Welcome Letter

Over the centuries, Asia has evoked the imagination and the curiosity of the Western world like no other region in the world. From the travels and tales of Marco Polo in the Middle Ages and the incursions by the Dutch and Portuguese traders into the forbidden realm of Japan in the 16th century, up to the 19th century at the height of the colonial era when European countries flocked to the region seeking out its wealth, Asia emanated a sense of romance and mystery.

Today it’s no different, with thousands of Western tourists flocking to Asia to sample its exotic locales, its unique culture and magnificent art, and historical treasures. China alone had more than 51 million international visitors in 2010/2011 with inbound tourism from the U.S. ranking fourth. India was anticipating more than six million foreign tourists in 2011, while Vietnam saw more than 5.5 million visitors in 2011, an 18 percent growth over 2010.

While Thailand saw a decline in the latter part of 2011 due to international media coverage of the severe flooding in Bangkok and other areas, 19.5 million visitors did flock to this small Southeast Asian country, a 22 percent increase over 2010. Japan, too, saw a decline because of the havoc caused by a tsunami in 2011, but it, too, is coming back strong with a variety of promotions to ensure visitors will return, many aimed at the U.S. market.

The point is, the demand is there and it’s a demand that continues to grow year after year. So, how do you take advantage of this dynamic market and get your share of this incredibly hot product? In this special section on Asia, we are highlighting some of Asia’s most unique destinations to help you plan an unforgettable vacation experience for your clients.

On the following pages you’re going to find invaluable information on the varied niche products such as culinary tours of China, Thailand and India with a focus on cooking schools. You’ll find out where to steer your clients to some of the most exotic and luxurious spas in Thailand and where they can go for the best shopping in Hong Kong, as well as the casinos and entertainment available in neighboring Macau.

Of course, tradition and unique cultures are two of the biggest lures to travel in Asia and there are few places in the world who put a greater emphasis on tradition than Japan and you’ll read about all of that and more as we highlight the traditional aspects of the beautiful cities of Tokyo, Osaka and Kyoto. Singapore, too—the

gateway to Asia—has its share of history and culture, as well as a vibrant green carpet of national parks and protected nature reserves waiting to be explored.

Luxury travel product is, of course, personified in India with a huge collection of over-the-top hotels, resorts and houseboats, as well as an exciting culture that’s begging to be explored. Finally, there’s the hottest product in Asia—river cruising, which promises exciting vacation explorations in Vietnam and Cambodia; China; Borneo and Myanmar with a secondary focus on pre- and post-land tours.

It’s all here and more in this special section, all geared to help you sell more vacation experiences in Asia.