Global goals: Here are some tips to be a responsible, environment-conscious traveller: – indulgexpress



Global goals: Here are some tips to be a responsible, environment-conscious traveller:  indulgexpress



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Travel news: Get a taste of the East Coast, take in Montreal’s cabaret-meets-circus-arts show, explore the U.S. on responsible small-group tours


East Coast dining

Travellers will have to wait just a bit longer to check into Muir, the highly anticipated Halifax hotel debuting next month in the new Queen’s Marque harbour district. But diners can get a taste now: the in-house restaurant, Drift, has opened, serving modern Maritime fare, like the Hodge Podge with haddock and scallops, and the Yarmouth lobster pot pie with buttered rutabaga. Still to come is an outdoor waterfront patio, slated for spring.

Spruced up

The Sheraton Gateway Hotel is nearly done with its $30-million revamp. The only hotel connected to Toronto Pearson International Airport, the 484-room property has been updated throughout; you’ll find renovated guest rooms and an open-concept lobby that features a restaurant, a coffee bar, co-working spaces and soundproof booths for calls on the go. Also new is an expanded Sheraton Club Lounge, open 24/7, for Marriott Bonvoy Elite members and Sheraton Club level guests.

Putting on a show

A new cabaret act will take up residence at Fairmont The Queen Elizabeth: “Celeste,” a 90-minute performance combining circus arts, illusion and live music, inspired by starry nights. A collaboration between the landmark downtown Montreal hotel, Cirque Éloize and Ivanhoé Cambridge, the show will run Dec. 16 to May 7, 2022, with tickets on sale now at cabaretceleste.com.

Music to your ears

The 2022 TD Ottawa Winter Jazz Festival will take to the stage for in-person shows, running from Jan. 28 to 29 (in partnership with the Carleton Dominion-Chalmers Centre) and Feb. 3 to 5 (at Arts Court). Artists include Holly Cole, one of Canada’s most acclaimed jazz vocalists, and Dominique Fils-Aimé, winner of the 2020 Juno Award for Vocal Jazz Album of the Year. Day passes are on sale now, with single tickets available soon.

New in tours

Intrepid Travel, a certified B Corporation that specializes in responsible travel and small-group tours, has announced it will be launching 38 new trips throughout the U.S. next year. The added itineraries range from the company’s signature outdoorsy adventures (pack your hiking shoes for the “South Dakota to Montana Parks Explorer”) to culinary activities (the “Portland to San Francisco Discovery” includes cycling around to food carts and shucking oysters).

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Carroll County officials urge responsible travel behavior as COVID-19 case rate tops 20 for first time in 2 months


The state added 1,584 new coronavirus infections, bringing to 412,928 Maryland’s case count throughout the pandemic, according to the state health department. The figure represents the most new cases reported daily since Jan. 31. Seventeen more people were reported dead from the disease, which has now killed 8,118 in Maryland since March of 2020, health department data shows.



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Why Tenerife is Europe’s best spot for responsible whale watching


O

ne upside to the realisation that we’ve been treating our oceans as a supersized rubbish tip? The growing popularity of schemes designed to protect their inhabitants, whether it’s National Marine Parks such as the UK’s Plymouth Sound, or Unesco’s World Heritage Marine Programme, which provides protection for areas like Western Australia’s Shark Bay.

The Whale Heritage Site scheme is the latest example. Established in 2015 by the World Cetacean Alliance, its purpose is to identify notable cetacean (whales, dolphins and porpoises) habitats, protecting these species by increasing awareness, encouraging community engagement and promoting responsible whale and dolphin-watching as ethical alternatives to seeing cetaceans in captivity. The scheme’s first two recipients were South Africa’s The Bluff, an area off the coast of Durban, and Australia’s Hervey Bay, an essential stop-off for migrating whales. In January 2021, it was announced that Europe’s first Whale Heritage Site is Tenerife-La Gomera Marine Area, off the coast of Tenerife.

So what’s the appeal of the Canary Islands? It turns out cetaceans head there for the same reason sun-starved tourists do (although the whales’ indulgence of choice is admittedly crustaceans, not cocktails). There’s year-round sun and warm, clear water and, in some areas, the ocean has a depth of 2,000m, which allows cetaceans to feast on a variety of species, ranging from plankton to squid. This staggering depth also provides protection from chilly currents sweeping in across the Atlantic – a major bonus for creatures who can’t simply hop onto dry land and flop onto a sun-lounger.

The area has 28 species of cetacean, although it’s the short-finned pilot whale that most visitors are desperate to spot. “Tenerife has one of the world’s few resident short-finned pilot whale populations,” says Katheryn Wise, wildlife campaign manager at World Animal Protection, which partners with the World Cetacean Alliance to roll out the Whale Heritage Site scheme. “The pilot whales here have unique hunting behaviours which haven’t been observed elsewhere. One example is their deep, high-speed dives to chase and capture squid.”

Tenerife’s waters have become Europe’s first Whale Heritage Site

(Tamara Hinson)

By highlighting areas such as the Tenerife-La Gomera Marine Area, it’s hoped that more people will understand the importance of these creatures. “Cetaceans are great indicators of ecosystem health,” says Jacobo Marrero, a Tenerife-based cetacean expert. “They alert us if there are imbalances, and play an essential role in maintaining the equilibrium. Without these apex predators, the natural balance is easily disrupted.”

South Africa’s Whale Heritage Site – known as The Bluff – is a great example of one which has come full circle. In the early 1900s it was home to the world’s largest land-based whaling operation. Every year, crew manning Durban’s South African Whaling Company’s ships harpooned around 100 whales between March and September, and black and white pictures show enormous carcasses being hauled along a purpose-built railway. A century later, in 2019, The Bluff became the world’s first Whale Heritage Site. Today, an annual Welcoming of the Whales Festival, along with guided walks and tours of the former whaling station, allows locals to learn more about cetaceans. Only two closely monitored whale-watching operations can operate, which brings us on to another benefit of Whale Heritage Sites: to qualify, judges require proof that there are mechanisms in place to safeguard cetaceans’ welfare and to reduce threats.



The pilot whales here have unique hunting behaviours which haven’t been observed elsewhere. One example is their deep, high-speed dives to chase and capture squid

“In Tenerife for example, stakeholder groups are committed to reducing the number of illegal whale-watching operators and to encouraging tourists to use responsible, sustainable operators,” says Elizabeth Cuevas, Whale Heritage Sites manager at the World Cetacean Alliance. “Meanwhile, at California’s Dana Point Whale Heritage Site, the panel identified plastic pollution as a major threat, so there’s a focus on initiatives which reduce plastic pollution. At future sites, ship strikes may be a concern, so the conservation measures may look different again.”

Pilot whales in Tenerife have unique hunting behaviours

(Dylan Walker)

 At a time when there’s growing pressure on organisations such as SeaWorld to abandon shows featuring cetaceans, Whale Heritage Sites don’t just highlight areas where these creatures can be seen in the wild, but ensure that there are measures to protect them. “By raising their prominence, we hope to reduce the demand to see these creatures in tanks, and bring us closer to our vision of making this the last generation of cetaceans in captivity,” says Wise.

In a nutshell, the scheme is about making cetaceans the stars of the show, but in a very different way. It’s about engaging communities and convincing people to care about these marvellous creatures. And not a moment too soon. “The status of many cetacean species is vulnerable to critical,” says Dylan Walker, the World Cetacean Alliance’s chief executive. “Extinction is just around the corner for some, and Whale Heritage sites are a critical tool which allows us to prioritise their protection in the places where they’re clinging on.”



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