Posts Tagged ‘China travel news’

‘Self-immolation sign of deep depression’ says the Dalai Lama

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‘Self-immolation sign of deep depression’ says the Dalai Lama

Phayul[Saturday, October 29, 2011 15:50]
By Sherab Woeser

OSAKA, October 29: Tibetan spiritual leader His Holiness the Dalai Lama arrived in Japan earlier this morning on a 10-day visit which will see him travel to the worst hit areas of the devastating tsunami that struck the island nation in March this year.

The Dalai Lama had briefly visited Japan last April to offer prayers and attend a memorial service at Tokyo’s Gokokuji Temple for the victims of the earthquake and tsunami.

Arriving from New Delhi, the Dalai Lama was received at the Tokyo Narita International Airport by Lhakpa Tshoko, the Representative of the Liaison Office of His Holiness the Dalai Lama for Japan and East Asia and Rev. Fujita Kokan and Rev. Saito Ugyen of Koyasan University.

Ruthlessness only will not be good for all

Upon arrival at the hotel, the Dalai Lama briefly interacted with Japanese reporters.

Responding to a question on the recent spate of self-immolations in Tibet, the Tibetan spiritual leader said that Chinese leaders should heed to the genuine grievances of the Tibetan people.

“This incident of growing self-immolations in Tibet needs to be studied from philosophical, religious and political view points. It is a sign of deep desperation; Chinese leaders need to look into these incidents more seriously. Ruthlessness only will not be good for all.”

While saying it was “too early” to hope for “big change” from China’s next leaders, His Holiness noted that “harmony must come from the heart”.

Referring to the mass uprisings in Tibet in 2008, followed by the Uyghur uprisings in 2009 and the mass movements in Inner Mongolia this year, the Dalai Lama said, “trust and fear cannot go together”.

Travelling from Tokyo, the 76-year old Tibetan leader arrived in Osaka, the country’s commercial capital later in the afternoon. The Dalai Lama is scheduled to give teachings on the Heart Sutra and also give a public talk on overcoming life’s difficulties at the Osaka Maishima Arena tomorrow.

During the visit, His Holiness is scheduled to give teachings and public talks, meet with religious heads and interact with scientists.

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The future of travel revealed

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galactic spaceship

LANDED GENTRY: Virgin Galactic SpaceShip2 or VSS Enterprise, glides toward the earth on its first test flight last year.
Source: AFP




GRAND improvements in transport will have you flying to the moon.


WITH Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic able to take tourists to the edge of space and veteran physicist Stephen Hawking recently declaring forward time travel is “entirely plausible” provided we can get our space ships going fast enough, some of the greatest travel advances of all time are on the horizon.

But for those of us not burdened by excess piles of cash or patient enough to wait for a century or so of research to come to fruition, we, too, have plenty to look forward to.

NASA may have retired its space shuttle program, but it’s contracting the most advanced aircraft manufacturers to make better, faster and more environmentally friendly versions of the air ships we now use. Meanwhile, amid global economic uncertainty, carriers around the world are fighting tooth and nail to win our hard-earned travel dollars with innovations to make us choose their most comfortable, friendly or convenient service.

The advent of the high-speed train is making track travel a genuine headache for budget domestic and, in some cases, international airlines. And when it comes to recreation, few related industries are more dynamic than cruise liners, with more of the ocean-going party palaces being built every day, each bigger and always with new gimmicks to lure fun-seekers.

Let’s take a look at what is in the near distance for our mightiest people-movers in the world of travel.

Planes As of this month, 236 orders have been made for the world’s biggest passenger airliner, the “super jumbo” Airbus A380 the 59 delivered since October 2007 have already carried 15 million passengers. It may sound like a case of commercial one-upmanship for airlines to want to own the biggest therefore the best but more passengers at a time means less fuel consumption per passenger, meaning in theory cheaper flights once these big birds dominate the skies.But energy and dollars spent getting their hands on the biggest planes isn’t stopping airlines from trying to be the best in your eyes, with the past year seeing fantastic innovations in comfort. Emirates has shower spas in its A380, Virgin has joined Emirates with public bars onboard and most airlines now have some celebrity linked to at least their first-class menus.

Draught beer on flights, double beds in the form of Air New Zealand’s Skycouch and more interactive entertainment, including live TV, will also become more prevalent.

But far more functional features will emerge in the next few years, including wi-fi and mobile coverage as soon as the seatbelt light goes off (Cathay Pacific expects to go live next year) and an even greater focus on low-carbon fuel consumption, such as that made from steel production waste gases, set to be used on some Virgin Atlantic aircraft.

On the bigger end of the scale, NASA has chosen Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman and Boeing to create what airliners will look like in 2035, the brief being for a craft that is quieter, cheaper, more comfortable and more fuel efficient. NASA expects their designs to reveal a 70 per cent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions and operational costs.

The preliminary designs have already shown advances in the materials used and the design features, with engines looking likely to disappear from the wings in the future.

“Standing next to the airplane, you may not be able to tell the difference, but the improvements will be revolutionary,” says Richard Wahls, a Fundamental Aeronautics Program project scientist.

“Technological beauty is more than skin deep.”

Trains Breathing down the airlines’ neck is the humble train, which in the past few years has become a genuine alternative to air travel.

The era of spending days on a train to get from one side of a country to another is long gone, with more countries laying special tracks to get passengers between their major centres at 200-300km/h with minimal stops.

There are 48 territories including Australia talking about high-speed rail networks, but plenty are following through as evidence mounts as to its value to the consumer and the environment.

After struggling in its early days from 2004, Korea’s Train eXpress (KTX) has been running its route from Seoul to Busan at a profit since 2007, and is planning a new section from Seoul to Mokpo in 2014.

China’s extensive high-speed rail network will be epic, with 8358km of its 25,000km of planned track already laid. The Beijing to Shanghai leg is a massive boon for businessmen keen to stay online while in transit and Hong Kong is also building a 26km high-speed rail tunnel to connect it to mainland China.

In Europe, budget airlines may be shaking in their boots, with a large amount of track construction planned.

After the upgrading of its famous suburban underground rail network ahead of next year’s Olympics, Londoners soon will be able to hop on a train to Frankfurt in Germany they’re already spoilt by the convenient tunnel taking them directly to Paris in a few short hours. The London to Paris route was once among the world’s busiest air avenues, but since the rail line linked them, planes account for less than 20 per cent of travel between the cities.

In Spain, since high-speed rail between financial centres and hugely popular tourist centres Barcelona and Madrid (also once an air superhighway) was opened in 2007, only 40 per cent of travel is by air.

Travel technology blog Tnooz.com reports that when high-speed rail takes a trip to under 3 1/2 hours, such as London-Paris and Barcelona-Madrid, it becomes the preferred transport.

With the increasing confidence in the magnetic levitation train, already operating on small routes, train travel can become much faster. A Japanese JR-Maglev has clocked up 581km/h on a manned three-car run.

Ships While planes and trains are trying to go faster, bigger and for less dosh to capture our interest, the ever-popular cruise liner is thriving. While the industry faces a tag of seeming old-fashioned, ships are being built like they’re going out of fashion, and they’re getting bigger all the time.

The carrier with 10 of the world’s 14 biggest cruise ships, Royal Caribbean Cruises, is again adding to its fleet with its two Project Sunshine class ships, unnamed as yet, which will be the world’s second-largest passenger ships behind Royal Caribbean’s Allure of the Seas and Oasis of the Seas.

The company is traditionally tight-lipped about new additions, but has confirmed they will hold 4100 passengers and be more eco- friendly than its existing fleet.

Less coy is Italian cruise operator MSC, whose Divina will be christened in May next year. The third in its class for the company, it will operate a reverse osmosis system that it claims will use 40 per cent less power.

Norwegian Cruise Liners’ Norwegian Breakaway will set sail in April 2013, with its sister Norwegian Gateway following in 2014. The operator says it has taken the best from its fleet born in 2001, with the most notable element coming from the Norwegian Epic’s “studio staterooms”, a first for contemporary cruise liners, which are cabins and social areas designed and priced with solo cruisers in mind. Rather than cramming singles into the guts of the ship, the area is light and welcoming.

Disney’s burgeoning cruise presence will continue with the April 2012 launch of Fantasy, taking the entertainment giant’s cruise fleet to four. Again, Fantasy will push the limits of how much fun can be packed on to a boat, including just like on the Disney Dream – the revolutionary Aquaduck waterslide afloat and Broadway-style Disney shows.

And the line made famous by The Love Boat, Princess Cruises, is continuing to grow with the April 2012 launch of the Royal Princess. The stunning ship, the biggest for the iconic liners, will feature a seawalk and sea-view bar with glass floors, putting cruisers literally on the ocean.

This is one means of travel and leisure that is moving forward in the 21st century.

China evolves from an exotic to a must see destination

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Living in Philly, we have all driven by Love Park, attended some function in the area, as it is a must see destination of Philadelphia. We all know of such places around the world, some place we just must see. Once considered the epitome of the exotic, China has come into its own as one of the world’s greatest travel destinations of places to must see. Its history, incredible cultural treasures and natural beauty are cited as draws, while the safety of travel to China, its well-developed transportation system and new world-class hotels are putting China on par with Italy and France as one of the must see countries in the world.

Asia Transpacific Journeys, a leading tour company for travel to Asia and the Pacific, are considered the China experts, tailoring travel to China for the Harvard Museum of Natural History and the Princeton alumni association. Their outstanding small group tour leader Gordon Marsh, who has over 20 years of experience guiding tours in China, provides invaluable cultural interpretation of one of the world¹s greatest and most complex civilizations.

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Marsh lived in Hong Kong for several years and holds a degree in Mandarin, which he speaks fluently. He imparts his in depth knowledge to those who join one of Asia Transpacific Journeys’ China tours, which give travelers a window into this vast and diverse country, where traditional tribal villages co-exist with booming cities.

Marsh leads the following group departures to China:

China: Beyond the WallThis is a 15 day itinerary is sweeping in scope, visiting China¹s major iconic sights, but also includes unusual features such as a private tai chi lesson, a bamboo raft ride on the Ping River, and a lesson in how to make traditional dumplings with a local family in their home.

China’s Silk Road: On this 14 day trip, travelers will follow in the footsteps of ancient merchants and great explorers, along the greatest thoroughfare ever known, the 5,000 mile long Silk Road. Travelers will visit Kazak families in their village, explore a thrilling Sunday Bazaar, view the ancient crafts of Kashgar¹s old town and saunter through sand dunes atop a camel.

Yunnan: A Tribal mosaic:  This 15 day journey delves deep into a single province, Yunnan, considered China¹s most culturally power-packed. Travelers will encounter 36 distinct tribes, visit monasteries, and experience the extraordinary Gyalthang Horse Festival, where expert equestrians from the Kingdom of Kham in Eastern Tibet compete for prizes and glory.

Asia Transpacific Journeys also offers custom itineraries for private travel to China.

 Asia Transpacific Journeys is a Boulder, Colorado-based Asia travel company specializing in Custom Journeys and Small Group Trips to Asia and the Pacific region since 1987. Outstanding service and deeply insightful cultural interpretation make them the Asia tour operator of choice for the American Museum of Natural History, The Harvard and Yale alumni associations, the World Wildlife Fund, as well as discerning individuals, their families and friends.

Debate on tour tipping revived

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<!–enpproperty 2011-10-29 09:22:00.0Cang WeiDebate on tour tipping revivedcompulsory tipping, tourist guids, better services1811048813Society2@usa/enpproperty–>

BEIJING – Compulsory tipping is once again a hot topic of discussion because a major online travel service said it planned to introduce it in the country.

The discussion mainly focused on whether such a policy would improve the service of tour guides and whether it would be an added economic burden for tourists.

Ma Yu, a public relations employee at Ctrip.com, one of China’s major e-travel services, said it planned to introduce a tips scheme to some of its high-end domestic tour groups.

Ma said the tips would work as incentives to tour guides to provide better services.

In April, Shao Qiwei, director of the National Tourism Administration, said a policy for tipping tour guides was under discussion and would be included in a new tourism law.

Liu Deqian, vice-director of the tourism research center at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said a tipping scheme was a good idea.

“Tips will stimulate tour guides to provide better services and help stamp out unpleasant practices, such as forcing tourists to go shopping and charging them extra fees,” Liu said.

However, percentages and how tips should be paid are still being discussed.

Liu said more needed to be done to address pay for tour guides.

“Some receive no commissions from travel agencies, thus they are more likely to make money from bringing tourists to shopping centers and those tourist attractions where extra money is charged,” Liu said.

“A reasonable payment system and a social security system for tour guides should be established before the tipping system.”

He also suggested that service fees should be charged before the tour groups set off to guarantee the guides’ basic incomes, and afterward every tourist would tip according to their guide’s service.

However, at least one occasional traveler cast doubt on charging service fees.

“I have no problem with giving tips as long as the guides’ services are good, but how can I make sure that the service fees charged by travel agencies before departing will go to the guides?” asked Han Hai, a resident of Nanjing, East China’s Jiangsu province.

Liu said the legislation must make it clear service fees would go to tour guides. “Only when tour guides’ incomes are guaranteed will they be able to stop forcing tourists to go shopping and provide good services.”

Missouri reaches $4.4B trade agreement with China – News

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JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon said Monday the state has reached an agreement to sell $4.4 billion worth of products to China for the next three years starting in 2012.

Nixon said the deal between the state Department of Economic Development and the China Council for the Promotion of International Trade emphasizes agricultural products and would boost Missouri exports to China by more than $1 billion over three years. The Democratic governor said international trade is important for improving Missouri’s economy.

“Missouri businesses and farmers have and sell the products needed to feed and fuel and clothe the world,” Nixon said. “Missouri truly helps keep the global economy moving forward, so we always look for opportunities to compete and win in the economy of the future, and exports are a key part of that.”

The deal was announced while Nixon is visiting China. His trip comes as Missouri lawmakers remain deadlocked on a package of business incentives that included tax credits intended to help make the St. Louis airport a hub for international cargo from China and other countries. Nixon called lawmakers back to the state Capitol this fall to approve the legislation, but an agreement collapsed and the incentives package is unlikely to pass before the special legislative session expires under the Missouri Constitution on Nov. 5.

Speaking to reporters by telephone from Beijing, Nixon said the legislation had come up during trade talks but was not the “centerpiece” of any discussions and had not inhibited the agreement. Nixon said he was scheduled to meet with Chinese aviation officials later in his trip.

Along with completing a trade agreement, Nixon said he met with China Vice Premier Wang Qishan, whose responsibilities include international trade and financial services and Chinese foreign affairs and agriculture officials. Nixon and his wife, Georganne Nixon, also met with the former Chinese ambassador to the U.S., who was hosted at the Missouri Governor’s Mansion during a visit in February 2010. In addition, St. Louis-based Peabody Energy Corp. explained its operations in China.

Nixon is scheduled to meet with the U.S. ambassador to China and speak to the American Chamber of Commerce in Beijing and travel to Missouri’s sister province of Hebei, which is in eastern China. He plans to return to Missouri on Saturday.

The governor is traveling with the directors of the Missouri Agriculture and Economic Development departments, business leaders and representatives from various agriculture commodity groups. The governor’s travel costs will be paid by the Hawthorn Foundation, which is a nonprofit organization that frequently funds gubernatorial trips related to economic development.

Foreign carriers eye premium passengers

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At a time when Air India is considering reducing the seats or doing away with the first class section in its long-haul flights, international carriers are wooing premium passengers from India.

Cathay Pacific will introduce first class service on its Mumbai-Hong Kong route later this month. Earlier this week, Lufthansa also announced upgrading its first class seats on the Frankfurt-Mumbai and Delhi routes. It said India was among the first countries in Asia where the new first class seats are being introduced.

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“This is the first time we will introduce first class on our direct Mumbai-Hong Kong flight. We will operate a Boeing 747-400 plane, which has nine first class seats,” said Cathay Pacific’s sales and marketing manager (India) Rakesh Raicar. Till now, the airline operated an Airbus A330 plane, which has economy and business class configurations.

On the Mumbai-Hong Kong sector, Cathay Pacific’s India office earns 23 per cent revenue from business class products. There has seen a growth of nine per cent this year, he said. Raicar did not share the total revenue as bookings are made world over.

“We see potential in introducing first class seats on the Mumbai-Hong Kong route and we are expecting 50-60 per cent loads,” he said. On an average, first class fares are six-seven times higher than economy fares.

About 80 per cent of Cathay Pacific passengers to Hong Kong travel beyond China and the US. “Our flights to China, Japan, Korea and the US have first class seats. We were losing some premium passengers on the New York and Los Angeles sectors as they prefer travelling first class through the entire journey,” he said.

The company’s plans to launch first class seats pits it against Jet Airways, which too has a first class service on the Hong Kong route. Last moth, Jet introduced a Boeing 777 plane on this route offering first class seats and a bigger cargo capacity. “A Boeing 777 plane has capacity for 40 tonnes cargo. The plane has eight seats in its first class segment and has loads of 40-50 per cent in that category,” an airline source said.

In an interaction with investor analysts following the first quarter results, Jet Airways vice-president (revenue management) Raj Sivakumar said, “For the international scenario, the front end (business/first class) has been lot more robust. As we have become established in more markets, we are starting to see more traction in the front end.”

According to HSBC Global Research’s report on Asian carriers, the outlook for premium travel remains better than 2008-09 although there are some signs of weakness. It also noted that premium class fares are expected to rise in the second half of 2011 on a yearly basis, while there have been more special offers for economy travel.

“Overall so far, there is little evidence of a substantial yield decline,” the report said.

Last week, the International Air Transport Association said premium passenger growth declined in Europe and North America in August due to economic slowdown. But “within the Far East, premium travel continues to show strong growth whereas economy travel within the region is more subdued.”

There was little sign of any slowdown of premium traffic in transpacific market, it said.

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Expedia Data Shows Online Travel Bookings to Argentina on the Rise

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/PRNewswire/ — Expedia, Inc., the world’s largest online travel company, discussed newly-released data today at the annual Feria Internacional de Turismo (FIT) showing positive growth in bookings made to Argentina on the company’s more than 100 Expedia®-brand and Hotels.com®-brand travel booking sites worldwide this year.

(Logo:  http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20110121/SF33870LOGO-b)

“Argentina is an increasingly popular travel destination, with growth of more than 80 percent in the number of bookings to Argentine hotels this year versus 2010,” said Marco Tagliatti, Expedia vice president of lodging for Latin America.  ”The growth is coming from international travelers, who are traveling in the greatest numbers from the U.S., Brazil, the U.K., Australia and Spain.”

Expedia has a hotel market management team dedicated to working with hotels in Argentina who want to offer their property on Expedia and Hotels.com sites around the world, and attract international travelers. Expedia market managers provide strategic counsel and market insights to their hotel partners, Current recommendations for local hoteliers include:

  • Incorporate a mobile booking channel into your property’s distribution strategy.  Expedia has seen strong continued growth in bookings made via its mobile channels, especially in metropolitan areas as more consumers around the world use mobile devices to book their hotel stays.
  • Look to international travelers as a source of new, incremental demand.  According to Expedia, some of the strongest demand for travel to Argentina is coming from Europe and Asia-Pacific, with each region growing between 50 to 125 percent over the past year.  

In addition, local tourism boards such as Inprotur have partnered with Expedia Media Solutions, to promote Argentina as a tourist destination to international travelers. Expedia’s cost-per-click product TravelAds has also been especially helpful in extending visibility for hotels, with participating properties experiencing average returns of 10 times their investment.

Expedia executives, including Tagliatti, are in Buenos Aires this week to attend FIT, where the company will meet with local tourism officials and members of the Argentine hospitality community to discuss strategies for promoting Argentina as a top travel destination to Expedia’s global audience of travelers.

Thursday evening representatives from Expedia, Hotels.com, and Expedia Media Solutions will host a partner appreciation event for more than 200 members of the local hospitality community, where Expedia executives are expected to recognize several outstanding Buenos Aires hotel partners across three categories:

Top Producers 2011Unique Luxury Park PlazaCaesar Park Buenos AiresHollywood Suites

Top Producing Hotel Chain 2011Unique Hotels Collection

Fastest Growing Hotel 2011Vista Sol Buenos Aires

“Participating at FIT gives us the opportunity to celebrate the achievements of our local hotel partners, who by partnering with Expedia have been successful in bringing international travelers to Argentina, and growing their business in the process,” said Rafael del Castillo, Expedia director of market management for South America. “We’re very encouraged to see the growth Expedia has delivered to Argentina hotels over the past year, and we remain confident that by working closely with local properties we can continue to develop strategies for efficiently marketing Argentina as a top destination to the nearly 60 million travelers that visit our sites each month.”

About Expedia, Inc.

Expedia, Inc. is the largest online travel company in the world, with an extensive brand portfolio that includes more than 100 localized Expedia.com®- and Hotels.com®-branded sites; leading U.S. discount travel site Hotwire®; leading agency hotel company Venere.com™; Egencia®, the world’s fifth largest corporate travel management company; the world’s largest travel community TripAdvisor® Media Group; destination activities provider ExpediaLocalExpert®; luxury travel specialist Classic Vacations®; and China’s second largest booking site eLong™. The company delivers consumers value in leisure and business travel, drives incremental demand and direct bookings to travel suppliers, and provides advertisers vast opportunity to reach the most valuable audience of in-market travel consumers anywhere through TripAdvisor Media Group and Expedia Media Solutions. Expedia also powers bookings for some of the world’s leading airlines and hotels, top consumer brands, high traffic websites, and thousands of active affiliates through Expedia® Affiliate Network.  (NASDAQ: EXPE)  For corporate and industry news and views, visit us at www.expediainc.com or follow us on Twitter @expediainc.

Expedia and the Airplane logo are either a registered trademark or trademark of Expedia, Inc. in the U.S. and/or other countries. Hotels.com is either a trademark or registered trademark of hotels.com, L.P in the U.S. and/or other countries. All other trademarks are property of their respective owners.  © 2011 Expedia, Inc.  All rights reserved.  CST: 2029030-50

SOURCE Expedia, Inc.

Capitalizing On The Secular Increase Of Time Spent Online – Herman Leung – Susquehanna Financial Group LLLP

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67 WALL STREET, New York – October 28, 2011 – The Wall Street Transcript has just published its Internet Services Report offering a timely review of the sector to serious investors and industry executives. This special feature contains expert industry commentary through in-depth interviews with public company CEOs, Equity Analysts and Money Managers. The full issue is available by calling (212) 952-7433 or via The Wall Street Transcript Online.

Topics covered: Internet Infrastructure and Services Consolidation – Enterprise Adoption of Cloud Computing – Growing Cybersecurity Demand – Social Networking Economics

Companies include: Blue Coat (BCSI); TJ Maxx (TJX); Yahoo! (YHOO); ATT (T); Akamai (AKAM); Amazon (AMZN); and many more.

In the following brief excerpt from the Internet Services Report, expert analysts discuss the outlook for the sector and for investors.

Herman Leung is an Analyst with Susquehanna Financial Group LLLP. Previously, he was the Vice President, Internet Research, for Deutsche Bank Securities Inc. Before that, he was an Associate at RBC Capital Markets. He’s also held positions with Nextag, Inc., TeleSoft Partners and Thomas Weisel Partners Group. Mr. Leung has a B.S. in finance from the California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo.

TWST: In terms of the online travel space, you have a “positive” rating on Priceline, but you’re “neutral” on Expedia. What’s Priceline doing differently and better than Expedia?

Mr. Leung: I’m generally more positive on the online travel space. I think Priceline is enjoying a lot faster transaction-based growth compared to an Expedia, and it all has to do with Priceline’s positioning in the European market, the Asia Pacific market as well as the Latin American market. Now Priceline continues to enjoy the fragmented nature of the European hotel market, where they have the largest supply, and with the large supply they’re able to buy a larger and more relevant inventory of keywords to drive a very successful marketing campaign for the business for a very long time, and that has kind of entrenched themselves to be in a position to benefit from strong transactions volumes on the hotel side of the business.

Now compared to an Expedia, I think Expedia enjoys a lot of the same kind of dynamics of an online travel agency. But because of their positioning – which is larger in the U.S., where the chain hotels are operating – there is a higher risk because of the concentration of inventory on a limited number of chain hotels, and I’d say that the Expedia business has a lot more legacy technology infrastructure that they’re working to upgrade. So when you’re running on a legacy platform, there are disadvantages associated with scaling and getting the right levels of optimization. So over time, I think they’re working on it, trying to make things better.

TWST: Which of Priceline’s business units is currently experiencing the best growth, and what does that say about which direction the online travel space is moving toward?

Mr. Leung: I think online travel agencies benefit where there are areas of high fragmentation and a need for improved distribution to consumers. I’d say most of the online travel agencies are primarily hotel based, except for Orbitz (OWW). So where Priceline is moving are more geographies, and the focus for both Expedia and Priceline is to do a good job of expanding into Pan Asia as well as Latin America. Now in China, Ctrip (CTRP) basically dominates, for the most part, the China travel market today. But just because of the dynamics in China – where occupancy rates are near 90% plus to 100%, compared to Europe, where it’s more like 50%, and the U.S. is more like the 50% level – the need for online travel agencies is probably a little bit less because they’re able to just fill so much inventory. Ming Zhao, my colleague, covers CTrip in China. So where these guys are going are to geographies that need distribution, and I think Pan Asia, the Thailand, Singapores of the world and India I think are important markets, as well as Latin America, which is still an early-stage market for them.

TWST: Looking at the big picture, what are the risks for Google that investors should monitor?

Mr. Leung: I think with the MMI (MMI) acquisition for $12.5 billion, I would say that could be viewed as a big opportunity. We think the big opportunity is also balanced with plenty of risk and concerns around the hardware business they bought and how it protects the long-term growth of wireless and the Android ecosystem that Google is looking to protect for the long term. Google basically purchased 17,000 patents, a hardware business and a set-top box business for $12.5 billion. There’s little visibility into what Google bought for $12.5 billion other than that. The big focus was on: one, protection from a legal standpoint; and two, to extend the Android ecosystem; and three, to basically have a legal arsenal of patents to basically make potential litigators think twice before trying to sue Google because of its 17,000 patent black box.

The Wall Street Transcript is a unique service for investors and industry researchers – providing fresh commentary and insight through verbatim interviews with CEOs and research analysts. This special issue is available by calling (212) 952-7433 or via
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International travel to the U.S. expected to boom

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Foreigntravelerslax

If you live near a tourist attraction in the U.S., you might want to practice your Mandarin and Portuguese.

International travel to the U.S. is expected to grow by 5% to 6% each year over the next five years, with the greatest rate of growth coming from China and Brazil, according to a new forecast by the U.S. Department of Commerce.

The latest numbers are a revision of a May forecast that said visitation numbers should grow by 6% to 8% annually over the next five years. Department of Commerce officials said they lowered their prediction slightly based on visitation numbers over the last few months.

Still, the projected increase is good news for the U.S. economy, as foreign travelers spend far more per visit than domestic tourists. The U.S. Department of Commerce projects a record 64 million international travelers to spend $152 billion during their stays in 2011, an increase of 13% from 2010.

“More than 1 million Americans owe their jobs to a strong travel and tourism sector,” said Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade Francisco Sánchez. “This record-breaking forecasted growth in travel exports will help put more Americans to work.”

Over the next five years, the greatest number of visitors will continue to be from Canada and Mexico, according to the forecast. But tourism is expected to grow the fastest from China (274%), Brazil (135%) and Australia (94%), the forecast said.

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– Hugo Martin

Photo: Planes from foreign airlines line up at Los Angeles International Airport. Credit: Los Angeles Times

Las Vegas Sands’ Q3 impresses Street, eyes Asia

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Thu Oct 27, 2011 7:24pm EDT

* Macau, Singapore drive Q3 again

* Shares rise 3.5 percent after hours

By Edwin Chan

LOS ANGELES, Oct 27 (Reuters) – Las Vegas Sands Corp posted better-than-expected revenue in Asia and rode a
rebound in U.S. growth on Thursday, calming fears that economic
weakness would discourage leisure travel and gaming.

Sands’ numbers helped dispel fears its Asian cash cow –
Macau — would suffer if China slows or chokes off a lucrative
flow of gamblers from the world’s second largest economy.

In Singapore, investors were taken aback by a 37 percent
surge in “VIP” or high-roller gambling volumes. Back home, its
signature Venetian and Palazzo resorts on the Las Vegas Strip
also outpaced Wall Street’s expectations with 62 percent
earnings growth.

Analysts say Sands heads into 2012 with few costly outlays.
Its sole major expansion will be in Cotai Central in Macau,
which the company hopes will help it catch up with rivals in
the high-margin VIP or high-rollers’ market segment, in which
it admits it lags.

The shares of the company run by billionaire Sheldon
Adelson rose 3.5 percent to $47 after closing at $45.40 on the
New York Stock Exchange.

Adelson told analysts on a conference call he was keeping
an eye on new development opportunities — in particular if
parts of Asia were to open their doors to gambling resorts.

“In Asia, which would be our first choice, it appears as
though Korea and Japan are making louder … and more urgent
moves in the direction of legalizing federal gaming and
integrated resorts,” he said. “If one of those legalizes, the
other one is going to do it in a heartbeat.”

Macau, the only Chinese city to legalize gambling, has been
a boon for Las Vegas Sands, Wynn Resorts Ltd and MGM
Resorts International , which reports results next week.
Rich gamblers from the mainland make up most of the visitors
who flock to the former Portuguese enclave.

Analysts said the concerns, which surfaced in October and
pressured the shares of the three largest U.S.-listed gaming
companies, may have been overblown.

They cite an 18 percent surge in visitor arrivals to Macau,
as well as a 39 percent surge in gaming revenues to almost $2.7
billion in September, according to official data.

“The Chinese are not likely to have a hard landing. They
have more tools at their disposal and are more apt to use
them,” said Bernstein analyst Janet Brashear.

WIPING EGG FROM FACE

Sands, run by billionaire Sheldon Adelson, which derives
most of its income from its Venetian Macau, Sands Macau and
Marina Bay Sands casinos, reported third-quarter revenue of
$2.41 billion compared with $1.91 billion a year earlier.

That exceeded forecasts for $2.34 billion, according to
Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Sands’ U.S. operations — anchored by the signature
Venetian and Palazzo casinos in Las Vegas — also fared well.
Together, those two casinos drove a 62 percent surge in
adjusted operating earnings to $94.3 million in the quarter.

That was dwarfed as usual by the Macau operation, which
chalked up a comparable profit of $388 million, although up
just 16 percent.

Sands’ Singapore arm delivered $414 million, exceeding
internal projections.

“It’s very balanced across all markets,” Brashear said.
“It’s now very geared towards volume growth.”

Las Vegas Sands reported an adjusted net income of $444.8
million, or 55 cents a share, in the third quarter, compared
with $265.2 million, or 34 cents a share, a year earlier.

That exceeded the average Wall Street estimate of 52
cents.

Longer term, Sands has lagged its peers in the VIP — or
high-roller — segment in Macau and is spending to expand its
footprint in that high-yielding market, with results expected
to emerge fully only by 2012.