China boom... tourists at a Great Ocean Road lookout. Photo: Simon O'Dwyer
Dark tourism, where travellers visit sites of death and brutality, is the focus of a new centre for academic research at the University of Central Lancashire in Britain. The university will examine the relationship between places with terrible associations such as Auschwitz and Ground Zero and the tourists who visit these sites.
The executive director of the Institute of Dark Tourism, Philip Stone, says research plans include an examination of tourists who travelled to Italy to see the damage caused by earthquakes in 2009 and the tourist industry associated with the Pendle Witches in Lancashire.
Auschwitz death camp. Photo: AFP
Ways to woo in China
Affluent Mandarin speakers from Beijing (population approaching 20 million) to Chengdu (about 10 million) to Guangzhou (16 m) and all parts in between are on the move - and on Tourism Australia's radar.
TA has launched a $1 million project to translate the entire Australian tourism database into Mandarin to help woo visitors. The Australian Tourism Data Warehouse (ATDW) comprises more than 26,000 products and experiences. The translated data will be made available across ATDW's distribution networks spanning 150 digital channels.
Meanwhile, Tourism Australia's next two-minute film in its campaign to promote Australia will be launched in Shanghai next month. And while some leading hotels here are upgrading staff language skills and signage to cater to Chinese visitors, Smart Traveller suggests there needs to be a lot more congee and youtiao on breakfast menus, too. See tourism.australia.com.
Queens of the kitchen
Centuries before MasterChef, the Moroccan dada, or cook, wielded influence in kitchens throughout that kingdom. Italy's Prince Fabrizio Ruspoli, the owner of La Maison Arabe in Marrakesh, has long understood their significance.
"The dada is a highly respected woman who takes cares of the food, kitchen and the kids and she has real power in the house," he says.
The prince, whose association with Morocco started with summer holidays in the 1950s at the home of his archaeologist grandmother in Tangier, established cooking schools in the kingdom in 2001, harnessing the skills of the dada.
"The cooking school sprang from guests knocking on the door of the kitchen and asking how to make a traditional tagine," he says. More than 3000 non-residents attend the schools each year. Attracted by the strong Australian dollar and easier access to the region from airlines such as Emirates, Qatar and Etihad, Australians now comprise 20 per cent of guests.
The dada and students (with the assistance of an Arabic translator) shop at a spice market and baker before preparing cheese and chicken briouate (turnovers), lamb tagine with fig and walnuts and chicken couscous with caramelised onions. A four-hour workshop costs from 600 dirham ($68) a person. See moroccobypriorarrangement.com; lamaisonarabe.com
Who chooses to cruise?
NSW and Queensland-based travellers are well ahead of Victorians in their preference for ocean cruising, according to figures released this week by the International Cruise Council Australasia. The number of Australians taking a cruise last year rose by 34 per cent to an all-time high of 623,294, of which about 40 per cent live in
NSW, 24 per cent in Queensland and 16 per cent in Victoria.
The south Pacific, New Zealand and Australian ports still account for the bulk of ocean-going destinations chosen by Australians. River cruising is on the rise, too, growing by 22 per cent last year.
Vets' global mission
Vets Beyond Borders (VBB) co-ordinates animal welfare and public health programs in developing communities in the Asia-Pacific region, listing the surgical sterilisation of more than 20,000 street dogs and vaccination against rabies of 30,000 dogs and cats among its achievements. Samsara Journeys is running two fund-raising tours for the VBB. A small-group trip to Tibet takes place on August 14-24 and costs from $US2600 ($2500) a person, twin share. A journey to Bhutan takes place on November 1-12 and costs from $US2800 a person, twin share.
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