S. Asia calls for visitors

Tourism authorities last week urged travelers not to shun south Asia after an earthquake, centered off Indonesia, killed hundreds. Early reports indicated damage was localized.

The remote island of Nias, which is prized by surfers for its reef breaks, appeared to be hardest hit by the 8.7-magnitude quake.

As of the Travel section's deadline Tuesday, at least 1,000 people were thought to have died, officials said.

The temblor struck about 100 miles southeast of the site of December's calamitous quake, which triggered a tsunami that left nearly 300,000 dead or missing. Unlike that quake, the latest one did not cause a major tsunami.

"It is imperative that travelers continue with their travel plans and support destinations in Southeast Asia," said Peter de Jong, president and chief executive of the Pacific Asia Travel Assn. "The money they spend and the hearts they touch mean a lot to people who are currently rebuilding their lives."

Four days before the quake, the U.S. State Department, citing terrorist threats, had re-issued a travel warning urging Americans to avoid Indonesia.

For official updates, visit http://www.travel.state.gov (the department's Bureau of Consular Affairs), http://www.who.int (World Health Organization) and http://www.budpar.go.id (Indonesian Ministry of Culture and Tourism).

Among useful websites posting news and views from travelers in the region is http://www.lonelyplanet.com .

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'Sleek, chic' in South Bay

In Manhattan Beach, the 127-room Belamar Hotel opened last month in space formerly occupied by Barnabey's, which closed in 2003.

"What we created is a cool, hip, contemporary boutique hotel" to reflect the South Bay's hipper image, said William Lanting, president of the Lanting Hotel Group, which is managing the property.

The Belamar's $9-million renovation gave the building a "chic, sleek" style, said publicist Terry Wills, with the use of glass, stainless steel, stone and microsuede.

Introductory room rates, valid until April 30, start at $159, increasing to $195 after that date. The hotel is at 3501 Sepulveda Blvd., about 10 minutes from LAX. Information: (310) 750-0300, http://www.thebelamar.com .

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Next stop, train museum The Cité du Train museum in Mulhouse, France, reopened last month after a renovation that updated exhibits with video terminals, giant-screen projections and audio tours designed to revive the history and heyday of railroading.

The museum claims to have one of Europe's largest railway collections.

Its prized possession is the Buddicom, built in 1844 in France by an English engineer and one of the oldest locomotives in Europe.

Admission is 9 euros, about $12. The museum is at 2 Rue Alfred de Glehn; 011-33-3-89-42-83-33, http://www.citedu train.com.

— Compiled by Times staff

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