News and Deals: July 5, 2011 – U.S. Issuing More Licenses for Travel to Cuba‎, A new Prime Minister – a new era of stability for Thailand’s tourism?‎, Venice warned to cap tourist numbers‎ and Cheap flights to Asia: When to buy and fly


U.S. Issuing More Licenses for Travel to Cuba‎
Fox News

Washington has eased travel restrictions to Cuba – issuing more travel licenses that would allow thousands more Americans to reach the Caribbean nation’s shores.

Nine tour operators have been granted licenses to run so-called people-to-people exchanges since May, said a U.S. Treasury Department spokesperson who was not authorized to be quoted by name on the matter.

The spokesperson declined to comment Friday on how many applications have been filed, were rejected or are still under consideration, but said Treasury has been receiving an average of 10 applications each week since new guidelines were published in April, and officials are working to review them.

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A new Prime Minister, a new era of stability for Thailand’s tourism?‎

It was an exceptional result for Thailand’s opposition party Pheu Thai on July 3. By winning an overwhelming majority of the vote – almost 53% of all votes and 262 of the 536 seats in the parliament, this election might finally put in brackets 5 years of political turmoil in the kingdom. The ousting of ex-prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra through a military coup in September 2006 opened the doors to turbulences: 2 governments from Mr. Shinawatra collapsed while Bangkok airports were seized by a group of extreme conservative individuals called “Yellow Shirts” in December 2008.

Despite conciliatory efforts by outgoing Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva to solve social tensions and unite the country, the political crisis reached its peak with the occupation of Bangkok’s business district by the so-called “Red Shirts” during 6 weeks in April/May 2010. Thasin Shinawatra built up its political success through populist measures aimed to help Thailand’s farmers and urban poors. But at the same time, Mr. Shinawatra alienated Thailand’s military and business elites who felt threatened by his own ambitions.

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Venice warned to cap tourist numbers‎
Vancouver Sun

Venice faces an irreversible environmental catastrophe unless visitor numbers are capped, cruise ships restricted and new development halted, a leading Italian heritage group has warned.

The lagoon city risks “losing its soul” as it struggles to cope with 60,000 tourists a day, nearly double the number it can sustain, according to Italia Nostra (Our Italy).

Supporters say Venice should discourage mass tourism and instead court high-spending visitors. The city could also encourage university research and technology.

The environmental group said the threats faced by the city are so grave that UNESCO should consider striking it off the World Heritage List.

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Cheap flights to Asia: When to buy and fly
USA Today

Considering a “bucket list” trip to Asia in the near future?

You’re not alone; according to Hitwise, which monitors internet traffic, the past year has seen a notable increase in interest on the part of U.S. travelers for flight-related information to the three most popular destination-countries in Asia.

Take a look at the chart below; nearly three-quarters of all trans-Pacific fliers from the U.S. are destined for or will transit through one of the big three countries: Japan (39%), South Korea (16%) or China (14%).

The newly minted super-sized United Airlines, now merged with Continental, has the most weekly flights into Asia, closely followed by Delta, which inherited its own strong Asian presence via its merger with Northwest Airlines.

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By: Matt Long

Matt has a true passion for travel. As someone who has a bad case of the travel bug, Matt travels the world in order to share tips on where to go, what to see and how to experience the best the world has to offer. Also follow Matt on Twitter, Facebook and

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