News and Deals: August 22, 2012 – China Asks Tourists for Invites, Hotel Reservations to Get Visas, Laos moves to clean up party town Vang Vieng, Other airlines match Southwest’s $10 price hike and Carnival tests ‘all-you-can-drink’ booze offer

Boats on the Mekong

China Asks Tourists for Invites, Hotel Reservations to Get Visas
Bloomberg

China has tightened visa rules for visitors, adding requirements for a letter of invitation and proof of hotel reservations in a move that could slow its push to become the world’s biggest tourism destination.

Travelers applying for tourist visas, must submit a letter from an “authorized tourism unit,” company or person inviting them to China, along with a photocopy of their round-trip ticket and hotel reservation, according to rules posted on the website of China’s embassy in the U.S.

The rule changes come after Chinese authorities have put foreigners’ status in the country under greater scrutiny and sought to clamp down on people entering the country illegally. The World Tourism Organization has predicted that China may become the world’s biggest destination for tourists by 2015.

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Laos moves to clean up party town Vang Vieng
Perth Now

LAOS is clamping down on illegal drugs and dangerous watersports in Vang Vieng, a popular tourist destination on the Xong River.

In their efforts to promote the tourist spot, 100km north of Vientiane, as a safe, ecotourism destination, authorities closed seven bars on the river “after finding they were serving tourists alcoholic drinks laced with opium and hallucinogenic mushrooms,” the Vientiane Times reported.

Vang Vieng is popular among backpackers for its limestone cliffs, waterfall and watersports – chiefly floating down the river in inner tubes while drinking Beer Lao.

But the explosion in popularity of tubing has brought a degree of notoriety, with several deaths from accidents on the river in the past year attracting media attention.

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Other airlines match Southwest’s $10 price hike
NBCNews.com

Most other airlines have matched a price increase by Southwest Airlines Co., meaning that travelers could pay $10 per round trip more for shorter trips.

The fare hike, which started Friday, applied to flights of less than 500 miles each way. It was matched by others including United, Delta and American.

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Carnival tests ‘all-you-can-drink’ booze offer
USA Today

Add industry giant Carnival to the list of lines offering “all-you-can-drink” alcohol packages.

The world’s largest cruise company this month has begun testing a nearly $50 per day package on the Carnival Victory that gives buyers access to unlimited wine, beer and spirits as well as sodas and non-alcoholic frozen cocktails.

The “My Awesome Bar Program” package, as it’s being called, costs $42.95 per person per day plus an automatic 15% gratuity of $6.44 and can be used to order all wines by the glass, beer and individual cocktails priced at $10 and lower. Full bottles of wine and champagne, as well as wines by the glass, beers and individual cocktails priced above $10, are available at a 25% discount.

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By: Matt Long

Matt has a true passion for travel. As someone who has a bad case of the travel bug, Matt travels the world in order to share tips on where to go, what to see and how to experience the best the world has to offer.Also follow Matt on Twitter, Facebook and

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