December 2007

The Travel Bug - Issue 34

Air Vanuatu Purchases its first ATR-72 Plane

Vanuatu's national flag carrier Air Vanuatu has signed a deal with French plane manufacturer ATR for the purchase of its first 70-seater turbo-prop ATR-72. The new plane, which belongs to ATR's new –500 series, is expected to be delivered in 2009. It belongs to a new generation of ATR planes which the manufacturers describe as the latest in ATR's turbo-propeller technology, with energy-saving features and a much quieter environment and noise reduction comparable to a jet-type aircraft.

Air Vanuatu's new ATR-72 will be configured to a seat capacity of 70. It is destined to complement the operation of Air Vanuatu's only ATR to date, a 42-seater, which is already operating on routes from the main island of Efate (where the capital Port Vila is located) to Espiritu Santo (North) and Tanna (South). The ATR-42 is also used on a regular basis on connections to neighbouring New Caledonia, the company said. "With the new ATR-72, Air Vanuatu will be in a position to address increasing demand on its regional network", Air Vanuatu CEO Terry Kerr said.

The company was also contemplating extending its regional routes to such destinations as Fiji or the Solomon Islands. In November this year, in neighbouring New Caledonia, the French territory's domestic airline Air Calédonie (AirCal) took delivery of a similar ATR-72 aircraft, which also completed the airline's fleet's renewal process. The new aircraft is configured to carry about 65 passengers. (Source: Oceania Flash News 04 December 2007)

New Tahiti Travel Guide Launched

Avalon Travel Publishing announces the release of the 6th edition of Moon Tahiti, the leading travel guidebook to French Polynesia. Author David Stanley wrote the first South Pacific Handbook in 1979. Ten years later the handbook’s French Polynesia chapter was spun off as a separate guide and Moon Tahiti continues to draw on Stanley's three decades of experience in the region. Moon Tahiti’s 330 pages include dozens of photos, line drawings, and charts, plus a bibliography, glossary, vocabularies, and index. The 54 maps are clearly labeled without the confusing map keys found in other guides. Four maps of the capital Papeete are provided, and this edition contains new town plans of Hauru (Moorea) and Hakahau (Ua Pou) and island maps of Fakarava and Tikehau.

The book’s presentation has been entirely revamped with much of the introductory material moved to Background and Essentials chapters at the back of the book. In Essentials there’s now a Tips for Travelers section with specific advice for those interested in work or study, travelers with disabilities or children, and others with special needs. A new “blue section” in the front of Moon Tahiti features a five-page “Discover Tahiti and French Polynesia” essay with original color photos. Then comes “The Lay of the Land” with introductions to Tahiti, Moorea, and the Leeward, Austral, Tuamotu, Gambier, and Marquesas islands. “Planning Your Trip” in the blue section gives advice on when to go and what to take, while “Explore Tahiti and French Polynesia” offers precise day-by-day itineraries titled “The Best of French Polynesia,” “Underwater in the Tuamotu Islands,” “The Australs: Off the Beaten Track,” and “The Magnificent Marquesas.” “Romance on the South Seas” explores French Polynesia’s sensual pleasures, while “The Life Aquatic” is devoted to scuba diving, snorkeling, and surfing. (Source: I-Newswire)

Social Networking Sites 'should be travel allies'

Online social communities and review sites should be viewed as an ally of the travel industry rather than an enemy, say leading figures. Even negative comments and reviews can be a positive thing for travel companies according to speakers at the European Tour Operators Association conference. Tripadvisor director of brand distribution Nathan Clapton said: "People don't want to read marketing copy, they see through it and want more. They want a balance of positive and negative comments." Clapton added that even if negative things were written within social networking sites on the internet at least travel companies had a chance to respond.

James Dunford Wood, managing director of newly launched service worldreviewer.com said companies could not afford to think of online communities as the enemy. "The power is in the user and we have to accommodate them and learn how these communities work. There is a great opportunity to learn from them and they can help drive your business forward." Dunford Wood also advised travel companies to set up their own blogs and sign up to social networking sites to find out more about them. (Source: Travel Mole)

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