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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 […]


25 Aug, 2008

Tourism Australia Performance Audit Boosts Cause of Transparency in Tourism

The cause of transparency and good governance in travel & tourism organisations worldwide has taken a huge step forward with the publication of an Australian government audit of about A$184 million worth of marketing service contracts by Tourism Australia, as well as conflict of interest issues amongst its board of directors. Although the audit notes […]


18 Aug, 2008

Economic Crisis Means Bleak Days Ahead for Australian Tourism

Although Australian tourism is preparing for a publicity windfall following the projected release of the movie “Australia” later this year, its future outlook is almost entirely at the mercy of oil prices and the strength of the Aussie dollar, according to its national forecasting body. Says the latest report by Australia’s Tourism Forecasting Committee, “For […]


17 Aug, 2008

China’s 2008 Olympics the best ever, yet ceaselessly maligned in the Western media

Originally Published: 17 Aug 2008 After the Beijing Olympics 2008 end next week, China should undertake a careful study of the media coverage to pinpoint what has been a clearly designed campaign to play up all that is supposedly wrong with it and downplay its phenomenal eight-year effort to host the best Olympics ever. In […]


11 Aug, 2008

Telecoms Sector Offers Alternative to Travel

Advances in information and communications technologies (ICTs) which have facilitated the growth of global travel & tourism industry are set to play an increasing role in both reducing and managing the growth still to come. Those same technologies that greatly assisted the development of reservation and payment systems that helped low cost airlines shake the […]


4 Aug, 2008

Malaysia Seeks Larger Share of Islamic Travel Market

KUALA LUMPUR — Although its branding tag-line presents itself as “Truly Asia,” Malaysia is seeking to build on its Islamic credentials to capture a dominant share of the Islamic market. Presenting a marketing blueprint to an Islamic tourism conference here last week, Tourism Malaysia Director General Mirza Mohammad Taib noted that Malaysia is the second […]


3 Aug, 2008

Developing Countries Thinking & Acting Smart, Learning to Hold their Ground

Originally Published:  3 Aug 2008 The collapse of the World Trade Organisation talks is yet another sign of shifting global geopolitics as developing countries become smarter, understand the tricks and traps, and stick together in the face of attempts to play them off and pressure them into accepting bad deals. It is also a triumph […]


28 Jul, 2008

PATA CEO Job Now Open

(TTR Weekly Editor Don Ross contributed to this report) In a move that should pave the way for a long overdue organisational revamp, the Pacific Asia Travel Association has begun the search for a new President and CEO to replace Peter de Jong following his planned exit by April 2009. In a letter to Board […]


21 Jul, 2008

Coming Next: “Mental Health Tourism”

You’ve heard of “medical tourism” and “health and wellness tourism”. Now, get ready for a new one: “Mental Health Tourism.” A paper presented by a group of Japanese researchers at the Asia Pacific Tourism Association annual conference in Bangkok last week says that this form of tourism would be specifically targetted at urban dwellers suffering […]


20 Jul, 2008

Islam’s Last Stand?

Originally Published: 20 July 2008 Islam’s last stand? The stand-off with Iran has put the United States / Israel and all the other anti-Iran antagonists in a situation where they are damned if they do and damned if they don’t. It should also be a tremendous learning experience for the rest of the Islamic world […]


7 Jul, 2008

Transparency Pressure Pressure Piles Up on PATA

Another former chairman of the Bangkok-based Pacific Asia Travel Association has backed calls for good governance and transparency, warning that “if things do go off the rails, and the law steps in, it can get very ugly.” The comment by Jon Hutchison, the PATA Chairman between 1997/98, is doubly significant because he chaired a Task […]


6 Jul, 2008

US Palestinians Plan Historic Unity Conference

Originally Published: 6 July 2008 Palestinians in the United States are preparing for what they call a historic unity conference in Chicago during the weekend of August 8, 2008, the 60th anniversary of Al-Nakba (the Catastrophe). “At a moment when the Palestinian community and Palestinian rights are under severe attack, Palestinian community organisers and leaders […]


30 Jun, 2008

Lone Aussie Monastic Town Seeks Visitors, And Monks

About 135 kms northeast of Perth, a little village said to be Australia’s only Benedictine monastic township wants more visitors — and more monks.


23 Jun, 2008

Australia Tourism Struggles To Cope With Slowdown

PERTH: Affected by high fuel costs and the strength of its currency, the Australian tourism industry is struggling to deal with what appears to be a pronounced slowdown in visitor arrivals. The industry ended 2007 with a fractional arrivals growth of 2.5% to 5.6 million. In Jan-April 2008, visitor arrivals totalled 1.9 million, unchanged over […]


22 Jun, 2008

Call for Israeli Apology to Palestinians As a Prelude To Peace

Originally Published: 22 June 2008 Barely a few months after this column forecast that one day Jews would have to apologise to the Palestinians, a dissident Jewish peace activist has suggested that an Israeli President or Prime Minister do just that, and even drafted a “historic speech” that could be delivered on the occasion. Writing […]


20 Jun, 2008

Review Travel Advisories, Says “Australia 2020” Report

A high-level report submitted to Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd calls for the advisories to be reviewed because they affect Australia’s wider goals of promoting cultural exchange and travel for education.


18 Jun, 2008

Aussies Invest A$3.75b in M.I.C.E. Infrastructure

New travel & tourism infrastructure to the value of an estimated AU$3.75 billion has emerged recently all over Australia, and is continuing to emerge.


16 Jun, 2008

Former PATA Chairman Calls for Deep Financial Audit, Membership Survey

(TTR Weekly Editor Don Ross contributed to this report) A former chairman of the Pacific Asia Travel Association has made an unprecedented public call for a comprehensive probe into PATA’s financial management as well as a thorough membership survey to determine its future directions. Responding to the recent travel trade press reports about errors in […]


16 Jun, 2008

As Growth Stalls, Oz Battles Winds Of Change

The Australian Tourism industry ended 2007 with a fractional arrivals growth of 2.5% to 5.6 million. The impact on aviation of high fuel costs, and the strong Australian dollar are among the factors being cited for the lackluster performance of the A$81 billion industry.


13 Jun, 2008

India Says Travel Advisories Should Go

The Tourism and Culture Minister Mrs. Ambika Soni has urged member countries of the UN World Tourism Organisation to back off from issuing knee-jerk travel advisories.


12 Jun, 2008

Ex-PATA Chairman Calls For Independent Financial Probe

A former chairman of the Pacific Asia Travel Association has called for a comprehensive probe into PATA’s financial management as well as a thorough membership survey to determine its future directions.


10 Jun, 2008

India Wary As Chinks Emerge In Its Economic Armour

Although India’s economic strength and growth potential dominates the headlines, Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh also notes that “the most important lesson of the 20th Century is that no nation is an island into itself.” 


9 Jun, 2008

U.S. Frequent Flyers Cutting Back on Travel

American frequent air travellers are cutting back on flying, thanks to lengthy lines for check-in and security screening, flight delays, cancellations, longer flight times, baggage issues and other such hassles, according to a survey commissioned by the US Travel Industry Association. “Compared with other parts of the travel experience including renting cars, staying at a […]


8 Jun, 2008

Ex-White House Spokesman Exposes “Culture of Deception”

Originally Published: 8 June 2008 “I did a lot of Soul Searching,” is how former White House press secretary Scott McClellan described his state of mind when exposing the “marketing strategy” for “selling” the U.S. attack on Iraq, in his new book, “What Happened: Inside the Bush White House and Washington’s Culture of Deception.” McClellan […]


6 Jun, 2008

Small Steps Are Best — World Environment Day Message

World Environment Day, commemorated on 5 June, is intended by the United Nations to stimulate worldwide awareness of the environment and enhance political attention and remedial action. This year’s slogan was “Kick the Habit! Towards a Low Carbon Economy.”


3 Jun, 2008

PATA Faces Questions Over Financial Reporting

A media investigation into the financial affairs of the Pacific Asia Travel Association has raised questions about its compliance with the disclosure requirements of the US Internal Revenue Service and membership reporting requirements of its own by-laws.


2 Jun, 2008

Indian Buddhist Sites Slated For Upgrade

The Buddhist pilgrimage sites of Bodhgaya, Varanasi and Nalanda are among the 20 “mega-destinations” and “mega-circuits” prioritised for infrastructure investment by India’s Tourism Ministry in the next few years. With foreign visitor inflows having crossed the five million mark in 2007 and domestic tourism booming, thanks to improved air, road and rail linkages, the ministry […]


2 Jun, 2008

Media Probe Yields “Clerical Lapses” in PATA’s IRS Report

The Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) was last week forced to “update” its filings with the US Internal Revenue Service after a media investigation showed up two instances of a “clerical lapse” that could have seen it face penalties and possible fines. The same investigation by the Bangkok-based travel publication TTR Weekly also showed up […]


25 May, 2008

Are We Finally Seeing The Rise of Moderate Jews?

Originally Published: 25 May 2008 Just under 140 prominent American and Israeli Jews, including diplomats, ex-cabinet ministers and intelligence agents, military staffers, journalists, rabbis and many more, are backing a new political action group established last month to set a “new direction for American policy in the Middle East and a broad public and policy […]


20 May, 2008

Global Billion Tree Campaign Is Now The Seven Billion Tree Campaign

A unique worldwide tree planting initiative, aimed at empowering citizens to corporations and people up to presidents to embrace the climate change challenge, has now set its sights on planting seven billion trees.


19 May, 2008

Sports Events Tourism Benefits “Grossly Overstated”

KOTA KINABALU, Malaysia — With national tourism organisations facing increasing demands to sponsor multi-million dollar sports events on the basis of their perceived tourism promotion value, a University of Victoria professor has urged that they take a closer look at the “grossly overstated” figures that are being produced to justify the money. Speaking at the […]


13 May, 2008

Aviation Trends And Safety Risks Identified

A new report by Australia’s Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) has identified the local and international trends expected to influence safety over the next three to five years.


12 May, 2008

Aussies Seek to Clear Skilled Migration Visa Backlog

The Australian tourism industry is to be a primary beneficiary of an effort to clear a backlog of applications for temporary skilled migration visas by June 2008. The move is designed to ease the country’s labour market pressures and skills shortages, specifically in the accommodation, catering and retail sectors, and underwrite the competitiveness of Australian […]


11 May, 2008

Indian Leaders Concerned About People Getting Drunk Off Power And Just Getting Drunk

Originally Published: 11 May 2008 Although India is in the news these days mainly for its massive economic growth and market potential, two side-effects are arousing a high degree of nationwide concern: The rise in both corruption and alcohol abuse. Last month, Indian Vice President M. Hamid Ansari delivered a speech in which he lambasted […]


6 May, 2008

Aussies To Clear Skilled Migration Visa Backlog

The Australian tourism industry is to be a primary beneficiary of an effort to clear a backlog of applications for temporary skilled migration visas by June 2008.


5 May, 2008

PATA’S CEO Challenge: A Look Behind The Hype

Although the first PATA CEO Challenge organised in Bangkok between April 29-30 led to an outpouring of ideas and initiatives on the issue of climate change, it failed to deliver on many of its other promised goals.


5 May, 2008

Lowest Turnout Ever At A PATA Conference

The Pacific Asia Travel Association last week sought to keep the focus of its message on the environmental outcomes of its first CEO Challenge conference while downplaying the fact that it recorded the lowest turnout of paying delegates in the history of PATA conferences. At the closing press conference after the two-day event last week, […]


28 Apr, 2008

PATA CEO Challenge Opens, Minus the Keynote Speaker

When the Pacific Asia Travel Association’s PATA CEO Challenge opens here tomorrow morning, most of the association’s own board members will not be present, nor will the keynote speaker, the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize co-winner Dr Rajendra Pachauri. Citing a number of professional or personal reasons, roughly 50 of the nearly 80-member board will not […]


27 Apr, 2008

NY Times Exposes Pentagon Mind-Bending to Promote Iraq War

Originally Published: 27 April 2008 A New York Times investigation exposing the spin doctors behind the Iraq war has further buttressed assertions that the American people, and the world at large, were lied to about the ongoing conflict. Along with journalists like Greg Mitchell, the editor of Editor and Publisher” whose book about the role […]


21 Apr, 2008

WTTC Summit Seeks “New Maturity” In Travel Industry

When the chieftains of some of the world’s largest travel & tourism companies meet for their annual summit in Dubai today (April 21-22), their agenda will reflect both the new realities of the industry as well as the mistakes the industry continues to make in addressing those realities. The World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC), […]


15 Apr, 2008

“Rein in the Destructive Impact of Private Equity Buyouts”

A spokesman for the IUF, a global trades union workers in the hotel and other sectors, says, “Private equity buyouts have been described as a tool for ‘enhancing efficiency in financial markets.’ For workers, the private equity bubbles have been a social disaster.”


14 Apr, 2008

2007 Thai Visitor Profile Analysis Indicates Six Key Trends

The statistical profile of Thailand’s visitor arrivals in 2007, just made public, clearly indicate six major trends that will impact on existing and future marketing and development plans. The final arrivals figure for 2007 as tabulated by country of residence, a far more important indicator of travel trends than by country of nationality, is a […]


13 Apr, 2008

Church Leader Blasts One-Sided Narrative of Holy Land Tours

Originally Published: 13 April 2008 Hundreds of Thai Christians heading for pilgrimage to the Holy Land are being exposed to “propaganda travels that further sway international opinion away from the hard facts of Israeli occupation,” church leaders say. Speaking at a consultation of church-backed tourism watchdog groups in Chiang Mai last week, Dr Prawate Khidarn, […]


9 Apr, 2008

Aviation, Tourism In Climate Change “Danger Zone”

Six major industry sectors – aviation, healthcare, tourism, transport, oil and gas and financial services — are in particular danger from climate change risks, claims professional services organization KPMG.


4 Apr, 2008

Whither PATA? It’s Longest Serving Member Speaks

Alwin Zecha, chairman of the Pacific Leisure Group of companies, is arguably the longest serving member of the Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA). Just prior to this week’s PATA Board of Directors meetings in Colombo, Mr. Zecha spoke to Don Ross, Editor of TTR Weekly, and Imtiaz Muqbil, Executive Editor of Travel Impact Newswire, fielding […]


4 Apr, 2008

India A Lucrative Market For Global Luxury Brands

Mr Kamal Nath, Union Minister of Commerce and Industry told the Mint Hindustan Times Luxury Conference that India today is no longer a mere testing ground for international luxury brands but a lucrative market in its own right.


3 Apr, 2008

Peace Is The Biggest Issue, Says Sri Lankan Tourism Leader

With the PATA Board and committee meetings under way in Sri Lanka, incoming PATA chairman Hiran Cooray, Deputy Chairman of Jetwing Hotels, Managing Director of Jetwing Travels Sri Lanka, offers some refreshing insights into the current and future of the Asia Pacific travel industry.


1 Apr, 2008

UN Says States Must Refrain From Profiling In Combating Terrorism

The UN Human Rights Council in Geneva today passed a resolution calling on States to not resort to racial, ethnic or religious profiling while countering terrorism.


31 Mar, 2008

Thai Tourism Sector To Help Subsidise PATA “CEO Challenge”

The Thai tourism industry has stepped in to help prop up the financial fortunes of the PATA CEO Challenge due to be held in Bangkok between April 29-30. In addition to the five million baht subsidy provided by the Tourism Authority of Thailand for the problem-plagued conference on the theme of climate change, the Thailand […]


31 Mar, 2008

UN Climate Change Talks Begin In Bangkok

The UN Bangkok Climate Change talks got underway on Monday, the first major UN-sponsored meeting on climate change after the UN Climate Change Conference in Bali in December 2007.


25 Mar, 2008

The State of The Asia-Pacific — In Statistics

The UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) has released its annual Statistical Yearbook, the region’s leading compilation of statistical data, which provides a detailed picture of the major economic, social and environmental trends in the region.


24 Mar, 2008

Youth Travel Trends Identified in 2007 Survey

Millions of young people taking to the road each year say that travel is impacting on their values and attitudes, and making them think about wider issues like social justice, poverty and international relations, according to a survey of global youth travel. The survey report, Youth Travel Matters: Understanding the Global Phenomenon of Youth Travel […]


18 Mar, 2008

“Clash Of Civilisations” Debuts At ITB Berlin 2008

For the first time, the topic of a “Clash of Civilisations” topped the programme roster of the ITB Berlin’s “Convention Market Trends and Innovations.”


16 Mar, 2008

Jewish Rabbi: U.S. Officials Quit Over Brothel Visits, But Not for Lying to Start Wars

Originally Published: 16 March 2008 The recent resignation of New York state governor Eliot Spitzer triggered a blitz of global soul-searching analysis in business, economic, political, lifestyle and social publications and weblogs. Perhaps the most enlightened commentary was written by Michael Lerner, the rabbi of Beyt Tikkun synagogue-without-walls in San Francisco and Berkeley, Chair of […]


11 Mar, 2008

‘Green Passport’ Campaign Launched At ITB 2008

Green travel tips for the world’s growing number of international tourists were launched by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).