TRAVEL IMPACT NEWSWIRE – Edition 56 (2009) – Thursday, August 20, 2009
1. NEW TOP-LEVEL DOMAIN NAMES SET TO COST US$100K+
Applications are set to open for new Internet domain names that will allow them to end with their own exclusive brand-names, but these could cost anything from US$100,000 to US$500,000, according to the annual Communications Outlook 2008 report issued by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation & Development last week. The report also says that over the span of the four-year period 2005-08, only 80 “.travel” domain names were registered.
Says the report, “In June 2008, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), the corporation that co-ordinates Internet identifiers, approved a proposal to allow the creation of new top-level domains (TLDs). The new policy will allow any entity, with the technical and financial means, to propose a top-level TLD.
“This could enable domains for cities such as “.nyc” for New York, or for certain activities such as “.shopping”, and result in addresses such as “hotels.paris” or “pc.dell”. Applicants will incur a fee of between USD 100 000 to USD 500 000 for each name. ICANN expects to begin taking applications for new TLDs during the second quarter of 2009.” The report says that “the policy is expected to bring new opportunities for users and growth for the domain name industry, but also, raises a number of complex new issues to be considered by the Internet community.”
According to the report, “Growth of domain name registrations remained high in 2008 with 168 million domain names registered by mid-year, up 22% since mid-2007. However, the very high growth of 2005-07 slowed in 2008. A plateau may have been reached, which could signal the beginning of market saturation.” Depending on how a particular TLD is organised, these are either the second-level domain names (e.g. domain names registered under .com) or the third-level domain names (e.g. domain names registered under .co.uk).
Now, says the report, “One major application area is expected to be the creation of TLDs that are focused on a particular company brand. For example, amazon could create a “.amazon” TLD, and use addresses such as “books.amazon”, “trips.amazon” and so on. Businesses will need to decide if this approach has value to them. Some users may also need to consider defensive registrations depending on policy development in this area.
“Another likely application is registrations in newly-created category-focused gTLDs (generic top-level domain),” the report says. “Depending on policy development, additional TLDs may increase the number of domain registrations that businesses might need to carry out. For instance, if someone creates “.espanol” to indicate sites written in Spanish, a business will have to decide whether its Spanish-language Internet presence ought to be accessible via that domain extension, and whether it needs to complete a defensive registration to prevent cybersquatting on its trademark.
“On the other hand, a company or organisation with its own TLD may be less inclined to register second level domain names. In addition, many of the new TLDs are likely to be used solely by their creator rather than open to registration of second level domains by the public.”
Nevertheless, says the report, “it is likely that the established TLDs, particularly “.com”, will continue to overwhelmingly dominate the domain name marketplace in terms of volume. Domains that have been introduced more recently such as “.mobi” or “.biz” are relatively little used compared to .com, .net and .org but have enabled some users to obtain the name of their choice.”
Interestingly, the report indicates that the uptake for the “.travel” domain name has been negligible. At the end of 2008, the number of Internet hosts by domain ending in “.travel” totalled only 80, up from 39 in 2007 and 15 in 2006. However, the figure is a minute fraction of the actual number of travel industry sites worldwide. By comparison, the aviation/aerospace industry had 1,431 domain names ending in “.aero” in 2008, up from 690 in 2007.
Further extracted quotes from the OECD report:
REGISTRATIONS BY DOMAIN
- From mid-2000 to mid-2008, the number of registered domain names increased by 17% on average per annum, with stronger growth in country code top-level domains (ccTLD) registrations than gTLD registrations. Over the past eight years, registrations under the major generic top-level domain (gTLDs) more than tripled, from 28 million in 2000 to over 100 million by mid-2008, while registrations under ccTLDs grew five-fold, from 12 million in 2000 to 65 million by mid-2008. OECD country-related ccTLDs accounted for around 24% of all worldwide domain name registrations in mid-2008.
- The ccTLD market is concentrated, with registrations under the top three ccTLDs representing nearly half of the global ccTLD market in 2008. As of July 2008, China’s ccTLD (.cn) surpassed Germany’s (.de) as the largest, with 12.3 million domains. Germany’s ccTLD is the second largest, with over 12 million names registered in .de and .uk is third, with nearly 7 million registrations. Over the 2006-08 period, China’s .cn experienced average annual growth rates of 200%, compared with 10% for .de and 16 % for .uk. Against the backdrop of slower growth for many ccTLDs in the second quarter of 2008, the most dynamic ccTLDs over the 2000-2008 period were the United States, Spain, Belgium, Poland, and India, in addition to China.
- At year-end 2008, OECD countries accounted for about 82% (2.2 billion out of 2.7 billion) of allocated IPv4 address space. The United States had the largest allocation, with over 1.4 billion IPv4 addresses, reflecting the original development of the Internet in the United States, and the legacy assignments of early US-based networks. The next largest shares of allocated IPv4 addresses were attributable to Japan (6%), the United Kingdom (6%), France and Korea (3% each), as well as Germany and Canada (2% each).
- By year-end 2008, 87% of all available IPv4 Internet addresses were assigned to users. Experts believe that, if current trends continue, IPv4 addresses available for new assignments will be fully depleted by 2011. There is growing awareness within the Internet community and among network operators of the need to increase the use of IPv6. The Internet technical community is discussing ways to encourage an orderly transition to an IPv6-based Internet connectivity model. There is also discussion on ways to manage IPv4 address space exhaustion, including initiatives to reclaim unused address space and of the implications of authorised or unauthorised transfers of addresses between assignees.
SOME FASCINATING FACTS ABOUT THE WORLD OF INTERNET & TELECOMMUNICATIONS
- The worldwide total number of web servers increased by 40% per annum between mid-2000 and mid-2008, with gTLDs .com and .org increasing by 40% per annum and .net by 45% per annum. The fastest growing OECD country-related ccTLDs were .au (Australia), which experienced a 34% per annum growth in the number of web servers recorded, .hu (Hungary) at 63% per annum, .pl (Poland) at 55% per annum, and .be (Belgium) at 52% per annum.
- Over the ten years up to July 2008, the number of secure servers in the world grew at an average rate of 42% per annum. Online trading and services remain most prevalent in the United States, where over half of the world’s secure servers are still located. However, the share of the United States has decreased significantly, from 72% in 1998 to 52% in 2008, as actors in other countries have been increasing their use of secure servers. Japan, the United Kingdom and Germany follow the United States in terms of absolute numbers of secure servers.
- There have been two major growth areas in telecommunication services in the previous two years — mobile and broadband. Mobile and broadband subscriptions together accounted for 74% of all communication subscriptions in 2007. Mobile alone accounts for 61% of all subscriptions while standard phone lines have dropped to 26%. This is a dramatic turnaround from the year 2000 when there were more fixed line subscribers than mobile.
- The total number of fixed, mobile and broadband subscriptions in the OECD grew to 1.6 billion in 2007 for just over 1 billion inhabitants. Mobile subscriptions grew at a compound annual growth rate of 10% over the previous two years to push the number of OECD mobile subscriptions to 1.14 billion by 2007. This is an effective penetration rate of 96.1 mobile subscribers per 100 inhabitants. Italy had the highest penetration rate with 151 subscribers per 100 inhabitants and only nine countries had less than one subscription per person.
- Mobile revenues overall have grown 10% each year since 2005, reaching USD 492 billion in 2007. Mobile revenues accounted for 41% of all telecommunication revenues in the OECD in 2007, up from 22% just ten years earlier. Mobile is the dominant revenue source in a number of countries. In Japan, for example, mobile accounts for 71% of Japanese telecommunication revenues, accentuating the high level of mobile development there. Ten countries now have mobile sectors which are larger than the fixed sector in terms of revenue.
TELECOM MARKETS ‘RESILIENT TO ECONOMIC SHOCKS
- Telecommunication markets are relatively resilient to economic shocks. The largest economic downturn in the previous 15 years was between 2001 and 2003, when OECD GDP growth fell below 2% per year. The bursting of the dot-com bubble and subsequent bankruptcies created problems in the telecommunication sector but the number of subscribers continued increasing at a steady pace.
- Several characteristics of the telecommunication sector such as the increasing view that communication services are increasingly non-discretionary spending items, long contract durations and bundled services help explain why operators are relatively well insulated from economic downturns. Consumer and business users increasingly include telecommunication spending in the “non-discretionary” category of their budgets. For example, job seekers may view Internet access at home as a key tool for finding new employment. Telecommunication providers also tend to set contract durations at periods of 12 months or longer as a way to recover the costs of the equipment they provide for use when a contract is signed. Mobile phone operators subsidise consumer handsets and recover the costs over the period of the contract, typically 12-24 months. Broadband providers often have a similar contract structure due to the cost of user premises equipment and installation. Consumers typically face steep penalties if they choose to cancel a subscription before the end of a telecommunication contract.
- Prices have tended to fall for communication services over time on all platforms. Over the previous 18 years, residential users saw the real price of residential fixed-line phone service fall roughly 1% per year while business prices fell 2.5% per year. The widespread availability of voice-over-broadband services continues to push down fixed- line calling prices. Many voice-over-broadband plans now offer flat-rate calling plans nationally or internationally.
- Mobile subscribers also benefitted from declining prices between 2006 and 2008. The average prices of the OECD mobile baskets (a set number of calls and messages per year) fell by 21% for low usage, 28% for medium usage and 32% for the highest consumption level over the two year period.
- Prices may be falling but the composition of voice calls is also shifting. The number of minutes of communication per mobile phone is increasing while the minutes on fixed networks are decreasing. Data between 2005 and 2007 suggest people are making fewer domestic calls on the fixed network in most countries. When people do use fixed networks they are increasingly making calls to users of mobile phones.
INCREASED INTERNET USAGE MEANS INCREASED ATTACKS
- However, greater levels of Internet usage may account for higher levels of attack traffic. For example, six of the ten countries contributing the highest attack traffic (the United States, China, Japan, Germany, France, and Korea) were also among the countries advertising the highest numbers of IPv4 addresses in the global routing table. The fact that attack traffic originates in certain countries may also have to do with those countries’ hosting market, including the hosting of underground economy servers. For example, Symantec identified the United States as the top country for hosting underground economy servers in mid-2008.
- In 2008, China and the United States were consistently among the top countries of attack origin as measured by Akamai. They together accounted for half of attack traffic measured in the fourth quarter of 2008, with respectively 23% and 19% of attack traffic originating in each country. The difference between them and other countries was significant. Sweden was third with 11%. Other countries represented less than 4% each.
- The position of other countries varied significantly from one quarter to the next. For example, from 4% in the first quarter of 2008, Japan was the origin of 30% of traffic in the second quarter of 2008 down again to only 3% in the third quarter and 2% in the last quarter. The top 10 countries accounted on average for 66% of the measured attack traffic.
2. AUSTRALIA TAKES MEASURES TO SAFEGUARD EDUCATION FOR OVERSEAS STUDENTS
Canberra, 19 August, 2009 - The Minister for Education, Julia Gillard, today warned education providers that they risk being shut down if they don’t comply with rules relating to international students. Ms Gillard was speaking in Parliament at the introduction of an Amendment Bill to the Education Services for Overseas Students (ESOS) Act 2000.
Under the new rules being considered by the Parliament, all institutions currently registered on the Commonwealth Register of Institutions and Courses for Overseas Students (CRICOS) will be required to re-register under new, tighter criteria by 31 December 2010. The Bill adds two new criteria for registration: the provider must have the principal purpose of providing education; and the provider must have demonstrated a capacity to provide education of a satisfactory standard.
The process will allow the Government to review the registration of education providers to ensure they are providing quality education services to international students visiting Australia. Most providers are doing the right thing, but this change will help weed out the shonky operators.
The state governments have already started rapid audits of providers, and these will be extended so that all providers working with international students will need to show they have the best interests of the students at heart and not simply a profit motive. The Bill will also introduce new processes to ensure greater transparency and accountability of international education providers, including their use of education agents.
The amendments are the first in a series of measures the Australian Government is taking to ensure Australia continues to offer quality international education. The Government has also announced a full review of the ESOS Act to be headed by Bruce Baird with an interim report due in November. International students will be able to have their say at the upcoming International Student Roundtable in September.
3. INDIA’S AIRLINES, HIT BY SLUMP, LIKELY TO GET FUEL TAX RELIEF
New Delhi, August 13, 2009 – India’s Ministry for Civil Aviation is looking into reducing the pricing and tax burden of aviation turbine fuel (ATF) to help reverse a steady decline in flights and airline passengers.
The Civil Aviation Minister Mr Praful Patel said after a presentation to the Union Cabinet on the state of the civil aviation sector that the Government has decided to form a Group of Ministers (GoM) to consider the issues of (i) Sales Tax on ATF which is levied by the states and varies from state to state; and (ii) reduction of base price of the ATF by Oil Marketing Companies to bring it at par with international prices.
The Minister said the Aviation Sector experienced a 20% average annual growth between 2003-04 and 2008-09, with passenger numbers growing from 28.5 million in 2003-04 to 70.1 million in 2008-09, the number of aircraft from 158 to 396, domestic departures per week from 5,108 to 11,048 and consumption of ATF from 2,484,000 metric tonnes to 4,455,000 metric tonnes.
Stressing the contribution of aviation to national economic development, the Minister said that the $14 billion + aviation industry is almost similar to Indian railways ($18 billion). It provides substantial benefits to allied industries like tourism, hospitality, banking, commerce and industry; improved connectivity results in higher GDP growth; Rs.100 spent on air transport produces benefits worth Rs.325 for the economy and creates approximately 2,00,000 direct and 12,00,000 employment potential.
The Minister told the Cabinet about India’s huge potential to increase aircraft penetration compared to Asian countries. While India has now become the 9th biggest aviation market, it still is one of the least penetrated markets. India has 0.02 trips per capita as compared to 0.1 of China and 2.2 of USA. With over a 300 million strong middle class, the demand is expected to increase by 8.5% per annum till 2015.
Mr Patel said that in 2006, the aviation had witnessed a high growth rate of 46.4%, and 32.5% in 2007. However, in 2008, the growth turned negative at –4.7%. The growth for Jan-July 2009 was –4.9%. The number of flights during Jan-July 2009 reduced by 12.5% year on year – or 9,677 flights per week. This decline resulted in losses of connectivity and flight frequency especially to smaller cities, loss of premium and budget travelers, loss of jobs and reduction in employment opportunities. The industry losses in 2006-07 is pegged at Rs.2,000 crores and in 2007-08 at Rs.4,000 crores. In 2008-09, the expected losses are pegged at approximately Rs.8,000 crores.
The Minister pointed out that ATF is the single largest element contributing to airlines cost. It accounts for 40-45% of the operating cost of Indian carriers compared to global average operating cost of 25-30%. A reduction of even Rs.1000/KL translates to a saving of Rs.300 crores. In one year, ATF prices have risen by 99.6% while HSD and petrol prices rose by 14.9% and 17.9% respectively.
The Sales Tax on ATF in different states varies from 4% to 30%. It is 0% in Andaman and Nicobar, 4% in Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra (other than Pune and Mumbai) and Rajasthan, 20% in Delhi, Goa, Haryana, Jharkhand, Manipur, Mizoram, Orissa, Punjab, Tripura, Uttranchal, Daman & Diu, Arunachal Pradesh, 21% in Nagaland, Uttar Pradesh and J&K, 22% in Assam, 25% in HP, West Bengal and Maharashtra (Mumbai and Pune), 28% in Karnataka, 29% in MP, Bihar, Tamil Nadu and Kerala and 30% in Gujarat.
The Minister also informed the Cabinet about the necessity to allow Airports Authority of India to float Tax Free Bonds for Rs.5,000 crore to meet its 11th Plan commitments. He also spelt out the need for Government support for Air India by way of equity infusion to strengthen Air India equity base from the present level of Rs.145 crores and to facilitate the conversion of high cost debt into low cost debt. However, the latter two issues will be considered separately by the Government and will not be considered by this GoM.
4. JAPAN INBOUND, OUTBOUND TRAVELLERS BOTH IN DECLINE
(Source: Japan Travel Marketing, August 2009 newsletter)
NUMBER OF JAPANESE OVERSEAS TRAVELERS IN MAY 2009
The Japan National Tourist Organization announced that the total number of Japanese overseas travelers in May 2009 was 1,032,000, an 18.6% decrease over May 2008.
For April, an increase in Japanese visitor arrival is seen only with Korea (+7.4%), as a result of depreciation of Korean Won against Japanese Yen. A continuous decrease was seen in the Japanese arrival to Canada (-48.4%), Australia (-24.0%), New Zealand (-41.8%), and some countries in Asia; China (-15.0%), Hong Kong (-26.4%), and Singapore (-29.9%). Swine flue (H1N1), coupled with declined personal income, discouraged Japanese to travel overseas to reduce Japanese international traffic in May and after.
Narita International Airport reported that the number of Japanese departures in May 2009 was 550,673 down 20.5% from the same month of the year before. Kansai International Airport recorded 208,905, (-21.3%), and Central Japan International Airport 106,546, (-25.2%).
NUMBER OF INBOUND TRAVELERS IN MAY 2009
According to the JNTO, the number of international visitors for May 2009 was 486,100, a 34.0% sharp fall from the same period of the previous year. Following factors continue to deter the tourist traffic to Japan; financial crises, the depreciation of major foreign currencies against JPY and additionally, the spread of swine flu in Japan. An increase of tourist arrival was only seen with France (+1.1%). From Korea, visitor arrival to Japan was down 48.5% from May 2008, Taiwan -47.9%, China -34.0%, and Singapore -40.8%. The recent depreciation of KRW against JPY remains to be a discouraging factor for Koreans to visit Japan.
GROSS SALES OF MAJOR COMPANIES (OUTBOUND TRAVEL PRODUCTS)
Gross sales in outbound travel of the top 50 travel companies were approximately 137 billion JPY in May 2009. It has decreased by 33.8% from the same month of the previous year largely due to the concern for swine flu (N1H1). Gross sales of outbound package tours in May 2009 were 49.8 billion JPY, decreased by 19.1% from the year ago, while total number of tourists on package tours decreased by 9.1%.
HOW THE DOWNTURN HAS IMPACTED ON JAPANESE CONSUMER SPENDING
By: Keiko Wakahara, Senior Consultant, JTM
Saving is in fashion these days but not everyone is actually compelled to lead hard time in their living. According to a "YOMIURI Shimbun" poll, 54 % of the respondents complained of being straitened in life circumstances now, compared with a year before. The percentage jumped up from the December 2006 figure of 25% for the same questionnaire. This figure is the second highest only after 59 percent in February 1980 just after 2nd Oil Crisis. 78 percent of the respondents felt uneasiness about their own and family's jobs now and in future. 68 percent reduced spending, compared with a year before. The reasons for reduced spending include; "no hope for income increase (58 %)", "concerns for their old ages, including the amount of pension they will receive, health care and nursing care (48 %) " and "hardly feel comfort in life (47%)".
More than half complained of being financially straitened. In fact, many companies in the export-oriented industries, such as automotive or machinery, have cut down wages and bonus, lay off temporary employees and even terminated employment of some workers. Some of the Japanese companies were so strained as to have their wages reduced and lose the jobs.
In the meantime, the survey revealed that 46 percent people were not feeling financially straitened. 43% of the respondents find their present life circumstances "unchanged" compared with a year before, 0.6% "better-off and 2.2 % "somewhat better-off". On the other hand, 78 percent have a concern for their future life.
This report will further examine the behaviors of the people who are not financially straitened.
The Japanese families are segmented by the level of their family expenses from "the wealthiest layer who can spend money just as they want)", "the relatively wealthy layer who can purchase any goods and services they want but with some restriction on amount and timing" to "the layer who cannot afford to by buy what they want because of a priority payment on a housing loan", "The layer which compelled to lead hard time in their living without steady income". The price of "Things they want" differs in wide range from cheap to expensive. The wealthier the layer is, the higher the price of items they want.
There is not complete correlation between affluence of the family budget and the amount of annual income. Some pensioners are quite wealthy with affluent financial assets, while some high income earners may not have a large amount of disposal income as they have to pay a large amount monthly on home loans.
This is apparent when you think of a family already paid off their home loans. They can afford to spend on what they want with the money they used to allocate for the loan payment. Suppose the payment used to be 100 thousand yen per month for example, the family can afford fancy clothes or one day trip or going to the theater instead of its payment.
Today's consumers tend to buy the food in the grocery stores rather than department stores and choose the economical private brand than national brand.
At department store, the sales of cosmetics, which had kept growth hardly affected by recession before, started to decline from December 2008. Even the sales of confectionery, the only product category that kept growing since 2007, fell into negative growth in February 2009.
The winners today are UNIQLO (low priced clothing retail) and NITORI (low priced furniture shop), both of which offer quality products at low prices.
Let us summarize how consumers behave in an economical recession?
When layoff of workers and cut down of the salary occur, people begin to feel great anxiety toward their employment and their future and their consumption shrinks with following behaviors;
- Sorting their wants into what they still feel justified to spend their money and what they don't
- Reducing the consumption of items that can be alternated by something else that is cheaper
- Choosing lower priced products
- Changing their shopping behavior to what they can do without much patience and sacrifice;
- Using discount coupons, or point cards
- Purchasing at the outlet stores or discount stores.
- Shopping at discount timing; bargain sale or time sale
Mentioned above are the behaviors of the people when they are financially straitened. Today even the wealthy people have begun to follow such saving mood of financially straitened people.
The people whose income has not decreased are now reducing private consumption. This tendency is likely to magnify the recession at the moment.
5. GLOBAL ECONOMIC RECOVERY "HAS STARTED": IMF CHIEF ECONOMIST
Source: Xinhua. August 19, 2009 -- The global economic recovery "has started," International Monetary Fund (IMF) chief economist Olivier Blanchard announced in an article released Tuesday. "Sustaining it (the recovery) will require delicate rebalancing acts, both within and across countries," Blanchard said in an article entitled "Sustaining a Global Recovery." The article will appear in the September issue of the IMF's Finance & Development magazine.
Blanchard cautioned that predictable models based on past recoveries from recessions would not apply to the worst global slump in seven decades. "In normal recessions, however disruptive they are to businesses and jobs, things turn around predictably. The current global recession is far from normal," he said.
"The world is not in a run-of-the mill recession. The turnaround will not be simple. The crisis has left deep scars, which will affect both supply and demand for many years to come," he observed. More and more data released recently indicate that the ongoing recession is coming to an end. Many economists expect that the U.S. economy, which is at the core of the financial crisis, will rebound in the third quarter of this year.
Blanchard said sustaining the nascent recovery is likely to require delicate rebalancing acts, both on national and international levels. An understanding of the issues at stake and the dangers as well as coordination between countries are likely to be as crucial during the next few years as they were during the most intense part of the crisis.
6. UN REITERATES CALL ON ISRAEL TO EASE TRAVEL & ACCESS RESTRICTIONS IN WEST BANK AND GAZA
Aug 19 2009 -- A senior United Nations official today repeated the world body’s appeal to Israel to ease restrictions on the movement of Palestinians and of goods in the West Bank and Gaza, and urged the prompt resumption and conclusion of Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations.
In recent months, Israel has improved access in some West Bank areas, helping with efforts to boost living conditions and spurring economic growth, Oscar Fernandez-Taranco, Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs, said in an open Security Council meeting. Nablus’ Chamber of Commerce, he said, has reported a “slow, albeit significant, revival of commercial activity since the beginning of the year.”
Israel also announced that as of 5 August, it has expanded passenger crossing hours at Allenby Bridge, which the UN hopes will ease the flow of potentially hundreds of thousands of Palestinians visiting the West Bank. Welcoming the Israeli Government’s actions and statements that it intends to take further measures to alleviate movement and access problems, Mr. Fernandez-Taranco told the 15-member Council that “this is essential if change is to become truly transformative.”
Nonetheless, “significant obstacles” persist in the West Bank, with the total number obstacles currently numbering 614, he added. Economic growth in the West Bank would be greatly aided, he said, by the removal of permit requirements for Palestinians to travel into the Jordan Valley, and improving access to East Jerusalem and boosting permits for Palestinian workers for Israel, among other actions.
In Gaza, 87 trucks have been allowed in per day, compared to 78 in July, but prior to the imposition of the comprehensive closure regime, 475 trucks were entering Gaza daily as part of normal commerce and trade, the official pointed out. “Today, the overwhelming majority of imports are limited to food and sanitation items, with still little or no entry for all other goods, including items for recovery,” he said.
However, there has been some progress, with Israel allowing the shipment of 100,000 litres of diesel and 40,000 litres of gasoline for private use into Gaza for the first time in 10 months. Cement and steel bars were also permitted to enter. “While welcome, these measures are not sufficient to meet the needs of Gaza’s civilian population,” Mr. Fernandez-Taranco emphasized.
A report published earlier this week by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) underscored that the ongoing Israeli blockade of the Gaza Strip, now in its third year, has triggered a “protracted human dignity crisis” with negative humanitarian consequences. “At the heart of this crisis is the degradation in the living conditions of the population, caused by the erosion of livelihoods and the gradual decline in the state of infrastructure, and the quality of vital services in the areas of health, water and sanitation, and education,” adds the report.
The blockade, imposed following the Hamas takeover of Gaza in June 2007, includes the closure of Karni, one of the largest and best equipped commercial crossings; sweeping restrictions on the import of industrial, agricultural and construction materials; the suspension of almost all exports; and a general ban on the movement of Palestinians through Erez, the only passenger crossing to the West Bank.
“The denial of Palestinians’ right to leave Gaza, or to move freely to the West Bank, particularly when their lives, physical integrity, or basic freedoms are under threat, is another key component of the current human dignity crisis,” the report said.
7. INTERESTED IN THE AMERICAN INDIAN, ALASKA NATIVE TOURISM MARKET?
If so, please consider attending the 11th Annual American Indian Tourism Conference on September 20-23, 2009 in Santa Fe, New Mexico. This year’s conference theme is: “Building Native Tourism: Pathways for Change.”
The Conference offers two and a half days of practical information with national and international experts in the tourism industry focusing on Native American tourism, networking, and inspirational speakers. Presentations include the latest data on international travel to Native American sites in 2008 by the Office of Travel & Tourism Industries and additional presentations by the U.S. Department of Commerce Travel & Tourism Team members who work with the tribes. Mobile workshops including Puye Cliffs, High Road to Taos, Bandelier National Monument, and eight Northern Indian Pueblos will also be offered this year.
The Hilton Santa Fe Golf Resort at Buffalo Thunder is this year’s Conference. An architectural wonder completed in 2008, the Buffalo Thunder Resort features signature works of Native American art and world class golf, dining, gaming and shopping.
A complete program; registration information; hotel and travel details; sponsors, exhibitors, and artisans; mobile workshops; conference contacts and more have been posted on http://www.aianta.org/aitc
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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.
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By: Executive Editor: Imtiaz Muqbil.