Saturday 30 July 2016

AUSTRALIA: Sharks Scare Chinese Tourists

FEAR of being mauled by a shark is scaring Chinese and American tourists away from Gold Coast beaches.

This is despite the Gold Coast not having had a fatal attack since 1962.

Following a series of surfer deaths and maulings at far north NSW beaches south of the Coast last year, a survey has shown the international repercussions are costing millions of dollars.

The study of more than 500 tourists interested in travelling to Australia from our biggest international markets — China, New Zealand, the US, UK and Japan — found a fear of sharks was keeping many away.

Although there have been no deaths this year, shark activity in northern NSW has spiked in the past week, with surfers knocked from their boards, swimmers scared from the water and multiple detections of great whites cruising off popular beaches.

The survey, by Hiresquare., found Chinese tourists — one of the Gold Coast’s biggest tourism cash cows — were the most scared, with 23 per cent seriously doubting having an Australian holiday.

Of the total 512 people surveyed, 42 per cent (215) were aware of the shark attacks, with 14 per cent saying they had been turned off travelling to Australia, or were seriously doubting a visit. Families with children were more likely (17 per cent) to stay home.

Last year, a series of attacks killed surfer Tadashi Nakahara and maimed boardriders Mathew Lee and Sam Morgan at Ballina, less than an hour-and- a-half drive south of the Coast.

North Coast Destination boss Belinda Novicky said she did not believe the shark attacks put a serious dent in northern NSW tourism. “There are so many offerings in the region,” she said, adding tourists were more interested in eating, rather than being eaten by, local seafood.

“Especially for the Asian market, fresh local produce is massive,” she said.

Ms Novicky said the attacks only hurt businesses directly involved in surfing.

The Ballina attacks devastated mayor David Wright but he said he was thanking his lucky stars for a housing boom after recent highway upgrades.

“We’ve got people coming out our ears,” Cr Wright said.

“More people are coming here but there’s still not a lot of people in the water,” he said.

“(The shark attacks) haven’t affected us too much but it will improve.”

Cr Wright said controversial shark barriers being trialled at beaches off Ballina and nearby Lennox Head might help the area’s reputation.

THAILAND: Chiang Mai Welcomes ChineseTourists

Chiang Mai province is now launching citywide campaign to attract Chinese tourists with the erecting of signboards, posters at public places and stickers at shopping centres telling them that Chiang Mai people welcomed them wholeheartedly.

The campaign was jointly held by both the private sector and local government sector amid concern that the number of Chinese tourists to Thailand’s northern cities dropped significantly following strong criticism in the social media of the inappropriate behaviour of the Chinese tourists.

In Chiang Rai province, report said the number of Chinese visitors driving to Thailand via Chiang Rai border checkpoint dropped to almost zero following the imposition of stricter regulation for Chinese visitors who drive their own vehicles to the Thai northern cities.

The drop in Chinese visitors also followed the wave of negative feedback from the Chinese media towards tourism in Chiang Mai.

But now local administrators and private sector have assured everyone that they were happy to welcome Chinese tourists.

With signboards written in Chinese putting up all over Chiang Mai municipality, local people and authorities said they are part of a campaign that has been launched to reassure Chinese tourists that people in Chiang Mai were wholeheartedly welcoming Chinese visitors.

Also, stickers showing a Thai elephant shaking hands with a Chinese panda have been made to support the effort and are being widely distributed to all shops catering to tourists.

Effort by Chiang Mai authorities and residents was launched to counter the outcry raised by Chinese media over a number of negative comments that were posted online over the unseemly conduct of some Chinese tourists.

Chiang Mai deputy governor Mr Mongkol Suksai said people from different parts of the world have varying attitudes and behavioral practices.

Sometimes what they regard as normal is either unacceptable or considered ill-mannered for Thai people.

“But that doesn’t mean that they are wrong,’ he said.

“It is just a significant difference between cultures which on many occasions we as Thais are not accustomed to. That is why it is vital that we make them understand how Thai people are. It is our job to show them what is acceptable and more importantly what is inappropriate in Thai culture,” the deputy governor explained.

The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) stated that last year approximately 700,000 Chinese tourists visited Chiang Mai.

They represent the highest number of foreign tourists there and for the first 3 months of this year almost 250,000 Chinese tourists have already arrived in Chiang Mai.

Compared to the same period last year, this represents a 40% increase.

NEPAL: Nepal Grows Chinese Tourism Market

Nepal held a tourism promotion event in China this week with the goal of growing its market of Chinese visitors.

Approximately 80 Nepalese hotels went to Beijing to promote the tourism business in China. In 2014, more than 120,000 Chinese traveled to Nepal, which accounts for about 15.7 percent of inbound tourism in the country, but tourism officials would like to see that number grow.

The number of Chinese tourists in Nepal has been steadily increasing in the past few years, but compared to other destinations, Nepal sees relatively few Chinese tourists, Amar Man Shakya, the 1st vice president of the Hotel Association of Nepal, said.

As a result, there is huge room for attracting more Chinese tourists, he added.

The country is also promoting its safety after the 2015 8.1 magnitude earthquake that took a toll on Nepal’s tourism industry.

In order to encourage tourism, Nepal also announced a gratis tourist visa, allowing Chinese tourists to avoid visa fees when traveling to the country.

VIETNAM: 1.46M Chinese Tourists To Visit Vietnam In 7 months

Over 1.468 million person-times of Chinese tourists are expected to visit Vietnam in the first seven months of 2016, up 54.5 percent year-on-year, said Vietnam's General Statistics Office (GSO) on Thursday.

During seven-month period, the country is likely to welcome over 5.552 million person-times of foreign tourists, up 24 percent year-on-year.

Among the figure, some 4.66 million person-times arrive in Vietnam by air, up 28.7 percent year-on-year. Other 806,400 person-times travel to Vietnam by road, up 8.2 percent year-on-year while some 86,300 person-times go to the country by sea, down 22.4 percent, said GSO on its website.

From January to July, tourists from Asian countries coming to Vietnam total at some 3.967 million person-times, up 29.5 percent year-on-year. Growth is seen in major markets including China (up 54.5 percent year-on-year), South Korea (up 37 percent), China's Taiwan (up 15.9 percent), Thailand (up 37.2 percent) among others.

Meanwhile, the number of visitors from Europe reaches 900,600 person-times, up 14.1 percent year-on-year while those from Americas and Australia are 450,800 person-times and 195,700 person-times, respectively.

CHINA: Chinese Tourists Shun Europe After Attacks

About half of Chinese tourists who intended to travel to Europe this summer have canceled or changed their trips due to recent terrorist attacks and other security risks there, according to China Business News.

A terrorist attack in Ansbach of Germany is the latest of a number of attacks that have rattled Europe in recent months. Chinese tourists to France and Germany, two of their most popular destinations, dropped by almost two-thirds, estimated the newspaper.

The exchange rate volatility caused by Brexit was expected to boost tourism in Europe this summer, but due to the terrorist attacks in major European countries and the recent attempted coup in Turkey, the industry will be significantly impacted, said a tour guide who specializes in Europe-bound travel.

Another tour agent who focuses on tourism in France told the newspaper that two tourist groups canceled their trip just one day after the attack in Nice on July 14.

The number of Chinese tourists to France has maintained double-digit growth in the past decade, reaching 2 million last year and making China the largest overseas tourist group in the country. But tourists who take regular flights to the country have dropped 5.8 percent since January this year, and the number of tourists heading for Paris has decreased by 11 percent.

Apart from west European countries which have long been popular with Chinese tourists, Turkey also rose to fame among Chinese tourists in recent years thanks to a loosened visa policy and some popular reality shows featuring the country. The Chinese tourists to Turkey numbered 150,000 in the first half of 2015, nearly the same amount for all of 2014.

But with the country suffering from five terrorist attacks since this year, tourism in the country has been severely undermined overseas tourists in May plummeted by 34.7 percent from last year, the most significant drop in 22 years.

Hotels in Europe are among the most affected, with revenues dropping, a rarity during peak season, the tour agent told the paper. The income of local tourist guides also bears the brunt, as most of them rely on commissions and tips from tourist groups.

SOUTH AFRICA: More Chinese Tourists Visit South Africa

With the relaxation of issuing visas through tour operators, the number of Chinese tourists visiting South Africa increased by 50 percent in May this year, compared to the same period in 2015, according to data obtained by Xinhua on Friday.

Meanwhile, the number of tourists from India surged 37 percent, the South African Department of Tourism said.

This came after the South African government relaxed visa rules since the beginning of this year, abandoning strict regulations requiring tourists to apply visas in person.

"Those markets (in China and India) will recover quite quickly, I think, and will continue to grow," Von Aulock of the Department of Tourism said.

But the tourism industry is still concerned about regulations requiring travelling children to present unabridged birth certificates.

The requirements for the unabridged birth certificates remain vague enough to deter some families, said Mmatsatsi Ramawela, CEO of the Tourism Business Council of SA.

Events such as the 21st International AIDS Conference in Durban earlier this month have helped increase the number of visitors, and concerns about terrorist attacks in Europe also diverted tourists to the southern hemisphere, Ramawela added.

Tourists are returning to SA's game parks, beaches and vineyards, as a weaker rand and easing of visa rules make holidays cheaper and more accessible, he said.

The number of visitors to SA from outside the continent increased 19 percent in the first five months of this year, the Department of Tourism said.

SA's tourism boom represents a rare note of optimism in the country whose unemployment rate is hovering around 27 percent.

CAMBODIA: Cambodian Tourism To Accept Chinese Currency

Cambodia's Tourism Ministry has unveiled a policy to encourage the sector to accept renminbi, or yuan, as part of a drive to attract tourists from China, a local newspaper reported this week.
"This decision was made last month when the 'China Ready' white paper was released," Tith Chantha, a secretary of state at the ministry, was quoted as saying by the Khmer Daily.

"There will be no difficulty accepting Chinese yuan, it's the same as accepting the US dollar," he said. "Accepting renminbi could attract more Chinese tourists. It is also helpful for local enterprises, because they don't need to exchange currency any more."

If renminbi can be circulated, it will promote the development of Cambodia's tourism sector, he added.

The Ministry of Tourism earlier released a white paper titled "China Ready for Cambodia Tourism" outlining a five-year strategy for attracting Chinese tourists to the country with the aim of getting 2 million of them to visit per year by 2020.

China is the second-largest source of tourists to the country after Vietnam, according to a Cambodian tourism data.

In the first four months of this year, Cambodia recorded about 275,000 Chinese tourist arrivals, up by 13.6 per cent compared with the same period last year. In 2015, 694,712 tourists from China visited the country, and this was a 24-per-cent increase from 2014.

The United Nations World Tourism Organisation earlier predicted that China would become the largest outbound tourism market by 2020, with the number of tourists travelling abroad hitting 200 million

INDONESIA: Indonesia, Ctrip Attracting Chinese Tourists

Indonesian Tourism Ministry and Ctrip, a leading Chinese online travel service provider, jointly held a digital marketing workshop here on Friday, discussing ways to lure more Chinese tourists.

During the one-day workshop which was organized by PT.YSR Multi Media - Ctrip's exclusive partner in Indonesia, representatives from hotels, shopping malls, and other businesses in tourism industry will focus on how to increase the arrival number of Chinese tourists to Indonesia through digital marketing and how they could enjoy their stay through accommodating their preference and providing Mandarin service such as guides, city-maps, restaurant menus and so on.

"We are hoping that this cooperation will increase the number of Chinese tourists to Indonesia further, because cooperation with Ctrip is not only about awareness and branding but also increasing sales," said Sandy Sanyoto, CEO of PT.YSR Multi Media.

China's online travel market continues to boom, with growing numbers of Chinese booking outbound travel online. Ctrip is the leading player in Chinese online travel service industry.

"The program is also intended to leverage the Ctrip brand and platform to attract new travel suppliers, to expand the hotel supplier network and room inventory, and to enrich air-ticketing as well as other travel product offerings," Ratna Suranti, assistant deputy for international marketing strategy at Indonesian Tourism Ministry, said on the sidelines of the meeting.

According to Ratna, cooperation with Ctrip is one of the many ways the Tourism Ministry has taken to realize the target of attracting 2.1 million Chinese tourists this year.

"The workshop alone is expected to draw around 200,000 tourists," said Ratna.

In 2015, there are over 120 million Chinese outbound tourists who spent $104.5 billion. But Indonesia could only attract 1.5 percent market share of the Chinese outbound tourists market, the Indonesian Tourism Ministry said, adding that Indonesia still ranked No.7 and Bali ranked No.8 respectively on the list of top visited countries and cities for Chinese tourists.

The Indonesian government has made multiple efforts to tap into the huge potential of this market as the country expects 20 million foreign tourists by 2019, said Indonesian Tourism Minister Arief Yahya.

Thanks to the visa-free policy for Chinese tourists, and promotion efforts the Tourism Ministry has made in China, the arrival number of Chinese tourists in Indonesia has been increasing in recent years.

INDIA: Shani Shingnapur,Village Without Doors

Believe it or not, there’s a village in India where none of the 300-odd buildings – homes, educational institutions, and even banks – have doors. Cash is stored in unlocked containers, as are valuable pieces of gold jewellery.

Even most of the public toilets in Shani Shingnapur village square have no doors. “For reasons of privacy and following requests by women, we recently agreed to put a thin curtain near the entrance, but not doors because that would go against our belief,” said village shopkeeper Parmeshwar Mane.

Some villagers do put up loose door panels against their door frames, but this is done only at night, to keep out wild animals and stray dogs. The only problem with the lack of doors is that there’s nothing to knock on to announce your arrival. But the villagers have a solution for this, too. “Just shout out and somebody will come to the door,’’ one of the villagers, Rani, explained.

GREECE: No Females Allowed

Mount Athos, formally known as Autonomous Monastic State of the Holy Mountain, is located on the Greek peninsula of Halkidiki. The monastic traditions of the mountain date back to 800 A.D. and the Byzantine era. Today, it is home to 20 Eastern Orthodox monasteries, and 2,000 monks from Greece and other eastern orthodox countries such as Bulgaria, Serbia and Russia. These monks live an ascetic life, isolated from the rest of the world.

Although technically part of the European Union, the Holy Mountain is largely self-governed. This prohibits the free movement of people and goods in its territory, unless formal permission has been granted. As a result, a number of traditions at Mount Athos might seem odd to people outside. The keeping of Byzantine time, for instance, means that their day begins at sunset.

But perhaps their most bizarre practice is the centuries-old ban on women entering the sacred peninsula.

For over 1,000 years, women have been forbidden from setting foot on the mountain. In fact, females of other species such as cows, dogs and goats aren’t permitted either. Only birds and insects are exempted from the rule – scanning the skies and grounds for female body parts would surely be too absurd, even by Mount Athos standards.

JAPAN: Sand Bathing, Japanese Spa Experience

Kyushu, the third largest island of Japan, is home to numerous hot springs, the most famous of which are in the cities of Beppu and Ibusuki.

These cities, with their balmy subtropical climate and bubbling volcanic waters, are major tourist destinations. One of their most popular attractions is hot-spring bathing, known as onsen, offered by various spas. But there exist a few spas in these cities that offer a lesser known, highly relaxing experience – sand bathing!

Sand bathing basically involves getting buried in a large pit of volcanic sand for up to 30 minutes. The experience is not only soothing and satisfying, but believed to be highly therapeutic as well.

It is apparently great for treating infertility, diabetes, anaemia and asthma, and is also said to aid in weight loss.

The bathing areas consist of a huge boxes of sand, heated up with natural hot spring water. When the sand is thoroughly soaked in the water and steaming hot, the water is drained.

Visitors are then let into the box and asked to lie down, as workers shovel copious amounts of sand on top of them. The bathers remain buried until the sand cools down, and are then directed to bathing facilities to wash the dirt off.

INDIA: Addicted to Dog Milk

Meet Mohit Kumar, a 10-year-old boy from Manaitand, India, who has been feasting on dog milk ever since he was four. His parents are desperate to get him to stop sucking the milk of stray bitches in their town, but so far they’ve been unable to find a way.

Mohit was weaned at two years, but at the age of four he developed a rather strange habit – sucking the milk of stray bitches. “Once Mohit was playing with stray dogs outside and happened to suck on the breasts of a bitch. Since then he does the same whenever he gets a chance to do so,” his mother Pinky says. “Bitches of the area have also taken a liking to him and feed him whenever Mohit wants them to.” His worried parents don’t even allow the boy to go outside without supervision, for fear that he will seek out stray bitches to get his milk fix, but he sometimes gives them the slip. “We do not even allow him to go to school fearing that this habit may only get worse,” Pinky adds.

Most of the female dogs in Manaitand know Mohit and let him suck on their breasts, but the boy did get in some trouble recently when a a bitch from another colony bit him. His parents had to take him to Patliputra Medical College Hospital (PMCH) for treatment, and he is now taking vaccine to avoid rabies, but they have no way of preventing this from happening in the future, as Mohit’s craving for dog milk seems insatiable.

The fact that Mohit was born mute makes matters even more complicated for his parents, who have trouble understanding what makes dog milk so appealing to him. Sometimes he runs off, and it’s only after neighbors come to complain about him sucking on the breasts of strays in the streets that they that his family learns what he was up to.

Speaking about the boy’s unusual addiction Dr D K Singh said that dog milk “is not hazardous to human life, but the risk of rabies infection is always there.” I’d say rabies is pretty hazardous to human life

SIBERIA: Giant Craters of Siberia

Something bizarre is happening to Siberia and it’s got experts all over the world worried. It seems that the vast Russian province is simply cleaving into unexplained giant craters that are so huge they can be viewed from outer space!

It all started in 2013, when helicopter pilots spotted a mysterious hole in the permafrost while flying over the Yamal region in northern Russia.

A few days later, reindeer herders spotted another hole, and a third crater was found not long after. In February this year four new ‘giant’ craters were found, surrounded by dozens of ‘baby’ funnels, some of which had turned into lakes. And a leading geological expert predicted that about 30 more craters are waiting to be discovered.

Village Of Sign Language

In the remote Balinese village of Bengkala every one of the 3,000-odd residents can fluently communicate in kata kolok, a centuries-old sign language, and people with speech and hearing deficiencies are always treated with respect.

That so many people would bother to learn sign language might seem strange, but there’s a good reason behind the unique tradition – the number of hearing and speech impaired in Bengkala is about 15 times higher than the world average and it’s believed to have been even higher in the past.

So it’s only natural that, in time, body language took precedence over words, and villagers developed their own unique sign language which has been passed on for centuries.

The high incidence of deafness is apparently caused by the geographically-centric recessive gene DFNB3, present in the village for over seven generations. Parents with normal hearing may have a deaf child, and deaf parents are known to have children who can hear perfectly well.

Either way, it seems to make no difference to the villagers, who have long learned to treat everyone the same, without any kind of discrimination.

Containing Chinese Tourists

From setting fire to curtains inside an aeroplane cabin and hurling scalding noodles over a flight attendant to urinating in public places, Chinese tourists have gained a bad reputation.

One in 10 travellers worldwide is from China. Outside Asia, their destination of choice is France, where their museum visits and shopping for luxury labels account for a sizeable chunk of tourism profits.

Despite complaints from locals, officials in Paris want to double the number of Chinese visitors to five million a year.

What will it take to turn the plane loads of first-time travellers from China into well-behaved sightseers.

PHILIPPINES: How Palawan's Plans To Attract A Million Tourists

The number of tourists visiting Puerto Princesa is expected to increase this year, says Demetrio Alvior jr., assistant tourism officer, city tourism of Puerto Princesa.

In an interview with on Tuesday, Alvior said the city is forecasting a 12-percent increase of tourist arrivals, based on previous year's numbers

"Ang average tourist arrival since 2010-2013 is 5.6 percent, pero nung 2014 to 2015 umabot ng 10 percent. This year we are expecting at least [a] 12-percent increase. We are hoping to reach 1,000,000tourist arrivals (this year)," Alvior said.

Palawan was named by Conde Nast Traveler as the world's best island for second straight year in 2015.

He said Puerto Princesa is not just a home to the famous Underground River, one of the longest underground rivers in the world, but the site of spectacular rivers, caves, falls and heritage sites.

To support the growing number of visitors, the tourism board and other agencies are planning to develop other sites in the area to cater to the visitors' needs.

"Right now we are planning to develop the dive tourism, eco tourism, agri tourism. May mga road maps na kami. Andaming dinedevelop. Meron kaming river cruise. We have two, Maoyon and Bacungan. Mas maganda ng di hamak kesa sa Loboc," he said.

Aside from efforts to promote more attractions, the increase in visitors can also be attributed to the new possibility of direct international flights. Direct flights from Puerto Princesa to Taiwan, for example, have recently been doubled, with carriers now flying twice a week.

"There are some investors na planning by March, magpapasok na sila ng 15 additional more flights direct from Puerto to Taiwan, so expected na talagang dadami yung foreign tourists," Alvior said.

At present, hotels in Puerto Princesa easily get fully booked. Alvior advises tourists to book their flights as early as possible.

PHILIPPINES: Quest Hotel & Conference Center - Cebu

Vibrant and uncompromisingly modern with elegant space, Quest Hotel & Conference Center - Cebu could be the most stress-free choice for business and leisure travelers on the go.

Located within the heart of Cebu's district, the hotel provides a perfect setting for work and play.

As the hotel is accessible from shopping centers, tourist attractions and trendy night spots, guests will find the location ideal.

Quest Hotel boasts a total of 427 rooms that are furnished with aptly comfortable beds, mini-bar, LCD television with cable service, in-room Internet, among others. Some of the rooms also feature a delightful landscape view of Cebu City.

The hotel has four types of accommodation: deluxe rooms, premier deluxe, junior suite and executive suite, all guaranteed to be very spacious with modern interiors. There is also a pool area with a bar perfect for relaxation.

Featuring 10 state-of-the-art meeting rooms, Quest Hotel could be a haven for guests who either stay for business, conference and meeting, or simply as tourists and travelers.

PHILIPPINES: Moevenpick Hotel Mactan Island Cebu, Perfect For Family Holidays

Whatever the time of year, there is always a reason to spend time with family and escape the city to visit the beach. Take your next family vacation at Mövenpick Hotel Mactan Island Cebu, one of the most scenic destinations in the Philippines.

This five-star beachfront hotel is one of the most popular accommodations among visiting tourists, media personalities and celebrities such as Divine Lee, Ruffa Gutierrez, Antoinette Taus, Patty Laurel, Nicole Hernandez, Kelly Misa and Cat Juan-Ledesma, to mention a few. Fresh, fun and trendy, the hotel offers a myriad of choices, from accommodation, leisure activities and entertainment to culinary delights.

"Our five-star destination in Cebu welcomes visitors to a picturesque view of the beach and lush greenery," said general manager Harold Rainfroy. "Here, one can experience barefoot elegance, whilst relaxing with a drink in hand and toes in the sand."

Guests delight in the Mediterranean vibe as they discover the allure of Mövenpick Hotel Mactan Island Cebu's 245 guest rooms and suites, and enjoy the comfort and convenience of a contemporary space that opens to a private balcony overlooking the pool or sea. Whether on business or leisure, guests and families can choose from deluxe, premium and suite accommodations, with benefits and privileges that are suited to their needs.
Save on stays

"We offer a great variety of special deals for all types of accommodation. When we put together our room specials for a particular period, we consider value add-ons that are suited to the needs of our guests," Rainfroy explained. "We package our offers with dining privileges and benefits and discounts to select facilities, which everyone can enjoy during their Cebu sojourn."
'No room for boredom'

Rainfroy said the hotel wants to make sure there is something for everyone in the family. "There's absolutely no room for boredom, with exciting adventures and activities happening under the sun, plus access to the Kids' Club, where the little ones can play. Parents can also enjoy some down time at Spa del Mar for that much-needed quiet and tranquil time."

"No one can resist hitting the waters, whether that of the pool or beach. And there's a whole lot of outdoor adventures waiting for you. We have arts and crafts activities for kids and group exercises in the beach garden," he said.

The gym, meanwhile, is open to all in-house guests. It features group exercises scheduled outdoors, and a selection of island tours and water sport activities is also available for those who are craving some thrills.

Indoor challenges are also available for kids and parents who are welcome at the game area, complete with a pool table, chess board, an Xbox and foosball set. Guests also get free chocolate treats at the lobby lounge during Chocolate Hour, from 3 p.m. to 4 p.m.

Sunset sessions at Ibiza Beach Club run from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m., the golden hours, when guests can still get a good tan as they sip cocktails, relax to cool beats and chill out in the net pods. Dubbed the most hip and happening destination in the area, this beachside social establishment is set to impress and delight, with an unforgettable experience that is uniquely its own.

Aside from its spectacular ocean views and the architectural design which follows today's urban luxe, the night scene at Ibiza Beach Club takes its charm and sophistication from a combination of visual and musical elements. Here, guests are not only attuned to the latest and most danceable beats, but also treated to a wide variety of cocktails and a Mediterranean feast of tapas and Balearic-style churrasco, plus a showcase of world-class talents.
Culinary delights

The hotel offers limitless choices for dining and has also created a special selection to cater to children's taste and liking. Offered on the a-la-carte menu at The Sails restaurant and also available for in-room dining, Power Bites offer nutritious, surprising, smart and fun options for children. The menu is designed to meet kids' nutritional needs while delighting them with creative and colourful presentations cooked with ingredients which are naturally healthy.

"They're all big on flavour and nourishment," Rainfroy said. "With our modified and extended menu, we have more to offer to every member of the family, including the little ones. We value our youngest clientele, and we're determined to provide them with meaningful and fun dining experiences."

Rainfroy said the hotel is aware that kids are picky and observant, with some getting bored easily.

"We want to spark their imagination and fuel not only their body, but also their mind with these quirky conversation pieces to make their plate look more interesting and enticing. Picture your kids biting into a caterpillar-shaped tuna sandwich with strips of bright and fresh vegetables," he said.

Come dinner time, The Sails restaurant treats guests to a series of gastronomic feasts of different origins with its nightly themed buffet.

"It's like sailing from coast to coast, with our selection of cuisines that span a variety of cultures, heritages and cooking philosophies from across the globe. We prepare a different buffet spread according to the theme that's set for each night," Rainfroy said.

HONG KONG: Park Lane Hong Kong Has Stunning Tourist Spot Views

The Park Lane Hong Kong located in Hong Kong's famous business, shopping and entertainment district showcases stunning views of the tourists spots in central Hong Kong including Victoria Park.

The Park Lane is conveniently located and within walking distance of the major tourists attractions and business locations where one can enjoy breathtaking views of the skylines, making it an ideal destination for business and leisure travelers.

Complete with sumptuous feasts, 834 stylist and comfortable guest rooms and suites, one will surely enjoy a luxurious stay at the Park Lane Hotel.

For those who want to visit Hong Kong and planning to relax and unwind over the weekend, The Park Lane Hotel is located at 310 Gloucester Road Causeway Bay,

PHILIPPINES: Manila Pavilion Hotel & Casino Seasons

Philippines has always been famous for its rich culture and heritage. And here in Manila Pavilion Hotel and Casino we're all about giving you that unparalleled, authentic Filipino experience.
Situated at the heart of a thriving business and commercial environment of Ermita, Manila, the hotel provides you an easy access to some of Manila's famous tourist attractions such as Intramuros, Museo Pambata, Manila Ocean Park and SM Mall of Asia.

Aside from easily navigating your way to various places of interest, you can also indulge in the hotel facilities that offers exciting leisure experiences. Temporarily forget about life's worries as you spend time trying your luck at the PAGCOR-Pavilion Casino or relax and rejuvenate at the hotel's outdoor pool, spa or fitness center.

No trip is ever complete without food. Located at the hotel lobby, Seasons offers a variety of cuisines from all over the world. It offers an open kitchen for Asian and Continental dishes, strips of cold hors d'oeuvres, appetizers, salads, sweets and cheeses.

Best of all, the accommodations at Manila Pavilion Hotel rates high in comfort. Not only do the newly renovated rooms boast a sweeping view of the city and Manila Bay, they also are furnished with the traveler's essentials.

All of the rooms and suites feature the following:

- Individually controlled air-conditioning
- Cable TV
- IDD phone
- Complete mini-bar
- Wi-Fi Internet access
- Bathroom with complete fixtures and amenities, including phone extension
- iPod Dock (for Ipad 1 and 2 and up to Iphone 4S only)

For business meetings and small gatherings, there is The Alcuaz Function Room, a multi-functional hall which can serve as your venue. Make your time productive and memorable with us here at Waterfront Pavilion Hotel and Casino Manila.

PHILIPPINES: Where To Spend Your Weekend

Tagaytay has become the metro's weekend destination with its hilly locations, cool breeze, roads flanked with new and traditional cafes and restaurants, and comfortable hotels. One lodging stop, in particular, banks on guests' longing for simple pleasures and comfort.

Hotel Kimberly sits on a two-hectare property in Barangay Kaybagal North, Tagaytay City featuring the main hotel building with an expansive lobby of palm furniture, pastel colors and floor-to-cieling windows.

Its guestrooms are similarly cozy, letting in the daylight through a veranda, giving guests an option to let in the cool, calm air.

There is reliable WiFi connection, a writing desk, a DVD player and a 32-inch LED television set with cable access for home buddies, making the rooms perfect for staycations.

Families can visit an animal farm, let children run around the playground, wade at the pool area and pick vegetables from Hotel Kimberly's garden.

Guests will not be forced to leave behind their fitness regimen, as the hotel is gifted with the outdoors as well as a badminton and volleyball area.

The restaurant at Kimberly follows the homey, restful theme of the hotel throughout. Cafe at K serves Filipino and international dishes open for room service or dining in.

VIETNAM: Flight Info Screens At Vietnam Airports Hacked

Screens displaying flight information and the public address system at Vietnam's two major airports were hacked with derogatory messages against Vietnam and the Philippines in their territorial row against China in the South China Sea.

After the hacking Friday evening, authorities switched off the screens and the sound systems at Hanoi's Noi Bai airport and the Tan Son Nhat airport in southern Ho Chi Minh City, the online VnExpress said.

The website of the national carrier, Vietnam Airlines, was also briefly hacked, it said.

The site quoted Vice Minister of Transport Nguyen Nhat as saying the incidents did not affect the security or air traffic control at the airports.

The messages and screenshots with derogatory remarks suggested they were purportedly left by Chinese hackers.

Earlier this month, an international tribunal issued a ruling in favor of the Philippines that invalidated China's sweeping claims in the South China Sea. Vietnam also has overlapping claims to parts of the sea, which is rich in natural resources, and together with the Philippines has been a vocal critic of China.

The hacking came after China this week condemned an incident in which a border agent at the Ho Chi Minh City airport allegedly defaced a Chinese passport after images showed the words "f--- you" scribbled twice over maps of the contested South China Sea.

Vietnam said it was investigating.

PHILIPPINES: More Chinese Tourists Visit Philippines

Tourism Secretary Wanda Corazon Teo

Tourism Secretary Wanda Corazon Teo will be traveling to Macau next week to meet Chinese businessmen and invite more Chinese tourists to visit the Philippines.

"I will be meeting with foreign investors and Chinese tourists. I would be asking them to come to the Philippines," Teo said in a chance interview.

She made this statement after an arbitral tribunal ruled that China's nine-dash claim on the disputed South China Sea has no basis.

Teo did not elaborate but said that she was invited by these businessmen to meet which signifies the Chinese market's interest in the Philippines as a tourism destination.

"They would like to come to the Philippines. This is a group of Chinese going to meet in Macau and they would like me to be there," Teo said.

The Department of Tourism earlier assured that tourism as an industry will be able to insulate itself and that the territorial row and sea ruling will have no negative impact on tourism inflow in the Philippines.

Tourism Undersecretary Benito Bengzon Jr., in a previous interview, said that partners in both the Philippines and China continue to work closely to ensure two-way traffic is not disrupted.

He also said the department maintains a consistent strategy of maintaining "an optimum mix of source markets" to withstand or help compensate for a possible decline in arrivals from one market.

Another tourism official assured that a large number of Chinese tourists to the Philippines will still be visiting the country as it is set to welcome a cruise ship — Legend of the Seas — carrying some 2,076 Chinese tourists on September 23 and 24.

Tourism Director for Public Affairs and Advocacy Czarina Zara Loyola said the cruise ship will call port to Manila and Boracay.

Data from the DOT showed that China is the third top tourism market with 285,348 visitors or a share of 11.33 percent of the 2.51-million foreign tourists that visited the Philippines from January to May 2016.

China also posted the highest tourism growth of 80.79 percent.

Friday 29 July 2016

RUSSIA: Crazy Toilet Cafe

Following in South Korea’s footsteps is Moscow’s newest eatery, ‘Crazy Toilet Cafe’.

The place offers its customers a highly realistic toilet-themed dining experience, complete with faecal-inspired dishes served in miniature lavatories and urinals!

The cafe, which opened late last month on the busy Arbat street, features about 50 real toilet bowls
that serve as seating.

The tables are mini bathtubs propped on legs and covered with glass, showing cartoon characters using the toilet.

Cafe management says they’re solely relying on the novelty of the place to attract one-time customers, as people are highly unlikely to pay the cafe a second visit.

TOGO: Togo Tourism

Togo gathers together a series of natural, cultural and human atractions which, if given importance constitute a 'tourist product' very well appreciated by the tourist from issuing big markets of Europe and America.

1. Cultural and Human Strong points
The people of Togo have kept, all across the centuries, an authentic and deep tolerance, a mutual respect towards the other races, cultures and regions, very solid family ties and also between work an leisure.

A very important part of adults among the population speak non only French, but also German and English, this facilitate agreeably communication with visitors. One of the most fascinating attractions to visitors in Togo is also the possibility of watching the spontaneous explosion of joy about life, friendship and hospitality.

Togo is rich with cultural expressions such as songs, dances, arts and crafts, musical, spectacles, religious ceremonies, dress, clothing fashions and others. These cultural expressions present a very marked diversity from one region to another.

This causes the visitors to benefit from a varied and interesting stay. Numerous celebrations and ceremonies reflect the living customs and traditions of the peoples, and give chance to colourful manifestations.

2. Natural strong points
A country of flat land rather than high mountains, Togo is however, crossed by a big and long chain of mountains and plateaus which alternate each other and whose tallest summit reaches an altitude of 986m. The massif of Lama, in the core of Atakora chain, draws the attention of tourists by its romantic breaks and the beauty of its landscapes.

In the North of the country, lies the savanna region where a plateau is erected with picturesque cliffs. The coastal region also presents attractions with its fine sand seashores and the lake of Togo, for practicing nautic sports and a pleasant weather almost all the year. Moreover, tourist places and sites are found in each of the five regions of the country.
These cultural, human and natural strengths which are original or inputrescible, some of which are subject to equipping so that they can be contemplated and allow access for visitors, are completed by series of derivative strengths which are tourist and hotel trades, communication, telecommunication and transport infrastructures.

Tourist regions and wealth
Despite its average size, Togo provides travellers with a diversity of physical and human features, a variety of wild life and flora. It is Africa in miniature. These help tourism in Togo to be in tune with the entertainment world and attract many visitors.

1. Maritime Region
Renowned all along the coast of the Gulf of Benin, Lome the capital is known for its fine-sand beaches and shadowy walks along the littoral.

The only capital city on an international border (Ghana), Lome is outstanding for its neatness and hospitality of its population. It offers the following:

- Adawlato big market; it is known for cloth business where the Nana Benz reign supreme in Africa.
- Hedranawoé market is known for its second-hand trade.
- The Akodessewa fetish market is the spot for pagan curiosities and the traditional medicine of the sub-region.
- The cathedral of Lome, dating back to the German era stands near the Central Market of Lome. Of gothic style, the beautifully painted frescoes inside portray a few saints of the Catholic Church. It is part of the colonial heritage of Togo.
- The National Museum of Lome; built at the back of the Conference Hall, it gives an idea of the Togolese identity. Behind the well-lit windows are exposed historic and ethnographic objects as well as excellent samples of the traditional art.
- The international museum of the Gulf of Guinea is located on the boulevard du Mono opposite the Atlantic Ocean. It has a collection of art and ethnographic objects from various African countries.

Other sites and monuments include The Independence Monument, Colombe de la Paix, the Centenary Monument of the friendship between Germany and Togo and the art craft village.

At about 30 km from Lome on the road to Benin, is Togo Lake, ideal for water sports, or tours in canoe and the village of Agbodrafo. It is a fantastic place for relaxation away from the noisy city.

The visitors will also have the opportunity to discover slave sites like la Maison des Esclaves (slave house),Maison Wood Gatovoudo "the well of those in chain" at Nikaya, Lolame black smith, Joachim D'Almeida's Memorial at Ahoeta.

You will also discover on the northern bank of Togo Lake the historical village of Togoville with the Marial Sanctuary, royal museum of Mlapa, the barter market square, Dekpo slave market (Blokotissimé) and traditional practices like the cult of Maman Tchamba and the Voodoo Hlan.

As to the historical city of Aneho, it presents the glamour of the colonial time. It was the capital of Togo from 1887 to 1897 and from 1914 to 1920. Surrounded here and there by the lagoon and the sea, it is an ideal site for walks and relaxation on its beaches.

Accommodation wise Hotel 2 fevrier, Hotel Ibis Lome-centre, Hotel Mercure Sarakawa at Lomé, Hotel Le Lake at Agbodrafo and Hotel Natchigal at Togoville provide a whole range of air-conditioned rooms and entertainment such as tennis, swimming pool and dancing.

Beside the restaurants of the major hotels, restaurants and food joints in the area serve various dishes from local, foreign, European, Eastern and Asian. These include Marox, Alt Munchen, Lotus, Malesan etc.

2. Plateaux Region
The Plateau region is accessible in two ways, either through the national N°1 linking Lome to Atakpamé or the national N°2 Lome-Kpalimé to Atakpame city.

The west side is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful tourist sites in Togo. The western Plateaus are in contrast with the maritime region because of their green landscape. Some miles away from the coast would take you away into the heart of nature and luxurious vegetation.

Main region for coffee and cocoa farming and a holiday resort with Kpalimé city serving as a weekend rest area. It has many tourist attractions; Agou Peak (986m of altitude) the highest summit in Togo, coffee and cocoa nurseries at Tové Koloto art center, Viale Castle, kloto camping, Dzogbegan monastery on Dayes Plateaux and the cascades the biggest of which is Aklowa with its waters allegedly endowed with therapeutic virtues. The western Plateau region is an exceptional natural framework that offers many ecotourism opportunities.

The eastern part of the Plateaux on its side affords interesting urban centers such as Atakpamé, a city built on hills with magnificent panoramic views of the surrounding valleys; Tado and Notse, the historic cradles of the Adja-Ewe people.

The hotels like: Le Berceau at Notse, 20th august and Cristal at Kpalimé, Roc hotel and the Sahalien at Atakpamé are open for your stay in the said region.

These hotels and others, highly recommended, like Bel Air and the Gournet at Kpalimé, the Pentagone and the Madone at Atakpamé provide exquisite services.

Several associations and NGOs are at work on the field to promote joint tourism, ecotourism and responsible tourism.

3. Central Region
The central region covers an area of 13000 km2 more than 20% of which are reserves and classified forests including that of the Fazao-Malfakassa National Park covering about 476.903 acres and managed by Franz-Weber Foundation.

The central region presents significant cultural assets. The regional capital Sokodé, the greatest Islamic city of the country is renowned for its weaving used in the making of tunics and big booboos. It has inherited a horse-riding tradition transmitted by influential chieftaincies including that of Kparatao who founded the city and its surrounding communities.

In the Far East is the Tchamba city, specialised in pyrography on calabashes and flasks. These art objects are found in the market animated by the local population including the many Peuhl women with their beautiful weaving and tattoos.

The following accommodation facilities will possibly welcome you during your stay are Hotel Aléhéridé and Hotel Central, Hotel Essofa, Hotel Ave Kedia and restaurants such as Chez Marco

4. Kara region
The Kara region is probably on of the richest in Togo through its diversity both natural and cultural. The tourist sites are many. They are accessible through Aledjo Mountain Gap, a spectacular human masterpiece. Female potters and blacksmiths, in Kabyeland perpetuate very laudable ancestral art and techniques.

The region is equally known for its terraced cultivation techniques on hilly slopes. The Kara region is also a spot for tradition where traditional fights: Evala are organised every year in July. Mainly agricultural, it produces yams, millet, ground-nuts and others.

Highly animated and colourful markets likethat of Ketao are all over. They provide many meeting opportunities with the local population.

The populations of the region have been able to keep their traditions as in Bassar district with the high funaces of Banjeli and Nangbani; a proof of an ancestral know-how in iron work.

The visitors will be able to go on excursion to Sarakawa Park close to that of Djamde.

5. Savanna region
Exceptionally flat, with curiously scattered green mountains, rich in "danams" of rocs this region is tehe region by excellence of wine palm trees. The visitors will discover the Sacred Pit of Doung, the cave paintings of Nanoundjoga, the Nok grotto (Nano), a historic and cultural vestige.

The Sacred Pit of "Tanlona" on Karyata Bank at the Togo-Ghana border, and the Mandouri Hunting Reserve can also be visited. The Oti Which crosses the region waters a vast plane.

Accommodation facilities include Dapaong Hotel, Caroli Hotel, Dapaong Camping and Leota Yendoubé hotel for the tourist's stay.

Traveler's Guide
Are you from abroad down to Togo? Are you resident in Togo and leaving for abroad? This guide is for you, it gives a brief description of the requirements you have to meet. Traveler's Customs control

1. Generality
In crossing the border, both at the entrance and exit of the country (article 80 CD) and in moving across the country around the check points (article 50 CD) you can be controlled by the customs officers recognizable by their uniform; some customs officers in charge of controlling the travellers do not wear uniform. In any case, customs officers must show at first requisitioning their professional card called Commission d'emploi (employment commission)

2. Objectives
The customs control of travellers aims at ensuring:

- The protection of the national economy
- The preservation of the national economy
- The preservation of the national heritage
- The regularity of the transactions
- The safety and health of the traveller
- The protection of the fauna and the flora

Customs check is therefore necessary, yet it must take place in a mood of mutual respect and understanding.

Therefore, any related misunderstanding has but to be solved amicably.

In this situation, the traveller has an important role to play by facilitating the opening of the luggage and the car boot.

3. Authorities of customs officers
Customs officers in charge of the control of the travellers can check the luggage in cars.

They can also check the identity of the traveller by asking their id papers (Passport or id card)

4. Nature of Control
The customs control is not systematic; it is done unexpectedly and by survey. At any control, the customs officer asks the usual question: "do you have anything to declare?"

You answer constitute a verbal declaration , a real customs declaration that involves your responsibility.

BENIN: Ganvie Lake Village

In colonial Brazil, runaway slaves and free natives formed communities deep within the Amazon as a means of escaping the brutality of Portuguese slavery.

A combination of dense vegetation, waterways, and perilous wildlife and disease separated these societies from the slave traders who pursued them.

A small group of people outside of what is now Cotonou, Benin, took advantage of a different set of circumstances to evade capture by the Portuguese.

At the time, the powerful West-African Fon tribe was hunting and selling other native tribesman to the Portuguese. While there were few physical impediments protecting the ancestors of today's Ganvie village from outside attack, Fon religious practice forbade their raiders from advancing on any peoples dwelling on water, laying the groundwork for the Ganvie Lake Village.

Ganvie is a village of roughly 20,000 people that stands on stilts in the middle of Lake Nokoue. The founders of the village fled there to avoid Fon warriors, and in the roughly 500 years that have passed since, Ganvie has developed an intricate and prosperous culture within the constraints of life on the lake.

A school is the only one of Ganvie's 3,000 buildings that exists on land, although a cemetery mound is currently under construction.

The villagers of Ganvie travel almost exclusively by boat, and the few domesticated land-animals they maintain live on plots of grass that spring up from the water. Without a good supply of domesticated animals, Ganvie relies on a complicated network of underwater fencing to corral and farm various fish populations.

The village sits several miles from the nearest shoreline and is about a 4 hour journey from the capital. Ganvie is Africa's largest lake village.

GHANA: Arts And Crafts Tour

Ghana is especially well known for its arts and crafts, which reflect our traditions and cultures. Discover villages that specialize in kente cloth, woven by the Ewe and Asante people for centuries. Witness the process of adinkra printing.

There are 60 Adinkra signs used in these cloths that are credited to proverbs.

As a visitor to Ghana, you will find stalls throughout the country selling masks and sculptures from Ghana, Togo, Benin, Mali, Burkina Faso and other West African countries. Don't miss out on this opportunity to visit bead markets, to traditional ceremonies, dances, character and many more.

Below is a sample tour to showcase what Ghana has to offer. Contact us for your customized itinerary.

DAY 1 Accra
Arrival at the Kotoka International Airport. Then to the hotel for the night where guests will be welcomed with a tropical cocktail. Spend the night at a beach rersort in Accra

DAY 2 Accra
Travel to Aburi Botanical Gardens, relax and experience the large amount of indigenous plants/flora. Visit the wood carvers of the mountains for viewing and possible purchasing. Spend the night at the Akwaaba Beach Resort

DAY 3 Accra - Akosombo
Visit the Akosombo Dam the largest man made dam in the world with a possible boat cruise on the Volta Lake. Spend the night at a riverside resort in Akosombo

DAY 4/5 Akosombo - Elmina
Travel to Cape Coast (capital of the Central Region) with visits to several fishing villages en route. Visits to the 16th century Castles and slave dungeons, declared as World Heritage monuments by the UNESCO. Experience the canopy walk of the Kakum National Park (360 square Kilometers of natural rain forest and home to many rare birds, butterflies and man.) Spend the night at a beach resort in Elmina

DAY 6 Elmina - Abonu
A visit to Kumasi will include the craft villages where traditional craftsmen apply their skills and talents. The Owabi Bird Sanctuary, which abounds with birds and butterflies is a place worth visiting once in this region. There will also be a visit to Bobiri forest Reserve, which covers approximately square Kilometers. This game reserve is superb for photography. Spend the night at a lakeside resort at Abonu

DAY 7-8 Abonu - Damongo
We shall forge ahead through the Brong-Ahafo Region on the way to the north with visits to the Kintampo falls and Mole National Park which is the largest national park in Ghana, home to large of elephants, bucks and monkeys. Spend the night at the in Damongo

DAY 9/10 Damongo - Nkwanta - Volta
Head back south, while enjoying the beautiful countryside along the way. We shall change route and pass through the Nkwanta to Ada Foah, Where the Volta Lake meets the Atlantic Ocean. Spend the night at a Riverfront resort

DAY 11 Volta - Accra
Return to Accra and visit the Centre for National Culture, the Kwame Nkrumah Mausoleum then spend the rest of the afternoon at one of our numerous sandy beaches. Spend the night at a beach resort in Accra

DAY 12 Accra
Last minute shopping for souvenirs and last night per-departure party Spend the night at a beach resort in Accra

DAY 13 Accra
Departure from Ghana with the most superb memories.

TOGO: Togo Tourism Investment

In the run-up to the first Africa Hotel Investment Forum in Lomé, the organiser, Bench Events, has praised Togo’s commitment to far-reaching infrastructure improvements destined to boost economic growth and transform the country into a strategic transport hub in west Africa.

Matthew Weihs, Bench Events managing director, said: “We’re very pleased to be hosting an additional AHIF in Togo at this decisive time, as the country embraces a number of important projects that will enhance its standing as a significant investment destination”.

Among the new projects are the newly-opened terminal at Lomé International Airport and the landmark Radisson Blu Hotel du 2 Février which will host the AHIF conference, as well as the major expansion of the capital’s sea port in the coming years.

AHIF conferences bring together high-profile, international investors, business leaders, government ministers and top officials from across Africa and will include the prime minister of Togo, Komi Sélom Klassou.

Weihs added: “We are looking forward to an exciting AHIF in Lomé.

“Togo has dynamic plans to develop and expand trade and tourism and AHIF will provide an excellent platform for delegates to discuss the way ahead.

“Our conference programme is packed with influential speakers who will share their insights on highly topical issues and we’re looking forward to some lively and enlightening discussions.”

Togo attracts a variety of visitors keen to explore its beautiful scenery and enjoy its tropical climate.

Figures from the World Travel & Tourism Council show that travel and tourism directly accounted for 3.1 per cent of total GDP in 2014 and was forecast to rise by six per cent in 2015, and by a further 2.2 per cent each year from 2015 to 2025.

VENEZUELA: La Colonia Tovar

Venezuela is one of the last places you would expect to find a picturesque German alpine village, and yet… La Colonia Tovar, also known as ‘The Germany of the Caribbean’, is conspicuous for its white houses with timbers and red roofs surrounded by flower gardens, carefully tended fields and creeks with water mills, and its hearty German cuisine of sausages and sauerkraut and large slices of black forest cake followed by a cold pint of beer.

It’s hard to imagine such a place actually exists in a South American country with a predominantly tropical climate, like Venezuela.

But travel north to the state of Aragua, about 1,800 meters up in the forests of the Cordillera de la Costa, and you’ll reach this quaint little town reminiscent of alpine Germany. Founded in 1843 by a group of 300-odd immigrants from the Schwarzwald (the Black Forest) of the Grand Duchy of Baden, on the eastern bank of the Rhine River, the town still maintains the original cultural imprint of this centuries-old community.

Travelling The World With No Money

Most people would love nothing more than to quit their jobs and travel the world, but they simply lack the courage, and most importantly, the funds to do so.

A young woman from Alabama has managed to do it though, by meeting rich men on the internet and having them pay for dates in some of the most exotic places on Earth. She’s now in a serious relationship with one of them, and he might just turn out to be ‘the one’.

It all started in December 2014, when 25-year-old Monica Lynn decided that her life was too boring and lacked adventure. So she quit her high-flying job as a financial advisor at Merrill Lynch in order to find something more interesting. Soon, she stumbled upon MissTravel, a website where people search for partners to go on holidays with.

“I came across Miss Travel in an article about weird websites,” Lynn explained. “I thought, ‘Yes, that sounds weird – but also kinda cool.

This website attracts very successful men who don’t have the time to date in the normal way, so this allows them to accelerate the whole thing.

They’re going on trips anyway, and they can afford to search through profiles and afford to bring one they like with them.”

PERU: Boiling River Boils Animals Alive

There is a mysterious river flowing deep through the Amazon rainforest in Mayantuyacu, Peru, that can literally boil small animals almost instantly.

While water temperatures along the 6.4-km-long river range between 50 and 90 degrees Celsius, in some parts almost reaching the boiling point of 100 degrees. That’s hot enough to cause third-degree burns in a matter of seconds.

The local Asháninka people have known about the mysterious Boiling River for centuries, referring to it as ‘Shanay-timpishka’, which translates to ‘boiled with the heat of the sun’.

Ancient legend has it that the hot water is unleashed by a giant serpent named Yacumama (mothers of the waters) and a large boulder shaped like a serpent’s head lies at the river’s headwaters, as a testimony to the primitive tale’s veridity.

For the rest of the world, however, this natural oddity was just that – a legend. Apart from a few references dating back to the 1930’s there was no scientific documentation of the boiling river and most geologists simply dismissed its existence based on the fact that it would take huge amounts of geothermal heat to boil entire sections of a river, which would be impossible because the Amazon basin is located 400 miles away from the nearest active volcano.

Except for a few tourists who visit Mayantuyacu each year to experience the traditional healing methods practiced by the Asháninka people, the civilized world was oblivious to the existence of a real boiling river.

INDIA: Discover Stone Of The Sky God

For over 1,300 years, this large rock has been confounding the locals of Mahabalipuram, a beach town near Chennai, in Southern India.

The mysterious landmark is perched on hill at a 45-degree angle, balancing off an extremely small surface area without slipping or even budging an inch. Men and even elephants have tried moving it from its precarious position , but every attempt so far has failed.

The locals call it ‘Vaanirai Kal’ (Stone of the Sky God), but the rock is more popularly known as ‘Krishna’s Butter Ball’, referencing Lord Krishna’s favorite food, butter, fallen from the heavens.

The gravity-defying rock, measuring 20 ft high and five meters in diameter, is estimated to weigh over 250 tons, which makes it heavier than the monolithic stones of Machu Picchu, or Ollantaytambo.

Despite its massive size and weight, Krishna’s Butter Ball is firmly anchored on a four-foot base along the slope of a small hill located on the outskirts of Mahabalipuram.

It looks like it might slip any moment and come crashing down the hill, but it has stayed that way for several centuries now.

TOGO: Akodessewa Fetish Market

Togo’s Akodessewa Fetish Market is recognized as the largest fetish market in the world, a place where Voodoo practitioner can find anything they need for their rituals.

The practice of voodoo began in West Africa, before being taken to America by slaves, and in countries like Togo, Ghana, or Nigeria the religion is very much alive. Many people believe healers using animal parts and strange talismans can invoke spirits with their bizarre rituals, and solve their problems. And if there’s one place where voodoo priests can stock up on their creepy supplies, it’s the Akodessewa Fetish Market, in Togo’s capital city, Lome. Just think of it as an outdoor pharmacy where various animal parts, bone statues and herbs take the place of conventional medicine.

The practice of voodoo began in West Africa, before being taken to America by slaves, and in countries like Togo, Ghana, or Nigeria the religion is very much alive. Many people believe healers using animal parts and strange talismans can invoke spirits with their bizarre rituals, and solve their problems. And if there’s one place where voodoo priests can stock up on their creepy supplies, it’s the Akodessewa Fetish Market, in Togo’s capital city.

Lomé is the birthplace of the largest Voodoo market in the world – a kind of super supply store for fetishes, charms and anything else one might need for a ritual. The Akodessewa Fetish Market, or Marche des Feticheurs, is recognized as the largest fetish market in the world, a place where Voodoo practitioner can find anything they need for their rituals. From leopard heads to Voodoo priests who bless and create fetishes or predict the future and make medicines to heal whatever ails you.

Although from afar it might look like just a dusty deserted lot lined with wooden tables, as you approach and see the piles of heads, tails, skins and limbs of various animals, you realize you’ve arrived at Akodessewa Fetish Market. You’re soon greeted by the place’s voodoo chief who offers to give you a tour of the market, and before you know it you’re bargaining over an ape paw or a gazelle head. It’s a crazy place, and the people here know how to get under your skin and make you buy at least a souvenir. Voodoo merchants have products gathered from all over West Africa and no matter your problem they’re bound to have something for you. They claim they can help everybody in the world, and whenever someone has a problem and runs out of options they come to Akodessewa to look for solutions.

Couples that can’t have babies, goalkeepers who want to do wonders in a football match, people who want extra stamina to run a marathon, they can all be helped at the world’s biggest voodoo market. All it takes is a black powder made from ground up animal parts and herbs that has to be rubbed into the flesh of the “patient”. Sure the person has to be cut on the chest or back three times before they apply the magic powder, but you didn’t need to know that.
Even if you’re not into voodoo, the Akodessewa Fetish Market is one of those exotic attractions that pulls you in and doesn’t let go. If you don’t like animal heads staring at you, you can just check out the protective statues and talismans, or learn about the various herbs voodoo priests use. As the merchants say, there’s something here for everybody.

Deep in the heart of West Africa, Vodoun, or more familiarly, Voodoo is not only alive and well, but it is thriving.

Togo's capital city of Lomé is the birthplace of the largest Voodoo market in the world – a kind of super supply store for fetishes, charms and anything else one might need for a ritual. The Akodessewa Fetish Market, or Marche des Feticheurs, is a place where you can find anything from leopard heads and human skulls to Voodoo priests who bless and create fetishes or predict the future and make medicines to heal whatever ails you.

Though many people think of Haiti as Voodoo's biggest stronghold, the religion originated in West Africa. Vodoun is the official religion of neighboring Benin and is still the largest religion in the area, which is obvious given that the outdoor market's location is in the heart of Togo's capital. The Akodessewa Fetish Market is a mecca to local practitioners and they travel there from all over the African continent. Many believers view the Marche des Feticheurs as a kind of hospital or pharmacy – it is the place you go when you either cannot afford traditional treatment or traditional treatment has failed you. Here you can find talismans and charms good for treating everything from the flu or infertility to removing the blackest of curses.

In the practice of Voodoo every single creature is potent and divine, whether alive or dead, and in the Akodessewa Fetish Market you may find them all – monkeys, alligators, goats, leopards, gazelles, and many, many more – in various stages of decay and stacked up in macabre piles for blocks. The outdoor location doesn't quite suppress the stench but at least the huge market is in the open air. It is a jarring place for tourists who are not used to the idea of animal sacrifice as part of worship or using pieces of the dead as talismans, but for locals who practice the religion, it is a treasure and a necessity.

Thursday 28 July 2016

Western Tian Shan Is UNESCO World Heritage Site

Mountains of Western Tian Shan were included to the UNESCO World Heritage List, reports the press-service of the international organization.

The Committee made the decision at the 40th session in Istanbul held from July 10 to 17.
Natural border is a part of Central Asian mountain system of Tian Shan, one of the largest mountain ranges out of seven in the world. Its western part is located in the territories of Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan. The height of the various peaks of celestial mountains in this area varies from 700 to 4503 meters.

The highest point is the Chatkal peak on the territory of Kyrgyzstan, in the eastern part of Chatkal ridge. The region outstands with various landscapes, specific flora and fauna. The western Tian Shan has an international significance as this is where many kinds of fruit trees originate from.

New Flights To Connect Chelyabinsk And Bishkek

As of June 8, direct regular flight of Air Kyrgygyzstan has started operating from Manas Bishkek International Airport to Chelyabinsk International Airport, reports information portal of Yuzhnouralsk panorama.

Flights are operated on Wednesdays weekly until 26 October. Flight AYU 831 from Bishkek departs at 11.00 and arrives in Chelyabinsk at 12.35. Return flight AYU 832 from Chelyabinsk departs at 14.00 and arrives in Bishkek at 17.30.

Flights are run on comfortable airbus Boeing 733.

KYRGYZSTAN: Google Street View Now Available In Kyrgyzstan

Kyrgyzstan became the first Central Asian country listed in the online-service of Google Street View, reports the information agency Sputnik Kyrgyzstan. Now anyone can virtually see architectural monuments of Bishkek, Osh, Jalal-Abad, Cholpon-Ata, Issyk-Kul and other regions.

The idea was realized via 3D-photos with 360 degrees view done from the height of 2.5 meters. You can study elements of architecture in details and observe the surrounding objects. Within the project, Google staff filmed the most popular touristic spots of Kyrgyzstan during the period of October-December 2015. The final processing of data and its upload to web took more than half a year.

The Google street view service was first launched in few states of the USA in 2007. Today the program consists of more than 3000 destinations around the world. For now Kyrgyzstan is the Central Asian country presented in this list.

Kyrgyzstan And Azerbaijan In Top Rating

According to the recent report of the World Travel and Tourism Council, the touristic boom and the fastest growth of this industry within the next decade is expected in the Republic of Kyrgyzstan, — informs the Daily Telegraph.

The World Travel and Tourism Council is an international non-governmental organization that consists of more than hundreds of representatives of the travel industry from different countries. The experts report that an annual growth of the tourist segment in relation to the GDP of Kyrgyzstan is forecasted at the level of 8,2%.

Every year Kyrgyzstan attracts thousands of tourists from all around the globe. 94% of the country is covered with mountains. It makes this land an ideal place for active holiday and rest in the nature. Due to difficult access to many mountainous regions of the republic, there are pristine picturesque landscapes that have been preserved and attract fans of horse riding. Thanks to horses and experienced guides, travelers can discover amazing blooming valleys and lakes hidden behind the mountain peaks. In total, there are more than 1923 lakes on the territory of the country. T

he most famous one is the Issyk Kul Lake, often called as the Pearl of the Tyan-Shan Mountains. Those who are willing to discover Kyrgyzstan have an excellent opportunity to dive into the real world of nomads that still keeps ancient traditions and unique culture for centuries.

Myanmar (7,7%) and India (7,5%) took the second and the third places.

The World Travel and Tourism Council report also included the list of the largest growth of the tourism segment in relation to the country GDP in 2015. The second in this category came Azerbaijan with the growth of 27,3%.

The land of fire attracts tourists with its colorful mixture of European and Asian civilizations, beauty of Caucasian mountains, grandeur of architectural monuments and rich history.

The first place in this ranking is taken by Uganda with the growth of 36,7%, and Qatar is in the third place with the rate of 23,7%.

Kyrgyzstan To Host 2nd World Nomad Games

The dates of the Second World Nomad games have been set, reports the official website of the games The unique event will be held this autumn, from September 3 to 8 in the Issyk-Kul region.

Currently Issyk-Kul gets ready for the games; the roads and hippodrome are being reconstructed. At the Second World Nomads Games the audience will enjoy such national games as Salburun (hunting with eagles), kok boru (equestrian games), ordo (dice), the alysh fight, toguztorgool (strategy game).

In total, 26 types of the national sports and the same quantity of teams from different countries, Kyrgyzstan, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Russia, are expected at the event. The games will be traditionally accompanied by a variety of ethnic and cultural activities.

KYRGYZSTAN: First Mountain Skiing Center Opened

The first skiing center was opened in the Suzak district of the Jalal-Abad region, - reports the information agency “Sputnik Kyrgyzstan”. It is located at the attitude of 1400 meters above the sea level, 30 km away from the city of Jalal-Abad. The skiing center “Markay” was launched on 16 December 2015, but just got to the full extent of its power.

The new center is equipped with three trails: two of them are for skiers and stretch for 250 and 450 meters, and the third one was created for snowboarders and tubing lovers (inflatable sledge); its length is 150 meters. The slopes are equipped with ropeway and night lighting.

Winter in this region is relatively warm, but there is snow on the slopes of the mountains and melts rather slowly despite warm temperature. It is also noted in the message that it is planned to add few more paths in the future for fans of skiing runners.

KYRGYZSTAN: One Of Countries To Visit In 2016

Choose Kyrgyzstan as one of the travel destinations for 2016. International business newspaper published on its website a list of seven countries worth visiting in 2016. Else than Kyrgyzstan, it also includes Sri-Lanka, Peru, Greenland, Brazil, Cuba and South Africa.

It is also noted in the message that every year Kyrgyzstan is attracting more and more tourists with its interesting nomad culture, breathtaking mountain landscapes, crystal clear lakes and forests. Moreover, as of 2012, Kyrgyzstan introduced a visa-free regime for citizens of many western countries that also influenced the development of the tourism industry.

In 2016, Kyrgyzstan promises to be even more interesting for newly arriving tourists. Apart from untouched natural landscapes, traditional hikes to the Tyan-Shan Mountains, bike rides along ancient Silk Road and night stays in yurts, Kyrgyzstan offers many other entertaining events dedicated to the 25th anniversary of independence. There will be held festivals, traditional games and nomad contests across the country.

KYRGYZSTAN: “Aitysh” In UNESCO List of Intangible Cultural Heritage

Kyrgyz improvisation art “Aitysh” was inscribed to the UNESCO List of Intangible Cultural Heritage. It was reported by the National Commission. According to it, nomination of “Aitysh/aitys” was presented by Kyrgyzstan along with Kazakhstan.

One of the traditional forms of the folk song poetry “Aitysh” is a competition of two people in art of oral-poetic improvisation. Listeners gather around the performers and put forward themes to them. Contestants start reading poems composing them on the spot to the accompaniment of traditional national musical instruments, such as dombra or komuz. The winner is the performer considered to have demonstrated talent, wit, the best musical skills, and originality.

“Aitysh”, as the Kyrgyz state, is not simply a form of folk entertainment, but rather a symbol of national identity of the people of Central Asia. The genre of this oral art is common among Kazakhs, Bashkirs, Uzbeks and Turkmens.

Earlier, the UNESCO List of Kyrgyzstan included the art of akyns (performers of epos) and the holiday of Navruz.

KYRGYZSTAN: Kyrgyzstan Is Best Photo-tour Destination

Kyrgyzstan won the National Geographic Traveler contest in the nomination “The best destination for photo-tour”, - reports the official website of the National Geographic. More than a quarter of million Russians participated in the survey to vote for the most touristic countries in 18 nominations.

The awarding ceremony was held on 18 November in Moscow, where the Second Secretary of the Embassy of the Republic of Kyrgyzstan Ayimkan Kulukeeva highlighted rich of touristic resources of Kyrgyzstan. These are, firstly, picturesque high-mountain lake Issyk-Kul and its surroundings well known for warm sand beaches, thermo-mineral radon springs, Alpine meadows and coniferous forests. “Flights to Issyk-Kul have been launched from Bishkek and Kazakhstan. Moreover, visitors can visit mountain resorts on a helicopter”, - noted the Second Secretary.

In 2014, Kyrgyzstan won the National Geographic Traveler contest: it was then recognized as the best “Recreation holiday destination” outrunning Israel and Vietnam.

SOUTH AFRICA: Hotel And Tourism Sector Visitors Go Up

New visa regulations had a sharp impact on the South African tourism industry.

South Africa’s hotel industry is set for steady growth in the next five years driven by an increase in the number of foreign visitors to the African continent.

Pietro Calicchio, industry leader of hospitality and gambling, PwC Southern Africa (, says: “Although the South African economy has weakened considerably, the overall outlook for hotels in South Africa is expected to remain positive.”

According to PwC’s 6th edition Hotels Outlook 2016 – 2020, revenue from hotel room accommodation in South Africa rose 8.1% in 2015 to R14.2 billion, reflecting an increase in stay unit nights and a 6.5% rise in the average room rate. Overall, hotel room revenue is projected to expand at a 7.8% compound annual rate to R20.6 billion in 2020. PwC’s report features information about hotel accommodation in South Africa, Nigeria, Mauritius, Kenya, and Tanzania.

“The devaluation of the rand and the relaxation of certain visa regulations has had a positive impact on the tourism industry in South Africa, making the country a more attractive tourism destination. This has also had a positive impact on the number of foreign visitors to South Africa over the past six months,” says Calicchio.

The new visa regulations had a sharp impact on the South African tourism industry. After growing at an 8% compound annual rate between 2009 and 2013, the number of foreign overnight visitors rose only 0.2% in 2014 before falling 6.8% in 2015 – the biggest decline in six years, according to official statistics. China had the largest decrease of 46% in 2014, while the decrease from India was 23.5%. Visits from China edged up 2.2% in 2015, but remained 45% lower than the peak in 2013, while visits from India fell an additional 8.5% in 2015 for a cumulative 30% decline over the past two years.

A key factor cited as contributing to the decline was the requirement that foreign travellers appear in person at South African embassies to have their biometric information taken. However, some countries such as India, Russia and China have very few South African visa processing centres.

In October 2015, some of these regulations were eased and the Department of Home Affairs is considering introducing further amendments.

Overall, in 2015 there was a decline in the number of foreign travellers to South Africa from every region except the Middle East and North Africa. Of non-African countries, the UK is still the largest source of visitors to South Africa at 407 486 in 2015, an increase of 1.4%. It was one of the few countries from where visitors increased in 2015, but that gain did not offset the overall 6.8% decline from 2014. Visits from the US dipped below 300 000 in 2015, down 3.9% from 2014. Germany was down 6.5% in 2015, while Australia fell 10.8%.

Of African countries, the largest numbers of foreign visitors to South Africa in 2015 came from Zimbabwe (2.1 million), followed by Lesotho (1.5 million) and Mozambique (1.3 million) but all were lower than in 2014.

On a more positive note, the number of monthly overnight tourist visitors to South Africa started picking up towards the end of 2015 and rose above the one million mark for the first time in January 2016, with international visitor numbers up by 16.8% for the months of January to April 2016 when compared to the same period in 2015. Visitor numbers from Europe have increased by 13.6%, China 38.0% and North America 16.4% through to April 2016 when compared to the first four months of 2015. For 2016 as a whole, a 12.4% increase in foreign visitors is anticipated.

Hotel accommodation: South Africa – Nigeria – Mauritius – Kenya - Tanzania

The number of hotel rooms planned in Africa has increased from prior years in the wake of a number of developments across the continent.

Overall, room revenue in South Africa, Nigeria, Mauritius, Kenya and Tanzania rose 6.7% in 2015, the largest gain since 2011. Tanzania had the largest increase with a 14.4% gain, the result of a large increase in the average room rate that offset a drop in stay unit nights.

“It is promising to see a growing number of new hotels that are planned for the South African market over the next five years. We are forecasting an additional 2 600 hotel rooms to be added over the next five years,” says Calicchio. “We forecast that hotel room revenue will grow by 11.9% in 2016 to R15.8 billion.” The interest in new hotel developments in Cape Town reflects its strong growth rates and its appeal as a tourist attraction.

Five-star hotels had the highest occupancy rates in the market at 79.5% in 2015, up from 70.7% in 2014 as stay unit nights increased by 12.5%.

The hotel sector in Mauritius experienced an increase in stay unit nights in 2015, but a drop in the average room rate that resulted in a 6.7% increase in room revenue. Nigeria’s long-term prospects for the hospitality sector remain positive, though the impact of its current weaker economy is likely to reflect in near-term hotel performance. Kenya’s economic growth has been strong and a number of initiatives have contributed to a recent increase in the tourism industry.

With occupancy rates and visitor numbers on the rise, there is renewed activity in the hotel sector. There are a number of major hotels expected to open in the next five years and several others in the planning stage. The number of available hotel rooms are projected to rise at a 0.8% compound annual rate to 63 700 in 2020 from 61 100 in 2015.

Stay unit nights are expected to increase at a 1.9% compound annual rate to 14.6 million in 2020 from 13.3 million in 2015. With stay unit nights growing faster than room supply, the occupancy rate for hotels is forecast to rise from 59.6% in 2015 to 62.6% in 2020.

The hotel market in Nigeria has not fared as well as South Africa with stay unit nights dropping 12% and room revenue down by 3.6% over the past two years. There are a number of new hotels planned or under construction and we forecast an additional 4 700 rooms to be added in Nigeria during the next five years. Hotel room revenue is expected to grow to US$ 507 million in 2020 from the US$321 million achieved in 2015, due to increases in both stay unit nights and average room rates. The number of tourist arrivals to Mauritius increased by 10.9% in 2015, the largest increase during the past five years. The number of available hotel rooms is expected to increase at a 2.8% compound annual rate, rising to 15 600 in 2020 with hotel room revenue forecast to grow at a 10.6% compound annual rate to Euro 920 million in 2020 .

Kenya’s hotel market is recovering, with growth being achieved for the first time in four years due to an increase in the average room rate even though stay units fell 2.8% in 2015. Revenue is projected to grow at 6.1% compounded annually to 2020. Tanzania’s hotel room revenue amounted to US$222 million in 2015 and is expected to grow by 10.8% compounded annually to US$371 million in 2020.

“The hotel market in each country is affected by both the local and global economy, with some countries being more dependent on foreign visitors than others. The growth forecast is therefore dependent on how well both the local and global economy performs and grows over the next five years.”

“The tourism industry continues to be one of the fastest growing sectors of Africa’s economy. In spite of recent challenges, including the change in visa regulations in South Africa and the contraction of the global economy, the sector has significant potential to create jobs and uplift inclusive economic growth across the continent”, concludes Calicchio.