India debuts World’s cheapest tablet today!

India’s finally got its much hyped ultra-low-cost tablet named “ Aakash”. The tablet runs onAndroid 2.2 (Froyo) and comes with a 7 inch resistive touch screen with 800×480 reolution and weighs 350 gm.

Aakash is a collaboration between the government and a British-based company DataWind. The tablet has a 256 MB of RAM, a 32 GB expandable memory slot and two USB ports.

The tablet comes with a 12-month replacement warranty and supports formats like DOC, DOCX, PDF and PPTX etc. Aakash has standard 3.5 mm headphones jack.

The tablet has a 2100mAh battery which can reportedly last for 2-3 hours depending on the usage. The device is also said to be completely made in India, as according to a review, a sticker at the back emphasises the fact. Aakash also reportedly packs some preloaded apps, however, lacks the Android Market Place.

The tablet will be commercially available from November for Rs 2999. The commercial version of the tablet would have no duty waivers or subsidy, as in the government’s version and come with added features like an inbuilt cellular modem and SIM to access internet.

The government will be acquiring the tablet for Rs 2250 from DataWind which will be supplied to the students across the country. The device will initially be made available to post-secondary students.

India lags behind fellow BRIC nations Brazil, Russia and China in the drive to get its 1.2 billion population connected to technologies such as the Internet and mobile phones, according to a report by risk analysis firm Maplecroft.

The number of Internet users grew 15-fold between 2000 and 2010, according to another recent report. Still, just 8 percent of Indians have access. That compares with nearly 40 percent in China.

Some 19 million people subscribe to mobile phones every month, making India the world’s fastest growing market, but most are from the wealthier segment of the population in towns.


To feature seminars organised in cooperation with ITB Berlin
P Krishna Kumar | New Delhi

The Knowledge Sessions at the second edition of Goa International Travel Mart (GITM) this year will focus on the emerging niche segments in India. The high powered conference programme of the Mart, which will be held at the Grand Hyatt Bambolim from October 21-23, will be bolstered by two seminars organised in cooperation with ITB Berlin, world’s leading travel exhibition organiser. ITB Berlin will be hosting seminars on Responsible Tourism and LGBT Tourism. The other international tie-up of the Mart is Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) coming on board as Wellness Partner. Apart from showcasing Wellness offerings, TAT will also fly down an expert from Thailand to speak on Spa and Wellness in Thailand.

Other sessions are on niche segments like Adventure Tourism and Spa and Wellness Tourism besides important topics like Branding and Reinventing a Destination, Marketing and Innovation in Tourism and the Role of Public-Private-Partnerships in Tourism and Destination Development. An impressive line-up of speakers comprising of Ministers, top government officials, CEO’s, industry experts, association heads etc. is being put together by TravelBiz Monitor and will include names such as Subodh Kant Sahai, Union Minister for Tourism, Government of India; Rika Jean-François, Sales Director for South Asia & Pacific and Commissioner for Corporate Social Responsibility, ITB Berlin; Thomas Bomkes, Managing Director, Diversity Tourism UG based in Munich, Germany; Rajeev Duggal, MD, Kuoni India; Amitabh Kant, CEO, Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor Development Corporation; Ashish Kumar Singh, Principal Secretary to Chief Minister of Maharashtra and former MD of MTDC; Dilip Puri, MD of Starwood Hotels India; P Manoharan, Director-India, Tourism Malaysia; Neelu Singh, COO, ezeego1, etc. GITM is organised and promoted jointly by Department of Tourism, Government of Goa and Goa Tourism Development Corporation (GTDC); Tourism Association of Goa (TAG) and Goa Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GCCI).

Announcing the tie-up with ITB Berlin at a press conference during the PATA Travel Mart which concluded in New Delhi earlier this month, Swapnil Naik, Director, Goa Tourism said that the support from ITB Berlin will help take the Mart to the next level. He added that Goa Tourism wants to build synergies with neighbouring states like Maharashtra and Karnataka on the Western coast to create wholesome tourist circuits.

Melwyn Vaz, who took charge recently as Managing Director of GTDC, said that although Goa has a unique place on the global travel map, there is always scope for improvement and GITM is a major step in that direction. “GITM will bring better and greater opportunities to the travel and tourism trade in Goa. We are confident that GITM 2011 will be bigger and better,” stated Vaz.

Francois said that as the leading travel and tourism exhibition organisers, ITB bestows lot of importance to regional and local travel and tourism fairs. “We look at the destination and the seriousness of the organisers before supporting any of the local fairs. GITM fits in on both the counts,” stated Francois when quizzed about the decision to partner with GITM. She informed that ITB will bring in eminent panelists for both the seminars at GITM. Commenting on the LGBT market, Francois said that it is a niche market and if handled sensibly, can reap rich dividends to destinations and businesses.

Giving a brief preview of the Knowledge Sessions, Sheldon Santwan, Editor and COO, TravelBiz Monitor, said that “two out of the box” seminars by ITB will add value to all the deliberations at this year’s GITM. “There are plans to put together knowledge sessions around new and emerging sales segments and how these segments can be tapped through innovative marketing,” he added.

The theme of the Mart this year is ‘Unearth the Hidden Treasures of Goa’. Goa Tourism will be hosting around 450 buyers this year compared to 130 last year. In terms of the sellers at the exhibition, GITM organisers are expecting around 150 sellers against 80 last year. Leading travel companies like Kuoni, LPTI, TBI, etc. have already signed up as partners for the annual event. Air India will be the official carrier of GITM. Moreover, all the industry associations TAFI, IATO, TAAI, ADTOI, ATOAI, IAAI etc. are supporting the Mart and will be sending delegations to participate in the Mart.


TTR looks to India as a key trade destination

Tata International of India has shown interest in expanding its investments in Thailand, especially in energy, electricity, hydropower, alternative energy, automobiles and parts, say Thai trade officials.

The company’s head for South Asia, P.K. Banerjee, met Thailand Trade Representative Nalinee Thaveesin to discuss the group’s intention to explore a wider range of businesses in Thailand.

Officials said Mr Banerjee told the Thai side that Tata had extensive experience investing in energy and mining in South Africa, Tanzania, Kenya, Zambia, Mozambique, Senegal, Zimbabwe, Sudan and Uganda.

Tata also expressed interest in investing in agricultural management in Thailand, which has more potential for development.

Ms Nalinee, who is responsible for trade and investment promotion in South Asia and Africa, said investments between Thailand and India represented only a minor portion of overall investment and the TTR aimed to expand investments between the two countries.

Read more: Tata plans energy, mining investments

The Ministry of Tourism and Sports has launched the Food & Hotel Thailand 2011, which will run until 16 September, with an aim to help promote Thailand as an economic leader of Asia.

While presiding over the opening ceremony of the 19th Food & Hotel Thailand, Permanent Secretary for Tourism and Sports Sombat Kuruphan stated that the event was a great opportunity for international businesses related to hotels, food and services to exhibit their products. It is also expected to facilitate Thailand’s emergence as the center of product displays in the ASEAN region and as an economic leader of Asia amid volatility in the global economy.

This year, there are a total of 16,000 exhibitors from 59 countries participating in the event. The top five countries with the most participants are Malaysia, Singapore, India, the Philippines and Vietnam respectively while more new faces have come from many countries, including China, Italy, Japan and South Africa.

The Food & Hotel Thailand 2011 is taking place from today until 16 September at the Royal Paragon Hall, Siam Paragon Shopping Center.

Held in Conjunction with The Food & Hotel Thailand 2011
13 – 14 September 2011
Function Room, Royal Paragon Hall, 5th Floor, Siam Paragon

13 SEP 2011 – DAY 1
09.15 – 09.45 Arrival of Special Guests and VIPs
09.45 – 10.00 Arrival of the Guests of Honour
10.00 – 10.10 Introductory Address by Mr. Patrapee Chinachoti
Chairman of Bangkok Exhibition Services Ltd.
10.10 – 10.20 Welcome Address by Ms. Supawan Teerarat
Exhibition Director of Thailand Convention & Exhibition Bureau (TCEB)
10.20 – 10.30 Welcome Address by Mr. Jamnong Nirungsan
President of Thai Chefs Association
10.30 – 10.40 Welcome Address by Ms. Panivan Koonmongkon
President of Thai Restaurant Association
10.40 – 10.50 Welcome Address by Mr. Prakit Chinamourphong
President of Thai Hotels Association and Chairman of International Affairs
10.50 – 11.00 Opening Address by Mr. Sombat Kurupan
Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Tourism and Sports
11.00 – 12.00 Ribbon Cutting and Official Tour of the Exhibition
12.00 – 14.00 THA Lunch Talk
Mr. Suraphon Svetasreni
Governor, Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT)

13 SEP 2011 – DAY 1
Theme: Attracting High-Yield Tourists “จับตาหาตลาด High-Yield”
Session 1
13.30 – 14.00 Registration
14.00 – 16.30

Attracting High-Yield Tourists “จับตาหาตลาด High-Yield”

แม้การท่องเที่ยวไทยจะประสบกับวิกฤตการณ์ต่างๆ ติดต่อกันมาหลายปี หากมนต์ขลังของแหล่งท่องเที่ยวต่างๆ ก็ยังคงดึงดูดใจนักท่องเที่ยวทั่วโลกให้เข้ามาท่องเที่ยวในไทยอย่างต่อ เนื่อง และคงถึงเวลาที่การท่องเที่ยวไทย จะต้องปรับตัวเปลี่ยนแปลงวางตำแหน่งตัวเองในตลาดการท่องเที่ยวของโลกใหม่ ให้เข้าถึงตลาดนักท่องเที่ยวคุณภาพมากขึ้น วิทยากรผู้มีบทบาทนำในการท่องเที่ยวของประเทศจะได้รับทราบแนวความคิดในการ “รีแบรนด์” ประเทศไทย ตลอดจนปรับแนวทาง มองหา และมุ่งสู่กลุ่มนักท่องเที่ยวคุณภาพที่มีกำลังซื้ออย่างประสบความสำเร็จ

Despite a political unrest and a fair amount of instability in the past few years, one thing that never changes is the Thailand’s resilience in its ability to attract oversea tourists. However, a shift in the type of tourists visiting Thailand has forced this country to capture the new market in which high-yield tourists are. In this session, senior industry stakeholders and government bodies will discuss ways in which the tourism can be re-branded, welcoming EU tourists back to Thailand and successfully targeting new high-end market segments.

Rebranding Thailand “รีแบรนด์ประเทศไทย”
Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT)

Reaching Out to New Markets “เจาะตลาดใหม่”
Miss Supawan Tanomkietipume
Chairperson of Marketing, Thai Hotels Association

Health and Wellness “ก้าวสู่กลุ่มสุขภาพ และเวลล์เนส”
Mr. Sumatarat Sitabut
Senior Consultant, Institute for Small and Medium Enterprises Development

MICE Marketing for Hotel “การตลาด MICE สำหรับโรงแรม”
Mr. Sumate Sudasana
President, Thailand Incentive and Convention Association (TICA)

Mr. Sakkarin Chorsawai
Director, Thai Hotels Association

(Conducted in Bilingual)
14 SEP 2011 – DAY 2
Theme: Attracting High-Yield Tourists “จับตาหาตลาด High-Yield”
Session 2
08.00 – 09.30 Registration
09.30 – 12.00

Hoteliers Discussion for Thai Tourism Future

เชิญรับฟังความคิดเห็นและมุมมองจากผู้ประกอบการโรงแรมที่มีความโดดเด่น ผ่านอุปสรรค ปัญหาจนถึงความสำเร็จ อะไรคือเป้าหมาย แผนงาน แนวความคิดที่วางไว้กับอนาคตการท่องเที่ยวไทย และข้อคิดเห็นท่องเที่ยวไทยจะต้องทำอย่างไรให้ถึงฝั่งฝัน

Acclaimed Hotel Entrepreneurs and hoteliers, who have experienced many obstacles in the tourism industry, will share their perspectives and distinct ideas about how to survive in the current competitive tourism industry, how to globally set visions, missions, smart goals and action plans, how to gain sustainable achievement in the international markets, and the future of Thailand’s tourism.

“From Zero to 90++”

From Quality to Quality “จากคุณภาพสู่คุณภาพ”
Mr. Paul Linder
General Manager, Chivasom

Thai Brand to World Class Elegance “แบรนด์ไทยสู่ความหรูหราระดับโลก”
Mr. Dillip Rajakarier
Chief Operating Officer, Minor Hotel Group Ltd.

Strong Growth in Foreign Country “การเติบโตอย่างแข็งแกร่งในต่างแดน”
Mr. Chanin Donavanik
Director and Chief Executive Officer, Dusit Thani Public Company Limited

Back to Back Revolution in Pattaya “ผู้พลิกโฉมโรงแรมพัทยาอย่างต่อเนื่อง”
The Zign Group

10.00 – 10.30

Refreshment Break

Mr. Sakkarin Chorsawai
Director, Thai Hotels Association

(Conducted in Bilingual)
14 Sep 2011 – DAY 2
Theme: Attracting High-Yield Tourists “จับตาหาตลาด High-Yield”
Session 3
13.30 – 14.00 Registration and Refreshment
14.00 – 16.30

Raising the Bar (panel discussion)

หากโรงแรมไทยต้องการปรับตัวเพื่อให้ได้ราคา ผลประกอบการณ์ที่ดีขึ้น ในมุมมองต่างๆทั้งในแง่การตลาด ภาพลักษณ์ คุณภาพโรงแรม การพัฒนาคน การบริหารจัดการทั้งจากภาครัฐและผู้ประกอบการ ต้องทำอย่างไร และทุกภาคส่วนคงต้องร่วมมือกันอย่างจริงจัง เพื่อให้การท่องเที่ยวไทยเป็นไปในทิศทางที่ไร้ผู้แพ้อย่างแท้จริง

From marketing, brand image, quality, and human resource development perspectives, the guest speakers will demonstrate the practical ways for both government sectors and entrepreneurs to enthusiastically cooperate and successfully bring the financial and sustainable success to Thailand’s tourism industry.

Mr.Imtiaz Muqbil
Executive Director
Travel IMPACT Newswire.

Hotel Owner
Dusit Thani Public Company Limited

Mr. Apichart Sankary
Managing Director, A.E.D. Asia Travel Co., Ltd.

Online Agency
Mr. Chalermpon Punnotok
Chief Executive Officer, Software Industry Promotion Agency (SIPA)

Bank / Financial
Mr. Kheeseng Anansiriprapha
Executive Vice President, Corporate Banking Group Bank of Ayudhya PCL.

Mr. Sakkarin Chorsawai
Director, Thai Hotels Association


Indian Tourists to Thailand is on the increase

By Sun Narin

Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) in New Dehli says that the number of Indian tourists in Thailand is up to 552300, increasing 36.21 percent in the first half of 2011 comparing to last year.

Chattan Kunjara Na Ayudhya, the director of TAT New Delhi Office, says that the excellent strength of the Indian economy is the major reason leading to the increase of tourists in Thailand, following the increased accessibility between the two countries.

“Indian people have more disposable income to travel. This is why there is a demand for international travel and now there are a lot of interesting places in Thailand that the tourists can enjoy for their holiday,” he said.

Recently, Bangkok Airways is likely to start running six flights a week between Mumbai and Bangkok to boost Indian tourists flow to Thailand. More airlines are flying to Thailand than ever before. The imminent launch of IndiGo flights from New Delhi to Thailand will be on 8 September 2011. There will be direct flights from Phuket to Kolkata in the mid-2012, he adds.

Kolkata has seen the remarkable increasing tourists to Thailand and 45 percent of passengers flying from Kolkata to Thailand came to Phuket. According to the Royal Thai Consulate General in Kolkata, the number of Indian tourists in the first half of 2011 is up to 26200 increasing 71.6 percent comparing to last year (18750).

Mr. Panupat Chavananikul, the consul in Kolkata said that: “Consulate in Kolkata is always working together to boost up the number of Indian tourists from time to time. Kolkata itself, we do have a function called “Destination Thailand” that will be held annually to promote Thailand tourism.
Last year, there were around 791,185 Indian tourists to Thailand. Most travelers from India to Thailand go for tourism. The percentage is around 60% for leisure and 40% for business, according to TNT.

“Thailand will expect the number will increase to 1052000 in 2012,” he says.

In July 2011, during the visit of the governor of Trang Province in Kolkata, he suggested Indian tourists to visit underwater wedding in Trang Province in southern Thailand. The underwater wedding is generally for western couples seeking a novel way to exchange vows.

Thailand covers the tropical island paradise of Ko Samui in the Gulf of Thailand which is attractive to everyone, magnificent beaches of Chaweng and Lamai, the
Big Buddha Beach, Wat Phra Yai, Laem So pagoda, Grandmother and Grandfather
Rocks, and Hin Lat Waterfall.

Thailand is keen to work with tourism authorities in India to ensure flight connectivity, lower airfares and cheaper hotels to make India and Thailand among the most preferred destinations.

Nearly 60,000 Thai visited India last year, of which 80 per cent were Buddhist pilgrims.


CHENNAI: Thailand aims to increase the bilateral trade with India to $10 billion in the next two years, a senior official from the Southeast Asian nation said.

“Following the Thailand government’s policy to strengthen the relationship with all countries, including India, a great deal of effort has been put in forging a bilateral trade relationship with India,” Thai Trade Centre Director Paisan Maraprygsavan said.

“The current two-way trade with India stands at $6.6 billion. We want to increase it to $10 billion in two years,” he told reporters here on the sidelines of inauguration of the seventh edition of Thailand Trade Show, 2011 at the Chennai Trade Centre.

He said India signing Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with Thailand and with the ASEAN countries would help strengthening the two-way trade relations.

India imports various products, including cosmetics, furniture and rubber, while it exports automobile parts, sea food, diamond, coal and plastic products to Thailand, he added.

The three-day expo, Thailand Trade Show-2011, was formally inaugurated by Royal Thai Consulate Consul-General Chanchai Charanvatnakit.

He said more than 100 exhibitors ranging from food, beverage, garments, textiles, fashion accessories, health and kitchen products were taking part in the event.

Thailand to shed 'sex tourism' tag soon

Jarnson said the Thai food and dance festival in Goa, in association with the Vivanta by Taj hotels and resorts, was just such an attempt to project Thailand as a place steeped in culture, which is quite similar to the culture of the Indian sub-continent and tradition and a rich and diverse culinary palette.

Arguably called the sex tourism capital of the world, Thailand is now deliberately using the family tourism label to shed the sex destination tag, a Thai diplomat said here Friday.
Speaking to the media on the sidelines of an event organised in Panaji to promote Thailand as a tourism destination, Tomwit Jarnson, the Thai consul general in Mumbai, said family tourism would eventually edge Thailand away from the slur of ‘sex tourism’ in the years to come.

“We are trying to project Thailand as a family tourism destination. We are slowly changing the perception of Thailand to the rest of the world,” Jarnson said.

Jarnson said the Thai food and dance festival in Goa, in association with the Vivanta by Taj hotels and resorts, was just such an attempt to project Thailand as a place steeped in culture, which is quite similar to the culture of the Indian sub-continent and tradition and a rich and diverse culinary palette.

“Destination Thailand is an annual event organised by us which helps us reach out to the people of India through our food, music and dance. We are very happy to have the festival in Goa this year where the people of this city will experience the unique characteristics and rich cultural heritage which our country has to offer,” he said.

“We are slowly developing facilities in Thailand which will attract family tourism. We have a lot of Indian families who travel to Thailand,” Jarnson said.

He further said that the Thailand tourism authorities were trying to project Phuket – which, along with Bangkok and Pattaya, is regarded as the prime sex tourism area in Thailand – as a family tourism destination.

Although banned by law, prostitution is common place in the tourism districts of Thailand, which nearly 14 million tourists visit annually — a large chunk of these are single males or male groups of tourists seeking sex or sex-oriented fun.

A recent World Health Organisation (WHO) report has pegged the number of female prostitutes in the country at 2 lakh.


The Department of Industrial Works is amending the ministerial announcement concerning practices that create environmental impact by factories to update the rules to the current practice.

The Department under the Industry Ministry (Thailand) revealed that the ministerial announcement on the rules for factories to followed is out-of-date.

New adjustment will be made on the factory’s type and size specification, waste and pollution limit, as well as qualifications of personnel. It said the new rules would be clearer, especially on the issues that concerned environmental impact.

The current ministerial announcement stated that factories that produce up to certain levels of pollution must have a certified environmentalist to monitor the factories’ performances. The Department said the problem was the type and quantity of the pollution limit did not coincide with the current practice.

The new policy is expected to finish by the end of the year. Once completed, it will be implemented within 180 days, leaving some time for each factory to adjust.

The tourism industry is likely to see a growth in income this year thanks to long weekends and political stability.

According to Kasikorn Research Center, the tourism sector is expected to gain around 6.5 billion baht in income or about eight percent increase during August 12-14 weekend.

Besides the long weekend, improvement in the political situation is another factor that spurs consumers’ desire to travel.

However, high oil prices and the hike in consumer product prices may force holiday makers to be more careful of their spending. Many of them may choose to travel to nearby provinces in order to save money.

Still, Kasikorn Research Center is hopeful the country’s tourism industry will continue to grow and will earn more than 400 billion baht this year, a four percent growth from last year.


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