Awesome Video That Will Make You Want to Go Hiking In Southern Portugal

Rota Vincentina

I don’t speak any Portuguese, but this video makes it pretty clear that I want to now go and hike in Southwestern Portugal.

A tourism video for the Rota Vicentina, a long distance path that totals 350 kilomters of trails, showcases a look into all the gems that the area has to offer, and a reminder of the importance of slow travel.

A Portuguese friend sent it to me, and I didn’t even realize that I could have watched it in English from the beginning. Granted, you could watch the English version of the video to have a better understanding, but I think it loses its charm. Five minutes of this and you’ve got your hiking trip to Southwest Portugal nailed down: you will get to see beautiful coastline, you will meet locals who will most likely serve you amazing food, you will get to play with cute baby lambs, you will get to go cliff jumping and you will see surfers in a Volkswagen van.

Now you just need to go and pack your hiking gear.

French Given Etiquette Manual To Combat Rudeness

paris eiffel tower
Gary Cycles, Flickr

French tourism authorities desperate to overhaul the country’s reputation are handing out a manual aimed at teaching locals how to be polite to foreigners. France is the number one tourist destination in the world with nearly 30 million people visiting the capital in the past year; however, many foreigners leave Paris feeling snubbed by the locals.

The unhelpful tone and attitude used by shopkeepers or the unwillingness to speak English to tourists has earned the French a reputation for rudeness causing tourism bureaus to fear they will start losing visitors to friendlier cities in Europe.

The six-page booklet “Do You Speak Touriste?” teaches locals how to greet foreigners in a number of different languages and explains some of the cultural peculiarities of various nationalities. This includes referring to Brits by their first names, welcoming Italians with a firm handshake and greeting the Chinese (who are described as “fervent shoppers”) with a smile and a “Ni Hao.“Around 30,000 copies of the etiquette guide have been handed out to wait staff, taxi drivers, hotel managers, retail sales staff and other Parisians who regularly come into contact with tourists.

This is not the first attempt to encourage the French to be more polite to visitors – just last year the Parisian transport authority launched an ad campaign to end rudeness, and back in 2008, a group of locals set up a meet and greet service designed to showcase the friendlier side of the local folk. Five years on, the effort to combat rudeness continues… old habits, it seems, die hard.

Official To Chinese Tourists: ‘Be Quiet, Don’t Spit’

Chinese tourists
Kim Traynor

A senior official in China has urged Chinese tourists to improve their behavior, the South China Morning Post reports. Vice-Premier Wang Yang said the “breeding” of some Chinese tourists leaves something to be desired and there are problems with them, “talking loudly in public places, jay-walking, spitting and willfully carving characters on items in scenic zones.”

Mr. Yang is backing up his warning. He made the comments at a meeting where the Communist Party passed a law that will allow travel companies to cancel their contracts with tourists who “violate social ethics.” While the wording is vague, it basically means tour companies can send embarrassing guests home.

Needless to say, this bit of news is causing much snickering in the Western press, but personally I haven’t noticed that Chinese tourists are any ruder than any other kind of tourist. Having lived in tourism epicenters such as Madrid and Oxford, I’ve seen plenty of Chinese tour groups and never witnessed any spitting. The only bit of obnoxiousness I saw was a group walking through Oxford with a tour leader giving her spiel on a megaphone. Yeah, passing through the dreaming towers of academe with a bloody megaphone. The Oxford police must have put a stop to it because I never saw it again.

Considering that the Chinese come from a culture where international tourism is a very recent phenomenon, I think on the whole they behave quite well. As China reaches out into the world, however, the government has become increasingly image conscious, doing such PR blitzes as putting on grandiose Chinese New Year’s shows in places like the Estonian capital Tallinn, a city with only a tiny Chinese population.

So congratulations to Mr. Yang for being overly cautious. If only David Cameron would tell the English not to go on drunken stag trips. If only Barack Obama would tell Americans to not be so damn loud and arrogant. Yes, these stereotypes only apply to a small minority, but it’s those obnoxious few that we tend to remember.

Chinese Tourists Spend More Money Than Anyone Else

Chinese travelers have officially become the biggest contributors to the tourism industry, spending a whopping $102 billion on vacations and other travel in 2012.

Figures from the UN World Tourism Organization revealed the Asian country has dramatically upped its travel spending, with last year’s expenditure up 40 percent from the prior year.

The organization credits China’s increased spending to the growing numbers of people entering the middle class.

According to the BBC, not only are the Chinese dedicating more money to travel, they are also shifting their spending habits. Instead of taking organized tours and joining busloads of other tourists, more and more Chinese are hiring cars and traveling independently.

However, one thing hasn’t changed – the Chinese still love to shop. Purchasing souvenirs and luxury goods remains high on the list of favorite travel activities.

Other emerging countries have also shot up the list. Russia’s travel spending increased by more than 30 percent last year, boosting the country to fifth place.

The United States came in at third place behind Germany, with tourism spending totaling just under $84 billion dollars.

[Photo credit: Flickr user bigbirdz]

Colorado Locals Start Marijuana Tourism Business

Colorado could join Amsterdam as a pot-smoker’s travel destination if two Denver locals have anything to do about it.

Matt Brown and James Walker have started a travel company aimed at those looking to take advantage of the state’s new marijuana laws.

According to NBC News, the company known as My 420 Tours sets travelers up in “pot-friendly” hotels, takes them on tours of marijuana dispensaries, and secures tickets to pot-related events.

The state of Colorado legalized recreational use of marijuana towards the end of last year although the commercial side of things – that is, selling the drug to others – is yet to be approved. To get around this, Brown and Walker facilitate introductions between travelers and those involved in the local cannabis industry.

“It’s an opportunity for people who prefer marijuana to alcohol to come to Colorado and know that they’re not going to have to walk around downtown asking strangers for pot,” Brown told NBC.

Their first tour slated for the end of April has already been a sell-out, but the duo hopes to offer more pot-themed travel packages in the future.

[Photo credit: Flickr user eggrole]