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Archive by Category "Coffee Conversation"

Hotels Are Confused by Rise of Legal Marijuana: Opportunity or Liability?

By Nancy Trejos, Skift – Jan 28, 2020 2:30 am

The legalization of marijuana in many states is becoming an increasingly perplexing challenge for one key part of the travel industry: hotels.

They’re confronted with figuring out how to let guests partake in it on-property, training and drug testing employees, and dealing with confusing and ever-changing laws. In short, hotels have much to figure out.

“This is an emerging trend that’s not going away,” said Michael Blank, principal of Woodmont Lodging. “In many ways, it’s akin to the casinos when they were trying to make their push nationally.”

Marijuana is now legal for medical use in 33 states. It is legal in 11 states for both medical and recreational use for adults over 21. Illinois became the 11th state to legalize recreational marijuana as of Jan. 1.

Yet under federal law, it’s still a drug listed on Schedule 1 of the Controlled Substances Act, which makes it a federal crime to own, sell, or possess it. Other drugs listed on Schedule 1 include heroin, LSD, peyote, and ecstasy.

Under President Barack Obama’s administration, then-Deputy Attorney General Jim Cole issued a directive to federal prosecutors in 2013 that effectively told them not to interfere with marijuana-friendly state laws. Former Attorney General Jeff Sessions under President Donald Trump attempted to reverse that decision before his ouster in November 2018.



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The Dawn of Pilotless Planes

The concept of pilotless commercial jet flight has been bandied about for years.
But while the technology has been there, there’s been little concrete evidence to suggest autonomous flying could ever really get off the ground — until now.
Airbus has confirmed one of its test aircraft took off automatically at Toulouse-Blagnac airport in France last December.
The European aerospace company conducted a series of successful tests on autopilot last month, with two pilots on standby.
According to Airbus, the A350-1000 achieved eight automatic takeoffs over a period of four and a half hours.
“While completing alignment on the runway, waiting for clearance from air traffic control, we engaged the autopilot,” Airbus test pilot Captain Yann Beaufils explained in a statement.
“We moved the throttle levers to the takeoff setting and we monitored the aircraft. It started to move and accelerate automatically maintaining the runway center line, at the exact rotation speed as entered in the system.”
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The most ambitious infrastructure plan in world history – China will change tourism for ever

I personally believe that it is a very interesting Article that goes deeper than Tourism. Please read & be in the know.

China’s tourism route to massive global economic power and political influence. Great New Silk Roads trillions already committed
Just imagine that you’ve woken up on the first of October 2049 – the hundredth anniversary of the People’s Republic of China. How do you see the world?
Well, for a start, the world of tourism has dramatically changed. China has seen to that. By now the massive economic area free trade zone envisaged by the ‘Belt and Road’ scheme – has come into full operation as forecast. Extending all the way from inner China to the heart of Europe, Chinese high speed trains are bringing avid travellers to stay in Chinese branded hotels, to buy Chinese manufactured goods and souvenirs and to eat Chinese foods.
Today in 2020 China is number 1 in outbound tourism with around 200million international travellers a year. By 2049 at the present rate of growth the figure is likely to be more like 600 million even maybe a billion. All of these travellers will have billions to spend and you can be sure that China’s centrally-managed tourism will make sure that it is spent where China wants it to be spent.
The Chinese government calls the massive Belt and Road initiative “a bid to enhance regional connectivity and embrace a brighter future”. Cultural and economic initiatives are merged in tourism and the Silk Road tourism initiatives will certainly be geared to Chinese tastes. There have already been plans for major Las Vegas style casino cities and winter sports centres in and around Kazakhstan and there will certainly be more.

A new Chinese duty free zone in Kazakhstan
All along the central Silk Road, through China, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan all the way to Hungary and Europe, to the US via the North Silk Road and Africa via the south will be interconnected in economically-protected tax haven free trade zones. This is also likely to bring to the fore historic Silk Road Cities (of which there are hundreds) such as Samarkand, Kabul, Shiraz, Almaty, and many more. Add to these the destinations in South East Asia and this equals massive economic power.


The initiative calls for the integration of the region into a cohesive economic area through building infrastructure, increasing cultural exchanges, and broadening trade. Apart from this zone, another area that is said to be included in the extension of this ‘belt’ is South Asia and Southeast Asia. Many of the countries that are part of this belt are also members of the China-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB). North, central and south belts are proposed. The North belt would go through Central Asia, Russia to Europe. The Central belt goes through Central Asia, West Asia to the Persian Gulf and the Mediterranean. The South belt starts from China to Southeast Asia, South Asia, to the Indian Ocean through Pakistan. The Chinese One Belt strategy will integrate with Central Asia through Kazakhstan’s Nurly Zhol infrastructure program.

The Silk Road Land Corridors:

Chinese high speed trains await

The New Eurasian Land Bridge runs from Western China to Western Russia through Kazakhstan, and includes the Silk Road Railway through China’s Xinjiang Autonomous Region, Kazakhstan, Russia, Belarus, Poland and Germany.
The China-Mongolia-Russia Corridor will run from Northern China to the Russian Far East. The Russian government established the Russian Direct Investment Fund and China Investment Corporation, a Chinese government investment agency, partnered in 2012 to create the Sino-Russian Investment Fund, which concentrates on opportunities in bilateral integration.
The China-Central Asia-West Asia Corridor will run from Western China to Turkey.
The China-Indochina Peninsula Corridor will run from Southern China to Singapore.
The Bangladesh-China-India-Myanmar (BCIM) Economic Corridor, runs from southern China to Myanmar and is officially classified as “closely related to the Belt and Road Initiative”.
The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (also known by the acronym CPEC), also classified as “closely related to the Belt and Road Initiative is a US$62 billion collection of infrastructure projects throughout Pakistan that aims to rapidly modernize Pakistan’s transportation networks, energy infrastructure, and economy. On November 13, 2016, CPEC became partly operational when Chinese cargo was transported overland to Gwadar Port for onward maritime shipment to Africa and West Asia.

Maritime Silk Road
The Maritime Silk Road, also known as the “21st Century Maritime Silk Road” is a complementary initiative aimed at investing and fostering collaboration in Southeast Asia, Oceania, and North Africa, through several contiguous bodies of water:  South China Sea, the South Pacific Ocean, and the wider Indian Ocean area.
Like its sister initiative the Silk Road Economic Belt, most countries in this area have joined the China-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank.

Ice Silk Road
In addition to the Maritime Silk Road, Xi Jinping also urged the close cooperation between Russia and China to carry out the Northern Sea Route cooperation to realize an “Ice Silk Road” to foster development in the Arctic region. China COSCO Shipping Corp. has completed several trial trips on Arctic shipping routes, the Transport departments from both countries are constantly improving policies and laws related to development in the Arctic, and Chinese and Russian companies are seeking cooperation on oil and gas exploration in the area and to advance comprehensive collaboration on infrastructure construction, tourism and scientific expeditions.

East Africa
In May 2014, Premier Li Keqiang visited Kenya to sign a cooperation agreement with the Kenyan government. Under this agreement, the Mombasa-Nairobi Standard Gauge Railway was constructed connecting Mombasa to Nairobi. After completion, the railroad stretches approximately 300 miles (480 km) costing around $250 million USD.
In September 2015, China’s Sinomach signed a strategic, cooperative memorandum of understanding with General Electric. The memorandum of understanding set goals to build wind turbines, to promote clean energy programs and to increase the number of energy consumers in sub-Saharan Africa.

Hong Kong
During his 2016 policy address, Hong Kong chief executive CY Leung’s announced his intention of setting up a Maritime Authority aimed at strengthening Hong Kong’s maritime logistics in line with Beijing’s economic policy. Leung mentioned “One Belt, One Road” no fewer than 48 times during the policy address, but details were scant.
These are just a few of the hundreds of mega-million dollar initiatives. There will certainly be more.
China is already no1 world tourism source market, it is unlikely that this position will change for the foreseeable future particularly given the fact that it is forecast that up to 3billion Asian residents will become middle class by 2050.

The city of OZ was scheduled to have no less than 48 casinos in Kazakhstan

Already the power of Chinese tourism is having a major effect on the Silk Road countries, for instance around Lake Baikal in Siberia there is local agitation as Chinese people buy property; near Almaty in Kazakhstan a major tourism development is taking place to attract Chinese to gamble and relax, also in Kazakhstan a mass tourism ski development is taking place to attract Chinese skiers.
It is a short step to Chinese branded hotels, restaurants, shops and other Chinese-run businesses all along the Silk Road even to Germany and Italy. It is an even shorter step to China centrally-organised tourism taking place from China to the Mediterranean.
Furthermore, China will own land, railways, ports and duty free shopping centres all along their road. The fact is that they already do.
The benefit to China? Wielding economic and political power through outbound tourism.

Bournemouth University’s tourism school has been seeking to gather a wide range of knowledge and study. They say “While there has been considerable scholarly work on soft power and the Belt and Road initiative (BRI), the political and economic investment in Chinese outbound tourism deserves greater attention. Whereas the number of trips abroad taken by Chinese citizens was in the tens of thousands in the 1980s, the current figure is well over 130m per year. While it may remain a marginal phenomenon in demographic or trade terms, tourism is a crucial issue in contemporary China, a major object of governmentality and a means to push soft power initiatives to receptive countries. As China exercises soft power using outbound tourism (and arts and culture more broadly), the growth of Chinese tourism has on the surface benefited the economies of Southeast Asian countries, who were traditionally reliant on long-haul, seasonal travellers from the west.”

“Tourism has been used by the Chinese authorities to enforce the construction of borders and boundaries in the South China Sea, leading to rising tensions. Just as many countries have eased their visa requirements for Chinese tourists, China has increasingly sought to police ‘low-end’ tourists who might undermine the Chinese authorities as they attempt to boost their influence on the international stage. The authorities have sought to attract members of the overseas Chinese community to Chinese through Root-Seeking Tour Summer Camps, organized by the Overseas Chinese Affairs Office of the State Council, so as to teach the Chinese language and culture.”
“Questions have emerged about the linkages between tourism and politics, tourism and human rights, tourism and international migration patterns, and the impact of returning Chinese tourists on Chinese society.”
“These questions place the landscapes of Chinese tourists into a broader context. Chinese media increasingly highlight the growth of outbound tourism to particular counties, potential revenue and links to the Belt and Road Initiative.”

“While pitched as tourism projects, China has been accused of hiding its search for political, economic and military influence through tourism. As tourism projects embed infrastructure that supports the development of trade routes (global network of rail, roads, ports, pipelines, fibre-optic cables), does Chinese investment bring wealth, or will it be mainly kept within a closed loop of overseas Chinese communities and state linked businesses?”
“In Forest City, Johor Bahru (Malaysia), Chinese tourists are encouraged to buy Chinese-built apartments in a US$100 billion development mean to boast international schools, shopping malls, hotels and an immigration centre for approximately 700,000 Chinese residents.”
“The construction of the $1.4bn (£1.1bn) Port City project in Sri Lanka by the state-owned Chinese engineering firm China Communications Construction Company (CCCC) on 665 acres (2.6 sq km) of land is been marketed as a new Dubai, with luxury hotels, shopping malls and a marina.”

While China pledges that the New Silk Road will be open, transparent and environmentally friendly, many of these projects appear to lack transparency and accountability. There are concerns that the standard 99-year leases for these projects will lead to social, economic and environmental challenges, such as opaque funding, exorbitant claims of their tourism potential, corruption, and population displacement. Questions are emerging as the differences between these projects and the past/current ones dominated by the West.”
“While the New Silk Road spans 65 different countries, Chinese tourism, more broadly, holds the potential to redefine tourism, infrastructure, economies and even the governance of many more countries, as Beijing establishes its own norms, rules and institutions.

A full report on the New Silk Road, it’s challenges and opportunities will be in Sustainable Tourism 2020.
Independent, Incisive, Iconoclastic, the annual Sustainable Tourism Report has been published since 2003.


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PARIS, Shopping Addresses & Quotes

Fancy shopping? There is more to the Capital of Luxury. Outlets, small shops and flea markets also coexist in the city of lights.
Coco Chanel’s Famous Quotes:

  • Elegance is when the inside is as beautiful as the outside.
  • Simplicity is the key note of all True Elegance.
  • You can be gorgeous at thirty, charming at forty, and irresistible for the rest of your life.
  • Adornment, what a science! Beauty, what a weapon! Modesty, what elegance!They Say:
    “I could give up shopping but I am not a quitter.”
    “Honestly, shopping beats therapy anytime. It costs the same and you get a dress out of it.”
    “I’m not a shopaholic, I’m helping the economy.”
    “Shortest horror story ever: Sold Out.”
    “Cinderella is proof that a new pair of shoes can change your life.”
    …and they are Right!

Top Range

  • Les Galeries LaFayette
  • Le Printemps Haussmann
  • Le Bon Marche
  • Beaugrenelle
  • Le Carrousel du Louvre


Middle Range

  • Forum des Halles
  • Italie Deux
  • Les 4 Temps & Le CNIT
  • So Ouest
  • Aeroville

Outlets near Paris

  • La Vallee Village
  • Usine center (Paris Nord II) (Avenue de la Plaine de France, 95500 Gonesse)
  • One Nation Paris (1 rue du Président Kennedy, 78340 Les Clayes Sous Bois)

Best addresses to shop in Paris:

  • Avenue des Champs Elysees
  • Rue de Passy
  • Rue St Honore
  • Rue de Rennes
  • Rue de Rivoli – Le Marais
  • Boulevard Haussmann
  • Boulevards Saint Michel & Saint Germain
  • Avenue Montaigne
  • Avenue des Ternes
  • Quartier Beaubourg et les Halles

Shopping Tips
For bargain shoppers, you should know that Paris has two sales periods:

  • Summer sales begin June 25th and ends July 29th.
  • Winter sales start around 8 January each year. For a period of six weeks, all the shops in Paris offer many discounts to liquidate their stocks of the past season. (Discounts can sometimes reach – 70%).
  • The main stores in Paris usually open from 10:00 till 19:00. They close on Sundays, except for the shops in Carrousel du Louvre, Avenue Champs-Elysées, Marais district or Sevres-Babylone.


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How Airlines & Airports use our Data (from Security to Flight itself)

Since opening in October 2017, Singapore Changi International Airport’s Terminal 4 has stood apart from the rest of the award-winning airport’s terminals—not only because of its food emporium, Peranakan-inspired shophouse facades, and boulevard of 160 fig trees, but also because of its “self-service system,” where passengers can move through the check-in, bag drop, immigration, and boarding processes typically without interacting with a single human. At unmanned luggage booths, your photo is taken and digitally matched against your passport before you can drop your bag off. Your photo is snapped again at immigration, and with a match, the automatic security doors swing open and you’re free to go, all within seconds.

It’s an odd sensation, to walk through an airport with automated security systems, and have the creeping feeling that shouldn’t someone, somewhere be looking at your ID? But of course, that’s the point. Someone has been replaced by the system, and that system is capable of matching billions of faces within seconds. Changi may even use the system to locate late passengers, or identify those who are needed at boarding, but still lingering at duty-free.

Biometrics here, there, and everywhere

What’s happening in Singapore might sound futuristic, but airports in the U.S. aren’t far behind. By 2021, facial-recognition technology will be in use at the 20 busiest U.S. airports for “100 percent of all international passengers” entering and exiting the country, including U.S. citizens, thanks to an executive order signed in March 2017 by President Donald Trump. Currently, around 15 U.S. airports, including Atlanta, Chicago, and Seattle, are trialling U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP)’s biometric facial recognition program at boarding gates. Before boarding, passengers pause to get their photo snapped; that photo is instantaneously sent to the cloud-based, automated matching Traveler Verification Service and compared against the passport photo on record. (The CBP has claimed a 98 percent accuracy rate in its pilot program.) The agency retains photos of U.S. citizens for “up to 12 hours after capture” and images of non-U.S. citizens for up to 14 days for “evaluation of the technology,” according to a report from BuzzFeed. Proponents of the programs say the immediate purpose is twofold: to speed up boarding and customs processes and to advance the safety and security of air travel.

For more details, please click on the Link:

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You could be fined 450$ for sitting on the Spanish Steps

Did you Know?

Officials in Italy are sick of slow-moving tourists looking for a place to sit on public monuments.

This week, Rome announced that visitors can now be fined €400 ($450) for sitting on the city’s historic Spanish Steps, which for decades have served as a crowded picnic, drinking, and resting spot for hordes of travelers looking for a free place to lounge after sightseeing. Officials also approved an even greater fine of $500 for anyone who attempts to swim in the Trevi Fountain.

How will Rome enforce the new no-sit rule amid the throngs of tourists at the Spanish Steps? According to reports from the area this week, police will sharply blow whistles two times in the direction of anyone who attempts to sit down and shoo them away. As one city official told the New York Times: “You couldn’t walk around the Metropolitan Museum snacking on food and slurping a Coke,” he said. “We expect the same for the center of Rome.”

Officials in Italy are sick of slow-moving tourists looking for a place to sit on public monuments.

This week, Rome announced that visitors can now be fined €400 ($450) for sitting on the city’s historic Spanish Steps, which for decades have served as a crowded picnic, drinking, and resting spot for hordes of travelers looking for a free place to lounge after sightseeing. Officials also approved an even greater fine of $500 for anyone who attempts to swim in the Trevi Fountain.

How will Rome enforce the new no-sit rule amid the throngs of tourists at the Spanish Steps? According to reports from the area this week, police will sharply blow whistles two times in the direction of anyone who attempts to sit down and shoo them away. As one city official told the New York Times: “You couldn’t walk around the Metropolitan Museum snacking on food and slurping a Coke,” he said. “We expect the same for the center of Rome.”

Rome’s announcement follows last month’s news that officials in Venice had expelled two tourists from the city (and fined them more than $1,000) for brewing coffee near the Rialto Bridge. Even with Rome’s new policies, the capital has a long way to go to match Venice’s strictures. Currently, visitors to the floating city face fines for everything from standing still on bridges to buying from street traders, and dipping their toes in the canal. And it’s not just Italy’s cities that are cracking down. German supermodel Heidi Klum is currently facing a fine of more than $6,000 for swimming in Capri’s famous Blue Grotto underwater cave on her honeymoon this summer.

Ever since they served as the backdrop for Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck’s whirlwind romance in Roman Holiday, the Spanish Steps have been a must-see destination for travelers to Rome. If anything, this week’s law means the steps will now look more like they did in the movie and less like an outdoor airport terminal. If you’re traveling to Rome and find you need to rest your legs, check out our list of the city’s greatest eateries instead.


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Amsterdam to increase City Taxes

Amsterdam has been plagued by overtourism, with 18 million annual visitors descending on its 867,000 residents.
The authorities have taken measures to deter overzealous tourists, by dismantling the “iamsterdam” sign — a former selfie spot — outside the Rijksmuseum in December 2018 and announcing a ban of “disrespectful” tours of the red light district in March 2019.
That ban — as well as a cap on group numbers in the medieval center to 15 people — comes into effect January 1 2020.
Now the extra charges will join them on New Year’s Day.
A spokesperson for Amsterdam city council denied that the raised taxes were planned to deter tourists, calling it a point of “principle” to make visitors pay their way in the city.
“Visitors will contribute more to the high costs of keeping the city safe and clean, and of keeping the public space like pavements, quays, bridges and streets, in a good state,” the spokesperson said.
The move follows an agreement in 2018 to increase tourism revenue from €80m to €105. The city board had pressed for the additional €3 charge, and it was ratified by the city council in July.
Amsterdam also imposes a €8 arrival tax for visitors who arrive by boat, and €0.66 for passengers taking a sightseeing boat or bus tour.
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World Tourism Day

Happy World Tourism Day.
The United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) has celebrated World Tourism Day on September 27 since 1980. The purpose is to raise awareness on the role of tourism within the international community and to demonstrate how it affects social, cultural, political and economic values worldwide.

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Airelles Chateau de Versailles

For anyone who wants to feel like a modern day Marie Antoinette

The Palace of Versailles has long served as a popular tourist attraction, but a new luxury hotel set in its lavish grounds means visitors will now be able to stay there.

Airelles Château de Versailles will open in spring 2020 – the first hotel to have a home within the perimeters of the Palace grounds. The 14-bedroom property will be designed in an 18th Century style, with architect and interior designer Christophe Tollemer in charge of its aesthetic.

Although few details have been released about the hotel, it will boast a private spa and a restaurant led by Alain Ducasse, who is one of only two chefs to hold 21 Michelin stars throughout his career. Guests will also enjoy exclusive access and experiences at Chateau de Versailles.

Luxury hotel group Airelles owns a number of properties around France, although its Versailles opening is expected to be the jewel in its crown and one of the most anticipated travel launches of 2020.


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Le Mur des Je t’aime, Paris

What could be more romantic than a Parisian wall declaring love in over 250 languages?

Designed by Frédéric Baron and Claire Kito, this outdoor art installation features the words “I love you” written 1000 times in over 300 languages. Le mur des je t’aime (the wall of I love yous) is located in the Square Jehan Rictus in the Place de Abesses area of Montmartre.

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