Official-ESTA.com, a third-party visa application website for the United States Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA), crunched numbers from the World Travel and Tourism Council and The World Bank to determine the countries with the greatest loss of tourism revenue in the first ten months of 2020. They are as follows:
United States: $147.245 billion
Spain: $46.707 billion
France: $42.036 billion
Thailand: $37.504 billion
Germany: $34.641 billion
Italy: $29.664 billion
United Kingdom: $27.889 billion
Australia: $27.206 billion
Japan: $26.027 billion
Hong Kong: $24.069 billion
Wow, ten countries, $400 billion!
But it gets worse:
Official-ESTA.com has also crunched the numbers for the countries that have lost the highest percentage of their GDP due to the pandemic’s effect on tourism. They are as follows:
Macao (a special administrative region of China): 43.1%
Turks and Caicos: 37.8%
Antigua and Barbuda: 33.6%
Northern Mariana Islands: 28.5%
St. Lucia: 26.8%
Out of all of these places, I have only been to Macao. And it seemed to me that gambling and casino related $$ are the focus here. I know people who are from Macao, so I do sympathize, despite the opulent casinos. So, when is recovery likely?
After a few days in the Atacama Desert, we decided to head back to Santiago, and fly over to Argentina, first Mendoza, for some wine tasting, then to Buenos Aires for tango, beef, and some culture. But first, remember the old Yaris we were driving? Somewhere in a pothole, far, far away, we lost a hubcap. Upon returning the car to the airport, they noticed the missing hubcap, and charged me $50!!! Only then did I decide to tell them their junker almost stranded us in the Atacama!
When traveling with no reservations, needless to say, flexibility is the key. So, after finding some cheap flights to Mendoza, and a decent rental car, we decided to use our “superior” negotiating skills for a nice hotel room. But we had no luck at the first place. So, we decided to walk into the best place in town, and make an offer. Accepted!!! And they would arrange some wine tours, vineyard lunches, and even a cocktail party next door at the casino!
What can be more enjoyable and relaxing in the Mendoza countryside? Well, these were pre-GPS days, neither of us can read Spanish maps, nor do we speak much Spanish. But we had a decent rental car, a thirst for some good food and wine, and several days.
But something unusual happened that evening. First, on our stroll to dinner, we were approached by many young Argentine ladies who wanted us to buy dinner for them. We declined. Later, back in my room, the phone rang. Thinking it was Mike, I answered. But it was the front desk manager asking if I wanted some “company.” After declining, I tried to reach Mike to warn him, but he was out walking the streets of Mendoza!
The next day, we must have driven a hundred miles in circles, around Mendoza, looking for wineries. Suffice it to say, signage and wineries do not look anything like California wine country! Arriving two hours late at Achaval Ferrer was not acceptable to them! Nobody else was there, WTH! I think the wine attendant was more upset about our tardiness than our rather lukewarm reviews of his wine.
Fortunately, we had a luncheon and wine tour scheduled at another “nearby” winery (Lagarde), again arriving about two hours late. No problem here. They seated us for lunch about 2pm, brought us some of their wine, and soon, the chef came out to provide our options for lunch. What a refreshing change from Achaval. So, after the tour, we bought several bottles of wine.
Back in town, we parked our rental car, and walked back to our hotel. We came upon a young American kid trying to help some young Argentine girls change a flat tire. Though he was wearing an unnamed Ivy League T shirt, he did not have a clue about changing a tire. So, the two country boys from the Valley had to step in and change the tire. He was so embarrassed, he left without the girls!!!
Several days of driving the Mendoza countryside became somewhat pedestrian. While the region has some interesting wines, and a very rustic charm, it is also rough around the edges with a frontier feeling. We had some decent wines, explored the area, and did not have to jump start our rental car!
Just remember Mendoza is a small town. We soon longed for the big city, so off we flew to Buenos Aires. Mr. Mike loves to walk the city streets. We needed a big dose of the city, more beef and Malbec, some excitement, and the tango!!
From their visitnapavalley.com website: As harvest wraps up, we welcome the start of Cabernet Season – the best time to visit for those in the know. Once the grapes are harvested and the temperatures are perfectly mild, the Napa Valley becomes a haven for cozy getaways, hearty fare, and of course, the world’s most spectacular wine. It’s a time when an intimate atmosphere emerges, perfect for exploring all the culture (and Cabernet) the valley has to offer.
Of course, no mention of the recent fires. I can tell you that driving through a burned and parched valley is not very uplifting. I know they want us to return, but for me, it is a bit soon. Perhaps a drive to the Central Coast might be a better option right now?
The visitNapaValley.com website is excellent. But try discovercaliforniawines.com for a better perspective on our state’s wine regions. You will find a plethora of information and travel ideas on both websites.
Just for fun, look at one of my favorites from the Central Coast:
Details: Gracefully perched atop a stunning promontory at 2,200 feet, our Spanish Colonial style winery is embraced by a tangible serenity. Hawks wheel and bank while the all-day sun caresses close planted rows of lush, emerald green vines. The 100 percent calcareous soil makes no sound as it parses out nourishment and only a gentle breeze flows up through the Templeton Gap from the Pacific. The quiet is bewitching; you want to lay down roots here, just as the four-year-old vines have done. But the sense of peace belies the serious work and effort that goes into the luscious varietals and blends that flow from our limited production winery.
Also, just down the road in Arroyo Grande, is my favorite Central Coast sparkling winery, Laetitia Vineyard and Winery. Just drive south on 101 to Arroyo Grande, next town south of Pismo. One feature we enjoy there is their picnic area. Just buy some wine and bring a picnic lunch. We usually bring sushi. And they allow Lexi on the grounds!
Most importantly, the Central Coast is a better farm to table dining location. Our favorite is Ember, where you will find a menu comparable to any in Napa Valley or the Bay Area. The ocean is next door, and the local farms are just a driver and 9 iron away. And the hotels here are considerably less than Napa Valley.
If you have some favorites, please feel free to share your thoughts and tastes. I have been all over the world wine tasting and traveling. We have some of the best right here in California!
Despite evidence to the contrary, we still celebrate, somewhat reluctantly, Columbus Day. But it leads me to think about the first Japanese person to enter America.
From History Today: A Japanese teenager named Manjirō, from an impoverished family in a tiny fishing village, found himself thrust into a struggle for survival after being shipwrecked on a Pacific atoll in 1841. Following a dramatic maritime rescue, Manjirō was catapulted into a decade-long series of adventures in which he became the first Japanese known to have lived in the United States, circumnavigated the globe and then participated in the California Gold Rush. Yet Manjirō never lost his desire to return home to ‘closed’, isolationist Japan. After a daring effort at repatriation, his knowledge of the United States made him a valuable resource for his native government at the moment that Japan faced the dilemma of ‘opening’ to the West. His story and its significance have been overlooked, but Manjirō (Japanese commoners at that time rarely had surnames) played an integral role in Japan’s relations with the West and its transformation into a ‘modernised’ state in the second half of the 19th century.
Fast forward to his assimilation to the US, and ultimate return to Japan via Okinawa. The story is well chronicled in “The Manjiro Story” which you can google. Here is an excerpt:
Although he was somewhat of a curiosity at first, Manjiro was quickly accepted by folks in the area due to his polite manner and eagerness to learn. Once he had received a decent basic education he wanted to learn about navigation, which had intrigued him while he was on the whale ship. He had difficulty understanding how a ship could go far out to sea and later return to a precise point without being able to observe land.
Through a connection with a friend Captain Whitfield had him accepted to study at the Bartlett School where he could learn advanced mathematics, navigation and surveying. All of these skills along with coopering (which he learned through an apprenticeship in New Bedford) would later serve him and his fellow Japanese extremely well given that his country had been closed to the outside world for so long.
But he made a lasting contribution to both his adopted home in Bedford, MA, as well as his mother country. I think I need to visit his adopted home.
In the following years Manjiro was to share his knowledge of western technology in several ways:
He translated Bowditch’s “The New American Practical Navigator” into Japanese
He became Professor of Navigation at the Naval Training School
He wrote,”Eibei Taiwa Shokei” (A shortcut to Anglo-American Conversation). This was the first English text published in Japan
He initiated the first whaling industry in Japan based on his experiences
He was the official translator for the delegation which crossed the Pacific to San Francisco on the Kanrin-maru (the first Japanese ship to do so)
With the new Meiji government he was appointed professor to Kaisei Univ. later to become know as Tokyo Imperial University (Todai Univ.)
So, my deepest gratitude for Manjiro, who paved the way for my Grandfather to emigrate from Nagoya to California in 1896.
Most of the time, traveling around the world as an American has been positive. People are curious about the USA, our lifestyle, our professional sports, and our democracy. I generally stay out of politics and religious conversations with strangers. But in the last three plus years, the response is markedly different. Still respectful, they wonder what is wrong with us. Case in point:
Pew: U.S. Image Plummets Internationally as Most Say Country Has Handled Coronavirus Badly “Since Donald Trump took office as president, the image of the United States has suffered across many regions of the globe a new 13-nation Pew Research Center survey illustrates.” According to the report, “In several countries, the share of the public with a favorable view of the U.S. is as low as it has been at any point since the Center began polling on this topic nearly two decades ago.”
When my travel buddy, Mr. Mike wore his “Not my President” T shirt (in about a dozen languages) in Hanoi, we were the stars of the show. All of the foreign travelers wanted a photo taken with him and his T shirt! Even in business meetings in foreign countries, friends have said that “off the record” comments by their hosts are totally unexpected. Most of the comments ask what is wrong with us. Including many obscenities!!
My answer? This is what a free (maybe) and democratic election can bring. Anyone can run.
Bottom line: It is a total embarrassment. My next trip is planned for Nov. 5. I hope I can answer their questions in a completely different way. Foreigners look up to us, and expect more. Just give me the America I can be proud of again.
The president stuck by his longstanding argument that if more is done to clear forests of dead trees, leaves, and other debris, wildfires could be virtually eliminated.
California Gov. Gavin Newsom agreed that more should be done to manage the forests, but pointed out that 57% of California’s 33 million acres of forest is owned by the federal government and just 3% is owned by the state.
Newsom also asked the president to “respect” differences of opinion on climate change, which scientists say is worsening the US’s record-breaking fires, which come amid historic drought and heat.
So, this seems like the student pointing out an egregious error by the “teacher”, no?
“It’ll start getting cooler, you just watch,” Trump replied. Was he talking about the upcoming winter, or the long-term trend that directly conflicts with his smug “opinion”?
I would imagine that only homes and businesses owned by Democrats were burned to the ground. That only Republicans cleared the ground around their homes, which is his lame solution to the problem?
From Katie Couric: As firefighters faced drier, more unpredictable conditions on the West Coast, President Trump and rival Joe Biden dueled over climate change’s role in fueling historic wildfires on Monday. In a visit to California, the president expressed skepticism over climate change, placing blame on forest mismanagement. (Fact-check: Climate change is a contributing factor to the recent blazes, perexperts.) From across the U.S., Biden called him a “climate arsonist,” and warned Americans they wouldn’t be safe under a second Trump administration.
I can tell you, first hand, that homes are destroyed, people and animals are displaced, and panic and desperation is off the charts. These people need our help! Forget the politics and divisiveness for just a few weeks.
If you donate on my FB page, a dear friend will match all donations!!! Thank you.
City Lights in San Francisco, Powell’s in Portland, and The Last Bookstore in Los Angeles are my favorite bookstores. I am sure each of you have one as well. I hate the demise of bookstores, and still try to buy as many as I can through Barnes and Noble, as well as local stores wherever I might visit.
Speaking of books: One of the only countries to come out unscathed by the digital era’s death blow to the printed word, Portugal is a country that still loves books. In these atmospheric, utterly charming bookshops and libraries, you can spend an hour–or two or three–remembering that the power of the written word is made all the more exquisite by the tactical experience of a book. Spending time with Portugal’s rich literary history can help you steal some insights into Portuguese culture: its seafaring past, its Jewish history, its classic romantic tragedies, and its affinity for political subversion. These spots, made for bookworms, also boast some of the country’s most stunning views, its best local drinks, and–like any good book–tons of potential for adventure.
I believe our bookstores characterize our people and culture about as well as any other indicator. Some will tell you our society is defined by its educational institutions, yet still others say it is our churches, bars, cultural venues, and recreational facilities.
So, what is it about books? Some people prefer electronic readers. Some prefer podcasts. I still prefer hard copy.
I carry at least two or three books when I travel: a light reading, John Grisham type of book, a heavier, more thoughtful book like Dostoyevsky or Ishiguro, and a travel guide or two. I tend not to rely on electronics, since it eats up my battery. I need the GPS when things get somewhat confused, like Uncle Leo.
Informal trading of books is quite common on my trips as well. I can trade with the hotel, a travel friend, or a book exchange. The only danger is that I might end up with a book that I have read before!! No harm, no foul!
In some third world countries, finding a book in English is a HUGE problem. But the best option is to find a used bookstore, invariably beset with many old “dime” novels in English. You might find treasures like Saroyan or Hemingway, or “dime novels” like Danielle Steele or Clive Cussler.
Whatever you do, just be prepared. Reading really helps to pass the time, and who knows? You might learn something, like a new word, or an old word, used differently.
Books tend also to encourage conversation with strangers. Quite often, a stranger inquires about the book I am reading. Or, I might do the same. Heck, that is how I met a “fat” guy named Bob on a flight to DC. Bob turned out to be the actor, Robert Duvall.
Never under estimate the power of the written word!
I did not realize this: An astonishing 4 percent of the world’s cheese ends up stolen, making it the world’s most stolen food (via Time). If the global percentage holds true in the United States, then that makes 4 percent of roughly 12.7 billion pounds annually (via Agricultural Marketing Resource Center), or 508 million pounds of stolen cheese. How heavy is that, exactly? If the weight of an average car is roughly 4,000 pounds (via the Environmental Protection Agency), then cheese thieves steal the equivalent of 127,000 cars worth a year. Suffice to say, it’s a lot.
I can understand why cheese is stolen from grocery stores. It is expensive, small enough to place in a pocket or purse, and nutritious. I don’t think I have ever stolen any cheese, from a store. But I once attended a large welcome reception. Upon leaving, my frat brothers and I discovered a HUGE wheel of cheese, untouched. So, we brought it back to the fraternity house and had cheese for a semester.
In my working days, the two most stolen items were razor blades and Preparation H. What a strange combination! Blades are expensive, and again, small enough to hide in a pocket or purse. Most are locked up now at retailers, and often have an anti-theft sticker as well. Even today, razor blades remain numero uno.
But (pun not intended), Preparation H is stolen, but not for the obvious reason. It was once considered a great wrinkle remover, before it was reformulated several years ago. Women were stealing it faster than condoms being stolen by teenagers in heat! Retail, in general:
Teeth Whitening Strips
I think this tells you quite a bit about our society. Material things still matter, more than personal hygiene! So, if you steal, please go for personal hygiene. Deodorant and body washes may rise to numero uno on the list!
The numbers are rather staggering. I appreciate the island culture being so cautious. Perhaps all states could learn something from them. The Hawaii Tourism Authority says visitor arrivals to the islands in July fell by almost 98% compared with the same month last year.
Most of the visitors last month were from the U.S. mainland, and only about 2,100 were from international locations.
For the first seven months of the year, arrivals plummeted nearly 65%.
All arriving visitors are subject to a mandatory 14-day quarantine, a measure that for months seemed to keep the coronavirus at bay in Hawaii.
But now, after the local economy began to reopen and restrictions eased earlier this summer, Hawaii is seeing a surge in COVID-19 cases, spurring yet another round of stay-at-home orders and business closures.
We have dear friends there who were temporarily laid off from their tourism related jobs. We have other friends On Kauai who were not affected. In either case, a state that depends on tourism must address this pandemic is a more aggressive manner. Kudos to them!
We have a trip planned for February. But with the pandemic, we plan to visit only Kauai, and skip our normal jaunts to Honolulu to see friends, and to Maui for its usual splendor.
Meanwhile, according to USA Today:
Tourists and travelers are beginning to return to Las Vegas, but mostly by highway and well below pre-coronavirus pandemic levels, according to airport and convention authority reports released Thursday.
McCarran International Airport said it handled 1.6 million arriving or departing passengers in July, down nearly two-thirds from the same month a year ago but up 56% from a million people in June.
Highway travel to Las Vegas approached the levels of summer 2019, reaching 90% of the total a year ago, according to the regional Convention and Visitors Authority. Traffic jams are again common on Interstate 15 when weekend visitors head home to Southern California.
I usually hit Vegas about twice a year. We have dear friends there, and we love to visit them. We go, not to gamble, but to visit, and perhaps some outdoor activities. Our friends who live there are now in California for the summer.
Whatever you do, please keep in mind that Hawaii and Vegas need our tourist dollars, once we get a vaccine, and return to a semi-normal travel routine.
Japan has the world’s oldest population, with an average age of 47 and a life expectancy of more than 81 years. More than 28 percent of its people are over the age of 65, ahead of Italy in second place with 23 percent, and compared with 16 percent of Americans.
But Japan has recorded 1,225 deaths from covid-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, compared with nearly 180,000 in the United States. In Japan, 14 percent of the deaths were in eldercare facilities. That is compared with more than 40 percent in the United States, despite a lower proportion of U.S. seniors living in nursing homes.
The disasters that unfolded in nursing homes in the United States and Western Europe during the pandemic have exposed the neglect and underfunding that have bedeviled elderly care in much of the West. Japan’s more positive experience may offer important lessons for the entire industry as it reviews policies and protocols for the next possible world health crisis.
The contrast is partly because Japan reacted more quickly than Western nations to developments in nearby China, and swiftly tightened controls on staff and visitors at its eldercare homes, said Reiko Hayashi, deputy director general of the National Institute of Population and Social Security Research.
Looking briefly at Japan’s demographics: Population is 126,476,000. The fertility rate is only 1.4, but a rate of 2.1 is needed to actively replace itself without immigration. Life expectancy is 85 years (88.1 for females, 81.9 for males). Median age is 48.4, quite old for a modern economy.
But culture also appeared to play an important role: Experts point to a higher priority given to elderly care within society, stronger measures already in place at care homes to prevent infections and high standards of hygiene.
I can point with great admiration to my cousins. One situation, where my elderly Aunt was confined to a memory care home. My cousins brought her back home since they were not allowed to visit, and she was not lucid enough for Facetime or Zoom.
In another, my cousins removed my two Aunts from Fairwinds, and placed them in a private care home. At Fairwinds, they were isolated in their own rooms, meals were brought to them, and all group activities were eliminated. In the private care home, they could watch television together, eat their meals in the same room, and enjoy some freedom (in their bubble) outside of their own bedroom.
I am so proud of my cousins (Chrissie, Nate, Kenny, Gayle) for doing this. Yes, they can afford both the time and financial resources to do this. But they decided to honor their mothers by making their lives better. And I believe our culture and upbringing resulted in doing what is best for my Aunts.
The pandemic has brought out the best in some people, like my cousins.