Travel Editor Stephen Scourfield has suggestions for trips close to home and further afield as he reviews another week in travel
Ross Taylor, founder of the Indonesia Institute, points out that there have been widespread reports in the media that Indonesia has suspended visa-free entry to Bali. Ross says: “Some Australian tourists and agents have understood this to mean that the visa on arrival scheme will now not be available to Australians and that they will need to apply for a formal visa. This is not correct.”
Indonesia has two types of holiday entry visas:
A “visa-free” scheme applies to people from countries such as Singapore and Malaysia, who can get a free visa upon arrival into Bali. This is what has now been suspended.
There is also the visa on arrival scheme, which applies to countries such as Australia. It costs 500,000 rupiah — about $50. There is no change to this arrangement.
(And my thanks to Ross for clearing that up.)
NUSA DUA DEAL
Of all the areas in Bali, I’d head first to Nusa Dua now. And My Bali has five nights at the five-star Courtyard by Marriott Nusa Dua from $1199 per person (with a lot of extra value included). For that price includes return flights (with 20kg of luggage), the five nights in a deluxe pool-view room, daily buffet breakfast, access to Marriott’s private beach club with shuttle service and wi-fi. Oh, and return airport transfers, a two-course lunch, three-course dinner, bucket of four beers, one-hour Balinese massage and more. 1300 332 254 or MyBali.com.au
Reader Annette Birch spotted my recent story about the Elephant Camp in Zimbabwe, which she has visited. Annette adds: “In pursuit of making some new memories for my love of elephants, I have just returned from a three-day, two-night stay at the Chiang Mai Bush Camp, which boasts ethical and chain-free hands-off elephant experiences coupled with the sheer safari luxury in African-styled tents. What more could a girl want? This was a truly magical experience to spend time feeding and interacting with the Asian elephant and to learn about the life of the mahouts and their special relationship with the elephant and nature whilst marvelling at the stunning mountain scenery and Mae Ping River.”
Ed Chiang Mai Bush Camp is in northern Thailand. thebushcampchiangmai.com
GLAD TO HAVE GLADYS
Reader and York resident Felicity Ranger has been enjoying “sunny although brisk” days in WA’s oldest inland town. And so has her dog, Gladys, pictured outside a local cafe. Felicity writes: “Gladys is an asset to York as she is quite a character and ever so nice and friendly. Gladys is hugely liked and seems to smile at people. It appears she is quite joyful. Tourists and visitors to our town seem to gravitate to her for a shared pat and hello. I find it amazing that one dog can have such a powerful impact on the world around her. Geoff the local busker calls her “Gladys the wonder dog” and will sometimes break into ‘How much is that doggie in the window’ on his guitar as we pass by. A good part of being local.
“I am truly grateful Gladys came my way to enrich my life.
“York is always worthy of a visit, no matter the weather.”
COLD & COLDER
I’m sure we all noticed the cool morning last Tuesday ... my motorcycle told me it was 4C as I rode to work at 7am. But the ski resort Thredbo, in NSW, had more to talk about last Monday, having been blanketed by 15cm of snow overnight — bringing the total from the storm that had passed slowly through to 40cm. There’s skiing and snowboarding to be had.
STAYING IN SYDNEY
Reader Veronica Hoskins is off to Sydney on the Indian Pacific, which prompted her to ask me where’s best to stay when she gets there. And that hit on one of my favourite subjects. It always interests me how places “develop” and new areas become trendy and “old” ones get left behind and forgotten. I’m getting to my point that when I stay in Sydney, I like to stay in The Rocks. Why wouldn’t I? It’s near the ferries, all the bus routes, a stroll round the opera house, then 100m up the hill into the city.
Hotels for me can be as straightforward as:
Rendezvous Hotel Sydney The Rocks, mid-$200s a night.
Rydges Sydney Harbour, mid-$200s a night.
Harbour Rocks Hotel, mid-$300s a night.
Reader Steve Luplau is planning a trip to Hawaii, and asking about direct flights from Sydney, and looking first at Jetstar. Personally, I find Jetstar configure squeezy planes (in economy, I usually end up just reading the iPad of the person in front) — a big ask in the nine hours, 30 minutes from Sydney to Honolulu. I’d look at Qantas prices (just a bit better) or Hawaiian Airlines, which would probably be my choice. I’d look for an “extra comfort seat”, with 5 inches extra legroom and USB power. Hawaiian Airlines has been flying the 8161km between Honolulu and Sydney for decades, and flies from Kingsford Smith International Airport and they have good options for packaging in accommodation. hawaiianairlines.com.au
Qantas customers with COVID travel credits have to use them towards booking a trip before the deadline of December 31, 2023. Trips can be taken through until December 2024.
EASING THE PRESSURE
In an attempt to reduce the pressure of tourism in its hotspots, the French Government has committed to encouraging tourists to visit lesser-known destinations. It has yet to disclose the details of its approach to tackle over-tourism, but a monitoring team will assess vulnerable sites. Other favourites such as Amsterdam and Florence are thinking along the same lines. Intrepid Travel‘s Brett Mitchell says: “As the world has reopened after the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been a significant surge in tourism to highly popular destinations. While many tourists are mindful of the potential impacts this can have on local communities, others prioritise visiting these hotspots solely to capture the perfect picture for social media. It is crucial for tourists to acknowledge the potential consequences of over-tourism on local communities and how they can make the most of exploring less popular locations.” intrepidtravel.com/au
For those who haven’t come across them, Intrepid Travel has been championing responsible travel for more than 30 years. The company’s stated mission is: “To create positive change through the joy of travel”. It has more than 1150 tours, each designed to experience local culture. It has its own network of destination management companies in 26 countries, which gives it an unusual level of local expertise and perspectives. It became the world’s biggest travel company to achieve B-Corp Certification in 2018. To get this, a business must meet high standards of social and environmental performance, accountability and transparency on factors from employee benefits and charitable giving and supply chain practices.
The issue of over-tourism does rather remind me of an old joke.
Q: How many tourists does it take to change a light bulb? A: Seven. One to hold the bulb and six to ask for directions.