Subject: Come to Asia in the Year of the Rooster!
Hi Ziners,

Kung Hei Fat Choi! Happy Year of the Rooster!

My husband and I just got back from 8 wonderful days on the island of Phuket. The horrorific scenes that CNN et al showed repeatedly are a thing of the past and the island is very quickly getting back to 'normal', at least physically. But economically - it appears that it will take a long time. One of the reasons for this is that tourists have been scared by the scenes in the media (that, unfortunately, weren't balanced by as many "after" scenes) and somehow feel that 'lightening can strike twice'.

Seven weeks later, there are are very few beaches that are not yet back to its pristine nature and it amazed us how quickly the affected properties were being restored. The large beachfront hotels, of course, have reserves of money behind them so they will likely survive the reduction in tourist numbers but the small local businesses, from beach chair renters to clothing stall owners are suffering the most. Those whose premises were washed away have got to rebuild and those struggling to find the capital to do so still had a smile on their faces when we approached and offered us goods from carts in front of what used to be their shops. And - it's not just the directly affected areas that will suffer in the long term - tourism is down all over the affected countries because people have postponed their trips to Asia en masse.

As one of the few members of the Zine from Asia - I appeal to you to make this your COME TO ASIA year - especially to Sri Lanka, the Maldives, and Thailand. I can personally vouch for the fact that these places hold for you some of the most fantastic scenery, fascinating history and culture, and wonderfully warm and gentle people that you'll find anywhere in the world. And - it is NOW that they need you the most.

For those interested in further information on the state of each of the affected areas, here's some from the Pacific Asia Travel Association:

Cheers! Judy in Hong Kong