Rough Guides writer Steve Vickers casts an eye over the big travel topics and unpicks some of the most unusual stories in the latest travel news.
Turkey introduces e-visas for tourists
If you’re travelling to Turkey later this year, you might have to do some forward planning. Tourists arriving in the country after 10th April 2014 will no longer be able to get a visa on arrival, and (with only a few exceptions) will instead have to apply for an ‘e-visa’ before travelling. According to the government website that’s been set up to deal with e-visa applications, the new system will help cut queuing times at immigration.
The cheap route to Okinawa
Japan’s biggest airline, All Nippon Airways, will soon start operating new flights from London to Tokyo, increasing competition on an already busy route. Why should you care? Because the same airline’s budget offshoot, Vanilla Air, is now offering super-cheap fares from Tokyo to the sub-tropical island of Okinawa, almost a thousand miles to the southwest. When we last checked, one-way tickets from Tokyo to the easy-going island, home to some of the longest-living people on earth, were going for ¥7,500 (around £45). That’s cheaper than the basic one-way fare on a bullet train from Tokyo to Kyoto, a journey of just over 300 miles.
Flying got safer in 2013
Jittery at the thought of flying? This bit of news may encourage you to get back in the air. Statistics published by the European Aviation Safety Agency show that in 2013, the number of fatal accidents involving commercial planes was lower than at any time in the past decade. Worldwide, there were 17 accidents leading to 224 deaths, compared with a yearly average of 27 accidents and 703 deaths (to put things in perspective, the World Health Organisation estimates that around 1.24 million people are killed each year on the roads). Looking at European aviation alone, the statistics are incredible; despite more than 800 million passengers taking to the skies with commercial airlines in Europe, not a single fatal accident was recorded.
“The best thing in tanning – since the sun”
Arriving home after a holiday in the sun, things can feel a little… dull. So why not spend your first day back at the office colouring yourself in? Tanee, a tan-line corrector pen, is now being sold at airports and hotels around the world with the aim of helping travellers to cover up their embarrassing tanning ‘blunders’. The product is being marketed – quite seriously, it would seem – as the ‘best thing in tanning since the sun’. The pictures on the Tanee website, though, make it look suspiciously like an orange marker pen.
Putting the romance back in rail travel
The South Coast Railroad Museum in California, USA, is doing its best to inject a bit of romance back into rail travel. On the 15th and 16th of February this year, the museum will be running Valentine’s themed train trips along a stretch of the Pacific coast that’s edged by vineyards on one side and surf-lashed beaches on the other. The ‘Sweetheart Special’ services (from $126) will take around six hours to travel from Santa Barbara to Goleta and back, with lunches served up in historic rail cars from the 1930s, 40s and 50s.
New maritime museum is a long way from the sea
The Texan city of Dallas is a good 260 miles from the nearest stretch of coastline, but that hasn’t stopped plans being made for a brand-new seafaring museum. This summer, work is expected to start on a new riverside development that will eventually house the Dallas Maritime Museum. When complete, the centrepiece of the museum will be the USS Dallas, a nuclear submarine that was named after the city and – although still in active service – is due to be decommissioned soon.
Iceland has been given a starring role in big-budget productions like Game of Thrones and Ben Stiller’s latest film, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty. But the country is surely at its best when it’s filmed like this: rugged, wild and empty.