A new Facebook game lets you try your hand at running a Marriott hotel kitchen, ash cloud woes hit Australia, China lifts its ban on individual travel to Taiwan, US hotels phase out bathtubs, and more. Here are the stories that travellers are buzzing about:

Chile volcano grounds many Australian flights
Ash clouds from Chile's spewing Puyehue volcano are disrupting air traffic as far away as Australia and southern New Zealand this morning, reports BBC News. Thousands of passengers are stranded as Qantas has cancelled all flights in and out of Melbourne, just some of the many cancellations sweeping the south Pacific. Since last Tuesday's eruption, wind has generally blown the ashes westward, yet some flights in Chile and Argentina have been disrupted, too.

New Facebook game lets you try your hand at running a hotel

Marriott has created a Facebook app that simulates what it's like to work in the kitchen at one of its properties. Players make the most of a limited budget and staff, earning points Farmville-style. The game can be intense, as a Washington Post reporter discovered. It's supposed to encourage young people to apply for the 50,000 positions Marriott will open at its properties worldwide in the next year.

China lifts ban on mainland individuals visiting Taiwan
Starting 28 June, residents of Beijing, Shanghai and Xiamen will be allowed to visit Taiwan without having to remain part of tour group, reports the news agency Xinhua. About two million Chinese have crossed from the mainland to Taiwan since a full ban on travel was lifted in 2008. Starting in July, the number of flights will increase by about 50% and the cost of passport endorsement fees will drop in half. The increase in independent travellers will encourage the Taiwanese to build the inns and start the taxi services necessary for a flourishing travel industry.

US hotels are phasing out bathtubs
Gone are the days of the long hot soak in a hotel tub. National chains are replacing tubs with larger showers. According to McClatchy News service, Holiday Inn has gone from roughly 95% of its new hotels having tubs a decade ago to only 55% of new ones featuring them now. Marriott plans for 75% of its rooms to be "shower only" soon.

The mega re-tweet
We scour Twitter to highlight a standout travel tweet.

"At #TBEX @spudhilton asks travel writing panel re words to avoid: nestled, quaint, rustic, jewel in the crown, land of contrasts, charming."

-- @Marilyn_Res. This weekend, Marilyn Terrell, chief researcher at National Geographic Traveler magazine (US edition), posted a series of informative Twitter updates from Vancouver, where she was attending the annual Travel Blog Exchange (TBEX) conference with about 600 other travellers, writers, bloggers and public relations professionals. Terrell was referring to a comment by Spud Hilton, travel editor of the San Francisco Chronicle.

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