Showing posts with label Visitors. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Visitors. Show all posts

Saturday, 2 November 2019

Thai cave reopens for visitors after Wild Boars rescue

Thailand has reopened the cave where 12 young soccer players and their coach were trapped last year in a saga that captivated the world.
The Tham Luang cave has been closed to visitors since the Wild Boars soccer team were rescued alive after nearly three weeks inside the grotto’s waterlogged corridors.
But the world-famous cave in northern Chiang Rai province was re-opened Friday, drawing some 2,000 tourists in a single day, a local conservation official told AFP.
“We have allowed visitors to see the mouth of the cave,” said Kamolchai Kotcha, director of the local conservation office that oversees the cave.
Guests are not allowed beyond the entrance for now, where they can peer into the cave opening, but officials said they were considering allowing people deeper inside after surveying the safety of the route.
Some of the rescue equipment left behind — including telephone wires, hoses and zip lines — could be exhibited inside the cave for visitors to view in the future, Kotcha said.
Photos from the opening on Friday showed tourists at the site’s entry, where last year the boys’ bikes and backpacks were found — alerting local police they were likely inside.
The Wild Boars went into Tham Luang in June 2018 for a routine hike after a football practice, but became trapped after heavy rains blocked the only route out.
Hundreds of people descended on the remote site to help save the boys, who were found — emaciated but alive — on a muddy perch deep inside the cave after nine excruciating days of searching.
The boys were sedated and fitted out in full-face breathing masks before being pulled to safety through a hazardous underwater labyrinth.
Several books deals about the drama have been inked, and the first film about the rescue premiered this month at the Busan International Film Festival in South Korea.
Source -

Saturday, 10 August 2019

#Laos Saw More Chinese, Less Korean Tourists in Past Six Months

The number of tourists visiting Laos has increased 5 percent in the past six months thanks to a rise in the number of Chinese visitors.

More than 2.2 million people visited Laos between January and June, according to Laos’s Tourism Development Department, Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism.

The number of Chinese visitors jumped by 13 percent while that of Vietnamese visitors increased by 11 percent. The number of visitors from Thailand also rose by 1 percent.

Vientiane Times quoted an unnamed government official as saying that he believed visitor numbers were up because of the ongoing Visit Laos-China Year campaign.

However, the number of South Korean visitors plummeted by 20 percent while that of Japanese visitors sank by 13 percent.

The official told Vientiane Times that the decline in arrivals from some countries was due to circumstances beyond the authorities’ control.

“Some people stayed away because they were unsure of the quality of services here. And although Laos has many enticing tourism products there are several inconveniences, such as poor road access to tourist sites,” the official added.

Laos attracted more than 4.1 million foreign tourists last year, an 8.2 percent increase from the previous year. Tourism generated revenue of more than USD 755 million in 2018.

Meanwhile, it is expected that at least 4.5 million people will visit Laos this year, generating revenue of more than USD 700 million.
More Chinese tourist expected

Officials believe that, out of 4.5 million expected tourists, 1 million would come from China.

To achieve such a goal, Laos is currently intensifying its efforts to improve services and create more facilities for visitors.

Vang Vieng, one of the most famous tourist destinations in Laos, for instance, has improved the quality of services and made changes to the price of food, accommodation, and the fees charged at tourist attractions.

In Luang Prabang, meanwhile, restaurants have added Chinese dishes to their menus and installed signs written in Chinese at popular tourist sites.

As for Luang Namtha Province, the authorities are encouraging officials to supply useful information to Chinese visitors.

There have also been some other positive developments that might boost the number of Chinese visitors to Laos.

Banque pour le Commerce Exterieur Lao Public (BCEL) has recently teamed up with Chinese payment service provider UnionPay International (UPI) to roll out new QR code payment services in Laos.

The move will enable UnionPay app users to make payments by scanning QR codes at local stores in the country.

UnionPay currently operates one of the most popular mobile payment apps in China, and this means BCEL’s collaboration with UPI would help Laos’s local businesses to reach out to more Chinese visitors, who make up one of the largest sources of tourists.

Separately, Thailand is currently preparing to launch the country’s first bullet train that will run between Bangkok and Beijing, China, with Laos as one of the intermediate stations.

In particular, the first route, a Thai-Sino project linking Bangkok, Nong Khai, Laos and a Chinese city Mohan in the far Northeast, is currently under construction and is scheduled to be completed by 2023.

Where are the Koreans?

Laos has been one of the most popular destinations for South Korean tourists thanks to the reality TV show, “Youth Over Flowers,” which aired in 2014.

The number of visitors from South Korea to Laos grew in 2015 and 2016, finally beginning to plateau in 2017. The overall market share of South Korea rose to 4.4 percent in 2017, however, according to a report by Laos’s Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism. The number jumped from 96,085 in 2014 to 170,571 in 2017.

However, local tourism experts have repeatedly suggested that such a number is decreasing, but there had been no official number released by the Lao government until now.

Confirmation from the tourism ministry that the number of South Korean visitors plummeted by 20 percent in the first six months is therefore highly significant.

One Vientiane-based tourism expert cited a lack of promotional efforts as one of the reasons to contribute to the drop in such number.

“The TV show that led to the surge came out five years ago. Out of sight, out of mind. No one made any more major Korean TV shows or films, to my knowledge,” the expert told The Laotian Times.

As he pointed out, several South Korean broadcasters released similar shows to repeat the success of “Youth Over Flowers,” but none of them was able to attract similar viewer numbers.

The expert also noted that not enough has been done to promote and encourage people to return to Laos.

According to the latest survey conducted by the tourism ministry, only 7.9 percent of respondents said it was their returning visit to Laos. In contrast, first-time visitors accounted for 75.2 percent.
Time for a Diversification?

The Lao government invited 12 representatives from Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, China, Japan and South Korea to Bolikhamxay and Khammouane provinces, in a bid to promote other parts of the country.

The familiarization trip to the two provinces took place between July 12 and 17 and was designed to publicize some of Laos’ tourist attractions and encourage the tour operators to include some of these locations in their package tours.

It marked the Lao government’s latest effort to promote lesser-known tourist sites to foreigners, and this work is expected to continue in the coming years.

Source - The Laotian Times

Monday, 21 January 2019

#Indonesia - Komodo National Park to be closed one year for habitat restoration

The East Nusa Tenggara (NTT) administration has announced its plans to temporarily close Komodo National Park to visitors for one year to increase the local population of Komodo dragons and deer.

“The NTT administration will make [the necessary] arrangements for Komodo National Park,” said NTT Governor Viktor Bungtilu Laiskodat on Friday, as quoted by He did not announce the dates of the temporary closure.

Viktor said that the park's closure was intended to give the provinicial administration easier access in managing the park and developing the dragons' habitat.
 He said that individual lizards in the current population were not as big as they used to be, attributing this to a decline in the local deer population due to poaching.  
 Deer are the main prey of the carnivorous Komodo dragons, which can grow as large as 150 kilograms and eat about "80 percent of its body weight in a single feeding", according to National Geographic. This means that a 100-kilogram lizard can eat 80 kg of meat in a single sitting.

Viktor said there was a possibility that the lizards could prey on their own kind if the deer population continued to decline.

“Its natural instinct will emerge when [the population of one of the animals] in the Komodo dragon’s food chain declines. If food is abundant, the Komodo dragons will [employ] a different instinct," he said. "This is why the administration wants to manage the Komodo dragon's habitat by temporarily closing the area to visitors for one year.”
Source - TheJakartaPost

Thursday, 18 October 2018

#Thailand - Similan boss ignores tour operator appeals

The Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plants Conservation is refusing to bow to pressure from tour operators in Phang-nga for it to ease restrictions on visitors to the Similan Islands.

Songtham Suksawang, director of the National Parks Division of the department, said the decision to limit the number of daily visitors to 3,325, plus another 525 visitors for scuba diving, was intended to preserve the environment.


 Overnight Similan stays are also banned under the current guidelines.

 He said the department does not want a repeat of the situation of previous years when the number of daily visitors spiralled to 6,000 to 7,000 on some days, well beyond the capability of the islands to cope.

“The department doesn’t want to see the Similans end up like Maya Bay in nearby Krabi province, which was recently closed indefinitely due to extensive damage caused to coral reefs and the beach from unlimited visitors,” Songtham said. 

The parks division chief said he was not worried by the protest of tour operators, who claimed that their business would be affected by the restriction because they had already accepted advance bookings from tourists to visit the Similans and that they were given little notice about the restrictions.

Songtham said: “Park officials had been discussing with the representatives of the operators throughout the past year about the overcrowding problems and about measures to limit the numbers to preserve the environment for the long-term benefit of all parties.”

Only a few tourists visited the Similans yesterday – the second day of the two-day boycott imposed by tour operators to protest against the restrictions.

Tour operators have been taking tourists to Koh Surin over the past two days.

Source - TheNation

Friday, 16 March 2018

#Indonesia - Lombok records increase in tourist visits ahead of Nyepi

The number of domestic and foreign tourists in Lombok, West Nusa Tenggara (NTB), has significantly increased ahead of Nyepi, the Day of Silence in Bali, which falls on Saturday.

“Since yesterday [Wednesday], we’ve seen an increase in the flow of foreign tourists to Lombok. 
They want to spend the holiday in a relaxed atmosphere, as Bali and Lombok have really different atmospheres during Nyepi,” said the chairman of the Indonesian Hotel and Restaurant Association's (PHRI) NTB chapter, Lalu Abdul Hadi Faisal, in Mataram on Thursday.

He said the trend could be seen in the spike in occupancy rates of hotels in Lombok.
Currently, the average occupancy rate stands at 60 to 65 percent in Mataram and its surrounding areas and it can reach up to 75 percent in tourist resort areas such as Gili Trawangan in North Lombok and Senggigi, West Lombok.

Apart from Nyepi in Bali, Hadi said, the increase in visitors to Lombok also had to do with a string of conferences and research activities that would be conducted in the area over the weekend.

“Around 300 students of Muhammadiyah University from Sidoarjo, East Java, for example, will come to Lombok. Because of Nyepi in Bali, they have decided to stay in hotels in Lombok for their meeting,” he said.

Lombok International Airport (LIA) general manager I Gusti Ngurah Ardita said that on Nyepi, eight flights from Ngurah Rai International Airport to LIA and vice versa would be halted until Sunday.
Source - TheJakartaPost

Sunday, 31 December 2017

#Indonesia - Bali welcomes more American tourists

A path leading to the top of a lush, green hill in Ubud, Bali.
 The number of American tourists arriving in Bali is said to have increased by 18.39 percent year-on-year (yoy) to 164,338 visitors between January and October 2017.
“Most of these US citizens entered through Ngurah Rai International Airport using direct flights; only 3,130 people came via cruise ship,” said Bali Central Statistics Agency (BPS) statistics distribution department head I Gede Nyoman Subadri in Denpasar on Sunday as quoted by Antara news agency.
Based on the number, the US ranked sixth among the top 10 countries that contributed the largest number of tourists to Bali, behind China, Australia, Japan, India and United Kingdom.
Subadri said the US contributed up to 3.27 percent of the total foreign tourists to Bali, which reached 5.02 million during the January-October period. The figure represented a 23.30 percent increase from last year, which means the Island of the Gods welcomed an additional 948,917 foreign visitors this year.
“More Americans traveled to Bali after former US president Barack Obama and his family vacationed here for five days back in June,” Subadri said.
During their vacation, the Obamas visited several tourist attractions on the island, such as the Ubud arts village, Jati Luwih in Tabanan regency and Tirta Empul in Tampaksiring village, Gianyar regency.

Sunday, 31 July 2016

Top 7 Tourist Scams to Watch Out for in Thailand

Thailand can be a land of excitement and wonder for a new visitor, but it also comes with its own share of risk and danger. There are those among the jovial crowd who are looking to make a quick buck from an unwary tourist, by hook or by crook. Keep a wary eye out and don’t let these scams spell the end of your hard-earned holiday!
 1/ The Jet-skies
The beautiful coastal beaches in the country are a local attraction for water sports, but should you ever decide to rent a jet ski, do keep in mind all scratches and dents that are already present on the vehicle before setting off. There are vendors who will falsely claim that you have damaged their jet ski after returning and demand compensation for repairs.
Many people have fallen for such a scam, especially in tourist hotspots such as Pattaya and Phuket. These tourists are often intimidated by “police officers”, usually accomplices pretending to be so, who would threaten to arrest them should they not cooperate.
It would be wise to avoid all jet ski activities to prevent yourself falling as another victim. However, if you really feel the need to experience the thrill in the water, never hand over your passport as collateral when renting one.
It is also important to note that this scam is not exclusive to jet skis. Other tourists have reported the same situation upon renting motorcycles and cars, so be extra cautious when you decide to rent a vehicle in Thailand!
 2/ The Thai Money
Get acquainted with the local currency! Keep track on the different types of baht notes you possess and their appearance once you leave the money changer. Many tourists often find themselves shortchanged and taken advantage of by cashiers as they are not familiar with Thai money.
Places like 7-Eleven and Family Mart in tourist areas usually declare out loud the amount of baht you pay during your purchase, so take the effort to double-check and ensure that the change you receive is the correct one.
A variant of this scam revolves around the shopkeeper accusing you for paying with a counterfeit note. He or she would go to the back of the store, away from your sight, swap the note you handed over with a realistic counterfeit one and return. Giving the fake note to you, he or she would demand for new payment, leaving you to pay for twice or thrice the original amount.
To avoid this, always keep an eye on your baht notes and roughly remember the serial numbers of the larger ones. The latter may prove to be a mild inconvenience for some, but it can end up saving you and your tight budget.
3/ This Palace is Closed
This scam is often encountered near any tourist attraction, but the majority of cases reported by victims usually happen outside the Grand Palace in Bangkok.
A stranger will usually approach you and inform that the attraction is “closed” for various reasons. He or she will then recommend alternative locations, usually a gem store or a tailor shop, and dangle cheap discounts to entice you.
Should you unwittingly accept the offer, they will arrange transport via taxi or tuk tuk, who are similarly in league, to the shops. Once there, they will attempt to bully you into buying overpriced goods, with extreme cases locking you in the shop until you decide to purchase something!
These strangers often look and talk convincingly, wearing formal shirts with “tourist police” tags. They can even be found inside the attractions as well, so be on your guard.
The solution to this would be researching on the place before heading over. Remember to check out the operating hours and visiting times to avoid being misled.

4/ Sex Shows
The red light districts in Thailand are often well-known for its ping pong shows. The claim of cheap drinks and entry by the friendly promoters outside the bar would do very little to sate your innate curiosity.
But as they say, curiosity kills the cat. Once you step in, you’ll be led to a table where the girls will put up an underwhelming show. You will, then, be pressured to generously tip the performer despite being satisfied or not.
If you request to leave midway, the bill that comes along will demand that you pay thousands for the few drinks you just had. Refusing it will usually incur the wrath of the bouncers hanging around the bar, so it’s best to just concede and pay up to avoid further harm.
So steer clear of these shows, if you would rather not be left both disappointed and broke at the end of the day. This warning goes double if you are traveling alone, as lone tourists are easily ganged up on and are favored targets by the scam.
5/ Thai Gemstones
When someone tells you that you can make a huge profit by reselling gems from Thailand, it sounds too good to be true.
In fact, it’s not true at all. You could be targeted for a gem scam, one of the more popular ones in the country. It usually begins with the scammer claiming that gems are easily harvested in the country, and can be purchased in bulk for cheap prices. He or she then continues to tell you that you can make lots of money by selling the bought gems back home.
This scam can be made further enticing when they throw in discounted prices, convincing you that you were the only few that they have decided to share this precious insider trade secret with. Accomplices acting as tourists around the store may also attempt to justify his or her story.
Do not make the mistake that many people have already fallen for due to greed. If you can indeed make huge sums from selling Thailand gems in other countries, why would he or she tell such a powerful trade secret to a random tourist who chances into the store? Politely refuse, and walk away.
6/ Airport Taxis
When you exit from the airport, you will undoubtedly be harassed by official looking taxi drivers who would offer a flat fee of 500 – 1000 baht to head to town.
Not only do the real taxis with meters charge less than half of what they offer, these drivers would often attempt to persuade you to sign up for overpriced tour packages and bundles. The more extreme ones would purposely drive you to a wrong place with a similar name to your destination, and demand more cash for the proper journey.
Even if they use the meter, keep track of whether it is running throughout the journey. There are horror stories of where the taxi meter jams halfway during the trip, prompting dishonest drivers to charge exorbitant prices for a ride that would have cost far less in the meter rate.
It is important to note that taxi drivers are required by law to use the meter, so do not be intimidated if a driver requests a flat fee for his or her service. Firmly refuse and exit the car, there are thousands of other taxis in Thailand that would happily take you to the places you need to go.
7 / Fake Tour Packages from “Tourism Authority of Thailand”
When a local stranger offers to sign you up for a tour package, courtesy by the Tourism Authority of Thailand’s travel agency, turn him or her down and walk away.
The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) does NOT operate travel agencies and sell anything to tourists. They are a government agency and are responsible for promoting their local wonders and attractions to foreign countries. They are also responsible in licensing travel agencies and guides, but do not actually possess their own agencies.
However, many scam companies have taken on the guise of TAT’s name and used its stellar reputation for their own ill deeds. A popular example would be individuals who would intercept tourists at Hualumphong, Bangkok’s main rail terminal, and falsely present themselves as an employee of TAT. They would then mislead the unfortunate victim by telling him or her that the tickets for the train route they wanted are sold out.
The scammer would go on to offer alternatives “provided” by TAT, such as a private bus or taxi that overcharges for the trip, and are usually the setup for further scams.
Thus, always avoid anyone who claims to be from TAT, they hold no authority over you. No employee of TAT would be found walking around train stations or taxi stands to help out lost travelers.
Thailand’s Tourist Police Division
Thailand’s Tourist Police Division recently introduced their 24/7 hotline for foreigners in distress. Should you find yourself in a middle of a scam, dial 1155 for police assistance. Do not worry about the language barrier as there will be interpreters on hand to translate your call.
But of course, not every person and place in Thailand is looking for an opportunity to steal your hard-earned cash. There are a lot more friendly locals who genuinely love and welcome tourists to their country, so do not go around treating everyone with hostility and suspicion. Just exercise a little caution and common sense in your adventures in the Land of Smiles, and you should be perfectly fine!

Friday, 11 September 2015

#Thailand, Tourism Council ups 2015 arrival target to 30 million THB

THE TOURISM Council of Thailand now expects 30 million international tourist arrivals this year, up from its original projection of 28.8 million. Last month's deadly bomb blast in Bangkok is no longer expected to affect the tourism sector in the coming high season.

 TCT president Ittirit Kinglake said 8.1 million international tourists were expected to visit the country in the final quarter, up by 9.2 per cent from same time last year. It is projected that 2.2 million will come from Southeast Asia, 3.2 million from East Asia, 1.3 from Europe, and the rest from other parts of the world.

Thailand welcomed 7.8 million visitors in the first quarter and 7.0 million in the second, up by 23 and 37 per cent respectively compared with the same periods last year. A total of 7.4 million are expected in the current quarter, up by 26 per cent from the third quarter of 2014. He said total arrivals should reach 30 million this year, an increase from the earlier projection of 28.8 million, for a 22.8-per-cent improvement over 2014. Total income from the international and domestic markets will also be higher than the original prediction of Bt2.2 trillion, at Bt2.3 trillion, of which Bt1.5 trillion will be from the international market.

"The bomb blast at Erawan Shrine in Bangkok last month hit the sector, but only for a short time. This fear will not affect the industry during the coming high season," Ittirit said.

China will remain the biggest source of arrivals, with 8 million this year. Visits from Southeast Asia are expected to rebound this month. However, the Russian market is expected to continue falling through early next year.

 The Tourism and Sports Ministry has reported to the Cabinet that the bombing through this month resulted in a loss of Bt64 billion in tourism revenues from the cancellation of flights as 35 countries issued Level 1-3 travel advisories against Thailand. Hong Kong, Taiwan and Slovakia issued Level 4 advisories warning their people not to travel here if it wasn't necessary.

Since the incident, Thailand has lost 1.3 million tourists. However, the tourism situation is bouncing back as safety matters are now seen as under control and the sector should enjoy significant growth in the final quarter of the year, Ittirit said.

"Hong Kong will withdraw its travel warning within three or four days," he added.

In order to encourage tourists back to the Kingdom, the TCT, the Tourism Authority of Thailand and the private sector plan to invite celebrities from Hong Kong and mainland China to perform concerts in Bangkok and visit the Erawan Shine within the next few months to rebuild confidence in those two markets.

Ittirit said many other development plans had been drafted and would soon be proposed to the government. Suggested measures include restoring damaged attractions, developing new products and services, providing financial aid to affected operators and facilitating business expansion, and enhancing human resources.

Resouce: The Nation