Hong Kong disappointment

I have just returned from a three-week, six-city business trip in Asia. I used to love Hong Kong and was looking forward to my time there. I had been there earlier this year and was appalled at the long immigration queues but thought it was caused by the Hong Kong Sevens rugby weekend. But this time, the queues were just as bad, if not worse. It took more than 30 minutes to get through immigration on arrival and more than 60 per cent of the visitor booths were closed. On departure, the queues were long and 50 per cent of the booths were closed. Hong Kong claims to be Asia's world city. With this sort of welcome, it isn't.

- John Maley

Thrifty with insurance

We booked online with Thrifty Car Rental for a mid-size car, picking it up in Providence, Rhode Island, and dropping it off in Boston, Massachusetts. We'd taken the precaution of including $4000 of car rental excess in our travel insurance. When we went to collect the car, we were informed that unless we took out one of the "optional" insurance products, we would be liable for the total cost of any damage, not just the excess (residual), thus rendering our travel insurance useless. Faced with the thought of being technically uninsured in the land of litigation, we felt we had no choice but to spend $50 a day extra on a basic insurance package. We've never had this insurance problem with Thrifty in Australia or Europe as basic cover seems to be included in the rate. Is it just the Thrifty US policy or have other people experienced this anomaly when renting cars in the US?

- Steve Young

Campervan demon's land

We hired a campervan in Cairns and elected to pay a $2500 bond using our credit card. There was no problem with the return of the vehicle and all documentation informed us that the charge would be refunded. Two weeks later, I had not received a refund and phoned the company's head office. Staff admitted they were "busy" and my refund would be sent immediately. It arrived in my bank account six days later. In the interim, I had to pay the debited amount so as not to incur an interest charge on my credit card. To add insult, the credit card surcharge of $50 was not refunded. The van was comfortable and drove well but the gas water heating didn't work; the table edging was peeling off, causing abrasions; no tea towel was supplied; water-level indicators were faulty; no doormat was supplied; and cutlery was minimal and knives were blunt. When you pay $150 a day, you do expect the basics. And the tourist industry wonders why people find Australia expensive and lacking service?

- Richard Moore

Downhill run for ticket buyers

For some reason, only three ticket sellers were on duty on a busy Saturday of great snow conditions at New Zealand's Mount Hutt ski area. Three lines with 20 or so ticket buyers in each line meant a one-hour wait to buy tickets. We have skied all around the world but this was the most absurd ticket-selling system we have seen.

- Nigel Macdonald

Highlighting geoheritage

The article about the growth of geotourism (An eye for the big picture, Traveller, August 11-12), is a welcome story. Geotourism's growth was emphasised at the 34th International Geological Congress, attended by almost 6000 geoscientists, held in Brisbane recently. One of the best series of presentations and poster sessions was on geoheritage, in countries as diverse as Brazil, Uganda, Canada, Serbia, Norway, Vietnam and Australia. While the Traveller article named some of those involved in the development of geoparks in Australia, credit is particularly due to the University of Melbourne's Professor Bernie Joyce, who has devoted a lifetime to the study of Australia's Kanawinka Geopark, made its importance known through his publications, and who organised the geoheritage symposium.

- David Branagan

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