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Responsible Tourism

by Lux Joseph 26. August 2014

We are all aware that our planet, and in some places her people, are in a delicate state. The reality is that we must act now to preserve our planet, her natural resources and protect the, usually unseen, people of tourist destinations around the world. The travel industry is committed to responsible tourism. This is the time that the travel industry, retailers and consumers, can make a difference. We know what is at stake if we do not succeed.

What is responsible tourism?  Responsible tourism is the idea that, by working together, we can all make minor changes to preserve our beaches, rivers and forests. Responsible tourism means will we preserve historic places like Machu Picchu, the Roman Colosseum and the Mayan ruins.  By taking action now, we will leave our children and grandchildren the same beautiful world that so many of us have had the privilege of exploring during our lifetime. 

Responsible tourism focuses on efficiency and using energy resources wisely. For example, the next time you stay in a hotel, turn off the lights and air conditioner before you leave the room. Even though you aren’t paying the electricity bill you are still using energy.  Or, instead of requesting fresh towels and linens each day, try to get more than one day’s use out of them.  Many hotels, resorts and even cruise ships now give you the option of refusing their daily linen-exchange service.  These changes, while small, will make a difference if we can get everyone to make them. Commercial Medical Escorrts encourages each of our escorts to participate in responsible tourism while they are on missions around the world.

Responsible tourism also means conserving the world’s beautiful vacation destinations and protecting the local people, wherever they might be.  Many tourists have unfortunately adopted the attitude that their actions won’t impact the areas they visit.  After all, it’s only a week right?  Wrong!  Tourists need to know that while they may only be there for one week, thousands of people visit that destination each year.  What happens if we all adopt the same lackadaisical attitude?  We all must do our part. 

You might be asking yourself, “Well, what can I do that would actually make a difference?”  Start small but think big. Pick up your trash before you leave the beach at the end of the day, be mindful of what you drop or pour into the lake and exercise extreme care when hiking through a national park.  Tourists must not forget that even though they are on vacation, their vacation destination is someone’s home town, village or country and should be treated with the utmost respect.

Another facet of responsible tourism is a relatively new concept, volunteer vacations. A volunteer vacation is a vacation that focuses more on others rather than self.  Many people now take these kinds of trips to learn about new cultures, visit beautiful destinations and to give back to the local people of those destinations.

Volunteer vacations are also important because they put money back into that particular destination’s economy. On a typical vacation you may not always have the chance to interact with the people who call that destination home. By traveling to these areas to volunteer your time, you are not only helping the individuals but also their village, town or country as a whole. You will learn about their culture and heritage and possibly make a few friends along the way. Volunteer vacations bridge the gap between cultures, forming a web of friendship and hospitality around the world. Visit TravelSense.org today to learn more about volunteer vacations!

One of the areas in travel most blamed for crippling our environment is the physical travel part of vacations. Planes, trains and other gas-powered means of travel all receive their fare share of finger-pointing. So, unless you can ride your bike to your vacation destination there’s nothing different you could do right?  Think again!  Many destinations around the world now offer tourists new options when it comes to getting around.  Consider renting a smaller vehicle, perhaps one that runs on an alternative fuel or gets better-than-average gas mileage.  Buses may seem like gas-guzzlers but if everyone decided to take a tour bus while on vacation it would actually be better for the environment than if each individual rented their own car.

Don’t forget that some of the world’s most spectacular sights are not accessible by motorized vehicle. Take advantage of your vacation time to do something good for the planet and for you – hike to the top of a mountain to watch a sunset, take a snorkeling trip to view spectacular coral or just take a peaceful canoe ride down the river. All of these excursions are powered by human energy. Human energy is the safest form of energy always renewable.

Regardless of the type of vacation you chose or where you decide to go, please remember this: We are all connected to each other.  Our world, while grand in size, is not as big as it once was where traveling is concerned.  We can explore or visit almost any destination we choose. If we make a commitment to be responsible tourists we will see a healthier, more beautiful world regardless or where our travels might take us.

Hottest Domestic and International 2014 Summer Destinations

by Lux Joseph 9. August 2014

The summer is coming to an end, but there is still time to enjoy some of the hottest travel destinations of 2014. Orlando and Las Vegas are the top two most popular summer destinations according to the 2014 Hot Spots for Summer survey. Orlando came out on top with a 17 percent share of responses and Las Vegas maintained the second spot with 14 percent.

“Orlando and Las Vegas remain on top as affordable, family-friendly and fun destinations," said Zane Kerby, ASTA President and CEO. "They are also the type of destinations where a travel agent can enhance your trip from helping navigate Orlando’s theme parks, to making sure you pick the right Vegas hotel that matches your unique needs."

Following Orlando and Las Vegas, the other top ten domestic cities are Miami (4 percent), San Francisco (4 percent), Los Angeles (3 percent), New York City (2 percent), San Diego (2 percent), Honolulu (2 percent), Washington DC (2 percent) and New Orleans (2 percent).  New Orleans is new to the list, moving Seattle out of the top ten.

While remaining at the top, Orlando and Las Vegas have been slowly decreasing in response share for several years, as have most of the other top ten destinations. Ten years ago the top ten destinations represented 75% of the responses, and today it represents 51 percent. This year, over 100 different domestic destinations received at least one vote as a hot summer destination, reflecting the consumer trend for more unique vacation experiences.

When asked about 2014 state destinations, Florida again topped the list for the 2014 summer season with a 23 percent response rate. Rounding out the top five state destinations for summer travel are Nevada (13 percent), California (12 percent), New York (11 percent) and Hawaii (11 percent). As with the cities, the percentage share of responses is down for the top states, except for Hawaii which had modest growth in response share.

Do you have more than a few days free this summer? Are you looking to travel abroad? London and Rome as the two most popular summer destinations according to the annual Hot Spots for Summer survey. London received a 9 percent share of votes followed by Rome with an 8 percent share.

 Over 150 cities made the hot list, with the top ten cities accounting for 37 percent of the responses. Beyond the typical tourist cities, travel agents say they are also planning many trips to many unique destinations like Yerevan, Armenia and Johannesburg, South Africa for this summer with both cited by agents as hot locations.

In addition to London and Rome, Paris (8 percent), Cancun (5 percent), Punta Cana (3 percent), Barcelona (1 percent), Riviera Maya (1 percent), Amsterdam (1 percent), Madrid (1 percent), and Montego Bay (1 percent) round out the top ten international cities. Amsterdam and Madrid are new to the top ten pushing out Venice and Athens.

For countries/regions, Italy remains at the top with an 18 percent share of the votes. Mexico (11 percent) moves up to second place after two years in third and fourth place. The other countries/regions in the top five include France (11percent), United Kingdom (11 percent) and the Caribbean (8 percent). The same five countries/regions have remained in the top five for over eight years and represent 61% of the votes.

Commercial Medical Escorts utilizes a travel agent to make all their travel arrangements. We believe this adds cost savings to our clients, the most up to date travel information, and an educated individual in the area of medical escorts. We encourage travelers who would like to experience these hot spots to find a helpful travel agent who specializes in the destinations that they dream of visiting.

Malaysia Airlines 17 Shot Down

by Lux Joseph 19. July 2014

Just two days ago, the political unrest between Russia and Ukraine made a significant impact on the travel industry and in particular, Malaysia Airlines. Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 was en route from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur Thursday when it was reportedly shot down over eastern Ukraine. This aircraft was carrying 298 individuals aboard when it crashed. This particular area in which the plane was shot down is currently occupied by separatists looking to repatriate with Russia. The rocket launcher has been suspected to be Russian property, but responsibility and reasons as to why it was shot still remain blurred. As the investigation continues it is possible that the missile could have been from Ukraine military, Russia military or Pro-Russian separatists in Ukraine. While rumors and thoughts fill social media, it is confirmed that this particular crash does not have any direct relation with Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 which disappeared earlier this year.

Many individuals have speculated and questioned whether the air space in which Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 flew over was safe and allowed due to the current turmoil between Russia and Ukraine. Approximately 18 hours ago Malaysia Airlines tweeted that MH17 flight route was declared safe and unrestricted by ICAO and IATA. Since April 3, 2014 U.S. airlines have been prohibited by the Federal Aviation Administration form flying over Crimea, the Black Sea, and the Sea of Azoz. All of these areas are within Ukraine. BBC reports, “U.S. carriers have also agreed to avoid flying through airspace near Russia’s border with Ukraine, the FAA said.” While the U.S. FAA may have travel restrictions or routings restricted for US Carriers, this does not apply to other carriers. In a media statement by Malaysia Airlines, the flight plan was approved by Eurocontrol. Eurocontrol is responsible for making decisions regarding the flight paths over European airspace. They are governed under ICAO rules and the service provider for Europe. MH 17 was not the only carrier with a flight that was on this route path at the same time it was shot down as well as days and weeks previous. Why was MH17 targeted? Was it by choice or just luck of the draw?

While Malaysia Airlines in their press release provided the breakdown of nationalities, four individuals still remain unidentified. At the time of the press release on Friday, July 18, 2014 no Americans were identified. At this time one American citizen has been identified of whom was raised in the Netherlands. This is a tragedy that affects people worldwide. For the Dutch community, the loss of life compared to population side is similar to the 911 incident. The airliner had 298 innocent individuals aboard and specifically about 100 scientific researchers of AIDS/HIV. This plane had some of the top HIV/AIDS researchers in the world that were en route to a conference in Melbourne Australia. Families lost their children, parents, loved ones, and friends from around the world. Only four months ago, Malaysia Airlines dealt with a tragic event in which they needed to contact next of kin for missing flight MH370 and now they face the same situation just from another perspective.

Malaysia Airlines is part of the One World Alliance and is an established airline in the industry that has received numerous awards and positive feedback. In 2013 alone, Malaysia Airlines received the following awards (http://www.malaysiaairlines.com/us/en/corporate-info/awards.html):

•    Asia’s Leading Airline from the World Travel Awards (WTA)
•    The World’s 5-Star Airline Award from Skytrax World Airline Awards
•    Best Airline Signature Dish from Skytrax World Airline Awards

While the signature dish does not apply to operations, the other two awards do. Unfortunately this airline is facing two high profile incidents in less than six months that resulted in the loss of lives of hundreds of innocent people. It is unpredictable as to how these events will affect the future of Malaysia Airlines.

A tragedy like this affects people and industries worldwide. Commercial Medical Escorts transports patients on a daily basis worldwide on commercial airlines. While many say that you are safer going on a plane then getting into your car when you go to work, there is no doubt in my mind that a disaster of this scale will impact the decisions of many in regards to flying especially in areas in/around Russia and Ukraine.

On behalf of the entire team at Commercial Medical Escorts, we would like to extend our sincerest sympathies and condolences to the families and friends of those involved in the MH17 crash. We know this this is a difficult time for all of those involved and our hearts go out to all of those affected around the world.


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