]

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17 Feb, 2020

Expatriates left voiceless at Thai tourism crisis brainstorming session

Bangkok — When Thailand’s Ministry of Tourism and Sports organised the historic brainstorming session on February 13 to unite the Thai tourism industry in response to the coronavirus crisis, one vital sector was missing– the expatriate community. Although the meeting was called to brainstorm responses to the slump in visitor arrivals, conducting it entirely in […]

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4 Feb, 2020

PATA CEO announces exit, leaving association facing 11-month transition in a critical period

Bangkok – The Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) has come under fire for announcing the year-end departure of its CEO Mr Mario Hardy at a time when the regional travel industry is experiencing one of its worst crisis in history. Mr Hardy made the announcement in his CEO blog on February 3, after the Executive […]

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3 Feb, 2020

Market overexposure overtakes overtourism as lead industry challenge

Bangkok – One welcome casualty of the corona virus crisis will be all further discussion of “overtourism”. This dreadfully humdrum topic has been overtaken by the much more serious threat of overexposure to any single market as a source of business. Virtually overnight, the pendulum has swung from one extreme to another. Although it had […]

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29 Jan, 2020

Flashback: The Thai who saved global Travel & Tourism from a much worse virus

Bangkok – As the 2019-nCoV coronavirus crisis enters its second month, there is much talk about the need to learn from previous crises and deal with it in an open and transparent way. Medical teams are being praised for their dedication and commitment. Public protection is the order of the day. Suddenly, Chinese tourists who […]

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28 Jan, 2020

Thai tourism can convert the short-term coronavirus crisis into a long-term opportunity

Bangkok – There’s nothing like a good crisis to focus the mind. Natural disasters and economic and geopolitical crises also hurt tourism, but none trigger a call to action like a potentially life-threatening health scare. Thailand has experienced, and overcome, many crises over 60 years of tourism history. Although this, too, will pass, it presents […]

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16 Jan, 2020

B2B session at Thai outbound travel show hits all-time high

Bangkok – The 26th bi-annual Thailand International Travel Fair, an outbound show, began on Jan 15 with a business matching turnout of 159 suppliers, the highest ever. China was the top country represented with Japan coming in second and India third. The B2B networking session precedes the four-day event organised by the Thailand Travel Agents […]

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10 Jan, 2020

Unmatched Lectures on Thailand: The Greatest Story in Global Tourism HiSTORY

Bangkok – This year marks the 60th anniversary of the Tourism Authority of Thailand and Thai Airways International, the two founding pillars of what is now the kingdom’s largest service economy sector and job-creator. This meteoric rise did not happen by chance. It was the result of a broad range of comprehensive policy shifts, marketing […]

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12 Dec, 2019

Destination Marketing Forum in Pattaya shows why PATA events are losing steam

Pattaya, Thailand — The PATA Destination Marketing Forum held in this, one of Asia’s historic beach resorts, between Nov 27-29 was sponsored and supported by the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT), the Thailand Exhibition and Convention Bureau (TCEB), Designated Areas for Sustainable Tourism Activity (DASTA) and Pattaya City. As all are government agencies, the entire […]

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8 Dec, 2019

First Bangkok Literature festival explores future of Asia in an Age of Autocracy, Absurdity and Anger

Bangkok – If biodiversity, clean air and water, forests, wildlife, flora and fauna are important for human survival and global sustainability, what about democracy, human rights, freedom of expression, gender equality, ethnic and cultural harmony, peace and justice? Editor’s Note: I was the only travel trade journalist to cover this inaugural event. Click here to […]

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25 Nov, 2019

Multi-Language Guidebook to Confront anti-Muslim bigotry by Travel Security Officials

WASHINGTON, D.C., 11/22/2019) – The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization in the U.S., today published its “Know Your Rights” materials online in English, Arabic, Somali, Urdu, Farsi, Bengali, and Bosnian. CAIR’s online booklets offer civil rights advice for students, travelers and employees, as well as for those who encounter law enforcement authorities or are […]

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24 Nov, 2019

Sabah Pygmy elephant conservation well underway

By Rohana Nasrah

The recent discovery of three Borneo pygmy elephant carcasses in the space of five weeks in Sabah has raised concern over the conservation of this endangered species, found only in this part of the world. This article looks at the efforts by the Sabah Wildlife Department to protect and conserve the unique pachyderms. KOTA KINABALU, […]

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4 Oct, 2019

Court clears way for Thai owners to terminate Peninsula Bangkok management contract

Bangkok – A Thai court has paved the way for the owners of the luxury riverside Peninsula Bangkok hotel to terminate the management contract on the basis of having delivered no returns to the Thai business family over the last 20 years. However, Hongkong and Shanghai Hotels, the operators and also equity holders, says it […]

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3 Oct, 2019

PATA Travel Mart 2019 slumps to all-time low

Bangkok – PATA’s primary money-spinning event, the Travel Mart held last month in Astana, Kazakhstan, hit an all-time low in terms of both attendance as well as financial performance. According to an official PATA announcement, the Mart recorded “over 1,200 delegates from 63 global destinations. The delegate numbers embraced 347 sellers from 180 organisations and […]

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1 Oct, 2019

New communications course to help Travel & Tourism understand and implement the UNSDGs

Bangkok – With funding support from the Tourism Authority of Thailand, I am proud to launch a new communications training course and manual to help Thai and ASEAN Travel & Tourism executives better understand the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and build them into their respective corporate activities. The first of its kind in Thailand, […]

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24 Sep, 2019

First OpenTech Summit in Bangkok can help Travel & Tourism regain control of its destiny

Bangkok – Travel & tourism IT executives seeking to break the stranglehold of the technology mega-corporations now dominating everything from booking engines to data-mining may find some opportunities at an OpenTech Summit to be held for the first time in the Thai capital on Oct 1-2. Funded by Thailand’s National Innovation Agency and supported by […]

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16 Sep, 2019

Have Your Say: The Rise and Fall of PATA

Bangkok – In 1994, exactly 25 years ago, this was the full membership list of PATA, excluding the chapter members. In 1999, exactly 20 years ago, PATA relocated its HQ from San Francisco to Bangkok to take advantage of the opportunities of a Rising Asia. Instead of rising to new heights, an organisation that had […]

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13 Sep, 2019

UN launches new plan to ‘reaffirm the sanctity’ of religious sites, counter hate and violence

United Nations, 12 September 2019 – In a landmark document that should be must-reading across the entire Travel & Tourism industry, the UN Alliance of Civilizations (UNAOC) on Thursday launched a new plan of action to “counter hate and violence around the globe”. It goes right to the heart of what this editor has termed […]

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12 Sep, 2019

Minor Corp Chairman Bill Heinecke challenges value of “disruptive” technologies

Bangkok – Mr William Heinecke, Chairman and CEO of Bangkok-based Minor Corporation, has raised some serious questions about the growing influence and impact of OTAs, ride-sharing services and other “disruptive” technologies that the travel & tourism industry is going ga-ga about. Speaking at the Thailand Focus 2019 Forum organised by the Stock Exchange of Thailand […]

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10 Sep, 2019

PATA Foundation Chairman quits following “inquisition” by two Executive Board members

Bangkok – The Chairman of the PATA Foundation, Mr Peter Semone, has quit abruptly, less than a year before he was due to start an official process to hand over the baton. The shock resignation, the first of its kind in the Foundation’s history, comes in the midst of a major restructuring programme under way […]

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9 Sep, 2019

“Colours of Africa” festival held in Bangkok to drive tourism, trade

Bangkok – Thousands of middle-upper income consumers from Thailand and tourists from all around the world were treated to a three-day “Colours of Africa” festival held in one of Bangkok’s most popular shopping malls over the 6 – 8 September weekend. The festival was intended to promote a better understanding of the African continent amongst […]

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6 Sep, 2019

Insights, Information key to Thailand’s diplomacy and focus on “Holistic Sustainability”

Bangkok – Insights and information is the fuel that drives diplomacy, the ability to anticipate change and the pursuit of “holistic sustainability” in a rapidly changing world, Thailand’s Vice Minister for Foreign Affairs Mr. Vijavat Isarabhakdi, said in a speech on 5 September 2019. Addressing a gathering of Bangkok-based foreign diplomats at the relaunch of […]

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17 Jun, 2019

Historians in, futurists out, as Thai tourism reflects on the next 60 years

Bangkok – As the Thai travel & tourism industry prepares to mark its 60th anniversary in 2020, the Tourism Authority of Thailand is turning to historians, not futurists, to help it chart a path forward. On June 5, the TAT’s annual trade show, the Thailand Travel Mart Plus, featured a talk on Thailand: The Greatest […]

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31 May, 2019

60th anniversary book hails umbilical lifeline that bonds Thailand-Malaysia

Bangkok – Did you know that the first Prime Minister of Malaysia after its independence in 1957 was half-Thai? That the winner of the 1939 Miss Siam pageant was a Muslim who later married the Sultan of Perlis? That in 1979, Thailand would have been hit by a major power crisis had an emergency shipment […]

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22 May, 2019

Exclusive Photographs: Timor-Leste’s faith-based tourism potential

Dili, Timor-Leste – On May 17, the US Agency for International Development (USAID) funded a conference on the theme of “Peace, Harmony and Fellowship: Faith-based Tourism Development” in the Timor-Leste capital of Dili. The event was organised under the USAID’s Tourism For All Project in collaboration with the Dili Institute of Technology (DIT) and the […]

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22 May, 2019

Timor-Leste promotes faith-based tourism as pathway to Peace, Harmony and Friendship

Dili, Timor-Leste – In a high-profile bid to energise its national tourism policy and craft a unique selling proposition, Asia’s youngest country has reached out to its religious leaders to back a new faith-based promotion strategy built around the dozens of elegant Lady of Fatima shrines and churches dotting the country. At the first conference […]

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9 May, 2019

What on earth is the PATA CEO talking about?

The difference between a mediocre CEO and a great CEO is his/her ability to articulate a core leadership message in clear, simple language. This week, at the PATA Annual Summit in Cebu, board members will open their working papers to read the message below from CEO Dr Mario Hardy. Frankly, it left me scratching my […]

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9 May, 2019

More preaching to the converted at the PATA Annual Summit 2019

In April 2018, the Philippines announced a six-month closure of Boracay, a draconian order unprecedented in the history of Asia-Pacific tourism. Referring to it as a “cesspool”, President Duterte ordered the shutdown to facilitate the cleanup of an island once grandiosely cited in the tourist brochures as being “pristine” and “unspoiled”. The move triggered a […]

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29 Apr, 2019

Tourists out, turtles in at Conservation Centre run by Thai Navy

Exclusive report by Executive Editor Imtiaz Muqbil

Phuket/Phang-nga, South Thailand – South Thailand’s famous beaches are visited by millions of tourists annually. But just a few kilometres off the coast of Phuket is an island where tourists are out, turtles are in. In an era when overtourism and beach closures are making headlines, Huyong island is a fine example of the need […]

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30 Mar, 2019

Sustainable Development Forum flags chasm between rhetoric and reality

Bangkok — When Sabrina Rose Rasu, a young women’s rights activist from Vanuatu, spoke at the Sixth Asia-Pacific Forum on Sustainable Development on behalf of the Youth and Civil Society movements, she said explicitly, “We demand system change.” In four crystal clear words, she pinpointed both the problem (The System) and the solution (the need […]

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18 Mar, 2019

June 14, 2019: First Forum on The Greatest Story in Global Tourism HiSTORY

Bangkok – At 0900 hrs on March 18, exactly 59 years ago, what was then known as the Tourist Organisation of Thailand opened for business. Its duty, in the words of Gen Chalermchai Charuvastr, its first Director-General, was to promote visitor arrivals by “creating a wholesome image” of the Thai people. Editor’s Note The Forum […]

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