Sunday, May 28, 2006

G4T #35: Tourism & Geography News: Travel Literacy & Physical Geography

This is a Geography for Travelers Podcast related post (click on the title above to download the .mp3 file)

This is another Tourism and Geography in the News episode, with a focus on two topics: Travel/Geographic Literacy and Physical Geography. In the travel and geographic literacy news stories, both the American Automobile Association and the National Geographic Society held their geography contest these past couple of weeks, and issued their geographic/travel literacy survey results, which once again showed how dismal geographic knowledge is among Americans.

The physical geography news stories include volcanic activity at Mt Merapi in Indonesia and Mt St. Helens in the US, the May 27th earthquake in Indonesia, flood warnings to recreationists in California, and the world's largest artificial reef off the coast of Florida.

I close with a couple of not quite physical geography stories about futuristic proposals for New Orleans and an upcoming UFO Festival in New Mexico.

Length: 22min, 41sec

Links to stories in today's podcast:

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Travelography #29: Summer 2006 Travel Trends and Deprivations

This is a PCN Travelography Podcast related post (click on the title above to go to the PCN TRAVELOGRAPHY web page)

Several surveys were released this past week about travel trends in the US. I report on three of them (yes, there were more) in this podcast in this week's Travelography, including Expedia's Vacation Deprivation survey and what you can do about it! Are you deprived?

Links to this week's Travelography stories:

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

E-Conference: The Role of Development Communication in Sustainable Tourism (29May - 9June 2006)

This is a Travel Geographer Blog only post (this is a blog, not a podcast)

This is the third e-conference that the World Congress on Communication and Development has put on. It is really nothing more than a disussion board that is divided into a selected number of topics (listed below). This actually makes if very easy to use, and there is no fee to participage.

The two previous e-conferences did not have a lot of participation, perhaps they will do better with the sustainable tourism topic if readers of this blog participate. Could be fun!

Click the title to this blog posting (above) to go to the Discussion Forum.

The following description of the conference come from this website.

Objectives of the e-conference: to bring together development practitioners, tourism professionals, decision-makers, academicians and communication specialists representing various national institutions, private sector and media organizations, NGOs, international institutions and donors active in the field of communication and sustainable tourism to:

  • share their experiences, information and perspectives;
  • consolidate knowledge on development communication in sustainable tourism programs;
  • discuss the role that communication can play in designing and implementing sustainable tourism strategies and projects at national and local level;
  • identify and share lessons learned and best practices.

The E-Conference consists of five concurrent sessions:

  1. The role of communication in planning and implementing sustainable tourism policies and strategies
  2. Communication and local communities in tourism development
  3. The role of communication in promoting Corporate Social Responsibility in Sustainable Tourism Development
  4. The role of communication in linking sustainable tourism products to markets
  5. Interpreting tourism destinations and orienting visitors

For more information, please download the Concept Note.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Travelography #28: High Gas Prices Impact US Travel

This is a PCN Travelography Podcast related post (click on the title above to go to the PCN TRAVELOGRAPHY web page)

Both the AAA and Travel Industries of America have release data on the likely travel impacts of high gas prices in the US this summer. One current impact is that SUV rentals are cheaper than smaller car rentals, though it is uncertain if this will continue into the summer.

Links to today's stories:

Friday, May 19, 2006

Schmap - Never Buy Another Guidebook?

This is a Travel Geographer Blog only post (this is a blog, not a podcast)

Online destination information has long been available in Web 1.0 format. These websites were rather limited in the past (fear of competing with print guidebooks, I think), though they seems to be getting more comprehensive.

More recently, online audio guidebooks have started to proliferate in the podosphere (podcasts and videocasts/vodcasts), replacing the never-really-that-popular cassette tape guides (examples include, and While helpful tools for general background information on a destination and site-specific walking tours, audio and video guides will never be able to replace the diversity and quick lookup capabilities of printed guidebooks. (I will be writing a broader review of audio guides in a forthcoming blog.) takes a different approach -- and one that is directly aimed at the printed guidebook. The Schmap Player installs on Windows PCs (not Macs, yet) and then works with downloaded destination information (Schmap Guides). Once is a downloaded, the Schmap Guide enables (from the website):
  • Dynamic Browsing - The Schmap Player dynamically integrates maps, photos, reviews and online content, giving you complete freedom to explore.
  • Trip Planning - When you're browsing, searching or playing a virtual tour, simply bookmark places of interest to tailor a trip itinerary.
  • City Search - Search the city, a neighborhood, or within a radius of your hotel - find sights of interest, restaurants to match your taste...
  • Custom Guide Printing - Take your bookmarked places or any other selection of guide content, then custom print a full-color guide, with maps, photos, reviews...
  • Virtual Tours - Play, pause and fast-forward your way through one of our suggested tours, or your own custom selection of places of interest. (The photos used are from with creative commons copyrights.)
  • Tools - Email a favorite place, explore with our cool map tools, click online for user reviews, web search, and driving directions...
Perhaps the most popular feature is the maps, which highlights attractions and services as the cursor passes over their locations. This is helpful for trip planning and preparation, though it also requires that you take your computer with you and possibly a printer if you want to print out a revised hardcopy itinerary and reference. If there were a way to save the information for viewing on a PDA, cell phone or mp3 player, that would be cool.

Only a few guides for the US and Europe are currently available, though forthcoming guides and their availability months are listed. Their dependence on local partners may result in considerable variability in quality and content, and may cause some guides to be delayed or not regularly updated. By late 2006, the site will have couple hundred city and destination guides, including Canada. They hope to cover the rest of the world with time and expanded participation from local partners located in the destinations who can update the Schmap Guides on a 3 to 6 month basis. All of this currently seem to be free and without advertising, though I wonder it that might changed someday. In the meantime, Schmap appears to be a valuable Web 2.0 Travel Tool worth checking out for your next trip.


Sunday, May 14, 2006

Geography Travel News - Moms, Warnings, US Arrivals. Tea & Dubai

This is a Geography for Travelers Podcast related post (click on the title above to download the .mp3 file)

Today is Mother's Day here in the US and I start with a story about the Best and Worst Countries in the world to be a mother today. Not really tourism, but the list of worst countries turn out to be mostly in Africa, which is also where half of the countries are located that are on the current list of Travel Warnings on the US State Department's website. Columbia is also on that list, but it is also on the Lonely Planet's list of Hot Destination for 2006. I then talk about the US State Department's recent Hurricane warning for travelers to the Caribbean and US Gulf Coast, and the recently released international arrival statistics for US States and Cities. The last two items discuss agritourism at the last tea plantation in the US, and Dubai's plan to build the world's larges airport, along with a massive new city. Finally, I discuss the geography implication of these varied news items.

Length: 23min, 29sec
Promo: TravelCommons podcast

LINKS related to today's podcast:
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Friday, May 12, 2006

Travelography #27: Airline Identity Theft Threat, and a Titanic Death

This is a PCN Travelography Podcast related post (click on the title above to go to the PCN TRAVELOGRAPHY web page)

Only two stories in today's Travelography. The first, and main story, discusses a Guardian (UK) newspaper story about how easy it was to obtain identity information on a passenger from a discarded ticket stub, and how this relates to the structural problem of having private companies (airlines) collect this information for governments. The second story is about the death of the last survivor of the Titanic who was old enough to remember the ship's sinking.

Links to today's stories:

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Ethical Travel and Making Mistakes

This is a Travel Geographer Blog only post (this is a blog, not a podcast)

Among the numerous (100+) podcasts that I subscribe to is Travel with Rick Steves, which is a repurposed broadcast of the public radio program with the same name. In his Podcast #49, Rick intereviewed journalist Jeff Greenwald about his Ethical Traveler website.

This was a really good interview, and probably the most critical of tourism that I have ever heard on the Travel with Rick Steves podcast. The Ugly American is indeed often exemplified in the American tourist! (Though they focused someone on Americans, I have seen plenty of other embarassing tourist nationalities, out there, as well.) Personally, as hard as I try to be a sensitive and responsible traveler, it is not always that easy to do. Cross cultural situations are rife with opportunities to do stupid things!

One of the biggest complaints on the Hopi Indian reservation is that non-Indians are always asking questions about their dances. Because the Hopi religion is secret (with knowledge passed on only through special ceremonies at at certain ages of a child's growth), it is not proper to ask such questions. Most tourists do not know this. However, even when this is known, it can easily be forgotten.

I was once in the home on the Hopi Reservation near Flagstaff. I was there to view a traditional dance, and was chatting with the lady who lived in the house. Not thinking, I asked her a question about the dance. My mistake was made even worse because there was a child in the room! The lady hushed me and I immediately realized my mistake. That was embarassing.

Being aware that you did something stupid can even be a self revealing and enlightening opportunity. I guess the problem comes from those who are not aware of the cultural transgressions that they make.

Jeff Greenwald provide good insights into how we can all be better guests in the places we visit. I suggest that you listen to his interview (click here) and check out his Ethical Traveler website.

According to the Ethical Traveler website:

"Ethical Traveler is the first grass-roots alliance uniting adventurers, tourists, travel agencies, and outfitters — everyone who loves to travel, and sees travel as a positive force in the world. We feel that all travelers are, in effect, freelance ambassadors. We also believe that we have the ability to join our voices, and to use our economic power to strengthen human rights and protect the environment."

ALSO: Somewhat related to this, see my recent Golden Triangle Blog on the topic of Aids in Myanmar

AND: Another site that addresses this topic is the World Citizens Guide (see news story here)

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Monday, May 08, 2006

Travelography #26: Airline & Airplane News Updates

This is a PCN Travelography Podcast related post (click on the title above to go to the PCN TRAVELOGRAPHY web page)

An Armenian jet liner crashed into the Black Sea killing 113 people; May 1st was the 25th anniversary of the first Frequent Flyer program, introduced by American Airlines in 1981; Airline experts are predicting both record airline travel and, even worse, record baggage problems this summer; A Malibu, California woman is planning to build a home out of a Boeing 747 jumbo jet; and, How to buy First and Business Class seats for cheap!

I am trying out Vegas 6.0 for this recording, which results in a different audio quality. Though I think it can be an improvement, if I work at it more, I am not sure if I will purchase it or not (a bit pricey!).

Links to news items:

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Travelography #25: Standing Steats on Planes, Smellovision in Japan, and Cruising the Great Lakes

This is a PCN Travelography Podcast related post (click on the title above to go to the PCN TRAVELOGRAPHY web page)

I have three stories that spilled over from last week's Travelography into this special mid-week edition of the Travelography podcast. Airbus is promoting stand up seats to pack in more passengers on its planes; Japan is experimenting with smellovision in movie theaters (potential tourist attractions?); and the Great Lakes are the hottest new cruise destination in the US. Plus, I offer an unsolicited recommendation for

Links to this week's stories:

Monday, May 01, 2006

Sustainable tourism study breaks little new ground - Pacific -

This is a Travel Geographer Blog only post (this is a blog, not a podcast)

Most tourism researchers gave up on the concept of Carrying Capacity a couple of decades ago, as I discussed in an earlier podcast. Yet the media, politicians, and the general public still hang on to the simplistic belief that a scientifically-based single number carrying capacity can determined for any single place. Well, now the State of Hawaii has shown that even $1.2 million, 2,560 pages, and 5 years of research cannot determine a carrying capacity for the Aloha state...

Sustainable tourism study breaks little new ground -


The study sidestepped any effort to calculate the state's so-called "carrying capacity," which was one of the missions set out by the Legislature when it funded the study in 2001.

Instead, the project, conducted by the state Department of Business Economic Development and Tourism, aims to provide guideposts for managing tourism so that the positives of employment and economic growth are not outweighed by the negatives of crowding and diminishing natural resources.