Travel in the COVID-Zone

Travel in the COVID-Zone
October 13, 2020

Cruise Ships dismantled for scrap metal

A number of disused cruise ships are being dismantled and sold for their scrap metal value following the disastrous impact of the coronavirus on the cruise ship industry.

The ships are being stripped down at a ship-breakers yards, the Aliaga Ship Recycling Facility, in Turkey.

Machu Picchu opened up for one lone tourist

Peru has opened the Inca ruins of Machu Picchu for a single Japanese tourist who had been waiting for almost seven months to visit the world heritage site.

Jesse Katayama was due to visit Machu Picchu in March before it was closed due to coronavirus. He went into lockdown with the rest of the nation, finding himself stranded.

Mr Katayama submitted a request to the ministry of culture and was granted special access to see the World Heritage Site before his return journey to Japan.

The ancient Inca citadel – Peru’s top tourist attraction – is expected to re-open next month, although no exact date has been given.

Jesse Katamaya’s Instagram

Lunch at Singapore Airlines, anyone?

Another quirky initiative by an airline has grabbed headlines this week, with Singapore’s national carrier offering lunch on a plane without a flight.

Diners, travel lovers and aviation enthusiasts have purchased tickets priced between $40 and $500, with every available seat selling out.

The airline is also offering home delivery of its meals, which also includes the airline’s tableware and amenity kits.

Phobic Traveller: The Next Chapter for Air Travel

Other Coronavirus News & Statistics

  • World Health Organization director-general has warned against allowing coronavirus to spread in the hope of achieving so-called herd immunity, saying the idea is “scientifically and ethically problematic”.
  • Texas has overtaken California as the state with the second highest Coronavirus death toll, after New York.
  • Trump returns to campaign trail less than 2 weeks after positive Coronavirus test. On Sunday, 11 days post positive test, Trump’s doctor said he was no longer a COVID transmission risk to others and said later on Monday that his most recent tests had all come back negative.
  • Worldometers: Up to date Coronavirus statistics

Main image: Machu Picchu, Pilot Productions ©

Travel in the COVID-Zone

Travel in the COVID-Zone
October 6, 2020

President Trump and First Lady contract coronavirus

U.S President Donald Trump tested positive for the COVID-19 on Thursday sparking widespread alarm and concern for his health. The President, who has previously expressed skepticism of the coronavirus, spent three nights in hospital receiving treatment before quickly reappearing to put on a strong face for the American public.

The president himself has expressed in a number of statements that he is feeling better. With the presidential election looming, he has made it clear that the show must go on.

Aside from the condition of his health, a number of people have criticised the President for maintaining a busy schedule whilst remaining potentially contagious to others.

Other world leaders who previously contracted the virus include Brazil’s Jair Bolsanaro and the UK’s Boris Johnson.

Air pollution in New Delhi expected to worsen COVID-19

India’s capital is bracing itself for its annual ‘air pollution season’ where officials expect the poor air quality and other pollution related health issues to exacerbate the already serious coronavirus health crisis.

The air quality in New Delhi drastically deteriorates between October and December — to levels which are often considered ‘hazardous’ — due to various factors including stubble burning after the harvest, vehicle pollution, cold weather and post-monsoon low atmospheric pressure.

Cycling is still wheelie popular in Europe

A combination of a summer of fantastic weather, the desire to avoid public transport, and err… the pandemic… have proved the perfect series of events for the cycling industry.

Other Coronavirus News & Statistics

  • Paris has once again closed bars and restaurants as officials raise their coronavirus alert level to maximum.
  • Virgin Atlantic has become the first UK airline to introduce COVID-19 pre-flight testing at its Heathrow base for its cabin crew and pilots.
  • Worldometers: Up to date Coronavirus statistics

Main image: Donald Trump, Gage Skidmore, Flickr Creative Commons

WWII Battle of Crete Nominated for Award!

WWII Battle of Crete Nominated for Award!

We are very pleased to announce that following the very positive reception of our show Ultimate Blitzkrieg: The WW2 Battle of Crete, the 3-part series has now been nominated for the prestigious award of Best Documentary/Factual Program by the Australian Academy for Cinema and Television Arts (AACTA).

The show, which was released in May of this year, was written, produced, directed and narrated by our very own Ian Cross!

The nomination comes following high praise from both Foxtel and the Weekend Australian Magazine, too!

Check out the series page for the show, the DVD, and our episodes On Demand below!

Episode 1: Invasion
Episode 2: Evacuation
Episode 3: Occupation

By Sofi Summers

Travel in the COVID-Zone

Travel in the COVID-Zone
September 30, 2020

Global deaths surpass 1 million

The report of the millionth death arrived on Tuesday, just short of 10 months since the first confirmed death in January. The current confirmed number of cases currently stands at over 33 million. Here are the top 5 nations with the highest number of deaths

PositionCountryTotal CasesTotal Deaths
1USA7,406,729210,797
2Brazil4,780,317143,010
3India6,229,47497,541
4Mexico738,16377,163
5UK446,15642,072
Source: Worldometers, midday (BST) 30 September

Disney to cut 28,000 jobs at theme parks

Walt Disney has announced that it will be cutting 28,000 jobs from its theme parks, mostly in the United States.

The decision comes in reaction to the new limited visitor capacity at the parks, and ongoing uncertainty about how long the coronavirus pandemic will last.

Disney lost $4.7bn (£3.6bn) in the three months to 27 June.

Disney’s parks in Shanghai, Hong Kong, Tokyo and Paris are not affected by the announcement. Josh D’Amaro, chairman of the parks unit, said the company’s problems in the US were “exacerbated in California by the state’s unwillingness to lift restrictions that would allow Disneyland to reopen.”

60 million Indians may have had the coronavirus, pandemic agency suggests

According to official data, India is the world’s second most infected nation, with more than 6.2 million cases. Officially, nearly 100,000 Indians have died due to COVID-19, though the country’s leading pandemic agency suggest that the real number is likely significantly higher.

Citing an antibody study which was run to determine the proportion of the population have had the virus, the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) suggested that the figure is more likely closer to 1 in 15 Indians (aged over 10), placing the number at around 60 million, which is 10 times the official number.

Other Coronavirus News & Statistics

  • German Chancellor has urged Germans to “continue acting patiently” in the fight against the Coronavirus. She has this week begun to reimpose restrictions on the number of people who can meet following a number of outbreaks at larger gatherings.
  • Despite concerns for the future of office space across London, Morgan Stanley has decided to move to a new, bigger space in England’s capital. It is thought that currently only 1/3 of London’s workers are travelling to the office each day.
  • Worldometers: Up to date Coronavirus statistics

Main image: Disney, qin linlin, Flickr Creative Commons

Travel in the COVID-Zone

Travel in the COVID-Zone
September 24, 2020

New restrictions for British public

The UK government has this week announced a new curfew on hospitality venues whereby they must close at 10pm. This new rule follows restrictions placed last week on the size of gathering, reducing the maximum number allowed in a group to six.

According to reports, police call handlers have been experiencing a very high volume of six-people violation reports. Prime Minister Boris Johnson has also stated that he is considering using the armed forces to support the police in enforcing new restrictions.

Meanwhile in Northern Ireland, pubs serving alcohol without food have been allowed to reopen for the first time since March.

Quantas sightseeing flight sells out in record time

It’s nice to share some positive aviation news this week after such a tough year.

Phobic Traveller: Getting Aviation Off The Ground

For a bit of novelty and fun for some, Australian flag carrier airline Quantas cunningly put on a flight which departs and arrives at Sydney and completes a 7 hour round trip of some of Australia’s most naturally stunning sights – from the sky!

The so-called Great Southern Land flight sold out in just 10 minutes, with ticket prices ranging from $787 for economy seats to $3,787 for business class seats (AUD).

Travel within Australia is largely prohibited at the moment, meaning that many have not been able to see the multiple incredible sights that the nation has to offer. The due to its sky-high nature, the flight circumvents the border restrictions and will allow those who choose the opportunity to appreciate the views!

Due to the popularity of the flight, Quantas have suggested that they might run more similar events.

A very quiet Taj Mahal

The world witnessed scenes of a very quiet Taj Mahal this week after it reopened for the first time since March. The absence of foreign visitors made for a very eerie atmosphere in a venue which welcomed more than 6.5 million visitors in 2018!


More Coronavirus News & Statistics

  • More than 600 students of Glasgow University have been told to self-isolate after 124 have tested positive
  • A handful of Dutch celebrities have been heavily criticised in the Netherlands after publicly announcing they were abandoning efforts to combat COVID-19.
  • Worldometers: Up to date Coronavirus statistics

Main image: The De Beauvoir Arms, De Beauvoir Town, London. Ewan Munro, Flickr Creative Commons

Travel in the COVID-Zone

Travel in the COVID-Zone
September 14, 2020

Israel returns to full lockdown

Israel is to impose a new three-week nationwide lockdown from Friday in a bid to again slow down the spread of COVID-19. Daily new infections are currently closing in on nearly 3000 a day.

The move has attracted criticism from some of the nations’s conservative religious leaders due to the coincidence of the lockdown with two of the most important events in the Jewish calendar – Rosh Hashanah (Jewish New Year) and the most holy of all, Yom Kippur (The Day of Atonement).

Others have heralded the move as crucial in order to protect the nation from even more deaths, which currently stands at 1,126.

The logistics of shipping a vaccine around the world

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has suggested that over 8000 Jumbo Jets would be required to ship a vaccine for the coronavirus around the world.

Most vaccines require storage temperatures of between 2C – 8C, excluding a number of other aircraft from the task at hand.

While no vaccine has yet been fully developed, a global airlift plan is being developed between airlines, the IATA, governments and scientists to deliver the vaccine, on the basis of one dose per person.

Tensions are rising in Australia

Over the weekend, Melbourne saw clashes between the authorities and the public during two anti-lockdown protests. Over 80 people were arrested during the protests for breaking the current stay-at-home legislation.

The protests come as the state of Victoria has extended its ‘state of disaster’ for another month, giving the authorities extended powers to enforce public health orders. The state has been on lockdown since early July.

Meanwhile in Queensland, the cheif health officer has been given police protection following death threats which come after strict state rules prevented a young woman from attending her fathers funeral.

Australian prime minister Scott Morrison has expressed concern at the extremely tight border restrictions upheld by Queensland and other state legislatures, and has since agreed with the suggestion that Australia is losing its humanity in the face of the public health crisis.

Other Coronavirus News & Statistics

  • England has imposed stricter measures on the size of gatherings, limiting them to just 6 people. This comes following criticisms of young people for allegedly not respecting the social distancing measures already in place.
  • Canadian airline refuses to take off because of a 3 year old child allegedly not wearing a face covering. The airline’s (and the Canadian government’s) policy requires all children over the age of 2 to wear a face covering.
  • Worldometers: Up to date Coronavirus statistics

Main image: Tel Aviv, RG in TLV, Flickr Creative Commons

California Wildfires Have Burned Over 2 Million Acres of Forest This Year

California Wildfires Have Burned Over 2 Million Acres of Forest This Year

At present, more than 14,000 firefighters are fighting around 24 major fires across the state of California which continue to grow.

It is estimated that this year, an area totalling around five times the size of London has been burned by these wildfires.

The fires do not stop at the state border – Oregon and Washington state are facing similar destruction.

The smoke from the fires has turned the skies orange, prompting calls for various neighbourhoods most at risk to be evacuated. Similar fires in 2018 damaged or destroyed 24,226 structures, and caused 100 confirmed fatalities.

Dry and hot weather, paired with gusty winds, is helping the fires to spread.

Los Angeles county saw temperatures of 121F (49.5C), a record high over the weekend, and San Francisco hit 100F (38C) on Sunday, breaking a previous same-day record of 92F (33C) set more than 100 years ago in 1904.

These temperatures have two large risks attached to them. First, when combined with dry, gusty winds, can facilitate the spread of a fire. Second, they result in an increased electricity usage, primarily from the use of air conditioning systems, somewhat overloading the electricity lines. The power grids in California are notoriously sensitive to high temperatures.

California power companies have warned of power outages to attempt to control the situation and prevent any further fires from starting. Dried woodland material falling onto electrified lines was the direct cause of one blaze in the 2017 wildfires.

These record breaking temperatures are also causing electrical storms, with lightning striking dried areas of woodland. Dead, dry trees are the perfect fuel for a large blaze.

This week, one particular blaze was reported to have been ignited by a ‘pyrotechnic’ device used for a gender reveal stunt. Devices such as these often combust, releasing a coloured smoke, indicating the gender of the baby.

More information

Smoke From Australia’s Fires Will Make Full Circuit Around The Globe (Jan 2020)


Main image: The Woolsey Fire, California, 2018. Photo courtesy of Peter Buschmann

Travel in the COVID-Zone

Travel in the COVID-Zone

Travel, Explore, Defer?

For most of the northern hemisphere, this time of year marks the start of a new academic year, and for many students this means upping sticks and moving to a new house, city and sometimes even country!

As with many other things over the past few months, the coronavirus has now put pay to this year’s foreign cohorts. A report conducted by Ernst & Young estimates that only about 330,000 foreigners are studying in Britain, the US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand this year, down from 1.09 million in 2019.

However, they also predict that 2021 will see up to 1.85 million people starting degrees in foreign countries, as those who deferred this year resume their studies.

Why not check out our free Study Guides?

In the UK, Cambridge University has said it will be only conducting online teaching for the duration of the new acadmeic year, deferring the arrival of over 20,000 students to the city, which usually make up around a sixth of the entire city’s population!

Meanwhile, Harvard’s 2020 freshmen have arrived on campus in a socially distanced manner, with most student expressing relief at having made it, and a little disappointment at the lack of buzz about the Yard. In past weeks, the New York Times has tracked thousands of cases that were linked to students returning to campuses across the nation.

Hope and Fear: How Pandemics Changed the World

Our latest documentary explores the impact on our planet of viral diseases across the ages.

COVID-19, which struck with such devastating impact in the early months of 2020, is just the latest in a long line of pandemics that have devastated, and in some cases, destroyed societies throughout time.

Like all pandemics, COVID-19 was sparked by human interaction with the animal world.

“Hope and Fear: How Pandemics Changed the World” looks at the circumstances that have caused these diseases – whether it be hygiene, poverty, overcrowding, urbanisation or the growth of cities – and how travel has impacted on their rapid transmission resulting in pandemics.

Other Coronavirus News & Statistics

  • The University of Georgia has advised its students to wear face masks during sex. In a COVID pamphlet, it said: “Consider wearing a face mask during sex. Heavy breathing and panting can further spread the virus, and wearing a mask can reduce the risk.”
  • British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is leading by example and has been spotted exercising in a bid to shed his excess pounds after asking the nation to do the same. In 2018, 63% of adults in the UK were overweight or obese, and 20.2% of children aged 11 were obese. It is understood that being overweight puts you at risk of becoming seriously ill with the COVID-19 virus, along with multiple other health complications.
  • Worldometers: Up to date Coronavirus statistics

Main image: Cambridge University, Mark Fosh, Flickr Creative Commons

Travel in the COVID-Zone

Travel in the COVID-Zone
25 August, 2020

First documented coronavirus reinfection reported in Hong Kong

A man in his 30’s is reported to have become reinfected with coronavirus more than 4 months after his first diagnosis.

Hong Kong scientists say that the two strains of the virus are “clearly different”, making it the world’s first proven case of reinfection

The World Health Organization warns it is important not to jump to conclusions based on the case of one patient, and experts say reinfections may be rare and not necessarily serious. It is fully expected that the virus will mutate over time.

Usain Bolt tested positive for COVID-19 following his birthday celebrations.

Usain Bolt, world sprinting superstar, has tested positive for COVID-19 just days following his “big, mask-free” birthday party.

The Jamaican 100m and 200m sprint world record holder is said to be isolating at his home in Jamaica, and has so far not displayed any symptoms of the illness.

Usain Bolt, Nick Webb, Flickr Creative Commons

Did these countries dodge the COVID bullet?

Read this BBC article about the 10 nations that managed to keep COVID at bay!

Latest Coronavirus News & Statistics


Main image: Hong Kong, November 2011, MojoBaron, Flickr Creative Commons

Travel in the COVID-Zone

Travel in the COVID-Zone
August 18, 2020

Italy closes nightclubs after a surge in infections

The government of Italy have ordered nightclubs and other dancing venues to close following a spike in infections leading back to evening entertainment venues. The government have also advised that anyone out and in a public space between 6pm and 6am should wear a face covering.

Roberto Speranza, Italy’s health minister has also urged young people to be more cautious due to the risk of causing “real damage” to their parents and grandparents by transmitting the virus to them.

Infection discovered at Utah mink farm

Mink at two farms in Utah have tested positive for the zoonotic virus which causes covid-19 in humans. Employees at the farm have also tested positive for covid-19. Researchers are currently trying to determine whether the humans passed the disease onto the mink or vice-versa, and if any other mink have been infected at other farms.

Bali’s reopening pushed back to September

Heavily reliant on tourism for income, Bali has been hit very hard by the coronavirus. Inviting in a record-breaking 6.28 million foreign visitors in 2019, covid-19 has put pay to the island’s tourism winning streak this year with only 880,000 foreigners arriving in the first half of 2020 .

Many of Bali’s 4 million residents have been relying on the tourism industry for generations, with tourism making up over 80% of Bali’s local economy. With people staying home due to the coronavirus travel restrictions, its residents are struggling.

Bali resident and Aussie expat Jon Gwyther, who has lived in Bali for 20 years, has documented the eerie streets of tourist hotspot Kuta, where “Only Echos Remain”

Only Echoes Remain

Posted by Pilot Guides on Tuesday, August 18, 2020

Norway ‘recommends’ mask wearing

The Norwegian government has introduced guidance encouraging people to wear masks on public transport when a safe distnace of 1 metre cannot be maintained, such as rush hour. Somewhat late to the mask-party, this face mask recommendation is the first the government has made since the beginning of the pandemic.

Norwegian health officials are certain that the population understand the magnitude of the situation and will choose to follow guidance, and do not expect to have the rules enforced by the police.

Oslo’s bus operator, Ruker, along with Vy, the national rail operator, have said that they will not ask people to disembark if the do not wear a face covering, and that it is every individual’s responsibility to wear their mask and keep their distance.

Latest Coronavirus News & Statistics

  • Amazon today unveiled plans to create 3,500 new jobs as it gears up to return to office life with an expanded physical presence across the US. The firm will again buck the global trend and will be extending its office space in 6 major US locations.
  • The four-day Democratic National Convention is being held virtually this week, with live and prerecorded speeches coming from across the country along with virtual events.

Main image: American Mink, Kary Nieuwenhuis, Flickr Creative Commons