Published at Bangkok Post on 23/07/2012 at 12:47 PM
The Thai government has approved a 1.6 billion baht budget to help the Lao government extend the railway service from Tha Na Laeng to Vientiane.
The service will be the second phase of the Nong Khai-Tha Na Laeng service, which has linked Thailand and Laos since 2008, according to Acksiri Buranasiri, president of the Neighbouring Countries Economic Development Cooperation Agency (Neda), a public agency under the Ministry of Finance.
About 30% of the budget (495 million baht) will be financial aid, while the rest will be a loan.
The extension will add 7.75km to the existing rail system and will also include a train station and office in Vientiane.
Neda expects the service to improve logistics speed between the two countries, as well as facilitate travellers. The project is expected to be completed within the next two years, Acksiri noted.
Founded in 2005, Neda has granted financial assistance, soft loans and technical support worth 9.42 billion baht to 23 projects, mainly for infrastructure development, in neighbouring countries, such as the R3A route linking Chiang Rai, Laos and Kunming in China and the expansion of Pakse Airport.
Facebook no match for F2F contact
Air miles are still needed for both business and leisure travellers for face-to-face conversation rather than using social media, according to the latest survey by Airbus.
“Aviation is the real World Wide Web,” said Airbus executive vice-president Charles Champion. Nearly two-thirds (60%) of people polled do not think that social media platforms like Facebook will replace the need to see friends and family physically.
For business purposes, 74% still need face-to-face contact.
“There is nothing better than face-to-face contact. The world is woven together by a web of flights that creates ever-expanding social and economic networks, including 57 million jobs, 35% of world trade, and $2.2 trillion in global GDP,” he said.
The survey, which was conducted among 10,000 people across 10 countries, also found that the top three annoying aspects of travel are flight delays, slow check-in service and spending time waiting for baggage. About one-third of those surveyed also wanted to spend less time at airports.
About 85% wanted airlines to release fewer carbon emissions and 70% of them wanted to see aircraft powered by non-fossil fuels such as bio-fuels.
In the future, more than half of passengers wanted to have more space while seated, simpler and quicker bag drops and connections, flights that use less fuel and quieter planes.
About 40% wanted to have a seat that could give a massage and 38% wanted to have more varied entertainment, including virtual games.
- Thai Airways International has slipped down the ranking of the World Best’s Airline from 5th to 9th this year.
Based on Skytrax’s World Airline Awards 2012, the survey was conducted between July last year and June with the help of 18 million airline customers from 100 different nationalities. It measured more than 38 factors such as check-in, boarding, onboard seating and covered about 200 airlines.
The results showed that Qatar Airways was the Best Airline in the World for the second year, followed by Asiana Airlines, Singapore Airlines, Cathay Pacific Airways, All Nippon Airways (ANA), Etihad Airways, Turkish Airlines, Emirates, Thai and Malaysia Airlines.
One of the reasons for the drop in Thai’s position was using old aircraft such as B747-400s, which do not have private TV screens in economy class. Another factor was a poorly-angled long-haul business class seat.
However, Thai had a good rating for its lounges at Suvarnabhumi Airport and friendly staff. The airline surprisingly won World’s Best Airport Services.
Other airlines which came out on top in other categories include:
The World’s Best Inflight Entertainment: Emirates
The World’s Best Cabin Staff: Malaysia Airlines
The World’s Best Regional Airlines: Garuda Indonesia
The World’s Best Low-Cost Airlines: AirAsia.
- Le Meridien Khao Lak Beach & Spa Resort has opened 13 new Premium Villas. Situated on a private 10-rai area adjacent to the main hotel, the new villas consist of six beach front villas and seven garden villas. The sizes range from 188m2 to 550m2 for one to two bedrooms respectively. Each villa has a living room with a kitchenette, dining area, a private pool, jacuzzi, a patio and gazebo. Other facilities in the private zone include two swimming pools, a fitness centre, a sauna and a steam room. Guests can also use other facilities such as spa and restaurants of the hotel.
- Banyan Tree Spa was named the World’s Best Luxury Spa Group at the World Luxury Spa Awards.
The awards are regarded as the world’s luxury spa benchmark.
They comprise 10 categories such as Best Luxury Spa Hotel, Best Luxury Resort Spa and Best Luxury Destination Spa. The winners were selected through an annual online voting process from guests and site visits.
The awards also announced the list of 2012 World Luxury Spa Awards Country Winners. Six spas in Thailand named in the list are:
Best Luxurious Hotel Spa: Pathways Spa by the Sarojin in Khao Lak, Phangnga.
Best Luxury Emerging Spa: Spa Cenvaree, Centara Grand Beach Resort Phuket
Best Luxury Destination Spa: RarinJinda Wellness Spa Resort in Chiang Mai
Best Luxury Spa Group: Devarana Spas of Dusit Thani Hotel
Best Luxury Medical/Wellness Spa: St Carlos Medical Spa in Krung Siam and the St Carlos Medical Centre in Muang district in Pathum Thani
Best Luxury Resort Spa: Coqoon Spa in Indigo Pearl, Phuket
- Bali Hotels Association has announced a 23% reduction in plastic bag use among hotels on the island.
The drive is part of its environmental campaign, in which about 30 member hotels participated.
The programme encouraged the hotels to replace disposable plastics with biodegradable plastics or other environmentally friendly alternatives such as glass.
It is estimated that Bali generated 750 tonnes of plastic garbage per day, almost 50% more than Jakarta, according to BHA chairman Jean-Charles LeCoz.
“This is great news. The results have been encouraging,” he said.