Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Australia to Create World's Largest Marine Reserve

Australia's Environment Ministry says it will create the world's largest marine reserve in the Coral Sea. The Ministry says the area has shallow reefs that support tropical ecosystems with sharks, coral, sponges and many fish species.

The proposal includes seas beyond the already protected Great Barrier Reef Marine Park off northeast Australia. The reserve would cover almost 400,000 square miles. Fishing would be allowed in parts of the reserve. The proposal announced in a ministry statement last Friday is now open for a 90-day comment period.

The protected zone would cover an area more than one-and-a-half times the size of France. New fishing limits would be imposed and exploration for oil and gas banned. The sea off the Queensland coast in north-east Australia is also the resting place of three US navy ships that sunk in the Battle of the Coral Sea in 1942.

Currently the world's largest marine reserve is a 545,000-sq-km area established by the UK around the Chagos Islands in the Indian Ocean. The Coral Sea reserve, if approved, would be approximately 989,842 sq km.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

New Technology for Hotel Check-Ins

Holiday Inn has been testing its Mobile Room Key program at it's properties in Houston and Chicago, and plans to expand it at other locations soon.

The program allows guests to bypass the front desk entirely and use their mobile phones as keys. Guests get an email or text prior to arrival that provides them with a room number and a toll-free number. Dialing the number produces an audio chirp that unlocks the door via an audio reader on the lock. Because it's audio and not visual, any phone, smartphone or otherwise, works.

There are other companies working of new ways to streamline the check-in process. One company has developed a registration process where front desk personnel can scan a guest's ID that can will fill in forms and minimize manual entry. The company is working with Accor to implement the technology in Motel 6 and Studio 6 properties across North America.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Visiting The Great Barrier Reef

If you’re planning a trip to the land down under, the Great Barrier Reef is a must-see! The Great Barrier Reef is the world’s single largest coral system. With the broad, shallow continental shelf of tropical northeastern Australia providing an ideal pedestal for growth, this coral complex reaches as far as 160 miles offshore and more than 1,250 miles from north to south. The Great Barrier Reef covers 135,000 square miles and is home to more than 400 types of coral reef, colorful fish and sea life. It can be viewed by boat, plane, helicopter, or underwater observatories.

There are hundreds of tour options available for viewing and experiencing the Great Barrier Reef, something for everyone!

These are some of the Great Barrier Reef Tour options to available:

·Diving. There are several different tours available daily for divers, departing from Cairns and Port Douglas. Tours are typically between 6 – 9 hours, include lunch and the vessels range from small high speed luxury catamarans, to large catamarans that have their own platforms on the outer reef.

·Snorkeling. These tours are very similar to the dive tours, except that you don’t have to know how to dive. They also depart from Cairns and Port Douglas, are usually between 6-9 hours, and have a variety of vessel types to choose from. Many of the snorkel tours can be combined with the dive tours.

·Fishing. While one-third of the Great Barrier Reef park is a no-fishing zone, there are many tours available daily for the other 2-thirds.

·Sightseeing. If you prefer to just relax and stay dry, there are plenty of sightseeing tours available, including semi-submersible boats to platforms featuring underwater observatories.

·Helicopter Tours. Experience a bird’s eye view of the reef with a flight tour! These tours are usually between 30-60 minutes long, and operate year round, subject to weather conditions.

·Great Barrier Reef Cruises. If you want to spend more than just one day on the reef, there are cruise options ranging from 2-7 nights, on sail boats that only hold 10 passengers, or small cruise ships that hold up to 50 passengers.

Contact an Australia Specialist to start planning your dream vacation to Australia today!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

New Zealand Deconsecrated Christchurch Cathedral

New Zealanders attended an emotional ceremony yesterday deconsecrating Christchurch
Cathedral, which was destroyed in February's earthquake.

The ceremony paves the way for the building to be partially demolished, and for a new cathedral to be built. The city's shattered cathedral with its broken spire became one of the most striking images after the quake struck.

The city has been sectioned off into color-coded zones, with the red zone, including the cathedral, still being largely off-limits. Officials say it is likely to cost NZ$4m to demolish the parts of the cathedral that cannot be saved, and another NZ$30m to build a new structure. Church leaders said they hoped to have a temporary cathedral in place in time for next Easter.

Even with the devastating earthquake in February, New Zealand is still an amazing place to visit, as most of the country was not affected. Contact a Professional Travel Agent to book your New Zealand vacation today!

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Dutch Ban Tourists from Cannabis-Selling Coffee Shops

A new policy by the Dutch government will ban tourists from coffee shops selling cannabis. Only residents will be allowed to get a "cannabis card" to be used when visiting one of the country's 670 licensed coffee shops. Non-Dutch residents will be banned from cannabis-selling coffee shops in southern Netherlands beginning January 1to "spare locals from the nuisance of drug tourism", the justice ministry said Tuesday.

The measure will come into force for the (southern) provinces of Limburg, North-Brabant and Zeeland, the provinces most affected by drug tourism. Under the new policy licensed coffee shops will be considered private clubs with a maximum of 2,000 members limited to Dutch residents who are older than 18. The measures will come into force in the rest of the country in January 2013.

The policy aims to cut down traffic jams, nocturnal disturbances, and the abundance of drug pushers catering to the millions of foreign tourists drawn to the Netherlands by its relaxed marijuana laws. The Dutch government also plans to introduce a policy, coming into force in January 2014, requiring coffee shops to be at least 350 meters away from schools, to keep drug consumption away from children.

Thursday, November 03, 2011

10 Luxury Islands You Probably Haven't Heard Of

Original article by By Suzanne Weinstock, Departures.com

Tried-and-true island favorites such as St. Barths and Capri have long been wooing fashionable travelers. But these days, the new prestige in globetrotting lies in exploring far-flung destinations the masses have yet to invade. Even better: a vacation spot so exotic that no one has even heard of it.

"We've been seeing strong interest in remote, off-the-beaten-path destinations," says Scott Wiseman, president of luxury travel company Abercrombie & Kent USA.

Enter a new set of islands in the Indian Ocean, Mediterranean, Caribbean and beyond.

"Private and reassuringly hard-to-get, these islands entice diehard fans to get off the grid," says James Lohan, CEO and co-founder of the boutique hotel website Mr. & Mrs. Smith.

They let vacationers "be the ruler of their own domain and feel like they have discovered someplace unique."

So transition into being a trendsetter by picking a destination that bears some similarities to a familiar favorite. Then prepare to tack on extra travel time, since being an early adopter usually means adding an extra leg of travel. It's the moderate difficulty in getting there that keeps these places exclusive. Are you ready for an island less ordinary?

The entire article can be found here.

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Floating Golf Course to be Built in Maldives

A Dutch company has announced plans to build a $500 million floating golf course in the Maldives. The course will feature 18 holes connected by underwater tunnels. The course will be made up of several islands floating in the Indian Ocean, which will
contain two or three holes each.

The floating islands will also be linked to a series of hotels by more underwater tunnels, which will overlook the golf course and surrounding coral reefs. The project will be powered by solar energy with sustainable desalination and water cooling techniques, and will work in co-operation with the Maldives' rising sea levels.

The project is expected to be completed by 2015. The course will be located five minutes from the airport to attract stop-over golfers. There is no word yet on how much a round of golf will cost.

Contact a Professional Travel Agent today to book your Maldives vacation!