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Travel News

By Judy Newell

México News

México Tourism Board Expected to Close All International Offices

The Mexican Tourism Board, which last month shuttered 17 of its 21 international offices, plans to close the remaining four by June, according to multiple sources.

The sources, all of whom spoke on condition that they remain anonymous, said the New York, Tokyo, and Berlin offices will be shuttered by the end of the quarter, and Miami will close in May or June.

Previously, the head of the tourism board’s New York office had indicated that the new president’s administration planned to close all but four offices and had transferred the promotional agency’s $300 million budget to construction of a rail line linking tourist destinations and villages across the Yucatán Peninsula.

At the time, he said, the tourist offices might be folded into Mexican embassies in the three countries. It remained unclear if the country will be dedicating any resources to inbound tourism promotion.

International News

Komodo Island Is Closing Because People Keep Stealing Dragons

If going to Indonesia’s Komodo Island was part of your long-term travel plans, you’re going to want to make that trip soon. Tourists will be temporarily banned from the island starting in January 2020.

After more than 40 Komodo dragons were recently stolen and sold overseas for approximately US $35,000 each, the local government has decided to close Komodo Island to tourists starting in January 2020, according to Indonesia’s Tempo newspaper.

Komodo dragons, the world’s largest species of lizard, can grow up to 10 feet in length and weigh more than 300 pounds. These venomous lizards are found throughout Komodo National Park on the islands of Komodo, Rinca, Gili Motong, and Flores. The International Union for Conservation of Nature lists them as a vulnerable species on its Red List of Threatened Species.

The government hopes that the closure will help with its conservation efforts to preserve the dragons’ habitat and increase the current population of about 5,700 lizards throughout the park.

Although the news comes soon after the smuggling ring was busted, plans to limit the number of visitors to Komodo Island for conservation efforts have been under discussion since January. As one of the most popular tourist destinations in Indonesia, Komodo National Park receives an average of 10,000 visitors per month.

Stay Off Your Phone and Get a Free Room

Hotel Bellora in Gothenburg, Sweden, has a mission: to help guests to relax without their phones.

The property is encouraging travelers to stop staring at their phone screens by enticing them with the opportunity of a free hotel stay.

The “Check Out Suite” at Hotel Bellora is equipped with a Skärmfri (which translates to “Screen-Free”) smart lamp that measures how much time guests spend on their phone. The more you’re on your phone, the higher the room rate.

The Skärmfri lamp converts screen time into a currency that rewards a healthy digital life. Upon arrival in the suite, guests connect their phones to the Skärmfri lamp via the room’s Wi-Fi. The lamp will glow white as it measures up to 30 minutes of time guests spend on their phone.

Once guests go over the 30-minute limit, the lamp will turn red and they’ll have to pay full price for the room.

For travelers who can remain off their phone the entire time, they’ll get the room free.

Yoga with Lemurs

The Armathwaite Hall Hotel and Spa in Keswick, England, is offering a new twist on ancient exercise. It’s treating guests to outdoor yoga with lemurs as part of wellness offerings linked to a nearby wildlife park. “Lemoga” allows participants to “feel at one with nature, at the same time joining in with the lemurs’ playtime,” the hotel says.

Cruise News

Oberammergau Passion Play 2020

Every 10 years, the quaint town of Oberammergau serves as host to their spectacular depiction of the Christian Passion Play. Dating back to 1634 and with over 2,000 residents serving as actors, singers and stage technicians, it was created to preserve the health and well-being of the people of the village.

For 2020, Scenic is offering river cruise and land tour packages, including tickets to the performance in a premier location. Don’t miss out on this once-in-a-decade event.

Gems of the Danube with Bavaria and Oberammergau: 11 days Budapest – Munich, June 25, July 9, 23 and August 6, 2020. Pricing from US$6,190 per person.

Rhine and Alpine Highlights, 15 days Vienna – Amsterdam: June 17, 2020. Pricing from US$8,595 per person.

Jewels of Europe with Bohemian Sojourn and Oberammergau: 21 days Amsterdam – Munich, July 13, 27 and September 7, 2020. Pricing from US$10,690 per person

Words of the Wise and Well-traveled

“A person susceptible to ‘wanderlust’ is not so much addicted to movement as committed to transformation.” —Pico Iyer


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Judy Newell, an international travel consultant for over 40 years, heads Perfect Journeys and specializes in unique travel experiences to destinations around the world. She custom-designs journeys that are tailored to suit your interests, abilities, and budget. Please contact Judy for further information on Travel News topics and around-the-world travel; cell phone 415 111 8765; Vonage 949-300-3682; email Her office is in Rancho Los Labradores, carr a Dolores Hidalgo. View the latest travel specials on the website

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Sources: Travel Weekly, Afar, Agent Studio, Travel+Leisure, Scenic Luxury Cruises and Tours, American Cruise Lines


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