Travel Weeklys Asia-Pacific E-letter: Dec. 13, 2004

QANTAS extended its deadline for booking the Qantas Aussie Air Pass from Dec. 31, 2004 to Aug. 31, 2005. Hayman Island was added to the list of destinations. The pass includes roundtrip economy air between Los Angeles or Honolulu to Sydney, plus three domestic flights within Australia. Prices start from $999. Divided in zones, the base price is Zone One with travel to and from Sydney, Canberra, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide, Gold Coast, Hobart and Launceston. For an additional $200, Zone Two cities include Cairns, Hamilton Island, Townsville, Alice Springs, Ayers Rock and Darwin. For an additional $400, Zone Three options are Perth, Broome and Hayman Island. For more information or to book, call (800) 965-6252 or visit www.australia.com.

SEVERAL PACKAGES have been added to the Tourism Australia Web site [www.australia.com], including four luxury vacations. Packages include the countrys top city and beach retreats as well as sightseeing options. Starting from $1,399, they include roundtrip air from Los Angeles on Qantas, domestic air in Australia, transfers and accommodations.

NAME GAME: The Beijing New Century Hotel in Beijing, a five-star property, will be renamed Hotel Nikko New Century Beijing by JAL Hotels Co. when it reopens on Dec. 20 after undergoing renovations. Hotel Nikko New Century Beijing will be the second hotel in the Nikko Hotels chain in Beijing (the first is the Jinglun Hotel). The property is located in the northwest section of Beijing near the high-tech IT zone, government ministries, the National Library and the Beijing Zoo.

VIKING RIVER CRUISES said it contracted Chongqing New Century Cruise Co. to add a third ship, the Viking Century Sun, to its China fleet to meet the strong demand for Yangtze River cruises. Viking Century Sun will join the recently launched Viking Century Sky on the Yangtze for the 2006 season. Viking River Cruises will manage the hotel and catering onboard the vessel. For 2005 and 2006, Viking River Cruises will offer three- and four-night cruises as well as nine-day cruises between Chongqing and Shanghai, offered as part of cruise-tour packages that include Beijing, Xian and Shanghai.

THE PACIFIC ASIA TRAVEL ASSOCIATION (PATA) forecasts that more than 300 million international visitors will travel to the Asia-Pacific region in 2004, about 10% more than the previous record of 274.8 million in 2002. PATA attributed the forecast to pent-up demand for the region following the SARS crisis, competitive fares by low-cost carriers and the strong Euro, among other reasons. One of the regions leading performers is China, which has seen international arrivals rise to almost 80 million from January through September, compared with 66 million during the same period in 2003.

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