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11 Nov, 2007

Ex-UNESCO Chief: Beware of Becoming “Simple Recipients of Often Biased Information”

Originally Published: 11 Nov 2007 As calls grow for more assertive “people power” movements in places like Myanmar and Pakistan, even louder calls are being heard for a global “people power” movement against the United States government and its “war economy” policies. Speaking at a global conference in Cordoba, Spain, late last month, Federico Mayor […]


9 Nov, 2007

$18 Billion to Build New Central Asian ‘Silk Roads’

Eight Central Asian countries have agreed to an $18 billion strategy to improve the regional network of roads, airports, railway lines and seaports to make the region a vital transit route for trade between Europe and Asia.


7 Nov, 2007

Beware the Private Security Firms, UN Report Warns

If safety and security issues are becoming important for the travel and tourism industry, the global activities of mercenaries and intelligence agencies should be of equal concern, a team of independent United Nations experts said today.


5 Nov, 2007

UNWTO Organises Cordoba Conference to Boost Religious Tourism

CORDOBA, Spain – With millions of people now on the move for “religious tourism,” the UN World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) has begun to turn its attention towards studying and analysing the issues related to its sustainability. The growth of interest in the Buddhist circuit is one aspect of this phenomena which covers two kinds of […]


31 Oct, 2007

Beware the “Other Global Warming”

The real reason we are at this conference is to address the “other global warming” – the rising geopolitical temperatures between peoples, societies, communities and countries. This geopolitical “global warming” is essentially caused by two groups of people: A tiny minority of unscrupulous politicians who promote divide and rule for parochial gain. And an equally tiny minority of fanatics who believe uncompromisingly that their way is the only way.”


29 Oct, 2007

GEO Report Seeks to Assess Monetary Value of Biodiversity

One groundbreaking aspect of the Global Environment Outlook 2007 issued last week is an attempt to estimate the monetary “value” of biodiversity. In this context, the value of coral reefs for fisheries and tourism is valued at US$30 billion/year, and the value of the herbal medicine market at roughly US$43 billion in 2001 figures. Although […]


28 Oct, 2007

A Warning About Global Warming, But Which One?

Originally Published: 28 Oct 2007 The Global Environment Outlook report released last week makes grim reading. However, upon perusing through its voluminous 572 pages, the key question that emerges is which “warming” should the global public prepare to address first? The word “war” features prominently in both global “warming” and global “warning”. While environmentalists warn […]


23 Oct, 2007

Cordoba Conference to Tackle the “Other Global Warming”

Along with the environmental global warming, the rising temperatures in relationships between peoples and religions, also known as a potential “clash of civilisations,” comprise another form of “global warming” and will also affect travel & tourism.


22 Oct, 2007

Condemnation of Air Passenger Tax Unwarranted & Unsound

The Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) and the International Air Transport Association (IATA) have joined hands in “condemning” the Dutch Government’s plan to tax outbound passengers by as much as EUR45 as part of an effort to reduce air travel and combat global warming. However, the knee-jerk condemnations are flawed, self-serving and indicative of an […]


17 Oct, 2007

Travel For The Disabled Gaining Momentum

An International Conference on Accessible Tourism (ICAT 2007) for people with disabilities is to be held in Bangkok between November 22-24 to highlight the need for improved facilities and services for a growing but still largely neglected market segment.


15 Oct, 2007

Bangkok to Host Tourism Disability Conference

An International Conference on Accessible Tourism (ICAT 2007) for people with disabilities is to be held in Bangkok between November 22-24 to highlight the need for improved facilities and services for a growing but still largely neglected market segment. “With a generation of permanently disabled people having experienced increasing degrees of employment, education, and leisure, […]


14 Oct, 2007

If the Burmese are entitled to freedom, aren’t the Palestinians?

Originally Published: 14 Oct 2007 It is hugely inspiring and uplifting to see the passion and energy being poured into the efforts to gain freedom for the people of Burma from the military dictatorship. There is justifiably enormous sympathy for the oppressed people of this strategically-important and resource-rich country which has produced international public figures […]


12 Oct, 2007

Climate Change: Industrialised Countries Speak

The last of a five-part series summarising the high-level presentations at the special UN session on 24 Sept 2007 under the theme: “The Future in Our Hands: Addressing The Leadership Challenge Of Climate Change”.


11 Oct, 2007

Climate Change: Energy Producing Countries Speak

The fourth of a five-part series summarising the high-level presentations at the special UN session on 24 Sept 2007 under the theme: “The Future in Our Hands: Addressing The Leadership Challenge Of Climate Change”.


10 Oct, 2007

Climate Change: Developed Countries Under Pressure To Do More

The third of a five-part series summarising the high-level presentations at the special UN session on 24 Sept 2007 under the theme: “The Future in Our Hands: Addressing The Leadership Challenge Of Climate Change”.


9 Oct, 2007

Climate Change: Battle Lines Are Drawn

The second of a five-part series summarising the high-level presentations at the special UN session on 24 Sept 2007 under the theme: “The Future in Our Hands: Addressing The Leadership Challenge Of Climate Change”.


8 Oct, 2007

More Air-links Sought between Thailand & Northeast India

The shortage of direct air-links with Bangkok has been identified as the significant most important bottleneck to boosting Thai investment in India’s North East region, the strategically-located area that is a critical part of India’s Lookeast policy. The single weekly flight by the newly merged airline Air India between Bangkok and Guwahati is “simply not […]


8 Oct, 2007

Climate Change: World Leaders Speak

In another first for travel industry journalism, Travel Impact Newswire today begins a five-part series summarising the high-level presentations by world leaders at the special UN session on 24 Sept 2007 under the theme: “The Future in Our Hands: Addressing The Leadership Challenge Of Climate Change”.


5 Oct, 2007

India Launches Buddhist Pilgrimage Train

The Indian Railway Catering & Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) has introduced ‘Mahaparinirvan’, a special train for the Buddhist Pilgrimage.


2 Oct, 2007

Aviation Safety? Not When It’s a Question of Serving U.S.Foreign Policy, Says Iran

Iran has challenged the International Civil Aviation Organization to deliver on its claimed focus on aviation safety by pressuring the United States to lift the sanctions on supply of spare parts and equipment to Iran’s civil aviation industry.


1 Oct, 2007

Iran Challenges ICAO Claims On Safety

Iran has challenged the International Civil Aviation Organisation to enforce the letter of its legally binding Chicago Convention and deliver on its claimed stress on aviation safety by pressuring the United States to lift the sanctions on supply of spare parts and equipment for Iran’s civil aviation industry. For the second year running, Iran called […]


30 Sep, 2007

Does the Islamic World have a “Tolerance Threshold”?

Originally Published: 30 Sept 2007 How much further must the Islamic world be pushed, insulted, humiliated, lied to, criticised and manipulated before the silent majority of Muslim intellectuals, businessmen, diplomats and other well-educated and well-read personalities decide that enough is enough. More importantly, how much longer before they begin to exercise their democratic right to […]


29 Sep, 2007

2008 A Year Of Reckoning For PATA

The year 2008 will be a year of reckoning for the Pacific Asia Travel Association. Two of its biggest sources of program revenues — the new CEO Challenge and the annual PATA mart — are going to be under pressure to perform.


27 Sep, 2007

The Growing Market For Overseas Education

The number of tertiary students enrolled outside their country of citizenship has grown from 0.61 million worldwide in 1975 to 2.73 million in 2005, mirroring the growing globalisation of economies and societies, according to a report issued by the Paris-based Organisation of Economic Cooperation and Development.


17 Sep, 2007

Airline Crew Unions Berate Impact of Cost-Cutting

The head of a trades union of American flight attendants has painted a sorry picture of the devastation caused to the lives of thousands of union members “by the exploitation of corporate bankruptcy” and the downstream impact of management efforts routinely characaterised as “rationalising costs” and “improving efficiency.” Testifying before the US House Subcommittee on […]


17 Sep, 2007

World Exclusive: UNWTO Warns Against Iran Conflict

The Deputy Secretary General of the UN World Tourism Organisation, Dr Taleb Rifai said that further hostilities in the Middle East would solve nothing but rather create problems that could cause incalculable damage worldwide.


10 Sep, 2007

Kingdom Hotel Investments Targets Asia for Growth

The Asian investment diversification policy of Saudi-owned Kingdom Hotel Investments (KHI) has contributed substantially to the company’s first half earnings, and is expected to grow in the years ahead Nearly all the hotel expansion undertaken by KHI, owned by Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal, in the past year has been in Asia, a region which generated […]


7 Sep, 2007

Campaign To Promote Workplace Wellness

The World Economic Forum has teamed up with the World Health Organization to launch a campaign to boost health and wellness in the workplace.


3 Sep, 2007

Sikhs Protest U.S. Airport Profiling

First it was just the metal detectors and body checks, then came removal of shoes, sharp objects and cigarette lighters followed by metal forks and knives as well as nail-clippers. Recently, water, liquids and gels have been placed on the list. Now comes the latest in a long list of insane security checks – permission […]


3 Sep, 2007

“Political Risks Greater Threat To Global Economy”

Political pressures present the greatest medium-term threat to global growth, according to a report released today by the World Economic Forum’s Global Risk Network.


2 Sep, 2007

CNN documentary paves the way for a wider global exploration of “God’s warriors”

Originally Published: 02 Sep 2007 The six-hour CNN documentary series, “God’s Warriors”, broadcast Aug 21-23 essentially proved right what Muslims have been long saying – that they are not the only “militants, extremists and zealots” in town. When a “former Jewish terrorist” talks about his role in planting a car-bomb that blew away the legs […]


27 Aug, 2007

India Okays Merger of Two National Airlines

India last week cleared the final legal hurdle for the merger of its two state-owned airlines Air India and Indian Airlines into a single company called National Aviation Company of India Limited (NACIL). To fly under the brand of ‘Air India’, the new airline will have a combined fleet of over 112 aircraft, putting it […]


20 Aug, 2007

Thailand Seeks Closer Trade, Tourism Ties with Islamic World

Two major finance- and business-related events to be held for the first time in Thailand next month are designed to boost trade, transportation and tourism links between Thailand and the Islamic world, and also become part of the multi-faceted efforts to address the problems in South Thailand. Hundreds of senior business and finance executives from […]


19 Aug, 2007

Marking 60 years of Freedom, India and Pakistan focus on what binds rather than divides them

Originally Published: 19 Aug 2007 There was plenty of soul-searching in both India and Pakistan as the two nuclear-club South Asian neighbours celebrated the 60th year of independence from British colonialism last week. Significantly, a key message that emerged from the speeches by their respective leaders was that neither country can afford another war. Both […]


13 Aug, 2007

Sri Lanka Hosts 2007 World Tourism Day to Polish Image

COLOMBO – Preparations are under way in Sri Lanka to host this year’s World Tourism Day on 27 September 2007, an international event that tourism executives hope will help offset what is shaping up as another calamitous year for the island nation’s industry. This year’s Tourism Day theme is “Tourism Opens Doors for Women,” a […]


6 Aug, 2007

2010 Commonwealth Games Host India Makes Sports Tourism Push

With the Commonwealth Games coming up in New Delhi in 2010, and cognizant of the huge economic and business potential of sports tourism, India has unveiled a policy initiative to upgrade the quality of its decrepit stadiums, attract more competitive events and boost the performance of its players and athletes. Designed to reap the financial, […]


6 Aug, 2007

Bottled Water Industry In Hot Water

The bottled water industry is under fire to account for the environmental impact of the millions of plastic bottles it uses.


5 Aug, 2007

As Speaker Flags “Islamism”, FCCT Moderator Tries to Silence Questions On Israeli Policy

Originally Published: 5 Aug 2007 The Arab-Israeli conflict erupted by proxy in full force at the Foreign Correspondents Club of Thailand last week as an Israeli propaganda effort to highlight the “Islamist” threat in Asia ran into some unexpectedly belligerent skepticism and opposition. In one of the stormiest meetings ever seen at the FCCT, the […]


30 Jul, 2007

Laos At the Crossroads — In More Ways Than One

VIENTIANE — Located right at the crossroads of the Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS), the rapidly growing tourism industry of landlocked Laos is at the same critical crossroads at which the Thai tourism industry found itself in the 1980s — the face-off between balancing “quantity” vs “quality” of visitor arrivals and boosting its ability to manage […]


30 Jul, 2007

Private Equity Firms Face Image Problems, Transparency Pressure

Seeking to counter a growing image problem and reputation as predatory buyout “asset-strippers”, private equity companies are trying to work out voluntary guidelines to provide more “disclosure and transparency” about themselves and their mega-billion dollar deals.


25 Jul, 2007

Next Big Thing: The “Happiness Business”

Bangkok – Is the phrase “travel & tourism industry” now outdated? If a rebranding is long overdue, how about the “happiness business”? Becoming arguably the first travel trade editor to cover a conference on promoting happiness organised at the UN regional headquarters in Bangkok last week, I was struck by the extent to which the […]


23 Jul, 2007

Private Equity Funds Guidelines Claim to Promote “Transparency”

Seeking to counter a growing image problem and reputation as predatory buyout “asset-strippers”, private equity companies are trying to work out voluntary guidelines to provide more “disclosure and transparency” about themselves and their mega-billion dollar deals. Declaring that “private equity needs to become more open,” a preliminary review of public disclosure requirements has been conducted […]


22 Jul, 2007

Study of “Happiness” is Becoming both a Science and a Business

Originally Published: 22 July 2007 The very simple exercise of pursuing public happiness as a national development objective is moving rapidly from the leftist lunatic fringe into the sphere of mainstream thinking. Although there is general agreement that the concept is valid and well worth being elevated to the level of public policy, it is […]


19 Jul, 2007

When will Asia muster the courage to start pushing back?

Originally Published: 19 July 2007 Tarrin Nimmanhaeminda is a man who chooses his words with care. Thailand’s finance minister during the critical Asian economic crisis, which just commemorated its 10th anniversary amidst much soul-searching, is well versed in both the intricacies of global finance as well as the English language. When he recounted the crisis […]


16 Jul, 2007

Asia-Pacific Airlines Group Blasts European “Blacklist” of Indonesian Carriers

The Association of Asia Pacific Airlines (AAPA) has made clear to European authorities it’s displeasure with the way the blanket blacklisting of 51 Indonesian airlines was assessed and announced, and sought more transparency in the process. In an interview last week, AAPA Secretary General Andrew Herdman said he had “forcefully” pointed out to the European […]


10 Jul, 2007

Global Businesses Face “Trust Gap,” Need To Reset Their “Moral Compass”

Global business leaders have been warned by a McKinsey Company survey that they are facing a “major trust gap” in how their companies are viewed by employees, consumers and the public.


9 Jul, 2007

China Gives More Flight-Path Approvals to Facilitate Polar Route

CHINA has agreed to a number of significant improvements in the flight paths over its air-space in order to facilitate the growing traffic over the polar routes between Asia and North America. The upgrades were conveyed to the aviation community at the fifth Special Air Traffic Systems Co-ordination Meeting between China, Mongolia, Russia and the […]


8 Jul, 2007

Now Asia’s Turn to Demand Accountability & Transparency From the West

Originally Published: 08 July 2007 Two watershed events were marked virtually back-to-back over the last fortnight. The 10th anniversary of the 1997 Asian economic crisis and the half-way mark of the 15-year Millennium Development Goals campaign both provided an opportunity to take stock of the past and take a fresh look at the future. Looking […]


2 Jul, 2007

Indonesians Blast European Ban on Garuda

Indonesian aviation and tourism authorities have been put on the defensive by last week’s European Union ban on Indonesian airlines, but are also beginning to question the timing, methodology and motivation of the move. Although the initial reaction has been again to plead their case before the EU Transport Commission and cite all the various […]


25 Jun, 2007

Beware the “Brutal” Private Equity Funds, Unions Warn

Continuing its campaign to warn governments and workers about the growing power of private equity funds, the federation of international unions in the hotel, catering, food and farm sectors has issued a report seeking to expose the funds’ inner workings and get them placed under greater public scrutiny. Produced in response to a growing number […]


24 Jun, 2007

Gandhi’s Pursuit of Non-Violence In Reality Was a Pursuit of Justice

Originally Published: 24 June 2007 The June 15 decision by the UN General Assembly to observe the International Day of Non-Violence each year on 2 October – the birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi — is intended to promote public awareness of, and deeper reflections on, the life and times of a revolutionary leader whose policies […]


18 Jun, 2007

Indian Aviation Industry Heading for Private Equity Hands

MUMBAI: Plagued by excessive capacity, over-competition, low yields and massive airline losses, India’s aviation industry is on its way to falling into the hands of foreign investors and private equity funds, according to several speakers at an aviation summit here last week. Companies such as Rothschild, the Citi group, Istithmar, Goldman Sachs, Temasek and Indigo […]


11 Jun, 2007

Whither Tourism Brands In a World of “Homogenised Culture”

KUALA LUMPUR — National tourism boards need to start speaking out “against turning every country town into a showcase for global brands,” the chairman of VisitBritain warned last week. In a keynote presentation at the World Tourism Summit convened here by the UN World Tourism Organization, Mr Christopher Rodrigues said, “The more global companies and […]


10 Jun, 2007

Jewish-American Neocon Openly Prays for Bush to Bomb Iran

Originally Published: 10 Jun 2007 On May 30, an opinion piece appeared in the pages of the Wall Street Journal with a very unequivocal message: It called on President Bush to bomb Iran. The concluding line is a revelation: “As an American and as a Jew, I pray with all my heart that he (President […]


28 May, 2007

Asia, Africa Unite On Aviation Emissions

Asian and African countries are making it clear to the aviation industries of the developed countries that they will not accept any disproportionate restrictions on their growth prospects as part of global efforts to curb emissions of greenhouse gases by aircraft. They made this clear at a “Colloquium on Aviation Emissions” organised by the International […]


27 May, 2007

Amnesty International Reports Pinpoints Causes of Global Fear, Insecurity & Instability

Originally Published: 27 May 2007 Amnesty International’s report for 2007 was published last week. It was hugely gratifying to see that it focussed on many of the subjects explored in this column over the years — from the negative impact of globalisation to the climate of fear and insecurity created by the “war on terror”. […]


21 May, 2007

India Plans 100% Private “Merchant Airports”

Indian government officials last week met with representatives of private sector business organisations, consultants and investors to seek feedback for an upcoming policy on creating 100% privately-owned “Merchant Airports.” Ministry of Civil Aviation Secretary, Mr Ashok Chawla said that “Merchant Airports” have been conceptualized as airport infrastructure entirely in private hands with private resources, including […]


14 May, 2007

India Nears Completion of Traditional Knowledge Library

India is nearing completion of a voluminous reference work known as the Traditional Knowledge Digital Library (TKDL) that will allow Western patent examiners to verify claims by people seeking to copyright, trademark or patent products and processes ranging from yoga to ayurveda. The National Institute for Science Communication and Information Resources (NISCAIR) is putting the […]


13 May, 2007

Religions akin to a confluence of rivers, all flowing in one direction

Originally Published: 13 May 2007 When Indian Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh, delivered the keynote address at the South Asian Inter-Faith Harmony Conclave last month, he said: “Nations and societies that seek to impose uniformity will give way to those who embrace and celebrate diversity. Every nation will have to learn to deal with the […]


11 May, 2007

No More One-Way Globalisation, Say India And China

China and India are coming together to defend the wider economic and trading interests of the developing countries in the World Trade Organization.


7 May, 2007

Middle East Hotel Survey Says “Market Correction” Awaits

DUBAI: With about 82,000 rooms projected to open across the Middle East and North Africa region over the next four years, “a market correction is likely to happen with lower occupancy levels and declines in average rate,” according to the latest Middle East Hotel Survey for 2007 by the HVS consultancy company. The report says […]


30 Apr, 2007

Emirates Attacks Critics of Aviation’s Role in Global Warming

DUBAI: Emirates airlines has unleashed a full-blown attack on critics of the aviation industry’s role in global warming, with the airline’s executive vice chairman claiming that emissions by European cows were a greater threat than those of aviation. Writing in the airline’s annual report for 2006/07 released here last week, Maurice Flanagan said, “Airlines are […]


29 Apr, 2007

Virginia Tech Massacre: Double Standards in Analysing the Root Cause of Violence

Originally Published: 29 Apr 2007 In addition to the appalling death and carnage of the Virginia Tech massacre, perhaps the most disturbing aspect was the sharp contrast in the way America and indeed the rest of the world analysed and probed its root causes, as against the way acts of violence are treated when Muslims […]


23 Apr, 2007

Indo-Pak Tourism Connectivity “Can Build Peace”

South Asian tourism officials are to meet in the Pakistani capital of Islamabad this week to discuss ways to boost people-to-people “connectivity”, a significant diplomatic upgrade from the former usage of the word “contacts.” The meetings of the UN World Tourism Organisation’s Commissions for South Asia, East Asia and the Pacific will closely follow the […]


16 Apr, 2007

Kingdom Hotels Buys 6th Hotel in Asia

Kingdom Hotel Investments (KHI), the company chaired by Saudi investor Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, has bought a 100% stake in a hotel in Kunshan, China, the sixth hotel it has picked up in the past 12 months as part of a vigorous Asian expansion spree. According to a KHI announcement, the purchase of the 387-room […]


2 Apr, 2007

Hotel Boards Under Transparency Pressure

A significant transition in corporate governance and executive pay is under way amongst the boards of public lodging companies as shareholders seek accountability and transparency like never before, according to the 2006 Hotel Industry Board Survey by the HVS Global Hospitality Services. The consultancy last week released the results of its 8th annual survey of […]


1 Apr, 2007

Indian Nobel Laureate Amartya Sen Pinpoints Why The World Has Become Unstable and Violent

Originally Published: 01 Apr 2007 Asia’s best-known economist last week used the 60th anniversary commemoration of the UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP) to remind the people of the Asian/Arab/Islamic worlds of their rich contributions to global civilization. In a profoundly inspiring lecture, Prof Amartya Sen, the first Indian and […]


26 Mar, 2007

Brand-Name Hotels More Likely to be Attacked, Say Security Consultants

Internationally-known brand name hotels are more likely to be the target of a terrorist attack than less well-known properties, two security consultants told a travel industry luncheon group last week. Speaking to the Skal Club of Bangkok, Tom Coghlan, CSP Managing Director and Fred Alimusa, CSP Training Director and Managing Director of Kerberos Co Ltd., […]


12 Mar, 2007

Another Tourism “Beauty Contest”, the WEF Competitiveness Index

BERLIN: Countries will soon be parading in yet another international beauty contest following the release of the World Economic Forum’s first Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Index (TTCI) last week at the ITB Berlin, the world’s largest travel trade show. Designed to “provide benchmarking tools that enable countries to identify key obstacles to competitiveness, and to […]


5 Mar, 2007

Indian Railways Upgrades To Regain Traffic Lost to LCCs

Hitting back against low-cost airlines to whom it has lost considerable business in the last few years, Indian Railways has announced plans for four high-speed railway links, 100 budget hotels on unused railway land, a systemwide cleanliness campaign and major changes in fares and reservation systems. Presenting the 2007-2008 budget to Parliament last Monday, India’s […]


4 Mar, 2007

The world is not flat, and never will be!

Originally Published: 04 Mar 2007 The shocks that reverberated through the global stock markets last week yielded yet another example of the 21st century economic pandemics that can spread faster than bird flu, and the threats of the aptly-named “problems without passports” in an age of globalisation. Globalisation, and its economic first-cousins liberalisation, privatisation and […]


26 Feb, 2007

U.S. Homeland Security Offers Travellers “Redress” Complaint Option

After years of complaints by the travel industry and civil rights groups, the US Department of Homeland Security moved last week to address the complaints of travellers who feel they have been unfairly singled out for security checks “based on race, disability, religion, gender, ethnicity or national origin.” In an announcement posted on its website […]


26 Feb, 2007

“Big Brother” Influence in Travel Grows Alongside Technology

The February 2006 release of yet another forecast about the growing impact of technology in “bridging the gap between travel providers and consumers” has further heightened concern about privacy and potential misuse of very personal information by private companies. Entitled “Future Traveller Tribes 2020”, the report was commissioned by the GDS Amadeus. It purports to […]


19 Feb, 2007

Indian Hotels Over-Priced Vis-a-Vis Product Quality, says HVS Report

India’s booming economy has made its hotels hugely expensive but the fact that the product quality does not match the price will do “more damage to India’s tourist industry than any good in the medium to long term,” an Indian hotel report warns. The Indian Hotel Industry Survey, covering 1,151 hotels (62,055 rooms) across various […]


18 Feb, 2007

Is Iran trying to “wipe Israel off the map”? Take a closer look

Originally Published: 18 Feb 2007 It should be no secret by now that the United States and Israel are fishing for a reason to justify an attack on Iran. Four years after attacking Iraq based on the marketing catch-phrase “Saddam has weapons of mass destruction,” preparations are clearly being made to expand the theatre of […]


8 Feb, 2007

Asean Tourism: Diverse, But Disunited

The 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) is the most diverse multi-country region on the planet. But its once powerful joint tourism marketing campaigns are no more.


5 Feb, 2007

Singapore Casino Barons Deflect Criticism Over Las Vegas Transplant

SINGAPORE: Developers of the Marina Sands Bay integrated resort here are deflecting criticism that there is nothing Asian about the US$3.6 billion dollar project and that it is just another transplant of a Las Vegas monolith. After years of presenting itself and its tourism industry as being deeply interlinked with the culture and heritage of […]


4 Feb, 2007

Holocaust Memorials Show How Easily Victims Can Become Victimisers

Originally Published: 04 Feb 2007 As always, the world marks Holocaust Day with great solemnity and remembrance. But even as they urge the world to reflect on the past, the actions of Western governments and the Jewish state of Israel prove year after year how little, if anything at all, they themselves have learnt from […]


29 Jan, 2007

Asia-Pacific Airlines Group Blasts Growing Security Hassles

The Association of Asia Pacific Airlines has poured out a litany of complaints about the growing security hassles facing the aviation industry. In its annual report for 2006, released last week, the Kuala Lumpur-based grouping of 17 regional airlines blasted the security hassles as onerous, costly, complicated, lacking coherence and standardisation, causing “emotional distress and […]


22 Jan, 2007

Thailand Set to Promote Its Unique “Royal Discovery” Projects

The Thai tourism industry is all set to promote the nine Royal Discovery Initiative projects which are being positioned as places that tourists would not normally get to see but are now being opened up as part of the 80th birthday celebrations of His Majesty the King. Although these are being presented as unique products […]


21 Jan, 2007

Survey shows global public believes world will be less safe, has no confidence in leaders

Originally Published: 21 January 2007 As preparations are finalised for this week’s World Economic Forum (WEF) in the glitzy Swiss resort of Davos, the annual jamboree of the rich and famous, the WEF has released the results of a global public opinion survey which “shows a growing lack of confidence in leaders to improve our […]


15 Jan, 2007

India Reaches Out Further To Make Diaspora Feel At Home

NEW DELHI: Holders of “Overseas Citizenship of India (OCI) cards are to be charged the same domestic airfares as resident Indians and also charged the same entry fees for National Parks and Wildlife Sanctuaries. Minister for Overseas Indian Affairs, Mr Vayalar Ravi announced this last week as part of continuing efforts by the Indian government […]


8 Jan, 2007

Thai Tourism, 20 Years After “Visit Thailand Year”

Although the New Year’s eve bomb blasts cast a pall over travel and tourism, it may be useful to recall that this year marks the 20th anniversary of Visit Thailand Year 1987 (VTY ’87), which commemorated the auspicious 5th-cycle 60th birthday of His Majesty the King and catapulted the industry to new heights, both within […]


7 Jan, 2007

10 Years After 1997 Crisis, Have Any Lessons Been Learnt?

Originally Published: 7 Jan 2007 In spite of all the prayers and hopes, 2007 has already gotten off to a less an auspicious start and promises to get worse, both at home and abroad. However, a number of important anniversaries this year offer an opportunity to reflect on the fact that many, if not all, […]


25 Dec, 2006

Thai Industry Sees No Impact Of Currency, Stock Crash

The Thai travel & tourism industry has shrugged off both last week’s turmoil in the stock market as well as the strengthening of the baht as having no immediate or short-term impact on either visitor arrivals or occupancies. However, a number of hoteliers and other industry executives said the situation may begin to have an […]


24 Dec, 2006

Nobel Prize Winner Muhammad Yunus asks: Is it globalisation, or financial imperialism?

Originally Published: 24 Dec 2006 In the light of global geopolitical developments of the past year, and economic developments in Thailand in the past week, the words of two Nobel prize winners in the past month will prove extremely insightful in pondering what awaits us all in the year ahead. On December 10, Muhammad Yunus, […]


18 Dec, 2006

Intrusive Security Helps Private Jets Boost Marketing Pitch

The growing exasperation of upmarket travellers with intrusive, arbitrary and constantly changing airport security procedures has provided a golden opportunity for marketers of private jets to step up their sales pitch. David Savile, CEO of the U.K.-based company Private Jet describes the experience thus: “Far away from scanners, and security staff asking me to surrender […]


11 Dec, 2006

Luxury Travel Targets 2% of World’s “Uber-Wealthy”

CANNES, France — The world’s growing list of “uber-wealthy” were the target of a luxury travel market organised here last week, with more than 2,500 delegates seeking a piece of the action estimated to be worth more than US$ 44 billion in travel expenditure. Deluxe yachts, private jets, remote islands and lavish resorts were among […]


10 Dec, 2006

Iraq Study Group report warns U.S. about dangers of staying the course

Originally Published: 10 Dec 2006 Like many Middle East watchers around the world, I carefully read through the Iraq Study Group report which, curiously enough, seemed to reflect the views of many of my columns over the past five years. And the global media reporting of its contents also seemed to reflect the same line. […]


4 Dec, 2006

Taj Hotels Acquires Ritz-Carlton in Boston

India’s Taj Hotels Resorts and Palaces continued a global expansion drive last month with a US$ 170 million acquisition of The Ritz-Carlton hotel in Boston, raising the company’s portfolio of hotels in India and abroad to 77. The group, which entered Thailand earlier this year with the announcement of a luxury property in Phuket, has […]


27 Nov, 2006

EU-India Aviation Summit to Yield Flights Bonanza

India and the European Union last week signed a Joint Declaration to pave the way for more bilateral flights and open up business opportunities for European companies in India’s massive civil aviation infrastructure requirements. The declaration was signed by the EU’s Vice President and Commissioner for Transport Jacques Barrot and India’s Minister for Civil Aviation […]


26 Nov, 2006

Why does peace remain so elusive in the Middle East?

Originally Published: 26 Nov 2006 I often get asked why I focus so much on the Middle East. An answer came in the past fortnight from the United Nations Deputy Secretary General Mark Malloch-Brown. Speaking on Nov 20 to an audience of diplomats and students of international affairs at an event organized by Washington University’s […]


20 Nov, 2006

Weekend Bookings by Mobile Phone Debut at WTM 2006

LONDON: Stressed-out executives idling over lunch are becoming major customers of weekend travel breaks being made bookable through a rapidly-growing medium — mobile phones. According to Gerry Samuels, Founder & Executive Director of Mobiletravel Technologies, for consumers with “time to kill”, mobile phones and devices like the Blackberry are quick and easy to use and […]


12 Nov, 2006

When you are Number One, the only place you can go next is down

Originally Published: 12 Nov 2006 “Operation Infinite Justice” continued to surge ahead in the last fortnight as both Saddam Hussein and George W Bush got their just rewards, each suffering a blowback for the suffering they have caused to hundreds of thousands of people in their own countries and worldwide. While Saddam was sentenced to […]


6 Nov, 2006

Climate Change Report Blasts Aviation’s Growing Role

Barely a few weeks after a University of Oxford report discussed the potential environmental impact of aviation-dependent island nations like the U.K., another report on climate change and global warming has sounded the warning at a global level. The flurry of these reports indicate that the era of unrestricted aviation expansion is about to end […]


30 Oct, 2006

More Flights from Thailand to Buddhist Circuit Sites

Buddhist pilgrims heading for the holy sites in India are set to benefit from a bonanza of new flights connecting Bangkok directly to the cities of Bodhgaya and Varanasi as of the winter schedule 2006/2007, effective this week. The thrice weekly flights each by INDIAN (formerly known as Indian airlines) and Thai Airways International will […]


29 Oct, 2006

When will the American people finally tire of being lied to?

Originally Published: 29 Oct 2006 Before reading any further, please log onto this website: www.truthdig.com/report/item/200601019_after_pats_birthday/. And note the words: “Somehow America has become a country that projects everything that it is not and condemns everything that it is. “Somehow the most reasonable, trusted and respected country in the world has become one of the most […]


23 Oct, 2006

Low Cost Airlines Facing Climate Change Scrutiny

Although aviation liberalisation and low-cost airlines are being widely credited for the short-term boom in travel and economic growth, their long-term ecological impact is facing increasing scrutiny. A report by the Environmental Change Institute of the University of Oxford, U.K., released earlier this month says that with governments coming under pressure to curb carbon emissions […]


16 Oct, 2006

Business Executives Push for “Fast-Track” Past Security Hassles

Business executives and their travel managers are beginning to push for speedier passage through increasingly tight aviation security queues, according to a survey by London-based aviation consultancy Ascend. While corporate travel managers (those who handle the travel plans of the giant global multinationals) said that passenger security whilst travelling is the most important issue, around […]


15 Oct, 2006

Good WILL triumph over evil, but evil will not go down without a fight

Originally Published: 15 Oct 2006 The day after my last column appeared a fortnight ago, excerpts began appearing in the US media from “State of Denial,” the newest book by Watergate sleuth Bob Woodward. The book effectively says what I have been saying for years: The Bush administration lied to the world about the reasons […]