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Beijing 2008: Playing for More Than Gold

If you’re a sports fan, a news junkie, or basically not living under a rock, you’re probably aware that today marks the first day of the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games. And while I’ve never been one to catch Olympics fever (the odd assault or bribery scandal excepted, of course), I can’t help but notice how especially momentous this year’s proceedings have been.

Since 2001, when Beijing was awarded the honor of hosting the 2008 Summer Games, China has been going all out to make the Games an occasion to remember–so far with resounding success. A new stadium was constructed, the city’s subway system overhauled, and an ambitious torch relay route, one leg of which included the summit of Mt. Everest, proposed and executed.

Photo courtesy of IgoUgo member TwoIdiots.

South Carolina – Too Gay or Not Too Gay?

Niche marketing can be a tough nut to crack. How do you forge a connection with one very particular slice of the population, yet avoid alienating the rest? What happens when you push some of your product’s lesser-known, less popular virtues–especially when they seem at odds with its better-known qualities?

Such is the dilemma of South Carolina, whose Parks, Recreation and Tourism Department (SCPRT) recently participated in an Out Now ad campaign focusing on purportedly “gay” destinations, including Las Vegas, Boston, Atlanta, and Washington, D.C. The campaign featured ads with the tagline “South Carolina is so gay” posted in London tube stations–and has pulled the SCPRT into an international imbroglio.

Photo courtesy of IgoUgo member RoBoNC.

A New Angle on Big Apple Vacations

Picture this: You’re in New York snapping photos of the Empire State Building. Thinking it’d be nice to get a pic of yourself in front of this famous monument, you hand the camera to a passerby–and get back a nice shot of your feet. Then, you try holding the camera out at arm’s length, facing you–and get a blurry close-up of your nostrils instead.

Sound familiar? Sure, these silly, off-the-cuff pics can be fun, but when you get home and look at the results, they’re often a letdown. That’s why New York City Photo Shoot got started: so that instead of floundering around trying to get a halfway decent picture of yourself on your Big Apple getaway, you can just relax–and get some excellent ones.

Easter Island: The Myth and the Message

Renowned for its gargantuan statues and mysterious 18th-century population implosion, Easter Island is possibly one of the most fascinating vacation destinations in the world. Each year, tens of thousands of tourists head to this remote island–an impressive statistic, considering it’s located over 2,000 miles from the coast of Chile (its governing country), and is only about three times the size of Manhattan.

The island’s allure, though, is proportionate to its mystery, and perhaps even further amplified by its extreme remoteness. Like Stonehenge and the Lost City of Atlantis, Easter Island is a symbol of the arcane. Everyone from anthropologists and amateur history buffs to supernatural and extraterrestrial enthusiasts seems to have a different theory as to why its once-thriving people built such huge, peculiar statues (known as Moai)–and then suddenly vanished.

Photo courtesy of IgoUgo member WAE.

That’s One Small Step for Sea Turtles…

Have you ever seen a sea turtle in the wild? Me neither. Although they’ve been around for tens of millions of years, sea turtle populations have dwindled rapidly since the 1600s, making the creatures among the world’s most critically endangered species. Their Caribbean population alone has declined by over 99%.

Although many causes of the decline, such as turtle hunting and harmful fishing techniques, have been curtailed over the past 50 years, sea turtle populations still struggle to regain earlier numbers. Even if you’re a nature lover, you could be negatively impacting their numbers: As human population and tourism have augmented, so has development in turtles’ traditional nesting areas. They have increasingly fewer places to lay their eggs.

Photo courtesy of the Ritz-Carlton, Cancun.