Here are several of the often-contradictory developments in recent travel news:
A dramatic decline in tourism to Paris, currently down by more than 11%, means that the City of Light has become even more appealing than ever to the American traveler; hotels in Paris are reported as willing, on many dates, to bargain for a reduction in room rates. What's more, the decline is apparently and primarily because of the decline in value of the British pound and the consequent reluctance of British tourists to go there; that unwillingness or inability by Brits to travel affordably is expected to last for some time. While tourism to Paris was, in general, badly hurt by the terrorist attack in November of 2015, it is far more affected by the slowdown in British tourism, which is normally the largest source of Parisian visitors.
The day is fast approaching when Americans will enjoy scheduled air service from U.S. cities to Havana: just recently, the Department of Transportation has tentatively approved eight U.S. airlines—including American, United, Delta, Southwest, and JetBlue—to operate such scheduled flights. If this provisional approval is not overturned by disappointed applicants, it's probable that such services will commence this autumn. And thus thousands of weekly seats will be available to people wanting to experience the Cuban capital.
But where will they stay once there? Since the hotels of Havana are said to be fully booked on nearly every day of the year, it's probable that a room in a private home or apartment--the Cubans call these a "casa particular"--will be necessary (and these aren't always the most comfortable abodes). Airbnb.com is among the several companies (look them up in any search engine) that makes such low-cost digs available.
Americans who have tried to sneak a bottle of Scotch onto a cruise ship have frequently found that their drinks were confiscated by the crew assigned to clean their cabins. The cruise lines are insistent on preventing passengers from avoiding the high cost of cocktails purchased directly from the cruise ship. And room stewards are told not only to examine the chest of drawers but also the luggage brought aboard. And now, Norwegian Cruise Line has gone one step further by impounding bottles of drinking water--like a Pellegrino or a Perrier. People whose mineral water has been taken from them are then confronted with a high $6.50 for the bottles of water purchased from the ship's bartenders. Drinkers, beware!
On the Streets of America
In other recent news of travel, it may come as a sobering shock that three different countries—the Bahamas, Bahrain, and the United Arab Emirates—have all warned their citizens about the danger of traveling to the United States. These three nations apparently believe that travel within the United States is potentially unsafe because of the many outbreaks of gun-related violence here. They have especially warned their citizens to avoid crowds in the U.S., and to be constantly on the alert. Though they haven't issued a total ban, they urge their citizens to be cautious.
The Bahamas have also issued a warning to its young men of color, saying that they are especially at risk of being shot within the United States, and therefore should exercise extreme caution about such a trip. Their warnings should give all of us pause.