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New U.S. Travel Advisory Stresses Caution in West Bank and Israel New U.S. Travel Advisory Stresses Caution in West Bank and Israel

The latest travel advisory released by the U.S. government for the West Bank and Israel has praised both the Palestinian Authority and Israel for the great efforts put forth to protect tourists. It says that conditions in Haifa and Tel Aviv are similar to if not better than many other large cities throughout the world.

On Thursday, the advisory by the State Department rolled back the alarm level that had been put out earlier in recent advisories, while at the same time advising caution when visiting the West Bank and Israel while advising visitors to not visit Gaza Strip.

The advisory said that more than three million citizens from foreign countries, including U.S. citizens in the hundreds of thousands, safely visit the West Bank and Israel annually for tourism, business and study. The Palestinian Authority and the Israeli government have made and continue to make considerable efforts for protecting citizens from the U.S. as well as other visitors to the major destinations in the area.

The advisory continued by saying that U.S. citizens however, should also consider that the government personnel of the U.S. are forbidden to use public transportation because of past attacks and that government personnel from the U.S. have to notify the security officer at the Embassy prior to traveling in specific areas near the South of Beesheva and Gaza.

It also said that personnel from the U.S. government have restrictions for conducting travel on a personal basis to most areas of the West Bank. Exceptions in the West Bank include Bethlehem and Jericho said the advisory.

Over the past six months, travel advisories by the U.S. have emphasized the probability of violence breaking out.

 

Over 12 Million Britons to Vacation over the Holiday Over 12 Million Britons to Vacation over the Holiday

December 20, 2012- A new survey that tracks the vacation plans of Brits shows that over 12 million are planning to take a minimum of one trip overnight the United Kingdom over the Christmas and New Year’s break.

The 12 million Brits accounts for 24% of the entire adult population and they are planning to enjoy the holiday period. About 20% or roughly 9.8 million people are planning to take their trip inside of England.

It is estimated that those trips will generate over $3.6 billion in tourism revenue for the economy in the UK, of which about $2.7 billion will be injected into the economy in England. About 35% of the total planning to travel overnight are definitely taking that trip in England and said they would be spending more nights on the road than compared to the holidays last year.

The tourist board in the UK said that a number of Brits have preplanned their seasonal activities, with 45% saying they would attend sales, 30% planned to visit a Christmas market and 19% or about 1 in 5 were planning other pursuits during the holiday such as visiting Father Christmas, attending a pantomime show or even ice skating.

Only 3% of the all travelers who plan to travel at least one night away from home are planning to travel abroad during the holiday season, said the tourist board.

The economy in the UK has struggled and did not grow as was anticipated to do during 2012. The Bank of England said the economy would not see much growth until sometime during the middle of 2014, as the continuing economic crisis in the euro zone, the slow economy in China and other places has affected the UK as well as other nations in the European Union and across Europe.

Busiest Christmas and New Year’s Travel in Six Years Busiest Christmas and New Year’s Travel in Six Years

 

December 18, 2012 - Triple AAA, the largest travel association in the U.S., said this holiday travel season might be the busiest in the past six years. AAA has predicted that over 93 million people in the U.S. will travel during the holiday season. That number reflects an increase of 1.6% over last year and is less than a half a million shy of the all time record set in 2006.

The travel association said that there would be more cars on the highways than at any other time previously, largely due to the fact, traveling by plane has become difficult and expensive. AAA said that a record 84.4 people living in the U.S. would drive a minimum of 50 miles between December 21 and January 2. That would include over 90% of the predicted holiday travelers, which would be up from 89% of six years ago.

Looking at it another way: 25% of Americans will drive a long distance for the holiday making it likely there will be many traffic jams, lines at toll plazas and rest stops filled to capacity.

Gas prices have fallen lately and will be close to last year’s Holiday period prices of about $3.23 per gallon. Since September, the price of a gallon of gasoline has dropped approximately 50 cents.

One analyst said that the holidays at the end of the year remain the least affected, as prices of gasoline or airline tickets will not stop people from returning home to see friends and family during the holiday season.

The forecast for the number of people traveling was based on interviews that AAA have with more than 650 people in the U.S. and by using data that shows how the overall health of the U.S. economy is.

Close to one million more people, this holiday season will drive as opposed to last year, but fewer will be traveling via air. A trade group for the airline industry, Airlines for America, estimates that approximately 15 million people are set to fly between mid December and the end of the first week of January.

Amsterdam will not enforce ban on tourists visiting Coffee Shops Amsterdam will not enforce ban on tourists visiting Coffee Shops

December 14, 2012 - Next month a national ban will take effect, which makes it against the law for tourists or other foreigners from purchasing cannabis at the world renowned coffee shops in the city. The ban will remain in effect, but the police in Amsterdam will ignore the tourists buying the drug. This was announced by the mayor of Amsterdam on Thursday.

The comments by the mayor, ended months of speculation over the ban on purchasing cannabis by visiting foreigners that was approved this year by the national government in the Netherlands. The government coalition that approved the ban has since collapsed.

The coalition government that introduced the soon to be in effect ban had complained that the shops were attracting unwelcome visitors and crime. However, the new legislation was not greeted well by officials from Amsterdam, whose over 200 shops make for a huge source of income that is then spent in the city. The mayor of Amsterdam said that out of between six million and seven million tourists who visit Amsterdam annually, about 33% of them enter a coffee shop. His worry was that if the residence requirement were applied, cannabis products would then be purchased on the street.

The current government in the Netherlands would not repeal the ban that many in the southern provinces of the country had welcome. Officials in the south complained of problems with traffic that was being caused by drug tourists arriving from Germany and Belgium.

Starting on January 1, some restrictions on the use of cannabis will go into effect in Amsterdam. Coffee shops must be located at least 275 yards from any school and public playgrounds might be banned for cannabis smokers.

Amsterdam is seen by many as one of the most liberal cities in the Europe and is a very popular tourist destination.

FCC Urging FAA to Allow More Devices on Planes FCC Urging FAA to Allow More Devices on Planes

December 11, 2012 - Travelers on airplanes, who hate the moment they must turn off their tablet and smartphones when on board, appear to have a huge and powerful ally in their quest to have rules changed by the government.

The Federal Communications Commission head has contacted the Federal Aviation Administration urging the regulatory agency to allow for greater use of e-readers, tablets and other electronic devices while in flight.

Under current rules, no fliers are allowed to use laptops, tablets and e-readers if the plane is below the 10,000 feet level due to concerns the electronic gadgets might interfere with instruments on the aircraft, says the FAA. Any type of disruption could be of great risk because of the low altitude when crew members are preparing for a landing or readying for a takeoff.

However, the FAA announced in August it was assembling a working group to look at the policies on the electronic devices like Kindles, iPads along with rules that must be followed, as to when passengers may use them.

The working panel will not take into consideration cell phone use for calls when in flight, which is already prohibited under rules set by the FCC. The group has not been fully assembled, but will include members of the aviation manufacturing industry, the mobile technology industry, air attendants and pilots groups, different airlines and passenger groups.

The FCC said it would not comment further on the situation. The FAA said earlier in the year that the FCC would be an important partner in the recommendation that might give more widespread use of the electronic gadgets during an aircraft’s flight, while strictly maintaining the highest of all levels of safety for the aircraft and most importantly for the passengers.

Industry observers have pointed out the studies to examine portable electronic gadgets’ impact on an aircraft are out of date. They are from 2006, before many of the gadgets that are popular today were even in the market.

How does $50 for a cup of Coffee Sound How does $50 for a cup of Coffee Sound

December 10, 2012 - In northern Thailand’s lush hills, some of the most expensive coffee in the world is being excreted by a herd of elephants.

Called smooth on the drinker’s palate and full of earthy flavor, the new exotic brew is made of beans that are first eaten by elephants in Thailand and then taken the following day from their dung. A reaction inside the elephants gut creates what the coffee founder says is the unique taste of the drink.

Some think it oddly alluring, while others says it turns their stomach. One thing is certain, it is not only one of the most unusual specialty coffees in the world but at a price of $500 a pound, it is amongst the most expensive in the world.

At this point, only the wealthiest or the well traveled have had access to the coffee, which goes by the name of Black Ivory Coffee. Last month the coffee was first launched at a handful of luxury hotels in different far off corners of the world. It appeared in hotels first in Thailand, and then it was available in the Maldives and now can be purchased in Abu Dhabi. At those hotels, it will set you back $50 per cup.

In an area that is more famous for drug producing than coffee growing, people are starting to visit to see the huge baristas do their work. Located high in the mountains of Thailand where it borders Myanmar and Laos, the coffee’s creator uses scientific research and biology to answer why elephants are used in the process.

Blake Dinkin says that when coffee is eaten by an elephant, the stomach acid in the elephant breaks down protein in the coffee, which is key to the amount of bitterness in the coffee. Dinkin has spent over $300,000 in the development of the coffee. He said the end result is coffee that is smooth and does not have regular coffee’s bitterness.

 

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