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Monday, Aug 29, 2005

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Tourism in Maldives, Indonesia yet to recover from tsunami setback

Sankar Radhakrishnan

Thiruvananthapuram , Aug. 28

EIGHT months since the December 26 tsunami devastated parts of Asia, some tourist destinations in the region are still to recover, indicates a new report.

Published jointly by the Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) and Visa International, the report shows that total international visitors arrivals to Maldives and Indonesia, in the first half of 2005, have decreased. Tourist arrivals in Thailand have remained flat, while India and Sri Lanka have witnessed growth in international tourist arrivals in the January-June period of this year, the report adds.

International tourist arrivals in Maldives were down 46.9 per cent in the first half of this year, while Indonesia witnessed a fall of 3.9 per cent. India recorded a 16.8 per cent increase during the same period, as did Sri Lanka where tourist arrivals grew by 13 per cent, says the report.

Though international tourist arrivals in Thailand as a whole were relatively flat in the first six months of the year, the popular beach resort of Phuket registered a 40 per cent drop in tourist arrivals and a 30 per cent fall in spending, the report says. In Maldives, spending by international visitors fell by around 50 per cent in January and February this year, before improving. However, tourist spending in the country is still about 10 per cent less than last year.

According to Mr Peter de Jong, President and CEO, PATA, both travellers and the travel industry must come together to help ensure that Asia's tourist destinations are able to recover from the setbacks caused by the tsunami. Airlines too must ensure sufficient capacity and launch attractively priced fares to encourage travellers to return to destinations affected by the tsunami, he says.

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