This week, Travel Editor Stephen Scourfield looks at some exciting new travel trends
WING & A PRAYER
It always interests me when something that’s been used a long time gets a new twist. You’d think aircraft wings were tried and proven in design — but a partnership between NASA and Boeing has come up with a “truss-wing”. It is part of their pursuit of lower emissions flying. “If we are successful, we may see these technologies in planes that the public takes to the skies in the 2030s,” says NASA administrator Bill Nelson. NASA thinks the “transonic truss-braced wing” demonstrator aircraft could reduce emissions and fuel consumption by about 30 per cent, compared with existing jets. The long, thin wings are stabilised by diagonal struts and create less drag, which will burn less fuel, NASA hopes. NASA is putting $600 million into the project and Boeing and other industry partners are funding the rest of the $1 billion.
Malaysia Airlines has joined the United National Global Compact, which promotes responsible practices and sustainable development goals within the aviation industry. And they don’t just cover plane and fuel. Captain Izham Ismail, the airline group’s chief executive says: “We’re joining a growing list of more than 20,000 companies in over 160 countries who have committed to the UNGC’s Ten Principles, and which also share our same values and goals for a sustainable future.” The 10 principles cover human rights, labour, environment and anti-corruption.
Emirates’ loyalty program now has more than 30 million members in 180 countries. A spokesperson for the airline says that to mark the epic landmark, passengers on select flights “between January 30 and February 1” (I just call that “January 31”) will be offered. . . “special branded cupcakes”. Yay. Better (I think), there’s a competition running until February 4 with a chance to win a one million “miles” and other prizes.
Scenic is a standout Aussie success story — and has ridden out the pandemic restrictions and is moving forward. It’s second luxury expedition ship, Scenic Eclipse II, is being built and has just gone into dry dock for painting and final hull preparation. The “discovery yacht” is set for sea trials in February and a much-anticipated arrival into the fleet in April. Its inaugural sailing from Lisbon to Barcelona sold out, and owners Glen and Karen Moroney will be onboard. The ultra luxury ship carries up to 228 guests, and has big suites, lots of dining options and two pools. Scenic Eclipse II will sail down to Australia in 2024 and then permanently be based in the Southern Hemisphere, with departures in the Kimberley, Northern Territory and Indonesia. There will be East Antarctica departures from Hobart and New Zealand. scenic.com.au
Touring companies are taking serious travellers’ demands for more connection, and a deeper view of a place, its people and culture. That’s one of the benefits of being on a tour in a group with like-minded people. A good example is Tauck’s exclusive tour of Milan’s Poldi Pezzoli Museum with local guide Serena Spinelli. It is one of Milan’s hidden gems — a treasure chest of paintings and decorative arts in the home of a nobleman who fought for Italy’s independence and his 19th century art collection. It is generally off the radar of tourists, but the museum is dear to the people of Milan.
LADIES IN EGYPT
Travel At 60 is responding to other trends and demands, with its “Ladies Only” Egypt Tour with Nile Cruise. A spokesperson says: “Due to the enormous interest in this women-only tour, we’ve secured a group of seats especially for Australian over-60 travellers in October 2023.” It visits ancient ruins, lush river valleys and golden desert landscapes. The tour is from $4595 per person for eight nights (not including international airfares). It includes Luxor and Cairo with a local specialist, including the Egyptian Museum in Cairo. Then sail in a felucca across the Nile. There are eight nights accommodation and 16 meals. To avoid the single supplement, Travel At 60 will help pair travellers with another single lady. travelat60.com or 1300 414 198 (and tell them I sent you).
BIRD FLU & SWANS
+ As responsible travellers, we’re careful coming home. Arriving from Bali, we declare when we’ve been in the countryside, clean our shoes and are careful not to bring in bring in foot and mouth. We acknowledge the need for caution if we travel anywhere with bird flu.
+ Associate professor Kirsty Short, from University of Queensland’s school of chemistry and molecular biosciences, has found that the unique genetics of the Australian black swan leaves the species vulnerable to viral illnesses such as avian flu. The first-ever genome of the species shows it lacks some immune genes which help other wild waterfowl combat infectious diseases. “Black swans are extremely sensitive to highly pathogenic avian influenza — HPAI, which is often referred to as bird flu — and can die from it within three days,” says Dr Short. The study’s data suggests that should bird flu get into its native habitat, the black swans’ survival would be in peril.
BACK IN BALI
+ Chinese travellers have arrived back in Bali. The first direct flight from China to Bali in almost three years landed on Monday with 210 passengers. It was chartered through Lion Air. Indonesia Institute founder Ross Taylor says: “Around 1.2 million mainland Chinese visited Bali in 2019, so the re-opening of links between Bali and China will signal that the local Bali economy is about to really bounce back to life. We should expect that Bali is about to get very busy, especially as the pleasant dry season approaches as from April.”
+ Chinese travellers also headed to Asian hotspots to celebrate the Lunar New Year. Chinese tourists spent $360 billion a year globally before the pandemic. For countries like Thailand and Japan, it is a big source of foreign visitors.
RESCUE IN PERU
Tourists have been rescued from Machu Picchu when the ancient mountain citadel was shut during political protests in Peru. The site and Inca hiking trail were closed and rail services suspended, stranding more than 400 people. Peru’s tourism minister, Luis Fernando Helguero, later said travellers were evacuated by bus and train. Violence has broken out since the ousting of former president Pedro Castillo.
Dubai’s newest icon, the ultra-luxury resort Atlantis The Royal, opened last weekend with plenty of pizzazz. Topping the bill was a 60-minute performance by Beyonce — her first live show since 2018. The audience included Kendall Jenner and Rebel Wilson. Across six towers, the resort has 795 rooms, 17 celebrity run restaurants and bars, and the world’s biggest jellyfish aquarium.