Australian airports roll out digital boarding passes

Posted by - August 7, 2018

Australia’s airports are utilizing technology to cut passenger time spent in queues. Source: Shutterstock
AIRPORTS and long queues have gone hand-in-hand since the dawn of commercial aviation.
And now, with more people than ever traveling internationally, airports can be a dreaded place for many.
But Australian airports are hoping to change this traveling experience by allowing outbound passengers who are flying internationally to check-in for their flights using a mobile phone.
This means passengers will no longer have to queue up at airport desks to get a paper boarding pass.
Starting this week, airlines operating in Australia will be able to issue electronic boarding passes directly to passengers.
“Australia is a world leader in seamless travel, and this move will allow travelers to move across our border smoothly,” Citizenship Minister Alan Tudge said in a statement.
In 2016, nearly 1.5 billion people traveled internationally. This is almost a billion more people than a decade earlier in 1996.
Of these travelers, more than 21 million of them passed through a border at one of Australia’s international airports.
“These increasing volumes mean we are always looking for ways to clear legitimate travelers efficiently and seek out those of interest to law enforcement,” added Tudge.
The implementation of this new check-in system follows several successful trials of mobile boarding passes for international flights in multiple Australian airports.
International outbound passengers at Australia’s airports will also have experienced the automatic SmartGates which are another technology used to improve the flow of passengers.
In fact, SmartGates are a common sight in airports across the world and Acuity Market Intelligence predicts the market for e-Gates and kiosks will exceed US$752 million this year.
Source: Shutterstock
A Qantas spokesperson told nine.com.au, “Using digital boarding passes has already been popular with our customers who have used their mobile devices to help make their travel experience more seamless.”
Qantas began offering passengers the option of digital boarding passes 12 months ago on routes between Australia and New Zealand.
The airline is now expected to extend this mobile access to other international destinations, including the US, as soon as October.
Qantas is Australia’s national flag carrier. Source: Shutterstock
But Australia isn’t done with its utilization of technology just yet.
Last week, the Queensland government approved a grant of US$6.1 million from the Queensland Ignite Ideas funding which supports local businesses.
One of these is a cryptocurrency startup called TravelbyBit.
The startup aims to open Australia to a digital currency tourism by offering a multi-cryptocurrency platform where users can purchase commodities such as flights.
One of TravelbyBit’s first partnerships is with Brisbane Airport Corporation, which also offers electronic boarding passes. The startup has high hopes of making it the “world’s first digital currently friendly airport.”
With all this new technology on the horizon, travelers in Australia could soon find themselves not needing to show their passports or travel with cash in their wallets.

Have home-sharing platforms finally met their rival?

Posted by - August 3, 2018

HYATT Hotels Corporation, home to franchises of luxury hotels, resorts, and vacation properties, has rolled up its sleeves to counter home-sharing companies by rolling out a new product.
Enter, Hyatt House.
#BOOKINGS
Airbnb: 3 most wish-listed accommodations in Asia-Pacific What is Hyatt House? It’s extended-stay hotel kitted out with the same offerings that you would find in a home-shared unit. Think residential-style hotel.
“Feel at home in apartment-style spaces, with areas to work and relax. Our studios and suites include up to two bedrooms, plus bathrooms, separate living areas, and fully equipped kitchens – think refrigerators, microwaves, stovetops, and islands,” Hyatt House said.
Inspired by extensive research of guest experiences, Hyatt launched the Hyatt House range of hotels back in 2012, targeted to those “who believe that being away from home doesn’t mean giving up the life that one usually lives.”
Source: Hyatt House.
It currently has more than 60 locations throughout the US. But it wasn’t until 2017 that the Hyatt House in Asia opened its doors to travelers and locals in China with the 103-room Hyatt House Yinchuan Dayuecheng.
This was closely followed by Hyatt House Shenzhen Airport, Hyatt House Shanghai Hongqiao, Hyatt House Shanghai New Hongqiao, and Hyatt House Chengdu Pebble Walk.
Recently, Hyatt House opened its first house-like hotel in Southeast Asia – Hyatt House Kuala Lumpur Mont’Kiara.
Source: Hyatt House.
Located in an exclusive and cosmopolitan enclave in the Malaysian capital, Hyatt House Kuala Lumpur Mont’Kiara overlooks the city skyline of Kuala Lumpur. Ideal for both business and leisure travelers, the property is just a short drive away from world-class malls and the bustling city center.
Not only is Hyatt House Kuala Lumpur Mont’Kiara the first Hyatt House in Southeast Asia, it’s also the largest Hyatt House in the world, with a wide range of comfortable facilities – much like those that one would find in a home-sharing unit.
The comfortable 298 residential-style suites and studios come with fully equipped kitchens, free Wi-Fi, and free parking for long-stay residents.
Source: Hyatt House.
But also, Hyatt House has taken it up a notch by offering free shuttle service, free buffet breakfast, a 24-hour workout and games room, rooftop sky pool, a bar offering refreshing drinks and home-cooked comfort food all day, and a market providing grab-n-go items such as fresh sandwiches and salads 24 hours a day.
A friendly “House Host” will also available to check-in guests, provide directions, or help with other needs to help guests feel at home.
“Traveling has increasingly become a necessity rather than just a leisure activity. So, whether it’s because of temporary relocation for work in a new city, or traveling for an extended period of time for bleisure visits – people are looking for ways to travel while staying rooted to their routines,” Hyatt House said.
#LUXE
Give your furkid a taste of luxury at these pet-friendly hotels in Asia Best of all, Hyatt House Kuala Lumpur Mont’Kiara is pet-friendly, so rest assured you won’t be without your furkid by your side for the entirety of your long stay.
So, have home-sharing platforms like Airbnb, Homestay, Home Exchange, and the likes finally met their match?
For more information on Hyatt House, visit its website.
The post Have home-sharing platforms finally met their rival? appeared first on Travel Wire Asia.

You’ll soon hear “leave liquids in your bag” at airport security

Posted by - August 1, 2018

PASSENGERS flying in and out of the US may no longer have to take carry-on liquids out of their bags as the nation’s aviation security agency, TSA, is trialing three-dimensional (3D) scanners in 15 airports.
Currently, airports use dual X-ray machines which provide two-dimensional images of a bag’s content.
While these are great for detecting contraband such as knives, hammers, scissors, and bombs, they’re not equipped to detect liquids.
This has resulted in the hassle of taking liquids out of carry-on bags for the last 12 years while juggling other items and trying not hold up the queue behind.
#INDUSTRY NEWS
Japan’s airlines have rolled out this new security check To relieve airport congestion while maintaining a thorough search procedure, the TSA is planning to add around 40 CT scanners – much like those used in hospitals – across 40 of the nation’s airports by the end of the year.
“[The] use of CT technology substantially improves TSA’s threat detection capability at the checkpoint,” TSA Administrator David Pekoske said in a statement.
By the end of 2019, TSA is hoping for 145 units to be installed across the country’s airports, which they claim will result in fewer bag checks, allowing passengers to leave laptops and liquids in their carry-on bags.
Why the liquid ban was enforced In 2006, a “liquid bomb plot” in the UK was foiled by aviation intelligence units. The terrorists planned to disguise components needed to create a liquid bomb, such as hydrogen peroxide in soft drinks bottles.
Once onboard, the chemicals would have been mixed to create the deadly concoction, creating a blast that could have killed more people than 9/11.
Liquid restrictions literally changed overnight. On Aug 10, 2006, airline executives were phoned and informed of new transatlantic flight rules meant only one wallet or purse could be carried as hand luggage. Even pens were banned.
Slowly the restrictions were relaxed to the “3-1-1” rule which states each passenger is entitled to bring 100ml (3.4 oz) containers of liquids in their carry-on bag if they’re sealed in a clear plastic bag.
#INDUSTRY NEWS
Japan’s airlines have rolled out this new security check The new CT scanners won’t affect this rule, but it will mean flyers won’t have to faff around taking their liquids out of their bags at security.
This new technology is yet to be introduced to Asia-based airports but don’t forget, Singapore, South Korea, and Japan are all home to the world’s top-ranked airports.
We suspect it won’t be long until passengers flying through Asian airports can keep their laptops and liquids safe and sound in their bags.
The post You’ll soon hear “leave liquids in your bag” at airport security appeared first on Travel Wire Asia.

Would you ride an elephant? This is why you shouldn’t

Posted by - July 27, 2018

PERHAPS this is news to many but being able to ride an elephant means the creature has been tortured. So why do it?
In a recent Twitter poll conducted by Travel Wire Asia, the majority 57 percent of respondents said they wouldn’t ride an elephant.
The remaining 43 percent, however, said they would definitely ride one (36 percent) or were unsure (7 percent).
#DESTINATIONS
Could the landscape of elephant tourism be changing? Whether an elephant is poached from the wild or bred into captivity for entertainment, it suffers a huge amount of pain at the hands of uneducated riders and cruel keepers.
There are arguments that say “if we can ride horses, why can’t we ride elephants?”, but the reality is that it’s not so much the riding that’s the issue. Rather it is how the creatures, born into the wild, were tamed into docility.
While elephant’s spines aren’t equipped to carry humans which causes irreversible damage, the real suffering for these beautiful creatures comes from the Phajaan process, also known as “crushing”.
A post shared by (@fairyanimals.vegan) on Jan 21, 2018 at 5:03am PST
The process originates from India and Southeast Asia. It entails the “trainer” separating an elephant’s body and spirit using barbaric methods.
Elephants are highly intelligent creatures that form tightknit family bonds. But as part of the “crushing” process, baby elephants are torn from their mothers and thrown in a tiny cage or hole in the ground, with their limbs and head tethered together to prevent movement.
Then the beatings, burnings, starvation and stabbings begin. The elephant will suffer this torture for days or weeks until it’s docile enough to ride.
Often though, gleeful travelers are unaware of these barbarous acts and willingly clamber on top of an elephant for an “authentic experience” or to get a few extra likes on their Instagram picture.
But even Instagram knows that riding elephants is cruel. If someone uploads or searchers for #elephantride(s), Instagram presents this message:
Source: Travel Wire Asia
However, in Thailand, where elephant tourism is more prolific than any other Asian nation, the government only passed its first national animal welfare legislation in 2014.
While it defines cruelty as “an act or a failure to act which causes an animal to suffer, physically or mentally, or causes an animal to suffer from pain, illness, infirm, or may cause death to such animal”, no punishment is enforced upon those who inflict “crushing” on elephants.
#WILDLIFE
Report: Bali has no cruelty-free wildlife tourist attractions The suffering doesn’t stop after “crushing” either; it’s merely the beginning.
Throughout the animal’s life, it is deprived of social interactions with other elephants, causing painful distress. The elephant trainers – also known as “mahouts” – inflict immeasurable pain on the elephants, on a daily basis.
Mahouts stab an elephant’s most sensitive body parts such as the inner ear, top of the head and mouth with a sharp metal bullhook to keep control of them.
The sound of an elephant screaming in pain as the hook is driven into them is deafening and heart-wrenching. As Culture Trip Travel Editor Nikki Vargas recalls, “it’s an unforgettable sound dripping with pain. The animal’s cries are so poignant, so heartbreaking that it brings tears to my eyes.”
But even these cries and the sight of hooks being whacked into an elephant don’t stop people from paying for rides.
A post shared by Julian Spiteri (@julianspiteri.96) on Jul 17, 2018 at 4:20am PDT
In 2014, World Animal Protection (WAP) commissioned a survey among tourists of the top 10 nationalities traveling to Thailand in order to gauge the demand for elephant rides.
The results showed 36 percent of respondents had been or were looking to have an elephant ride.
WAP repeated this survey in 2016 and found then that demand for rides had increased to 40 percent.
The report also revealed that Thailand uses roughly twice the number of elephants in entertainment than all other countries combined.
But, of the 220 venues and 3,000 elephants WAP inspected across Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and Sri Lanka, only 200 elephants were living in acceptable captive conditions.
Unsurprisingly, these were the ones not forced to interact with humans or take part in rides, bathing activities or other tricks purely for entertainment purposes.
A post shared by GO THAILAND LUXURY (@gothailandluxury) on Jun 9, 2018 at 10:10pm PDT
The situation for elephants in Indonesia isn’t any better either. The title of WAP’s recent Animal Abusement Park report says it all for the conditions which captive animals are kept in in Bali, Lombok and Gili Trawangan, Indonesia.
The report’s investigation observed more than 1,500 captive wild animals across 26 venues. As well as elephants, turtles, dolphins, orangutans, and civets were also found to be living in stressful and harmful conditions in extreme restraint through chains and with no access to veterinary care.
The study found 100 percent of the venues offered elephant rides using wooden or steel seats. The report points out, “there were no venues with solely offered bareback rides, which are often less physically demanding for the elephants.”
This sentiment is argued by those who believe riding elephants is a safe and harmless practice, as a Facebook interaction in the comments section of a previous Travel Wire Asia article proves.
In response to the “Wildlife, not entertainers: 10 cruel mistakes you could be making as travelers” article, Facebook user DG McCracken tagged his friend Leanne Snodgrass and said, “you were caught riding that elephant tut tut.”
Snodgrass responded with, “bareback David is not the same.”
While it may be less strenuous for the elephant, the “saddle off” experience is merely a disguise for tour companies to appear cruelty-free and make more money.
The bottom line remains clear: don’t ride elephants.
But perhaps this is easier said than done for those who have a longing to experience riding atop of these iconic animals as reputable and trusted tour agencies and travel brands still promote elephant rides.
Despite Tripadvisor ending all ticket sales for activities that involve animal interaction early last year, many other big-name platforms still sell tickets.
This promotion by high-profile and influential brands normalizes the ill-treatment of captive animals.
Source: Shutterstock
Many tourists argue their money supports local tourism, mahouts and their families.
The minimum cost of looking after one elephant in Thailand is THB1,000 (US$28) per day.
However, it’s just as profitable for the mahout and a lot less painful for the elephants if the venue were to charge tourists the same amount to admire these graceful creatures from a distance.
This is a discipline some venues in Thailand are beginning to grasp. They are often called “rescue centers” or “sanctuaries” and only allow visitors minimal or no interaction with the elephants.
One of these centers is The Happy Elephant Home in Chiang Mai. Earlier this year the sanctuary for rescued elephants agreed with WAP to transition into a genuinely elephant-friendly venue.
This means ending all human interaction with elephants by the beginning of 2019.
Sustainable travel operators such as Khiri Reach are also making moves to ensure the venues they promote are ethical. Khiri Reach, in particular, is carrying out thorough audits which involve testing elephant dung for a stress hormone.
Source: Shutterstock
Ending all interactions is the only way to ensure tourists, mahouts and elephants are safe.
Because despite the bullhooks and torture captive elephants suffer to keep them in control, their wild instincts sometimes take over, as was the tragic case for Somjai and his mahout, Chai.
In August 2015, a Chinese family boarded a volatile and hormonal male elephant, Somjai. Against the advice of other mahouts, Chai took the family out on an elephant trek but Somjai snapped.
He threw Chai to the ground, trampled him and gored his shoulder and neck before sprinting into the jungle. The family returned unharmed but Chai died from his wounds.
Ultimately, elephants only let humans on their back out of crippling fear of another beating.
Try jumping on an elephant’s back in the wild and you’ll be squished under its foot faster than you can say “an elephant never forgets.”
There is a dark side to elephant tourism that people don’t know about or are choosing to ignore. Don’t be an ignorant traveler, a bystander of animal abuse or a contributor to their suffering.
Boycott elephant entertainment and educates others. There’s no excuse – it’s abuse.
The post Would you ride an elephant? This is why you shouldn’t appeared first on Travel Wire Asia.

These are predicted to be the hottest Asian destinations in 2025

Posted by - July 25, 2018

GLOBALIZATION has been the key to making the world smaller which is a blessing for eager travelers wanting to explore every corner of the globe.
Airlines have made it super simple and relatively cheap to travel. The next aviation milestone is producing the world’s longest flight, with Singapore Airlines hoping to reclaim the title with its 19-hour direct flight from New York to Singapore.
#LUXE
Discover the Maldives’ newest resort The products of globalization have also allowed Londoners to pop over to Paris for dinner, Singaporeans to have a spot of lunch in Malaysia, and Beijingers to attend a meeting in Shanghai and get back home in time for dinner.
Essentially, the world is becoming a much smaller place, which is great for passport stamp collectors.
Global mobility has also lessened cross-border tensions and nationally shared fears of “others” as people are able to experience different cultures from their own firsthand and develop an understanding away from negative media portrayals.
A post shared by Julie Conlon (@the.gypsy.teacher) on Jul 17, 2018 at 8:56am PDT
However, globalization has also led to a trend of overtourism in destinations which don’t have the infrastructure to handle visitor numbers.
This tourism stampede has had devastating effects on destinations once renowned for natural beauty. Famously, the Philippines’ Boracay island was closed earlier this year due to insufficient waste disposal systems.
Maya Bay in Thailand has also experienced shocking environmental damage after flocks of tourists wanted to see the set of Danny Boyle’s hit film, The Beach.
A post shared by jwcho (@jongwook_cho) on Jul 23, 2018 at 3:41pm PDT
Asia Times pointed out “overcrowding and the establishment of typical tourism-focused businesses, such as clubs, bars, and souvenir shops, overwhelm local businesses – and rowdy and unmanageable tourist behavior is common.”
This can create a negative image for a tourist destination and unwittingly attract the “wrong crowd.”
A post shared by The Inertia (@theinertia) on Jul 13, 2018 at 9:11pm PDT
However, with the rate of global tourism increasing by a remarkable average of around five to seven percent every year, overtourism may be part of every destination’s story soon.
The rapid growth of the travel sphere shouldn’t put anyone off from seeking new adventures and exploring new cultures. It is, however, important to be a responsible traveler to avoid offending locals and leaving a footprint that won’t wash away.
Nevertheless, UNWTO World Tourism Barometer discovered Asia-Pacific received 324 million international arrivals in 2017, with Southeast Asia’s visitor intake growing by 10 percent. That’s pretty significant.
#INDUSTRY NEWS
How is Thailand coping with its overload of tourists? UNWTO’s data proves Asia is on the bucket list of most travelers, perhaps even yours. With this increase, there’s a risk of Asia’s most popular destinations experiencing disastrous overtourism before you get to visit.
But thankfully, travel comparison website TravelSupermarket.com has combined UNWTO’s data with trends from Euromonitor International’s Top 100 City Destinations Ranking report and predicted which international cities will be the world’s most popular by 2025.
According to the results, Asia will see the biggest tourism increase as 24 of the 25 top cities are on the “Eastern Land” continent.
Scroll down to discover the current and forecasted visitor numbers of the cities predicted to top traveler’s bucket lists by 2025. Then book your trip before everyone else does.
Jakarta, Indonesia 2017 arrivals: 3,587,500 2025 arrivals: 7,185,900 Percentage increase: 100 A post shared by Jakartacityscape (@jakartacityscape) on Jun 23, 2018 at 11:13pm PDT
Denpasar, Indonesia 2017 arrivals: 6,238,300 2025 arrivals: 12,313,000 Percentage increase: 97 A post shared by infoubungkaja (@infoubungkaja) on Jul 24, 2018 at 12:05am PDT
Jaipur, India 2017 arrivals: 5,088,600 2025 arrivals: 9,550,100 Percentage increase: 88 A post shared by Sweet Udaipur (@sweetudaipur) on Jul 23, 2018 at 5:24am PDT
Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam 2017 arrivals: 5,500,000 2025 arrivals: 10,201,500 Percentage increase: 85 A post shared by Chelsea Espinoza (@travelingchels) on Jul 18, 2018 at 8:05am PDT
Chennai, India 2017 arrivals: 5,186,300 2025 arrivals: 9,589,200 Percentage increase: 85 A post shared by DSLR_Chennai (@dslr_chennai) on May 20, 2018 at 8:07am PDT
Agra, India 2017 arrivals: 6,744,400 2025 arrivals: 12,417,600 Percentage increase: 84 A post shared by Shweta Malhotra (@shweta.malhotra03) on Jul 20, 2018 at 7:44am PDT
Phuket, Thailand 2017 arrivals: 12,079,500 2025 arrivals: 22,119,600 Percentage increase: 83 A post shared by PaTChaRin SuWanMoSi (@gademosi) on Jul 2, 2015 at 6:04am PDT
Delhi, India 2017 arrivals: 10,257,000 2025 arrivals: 18,757,200 Percentage increase: 83 A post shared by theunexploredindia (@theunexploredindia) on Jul 24, 2018 at 1:06am PDT
Phnom Penh, Cambodia 2017 arrivals: 3,016,900 2025 arrivals: 5,435,800 Percentage increase: 80 A post shared by DONATO & GIULIA (@_dgtravel_) on Dec 26, 2017 at 9:01am PST
Siem Reap, Cambodia 2017 arrivals: 2,337,600 2025 arrivals: 4,211,900 Percentage increase: 80 A post shared by GabrielledePollinac (@gabrielledpollignac) on Jul 23, 2018 at 11:19pm PDT
Mumbai, India 2017 arrivals: 8,884,900 2025 arrivals: 15,905,500 Percentage increase: 79 A post shared by #Mumbais_life (@mumbais_life) on Jul 5, 2018 at 3:41am PDT
Kolkata, India 2017 arrivals: 2,550,400 2025 arrivals: 4,559,400 Percentage increase: 79 A post shared by World of Kolkata (@worldofkolkata) on Jun 19, 2018 at 12:58am PDT
Seoul, South Korea 2017 arrivals: 7,659,100 2025 arrivals: 13,229,700 Percentage increase: 73 A post shared by Fubiz (@fubiz) on Jul 23, 2018 at 11:39am PDT
Pattaya, Thailand 2017 arrivals: 7,313,500 2025 arrivals: 12,670,000 Percentage increase: 73 A post shared by PhaMYenVy (@viiiiiis) on Jul 23, 2018 at 11:00pm PDT
Hanoi, Vietneam 2017 arrivals: 4,300,000 2025 arrivals: 7,417,200 Percentage increase: 72 A post shared by Sarah (@sarahturati) on Jul 23, 2018 at 9:01am PDT
Hong Kong 2017 arrivals: 25,695,800 2025 arrivals: 44,058,900 Percentage increase: 71 A post shared by Jordi Nicolas Rubió (@jordinicolasrubio) on May 4, 2018 at 11:32am PDT
Bangkok, Thailand 2017 arrivals: 23,270,600 2025 arrivals: 39,887,700 Percentage increase: 71 A post shared by Travel Photos by Marc Belhomme (@inthenameofphoto) on Jul 23, 2018 at 9:03am PDT
Singapore 2017 arrivals: 17,618,800 2025 arrivals: 30,194,000 Percentage increase: 71 A post shared by melany (@zmelany) on Jul 23, 2018 at 9:41am PDT
Macau, China 2017 arrivals: 16,299,100 2025 arrivals: 27,907,800 Percentage increase: 71 A post shared by Andi (@xxiamandixx) on Jul 22, 2018 at 9:44pm PDT
#DESTINATIONS
Why is Phuket suffering thousands of hotel cancellations? Jeju, South Korea 2017 arrivals: 2,429,400 2025 arrivals: 4,165,100 Percentage increase: 71 A post shared by Hatice Korkmaz THE COLOR QUEEN (@kardinalmelon) on Jul 21, 2018 at 11:06am PDT
Johor Bahru, Malaysia 2017 arrivals: 5,571,400 2025 arrivals: 9,360,900 Percentage increase: 68 A post shared by Kenneth (@kennethppa) on Jul 23, 2018 at 11:49pm PDT
Dubai, United Arab Emirates 2017 arrivals: 16,010,000 2025 arrivals: 26,787,800 Percentage increase: 67 A post shared by D U B A I L I F E S T Y L E (@guy.last.recruitment) on Jul 23, 2018 at 9:34am PDT
Ha Long Bay, Vietnam 2017 arrivals: 4,000,000 2025 arrivals: 6,663,600 Percentage increase: 67 A post shared by #nails&make-up (@alexandraelenabalanuca) on Jul 23, 2018 at 2:02pm PDT
Colombo, Sri Lanka 2017 arrivals: 2,206,000 2025 arrivals: 3,674,900 Percentage increase: 67 A post shared by Pursoth (@pursoth.nathan) on Jul 19, 2018 at 10:53pm PDT
The post These are predicted to be the hottest Asian destinations in 2025 appeared first on Travel Wire Asia.

Garuda Indonesia gives back to the less fortunate

Posted by - June 15, 2018

INDONESIA’S national flag carrier, Garuda Indonesia, has launched a program dedicated to helping disadvantaged people.
The airline’s umrah program allows GarudaMiles members to contribute toward a fund for those who want to go the umrah trip, but are unable to afford it.
#AIRLINES
Would you fly on a windowless plane? The umrah is a religious Muslim pilgrimage made every year to Mecca (also known as Makkah) in Saudi Arabia.
While umrah is less expensive and time-consuming than haj, which is the major Islamic pilgrimage, it still comes at a price.
With flights, visas, accommodation, and spending money to consider, the trip can easily cost in excess of US$2,000.
But with Garuda Indonesia’s new “Sedekah Umrah” (Umrah Donations) program up and running, more people should be able to embark on this life-altering journey.
A post shared by ummatourrussia (@ummatourrussia) on Jun 14, 2018 at 1:37am PDT
The program has the support of the Religious Affairs Ministry and the Haj and Umrah Providers Association who were responsible for setting up the inclusive travel package.
The airline’s domestic commerce director Nina Sulistyowati and the Religious Affairs Ministry’s secretary-general Nur Syam in Jakarta signed the agreement last Friday.
Sulistyowati said the idea for the program was presented back in April at the Indonesia Travel Fair.
#ENVIRONMENT
Malaysia plans to develop Sabah for tourism, but is it ready? The launch of the program coincides with the Ramadhan festival in the Islamic calendar.
The holy Ramadhan month is one of the five pillars of Islam and is a time when more fortunate people give to those who are disadvantaged.
With this in mind, Garuda Indonesia and the Religious Affairs Ministry hope flyers with bundles of air miles will donate in the thousands.
For every 80,000 collected, one person will be afforded the opportunity to embark on umrah.
A post shared by 1Creek |Travel |Life Hacks | (@1creeknation) on Jun 13, 2018 at 8:35pm PDT
According to Sulistyowati, the equivalent of one umrah package has already been donated but Garuda Indonesia is hoping for 99 more.
The post Garuda Indonesia gives back to the less fortunate appeared first on Travel Wire Asia.

Here’s your guide to Asia’s best in-flight meals

Posted by - June 14, 2018

THE late, great travel legend and culinary master Anthony Bourdain once told Bon Appetit, “No one has ever felt better after eating plane food. I think people only eat it because they’re bored. I don’t eat on planes. I like to arrive hungry.”
This sentiment was echoed by the infamous 2008 e-mail sent to Virgin Atlantic boss Richard Branson by a passenger describing his experience as a culinary “journey from hell.”
The passenger, Oliver Beal, then went on to describe his in-flight meal as a “crime against bloody cooking.”
#TRAVEL HACKS
8 savvy weight-saving secrets of packing We get it.
In-flight meals have had a bad rep since time immemorial. They are often packed with sodium for flavoring and contains every shade of beige. For passengers flying economy, this is a dinnertime fate they will have swallow.
But in business and first class, the story gets a whole lot more colorful. And a new partnership between Mandarin Oriental, Taipei hotel and Thai Airways perfectly illustrates this.
Chefs from the five-star hotel will be preparing Michelin-starred meals for business class passengers between June 1 and Aug 31, 2018, on the Taipei to Bangkok route.
The dishes will use fresh ingredients, inspired by French, Italian, Southeast Asian and progressive American fare.
A post shared by Thai Airways (@thaiairways) on Mar 5, 2018 at 3:47am PST
We wouldn’t be surprised if a few sneaky economy class opportunists “accidentally” wander towards the front of the plane around supper time.
The new collaboration only earns Thai Airways another star on its already glowing onboard meal report.
“The food on Thai Airways flights tend to be very good, especially if it’s Asian food, which I think works great for an airline,” chef and television presenter Ken Hom told Telegraph Travel.
And Thai Airways isn’t alone. Airlines across the globe have drafted in celebrity chefs to advise them on in-flight menus, and true to style, they have delivered.
Here are five of Asia’s best business and first class airlines based on the in-flight meals:
Singapore Airlines A post shared by Lewis (@lewisl40) on Apr 21, 2018 at 10:00am PDT
Singapore Airlines’ culinary panel includes Alfred Portal, Carlo Cracco, Mathew Moran, and Suzanna Goin – all award-winning chefs.
The airline is renowned for its “Book the Cook” service which lets those in business and first class chose from a premium selection of dishes created by the culinary panel at least 24 hours before take off.
Qatar Airways A post shared by J A M E S L I U (@cateringnotassured) on Sep 30, 2017 at 1:11am PDT
“The new age of airline dining revolves around you,” Qatar Airways announced on its website.
The airliner roped in four of the world’s best chefs – Nobu Matsuhisa, Tom Aikens, Ramzi Choueiri, and Vineet Bhatia – who spent months designing the tantalizing menu.
With delights such as pumpkin and ricotta ravioli, spicy seafood soup and chicken shawarma bites, a flavor from every corner of the world has been included in the menu.
Cathay Pacific A post shared by Apple Wong (@imapplewong) on Mar 4, 2018 at 2:39am PST
Hong Kong’s flag carrier airline, Cathay Pacific, was the first commercial airliner to have rice cookers, skillets, and toasters on board.
This enables the cabin crew to prepare fresh rice and cook eggs to a flyer’s liking. But this was merely the beginning of Cathay Pacific’s culinary journey.
With the help of a talented culinary team, the airline put together a Western and Asian-inspired menu including dishes such as Angus beef steak, Peking duck, lamb chops, wok fried prawns and a fine selection of cheeses.
Check out the sample menu here.
#AIRLINES
Do you know which pharmaceuticals are banned in Asia? Air New Zealand A post shared by Andrew Aleman (@amaralandrew) on May 27, 2017 at 1:23pm PDT
The business premium menu was created by two of New Zealand’s most celebrated chefs, Michael Meridith and Peter Gordon.
It features regional delights such as kiwi fruits, honey, lamb, sweet potato and of course seafood.
One of the most notable mains has to be the salmon dusted with New Zealand lemon kelp and sesame, shiitake, and spring onion rice with steamed baby bok choy.
Emirates A post shared by Sascha Marx (@sascha63456) on Sep 29, 2017 at 12:30pm PDT
Those in first class can order room service to their enclosed suites on some Emirates flights.
Each course in first class has been specifically picked for your flight and is served on Royal Doulton fine china.
Along with the wines on board, the meals reflect your destination and always showcase incredible flavors.
Whether it’s caviar, prime beef or lamb noisettes, Emirates promises to rival some of the world’s top restaurants with its onboard menu.
Flyers can see what’s on offer before departure via Emirates’ website.
The post Here’s your guide to Asia’s best in-flight meals appeared first on Travel Wire Asia.

Philippines expect high tourism numbers despite Boracay closure

Posted by - June 11, 2018

SOUTH KOREAN Ambassador to the Philippines, Han Dong-man, remains optimistic for high tourism numbers to the archipelagic nation, despite the closure of its holiday island Boracay.
In late April, armed forces were brought into to shuttle remaining tourists off the once pristine shores of Boracay.
Rapid development and over-tourism on the island were not matched with investment in tourism infrastructure, and authorities have taken drastic action.
#WILDLIFE
Why it’s a bad idea to swim with whale sharks in Cebu Now, just over a month into the restoration project, Han has vowed to work to attract more than two million visitors to the nation with a major infrastructure boost.
“I promised him to bring two million tourists to the Philippines every year and increase tourist receipts from US$15 billion to US$20 billion,” Han said at the groundbreaking of Samar Pacific Coastal Road.
Boracay was a popular destination among South Koreans. In 2017, they were the second most frequent nation to visit the island after Chinese tourists.
In total South Koreans accounted for 1.6 million of the 6.6 million tourists the Philippines received last year.
A post shared by Jetsetters Guide To Travel (@jetsettersguidetotravel) on Jun 10, 2018 at 1:55am PDT
Han is not alone in his aim for increased tourism to the nation.
The Department of Tourism (DOT), headed by Bernadette Romulo-Puyat is aiming to welcome 7.4 million arrivals in 2018.
According to Travel Weekly Asia, Romulo-Puyat is focusing the department’s efforts of promoting other beautiful islands such as Cebu, Bohol, and Siargao.
Last month Romulo-Puyat also told the Commission on Appointments she will “prioritize improving policies on access, connectivity, and security as well as enhance programs on tourism infrastructure.”
#DESTINATIONS
The Philippines is getting Muslim-friendly Currently, some governments, including the UK and US, have issued warnings on travel to the Phillippines.
They urge foreign visitors to exercise increased caution due to crime, terrorism, civil unrest, and a recent measles outbreak.
However, these warnings haven’t deterred Han’s optimistic spirit. “Every time I meet Korean businessmen I always tell them to invest, invest, invest in the Philippines to support President Duterte’s Build! Build! Build! Program,” he added.
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What does Japan’s new vacation rental law mean for travelers?

Posted by - June 11, 2018

AS Japan clamps down on private lodging services across the country, accommodation vendors such as Airbnb are acting quickly to avoid costly penalties.
From June 15, Japan will enforce a new law for minpaku (private lodging services). The law aims to provide the vacation rental industry with a clear legal framework.
#HOTELS
Take a look inside the Trump-Kim Summit hotel If rental companies do not adhere to the new rules, they could pay more than US$9,000 (JPY1 million) in fines.
The minpaku law will apply to every rental opportunity from single bedrooms to entier houses, most of which currently straddle a grey area of undefined rental law.
But the minpuka law is about to make this clear for all.
What does the new law state? A post shared by Edward Hsieh (@edamameedward) on May 23, 2018 at 9:23pm PDT
By June 16, all rental properties must be registered with the local government. In light of this looming regulation, one of the major players in the rental market, Airbnb recently unlisted 48,200 of its unregistered properties.
Additionally, landlords can only rent properties for a maximum 180 days per year, and local governments can enforce further restrictions, such as stipulating days or weeks of the year when owners can’t rent properties.
Also, every rental must display its registration number on the outside of the property and take measures to prevent noise, garbage, and fire problems.
Landlords must also make an effort to provide overseas tourists with information about facility access and emergency escape plans in foreign languages.
Lastly, the new law has done away with the minimum two-night stay rule but states a management company must be employed to look after the property if owners do not live onsite.
A post shared by arbol (@arbol_architect) on Jun 8, 2018 at 3:02am PDT
Earlier this month, Airbnb issued a warning to its Japanese property owners, stating it would not list rentals until they could prove their registration.
Minpuka law aims to protect neighborhoods and ensure guests are safe.
But until property owners are officially registered and adhere to all the aspects of the regulation, travelers might find themselves with limited options.
#HOTELS
Marriott has big plans for Sheraton brand However, as Japan sees a tourism boom ahead of the 2020 Olympics, the government is investing in accommodation infrastructure to cater for increased tourist numbers.
Earlier this year The Japan Times reported the Organization for Promoting Urban Development would be revising its financing rules to loan hotel developers up to 50 percent of hotel construction costs.
With brand new hotels and registered rentals on the horizon, travelers won’t have to wait long for secure and legal stays. But in the meantime, here are two accommodation booking platforms for those off to explore the Land of the Rising Sun.
Japan Experience A post shared by @japan_experience on Jan 24, 2016 at 2:51am PST
Japan Experience is a tour operator providing accommodation, tours, transport, and real information about the country from those who know it well.
It has traditional and contemporary properties in Kyoto, Tokyo, Kanazawa, and Takayama and offers “Tour Angels” to assist you when you arrive in a new city.
Whether it’s one night or a month-long stay, Japan Experience offer hard-to-beat rates in excellent locations.
Beyond resting your head, Japan Experience gives travelers in-depth tours, either self-guided or expert-led.
Just a glance at the website will reveal how well it knows the country and provide a wealth of information for traveling families, couples, friends and solos.
Rakuten Travel A post shared by 楽天トラベル (@rakutentravel) on Feb 15, 2018 at 12:45am PST
Booking with Rakuten Travel makes you part of something bigger than the accommodation industry.
Rakuten is an innovative e-commerce platform that knows a thing or two about offering competitive hotel rates.
It has 31,000 hotels and ryokans (traditional Japanese inns) on its books and constantly offers exciting deals.
The post What does Japan’s new vacation rental law mean for travelers? appeared first on Travel Wire Asia.

Marriott has big plans for Sheraton brand

Posted by - June 8, 2018

MARRIOT INTERNATIONAL will be giving a whole new meaning to the phrase ‘home away from home’ for vacationers staying at one of its largest hotel brands: Sheraton Hotels and Resorts.
At the NYU International Hospitality Industry Investment Conference earlier this week, the hospitality giant said its US owners and investors would be pumping US$500 million into a plan to transform all 515 Sheraton hotels around the world.
The focus, said a release on the announcement, will be on guest experience, hotel operations, and design philosophy.
#REWARDS
Rewards galore: Asia’s best SME hotel programs “From the moment we closed the Starwood merger in late 2016, the revitalization of Sheraton has been a top priority for our company,” Marriott International president and CEO Arne Sorenson said in the release.
Marriott hasn’t wasted any time getting to work on revamping the struggling 81-year-old Sheraton brand, with renovations already ongoing at 25 percent of Sheraton hotels worldwide.
What’s the new look? Marriott International is centering the renovations on combining Sheraton’s rich legacy with a focus on being at the heart of the community.
New designs will establish the hotel beyond a luxury brand and enable socialization, productivity, and personalization for all guests.
For example, the hotel lobbies will resemble a town square feel: plenty going on but with a friendly neighborhood vibe.
The seating and desks will be communal with integrated lockable drawers for when nature calls or a coffee break beckons.
Smaller meeting rooms called “collaboration suites” can also be hired via Marriott’s app.
An original sketch for the future lobbies in Sheraton hotels. Source: Marriott International
Guestrooms are being given a contemporary makeover with height-adjustable desks, USB points, and insulated walls to reduce sound transmission.
“We kept most of the furniture simple, elegant and especially comfortable,” Lionel Sussman, vice president of global design strategies for Marriott told KiiiTV.com.
The new bathrooms will be larger with a six-foot shower and vanity mirror with adjustable LED lighting.
A post shared by Sheraton Hotels & Resorts (@sheratonhotels) on Jun 3, 2018 at 3:23pm PDT
A new dining concept is also being introduced to the Sheraton brand with the convenient and chic “Coffee bar bar” for those who want tasty food without the fuss.
The eatery doubles up as a coffee shop and an alcoholic beverage bar, hence “bar bar.”
#BUSINESS
Clock in to the coolest co-working spaces in Singapore “With our Sheraton transformation plan, we’ve put together all of the pieces of the equation to work cooperatively with our owners to set this iconic brand on a new, disciplined and successful path,” Sorenson added.
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