Police seize 2,155 buses, B4.7bn in zero-dollar Chinese tour network raid.

BANGKOK: Authorities today (Sept 9) impounded 2,155 buses and froze bank accounts containing B4.7 billion held by the country’s biggest “zero-dollar tour” network, including OA Transport Co and 381 firms.

Tourist police and officials from the Anti-Money Laundering Office and the Revenue and Business Development departments swooped on the premises of OA Transport Co in Lat Krabang district of Bangkok after its executives had been charged with carrying on business illegally and damaging Thai tourism.

The action followed Tourist Police searches of OA Transport and four affiliated companies in the Lat Krabang and Jorakhae Noi areas of Bangkok last month.

Two OA executives, Nisa Rojrungrangsi and Wasurat Rojrungrangsi, turned themselves in at the Phaya Thai Police Station for questioning late last month.

Tourist Police moved the buses to the nearby Airport Rail Link station of the State Railway of Thailand. Land Transport Department officials will check if any of them were used illegally. An initial examination found that some of the buses were unregistered, police said.

OA Transport operated the bus that came crashing down Kata Hill in Phuket in March last year, killing three Chinese tourists and injuring 15 more.

The bus crashed through a guardrail while descending the hill to Chalong and came to rest only after slamming into trees halfway down the steep slope, preventing the vehicle from tumbling into a house just metres below. (See story here.)

Gen Surachet said the Land Transport Department was deploying buses to serve tourists who were clients of OA Transport and the 381 related companies as their operations must stop.

The raid was part of attempts to tackle “zero-dollar” tour operations to protect Thai tourism, Gen Surachet said.

Raided last month were OA Transport Co, a vehicle-rental firm, Bangkok Handicraft Centre Co, which sells leather goods; Royal Gems International Co, a jewellery firm; Royal Thai Herb Co, which sells herbal products; and Royal Paradise Co, which runs restaurants.

The five companies operate stores in tourist destinations nationwide, including Phuket.

Zero-dollar tours are so named because they offer very cheap package deals in which tourists, mostly Chinese, are pressured to buy overpriced goods and services on which the operators make big profits.

Authorities have long alleged that the money Chinese tourists spend in Thailand on zero-dollar tours mostly goes to Chinese-operated tour firms owned by Thai nominees.

source – thephuketnews

Thailand Visa on arrival increased to THB 2000 wef 27 sep 2016

maxresdefaultStarting from 27 September 2016, Thailand, by the order of Ministry of Interior No. 30 B.E. 2559 (2016) dated 1 July B.E. 2559 (2016), will increase its VoA fee from 1,000 to 2,000 THB. Tourists from Andorra, Bulgaria, Bhutan, China, Cyprus, Ethiopia, India, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Maldives, Malta, Mauritius, Romania, San Marino, Saudi Arabia, Taiwan, Ukraine and Uzbekistan are entitled to apply for VoA at 42 designated immigration checkpoints, which will allow tourists to stay in the country up to 15 days.

42 designated immigration checkpoints to apply for the VoA are as follows:

1. Suvarnabhumi Airport, Samut Prakarn
2. Don Muang International Airport, Bangkok
3. Chiangmai International Airport, Chiangmai
4. Phuket International Airport, Phuket
5. Hatyai International Airport, Songkhla
6. U Tapao Airport, Rayong
7. Mae Sai Immigration Checkpoint, Chiangrai
8. Chiang Saen Immigration Checkpoint,Chiangrai
9. Chiang Khong Immigration Checkpoint,Chiangrai
10. Betong Immigration Checkpoint, Yala
11. Sadao Immigration Checkpoint, Songkhla
12. Samui Airport, Surat Thani
13. Sukhothai International Airport,Tak Immigration Checkpoint
14. Bangkok Harbour Immigration Checkpoint,Bangkok
15. Sri Racha Immigration Checkpoint, Chonburi
16. Mabtaput Immigration Checkpoint, Rayong
17. Nong Khai Immigration Checkpoint, Nong Khai
18. Samui Immigration Checkpoint, Surat Thani
19. Phuket Immigration Checkpoint, Phuket
20. Satun Immigration Checkpoint, Satun
21. Krabi Immigration Checkpoint, Krabi
22. Songkhla Harbour Immigraion Checkpoint,Songkhla

23. Chiangrai Airport Immigration Checkpoint,Chiangrai
24. Surat Thani Airport Immigration Checkpoint,Surat Thani
25. Sattahip Harbour Immigration Checkpoint,Chonburi
26. Khlong Yai Immigration Checkpoint, Trat
27. Pong Nam Ron Immigration Checkpoint,Chanthaburi
28. Aranyaprathet Immigration Checkpoint, Sakaeo
29. Mukdahan Immigration Checkpoint, Mukdahan
30. Tak Immigration Checkpoint, Tak
31. Padang Besar Immigration Checkpoint, Songkhla
32. Su-ngai Kolok Immigration Checkpoint,Narathiwat
33. Nong Khai Immigration Checkpoint, Nong Khai
34. Bueng Kan Immigration Checkpoint, Bueng Kan
35. Phibun Mangsahan Immigration Checkpoint,Ubon Ratchathani
36. Tha Li Immigration Checkpoint, Loei
37. Nakhon Phanom Immigration Checkpoint,Nakhon Phanom
38. Nan Immigration Checkpoint, Nan
39. Ban Prakob Immigration Checkpoint, Songkhla
40. Khuan Don Immigration Checkpoint, Satun
41. Tak Bai Immigration Checkpoint, Narathiwat
42. Bukit Tal Immigration Checkpoint, Narathiwat

Singapore’s Scoot flies into Indian market

794435-131017-scoot-airlines

An interesting travel development in recent weeks was the move by low-cost, medium-haul airline, Scoot, to enter the Indian market.

The Singapore Airlines subsidiary now flies directly between Singapore and both Chennai in South India and Amritsar in the northern state of Punjab

Flights to the popular tourist destination of Jaipur will be launched later this year.

Scoot’s flights to India have further boosted the presence of the Singapore Airlines group in one of the world’s fastest-growing markets..

International Air Transport Association figures show that India is projected to be the world’s third largest air passenger market by 2031.

Annual passenger traffic there is expected to reach a total of 367 million by 2034 – an additional 266 million annual passengers over today.

Scoot’s move into India means that it now flies out of Singapore to 17 destinations in seven countries, including Australia and China.

The airline’s new service to Amritsar operates three times a week and will increase frequency with an additional Monday service from July.

Scoot takes over the Singapore-Chennai daily service from Tigerair.

When the move into India was announced, the Chief Commercial Officer for Scoot and Tigerair, Mr Leslie Thng, said the Singapore-Jaipur service would operate four times a week from October.

“Guests from India can now fly to amazing destinations in our Asia-Pacific network
through the Singapore hub, as well as onward with Singapore Airlines, SilkAir and Tigerair in the SIA Group portfolio”.

Scoot’s fleet of 787 Dreamliners operates between Singapore and Sydney; Gold Coast; Bangkok; Taipei; Tokyo; Tianjin; Shenyang; Nanjing; Qingdao; Seoul; Hong Kong; Perth; Osaka; Kaohsiung; Hangzhou; Melbourne; Guangzhou; Jeddah; Chennai; Amritsar – and soon to Jaipur and Sapporo.

source :memorabledestination.com

LANGKAWI TOURIST LEVY FROM JULY 1, 2016

Starting July 1st 2016,  there will be a Langkawi tourist levy for each day of stay that will be imposed on all tourists on the resort island of Langkawi in the Malaysian state of Kedah. This was mentioned by Kedah Tourism Committee chairman Mohd Rawi Abdul Hamid on June 19, 2016.

The Langkawi Tourism Promotion Levy will range between RM1 (US$0.25) and RM9 (US$2.20). The new tourist levy will be imposed by the Langkawi Municipal Council City of Tourism and the quantum would depend on the class of accommodation, according to Mr Mohd Rawi.

LANGKAWI TOURIST LEVY FEES

  • One-star or Two-star hotels – RM1 per room per night
  • Three-star or Four-star hotels, RM3 per room per night
  • Five-star hotels, RM5 per room per night
  • Six-star hotels, RM7 per room per night
  • Seven-star hotels, RM9 per room per night

The chairman who is also the state assemblyman for Ayer Hangat added that the levy was not something new because similar charges had been imposed in Melaka, Penang and Kuala Lumpur to promote the tourism industry and said the amount of levy was minimal and the tourists coming to Langkawi could afford it.

He said that the Kedah state depended a great deal on federal government allocations to promote tourism and the levy would help ease the financial dependence. “If we can collect a satisfactory amount of levy, we can implement more tourism-related programs for the benefit of the tourists,” he added. He said the levy could be eventually extended to other places in Kedah. News from Bernama.

M’sia one of the world’s best for business tourism

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia has been recognised as one of the top 10 best international destinations for business tourism.

The award was bestowed at the Ninth China MICE Industry Golden Chair Awards ceremony in Beijing. (MICE is the acronym for meetings, incentives, conventions and exhibitions.)

Malaysia Convention & Exhibition Bureau (MyCEB) chief executive officer Datuk Zulkefli Sharif said the award was testament to the nation’s capabilities and expertise in hosting business events on a global scale.

“It is an achievement to be proud of,” he said in a statement.

Throughout last year, MyCEB hosted many large international conferences, exhibitions, meetings and incentives groups.

“China is one of the top markets for corporate meetings and incentives, contributing 25% of this sector’s arrivals.

“Last year, Malaysia welcomed the Perfect China Incentive & Travel Seminar group that brought in 6,000 participants and the Infinitus Jiyang Overseas Training trip that saw some 4,800 participants,” said Zulkefli.

He added that getting the award in China was particularly meaningful, given the close bilateral ties between the countries.

Last year, MyCEB supported 214 business events – 78 conventions, 112 corporate meetings/incentives and 24 trade exhibitions – in Malaysia.

These events accounted for 108,105 international delegates and raked in RM825mil in visitor expenditure.

They also created an economic impact of RM1.3bil.

The China MICE Industry Golden Chair Awards is an authoritative award granted by MICE Magazine to commend hotels, destinations, airline companies and travel agencies.

Winners of the award are selected by trade reputation and reader feedback, and evaluated by a panel of experts from November 2015 until January 2016.

SOURCE : the star online

Singapore-based Scoot announces entry to Indian market, will launch flights to Chennai and Amritsar

Singapore-based carrier Scoot on Friday announced its entry into the Indian market with flight services to Chennai and Amritsar from next month, making it the fourth airline from the island city-state to establish its presence in the world’s fastest growing aviation market.

The long-haul, low-cost, wholly-owned subsidiary of Singapore Airlines would also operate to Jaipur in the later part of the year, its country head Bharati Mahadevan said.

“We are going to start flights from May 24 into India. Chennai and Amritsar are both going to be launched the same day. Services to Jaipur will be launched from October 2, ” Mahadevan told PTI.

“We are a very young airline, just four years old, but have always been interested in the Indian market. Last year, when aircraft deliveries started coming in, we have been eying Indian market. We started the ground work early last year to commence operations here,” he said.

While Chennai will be a daily service, flights to Amritsar and Jaipur will operate three times a week to began with, Mahadevan said, adding that Soot’s India operations will be carried out with Boeing 787 Dreamliner in two class configuration — economy and premium economy.

CEO Campbell Wilson said, “Scoot is excited to bring our proposition of value travel and service to guests in India –
who will soon be able to fly to amazing destinations in our network through the Singapore hub.”

“Our launch in Chennai will complement the SIA Group’s existing services, while Scoot’s new services to Amritsar and Jaipur will bring travellers to the magnificent Golden Temple and the stunning Pink City, enabling guests in Scoot’s network to discover India’s mystique and allure,” he added.

While Chennai and Jaipur will have 335-seater 787-800 aircraft, services to Amritsar will be operated with a 375-seater 787-900, Mahadevan said.

The airline plans to scale up services to Amritsar and Jaipur to four times a week from July 1 and October 28 respectively, he said adding, “we hope to double our operations by 2017 in terms of number of cities.”

Scoot, which has a large part of its operations to Australia and China besides other regions and countries, has also announced special promotional all-inclusive economy class fares for its flights from India, starting as low as USD 64 (Rs 4,250 approx) and USD 179 (Rs 11,900 approx) for ScootBiz to various international destinations.

Besides parent Singapore Airlines, two of its subsidiaries Tiger Air and Silk Air also operate to India at present. SIA also holds 49 per cent stake in Indian full service carrier Vistara, in which Tata Sons is a majority stake holder with 51 per cent.

Once Scoot commences operations to the three cities here, Singapore Airlines group will become the largest international airline group operating into India in terms of destinations (16), Mahadevan said.

“It will also make the group the second largest airline operating out of India in terms of destinations,” he added.

“With these destinations, India will be number two market for SIA group in terms of number of destinations after China. And for Scoot, third market after China and Australia,” Mahadevan said.

Interestingly, domestic airlines’ body Federation of Indian Airlines which has Jet Airways, SpiceJet, IndiGo and GoAir as its members, is urging the government not to allow creation of overseas hubs by foreign carriers.

source : indianexpress.com