With many natural wonders, history, culture, and the dignified attraction of Asia overall, selling Asia and the South Pacific is not a difficult task. In fact, destinations in this part of the world frequently make it to the top of coveted must-visit lists and the proof is in the visitor numbers.
travel by the numbers
Through October of this year, there were 403,944 visitors from the U.S. to Vietnam, an increase from the previous year, while Japan saw 76,900 visitors from the U.S. this past August alone, a 20.4 percent increase from the previous year in that same month. Meanwhile, Cambodia saw 13,303 visitors from the U.S., an increase of 24.7 percent over the same period in 2014. Arrivals into Fiji from the U.S. and Canada accounted for 5,407 out of the 71,836 visitors the island had as of September of this year. Australia, too, is seeing a spike in visitor arrivals from the U.S.—9 percent for the year ending June 2015, and for New Zealand, visitor arrivals were up 23,400 this year for a total of 217,000 with the most arrivals coming from Australia, China, Japan, and then the U.S. China, however, has seen a decrease in international travelers over the past seven years. In an effort to cope with the downturn, China has started to offer the 72-hour visa-free transit policy, which has been adopted in more cities to welcome more overseas guests.
intel on new tours
The amount of new tours offering out-of-the-box experiences is enough to lure any traveler. Take Avanti Destinations, which has launched over 25 customizable FIT vacation packages to Cambodia, China, Japan, Laos, Thailand and Vietnam, with all packages featuring private guides from arrival through departure. On the 9-day China: Beijing, Xian, Shanghai itinerary, for example, guests visit with a local family in Beijing, and spend time sightseeing at the Temple of Heaven, the Forbidden City, Tiananmen Square, an area of the Great Wall that’s less frequented by tourists, and the Summer Palace. They’ll also have lunch at a restaurant serving hand-rolled noodles, take a pedicab tour of the traditional hutongs (alleyways), and travel by high-speed train to Xian, where they’ll see the Terra Cotta Warriors, the Big Wild Goose Pagoda, the Muslim quarter, the ancient City Wall and more. Next, guests fly to Shanghai, where a few highlights are the Old Town with Yu Garden and Bazaar, a multi-media acrobatic performance, and the water town of Zhujiajiao.
For clients headed to India, there’s Insight Vacations’ new 16-day Spirit of North and South India itinerary, starting at $5,595. Highlights include everything from visiting the deserted imperial city of Fatehpur Sikri to exploring the ancient cave temples of Mumbai. Authentic experiences such as drinks and a sunset elephant safari before arriving at a torch-lit dinner are among the elaborate and unique offerings your guests can expect.
Also new in 2016 is Abercrombie and Kent’s Signature Australia & New Zealand itinerary. This 18-day journey explores Auckland, Queenstown, Mount Cook and Christchurch in New Zealand, as well as Melbourne, Uluru, the Great Barrier Reef, and Sydney in Australia. Guests take part in such activities as riding on a 4WD vehicle to a winery for a wine tasting, and a private visit to an Aussie sheep farm. Rates start at $17,495 with the first departure on March 21. The 9-day Treasures of Palau is also debuting in 2016, starting at $145,000 pp dbl—it throws in a private yacht, private jet flight and Rolls-Royce transfers.
You can explore Tourism Fiji’s newly revamped website (fiji.travel) to find engaging excursions to recommend to your clients. The website now features “Experiences” and “Offers” pages. On the “Experiences” page, you can search through categories such as adventure, shopping, sightseeing, backpacking and surfing. For example, under the horseback riding adventure category, Fiji’s Cannibals Cave Tour offers guests a vast history of cannibalism, pagan worship and tribal warfare. On this tour, guests arrive at the Sigatoka Valley, where they’ll hear the history of Tongan warriors who reigned in this area, and also see the ancient hill fortresses of Tavuni and Matanavatu. Then, at Sautabu Village, guests participate in a customary kava ceremony before a bamboo raft ferries them across the river for a walk to the Naihehe Caves.
the scoop on lodging
Keeping up with visitor demand is a plethora of new hotel openings across the region. Starwood Hotels & Resorts is opening an array of hotels in Asia in 2016, including The St. Regis Changsha in Hunan, China. Opening in May 2016, it will offer views of the Xiang River, and have easy access to local boutiques, as well as cultural and natural attractions. Hyatt, meanwhile, has been sprucing up its properties in Asia, including the Grand Hyatt Taipei and the Grand Hyatt Beijing. Small Luxury Hotels of the World is adding a few hotels to its illustrious list; among them, Galle Fort Hotel in Sri Lanka and COMO The Treasury in Perth, Australia. This latter occupies buildings that for the past 140 years were state government offices; it now houses 48 guestrooms, a spa, a heated indoor pool with city views, and two restaurants. Additionally, the Langham Place will open in Dalian, an area in northeast China that exudes the elegance of a European city.
fly away with additional service
New flight service aids in making the trek from the U.S. more convenient to these far-flung lands. American Airlines is launching a daily Sydney-Los Angeles route this month as part of its partnership with Qantas Airways. Additionally, Qantas will operate a new service between Sydney and San Francisco.
Air India is launching a new nonstop service from San Francisco to Delhi this month, with departures three times a week (Wednesday, Friday and Sunday), claiming to get passengers to Asia faster than any other airline—“a full 3.5 hours faster than any other airline,” according to press materials. Beginning Feb. 11, 2016, American Airlines will offer a daily nonstop flight between LAX and Tokyo Haneda. The route will be operated on its custom-designed Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner.
Southeast Asia FAM
Agents, listen up—Pacific Delight Tours is offering an 11-day Southeast Asia FAM departing April 7, 2016 at $2,599 per agent with air from LAX or SFO (add $200 for JFK). Agents will get to experience cosmopolitan Hanoi, scenic Halong Bay, Hoi An, historical Ho Chi Minh City, and Siem Reap. FAM rate includes flights, transfers, deluxe hotel accommodations, 12 meals, including daily breakfast, and sightseeing with English-speaking guides.