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Travel Impact Newswire

TRAVEL IMPACT NEWSWIRE -- Edition 26 (2008) - Monday, March 31, 2008

28 Years of Distinction in Travel Journalism.

Launched in August 1998, Travel Impact Newswire this year completes a decade of service to the industry, providing unmatched, thought-provoking coverage of big-picture issues and trends that impact global travel & tourism.

- From Imtiaz Muqbil, Executive Editor, in Bangkok

In this dispatch :










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“The travel & tourism buzzword of the 21st century will be the search for balance.” That forecast by Imtiaz Muqbil, Executive Editor, Travel Impact Newswire, in a research report published way back in February 1999, is proving spot-on accurate as the word “balance” resonates loudly across all industry sectors today. Industry conferences willing to hear more insightful forecasts from a travel trade journalist ready to challenge conventional wisdom and stoke democratic public debate on issues that matter, can contact Imtiaz Muqbil at [email protected] For further details, pls click:;=30



Bangkok, 31 March 2008, (UN Information Services) – The UN Bangkok Climate Change talks got underway on Monday, the first major UN-sponsored meeting on climate change after the UN Climate Change Conference in Bali in December 2007. [Editor’s Note: This conference has nothing to do with the upcoming CEO Challenge being organised by the Pacific Asia Travel Association.]

At Bali, Parties agreed to step up international efforts to combat climate change and to launch formal negotiations to come to a long-term international agreement in Copenhagen by the end of 2009. The Bangkok meeting is designed to both map out a work programme that will lead to that agreement and to advance work on the rules through which emission reduction targets of developed countries can be met.

The meeting opened with warnings that the clock is ticking down to prepare an agreement in time to enter into force when the first phase of the Kyoto Protocol expires in 2013.
Yvo de Boer, Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) pointed out that three months had already elapsed since the Bali conference and that a draft of a future agreement would need to be ready well before Copenhagen . “This leaves us with around one and a half years – a very short time-frame within which to complete negotiations on one of the most complex international agreements that history has ever seen,” said the UN’s top climate change official. “But I am confident that it can be done if the work is broken down into manageable, bite-sized chunks,” he added.

Delegates from 163 countries are attending the Bangkok Climate Change Talks 2008, which has so far attracted a total of around 1200 participants, including government representatives, participants from business and industry, environmental organizations and research institutions.

At the Dec 2007 Climate Change Conference in Bali , parties to the UNFCCC decided on both the time-line and the main elements of a stronger climate change deal, including a shared long-term vision and enhanced action on mitigation, adaptation, technology and finance. A new Ad Hoc Working Group on Long-Term Cooperative Action (AWG-LCA) was mandated in Bali to lead the work and is meeting for the first time in Bangkok . Its main task is to spell out the next steps needed to come to the envisaged agreement.
Parties meeting in Bangkok this week will need to decide which topics require separate workshops in the course of 2008 and possibly 2009, and which areas of work need input from the business sector, international organisations or other stakeholders. Parties will furthermore need to establish and what support they require from the Bonn-based UN Climate Change Secretariat.

“There is already broad consensus among Parties on the importance of completing this work before political agreement is reached on a post-2012 deal in Copenhagen ” said Harald Dovland, Chair of the group. “Much of the technical work can be done before we meet in Denmark next year.” The tools that the working group will analyse in Bangkok include emissions trading and the “project based mechanisms”.

For example, the Kyoto Protocol’s Clean Development Mechanism already allows developed countries to meet part of their emission reduction commitments by investing in sustainable development projects in developing countries. Other tools are land use, land-use change and forestry; greenhouse gases, sectors and source categories to be covered, along with possible approaches targeting sectoral emissions, for example from the steel or cement sectors.

The next UN meeting involving negotiations under both working groups will take place in June in Bonn this year, followed by a third meeting in August and a fourth at the UN Climate Change Conference in Poznan in December.


Noeleen Heyzer, UN Under-Secretary-General and Executive Secretary of the UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), today called on developed countries to help meet the technological and financial needs of developing countries facing the challenge of climate change.

“The challenge for the region’s developing countries is whether they can switch to a less polluting pattern of production while maintaining the growth and development they require,” Heyzer told the opening session of the UN Climate Change Talks in Bangkok . “We need global solidarity based upon genuine North-South and South-South partnerships of governments, as developing countries cannot do this alone.”

Heyzer noted that for the Asia-Pacific region, climate change is no longer a distant threat. “It is a reality and a sign of what lies ahead,” she said. “For many of our Pacific island states, it is a looming question of their survival or extinction.” She said that with technological and financial support from developed countries, the region can find cost-effective ways to address climate change.

“Countries in the region need to focus their actions in terms of cleaner technologies, industries and jobs,” Heyzer said. “Rather than focusing on the quantity of growth, countries need to incorporate quality dimensions that reflect inclusiveness of development and the adverse consequences of climate change.” She added that this is a new paradigm that can support the proactive participation of developing countries in climate action, with adequate support from developed countries.

Echoing comments by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in Bangkok on his way to Bali last December, Heyzer said that the climate crisis could be turned into a new opportunity for the next green revolution – based on cleaner technology and a low-carbon economy that advances sustainable development; and encourages new kinds of cleaner technologies, industries and jobs.

“In this, we need partnerships between public and private sector as well as civil society to bring about a paradigm shift not only in policies but in behaviour,” Heyzer said. “It is time to build solidarity, and it is time to re-commit to a global partnership for sustainable development.”

ABOUT THE UNFCCC: With 192 Parties, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) has near universal membership and is the parent treaty of the 1997 Kyoto Protocol. The Kyoto Protocol has to date 178 member Parties. Under the Protocol, 37 States, consisting of highly industrialized countries and countries undergoing the process of transition to a market economy, have legally binding emission limitation and reduction commitments. The ultimate objective of both treaties is to stabilize greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that will prevent dangerous human interference with the climate system.

On the one hand, the Bangkok Climate Change Talks are expected to establish a clear work programme for a negotiation process on strengthened international action against climate change, established under the Bali Roadmap. On the other hand, talks on further commitments for Kyoto Protocol Parties will include considering the possible tools available to industrialised countries to reach future emission reductions.

The two processes are set to culminate in a strengthened and effective international climate change deal, to be clinched at the UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen in 2009.

“The challenge is to design a future agreement that will significantly step up action on adaptation, successfully halt the increase in global emissions within the next 10-15 years, dramatically cut back emissions by 2050, and do so in a way that is economically viable and politically equitable worldwide,” said Yvo de Boer.



Langkawi/Bangkok, 19 March 2008 – Asia Pacific countries are pacing ahead in meeting their commitments to end production and consumption of chemicals that harm the Earth’s protective ozone layer, years ahead of internationally-agreed deadlines.

"Their actions prove that when there is political will and the right enabling conditions, the countries in this region can meet and even exceed their treaty commitments, which provides inspiration for the implementation of other environmental agreements,” said Rajendra Shende, Chief, OzonAction Branch, UNEP Division of Technology, Industry and Economics, during the Meeting of National Ozone Units of 22 countries in South Asia and South East Asia and the Pacific Network in Langkawi, Malaysia, which concluded today. East Timor , one of the last four countries which have not ratified the Protocol, participated for the first time.

Under the Montreal Protocol for Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer, Asia Pacific countries agreed to phase out ozone-depleting chemicals like chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), halons, carbon tetrachloride (CTC) by 2010, and methyl chloroform and methyl bromide by 2015. Financial assistance was provided by the Multilateral Fund to cost-effectively phase out these ozone depleting chemicals. National Ozone Officers gathered at the meeting to discuss current issues, future strategies, action plans and reviewed where countries in the region stand in meeting the treaty obligations

At least five countries - Sri Lanka , Maldives China, Indonesia , and Fiji – have phased out CFCs, nearly two years ahead of the 2010 deadline. Sri Lanka and Maldives recently joined ranks with China , Indonesia , and Fiji in announcing early phase out of CFCs in their countries. Last year, China shut down five of its six remaining CFC plants, while Indonesia imposed a ban on the import of CFCs into the country in January 2008. Fiji phased out its use of CFC as early as 2000. In addition, 14 countries in the region have phased out CTCs and 13 countries have phased out halons ahead of the 2010 schedule.

“I am confident that the early phase-out of these countries will serve as an example for other developing countries in the region and will motivate them to strengthen their regulations and control of the use of ODS to reach the phase-out deadlines proscribed by the treaty,” said Mr. Mokhtarud-din-Bin-Husain, Senior Principal, Assistant Director of the Ministry of Agriculture of Malaysia. The meeting was hosted by the Department of Environment, Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, Malaysia .

Completing the phase out of CFCs in developing countries is by far the most important next step in protecting the ozone layer. Other challenges highlighted were the need for countries to speed up in meeting their obligations, dealing with methyl bromide exempted under the Montreal Protocol, stocks of ozone depleting chemicals in existing equipment (called “banks” of these chemicals), a growing black market for illegal CFCs and the freeze on production of Hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs) in 2013 and phaseout in 2030. While HCFCs are ozone-depleting chemicals, their high global warming potential means that their freeze and elimination under the Montreal Protocol will also garner significant benefits in climate change protection.

The most significant and inspiring achievement comes from the Beijing Olympic Games to be held later in 2008. All the venues of Olympic games and events will not use CFCs and HCFCs, making it first “ozone friendly” Olympics of the modern times .

Asian countries are also moving ahead in early phase out of other ozone depletion substances like methyl chloroform and methyl bromide, due for phase out in 2015. Afghanistan, Bhutan, Brunei, DPR Korea, Fiji, India, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Maldives, Mongolia, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan, Philippines, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Viet Nam have already ceased production and consumption of methyl chloroform, while Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Brunei, Cambodia, DPR Korea, India, Lao PDR, Maldives, Mongolia, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan and the Republic of Korea have phased out methyl bromide, used for soil and post-harvest fumigation.

The Montreal Protocol on Substances That Deplete the Ozone Layer is an international treaty designed to protect the ozone layer by phasing out the production and consumption of a number of substances believed to be responsible for ozone depletion. The treaty was opened for signature on September 16, 1987 and entered into force on January 1, 1989. Since then, it has undergone five revisions, in 1990 ( London ), 1992 ( Copenhagen ), 1995 ( Vienna ), 1997 ( Montreal ), and 1999 ( Beijing ). Due to its widespread adoption and implementation it has been hailed as an example of exceptional international cooperation "Perhaps the single most successful international agreement to date...”

About the Compliance Assistance Programme (CAP) of UNEP DTIE: UNEP as an Implementing Agency of the Multilateral Fund of the Montreal Protocol has a unique regionalized programme that delivers compliance assistance services to countries to assist them meet the international commitments under the Protocol. The compliance regime requires countries to: achieve and sustain compliance, promote a greater sense of country ownership and implement the agreed Executive Committee framework for strategic planning.

UNEP through the Compliance Assistance Programme (CAP) has moved from project management approach to a direct implementation initiative through its specialized staff. Consistent with the above approach the Regional Office for Asia and Pacific (ROAP) CAP team has developed to be the centre for policy advice, compliance guidance and conduct training to refrigeration technicians, customs officers and other relevant stakeholders on compliance issues, promote bilateral and multilateral cooperation and promote high-level awareness by utilizing UNEP’s staff.

OzonAction Programme:
Multilateral Fund: www.multilateral
Ozone Secretariat:



New York, Mar 27 2008 -- The UN Human Rights Council in Geneva today passed a resolution calling on States to not resort to racial, ethnic or religious profiling while countering terrorism. Adopted without a vote, the text urges States to fully comply with their obligations regarding torture and other forms of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.

It also “opposes any form of deprivation of liberty that amounts to placing a detained person outside of the protection of the law.” Additionally, the 47-member body adopted five other resolutions. It extended the mandates by three years of its Independent Experts on the effects of foreign debt and other related international financial obligations of States on the full enjoyment of all human rights; on human rights and solidarity; and on minority issues.



WASHINGTON, D.C. March 26, 2008 – The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced today that it has begun collecting additional fingerprints from international visitors arriving at New York 's John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK). The change is part of the department's upgrade from two- to 10-fingerprint collection to enhance security and facilitate legitimate travel by more accurately and efficiently establishing and verifying visitors' identities.

"Biometrics have revolutionized our ability to prevent dangerous people from entering the United States since 2004. Our upgrade to 10-fingerprint collection builds on our success, enabling us to focus more attention on stopping potential security risks," US-VISIT Director Robert Mocny said.

For more than four years, U.S. Department of State (DOS) consular officers and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers have been collecting biometrics -- digital fingerprints and a photograph -- from all non-U.S. citizens between the ages of 14 and 79, with some exceptions, when they apply for visas or arrive at U.S. ports of entry.
"Quite simply, this change gives our officers a more accurate idea of who is in front of them. For legitimate visitors, the process becomes more efficient and their identities are better protected from theft. For those who may pose a risk, we will have greater insight into who they are," added Paul Morris, Executive Director of Admissibility and Passenger Programs, Office of Field Operations, CBP.

The department's US-VISIT program currently checks a visitor's fingerprints against DHS records of immigration violators and Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) records of wanted persons and known or suspected terrorists. Checking biometrics against the watch list helps officers make visa determinations and admissibility decisions. Collecting 10 fingerprints also improves fingerprint matching accuracy and the department's ability to compare a visitor's fingerprints against latent fingerprints collected by Department of Defense (DOD) and the FBI from known and unknown terrorists all over the world. Additionally, visitors' fingerprints are checked against the FBI's Criminal Master File.

On an average day at JFK, almost 14,400 international visitors complete US-VISIT biometric procedures. Visitors from Mexico , the United Kingdom , Germany , Italy , France and Japan comprise the largest numbers of international visitors arriving at JFK.
JFK is the tenth international port of entry to begin collecting 10 fingerprints from international visitors. Washington Dulles began 10-fingerprint collection on November 29, 2007. Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta, Boston Logan, Chicago O'Hare, George Bush Houston, San Francisco International, Miami International, Orlando International and Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport have also begun 10-fingerprint collection.

US-VISIT is evaluating 10-fingerprint collection at these airports. It will use the results to inform the deployment of the technology to the remaining air, sea and land border ports of entry that will transition to collecting 10 fingerprints by December 2008.

Since US-VISIT began in 2004, DHS has used biometric identifiers to prevent the use of fraudulent documents, protect visitors from identity theft, and stop thousands of criminals and immigration violators from entering the country. US-VISIT, in cooperation with CBP, is leading the transition to a 10-fingerprint collection standard. This upgrade is the result of an interagency partnership among DHS, FBI, DOD and DOS.



London, 25 March 2008 – Over 30 leaders of business, politics, religion, media and civil society gathered in a symposium organized by the World Economic Forum, in partnership with Georgetown University (USA), to mark the launch of the first Islam and the West: Annual Report on the State of Dialogue . This first of its kind report is a systematic and thorough overview of how Muslim and Western societies perceive and relate to each other at the political, social, economic and cultural levels.

The theme of the symposium was to debate and discuss the issues surrounding Muslim communities in Europe raising questions that were looked at in the Islam and the West: Annual Report on the State of Dialogue .

The Islam and the West: Annual Report on the State of Dialogue report finds that majorities in populations around the world believe that violent conflict between the West and the Muslim world can be avoided, but they also share a great deal of pessimism about the state of the relationship.

Among both Muslim majority and non-Muslim majority nations, the proportion who say they think the “other side” is committed to better relations rarely rises above a minority of 30%. Notwithstanding the prevalent sense of scepticism, majorities of residents in nations around the world say that better interaction between the Muslim and Western worlds is important.

An important finding of the report is the emergence of citizenship and integration as the second most powerful shaper of the state of dialogue after international politics. Growing Muslim minorities committed to active and full citizenship particularly in Europe are increasingly finding a voice in the public sphere.

Governments, committed to ideals of equality and recognition, but eager to maintain majority support and national cohesion, are seeking to engage Muslim groups in structured dialogue; with mixed results. Greater interaction with the Muslim world is actually seen as a threat by 60% of the citizens in many European countries but not in America or Israel .

The Symposium chairs made the following comments:

"The symposium has opened the dialogue … the spark is there. It is not just about Islam and the West … we are speaking about communities. The main themes we discussed in the symposium were tolerance and trust between Muslims and the West in Europe and the UK . The communities are complaining of not being heard. You should have as much faith in your interlocutors as you do in yourself.” -- HRH Princess Lolowah al Faisal al Saud, Co-Chair of the World Economic Forum Community of West and Islam Dialogue; Princess of Saudi Royal Family; Vice-Chair of the Board of Trustees and General Supervisor, Effat College, Saudi Arabia.

"We should be building on what we have done … there is real acknowledgment on both sides that we are all guilty of not building the bridges that we are capable of doing … and now we are actually listening to each other. The debate will not end. The world is in such a state and the divisions are so deep and dark. The issues of September 11th are still with us and what we have got here is a real community of trust and faith including members of the secular community. We should look towards the future with a ray of hope." - Lord Carey of Clifton , Co-Chair of the World Economic Forum Community of West and Islam Dialogue; Archbishop of Canterbury (1991-2002), United Kingdom .

"We were able to identify some important categories that can change our conversation as we move forward. For example, the focus of the conversation on the term of 'multiculturalism' can play in terms of strengths and weaknesses, challenges and limitations. We need to recognize that there are specific challenges embedded in the questions presented which go much deeper. We look forward to addressing these issues in the upcoming meeting in Washington DC in early April." - John J. DeGioia, President, Georgetown University , USA ; Lead Author of Islam and the West: Annual Report on the State of Dialogue .

"The symposium brought together some of the most influential leaders and activists that represent very opposing views on the status and future of Muslim communities in Europe . The objective of the gathering was not to debate or attempt stakeholders of opposing views on this matter. We invited participants to work with inquisitive minds to construct an objective, accurate and current account of the positions of the most important stakeholders in Europe regarding Islam in Europe ," said Sherif El Diwany, Director, Head of Middle East.

The Symposium was attended by number of high level participants, among them Ed Husain, Author of The Islamist; Paramjit Dhanda, Minister for Cohesion, Faith and Race of the United Kingdom; Richard Chartres, Bishop, Diocese of London, United Kingdom; David Rosen, Chairman, The International Jewish Committee for Interreligious Relations, USA; Gunnar Stalsett, Executive Member, World Conference of Religions for Peace, Norway; Sigmund Sternberg, Co-Founder, Three Faiths Forum, United Kingdom.

Download the full report:



VIENTIANE, Laos (31 March 2008) - China Premier Wen Jiabao, Lao People’s Democratic Republic (Lao PDR) Prime Minister Bouasone Bouphavanh, Thailand Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej and Asian Development Bank (ADB) President Haruhiko Kuroda officially opened the Route 3 highway in Lao PDR today, the last remaining stretch of road in an overland route joining Singapore and Beijing.

Before construction commenced on the new route, the highway was closed four months each year during the rainy season, limiting communities’ access to basic social services, and impeding trade and employment opportunities in the region.

Now that the new route is complete, the highway will be open year-round, and the driving time from Bangkok to Kunming will only take a little over one full day. “Revitalizing this ancient trade route and stimulating new business between these Mekong neighbors will bring more jobs and greater prosperity to the region,” said President Kuroda.

“Improved road networks in Lao PDR will also give families in the area easier access to health clinics, and give children better access to school,” he added. Route 3 mirrors ancient “back door” trade routes that linked Southeast Asia to southern branches of the Silk Road in the 13th century. As late as the 1800s, caravan traders were carrying raw cotton and other commodities northwards in exchange for silk, tea, furs and other goods. In Lao PDR, Route 3 passes by the ancient village of Khou Vieng , a former trading post from the 16th century.

The north-south road network from Kunming to Bangkok has been under development by Mekong nations and ADB for more than a decade. In addition to enhancing business and employment opportunities for Lao PDR, Thailand , and the PRC, the new route is expected to expand the number of tourists visiting all three countries each year.

The total cost of Route 3 in Lao PDR is $97 million. ADB, the Government of Thailand, and PRC each contributed $30 million to the project, with Lao PDR contributing the remaining $7 million.


Vientiane, (28 March 2008) - Putting a collective 3,500 kilometers behind them, young people from across the Mekong region arrived in Vientiane Friday in three caravans to attend the first ever Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS) Youth Forum.

The Forum begins Sunday as part of activities associated with the Third GMS Summit, and brings together 37 young people representing the six countries sharing the Mekong River to deliver a regional youth message to the prime ministers and other high-ranking officials attending the Summit .

The youth will ask their leaders for greater focus on educational opportunities and skills development, more support for health programs and access to health care, and better protection for the environment.

“The GMS youth message highlights issues that are important to young people in this dynamic region,” said Asian Development Bank (ADB) Vice President C. Lawrence Greenwood, Jr. “Young people are the region’s next generation of leaders, decision makers, teachers, thinkers and workers. Getting them involved now will pave the way for a closer Mekong community, leading to greater regional cooperation in the future,” he added.
On 22 March, the youth delegates set off on the three caravan trips along the region’s North-South, East-West, and Southern economic corridors, experiencing firsthand “the 3 Cs” of connectivity, competitiveness, and community.

“I will never forget the caravan experience or the friends I’ve made,” said Ms. Bounphady Insisienmay of Vientiane , Chairperson of the GMS Youth Forum. The five-day road journeys began in Kunming , People’s Republic of China , Da Nang , and Ho Chi Minh City , Viet Nam , following the major transport corridors that now link these countries. The road to Vientiane has been long, both literally and figuratively. In the second half of 2007, more than 250 young people aged 18–30 participated in national youth consultations in each GMS country. Six national youth messages were the result.

Smaller youth delegations from each country convened in Bangkok in January 2008. They exchanged views and shared experiences, finding they had much in common. The national youth messages were consolidated into a regional youth message. “It is both an honor and a unique opportunity to be able to present our collective message to the prime ministers of six countries,” Ms. Insisienmay added.


Set up in August 1998, Travel Impact Newswire is the Asia-Pacific’s first email travel industry news feature and analysis service. Mission Statement: Dedicated to reporting with Integrity, Trust, Accuracy and Respect the issues that impact on the Asia-Pacific Travel & Tourism industry. Distributed every week to 45,000 senior industry readers worldwide, mainly in the Asia-Pacific and Middle East .

Advertorial sponsorship messages cost 1,000 Euro per dispatch. Please contact: Imtiaz Muqbil, Executive Editor, 24 Soi Chidlom, Bangkok , Thailand 10330. T: (66-2) 2551480, 2537590. Fax: (66-2) 2544316. Email: [email protected]


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