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Tourist arrivals to the tsunami-hit destinations such as Maldives, Thailand, Sri Lanka and Indonesia may surpass in winter 2005 compared to winter 2004, World Tourism Organisation said. "Reconstruction and revival plans in the region are being implemented at a quick pace. Some travel trade representatives expect demand will be back to normal or even be better than it was before the tsunami in the 2005/06 winter season," said WTO secretary-general Francesco Frangialli.
Maldives, Thailand, Sri Lanka and Indonesia are now showing strong signs of recovery, WTO said. Bookings are picking up, hotels are reopening and airlines are flying back to affected areas. Hoteliers and airlines are offering substantial discounts and German operators have launched special offers.
“About 80% of affected hotels are open again,” Frangialli said.
One positive sign, for example, is that arrivals through Bangkok International Airport actually increased by 12% in the first two weeks of February after a 19% drop was recorded in January, he added.
The Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) said 2004 was a record year for the Asia-Pacific region with 309 million international arrivals.
"This is the best ever ... things really are beginning to move," said Pata market research chief John Koldowski. “Asia is bulldozing everyone.”
India and China were major growth markets last year. They are forecast for strong increases in 2005.
Asia is forging ahead as the power-house of the world’s travel industry after arrivals smashed all records last year. Even the effects of the Indian Ocean tsunami have failed to halt its seemingly unstoppable growth.

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