Category Archives: Int’l Tourism

Terrorism Tragedies Scaring Tourists from Europe

Destinations large and small impacted.

globeAs the years tick past, I wonder when I will no longer be able to put a pack on my back and tow a small rolling suitcase — and head somewhere distant. Therefore, the urge to travel — to see places I’ve never visited —  has increased, not waned.  I want to go afar while I still can.  Asia, Africa and Latin America call, but most of all, so does Europe. I’ve seen quite a bit, but there’s so much more.

Bombings and mass shootings in major cities make headlines all over the world, but incidents where few or none are killed and a few are wounded get less attention. And travels embarked on, experienced and completed without incident make no news at all. But more and more news stories do surface where something happened to tourists somewhere. A recent knife attack on a mother and her three daughters in the resort of Grande-Colombe in the French Alps was reportedly because the attacker thought the victims were too scantily dressed.

In my heart, I know that the chances of being in exactly the place where violence occurs are extremely slim (about like chances of winning the Powerball), but  many tourists still don’t want to take a chance. A piece in the New York Times, Terrorism Scares Away the Tourists Europe Was Counting On, makes me sad for a variety of reasons, but also offers opportunities for travel values. I’m checking out deals. In addition to the terrible tragedy for locals, every awful incident causes nervous visitors to cancel. I will want to get on a plane and go. How about you?

Powerful Cyclone Slams Fiji

Taking Cyclone Winston a bit personally.

FijiMe-logoI’ve visited Fiji, a beautiful island nation in the South Pacific populated by people who exemplify the Polynesian tradition of hospitality. I’m dismayed to read about Winston, the most powerful ever recorded with winds of 180 mph with gusts over of 220 mph, that slammed into Fiji. It has resulted in relatively few fatalities — thus far.

The lei is not just a Hawaiian sign of welcome, but a Polynesian one. Bula as experssed by a string of beautiful blossoms and the sweet scent of plumeria and other tropical flowers.. l
The lei is not just a Hawaiian sign of welcome, but a Polynesian one. Bula as experssed by a string of beautiful blossoms and the sweet scent of plumeria and other tropical flowers.. l

Some 900,000 people are scattered among the 100 or so inhabited islands of the total of 332.  Communications, water, electricity and sewerage must surely have been impacted, but how strongly is still unknown. And then there are the airports.  I flew Air Pacific to Nadi, one of the country’s largest cities, and from there to smaller islands — each with a ferry pier and/or a grass or asphalt airstrip. Fiji boasts secluded and yes, romantic resorts on outlying islands.

CycloneWinston

In the interim, Air Pacific has become Fiji Airways, and my husband and I are scheduled to fly to Australia with them early next month.  We have a stopover in Nadi. Reports are that the storm tracked between the two biggest islands. Suva, the capital, and Nadi, where there main airport is located, are both on Viti Levu. The country will reportedly still be under a curfew and state of emergency when we pass through.

American cities on Fiji Airways’ route map are Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York and Honolulu. It also serves Australian and New Zealand and is a popular and convenient getaway for folks from both. Here’s hoping for the visitors and the tourism infrastructure catering to them that clean-up is fast — more importantly, for the Fijians that their beautiful islands are restored to full function very soon.

Five New ‘Ethical Destinations’ Recognized

Ethical-Traveler-LogoIn the view of Ethical Traveler, Grenada, Micronesia, Mongolia, Panama and Tuvalu “are making impressive strides to conserve natural resources, support human rights and protect animals.” As such, they are first-time winners of the annual Ethical Destinations Awards, joining destinations recognized in previous years.

Each year, California-based Ethical Traveler researches and publishes a list of what it considers art the 10 most forward-thinking countries in the developing world. In addition to “performance” in the areas of human rights, social welfare, animal welfare and environmental protection, winning countries must be appealing as travel destinations.

The 2016 winners, in alphabetical order (not in order of merit), are:

  • Cabo Verde
  • Dominica
  • Grenada
  • Micronesia (Federated States)
  • Mongolia
  • Panama
  • Samoa
  • Tonga
  • Tuvalu
  • Uruguay

Ethical Traveler is a project of the Berkeley-based Earth Island Institute. The goal of the Ethical Destinations Awards is to encourage developing nations to do the right thing, and to reward destinations where policies and actions protect human rights and the environment.

Need Extra Passport Pages? Get Them Now

Extra page policy ends at on December 31.

passportMy most treasured expired passport was valid from 1995 to 2005. The reason I like it best is that traveled so often during that decade that I actually had to get extra pages. I beef up the need did by requesting a stamp “as a souvenir” at every passport control opportunity. (I did get close to needing extras in the 2005 to 2015 passport. ) It will also be my only passport with extra pages, because starting on January 1, 2016. Americans will no longer be given the opportunity to add pages to existing passports. I have no idea why.

Bottom line is that if you travel a lot internationally, you might want to apply for extra pages before the end of the year so you won’t have to prematurely renew. After the first of the year, renewing (i.e., getting a whole new passport) is your only option At the time, however, you will be able to choose a 52-page book rather than the standard 28-page passport. FoMoInfo on the new regs.

Spain in a Jar of Boulder-Made Sauce

Classic Spanish sauce reminds me of a long-ago visit to Spain

TarragonaMapA message from Peter Guarino caught my eye for two reasons. First, it is a new local food purveyor, and second, the food he currently purveys is Romesco sauce, an intriguing and complex sauce whose origins are in the seaside town of Tarragona in the Catalonian (or Catalunyan, as it is now spelled) region of eastern Spain. Tarragona is known for its Roman amphitheater by the sea, its remarkable double aqueduct and its beautiful cathedral.

A lifetime ago, my first husband and I went to Tarragona on what was to be a day trip from Barcelona, where in a café, we met another couple from the US with whom we had a lot in common. I worked at Swissair at the time; she was with Air India. My heritage is Austrian; she had been born there. Our husbands had both served in the US Navy. They were renting a house in Tarragona and invited us to spend a couple of nights. My strongest food memories are of the fig tree growing outside the kitchen door and of her gone-local cooking. I had my first, unforgettable tastes both of aïoli and of Romesco.

Tarragona's seaside amphitheater, as well as a splendid aqueduct, a beautiful cathedral and long (if crowded) beaches are the most famous attractions of this town.
Tarragona’s seaside amphitheater, as well as a splendid aqueduct, a beautiful cathedral and long (if crowded) beaches are the most famous attractions of this town.

Traditionally,  fishermen from that region would bring in their catch, sell off the best fish for maximum profit and then concoct a stew of what was left in Romesco sauce as a base. I’ve since tried my hand at both, and they turned out well. At heart, I am a from-scratch cook, but sometimes I am happy to be able to shortcut the process and serve a quality prepared product.

PeosRomescoPeo’s Romesco sauce is very Boulder, being a product made from organic tomatoes, organic spices, organic olive oil, organic vinegar and nuts that are free of chemical pasteurization. Also, It is vegan-friendly, and this version his also gluten-, dairy- and GMO-free. Sometimes I think I’m the only person in Boulder with no food allergies or sensitivities, but avoiding GMO foods is one of my hot buttons.

Guarino recommends his complex sauce both for dipping and cooking.  He calls it “the Queen of Spanish Sauces.” If you are intrigued, click here for Colorado stores that currently carry it.

Cross-posted to Culinary Colorado.

TripAdvisor’s List of Up-and-Comers

TripAdvisor-logoI occasionally have contributed to TripAdvisor, an important travel info and booking site, and many of my friends are more conscientious about reviewing destinations, hotels, attractions and so on there. I’m intrigued by the site’s new list of top global and U.S. destinations that it deems are “on the rise.” Internationally, the only one I’ve visited is Jerusalem, but Havana, Nepal (or elsewhere in the Himalayas) and Hanoi are high on my bucket list.

The site’s “Top 10 Destinations on the Rise in the World”

  1. Havana, Cuba
  2. La Fortuna de San Carlos, Costa Rica
  3. Kathmandu, Nepal
  4. Jerusalem, Israel
  5. Cusco, Peru
  6. Ambergris Caye, Belize
  7. Sapporo, Japan
  8. Hanoi, Vietnam
  9. Corralejo, Spain
  10. Fortaleza, Brazil

Domestically, I’ve been to every place on the list other than Destin and Galveston, but I’m not much for Sunbelt destinations. Still, I do like Kailua-Kona on the Big Island of Hawaii, because it feels like a real place — one filled with visitors, of course, but still not a tourist development like, say, the Kohala Coast, built on a lava flow just for tourists.

TripAdvisor’s “Top 10 Destinations on the Rise in the U.S.”

  1. Kailua-Kona, Hawaii
  2. Anchorage, Alaska
  3. Destin, Florida
  4. Bar Harbor, Maine
  5. Santa Fe, New Mexico
  6. Jackson, Wyoming
  7. Galveston, Texas
  8. Brooklyn, New York
  9. Moab, Utah
  10. Gettysburg, Pennsylvania

Bridge Over the Mexican Border Aids Air Travelers

Tijuana International set to become more of a reliever to jammed San Diego

CrossborderBridgeI’ve never flown into or out of San Diego, but the airport has a reputation for scary take-offs and landings since pilots often must thread between skyscrapers. It’s also crowded. I’ve never flown into or out of Tijuana either. In fact, I’ve never even been to Tijuana. But this one-runway airport on the US-Mexican border last year saw an estimated 3.7 million passengers. It is the hub for  Volaris Airlines, is served by Mexican domestic airlines as well as Aeromexico service to the Far East (Shanghai-Pudong, China, and Tokyo-Narita, Japan) Not surprisingly, some travelers from Southern California find it expedient.

Construction is underway for  Project Smart Border 2010, a new bi-national terminal tight across from the U-S-Mexican border fence, on US land with a 500-foot bridge to Tujuana International Airport making it a more practical relief airport for congested San Diego Airport. There will be a fee to use the bridge, but it certainly eliminates the long waits often found at the border, The project includes parking, check-in counters and customs offices. This project has been discussed since the 1990s and is supposed to be completed in 2014. But since Mexico is involved, who knows?

This will not be world’s first “bi-national airport.” France and Switzerland share Basel-Mulhouse Airport and Geneva International Airport.

Germany Showcases Its UNESCO Sites

UNESCO listings honor nature, culture and history UNESCO-heritage-logo

Every year, Destination Germany, the marketing and promotional arm of the German National Tourist Board, comes up with themes that showcase a particular aspect of this varied and vibrant country. The key theme for 2014 will be Germany’s world heritage sites and world natural heritage sites. Of the 962 UNESCO sites around the globe, just under half are in Europe, and 38 of those are in Germany. They include churches, abbeys and palaces, parks, historic towns, industrial monuments and natural landscapes. These range in time from the pre-historic Messel Pit Fossil Site to the early 20th century Bauhaus centers of Dessel and Weimar. Germany will position all 38 sites under the banner “UNESCO World Heritage – sustainable cultural and natural tourism.”

I never would underestimate the importance of validation by UNESCO in international tourism. It not only attracts foreign visitors, but it also adds a layer of protection, since countries are disincentivized from messing with heritage sites. Not that Germany is likely to do anything other than maintain, restore and protect. After all, this is a country that rebuilt after World War II with one eye on restoring the best of the past and the other on the future.

Petra Hedorfer, GNTB’s chief executive said that “For 34 percent of cultural tourists visiting Germany, the UNESCO designation represents an incentive to travel.”

Most Ethical Destinations Cited

 Best practices + superb scenic and cultural attractions = ethical travel destinations

EthicalTraveler-logoEthical Traveler’s annual survey of the world’s most ethical tourism destinations highlights 10 countries  in the developing world that have all demonstrated a clear and continuing commitment to environmental protection, human rights and social welfare. They are places you can visit with a clear conscience that you are supporting destinations that exhibit best practices and also offer great scenery and cultural attractions. This year’s 2013 top ethical destinations, in alphabetical order, are Barbados, Cape Verde, Costa Rica, Ghana, Latvia, Lithuania, Mauritius, Palau, Samoa and Uruguay. 

“This year’s winners are doing a great job showing the world that you can have a successful tourism industry along with sustainability and social justice,” said Ethical Traveler Executive Director Jeff Greenwald. “With the number of international arrivals expected to top the 1 billion mark in 2013, travelers have more power than ever. Every dollar we spend is a statement about which countries and governments we choose to support. By visiting the countries on our list, savvy travelers can have great vacations and promote the values we all share.”

Ethical Traveler used publicly available data to evaluate destinations on a broad spectrum of criteria including ecosystem support, natural and cultural attractions, political rights, press freedom, women’s equality, commitment to LGBT rights, and— the survey’s newest indicator— terrestrial and marine area protection.

Among the three examples of best practices: “Ghana maintains a high degree of freedom of the press, has a stable democracy which just re-elected a pro-environment President; about 15 percent of its territory is environmentally protected in some form. Latvia is well-rated for human rights and press freedom; it was also the most-improved country on the Socioeconomic Data and Applications Center (SEDAC) Environmental Performance Index (EPI). In Uruguay, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) rights and women’s rights are among the best in the region.”

This year’s report also includes a section recognizing “Destinations of Interest” for the coming year.  While not part of the 10 Best Ethical Destinations, Ethical Traveler encourages potential tourists to peer behind the “media curtain” and explore controversial countries like Burma, Cuba and Namibia that are in the midst of dramatic social changes.”

Bucket List Blog

My friend Karen Berger has launched a new travel blog, cleverly named BucketTripper, essentially an anthology of interesting experiences in interesting places around the globe that might be on your bucket list. I’ve been to a number of these places — and others certainly are list of places to see, to visit, to experience.

The site delivers on the seductive teaser on the home page: “Photographing lions in Ngorongoro Crater? Check.  Diving the Red Sea? Check. Hiking the Appalachian Trail? Check. Wandering the ruins of Petra? Check.  Learning to cook in Italy? Check. Our writers go there, do that, and bring you back the real deal.” She recruited “a team of experienced professional travel writers from all over the world” to provide content (alas no, I’m not one of them), and the adventures they recount are of interest to travelers who want some insight into slightly off-the-beaten-track but still accessible experiences. Check it out.