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East Timor boosting efforts to Increase Tourist Numbers

Search ASIA Travel Tips .com Friday, 15 September 2006

East Timor, or Timor Leste as it is officially known, is stepping up its efforts to attract tourists. The country gained independence in 2002, and offers travellers an abundance of unspoilt diving opportunities, trekking and other activities.

In 2005 there was a total of 35,000 visitors  to Timor Leste of which 3,000 were estimated to be actual travellers or tourists, with the remainder being military, media, aid related etc. Timor Leste currently offers just one four star hotel and this, included with other lower category hotels, means there is a total of just 1,500 rooms for travellers to choose from.

In an attempt to spread the word of what the raw beauty of Timor Leste has to offer, officials this year attended three major trade shows - the ITB in Berlin, the BTL in Lisbon and the PATA Travel Mart in Hong Kong. Participation at these events was made possible largely thanks to support from Portugal, Macau, Thailand and other industry partners.

Timor Leste's largest obstacle in attracting more tourists does not come from the question of security, but instead from accessibility. Currently there are only two airlines which fly to Timor Leste, Merpati and Air North. Merpati currently flies from Bali four times a week and will be increasing this to daily in the near future. Air North flies out of Darwin to Timor Leste 11 times per week.

For the country to show the world it is a safe place to visit, and all the natural wonders it has to offer, it will have to attract some reputable airline's from further afield than just Bali and Darwin. To kick-start this officials from Timor Leste are already in talks with other carriers, including low cost airlines in Indonesia and Singapore's Silk Air.

All travellers to Timor Leste receive a 30 days visa on arrival except Portugese nationals who receive a 90 days exemption. 

See other recent news regarding: East Timor, Timor Leste

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