Travel Weekly's Asia-Pacific E-letter: October 20,2005

RITZ TOURS launched a new high-end tour series for 2006 called the Premiere Series. The series upgrades Ritz' standard series, called the Deluxe Series, by upgrading hotels and inclusions. While the Deluxe series used five star hotels, the Premiere series will use "the best hotels in every city," according to Evan Chan, Ritz' director, such as the InterContinental Grand Stanford in Hong Kong, the St. Regis in Shanghai, the Sheraton in Guilin and the Sofitel in Xian. What were optional extras in the Deluxe Series are standard inclusions in the Premiere, Chan said. The series will premiere with four programs. Three are upgraded Deluxe programs: upstream and downstream Yangtze River programs for $3,499 and $3,599 per person, double, respectively, and a 13-night China Panorama tour priced from $2,899 per person, double. The fourth, meanwhile, is an all-new 16-night Tokyo & China Highlights tour starting from $3,399 per person, double. Ritz reservations line is (800) 900-2446. Its Web address is

SWAIN TOURS will debut two group tours of Southeast Asia for 2006. The 13-night Vibrant Asia includes Hong Kong; Singapore; Siem Reap, Cambodia; and Chiang Mai and Bangkok, Thailand. The land price starts at $2,400 per person, double, including 14 breakfasts, five lunches and three dinners. Swains 11-night Insiders Vietnam with Bangkok begins in Bangkok, followed by a trip through Vietnam, including Halong Bay, Hoi An, Danang, Hue and Ho Chi Minh City. The price starts at $1,830 per person, double, land only; included are 12 breakfasts, three lunches and one dinner. For more information, call (800) 22-SWAIN or log onto

THE WORLD TOURISM ORGANIZATION (WTO) said it plans to meet with officials of the World Health Organization (WHO) to work on ways to prevent the threat of avian flu slowing tourism. WTO Secretary-General Francesco Frangialli warned against "unnecessary scaremongering that can slow tourism and hurt economies. He urged governments and media to act responsibly to avoid creating a repeat of the SARS scare. The objective of our meeting with the WHO is to help the tourism industry to be better informed and prepared, said Frangialli. Our message is not to overreact or panic, but at the same time not to underestimate the problem."

PACKAGE DEAL: In preparation for a closing at the end of the year for renovations, the Mandarin Oriental, Hong Kong is offering a promotional two-night package for couples including a champagne welcome, accommodations in a Deluxe Harbour View Suite, a Mandarin Oriental bathrobe, a Tiffany Box, roundtrip limousine transfers and en-suite breakfast for two. The package is priced $2,530 and is valid through Dec. 28. For more information and to make bookings, log onto

COLLETTE VACATIONS will launch a 14-night tour of Japan and China beginning in April 2006. Its the companys first foray into Japan, though it has offered some China trips before. The trip begins in Osaka, Japan, and includes sightseeing in Kyoto and Tokyo. From there passengers will fly to China and visit Hong Kong, Guilin, Xian and Beijing, with sightseeing highlights such as the Great Wall and Tiananmen Square. The price starts at $2,899 per person, double occupancy, land only. For bookings, call (800) 832-4656; for more information, see


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