International hospitality from Iceland to Bosnia
Mexico assembles a sexy new crime-deterring unit, the Netherlands grows closer to banning pot tourism, Hertz offers one-way car rentals to New York airports, and more. Here are the stories travellers are buzzing about:
Netherlands approaches possible marijuana ban for tourists
The Netherlands — where marijuana is technically illegal, but famously tolerated — moved one step closer in its efforts to prohibit foreigners from entering coffee houses that sell marijuana. While Amsterdam's lord mayor, the city council and the tourist board are all opposed to efforts to turn the hundreds of pot-selling establishments into members-only clubs, they might not have any choice. In a supreme court ruling Wednesday regarding a dispute between the mayor of the border town of Maastricht and a local coffee shop, the Council of State declared that local governments cannot legally ban tourists from purchasing soft drugs from coffee shops. However, the government can impose such a ban on a national level, which may happen quickly, Dutch News reports.
Hertz offers one-way car rentals by the hour
Travellers flying out of New York who don't want to pay the $35 to $50 for cab fare to JFK or Newark airport now have another option: drive themselves for about $20. The Hertz on Demand service allows customers the ability to pay per hour to rent vehicles for one-way trips. The Wall Street Journal took the service for a test run, paying $16 an hour (including gas, collision insurance and GPS) plus tolls. Overall, the review was positive, but noted Hertz had some kinks to work out, including offering one-way rentals in all Manhattan locations.
Mexico seeking to hire new police officers
Amid concerns that drug-related violence may cause a decline in tourism, the Mexican state of Guerrero plans to assemble a new tourist police force in popular destinations like Acapulco. According to Ramon Almonte Borja, head of the state's public security secretariat, the new unit will be all female, "preferably beautiful", and will don a special "gorgeous uniform" to give "an additional visual attraction" to its natural beauty. These won't be butt-kicking, gun-toting women of the Charlie's Angels variety. These unarmed officers will mostly act as a guide for visitors and try to deter crime (apparently with their good looks), CNN reports. Meanwhile, local women's rights groups are up in arms about the situation.
Report examines beach water quality
The Natural Resources Defence Council released a report Wednesday relating to the quality of water at 3,200 beaches along oceans, bays and the Great Lakes around the US. The report stated that beach closings and health advisories reached its second-highest level in 20 years. Some of the cleanest beaches were in Delaware, Minnesota and New Hampshire. Those with consistently poor water quality include several in Los Angeles and Southern California, among others.
"The adrenaline hit in and I had a moment of panic, which was the worst thing I could have done at that point."
- Ian Cole, an American tourist snorkelling the Great Barrier Reef discusses an incident Saturday when his boat left him stranded at sea. Luckily, another boat was in the area and took him back to shore.