Tag Archives: tourism

The destination dilemma, solved

28 Nov

I choose my travel destinations in the same way a wino selects a bottle of red: I browse options available, seek informed reviews, develop a shortlist to compare types, values and prices, and then proceed with the option that best suites my taste at the time.

It's time to get back to the drawing board to plan for your trip of a lifetime!

Considering the current high value of the Australian dollar and frequent flight sales by budget airlines, we have access to more holiday destinations than ever before. Seasoned backpackers and first-time tour goers alike are taking advantage of this opportunity as if it’s a once-in-a-lifetime scenario because, really, it might be the best chance many of us get to tick off some big items on our bucket lists. In times like this, how do you approach and plan for travel?

Do you indulge in fancy accommodation and premium dining experiences rather than backpacking?

Do you take longer holidays and spend more time getting to intimately know the places you visit?

Do you check out as many places as you possibly can via an organised tour because it might be the only time you’ll ever venture abroad?

Do you buy more nic nacs and gifts for family?

Several different factors contributed to my recent decision to book flights to Bhutan for the upcoming Christmas break. I initially considered the country because I was craving a taste of Asia again but wanted to avoid known tourist hot spots; Bhutan has a reputation for being the country with the least tourists on the planet!

The concept of holidaying in Bhutan was strengthened when I was reminded that the country has no traffic lights, has banned advertising billboards and measures growth of its economy in line with Gross National Happiness. Yes, yes, yes!

The deciding factor was the realisation that Bhutan will now cost me around half as much as it would have five years ago. That’s right, as a result of the current favourable exchange rate, it will cost me almost 50 percent less than when I have considered the holiday in the past. I know this because travellers can only access the country by paying a daily tariff communicated in US dollars – it includes all accommodation, transport, entry to sights and even meals – enabling me to fairly accurately calculate the total costs relative to time and exchange rates. For me the current exchange savings translate into spending twice the time getting to know the last shangri-la, Bhutan.

I later realised that this decision means I will be going to the Himalayas during winter. Rather than purchasing a fine red wine, I think I’ve grabbed a chilled bottle of bubbly straight off the ice. I’ll toast to that!

By Marissa Toohey

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Moreton Island wild dolphin feeding experience

16 Jul

MORETON ISLAND WILD DOLPHIN FEEDING EXPERIENCE  Dolphins are one of the most adored creatures on Earth and people travel from far and wide just to get close to them. Moreton Island near Brisbane is one of those special locations in Australia where people can pay to hand feed dolphins in the wild. For me, a truly devout admirer of the species, it was a bitter sweet experience.

The family of dolphins have been visiting Tangalooma Island Resort for decades. Three generations frequent the resort nightly, familiar with the routine of feeding at 6pm. Resort staff have watched them grow up and have names for every one of them.

But disappointment consumed me when a noisy flock of over 150 people raced towards the water to take part in the feeding experience during the weekend. The noise, pushing and shoving, and sneaky people jumping the fence to join the queue was too much for me, which made me feel for the seemingly dependent pod in the shallows of the water.

Only a handful of people were actually allowed into the water at a time and fish were rationed to one per person. The rules were firmly announced: no touching the dolphins. But it still felt like the dolphins were controlled for a show, rather than wild creatures as they should be.

Dolphins arrived early and people swum out to meet them.

Another disappointing aspect was the lack of management before and after the show. A number of dolphins arrived at the resort over an hour and a half before the feed was due to begin, swimming into shallow water in anticipation for food. People continued fishing off the pier despite the presence of dolphins below, and others swum right out to meet the wild pod, which is illegal in Australian waters (you are supposed to keep a distance away). Staff were nowhere in sight to manage the behaviours of their guests.

But the experience was still magical and I believe it must be effective in educating tourists from around the world. Getting up close to a dolphin, where you can see their playful eyes and powerful dorsal fins, is really inspiring – even if it was only for one minute. I only wish it was managed by researchers (not for profit) and restricted to fewer people.

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