This Week In Travel (Issue No. 39)
With Black Friday full steam ahead, you might want to batten down the hatches and prepare for a fiery storm of sales; an annual anarchy that leaves you reeling, beyond ready for an escape. So why not boycott the madness? You wouldn’t be crazy to do so- flight deals are not excluded from the consumer chaos, with plenty of travel agencies and airlines practically giving seats away. Accommodation providers are all aboard the black magic. Not sure where to start? Sip rum with half-price stays in Jamaica, get your boots on with early skiing in Switzerland, or tuck in to a high tea with discounted Devonshire cottages. You have every reason to escape the lunacy and take advantage of demand levels lower than Trump’s approval rating.
Speaking of which, never underestimate the power of a president’s popularity- travel to the USA is down in record numbers on account of the nation’s chief-in-command, having earned its own title- the “Trump Slump”. Not surprisingly, tourists from Islamic regions such as the Middle East and Africa are giving the States the widest berth, with numbers down 30.2% and 26.2% respectively. These drooping statistics are costing Uncle Sam $140 million a week meanwhile the nation’s northern neighbor is wheeling out the welcome wagon for major tourism hikes in Toronto and Vancouver.
It looks like the Trump Slump goes both ways, with new travel restrictions out on US citizens wanting to head on down to Cuba! After Obama’s Cuba deal being scrapped by the current president, travel to the Caribbean island is a luxury reserved solely for Americans venturing southward in tour groups. That said, those with “existing transactions” (i.e. scheduled flights) are still able to visit, yet with restrictions on rum distilleries and boutique hotels, that quaint Havana getaway you’d been fantasizing may be out of arm’s reach.
While sipping an alcoholic beverage in uncharted territory may sound like seventh heaven to most, one little town in Utah is doing everything it can to resist temptation. After a vote in Blanding, the town is holding on to its status as a ‘dry’ community, with opponents strongly arguing that both alcohol and tourism pose a threat to the home of “The World’s Greatest Outdoor Museum.” Bland is best, huh?
Yet like energy, tourism can neither be created or destroyed; when one outlet is stopped up, other destinations are discovered. So with all this talk of restriction, where exactly are the good folk of the world headed? According to Euromonitor International’s latest report, the East trumps all in tourism traffic, with 6 of the top 10-visited cities being Asian; with Hong Kong taking the title as most visited city in 2017. Harbour City has ramped up its game in efforts to attract fresh eyes, with QR code tours and camera-studded dogs bringing together the new, the old, and the outright wacky.
Eccentric equipment seems to be the trend, with residents and visitors alike enjoying free fizzy water in the streets of Paris. As the home of Perrier, the French are quite partial to their packaged H2O, as the eighth biggest consumers of bottled water. Hoping to eliminate plastic waste, the Parisian government has taken on the bold and bubbly ambition of installing at least one fountain in each and every of the city’s neighborhoods.
The smallest touches can delight those exploring a new city, and Europe is full of them. Sweden’s Stockholm is one such place, where locals enjoy fika as a means to rest, relax and rejuvenate; constituted by the simplest pleasures- a steaming cup of joe and pleasant company. The Swedes know how to enjoy these moments, consuming 864 cups a year on average!
The dynamics of travel are all but unpredictable, yet when one door shuts, another opens. By nature it is something organic and ever-changing; ebbing and flowing in its own way. Despite restrictions and warnings, your journey may morph into something unexpected, so try to relax and enjoy the ride.
“Man cannot discover new oceans unless he has the courage to lose sight of the shore.” – Andre Gide