In which we present a regular round-up of news from the world of Grown-up Travel
Playboy Clubs to open in India with new bunny look
The Playboy club is coming to India — but with “bunnies” in non-revealing outfits.
“The costumes of the bunnies, who are integral to the Playboy culture, will be based on Indian sensibilities and morals,” Sanjay Gupta, CEO of PB Lifestyle, which is bringing the brand to India through a licensing agreement, told Reuters.
India has strict censorship laws and there is no Indian version of Playboy, the magazine launched by Hugh Hefner that became as known for its pictures of naked women as for the hedonistic lifestyle propagated by its founder.
Playboy bunnies, or waitresses, typically wear black satin bodices, bow ties, cuffs and bunny ears. PB Lifestyle has not yet decided what waitresses will wear in India, a socially conservative country where it is frowned upon for couples to hold hands in public.
Even a popular cricket tournament drew criticism and threats when it hired foreign cheerleaders in short clothes, forcing organisers to revamp the outfits to show less skin.
“Our clubs will not have any nudity. So there should not be any problem and we are prepared to deal with it if there is any,” said Gupta, whose media and real estate company signed a 30-year licensing agreement with U.S.-based Playboy Enterprises Inc
Gupta’s company plans to use the Playboy brand and its iconic rabbit-head logo on clubs, bars, hotels and cafes and will spend 2 billion rupees ($37 million) in the first five years. The first Playboy property in India will be a club in the resort state of Goa, followed by one in Hyderabad.
Libya tries to entice travellers
Authorities in Libya are looking to reignite tourism following nearly two years of civil unrest.
The North African country, which is still off-limits to British travellers according to the Foreign Office, is among the more unusual destinations being showcased at the 2012 World Travel Market, a holiday trade show which opened at ExCeL London this morning.
The efforts have been fairly well received. In a survey of 1,300 tourism chiefs attending the conference, more than half believed Libya had the potential to become a popular tourist spot, with just one in 10 dismissing the idea entirely.
“Libya could be one of tourism’s most exciting destinations in the future,” said WTM director Simon Press. “Many destinations such as Vietnam and Croatia have repositioned from conflict zones to tourism hotspots, and there is no reason why, over time, Libya cannot do the same.”
The country is renowned for its ancient ruins, with those at Leptis Magna – one of five UNESCO World Heritage Sites found in the country – perhaps the best known. The former Roman city lies around 80 miles east of the modern day capital, Tripoli, and dates back to around 1100 BC. Other ruins can be found at Cyrene, close to the present day settlement of Shahhat, Apollonia, 12 miles to the southwest, and Sabratha, in the northwest corner of the country.
Osborne accused of making air travel a preserve for the rich
George Osborne has been accused by a senior Tory backbencher of making air travel a preserve of the rich by the tax on plane tickets.
Graham Brady, the chairman of the Conservative backbench 1922 Committee, joined MPs on all sides in attacking Air Passenger Duty in a Commons debate.
“It should not be the case that air travel becomes once again a luxury that can only be afforded by the rich,” Mr Brady said.
“It isn’t a luxury in the modern world. Air travel, whether it be for business or for leisure, is an essential part of modern life. It’s opened up the world, it’s opened people’s minds, it has enhanced the quality of life for all of us.”
This was not the first time that senior ministers, including the Chancellor, have been accused of being out of touch with the problems faced by ordinary families as well as being embarrassed by the high cost of transport.
Philip Hammond, the Coalition’s first Transport Secretary, who presided over some eye-wateringly high rail fare increases came under fire when he admitted that train travel was in danger of becoming a “rich man’s toy”.
Kiwis bank on “Hobbit” hype
From a giant Gollum sculpture at Wellington Airport to huge banners on office block, “The Hobbit” is impossible to ignore in New Zealand.
Tourism chiefs, hoping to recreate the surge in visitors inspired by the original “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy, have launched a massive marketing campaign around director Peter Jackson’s latest Middle Earth three-parter.
Like the first trilogy, “The Hobbit” movies use New Zealand’s mountainous scenery as a backdrop, amounting to what some tourism insiders gleefully describe as a nine-hour long advertisement for the country’s rugged charms.
Tourism New Zealand chief executive Kevin Bowler does not go that far but says the films offer the country invaluable global exposure that can be converted into increased visitor arrivals.
“We aim to show potential travellers that the fantasy of Middle Earth is in fact the reality of New Zealand,” he said.
But behind the hype, official figures show the first of the new movies “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” cannot come soon enough for an industry struggling for momentum almost a decade on from the original Middle Earth saga.
New Zealand’s international visitor arrivals jumped from 1.5 million to 2.4 million between 2000 and 2006 on the back of “The Lord of the Rings” but have remained flat at about 2.5 million for the past four years.
A recent Tourism Industry Association report expressed concerns New Zealand had “lost its edge” and was no longer regarded as a must-see destination.