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Tet tours see surge in bookings

In Uncategorized on January 8, 2011 at 4:17 am

Most tourist companies have said that several people plan to travel domestically and overseas during the Tet (Lunar New Year).

Children playing a popular game, in the ancient village of Pho Cao. This village is over 100 year old and it is located in Dong Van District, Ha Giang Province (Photo: My Hanh)

Nearly all domestic tours with flights from February 4-6, or January 2-4 in the lunar calendar, have been booked in advance. Schedules to Nha Trang, Phu Quoc and Con Dao are highly booked.

Similarly, tourist companies have stopped bookings for tours to Singapore, Thailand, China, Korea and Japan. They now expect that many people will book road tours, which depart from February 7.

Nguyen Van My, director of Lua Viet Travel Company, said that this year Singapore has become the ‘hot’ foreign tourist destination, instead of Thailand. After a short period of growth, people wanting to visit Cambodia, is slightly reduced.

Nguyen Thi Tuyet Mai, PR manager of Fiditour Tan Dinh Travel Company, said that the number of people purchasing tickets to travel abroad, is higher than compared to the same period last year.

Fiditour is hoping to receive about 15,000 visitors during the coming Tet holidays, 30 percent up from last year’s same period. They said that 40 percent of the visitors would travel abroad, a 20 percent increase to that of 2010.

Meanwhile, the leading tour operator in Vietnam Saigontourist said 2,500 people have booked tours to travel abroad. The company is expected to see a 20 percent increase in the number of people traveling this Tet, as compared with the previous.

More new domestic tours 

The domestic tourism in three recent years has seen a high growth. In 2010, the number of people traveling domestically was over 27 million visitors. The toll is forecast to rise to 31 million this year.

Travel companies have diversified many tours in order to attract more tourists. Many of them have introduced several new and original touring ideas. 

Specifically, The He Tre Travel Company is providing a special tour to discover famous tourist destinations, in the northeastern region, over six days and nights.

The journey begins at Dong Van stone plateau; leading through Lung Cu, Ma Pi Leng Mountain pass, Gam River, Na Hang, Nang River and finally finishing at Ba Be Lake.

Tran The Dung, the company director, said that the tour will cut short the distance to travel between the Ba Be Lake in Bac Kan Province, and Dong Van stone plateau in Ha Giang Province, as the two places are be connected by the Gam and Nang rivers. This tour has attracted 70 customers, within one month of its opening.

This tour will depart on February 10, with the package price of VND10.5 million per person, including the cost of the flight.

Welcoming the New Year’s Eve at remote islands is also a desirable location chosen by many travelers.

Fiditour said it would provide a three-day tour to Phu Quoc Island by plane, which departs on January 27, or December 30 of the lunar calendar. The total cost is VND4.5 million per person.

In the meantime, the Saigontourist announced a three-day trip, priced at VND1.7 million, to greet the Lunar New Year, in the Central Highlands. Travelers will depart on February 4 and February 6.

Source: SGGP

Children’s hospitals struggle with recent surge in patients

In Uncategorized on December 16, 2010 at 9:27 am

Children’s hospitals struggle with recent surge in patients

QĐND – Wednesday, December 15, 2010, 21:6 (GMT+7)

The number of children with respiratory illnesses, acute diarrhoea and dengue fever has increased sharply in recent days, according to hospitals in HCM City.

The HCM City Paediatrics Hospital No 1’s Respiratory Diseases Ward is severely overstretched, having to take in as many as 200-230 inpatients a day while it has just 100 beds.

At the Digestive Ward of HCM City Paediatrics Hospital No 2, many inpatients are suffering from acute diarrhoea.

Environmental pollution as well as unsafe and unhygienic food have increased considerably the risk of diarrhoea in children, according to doctors.

The HCM City Health Department has ordered relevant agencies to implement measures to control further outbreaks of diarrhoea. It has urged district authorities to strengthen awareness campaigns about the disease, including prevention measures like using boiled water, eating well cooked food and washing hands with soap and water before eating.

Meanwhile, the Pasteur Institute has noted that the city is now having about 500 patients with dengue fever every week, up 50 percent compared to the same period last year.

In this case, it is not just children, but the number of adults contracting the mosquito-borne disease is also on the increase.

On December 6, a first-grade student of the Chuong Duong Primary School in District 1 died of dengue fever, said Nguyen Van The, director of the District 1 Preventive Health Centre.

Source: VNA/ Photo: xaluan

Source: QDND

Dollar falls in Asia as stocks surge on hopes over US policy

In Uncategorized on October 14, 2010 at 2:27 pm

HONG KONG, Oct 14, 2010 (AFP) – The dollar fell to a new 15-year low against the yen Thursday and Asian stocks posted strong gains on growing expectations of new pump-priming measures in the United States.

The greenback dipped to 81.28 yen in early Tokyo trade, its worst showing since April 1995, while it was also under pressure from the euro and Singapore dollar.

Despite the dollar’s continued weakness against the yen Tokyo’s Nikkei stock index was 1.82 percent higher by the break as resource firms were lifted by surging commodity prices.

Traders are banking on the US Federal Reserve to introduce further monetary easing at its next policy meeting as it tries to kickstart recovery in the sluggish economy.

Hong Kong was 1.31 percent higher, Sydney added 1.55 percent, Shanghai gained 1.85 percent and Seoul was up 0.85 percent, while Singapore advanced 0.38 percent.

BBY senior institutional trader Peter Copeland said: “As long as China remains on track and QE2 (quantitative easing) underpins the US economy and commodity prices, while sending the US dollar down, I see further upward momentum for equities.”

“You now have this perverse situation where bad economic news in the US is good news for equities because it supports the case for QE2,” he told Dow Jones Newswires.

Minutes from last month’s meeting of the Fed’s Open Market Committee said the central bank was prepared “to provide additional accommodation if needed” to help the economy.

The dollar’s losses have been capped, however, by threats from Japanese authorities that they would intervene again in currency markets to sell the yen.

The Bank of Japan last month stepped into the markets for the first time in six years as the dollar hit 82.86 yen. A strong yen hurts exporters as it makes them less competitive while also cutting their profits when repatriated.

A 0.69 percent rise on the Dow Wednesday provided Asian dealers with the impetus to continue buying as Wall Street welcomed a strong set of quarterly corporate data.

The dollar came under broad selling pressure on Thursday with the Singapore dollar surging against the US unit after the city-state’s central bank announced a surprise tightening of monetary policy.

The Monetary Authority of Singapore made the announcement after the government said the economy was likely to expend between 13 and 15 percent this year, leading to concerns over rising inflation.

Singapore’s monetary policy is conducted via the local currency, which is traded against a basket of currencies of its major trading partners within an undisclosed exchange rate band.

The weaker dollar sent commodities higher, with gold hitting a new high, opening at 1,376.00-1,377.00 US dollars an ounce in Hong Kong, up from Wednesday’s close of 1,359.00-1,360.00 dollars.

And on oil markets New York’s main contract, light sweet crude for November delivery, gained 71 cents to 83.72 dollars a barrel.

Brent North Sea crude for delivery in November advanced 53 cents to 85.17 dollars on its last trading day.

Source: SGGP

International arrivals surge sharply in May

In Uncategorized on May 29, 2010 at 5:17 am

International arrivals surge sharply in May

QĐND – Friday, May 28, 2010, 21:3 (GMT+7)

The number of foreign tourists arriving in Vietnam this May increased by 50.3 percent year on year to 440,000, bringing the total number of foreign arrivals this year to 2.2 million. 

They mainly came from China, Australia, the Republic of Korea, Thailand, Taiwan, France, Malaysia and the US. Chinese tourists raced ahead took the lead with a surge of 111 percent, according to figures released by the Ministry of Planning and Investment. 

Ho Chi Minh City was a major destination, drawing 1.3 million overseas tourists, accounting for more than half of the total figure in the last five months. 

The holidays on April 30-May 1 also led to a sharp rise in domestic holidays makers. The numbers even doubled at popular sites such as the mountain resort of Sa Pa in the northern province of Lao Cai, Nha Trang Bay in the central coastal province of Khanh Hoa and the old French mountain resort Da Lat in the Central Highland province of Lam Dong. 

Some popular resorts were fully booked, pushing tour prices up by 20-30 percent. 

In an effort to speed up the ongoing growth, many travel agencies in conjunction with local administrations have launched a variety of promotion campaigns. 

The central city of Da Nang now offers an extensive programme of discounts on goods and services during August and September with prices during cut by 5 to 25 percent. 

The central coastal province of Khanh Hoa has also launched a series of promotion campaigns, offering 30-50 discounts on tours, restaurants and entertainment services for international flight passengers who land at Cam Ranh International Airport and book a hotel with three stars or more in Khanh Hoa.

Source: VOV

Source: QDND

Israel kills 6 Palestinians in surge of violence

In World on December 27, 2009 at 12:23 pm

Israeli troops blasted their way into the homes of three wanted Palestinians on Saturday, killing each in a hail of bullets and straining an uneasy security arrangement with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

Israel’s military said the three, affiliated with a violent offshoot of Abbas’ Fatah movement, were targeted for killing an Israeli settler in a roadside ambush earlier in the week and had turned down a chance to surrender.

In the Gaza Strip, three young men approaching Israel’s southern border were killed by shots from an Israeli helicopter gunship. Saturday’s deaths made it one of the deadliest days in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict since Israel waged war on Gaza’s Islamic militant Hamas rulers a year ago.

The violent Nablus raids, after months of relative quiet, embarrassed Western-backed Abbas, whose security forces have been coordinating some of their moves with their Israeli counterparts and share a common foe, Hamas.

Israeli soldiers are seen during an army operation in the West Bank city of Nablus, Saturday, Dec. 26, 2009.

At the funeral for the slain men, Abbas’ security policy was denounced by thousands of mourners, who chanted: “Why the coordination while we are under the bullets of the army?”

Abbas’ prime minister, Salam Fayyad, rushed to Nablus in an apparent attempt at damage control, paying his respects at a large communal wake and condeming Israel. “This attack was a clear assassination, and I believe it is targeting our security and stability,” Fayyad told The Associated Press.

Israel did not let Abbas know of the raid in advance, said Maj. Peter Lerner, an Israeli army spokesman.

Saturday’s killings put to the test an often strained relationship between Israel’s military and Abbas’ security.

Since the violent takeover of Gaza by Hamas in 2007, Abbas has gradually strengthened his control in West Bank towns to keep the Islamists there in check.

Palestinian leaders frequently complain that Israel is undermining these efforts by carrying out arrest raids in areas under Palestinian control. Israel counters that while the performance of the Palestinian security forces is improving, its military will step in when necessary.

The target of Saturday’s predawn raids were three longtime members of Fatah’s violent offshoot, the Al Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades. The army said the three — Anan Subeh, 36; Ghassan Abu Sharah, 40; and Raed Suragji, 40 — were involved in Thursday’s deadly roadside shooting of an Israeli settler, and that Israeli forces entered Nablus to try to arrest them.

Dozens of Israeli soldiers, some of wearing black masks, poured into Nablus’ casbah, or old city, at about 2 a.m. They were backed by sniffer dogs and dozens of jeeps, bulldozers and other military vehicles

The forces surrounded the homes of the three. Lerner, the army major, said all three turned down a chance to surrender. However, relatives of Abu Sharah and Suragji said they were killed without warning. Lerner confirmed that none of the wanted men returned fire, including Subeh, who had two pistols and two assault rifles on him.

Soldiers used explosives to blow open the door of the Abu Sharah’s three-story apartment building, said Ghassan Abu Sharah’s brother, Jihad. The brother said that when Ghassan came downstairs, one of the soldiers opened fire and killed him.

Troops also used explosives at the home of Raed Suragji, said his wife, Tehani.

She said her husband opened the bedroom door. “Suddenly, shots were fired at us,” she said. “He fell down. I started shouting. I held his head in my lap and sat on the ground.”

In the third raid, troops ordered everyone to come out of the Subeh home, said Subeh’s brother, Jamal. The family evacuated, but Anan Subeh stayed behind.

Lerner said Subeh was hiding in a small crawl space in his home when he was killed. He said soldiers heard him shout “Allahu Akbar,” Arabic for God is great.

Asked why soldiers opened fire, Lerner said troops “had to operate under the assumption that they (the suspects) are dangerous.”

Subeh had recently been accepted in Israel’s amnesty program for Fatah gunmen, according to Nablus’ deputy governor, Anan Attireh. Subeh’s family said he had also joined the Preventive Security Service, a branch of the Palestinian security forces.

Suragji was released from an Israeli prison in January, after a seven-year term for involvement in shooting attacks. Abu Sharah was also held by Israel in the past, the military said.

The Al Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades carried out scores of shooting attacks and suicide bombings during the second Palestinian uprising, which erupted in 2000. Since then, the militia has been largely dismantled.

In Israel, right-wing critics of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said his policy of easing travel restrictions in the West Bank was to blame for the shooting attack. Lerner said Israel did not plan to set up new roadblocks.

Also Saturday, an Israeli helicopter gunship killed three Gazans, ages 19 and 20, as they approached the border barrier with Israel. The army said the three were hit after they ignored warning shots.

Relatives of the three had tried to sneak into Israel for work and were not affiliated with political groups.

Israel does not allow Palestinians to approach its border area with Gaza, fearing militants will stage attacks there.


Source: SGGP Bookmark & Share

Drug prices surge despite gov’t warning

In Vietnam Health on December 7, 2009 at 3:54 am

In less than two weeks, drug prices have increased by 10-30 percent throughout the country, in spite of warnings to pharmacies from the Vietnam Drug Administration (VDA).

Many pharmaceutical companies, importers and distributors have also hiked prices even though the
VDA, a division of the Ministry of Health, has ordered them not to.

The poor reporting suffering the most from the cost increases.

A customer purchases pharmaceuticals in Ho Chi Minh City. In the last two weeks, the price of several drugs has soared, putting a strain on the poor in particular ( Photo: SGGP)

Ms. H.T Be from the Central Highlands province of Dak Nong said she was shocked by the new cost of five drugs she takes to treat her cervical cancer.

She said a few days ago, a vial of Eprex used to treat anemia cost VND540, 000 (US$29) but the price was now VND567, 000. Ms. Be, who requires six vials per treatment session, said she has to pay a total of VND3.5 million for the medicine.

Another drug for cancer treatment she takes, Avastin, has soared from VND7.7 million a vial to VND8.5 million.

Ms. Be said she simply cannot afford the new costs. She has already sold her house and farm to pay for a year’s worth of treatment. Without the drugs, death is inevitable, she said.

Many others like Ms. Be who suffer from chronic conditions like cancer and heart disease, say they too can do nothing but wait for death as the new prices apply mostly to drugs used to treat these illnesses.

The drug CMP Nucleo Forte, for instance, which is used in the treatment of peripheral nervous system disorders, has jumped from VND205, 000 to VND249, 000. The cost of Doxorubicin and Carbosplatin, used in cancer treatment, is also up 11-15 percent each.

In recent weeks, pharmaceutical wholesale centers Diethelm and Zuellig Pharma in Ho Chi Minh City’s District 10, announced some drugs would increase by five to 15 percent in December. Antibiotic drugs like Klacid Forte, for example, has increased to VND450, 000 from the previous VND403, 000, the distributors said.

In a recent dispatch to local pharmaceutical producers and businesses, the VDA ordered enterprises not to speculate and create a perceived shortage to raise prices. It also forbid businesses from taking advantage of the recent currency rate adjustment to increase prices. But despite the orders, drugs have continued to be marked up.

Importers blame the stronger US dollar and Euro for the domestic cost hikes. But officials say that before raising their prices, import companies and pharmacies need to obtain permission from the government, which most have not done.

A shop assistant at a pharmacy on HCM City’s Hai Ba Trung Street in District 1 said he learned three weeks ago that other pharmacies would increase their drug costs by 5-6 percent. To avoid being caught by authorities, he says he was told by an unnamed source to increase prices a little at a time.  

Some pharmacies said they had to push up drug prices since they no longer received commission or promotional gifts from wholesale manufactures and distributors. In addition, pharmaceutical manufacturers said price hikes were necessary to subsidize overseas trips for doctors and partners at the end of the year.

Ngo Chi Dung, director of the Joint-Stock Pharmaceutical Company ECO chain, said his company would not increase prices. He pointed out the currency rate changes were the main cause of the increased costs imposed by other pharmacies.

Nguyen Viet Hung, deputy head of the Drug Administration of Vietnam (DAV), said his administration and provincial health departments would monitor and impose penalties on pharmacies, distributors and producers who set unreasonable prices. However, a macroscopic strategy is needed, he said, as drug prices often increase following currency rate adjustments.

Source: SGGP Bookmark & Share

Japan worries yen surge will hurt budding recovery

In World on November 27, 2009 at 6:11 am

 A fall in Japan‘s jobless rate pointed at recovery in the world’s number two economy Friday, but the government fretted that the surging yen could again derail the export-reliant economy.

Finance Minister Hirohisa Fujii did not signal imminent plans to intervene in currency markets but stressed that Tokyo was watching closely and could take steps for the first time in five years if the situation worsens.

Fujii was speaking as the dollar traded around 85 yen, its lowest level since the mid-1990s, raising fears that Japanese exporters such as Toyota, Honda and Sony will lose competitiveness in overseas markets.

Using more strident language than usual, the minister said the yen’s rapid rise was “harmful”, a day after Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama said the government must take measures to avoid a double-dip recession.

“If this kind of situation is sustained, I think that it would be something abnormal … it would be possible for us to take” steps under such conditions, Fujii said, according to Dow Jones Newswires.

“We should take appropriate action against disorderly movements in order to stabilise international financial markets,” Fujii said, adding however that he needed time to “look at the situation a bit more”.

Japanese shares fell 1.81 percent in the morning as traders worried the strong yen would hurt Japanese exporters.

Commenting on the Japanese currency’s rise against the dollar, Fujio Mitarai, the head of main business lobby Keidanren, warned that amid the gradual recovery “this could throw cold water on the economy”.

Japan, Asia’s biggest economy, sank into its worst post-war recession in the second quarter of 2008 as the global downturn devastated demand for its cars, electronics and other exports.

It gradually recovered this year, boosted by rebounding exports and stimulus measures, expanding in the July-September quarter by 4.8 percent on an annualised basis, the best growth in more than two years.

New jobs data Friday showed that the unemployment rate fell to 5.1 percent in October from 5.3 percent in September, improving for a third consecutive month and beating market expectations of a 5.4 percent rate.

Another survey, by the labour ministry, showed there were 44 job offers for every 100 jobseekers in October, slightly up from 43 in the previous month. Related article: Japan‘s jobless rate falls to 5.1pct

In other data suggesting a gradual rebound, average monthly household spending rose by a price-adjusted 1.6 percent in October from a year earlier, well above a rise of 0.6 percent the market had expected.

Renewed deflation, however, is still seen as a threat to the recovery, because falling prices hurt corporate earnings and dampen consumption as people delay spending in hopes of further price drops.

Shoppers pass through Tokyo’s Ginza district.

Japan’s core consumer prices fell 2.2 percent in October from a year earlier, marking the eighth straight month of drops, government data showed.

The drop in core prices, which exclude volatile fresh food, was slightly less than September’s 2.3 percent drop and in line with market expectations.

“Deflationary pressure remains,” even if the speed of price drops has slowed, said Hiroshi Watanabe, an economist at Daiwa Institute of Research.

“The economy has picked up since February thanks to an upturn in exports and production. The effect is now belatedly felt on prices and employment.”

But hhe warned: “If the yen rises further, it would dampen exports, which are the main driving force of the Japanese economy. It would weigh down the Japanese economy as its recovery is feeble.”

Source: SGGP Bookmark & Share

Trade Ministry calls for surge in rice exports

In Uncategorized on September 17, 2008 at 10:28 am

HCM CITY — The Ministry of Industry and Trade has asked the Viet Nam Food Association (VFA) to expedite delivery on rice export contracts and step up efforts to sign new ones.

The instruction comes as part of efforts to ensure rice farmers are able to sell their output in the last months of the year, and to meet the Government’s planned export target of 4.5 million tonnes for this year.

With rice prices falling even lower in the Cuu Long (Mekong) Delta, the country’s largest granary, the quantity of unsold rice remains large.

Traders are now buying dried rice at VND3,500-3,700 a kg and wet rice at VND2,500-2,700 a kg, the lowest prices so far this year.

At these prices, farmers say they are big losers, as they spend VND3,300-3,900 to produce a kilo of rice.

The delta’s main rice planting provinces, including Dong Thap, Kien Giang, An Giang, Tien Giang and Hau Giang, each now has an average of 100,000-600,000 tonnes of unsold rice, according to the departments of Agriculture and Rural Development in Cuu Long Delta provinces.

The large amount of unsold rice and wet weather are being blamed for the price drop. Many farmers are having to sell their wet rice at low prices after harvesting, because they lack drying facilities

In An Giang Province, the price of rice has now fallen to VND6,000 a kg, a drop of VND350 compared to last week.

Food companies say they are now trying to find warehouses to stock rice from coming harvests, as they already have stockpiles from purchases made under a Prime Ministerial directive in early August.

The Cai Rang Food Trade and Processing Station under the Song Hau Food Company, for example, can now only purchase 20 tonnes of rice a day because its warehouses are full and the low quality of rice that is wet and has turned yellow due to the rainy weather.

The station had bought 150-200 tonnes of rice a day, up 30-40 per cent compared to the period before the directive, said station head Pham Minh So.

Viet Nam exported 3.38 million tonnes of rice in the first eight months of the year, earning over US$2.2 billion, according to the General Statistics Office. —