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Egypt uprising brings tourism to a halt

Tunisia bets ‘revolution’ will boost it

Tunisia’s tourism industry recorded a sharp drop in activity during January, but authorities expect a public revolt that toppled the country’s President during the same month to appeal to more visitors.
   Tourism receipts in 2010 inched up 1 per cent from their level the previous year to 3.5 billion dinars (US$2.48 billion) with around 7 million tourist arrivals, Tourism Minister Mehdi Houass told reporters last week.
   Tourism is the country’s top foreign currency earner and employs 400,000 people, making it the second biggest employer after agriculture.
   Thousands of tourists were evacuated as protests reached a head in January though hotels say January was the middle of the low season for the Mediterranean country.
   “The sector was down 40 per cent in January but we are very optimistic for the first six months of 2011,” he said.
   “The revolution has made our country known to the whole world ... I think it is a good promotion ... We want to tell all our friends that they can come to Tunisia in a atmosphere of peace (and) freedom,” he added.
   Tunisia plans to boost security and introduce “innovative products” to boost the industry this year, Houass said.
   The North African country is among the continent’s leading touristic destinations.
   The uprising against President Hosni Mubarak has delivered a body blow to Egypt’s lucrative tourist trade. Visitors are the country’s principal source of foreign exchange, and tourism accounts for 7 per cent of Egypt’s gross domestic product.
   In normal times, which these most decidedly are not, winter is the height of the tourist season. With a respite from soaring summer temperatures, the cooler months are the most popular for taking languid cruises on the Nile, visiting desert oases, touring the majestic temples of Luxor or snorkeling and scuba-diving among the Red Sea coral reefs.
   Yet in a country where one in nine people make a living from visitors, even some of those with the most to lose from the upheaval cannot quite bring themselves to denounce the rebellion.
   In the fragrant confines of the California Perfumes Palace, within view of the Giza pyramids, Ahmed Ali uncorked his scented wares — “Try the Cleopatra oil!” — and talked of the need for change.
   “It’s bad for us,” he said of the tumult. “But it’s a happy time for the people. In the end, Egypt will be a stronger country, a better country.”
   Egypt’s vice president, Omar Suleiman, told state television that the ongoing unrest had cost Egypt $1 billion in tourism revenue. Some analysts thought that estimate was a conservative one.
   The State Department advised US citizens to avoid travel to Egypt and to leave as soon as they could do so safely. Last week, about 2,300 Americans have crowded aboard evacuation flights organized by the US Embassy in Cairo. Commercial flights, which were disrupted at the height of the turmoil, are flying in nearly empty and flying out full.
   In some parts of the country, the events unfolding violently in the capital seem a world away, and tourist operators would like their clientele to think of them that way.
   At one hotel in the Red Sea resort of Sharm el Sheikh, guests noticed that a few days into the protests, a big flat-screen television disappeared from a coffee nook just off the opulent lobby. Waiters explained it was broken.
   —Agencies

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GMG launches shuttle bus service
for Ctg passengers

Holiday Report

Bangladesh’s largest private carrier, GMG Airlines has introduced a shuttle bus service between Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport in Dhaka and Chittagong offering its passengers the option to take a direct route to the port city.
   The service will be available at a cost of US$27 for a one way ticket.
   The new service is aimed to greatly enhance convenience for passengers who will be travelling or lives outside Dhaka.
   The 32-seat fully air-conditioned bus started its journey at 10.00 pm on February 1 from the airport for the first time and reached Chittagong at 8.00 am on February 2. The passengers wishing to catch GMG’s Saudi Arabia flights from Chittagong can avail the GMG bus from Shyamoli bus counter in the port city at 10.00 am everyday.
   The shuttle bus service will facilitate the GMG passengers who are travelling to Jeddah and Riyadh to reach Chittagong without waiting long time at the airport. The bus will also provide service to the GMG’s Chittagong passenger to catch their Jeddah and Riyadh flight.
   Shahab Sattar said, “This unique bus service is a part of GMG’s commitment to provide best possible service to its valued customers residing outside Dhaka for making their journey more comfortable.”
   “As we have recently inducted our second Being B767 into our fleet, we will expand our routes by introducing more new aircrafts and offering world class service to our customer to become the most preferred airlines in this region,” said Sattar.
   GMG Airlines, owned by the industrial conglomerate Beximco, started operations on April 6, 1998. It began with domestic services and launched international flights in September 2004, with flights between Chittagong and Kolkata.
   With eight international and five domestic destinations, GMG Airlines has got a total number of 234 flights per week. GMG’s international route consists of Kuala Lumpur, Bangkok, Kathmandu, Kolkata, Karachi, Dubai, Jeddah and Riyadh. In Domestic operation it serves Dhaka, Chittagong, Cox’s Bazaar, Sylhet and Jessore.
   GMG Airlines now operates with three Canadian Bombardier Dash-8 on domestic and Kolkata routes. Besides it has two Boeing B767-300 and three McDonnell Douglas aircraft for the regional operation.

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Dhaka Regency holds Pitha Promotion

Holiday Report

This winter, Dhaka Regency celebrated the tradition of pitha making by holding a three-day promotion at its Grandiose Restaurant on Level 6. From February 3 to 5, 2011, guests enjoyed the opportunity of having piping hot winter cakes every evening from 7:00 pm – 11:00 pm with the regular dinner buffet at Tk 1385 plus taxes or at a separate buffet at Tk 500 plus taxes only.
   Winter is an especially wonderful time for having delicacies such as freshly tapped date juice, slabs of unsullied date brown sugar, and especially, steaming pithas. More than anything else, a Bangladeshi associates winter to pithas. These traditional winter cakes were the highlight of the winter mornings in one’s home.

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New ‘Khazana Mithai’ outlet
opens at Gulshan 2

Holiday Report

Khazana started its sweetmeat outlet at Gulshan Avenue which was widely welcomed by people. Taking inspiration from the response to the first store, “Khazana Mithai” outlet has been opened at Taher Tower, Gulshan- 2 Circle.
   Superior ingredients are used to prepare a whole range of traditional sweets for the outlets in a hygienic state-of-the-art central kitchen. The new outlet will specially cater to the wedding ceremonies and corporate sector with the specialty mishtis, all wrapped in the distinct traditional warmth of Khazana hospitality.
   Avishek Sinha, Head of Operations of Khazana said, “Khazana Mithai now brings you a new array of desserts with the season’s freshness and flavor. We bring to you several varieties of mouth watering sweets, made from the very best Nolen Gur and purest cow milk during the this season. The flavour, sweetness and fragrance of Nolen Gur sets off a celebration of desserts made with it, for which people wait through the year.”
   Some of the specialties available the new outlet are: Assorted Gift Box, Motichur-ke-Laddu, Kaju Barfi, Son Papri, Rasmalai, Chamcham, Gulab Jamun, Kalakand, Motipak, Chanar Payesh, Rajbhog, Rosogolla, Sugar-free Sponge Rasogolla and Mishti and Plain Doi.

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Emirates apologises after 35 wheelchaired pax left stranded

Dubai’s Emirates Airline has apologised after 35 wheelchair passengers, including British athlete Baroness Carys Davina Grey-Thompson, were left stranded for an hour on a connecting flight from New Zealand.
   Baroness Grey-Thompson, a British Paralympian and sports commentator, told the BBC she and 34 fellow disabled passengers were left on their plane for an hour after arrival at Dubai International airport from New Zealand as Emirates staff struggled to transport all passengers to the terminal using just one wheelchair. “You kind of feel you’re having your dignity taken away,” Grey-Thompson, who has won eleven Olympic gold medals and won the London Marathon six times, said.
   She added that, as a result of the delay, some of the passengers missed their connecting flight to the UK.
   “Emirates apologises for the inconvenience caused to passengers travelling on flight EK419 from Christchurch to Dubai,” an Emirates spokesperson said.
   The statement said “dedicated lifting equipment and ample personnel were immediately deployed as part of the preparation to assist the passengers to disembark but when the aircraft landed there was an unforeseen delay in accessing the passengers’ wheelchairs from the aircraft.” Emirates added it had planned to disembark the passengers using a parking stand but due to a medical emergency on another incoming aircraft it was forced to park the plane carrying Grey-Thompson and transfer passengers to the terminal in a bus.
   —Agencies

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AirAsia CEO Fernandes awarded CBE

AirAsia Group CEO and Malaysian entrepreneur, Tony Fernandes has been awarded a Commander of the Order of the British Empire by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.
   The citation says the award was conferred “for services to promote commercial and educational links” between the United Kingdom and Malaysia.
   Fernandes, together with three partners, took over the loss-making AirAsia from a Malaysian government-linked company in December, 2001. In just over nine years under his leadership, AirAsia has soared to become one of Asia’s largest low coat airlines.
   In 2007, he founded sister airline AirAsia X, the low-cost, long-haul carrier. AirAsia X launched flights between Kuala Lumpur (LCCT, Sepang) and London (Stansted) in 2008. AirAsia X now flies to numerous destinations around the world.
   — Agencies

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