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New Visit Britain Tourism Video Hits all the Right Notes



This YouTube clip from VisitBritain.com is too good to skip through.

If you're like me, you watch the timer count down until you can skip the disruptive advertisement and get to the video you actually want to watch. Not so with this new ad.

From the tea pouring and the crispy papadum to the taxicabs tooting their horns in an oh-so polite way, the video smartly showcases the diverse sounds of Great Britain—hitting all the right notes along the way.

Peter Schlesinger is a research assistant at Travel + Leisure and a member of the Trip Doctor news team. You can follow him on Twitter at @pschles08.

LGBT Rights Group GetEQUAL Issues Travel Alert to Mississippi

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Prominent LGBT rights group GetEQUAL issued its own Travel Alert to Mississippi today, as the state's legislature considers a bill that would allow business owners to discriminate for religious reasons.

Sound familiar? Just last week Arizona's governor vetoed a similar bill after massive public outcry, including several high-profile travel companies.

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America's Bikeshares Mapped Out By DC-Based Blogger

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We're loving this map of the country's largest bikeshare programs of 2013, from the Washington-based blog BeyondDC.

It shows the to-be-expected large players—Boston and DC—plus debuts from New York and Chicago, but while those cities dominate the map with their massive programs, it's the smaller dots that tell a more interesting story.

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Travel Companies Urge Arizona Governor to Veto Religious Freedom Act

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A growing chorus of prominent travel companies, including American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Southwest, and Marriott International, are pressing Arizona Governor Jan Brewer to veto Senate Bill 1062, the recently passed legislation that would allow businesses to deny service for religious reasons. The bill is meant to protect religious freedom, but would effectively legalize discrimination of religious minorities and LGBT individuals.

Both American Airlines and Marriott International—joined by the Arizona and Greater Phoenix Chambers of Commerce—have written letters (see here and here) to Governor Brewer outlining their concerns over the bill. Delta issued a statement yesterday, available here.

Marriott's regional Vice President Steve Hart and Director of Government Affairs Thomas Maloney believe that if enacted, SB 1062 would “undermine—or worse, counteract” the brand's efforts to boost revenue, particularly from business travelers.

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State Department Issues Travel Alert Updates for Thailand and Ukraine

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The State Department has updated its travel alerts for Thailand and Ukraine, responding to an uptick in politically-charged violence affecting both countries.

In Ukraine, demonstrations have flared up after the government opted for closer economic ties with Russia rather than with the EU. Since Thursday, over 100 individuals have died in the Kiev street riots. And anti-government rallies in Bangkok claimed their twelfth casulty—a police officer—on the February 18th.

We've been monitoring the Thai situation for months, and the new travel alert sends the same message: US citizens should avoid protest sites and any large gatherings.

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New Crowd-Sourced Exhibition Explores Boston's Love Affair with Impressionism

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The Museum of Fine Arts in Boston today is opening a new exhibition, “Boston Loves Impressionism,” showcasing 30 masterpieces carefully curated by…the public.

To choose the artworks for display, the MFA held an online contest that saw a staggering 41,497 votes cast over three weeks in January. And with one of the world’s largest Impressionist collections at their disposal, voters had quite the challenge. Who were the winners?

Among the top 30 scorers are perennial favorites by Cassatt, Cézanne, and Pisarro, with first-place going to Van Gogh’s Houses at Auvers. Water Lilies from Monet and Degas’s charming Little Fourteen-Year-Old Dancer—the only sculpture in the running—round out the top three.

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Ski Deals and Beach Plans for Presidents' Day Weekend

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It's official: Every state in the continental US—minus Florida—has snowfall. And with a long weekend coming up, it's the perfect opportunity to head to the hills for some skiing. Sites like Liftopia, Snow.com, and GetSkiTickets.com are offering last minute deals all over the country. Our favorite savings? Liftopia's $14 ski pass for New Hampshire's Ragged Mountain tomorrow—that's a 79% discount. They're selling out fast though, so act fast!

Tired of the snow? Here are some tips to book a last-minute beach vacation.

Peter Schlesinger is a Research Assistant at Travel + Leisure, and a member of the Trip Doctor News Team. 

Photo credit: Cultura Creative/ YAY Media AS

LGBT Travel Tips on Where to Go and Why to Travel

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Choosing where to go for your next vacation can be a tricky—though rewarding—process. Beach or mountain? Luxe or affordable? But as last week’s Why We Travel post detailed, a slew of the world’s top destinations outlaw homosexuality, leaving LGBT travelers with a more basic question of where they can (and should) and cannot (and should not) venture.

How to choose? Here are a few pointers:

Safety first: Upwards of 70 countries worldwide criminalize homosexuality. And public perception of gay individuals can be abysmal even in places without draconian sodomy laws on the books. Russia, for example, has seen a spike in hate crimes recently despite its relatively mild anti-gay laws. The takeaway from the first Why We Travel post on Sochi’s Olympics applies anywhere physical violence is a real possibility: LGBT travelers, especially same-sex couples, should exercise discretion.

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San Francisco's New United Terminal Gets an Artsy Upgrade

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United is celebrating the reopening of its Terminal 3 East at San Francisco International Airport (SFO) with an online sweepstakes for two free tickets. All voters need to do is choose their favorite feature at the $138 million renovation of T3E, helmed by design firms Hansel Phelps, Gensler, and KPA.

Here, six aspects of the new space T+L loves most:

  1. You can stay connected: Over 375 power outlets dispersed at work stations, make it easier than ever to keep your gadgets up and running—to better enjoy SFO's free WiFi.

  2. Or you can disconnect: Yoga studios let visitors find their zen before that longhaul to Hong Kong.

  3. You'll actually want to visit the bathroom: With private dressing rooms and comfortable nursing areas, it's no wonder SFO is touting these as “5-star restrooms.”

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LGBT Rights Around the World: What You Should Know

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My recent Why We Travel post discussed the potential risks of traveling to the Sochi Olympics in the wake of Russia's new anti-gay law. But the Duma is far from the only legislative body on earth enacting prohibitive policies against LGBT individuals.

The list of countries with draconian laws includes many of the expected players: Yemen, Iran, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, and Nigeria call for the death penalty as punishment for homosexual activity. In Bangladesh and Guyana, life imprisonment awaits transgressors. Yet these countries are not exactly top destinations for most Americans. So however they may feel about the laws, US travelers are unlikely to base their vacation plans off of them. A travel boycott by Americans to the Solomon Islands, where homosexuals face up to fourteen years in jail, is unlikely to hold much sway.

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