Tag Archives: Bangkok

Making tourism accessible for all on this Wold Tourism Day

banner_unwto_home_wtd_en_0-jpg-crop_display_0Tourism for all: people with disabilities, senior citizens and families travelling with small children, and sooner or later all citizens will appreciate the advantages of universal accessibility. This is why UNWTO has chosen to celebrate World Tourism Day 2016 on the theme of accessible tourism. Official celebrations are taking place today at Bangkok, Thailand. The World Tourism Day event started with an amazing performance at the Siam Kempinski Hotel. The opening included a touching rendition of blind people performing and singing “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.” 

For the last quarter–century World Tourism Day, held annually on 27 September, has aimed to foster awareness of the importance of tourism and its social, cultural, political and economic impact. This year’s theme is ‘Tourism for All – Promoting Universal Accessibility’. Reaching universal accessibility in tourism is a shared responsibility of everybody involved in the tourism value chain, as well as a business opportunity for companies and destinations.

siamniramit_krathong“Everyone has the right to access leisure and tourism services on an equal basis. Yet 1 billion people around the world living with disability, along with young children, seniors and persons with other access requirements, still face obstacles in accessing fundamentals of travel such as clear and reliable information, efficient transportation and public services, and a physical environment that is easy to navigate.  Even with modern technologies, those with visual, hearing, mobility or cognitive impairments are being left behind in many tourism destinations.” said United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon in his official message.

Nehantic Trail - Rhododentron Sanctuary Trail entrance sign.
Nehantic Trail – Rhododentron Sanctuary Trail entrance sign.

“All of the world’s citizens have the right to experience the incredible diversity this planet has to offer. Therefore, it is highly important that all countries and destinations, as well as the industry, promote accessibility for all in the physical environment, in transport systems, in public facilities and services and in information and communications channels”, said UNWTO Secretary-General, Taleb Rifai. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 15% of the world’s population (1 billion people) is estimated to live with some form of disability. UNWTO is convinced that accessibility for all to tourist facilities, products, and services should be a central part of any responsible and sustainable tourist policy.

man-in-a-wheelchair-cross-001“This year’s theme, ‘Tourism for All – Promoting Universal Accessibility’, is a challenge for Thailand and the world to recognize the necessity of accessibility in tourism and to accommodate everyone anywhere they may travel to (…) We have to understand the theory of Universal Design (…) As the world of travel and tourism is an expanding industry and the number of travelers increases every year, we have to ensure that travelling the world has to is as safe and seamless as possible,” explained Kobkarn Wattanavrangkul, Minister of Tourism and Sports of Thailand.

foto5488e359c065dDuring the official event, experts on accessibility and tourism are exchanging views and best practices, addressing the need to work in cooperation to advance in the ‘Tourism for All’ agenda. Creating an adequate policy framework for specific business development strategies, the need to increase awareness and capacity building targeting both decision makers and tourism professionals are some of the topics being addressed during the conference.

accessible-tourism-benefits-of-travelThe conference will also address innovative strategies in the development of accessible tourism infrastructure, products and services which add value to destinations and enhance their competitiveness on the global tourism market. A number of best practices will be featured with the aim of emphasizing the value of investing in accessibility.

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Thailand Grand Sale 2014 to be the biggest ever

ThailandGrandSaleIndians love shopping and India’s favourite shopping destination is going on a three-month-long sale!! After lifting of curfew from the tourists hotspots comes the news that the annual Thailand Grand Sale has returned and will take place between 15 June and 15 August 2015 across Thailand’s. It means just a ten days from now! Discounts range from 20% to 80% across shopping malls, department stores and also accommodation, beauty & wellness and entertainment centers.

A record 15,000 establishments in seven of Thailand’s most important tourism cities are participating in the “Amazing Thailand Grand Sale 2014”, making it the biggest ever. The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) has launched a special website to promote the grand annual shopping event, which will be held in Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Phuket, Hat Yai, Pattaya, Hua Hin and Samui. Participants include department stores, shopping centres, accommodation, spa and beauty, golf courses, entertainment centres and restaurants. As in previous years, the Grand Sale is designed to boost tourism and visitor expenditure, further building the image of Thailand as a major shopping destination, and contributing to job creation and distribution of income nationwide.

Enjoy the free coupon
Enjoy the free coupon

TAT Governor, Mr. Thawatchai Arunyik said, “This year’s Grand Sale has a special meaning because it will be an important part of our tourism recovery strategy for 2014. This campaign will help provoke an income to tourism sectors and entrepreneurs in the participating areas and we hope visitors will take full advantage of the great discounts.”

There are two activities during “Amazing Thailand Grand Sale 2014”:

• Up to 80% discounts at department stores, shopping centres, shops, spas, hotels and other Grand Sale participants.

• Amazing Thailand Grand Sale Shopping Challenge; On June 18, 2014, well known celebrities in various fields from Asian countries will have a shopping competition in participating complexes and centres. A total of 15 teams from Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore, the Philippines, India, Vietnam, Cambodia, Myanmar,Taiwan, China, Japan and Korea are competing this year. The winner team will receive a cash prize of 100, 000 Baht.

This year’s Grand Sale has also been enhanced by two lucky-draw prizes of Travel 365 days in Thailand for two couples (one from abroad, one local) to enjoy a trip within Thailand. Visitors will get a coupon from participating partners, which upon expenditure of every 500 Baht by cash or any credit card at any one place. However, if they pay by VISA card, they will get two coupons. The coupons can be dropped into the lucky draw drop box. The winning couples will get free Thai Airways’ return air-tickets and accommodation at Centara’s hotels & resorts. As for the prize, the winning couples can take their trip any time within 365 days.

Street Market in Bangkok
Street Market in Bangkok

Sethaphan Buddhani, director, Tourism Authority of Thailand, Mumbai Office said, “Among Thailand’s inbound markets, Indians top the list of big shoppers. Shopping sprees are a priority on any Indian itinerary to Thailand. Moreover, Indians tend to respond well to the concept of shopping festivals and I foresee a good response to the Thailand Grand Sale 2014. The unbelievable bargains and the chance to win is certain to prompt travelllers to plan a visit between 15 June and 15 August 2014.”

TAT estimates that tourist spending on shopping via credit cards alone will grow by 20% over last year. In 2013, Thailand attracted 26.5 million international visitors, a good growth of 27.03% over the 2012. India’s contribution was over 1 million travellers at 1,049,856 travellers, a growth of nearly 4% over 2012.

Caution for tourists visiting Thailand

An anti-government protester waves a Thai national flag during a march through streets in Bangkok, Thailand, Monday, May 19, 2014. Thailand's political crisis deepened last week when the Constitutional Court removed Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra for nepotism along with nine Cabinet members in a case that many viewed as politically motivated. Protesters say Yingluck's removal is not enough, though. She was simply replaced by Niwattumrong, who was a deputy premier from the ruling party.(AP Photo/Sakchai Lalit)
An anti-government protester waves a Thai national flag during a march through streets in Bangkok, Thailand, Monday, May 19, 2014. Thailand’s political crisis deepened last week when the Constitutional Court removed Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra for nepotism along with nine Cabinet members in a case that many viewed as politically motivated. Protesters say Yingluck’s removal is not enough, though. She was simply replaced by Niwattumrong, who was a deputy premier from the ruling party.(AP Photo/Sakchai Lalit)

Thai military has taken control of the country to prevent the conflict from escalating. The preemptive move came after talks between representatives of opposing sides and top officials failed to reach a common ground. A nationwide curfew has been announced from 22.00 – 05.00 hours effective Thursday, and martial law is to remain in effect until further notice, the army announced. Businesses and public services are adjusting their operating hours to comply with the curfew.

Photo: courtesy CNN
Photo: courtesy CNN

All airports in Thailand remain open, and air passengers with arrival and departure flights scheduled during the curfew can travel to and from the airports at any time as usual. However, tourists with arrival and departure flights during the curfew are advised to prepare all travel documents when travelling to and from the airports.

Travellers arriving at Thailand during the curfew should experience no difficulty finding taxis to their destination. However, in another preemptive move, a CIP lounge has been introduce to offer a comfortable wait for those who desire to make their commute after the end of the curfew at 5 am. Travellers may also contact the Suvarabhumi Airport call centre on 1722.
Thai office workers walk past armed soldiers standing guard outside the Shinawatra Tower Two in Bangkok, Thailand, 20 May 2014. Thai army Chief Prayuth Chan-ocha early on 20 May 2014, declared martial law giving the military full control to prevent further protest-related violence in the country. The statement was issued about 3 am on 20 May (2000 GMT), according to local media reports. Prayuth has the authority to declare martial law without the consent of the government, which has had caretaker status since 09 December 2013. Thailand has been wracked by six months of non-stop protests seeking to topple the government. At least 25 people have died in political-related violence and more than 700 injured.  EPA/NARONG SANGNAK /LANDOV
Thai office workers walk past armed soldiers standing guard outside the Shinawatra Tower Two in Bangkok, Thailand, 20 May 2014. Thai army Chief Prayuth Chan-ocha early on 20 May 2014, declared martial law giving the military full control to prevent further protest-related violence in the country. The statement was issued about 3 am on 20 May (2000 GMT), according to local media reports. Prayuth has the authority to declare martial law without the consent of the government, which has had caretaker status since 09 December 2013. Thailand has been wracked by six months of non-stop protests seeking to topple the government. At least 25 people have died in political-related violence and more than 700 injured. EPA/NARONG SANGNAK /LANDOV

Tourism officials claim that all offices and businesses are functioning as usual and all the tourist attractions are welcoming visitors. Life in Bangkok is running smoothly and everything is on track. Set haphan Buddhani, director, Tourism Authority of Thailand says “This is a preemptive move aimed at preventing any damage to property or any escalation of the protest. Tourists can continue to enjoy the kingdom’s renowned hospitality and exciting attractions. However, we advise travellers to avoid rally locations and adhere to the curfew. I underline that those with flights to catch may go ahead as usual, but must keep documents handy as they journey to the airport.”

The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) also says that it is closely monitoring the situation, and will be providing more updates as soon as there are further developments. Tourists looking for information on-the-go may contact the TAT Call Centre on 1672the Tourist Police Call Centre on 1155 and the Traffic Police Call Centre on 1197 for information and assistance.
Thai soldiers patrol on foot on a road near the rally site for pro-government demonstrators on the outskirts of Bangkok, Thailand Thursday, May 22, 2014. The opponents in Thailand's polarizing political crisis prepared Thursday for a second round of talks mediated by the country's army chief, who says he invoked martial law and then summoned the bitter rivals to try to end six months of turmoil. (AP Photo/Wason Wanichakorn)
Thai soldiers patrol on foot on a road near the rally site for pro-government demonstrators on the outskirts of Bangkok, Thailand Thursday, May 22, 2014. The opponents in Thailand’s polarizing political crisis prepared Thursday for a second round of talks mediated by the country’s army chief, who says he invoked martial law and then summoned the bitter rivals to try to end six months of turmoil. (AP Photo/Wason Wanichakorn)

Whereas, CNN reports that for international tourists looking to visit Thailand for a seasonal winter getaway, it’s hard to be blase about the situation. Street protests, grenade attacks, martial law and military coups just aren’t part of their daily vernacular and the recent months of political conflict have taken their toll on Thailand’s tourism industry.

Though some Bangkok tourists CNN spoke with say it’s easy to avoid the protests by keeping abreast of the news, in recent months many opted to follow the advice of the dozens of countries that issued warnings to its citizens about the situation in the Thai capital and avoid it altogether. Instead, they’re heading for the country’s other popular destinations like Chiang Mai, Koh Samui or Phuket.