Wendy Wu Tours’ new 2024-2025 Japan brochure is available now.
The edition has a choice of 14 different tours in Japan plus tours operated by the company to neighbouring destinations Taiwan and South Korea.
World Journeys has launched its latest small group hosted journey (maximum 18 guests), exploring the five ‘Stans’ of Central Asia – Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan.
Well known niche wholesaler Active Asia is ramping up its operations again as the region increasingly opens up to international visitors.
Travel agents can be confident that repeat visitors, along with those new to the destination, will find Vietnam easier than ever to explore, says Exotic Holidays managing director Rahul Sharma.
He says new motorways and other transport infrastructure have taken hours, sometimes up to 50%, off travel times.
Singapore Tourism Board (STB) has unveiled Made in Singapore, its latest global campaign.
It puts a fresh spin on the Passion Made Possible destination brand, and spotlights quintessentially Singapore experiences, while showcasing how ordinary moments can be turned into extraordinary experiences in Singapore.
Japan National Tourism Organization (JNTO) is developing a new e-learning programme for the trade, the audience at the Japan roadshow event in Auckland heard last week.
Sally Miles, business development and marketing manager JNTO Sydney Office, says the existing programme closed earlier this year.
Eastern & Oriental Express, a Belmond Train, is set to return to operation in February 2024, after ceasing services during the pandemic.
Two new four-day routes will operate as round trips out of Singapore.
World Journeys is offering the trip and off-train experiences in its new Wild Malaysia itinerary, which operates from March through to October.
From Singapore the train heads north through jungle to Taman Negara National Park which is home to wildlife including the endangered Malayan tiger.
Heading up the West-Coast Line to Penang, guests can access a variety of excursions in George Town. The train then travels to the southernmost state of Johor, crossing the strait back to Singapore.
All overnights are aboard the train in cabins ranging from the Pullman and State Cabins to the Presidential Suite.
The Dining Car offers a menu of traditional Peranakan dishes with a modern twist, the Observation Car is the place to enjoy a cocktail as the scenery passes by, and the Piano Bar is the social hub, with a variety of evening entertainment.
Priced from US$3,410* per person share twin in a Pullman Cabin, it includes all gourmet meals and beverages (including champagne if in a Presidential Suite), guided excursions, 24-hour steward service and transfers from the check-in venue to the train.
As Belmond operate dynamic pricing, the price may only be confirmed at the time of booking.
Centara Hotels & Resorts is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year.
Over the past four decades, Centara has grown from a single hotel in 1983, its flagship Centara Grand at Central Plaza Ladprao Bangkok, to a global hospitality brand with 93 properties across Asia and the Middle East.
Changi Airport Group (CAG), Singapore Airlines (SIA), and the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) have re-launched the Free Singapore Tour after a two-year hiatus.
Three existing tours – the City Sights Tour, Heritage Tour and Jewel Tour – have been refreshed to include new points of interest. A new Changi Precinct Tour will introduce travellers to the interesting sights and sounds of the eastern region surrounding Singapore Changi Airport.
New attractions, hotels and other reasons to make a repeat or first time visit were accentuated by a Singapore Tourism Board delegation that visited Auckland earlier this week.
Oliver Chong, executive director Oceania for STB, told the gathering at Rydges Auckland that 57,000 New Zealanders visited Singapore in 2022. This was 37% of 2019 but recent anecdotal evidence indicates that it is continuing to increase.
Singapore’s international visitor arrivals reached 6.3 million in 2022 exceeding STB’s forecast of between 4 and 6 million visitors.
Tourism receipts are estimated to reach S$13.8 to S$14.3 billion (-50 per cent to 52 per cent of 2019 TR). Barring unexpected circumstances, tourism activity is now expected to recover to pre-pandemic levels by 2024.
Trafalgar, Contiki and Luxury Gold have seen increased demand from New Zealanders looking to travel to Japan following further relaxation of rules and travel restrictions there.
Contiki’s itineraries range from a week-long adventure visiting the country’s largest cities on a whirlwind journey with the Japan In A Week tour to the Japan Unrivalled tour, a 13-day itinerary visiting Tokyo, Hiroshima, Osaka and Kyoto, along with a stay in a traditional Buddhist guesthouse.
The Korea Tourism Organization (KTO) sees big potential from the New Zealand market as the country opens up and air connections increase. The destination is also promoting new attractions and the return of various stopover programmes and package tours next year after they had been halted by the Covid pandemic.
Centara Grand Mirage Beach Resort Pattaya has launched The Lost World Adventure Land.
Guests can navigate their way across a choice of two obstacle courses in the SkyTrail.
Acquired by Outrigger in July 2021, Outrigger Koh Samui Beach Resort on the beachfront of Lamai Beach, has been renovated.
It has opened with 44 premium category rooms, a redesigned main lobby area, and refreshed leisure and fitness facilities.
Travel trade partners are invited to a night of Malaysian hospitality on Monday 29 August in Cordis Hotel Auckland from 5.30 to 9pm.
Hosted by Tourism Malaysia, the evening will give agents and brokers the chance to reconnect with the destination and meet the organisation’s new deputy director Noorazrin Abdullah who recently joined the Auckland team.
Viking Saigon has begun its inaugural season in Southeast Asia.
Purpose-built for the Mekong River, the 80-guest ship sails between Kampong Cham, Cambodia and Mỹ Tho, Vietnam on Viking’s 15-day Magnificent Mekong itinerary. With the 2022-2023 season now underway, regular sailing dates are available through March 2023; the 2023-2024 season begins in July 2023.
Andamanda Phuket is a new multi-million-dollar water park and leisure complex that includes Thai mythology and legend, while allowing all ages to take part in aquatic activities.
Positioned in the up-and-coming Kathu district of Phuket, between Phuket Town and Patong Beach, the US$134m attraction marks the latest venture by Thailand developer Proud Group.
Wendy Wu Tours has released a VIP edition of one of its most popular itineraries – Classic Mekong, featuring Cambodia & Vietnam.
The tour starts amongst the temples of Angkor before guests join Wendy Wu (company owner and founder) on a three-night river cruise down the Mekong on the Victoria Mekong cruise ship, with shore excursions designed to provide an authentic glimpse of local life.
Wendy Wu Tours will be one of the first companies with tour groups allowed back into Japan.
Wendy Wu, founder of Wendy Wu Tours says that with passengers unable to travel to Japan for so long, people have missed out on the Japan spring cherry blossom festival and the autumn foliage colours.
Island destinations, short lead in times and a move towards more private, stand alone accommodation are all characterising bookings out of New Zealand to Asia now, says Rahul Sharma, managing director of Exotic Holidays.
‘Thailand has been the biggest gainer because it opened up months ago and has been selling for the longest duration.
Club Med has announced the reopening of Club Med Bali from 28 May, featuring a new repertoire of activities and programmes.
It will include new entertainment line-up, including a digital Colours Show, Magic Tribe show and Nomad Festival-themed day.
Wendy Wu Tours has launched a ‘Partner Flies Free or 50% off the single supplement offer’ on a range of popular tours. Clients can save up to $1,490 per couple on the partner flies free deal and up to $1,540 with the single supplement.
Managing director Paul Dymond points out there are over 20 tours and over 120 departure dates included in the offer across Japan, Vietnam, Cambodia, India and Sri Lanka tours. Tours are available for travel in 2022 and 2023.
India continues to have the largest share of inbound travellers to the APAC region, at 24.4% of total arrivals in Q1 as of 11 March, according to data from analytics company Forwardkeys.
ForwardKeys’ VP of insights, Olivier Ponti pointed out at ITB India that this is ‘not a bad result’ when considering air ticketing data shows that international arrivals in APAC in Q1 was down by 86%.
Japan National Tourism Organization (JNTO) has re-appointed Julie King & Associates (JKA) as its representative in the New Zealand market for the fourth consecutive year.
In conjunction with this, Alita Holdaway has been appointed as the incoming country manager - New Zealand. Holdaway, who started this week, was previously business development manager – Auckland for Wendy Wu Tours and has spent five years as an international Flight Centre consultant. She is based in Auckland and has a national responsibility for managing all travel trade partner relationships, training, supporting media requirements and participating in B2B and B2C events.
In March 2022, following two years of extensive restoration, the Kingdom of Bhutan will reopen the historic and sacred Trans Bhutan Trail for the first time in 60 years. The trail will be officially inaugurated by His Majesty the King of Bhutan, whose vision it was to restore the ancient route for tourism, adventure and connection. From April 2022, international tourists will be able to walk the trail for the first time, simultaneously providing economic benefits to rural communities along the way.
New Zealand-based Mark Snoxell from Exposure Downunder has been appointed CEO of The Travel Concierge Sri Lanka. Managing director, Laahiru Jayamanne, says Snoxell has been instrumental in driving The Travel Concierge to be future ready, weathering the tough times of the pandemic, and enabling the company to drive tangible digital and sustainable projects. Snoxell says it is great timing with Sri Lanka being a perfect destination for Antipodeans ready to blow the dust off their passports.
Slojourn Studio has welcomed Resplendent Ceylon’s three properties – Cape Weligama, Ceylon Tea Trails, and Wild Coast Lodge – to its portfolio of travel clients.
Slojourn will oversee the group’s sales, marketing and representation in New Zealand and Australia. Sri Lanka has opened its borders to international travellers who are able to prove they have been vaccinated at least 14 days before arrival and can produce a negative Covid-19 PCR report within 72 hours of embarkation.
The Kyushu Tourism Promotion Organisation has put together an Introduction to Kyushu webinar.
Agents can familiarise themselves with some of the key destinations across the region – from the volcanic peaks of Mt Aso and Sakurajima to the seven bubbling hot spring ‘hells’ of Beppu. The webinar also provides key information on how best to access Kyushu from gateway cities of Osaka and Tokyo, and outlines some recommended itineraries to help sell the destination.
Scenic has a new nine-night river cruise on the Mekong River and new Scenic Freechoice experiences, with the release of its new 2022 and 2023 South East Asia itineraries.
Adam Burke, Scenic journey designer, says while the locations guests explore onshore are similar to the seven-night cruise, they will see a greater diversity of the riverside landscape. ‘Scenic Spirit sails in the afternoon with more time to absorb the essence of Vietnam and Cambodia, and additional time to relax on board.’
Japan National Tourism Organization (JNTO) will launch its 2021 virtual roadshow in November.
It will consist of two virtual events, connecting agents and wholesalers with local suppliers to better equip them with the tools to sell Japan, once international travel resumes.
Moves are afoot within Cambodia’s tourism industry to work towards a possible reopening of borders for fully vaccinated international travellers by November this year.
The Cambodian tourism ministry recently announced that fully vaccinated international tourists with proof of their inoculation could be allowed into Cambodia as soon as November 2021.
Cambodia is also considering lessening or removing the 14-day quarantine policy for fully vaccinated tourists, barring certification showing a negative Covid test 72 hours before travel and another negative Covid test upon arrival at Phnom Penh International Airport.
Singapore looks set to reopen its borders to allow in vaccinated tourists from destinations that include Hong Kong, Macao, Germany and Brunei.
Residents travelling from the listed countries will be able to enter Singapore from 8 September without needing to enter quarantine. They will be able to bypass the isolation requirement if they test negative to four Covid-19 tests.
The testing requirements for the new travel lanes mean each person will require a pre-departure test within 48 hours of their scheduled flight, an on-arrival test at Changi Airport, and post-arrival tests on days three and seven at a designated clinic in Singapore.
Wendy Wu Tours has a new 2022-23 Japan interactive digital brochure, also featuring Taiwan and South Korea.
It features the operator’s range of fully inclusive group tours including its Classic range covering the essential highlights of Japan as well specialised itineraries. Also featured are immersive Go Beyond tours and dedicated solo departures on popular itineraries with additional inclusions such as free chauffeur transfers and airport lounge passes (selected cities).
Malaysia Airlines & Tourism Malaysia launched a new module for the Malaysia Travel Expert Programme this week.
Ethnic Heritage of Malaysia will enable agents to learn about the indigenous people or ethnic groups of Sabah and Sarawak plus the aboriginal people of Peninsular Malaysia.
The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) reports the Royal Thai Government has endorsed issuing a Covid-19 vaccination certificate in the kingdom, while approving shorter quarantine periods for international arrivals. Both measures took place late last week until further notice.
Tourism Authority of Thailand is launching five new modules and quizes with incentives for agents who pariticipate – they can win return flight tickets to Thailand.
Agents must complete all five new modules and the interactive quizzes before 18 June 2021 to qualify.
The 2021 Amazing Thailand Specialist programme is designed for agents to refresh their destination knowledge, get inspired and help create their clients’ dream trip.
Agents with clients who are thinking of travelling to popular Asian destinations in 2022 should be aware that a number of tours are already starting to sell out, says Paul Dymond, New Zealand based managing director of Wendy Wu Tours.
The company has just launched a Year of the Ox festival sale, with savings of up to $2400 per couple on itineraries in Japan and other destinations in 2022. The tours can be secured with a $99 deposit per person, with no more to pay before departure and a number of other flexible features.
Japan National Tourism Organization (JNTO) has launched the ‘Best Uniquely Japanese Experience’ incentive and invites the travel trade to share their special Japanese experience, or their dream Japanese experience, to win an exclusive dinner evening in Auckland.
Examples could be, but are not limited to, dining with a geisha, learning how to craft a samurai sword, sampling Japanese street food or regional cuisine, visiting a sake brewery, island hopping, wandering the pilgrimage trails and ancient temples, attending a music festival, or visiting a garden in full spring bloom.
Travel agents and brokers have the opportunity to learn about Oita, the ‘hottest place’ in Kyushu, Japan, this month. They also have the chance to win a wide variety of prizes, such as traditional pottery, gift cards and more.
On 17 February, JTB will take agents on an hour long ‘webinar adventure’ to Oita and show them a different Japan to the one they know already.
Japan National Tourism Organization (JNTO) has launched a NZ Travel Trade Private Community Group page .
The Facebook page will keep the trade informed and supported with information, resources, incentives and competitions. The aim is to assist the travel trade to be better equipped to promote and sell Japan as a destination.
Thai Airways’ scheduled flights between New Zealand and Thailand have been suspended until further notice. Flights will be subject to the adjustment of Government policies to reopen the borders for unrestricted international travel. Passengers with flights cancelled by THAI are entitled to claim an extended travel validity until December 2022.
In co-operation with the Royal Thai Embassy, Wellington and Thai Consulate General, THAI will continue to operate repatriation flights from Auckland to Bangkok for both Thai passport holders and non-Thai passport holders permitted to enter Thailand.
Taiwan’s continued success in controlling Covid-19 is a reminder that New Zealand’s ‘travel bubble’ plans should not be restricted to Australia and the Pacific, a number of trade sources point out.
Paul Dymond, managing director of Wendy Wu Tours in New Zealand says the Taiwanese seem to have successfully managed Covid-19 and should soon be in a position to open borders with
The New Zealand Aviation Coalition (NZAC) is welcoming Singapore’s decision to open its border to Kiwis from September 1.
Singapore announced on August 21 that it will not require anyone who has been in New Zealand for 14 days before their flight to go into self-isolation on arrival.
Instead, travellers will undergo a Covid-19 test at the airport, and only be allowed to go about their activities in Singapore after receiving a negative test result.
Justin Tighe-Umbers, executive director of the Board of Airline Representatives New Zealand (BARNZ), says the move by Singapore is indicative of what is starting to happen around the world.
‘The world is working out how to live with COVID-19,’ he says. ‘New Zealand will lose international connectivity with airlines pulling out unless it keeps abreast of what its competitors are doing and considers the implications. Once airlines pull out it will be extremely hard to compete to get them back and that will have major impacts for the price of tickets for travellers and for exporters relying on air freight.’
Meantime, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) has welcomed Singapore’s announcement on the easing of border measures for entry into the country. It is urging other states in the region to look at ways to resume international travel safely, including through the implementation of travel bubbles.
‘COVID-19 has dealt a massive blow to the airline industry and the road to recovery is going to be long and slow,’ says Conrad Clifford, IATA’s Regional Vice President for Asia-Pacific. ‘Our latest forecast indicates that travel demand will not return to 2019 levels until 2024, a year later than previously expected. Key to the recovery is the opening of borders and the lifting of travel restrictions and measures such as quarantine.’ He says Singapore’s announcement is positive and a step in the right direction. ‘We hope to work closely with the government so that Singapore’s aviation industry can restart safely while mitigating the possibility of COVID-19 transmission. And we urge other states in the region to look at ways to resume international travel safely.’
Japan National Tourism Organization (JNTO) has a new portal showcasing content that inspires travel to the country’s off-the-beaten-path destinations.
The hashtag #stayhomewithjapan encourages people to ‘look beyond the clouds’ and share personal links with Japan found in everyday life, and keep Japan at front of mind for when travel begins anew.
This week’s Journey Through Japan incentive winners are Shari O’Connor from Helloworld and GT Rodgers from Travel Professionals.
The Japan National Tourism Organization (JNTO New Zealand) is running a series of agent webinars. Covering the nation’s cities, regions and the diversity of experiences on offer, the websinars will help agents plan their clients’ itineraries to the destination when international borders re-open.
Taiwan Tourism is hoping its face to face reconnection with key members of the travel trade will be followed up by a reopening of borders between the nation and New Zealand in the not too distant future.
Taiwan Tourism hosted small groups of agents to two sessions on Wednesday at Kawau Kitchen near Auckland Airport, with a total of about 25 agents taking part in the workshops