In which we present a regular round-up of news from the world of Grown-up Travel
Canada forced to drop plans to eavesdrop on travellers
Recording equipment in airports and other borders will now not be used following public outcry.
Canadian authorities have announced that plans to eavesdrop on travellers’ conversations at airports and border crossings have been “halted” after a public outcry.
Questions about an audio recording policy were first raised last week. Journalists discovered that equipment had been installed at Ottawa’s international airport to monitor passengers in the “customs controlled areas”. A Canada Border Services Agency official said that no audio had yet been recorded but the technology was intended to “record conversations”. The government claimed that it needed such tools to catch smugglers and keep criminals and other unwelcome individuals out of Canada.
The extent of the monitoring at Canadian ports of entry is not yet clear but in an email to a journalist, the CBSA said: “AV monitoring and recording technology has been in use for many years,” It added that the information was usually deleted after 30 days, and signs warned travellers when they were in an area where audio recordings were made.
More than 90% of respondents to a CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation) Online poll described the move as “excessive.”
Chantal Bernier, Canada’s deputy privacy watchdog, criticised the CBSA for not following proper procedures – which include submitting to a privacy review by her agency. The CBSA says it is now filing the necessary documents.
Perry Flint of the International Air Transport Association (IATA) told the Guardian that while CCTV was now in widespread use, he hadn’t heard of audio recordings being made of travellers anywhere else in the world.
The move could be illegal under Canada’s Charter of Rights, which guards against unreasonable search and seizure. Sukanya Pillay of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association said that any measure intruding on personal privacy had to be “justifiable” and “proportional” under the law, and demanded a privacy review.
Solar plane makes successful flight over Moroccan desert
A solar-powered plane has completed a flight over the Moroccan desert to showcase renewable energy, as a key summit in Rio discussed “greening” the world economy.
The Swiss-made Solar Impulse landed in Ouarzazate at 26 minutes after midnight (2326 GMT) after having taken off from Rabat at dawn on Thursday.
“Once again, the flight was magnificent,” Borschberg said shortly before landing.
Earlier, during the flight, pilot Andre Borschberg told AFP by satellite telephone from his cockpit said he was optimistic about the chances of success.
“The sky is magnificently beautiful and I am pretty confident of arriving at the destination,” pilot Andre Borschberg said.
“I can see far away the Moroccan coast in a superb blue… Today everything seems possible. In Ouarzazate, the weather forecast is good,” he added.
“Mother Nature seems to be more favourable than the last time.”
An earlier attempt to reach Ouarzazate last week was foiled by rough conditions.
When Borschberg made his first attempt to cross the desert on June 13, he had to turn round because of strong winds and turbulence near the Atlas mountains.
Monastery makes pitch for the ‘gap year’ market
It might not quite offer the hedonism of Goa or Phuket but a traditional Roman Catholic monastery is making an unexpected move into the gap year market.
Quarr Abbey on the Isle of Wight is advertising its first “monastic internships”, offering young people a taste of life in a Benedictine community.
There will be no all-night beach parties or Himalayan treks to help them “find” themselves – just plenty of prayer and reflection.
The four successful candidates will receive board, lodgings and spiritual guidance in return for at least four hours work a day every day – except Sunday – cooking, growing food in the Abbey gardens, looking after cattle, pigs and bees or binding books.
They will live by the Benedictine traditions, rising before 5am each day to wash from a bowl in their cell before making their way for Vigils at 5.30am – the first of seven services throughout the day.
The Abbey has a long tradition of hospitality to visitors but the two month placement, which is open to young men aged 18 to 25, is the first extended stay of its kind.
Erotic hotel’s guests oblivious to G20 summit
Just a few hundreds yards from where global powers worked around the clock this week to ease Europe’s debt crisis and revive the world economy, the customers at one hotel were oblivious to the stress and letting it all hang out.
The adults-only Desire Resort and Spa combined business and pleasure as usual, even as leaders from the world’s biggest economies took over Mexico’s Los Cabos beach resort, troops patrolled the streets and beaches and Navy vessels sat just off the coast.
Desire bills itself as a “deliciously erotic” hotel where clothing is optional and guests are encouraged to indulge their fantasies with their partners or other like-minded couples.
Rather than worry about the troop presence or the heightened tension – and snarled traffic – that come from sharing their vacation resort with world leaders, Desire’s guests were said to be delighted by the extra security.
“They feel more secure because they can go out onto the street and they feel more protected,” said Jhaxiri, a 19-year-old receptionist at the hotel.
Desire stands hundreds of yards from the main press center at the G20 summit and just a stone’s throw from where negotiators drew up a communiqué that lays out ambitious plans to accelerate the move toward banking and fiscal union in Europe.