Stay strong

Sharing below the Remarks of Alexandre de Juniac,Director General and CEO at the IATA Media Briefing on COVID-19, 7 April 2020, on the devastating crisis the entire aviation industry is facing globally.

 

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Date: 7 April 2020

Remarks of Alexandre de Juniac at the IATA Media Briefing on COVID-19, 7 April 2020

 

The impact of COVID-19 on the air transport industry continues to be devastating. The industry is burning through cash at a dangerous rate. Some $61 billion could disappear from cash reserves in the second quarter alone. Demand is in free-fall. Worldwide it’s down 70% compared to last year—90% in Europe. And it could even get worse.

There are no words that can adequately describe how deeply this crisis is impacting aviation.

If aviation is not functioning, the economic damage goes well beyond the sector itself. Some 65. 5million jobs are linked to aviation. If the planes don’t fly, the viability of many of these jobs disappears.

Many businesses have been ordered to close or cease operations—airlines, restaurants, tourist attractions, and hotels among them. And if global supply chains are broken, still others in manufacturing or retail will not have anything to make or sell.

Governments acting on the guidance of health authorities will determine when the lockdowns and travel restrictions can safely end. When that decision is taken, the air transport sector needs to be ready to deliver the people and goods that are required for many businesses to start operating normally again.

Our estimation is that some 25 million people’s jobs are at risk until the aviation sector is functioning again. 25 million people is equal to the entire population of Australia.  It is equal to the entire labor force of Italy and larger than the workforce of major industrialized nations like Spain or Canada. The scale of the economic impact is enormous.

From this, I want to emphasize two conclusions.

The first you have already heard me speak about. Governments need to urgently provide financial relief to the airlines. That is to ensure that they can survive as viable businesses that can lead the recovery when we get to that stage. We continue to ask governments for:

  • Direct financial support;
  • Loans, loan guarantees and support for the corporate bond market by the Government or Central Banks, and
  • Tax relief

We received some positive news today from Eurocontrol which has deferred the payment of more than EUR1.1 billion to help airlines maintain liquidity.

Throwing airlines lifelines like this at this critical stage will help people far beyond those directly employed in air transport. That is one of the reasons why we believe that governments must make the viability of airlines a priority.

Some governments are responding. But we are concerned that relief is not sufficiently available. Speed is of the essence. On average airlines have two months of cash on hand. And many airlines are already into the third week of major shutdowns of their businesses.

The second conclusion is that we cannot leave the recovery of the sector to chance. We must have firm and coordinated plans in place so that airlines can re-start operations when governments and public health authorities give us the all clear. And we need to be able to scale-up operations as demand returns.

One challenge will be the physical re-start. If airlines have been largely shut down for a few months, restarting is a complicated thing. All the licensed personnel need to be ready to go. But their licenses may have expired or the airline’s safety audit dates may have passed. Airworthiness certificates may no longer be valid. Schedules may need to be coordinated. Aircraft will need some maintenance work.

We have never shut down the industry on a global scale before. So this will be the first time for a re-opening.

The second challenge is adapting the industry to post-COVID-19 realities. Having gone through the pain of shutting down economies to fight the virus, governments will not accept the risk of reinfection. We see this in the severe measures that China has introduced to limit international flights. It is more restrictive now than it was at the height of the COVID-19 crisis in China.

We are not expecting to re-start the same industry that we closed a few weeks ago. Airlines will still connect the world. And we will do that using a variety of business models. But the industry processes will need to adapt.

So another stream of activity will involve working with governments and health authorities to understand what measures will be needed.

A particular focus will be on travel restrictions. States implemented these on a unilateral basis—closing their borders to others. We should aim to have a more managed and predictable approach to how these restrictions are revised to enable governments to re-open their borders.

Part of this will surely involve passenger screening. And we don’t want to repeat the mistakes made after 9.11 when many new processes were imposed in an uncoordinated way. We ended up with a mess of measure piled on top of measure. And nearly twenty years later we are still trying to sort it out.

In this case, we have some, if limited, time to build consensus around how to do this most effectively. Of course, we will need to work with public health authorities to understand their needs and guidance on any necessary screening measures.

At the end of the SARS crisis, temperature screening was a key factor in returning the sector to normal. We need to find the equivalent process to take us to when a COVID-19 vaccine is available. The goal we should have is an effective set of standard practices that can be implemented globally as required.

A further area of activity is on stimulating markets. With questions over so many things that we take for granted, we have the ability to re-think processes or systems to make them better when the industry starts up again.

And, by better I mean more efficient and less costly.

A good example could be visas. If we can get governments to use e-visa technology we could reduce costs and improve efficiency. Making the process easier without compromising on security would pay immediate benefits when people return to travel.

The 25 million people whose jobs are at risk as a result of this crisis will depend on an efficient re-start of the industry. IATA will be concentrating its efforts to resolve these issues with governments and other stakeholders.

One initial step is a series of virtual meetings—or summits—to which we will invite governments and other stakeholders. The recovery will, for sure, need a strong and coordinated team effort. Among the main objectives of the summits two things are critical:

  • Understanding what is needed to re-open closed borders
  • Agreeing solutions that can be operationalized and scaled efficiently

The plan is to do this regionally, building towards a global outcome. I don’t have specific dates to share yet. But we are targeting to start towards the end of April.

Lastly, today is World Health Day. I will close with a salute to the healthcare workers who are working so courageously to fight this pandemic.

I am happy to take your questions.

 

Teleconference recording

Listen to the teleconference recording (mp3)

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Lets hope and pray the situation improves soon globally and in the meanwhile all of you stay strong.

rgds
Madhavi

 

OS: IATA

Use Technology to your advantage…Take a virtual tour

virtual 1

The last few days have been excruciatingly difficult for each one of us. With the entire world in a state of lock down and restricted movements, with governments telling us to stay at home and to only go outside for food, health reasons , and maintain social distancing, the one thing we shouldn’t neglect to do is look after our mental health .

Since many of our regular social activities are no longer available to us, let us look at things from a broader perspective.

Let’s follow a different rhythm of life, a chance to be in touch with others in different ways than usual.

Let’s be in touch with other people regularly on social media, e-mail or on the phone.

Create new daily routines that prioritise looking after yourself.  Read, watch movies, try new relaxation techniques, or finding new knowledge on the internet.

With all travel ceasing, a good way to indulge in your wanderlust is to make full use of technology and take a virtual trip to anywhere you like, without spending a dime and leaving your room.

If you’re seeking a bit of adventure, check out Google Maps’ virtual treks.

You can hop from climbing El Capitan in Yosemite to journeying around Petra in Jordan to braving the icy terrain and looking for polar bears in Churchill, Manitoba in just a matter of minutes.

So go ahead and enjoy this virtual vacation.

The only remaining question: Will you watch from your bed or your couch?

 

Stay safe.

Madhavi

 

 

 

 

 

Travel Plans gone bust?Take a virtual tour of these top UK tourist attractions.

virtual

A worldwide lockdown doesn’t have to bring back the fear of missing out on your dream  holiday you had planned months back.

Why not make the most of your stay -at- home time and enjoying your day as best as possible?

From Buckingham Palace to the Lake District National Park: Take a virtual tour to these top UK tourist attractions from the comfort of your own home – thanks to amazing interactive virtual tours and webcams.

Featured below are UK’s top online tours for royal residences, museums and galleries, national parks and more thanks to the incredible webcams and virtual tours on their websites.

 

The National Gallery

The National Gallery, in collaboration with Google Street View, has an online tour of its fascinating paintings across seven of its rooms and its central hall.

According to the gallery, those logging on can look at ‘Renaissance masterpieces from Northern Italy, the Netherlands, and Germany, including works by Titian, Veronese, and Holbein’.

To take an online tour, visit www.nationalgallery.org.uk/visiting/virtual-tours.

 

The Beatles Abbey Road 360

An incredible interactive panoramic image by britishtours.com allows you to explore the instantly recognisable graffitied sign and zebra crossing outside London’s Abbey Road Studios – made famous by The Beatles.

By zooming around, you can see the leafy streets of North London and a family trying to recreate the famous Abbey Road album cover.

To check out the image, visit www.britishtours.com/360/beatles-abbey-road.

 

Victoria & Albert Museum

London’s V&A Museum doesn’t offer an interactive virtual tour, but you can browse static images of some of the stunning artefacts that it has showcased via its website.

The museum says: ‘From ancient Chinese ceramics to Alexander McQueen evening dresses, take an incredible journey through 5,000 years of human creativity with our online collections.’

To peruse the V&A collections, visit https://www.vam.ac.uk/collections?type=featured.

 

The Royal Academy of Arts’ online drawing class

If you want to brush up on your art skills, The Royal Academy of Arts’ website has an online life drawing tutorial.

The anatomy class was originally broadcast in February 2019 and features a male model as well as a miniature horse.

To have a go at the class, visit www.royalacademy.org.uk/article/watch-life-drawing-live-anatomy-class. And have some paper and a pencil to hand.

 

Tate Britain

The works on display at the Tate Britain can be explored thanks to the gallery’s collaboration with Google Street View.

There are also more than 270 items in its collection that can be viewed on the site.

To meander past the Tate Britain’s works, visit artsandculture.google.com/partner/tate-britain.

 

Edinburgh Zoo

Edinburgh Zoo might be off-limits for now, but you can still keep an eye on the antics of some of the animals there thanks to a series of live webcams.

The cams have been placed in the enclosures of the pandas, penguins, tigers and koalas. Don’t worry if you can’t see the animals at first – they may just be lurking out of shot.

To keep up to date with the creatures, log on to www.edinburghzoo.org.uk/webcams.

 

British Museum

The British Museum’s collection spans over two million years of human history – and it can be explored online.

Thanks to Google Street View, history buffs can view artefacts including the Rosetta Stone, the Parthenon sculptures and Egyptian mummies.

To step inside a digital version of the museum visit artsandculture.google.com/partner/the-british-museum.

 

Hidcote Manor Gardens

Located in the Gloucestershire village of Hidcote Bartrim, Hidcote Manor Gardens is a series of outdoor spaces brimming with colourful plants and flowers.

And thanks to a bloomin’ marvellous 360-degree interactive feature on the National Trust website, you can wander amongst them from the comfort of your own lockdown HQ. Turn on the sound effects to hear birds chirping.

To gaze upon the wonders of nature visit www.nationaltrust.org.uk/hidcote/features/hidcote-virtual-tours.

 

Lake District National Park

The stunning Lake District National Park has a series of webcams placed at its most beautiful sights.

By logging on, you can see live scenes from Windermere, Conniston Water, Derwentwater, Ullswater, Keswick and Skiddaw.

To check them out, visit www.lakedistrict.gov.uk/visiting/webcams-videos-and-photos/webcams.

 

Sissinghurst Castle

Sissinghurst Castle, in Kent, has a stunning array of gardens and is best known for its blooms of white roses in the summer.

And on the National Trust website, keen gardeners can explore both the rose garden and courtyard as well as the library in the castle’s stable.

To see more, visit www.nationaltrust.org.uk/sissinghurst-castle-garden/features/sissinghurst-castle-virtual-tours.

 

Anglesey Abbey

Anglesey Abbey is a Jacobean-style house with gardens and a working mill in Cambridgeshire.

Online, you can take a tour of the original dining room, formal garden and tapestry hall.

To start exploring, visit www.nationaltrust.org.uk/anglesey-abbey-gardens-and-lode-mill/features/anglesey-abbey-virtual-tours.

 

Hyde Park and Kensington Palace Gardens

Two of London’s most famous parks, Hyde Park and Kensington Palace Gardens, can be explored via Google Street View.

You can tour Hyde Park’s education centre as well as meander around its footpaths and see Kensington Palace, the official home of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.

To get exploring, visit www.royalparks.org.uk/learn/learn-in-hyde-park-and-kensington-gardens/planning-your-visit/our-facilities/virtual-tour.

 

A la Ronde

A La Ronde is an 18th-century, 16-sided house located in Lympstone, Devon, that is owned by the National Trust.

Online there is a virtual tour of its ornate shell gallery and cosy drawing room as well as a panoramic view across the River Exe from its gantry.

To take a peek, visit www.nationaltrust.org.uk/a-la-ronde/features/a-la-ronde-virtual-tours.

 

Giant’s Causeway

The rugged landscape of the Giant’s Causeway in Northern Ireland is a sight to behold – in real life and online.

On the National Trust website you can take a virtual tour of the landmark from four different angles – the Grand Causeway, Aird Snout, Giant’s Port and Port Noffer.

To check it out, visit www.nationaltrust.org.uk/giants-causeway/features/take-a-virtual-tour-of-the-giants-causeway and remember it comes complete with the sounds of crashing waves and birds.

 

Buckingham Palace

Royal fans can venture inside Buckingham Palace and explore three of the rooms – from their own home.

They can discover the Throne Room, the White Drawing Room and the Grand Staircase. Users can click on the icons to learn more about the rooms and the objects in them.

To catch a sneak peek, visit www.royal.uk/virtual-tours-buckingham-palace.

 

Palace of Holyroodhouse

It’s not just the Queen’s official residence you can tour virtually.

You can also discover three of the rooms at her official Scottish home, the Palace of Holyroodhouse. The rooms you can explore are the Grand Stair, the Morning Drawing Room and the Royal Dining Room.

To see the rooms, visit www.royal.uk/virtual-tours-palace-holyroodhouse.

 

Houses of Parliament

No area of the Houses of Parliament is off-limits in this 360-degree virtual tour.

Online you can discover parts of the grand, historic building, including the Central Lobby, the Peers’ Corridor, the Robing Room, the Royal Gallery and both the House of Commons and House of Lords.

To step inside, visit www.parliament.uk/visiting/virtualtour/.

 

Royal Pavilion, Brighton

Brighton’s Royal Pavilion has a virtual tour of four of its rooms, with each providing a 360-degree angle.

Not only will those logging on get to see inside the banqueting room, great kitchen, music room and the usually off-limits red drawing room, you can also listen to an audio guide.

To find out more, visit brightonmuseums.org.uk/royalpavilion/whattosee/virtual-tour/.

 

Canterbury Cathedral

There are several areas of Canterbury Cathedral that the public can enjoy online.

These are the crypt, the quire, the nave and Trinity Chapel.

To start a tour, visit www.canterbury-cathedral.org/visit/information/tour/.

 

RAF Museum

The RAF Museum in London has virtual tours of several of its collections and exhibitions.

These include the Grahame White Watch Office, the historic hangars and Bomber Hall.

To fly in, log on to www.rafmuseum.org.uk/london/things-to-see-and-do/virtual-tours.aspx.

 

Natural History Museum

The Natural History Museum has a collaboration with Google Street View so naturalists can explore the venue from home.

Large parts of the museum can be discovered, although some of the exhibits in the pictures may have changed since the tour was generated.

To virtually visit the museum, visit artsandculture.google.com/partner/natural-history-museum.

 

Stonehenge

Bring the mysteries of Stonehenge in Wiltshire onto your computer screen thanks to the English Heritage website 360-degree tour.

It puts you inside the monument – with clickable white circles revealing more about the unfathomable structure.

To explore, visit www.english-heritage.org.uk/visit/places/stonehenge/history-and-stories/stonehenge360/.

 

 

Stay home-stay Safe. This too shall pass.

-Madhavi

 

 

 

OS-DailyMail.co.uk

 

 

The Earth is Healing. ALLOW IT!

planet-earth

This pandemic we are in the midst of is not just a disease , it’s a wake-up call for all the other issues as well ,such as climate change, environment degradation, population explosion,  shrinking resources,  declining in animal species, rain forests, marine life, fresh water and many more which we have been pushing under the carpet for decades.

So it’s hardly shocking today how a pandemic can threaten seemingly unbreakable social norms and habits and bring us down to our knees.

The fact is we all love to be in control. We fancy ourselves to be captains of our destiny, and masters of our fate.

The reality is that today, more than ever before this sense of control is an illusion, a bubble that the Corona virus has popped. We are gripped by fear and we are bloody well panicking.

It’s so easy for us to lose perspective in the midst of the madness of our daily lives and our projects, works, wish lists, homes and holidays. We struggle to distinguish the important from the urgent.

So this crisis is showing us what’s really important in our lives and what’s not. It’s helping us to distinguish between what’s meaningful and what’s meaningless.

This is not the first time we are faced with a pandemic this size. There have been plagues earlier too. And millions died even then. But back then our predecessors were not inundated by the ferocity of media reports and information didn’t spread as quickly as the disease so people were not aware of what was killing them.

In short this global pandemic and crisis is again a grim reminder of how weak and frail we are, as human beings. It’s a reminder that diseases have no “made in” stamp and is free to travel without any border control.

In the eyes of the world, we may be different; but in the eyes of the virus, we’re just the same-weak and without answers.

We have a very narrow vision when it comes to visualizing our future. All we can see is the ‘now’.

What we are unable to see is how much damage to the environment we have already caused in our greed to wanting more, being more, doing more. We have destroyed the environment faster than it can recover.

Of course the environment has the capacity to heal itself in many ways. The rate of recovery depends on the type of damage being done. Endangered Species can recover in a few decades; Ozone, in a century; Old growth forests in several centuries; the cooling of radioactive waste, maybe hundreds of thousands of years.

But here is a critical point: the environment cannot recover while we are still increasing the damage to it.

We had to learn the hard way that establishing a sustainable planet is imperative. Either we establish it ourselves, or nature will do it for us – and we can be sure that nature will not be as kind to ourselves as we are. And Mother Nature has now taken things in her own hands after being treated so unkindly for so long.

Nature is neither sentimental nor nostalgic. But it is more resilient, resourceful and creative than we appreciate.

And unfortunately we forget that nature did pretty well for the three billion years before we turned up, and it could do pretty well again if we learned to interfere less.

Mother Earth, when left to her own devices, has the instinct to heal and in fact, heals herself.  If only we let it.

-Madhavi

 

 

OS-Los Angeles Times;UN Press Release;thegospelcoalition

 

 

Lean on to the good stuff & Look at the bright side.

covid

Foreseers and Scientists have been cautioning us for decades about how abusing the planet will affect us. People from Australia to California, Puerto Rico, and everywhere that flood and fire has broken out, have learned how the climate change will eventually lead to doomsday.  They warned us that planets do get sick too over a few decades, not a few weeks –although slightly slower than populations do.

And, I think, now covid-19 is a reminder that although we seem to think we have a great deal of control over most things that thought literally just flies out of the window, when you realize that you don’t actually. Things can go very, very wrong, and very, very quickly.

Nobody expected the novel Corona virus to flare up this way. What started off in a “wet market” in Wuhan, is killing many people, and shutting millions more inside, with fear as their main companion.

The main thing about a pandemic like this is that it doesn’t discriminate. Whoever you are, wherever you live, you’re vulnerable. While some of us may fare better because of our age or health, the germs themselves are impartial. This means, we are all in the same boat, for better or worse.

And so is the universality of suffering. The virus is an extraordinary event, and the horror it unleashes is extraordinary, too. But suffering is anything but extraordinary. All of us are hostages to forces over which we have no control.

This is not our first test as a species and it won’t be our last. A pandemic like this simply forces us to think about our responsibilities to the people around us. The simplest and probably the most important thing you can do to control the spread of this virus is to take precautions like social distancing. That’s the only way to flatten the epidemic curve, and by doing so will literally save lives.

The cost of this pandemic will be not just financial. What comes next is unclear. And the pain will not be distributed equally. Many people will lose income due to work stoppages or potential lockdowns.

Kids from low-income families will miss meals if schools are cancelled; parents  will miss work if they have to stay home to take care of them; Students in universities are already having nightmares about their future; If companies start laying off workers or give pay cuts the economics of running a household  will become burdensome to so many families.

And the list goes on and on.

But let us not buy into the hysteria of a virus fear. Let us stay strong. We live on a planet where viruses and bacteria are everywhere. Let’s face it fearlessly.

And if we’re fated to go through this passage, we may as well learn something from it.

We are being reminded to keeping loved ones close and that our health is the ultimate abundance. And even though we may feel alone we are actually together in this.

We are being reminded that it is better to live a life with minimum needs and not burden ourselves, our homes, our countries and more importantly our planet, with any more than is absolutely necessary for our survival.

It is teaching us that our villages, towns, cities need not be over-populated, over constructed and over burdened.

It is teaching us to respect the food chain in our ecosystem.

Maybe it is the year of truth, a year of change, a year of the new world. Maybe our planet and the entire human race is going through evolution and changes at the energy levels.

Maybe this disaster is giving us an opportunity to heal and rebuild the planet itself from scratch.

Let us heal our own karma, by putting aside greed, and only thinking of one self. Let us focus on the wellness and well being of each individual, each plant, each species, and each life-form on this planet.

Let us raise our positive vibes together. Let our energy, our vision, our words, and our thoughts, shape how we want our tomorrow to be.

This might also be the moment when we decide to fully embrace the idea that what happens elsewhere matters that there’s no real way to shut out the rest of the planet. That’s true for the virus, which seems to have seeped through most of the world’s borders in a matter of days.

In order for substantive progress to take place humanity needs to operate from a point of solidarity, empathy, equity, and moral clarity.

And also, what we need to understand is the meaning of the Native American proverb, “We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors; we borrow it from our children.”

So let’s take care of each other, our planet and its resources and understand that each sunrise offers us a wonderful new opportunity to make the world a better place for you and me.

-Madhavi

 

 

OS:The Guardian

Niksen-the Dutch art of doing nothing

niksen

It’s always amusing when a single word from a foreign language kick starts an entire lifestyle trend, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

Sometimes all a person needs is a little bit of inspiration, or a spark of encouragement, to make changes they’ve been craving all along.

Do you remember hygge, the Danish concept of coziness that captivated people’s imaginations?

Or lagom, the Swedish idea of living in moderation and friluftslivb  the concept of open-air living?

And more recently one heard of dostadning, a.k.a. Swedish Death Cleaning, or the act of slowly and steadily decluttering one’s home as the years go by.

And now another word is making its way into wellness headlines, and this time hailing from the Netherlands.

The word is ‘NIKSEN‘ and it “literally means to do nothing, to be idle or doing something without any use.

Why is it so valuable, you may ask? Well, for one, it stands in stark contrast to the way in which most people live these days, rushing around from dawn till dusk with an unending to-do list.

The duties never end. We do this, despite knowing how unhealthy it is, depriving us of downtime, of sleep, of time to think, of time spent with family and engaging in hobbies.

Whereas mindfulness is about being present in the moment, niksen is more about carving out time to just be, even letting your mind wander rather than focusing on the details of an action.

Practicing niksen could be as simple as just hanging around, looking at your surroundings, simply sitting in a chair looking out of the window, or listening to music —as long as it’s without purpose, and not done in order to achieve something or be productive.

Studies have shown that niksen offers emotional perks — like reducing anxiety — to physical advantages — like curtailing the aging process and strengthening the body’s ability to fight off a common cold.

Another benefit of niksen is that it can help people come up with new ideas, when we do nothing; our brain is still processing information and can use the available processing power to solve pending problems, which in turn can boost one’s creativity.

For many, doing nothing isn’t as simple as it sounds. In fact, it can be somewhat challenging to sit still and stare out a window when one is used to doing something at all times.

But then one has to dare to be idle. It is all about allowing life to run its course, and to free us from obligations for just a moment. We need to train our minds to wander in a way that’s imaginative and creative. Some “gateway” practices to niksen could be taking a walk in nature, gardening, and reducing tech tine or just meditate.

Niksen gives a name to a concept I already embrace at home. I adore lazy weekends with my family, when there is nothing on the docket and nowhere to be. My favorite evenings are the unscheduled ones, when I can lie on the couch and read a novel. I suppose one might call that productive, but to me its pure idleness and I love it.

Niksen is the antidote to stress and burnouts.

Niksen is giving you permission to hibernate without an intention.

Niksen is taking time off to embracing life’s pauses.

 

-M

 

OS:PC-Treehugger

Ecotourism-the need of the hour

kaala-pathar-beach

Ecotourism also called sustainable tourism can be defined as “responsible travel to natural areas that conserves the environment, sustains the well-being of the local people, and involves interpretation and education meant to be inclusive of both staff and guests.

Ecotourism is a part of environmental conservation, and a form of sustainable travel that supports the local environment instead of putting more pressure on it and exploiting its resources.

Things are rarely simple, however, and ecotourism is a complex concept. Its importance is growing more and more each year, as more and more people travel farther and farther away.

houseboat-kerala

The most important thing here is how aware are you as a tourist. Not only should you be aware of your impact both on the local environment and on the local community, but you should try, within reasonable limits, to reduce this impact. Common themes in this context are recycling, responsible water consumption, local craftsmanship, and cycling or walking as opposed to driving. A great emphasis is placed on protecting local species, especially the threatened species.

It’s also important not to be fooled by pleasant words — a vacation isn’t “ecotourism” just because it says so on the brochure, without any actual justification.

Ecotourism is one of the fastest-growing sectors of the tourism industry, and tour operators will try to lure clients using eco-advertising.

self-drive-nz

Looking at things from a wider perspective, it’s also about the size of the groups. You can’t do mass-ecotourism, it’s an oxymoron — ecotourism has to be done in small or medium groups.

If the industry sources are to be believed, the world’s airlines are estimated to be carrying close to 5.9 billion passengers by 2030. There’s no getting around it: as living standards increase globally, tourism is set to grow. Which means we will obviously be putting a huge burden on the already crumbling environments, as tourism places a substantial burden on ecosystems?

Tourism also necessitates additional infrastructure, such as water treatment plants, sanitation facilities, and lodging. Oftentimes, local communities are not able to sustainably offer these conditions and the results are devastating. Especially in vulnerable areas, the increase in visitors can lead to significant environmental degradation. Wherever people go, they leave behind garbage – and even if it is left in bins, it can still create a dangerous imbalance.

Safaris and animal photographing can scare creatures. Feeding wildlife can teach them bad habits and leave them depending on humans. Even just walking can lead to soil erosion and destruction of animal paths. It can be hard to accept, but everything we do has an impact on wildlife – we should be conscious of this.

The world absolutely needs more ecotourism. It teaches travelers to be more attuned to the pristine areas of the world, it helps educate people, and it provides funds for conservation as well as for local communities

Agreed that the terms ‘ecotourism’ and ‘sustainable tourism’ are an oxymoron on the whole, and that you can’t travel in a way that helps the environment, since you will be leaving your carbon footprint as you fly.

But there is still so much you can do to reduce your impact and at least in some aspects, even make a positive difference. There is always room for improvement. Here’s how.

  • Minimize impact. If you must, travel by plane. If you can avoid it, try a train instead. Walk or bike instead of driving or at the very least, use public transportation. Respect local resources and don’t waste.
  • Provide direct financial benefits for conservation. If it’s real ecotourism, much of the money you’re paying will go to conservation.
  • Provide financial benefits and empowerment for local people. Buy local, authentic products – they’re higher quality, genuine, and they support the locals. This way, they get much more financial benefits than from mass tourism – even if the number of tourists is much lower.
  • An important fact of eco-friendly travels is avoiding “green” traps. Some people mistake any form of nature travel with ecotourism. Just because you’re in nature doesn’t mean you’re doing something right – on the contrary, it often means that your impact is high and negative. Things like jungle travelor adventure travel are not eco-friendly and shouldn’t be confused as such even though many touristic operators use buzz words like “green” or “eco-friendly” – this is a clear case of green washing.

Safareya local

That’s the bottom line; ecotourism should concern three main things:

  1. the wellbeing of the local environment
  2. the wellbeing of the locals
  3. The high-quality experience of the tourist.

 

It’s a way to make a massive difference and it’s something which I hope more and more people will start doing.

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-M

 

 

Celebrating Shiv Ratri in the oldest city of the world.

vranasi

Varanasi also known as Benaras or Kashi, one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world, and is regarded as the holiest place in the world in Hinduism.

According to legend, the city was founded by the Hindu deity, Lord Shiva, around 5,000 years ago, thus making it one of the most important pilgrimage destinations in the country.  In Hindu cosmology, the city is considered the, “center of Earth”, and most religious activity here occurs around stair structures called ‘Ghats’.

Mark Twain described Varanasi as “older than history, older than tradition, older even than legend and looks twice as old as all of them put together”.

Varanasi is a bridge or ‘tirtha’ between heaven and earth, a crossing point where Gods visit this world and mortals travel to the next. The city is known for its belief that any one leaving his / her mortal body here, goes to heaven in their afterlife. Its location on the banks of the sacred Ganges River also contributes to its prestige as an important site of pilgrimage.

There is possibly not a single month, when Varanasi is not preparing or in the midst of a festival. The city celebrates its festivals with such zealous fervour, that it is difficult not to get drawn into the carnivalesque atmosphere. Pick any month and you will find some festival to plan your trip around. There is never a dull moment in the city.

The city known as the spiritual capital of India, has one of the most important Shiva temples in the country and hence it’s quite natural that Maha Shivaratri (the wedding of Shiva & Parvati) is celebrated here in a grand manner. Mahashivratri, “The Great Night of Shiva” is considered the most significant event in India’s spiritual calendar.

kashi

The festival sees more than a million Hindus from all over India, converge at the Kashi Vishwanath Temple, one of the most famous Hindu temples dedicated to Lord Shiva.

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The city is thrown into frenzy as hundreds of small troupes carry bedecked Shiva idols in processions to the Shiva temples. The preparation starts early in the morning with a parade that starts from and ends at the Tilbhandeshwar temple. The procession lasts roughly about 5 hours and it is celebrated with loud music in the background and people consuming Bhaang (a form of marijuana legal and common in Varanasi) and dancing in the procession. As marijuana is considered as the blessing of Lord Shiva, a lot of people do it here for religious reasons. After the procession, everyone returns back to the temple, offers their prayers and perform rituals.

Out of the 88 Ghats in Varanasi the most popular one is the Dashashwamedh Ghat. It attracts a large gathering every evening, when a group of priests performs a synced ritual known as Ganga aarti -to praise and pray to Goddess Ganges with lights, Conch sounds and bell ringing along with Vedic chants.

dashwameda

The aarti is always carried out facing the river Ganga. It starts by lightning up the multi-tiered brass lamps, along with a well synchronised chanting of mantras and blowing the conch shells. The shells are known to sanctify the atmosphere. The other remaining priests light the incense sticks and offer it to the goddess in a clockwise circle.

Ganga-Aarti-at-Dashashwamedh-Ghat-on-the-banks-of-The-Ganga-Shutterstock.com_

Witnessing the Ganga aarti is no less than a spectacle. The energy around this daily ritual fills your core with peace and tranquillity.

ganga_aarti_as_seen_from_the_boatride_on_the_ganges

 

Maha Shivratri falls on 21st February this year.

 

-M

 

PC: AirPano.com;VaranasiTourism; Youtube;Indiatimes;

 

Family friendly holidays

Summer-Family-Holidays-Family-on-the-Beach

Summer is just a few months away. It’s about time to plan that vacay with the family. Travelling with your wee ones need not just be mainly resorted to theme parks. Some ccities make great getaways—short or long—for families. They are hubs for direct flights, ample accommodations, top-notch restaurants and iconic, innovative attractions as well as some of them provide a touch of history, making them both educational and fun and appealing to all ages.

So let’s dust off your passport and pack up your kids for adventures in these family-friendly world cities.

Orlando

disney

Why it’s great for kids: Orlando’s an absolute paradise for kids of all ages, with home to not one but four action-packed Disney theme parks.

Put it on your itinerary: The fun doesn’t stop once you’ve explored Disney World, as the Kennedy Space Center is just a short drive from Orlando. The kid-friendly museum displays America’s space rockets and even lets you touch a piece of moon rock! The museum’s located on Florida’s Space Coast, which boasts tons of gorgeous beaches. However, when it comes to nature, it’s not just sandy shores that impress children and parents alike. Florida’s famous for its marshlands, and the whole family can glide through the swamps on an air boat. Be sure to keep an eye out for gators!

London

londres-legoland

Why it’s great for kids: With a host of historical attractions and many contemporary exhibits, the British capital city just screams ‘kid-friendly’.  There’s no language barrier, the food is kid-friendly (those chips!), and there’s lots to do around one of the major characters of modern childhood—Harry Potter.

Put it on your itinerary: Many of London’s main attractions, like the Tower of London and the British Museum, are geared to be family-friendly, so they’re incredibly interesting for both you and your little ones. Your kids will love spotting red telephone boxes, exploring Tower Bridge and following the River Thames as it meanders across the capital. If any of you are Harry Potter fans, you’ll all be in your element at the Warner Bros Studio Tour; and just outside of the city are theme parks like Lego land and Chessington World of Adventures which are easily accessible by public transport. There are also plenty of whimsically themed high tea experiences (try the Mad Hatters Tea Party at the Sanderson) and endless free museums, including the Natural History Museum and the Science Museum.

Cancun

cancun

Why it’s great for kids: You’ll get the best of both worlds — a bustling city culture and a beach vacation.

Put it on your itinerary: Parque de Palapas, the city’s central park, offers food carts, performances, and the kiddo essential, playgrounds. Mercado 28 is a bustling marketplace where you and the kids can bargain for local treasures to bring home. Isla de Mujeres lets you get away from the city’s hustle and bustle with a trip out to this laid-back island just off the coast — the Garrafon Reef Park there lets you swim with dolphins or stingrays or take a ride on a zip line. When you’re not busy lazing on the beach, make sure you head out to tour Chichén Itzá, the Mayan Ruins nearby.

Copenhagen

copen

Why it’s great for kids: Denmark’s capital is literally a fairy-tale city — it’s where Hans Christian Andersen wove his classics, like The Little Mermaid. And if your kids are even mildly Lego-obsessed, they’ll probably be thrilled at a chance to visit the country where the blocks were first created.

Put it on your itinerary: Copenhagen is home to the Tivoli Gardens, the amusement park that is said to be the inspiration for Walt Disney’s amusement parks. With gorgeous gardens and architecture and one of the world’s oldest still-in-use wooden roller coasters the Tivoli gardens, with rides and games, is an awesome place to take kids of all ages, and adults that want to indulge the kid in them! There are roller coasters for older children and kiddie rides for wee ones. And if your children don’t like rides, there are musical performances and pantomimes to enjoy. When it’s lit up at night, the park is a joy to stroll through.

Other than Tivoli Gardens, children will enjoy viewing the statue of the Little Mermaid from the Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale, and posing for a photo with her. Watching the changing of the guard at Amalienborg Palace is wonderful. And if you and your family are looking for a green space to enjoy, the King’s Garden is the ideal place to go. You can picnic on the grounds and enjoy some chill time here. Copenhagen is a fun destination and very family-friendly.

Dubai

dubai

Why it’s great for kids: Full of architectural superlatives, the Emirate with the tallest building (Burj Khalifa), vastest sand desert, and largest mall, is great for adventure, relaxation, and even good old-fashion theme park fun.

Put it on your itinerary: The city isn’t all fancy cars and glittering skyscrapers (although there are plenty of both). It’s also home to adventures your kids (and you!) will love, from feeding a three-foot-wide turtle at the Dubai Turtle Rehabilitation Project to catching a free show at Dubai’s massive musical fountains. Once you venture outside the city limits, there are camel rides, sand skiing (think of it as hot-weather sledding!), and dune-bashing (where your Jeep guns it over sand hills, so you feel like you’re on a rollercoaster) through the Arabian Desert. Check in at Atlantis The Palm for loads more family-friendly activities: There’s the Middle East’s largest water park, an aquarium holding more than 65,000 creatures, and evening programming for kids age 3-12  You can also explore the souks of Old Dubai where you can shop for textiles, spices, and even gold on the streets alongside the Dubai Creek.

Sydney

Sydney

Why it’s great for kids: Sydney is one of the most family friendly cities in Australia. The city has plenty of things to do for all the ages. For the smaller kids, there are extraordinary zoos, great aquariums, wildlife parks, plenty of playgrounds and there is even a Luna Park as well.

Put it on your itinerary: Admit it: You’ve always wanted to visit Australia. If your kids are old enough to make it through the long plane ride out there, now’s the time: There’s plenty to make you feel like a giddy little kid, from being blown away by the Scienceworks Museum to checking out the march of the penguins at Phillip Island to seeing the forest and fern gullies from the century-old Puffing Billy Steam Railway. There is a ferry trip on the Sydney Harbour, iconic Sydney Opera House to explore, Darling Harbour, tonnes of museums, Blue Mountains, beautiful beaches and even a Haunted Sydney walking tour to check out. Sydney Aquarium is home to more than 12,000 marine animals, including dugongs (sea cows). And there are a ton of ways to see Sydney’s sights, whether you and your family venture up to walk across the Sydney Harbour Bridge, or Skywalk on a glass-floored platform above the city.

614-Magic-Kingdom-main

The fact is that kids — even young ones — love traveling for the same reasons we do: They get to have a new routine, spend time with the people they love, and eat fun snacks. Plus the parents get to experience places that can make them feel like a child again, which is gratifying.

 

-M

 

 

PC:Pinterest;WaltDisney;VisitLondon;LonelyPlanet

 

The planet is dying. Are you going to save her ?

6-climatechange

The numbers are grim. Humans have significantly altered three-quarters of the earth’s land area, and leaving more than half a million species without enough habitats to survive.

Our forests are flattened. We’ve destroyed a third of the planet’s forest cover.

Our oceans are running dry. Our development of coastlines, drilling of sea beds, and plastic pollution make the seas inhospitable to healthy marine life populations.

Climate change, Industrial pollution, Epidemics, the list is endless.

virus

And most of this is caused due to human interference with nature. Oceans have more plastic than fish; hills have more rubbish strewn by us than what it can sustain.

We need to understand the role nature plays in our life. We do not exist independently of nature. We need pollinators to grow fruits and vegetables, freshwater streams and wetlands to supply and filter drinking water, fertile soils to meet our agricultural demands, forests to provide medicines, and oceans to provide food.

So what is the tipping point before the earth around us totally collapses?

How more of the blame game are we going to be playing, before the planet totally caves in and disintegrates?

How much more collateral damage are we going to allow in the name of progress?

What are we leaving behind for the future generations to come?

Is rapid technological progress and human activity that continue to add heat trapping greenhouse gases to the atmosphere, driving the Earth to the edge?

pollution

Every day, new evidence of our unsustainable impact on the environment is emerging. We are seeing the effects of climate change from the North Pole to the South Pole and everywhere in between.

The UN estimates that, in the last 10 years, climate-related disasters have caused $1.4 trillion of damage worldwide. The unprecedented loss of biodiversity we are seeing today is an existential threat to human life and economic development. If the biodiversity index were considered akin to the stock market, our planet would be heading for a spectacular crash.

No human technology can fully replace “nature’s technology”, which is perfected over hundreds of millions of years in sustaining life on Earth.

We can’t have a prosperous future on a depleted planet. If we continue to produce, consume and power our lives the way we do right now, forests, oceans and weather systems will be overwhelmed and collapse.

Bottom line: We can fix this.

planet-earth 

We have the power to stop the projected ecological catastrophe, but it will require a paradigm shift—a radical reorganizing of our technological, economic, social, and economic systems.  We will have to say a Good-bye to extractive industries, like mining, biomass, and fossil fuels, and say hello to recycling, renewables, and reusables.

We must curb our consumption rates across the board, (ditching our plastic habits is just the beginning). And trade-offs—less meat for more vegetables, more public transit for less pollution.

And we must, above all, make the planet’s natural systems a leading priority in our collective fights for a better world. Anything less won’t cut it.

The moot question however is- are we willing?

 -M

 

 

PC:CC0 Public domain;WashingtonPost;Economictimes