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TRAVEL & TOURISM
 

Myanmar tops list with Southeast Asian destinations

Reinhard Hohler

Koh Samui placed third on the list last year, but has been replaced by Myanmar, or the Land of Golden Pagodas. Off-limits to foreigners for years, the country is back on the international tourist map after its government held general elections last year and released democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi after 15 years of house arrest.

Myanmar, long isolated, boasts numerous tourist and cultural attractions including Inle Lake in the eastern part of the country, Ngapali Beach on its western coast.

Listed in 15th place is the famous Halong Bay in Vietnam where visitors can enjoy a spectacular view of a myriad of limestone islands and islets. The destination is also a Unesco World Heritage site and one of the seven Natural Wonders of the World.

Koh Rong in Cambodia is in 23rd place. It is the country's second largest island 78km2 in size located in the Gulf of Thailand. It takes about two hours to get there from the mainland. The highlight is not only a stretch of beach 43km long, but also its rich marine ecology.

The last Southeast Asian destination on the list is Malacca. Malaysia's oldest city, 28th on the list, is also a Unesco World Heritage and it pulls in tourists with its unusual architecture and cuisine that reflect mixed Portuguese, Dutch and British influences dating back to its colonial roots.

For the full report, go to: travel.nytimes.com/2012/01/08/travel/45-places-to-go-in-2012.html


Mae Jo University poll on Royal Flora

Nopniwat Krailerg

Mae Jo University recently conducted a poll in Chiang Mai asking people what they think of the Royal Flora Ratchapruek 2011 which will be held until March 14, 2012.

The Giant Flora Wheel is a major attraction for most respondents of the poll.

93.3 percent of those polled believe that Chiang Mai Province was prepared to host the international horticultural event while 6.7 percent felt that Chiang Mai was not yet ready because of lack of transportation, car parking and low tourist numbers.

96.2 percent agreed that Expo would stimulate tourism in Chiang Mai as it would show the beauty of the Province to visitors as well as the many activities on offer. They believed it would extend the tourist season while only 3.8 percent felt that was not the case as the tickets are expensive and not all tourists would come just for the Royal Flora Expo.

A majority of respondents, 64.9 percent, felt that the Giant Flora Wheel was the number one attraction while the second was the Imagination Garden of Lights while the mascot, Nong Khun came in third with 34.9 percent.

When asked about suggestions to promote the Royal Flora Ratchapruek 2011 61.1 percent said there should be communication to help tourists to travel easily. Followed by 55.8 percent who felt it should be the promotion of local tourism and other attractions as well as reduce the price of admission, that prices of food and drink should be reasonable.

80.7 percent of those polled said they plan to visit the Expo for special events and will go as a family. 19.3 percent said they do not plan to go as the tickets are expensive and travel expenses would be too high.


Sihanoukville gets regular air link

By Reinhard Hohler

Cambodia’s southern coastal province of Sihanoukville has finally received scheduled flights with Cambodia Angkor Air’s launch of thrice-weekly services from Siem Reap.

The flag carrier inaugurated the route on December 19, which it operates to Sihanoukville International Airport using a 65-seat ATR72 aircraft.

One of the country’s three airports that are developed and managed by Cambodia Airports, Sihanoukville International Airport had not attracted any regular flights up until now.

Cambodia Airports CEO Emmanuel Menanteau said: “We are proud and delighted to have the national flag carrier be the first airline to launch scheduled flights to/from Sihanouk International Airport.

“Regular air access is critical to unlock the huge potential of the Kingdom’s coastal area, to create opportunities for tourism and trade and to drive the socio-economic development of Cambodia,” he added.

Cambodia Airports has so far invested more than US$30 million on the development of Sihanoukville Airport, including an extension of the runway from 1,400m to 2,500m, an enlargement of its shoulders to 45m, and the doubling of passenger terminal floor area to 1,000m2.


Some 14% tourism growth in Cambodia

By Reinhard Hohler

According to media sources in Phnom Penh,  international tourist arrivals in Cambodia has increased 14 percent year-on-year in the first eleven months this year, the statistics of the Ministry of Tourism revealed on Friday.

From January to November this year, the country has welcomed 2. 58 million foreign visitors, up 14 percent from the same period last year, the report mentioned.

Viet Nam topped the chart among the top ten arrivals with 564,532 tourists, up 20 percent, followed by South Korea with 304,922, up 17 percent, and Chinese tourists at third up 37 percent with 220,476.

During the same period, Thai tourists to Cambodia declined by 26 percent to 101,118 due to the two countries' border clashes earlier this year.

Furthermore, the report mentioned that 51 percent of the visitors travelled to the country by air, 46 percent by land and the rest by waterway.

The Minister of Tourism Dr Thong Khon said Cambodia sees China as the big potential market for Cambodia's tourism and the country expected to attract at least 1 million Chinese tourists by 2020.

The tourism industry is one of the major four pillars supporting Cambodia's economy. In 2010, the sector received a total of 2.5 million foreign tourists, generating a revenue of 1.75 billion US dollars.


HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]y]

Myanmar tops list with Southeast Asian destinations

Mae Jo University poll on Royal Flora

Sihanoukville gets regular air link

Some 14% tourism growth in Cambodia