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Antarctica’s ice-free fringe needs more protection

Invasive species a huge threat to sparse ecosystems, scientists report

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Tourists on Dundee Island hike past birds and pinnipeds. bberwyn photo

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Tourists hiking on Deception Island. bberwyn photo

Staff Report

FRISCO — The tiny ice-free fringes of Antarctica are especially prone to ecosystem disruption, including invasive species, an Australian science team warned earlier this year after taking a close look at how human use is concentrated in those slivers of dry land.

Antarctica has over 40,000 visitors a year, and more and more research facilities are being built in the continent’s tiny ice-free area. Most of the Antarctic wildlife and plants live in the ice-free areas – and this is also where people most visit.

Most tour operators in Antarctica follow strict guidelines set to protect ecosystems, including at least basic decontamination procedures, but those measures might not be enough, especially as global warming makes ice-free zones more susceptible to invasive species. Continue reading

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Travel: Government shutdown blamed for big drop in national park visits

Government dysfunction hurts gateway towns near parks

The Grand Canyon, bberwyn photo.

The Grand Canyon, bberwyn photo.

Staff Report

FRISCO — Visits to National Parks in the U.S. fell slightly in 2013, mainly due to the government shutdown in October, when the National Park Service turned away millions of visitors.

In total, 273.6 million total visits were recorded during the year at the 401 parks, down 9.1 million visits from 2012. The shutdown also resulted in an estimated loss of $414 million in visitor spending in gateway and local communities across the country when comparing October 2013 to a three-year average (October 2010-12). Continue reading

San Antonio missions may get World Heritage status

‘The San Antonio Missions represents a vital part of our nation’s Latino heritage …’

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The Alamo.

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — It’s been nearly 20 years since a new World Heritage site has been designated in the U.S. but that could soon change. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell last week said the San Antonio Missions, including the Alamo, will be nominated for the international list, which recognizes the most significant cultural and natural sites on the planet.

The most recent U.S. addition to the World Heritage register was the Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park (administered jointly with Canada) in 1995.

“World Heritage Sites represent an incredible opportunity for the United States to tell the world the whole story of America and the remarkable diversity of our people and beauty of our land,” Jewell said. “The San Antonio Missions represents a vital part of our nation’s Latino heritage and the contributions of Latinos to the building of our country.” Continue reading

Global tourism grows 5% over last year through August

Emerging economies lead the way

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Europe reported strong tourism growth during the first eight months of 2013.

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — Global tourism continued to grow steadily during the first eight months of 2013, according to the World Tourism Organization, which tallied an increase of 5 percent from January to August 2013 compared to the same period last year.

The best-performing regions were Europe, Asia and the Pacific and the Middle East. For the year to-date, tourist arrivals totaled 747 million worldwide, up 38 million from last year, when global tourist arrivals topped 1 billion for the first time ever.

International arrivals topped 125 million in both July and August, while in June the 100 million arrivals mark was exceeded for the first time. Continue reading

Morning photo: Oh, Reykjavik!

Far north …

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Looking over the roofs of Reykjavik from the cathedral in the city center on a blustery September day.

By Bob Berwyn

FRISCO —We really didn’t know what to expect, exactly, from Reykjavik. With its close links to Scandinavia and North America, Iceland may not be the most exotic of countries, but it’s remote North Atlantic location on an ice-capped volcanic island made us wonder what we’d find during a recent week-long visit to the northernmost capital in the world. Continue reading

Morning photo: Road trip

“Hope the wind don’t blow me off the road tonight …”        ~Little Feat

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Dogs love road trips, too!

FRISCO — Ahhh, summer road trips. You don’t have to go far, you know. How about trying a new road in your own region, taking a left at that intersection where you always go right, and then see where it takes you. Adventures await beyond the horizon. These images are culled from a 2011 15-state, 5,000 mile marathon through the heartland, along the Mississippi all the way to southwest Florida — and back again through West Texas. Continue reading

Global tourism shines again in early 2013

BMX biking Breckenridge Colorado

A crowd of tourists watches a BMX bike demo in Breckenridge. Colorado. Bob Berwyn photo.

World travel up more than 4 percent through April

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — Global tourism continues to grow at a rate outpacing nearly all other economic sectors. During the first four months of 2013, international tourist arrivals and departures increased by 4.3 percent over the same period in 2012, according to a mid season update from the UN’s World Tourism Organization.

The WTO tallied  298 million international tourists traveling worldwide between January and April, 12 million more than last year. Prospects for the current tourism peak season remain positive with some 435 million tourists expected to travel abroad in the May-August period. Continue reading

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