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Tourists Avoiding U.S.

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    Officials say travel to US down sharply because of post 9/11 entry requirements WASHINGTON (AP) - Top Bush administration officials said Wednesday that
    Message 1 of 1 , May 2, 2004
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      Officials say travel to US down sharply because of
      post 9/11 entry requirements


      WASHINGTON (AP) - Top Bush administration officials
      said Wednesday that restrictions on the entry of
      foreigners have prompted many to shun travel to the
      United States since 2001. They recommended that the
      constraints be reviewed.

      "This hurts us," Secretary of State Colin Powell said,
      citing a 30 percent decline in overseas visits to the
      United States over 2 1/2 years. "It's is not serving
      our interests. And so we really do have to work on
      it."

      Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge said the
      security benefits derived from the post-Sept. 11
      restrictions have had unwanted economic side effects.

      Powell and Ridge made their comments in testimony to
      the House Judiciary Committee.

      Powell cited the example of a Harvard Ph.D. candidate
      from China who returned to his homeland to attend a
      wedding but was unable to resume his studies for
      months because he had neglected to reapply for
      permission for the return trip.

      "People aren't going to take that for very long, and
      when the word gets out to others, they will start
      going elsewhere," Powell said.

      The number of foreign students in the United States is
      down as are visits by scientists, businessmen and
      others, he added.

      Rep. William Delahunt, D-Mass., said the Boston area
      he represents normally attracts large numbers of
      foreign scholars but there has been a "dramatic
      decline" since 2001.

      "I am very concerned," he said.

      Ridge said the increased scrutiny of foreigners
      wishing to visit the United States was understandable
      in the post-Sept. 11 climate. But, he said, "two years
      have elapsed. We've seen the consequences of some of
      these changes. We have to be serious about reviewing
      them."

      While stressing the need for making travel
      restrictions less onerous, Powell and Ridge defended
      the administration's recent request for a tightening
      of rules affecting millions of visitors from 27
      friendly European and Pacific nations.

      Earlier this month, the administration asked Congress
      to require for the first time in years that travelers
      from these countries be fingerprinted and photographed
      before entering the United States.

      Under the administration's proposal, the requirement
      would be in effect until Nov. 30, 2006 -- two years
      later than originally planned. By that time, the 27
      visa waiver countries will be expected to have
      so-called "biometric passports" for its citizens.

      Such passports will include fingerprint and iris
      identification features that make the documents
      virtually impossible to counterfeit.

      Since January, travelers from most foreign countries
      have had their digital photographs and fingerprints
      checked against U.S. security data bases.

      http://www.wokr13.tv/news/national/story.aspx?content_id=773401D1-
      3B83-43F1-B7DB-7A02F3875DDB

      ======================


      Malaysia Adopts Honeymoon Package To Woo Arab Tourists


      Malaysian tourist infrastructure makes it a good place to visit


      By Kazi Mahmood, IOL Southeast Asia Correspondent

      KUALA LUMPUR, April 26 (IslamOnline.net) - In a bid to boost its
      tourism sector, the Malaysian Tourism Ministry mulls promoting visits
      to the Asian country as a beautiful and peaceful state, by
      introducing a honeymoon package to attract tourists from the Arab
      countries.

      Local travel agencies are already working on the modalities and on
      the how to promote the idea of Malaysia as a `honeymooners paradise'
      since the country anticipates an influx of tourists from Arab
      countries this June.

      The newly appointed deputy Minister of Tourism Ahmad Zahid Hamidi
      informed the Press in Malaysia Sunday, April 25, that his Ministry
      was working on such a package and that the country expected a rise in
      tourists from Arabia this year.

      Malaysia will participate in the Arab Travel Mart in Dubai on May 2
      and plans have already been drawn on how to attract this segment of
      the young tourist market from that Gulf state.

      The target market for "the honeymooners scheme" will be Dubai and
      other states in the United Arab Emirates, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and
      certainly Jordan, IOL was told by a tourism Ministry official Monday,
      April 26.

      Tourists from the Middle East usually flock to Malaysia after the
      month of May, visiting the largely Muslim nation with their families
      and staying for at least a week in lavish hotels in Kuala Lumpur and
      Selangor.

      "Malaysia is a preferred market for Tourists from the Middle East
      since the September 11, 2001, events in the U.S.," said Bashirah
      Farhan, who works in the tourism industry in Kuala Lumpur.

      She said to IOL that her company expects a steep rise in arrivals
      from the Middle East and that the current government campaign to
      market Malaysia as a favored destination for young tourists will
      boost arrivals from that particular region this year.

      She also said that there might be an increase of 20 to 30 percent in
      arrivals from Arab countries this year due to the relative peaceful
      environment the tourists enjoy in Malaysia.

      "Malaysia has enough quality hotels, excellent public transportation,
      and food, especially Halal food, is everywhere to be found. That is
      what Muslim tourists want and Malaysia is one rare country in Asia
      that offers all the three elements all year round," said Najamudin
      Sahid, a hotel owner in Selangor.

      "The deputy Minister has said that he hoped our hotels are also ready
      to handle tourist arrivals from Arab countries. Well, I think most of
      them are ready waiting for the tourists," he said.

      "We have good hotels, nice ones for newly married couples the only
      thing is the pricing must be the correct ones and the facilities in
      some areas must be upgraded.

      "The Arab tourists, young or old, would surely like extra privacy and
      for newly married couples, this applies well. Hence, we have to give
      these couples extra privacy too," said Najamudin.

      Tourism is the third major sector of growth in Malaysia and its
      development in the past 10 years has boosted the Malaysian hotel and
      tourism sectors with high growth rates, except in 1997-98 when the
      economy slumped due to a currency crash.

      In 2004, the Malaysian government has vowed to make tourism one of
      its bigger foreign currency earners.

      More than a hundred thousand tourists from Arabia visited Malaysia
      last year, which experts in the industry says is still too little for
      all the efforts made by Malaysia to capture this market.

      "Malaysia needs to do more to get more Arab tourists to be here all
      year long, this is a great opportune time and the response from the
      Arab tourists too must be reciprocating," said Najamudin to IOL.

      Total Incoming arrivals increased to an approximate 13.3 million in
      2002, about 4% up, while Outgoing departures by Malaysians fell in
      2002 to 29.8 million.

      In 2003, the accommodation market experienced severe oversupply and
      occupancy rates have been severely affected due to the SARS crisis.

      The Malaysian government has this year urged the state governments to
      prepare tourism brochures to promote Malaysia as the preferred
      destination for tourists.

      The authorities wish to have more tourist visits in other states of
      Malaysia, including Terengganu which is known for its enchanted seas
      and lakes.

      There are no official figures yet to indicate the gross income
      Malaysia generated out of Tourism in 2002-2003, but industry sources
      say that the sector's growth did not slow down since 2003.

      *********************************************************************

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