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

Amazing things that should happen more often

Google Maps for iPhone is back. As you’ll recall, Apple controversially dropped Google Maps from its new operating system for iPhones and iPads, iOS 6, and replaced it with its own software, Apple Maps, which has been unpopular with many users because of its error-prone data. The new maps app instantly became the most downloaded item in the Apple App Store, with an average 4.5 rating from thousands of users. [Google Official Blog]

This week, the search giant also unveiled a free trip-inspiration tool called Flight Explorer. Pick a departure airport and you’ll see ideas for places you might like to visit, with real-time ticket prices. The tool is clever, letting you sort by airline alliance and other innovative search methods. [Google]

In-flight entertainment
Photos and videos that went viral on the Web this week

Our most re-tweeted item of the week was of a photo of the new passport stamp being used by officials in New Zealand. The stamp says, “Welcome to Middle-earth”. That’s appropriate, given the release of the blockbuster movie The Hobbit, which was filmed in the country. [NBC News reporter Ann Curry’s Twitter account]

Our next most popular item was a striking photo of the world's second largest tree, a sequoia in southern California’s Sequoia National Park. In the photo, the tree dwarfs the humans shown next to it. In case you were wondering, the world’s largest tree, Hyperion, is in northern California. [National Geographic]

This year a record one billion people have travelled to foreign countries, according to the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO). The billionth traveller probably crossed a border on or around 13 December. [UNWTO]

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

Every year guidebook publisher (and BBC partner site) Lonely Planet publishes its list of the best places to visit, and its 2013 edition includes iconic locations, such as San Francisco, US, and surprise finds, like Hyderabad, India. To help people see these places, a specialist in selling round-the-world tickets, AirTreks, has created an all-in-one ticket that lets you stop at all ten destinations, from $5,694, depending on the time of year and other factors. [AirTreks]

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

No smiles or booze: that’s the threat from cabin crew in a pay dispute with Cathay Pacific. A union of flight attendants for the airline has voted in favour of industrial action that would include such disruptive behaviour during flights in late December. [AP]

The iconic Tokyo fish market, Tsukiji, will close in 2013. The 78-year-old building simply wasn’t able to keep up with the demands of being the world’s largest wholesale fish market, and a replacement design for a larger, more modern structure has been presented to the public. The new structure, to be built nearby, will be better able to handle tourists looking for fresh sushi and the excitement of live auctions, said officials. [CNN Travel]

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