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

New scenic byway proposed for Southern Colorado

New route would trace historic Denver and Rio Grande Railroad

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The northwestern section of the proposed Denver and Rio Grande Railroad scenic byway designation, ending at Durango, in the top left corner.

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — Combine 2,000-year-old Native American culture with early Spanish explorers, trappers and mountain men, then add in a dash of railroad lore and a sprinkle of mining legends and you have a perfect recipe for a classic American history tale.

One of those stories played out in southern Colorado and northern New Mexico, where the Rockies meet the high desert, and where a long-running advocacy effort may pay off with a scenic byway designation for the historic route of the Denver and Rio Grande Railroad. The goal of the designation is to preserve and promote some of the last surviving remnants of the historic narrow gauge route that was integral to development of the region’s mining, logging and ranching industries. Continue reading

Travel: UNESCO names new World Heritage sites

Fiji and Qatar get first-ever designation; Mt. Fuji, Mt. Etna also added

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Fujisan is one of the newest World Heritage sites. Photo courtesy UNESCO and Policy Planning Office, Minobu Town.

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — The fact that the world’s cultural and natural heritage transcends national boundaries is perhaps best reflected each year when UNESCO designates new World Heritage sites, and this year was no exception.

At its recent meeting in Cambodia, UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee added volcanoes in Asia and Europe, historic forts in Ukraine and Qatar and a Basque whaling station in Canada.

There was one new area added in North America — El Pinacate and Gran Desierto de Altar Biosphere Reserve in Mexico, with its distinctive dormant volcanic Pinacate Shield of black and red lava flows and desert pavements to the east, and, in the west, the Gran Altar Desert with its ever changing and varied sand dunes that can reach a height of 200 meters. Continue reading

Airline industry takes step toward carbon-neutral future

Industry trade group touts global market-based carbon cap

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The airline industry is seeking a path toward carbon-neutral growth. Bob Berwyn photo.

By Bob Berwyn
FRISCO — The commercial aviation industry is moving closer to adopting a carbon-neutral growth strategy, as the International Air Transport Association last week endorsed the idea of a a single global cap on emissions of international flights to take effect in 2020.

“Airlines are committed to working with governments to build a solid platform for the future sustainable development of aviation,” IATA’s director general and CEO Tony Tyler said after the trade group endorsed a resolution that could lead toward establishment of a market-based mechanism to achieve carbon-neutral growth starting in 2020. Continue reading

Environment: Study shows beach cleanups pay off

Southern California beaches with pollution controls see increased visits, with benefits to local economy

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You gotta love a clean beach! This is near Port. St. Joe, Florida.

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — Just in time for the summer season, with millions of people streaming to beaches around the world, a new study shows that cleaning up pollution can pay off in a big way for seaside communities.

The research zeroed in on Southern California, showing that beaches with storm drain diversion systems attract millions more people annually, leading the researchers to the conclusion that improving the environmental quality of coastal areas through policy intervention had an effect on the way people use coastal areas.

The results of the study, published in the journal Marine Pollution Bulletin, showed a direct correlation between increased attendance and the installation of storm drain diversions at 26 beaches in Santa Monica Bay and Malibu. Continue reading

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