World Travel Watch: Dubai’s Burj Khalifa Closed, Alternate Routes to Machu Picchu and More
World Travel Watch: Larry Habegger rounds up global travel news
02.10.10 | 11:38 AM ET
World Travel Watch is a weekly report designed to help you make informed judgments about travel. Conditions can change overnight, so always make your own inquiries before you leave home. The U.S. State Department and embassies or consulates are good places to start.
Dubai: World’s Tallest Tourist Attraction Closed as Elevator Falters
A month after it opened amid fireworks and fanfare, the world’s tallest building, the Burj Khalifa, closed when sightseers going to the 124th floor observation deck got trapped for 45 minutes in a malfunctioning elevator. They and others already on the observation platform were evacuated in a freight elevator. The building, a metaphor for Dubai’s meteoric rise, now appears to be mirroring the emirate’s dramatic financial fall—property values there dropped 50 percent during the worldwide economic crisis. The observation deck was the only floor open in the building as work continued to prepare for tenants coming in March. Agents were selling tickets to the observation deck for the week of Feb. 15, but officials gave no assurance that the tourist attraction or the elevator to get there would be reopened by that time.
Peru: Railway to Machu Picchu May Be Out, But There Are Other Ways to Get There
The famous Inca site of Machu Picchu may be inaccessible by train from Cuzco for the time being, but travelers will be able to reach the area by alternate routes. The Inca Trail will reopen as the weather improves so hikers will be able to get there, and local tour operators reported that around Feb. 18 others should be able to travel to Aguas Calientes, the town at the base of the peak, by road to Santa Teresa and Hidroelectrico and then by rail from Hidroelectrico. That journey will run about six hours, twice the amount of time the usual tourist train takes. Meanwhile, the government has placed top priority on fixing the rail line to Machu Picchu because tourism to the site plays such a large role in the country’s economy.
Thailand: Ruling on Thaksin Fortune May Prompt Protests, Instability
The Thai Supreme Court will rule Feb. 26 on whether the $2.2 billion fortune of disgraced former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra can be seized by authorities. The money, frozen after he was deposed in 2006, is believed to have been obtained largely through corruption. But he still has hundreds of thousands of “Red Shirt” supporters who intend to come out in large demonstrations to pressure the court to rule in his favor. Government-supporting “Yellow Shirts” may answer with counter-protests and tensions could escalate, especially in Bangkok. Rumors are spreading of divisions in the army and a possible coup. Any of these scenarios could disrupt travel around the capital, and possibly elsewhere within the country.
United Kingdom: London Tube Strike Coming Sunday
Maintenance workers on the London Underground’s Victoria, Bakerloo and Central routes plan 24-hour strikes every Sunday beginning Feb. 14 until their labor dispute is resolved. The issue involves new work schedules put in place by management and increased use of outside contractors. The strikes are scheduled to start at 6:45 a.m. and could cause disruptions, but London Underground officials say they intend to run good service across the network during the strikes.