Morocco Travel Alert

July 17, 2007 on 1:14 pm | In country travel information, personal travel, travel industry, travel warnings | Comments Off

Although we do not cover Morocco in our ThereArePlaces website, we realize that many visitors to Spain, or those cruising the Mediterranean may do so.  If you are planning on visiting Morocco this summer, please read the following note.

On Friday, July 6, Moroccan press reported that authorities raised the terror alert level for the country to its highest level, citing a current, serious threat of a terrorist act. A statement from the Ministry of Interior clarified that the maximum level of alert “indicates a serious threat of a terrorist act and demands extreme mobilization by the bodies concerned.”

It was also reported that Moroccan security forces stepped up their activities and vigilance throughout the country. No further information was given as to what the threat might entail; only that it came from “reliable intelligence information.”

Analysts speculate that the threat may have been raised in part due to continued calls for attacks by senior al-Qa’ida leadership, as well as recent attacks throughout North Africa by al-Qa’ida in the Land of the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM). Several major events are also approaching in Morocco, which could also increase the vigilance of security forces. These include the Fete du Trone and Fete de la Jeunesse, both likely to occur in late July, and parliamentary elections scheduled for September 7.

Hawaii Cruise News and New Seat Configuration for Some Airlines?

April 12, 2007 on 4:44 pm | In travel, travel industry, travel news, vacation travel | Comments Off

Norwegian Cruise Lines has decided to cut back on the number of ships that is has on its routes in Hawaii (reducing from 3 to 2).  The company has decided to move the largest ship serving Hawaii (the Pride of Hawaii) to Europe for the 2008 season.  Apparently the company’s Hawaii cruise venture has not turned out well, as it generated substantial losses in 2006 and 2007.  For more detail see this link .

Several airlines are considering reconfiguring the layouts of their planes but turning some of the seats backwards.  Doing so will allow a significant increase in the number of passengers on a plane.  See this article for more detail .

High Speed Trains – France Cracks Record

April 4, 2007 on 11:26 am | In country travel information, travel, travel industry, travel news | Comments Off

You may have read recently that a specially equipped French Train (TGV) hit a record for wheeled trains of 357.2 miles per hour during a technology test last week.  The speed has only been exceeded by a Maglev train in Japan 

For the most part, the test was a marketing ploy to sell the French technology to the Chinese. 

However, buried in the reports was a piece of good news for travelers in France.  The test took place on a new, high-speed track that extends from Paris to Strasbourg, allowing travelers faster access to eastern France and Germany.  The LGV-Est line connects to Strasbourg in 2 hours and 20 minutes (speed = approximately 200 mph), considerably shorter than the 4 hours previously required.  The service will not be available to the public until mid-June of this year.

Alitalia Airlines Sale Attracts ——Aeroflot?

April 4, 2007 on 11:11 am | In travel, travel industry, travel news | Comments Off

The BBC has reported that Aeroflot, which opererates most Russian domestic and international flights , is teaming with the Unicredit ( a major Italian bank) to bid for Alitalia.  If they win the bid, they may be surprised by how easy it is for airline employees to strike in Italy.  For the full story see this link

While we are on the subject of airlines, Azteca Airlines, which operated in Mexico, ceased operations at the beginning of April.

We’re On Travel and Some Site News

March 29, 2007 on 9:15 pm | In personal travel, travel, travel industry, travel news | Comments Off

We are off on travel, but not very far, unfortunately.  It’s a weekend trip to Las Vegas to attend a wedding at the Bellagio!  We have only seen Las Vegas weddings in the movies and could not pass up a chance to see what kind of show the Bellagio will put on. We have been told that it has been arranged for the dancing waters at the Bellagio to perform a choreographed “dance” to the wedding music chosen by the bride and the groom to be.   We were stunned to find out earlier this week that ”wedding travel” is a ten billion dollar industry, just in the United States. 

Since we have recently launched a Las Vegas Guide at , we are excited to have the opportunity to do a little more research and find out what’s new that might be of interest.

Also, we have decided to put short travel videos on ThereArePlaces and will use Las Vegas as a test case.  We will let you know how it works out.

Next, we have started augmenting our Travel Guide for Italy.  Recently we added a section on the gorgeous Italian Lake Country and yesterday we published a Photo-Guide to Isle of  Capri.  We will be adding one for Tuscany and another for the Amalfi coast in the next week or so.  We will also be adding a variety of attractive, new photographs to various destinations in Italy and around the world.


Travel Trends Slow

March 26, 2007 on 1:20 pm | In country travel information, personal travel, travel, travel industry, travel news | Comments Off

Recently, the US Department of Commerce forecast a record year for visits by international tourists to the United States.  (The article can be found here .)

In turn, the Discover America Partnership, made up of pro-tourism business leaders,  disputed the Commerce Department’s claim that tourism throughout the U.S. has made a full recovery from the lows brought on by the terror attacks on Sept. 11, 2001. “We have lost nearly 60 million international travelers since 9/11 and the problem is only getting worse,” said Executive Director Geoff Freeman. “As travel around the world skyrockets, the U.S. is mired in a slump.  (The complete article can be found here .)

This was followed by a recent article in US Today indicating that while
tourists from UK, France, Germany and Japan account for approximately half of the foreign tourists visiting the U.S., their visitor totals dropped 5% in 2006.  See this link .

On a somewhat different note, the start of the “Sailing Season” (also known as “Wave Season”) has been slower than predicted just a few months ago. A  survey of the first two months of the season by Bank of America analyst Michael Savner indicated  that “key indexes weakened in January and February, as pricing in the Caribbean fell precipitously.”  (Editorial Note: From our perspective, maybe this is a good opportunity for you to snag a bargain cruise?)


World Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Report

March 3, 2007 on 10:17 am | In travel industry, travel news | Comments Off

Spent some time this morning reading through an extremely long report titled “The Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Report 2007”, issued by the World Economic Forum. The report is part of an ongoing series that attempts to determine why some countries grow prosperous, while others are left behind.

Travel is considered a key part of the ongoing study since it has become a significant source of economic growth and development for many countries. If interested, you can find the report at .
We suggest you skip the study and read the executive summary which can be found at

Rather than expose you to the details of the report, we will tell you that study includes a worldwide ranking that is based on 13 pillars of travel and tourism, which are as follows:

1. Policy rules and regulations
2. Environment regulation
3. Safety and Security
4. Health and Hygiene
5. Prioritization of Travel and Tourism
6. Air transport infrastructure
7. General transport infrastructure
8. Tourism infrastructure
9. ICT infrastructure (Information and Communications Technology)
10. Price competitiveness in the Travel and Tourism Industry
11. Human resources
12. National tourism perception
13. Natural and cultural resources

The leader in the ranking was Switzerland, followed by Austria, Germany, Iceland and the United States.The results of this fascinating study can best be appreciated by examining the interactive map used to present the rankings. It can be viewed at . Rolling your mouse over the countries on the map will provide their rank and their travel and tourism competitiveness index as rated by this study.
One country will pop out right away. Italy is ranked 33rd of 124 and was penalized for its government not prioritizing travel and tourism and arcane policy rules and regulations related to travel.

In many ways, the rankings of this study mirror the rankings of the same countries based on the number of tourist visits.

It’s Cold Outside – But our inbox gives us warm thoughts about Greece

March 2, 2007 on 5:57 pm | In travel, travel industry, vacation travel | Comments Off

As you might suspect, our mailboxes for often contain interesting materials. Every once in while something catches our attention and today was one of those days.

Sitting in our inbox was an unsolicited email from a company called Mediterranean Traditional Mansions Ltd. Their website is at  and is worth a look. MedTM bills itself as a voluntary association for the marketing and promotion of castles, manors, abbeys, mills and lodges that have a historic identity AND offer Mediterranean hospitality.

Currently, MedTM indicates that it offers accommodations in Croatia, France, Greece, Italy, Morocco, Spain, and Turkey. Although they mention more countries on their website, they apparently do not yet have agreements covering properties in all countries. Also, in some countries, such as France, they only have one listing (although it is a delightful hotel in Colmar that we have visited in the past). Next, most of the listings are for hotels, which, it appears, were once private mansions.

However, the reason that we are point out MedTM is for the accommodations that it offers in Greece. Hotels or not, these are the types of accommodations that make you think vacation. Since this has been a week filled with difficult winter weather in most of the U.S., why not spend a few moments looking at MedTM’s great collection of hotels in sunny Greece? After all, it is time to be planning your next international vacation.

According to the logo shown on their website MedTM is a member of the American Society of Travel Agents (ASTA), the Hellenic Association of Travel and Tourist Agencies (HATTA) and several other associations.

We do not have an association with MedTM and this review should not be taken as a recommendation to use their services. If you plan on contacting them, use the same due diligence that you would when making another purchase of the same amount.      

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