WORLD TOURISM BY THE NUMBERS
More people are traveling worldwide, more of them are from China and many of them are heading to Europe, according to the United Nations World Tourism Organization.
Tourist arrivals overall were up worldwide in 2014 over the previous year by an increase of 4.7 percent. The UNWTO said Europe was the most visited region in the world with over half the world's international tourists adding up to 588 million arrivals, an increase of 4 percent or 22 million overnight visitors over 2013. Biggest increases were in Northern Europe and Southern and Mediterranean Europe (7 percent), while Western European arrivals were up 2 percent. Arrivals in Central and Eastern Europe were unchanged after three years of increases.
China has been the world's largest outbound market since 2012. Outbound trips from China increased in 2014 by 11 million over the year before, bringing the country's outbound total to 109 million trips, the UNWTO said. Travel from Russia decreased 6 percent in 2014 while travel from Brazil grew by 2 percent, the WTO found.
International tourist arrivals in Asia and the Pacific increased 5 percent last year by 13 million to 263 million. North America saw an 8 percent increase in international tourist arrivals, and arrivals to Central and South America increased 6 percent, doubling their growth from the previous year and exceeding world averages.
The UNWTO said international tourist arrivals in the Middle East were up 4 percent, while Africa's international tourist numbers grew by an estimated 2 percent, an increase of about 1 million arrivals. The organization noted the continent saw more tourists despite the Ebola outbreak, but added that the findings were based on "limited and volatile data."
For 2015, the UNWTO is forecasting another increase in international tourist arrivals between 3 and 4 percent. The organization expects increased demand as the global economy improves, driven partly by a decline in oil prices.
FRANK LLOYD WRIGHT SITES
The U.S. is nominating 10 buildings in seven states by American architect Frank Lloyd Wright to be included on the World Heritage List, which recognizes important cultural and natural sites.
Wright's buildings are considered among the most important in modern architecture. On the list are Unity Temple in Oak Park, Illinois; Frederick C. Robie House in Chicago, Illinois; Taliesin in Spring Green, Wisconsin; Hollyhock House in Los Angeles, California; Fallingwater in Mill Run, Pennsylvania; Herbert and Katherine Jacobs House in Madison, Wisconsin; Taliesin West in Scottsdale, Arizona; Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York City; Price Tower in Bartlesville, Oklahoma; and Marin County Civic Center in San Rafael, California.
CANCUN BY THE CLOCK
Cancun has changed time zones.
The resort destination along with the rest of Quintana Roo, the Mexican state that it's located in, changed its time zone from Central to Eastern time on Feb. 1, pushing clocks forward by one hour.
The change gives the beach resort an extra hour of daylight. Officials say it will also cut down on electricity use since hotels and restaurants won't have to turn the lights on quite as early in the evening for winter-weary tourists looking for an extra hour of sunshine.
In addition, the change aligns clocks in Cancun with many of the U.S. and Canadian cities that send tourists there. Cancun is now also in the same time zone as some of the Caribbean islands it competes with for tourists.
BROOKLYN BOTANIC GARDEN
It's going to be a big year for New York City's Brooklyn Botanic Garden.
Not only is the garden marking the centennial of its serenely beautiful Japanese Hill-and-Pond Garden, but it's hosting an exhibition of outdoor sculpture by the Japanese-American artist Isamu Noguchi. The Noguchi works will be set amid the Japanese garden's rocks, pond and plantings. The late Noguchi's studio in Queens houses the Isamu Noguchi Museum, which is collaborating on the garden exhibition.
The Brooklyn Botanic Garden also hosts an annual cherry blossom celebration, Sakura Matsuri, April 25-26, with a variety of Japanese-themed cultural events. And several long-term improvements will be unveiled soon as well, including an expanded Discovery Garden for children in June and a refurbished entrance on Flatbush Avenue reopening this spring.