Tag Archives: south america

Free! Travel Information Delivered To Your Door!

The internet is an incredible free source of destination information, but it can’t quite match the thrill of receiving a whole envelope full of free glossy brochures of beautiful people streched out before vistas of azure oceans. Here are two great sources of free travel information delivered to your door; one defintely useful, the perhaps somewhat other less so.

Travel BrochuresLet’s start with the best. Tourism authorities are a fantastic and often-overlooked source of travel information – particularly for decent free maps and basic info with lots of glossy pictures. ANTOR’s* represents 48 official tourism authorities (including the Australian State authorities) and the destination info page provides (along side some basic travel info) the URL, email address and contact details for all of them. If you’re interested in any major destination for Australian travellers it will be listed. Simply email the relevant authority with your address, rough dates of travel and as far as possible the specific regions or cities you’re interested in and wait for the postie everyday for a week or so! No substitute for a good guidebook or your own research but generally there will be at least a couple of genuinely useful items in the material sent.

TravelBrochures.com.au and TravelBrochures.SMH.com.au are another clearing house for free travel information, although arguably of a must less useful nature. These sites allow to order free tour company brochures, some of which are available in digital (tree-saving) format. All the majors are available as well as a few smaller operators – useful if you wish to compare tours from a number of companies or can’t get to a travel agent. Of course some major operators now send out (often unintenionally comical) DVDs as as a bonus! Be warned, however, apart from ending up on a tour (which may or may not be a bad thing in itself…), you are likely to end up on a mailing list of the tour companies from which it may be difficult to extract yourself!

*(Association of National Tourist Office Representatives in Australasia)

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Portuguese now more Brazilian and less… Portuguese

Portugal’s parliament last week approved a measure to standardise the Portugese language, standarising the Brazilian spelling of numerous words. The benefits? Apparently, making the language Portuguese Flagmore uniform globally, internet searches and legal documents easier to understand and removing silent consonants in order for words to be spelt more phonetically. Oh, and ‘Portuguese officials hope the measure would advance an old ambition of getting Portuguese adopted as an official language at the UN’.

All sounds peachy, but Portuguese nationalists are furious at the prospect of this slight to national pride, with The Independent quoting distinguished poet Vasco Gra├ža Moura as saying “There is no need for us to take a back seat to Brazil.”

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Lonely Planet Responds to Kohnstamm Embarrassment

Via Tales of Asia: Lonely Planet’s response to the Kohnstamm imbroglio.

This behaviour is completely contrary to what Lonely Planet is all about. Because of the nature of Thomas’ claims, we’re carefully reviewing all the Lonely Planet content he has worked on. Where we find problems or discrepancies, we will tell you immediately and replace that content with accurate, up-to-date material.

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Scandal at Lonely Planet – Colombia guide written in San Francisco!

Lonely Planet ColombiaScandal is engulfing Lonely Planet after the revelations by an employee, Thomas Kohnstamm, that slabs of the South America guidebooks contributed to were anything but well researched. In a new book entitled Do Travel Writers Go To Hell? Kohnstamm admits to having plagerised and invented information. He claims he didn’t even visit Colombia to write the LP guide ‘because they didn’t pay me enough’; instead, ‘I wrote the book in San Francisco. I got the information from a chick I was dating – an intern in the Colombian consulate’.

Khonstamm accepted free travel and his recommendations seem to have been anything but fearlessly independent. Here is one of Kohnstamm’s anecdotes from a restaurant in Brazil he recommended:

“The waitress suggests that I come back after she closes down the restaurant, around midnight,” he writes. “We end up having sex in a chair and then on one of the tables in the back corner.

” That performance earned a guidebook entry describing the restaurant as “a pleasant surprise” where “the table service is friendly”.

According to reports another LP author, Jeanne Oliver, wrote to management regarding this scandal ‘Why did you (management) not understand that when you hire a constant stream of new, unvetted people, pay them poorly and set them loose, that someone, somehow was going to screw you?’.

Apparently Mr Kohnstamm’s books are being ‘urgently reviewed’.

The Telegraph & News.com.au (The Sunday Telegraph)


KohnstammAn interesting article from the New Zealand Herald published a week ago with some more quotes from Kohnstamm:

“They [Lonely Planet] know the book is coming out,” he says. “I’ve been contacted by a number of other Lonely Planet writers and everyone who has bothered to be in contact said, ‘Good on you, it’s a story that needed to be told.’

“But the book is fundamentally about my personal experience and not intended as an expose on Lonely Planet. Nor do I attempt to shoot it down. Obviously, when the book was written, it was given a full legal review.”

Kohnstamm notes in the interview that ‘Lonely Planet pays on average less than the minimum hourly wage, often does not support its writers in the field and makes demands almost impossible to meet’.