Travel Business News - Asia / Pacific.
Crystal Cruises Crystal Cruises makes Hong Kong port of call for 2013 and 2014. Great news for Hong Kong luxury travelers and cruise aficionados [ETH] Crystal Cruises has increased its voyages to Hong Kong for 2013 and 2014. The worldOs most luxurious cruise line will stop in the sparkling Asian port of Hong Kong on several of its upcoming international cruises. In addition to World and Grand Cruises, both Crystal Serenity and Crystal Symphony will also offer an enhanced selection of 10-, 12-, 14- and 16-day cruises either starting or ending in Hong Kong, visiting exciting destinations throughout Asia. CrystalOs 2013 repertoire covers 64 itineraries visiting 62 countries and 226 ports-of-call worldwide. A further 17 voyages visiting 74 ports in 34 countries have been pre-announced for January to May 2014. Upcoming cruises in 2013 sail from Hong Kong to Beijing (10 days) calling at Xiamen, Shanghai and Dalian; and Singapore to Hong Kong (16 days) stopping at popular ports in Vietnam, Thailand and Cambodia. In 2014, there are even more cruises to Hong Kong, including a 12-day Yokohama to Hong Kong voyage, visiting Nagasaki, Osaka and Shanghai. Combinations for longer cruises are also available. Apr 16, 2012
Royal Caribbean Cruises Taiwan vies to become major cruise hub. Taiwan could become a new star in the cruise tour market once restrictions on foreign ships traveling across the Taiwan Strait are eased later this year, an operator said yesterday. The removal of such restrictions will allow cruise operators to obtain permission for several trips with each application, which will encourage more ships to stop in Taiwan, said Royal Caribbean Cruises, a major cruise ship company based in the US. The company said TaiwanOs strategic location in maritime transportation lanes in Asia makes it possible for Keelung Port to become a major cruise ship hub like Hong Kong, Singapore and Tianjin, China. Royal Caribbean plans to put a 140,000-tonne cruise ship into service on its Asia routes next month, introducing the biggest cruise liner operating in the region. Starting in August, the massive ship will sail routes between Keelung and Shanghai, as well as to destinations in Japan and South Korea, Royal Caribbean said. Taiwan and China have agreed to allow foreign cruise ships to operate between the two sides of the Strait without having to apply for permission before each trip, according to the Ministry of Transportation and Communications. The agreement, negotiated by the shipping associations of Taiwan and China late last year, is expected to be officially signed during bilateral talks in China in the first half of this year, the ministry said yesterday. Because very few cruise ships are registered in China or Taiwan, cruise operators have not benefited from a 2008 cross-strait pact that allows direct services across the Strait by ships registered on either side. As a result, cruise operators have had to obtain approval before each trip between Taiwan and China. Keelung Port, which handles the heaviest cruise ship traffic among all of TaiwanOs ports, recorded more than 461,000 visits by cruise ship passengers last year, a 2.6 percent increase from the previous year. Source: taipeitimes.com/CNA Apr 17, 2012
Tourism Authority of Thailand Tourism Authority of Thailand Highlights New Year Celebrations. The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) is promoting the OSongkran Splendours Festival,O which highlights the many traditional celebrations that take place during Songkran, the festival marking the Thai New Year. The Songkran Splendours Festival offers a range of cultural events that will take place in Bangkok and 12 cities across Thailand from April 9 to 24. The Songkran Festival is based on ancient traditions that recognize the importance of family ties and the progression of life by honoring family elders. Meaningful cultural ceremonies that take place throughout the country also engage communities and welcome visitors to take part. A word with roots in the Sanskrit language, OSongkran,O means Omove into.O Historically, it marked the end of a 12-month cycle and the beginning of a new solar year. Water plays a major role in the Songkran Festival, symbolizing the cleansing and purification process. Cultural traditions include cleaning temples, making merit with monks, bathing Buddha statues and images with scented lustral water to show respect, and decorating temple grounds. Many communities also feature parades, street parties and other events that offer visitors to Thailand a chance to immerse themselves in Thai culture in a fun and fascinating way. Highlights of the Songkran Splendours Festival and the 13 provinces include Bangkok Songkran Splendours Festival (April 10 to 15), and Songkran Festival in the capital, which include pouring scented water on Buddha images and cultural performances at Nagaraphirom Park during April 10 to 15. Visitors can also join in the Songkran Festival activities at Rattanakosin Royal Square, as well as in the neighboring areas including Bang Lamphu, Khao San Rd., Phra Athit Rd., Santhichaiprakan and Wisut Kasat. Through April 17, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., visitors should go to the information booth at different temples in Bangkok to receive a souvenir passport for collecting a stamp from each location. Once the passport is filled with stamps, visitors can receive a special gift at Wat Pho. Temples include Wat Phra Kaeo, Wat Pho, Wat Arun (The Temple of Dawn), Wat Ratchaorasaram, Wat Ratchaphradit, Wat Ratchabophit, Wat Bowornniwet, Wat Suthat, Wat Phraram Kao, Wat Chanasongkhram, Wat Saket (The Golden Mount), Wat Rakhang, and Wat Kanlayanamit. The Chiang Mai Songkran Festival runs April 12 to 15 and begins with a procession that takes place around Chiang Mai city. Participants can also pour scented water on a Buddha image and willing elders, delight in cultural performances and traditions that reflect the Northern style and enjoy a variety of foods available along the streets. The Chon Buri Songkran Festival, April 13 to 21, takes place in four key venues for the Songkran festival in Chon Buri province, which are Ko Si Chang, Wan Lai Bang Saen, Wan Lai Pattaya, and Si Maha Racha. The Kong Khao religious ritual, which is also related to the Thai New Year, includes a procession of kong khao floats and Buddha images, plus the ritual bathing of Buddha images. Visitors should also make sure they see the tradition of local men carrying a woman to the sea and back at Ko Si Chang, which is followed by a folk dance. The Hat Yai Midnight Songkran Festival, Songkhla, April 11 to 13 is located in the south of ThailandOs largest city. Songkran includes water-splashing, beauty pageants and other activities such as Phra Phuttha Sihing Buddha image and Songkran Goddess procession. The Midnight Songkran Festival also features late-night fun on Niphat Uthit Road and Odian Intersection in Hat Yai. The Isan Songkran Festival, Dok Khun Siang Khaen Festival, and Khao Niao Street, April 11 to 18, takes place in Khon Kaen in Northeast. Here, visitors can experience the longest human wave in the world and take part in the water splashing on "Sticky Rice Streetor Khao Niao Street" and watch the Flora Cart and Songkran Procession that starts out from Fountain Park. There is also a variety of entertainment to choose from; a mountain bike competition, volleyball tournament, petanque competition for the Royal Cup from HRH Princess Sirindhorn, cooking contest, OTOP product fair, folk plays, and a food fair at Kaen Nakhon Lake in Khon Kaen. Apr 18, 2012
Tourism Authority of Thailand Tourism Authority of Thailand Unveils One-Stop Travel App Site. The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) has launched a "one-stop" shop for all mobile tourist applications. Visitors to Thailand will now have an easier way to receive updates and information on the go, whether planning a trip or traveling throughout the country. Thailand in Your Hand is a dedicated website that promotes all of the downloadable apps by the Tourism Authority of Thailand. Apps included are the official "Amazing Thailand" application, which provides destination guides on where to go and how to get there; the "Amazing Thailand Blissful Honeymoon" app, offering tips and information on planning a honeymoon getaway; and the "Top 50 Amazing Experiences in Thailand" app, which provides an overview of the kingdom's highlights, including the top 50 experiences in Thailand, ranging from ancient temples and pristine beaches to outdoor adventures and world class pampering. Additional apps include Green Tourism, Thailand Medical Tourism, Amazing Thailand Phuket, Amazing Thailand Chiang Mai, as well as Eat and Drink in BKK, among others. Thailand in Your Hand is available on iTunes for iPhone, iPad, Android, Blackberry and Nokia/Ovi phones. Apr 17, 2012 AirGuideBusiness ISSN 1939-666X
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