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Friday, February 9, 2018

#Indonesia - Five things to see in Labuan Bajo besides the Komodo dragon

Aerial view of Padar Island in between Komodo and Rinca Islands near Labuan Bajo in West Manggarai, East Nusa Tenggara. 

 The Komodo dragon is not the only interesting thing to see when you travel to Labuan Bajo, East Nusa Tenggara (NTT).

The picturesque town on the island of Flores offers the following attractions worth exploring, as compiled by :

 Expect to marvel at paddy fields uniquely formed like a giant spiderweb in Cancar village. Travelers usually climb a hill named Puncak Weol to take in a fantastic view.

Labuan Bajo also has a tourist destination for culture enthusiasts named Kampung, where visitors are welcomed with a traditional Manggarai caci dance.

Kampung Melo also offers a gorgeous view that is perfect for photos.
Source - TheJakartaPost

What’s happening to Bangkok’s air?

In the past week, the air quality in Bangkok has hit “unhealthy” levels, according to the Air Pollution Index, and the problem has worsened to the point that smog can be seen with the naked eye in the morning. 

The Department of Pollution Control has issued a warning for people to wear face masks or simply “go to the doctor” if they experience abnormalities with their breathing or respiratory system. 

Today, the department reported PM2.5 dust in Bangkok at 8am. It was measured at 47-70 micrograms per m3, higher than the level considered safe for Thailand, which is set at 50 micrograms per m3. Meanwhile, the World Health Organization suggested that the level of PM2.5 dust should be under 25 micrograms per m3. 
So no, you’re not imagining it.

 According to the department, the dust in four areas of Bangkok exceeded safe standards today. Those areas were: Wangthonglang district, Thanon Intharaphithak (located near the riverside), Rama IV Road (which stretches across business areas including Silom, Lumpini, and Khlong Toei), and Lat Phrao Road. 

Trinuch Kraiwit, a resident of Wangthonglang, told Coconuts: “When I get out of the house in the morning, I can see a thick smog… The sky is gray.

“I’ve been feeling that my allergy has been triggered. I’ve been having a sore throat — so does my colleague. So I’ve bought face masks just in case I have to work outdoors.” 

In a statement, the Department of Pollution Control blamed the temperature drop of 2-4 degrees Celsius and humidity as causes for dust to accumulate in the air.

Prof. Dr. Wanida Jinsart, an expert on environmental science and air pollution from Chulalongkorn University, told Coconuts that the high number of vehicles on Bangkok roads is a main contributor to city smog, and the cool weather caused the problem to become more prominent. 

“It’s more noticeable in the winter, where inversions normally occur. This means a layer of air is trapped, causing the smog,” she said, explaining that the gray smog we see is composed primarily of dust and steam trapped in the atmosphere.

She explained we can see that the smog disappears around 10am as the temperature becomes higher, which means we can expect the smog to go away as warmer weather approaches. 

“We’ll have to follow the weather prediction from the Department of Meteorology, but I think we won’t experience the smog next week.”
She added that the smog can be dangerous to your health if it continues to happen over the long term, and that, for now, we should be OK if we protect ourselves by wearing a face mask.

Source -

#Australia tourism industry under climate change threat

Australia's multi-billion dollar tourism industry is under increasing threat from climate change with some of the nation's top natural wonders in the firing line as temperatures and sea levels rise, a study warned Thursday.

The report by environmental advocacy group the Climate Council said the government needed to do more to reduce carbon emissions harming Australia's beaches, national parks and the Great Barrier Reef.

Tourism is the nation's second-largest export industry, valued at Aus$40 billion (US$31 billion) and employing more than 580,000 people, it said. 

But popular visitor destinations were at risk, with major cities in coastal areas expected to face more frequent flooding in coming years, while Australia's "Red Centre" region could experience more than 100 days annually above 35 degrees Celsius (95 degrees Fahrenheit) by 2030, it found.

"Tourists travel across the globe to see Australia's remarkable natural wonders. But these icons are in the climate firing line as extreme weather events worsen and sea levels continue to rise," ecologist and report co-author Lesley Hughes said.

"Some of our country's most popular natural destinations, including our beaches, could become 'no-go zones' during peak holiday periods and seasons, with the potential for extreme temperatures to reach up to 50 degrees in Sydney and Melbourne."

 A separate report last year from Deloitte Access Economics valued the Great Barrier Reef as an asset worth Aus$56 billion, which included its tourism revenues and its indirect value for people who have not yet visited but know it exists.

The World Heritage-listed site, which attracts millions of tourists each year, is reeling from significant bouts of coral bleaching due to warming sea temperatures linked to climate change.

"Without credible climate policy that cuts Australia's rising carbon pollution levels, the impacts of climate change will only intensify and accelerate across the country over the coming decades," Climate Council chief executive Martin Rice said.

Environmental advocates on Thursday urged Canberra to move away from coal-fired power generation.

With its heavy use of coal-fired power and relatively small population, Australia is considered one of the world's worst per capita greenhouse gas polluters.

"The extra heat from global warming will further reduce the tourist season and make some enterprises unviable," said Liz Hanna, from the School of Environment at the Australian National University.

"Protecting the tourism industry protects jobs and protects Australia's economic wellbeing."
Canberra insists it is taking strong action to address the global threat of climate change, having set an ambitious target to reduce emissions to 26 to 28 percent from 2005 levels by 2030.

Australia sweltered through its third-hottest year on record in 2017, with seven of its 10 warmest years experienced since 2005.

Source - TheJakartaPost

#Amsterdam cracks down on illegal holiday home rentals

Amsterdam is booking progress in its fight against illegal holiday rentals, the city said Wednesday, dishing out over four million euros in fines as it seeks to stem a stream of tourists.
"There has been an intensive crackdown on housing fraud over the past year," the Amsterdam council said in a statement.

Some 378 fines were handed out totalling 4.2 million euros ($5.1 million), "the overwhelming majority of these for the illegal rental of holiday apartments," it said.
The news comes as the highest Dutch court, the State Council, upheld stiff fines totalling 168,000 euros for illegal holiday rentals in the capital.

Last month Amsterdam announced it would impose a new 30-day curb on the renting of private homes via websites like online booking giant Airbnb from next year, as it seeks ways to deal with the masses of tourists that flock to the city's canals, museums and famous cannabis-friendly red-light district.

"By enforcing these measures, the city wants to end the illegal use of homes... which can then again be made available on the normal housing market," the council said.
It also hailed agreements with Airbnb which it said remained the largest online rent-a-home provider in Amsterdam.

 The agreements included Airbnb informing its potential hirers over rules and regulations in Amsterdam and that rentals this year may not exceed 60 days.

Airbnb had also blocked 1,770 adverts for home rentals that exceeded the 60-day threshold, the city said.

This week Airbnb praised the "positive results these measures have brought to the Amsterdam community."

But it said it was disappointed that it was one of the few online rent-a-house bushinesses sticking to the rules.

"A year after the agreement between Airbnb and Amsterdam, many other online platforms refuse to follow Airbnb's example," it said.

"Airbnb is helping Amsterdammers to share their homes in a responsible manner and with tourist tax," the company's northern European general manager James McClure said.
"We are disappointed that others are not taking similar steps to help strengthen the city," McClure said in the statement.

In total, Airbnb said it helped Amsterdam residents rake in some 125 million euros in income and contributed some 500 million euros to the capital's economy in 2016.

Source - TheJakartaPost

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

#Thailand - Limiting tourists on the most popular islands

The Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation held a meeting at the Pearl Hotel on Phuket on Tuesday to discuss the excessive numbers of tourists visiting the famous islands and bays.

Songtham Suksawang, chief of the DNP’s National Parks Office, who chaired the meeting, said that the amount of tourists in marine national parks was directly affecting the environment.

“Those national parks, especially marine national parks, are suffering from an oversupply of visitors. There are many problems such as oil from boats, rubbish and the effect on the local lifestyle on the islands, which is difficult to rehabilitate in the short term. They [meeting participants] discussed rearranging of the marine national parks to better meet the demand, but by limiting supply and providing a more sustainable solution,” he said.

“There will be a study on the limiting of tourism. Some locations have already had these studies done. After sending the officers to check, we found that there’s a specific period of time when the islands are overcrowded, which is 11am to 2pm when the tourists come onshore to rest and have lunch. There are approximately 2,000 to 3,000 people visiting some of the islands each day,” he added.
The DNP has plans for a solution on the Similan Islands by spreading tourists around the other islands, as Island Four and Island Eight are way too overcrowded.
“We will spread tourists to other islands, apart from Islands Four and Eight, by installing piers to connect them. They will be floating piers to avoid disturbing the corals. There will be a floating centre, where tourists can rest in front of the island, as well.''
 “The purchasing process of the centres will be completed by March 31. We will start this project near the islands that are highly overcrowded, such as Similan, Phi Phi and in Phang Nga Bay. The limitation of tourists according to the time of the day will also follow after the study is done,” Songtham explained.
  “The limiting of tourists and an increase in customer fees are possible if the environment continues to be damaged too much from tourism,” he pointed out.

The DNP will also create an e-ticket to enter the islands, which will possibly start with the Similans, Phi Phi and Phang Nga Bay, as this would also help solve the issue of transparency in national park management, the National Parks Office chief said.

For security, he said that he had approved budgets for ambulance and rescue boats and was currently coordinating with the Emergency Medical Institute of Thailand to provide assistance to tourists in the marine national park area.

In case of emergency, the 1669 hotline is also available 24/7.

Source - TheNation

Monday, February 5, 2018

#Indonesia - Palembang launches new tourist destinations ahead of 2018 Asian Games

The Palembang city administration in South Sumatra launched two new tourist destinations on Sunday, namely Tepian Sekanak Bersolek and Kampung Mural Gudang Bonjiet.
The city's Tourism Agency head Isnaini Madani said the two spots were part of Palembang's 13 highlighted tourist destinations prepared to welcome the 2018 Asian Games in August.
"Following its popularity on social media, now Tepian Sekanak Bersolek and Kampung Mural Gudang Bonjiet have officially become tourist destinations to welcome both domestic and foreign tourists," said Isnaini as quoted by Antara on Sunday.
The development of the two places, which feature colorful images and patterns, is said to be the result of a collaboration with PT ICI Paint Indonesia in South Sumatra as part of its corporate social responsibility program. 

"Employees of Palembang city's Public Works Agency and student volunteers worked together to paint the destinations," added Isnaini.
Tepian Sekanak Bersolek is said to be a pilot project as the city administration seeks to beautify all rivers across Palembang. "We are targeting to make all river areas prettier, but considering the current budget we will focus on Sekanak River first."
Source - TheJakartaPost