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Destination News - Asia / Pacific.

Oct 18, 2009

The earthly paradise of Bora Bora shines in Universal Pictures' No. 1 hit comedy "Couples Retreat," filmed at the luxurious St. Regis Bora Bora Resort. Air Tahiti Nui is launching its "Couples Retreat" vacation package. Currently in theaters, the film stars Vince Vaughn, Jason Bateman, Jon Favreau, Faizon Love, Kristin Davis, Malin Akerman, Kristen Bell, Kali Hawk and Jean Reno -- and Bora Bora, which director Peter Billingsley noted was another character in the film. Set against the turquoise hues of Bora Bora's spectacular lagoon, the comedy follows four Midwestern couples who embark on a journey to a tropical island resort. While one of the couples is there to work on their marriage, the other three set out to jet ski, spa and enjoy some fun in the sun. They soon discover that participation in the resort's couples' therapy is not optional. Suddenly, their group-rate vacation comes at a price. What follows is a hilarious look at real world problems faced by all couples. For more information on the film, visit www.couplesretreatmovie.com.

Oct 16, 2009

The glow of Australia's rosy economy is failing to shine on many tourism operators who fear the soaring dollar could cost them their business, the sector's top bodies say. The managing director of the Australian Tourism Export Council, Matt Hingerty, said he could see dread in the eyes of many tourism operators last week as the Australian dollar climbed to a 25-year-high against the British pound. Mr Hingerty said local tourism businesses had already had to discount heavily to appeal to cash-strapped tourists from international economies struggling from the global financial crisis. The Australian dollar's robust performance - it is now buying 57.1 pence and 90.4 US cents - meant overseas tourists would now spend even less and leave earlier. Oct 12, 2009

For couples looking for an exotic destination wedding, or a small, intimate ceremony, the Islands of Tahiti are now an option. Many resorts on the islands offer chapels, the most spectacular being the Blue Lagoon Chapel at the Intercontinental Bora Bora Resort & Thalasso Spa. Goway's team is able to customize wedding packages, honeymoon trips, as well as plan for the entire wedding party. Goway also offers an online honeymoon registry which allows clients to register for their trip. "The honeymoon registry provides an innovative way of gift giving. Not only is it easy to use, it is much more convenient than visiting a department store, printing pages off a gift registry and searching through the store to find one of the many items on the list," said Boyd. For more information on Tahiti experiences available, call 800-667-6601, or visit www.islandsescapes.com . For more information on Goway, call 800-387-8850 or visit www.goway.com. Oct 16, 2009

A hot air balloon crashed in a southern Chinese resort town Wednesday, killing four Dutch tourists, state media said. A fifth Dutch passenger and two Chinese balloon operators were injured in the accident Wednesday morning near Yangshuo in the Guangxi region, the official Xinhua News Agency said. Xinhua said the pilots lost control of the balloon shortly after take off and it caught fire while about 150 meters (490 feet) above ground. The report said three men and one woman were killed but did not give additional information about their identities. Balloon tours of the area, which is famous for its dramatic limestone peaks, have become popular in the last few years. Oct 15, 2009

The 20-day Kamchatka voyage from Nome to Yokohama, Sept. 9-30, stops in Alaska, Chukchi Peninsula, Chukotka, Kamtchatka, Kuril Islands and Sakhalin, Japan. Cruise-only rates start at USD12,240 per person, double occupancy, including charter flights from Vancouver to Nome. For more information, visit www.hl-cruises.com or call a sales partner -- Air Travel Marketing Services at 800-888-0200, Euro Lloyd Travel Group at 800-782-3924 or Kartagener Associates at 800-524-7979. Oct 14, 2009

Holland America Line's Volendam will cruise to Australia and New Zealand in early 2011 with 14- and 18-day voyages to the lands of kangaroos, kiwis, the Great Barrier Reef and Asian ports. The ship also will sail a 14-day exploration of the South Pacific. In the spring, Volendam will operate 17- and 18-day voyages throughout the Orient, and then take a trans-Pacific journey that will cross the International Date Line on the way back to North America. Both the North and South islands of New Zealand will be explored on the 14-day Sydney roundtrips departing Jan. 2 and 30, 2011. The ship will make eight calls in New Zealand, including Wellington, Napier, Christchurch, Tauranga and a full day at Auckland. The itinerary also features scenic cruising in Fiordland National Park -- a UNESCO World Heritage Site -- and Milford Sound. Cruise fares are per person, double occupancy, and start at USD1,599 for the "New Zealand Discovery" voyage departing Jan. 2, and USD1,699 for the Jan. 30 departure; USD1,599 for the "Pacific Treasures" cruise departing Jan.16; USD1,699 for the Australia and New Zealand voyage departing Feb 13, and USD1,599 for the Feb. 27 departure; USD2,099 for the "Great Barrier Reef Explorer" cruise departing March 13; USD2,099 for the "Asia Explorer" voyage departing April 11; and USD1,599 for the Japan and Alaska trans-Pacific cruise departing May 2. For more information, call 800-522-3399 or visit www.hollandamerica.com. Oct 14, 2009

"Tastes & Sounds of the Fjords" is a series of choir, jazz and classical concerts, cooking lessons and wine tastings; departures are April 15 and Sept. 16. "Norway's Big Day Out" is a celebration of Norway's Constitution Day on May 17. Children's parades and festivities take place, and guests learn about the country's history. There are six departures in May. "Hall of the Mountain King" explores the life of Edvard Grieg. Performances by pianist Rune Alver and talks by lecturer Eilif Lotveit bring to life Norway's renowned composer during cruises departure Oct. 10 and Oct. 16, 2010. "The Ice-Breakers" offers insight into Fridtjof Nansen and Roald Amundsen, two of Norway's great explorers, during the Oct. 11 and Oct. 18, 2010, departures. "Birds of the Nordic Coast" departs May 20, as millions of migrating birds return to the Arctic for nesting. For more information, call 800-323-7436 or visit www.hurtigruten.com. Oct 13, 2009

In a National Marine Park on the Andaman Sea in the very southwest corner of Thailand, is where you find a little paradise island, Koh Lipe. The marine park houses about 70 islands, and Koh Lipe (about 70 km from the mainland) is the only one that has been allowed private development. Getting there these days can't be easier, as there are now boats from all directions, allowing visitors access both directly from Thailand's west coast and its internal airport, Hat Yai, or from the north from Phuket, Koh Phi Phi, Koh Lanta, and Trang. There are also daily boats crossing from Malaysia and its famous island destination, Langkwai. There are 3 main beaches on Koh Lipe, each with a different feeling and views. Pattaya beach is the busiest, and this horseshoe-shaped bay with views out to the Adman Sea is full of bars, restaurants, and resorts. Sunrise is much quieter and offers much better views of the smaller islands. Sunrise also boasts the best snorkeling strait off the beach with reef and several small islands to explore. Another advantage of Koh Lipe is that it receives a cool breeze most of the year. At night, Lipe turns into the ultimate chill-out scene with the restaurants and bars setting up chairs and bamboo mats right on the beach, lit by candle light, as Bob Marley tunes waft down the beach. Some of the must-see places at night include Phoo's Bar in the center of the island and one of it's long-standing institutions; Karma Bar, which is well known on the back-packer scene; and the relatively new Castaway restaurant and bar with its raised decks and stunning views. Oct 13, 2009

A bumper ski season, early spring weather, and strong destination marketing has seen CanterburyOs tourism sector reach record numbers again in August. Figures released by Statistics New Zealand on Monday show Canterbury had the largest increase in domestic guest nights in short-term commercial accommodation in August 2009 [ETH] up 6 percent on August 2008. The Statistics New Zealand figures are backed up by Christchurch & Canterbury TourismOs own statistics, which show i-SITE bookings were up significantly in August. Accommodation bookings rose by 19 percent, attraction bookings by 25 percent, and outdoor activities bookings by 12 percent, compared with August 2008. Australia was number one again, for the fourth month in a row, with AustraliansO overall spend in ChristchurchOs i-SITE Visitor Centre increasing by a record 44 percent. Oct 15, 2009

The 12-day New Zealand Rail Experience offered by The Great Canadian Travel Company will visit Auckland, Milford Sound, Rotorua, Wellington, Christchurch and Queenstown. The package uses various trains, luxury coach, ferry and excursion boats. Highlights include a visit to the Waitomo Caves, with its stalactites and stalagmites, and a guided tour of the Glowworm Grotto, where the boat moves silently through thousands of pinpricks of light. In Rotorua, clients will attend a Maori "Hangi" (feast) and concert. On Milford Sound, clients will take a Red Boat Cruise. Travel dates for this tour are December to April. Cost is USD2,360 per person, based on double occupancy, standard hotel. Quality and superior accommodations are also available. Included are tours and sightseeing as indicated on the itinerary and some meals. Flights are not included, nor are taxes, fees and airline surcharges. For more information, call 800-661-3830 or visit www.greatcanadiantravel.com. Oct 14, 2009

Princess Cruises' Star Princess and Sun Princess called in Apia, Samoa and Pago Pago, American Samoa, last weekend and brought along relief supplies and more than USD10,000 in donations for the region that was recently hit with a powerful tsunami. The ships off-loaded pallets of bottled water, sugar, flour, linens and clothing donated by passengers and crew, plus treats of candy and chocolate for the children. In addition, in Pago Pago, both ships welcomed Red Cross relief workers onboard for some relief of their own, with hot showers, use of the ships' laundries, phone calls home and lunch. The ship captains conveyed the sympathy and support of Princess crew and passengers for the people of Samoa during this difficult time, and informed local officials that the Princess Cruises Community Foundation is donating USD10,000 to the Red Cross for relief efforts in Samoa and American Samoa. The ships also conducted their own fund-raising for the relief efforts, including donations from their Crew Club funds, contributions received from passengers and crew, and money raised from auctions of the ships' navigational charts used during the cruises. In Apia, the Hon. Misa Telfoni, the minister of tourism and deputy prime minister, was touched by the generosity. He made particular mention of the Princess crew and their donation which he described as "random acts of kindness and love." For more information, call 800-PRINCESS or visit www.princess.com. Oct 15, 2009

China Yida Holding Company (China Yida) announced today that part of Hua'An Tulou's World Heritage tourism destination, the Shangping Tulou cluster scenic zone, opened to visitors on October 1, 2009. Shangping Tulou cluster is the earliest Tulou Group on record, and it includes the Qiyun, Shengping, and Rixin Buildings. Among them, Qiyun was built in 1371, and is the oldest surviving round Tulou building in China. Shengping is the only Tulou building built in stone and is as magnificent as the Roman Coliseum. Rixin is the earliest castle-style Tulou building in China. As part of the effort to raise the profile of the Shangping Tulou cluster scenic zone to attract visitors, China Yida designed many interactive tourism activities while developing the ruins to restore the buildings. The company expects to attract 160,000 visitors in 2010 to this destination and ticket prices are RMB 60 per person. Oct 14, 2009

Silversea Cruises has designed nearly 40 extended mid-cruise excursions for 2010 voyages. Unlike a partial-day shore tour, these single- or multiple-day inland adventures offer travelers a more in-depth encounter with the local people, history, wildlife and natural attractions that lie just beyond the ports of call. "Our mid-voyage programs are carefully designed to take guests further into a specific region, giving them plenty of time to fully immerse themselves in its scenery, activities and cultural heritage," said Darius Mehta, Silversea's director of land programs. "And I'm especially pleased to advise that these programs can now be booked well in advance of sailing through our reservations department." New for 2010 is the "Borneo Great Apes Adventure," during which passengers visit the Temple of Borobudur, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and then travel to the jungles of Borneo to observe orangutans in their natural habitat. Included is a two-night stay at the Rimba Orangutan Eco Lodge. This three-night package, priced at USD3,199 per guest, is offered on Silver Whisper's Jan. 18 sailing (No. 4002) from Sydney to Singapore. Guests depart from Semarang and rejoin the ship in Singapore. Also new next year is "Kakadu National Park & the Magic of Uluru." The excursion through Australia's Northern Territory includes visits to Kakadu National Park, Alice Springs, Ayers Rock and Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park. This four-night package, priced at USD5,199, is offered on Silver Shadow's Dec. 6 sailing (No. 3034) from Singapore to Sydney. Guests depart from Darwin and rejoin the ship in Cairns. The prices listed are per person, based on double occupancy. The optional mid-voyage land programs feature deluxe accommodations (if overnight stays are required), all transportation, transfers, guided sightseeing and some meals. For more information, call 877-215-9986 or visit www.silversea.com. Oct 16, 2009

The Singapore Tourism Board (STB) is developing a new road map for 2020. It is also looking for ideas from the public. Singapore's tourism industry has taken a hit with the economic downturn. Latest figures showed tourist arrivals from January to August fell 9.2 per cent over the same period last year to 6.23 million. There was one silver lining though - the rate of decline has slowed since June. The STB had previously set as its 2015 target 17 million visitor arrivals and SUSD30 billion in tourism receipts. But it now said that would be a challenge. Looking forward to 2020, the STB has put together a steering committee to chart strategic directions for the future of an industry that contributed 5.8 per cent to GDP last year. Five taskforces have been set up to look into specific areas - Business, Enrichment, Lifestyle, Marketing plus Travel and Hospitality. Oct 12, 2009

South-East Asia could soon become another playground for cruise yachts like the Mediterranean or the Caribbean if industry players could coordinate their efforts in bringing superyachts traffic into the region, an international yacht conference here was told Tuesday. Singapore Minister of State for Trade and Industry and Education, S. Iswaran, said the region already had a good marina network with many having the berthing capacity to welcome superyachts. He said what was needed was coordinated support from industry players to build up and sustain the collective leisure marine offerings in the region so as to increase superyacht traffic through Singapore and the region. The minister was speaking at the opening of the two-day First Asia Superyacht Conference themed "Transforming Asia into a Sustainable Superyacht Building and Cruising Destination" at the One 15 Marina Club at Sentosa Cove here. He said not only South-East Asia's geography allowed it to serve as a playground for cruise yachts, but the region also enjoyed warm waters year-round and the marine biodiversity in the region was unsurpassed. Oct 13, 2009

This Friday's visit of Star Princess to Auckland will mark the opening of a bumper New Zealand cruise season, with a record 52,000 passengers sailing on ships operated by Carnival New Zealand, the nation's largest cruise operator. Over the next six months, 11 ships from the Carnival New Zealand fleet will make a total 158 port visits around the country. The figure is up 50 per cent on last year's season and is three times the number of visits made just five years ago. With each visit contributing around USD500,000 through port fees, stores and passenger spending, Kiwi businesses are set to reap around USD80 million in direct expenditure between October 2009 and March 2010. Season highlights include visits from two of the largest and most famous ocean liners in the world, Cunard's 151,400-tonne Queen Mary 2 and Queen Victoria, and the first visits to New Zealand of the world's newest luxury cruise ships, the elegant Seabourn Odyssey, and P&O Cruises' Arcadia as part of their world cruise voyages. Oct 13, 2009

The World, a private residential cruise ship, recently sailed to the Russian Arctic region. The 28-day "Bering Sea Expedition" provided residents and guests with the opportunity to explore remote communities and cultures and observe wildlife in a natural environment during the brief Arctic summer. Successfully landing in Lorino Village, The World is the first ship of its size to ever visit this community in the Chukotka region. The vessel traversed the Bering Strait a few days later. Due to cabotage laws, the ship could not cross back into U.S. waters, requiring the captain to keep the 43,524-ton vessel on the Russian side, even at the Strait's narrowest point -- a two-mile-wide passage separating Little Diomede and Big Diomede Islands. "Hundreds of thousands of birds swooped past us as we came up the channel," said resident Alison Holland. "We were only a few cable lengths from the Russian shore as we were not cleared to re-enter U.S. waters and thus had to hug the Russian side." Divided not only by an international border but the International Dateline, The World is the first foreign-flagged ship to sail between the Islands on the Russian side since World War II. As the vessel approached Wrangell Island, passengers spotted 104 polar bears. Following Wrangell Island, The World sailed 70 miles to the ice cap's edge, which extends to the North Pole. Once anchored, the captain lowered the retractable marina so residents and guests could partake in a "polar plunge," and 35 souls plunged into 33.3'a1 F waters and quickly jumped out. When sailing aboard The World, all meals, select alcoholic beverages, gratuities and port charges are included. Guests who rent a residence on the ship can customize their itineraries. The ship also offers a regular selection of expeditions as well as "Stay Six Nights and Get the Seventh Free" program through Dec. 22, 2010. Each additional week spent on the ship will result in one more complimentary night, and there is no limit on the length of stay or number of complimentary nights. In November, the ship will visit Papua New Guinea during a 23-night voyage priced from USD18,500 per person. Two Antarctica expeditions will end the year. The 10-night cruise departing Dec. 23, 2010, is priced from USD19,500 per person. The 18-night voyage, Jan. 3- 21, 2011, is priced from USD35,100 per person. For more information, call 800-970-6601 or visit www.aboardtheworld.com. Oct 14, 2009

A record 4.75 million tourists visited China's Tibet in the first nine months of 2009, more than twice as many as in all of 2008, when unrest led to a ban on foreigners, state media said Wednesday. The local government slashed the cost of holiday packages, hotels and tickets to draw tourists back to the picturesque Himalayan region, Xinhua news agency reported. "It's a high point for Tibet's tourism industry," Wang Songping, deputy director of the regional tourism bureau, was quoted as saying. Wang said visitors to the Buddhist region generated four billion yuan (586 million dollars) in revenue in the January to September period. During the eight-day National Day holiday this month, Tibet received 295,400 tourists, Wang added, without providing a figure for last year for comparison. Xinhua did not provide a breakdown for foreign and domestic tourist numbers. China banned foreign tourists from visiting Tibet after deadly anti-Chinese riots erupted in Lhasa and across the Tibetan plateau in March 2008. Oct 15, 2009

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Publication:Airguide Online
Geographic Code:8NEWZ
Date:Oct 19, 2009
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