Thursday, May 31, 2007

"Overwhelming majority of bathing areas in 25 Member States meet EU standards"

As stated by the EU Press Room, "The annual bathing water report presented today by the European Commission reveals that the large majority of bathing sites across the European Union met EU hygiene standards in 2006. 96% of coastal bathing areas and 89% of bathing sites in rivers and lakes are in compliance with the mandatory values.. The removal of bathing sites from the official list has decreased but the Commission remains concerned about the delistings. The report provides useful water quality information for the millions of people who visit Europe's beaches every summer.
Commissioner for the Environment Stavros Dimas said: 'It is encouraging to see that the rate of compliance of freshwater bathing areas in 2006 has recovered from the disappointing decrease in 2005. I hope that this upward trend will continue and that freshwater bathing areas reach levels achieved by those in coastal areas. Despite these encouraging results I am very concerned by the number of bathing sites withdrawn from the list. Removing sites from the list because they are polluted is not a solution. Member States must instead draw up plans for cleaning up these polluted sites.'."

This Press Release is available in full text as well as the Overview of the situation in Member States.

Improvements to US travel rule sought

The National Tour Association (NTA) is urging its U.S. members and travel industry professionals to contact their U.S. senators about co-sponsoring the Western Hemisphere Traveler Improvement Act. Introduced by Sen. Norm Coleman, R-Minnesota, and Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, the legislation aims to lessen the burden of the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative, which could take effect for land and sea as early as January 2008.
The legislation requires that low-cost passport alternatives are available when WHTI takes effect and would allow children under the age of 16 traveling with parents, and children under 18 traveling in a school or other group, to cross the border with a birth certificate rather than a passport. It also requires sufficient staffing to meet increasing passport demand, an analysis of a pilot program that explores enhanced driver's licenses as documentation for cross-border travel and a full cost-benefit analysis of WHTI.

Read the full article here.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Virgin Blue accused of discriminating against disabled passengers

Australian airline Virgin Blue faced action in the Federal Court in Sydney over its policy on disabled passengers.
Two wheelchair users were told they would have to pay for carers to travel with them, even though both live independently. The Public Interest Advocacy Centre says it has been contacted by at least 100 other people across the country with similar concerns. The centre's CEO Robin Banks says Virgin Blue is creating unlawful, discriminatory hurdles for people with disabilities.

The case is due to resume in September.

Source: Read the full article here.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

"Tightening tourism law" in Malaysia

According to The Star Online, "Travellers affected by companies that go bust – such as in a recent case – will be protected under a proposal to amend the Tourism Industry Act.
The Tourism Ministry, however, first wants the Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents (Matta) to submit to it a report of how the issue is dealt with in other countries.
Deputy Minister Datuk Donald Lim said Matta has been given a month to compile the data. 'The data will help us plan the amendments to the Act to protect consumers against fraud,' he told Matta officials at a meeting at the Putra World Trade Centre here on Friday.
Earlier this month, tour company Excellence Holiday Sdn Bhd went bust after two directors allegedly deserted it and caused scores of travellers to lose the money they had paid in advance for several tour packages. Lim said 336 people had complained to Matta regarding the failed agency. The losses suffered by the travellers totalled about RM2.4mil.
Matta president Ngiam Foon said the association has made comparative research overseas to find out how the regulations protect consumers. 'We’ve found that Australia, Britain and Hong Kong have provisions to protect consumers while Singapore does not have such regulations,' he said.
Asked how Matta would help the customers affected by the Excellence Holiday debacle, Ngiam said: 'We are talking to suppliers, hoteliers and airlines to come with a plan to help those who had been cheated. This is not a promise but we will do our best.' He added that Matta would propose a fund to help the consumers.
Elaborating on the matter, he said: 'Whenever consumers buy a travel package, it would include an extra cost that would go towards the fund.' 'The fund will be used to compensate consumers if any incident, such as the one that happened three weeks ago, were to occur,' added Ngiam."

Thursday, May 24, 2007

World Tourism Forum presents solutions for peace and sustainable development in Oslo and Prague

The results of the first three years of the World Tourism Forum for Peace and Sustainable Development’s existence were presented at the General Meeting of the International Academy for Quality (IAQ), held during the 51st European Organisation for Quality Congress in Prague (Czech Republic) on May 22 and 23. The conference was organized by the European Organisation for Quality (EOQ) and its key theme was “Competitiveness through Excellence – Challenge for Europe.”

More information at

Iberia cuts Cuba ad after sexism complaint

Spanish airline Iberia has cut an advertisement showing black Cuban women in bikinis bottle feeding a baby tourist as he sings "feed me mulattas ... come on little mamas, take me to my cot" after complaints it was sexist. A consumer rights group demanded Iberia, Spain's national flag carrier, pull the ad for online sales as it was offensive to Cuban women and could encourage sex tourism.

Source:, read whole article here.

"Uganda to adopt tourism legislation in line with UN"

As reported by Michael Verikios at the International Travel Daily News, the "Uganda's government is to introduce tourism legislation in support of the UN Millennium Development Goals as Uganda President, his excellency Yoweri Kaguta Museveni revealed in his keynote address to the 4th IIPT African Conference on Peace through Tourism.
'One of the key constraints to tourism development has been the weak law and regulations to guide and enforce proper development in the industry. The role of the law in the sustainable development of tourism and poverty alleviation is critical. The legislation should enshrine policies that are pro poor and underpin a coherent institutional framework and supportive infrastructure for the private sector,' the President said."

The full text of this article is available, here.

Egypt demands artifacts returned by world powers

Last week, the Egyptian Foreign Minister’s office sent an official letter to four countries - France, Germany, Great Britain and the United States - demanding the return of famous artifacts for showcase at a temporary exhibition of ancient Egyptian artifacts. The objects, in question, are currently on display in separate museums while in the hands of the said countries.
The antiquities demanded, all well-known, include the Zodiac at the Louvre, Nefertiti’s bust at the Berlin Museum, the statue of the engineer Hem Iunu who built Khufu’s pyramid now in the Roemer & Pelizea Museum in Hildesheim, the Rosetta Stone in the British Museum and the statue of the engineer Ankh Ha If who built the second pyramid on display at the Boston Museum.

Read more here.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

"Air policy and Air Jamaica"

At the Jamaica Gleaner, Stephen Vascianne states that "Earlier this month, the Government of Jamaica participated in negotiations with the British Government on matters pertaining to the conclusion of a new Air Services Agreement between both countries.
This round of negotiations was the latest in a series undertaken by representatives of the Jamaican Air Policy Committee with other countries. The series included negotiations with Germany, Chile and Brazil, and the United Kingdom.
The negotiations with individual countries raise a number of technical questions concerning air law and the economics of air transportation; but they also prompt issues that may be of direct importance to Jamaicans at home and abroad, tourism interests and the trade sector."

Read more.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

19th Conference of IFTTA: Portugal (11-14 October)

The 19th Conference of IFTTA - International Forum os Travel and Tourism Advocates will take place in Southern Portugal, from the 11th to the 14th of October.

At this event, the main subjects of discussion will be: Moral Damages for Ruined Holidays, Airline Passenger Rights & Land Planning and Tourism Development.

The Organization put up a very inclusive and affordable Program and got huge discounts for the Participants and the Accompanying Persons at high level hotels.

At the Conference's Webpage you'll find full information concerning the logistics of this event.

"New classification system on anvil for hotels in Qatar"

The Gulf Times reveals that "QATAR Tourism Authority (QTA), together with GATO, an international tourism organisation, is formulating a new hotel classification system with a view to improving the overall quality of the Qatari hospitality industry.
International benchmarks and guest surveys have clearly indicated that an ever increasing emphasis is placed on service quality. To cater to the shifting consumer demand and achieve a sustainable development, a two-tiered hotel classification system has been selected for the roll out of the new hotel classification system.

Read this in full text!

Friday, May 11, 2007

New Zealand: Tourist Attackers Sent To High Court For Sentence

Two men who admitted a brutal attack on a Dutch honeymoon couple in the Bay of Islands will be sentenced in the High Court. They pleaded guilty in the Kaikohe District Court in March to a raft of serious offences against the young tourists, who were held at gunpoint in their campervan last November. But the Crown asked for the case to be referred to the High Court, which can order preventive detention.

Source:, read full story here.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Supreme Court (OGH) decision on Art. 3 of the Package Tours Directive

In a recent decison Austria's Supreme Court (OGH) held that Art 3 of of the Package Tours Directive, providing that any descriptive matter concerning a package and supplied by the organizer or the retailer to the consumer must not contain any misleading information doesn't apply if the retailer in presence of the consumer looked up the hotel's website and handed over to him a printaout of the desciption given there: from the recitals to the directive whereas the organizer of the package and/or the retailer of it should be under obligation to ensure that in descriptive matter relating to packages which they respectively organize and sell, the information which is given is not misleading, OGH concluded that the obligation was limted to such descriptive matter the content of which the organizer or retailer could shape or influence.

Full text of the decision (2 Ob 247/05w of 08. March 2007) available in German at

New EASA responsibility

Since 29 March 2007, EASA is responsible for the approval of the flight conditions on the basis of which a permit to fly can be issued by the Competent Authority of the Member State of Registry, or of the Member State prescribing the identification marks.
A Permit to Fly is generally issued when a certificate of airworthiness is temporarily invalid, for example as the result of a damage, or when a certificate of airworthiness cannot be issued for instance when the aircraft does not comply with the essential requirements for airworthiness or when compliance with those requirements has not yet been shown, but the aircraft is nevertheless capable of performing a safe flight.

More information here.

Child Porn Trial in Atlanta: Sex Tourism charges dropped

A Gainesville anesthesiologist who vehemently proclaimed his innocence in jailhouse interviews went on trial this Monday in U.S. District Court in Atlanta on child pornography charges. In April 2004, his arrest at New York's JFK airport was heralded by federal prosecutors as a major case in the battle against so-called "sex tourism." He was indicted under a new law that allowed U.S. citizens to be prosecuted for sex crimes against children committed in other countries. Prosecutors believed the anesthesiologist traveled to St. Petersburg, Russia, and Prague, Czech Republic, to have sex with young boys.
But the government through a series of revised indictments dropped the sex tourism and molestation charges, replacing them with child pornography charges.

Read the full story in Gainesville Times here.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

UK Parliament inquiry into air travel branded a waste of time

UK Parliament's Transport Committee has launched a wide-ranging inquiry into passengers’ experience of air travel. It will cover every stage of the journey from buying tickets to travel links to and from airports, arrangements for baggage and the comfort of seating on aircraft.The inquiry is also looking into how easy it is to get compensation from airlines when things go wrong, and whether international conventions about passengers’ entitlements are enforced adequately. The members of Parliament are also asking whether there is any difference in the general experiences of budget airline customers compared with those who use full-service scheduled carriers.
Ryanair is one of the low-cost airlines that have been repeatedly criticized by consumer groups for offering low headline fares then loading the true cost with numerous service charges, including most recently a charge for checking in baggage. In its turn, Ryanair criticizes the UK government for loading air travel costs with taxes. “Ryanair has far better things to do than waste time at a House of Commons Committee which is itself wasting time talking about passengers’ attitudes to air travel at a time when Gordon Brown is busy stealing an additional £1 billion from UK passengers and visitors this year.”

Source: Read more here.

Monday, May 07, 2007

"Better protection for performing artists working outside their home country"

According to the European Parliament Press Service, "The employment conditions for performing artists who move around Europe as part of their work should be improved, and they should be better informed on how to transfer their social rights. So says the Culture Committee in a report adopted on Monday, calling for better protection for artists and the introduction of a special electronic social security card.
In the own initiative report on the social security status of artists by Claire Gibault (ALDE, FR), adopted unanimously, the committee explains that many artists in Europe, be it singers, musicians or - like the rapporteur herself - conductors, have experienced problems when trying to perform in other countries, or trying to transfer their social rights. International co-productions of live performances, circus or audiovisual productions have been increasing the mobility of many artists, and thus increasing the need for a clearer legal status for the European artists."

This Press Release is available in full text.

"Alcohol banned in all restaurants, mosques, schools and residential areas; Bahrain going dry … only the Fives will see 'stars'"

"Bahrain's tourism industry, which has long thrived on visitors from its 'dry' neighbours in the Gulf, faces a tough challenge with the introduction of curbs on alcohol and nightclubs. For now, the 27-kilometer-long (17-mile) causeway linking the archipelago to eastern Saudi Arabia continues to be crowded every weekend as thousands escape the ultra-conservative Muslim kingdom for a break. But by May 1, alcohol will be restricted to five-star hotels and banned in all restaurants neighbouring mosques, schools or residential areas, under a ministerial decision. About 85 non-five-star hotels have been ordered to close nightclubs hosting foreign bands on their premises and to stop selling alcohol if they are in the designated areas."

See more at ARAB TIMES.

Friday, May 04, 2007

"Mergers: Commission approves proposed acquisition of MyTravel Group by KarstadtQuelle"

As stated by the EU Press Room, "The European Commission has approved under the EU Merger Regulation the proposed acquisition of MyTravel Group PLC, a UK travel group, by KarstadtQuelle AG, a German department store and mail order company, active in tour operating via the Thomas Cook Group. The Commission has concluded that the proposed transaction would not significantly impede effective competition in the European Economic Area (EEA) or any substantial part of it."

This Press Release is available in full text.