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New airline Vinpearl Air to enter Vietnam’s aviation market

The Thaiger



New airline Vinpearl Air to enter Vietnam’s aviation market | The Thaiger

PHOTO: Hà Nội News

The Hanoi Department of Planning and Investment in Vietnam granted a business licence to yet another new airline start-up – Vinpearl Air, a member of Vingroup.

Vinpearl Air was established on April 22 with headquarters in Hanoi ’s Vinhomes Riverside Long Biên.

The airline will have international routes and use 30 aircraft or more.

Vingroup and Canada’s CAE Oxford Aviation Academy recently signed a co-operation agreement to train pilots, flight technicians and other personnel in the field of aviation, providing high-tech resources for Vietnam and the world. Under the agreement, the VinAviation School and Vinpearl Air Training Centre will be established in Vietnam.

Vinpearl Air will offer upgraded courses for pilots, mechanics, operators, crews and other aviation personnel. VinUni will be responsible for aviation administration, the economics of air transport, and aircraft engineers. Vingroup’s CEO Nguyễn Việt Quang said the scarcity of pilots was occurring not only in Vietnam but all over the world.

Insiders said the race for aviation market share in the Vietnamese market became specially competitive after Bamboo Airways received permission in the beginning of the year from the Ministry of Transport to operate.

With the participation of Vinpearl Air, Vietnam’s aviation industry will have six airlines: Vietnam Airlines, Jetstar Pacific, Vietjet Air, Bamboo Airways, Vasco and Vinpearl Air.

The Transport Ministry targets an average growth rate of 16 per cent per year in the 2015-20 period for the aviation sector and 8 per cent in the 2020-30.period, according to the ministry’s plan for aviation transport development until 2020 and vision to 2030, approved by the Vietnamese PM.

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Thailand’s tourism – stormy weather ahead

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Thailand’s tourism – stormy weather ahead | The Thaiger

Thailands tourism industry finds itself in stormy weather as a falloff in visitors spook trade, even forcing candid admissions from some of Thailand’s tourism chiefs.

Thailand has suffered a slump in tourism figures since the beginning of the year as hoteliers and tourism trade leaders have confirmed a huge 20 to 30% drop for June in tourist numbers and trade in Pattaya and Phuket this week in separate media interviews.

The slump is a startling and quite sudden drop, just seven months after the end of a record tourist year in 2018 and a good start with Christmas, New Year and January numbers. In December of 2018, the number of Chinese visors arriving in Thailand was over 838,000, a nearly 3% increase year-on-year at the time. A third of tourist arrivals into Thailand in 2018 were mainland Chinese.

But a perfect storm has now beset Thai tourism – emerging nearby tourist markets, a high baht, the US-China trade wars and ongoing fallout from the Phuket Boat Tragedy.

Locally there are other issues such as over-development of accommodation causing too much new competition, poor infrastructure and systemic tourist turn-offs never being addressed (Phuket taxi prices is one example).

All this is now broadly accepted, even officially. Figures for tourist arrivals show a slump following January this year. In April and May 2019 the figures for monthly arrivals dropped to 3,195,006 and 2,726,808. These arrival numbers were a big drop from, say, December last year.

The TAT governor, Yuthasak Supasorn, recently spoke to a meeting in Thailand’s north-eastern city of Udon Thani. He outlined plans by tourism chiefs to develop niche markets for Thai tourism for secondary locations in the country targeting affluent tourists seeking lifestyle and wellness experiences, including LGBT travellers. He predicted that tourist revenues for 2020 would reach 3.7 billion baht with a 10% growth. The authority is, officially, still holding out hope that 2019 can rebound.

The optimism is based on hopes and prayers rather than any of the ‘problems’ actually being fixed.

Meanwhile, hotel owners and managers staring down the low-season in Phuket and Pattaya have been raising the alarm highlighting reported drops of 20-30% compared to last year. Some hotels have admitted occupancy rates as low as 10-20% as the price wars continue to drive down room rates. They admit it’s an unsustainable situation fear that July and August could be as bad as June.

Kongsak Phupongsakorn is the head of the Thai Hotels Association for southern Thailand. He gave a  wide-ranging interview this week to Manager Online and frankly addressed the situation.

‘There are hopes that Asian and Australian travellers will take up some of the slack in July and August. But that is all they are, hopes. Most people are expecting July to be just as bad as June.”

He blamed the problems not only on external factors but also on shortcomings in Thailand. One was the political uncertainty sparked in the run-up to the election in Thailand and the long process afterwards to form a new government.

The Phuket hotelier also criticised a lack of clarity in government policy and strategy regarding tourism.

Kongsak explained that Phuket has seen what he described as ‘leapfrog’ investment in the tourism industry on the island driven by a massive increase in tourist arrivals in five years from 9 million arrivals to 14 million.

“This poses a major problem for operators who find themselves competing for a shrinking market.”

He suggested that some rooms in Phuket were on sale at 50% of the low reason rate for June last year as desperate hotel operators try to recoup income on their investments. He also believes that there are now heightened tensions caused by the US-China trade war that is suffocating the tourist trade. This is most notably seen in a dramatic fall-off in Chinese tourists.

Kongsak also acknowledged the growing competition from other Asian tourist locations, especially Vietnam and Cambodia. He described a tourist industry in Phuket currently stranded with too many hotel rooms and not enough visitors.

A woman from Northern Ireland arrived in Phuket this week to repatriate the remains of her husband who drowned a week before before at the popular west-coast Surin beach. Just days before his drowning local beach users and surfers had highlighted the dangerous rip tides and the lack of lifeguards or warnings at the beach. 

Read that story HERE.

In another rush of candor, Damrongkiat Phinitkar, the Secretary-General of the Entertainment and Tourist Industry of Pattaya told Sophon TV that the number of tourists and trade for June was between 20-30% down on the same month last year.

“Compared to last year, there are between 20-30% fewer tourists this low season.’

He blamed the absence of European tourists from the resort city. The tourist boss said that this had now become a long term trend but that in past years, the influx of Chinese tourists and travellers from other Asian countries had filled the gap. He hoped that European and western travellers are still more likely to arrive at high season.

Damrongkiat echoed other industry operators and confirmed that the glory days of the huge numbers of young and middle-aged European tourists crowding out the beer bars of Pattaya have come to an end. They have gone elsewhere or else they are put off by the high Thai baht and adverse economic conditions at home.

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American Airlines inks deal with Cathay Dragonair for more destinations in SE Asia

The Thaiger



American Airlines inks deal with Cathay Dragonair for more destinations in SE Asia | The Thaiger

American Airlines says they now have a new deal with Hong Kong-based Cathay Dragon Airlines allowing US fliers access to South East Asian hot spots such as Phuket, Chiang Mai, Da Nang and Dhaka, Bangladesh.

American’s network also will have more frequent flights to Penang, KL and Hanoi. The deal is said to strengthen American and Oneworld’s ties to Asia, the world’s fastest growing airline region where Oneworld is fighting for market share with Sky Team and Delta Air Lines.

The codeshare will impact travellers going through Hong Kong International Airport, where Cathay Dragon is based. The Texas-based airline flies directly to Hong Kong daily from Dallas-Fort Worth and Los Angeles, although travellers also can connect through Chicago and New York JFK on Cathay Pacific.

Cathay Dragon, formerly known as Dragonair, is a subsidiary of Cathay Pacific, a longtime partner of American Airlines. vCodeshares are agreements that allow passengers to use a series of partner carriers to fly to international destinations, but still book through a single airline.

SOURCE: Dallas News

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Aussie couple blame a dodgy pad thai in Thailand for two years of hell

The Thaiger



Aussie couple blame a dodgy pad thai in Thailand for two years of hell | The Thaiger

A couple from Perth in Western Australia are blaming a plate of Pad Thai has put them through two years of hell. (The link between the pad thai, though implicated by the couple, and their illness was never fully explained)

Stacey Barnes and Ryan Prigg from Perth, along with their two children, visited Thailand for a holiday in 2017. Once back in Perth they both began to feel unwell, drained of energy and struggling to even get out of bed.

“Every day was a struggle from the get go. I had no memory I couldn’t recall anything. I was in a constant state of fogginess,” according to Stacey.

Doctors tried to establish what was wrong with them, and following repeated visits, tests eventually revealed that they had contracted Dientamoeba Fragilis, a dangerous parasite, which they say was caught from the Pad Thai dish they had eaten at a food court in Thailand (location not revealed).

Dientamoeba fragilis is a species of single-celled excavates found in the gastrointestinal tract of some humans, pigs and gorillas. It causes gastrointestinal upset in some people, but not in others. It is an important cause of travellers diarrhoea, chronic diarrhoea, fatigue and, in children, failure to thrive.

Dientamoeba Fragilis can cause ongoing health issues such as diarrhoea, loss of appetite, nausea and in extreme cases, chronic fatigue. A 4 week course of antibiotics was the eventual cure after almost two years of doctors, poor health and false diagnosis.

Ryan, on a Channel 7 TV special, vowed never to return to Thailand, saying the experience had put them through the worst two years of their lives.

“I won’t go back, yeah life changing, I won’t go back, ever”.

Stacey also revealed how their ill health meant they were mostly incapacitated and unable to work.

“Losing our online business, my passion, really was hard, mentally physically, emotionally and financially! It’s made the last year and a half of my life, one of the hardest times of my life.”

SOURCE: PerthNow

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