Travel Weeklys Asia-Pacific E-letter: Jan. 10, 2005

REBUILD IT AND THEY WILL COME. That seems to be the expectation in the areas of Thailand hardest hit by last months tsunami. The Bank of Thailand approved nearly $1 billion in low-interest loans to victims of the disaster, while the government pledged to give another $800 million in grants to affected individuals and businesses. Sethaphan Buddhani, director of the Tourism Authority of Thailands New York office, said the government estimates it will take about three months for the affected resorts to rebuild enough to reopen. Several resorts wont reopen until later in the year. The tourism authority, the Thailand Hotel Association and the private sector met Jan. 7 in Bangkok to develop a plan to minimize economic damage. The urgency to rebuild reflects the regions dependence on tourism. According to the Tourism Authority of Thailand, Phuket alone is losing more than $10 million a day during the peak tourism season. Although 90% of Phukets rooms are intact, only 20% of the rooms are occupied, most by rescue and relief workers. Still, Buddhani said the tourism authority is sticking with its projection that tourism will grow by 10% this year to more than 13 million visitors.

SOFITEL, the luxury brand of Accor hotels, launched a Getaway Invitations promotion at 130 properties worldwide -- including in Asia -- for all of 2005. Through Dec. 31, guests will pay daily rates that are discounted by as much as 40% and receive complimentary breakfast. In addition, children under 12 stay for free. Also, members of Sofitels loyalty program, Sofitel Privilege Card, will receive additional benefits and points for booking the package. For information or reservations, call (800) 763-4835 or visit www.sofitel.com.

SRI LANKAN AIRLINES will award 130,000 miles to a customer who earns the most miles in business class by Aug. 31. The prize equates to one free business-class return ticket between Colombo, Sri Lanka, and any of Sri Lankans European destinations or two economy class tickets between the same destinations. The air miles are valid for three years and the tickets or upgrades can be given to others.

PAN PACIFIC Hotels and Resorts opened the Haneda Excel Hotel Tokyo, located just a few steps from the Haneda Airport departure lobby of Terminal 2. The hotel is linked to downtown Tokyo by multiple modes of public transportation, including the Tokyo Monorail and Keihin Kyuko Lines. The hotels 387 rooms and suites have high-speed Internet access. Additionally, All Nippon Airways and Japan Airlines auto-boarding machines and flight information boards are installed in the hotels lobby.

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