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Cruising News - Destinations Asia / Pacific.

New York (CruiseGuide - Destination News Asia / Pacific) 1/15/2012

Desroches Island, Seychelles Uber luxurious experience on stunning private island in Seychelles. Desroches, a stunning private island in the Seychelles and the uber luxurious Madikwe Hills Private Game Lodge in South Africa, together, have created the ultimate Bush & Beach Experience for 2012. Perfect for families, couples, and honeymooners alike, this unique offering from Seasons In Africa enables guests to encounter the thrill of seeking the Big Five (Lion, Buffalo, Elephant, Rhino, and Leopard) up close in their glorious natural habitat before relaxing and rejuvenating on the pristine, pure white sandy beaches and swimming in the crystal clear, turquoise waters of the Indian Ocean at Desroches Island. Madikwe Hills Private Game Reserve, nestled in the heart of the Madikwe Game Reserve in the North West Province of South Africa, offers its guests an exhilarating and memorable safari encounter. Madikwe Hills embraces its natural environment and this is reflected in the sympathetically-designed dcor of the ten ultra-luxurious suites, capturing the essence of Africa and embracing the native surroundings. Each of the ten suites offers absolute privacy and has been designed for complete relaxation and comfort. Complete with sun-deck and private plunge pool with breath-taking views of the majestical landscape. Following the invigorating and spine tingling safari encounters at Madikwe Hills comes the calming and soothing environment that is Desroches Island. With 14 kilometers of powder soft beaches fringed by the warm, translucent waters of the Indian Ocean and palm trees that sway gently in the breeze, Desroches can only be described as paradise. A haven of peace and tranquillity guests are invited to explore the island at their leisure either by bike or by kayak and enjoy the slow, comforting pace of the island. The spectacular Bush & Beach Experience is valid from January 1, 2012 through to December 31, 2012 and comprises of 4 nights at Madikwe Hills Private Game Reserve, 5 nights at Desroches Island, and one night at the Hilton Seychelles Northolme Resort & Spa. Federal Airfare return flights are included from Johannesburg to Madikwe and return flights from Mahe to Desroches Island. 1/10/2012

DialAFlight Take a Walk on the Wild Side This Winter, Say DialAFlight. With many of us here in the UK bracing ourselves for more cold weather in the New Year, in New Zealand the sun could not be shining brighter. Summer down-under is in full swing; with January and February notoriously the warmest months of the year, many Brits are now making New Zealand their prime holiday location. DialAFlight, one of the UK's leading travel operators, are at the forefront for customers bookingflights to New Zealand and report a substantial rise in the number of Brits heading down-under to walk the country's numerous treks. New Zealand's superb mountainous terrains not only provide the perfect settings for guided tours and boat trips (for example, Milford sounds) but they also contain some of the world's most popular walking trails- often guiding tourists through spectacular landscapes and rock formations. Based on their customers' feedback, DialAFlight are delighted to unveil their three top New Zealand hiking treks: -- The Routeburn Track (South Island): World-renowned, this 20 mile hiking track is found in New Zealand's South Island and takes tourists through some of New Zealand's most unique landscapes, including past the magnificent Lake Wakatipu. Huts along the path allow tourists to camp overnight. -- The Milford Track (South Island): Winding through the stunning Fiordland National Park, tourists often regard this 33-mile trek as 'The Finest Walk in the World'. Walkers can follow the track independently, or as part of a guided tour. Be warned though: camping is prohibited and walkers must finish the trail in four days. A maximum of 90 walkers may start the walk per day, so the waiting list can be long- especially in the peak summer periods, so DialAFlight advise tourists to book early. -- The Abel Tasman Coastal Track (South Island): This 32-mile long walk within the gloriously beautiful Abel Tasman National Park is often a popular alternative to the busy Milford Track. Most of the 32- mile coastal course is sheltered, providing the perfect cover from the sultry summer sun, and takes roughly 3-5 days to complete. Single day walks are also available- dropping tourists along certain points along the trail by water taxi- cool! DialAFlight would like to remind customers that there will be more flights to New Zealand made available throughout 2012. 1/12/2012

Fregate Island Private Luxury resort specialist takes over management of Seychelles hotel. Luxury resort specialist, Paul van Frank, has been appointed as the new Managing Director of Frgate Island Private in the Seychelles, effective from December 15, 2011. Taking over the reins from interim General Manager, Ian Barbour, who successfully ran the ultra exclusive eco retreat for the past 9 months, the multi-lingual hospitality veteran joins Frgate Island Private after more than 2 years as General Manager of Shanti Maurice in Mauritius, during which time he successfully repositioned the property as a luxury lifestyle resort and award-winning spa. OFirstly, on behalf of the entire team at Frgate Island Private, I wish to express our gratitude to Ian Barbour for all of his hard work, commitment and dedication, which is greatly appreciated. It is an honor to have been given this un-missable opportunity to capture the essence of such a unique, eco-conscious, and exclusive island, that is justly regarded as a destination in its own right,O said van Frank, OI am thrilled to have been invited to lead this ultra-luxurious island resort to achieve its full potential, for the enjoyment of the most discerning of world travelers.O Frgate Island Private is a multi award-winning luxury eco retreat and member of Small Luxury Hotels of the World and Virtuoso. This yearOs accolades include being 1 of 3 finalists in the Conservation category of the Tourism for Tomorrow Awards, and inclusion in Cond Nast TravelerOs OGold List 2011.O The original luxury eco-hideaway, Frgate Island Private, is located in the Seychelles, in the midst of the Indian Ocean. Exemplary preservation, protection, and nurturing of the islandOs unique natural environment, and the utmost in exclusivity for guests, are the central principles at Frgate: abundant fresh produce from the islandOs plantations form the basis of the culinary and spa concepts, while a resident ecologist coordinates ongoing work towards the seamless integration of resort operations into ecological program. After studying law, Paul van Frank graduated with honors in Business Economics and Public Relations. A Belgian National, van Frank has some 25 years experience running some of the worldOs finest resorts. His hospitality career began on the island of Antigua in the West Indies and took him on to Saint Lucia, before he embarked on his first appointment as General Manager at the deluxe Fort Young Hotel on the island of Dominica in the Eastern Caribbean. Following 3 years overseeing the opening of the Renaissance Resort Aruba, Paul van Frank returned to Antigua in the capacity of General Manager until 1995, when he left the West Indies after some 11 years to spend over four years in Istanbul, initially as General Manager and thereafter as Managing Director of TurkeyOs internationally-recognized Kemer Golf & Country Club. He then spent 2 years as General Manager of Begawan Giri Estate in Bali, during which time the Estate was awarded OBest of the BestO by the readers of Cond Nast Traveler. His career then took him to Thailand, with a 3-year tenure as Chief Operating Officer of Rayavadee in Krabi and sister property Tamarind Village in Chiang Mai, during which time Rayavadee was listed in the Cond Nast Traveler OGold List 2005.O His ascent continued with his appointment as General Manager of Ananda in the Himalayas in 2008 [ETH] which also subsequently featured in Cond Nast TravelerOs OGold List 2009,O as well as being voted runner up in OThe WorldOs 100 Best SpasO by the same publication the previous year. 2009 saw van FrankOs return to the Indian Ocean, as General Manager of Shanti Maurice, Mauritius. Under his leadership, Shanti Maurice was named among the O101 Best Spas in the WorldO in Tatler magazineOs Spa Guide 2011, and one of the OTop Ten Resorts in the WorldO by Quintessentially. 1/09/2012

Genting Group Genting's proposed convention center in NYC offers gains for hotels. Genting Group's proposed USD4 billion convention center in Queens in New York City would give the Malaysia-based casino developer an opening in its campaign to open a full-service casino in the city while offering a business boost for hotels in the area. However, some hoteliers are voicing concerns about moving the city's main conventions facility away from Manhattan and whether Queens' transportation system could support the increased demand. 1/12/2012

Geringer Global Travel Geringer Global Travel Offers Cultural Journey through Bhutan. Geringer Global Travel introduced a customizable 11-day cultural itinerary through the Kingdom of Bhutan. A Cultural Journey through Western Bhutan is designed to a variety of off-the-beaten-path experiences to one of the worldOs most enigmatic countries, with visits to ancient temples, palaces, village homes, and opportunities to take in BhutanOs scenery. The suggested 11-day itinerary is completely customizable and starts at USD2,460 per person double occupancy. The adventure begins in Thimphu, the capital of Bhutan, where guests will experience cultural program of traditional folk songs, dance and music. While still maintaining its distinct cultural identity, this medieval kingdom has emerged from isolation. Clients will have panoramic views of the eastern Himalayas on a scenic drive to the Punakha Valley visiting Punakha Dzong, at the confluence of the Mo (Female) and Pho (Male) rivers. They will also visit Chimi Lhakhang, the temple of the divine mad monk who is one of Bhutan's favorite saints, and a school to interact with students and teachers. After a stopover by Gangtey valley, the winter home to the rare and endangered black-necked cranes, guests will arrive in Trongsa to visit Trongsa Dzong, the ancestral home of the present Royal Family in Bhutan. From Tongsa, guests will descend into the valley of Bumthang, the heart of the Bhutanese weaving industry, to visit the weavers of the Chumey valley, interact with the monks at Lhoda Karchu Monastery and visit a traditional Bhutanese farm house to enjoy dinner with a family in Bumthang. Returning west, guests will have an overnight in Punakha before traveling back to Thimphu. In Thimphu, guests will look forward to an afternoon hike to Cheri Monastery, built by the first ruler of Bhutan in 1620, and attend a prayer session at the Drubthob Nunnery. On the last full day, guests will journey to Paro to witness an archery event, if available, and hike to Taktsang Monastery, or the TigerOs Nest, situated more than 2,000 feet from the valley floor. This spectacular architecture, perched high on a cliff, is sure to exceed all expectations and is an incredible finale to a trip of a lifetime. The price includes all costs aside from gratuity for the guides and airline flights, that is hotel accommodations for 10 nights in a standard room on twin sharing basis; meals; sightseeing; private transfers; English-speaking local guide; entrance fees; visa and permits; and complimentary bottled water in car. Susan Geringer, India travel and tour specialist, is the owner of Geringer Global Travel, a travel company specializing in custom itineraries to India and beyond. Geringer has been to over 50 countries, but India holds a special place in her heart and soul. Considered a second home to her, she is extremely passionate about India and her enthusiasm for the country is infectious. Her first visit to India was in 1980 and has since traveled to Bhutan, Nepal and Sri Lanka. For more information, contact Geringer at 877-255-7438 or 1/12/2012

Great Southern Rail AustraliaOs Indian Pacific Offers 30 Percent Discount. Clients who travel on the Great Southern RailOs Indian Pacific in Gold Service on any departure during January and February 2012 will save 30 percent off per person. The discount is available on sectors Perth to Sydney, Perth to Adelaide and Adelaide to Sydney and vice versa. The packages must be booked by Feb. 3. Indian Pacific packages include the seven-night Indian Pacific, Perth & Margaret River Experience priced from USD2,509 per person out of Sydney; a six-night package priced from USD2,119 per person out of Adelaide; and an eight-night Perth to the Top End Rail Expedition priced from USD3,729 per person out of Perth. For more information, email 1/10/2012

Guam Visitors Bureau Guam recreates Chamorro cultural theme park. GuamOs first and original Chamorro cultural theme park recreates Chamorro life 500 years ago. Chamorros are GuamOs first inhabitants. LinaOlaO Park rests on an actual Chamorro village, dating over 1,000 years ago. Latte stones, pottery, and other artifacts reveal that villagers lived there until the beginning of the Spanish era in the 17th century. The park features a visitor center displaying cultural artifacts and a brief film about the Chamorro creation belief. A nature walk filled with tropical flowers, medicinal plants, and fruit trees leads visitors to the recreation of an ancient Chamorro village. Visitors are greeted by men and women wearing what looks like traditional garb N a loincloth and small bandeau top for women. When Magellan landed on Guam in 1521, islanders were mostly naked, however, women sometimes wore a small triangular apron called a tifi, or a skirt of grass or leaves suspended from a belt. The pre-Magellan stage at LinaOlaO is filled with a handful of pitched roof houses that would have made up any village. The largest A-frame domain housed the chief and was founded on impressive latte stones. Visitors can climb into the house via a wooden staircase. Some latte structures served as gumaO uritao, or a menOs house. This was a meeting place for men and living quarters for bachelors. Latte structures also sheltered ocean going outrigger sailing canoes called proas and may have served as a place to build the proas. A central cooking house at the park contains a chahan, or pit, where root vegetables and fish were cooked atop fiery rocks and covered with leaves. Coconuts (niyok) were abundant on the island then as they are now. Ancient Chamorros fashioned a coconut grader with a sharp clamshell, which visitors can see in action. Other houses were used to treat illness and contained a mortar and pestle (lommok) used for mincing herbs. Massage was also employed as treatment. Ancient Chamorros called upon the shamen (makhna) and sorcerers (kakhna) who were believed to possess the powers to cause or cure illness by calling upon the spirits of their ancestors. There were no indigenous, four-legged animals in the Marianas. Domestic animals such as pigs, chickens, cats, dogs, pygmy quails, spotted deer, painted quails, goats, cattle, and carabao were introduced to Guam during the Spanish period (1665-1898). The parkOs animal zone houses pens containing deer, carabao, pigs, goats, ducks, and chickens. Coconut crabs, monitor lizards, and a brown tree snake are also on display. OSeeing is believing and a walk through LinaOlaO is like stepping back in time,O said GVB General Manager Joann Camacho, OThe park not only preserves our Chamorro history, but makes it come alive.O 1/12/2012

Hainan Foreigners flock to Hainan to dodge winter chill. As China's sole tropical island province, Hainan is gaining wider popularity as a hot tourism resort among foreign tourists who come to enjoy the sunshine and avoid the winter chill. Sources with the provincial tourism commission said Hainan received more than 800,000 overseas tourists in 2011, up 21 percent from 660,000 registered in 2010. Russian tourists constituted a major group traveling to the island's resorts, which feature tropical sceneries such as in the southernmost coastal city of Sanya. One visitor, Russian tourist Natascha, said she had fallen in love with the island when she was taken by her parents while still a little girl. "I can still remember the warm feeling experienced here that I never enjoyed before," Natascha recalled. "Hainan is such a memorable place." According to the tourism commission, Russian tourists account for about a quarter of the island's foreign visitors. Besides its sun, sand and sea, Hainan is proving attractive because it has ushered in a visa-free entry policy to enable travelers from 26 countries to join tour groups and register with authorities just one day ahead of their scheduled departure time. Many elderly people are also choosing Hainan as a favorite tourist destination. Japanese tourist Kawasaki said he and his wife usually stay two to three weeks in the province during winter because "the sunshine here is quite suitable for the elderly." Hainan is building itself into a world-class travel destination, and the coffers are being bolstered by increased tourism. Revenues from tourism in 2011 totaled around 32 billion yuan (5.06 billion U.S. dollars), according to the tourism commission. 1/12/2012

HawaiOi Department of Land and Natural Resources New effort launched to combat wildlife crimes in Hawaii. Humane Society of the United States and The Humane Society Wildlife Land Trust announced new efforts to support the HawaiOi Department of Land and Natural Resources, Division of Conservation and Resource EnforcementOs work to combat poaching and designated wildlife-related crimes by sponsoring a toll-free, confidential reward tip line, 1-855-DLNR-TIP. The statewide tip line will allow citizens to confidentially report information about poaching crimes to law enforcement. The HSUS will offer USD2,500 rewards for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person(s) responsible for specific, predetermined cases. The first case under this new reward program and tip line involves three monk seals killed on MolokaOi and a fourth monk seal found killed on KauaOi. Necropsies performed on three of the four seals confirmed the deaths were suspicious. The fourth case is pending additional information. Anyone with information about these cases is asked to call the confidential reward tip line. Along with The HSUSOs USD2,500 reward offering, the Conservation Council for HawaiOi, the Center for Biological Diversity and the Marine Conservation Institute are collectively offering USD2,500 for each incident. A generous anonymous local donor has offered to match these rewards, bringing the reward total up to USD30,000, or USD10,000 per seal. OWe are pleased to support the critical work of DOCARE by funding a reward program and tip line for information on illegal wildlife-related offenses,O said Inga Gibson, HawaiOi state director for The HSUS. OWe must be a voice for these innocent animal victims and encourage anyone with information to please call the confidential tip line.O OMonk seals are a vital part of HawaiOiOs marine ecosystems,O said William J. Aila, Jr., DLNR chairperson. OThe intentional killing of any monk seal is not only illegal, it is inexcusable environmentally and culturally.O OWe thank The HSUS for their sponsorship of this new program to help protect HawaiiOs precious wildlife,O said Randy Awo, DOCARE chief. OOur hope is that the reward program will deter future wildlife crimes and also encourage the community to become more involved in protecting our environment and reporting wildlife offenses.O Wildlife officials estimate that tens of millions of animals are poached annually nationwide, but less than 5 percent of poached animals come to the attention of law enforcement. Wildlife officials report that poachers often commit other crimes as well. For more information about this current reward posting please visit Monk Seal Facts: [yen] Hunted to the brink of extinction in the late 19th century, Hawaiian monk seal populations have been declining since modern surveying due to human interactions such as intentional killing, marine debris and fishing gear entanglement, disease and loss of habitat. [yen] Hawaiian monk seals are one of the worldOs most endangered animals, with population estimates less than 1,100. Hawaiian monk seals are endemic to HawaiOi and found nowhere else in the world. [yen] In June 2010, the Legislature passed Act 165, specifically to increase penalties for taking (which is defined to include harassing or killing) a monk seal. It's a Class C felony (up to 5 years imprisonment). Someone convicted under this law could face a maximum fine of USD50,000. Monk seals are also protected under the federal Endangered Species Act and Marine Mammal Protection Act, which makes it a crime to kill or harm a Hawaiian monk seal. 1/11/2012

Hyatt Hotels Hyatt Launches Hyatt House Extended-Stay Brand in India. Following recent announcements by Starwood and Wyndham to increase their businesses in India, Hyatt is doing likewise. Hyatt Hotels Corporation unveiled its new extended-stay brand, Hyatt House, in India. The announcement follows the signing of a management agreement by a Hyatt affiliate for a hotel in Mumbai. The company also announced that Hyatt affiliates signed management agreements for an additional seven full-service hotels and 14 select-service hotels in India, bringing the total number of announced Hyatt-branded hotels under development in India to 53. Hyatt House Mumbai will feature 170 guestrooms, a multi-cuisine restaurant and bar, and meeting rooms, as well as a business center, fitness center and swimming pool. The Hyatt House concept, unveiled in September 2011, is rooted in extensive consumer research and offers casual hospitality in a smartly designed, high-tech and contemporary environment. The introduction of Hyatt House signals the companyOs continued growth in India. In addition to Hyatt House Mumbai, signed agreements cover five additional Hyatt brands -- two Andaz hotels in Jaipur and Delhi; one Hyatt hotel in Raipur; 14 Hyatt Place hotels in Chakan, Delhi, Gurgaon, Goa, Hampi, Hyderabad, Jamshedpur, Kochi, Mohali, Munnar, Nashik, Sriperumbudur and Thiruvananthapuram; three Hyatt Regency hotels in Raipur, Hyderabad and Neemrana; and two Park Hyatt hotels in Delhi and Jaipur. Hyatt plans to open six new hotels in India in 2012 across its Park Hyatt, Hyatt and Hyatt Place brands, including the 209-room Park Hyatt Hyderabad; the 204-room Park Hyatt Chennai; the 104-room Hyatt Raipur; the 116-room Hyatt Place Hampi; the 117-room Hyatt Place Pune, Hinjewadi; and the 200-room Hyatt Place Bangalore, Whitefield. 1/12/2012

Kurumba Maldives Government lifts ban on spas in tourist resorts and hotels. The government in the Maldives has lifted a nationwide ban on spas and massage parlors, revoking a circular sent by the Tourism Ministry last week which ordered spas to cease operations. President Mohamed Nasheed, told a press conference at Kurumba Maldives resort that the government has requested the Supreme Court to advise whether spas are legal under the Maldives constitution. Kurumba Maldives is the country's first resort, which began operations in 1972. The President said he has ordered the authorities to lift the ban on spas with immediate effect, while the country awaits the Supreme Court's verdict. The President said he was confident all the institutions of state would realize the importance of placing national development first and would not act in a way that would damage the tourism industry. The President reasserted his view that the vast majority of Maldivians reject religious extremism and want to continue the moderate form of Islam the Maldives has followed for the past 800 years. The government's actions over the past few days follow an opposition rally in the capital, MaleO, on December 23, aimed at "defending Islam." During that rally, all the major opposition parties in the country attacked the governmentOs religious credentials; many speakers went further, calling for the creation of an "Islamic state" with the strict imposition of Sharia. Following the rally, the government ordered the countryOs spas closed. According to a statement from the PresidentOs office, OSince the governmentOs ban on spas, the opposition parties - most of which are headed or heavily influenced by resort owners - quickly changed their positions and stated they do not support a ban on spas nor wish to damage the tourism industry.O OWe wanted to impress upon everyone where the oppositionOs demands were ultimately going to end,O the President explained on Wednesday. The President said the governmentOs ultimatum Owoke the nation from its slumber and sparked a healthy national debate about the future direction of the country.O OThe extremist demonstration on December 23 attracted a sizeable crowd. But their radical demands awoke the silent majority who categorically reject extremism,O the President said. Political and religious tensions have been building up in the Maldives over the past year, with government supporters accusing opposition parties of colluding with religious extremists to destabilize the administration. It is interesting to note that concerns about religious extremism are not new in the Maldives. President NasheedOs predecessor, Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, who was toppled from power in 2008, had begun a crackdown on Islamic militant groups whose activities, he said, could affect the peaceful image of the popular tourist destination. As a foreign journalist based in the Maldives observes, "The Maldives is a country of many contradictions, and this is one that finally came to a head with the apparently opposition-sponsored 'Defend Islam' protests on December 23. "For 30 years, the Maldives has comfortably sold alcohol and pork and massages to appreciative tourists, while simultaneously describing itself as a 100 percent Islamic nation. It's telling that this has only become an issue during a time of great political turmoil.O The journalist adds that, strictly speaking, the Maldivian constitution outlaws the creation of any laws contrary to the tenets of Islam, which could arguably include those around the handling and sale of haram commodities such as pork or alcohol, adding: "The Maldives has traditionally got around this by designating resort islands as 'unihabited' islands, even if several hundred people may live and work there. However, visiting scholars such as Zakir Naik have questioned whether Islam itself provides for such a distinction, as have several Islamic finance experts I have privately discussed the matter with. Some have suggested that an outside company should manage resort bars as a separate entity, to keep the hotel profits 'clean.'O OThat aside, like everything here, the recent kerfuffle is not really a religious issue, but rather a political one. The Maldives is fiercely divided along political lines, and Islamic nationalism remains a very strong political card that could well influence the outcome of the 2013 election. It's likely that the President is allowing this particular wave to break early when it will do him less damage, as well as make a point,O said Naik. At the same time, if opposition-aligned tourism tycoons - who openly profit from the sale of haram goods - were indeed funding rallies demanding greater Islamic conservatism to score points against the ruling party as claimed this week, then that would to the outside observer seem an own-goal of staggering magnitude. The journalist concluded by saying that it is no understatement to suggest that the Supreme Court's upcoming decision is a watershed moment for the Maldives, as it struggles to reconcile the inherent contradiction of its economy. 1/10/2012

Lonely Planet Lonely Planet Names Hawaii Among Top U.S. Destinations. The editors of Lonely Planet guides have named HawaiiOs Big Island as one of the Top 10 U.S. Travel Destinations for 2012. ItOs the only Hawaiian island to make the list. Destinations were chosen for their new, interesting, up-and-coming or undiscovered qualities. Rounding out the top 10 list were the U.S. Virgin Islands, New YorkOs Hudson River Valley, Cincinnati, the Four Corners Region (Southwest U.S.), Puerto RicoOs Culebra, the California Gold Country, Boulder (Colorado), Chicago and Yellowstone National Park. 1/10/2012

Macau, Singapore, Las Vegas Visitors could top 40M as Las Vegas adjusts to competition. Gaming destinations in Macau and Singapore are raking in record revenues, but a revamped Las Vegas remains a great draw. This feature notes that southern Nevada last year likely scored its highest-ever volume of visitors. More than 40 million visitors may have spent a bit less money gambling, but they did pump a lot of cash into the city's other offerings. "The rebound has helped push up hotel room and occupancy rates as well as convention attendance and entertainment spending," Dave Berns writes. 1/9/2012

Maldives Dhonakulhi Resort MaldivesO Dhonakulhi Resort Presents Fly Fishing Package. Fly fishing at Dhonakulhi resort in the Maldives is now exclusively available through the Island Hideaway Singapore sales office. From the resort, clients can cast from the flats of their villas and catch bonefish to six pounds, giant trevally up to 45 pounds along with some of the best bluefin trevally fishing anywhere in the world. The Island Hideaway at Dhonakulhi Spa, Resort and Marina offers a range of accommodations including family villas and the exclusive Hideaway Palace (1,200 square meters). Each accommodation offers private sections of beach and a personalized butler service. The culinary options feature Matheefaru restaurant offering a mix of seafood, meat and vegetarian dishes, while the Gaafushi restaurant offers an Asian mix of Indian, Japanese, Thai and Malaysian flavors. The resort also features a kids club, spa and treatment rooms, and diving complex. 1/09/2012

Movenpick Resort & Spa Karon Beach Phuket First Green Globe certified hotel in Phuket. Mvenpick Resort & Spa Karon Beach Phuket has been certified for its sustainable operation and management. The Phuket-based resort achieved a score of 78 percent of all criteria in its audit and has become the first Green Globe certified hotel in Phuket. This recognition highlights Mvenpick Resort & Spa Karon Beach PhuketOs strong commitment to the principles of environmental protection and most importantly, reflects the companyOs determination to implement sustainable practices today to ensure a better tomorrow. OWe believe that economic growth and the well-being of society are inextricably tied to the health of the environment. Through collaboration with our team, suppliers, and business partners, we have been actively working to reduce the environmental impact of our business activities, and to continually improve and innovate on practices while at the same time meeting current needs,O said Mr. Hansruedi Frutiger, General Manager of the hotel. Green Globe is identified around the world as representing the highest quality in sustainability practices within travel, tourism, and related industries. From key indicators on energy usage, water consumption, and waste output management to employee training and implementation of customer satisfaction measures, the resort achieved outstanding results. Green Globe Certification CEO Mr. Guido Bauer said: OWe congratulate Mvenpick Resort & Spa Karon Beach for taking the lead in sustainability in Phuket. Tourism is the core industry for Phuket and its surrounding districts, so it is imperative that resorts such as this one set an example of how to operate with the lightest footprint and large contribution to the destination.O Mvenpick Hotels & Resorts is aiming for all properties to be stamped with Green Globe credentials within two years. The strategy is part of a company-wide program to establish a common and global approach to environmental, employer, and social sustainability. 1/12/2012

Peninsula Hotel Hong KongOs Peninsula Launches Room Renovation Program. The Peninsula Hong Kong is beginning a landmark room enhancement program culminating in a project that will see all 297 of the hotelOs guestrooms transformed. The two-phase enhancement program kicked off on Jan. 8, 2012, confined to two separate buildings to ensure that disturbance to guests is kept to an absolute minimum. Initially focusing on guestrooms in The Peninsula Tower, which will re-open in August 2012, these new rooms will pave the way for the transformation of guestrooms within the Original Building, to be fully unveiled in early 2013. 1/10/2012

Seychelles Tourism Board, Berjaya Beau Vallon Bay Resort & Casino China and Seychelles pledge to work together on travel market. In the presence of His Excellency Shi Zhongjun, the Ambassador from the PeopleOs Republic of China to Seychelles, and Mr. Barry Faure, the Chairman of the Seychelles Tourism Board, all the nationOs Destination Management Companies (DMCs) gathered at the Berjaya Beau Vallon Bay Resort & Casino, to collectively sign a memorandum of understanding, and as the MOU reads, Odo pledge and confirm that we are unified in our welcome and management of this most important travel market, the PeopleOs Republic of China, and to that end will provide the best care and value as is our custom.O The Chinese Ambassador in a short speech welcomed the initiative, adding that the embassy would help to promote the islands as a destination for the Chinese travel market, adding: OWhen I was first posted to these beautiful islands, truly like Heaven on Earth, there were two principal reactions from my counterparts. The first was one of compliments and how fortunate I was to be given such a posting to such a friendly and beautiful country as the Seychelles, and the other was a question, and that was, where is the Seychelles?O Mr. Alain St. Ange, the CEO of the Seychelles Tourism Board, having just returned from an important overseas mission that morning added his compliments to all the assembled DMCs, saying that the Chinese market would work and prove to be of importance to the Seychelles travel market. OThis signing of an MOU between all the DMCs comes at the right time. The government of Seychelles has decided to open direct air access between Seychelles and China. To make this initiative, we all need to work together, and todayOs show of unity among all the local tour operators is, therefore, welcomed,O Alain St.Ange said. The meeting was coordinated by the office of the Seychelles Hospitality & Tourism Association (SHTA) and in brief remarks, an official from the trade thanked all present, adding that with the signing it was time to get to work to welcome Chinese guests to SeychellesO shores. The six DMCs signing the pledge were Elite Club, 7 degrees South, Creole Travel Services, Select-Seychelles, Masons Travel, and Vision Voyages. 1/11/2012

Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide Starwood Set to Open Up to 20 More Hotels in India. Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc. said it plans to open nearly 20 additional hotels in the fast-growing market of India by 2015. The company currently operates 33 hotels in India and claims to be the largest international hotel operator of four- and five-star hotels in India. Since 2009, Starwood said it has opened nearly as many hotels in India as rivals Hyatt, Hilton and Marriott combined. In 2012, Starwood will continue its growth momentum from the luxury to mid-market tiers with the opening of ITC Grand Chola, a Luxury Collection Hotel, Chennai, Westin Chennai Velachery, ITC Rajputana, a Luxury Collection Hotel, Jaipur and two Aloft hotels. With the opening of the ITC Grand Chola Rajputana, the Luxury Collection brand will have nine hotels in India, making it the brandOs second largest market behind only the U.S. OStarwood continues to widen our long-standing lead in India, which is second only to China in terms of our future global growth,O said Vasant Prabhu, StarwoodOs vice chairman and CFO. OIndiaOs breathtaking economic growth and the rise of its middle class have generated a keen appetite for high-caliber global brands. We expect to accelerate the expansion of all of our brands across India, where demand for new hotels is expected to far exceed supply for the next three years.O In just four years, Starwood said it has grown its worldwide luxury room count by 73 percent, fueled by the popularity of its high-end brands W, St. Regis and the Luxury Collection in diverse global markets. The W brand will arrive in India in 2015 with the opening of the W Mumbai and the W Retreat & Spa Goa, which will be followed by the opening of W Noida, Delhi NCR in 2016. St. Regis will make its entry into India with the opening of The St. Regis Noida, Delhi NCR in 2016. With the debut of the W and St. Regis brands, Starwood will feature eight of its nine brand flags in India including W, St. Regis, The Luxury Collection, Le Mridien, Westin, Sheraton, Four Points by Sheraton and Aloft. Driving growth in India is the increase in the number Starwood Aloft and Four Points by Sheraton brands. Aloft recently doubled its footprint in India with the opening of Aloft Coimbatore and will continue its rapid growth with new hotels opening in Ahmedabad and Chandigarh. Four Points by Sheraton benefits from the halo effect of the powerful Sheraton brand and its long legacy in India, and will add two new hotels in the next two years. Reiterating its commitment to the region and to support the aggressive expansion plans of Starwood in the region, Starwood has relocated to a new state-of-the-art office in Gurgaon. Starwood has had a regional office in Gurgaon for over six years but it was no longer larger enough given the rapid expansion in the region. The new office at Vatika Business Park on Sohna Road houses a vibrant workspace for over 60 associates who actively work towards supporting StarwoodOs growth strategy in the region. 1/12/2012

Sydney Festival Sydney Festival Opens 2012 Program with Outdoor Event. Sydney Festival opened its 2012 program with Australia's largest free outdoor cultural event, Festival First Night, attracting hundreds of thousands of people into the city center for eight hours of music, theater, dance and visual arts. Headlining the event was music superstar Manu Chao, who had 60,000 people dancing to his Latin reggae. Australian and international entertainment included a 1950s swing dance, painted caravans, Australian singer-songwriter Meagan Washington, Indigenous singer Gurrumul and The Jolly Boys. Street performances were done by Tuba Skinny, Lewis Floyd Henry and Norman J and his Good Times Bus. Casper Babypants, Holly Throsby and Erth's mythical puppet creatures kept the kids laughing and dancing throughout the afternoon. The annual three-week celebration features theater, dance, music, exhibitions and talks celebrating Australian work as well as welcoming companies from all over the world. As part of the opening weekend, the festival celebrated Australian Indigenous culture with Black Capital, a suite of theater, music, exhibitions and a symposium that reflect Sydney's diverse contemporary Indigenous culture. On Sunday, Sydney's history was told from the black perspective, with the world premiere of OI Am Eora.O Audiences listened to six Indigenous divas from Australia, New Zealand and Papua New Guinea as they told stories of life on the road and in the spotlight in OWalk A Mile in My Shoes.O 1/10/2012

The Region Initiative Three tourism organizations join TRI from Tajikistan trans-border tourism loop. Extending further in Central Asia, three sustainable tourism-friendly organizations from Tajikistan have joined The Region Initiative (TRI). TRI is an associate member of the International Council of Tourism Partners (ICTP). The Pamirs Eco-Cultural Tourism Association (PECTA) is now a member of TRI. It is one of the organizations of Central Asia that has been working for sustainable tourism since its inception. PECTA was established in April 2008 with the support of the Mountain Societies Development Support Program (MSDSP), a project of the Aga Khan Foundation and is a non-commercial organization, which functions in accordance with the civil code law about non-commercial organization, and with the present legislation of the Republic of Tajikistan. Pamir Highway Adventure is a Tajikistan-based, full-service adventure travel company, founded and run by local people and is one of the main tour operators of the Pamirs and Tajikistan. Murghab EcoTourism Association (META) was established in 2003. The association participants, chosen from among the most economically-vulnerable families, received basic training, and a code of ethics was adopted by all stakeholders. The association has subsequently become a revenue-generating activity due to collaboration with other local development agencies. In particular, an association of women artisans has produced local craft goods that are now exported to various outlets in Central Asia and Europe. It may be mentioned that Milal Inter - an organization working for cross-border tourism with Afghanistan, Uzbekistan, and Kyrgyzstan - is already a member of TRI. 1/12/2012

Tiger Tour New Zealand Golf Tour Features Two Top Resorts. A new tour package is being offered by New Zealand's Cape Kidnappers GC and Kauri Cliffs GC, the two top-rated resort courses in the Asia-Pacific region. Both clubs are owned by hedge fund entrepreneur Julian Robertson, whose holdings also include two on-site lodges (and another on New ZealandOs South Island). The Tiger Tour -- named for Robertson's Tiger Fund -- might be the most expensive golf tour on offer anywhere in the world, assembling on a single itinerary golf, lodging, cuisine, helicopter tours, horseback riding, fly fishing, ocean sailing and winery tours in New Zealand. The Tiger Tour is scheduled for March 12 to 20. The Tiger Tour, an eight-night/nine-day tour of New Zealand resorts Robertson and his family have developed since 2000, will launch in March at the end of the summer season Down Under. Retailing at USD33,350 NZD (USD26,199) per couple, this itinerary includes everything but airfare to and from New Zealand. 1/09/2012

Toyota Toyota Says North America to Become Global Auto Export Base. Toyota Motor Corp., AsiaOs biggest automaker, will use its North American plants as a bigger source of vehicle exports as a way to blunt the impact of the rising yen, said Yoshimi Inaba, chief operating officer for the region. The company is now shipping cars and trucks built at North American plants to 19 countries, including South Korea and Saudi Arabia, and aims to significantly boost the volume, totaling 16,700 units a year ago, Inaba told reporters at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit yesterday. OThis is only a beginning,O Inaba said. OThe only way to take advantage of this extremely high yen is to export from this dollar basis.O Toyota, along with Japan-based Honda Motor Co. and Nissan Motor Co., has already shifted more vehicle production outside Japan to counter the yenOs 8.3 percent rise against the dollar in the past year, including opening a Corolla small car plant in Mississippi in late 2011. Exports from the Toyota City, Japan- based companyOs plants in the U.S., Canada and Mexico will mainly be of niche models not built in Japan. NissanOs Plans Nissan plans to add a third auto-assembly plant in Mexico to increase vehicle exports from that country to both the U.S. and across South America, Bill Krueger, vice chairman of the companyOs operations in the Americas, said in an interview this week at the Detroit auto show. Carlos Ghosn, chief executive of both Nissan and alliance partner Renault SA, said in an interview that an announcement about expanding in Mexico may come within weeks. Toyota already exports Camry and Avalon sedans, Tundra and Tacoma pickups, Sienna minivans and Sequoia sport-utility vehicles to markets in Central and South America and the Middle East, Inaba said. The company last month begin shipping Kentucky-built Camrys toSouth Korea for the first time. Given the scale of ToyotaOs global distribution network, the company should eventually be able to export more vehicles from North American plants than even U.S.-based automakers, Inaba said. As a further cost-saving move, Toyota is also studying getting more parts or even producing more vehicles in Mexico, Inaba said. OUsing Mexico as an important base for either parts or production is no doubt,O Inaba said, without elaborating. OWe are always looking at Mexico. We have a small experience in Baja, but that is not the end of the story.O The company has a small factory in MexicoOs Baja California, near Tijuana, that builds about 60,000 Tacoma pickups annually. ToyotaOs American depositary receipts fell 0.1 percent to USD68.60 at the close in New York. The companyOs U.S. sales unit is based in Torrance, California. 1/12/2012

Uzbekistan Uzbekistan Developing New Ecotourism Itineraries. Muynak, the so-called OShip Graveyard,O a former Uzbeki port on the Aral Sea, will become one of the new ecotourism itineraries according to the government of Uzbekistan. A two-year program of targeted measures aimed at developing of tourism in Karakalpakstan with the total budget of USD5.8 million has been undertaken. Under the program, it is planned to develop new ecotourism itineraries. The government is planning to construct ecotourism infrastructure in Akcha Kul zone of Ellikala district, as well as a tourism complex and ethnographic park at Ustyurt zone of Kungrad district. The program also includes measures on creation of new tourist itinerary for pilgrims from Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan (Karakalpakstan hosts historical and archeological complexes Mizdakhan and Sultan Vays Baba, sacred places attractive to pilgrims), as well as development of infrastructure of tourist sites. Ancient fortresses Kyrg-Kyz, Ayaz-Kala, Janbas-Kala, Ichan Kala mausoleum, Toprak-Kala ancient settlement and other historical and archeological monuments, located in Karakalpakstan, are of huge scientific and cultural interest for local and foreign tourists. In the near future new hotels in Nukus and Turtkul district are planned, whereas Nukus Hotel in Karakalpak capital is to be reconstructed. 1/12/2012

Wyndham Hotel Group Wyndham Hotel Group Moving Forward with India Expansion Plans. In line with Wyndham Hotel GroupOs plans to grow its presence in India this year and beyond by launching the Howard Johnson brand in the south Asian country, executive team members at Wyndham Hotel Group are traveling throughout India this month to explore development opportunities in the country. Through a non-exclusive development agreement with Unique Mercantile India Private Limited, a large firm in India with investments in real estate development in Gujarat and Hyderabad, the Howard Johnson brand will launch in the country with 3,000 rooms across 35 new properties by 2017. This agreement also includes the development of a new 120-room Ramada resort in Udaipur that will feature a spa, swimming pool, game room, a poolside bar and international cuisine. The hotelOs first 72 rooms are due to open in April 2012 with 48 additional rooms completed by December 2014. These properties will add to Wyndham Hotel GroupOs 14 hotels already in operation and the 15 properties that are currently under development in the country. The planned expansion in India follows the recent opening of the 154-room Wyndham Grand Agra under the Wyndham Hotels and Resorts flag. The hotel, owned by Shekhar Resorts Limited, is spread over 18 acres of landscaped gardens. Wyndham Grand Agra is five minutes from one of the Seven Wonders of the World, the Taj Mahal. 1/11/2012

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Date:Jan 16, 2012
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