Thai Airways International Public Company Limited recently led a group of board members, airline executives, invited guests and media representatives to Jinghong as part of the inaugural celebrations for the new route between Chiang Mai and Jinghong, Xishuangbanna region, Yunnan province, P.R China. The new route is expected to meet the growing demand due to the expanding trade and tourism opportunities in the Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS) and northern Thailand. The route was launched as part of the new summer schedule starting 31 March 2004.
According to Mr Kanok Abhiradee, THAI’s President, the new route supports the government’s policy to make Chiang Mai the hub of air transport in the northern region. THAI believes that Chiang Mai has potential in terms of economy, trade, investment, medical and educational facilities as well as tourism, while Jinghong, which is located in the south of Yunnan province, P.R. China, is considered the gateway linking southern China to Southeast Asia. Furthermore, it is a member of the Greater Mekong Subregion which comprises Laos, Myanmar, Cambodia, Vietnam, Thailand and China. Jinghong is therefore an important city for the economy, tourism and transport for the Subregion. Jinghong is the centre for research and development of plants and animals of Yunnan province, with tropical plants from all over the world, as well as a variety of tourist attractions and scenery.
China’s recent “Go West” policy to develop the country’s western region including Yunnan province (which connects with northern Thailand), is in line with Thailand’s policy to develop Chiang Mai as the northern hub. Jinghong is therefore the natural link with obvious potential as a tourism centre. In the past, approximately 60,000 visitors from Yunnan visited Thailand each year, while 50,000 Thais traveled to Yunnan. The attractions there include the culture, way of life, handicrafts, art and festivals. There is a sense of common heritage, with local ethnic groups having similar cultures to Thailand’s northern region. Xishuangbanna also observes the beginning and end of the Buddhist Rains Retreat as well as Songkran.
In order to meet the growing demand for travel as a result of expanding trade and tourism in southern China and northern Thailand, THAI has introduced the new Chiang Mai-Jinghong route, utilising ATR 72 aircraft, with twice weekly flights on Wednesday and Friday. Flight TG 660 departs Chiang Mai at 10:40 hrs and arrives in Jinghong at 13:10 hrs. Return flight TG 661 departs Jinghong at 13:50 hrs and arrives Chiang Mai at 14:20 hrs, starting from 31 March 2004. The route is expected to benefit people living in the Greater Mekong Subregion through opportunities for greater income.
Apart from the Chiang Mai-Jinghong route, THAI also operates flights from Chiang Mai to nearby cities including Rangoon and Mandalay in Myanmar, Luang Prabang in Laos, Chittagong in Bangladesh, Chennai in India, Hanoi in Vietnam and Chengdu in China. Other routes that link Chiang Mai include Tokyo-Chiang Mai-Bangkok, Taipei-Hong Kong-Chiang Mai-Bangkok, and Chiang Mai-Bangkok-Singapore. The new summer schedule will also see the introduction of new routes between Bangkok-Bangalore and Bangkok-Milan.