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Tanzania Sanctioning Tourist Elephant Hunts

March 22, 1992|KIM UPTON

The Tanzanian government's recent decision to partially lift its three-year ban on elephant hunting makes Tanzania the only East African country that sanctions tourists killing the animal inside national borders. A tourist can pay $25,000 to $40,000 for a government-approved elephant hunting expedition, and such safaris can provide the host country several million dollars a year in revenue, according to the World Wildlife Fund. The change in Tanzania--which will allow only tourists to kill the animals--comes despite an international moratorium on the sale of elephant products. Tanzania was one of 101 signatories to the worldwide ban on trade in elephant products, imposed in 1989 by the Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species. The ban was aimed at eliminating the ivory market, which many conservationists believe was fueling poaching that had reduced Africa's elephant population from an estimated 1.2 million to 610,000 in the last decade. However, Tanzania's minister for tourism, natural resources and environment, Abubakar Mgumia, said he believed "the hunting of a few elephants by tourists will not affect the number of elephants in the country."

Travel Quiz: Where on the globe are the fledgling democracies of Comoros and Kiribati?

Caution in the Holy Land: With Easter approaching and thousands of Christians planning pilgrimages to Jerusalem, commemorated as the site of Christ's crucifixion and resurrection, the U.S. State Department is advising Americans to avoid travel to Israel's West Bank and Gaza Strip and to contact the U.S. Consulate General in Jerusalem if they are planning travel to East Jerusalem, where many of the Passion sites are located. Continued unrest on the West Bank and Gaza Strip, East Jerusalem and the Walled City, has included stone throwing. The warning urges travelers to avoid demonstrations and protest activities and to be vigilant while using public transportation and while traveling by car in areas of Jerusalem less frequented by travelers.

Quick Fact: All-time favorite film of hotel guests, based on total number of sales on Spectravision: "Pretty Woman." Second most popular: "Home Alone."

Brownie Points: Michelin's restaurant inspectors showed their hard-to-please side this year, adding no establishments to France's elite three-star category and whittling down the two-star ranks. However, observers noted that the scarcity of promotions at the upper level may not have much impact on a dining public that is looking for bargains, rather than gastronomic experiences. A meal at one of France's three-star establishments can cost $200 per person.

The 1992 guidebook for France, released March 2, demoted 12 of the two-star chefs and added six, to trim the two-star category to 81. New to two stars this year are the Jardin des Sens at Montpellier, l'Oasis at La Napoule, the Auberge Bretonne at La Roche-Bernard and Pyramide at Vienne. In Paris, the modern Chiberta was promoted to two stars, as was Gerard Vie's latest edition of his Les Trois Marches--now located in the refurbished Trianon Palace hotel in Versailles. Among losers of two-star status were Antibes's Bonne Auberge, which was sold; Nice's Jacques Maximin; Lyon restaurants Orsi and Leon de Lyon, and the Relais Louis XIII in Paris. Most famous of the one-star losers was the Champs-Elysees' Fouquet's--more renowned as a meeting place than for haute cuisine.

Topping Out On High: Researchers at Wichita State University's National Institute for Aviation Research ranked American Airlines No. 1 in their first "Airline Quality Rating," a national ranking of the yearlong performance of nine major U.S. airlines. The researchers weighed 19 criteria--including on-time performance, customer complaints, number of accidents, financial stability and frequent flier packages--as a basis for comparing the airlines. American was followed on the list, in descending order, by Southwest, Delta, United, USAir, Northwest, Continental, America West and TWA.

Expensive Stays: Air fares to Europe are at record lows--$459 round trip from Los Angeles to London on TWA, Virgin Atlantic and Continental, for example. But can Americans find hotel rates that justify taking advantage of the bargain-basement fares? According to Runzheimer International management consultants, which monitors prices abroad, first-class room rates (Hiltons, Westins and comparable) have been averaging $281.50 per night in Paris for a double, $332.50 in London, $298.50 in Milan, $267 in Amsterdam and $244 in Brussels.

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