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No Break For Business Travellers

Media Release: 23 December 2004

NO BREAK FOR BUSINESS TRAVELLERS

Business travel is on the rise in New Zealand. For the year ended September 2004, nearly 300,000 Kiwis travelled overseas for work, an increase of nearly 20 per cent on the year before. As numbers have increased, so too has the length of the working year with more and more travelling over the traditional Christmas holiday period.

While the rest of us are packing up the car and heading for the beach, many business people are packing their briefcases and heading overseas – all in the name of work. For a number of New Zealand businesses that trade offshore, the Christmas summer holidays are no different to any other time of the year and the work still has to be done.

Greg Hamilton, sales and marketing manager for FCm Travel Solutions, NZ’s largest corporate travel agency said many business people are having less time off over this period and for some, overseas travel carries on just like any other month.

“It is traditionally our quietest time of the year,” he said.

“But we’re finding that over the last few years there’s been a steady increase in the numbers still travelling over the December and January period.”

Mr Hamilton said Christmas was the busiest time of year for airports all over the world so it pays to allow a lot more time than usual for check in procedures.

It is also advisable to be completely aware of all the rules of your ticket so you know whether or not you can re-book in the event you miss your flight or plans change.

Keeping an eye on the Ministry of Foreign Affairs website for any travel advisories is also essential, he said.

Asia is a common hotspot for both business and leisure travel over the Christmas and holiday period. Greg Hamilton gives some tips for making the most of travel to some of the busier regions.

Hong Kong

With nearly seven million people jostling amongst the skyscrapers, shopping centres, temples and parks, Hong Kong is a vibrant business hub attracting commerce and tourism from all corners of the world.

Hosting a unique blend of British and Chinese influences, and one of the world’s largest shopping malls, Hong Kong is modernity meets traditional, with a strong local culture alongside a significant expat community.

Hong Kong is divided into four main areas – Kowloon, Hong Kong Island, the New Territories and the Outlying Islands, with the city itself centered around Victoria Harbour, and the main business district being Central, on Hong Kong Island.

October to December is a good time to visit Hong Kong as it has the least rain, and December is usually one of the least busy periods although it can be very busy around Chinese New Year (late January to February).

For nightlife: head to Causeway Bay on Hong Kong Island or Tsim Sha Tsui in Kowloon. Eating out is a regularity for most locals and despite having more than 10,000 restaurants, it pays to book tables in advance.

For scenery: head to the South Coast beaches of Repulse Bay and Deep Water Bay on Hong Kong Island.

When giving or receiving gifts: Don’t: - unwrap the gift in front of the giver

- give clocks – they connote death

- give blankets – they are believed to cause a decline in prosperity

- wrap gifts in blue – it is the colour of mourning.

Do: - give items from your home country

Tokyo

A bustling 24-hour city, Tokyo is vibrant in colour and culture, and hectic day and night. Despite being an enormous city, it has no real centre, and finding locations can be difficult as few streets have names! If in doubt, ask.

During the New Year period (29 December – 6 January) accommodation is scarce so it pays to book well in advance if you plan to be there over that time.

For greenery: head to the Hama Rikyu Detached Palace Garden – a 25-hectare park that dates back to the 17th Century.

For some light relief: head to Tokyo Disneyland – just like the Californian original.

Gift giving and eating out are also art forms in Japan, with a number of rules and superstitions attached.

Don’t: - give four or nine of anything – it is considered bad luck - give red Christmas cards – funeral notices are customarily printed in this colour - point your chopsticks at anyone Do: - give presents with foreign, prestigious brand labels - give a commemorative photo or gourmet food stuff - slurp your noodles ad tea - leave some food on your plate

Bangkok

Bangkok is a city that blends its ancient and its modern, with rip-off label stalls and food carts on the side of the road just a block down from the skyscrapers and gleaming shopping malls.

More than 10 million people inhabit Bangkok, and at most times of the day you’d think they were all in their cars. Bangkok is famous for its seemingly chaotic traffic, so it pays to always allow extra time for travel. The nightlife is unrivalled by many cities and despite the madness around them, most locals have a calming graciousness about them.

Hot all year round, the driest time of year to visit this bustling city is December and January where there is little, if any rain.

Despite the majority of locals being warm and welcoming, there are a minority of con artists operating in the city, so it pays to be wary and cautious when in Bangkok.

Do: - check the meter on the taxi you’re in is working before you get in, or have a pre-negotiated price (and stick to it)

- keep some local currency on you – credit cards are widely accepted in most tourist areas but not local markets, stalls or transport

- allow extra time if having to travel to meetings – the traffic can be variable

Don’t: - allow tuk tuk drivers to take you anywhere other than your desired destination. Many will try to convince you to go on a shopping trip or tour, which is usually a scam where they get commission on anything you buy.

ENDS


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