In Travel on Thursday 10th Jan, 2019

Four must-know updates for travellers in 2019

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As expected, with a new year comes new resolutions and, for many, the number one goal for 2019 is to travel more.

However, a few things have changed in the travel world since last year and it can be tough keeping up to date. So here are some of the important changes any one planning on travelling this year should know.

New routes and cheaper tickets on Eurail

After 60 years in business, Eurail has decided to treat passengers by adding a few more benefits, according to Travel Weekly. The popular train pass has not only added three new countries to its path but also a huge price reduction on tickets as well as other special discounts.

Country-hopping around Europe just became even easier as the train will now head to a total of 40,000 destinations across 31 countries including the newest additions of Macedonia, Lithuania and Great Britain.

Those on a budget will also be happy to hear about the massive 37 per cent decrease in ticket prices as well as the introduction of senior and youth discounts.

Biometrics and polygraphs in airports 

Certain airports have installed a number of facial recognition and lie detector tests, to be rolled out in 2019. New technology in Atlanta will allow passengers to use only their face to get through security, which is said to save a total of nine minutes when boarding flights.

In Denver, a new millimetre-wave system means passengers can keep their hands at their sides rather than raising them up when being scanned. Although not a major change, it will apparently cut down waiting times when going through customs.

Any non-Europeans arriving in Hungry, Lativa or Greece should prepare to be faced with a virtual security guard that asks passengers a range of basic identity questions. The system can detect stress in a passenger and, if necessary, will call on a real security guard to assist. 

Exit tax introduced in Japan

The International Tourist Tax will also be in full effect this year which will see tourists paying a 1,000 yen (AUD$13) fee before they board their flight or cruise to exit the country. 

After being in discussion since 2017, the tax also known as the “sayonara tax”, was finally implemented to help raise money for the 2020 Olympics, which will be hosted by Tokyo. The influx of tourists into the country will see Japan generate millions of dollars from the tax alone.

Weight restrictions for donkey rides in Greece

After images of obese tourists riding donkeys on Greek islands made headlinesaround the world, the pressure was on for the Greek government to make significant changes to the popular tourist activity. New rules were put in place late last year that stated donkeys should not carry loads heavier than 100kg or one fifth of their weight. 

The new regulations also stated donkeys that were injured, ill, pregnant or otherwise unfit for work should never be used for the strenuous work.

While the progress was promising, animal rights activists said there was still plenty of work to be done to free donkeys entirely.

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