US and Iran building tourism relations

Hamid Bahael, Chairman of the Iranian Cultural Heritage and Tourism Organization (ICHTO) and Vice President of Iran, told eTurboNews (eTN) that all governments should forget political challenges when they talk about tourism relations. This is in line with the concept established long ago by Louis D’Amore of the International Institute for Peace through Tourism.

With the blessing of ICHTO, the American Iran Tourism Association, at the request of Mr. Hamid reza Talebi and under the management of Mr. Talebi, is operating in Tehran as the first organisation registered to exclusively further tourism relations between the US and Iran.

ETN has been a long-time supporter of non-political relations based on tourism. The American Iran Tourism Association in the US was established in Hawaii by Juergen Thomas Steinmetz, publisher of eTurboNews.

“It’s a big step forward to have this organization officially licensed and established in Iran,” Mr. Steinmetz said, “This is true pioneer work. Hamid reza Talebi, who had been an ambassador for eTurboNews in Iran for many years, has single handedly established this organization in Iran.”

The American Iran Tourism Association has been actively assisting Iranian visitors with questions regarding how to effectively apply for a US visa. The association has also established a one-on-one consulting session for future visitors to the US and is helping to find the contacts necessary to make a trip to North America a good experience.

The association is also assisting US travellers to Iran with all of their questions in order to overcome the challenges of travelling to Iran.

Steinmetz concluded, “I think this is a good start and shows how a private organization can make a big difference when it comes to relations between different people.”

The American Iran Tourism Association mostly relies on volunteers and receives no public funding. It is the hope of Hamid Bahjael and Juergen Thomas Steinmetz to increase tourism, further personal friendships, and foster a closer cooperation between their two countries despite these difficult times.

Families ‘downsize’ holidays to save money

Family holidays are said to be downsizing this year due to attempts to save money.

This year many summer holidays will be cut from 14 nights to ten, and one week breaks cut to just four nights, research has shown.

Figures show a 162 per cent rise in the number of 10 night holidays booked this year, and four-nights up 50 per cent.

However researchers warn that although spending less time away will cut costs shorter trips will give less value for money. Shorter holidays will obviously be cheaper in the short term, but will increase the average cost per night.

Trevor Davis, of Co-operative Travel, which carried out the study of three million holidays, said: ‘This saves you money on living expenses or extras, such as a hire car, but may mean that you’re not getting the best value for money as far as your actual booking is concerned.

‘The mainstream holiday industry is still based on weekly blocks, with hotels and flight capacity based around set “changeover” days.

‘Anything that breaks with this is often penalised with higher prices.

‘We’d encourage anyone looking at downsizing their holiday to ask their travel agent to also provide the cost of a seven or 14-night break.

‘People can then look at the “per-night” costs and work out whether they’re saving as much as they first thought.’

Another trend for many holidayers this year is the ‘staycation’, many families will be giving up on a holiday abroad this year and holidaying in the UK.

The combination of rising prices and little increase in salaries will leave 2011 similar to 2010 which saw 1.3million less holidays take place in just the last three months of the year.

Panic as caller warns Eiffel Tower will be blown up

France’s capital city was thrown into panic last week when a package was found beneath the Eiffel Tower.

An anonymous caller rang the police to warn the landmark was going to be blown up, leading police to evacuated over 4,000 people from the tower itself and its surrounding area.

The iconic tower which stands 1,063ft high in the centre of Paris, was blocked off by police officers following the bomb threat.

The impressive building has been noted as a target for terrorism by extremists from Al Qaeda and those who oppose Libyan bombings.

However the tower was not closed for too long, following checks no explosives were found.

Only two hours later tourists were allowed to wonder beneath the tower around the plaza and the ticket office reopened.

The suspect package was found on the plaza in-between large groups of tourists. Police and soldiers were brought in and could be seen scouring the 1,063ft high tower for suspect packages and the surrounding area was also blocked of for searching.

An anonymous caller warned the police that the tower was going to be blown up at 1700 GMT, a police official stated almost 4,000 tourists were removed from the area for their saftey.

The site has been threatened and evacuated before, if a bomb attack were to take place on the 81-storey landmark it would cause huge devastation with thousands of tourists from around the world visiting the site everyday.