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22 Feb, 2024

To become a multi-sectoral HUB, Thailand first needs to build its HOB

Bangkok — On 22 Feb, Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin unveiled an “IGNITE Thailand Vision” policy to make the kingdom a HUB of tourism, health & wellness, agriculture & food, aviation, logistics, future mobility, digital economy and finance. But speakers at a conference on promoting interfaith dialogue held at Bangkok’s prestigious Chulalongkorn University on Feb 17 […]

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18 Feb, 2024

SDGs will fail to meet 2030 target, but Travel & Tourism can still be a big help

Bangkok — The “unfavourable global context” has rendered the 2030 target for the UN Sustainable Development Goals unachievable, according to a UN report. Although considerable progress has been made across all the 17 goals, it is “uneven and inadequate” across countries and categories, and will not be fully achieved until 2062. The progress report was […]

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14 Feb, 2024

First Time in Thailand – Bangkok Mosques to conduct Open House tours

Bangkok – For the first time in Thailand, dozens of mosques across Bangkok will open their doors for public visitation over the Eid Ul Fitr holiday around 9-10 April, the biggest Islamic event which follows the end of the fasting month of Ramadan. The project is designed to build peace, harmony, friendship and multicultural awareness, […]

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11 Feb, 2024

Thai travel industry urged to reduce usage of US$ for doing business

Bangkok – The Thai travel & tourism industry has been warned about using the US dollar for business transactions and urged to use the currencies of the countries with which they are doing business. In a landmark lecture at this year’s joint meeting of the Association of Thai Travel Agents and the Thai Hotels Association […]

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8 Feb, 2024

Geopolitics shunts sustainability as the biggest threat to Travel & Tourism

Bangkok — Thailand’s foreign policy of maintaining strict neutrality in the midst of superpower bunfights has become the key to its national security and economic survival. Although Travel & Tourism is both a major component and beneficiary of that policy, the prospect of prolonged global geopolitical instability means that industry is hanging by a thread, […]

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31 Jan, 2024

Saudi Arabia in big demand at Thai travel show as outbound rebounds

Bangkok – Saudi Tourism made its second appearance at the 29th Thailand International Travel Fair [TITF 2024], the annual event organised by the Thai Travel Agents Association (TTAA), which groups the country’s outbound travel agents and tour operators. It was one of the highlights of the 24-28 January event at the Queen Sirikit National Convention […]

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29 Dec, 2023

Person of the Year: The Israeli conscientious objector Tal Mitnick, 18

The travel and tourism industry has long feigned concern about the “NextGen”. Multiple activities are organised regularly to help them inherit a better future. The way things are going, that does not seem likely. Today, I am making a small attempt to thwart that downward trend by conferring, for the first time, a Travel Impact […]

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24 Dec, 2023

Thailand tourism enjoys robust rebound in 2023 but danger looms high for 2024

Bangkok — Since the end of the Covid-19 crisis in 2021, Thai tourism has enjoyed a robust rebound and is set to end 2023 just a little shy of 30 million visitors. While that may heighten optimism of hitting the pre-Covid total of 40 million in 2024, the Israel-Palestine war is already having an impact […]

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22 Dec, 2023

Thailand’s telegenic, fashionable, peace-promoting tourism Brand Ambassador

Bangkok – I am often challenged to prove my characterisation of Thailand as “The Greatest Story in Global Tourism HiSTORY.” Having covered this chaotic yet magnificent country’s high-flying tourism industry since 1981, I have seen and experienced its unique selling propositions across multiple sectors. Today, I can claim that Thailand has the world’s most telegenic, […]

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21 Dec, 2023

PATA Chairman, an American, blasts global geopolitical unrest as “existential threat” to tourism

Bangkok — Mr Peter Semone, the American chairman of the Pacific Asia Travel Association, has unleashed a blistering attack on the “ethnocentrism and extreme views” dominating the political discourse in his country. “America used to be a melting pot where anyone could succeed regardless of your place of birth, race, creed, religion, or ethnicity. The […]

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19 Dec, 2023

Bangkok art exhibitions reflect Peace and Tranquility but Reality paints a different picture

Bangkok — On 16 December 2023, my wife and I spent a few hours immersed in the grandeur of art as an expression of peace and tranquility at the Jim Thompson Art Center in Bangkok. One exhibition titled “Echoed Tranquillity” combined the works of Din Q. Le (Vietnam), Toshiko Tanaka (Japan) and Pratchaya Pinthong (Thailand). […]

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6 Dec, 2023

Gaza butchery set to boost bottom-lines of global merchants of death, especially the Israelis

Bangkok – The blood of innocent Palestinians is set to generate a financial goldmine for Israeli arms dealers Elbit Systems, Israel Aerospace Industries and Rafael. According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), the aggregate arms revenue of these three companies rose by 6.5 per cent to $12.4 billion in 2022. That was triggered […]

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29 Nov, 2023

Is Travel & Tourism ready for the catastrophic fallout of the Israel-Palestine conflict?

Today, Nov 29, marks the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People. It comes against the backdrop of Israel’s genocide against the Palestinian people, supported by the United States and several European countries in line with Israel’s “right to defend itself”. The savagery and brutality of the latest round of conflict has left deep […]

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28 Nov, 2023

ASEAN Young Gen team to push indigenous “Cultural Wisdom” at Climate Change conference

Bangkok — How did people live in the pre-oil era? A life free of gas-guzzling cars, electricity, aircraft, condominiums, etc, was quite comfortable, apparently. According to the Southeast Asian Cultural Heritage Alliance (SEACHA), people had more than enough know-how to “manage land, forests, rivers and seas that are climate-friendly, sustainable, and adaptable; age-old methods for […]

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27 Nov, 2023

FREE Lectures on Visit Thailand Year 1987 to mark HM the late King Bhumibhol’s 96th birth anniversary

Dec 5, 2023 will mark the 96th birth anniversary of His Majesty the late King Bhumibhol Adulyadej the Great.   It will be His Majesty’s 8th 12-year cycle birth anniversary.   Exactly 36 years ago, in 1987, His Majesty’s 5th cycle birth anniversary was marked with a momentous national celebration known as Visit Thailand Year, […]

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27 Nov, 2023

Hotelbeds MarketHub summit shows recovery is on a roll, but danger looms

Bangkok – The travel industry is awash with statistics celebrating the AC (After Covid) “recovery”. But the next crisis is already on the cards. While both trends were on display at the annual Hotelbeds MarketHub summit in Bangkok between 21-23 November, it was apparent that travel corporations and stakeholders are still operating within the traditional […]

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24 Nov, 2023

Make “behavioural change”, former Thai Tourism Minister tells business leaders

Bangkok — Former Thai Minister of Tourism & Sports, Senator Weerasak Kowsurat, one of the country’s most respected industry personalities, says global business leaders will need to make a “behavioural change” if they wish to deal with the twin challenges facing both the natural environment as well as their own business operating environment. Citing the […]

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4 Nov, 2023

04 Nov 1995: The Death of “Peace Through Tourism” and the Failure of Travel & Tourism Leadership

04 Nov should be declared a Day of Mourning in Travel & Tourism. It marked the first and last time the Prime Minister of any country addressed an audience of leading hoteliers on how they, the whole world and the future generation will profit from “PEACE THROUGH TOURISM”. A retired military officer proudly proclaiming that […]

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21 Oct, 2023

Nov 4 Webinar: An Act of Evil Terrorism that Changed the Course of History

Countdown to Nov 4 – The day a Jewish Zionist fanatic terrorist changed the course of history. I was the only travel trade journalist from Asia in Tel Aviv the night Yigal Amir assassinated Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, a Nobel Peace prize winner. The mayhem unfolding in the Middle East today is exactly what […]

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5 Oct, 2023

A tribute to Pran Nath Seth: The veteran Indian travel journalist who saw tomorrow

As “sustainability” is dominating discussions at the PATA Travel Mart in New Delhi this week, I felt it would be a good idea to hark back to the words of the late Indian travel writer and analyst Pran Nath Seth, arguably the first journalist to warn way back in the 1980s about the risk of […]

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4 Oct, 2023

The two Indian travel veterans who shook up PATA

As the Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) meets this week for the Travel Mart in New Delhi, it may be timely to recognise two late Indian veterans who defied the odds to bring about changes which had far-reaching impact on PATA and the Asia-Pacific travel industry. Mr Inder Sharma (PATA President, 1992-93) spearheaded the membership […]

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12 Sep, 2023

Tourism aiding rehabilitation of convicts, drug dealers in North Thailand

Chiang Mai / Chiang Rai Provinces, North Thailand — Hundreds of convicted prisoners serving time in two Northern Thailand correctional institutions are being rehabilitated and prepared to lead a post-release normal life under an Inspire project initiated by Princess Bajarakitiyabha, the eldest daughter of Thai King Maha Vajiralongkorn. Tourism is proving to be an important […]

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28 Aug, 2023

Game-changing Lecture not to be missed: Thailand as the World’s First “Alliance of Civilisations” Destination

Bangkok – September 2023 will be an important month in the history of Thailand. Within Thailand, a new Minister of Tourism will take charge in the Cabinet which has just been cobbled together after the contentious May 2023 elections. The Tourism Authority of Thailand will get a new Governor, Mrs Thapanee Kiatphaibool, the TAT’s 11th […]

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25 Aug, 2023

As time runs out, SDG targets still a long way from being met, Thailand’s UN diplomat warns

Bangkok – On 24 August, I covered an event at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on the role of global aid and development agencies in promoting sustainability in Thailand, the Mekong countries and beyond. Organised by the Thailand International Cooperation Agency (TICA), a unit of the MFA, the event included agencies from the US, Japan, […]

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10 Aug, 2023

First TAT event for social media influencers opens new chapter in travel communications

Bangkok – Thailand’s travel industry communications entered a new era on 9 Aug 2023 with the first fully-hosted fam trips exclusively designed for 60 influencers and social-media bloggers commanding a total claimed following of 26 million. Effectively, it marked the beginning of the end of decades of relations with the legacy media, especially the travel […]

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7 Aug, 2023

Thailand Tourism Festival highlights its value as a “Confluence of Civilisations”

Bangkok — Thousands of people hit the 41st Thailand Tourism Festival between August 2-6 to enjoy the best of the kingdom’s creativity, culture, cuisine, community products, colour and crafts. On the surface, it was just the usual holiday show, for visitors to eat, drink, get a massage, enjoy FREE music and dance performances, hear FREE […]

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5 Aug, 2023

Unlocking the real value of “India’s Best Kept Secret”

Bangkok – In his welcoming remarks at the inaugural Odisha tourism roadshow in Bangkok Mr. J.K. Mohanty, Co-Chair of the Federation of the Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) Tourism Committee, highlighted the historic significance and value of visiting the East Indian coastal state via its capital, Bhubaneswar. The people of Thailand are Buddhists, […]

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28 Jul, 2023

Where the desert meets the rainforest — Thai, Saudi rural/ecotourism bodies sign collaboration MoU

Bangkok – Relations between Thailand and Saudi Arabia took another positive step forward with the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding to promote collaboration between two leading rural/ecotourism associations in both kingdoms. Signed on 14 July in Bangkok, the MoU is one amongst a broad range of activities and projects being initiated across multiple sectors […]

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25 Jul, 2023

Tourism Academics struggle to cope with overwhelming pace of change

Bangkok / Kuala Lumpur — The depth and breadth of changes sweeping through global Travel & Tourism are challenging the relevance and value of tourism studies system-wide to the point where academics themselves are struggling to adjust. Speaking at the annual ASEAN Tourism Researchers Association (ATRA) Forum on 21 July, Assoc. Prof. Dr. Joaquim Dias […]

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19 Jul, 2023

Palestinians bid to open Thai/Vietnamese markets for health and farm products, herbal soap, carved stonework

Bangkok – Palestinian business consultant Hanan Taha Rayyan was in Bangkok in early July to promote business and tourism between Thailand and Palestine. In an interview, I asked her what products can Thai companies buy from Palestine. This is what she sent me: With proper marketing support, these products could easily find buyers amongst Thai […]

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10 Jul, 2023

Malaysia’s MYairline launches Bangkok flights, faces tough battle with AirAsia

Bangkok — The new Malaysia-based low-cost airline MYairline has launched its first international routes between Kuala Lumpur and Bangkok. In a press conference on 05 July 2023, CEO Rayner Teo said the gameplan is to enter the high-density routes and gain market-share. However, in a clear sign that it faces a tough battle, its mainstream […]

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26 Jun, 2023

Phuket’s Expo 2028 loss: Physician, Heal Thyself

Bangkok – The Thai team involved in the failed bid for the Specialised Expo 2027/28 is closely analysing the reasons for the shocking loss, with a view to learning the lessons of the experience. As Thailand is not exactly well known for learning the lessons of any experience, especially the not so rosy ones, the […]

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16 Jun, 2023

Buddhist Monk offers East-West hybrid path to navigate polarisation

In a lecture on the topic of “Navigating a Polarised Society” in Bangkok on June 14, the Venerable Amaro Bhikkhu, Abbot of Amaravati Monastery in the UK, cited the North and South Poles as examples of “polarisation” in terms of geographical distance. This same gap now applies, literally, to ideologies, economic and political systems worldwide. […]

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10 Jun, 2023

Thailand’s rip-roaring Masala Wedding Fair is back, funky and vibrant as ever

Bangkok – Thailand’s largest and most popular Indian wedding exhibition, The Masala Wedding Fair, is marking its 10th anniversary this year at the Bangkok Marriott Marquis Queen’s Park hotel between June 10-11. It is a one-stop shop for trade buyers, consumers and the general public keen to tap the multi-million baht opportunity for planning and […]

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6 Jun, 2023

India suffers 12-point drop in Global Muslim Travel Index rankings

India has dropped a staggering 12 points in the destination rankings of the annual Mastercard-CrescentRating Global Muslim Travel Index 2023. It is the fourth straight year of decline since 2019. Although some blame is being laid at the doorstep of the Covid-19 crisis, most of it is being directly attributed to the anti-Muslim, Islamophobic political […]

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31 May, 2023

Trial by fire for “responsible and sustainable travel”

This week, Nepal is playing host to the Adventure Mart and Annual Summit of the Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA). According to the website, it is “a global tourism forum that brings together international thought leaders, industry shapers and senior decision-makers from both the public and private sectors to address issues and opportunities in the […]

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28 May, 2023

How Death Outlives War: The Human Costs of “The Other Global Warming”

Bangkok — Over the last 50 years, extreme weather turbo-charged by man-made global warming has caused more than two million deaths and $4.3 trillion in economic losses, according to a World Meteorological Organisation report released on 22 May. A week earlier, on 15 May, the Costs of War project had issued a report estimating that […]

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22 May, 2023

Registration link: How recent elections in “Incredible India” and “Amazing Thailand” will impact Travel & Tourism

The extraordinary anti-establishment results of the May 2023 elections in both Thailand and India could prove to be a geopolitical game-changer for Asia. Travel & Tourism will be affected for better and/or for worse. Join this unmatched analysis and discussion with Imtiaz Muqbil, Executive Editor, Travel Impact Newswire, the Asia-Pacific region’s leading Travel & Tourism […]

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1 May, 2023

Labour Day: Global workers say People suffering more than Planet, more strikes likely

Bangkok – The global trades union movement has issued a strong May 1 Labour Day statement chastising corporations and governments for prioritising the planet over the suffering of working people. The statement warns that more strikes can be expected if the situation continues to deteriorate. Marking its 150th anniversary this year, the International Trades Union […]

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26 Apr, 2023

As wars rage, tourism suffers, the arms bazaar prospers

Bangkok — On 24 April, the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) released its annual report on global military expenditure. It makes shocking reading. Even as the world grapples with poverty, climate change, health pandemics, natural disasters and struggles to revive jobs and economic growth, total global military expenditure increased by 3.7% in real terms […]

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21 Apr, 2023

Unipolar or Multipolar World: Russia to hold U.N. debate on ways to dethrone U.S.

United Nations — On 24 April 2023, a landmark debate is to be held at the UN HQ in New York on ways to dethrone the United States and its allies as the global unipolar power and replace it with a multipolar, “equitable and democratic international order.” The debate, called by the Russian Federation in […]

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9 Apr, 2023

Legalisation of Thai sex work: 15 questions for Travel & Tourism to consider NOW!!

Bangkok – Thailand is heading towards legalising sex work. Making the sale of sex similar to that of selling any service, it is hoped, will end the currently widespread harmful side-effects: corruption, human trafficking, human rights violations, and more. It will also allow sex workers to become mainstream members of the workforce, with rights for […]

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14 Mar, 2023

Register here: 10 Simple, Creative Ways Thai Travel & Tourism SMEs can MAKE MORE MONEY

This post contains details of the registration process for the Executive Business Briefing on 28 March 2023 on “10 Simple, Creative Ways Thai Travel & Tourism SMEs can MAKE MORE MONEY.”

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3 Mar, 2023

Organic and Balance Tourism featured at Thai “Happy Society” Fair

Nakhon Pathom, Thailand — Organic tourism and Balanced Tourism products were both prominently present at the 8th Annual Sookjai Organic Festival held at the Suan Sampran eco-resort (https://suansampran.com/) between February 17-19. They were among a vast spread of organic products and services on display, ranging from fruits and vegetables to arts, crafts, fashion accessories, cosmetics, […]

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28 Feb, 2023

Change at the Top: Next Few Months Will be Critical for PATA

Bangkok – The first female and Asian-American appointed as CEO of the Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) has also turned out to be its shortest-serving. The 27 February 2023 announcement of the resignation of Ms Liz Ortiguera and the accompanying statement to the PATA membership by Chairman Peter Semone beg two questions: 1) What Happened? […]

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17 Feb, 2023

Japan leads visa-free destination presence at revived Thai outbound travel show

Bangkok – Japan and the visa-free destinations of Northeast Asia and ASEAN took up an estimated 60% of the floor space at the 28th Thailand International Travel Fair held at the Queen Sirikit National Convention Centre in Bangkok between 16-19 February 2023. Saudi Arabia also made its inaugural appearance. The show has come back to […]

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13 Feb, 2023

WebBeds Summit proves that Thai foreign policy, not tourism policy, is leading the recovery

Bangkok – Thai tourism is bouncing back robustly, thanks to open doors, vigorous marketing campaigns and a hungry private sector. But a closer look will show that Thai foreign policy, not tourism policy, is the bedrock reason for the recovery. Recognising the significance and importance of that could prove to be a turning point in […]

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1 Feb, 2023

Critical Tourism Studies conference in Vietnam will reset the post-Covid agenda

Bangkok — The post-Covid travel & tourism agenda in the Asia Pacific is heading for a major reset at the upcoming 3rd Critical Tourism Studies (CTS) Conference to be held in Vietnam, Hanoi, between 13-17 February 2023. In a radical departure from the politically correct topics which dominate the humdrum travel trade business forums, dozens […]

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22 Jan, 2023

Watershed conference flags wisdom-based cultural solutions to Climate Change crisis

Bangkok — The search for solutions to the climate change crisis is dominated by expensive and complicated technological and financial fixes. But a three-day conference organised by the Southeast Asia Cultural Heritage Alliance (SEACHA) jointly with Thailand’s pre-eminent natural history and heritage institution, the Siam Society, cited the region’s centuries-old cultural and spiritual wisdoms as […]

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15 Dec, 2022

Registration details: “Shaping a Better Future for Thai Tourism by Understanding the Past”

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12 Dec, 2022

Celebrity designer Jimmy Choo officiates at Malaysian segment of Thai Silk Fashion Expo

Bangkok – Celebrity Malaysian fashion designer Datuk Jimmy Choo was a Guest of Honour at the Malaysian segment of the Thai Silk International Fashion Week held at the Siam Paragon Hall in Bangkok between December 7-11, 2022 International fashion designers from more than 60 nations participated in the 25 shows held to celebrate a collection […]

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9 Dec, 2022

How a Pattaya transgender show promotes unity, diversity and humanity

Pattaya, Thailand — Transgender shows are must-visit attractions in the Thai beach resort of Pattaya. Decked in glittering costumes, the heavily made-up performers lip-sync their way through a repertoire of popular songs. It may come across as superficial, dumbed-down entertainment, but one transgender show has elevated the content with a message of socio-cultural harmony which […]

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29 Nov, 2022

What do APEC summits really achieve?

Enormous amounts of time, effort and money go into hosting summits such as the APEC 2022. They always end with rah-rah statements hailing their success. But are they really a “success”? How does one define, evaluate and rate “success”? Is there room for an objective debate? One way of analysing the outcomes is to rewind […]

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23 Nov, 2022

Discovering the APEC 2022 theme “Open Connect Balance” in Northeast Thailand

Bangkok – Hundreds of journalists from Thailand and around the world covered the APEC summit in Bangkok between 18-19 November. Not me. Having reported on dozens of such summits over my 50 years in journalism, I no longer see the need to tolerate onerous security requirements or waste time listening to speeches and finding information […]

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17 Nov, 2022

A soul-searching tour to keep Thailand safe from “The Other Global Warming”

Bangkok – On 29 Oct 2022, I took a group of civil society tourism activists on an Alliance of Civilisations tour of the Bangkok riverside. These iconic sites — an historic temple, church and mosque in one neighbourhood cluster — represent the real competitive advantage of Thai tourism, viz., a Buddhist-majority kingdom with a complete […]

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6 Nov, 2022

Israeli elections outcome makes a Clash of Civilisations a near certainty

The return of Israeli politician Benjamin Netanyahu as Prime Minister of Israel is set to intensify the Clash of Civilisations (which I have labelled “The Other Global Warming”) and worsen the threats to global security and stability. That Travel & Tourism will eventually feel the heat is a foregone conclusion. In a macabre quirk of […]

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3 Nov, 2022

How to find and retain staff post-Covid? Try compassion, empathy and fairness

Bangkok: Sukamal Mondal is one of a rising generation of Indian-born management executives in global Travel & Tourism. Since moving from China to Thailand in 2012, the Mandarin-speaking hotelier has risen to Area General Manager of eight properties of the Onyx Hospitality Group, owned by the Thai business conglomerate Italthai. As Thai tourism goes from […]

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24 Oct, 2022

PATA Summit topics all “Old Hat”, says industry veteran

When the Covid-19 crisis began in 2020 and hit its peak in 2021, the global travel & tourism industry saw some glimmer of hope that it would soon come to an end. Recovery and resilience campaigns emerged on the drawing boards, with three mantras dominating the discourse: 1) Build Back Better; 2) Create a New […]

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29 Sep, 2022

“Rethinking Tourism” on the agenda at the Foreign Correspondents Club of Thailand

Bangkok — I enjoyed a refreshing and stimulating World Tourism Day discussion on “Rethinking Tourism” at the Foreign Correspondents Club of Thailand, the oldest, largest and most active foreign media club in Southeast Asia. Here are some of the core takeaways from the Sept 28 panel discussion: 1. Senator Weerasak Kowsurat, a former Thai tourism […]

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29 Aug, 2022

Now in Thailand: Asia’s first Alliance of Civilisations visitor experience

Bangkok – More by chance than design, Thailand has created Asia’s first Alliance of Civilisations visitor experience. Initiated by the Thai Foreign Ministry, primarily to serve a diplomatic purpose, the “Community of Three Religions” offers a perfect base for designing a global community-based Travel & Tourism model in the post-Covid era. As the widely-forecast Clash […]

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19 Aug, 2022

“13 Lives” Thai actor hopes film delivers a Greater Good for Thailand and the world

Bangkok – The hugely positive global reaction to the movie “13 Lives” will be a marketing bonanza for Thai travel & tourism but one of its lead Thai actors says he truly hopes it will go beyond that and deliver a greater good for Thai society and humanity at large. In an interview last week, […]

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15 Aug, 2022

India at 75: At the Epicentre of a Clash of Civilisations

India marked the 75th  anniversary of its independence on Aug 15 with widespread soul-searching about its past, present and future. The country is now the epicentre of the Clash of Civilisations, openly pursuing a “Muslim-mukt” (Muslim-free) agenda that will take at least a few decades to succeed. The path ahead is strewn with conflict and […]

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9 Aug, 2022

Sixteen thought-prompting takeaways from “Thirteen Lives”

Released worldwide last week, “Thirteen Lives” is much more than just a movie. In a world obsessed with story-telling, it is a Grand Story of the first order. Like all stories of heroism, it can be viewed, enjoyed and forgotten, or it can be studied as a work of art or literature. I opted for […]

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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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