Tokyo’s Most Iconic Sushi Restaurants

It may well rank as Japan’s most prolific and omnipresent export, over the likes of Toyota automobiles, Sony gadgets, Uniqlo casual wear, manga, anime and Godzilla. Give it up for sushi.

Like Japan’s post-war economic miracle, when the country, to the world’s surprise, suddenly became a global player in the automotive and electronics sectors, sushi’s culinary dissemination has come fast.

Think about it. Go back three decades. Outside of some very select metropolitan centres, just how prevalent was sushi? Truth is, as a viable dinner option, sushi was in a diminutive niche and practically non-existant in the likes of Adelaide and Albuquerque.

Some thirty years on, sushi and, indeed, Japanese cuisine’s hegemony is secure and almost taken for granted. The Melbournes and Montreals of the world have not one type of Japanese restaurant now, but several, with standard sushi and sashimi almost humdrum in the face of soba, izakaya, okonomiyaki, tonkatsu, shabu-shabu, udon, and yakitori joints.

Sushi, however, is still regent but, admittedly, more controversial than ever. As diners become more savvy and “Ocean Wise”, as it were, to reckless practices that damage marine ecosystems, some restaurants and chefs have had to give sushi menus a rethink.

And yet, Japan’s (and the world’s) appetite for bluefin toro and unagi rages on. And trips to Tokyo without a cursory nibble at one of the city’s bellwether sushi purveyors feel woefully inadequate.

The key is to make a rational decision about where to eat genuine, authentic sushi in Japan’s capital. Happily, we have done the research for you. No need to wander from of your Narita accommodation with question marks and an empty stomach. Just make a reservation in advance and, preferably, at one of these iconic (and costly) sushi restaurants in Tokyo.

Tsukiji Fish Market

[Image credit travel.nationalgeographic.com]

Tsukiji Fish Market

Tokyo’s venerable fish market, the largest in the world, is best at dawn, as mongers and buyers conduct an age-old auction ritual to see who gets to take home prize tunas. The market contains several small, very busy sushi counters, where the fish is duly fresh.

Sushi Takumi Okabe

The man with the knives at Sushi Takumi Okabe was the mentor of Masa Takayama, whose eponymous Manhattan sushi shop is a consistent Michelin three star and, arguably, the most expensive restaurant in North America.

Sushi Mizutani

Juno Ginza Seiwa bldg 9F, 8-7-7 Ginza, Chuo, Tokyo

There is an ascetic quality to the most celebrated sushi restaurants in Tokyo, with Mizutani a poster child. The Michelin three star chef was a protégé of Sukiyabashi Jiro. Expectations are thus impossibly high, and invariably met.

Sushi Mizutani Ginza

[Image credit: tokyofooddiary.com]

Araki

5-14-14 Ginza, Chuo, Tokyo

Ginza’s best sushi restaurants know better than to make any concessions when it comes to ingredients or technique. Araki’s prices reflect that stringent mindset but this is why the restaurant is a bucket list constant.

Sushi Saito

Nihon Jitensha Kaikan 1F, 1-9-15 Akasaka, Minato, Tokyo

Jean-Luc Naret, the tough-as-nails director of the Michelin Red Guide, once famously proclaimed that he wanted to make Sushi Saito his own. The restaurant is a favourite with diplomats at the nearby American Embassy.

Sukiyabashi Jiro Honten

[Image credit alifewortheating.com]

Sukiyabashi Jiro Honten

Tsukamoto Building B1F, 4-2-15 Ginza, Chuo, Tokyo

The most famous sushi chef in the world has a trove of honours, was the subject of a popular documentary and is in the Guinness World Records. Born in 1925, the star of Jiro Dreams of Sushi is the oldest Michelin star chef ever and, incredibly, is still at it from behind the counter of his modest restaurant below the streets of Ginza.

Jasmine’s recent Japan tour has taken her to many top sights and locations around the country. She has experienced so of the best Japanese food, amongst other things, and hopes to share it with readers.
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Making the Most Out of Your Vacation

When people plan for a vacation, going to popular tourist spots, eating at famous restaurants and participating in local festivities are usually part of their itinerary. Although it is a great way to see what their chosen travel destination has to offer, there are still other activities that they can engage in if they really want to make the most out of their vacation.

If you are the adventurous type and would like to try something different for a change, engaging in an outdoor sport or activity is a great option. There are a number of outdoor sports that you can choose from such as canoeing, kayaking, climbing, windsurfing and hiking. You don’t have to worry if you haven’t tried any of them before because there is a local club or centre that you can contact. They will be able to help you choose the outdoor sport or activity that is suitable for you and provide you with all the assistance that you will need.

Hiking in South Korea

In taking part in any outdoor sport, it is important that you have all the necessary gears. If, for instance, you plan to go hiking, you need to have the necessary outdoor gear such as hiking boots, weatherproof jacket, tents, sleeping bags, gloves, compass and a sturdy backpack. You should also bring other essentials such as a first aid kit, a map, and enough food and water. You don’t have to worry about where to buy them because there retailers such as The Clymb that offers outdoor and active-lifestyle gear and accessories. Whatever type of outdoor sport or activity you choose to engage in, you are sure to find the gear that you will need. You can visit their website and browse through the various products that they offer.

So if you’re planning for your next vacation, keep in mind that there are other activities that you can engage in that will allow you to explore the many beautiful sights of the vacation destination that you have selected. You just have to be a bit more adventurous and be willing to try something new. It can be a great way to learn more about the place, the people and their culture.

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The Advantages of Hiring a Limousine

Getting from point A to point B used to be just another part of life. However, with more people on the highways and inattentive drivers on the road, travel has turned into a full-time job. Looking forward to a night out, or entertaining a client, should not include sweating through traffic, slamming on brakes, and losing one’s cool. For that special event that needs to be perfect, look to a limo provider for excellent service.

Types of Limos

Once upon a time, limousines were used by only an elite group of people. Times have changed and so has the clientele that need limos. Riding in a spacious Cadillac Escalade can be the start, and finish, to a delightful wedding celebration, sporting event, or concert. No designated drivers are needed and the luxurious interior allows the party to safely continue, while riding.

New York Limousine
[Image not Mine]

Black Friday shopping has become a tradition in kicking off the holiday season. However, by the time the stores are reached, a parking spot is found, and everyone arrives at the front door of the mall, a nap is in order. By leasing a minivan, there is no worry of parking and plenty of room for all those packages. 12 or 24-passenger coach limos are also available for sight seeing adventures and group fun.

Amenities

Limousines offer an assortment of amenities for pleasure during the ride. Wet bars, flat screen TVs, surround sound, lounge-type seating, and even restrooms can be found in many styles of limos. Pampered treatment is expected and never a disappointment when selecting an experienced limo service. Mood-enhanced lighting and 12-volt outlets are also available in many models. Providing solutions with confidence, is a trait of most professional luxury limo services.

Companies, like Carroll Transportation, possess a reputation in knowing and traveling, the New York City area. Always look for longevity and customer satisfaction when selecting a limo service for providing the best ride possible. Inquire about the background and training of drivers and what type of insurance is carried before making a decision. A quality limo service can provide an experience, that will turn into a happy memory, of the Big Apple.

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Great Wedding Places in Boca Raton

Your wedding day is probably the most important and memorable day of your life so everything has to perfect. It is advisable to hire a wedding coordinator rather than do everything on your own since this can be pretty stressful. You just have to work very closely with him/her so that you can convey whatever your preferences are accurately. The venue is important and should be chosen with utmost care.

Wedding Venues Boca Raton

[Image not Mine]

There are a lot of wedding venues in Boca Raton, a city in Palm Beach County, Florida. It’s known for its affluent social community and high income demographic. Although it has a small population, Boca Raton is actually a popular city to many people across the USA and the world because of the large number of luxury resorts and condominiums in the area. A perfect wedding venue is Lakeside Terrace. It has a beautiful view of the lake and fountain and has all the necessary amenities. Another wonderful place is the Boca Beach Club, A Waldorf Astoria Resort. The facilities and location are excellent as well as the gracious and accomodating staff.

The Embassy Suites Boca Raton is another perfect setting to exchange your vows. It has a lighted gazebo in the courtyard and a lovely ballroom with crystal chandeliers that can put up to 450 guests. Last but not the least is the Club at Boca Pointe, where you can hold either an indoor or outdoor wedding. They have the facilities to accomodate up to 350 persons. They also have newly refurbished main dining and banquet rooms. Those are the reasons why Club at Boca Pointe is said to be the leading wedding venue.

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A Taste of Spain: Your Guide to the Local Cuisine

The British are often somewhat unfairly stereotyped by other nations as having an unpalatable culinary heritage. Whilst this, as any patriotic soul will tell you, is absolute rubbish, it is undoubtedly true that it can be nice to take a gastronomic dip into the delights of other countries’ diets and to leave off on the fish and chips or haggis for a little while at least.

Britain’s cities, towns and indeed villages are dotted with Indian curry houses, Chinese buffets, Italian restaurants and even French-style cafes. Spanish cuisine, on the other hand, is found far less frequently, which is a great shame. Mention food from the Iberian Peninsula and the best reaction you might hope to get would be; “tapas?” and perhaps, with a frown of distaste; “calamari?” otherwise known as squid. That ought not to be the case, as Spanish food deserves equal recognition with its better known counterparts, especially as Britons have been enjoying Spanish hospitality for decades. The following is an introduction to the varieties of Spanish cooking for those looking to take their taste buds on a tour of the many flavours of Spain.

Espana

Espana

Seafood plays an important role in Spanish cooking, as might be expected from a country surrounded by oceans; whether this is the rolling deeps of the Atlantic Ocean or the gentler shallows of the Mediterranean. A mountainous, apparently divided country, Spain has had a turbulent past. The presence of the Moors had a deep influence on some parts of the country, which was not fully unified under Christian rulers until 1492.

Perhaps paralleling this more fragmented history and current political structure, Spain’s regions tend to be much more strongly associated with particular kinds of food than their British equivalents. Although Yorkshire Puddings and Cumberland Sausages are staples of pub food up and down the whole of the UK, in Spain local dishes are a way for a region to assert its independent historical identity.

1. Andalusian Cuisine

Andalusian Cuisine

Food from Andalusia is often fried and is dominated by the use of the olive oil that is produced locally. Fish and shellfish feature prominently, including squid, cuttlefish and crab. Adventurous diners might also consider trying ortiguillas, also known as battered sea anemones!

2. Valencian Cuisine

Valencian Cuisine

Mediterranean-based, Valencian cuisine has given the world paella and rice-inflected dishes. Another famous export is gazpacho, a cold sort of tomato soup that’s normally consumed during the scorching hot days of the Spanish summer. In truth, it’s not really possible to do justice to the diversity of Spanish cuisine with words alone. It has to be seen, smelt and above all tasted; whether in a villa in the Pyrenees mountains or alongside one of the country’s exquisite beaches, overlooking a Mediterranean sunset.

3. Catalan Cuisine

Catalan Cuisine

The region of Catalonia was bitterly opposed to the rule of General Franco and is home to the city of Barcelona. Its sense of having a separate identity to the rest of Spain was fostered thanks to the brutal oppression of fascist rule and its own language and is perhaps emphasized by the success of its football team. It is thought that at some point it may ask for a referendum to secede from Spain.

Catalonian food tends to feature Mediterranean vegetables such as Aubergine, pork (Catalonia is one of Spain’s biggest producers) and picada, which is a kind of sauce that can include a variety of different kinds of ground nuts, mixed garlic, herbs or biscuits. Both sweet and savory dishes are available in abundance.

After delving into its culinary history, it’s no wonder why Spain is such a popular destination for foodies the world over. And if you’re like me and can’t wait to try a taste of Spain, one piece of advice would be to book a Gerona airport taxi service to remove the stress of travel and allow you to tuck into some tapas pronto. So what are you waiting for? Vamos!

Guest post by HolidayTaxis.com, an airport shuttle service with a passion for Mediterranean travel. For more holiday advice and other travel ramblings follow @Holiday_Taxis on Twitter.

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Limerick Is the Best Irish City to Visit in 2014

Limerick, a city that lies on the River Shannon, is a major tourist destination mainly for its historical and architectural tourist attractions. This city is truly the best Irish city to visit next year, 2014. Why? That is the year that it takes the crown as the center of Irish culture and celebrates it City of Culture status.

Limerick

Limerick is Ireland’s very first designated City of Culture. A series of events will be taking place in the city throughout that year. Of course, aside from the series of events, here are some activities to enjoy during that trip to Limerick.

Tourist Attractions

Upon entering the city, visitors will not fail to notice the beautiful architecture that a lot of buildings in the city possess. Some of those were built during the 12th century like King John’s Castle which dates back to 1212 and St. Mary’s Cathedral which was originally built in 1168.

The city proper is known for its Georgian core as a lot of buildings are of Georgian architecture. That’s because most of the city was developed in the middle of the 18th century. A stroll along O’Connell Street will give visitors a great view of those buildings.

People’s Park is yet another tourist attraction worth going to. The park has been open to the public since 1877. With its collection of trees, the park is a piece of heaven in the middle of Limerick’s busy city center. Arthur’s Quay Park is yet another

City of Culture

Limerick’s local government supports the arts. That’s why local visual or performing artists are fully supported with educational institutions and facilities that are more than enough to enhance their talent. There are so many visual art galleries and studios in this city as well as dance and theatre companies.

One of the best Irish museums, the Hunt Museum, is one of the best museums to visit in Ireland. It features 18th century architecture and houses around 2,000 important works of art. That includes an Antrim Cross from the 9th century, a sketch by Picasso, and a sculpture that was said to be designed by Leonardo da Vinci.

Limerick Fall

Irish pubs are also famous for being performing venues for local and international talents. Aside from good old Irish beer, the usual pub grub, and being a melting pot for locals and tourists, most pubs in the city feature live entertainment during the evening as well. That’s what the Irish craic is all about.

Nature Trips and Adventures

This isn’t just known for its architecture, history, culture, and the arts. Even those that enjoy outdoor adventures can find the sort of adventure they seek in Limerick. Cratloe Woods House is also a popular tourist attraction that has been around since the medieval times. However, the house that stands was built in 1730 and is open to the public during the summer season.

Cratloe Woods which surrounds the house features a trail that runs through the woodlands. The trail itself stretches throughout the whole area. Just wear shoes that are comfortable enough for all sorts of terrain and a 3 kilometer walk. More adventurous travelers can choose to take the obstacle course within the woodlands. Even families can enjoy picnics in this area as there are picnic sites all over the place.

The Shannon Region Trails run throughout County Limerick, Clare, and other neighboring areas. Not too far from the city, there are perfect trails for walking, cycling, boating, and even horseback riding. What’s more, Ireland’s Shannon Region is perfect for surfing, scuba diving, canoeing, and other outdoor activities. So, those who seek adventure can just head to that region and choose an activity or more to enjoy.

Limerick Winter

Why 2014?

This Irish city is already worth visiting regardless of the season for everything that it has to offer. Its events and festivals are always worth looking forward to as well. Come 2014, all of that gets even better as the city celebrates its City of Culture of status.

What is there to look forward to? Here are some of the events lined up. As early as January, a series of concerts will be taking place at the University Concert Hall. Wholesome shows for the family like Aladdin and Peter Pan will be featured during that month. Sports fans of Edinburgh and Munster should not miss the Heineken Cup games which will be held at the Thormond Park Stadium that month too.

There are so many other events in store throughout the year. The city’s official site provides the list of events that will take place in the city and county from January to December 2014.

Sabrina Mable is an author and recognized authority on planning hen parties. She currently works for www.Henit.ie and specializes in creating hen party packages for fun and memorable hen parties in Ireland. She has succumbed and joined the world of social media. Follow her on Twitter.

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Jakarta – 3 Fun Family Experiences

Depending on where demographers draw the line, Jakarta has between 10 million and 28 million people.  Either way, you’ll feel the human crush that only humid South-East Asian cities seem to be able to provide.  But isn’t that part of why you travel?  To swallow a brief sensation of how others on our planet live?

Jakarta was established as a trading port in the fourth century as part of the Kingdom of Sunda and its geographical position and natural resources saw it rise in importance.  In 1619 the Dutch defeated the English and renamed the city Batavia and it became the local head office of the Dutch East India Company.  After WWII, independence was declared and it was renamed Jakarta, or as some refer to it, The Big Durian, the Indonesian equivalent of The Big Apple.

View of Jakarta from the National Monument (449 ft. tall), Jakarta

[View of Jakarta from the National Monument (449 ft. tall), Jakarta]

If you’re planning a visit, check out these…

Kota

Also known as Old Batavia, Kota is a walk down Jakarta’s memory lane.  Historical sites and sensations abound as this antique area within its walled compound tells a story of how life existed 3 – 4 hundred years ago.  Café Batavia, the old art deco Jakarta Station, Jakarta History Museum, Glodok, Toko Merah, Fatahilah Square and meandering beside the canal will take you back to the colonial era that gave birth to the modern sprawling city only a few blocks away.  It’s a wonderful history lesson on foot.  Mosey on down to Sunda Kelapa and experience this old port’s charm while photographing all the colourful pinisi (traditional two-masted sailing boats) you can handle.  You’re bound to blow up one of these shots for the mantle-piece.

Jakarta History Museum

[Jakarta History Museum (former City Hall building under the Dutch), Jakarta]

Taman Mini Indonesia Indah

A theme park dedicated to its host country, this place is where you want to go if you can’t get to the real thing.  In East Jakarta, it comprises 100 hectares designed to encapsulate all aspects of Indonesian culture and daily life.  Clothing, traditions, architecture and dance are all portrayed faithfully and there is even a lake with a manufactured representation of the main islands that comprise the archipelago.  The Buddhist temple at Borobudur has also been replicated and will leave you thirsting after a visit to this magical monk-house.

Kidzania

The fourth of the franchise, this place may plant seeds of relief or despondence in many parents.  You see, it’s a place where children get to experience some of the realities that accompany many given professions.  The local currency unit is the Kidzo and when your child runs out of these, he/she must work to earn more.  If your child is drawn to becoming a doctor, then perhaps early retirement is for you.  However, if, like my 8 year old, she is drawn to the broom closet, you could be hard at it for many years.

Kids love this place and it’s a fun family break from all the culture. So check out flights to Jakarta and join in the fun.

The Author… Sam Smith+ derives too much enjoyment from travel.  His infectious love for his chosen field has even been known to make airport security staff smile.
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What to Eat in Cebu

Cebu City, the capital of the island of the same name, is one of the most developed areas of the Philippines and frequently tops lists of the best places to visit in the region. As you would expect, hotels near Cebu City offer accommodation to suit all budgets.

Founded in the 13th Century by a native prince, Rajamuda Lumaya, from the Chola Dynasty in southern India, Cebu was home to a mixed Muslim and Hindu population until the arrival of Magellan in 1521. The explorer persuaded the Rajah and his wife to swear loyalty to Spain and in return went in to battle on their behalf against the king of neighbouring Mactan Island but was defeated and killed by natives.

Fort San Pedro, Cebu City

It may not have spread as far and wide as other Asian cuisines but Filipino food is certainly one aspect of the local culture that should not be missed. The country’s history means that many of the dishes are a unique fusion of east and west. These have evolved from their South Pacific origins, taking in Malay, Spanish, Mexican, Chinese and even American influences. Overall the cuisine is combination of sweet, sour and salty flavours without the heavy use of chili found in some other Asian cuisines.

The main meals are Agahan (breakfast), Tanghalian (lunch) and Hapunan (dinner) plus a mid-afternoon snack called Merienda. The traditional way of eating, Kamayan, is not with chopsticks but with the hands, taking a bite of the main dish and following it up with a ball of rice.

Sinangag

[Sinangag with Chicken Barbecue, Lumpia and Pancit Miki)

Sinangag

As with other Asian countries, rice is a staple and the leftovers are often stir-fried with garlic and served alongside eggs and cured meats for breakfast. If you fancy something sweeter, go for Champorado, a rice porridge made by boiling the grains with cocoa powder, milk and sugar.

Adobo

Considered the unofficial national dish, this arose as a way of preserving meats in the tropical climate. Pork or chicken is stewed in a sauce made from oil, vinegar, soy sauce, garlic, bay and peppercorns. It is either served as a stew or cooked until ‘dry’ to concentrate the flavours and preserve the meat.

Adobong Baboy with Sweet Potato

[Pork Adobo with Sweet Potato]

Arroz Caldo

The Filipino equivalent of chicken soup for the soul, this nourishing comfort food is a thick rice porridge. It is cooked with chicken, ginger and saffron and then garnished with toasted garlic, spring onions and coconut milk. It is often served with a boiled egg and is readily available from street food stalls.

Crispy Pata

This artery-hardening dish consists of a pork knuckle marinated in garlic-flavoured vinegar before being deep-fried to a golden brown. The crispy skin hides tender meat and the dish is served with soy sauce, vinegar and chili.

Lechong Baboy

[Lechong Baboy]

Lechon

This fiesta food is reserved for special occasions and feast days, which is just as well as preparation and cooking takes several hours. A whole pig (or calf in some areas) is prepared by having its stomach stuffed with lemongrass, peppercorns, spring onions, laurel leaves and star anise before being roasted on a spit over hot coals. The melting tender flesh and crispy skin is served with a sauce made from the liver.

Balut

A Filipino dish that some of you may be familiar with from reality TV shows, Balut is not for the faint-hearted or even slightly squeamish. Fertilised duck eggs are kept warm in the sun for a little over two weeks while the embryo develops before being boiled. The cooked eggs are kept in buckets of sand to preserve warmth and sold on the street. In the Philippines they are served with a broth made of chili, garlic and vinegar with salt for seasoning. The broth is drunk and then the egg peeled and eaten. Recently Balut – which means ‘wrapped’ in Filipino – have found their way onto fine dining menus cooked adobo style, made into omelettes or wrapped in pastry.

On her recent world wide travel, Jessica discovered a number of different options for food from many different places. She hopes to share her favourites to entice future travellers to these locations.
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Baclayon Church Before and After the Earthquake

Bohol has a number of very old churches, dating back to the early years of the Spanish colonization in the Philippines and one of them is Baclayon Church, it is considered to be one of the oldest churches with religious artifacts that date back to the 1500s.

On October 15th, Bohol and Cebu were strike of  7.2 magnitude quake the other day living damage to infrastructures and death, old and famed churches were the ones badly affected they collapsed and crumble to dust. This is how the Baclayon church looks like before the deadly earthquake, when we traveled to Bohol last year.

Baclayon Church

As what I have read on Yahoo PH the historic Baclayon Church is an important part of Boholano and national heritage declared in 1995 as a National Historic Treasure. This massive ancient edifice still retains its centuries old architectural design and is considered the best preserved of its kind in the region. The relics of antiquity found in the church, and museum, which date back to the early 16th century include crystal chandeliers, brightly colored window panes.

Baclayon Church

Baclayon after the October 15 earthquake. Photo from DrakeDominik on Twitter.
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Eco Travel Adventure: Tips and Information

Eco-tourism is a great way to get in some relaxing vacation time while helping preserve the environment. The locations range from repairing horse trails in the Montana wilderness to island vacations in the Galapagos to study and protect the wildlife habitat. A successful eco-vacation minimize visitors’ environmental impact by providing alternative means of travel, reducing tourist waste at the destination, educating visitors about local conservation measures and providing an enriching experience that impacts the local environment or economy in a beneficial way.

Eco Travel Korea

Here’s a little information and a few tips to make your eco-travel productive and fun.

Eco-tourism goes by many names; sustainable travel, green vacations and cultural tourism are among them. A true eco-vacation has specific goals and follows principles that are designed to leave the destination in an improved condition. The main goals of eco-travel are:

  • Supporting natural areas and wildlife
  • Minimizing environmental pollution and waste
  • Providing a visitor experience that’s safe and educational
  • Respecting the cultural integrity of the vacation area
  • Designing the landscape in a manner that reduces environmental and ecological impact
  • Using scarce or non-renewable resources responsibly
  • Maximizing opportunities to improve the local economy and environment through responsible tourism

There are many companies that specialize in eco-tourism. These companies seek out and promote tours and vacation packages that closely follow the principles of eco-tourism, ensuring that the visitor and the local environment are both richer for the experience.

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