Placeholder Content Image

Beyond the Barrier Reef: Australia’s 3 other World Heritage reefs are also in trouble

<div class="theconversation-article-body"><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/kate-marie-quigley-1400512">Kate Marie Quigley</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/james-cook-university-1167">James Cook University</a> and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/andrew-hamilton-baird-11285">Andrew Hamilton Baird</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/james-cook-university-1167">James Cook University</a></em></p> <p>The Great Barrier Reef is world famous – it’s the largest coral reef system in the world and home to tens of thousands of species. No wonder it is World Heritage listed.</p> <p>But Australia has three lower profile reefs which are also World Heritage listed –  Ningaloo and Shark Bay in Western Australia, and Lord Howe Island, 600 kilometres off the New South Wales coast, the <a href="https://www.guinnessworldrecords.com/world-records/612288-most-southerly-coral-reef">southernmost coral</a> in the world. Ningaloo has 260km of coral reef, while the reefs of Shark Bay have less coral but are home to ancient stromatolites, vast seagrass beds and iconic species such as dugongs.</p> <p>This month, the World Heritage Committee will meet in New Delhi. On the agenda will be how the world’s natural World Heritage sites are faring. The Australian government will be under increased scrutiny to prove it has upheld its <a href="https://www.dcceew.gov.au/parks-heritage/heritage/about/world/management-australias-world-heritage-listed/managing-world-heritage-australia/protecting-world-heritage#regulation">international commitments</a> to protecting these reefs.</p> <p>Our <a href="https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/gcb.17407">new research</a> has found all four of these reefs are in greater danger than we thought – even those in subtropical waters, such as Lord Howe Island. Our two Indian Ocean reefs at <a href="https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/578/">Shark Bay</a> and Ningaloo actually face more species and function loss than the Great Barrier Reef.</p> <p>At 1.5°C of warming, we are likely to lose about 20% of the 400-odd coral species which currently live across these four reefs (equating to about 70 extinctions). At 2°C warming, our modelling of species abundance and ecosystem functions predict an almost complete collapse in reef ecosystems – even for the subtropical reefs. This aligns with <a href="https://www.annualreviews.org/docserver/fulltext/animal/12/1/annurev-animal-021122-093315.pdf?expires=1721002489&amp;id=id&amp;accname=guest&amp;checksum=A9A203CC0F3AEB7D1FE9420F50EDF69A,%20https://backend.orbit.dtu.dk/ws/files/238807594/AGR2020.pdf">predictions</a> by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change for the future of coral reefs.</p> <p>We believe our work adds to the need to consider whether Australia’s four iconic reefs should be <a href="https://whc.unesco.org/en/danger/">on the list</a> of World Heritage sites in danger.</p> <h2>What does it mean when a reef is World Heritage listed?</h2> <p>Declaring a natural or cultural site as World Heritage is done to encourage the preservation of locations of immense ecological and cultural value. Nations have to <a href="https://whc.unesco.org/en/nominations/">nominate sites</a> they think are worthy of protection. Australia has 20 World Heritage sites, <a href="https://www.dcceew.gov.au/parks-heritage/heritage/places/world-heritage-list">of which</a> 12 are natural.</p> <p>When sites are formally listed, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) requires the country’s government to look after it. If the site is degrading, it can be listed as in danger.</p> <p>UNESCO has considered listing the Great Barrier Reef as in danger twice, in 2021 and again in <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/environment/article/2024/jun/24/set-more-ambitious-climate-targets-to-save-great-barrier-reef-unesco-urges-australia">June this year</a>. For the reef to keep its World Heritage status, the government must prove its policies are sufficient to keep the reefs in <a href="https://www.dcceew.gov.au/parks-heritage/heritage/about/world-heritage/outstanding-universal-value">good health</a>.</p> <p>In the debate over the Great Barrier Reef, two things have been missed – first, any mention of Australia’s other World Heritage reefs, and second, whether the federal government’s current policies to cut greenhouse gases are enough to protect the reefs into the future.</p> <h2>What did we find?</h2> <p>Our new results suggest all four reefs are in trouble. Given current warming trends, they will only deteriorate further in the future if we stay on this course.</p> <p>While the Barrier Reef has drawn a great deal of attention, it’s actually the ecosystems at Ningaloo, Shark Bay and Lord Howe Island which are projected to warm the most. When standardised to park boundaries, temperatures here are projected to increase by up to 1.3°C by the end of the century. (This temperature estimate is for sea temperatures, not the overall surface temperature which we use as shorthand when we talk about 1.5°C or 2°C of warming).</p> <p>While that might not sound like much, it will be enough to push many corals to potential extinction. Many coral species already exist within 1-2°C of the maximum temperature they can tolerate.</p> <p>Our modelling shows Shark Bay and Ningaloo actually face a greater risk of species and function loss than the Barrier Reef. It also suggests the ability of our reefs to bounce back will be overcome when warming tips over 1.5°C globally.</p> <p>While these models incorporate the baseline heat tolerance of coral species on these reefs, they don’t yet include their <a href="https://www.annualreviews.org/content/journals/10.1146/annurev-animal-021122-093315;jsessionid=mfIBuwjZ-ru5bkBMhWXDjumNnsvZgxkl02fPAg63.annurevlive-10-241-10-101">potential for genetic adaptation</a>. The question of whether some corals could adapt to this rapid warming is still open. A lot is riding on their ability to do so.</p> <h2>Looming danger</h2> <p>This year, the <a href="https://theconversation.com/sentinels-of-the-sea-ancient-boulder-corals-are-key-to-reef-survival-in-a-warmer-world-223207">Great Barrier Reef</a> and <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2024/mar/06/lord-howe-island-coral-bleaching-moving-south-fears-ocean-temperatures">Lord Howe Island</a> have suffered intense stress from high sea temperatures – the direct result of burning fossil fuels and producing heat-trapping greenhouse gases. This year is <a href="https://www.reuters.com/business/environment/2024-could-be-worlds-hottest-year-june-breaks-records-2024-07-08/#:%7E:text=The%20latest%20data%20suggest%202024,so%20far%2C%20some%20scientists%20said.">on track</a> to again be the hottest year on record, overtaking the previous record holder of 2023.</p> <p>Australia is already in the midst of an extinction crisis. Australia has one of the worst track records for extinctions. Since European colonisation, 34-38 mammal species have <a href="https://www.science.org/doi/abs/10.1126/science.adg7870">gone extinct</a> compared to just one from the contiguous United States, which covers a similar area.</p> <p>You might have read that coral cover – a measure of how much coral there is in an area – <a href="https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s00338-024-02498-5">hit historic highs</a> on the Great Barrier Reef last year.</p> <p>Coral cover is a helpful and important metric, but it’s <a href="https://theconversation.com/record-coral-cover-doesnt-necessarily-mean-the-great-barrier-reef-is-in-good-health-despite-what-you-may-have-heard-188233">not perfect</a>. For instance, fast-growing heat tolerant coral species might expand as less heat tolerant species die off. Importantly, relying on coral cover alone can mask significant changes in how the <a href="https://royalsocietypublishing.org/doi/10.1098/rspb.2019.2628">reef is functioning</a>.</p> <p>It’s hard to assess how species in our oceans are doing, given the difficulty of access and the large number of species, including many <a href="https://theconversation.com/the-first-step-to-conserving-the-great-barrier-reef-is-understanding-what-lives-there-146097">unknown to science</a>. If warming continues unabated, we will likely start to lose species before we have even documented them.</p> <p>Our results are based on “moderate” climate models of global surface temperature changes. Australia has committed to cutting emissions by 43% below 2005 levels by 2030. While that sounds good, it’s not enough – this decrease is compatible with <a href="https://environment.govt.nz/what-you-can-do/climate-scenarios-toolkit/climate-scenarios-list/ipccs-ssp-rcp-scenarios/">hitting 3.2ºC by 2100</a>. To limit warming to 1.5ºC or below by 2050, we would need to commit to much greater cuts in emissions – 90% below 2005 levels by 2030.</p> <p>Our results clearly suggest Australia’s four World Heritage reefs will be dramatically affected by warming in the near future. They will no longer qualify as being maintained under “conditions of integrity”. It’s hard to see how they can avoid being added to the in danger list.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/234268/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/kate-marie-quigley-1400512"><em>Kate Marie Quigley</em></a><em>, DECRA Research Fellow in molecular ecology, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/james-cook-university-1167">James Cook University</a> and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/andrew-hamilton-baird-11285">Andrew Hamilton Baird</a>, Professorial fellow in coral reef ecology, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/james-cook-university-1167">James Cook University</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Shutterstock</em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/beyond-the-barrier-reef-australias-3-other-world-heritage-reefs-are-also-in-trouble-234268">original article</a>.</em></p> </div>

Domestic Travel

Placeholder Content Image

Sombre Aussie site tops global list of most unusual abandoned places

<p>Each year, thousands of people travel to famous abandoned buildings and hotspots to explore what were once important landmarks. </p> <p>Some deserted sites are more popular than others, as these ten sites received tens of thousands of visitors each year. </p> <p><strong>Buzludzha, Bulgaria</strong></p> <p>The Buzludzha Monument in central Bulgaria has been dubbed the tenth most famous abandoned place in the world, each year welcoming over 18,000 people. </p> <p>The site was constructed in 1981 and used by the Bulgarian communist government, and was in use until the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1989.</p> <p><strong>Ohio State Reformatory, USA</strong></p> <p>After first opening in 1898, the goal of the Ohio State Reformatory was to truly "reform" and rehabilitate its inmates.</p> <p>The facility was closed in 1990, and each year attracts more than 21,000 visitors.</p> <p><strong>Gereja Ayam, Indonesia</strong></p> <p>The uniquely shaped house of prayer in Central Java continues to be a popular tourist attraction in Indonesia, welcoming more than 50,000 travellers each year. </p> <p>Construction on the church was never completed after work was halted in 2000.</p> <p><strong>Lago di Resia Bell Tower, Italy</strong></p> <p>The 14-century sunken bell tower can be found near the border of Switzerland, emerging from the water from a sunken village where travellers claim they can hear bells tolling, even though there are no bells in the tower. </p> <p>The lonely (and probably haunted) tower receives more than 54,000 tourists each year. </p> <p><strong>Canfranc, Spain</strong></p> <p>The abandoned railway station is located in the Spanish municipality of Canfranc, close to the French border and once was a major hub for cross-border railway traffic.</p> <p>It first opened in 1928, but closed its doors by 1970 before it was reimagined as a hotel.  </p> <p><strong>Beelitz Military Hospital, Germany</strong></p> <p>The large hospital complex was first built in 1898 as a sanatorium, but was transformed into a hospital at the beginning of WWI and has been abandoned since 1990. </p> <p>It's understood Hitler was treated here after being wounded in the Battle of Somme, which could be the reason more than 64,000 travellers flock there each year. </p> <p><strong>Eastern State Penitentiary, USA</strong></p> <p>The prison in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania is described as one of the country's most historic prisons and has housed some famous prisoners such as Al Capone.</p> <p>The prison was closed in 1971 and is tagged on social media by more than 79,000 every year. </p> <p><strong>Croix-Rouge, Paris</strong></p> <p>Also known as the Red Cross, this Paris train station has been abandoned since 1939 after France entered WWII.</p> <p>The station was only functional for 16 years, and welcomes more than 95,000 curious travellers each year. </p> <p><strong>Teufelsberg, Germany</strong></p> <p>Teufelsberg was one of the largest listening towers in the world during the Cold war.</p> <p>The site was closed in 1972, but still receives around 128,000 every year. </p> <p><strong>Port Arthur, Australia</strong></p> <p>More than a quarter of a million visitors travel to Port Arthur in Tasmania each year.</p> <p>The site itself was first opened as a timber station in 1830 and is known as a symbol of the country's convict past.</p> <p><em>Image credits: Shutterstock </em></p>

International Travel

Placeholder Content Image

Olympian and former world champ shot dead at 42

<p>South African police have found the body of former Olympian and high jump world champion Jacques Freitag after he was reported missing. </p> <p>Local authorities say that they found the body of the 42-year-old in a field near a cemetery in the city of Pretoria with fatal gunshot wounds, and are treating his death as murder. </p> <p>South African news Netwerk24 reported that a source claims Freitag was allegedly executed, as one of the gunshot wounds was allegedly located in the back of his head.</p> <p>Freitag's sister, Chrissie Lewis, had appealed for help on social media to find her brother, who went missing in the early hours of June 17th after leaving his mother's house.</p> <p>Lewis said he had struggled with drug addiction after his athletics career ended.</p> <p>He was then not seen again until his body was discovered. </p> <p>Freitag won the 2003 world title in Paris and competed at the 2004 Olympics, representing South Africa in high jump.</p> <p>He was among a select group of athletes to win world titles at youth, junior and senior level, as World Athletics called Freitag “a prodigious athlete”. </p> <p>He won the high jump at the 1999 Youth World Championships in Poland, the Junior World Champs in Chile in 2000 and the Senior's in France in 2003.</p> <p>In 2003, he cleared 2.35m at the Stade de France in Paris to win the gold medal at the IAAF World Championships.</p> <p>He retired from sport in 2013 and was said to have in recent times been sleeping on the streets or friends' couches, having been unable to hold down a full-time job.</p> <p><em>Image credits: Hahn Lionel/ABACA/Shutterstock Editorial </em></p>

Caring

Placeholder Content Image

What it's like to play the baddest opera villain in the world

<p>As we mark the 100th anniversary of Giacomo Puccini’s passing, Opera Australia is pulling out all the stops to celebrate the legendary Italian composer with two of his most celebrated works at the iconic Sydney Opera House this winter. Kicking off the season is Edward Dick’s five-star production of <em>Tosca</em>, which had its opening night on June 25.</p> <p>This electrifying new take on Puccini’s action-packed thriller is captivating audiences with its compelling narrative and intense emotional depth. <em>Tosca</em> unfolds over a swift 24-hour period, weaving a tale of passion and power, jealousy and betrayal, love and tragedy. It's a perfect introduction to opera for newcomers and a beloved classic for seasoned fans, promising an edge-of-your-seat experience.</p> <p>Renowned for his ability to breathe fresh life into classic works, Director Edward Dick has assembled an award-winning creative team to deliver a visually stunning production. Tom Scutt's set design brilliantly juxtaposes Renaissance grandeur with contemporary elegance, featuring a suspended gilded dome revealing a breathtaking Renaissance fresco. BAFTA-winning costume designer Fotini Dimou dresses the performers in chic, modern attire, while Lee Curran's stadium-style lighting adds a dramatic flair.</p> <p>The cast is equally stellar. Making her Opera Australia debut, Northern Irish soprano Giselle Allen has taken on the titular role of Tosca, sharing the stage with OA favourite Karah Son, who received critical acclaim for her performance in Melbourne.</p> <p>Joining them is Korean tenor Young Woo Kim, debuting at the Sydney Opera House as the love-struck painter Cavaradossi. The role of the villainous Scarpia will be portrayed for the first half of the show's run by Armenian dramatic baritone Gevorg Hakobyan, also making his OA debut, until award-winning local baritone Warwick Fyfe takes over the role for the second half of the run, beginning on July 31 until the run's conclusion on August 16.</p> <p>Over60 was thrilled to be given the chance to interview Fyfe in the lead-up to his Sydney performance. </p> <p><em><strong>O60: Firstly, by way of an introduction to Warwick Fyfe the Australian Helden bass baritone – can you summarise your career?</strong></em></p> <p><strong>Fyfe: </strong>“In <em>Yes, Minister</em>, Sir Humphrey once – referring to Bernard – used the expression “a low flyer supported by occasional gusts of hot air”. I suppose I’m a bit like that. But I have a single major achievement, to wit: I’m still here! Over several decades I’ve seen hot shots come and go and change careers but I’m still earning a living at singing. Moreover, I think I might at last be getting the hang of it.” </p> <p><strong><em>O60: What is your history with this opera Tosca by Puccini?</em></strong></p> <p><strong>Fyfe: </strong>“I sang the Sacristan in the 1995 Victoria State Opera production. That was the start. The director John Copley was very supportive and taught me a lot. Also, I got to know the great John Wegner, having previously only seen him from the auditorium. He was a great influence even though he and I were very different. I’d watch him every night from the wings during Act 2. Then years later, having done countless Sacristans, I did a Scarpia of my own, taking over from John at the tail end of a season. Then in 2022 I was to sing Scarpia for West Australian Opera. Alas, the season was severely damaged when I caught Covid. I only did the first and last shows and not very well. This current production allows me at last to put my stamp on the role and do it properly. It went well in the Melbourne run.” </p> <p><em><strong>O60: How do you approach learning the role of Scarpia and connecting with a villainous character?</strong></em></p> <p><strong>Fyfe: </strong>“Tosca is very standard repertoire and additionally I was the Sacristan early in my career so that I had an osmotically acquired sense of the thing from early on. Also, the donkey work of learning and memorising the notes and words is a task of only moderate proportions with this role. So one just sits down at the piano and starts hacking away at it. </p> <p>“The other two bits of the equation (which can’t actually be separated) are the singing of the role and the inhabiting of the character. Vocally, it requires that I be at peak form. I can sing it much better than when I was young but it requires much more conscious effort to sustain it. My teacher Christina Henson Hayes has helped me enormously on that front. </p> <p>“Dramatically, it’s almost always possible to find in some dark recess of oneself something which is reflected in the character. Having found this way in, one can push it and stretch it and eventually pop out like a newborn into the new fictional world where that person lives. But equally important, especially for the in-the-round, creaturely and not at all stylised characters of verismo, one needs to have lived and absorbed that which is around one. Read good books, watch great actors – not in an ad hoc sense but generally. Be a cultural sponge. Make reading good books and watching great actors as constant and inevitable a part of life as eating. Read everything, listen to everything, observe everything. If the singer has no cultural hinterland, it is to be hoped that the director is a magician!” </p> <p><em><strong>O6O: You recently performed in this production in Melbourne’s Margaret Court Arena – the first opera to be staged on the tennis court. How did you find that experience and will anything about your performance be different for the Sydney season?</strong></em></p> <p>“Well, it was lovely because all my colleagues were lovely. As well as all my Opera Australia chums, there were people new to me such as Nadine Benjamin and Young Woo Kim – people so warm and friendly, not to mention talented, that one feels almost abashed and instinctively tries in response to be the best colleague one knows how to be. </p> <p>“Nevertheless, I’m a traditionalist who believes that opera will always be better for all concerned in a conventional, properly appointed theatre. Opera singers do not like being miked. For me, however good the technicians, the sense of one’s sound being only partially in one’s own control is uncomfortable. On the other hand, feeling one’s voice commanding a huge space as if one were a Rabelaisian giant is quite thrilling and of course it opens up possibilities for the company commercially.” </p> <p><em><strong>O60: Opera Australia is presenting several Puccini works this year in celebration of the legendary composer as 2024 marks the 100th anniversary of Puccini’s death, so let’s chat about Puccini’s contribution to the world of opera. He was a champion of verismo; can you explain what that means? What should audiences expect from the performance?</strong></em></p> <p>“Verismo is simply realism. Characters presented in the round rather than as two-dimensional types or figures of heightened allegory. In place of a stylised, artificial or high-flown approach, the composers wished to present real people in plausible dramatic settings. Of course this presents an apparent contradiction because in real life we don’t sing at each other. However, in practice you can have your cake and eat it because the genius of Puccini, from a starting point of a verisimilitudinous situation and story, can take it to another plane of intensity and power. But the roots in reality are unbroken. That reality is in the DNA of every cell of the artwork which rises majestically from those roots. Hence the opera feels real despite the built-in artificiality of the art form. By contrast, a composer of another era and school might take his subject away from reality to a more rarefied place. Audiences should expect an intense, purely human drama.” </p> <p><em><strong>O60: Puccini is known for his innovative use of the orchestra and an expansive use of instruments; what should audiences be listening for when they come to Tosca?</strong></em></p> <p>“Different composers have their preferred palettes. This also varies on national as well as individual lines. As Puccini is the supreme figure in verismo, he IS the archetype so that I can answer the question in a circular way by saying that it will sound very Italian, very verismo. Lush, yes, but a Puccinian version thereof rather than a Straussian one. </p> <p>“There are also exquisite touches, sort of musical special effects used judiciously and sparingly enough so as not to seem gimmicky. For example, the bells and spoken Latin of the Te Deum or the distanced effect of the oratorio in Act 2. The arias are of course high points but much of the interest lies in the meat connecting those moments.” </p> <p><em><strong>O60: Which of Puccini’s works is your preferred or do you find one most revolutionary?</strong></em></p> <p>“For brutal intensity, <em>Tosca</em> represents the high-water mark, especially Act 2. I love the kaleidoscopic richness of <em>Turandot</em>. The story is horrible but this is not a negative if one accepts it as a fable which has different rules from those applying to a pungently realistic tale. Also, <em>Turandot</em> is structurally flawed because he didn’t finish it. It is, however, musically astonishingly good. If you said I had to see a Puccini opera tonight but I could choose which one, I’d definitely choose <em>La Fanciulla del West</em>. Not only is it a masterpiece, it doesn’t get done nearly enough.”</p> <p>---</p> <p>Don't miss this extraordinary celebration of Puccini's legacy. Whether you're an opera aficionado or a first-time attendee, this production of <em>Tosca</em> is set to be an unforgettable highlight of the cultural calendar. Get ready to be swept off your feet by the sheer drama, passion, and beauty of Puccini’s masterpiece. Visit <a href="https://opera.org.au/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">https://opera.org.au/</a> for more info.</p> <p><em>Images: Opera Australia</em></p>

Music

Placeholder Content Image

World's best airline for 2024 revealed

<p>The world's best airline has been revealed for 2024, with the winning airline being voted above the rest for quality, customer service and overall flying experience. </p> <p>Qatar Airways, the Doha-based airline, reclaimed the title in the annual Skytrax’s World Airline Awards dubbed “the Oscars of the aviation industry”, returning to the top for an unprecedented eighth time.</p> <p>The 2023 winner, Singapore Airlines, fell back a spot to second place, while Emirates came third.</p> <p>Coming in next on the list was  ANA All Nippon Airways, Cathay Pacific Airways, Japan Airlines, Turkish Airlines, EVA Air, Air France and Swiss International Air Lines in 10th spot.</p> <p>Qatar also took home three other awards: World’s Best Business Class, World’s Best Business Class Airline Lounge and Best Airline in the Middle East.</p> <p>It’s also become the first aviation group to win Best Airline, Best Airport and Best Airport Shopping, in the same year in Skytrax history.</p> <p>“This is a proud moment for Qatar Airways. I am honoured to share this award with my dedicated team,” Qatar Airways group chief executive officer, Badr Mohammed Al-Meer, said at the Skytrax event in London on Monday.</p> <p>“This award is a testimony to our relentless commitment to providing unparalleled service and innovation. We look forward to continuing to serve our customers with the highest level of excellence.”</p> <p>The Skytrax awards are based on the votes of travellers across over 100 nationalities, with any airline in the world eligible to be nominated.</p> <p>In terms of Aussie airlines, Qantas plummeted seven spots to be ranked 24 this year, while Virgin Australia fell from 46 to 54 and Jetstar from 69 to 75. </p> <p>However, Australian regional airline REX climbed from spot 56 to 50.</p> <p><em>Image credits: Shutterstock </em></p>

International Travel

Placeholder Content Image

The world’s longest cruises

<p dir="ltr">If you’re looking for your next cruising adventure, there are a multitude of time frames you can pick from for your next holiday. </p> <p dir="ltr">While many cruise-goers tend to opt for just a week or two at sea, there are other voyages that can see you spend months travelling the world. </p> <p dir="ltr">Here are ten of the longest cruise journeys that are available for the most dedicated travellers. </p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>Queen Anne - 107 days</strong></p> <p dir="ltr">In 2025, new Cunard ship Queen Anne will embark on her maiden World Voyage which includes her first visit to Australia and New Zealand.</p> <p dir="ltr">The 107-day journey starts with a transatlantic crossing before sailing to destinations in the Americas, Australasia, Asia, the Arabian Gulf and finally the Mediterranean.</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>Crown Princess - 113 days </strong></p> <p dir="ltr">The Crown Princess is set to embark on an epic around the world cruise next year, and you can get on in Australia or New Zealand.</p> <p dir="ltr">From there, the voyage will visit 49 destinations in 28 countries over 113 days, crossing the equator twice, and sailing 33,500 nautical miles.</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>MSC Magnifica - 119 days</strong></p> <p dir="ltr">MSC's World Cruise 2026 lasts 119 days, with options to book the entire round-the-world itinerary for the most dedicated travellers. </p> <p dir="ltr">The trip starts in Italy, and takes in the Mediterranean before heading across the Atlantic to the Caribbean and South America, before it then sails to California before crossing the Pacific for Hawaii, New Zealand and Australia.</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>Seabourn Sojourn - 129 days </strong></p> <p dir="ltr">Seabourn's 2026 World Cruise sets sail on January 6th 2026 from LA, before taking in Hawaii, South Pacific islands, New Zealand, Australia and the Far East and Asia before heading Alaska and concluding in Vancouver, Canada.</p> <p dir="ltr">That's a total of 63 ports in 14 countries with seven overnight stays.</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>Volendam - 133 days</strong></p> <p dir="ltr">Holland America’s lengthy journey, titled Pole to Pole, takes a round trip from Fort Lauderdale in Florida it visits spots as diverse as Costa Rica, Antarctica, Morocco, France and Canada.</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>Crystal Serenity - 135 days</strong></p> <p dir="ltr">Crystal's 2026 World Cruise is an epic 135-day journey travelling to 72 destinations throughout 27 countries.</p> <p dir="ltr">Departing Los Angeles, Crystal Serenity will traverse the waters of the Pacific taking in the Marquesas Islands, Bora Bora, New Zealand and Sydney, as well as travelling to Hong Kong, Mumbai and Dubai.</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>Seven Seas Splendour - 140 days </strong></p> <p dir="ltr">Guests onboard the Regent Seven Seas Cruises will visit 40 countries over six continents, spending 140 nights onboard the luxurious ship. </p> <p dir="ltr">The voyage visits locations such as Panama, Sri Lanka and Spain, visiting 71 ports around the world. </p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>Silver Dawn - 149 days</strong></p> <p dir="ltr">Silversea Cruises' Silver Dawn will explore 80 destinations, covering 35 countries on five continents, including 11 overnight stays. </p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>Viking Sky - 163 days </strong></p> <p dir="ltr">The cruise ship Viking Sky will sail for an impressive 163 days on its World Voyage II, taking in 34 countries, with 79 guided tours. </p> <p dir="ltr">Ports of note include Rarotonga in the Cook Islands, Darwin Australia, Colombo Sri Lanka, Cape Town, South Africa and the Shetland Islands in Scotland.</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>Oceana Vista - 197 days</strong></p> <p dir="ltr">The 2026 World Odyssey voyage of Vista will circumnavigate the world, visiting over 100 ports across 43 countries.</p> <p dir="ltr">The voyage visits over 80 UNESCO World Heritage sites across 101 destinations, with 11 overnight stays.</p> <p dir="ltr"><em>Image credits: Shutterstock</em></p>

Cruising

Placeholder Content Image

Winner of the World's Ugliest Dog Contest announced

<p>The annual World's Ugliest Dog contest has unearthed some true diamonds in the ruff, with one long-tongued frizz-ball being honoured with the title of the ugliest dog in the world. </p> <p>At the Sonoma-Marin Fair in Petaluma, California, an eight-year-old Pekingese called Wild Thang was crowned the winner and collected the $5,000 cash prize, after failing to take home the prize five years in a row. </p> <p>"He was a fan favorite … he's kind of like the bridesmaid and never the bride," judge Fiona Ma told the <em>Associated Press</em>.</p> <p>"He really tugged at our heart strings and deserved to win."</p> <p>Wild Thang's strange looks stem from a virus he contracted as a puppy that almost killed him, but instead left him with permanent damage.</p> <p>As a result, his teeth never developed, so his tongue flops out, and his right front leg paddles all the time.</p> <p>"He's never had a hair cut so that is the way he is and [his owner] shaves his stomach and he likes to sleep on ice packs," Ma added.</p> <p>"He is just a sweet dog – I was just holding him and he loves to be held and cuddled. That's part of it, these rescue dogs, they just need forever homes, so please adopt, don't shop."</p> <p>Organisers stressed that the contest is not about making fun of the unusual looking dogs, "but having fun with some wonderful characters and showing the world that these dogs are really beautiful!"</p> <p><em>Image credits: JOHN G MABANGLO/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock Editorial </em></p>

Family & Pets

Placeholder Content Image

"Fly high, Bette!": World's longest-serving flight attendant dies aged 88

<p>Bette Nash, the world's longest-serving flight attendant has passed away aged 88, after a short battle with breast cancer. </p> <p>American Airlines, where Nash devoted almost seven decades of her life, announced her death on social media on Saturday. </p> <p>"We mourn the passing of Bette Nash, who spent nearly seven decades warmly caring for our customers in the air," they began their post. </p> <p>“Bette was a legend at American and throughout the industry, inspiring generations of flight attendants. </p> <p>“Fly high, Bette. We’ll miss you.”</p> <p>A spokesperson for the airlines confirmed that she was still an active employee at the time of her death. </p> <p>Nash, who was born on December 31, 1935,  began her flight-attendant career with Eastern Airlines in 1957, at just 21-years-old. </p> <p>In January 2022, she was officially recognised as the world’s longest-serving flight attendant by Guinness World Records, after surpassing the previous record a year earlier. She continued to hold the title until her passing. </p> <p>Tributes have poured in from people all over the world on social media, with many praising her for her unwavering dedication and kindness. </p> <p>"Fly high Bette! It was a pleasure being your passenger," wrote one person on X, alongside a selfie he took with her. </p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet"> <p dir="ltr" lang="en">Fly high Bette! It was a pleasure being your passenger. <a href="https://t.co/9N63YPB5Ia">pic.twitter.com/9N63YPB5Ia</a></p> <p>— Jon Kruse (@JonKruseYacht) <a href="https://twitter.com/JonKruseYacht/status/1794459429997273423?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">May 25, 2024</a></p></blockquote> <p>"She was flying as a passenger when she sat next to me, pinned her jacket to the bulkhead, gave me a three minute story of her life then said 'So what's your story?'. She was a dynamo. Rest easy," another added.  </p> <p>"She was an absolute delight in my earliest airline life working the USAir shuttle at LGA. Godspeed and eternal silvered wings Bette!" a third wrote. </p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet"> <p dir="ltr" lang="en">She was an absolute delight in my earliest airline life working the USAir shuttle at LGA. Godspeed and eternal silvered wings Bette!</p> <p>— Ryan Spellman (@JustJettingThru) <a href="https://twitter.com/JustJettingThru/status/1794480142766531034?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">May 25, 2024</a></p></blockquote> <p>"Rest in Peace Bette Nash," wrote a fourth. </p> <p>"Bette was a class act. Truly a loss for the skies. She was truly an Angel," added another. </p> <p><em>Image: CBS/ X</em></p> <p> </p>

Caring

Placeholder Content Image

Another man dies after fall from world's biggest cruise ship

<p>A passenger has died after he fell from the world's largest cruise ship on the first night of a week-long voyage. </p> <p>The unidentified man allegedly jumped from Royal Caribbean’s new 366 metre-long Icon of the Seas, just hours after it left a port in Miami, Florida on its way to Honduras, according to the US Coast Guard.</p> <p>“The cruise ship deployed one of their rescue boats, located the man and brought him back aboard,” the Coast Guard told the <em><a href="https://nypost.com/2024/05/28/us-news/passenger-dead-after-jumping-off-worlds-largest-cruise-ship/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">New York Post</a></em>.</p> <p>“He was pronounced deceased. Beyond assisting in the search, the US Coast Guard did not have much involvement in this incident,” the agency added.</p> <p>Royal Caribbean told the publication, “The ship’s crew immediately notified the US Coast Guard and launched a search and rescue operation”. </p> <p>“Our care team is actively providing support and assistance to the guest’s loved ones during this difficult time.”</p> <p>At the time of the incident, the cruise ship had only travelled 500km from Florida, and stopped for two hours to help the search and rescue Coast Guard team to locate the passenger. </p> <p>The man was brought back on-board in critical condition before he succumbed to his injuries and died on the ship. </p> <p>The Icon of the Seas, the world’s largest cruise ship, took its maiden voyage in January this year.</p> <p>The Royal Caribbean ship has 20 decks and is nearly the size of four city blocks, holding 7,600 passengers and 2,350 crew members.</p> <p><em>Image credits: Royal Caribbean </em></p>

Travel Trouble

Placeholder Content Image

Miss World Australia attacked outside shopping centre

<p>Miss World Australia has taken aim at the lack of police response after she called Triple Zero for urgent assistance when she was attacked. </p> <p>Jasmine Stringer was running a workshop with a group of aspiring young pageant contestants at a Gold Coast shopping centre on Friday night, when a woman lunged towards the group in a random attack.</p> <p>"This person was hurling abuse at the young girls and then charged at me from across the road and punched me straight in the face," Jasmine told <a href="https://9now.nine.com.au/today/miss-world-australia-and-children-attacked-during-gold-coast-shopping-centre-event/cf15799c-99e7-45ee-b143-519bcff1114f" target="_blank" rel="noopener"><em>Today</em></a>.</p> <p>"I fended her off and then she turned her sights to a 14-year-old girl."</p> <p>While doing her best to protect herself and the young girls, Jasmine called Triple Zero for assistance.</p> <p>As the young girls fled from the scene, Jasmine waited for police - or members of the public - to help, and was met with no response.</p> <p>"I guess the most concerning part of this whole story for me is that I called Triple Zero, we are in the Southport CBD of the Gold Coast, less than three kilometres from the police station and in a 15-minute time frame when women and children are being assaulted, there was no one turning up to help," the 27-year-old said.</p> <p>"I stayed there for 20 minutes on the call with the dispatcher and I was starting to get stressed, this woman was still physically attacking these children as they're trying to get into cars and taxis and it was escalating and I asked 'is someone coming?' and they were quite dismissive to me."</p> <p>As part of her Miss World Australia advocacy work, Jasmine has devoted a lot of time and effort into preventing violence against women, and says this attack is the second time within a month that she's called for help from police after witnessing a violent incident and there's been nobody there to help.</p> <p>'I'm going to go to the police station today just make sure that the report is made and hopefully have the person who attacked us charged," she said.</p> <p>"But at this point in time, I've received no follow up from the police and it's been a really distressing situation."</p> <p><em>Image credits: Today </em></p>

Legal

Placeholder Content Image

World No.1 golfer breaks silence after bizarre arrest

<p>World No. 1 golfer Scottie Scheffler has broken his silence after he was arrested and charged by police on Friday, ahead of the second round of the PGA Championships. </p> <p>Scheffler was detained by Louisville Metro police, after he drove onto a curb to try and get around a fatal accident that occurred in front of the Valhalla Golf Club. </p> <p>Earlier that morning, a man who was working  for a vendor at the tournament, was hit and killed by a shuttle bus while attempting to cross the street near the golf club.</p> <p>The tragic incident caused the road to close in both directions, but Scheffler reportedly “refused to comply and accelerated forward” when Detective Bryan Gillis stopped the golfer to give instructions.</p> <p>The police report obtained by <em>ESPN </em>also said that the detective who stopped him “suffered pain, swelling and abrasions to his left wrist and knee." </p> <p>Scheffler was charged with felony assault on a police officer, criminal mischief, reckless driving and disregarding signals from an officer directing traffic and was released almost four hours later. </p> <p>He returned to the golf course and issued a statement on the incident before completing his second round. </p> <p>“This morning I was proceeding as directed by police officers,” Scheffler began.</p> <p>“It was a very chaotic situation, understandably considering the tragic accident that had occurred earlier and there was a big misunderstand of what I thought I was being asked to do.</p> <p>“I never intended to disregard any of the instructions.</p> <p>“I am hopeful to put this to the side and focus on golf today.</p> <p>“Of course, all of us involved in the tournament express our deepest sympathies to the family of the man passed away in the earlier accident this morning. It truly puts everything into perspective.”</p> <p>After completing the second round, he spoke further about the incident and said: “My head is still kind of spinning, I can’t really explain what happened this morning." </p> <p>He also recalled stretching and doing his warm-ups in the jail cell, in attempt to lower his heart rate. </p> <p>“I was never angry. I was just in shock, and I think my body was just -- I was shaking the whole time. I was shaking for like an hour. It was definitely a new feeling for me," he said.</p> <p>An officer even offered him a sandwich. </p> <p>“I was like, ‘Sure, I’ll take a sandwich’. I hadn’t eaten breakfast yet. I mean, they were really kind. I’m grateful that we have such strong police, and they’re our protectors out there, and like I said, we just got into a chaotic situation this morning. That’s really all it was," he recalled. </p> <p>Scheffler’s lawyer Steve Romines said that there was a bit of confusion as the officer directing traffic didn’t appear to be part of the tournament traffic detail “and that’s where the miscommunication arose”.</p> <p><span style="font-family: -apple-system, BlinkMacSystemFont, 'Segoe UI', Roboto, Oxygen, Ubuntu, Cantarell, 'Open Sans', 'Helvetica Neue', sans-serif;">He also said that they will be pleading not guilty and told </span><em style="font-family: -apple-system, BlinkMacSystemFont, 'Segoe UI', Roboto, Oxygen, Ubuntu, Cantarell, 'Open Sans', 'Helvetica Neue', sans-serif;">The Golf Channel </em><span style="font-family: -apple-system, BlinkMacSystemFont, 'Segoe UI', Roboto, Oxygen, Ubuntu, Cantarell, 'Open Sans', 'Helvetica Neue', sans-serif;">that charges against Scheffler “will either be dropped or we will go to trial because Scottie didn’t do anything wrong.</span></p> <p>“We’re not interested in any sort of settlement negotiations or anything like that. It was just a big miscommunication.”</p> <p><em>Images: Twitter</em></p>

Legal

Placeholder Content Image

“I paint the world as I see it": Artist responds to Gina Rinehart's demand

<p>Acclaimed Aboriginal artist <span style="font-family: -apple-system, BlinkMacSystemFont, 'Segoe UI', Roboto, Oxygen, Ubuntu, Cantarell, 'Open Sans', 'Helvetica Neue', sans-serif;">Vincent Namatjira </span><span style="font-family: -apple-system, BlinkMacSystemFont, 'Segoe UI', Roboto, Oxygen, Ubuntu, Cantarell, 'Open Sans', 'Helvetica Neue', sans-serif;">has found himself at the centre of controversy following criticism from mining magnate Gina Rinehart over his portrait of her displayed at the National Gallery of Australia in Canberra. Rinehart reportedly <a href="https://www.oversixty.com.au/entertainment/art/gina-rinehart-demands-for-national-gallery-to-remove-her-portrait" target="_blank" rel="noopener">demanded the removal of the painting</a>, which she deemed unflattering, sparking a debate on artistic expression and the portrayal of power in contemporary art.</span></p> <p>Namatjira's artistic style is characterised by caricatures that border on the cartoonish, portraying influential figures such as Queen Elizabeth II, AFL player Adam Goodes and former Prime Minister Julia Gillard. His work challenges viewers to question the societal constructs surrounding power and influence, inviting them to delve deeper into the underlying messages within his art.</p> <p>In response to the removal request from Rinehart, Namatjira released a statement saying:</p> <p>“I paint the world as I see it. People don’t have to like my paintings, but I hope they take the time to look and think, ‘why has this Aboriginal bloke painted these powerful people? What is he trying to say?’"</p> <p>"I paint people who are wealthy, powerful, or significant – people who have had an influence on this country, and on me personally, whether directly or indirectly, whether for good or for bad. Some people might not like it, other people might find it funny, but I hope people look beneath the surface and see the serious side too.”</p> <p>Through his art, Namatjira confronts the complexities of privilege, wealth and authority, presenting a perspective that may not always align with mainstream perceptions.</p> <p>Despite objections raised by some, the National Gallery of Australia has stood by its decision to retain the painting, reaffirming its commitment to fostering dialogue and engagement with art in all its forms.</p> <p>Reports of complaints, including accusations linking the portrayal to political agendas, underscore the broader societal divisions that art can sometimes expose. However, the NGA's refusal to yield to external pressure reaffirms the institution's role as a custodian of artistic expression, providing a platform for diverse voices to be heard and interpreted.</p> <p>Namatjira's exhibition, "Australia in Colour", serves as a testament to the power of art to provoke, challenge and inspire. Through his unique lens, he invites audiences to reconsider notions of power and influence, urging them to look beyond the surface and engage with the deeper narratives embedded within his work.</p> <p>In a world where influence is often wielded unequally, his paintings serve as a catalyst for reflection, inviting viewers to confront uncomfortable truths and embrace the diversity of perspectives that define our collective experience.</p> <p><em>Images: Getty \ X (Twitter) \ National Gallery of Australia</em> </p>

Art

Placeholder Content Image

6 strange wedding traditions around the world

<p>Every country – indeed, every family – has their own wedding traditions and marriage superstitions. Most of us would be familiar with the rule of the newlyweds-to-be not seeing each other before the wedding and the “something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue” rhyme, but what goes on around the rest of the world? Let’s find out.</p> <p><strong>1. Greece</strong></p> <p>If you’ve ever attended a Greek wedding, you’ll know it’s a colourful, fun, family-oriented affair – you’ll also probably be familiar with koufeta. They’re sugar-coated almonds given to guests by the newlyweds as a way to secure happiness, health, wealth, children and a long life. How? The white of the almond is said to symbolise purity, the egg shape fertility, the hardness represents the endurance of marriage and the sugar shows the sweetness of married life.</p> <p><strong>2. Scotland</strong></p> <p>Many modern Scots have done away with this tradition, and we can’t blame them. Essentially, before the big day, the bride (and occasionally the groom) is covered head-to-toe in pungent foods like rotten eggs, curdled milk and fish sauce by her friends. Supposedly, it prepares the couple for the difficulties of marriage and wards away evil spirits. We’d rather give it a miss.</p> <p><strong>3. South America</strong></p> <p>Pearls might be the jewellery of choice for some woman, but you’re not likely to see a single stone on a South American bride. Many Latin cultures see pearls as “tears of the sea” and believe that wearing them on your wedding day could bring sadness into the new marriage.</p> <p><strong>4. India</strong></p> <p>It’s traditional for Indian brides to get henna tattoos on their hands and feet for their wedding day, and there’s often a sweet hidden message in them – the groom’s initials. If he is able to find his initials in the elaborate tattoo on the wedding night, it’s believed the couple will have good luck. Lucky for the bride, if he fails, he has to give his new wife a present. Score!</p> <p><strong>5. Poland</strong></p> <p>Polish brides have to be very careful when it comes to picking out their wedding shoes. According to tradition, open-toed shoes are bad luck since they allow the couple’s future wealth and fortune to escape through the opening. However, there’s also an opportunity for the newlyweds to make a bit of money, too! As they leave the church, their guests shower them with coins, which they then have to collect to secure a happy and prosperous future.</p> <p><strong>6. Germany</strong></p> <p>If you’re a young German woman, you might want to avoid splashing out on porcelain – come the night before your wedding, it’ll all be destroyed. Yep, “polterabend” is a tradition in which wedding guests arrive at the bride’s home the night before and smash anything made of porcelain they can get their hands on. This is thought to bring good luck, and since it’s up to the couple to clean up the mess, it’s also designed to teach them that married life isn’t always easy – but they can work through any challenges they may face.</p> <p><em>Image credits: Shutterstock</em></p>

Relationships

Placeholder Content Image

Adorable Collie sells for world record-breaking price

<p>A border collie has been sold for a world record-breaking amount at the Ray White Rockhampton Working Dog Sale and Trial.</p> <p>Helen and James Parker paid $40,000 for Liz, a border collie who they describe as the "whole package". </p> <p>The couple, who run a wagyu cattle farm in Monto, Queensland are keen to welcome the pup who will help them muster cattle as part of the day-to-day running of the farm. </p> <p>"We leave in the morning early, they might do three to four hours mustering in the morning, then we get the cattle to the yard and then in the afternoon we'll walk them away," Helen said.</p> <p>"Our mustering round's about a week, so all day for a week, so some big days and it's hot up here in summer so they need to be able to travel and follow us on a horse and big days in hot conditions so we can't do the job without them."</p> <p>Liz, who was raised by Joe Leven, is the second dog the couple have purchased from Joe, and they say the price was worth it. </p> <p>"We weren't planning on breaking records but we're happy to have her," Helen told 2GB's Ben Fordham.</p> <p>"She's the whole package, she's got breeding behind her, she has all herding ability, natural instinct. I just think she's a great asset to our team."</p> <p>Although Liz is an unusual name for a cattle dog, it is actually a tribute to the late Queen Elizabeth.</p> <p>"Joe named them and there's a bit of a story behind how Liz got her name. She was born the year that Queen Elizabeth passed away, so she's really upheld her name, she's the queen," Helen explained.</p> <p>The Rockhampton Working Dog trial and Sale was a success for Joe and Cabra Glebe Working Dogs, who managed to sell another dog, Jenny for $38,000. </p> <p><em>Image: Ray White Working dog sale Facebook</em></p> <p> </p>

Family & Pets

Placeholder Content Image

World's most disappointing tourist hotspots revealed

<p>While many travellers tend to flock to must-see tourists attractions while exploring somewhere new on their holiday, it turns out not everyone is impressed with the hype. </p> <p>A host of scathing online reviews have targeted landmarks such as Stonehenge, the Eiffel Tower, the Leaning Tower of Pisa and even Bondi Beach, calling the sites "unimpressive", "boring" and "pointless".</p> <p>According to travellers, there are 15 tourist hotspots that don't live up to the hype, with many leaving the destinations feeling disappointed. </p> <p><strong>Mona Lisa - Paris, France</strong></p> <p>One of the most "disappointing" attractions, according to travellers, is da Vinci's masterpiece the Mona Lisa, which hangs in the Louvre in the French capital city. </p> <p>According to online reviews, nearly four in ten (37.1 per cent) visitors posted negative comments about visiting the work, saying it did not live up to their expectations. </p> <p>One review left on TripAdvisor described the experience as "a bit boring", adding, "The Mona Lisa was very small and not as beautiful as I thought it would be."</p> <p>Several other reviews stated how irritating the experience of actually seeing the artwork was, with one person claiming the Louvre had a "zoo-like atmosphere".</p> <p><strong>The Eiffel Tower - Paris, France</strong></p> <p>Tourists visiting France were double disappointed, after also being let down by the iconic Eiffel Tower, which many described as "not a very special place... it's just an iron building."</p> <p>"It's boring, nothing special about it. You have to wait in a long queue just to go up and take pictures," another person wrote. </p> <p>Others claimed the landmark is nothing but a "tourist trap", claiming it is "seriously underwhelming".</p> <p><strong>Stonehenge - England</strong></p> <p>For many, Stonehenge continues to be a wonder of mystery, as one of the most architecturally sophisticated ancient stone sculptures in the world, but for others, it's just a "big disappointment". </p> <p>One reviewer went so far as to say it was the "biggest disappointment of my life", saying, "I was expecting so much more. Do not waste your time people. The only magical thing about this place is that somehow it has the power to draw people on to look at it."</p> <p>Another person put simply, "It's a pile of rocks. Pointless."</p> <p><strong>The Leaning Tower of Pisa - Italy </strong></p> <p>While many tourists visiting Italy opt to check out the famous leaning tower, others tend to lean away from it, calling it a "tourist trap". </p> <p>One person reviewed the famous landmark, saying, "It's literally just a leaning tower. I wouldn’t make a stop here just to see it. It is overly crowded and hot in the summertime."</p> <p>Others claim they were hassled by countless street sellers, writing, "The whole area is crawling with at times aggressive street hawkers who feel it is OK to keep hassling and trying to sell you tourist crap."</p> <p><strong>Checkpoint Charlie - Berlin, Germany</strong></p> <p>Set up as a reminder of the former border crossing and the partition between East and West Berlin during the Cold War, Checkpoint Charlie is often known as a must-see spot. </p> <p>However, others have been left feeling let down by the historic spot. </p> <p>One traveller rated the site just one star, writing, "The only place in Berlin where we encountered street traders who were deeply unpleasant. The museum is overpriced and very tired. The whole area was uninspiring and a complete waste of our time."</p> <p><strong>The Empire State Building - New York City, USA</strong></p> <p>Every year, thousands of people pay to head to the top of the iconic Empire State Building to catch a glimpse of the New York City skyline. </p> <p>However, given the over-crowding of the observation platform and the hefty cost to enter, many have left feeling "underwhelmed" and "ripped-off".</p> <p>One person reviewed the landmark, writing, "Wow! What a waste of $185 for a family of three to struggle to fight our way to finally see a view obscured by a metal crisscross railing. Long lines, rude staff, cheesy "museum", and overpriced. It's as bad as an amusement park."</p> <p><strong>Bondi Beach - Sydney, Australia</strong></p> <p>A trip to Bondi Beach is often at the top of a tourist's travel itinerary when heading Down Under for the first time.</p> <p>But as the beach gains popularity, travellers have been increasingly underwhelmed by the picturesque beach given the over-crowding. </p> <p>One review read, "The beach is all the hype and show but it's like having a bath with your entire family and a dozen strangers. It's packed on any normal day and should be regulated with a fence line and tickets so it's not like cramming sardines into a can."</p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images </em></p>

Travel Trouble

Placeholder Content Image

Does hosting the Olympics, the World Cup or other major sports events really pay off?

<div class="theconversation-article-body"><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/ivan-savin-678930">Ivan Savin</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/escp-business-school-813">ESCP Business School</a></em></p> <p>After a long battle, <a href="https://www.france24.com/en/europe/20240213-paris-booksellers-stay-olympics-macron-bouquiniste-france">Paris’s beloved <em>bouquinistes</em> will be staying put</a> this summer. The decision, announced on 13 February by the French government, came after considerable public backlash to the police prefecture’s original plan to move part of the iconic Seine booksellers elsewhere for the inauguration of the Olympics Games on 26 July.</p> <p>Meanwhile, less than six months away from the event, Parisians continue to grumble over a <a href="https://www.ouest-france.fr/jeux-olympiques/cest-aberrant-ce-maire-vient-dapprendre-que-sa-ville-accueillera-les-jeux-de-paris-ab1fa968-cfd1-11ee-89c0-6cefac77e04a">lack of consultations</a> with locals, warnings of <a href="https://www.rfi.fr/en/france/20231130-paris-vehicle-traffic-to-be-heavily-restricted-during-2024-olympic-games">gridlocked traffic</a>, closed metro stations, extensive video surveillance and other grievances. So for host countries, what was the point of the Olympics, again?</p> <p>In academia, the debate about the potential positive and negative effects of large-scale sporting events is ongoing. Although these events are often associated with substantial economic losses, the long-term benefits are the main argument in favour of hosting them. These include the development of material and soft infrastructure such as hotels, restaurants or parks. Big games can also help put the host region on the map as an attractive place for sports and cultural events, and inspire a better entrepreneurial climate.</p> <h2>The pros and the cons of big sporting events?</h2> <p>The cost of these benefits, as the Parisians have realised, is steep. Host countries appear to suffer from increased tax burdens, low returns on public investments, high construction costs, and onerous running cost of facilities after the event. Communities can also be blighted by noise, pollution, and damage to the environment, while increased criminal activity and potential conflicts between locals and visitors can take a toll on their quality of life. As a result, in the recent past several major cities, including Rome and Hamburg, <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/6-cities-that-rejected-the-olympics/a-46289852">withdrew their bids to host the games</a>.</p> <p>A common feature of the economics of large-scale sporting events is that our expectations of them are more optimistic than what we make of them once they have taken place. Typically, expenditure tends to tip over the original budget, while the revenue-side indicators (such as the number of visitors) are rarely achieved.</p> <p>When analysing the effect of hosting large-scale sporting events on tourist visits, it is important to take into consideration both the positive and negative components of the overall effect. While positive effects may be associated with visitors, negative effects may arise when “regular” tourists refuse to visit the location due to the event. This might be because of overloaded infrastructure, sharp increases in accommodation costs, and inconveniences associated with overcrowding or raucous or/and violent visitors. On top of that, reports of poverty or crime in the global media can actually undermine the location’s attractiveness.</p> <h2>When big sporting events crowd out regular tourists</h2> <p>In an <a href="https://doi.org/10.1177/1527002523120639">article published in the <em>Journal of Sports Economics</em></a> with Igor Drapkin and Ilya Zverev, I assess the effects of hosting large-scale sporting events, such as Winter and Summer Olympics plus FIFA World Cups, on international tourist visits. We utilise a comprehensive dataset on flow of tourists covering the world’s largest destination and origin countries between 1995 and 2019. As a first step, we built an econometric model that effectively predicts the flow of tourists between any pair of countries in our data. Subsequently we compared the predicted tourist inflow in a hypothetical scenario where no large-scale sporting event would have taken place with the actual figures. If the actual figures exceed the predicted ones, we consider the event to have a net positive impact. Otherwise, we consider that it had a “crowding out” effect on “regular” tourists. While conducting this analysis, we distinguished between short-term (i.e., focusing just on the year of the event) and mid-term (year of the event plus three subsequent years).</p> <p>Our results show that the effects of large-scale sporting events vary a lot across host countries: The World Cup in Japan and South Korea 2002 and South Africa 2010 were associated with a distinct increase in tourist arrivals, whereas all other World Cups were either neutral or negative. Among the Summer Olympics, China in 2008 is the only case with a significant positive effect on tourist inflows. The effects of the other four events (Australia 2000, Greece 2004, Great Britain 2012, and Brazil 2016) were found to be negative in the short- and medium-term. As for the Winter Olympics, the only positive case is Russia in 2014. The remaining five events had a negative impact except the one-year neutral effect for Japan 1998.</p> <p>Following large-scale sporting events, host countries are therefore typically less visited by tourists. Out of the 18 hosting countries studied, 11 saw tourist numbers decline over four years, and three did not experience a significant change.</p> <h2>The case for cautious optimism</h2> <p>Our research indicates that the positive effect of hosting large-scale sporting events on tourist inflows is, at best, moderate. While many tourists are attracted by FIFA World Cups and Olympic games, the crowding-out effect of “regular” tourists is strong and often underestimated. This implies that tourists visiting for an event like the Olympics typically dissuade those who would have come for other reasons. Thus, efforts to attract new visitors should be accompanied by efforts to retain the already existing ones.</p> <p>Large-scale sporting events should be considered as part of a long-term policy for promoting a territory to tourists rather than a standalone solution. Revealingly, our results indicate that it is easier to get a net increase in tourist inflows in countries that are less frequent destinations for tourists – for example, those in Asia or Africa. By contrast, the United States and Europe, both of which are traditionally popular with tourists, have no single case of a net positive effect. Put differently, the large-scale sporting events in Asia and Africa helped promote their host countries as tourist destinations, making the case for the initial investment. In the US and Europe, however, those in the last few decades brought little return, at least in terms of tourist inflow.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/222118/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/ivan-savin-678930">Ivan Savin</a>, Associate professor of quantitative analytics, research fellow at ICTA-UAB, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/escp-business-school-813">ESCP Business School</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images </em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/does-hosting-the-olympics-the-world-cup-or-other-major-sports-events-really-pay-off-222118">original article</a>.</em></p> </div>

Travel Tips

Placeholder Content Image

Teen with Down Syndrome sets new world record

<p>A 19-year-old teen with Down Syndrome has conquered the London Marathon and became a Guinness World Record after just five months of training. </p> <p>Lloyd Martin from Cardiff completed the 42.1 km course across the capital with his mother cheering him on. </p> <p>Guinness World Record has awarded him the certificate for becoming the youngest person in his learning disability category to finish a marathon. </p> <p>"I'm so excited to run London. I love being fit and healthy and I want to make my family and friends proud," the teenager said. </p> <p>Mum Ceri Hooper also told the<em> BBC</em> how proud she was of her son's accomplishment. </p> <p>"In Lloyd's words, it's achieving his dream," she said. </p> <p>"Really anything is possible if you put your mind to it. With a bit of work, you can achieve it."</p> <p>Recalling the experience, the proud mum said: "He ran continuously for 14 miles which is the longest he's ever run before." </p> <p>Although Lloyd walked for a bit after his 14-mile-long streak, the crowd cheered him on every step of the way, and despite the challenge the mother-and-son duo had "a ball". </p> <p>The pair were at a loss for words when he finally crossed the finish line and they both "burst into tears." </p> <p>Lloyd is also now the third Welsh Special Olympics athlete to compete in the London Marathon. </p> <p>Prior to completing the world-famous marathon, Lloyed had completed an astonishing 30 Parkruns. </p> <p>Until last Christmas the teenager had never run further than three miles, but his mother was determined to get him marathon-ready. </p> <p>Ceri, who has taken on the London Marathon four times, created a specialised training regime for her son which included weekly runs. </p> <p>Lloyd managed to secure a spot in the marathon thanks to the help of the Special Olympics GB, where he is also a footballer and a gymnast. </p> <p><em>Images: Facebook/ Twitter</em></p>

Caring

Placeholder Content Image

World's most expensive house up for sale

<p>A French chateau, once owned by a member of the Rothschild family and, later on, the King of Morocco, has gone up for sale with a £363 million (AU$699) price tag. </p> <p>Chateau d’Armainvilliers located at Seine-et-Marne, 48km east of the Eiffel Tower, is the world's most expensive home. </p> <p>Built upon the foundations of a 12th century castle, the sprawling mansion boasts 1,000 hectares of land, 100 rooms across 2,500 square metres of living space, a private lake, and plenty of sequoia trees - the largest trees in the world. </p> <p>Ignace Meuwissen, a self-acclaimed "real estate advisor to the global elite" described the property as a display of "opulence and grandeur".</p> <p>"It is the most expensive castle in France and perhaps in the world. The price of €425million is justified by the property itself but also by the 1,000 hectare land which offers numerous possibilities," he told Paris Match magazine. </p> <p>"An investor could build thousands of apartments there if he wanted."</p> <p>The chateau was first bought by the Rothschild banking empird in the late 19th century, before King Hassan II of Morocco bought it in the 1980s. </p> <p>He then made the chateau more fit for a king, adding a hammam spa, a beauty and hairdressing salon, and a fully-equipped medical and dental facility.</p> <p>The Moroccan King  also added a basement level, which has a network of tunnels, kitchens, cold rooms, storage spaces and staff quarters.</p> <p>The lucky owner will also find Moroccan mosaics and wall tiles decorating the home, and for any avid equestrians, the home also has a stable big enough for 50 horses. </p> <p>However, some luxury property agents have expressed their doubts on whether the property would sell with its nine-figure sum, with one saying it was an "unrealistic" price tag. </p> <p>"It doesn’t make sense, it’s absurd Properties of this type could sell for 20-25 million, or even 30 million if we really fall in love with them. I’m not even sure that Vaux-le-Vicomte (a Baroque French château), which has no marketing plans, would sell at this price," one agent told French real estate publication <em>Le Figaro Immobilier</em>.</p> <p>Others were unsure whether the changes made by the King in the 1980s would suit modern tastes. </p> <p><em>Images: Whisper Auctions</em></p>

Real Estate

Placeholder Content Image

The most boring tourist attractions in the world revealed

<p>Nobody wants waste their time and energy visiting a boring attraction while travelling, so a new study has analysed 66.7 million Google reviews and compiled a list of the top 100 most boring attractions across the globe so you can enjoy a holiday free from the mundane. </p> <p>The study conducted by Solitaired, was based on 3,290 popular tourist attractions worldwide spanning 384 cities across 71 different countries. </p> <p>A boredom score was calculated for each site, based on 11 keywords indicative of tiresome, lifeless and boring impressions. </p> <p>At the top of the list was Branson Scenic Railway in Missouri, with a boredom score of five out of five. The heritage railroad departs from an old depot in downtown Branson and travels through part of the Ozark Mountains on a 40-mile round trip. </p> <p>While some praised the beautiful foliage, others were unimpressed by the views "limited to trees on both sides of the train." </p> <p>Illuminarium Atlanta, in Georgia U.S. came in second place, with a boredom score of 4.5, with one reviewer saying that it was "cool for about the first 15 minutes" and "after that… just boring." </p> <p>In third place is Tennessee's Jurassic Jungle Boat Ride, an indoor attraction that takes visitors through a river passing artificial cave sets, waterfalls and mechanical dinosaurs, which scored 3.7 on the boredom scale. </p> <p>Australia's least interesting attraction, which came in 16th on the list and scored 2.5 on the boredom scale, is the WA Museum Boola Bardip in Perth, which tells stories of WA through interactive exhibits. </p> <p>This is followed by the Legoland Discovery Centre in Melbourne, which ranked 24th on the list and had a score of 2.3</p> <p>The Museum of Sydney came in 32nd place, with a score of 2.2, while the Museum of Transport and Technology in Auckland, New Zealand came in 54th place with a score of 2.1. </p> <p>Check out the full list <a href="https://www.dailymail.co.uk/travel/article-13310853/Most-boring-attractions-world-Shrek-Adventure-London.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener">here</a>. </p> <p><em>Image: Getty</em></p> <p> </p>

International Travel

Placeholder Content Image

The world reacts to OJ Simpson's death

<p>The news of OJ Simpson's passing at the age of 76 brings a mixture of emotions for those who remember the electrifying running back, the celebrated athlete, and the central figure in one of the most infamous trials of the 20th century.</p> <p>Simpson, who passed away in Las Vegas, had been battling prostate cancer. His family announced the news <span style="font-family: -apple-system, BlinkMacSystemFont, 'Segoe UI', Roboto, Oxygen, Ubuntu, Cantarell, 'Open Sans', 'Helvetica Neue', sans-serif;">in a statement on Twitter (X)</span><span style="font-family: -apple-system, BlinkMacSystemFont, 'Segoe UI', Roboto, Oxygen, Ubuntu, Cantarell, 'Open Sans', 'Helvetica Neue', sans-serif;">: “On April 10th, our father, Orenthal James Simpson, succumbed to his battle with cancer. </span>He was surrounded by his children and grandchildren. During this time of transition, his family asks that you please respect their wishes for privacy and grace. – The Simpson Family.”</p> <p>In 2023 Simpson said on X that he had been diagnosed with a type of cancer and in February he said he was undergoing chemotherapy for prostate cancer.</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet"> <p dir="ltr" lang="en">On April 10th, our father, Orenthal James Simpson, succumbed to his battle with cancer.</p> <p>He was surrounded by his children and grandchildren. </p> <p>During this time of transition, his family asks that you please respect their wishes for privacy and grace.</p> <p>-The Simpson Family</p> <p>— O.J. Simpson (@TheRealOJ32) <a href="https://twitter.com/TheRealOJ32/status/1778430029350707380?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">April 11, 2024</a></p></blockquote> <p>Simpson's life was a narrative of triumph and tragedy, marked by soaring highs on the football field and plummeting lows in the court of public opinion.</p> <p>Born in 1947, Simpson overcame early health struggles to become a football sensation at the University of Southern California, where he captured the prestigious Heisman Trophy as college football's top player. His prowess on the gridiron led to a record-setting career in the NFL with the Buffalo Bills and the San Francisco 49ers, cementing his status as one of the era's most beloved and iconic athletes.</p> <p>Off the field, Simpson's charm and charisma propelled him into the realms of sportscasting, advertising, and Hollywood, where he starred in films like the <em>Naked Gun</em> series. His magnetic personality endeared him to fans and advertisers alike, making him a household name beyond the realm of sports.</p> <p>However, Simpson's life took a dark turn on June 12, 1994, when the bodies of his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend, Ronald Goldman, were discovered in a brutal scene outside Brown's Los Angeles home. What followed was a media frenzy and one of the most sensational trials in American history.</p> <p>In a trial that captivated the nation, Simpson stood accused of the double murder, a crime that shook the foundations of celebrity culture and racial dynamics in America. The prosecution painted a picture of a jealous ex-husband driven to violence, while the defence argued that Simpson was framed by a corrupt and racist police force.</p> <p>The trial's climax came with the now-iconic moment when Simpson struggled to put on a pair of blood-stained gloves found at the crime scene, leading defence attorney Johnnie Cochran to famously declare, "If it doesn't fit, you must acquit."</p> <p>Despite overwhelming evidence presented by the prosecution, Simpson was acquitted by a predominantly black jury, sparking debates about race, justice and the power of celebrity.</p> <p>While Simpson walked free from the criminal trial, he faced a different fate in civil court. The families of Brown and Goldman pursued a wrongful death lawsuit against him, resulting in a verdict that found Simpson liable for the deaths and ordered him to pay millions in damages. The civil trial, with its lower burden of proof, delivered a measure of closure to the victims' families but left a stain on Simpson's legacy that would endure.</p> <p>Simpson's legal troubles didn't end there. In 2008, he was convicted of armed robbery and kidnapping in a separate incident in Las Vegas, stemming from an attempt to reclaim sports memorabilia he believed was rightfully his. The irony of a man once celebrated for his athletic prowess now facing the consequences of his actions was not lost on the public.</p> <p>Despite his legal battles and personal demons, Simpson remained a polarising figure until the end. His life story was revisited in documentaries and TV dramas, serving as a cautionary tale of fame, wealth and the consequences of one's choices.</p> <p>Reactions to Simpson's passing have been varied. Fred Goldman, the father of Ronald Goldman, who was murdered alongside Nicole Brown Simpson in 1994, expressed his sentiments succinctly, stating, "It’s no great loss to the world. It’s a further reminder of Ron’s being gone.<span style="font-family: -apple-system, BlinkMacSystemFont, 'Segoe UI', Roboto, Oxygen, Ubuntu, Cantarell, 'Open Sans', 'Helvetica Neue', sans-serif;">" </span></p> <p>Similarly, Caitlyn Jenner, with personal ties to the case through her ex-wife Kris Jenner's previous marriage to Robert Kardashian, offered a terse "Good riddance" on Twitter, highlighting the deep-seated emotions surrounding Simpson's life and deeds.</p> <p>Gloria Allred, who represented Nicole Brown Simpson's family during the infamous trial, took a broader perspective, pointing out that Simpson's death serves as a reminder of the failures of the justice system, particularly in cases involving gender violence. “Simpson’s death reminds us that the legal system even 30 years later is still failing battered women," she said to TMZ, "and that the power of celebrity men to avoid true justice for the harm that they inflict on their wives or significant others is still a major obstacle to the right of women to be free of the gender violence to which they are still subjected."</p> <p>Legendary basketballer Magic Johnson took a different approach, extending his prayers to Simpson's surviving children and grandchildren: "Cookie and I are praying for O.J. Simpson’s children Arnelle, Aaren, Justin, Jason, and Sydney and his grandchildren following his passing. I know this is a difficult time🙏🏾".</p> <p><em>Images: Getty</em></p>

Caring

Our Partners