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Chiang Mai Thailand as the Host City for
IFALPA Annual Conference 2011

The Thai Pilots Association  (THAIPA) will host the International Federation of Airline Pilots Association (IFALPA) Annual Conference in 2011 between 8th -12th April 2011 at the Shangri-La Hotel, Chiang Mai. The Thai Pilots Association has the cooperation the Tourism Authority of Thailand  TAT),  Thailand Convention and Exhibition Bureau (TCEB), and Thailand Incentive Convention Association (TICA) to organize the 2011 Annual Conference.

THAIPA was founded more than 20 years ago by Thai Airways International Company pilots as a channel for communication between colleagues in the same profession. As the aviation industry in Thailand grew at a rapid rate, THAIPA grew also and has evolved over the years to become Thailand's professional pilots association. At present, THAIPA has more than 1000 members, consisting of pilots from Thai Airways International, Bangkok Airways, Nok Air, and Thai Air Asia.

THAIPA represents Thailand as one of the 102 countries as a member of the International Federation of Airline Pilots' Associations (IFALPA) with more than 100,000 pilots worldwide. IFALPA's role is to act as the "Global Voice of Airline Pilots" at all major aviation forums with priority concern for safety. Every year, IFALPA holds an Annual Pilots Conference, which member associations to become host on rotation. Two years in advance at every annual conference, host carrier is selected by majority vote.  During the 2008 Annual Conference in Mexico City, Mexico, member associations nominated Chiang Mai, Thailand to host the 2011 Annual Conference.

THAIPA intends to celebrate the King's 84th Birthday in the year 2011 by commemorating His Majesty's work and dedication to the Kingdom.  In addition, the year 2011 marks the 100th anniversary of aviation in the Kingdom of Thailand. In 1911, or exactly 100 years ago, at the time the conference will take place, "Wanda",  the Henri Farman IV plane took to the skies over the Kingdom of Thailand. His Majesty King Rama VI, sent three Thai army officers to France to train as pilots for the new fleet of aircraft.  THAIPA recognizes the importance of hosting the 2011 Annual Conference as a means of generating revenue for Thailand's economy and as creating awarness of being an aviation hub of South East Asia. With more than 600 IFALPA members attending the conference, it is expected that over 60 million Baht will be spent during the conference.

At the 2011 Annual Conference to be held in Chiang Mai, THAI will serve as a communication channel between pilots in technical and safety aspects. THAI will provide 500 discount airfares for conference attendees. Reduced fares and special Royal Orchid Tour offers for family members will promote tourism and generate a positive outlook on Thailand for accompanying family members, and the international media.

Mr. Veerasak Kowsurat, Chairman of TAT, said that TAT supports THAIPA in hosting the 66th IFALPA Annual Conference in 2011. It is an honor and privilege to host such an internationally renowned conference, which will boost Thailand's tourism and generate revenue to the Thai economy. With the international aviation community traveling to Chiang Mai for the conference, Bangkok's aviation hub status will be emphasized, as well as Thailand's ability to host such major international events and conferences. Hosting the conference will not only promote travel to Thailand, but it is also in line with the policy to target MICE group of travelers, which have a high spending power.  In addition, Chiang Mai's popularity as an excellent tourist destination with abundant nature and northern hospitality will be known worldwide.

Ms. Suprabha Moleeratanond, Director of Conventions, Thailand Convention and Exhibition Bureau states that TCEB has cooperated in supporting THAIPA from the early stages of planning for the bidding, and it has continued giving support to both state and private sectors until the conference ends with success. Thailand's readiness to host the 66th Annual Conference was conveyed to the IFALPA member associations in all aspects, including transportation, logistics, conference hotel venue, as well as the Thai people's hosting ability. In conjunction with THAIPA, the planning for bidding process started since last year, which included actual conference site visit in Chiang Mai with IFALPA Executive Board Representative. During the 2009 Annual Conference in Auckland, New Zealand, information booth and hospitality event, implemented to gain the votes of the attendees, proved to be a huge success. Within the next two years until the 2011 Annual Conference, TCEB will continue to support THAIPA in every possible way in order to make the conference a successful one. TCEB's goal is to encourage as many attendees and accompanying persons as possible to travel to Thailand and estimates that no less than 600 persons will attend which equals to approximately 60 million Baht in revenue.

Mr. Sumate Sudasna, Managing Director Thailand Incentive and Convention Association (TICA), states that TICA as a non-profit organization acts as the liaison between state agencies, namely TAT and Thai Airways International Public Company Limited, and private sectors (namely hotels and event/exhibition organizers) with the ultimate goal of establishing Thailand as the number one destination for conference/exhibition on an international scale. At present, TICA is working closely with TCEB in pushing for market share both internationally and domestically. Also, it is playing the role of advisor to various capable organizations and associations who intend to host conferences/exhibitions in Thailand. Since THAIPA's decision to host the 2011 IFALPA Conference, TICA supplied information on the hotels capable of handling the event in Bangkok, Phuket and Chiang Mai. In the past year, TICA accompanied THAIPA and IFALPA Executive Board representative to inspect the hotels and venues proposed in Bangkok and Chiang Mai. In the end, IFALPA chose Shangri-La Hotel in Chiang Mai as official hotel venue for the 66th Annual Conference in the event that Thailand won the vote for 2011.

In two years time during which THAIPA has to organize and prepare all aspects for the Conference, TICA will be a helping hand, assisting on all matters involved including the selection of a company as Professional Convention Organizer and other related services and companies required, with the success of the Annual Conference in mind and also to reach the goal of generating income for Thailand's economy.

Edited by Margaret Bhadungzong. margaret@chiangmai-chiangrai.com

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