Vienna-Paris night train is reborn, empty

by Jean LIOU Agence France-Presse On board the Vienna-Paris night train, Austria (AFP) – The timing could perhaps have been better. With a resurgence of Covid-19 gripping Europe, there were no paying passengers for the maiden voyage of the reborn night train linking Paris and Vienna. A return of night trains to the Old Continent is seen as symbolic of the efforts to shift travel from the air back to rail as Europe seeks to meet […]

Virus turns Indonesia holiday island into desert of abandoned resorts

by Haeril HALIM Indonesia (AFP) — Chef Ilhani used to serve up Japanese cuisine to holidaymakers every night, now he makes just $3 a day selling fried snacks on the near empty streets of once bustling Gili Trawangan. The coronavirus pandemic has shuttered almost all the resorts and restaurants across Indonesia’s Gili Islands, famed for their turquoise waters, sandy beaches, and diverse marine life. Situated close to Bali, tourism and the local economy had been […]

Japanese tycoon ‘excited’ ahead of trip to ISS

BAIKONUR, Kazakhstan (AFP) – Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa said Tuesday he was feeling “excited” ahead of his mission to the International Space Station, which marks Russia’s return to space tourism. Maezawa, a space enthusiast who made his wealth in online fashion, and his production assistant, Yozo Hirano, will spend 12 days on the ISS. Their Soyuz rocket operated by Russia’s Roscosmos space agency will blast off from the Moscow-leased Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on Wednesday. “I […]

Thailand plots sustainable comeback for DiCaprio beach

by Sophie Deviller and Thanaporn Promyamyai KHO PHI PHI LEY, Thailand (AFP) — While travel stopped and the world locked down, in the dazzling blue waters of Thailand’s idyllic Phi Phi islands, a gentle renaissance was under way. Mass tourism had brought the archipelago, immortalised in Leonardo DiCaprio movie “The Beach”, to the brink of ecological catastrophe. Now Thailand hopes to make Phi Phi the standard-bearer for a new, more sustainable model of tourism as […]

WHO Omicron warning for unvaccinated vulnerable travellers

  by Robin MILLARD Agence France Presse GENEVA, Switzerland (AFP) — The WHO said Tuesday that those not fully vaccinated against Covid-19 who are also vulnerable to the disease, including over-60s, should put off travel to areas with community transmission. The World Health Organization also said blanket travel bans would not stop the spread of the Omicron variant. The new Covid-19 variant of concern, which the WHO says poses a “very high” risk globally, has […]

Tel Aviv ranked world’s priciest city for first time

LONDON, United Kingdom (AFP) — Tel Aviv is the world’s most expensive city to live in as soaring inflation has pushed up living costs globally, according to a survey published on Wednesday. The Israeli city climbed five rungs to score top place for the first time in the authoritative ranking compiled by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU). The Worldwide Cost of Living Index is compiled by comparing prices in US dollars for goods and services […]

India welcomes back tourists but smog shrouds Taj Mahal

by Laurence THOMANN Agence France-Presse AGRA, India (AFP) – Foreign tourists have been welcomed back to India after pandemic travel bans but intrepid travellers will have to brave the intense pollution season to visit the country’s most famous attraction. Around the palatial gardens of the Taj Mahal, air quality deteriorates each winter, enveloping the white marble mausoleum in a thick coat of hazardous smog. The problem is replicated across whole swathes of northern India, where […]

Iran museums reopen after year-long Covid break

TEHRAN, Iran (AFP) — Iran reopened museums in Tehran and other cities Sunday after a more than year-long closure because of the Covid-19 pandemic. “Museums in Tehran and other large cities that are no longer red-coded, meaning the risk of contracting the virus was very high, reopened on Sunday,” the director of Iran’s museums, Mohammad-Reza Kargar, told AFP. “Tourists and visitors are welcome to return while observing (sanitary) measures.” A country with a millennia-long history, […]

A look at the curious “white houses” of Thorn in The Netherlands

  By Marilou Francisco EBC Europe Bureau/ Eagle News Service (Eagle News) — If the United States has the White House, the Netherlands has these old historical white houses which can be found in the town of Thorn in the Dutch province of Limburg, to the south of the country. The town is dubbed as the “White Village” because of these centuries-old white brick houses in the historical center of the town. Although Thorn is […]

Covid case cuts short Singapore ‘cruise to nowhere’

SINGAPORE, Singapore (AFP) — An ocean liner on a “cruise to nowhere” was forced to make an earlier-than-scheduled return to Singapore Wednesday after a coronavirus case was detected on board, reports said. The cruises — starting and ending in Singapore, with no stops — were launched last year as part of the travel industry’s attempt to bounce back from a pandemic-induced crunch. They have proved popular among those seeking an escape from the tiny city-state, […]