KL’s Railway Station among World’s Most Beautiful Train Stations

Architectural Digest, an international magazine on designs recently published a list of some of the world’s most beautiful train stations on their online publication. Kuala Lumpur’s Railway Station was included at No. 4 among 26 other train stations. The list can be viewed here.

The Kuala Lumpur Railway Station was built in the year 1910 to replace a much older station. Located along Jalan Sultan Hishamuddin, the station is well-known for its beautiful architecture which has a mix of Eastern and Western designs.

The station was designed by a British Architectural Assistant to the Director of Public Works, Arthur Benison Hubback.  Hubback is also credited for the designs of 25 other buildings in Malaysia, of which 13, or more than half, are considered national treasures today. All of his work, save one which was bombed during the war, still stand in all their glory. The first building Hubback designed in Malaysia was the Sultan Abdul Samad building.


Singapore passport ranked fifth in the world

Singapore joins New Zealand and Switzerland in fifth place, where passport holders enjoy visa-free access to 170 countries around the world.

SINGAPORE: Singapore passport holders now possess the world’s fifth best-rated passport – up from sixth last year – according to a report by residence and citizenship planning firm Henley Global, released on Thursday (Sep 25).

Joining New Zealand and Switzerland in the fifth spot, Singapore passport holders can now travel to 170 countries around the globe without a visa, the Henley and Partners Visa Restrictions Index stated.

Countries at the top of the index include Finland, Sweden, the United Kingdom, Germany, and the United States. Citizens of these countries are able to travel visa-free to 174 destinations.

(Graphic: Henley and Partners)

“Visa requirements continue to play an important role in controlling the movement of individuals across borders,” said Dr. Juerg Steffen, Head of Asia Pacific at Henley and Partners. “Visa policies are also an expression of the relationships between individual nations and generally reflect the relations and status of a country within the international community,” he added.

The report also noted that passport holders from Hong Kong, which is in 15th position, have much better travel accessibility than their counterparts in China, which is 83rd.

Travel agency loses growth

BANGKOK, 18 February 2014: Association of Thai Travel Agents’ member companies handled 293,980 international tourists at Suvarnabhumi Airport in January representing a decline of 24.40% from 388,888 visits during the same month last year.

ATTA released its data, late last week, based on fees member agencies pay to the airport to provide a meet-and-greet service for international clients. It is considered an accurate barometer for the tourism industry, but is limited to travel through Bangkok’s main aviation hub.

The decline of arrivals in January reflected the ongoing political instability in Thailand that is now entering its fifth month. The situation seriously escalated in December through to mid-January when the to government announced a state of emergency.

Travel agency business was growing steadily every month until December last year, a positive trend that started in 2011.

The association reported in January Russia led the supply markets with 97,827 visits, but it was a decrease of 15.84% from 116,235 during the same month last year.

China followed in second with 65,666 visits down a whopping 57.57% from 154,752.

That trend according to travel agents is the most worrisome as China has been fuelling the tourism boom in the country since 2012.

The Japan market declined 59.80%. The country ranked third with 15,900 visits compared to 39,552 during the same month last year. South Korea, in fourth place with 12,302 visits dropped 55.02% from 27,350. India supplied 8,890 visits, a decrease 58.43% from 21,386 visits.

The next five markets were: Germany (8,342; -38.64%); France (5,717; -30.54%); the United Kingdom (4,520; -54.67%); Taiwan (3,799; -70.00%); and the United States (3,495; -29.34%).

ATTA president, Sisdivachr Cheewarattanaporn, said the association has lost hope that it can realise an earlier forecast that would have grown its members’ business by 7% to 10% from last year’s 4.5 million. Now a 5% growth looks more realistic.

“Normally, the first quarter of the year is considered our high season, but with ongoing political disorder, the industry has been definitely hit and the situation cannot be controlled by tourism-related operators.”

A new China law on outbound tourism, enforced last October, also worsened the situation, but the main cause of losses was the political chaos and sporadic violence on the streets of the capital.

Tourism industry leaders have called on the government to revoke the 60-day state of emergency decree in Bangkok and surrounding provinces to improve tourist confidence.

Top 10 source markets for ATTA agents January at Suvarnabhumi Airport

news source :ttrweekly

Travel advisories lifted for THAILAND

Six countries—Cambodia, Laos, Maldives, Vietnam, Iran and the UAE—have lifted their travel advisories for citizens planning to visit Thailand, according to the Department of Tourism (DoT) acting director-general Second Lieutenant Arnupap Gaesornsuwan.
He said the announcement was a good sign, after the Kingdom installed a new government and is anticipating lifting martial law in major tourist destinations.
About 50 countries, however, have kept their travel advisories, which warn citizens to exercise caution when visiting Thailand.
Only four countries—Greece, Malta, Oman and Uruguay—still advise citizens to avoid unnecessary trips to Thailand.
There are no countries which have banned citizens from travelling to Thailand, he said.
“We expect to see more countries to lift their travel advisories in the near future, due to the increasing confidence in safety issues and Thailand’s political stability,” Arnupap said.
Department statistics show that the total number of tourists in the last three months has increased. The total number of visitors in June was 1.5 million, a number which rose to 1.9 million in July and a little bit over 2 million in August.

NEWS: bangkokpost

Sky Bridge in Langkawi to Reopen in December

Langkawi’s Sky Bridge, which has been closed for maintenance and upgrading since 2012, will reopen in December this year.

According to The Star, the Langkawi Sky Bridge, considered as one of Malaysia’s biggest tourists’ attractions, will reopen in December, as 77% of the maintenance and upgrading works are complete. The delay, according to Langkawi Development Authority (Lada) chief executive officer Tan Sri Khalid Ramli, was due to bad weather.

The main structures of the bridge will be replaced with stainless steel and there will also be a 10m-long walkway in the middle to allow visitors to look down the valley. There will also be an “inclinator to bring visitors down from the top of the station,” said Khalid.

Another new attraction to look out for is the Langkawi Sky Dome, Southeast Asia’s first outdoor “full” dome. Built at a cost of RM1.53mil, the dome will give visitors a panoramic view while watching animated films.

news : star

Thailand introduces new visa regulations

BANGKOK: Thai authorities have implemented new visa regulations aimed at boosting tourism and tightening loopholes often abused by those who want to extend their stay.

Previously, tourists from 48 countries, including the United States, the United Kingdom and Singapore, could stay in Thailand for 30 days with a visa-exemption stamp from the Thai immigration. Now, for a small fee, they can extend their stay for another 30 days at immigration checkpoints within Thailand, without leaving the country. But this can only be done once.

While this is good news for those who want to stay in Thailand legitimately for a longer period of time, it affects those who are used to abusing the previous system, which allowed visitors to use the 30-day tourist visa extension stamp multiple times. In the past, some visitors had even gone on so-called “visa runs” – constantly leaving and entering Thailand’s border to get their passports re-stamped, to extend their stay indefinitely.

An expat from Canada who requested anonymity, going only by the name of John, said that the impact of the new ruling has already been felt. “People are worried about what’s going to happen,” he said. “I’ve been to farewell parties for friends who really wanted to stay here but now can’t.” 

The new regulation also tackles those who exploited loopholes in the education visa system. Prior to the changes, some education visa holders enrolled in fake study courses to extend their stay by a year, or in some cases, several years. The new law however only allows for a 90-day extension for education visa holders.

Authorities have also vowed to scrutinise more closely the schools in which the visa holders are enrolled.

“Officers are very strict now,” said Dr Prachern Tiyapunjanit, an immigration barrister with a firm associate with Baker&‎McKenzie. “They will look at documents from the school, attendance records, fees received before extending for another 90 days; every 90 days students will have to verify their authenticity as students.”

Still, Thailand’s new Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha has said that the authorities will act with restraint on visa runners, despite the tough new measures. Thai authorities refused Channel NewsAsia’s request to comment on the new regulations. Details of the new rules are available on the Immigration Bureau’s website but it is unclear as to how the authorities will actually enforce the regulation on foreigners who regularly enter Thailand.

Price war intensifies among Indian carriers…


There is good news for flyers looking to travel abroad on a shoe-string budget with SpiceJet offering tickets for as low as Rs. 2,999 to fly you overseas. SpiceJet will start daily non-stop flights to Bangkok from Kolkata from September 25 at a special introductory all-inclusive price of Rs. 2,999.

SpiceJet passengers can also fly to Bangkok from other destinations like Mumbai, Delhi, Bangalore, Chennai etc. All flights will, however be via-Kolkata. Tickets to Bangkok from Mumbai, Delhi, Bangalore and Chennai are all priced at Rs. 5599. 

SpiceJet had launched flights to Bangkok from Pune and Bangalore last October but discontinued the services from March this year, citing low passenger demand.

AirAsia too is offering its flyers in India an opportunity to travel abroad for as cheap as Rs. 2,600 as part of its “big sale” offer. Passengers can fly to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia from Cochin at an all-inclusive fare of Rs. 2,600. 

While the AirAsia fare from Chennai to Bangkok stands at Rs. 3,200, Chennai to Kuala Lumpur seats are up for grabs for Rs. 4,000. Bangalore to Kuala Lumpur tickets are available for Rs. 5,000 while Kolkata to Kuala Lumpur fares stand at Rs. 4,000. 

The AirAsia offer is available on bookings made till August 31, 2014 and travel period between March1, 2015 and October 24, 2015.

news source : ndtv

International visitors to Singapore down 2.8% on-year in first half of 2014: STB

Excluding China, visitor arrivals from other markets grew 2.3 per cent over the same six-month period, said STB.

Following the implementation of the new China Tourism Law in October last year, the number of Chinese visitors to Singapore fell 30 per cent year-on-year in the first half of 2014. “In addition, regional events like the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, the abduction of Chinese tourists in Sabah and the political unrest in Thailand have all had a dampening effect on Chinese tourism,” the STB said.

The decline in Chinese visitor arrivals was mostly from those who stayed in Singapore for a day or less, STB said. In contrast, the number of Chinese visitors that stayed for at least two days jumped by 21 per cent year-on-year to hit 406,000 visitors in the first half of 2014.

This resulted in the average length of stay by Chinese visitors increasing by 56 per cent year-on-year, from an average of 2.7 days in the first half of last year to 4.2 days this year.

“We are heartened to see an increase in Chinese visitors who visit Singapore as a single destination and stay for at least two days. This shows that we have been reaching out to the right target audience and providing them with an experience that they value and enjoy,” said Mr Yap Chin Siang, Assistant Chief Executive of STB’s Policy & Planning Group.


sourse:  channel news asia

AirAsia launches Redbox the new low-cost courier in town

AirAsia today launched Redbox, the new low cost courier in town, offering the best value-for-money express courier and parcel delivery service; wholly developed by AirAsia, providing customers up to 50% savings in costs compared to existing courier services.

Redbox is designed by the airline to provide low cost courier services for businesses, average consumers, corporate clients and overseas foreign workers for the carriage of regular parcels, business packages and documents throughout the airline’s extensive route network.

Jointly marketed by R Box Asia Pte Ltd, the new courier service is made easily accessible to the public online at redbox.airasia.com, with strategic operations in six Asia countries and 31 major towns in Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, the Philippines, Vietnam and Nepal.

AirAsia Group CEO Tony Fernandes said, “For us to remain in the forefront of the industry and to continue with our pledge to provide services at the lowest fares and rates, constant innovation and improvements to our products & services are very important. Ancillary income adds around 20% of our revenue and we are determined to boost this further with new services such as Redbox. With Redbox, we also hope to open up a new horizon for businesses in Malaysia and across the region. In the current economic climate, businesses can only benefit from low-cost courier services such as this, promising reliability and up to par with industry standards.”

“By tapping into our extensive route network which spans across over 88 destinations and 22 countries; as well as excellent flight frequencies in Malaysia and across the region, Redbox enables more commerce opportunities for local businesses, providing exclusive reach to various destinations not connected by other airlines. Especially beneficial for SMEs, Redbox’s low cost courier service affords lower operating costs, which are essential for SMEs to operate,” Tony added.

To enjoy AirAsia’s Redbox, customers may request for the low cost courier service online at redbox.airasia.com, as easy as booking flights with AirAsia, and payments can be made via Mastercard, Visa or Paypal.

For added convenience, customers may call Redbox Customer Service to arrange for pick-up of their consignments. Alternatively, customers can choose to drop their parcels at any of the Redbox outlets or drop-off locations.

Customers may also simply walk-in to any of its service centres to obtain its services, with the Redbox courier network presenting more than 300 outlets and kiosks with pick-up and drop-off facilities. The Redbox service centres accept cash for all transactions.

Redbox customers will enjoy swift, consistent, and timely deliveries of their parcels and shipments with services such as Door-to-Door Deliveries, Tracking & Tracing of Parcel, Online Booking, Online Payment and Insurance Coverage.

Customers may keep track of their shipments by using the Tracking & Tracing feature online, by keying in the consignment, airway bill or flight number provided.

Plans are currently in the pipeline for the airline to expand its courier services in other countries in the future, such as in Australia, Japan, China, Hong Kong and more.