News and Notes: Horses to Rio, stopping tiger tourism and another China link to YVR

Here are some of the more interesting bits of travel news to land in my inbox in the last week:

Horses flying down to Rio for the Olympics

LAUSANNE, Switzerland — The first group of Olympic horses departed from London Stansted Airport (GBR) July 20 on a special cargo plane bound for Rio 2016, marking the start of the Olympic dream for the world’s best equine athletes.

With 34 horses from 10 nations on board, the equine cargo worth multiple millions, was loaded into customized pallets for the almost 12-hour flight aboard an Emirates SkyCargo Boeing 777-F.

Horses from Great Britain, Ireland, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Zimbabwe, Brazil, Japan, Italy and China boarded Friday’s flight out of Stansted, the first of nine shipments delivering more than 200 horses to Rio International Airport, en route to the Olympic Equestrian Centre in Deodoro Olympic Park.

This highly complex operation involves three hubs in Europe and America: Stansted (GBR), Liege (BEL) and Miami (USA). The competing horses and their riders will represent 43 nations from around the globe in the Olympic disciplines of Dressage, Jumping and Eventing.

Group calls for an end to tiger tourism in Thailand

In the wake of the scandal and closure of Thailand’s Tiger Temple, World Animal Protection released a report detailing the scale of abuse of captive tigers at the hands of Thailand’s tiger tourism industry.

The report, ‘Tiger selfies exposed: a portrait of Thailand’s tiger entertainment industry’ is the first comprehensive study of the tiger entertainment industry in Thailand.

The global charity uncovered a fast expanding tiger tourism industry with a third more captive tigers (33%) in Thailand in the last five years. At time of their investigations in 2015 and beginning of 2016 there were 830 tigers in captivity at entertainment venues, compared to the 623 in Thailand when they first researched this issue in 2010.

Tiger entertainment venues are increasingly popular attractions where tourists can get up close and personal for a ‘once in a life-time’ encounter with a wild tiger in captivity.

Besides a worrying trend in the growing numbers of tigers, the report also evidences the intensity of the cruelty involved in tigers being submissive enough to entertain tourists.

World Animal Protection is calling for:

  • Governments worldwide to investigate tiger entertainment venues and close down those that show evidence of illegal trade, cruelty or neglect
  • TripAdvisor and other travel companies to end their sales and promotion of cruel wildlife entertainment attractions
  • Travellers to stay away from any wildlife tourist entertainment venues that allows direct human-animal interaction, such as hugging and selfies with tigers.

More information about the campaign and TripAdvisor petition here.

Another airline from mainland China offers flights to Vancouver

Vancouver International Airport (YVR) celebrated the inaugural flight of Xiamen Airlines to North America last week. The new year-round, non-stop, Boeing 787 service will operate three times weekly between YVR and Xiamen Gaoqi International Airport (XMN).

The new Chinese service originates from Xiamen Airlines’ namesake city, which has a population of more than 3.8 million people. Located in southeastern China,

Xiamen Airlines has been in operation for 32 years and for the past three years it has been named the Best Airline in Mainland China and received the highest honour for service, winning the China Quality Award in 2016. The company operates an all-Boeing fleet of narrow-body and wide-body aircraft. The new YVR route, added as part of a rapid intercontinental expansion, is operated on a Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner.

Orlando Eye gets a new name

After celebrating its first birthday this past May, Orlando’s 400-foot observation wheel is bubbling with happiness over its new name: Coca-Cola Orlando Eye.

The partnership with Coca-Cola allows guests to share enhanced new experiences on the observation wheel from the moment they enter the attraction. Guests will be greeted with a bold and contemporary look throughout the interior and exterior of the Eye’s terminal building, featuring Coca-Cola’s signature red and white colors. On the wheel itself, select capsules have been transformed to offer the ultimate visitor experience, featuring special décor, an upbeat music selection, selfie sticks, themed tablets and Coca-Cola coolers.

For more information on the observation wheel, visit

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