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Old February 9th, 2006, 04:45 AM   #1
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Asians to challenge German tourism record - study

LONDON, Jan 20 (Reuters) - Japanese and Chinese travellers are set to challenge the dominance of the Germans over the next 15 years for the title of world's most prolific globe-trotters, according to a survey on Friday.

Research company MINTEL said Japan and China will generate around four times as many outbound trips in 2020 as they did last year, making them number two and three respectively behind Germany.

MINTEL's Richard Cope said both countries would be driven by growth in their business and leisure markets.

"With 10 years of little or no growth, the Japanese economy is picking up -- that means more business trips and more tourism," he told Reuters.

As for the Chinese market, pent up demand coupled with more opportunity was "creating a travelling class."

In both markets, the business traveller was likely to continue to make short regional trips while tourists head further afield.

Overall, the number of trips taken abroad from the world's top 15 travelling nations will double by 2020 to 836.6 million from 433.3 million, the survey predicted.

Cope said travellers were unlikely to be deterred by terrorism or natural disasters.

"Whilst national economies and security fears will cause some would-be travellers to stay at home, or sway their choice of destination, for a considerable proportion, a holiday or a business trip abroad has become part of day-to-day life and is no longer regarded as a luxury," he said.

Back in 2003, Germans ousted Americans as the most travelled nationality.

Last year, Germans alone accounted for over 86.6 million trips abroad, with Britons in second place (65.3 million) and Americans trailing in third (58.3 million).

Cope said the foreign travel market in the United States has stagnated primarily because of the weakness of the dollar.

According to MINTEL, the other top travelling nations are: France, Russia, Italy, Netherlands, Canada, South Korea, Sweden, Belgium, Hong Kong and Australia.
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Old February 9th, 2006, 04:46 AM   #2
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Tourism earned China 96 billion dollars last year

BEIJING, Jan 22, 2006 (AFP) - China's tourism sector earned 96 billion US dollars last year and will likely grow by 8 percent this year as the country climbs up the ladder of top travel destinations, state media said Sunday.

China received 120 million overseas visitors in 2005 and saw 31 million outbound travellers, the Xinhua news agency reported. Travellers from Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan are considered overseas visitors.

Income from domestic tourism reached 528.6 billion yuan (66 billion dollars) while earnings from international travellers surpassed 29.3 billion dollars, Xinhua cited the China National Tourism Administration as saying.

China's tourism industry has been developing rapidly in recent years, with inbound, outbound and domestic markets growing prosperously.

Shao Qiwei, director of the administration, predicted China would see 130 million inbound travellers this year, up eight percent from the previous year, Xinhua said.

The industry is expected to grow by eight percent a year until the end of the decade.

In 2003, China received 91 million inbound travellers, 11 million of them foreign tourists, according to the administration's figures.

However, the World Tourism Organization (WTO) offers different statistics, indicating China received a lower number of foreign tourists -- 33 million -- in 2003.

That still puts China in fifth place after France, Spain, the United States and Italy, WTO data showed.

China is expected to have 64 million foreign tourists in 2010, which would put it in third place worldwide that year.
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Old February 9th, 2006, 04:47 AM   #3
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World tourism head warns against bird flu "panic"

MADRID, Jan 24, 2006 (AFP) - The secretary general of the World Tourism Organzation, Francesco Frangialli, warned on Tuesday that the tourism sector must not fall prey to "unecessary panic" over bird flu.

"There is no reason to give in to panic," Frangialli said as he unveiled a strong rise of 5.5 percent in world wide tourism for 2005, total arrivals exceeding 800 million for the first time.

Although that figure is set to double by 2020 Frangialli noted that bird flu fears could potentially damage growing markets such as China and Turkey.

"Travel without fear wherever you want to go -- to China, Thailand, Indonesia, Turkey," said Frangialli.

In its latest barometer, the WTO said it estimated that "the latest outbreak of avian flu is not expected to have a serious effect on tourism in the country or the immediate region".

However, "the tourism industry must not underestimate the threat and needs to keep preparing for the worst should it occur", the WTO added.

The WTO quoted its special advisor Geoffrey Lipman as identifying the key objective as being to "prevent or at least mitigate the impact of what so far is still a limited disease".

Frangialli told AFP that, overall, "the outlook (for 2006) will depend on two factors, the evolution of bid flu and oil prices".

He also saluted the sector's resilience since the September 11 attacks on the United States.

"For four years the industry has been going through a turbulent period -- Iraq and the Mideast conflict have created a climate of uncertainty," he said, noting that terrorism had also been visited on large cities including Madrid, home to the WTO.

But "in 2005 international tourism sustained the sharp upturn that began in 2004 in spite of the various tragic events it had to contend" with, as the number of tourists rose a global 5.5 percent from the previous year.
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Old February 9th, 2006, 04:48 AM   #4
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Tourism rises above terror, natural disasters with bumper 2005

MADRID, Jan 24, 2006 (AFP) - Last year a record 808 million people visited a foreign country and the number of international tourists is set to double by 2020, the World Tourism Organization (WTO) said Tuesday.

"In 2005 international tourism sustained the sharp upturn that began in 2004 in spite of the various tragic events it had to contend" with, said the Madrid-based organisation, adding that tourism grew 5.5 percent from the previous year.

It hailed the sector's ability to withstand events such as the December 2004 tsunami and terrorist attacks, as well as the potential spread of new fears such as bird flu.

The number of international tourists this year was likely to rise by between four and five percent, said the WTO's secretary general Francesco Frangialli, who warned against sowing "unnecessary panic" regarding bird flu fears.

"Travel without fear wherever you want to go," Frangialli advised tourists.

France remained the most popular destination ahead of Spain, the United States and China although exact figures will not be available until the WTO publishes its mid-year bulletin in June, sources told AFP, adding Turkey now stood on the fringes of the top ten on a par with Germany and Mexico.

Despite a slew of natural disasters, such as Hurricane Katrina, and terrorist attacks, total arrivals rose 42 million on 2004 and 111 million on 2003, which saw the industry in something of a slump reflecting the effect on Asia of the respiratory ailment SARS.

"For four years the industry has been going through a turbulent period. The Iraq and Mideast conflict have created a climate of uncertainty," said Frangialli as he noted that terrorism had hit large urban centres, including European cities such as London and Madrid, while flooding, earthquakes and the December 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami had "all affected the industry."

But "we know from experience tourism can bounce back from setbacks," said Frangialli, who told AFP that "the outlook (for 2006) will depend on two factors -- the evolution of bid flu and oil prices."

Global arrivals are expected to hit one billion by 2010 and the 2020 projected forecast is 1.6 billion, double 2005.

That has prompted sustainability fears among environmentalists which the WTO sought to assuage, the WTO noting the issue "is a big concern for us as we see how international demand increases every year.

"The big question is how to manage the demand."

Africa saw a ten percent leap in arrivals across 2005, while Asia Pacific and the Middle East saw arrivals forge ahead by seven percent.

But Europe still attracted the lion's share with 443.9 million arrivals, the Asia Pacific region visited by 156.2 million, the Americas by 133.1 million, the Middle East by 38.4 million and Africa by 36.7 million.

Frangialli accepted that high oil prices were a potential damping factor as air fares rose in line.

"The price of a barrel of oil has risen considerably in the past five years and there is a limit," said the WTO head as he accepted that small tourist companies would struggle to take the strain.

But he added that in "real terms the price of a barrel is still below the 1980s and early 90s."

Regarding air travel, a sector hit hard since the September 11, 2001 attacks in the United States, the WTO revealed that latest International Association of Travel Agents (IATA) figures showed air traffic up eight percent in 2005, despite the threat to competitivity of rising fares fuelled by oil prices.

A factor, particularly in Europe but also in the United States and Asia, in air travel standing its ground is the rise in low-cost airlines, which have bolstered the market in countries such as Spain.
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Old February 9th, 2006, 04:48 AM   #5
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Africa showing the way as tourism soars in 2005

MADRID, Jan 24, 2006 (AFP) - In a healthy year for tourism Africa led the way in 2005 with a ten percent rise in arrivals, the continent attracting 36.7 million visitors, the World Tourist Organization said Tuesday.

"Africa was the only region in the world to have performed much better in 2005 than in 2004," the WTO noted in its just-released bulletin of tourist trends.

Nevertheless, Africa remained the world's least visited continent, with the Middle East region, for example, attracting 1.7 million more people.

Kenya turned in healthiest performance, showing with a 26 percent rise as tourists sought out new and exotic climes, unfazed by a year which had more than its share of natural and man-made disasters, the Madrid-based body said as it unveiled annual results for the industry.

Sub-Saharan Africa, although a prime source of emigration to Europe amid economic and political unrest, also proved a tourist magnet with an annualised rise of 13 percent.

South Africa was up a projected 11 pervent based on figures to August.

North African destinations likewise perfromed well, Tunisia attracting an eight percent rise in visitors with Morocco's five percent increase in line with the global annual trend of 5.5 percent.

That compared with an annualised rise for Europe of 4.3 percent, where EU membership candidate Turkey led the way on the back of a 20 percent increase in arrivals -- sufficient to take it to the fringes of the top ten most popular nations with around 20 million visitors.

The ten percent rise in visitors to Africa as a whole year on year compared with previous annual rises of 4.1 percent in 2002-2003 and 8.4 percent in 2003-2004.

Of the 36.7 million visitors in 2005, 23.1 million visited sub-Saharan nations with the remaining 13.6 million visiting north African states.

This year, visitors to the continent are forecast to rise 5.5 percent, which would "follow the world trend of more moderate growth in 2006," according to the WTO.

Losing out in 2005 following the devastation of the December 2004 tsunami was Sri Lanka, where the WTO noted a 79 percent drop in charter traffic through to November 2005, although scheduled traffic was up four percent.

The country suffered an overall drop of 0.4 percent according to as yet unofficial figures, with some beach resorts still undergoing renovations.

However, the small drop may be "in part attributed to the large number of Sri Lankan expatriates who visited the country in the aftermath of the tsunami and to the flow of aid workers," the WTO said.
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Old February 9th, 2006, 04:49 AM   #6
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Palestinian, Israeli pleas for peace through tourism

MADRID, Jan 29, 2006 (AFP) - Amid the political earthquake of Hamas' Palestinian election victory and calls by Arab leaders for the group to engage in dialogue with sworn enemy Israel has come an Israeli-Palestinian plea to use tourism as a "bridge to peace."

The call came at the International tourist trade fair (FITUR) in Madrid where Israeli and Palestinian officials are seeking to promote their territories jointly in the knowledge the Holy Land's sites, a tourist magnet and potential economic boon, straddle both.

"To develop tourism is to talk of and lay a foundation for peace. It's a bridge which unites us amid our various problems," said Sahar Rishmawi from the Palestinian ministry of tourism.

"We live from tourism -- it's in our common interest that it should develop for our common good," Rishmawi told AFP, adding that if Israelis and Palestinians could rise above the politics they could both prosper.

With both sides having last year engaged in joint promotion for the first time at FITUR, tourism took off in 2005, with visitors to the Palestinian territories from Spain alone rising more than threefold to some 17,000.

Russians are also increasingly turning their gaze to the region.

"The Orthodox Church is increasing links. The Holy Land is the Holy Land, and people don't care if it's a bit in Israel or in the Palestinian areas," according to Rishmawi.

"The effect of political change, such as we have seen this week, is difficult to guage right now but we are convinced that tourism is a key issue with regard to putting an end to this conflict," she told AFP, while scooping up some zatar paste and olive oil with pita bread.

"We don't need propaganda for people to come. They come for the religious history, pilgrimage, archaeology but also the sea, the desert. We have all kinds of attractions. Tourism is a Palestinian heritage."

Next door to the Palestinian delegation, Pinchas Millo of the Israeli ministry of tourism, asked for an observation on Hamas' triumph, readily acknowledged that "politics has a huge influence on tourism."

"How will things look in future? There's a big question mark -- it depends to an extent on who they appoint as their tourism minister.

"There will be a profound impact as they (Hamas) are not expert in running a country, so there's a long road ahead.

"I just so hope we can be pleasantly surprised," Millo said, saying he could only hope that a 29 percent annualised increase in visitors to Israel in 2005 would not turn out to be the high-water mark.

"If you consider the Holy Land as a 'product' you cannot draw borders," Millo insisted, pointing out that if Israeli tourism, slumped visits to Palestinian areas would likely suffer a similar decline.

"Look, Jesus went all around the region, didn't he? There's no point dividing it."

Tawfiq Afifi, an Arab-Israeli and deputy managing director of a Nazareth-based tour company, said he had to be optimistic.

"I think Hamas will eventually calm down and go along the right path. It may be next month or it may be 20 years -- but I think power will moderate them."
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Old February 10th, 2006, 05:04 PM   #7
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New Yorkers lending a hand to help boost New Orleans tourism
30 January 2006

NEW YORK (AP) - A delegation of 100 New York City government and civic leaders is going to New Orleans next month to help that city promote its tourism industry, still struggling in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

The group, including Jonathan Tisch, chairman of NYC & Co., the city tourism bureau; Tim Zagat, founder of the Zagat Survey which rates restaurants and other facilities; Deputy Mayor Dennis Walcott and Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe, will spend the weekend of Feb. 10-12 touring areas devastated by the hurricane, enjoying beignets and live music, and planting trees at City Park, New Orleans' largest regional park.

Tisch, chief executive of Loews Hotels, said tourists came to support New York after the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, and now New Orleans needs the same after being hit by the hurricane on Aug. 29.

"If there is to be a long-term, sustainable recovery in New Orleans, the local economy has to be rebuilt, and travel and tourism is at the cornerstone of that economy," he said.
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Old February 16th, 2006, 08:54 PM   #8
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Terror-scarred Bali gets 4 million dollars to revive sagging tourism

DENPASAR, Indonesia, Feb 16, 2006 (AFP) - Indonesia has released 37 billion rupiah (4.01 million dollars) in a first tranche of aid to help Bali revive tourism in the wake of suicide bombings last year, an official said Thursday.

Tourism to the resort island plummeted in the aftermath of October's triple suicide bombings, which killed 20 bystanders as well as the three bombers.

The funds, part of a total of 67 billion rupiah approved for Bali by the government to shore up the industry, were now being managed by the tourism ministry in Jakarta, Bali Tourism Board chairman Bagus Sudibya said.

"Although we lost momentum because it took four months for the funds to be released, we are going to work hard to start our programs to attract tourists back to Bali," Sudibya told AFP.

Board officials will use the funds to attend tourism events and roadshows abroad and bring foreign travel operators and writers to Bali in a bid to restore Bali's image as a "safe haven" for tourists, Sudibya said.

The money is also to be used for maintainance work on Bali's facilities and infrastructure for tourism, the main engine of the island's economy.

Some 84,000 foreign tourists flew to Bali in January 2006 compared to 101,000 in January the previous year, Sudibya said, adding that current conditions were still better than the aftermath of the October 2002 nightclub bombings which killed 202 people.

Tourism struggled for two years after those attacks before surging back to life.

Gde Restino, a T-shirt distributor in Bali's Sanur district was skeptical however that the money would be effectively used by the board.

"What's there to be restored? Many tourist sites here are in good shape. I think they will be better off giving the money as loans to improve small-scale businesses such as mine," he told AFP.
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Old February 17th, 2006, 05:04 AM   #9
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Tourism plan ruled out for Phi Phi island
Govt decision to keep Dasta away welcomed

17 February 2006
Bangkok Post

Krabi - Tsunami-ravaged Phi Phi island will not be redeveloped as a special, high-end tourism destination and its rehabilitation will be left in the hands of government agencies.

The decision, announced yesterday, was welcomed by local residents and business people.

It was reached at a meeting involving Krabi Governor Sonthi Techarat, PM's Office inspector-general Nathi Premrassami, about 200 local residents and business people and officials of the Interior Ministry's Public Works and Town and Country Planning Department.

Mr Sonthi announced that Koh Phi Phi will not be put under the Designated Area for Sustainable Tourism Administration (Dasta) as earlier planned.

Instead, government agencies would rebuild public utilities wrecked by the tsunami on Dec 26, 2004. For example, a cable would be laid to provide the island with electricity and modern desalinisation plants would provide fresh water.

The meeting agreed on town planning and 11 evacuation routes in case of a natural disaster. Local people agreed to allow government officials to use their land for development work on condition that the land must not be expropriated.

The signing of a land use agreement between land owners and various government officials was set for Feb 22.

"The idea of making Phi Phi a special area under Dasta was floated, for it could be a channel to bring in money to reconstruct tourist facilities on the island," Mr Sonthi said.

"However, the idea has been ruled out. Actual development work will be carried out by government units. Phi Phi will definitely not go under Dasta.

The governor's announcement drew loud applause from those at the meeting. Three previous meetings failed to reach any agreement.

Phi Phi was one of the places most heavily damaged by the tsunami.

There has been little progress in its rehabilitation other than for clearing wrecked buildings, although the Public Works and Town and Country Planning Department has drawn up a new town plan.

Residents were opposed to the government's plan to upgrade Phi Phi to a world-class tourist spot under Dasta. They feared it would help only business groups close to the government. Dasta is a public organisation headed by Plodprasop Suraswadi, assistant to the minister for natural resources and the environment.
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Old February 17th, 2006, 05:05 AM   #10
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Marriott CEO says visa rules sting U.S. tourism
By Michael Connor

BOCA RATON, Florida, Feb 16 (Reuters) - U.S. visa rules discourage foreign visits to the United States and contribute to a drop in America's share of global tourism, the head of Marriott International said on Thursday.

"We are losing market share as a country," J.W. Marriott said in an interview. "Our market share as a nation in the global economy in tracking tourists is down."

Marriott, chairman and chief executive of the global lodging group, said U.S. leaders such as Michael Chertoff, head of homeland security, and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice were being pressed on the matter.

"We are pushing for change," he said.

Marriott, whose firm last week reported a 25 percent rise in quarterly profit, said an especially high hurdle for many people wanting to visit the United States was a mandatory interview for a U.S. visa in the country from which they apply.

"In Brazil, there are only four offices that will process visas. That country is bigger than the United States," Marriott said. "People say, 'The heck with it. I'll go to France, or I'll go to Venezuela, or I'll go to the Caribbean, or I'll go somewhere else'."

Marriott, during a break at the Business Council meeting of blue-chip corporate leaders at a sea-side resort, said the decline in U.S. travel market share was substantial even as the number of visitors to the United States was increasing.

"The visa problem is a problem in a lot of countries," he said.

The U.S. government has promised to streamline and simplify the visa interviews, possibly relying in some instances on closed-circuit television links, Marriott said.

"They realize they've got a problem, and that's the first thing in solving a problem is realizing you've got one ... I think they are addressing this, but government moves very slowly," he said.

Asked about the outlook for his company, the operator of more than 2,700 lodging properties in 67 countries, Marriott said he expected room rates to rise again during 2006 as economic expansion in the United States and elsewhere continues.

"We expect RevPar, that's revenue per available room, to increase between 8 and 10 percent. About 75 percent to 80 percent of that will be pricing. Some it will be occupancy," he said.

Rates at Marriott, whose chains include Courtyard and Ritz-Carlton, would likely go up 6 to 7 percent during 2006, he said.

(Additional reporting by Nick Zieminski)
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Old February 17th, 2006, 06:29 PM   #11
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Hkskylines, do you actually read all the articles you post?
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Old February 17th, 2006, 07:28 PM   #12
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Yes, I skim through them really quickly and if they're of interest to me I'll read most of the text. Since I examine the newswires every day, it's the most effective and quickest way of going through all the articles.
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Old February 28th, 2006, 05:50 AM   #13
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Florida Reports Record Tourism
27 February 2006

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) - Tourists visited Florida in record numbers last year, apparently undeterred by four hurricanes that lashed the state and caused widespread damage, officials announced Monday.

Preliminary figures show 85.8 million people visited Florida in 2005 despite Hurricanes Dennis, Katrina, Rita and Wilma. That's 6 million more visitors than in 2004, or a 7.6 percent increase.

"Florida is amazingly resilient compared to other destinations. There is no state, and possibly no country, that is better equipped to deal with these storms," said Bud Nocera, president of Visit Florida, an agency that promotes tourism and travel.

Tourism, which employs nearly 1 million Floridians, bounced back after the storms because businesses reopened quickly, he said.

But not everyone was so upbeat. Hotelier Harris Rosen was skeptical about the new figures showing that more tourists had visited the state.

"Not only have we not seen them, we've seen significantly less," Rosen said, whose company owns six Orlando hotels.

American tourists counted for 79 million of Florida's visitors, while international travelers numbered 6.8 million, with nearly 2 million coming from Canada.
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Old March 1st, 2006, 02:06 AM   #14
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Tourism booms in Berlin with 6.5 million visitors in 2005

BERLIN, Feb 22, 2006 (AFP) - A record 6.46 million tourists visited Berlin in 2005, an increase of 9.1 percent compared to 2004, the German capital's statistics service said on Wednesday.

The number of foreign visitors also showed a strong rise last year, jumping to nearly two million, which represents an increase of 18.9 percent compared to 2004.

British nationals last year again headed the tourist rush to Berlin that began after the reunification of Germany in 1990, followed by US citizens.

The figures for Berlin were in line with a rise in the number of foreign visitors to Germany as a whole.

The federal statistics office said earlier this month that foreigners accounted for 48.2 million overnight stays in hotels and youth hostels in Germany in 2005, an increase of six percent on 2004.
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Old March 1st, 2006, 02:07 AM   #15
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Tourism in Turkey suffering from bird flu fears and Muslim protests

ISTANBUL, Feb 26, 2006 (AFP) - Fewer tourists are flocking to Turkey this winter season, scared off by an outbreak of the deadly bird flu virus and the violent protests by Muslims over publication in Europe of the Prophet Mohammed cartoons, tourism operators and officials say.

The number of foreigners visiting Turkey last month fell 4.7 percent to 667,000, compared with January 2005, according to government figures.

Even more disappointing, reservations for the summer season are down, according to hotel representatives and travel agents interviewed by AFP at a tourism conference in Istanbul on Friday.

Reservations have fallen "by 25 to 30 percent compared with last season," said Fusan Kayan, responsible for sales at the luxury hotel chain Marti, which is based in Marmaris in the west and Antalya in the south.

"The season has gotten off to a bad start," Yusuf Istanbullu, manager of the Orient Palace in Alanya in southern Turkey, lamented, reporting a 10 percent drop in reservations.

He blamed the decline on the recent tensions in Turkey with tens of thousands of Muslims protesting against the Mohammed cartoons first published in a Danish newspaper.

Before that in January, four people died after coming in contact with birds infected with the highly pathogenic H5NI strain of avian flu in eastern Turkey.

Tourism is a vital sector of the Turkish economy, representing 5.5 percent of the country's gross domestic product. The tourist industry brought in 18.15 billion dollars (14.9 billion euros) in 2005.

The Turkish minister of tourism and culture, Attila Koc, admitted that the goal of 26 million tourists in 2006, up from 20.5 million last year, may be out of reach.

"It's a risky goal, I know, but there has been some exaggeration concerning bird flu in our media, and tour operators have been able to book hotels in Turkey at half price," Koc told AFP.

The minister said that the spread of bird flu throughout Europe may lessen the negative consequences of the disease in Turkey, where there has not been any more cases of the virus in humans since mid-January.

Koc said he was counting on a revival of foreign visitors from the West and other regions such as Iran, Russia, Israel and China.

The minister also launched a campaign Friday to encourage Turks to spend their vacations in their homeland.

Despite the decline in demand from the European market, Koc said that did not mean tourists would stay away from Turkey, noting that last-minute reservations could make up for the lag.

"But there is going to be a drop in receipts per capita," he added.

That view was shared by Emre Kunda, manager of the Tusan Beach Resort in Kusadasi in western Turkey.

He said reservations were down between 20 and 30 percent from the Netherlands, Great Britain, and France where early booking is a common practice. But he added that the damage was being contained by last-minute reservations, which come with special reductions in price.

"We're going to extend our 15-percent reductions, normally reserved for early booking, until April or May," Kunda said.
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Old March 3rd, 2006, 04:37 AM   #16
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Tourists to Russia Fall by One-Sixth
Conor Humphries
3 March 2006
The Moscow Times

The slide in the number of foreign tourists visiting Russia appears to be accelerating, with the number of people entering the country on tourist visas falling by almost a half-million in 2005 to 2.3 million, according to government statistics released Thursday.

Last year's fall of around 17 percent follows a 9.2 percent decline in visitor numbers in 2004, according to the State Statistics Service, as tour operators struggle with spiraling prices, a lack of hotel space and the country's intractable image problem.

"We expected a fall, but we were still a little distressed because it is accelerating," said Irina Tyurina, a spokeswoman for the Russian Tourism Union, whose members claim two-thirds of the Russian market for incoming tourism.

Tourists are staying away mainly because of high prices, followed by a lack of modern tourist-class hotels and the country's poor image abroad, according to a poll by the union of 115 tour operators.

"The numbers are falling because these problems are not being solved," Tyurina said.

The union's member organizations say numbers of foreign visitors have fallen even more drastically than the official statistics show, by 20 to 25 percent in the last year, she said, adding that the government was doing little to help.

"The first problem is prices, and the government cannot control that -- but it is not even trying. Even with regard to monopolies like the railways and the high-profile museums that all tourists want to visit," Tyurina said.

To develop the industry, the government has proposed earmarking certain regions for tourism development, giving them the status of special economic zones that would benefit from state support. But it is far too early to say how successful this will be, Tyurina said.

The price of tours sold in the West has grown by 20 to 25 percent annually over the past two years, due to inflation and increasing hotel prices in Russia, said Sergei Sinitsyn, adviser to the chairman of Federal Tourism Agency, a body that answers to the prime minister.

Several well-known tourist hotels in the capital, such as the Moskva and Rossiya, have recently closed their doors, leaving few budget options for tour operators.

And while the product is becoming more expensive, the country's marketing budget is still paltry compared to with rivals.

Russia spends 3 million euros ($3.6 million) per year on advertising itself abroad as a tourist destination, according to the Federal Tourism Agency. Finland, by comparison, spent 26.5 million euros last year, while Mexico spent almost 120 million euros, according to the World Tourism Organization.

One issue clouding the figures is the fact that official statistics measure the number of foreigners arriving in the country on tourist visas, thus including any unscrupulous businesspeople traveling as tourists.

According to the State Statistics Service, the total number of foreigners entering the country was unchanged last year, with the number of foreigners entering on business visas up by 18.4 percent.

Although business travelers on a short stay occasionally use tourist visas, the practice used to be more common, and there have been no recent changes in visa procedures that would have affected the latest numbers, said Sergei Kostin of visa agency RBV Consulting.
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Old March 4th, 2006, 05:54 PM   #17
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Tourism in Bali still stagnant five months after blasts
Luh Putu Trisna Wahyuni , The Jakarta Post, Denpasar
4 March 2006

Balinese involved in the tourist industry are increasingly worried about the imminent threat of massive layoffs due to the drastic drop in tourist arrivals on the island.

Four months after Bali was rocked by suicide bombings on Oct. 1, 2005, the tourist industry has yet to bounce back.

An average of 2,000 foreign and domestic tourists have arrived on Bali daily over the past two months, a far cry from normal times when there is an average of 4,000 tourist arrivals daily.

As a result, the hotel occupancy rate in Bali has dropped to as low as 30 percent. A number of hotels cannot even reach breakeven, let alone gain profits, thus jeopardizing the jobs of thousands of workers.

A number of cafes and restaurants in the Nusa Dua area have closed recently due to sluggish business.

A former employee of Bale Banjar restaurant in Nusa Dua, Ngurah Pinda, who had lost his job when the restaurant closed, said that he was resigned to his fate.

"We couldn't do anything because the cafe could only earn Rp 3 million (US$300) a day, while overhead costs reached Rp 15 million per day," he said.

The drop in tourist arrivals has also affected the handicraft business, threatening the future of at least 3,000 small and medium scale enterprises. Thousands of taxi drivers are also forced to park their cabs on the roadside due to the scarcity of passengers.

"There are very few passengers now. We sometimes can't even get enough money to buy gasoline," said Made Artana, a taxi driver.

Kuta and Sanur beaches are deserted, with only a few tourists passing by.

Data at the Bali Legislative Council shows that the lowest number of tourist arrivals was on Jan. 10, 2006, with 1,986 tourists, while the highest number was on Jan. 28, with 4,108 tourists. Only 2,140 tourists visited Bali on Feb. 14, despite it being Valentine's Day, while the highest number of tourists in February was on Feb. 1 at 4,087.

"Bali is not befitting from the recognition of it being 'the best island destination in the world'," said council member, Nyoman Budiarta, adding that the problem has been exacerbated by the absence of a definite calendar of events in Bali.

Beratha Ashrama from the Bali chapter of the Indonesian Chamber of Commerce (Kadin) acknowledged that the low tourist arrivals following the disturbances showed that tourism in Bali was very vulnerable.

"Tourism in Bali cannot remain steady amid disturbances, it is fragile, as is evident from the drop in tourist arrivals triggered by the bomb attacks and the bird flu scare."

The drop in the number of tourist arrivals throughout the country in 2005 was also acknowledged by Minister of Culture and Tourism Jero Wacik. He disclosed that only five million foreign tourists visited Indonesia in 2005 from a targeted six million.

Wacik warned that the battered tourism industry in Bali would have a severe impact on the economic and banking sectors. Of the Rp 9.7 trillion worth of loans extended to businesses in Bali, Rp 3.7 trillion went to the tourism sector.

"I'm aware that this is a very difficult year, especially when the hotel occupancy rate has dropped drastically. I have discussed the matter with the governor of Bank Indonesia and he has agreed to reschedule loan payments to 2007, on the assumption that conditions would have improved by next year," said Wacik.

According to Wacik, the measure was also taken to prevent mass layoffs in the tourism sector.

In response to the Bali Recovery Fund program, in which the central government had provided funds to revive the tourism sector in Bali, Minister Wacik acknowledged that a large portion of the funds would be allocated for promotional and security campaigns.

He added that officials from the ministry and Bali provincial administration would tour countries, such as Australia, Japan, China and European countries to promote Bali and other places in Indonesia as alternative tourist destinations, besides inviting foreign journalists to cover tourism destinations and organize a number of international events for promotional purposes.

Stakeholders in Bali's tourism sector have agreed to sit together with the central government, provincial administration, Kadin and tour operators from various provinces to discuss measures to develop sustainable tourism. The meeting will discuss measures to establish a tourist industry that could remain stable despite disturbances, such as in the case of Pattaya, Thailand, where tourism was able to recover soon after the tsunami.
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Old March 8th, 2006, 02:19 AM   #18
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Louisiana unveils celebrity-studded tourism campaign
By STACEY PLAISANCE
7 March 2006

NEW ORLEANS (AP) - The state rolled out a star-studded, $7 million advertising campaign Tuesday aimed at luring tourists back to Louisiana and boosting the sluggish economy along the state's coast, which was ravaged last year by hurricanes Katrina and Rita.

Chef Emeril Lagasse, professional golfer David Toms, actor John Goodman and musicians Wynton Marsalis and Allen Toussaint are among the celebrities with Louisiana connections appearing in a television commercial that both thanks Americans for their hurricane recovery efforts and asks that they return to enjoy the state's unique culture, arts, food and music.

"Come for the people. Come for beignets," says actress Patricia Clarkson, a New Orleans native who most recently played a role in the Oscar-nominated movie "Good Night, and Good Luck," directed by George Clooney.

Called "Fall in Love with Louisiana All Over Again," the campaign consists of a commercial and half-dozen print ads unveiled by Lt. Gov. Mitch Landrieu. Landrieu said the celebrities donated their time and images for the campaign.

"This is the first installment," Landrieu said. The $7 million only covers the first phase of the effort to reach out to fellow Americans, "thank them for what they've done and invite them to come back."

There wasn't enough money to air the commercials nationally, so they will be concentrated in large nearby markets, including Atlanta, Little Rock, and San Antonio, Austin, Dallas and Houston in Texas, said Angele Davis, secretary of the state Department of Culture, Recreation and Tourism.

"We're hoping for Congressional relief dollars to help expand the campaign," Davis said.

The print ads will be in dozens of major newspapers and magazines, including "Food and Wine" and "Essence," Davis said. They depict various cultural elements from Louisiana. Lagasse can be seen standing on a dock holding a large fish with a trawling boat in the background.

Many of the ads depict New Orleans, where 60 percent of the state's pre-Katrina tourism business was concentrated, Davis said. There's John Goodman tipping his hat from a New Orleans streetcar and Allen Toussaint sitting at a piano on a French Quarter sidewalk.

"These ads get the message across that many of the cultural elements are intact," Davis said, adding that the timing for the campaign coincides with the recent availability of hotel rooms.

Katrina flooded 80 percent of New Orleans and much of the city remains a mess. Demolition of the worst-damaged homes in the hard hit lower Ninth Ward and Lakeview areas only began this week.

But the campaign stresses the areas of the city that have largely bounced back.

Wendy Rodrigue, wife of famous "Blue Dog" artist George Rodrigue, said her husband participated to spread the word that the parts of New Orleans tourists love, particularly the French Quarter, are fine and ready for tourists.

The Rodrigues just moved back into their New Orleans home about a week ago, Wendy Rodrigue said. The couple had evacuated to Lafayette and Carmel, Calif., while their home was being repaired from storm damage.

"It feels so good to be back," she said. "George was so honored to be a part of this."
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Old March 9th, 2006, 05:12 PM   #19
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A dozen unusual U.S. destinations suggested for tourists
By CARL HARTMAN
8 March 2006

WASHINGTON (AP) - People looking for a new vacation spot might try one of 12 unusual places reachable without a passport, such as Lewes, Del., called "the first town in the first state," a town whose history goes back 375 years.

The suggestion comes from the National Trust for Historic Preservation, which, each year starting in 2000, has named a "Dozen Distinctive Destinations" appealing to tourists' taste for historic places.

Swedish and Finnish settlers came to Delaware in 1638, a few years after the Dutch, who had established a settlement at what is now Lewes. Seventeen years later the Swedes seized a Dutch fort and the Dutch drove them out. A few years later the British drove out the Dutch and named the town after the county seat of East Sussex.

Delaware was the first of the 13 colonies to ratify the Constitution, becoming the first U.S. state.

Except for Waimea on Hawaii's Kaua'i island, where historic sites are half a millennium older, the destinations don't call for expensive trans-ocean travel. Kaua'i, the first Hawaiian Island sighted by Capt. James Cook, boasts a canyon almost as deep as the Grand Canyon, a Russian fort and a huge irrigation ditch the Polynesians dug in the 1200s.

Every year since 2000 the National Trust for Historic Preservation names a "Dozen Distinctive Destinations" appealing to tourists' taste for historic places.

The National Trust's 2006 list starts with Arrow Rock, Mo. It's on a bluff high above the Missouri River, with grand views of the great stream and well preserved houses from the early 1800s, when the Lewis and Clark expedition traveled west on the river to explore the far reaches of the newly purchased Louisiana territory.

Other suggestions:

--Monterey, Calif., once the Spanish and Mexican capital of the region, site of a huge aquarium and the setting for John Steinbeck's "Cannery Row"

--Palm Springs, Calif., an oasis known for its famous residents, its climate and jet-set life style.

--Bartlesville, Okla., enriched by an early oil strike, boasting the only skyscraper designed by Frank Lloyd Wright.

--Bowling Green, Ky., with notable Civil War sites and an old cavern where outlaws and soldiers hid.

--Milwaukee, Wis., the U.S. beer-making capital, home of a famous art museum and zoo and a deep German tradition.

--Philipsburg, Mont., a mining tradition in a beautiful landscape, the state's oldest operating school, jail and opera house.

--Prescott, Ariz., born overnight when gold was discovered, celebrating the wild West and Native Americans in its museums.

--Saranac Lake, N.Y., a health resort since the early 1800s, amid lakes, mountains and evergreen forests.

--West Chester, Pa., an old Quaker village with brick sidewalks and period architecture.

This year's destinations were chosen from 93 nominated in 39 states. If additional ideas are needed, the Trust has 72 others it has named in earlier lists.


On the Net: National Trust for Historic Preservation: http://www.nationaltrust.org/
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Old March 10th, 2006, 04:48 AM   #20
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Tourism in and out of booming Ireland keeps growing, statisticians report
9 March 2006

DUBLIN, Ireland (AP) - Tourism into Ireland keeps growing, the government's Central Statistics Office reported Thursday, but overseas tourism from this economically booming land is growing even faster.

The latest figures for the traditionally slow October-December quarter showed tourism reaching new highs in both directions. The report said 1,574,000 people traveled into the Republic of Ireland over the quarter, a 10 percent increase on 2004. The number of visitors from Europe shot up 33 percent, while visitors from the United States and Canada declined 9 percent.

But the figures showed that Ireland's increasingly affluent society was traveling at unprecedented levels. The report said 1,316,000 took trips outside Ireland, nearly a third of the country's entire population and an 11 percent gain on 2004.

The report said the number of people on flights to continental Europe rose 17 percent, while travel to Britain rose 7 percent. But the figures pointed to trouble for ferry services, with a 24 percent drop in outbound passengers.

The Irish also were bigger spenders, on average, than their visitors. The report said tourists to Ireland spent €929 million (US$1.1 billion) here, while a smaller number of Irish people managed to spend €1.035 billion (US$1.278 billion) abroad.
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