Travel Weekly's Asia-Pacific E-letter: Feb. 7, 2005

HONG KONG visitor arrivals in December reached 2,085,127, the highest single-month total on record and a 16.3% increase over the December 2003 total of 1.79 million. The strong December performance took total arrivals for 2004 to 21.8 million, exceeding the Hong Kong Tourism Board's forecast of 21.4 million. The previous record of 16.57 million was achieved in 2002. 

TAIWAN'S tallest skyscraper, named "Taipei 101" after its number of floors, is now open to tourists who want to visit the observation deck. The 1,679-foot-tall building is 184 feet taller than the previous record-holder, the Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. It also has some of the world's fastest elevators. Soaring at 3,333 feet per minute, they can reach the 89th floor observation platform in 39 seconds. Taipei 101 is 271 feet higher than the Sears Tower in Chicago, the tallest skyscraper in the U.S.

ACCOR is bringing its four-star Novotel brand back to Singapore with the rebranding of the Hotel New Otani to Novotel Clarke Quay Singapore. The rebranding is effective immediately and will be followed by a multimillion-dollar refurbishment and upgrading program due for completion by the end of September 2005. Novotel Clarke Quay is located between Singapore's main financial center at Raffles Place and the Orchard Road shopping area, adjacent to Clarke Quay's restaurants and pubs. Special rates are being offered from about $83 per room, per night, plus local taxes and surcharges.

ATS TOURS added nine tours to its 2005 program for Australia and New Zealand, including a seven-night New Zealand Horizons tour, which begins and ends in Christchurch. The tour includes a trip on the TranzAlpine Express and a motorcoach to Franz Josef and Queenstown, a trip along the Remarkables mountain range to Milford Sound with a cruise along the fiord and visits to Dunedin and Mount Cook National Park. The land price is $1,595 per person, double, for departures April 1-Sept. 14. Topping the range of ATS' new programs is the 19-night Australia's Last Frontier, which begins in Darwin and travels along the west coast to Perth. Its price begins at $5,195 per person, double, land only. The ATS reservations line is (800) 423-2880.

MALAYSIA AIRLINES is offering special fares to Vietnam, which is benefiting from a 27% increase in American tourism in 2005, according to the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism. The fares are 40% off the airline's regular prices. Air from Los Angeles or Newark to Ho Chi Minh City or Hanoi is $699 to $799 per person through May 31. Tickets must be booked by Feb. 28. Three flights a week are offered from Newark, five from Los Angeles.


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