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Pay peanuts for business class quality: New economy travel option a game-changer for long-haul flights

<p>A mum travelling with her two young children and her partner has shocked other travellers by bringing their attention to an economy upgrade available on Air New Zealand flights.</p> <p>It’s known as the “SkyCouch” and will leave you forgetting all about the temptation of travelling in business or first class.</p> <p>Melbourne mum Adele Barbaro posted about the economy upgrade on Facebook, where it garnered more than 23,000 comments with curious travellers asking about the experience.</p> <p>“We got to experience the Air New Zealand Skycouch on our way here and for those that don’t know what it is, it is a unique economy option where your entire row becomes a bed,” Adele wrote alongside images of herself and her family using the pullout bed.</p> <p>“If there is 2 of you travelling, you can purchase a third seat at half price and you will get the entire row to yourself.</p> <p>“The legs rest all rise to meet the chair in front and create a completely flat, large play or sleep area.</p> <p>“Paul and Harvey had a bed and so did Chloe and I. It’s the next best thing to business (but way cheaper) and perfect for long haul flights with young families. And we all slept.”</p> <p><iframe src="https://www.facebook.com/plugins/post.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2FTheRealMumma%2Fposts%2F893564864353449&amp;width=500" width="500" height="789" style="border: none; overflow: hidden;" scrolling="no" frameborder="0" allowtransparency="true" allow="encrypted-media"></iframe></p> <p>The upgrade allows a row of seats to be turned into a couch or a bed after take-off. This means that you’re able to take advantage of the entire row and can use it to lounge or rest on your flight.</p> <p>Passengers are able to purchase the flight add-on from $200 each way (based on a Sydney to Los Angeles flight) when three people have booked the seat row.</p> <p>There’s not a separate price for SkyCouch, as Air New Zealand charges for one economy seat plus the additional fee. However, it will cost you more if you’re travelling alone as you’re reserving the whole row.</p> <p>Many parents have praised the economy upgrade.</p> <p>“Best thing we did was get the sky couch for our holiday kids slept 7 out of 14 hour flight that’s a win for me,” one person wrote.</p> <p>“Skycouch was amazing on our recent trip to USA,” another added. “I wish every airline would allow this.”</p>

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Are you a frequent flyer? Solar storm radiation can be harmful

<p>Space weather <a href="https://theconversation.com/solar-eruption-could-help-earth-prepare-for-technology-melt-down-18747">impacts</a> many modern-day technologies. But one of the most concerning – and least reported – space weather effects is the increased radiation exposure to passengers on commercial long-distance flights during so-called “<a href="http://www.spaceweather.com/glossary/srs.html">solar radiation storms</a>”.</p> <p>The NASA-funded Nowcast of Atmospheric Ionizing Radiation System (<a href="http://sol.spacenvironment.net/~nairas/">NAIRAS</a>) is the computer system tasked with providing a real-time data-driven climatology of the aviation radiation environment.</p> <p>Recently, a series of papers published in the journal [Space Weather] estimate that when NAIRAS was turned off during the US government shutdown last year – which went into effect just as a solar radiation storm began – <a href="http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/2013SW001015/abstract">500,000 people</a> received increased radiation doses.</p> <p>It has also been estimated that this event is likely to eventually result in four cancer-related deaths.</p> <p><strong>What is a solar radiation storm?</strong></p> <p>Disturbances on the surface of the sun are commonly the cause of geomagnetic disturbances here on Earth; such as power grid faults/failures and increased errors in GPS navigation and positioning.</p> <p>Associated with some of these solar disturbances is the ejection of extremely fast plasma into the solar wind that, when aimed directly towards the Earth, causes the onset of increased geomagnetic and ionospheric activity.</p> <p>The Earth-bound solar energetic particles ejected into the solar wind eventually penetrate into the Earth’s magnetosphere.</p> <p>When inside the magnetosphere, they orbit the planet across the Earth’s magnetic field lines until they are scattered by various complicated magnetospheric processes and interactions.</p> <p>Once scattered, these solar particles then travel down the magnetic field lines until they impact the Earth’s upper atmosphere, where they are effectively absorbed.</p> <p>The penetration depth of these particles primarily depends on their kinetic energy, which is governed by their mass and velocity.</p> <p>The less energetic particles are stopped by the Earth’s atmosphere typically between 100 and 400km altitude, causing the well-known <a href="http://spaceweathergallery.com/aurora_gallery.html">aurora</a> in the northern and southern high-latitude regions.</p> <p>The atmosphere increases in density exponentially as the particle falls. This normally prevents particles penetrating to lower altitudes where they are harmful to living organisms.</p> <p>The more energetic particles, called “solar energetic particles”, caused by these solar disturbances can <a href="http://www.dartmouth.edu/~barrel/index.html">penetrate</a> to below 10km, near of commercial flights.</p> <p>During such events, the danger posed by the increased radiation levels is easily averted by decreasing the cruising altitudes of the aircraft. Pilots can also divert their flight paths to areas less affected by the increased radiation levels (more equatorward latitudes).</p> <p><strong>Several chest X-rays worth of radiation</strong></p> <p>The aviation radiation monitoring performed in real-time by computer systems such as NAIRAS can effectively be used to issue such warnings to aircraft.</p> <p>This will help remove the threat posed to hundreds of thousands of people across the globe during such space weather events.</p> <p>The geomagnetic activity levels associated with the solar radiation storm that occurred during the US government shutdown were only minor (a minimum <a href="https://theconversation.com/solar-eruption-could-help-earth-prepare-for-technology-melt-down-18747">Dst</a> of -54nT).</p> <p>This means the technologies normally classified as being <a href="https://theconversation.com/divert-power-to-shields-the-solar-maximum-is-coming-11228">vulnerable</a> to extreme space weather events are not likely to have been significantly affected.</p> <p>The solar energetic particle levels observed by <a href="http://www.ngdc.noaa.gov/stp/satellite/goes/index.html">geostationary satellites</a> classifies this as an <a href="http://www.spaceweather.com/glossary/srs.html">S2</a>solar radiation storm. It lasted more than 24 hours, and took about four days to fully subside (see video below).</p> <p>Some controversy exists around the exact method used by the scientists of the first <a href="http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/2013SW001015/abstract">study</a>into this event. There has been doubt around the estimation of the number of eventual cancer fatalities related to this solar radiation storm.</p> <p>Even though the radiation levels air travellers were exposed to during this event are much higher than they might have been had an appropriate warning been issued, they were still comparatively low – on par with the dose that one would receive from a number of chest X-rays.</p> <p>Arguments put forward by some <a href="http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/2014SW001074/abstract">researchers</a> err on the side of caution. They indicate that some people who would be considered more vulnerable to increased radiation exposure (such as frequent flyers and unborn children) should have access to this radiation monitoring information.</p> <p>This would enable them to make educated decisions about appropriate air travel times in much the same way that non-urgent X-rays may be postponed during pregnancy.</p> <p><a href="http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/2014SW001061/abstract">Other researchers</a> have erred on the opposite side, with the view that the radiation doses during this event were too small to be considered a serious threat.</p> <p>Independent of whether or not this particular space weather event exposed air travellers to dangerous levels of radiation, these studies are in clear agreement that increasing radiation monitoring is a must in the future.</p> <p>This is especially important for the aviation industry, and the provision of such information must not be hindered by short-term political partisan interests.</p> <p><em>Written by Brett Carter. Republished with permission of </em><a href="https://theconversation.com/are-you-a-frequent-flyer-solar-storm-radiation-can-be-harmful-28775"><em>The Conversation</em></a><em>. </em></p>

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How to increase train use by up to 35% with one simple trick

<p>Train riders have to get to stations somehow. This is often referred to as the “first mile” or “last mile” problem. There are many technical solutions to help travellers get from home to the station and back, ranging from cars to electronic scooters, but most people use a much older technology, their feet, to get from A to B. What is seldom considered is access to the train platform itself.</p> <p>Stations are not points but places. They occupy a large area. A person walking at average speed takes about two minutes to walk from one end of a full-length eight-car train to the other.</p> <p>Often platforms have a single access point on one side of the station, which makes it more difficult for people on the other side of the station to get to the platform. Passengers may need to almost circumnavigate the station to get to the platform. At an average walking speed, the extra distance they must backtrack adds up to six minutes per trip each way, <a href="http://hdl.handle.net/2123/20286">our research</a> has found.</p> <p>Imagine being so unlucky to have an extra 12 minutes of travel time every day if you take the train. You might be tempted to drive instead.</p> <p>The average time for such a one-sided configuration of train stations is 3.25 minutes each way.</p> <p>While this example is hypothetical, it is drawn from experience in Sydney, where 44 of 178 train stations have only a single side entrance.</p> <p><strong>So what impact will a second entrance have?</strong></p> <p>We examined those stations and access to their platforms: how many people lived within 5, 10 and 15 minutes of the station platform, considering actual entrance location, and how many jobs were within 5, 10 and 15 minutes of the platform. Using existing ridership data from Opal cards, we estimated a model that related the passenger entry and exit flows at each station to that station’s accessibility.</p> <p>We sketched a second entrance at those 44 stations and measured accessibility again. It’s now higher, as having two entrances instead of one means more people can reach the platform in the same time. We then estimated the increase in ridership from the model due to the improved accessibility, assuming no change in population or employment.</p> <p>Over all 44 stations, total morning peak period entries increased by 5%. But some stations benefit a lot, and others not at all, so prioritisation of investments matters.</p> <p>It will be no surprise to locals that Erskineville station comes out on top with a nearly 35% increase. While many of the new apartment-dwelling residents west of the station make the extra hike every day, even more would catch the train if there were a convenient entrance.</p> <p>Other top 10 stations include: Bankstown, Newtown, Villawood, Redfern, Burwood, Sydneham, Caringbah, Meadowbank and Penshurst. Planning is already under way to <a href="https://www.smh.com.au/national/nsw/redfern-station-on-track-for-new-lifts-as-part-of-100m-upgrade-20190226-p510ba.html">improve Redfern station</a>.</p> <p>While this result considers existing development, adding a second entrance can make new transit-oriented development that much more valuable. This is because it will likely increase activity on the previously less accessible side of the station, as the example of Erskineville shows below.</p> <p>Other considerations include accessibility for people who cannot use staircases, as many of the stations are older and will require lifts. The <a href="https://theconversation.com/500m-for-station-car-parks-other-transport-solutions-could-do-much-more-for-the-money-114908">prospects of park-and-ride lots</a>, the costs of construction, the presence of nearby stations, and site feasibility also play into final decisions.</p> <p>Our formal findings and detailed methods are written up in this report: <a href="http://hdl.handle.net/2123/20286">Catchment if you can: The effect of station entrance and exit locations on accessibility</a>.</p> <p><em>Written by David Levinson and Bahman Lahoorpoor. Republished with permission of </em><a href="https://theconversation.com/how-to-increase-train-use-by-up-to-35-with-one-simple-trick-115222"><em>The Conversation</em></a><em>. </em></p>

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Which transport is the fairest of them all?

<p>How did you get to where you need to be today? Car, bike, public transport, or perhaps walking?</p> <p>Transport is one of the biggest sources of greenhouse gas emissions, globally and in Australia. The <a href="http://www.ipcc.ch/pdf/assessment-report/ar5/wg3/ipcc_wg3_ar5_summary-for-policymakers.pdf">latest IPCC report</a> finds transport accounted for around 14% of global greenhouse gas emissions in 2010. The <a href="http://www.environment.gov.au/system/files/resources/d616342d-775f-4115-bcfa-2816a1da77bf/files/nggi-quarterly-update-dec13.pdf">latest figures in Australia</a> show transport contributed to 17% of Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions in 2013.</p> <p>The good news is that by altering our behaviour, we can choose modes of transport that emit less greenhouse gases.</p> <p><strong>Measuring sustainability</strong></p> <p>When it comes to environmental sustainability, the obvious way to measure this is through the emissions that various modes of transport emit. Gross data such as the above examples show that road-based modes like lorries, buses and cars emit the most greenhouse gases, accounting for over two-thirds of the transport total in the EU. It would be easy then to assume that modes such as rail are the greener option.</p> <p>But the real measure comes from how energy-efficient a particular vehicle is as it carries a person a particular distance. Noted transport sustainability <a href="http://www.gci.org.uk/Documents/E6-40-04-021.pdf">researcher David Banister</a>calculates relative amounts of energy that different modes of transport consume, but adjusts for carrying capacity (maximum number of passengers the vehicle can accommodate) and the distance each passenger is carried on average. By taking the number of passengers and dividing it by the distance they are carried, Banister has calculated the megajoules consumed “per passenger kilometre”.</p> <p>For obvious reasons, cycling and walking are hands-down winners in energy efficiency (and hence pollutants). They consume 0.06 and 0.16 megajoules per passenger kilometre travelled respectively. However these modes of transport obviously only carry limited passengers per “vehicle” (usually one) over relatively small distances.</p> <p>What comes next is interesting: tram light rail is the next most efficient (0.91), with the bus coming in just behind (0.92). It beats heavy rail (based on London Underground, 1.69), and rail electric and diesel (1.65). This includes all other passenger rail: that which runs on electricity — most light rail — and that which runs on diesel fuel.</p> <p>Motorcycles come next (1.73), followed by cars (2.10), Boeing 727s (2.42), and lorries and taxis (2.94). This ordering is roughly confirmed by other sources such as the <a href="http://epp.eurostat.ec.europa.eu/statistics_explained/index.php/Transport_energy_consumption_and_emissions">European Energy Authority</a>.</p> <p><strong>But in the real world…</strong></p> <p>In an ideal world, the ranking above stands. But in the real world how we actually use transport significantly affects sustainability.</p> <p>For example, full buses travelling longer will be significantly more efficient in relative terms than empty buses travelling short spans.</p> <p>Operating conditions for vehicles, such as stop-and-start traffic conditions and weather, all affect efficiency and there can be wide variation for a given mode of transport across different cities.</p> <p>The source of fuel is also very important. Banister, amongst others, argues that Electric Vehicles (EVs) using electricity generated by renewable (e.g. solar) rather than coal or other carbon based fuel, may well become the most green of modes in future, even for single occupancy travel.</p> <p>Additionally, the rise of car-sharing and other capacity sharing will, if widely adopted, <a href="http://web.mit.edu/dusp/dusp_extension_unsec/projections/issue_9/issue_9_banister.pd">decrease passenger kilometre</a> measures of emissions for motorised vehicles.</p> <p><strong>More to sustainability than emissions</strong></p> <p>The discussion thus far has focused on emissions and operations. But it is important to remember that the environmental sustainability of the transport system as a whole is most important.</p> <p>For example, different modes of transport need to be environmentally assessed across their whole life-cycle from production through operation to decommissioning and disposal. “Externalities” other than emissions need to be included (e.g. the amount of land needed for car parking, and noise).</p> <p>Of course freight movement as well as passenger travel also needs to be examined (see detailed data on both for Australia <a href="https://www.bitre.gov.au/publications/2009/files/wp_073.pdf">here</a>). There are <a href="http://center.sustainability.duke.edu/sites/default/files/documents/transportation_indicators.pdf">many potential measures</a> of such things but there is still a long way to go to filling these measures in.</p> <p>To completely determine what is the most “sustainable” way to travel, we must also look at things other than just environmental sustainability. In its broadest sense, “sustainable transport” is the the ability of a total transport system to maintain itself over time. This <a href="http://www.epa.gov/smartgrowth/pdf/Sustainable_Transpo_Performance.pdf">includes</a> financial, economic, social, community and environmental aspects.</p> <p>If a transport system fails on any of these particular dimensions, it can be said to be unsustainable; sooner or later it will require significant external intervention to keep functioning. A transit system may carry passengers cleanly and efficiently, but if there are growing pockets of disadvantaged people who cannot readily access transit, one could say the system is “socially” unsustainable.</p> <p>The bottom-line is that there needs to be more “active” travel (walking and cycling) and mass transit for a more sustainable transport system. And one should not have a blanket bias against motorised road modes of transport, such as buses. These can be a cost-effective part of any policy solution and can be greener than some might think.</p> <p>What we really need is better land-use planning to reduce the need for more transport. Because ultimately, the most “sustainable” travel option is to have less travel overall.</p>

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The Medicare mistake that's costing travellers thousands

<p>Medicare has helped Aussies cover the cost of many essential medical and hospital expenses – but the safety net could only expand so far.</p> <p>Many Australians are unsure whether Medicare covers them when they are going on trips. According to a new survey by Compare Travel Insurance, 82 per cent of travellers do not know whether the health care system provides the same level of protection for them on a domestic cruise.</p> <p>The answer is quite tricky. The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade said cruise passengers can access Medicare benefits only if they are travelling between two Australian ports with no stops outside the country. You also have to be treated by a Medicare-accredited doctor.</p> <p>Medicare will not cover passengers making journeys between an Australian port and a foreign port or between two foreign ports.</p> <p><a rel="noopener" href="https://smartraveller.gov.au/guide/all-travellers/getting-around/Pages/cruises.aspx" target="_blank">Smartraveller</a> advised travellers to check before their trip if their ship has a Medicare-accredited medical professional onboard. However, that may not be enough to ensure that you’re covered, said Compare Travel Insurance director Natalie Ball.</p> <p>“It’s astounding to see how many Aussies are under the misconception that Medicare covers you while cruising domestically,” Ball said.</p> <p>“In fact, Medicare coverage is restricted to around 20km from Australian ports, which means that once you’re out on the water, you’re on your own in terms of healthcare.”</p> <p>Ball warned that medical costs on a cruise ship can be far more expensive than passengers expected. “With passengers restricted to health care on board, medical costs and doctors’ fees on a ship can be unexpectedly pricey,” she said.</p> <p>“Infirmary bills can be as much as $5,000 per day and consultations and medications are usually charged at private, costly rates. Then there are the frightening fees you’d expect to pay for helicopter evacuation while at sea.”</p> <p>Smartraveller advised holidaymakers to purchase travel insurance that covers onshore activities and shore excursions.</p> <p>Frank Armstrong said he managed to <a rel="noopener" href="https://cruisepassenger.com.au/how-i-survived-a-59000-heart-attack-on-a-cruise/" target="_blank">avoid a $59,000 bill</a> incurred on a cruise trip between Australia and America thanks to his travel insurance.</p> <p>The 81-year-old, who was travelling with his wife Leah on Ovation of the Seas, suffered a heart during his 16-day vacation. “It was a holiday filled with such excitement and then absolute disaster – I had a heart attack,” Armstrong said.</p> <p>“As soon as we reached land in Tahiti, an ambulance rushed me to the main hospital which had been informed of my situation. There was a cardiologist already waiting as I went straight into surgery where they operated on me for over two hours putting two stents into my arteries.</p> <p>“After the surgery I spent five days in hospital and five days recuperating. When I was fit to fly, I was flown back home to Australia which was all paid for by my travel insurer.”</p> <p>The total costs of medical treatments, hospital stay, cruise cancellation and flight rescheduling amounted to about $59,000. However, Armstrong’s medical claims were taken care as he had paid $1,100 for his travel insurance. “It’s hard to imagine how they would have covered these expenses had they not had travel insurance,” Ball said.</p>

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"Complaining has done nothing": Why taxis continue to refuse to take short fares

<p>The NSW Taxi Council wants to take a tougher stance on drivers who refuse to take passengers short distances which result in short fares, but people are saying that the taxi council are part of the problem.</p> <p>Many readers shared their experiences with<span> </span><a rel="noopener" href="https://www.news.com.au/finance/business/other-industries/uber-vs-taxis-taxi-drivers-refuse-to-drive-passengers-short-distances/news-story/5efe0d3c9a80699254f0318127489328" target="_blank">news.com.au</a><span> </span>with drivers refusing to take passengers short distances.</p> <p>“Few weeks ago, I tried to get a cab at 2 am in the city to Leichhardt (in Sydney’s inner west) and two drivers wouldn’t open doors and then drove off,” Scott Rhodie wrote.</p> <p>“I called the cab company, but they didn’t care.”</p> <p>The NSW Taxi Council wants to help deal with the problem and is aware that it’s an issue that faces the industry.</p> <p>“It is definitely an issue within our industry and it’s something we take quite seriously,” the body’s deputy chief executive Nick Abrahim told<span> </span><a rel="noopener" href="https://www.news.com.au/finance/business/other-industries/taxi-industry-accused-of-refusing-to-act-on-drivers-refusing-short-fares/news-story/e71d64b42a4990771bc7bcbef1561454" target="_blank">news.com.au</a>.</p> <p>“We want to tackle it head on and try and deal with it … because it’s not in the interest of good customer service.”</p> <p>Some people say that the Taxi Council is a part of the problem.</p> <p>“The ‘Taxi Council’ is actually a huge part of the problem,” said one reader.</p> <p>“Did absolutely zero for years — them and their partners never disciplined drivers. As an owner I can tell you that there are drivers working for the biggest Sydney taxi company who have multiple complaints.”</p> <p>Another reader said, “The moral is the taxi industry has no shortage of feedback on what needs to change for them to remain competitive, but they refuse to act.”</p> <p>Despite the Taxi Council being aware of the issue, readers are annoyed nothing is being done.</p> <p>“People have been complaining about this for years and been raising it with the taxi industry,” another reader said.</p> <p>“You know what, you didn’t care then so what’s going to be different now?</p> <p>“The only difference now is that there is a better model that you DON’T want to compete with because you're a lazy expecting industry.”</p> <p>Abrahim is trying to let people know that there are procedures in place in order to stamp out the behaviour that leaves passengers stranded on the side of the road.</p> <p>Any driver whose reported for avoiding short fares would be pilled in and given a counselling session if they were a first-time offender whereas repeat offenders could face instant dismissal.</p> <p>Abrahim admitted there were issues that needed to be faced but said that “everyone in the chain needs to do their part”. This is because complainants used to be able to complain directly to the NSW government but now have to complain straight to the taxi company.</p> <p>“The rules of the game have changed with regards to how a customer makes a complaint,” he said. “It’s a tighter and more informal process.”</p> <p>“Everyone in the chain needs to do their part,” he said.</p> <p>“The accountability needs to happen on all levels. The message needs to get through that we want to stamp out this behaviour and, in some cases, we need to get tougher.”</p>

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How will we travel the world in 2050?

<p>If the aviation industry was a country, it would rank among the world’s <a href="https://ec.europa.eu/clima/policies/transport/aviation_en">top ten emitters</a> of carbon dioxide (CO₂). Aviation emissions have risen by 70% since 2005 and as demand increases in rich and poorer countries, they’re forecast to increase by between 300% and 700% by 2050.</p> <p>Arresting this incline will be the first step towards a sustainable system of international travel – but how could it be done? A frequent flyer tax would be relatively easy to implement but it could mean <a href="https://theconversation.com/we-cant-expand-airports-after-declaring-a-climate-emergency-lets-shift-to-low-carbon-transport-instead-120740">the richest can still afford to fly</a> while the poorest are priced out.</p> <p>Most plane passengers are already relatively wealthy. Only <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/to-fly-or-not-to-fly-the-environmental-cost-of-air-travel/a-42090155">18% of the world’s population</a> have ever flown and in any given year, an elite 3% of the world flies. That’s about 230m people, but flights carried four billion passengers in 2017. So the average flyer takes eight return flights and aeroplanes rack up <a href="http://www.darrinqualman.com/global-air-travel-climate-change/">seven trillion air miles each year</a>.</p> <p>Rationing might be a fairer and more effective alternative.</p> <p><strong>Flight rationing</strong></p> <p>Every person could be allocated a maximum number of “flight kilometres” each year. This allowance would increase the longer a person abstained from flying. The first year allocation would be 500km, then the following year it would be 1,000km and would double every year. It would take seven years to accumulate enough to fly from the UK to Australia and back.</p> <p>Buying a ticket for a flight of any distance would reset the allocation rate to year one, but the kilometres saved in a “flight bank” could still be used. Anyone not travelling could exchange their flight kilometres for money, but anyone exceeding their ration could be fined or banned from flying for some time.</p> <p>Expanded and improved high-speed rail lines could also replace many flights. These journeys could be as fast as aeroplanes in some instances and <a href="https://theconversation.com/southampton-to-shanghai-by-train-one-climate-change-researchers-quest-to-avoid-flying-120015">emit 90% less CO₂</a>. Solar-powered train journeys are already a reality in Australia. The Byron Bay Company uses solar panels on trains and platforms to power onboard batteries and <a href="https://byronbaytrain.com.au/">exported 60,000kWh</a>to the grid last year.</p> <p>Coupling low-carbon train travel with flight rationing would limit emissions in the short term, but people are accustomed to travelling half the world in a matter of hours, often at relatively low cost. The demand won’t go away, so what could replace carbon-intensive air travel?</p> <p><strong>Electric aeroplanes</strong></p> <p>Most electric plane designs are grounded on the drawing board, but there are some flight-ready aircraft. The world’s first all-electric commercial airliner was unveiled in Paris in June 2019. The craft is called Alice and it carries nine passengers for up to 650 miles (1,040km) at 10,000ft (3,000 metres) at 276mph (440km/h) on a single charged battery. It’s expected to enter service in 2022.</p> <p>The fossil fuel costs of small aircraft are about <a href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-48630656">US$400 per 100 miles</a>. For Alice, the costs are projected to be as little as US$8 for the same distance, and if the electricity is from renewable energy – perhaps generated by solar panels at the airport – then the plane could be zero-carbon.</p> <p>How much energy each battery can store is <a href="https://ec.europa.eu/environment/integration/research/newsalert/pdf/towards_the_battery_of_the_future_FB20_en.pdf">increasing rapidly</a>. But there are also strategies which can make electric planes <a href="https://www.telegraph.co.uk/education/stem-awards/electrical/hybrid-electric-propulsion/">more efficient</a>. Capacitors are lightweight batteries that can hold a huge charge but only for short periods. They could be used for takeoff – the largest energy requirement of a flight – then more traditional batteries could power the majority of the flight.</p> <p>Innovation could deliver mass electric flight in the next few decades, but an alternative to fossil fuelled flight exists right now.</p> <p><strong>Bring back the zeppelin?</strong></p> <p>For as long as humans have <a href="http://www.historyofballoons.com/balloon-history/montgolfier-brothers/">taken to the skies</a> we’ve had a low carbon alternative to burning vast amounts of fossil fuels to keep us up there – balloons. The <a href="https://www.airships.net/hindenburg/disaster/">Hindenburg disaster</a> may have condemned the industry to relative obscurity for almost a century, but it has never really gone away.</p> <p>The balloons of most modern airships are filled with helium rather than the explosive hydrogen used in the Hindenburg. <a href="https://www.naturphilosophie.co.uk/helium-lighter-air/">Concentrated helium is lighter than air</a> and when divided into gas sacks, the vessel can stay aloft if any are breached while propellers powered by flexible solar panels can help navigation.</p> <p>Extracting enough helium fuel will be energy-intensive and there’s a <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2019/05/16/science/helium-shortage-party-city.html">looming global shortage</a>. Luckily, advances made since the Hindenburg now allow airships to fly on cylinders packed with hydrogen jet fuel, which is cheaper, lighter, and relatively abundant.</p> <p>Using hydrogen for fuel has become a lot safer since the 1930s – so much so that it’s now being considered for <a href="https://www.theengineer.co.uk/domestic-hydrogen-appliances/">use in the home</a>. Unlike jet aircraft, once airships are aloft they don’t need lots of energy to keep them there. At that point, the energy costs become <a href="https://www.withouthotair.com/cC/page_281.shtml">comparable with rail travel</a>.</p> <p>Airships won’t get passengers to their destinations very fast – the Hindenburg set the current record for a transatlantic crossing at <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/aug/20/hindenburg-zeppelin-new-york-frankfurt-archive-1936">just under 44 hours</a> – but they do allow time to <a href="https://www.thesun.co.uk/travel/6818676/airlander-10-blimp-luxury-bedrooms-en-suite-travel-plane/">enjoy stunning vistas</a>. Think of them instead as air cruises. In the romantic era of early commercial flight, airships were expected to become “<a href="https://medium.com/predict/flying-hotels-the-romantic-age-of-air-travel-blimps-zeppelins-dirigibles-63346f507bc7">flying hotels</a>” that could accommodate dining rooms and ballroom dances.</p> <p><strong>Orbital rings</strong></p> <p>There’s one more option, but you might struggle to believe it’s possible within the next thirty years. Still, the materials needed to build it already exist. An orbital ring is a strong steel cable in orbit just above the atmosphere – 80km above Earth. It rotates, creating forces which try to make the ring fly apart into space, while gravity tries to pull it down to Earth.</p> <p>If the ring is spun at the correct speed, the two forces balance one another, allowing it to rotate seemingly weightlessly. A “cuff” can be built around the cable which would hold itself in place, unmoving, by magnetic repulsion. The structure would be connected to the ground by cables, with an elevator giving access to the ring in less than an hour.</p> <p><a href="https://theconversation.com/can-magnetically-levitating-trains-run-at-3-000km-h-27615">Two Maglev train tracks</a> – which use magnets to move trains along without friction – on the underside of the ring and another on the outside could transport passengers at incredible speeds, reaching the other side of the world in 45 minutes.</p> <p>If these options sound unrealistic, then remember that our current course of expanding carbon-intensive air travel is unrealistic for avoiding catastrophic climate change. Bold ideas are one thing, we need radical action to revolutionise how we travel the world.</p> <p><em>Written by John Grant and Keith Baker. Republished with permission of </em><a href="https://theconversation.com/how-will-we-travel-the-world-in-2050-121713"><em>The Conversation</em></a><em>. </em></p>

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Taming the tigers: tourism in Asia to become a two-way street

<p>The rise of Chinese consumerism marks a new phase in the development of international tourism.</p> <p>Australia is the first western developed country dealing with the challenges and opportunities of mass travel to and from China. As Chinese travellers spread their wings, others will observe our attempts to navigate cross-cultural exchanges with an emerging global superpower.</p> <p>According to <a href="http://www.mots.go.th/ewtadmin/ewt/mots_km/download/article/Knowledge_Base/Tourism/long_term_thai.pdf">figures</a> from the World Tourism Organisation, by 2020, East Asia and the Pacific will receive 397 million international arrivals, double the 2010 figure. China will receive a third of these (130 million) making it the world’s leading destination. 100 million Chinese will travel overseas.</p> <p>Within China itself, 2.6 billion domestic arrivals were reported in 2011. Though the 860,000 who travel to Australia in 2020 is tiny in comparison, the impact on our cities and regions will be evident. Through face-to-face encounters with Australian residents, Chinese visitors will be a constant reminder that the Asian century has arrived.</p> <p><strong>Destination approved</strong></p> <p>The reasons for Australia’s primacy are manifold. In 1999, Australia was (with New Zealand) the first western country to receive “approved destination status” – bilateral agreements allowing Chinese citizens to undertake group-based leisure travel to designated destinations.</p> <p>Though approved status has subsequently been granted to other western countries, for example Canada in 2010, Australia has enjoyed a head-start.</p> <p>While the status involves leisure travel, its indirect impacts extend to other forms of mobility - business travel, visiting friends and relatives and international students. It indicates that China’s government trusts the partner and promotes business and diplomacy. It has prompted Chinese airlines to introduce Australian services, backed by a Chinese government commitment to longer term success and viability.</p> <p><strong>The coming tigers</strong></p> <p>International tourism boomed in the post-war era, but will rise exponentially as the populous nations of China and India hit their straps. While the so-called “tigers” of Singapore, South Korea and Taiwan powered an earlier phase of Asia-Pacific tourism, the increasing mobility of mega-populations will compound the order of magnitude.</p> <p>But the earlier Asian “tigers” did not insist on reciprocity when they liberalised outbound travel. This allowed Australia to pursue a “cargo cult” approach to tourism with government coffers replenished by progressive waves of inbound expenditures. It was one-way traffic with culture and diplomacy marginalised, apart from business delegations and school exchange groups.</p> <p>Asian tourism only entered the Australian consciousness briefly during the 1980s when resentment at alleged “colonisation” boiled over during the peak of Japan’s Queensland resort investments.</p> <p><strong>A two-way street</strong></p> <p>China, on the other hand, will expect commitments from destination countries wishing to enjoy the economic benefits of their outbound tourist.</p> <p>It views outbound travel as a single component of a three-dimensional phenomenon – inbound, outbound and domestic. Achieving a balance between inbound and outbound travel will rely on reciprocity and inter-governmental dialogue.</p> <p>Australians will travel to China in greater numbers, buoyed by the high dollar. And side-trips from familiar Hong Kong into less familiar Guangdong, are extending to Beijing and Shanghai and to historic Xian and scenic Guilin.</p> <p><strong>Taking to the air</strong></p> <p>China also aspires to be a major aviation power.</p> <p>The prominence of Middle Eastern carriers has already provided Australians with a taste of diplomacy through airlines. China is emerging as a stopover for travellers to Europe with multiple daily flights from Australia to Guangzhou, Shanghai and Beijing and onward connections to European cities.</p> <p>The frequencies offered by <a href="http://www.flychinaeastern.com/">China Eastern</a>, <a href="http://www.flychinasouthern.com/">China Southern</a> and <a href="http://www.airchina.com.au/en/index.html">Air China</a> to Rome, Paris and London will trump those offered through established stopover ports. Jetstar Hong Kong and Virgin Australia will play a lucrative, though minor, role.</p> <p>Since China wants Western visitors, the Chinese carriers will raise their Australian profile through influence. Before long symphony orchestras, sporting codes and stadiums will be brandishing sponsorships from Chinese carriers.</p> <p><strong>Preparing for change</strong></p> <p>The impact of Chinese tourism will be both proportional and absolute. <a href="http://www.tourism.australia.com/en-au/research/default_3936.aspx">Tourism Australia estimates</a> over the 2010–2020 period, Asia is projected to contribute around 55% of the projected 2.2 million increase in visitor arrivals to Australia. China is forecast to account for approximately 42% of the growth from Asia.</p> <p>China has already displaced New Zealand as market leader and now rates first for visitation and spending. Can we cope?</p> <p>Arguably, multicultural cities such as Melbourne with their resident Chinese populations are well placed to accommodate a visitor influx. But Melbourne is already juggling the pressures of population growth and liveability.</p> <p>Residents will confront influxes of unfamiliar, non-English speaking faces sticking closely together. Though relatively fewer, China-bound Australians will share these experiences. China will be challenged in its welcome for these visitors, as it copes with domestic travel. Despite the experiences of the Beijing Olympics and Shanghai Expo, these changes will be challenging.</p> <p><strong>A watching world</strong></p> <p>The 13 years of co-managing the Approved Destinations Status scheme has provided the Chinese and Australian destination authorities with a good start in sharing their coping strategies.</p> <p>But the growth in numbers will particularly challenge Australia’s highly monolingual approach to cross-cultural communication. Technologies such as iPhone translation apps will help, but remaining a welcoming and “relaxed” country will demand patience in the face of unfamiliarity.</p> <p>In China, the accommodation of billions of domestic visitors and 130 million internationals will inevitably lead to conflicts, posing a challenge to Chinese (and Australian) diplomats to be true to their vocations.</p> <p>I recently visited cosmopolitan Shanghai and contemplated the population of our whole continent (23 million) housed in a single city. The once-vilified “Asian hordes” should be a source of opportunity, not fear. But numbers undoubtedly count and the world will be watching.</p> <p><em>Written by Brian King. Republished with permission of </em><a href="https://theconversation.com/taming-the-tigers-tourism-in-asia-to-become-a-two-way-street-6198"><em>The Conversation</em></a><em>. </em></p>

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Why leaving your phone at home this holiday will make you feel better

<p>What did we do before smartphones? Our devices have become an essential tool for modern life, even when we’re on holiday. In fact, technology is <a href="https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/02508281.2005.11081482">revolutionising tourism</a>. We navigate with Google Maps, we use TripAdvisor to find good restaurants, we share our travel experiences on Instagram, and we instantly message people back home. Imagine if all of these things were taken away from you.</p> <p>That’s what we did to 24 people who volunteered for our <a href="https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/0047287519868314">interview-based study</a> on what it’s like to give up your smartphone and travel digital-free. With a growing concern about the negative impact digital technology can have on people’s wellbeing, <a href="https://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1007/978-3-319-14343-9_58">especially on holiday</a>, we wanted to find out if a digital detox would help. But we found that disconnecting on holiday comes with emotional challenges of its own.</p> <p>We asked our volunteers to keep a diary of their emotions and feelings before they disconnected, during their trip, and after re-connecting when they returned home. We also conducted interviews after their digital-free journeys.</p> <p>Individuals who choose to disconnect on holiday tend to be looking for some therapeutic rehabilitation. But we found the digital-free journey was not always easy. Travellers experienced different levels of emotions due to technology disconnection. Feelings of anxiety started to build with the anticipation of disconnecting, with worries about what would happen. One participant said: “To be honest, two days before the trip I was a little bit nervous about it.”</p> <p>The negative emotions escalated in the first few days of the disconnected holiday with a mixture of frustration, worry, isolation, and anxiety. The feelings were especially overwhelming for some tech-savvy travellers who were used to technology in their daily lives. They struggled to settle into a new environment without their usual support of technology. One participant mentioned their anxiety around safety: “There is a chance that I might be in danger or have an accident, and my family cannot reach me.”</p> <p>Travellers at this stage were forced to travel in an old-fashion manner, navigating using a printed map, talking to strangers, and reading printed bus timetables. Two of our participants even gave up at this stage as they found the emotional experience unbearable.</p> <p>The strength of emotions was not the same for everyone. In the research, we discovered several influencing factors. It was easier to disconnect in rural destinations, if participants had travel companions, if they had fewer work commitments back home, if they had strong motivations for disconnecting, or if their reliance on technology in daily life was low.</p> <p>Our participants overcame the initial emotions and then started to enjoy the digital-free experience. They found themselves more immersed in the destination, created more valuable moments with their travel companions, and had many more memorable and authentic encounters with locals.</p> <p>They felt free, happy, excited, and relieved. One participant said: “I feel quite good that I made it this far without technology. I feel quite liberated.” Without the disruptions of digital technologies, they were fully engaged with their holiday experience, demonstrating that a digital-free holiday can contribute to wellbeing.</p> <p><strong>Reconnecting to normal life</strong></p> <p>All detoxes must come to an end, and our travellers had to face reconnecting to technology at the end of their holidays. Many started to feel anxious or guilty, but others, although they enjoyed the disconnected experience, felt excited to reconnect.</p> <p>Interestingly, first time digital-free travellers felt disappointed as they anticipated the things they missed out on while disconnected, but then realised they had not missed much. Many reevaluated their relationships with technology. One of our participants stated:</p> <p>“It was rather disappointing turning my phone back on. Seeing Facebook likes and messages I had, I felt how superficial they were. Not important stuff. I started to think why am I so addicted to counting my likes and reading comments that don’t really have a huge impact on my life? Technology, especially Facebook, has become my life”.</p> <p>Understanding the emotions of tourists can also provide insights for tour operators and destination management organisations when developing either off-the-grid packages or tech-savvy tour products. Understanding what triggers consumers’ negative and positive emotions can help companies improve products and marketing strategies.</p> <p>Digital-free travel provides an opportunity for many travellers to re-examine their relationships with technology. Many participants reflected on their addictions and “<a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0747563216304125">fear of missing out</a>”, and considered bringing this digital-free idea into their daily life, or do it more during their holidays.</p> <p><em>Written by Brad McKenna, Lena Waizenegger and Wenjie Cai. Republished with permission of </em><a href="https://theconversation.com/leave-your-phone-at-home-this-holiday-and-youll-feel-better-after-you-feel-worse-121278"><em>The Conversation</em></a><em>. </em></p>

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The more you eat, the further you fly

<p>The more you dine out, the more points you will be able to save up for flights and upgrades under a new initiative by the Qantas Frequent Flyer program.</p> <p>As of Thursday, travellers can receive rewards by making reservations at select restaurants in Australia and around the world.</p> <p>Members of the loyalty program will be able to earn 100 points per person for every booking made in one of the 18,000 restaurants across 12 countries.</p> <p>The new point system, which was launched in partnership with restaurant booking platform Quandoo, came after Qantas ended its agreement with Dimmi and Rockpool Dining Group restaurants.</p> <p>“We know how much our frequent flyers like to dine out, so rewarding them with Qantas Points for eating at their favourite local restaurant or somewhere special while they are on holiday is going to be a real drawcard,” said Qantas Loyalty CEO Olivia Wirth.</p> <p>“Food and wine constantly rank as some of the top interests for our members … the ability to now earn points for booking restaurants overseas is a great addition to people’s travel experience and helps get them closer to their dream trip.”</p> <p>Frequent Flyers can start earning points by booking through the platform on August 15.</p> <p>The announcement follows the airline’s rewards program overhaul in June, when the airline unveiled that it will make more reward seats available while increasing<span> </span><a rel="noopener" href="http://www.travelweekly.com.au/article/qantas-unveils-tasty-frequent-flyer-change/" target="_blank">the number of points required to upgrade to a premium cabin</a>.</p> <p>Qantas said the changes represented the biggest transformation that the Frequent Flyer program has seen in its 32-year-history.</p> <p>The loyalty program overhaul, which affects its 12.7 million members, will be rolled out over the next 12 months.</p> <p>Qantas’ collaboration with Quandoo came after Virgin Australia<span> </span><a rel="noopener" href="https://www.australianfrequentflyer.com.au/velocity-opentable/" target="_blank">ended its restaurant booking partnership with OpenTable in July</a>. Members of the airline’s Velocity Frequent Flyer program are no longer able to earn 300 points for every table booking made on the OpenTable platform.</p>

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Controversial drive-through rule sparks more questions

<p>Earlier this month, a Facebook post by Victoria Police made headlines after it revealed a little-known rule on using phone when going through a drive-through.</p> <p>Many drivers expressed surprise when the police said using a handheld mobile phone at a fast-food outlet’s drive-through is an offence that carries<span> </span><a rel="noopener" href="https://www.oversixty.com.au/finance/legal/do-you-do-this-in-a-drive-thru-the-500-road-rule-confusing-aussies/" target="_blank">demerit points and hundreds of dollars in fine</a>.</p> <p>“If you intend to use your mobile phone to pay at the drive-thru window, apply the hand brake, switch the engine off and then access your mobile phone,” they informed.</p> <p>The law applies in all states and territories.</p> <p>The revelation was met with criticism, with motorists saying the rule is “ridiculous” and “needs to be reviewed”.</p> <p>“Using a mobile device as a payment method is part of living in this day and age,” one commented.</p> <p>“You can't seriously argue that using a mobile phone to pay for the food is too dangerous, but leaning out of the car window (often with both hands) to collect your food, drinks, whatever, is fine,” another wrote.</p> <p>The information also sparked questions about digital driver’s licences, which are available for use in South Australia and parts of Sydney, Albury and Dubbo. The technology will also be rolled out in New South Wales and regional Queensland later this year.</p> <p>One motorist asked whether handing digital licences, which are accessible by phone, to a police officer will count as an offence.</p> <p>NSW Transport told<span> </span><a rel="noopener" href="https://www.news.com.au/technology/innovation/motoring/on-the-road/controversial-drivethrough-rule-sparks-even-more-questions-from-drivers/news-story/ebaf1ad74c6b4d911b2264d9c814c14e" target="_blank"><em>news.com.au</em></a><span> </span>that the law regarding the use of mobile phone while driving was amended in 2018 to clarify that it is not illegal to use your phone to show your digital licence if an officer has instructed you to do so.</p> <p>“A driver who accesses their digital driver’s licence on their phone before they are requested to do so by police is committing an offence,” a spokesperson said.</p> <p>Inspector Cynthia Healey of the SA Traffic Support Branch advised drivers to make sure their vehicle is out of gear with the handbrake on, parked and turned off before using their phone.</p> <p>“To use a mobile phone, of which holding one is considered use, you must have your vehicle in a condition in which it is not able to move by itself,” she said in a statement.</p>

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Drivers' new parking hack turns heads

<p>A video has had people scratching their heads as it shows a four wheel drive pulling off a parallel park with an extra feature added for ease.</p> <p>The video, which has been shared on social media, shows a driver in Cairo, Egypt with a fifth wheel built into his car.</p> <p>Many people were quick to tag their friends and wonder how it was done.</p> <p>"I know a lot of people who could benefit from this though," another said.</p> <p>"Everyone one needs this in their life, even those who have mastered the not so difficult task of parallel parking," another commented said.</p> <p>"How many times have you been behind some idiot who hasn't for the life of them have the slightest idea on how to parallel park if their life depended on it?" one person asked.</p> <p>"Or better and cheaper still, learn how to bloody park," another said, followed by a tearful laughing emoji.</p> <p>The wheel can be raised and lowered for easy parking in tight spots.</p> <div class="embed-responsive embed-responsive-16by9"><iframe class="embed-responsive-item" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/xzD0scGdwQY"></iframe></div> <div class="embed-responsive embed-responsive-16by9"> <p>Although this is a new concept to some, the fifth wheel concept was already invented back in the 1930’s in California by a driver who was sick of the same problem. Despite filing a patent for the additional wheel idea, the concept never caught on and did not make it into the manufacturing of cars.</p> </div>

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How to protect your private data when you travel to the United States

<p>On January 30 – three days after US President Donald Trump signed an <a href="https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2017/01/27/executive-order-protecting-nation-foreign-terrorist-entry-united-states">executive order</a> restricting immigration from several predominantly Muslim countries – an American scientist employed by NASA <a href="http://www.theverge.com/2017/2/12/14583124/nasa-sidd-bikkannavar-detained-cbp-phone-search-trump-travel-ban">was detained at the US border</a> until he relinquished his phone and PIN to border agents. Travellers are also reporting <a href="http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/donald-trump-muslim-immigration-ban-facebook-check-iraq-sudan-syria-mana-yegani-a7551256.html">border agents reviewing their Facebook feeds</a>, while the Department of Homeland Security <a href="https://fcw.com/articles/2017/02/07/kelly--dhs-social-media-border.aspx">considers requiring social media passwords as a condition of entry</a>.</p> <p>Intimidating travellers into revealing passwords is a much greater invasion of privacy than inspecting their belongings for contraband.</p> <p>Technology pundits have already recommended steps to prevent privacy intrusion at the US border, including <a href="https://qz.com/912950/never-bring-your-phone-on-an-international-flight-unless-you-want-us-border-control-and-customs-to-take-your-data/">leaving your phone at home</a>, <a href="https://www.theregister.co.uk/2017/02/14/reg_guide_to_data_security_when_entering_us/">encrypting your hard drive</a> and <a href="https://www.wired.com/2017/02/guide-getting-past-customs-digital-privacy-intact/">enabling two-factor authentication</a>. However, these steps only apply to US citizens. Visitors need a totally different strategy to protect their private information.</p> <p><strong>The problem</strong></p> <p>Giving border agents access to your devices and accounts is problematic for three reasons:</p> <ol> <li>It violates the privacy of not only you but also your friends, family, colleagues and anyone else who has shared private messages, pictures, videos or data with you.</li> <li>Doctors, lawyers, scientists, government officials and many business people’s devices contain sensitive data. For example, your lawyer might be carrying documents subject to attorney-client privilege. Providing such privileged information to border agents may be illegal.</li> <li>In the wake of revelations from <a href="https://www.thenation.com/article/long-list-what-we-know-thanks-private-manning/">Chelsea Manning</a>and <a href="http://harvardpolitics.com/united-states/the-nsa-leaks-a-summary/">Edward Snowden</a>, we have good reason to distrust the US government’s intentions for our data.</li> </ol> <p>This problem cannot be solved through normal cybersecurity countermeasures.</p> <p>Encryption, passwords and two-factor authentication are useless if someone intimidates you into revealing your passwords. Leaving your devices at home or <a href="https://www.howtogeek.com/213295/how-to-wipe-securely-erase-your-devices-before-disposing-of-or-selling-them/">securely wiping them</a>before travelling is ineffective if all of your data is in the cloud and accessible from any device. What do you do if border agents simply ask for your Facebook password?</p> <p>And leaving your phone at home, wiping your devices and deactivating your social media will only increase suspicion.</p> <p><strong>What you can do</strong></p> <p>First, recognise that lying to a border agent (including giving them fake accounts) or obstructing their investigation will land you in serious trouble, and that agents have sweeping power to deny entry to the US. So you need a strategy where you can fully cooperate without disclosing private data or acting suspicious.</p> <p>Second, recognise that there are two distinct threats:</p> <ol> <li>Border agents extracting private or sensitive data from devices (phone, tablet, laptop, camera, USB drive, SIM card, etc.) that you are carrying.</li> <li>Border agents compelling you to disclose your passwords, or extracting your passwords from your devices.</li> </ol> <p><strong>Protecting your devices</strong></p> <p>To protect your privacy when travelling, here’s what you can do.</p> <p>First, use a cloud-based service such as Dropbox, Google Drive, OneDrive or Box.com to backup all of your data. Use another service like Boxcryptor, Cryptomator or Sookasa to protect your data such that neither the storage provider nor government agencies can read it. While these services are not foolproof, they significantly increase the difficulty of accessing your data.</p> <p>Next, cross the border with no or clean devices. Legally-purchased entertainment should be fine, but do not sync your contacts, calendar, email, social media apps, or anything that requires a password.</p> <p>If a border agent asks you to unlock your device, simply do so and hand it over. There should be nothing for them to find. You can access your data from the cloud at your destination.</p> <p><strong>Protecting your cloud data</strong></p> <p>However, border agents do not need your device to access your online accounts. What happens if they simply demand your login credentials? Protecting your cloud data requires a more sophisticated strategy.</p> <p>First, add all of your passwords to a password manager such as LastPass, KeePass or Dashlane. While you’re at it, change any passwords that are easy to guess, easy to remember or are duplicates.</p> <p>Before leaving home, generate a new master password for your password manager that is difficult to guess and difficult to remember. Give the password to a trusted third party such as your spouse or IT manager. Instruct him or her not to provide the password until you call from your destination. (Don’t forget to memorise their phone number!)</p> <p>If asked, you can now honestly say that you don’t know or have access to any of your passwords. If pressed, you can explain that your passwords are stored in a password vault precisely so that you cannot be compelled to divulge them, if, for example, you were abducted while travelling.</p> <p>This may sound pretty suspicious, but we’re not done.</p> <p>Raise the issue at your workplace. Emphasise the risks of leaking trade secrets or sensitive, protected or legally privileged data about customers, employees, strategy or research while travelling.</p> <p>Encourage your organisation to develop a policy of holding passwords for travelling employees and lending out secure travel-only devices. Make the policy official, print it and bring it with you when you travel.</p> <p>Now if border agents demand passwords, you don’t know them, and if they demand you explain how you can not know your own passwords, you can show them your organisation’s policy.</p> <p>This may all seem like an instruction manual for criminals, but actual criminals will likely just create fake accounts. Rather, I believe it’s important to provide this advice to those who have done nothing illegal but who value their privacy in the face of intrusive government security measures.</p> <p><em>Written by Paul Ralph. Republished with permission of </em><a href="https://theconversation.com/how-to-protect-your-private-data-when-you-travel-to-the-united-states-73909"><em>The Conversation</em></a><em>.</em></p>

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Why is air colder the higher up you go?

<p><strong><em>Why is air colder the higher up you go? Shouldn’t it be hotter as you’re getting closer to the Sun? – Flynn, age 6, Sydney.</em></strong></p> <p>Thank you Flynn, that’s a great question. A lot of people have probably wondered this.</p> <p>As you may know, hot air rises. So why is it so cold at the top of a mountain?</p> <p>Well, it helps if you imagine the ground here on Earth as a big heater. It keeps us warm, and if you move away from the heater you feel cold.</p> <p>So what “heats up” the heater? The light and warmth from the Sun. Scientists call this light and warmth “radiation”.</p> <p><strong>Light and warmth travel from the Sun</strong></p> <p>The light and warmth from the Sun travel through space towards Earth and pass through our atmosphere. (The “atmosphere” is what we call the swirling air that surrounds our planet.)</p> <p>But the atmosphere isn’t very good at holding onto the warmth from the Sun. The heat just slips straight through it. (For the adults reading: that’s because air at higher altitudes thins out as the gas particles expand and lose energy.)</p> <p>Eventually, the heat from the Sun hits the ground and the ground soaks it up. This especially happens in forests and oceans, which are very good at absorbing heat. Other places, like snow fields, are more likely to reflect the radiation – meaning it bounces back toward the Sun instead of being soaked up by the ground.</p> <p><strong>Up, up, up</strong></p> <p>The higher up you go, the further you are away from the “heater” that is keeping us all warm – the ground that has absorbed the warmth from the Sun. At the top of mountains, it can get so cold people could die within minutes without special protection. That’s because the air up there is just really bad at “holding onto” the radiation coming from the Sun, and the warmth passes straight through it on its journey toward the ground.</p> <p>And all the way up in space, there is a lot more radiation from the Sun, and astronauts wear special suits to protect themselves from it. But there’s also no air in space, which means there’s really nothing much at all to “hold onto” the warmth of the Sun and make the temperature around you feel warm.</p> <p>So if you were unlucky enough to be caught in space without a suit, you would freeze to death before the Sun’s radiation would get you.</p> <p><em>Written by Zoran Ristovski and Branka Miljevic. Republished with permission of </em><a href="https://theconversation.com/curious-kids-why-is-air-colder-the-higher-up-you-go-116822"><em>The Conversation</em></a><em>. </em></p>

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World’s top cities: Where do Melbourne and Sydney stand?

<p>Australia has been ranked as one of the top destinations to study internationally. The <a href="https://www.topuniversities.com/city-rankings/2019">QS Best Student Cities Ranking</a> released yesterday, which incorporates feedback from more than 87,000 current and prospective international students, ranked Melbourne as the third-best city to study. Sydney came in ninth.</p> <p>London and Tokyo were number 1 and 2 respectively out of the world’s 120 top student cities. Melbourne and Sydney were joined in the top 50 globally by Brisbane (22), Canberra (23), Adelaide (26, up 15 places from last year) and Perth (41).</p> <p>These results are rigorous and evidence-based, drawing on a variety of indexes (such as livability and affordability) and the student survey. When it came to the quality of life index (known as desirability), QS director of research Ben Sowter said:</p> <p>Six of the world’s 30 highest-performing cities for our Desirability indicator are Australian: a record bettered by no other nation.</p> <p>These results are highly influential and clearly drive education decision-making. We know students wishing to study overseas take serious account of universities that score well on <a href="https://www.internationalstudentsurvey.com/">independent rankings</a>, for instance, and there’s no reason why these should be any different.</p> <p>So the performance of Melbourne and Sydney on this international platform speaks volumes for the position of the country as a study destination.</p> <p><strong>QS Best student cities ranking: Global top 10</strong></p> <ol> <li>London</li> <li>Tokyo</li> <li>Melbourne</li> <li>Munich</li> <li>Berlin</li> <li>Montreal</li> <li>Paris</li> <li>Zurich</li> <li>Sydney</li> <li>Seoul</li> </ol> <p><strong>What makes a good student city?</strong></p> <p>QS uses six metric groups to compile the ratings:</p> <ol> <li><strong>Desirability:</strong> Will students enjoy a high quality of life here? Do students want to study in this city?</li> <li><strong>University rankings:</strong> How many top-ranked universities are in the city?</li> <li><strong>Employer activity:</strong> Will a chosen city have job opportunities after graduation?</li> <li><strong>Student mix:</strong> What proportion of a city’s population is made up of students? How diverse is that student population?</li> <li><strong>Affordability:</strong> Can students afford to study here?</li> <li><strong>Student voice:</strong> What do students studying in this city think of it?</li> </ol> <p><strong>So, how should we read this?</strong></p> <p>In assessing quality of life the QS looks to measures such as the Economist Intelligence Unit’s <a href="http://www.eiu.com/Handlers/WhitepaperHandler.ashx?fi=The_Global_Liveability_index_2018.pdf&amp;mode=wp&amp;campaignid=Liveability2018">Global Liveability Index</a> where in 2018 Melbourne, Sydney and Adelaide were in the top ten of the 140 cities surveyed.</p> <p>Melbourne held the <a href="https://theconversation.com/the-worlds-most-liveable-city-title-isnt-a-measure-of-the-things-most-of-us-actually-care-about-101525">top spot</a> for seven consecutive years, only this year being edged out by Vienna by 0.7 of a percentage point.</p> <p>Ben Sowter said:</p> <p>“This year’s edition of the QS Best Student Cities Ranking indicates that one of the primary incentives for any prospective international student to study in Australia is the high quality of life on offer there.”</p> <p>Quality of life includes a range of elements such as recreation facilities, public services and transport, housing and the natural environment. According to <a href="https://mobilityexchange.mercer.com/Insights/quality-of-living-rankings">Mercer’s 2019 Quality of Living City Rankings</a>, Melbourne and Sydney are in the top 20 worldwide.</p> <p>And then there is safety.</p> <p>There have been some recent challenges for Australian universities in the area of <a href="https://theconversation.com/recent-campus-attacks-show-universities-need-to-do-more-to-protect-international-students-120082">student safety</a>, including <a href="https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-7096241/International-students-Australian-university-robbed-bashed-recent-attacks.html">robberies and attacks</a> on international students at a Melbourne university.</p> <p>No destination can completely guarantee the personal safety of its residents and visitors. But looking at a <a href="https://www.numbeo.com/crime/rankings.jsp">variety of sources</a> and the <a href="https://thepienews.com/news/students-in-australia-feel-safe-worry-about-work/">comments of students themselves</a>, the evidence suggests Melbourne and Sydney in particular are very safe cities overall, ranking in the top 12 worldwide for <a href="https://dkf1ato8y5dsg.cloudfront.net/uploads/5/82/safe-cities-index-eng-web.pdf">digital, health, infrastructure and personal security</a>.</p> <p>When it comes to the student mix indicator, the QS ranking puts Melbourne as the world’s best city. This is a measure that includes tolerance and inclusion, reflecting the importance for many international students of choosing a study environment that is likely to be hospitable to their own cultural background, lifestyle and identity.</p> <p>While there are admittedly periodic reports in the media about <a href="http://www.southasiatimes.com.au/news/?p=1028">racist behaviour</a> in Melbourne, and the government is <a href="https://www.sbs.com.au/news/government-to-consider-ways-to-protect-international-students-on-and-off-campus">well aware of this</a>, Melbourne is widely recognised as culturally diverse, tolerant and welcoming. On these measures we can trust the QS ranking.</p> <p>Melbourne came third in the student voice, which accounts for the experience and study destination preferences of more than 87,000 students.</p> <p>Sydney ranked second on student mix and ninth on employer activity, obtaining a job at the end of their studies being a <a href="https://www.internationalstudentsurvey.com/">very important consideration</a> for international students.</p> <p><strong>QS Best student cities ranking 2019: Australia</strong></p> <ol> <li>Melbourne</li> <li>Sydney</li> <li>Brisbane</li> <li>Canberra</li> <li>Adelaide</li> <li>Perth</li> <li>Gold Coast</li> </ol> <p>The QS results are in keeping with the high levels of international student satisfaction reported for Australian higher education, especially for <a href="https://internationaleducation.gov.au/research/research-papers/Documents/ED19-0047%20International%20Student%20Survey%20HIGHER%20EDUCATION%20Infographic_ACC-03.pdf">safety, living, learning and support.</a></p> <p><strong>Where we can improve?</strong></p> <p>The 2019 QS ranking shows Australian universities are at a slight global disadvantage on measures of affordability. This is an observation previously made in The Times Higher Education <a href="https://www.timeshighereducation.com/student/advice/cost-studying-university-australia">World University Rankings</a>.</p> <p>Australian costs are generally <a href="https://www.slideshare.net/meetuniversity/average-cost-of-studying-abroad-breakdown-country-comparison">comparable</a> to those of the US and the UK, but far higher than Japan, Spain, Germany or Russia, which are all serious competitors in the international student market.</p> <p>But cost is not the only consideration. A <a href="http://www.cais.ca/uploaded/CAIS_Connect/Boarding_Program/the-value-of-education.pdf">benchmark HSBC report</a> of 4,592 parents in 15 countries around the world said they would consider sending their child abroad for a better university education.</p> <p>And this is where Australia has a competitive advantage.</p> <p>We make up for cost when it comes to education quality. The QS results endorse government initiatives such as <a href="https://www.studymelbourne.vic.gov.au/">Study Melbourne</a> and <a href="https://www.study.sydney/">Study Sydney</a> that provide international students with employment assistance, career guidance and day-to-day living support – all of which contribute to a positive international student experience.</p> <p>While the results are commendable we, shouldn’t be complacent. We know the <a href="https://www.internationalstudentsurvey.com/">biggest concerns</a> for prospective students relate to everyday life rather than their studies.</p> <p>Issues around the cost of living, finding accommodation and employment, and safety rank among the greatest concerns. In the Australian context dealing with racism needs to be <a href="https://umsu.unimelb.edu.au/stopping-racism-starting-at-melbourne/">urgently addressed</a>.</p> <p><em>Written by Jeff Wilks. Republished with permission of </em><a href="https://theconversation.com/international-students-rank-melbourne-and-sydney-in-worlds-top-cities-but-we-can-make-them-feel-safer-121238"><em>The Conversation</em></a><em>. </em></p>

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Fiji: A simple holiday in the sun

<p>Australians have long had a love affair with <a href="http://www.fiji.travel/au">Fiji</a>. Tropical warmth, friendly people and endless islands surrounded by bright corals and colourful fish – what’s not to love?</p> <p>However, perhaps proximity and familiarity sometimes see old favourites such as Fiji fall off our radar as we seek new places to explore.</p> <p>I have just come back from a holiday in Fiji and was impressed anew by the remarkable hospitality of the people.</p> <p>The first time a local said “welcome home” it felt wrong but within a few hours I realised that they really did want me to feel that this was my home, too.</p> <p>Spectacularly, the warm smiles and welcoming greetings start the minute the plane lands in Nadi. Even before clearing customs. I found myself fretting because there was a security officer in the arrival hall I hadn’t acknowledged with a return smile and “bula”.</p> <p>She, like so many before her, had smiled warmly to welcome me but I’d been distracted with forms, bags, etc that should have been no excuse.</p> <p>On previous visits to Fiji I’ve loved my visits to small island resorts where staff regard their role as hosts not servants. However, back then, I found the big mainland resorts were like resorts anywhere else in the world and dealings with staff were transactions, not conversations.</p> <p><a href="https://www.outrigger.com/hotels-resorts/fiji">Outrigger Fiji Beach Resort</a> near Sigatoka on the Coral Coast was a pleasant introduction to the new Fiji. The sprawling 254-room property is designed to resemble a Fijian beachside village and has more than 500 staff. Each of them apparently has time to talk and will stop whatever they are doing to help you or take you where you want to go.</p> <p>After dinner on our last night a dozen staff came to our table and sang “Isa lei”, the moving Fijian farewell song. That was followed by hugs all round.</p> <p>The spirit of fellowship works both ways. Up in the hills of the Sigatoka Valley we visited a local school and saw that one room was named the Eddie Betts Kindergarten because it was built and funded by Outrigger Resorts and the Adelaide Crows AFL team in their off-season, including the magical Eddie.</p> <p>And we attended a fundraiser within the resort to pay for essential dialysis for a 12-year-old boy from Navua.</p> <p>Outrigger Fiji Beach Resort has 207 rooms in the hotel wings and 47 thatched bures, a few of which are on the beach and the rest spread throughout tropical gardens. There are six restaurants and as many bars, including a swim-up one, and the resort is dominated by a large lagoon-style swimming pool.</p> <p>While it’s a sprawl in a hammock within the garden sort of place, the expansive resort – and the newly expanded <a href="http://www.fijiwild.com/">Kula Wild Adventure Park</a> next door – make it perfect for kids. Fiji in general and the Outrigger Fiji Beach Resort in particular welcome Australian families for holidays.</p> <p>Fortunately, for adults alone and parents aiming to escape 24/7 parental duties the resort has their needs well sorted with the expansive Vahavu adults-only area with its pool and swim-up bar.</p> <p>As I walked through the gardens in the warm evening air on my first day here I constantly encountered Fijian ladies pushing prams. Only when I returned to my bure did I read that these are the Mei Meis or nannies who will look after your infants one-on-one during the day and in the evening while you go out for the evening.</p> <p>The next day I discovered the large and well-staffed children’s area of the resort. There’s a complimentary kids club for 3 to 12 year olds as well as a teens program, that’s also free, for those aged 13 plus.</p> <p>Overall, if you’re thinking of going away with the family on a multigenerational holiday then Fiji, where children are well appreciated, not shunned, makes a lot of sense.</p> <p>Life on <a href="http://castawayfiji.com/">Castaway Island</a> is pretty simple. It’s a beautiful sand-fringed island of palm trees about 30km from Nadi with a hill rising steeply behind the resort. There are 27 luxurious bures along the beaches and in the gardens and you’re only ever a few steps from the warm water lapping the white sand. A coral reef lies just off shore and there are sailing boats, kayaks and snorkels just begging to be used.</p> <p>This is a place to swing in a hammock, with or without a book, take a swim or simply head to the bar for a drink. Life slows down to island time and it feels much better when you’ve done so.</p> <p>If this feels like the quintessential Fijian tropical island experience, it is. Indeed last November Castaway Island celebrated 50 years of operation – begun by an Australian, the late Dick Smith (the other one), it paved the way for the whole network of luxurious Fijian holiday islands we find today.</p> <p>Located on a private island in the Mamanuca Island group Castaway Island has won many awards for its facilities, hospitality and cuisine.</p> <p>As well as diving, fishing and sailing offshore from the island there’s also surfing. Indeed, when I was there, the World Surfing competition was not far away at Cloud Break that’s ranked amongst the 10 most challenging waves in the world with fast barrelling lefts over a shallow reef. Eek.</p> <p>In the other direction you can take a day excursion across to Monuriki Island where Tom Hanks made the movie Cast Away in 2000 and you, too, can be a beachcomber for a day.</p> <p>A Fijian holiday is a reminder of how simple life can be. Sun, sand, food and friendship is a fulfilling way to spend a week or two.</p> <p><em>Written by David McGonigal. Republished with permission of </em><a href="https://www.wyza.com.au/articles/travel/fiji-a-simple-holiday-in-the-sun.aspx"><em>Wyza</em></a><em>. </em></p>

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The Maldives: The ultimate retirement holiday

<p>The Maldives. It’s a country the world associates with paradise: the polished white sand, the overwater villas and probably most of all, the shallow, is-it-Photoshopped, turquoise waters.</p> <p>Well I can tell you this first off – it isn’t Photoshopped. Amazingly, the water really is that colour. It looks just like it does in the photographs, but better, because you’re actually there.</p> <p>The first resort in the Maldives opened relatively recently, in 1972. <a href="http://www.soneva.com/soneva-fushi/">Soneva Fushi</a> was opened by Sonu Shivdasani and Eva Malmström Shivdasani in 1995, and now the group has <a href="http://www.soneva.com/soneva-jani/">Soneva Jani</a> and a two-bedroomed yacht, <a href="http://www.soneva.com/soneva-in-aqua/">Soneva In Aqua</a>. Because I’m a glutton, I decided to try out all three. This, ladies and gents, might just be the ultimate retirement holiday.</p> <p>It’s pouring with rain when I land at Soneva Jani (this is the tropics after all), but once I’m in my over-water villa it’s hard to care. My room has its own, private 12-metre pool, outdoor and indoor bathrooms, an upstairs deck for stargazing, and glass flooring areas dotted throughout, so you can watch the fish swim about below.</p> <p>In the morning I climb down a ladder straight into the Indian ocean and swim through crystalline water over reefs teaming with fish. I wander around the barely touched island (Soneva is all about sustainability – they desalinate their water, recycle their glass, are carbon-neutral and they like to leave things looking as natural as possible). At night, movies are shown at their outdoor cinema, with a screen poking out of the azure waters, and big, comfy daybeds to recline on.</p> <p>Picked up by speedboat, I take the bumpy 1.5 hour trip to another perfect tropical island: the group’s oldest property, Soneva Fushi. Again, I can’t help gushing over the room (the Maldives is really all about the room and its immediate surrounds, because that’s where you spend most of your time).</p> <p>It’s huge and thatched in the traditional way, with three living rooms (two outside, one inside), a plunge pool and the ocean accessed through a private pathway just a few metres away. But the best bit is the bathroom, which is the size of my unit in Sydney (seriously) and all outdoors. The shower sees you walking on raised paving suspended over your own miniature lake – again, seriously – to a rain shower set within the palms.</p> <p>You certainly won’t go hungry. I eat my weight in fresh sashimi and local king crab claws grilled in front of my eyes at a Japanese barbecue; and they have complimentary cheese, ice-cream and chocolate rooms at each resort – God help your cholesterol.</p> <p>Because the Maldives is a desert island destination and each resort is an island, there isn’t much to do – or actually, anything to do – outside of your resort. It’s basically a sunbake/eat/drink/swim sort of place. If you need some action though, Fushi and Jani both offer activities like snorkelling with a marine biologist (highly recommended) and stand-up paddle-boarding. Definitely go canoeing in a traditional, wooden, Maldivian canoe – it’s easier than it looks, as long as you stay in the shallows.</p> <p>To complete my trip, I hop on Soneva in Aqua, the resorts’ custom-built yacht, for a night. Captain Aaron takes me out to a secluded island where we spot reef sharks playing with giant stingrays and watch a tropical storm roll in over the empty horizon. I snorkel on a remote sandbank, swimming past turtles, octopi and every single fish from Finding Nemo. I dine on coconut-rich Maldivian tuna curry mopped up with roti on the deck (you can even help catch the fish off the back of the boat if you like) and drink fresh watermelon juice while watching the sunset from my dolphin net, hanging over the side of the boat.</p> <p>Everything I need is taken care of thanks to my own personal butler at each property. It’s so fancy it’s almost a bit insane to be living it – but if not for your retirement, when would you?</p> <p><em>Written by Freya Herring. Republished with permission of </em><a href="https://www.wyza.com.au/articles/travel/the-maldives-the-ultimate-retirement-holiday.aspx"><em>Wyza</em></a><em>. </em></p>

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Good news: The number of tigers in India has increased

<p>Indian tiger numbers are up, according to one of the most detailed wildlife surveys ever conducted. Tiger populations have risen by 6%, to roughly 3,000 animals.</p> <p>The <a href="https://projecttiger.nic.in/News/20_Newsdetails.aspx">massive survey</a> may set a new world standard in counting large carnivores. The encouraging results validate India’s impressive investments in tiger conservation.</p> <p><strong>A mammoth effort</strong></p> <p>Large, solitary predators hate being seen. They owe their entire existence to being able to avoid detection by prey and sneak close before attacking.</p> <p>Hence, when we want to count tigers, the tigers don’t help. But accurate population numbers are fundamental to good conservation. Every four years since 2006, the Indian government conducts a <a href="https://projecttiger.nic.in/Index.aspx">national census</a> of tigers and other wildlife.</p> <p>The efforts the project team undertakes to derive the tiger population estimate are nothing short of phenomenal: 44,000 field staff conducted almost 318,000 habitat surveys across 20 tiger-occupied states of India. Some 381,400 km² was checked for tigers and their prey.</p> <p>(There is an application in with the Guinness Book of World Records to see if this is the largest wildlife survey ever conducted anywhere in the world.)</p> <p>The team placed paired camera traps at 26,760 locations across 139 study sites and these collected almost 35 million photos (including 76,523 tiger and 51,337 leopard photos). These camera traps covered 86% of the entire tiger distribution in India. Where it was too dangerous to work in the field (14% of the tigers’ distribution) because of <a href="https://www.news18.com/news/india/myanmar-army-to-continue-crackdown-on-indian-insurgents-2169501.html">political conflict</a>, robust models estimated population numbers.</p> <p><strong>Count the tigers</strong></p> <p>Collecting this volume of data would be an utter waste of time if it were poorly analysed. The teams took advice from some of the world’s foremost experts to sort the photos: pattern matching experts who could identify whether a photo of a tiger taken in the monsoon matched that of a tiger taken in the dry season while walking at a different angle, machine learning experts to speed up species identification, and spatial analysis experts to estimate the populations of tigers and their prey.</p> <p>The research team took this advice and coupled it with their own knowledge of tiger ecology to develop a census that is unique among large carnivore studies.</p> <p>We were fortunate enough to be among the non-Indian scientists invited to review this process. Peer review is a crucial part of any scientific endeavour, and especially important as early Indian tiger surveys were notoriously unreliable.</p> <p><strong>Actual numbers</strong></p> <p>So how did they do? A total of 2,461 individual tigers older than one year of age were photo-captured. The overall tiger population in India was estimated at 2,967 individuals (with an error range of roughly 12%).</p> <p>Out of this, 83.4% were estimated from camera-trap photos, and the rest estimated from robust modelling. Tiger numbers have increased by 6% per year, continuing the rate of increase from the 2014 census. This is a wonderful success for Indian conservation efforts.</p> <p>However not all is rosy. There has been a 20% decline in areas occupied by tigers in 2014 to today, although tigers have moved into some new areas (some 8% of their Indian range is new). The coordinators of the tiger survey – Yadvendradev Jhala and Qamar Qureshi – conclude that while established and secure tiger populations in some parts of India have increased, small, isolated populations and those along corridors between established populations have gone extinct.</p> <p>This highlights the need for conservation efforts to focus on improving connectivity between isolated populations, while incentivising the relocation of people out of core tiger areas, reducing poaching and improving habitat to increase prey resources.</p> <p>This will be no easy task with India’s burgeoning population, but investment from private sector tourist corporations in land acquisition along corridors and the creation of community conservancies could supplement government funding for expanding protected corridors.</p> <p>The success of India’s census has led the governments of Nepal and Bangladesh to employ the same project team to help estimate their own tiger populations. These methods can – and should – be employed for other iconic, charismatic species that can be individually identified, such as jaguars in South and Central America; leopards, cheetahs, and hyenas in Africa, and possibly even quolls in Australia.</p> <p><em>Written by Matt Hayward and Joseph K. Bump. Republished with permission of </em><a href="https://theconversation.com/some-good-conservation-news-indias-tiger-numbers-are-going-up-121055"><em>The Conversation</em></a><em>.</em></p>

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The brilliant $9 Reject Shop item people are going crazy for

<p>Claim to be a savvy bargain traveller? Then answer this simple question: Do you know how much your luggage weighs?</p> <p>If you answered “no”, then there’s still room for improvement. With budget airlines finding every way to milk you out of your money, an overweight carrier bag can leave you out of pocket.</p> <p>Which is why it’s important to know how much your luggage weighs before you head to the airport, especially if you plan on travelling with nothing but hand luggage.</p> <p>Jetstar and Tigerair will charge you extra fees if you’ve exceeded the maximum 7kg limit, with their rates ranging from $36 to $60.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img style="width: 500px; height: 375px;" src="/media/7829069/1.jpeg" alt="" data-udi="umb://media/315487db65dd481cb721d3d8742b7632" /></p> <p>Qantas and Virgin on the other hand are slightly more lenient, with Qantas having higher limits. But regardless, both airlines may potentially send your excess hand baggage to the hold and you’ll lose time advantage at the other end.</p> <p>So to avoid the headache, it’s important to carry around a luggage scale so you can weigh your bags before departure and on return when you’re bringing home a suitcase full of shopping.</p> <p>But which one do avid travellers swear by? The $9 no-brand scale from The Reject Shop. Weighing only 51g, it won’t take up excess weight and it’s so small that you can pop it in the pocket of your jeans if you’re still concerned about exceeding the limit.</p> <p>And here’s a final tip: Make sure you weigh your bag more than once before heading to the airport. Digital scales aren’t always accurate, so take into account the higher figure to stay on the safe side.</p>

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The real story behind the “boom” in Chinese tourism to Australia

<p>I recall attending a World Tourism Organisation [WTO] Conference in Tasmania ten years ago, where it was predicted that China would become the both the largest outbound travel market as well as the largest inbound travel market by 2020.</p> <p>All <a href="http://www.news.com.au/travel/news/china-visitor-boom-gives-tourism-hope/story-e6frfq80-1226189533499">indications</a> are that China is on track to assume the number one position in terms of visitor arrivals in Australia, and other <a href="http://www.ret.gov.au/tourism/tourism_programs/china_approved_destination_scheme/Pages/ChinaApprovedDestinationStatus(ADS)Scheme.aspx">Approved Destination Status</a> countries, and significant growth in Australian outbound travel to China in recent years is also helping to fulfil that WTO prophecy.</p> <p>However, to reveal the full story behind this purported “boom” in Chinese arrivals to Australia, it is worth further analysing market profiles, reasons for visiting and expenditure patterns of Chinese visitors.</p> <p><strong>Competition</strong></p> <p>The Chinese outbound travel market comprises only about 10% of the total population of China, mainly those residing in the major provinces and wealthy enough to travel overseas. Of those 130 million wealthy Chinese, about 40 million travel overseas annually, of which Australia’s share is 400,000, or about 1%. That is on par with Australia’s share of all international travellers, so it appears that we are “holding our own” in terms of global market share.</p> <p>However, there are inherent difficulties in targeting market share as an indicator of success, as we cannot control for the actions of our competitors, who are also aggressively targeting the Chinese market, mainly the 100 ADS countries.</p> <p>The United States, for example, has allocated $50 million for tourism marketing in China and countries like Japan, Korea and Singapore are already attracting Chinese visitors. It may be that other ADS countries are better placed to meet the specific needs of Chinese travellers, particularly those that are price competitive, have more favourable exchange rates, better shopping or a more substantial Chinese diaspora population.</p> <p><strong>Segmentation</strong></p> <p>In 2010, some 21% of Chinese visitors to Australia came for educational purposes, but accounted for 51% of Total Inbound Economic Value (TIEV).</p> <p>The education segment also skewed the average age of visitors, so that 31% of Chinese visitors were aged 15 to 29 and average length of stay blows out to 112 nights. Questions must be asked about the extent to which the tourism sector benefits from this segment, comprising one third of Chinese visitor arrivals and one half of Chinese visitor expenditure.</p> <p>The profiles of the remaining segments of 44% holiday, 17% visiting friend and relatives [VFR] and 16% business also raises some questions. The fastest growing segment is VFR, which may have very different spending patterns compared with the other segments. The main destinations for all segments are the gateway cities of Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Adelaide (where most education centres and our Australian Chinese population are located), with the regions receiving only 7% of Chinese arrivals in 2010.</p> <p>The business travel segment has been declining since 2005 and particularly in 2008 and 2009 in response to the global financial crisis, but is showing signs of recovery in 2010. However, it is the problems existing in the pleasure/holiday segment that provide the most cause for concern.</p> <p><strong>Problems</strong></p> <p><a href="http://eprints.jcu.edu.au/6481/">Previous studies</a> indicate the Chinese pleasure/holiday segment is price sensitive, and is more likely to prefer a lower price package tour. This compromises the quality of accommodation and tour itinerary by tour operators and results in lower levels of visitor satisfaction.</p> <p>Other unscrupulous inbound tour operators have been found to have engaged in unethical business practices such as restricting itineraries to shops that provide secret commissions, charging for free tours of places such as the Sydney Opera House, poorly trained tour guides and misleading information regarding visitor safety in order to control the group.</p> <p>First-time travellers, usually on package tours, are most susceptible to these practices, not only compromising the quality of visitor experience, but also generating negative word-of-mouth messages back in China. This has already been found in a <a href="http://www.sustainabletourismonline.com/41/culture-heritage/understanding-experiences-of-chinese-visitors-to-victoria-australia">study</a> of Chinese visitors in Victoria.</p> <p><strong>Boom and bust</strong></p> <p>There have been comparisons between the inchoate Chinese and Japanese travel markets but apart from the economic strengths of their respective economies, there is absolutely no similarity in the way that these tourism markets performed.</p> <p>Whereas the Japanese market was predominantly pleasure holiday visitors with a propensity to spend money (albeit in Japanese owned hotels and retail outlets) and time in urban and regional Australia, Chinese tourists have very different visitor profiles and expenditure, purpose of visit and main destinations.</p> <p>Currently in Australia about half of Chinese arrivals are accounted for by the education, not the tourism sector, while half is being bussed around gateway cities on package tours.</p> <p>Hence, it appears that Chinese travel is re-defining the boom and bust cycle that has characterised Australian tourism over the last few decades, leaving many tourism operators around Australia waiting for the boom (and the bus) to arrive.</p> <p><em>Written by Jack Carlsen. Republished with permission of </em><a href="https://theconversation.com/the-real-story-behind-the-boom-in-chinese-tourism-to-australia-4258"><em>The Conversation</em></a><em>.</em></p>

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