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Travel is so damn exciting that it can often blind us to the harsh realities it bestows on both global and local levels. While we certainly believe in the positive that results from travel in terms of personal gain for individuals and, to a point, monetary gain for destinations, no one should be ignorant to the major political and economical agendas that surround the world of travel and the impact it has on communities within countries. In her book Overbooked: The Exploding Business of Travel and Tourism, Elizabeth Becker investigates the effects of the world's top industry, both positive and negative, but mostly focusing on the latter.
Through personal experiences and interviews, she sheds light on topics ranging from the detrimental effects the cruise industry has on the environment and how it has ruined the authenticity in cities (and how they get away with it through political loopholes) to the booming segment of Chinese travelers that will essentially determine the future of tourism. She takes a hard look at some of the world's leading countries in terms of tourism, analyzing what they're doing right and what has gone wrong, including how France has remained an example to follow and how much trouble Africa has had preserving its natural parks.
Travel News / Airport News / Michigan Travel / ORD / AZO / Travel Industry / Animals / → All Tags
The United States isby any standard, historical or otherwisea staggeringly rich and sophisticated civilization. We have developed a travel industry of enormous complexity, and it keeps humming even when politicians who have no idea what they're doing try to break it. Every single day thousands of flights take off, follow their flight paths, and land. The combination of paths we plan for them are guided by incredibly sophisticated mathematical models taking into account thousands of variables.
So of course the people in charge of maintaining airports are turning to goats, sheep, llamas, and to even more low-tech animal-related solutions to help them with their jobs. We already told you yesterday about the barnyard menagerie at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport is using to mow its lawn. It sounds fake and it's low tech, but it does actually seems to work.
It turns out that other airport officials have come up with even faker-sounding solutions to problems.
We are notoriously torn over travel technology that purports to show off destinations (see here, here, here, and especially here). On one hand, it's awesome to get to see videosand even virtual reality renderingsof places we've never been. On the other, it allows douchebags to say things like "now you can travel the world without ever leaving the comfort of your own home." Of all the combinations of words in the world, that is among the ones which make us most stabby.
So when the press release for a new travel videos website landed in our inboxes, we were wary. The tagline for the site, creatively titled "Travel Videos," is "travel the world with videos." Danger Will Robinson, danger.
Airline Fees / Spirit Airlines / Spirit / Travel News / Alcohol Travel / Travel Industry / Wine Travel / In-Flight Cocktails / → All Tags
Once upon a time we wrote that Spirit Airlines seemed set on becoming "the Ryanair of the United States." Then a month laterin the context of raising fees and amid moves to create non-reclining seatsthey declared that they were really proud of being the Ryanair of the United States. True story.
Fast forward to last weekend, when the Daily Mail published a synopsis of fees charged by the airline. They found 70 of them, which the airline imposed in 2011 to the sum of $76 million in profits. Spirit charges for carry-ons. It charges for printing boarding passes at the terminal.
It even charges a $2 fee each way because the Department of Transportation passed some rules that the airline didn't like. Really. The fee is called the "Unintended Consequences of DOT Regulations Fee." It exists. Douchebags.
Celeb Travel / Seoul Travel / South Korea Travel / Psy / Travel Industry / Travel Advertising / Asiana Airlines / Travel News / Music Travel / Gangnam Style / → All Tags
CNN reported earlier this week that Psy has been named South Korea's new tourism ambassador. To which we immediately thought: ummm...he wasn't that already? Who were they using for tourism advertising instead? Because apparently it wasn't the really popular guy whose music videos have been viewed by billions of people in the recent past. And while we're not experts at this sort of thing, it seems to us like maybe they should have been using the really popular guy whose music videos have been viewed by millions of people in the recent past.
It turns out there's an answer to that question. Since October 2012 the tourism ambassador of South Korea has been Kenny G. No punchline. We're just going to let that hang there with no comment. The face of South Korean tourism for the last 6 months? Kenny G.
Today we learned that there are such things as dialysis cruises, and that they're part of a burdgeoning medical tourism industry that apparently "is increasingly recognized as an opportunity for the travel industry." We remember when tourists used to go abroad to faraway lands where they could view amazing monuments unthought of in their little parts of the planet. Now they go from Germany to Hungary to get their teeth worked on.
The Reuters article providing this insight also noted that a recent survey found that as many as 52% of Europeans could imagine themselves being medical tourists. That photo at the top of this page? It comes from the Flickr stream of Panama's tourism board, and it's there to promote the country as a medical tourism destination. Among its tags are "medical tourism," "Panama surgery," and "Panama cosmetic surgery." No but really, humanity's on the right path.
Travel Politics / Politics Travel / Airline Industry / Travel Industry / TSA / JFK / Airport Hell / → All Tags
You're a non-union employee responsible for some security at an airport, and you're trying to win public support on a controversy involving, first, your immediate working conditions and, second, your broad campaign to unionize. You need to walk the fine political line between asserting your rights and showing that you can be responsible. So what do you do?
If you're about 100 workers at JFK Terminal 3, apparently you vote to strike over the holidays starting December 20. You do this while your union supporters proudly retweet stories about disrupting family holiday plans. We're not experts in the travel industry or in public campaigning or anything, but it doesn't seem like they've thought their brilliant plan all the way through.
This. This right here. This is what we're talking about when we say we're giving up on the debate over Ryanair and its aggressive douchebaggery. The airline goes out of its way to insult its customers, and yet finds itself rewarded with consistent profits. So why shouldn't it treat its own staff in the same disrespectful way?
The question kind of answers itself, doesn't it?
Airline News / Southwest / Travel Industry / Travel News / LCCs / Lawsuits / → All Tags
We have no idea how USA Today managed to spin a 1,300+ word article out of a woman suing Southwest for $800,000 because she got burned by a cup of hot water. 43 year old Angelica Keller was sitting in the front row of the airplane and so didn't have a drop-down tray. She was trying to make herself a cup of tea by dipping a tea bag into the cup of hot water she had just been served. Only instead of doing that, she spilled the water on herself and got 2nd degree-burns. Now she's suing the Texas LCC because that's the world we live in. The End, right?
The article goes on for dozens of paragraphs after that. At first we thought the explanation for the obsessive detail was something like 'travel journalism is just magical that way.' Then we realized that very little of the article is actually about travel. It's actually a history of debates over frivolous product liability lawsuits. You just stopped reading, didn't you?
Don't go. There's actually quite a bit of travel geekery to be had here.
But if you insist on being obstinate and refusing to follow very basic safety travel rules, keep reading while we explain to you how millions and millions of hotel rooms in the world not only can be broken into by a simple hack, but are now actually being broken into. Our sister blog HotelChatter has been covering the hack since it was revealed, warning in July that the threat existed and in October that it was worse than previously thought.
For months hotel chains did little to nothing to fix the problem, and now it's led to real people losing real laptops and become a full-blown travel safety issue. Someone should at the very least get kind of reprimanded, don't you think?
For travel geeks who follow the often-dry travel industry, the intrigue surrounding l'affaire Tourism Australiawhich has seen Australia's national flag carrier Qantas sever an agreement with Australia's official tourism agency over charges of sabotageis kind of entertaining.
Here's the gist of it: the airline halted a $50 million deal between it and Tourism Australia over charges that Tourism Australia's chairman was involved in a "syndicate committed to unraveling Qantas' structure and direction," and that was trying to overthrow the current management and buy out the company. The partnership had lasted 40 years. Scandalous.
If you're actually in the travel industry, let alone involved with tourism boards that try to promote travel to Australia, the situation is much less amusing. In that case you're scrambling right now to deal with the fallout and telling newspapers about all the "damage" that needs to be "contained."
We’re pretty sure that we're not the only ones who have also been very worried about The Negotiator ever since he apparently perished during a fiery bus crash back in January. We’ve still utilized Priceline here and there, but it hasn’t quite been the same without William Shatnerreminding us how much we could save by naming our own price.
In case you haven’t seen the commercial yourself, there’s been some pretty good news. Apparently our favorite celebrity travel spokesperson survived the bus crash and has dedicated his life to surfing. Thankfully he’s back to show off the Priceline mobile app, and to remind us of all the ways we can save on flights, cars, and hotels.
Sure it’s a little silly, but we can’t think of a world in which Priceline doesn’t utilize Shatner as its pitchman—long live The Negotiator.