Entries in travel (13)


China Forbids International Tourism to Tibet Indefinitely

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(BEIJING) -- In a matter of days, the number of expected foreign visitors to Tibet has gone from millions to zero.

Chinese authorities alerted foreign travel agencies on Tuesday that they would no longer be issuing entry permits to Tibet, the latest in a series of regulations being put on travelers there. The announcement follows the self-immolation of two Tibetans last week.

Tibet is no stranger to Chinese interference in its tourism industry.  Tibet’s failed rebellion in March 1959 and the event’s annual memorial on National Uprising Day has chronically put the region at odds with the People’s Republic of China.  

In 2008, protests after National Uprising Day turned into riots that were met with violence by PRC forces.  The Chinese government temporarily closed Tibet to foreign visitors.  That is now an annual practice in March, and during other national events significant to the Chinese government.

Now, many are saying that the latest in a string of Tibetan self-immolations led to the country’s shutdown to outsiders.  According to Free Tibet, a campaign promoting Tibetan independence from China, there have been more than 30 self-immolations since March 2011.  Most recently, on May 27, 2012, two Tibetans were the first to set themselves on fire in Lhasa, Tibet’s tightly-controlled administrative capital.  

The shutdown also coincides with the Saga Dawa festival, which celebrates the Buddha’s birth and draws many Buddhists to Tibet.  This year, the festival began on June 4, which is also the anniversary of the Chinese government crackdown on the Tiananmen Square protests.

While many tourism agencies have learned to adapt and predict the trends on tourism bans, this closure comes as something of a shock.  According to Nellie Connelly, marketing director of WildChina, a prominent travel company that regularly coordinates trips to Tibet, Chinese authorities informed the company in mid-May that travelers would only be allowed to visit Tibet in groups of five people of the same nationality.  Last week, the government stopped issuing entry permits to Tibet altogether.  

Connelly is in the process of rerouting customers whose Tibetan vacations are affected by the new ban.  Only those Chinese nationals are allowed to enter the region.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Which Nation Is Most Likely to Sunbathe Nude?

Stockbyte/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- It’s not the one you might expect. Expedia’s summer travel survey posed the question on nude sunbathing to 8,600 people around the world and found that only two percent of Americans were likely to shed their clothing on the beach -- no big surprise there. The Brits also came in at two percent, as did New Zealanders and Argentineans.  Only the Japanese were less likely than Americans to sunbathe nude.

Germans, on the other hand, were far more likely to take it all off.  At 15 percent, they’re the most likely of all the 21 nations surveyed to bare it all.

The French, although still in the top quarter, were far more modest than one might guess, given the tradition of topless sunbathing on the Riveria. But only five percent said they took it all off on the beach.

Here are the tallies:

  • Germany: 15 percent
  • India: 8 percent
  • Spain: 8 percent
  • France: 5 percent
  • Italy: 5 percent
  • Sweden: 6 percent
  • Denmark: 6 percent
  • Australia: 5 percent
  • Canada: 5 percent
  • Singapore: 5 percent
  • Mexico: 6 percent
  • Netherlands: 6 percent
  • Brazil: 5 percent
  • Ireland: 4 percent
  • South Korea: 4 percent
  • Norway: 3 percent
  • Argentina: 2 percent
  • New Zealand: 2 percent
  • United States: 2 percent
  • United Kingdom: 2 percent
  • Japan: 1 percent

The survey also found that Americans spend 40 percent of their allotted vacation days at the beach. Turns out we’d rather be at the beach (26 percent) than doing pretty much anything else, including visiting family (22 percent.

And what about those naked Germans? Turns out their love of the beach surpasses that of any other country. They must have a tricks for keeping sand out of places it doesn’t belong.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Photo of Missing Girl Madeleine McCann Used to Sell Travel?

Metropolitan Police Service(LONDON) -- An advertisement for travel deals in Portugal featured a photo of the missing little girl Madeleine McCann. The website,, used a photograph of Madeleine taken before she disappeared five years ago, when she was 4-years-old, a family spokesman told Sky News.

The ad read, “£20 off: Great discount on holiday bookings.” Clarence Mitchell, the McCann family’s spokesman, told Sky News, “The misuse of Madeleine’s picture in this way is utterly appalling and frankly unforgivable. Kate and Gerry [Madeleine's parents] were horrified when they found out about it. It is offensive in the extreme. Whether it’s a mistake or hacking it’s an utter disgrace.”

VoucherDigg was promoting travel deals for another website, Lawrence Hunt, chief operating officer of, called the ad “vile” and said his site had broken all links to VoucherDigg.  He also said his company had contacted its lawyers.

“We have no contract with VoucherDigg to advertise our holidays, and we are doing all that we can to contact the website and get the picture removed. We apologize for any distress this may have caused, which is completely beyond our control and are disgusted by the use of this image,” Hunt said in a statement.

As of now,’s website loads no more than a blank white page.

Madeleine McCann disappeared while her family was on vacation in Algarve, Portugal, on May 3, 2007.  She would have turned 9-years-old this week.  An age-enhanced image of what Madeleine would look like today was released on the five-year anniversary of her disappearance.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


To Boost Tourism, Japan Offering 10,000 Free Round-Trip Tickets

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(TOKYO) -- If you’ve ever wanted to visit Japan, this may be your chance.

In a desperate attempt to lure tourists back to a country plagued by radiation fears and constant earthquakes, the Japan Tourism Agency‘s proposed an unprecedented campaign -- 10,000 free round-trip tickets.

The catch is, you need to publicize your trip on blogs and social media sites.

The number of foreign visitors to Japan has dropped drastically since a catastrophic earthquake and tsunami triggered a nuclear disaster at the Fukushima Dai-ichi Power plant in March. Nearly 20,000 people have been confirmed dead, while more than 80,000 remain displaced because of radiation concerns. In the first three months following the triple disasters, the number of foreign visitors to Japan was cut in half, compared with the same time in 2010. The strong Japanese currency has also made matters worse.

The tourism agency says it plans to open a website to solicit applicants interested in the free tickets. Would-be visitors will have to detail in writing their travel plans in Japan, and explain what they hope to get out of the trip. Successful applicants would pay for their own accommodation and meals. They would also be required to write a review their travel experiences, and post it online.

“We are hoping to get highly influential blogger-types, and others who can spread the word that Japan is a safe place to visit,” said Kazuyoshi Sato, with the agency.

The agency has requested more than a billion yen to pay for the tourism blitz. If lawmakers approve the funding, Sato says visitors could begin signing up as early as next April.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


US, UK, Canada Announce New Travel Restrictions on Iranian Officials -- The U.S. and U.K. announced Friday that they would impose visa restrictions on 52 Iranian officials and other individuals because they have “participated in human rights abuses in Iran.” Canada has also announced Friday other measures against the perpetrators.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton stressed again that the U.S., along with partnering nations would not tolerate human rights abuses.
“Today’s actions are an important reminder to Iran that the international community will continue to hold accountable those officials who commit human rights abuses and suppress the democratic aspirations of fellow citizens," Clinton said Friday in a statement. "Until the Iranian government brings human rights abusers to justice and protects its citizens, the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada and other partners will stand up on behalf of the Iranian people.”
The list hasn’t been made public but if the officials try to apply for a visa they’ll be denied, with any existing visas being revoked. While these restrictions will likely not apply as much to the United States, State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland said Friday that they’ll be allowed to visit the United Nations in New York because the U.S. is bound to issue visas for that purpose under the UN Headquarters Agreement.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Americans Advised Not to Travel to Mexican Border Town for July 4

Lifesize/Agri Press(AUSTIN, Texas) -- Americans are being advised against travelling to Nuevo Laredo, Mexico over the Fourth of July weekend, as authorities warn that a Mexican drug cartel plans on committing criminal acts against visiting Americans over the weekend.

“We urge U.S. citizens to avoid travel to Nuevo Laredo this weekend if it can be avoided,” Texas Department of Public Safety Director Steven C. McCraw said in a statement.

Both the Texas Department of Public Safety and the Webb County Sheriff’s Office say they have received credible intelligence that members of the Zetas Cartel are planning on committing crimes against Americans travelling to Nuevo Laredo.

“According to the information we have received, the Zetas are planning a possible surge in criminal activity, such as robberies, extortions, car-jackings and vehicle theft, specifically against U.S. citizens,” said McCraw.

Officials say there is also a possibility of crimes being committed against U.S. nationals in suburbs that surround Nuevo Laredo.

Authorities in Texas say there isn’t any indication that cartel-related criminal activities will occur within that state, but in the event that it does, they are fully prepared to respond.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Major Strikes Across Britain Could Lead to Travel Chaos

Medioimages/Photodisc(LONDON) -- There won’t be any Athens-style rioting in the streets of London Thursday, but a different kind of chaos is expected to reign across most of Great Britain as public service workers plan to go on strike to protest changes to state pension plans.
The strikes could mean long delays to Americans flying into the UK, as Border Agency staff will be joining up to 750,000 striking public sector workers for the 24-hour strike. Border Agency officials are advising passengers to travel on an “alternative day."
Thousands of schools, state employment agencies, tax offices and courts are also expected to be closed or badly disrupted, and many parents will be forced to take the day off work in order to look after their children.
Across England and Wales, about 85 percent of schools will be affected.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Belgian Passengers Stage Protest over Baggage Fees

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(LONDON) -- Passengers traveling aboard Ryanair flight 8175 apparently had had enough with airline fees. So much so that 100 of them, on a flight from Lanzarote in the Canary Islands to Brussels, Belgium, had to be removed from the airplane by Spanish police over the weekend.

The passengers became disruptive and refused to comply with crew instructions after a number of their group was assessed a "gate bag fee," according to a statement posted online by Ryanair. The fee applies to bags that exceed certain weight and size limitations and runs 35 Euros (about $47.50) per bag.

The Irish-based low-cost carrier says, "Lanzarote police required the entire aircraft to be offloaded, each passenger identified," adding, "Following further disruptive behavior, the police required for security reasons that this entire group be refused travel."

BBC News identified the group as Belgian students, adding that approximately 70 of the students were still stuck in Lanzarote Sunday night.

Ryanair said it would re-accommodate some of the group. However, the airline added that "any individuals who engaged in disruptive behavior or refused to follow crew instructions will not be allowed to fly." The incident resulted in a three-hour delay for the remaining passengers.

Ryanair lists over 20 fees on its website, starting at four Euros for priority boarding access. The carrier charges 40 Euros to re-issue a lost or misplaced boarding pass, a fee that has generated some controversy. According to a BBC News report, a judge in Spain has ruled that fee illegal.

On its website Ryanair defends the practice.

The practice took off in 2007 when cash-strapped carriers turned to fees to offset rising fuel prices. Now, passengers flying on an airline in the U.S. can encounter any number of airline fees from a pre-boarding fee to a charge for extra leg room.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


European Travel Turmoil Easing But Cancellations Persist

Photo Courtesy - Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images(LONDON) -- Europe's Christmas travel chaos is finally starting to ease after freezing temperatures and heavy snow closed airports and stranded thousands, but it's still far from smooth sailing for many weary travelers.

Traveler David Sorrell, at London's Heathrow Airport, described the scene as "atrocious."  He said people were intoxicated, sleeping on the floor, and shouting.

"It's like a refugee camp," Sorrell added.
Both runways are now open at Heathrow, and the airport is slowly chipping away at the large backlog of passengers.  But as airport commercial director John Holland-Kaye said, some problems, such as planes and crews being out of place, persist.

"We've been working hard with the airlines to have a limited schedule," Holland-Kaye said.  "So we have reduced the number of flights at the moment for each airline by a third and that's the first time that's ever been done by any airport in the world."

Conditions similar to those at Heathrow can be found elsewhere in Europe, where things are improving but places like Frankfurt, Germany and Paris, France still anticipate a few flight cancellations.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


Spanish Air Traffic Controllers Strike, Thousands Stranded

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(MADRID) -- Spanish air traffic controllers are headed back to work from an unofficial strike after the government declared a state of alert, which meant those refusing to return could face prosecution.

Tens of thousands of travellers were left stranded when air traffic controllers walked off the job in a dispute over pay and conditions.

Approximately 50 percent of airspace was reopened Saturday shortly after Iberia – the country's largest air carrier – announced all flights would be cancelled until Sunday morning. The airline tweeted that flights from Santo Domingo, Chicago, New York and Miami were being rerouted to Portugal.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

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