Tuesday, September 30, 2008
Monday, September 29, 2008
|Wisit Ongpipatkul of Tisco Research foresees lower US interest rates soon. PHAKRIT JUNTAWONG|
Thai stocks nosedived 2.86% yesterday as Asian and European markets closed lower over growing fears that the US "Big Mac" crisis was spreading to banks across the world.
The Stock Exchange of Thailand index closed yesterday at 601.29 points, down 17.68, in trade worth 10.05 billion baht. Shares fell under the 600-point line to a low of 598.59 in the afternoon before rebounding slightly before the close.
Blue-chip stocks fared worse than the overall market, with the SET50 index off 3.37% on the day. Energy stocks led the market, dropping 3.39% for the day, while banks fell 3.7% and ICT stocks closed off 2.21%.
Foreign investors, net sellers of over 130 billion baht in stock this year, were net sellers of 1.3 billion baht yesterday.
The losses mirrored the rest of the region, with Hong Kong dropping 4.3%, Tokyo down 1.26% and Sydney off 2%.
Analysts said the expected passage of a $700-billion bailout package by the US Congress to buy bad debt from ailing banks did little to ease fears that the global economy is heading for a recession.
Reports that the Belgian-Dutch banking and insurance group Fortis and the British mortgage lender Bradford & Bingley both needed government intervention only added to fears that more banks could fail due to the ailing US economy.
The Hong Kong market was hammered yesterday as the leading Chinese insurer Ping An fell 10.5% on concerns about its exposure to Fortis. The Dah Sing Banking Group also suffered losses over concerns over its exposure to failed US bank Washington Mutual.
Wisit Ongpipatkul, an executive director and head of Tisco Research, said the US crisis would have a lasting impact on equity markets around the world.
The SET index, down 27.87% from January, was likely to recover by the second half of 2009 on the back of local investment flows, he said.
But the crisis would cut export growth for Thailand in 2009 and could result in local banks posting lower profits.
Tisco currently recommends investors hold up to 60% of assets in the money market, with the remainder split between high-dividend and fundamental stocks.
Mr Wisit said US interest rates were likely to be cut sharply over the next few months, possibly leading to a rate cut by the Bank of Thailand in 2009.
Tawatchai Asawapornchai, a vice-president at Globlex Securities, said fear of a US economic recession and tensions in the global financial sector were pressuring equity markets worldwide.
"We could see the SET index continue to drop this week. There just isn't any good news for investors now," he said.
PRICE WATER HOUSE COOPERS
With all of the hype surrounding the topic of talent management it has become increasingly difficult to understand exactly what it means, and more importantly, whether there is something more that we should be doing in our organisations.
As the baby-boom generation retires, the size of our labour pool continues to diminish. This is a global phenomenon and is especially true in Asia. This means that it has become increasingly difficult to attract and recruit people.
At the same time, organisations have become more sophisticated in their understanding of talent requirements.
Where CEOs once spoke about "people" being their organisations' greatest asset, they now specifically refer to "the right people" being their greatest assets. We have learned that it is no longer good enough to recruit skilled people. Instead, we need to be sure that those skilled people will also be a good "cultural" fit for the organisation.
Therefore, it follows that someone who is regarded as "talent" by one organisation may not be considered as such by another. It is one thing to have people who can do a job, but if they are not motivated and happy, they are unlikely to be doing everything they can to help the organisation achieve its goals.
We are defining talent management as the strategic management of the supply of talent through an organisation. Its purpose is to ensure that there is an adequate supply of talent to align the right people with the right jobs at the right time based on strategic business objectives. Therefore, the business strategy should always be the starting point for developing an effective talent management strategy. Organisations should start here, and then look for people, both internally and externally, who have the requisite knowledge, skills and shared values to drive success.
Knowing "what" the organisation needs to do (strategic objectives) and "how" it needs to achieve this (culture) tells us a lot about how to identify talent in a particular organisation.
When it comes to the question of whether it is better to develop people internally or recruit externally, the correct answer usually involves a mix of both approaches. It generally takes longer to develop people internally, but it is often expensive to recruit externally and a "good fit" is not guaranteed.
With shrinking talent pools, organisations need to sell themselves to the candidate. This approach is in stark contrast to the past when candidates had to do everything in their power to sell themselves at the interview. Organisations are finding that they need to include senior management in interviews and spend quality time with candidates discussing and selling the organisation's strategy, culture, development programmes, career paths and reward systems.
Organisations are becoming acutely aware of the need to develop people. However, with increasing pressure to control costs it is critical to ensure that valuable training and development resources are aligned with and prioritised according to the business strategy. It follows then, that these resources should focus on developing talent.
While it is becoming increasingly difficult to attract talent, it is critical that organisations do not fall victim to "brain drain" and do all in their power to retain critical talent. It is largely due to this reason that we have found organisations often seeking help in developing best practice talent management programmes.
Recognition and reward mechanisms should be crafted and aligned such that they motivate and guide people to deliver the organisation's strategic objectives. Financial rewards usually consist of fixed compensation and now organisations are doing more to include variable, performance-related incentives and bonuses in their packages.
However, recognition and rewards are not limited to financial or monetary measures. Research tells us that people bounce out of bed in the morning and go to work to enjoy challenging assignments, collaborative teamwork, good working environments and stimulating engagement with management. Organisations will do well to identify and understand specifically what different groups of people value and design their recognition and reward programmes to meet these needs.
While all the components we have discussed should be present in any organisation, some companies spend more time and focussed effort in doing it right. An effective talent management process ensures that all components are crafted and aligned to attract, develop and retain the people responsible for the organisation achieving its strategic objectives.
In this sense, talent management is not so much about whether an organisation is doing it, but rather, how consciously it is doing it. It is just as much a mindset as it is a process and what often distinguishes one company from another is the extent to which this proposition is properly understood and actively sponsored and championed throughout the organisation.
Stephen J. Camilleri is an Associate Director in the Advisory practice of PricewaterhouseCoopers Mekong, which comprises of offices in Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos. We welcome your comments at firstname.lastname@example.org
Sunday, September 28, 2008
'I was asked by a new manager how he could get promoted within a short period," a young CEO, Vichit, tells me. "I am CEO because my father owns this firm. I have never been promoted before."
"What do you think?" I ask him.
"I guess diligence, honesty, endurance and delivering work according to the assignments."
"That makes you meet the standard but it's not much help for a fast-track career," I say.
"What's your suggestion?"
"Jack Welch, the former GE CEO, devoted a chapter to the topic of getting promoted in his book Winning, now available in Thai under the title Soo-Chai-Chana:
1. Deliver sensational performance, far beyond expectations, and at every opportunity expand your job beyond its official boundaries.
2. Manage your relationships with your subordinates with the same care that you manage your relationship with your boss.
3. Get on the radar screen by being an early champion of your company's major projects or initiatives.
4. Search out and relish the input of lots of mentors, realising that mentors don't always look like mentors.
5. Have a positive attitude and spread it around.
He also lists two things to avoid:
1. Making your boss use political capital in order to champion you.
2. Letting setbacks break your stride."
"Can you give me some examples?" Vichit asks.
I offer two from the book:
In the first year of his career, Jack Welch worked in a laboratory developing a new plastic called PPO. A vice-president was coming to town, and his boss asked him to give an update on progress.
He stayed late at work for a week, analysing not only the economics of PPO, but of all the other engineering plastics in the industry. His final report included a five-year outlook, comparing the costs of products made by key competitors and outlining a clear route to a competitive advantage for GE. His boss and the VP were very positively surprised.
Another example: GE assigned John Krennicki to run a US$100-million silicones business in 1997. The company expected John to deliver 8-10% growth a year. But John had a bigger idea. He saw an opportunity, if GE built a new plant to produce raw material in
His request for capital investment was turned down. But instead of letting go, he talked with several of his European competitors in search of a partner who would contribute local sourcing and technology expertise in return for GE's global strength.
After long negotiations, John found what he needed in a joint venture with a German firm. He successfully expanded business to $700 million. Later he was promoted to CEO of GE Transportation.
When it comes to managing people, Jack Welch warns about two traps: 1. Some people only manage and do not care about the team, and 2. Some people get too close to the team and act like a buddy to subordinates.
Jack explains that before he was promoted to CEO, he was strongly opposed by two powerful vice-chairmen, who supported their own candidates. Unbeknownst to him, he was really helped by his direct reports. He found out later that they had advocated relentlessly for his promotion with the chairman.
They told the chairman that Jack was tough but fair, and that Jack would push GE harder and faster than others. Jack was not sure the direct reports liked him - he was rough around the edges and pretty short of patience. But Jack guessed they respected him for respecting them and building relationships with them - not just when Jack needed them, but years before.
To get on the radar of senior management, Jack explains that one should volunteer to lead in a project. This is a way to get noticed by results. You can raise visibility by putting up your hand when the call comes for people to lead major projects and initiatives. He notes that one-third of GE's approximately 180 senior officers have significant Six Sigma experience.
On mentors, he writes that throughout his career he had mentors ranging from a young woman in PR who taught him how to use the internet when he was 60, up to a board of directors. Jack says that business media, books and journals were also his mentors. He learned a lot from reading. Several initiatives in GE were adapted from his reading.
A last example is about dealing with setbacks. Jack gives the example of a manager in GE's Power Systems, Mark Little. In 1995, when Mark just started to run this business, it was in a mess due to several factors. Mark got a new boss who demoted him and reduced his team to one-third its former size. Mark was hurt and upset.
But Mark stuck his chin out and got back to work. Over the next couple of years, he energised his team to revitalise the business. After a successful turnaround, he got the position and his full team back.
Kriengsak Niratpattanasai provides executive coaching in leadership and diversity management under the brand TheCoach. He can be reached at email@example.com. Copies of previous columns are available at http://www.thaicoach.com
Friday, September 26, 2008
Supporters of the anti-government People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD) said on Friday they will close five airports in the South to try to stop a visit by new Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat to his home town.
The five airports are Hat Yai, Krabi, Nakhon Si Thammarat, Surat Thani and Phuket. PAD said they will close all of them with human barricades to prevent a visit by Mr Somchai scheduled for Saturday.
Mr Somchai planned to visit his hometown in Surat Thani province to celebrate being named prime minister. He was scheduled to land at Surat Thani on Saturday, but he may try to use another airport in the region because of the militant actions of the anti-government group.
Sunthorn Rakwong, core leader of PAD group in the South, said the move is to show Mr Somchai he is not welcome in the South because he is a nominee of ousted premier Thaksin Shinawatra, the premier's brother in law.
Mr Sunthorn said the PAD members would gather at the five airports on Friday to "begin operations". He said protesters would remain peaceful, and vowed to avoid violent or aggressive measures.
If the premier manages to land in the South, PAD members will follow wherever he goes to pressure him to leave the region and go back to Bangkok, Mr Sunthorn threatened.
On Thursday, a group of PAD supporters in Nakhon Si Thammarat blocked House Speaker Chai Chidchob from attending a scheduled seminar on "The House Meets People" held in the southern province, forcing Mr Chai to leave for Bangkok on Friday morning.
Meanwhile, PAD core leader Chamlong Srimuang said provincial members of PAD can do what they believe it is suitable, and claimed that any such action had nothing to do with the central PAD.
Maj Gen Chamlong also said the group welcomes the opportunity to negotiate with newly appointed Deputy Prime Minister Chavalit Yongchaiyudh if he actually serves as a mediator between the government and PAD. Gen Chavalit is a senior, national figure who served in top posts including army commander and prime minister, he said.
However, another PAD core leader Pibhop Tongchai cast doubts on that promise. He said he has doubts about the real intention behind Gen Chavalit's appointment as a mediator.
Thursday, September 25, 2008
The Securities and Exchange Commission yesterday filed a criminal complaint against Glory Bullion (Thailand) Co for illegally offering to trade oil, gold and foreign-exchange futures contracts without a licence. SEC and police investigators raided the company's offices at Thai CC Tower on Wednesday and seized evidence suggesting it had solicited investors to transact forward contracts as a branch of a Hong Kong broker.
Rama 3 Land fails to pick up new partner
Rama 3 Land Co, the developer of SV Complex on Rama III Road, is on the brink of bankruptcy after the administrator of its debt-rehabilitation plan failed to get a new partner to revive the huge condominium project over the past six years.
The Central Bankruptcy Court will announce on Oct 21 whether the company will go through the bankruptcy process. If the court says so, the Legal Execution Department will foreclose the assets and wait two years before auctioning them and repaying creditors. The court may delay its decision if someone files an appeal.
Rama 3 Land is a joint venture between Sahaviriya City Plc and a Hong Kong developer that went bust during the 1997 financial crisis.
Currently, its major creditors are Thai Asset Management Corporation (TAMC), which accounts for 27% of total debts of 11 billion baht; Sahaviriya City Plc, which accounts for 21% of total debts; and around 1,000 to 1,100 buyers of condominium units. The project comprises the four-tower SV Garden facing the street and the three-tower SV Royal Park overlooking the Chao Phraya River.
Now that Sahaviriya City Plc has gone bankrupt, its major creditor has become TAMC.
Peter Noel Schiefelbein, the senior executive director of the plan administrator Asset Planner Co, blamed TAMC for failing to co-operate with the restructuring plan after Rama 3 Land entered the rehabilitation process in 2001.
He said that during 2003 and 2004 the plan administrator managed to attract Growth Water Woods Co as the new partner to continue project development and deliver the units to buyers. However, TAMC opposed the plan and the company withdrew.
The administrator later could not find a new partner for the company as potential investors backed away from fear of not securing co-operation from the major creditor and because of the slowing economy.
Asset Planner, a subsidiary of the financial consulting firm Churchill Pryce, finished its five-year term plus one-year extension as the plan administrator on Aug 23 but the creditors voted on Sept 4 not to renew its contract for another year.
A company source said the official receiver representing Sahaviriya City had to vote "no" for the proposal to renew the contract with the plan administrator because the creditors, of whom TAMC has the largest vote, decided so on Sept 2.
He said that Asset Planner in May also received a notice from the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration about the buildings' safety. It then hired experts to inspect the buildings and they recommended that the structures be demolished.
He said 95% of unit buyers agreed with demolition so the debris could be sold and the net amount shared among creditors but TAMC opposed the plan.
The source said that since the unit buyers were considered non-secured creditors, their right to be repaid would be subordinate to that of the secured creditor TAMC and they were unlikely to get any money back.
He said that explained why TAMC wanted to see the company enter the bankruptcy process though the value of the assets fell short of the total debt. As the largest secured creditor, the state agency would likely receive all the assets sold at forced value, which would be much lower than the estimated market price.
Economic policymakers insist Thai financial markets are relatively unaffected by the turmoil on Wall Street.
The Finance Ministry held talks with other institutions yesterday about contingency plans to help mitigate losses to the local market if the crisis in the United States worsens.
Bank of Thailand governor Tarisa Watanagase said the central bank was prepared to take action to ease any stress in the local market as a result of the problems in the US.
The meeting came as the US Congress continued deliberations yesterday on the US government's unprecedented US$700 billion (23.8 trillion baht) plan to buy up distressed assets held by the banking sector.
Paul Kanjorski, the chairman of the House of Representatives subcommittee on capital markets, a Democrat from Pennsylvania, said the bailout bill was "almost an accomplished fact", and would include warrants, mortgage relief for homeowners and curbs on executive compensation.
President George W Bush yesterday was to hold an emergency meeting with Congressional leaders as well as with Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama and his Republican rival, John McCain, to discuss the package.
US lawmakers hope to approve the bailout within the next several days to help calm financial markets, which have remained highly volatile following this month's bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers and government intervention in AIG, the world's largest insurer.
Permanent secretary for finance Suparut Kawutul said there had been a limited impact from the US financial crisis on the local banking system, equities market and insurance sector.
The Finance Ministry was monitoring developments closely, and would prepare contingency plans for the local financial system, he said.
Mrs Tarisa said the central bank could introduce a rescue package to inject liquidity and tackle bad assets in the Thai banking system if necessary.
"The present developments in other countries are a good example. The central bank might introduce a rescue package if necessary. We are ready if there is a need to increase liquidity in the system." Regulators took pains to point out that local institutions' exposure to overseas assets was limited. The banking system currently has $3.6 billion (122 billion baht) worth of external credit compared with eight trillion baht worth of total liabilities.
Chantra Purnariksha, secretary-general of the Office of the Insurance Commission, said the local insurance sector had been relatively unaffected.
Policy redemptions amounted to only 20 to 30 per day since it emerged earlier this month that AIG was facing a severe liquidity problem, Mrs Chantra said.
AIA, the local unit of AIG and the country's largest life insurer, had capital funds 10 times the regulatory minimum, she said, and had around 90% of its investment portfolio in the local market.
The diplomatic corps has breathed a sigh of relief at the possibility of violence on the streets decreasing, but many ambassadors believe the government will not last long as several political time-bombs are waiting to explode.
United States ambassador to Thailand Eric John was the first foreign diplomat to meet new Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat on Monday at Mr Somchai's house, and the American embassy's team has gradually met many of the key ministers, who were sworn in yesterday.
Mr John went straight to the point and asked Mr Somchai if his cabinet was only a "stop-gap" measure before the next election in a few months, according to a source. The prime minister did not reply, but pledged to do his best during his tenure, the source added.
Outgoing Chinese ambassador to Thailand Zhang Jiuhuan was the second diplomat to meet former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra's brother-in-law.
The US and China have played a quiet, but important role in voicing concerns from the international community about the Thai political scene over the past few years.
Japan and the European Commission also took a tough stance when the military staged a coup two years ago and expressed their concerns about the violent political turbulence during the past few months. Their voices represent key traders and investors in Thailand.
Despite the combination of political clowns and gangsters, which include nominees and relatives of banned politicians from the defunct Thai Rak Thai party, the Somchai government is the main legitimate political force in Thailand, said a European diplomat.
The People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD) occupying Government House - the centre of administration - gives the country a bad image in the eyes of the foreign community.
"We are sympathetic to Thailand and we know that our stance might not please somebody like the anti-government forces, but this country has come through difficult times over several years and what you need is a more quiet political life - it's better to get Thailand out of the headlines on CNN and the BBC or see comments in The Economist, New York Times and International Herald Tribune," a diplomat based in Bangkok said.
Hopefully, the People Power party-led government will manage to have some political life before the House dissolution, with certain agreements to be reached with the PAD on how to amend the constitution.
Foreign diplomats realise the government is only an interim administration. One thing they do know is that Mr Thaksin will still happily carry his diplomatic passport, at least until the end of the year.
They are also closely watching how amicably Thailand's conflicts with Cambodia will be resolved, with people who know Cambodian strongman and Prime Minister Hun Sen sitting in the new administration.
What they are more concerned with is how the government can win back the confidence of foreign and domestic investors, as well as tourists, to stimulate the economy in the months ahead.
Local tourists have either delayed or canceled their tours to Thailand due to the current political unrest there, just like their reactions in the years of 2006-2007 when chaos there unseated the then Thai leader Thaksin Shinawatra, tour operators said.
Cao Pham Hang, director of Saigon Petroleum Tour Center, told the Daily on Wednesday that the company had delayed trips for two groups of tourists initially scheduled for departure this week for the neighboring country.
"We are arranging a meeting for a big group of 100 guests in Thailand in October. If the situation in Thailand continues, we may opt for other destinations as alternatives," she said.
She explained that travelers worried not only about the danger there, but also the risks of difficulties to come back home because some airports might be closed like what happened at the Phuket International Airport late last week.
At V.Y.C Travel, a group of tourists has also delayed a trip scheduled for September 9 to 16, but without making any new bookings, said the tour operator's director.
"Some weeks before, tourists don't care much about the situation because they've seen it like the last unrest but the situation prolonged so the guests have delayed the tour," said Le Hong Phong, director of V.Y.C Travel.
He however said that the situation in Thailand was still safe for tourists, as reported by a group of guests sent by the company to the country. V.Y.C has a group of 32 tourists joining the Bangkok-Pattaya tour, and these travelers reported that the situation there was calm, Phong said, adding the visitors yesterday came back to HCMC.
At Fiditourist, however, few cancellations are reported.
Nguyen Thanh Hai, head of the outbound department of Fiditourist, said while corporate guests were reconsidering their departure times, individual tourists were still setting off as usual. At the company, two groups of seat-in-coach tourists yesterday started the Bangkok-Pattaya trip.
However, preventive measures are also taken, said a Fiditourist executive.
"We will not take tourists to dangerous points in Bangkok. We are waiting for travel advisories, and if the situation turns dangerous we will stop taking tourists there," said Nguyen Thi Tuyet Mai, public relations executive of Fiditourist.
Asked about the extent of trip cancellations, the general tourism division under the HCMC's Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism said the exact figure would only come out in the next two days, as the division is monitoring the situation. No warnings have been issued to local tourists over the danger in Thailand.
However, the division reported that due to the economic slowdown and the political unrest, the total number of local travelers to Thailand since January to mid-August via Tan Son Nhat Airport was lower than the same period of last year. The number was at nearly 26,000 people, down 30% year-on-year.
In a talk with VnExpress, Foreign Ministry's spokesperson Le Dung said security in Thailand was still normal, and "there is no need now to warn locals against traveling to Thailand."
Last year, around 260,000 Vietnamese travelers have visited Thailand, and this country has expected arrivals from Vietnam this year to increase by some 15,000.
Thailand's newspaper Bangkok Post on Tuesday reported that tour operators began to see booking cancellations.
"Thai tourism industry was likely to lose revenue during the five-month high season (October to February) if the protests were prolonged," the newspaper quoted Apichart Sankary, president of the Association of Thai Travel Agents.
Some countries including South Korea, the UK, Canada, Japan and Australia have issued travel advisories on Bangkok's political situation.
Tuesday, September 23, 2008
Motor Image Subaru Co, the local authorised Subaru importer and distributor, expects sales to more than double this year.
Shrugging aside the uncertain political and economic outlook, Motor Image, a wholly owned subsidiary of Hong Kong-listed Tan Chong International Ltd, plans to introduce more new models at the end of this year to increase its imported car share in the Thai market, said general manager Apichai Dhammasirarak.
The new models to be launched at the year-end Bangkok Motor Expo will include the new Impreza sedan, the all-new Forester SUV and seven-seat Exiga multi-purpose vehicle (MPV).
Motor Image began its business in Thailand 10 years ago but strong sales just emerged last year.
It sold about 90 cars last year, a remarkable sales increase for Subaru after the new Impreza five-door hatchbacks were launched. Women liked the new look while the prices were cut to attract a wider market.
The Impreza hatchback with a 1.5- litre engine retails at 1.12 million baht for a manual gearbox and 1.17 million baht for an automatic. A two-litre engine retails at 1.345 million baht for a manual gearbox and 1.395 million baht for an automatic.
The hatchback with a turbocharged engine was priced at 2.42 million baht for the WRX performance version and 3.95 million baht for the STI version.
Sales of both Impreza hatchbacks accounted for 70% of Motor Image's sales last year while the remainder were for the Legacy sedan and sport utility vehicle (SUV) and the Forester SUV.
Mr Apichai said sales are projected to more than double to 200 units this year, aided by the launch of new models at the end of this year. Sales in the first eight months total 120 units.
"We did not expect such strong demand for the new Impreza last year, so our backorders ran a few months long," said Mr Apichai.
The company will keep their stock in place to prepare for rising demand when the new models launch.
Subaru changed to a subtle look to appeal to a wider market, especially females, with resounding success. In addition, a new Subaru showroom on Serithai Road in Bangkok boosted customer confidence that it will have a permanent presence in Thailand.
Apart from Thailand, Motor Image has showrooms in China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, the Philippines and Taiwan.
Tourism between Thailand and Korea is expected to receive a major boost next month with the staging of the Korean Festival 2008 in Bangkok.
The 100-million-baht festival would promote tourism between two countries, improve the tourism image of Thailand among Korean people and celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Thai-South Korean relationship, said Hong Ji-Hee, managing director of Korea Thailand Communication Center Co (KTCC).
The event will be held from Oct 10-12 at Siam Paragon with around 30 exhibitors taking part. KTCC has organised the festival along with the Embassy of Korea, the Thai Tourism and Sport Ministry and the Korea Association of Thailand.
"We will invite VIP guests such as Korean superstars and singers to visit and join some activities," said Ms Hong.
"Their arrival will help boost confidence of Korean tourists about travelling to Thailand after some had cancelled trips due to political turmoil."
She said Thai tourists would also learn more about South Korea, its original culture and lifestyle in addition to the K-Pop singers and Korean TV series that are already very popular here.
The event will also offer some opportunities to aspiring singers and dancers aged between 13 and 25 years old to participate in a Korean star audition.
Entertainment companies, such as JYP Entertainment, the producer of well-known artists including Rain, Wonder Girls and Nichkhun, will be represented at the fair.
KTCC expects around 150,000 visitors, 40,000 or whom would be Koreans.
"If we receive positive feedback from the event, we may continue to organise it again next year," Ms Hong said.
KTCC was established in 2002. Its main business is handling music, television and film copyrights for Korean stars and artists. It also has an inbound travel service and provides Korean translators.
Ms Hong predicted that the travel agent business would contribute 70% of total revenues by 2011, up from 50% this year, and the remaining 30% would come from the entertainment business.
"The tourism business, both inbound and outbound, has high potential to grow, particularly agricultural and incentive tourism," she said.
She expects that total Korean tourist arrivals to Thailand would increase by 10% this year, from 1.2 million last year. Total Thai tourist arrivals to Korea would grow by 30% from 124,000 last year.
"I want to see more trading between Korea and Thailand apart from the tourism and entertainment businesses because the countries can be big markets for each other," she said.
53% drop in pickup trucks weighs on total
The country's total automobile production excluding motorcycles dropped 5.25% year-on-year last month to 103,737 units due to a slump in the domestic market with only 34,110 units, a 31.88% decrease year-on-year, said Surapong Phaisitpattanapong, a spokesman for the Federation of Thai Industries' Automobile Club.
The production decrease in August was the first of the year.
Production of pickup trucks for the domestic market fell 53.46% year-on-year in August to 14,130 units because of a four-month slide in sales blamed on rising diesel prices. Yet August sales still surpassed those in July.
Automobile production for export rose 17.2% year-on-year in August to 69,627 units while actual vehicle exports rose 5.74% to 69,404 units. In the eight months to August, vehicle production totalled 944,893 units, a 15.76% increase year-on-year, of which 529,530 units were produced for export, representing 56% of total production and a 23.1% increase year-on-year. The remaining 415,363 units are for the domestic market, representing 44% of total production and a 7.6% increase year-on-year.
Vehicle exports in the first eight months increased 22.75% year-on-year to 526,518 units while the total value rose 29.76% to 382.84 billion baht.
Passenger car production in August rose 12.36% year-on-year to 33,453 units and in eight months to August increased 33.9% to 272,756 units.
Pickup truck production including passenger pickup vehicles (PPV) fell 10.93% year-on-year to 69,102 units but in the eight months to August it was up by 10.36% to 659,073 units.
According to Mr Surapong, production of motorcycles in August decreased 20.6% to 218,750 units while for the first eight months production dropped 4.1% to 2.15 million units.
Exports of motorcycles, both fully built units and assembly kits, dropped sharply 497% year-on-year to 76,986 units while the export value fell 4.75% year-on-year to 1.79 billion baht.
In the eight months to August, motorcycle exports decreased 17.16% year-on-year to 990,520 units but the export value rose 1.4% to 17.27 billion baht.
Thailand's export sector will suffer from the US financial turmoil over the next four to five months in line with a downturn in consumption by the world's biggest economy, says Suchart Chantaranakaracha, the chairman of Thai National Shippers' Council (TNSC).
Exporters may not see a direct impact immediately since the orders they are shipping now were placed months ago and are due for delivery gradually from now until early next year, he said.
An additional challenge will be the weakening of the US dollar and subsequent appreciation in currencies in Asia. As a result, Mr Suchart said, some Thai exporters could feel uneasy.
"It is inevitable that we will see the impact on our export sector since the US consumes as much as 14% of Thai exports by value," he said.
The situation in the US may also affect other large economies including Europe and Japan, which consume Thai export products on par with the US.
For now, he said, no one knows how long the crisis will last, while the election in the US adds more uncertainty.
"So far this year, the growth in the export sector is likely to reach 24% but with these [new developments] factored in, if we can achieve only 15-16% growth next year that would [make people] very happy," he said.
As they await the formation of the new cabinet, businesses say that if the government can promote reconciliation, it would automatically boost confidence.
"All in all, confidence is the key, everything will be back on track if the government can boost confidence in the country," Mr Suchart said.
The TNSC yesterday signed a co-operation agreement with the Japan Institute of Logistics Systems (JILS) to improve logistics networks, human resources and information in Asean.
Tetsuo Shibata of the Japan External Trade Organisation (Jetro) in Tokyo said Jetro planned to expand the co-operation with the Philippines and Indonesia this year, and to work with Indochinese countries next year.
"Thailand is the first nation we (Jetro) have joined hands with. If we succeed in developing a network here, we will expand throughout the region. We hope to see shippers here experience a seamless system," he said.
By Suchat Sritama
Published on September 24, 2008
Featured hotel and travel operators targeting Indian wedding couples. tourism boost Indian wedding belles heading eastThailand bids to tap marriage market
Thai hotel operators are aiming to cash in on India's growing number of overseas weddings, expecting a 10percent boost from the segment this year.
The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) has set a target of 557,000 visitors from India for the year, a 10percent increase over 2007, generating projected revenue of Bt18 billion.
With no worries about political turmoil in Thailand, the most popฌular tourist destinations for Indian visitors continue to be beach resorts. A large number of Indian visitors are entering Thailand overland via Malaysia.
Operators of four and fivestar hotels have found that many Indians want to hold their weddings outside the country and Thailand is becomฌing the most popular destination.
The operators expected the numฌber of Indian wedding couples comฌing to Thailand to grow more than 10 per cent this year, as it is less expensive than European and other destinations in Asia.
Simon Burgess, global director of sales, Dusit International, said the cost of accommodation alone in Thailand is US$200 (Bt6,800) per night, lower than the $400 to $500 per night in India. Each of the wedฌdings usually takes four days and brings together 300 to 1,000 guests with total spending of Bt1 million to Bt5 million per trip.
"This is an opportunity for hotels in Thailand to tap the growth," said Burgess.
He added that Indians had to date been organising wedding parties in only three major destinations - Bangkok, Pattaya and Phuket. He suggested that operators in other parts of the country should cater to Indian needs, particularly as regards food, to woo more wedding tourists.
Natapong Jantavetsiri, group director of sales and marketing at Centara Hotels and Resorts, said the group is targeting weddings along with young and family travellers.
Krabi province in the South has become a popular place for wedฌdings, helping to spread customers to other regions.
Dheerawat Bhunlapiwat, executive assistant manager for sales and marketing at the Chaophya Park Hotel Bangkok, said the hotel had 38 new business bookings. Most of the customers are for meetings and conferences, as well as family trips and weddings.
The TAT's director at its New Delhi office, Chattan Kunjara na Ayudhya, said India is one of Thailand's most rapidly growing markets and the biggest market in South Asia.
In 2007, Indian visitor arrivals totalled 506,237, up 17.8 per cent over 2006, crossing the halfmillion mark for the first time. The TAT reported a major increase in family travellers, firsttime visitors, as well as individฌual travellers.
In 2000, Indian visitors totalled 203,221, up about 23.7 per cent over 1999. This growing trend continued in 2005 when visitors totalled 352,965, an increase of 17.41 per cent over 2004.
The growth of aviation between India and Thailand and the generalฌly peaceful atmosphere in the Kingdom are major reasons for the overall yearround holiday for Indians. Indians also get a visa on arrival at Thailand's international gateway checkpoints.
Many Indians are also venturing on their first trip abroad, and find Thailand the best place to start their international travels because it fits in well with their budget and time availฌability.
In 2007, firsttime visitors from India were up 33.93 per cent to 250,688 and repeat visitors were up by 5.36 per cent to 255,549.
Male visitors maintained a bigger share of about 76.53 per cent (387,424). Visitors travelling indeฌpendently were up about 12.56 per cent over 2006 and also comprised a much bigger share of 59.82 per cent of the number of Indian visitors. Indian holidaymakers showed growth of 19.34 per cent to 377,399, business travellers grew 12.41 per cent to 64,609 while convention delegates declined slightly by 0.4 per cent to 32,891.
Thailand attracted both upperincome and bluecollar visitors, while the numbers of visitors who identified themselves as housewives and students showed good growth of 26.1 per cent (45,593) and 32.36 per cent (55,597), respectively.
In 2007, Indian visitors recorded an average length of stay of 6.91 days and - with average daily expenditure of $136.17 per person - generated tourism revenue of $476.35 million.
There is still ample liquidity in local money markets to support the Thai economy, Bank of Thailand governor Tarisa Watanagase said yesterday.
"There is no need to inject added liquidity into the markets," she said.
Dr Tarisa added that turmoil on Wall Street over the past month would have a negligible impact on the Thai financial system and that capital outflows were low compared with other countries in the region.
Major central banks around the world have been injecting hundreds of billions of dollars into the international money markets to stave off a complete seizure of credit markets in the wake of the Lehman Brothers' bankruptcy and the near-collapse of insurance giant AIG.
Dr Tarisa stressed that the exposure of Thai banks to Lehman Brothers was insignificant compared with their total balance sheets.
The central bank has estimated that Thai banks hold just seven billion baht worth of Lehman Brothers investments or forward exchange contracts.
Total outstanding foreign assets held by Thai banks are also quite small, at just US$7 billion. Dr Tarisa said that a number of banks were in the process of unwinding their overseas positions to reduce risk.
Meanwhile, the appreciation of the Thai baht is being driven by weakness in the US dollar, which has fallen against most currencies over recent days as investors forecast prolonged difficulties for the US economy as the costs of the financial crisis increase.
The baht yesterday was quoted at 33.74/80 baht to the US dollar, a one-month high. Last week the currency was among the best performers in the region against the dollar.
"The fact that the baht appreciated stronger than other regional currencies may reflect the fact that foreign capital outflows from Thailand have been less than from other countries in the region," Dr Tarisa said.
She brushed off concerns that the central bank may have difficulties working with Suchart Thadathamrongvej, the presumed successor to Surapong Suebwonglee as Finance Minister.
Dr Suchart, an economist and academic, was a strong critic of the central bank's move to raise interest rates earlier this year to help curb inflation.
But Dr Tarisa said she did not expect any problems. "The central bank is confident that it can work with anyone. There are no conflicts," she said.
Meanwhile, Vachira Aromdee, director of international economics for the Bank of Thailand, said regional central bankers were in agreement that the US financial crisis would have a modest impact on the region.
Last weekend in Bangkok, the Bank of Thailand hosted the 27th Seanza Governors' symposium, which brought together central bankers from 20 countries in the Asia Pacific, Australia and New Zealand.
Mrs Vachira said while the fallout from the US crisis was expected to be mild for the region, central bankers agreed that more aggressive policies were required to help accommodate the rise in volatility in financial markets.
While the student recruitment agencies in Thailand might sound like they are actually located in Thailand, most university and college sponsored student recruiters are actually based in the United States at the campus of the sponsoring university or college. There are two types of student recruitment agencies in Thailand and other countries: community college recruiters and university recruiters. The real difference between these two types of recruiters is only the organization that sponsors the recruiters.
The purpose of student recruitment agencies in Thailand and other countries is for the college or university to gain a larger foreign student population. Not only does this make the sponsoring university or college more diverse, it also can aid the college or university financially. Often, universities and colleges who sponsor student recruiters or who house and educate foreign students will receive funding from the United States government to fund the student’s costs. While this is not always the main reason behind a university or college recruiting foreign students, it can be one of the main factors. Another, more popular and ethical reason for student recruitment agencies in Thailand and other foreign countries is the international education policy and the desire of the United States to assist in the education of those in other, poorer countries.
Some student recruiters are so large that they literally have over 400 advising centers stationed all over the United States. There are many different places that these recruiters travel to for recruitment fairs: student recruitment agencies in Thailand, China, South Korea, Vietnam, and Indonesia all do very well. Of course, these recruiters must either be bilingual, or they must travel with several translators, as some of the students in these recruitment areas do not speak much or any English.
While that language barrier can be a problem for recruited foreign students in American colleges and universities, this is often overcome with preliminary English as a Second Language, or ESL, classes. In general, though, these recruited students do very well in American universities and colleges. These students often will go back to their home countries to further the education of their countrymen.