Travel Briefs

Starting Jan. 1, 2020, guided tours of Amsterdam’s Red Light District will be banned, though tourists will still be allowed in the district without guides. Laws against taking pictures of or accosting sex workers, which will result in fines, will still be in effect. It is estimated that 19 million visitors will take tours of the city’s Red Light District this year, interfering with commerce.

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In Italy’s Riviera, on the northwest coast, travelers trekking between the Cinque Terre towns now face fines from €50 to €2,500 (near $56-$2,805) for hiking in flip-flops, heels or other inappropriate footwear. Local authorities said that the fines were being imposed due to the cost of having to rescue so many people unable to negotiate the rugged coastline in the wrong footwear, an occurrence that has been increasing in regularity.

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Starting June 17, 2019, a traveler from the US, Canada, Australia or Japan will be able to travel to Brazil for up to 90 days without a visa. Through June 16, an evisa will still be required for anyone from one of those countries entering Brazil.

Ultrabudget Icelandic airline Wow air (wowair.com) ceased operations and canceled all future flights without prior notice on March 28, stranding hundreds of passengers in the US and Europe. Wow is unable to refund passengers whose flights were canceled, but refund claims may be made against its liquidation in the future.

Wow, which sold air tickets from US cities to Reykjavik for less than $100, had been looking for investors but was unsuccessful.

American Airlines ceased all flights to Venezuela on March 15. At the time, it was the only US-based airline flying to Venezuela, with daily flights from Miami to Caracas and Maracaibo.

The new US Embassy in Israel opened in a former consulate building in Jerusalem on March 4, having relocated from Tel Aviv. The Jerusalem consulate had been the de facto consulate for Palestinians. The embassy includes a diplomatic division for Palestinian consular duties.

A 9-year restoration project at the tomb of the pharaoh Tutankhamun, in Egypt’s Valley of the Kings, was completed on Jan. 31. The project repaired scratches and abrasions as well as damage from humidity and the carbon dioxide introduced by visitors. Barriers and a new ventilation system will help prevent further damage.

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Indonesia is closing Komodo Island to tourists starting on Jan. 1, 2020, in order to protect its famous endemic lizards, the Komodo dragons. The rest of Komodo National Park, which also comprises two other large islands and 26 smaller ones, will remain open.

It was reported that a group had attempted to smuggle 41 of the dragons to sell on the black market, prompting the decision to close the island. The closure will also allow the dragons’ population to grow.

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