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November 2014 Travel News & Alerts

01 November 2014

Embassy Closures for the Month of November

Please be informed that the following embassies will be closed in November on the specified dates:

1. Bangladesh Embassy: 4th November 2014

2. Cambodia Embassy: 5th-7th November 2014

                                  9th November 2014

3. Canada Embassy: 11th November 2014

4. China Embassy: 7th November 2014

                           11th November 2014

5. India Embassy: 4th November 2014

                          6th November 2014

6. Japan Embassy: 3rd November 2014

                            24th November 2014

7. Mexico Embassy: 20th November 2014

8. Myanmar Embassy: 6th November 2014

9. Pakistan Embassy: 3rd to 4th November 2014

10. Russian Embassy: 3rd - 4th November 2014

11. Turkey Embassy: 3rd November 2014

                             10th November 2014

12. United States of America Embassy: 11th November 2014

                                                       20th November 2014

                                                      27th November 2014

 

No visa applications will be processed during this period.

For further information please contact your travel manager.

2 New IHG Airport Hotels in Dubai

IHG - Logo

 

InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) announced the signing of a franchise agreement with Abjar Hotels International for a new 450-room Holiday Inn Dubai World Central and 250-room Staybridge Suites Dubai World Central. The two hotels will be located in Dubai World Central (DWC), along the main route to the Al Maktoum International Airport and a stone's throw from the current terminal. 

Holiday Inn Dubai World Central will be the fifth Holiday Inn property to open in the UAE, offering travellers to the city an inviting, familiar environment where they can relax and enjoy themselves.

Located next to the new Holiday Inn hotel, Staybridge Suites Dubai World Central will be the first franchised property under the brand in the Middle East. The new Staybridge Suites hotel joins two other Staybridge Suites properties openining in the next three to five years across the UAE.

Ideal for business travellers or those seeking a home away from home during their holiday, Staybridge Suites Dubai World Central will feature a mix of spacious studios, one-bedroom and two-bedroom suites designed to create a homely residential environment to meet the needs of extended stay guests. The suites will feature fully-equipped kitchens, entertainment and communications facilities, and separate working areas with complimentary Wi-Fi. Guests staying at Staybridge Suites Dubai World Central can also enjoy the food and beverage options available at the neighbouring Holiday Inn Dubai World Central.

 

For further information please contact your travel manager.

Vietnamese Multiple Entry Visas

Please note that the Vietnam Embassy has resumed acceptance of the 6 Month Multiple Entry Visa from 28th October.

This is an update from August when the embassy has put a restriction on processing of such visas.

 

Please note the following requirements when applying for the visa:

a. Application form

b. Copy of passport detail page

c. Copies of previous Vietnam visas (Applicant must have travelled to Vietnam before on a previous visa)

d. Copy of Singapore PR or Employment pass

e. Local company letter

f. Vietnam invitation letter

g. Flight itinerary

 

Please be advised that The Vietnam Embassy will hold the passport or paper visa for 1 working day before the visa can be released.

 

For further information please contact your travel manager.

Sydney Airport's SkyTeam Lounge and Plaza Premium Lounge to open in December

By year’s end, passengers flying Sydney will be able to use the pay-to-enter lounge located at the International Terminal, T1.

It will be the first ‘pay-in’ lounge for Kingsford Smith Airport, although Plaza Premium has previously stated it would build two lounges.

The Plaza Premium brand of lounges are aimed at passengers on airlines which have no lounges or lounge-sharing agreement at Sydney, as well as travellers in premium economy or economy who lack sufficient frequent flyer status to gain entry to an airline's own lounge.

Guests typically pay a one-off entry fee for up to a two-hour stay which includes free wi-fi, food and drinks, usually with an additional fee for use of the showers.

At the same time in Sydney’s Airport, the SkyTeam lounge is set to be completed this December. Located next to gate 24, it is able to hold 150 travellers who are travelling the alliances airlines. 

British Airways fly A380 to Singapore

 

British Airways A8028th October, British Airways flew its fifth A380 route to Singapore. The British flag-carrier's superjumbo already flies to Los Angeles, Washington DC, Hong Kong and Johannesburg and is competing head to head with Singapore Airlines who serviced London-Singapore route on the Airbus.

The A380 will fly three days a week on the daily BA11/12 service: from Singapore to London its designated flying days are Wednesday, Friday and Sunday, with the London-Singapore service operating on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday.

The other four days of the week will remain being operated on the Boeing 747-400, with the daily Boeing 777-300ER service (BA15/16) between London and Sydney via Singapore continuing as usual.

 

For further information please contact your travel manager.

The Latest Hilton at Changzhou

On the 22 October, Hilton Worldwide announced the opening of Hilton Changzhou, a milestone for the company as the 50th property opening in Greater China.= The hotel features 299 contemporary guest rooms and suites, offering panoramic views of the entire city from its floor-to-ceiling windows. Hilton Changzhou is operated by Hilton Worldwide and owned by Jiangsu Future Land Real Estate Co., Ltd.

Situated at the heart of the historic Wujin District, Hilton Changzhou is conveniently located within walking distance from shopping malls and entertainment venues. Just 11 kilometers from the city center and Changzhou Railway Station, Hilton Changzhou is also just minutes away from attractions such as China Dinosaur Park, Yancheng Safari Park and the Mystical Yancheng Chun Qiu Dream Show.

Hilton Changzhou features two pillar-free Grand Ballrooms, measuring 1,500 square meters and 800 square meters respectively. Whether the occasion is a large international conference or exhibition the highly trained and dedicated team will work to ensure a successful and memorable event. The hotel's business center provides full corporate facilities and 24-hour services to meet guests' business needs, including computers, copy machines, printers, printing services, telephones and postal services.

Hilton Changzhou features a broad range of modern recreational amenities, including a heated 25m indoor pool, a well-equipped fitness center featuring an aerobic room as well as a state-of-the-art golf simulator. The hotel also offers five food and beverage venues.

Hilton HHonors members will be able to earn and redeem points for their stay. To mark the opening, the hotel will offer Hilton HHonors members an extra 1,000 bonus points per night on the best available rate through stays completed from October 15, 2014 to January 15, 2015.

Hilton Changzhou is located at No.68 Hongbei Road, Wujin District, Changzhou, China.

For further information please contact your travel manager.

IHG expands Holiday Inn Express presence in Indonesia

InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) has opened the doors to Holiday Inn Express Jakarta Pluit Citygate in the Indonesian capital. With the addition of this 297-room property, travellers can now choose from two Holiday Inn Express hotels in Jakarta, making a total of five Holiday Inn Express hotels situated in city-centre locations across the country.

With Soekarno-Hatta International Airport just 15 minutes away, Holiday Inn Express Jakarta Pluit Citygate is a smart choice for travellers transiting through the city. For Golfing enthusiasts, Damai Indah Golf and Country Club is nearby for those who wish to hit the greens.

Holiday Inn Express provides on-the-go travellers with exactly what they need from a hotel stay with the reliability of an international hotel brand and no unnecessary frills. With a choice between contemporary queen or twin guest rooms, the hotel also offers:

• Free and fast Wi-Fi available in all guest rooms and throughout the hotel to stay connected with those who matter all day, every day

• Free Express Start™ Breakfast or a Grab & Go option for an energising start to the day

• A comfortable and restful sleep with high quality bedding and a choice of firm or soft pillows

• Refreshing power showers with a three-function massage showerhead and fluffy towels to keep revitalised

• Self-service business centre and laundry room

• A 24-hour fitness room to enable guests to upkeep their fitness regime away from home

Holiday Inn Express Jakarta Pluit Citygate is the tenth Holiday Inn Express Hotel in Southeast Asia and the fifth in Indonesia, following the successful openings of Holiday Inn Express Semarang Simpang Lima, Holiday Inn Express Jakarta Thamrin,Holiday Inn Express Bali Kuta Square and Holiday Inn Express Bali Raya Kuta in ten months.

For further information please contact your travel manager.

600th Accor Property in Asia

Accor has reached the milestone of 600 hotels in Asia Pacific, with the signing of a new Pullman in Hong Kong.

The company has penned a management contract for the existing Park Lane hotel in Causeway Bay, which it now plans to bring into its upscale Pullman portfolio. And the addition is doubly significant, as it marks the Pullman brand’s 50th hotel in Asia Pacific.

Accor first arrived in Asia Pacific in 1982 with the launch of the Novotel Orchid Singapore. It took the company 14 years to reach 100 hotels in the region, but between 1997 and 2007 the company’s Asian portfolio tripled in size to over 300 hotels. In the past six years, Accor has doubled that network to 600 hotels.

For further information please contact your travel manager.

Qatar Airways now on INTERPOL’s I-Checkit Initiative

To enhance international travel security, Qatar Airways has partnered INTERPOL to use the world police body’s I-Checkit system to screen the passports of its passengers against INTERPOL's Stolen and Lost Travel Documents (SLTD) database.

Qatar Logo

Qatar Airways is the first full-service airline to use I-Checkit, joining low-cost carrier AirAsia in piloting the INTERPOL initiative which allows select partners in the travel, hotel and banking industries to send their clients’ travel document information to be screened against the SLTD database.

Through I-Checkit, partners such as Qatar Airways send the passport numbers of passengers via secure channels to be compared against INT

ERPOL’s SLTD database, which contains more than 43 million records of lost or stolen travel documents from 168 countries.

The Head of INTERPOL highlighted the tragic disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 in March 2014, with the presence of two passengers who used stolen passports to board the flight as a turning point which caused government officials, terrorism experts, law enforcement, the media and private citizens to be aware of the dangers presented by individuals travelling on stolen passports. The Secretary General Noble applauded the recent decision of the Council of the European Union calling on its member countries to systematically check all passports against INTERPOL’s SLTD database at their borders, and to ensure their records of lost and stolen passports are promptly shared and reported to INTERPOL.

 

 

New Visa Waiver Programme System when travelling to USA

Singapore is currently under the Visa Waiver Programme (VWP), which allows travellers to by-pass the Visa application process when visiting the U.S. Countries under VWP are only required to request a travel authorization through Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) website prior to their departure. The ESTA is managed by The U.S Customs and Border Protection (CBP).

With effect from 5th November 2014, those seeking to travel to the United States from countries in the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) will be required to provide additional data fields of information in the travel application submitted via the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA).

According to a statement made by the US Embassy, DHS Secretary Johnson on 3rd November 2014, The new information sought includes:

1. Additional passport data

2. Contact information

3. Other potential names or aliases

 

This step is taken so as to enhance the security of the Visa Waiver Program and to learn more about travelers from countries who do not require a visa. The US embassy is confident that these changes will not hinder lawful trade and travel between the United States and their trusted foreign allies in the Visa Waiver Program.

Kindly note that individuals with a current and valid ESTA do not need to reapply. However, upon the expiration of that ESTA or expiration of the passport, a new ESTA with the new data fields will be required for any future travel under the VWP.

 

You may wish to refer to the following links at the relevant Department of Homeland Security web pages:

http://www.dhs.gov/news/2014/11/03/statement-secretary-johnson-security-enhancements-visa-waiver-program

http://www.cbp.gov/travel/international-visitors/esta/enhancements-to-esta-faqs

 

For further information please contact your travel manager.

Etihad flies to Hong Kong

Etihad Airways will launch its first direct flights to Hong Kong next year on 15 June 2015, the long-awaited new service will operate four times a week, direct from Abu Dhabi.

The outbound night flight will depart the UAE capital every Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday at 2140, arriving into Hong Kong International Airport (HKIA) at 0940 the next morning. The return leg will then leave HKIA at 1920, arriving back into Abu Dhabi International Airport at 2350.

All flights will be operated using a two-class, 262-seat Airbus A330-200 aircraft with 22 seats in business class and 240 in economy.

The new service will operate alongside the existing three weekly flights between Abu Dhabi and Hong Kong offered by Etihad’s partner, Air Seychelles, offering a combined daily service on the route. Hong Kong is Etihad’s fourth destination in China, following Beijing, Chengdu and Shanghai.

The new route also forms part of a major expansion plan for Etihad. In addition to Hong Kong, the UAE national carrier has also unveiled plans to launch five other routes for the first half of 2015, including Kolkata, Madrid, Entebbe, Edinburgh and Algiers.

Accor takeovers Hilton in Melbourne to become Pullman Melbourne on the Park

The long-standing Hilton on the Park hotel will leave the Hilton group to become the Pullman Melbourne on the Park hotel from January 1 2015, under the ownership of Accor.

The 419-room property sits within walking distance of the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG), Rod Laver Arena, Hisense Arena, Olympic Park and AAMI Park, allowing easy access to events such as the Australian Open and the Ashes Series.

It’s also at the eastern end of the Melbourne CBD for business travellers, with the centre of the city just a short journey away.

From the New Year, the prior Hilton HHonours Diamond lounge doors will be converted to Accor Le Club for Platinum members, who have access regardless of the room type booked or received. Accor Le Club members will be able to earn points when staying at the Pullman Melbourne on the Park hotel, with eligible members receiving their usual benefits such as free room upgrades and Internet access, in addition to lounge access for Platinum guests.

The Hilton South Wharf hotel remains an option for Hilton HHonors members heading to Melbourne, with a centrally-located DoubleTree by Hilton Melbourne hotel opening its doors in December. The Pullman Melbourne on the Park will become the second Pullman in the Victorian capital, following the newly-renovated Pullman Melbourne Albert Park hotel.

For further information please contact your travel manager.

Emirates Chauffer Drive Service Counter at Changi Airport

Due to the Terminal 1 Car park’s closure Emirates now have a Chauffer Drive Service counter. Passengers will be directed to this counter after Custom clearance at the Arrival Hall and the Duty staff will then call and inform the Drivers to drive to the Pick Up point to meet the passengers.

 

For further information please contact your travel manager