Daily Digest: Today’s Asia travel news at a glance – March 19

THERE’S a distinct Thai flavour to news today with the nation winning tourism awards and preparing for annual Songkran festivities, amongst other stories. India also hits the headlines as a major aviation market and Asia celebrates St. Patrick’s Day in style. Read these stories and more in today’s Asia travel news round-up.

Thailand scoops Asian travel awards
For the ninth year in a row Go Asia has awarded Thailand ‘Asia’s Most Popular Destination‘. Members of the marketing network vote in the poll and include tour operators and airlines.

They also voted the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) the ‘Best Asian Tourism Board’ and Thai Airways as the ‘Best Asian Airline’.

The TAT Governor said the recognition would inspire them to continue developing Thailand as a destination of choice for many travellers.

Pic: centreforaviation.com

India destined to be world’s third largest aviation market
The Centre for Asia Pacific Aviation (CAPA) forecasted this week that Indian passenger traffic will become the world’s third largest by 2020.

Today 150 million people travel every year, there is a fleet of 437 aircraft and a low cost sector that covers 70 percent of the market.

However CAPA’s report also acknowledged challenges in the industry such as technology and innovation.

Pic: Pankaj Sharma/Gulf News

Airbus: India needs 1040 more aircraft
Airbus said India will need 1043 new passenger aircraft in the next 20 years to cover the nation’s increasing aviation market.

The European plane maker said 160 will replace old aircraft, while 860 will be for the increasing number of passengers.

Current annual growth in passenger traffic is 7.2 percent but expected to reach 10 percent as the Indian economy drives forward.

Pic: songkran.tourismthailand.org

Songkran festivities this year billed as less exciting
The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) expects this year’s annual Songkran holiday to be lacking in lustre as tourists elect to go elsewhere.

Despite winning awards in the Asian travel industry (see story above), rising oil prices, higher costs of living and other economic factors are cited as part of the reason the travel industry might not expect high tourism numbers for Songkran.

The TAT deputy governor said people were shortening their holidays as a result of these factors

Malaysia to introduce new airport security measures
Expect more security measures at Malaysia’s Penang and Kuala Lumpur airports over the next year.

Both airports will be outfitted with HI-SCAN detectors and IONSCAN table-top devices to detect explosives and narcotics. The devices will be supplied by Smiths Detection, a major global supplier of airport security screening equipment.

Pic: The Nation / Ann

Bangkok airport delays threaten tourist image
Long immigration queues, chronic overcrowding, construction and a management crisis are some of the problems besetting the Suvarnabhumi airport. New just six years ago, the $4 billion dollar airport is so stretched it could damage Thailand’s image as a tourist friendly destination.

Passengers are being advised to arrive three hours before their flights to get through immigration queues on time.

On Friday Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra ordered low-cost carriers to move to Don Mueang Airport to ease traffic at Suvarnabhumi.

Australian couple take million dollar baby home…
After three months and hospital bills totalling nearly $1 million dollars, an Australian couple have finally taken their baby girl back home.

The couple went into labour while waiting to board a flight home from Canada last August but were rushed to a hospital instead to have their premature daughter.

The couple had travel insurance but no coverage for the labour or the baby’s subsequent care.

Pic: australiantimes.co.uk

Merrymakers around Asia celebrate St. Patrick’s Day…
The annual Irish festival that has been exported successfully around the world, went off with a bang around parts of Asia over the weekend.

From Seoul to Tokyo, Sydney and Kuala Lumpur, cities were awash with all things green to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day on March 17.

In Sydney the sails of the Opera House were lit green in colour while 100,000 lined the streets for the annual parade, in China the first ever parade was held in Chengdu and thousands joined the fun in Changkat Bukit Bintang in Kuala Lumpur.

Asia travel news round-up compiled by Jo Lane