Officials declared resorts in the main tourist area of Nadi and other regions of western Viti Levu out of the disaster zone after what meteorologists called the strongest and most relentless storm in 100 years. Nevertheless, the tropical depression that dropped a week of non-stop rain on the islands flooded wide areas of Viti Levu, killed 11 people, destroyed homes and businesses and trapped thousands of tourists in their hotels. The resorts are again open for business, while the cleanup for thousands of Fijians continues. It may take months for some towns to rebuild roads and other infrastructure.
Airport workers suspended an indefinite strike at Budapest's Ferihegy international airport Wednesday but said they may resume the strike without warning. They had started their most recent strike Monday, shutting down one of two terminals and causing flight delays. Terminal 1 remains closed. Hungarian airline Malev said it planned to operate all flights despite the uncertainty. In December, the airport trade unions struck for two weeks to protest working conditions and vowed to resume the action if negotiations failed to produce an agreement. A settlement has not been reached, but talks continue.
After an 18-month grace period, a smoking ban took effect this month, prohibiting smoking in all public places, including hotels, restaurants, theaters, department stores, public transit facilities and vehicles, taxis, cafes and karaoke bars. The maximum fine is $300.
The government plans to waive visa fees for three months in an effort to revive the stagnant tourism industry. Anti-government demonstrations that continued for months and culminated in the takeover of Bangkok's two airports in December caused a dramatic drop in tourist visits. Tourism is a key component of the country's economic stability, contributing about 5 percent of the economy. U.S. citizens who plan to stay less than 30 days do not need a visa.
Tourists have abandoned Tibet since last March's violent demonstrations and Chinese government crackdown, prompting the tourism industry in Lhasa to slash prices in the hopes of luring visitors back. Hotels in Lhasa have cut prices as much as 70 percent, airfares have been trimmed, tourist attractions and travel services have all joined a promotion to reduce prices. Tourist arrivals dropped 45 percent last year, to 2.2 million from 4 million in 2007. Tibet was off limits to all tourists for a month, reopening for domestic travelers in April but remaining closed to international visitors until June.