Friday, July 29, 2011

Google Launches Hotel Search Tool With Room Price Data

Google has launched Hotel Finder, an experimental search tool, which enables users to define key lodging preferences in hopes of finding the perfect hotel for their travel needs.
Users input their preferred location, dates, price and rating details, and Hotel Finder delivers its top recommendations, in a list or on a Google Map. For the moment, it’s only available in the U.S.
Here’s how Google aims to improve hotel hunting with this tool:
  • Finding the perfect location. If you’re not a local, it can be difficult to figure out what area of a city you should stay in. Hotel Finder highlights popular areas on the map results. Google calls this the “tourist spotlight,” and it is used to determine an optimal zone for you to stay in. The shape of this area can be adjusted to focus on a smaller area. This is useful if you’ve got a rough destination in mind, such as along the Hudson River or near Times Square.
  • Getting a good deal: Users can choose a price range to search within, as well as compare that hotel’s historical pricing data to its current listing price. Clicking on a hotel will bring up the cost of a room per night and how that compares to previous prices. Google calculates what percentage the cost is above or below the normal. Bargain hunters, start your engines.
  • Comparing hotels: Hotel Finder simplifies comparative shopping. When users click on on a hotel, its full details pop up, including photos, Google Places reviews, pricing and other information. You quickly flip through results by using keyboard shortcuts (“J” and “K”) within the list view — a feature also found in Google Reader and Google News.
  • Making a shortlist: Users can build a shortlist of hotels they’d like to compare further. These results are marked with a red dot in the Google Maps view, and appear at the top of the page in the list view.
Click on the “Book” button in either view and a list of external options are shown. Clicking on a booking option pulls up that site — such as Priceline or Expedia — in a new tab. (Google isn’t getting into the business of booking hotels itself.)
Take a look at Hotel Finder’s features in the gallery below, test it out and let us what you think about the new tool in the comments below. How does it compare to other hotel-shopping methods?

Source : Mashable
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Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Helicopter Tour Package New Tourist Attraction In Malaysia

Tourists can now enjoy scenic bird's eye views of the country from a helicopter tour.

Six travel agencies will be offering the high-end tour service initially under the 1Malaysia Helicopter Tour Packages which were launched by Tourism Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ng Yen Yen at the Skypark Business Aviation Centre, Sultan Abdul Aziz Shah Airport, here.

"The helicopter tour packages are expected to attract more high-yield tourists, which in turn will increase the tourism industry's contribution to our economy," she told reporters after the launch.

She said tourists would get to view the magnificent architectural wonders, historical landmarks, cities, buildings, villages and plantations in Malaysia from above via the helicopter tours.

"The tours range from 15, 30 to 60 minutes and priced from RM1,250 to RM4,950, with the helicopters able to seat three to six people," she added.

The six travel agencies involved in the tour packages include Shajasa Travels & Tour Sdn Bhd, Elite Luxury Vacations (M) Sdn Bhd, Langkawi Helicopter Xtours and Kota Kinabalu Aerial Tour.

Dr Ng said the helicopter pilot should be a good story-teller to explain and promote the country to tourists.

She said the 1Malaysia Helicopter Tour Packages were part of the ministry's initiative to come up with innovative and creative tourism products to cater to diverse tourists' interests and budgets.

Source : bernama
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Malaysia To Attract More High Yield International Business Travellers

Malaysia wants to attract more high yield international business travellers to the country as they spent three times more than leisure tourists, says Zulkefli Hj Sharif, Chief Executive Officer of the Malaysia Convention & Exhibition Bureau (MyCEB).

In a media briefing here today, Zulkefli said international business tourism visitors spent an average of RM7,418 per trip in Malaysia compared with RM2,257 for leisure visitors.

International business travellers also spent an average of RM1,268 per day compared with RM337 for other travellers.

MyCEB was established by the Ministry of Tourism in 2009 to further strengthen Malaysia's business tourism brand and position for the international meetings, incentives, conventions and exhibitions (MICE) market.

Zulkefli said 1,278,014 international business travellers visited Malaysia in 2010, an increase of two per cent from 2009.

They were estimated to have spent RM10.6 billion in 2010 and the economic impact value of their spending was estimated at RM17.6 billion, he said.

Given that the average length of international conventions is 3.9 days, the length of stay for international business tourism visitors including pre- and post-touring is 5.85 days.

An estimated 46 per cent of international delegates extend their stay for pre and post travel providing benefits to regional communities and that an estimated 25 per cent of all international participants have an accompanying partner or spouse with them.

Last year, Malaysia leapt three notches to 28th position in the latest International Congress and Convention Association (ICCA) country rankings and the government is pushing for the country to be one of the top five destinations in the world by 2020.

In 2010, MyCEB supported 28 convention bids representing 38,500 delegates and an economic value of RM438 million. It also assisted 124 meetings and conventions, 16 exhibitions and 49 corporate incentive groups, which contributed an estimated economic impact of RM775 million to the country.

Zulkefli said the latest ICCA rankings reflected growth by Malaysia's association meetings business amidst competition from other countries.

Key developments include the expansion of the Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre by an additional 10,000 sq metres by end-2013, the Penang International Convention and Exhibition Centre by 2014 and the proposed development of the MATRADE Centre (93,000 sq metres) by 2014.

Other new infrastructure to support the growing industry include the upcoming Kuala Lumpur International Airport, the integrated urban mass rapid transit system and the construction of a series of pedestrian walkways throughout the capital city as part of the Greater Kuala Lumpur plan.

Source : Bernama
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Monday, July 11, 2011

Street Demos Hamper Tour Programmes

The two street demonstrations held here yesterday forced tour agencies to cancel or shelve city programmes for visiting foreign tourists for fear of their safety.

Sri Sutra Travel Sdn Bhd said it took precautionary measures to avert any inconvenience for tourists under its charge.

Managing director Datuk Syed Mohd Razif Al-Yahya Syed Yassin said the tourists were confined to activities in the vicinity of their hotels yesterday.

He said the street demonstrations would have given the tourists a bad impression of Malaysia and it would take some time for them to pick Malaysia as their travel destination again.

He also said that wide coverage of the street demonstrations by the international media was also bad publicity for the country.

The Association of Bumiputera Travel and Tour Agents (Bumitra), which has more than 300 members, said the closure of several major roads in the city to thwart the demonstrators had jeopardised several tour activities and affected the income of agents.

Its president, Mohd Ayub Hassan, said the association, in keeping with a directive from the Tourism Ministry, had given preference to the safety of tourists and kept them away from the "sensitive" spots during the demonstration.

Tourism Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ng Yen Yen had said a week ago that it would take the ministry six months to restore confidence in foreign tourists regarding their safety when in Malaysia.

She had also said that the uncertainty caused by the bad publicity on the street demonstration would slash tourist arrivals and cost national revenue by as much as RM1 billion.

Source :Bernama
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Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Malaysia Expects More Tourist Arrivals From Middle East

Malaysia expects more tourist arrivals from middle eastern countries despite some of then having problems currently countries, said Tourism Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ng Yen Yen.

Though the ministry couldn't set any target on the number of arrivals from those countries, she hoped that it would be more than 320,000 arrivals this year.

She said Malaysia recorded 322,000 arrivals from the middle east last year and they each tourist spent around RM7,400 during their visit.

"The middle east tourists tend to spend more, stay longer and do more shopping compared to other tourists," she told a press conference at the Al-Amar Lebanese Restaurant in the Pavilion here Monday.

Dr Ng said overall, the ministry recorded that RM2.36 billion were spent by Arab tourists last year.

"We hope the market will go up. In fact, the ministry is doing lots of promotional programmes for the middle eastern market through advertisements in CNN, websites and the local Arab televisions.

"Apart from advertisements, the ministry is using its tourism directors in Dubai, Jeddah and Iran to promote Malaysia's tourism products," she said.

Earlier, she launched The Arab Ramadan Festival themed "The Blessings Of Ramadan, 1Malaysia" to be held during Ramadan at i-City in Shah Alam.

Source : Bernama
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