Top travel moments of 2013

FROM the anniversary of the Everest climb to airways that charge per weight, the release of films that put tourism on the map and lots of travel awards, 2013 has brought a range of tourism experiences to the Asia-Pacific region. 

January

Qantas Airways passengers between Cairns and Port Moresby watched a large python clinging to the wing of a plane during a two hour flight in January. Unfortunately the three metre snake was dead on arrival. Read more.

The ASEAN Tourism Forum (ATF) held its annual tourism conference in Laos in January with a focus on the development of eco-tourism in the region. The host country, itself underdeveloped and therefore quite unspoiled, plans to develop sustainable practices and become a player in nature tourism. Read more.

McDonalds agreed to let some of its Australian operations change the name of the popular family restaurant to Maccas, in honour of the popular slang term used in the country. The change was only evident over the Australia Day period but had American reporters asking questions. Read more here.

February

It may have been Valentines Day around the world on February 14, but in Japan they actually celebrate this exactly one month later and call it White Day, an observance day when women give chocolate to men and they return the favour. It’s not the only interesting observance in Japan. There are 15 such days in the annual calendar. Click here to read more.

March

TripAdvisor’s list of the world’s top 25 destinations highlighted eight diverse locations in the Asia Pacific for their culture, style, food and nightlife. Among them were Sydney, Bangkok, Queenstown and Shanghai. To see which other places ones made the cut read more here.

Chiang Mai, Thailand. Pic: AP.

April

Samoa Air became the first airline in the world to introduce pay by weight tickets for its international flights with prices determined by the weight of the passenger and their bags. Previously the airline had introduced the same system for its domestic flights. No one has refused to be weighed yet. Islands in the Pacific have the highest rates of obesity in the world. Read more.

May

Nepal celebrated the 60th anniversary of the first ascent of Mount Everest on May 29. The achievements of Sir Edmund Hilary and Tenzing Norgay Sherpa were honoured by Mount Everest Diamond Jubilee celebrations in Kathmandu and at a party under the shadow of the mountain itself. However many fear their success has created an industry that is now ruining the peak. Read more.

A photo taken on May 23, 2013 of mountaineers on the summit of Mount Everest. Photo: AFP

The capsule hotel experience in Japan swings to the fore, reducing the hotel world to a miniature version. Read more.

Capsule hotel rooms. Pic: AP.

June

Peter Jackson’s first installment of The Hobbit trilogy begins to make an impact with tourism to Middle Earth, aka New Zealand, after its release in December 2012. Figures released by Tourism New Zealand showed international visitors to New Zealand rose 10 percent between January and April in 2013 compared to the same period in 2012. Their survey also showed 8.5 percent of visitors listed the movie as one of their traveling reasons and 13 percent took part in hobbit-themed tourism like visiting a film set.  Read more.

 

TripAdvisor listed the world’s top 25 landmarks of which five were in Asia including Angkor Wat and the Taj Mahal. Read more.

 

Angkor Wat Photo: Luciano Mortula, Shutterstock.

July

Condenast’s Readers’ Choice Surveyranked Asian cities among the world’s friendliest. Seven out of the top 10 cities were in the Asia-Pacific and included Hobart, Thimpu, Queenstown, Paro, Margaret River, Mandalay and Ubud. Read more.

Hobart. Pic: cntraveler.com

August

Burmese icon and ‘Moustache Brother’ Par Par Lay passes away after an illness, a huge blow not only to the transition to democracy in Burma/Myanmar but also to tourists who made the nightly trek to Par Par Lay’s house to see him perform, along with other members of his comedic trio. Read more.

From left to right: Lu Maw, Par Par Lay and Lu Zaw. Pic: From the Facebook Page for the Moustache Brothers.

Thailand considers introducing compulsory travel insurance for foreign visitors, partly thanks to the burden of costs in treating foreign visitors, some who can not or do not pay their hospital bills. The 500 baht insurance package was proposed as a way to combat these costs. Read more.

September

Tokyo is awarded the 2020 Olympics to cheers of “Banzai” as Japan outdid rivals Istanbul and Madrid. Despite the recent nuclear disaster Tokyo clearly won the final round with strong public support. Read more here and here.

Japanese celebrate after Tokyo won the bid to host the 2020 Olympics Games, in Tokyo early Sunday morning, Sept. 8, 2013. Photo: AP.

October

Lonely Planet releases its lists of best in travel for 2014 featuring locations from across Asia in categories such as where to feel like one of the family, best beaches and small islands, best adventure travel and best honeymoon locations. Read more.
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November

Sydney hosts the International fleet review, drawing thousands of spectators to the famed habour, including Prince Harry, for a feast of warships, cruisers and destroyers. Read more.

Australian warships HMAS Perth sails past the Opera House as she arrives in Sydney, Australia, Friday, Oct. 4, 2013 during the International Fleet review. The Fleet Review is a commemorative event celebrating the centenary of the first entry of the Royal Australian Navy's fleet into Sydney Harbour on Oct. 4, 1913.(AP Photo/Rob Griffith)

Typhoon Haiyan devastated the Philippines bringing widespread and horrific destruction, however the Department of Tourism issued a statement to encourage tourists not to cancel their plans as many places remain unaffected and resorts and areas that rely on tourism have been hit by 30-40 percent cancellation rates. Read more here and here.

This image provided by the U.S. Naval Research Lab shows Typhoon Haiyan approaching the Philippines. Pic: AP.

The summer of cricket started in Australia, with the first of the Ashes test series held at The Gabba in Brisbane. The famed clash between Australia and England brings in thousands of tourists from other cricket loving countries, including the famed Barmy Army, supporters of the England side. Read more.

December

The Desolation of Smaug, the second in the Hobbit trilogy, is released on December 13, perhaps heralding a new wave of tourism to New Zealand. With that in mind Air New Zealand releases a new video about life in Middle Earth titled “Just another day in Middle-earth” and has a dragon painted on the side of a 777.

Do you have a travel moment of 2013 to share? Add your comments.