The future of travel: what will holidays look like in 2024?

What does the future hold for travel? Check-in by robot? Budget space flights? Virtual holidays? Flight comparison site Skyscanner is offering a glimpse of what the 2024 holiday experience could be like with its Future of Travel report. We’ve digested the findings and come up with a few ideas that we think would benefit the world of travel. But what would you like to see in future? Give us your ideas in the comments below.

Hotel room of the future

Keep fit in your hotel room with a hologram personal trainer
Photograph: Skyscanner

They say: Within 10 years travellers will “have no need to encounter a single human being” from the moment they check in. Instead, hotel rooms will be transformed into digital, hyper-interactive spaces in which even the pillows will be “embedded” with electronics to massage your neck and wake you up in the morning. The walls will display high definition images of your friends and family, hologram personal trainers will hang out with you and the shower will use sound technology to “agitate” dirt from your body, using a traffic light system to indicate when you’re clean enough to get out.

We say: Thanks shower, but we’re doing just fine when it comes to washing ourselves. As for the prospect of photographs of our friends and family glaring down at us from the walls, surely this will only serve to hammer home just how isolated one feels trapped in a computer-dominated digi-limbo, with a better-looking-than-you hologram making you feel insecure about those profiterole-shaped bulges around your waistline. Meanwhile, it’s only been one night and your partner has already realised they can get better pillow talk from the, well, pillow. You’ve never felt so alone.

In a nutshell: Computer says: “You’re dirty.”

Space travel

Architecture firm Foster + Partners have been looking into the possibility of constructing a colony on the moon.
Photograph: Skyscanner

They say: For the ultimate in “serious traveller bragging rights”, how about a brief time spent floating weightlessly in low Earth orbit? It’s something that should become relatively affordable (ie $75,000) compared to the cost of, say, an actual Apollo-style excursion to the moon. That said, architects Foster + Partners are currently involved in a project with the European Space Agency exploring ways they could build structures on the moon with the help of 3D printers, so a lunar hotel could be on the horizon.

We say: It’s bad enough having to listen to someone recounting the time they befriended a local harem pants salesman during their gap year in India, let alone the time they accidentally sneezed in their own face while experiencing zero gravity. A moon colony, however, does pique our interest.

In a nutshell: Get saving.

Underwater experiences

Underwater hotels, like the planned Poseidon Underwater Resort in Fiji (pictured), will become more mainstream in the future – but it’ll cost you.
Photograph: Skyscanner

They say: Sub-aquatic hotels will be a “far more mainstream proposition” by 2024 and underwater tourism will certainly trump space travel. As Skyscanner CEO Gareth William says: “I suspect you would get more from it, because there is more to see down there than in space.” That said, the Poseidon Underwater Resort in Fiji, which was due to open in 2008, is still nowhere near ready.

We say: It may not cost as much as space but sleeping with the fishes is still going to be beyond the budget of 99% of holidaymakers – when it does finally open, a week at the Poseidon resort in Fiji will cost £9,000.

In a nutshell: Don’t hold your breath.

Local travel

A couple arrive in their Airbnb apartment – but peer-to-peer holiday rentals are just the beginning.
Photograph: Peter Stroh/Alamy

They say: Peer-to-peer collaboration will take over the world, and within the next decade between 5-10% of people could be renting out their homes to travellers. Increasingly, “social travel” – from accommodation to supper clubs and other experiences – will become part of the traditional travel industry. New tools will lead to collaboration between tourists and people in the destinations, helping create more localised and personal travel.

We say: As personal, authentic experiences go mainstream, what next for the current set of supper-clubbing, airbnbing globetrotters who like to think of themselves as travellers not tourists? The only way they will be able to distance themselves from the travelling masses muscling in on their territory is to drop the idea of social travel altogether (so 2014) and instead adopt an anti-social approach: the countryside will be awash with hipsters being mindful – alone – in the woods.

In a nutshell: Forget secret supper clubs – expect secret holidays.

Extreme travel

Tourism to North Korea is already increasing in popularity and “extreme” tourism is set to grow.
Photograph: Gavin Hellier/Alamy

They say: In the further pursuit of “bragging rights”, tourists will start pursuing adventures in extreme destinations. Travellers will want to be the first to drop in on so-called “forbidden zones”, destinations once rendered inaccessible by conflict or political instability or, conversely, be among the last people to see a habitat or species threatened with extinction. Lebanon will become the new Dubai, Angola could take off too, and the chance to spot a bare-faced tamarin before the species dies out will be a lifetime holiday highlight for a lucky few.

We say: Firstly, anyone who goes on holiday for “bragging rights” is an idiot. As for travelling to forbidden zones, fine if you’ve got a genuine interest – but even then let the story of Matthew Miller, the American who wanted to secretly investigate the human rights situation in North Korean prisons – and is now experiencing them at first hand – be a cautionary tale.

In a nutshell: Don’t do it.

Five things we’d like to see in 2024

Commercial airships are already in development – could they become a commercial form of transport in the near future?

Airships, the return of
Ever since the Hindenberg disaster, the idea of travelling beneath a huge balloon of highly inflammable gas has – perhaps understandably – been on the back burner. But now they are back in development: safe, environmentally friendly and with the potential to stay in the air for weeks at a time, dirigible transportation seems to us like the closest we’ll come to living in the clouds.

Transatlantic trains
London King’s Cross to New York’s Grand Central without changing trains? Someone needs to start digging that tunnel.

Virtual reality destination testing
In the future, holidays from hell should become inconceivable. One way of ensuring this is through virtual reality destination testing. Simply pop on an Oculus Rift headset and go for a stroll. Mould in the hotel room? Building work in the pool? Then go somewhere else or sort out the problem before you go. Never again shall unsuspecting holidaymakers be faced with such imperfections on arrival.

Multi-lingual brain implants
“Me … Want … Beer?” In the future, the linguistic ineptitude of British travellers will be an irrelevance thanks to the invention of multi-lingual brain implants that you can inject into your skull at all good chemists. The result will be perfect fluency in every language of the world, meaning you can buy souvenirs, argue with taxi drivers and, yes, order a beer, wherever you go.

Insta-hols brain zaps
(Probably) using the same technology of multilingual brain implants, in the future you won’t even need to go on holiday to get that refreshed and relaxed feeling. Instead, just zap yourself with a “holi-rod” and to be transported to your destination of choice. Two minutes later you’ll be back in the office, this time with a brain full of wonderful memories, such as the delicious cocktails you drank in that underwater hotel, and how clean you feel from the intelligent shower you had that morning. Mega bragging rights indeed.

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Air Travel In & Out Of Chicago Still Limping Along Following Fire

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Air travel is getting back to normal at New York City airports Saturday following a flight fiasco.

As CBS 2’s Lou Young reported, planes and flight crews are still trying to get into position following a suicide attempt that sparked a fire at an FAA air traffic control center near Chicago on Friday.

As of Saturday morning, more than 200 flights have been canceled out of Chicago. There have only been a few cancellations reported at LaGuardia and JFK airports.

“We waited on that line for two hours. The staff was very nice, but they said there’s nothing they can do for us today,” said Randi Law on Friday.

While Chicago’s O’Hare International and Midway airports were shut down, people tried shifting from airport to airport, hoping to get where they needed to go.

“We were going to LaGuardia and on the way it was canceled so we stopped here to see if we could get a flight,” Brooks Berkley said at Newark Liberty International Airport.

But it was not in the cards for Berkley, and many others who did find alternative routes discovered them to be too expensive to consider, Young reported.

“I just got a flight to Minneapolis. It was a thousand dollars one way, which is ridiculous,” said Lisa Small.

The chaos was allegedly caused by an apparently suicidal subcontractor for the FAA, who used gasoline to start the fire and alerted the world to his actions on his Facebook account.

The suspect — identified by the FBI as Brian Howard, 36, of the Chicago suburb of Naperville — has been hospitalized after slashing himself. He has been charged in a criminal complaint with destruction of aircraft or aircraft facilities, a felony.

The FAA is now running Chicago’s air traffic information through four other centers in the Midwest, and flights are arriving and leaving Chicago at a reduced rate.

Check Out These Other Stories From

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Air travel still hobbled after Chicago fire

(CNN) — If you are traveling today, you may want to check with your airline.

Thousands of flights into and out of Chicago’s two airports have been delayed or canceled since a fire damaged a key Chicago air traffic control center Friday, creating flight problems that rippled across the nation.

Aviation authorities say it will take at least two weeks to get the center back to normal.

One airport affected, O’Hare International, is the world’s second-busiest airport.

Long lines of stranded passengers have been clogging Chicago airports all weekend.

Man reportedly slit wrists, set fire

FAA: Fire stops Chicago air traffic

O’Hare was operating at 60% of its capacity Monday, according to the Chicago Department of Aviation, while Midway International Airport was at 75%. As of Monday morning, at least 300 flights had been canceled at O’Hare.

The FAA hopes to have the center in Aurora, Illinois, repaired and returned to full service by October 13, the agency said Sunday.

Other control centers have handled many of the Chicago flights while repairs are made.

Police say Friday’s blaze was set intentionally by Brian Howard, a contract employee at the facility, before he apparently attempted to kill himself.

According to an affidavit, first responders found smoke when they arrived in the basement of the control center after a 911 call about 5:40 a.m. Friday.

They also found blood on the floor. They followed the trail and found two knives and a lighter and then Howard himself, who was in the process of cutting his throat, according to the affidavit.

The paramedics took the knife from him and began to treat Howard, who told them to leave him alone. Howard was taken to a hospital in Aurora.

Howard remained hospitalized Monday, according to Randall Samborn, spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Chicago.

He’s charged with one count of destruction of aircraft or aircraft facilities, a felony that could bring a 20-year prison sentence. No court date has been set.

Howard, 36, had worked at the center for eight years but was facing a transfer to Hawaii, according to an affidavit filed in U.S. district court in Illinois, obtained by CNN affiliate WLS.

The affidavit quoted a Facebook post’s of Howard’s: “Take a hard look at the mirror, I have. And this is why I am about to take out… and my life… I am sorry. Leaving you with a big mess. Do your best to move on quickly from me please. Feel like I give a shit for the first time in a long time again… but not for too long (haha!) So I’m gonna smoke this blunt and move on, take care everyone.”

The FAA will launch an internal review of security protocols at its facilities, its administrator said Monday.

“If we need to make changes as a result of what happened on Friday to improve the system, we will not hesitate to do so,” Michael Huerta said.

Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois is calling for an investigation into whether security was breached. The suspect was able to enter the facility with a black suitcase without raising any red flags, officials have said.

CNN aviation analyst Mary Schiavo said the FAA has to take a second look at who has access to critical facilities.

“You have to make sure you have a system in place to evaluate your contract employees, because remember, the Federal Aviation Administration … huge percent of their employees are contract employees,” she said. Most of the air traffic controllers are FAA employees, she added.

After the fire, air traffic controllers initially had to transfer flight data manually rather than by computer, said Doug Church, spokesman for the National Air Traffic Controllers Association.

Church said the fire damaged the telecom line that transfers flight plans from the airlines to the O’Hare control tower and then to the Aurora control center.

Airlines had to fax flight plans to the control tower, he said. Because so much information had to be manually transferred, two controllers were needed for each position.

The effects of the fire were immediate.

O’Hare International is a hub for United Airlines and other major carriers. When controllers stop flights scheduled to land or depart from there, it has the potential to trigger a line of falling air-traffic dominoes that will ruin travel plans for countless would-be passengers.

The FAA says it’s bringing in extra technicians to replace the damaged communications network in the building, officially called the Chicago En Route Center.

The first shipment of replacement equipment was scheduled to arrive late Sunday night, and additional deliveries were scheduled over the next few days.

“Teams will be working around the clock to install equipment, run cable and restore network connections at the facility,” the FAA said.

The FAA said over the weekend that it was managing the air traffic into and out of Chicago “through other large Terminal Radar Approach Control (TRACON) facilities in Illinois, Indiana and Wisconsin with additional help from high-altitude centers in Minnesota, Kansas, Indiana and Ohio.”

CNN’s Kevin Conlon, Jason Hanna, Thom Patterson, Mike Pearson, Amanda Watts and John Newsome contributed to this report.

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Anthony Bourdain is full of unexpected travel tips

When you’re traveling 200+ days per year, you get pretty knowledgeable about the ins and outs of globetrotting. Anthony Bourdain, a certified master of “no reservations” travel, definitely fits this description! In an interview with Esquire, Bourdain laid out his travel methods – from reading material to restaurant choices, the renowned chef has a unique tip for every aspect of the travel experience. While all his travel advice is sound, here are some of the most unexpected bits of guidance for adventure-seekers.

  • Check your bags: “I hate the people struggling to cram their luggage in an overhead bin,” says Bourdain of his fellow travelers, explaining why he checks his own baggage.
  • Choose fiction over guidebooks: The traveler suggests reading fiction set in your travel location in lieu of guidebooks, because: “Fiction is in many ways more useful than a guidebook, because it gives you those little details, a sense of the way a place smells, an emotional sense of the place.”
  • Skip the airplane food: Since he’s a great chef, it’s not shocking that Bourdain suggests skipping your airplane meals. “Much better to show up in a new place and be hungry and eat at even a little street stall than arrive gassy and bloated, full, flatulent, hungover. So I just avoid airplane food. It’s in no way helpful. ”
  • Have market mornings: “When I’m in a city that’s new to me, I try to go to the central market very early in my trip. I’ll go at 6 a.m., when people are shopping for businesses. You get to see what people buy and really eat,” says Bourdain.
  • Angry nerds give good tips: “The other great way to figure out where to eat in a new city is to provoke nerd fury online. Go to a number of foodie websites with discussion boards. Let’s say you’re going to Kuala Lumpur – just post on the Malaysia board that you recently returned and had the best rendang in the universe, and give the name of a place, and all these annoying foodies will bombard you with angry replies about how the place is bullsh*t, and give you a better place to go,” recommends Bourdain to travelers seeking the best local eats.

This story was originally published on POPSUGAR Smart Living. See it here

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India Travel Stocks Rally on Modi Plan to Ease Some Visas

Indian travel-related companies
rose, led by Cox Kings (COXK) Ltd., after Prime Minister Narendra
eased visa rules for U.S. tourists.

Mumbai-based Cox Kings rallied the most in nine months.
Thomas Cook (India) Ltd. advanced for the first time in six
days. Indian Hotels Co., owner of the Taj brand of luxury
hotels, ended a three-day drop. The SP BSE Sensex (SENSEX) lost 0.1
percent to 26,597.11. The gauge is set to end seven straight
months of gains, the longest run since January 2007.

U.S. tourists to India will be issued visas on arrival and
identification documents for non-resident Indians will be merged
into a single category, Modi said at an event at Madison Square
Garden in New York City yesterday. The rule changes will be
implemented very soon, he said. Modi will be hosted by President
Barack Obama at the White House today and tomorrow.

“Investors expect more tourists to come after yesterday’s
announcement,” Alex Mathews, head of research with Geojit BNP
Paribas Financial Services Ltd., said by phone today. “Easing
of rules for Indians living abroad may also lead to more travel

A person of Indian origin will get a lifelong visa for
India, Modi said. The so-called PIO card will eventually be
combined with the Overseas Citizen of India or OCI document,
removing differences between the way groups of non-resident
Indians were categorized and issued visas, he said to 20,000
mostly Indian Americans present at the event.

Cox Kings jumped 11 percent, the most since Jan. 3. The
stock had tumbled 9.4 percent last week. The government is using
travel and tourism to promote growth and the boost to visas is a
“positive development” for U.S. tourists, the company said in
an e-mailed statement today.

RBI Rate Decision

Thomas Cook gained 5.5 percent, the steepest gain since
Sept. 19. The stock had plunged 13 percent last week, the
sharpest weekly loss since the period ended Feb. 14.

Sterling Holiday Resorts (India) Ltd., a unit of Thomas
Cook, rose 1.9 percent. Mahindra Holidays Resorts India Ltd. (MHRL),
which provides holidays on time-share basis, surged the most
since June 4.

The Sensex changed direction at least 15 times in today’s
session, before the Reserve Bank of India’s policy statement

The central bank will maintain the repurchase rate at 8
percent to shield the rupee from potential increases in U.S.
borrowing costs and sustain a fight against inflation, all 37
analysts in a Bloomberg News survey predict.

Governor Raghuram Rajan said this month the RBI can’t
declare victory on inflation yet. He left rates unchanged last
month and flagged risks to his goal to slow the increase in the
consumer-price index to 6 percent by January 2016. Rajan has
raised the repurchase rate three times in the past year.

Rating Outlook

SP raised its outlook on Indian ratings to stable from
negative on Sept. 26, removing the risk of a downgrade to junk
status. The ratings company said it could raise the BBB- rating
of Asia’s third-largest economy if growth quickens and fiscal,
external or inflation metrics improve.

The Sensex has increased 26 percent this year, the best
performer among the world’s 10 biggest markets. International
investors sold a net $68 million of local stocks on Sept. 25,
paring this year’s inflows to $13.8 billion, still the most
among eight Asian markets tracked by Bloomberg.

The gauge trades at 15.4 times projected 12-month profits,
compared with the MSCI Emerging Markets Index’s multiple of
10.8, data compiled by Bloomberg show.

Indian markets will be closed for holidays from Oct. 2
through Oct. 6.

To contact the reporter on this story:
Rajhkumar K Shaaw in Mumbai at

To contact the editors responsible for this story:
Michael Patterson at
Ravil Shirodkar, Dick Schumacher

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Buyer beware: Travel industry turns tables on consumers

You break it, you pay for it.

Unless you’re traveling. If they break it, you pay for it, too.

No one knows that better than Vicki Kahl, a homemaker from Johnson City, Tenn., whose checked luggage sustained damage on a recent US Airways flight from Raleigh, N.C., to Phoenix.

“Clothing was hanging out of a large gash on the side,” she remembers. She stood in a long line to file a luggage claim, but eventually had to leave so she wouldn’t miss the last shuttle of the day to Tucson. The airline denied her claim on a technicality; it said she didn’t file within four hours of her arrival, as its policy requires.

“I am frankly surprised by the undisguised impatience and lack of professionalism that I’ve encountered,” she told me.

That would be one way of seeing it. Here’s another: Travel companies are quick to point the finger at their customers and collect any damages to which they feel entitled, real or perceived. But when the tables are turned, and they’ve damaged something that belongs to you? Not so much.

The travel industry doesn’t just collect actual damages, such as a dented rental car or a cracked hotel room TV. It’s one of the few industries — perhaps the only one — that charges its customers for hypothetical damages. Some of the better-known fictitious damages include an airline seat it could have sold for more (if you don’t believe me, ask your friendly travel agent about debit memos); and a car rental company billing you for “loss of use” (what it could have earned if it didn’t have to repair the car you dented).

Whenever they want to earn a little extra money, it seems they turn the screws a little tighter on customers. What better way of extracting an additional $250 from a guest than accusing them of damaging a room by smoking in it, long after they’ve checked out? Better yet, why not just help yourself to the money in their bank account? That’s what Bea Cooper says happened to her when she checked out of the Holiday Inn Express and Suites Orlando South-Davenport recently.

Cooper, a business development director from Avon Park, Fla., was staying in the room with her two-year-old granddaughter, Ethel, and insists she didn’t smoke. She says she was “never informed” about the cleaning fee that mysteriously appeared on her credit card. No one e-mailed or called her to say, “We’re adding $250 to your bill, and here’s why.” Cooper had to phone the hotel to find out about the charge.

Holiday Inn insists it notified Cooper about its “100% smoke-free” policy, which says smoking is not permitted anywhere inside the hotel, authorizing it to charge her if she did. Cooper agreed to the policy when she checked in.

“The hotel confirmed that the guest signed a registration card,” says Lindsay Cameron, a spokeswoman for the hotel chain.

What if the roles are reversed, and something happens to you or your property? It’s either red tape, like Kahl experienced, or nothing at all. Consider what happened to Alisa Richter, who works for public relations agency in New York, when she visited an upscale hotel in San Francisco this summer for a wedding.

“I was using an adjustable set of hand weights, and one of the disks slid out and landed on my foot,” she says. “They didn’t have a medic on staff, but called over a personal trainer who asked me a few generic-sounding questions, then said very authoritatively that it was probably just a bad bruise. I got the sense he wanted to placate me quickly and move on.”

Actually, her toe was broken. The hotel offered her nothing, no apology, no adjustment of her room rate, and it didn’t even remove the hazardous weights from the gym.

So, to recap: You damage something during your travels — or you leave a travel company with the impression you might have damaged something — and they’ll bill you automatically, and sometimes without telling you. They damage something of yours, and you get red tape, rejections, or nothing at all.

Can you say “double standard”?

If you think something’s wrong with this picture, that makes two of us. But we don’t have to accept these travel industry practices. Kahl’s appeals went unanswered until I contacted US Airways on her behalf. A representative contacted her quickly and processed a claim for a replacement bag.

Too bad they don’t all end like that.

How to fix a broken trip

Travel companies will fix what’s broken if you know what to do:

Act now. If you see damages to your personal property, the clock is ticking. The sooner you say something, the better the chances a travel company will take responsibility for it.

Get it in writing. Don’t take an employee’s word for it when something is broken. “Don’t worry, we’ll take care of it” isn’t the same thing as a written damage report. Talk is cheap.

Be patient. While some companies will bill you immediately for damage, even if they don’t have a repair invoice to back up the charge, it can take six to eight weeks for them to cut you a check when they’ve hurt something that’s yours. Like I said, double standard.

Christopher Elliott is a consumer advocate and editor at large for National Geographic Traveler. Contact him at or visit

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Former Winlock teacher Diane Byrnes creates travel tour company

Diane Byrnes spent school vacations fulfilling her wanderlust, visiting more than 40 countries during her 32-year career at Winlock High School.

Now, instead of lessons plans, the retired science teacher organizes trips for her travel company, Freedom Tours NW. The company, which launched in January, offers tour packages mostly around the Pacific Northwest to senior citizens.

Byrnes first became a tour guide after she retired in 2007. She quit after three years, but her love of traveling remained insatiable. When several former clients urged her to start her own company, she initially hesitated.

“I know I wanted to travel, but I never thought I’d start my own company,” Byrnes, 63, said Thursday. “I was a teacher. I didn’t know anything about starting a company.”

With the help of friendly neighbors and former students, Byrnes started Freedom Tours and poured her life into the company. Her house — once fully paid off — was used as collateral to purchase a used tour bus. Her living room serves as the company’s office, where she and two volunteers manage calls, finances and trip plans.

The risks turned out to be worth it.

Byrnes’ client list, which started at 20 people, has exploded to more than 1,000 customers. While the company isn’t turning a profit yet, Byrnes said she is about to break even.

Freedom Tours’ fledgling success is just a side benefit to Byrnes, who started the company as a way to travel with other senior citizens who share her passion.

“A lot of them love to travel and want to get out of the house. They’d love to go to Seattle to see plays or Mariners games, but they just don’t want to drive,” she said. “They love to see the countryside and not worry about roads.”

The trips — more than 100 arranged by Byrnes and mostly guided by her — include smaller tours to local car shows and county fairs, as well as multi-day adventures in the Oregon Coast and San Juan Island. This fall, Byrnes is branching out to the Midwest with trips to Branson and St. Louis in Missouri.

If tours don’t get enough participants, the trips are canceled and participants are refunded.

Byrnes said she is hoping to expand her customer base — which is mostly Thurston County residents — south into Cowlitz County. She also wants to open an office outside her home.

Until then, she is content with traveling with other seniors and learning new stories.

“I met a gentleman who was a bomber pilot. Another was a U.S. spy 30 years ago. I love visiting with people and getting to know them,” Byrnes said. “The joy of being with them and talking to them, I love it. The repeat customers become friends. It’s great.”

Visit Freedom Tours NW on Facebook at or call 855-785-3188 to book a trip.

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‘Do Not Travel Advisory’ Issued On India, Mali, Yemen and Burkina Fasso


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While the government had issued an “exercise a high degree of caution” advisory with the majority of places in India, travelers are highly directed against driving in the country as the number of road traffic deaths is relatively high. Also, the Australians need a visa  to travel to India. Furthermore, travelers are being forewarned against scam Web sites offering Indian visa services. Tourists are recommended to only use the Indian Government’s official website.

Burkina Fasso

The government is also warning about the threat of terrorist attack, kidnapping and the violent crime, imminent in Burkina Faso. “We strongly advise you not to travel to all areas north of a line connecting Djibo and Dori due to the high threat of terrorist attack and kidnapping targeting foreign nationals,” DFAT warns. Moreover, there is an outbreak of Ebola virus disease in nearby regions of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. Australia does not have an embassy or consulate in Burkina Fasso.


There is an ongoing high threat of kidnapping and armed banditry against Westerners throughout northern regions of Mali – Kidal, Timbuktu, Gao, Mopti and the area of Segou north of the Niger River as well as to Bamako, and to areas north of the latitude of Diema. Australia does not have an embassy or consulate in Mali.


The high threat of kidnapping, terrorist attack and ongoing political unrest had also made travel to Yemen dangerous. “We continue to strongly urge all Australians in Yemen to depart without delay, at the first available opportunity, by commercial means,” DFAT underlines.

There had been no flights arriving and leaving for Yemen since the Yemen’s government cancelled all flights to and from Sana’a International Airport on Sept 19.   According to local reports, important roads are already blocked by rebels.

“Foreigners have been kidnapped in Sana’a and Ta’iz in recent years. In the past, hostages have been killed. There has been an increase in attacks and kidnapping attempts on foreign nationals in Sana’a since April 2014. This has resulted in the death of a foreigner,” DFAT reports. Australia does not have an embassy in Yemen.

To contact the editor, e-mail:

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Travelport – No Appeal In This Leveraged Travel Public Offering (TVPT)

Travelport Worldwide (NYSE:TVPT) is a travel commerce platform which provides distribution, technology, payments and related solutions to the global travel and tourism business.

The company witnessed its public offering past week with shares hovering around their public offering levels. I remain cautious however on the back of the large leverage position, and pro-forma losses following the public offering as the company remains far removed from posting sustainable GAAP earnings, while not displaying that much revenue growth.

Consequently I hold off making an investment at current levels.

The Public Offering

Travelport facilitates travel by connecting providers, including airlines and hotel chains, with both online and offline travel agencies and buyers in the business to business segment in particular.

The company has quite extensive operations having processed some $85 billion in travel spending in the past year. The company has quite diversified operations in terms of geographic regions, while it tries to expand into other services including car rental, rail and even cruises.

The role as a middle man aids travel providers with a greater reach, insight in future volumes and higher yields while buyers benefit from a large offerings and improved efficiency. Of course the global travel and tourism industry is very large, but it is furthermore very competitive and vulnerable to economic conditions. That being said the continued growth in international air travel and international business is a structural growth driver behind anticipated growth going forwards.

Travelport sold 30.0 million shares for $16 apiece, thereby raising $480 million in gross proceeds. All of the shares were sold by the company with no shares being offered by selling shareholders. The pricing implied that shares were sold at the high end of the preliminary $14-$16 price range which has been set by the underwriting syndicate and the firm.

At the public offering price of $16, equity in the business was valued at $1.9 billion based on the assumption of 120.1 million shares outstanding. Shares ended their opening day with modest gains at $16.40 per share, valuing the business at close to $2 billion.

Banks which aided the company in its process to become a public firm were Morgan Stanley, UBS, Credit Suisse, Deutsche Bank, Jefferies and Sanford Bernstein, among a few others.


As discussed above, Travelport operates in an attractive industry which is anticipated to show further continued growth. Given the business model, Travelport generates recurring revenue streams, carries no inventory risks and therefore is very asset light, appealing to investors as the company has great diversification in terms of its revenue streams across the globe.

For the year of 2013, Travelport posted sales of $2.08 billion, a 3.7% increase compared to the year before. The company posted a net loss of $206 million for the past year, an improvement versus the $292 million loss reported the year before. Operating earnings did show a meaningful improvement for 2013, with income of $208 million resulting in operating margins of 10%, while adjusted EBITDA came in at $517 million.

The loss on a GAAP basis results from the leverage position as the company paid out $356 million in interest for 2013, while the company incurred $49 million in costs related to the extinguishment of debt.

Improvements on the bottom line were already visible in the first half of this year. Sales rose by 3.5% towards $1.12 billion as operating income rose by $10 million to $135 million. Interest expenses remain high, but fell to $170 million, while the company recorded a $52 million gain related to the sale of shares in Orbitz Worldwide, resulting in a much smaller net loss of $25 million.

Before the offering took place, the company held some $$93 million in cash and equivalents while having some $3.21 billion in debt outstanding, resulting in a net debt position of little over $3.1 billion. This results in an effective cost of debt of around 10-11% at the moment which obviously is quite steep.

Factoring in gross proceeds of some $480 million, and the company could cut the net debt position towards $2.7 billion, avoiding $50 million in annual interest payments, while perhaps refinancing debt at lower rates.

That being said, while the company would make big improvements in terms of the bottom line performance, the company is still very likely to report a net loss even after accounting for the usage of the offering proceeds. This values the business, including debt, at around $4.7 billion which is equivalent to 2.3 times sales, 9 times EBITDA and a non-meaningful earnings multiple given the lack of earnings.

Final Takeaway

I must say that I am not impressed by the offering, despite healthy operating margins. The reason for this dates back to 2006 when the company was acquired by Blackstone in a $4.3 billion deal, saddling the business with debt even accounting for the proceeds from the public offering.

The excessive usage of debt is really my main problem with the business, while revenue growth has not been very impressive as well, in an industry growing much quicker compared to reported revenue growth of the business. Yet the leverage remains the key problem, with the company still being on track to report losses even after accounting for the public offering proceeds.

As such the business is not appealing at all in my eyes. Only unless the business can continue to display a further reduction in leverage, refinance its debt at lower rates or improve operating earnings further so it can become profitable, I remain very cautious.

Disclosure: The author has no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours. The author wrote this article themselves, and it expresses their own opinions. The author is not receiving compensation for it (other than from Seeking Alpha). The author has no business relationship with any company whose stock is mentioned in this article. (More…)

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Britain Lifts Travel Advisory

THE British government has relaxed the travel advisory against Kenya.

Last July the British government had advised its citizens to avoid travelling to Kenya, especially the coastal island of Lamu after a string of attacks and massacres there.

But in a statement yesterday, the British embassy in Nairobi said its Foreign and Commonwealth Office had decided to relax the advisory.

The relaxed advisory takes effect today.

“This relaxing of the travel advice for Nairobi brings it into line with FCO travel advice for comparable cities worldwide,” the statement said.

The FCO does advise against travel to Kenya’s popular safari destinations in the national parks, reserves and wildlife conservancies including the Aberdare National Park, Amboseli, Laikipia, Lake Nakuru, Masai Mara, Meru, Mount Kenya, Samburu, Shimba Hills, Tsavo.

However, the advisory against all but essential travel to Eastleigh area of Nairobi remains and the travel advice for other parts of the country has not changed.

“Our travel advice reflects solely our objective assessment of the security position, an assessment shared with the Kenyan authorities. Changes are not driven by political or economic factors,” the statement said.

It said it is up to individuals and travel companies to decide about foreign travel in light of the information available.

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