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Prominent tour and travel companies are enlisting entire Singapore hotel list in its business chart

Singapore is a lusty vibrant island. It is known as one of the most controlled democracy. One should not dare to play with authority or try to engage in drug trafficking which may turned into the death penalty. It is the perfect business city. It has been widely recognized for excellent business and social infrastructure centre. It is politically stable and has favorable economic ties with world economies.

Such global reputation has encouraged several tour & travel company to enlist entire Singapore hotel list in its business chart. Hotels list Singapore is based upon several factors like locality, hotel rating and so on. This island-state is located in the Southeast Asia region and nicely connected with Malaysia by bridges. It is very much influenced with Indian, Chinese and Malay culture as well as influenced with tropical climate. There are endless things to do while you are on the trip to Singapore.

Shopping is a heavenly experience in Singapore. The well designed and colossally built shopping malls in the centre of Singapore are prominently inducing the shopaholics. Usually, stores are open seven days in a week from 10AM to 10 PM. Shops in Orchard Road and Scotts Road remains open till midnight. One can get verities of food in Singapore special quality verity can be found in Malay, Chinese, Indian, Thai, Japanese, French, Italian, American and other foods. Hawker centers can be marked as the cheapest and most liked places to eat. Hence, if one has dream to explore the dynamic Singapore then it is right time to embody the dream. The list of hotels in Singapore is available in verities of ranges from cheap budget hotels to luxury star hotels.

Strategically located Singapore is a sample of perfect amalgamation of wealth and diverse style of architecture. The brilliance of Singapore lays in the sincerity towards implementation the best of west with the flavor of the orient. It is a perfect recreational area which offers myriad of attractions for all age groups. Such attractions may be named as Butterfly Park, insect kingdom and dolphin lagoon. There are several important spots in Singapore like Sentosa Island, Jurong Bird Park, Chinatown, the Asian Civilization Museum and the various temples and churches which are prime attractions of the city.

Thus, one must visit once to explore the amazing mixture of age old civilization and beliefs and modern, contemporary styles where nature and progressive achievements are setting an example of fine compatibility.

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We help you to quickly locate good quality real estate – Residence, Home, Apartment or an office, Industrial land, Buy land around jodhpur. The standard of living in Malaysia is very high Malaysia has a very high and the cost of living is one of the lowest in Asia. The country also offers a very well developed infrastructure, medical facilities, residence options, education opportunities and a vast array of recreation/entertainment options. Many incentives are offered to those looking a second home in Malaysia like a 10-year multiple entry visa, buying a car free of tax. In Singapore and Dubai there are large international business communities that lease apartments, whereas, Malaysia offers relatively cheaper investment alternatives and an emerging market conditions. Though Singapore and Dubai have witnessed large scale infrastructure growth, commercial, retail and residential development, it is difficult to assess the future growth prospects in the coming years.
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Finding Budget Friendly Cheap Hotels in Singapore

Singapore is an island located in the Malay Peninsula. This small island of Southeast Asia is one of the few existing city -states in the world. The mix culture of the Chinese, the Indians, the Malaysians and the Europeans can be seen through out the entire city. This developed city of present time lures a great number of tourists due to its unique universal atmosphere and amusing way of life. Shopping and nightlife life in Singapore are beyond one’s explanation. It can be experienced with utmost pleasure. Making a plan for a holiday trip to Singapore is a great wonderful idea.

The hotels in Singapore are of different types which can easily suite to your budget. If you are thinking to spend more in hotel accommodations then you should go for the best luxury hotels of the town. But in the opposite case there are hotels for those who do not want to invest much on accommodations. Cheap Hotels In Singapore are exclusively designed keeping in mind about the basic needs of a modern day guest, which can come under one’s budget with ease. The city of Singapore is very clean and on the same time due to its tropical climatic condition it’s pleasant to visit in every season.

Discounts Hotels include a variety of luxury hotels which are of star rating in between 1-3. That is why budget travelers or backpackers can also afford the luxury motels in an affordable price. The tastefully decorated hotel rooms are enough to pamper the wishes of the visitors. Don’t plan anything in hurry; take sufficient time to choose the right hotel which can fulfill both your desire and budget. Browse the internet hotel websites of the city and make a deep research of the locations of the hotels, its prices, its features and facilities. Make a firm decision where to stay and then book the hotel seeing its terms and conditions for avoiding any unpleasant event in future. However, the Budget Hotels In Singapore offer all the latest facilities for a comfortable and pleasant stay.

Bugis Street: Experiencing a different side of Singapore.

Bugis Street is one of Singapore’s most colorful areas; following a major government initiative during the 1980’s to clean up the area raunchy image it has been transformed in to an exciting shopping area. During the 1950’s the area was crammed full of traders and small retail outlets making it one of the country’s busiest economic zones. According to legend the area was named after the Buginese people who made a name for themselves as blood thirsty pirates.

A number of small commercial establishments were set up, including a number of outdoor bars; subsequent to this droves of transvestites were seen seemingly to attract the Western tourists. Business blossomed here in Bugis and it fast became the most popular tourist attraction in Singapore during the 60’s and 70’s and the nightly parade of brightly attired transvestite women used to draw in huge crowds.

What remains today in Bugis Street is the great street shopping experience, strict government controls have virtually wiped out the shady businesses. The original Bugis street is now a picturesque cobble stoned avenue squashed in between the buildings of Bugis Junction. Also found in this area is the Bugis Square which is an elegantly paved central square, with a dancing water fountain and a collection of shopping outlets and restaurants surrounding it.

New Bugis Street which can be seen bordering Bugis Street, is a newly created shopping street that was actually developed based on the old Bugis Street. It features a number of narrow alleys lined with stalls selling “pasar malam” or night market goods. This is in fact the only area in Singapore where tourists can experience a bazaar style shopping expedition, bargaining is commonplace here and a number of specialty goods such as traditional clothing, souvenirs and culinary delights can be found.

For visitors looking for a serviced apartment in Singapore, a comfortable accommodation option is the Somerset Bencoolen.

Singapore V Bangkok

Singapore has seen an unprecendented boom in property prices within the last 18 months and whilst there are those amongst you who will not see an obvious comparison between the Lion City and The City of Angels; there are nevertheless, some things that do deserve comparison. Bangkok’s concentration of sought after condiminium developments has until recently largely been centred around Sukhumvit and Ploenchit but despite concerns over transport the Chao Phraya river has now become an area of high interest. Likewise one of the most expensive condiminium projects undertaken in Singapore has been at the mouth of the river.

It is obvious to me why buyers should be looking to these locations. Not necessarily the people who want or need to be in the centre of everything and close to their workplace but the wider circle of buyers, those who wish to own a property in a Capital city as a stopover or those who do not need to be at the business centre of the city. The life of a river is ever moving, particularly in Bangkok where the river is still very much a working river and a hive of activity that never appears dull. Why therefore should a prospective condominium buyer not want to have as his window this great living canvas?

I can recall when London first opened up the great River Thames to residential development and the huge Victorian warehouses were first converted into apartments, and where the riverside did not suit warehouse conversion; modern tower blocks rose in their place. Many thought that the old dockside areas would never be seen as desirable places to live and again there were concerns about transport, however, now multi-million dollar penthouses are common place. This scenario has been repeated all over the world from Chicago to Cologne to CapeTown.

So why compare Bangkok to Singapore?
Because in the price of real estate there is no comparison. Current per square metre selling prices of similar type developments run at about four times the price in Singapore. Yet Singapore is still seen as an attractive proposition to the real estate investor Take a look at a copy of the Straits Times in particular the Sunday edition and see how many real estate agents there are. Now compare two similar ground breaking projects; One Shenton in Singapore and The River in Bangkok. One Shenton had a very successful launch and is being built to a very high specification employing all of the latest technology and positioned overlooking the Straits. The River is a fabulous twintower project designed by Hans Brouwer and being developed by Raimon Land located directly on the river, as the name suggests, next to The Peninsular and opposite The Shangri-La and Oriental Hotels. Both projects have stunning views yet prices of The River start at about 115,000 baht per square metre, a fraction of the prices now being asked for similar apartments at One Shenton. Little wonder The River’s launch has been one of the most successful in Bangkok’s history. It is also worthy of note that much of the interest in The River has come from overseas.Perhaps, at last, the investors are realising that in terms of capital growth Bangkok’s riverside offers much greater potential. There are of course those investors that still see Thailand as a potential risk. Once their doubts are put aside, just watch the prices, like the towers, go sky high!

Budget Hotels Singapore are Nature Friendly

 

The name Singapore simply reminds you the place which offers amazing mixture of age old civilization, beliefs and the perfect amalgamation of modern and contemporary styles. The most important aspect lies in its balancing act between nature and progressive achievement. Here, one can experience wealthy and diverse style of architecture in terms of a lot of museums, houses, shopping complexes, and huge office buildings. These are finely depicting the sincerity of the country towards the implementation of the best with the flavor of the orient. Budget hotels Singapore makes the tour easier even for the first time visitors. Hence the huge tourist inflow can be experience here all around the year.

 

The most enjoyable experience in Singapore is to explore three ethnic groups at one destination; these are the Chinese, the Malays and the Indians. Truly the descendants of Asian migrants have made it a melting point of cultures. This is the place where age old traditions still hold sway. For instance, just visit the china town which retains a rock solid blend of Chinese-ness in form of shops of Chinese calligraphy, antiques and traditional costumes. Similarly, Kampong Glam is the main Malay region. Singapore’s Malays converges here because of their Sultan’s Mosque which is the largest mosque of Singapore. This mosque has a very fascinating history. Little India is another distinctly known destination for the visitors. Serangoon Road is main centre of little India which is located near Tekka centre. One can easily taste here the overwhelming aroma of myriad spices and jasmine garlands. Baffling assortment de-husked coconuts, limes, clay receptacles and the like, all the things are available here which can be used for worship at the temples nearby. These areas are also known as the prominent centre of budget hotels in Singapore.

 

The country Singapore has been prominently managed in disciplined way. Singapore streets plan are the best in the world. You can not get narrow or congested streets here. The whole country has very cool and temperate weather beside the fact that it is almost exactly on the equator. This mystery lies in the method of planting and sculpting of trees in the country. Perhaps, this magnificence is so grand that it can not be covered in the words.

 

Singapore budget hotels are normally those good quality hotels which are available with discounted packages or deals. These hotels are nature friendly and offer perfect relaxation and nutrition especially for your inner senses. If, you are a business travelers then you will simply love these hotels as these offer the best business facilities for the business travelers. Special discount may be offered to students and senior citizens.

Singapore hotels- well renowned for quality and comfort

Singapore, the smallest nation in Southeast Asia, is located at the southern tip of Malay Peninsula. The world’s busiest port of Singapore enjoys the population of Malay, China, India and many other nations. Advanced transportation system, skyscrapers and modern cultural and sports facilities stand second to none in the world. It has gradually turned out to be one of the most developed and wealthiest nations in Asia. The small island of Singapore has earned a good reputation for following several philosophies such as intolerance towards individualism. The country is well renowned for strict social restriction, cleanliness and business like demeanor. All these factors have promoted the growth of tourist and, in turn, Singapore hotels.

Singapore offers wide range of accommodations to its visitors from budget valuable hotels to luxury hotels in Singapore. Majority of luxury hotels in Singapore are located in proximity to several Singapore attractions such as orchard road, Singapore art museum and Singapore botanical garden. These hotels embody world charm and comfort for its visitors along with providing queue of rich amenities like cable television, mini bars and air conditioning.

Star hotels in Singapore, being the host of various delicacies, is considered paradise for food lovers. They offer excellent local delights to many international dishes. Guests in these hotels are pampered with various spa and beauty treatments including therapeutic massages. Well equipped gymnasium and beautiful pool are ebullient offers for hotel patrons. In addition to it, Singapore hotels offer meeting rooms along with audio-video equipments to business travelers.

There are many places in Singapore to offer enjoyment and excitement to its visitors. Its airport is the finest in the world, with great dining, shopping and other amenities. Shopping in Singapore is marvelous, which had made it a premier retailing destination in the world. Orchard road shopping district, raffles business and shopping area and Chinatown are some of the popular places, which are worth viewing.

Intellectually and historically inclined tourists are attracted by world class Singapore museums such as the art museum, Asian civilization museum, Philately museum and Singapore history museum. Orchard road is the best center of tourist activity, which is encompassed by exotic malls selling international brands, coffee bars, multiplexes and specialty restaurants with wine bars. Singapore hotels on this road are filled with luxury and comfort.

Many online booking websites have tie up with luxury hotels in Singapore and eased up the booking services at the click of the mouse for the clients across the world. These sites also avail the various discounts and facilities provided by the hotels.

Looking for Great Property in Singapore? Try a Condo !!!

You have probably heard about the rise in Singapore’s property prices coinciding with the acceleration of the economy. You have also probably heard that because of the changes in various housing rules, acquiring property within Singapore has become easier for those purchasing domestically and from foreign countries.

Singapore Condos are especially a favorite of foreign buyers. Singapore authorities used to have a rule in which a foreign buyer could only purchase an apartment in a building higher than six stories and the apartment had to be classified as a condominium. This rule no longer applies, but has not interfered with condo sales within buildings.

Yet to purchase a condo as a result of what is called Executive Condominium projects (EC), you must be a Singapore citizen or resident and the purchase must take place anywhere between the sixth and tenth year from the date the Temporary Occupation Permit was granted. Any foreigners or corporate bodies who are not permanent residents of Singapore are not eligible to purchase an EC. But the good news is that if you are a foreigner or part of a corporate body, you can purchase an EC if it is in its eleventh year from the date the Temporary Occupation Permit was issued.

So if you are a permanent citizen or a corporate body who wants to purchase an EC, the appropriate action is to locate the developer in that particular area to receive the information you need to make your purchase. If you are a foreigner or corporate body wanting to purchase an EC, you should also check with the developer in the area you are interested in so that you may find what ECs are in their eleventh year and beyond.

But if you want a good condo, you can go the EC route or you can look into apartment buildings that have apartments that are classified as condos. It more or less depends on your citizenship, if you are part of a corporate body that has relocated in Singapore, or what kind of money you are willing to spend. Although property prices within Singapore have seen a rise, that rise is due to the demand and success of the economy, which cannot be overlooked. These successes have resulted in a successful real estate market that involves anything from residential properties to the perfect condo, so be sure to look into purchasing property in Singapore if you are relocating domestically or relocating abroad.

For more information about Singapore Property and Real Estate, please visit our website http://www.propertyguru.com.sg .

Spanish Connection In Singapore Bar And Restaurant Franchise Opportunities

Tapas: uniquely Spanish dishes from the Spanish word tapar which means to cover in Spanish, thought to come about as a result of Innkeepers in bygone days, covering glasses of wine with small plates of cheese or sausage, to stop flies and mosquitoes flying in?

Others say that tapas began to be served at the entrance to Inns, to satisfy the hunger of travellers who would halt briefly on their journeys, but had no time to get down from their horses or carriages even for a bite to eat and a glass of wine: hence, a small snack (the tapar ,or cover) was passed to them on top of the wine for a quick bite and drink!

Whatever the reason for the tapar I promised myself that one day I would open a Restaurant (or two or three), specialising in this wonderful and uniquely Spanish way, of fun dining in sharing these wonderfully simply but incredibly tasty dishes, with family and friends.

Unlike a lot of British citizens, I did not discover Spain until later in life, when I was asked (some twenty years ago), to carry out some work for Shell Espaa as a Consultant in the Offshore Oil & Gas business.
At that time we were based in San Carlos de la Rapita, a beautiful area in the Ebro Delta, Catalunya, where absolutely no-one spoke any English (mainly Catalan) , but where I could get by learning the basics of Castilian Spanish (also useful everywhere else in Spain)!

My travels with Shell took me to the North of Spain (Santander, Gijon…) and to Madrid, where, after this short amount of experience in Spain, I realised what I might have been missing in life!
From that moment on, I immersed myself into the culture of the Spanish, the food, the fiestas, the excitement, the colour, the music, the dance, I embraced it all with a great deal of enthusiasm, and have done ever since.

As a keen amateur cook, I have always tried my hand at the local dishes wherever I had lived, but traditional Spanish dishes blew me away and I absolutely loved the idea of the Tapa, where small tasty dishes can be shared with family and friends; never feeling full always feeling as if you need another bite; such an incredible variety of seafood, meats, chorizos (spicy Spanish Sausage), shellfish, vegetables……..

Hence, many years later and with an apartment in my favourite City of Barcelona, having travelled throughout Spain and with a great deal more business experience; the first Tapas Tree business investments emerged at Clark Quay, Singapore, some four years ago.

Through personal contacts: identifying the correct site for our first restaurant, researching many restaurants overseas for the chefs who could cook my favourite dishes in their truly authentic fashion, designers who could help me simulate the Spanish feel in my restaurants, the selection of products from Spain, wines, etc…….

This gave birth to The Tapas Tree Group business franchise: now with three Singapore restaurants business investments of various size and location operating profitably and looking towards more Singapore franchise opportunities and franchise opportunities overseas; we are by far the most original in South East Asia, for our food, our ambience and our designs, from our hand-made mosaic tables, our eye for getting the Spanish look through the use of terracotta, wrought iron and red brick, to the personal photographs I have on display; not forgetting of course the images of one of Spains most prolific and in-demand Flamenco Dance Photographers, Ana Palma! Our Spanish customers call us, That little bit of Spain, in South East Asia, a title that I am immensely proud of!

Astreem Corporation is the franchise consultants for The Tapas Tree Group who are the franchise opportunities partner for businesses that are looking for franchise business opportunities in the Singapore bar and restaurant franchise market of interest. Astreem is constantly on the lookout for franchise opportunities for The Tapas Tree regionally and internationally.

Are you Ready for the Smerfs?

The SMERFs, a hardy and growing bunch, are travelling Asia for Social, Military, Education, Religious, and Fraternity reasons, offering vast untapped potential for this regions developing and recovering travel markets says Abacus International.

Their reasons for travelling are as diverse as war and peace, study and learning, seeking their god or just to catch up with like-minded people, but what they have in common is a will to travel even if times get tough. They do not mind even gathering in non peak times if it will help keep the costs down.

They are the SMERFS. No relation to their cuddly namesakes of television fame, they are the resilient groups travelling to and around Asia in their millions for social, military, education or religious reasons, or as part of fraternity groups such as alumni, workplace re unions or special interest groups.

Abacus International President and CEO, Mr Don Birch says that despite being budget conscious, the SMERFs collectively form a huge market and have vast untapped potential for developing or recovering Asian travel markets.

Abacus International estimates that the SMERF market across Hong Kong, Thailand and Singapore alone is worth US$1.7 billion a year, based on an accepted US formula that the SMERF market is equivalent to about one third of the total meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions (MICE) market.

Whereas their better known cousins the MICE are serviced by specialist divisions within major hotel groups, travel agencies and dedicated Government programmes, the SMERFS are often below the radar and therefore harder to measure.

They are hardy and budget-conscious travellers which make them ideal for developing or recovering markets or as a complementary segment in peak markets, Mr Birch continued.

The SMERFs helped sustain the US hotel and airline industry in the period following the 9/11 terrorist events, and have shown themselves to be very resilient in the face of international in the face of international events, Don Birch said.

Who are the SMERFS?

The SMERFs are part of a wider trend in the travel market towards more outcome based travel travel for a purpose other than just to see things, and they’re more prepared than ever to travel abroad to achieve their aims according to Mr Birch.

This seemingly diverse group is united by a willingness to travel despite the economic cycle, to go off-peak and even off the beaten track if that is what it takes to track down budget transport and accommodation, Don Birch said.

Social travel traverses the fields of sports, special interest, ethnic, talent and dance organisations, with more and more diverse ethnic and professional associations adding to the growth. Examples include womens groups, volunteer workers and social sports teams travelling domestically or inter country for tournaments.

The growing number of car owners joining clubs in Singapore such as BMW.sg, TeamChevy Singapore and the Toyota Club Singapore, are a case in point. Aside from their regular monthly meetings where enthusiasts exchange tips on the technical aspects their cars, these clubs also serve as a rallying point for trips overseas, either to Sepang in Malaysia for a day of track racing or to other regional destinations for leisure trips. Further afield, fans of the Lord of the Rings have travelled to New Zealand in their thousands to experience in person some of the magic of the film. A guide book to the filming locations has now sold over 300,000 copies becoming the fifth largest ever selling non-fiction book in New Zealand in the process.

The Lord of the Rings has created the largest film tourism event the world has ever seen. Thousands of people have flocked to Middle earth New Zealand to follow in the footsteps of the hobbits and to bring back some of the emotions they felt when watching the film or reading the book, says Ian Brody author of the Location guide, which is selling just as well a full three years after the last movie in the trilogy.

Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) Director of the Strategic Intelligence Centre (SIC), Mr John Koldowski says there is also a well beaten path from India to the exotic film locations of Switzerland and Austria, as fans of Bollywood seek out the sets of their favourite movies.

The social category is a good market for hotel sales staff who want to fill room blocks in off-season and weekend periods, but attracting these bookings is reliant on repeat business, word of mouth from existing customers, and direct marketing to social organisers and providing the right kind of accommodation offers, Mr Birch said.

We used to think about SMERF groups as a market niche for budget hotels and hostel style accommodation, now they use convention and conference centres, university facilities, suburban hotels, downtown hotels, resorts and even unsold apartment complexes.

Military travel

Asias estimated 32 million soldiers are often on the move usually by military transport, but often by civilian travel networks in countries such as Thailand, Taiwan and Singapore. Not surprisingly, the Philippines is one of the largest military travel markets in the region. With its more than 400,000 strong army and vast territory of 7,000 islands, even the coming and going of soldiers on leave is a highly significant market.

While exact figures are difficult to procure due to the sensitivity of military travel, the growing number of websites specialising in military travel in this region, attest to the scale of interest in this market and present a highly focused audience for travel suppliers seeking to reach this market, Mr Birch said.

Education travel

The Singapore experience demonstrates the potential of the education travel market. Prospects for inbound educational travel are promising with the number of international students in Singapore for long-term studies (one month +) growing from 60,000 in 2003 to well over 70,000 in 2005 according to the Singapore Tourism Board. The Singapore Government is targeting to achieve 150,000 international students by 2015, particularly from China, India, Indonesia, Korea, Malaysia and Vietnam.

From summer camps to immersion programmes, travel operators in Asia are beginning to discover the value of outbound educational tourism in the region.

One of Singapores most established travel operators, Chan Brothers Travel, set up its own Educational Travel Centre (ETC) in 2003 to cater to the emerging educational travel market in Singapore, conducting tours for student groups to destinations such as China, England, Germany, Australia and Turkey during the student vacation months of June and December.

Another relative newcomer on the educational tour scene, Wing On Travel in Hong Kong offers English language and activity tours to Britain, Australia, Singapore, Canada and mainland China. Reflecting their commitment to cater to this emerging travel market, the agency decided to create a dedicated educational tour division. The company launched its first study tours in 2004 and this year plans to take 14 groups to Britain alone.

Mr Birch says, This travel segment has a high growth potential but travel operators need to be aware of the challenges inherent in conducting educational tours for school groups. Parents expectations, differences in cultural understanding and catering for homesick young students are just some of the many issues that tour operators will have to address through equipping their staff with the necessary skill sets and expertise.

While students from Hong Kong and Singapore are venturing to foreign shores for a comprehensive educational experience, Indian students are discovering Indias own cultural identity and heritage. Mr P Saravanan, from Viking Tours and Travels in Chennai, South India said that school groups are mainly travelling to experience the history, culture and monuments of other Indian states generally in groups of 25-40 people.

The school groups are very budget in their accommodation needs. That is 1 or 2 star, with as many as 3 or 4 children sharing each room, but they’re definitely a valuable market, because schools come back a number of times, as do families of the children as they grow up, so it is a valuable part of marketing, Mr Saravanan said.

A pioneer in the educational travel segment, Thai tour operator Track of the Tiger has been running educational tours for students from Australia and the UK for more than ten years. Mr Shane Beary, Director, said that the demand for educational programmes at its Maekok River Village Resort & Outdoor Education Centre has been growing at an average rate of 25 to30% over the past five years and recorded 7,500 room nights in 2005. With a market base that has grown to include students from Singapore, Hong Kong, Bangladesh and Thailand, Track of the Tiger now offers programmes at Pang Soong lodge, its new Outdoor Education & Research Centre in Mae On, Chiang Mai, covering a range of environmental, and outdoor programmes for student groups, as well as team building and ‘voluntourism options for the corporate sector.

Mr Beary commented, Our experience has shown that there are many overlaps between educational, volunteer and eco tourism, which we have tried to build on in developing our programmes.

Religious travel

As one of the worlds most populous and largest regions, Asia is also recognised as the birthplace of Buddhism and Hinduism.

Countries such as China, India, Sri Lanka, Taiwan and the Philippines have a cultural heritage steeped in some of the worlds major religions, and government policies to develop joint tourist attractions such as the Buddhist circuit in Taiwan, China, Sri Lanka and India have definitely grown the pie for their respective religious tourism markets,said Mr Birch.

Agreeing, PATAs John Koldowski said, Religious traffic tends to be fuelled by domestic bookings but increasingly, there are more pilgrimages being organised for inbound tourists which usually cover more than one destination. For example, there is a distinct Buddhist circuit such as the Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic in Sri Lanka and a trail covering revered Buddhist sites in India.

With a myriad of religious sites throughout the country, India has an established group of religious tour operators to cater to the many domestic and foreign pilgrims that throng India during the peak travel periods of April, May and November.

Mr Ashok Negi, from Rajarani Travels in Mumbai reports that the tours run by his agency and its network of six branch offices throughout India has facilitated pilgrimages for more than 50,000 tourists to various religious sites in the country. According to Mr Negi, visits to popular religious sites such as Vaishnodevi and the temple at Tirupati constitute as much as 25% of Indias domestic tourism.

Christianity is the other religion fuelling growth in another Asian destination, the Philippines. Having provided its services for more than four decades in Southeast Asias most populous Catholic country, Catholic Travel, Inc. has positioned itself as the Pilgrimage Specialist.

According to Ms. Carmina Orbe, General Manager, most pilgrims are from the Philippines, and they also have pilgrims from Hong Kong, Rome, Canada and Los Angeles not only joining a pilgrimage to the Holy Land (Israel) but having a pilgrimage in the Philippines. Priests that have joined our pilgrimages to the Holy Land have found a renewed inspiration in their vocational work for the community. I guess the visits have brought new meaning to the places and events in the Bible that they had only studied in the seminary previously.

Across Asia, missionary teams are also frequent travellers, with agencies such as World Vision and Youth With a Mission (YWAM), mobilising large numbers of people annually. For example, YWAM Singapore takes approximately 150 volunteers to developing countries in the region such as Myanmar, Indonesia and India, over five to ten such trips every year.

Fraternal travel

Although not as significant a market as educational or religious travel, a growing number of civil associations and groups such as Rotary International and Lions Club International have begun to look towards Asia as a possible destination for their international gatherings.

The Rotary Club held its international convention in Singapore, its first Southeast Asian venue in 1999, and again in Osaka, Japan in May 2004 for more than 45,000 Rotary club members from 96 countries. Lions Club International held its 88th International Convention in Hong Kong from 27 June to 1 July 2005, catering to approximately 20,000 Lions Club members and their accompanying family members and friends. This generated almost US$19 million of direct tourism spending and spin-off business for the retail, catering and tourism-related sectors.

Traditional MICE destinations such as Singapore and Hong Kong have paved the way for Asias rise as a conventions venue on the world stage. This has allowed emerging economies in Thailand, India and Vietnam to offer companies and fraternal associations more variety in their choice of meeting venues Mr Birch said.

Targeting the SMERFs

There are some commonly accepted issues in targeting the SMERF market says Abacus Mr Don Birch. For example recent cost increases in the Asia hotel sector which saw average room rates rise in major cities (for example 17% last year in Singapore) are not good news for SMERFs.

More meetings and higher hotel prices can limit options for SMERFS, but SMERF planners can still find open arms in markets such as second and third tier cities eager to lure back budget groups,said Mr Birch.

For sales and marketing managers within the industry, finding SMERF planners is harder than just finding Association planners.

Seeking local contacts that are affiliated with these types of groups is critical. Local networking is also needed to identify SMERF groups and their planners. Resources such as the research directories of organisations, affordable meetings conferences, and even the personal networks of a propertys employees all have their place in pinning down the SMERFs, Mr Birch said.

The internet also plays a key role as both a research and communication channel for both SMERF planners and sales and marketing teams.

The internet clearly improves the chances of buyers and sellers in the SMERF universe finding a good match on location, venue and the experiences to be offered during the period of travel, Mr Birch added.