The World’s Healthiest Cities

So how do you decide what a healthy city is?  Usually, like BBC Travel, you use a few figures to find out such as the pervasiveness and ease of use of the mass transit system, access to greenery, and available healthcare.

Singapore ranks in the healthiest cities to live in.  With a low infant mortality rate, high life expectancy, and one of the best healthcare systems in the world, Singapore is certainly one of the best cities in which to live.  With strict anti-littering and even anti-spitting laws, Singapore runs a tight ship.  There are numerous gardens and parks as well as a mass transit system that carries 2 million people to and from work each day.  Singapore also has focused on being a biker-friendly city as well as promoting a good balance between work and recreation in daily activities.


Tokyo is rated the number 2 healthiest city by the Guardian in 2012.  The greenhouse emissions in Tokyo are significantly lower than in most Asian cities, and the public transportation is legendary.  In addition to the implementation of universal health insurance in 1961, strong family and communal ties keep the life expectancy very high at over 84 years old.

Perth is Australia’s and one of the world’s healthiest cities.  According to women’s health, Perth is near the best city for healthy eating, mental wellbeing, life satisfaction, and mental health.  Perth is near plenty of beautiful Indian Ocean Beaches and actively supports outdoor activity.  There are bike shelters at many of the train stations to allow people to bike to the Transperth, Perth’s wonderful public transit system.

Traveling in the New Generation

According to The Atlantic, the millennial generation, defined as people between the ages of 16 and 34, has a insatiable hunger for travel when compared with older generations.  The Boston Consulting group held a study that found millennials to be more interested in travel than other generations by almost 23%.  About 20% of all travelers, according to the United Nations, are people, which means that there are about 40 million young travelers.  Since 2007, there has been an increase in tourism revenue by almost 30%.

This generation is also changing the standards of travel.  Rather than a quick enjoyable vacation, most young travelers are leaving on longer trips trying to have more meaningful experiences.  These people are, more often than not, traveling to some remote location rather than an established tourism hub.

With the advent of travel planners and tools, young people are finding that long-term travel is cheaper than they previously expected.  Rather than saving up for an uncertain trip in an uncertain future, people are starting to jump for the chance to travel rather than wait.

A huge factor in this change of attitude towards waiting for a more prudent time to take a trip is that confidence in future stability is at a low for recent years.  In 1983, 88% of private-sector workers had benefit coverage for retirement.  Now, it is under 33%.

The companies offering pensions has fallen by 80%.  Americans are no longer confident that they will receive financial support as they age.  90% of miimgresllennials believe that Social Security benefits will be reduced when they are of the age to collect, while over 50% of those people don’t believe Social Security will exist at all.

The job market for millenials has also been especially bad.  Many who have had trouble finding jobs decide to travel in order to take a break and see what extra-local possibilities they may have.

Travel has become an outlet of fulfillment for much of today’s youth.  Rather than stick with a job they hate, or continue searching fruitlessly for one, millenials have started to take long-term trips of fulfillment.

Tunisia Tourism Expected to Rise

Tamara Hillstrom tunisia toursimMany American’s think of Tunisia as a dangerous place, but there are signs that perspectives may be shifting. There have been a number of terrorist attacks in the country, including one on the US embassy there in 2012, but the country is undergoing monumental changes to increase political stability and increase security. Will this be enough to encourage a tourism industry? Many Tunisians are banking on it.

USA Today reports that tourism is expected to rise sharply in Tunisia, an industry that has been more or less dormant since their revolution during the Arab Spring. With revolution has come social and political freedom, and that is giving citizens hope that they can overcome economic struggles. And they are officially ready to welcome travelers.

Shop owners in the old quarter of Tunis, the country’s capital, are desperate to have tourism return. Before the revolutions, the massive Mediterranean coastline was full of popular beach resorts in close proximity to ancient ruins and beautiful desert landscapes. Dougga, a northern village, is considered by UNESCO to be the closest thing to antiquity-like daily life in Northern Africa, and also a big draw for curious foreigners.

A couple months ago Tunisia received a shout-out from Condê Nast Traveler, calling them the next big travel destination. Reasons cited were the optimism and diversity. While these qualities aren’t usually cited as vacation makers, they are notable in light of other nearby Muslim countries. But don’t worry, there’s also a vibrant nightlife where non-muslims can partake in alcohol and dance until the morning.

The country’s tourism minister, Amel Karboul, has predicted they will receive seven million tourists this year, which would be a record. The hope is that Tunisia’s boast as the first democracy in the Arab world will help to attract travelers hoping to be a part of an historic event. The tourism industry in Tunisia employs over 400k people, and accounts for 7.5% of GDP.

Despite the national feeling of change and progress, Tunisia still has to battle with some harsh realities. Terrorism is still a problem there. Militant attacks continue, and they are constantly facing travel warnings issued by the western world. A suicide attack last year near a beach hotel in a tourist resort town doesn’t make for good press. Future attacks, including kidnappings, are possible, and even expected.

With continued work, though, Tunisia will most likely be grow the number of tourists, which could in itself even play a role in helping to shape the future of the country. Perhaps once the country feels the positive economic impact of tourism, unrest will decline in a more substantial way.

Travel Industry Thrives

Tamara Hillstrom travel industryOne of the first sectors to see an early comeback after the recession was the travel industry.  The global economy got a solid boost from travel.  Last year travel and associated industries accounted for nearly 10% of the global economy & workforce, which amounts to almost $7 trillion, employing well over 250m.  In a recent article from the NY Times, David Scowsill was interviewed.  Scowswill is the president and chief executive of the World Travel and Tourism Council.

Scowsill remarked that the travel industry grows over 1% faster than the world’s economy at large.  Expectations is that this year growth will be 4.3%.  A lot of this growth is in Asia.  It used to be that Europe and the US were the strongest travel industry areas, but predictions have China overtaking the US in 2027 as the world’s largest travel and tourism economy.  That’s not to say that US travel is down, just that the global balance is shifting.

This shift is a direct result of the number of people moving into the middle class in the east.  Ernst & Young recently claimed that nearly one billion people will be in the middle class in China in 2030.  On top of that, the Chinese government has made tourism a key part of their economic growth.  They have made federal investments in high-speed trains, massive hotel complexes, and large airports.  At the time of this writing, there are 69 large airports in construction in China.  The goal is to make every Chinese citizen less then 90 minutes drive from an airport.  Outbound travel from China has doubled, with 100 million people making an international excursion last year.  That figure can be expected to double again by 2020.

The countries most visited are, in order, France, the United States, China, and Spain.  France has a staggering lead, with 83 million visitors in 2012, compared to the United States with 67 million.  China and Spain each had 57 million.

One of the major inhibitors of continued growth is that nearly three fourths of travelers have to go to an embassy in order to travel internationally.  Travelers going to Europe, if they can’t get a Schengen visa that allows them to visit a selection of 25 European countries, must go to the UK consulate to pay and be interviewed for a second visa.  That’s a lot of facilitation necessary for a simple holiday jaunt.  Some countries like Mexico have very low restrictions…if you’re allowed in the US, you’re allowed in Mexico.