Weekly Travel News & Views: February 5 Edition

More great travel news and fun facts from Travel Editor Stephen Scourfield


Dubai welcomed more six million international visitors between January and November 2021. Guests stayed in 136,000 rooms in 743 hotels. Some had occupancy rates of more than 60 per cent — among the highest in the world.

Since opening on October 1, 2020, Expo 2020 has attracted more than 10 million visits.

Dubai has been ranked the world’s No. 1 destination in the Tripadvisor Travellers’ Choice Awards 2022.


Visit Ukraine, the country’s tourism organisation, has a new campaign: “Keep calm and visit Ukraine”. It quotes President Volodymyr Zelensky and the National Security and Defence Council of Ukraine saying there is no reason to panic and the situation on the Ukrainian border remains under control. A spokesperson for Visit Ukraine says: “The country is open and safe for tourists.” The secondary slogan is: “Without panic. With faith in Ukraine and peace!” My thoughts are with them, and my friends there.


Everything is primed for a big year in the UK, particularly with Her Majesty The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee and the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games. With an end to testing and quarantine restrictions for fully vaccinated visitors, Prime Minister Boris Johnson says: “The UK is officially one of the most open countries in Europe and ready to welcome visitors from across the globe.”


The Queen’s Birthday Parade (Trooping the Colour) is usually held on the second Saturday in June. More than 1400 parading soldiers, 200 horses and 400 musicians come together in the traditional parade to mark The Queen’s official birthday.

Continuing a long tradition, beacons will be lit throughout the United Kingdom, Channel Islands, Isle of Man and UK Overseas Territories. Platinum Jubilee Beacons will also be lit in each of the capital cities of the Commonwealth countries to celebrate The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee. It’s the first time such beacons have been lit.

The Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games is from July 28 to August 8 — the biggest sporting and cultural event ever in a city that is home to people of more than 187 nationalities.


The government in Denmark no longer considers COVID-19 “a socially critical disease”. As Omicron cases surge, it is one of the first European Union countries to do away with face masks and digital passes.


Norway no longer requires Australian travellers to quarantine upon arrival. The government has removed restrictions that have been in place for almost two years. (Other) Australians just have to present a negative COVID-19 test taken 24 hours before departing for Norway, complete an entry pre-registration form, and test upon arrival, either at the airport or within the first 24 hours. Hurtigruten, which has been sailing down the country’s coast since 1893, has cruises from six days to a 12-day trip which calls at 34 ports and sails past more than 100 fjords and 1000 mountains. Its six-day cruises are from $1572. Travel agents and hurtigruten.com

Which leads me to point you towards our Cruising Guide. There’s been quite a bit of conversation about this in the travel industry. Given WA’s border backflip, were we going to cancel it? Absolutely not — as it seems even more relevant now, with so much of the world moving and booking for 2023.


Emerald Cruises has released its new 2023 Europe River Cruise Collection, including a new 11-day Danube river cruise from Passau to Belgrade, with city stay extensions. Spokesman Angus Crichton says: “We are experiencing very strong demand for our 2023 itineraries.” There are early-bird savings until September 30, or until sold out. An early-bird booking on the 23-day Discover the Rhine, Main and Danube cruise in an E-category cabin saves $5300 per couple. Travel agents and emeraldcruises.com


From next Thursday, February 10, the Philippines will welcome fully vaccinated international tourists from visa-free countries, such as Australia. They just have to show a negative RT-PCR test taken within 48 hours prior to departure from the country of origin. The move will open the Philippines for 157 countries and the Department of Tourism says it will help restore jobs.


Travel to the Northern Territory became a lot simpler on Tuesday. Fully vaccinated visitors do not have to quarantine or take rapid antigen tests after arriving. They just have to complete a border entry form.


Perisher has built in more protection for those buying early-bird ski season passes. Its “Epic Coverage” is included for all 2022 Epic Australia Pass holders, and includes cover for certain resort closures (including any for COVID-19), eligible mandatory stay-at-home orders, job loss and injury. A pass is $899 for adults, with only $49 to be paid now. Prices go up on March 2. It gives full season access to Perisher, Falls Creek and Hotham and will easily pay for itself in five days of skiing or boarding. perisher.com.au


Qantas can train up to 900 pilots a year at its new training facility at Brisbane Airport. The Qantas Group Flight Training Centre has four high-tech aircraft simulators, for Boeing 737, 767F and 787 Dreamliner and Dash-8 Q400, as well as a Q400 flight training device. Pilots will use them to complete the four annual sessions of simulator training and specialised training they need when they move to a new aircraft type.

It has taken four months to dismantle, move and install the simulators from Sydney, where they had to make way for a road project.

A Qantas spokesperson says most of its pilots are based over east, and the Brisbane centre, along with expanded facilities in Melbourne and a new flight training centre to be developed in Sydney, will provide cost savings for the airline.


The Qantas Frequent Flyer program and BP are expanding their partnership, allowing members to use Qantas points at participating BP service stations. Members can use their points on fuel and eligible purchases over $10 (or 1900 Qantas points), using new reward code technology. For example, a member could fill up a $50 tank of fuel and instead of cash, use 9500 Qantas points. Members can already earn Qantas points at BP service stations — more than 850,000 frequent flyers have earnt Qantas points through BP.


In recent weeks we’ve been mentioning the Kimberley waterfall season.

Well, how about this week. Our far north has been drenched as a monsoon trough moved across the Kimberley. Between 9am on Sunday and noon on Monday, Broome got more than 350mm — more than JU">the 338mm that fell during the whole of last year.