The Golden Triangle: Thailand, Laos and Myanmar — Bryce Caster’s Blog

New post on my trip to the famed opium-producing triple border of Thailand, Laos and Myanmar. I visit all three in one wild day. Click here to read about it.

via The Golden Triangle: Thailand, Laos and Myanmar — Bryce Caster’s Blog

‘They told people not to come’: #Australia’s bushfires ravage tourism industry

Pillars of fire and smoke from bushfires are tarnishing Australia’s reputation for pristine vistas abounding in wildlife and wreaking havoc on tourism, operators say, as authorities are forced to cancel concerts, close parks and evacuate towns.The smoke has shrouded entire cities and driven air quality to unhealthy levels, with at least 10 people dying in the fires in the past week, while colonies of animals such as koalas and flying foxes have been destroyed.

“Seeing all the images of fires on television and social media is not going to help, it puts a dent in Australia’s reputation as a safe tourist destination,” said Shane Oliver, chief economist at AMP Capital.

“It’s come at a time when the economy was already fragile,” he added, ranking tourism as Australia’s fourth biggest export whose strength officials had been counting on to help offset a domestic reluctance to spend.

Bushfires burning for weeks near the world heritage site of the Blue Mountains west of Sydney in the southeastern state of New South Wales have driven away tourists.

As visitors take to social media to warn others to steer clear, the number of busloads of tourists each day has fallen to about four from 15 or 20, said Stacey Reynolds, a receptionist at the Blue Mountains Backpacker Hostel in Katoomba.

“They told people not to come in and it’s affected everything, from restaurants to motels to backpackers to cafes,” she added. “The streets are empty.”

Although there is no published nationwide data on tourism since the fires took hold in late spring, Australia attracted 2.71 million holiday makers last summer, up 3.2% from the previous year, as many fled the northern hemisphere winter.

Hotels in the largest city of Sydney saw a fall of 10% in guest numbers in December, the Accommodation Association of Australia said.

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“The fires and the smoke have had a real brand and reputational damage in Sydney,” added its chief executive, Dean Long.The train and cable network of Scenic World in the Blue Mountains had 50,000 fewer visitors in December, down 50% from last year, Chief Experience Officer Amanda Byrne said.

Scenic World was open, but the hotels around the area are having more cancellations than bookings, she said.

Government agency Tourism Australia, which released a new advertisement last month to lure Britons to beautiful beaches and stunning scenery, did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The scorching temperatures and bushfires, which have also burnt vineyards in South Australia and warmed the usually cool island state of Tasmania, will hit the sector hard, said Judith Mair, who studies tourism, environment and consumer behavior.

“It will be in stages – immediately with evacuations, dislocations and cancellations, but also in the longer term, because tourists buy holidays based on the image of a destination and Australia’s is being badly affected,” said Mair, a professor at the University of Queensland Business School.

Hundreds of national parks in the southeastern states of New South Wales and Victoria, thronged by 100 million visitors a year, have closed.

With fires burning nearby, Christopher Warren, co-proprietor of a bed and breakfast in Kangaroo Valley in New South Wales, said he had to evacuate his guests.

“The worst-case scenario is that we would be hit by a fire and our business would be destroyed,” said Warren, who saw the best case as a loss of income exceeding A$80,000 ($56,048), through the disruption of three of his busiest months.

Paul Mackie, who uses AirBnB to rent out an apartment on Sydney’s Bondi Beach to British and European tourists in the peak summer holiday period was hit by last-minute cancellations.

“I had bookings for the whole of this period going for the next couple of months, but a lot have cancelled because they said they saw the news of the fires,” Mackie added.

AirBnB declined to comment.

A Sydney airport spokesman said it did not have recent statistics on whether the fires were hitting arrival. A Qantas spokeswoman declined to comment on whether the wildfires had hurt bookings.

The fires have spotlighted Australia’s environment policies, criticized most recently at a U.N. summit in Madrid, said Susanne Becken, a professor of sustainable tourism at Griffith University in Queensland.

“The government’s response to the climate crisis does not bode well…and this is not good for tourism,” 

Source – TheJakartaPost

 

#Cambodia – Beating the heat at mango plantation waterfall in Battambang

The relaxation begins as soon as you see the blossoming yellow flowers lining the road leading up to the mango plantation.
 
Passing through a large entrance with a sign saying “Welcome to Mango Plantation Waterfall Resort”, visitors drive down a wide road that dissects rows of thousands of mango trees dominating the landscape of Battambang province’s Samlot district.
 
The main attraction at Chamkar Svay Waterfall Resort, as it is known in Khmer, is the river running through it, where visitors sit in gazebos eating and relaxing along its banks.
 
“This resort attracts people since it is not developed. They love swimming and eating on mats, as well as relaxing until dusk before they go home,” Monn Mika, 52, the resort’s owner, told The Post.
 
“I initially began planting mango trees without thinking about creating a resort. But with the mountainous water flow I thought it could be a tourism attraction. So I began developing it step-by-step until it started attracting many people.
 
Situated next to 87ha of land that after two years is entirely cultivated with mango trees, Chamkar Svay Waterfall Resort now welcomes hundreds of visitors daily who bathe in the river that flows from Chambang Mountain.
 
Sok Theary, a visitor with two friends from Samlot town on a recent Sunday, praised the resorts “beautiful and cold water”. 
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Visitors can also order fresh food at the riverside, including roast chicken, roast fish, stir-fry or soup, as well as many appetisers and snacks, with prices ranging from 10,000 riel to 50,000 riel ($2.50 to $12.50).
 
Visitors are also welcome to camp in the mango plantation.
 
“Guests who come here do not only just swim in the natural river and explore the mango plantation, they can also go camping. We serve food and there is a cleanliness charge of $1.00 or $2.00 per person,” said Mika.
 
Mika said that in the dry season, the stream’s flow is lower and exposes many of the rocks on the riverbed for people to sit on. But in the rainy season, the river’s flow increases and people can enjoy bathing. 
 
“I pay much attention to cleanliness. I tell all staff to clean the rubbish daily so it doesn’t impact visitors and keeps the environment clean.
 
“My current main job is to take care of the plantation and resort, so I keep making the place more attractive, and me and my wife plan to buy boats for visitors,” he said.
 
Chamkar Svay Waterfall Resort is located in Sambout district’s Prey Sdao village, some 80km from Battambang town or 7km from Sek Sak Tourism Resort. Visitors pay 10,000 riel to bring their car into the resort.
Source – PhnomPhenPost
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#Bangkok leads ranking of top travel destinations during Lunar New Year

Bangkok has emerged the most popular destination for travelers in
Asia-Pacific during the Lunar New Year period, the world’s largest
annual human migration, which is currently underway. 
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The Thai capital reclaimed the top spot this year as the most popular
travel destination in online booking platform Agoda’s list of top
spring festival destinations 2019, knocking last year’s winner Tokyo to
second spot, followed by Taipei. 
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The results are based on hotel booking data on Lunar New Year dates for 2019. 
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This year, it’s estimated that Chinese travelers will undertake
nearly three billion trips by car, train and plane in the 40-day period
between January 21 and March 1, an increase of 0.6 percent from 2018. 
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On February 5, China, South Korea, Vietnam, Taiwan, Mongolia,
Indonesia and Malaysia will celebrate the lunar new year and usher in
the year of the pig, the 12th and last position on the Chinese zodiac. 
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In general, Pigs are born in the years 1935, 1947, 1959, 1971, 1983, 1995, 2007 and 2019. 
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https://www.hotelscombined.com/?a_aid=145054
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 Here are the top 10 most popular travel destinations according to Agoda:  

1. Bangkok, Thailand

2. Tokyo, Japan

3. Taipei, Taiwan

4. Hong Kong

5. Kaohsiung, Taiwan

6. Osaka, Japan

7. Taichung, Taiwan

8; Sapporo, Japan

9. Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

10. Singapore

Source – TheJakartaPost
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Queue No More: Vientiane’s Thai Consulate Visa Appointment Applications Go Online

Visa online

Visa applications to Thailand from Laos via Vientiane are set to get a shakeup with the introduction of an online appointment system, Thailand’s Embassy has confirmed.

Long queues into the Thai consulate in Vientiane are set to become a thing of the past, with all appointments to be made online and walk-ins refused.

Information on the system is set to be released on embassy channels January 28, and come into effect on February 1.

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Apart from saving time, money and streamlining operations in a general sense, the move is set to make the biggest difference in summer, when rising temperatures have occasionally been known to fray tempers and sanity among the queuing applicants of multiple nationalities, many of whom are frequent travelers to or foreign residents of Thailand on “visa runs”, as well as those persons based in Laos seeking visas permitting more than two trips per year overland to the near neighbor via Friendship Bridge.

Visa update

For those folk wistfully nostalgic about their time spent waiting for a visa appointment in the consulate queue, be sure to make it down in this splendid weather for old times sake.

Source – laotiantimes

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#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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FOR THE BEST GLOBAL HOTEL & FLIGHT BOOKINGS

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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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https://12go.asia/?z=581915

 

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.

FOR THE BEST GLOBAL HOTEL & FLIGHT BOOKINGS

“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.

Indonesia – Five beaches to visit in West Sumbawa

West Sumbawa

West Sumbawa regency in West Nusa Tenggara is a must-visit destination for beach lovers.

Here, tourists can explore many different beaches, including big-wave beaches for surfers, a hidden beach for leisure and a beach with a scenic sunset for avid Instagram users.

Below is the list of West Sumbawa’s best beaches, as compiled by tempo.co 

Benete Beach

Benete Beach is located near to global mining giant PT Newmont Nusa Tenggara’s harbor.

The beach is known for its breathtaking sunset, making it suitable for avid Instagram users.

In the evening, both aspiring and professional photographers can capture the beauty of the beach with colorful lamps and ships in the background.

Lawar Beach

READ CONTINUE

Cambodia – Tourism feels shifting axis

the-beauty-of-cambodia

While Vietnamese visitors continued to top the list of international tourist arrivals to Cambodia in 2016, their numbers dipped as the number of Chinese tourists continued to surge and looks set to take the top notch this year, according to newly released Tourism Ministry annual figures.

The data showed total tourist arrivals from Vietnam fell 3 percent to 950,000 last year, while Chinese arrivals surged 19 percent to 830,000 over the same period.

Chhay Sivlin, president of the Cambodia Association of Travel Agents (CATA), expressed confidence that China would soon overtake Vietnam as the main source of the Kingdom’s tourists.

“Following the strengthening of the relationship between Cambodia and China and the government’s strategy to promote more Chinese tourist arrivals, China will soon be the leader for tourism visits in Cambodia,” she said yesterday.

Sivlin noted that the Ministry of Tourism still needs to increase the number of direct flights to the Kingdom in order to reach the country’s target of welcoming 7 million tourists by 2020, including 2 million Chinese visitors.

“Compared to neighboring countries, the number of international arrivals is still small because the shortage of direct flights is limiting international arrivals,” she said. “The government needs to speed up the process of approving direct flights to reach its tourism goals.”

According to the Ministry of Tourism, total tourist arrivals topped 5 million in 2016, from 4.8 million a year earlier, while total revenue from tourism decreased to $3 billion in 2016, from $3.5 billion in 2015.

Sivlin said one reason for the decline in tourism revenue was a failure to recognise the changes in tourist demographics. She pointed to the high number of souvenir products sold in the country imported from China, Vietnam and Thailand, which were difficult to sell when many tourists came from those same countries.

“We sell souvenir products that are not produced locally, and this is not attractive to international visitors when they know it is from their country,” she said.

Ang Kim Eang, general manager of Great Angkor Tours, said the marginal decline in Vietnamese arrivals had no significant impact on the tourism sector as most Vietnamese visitors arrive by bus and do not spend large sums of money. On the other hand, the higher number of Chinese tourists was good news for Cambodia as they tend to be more prolific spenders.

“Chinese tourism offers great potential for the local tourism sector because they like to spend a lot on entertainment services,” he said.

And with China’s outbound tourists topping 122 million last year, far more than the entire population of Vietnam, government initiatives to attract a larger share to Cambodia are hardly surprising.

“Chinese tourists are one of the main targets for promoting the Cambodian economy,” Eang said.

Source: PhnomPenhPost

We take you to the Pearls of the Orient

CAMBODIA Siem Reap – Here you will find influences of French colonial and Chinese architecture. With the Tuk Tuk service to the ancient city of Angkor Thom, to visit Angkor Ta Prohm, one of the famous temples of Cambodia. In the afternoon with a Jeep to the Angkor Wat Temple. MYANMAR Mandalay – After arriving…

via Pearls of the Orient — NEWS & TRAVEL GURU MAGAZINE