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Monday, February 12, 2007
Websites of big travel firms, hotels, airlines go multi-lingual
Here is good news for those in different parts of the world who travel internationally. Big travel companies of the United States are moving fast on their way to become multi-lingual.

Large hotel chains and major airlines are launching foreign-language websites to expand their international appeal and to boost e-commerce.

Luxury hotel operator Ritz-Carlton will launch Chinese and Japanese sites in March 2007.

Starwood, which includes Sheraton, plans to add Chinese and Italian sites to four other languages, in 2007.

Marriott is working on Chinese and Spanish sites, adding to its German website.

Hilton recently launched a Spanish site, adding to German and Japanese. It will add Chinese in 2008.

InterContinental hotels, which includes Holiday Inn and Crowne Plaza, launched Arabic, Portuguese and Korean in the last two years, adding to its eight other languages. Before the company spent anything to promote its Japanese-language site, InterContinental customers had booked $250,000 in stays in its first two weeks.

According to an official of InterContinental, the Atlanta-based hotel chain, "our customers come from everywhere. To serve them, we needed to be able to speak their language."

Meanwhile, airlines have focused mainly on Spanish speakers, both inside and outside the United States.

American Airlines, for example, launched 18 Spanish sites tailored to different countries.

Delta has added more languages since becoming the United State's biggest trans-Atlantic carrier. It recently added French, German, Italian and Portuguese sites and will soon add Japanese, Chinese and Russian.

The move to use multiple languages on the Web promotes one goal shared by all travel companies -- to boost internet sales, which cost less to process than those handled by people. The companies also say that connecting with customers in their native language can generate greater loyalty and brand awareness.

"Many companies are moving in this direction as their businesses becomes more global," said an official of Colin Kinsella of Avenue A Razorfish, a leading online marketing agency that recently translated Singapore Airlines' website into new languages.

However, the process of translating hundreds or thousands of Web pages into different languages is not easy.

Ritz-Carlton, for example, could not translate "It's my pleasure" into Japanese because of sexual innuendo in that language. As a result, the phrase is used only in English on all its foreign language sites, explained an executive of Ritz-Carlton.

Also, customers on foreign-language travel websites still may need to understand a little English. United Airlines' Spanish site and Marriott's sites require customers to complete purchases in English.

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posted by a correspondent @ 9:20 PM   0 comments
UK warns travel companies over hidden charges and misleading advertisements
The United Kingdom has decided to take tougher action against holiday and travel companies which jack up the price of trips with hidden charges.

UK's Office of Fair Trading says it expects companies to clean up their act and change their advertising within three months, or they will possibly be taken to court for breaching consumer protection laws.

The pledge, issued with the full backing of the Association of British Travel Agents (ABTA), aims at ending the bane of misleading pricing.

A spokesman of the Office of Fair Trading said: "They are getting three months to change their advertising. We expect any new advertising to comply straight away. Under the Enterprise Act 2002, we can go to court if we feel consumer protection laws are being infringed."

"As a last resort, erring holiday and travel companies will be taken to court. We will use these powers if we receive further evidence after that three-month period," the spokesman said.

Holidaymakers, who are fed up with hidden charges, often find that some fixed non-optional costs are not included in basic advertised holiday and travel prices. These include fuel supplements, which can add up to £65 a person to the price of a flight or holiday.

ABTA members sell 90% of foreign package holidays in the United Kingdom. The organisation's code requires it to show clear and transparent pricing.

But, more recently, the law has not been enforced on airlines and companies outside of ABTA membership, which meant that ABTA members were put at a commercial disadvantage, it claims.

The Office of Fair Trading now expects all holiday and travel suppliers, including non-ABTA members and airlines, to ensure that they include all fixed non-optional costs in their basic headline prices.

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posted by a correspondent @ 9:19 PM   0 comments
Brunei travel: Brunei lags behind in SE Asia's tourism sector
Brunei has been warned that it may be left out of the growth of South-East Asia's booming travel and tourism industry if the tourism sector does not take swift action immediately.

A comprehensive, 10-year economic forecast brought out in 2006 by the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) forecast that Brunei's travel and tourism industry would be among the lowest in demand in the South-East Asian region.

The report defines South-East Asia as comprising all 10 members of the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN) as well as Papua New Guinea.
It assessed Brunei's share of the world travel and tourism market at 0.0% in 2006, with a future growth rate of 2.9% a year between 2007 and 2016.

A chapter on the trends in South-East Asia's travel and tourism industry, beginning in 1988, predicted a steady rise from 3.6% at the start of 2005 to nearly 4% in 2008.

The report by the World Travel and Tourism Council ranked Brunei as having one of the slowest growth rates in the world.

Out of the 174 participant-nations in the study, Brunei was projected to stand at just 167 for the next several years, the lowest-ranking of the South-East Asian countries.

In contrast, Vietnam ranked the sixth fastest-growing in the world, with its travel and tourism industry calculated to be worth $5.6 billion.

Travel and tourism in South-East Asia was expected to generate economic activity worth $361.2 billion in 2006, and eventually to hit $800.7 billion by 2016 at the rate of 5.7% a year.

The World Travel and Tourism Council report described Brunei -- especially in terms of data source confidence, forecast and margin of error -- as being subject to "high uncertainty and/or with limited access to data."

A nationally accredited analysis for 2006 foreign arrival statistics in Brunei is yet to be released.

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posted by a correspondent @ 9:18 PM   0 comments
Queensland's tourism website whereelse.com receives record hits
The new, state-of-the-art tourism website of Queensland, Australia, has already created a record, with 55,000 hits in the four days since its launch.

The website www.whereelse.com.au was launched in the first week of February 2007 to coincide with the government-funded, $6.5-million television and outdoor advertising campaign.

Queensland's Tourism Minister Margaret Keech said the massive number of potential holidaymakers who have already visited the website indicates that it could be the state's most successful tourism campaign.

Keech added: "In just four days, the website experienced record traffic. People are becoming increasingly time-poor and the way people make decisions and book holidays have changed. By using the latest in internet technology, we are making it extremely easy to visit Queensland."

The new website, titled Where Else But Queensland, has been designed to allow holiday decision-makers to interact with a unique range of Queensland holiday experiences," according to Keech.

Tourists spend about $18 billion annually in Queensland and the state's tourism industry employs 136,000 people.

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posted by a correspondent @ 9:17 PM   0 comments
Cave tourism catching up in Turkey
Turkey has found a novel way to attract tourists. Both big and small investors in alternative tourism are turning to what may be called ‘cave tourism' as a profitable new venture.

The Mineral Research and Exploration Institute (MTA) of Turkey has been studying caves for the past 28 years. Dr Lutfu Nazik, a researcher, says that the demand for cave management has been on the rise.

According to Nazik, the MTA Cave Research Group has been conducting studies with a team of 10 people, who spend about seven or eight months in a year in the field, thanks to the high demand by the private sector.

The MTA has developed cave projects for 15 out of the 22 caves since the 1990s, ensuring that the caves are protected and managed properly.

There are no laws in Turkey at present regulating the utilisation of caves, so those interested in renting them for tourism purposes are required to apply to the local administrations and not the Culture and Tourism Ministry.

If the cave is in a forest, then it is the Forestry Ministry that oversees the procedures. If a cave is on Treasury's land, then it falls under the National Real Estate Management.

So far, only the Tinaztepe and Dim caves have been assigned to private businesses. All the others have been rented by private or local administrations.

"We are preparing a legislative proposal with the Culture and Tourism Ministry and the Environment and Forestry Ministry that encompasses many issues ranging from the preservation of caves to their development. If it is passed, it will help investors," Dr Nazik said.

The number of local and foreign visitors to the caves is increasing. Tourists from the Arab countries are especially interested in the caves.

Tinaztepe Cave, Turkey's longest and the world's third longest cave, was opened for tourism by a private operation. The 22-kilometre-long cave is located in the Konya district of Seydisehir.

Recently, the Tinaztepe Cave found a place in famed explorer Jacques Cousteau's list of "wonders of the world."

The first visitors to the Oylat Cave, 20 kilometres outside Bursa's Inegol district, began arriving only five months ago. The cave, made up of two connected floors, currently offers its guests 650 metres of visiting space. Another 200 metres will be added.

One of the main attractions in the Oylat Cave is the colourful stalactites and stalagmites, which have taken thousand of years to form.

The environment inside the cave, accessed by stairways and pathways made of steel, resembles a film studio. As one goes deeper into the cave, one is met by columns made out of stalactites and stalagmites, which also resemble statues like a man with turban, a grandmother and a child.

Tilting labyrinths and hidden corridors also await the visitor.

Millions of bats live in the Oylat Cave, where photography is not allowed in order not to scare away the bats and to protect the stalactites and stalagmites. Lights are turned on only during visiting hours.

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posted by a correspondent @ 9:16 PM   0 comments
Saturday, February 10, 2007
China eases regulations that curb operations of foreign travel companies
China is to ease regulatory restrictions that prevent foreign travel companies from operating in the country as a part of the Chinese government's effort to create a friendlier environment for foreign players.

Shao Qiwei, director of the China National Tourism Administration (CNTA), had announced in January 2007 that foreign travel agencies would be permitted to set up branch offices nationwide from July 1, 2007, as a part of a commitment the country has made to the World Trade Organisation (WTO) to open the tourism sector by 2007.
China's move has been welcomed by both travel experts and foreign travel companies.

Setting up of branch offices had been forbidden to foreign companies except in the cities of Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Shenzhen and Xi'an.

"The deregulation is meaningful. The foreign companies could strengthen networks, reputation and brand awareness in China," Li Mingde, senior researcher with the Tourism Study Center at the China Academy of Social Sciences, remarked.

"This means that travel industry will then be fully open six years after China's accession to the WTO, as scheduled," according to Liu Zinan, director of sales and account management with Hogg Robinson Group (HRG) China.

HRG, one of the top-three business travel agencies worldwide, entered China in 2004, setting up the only foreign-funded travel management company in the nation with a majority stake when it joined hands with Shanghai Jinjiang International Hotel Group.

However, there are still hurdles on the way to local business expansion. Approval of air ticketing licence is one of them. To run a travel business in China, international travel agencies need air ticketing licences besides travel agency licences.

The General Administration of Civil Aviation (CAAC) has given ticket licensing rights to the China Cargo Transportation Association. Under the current regulations, full ticketing licences can only be awarded to travel agencies that are wholly or mostly Chinese-owned.

"This means that we can neither get tickets for domestic flights nor can we conduct business there even if we set up branch in a city until we rent the air ticketing licence from a local company or take a partner," HRG's Liu Zinan explains.

Yet another problem is the computer reservation system. TravelSky, a monopoly with major domestic State-owned air carriers as equity holders, is the only entity that the CAAC permits to issue tickets for travel agencies and air ticketing companies.

The international computer reservation system -- known as Global Distribution Systems (GDS), which is believed to be more technologically advanced -- is not permitted to issue tickets.

"This is a big problem for international travel agencies because we have a range of well-developed technical systems, such as highly customised self-service reservation engines, traveler tracking and reservation quality checks that could be interfaced with the GDS, but not TravelSky," Liu says.

Most international travel agencies are developing local systems that could be interfaced with TravelSky, but the best solution is deregulation of the CRS sector, according to Liu.

The outbound tourism sector is also a restricted area for international players in China.

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posted by a correspondent @ 11:32 PM   0 comments
Medical tourism in Kerala, state to become global destination for healthcare tourism
Kerala, the scenic, southernmost state in India, is all set to project itself as an international destination for healthcare tourism.

Road shows will be held in Sri Lanka, Maldives, and West Asia to showcase the possibilities and attractions of Kerala's medical tourism.

There are also plans to include the United States and several destinations of the Europe in the medical tourism drive, according to E K Bharat Bhushan, Principal Secretary, Kerala Tourism.

Kerala's health tourism policy envisages a huge investment opportunity for the non-resident Keralites (NRKs), making it a venture promising them considerable profits in the long term.

The new policy aims at introducing Kerala on the international tourism stage by 2010. The Kerala government intends to achieving this by raising the budget allocations to the public health sector and allowing private participation.

The Kerala government, Bharat Bhushan said, is ready to help NRKs who invest to set up any kind of healthcare facility. But only those hospitals which comply with the terms of the National Accreditation Board (NAB) for hospitals and healthcare providers would be given official recognition.

The growth of tourism in Kerala has been phenomenal -- there was a huge growth of 31% in Kerala's tourist traffic in 2005.

A report released by the RNCOS, an industry research firm incorporated in 2002, titled Opportunities in Medical Tourism in India (2007) says: "Kerala, since beginning, has been the most-preferred destination for those looking for the rejuvenating magic of ayurveda. But, the current trends show that Kerala is emerging as a modern healthcare provider due to evolving collaborations of enterprisers in the private healthcare sector and the tourism industry which are advertising medical tourism belligerently. Hospitals are also setting up special divisions and support systems for their foreign clients."

The market research report also addresses the following critical facts and issues: An overview of worldwide and Asian medical tourism industry, section-wise performance of the medical tourism industry in India, emerging trends and growth driving factors, key regulations and policy environment, government initiatives to promote medical tourism, opportunities and challenges, and key players in the field of healthcare tourism.

The RNCOS report provides extensive research and rational analysis of the medical tourism industry in India.

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posted by a correspondent @ 11:31 PM   0 comments
Thursday, February 08, 2007
Rising violence in Kenya: US, UN issue travel advisories
An increase in the crime rate in Kenya has compelled the United States and the United Nations to issue travel advisories to US citizens and UN employees, respectively, visiting the country.

In separate statements, both the US and the UN condemned the high rate of insecurity in Nairobi, the capital, and other parts of Kenya.

"Violent criminal attacks, including armed carjacking and home invasions and burglary, can occur at any time and in any location, and are becoming increasingly frequent. The Kenyan authorities have limited capacity to deter and investigate such attacks," a statement from the US Embassy in Nairobi said.

The advisory was distributed to thousands of delegates attending an international conference at the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), headquartered in Nairobi.

Both the US and the UN are alarmed by increasing violent attacks on diplomats by armed gangsters. In the last one month alone, 53 people, among them an American woman and her daughter, have been killed in carjacking incidents.

Several other diplomats have been seriously injured in violent robberies and incidents of carjacking.

But diplomats are not the only target. In the first week of February 2007, young gangsters murdered Professor Job Bwayo, Kenya's leading AIDS researcher and university don. Prof Bwayo was the lead researcher at the ongoing HIV/AIDS vaccine trials being jointly conducted by the Kenya Aids Vaccine Initiative (KAVI), the Oxford University, and the United States National Institute of Health.

The US has, in act, maintained a travel advisory against Kenya since 1998, the focus has mainly been on terrorism. In August 1998, US embassies in Nairobi and Dar-es-Salaam were simultaneously bombed by suspected Al-Qaeda terrorists, resulting in the deaths of about 300 people, most of them Kenyans and Tanzanians.

In November 2002, terrorists struck at an Israeli-owned hotel located in coastal Kenya, in which 15 people lost their lives.

The negative travel advisories have always hurt the Kenyan tourism industry, a leading foreign exchange earner.

Following Wednesday's travel advisory, the Kenya government accused the US and the UN of blowing matters out of proportion, stressing that South Africa is more violent-prone than Kenya, yet no travel advisories have been issued against it.

Kenya's President Mwai Kibaki has ordered the police to seize illegal arms in an effort to check the rising tide of insecurity. He said the country has the capacity to deal with crime.

However, both Kibaki's Cabinet colleagues and the Opposition have demanded the resignation of Security Minister John Michuki following the rising sense of insecurity in the country.

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posted by a correspondent @ 11:19 PM   0 comments
Heavy snowfall stops England, Wales on their tracks
Travel chaos prevailed all over England and Wales on Thursday morning as passengers were left stranded at airports, schools were closed, and commuters suffered rush-hour travel jam after as much as four inches of snow fell within just hours in the morning.

Luton and Stansted, Birmingham, and Cardiff airports were all shut because of snow on their runways.

Commuters going to their workplaces by car and train in rush hour were also hard-hit after the heaviest snow fell at 5 a.m.

Trains around major urban centres and long-distance inter-city services were either delayed or cancelled, while major motorways were blocked or slow.

Scotland and northern England were the only areas unaffected by the blast of snowfall, with southern and central England suffering the worst.

Some of the worst chaos was suffered by passengers at airports.

At Stansted Airport in Essex, no flights left from or arrived at the terminal on Thursday morning because of blocked runways.

Luton Airport was closed for up to four hours because of bad weather at 7 a.m.

Bristol Airport was closed in the morning even as eight flights were waiting, fully boarded.

Cardiff and Birmingham airports also suffered from snow on runways.

Commuter trains all around London were affected in the morning. Rail services into London from Kent and Sussex were running late.

Long-distance trains from major Midlands cities to London and the south were also cancelled on Thursday morning.

In London, the Underground reported serious delays on the Central and Metropolitan Lines. There were minor delays on the Bakerloo Line, and part-suspensions in the Jubilee, Northern and Piccadilly Lines.

Motorway chaos was reported on the M25 in Hertfordshire after a lane was closed because snowfall had rendered it unusable.

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posted by a correspondent @ 11:18 PM   0 comments
Seychelles for slow growth of tourism to protect environment
Seychelles, the tiny, picturesque island-nation in the Indian Ocean, is encouraging tourism in a big way to earn the badly needed foreign exchange, but not at the cost of environment.

The country favours a slow growth of the tourism industry to protect environment for the sustainable growth of its economy.

With white sand beaches, blue sky and beautiful tropical scenery, Seychelles attracts hundreds of visitors every day, bringing a huge amount of hard currency to the country.

Latest official figures show that Seychelles -- with a land area of just 455 square kilometres, scattered over 115 islands -- received in 2006 a record number of 140,627 tourists, who brought in about US $ 200 million. This happened despite the threat of chikungunya epidemic and high prices for hotels and other accommodation.

The boost in Seychelles tourism had led to the opening up of the local market to other airlines such as Emirates and Qatar airways in 2005, a relatively stable exchange rate between euro and the rupee (Seychelles' currency), and the construction of new and luxury establishments. All this helped Seychelles discard its former reputation of providing three-star service at five-star prices.

The island-nation is used to receiving more visitors than its population of 82,000.

The Seychelles archipelago, which covers a vast tract of the western Indian Ocean, has an exclusive economic zone of over 1.3 square kilometres.

Seychelles Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Patrick Pillay says the 2006 figure was near the peak the tiny nation could offer to foreign visitors because of concerns over environmental degradation.

Seychelles is famed for its sound environmental protection policies and its land under protection is over 50 percent of its total area -- the highest proportion of protected land in the world.

So, with limitations on further development of tourism, the Seychelles government's policy is to attract what Patrick Pillay calls high-level tourists, that is, the rich visitors around the world.

Advocating eco-tourism, Seychelles President James Michel had once described that natural environment as the butter and bread for Seychelles and environment degradation meant less visitors and fewer hard currency.

Though tuna replaced tourism as Seychelles' leading foreign exchange earner in 2000, development of the tourism sector have a far greater impact on the economy because of its direct links to a range of service activities.

The opening of the international airport in 1971 laid the foundations for future expansion of the tourism industry in Seychelles, and the number of visitors reached 130,865 in 1996, compared to just 771in 1967.

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posted by a correspondent @ 11:17 PM   0 comments
Wednesday, February 07, 2007
US travel industry unveils plan to lure more visitors
The travel industry in the United States has come up with a proposal to reverse the decline in overseas visitors to the United States by speeding the approval of visa applications and the processing of international travelers at US airports.

The Discover America Partnership has called for a public-private travel promotion campaign aimed at improving the United State's image abroad.

Overseas travel to the United States has decreased by 17 percent since 2001 – business travel fell by 10% from 2004 to 2005.

This decline has cost the US economy $93 billion and nearly 200,000 jobs since 2001, according to the Partnership.

According to analysts, this `travel crisis' is hurting the US economy, national security and global standing.

"It is well within America's reach to be both more welcoming and more secure," says Jay Resulo, chairman of Walt Disney Parks and Resorts.

The Partnership estimates that its proposals would cost $300 million, but would return much more than that in tax revenue and spending at US businesses.

The Partnership recommends that staffing at US consulates should be increased so that all visa applications would be processed within 30 days.

Also, the number of border officers at major international airports also should be increased so that international travelers can be processed in 30 minutes or less, according to the proposal.

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posted by a correspondent @ 11:19 AM   0 comments
Homestay in Kerala near Thekkady, Kumily
Here I reproduce another mail received. Do check out their website, looks interesting to me. A homestay in Kumily, near Thekkady and the Periyar Tiger Reserve is always a good idea.

Mundax Homestay Retreat Surrounded by the mesmeric beauty of meditative mountains, brilliant skies, whispering winds, inviting hikes, and healing waters, mundax homestay retreat is a place to unwind, reflect and rejuvenate near Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary and Tiger Reserve, Thekkady.

Nestled in a scenic mountain location overlooking beautiful hills and valleys, the mundax homestay offers a tranquil and inspiring setting for retreat vacations, walks in nature, and charming views of the surrounding mountains. Whether you are in quest of a sanctuary in which to relax and unwind, to learn meditation, to nature activities to release stress we have something for you.

Experience nature in its purest form with all of the creature comforts. We are passionate about providing a unique mundax experience. Service is relaxed, warm, gracious and genuine. It is custom built to delight the senses, to pamper, to relax, to revive. We invite you to retreat to mundax and to surrender to the restorative powers of nature. This is one of the most idyllic and inspirational private homestay retreats in 'God's own Country' Kerala, South India. Nestled amongst organic spice and vegetable gardens, healing waters this idyllic place offers plenty of opportunity for private retreat and contemplation.

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posted by a correspondent @ 2:25 AM   0 comments
Tuesday, February 06, 2007
Travel for the disabled: New website to help disabled travellers in Bristol
Here comes a new website that provides travel information and advice, much-needed resource for disabled and less mobile people in Bristol, the United Kingdom.

The website www.gettingaboutgreaterbristol.org will be launched on February 8.

This would be the only online resource that brings together details about what suitable transport exists for disabled people wanting to travel around Weston-Super-Mare, Bristol, Thornbury, Bath and Radstock.

The website has been set up by Bristol, South Gloucestershire, North Somerset and Bath and North East Somerset councils working with Bristol Physical Access Chain and an independent consultant.

The Disability Discrimination Act and other pressures are making improvements to the transport system, but the site provides local information about travelling using many different forms of transport.

The website, particularly aimed at the disabled and less mobile, has been designed to be completely accessible to all users. The clear layout makes it easy to navigate.

The font size and colours have been carefully chosen so that visually impaired people and people who use a screen reader can understand the text. Since the website is updated every month, the information is unlikely to become out-of-date.

The new website will help fill the gap left by Tripscope, a well-used and popular information and advice line that finished at the end of March 2006. It links to the webpages of the Disabled Persons Transport Advisory Committee (DPTAC), which advise the British Government on access for disabled people to transport.

The site will significantly improve upon the only area specific information currently circulating, the Getting About booklet, last published by Avon County Council in 1997.

Algy Seymour, chairperson of Bristol Physical Access Chain, said "the new website promises to be a well-designed and very accessible resource. The details and advice found on the website at the moment are a great start, and we hope that users and other travel organisations will be in contact with additional information to help build it up."

Further travel information and advice that may be of use to website users as well as requests for further information about the website can be submitted to the contacts detailed on the website itself.

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posted by a correspondent @ 7:09 PM   0 comments
Australian tourism growth: Major sporting events boost tourism in Australia
The year 2006 has been a plentiful year for tourism in Australia, spurred by major sporting events.

Over 5.5 million tourists visited Australia in 2006.

December 2006 was one of the top months, fuelled by thousands of cricket fans pouring into the country to attend the Ashes series.

The Barmy Army provided the biggest boost to the December figures, with visitor numbers from the United Kingdom up by 22% during the Christmas month.

The end-of-year figures reflected this surge, with the Australian Bureau of Statistics reporting on Tuesday that the country welcomed 5.532 million inbound travellers in 2006, up by 0.6% from 2005.

Tourism and Transport Forum Australia managing director Christopher Brown described the yearly results as "outstanding" and said Tourism Australia's campaigns - particularly in Britain - were starting to gain momentum.

"The December results in particular show the important role that major sporting events such as cricket can have in generating tourist interest and in boosting local economies," Brown said.

Australia's Federal Tourism Minister Fran Bailey said she was delighted with the results, which also revealed international tourists spent $1.4 billion more in Australia in 2006.

The year 2006 also witnessed strong visitor arrivals from China and India, but the number of tourists from Japan continued to drop.

"The appreciation of the Australian dollar to the yen, coupled with a slashing of aviation seats out of Japan by 9% is making the dream of an Australian holiday less of a reality for too many Japanese," Fran Bailey said.

Drought is the most important hurdle that the tourism industry in regional Australia is facing since the collapse of Ansett Airlines, an industry expert says.

Tourism and Transport Forum Australian managing director Christopher Brown says that rural and regional areas, which bore the brunt of the Ansett collapse, are now set to be the hardest hit as water resources dry up.

Water-skiing, white-water rafting and fishing are no longer an option for local tourism operators.

The drought has already caused tourist cancellations in the Murray region.

The impact of climate change is affecting other regional areas in Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland.

The natural environment is a fundamental part of Australia's tourism industry. While farmers get drought assistance, the same cannot be said of the tourism industry.

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posted by a correspondent @ 7:08 PM   0 comments
Monday, February 05, 2007
River and Rubber homestay in Ranni, Pathanamthitta Kerala
I hail from Erumeli, a place quite near to this homestay. Te River and Rubber Homestay is located near Ranni, on the banks of the holy river Pampa in the Eastern Ghats.

At River and Rubber homestay you can watch and learn the art of rubber making, drawing toddy from coconut trees, harvesting paddy, enjoy a boat ride on the river, relax in a riverside hut, trekking, sightseeing just to name a few. We serve the most delicious home cooked cuisines of Kerala including fish delicacies with fresh fish caught from the river pampa.

Check the website www.riverandrubber.com for details of services and facilites.

Contacts:
Delcia Salian / Mrs renu Thomas
Middle East contact for River and Rubber
971 50 7868031
971 50 3534797
dsalian@riverandrubber.com
contact@riverandrubber.com

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posted by a correspondent @ 4:53 AM   0 comments
Another homestay near Kochi, Kerala - Haritha Farms The Pimenta
This is not actually about homestays in Kerala - I received a mail from a reader of this site, who wrote to me about what he liked and disliked about Kerala's numerous homestay options.
There are lot of homestays in Kerala, but an interesting feature we have seen there is that most families that run homestays have their kids admitted into boarding schools.

We were also able to stay some of the good villas, styled often as replicas of posh hotels! So you do not see the real life around. Interstingly almost all these home stays are in the vicinities of the tourist areas and located either in hills or backwaters. So you can also see the not-so-happy-faces of people who are subjected to be like animals of zoo where their daily life is invaded a lot in the name of tourism.
I have to agree somewhat. The fact the owners of homestays send their kids to stay in boarding schools while they take care of guests is interesting. Such a thing would have been unthinkable in 1994 when I left Kerala. Only the really rich did stuff like that, mostly because they found themselves too busy or incapable of bringing up their kids well.

Not so happy faces of people? I don't know. Sure, the malayalee usually does not like intrusions into his life. Especially when they don't make any money out of that! Change that, and he is usually happy to assist you in whatever way possible!

Anyway, there is more in the letter.

Interestingly, we came across a different tourism concept called eco-agri-tourism in a really middle-of-nowhere place called kadalikad near Cochin. The guy who runs it is an ex lawyer, who is into conserving the nature by planting more trees and he calls it as forest gardening.

In between he grows pepper and nutmeg. Also he has four small bungalows with an open terrace into the garden with attached bath having hotwater solar powered. The unique aspect of the place they have a common meeting place which is near their house having a kitchen attached to it. His school going boy gives you a garden tour.There is enough host guest interacction withoout interrupting the privacy of the guest.They seems to market it by word of mouth and it seems that it works . The place is called Haritha Farm's The Pimenta

Recommended for a three to four nights stay in kerala which is a farmstay but will act like a homestay too.
Do check up and verify what it is all about on their website.

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posted by a correspondent @ 4:33 AM   0 comments
Ecogreen Homestay near Kochi, Kerala - a taste of Cochin
Ecogreen Home Stay, a Deluxe class accommodation, is located 21 kms from Cochin International Airport, 2 kms from Railway Station and 150 Meters from National Highway - 47.

If you would like to experience Kerala living in and around Kochi (Cochin, as it was called earlier) and Ernakulam city, this is a place you should look at.

Kochi is a famous port town famous for its Chinese fishing nets, Jewish Synagogue, and a multicultural and multi-religious identity.

You will have generally friendly people around, there is a lot of foot to taste, and lot of beautiful waterfalls and lakes and the sea nearby.

These guys have one of the better homestay websites I have come across - even the family photo of the husband, wife and kids on the homepage looks so typically Malayali!

The rates of Ecogreen Homestay too appear reasonable to me. For exact details of what you can expect there, I suggest you contact Mr Suresh Mathew directly on phone or email.

Email: ecogreenhomestay@yahoo.co.in
Website: http://www.ecogreenhomestay.com/

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posted by a correspondent @ 4:26 AM   0 comments
Mappilassery Mansion Backwater Homestay near Alleppey, Kerala
Details of a backwater hometstay in Kerala, reproduced and edited from mail received. Check with the homestay owner for up to date information on what is given below.

Mappilassery Mansion is a heritage home stay in Champakulam, 10 kms from Aleppey in the backwaters of Kerala.

Mappilassery Mansion is a heritage home, and the home stay is provided at my guesthouse which is a two room coattage with a living room, bath-attached bedroom and a sitout. There are 4 beds in it. The entire coattage is rented out to the guest and we entertain only foreign tourists to Kerala.

The tarrif for the cotage is Rs 3000 for double occupancy including food. Our website is www.mappilasserymansion.com

Reach me at 9847513868, 9495209826, 0477-2704426.

Aby. Email: avira_110@hotmail.com

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posted by a correspondent @ 4:21 AM   0 comments
Homestays in Kerala
Homestays are in the news again in Kerala, my home state. Ever since this site carried some stories about home stays in Kerala some one year back, I have been receiving mails from home stay owners and managements about their offerings.

Today, I am reproducing the mails that I have received from several hoem stay operators in Kerala. If you are looking at cheap and comfortable vacation options in Kerala, do check with them about exactly what they offer, rates, services, and the kind of cultural experience you can avail of the green state of Kerala.

I am linking to the individual posts on homestays below. Click on them, or Click on the Travel link below to read about all of them in a single page.

Happy staying in Kerala!

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posted by a correspondent @ 4:19 AM   0 comments
 

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