Tag: Tourism

Tony Blair Calls for Cooperation on Holy Land Tourism

The former British Prime Minister thinks that Israel and the West Bank are due for a “major joint marketing campaign” to promote the region’s many holy sites. Speaking at Conde Nast Traveler’s World Savers Congress, Blair suggested that tourism—and the revenue potential it offers—could be a “huge support” to the peace process in the area.

Middle East peace through biblical bus tours? Seems like it’d be worth a shot.


World Travel Watch: Commonwealth Games Concerns in India, Elections in Cuzco and More

Larry Habegger rounds up global travel news

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Are the Olympics ‘Toxic’ for Tourism?

That’s the concern in London, where a report from the European Tour Operators Association suggests that host cities routinely overestimate the visitor bounce they’ll receive from the Games. Here’s the Guardian’s Owen Gibson:

Lord Coe, chairman of the London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games, has talked of 1 million “extra” visitors coming to the UK for the games.

But the ETOA report claimed that the perception that the host city would be crowded and prices expensive was likely to tarnish the view of the country as a whole.

It said its members were already dealing with the perception that the UK would be crowded and so best avoided in 2012.

For what it’s worth, London, I’m hoping to be there.


Travelers Checks: Now Available in Yuan

Yep, American Express is now offering the first-ever travelers check in Chinese currency. The news begs two questions: First, is this more evidence that China is on its way to becoming the world’s top tourist destination? And second, does anyone still use travelers checks?


Genghis Khan and the New Mongolia

The Atlantic has a dispatch from Bill Donahue, who’s been traveling in a changing Mongolia. As Donahue explains, the long-dead warlord is central to the country’s new commercial efforts:

Genghis Khan is Mongolia’s future. After his conquests were downplayed in the history books during seven decades of de facto Soviet rule, the nomad who ruled an empire stretching from the Caspian Sea to Siberia reemerged in 1990, as democracy was being established. Today, he is a poor nation’s avatar of hope—and he’s becoming a major industry.

In Ulaanbaatar, you can drink Chinggis beer at the Grand Khaan Irish Pub. (For obscure reasons, the local spelling differs from the Western.) The Genco Tour Bureau, an Ulaanbaatar-based company, has spent about $7 million on the Chinggis Khaan Statue Complex, a commercially minded homage where the giant steel Chinggis will soon be flanked by an artificial pond, a skating rink, and 200 small gers, or round tents, for paying campers. Nearby, Genco has also built a 13th-century living history museum, sort of a Colonial Williamsburg on the steppes, where artisans make felt by beating wool with wood sticks. And at the Chinggis Khaan Golf Country Club, the greens are tiny, bright patches of artificial turf on the infinite brown.

With a poignant hopefulness, Mongolia, population 2.7 million, is trying to establish a market economy in the deep shadow of neighboring China.


Niagara Falls Tourism: ‘Don’t Go To Toronto’

Yep, they went there. The Falls region has unveiled a new tourism campaign, contrasting an idyllic, natural environment—that’d be Niagara, apparently—with its next-door neighbor, Toronto. The big city is presented as a “crime-ridden, graffiti-laden, gridlocked urban prison,” to quote The Globe and Mail, and visitors are urged to “shake off the city” and visit Niagara instead. Toronto’s acting mayor called the campaign “an unnecessary cheap shot.”

This local TV news spot includes some footage of the ad in question—curiously, the Niagara depicted in it is entirely free of casinos, legions of tour buses, and gridlock all along the QEW.


Stieg Larsson Tourism Hits Sweden

The AP has a rundown of the key Stockholm sites from Larsson’s monster bestseller, “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo.” We’ve written before about traveling the world through crime fiction—I suppose this closes the circle? (Via The Book Bench)


Maureen Dowd: ‘A Girl’s Guide to Saudi Arabia’

In the latest issue of Vanity Fair, the longtime New York Times columnist heads to Saudi Arabia to explore the country’s slowly growing tourism scene from a woman’s perspective. The story’s not online, but this VF Daily preview described it as “one part travel romp and one part history lesson—with a healthy dash of moxie thrown in.”

It’s already stirring up criticism—the comments on the preview are uniformly negative, questioning everything from the story’s tone to its accuracy regarding legal restrictions on women in Saudi Arabia. Dowd spoke to NPR about the experience earlier this week. A slideshow from the trip is also available online.


Can Greece Count on Tourism to Rescue it From its Economic Hole?

It’s sure trying. World Hum contributor Joanna Kakissis reports for NPR on Greece’s efforts to lure visitors and fight the perception that rioters plague the country. One key target market: Germans.

German politicians are not popular in Greece. Greeks see them as the instigators of austerity measures that will mean years of recession ahead. The German media has also played up the rift between the two countries.

And that seems to be reflected in the number of Germans avoiding holidays here.

Germans usually make up about 15 percent of visitors to Greece. But the Association of Greek Tourism Enterprises estimates that 300,000 of them—or about 12 percent of the Germans who come to Greece annually—will stay away this year. About 16 million travelers visit Greece each year.

So Greece’s tourism ministry is trying to restore the country’s image in Germany and beyond.

Greece’s government has also “offered to compensate tourists stranded by labour unrest ahead of a new travel strike,” according to AFP


China Tackles Poor-Quality Tourist Tchotchkes

Is your cheaply made Chairman Mao statuette getting you down? Hunan’s Bureau of Quality and Technical Supervision is on the case. Xinhua reports that new technical standards for the popular souvenirs will come into force July 1.

According to the bureau’s chief engineer: “The move is expected to curtail the production and sale of low-quality Mao statues that harm the tourism market and people’s feeling for the great man.” (Via Gawker)


President Obama on the Gulf Coast: ‘Come Down Here and Visit’

The POTUS is visiting the Gulf Coast today—and he’s urging other Americans to do the same. USA Today’s The Oval blog quotes Obama:

There’s still a lot of opportunity for visitors to come down here. There are a lot of beaches that have not been affected and will not be affected. If people want to help, the best way to help is to come down here and visit.

The Oval dubs the suggestion “oil spill tourism,” but I’m not sure voyeur-style disaster tourism is quite what Obama has in mind. Still, whether it comes in the form of beachgoers who manage to avoid the spill or the morbidly curious aiming to witness its effects, it’s good to see tourism to the beleaguered area being encouraged.

Can’t make it in person anytime soon? World Hum contributor Robert Reid is tweeting from the Florida panhandle. Elsewhere, The Big Picture has a sobering photo essay illustrating the spill’s effects nearly two months in.


World Travel Watch: Volcanoes in Ecuador and Guatemala, Violence in Rome and More

Larry Habegger rounds up global travel news

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World Travel Watch: Havoc in Central America, Volcano Fears in Iceland and More

Larry Habegger rounds up global travel news

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Mapped: ‘Touristiness’ Around the World

A Google maps user has created a heat map of the world’s most visited places, using data from photo site Panoramio. The results aren’t all that surprising, but they sure do look cool. (Via Lifehacker)


Pirates to Captain: Just Tell Us Where the Tourism Boats Are

Chilling story by Sean Flynn in the latest GQ. He recounts the sagas of two hijacked boats in the Indian Ocean and tells how tourists—and tourism—are increasingly targets of pirates. One exchange:

“Tourism?” One of the pirates was close now. “Tourism boat?”

Roucou nodded. “Yes.”

The pirates broke into wide smiles, congratulating themselves, celebrating.

“Where is tourism? Where?”

“No tourists,” Roucou said. “There are none. They’ve all gone.”

The pirate scowled, then dispatched a few of his men to search the Explorer. They returned, confirmed there were no passengers on board. The pirates were no longer pleased.

“Where tourists? Where?”

The tourist boats were a few hours to the south, three of them near Assumption Island. Roucou had seen them earlier that day: the Sea Bird, the Adventurer, and the Hebridean Spirit, with nearly 200 passengers and crew among them.

“There are none,” Roucou told the pirates. “There’s only us.”

He’d answered quickly and surely, but the pirates did not believe him. Eight of them took most of the crew to the aft deck, and three stayed with Roucou and his chief engineer in the wheelhouse. One of them used the Explorer’s satellite phone to call a contact in Somalia, who spoke perfect English. He put Roucou on the line with a man named Abdi.

“Tell them where the tourism boats are,” Abdi said, “and they will let you go.”


Interview With Andrew Potter: Travel and the Search for Authenticity

Michael Yessis asks the author of "The Authenticity Hoax" if authentic travel experiences exist -- and about the cost of our search for them

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‘Kyoto Should Not be Building Concrete Boxes’

The New York Times takes a look at an ongoing debate in Japan over the future of the country’s tourism industry. At the heart of the issue: Should efforts to boost tourism emphasize modern initiatives, like the monster aquarium in the works in Kyoto, or focus on the country’s heritage buildings and traditional culture?

It’s an important question for a national tourism industry that has lagged behind its competitors. Reporter Hiroko Tabuchi notes that “the country generated just $10.8 billion from foreign tourism in 2008, a tenth of the $110 billion the United States earned from overseas tourists that year. Ukraine and Macao each attract more foreign tourists a year than Japan.”


Flurry of New Flights Landing in Iraq

The Independent rounds up the latest news from the country’s slowly-recovering travel industry. One thing worth noting, beyond the increasing availability of Iraq-bound flights from Western Europe? Apparently Iraq received more than a million tourists from the Middle East in 2008. Here’s hoping more travelers from outside the region can soon follow.


What Does a Travel Warning Look Like in Tijuana?

Avenida Revolucion in Tijuana. (Photo by Jim Benning)

Something like this, snapped with my camera phone over the weekend.

I went there for lunch and took a stroll down Revolution Avenue, the main tourist thoroughfare lined with bars and curio shops. A few years ago, the street would have been hopping with gringos out for an afternoon of margarita drinking, taco downing and sombrero buying. Not these days, and especially after the latest travel warning issued earlier this month.

A number of shops and restaurants were closed. The sidewalks, at least on some blocks, were nearly empty.

I’ve been going down to Tijuana for years. The drug-related violence has been taking a toll on the tourism business for a long time. But this was, by far, the emptiest I’d ever seen Revolution Avenue. Strangest of all, I didn’t see another gringo on the street during my visit. I was less than a mile from the U.S. border but in some ways felt as though I could have been in central Mexico.

One shopkeeper told me he sees more European visitors than American these days. (Now that I think about it, I saw more German travelers than American when I visited the southern Mexican state of Chiapas several years ago.)

Revolution Avenue wasn’t entirely empty. There were people out having drinks and lunch in bars and restaurants, and some of them appeared to be having a good time. They just weren’t white Americans.

This street designed to appeal to gringos is now, it appears, catering almost exclusively to Mexicans.


Tijuana Embraces its Touristy ‘Zonkeys’

Tijuana Embraces its Touristy ‘Zonkeys’ Photo: Roebot via Flickr (Creative Commons)
Photo: Roebot via Flickr (Creative Commons)

Behold the zonkey. This poor donkey and others like it, painted with stripes to resemble zebras, have been a kitschy mainstay on Tijuana’s Avenida Revolución for years. Before drug-related crime frightened most tourists away—visits from the U.S. have dropped off 80 percent since 2001—many would pay a few bucks to don sombreros and pose for photos with the animals. It’s a ridiculous tradition that somehow endures.

And now, a new Tijuana basketball team playing in a regional Mexican league has embraced the painted zebras, calling themselves the Tijuana Zonkeys. They have striped jerseys and, yes, even cheering “Zonkeys girls.”

The team’s president told the San Diego Union-Tribune: “It’s a crazy, cartoonish figure, and in a way, that’s what the city’s all about. It’s a crazy, cartoonish city where everything is possible.”

He’s right about that.

Go Zonkeys.