Travel Weekly's Asia-Pacific E-letter: Jan. 24, 2005

VICTORIA CRUISES introduced a new palette of specials for its Yangtze River cruise packages. The operator is knocking 40% off its five-day/four-night Chongqing-Yichang trip, which includes the Three Gorges and the Three Gorges Dam, through March 13. The discount prices start at $306. The seven-night, roundtrip Chongqing-Yichang-Chongqing trip is $499 for Feb. 17 and 24; March 3 and 10 departures and $549 for March 17, 24, 31; and April 7 departures.

THE CRUISE LINE also is discounting seven-day Chongqing-Shanghai trips and nine-day Shanghai-Chongqing trips, which travel the Yangtze from its mouth at the Pacific Ocean through the lower and upper reaches to Chongqing. The March 18 and April 1 sailings of the Chongqing itinerary is priced $599, as are the March 24 and April 7 sailings of the Shanghai-Chongqing trip. For booking and information call (800) 348 8084, e-mail [email protected], or visit the Web site at www.victoriacruises.com.

THE PHUKET TOURISM ASSOCIATION reports that life is returning to normal in Phuket. Patong, the association said, was only affected along the beach road, leaving 80% of the city untouched. On the beaches on the west coast of the island, including Kata, Karon, Nai Han, Nai Yang and Bang Thao, there was less than 10% damage, according to the association, which is urging travelers to come back and spend their money in Phuket, where it will be channeled into the economy and serve as direct relief to locals suffering from the tsunami.

WITH UNITED AIRLINES adding a flight to Ho Chi Minh City in December, its private-label vacation packaging arm, United Vacations (run by Swain Tours), is beefing up its product line for Vietnam. The Vietnam Explorer is an 11-night itinerary with local hosts that includes a four-night stay in Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon), followed by a flight to Danang and stops in Hoi An, Hue and Hanoi. The last two nights are in Hong Kong. The price is $1,195 for the land component, or $2,055 with air included. Call (800) 917-9246 or visit www.uv-asia.com.

QATAR AIRWAYS and ALL NIPPON AIRWAYS signed an agreement that combines their loyalty programs. The agreement coincides with Qatar's entrance into the Japanese market with nonstop scheduled flights between Osaka, Japan, and Doha, Qatar, which will begin March 31.

SINGAPORE AIRLINES is increasing capacity on a number of Asian routes for its summer schedule, beginning March 27. The airline plans to offer daily flights from Singapore to Hanoi, Vietnam; Fukuoka, Japan; and Christchurch, New Zealand. It will increase flights to Mumbai, India from 12 per week to two per day. Two flights a week will be added to Brisbane and Melbourne, Australia. Flights to Athens will increase from two to three per week. Flights to Shenzhen, China, will increase from three to five per week.
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