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Sri Lanka tourist industry booming after end of ethnic war

March 26, 2011

Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka has seen decades of ethnic war which has ended for a while and tourists are visiting Colombo. Tamils in the city too are flocking there to explore its scenic locales. Sri Lanka is fast becoming a preferred destination for residents of India, as it is just next door and is easy on the pocket.

Although, during the tourist season the food and lodging is more expensive, many people choose to vacation there, say travel operators. “We had made over 200 bookings to Sri Lanka last year. During the conflict years we hardly made 20 bookings annually,” said Mahaveer Jain, tour operator.

According to Mahaveer Jain, the availability of inexpensive travel packages and air fare are the main factors in favour of Sri Lanka as a tourist destination. An average cost of flights from Chennai is Rs.4500 ($100 approx)

The average cost of Sri Lankan tour packages spanning two nights and three days is between Rs.13,000 (approx $290) and Rs.15,000 (approx $340).

The country, a small island in the Indian Ocean, is a fusion of the old world and the new. It combines ancient heritage sites and local cultural festivals with luxury beach hotels and spas. Travelers to Sri Lanka can have the best of both worlds – roaming the local markets in the morning, feeding baby elephants in the afternoon, and a five-star spa treatment and gourmet meal at night.

Voluntourism is also popular in Sri Lanka and, considering the devastation of the 2004 tsunami, this is a good spot to recommend to clients looking to give back to a community. Travelers can work to help local families, preserve the environment, protect endangered wildlife and cultural heritage.

The favoured tourist destinations in Sri Lanka include Colombo and Candy. The stupas in Anuradhapura and areas where Buddhist civilisation was prevalent are popular tourist spots. The sacred mountain peak called Adam’s peak, located in Central Sri Lanka, believed to bear the foot print of Lord Buddha himself, is also a major pilgrimage and tourist spot in Sri Lanka.

“However, most of the hotels have increased their rates and package rates have also gone up. The low cost is one of the main factors attracting people to opt for Sri Lanka,” said V Kumar, senior manager, Starline Travels.

[Source: The Times of India]

Free travel apps for iOS – Part 2

March 25, 2011

There are tons of iPhone travel apps out there, both, paid and free; so we have listed some of the ones that are free and can be of a good value or just help.

Updated on September 27, 2011
Click here for a list of free travel apps for iOS

Also check out TripBase’s Travel apps for iPhone and iPad.

TripAdvisor email list hacked over the weekend

March 24, 2011

As a TripAdvisor user, you may have received a message from the company’s CEO advising that part of its email list was compromised over the weekend.

The letter (text in full below) says that no passwords were revealed and that the site doesn’t collect credit card numbers, so the most any affected members might need to worry about is some new spam in their inboxes.

Here’s the email from CEO Steve Kaufer:

To our travel community:
This past weekend we discovered that an unauthorized third party had stolen part of TripAdvisor’s member email list. We’ve confirmed the source of the vulnerability and shut it down. We’re taking this incident very seriously and are actively pursuing the matter with law enforcement.
How will this affect you? In many cases, it won’t. Only a portion of all member email addresses were taken, and all member passwords remain secure. You may receive some unsolicited emails (spam) as a result of this incident.

The reason we are going directly to you with this news is that we think it’s the right thing to do. As a TripAdvisor member, I would want to know. Unfortunately, this sort of data theft is becoming more common across many industries, and we take it extremely seriously.

I’d also like to reassure you that TripAdvisor does not collect members’ credit card or financial information, and we never sell or rent our member list.

We will continue to take all appropriate measures to keep your personal information secure at TripAdvisor. I sincerely apologize for this incident and appreciate your membership in our travel community.

Check out the additional information about the incident on the website.


Earthquake strikes northern Myanmar

March 24, 2011

The Global Disaster Alert and Coordination System (GDACS) and the United States Geological Survey (USGS) have both confirmed that a on March 24, 2011 1:55:36 PM UTC (about 20:35h local time), a 6.8-magnitude earthquake occurred in the highly populated region of Shan State in Myanmar.

The first earthquake occurred 89 km (55 miles) N of Chiang Rai, Thailand; 168 km (104 miles) SSW of Yunjinghong, Yunnan, China; 589 km (365 miles) NE of Rangoon, Myanmar; annd 772 km (479 miles) N of Bangkok, Thailand.

The USGS said the first 6.8-magnitude quake, which occurred six miles deep, was followed by another of the same strength but far deeper: 140 miles.

Potentially affected critical infrastructure:
* Nuclear plants: [None]
* Hydrodams: [None]
* Airports: Chiang Kham (161km), Xieng Lom (173km), Chiang Rai (113km), Chiang Tai International (105km), Ban Houayxay (92km), Tachilek (47km), Monghsat (78km), Luang Namtha (158km), Keng Tung (52km), Mengla (185km), Gasa (150km), Zheli Airfield P (155km)
* Ports: [None]

For more on the technical aspects of the first earthquake, go to USGS’s webpage:

It is being reported that the earthquakes were not powerful enough to generate a Pacific Ocean tsunami warning.

One person was killed by a roof collapsing in Chiang Rai, Thailand’s MCOT network reported, and tremors were felt in the capital Bangkok, 479 miles (772 km) south of the epicenter.

[Source: eTN]

mTrip travel guides for iOS available for free – today only!

March 24, 2011

mTrip Travel Guides for cities around the world pre-load content on mobile devices so travelers can avoid roaming charges when accessing the content. This means that the guides are 100% offline (except when sharing or updating).

The travel guide automatically customizes your trip itinerary with its extensive travel guide directory, guides you to each tourist attraction with directions, uses augmented reality to display tourist attractions in your area, and allows you to share your trip with personalized e-postcards over Facebook and email.

The following guides are available to download for free today (otherwise $5.99 per guide) only in the iTunes store, so grab them while you can:

mTrip Travel Guides for iOS

mTrip Travel Guides for iOS

Hong Kong
São Paulo

Oslo Lufthavn will have an extension by 2017

March 23, 2011

Oslo Airport

Oslo Airport (Source: Wikipedia)

Oslo Lufthavn (IATA: OSL) will be undergoing an extension that begins in April, and the plan is that everything will be finished in spring 2017. OSL has a budget of 12.5 billion. The extension will will handle 28 million passengers.

It will include new arrival and departure hall of 52,000 square meters, and 34 new check-in counters to check-in area. There will be a new pier with aircraft parking areas for domestic and international. This is 63,000 square meters, and will be located on the north side of the current arrival and departure hall, according to OSL.

Continue reading

Get airport maps for your next transit or layover

March 23, 2011

Airport Maps

Airport Maps

On your next travel, you’re more likely to transit through an airport if your trip involves multiple stops. Apart from the connections, most travelers worry about the time it will take them to transfer from one terminal to the other. So before you leave, a little research in to the airport layout will reduce frustration during the time you switch from one plane to the next.

Check out Airport Terminal Maps website or visit the website of the airport you will be changing planes at and print out a map of the terminal. When faced with a short time to get from one concourse to the next you will find a map to be very helpful.

If you have a layover that allows you to cruise around in one of the best airports in the world, this will be handy to identify shops and restaurants that interest you.

Add the Gate Guru travel application to your smart phone, that covers over 115 airports across the United States, Canada and Europe. The application allows you to view your Tripit and KAYAK itineraries, view / post airport security wait times and see a structured list of airport food, shops and services – including over 20,000 reviews and tips and 4,000 photos from fellow travelers on airports, terminals, and airport amenities!

Embassy World lists contact information of every embassy in the world

March 23, 2011

Embassy World

Embassy World

Embassy World lists the contact information and websites for all of the embassies around the world. The site has listings of all of the embassies resources available by nation and a separate listing for all of the foreign embassies located within the United States.

It also has detailed information about UN missions and other international organizations. Some of the other features include voltage requirements by country and an international telephone directory.

Before traveling to any country, check the appropriate embassy for visa requirements, safety information, and it’s a good idea to register with your embassy when you’re travelling.

Follow us on Facebook

March 23, 2011

Yes, we are on Facebook. Click that “Like” button on our page for the latest on news, guides, tips and much more from the travel industry. Thanks for reading, contributing, and making it fun to write every day. Oh and make sure to spread the word to your friends, family, pets, or maybe just everyone!


Drunk and fake pilots in India

March 23, 2011

Flying in India has become a joke recently with airline authorities catching 57 pilots over the alcohol limit in the past two years, but only 11 lost their jobs and rest got away with punishments, according to the Times of India. The country’s largest airline, Jet-JetLite, boasted the most boozers, with as many as 23 drunk pilots, none of whom lost their jobs. In response to the news, the country’s Directorate of Civil Aviation has instituted new rules requiring intoxicated pilots to be grounded for three months on first offense and to lose their licence forever after the second.

Air India

Air India

This is as disturbing as another investigation that found at least four Indian pilots flying with fake qualifications. One pilot was arrested after damaging a plane during a rough landing. Subsequent inspection found that the pilot had used fake documents to obtain her license. Authorities are now in the process of verifying the qualifications of 4,000 pilots. But until then, taking the train is a good idea!

Earth Hour 2011 on March 26

March 22, 2011

Earth Hour 2011

Earth Hour 2011

Each of us has a responsibility for the sustainability of our planet and each of us can make a difference if we choose to do so.

On 26 March at 8:30pm Earth Hour 2011 will take place – globally. This is an opportunity for every individual, every business and every community to switch their lights off for one hour in a collective display of commitment to protect the one thing that unites us all – the planet.

With Earth Hour almost upon us, our thoughts are with the people of Japan during this incredibly challenging and
sad time for their country.

Some of the things that Earth Hour website recommend we can do in our homes to save this planet:
* Buy local produce from markets thereby reducing food miles
* Walking or riding the bike wherever possible as opposed to driving
* Ensure the car tyres are always inflated to the correct level as they use less fuel
* Use fuel with Ethanol
* Turn off the lights and use organic or beeswax candles a lot of the time
* Unplug appliances when they are not in use
* Use heating and cooling when absolutely necessary
* Wash in mostly cold water
* Use chemical-free dish washing, washing powder and cleaning products
* Recycle, recycle, recycle
* Buy products with the highest recyclability
* Purchase clothes that are ethically made, not mass produced
* Dress in Organic clothing
* Install water-saving nozzles on all taps including showers
* Compost scraps whenever possible
* Prepare food plans so as to avoid food wastage
* Grow herbs and spices
* Have timed showers to use less water
* Water the plants of an evening
* Bury food scraps in the garden bed to feed the earth worms or compost
* Collecting grey water from bath and use it to water plants
* Using Certified Organic personal care products (avoid using chemicals)
* Wash the car on the grass with environmentally friendly car wash

Together we can make a difference!

Travel news for the day

March 22, 2011

These are some of the stories that made the headlines:

Airports will track your Wi-Fi soon

March 22, 2011

Tracking Passengers through Wi-Fi (Source: NY Times)

Tracking Passengers through Wi-Fi (Source: NY Times)

Across most of the airports in the world one can see the same routine much like other airports – passengers hurrying through the terminal, waiting in security lines or lingering at the duty-free shops. But at Copenhagen International Airport, a Geneva-based company, SITA, 860 miles away, is tracking passengers by their phones’ Wi-Fi. Stephane Cheikh, innovation manager for the aviation communications and technology company SITA, was using his laptop to demonstrate a new program that tracked travelers’ movements based on the Wi-Fi-emitting devices they carried.

Why you ask? So the airport can use this information to improve the design of the airport, direct the flow of passengers or shift employees to improve the efficiency of security or immigration checkpoints. And also offer special deals to the passengers.

Currently in a testing period now, SITA hopes to eventually extend the tracking program to other airports around the world. On Mr. Cheikh’s laptop, the tracking program showed different colored dots to distinguish arriving from departing passengers. Travelers can download the associated Copenhagen Airport iPhone application to receive location-specific information on their devices about things like where to find the shortest security line or special deals being offered by nearby stores.

One way to look at this is that the passengers sitting in coffee shops, or duty-free shops will be tracked real-time which, most definitely, is faster and easier than looking at the CCTV camera monitors.

Hopefully this will make more airports install free Wi-Fi as an incentive.

Read more at: NY Times

8 best frequent flyer programs compared

March 21, 2011

Frequent Flyer Programs compared

You can earn free travel and other benefits when you accumulate all your miles from one frequently flyer program. Like much else in the travel industry, though, these loyalty programs are often changing, and finding the most rewarding program can be difficult.

Gizmodo lists the top eight frequent flyer programs nominated by their readers.

The following programs are listed:

  • Southwest Rapid Rewards
  • Continental OnePass
  • American Airlines AAdvantage
  • United Airlines Mileage Plus
  • Lufthansa Miles and More
  • Delta Skymiles
  • Aeroplan
  • Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan

Also check out:
How to choose frequent flyer programs [USAToday]

Navagio Beach, Zakynthos, Greece

March 18, 2011

Navagio Beach (Source: Beautiful Places To Visit)

Navagio Beach (Source: Beautiful Places To Visit)

The famous Shipwreck Beach (Navagio), pictures of which one would see on every tourist brochure about Zakynthos, is at the northwest tip of the island. It is notable because it is home to the wreck of the alleged smuggler ship Panagiotis; thus, it is often referred to as ‘Smugglers Cove’. It is a much overhyped but splendid beach, and the downside of it is the round-the-island excursion boats from Zakynthos Town bring tourists in hoards.

The white sand beach is only accessible by boat. Tourists can catch a boat from the capital city of Zakynthos, Porto Vromi to the South, or from Saint Nikolas in Volimes to the Northeast. Navagio Beach is the least crowded in the months of May and November. Go there either early in the morning or in the afternoon (>15:00), as in the time between the big around-the-island cruise ships anchor there and the beach is heavily crowded – its not rare to have 20 boats all moored each putting a few hundred people ashore at once. Going there in off-peak times ensures you will have the beach pretty much to your own

Navagio Beach (Source: Beautiful Places To Visit)

Navagio Beach (Source: Beautiful Places To Visit)

Your best bet is to take a small-boat trip to see Shipwreck Beach and/or the Blue Caves (in the island’s northeast). The northeastern coastal road is lined with hawkers offering the ‘same-trip-better-boat’ deals. Potamitis Trips (Tel: +30 26950 31132,, offers good glass-bottom boat trips at Cape Skinari, 3km beyond Agios Nikolaos (Blue Caves only, €7.50; Shipwreck Beach and Blue Caves, €15).

For the ultimate picture, follow the signs to the Agios Gergio Kremnao monastery – when you arrive there, use the road to your right to get to a small viewing platform some 600ft above the wreck and is where most of the picture postcard shots are taken from. It can actually be nicer to see it from this perspective than up close and personal on the beach itself.

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