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NEWS AND BRIEFS

Nine European Nations to Accept Common Visa

August 01, 1993|KIM UPTON

Nine European Community countries will begin accepting a common visa from travelers from 120 countries Dec. 1, allowing those travelers to cross the borders between EC countries without immigration formalities. Although Americans do not need visas to enter any of the European countries in question, it will mean that they will have to show their passports only once, when reaching their first European country, but not when traveling among them. The participating countries are Belgium, France, Germany, Greece, Spain, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Portugal and Italy--with the exception of the airports in Rome and Milan, which will still require a show of passports until additional security steps have been taken. Great Britain, Denmark and Ireland will not institute the program of unmonitored travel between them and other EC countries until possibly 1997, when the EC is scheduled to introduce its unified economic, monetary and defense policies.

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Travel Quiz: What city, once the capital of Imperial Russia, is the easternmost port on the Gulf of Finland?

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Kenya Beefs Up Security for Tourists: Kenya, its tourist trade hurt by banditry and rubbish in game parks, is counterattacking by cleaning up trash, beefing up security forces and wooing big spenders. (Income from tourism, Kenya's main source of hard currency, dropped to $295 million in 1992 from $400 million in 1991, according to government figures.) The troubles began in 1988 when a British tourist was murdered under still-unexplained circumstances in Masai Mara game park, 120 miles south of Nairobi. German, American and British tourists were persistently attacked in game parks between May and November of last year, Kenyan officials said, and a Kenyan driver was shot and injured when bandits attacked Dutch tourists near the Masai Mara last month. In an effort to reassure tourists, the government has stepped up recruitment and training of rangers. "We are cleaning up the mess. The park circuit tracks are overused, the animals scared or too exposed to people. Sometimes it is not fun seeing them," said tourism ministry official John Mulu, who added that the government is trying to arrange visits to other areas while repairs are done at famous parks such as the Masai Mara. *

Buses Deem Mexico City-Acapulco Tollway Too Pricey: Major bus companies serving the busy Mexico City-Acapulco route are refusing to use a newly opened highway because of the $146-per-bus one-way toll, according to the English Language newspaper Mexico City News. It quoted bus operators as saying that the buses will continue to use the winding, two-lane road the superhighway was designed to replace while operators negotiate for a lower toll. The one-way tolls for a passenger car on the new route are about $77, while the cheapest one-way air fare between Acapulco and Mexico City is about $55. The highway is one of several built by private contractors who are permitted to collect the tolls for a specified time to recover their investment.

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Quick Fact: When Las Vegas' 5,000-room MGM Grand Hotel, Casino & Theme Park opens in February it will have 18,000 doors, 93 elevators and three 6,000 square-foot suites.

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Ocean Pollution Solution? Cruise ship passengers can help fight increasing ocean pollution by reporting any garbage dumping they witness to the National Response Center (800) 424-8802. The prize could be a share of any fine levied against the cruise ship, as was the case with the Michigan couple who videotaped the dumping of plastic bags from a Princess Cruises ship and last month were awarded $250,000 by a federal court in Miami. Although ocean pollution has been increasing due to the massive growth in cruise traffic and the dumping of plastics, it's actually illegal to dump plastics into any ocean or U.S. water, according to a Coast Guard spokesman. However, some garbage may be dumped: packing materials that don't float, if the ship is at least 25 miles from land; food, paper, rags, glass and metal, 12 miles; pulverized materials, 3 miles. Cruise passengers who witness illegal dumping are being asked by the Coast Guard to notify either the National Response Center or their local Coast Guard, supplying evidence such as photos or videos, and specifics on time, location, what's being dumped and whether it occurred near land.

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Easter Island Statues: Chile and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) recently signed an agreement to raise money to preserve the legendary stone statues of Easter Island. The project has already raised $2 million, and Japan has expressed interest in helping with funds for the preservation of the stones, as well as shoring up the environment of the island, which is 2,500 miles off the Chilean coast in the Pacific. The 1,000 or so statues, some as high as 29 feet, are believed to have been built by different clans on the island as symbols of their power. But they are eroding and it is feared they could be lost forever.

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