Photo grab bag: Waterford, NY

William M. Dowd photos

The pleasure boat "Bandwagon" emerges from under the Union Bridge on New York's Hudson River. In the background is Waterford, the oldest incorporated village in the United States.

It sits in the southeastern corner of historic Saratoga County, across the river from the city of Troy, and is located in the Town of Waterford at the junction of the Hudson and Mohawk rivers, and the junction of the Erie and Champlain canals. It is the home of the “Waterford Flight,” the highest set of lift locks in the world.

Broad Street, which runs through the center of the village, has a variety of antique shops and dining spots.

One of the monuments in Soldiers & Sailors Park

In honor of an iconic swimmer

The Village of Waterford
Waterford Tugboat Roundup
Champlain Canal Tours
Erie Canal
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Peru's Incan ruins under seige

Andean Travel Web photo

The ruined Incan fortress of Sacsayhuaman

If you've always had a craving to visit the ancient Incan wonders of Peru, better hurry. And, if you go, please watch your step -- in every sense of the word.

While the financially depressed South American nation has only recently begun being noticed for its upscale spa and resort facilities (see stories here and here), the effects of years of unthinking tourism have begun to be spotted as well.

The ruins of the famous Incan fortress of Sacsayhuaman, for example, have been defaced with a large accumulation of modern graffiti, much of it with indelible-ink pens.

"Its sad that these things happen," Park Director Washington Camacho told the newspaper El Comercio. "Our security covers 80% of the park and we're getting better at it, but there is also a lack of respect" from visitors.

The ruins are located on a hilltop above Cuzco, the ancient Incan capital. Archaologists say the fortress was built in the 1100s by the Killke culture and later enlarged during the Inca empire, which flourished from the 1400s until the arrival of Spanish conquistadors in the 1500s.

Cuzco is the center of Peruvian tourism today, a starting point for tours and individual visitors to begin their treks through the Andes mountains to the famous Machu Picchu jungle ruins.

David Sheppard, of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), told the Reuters news agency, "Machu Picchu faces a lot of ... challenges relating to tourism, uncontrolled growth of urban settlements, landslides, fires, etc."

He said the IUCN wants Machu Picchu, built in the 15th Century, to be added to a list of about 30 endangered sites worldwide among a total of 851 properties overseen by the United Natrions Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). A danger listing can help mobilize donors but can be seen as criticism of current protection policies, Reuters noted.

"We haven't heard from Peru," he said. "We're not trying to blow a whistle. We're trying to identify the practical responses."

He cited an alleged lack of sufficient control over the number of visitor as well as building expansion of the town of Aguas Calientes in the valley below the Inca site among major threats.

"There needs to be a much tighter tourism management plan," Sheppard said. "Some of the urban planning needs to be much more tightly controlled."

Scattered citizen protests have popped up around Peru, opposing two new tourism laws that would ease restrictions on construction -- mostly hotels -- near archeological sites and historic zones.

The Congress responded in February by modifying the laws to allow regional and local governments more power in determining private development around cultural treasures, including Machu Picchu.
• Sacsayhuaman
Machu Picchu
Andean Travel Web
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Ecuador drops visa requirement

Ecuador has discontinued the need for foreign vsiitors to have a travel visa to enter its mainland and the Galapagos Islands.

President Rafael Correa ordered the change in an effort to promote tourism in the South American nation. Until now, citizens of 130 different nations, including the U.S., were required to have visas in addition to passports.

A statement from the Ecuadorian Foreign Ministry said the order will allow foreigners to stay in the country up to 90 days.

The change makes travel to the nation of 13.1 million people even simpler for American citizens since Ecuador several years ago began using the U.S. dollar as its official currency.
Ecuador.com -- The Official Gateway
Galapagos islands
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Air travel baggage, surcharge woes grow

If you purchased a ticket on Delta Air Lines prior to April 9 but didn't fly until May 4 or after, you may be in line for a refund.

Delta is offering rebates on its $25 second-checked-bag fee to customers in such circumstances.

Said spokesman Kent Landers, the carrier "heard from enough customers that we decided this was the right thing to do. Since it was a new fee, we want to give people the benefit of the doubt."

Most airlines instituting the same policy gave a specific date in advance for when the fee would be applied. Delta, however, implemented it on April 9, the day it was announced.

However, that's merely a one-time quick fix for one group. Other Delta news is not very positive for consumers. The airline is adding a "fuel surcharge" for frequent-flier tickets -- $25 to redeem award tickets for U.S. and Canada travel, and $50 for international flights. That goes into effect Aug. 15.

Meanwhile, US Airways is ending curbside service at 34 airports and imposing a $15 fee for the first checked bag. And it, too, will add a processing fee in August on frequent-flier tickets -- $25 in the U.S. and Canada, $35 in Mexico and the Caribbean, and $50 for Hawaii and international destinations.

American Airlines already charges a $5 processing fee for award tickets handled in person, $20 if handled by phone. It earlier had imposed a $15 charge for the first checked bag.
Delta Air Lines
US Airways
American Airlines
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Algeria to police tourist beaches

Ever mindful of the impact of tourism on any nation's economy, the government of Algeria has announced plans to establish a 1,000-man police unit to protect tourist beaches and road safety.

Algerian Public Security Chief Commander Muhammad Hamiti was quoted in local media as saying the plan is to secure important security hubs and tourist destinations.

There have been no incidents on the North Africa nation's beaches, but there are fears about the threat posed by armed Islamist groups which oppose women wearing bathing suits in public.

Neighboring Morocco and Tunisia, which like Algeria have extensive Mediterranean coastlines, historically had the lion's share of Western tourism. However, a sharp decline in Islamist-group violence in recent years in Algeria has allowed the country to begin concentrating on the tourism industry.
CIA World Factbook: Algeria
• Arab Net: Algeria
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