Enchanting Europe

With the southern hemisphere countries already saturated in sunshine, Booking.com introduces interesting seven destinations to provide the ultimate retreat during the summer months.

Surrounded by volcanoes and geysers, Iceland’s capital Reykjavík attracts tourists with its scenic Hallgrímskirkja Church said to have been designed to resemble the rocks, mountains and glaciers of Iceland’s landscape, as well as Nautholsvík Beach where bathers can plunge into the geothermal water.

In Italy, Naples is edgy thanks to effusive locals, scooters zooming past and a tangle of tumbledown streets. The birthplace of pizza, it has plenty of attractions to visit from Castel dell’Ovo to the Archaeological Museum.

There’s an extra something to life in the Spanish capital Madrid. Start your day in the leafy Retiro Park on your way to a morning at the Prado then have a late lunch and afternoon siesta, before rising late to join the locals for dinner.

Budapest in Hungary bewitches every visitor. Houdini’s hometown is full of unfading beauty that holds you captive. A gentle soul emanates from within this city built on imperial strength, and people engage in a high-stakes hustle to claim their own piece of happiness.

Standing behind towering city walls, Dubrovnik beach town in Croatia has stunning, panoramic views over the emerald Adriatic Sea. Promoting itself as the world’s design powerhouse, Sweden’s capital Stockholm is a serious contender for Scandinavia’s friendliest citizens. You’ll be welcomed with open arms to this urbane city, where medieval alleys, majestic parks and an awe-inspiring Royal Palace will leave you eager to explore.

Porto in Portugal is home to the sleepy Douro River, where boats have dropped anchor for centuries as travellers tumbled forth into Porto’s lattice of sun-drenched streets. Today, cellars stocked with sweet wine vie for attention among studios, cafes, and baroque buildings strung with colourful washing lines.

Find out more at Booking.com

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Source – TheNation

Ministry warns tourists traveling to Eastern #Indonesia of malaria infection

The Health Ministry has warned the public, especially tourists traveling to the Eastern part of Indonesia, to be cautious about malaria infection in the region.

According to the ministry’s data, malaria is still highly endemic in East Nusa Tenggara (NTT), Maluku, North Maluku, West Papua and Papua provinces.

The ministry’s director of vector and zoonotic infection disease prevention and control, Vensya Sitohang, said that tourists, especially backpackers, should anticipate and take necessary measurements against the disease. “Avoid going outdoors at night since the anopheles mosquito is more active during that time. If you must travel after dark, apply [mosquito repellent] lotion; and install a mosquito net for when you are sleeping,” she said as quoted by Antara news agency.

Read also: Malaria-proof mosquito? Tool promising but needs more study

For those already bitten, Vensya advised travelers to immediately visit health services and conduct laboratory checks for malaria.

Tourists are also encouraged to take precautions by taking antimalarial medications prior to their trip, which are available for free in health facilities like Puskesmas (community health centers) and hospitals.

NTT and West Papua are currently among the country’s most popular travel destinations with highlights including Raja Ampat and Labuan Bajo.

Source – TheJakartaPost

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Indonesia – Youth organization to help promote tourism in East Java

Generasi Pesona Indonesia (Indonesian Charms Generation) or GenPI is an organization of youth volunteers who aim to promote tourism in their respective localities through social media.

Partnering with the Tourism Ministry, GenPI has established five local chapters across Indonesia.

A sixth to be added to the list is that of East Java, which will make an official debut at the Majapahit Travel Fair 2017 this May.

Read also: Digital promotion to boost tourist arrivals

“Tourism is the future of this nation and allows Indonesia to compete globally,” said the winner of the 2016 Raki Jatim beauty pageant, Tita Oxa Anggrea. “There are plenty of ideas and concepts to promote local tourism that can be implemented via social media.”

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T. Tahmadi, a member of the ministry’s team tasked with speeding up the development of ten priority destinations, noted how the internet impacted the tourism industry. “Everything is becoming digital nowadays, from searching for information to booking hotels. One of the things Lombok did to win the 2016 World Halal Tourism Awards was to conduct promotions through social media; thus, I encourage everyone to post photos and videos of their tourist destinations on social media.”

Source – TheJakartaPost

#Macau promotes multi-destination trips to Indonesian travelers

Macau Government Tourism Office (MGTO) promoted multi-destination trips to Indonesian travelers through a media session and seminar on Monday.

Held in Jakarta, the event highlighted opportunities for travelers to visit several areas, including Macau, Hong Kong, Guangdong, Guangxi, Pingtan, Qingyuan, Shenzhen, Zhongshan, Zhuhai and Nansha.

The multi-destination trips are designed to attract travelers who want to visit several places in a single trip.

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Hong Kong Tourism Board senior manager trade development for Southeast Asia, Raymond Chan, said that there were many Indonesian travelers visiting Macau and Hong Kong in one journey and sometimes to Shenzhen and China as well, which is one of the reasons why they created the event.

Meanwhile, Betty Fok, MGTO head of destination marketing, said in a press release, “[The event aims] to highlight Macau as the easy connection to Hong Kong and neighboring provinces, such as Guangdong, Guangxi and Fujian.”

In regard to visas, Fok explained that Indonesian travelers could enjoy a free visa while traveling to Macau and Hong Kong. As for those wanting to visit Guangdong from Hong Kong, they can use the 144-hour visa facility. However, they will still need to apply for a visa to explore other parts of China, such as Fujian and Guangxi.

The most attractive holiday destinations

When it comes to vacation destinations, everyone has his or her own preferences, of course. A helping hand can of course be useful, so has the World Economic Forum made a list of the most attractive holiday destinations in the world.

The researchers are looking at issues such as safety, nature, infrastructure, health and value. This has resulted in the following top ten:

1/ Spain
2/ France
3/ Germany
4/ Japan
5/ Great-Britain
6/ United States
7/ Australia
8/ Italy
9/ Canada
10/ Switzerland

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#Indonesia – Ministry wants travel agencies to create ‘New Bali’ package tours

The Ministry of Tourism wants travel agents to come up with 10 new package tours that they will call the “New Balis” in order to entice international tourists to visit not only the Island of the Gods but also other places of Indonesia.

As the ministry enters the second year of its three-year business plan for the promotion of tourism outside Bali, the focus has shifted from branding, which was executed last year, to advertising. In 2018, the government aims to reach the selling stage.

“If branding is catching people’s attention, advertising aims to persuade people to come to Indonesia, while selling includes giving discounts and price cuts,’ said Tourism Minister Arief Yahya.

“Both airlines and travel agents need to be creative. Perhaps they can do joint promotions or hard-selling promotions to attract tourists to come to Indonesia,” he added.

The ministry is also hoping that the promotion of less popular destinations will distribute air traffic more evenly, alleviating congestion at the airports serving Bali and Jakarta. “The air connectivity problem is an urgent matter for us, since most tourists come to Indonesia by airplane,” said Hiramsyah Sambudy Thaib, who heads a team at the Tourism Ministry tasked with accelerating the development of new tourism hot spots.

The ten promoted destinations include Solo, Medan and Lombok, all of which have their own airport operating 24 hours a day. Airports that are currently being upgraded to accommodate large planes are Silangit Airport in North Sumatra and Leo Wattimena Airport in North Maluku.

“This is a huge opportunity for both airlines and travel agents. They can reverse the tour offerings from two days in Bali and one day in Lombok, for example, to one day in Bali and two days in Lombok, so that it won’t all be concentrated in Bali,” he added.

Construction work to extend the runway of Silangit Airport is slated to conclude by September. Meanwhile, Leo Wattimena Airport currently can only accommodate ATR 72 planes. An upgrade will enable the airport to accommodate Boeing 737s to attract tourists to Morotai. The runway extension is targeted for completion by June next year.

To support continued growth in air traffic, the government is in a process of deregulation to make it easier for airlines to add more flights to Indonesia.

Source – TheJakartaPost

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#Indonesia – Borobudur Temple among top cultural destinations in 2017#

If you’ve been itching to travel somewhere new this spring, one of the world’s best cultural landmarks might just be in your backyard.

Booking.com found that out of 34,000 international respondents, 66 percent were on the lookout for new travel experiences. To help with your future travels, they compiled their user recommendation data to create a ranking of lesser-known travel destinations.

Specifically aimed at those who are looking to whet their adventurous appetites, Indonesia’s own Borobudur Temple comes in halfway through the list at fifth place. A Buddhist temple located in Central Java, Borobudur has recently been considered an alternative to Bali, especially for those interested in history and culture, while not wanting to battle the crowds.

(Read also: Borobudur temple hosts new monthly dance performance)

Joining Borobudur Temple on the list are destinations such as the Indian city of Jaisalmer, in second place, a city known for its architecture that is located near the Indian-Pakistani border, and the only other Asian destination on the list. A slightly more well-known locale, Australia’s iconic red rock, Uluru, also makes it onto the list, in sixth place.

Source – TheJakartaPost

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Booking.com’s top cultural destinations for travelers:

1. Recanati, Italy

2. Jaisalmer, India

3. Viljandi, Estonia

4. Borobudur, Indonesia

5. Uluru, Australia

6. Barichara, Colombia

7. Vezelay, France

8. Flores, Guatemala

Iran, Russia agree on visa-free stay for tour groups

Iran and Russia have eased visa requirements for Iranian nationals visiting Russia and vice versa, following an agreement signed by Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and Russian President Vladimir Putin in late March.

Tehran Times reported on Monday that “based on the agreement, tour groups of 5 to 50 people heading to Russia from Iran or vice versa will be granted a visa-free stay of up to 15 days”.

The move is expected to increase tourism between the two countries.

Russia’s Tour Operators Association executive director Maya Lomidze said that Russia was welcoming more Iranian visitors following the launch of direct flights from Iran to St. Petersburg, Moscow and Sochi.

Source – TheJakartaPost

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11 essential tips for women traveling solo

Traveling solo is a big step as it puts you outside of your comfort zone. Understandably, many women do not have the courage to travel alone; they tend to go in groups or at least with a close friend.

If you have never done it but are eager to challenge yourself, there are some things you can do to prepare, especially for overseas travel. The most important concern is, of course, safety, but there are also other things that you should add to your list of considerations.

Mentality

The most important element of preparation is mentality. You must have confidence and belief in yourself, and assure yourself that it is safe to visit your destination alone.

Start by reading articles or books about traveling solo and about the destination you want to visit. Try to get used to going out by yourself; see if you can visit restaurants or join a crowd without any company and see how you feel.

Make sure you prepare all the travel essentials to help yourself feel safe on the journey, which will help you enjoy your solo trip later. And, by the way, although you will travel by yourself, most of the time you will likely not be alone and will end up joining others you meet on the way.

Listen to your instincts

The hardest part of mental preparation is making your own decisions. You have to trust yourself and listen to your instincts because that is your best defense system.

Don’t worry about other people’s opinions or be afraid that you’ll offend someone. You only have yourself to rely on throughout the trip, so you must know yourself very well.

One step at a time

Start your solo trip by visiting a close destination, and take it further one step at a time.

It’s not wise to embark on a solo trip to a dangerous or complex country. Our suggestion is to go to a place where you have a colleague or friend. Then, once you have more confidence, you can go a level up for your next destination.

Prepare required documents

Print out copies of your identification, insurance, plane tickets, hotel bookings and emergency contacts and put them in separate places: in your suitcase and other bags. Also store the files on an online drive.

You should carry a copy of your identification with you at all times as well as a hotel address and emergency contact. Keep your passport in your hotel’s safe or, if you’re in a hostel, store it in a cabinet with your own lock.

Emergency contacts

Always have an emergency contact and update him or her whenever you move and tell them what is happening. You may not be aware that danger is near, but a friend listening to your story might be able to sense it.

Take note of the license plates of vehicles that you travel in and share them with your contact.

Extensive research

Wherever you go, always do extensive research beforehand. Learn not only about the location of your accommodation, but also the current situation of surrounding areas as well as your desired tourist sites.

Learn also about local scams and precautions.  

Emergency exits

It is very important to plan an emergency exit strategy. You must take note of your country’s embassy or consulate address as well as their telephone number.

Learn which best hospital is best in your destination and whether it will accept your health insurance or not. Also, find out about the scenario for a medical evacuation, just in case.

Extra cash

You must have a plan for extra cash, just in case you get robbed or lose your suitcase. You can ask a friend to send emergency money if needed via Western Union or MoneyGram and agree on a secret passcode.

Try to divide your cash and keep it in separate places: in your luggage, secret pockets, shoes, etc.

Safety mechanism

Plan your safety mechanisms and always bring along one thing that can be used as a weapon, for example a wooden stick. Always carry with a padlock, extra batteries for your gadgets, conventional clothes to blend in with locals and clothes with hidden pockets to hide your hotel keys and important notes.

It’s advisable to wear a ring that looks like a wedding band and say you’re married and your husband is waiting for you at your hotel if a stranger asks. It is also important to bring simple first aid supplies and medicine with you at all time.

Printed map

It may be old fashioned, but your GPS will be useless if the battery is flat. That’s when you realize that printed maps are important.

Carry less

You may want to look chic, but there’s no point packing your wedges or other unnecessary stuff. Just bring basics like T-shirts, one dress, flip flops and simple make-up.

It might be hard to find someone to help you to carry your luggage, but you can always buy cheap clothes when you arrive instead of carrying heavy bags.

Source – TJP

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Berlin’s airport debacle: Five years late and counting

You think you have a travel story from hell? Try this one: The inaugural flight from Berlin’s new international airport is almost five years late, and no one can say when it might take off.

The airport’s planned launch in June 2012 was scrapped a month before its unveiling because of fire safety issues, and it’s since been pushed back three times. With costs piling up at €13 million ($14 million) a month, the operating company in March saw the departure of its third chief in four years. The black eye for Germany’s exalted engineering prowess threatens to undermine a tourism boom in Berlin, and there’s talk of scrapping a plan to shutter Tegel, one of the city’s existing airports. “This airport should have been a world-class showpiece for Germany,” says Tim Clark, president of Emirates Airline, which has long sought to introduce service to Berlin. “It’s an embarrassment.”

The bill for Berlin Brandenburg Airport Willy Brandt—most people call it BER—has more than doubled, to some €5 billion, since construction began in 2006. And the delayed opening has wounded local restaurants as well as airlines Air Berlin Plc and Deutsche Lufthansa AG, which had expected to expand routes from the capital. Instead, Germany’s biggest city has fewer overseas flights than Düsseldorf (with less than a quarter of Berlin’s population).

The list of construction defects reads like a bad joke: Automatic doors lacked electricity, escalators were too short, and a smoke-extraction system was so complex, yet ineffective, it was dubbed “the Monster,” according to daily tabloid Bild. To keep the air flowing and limit mold growth, empty trains run to an empty station in the basement of BER’s glass-clad terminal. Upstairs there’s everything an airport needs—except passengers.

Once BER opens, it may already be too small. It was designed to accommodate 27 million passengers annually—ample for the 18 million arrivals in Berlin in 2006. But last year, Tegel and the city’s other functioning airport, Schönefeld, handled 33 million passengers. And BER will have 118 check-in counters, about 80 fewer than the combined number at Tegel and Schönefeld. “Resolving the capacity problem of BER will take another several years,” says Simon Morris, vice president at aviation adviser ICF International.

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