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  #61  
Old 03-27-2005, 02:04 AM
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BBC

Three months on from the tsunami disaster, the rebuilding of hotels and infrastructure in the hit areas is well under way


But a major challenge remains: to restore confidence among international tourists.

To do so is crucial since "many of the tsunami-hit economies rely on tourism", points out John Koldowski, strategic intelligence director of the Pacific Asia Travel Association (Pata).

But it is an uphill struggle.

"As a direct result of the tsunami there is a risk that 9% of international travellers planning a holiday in 2005 have switched their travel plans to other regions," says a report published this month.

The "Post-Tsunami global travel intentions" report, commissioned by the intergovernmental World Tourism Organisation (WTO), highlights how those worst hit by the tsunami have also been the ones hit by the sharpest falls in visitor numbers.

"Since the tsunami disaster, there has been a significant drop in international travel to affected tourist destinations such as Phuket in Thailand, Sri Lanka and the Maldives," says James Murray, executive with Visa International Asia Pacific which co-authored the report.

This, he says, has "severely damaging the livelihood of many local communities dependent on tourism revenues". Other countries, meanwhile, have escaped pretty much unscathed.

"Contrary to the general perception, the tourist arrival in [India] has increased after the tsunami disaster," says Renuka Chodhury, minister of state for tourism in India - where the sector is the third-largest earner of foreign exchange.

Everyday life

Asia's tourism industry is particularly keen to attract those who feel it would be inappropriate to arrive in a tsunami-affected resort at a time when the locals are still grieving.

"Tsunami-affected Indian Ocean destinations need visitors again," insists Pata communications director Ken Scott.

To hammer home the point, the WTO has produced 20,000 stickers with the slogan 'Tsunami - tourism helps recovery'.

The international tourism industry recognises that aTRFuism is not the only reason why tourists are staying away.

Travellers also worry about health and sanitation, about the quality of infrastructure, and about the state of tourist facilities and service levels.

Their concerns are unfounded, tourism officials insist.

"These problems of perception are an issue not only for those locations directly affected by the tsunami, but for many others in the region," says Visa's Mr Murray.

Among the tourists who are still coming to Asia, many are choosing destinations away from those affected by the tsunami.

But there is a parallel trend which is hitting destinations such as Hong Kong and Singapore. A fall in the number of tourists coming to Asia has caused a fall in tourism in popular hub or stopover destinations.

Visa estimates that the fall-off in travellers will cost Asia $3bn in tourism receipts this year, with the burden evenly split between affected and non-affected areas.

Companies hit

Then there are the non-Asian victims, namely travel agents and airlines in other countries.

In some cases, their customers have merely travelled to other destinations in their catalogues, though specialist Asia operatorshave lost out to competitors offering trips to other parts of the world.

First Choice, which says the tsunami cost it 1m in returning tourists and ticket refunds alone, has seen an 18% rise in sales of summer holidays, buoyed by a 32% rise in demand for long-haul.

Yet First Choice's sales to tsunami-affected areas remain lower than they were last year.

Moreover, with consumers being notoriously fickle, many who had planned to go to Asia will have cancelled their holidays altogether, only to spend their money on televisions, sofas or cars instead.

Tourists to return

To lure travellers back, several tour operators, including Premier, Thomas Cook, Kuoni, and Jewel In The Crown, have been offering notable price reductions.

Carriers, such as Sri Lankan Airlines, which saw its annual profits erased by the disaster, have also cut prices.

Most agree they are dealing with a short-term problem and that a recovery will soon reinforce Asia's importance as a tourism destination.

The WTO even says the tsunami could provide a long-term boost, by increasing awareness of the region's destinations.

Pata predicts that every destination in the Asia Pacific region, including those affected by the tsunami, will see growth in the number of tourists arriving between this year and 2007.

Average growth should be 11%, with individual estimates ranging from 4% in Pakistan to almost 21% in Malaysia, Pata says.

WTO's secretary general Francesco Frangialli agrees.

"The tsunami has failed to inhibit the growth of tourism to Asia, which continues to expand vigorously and which has already proved in past years its remarkable ability to react to changes."
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  #62  
Old 03-27-2005, 02:12 AM
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The stillness of a spring afternoon in southern Sri Lanka is broken by the sound of workmen hammering as they rebuild a beachfront hotel.

Three months ago, I met Nath Gunawardene of the Dilen's hotel in the country's southern coast standing amid the debris of his property.

Now five rooms out of 15 in his budget hotel have been rebuilt, the lobby has been refurbished and painted and new furniture has been bought for the tiny reception. But there is no one to occupy the rooms.

"We've had a few aid workers and a couple of local businessmen staying with us for a night or two," says hotel manager Jayanta Gamage.

"But no foreign tourists

It's a scene that is repeated across Sri Lanka. Its famous beach resorts, usually filled with upmarket clients from the United States, Britain and Germany, are running at 20% of their capacity.

"Business has just not picked up since the tsunami," says Sanjiva Gautamdasa, general manager of the Lighthouse hotel and spa in the southern town of Galle.

Many hotel owners, already badly hit by tsunami damage and rebuilding costs, have been forced to reduce prices by 30% to 40%.

"But even that has not helped," adds Mr Gamage of the Dilen's hotel.

Controversial rule

But the hotel owners are also up in arms over a new rule passed by the Sri Lankan government to create a buffer zone within 100 metres of the shoreline. In effect, no new construction is allowed within this limit. While existing legal properties will be allowed to stay, it is not allowed to build anything new or repair damaged buildings falling in the zone.

While environmentalists have welcomed the move, others are upset.

"Do you think tourists would want to stay with us if we are far away from the beach," asks Sanath Liyanage, who owns a small hotel on Unawatuna beach in the south.

"It's a ridiculous decision," he says. "The highway runs close to the coast along most of this region and it would be unacceptable to relocate beyond that."

Pirgit and Rosy, visiting from Germany, agree.

"Why would you come here if you can't stay near the beach," says Pirgit. The decision is seen as hurting small hotel and restaurant owners more than it does the big operators who can benefit from having a clear stretch of land in front of their property right up to the water's edge.

No money

The rule has also upset the plans of many businesses which were looking for financial assistance to get back on their feet. Sumit Wijesena runs the Unawatuna diving school and estimates that he lost close to $4m in damages caused by the tsunami. But, when he approached local banks for a loan, he was turned away because his business was located within the buffer zone.

"I have to stay by the water, what do I do?" he says. "Why are they targeting small businesses like mine? The government itself has built structures close to the sea. I'd like to see them pull those down."

Eco-tourism

But some Sri Lankan tour operators and businesses believe that the tsunami has given the island an opportunity to promote a different brand of tourism.

Wildlife photographer Gehan de Silva Wijayeratne says several rare species of birds and animals can be spotted in many of the country's natural parks.

"Red-headed Bunting, Black-headed Bunting - two migrant species of birds, not recorded before in Sri Lanka have been observed at Uda Walawe National Park," which lies close to the south coast, he says.

Mr de Silva Wijeyeratne, who is also CEO of Jetwing Eco holidays, is among a small tribe of tour operators keen to draw tourists away from the country's famed beaches and to its nature trails and natural parks. But above all, he would like the visitors back and believes they could help the country's post-tsunami recovery.

"Many people live directly or indirectly in the coastal areas in Sri Lanka by the tourism dollar, so the best way one could help, is to continue bringing tourists and not cancelling bookings that have already been made."
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  #63  
Old 03-27-2005, 09:59 AM
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According to the Britih Royal Website,Prince Andrew will visit Thailand in April.
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  #64  
Old 03-27-2005, 10:21 AM
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Prince Rashid of Jordan, I believe, has already visited one of the affected areas
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  #65  
Old 03-29-2005, 06:47 AM
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Indonesia has been hit by a quake:

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/7316846/

fears of a second tsunami arise
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  #66  
Old 03-29-2005, 06:56 AM
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Oh it's really terrible!Poor all people in Indonesia.Wish them can get over it.
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  #67  
Old 03-29-2005, 07:33 AM
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Originally Posted by HMQueenElizabethII
Oh it's really terrible!Poor all people in Indonesia.Wish them can get over it.
it certainly is heart breaking, the death toll for this new quake is as of yet 1000 people and it's expected to rise still further. I'm so sad that they've been hit so soon again by another natural disaster
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  #68  
Old 03-29-2005, 07:53 AM
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here is another article on this new catstrophe:
http://www.nytimes.com/2005/03/29/in...rtner=homepage
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  #69  
Old 03-29-2005, 08:04 AM
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That's so terrible.I wish God bless them.I really sorry for the Indonesian.
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  #70  
Old 03-30-2005, 12:48 AM
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yes, it is very sad they've been hit with two natural disasters in such a short period of time. So many lost lives, it's just goes to show how fragile life is and that we really should live every moment to the fullest.

-Eliza
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  #71  
Old 06-22-2007, 01:08 AM
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Has any royals taken part in post activities due to the tsunami
i mean visited the effected areas the years after.
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  #72  
Old 06-22-2007, 01:42 AM
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In another thread (I've met Charlotte-if I'm not mistaken), someone post that Prince Albert of Monaco did visit Indonesia around December 2006. From local papers I also read he revisited by the end of January 2007. Queen Sofia also came to Indonesia and visit the effected areas but I forgot the time, but it's few days before Pr Letizia's sister passed away. Don't know about other areas outside Indonesia.
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  #73  
Old 06-22-2007, 11:51 AM
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I remember Sofia's visit because she flew home early due to Erika's death.

I don't think any others have visited the affected areas since then. Did they have any sort of memorial service during the Thai celebrations last year?
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  #74  
Old 06-23-2007, 04:34 AM
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Originally Posted by Josefine View Post
Has any royals taken part in post activities due to the tsunami
i mean visited the effected areas the years after.
Prince Charles was the first he visited in Sri Lanka in March 2005 he later went on to an official visit to Australia. Danish CP Frederik and Mary visited Thailand in April 2005, they then went on to Japan for Expo.

The Swedish King and Queen attended a memorial service in Thailand last year.
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