Today, 11 December, is International Mountain Day. Almost one billion people live in mountain areas, and over half the human population depends on mountains for water, food and clean energy. And mountains are also important for tourism, attracting visitors for their scenery, wildlife, healthy air, winter sports and summer activities such as hiking, climbing and mountain biking. The UNWTO has issued a new report on mountain tourism, presenting a summary of the information generated at UNWTO’s mountain tourism events, including a systematic definition of mountain tourism. In addition, it gives an overview of the development of mountain tourism in different parts of the world over time, and the recent structural changes affecting this segment as a result of new market patterns. It includes a number of “learning cases”, all of which have been presented at UNWTO’s World Congresses on Snow and Mountain Tourism, organized on a bi-annual basis in cooperation with the Government of the Principality of Andorra since 1998, and at the First Euro-Asian Ski Resort Conference of UNWTO, which took place in Almaty, Kazakhstan in October 2013.Continue reading →
An innocuous visit to Dubai
A young friend of my extended family was recently taken seriously ill and ended up in a London hospital following a short trip to Dubai to visit a partner working abroad for a few months. The symptoms of the infection, taken together with the location, and the fact that the trip involved taking a camel ride, led the hospital to suspect deadly MERS (Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome). Acting on that basis, the partner was tested in a local hospital in Dubai and sent home to wait-out the 14 day transmission window for this disease.
Its caused by a coronavirus (MERS-CoV), and infection is linked to travel in the Middle East and close contact with camels, camel secretions and uncooked camel products. The fatality rate is 40%, but deaths are usually linked to underlying medical conditions which weaken the immune response. There is no vaccine: disease transmission is controlled by hygiene, by contact tracing of confirmed cases and the wearing of personal protective equipment by hospital staff (1). Since 2012, 27 countries (including UK) have reported 2266 cases, the majority in Saudi Arabia, with a serious imported outbreak in 2015 in South Korea.
Fortunately the friend turned out not to have MERS but it was a very difficult and traumatic 24 hours finding information to reassure relatives (40% fatality is a scary statistic) … and it set me thinking:
How much can you be expected to know as an independent traveller and what is the responsibility of your tour organiser to inform you? Continue reading →
Guest blog by Master Beekeeper ‘in the making’ Greg Long.
When people start to think about the ecosystem and nature as a whole, many don’t fully grasp the importance of relying on other species. Everything on earth is connected, whether we realize it or not. Human survival doesn’t rely on humans alone — the human species depends on tons of other life forms to stay in existence.
Last month, the south Indian state of Kerala experienced record level rainfall. A huge 310mm of rainfall in just 24 hours, resulted in devastating flooding, causing significant damage to infrastructure, agricultural systems and human life. With over 480 people confirmed to have been killed due to the flooding, experts are now identifying the causes of this incident, including dramatic human development, environmental degradation and a lack of sustainable development in the region.
Since 1980, the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) has designated the 27th of September as World Tourism Day (WTD), to mark the anniversary of that date in 1970 when the Statutes of the UNWTO were adopted. The purpose of the day is to raise awareness of the global role and importance of tourism. Each year, WTD has a different theme, and for 2018 that theme is Digital Transformation.
So why should tourism have an international day, and why has digital technology been chosen as the theme? Continue reading →
Difficult to believe as it is, lately both traditional and social media have adopted the word as though it was a distinct reality. One self-styled lexicologist recently defined it as “the phenomenon of a popular destination or sight becoming overrun with tourists in an unsustainable way”. However, popular, overrun and unsustainable are all difficult to define and often disagreed upon.
At first sight the humble scale insect, Orthezia insignis doesn’t seem like it could pack much of a punch in a ‘fight’ against a range of native flora – but to make such an assumption would be very dangerous indeed.
In fact Orthezia insignis is a genuine invasive menace which in Hawaii, East Africa and South and Central America has, at times, wreaked havoc on numerous ornamental plants including citrus, coffee, olive, Jacaranda and Lantana.