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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

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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

Global tourism revenues set record in 2012

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Tourists from Asia exploring Hallstatt, Austria.

Travel and tourism a key driver in world economy

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — The global tourism economy hummed along at a record pace in 2012, growing by 4 percent and generating a total of $1.3 trillion when international passenger transit revenues are included in the equation.

“It is encouraging to see that the growth in international tourist arrivals was equalled by a comparable increase in spending in spite of continued economic challenges,” said United Nations World Tourism Organization secretary-general Taleb Rifai. “Considering that tourism is a key export for many economies around the world, this result is good news as it provides foreign reserves to destinations, and contributes to job creation in tourism as well as in related economic sectors,” he added.

By regions, the Americas recorded the largest increase in receipts, plus 7 percent, followed by Asia and the Pacific ( plus 6 percent), Africa ( plus 5 percent) and Europe (plus 2 percent). Receipts in the Middle East were down about 2 percent but improving compared to the double-digit decline recorded in 2011. Continue reading

Travel: Popular Grand Canyon trailhead gets a makeover

National Park Service touts expanded parking, better visitor service

The Bright Angel trailhead at the Grand Canyon has had a big makeover, with more parking and an expanded view area

The Bright Angel trailhead at the Grand Canyon has had a big makeover, with more parking and an expanded seating area.

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — One of the most storied trails in the country has seen a partial makeover, and the National Park Service will celebrate the new look of Grand Canyon National Park’s Bright Angel Trail with a May 18 ribbon-cutting ceremony.

The renovation encompasses a 3.5 acre area at and surrounding the Bright Angel Trailhead. The work focused on creating an accessible and comfortable area for visitors that complements existing historic buildings including the Bright Angel Lodge and Rim Cabins designed by Grand Canyon architect Mary E. J. Colter.

With little work on the trailhead in the past 100 years, the National Park Service said visitors were having a hard time finding the trailhead, and there was no convenient or comfortable place for people to sit to either enjoy the view or prepare for hikes.  The renovation will greatly improve conditions at and around the trailhead, providing a much better experience for park visitors. Continue reading

Travel: U.S. Senate acts to avert more airport delays

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The U.S. Senate wants to keep air traffic moving.

Budget shuffle could enable FAA to avoid furloughs

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — With the busy summer travel season already winding up, the U.S. Senate acted to try and prevent more delays at U.S. Airports. The bipartisan deal to give the FAA more budget flexibility was led by Senators Mark Udall (D-Colo.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine).

The Reducing Flight Delays Act gives the U.S. Secretary of Transportation the flexibility to transfer discretionary funds into the FAA’s operations budget to prevent essential employees, such as air traffic controllers, from being furloughed.  Continue reading

Travel: National Parks visitation surges in 2012

Rocky Mountain National Park is fifth-most visited

Great Sand Dunes National Park may not be one of the most-visited, but it's definitely one of the most intriguing. Bob Berwyn photo.

Great Sand Dunes National Park may not be one of the most-visited, but it’s definitely one of the most intriguing. Bob Berwyn photo.

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — Even though Hurricane Sandy forced the closure of some popular national parks in the Northeast late in the year, overall visitation to national parks surged to 282 million in 2012. National Park Service officials said it was the sixth-highest total ever, even though the agency estimated 2 million fewer visitors as a result of park closures caused by Hurricane Sandy. Continue reading

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