Iceland & New Zealand most friendly to tourists (not Bolivia) ... Deal of the Day
Looking for a warm embrace? Try a trip to New Zealand or Iceland. But don’t even think of Bolivia or Venezuela.
A global tourism study by the World Economic Forum that ranks countries on tourism (I referred to it a few days ago as Canada was ranked eighth overall in the world) also looks at how welcoming they are to tourists. And apparently not everyone exhibits the same level of hospitality.
The study gave top scores to Iceland and New Zealand, with 6.8 marks. Next were Morocco, Macedonia, Austria and Senegal at 6.7, followed by Portugal, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Ireland and Burkina Faso at 6.6. Canada was ranked 12th, with a mark of 6.4.
The worst was Bolivia, which was ranked 140th in the world for warm welcomes with a mark of just 4.1. Why? I haven’t a clue, although I did find it funny that the first photo I found of Bolivia in the Star's library this morning was the one at right, showing a guy at a festival south of La Paz looking like he might be ready to cold-cock a visitor from Orillia.
I went on the Internet this morning and found some nice photos. But I can't say I had much of a mental image of the place before today, except for Lake Titicaca. The mountains look kinda pretty in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. Aside from the shooting and violent deaths, I mean.
Next worst was Venezuela (maybe a new president will help) at 4.5, followed by Russia at 5.0. Rounding out the bottom ten were Kuwait, Latvia, Iran, Pakistan, the Slovak Republic, Bulgaria and Mongolia.
I’ve never been to any of those. But I did meet a guy from Bulgaria once. It was 1985, and I was a general assignment report for the Star working out of 1 Yonge St. There had been an incident about some Bulgarians being expelled from Canada, allegedly for spying. Something to do with computers.
I was dispatched forthwith to the Bulgarian consul’s office, which I recall was in a decrepit building near the old Winston’s restaurant downtown. I walked into an office that looked like a reject from the old Barney Miller TV show, with a sagging sofa and tired looking flowers and photos on the wall of burly generals in full military regalia.
It was like the Cold War was still at full throttle. I started leafing through a really horrible magazine showing sad-looking buildings in Sofia and pictures of Bulgarian peasants stomping wine grapes and smiling and doing all sorts of other delightful things that peasants do. Then I got called onto the carpet. A man who looked a lot like one of the Bulgarian generals on the wall (you know the type; one eyebrow, which you could’ve cut with a lawnmower set on high) peered menacingly at me over his desk and said in a thick, thick accent, “So, how come you never write anything good about Bulgaria.”
I was stymied. Not to mention baffled.
“Sir,” I told him. “I’ve never written ANYTHING about Bulgaria.”
I had to explain I was a general assignment person, not a seasoned European correspondent. He took it well enough and was actually fairly pleasant, as I recall. He insisted, of course, that no Bulgarian would consider spying on Canada.
And that’s my Bulgaria story.
Transat still lost money in the last quarter. But not as much.
The Montreal-based company reported losses of $15.1 million for the final three months of 2012, which is substantial but far less than the $29.5 million they lost in the same quarter in 2011.
“Tomorrow morning I plan on being profitable,” Eustache told a Montreal press conference. “Make no mistake, we will be profitable this year. If not, we have to fire the President. This is not a sustainable situation. We are not in business to lose money."
Eustache admitted that he expects Air Canada’s new leisure airline Rouge to offer new competition. "For sure there is concern. Their President (Calin Rovinescu) has said very clearly that he is going after Air Transat. This summer their capacity is negligible. And it remains to be seen how quickly the 767's are moved over from AC. But am I afraid? No. I have seen a lot of competition over the last 25 years. In fact, on one of the most competitive routes - Paris - we make money. AF (Air France) is #1. Then us. Then AC.”
Still, Canadian Press quoted one Bay Street analyst as saying the improvement was "below expectations" and that the company's "outlook remains muddled."
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