Every Friday, we help you navigate the week’s most important and interesting travel news stories.

Stories we're watching closely

The giant Olympic rings started moving down the Thames River in London, marking 150 days until the start of the Games. [BBC News]

Amadeus released air-booking data showing that several European cities will enjoy major benefits from Olympic tourism. It's no huge surprise that the UK will see a 143% increase in visitors compared to the same time last year, but Brussels, Amsterdam and Paris will experience increased passenger arrivals of 49%, 28% and 5% respectively. [Tnooz] 

Amazing things that should happen more often

This is awesome: Many readers retweeted our link to photos of spiral patterns in the otherwise untouched Rocky Mountain snow. It's part of a project by artist Sonja Hinrichsen at Rabbit Ears Pass in northern Colorado. [Illusion]

A study on well-being recently found Hawaiians to be the happiest people in the US. That title is understandable when one takes into consideration the beauty of the state’s beaches. [The Washington Post]

Two months late, Tokyo's 634m Sky Tree — the world’s tallest tower — is finally complete. Yet it still pales in comparison to Dubai's 830m Burj Khalifa, the tallest manmade structure ever built. [CNN International]

Ready for takeoff
All set to go, but too soon to tell what’s ahead

Astronomer Seth Shostak came up with a plan to boost space tourism: launch Justin Bieber out of the Earth's atmosphere in a private rocket ship. Is Shostak a clever marketer or an evil genius who devised a master plan to rid the world of Bieber Fever once and for all? [Huffington Post]

On the 50th anniversary of the beginning of the country's dictatorship, it's fair to ask whether it's ethical to travel to Burma. As Aung San Suu Kyi's government continues to open up and soften its stance on tourism, travel operators are becoming overwhelmed with the demand to visit the Southeast Asian country. [Telegraph/BBC Travel]

Hold on folks, we’re in for a rocky ride

More than 1,000 passengers and crew on the Costa Allegra — a sister ship of the Costa Concordia, which capsized last month — suffered through three days of being stranded after a fire in the generator room caused the cruise ship to lose power. This ship finally reached port in the Seychelles after being towed through pirate-infested waters. BBC News has photos of the return to shore. Meanwhile, questions have begun to surface over the event's affect on the cruise industry.

A Delta plane had to make an emergency landing at Newark airport on Tuesday after issues with the plane’s nose gear. Airline expert Brett Snyder argues that this happens so frequently, it doesn't warrant news coverage, but the landing still temporarily shut down one of the country’s busiest airports. No injuries were reported. [ABC News/CN Traveler]

China has witnessed a series of female-driven protests called "Occupy Men's Toilet". Women are protesting the lack of public bathrooms by going into men's bathrooms instead. [ChinaDaily] 

It’s a no-go

British public relations company Gosh PR, hired to promote tourism to the state of Kentucky, lost its $179,900 contract after launching a mind-boggling tourism campaign that highlighted the state's "offensive and stereotyped" features, like the abundance of roadkill. The company also suggested tourists visit Hazzard County, a fictional place meant to be in Georgia, not Kentucky. [Daily Mail]

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