The best the industry has to offer 2006

This year represents a wealth of opportunities for the travel industry. Two words sum it up - world cup. Then there is the splash of one of the world’s largest cruise liners.There are also a host of other sporting events. Composers and artists are being remembered, while hotels are opening from the Seychelles to Myanmar.

Sporting events

The beautiful game and other sporting events will again highlight destinations on the map, starting with the 20th Winter Olympics in Turin this February. Then in July try Germany for the World Cup, featuring 64 matches between national teams from 32 countries.

In total 12 German cities will be highlighted between June 9 and July 9. With three million tickets in the offing for the matches and a worldwide television audience of half a billion people per match, it is a golden opportunity to highlight Germany’s tourism industry.

Tourists visiting Germany, watching matches live and on outdoor screens are expected to increase hotel occupancy levels by five million guest nights.

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According to a LRP forecast, direct tourism-related spending will be around $1.8 billion. The World Cup could also have a multiplier effect on indirect revenues of 2.0-2.4.

It is not the only sporting event on the map. The Commonwealth Games kicks off in Melbourne from March 16 to 26, which is also likely to highlight the city’s sites.

Already the Caribbean, France and Australia are looking beyond 2006 to next year’s tourism potential when they host the cricket, rugby and the Ashes respectively.

Hotels

Yotel’s capsule hotel opens at Heathrow’s terminal four this summer. After the success of Stelios’s easyHotel in Kensington this year, space for the traveller appears to be getting smaller.

Rocco Forte’s revamp of Brown’s hotel in London looks set to steal the scene, although this maybe topped in Britain’s capital by the Ritz—which celebrates its centenary.

Then there is the July opening of the former Fouberts Hotel in Soho. Queen Elizabeth’s 80th birthday in April will also bring tourism interest to the capital.

In New York, Ian Schrager is helping revive the famous Gramercy Park Hotel and Robert De Niro looks set to become a hotelier with the opening of TriBeCa before the end of the year.

Myanmar is opening its first design hotel, The Lisu, towards the end of the year in the foothills of the Himalayas.

Amanyara opens in March in Turks and Caicos - the first Caribbean property for the Amanresort group. Starwood opens Frank Gehry’s first hotel in Spain’s Rioja country, while Maia opens in the Seychelles in July on the island of Mahe. 

Destinations

Patras, the third largest city in Greece looks set to promote itself as this year’s European Capital of Culture. It is at the heart of the country’s wine industry and a busy port on the gulf of Corinth.

The fact that the 51st Eurovision Song Contest is being hosted in Athens also looks set to promote the country. 

While Disneyland expects to boost tourists with a new ride with its Buzz Lightyear’s Laser Blast opening in April, as does Alton Towers with its Willy Wonka ride.

San Francisco on April 18 remembers the earthquake 100 years ago that destroyed much of the city, it will be the theme for walking tours, exhibits and concerts.

The Skywalk Glass Bridge, a horseshoe-shaped glass fronted walkway over the Grand Canyon in the U.S. will open to the public in June.

With views over the south rim and 4,000 feet downwards to the Colorado River, the 150 foot cantilever supported loop will draw a considerable volume of tourists.

In Thailand a huge horticultural show—the Royal Flora Ratchaphruek 2006 - will be used to attract tourists in honour of King Bhumibol Adulyadej’s 60 years on the throne, 70 hectares of parkland near Chiang Mai has been transformed into a lush tropical garden.

Finally the Thermae Spa in Bath, England opens in early summer. Situated in the city’s Georgian centre, it has two spectacular natural thermal baths, whirlpools and an open-air rooftop pool.

In Hong Kong, Cathay Pacific will also mark its 60th anniversary. At around the same time it will take delivery of its 100th aircraft. At the time of the handover in 1997, the airline had just 59 aircraft in its fleet.

Cruise ships and railways

On 4th June this year, Royal Caribbean will launch the Freedom of the Seas it is said to be one of the largest cruise liners to ever hit the seas. At 1,112 feet the 160,000-ton liner can carry 3,600 passengers.

The ship will be cruising the Western Caribbean, departing from Miami calling at Cozumel, Grand Cayman, Jamaica and the Dominican Republic.

In May the Rocky Mountaineer, sets off on a new route across the Canadian Rockies. The Fraser Discovery is a two-day journey from Whistler BC to Jasper in Alberta following the Fraser River.

Da Vinci Code film

The film of Dan Brown’s thriller novel hits the big screen in May. This is likely to create renewed interest in the sites mentioned in the book from the Louvre Museum in Paris to Westminster Abbey in London and the Rosslyn Chapel near Edinburgh.

Mozart. Rembrandt and Elvis

The 250th anniversary of the birth of Mozart on January 27th looks to highlight the cities of Vienna, Salzberg and Prague and their tourism potential. With concerts and events scheduled for almost every day of the year.

While the artist Rembrandt’s turns 400 on July 15, which is likely to generate a tourism boost to Amsterdam and Leiden.

And Graceland looks set to put on a bit of a bash, remembering a string of Elvis dates in 2006, including his first entry into the charts with Heartbreak Hotel, 50 years ago on February 22.

Total eclipse

The sun disappears behind the moon on 29th March. This is when travellers will head to various spots to see the natural phenomena from Kazakhstan to Nigeria. One of the best spots will be the Sahara. In Libya it will be one of the longest eclipses—247 seconds in total.

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