Category Archives: China

Travel News: Longest Lunar Eclipse this July

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The Longest Lunar Eclipse of the Century Is Happening in July 

Afar.com reports if you’re based in North America, you’ll have to travel to see the blood moon on July 27. A total lunar eclipse is happening on the night of July 27, and it will last 1 hour and 43 minutes, making it the longest lunar eclipse to take place this century. But if you want to see it in person, you’ll have to leave North America, since no part of the eclipse will be visible in the United States, Canada, or Mexico (unless you’re watching a livestream). A total lunar eclipse occurs when a full moon enters the Earth’s shadow. While some of the sun’s light can still reach the moon even when the Earth is directly between the two, our planet’s atmosphere filters out the blue light making the moon take on a deep red or rusty brown color, which is why a total lunar eclipse is also known as a “blood moon.” Unlike solar eclipses, lunar eclipses can be observed safely with the naked eye. According to NASA the entire eclipse will be visible from most parts of Africa and the entire Middle East will also have great views, if the weather is clear. But that’s not all. India, Pakistan, western China, and most central Asian countries reaching up to parts of southern Russia will also be able to see the eclipse in its entirety. Everyone in Europe, western Africa, and most of South America will be able to see the lunar eclipse after sunset on July 27. If you’re in Asia or Australia, you’ll get a glimpse of the blood moon just before sunrise on July 28.

Federal Aviation Administration Says Shrinking Airline Seats Are Not Its Problem 

The FAA has stated that squeezing bottoms into shrinking airline seats is not its problem. The FAA did so despite a demand for federal regulation of seat size, a lawsuit brought by the consumer group Flyers Rights, and a judge’s order that the agency reconsider its position. Reconsider, the FAA did, concluding that there is “no evidence that a typical passenger, even a larger one, will take more than a couple of seconds to get out of his or her seat” in the case of an emergency. Seat width on many major airlines has shrunk from about 18.5 inches to 17 inches. Seat pitch, the distance between your seat and the one directly in front of you, has decreased from an average of 35 inches to 31 inches, and on some airlines it has been reduced to 28 inches. While seats have grown smaller, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention report a growing size in American passengers. The average weight of a man is 192 lb (89 kg), a woman 165 lb (75 kg). Men pack a 101cm waistline. Women tickle the tape around the waist at 96cm. 

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Passing through DUBAI Airport? DXB is Getting The World’s Largest Vertical Farm

Business Insider that there are plans for a 130,000-square-foot vertical farm in Dubai. Vertical farms grow crops indoors and year-round without natural sunlight or soil. The facility will be the largest of its kind, and will produce 6,000 pounds of crops daily. The greens and herbs will be used for in-flight meals at Dubai International Airport, the world’s largest by international passenger traffic. When passengers board their flights at Dubai International Airport, most are served in-flight meals that include salads or greens atop sandwiches. These crops usually come from traditional, outdoor farms in the United Arab Emirates. By 2020, flights taking off from the airport will serve greens and herbs grown from a more high-tech source. The 130,000-square-foot indoor farm will produce up to 6,000 pounds of greens and herbs every day. Unlike traditional outdoor farms, Crop One grows crops year-round under LEDs (which mimic natural sunlight) located inside climate-controlled rooms, which are each set to optimal temperature and oxygen levels depending on the crop. Instead of soil, greens sprout in nutrient-rich water beds on trays stacked from the floor to the ceiling. Sensors in the trays track how the plants are doing in real time. The two companies will start construction in November 2018, and start delivering crops to Emirates Flight Catering’s customers, including 105 airlines and 25 airport lounges, in December 2019. Crop One currently operates a vertical farm in Millis, Massachusetts, and delivers to Boston metro area grocery stores under the Fresh Box Farms brand name. The new farm in Dubai will surpass the size of the current world’s largest vertical farm, which is operated by AeroFarms. The facility grows greens inside a 69,000-square-foot warehouse in Newark, New Jersey. AeroFarms and other big indoor farming companies mostly sell their products to supermarkets, but Crop One believes greater opportunity may lie within airline partnerships.

Click Here for WIT Agent Pam’s feedback on her trip to DUBAI

Air New Zealand Allowed To Recycle Untouched Snacks And Beverages 

Airlineratings report a project that allows Air New Zealand to re-use untouched snacks and beverages from international flights has prevented more than 132 tonnes of “waste” being sent to landfill in the first nine months. Air New Zealand received permission form New Zealand authorities in August, 2017, to distribute 40 inflight products from international aircraft landing in Auckland to future flights. The unused products were previously sent to landfill because of New Zealand’s tough biosecurity controls and were burnt or buried. The airline said the figure so far, equivalent to the weight of three of its Airbus A320 aircraft, meant it was confident the program would meet its planned target of saving about 150 tonnes from landfill annually. It said tracking to date showed more than nine million individual items had been recovered for reuse or recycling rather than going to landfill. Items that had each seen more than one million recovered included plastic cups, sugar sticks, one paper cups and paper cup lids. Air New Zealand has a number of initiatives to reduce waste, with a program in place to tackle organic waste from office spaces, repurpose office materials and lounge furniture, and blankets. It also last year began plugging in its jets to gates to provide them with power rather than use on-board auxiliary power units, small jet engines in the tail of the aircraft. It estimates that using electricity from the gate will save about 4500 tonnes annually in carbon emissions. 

US airlines and China: tension over how websites refer to Taiwan

China has rejected U.S. requests for talks over how American airlines and their websites refer to Chinese-claimed Taiwan, according to sources, including a U.S. official. China has demanded that foreign firms, and airlines in particular, begin referring to Taiwan as Chinese territory on their websites, along with Hong Kong and Macau. Numerous non-U.S. carriers, such as Air Canada, Lufthansa and British Airways have already made changes to their websites, according to Reuters. But several U.S. companies, including Delta Air Lines and United Airlines, were among carriers that sought extensions to a May 25 deadline to make the changes. The final deadline is July 25. In late May, the U.S. State Department presented China’s Foreign Ministry with a diplomatic note requesting consultations on the matter, but the ministry has since refused it. 

 

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A new airline enters the market very soon

From Conde Nast Traveler: The International Airline Group (IAG) already has a ton of airlines-British Airways, Iberia, Aer Lingus- but they just announced a “new” budget airline in Europe, one that will start flying on July 17. Level already exists as a relatively new long-haul carrier flying between the U.S. and Barcelona. In this new version, those cheap long-haul flights-from Buenos Aires, Los Angeles, Boston, and San Francisco to Barcelona, and then more recently from New York City to Paris and Madrid-will still stand. But those flights (about $350 round-trip, even from the West Coast) look expensive in the face of $30 one-way flights between London and Vienna, which launch on July 17, along with cheap flights between Vienna and Mallorca. The company will expand quickly in August, launching routes from Vienna to Barcelona, Madrid, Florence, Paris, Dubrovnik, and a number of other Italian and Spanish cities, The Independent reports.

Cross the Atlantic with Bob Mackie designs on the Queen Mary 2

Cunard has partnered with Julien’s Auctions to offer guests an exclusive opportunity to sail with legendary fashion icon Bob Mackie and enjoy a special exhibition preview of “Property from the Collection of Bob Mackie,” which includes some of the designer’s most famous pieces. The Transatlantic Crossing sets sail out of Southampton, England on August 19, 2018 (M831B), ahead of the auction which will take place on November 17, 2018 in Los Angeles and online at juliensauctions.com. Renowned fashion and costume designer Bob Mackie is best known for his creations for Cher, Carol Burnett, Diana Ross, and Raquel Welch. From his unforgettable award-winning wardrobe as the costume designer for the first Carol Burnett Show to his longtime collaboration with Cher and her dazzling, boundary-pushing wardrobe on her TV show, concert tours and public appearances, the nine-time Emmy® award winning designer, three-time Academy Award® nominee and Television Academy Hall of Fame inductee has spent a distinguished career designing for women who dare to be noticed. His achievements have been honored with numerous awards and accolades and he continues his work by designing for the upcoming The Cher Show, set to open on Broadway in fall 2018.

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Travel News: The World’s Longest Sea Bridge

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Airlines Must Continue To Accept Service Animals

Reuters reports the US Department of Transportation told airlines on Tuesday that they must continue to allow the transport of the most common service animals, but said it was asking for public comment about amending its existing regulations. The department said in a statement that it “wants to ensure that individuals with disabilities can continue using their service animals while also helping to ensure that the fraudulent use of other animals not qualified as service animals is deterred.”

Yokohama On Track To Open Two New Cruise Terminals In 2019

Yokohama, Japan, is gearing up for increased calls and accommodating bigger cruise ships with two new cruise terminals due to be fully operational in 2019. Last year the Japanese port, 20 minutes away from Tokyo’s Haneda airport, welcomed 178 cruise calls and a similar number is expected this year. Five years ago in 2013, there were some 152 calls and 120 calls ten years ago. Princess vessels have been a regular highlight of the Yokohama skyline since they first began calling with Dawn Princess in 2009, Sun Princess in 2010 and Diamond Princess in 2013. Last year Diamond Princess alone made 21 calls and Majestic Princess made a maiden call. In 2019, Princess returns for a sixth season with round-trips from Yokohama.
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China Unveils World’s Longest Sea-Crossing Bridge

China’s new Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge, spanning 34 miles (55 kilometers), is the longest sea-crossing bridge ever built. Guo Xinglin, assistant director and senior engineer at the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge Authority, said the tough conditions his construction crew experienced, as they perched on precarious platforms, working miles from land and high over the water, are evident. Due to open to the public this summer, this long snake of bitumen will connect a relatively small city on the Chinese mainland with the two Special Administrative Regions of Hong Kong and Macau. Since the bridge was first suggested in 2003, it has stirred controversy. This massive span of concrete and steel is not just proof of China’s ability to build record-setting megastructures, it’s also a potent symbol of the country’s growing geopolitical ambitions.

Hawaii Tourism Gives Perspective On Volcano Situation

The Hawaiian Tourism Authority says that “there is absolutely no reason at this time for travelers to change or alter their leisure or business plans.” Here are some facts to back up the claim: All of the Hawaiian Islands are unaffected by Kīlauea volcano except a remote area on the island of Hawai’i’s east side. Out of the island’s 4,028 square miles, only less than a 10-square-mile area of Leilani Estates and Lanipuna Gardens Subdivisions in Puna is affected. All flights into Ellison Onizuka Kona International Airport at Keāhole, KOA (west) and Hilo International Airport, ITO (east) are operating normally. All accommodations, activities and attractions on the island are also operating normally, with the exception of those in the area affected by the lava activity. Air quality on the island of Hawai’i remains largely unchanged with this situation. However, air quality near where the lava is flowing can be hazardous (SO2-sulfur dioxide), and officials are continuing to monitor air quality. 
A Few Other Facts to Note About Kilauea: 
  • Big Island is 4000 sq. miles.  The volcano action is in one very small corner
  • Tradewinds blow from NE to SW and the volcano is in the SE of the island. Fumes and VOG would have to move SE to NW (reverse of the trade wind pattern) to impact Hilo, Kona, Kohala coast, etc.
  • There is another volcano, Mauna Loa, between Kilauea and most of the rest of the island.  Mauna Loa is the largest volcano on earth. Lava can’t flow uphill –
  • Yes, it is tragic for the people that have lost their homes, but it is a still a very small area that is being impacted.

Orlando First US Destination To Top 70 Million Annual Visitors

Open Jaw reports Orlando has become the first US destination to surpass 70 million visitors in one year. In 2017, 72 million visitors traveled to Orlando, an increase of more than 5% over the prior year, once again making it America’s most-visited destination. Visit Orlando, the region’s official destination tourism and marketing organization, shared the number at a gathering of more than 1,000 tourism and community leaders. “Our record-breaking year was achieved despite international headwinds and the statewide effects of Hurricane Irma,” said Visit Orlando President and CEO George Aguel. “In 2017, our destination launched new consumer experiences on a significant scale and our marketing efforts leveraged increasing consumer confidence in the United States. We also continued our focus on communicating the unique emotional connection visitors have with Orlando.” 

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Asia with Avanti Destinations

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This is the time to book travel to Southeast Asia, for travel in November to March as the dry and temperate season rolls in, and the Chinese New Year seems to awake everyone up out of their wintry reverie.

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We’re excited to be working with Avanti Destinations as one of our reputable tour guides in Asia. Avanti makes it simple to book hotel, transport and tour packages with local guides, and their customizable itineraries just shave off the hassle of travel planning.

Let Willamette Intl Travel design Asian itinerary for you and your travel companions, complete with flights and a personalized package. Whether you need an affordable hotel package, or would like to build in some unique culinary or outdoor escapades, Avanti offers a hassle-free way to build it into your existing Asian itinerary.

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Want to leave it to the professionals? Avanti can take care of you from the moment you step off the plane to your last spectacular evening in Asia.

Or perhaps you like planning hotels on your own, but need a fun tour of downtown Ho Chi Minh and not sure where to start looking. Not sure how to make friends in the rice terraces of Sapa? Avanti’s got you covered:

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Thailand: Discover the “Land of Smiles” on the bustling streets of Bangkok, to the famous temples of Chiang Mai, to the achingly gorgeous beaches of Phuket.

China: As part of an Asian cruise, spend 1-3 nights post-cruise in Hong Kong exploring Kowloon. Or build in a stop at the ancient port city of Shanghai, now one of the most technologically advanced cosmopolises in the world.

Myanmar: Looking to explore the blooming country of Myanmar? Go back in time to a simpler Asia with Avanti’s Myanmar Essentials: Yangon, Bagan and Manadalay.

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Singapore: Explore Singapore Highlights, such as Kampong Glam, Chinatown, Majestic Gardens and Little India, experiencing a one-of-a-kind after dark wildlife safari adventure–on your way to connect to Bali.

Taiwan: Uncover the sleeping, hidden gems of Taiwan, its ornate temples, beautiful lakes and stays in the countryside.

River Cruises: Enjoy ancient waterways with a Mekong River Cruise, Halong Bay Cruise or Yangtze Upstream Cruise.

And Many More Destinations: Japan, Philippines, Cambodia, Laos, Indonesia, etc. 

Our Agents at Willamette Intl Travel can design your Asian adventure from start to finish. Call us 503-224-0180 or email info@wittravel.com. 

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WIT Agent Abroad: Nancy in China with Alexander + Roberts (with insider tips!)

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Today WIT Agent Nancy is heading out to China with Alexander + Roberts! We’re excited to see what she’ll uncover.

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What is Alexander + Roberts?

A&R organizes small-group tours with no more than 16 guests for those who want to explore at their own pace with a bit of company. These are culturally rich itineraries led by local, certified guides, exploring the heart of a country at a steady, comfortable pace.

Many of our agents have traveled with A+R in different locales and would love to discuss options with you. Call us at 503-224-0180 or email info@wittravel.com.

For an itinerary in Japan with Alexander + Roberts, click here

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Highlights of the Middle Kingdom

Nancy’s upcoming 10-day itinerary combines land + river – covering Beijing, exploring the Wu Gorge and Three Gorges Dam aboard the Yangtze Explorer, Xi’an and Shanghai.

Among the highlights along the way:

  • Experience life as a city resident as you browse in a market for produce to bring to your hosts, a local Beijing family who will offer real personal insight into this rapidly evolving city.
  • Learn Tai Chi with a master as you join him for a private class at the Temple of Heaven.
  • A Xian resident shares his lifetime of experience as you explore with him through a city market filled with exotic fare.
  • + Sit down in one of Shanghai’s newly popular wine lounges and learn about China’s emerging taste for fine vintages… Enjoy a congenial luncheon and a glass of the house favorite.
  • + Includes 4 UNESCO World Heritage sites.

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Itinerary

BEIJING

With your expert guide, venture out into the mountains outside Juyong Pass to walk atop the breathtaking Great Wall. In Beijing, tour the grand palaces and pavilions of the Forbidden City.

You’ll start the day with a private Tai Chi lesson and learn about daily life in old China, then fly from Beijing to Yichang to board the Yangzi Explorer for a night in a balcony stateroom.

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YANGTZE EXPLORER

The leisurely cruise charts an upstream course along the Yangtze. Visit the Three Gorges Dam, the world’s largest hydropower dam. The ship journeys up Shennong Stream, where you might catch glimpses of sampan boats poled by Tujia boatmen and the elusive Golden Hair Monkey.

Explore Fengdu ‘s New City and take part in lectures and hands-on workshops in Chinese calligraphy, traditional brush painting, Mahjong and the art of dumpling making.

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XI’AN

Fly from Chongqing to Xi’an to admire China’s ancient capital for 13 centuries, its bustling Muslim market, and the world-famous terracotta army.

SHANGHAI

Lastly, fly to Shanghai for a tour of the lovely Yu Yuan Garden and a world-famous Shanghai acrobat show.

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HONG KONG EXTENSION – 4-Day POST TOUR

Experience facets of Hong Kong which few visitors ever glimpse. We include your flight from Shanghai to Hong Kong, 3 nights at the 5-star Kowloon Shangri-La, daily breakfast, lunch at Jimmy’s Kitchen and our exclusive Be a Hong Kong Insider full-day tour.

Insider Tips on Travel to China

PLUS: Nancy’s got the scoop on insider tips from A+R! Some tips for traveling with A&R in China:

  • Joining in with tai chi? Pack some looser, clothes, perhaps layers. Barefoot is acceptable.
  • There is no tailor onboard the Explorer ship, so ask your tour escort early in Beijing in case you need some clothes repair.
  • Doing some independent wandering during free time from your hotel? Always get the hotel’s business card, written in Chinese, to show a taxi driver when you need to find your way back.
  • If you take USD cash to exchange, bring nothing bigger than $50 bills and in pristine condition. Best to bring mostly smaller bills.  Keep exchange receipts and don’t over-exchange so that you return home with local currency.
  • Silk scarves are very popular. You will be asked if you want “real” or “almost real”. If you don’t ask or are not asked, you will be directed to the least expensive ones, which are the fakes. Best deals for real silk scarves and also wool shawls is in Beijing. Ask your tour escort where to find the best!
  • A&R selects hotels partially for those that have money exchange ability. Some hotels don’t even charge A+R passengers to exchange money. 
  • Always ask the escort for their opinion on how much local currency you may need/want over the next few days.
  • Have a shopping list and ask your first guide for the best places to obtain the items during your itinerary. Follow his recommendations. They are spot on.

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Travel News: Chinese Gov’t Requiring Strict Photos for China Visa

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Chinese Gov’t Requires Strict Photo Regulations for China Visa

Lately the Chinese government has gotten very particular on their acceptance of photos on the China visa application. Applicants must adhere to the visa requirements to the letter or risk rejections. Please double check with your passport photo photographer that they are up-to-date with recent regulations. Full details on requirements in the attached PDF here. 

Biggest-Ever Airplane Poised For Test Flights Into Orbit

The world’s largest airplane, designed to reshape space travel by launching rockets mid-air into orbit from 30,000 ft, rolled out of its hangar for the first time last Wednesday at the Mojave Air and Space Port. The groundbreaking plane, which looks like two aircraft joined together, is the brainchild of billionaire Microsoft Co-Founder Paul Allen and his private spaceflight company Stratolaunch. Allen founded the company in 2011 with the goal of making access to low-Earth orbit more “convenient, reliable and routine.” It has the biggest wingspan of any aircraft ever built, coming in 385 ft, longer than an NFL field which is 360 ft in length. The aircraft is 238 ft from nose to tail and stands 50 ft high on its 28 wheels. This is the first time the public has got a look at the spaceplane and now work must begin on testing before its predicted maiden voyage in 2019.

Montreal Ferris Wheel Set For July Opening

Montreal’s new La Grande Roue Ferris wheel will start operating in the Old Port in mid-July. The ride will offer panoramic 60-metre-high views of the river, Old Montreal, downtown and the mountain. The Ferris wheel will operate year-round from 10 a.m. to 11 p.m., giving visitors a chance to enjoy a day or evening view from an air-conditioned cabin (heated in winter). There will also be a bar, bistro and coffee shop on site

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Record Number Of Climbers On Mount Everest

Safety concerns are on high alert this year as Mount Qomolangma, more commonly known as Mount Everest, is expected to see its highest number of climbers this year. The mountain is located on the border between Nepal and China and in order to climb it, interested climbers need to apply for a permit from either the Nepalese or Chinese government depending on which side the ascent begins. Unlike previous years, the world’s highest peak which sits at 8,848 meters above sea level, is estimated to receive more than 1000 people this year during the peak season, which is the highest number of climbers ever. The cause of the increasing number of climbers is varied but a lot of it has to do with the increasing popularity of the climb ever since it was opened to the public over 60 years ago. This year alone, the Nepalese government has granted 371 permits, the most it’s ever issued in a single year. A key factor which has caused the growth of the number of climbers may be the portrayal of Mount Everest in popular media. Experienced climbers have noted that the climb is promoted as a fashionable activity rather than what it truly is; a challenging extreme sport which should only be limited to climbers who have had experiences with similar conditions such as the 5,895 meters tall Mount Kilimanjaro. In order to handle the increase of applications, the Nepalese government has imposed more stringent conditions such as instigating a ban on climbers who are younger than 18 or older than 75.

Royal Caribbean Reinstates Corkage Fee for Wine Brought Onboard

Cruise Critic reports Royal Caribbean has reinstated its corkage fee for wine brought onboard by passengers. The $15 per bottle fee will be charged for the opening of any bottle brought onboard by passengers on embarkation day. Wine purchased from the onboard menus or through the line’s Gifts and Gear program and consumed in a public space does not bear an extra charge. Passengers are permitted to bring onto their cruise ship, on embarkation day only, two bottles of wine or Champagne per cabin, up to 750 ml each for consumption during the cruise. Any bottles brought onboard during the length of the sailing will be stored for the duration of the cruise and returned to passengers the night before disembarkation. Royal Caribbean declined to comment on why the line brought back the fee, which it had removed back in 2014.

President Trump To Reverse Cuba Policy

There are many reports circulating that the President plans to reverse the previous administration’s Cuba policy. Business Travel News reports US cruise operators and airlines could lose $712 million in annual revenues if restrictions are reinstated. President Trump is poised to void the re-normalization of US relations with Cuba, according to multiple congressional and advocacy organization sources with direct knowledge of the administration’s intentions reported by numerous news media yesterday. Possible changes Pres. Trump is considering include “reconfirming the licensing structure that would rescind the system that has allowed for easier travel to the country,” many news media outlets report, as well as new regulations for businesses interested in working in the Cuban market; reinstating caps or outright banning imports from the country; and redefining the what it means to be a part of the Cuban government or military, which could affect contracts with the Cuban government. The sources say some of the changes could take effect this month. US businesses have established 26 agreements with the Cuban government from 2015 to 2017, according to ABC News, including airlines and cruise lines as well as telecommunications companies and Google, which hoped to expand internet access in Cuba. The number of US citizens visiting Cuba increased 74% from 2015 to 2016, according to the Cuban Ministry. Trump’s administration is reviewing US policy toward the country’s former Cold War foe.

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Arctic Tourism Groups Forge Guidelines For Community Visits

Five Arctic tourism organizations have joined forces to develop guidelines for tourists visiting Arctic communities. In addition to general advice on how to behave, the organizations presented a template that helps communities to create their own tailored guidelines. The guidelines, which provide travelers with useful dos and don’ts when visiting Arctic communities, were developed with the input of local stakeholders. Included are pointers on everything from cultural considerations to recommendations on what kind of souvenirs to buy. For example, visitors are encouraged to talk to, and not about, the people they meet and to ask before taking photographs of people (‘a hesitation means “no”‘). ‘Think of yourself as an ambassador for your country and your culture, as the locals are for theirs. Politeness and good manners are always appreciated,’ one guideline states. Visitors are advised to respect privacy and private property, and places of religious or cultural significance. Children shouldn’t be photographed or given gifts without their superiors’ permission. Religious or cultural ceremonies shouldn’t be disturbed or photographed without permission. People should avoid walking on graves. The groups that teamed on the guidelines are the Association of Arctic Expedition Cruise Operators (AECO), Visit Greenland, Cruise Iceland, Visit Svalbard and the Northern Norway Tourist Board.

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6 Travel News Tidbits

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1. Viking Cruises partners with National Geographic

Viking Cruises will sponsor National Geographic’s first fully scripted global anthology series, “Genius,” which will tell the story of Albert Einstein. During the global premiere of Genius — April 25 at 9PM ET/PT on National Geographic — Viking will showcase their brand campaign “Time.” The Founder of Viking, Torstein Hagen, is a lifelong admirer of Einstein and a physicist himself. Read more on their website.

2. Hilton rapidly expanding

In 2016, Hilton opened a whopping 354 properties — that’s nearly one per day! Hilton is especially progressing in China, with 328 properties open or to open. In total, Hilton has 4875 hotels open worldwide.  

3. More attention to flying needs for children with neurological issues

Wings for Autism®/Wings for All® are sponsoring airport “rehearsals” specially designed for individuals with autism spectrum disorders and individuals with intellectual/developmental disabilities. The programs are designed to alleviate the stress that families who have a child with autism or intellectual/developmental disabilities experience when flying. It provides families the opportunity to practice entering the airport, obtaining boarding passes, going through security and boarding a plane. Learn more here at The Arc’s website

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4. What’s NEW for the 72-Hour Visa Free Transit in Beijing

Beijing has introduced new regulations concerning the 72-hour transit without visa. Travelers must now fill in an application and wait for clearance. An application form and background check are required for stays over 24 hours. So travelers need: 1) onward ticket, 2) application form, 3) background check. This system doesn’t necessarily exist in other Chinese cities as they can be different. In Shanghai, for instance, you can stay double the time (6 days / 144 hours) without a visa. Ask your WIT Travel Agent to Learn More.

5. Avalon Waterways Announces A New Ship

Avalon Waterways is expanding in 2018 with a new ship for the Mekong River, adding new active and themed cruises and cutting the single supplement for all European river cruises. The line’s next new ship will be based on the Mekong River in Southeast Asia, sailing between Ho Chi Minh City and Siem Reap. The 36-passenger vessel will be called Avalon Saigon and will launch in September 2018. The cabins will be slightly bigger, at 245 square feet, with sliding French balcony doors that extend 9 feet. The 14-foot windows have screens to keep out insects. Ask your WIT Travel Agent about available cruises, itineraries, and pre- and post-cruise land tours. 

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6. Did You Know? Two-thirds Of Travel Websites In EU Mislead On Prices

According to a European Commission report, 2/3 of EU websites display misleading prices. Of the 352 price comparison and travel booking websites checked in October 2016, the Commission found 235 gave prices that were not reliable. The sweep of websites, conducted with consumer protection authorities, found that in 1/3 of cases, the final price was not the same as the first price shown. In 1/5 of cases, promotional prices were not available at all. Additionally, in 1/3 of cases, the final price or the way it was calculated was not clear. In a quarter of instances, websites did not make it clear that room availability applied just to that site, and rooms might be available through other channels. The Commission said the 235 websites will have to correct the irregularities and it will ensure sites comply with national enforcement procedures.

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Travel News Update: Hong Kong and E-Cigs

 

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If you’re entering Hong Kong with e-cigarettes containing nicotine, you’ll need a medical prescription indicating that they’re for personal use. If the e-cigarette is nicotine-free and for personal use, no medical prescription is needed. So travelers, be aware: you should either show proof that the e-cigarette is without nicotine, or show prescription. Nicotine is considered a Part 1 poison in Hong Kong, and the possession of a nicotine e-cigarette without a prescription faces a penalty up to $100,000 fine and 2 years’ imprisonment.

This order follows recent efforts by officials, headed by Secretary for Food and Health Professor Sophia Chan, to step up on e-cigarette control and its possible carcinogens. Take note that in Hong Kong, cigarette smoking, including e-cigarettes, is banned in no smoking areas, including all indoor public areas, and some outdoor areas like school campuses and parks.

Other entry requirements remain unchanged; US citizens can visit Hong Kong for up to 6 months without a visa. If you visit mainland China via Hong Kong, you must obtain a Chinese visa before arrival at the Chinese border.

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