Iceberg tourism in Newfoundland

Iceberg tourism in Newfoundland, Canada | An impressive iceberg made it into the Canada’s News over Easter weekend. Its appearance near the sleepy town of Ferryland draw a lot of attention from tourists. This massive chunk of frozen water caused traffic jams unfamiliar to locals as iceberg-hunting tourists rushed to take photos. It’s very rare for an iceberg of this magnitude to come so close to the coast. On average 212 icebergs drift off the Arctic towards Newfoundland this time of year. But after a record warm Arctic winter thanks to global warming 648 were counted in April 2017 so far. This particular fellow was taller than the one that cut open Titanic. In Newfoundland waters close to where the Titanic sank in 1912, icebergs very often force ships to take precautions. Instead of cutting straight thru, vessels are taking huge detours to avoid collisions.

Iceberg tourism in Newfoundland
Iceberg tourism in Newfoundland.

There are some Youtube videos available that show different stages of the floating ice mountain over Easter weekend. None of the videos is actually nice to watch. But they all seem to show: the iceberg melted fast.

Book an accomodation where it's windy.
Book an accomodation where it’s windy.

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Robbery and sexual assault at Niagara Falls

Robbery and sexual assault at Niagara Falls | It’s official: Robert MacLeod – a 44-year-old citizen of Niagara Falls – will be facing jail time for his vicious attack, robbery and sexual assault of a Japanese tourist just a few blocks away from the world-famous Niagara Falls tourist attraction. What happened? On Christmas night 2015, MacLeod lured a Japanese woman seeking directions to a dark area of the state park. He then threw her to the ground and stole her purse and shoes. State parks police were able to identify Robert Macleod as the attacker. They tracked him down, because of video surveillance cameras, showing him following the victim in his car as she walked from her hotel, and stalking her on foot prior to the attack. MacLeod was indicted on charges of robbery, sexually motivated felony, sexual abuse and assault. He was arrested Dec. 31, 2015. MacLeod pleaded not guilty and was released on $25,000 bail.

Robbery and sexual assault at Niagara Falls
Robbery and sexual assault at Niagara Falls

But fortunately the story didn’t end here. The Japanese tourist returned to the place where the man she’d asked for directions responded by pounding her face into the concrete and dragging her into the dark, where she feared she would be raped. She came back, because testifying would make Niagara Falls safer for other women. During a news conference yesterday, authorities praised the tourist’s bravery and said they were happy to pay the travel costs to bring her back to the U.S.

Crimes against tourists are nothing new. Thieves preferably target travelers, mostly for valuables, like in almost any other tourist destination. The advantage seems obvious. Tourists from far-away-countries would leave the location, and not come back to testify. Bad luck. In this case authorities in charge facilitated the return to Niagara County of a victim who lives half way around the world.

Despite what happened, local officials insist the area near the Niagara Falls is safe. Serious crimes against tourists are actually very rare. Since 2014 only nine serious crimes against tourists have been reported. But imagine 8+ million people visiting this top-tourist destination each year.


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More tourist victims in Acapulco

Acapulco 2016: drug cartells keep the city in the News.
Tourist victims Acapulco: drug cartells keep the city in the News.

More tourist victims in Acapulco | It used to be a tourist hotspot. But today, people are best advised to avoid it. The shooting deaths of three more tourists in Acapulco is the latest cruel chapter in the city’s tragic decline from paradise to hell. The men – 21, 21, and 27 years old — have been killed near a beach in a tourist-hotel quarter. For those who don’t know it yet: Acapulco was once Mexico’s #1 beach destination, but nowadays counts an average of 2.5 murders per day. That is the 4th highest urban death toll on earth. The US government recently banned its employees from traveling there for any reason due to the ongoing violence.

In the 1950s and 60s, Acapulco was a playground for the rich and famous. Hollywood stars would flock to the city, which became immortalised in Elvis Presley’s 1963 movie ‘Fun in Acapulco’, and in many songs, such as Ricchi E Poveri’s ‘Acapulco’ (1983).

Acapulco 1963: Elvis Presley makes the city famous.
Acapulco 1963: Elvis Presley makes the city famous.

Normally drug-related violence and tourism were mutually exclusive of one another. This kept the tourism industry rolling despite all the killings. But things have changed in 2015: In April and then July, a waiter and an ambulant vendor were murdered in the area of La Costera. In February 2016 after a fourth murder of a tourist, sun bathers in Acapulco were treated to the spectacle of Mexican Army and Marines trudging past them – a deployment of a new kind. It shows how desperate the Mexican government tries to control the situation. Now add another three tourists to the list. As a result average hotel occupancies have dropped down to 40 percent.

The Mexican state of Guerrero is home to several cartels, operating clandestine drug labs and harvesting approx. 40% of the opium poppy used to supply heroin to the U.S. One might remember an infamous case in Iguala (3 hours away from Acapulco): 43 students ‘disappeared’ in September 2014.


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MV Kirkland returns to Columbia River

MV Kirkland at night on the Columbia River
MV Kirkland at night on the Columbia River

MV Kirkland returns to Columbia River | Seattle, WA. The last living ferry ‘MV Kirkland’ returns to the Columbia River. MV Kirkland – also known as ‘Tourist No. 2’ – was pressure-washed at the Northlake Shipyard this week. Now a long-awaited return of the last living ferry to Seattle’s Columbia River seems to be within reach. It’s planned to bring the repaired watercraft down to Astoria in July — just in time for Astoria Bridge’s 50th anniversary celebration.

This Wednesday, the board is holding the ferry’s first fundraising event at Street 14 Coffee in Astoria. The nonprofit needs to collect $50,000 to pay for the shipyard work.

MV Kirkland was pressure-washed at the Northlake Shipyard this week.
MV Kirkland was pressure-washed and repaired at the Northlake Shipyard this week.

MV Kirkland carried riders and their cars between Astoria and Megler from 1924 to 1966. But then Astoria bridge made ‘Tourist No. 2’ and the rest of the estuary’s ferries obsolete.

Almost a year ago Robert Jacob – majority owner of the Cannery Pier Hotel – got word that ‘Tourist No. 2’ still existed. Though he and other community members hoped to haul it home last year. But this task proved to be quite challenging.

When MV Kirkland arrives, it will be docked at 17th Street in Astoria, And it won’t be just another vintage eye-candy. Business plans includes shuttling visitors along the riverfront. The ferry may also be rented out for private parties and chartered excursions. This could be the start of something big again.

MV Kirkland aka Tourist No. 2 (1950)
Postcard of MV Kirkland aka Tourist No. 2 (1950)

At 110 feet long, 39 feet wide and 40 feet tall, the three-deck, wooden-hull ferry MV Kirkland, aka ‘Tourist No. 2’, was built with old-growth timber, and can accommodate more than 150 people.


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Tourist Tax increased in Mallorca

Tourist Tax increased in Mallorca | Tourists heading to Majorca, Ibiza, Menorca and Malta will be facing an increased ‘tourist tax’ as holiday bosses cash in on surge in bookings to Spain after ISIS attacks in France, Belgium, Turkey, Egypt and the Near East. This dubious tax will be between 1.50 to 2.00 euros per night per person paid to hotels from July 1, 2016. Those tourists who have already paid for their holidays in advance will be forced to pay the additional fee after arrival. Thanks to ISIS, all four mentioned Balearic islands will most likely welcome a new record number of holiday makers this year. Some three million British and 2.5 million German tourists will flock to the Balearics, which also includes the island of Formentera. The authorities in the Balearic government told the media, this tax will fund efforts to protect the islands’ natural resources. But for the people affected it simply looks like utter greed.

Malta is the latest Mediterranean country to adopt the ‘tourist tax.’ Visitors to Malta will be charged 0.50 euros per night from June 1, 2016. There will be a 5 euro visitor cap for persons over the age of 18. Malta attracts approx. two million visitors every year. Some extra  €6 million in revenue could be netted as a result. One can do A LOT of nature protection with this money …

Tourist Tax increased in Mallorca
Tourist Tax increased in Mallorca. Elke Sommer doesn’t care.

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