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18 Jan, 2010

Domestic Indian Hotel Chains Will Challenge Foreign Ones, HVS Report

International hotel chain brands now rushing into India will find themselves under competitive pressure from domestic hotel chains and an increasingly demanding, well-informed, well-travelled Indian consumer, according to a forecast for the next decade released by the consultancy company HVS Hospitality Services India last week. Entitled “Indian Hospitality – Game Changers in the last decade…and […]


17 Jan, 2010

Intelligence Failures? Really?

Originally Published: 17 January 2010 An investigative report in the Israeli newspaper Haaretz has heightened scepticism about whether these so-called “intelligence failures” related to recent terrorist attacks are in fact “intelligence failures” at all, or whether they are in fact great successes in serving a far broader geopolitical purpose. The reputed paper, one of the […]


11 Jan, 2010

After “Crotch-bomber” Attack, Racial and Ethnic Profiling Under Fire

New security policies implemented by the US government in the aftermath of the botched attack attempt by the “crotch-bomber” on Christmas Day 2009 are coming under fire from travellers, airlines and civil liberty rights groups worldwide. On January 8, a coalition of more than 25 Civil and Human Rights organizations in the United States issued […]


4 Jan, 2010

“Crotch-bomber” Attack Means Windfall for Security Apparatus

The foiled bid by a Nigerian to blow up a U.S. airliner has given security authorities the excuse they needed to get governments and the aviation industry to spend billions more on security, including body-scanners. The incident has also triggered renewed fears of racial profiling by visa officers and immigration authorities. According to the International […]


3 Jan, 2010

Is a second “Decade From Hell” in the making?

Originally Published: 03 Jan 2010 For all those who have been fervently wishing each other a peaceful New Year, be warned that it is likely to be anything but. The same bunch of people who have been at the forefront of wars, conflict and state terrorism over the last few years are sending out clear […]


28 Dec, 2009

Last Minute Surge Props Up Thai Tourism in 2009

Thanks to a surge in tourism arrivals in the last quarter of 2009, the Thai tourism industry is projecting to close this year with a total of 14 million arrivals, down just 4% over 2008. In 2010, the forecast is for a 7-10 percent increase to 15 – 15.5 million visitors, “if no serious incidents […]


20 Dec, 2009

Palestinian Christians call for end to Israeli occupation

Originally Published: 20 Dec 2009 A fortnight before Christmas, Palestinian Christians and a number of church leaders have issued a “historic document” calling on Israel to end its occupation of Palestine and the suffering of the Palestinian people. Already making the rounds of Christian media and faith groups, the ground-breaking document for the first time […]


14 Dec, 2009

Climate Justice Panel Fails To Find The Right Balance

COPENHAGEN: An energetic two-hour discussion on the issue of climate justice and tourism on the sidelines of the Copenhagen summit ended with yet another deadlock over some of the long-standing questions about how to make travel & tourism both economically and ecologically sustainable. However, representatives of academia, civil society groups and the UN World Tourism […]


6 Dec, 2009

Cracking the culture of impunity and Asia’s culture of complacency and subservience

Originally Published: 06 Dec 2009 When Dr Nagesh Kumar, Chief Economist of the UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), briefed the media on year-end state-of-the-region report on Nov 30, he said that many Asia-Pacific countries will have to indulge in some serious soul-searching about their future growth and development policies. […]


30 Nov, 2009

UN Conf In Takayama Aspires To Boost Tourism For People With Disabilities

The Japanese city of Takayama in Gifu Prefecture, which has reinvented itself as model city for people with disabilities (PwDs), was the venue of a 24-26 November conference designed to showcase how Asia-Pacific cities can promote tourism, mobility and employment for a rapidly-growing part of the world’s population. The congress was organised by the Social […]


23 Nov, 2009

Congress Organisers Say Less Business Travel Won’t Help Cut Global Warming

The meetings and conventions industry is calling upon environmental regulatory authorities to think long and hard before pushing for curbs on travel for business and MICE purposes as part of efforts to reduce global warming. In a statement last week, the International Association of Professional Congress Organisers (IAPCO) said that while limiting such forms of […]


22 Nov, 2009

Yet Another Palestine Day is Commemmorated With More Talk And No Action

Originally Published: 22 Nov 2009 This November 29 will mark the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian people, its 32nd year since being approved by the UN General Assembly in 1977. Yet another year has gone by in commiserating a day marking probably the most explosive, expensive and divisive political conflict in modern history. […]


16 Nov, 2009

S. Africa Hosts Summit To Strengthen Sports<>Tourism Links

LONDON — The UN World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) and the South African Government are to jointly organise what is claimed to be the world’s first international Tourism, Sport and Mega-events Summit in Sandton, South Africa during February 24 – 26, 2010.  The summit reflects the importance of major sporting, business and cultural events as a […]


8 Nov, 2009

Asia Challenged To Overcome “Mental Colonisation”

Originally Published: 8 Nov 2009 A series of discussions organised at the UN Economic & Social Commission for Asia-Pacific last week led to some soul-searching debate on whether the lessons of these recurring financial crisis are being learnt, and whether the global system is geared up to handle them, especially as the next crisis is […]


2 Nov, 2009

Victory In Anti-Muslim Racial Profiling Case

In a move that should be a learning experience for aviation security, immigration and security authorities worldwide, U.S. Airways last month (on October 20 2009) agreed to an out-of-court settlement of a lawsuit filed by six imams, or Islamic religious leaders, who were arrested after being removed from a US Airways flight in Minnesota in […]


26 Oct, 2009

Germany Steps Up Push For Visitors From Asia

SINGAPORE:  The City of Berlin will be using next month’s 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin wall to launch its first TV advertising campaign in Asia, based on a powerful brand message, “City of Freedom.” At the same time, Lufthansa German Airlines will mark the 50th anniversary of its flights to Bangkok. In […]


25 Oct, 2009

“Open” societies and democracies commit human rights abuses, too

Originally Published: 25 Oct 2009 On October 21, the International Herald Tribune published a column by the founder and former chairman of Human Rights Watch (HRW) Robert Bernstein in which he criticised HRW for issuing “report after report” criticising Israel. He suggested that it should stick to criticising the autocratic and repressive Arab regimes and […]


21 Oct, 2009

In Asia, France Promotes Spiritual Tourism to Lourdes

France is known more for its wine, fashion and shopping but one of its key destinations is slowly gaining popularity in Asia for a somewhat unlikely niche-market — spiritual and religious tourism. Located 812 kilometres south of Paris, the city of Lourdes is being frequented by Christian pilgrims largely from the Philippines but also increasingly […]


12 Oct, 2009

UNWTO Joins Bandwagon Of Global Restructuring Groups

Astana, Kazakhstan: The restructuring “bug” sweeping through international travel industry associations last week spread to the UN World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) which is set to undergo a complete internal and external overhaul following the election of a new secretary-general. Former Jordanian tourism minister Dr Taleb Rifai, the first Arab to run the 154-member body of […]


11 Oct, 2009

One man’s climate change is another man’s climate justice

Originally Published: 11 Oct 2009 Just as one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter, one man’s climate change is another man’s climate justice. This fundamental difference of perspective goes to the heart of both the environmental challenge as well many other facets of the emerging world order. To the developed world, climate change and […]


5 Oct, 2009

UNWTO Survey Shows Tourism Prominent In Economic Stimulus Packages

Astana, Kazakhstan — More than 70 countries included travel & tourism in the economic stimulus packages they enacted to mitigate the impact of the global economic crisis, according to a report to be presented to the UN World Tourism Organisation General Assembly here this week. Entitled “Roadmap to Recovery,” the report is a survey of […]


28 Sep, 2009

PATA New Business Plan Hopes To Stop Membership Slide

Hangzhou, China — The membership of the Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) was holding an extraordinary session here this past weekend to approve a revolutionary business plan for 2010-2012 designed to replace its elitist, top-down structure with a grassroots approach focussing on its rapidly diminishing ranks of small- and medium-sized members. Seeking to “get the […]


27 Sep, 2009

Nobel Laureate Muhammad Yunus: How to Alleviate Poverty and Insecurity

Originally Published: 27 Sept 2009 A little more than a month ago, Bangkok was fortunate to host two Nobel laureates, Dr Joseph Stiglitz and Prof Muhammad Yunus, within the span of a week. In their public appearances, both conveyed powerful messages about how they saw the world today and where they felt it should be […]


21 Sep, 2009

Tourism NGOs Mobilise For Copenhagen Climate Change Conference

Travel & tourism watchdog groups are mobilising to get their voices heard at the last two rounds of the upcoming climate change conferences in Bangkok and Copenhagen. The effort is being spearheaded by two church-backed groups, the Chiang Mai-based Ecumenical Coalition on Tourism and the German-based Tourism Watch which will be coordinating a series of […]


14 Sep, 2009

Videoconferencing Sector Steps Up Marketing Drive

The release of a White Paper earlier this month outlining the “Top Five Benefits of Video Conferencing” further underscores the onrushing competitive pressure that the travel & tourism, especially the meetings, incentives, conventions and exhibitions (MICE) sector, will have to deal with in the years ahead. Released by Polycom, a U.S. telepresence, video and voice […]


13 Sep, 2009

“American Press self-censored, no longer bears witness to what war does to people”

Originally Published: 13 Sep 2009 A debate that broke out earlier this month in the U.S. media over the publication of a photograph showing a mortally wounded soldier in Afghanistan raises much wider issues about the role of media in wars and conflict, especially the mind-bending manipulation required to maintain public support. Many newspapers declined […]


7 Sep, 2009

Civil Liberties Group Blasts Racial Profiling In U.S. Travel

A major report published by the American Civil Liberties Union last month has criticised the continued prevalence of alleged racial profiling at U.S. airports and border crossings as well as the treatment of those wearing Sikh turbans and Muslim head coverings. “Since September 11, 2001, new forms of racial profiling have affected a growing number […]


31 Aug, 2009

Telecom Union Toolkit Boosts Travel Access For The Disabled

The revolution in Information Technology has transformed the travel & tourism industry like never before, and is now well placed to push forward into a new domain – making its products and services more user-friendly for the world’s estimated 650 million people with disabilities (PwDs). The International Telecommunications Union (ITU) last week released a toolkit […]


30 Aug, 2009

ESCAP yanks media press cards, citing “security” threat

Originally Published: 30 Aug 2009 Just three months after UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon issued a lofty declaration on World Press Freedom Day (May 3) hailing the “important role of the media in addressing global problems,” the security unit of the UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific has scrapped the […]


24 Aug, 2009

US Global Image Up, But Tourism Slump Continues

Although a recent Pew Research Centre poll found that the election of President Barack Obama has improved the global image of the United States, there is no evidence that it is translating into increased business for the country’s travel & tourism industry. Statistics released by the U.S. Commerce Department for the first quarter of 2009 […]


17 Aug, 2009

MICE Industry Undergoing Shakeout, But Still Optimistic

Like other arms of the travel & tourism industry, meeting planners and incentive organisers are undergoing a shakeout due to the ongoing business slump but see themselves re-emerging as a “leaner, smarter, more cost-effective, and additionally creative” sector in 2010. Results of a survey of more than 1,000 buyers in the meetings and incentive travel […]


16 Aug, 2009

Kabir Puraskar Award Promotes Communal Harmony in India

Originally Published: 16 August 2009 Indian Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh and Vice President Dr Hamid Ansari used an annual function for communal harmony awards to remind the Indian public of the need to maintain vigilance against those who continue to seek to divide the country through religious-motivated violence. Last week, the Indian government conferred […]


10 Aug, 2009

Turkish Airlines Seeks Stronger Bangkok Links, Eyes Australia Traffic

One of the major objectives of last week’s visit to Bangkok by Turkish Airlines CEO Dr Temel KOTIL was to boost the joint market share of his carrier and Thai Airways International on the Australia-Turkey sector, using Bangkok as a transit point. Turkish Airlines officials said that in the 12-month period July 2008 – June […]


3 Aug, 2009

Thailand At Forefront Of Tourism Slump

As statistics on the tourism industry from all sectors begin to flow in for the first half of 2009, Thailand appears to be at the forefront of the slump, reporting some of the worst industry declines in arrivals and hotel occupancies. Hotel statistics released last week by Smith Travel Research indicated that Bangkok and Phuket […]


2 Aug, 2009

Freedom From Fear is Key Challenge For Arab Nations

Originally Published: 2 Aug 2009 If anyone is wondering why the Arab countries, with all their financial power, energy resources and rich culture and heritage, are failing so miserably in attaining peace, prosperity and justice for their peoples at large, and the occupied Palestinian people in particular, they should read the 2009 Arab Human Development […]


27 Jul, 2009

Europe Sees Bleak Travel Outlook in 2009

Thanks to the economic slowdown, European travel & tourism is expected this year to slide back to 2006 levels, and the impact of the swine flu virus could make it worse, according to the second quarter report of the European Travel Commission released late last week. The ETC tracks travel trends to and within Europe, […]


20 Jul, 2009

Foreign Students Set to Hit 7 Million by 2020

With the number of students studying outside their home countries projected to rise from 2.5 million to an estimated 7 million by 2020, a report by UNESCO warns that it may only “further skew” the distribution of the world’s wealth and talent unless steps are taken to make education opportunities more equitable. “ One of […]


19 Jul, 2009

Laying Israeli Propaganda Out in the Open

Originally Published: 19 July 2009 Once in a while, the U.S. media comes up with stories that restore my faith in American journalism. Last week, Newsweek broke the story of the “Global Language Dictionary” created by the Israel Project, a document designed to help those “visionary leaders who are on the front lines of fighting […]


13 Jul, 2009

Indian Railways to Link Country’s Four Mega-cities

India’s four major megapolis cities are to be linked for the first time by non-stop, point-to-point train services under the new Railways Budget proposal for 2009-10 presented to the Indian Parliament last week. The proposed services covering Mumbai, New Delhi, Kolkata and Chennai are part of an ongoing upgrade of one of the world’s largest […]


6 Jul, 2009

Abacus, Amadeus Chart Out Target Markets

New product announcements by two of the Asia Pacific region’s leading travel technology companies indicate how they are seeking out new opportunities in times of total flux in the travel & tourism industry. Singapore-based Abacus is targeting small & medium sized travel agents while Madrid-based Amadeus, which has a regional office in Bangkok, is targeting […]


5 Jul, 2009

Assumption University seminar pinpoints why globalisation is failing

Originally Published: 05 Jul 2009 If globalisation is not delivering on its lofty promises, it is largely because it has been pursued from a purely economic, top-down perspective, without ever factoring a bottoms-up social and cultural dimension into the equation. That was pretty much the outcome of discussions at a seminar on “Religion, Politics and […]


29 Jun, 2009

Hotel Occupancies Falling Worldwide

With a few exceptions, hotels worldwide are reporting significant decreases in occupancies, average daily rates (ADR) and revenue per available room (RevPAR) with major tourism destinations like Bangkok, Phuket, Dubai and New York among the worst hit, according to STR Global, a lodging industry benchmarking and research company. The company’s statistical comparative analysis figures for […]


22 Jun, 2009

Melbourne Set To Give Sydney A Run For The Money

MELBOURNE: Barely a few months after the February 2009 bushfires, and in spite of reports of a swine flu outbreak, Melbourne has hosted a highly successful Australian Tourism Exchange and announced a slew of new developments designed to help it overtake key rival Sydney as Australia’s Number One city. The early June 2009 opening of […]


21 Jun, 2009

The day Lee Kuan Yew cited the problematic role of the U.S. Jewish lobby

Originally Published: 21 Jun 2009 Aviation industry conferences are not usually where one expects to hear political statements, so it was pleasant surprise, nay, shock, to hear former Singapore Prime Minister and now Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew in a meeting of airline leaders in Kuala Lumpur cite the role of the U.S. Jewish lobby in […]


15 Jun, 2009

Kuala Lumpur Hotel “Converts” to Sharia Compliance

KUALA LUMPUR – After 15 years of being run by conventional rules of management and hospitality, the De Palma Hotel in Kuala Lumpur has “converted” to Islamic sharia compliance, and business is booming. The bar is gone. One of the function rooms is now a prayer hall. Prayer mats are available in all rooms, and […]


8 Jun, 2009

First Global Road Safety Conference to Convene in Moscow

The First Global Ministerial Conference on road safety is to convene in Moscow on November 19-20, 2009 in an attempt to find ways to reduce the thousands of deaths and injuries occurring on roads and highways every day.


7 Jun, 2009

In Cairo speech to the Muslim world, Obama promises much, but will he deliver?

Originally Published: 07 Jun 2009 Had he given anything close to his June 4 speech prior to his election, Barack Hussein Obama would not have become the 44th President of the United States. Never in the history of modern geopolitics has the world’s most powerful man made one religion and its worldwide followers the subject […]


1 Jun, 2009

PATA Financial Clean Up Continues

Facing another tough financial year in 2009, the Pacific Asia Travel Association is pushing ahead with internal financial clean-up and administrative overhaul in preparation for formal approval of the changes at the next board meeting in Hangzhou, China, this September. Also under way is a re-writing of the by-laws that will change the structure, role […]


25 May, 2009

European Business Travel Faces Tough Times

European business travel is expected to take the hardest hit as a result of the ongoing financial crisis, according to a market intelligence report issued by the European Travel Commission (ETC) last week. Although Europe is world’s biggest inbound/outbound travel region, the report painted a bleak picture of the industry prospects, pointing to sharp declines […]


24 May, 2009

Israel’s Rules of Non-Engagement

Originally Published: 24 May 2009 When President Barack Obama met the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for talks on the Middle East situation earlier last week, everyone knew who was boss. It was not Mr Obama. The transcript of the press conference made fascinating reading. With Mr Netanyahu’s sly, cunning eyes firmly fixed on him, […]


11 May, 2009

Jordanian Elected to Head World Tourism Body

Former Jordanian tourism minister Dr Taleb Rifai has been elected the new Secretary-General of the Madrid-based UN World Tourism Organisation for a four-year term beginning 2010. The 31-member executive council, meeting May 7-8 in the African state of Mali, endorsed Dr Rifai, 60, by a majority vote of 20 as against 10 for his closest […]


10 May, 2009

UNESCAP fumbles opportunity to chart an alternative development paradigm

Originally Published: 10 May 2009 The 65th ministerial session of the UN Economic & Social Commission of Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP) last month came at a historical juncture for the world economy and indeed Asia at large. It ended, like most UN meetings, with a lot of rhetorical fire and brimstone in the talk-shop […]


4 May, 2009

A Crisis A Day Keeps Visitors Away

A crisis a day keeps visitors away. That was the cry of despair in the global travel & tourism industry as it rushed last week to salvage what was left of its tattered and rapidly deteriorating situation. Even as the industry was dealing with short-term issues like the financial crisis, long-term issues like climate change, […]


27 Apr, 2009

“Better To Be Lucky Than Good,” Says Air Astana CEO

ALMATY — Bad bets made on hedging the price of fuel have cost many global airlines dearly but the Kazakhstan national airline, Air Astana freely credits the “luck” of bureaucratic, tax and legal considerations for staving off what would have been a financial disaster. “It’s better to be lucky than good,” says the airline’s President […]


26 Apr, 2009

How did Thailand Come to This?

Originally Published: 26 April 2009 When Democrat Party Spokesman, Dr Buranaj Smutharaks spoke at the Foreign Corespondents Club of Thailand (FCCT) last week, his words reflected some deep soul searching about the transformation under way in Thailand’s political scene as well its wider social and cultural psyche. “Such is the divisiveness of politics today and […]


20 Apr, 2009

Air Astana Flights To Bangkok Unaffected by Thai Crisis

Almaty, Kazakhstan:  If Thailand is looking for ways to prop up the moribund travel & tourism industry in these difficult times, it may need to venture into countries where the troubles in Thailand get little media coverage, where governments don’t issue travel advisories and where the people have the money and the means to travel, […]


12 Apr, 2009

New Age in the US: Weapons of Mass Deception Exposed

Originally Published: 12 April 2009 “Israel’s choke-hold in America loosens” was the headline of a column by Lebanese newspaper columnist Rami G. Khouri in the Daily Star on April 01, 2009. As this “choke-hold” has been the subject of numerous Soul-Searching columns over the years, it’s loosening marks the start of a new age of […]


6 Apr, 2009

Thailand Roadshow Targets Secondary Indian Cities

The Tourism Authority of Thailand last month held its first marketing roadshow in two of India’s key secondary cities, Ahmedabad and Chandigarh, as part of a strategy to diversify the sources of its visitor arrivals beyond the main Indian gateways. A total of about 230 travel agents turned up in the two cities for what […]


29 Mar, 2009

Gandhi’s Message Remains Ahead of the Times

Originally Published: 29 Mar 2009 Inscribed on an ordinary slate hanging forlornly in an obscure corner of Mahatma Gandhi’s Satyagraha Ashram (Hermitage of Non-violent Resistance), a powerful message goes to the heart of Gandhi’s fervent belief that “one must entertain the same respect for the religious faiths of others as one accords to one’s own. […]


23 Mar, 2009

Uncompromising Aviation “Safety Standards” Should Be Applied In the Financial World, Too

A brilliant analysis of the global financial crisis by the UN Conference on Trade & Development suggests that world financial regulators can learn a lot from the stringent safety rules rigorously applied by the aviation industry — arguably the first time that a clear linkage has been made between a financial crash and an aircraft […]


16 Mar, 2009

Hotels Fear Slew of Bankruptcies in 2009

Berlin – A survey of 261 European hotel executives has revealed a worse-than-expected outlook for the hospitality industry with 79% of respondents predicting hotel chain bankruptcies in the next twelve months. Four in ten hotel executives anticipate that more than five chains will go into administration in the next year. In the United States, a […]


15 Mar, 2009

No Sign of A Pursuit of Accountability for the Global Financial Crisis

Originally Published: 15 March 2009 Probably the most shocking aspect of the current global financial crisis is the complete absence of any attempt by the political, economic and business leaders of Asia, and indeed the developing world, to seek accountability from those who caused it. There can be no doubt that the developing countries are […]


2 Mar, 2009

Asean Summit To Help Lift Intra-Regional Travel

Last week’s ASEAN summit is to set to give a major lift to intra-regional travel and tourism, from both a quality and quantity perspective. While the process of ASEAN integration will drive travel for leisure, business, conventions, and many other sectors, the industry can also expect to come under rigorous check-and-balance qualitative scrutiny from civil […]


1 Mar, 2009

Surin Pitsuwan to Civil Society: “Hold ASEAN to Account”

Originally Published: 1 March 2009 The age of accountability in ASEAN took a quantum leap forward over the last week with ASEAN civil society organisations serving notice to ASEAN political and business leaders that they can expect vigorous scrutiny of how they implement the lofty principles and commitments. The bitterness, frustration and anger was more […]


23 Feb, 2009

ASEAN Tourism Branding Change Under Fire

Replacing “ASEAN” with “Southeast Asia” as part of a regional tourism re-branding strategy would be “an exercise in futility” and “would not serve the fundamental objective of the grouping in the long run,” according to the first and only head of the now-defunct ASEAN Tourism Information Centre (ATIC). In an email interview, Abdullah Jonid, a […]


16 Feb, 2009

Airports Blast Airlines For Pressuring Them on Charges, Costs

The head of the global association of airports has blasted airlines for “having no commitment” to their destinations and suggested they back off from pressuring airports to reduce fees and landing charges. Speaking at the Airports Council International AGM in London last week, Angela Gittens said: “During bad times, airports vie more than ever for […]


15 Feb, 2009

Equating “war on terror” with “war on Islam” — Islamic world told to start countering smear campaign

Originally Published: 15 Feb 2009 Information ministers from the Islamic countries have agreed on a multi-pronged programme to counter what their senior diplomats and official communiqués have referred to as the “hostile”, “ferocious” and “hate-mongering” media campaign against Islam. Although diplomatic niceties prevent the statements, communiqués and resolutions issued after the Islamic Information Ministers meeting […]


9 Feb, 2009

New PATA Chief Outlines Future Roadmap

(TTR Weekly Editor Don Ross contributed to this report) The Pacific Asia Travel Association has dumped its much-hyped CEO Challenge conference as part of a sweeping revamp of internal and external activities being enacted by President and CEO Greg Duffell following his official takeover last week. “It’s a tough year for holding events,” Mr Duffell […]


2 Feb, 2009

Civil Society Groups Rue Damage Done by Tourism

Social movements and tourism watchdog groups from around the world met in the Brazilian Amazon last week to discuss the damage done by “predatory neoliberal capitalism” and the proliferation of megaresorts and real estate developments along the coastlines of tropical poor countries. Under the theme “Another Tourism is Possible”, dozens of tourism non-governmental organisations and […]


1 Feb, 2009

Stoking the Fear Factor in India

Originally Published: 1 Feb 2009 MUMBAI: Two months after the 26/11 terror attacks in this vibrant hub of commerce and trade, India is being swept along by a strong current of patriotism, nationalism and jingoism identical to that which characterised post-9/11 United States. An incessant barrage of daily sloganeering juxtaposes 26/11 with 9/11. An enemy […]


26 Jan, 2009

ASEAN Cross-Border Travel To Boom

Faced with the ongoing international financial crunch and a projected flattening of arrivals from long-haul international markets, ASEAN national tourism organisations are set to give a long-overdue boost to cross-border and intra-ASEAN travel, according to presentations made at the ASEAN Tourism Forum in Hanoi earlier this month. ASEAN countries have long been their own best […]


18 Jan, 2009

Israel’s hypocritical might-is-right strategy doomed to fail

Originally Published: 18 Jan 2009 How many times have we heard this line: “There is no justification for killing of innocent civilians”? The centrepiece of the “war on terror”, this well-known response is invoked each time an act of violence is allegedly committed by “Islamic terrorists.” Now, it appears that there IS a justification for […]


12 Jan, 2009

ASEAN To Jettison Tourism Brand

HANOI — Just a few weeks before the ASEAN summit in Thailand in February, ASEAN tourism industry officials have signed off on a plan to jettison the ASEAN brand name in their tourism campaigns and make it a co-brand to new tagline built on the name “Southeast Asia.” At the ASEAN Tourism Forum here last […]


4 Jan, 2009

“War on Terror” is a War Without End

Originally Published: 4 Jan 2009 The perfunctory seasonal greeting “Happy New Year” is becoming less and less happy with each passing year. This year has been particularly symptomatic, what with the impact of the global financial crisis, the Israeli massacres in Gaza and the ongoing political confrontation in Thailand itself. It was not supposed to […]


29 Dec, 2008

Low-Cost Airlines Help Aviation End 2008 With “Small Growth”

Scheduled airline passenger traffic in 2008 attained a “small overall growth” in 2008 largely thanks to a “significant increase” in the performance of low cost carriers, according to the International Civil Aviation Organisation. The UN-affiliated global aviation regulatory agency reported that although passengers carried on scheduled air services worldwide increased by around 0.8 % in […]


22 Dec, 2008

17 Americans Attend First Tour Operators Convention in Iran

TEHRAN – Seventeen American tour operators and media were amongst a group of 120 tour operators and travel media from 48 countries who attended the first international tour operators convention organised by the Iranian tourism industry late last month. They found a country which is completely different from that which they read about in the […]


21 Dec, 2008

Sole of Despair: The “Shoeting” of George W. Bush

Originally Published: 21 Dec 2008 It was truly an act of amazing sole-searching – the “shoeting” of the most powerful man on the planet by an Iraqi TV journalist who decided that his footwear could be a more lethal instrument than the pen in expressing an editorial opinion. When, in a fitting finale to the […]


15 Dec, 2008

Bangkok Airport Reopens, But Industry Braces for Backlash

The Thai tourism industry has begun to downsize big-time as visitor arrivals plunge in the aftermath of the airport closure . Even as promotional packages are rolled out to entice visitors, staff, operations and marketing budgets are beginning to feel the cost-cutting knife. Hotels are being most affected. Staff are being asked to take unpaid […]


8 Dec, 2008

Short-term Drop in U.S. Business Travel to India Seen After Mumbai Attack

The attack in Mumbai will prompt short-term cancellations in business travel to India and Pakistan, and initiate long-term interest in hotel security and guest safety on the part of corporate consumers, according to a survey conducted by the Alexandria, Virginia-based Association of Corporate Travel Executives (ACTE). ACTE represents a membership of senior business travel industry […]


7 Dec, 2008

Jewish-American writer uses Mumbai terrorist attacks to draw India into Israeli orbit

Originally  Published: 07 Dec 2008 On November 28, just two days into the Mumbai attacks, the New York Times published a column by Samuel Freedman, a Jewish-American writer. Headlined “Between Israel and India, a Link Based on Culture and, Now, Terrorism,” it dwelt at length about what it called “the new linkages between Indians and […]


1 Dec, 2008

Under Seige, Tourism Sector Needs to Ask Hard Questions

The twin debacles in Bangkok and Mumbai last week have opened a new chapter in the history of the crises-ridden travel & tourism industry and will require some radical new thinking amongst the new generation of emerging leaders. The tourism promotion campaigns of both “Incredible !ndia”  and “Amazing Thailand Amazing Wonders” have been shot to […]


24 Nov, 2008

Exhibitions Sector Faces Turbulence in 2009

Chief executives of the global exhibition industry are preparing for a downturn next year but feel that larger events, as well as those in the so-called Bric countries (Brazil, Russia, India and China), will be less impacted than others. These were among the upcoming trends identified at a break-out “CEO Think Tank” session during the […]


23 Nov, 2008

Scriptures of Abrahamic faiths ALL contain passages that condone violence

Originally Published: 23 Nov 2008 A remarkable report issued by a Washington DC-based peace institute has acknowledged that all the three Abrahamic religions – Judaism, Christianity and Islam – contain passages in their scriptures which appear to condone violence, and come up with an entirely opposite interpretation designed instead to promote peace and harmony. Called […]


17 Nov, 2008

Obamania At The World Travel Market 2008

LONDON — Kenya, Indonesia and the city of Chicago have latched on to the “Obamania” bandwagon with tours and marketing campaigns highlighting their social, familial and cultural links with U.S. President-elect Barack Obama. Mr. Obama had a Kenyan father and Indonesian step-father. He lived in both countries during his childhood. He now resides in Chicago. […]


10 Nov, 2008

PATA Faces “Major Overhaul”, says Acting CEO

The Bangkok-based Pacific Asia Travel Association has embarked upon a “major overhaul” covering just about every aspect of its internal and external structures, membership relevance and future directions, according to acting President and CEO Brian Deeson. Mr. Deeson, a former PATA chairman and secretary/treasurer, is Vice President Industry Affairs for Accor Hospitality based in Sydney. […]


9 Nov, 2008

Why Obama will also fail to bring peace to the Middle East

Originally Published: 09 Nov 2008 I am not among those who have clambered aboard the bandwagon named Euphoria following the election of Barack Obama. A man who could not muster the courage to acknowledge his roots, his heritage and his paternal pedigree, and in fact openly sought to distance himself from it for the sake […]


3 Nov, 2008

India Blocks Bid To Grade Destinations

India has blocked a bid by the UN World Tourism Organisation to “evaluate” destinations, an effort which was designed overtly to upgrade product development but which critics saw as being yet another thinly-disguised “beauty contest.” Indian Minister of Tourism and Culture, Mrs. Ambika Soni took up the matter in her capacity as chairperson of the […]


27 Oct, 2008

Thai Tourism SME Group Scores Big Win at ITB Asia 2008

SINGAPORE: Eleven small Thai hotels and service apartments scored a huge win here last week by pooling their meager resources to produce a high-powered joint presence at the Asia Pacific’s newest travel show, the ITB Asia “We were busy all through,” proclaimed Mr. Kamol Ratanavirakul, President of the Thai Hotel and Hospitality Management Association, brandishing […]


26 Oct, 2008

Nobel Peace Laureate To Lead Fresh Attempt to Liberate Gaza

Originally Published: 26 Oct 2008 The 1976 Nobel Peace Prize winner Mairead Corrigan-Maguire is to be on the next Free Gaza Movement boat that will sail from Cyprus to the besieged Gaza Strip on October 28, designed to further heighten the plight of the people in a land area known as the world’s biggest open-air […]


26 Oct, 2008

Noel Peace prize winner sets sail for Gaza on voyage for justice

Originally Published: 26 Oct 2008 The 1976 Nobel Peace Prize winner Mairead Corrigan-Maguire is to be on the next Free Gaza Movement boat that will sail from Cyprus to the besieged Gaza Strip on October 28, designed to further heighten the plight of the people in a land area known as the world’s biggest open-air […]


20 Oct, 2008

IATA Silent on Fuel Surcharges, But Rails Against Passenger Taxes

After remaining strangely silent as airlines levied massive fuel surcharges on their passengers, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) has now come out with a thundering condemnation of the higher departure taxes that European governments are planning to pass on to airline passengers to partially fund the massive bank bailout packages. Although Mr. Giovanni Bisignani, […]


13 Oct, 2008

“Another Tourism is Possible,” Say Civil Society Groups

Non-governmental organisations in the travel & tourism industry took advantage of World Tourism Day last month to stress that the present financial crises may prove to be a short-term phenomenon, and that the industry would still have to deal with long-term issues. NGOs in Asia and Europe used Sept 27, World Tourism Day, to issue […]


12 Oct, 2008

Asia Must Influence New World Order, Not Be Influenced by It

Originally Published: 12 Oct 2008 The current global financial crises has revived nightmares of 1997 redux. Particularly vivid in the memory is former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohammad’s reference to the role of financial terrorists as they profit from the misery of millions – and walk free. It has also raised serious questions about who can […]


6 Oct, 2008

Travel & Tourism Braces for Impact of Financial Crisis

The global travel & tourism industry is bracing for yet another crisis as the fallout from the turmoil in financial markets begins to make itself felt. In the U.S., both the Travel Industry Association (TIA) and the Air Transport Association (ATA) early last week urged Congress and the Bush administration to take action to shore […]


29 Sep, 2008

PATA CEO Makes Early Exit

(TTR Weekly Editor Don Ross contributed to this report) HYDERABAD — Pacific Asia Travel Association CEO and president, Peter de Jong, will vacate the helm of the association on 17 October, some six months ahead of the schedule outlined in his own statements in which he said he was prepared to handover responsibilities to a […]


28 Sep, 2008

Islamic world tiring of the “new NATO”

Originally Published: 28 Sep 2008 Everyone has heard of NATO, the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, the security club of mainly industrialised democracies on either side of the North Atlantic. But another group is more worthy of being known as NATO. This is the No Action, Talk Only group of Islamic countries who in the past […]


15 Sep, 2008

PATA Hit By Financial Downturn

(TTR Weekly Editor Don Ross contributed to this report) The Pacific Asia Travel Association is to report declines in income from its major revenue generating activities this year, setting the stage for what is expected to be a testy board of directors meeting in Hyderabad, India, between 19-21 September. Financial statements to be presented to […]


14 Sep, 2008

The challenge of exorcising India’s demons

Originally Published: 14 Sep 2008 For all the advances by India in the fields of Information technology and economic development, it still has a long way to go to rise above its cultural, social and ethnic divisions that are so vehemently fanned and inflamed by its home-grown fundamentalists and politicians. When India markets itself on […]


8 Sep, 2008

Thailand Counts Costs of Political Crisis

The Thai tourism industry began to survey the damage caused by the nearly two-week long political situation, amidst general agreement that the situation was not as bad as it could have been and will bounce back quickly once normalcy is returned. Industry executives said that most of the damage had been done by usage of […]


31 Aug, 2008

Western Media is Biased, but Can’t Hide it Anymore

Originally Published: 31 Aug 2008 In yet another indication of how the Asian media’s patience with the Western media is wearing thin, Times of India commentator Ramesh Thakur has blasted the western mainstream media for “living in a different planet” over its coverage of the Russian-Georgian conflict. Indeed, Mr Thakur’s comment that “the narrative of […]