Malaysia Seeking Tourists from Iran, Iraq

KUALA LUMPUR ~ Malaysia will grant extended visas on arrival to visitors from Iran, Iraq and Syria, in an effort to attract tourists from those countries, the deputy prime minister said.

Iranian visitors will be eligible to stay up to three months from the current 15 days, while those from Iraq and Syria, as well as Palestinians, could stay one month instead of two weeks, Najib Razak said.

“This is part of our effort to promote the West Asia market and we find there is a lot of interest,” he said.

Internet Use Urged to Boost Tourism

KUALA LUMPUR ~ Governments and private operators should make greater use of the internet to promote Asia-Pacific tourism, the United Nations said, as the industry gathered for its first regional e-tourism conference.

The internet could be used to target tourists directly, rather than depending on tour operators, Arlette Verploegh, of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), said.

“Implementing information and communication technologies in the tourism sector can greatly promote tourism and contribute to growth and empowerment in the region’s tourism sector,” Verploegh said from Kota Kinabalu, in Malaysia’s Sabah state, where UNCTAD and Malaysian tourism authorities were hosted the two-day conference last week.

Qatar Airways Plans Huge A350 Order

PARIS ~ Qatar Airways, which starts flights to Bali later this month, plans to buy 80 Airbus A350 aircraft for about US$17.2 billion, in what would be one of the biggest orders ever for the crisis-hit aircraft maker.

The order would also be a huge boost for the new version of the A350XWB long-haul airliner, in replacement of an earlier project that was abandoned because of disaffection by potential customers.

The chief executive of Qatar Airways, Akbar Al Baker, told the Financial Times that his airline was “on the point of signing” a letter of intent for the purchase of the new enlarged jet.

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