TSUNAMI: In the wake of a
massive tsunami that devastated coastal areas throughout south and
southeast Asia, the U.S. State Department urged Americans to avoid
all non-emergency travel to the Asian countries affected.
Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Thailand, India and the Maldives were the
hardest hit. Operators of tours and vacation packages to the
affected areas were kept busy fielding phone calls, tracking
passengers, reassuring travel agents and family members regarding
the well being of their clients and rerouting passengers.
HARD: In Thailand, one of the
worst-hit areas was Phuket, where massive waves and walls of water
crashed into coastal towns and beach resorts lining the Andaman
coast along the western portion of the island, which accounts for
about 40% of the country's $10 billion tourism industry. According
to the Tourism Authority of Thailand, beachfront resorts lining the
Andaman coast incurred "severe damage and destruction." In addition
to Phuket, hard-hit areas reporting widespread damage are
Phang-Nga, Krabi, Koh Lanta Island and Phi Phi Island.
AIRPORT remains open and
operational, and resorts along Thailand's east coast on the Gulf of
Siam, including Pattaya, Cha-Am, Hua Hin and Koh Samui, were
unaffected, the tourism authority said.
CRUISES took a majority stake in
Valuair, a budget carrier located in Singapore. Star said the
alliance with Valuair is part of a strategy to develop Singapore
into a "world-renowned cruise hub rivaling Miami." The line said
130,000 inbound tourists from Asia, Australia and the U.K. pass
through Singapore to embark on a Star ship, and a third of those
passengers are from markets currently served by Valuair. Star said
it would work with Valuair on various marketing and operational
programs, including fly-cruise packages.
INTERNATIONAL partnered with
four frequent-flyer programs, effective Jan. 1. The agreements,
which allow members of the loyalty programs to accrue miles when
they stay at any Langham property, were signed with Cathay Pacific,
Singapore Airlines, Air New Zealand and Qantas.
HOTEL in Seoul opened a new spa
in association with L'Institut de Guerlain, a company known for
luxury cosmetics, fragrances and skin-care products. The Shilla
Jeju, a sister property on Jeju Island, opened a Guerlain spa
earlier this year. The spa includes 12 treatment rooms and
Japanese-style "foot bath" areas.