By JOSEPH G. LARIOSA
(© 2017 Journal GlobaLinks)
CHICAGO (JGL) – If you happen by Taipei’s Songshan or Taoyuan International Airports and you speak Chinese, a diminutive robot will be on hand to provide you some
Named Pepper, the 48-inch (121 cm.) tall and weighing 64 lbs. (29 kg) robot can scan your boarding passes to provide departure details, can provide you weather updates for their destinations and can inform you of duty-free specials and EVA Air promotions.
In fact, Pepper also plays games, shakes hands, dances and poses with passengers.
For English- and Japanese-speaking passengers, they will have to wait by March 2017 as Pepper is being reprogrammed so it can interact with English and Japanese speakers.
SEALED WITH A HANDSHAKE:
EVA Air and the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on Jan. 5, 2017, agreeing to work together to promote tourism and boost numbers of visitors from Taiwan, the United States and Canada.
According to Eva Air handout, EVA is only deploying two robots. One welcomes passengers in front of the international check-in counter at Songshan while the other is a delightful greeter in the reception area between the exclusive Infinity and Star VIP Lounges at Taoyuan. Passengers interact with the accommodating robot by using a touch screen and through its eyes.
Pepper is the result of combined technologies. It has 20 flexible joints and 27 sensors. It is approximately 48 in. (121 cm) tall and weighs 64 lbs. (29 kg). In addition to EVA’s passenger service functions, the robot is also being used by a bank and local government. Japanese tech company Softbank Corp. developed Pepper and Taiwan’s Hon Hai Precision Industry Co. manufactures it.
EVA Air Inks MOU With Thailand
Meanwhile, EVA Air and the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on Jan. 5, 2017, agreeing to work together to promote tourism and boost numbers of visitors from Taiwan, the United States and Canada.
“We are delighted to be working with TAT,” said Golden Kou, EVA Air spokesman. “This MOU marks a significant cooperation between EVA and TAT to promote Thailand as a destination for short-haul travelers from Taiwan and those flying long-haul from North America.”
Wat Yai Chai Mongkhon, the Great Monastery of Auspicious Victory, is a favorite tourist spot in Thailand. It is located off the city island in the southeastern area of Ayutthaya in present Phai Ling Sub-district. In the past it bears other names as Wat Pa Kaeo, Wat Chao Phraya Thai and Wat Yai Chaiya Mongkhon.
EVA and TAT Directors from Asia and North America markets will work together to develop joint marketing programs.
“This MOU helps us target tourists from the Americas, one of our most important and fastest-growing markets,” said Yuthasak Supasorn, TAT Governor. “EVA is a vital link between North America and Asia for us as there are currently no nonstop flights from the United States or Canada to Thailand. By working with EVA on tourism initiatives, we can get the word out about Thailand’s many attractions and increase visitor numbers even more in 2017 and beyond.”
EVA operates 80 nonstop flights a week between North America and Taiwan. It serves Chicago four times a week, Houston once a day, Los Angeles three times a day, New York twice a day, San Francisco 14 times a week, Seattle 10 times a week, Toronto five times a week and Vancouver five times a week.
With just one easy stop in Taiwan’s Taoyuan International Airport, passengers can connect on to Bangkok aboard any of EVA’s 26 weekly flights. EVA recently increased frequency on the Taipei-Bangkok route from 17 flights a week to 26 to meet demand from long-haul passengers. Of the total number of passengers booking EVA’s Taipei-Bangkok flights, approximately 50 percent are from North America and Europe.
EVA Air is offering a round-trip $494 Seattle-Manila round-trip fare for a limited period. Check it out.
Thailand attracted 827,110 tourists from the US in 2015, an increase of 12.61 percent over the previous year. Of that total, 50.44 percent came from the West Coast and 49.56 from the East Coast. Together, they spent an average of US $146.63 per day and stayed 13.38 days in Thailand.
From January through November 2016, 1,236,694 tourists visited Thailand from the Americas, a 13.36 percent rise over 2015. Of these growing numbers of travelers, 859,838 came from the US, up 12.32 percent over the previous year, and 216,768 from Canada, a 7.31 percent climb over the same 2015 period.
TAT plans to open a new office in Canada to serve Canadian tourists traveling to Thailand.