Monday, July 2, 2007

22 New Sites inscribed on UNESCO’s World Heritage List

Twenty-two new sites inscribed on UNESCO’s World Heritage List
The World Heritage Committee inscribed 22 new sites on UNESCO’s World Heritage List during its ongoing session in Christchurch. The new inscriptions include 16 cultural properties, five natural and one mixed, cultural and natural.
In a decision unprecedented in the history of UNESCO’s Convention concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage, the Committee deleted one property, the Arabian Oryx Sanctuary, from the List because of Oman’s failure to preserve the outstanding universal value of the Sanctuary.
After the additions made this year, UNESCO’s World Heritage List numbers 851 properties including 660 cultural, 166 natural and 25 mixed properties. New properties inscribed on the World Heritage List by geographical distribution:
The Rainforests of the Atsinanana (Madagascar) comprising six national parks distributed along the eastern part of the island was inscribed as a natural property.
Ecosystem and Relict Cultural Landscape of Lopé-Okanda (Gabon) was inscribed as a mixed site, both cultural and natural. It is the country’s first World Heritage site.
Richtersveld Cultural and Botanical Landscape (South Africa) of dramatic mountainous deserts in the northwest of the country was inscribed as a cultural landscape communally owned and managed by the semi-nomadic Nana people.
Twyfelfontein or /Ui-//aes (Namibia) was inscribed as a cultural site for its large concentration of rock carvings.
Arab Region:
Samarra Archaeological City (Iraq) was inscribed as a cultural site for its rich Abbassid remains. It was also inscribed on the List of World Heritage in Danger.
Asia and Pacific Region:
Sydney Opera House (Australia) was listed as a cultural property, a great architectural work that brings together multiple strands of creativity and innovation both in architectural form and structural design.
Gobustan Rock Art Cultural Landscape (Azerbaijan) was inscribed as an outstanding collection of some 6,000 rock engravings bearing testimony to 4,000 years of rock art.
South China Karst (China) was inscribed as a natural property, unrivalled in terms of the diversity of its karst features and landscapes.
Kaiping Diaolou and Villages (China) features multi-storied defensive village houses, which display a complex and flamboyant fusion of Chinese and Western structural and decorative forms, and was inscribed as a cultural property.
Red Fort Complex (India) was listed as a cultural property representing the zenith of Mughal creativity and refinement.
Iwami Ginzan Silver Mine (Japan) was inscribed as a cultural landscape for its archaeological remains of mines, smelting and refining sites, along with mining settlements and transportation routes dating from the 16th to the 20th centuries.
Jeju Volcanic Islands and Lava Tubes (Republic of Korea) was inscribed as a natural property of outstanding beauty which bears testimony to the history of our planet.
Parthian Fortresses of Nisa (Turkmenistan), one of the earliest and most important cities of the Parthian Empire, a major power from the mid-3rd century BC to the 3rd century AD, was listed as a cultural landscape.
Europe and North America:
Rideau Canal (Canada), a cultural property, was listed as the best preserved canal in North America from the great canal-building era of the early 19th century to remain operational along its original line with most of its original structures intact.
Bordeaux, Port of the Moon (France) is inscribed as an outstanding urban and architectural ensemble of the Age of Enlightenment featuring innovative classical and neo-classical trends that translate into exceptional urban and architectural unity and coherence.
Old Town of Corfu (Greece), on the Island of Corfu, with its three Venetian forts and neo-classical housing was inscribed as a fortified Mediterranean port town of high integrity and authenticity.
Gamzigrad-Romuliana, Palace of Galerius (Serbia). The late Roman fortified palace compound and memorial complex was inscribed as a unique testimony of the Roman building tradition of the period of the Second Tetrarchy.
Mehmed Paša Sokolović Bridge of Višegrad (Bosnia and Herzegovina) was listed as a cultural site fo characterizing the apogee of Ottoman monumental architecture and civil engineering.
Teide National Park (Spain) was listed as a natural site for its beauty and its importance in providing evidence of the geological processes that underpin the evolution of oceanic islands.
Lavaux Vineyard Terraces (Switzerland) was inscribed as a cultural landscape that is an outstanding example of centuries-long interaction between people and their environment developed to optimize local resources so as to produce a highly valued win.
Primeval Beech Forest of the Carpathian (Ukraine and Slovakia), was inscribed as a transnational serial natural property of ten separate components and as an outstanding example of undisturbed, complex temperate forests exhibiting the most complete ecological patterns and processes of pure strands of European beech.
Latin America and the Caribbean:
Central University City Campus of the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM), built from 1949 to 1952, was inscribed as a unique example of 20th-century modernism integrating urbanism, architecture, engineering, landscape design and fine arts and is one of the most significant icons of modernity in Latin America.
The Committee also removed four sites from the List of World Heritage in Danger, recognizing improvements in their conservation: Everglades National Park (USA), Río Plátano Biosphere Reserve (Honduras), Royal Palaces of Abomey (Benin) and Kathmandu Valley (Nepal).
Three World Heritage sites were inscribed on the Danger List because of concern about threats to their preservation: Galapagos (Ecuador), Niokolo-Koba National Park (Senegal) and Samarra (Iraq).
During its 31st session the Committee also decided to extend the boundaries of Switzerland’s Jungfrau-Aletsch-Bietschhorn (inscribed in 2001).

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Vietnam Tourism to Emerge as Tourists Hot Spot by 2016

Vietnam tourism industry is expected to grow at a CARG of 14% during the next five years’ period (i.e. from 2007 to 2011). And, the country is expected to become one of the top ten tourist destinations by the year 2016.

In its recently published market research report on “Opportunities in Vietnam Tourism Industry (2007-2009)", RNCOS has found that the tourist influx in Vietnam would grow at a CAGR value of approximately 14% over the next five years (2007-2011).
Vietnam is one of the best performing economies in Asian region. The country welcomed around 3.6 million international tourists last year (2006), representing a 2.1 million increase from 2000. And, receipts from incoming tourists reached almost US$2.4 Billion (around 3.9% of overall GDP), US$1.2 Billion up against 2000.
By 2016, Vietnam is expected to emerge as one of the top ten tourist destinations in the world. As a result of the tourism industry’s expansion, there will be more job opportunities, and increased incomes & consumer spending. This will also drive the economic growth in the country. Aviation, transportation, hospitality and other industries closely associated with the tourism industry will also benefit from this surge in tourism.
As per the RNCOS report “Opportunities in Vietnam Tourism Industry (2007-2009)", “Tourism is amongst the most rapidly growing industrial sectors in most countries of the world. And, in Asian countries, Vietnam in amongst the destinations enjoying maximum growth rates in tourist arrivals.
In recent years, the country has welcomed visitors from different countries. The list includes long haul visitors from countries such as US, China, Australia, and France, and regional travelers from adjoining countries within ASEAN (Association of South-East-Asian Nations) and high spending visitors from North East Asia.”Key issues and facts analyzed in this report include: performance of Global tourism, Asia-Pacific tourism and ASEAN tourism industry, position of Vietnam tourism industry with respect to the ASEAN tourism industry, outbound tourism, domestic tourism, and expenditure by inbound tourist, etc.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Lao Airlines is to implement e-ticketing

Lao Airlines is to implement e-ticketing and has signed up to Amadeus' e-Retail system, an e-Commerce global booking solution.

Scheduled to take place in stages, the first phase of the e-ticketing implementation will enable Lao Airlines to issue e-tickets to selected travel agents in Thailand. Subsequently, the access will be widened to include all agents in Laos, and all markets in Asia Pacific including their major markets in other regions. The move sees Lao Airlines conforming to the International Air Transport Association’s (IATA) January 2008 deadline for 100% paperless ticketing for airlines, which is anticipated to save the industry up to US$3 billion per annum when in full effect.

A separate agreement has also been signed by Lao Airlines to adopt the Amadeus e-Travel Airline Suite solution, which will allow travelers to make their reservations online from the convenience of home or an internet café. Available in 23 languages, the solution currently powers more than 120 websites and over 70 airlines in at least 75 markets around the world.

Mr. Saleum Tayarath, Deputy Commercial Director, Lao Airlines, “With the promise of substantial savings, the move to paperless ticketing became a clear route for Lao Airlines. Naturally, the challenge was to locate a dependable partner who could ensure a smooth and seamless transition from paper tickets to electronic ones.”

“At the same time, there was also a need for an online platform to help broaden the access of our tickets to travelers, so as to better align ourselves with the big industry players. Being the market leader for both the e-ticketing and e-commerce sectors, Amadeus became our obvious choice as technology partner,” Mr. Tayarath added.

Lao Airlines currently flies to major Asian cities including Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Hanoi, Kunming, Luang Prabang, Pakse, Phnom Penh, Siem Reap and Vientiane.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Amazing TTM + and Thailand Tourism Festival 2007

Amazing TTM + and Thailand Tourism Festival 2007

Thailand Travel Mart Plus Amazing Gateway to the Mekong Region (TTM+) expanded this year into the Thailand Tourism Festival 2007 and was popular with the public and consumers alike during June 7-10.

As usual, the venue was at Muang Thong Thani, IMPACT Arena, Challenger 3, hosted by the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) and supported by Thailand Conventions and Exhibition Bureau (TCEB) as well as Thai Airways International (THAI). The official hotels were Sofitel Central Plaza and Rama Gardens near the re-activated Don Muang Domestic Airport in Bangkok.

On the evening before the event started, TAT organised a welcome reception for invited buyers and media at Dragon Passage on the 4th Floor of Siam Paragon. TAT Governor Ms Phonsiri Manoharn highlighted the Amazing Thailand campaign and noted that the event will provide the best opportunities to smaller and medium sized enterprises (SME) in the travel business to present their quality tourism products to meet the world wide market demand. Later on, the distinguished guests were invited to visit the very impressive Siam Ocean World at Siam Paragon.

During the official TTM+ media briefing by TAT on June 7 it was revealed that there were 325 seller organisations and 508 registered buyers from around the world. For the first time, TTM+ was combined with the newly initiated Thailand Tourism Festival to make it the largest event ever held in the Thai travel and tourism industry. Also, the ongoing celebrations mark the auspicious occasion of His Majesty the King’s 80th Birthday, which falls on 5 December 2007. For the year 2007, the target is to welcome 14.8 million tourists to the Kingdom of Thailand.
Furthermore, strengthening co-operation with the neighbouring countries of the Greater Mekong Sub-region (GMS) stays important as an integral part of future marketing plans. Participate National Tourism Organisations (NTO) came from Yunnan/China, Cambodia, Laos, and Myanmar. Vietnam was not present, mainly because they will have their own International Travel Exhibition (ITE) at Ho Chi Minh City on October 5-7. Next to the 18 TAT offices world wide, new offices will be in Dubai, Moscow and Ho Chi Minh City. For 2008, there will be the promotion of Beijing and Bangkok ties with active links by THAI and Air China. Bangkok will be in the spotlight again during the ASEAN Tourism Forum (ATF) in January, PATA Annual Summit in April and TTM+ on June 5-8, 2008.

In the context of the mid-September opening of the new Novotel King Power Bangkok, which will provide 387 fully I.T. equipped rooms and suites in the heart of city, there was a small wine party organised by some executives of ACCOR. Shortly after, on the evening of June 7 at Challenger 1-2, Thai Tourism Minister Dr. Suvit Yodmanee ceremonially opened the Thailand Tourism Festival 2007, promoting the traditions and cultures of the four main regions of the Kingdom.

On June 8, there was another media briefing by Laos, focusing on the upcoming Lao Eco-tourism Forum “Bridging the Mekong Region” at the Don Chan Palace Hotel in Vientiane on July 26-29, 2007. Mr. Saly Phimphinith, Acting Director-General, Tourism Marketing and Promotion Department, Lao National Tourism Administration (LNTA), introduced the world heritage sites of Luang Prabang and Wat Phu Champasak, while Mr. Kettasone Sundara, Director for Tourism Marketing Division, detailed the program for the event. There will be a Mekong Night Gala Dinner, Lao Food Festival, Mekong Fun Run, and Music and Dance Show.
The following companies (in alphabetical order) offered outstanding tourism products during TTM+, which are all highly recommended:

Air Bagan, Myanmar.
Angkor Century Resort & Spa, Siem Reap.
Angkor Village Hotel - Resort & Spa, Siem Reap.
Asara Villa & Suite, Hua Hin.
Baan Amphawa Resort & Spa, Samut Songkhram.
Bangkok Airways.
Banyan Tree, Bangkok.
Bundarika, Phuket.
City Royal Hotel, Siem Reap.
Don Chan Palace, Vientiane.
Dusit Hotels and Resorts, Bangkok & Hua Hin.
Hotel Nikko Royal Lake Yangon.
Kandawgyi Palace, Bangkok.
Karon Sea Sands Resort & Spa, Phuket.
Klang Dong Mountain View.
Koh Talu Island Resort, Petchburi.
Kunming China International Travel Service, Kunming.
Lao Airlines, Vientiane.
Ministry of Tourism, Cambodia.
Nai Lert Park Bangkok.
New Star Beach Resort, Koh Samui.
Phanganburi Resort & Spa, Bangkok.
Phnom Penh Hotel, Phnom Penh.
Racha Kiri Resort & Spa, Kha Nom.
Rama Gardens Hotel, Bangkok.
River Kwai Hotel, Kanchanaburi.
Royal Angkor Resort, Siem Reap.
Sofitel Riverside Chiang Mai, Chiang Mai.
Springfield Village Golf, Resort & Spa, Hua Hin.
Thai Airways.
The Blue Marine Resort & Spa, Phuket.
The Chedi, Chiang Mai & Phuket.
The Legend Chiang Rai, Chiang Rai.
The Mangosteen Resort & Spa, Phuket.
Tourism Authority of Thailand.
Tria Integrative Wellness,
Trisara, Phuket.
Veranda Resort & Spa, Petchburi.
Vogue Resort & Spa, Krabi.
Wianginn Hotel, Chiang Rai.
Woraburi Phuket Resort & Spa, Phuket.

Another highlight of TTM+ was the complimentary post-mart tour to Hua Hin, which was successfully organised by TAT Central Region Office 2, on June 9-10. Some 34 international buyers and media representatives were taken by bus from Bangkok to Samut Songkhram to visit the Dao Dong Ago-tourism Centre and King Rama II Memorial Park. Lunch was offered at Baan Amphawa Resort & Spa, which is idyllically nestled along the Mae Klong River.

Passing the town of Petchaburi, which celebrates its Visit Petchaburi Year 2007, there was a hotel inspection at the progressive Asara Villa & Suite in Hua Hin, where Executive Assistant Manager Richard James Hoek welcomed the group. Just before sunset, we reached the Springfield Village Golf & Spa in a superb mountainous surrounding to have a buffet dinner and overnight. Later on, there was the good opportunity to enjoy the last night of the Hua Hin Jazz Festival on the beach, mainly sponsored by Heineken Beer and where more than 60,000 visitors listened to the music.

After a late breakfast next morning, the group left the golf resort designed by Jack Nicklaus for sightseeing and visited the elegant and windy seaside Mrigadayavan Summer Palace of King Rama VI built in 1923-24 by a Swiss architect. Shopping was possible at the Rashnee Thai Silk Village & Handicraft Centre in Hua Hin. Later on, lunch was taken at the romantic Supatra-by-the-Sea Restaurant. Before leaving Hua Hin back to Bangkok, the group inspected the Let’s Sea Hua Hin Al Fresco Resort, where you can swim right into your room. Amazing Thailand, I guess!
Last not least, there are preparations to see some other regional travel marts coming, such as the Philippines Travel Mart at Cebu in September, the Indonesian one along with PATA Travel Mart in Bali, Indochina Travel Expo in Ho Chi Minh, and last not least, the Cambodian Travel Mart (AITEX) re-scheduled at Siem Reap on October 1-3.

About Thailand Tourism Festival 2007

The Thailand Tourism Festival 2007 (TTF 2007), the annual travel and tourism showcase event targetting Thai and expatriate residents, held on 7-10 June, 2007, at the Challenger Hall 1-2, Impact Muang Thong Thani Exhibition Centre.

The event held in conjunction with the Thailand Travel Mart Plus 2007 for international trade visitors and consumers and will help to further boost the publicity and promotional value of Thai tourism products and services.

This year, the Festival included many activities to promote the preservation of Thai culture, traditions and local lifestyles through four region villages. Special traditional parades from each of the four regions held, along with stage performances to demonstrate local folklore, plays, Thai puppet performances, Khon dance, etc.

Over 300 exhibitors including tour operators, travel agents, diving schools and equipment, spas, hotels and accommodation, airlines, golf courses, car rental, souvenirs, local handicrafts, local foods, and entertainment suppliers are participated.

Other special activities at this year’s fair included an exhibition held in honour of His Majesty the King on the auspicious occasion of his 80th birthday anniversary, an exhibition of TAT history, Tourism Award exhibition, and tourism destination in the four regions of Thailand.

TAT Governor, Mrs. Phornsiri Manoharn said, “This event is designed to help Thais and expatriate residents discover Amazing Thailand’s destinations as well as the wide range of tourism products and activities nationwide.” The Thailand tourism industry is doing well.

In 2006, International visitor arrivals to Thailand totaled 13.8 million, an increase of 20.01% over the same period of 2005. In January-April 2007, international visitor arrivals at Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi International Airport totaled 3,413,197 an increase of 2.61% over the same period of 2006. This figure excludes direct arrivals by air into other points of entry like Phuket and Chiang Mai.

The TAT has set its 2007 targets at 15 million international visitors and 82 million domestic trips, respectively generating estimated revenues of 547.5 billion baht and 377 billion baht.

Overall, TTM Plus with TTF is a Great Beginning…

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Thailand will Attract One Million Chines Tourists

From June 07 to September 07 this year, the Thailand National Tourism Bureau will launch Green Travel packages targeting Chinese tourists, and it will specifically launch special trips for Chinese senior citizens. Bali Island and Phuket will also arrange various activities for family tourists from China.

Nongnart Wattanachart, a director from the Thailand National Tourism Bureau, expressed during his recent visit to Shanghai that Thailand would attract one million Chinese tourists to visit Thailand this year and it would expect to receive three million Chinese tourists by 2010.
Xiao Qianhui, general manager of Shanghai Spring-Autumn Travel Service Company, told local media that Chinese citizens spend an average of six days in Thailand during each visit and they spend 6000 Baht each time, excluding the expenditure on transportation and accommodation. Xiao said that in order to better expand Thailand's Phuket market, Shanghai Spring-Autumn Travel Service has opened a branch in Phuket.
At present, airline companies such as Shanghai Airlines, Thai Airways, Singapore Airlines and Dragonair all have launched flights to Phuket Island. China Eastern will resume a Shanghai-Phuket line from July 16 and China Southern will launch a Guangzhou-Phuket line from July.

Vietnam Attracts Indian Tourists In A Big Way

Vietnam, ranked among the top 10 countries expected to see the strongest tourism growth in the next decade, is keen to get more and more Indian visitors, who now number just a trickle.

'We now want to pitch ourselves hard in India especially as it represents one-sixth of the population. It is obviously a huge tourist market for us,' says Do Minh Tuan, deputy director of the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism (VNAT).

'We have a master plan on tourism in place. So, obviously we need to run more promotion campaigns to boost our image in the international market,' said Tuan.

One major reason for the Indian modest arrivals, officials say, has been the absence of direct flights between the two countries. Last year, just over 5,500 Indians visited Vietnam, which is famous for its ancient architecture, stunning landscapes, pristine beaches and historic relics.

Vietnam Airlines and Indian Airlines have announced sharply reduced round-trip tickets on the New Delhi-Bangkok-Hanoi route to lure more Indian tourists.

'I would imagine that if direct flights were started, there is bound to be increased volumes of tourists. Also, more tourism campaigns are in order as many Indians still believe that Vietnam is a war-ravaged country, which is not the case,' exclaims India's consul general Jitendra Nath Misra.

Last year, Vietnam had nearly 3.6 million foreign tourist arrivals. It expects to get four million tourists this year. Topping the list were tourists from China followed by South Korea, the US, Japan and Taiwan.

As Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dzung sets off next week on his maiden visit to India, promoting tourism will be on top of his agenda, especially with India's rising profile.
'We have great potential to develop tourism. This is one area which both countries need to bolster,' said Dzung.

Vietnam hopes to get at least 5.5-6 million foreign visitors and 25-26 million domestic ones by 2010, to take its total tourism revenues to $4-4.5 billion.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Cambodia, Myanmar Agree On Tourist Air Links

Cambodia and Myanmar have agreed to direct flights between the two countries, home to some of Southeast Asia's greatest cultural treasures, Cambodian Foreign Minister Hor Namhong said on Wednesday.

"There will be direct flights from Bagan and Mandalay, which are Myanmar's main tourist destinations, to Siem Reap," he told reporters, referring to the tourist town near Cambodia's famed Angkor temples.
"We have the same culture, same civilizations as we're Buddhists," he said. "We need to have direct flights so that we can attract more international tourists to visit our two countries."
Hor Namhong, who accompanied Prime Minister Hun Sen on a two-day official visit to Myanmar, said other direct flights were planned between the Southeast Asian countries.
The 800-year-old Angkor Wat temple complex is largely responsible for an explosion of tourists to the war-scarred nation, which attracted 1.7 million visitors last year.
Cultural aficionados say the similar-aged Buddhist temples in Bagan in central Myanmar are a close rival to Angkor, but a chronic lack of infrastructure in the former Burma power cuts are a daily problem and foreign credit cards are rarely accepted means they attract only a fraction of the number of visitors.

Airlines in Thailand have tried to promote a similar "cultural package" in the region, with flights linking Angkor to the ancient Thai and Lao capitals, Sukhothai and Luang Prabang, and Hoi An in central Vietnam.