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.

Thailand is Number One in the world for most beachfront hotels and resorts

Thailand ranked first place in the new Global Beachfront Awards that recognise countries with the most accommodation located directly on the beach.
In a poll carried out by the Beachfront Club, Thailand came ahead of many of the world’s best-known seaside destinations with an amazing 1,270 true beachfront hotels, resorts and bungalows where guests can step from their hotels and onto the sand. This puts the kingdom ahead of the USA, (1,016 hotels), Mexico (943), Spain (736) and Philippines (591).
IMG_6796Intercontinental,SamuiThe Global Beachfront Awards recognise countries with the most true beachfront hotels; that is, accommodation with no obstructions or roads between guest areas and the beach itself. The Awards were established to publicise hotels where travellers and beach lovers can enjoy a true beachside setting and not feel they have been subjected to false advertising about beach-side locations.
Mr. Thawatchai Arunyik, TAT Governor said, “With their warm waters, soft sands and stunning, romantic backdrops, Thailand’s beaches have always been a major draw for tourists looking to enjoy a little piece of tropical paradise. So it comes as no surprise to anyone that the kingdom is making waves internationally, becoming even more popular among international tourists.
“Being able to step your hotel right onto the sand has always been the perfect way to enjoy Thailand’s islands and coastline and we’re always working hard to preserve our beaches for generations to come.”
In addition, one of Thailand’s most popular islands of Ko Samui won the Global Beach Destination Award, which recognises single destinations that have the most beach-side accommodation. With 270 properties right on the sand, Samui beat some of the world’s best-known destinations including Mexico’s famous Riviera Maya, Mallorca in Spain, (a hot spot since the 70s) and the Mediterranean island of Crete.
The Beachfront Club was established to help travellers find and experience true beachfront hotels and tourism. Their interactive website with maps and extensive database aims to register every proper beachfront property in the world, from boutique resorts to big brands and has now identified over 11,000 beachfront hotels and resorts in 109 countries.

Source:- TAT

India witnesses 113.3% growth in “Tourist Visa on Arrival”

As a facilitative measure to attract more foreign tourists to India, the Government launched the “Visa on Arrival” (VoA) Scheme in January 2010 for citizens of five countries, viz. Finland, Japan, Luxembourg, New Zealand and Singapore, visiting India for tourism purposes. The Government extended this Scheme to the citizens of six more countries, namely Cambodia, Indonesia, Vietnam, the Philippines, Laos and Myanmar in January 2011. Recently Govt of India has extended Visa on Arrival (VoA) Scheme for South Korea for which Ministry has started receiving data w.e.f 15th April 2014. The following are the important highlights of VoAs issued during July, 2014.

(i) During the month of July 2014, a total of 2,462 VoAs were issued under this Scheme as compared to 1,154 VoAs during the month of July 2013, registering a growth of 113.3%.

(ii) During January-July 2014, a total number of 14,415 VoAs were issued as compared to 10,482 VoA during corresponding period of 2013 registering a growth of 37.5%.

(iii) The number of VoAs issued under this scheme during July 2014 for nationals of the twelve countries were South Korea (929), Japan (324), the Philippines (321), Singapore (283), New Zealand (277), Indonesia (207), Finland (43), Myanmar (30), Vietnam (28), Cambodia (15), Luxembourg (3) and Laos (2) .

(iv) The number of VoAs issued under the Scheme, during January-July 2014 were Japan (2,888), New Zealand (2,357), South Korea (2,154), the Philippines (2,010), Singapore (2,008), Indonesia (1,799), Finland (643), Myanmar (247), Vietnam (144), Cambodia (87), Luxembourg (67) and Laos (11).

(v) During January-July 2014, the highest number of VoAs were issued at New Delhi airport (6,661) followed by Mumbai (2,871), Chennai (1,977), Bangalore (1,026), Kolkata (948), Kochi (419), Hyderabad (363) and Trivandrum (150).

TATA-SIA UNVEIL FULL-SERVICE AIRLINE ‘VISTARA’

Tata SIA Airlines Limited (TSAL) has announced that the much-anticipated brand name of its new airline will be Vistara. Vistara, which is expected to start operations in October, 2014, aims to transform the air traveller’s experience. With an obsession for quality in every aspect of customer engagement, the airline will treat travellers as unique individuals and delight them with intuitive thoughtfulness.

Speaking on the occasion, Prasad Menon, Chairman, TSAL, said, “Today is a momentous day for the Tata group and Singapore Airlines. Vistara will redefine the way we travel in India. I can confidently say that Tata’s and SIA’s legendary hospitality standards and service excellence will make Vistara a natural choice for passengers”.

Commenting on the significance of SIA operating in India along with Tata, Swee Wah Mak, Director, TSAL, and Executive Vice-President Commercial, SIA, said, “From a global investor’s perspective the Indian aviation sector has a lot of potential for growth and I am delighted that SIA now has a fruitful role to play here. SIA’s world renowned tradition of service excellence will contribute to the creation of the finest flying experience in the Indian skies through Vistara”.

The name Vistara is derived from the Sanskrit word ‘Vistaar’, which means ‘limitless expanse’, and draws inspiration from the brand’s domain — the ‘limitless’ sky. The logo is derived from a ‘yantra’, a perfect mathematical form that reflects the unbounded universe.

Mukund Rajan, Member – Group Executive Council and Brand Custodian, Tata Sons, and Director, TSAL, said, “All of us at Tata are extremely pleased to have witnessed the coming together of all the elements that have led to the realisation of Vistara, a long cherished dream for the group that pioneered civil aviation in the country. The creation of a new full-service carrier is a matter of great pride for us”.

Headquartered in Delhi, Vistara will take delivery of its first plane, an Airbus A320-200, in September and plans to increase its fleet to 20 aircraft, including A320neos, by the end of the fifth year of operation.

TSAL also unveiled the uniforms of crew and staff. Designed by the well-known duo, Abraham & Thakore, the ensemble captures the spirit of Vistara – elegant, practical and embodying the best of the Indian tradition.

Phee Teik Yeoh, CEO, TSAL, said, “We aim to deliver a seamless experience via personalisation of services for guests who travel with us. Our core belief is that we will be intuitively thoughtful about our guests’ needs from the time they contact us to the time they leave the airport. Whether they are leisure or business travellers, we would like to make a significant difference at every stage of their air travel experience, and truly bring back the joy of flying”.

Vistara’s brand name and logo is the result of an exhaustive design and creative process undertaken by India’s premier brand consulting and design company Brand Union Ray+Keshavan. The core values, which form the framework of brand Vistara, include excellence that surpasses customer expectations, thoughtfulness that demonstrates empathy and understanding, trust that upholds integrity, fairness and transparency, innovation to deliver operational excellence and cost leadership, and teamwork to build collaboration and diversity.

The brand personality exudes an elegant and refined spiritedness reflective of a service experience that will be tech savvy, meticulous, and authentic. Vistara aims to anticipate the needs and desires of its customers such that they are imbued with the experience of a welcome guest rather than a seat number.

Phee Teik Yeoh added, “We aim to build an emotional connect with our guests, through our service excellence delivered by the best people, supported by best in class technology and processes. Vistara will redefine industry standards and aim to be the finest full-service airline of choice”.

Russian tour market turmoil

More than 27,000 Russian tourists have been stranded overseas, a tour operators association said Monday, as the latest in a series of travel companies failed amid strains over the Ukrainian crisis.
“All the tourists are abroad without return tickets” after the Labirint (Labyrinth) company announced Saturday it halted operations, said the Tourhelp service of Russian foreign tour agencies which is trying to help those stranded find seats on flights chartered by other travel firms.
Labirint is the fourth Russian tour operator to go bust in the past three weeks as jitters over the conflict in Ukraine has led to a slide in bookings for Russians to travel abroad.
A deterioration in the value of the ruble has also cut into the margins of operators.
“The negative political and economic situation has influenced the number of bookings” and a drop in the value of the ruble “has hit buying power” of Russians, Labirint said in a statement explaining the reasons for a halt in its operations.
While Western sanctions have yet to have a signficant direct impact on the Russian economy, the crisis has hit the value of the ruble, which has slid by 11% from a peak last September.
A spokeswoman for Russia’s Federal Tourism Agency, Irina Shchegolkova, said on Echo of Moscow radio that “we worry that this is only the beginning and that there will be a domino effect.”
However Russia’s federal investigative service said Monday it was probing Labirint and another tour operator which failed last month, Neva, for possible fraud.
EU sanctions have so far forced the Aeroflot national flag carrier’s low-cost airline Dobrolet to suspend operations due to its flights to Crimea, seized from Ukraine by Russia in March.
The controversial flights to the strategic Black Sea peninsula prompted Western leasing companies to cancel contracts for the carrier’s Boeing aircraft.

Tourism Malaysia creates cycle grand prix

Tourism Malaysia is putting cycle tourism on the map with an ambitious Mountain Bike Grand Prix that will tour the country from August to the end of the year.
A launch of the Mountain Bike Grand Prix event and press conference will be hosted by YB Minister of Tourism and Culture in the Malaysian capital, 12 August.
Tourism Malaysia is partnering with Harian Metro publication to organise the grand prix series, the first of its kind for mountain bike enthusiasts.
The Grand Prix will be scheduled in Perak, Penang, Pahang, Melaka and Selangor starting this month and ending in December.
The Grand Prix series is expected to attract mountain bikers from around ASEAN, particularly neighbouring Singapore and Thailand where there are thousands of avid cyclists keen to join regional competitions.
The event is a part of a ongoing programme initiated by Tourism Malaysia to promote cycle tourism in the country as a way to encourage a healthy lifestyle and support more green tourism activities.
Efforts to get the travel trade to partner and create cycle tours resulted in more than 200 packages being developed by some 95 local travel agencies.
In its pre grand prix publicity Tourism Malaysia said the successful cycle itineraries included “Discover Putrajaya Cycling Packages”, “Cuti-Cuti 1Malaysia Perak Bike Ride-Discover Perak Cycling Package”, “Cuti-Cuti 1Malaysia Bike Ride-Georgetown-Bicycle & Trishaw Packages” and “CC1M Johor Bike Ride.”
Malaysia was the first country in ASEAN to establish an internationally recognised annual road bike race, the Tour de Langkawi.
It is now on the annual international road race circuit in Asia and used as a pre-season build up for international teams that will compete on the European circuit of major tours including the Tour de France and Italian Giro.