Posts Tagged ‘credit crunch’

Counting the costs of G20

April 1, 2009

What is the carbon footprint of the G20 summit? Of this, a fascinating factor is what the CO2 levels of president Obama’s London visit are: that 747 (Airforce One), his 500-strong retinue, all the preceding support flights bringing battalions of SUVs, helicopters and of course ‘the Beast’ – the 3.5 tonne bomb-proof Cadillac limo.

Surprisingly none of the eco-warriors seem to be publishing calculations on this – anyone know?

Please share this info with us!

And another factor – how much is G20 costing? Figures being tossed around are in the region of £20 million. Ironic that at a time when the business travel and meetings and events sectors are thoroughly debating cutting down and video conferencing options, the big daddy of all meetings is being staged. I guess budgeting considerations are different when the global taxpayer is footing the bill…

Two nights in Bangkok: Weerasak and the wine angels

March 10, 2009

OK, let me explain the title: Weerasak refers to Weerasak Kowsurat, chairman of Tourism Authority of Thailand board of directors. I met him during a recent press trip to Bangkok. We were on the 55th floor of the Centara Grand hotel, where the Red Sky bar and restaurant boast stunning views over the multi-hued neon cityscape. redskybar

Weerasak told me he’s optimistic about visitors to Thailand in 2009, despite the setbacks of global recession and last year’s airport protests. He says he expects 14 million visitors during 2009 – including plenty of Brits.

“We understand British visitors, and we know they value the genuine friendliness and care that is the core of Thai hospitality. And a key factor is the value for money Thailand offers – we know how important this is during these times.”

He also pointed out that the Skytrain extension to the airport would be open on August 12.

This should be a welcome improvement to travelling into the city, as traffic is appalling.

wineangel21The Centara adjoins the Bangkok Convention Centre and on the 22nd floor you can walk straight from hotel to the vast multi-space auditoria which can merge to host a maximum of 6,000 delegates theatre style.

Also impressive is Lifestyle on the 26th floor, with spa, decent sized gym, panoramic pool with bar and gardens, plus two tennis courts.

Which brings us to the wine angels – abseiling up and down the spectacular glass two-story wine cellar at The Red Sky bar and restaurant on Fifty Five, to pluck fine vintages from the upper shelves.

Check out luxury travel news & views at

Global economic crisis forces Zoombak to close its UK business

November 19, 2008

Another sad chapter in the global money meltdown story: Zoombak – which provides lightweight cheap personal GPSs – is closing its UK consumer business. zoombak-pic1

I went to the product launch a month ago at London’s Haymarket hotel.

These things are the size of a match box and you can (or could until now) attach them to your dog’s collar, kid’s bike or you car while you’re away.

We watched as the team live-tracked a fleet of taxis around the south-east on google maps. There were a couple of cute dogs in attendance at the champagne reception – they were mostly interested in the canapés – and we tracked their walkies around Pall Mall. It was good fun and the team talked up a storm.

One chap told me how he had one on his young daughters bicycle, and set up an ‘inclusion’ zone around her school – so he knew when she arrived safely each morning, and when she had set off for home.

The range of potential business and personal usage was vast. Estate agents, hauliers and taxi/fleet firms were among the sectors interested in the product.

You could monitor your car’s security from the other side of the world – especially if your teenage kids are tempted to go for a spin while you’re away. Beloved or valuable dogs were also kept under close satellite surveillance. There were hopes that one day a model would be small enough for cats.

I thought the whole concept had great potential, so it’s sad to hear today that the UK operation is being closed down.

Zoombak‘s European vice-president, Barry Wilson, said: “When your product category is effectively a new market area, major investment is required to create and develop this market.

“At some point there has to be a return on that investment. Given these difficult trading times and low overall consumer confidence, it is almost certain we will not be able to generate a return on the proposed UK investment within an acceptable timescale.

“We’ve therefore had to make the very difficult decision to withdraw from the UK consumer market.”

Current customers will get full purchase refunds. More at