tourism revives as SARS fear fades
Reuters, Hanoi, August 1
Tourist arrivals in Vietnam sharply increased in July from June
as the effects of the deadly flu-like SARS outbreak receded, but
the total number for the whole year is expected to fall around 23
per cent, officials said on Friday.
tourism industry has recovered faster than we had expected,"
deputy director of the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism,
Pham Tu, said. "There is a clear rising trend in visitors arrivals
for the rest of the year."
nation, which became the world's first to have declared free from
the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome in late April, received 153,530
foreign visitors in July, 44 per cent more than in June but 22 per
cent fewer than a year earlier.
the current growth, we hope to achieve our revised target of two
million (foreign) visitors by year end," Tu said.
body initially projected to host 2.8 million foreign tourists in
2003, a target made prior to the SARS strike.
data showed foreign arrivals to the Southeast Asian country in the
first seven months of this year totalled nearly 1.23 million, down
19.5 per cent on a year earlier. Vietnam's
tourism revenue in the first half of the year, hit by the disease
outbreak, was down 27.8 per cent on a year earlier, at $535 million.
The sector accounts for seven to eight per cent of the country's
arrivals were up from all key nations, with those from Australia,
France, China, Japan and South Korea soaring around 120 per cent
over June, but still 15 per cent less than the same month last year,
government statistics showed. The
hotel industry was among the first to feel the revival.
look much brighter now as business is up and running again,"
said Nga Doan, marketing manager of Sheraton hotel in commercial
hub Ho Chi Minh City. The hotel opened in April, when Vietnam's
hotels were only 25 per cent full, because of the virus.
and five-star hotels in both Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi, the capital,
all reported the occupancy rate this month bouncing back to between
40 and 75 per cent after aggressive discounting.
Newest World Heritage Site
On 2 July 2003, Vietnam gained its fifth UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The most recent meeting of the World Heritage Committee recognized
the Phong Nha caves as "one of the finest and most distinctive
examples of a complex karst landform in southeast Asia", officially
including them in its list of world monuments.
Named "teeth of the wind," or Phong Nha in Vietnamese,
this stunning system of caves and grottoes was carved by a winding
underground river. Located in the Trung Song mountain range in central
Vietnam, the Phong Nha - Ke Bang National Park was created in 2001,
covering 41,132 hectares of forest-covered limestone mountains.
With the highest rate of biodiversity of all Vientmese national
parks, this area has enormous potential for eco-tourism in the future.
The Phong Nha caves can be seen as a two-day excursion from Hue,
with an overnight in Dong Hoi. For more information, please contact
southwest Andaman coast is dotted with a myriad of little known
tropical islands, stretching south from Phuket, all the way down
to Langkawi on the Malaysian side of the international border. Literally
hundreds of beautiful tropical islands engulfed by crystal clear
waters, visited by few if any other tourists. These virtually unknown
islands offer great opportunities for exploring, snorkeling, scuba
diving and sea kayaking. What better way to discover this little
known region of the Thai / Malaysian coast than onboard a classically
built wooden Bugis sailing vessel.
Constructed in 1998 in the Bugis region of Sulawesi, 'Sampai Jumpa'
is a traditional Indonesian ketch, hewn from solid Teak and Ironwood.
The Bugis people have long been known throughout Southeast Asian
waters for their seaworthy sailing ships and outstanding navigational
abilities. The sailing routes of their rebellious ancestors were
primarily east to west, trading along the distant coasts of Madagascar
to the nearby Island of Singapore where today, stands the commemorative
So, like the Bugis sailors of years gone by, we invite you to join
us while discovering the most beautiful and unspoiled islands scattered
along the coast, between Thailand and Malaysia. Every night you'll
delight in the comfort of your own private modern stateroom while
the Sampai Jumpa quietly swings on her anchor in yet another pristine
Visit islands dense with tropical foliage, where you can wander
along the deserted beaches or swim in the warm crystalline waters,
among tropical fish and a vast array of colorful corals. Relax on
the large afterdeck as you watch the Sea Gypsies hand lining from
long-tail boats. Gaze into glowing sunsets while enjoying a veritable
feast of mouth watering local and international cuisine. Evenings
under the stars melt away to the accompaniment of melodies, reading,
games or quiet conversation. These are just some of the pleasures
we propose at the end of the day, after we've furled the sails and
said good-bye to the dolphins playing in our bow wave.
Sampai Jumpa sails out from a bygone era to offer a unique experience
to your family and friends. In Indonesia, Sampai Jumpa means "See
If you are interested in this trip, please contact us for schedules
biologist in the Mergui Archipelago. Well respected professional
wildlife biologist, Antony Lynam Ph.D, of The Wildlife conservation
Society, recently joined SEAL for a vacation and a bit of Adventure
in Myanmar's Mergui Archipelago. Antony has kindly written a report
on his observations of this stunning area. Click
here to view the report.
Novotel Phan Thiet under Renovation. Novotel Phan Thiet will be
under renovation from 4th August 2003 to 15th October 2003. The
renovation will affect the lobby area and the rooftop area of the
hotel. Otherwise, the hotel will continue to be fully operational.
Goldiana Angkor Hotel to open. The Goldiana Angkor Hotel is scheduled
to open on 1st October 2003, although it is already open for inspections.
Rooms will be available from October 2003 onwards. The hotel has
already received strong interest and is fully booked in November.
New Hotel in Vientiane. The B&P hotel has just celebrated its
opening in Vientiane. Ideally situated in old town center, only
50 meters from the Mekong River, this hotel is tastefully furnished
and is a charming alternative in the standard category. Many international
restaurants are within short walking distance.
Le Parasol Blanc
under Renovation. Le Parasol Blanc is closed for renovations from
now through 30 September 2003, reopening again in October.
Airline: Hanoi/Siem Reap Route. Vietnam Airlines is now offering
direct flights from Hanoi to Siem Reap, using the Airbus A320. This
will be a thrice-weekly service, effective from July 2003. For more
information, please contact us.
Airlines upgrades. Lao Airlines' (QV) has taken delivery of
its first commercial jet aircraft, an Airbus A320, which is already
operating on its major Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Siem Reap and Hanoi
routes. The airbus is configured with 130 Y-class and 20 business-class
seats. This is a key component of the flag carrier's overall reconstruction,
which is receiving technical assistance from a former Air France
Consulting executive and from Vietnam Airlines. We are also pleased
to inform our customers that Lao Airlines have retired their Chinese-made
Y7 aircraft, replacing them with ATRs on all domestic routes.
expands in Indochina. Thai Airways is introducing flights from Chiang
Mai to Luang Prabang and Yangon. It will be a thrice-weekly service
starting from November this year.
Air flies from Bangkok to Bagan. PB Air is launching its first flight
service to Bagan from Bangkok in November using the Embraer 145 with
50 Y-class seats and operating three times weekly. It also plans to
increase its Bangkok to Danang service from thrice weekly to five
times weekly later in the year.
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