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Australia: Government Warns of Wild Dingoes at Fraser Island

By Larry Habegger and Dani Burlison | Add a Comment »

The Queensland Department of National Parks issued a safety alert for Fraser Island, citing the presence of young dingoes, Australia’s wild dogs. The department said that because juvenile dingoes are learning pack rules and often show aggression, they will try to dominate people visiting their habitat, especially children. The alert also noted that as the young animals are learning survival habits, it is especially important for visitors not to feed or interact with them. The young dogs appear playful and cute, but they can be very aggressive. Parents should stay within arm’s reach of children and even small teenagers at all times. Over the years, there have been numerous incidents with dingoes on Fraser Island, usually because people have ignored parks department warnings.

Ireland: Wild Atlantic Way Set to Open in March

By Larry Habegger and Dani Burlison | Add a Comment »

Visitor numbers are up in Ireland and Tourism Ireland officials are hoping to keep it that way, luring more travelers to the west with The Wild Atlantic Way, a coastal touring route set to open in March 2014. Running 1500 miles along the west coast from the Inishowen Peninsula in Donegal to the southern region of Kinsale in County Cork, the route connects many of Ireland’s finest attractions, including the Cliffs of Moher and the Ring of Kerry. Officials expect the route to bring more visitors, but there’s no need to wait for the route to be official. These areas have always been accessible by scenic roads.

Malaysia: Travel Warning Issued

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An incident in mid-November on the resort island of Pom Pom off the eastern coast of Sabah prompted an alert from the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office to avoid all but essential travel to islands off the coast between Sandakan and Tawau. The popular dive resort island of Sipadan is included in this alert. The U.S. State Department also advises travelers to avoid “the resort islands of Mabul, Pom Pom, Kapalai, Ligitan, Sipadan, and Mataking, as well as the peninsular Lahad Datu district (to include the Tabin Wildlife Reserve).” In November a Taiwanese man was killed in his room and his wife abducted by suspected criminals from the nearby southern Philippines.

Saudi Arabia: Tourist Visas Now Available

By Larry Habegger and Dani Burlison | Add a Comment »

Visitors can now apply for tourist visas through the Saudi Commission for Tourism and Antiquities, allowing travel within the country for up to 30 days. Previously, visas were issued to Americans with sponsors in the country and were used only for business and work, to visit close relatives, or for transit and religious visits by Muslims. The only travelers permitted to enter for tourism were residents of neighboring Gulf Cooperation Council states such as Bahrain, and the United Arab Emirates, who did not require visas. Now, citizens of more than 65 nations are eligible for tourist entry. The new law also forbids tourist operators from working without licenses and protects landmarks as public property, which cannot be privately owned.

UK: Romanain Gypsies Target Shoppers in London

By Larry Habegger and Dani Burlison | Add a Comment »

Holiday shoppers in London’s West End are increasingly becoming targets of harassment by Romanian gypsies begging for money. Last summer, Westminster City Council officials evicted the Roma from a camp and helped pay for some to return to Romania, but they have come back and shoppers are complaining about aggressive begging. Many of the gypsies are sleeping in the Park Lane area or loitering near Marble Arch, and though dispersed by police every morning, they return to badger shoppers for cash.

Argentina: National Police Strike Sparks Violence

By Larry Habegger and Dani Burlison | Add a Comment »

A nationwide police strike spurred waves of looting in at least 17 of the country’s 23 provinces Dec. 8. At least five people were killed in separate incidents, with hundreds more injured. The violence began after demands for higher pay led to a police walkout in Cordoba province. The Cordoba strike was settled after the governor nearly doubled the police salary, but many provinces, including Chaco, Entre Rios and Jujuy remained without police patrol. Buenos Aires province, most frequented by tourists, has not been affected, as the province’s governor averted the strike by increasing salaries.

France: New Online Tourist Guide for Paris Metro

By Larry Habegger and Dani Burlison | Add a Comment »

Transit authorities have released a new online tourist guide for the underground Paris metro system. The Manuel du savoir-vivre à l’usage du voyageur moderne’ or “manual of etiquette for the use of the modern traveler” includes 12 etiquette tips for locals and tourists to adhere to. After officials gathered feedback and suggestions from about 2,000 people, they divided the tips into four categories: politeness, propriety, courtesy and helpfulness. Locals hope to curb rude behavior through this practical guide, which includes such suggestions as helping the elderly with luggage, assisting tourists even if they’re wearing “Bermuda shorts” and standing like “emperor penguins” on hot days instead of holding arms up while riding on the train.

Category: General info, France

North Korea: Detained War Veteran Returns to U.S.

By Larry Habegger and Dani Burlison | Add a Comment »

American Korean War Veteran Merrill Newman returned home Dec. 7 after being held as a war criminal for more than 40 days in Pyongyang. Newman was detained after completing a 10-day guided tour and removed from his home-bound flight in North Korea’s capital when he was suspected of illegal activity. The U.S. Department of State regularly warns against travel in North Korea and reissued a travel warning for Nov. 19, noting the country’s history of arbitrarily detaining U.S. citizens and not allowing them to depart the country. Newman, on his return to the U.S., speculated that for the North Korean regime, the war is not over, and even innocent remarks about it can cause problems for visitors.

Philippines: Government, Rebels Sign Peace Accord

By Larry Habegger and Dani Burlison | Add a Comment »

Government officials have signed a power-sharing accord with the country’s largest Muslim rebel group, the third of four proposed pacts that will assist in establishing a final peace agreement with the southern Moro guerrillas. The final of the four agreements is expected to be signed in January, bringing peace after decades of conflict. The pact comes as aid workers continue cleanup of Typhoon Hiyan and could signal safer travel conditions as the agreement takes hold, especially in the large southern island of Mindanao.

Ukraine: Protests Continue for Third Week in Kiev

By Larry Habegger and Dani Burlison | Add a Comment »

Protests in Kiev continued for a third week as security forces moved in to raid the opposition party’s headquarters Dec. 9, just one week after violent clashes erupted in the capital. Armed police cleared out encampments and cut off electricity to the occupied City Hall, allegedly using force against many of the demonstrators. The actions began mid-November in response to Ukraine’s decision to cease talks with the European Union and to instead strengthen economic ties with Russia.

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