Travel Weeklys Asia-Pacific E-letter: Jan. 31, 2005

THE TAIWAN TOURISM BOARD launched a marketing initiative in North America in an effort to establish itself as a travel destination. The board launched a new Web site (www.go2taiwan.net) for North American consumers and a Web site for travel agents, which is accessible from www.go2taiwan.net or directly at www.taiwanspecialist.com. The board intends to run a series of print ads in the New York Times and Travel + Leisure as well as commercials on CNN.

STARWOOD chose Chongqing as the site for its 30th property in China, the Sheraton Chongqing, which will open in January 2008. As the main upstream embarkation point for Yangtze cruises, Chongqing is experiencing a boom since the construction of the Three Gorges Dam. It also received a boost since its designation by the Chinese government in 1997 as one of Chinas four highest-level municipalities, which are under direct federal control. The 330-room Sheraton Chongqing will be located in the new entertainment and commercial district on Nanbin Road, part of the Chongqing Bund development. It will be Chongqings tallest building.

ORIENT FLEXI-PAX TOURS is offering a six-night package that includes Hong Kong and Tokyo and is priced from $1,299 per person, double. The package includes roundtrip air on United Airlines from Los Angeles or San Francisco, roundtrip airport transfers by shuttle bus, three nights in Hong Kong at BP International Hotel, a half-day motorcoach tour of Hong Kong Island, three nights in Tokyo at the New Takanawa Prince Hotel and a half-day Tokyo motorcoach tour. Daily departures are available through March 6. Orient Flexi-Pax is a member of the U.S. Tour Operators Association. To book, call (800) 545-5540. For more information, see www.orientflexipax.com.

SHANGRI-LA HOTELS mounted an updated version of its Web site (www.shangri-la.com) that incorporates a dynamic-packaging capability and new content. An enhanced booking engine gives users the ability to compare rates and room types and take virtual tours of the properties. The dynamic-packaging software enables users to book airlines, car rentals, activities and hotel nights. The site will also incorporate weather, currency and destination information. Reservations booked online during March will be entered into a Find Your Shangri-La contest. Fifty winners a week will be drawn during March, for a total of 200 winners, who will receive complimentary rooms for their entire stay at any Shangri-La hotel.

TRANSONIC TRAVEL, an Australia-based company that owns Qantas Vacations and Newmans Holidays, purchased Los Angeles-based tour operator group ATS/Island in the Sun, which specializes in travel to Australia, New Zealand, Tahiti, Fiji and other Pacific islands. The acquisition price was $16.5 million.

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