#Philippines to rein in visitors to Boracay island, strained by tourism

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The Philippines will limit the number of visitors setting foot on its
most treasured island resort each day when it reopens to tourists on
October 26 after a six-month rehabilitation effort, an environment
official said on Wednesday.
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Boracay, located off the northern tip of the central island of Panay,
is famed for its sugary white sands, turquoise waters, lively nightlife
and abundant water sports, which attracted nearly 2 million domestic
and foreign visitors last year.
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But in April, President Rodrigo Duterte ordered the closure of the
island, calling it a “cesspool”, because of sewage dumped into the sea
and buildings constructed too close to the shore.
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About a third of the 600 to 700 resorts on Boracay, about 308 km (192
miles) from Manila, the capital, were operating without permits,
authorities found.
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Just 19,000 tourists will be allowed on the island on any given day,
with the number of workers capped at 15,000 daily, the environment
official, Sherwin Rigor, said in a television interview.
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 Only half of the island’s 12,000 existing hotel rooms will be allowed
to open each day, he added, to ensure the number of guests on the tiny
10-sq-km (4-sq-mile) island is below its “carrying capacity” of 55,000.
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Rigor, who is an undersecretary at the Department of Environment and
Natural Resources, added that authorities would ban beachfront parties,
and activities such as eating, smoking and drinking there.
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The closure of Boracay, which earns the Philippines more than a
billion dollars in tourism revenue every year, weighed on gross domestic
product in the second quarter. Growth slowed to a near three-year low
of 6 percent in April-June.
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Source – TheJakartaPost
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Asia’s largest railway station being built in #Beijing

Fengtai Railway Station

The reconstruction work on Beijng’s Fengtai Railway Station, the capital’s oldest, has recently begun, and it is expected to result in Asia’s largest railway station, the peoplerail.com reported on Tuesday.

Authorities have diverted the Beijing-Guangzhou railway line, which normally passes through the station, as of Monday night to facilitate the new construction.

Dating back to the year 1898, the Beijing Fengtai Railway Station, located at Zhengyang Avenue in Fengtai District of southern Beijing, used to be a small comprehensive railway station incorporating passenger trains and freight trains.

The station has been closed for passenger service since June 2010, ending a running history as long as 115 years.

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According to its contractor China Railway Construction Engineering Group, the new station will have seven floors with four floors aboveground and three floors underground. Covering an area of 398,800 square kilometers, it will accommodate a maximum of 14,000 passengers. Subway lines 10 and 16 will be linked to the station to bring more convenience to travelers.

The reconstruction work is set to finish in 2020, when the railway station is expected to become the biggest in Asia and a major transportation hub. It will serve high-speed trains on the Beijing-Guangzhou, Beijing-Kowloon and Beijing-Shijiazhuang lines, and will provide suburban railway services.

The station will also help ease the capital’s traffic burden, facilitate transportation to Xiongan New Area, and better promote the integration of the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region.

Source – TheJakartaPost

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#Malaysia – 5 ways to get around Kuala Lumpur

Kuala Lumpur hotels 21-8

When it comes to getting around the city of Kuala Lumpur, travelers have several options of getting around. Whether it’s by train or taxi, transportation around the city is relatively hassle-free.

Here are some transport suggestions for getting around KL.

Train

With the recent completion of the Mass Rapid Transit (MRT), more parts of KL are now connected by rail. Apart from the MRT, other rail service include the Light Rail Transit (LRT), monorail and KTM Komuter.

The trains in the city pass through iconic attractions such as KLCC, Central Market and Muzium Negara.

If you’re on a long visit, consider purchasing the Touch ‘N’ Go card or weekly passes for cheaper fares. The card can be used on all trains, as well as RapidKL buses.

Bus

Travelling by bus in the city is a generally comfortable experience these days. Most of them are fully air conditioned and they get you to popular tourist attractions as well as quaint neighbourhoods. Look out for the free purple Go KL buses within the central business district that run along popular sites and famous shopping districts. You can also travel further on the RapidKL buses.

Go KL City Bus is a free bus service that serving the city centre of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

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Taxi

Taxi is probably one of the most convenient ways to travel from one place to another in KL. Always insist on using the metre – do not be duped into haggling for a price.

According to the Land Public Transport Commission, regular budget taxis (usually painted in red and white, or red and blue) charge RM3 for the first three minutes. Subsequent distance or time are charged at RM0.25 every 200m or 36 seconds.

Blue cabs (Teksi Eksekutif) and gold cabs (Teks1M) are better for large groups, but they do charge a higher fee.

Taxis queue along KL Sentral in the city. Photo: The Star

Self drive

KL is a big city and having a car would allow travellers to get to surrounding townships such as Petaling Jaya or Shah Alam in Selangor easily. There are plenty of car rental options available online or at the airport. Driving in the city is generally safe. You might want to avoid peak hours though when traffic congestion can set you back an hour on average.

Driving around KL is relatively breezy, just be sure to avoid rush hours! Photo: The Star

Ride hailing

Malaysia actually has a few ride-hailing options, with Grab being one of the more popular options among locals. Utilising the service is as easy as downloading an app. The downside is you would need mobile data or WiFi to operate the service. But that shouldn’t be an issue as more people are connected on their travels these days.

You can also book taxis, trains, and more …  on some of these apps.

#Bangkok – Khaosan vendors to ‘disobey’ orders from Monday

Khaosan Road vendors will resort to “civil
disobedience” from Monday if Bangkok authorities do not allow them to
sell their wares during daylight hours, a leader of the Khaosan Road
Street Vendors Association said.

“We will defy the order and set our stalls up at the usual time,” Yada Pornpetrumpa said. 

The vendors are also planning to march to the capital’s City Hall at
around 11.30am on Monday to seek permission to sell their wares during
the day.

The Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) banned street vendors from
trading during daytime since August 1. Though the BMA is coming up with
a new regulation to allow trading from 4pm to midnight, vendors at
present can only conduct their business from 6pm. 
https://12go.asia/?z=581915

 This time limit has meant a huge drop in income for daytime traders,
largely because they have to hand their stalls over at 8pm to vendors
who sell at night, Yada explained. 


“It’s like we set our stalls up for nothing. Now, we [daytime vendors] make only Bt500 or Bt1,000 daily,” she added. 

According to the 1992 Public Cleanliness and Orderliness Act, vending on
the street is illegal. However, since Khaosan Road is known the world
over for its vibrant street market, the City Hall decided to draft a
municipal order allowing vendors to take over the Khaosan Road footpaths
from 4pm to midnight. 

Khaosan vendors, however, said this order would cripple vendors who make
a living by selling trinkets to backpackers and Chinese tourists during
the daytime. 
Source – TheNation

 

#Indonesia – Tourist exodus from Lombok as quake toll hits 98

Lombok Exodus

Mataram, Indonesia – Terrified holidaymakers rushed for boats and planes to leave Indonesia’s Lombok island Tuesday after it suffered a second deadly quake within a week, while rescuers struggled to reach hard-hit areas where survivors are in urgent need of food and shelter.

    The shallow 6.9-magnitude quake killed at least 98 people and destroyed thousands of buildings in Lombok on Sunday, just days after another deadly tremor surged through the holiday island and killed 17.

    Rescuers on Tuesday resumed the search for survivors, and to recover the bodies of victims in the rubble of houses, mosques and schools destroyed in the latest disaster.

    More than 20,000 people are believed to have been made homeless on Lombok, with 236 severely injured, and authorities have appealed for more medical personnel and basic supplies.

    Emergency crews were Tuesday working through the wreckage of a collapsed mosque in the northern village of Lading-Lading, where authorities fear a number of people are trapped.

    At least one body has been recovered from the rubble of the mosque, which was reduced to a pile of concrete and metal bars, with its towering green dome folded in on itself.

Some 4,600 tourists have been evacuated from the Gili Islands, three tiny, coral-fringed tropical islands that lie off the northwest coast of Lombok and are popular with backpackers and divers.

Hundreds crowded onto its powder-white beaches on Monday, desperately awaiting transport off the normally paradise destination. Seven Indonesian holidaymakers died on the largest of the three, Gili Trawangan.

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Margret Helgadottir, a holidaymaker from Iceland, described people screaming as the roof of her hotel on one of the islands collapsed.

“We just froze: thankfully we were outside,” she told AFP tearfully from a harbour in Lombok to where she had been evacuated. “Everything went black, it was terrible.”

Hundreds of weary tourists continued to arrive with their baggage at Bangsal harbour, the main link between Lombok and the Gilis, on Tuesday.

Some said they felt stranded and complained about a lack of coordination and affordable transport to the tourist hub of Senggigi or Lombok’s airport, where dozens slept on the floor overnight awaiting flights out.

“There’s a massive rush of people wanting to get out of Lombok because of unfounded rumours, such as of a tsunami,” Muhammad Faozal, the head of the tourism agency in West Nusa Tenggara province, told AFP.

“We can help tourists to get to the airport but of course we can’t buy them tickets for free,” he said, adding that authorities were providing free accommodation, food and transport to those in need.

Lombok airport’s general manager said airlines had been laying on extra flights since Monday and that his staff had been providing stranded passengers with blankets and snacks.

“We have been doing our best to manage the tourists flocking the airport,” he told AFP. “We are doing our best so we can fly out as many as possible.”

Immigration authorities said that seven foreigners — from Belgium, Britain, Czech Republic, Denmark, France, South Korea and the United States — were injured in the quake and are being treated in hospital.

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Sunday’s shallow tremor sent thousands of residents and tourists scrambling outdoors in Lombok, where many spent the night as strong aftershocks including one of 5.3-magnitude rattled the island.

The quake knocked out power in many areas and parts of the island and remained without electricity on Tuesday.

A lack of heavy equipment and shattered roads have hampered efforts to reach survivors in the mountainous north and east of the island, which had been hardest hit.

Najmul Akhyar, the head of North Lombok district, estimated that 80 percent of that region was damaged by the quake.

Hundreds of bloodied and bandaged victims have been treated outside damaged hospitals in the main city of Mataram and other badly affected areas.

Patients lay on beds under wards set up in tents, surrounded by drip stands and monitors, as doctors in blue scrubs attended to them.

“What we really need now are paramedics, we are short-staffed. We also need medications,” Supriadi, a spokesman for Mataram general hospital, told AFP on Monday.

Indonesia, one of the world’s most disaster-prone nations, straddles the so-called Pacific “Ring of Fire”, where tectonic plates collide and many of the world’s volcanic eruptions and earthquakes occur.

In 2014, a devastating tsunami triggered by a magnitude 9.3 undersea earthquake off the coast of Sumatra in western Indonesia killed 220,000 people in countries around the Indian Ocean, including 168,000 in Indonesia.

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#Laos – Buddha Park Vientiane Undergoes Makeover

Buddha Park Vientiane 1

Vientiane Capital’s Buddha Park (Wat Xiengkhuan) has just received a makeover. How refreshing!

Visitors will now be able to stroll around the park in clean, paved cement pathways as they enjoy the breathtaking sights of the amazing sculpture park with more than 200 religious statues. Travelers will also appreciate the improved lawn and gardening work made within the vicinity. Upgrades are soon to be made to the front parking area as well.

According to many tourists, the ideal place for a great Instagrammable photo-op is from the top of the giant gourd structure which is approximately three stories high. The entrance is designed to resemble a demon’s mouth (about three meters high) with a stone ladder inside leading to a magnificent view of the entire park.

Buddha Park Vientiane 2

According to Visit-Laos.com, Buddha Park Vientiane was built in 1958 by Luang Pu Bunleua Sulilat, a monk who studied both Buddhism and Hinduism. This explains why his park is full not only of Buddha images but also of Hindu gods as well as demons and animals from both belief systems.

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The most outstanding ones include Indra, the king of Hindu gods riding the three-headed elephant (also known as Erawan and Airavata), a four-armed deity sitting on a horse and an artistic deity with 12 faces and multiple hands, each holding interesting objects. They are all equally impressive not only because of their enormous size but because they are full of fascinating details and interesting motifs.

Buddha Park Vientiane 3

Recommended by Laotian Times

 

China – Overseas tourists to Hainan on the rise

China - Overseas tourists to Hainan on the rise

China’s southern island province of Hainan received 946,000 overseas tourists in the first six months, close to the annual figure of 1.1 million for 2017 thanks to its new visa-free policy, which is yielding positive results since its launch in May, China News Agency reported Monday.

On May 1, the island province started to offer greater visa-free access for tourists from 59 countries to Hainan, expanding from 26 countries previously.

The policy has also boosted the growth of the local aviation industry. In the first half of this year, Hainan opened and resumed 12 international flight routes, increasing the total number of routes to 53.

To date, Hainan has opened air routes with 34 countries among the 59 that enjoy the visa-free policy, such as Italy, Australia, Russia, Japan and countries in Southeast Asia.

HNA airport group, a subsidiary of the Haikou-based Fortune Global 500 company HNA Group, which owns the four airports in Hainan, plans to open 20 international routes with visa-free countries later this year, including to London and St Petersburg.

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“Hainan should launch more tourism products that fit the foreign tourism market, and stabilize tourism product prices during its bleak and peak seasons, and build up the comprehensive strength of its tourism industry,” said Ge Jian, deputy secretary-general for the organization for European and Asian Economic Cooperation.

In 2017, more than 1.1 million foreign tourists visited Hainan, up nearly 50 percent year-on-year. By 2020, the number of overseas tourists to Hainan is expected to exceed 2 million.

The island province recently released a three-year action plan (2018-2020) to enhance the global influence of its tourism sector. According to the plan, Hainan is going to boost its international flight routes to 70 by the end of 2018, and the number will be increase to 100 by 2020.

Measures such as building a global duty-free shopping center and a base for the international MICE (Meetings, Incentives, Conferencing and Exhibitions) industry on the island are also expected to bring in more passengers.

Source – China-Daily

Ps.

Hainan is an island province of China and the nation’s southernmost point. It’s known for its tropical climate, beach resorts and forested, mountainous interior. The southern city of Sanya has many beaches that range from 22km-long Sanya Bay to crescent Yalong Bay and its luxury hotels. Outside Sanya, the hilly hiking trails of Yanoda Rainforest Cultural Tourism Zone pass over suspension bridges and by waterfalls.