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AROUND THE WORLD

We travel the globe in search of the latest and greatest travel news

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New Zealand is the place to be

According to a Bloomberg report New Zealand is becoming so popular with tourists that accommodation is becoming more and more difficult to find. Airbnb has been able to fill in the gap but only just. This rapid growth in tourism has seen hotels across the country selling out of space. Hotel occupancy sits at about 86% throughout the year. To put it into perspective, the population of New Zealand is about 4.7 million, annual visitors in 2016 was 3.5 million and is expected to rise to 4.5 million in 2022. Almost one visitor for every resident. We’re thinking we should visit to see what it is about this tiny country that is making it so appealing to people around the globe. And we should do it soon.  The increased visitor numbers are great for the country but there are environmental factors to consider as well, so please remember, to leave nothing but footprints and take nothing but picture. Same applies to anywhere we decide to visit.

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Dive The Titanic

In 1912, a cruise aboard the Titanic was the ultimate luxury. More than a century it still is as London based company Blue Marble Private begins tourist dives to the site of the wreck. If you have about $105,129 to spare you could be one of the lucky few who get a chance to explore the once magnificent queen of the sea. The eight day journey will set off from Newfoundland, Canada in a purpose-built titanium and carbon fibre submersible to the vessels final resting place two miles below the surface of the Atlantic. You will have the opportunity to explore the remains of the 269 metre long ship, taking in the deck, the bow and bridge and of course the cavern where the grand staircase was once located. There are other opportunities as well such as conducting sonar scans or searches for the ships giant boiler , enormous propellers, and other landmarks of the famous Titanic. And if you’re not that into deep sea diving but are a serious Titanic enthusiast. Don’t despair, China is currently building a life-size replica of the shop complete with reproductions of the original features including theatre, swimming pool and ballroom. Also, Australian tycoon Clive Palmer’s full-size seaworthy replica should be ready by 2018. The same year the undersea dive adventure is set to begin. But, if all else fails, a visit to the Titanic museum in Northern Ireland should do the trick. After all, the museum was named the World’s Leading Tourist Attraction at the World Travel Awards in 2016.

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The Waldorf Astoria closes its doors

After being a celebrated landmark in New York for 85 years, the Waldorf Astoria closed its doors on 28th February, for at least three years for renovations. Bought in 2014 by Chinese insurance company Anbang after being owned by Hilton Worldwide since 1949, the legendary hotel is famous for amongst other things the Waldorf Salad as well as the popular cocktail, the Waldorf Sunset. But perhaps most famous of all were its illustrious guests who included every United States president since Herbert Hoover, a never ending list of Hollywood legends from Elizabeth Taylor and Frank Sinatra to Angelina Jolie, Brad Pitt and so many more. It’s staff can tell stories and write books about the coming and goings of the hotels fair guests and even movies were made there.  Even the Dalai Lama has been a guest in its famous walls. Apparently the renovations will see most of its 1400 rooms converted into residential condos though there will still be a hotel. We shall wait with baited breathe to see what the next phase of the legendary hotel holds. We just have to hold our breathe for at least three years.

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Sakura Season in Japan

The annual cherry blossom season officially begins in early April but this year despite the cooler weather, the Somei Yoshino Sakura trees showed of their pretty blooms at the end of March. The surest sign of Spring is the arrival of the cherry blossoms and millions of people across the country look forward to hanami, (cherry blossom viewing) parties underneath the trees in parks. Japan also sees many tourists during this time as not only is it Sakura season but the country it is also Spring, which means warmer weather. We’re told that the best place to experience the beauty of the cherry blossoms is in Hokkaido as this is where both plum and cherry trees come into bloom at the same time. Or take a stroll down the 2km tunnel of flowering cherry trees in Kakunodate, Akita set amidst classic Samurai residences stretching back over 300 years. Either way, I’m sure this is one that would be unforgettable.

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