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Dr. Gil Alves, Minister of Tourism, Commerce And Industry, Officially Unveiled Timor-Leste Hotels

Tourism in Timor-Leste set for a big boost

eTN  Jul 14, 2008

DILI, TIMOR-LESTE - On July 14, 2008, Dr. Gil Alves, Minister of Tourism, Commerce and Industry, officially unveiled Timor-Leste Hotels, the latest addition to the global network of more than 100 travel Web sites catering to independent and responsible travelers. The launch of this Timor-Leste (also known as East Timor) Web portal at by Jim’s Getaway Travel is expected to help reinvigorate tourism in this once-embattled island nation.

“We are delighted that is extending its coverage to Timor-Leste,” said Dr Alves. “As a new destination, Timor-Leste has many hidden treasures for travelers to discover. is the key to opening up our unspoiled countryside to visitors and will play an important role in connecting Timorese tourism operators across the nation with the world market. It will make a valuable contribution to regional development and will strengthen our tourism industry as a whole.” began in 2002 as a pilot model incubated by the International Finance Corporation (IFC, part of the World Bank Group) for bringing small- and medium-sized accommodation and tour providers into the e-marketplace. After a series of very successful trials in the Mekong region, in Southeast Asia and in the Pacific, was spun off as a private company to facilitate the rollout of booking portals in other regions of the world. It now spans destinations in more than 50 countries on five continents, with a particular emphasis on developing and emerging markets. In the next few months, further expansion will reach an additional 65 new destinations involving as many as 20 new countries.

Unique to is its franchise model.’s local partners, called marketplace operators (MPOs), serve as vital on-site lifelines to travelers looking for an often-missing personal touch in online services. The MPOs also espouse values fundamental to the vision – care for their destinations’ cultural and environmental sustainability. This is made evident by attention to and promotion of the kinds of fun and ethical travel experiences that, until recently, have been largely incidental to travel planning. Now, however, they are increasingly at the core of decisions made by conscientious travelers.

Jim’s Getaway Travel (JGT) is the new MPO for Timor-Leste. It has been active in Timor-Leste since 2005. “As a Timorese national, I see this as a wonderful opportunity for Timor-Leste to develop an inbound tourism market with confidence,” said Ligia Da Silva Amaral, owner of JGT. “Arriving in Timor-Leste used to be like arriving at your first day at school, not knowing what to expect or what was available. Now, for the first time in the history of the country, independent travelers in Timor Leste have secure knowledge of a local partner who has provided them with secure reservations for the duration of their stay. As a locally-owned and operated business, JGT is a great advantage to the independent traveler in Timor-Leste. Especially after many years of turbulence in Timor-Leste, the team and I are proud to be involved with”

The development of was made possible by grants from IFC Advisory Services-Pacific through its Tourism Program, which is co-funded by the governments of Australia, New Zealand and Japan. IFC Advisory Services-Pacific is committed to supporting the development and growth of the tourism private sector in Timor-Leste in order to reduce poverty and improve lives.

“Timor-Leste's inclusion in the global portfolio of destinations presents a significant opportunity for the country's tourism industry,” observed Jennifer Louise Bartlett, Tourism Program Officer of IFC Advisory Services-Pacific. “IFC supports the establishment of this e-booking system, which links local tourism businesses with the market place. It will play an important role in strengthening the local tourism private sector and building Timor-Leste's competitiveness in the global tourism market.”

In August 1999, after 25 years of occupation by Indonesia, a large majority of East Timorese voted for independence in a UN-supervised popular referendum. The political instability of the ensuing eight years saw multiple outbreaks of violence involving pro-Indonesian militia and disaffected Timorese rebels. Since the start of 2008, however, the country – Asia’s youngest – has found solid footing and embarked on a period of reconstruction and development. Tourism is expected to play an important part in that process.

“Like many people, I watched with horror as conflict raged in Timor-Leste over the past decade,” commented Len Cordiner, CEO of “However, this tiny nation has shown enormous heart and resilience and has finally emerged as an independent state. The real challenge now, as with any post-conflict country, is to rebuild confidence with the people and with investors and to focus on jobs. Given the abundance of fabulous tourism assets in the country, tourism is one industry that can move quickly in generating employment, as well as allowing visitors a chance to meet the locals, see the sights and spread a positive word about the country.”

Tourism in Timor-Leste set for a big boost

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