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Knowledge Update

China see surge in tourist numbers

Beijing, Jan 28 (IANS) China witnessed a surge in tourist numbers on Friday, the first day of the week-long Lunar New Year holiday, official data showed on Saturday.

The number of tourists jumped 10.4 per cent year on year to 50.5 million, Xinhua news agency said. 

Tourist-generated income climbed to 59 billion yuan (around 8.67 billion US dollars), up 13.3 per cent from one year earlier, according to data from the China National Tourism Administration.

In Beijing alone, 294,000 tourists visited the city's 160 key scenic spots on Friday.

China's northwestern Gansu Province received 860,500 travellers, up 22.1 per cent year on year. The province reaped tourist revenues of 520 million yuan, up 25.9 per cent year on year.

In terms of outbound tourism, Phuket and Bangkok in Thailand, Nha Trang in Vietnam, Bali in Indonesia and Singapore were among the most popular destinations.

It is estimated that over six million Chinese people will travel abroad during the holiday. 

Indonesia eyes India to further boost tourism sector

Jakarta, Jan 24 (IANS) Indonesia is eying potentialities that can be tapped from India and south Asian markets to further boost its tourism sector by taking part in Indian and regional landmark travel expos scheduled to take place in February.

The expos comprise of India's Outbound Travel Mart (OTM) -- slated for February 21 to 23 in the Bombay Exhibition Centre (Mumbai) -- and regional tourism event of 2017 South Asia Tourism and Travel Expo (SATTE) -- to be held from February 15 to 17 in Pragati Maidan, New Delhi.

The regional tourism expo of SATTE is a popular business event attended by buyers and sellers and attracts 350,000 people from 40 countries. Some 750 exhibitors were expected to sell their tour packages to buyers attending the event, Xinhua news agency reported on Tuesday.

"Expand the selling, strengthen business to business and use multi sales platform by embracing the largest online trading agent in that country, connect it with our ITX," Indonesia's Tourism Minister Arief Yahya said in a statement.

The number of Indian visitors to Indonesia grew by 23 per cent in 2015 from 2014 to 293,415. The figure increased significantly to 336,575 in the first nine months of 2016 -- or 29.35 per cent higher compared to the same period a year earlier, according to data released by the ministry.

The figure makes India among the top 10 countries to contribute the most visitors to Indonesia.

"We would consistently engage our best efforts to tap more potentialities from the Indian market," said Vincensius Jemadu, Deputy Minister Assistant for Asia Pacific Market Development.

Emirates Airline to launch new route to US

Dubai, Jan 23 (IANS) UAE's Emirates Airline will launch a new daily service from Dubai to the US, via Greece, from March 12, an official said here on Monday.

The new route to Newark Liberty International Airport complements Emirates' existing four daily flights between Dubai and New York's John F. Kennedy airport, by offering passengers with another access to the New York Metropolitan area, Xinhua news agency reported citing an airline statement.

The airline will operate a wide-body Boeing 777-300ER on the route.

"After careful review, Emirates concluded that extending one of our Dubai-Athens flights to Newark would be commercially and operationally feasible," said Tim Clark, Emirates Airline president.

Facial recognition, fingerprints to replace passports at Australian airports

​Canberra, Jan 22 (IANS) Australia on Sunday announced an overhaul of security at all its international airports, with technology set to replace passports as means of identifying passengers by 2020.

The Department of Immigration and Border Protection is seeking tenders for a self-processing system to be introduced later this year, Australia's ABC News reported.

The system will use fingerprints, iris or facial structure recognition at major air and sea ports.

Immigration Minister Peter Dutton said the aim was for more than 90 per cent of passengers to avoid paperwork or manual processing by staff.

"In many cases that will mean people, whilst they'll still have to carry their passport, may not have to present their passport at all in the long term," Dutton said on Sunday.

"But in the immediate term, this will make it easier, it will make it quicker, for people going in and out of our airports."

Under the new system, the existing SmartGates that scan passports electronically - introduced less than 10 years ago - would be retired.

Dutton said the $78 million upgrade would also boost security at the nation's borders by making it easier to detect threats, ABC News reported.

He said cutting down processing times for travellers was also likely to boost tourism.

Forty-million air and sea travellers were processed by the Australian Border Force in the 2015-16 year, the Guardian reported citing an official report.

China sees record outbound cruise passengers in 2016

Beijing, Jan 19 (IANS) The number of outbound cruise passengers in China topped 2 million for the first time in 2016, according to a report by China Cruise & Yacht Industry Association (CCYIA) on Thursday.

A total of 2.12 million Chinese holiday-makers departed from China's 10 major port cities, including Tianjin, Dalian, Yantai, Shanghai, Guanghzou and Haikou, to travel overseas last year, up 91 per cent year-on-year, Xinhua news agency reported.

In the meantime, the number of overseas cruise tourists visiting the 10 Chinese ports rose 8 per cent to 138,715 in 2016.

Shanghai, Tianjin and Guanghzou were the top three ports to welcome passengers last year, taking up 65 per cent, 16.3 per cent and 7.2 per cent of total inbound and outbound travellers respectively, according to the report.

China has become the world's eighth biggest cruise market, with domestic tourists planning more diverse travel experiences in recent years.

"Amid the burgeoning cruise industry, issues such as poor service should also be highlighted," said Zheng Weihang, Executive Vice Chairman and Secretary General of CCYIA.

"China will make more efforts in enhancing the manufacturing of cruise liners and improving the capacity and efficiency of its ports."


Railways to launch train for religious tourism

Agartala, Jan 18 (IANS) The railways will launch a train for religious tourists on February 17 that will originate in Guwahati and cover shrines in West Bengal and Odisha, it was announced on Wednesday.

The Aastha Circuit Tourist Train will be jointly operated by the Northeast Frontier Railway and the Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corp.

It will "take travellers to a mix of popular pilgrimage destinations across the eastern part of the country at affordable rates", a railway official said.

The train will cover Gangasagar in West Bengal, Sri Swami Narayan temple, Kalighat and Birla temple in Kolkata, Jagannath temple and Konark temple in Puri district and Lingaraj temple in Bhubaneswar.

The train will run from Guwahati and will return in six nights and seven days. A round trip will cost Rs 6,161.

Sharjah cultural event to showcase young talent

Sharjah, Jan 13 (IANS/WAM) The fifth edition of the highly-anticipated Sharjah Children Biennial (SCB) will begin on Sunday and will showcase 376 artworks created by 785 children from across the world.

Held under the banner "A World as Big as Your Imagination", the event will run til February 15th. The competition would be having three categories: Environment, Architecture Design and Fantasy and Reality.

The ceremony will also feature a number of artistic workshops and interactive activities for children under the supervision of expert artists from various genres of architectural, visual and fine arts.

The workshops will be held throughout SCB to enhance children's love of the arts, and provide them with the opportunity to challenge and develop their capabilities further.

China braces for lunar New Year travel rush

Beijing, Jan 13 (IANS) The Chinese New Year, the world's most crowded travel season and the country's most important holiday, began on Friday.

Nepal's tourism rebounds despite major quake, trade embargo

Kathmandu, Jan 12 (IANS) Nepal's tourism industry rebounded in 2016 after taking a big hit in the previous year by way of twin disasters -- a devastating earthquake and crippling trade embargo.

Foreign tourist arrivals to Nepal jumped 39.71 per cent to 753,002 in 2016 -- boosted by robust visitor growth from India, China, the US, UK and Sri Lanka, according to statistics released by the Department of Immigration.

According to The Kathmandu Post, however, 2016 arrivals were still 4.69 per cent down from 2014 when the country welcomed 790,118 foreign visitors.

The tourism boom is expected to continue in 2017 and remains a major economic growth driver even as the industry sees low overseas promotional activities.

A breakdown of arrivals by market shows Indian travellers at the top of the list. Arrivals from the southern neighbour reached 118,249 last year -- up 57.40 per cent. 

Chinese tourist arrivals jumped 55.26 per cent to 104,005. Travel trade entrepreneurs said Chinese arrivals did not increase as expected last year as the key entry point, Tatopani Customs in Sindhupalchowk, was closed after the April 2015 earthquake that killed nearly 9,000 people. 

However, Rasuwagadhi has emerged as an important surface route with 23,452 Chinese visitors entering the country through this point last year.

Meanwhile, visitors from the US, Sri Lanka and the UK jumped 25.67 per cent, 29.64 per cent and 55.71 per cent, respectively.

October, November and December were the most busy months for the industry, accounting for nearly one-third of total arrivals during the year.

"It's a dramatic growth. The industry is returning rapidly to its pre-earthquake growth level," said Kedar Neupane, Director General of the Department of Immigration. 

"The tourism boom is expected to continue in 2017 given a level of promotion by Nepal in the major source markets."

He said that if the government, Nepal Tourism Board and private sector conduct aggressive promotional activities, this year could be an extraordinary year. 

"We can expect 1 million tourists in 2017 considering the current environment," Neupane said.

According to Neupane, Nepal could see a boom in Chinese arrivals this year following Beijing's announcement of Nepal Tourism Promotion Year 2017 in a bid to encourage its citizens to visit the Himalayan nation.

"The industry carried out massive marketing activities after the earthquake, leading to the recovery," said tourism entrepreneur Basant Raj Mishra. 

"The arrival of foreign volunteers as well as conferences held by NGOs in Nepal last year contributed to the growth."

Suman Pandey, chairman of the Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) Nepal Chapter, said 2017 looked promising; but the crumbling Tribhuvan International Airport (TIA), Nepal's only international aerial gateway, could be a major setback.

"The hospitality industry in Nepal can accommodate more than 3 million tourists, but the airport is already choked with capacity constraints even though arrivals are way short of the one million mark," he said.

Global travel guide Lonely Planet has named Nepal the world's 'best value destination' for 2017. 

Likewise, Nepal's Langtang region has been featured in The New York Times' '52 places to go in 2017' list.

Nepal has also appeared in the January travel issue of China Daily. 

"Nepal remains a fabulous choice for budget-conscious travellers, whether it's the country's world famous trekking routes or the wildlife in the southern region. Travel costs per day are as low as $50 on average," it said.

LA top destination for Chinese tourists

Los Angeles, Jan 12 (IANS) Over one million Chinese visited Los Angeles in 2016, making the Tinseltown their No.1 tourist destination in the US.

Los Angeles has become the first ever American city to receive more than one million Chinese visitors in one year, Xinhua news agency reported citing US officials. 

The year 2016 was a big year for LA's tourism industry. 

Besides reaching the mark of one million Chinese visitors, both the city's domestic and international visits reached an all-time high, according to a report released by Los Angeles Tourism & Convention Board (LA Tourism). 

Last year, total domestic visits to LA reached 40.2 million -- a 3.8 percent increase over 2015. 

An additional 7.1 million international visitors also made the second largest city of the United States their ultimate destination -- a 3.5 percent rise over the previous year, statistics showed.

"Tourism is booming in Los Angeles, and it's helping to drive our whole city's economy forward," said LA Mayor Eric Garcetti.

LA also plans to attract more tourists in the future, especially Chinese tourists.

In 2016, China was the second largest international market for LA after Mexico. 

China accounted for 75 percent of the destination's overall growth of international tourism and the number of Chinese visitors grew nearly 22 percent -- the seventh consecutive year of at least 20 percent visitation growth from that country.

Buoyed by Chinese visits, LA tourism will open its fourth office in China's Chengdu -- also called "Land of Pandas". 

Offices of LA tourism already exist at Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou.