British tourists organize sit-in after locals ruin luxury beach hotel

ClubHotel-Riu-Mere_2612508bHolidaymakers said their £12,000 Thomson vacation to the Dominican Republic was destroyed by locals who touched base on a shoddy package deal and caused chaos at the Club hotel Riu Merengue.

Visitors said the pool must be shut after the “tanked and rowdy” Dominicans used it as a lavatory, and said they even urinated on sun-loungers while people were lying on them.

Tony Walton, a sales manager from Doncaster, was on vacation with his wife Cheryl, 46, a registrar, their girl and boy aged 20 and 15, and four members of their extended family on a two-week break from June 30 to celebrate family birthdays and anniversaries.

He told the Mailonline: “People were peeing on the sun-loungers with people on them. These people had no respect for anything. They peed up against my sun lounger while I was lying on it.

“They were washing themselves down completely in the shower by the pool. What’s more there was no sustenance – they took at all.”

At the time they whined to staff about the disruption of their vacation, they say they were advised to take journeys -which they might need to pay for – to get away from the hotel.

Furthermore when Mr. Walton wanted his family to be moved to a different hotel, he says he was at first rejected assistance then afterward told if he moved he would have to pay an extra £1,800.

By July 4, Mr. Walton was angry to the point that he organized the sit-in at the Thompson desk in reception.

He says more than 160 complaining visitors went along with him and stayed camped at the desk for a day and a half, throughout which time he claims he was threatened by the manager.

Mr. Walton said in the end up to 100 people, incorporating his group, was moved to another hotel close-by with fewer facilities, but says he was offered just £30 remuneration.

“It has demolished our occasion and my wife’s birthday.

“I paid a lot of money and I have wasted it. Thomson have been totally pointless and Riu (the hotel chain) much worse.”

A spokesman for Thomson told Mailonline: “Thomson is sad to catch that Mr. Walton was disappointed with his stay at the Riu Merengue in Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic.

“We are conscious that some clients expressed a disappointment with the levels of service throughout high occupancy and, as a gesture of goodwill, have moved them to a hotel nearby, and incorporating Mr. Walton’s party.

“Thomson takes client fulfillment quite important and is right now working with the hotelier to completely examine Mr. Walton’s grumbling.”

Dispersed Gorilla Groups Challenge Field Staff

April was a very busy month for the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund field staff. In addition to being the rainy season in Rwanda, which has not made the job of tracking any easier, we have both lost track of and found some important gorilla groups.

The newly formed Gushimira group had not been seen since March 24, and is not available for gorilla trekking, despite exhaustive efforts to locate them, and female Umusatsi, who had not been seen since she left Kuryama’s group March 17, was not located again until April 15 (still traveling alone). The anti-poaching team, as well as trackers from the Rwanda Development Board, have joined the groups’ regular trackers in the search efforts on several occasions.

UPDATE: Umusatsi finally joined Giraneza’s group on April 22. See our blog post for April 24, and expect more news about this adventurous female

While collaboration to find the dispersed gorillas is extremely important and useful, it is not without its drawbacks. According to Felix Ndagijimana, director of the Karisoke Research Center, when our anti-poaching teams have to support trackers in searches for missing gorilla groups, they cannot do their regular jobs of routine and shock patrols, which are also extremely important. “We do see a direct correlation in the field between the times when anti-poaching teams are not doing their patrols and spikes in the number of snares found later.”

Though the Gushimira group has caused us to use a lot of manpower in searching for them, Ndagijimana says that currently there is no other cause for concern for the groups’ wellbeing. “Before the Gushimira group formed, the individual silverback Gushimira had disappeared for quite a long time. We expect he has taken the females to another area he is familiar with and where he is more comfortable ranging. Of course, we will continue to look for them to confirm this.”

With our workforce already spread so thin due to the missing Gushimira group, it has been difficult to allocate trackers for Giraneza’s group, which recently returned to Rwanda and will soon be available for visitors on Rwanda gorilla safaris and tours. We stopped monitoring that group in Sept. 2012 when they crossed the border into the Democratic Republic of Congo. Our first encounter with them since their disappearance was on Jan. 29. We were happy to see Giraneza and the two females, Taraja and Nyandwi, all together, although Nyandwi seemed to have an injury on her left arm. Since that first sighting in January, we encountered them seven more times in February and March, during which time we were able to confirm that Nyandwi’s injury had healed. In a meeting with the group on March 22 when we found Giraneza interacting with Bwenge’s group, we happily discovered that Taraja had given birth. The infant was estimated to be a week old at the time and in very good health, which continues to be the case.

With the return of Giraneza’s group, we have reorganized our tracker teams yet again. The Gushimira team is now being used to monitor Giraneza’s group, except when they are searching for the Gushimira group, which is currently limited to two days a week.

Ndagijimana cited a recommendation of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature’s Best Practice Guidelines for Great Ape Tourism as one of the reasons why it was essential for us to resume monitoring the group: “Of course, our wish is to be able to monitor all the habituated groups, for scientific research purposes, but it is particularly important to carry out regular monitoring and protection of groups that have been habituated to humans, as their habituation leaves them more vulnerable to threats like poachers.” The need to monitor the group is even more important with the discovery of the new infant, as infants have low survival rates. Partial monitoring of the group resumed in March, with full-time monitoring having resumed in mid April.

Reconnecting with the Giraneza group has been very exciting, and we are looking forward to finding Gushimira’s group, as the monitoring of both groups has particular significance for the Fossey Fund. As Gorilla Program Manager Veronica Vecellio puts it, “In 45 years of gorilla monitoring we have had very few occurrences of a solitary male forming his own group. Gushimira’s and Giraneza’s groups are examples of this, so they give us an excellent opportunity to investigate and compare the development of newly established groups.”

These events in the field this past month — losing track of Gushimira’s group and finding Giraneza’s group — have caused us to consider the possibility of hiring more trackers and the potential need to adjust our methods of tracking when there are major changes such as group splits, missing groups and the return of old groups. In times of major shifts in the gorilla groups we monitor, we need to be able to accommodate all of the groups for both scientific purposes and as a responsibility deriving from our habituation of them. There is no easy answer, but we are working to find the best solution, for our organization, for our trackers and for our gorillas. Read more about Rwanda travel tips on the internet, more information is available.

Tourism industry offers the best jobs in west Australia

The Australian tourism industry is providing more jobs than any other sector. A recent study reveals that Tourism will overtake mining and construction as one of the biggest employers in West Australia (WA).

The annual “report card” compiled by Tourism Research Australia showed tourism jobs in WA grew 11.25 per cent to 89,000 in the past financial year, the biggest increase of any State.

Tourism accounts for 7 per cent of all jobs in the State, just behind mining with 8 per cent, construction 10 per cent and health care and social assistance, the top employer with 11 per cent.

Tourism Council chief executive Evan Hall said tourism would become more important to the WA economy as the resources boom slowed.

“The trend is for tourism jobs to grow as mining jobs decline,” he said. “With the lower Australian dollar, cheaper hotel rates and more flights to Perth, WA can win back the leisure tourists we lost over the last few years.”

Mr. Hall said in all other States tourism employed more people than mining.

“Tourism would create more jobs than mining in WA, too, if it got the same backing from government,” he said. “Over the next few years, tourism can replace the lost mining jobs, so long as WA doesn’t keep putting all its eggs in the resources basket.”

Owen Williams, director of Segway Tours WA, said it was time for WA’s tourism industry to blossom.

Mr. Williams, who expects to start Segway tours of Perth city next month, said there was big demand for innovative tourism businesses.

“With the devaluation of the Australian dollar, mining slowing and increased interest from the Chinese market, I think this demand for new tourism experiences will only go up,” he said.

Brussels Airlines introduces free digital newspapers for passengers

Brussels-AirlineIntroducing some compelling features, Brussels Airlines passengers who check in online receive a free digital copy of their newspaper thanks to a unique collaboration with publishers De Persgroep and Rossel. Passengers can choose from a wide selection of newspapers on the day of their flight on any route of the Brussels Airlines network.

E-newspapers have gained popularity over the last years, and news sites get more and more visits. Thanks to a collaboration between Brussels Airlines and the Belgian publishers De Persgroep and Rossel, Brussels Airlines’ 6 million passengers can now enjoy a free newspaper on their laptop, tablet or smart phone while they travel.

The growing number of passengers that check in online for a Brussels Airlines flight can now not only select their plane seat and save time at the airport, but they are also invited to select a newspaper, for which they will receive an access code.

Free for all passengers
This new service is free for b.light economy, b.flex economy+ and passengers on European flights, as well as for Economy- and Business Class passengers on intercontinental flights to the United States and Africa. Passengers can choose from a selection of popular Belgian and Dutch newspapers: Het Laatste Nieuws, De Morgen, De Tijd, Le Soir, l’Echo, La Meuse, La Capitale, Nord Eclair, La Province, De Volkskrant, AD, Het Parool and Trouw. The aim is to expand the offer with more foreign newspapers as well as magazines soon. Negotiations are ongoing.

“This is a good example of how Brussels Airlines responds to the rapidly changing consumer needs”, says Anne Tricot, VP Customer Experience at Brussels Airlines. “A lot of passengers consult news sources on their computer or tablet. With the e-paper service we are the first airline to respond to this digitization trend. We expect that the service will be a success and that it will motivate more people to check in online for their flight.”

At this stage, the free e-paper service does not entail that Brussels Airlines will not distribute newspapers to or b.flex economy+ passengers anymore, although it is expected that the number of paper newspapers on board the nearly 300 daily Brussels Airlines flights, will drop significantly. That’s a good thing for the environment thanks to both the paper saving and the weight reduction of the planes.

Continued Growth Sees Excellent Five Months for Tourism

tourism new zealand(1)Tourism New Zealand says another trend in guest arrivals is currently obvious, with total yearly international arrival figures released today in development for the first time since the Rugby World Cup 2011.

International guest entries are up 0.5% year-on-year and 8.7% for the month – making it the most highest ever come about for a May month. The increment in arrivals translates to an additional 224,480 stay days for the month.

Justin Watson, Tourism New Zealand’s acting Chief Executive says; “When we take a gander at the first five months of 2013 we see a significant upwards shift in arrivals – with total landings up 5.8% against the same period a year ago and holiday entries up 9.4%.”

The solid landings seen throughout summer and autumn continue to be administered with all the tourism sector’s center markets in development. For the month of May Australia, the source of 45% of New Zealand’s entries, is up by an exceptionally solid 12.3%. Tourism New Zealand’s other top five markets are additionally all in development: China (30.2%), Japan (8.6%), UK (0.3%), Germany (7.1%) and the USA (6.0%).

Justin notes that the outcomes are especially supporting for the long-haul western markets, which have been struggling for quite a while, and helps the positive effect seen from the investment in marketing New Zealand’s association with the Hobbit trilogy.

“A month ago International Visitor review indicated that 8.5% of all international guests surveyed between January and March said The Hobbit was a factor in animating their interest in New Zealand as a destination.

“With proceeded development through May from nexus target markets for the campaign, for example the USA, it is clear the 100% Middle-earth, 100% Pure New Zealand campaign is attaining its objectives – giving the extra reason and motivation to change interest in a vacation to New Zealand into a true booking.”

Furthermore the picture looks positive as the sector heads into the winter time of year.

“With the record snow levels seen a week ago over the nation it would appear that we are well placed for a sterling winter season for ski resorts and the wider industry.”

From 1 July, Tourism New Zealand will be executing its new Three Year Marketing Strategy, with increased subsidizes being committed over four key areas of its business: International business occasions, developing markets, high-value premium voyage and the up-scaling of particular action in core markets.