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Author Archive

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 […]


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 […]


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.


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 […]


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 […]


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 […]


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 […]


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 […]


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 […]


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 […]


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 […]


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 […]


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 […]


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 […]


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 […]


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 […]


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 […]


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. […]


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 […]


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 […]


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 […]


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 & […]


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 […]


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 […]


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 […]


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 […]


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 […]


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 […]


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 […]


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 […]


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 […]


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 […]


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 […]


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 […]


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 […]


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 […]


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 […]


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 […]


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, […]


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 […]


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 […]


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 […]


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 […]


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 […]


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 […]


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 […]


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 […]


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 […]


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 […]


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 […]


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 […]


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 […]


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 […]


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 […]


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 […]


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 […]


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 […]


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, […]


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 […]


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 […]


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, […]


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 […]


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 […]


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 […]


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 […]


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 […]


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 […]


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 […]


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 […]


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 […]


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 […]


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 […]


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 […]


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 […]


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 […]


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 […]


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 […]


15 Mar, 2019

Revealed: How Alwin Zecha and I helped the TAT bring the PATA HQ to Bangkok

Alwin Zecha, who passed away on 12 March 2019, was a passionate believer in the grandeur and glory of Asia. His multi-cultural background and multi-lingual capabilities allowed him to convert his passion into action, using the travel & tourism industry and the Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) as conjoined conduits. He was the first to […]


13 Mar, 2019

As garbage mountains pile up, young Southeast Asian leaders seek ecotourism solutions

Luang Prabang – Appalled by the mountains of garbage and waste being generated by tourists and local citizens, emerging young leaders from Southeast Asian countries ended a five-day workshop in this UNESCO World Heritage City by pitching a broad range of reduce-reuse-recycle solutions designed to cutback everything from household waste and street trash to plastic […]


8 Mar, 2019

What the “Industry of Peace” can learn from the Indo-Pak conflict

In 2018, the South Asian countries (India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Maldives, Nepal, Sri Lanka) received a total of 27.9 million tourists, a minuscule market share of 2% of the 1.4 billion tourists recorded globally. By contrast, the Southeast Asian countries received 129.3 million visitors (market share: 9.2%) and the Northeast Asian countries 168.4 million (market share: […]


4 Mar, 2019

ITB Berlin good place to start monitoring “mental health” of Travel & Tourism executives

As the ITB Berlin, the world’s largest trade show, gets under way today, it may be a good time to shine a light on one of the most important UN Sustainable Development Goals – improved global health, or more specifically, mental health. “Health and Wellness” is one of the most high profile niche-market segments of […]


18 Feb, 2019

Travel Impact Newswire Editor quits PATA membership. Here’s why.

Bangkok – This year, PATA began its third decade in Asia. I marked the occasion by terminating my membership. It was not an easy decision, but one I feel will actually benefit PATA over the long run. Everyone joins an association, or any club or organisation, for a reason. Mostly, it is to grow a […]


7 Feb, 2019

How Social Media is Dehumanising Humanity

By Reshma Dhewan

Global communications, both professional and personal, is dominated by social media. Like legacy airlines and travel agents, the mainstream channels of media and marketing, such as newspapers, magazines, TV and Radio, are gradually losing ground to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, and the like.   Note from the Editor This inaugural column by Reshma Dhewan, a […]


6 Feb, 2019

The best analysis of Thailand’s 2018 record-breaking visitor arrivals

An Exclusive Report by Executive Editor Imtiaz Muqbil

Bangkok — A detailed and comprehensive analysis of Thailand’s 2018 visitor arrivals and expenditure released by the Ministry of Tourism and Sports last week show some fascinating results that will have long-term implications for Thailand, ASEAN and the entire Asia-Pacific region. The two charts below show total Thai visitor arrivals and expenditure by month. More […]


11 Jan, 2019

Thailand plans seven ASEAN centres in 2019 to enhance regional sustainability, security and culture

Bangkok – Seven ASEAN Centres that could provide significant intellectual support for the growing challenge of managing the region’s rapidly growing travel & tourism industry are expected to be established/upgraded in Thailand over the course of 2019, when the kingdom will hold the chairmanship of the 10-member grouping. Ministry of Foreign Affairs Information Division Director […]


8 Jan, 2019

In “disruptive” move, Thai Tourism Minister publishes stats on scams, cheats and rogue cabbies

Bangkok – Thai Tourism Minister Weerasak Kowsurat has taken an extraordinarily “disruptive” step by publicly releasing the results of a crackdown by the Thai Tourist Police on hundreds of scams, frauds and other illegal actions faced by visitors to Thailand between Jan-October 2018. This is arguably the first time that any Tourism Minister worldwide has […]


24 Dec, 2018

Looking to liven up a boring tourism conference? Call “The Intrepid Traveller”

Many in the Asia-Pacific travel and tourism industry are familiar with publications such as TTG Asia, industry events such as IT&CMA, editorial personalities such as Yeoh Siew Hoon. Not many are aware of the behind-the-scenes persona who facilitated the rise of all three in the 1980s-90s. The 1980s was a golden period for Asia-Pacific travel. […]


19 Dec, 2018

First Buddhist University conf on SDGs mulls challenge of averting Global Warming AND Global Meltdown

Bangkok – When the Rector of the World Buddhist University (WBU), the Venerable Phra Anil Sakya was invited to speak recently at a conference of bankers and economists on alleviating poverty and implementing the UN Sustainable Development Goals, he asked if they had made a mistake inviting him in the first place. After listening to […]


13 Dec, 2018

New Era for Travel Journalism: Rating Bali on the First Tourism SDG Scorecard

Bali, Indonesia — A new era for travel & tourism requires new genres of travel journalism. Today, I am proud to launch a new kind of travelogue that transcends the traditional been-there done-that narrative. Instead, it will track how well destinations are faring in relation to the UN Sustainable Development Goals. Bali, the Island of […]


5 Dec, 2018

PATA Destination Marketing Forum skips addressing mistakes of dispersal and overtourism

Khon Kaen, Thailand – The PATA Destination Marketing Forum held in this Northeastern provincial city between 29-30 Nov stuck to the long-standing travel events formula of over-discussing topics within the traditional comfort-zones and under-discussing everything beyond. Based on the theme “Growth with Goals”, the forum was designed to promote secondary and tertiary cities in Thailand […]


29 Nov, 2018

Malaysian leader Anwar Ibrahim on Palestine: Their pain is my pain

Bangkok – With Israel wiping Palestine off the map in slow motion, accompanied by a wink-and-nod acquiescence from a growing number of Arab and African countries, the last remaining hold-out appears to be Asia. On 23 November, resurrected Malaysian political leader Anwar Ibrahim delivered an inspiring message of support for the long-suffering Palestinians in their […]


11 Nov, 2018

Brown Univ study tabulates casualties of the “War on Terror”, a wake-up call for the “Industry of Peace”

Bangkok — For the last few decades, and especially since the 9/11 attacks, the United States, the self-proclaimed “leader of the free world”, has been involved in several wars under the umbrella of the “War on Terror.” Today, as the killings continue unchecked, academic studies are striving to tabulate the grim costs in human life, […]


9 Nov, 2018

American Spring: Energised Muslims, Arabs, moderate Jews, set to battle Trump on travel ban, Palestine, and more

A number of Muslim, Arab-American and Jewish advocacy groups in the United States have celebrated what they consider to be historic victories in the U.S. midterm elections, along with rousing calls for more solidarity, unity and funding support to ride the wave to even bigger wins. This dispatch of Travel Impact Newswire compiles four such […]


22 Oct, 2018

ITB Asia 2018 continues the Great Dumbing Down of global travel trade shows

Singapore – Although the core focus of the mega-billion travel & tourism industry has unmistakably shifted from marketing to management, international events such as the ITB Asia, the region’s self-proclaimed “leading travel trade show” are still failing to reflect that transition. A search of the ITB Asia 2018 conference programme website yielded 113 results for […]


4 Oct, 2018

Blasts from the Past: Two historic speeches to cement the future of PATA

Langkawi, Malaysia — Backed by a disruption-free global and regional environment and commensurately steady rise in travel flows, the Pacific Asia Travel Association took positive steps forward at the PATA Travel Mart in Langkawi, Malaysia, between 12-16 Sept 2018. From an energetic Youth Symposium to a quality-not-quantity Travel Mart, high-profile Gold Awards ceremony to panoramic […]


26 Sep, 2018

UK-based watchdog group Tourism Concern dies, aged 29, due to funding shortage

Bangkok, 26 September 2018 — The UK-based tourism watchdog group Tourism Concern has announced its closure, citing a “lost battle for financial survival in these difficult times.” The group’s website has been shut down and replaced with the closure notification. The group was funded by volunteers, charities, foundations and membership fees. The closure announcement said […]


26 Sep, 2018

Langkawi’s “Green Laboratory” owner to share expertise at PATAcademy Dec 11-13

Langkawi, Malaysia — This is Anthony Wong, owner and Managing Director of the the award-winning,Frangipani Langkawi Resort & Spa. Hosting the PATA Environment Committee meeting just before the recent PATA Travel Mart 2018 in Langkawi, he sat quietly all through, listening patiently to the committee members banter on about their sustainability initiatives. After all the […]


25 Sep, 2018

Forging ASEAN integration at the PATA Travel Mart 2018: Two Buddhists and a Muslim visit a prominent Langkawi temple

Langkawi – One of the core objectives of the ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community 2025 Integration Blueprint is to build “a dynamic and harmonious community that is aware and proud of its identity, culture, and heritage.” UN Sustainable Development Goal 16 of the United Nations Agenda 2030 is to promote “peaceful and inclusive societies.” And Travel & […]


21 Sep, 2018

Three young women from India sweep top awards in The Olive Tree essay competition

Bangkok – Three young women from India have swept the top honours in the second round of The Olive Tree awards, a unique essay competition launched by this editor to forge a stronger linkage between Travel & Tourism and the UN Sustainable Development Goals. Twinkle Malukani, 22, Vinita Srinivasan, 22, and Natasha Goel, 25, received […]


12 Sep, 2018

How long before Langkawi becomes another Boracay?

Langkawi, Malaysia — How long before the once pristine, unspoiled island of Langkawi goes the same way as Boracay, the Philippines island that was shut down earlier this year for a few months breather from the pressure of tourism? That was the question I posed right at the start of a workshop on forging stronger […]