Asia is becoming a popular destination for meetings, incentives, and travelers. Here's a taste of what the region has to offer:

  • Victoria Cruises, which offers journeys on mainland China's famed Yangtze River, has increased its fleet from nine to 11 vessels with the addition of the Victoria VII and the Victoria Empress. The Yangtze is the third largest river in the world, and the Victoria ships cruise the river from the cosmopolitan city of Shanghai to the major regional hub of Chongqing. Based in New York, Victoria Cruises' ships have traveled the Yangtze for more than eight years, with this year seeing the inauguration of year-round cruising. The new Victoria VII has 79 cabins including 69 standard rooms, two junior suites, six deluxe suites, and two Shangri-la suites. It can accommodate 158 passengers. The Victoria Empress, which can accommodate up to 202 passengers, features 101 cabins including 91 standard rooms, two junior suites, four deluxe suites, two Shangri-la suites, and two four-berth cabins. Both historical and contemporary Chinese sights are offered on the cruises, all of which feature professional, multilingual, Western cruise directors and local staff; Western and Chinese cuisine; lectures on history and culture; and live entertainment featuring traditional performing arts. For further information: (800) 348-8084 in North America; fax (212) 818-9889; contact@victoriacruises.com; www.victoriacruises.com

  • Indochina Services, a destination management company, has announced the launch of the Mekong Express, an express boat service between Phnom Penh and Siem Reap in Cambodia. The Mekong Express can seat 140, including 20 on the top. info@is-intl.com; www.indochina-services.com

  • Eventclicks has announced the launch of the Singapore Exhibition & Convention Bureau's Two Super Singapore Specials promotion for business meetings and incentive trips. The offers vary depending on group size, and range from lion dance welcome performances and theme parties to souvenir giveaways. Meeting planners can win a trip to Singapore with three nights accommodation. The promotion is valid until December 31. www.eventclicks.com

  • The Geumsan Ginseng Festival is expected to take place in Geumsan County, Chungcheongnam-do Province, Korea, this month. A great incentive, highlights include a ginseng harvest trip, ginseng cooking class, ginseng sauna and hot bath, and a visit to the Geumsan Ginseng Museum. If you miss it, visit online at www.geumsan.chungnam.



Asian Updates

Novotel Bangkok, Thailand, has added a new business center and meeting facility. The business center and meeting facility includes an 861-square-foot meeting room, a breakout area, and an executive lounge. Secretarial services, express check-in, and limousine transfers are also available. With poolside access, the meeting facility can host a cocktail reception or dinner party for up to 600 attendees. hotel@novotelbkk.com; www.accorhotels-asia.com

Fairmont Hotels & Resorts' Global Reservation Centre has launched a new phone-routing system that speeds up and simplifies the reservation process and will assist planners with the Fairmont's Asia properties as well as others around the world. The system routes a call directly to a sales agent familiar with a particular hotel at which the guest wishes to make a reservation. The GRC can summarize call volume and identify reservation conversions by property and agent. www.fairmont.com

The new Hilton Fiji Beach Resort and Spa has begun construction on Fiji's Denarau Island. The resort will have 427 guest rooms, conference and boardroom facilities, a business center, restaurants, two large swimming pools, and a health spa. Hilton anticipates a September 2003 opening for the resort. pplus@is.com.fj. For information on Fiji, contact the Fiji Visitors Bureau: bulanews@bulafiji.com; www.BulaFiji.com