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Ambitious plans for Pattaya

The mission is based on a 10-year tourism master plan drafted by the Designated Areas for Sustainable Tourism Administration (Dasta).

According to Mayor Ittipol Khunplume, Pattaya will require an estimated budget of 15 billion baht for 132 projects to be implemented in the city and related districts from 2012-22.

The projects include improving public transportation services such as a offering shuttle bus service in town, building a road linking with the motorway, extending the rail link service from Suvarnabhumi Airport to Pattaya and building new ports in Pattaya and Koh Lan.

In addition, there will be plans to improve public utilities such as the water supply, waste water and waste management, a water drainage system to protect the city from floods, water recycling system and renewable energy.

The city also plans to invest in beach recovery projects, promote new tourism routes such as community tourism in Na Kluea and green tourism at Koh Lan and Koh Phai.

Last are projects to promote sustainable tourism such as educating locals about organic farming, allocating areas for biking, improving the environment in Koh Lan and other tourism destinations in Pattaya and nearby areas.

If the master plan succeeds, the number of foreign tourists to Pattaya would double from 5 million to 10 million while the number of Thai visitors would rise from 2 million to 4.2 million over the next decade. The city's revenue from tourism is expected to rise from 68 billion baht to 300 billion baht in 2022.

The master plan would change the image of Pattaya from a rather sleazy nightlife paradise to a green and sustainable destination, said the mayor.

Dual track system for Ubon Ratchathani

The Office of Transport and Traffic Policy and Planning (OTP) plans to spend 85 million baht on a feasibility study on a dual track system in Ubon Ratchathani to the border with Laos at Chong Mek.

At present the last station in the province does not extend to town, but stops in Warin Chamrap district, about 5 kilometres from the city.

According to OTP Director-General Chanchai Suwisuttagul, the extension of the dual track would link the station in Warin Chamrap to Chong Mek. The total distance would be about 80 kilometres. The cost of investment is estimated to be 10 billion baht, she said.

The dual track system would make the logistics more efficient, with the value of trade between Thailand and Laos as high as 5.5 billion baht per year. The dual track system would also benefit travellers and promote tourism between the two countries, Chanchai said.

Soap campaign lures Chinese

The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) last week invited Chinese-looking Thai celebrity Nawat 'Pong' Kulrattanarak to Shanghai and Beijing to lure more Chinese tourists to Thailand.

He is part of celebrity marketing campaign after the TV series in which he stars, Buang Ruk Karmathep, became popular in China.

TAT Deputy Governor for Asia and South Pacific, Sansern Ngaorangsri, said Nawat was a real magnet to attract young Chinese tourists to Thailand. Apart from meeting his fans in China, the TAT also promoted packages with the theme of the TV series shooting locations, plus an opportunity to meet and greet the celebrity in Thailand.

"This is a pilot project to promote Thailand through soaps," he said, adding if it proves a success, more packages with the theme of following trails of shooting locations would be introduced in China.

About 1.1 Chinese travelled to Thailand last year and the TAT expects that the number will increase to 1.5 million this year.

Airlines update

- Japan Airlines (JAL) will improve the taste of its in-flight coffee by introducing JAL Cafe Lines next month.

The coffee was selected by world-class Coffee Hunter Jose Yoshiaki Kawashima and will be roasted by a coffee roasting expert Tomohiro Ishiwaki, according to JAL. The first-rate beverage will be offered at no charge to customers in every cabin class onboard all international and domestic flights starting this autumn.

JAL estimated that it would serve up to 10 million cups on its domestic flights and 5 million cups internationally in a year.

- Thai Airways International has hired Priestman Goode, a leading design group from the United Kingdom, to redesign its cabin interiors and facilities.

The four-year contract is worth 80 million baht. THAI expects that the new design will change its cabin look and feel from dull and out-dated to a contemporary Thai design with appealing colours. Priestman Goode will also create new looks for the pillows and blankets.

The new design is scheduled to be launched in the middle of next year on some selected planes including the Airbus A340-500 and A340-600.

Hotels update

- Centara Hotels & Resorts will open its first overseas property under the Centra brand in Bali this November.

The Centra Taum Resort Bali will be located at Seminyak, on the west coast of the island and about a 5-minute walk to the beach.

Invested by PT Graha Multi Internasional at a cost of US$ 20 million (600 million baht), the hotel will have 90 rooms with choices of studio to three-bedroom suites. Each room will have its own private balcony, and a number of the two- and three-bedroom accommodations will have their own private pool.

The hotel will also have a restaurant, one bar, a fitness centre, body and foot massage rooms and a swimming pool.

- Royal Cliff Hotels Group in Pattaya has received the 'Smoke Free Hotel' certificate from the Green Leaf Foundation.

The aim is to promote a healthier environment for guests and employees. And this is the entry step for the hotel to move forward to 'Health Promotion Hotel' which will offer a climate-friendly menu, health promotion packages and health promotion spa in the future.

The hotel also houses Pattaya's largest convention venue, an exhibition and convention hall

- Best Western Sandakan Hotel and Residence has opened in Sabah, the Malaysian state in the north of Borneo.

Situated between Sandakan airport and the city centre, the hotel features 110 rooms ranging from Superior Rooms to three bedroom suites.

Each room has an Interactive Progressive Television (IPTV) system which enables guests to access the internet, send and receive messages, order room service or watch TV and listen to the radio via the TV screen.