Travel News: London Loses Its Position As World’s Second Most Visited City


London Loses Its Position As World’s Second Most Visited City
Bangkok overtook London as the second most visited city in the world in 2015, according to latest figures from Euromonitor International. Hong Kong held on to the number one spot for the seventh year, despite an almost 4% drop in visitors to 26.7 million, while a near 7% increase in arrivals in London wasn’t enough to avoid it being bumped into third place. Bangkok leapfrogged into second place after seeing a 10% rise in visitors in 2015, to a total of 18.7 million. London attracted 18.6 million. Singapore came in fourth place with almost 16.9 million and Paris fifth with 15 million.Overall, there was a 5.5% increase in international travel to the world’s top 100 cities in 2015 compared with the previous year.

Hotel VAT Refund ‘Will Boost Tourism To Argentina’
Argentina’s decision to exempt foreign tourists from paying VAT on hotel stays has been welcomed by the Latin America Tourism Association. Tourists will receive a refund for the VAT, which today stands at 21%, when they pay for their accommodation. To receive the refund, they must pay with a foreign credit or debit card, provide their passport number and confirm their address. Tour operators and travel agents who take bookings must provide this information on their behalf. This new law, combined with the development of tourism infrastructure and the launch of new direct flights from Europe to the region, reflect the efforts being made by governments to open up Latin America to international tourism and to better promote the destination.

TSA Adds 11 Airlines To Precheck
Eleven additional airlines now are participating in the U.S. Transportation Security Administration’s Precheck program, including Avianca, Emirates, Spirit Airlines and Virgin Atlantic, the TSA announced. Other newly added carriers include Aruba Airlines, Boutique Air, Key Lime Air, Miami Air International, Southern Airways Express, Sunwing and Xtra Airways. Thirty airlines now participate in the program, which gives travelers access to expedited screening at more than 180 U.S. airports.

Magnitude 8 Earthquake Hits Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands
A powerful magnitude 8 earthquake hit the Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands on Sunday, but no tsunami was reported hours after the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center issued an alert for nearby islands. The quake struck at a depth of 103 miles under Papua New Guinea’s most eastern province of Bougainville, where the two South Pacific countries meet in a continuous archipelago. There were no immediate reports of casualties or damage. 

HAL Culinary Council Named ‘Best Culinary Initiative’ in Porthole Cruise Magazine

Holland America Line’s Culinary Council, a team of world-class celebrity chefs, was named “Best Culinary Initiative” in Porthole Cruise Magazine’s 2016 Editor-in-Chief Awards. The annual awards are chosen by Bill Panoff, the magazine’s editor-in-chief and publisher, who honors his favorite travel experiences that left an impression in terms of service, quality and memorable moments. The winners were announced in the Jan./Feb. 2017 issue of Porthole Cruise Magazine. The Culinary Council is a collaboration of some of the greatest international chefs, chaired by Holland America Line’s Master Chef Rudi Sodamin, a past recipient of Panoff’s “Best Cruise Line Chef” Editor-in-Chief Award. 


Australia To Replace Passports With Facial Recognition Technology
Australia’s international airports are in the process of automating 90% of air traveler processing by 2020 by implementing facial recognition technology that involves biometric recognition of faces, irises and/or fingerprints, hence eliminating the need to carry essential traveling documents such as passports.

Elton John Announces Spring 2017 Performance Dates At The Colosseum At Caesars Palace
Returning to The Colosseum at Caesars Palace to perform his most iconic hits, tickets for performances of Elton John’s critically-acclaimed show, “The Million Dollar Piano” for the following April 2017 and May 2017 dates have gone on sale. The dates for the show are: April 25-26 Tuesday, Wednesday, April 28-29 Friday, Saturday, May 1 Monday. May 3-4 Wednesday, Thursday and May 5 Friday. At the centerpiece of the performance is the show’s namesake piano, an engineering marvel featuring more than 68 LED video screens created by Yamaha. “The Million Dollar Piano” features iconic hits and classic album tracks from Elton’s incredible five-decade career, all enhanced by the most elaborate stage design Elton has ever used.

Emirates To Fly To US Via Athens
Reuters reports Emirates is to start flying to the US with a stop for passengers in Greece, its second so-called fifth freedom flight and a move that could anger US competitors who accuse it of competing unfairly through state subsidies.
The airline said Monday it would start daily flights to New Jersey’s Newark Liberty International Airport via Athens on March 12. Dubai-based Emirates already operates four daily flights to JFK in New York, including one with a stop off in Milan. Fifth freedom rights allow an airline to fly between foreign countries as a part of services to and from its home country. 

Lindblad Expeditions Names Next Ship National Geographic Venture

Lindblad Expeditions has named its newest addition to its fleet the National Geographic Venture, which is currently being built in Seattle and will make her inaugural voyage in June 2018, according to a statement. Sister ship to the National Geographic Quest which is launching in June 2017, they are the first newbuilds in Lindblad’s history and the only purpose-built expedition ships designed and built from scratch in the USA. The 100-guest National Geographic Venture will launch in June 2018 and will have 50 cabins, 22 with balconies, and six sets of connecting cabins for families and groups; all category 5 cabins can accommodate a third guest. The ship will be outfitted with a fleet of 24 sea kayaks, paddle boards, snorkeling equipment, and Zodiacs, according to Lindblad. Her inaugural voyage will be on the June 24, 2018 departure of “Treasures of the Inside Passage: Alaska & British Columbia.”

Sandals To Operate Marriott Hotel In Jamaica
Resort operator Sandals will manage a new hotel in Kingston, Jamaica, but on a very different model to its usual all-inclusive concept. Sandals has teamed up with Marriott International to bring the AC Hotels by Marriott brand to the Caribbean for the first time. It will be the first time Sandals has been involved in the management of a non-proprietary brand. The new build will feature 220 rooms and a 10,000-square foot conference centre, and is expected to open in 2019. Full service restaurants, a car rental facility, a wellness salon and retail units will also be housed in the mixed-use site.


Royal Caribbean To Offer PADI Dive Courses

Royal Caribbean cruisers can now become certified scuba divers, as the line has added onboard PADI (Professional Association of Diving Instructors) Five Star Dive Centers. Programs range from a 30-minute Try Dive program for newbies to PADI’s Reactivate Program for certified divers wanting a refresher course. Prices are reasonable, the Try Dive class costs $29 per person, while the Reactivate class is $59 per person. A third option is PADI’s Open Water Diver course, which allows passengers to complete their scuba diving certification; prices start from $599 per person. This course starts before the cruise with participants attending an online course using either the PADI Touch app for mobile devices or PADI eLearning online system for desktop and laptop computers. Once onboard, divers will begin in the ship’s pool before heading out to open waters for four mandatory, open-water training dives. The training dives will be split among two different ports of call. Courses will be offered on Royal Caribbean itineraries in the Caribbean and the South Pacific. 

American Airlines is Doing Away With The Seatback TV In Its New Planes
The new 737 MAX’s that will start arriving later this year for American Airlines won’t have seatback television screens, the airline said in a letter to employees. The reason is the abundance of smart phones, tablets and other electronics passengers bring on the plane for entertainment. American said more than 90% of flyers bring a device onboard with them. “Those phones and tablets are continually upgraded, they’re easy to use, and most importantly they are the technology that our customers have chosen,” the letter reads. “So it makes sense for American to focus on giving customers the best entertainment and fast connection options rather than installing seatback monitors that will be obsolete within a few years.” 

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One response to “Travel News: London Loses Its Position As World’s Second Most Visited City

  1. Pingback: “The Quiet American” and Other Classics of Southeast Asia | Willamette International Travel

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