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Hotels in Bangkok Thailand closed amid prolonged “red-shirt” rally

Several upscale hotels around Bangkok’s Ratchaprasong intersection, where the red-shirted protesters have been based for more than a month, decided to close from Tuesday until April 25 for safety reasons.

The hotels included Grand Hyatt Erawan, Holiday Inn, Intercontinental and Centara Grand. All guests living in these hotels were asked to check out before noon.

Apart from security concerns, the cost reason was also considered an important factor for the hotel management to make the closure decision since they had to spend big for daily overheads but received fewer and fewer guests.

An earlier report by the Thai Tourism Association said hotel occupancy rate dropped below 30 percent in the country amid prolonged demonstration by the anti-government red-shirts. Hotels near the rally site suffered even bitter loss, with only a few guests staying.

The “red-shirts” started gathering at Ratchaprasong intersection rally site since March 12 and the place, which is home to Bangkok’s posh shopping centers and five-star hotels, has become the only rally site after red-shirted protesters abandoned another base at the Phan Fah Bridge.

Thailand has lost about 21.0-38.0 billion baht (US$ 649.76 million to US$ 1.17 billion) due to the red-shirted mass rallies, the National News Bureau of Thailand reported Monday.

It is projected for the whole 2010, there will be 12-13 million tourists’ arrival, lower than the previous target of 15.5 million.

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Australian travel insurance estimates volcanic related insurance claims over 8 million

Australia’s largest travel insurance provider said on Monday the company expected claims relating to the volcanic ash cloud over Europe to top more than 8 million Australian dollars (About US$ 7.35 million).

Cover-More Travel Insurance Australia chief executive David Ferguson said travelers who purchased their policy before April 16 will be covered.

“With the magnitude of the disruption of flights we expect claims to exceed 8 million Australian dollars and this number will continue to grow as the period of disruption extends,” Ferguson said in a statement.

Cover-More, whose policies are sold through travel agencies such as Flight Centre, Harvey World Travel, STA Travel, Travelscene American Express and Travelers Choice, has been receiving more than 2,500 calls a day from customers anxious to find out whether they are covered.

Ash from eruption of Iceland’s Eyjafjoell volcano last Wednesday has stranded millions of air travelers across the world after European airports were shut down.

An enormous cloud of fine mineral dust particles has now stretched from the Arctic Circle to the French Mediterranean coast, and from Spain into Russia.

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Philippine Department of Tourism Assures ‘Business As Usual’ Despite Maguindanao Incident

The Philippine Department of Tourism (PDOT) has assured that the Philippines remains on a business as usual mode, despite the killing of some 46 individuals in the Southern province of Maguindanao.

Despite the alarm caused by the incident, Tourism Secretary Ace Durano assured stakeholders of the tourism industry that the Philippines remains an ideal destination for tourism activities, business meetings and conferences.

The tourism chief made the assurance following the directive of Pres. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo putting the Maguindanao, Sultan Kudarat and Cotabato City under a state of emergency, aimed at speeding up the investigation and arrest of the individuals involved in the incident.

The directive also places authorities including the Philippine National Police and the Armed Forces of the Philippines on full alert to prevent any untoward incidences in said areas. Continue Reading

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Travel Advisory : Strong earthquake hits Indonesia

Indonesia Earthquake Update : An earthquake with magnitude of 7.6 jolted West Sumatra province at Sumatra island on Wednesday, with no tsunami warning was issued, Meteorology and Geophysics Agency said.

The quake struck at 17:16 Jakarta time (1216 GMT) with epicenter at 57 km southwest of Pariaman and at 71 km. under sea bed, an official of the agency said.

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Guatemala Maintains A H1N1 Influenza under control

The World Health Organization declared the influenza A H1N1 a level 6 pandemic due to its vast geographical expansion. However, this virus is actually being well-controlled in Guatemala.

According to the Department of Health and Human Services in Guatemala, the country only has 458 confirmed cases of H1N1 (0.004% of its 11,237,196 total population).

Despite the number of cases detected in Guatemala, no exacerbated increment has been reported, as there have been in other countries, such as the United States, Canada and Chile. Furthermore, the Department of Health counts on over 30,000 Tamiflu medications to treat those who test positive for the flu.

Aware of the worldwide relevance the virus has gained, the central government of Guatemala, as well as other entities, organizations, and public and private institutions, has implemented certain preventive measures to avoid the spreading of H1N1. Educational programs and any information dispersed through mass media are also available to the public. Continue Reading

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Indonesian culture, tourism department sets up crisis center after hotel bombings

The Indonesian culture and tourism department in cooperation with other government organizations has set up a crisis center dealing with the JW Marriott and Ritz Carlton bomb explosions in the Mega Kuningan area, South Jakarta, Friday morning.

“We formed the crisis center quickly today at 10.00 a.m. local time to respond to the bombing case,” Antara news agency quoted the secretary of the department’s marketing directorate general, Noviendi Makalam, as saying.

He said his department in cooperation with the Jakarta city administration and the Communication and Information Department had formed the crisis center to supply information and data relating to bombing incidents.

Ritz Carlton bomb explosions JakartaThe center, he added, hoped to be able to supply information and data and also to show the government’s attitude and quick response to the case for those who need such information.

The base of the center is located at the Sahid Jaya Hotel on Jalan Sudirman in central Jakarta.

The explosion threatens seriously the tourism sector of Indonesia that now is growing positively.

Until the first quarter of 2009, Indonesia had been the destination of at least 1.893 million international tourists meaning growing at a level of 1.53 percent compared the same period last year. Continue Reading

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Swine Flu Influenza A H1N1 spread to affect tourism, says top economist

The spread of Swine Flu which is also known as influenza type A (H1N1) will definitely affect tourism this year if the government fails to contain the pandemic in an appropriate manner, according to a leading economist.

Anusorn Tamajai, dean of the Rangsit University’s economics faculty, admitted the spread of the new virus strain was worrying people around the country because they are confused by what the government has attempted to contain the disease.

He said the government seemed unable to control the spread of the influenza, causing some people and tourists to panic.

Because of this, the government must consider ways to improve information to the public to keep people informed of what is really happening and how to manage the spread of the influenza.

“Now, the government is busy reporting the number of patients and the pandemic. It fails to tell about preventive measures,” he said, warning that “the spread of the virus strain, if allowed to go unabated, will definitely impact tourism this year.”

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Sipadan Island in Malaysia set to become one of the world’s New Seven Wonders Of Nature

Sipadan island, one of the best diving spots in the world, is set to qualify for the final round of the New Seven Wonders of Nature search.

State Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Masidi Manjun said that based on the unofficial result of the search, which ended yesterday, Sipadan was said to be in fourth place under the island category.

“I hope we get through and qualify for the next round,” he told reporters after launching orientation week for new students of the Kota Kinabalu Polytechnic near here Wednesday.

siapadan-malaysia-dive-siteMasidi said the ministry, through the Sabah Tourism Board (STB), had embarked on an all-out “Vote for Sipadan” campaign to promote the island as one of the world’s New Seven Wonders of Nature since December last year.

It went through the first stage — the National Qualification — on Dec. 31 last year. The second stage of the search via an Internet online voting system was conducted from January to July 7 this year. Sipadan must be in the top 11 to go to the next round.

Sipadan is one of the 261 national and multinational nominees from 222 countries which participated in the search.

Sipadan is the only oceanic island in Malaysia, rising 600m from the seabed, and is located in the Celebes Sea east of the major town of Tawau and off the coast of East Malaysia on the Island of Borneo.

It is located at the heart of the Indo-Pacific basin, the centre of one of the richest marine habitats in the world and more than 3,000 species of fish and hundreds of coral species have been classified in this ecosystem.

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Air Travel is still the safest way to travel

In spite of several plane crash recorded recently, Air Travel is still considered as the safest way to travel according to recent study. No mater how security and prior checking was done before each flight, accidents may still occur. According to Aviation news, the annual number of deaths in plane accidents has decreased over the past ten years.

Huge cases of fatal plane crash has been recorded which makes people more afraid of travelling in planes, but according to records, planes still remain the safest means of travelling.

In the Philippines, two accidents was recorded in Caticlan airport in just 6 months. Although the Zest Airaccidents are not fatal, Some Filipinos already has fear of flying with smaller air crafts.

safe-air-travel-budget-airlineWith several discount airfare and online promotions in the Philippines, Air Travel in the Philippines is growing in terms of flight frequency. If you compare plane, train or automobile as a mode of transport – then air travel without a doubt is definitely the fastest and still the safest way to travel.

Over the decades, air travel safetyhas considerably increased and it is now more than 5 times better than what it used to be about 20 years ago. Air transportation improvements in safety can be credited to the advancement of technology, tough competition, strict quality control and external quality audits.

According to the Aviation Authorities, planes are the safest way to travel also because they have the least number of fatalities on per kilometre basis.

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Number of tourists in Thailand dropped in first quarter of 2009

The political instability and street demonstrations early this year have adversely affected Thailand’s lucrative tourism industry as visitor arrivals in the first four months totalled 4.7 million, down 14.7 percent compared to the same period last year.

The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) said that while most markets showed varying rates of decline, arrivals from the Middle East grew by almost 11.5 percent and arrivals from South Asia were up 3.6 percent.

In 2008, Thailand welcomed about 14.59 million international visitors, a growth of only 0.88 per cent, and for 2009, it has scaled down its target to 13.3 million and 14 million in 2010.

thailand-tourist-arrivalsIn a statement today, TAT said as part of efforts to expedite the revival of the Thai travel and tourism industry, the Thai government had agreed to extend the exemption of the fee for tourist visa applications until March 4, 2010.

Thailand presently gives a visa on arrival for citizens of 20 countries for a stay not exceeding 15 days, while citizens of another 42 countries are allowed visa-free stay of not more than 30 days.

TAT chairman Weerasak Kowsurat said as a result of the global economic downturn, the worldwide travel and tourism sector had declined as people became more cautious about spending on leisure and business travel. Continue Reading

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Cyprus suffers sharp decrease in tourism revenue and tourist arrivals

Cyprus’ revenue from tourism for January-April this year has declined by 7.5 percent, Cypriot President Demetris Christofias revealed on Wednesday.

Facing a decrease of foreign tourist arrivals by 8.9 percent, the president called for joint action to contain the fallout of the world economic downturn on the island’s tourism industry.

“Now is the time to work together to cut the losses of the crisis provided that we learn from the omissions of the past and move together towards the right direction,” Christofias told a meeting of travel agents.

He assured that the government in cooperation with all stakeholders will continue efforts to support tourism and will not hesitate to take swift and well-thought decisions for the benefit of its tourism industry.

The government has already announced a 52-million-euro (about 71.97 million U.S. dollars) plan to boost tourism, along with a new holiday voucher scheme targeting local holiday-makers. Continue Reading

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Mexico launches tourism campaign in United States and Canada

Mexico’s Tourism Ministry on Wednesday launched a campaign to encourage North American tourists to the country following a slump in tourist arrivals due to the A/H1N1 flu outbreak.

During the first two weeks of the campaign, the slogan “Believe It” will be used in 12 U.S. cities and six Canadian ones to convince tourists scared off by the flu that the emergency is now over.

From week three to week seven, the campaign will feature the slogan “Welcome Back!” and in the final weeks it will use the slogan “Mexico, it’s time to go!”

The A/H1N1 flu has killed 113 people in Mexico and is now spreading at a much slower rate than when it was first detected in April.

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