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SLW Holds Veterans Cup at Khao Yai and Bangkok

Text & Pix By Deepak Arora

BANGKOK, May 19: On May 15 and 16, all roads from Delhi, Gurgaon, Chandigarh, Jallandhar, Amrtisar, Chennai, Bengaluru and Mhow were leading to Bangkok.

To beat the Indian heat, a group of Golfers including few ladies, decided to go to the coolers chimes of Khao Yai and Bangkok to participate in two Veteran Golf tournaments, organized by internationally reputed Anil Dev of leading Golf event company, SLW (Sports and Leisure Worldwide), and was supported by Tourism Authority of Thailand, New Delhi and Diplomatic Travels.

As soon as the teams arrived by different flights at Suvarnabhumi Airport in Bangkok, they were seamlessly transferred by comfortable vans to Khao Yai, two to three hours from the airport. As the Thailand Government gives free visas to Indians, the immigration officers took less than a couple of minutes to stamp the passports.

It may be mentioned that Thailand lived upto its reputation of being an amazing Golf destination as it hosted the Veterans from the Indian defence forces. The event in its fourth edition saw participation from Indian Veterans and their better half’s belonging to the cross section of different services.

Mrs. Siriges-A-Nong Trirattanasongpol, Director Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) New Delhi Office

In response to a question on the golf tours to Thailand, Mrs. Siriges-A-Nong Trirattanasongpol, Director Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) New Delhi Office, said "I wish to extend my thanks to Mr. Anil Dev from Sports & Leisure Worldwide (SLW) for highlighting the emerging golf destinations in Khao Yai, Thailand, to Indian golfers."

Mrs. Siriges-A-Nong Trirattanasongpol said "We warmly welcome all golf enthusiasts to experience the delights of Thailand. Khao Yai, situated a short 2-hour drive from Bangkok, is famously known as the cowboy city of Thailand and offers a diverse range of choices for travelers, including boutique hotels, winery tours, national parks, water parks, and, of course, stunning golf courses."

On more reasons to travel to Thailand, the Director (TAT) added that the tourist visa exemption for Indians and few other countries has been extended till November 24 this year. There is also ASEAN and Indian shopping ongoing in Thailand till June 15.

The veterans cup is a dedicated event for the retired and serving defence personal and as a tradition been held in Thailand.

The first edition was held in Bangkok, the second in Pattaya followed by the third one in Phuket.

Our first destination was Khao Yai, which is Thailand’s hidden gem for summer golf escapes. It boasts a selection of world class golf courses which beckon Indians during the hot summer months.

With maximum temperatures around 30 degree Celsius, it’s a huge relief from the 40 to 50 degree temperatures prevailing across most of India during May and June.

After reaching at the beautiful Kirimaya Resort and Spa, we had a relaxing day and went around to view and study the difficulties of the golf course within the resort. We latere enjoyed sumptuous Thai lunch and dinner in the cosy environment of the resort..

Kirimaya Golf Resort offers an award-winning 18-hole golf course designed by Jack Nicklaus. Beyond golf, spa treatments, wildlife adventures, and elegant villas await, Ideal for discerning travellers seeking relaxation and recreation amidst breathtaking scenery.

The first round of the Veterans Golf tournament was held at the Kirimaya Golf Resort, Khao Yai with the second one on May 18 at the Royal Thai Golf Club in Bangkok.

It may be mentioned that Khao Yai has cooler temperatures due to its surroundings of the huge National Park. But the golfers were lucky as on both the days at Kiramaya Golf resort and at the Royal Golf resort in Bangkok, the golfers were greeted by cloudy sky and cool winds.

The participants, many of them first time travellers to Thailand and some first time Golfers in Thailand experienced local Thai cuisine, great golf and amazing hospitality.

The Prize distribution was held at an Indian restaurant wherein Maj Gen Sawant (Retd) along with Gen Harinder Singh (Retd) gave away the prizes to the winners.

At the Kirimaya Golf Resort, MP Khanna won the Closest to the Pin and Maj Gen Sawant won the Longest Drive. Mrs Neelam Sawant won the Gross Ladies prize.

Col Daljit Kumar was the winner Nett and Col TPS Greval was winner Gross 70 Years and above category. CMDE Raj Keerti Singh was winner Nett and Brig Gurinderjit Singh was winner Gross in 60 years and above category.

Sandeep Kumar Mahlawar was winner Nett Men; Winner Nett in Guest Player category was Deepak Arora; and Winner Gross Men was Amit Dabas.

At the Royal Thai Golf Club, Bangkok, Dr Anil Rattan Verma won the Closest to the Pin contest and CMDE Raj K Sing won the Longest Drive. Mrs Manjari Joglekar won the Gross Ladies prize.

MP Khanna won Nett and Col AK Singh won Gross in 70 years and above category. Narender Chopra was the Winner Nett and Brig Gurvinder Singh was Winner Gross in 60 years and above category.

It may be mentioned that Khao Yai has few other golf resorts such as Mountain Creek Golf Resort; Rancho Charnvee Golf Resort Country Club; Royal Hills Golf Resort; and Toscana Valley Golf Country Club.

There are several non-golf activities in Khao Yai. One can vist Khao Yai National Park which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site in Thailand and spans over 2,000 square kilometres. It boasts dense forests, cascading waterfalls, and scenic hiking trails. Home to numerous species, including elephants, gibbons, and exotic birds, the park offers opportunities for wildlife observation and nature photography.

On can also embark on a delightful journey through Thailand’s emerging wine scene with winery tours at PB Valley and GrandMonte Vineyard and Winery.

In Khao Yai, one can also experience the charm of rural Thailand with a visit to Chokchai farm and Jim Thompson farm. One can enjoy high tea and rose spa at the Thames valley. And for shoppers there is a premium outlet and Khao Yai.

India’s global travel and tourism index rank up at 39th: WEF index

GENEVA, May 24: India’s rank on the World Economic Forum’s Travel & Tourism Development Index 2024 has risen to 39th place, with global tourism activities returning to pre-pandemic levels, the annual report showed on Tuesday.

While the US topped the list, India is ranked highest in South Asia and among the lower-middle-income economies, the WEF said.

India was ranked 54th in the previously published index in 2021, though changes made to the index parameters limit its comparability to earlier years.

After the US, Spain, Japan, France and Australia figure among the top five in the 2024 list.

The index, prepared in collaboration with the University of Surrey, showed India is highly price-competitive (18th) and boasts competitive Air Transport (26th) and Ground and Port (25th) infrastructure.

In particular, India’s strong Natural (6th), Cultural (9th) and Non-Leisure (9th) Resources help drive travel, and the country is only one of three to score in the top 10 for all the resource pillars, the WEF said.

Moreover, despite a decline compared to 2019, the country still scores well for travel and tourism demand sustainability, especially thanks to more sustainable long stays among inbound visitors.

It further said that as with many economies, travel and tourism enabling conditions in India have been impacted by global inflationary supply-side trends for the sector, with price competitiveness declining, while air transport and tourist services infrastructure are yet to recover to the 2019 level.

As a result, the country’s overall TTDI (Travel and Tourism Development Index) score is 2.1 per cent below its 2019 level.

High-income economies in Europe and Asia-Pacific continued to lead the index.

“International tourist arrivals and the travel and tourism sector’s contribution to global GDP are expected to return to pre-pandemic levels this year, driven by the lifting of COVID-19-related travel restrictions and strong pent-up demand,” the WEF said.

The Middle East had the highest recovery rates in international tourist arrivals (20 per cent above the 2019 level), while Europe, Africa and the Americas all showed a strong recovery of around 90 per cent in 2023.

The biennial index analysed the travel and tourism sectors of 119 countries around a range of factors and policies.

Germany was ranked 6th, followed by the UK, China, Italy and Switzerland in the top ten.

The results highlighted that high-income economies generally continue to have more favourable conditions for travel and tourism development.

This was helped by conducive business environments, dynamic labour markets, open travel policies, strong transport and tourism infrastructure, and well-developed natural, cultural and non-leisure attractions.

Thailand extends visa waiver plan for Indian tourists till Nov 11

NEW DELHI, May 7: Thailand’s cabinet approved a plan to extend visa exemption programs for tourists from India and Taiwan for six more months, as the Southeast Asian nation seeks to boost the number of foreign arrivals to shore up its sluggish economy.

Tourists from India and Taiwan will be able to enter Thailand without a visa until November 11 after an existing waiver ends on Friday, Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin told reporters after a cabinet meeting on Tuesday. Travelers can stay for a maximum of 30 days at a time under the rules.

The temporary extension follows the success of the initial waiver in November last year. Indian and Taiwanese tourists are normally eligible to stay in Thailand for 15 days under a visa-on-arrival scheme.

Tourism-reliant Thailand has been relaxing visa rules for travelers from some of its main markets including China and Russia.

In the first four months of 2024, Thailand has welcomed more than 12 million foreign tourists, representing a 39% increase from the same period last year, according to the Ministry of Tourism and Sports.

Thailand’s largest groups of visitors — those from China, Malaysia, Russia, South Korea and India — accounted for half of the total arrivals this year.

Tourism is one of Thailand’s key industries accounting for about 20% of total jobs and making up about 12% of the nation’s $500 billion economy. Srettha’s administration has set a goal of attracting 80 million tourists by 2027.

'Please Be Part Of Our Tourism': Maldives Urges India Amid Strained Ties

MALE, May 6: With the number of Indian tourists visiting the Maldives dwindling amidst strained bilateral ties, the archipelago nation's tourism minister on Monday urged Indians to contribute to the country's economy which is dependent on tourism.

In an interview, Maldivian Tourism Minister Ibrahim Faisal emphasised on the historical relations between his country and India.

"We have a history. Our newly elected government also wants to work together (with India). We always promote peace and a friendly environment. Our people and the government will give a warm welcome to Indian arrivals. As the Tourism Minister, I want to tell Indians to please be a part of Maldives' tourism. Our economy depends on tourism," he said.

A full-blown backlash was directed at the Maldives following derogatory remarks against India and Prime Minister Narendra Modi on social media by three Maldivian officials after Modi posted photos and video of the pristine Lakshadweep Islands on India's west coast on January 6 on his X handle.

Scores of Indians, including multiple celebrities, cancelled their reservations and dropped plans to visit Maldives. The tourism arrival statistics reflected how from being a top visitor country, India's position went down from topmost to sixth position after January.

According to a report published on Monday, the number of tourist arrivals from India declined by 42 per cent in the first four months of this year compared to the first four months of last year.

At the start of this year, India was the top tourist market for the Maldives. Shortly into the year, India dropped to sixth place amongst the top tourist markets, the news portal reported.

According to Tourism Ministry statistics, Maldives recorded a total of 43,991 tourist arrivals from India as of May 4. Between January and April of last year, Maldives recorded 73,785 tourist arrivals. This year, the number stands at 42,638.

The report attributed the steep decline in Indian tourists to the strained relations between India and the Maldives after the new administration led by President Mohamed Muizzu assumed office in November last year.

The India-Maldives ties have come under stress as President Muizzu, widely seen as a pro-China leader, maintained after assuming charge as the president in November that he will keep his election promise of evicting Indian military personnel from his country.

Soon after coming to power, Muizzu forced the withdrawal of the 88 Indian military personnel manning three aviation platforms gifted by India to the Maldives. He has previously accused India of meddling in the affairs of the Maldives and won the presidential elections in September last year with an "India Out" campaign.

The Maldives is India's key maritime neighbour in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR) and occupies a special place in its initiatives like 'SAGAR' (Security and Growth for All in the Region) and the 'Neighbourhood First Policy' of the Modi government.

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