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News Roundup: WhatsApp Reigns Supreme, Lunar New Year Travel and More

Record annual travel in China, a billion monthly users for a messaging app, and 145 countries ranked on gender equality. This week in travel news has been about the numbers.

Lunar New Year travel packs Guangzhou Railway Station

Tens of thousands of passengers were stranded Tuesday and Wednesday after snow delayed trains to and from Guangzhou Station in southern China. Passengers were traveling for Lunar New Year celebrations. CNN reports that 8 additional high-speed trains will be deployed to cope with the high volume of traffic.

The Ministry of Transport estimates a record total of 2.9 billion total trips will be taken during this year’s 15-day long celebration, making this the largest annual migration in the world.

World Economic Forum releases annual Global Gender Gap Report

Important news for those interested in responsible and humane tourism. The World Economic Forum released their yearly rankings of gender (in)equality by nation, the Global Gender Gap Report. Nordic countries topped the list this year with Iceland in the number one spot followed by Norway, Finland and Sweden. New Zealand, Rwanda, Philippines and Slovenia reached the top 10 along with Switzerland and Ireland. The U.S. placed 28th.

No nation on Earth achieved a score of 1, signifying true equality. Iceland scored a 0.881, for example. Yemen, ranked last of the 145 countries included in the rankings, scored a 0.484.

Uber strikes in NYC

Uber employee dissatisfaction and unrest continues this week. Skift reports that Uber drivers in NYC are set to protest fare cuts enacted in January. Uber cut rates between 10% and 45% in 100 North American cities, making it tougher to earn a living wage driving for the company.

Survey says

Things are looking up for the average airline customer. Frommer’s reports that the results of a massive survey show that average global airfares dropped by 8% from 2014 to 2015. Intra-European airfares dropped a whopping 18% while North American fares are down only 5%.

The survey, conducted by the family of Expedia brands and the Airlines Reporting Corporation, also includes answers to oft-asked booking questions—like when is the best day to book (it’s either Saturday or Sunday), and how far in advance. The latter depends on both point of origin and destination. Domestic flights in North America are best booked 57 days in advance while those from North America to Europe are the cheapest 176 days out. You can view the full data set here.

North Korea plans rocket launch, flights diverted

CNN reports that North Korea plans to execute a rocket launch to send a satellite into space sometime between February 8 and 25. Many in the international community believe this to be a front for ballistic missile testing.

In response, Japan Airlines and All Nippon Airways announced precautionary changes to seven flight paths between Japan and Southeast Asian capital cities—stretching flight times from Japan to the Philippines, Malaysia and Indonesia by five to ten minutes. South Korea also announced it would be rerouting some 41 flights between those dates.

WhatsApp users outnumber Facebook Messenger’s

BBC News reports that international mobile and messaging service WhatsApp reached a monthly user total of one billion. Facebook bought the mobile app in 2014; its total monthly users outnumber those of Facebook’s own messaging app by about 200 million. Maybe the U.S. is starting to catch on.

Zika spread continues

The first documented case of sexual transmission of the Zika virus was reported in the United States on February 3, 2016. The patient had not traveled to an infected region, but their partner had recently returned from Venezuela.

On February 4, Spain reported the first case of a pregnant woman infected in Europe. She had recently returned from a trip to Colombia.

The New York Times reports that United, Delta, Lufthansa and Air France are allowing expectant pilots and flight attendants to change airline routes to avoid Zika affected countries as a precaution.

News Roundup: WhatsApp Reigns Supreme, Lunar New Year Travel and More via @maphappy
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