London named as top traveller destination, Typhoon Neoguri batters Japan and conflict continues to escalate in Israel and the West Bank

Get the best travel news here curated by Lonely Planet Destination Editors, who use their expertise to bring you the stories that matter from all over the world. In today’s edition: London is voted as the top destination for travellers again, typhoon leaves a trail of destruction in Japan, violence continues to spiral in Israeli-Palestinian conflict and a new Harry Potter theme park is set to open in Orlando.

Europe
Asia & the Pacific
The Americas
Middle East & Africa
Weird, odd & just plain fun

YOUR WORLD TODAY

9 July is…

Independence Day, South Sudan

Martyrdom of the Báb, Iran

Constitution Day, Australia

EUROPE

Stories curated by Lonely Planet’s Europe Destination Editors: Jo CookeJames SmartBrana VladisavljevicKate MorganAnna Tyler and Gemma Graham.

Moscow Velobikes come to St. Petersburg. Image by Moscow Cycle Chic / CC BY-SA 2.0.
Velobikes come to St. Petersburg. Image by Moscow Cycle Chic / CC BY-SA 2.0

St Petersburg launches public bike-sharing scheme
The first automated bicycle-sharing system was launched in St Petersburg on July 3. There are 28 rental points around the city centre, and 170 bicycles are currently available for rent. The scheme offers online registration as well as weekly membership and season passes. Read more: sptimes.ru

Acropolis Museum ‘restores’ Parthenon Marbles with 3D imagery
As part of the celebrations marking its fifth birthday, the Acropolis Museum in Athens is using digital technology to ‘restore’ the Parthenon Marbles to their original appearance. ‘Scanned’ onto the stones, the 3D images are showing the famous sculptures with brightly coloured capes and weapons. Read more: dailymail.co.uk

Airport authority investigates Barcelona ‘near miss’
Footage of two planes involved in an apparent ‘near miss’ at Barcelona  El Prat airport last week has prompted an investigation by Spanish airport authorities. The amateur film appears to show a plane coming into land as another taxis across the runway. A spokesman for the Association of Air Traffic Controllers (APROCTA) has claimed there was no risk of a collision. Read more: elpais.com

Santa Maria Novella, Florence's central station. Image by Malcolm Moore / CC BY 2.0.
Santa Maria Novella, Florence’s central rail station. Image by Malcolm Moore / CC BY 2.0

Visitors to Florence warned of scam
Visitors passing through Florence’s central rail station have been warned to be on the look out for a gang of people who are trying to con them out of money. The scam involves ‘helping’ tourists to carry their luggage onto and off trains or to operate the ticket machines and then demanding money, sometimes up to €20, for the ‘service’. Read more: thelocal.it

Oldest map of world discovered on ostrich egg
Italian geographers think they have found the oldest existing map of the world, engraved on an ostrich egg. The map, which shows North America as two small islands, is believed to date from 1504, and may have been engraved by Leonardo da Vinci or one of his pupils. Read more: ansa.it

The Netherlands scraps paper train tickets
From Wednesday July 9, travellers will need a public transport smart card (ov-chipkaart) to use trains in the Netherlands with the phasing out of paper tickets. Disposable train cards will be available to tourists who don’t have the ov-chipkaart but they will have to pay €1 more for their journey. Read more: dutchnews.nl

New European connections for Iceland
Connections between Iceland and the rest of Europe are improving. Budget airline EasyJet has announced new connections between Keflavík International Airport, in Reykjavík, and Geneva, Belfast and London Gatwick – routes that will double the company’s scheduled flights to Iceland. Read more: icelandicreview.com

A view of London, from The Shard. Image by [Duncan] / CC BY 2.0.
A view of London from The Shard. Image by [Duncan] / CC BY 2.0

London is international travellers’ favourite
London has been hailed as the top destination for international travellers for the third time in four years. The British capital is projected to receive 18.7 million international visitors this year, 300,000 more than its nearest competitor, Bangkok. Paris, Singapore and Dubai complete the top five. Two-thirds of visitors to London came from Europe. Read more: travelweekly.co.uk

New Gandhi statue planned for Westminster
The British government has announced that a new statue of Mahatma Gandhi will be erected in Parliament Square, to commemorate the centenary of the start of Gandhi’s quest for independence for India in 2015. The independence leader will join Nelson Mandela, Abraham Lincoln and former adversary Winston Churchill on the roll call of world leaders captured in bronze in front of the Houses of Parliament. Read more: blogs.swj.com

ASIA &THE PACIFIC

Stories curated by Lonely Planet’s Asia & the Pacific Destination Editors: Megan EavesSarah ReidJoe BindlossLaura Crawford and Tasmin Waby.

Guangxi, China. Image by Dimitry B. / CC BY 2.0.
Guangxi, China. Image by Dimitry B. / CC BY 2.0

Cliff-top airport to open in southern China
A 667-metre-high airport is expected to open in Guangxi in southern China in August. Some 50 hilltops will be levelled off to make way for Hechi airport’s runway. When completed, it will be the highest civilian airport in the region and the only one carved into a cliff. Read more: shanghaiist.com

Stranded whale sparks amateur rescue, Queensland   
After official rescue attempts were shelved for the day, a small group of onlookers broke cordon lines on Palm Beach, Queensland and attempted to rescue a beached whale. However, it seems that their efforts were in vain as the tide was too low for the whale to make it out to safety.
Read more: goldcoastbulletin.com.au

Endangered animals taken off Northern Territory’s NAIDOC week menu
A Northern Territory government department has abandoned plans to serve endangered animals at its traditional bush tucker lunch for NAIDOC week. The advertised menu consisted of ‘traditional home-cooked dishes including kangaroo satays, chilli crab, barramundi, curry goose, coconut curry chicken, dugong, turtle, chicken vermicelli and blutchung pork.’ but the endangered sea turtle and dugong have been cancelled after protesters threatened to target the event. Read more: abc.net.au

Christchurch taxis the highest fares in the world
According to a newly published survey of taxi fares in 17 cities worldwide Christchurch, New Zealand takes the award for the most expensive taxis in the world. An Auckland-based agency Digital Hothouse told the New Zealand media that Christchurch topped Sydney, London, Madrid and Moscow for cab fares. A taxi from Christchurch airport to the centre of town costs around $4.50/km. Read more: 3new.co.nz

Almaty’s bike scheme opens
A public bicycle hire scheme has officially opened in Astana, Kazakhstan.  Two hundred bicycles are available from stands around the city centre, with plans for more to become available throughout the year. Cyclists can hire a bike with a credit card, but need to register for the scheme online beforehand. Read more: en.tengrinews.kz

Typhoon Neoguri slams Japan
Typhoon Neoguri bore down on Japan’s southern Okinawa island chain on Wednesday, killing two and leaving a trail of damage. Japan’s national weather agency predicts the typhoon, packing gusts of up to 180km/hr, could hit the southern main island of Kyushu as early as Thursday, before moving east along the Japanese archipelago. Read more: channelnewsasia.com

Singaporeans ‘more gracious’ than last year
Singaporeans have reported doing, receiving or witnessing more acts of kindness compared to a year ago, according to the city-state’s sixth annual Graciousness Index. Released on Wednesday, the Index inched up by two points from a record low of 53 last year, with 81% of respondents agreeing that encouraging the right values in youth will best promote kindness. Read more: straitstimes.com

End of the (production) line for India’s national car
The manufacturer of the iconic Ambassador, the car used by millions of Indians from taxi drivers to presidents, has announced that it will end production of the car due to falling demand. Modelled on the British Morris Oxford, the car has been produced with only superficial changes since 1957. Hormazd Sorabjee, the editor of Autocar India, provided his own obituary to this national icon. Read more: bbc.co.uk

THE AMERICAS

Stories curated by Lonely Planet’s Americas Destination Editors: Clifton WilkinsonDora WhitakerAlex Howard and MaSovaida Morgan.

New York City skyline. Image by Martin de Lusenet / CC BY 2.0.
New York City skyline. Image by Martin de Lusenet / CC BY 2.0.

Uber drops price by 20% in New York
The car-sharing service Uber has slashed its prices by 20% in New York in an attempt to compete more effectively with the city’s yellow taxi cabs. The cost of an UberX service from Grand Central Station to the Financial District is now $22, compared with a standard taxi fare of $24. It is not known how long the discount will be in place. Read more: nydailynews.com

Wizarding World of Harry Potter expansion opens at Universal Orlando
Diagon Alley, the long-awaited expansion of Universal Orlando’s Wizarding World of Harry Potter theme park, opened to the public on Tuesday. The expansion has doubled the size of the Harry Potter-themed space at Universal and includes a 3D thrill ride featuring a fire-breathing dragon and a walk through the Gringotts vaults as well as restaurants and shops. Read more: travelweekly.com

New development along San Francisco waterfront
Port of San Francisco officials have announced plans to convert an old pier into a tourist-attracting shopping and eating destination. They hope to copy the success of the famous Ferry Building, also owned by port authorities and redeveloped in 2003, which draws large numbers of visitors to its market and shops. Read more: bizjournals.com

Pilot buys pizzas for entire plane
When weather caused a Washington, D.C., to Denver flight to land in Cheyenne, WY, the pilot ordered more than 50 pizzas for his passengers. After waiting an hour on the tarmac of Cheyenne Regional Airport, the pilot announced that he would have the pizzas delivered to the plane. The weather later cleared, and the plane received the go-ahead to fly on to Denver. Read more: kdvr.com

Gift shop opens at Diamond Head state park
One of Hawaii’s most-visited destinations has opened a gift shop. As part of a public-private partnership between the state and Pacific Historic Parks, the new shop is aimed at educating visitors and raising money for Hawaii parks. According to one state park spokesperson, the money is needed: this year the budget for Hawaii state parks is $8 million, the same as in 1993, and there are more parks. Read more: kitv.com

Coors Light marketing ploy causes Toronto traffic dismay
A Coors Light marketing campaign shut down a major Toronto intersection during rush hour on Monday. The promotion was part of a ‘Search and Rescue’ scavenger hunt that used 880 briefcases containing prizes. Authorities closed the intersection at Spadina Ave. and Dundas St. West due to safety concerns when one briefcase was found attached to a metal railing. Read more: cbc.ca

MIDDLE EAST & AFRICA

Stories curated by Lonely Planet’s Middle East & Africa Destination Editors: Helen Elfer and Matt Phillips.

The streets of Arusha, Tanzania. Image by Alexander Johmann / CC BY-SA 2.0.
Arusha, Tanzania. Image by Alexander Johmann / CC BY-SA 2.0

Bomb blast injures eight in Arusha, Tanzania
Eight people were injured in Arusha this week when an improvised explosive device was thrown into a restaurant frequented by tourists and wealthy locals. Police have arrested two Tanzanians relating to the incident, though a motive for the attack is still unknown. Two people were injured last week when a bomb was thrown into a Muslim cleric’s home. Read more: bbc.co.uk

Security situation deteriorates in Israel and the Palestinian Territories
The Israel-Palestine conflict has ramped up significantly over the past few days. Israel has hit Gaza hard with a series of airstrikes, leaving at least 25 Palestinians dead, 17 of them civilians. Air raid sirens have sounded in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem for the first time since 2012 after rockets were fired from Gaza, with citizens driven to bomb shelters. No Israeli casualties have been reported so far. Read more: theguardian.com

Kenya to further boost security in tourism areas
The government of Kenya has announced that it will intensify security patrols around tourism facilities across the country. Security has already been boosted within these facilities, but the Commerce and Tourism Principal Secretary said their surroundings should now have additional security vigilance. The statement followed the shooting of a Russian tourist in Mombasa’s old town earlier this week. Read more: eturbonews.com

WEIRD, ODD & JUST PLAIN FUN

Barcelona captured in “flow-motion” video
A video artist has produced a “flow-motion” video of Barcelona’s top tourist sites. The short film moves swiftly through the city, visiting the Barri Gòtic, Park Güell, Sagrada Família and other famous sites. See more: vimeo.com
Jo Cooke

Slovakian finds new way to commute
Tired of the same old methods of transport? Bratislava resident Tomáš Moravec has devised a new way to get around, using a modified wooden pallet on the city’s tram lines. Read more: ftw.usatoday.com
Gemma Graham