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French tourism declines amid fears of terrorism

France is facing potentially more than $1 billion in lost revenue this year because of huge declines in tourism.

Safety concerns have been one of the biggest reasons why the country has lost over $850,000 in revenue already in the first six months of 2016.

The terror attacks in Paris last November were called Europe's worst in the past decade.

Terrorist attacks in Nice and Saint-Étienne-du-Rouvray followed.

Besides violence, workers' strikes and floods are said to have played a part in international tourists' decisions to stay away.

So far in the Paris region, there has been a 46 percent decline in Japanese visitors, 35 percent fewer Russians and 27 percent fewer Italians.

American travelers seem the least affected. Their numbers have dropped by roughly 5 percent.

France might have one advantage with Americans. As those in the U.S. plan their trips, they are said to be considering more expensive destinations, which, from their perspective, could offer better protection.

According to the French government, the country is the No. 1 tourist destination in the world, and tourism is extremely important to the French economy. The sector represents roughly 9 percent of its GDP.

"It's time to realize that the tourism sector is going through an industrial disaster," the head of Paris' tourism board said.

Swimming with wild dolphins could be banned in Hawaii

One of Hawaii's most popular tourist activities may soon be illegal.

Federal regulators have proposed a ban on swimming with the state's spinner dolphins in the wild.

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Spinner dolphins are known for their high, spinning leaps and friendly demeanor, which makes them extremely popular with tourists and locals alike.

But they are nocturnal, and according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, constant contact with humans during the day is negatively affecting the animals.

"Over time, their health may be impacted. They may not nurture young as well. They may abandon their young or habitat, and they may suffer long-term population impacts," assistant regional administrator for protected resources with NOAA's National Marine Fisheries Service Ann Garrett told KGMB.

The proposed rule would ban swimmers and vessels from coming within 50 yards of a spinner dolphin in the ocean, and it would extend two nautical miles from shore.

Many animal rights activists are in favor of putting the ban into action, but some local businesses that operate dolphin tours and excursions have mixed feelings about the idea.

"Our people stay in a neutral way. We don’t chase them or hoard them or corral them in any way. We allow the dolphins to come to us," Richard Holland, president of Ocean Journeys LLC, told KHON.

Officials said if the proposal becomes a rule, it will probably go into effect sometime next year.

Read more at the Associated Press

Disney's Animal Kingdom slashing hours, shuttering after-dark attractions Sept. 5

According to Disney’s Animal Kingdom website, park hours are going to incrementally get shorter over the next few months and the after-dark attractions will move to different time slots.

Disney said the after-dark attractions will continue in the fall, despite the shortened park hours. The attraction times will be moved accordingly. 

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The park extended its hours to 11 p.m. in the spring and introduced several after-dark attractions, including The Jungle Book: Alive with Magic, Tree of Life Awakenings and the supposedly upcoming Rivers of Light.

Disney did not give a reason for shortening Animal Kingdom’s operating hours. The company recently released its third-quarter earnings which showed a 6-percent increase in revenue at its parks and resorts, despite a drop in attendance.

According to the Animal Kingdom website, starting on Sept. 6, the park will close at 9 p.m.; starting Sept. 30, it will close at 8:30 p.m.; starting Oct. 2 it will close at 7:30 p.m.; Oct. 12 it will close at 7 p.m.; and on Nov. 1 the park will close at 6 p.m.

With the exception of the week of Dec. 25-31, when the park will stay open until 8 p.m., the 6 p.m. closing time will be in place at least through the start of 2017.

Have you traveled lately? Credit card hack affects 20 hotels

If you’ve traveled within the last year, you could have stayed at several hotels that were targeted by hackers.

An undisclosed number of people who used credit cards at 20 Hyatt, Sheraton, Marriott, Westin and other hotels in 10 states and the District of Columbia may have had their cards compromised after the hotel payment systems were hacked.

HEI Hotels & Resorts, which operates just under 60 hotels and resorts under a variety of brands, said that after being notified by its credit card processor of a potential breach, it conducted an internal investigation that found malware on its payment processing systems at the 20 hotels.

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The malware was designed to capture debit and credit card information such as names, card account numbers, card expiration dates and verification codes, according to a release.

The hack potentially affected cards used at point of sale terminals, such as those at the hotels’ restaurants and stores, between December 2015 and June 2016. Systems at a few of the affected locations were found to have been infected with the malware as early as March 2015.

Retailers and other companies that deal with large numbers of credit cards have become popular targets for hackers looking to make a quick buck by collecting and selling the information on the internet in bulk.

Among the hotel chains, Hilton Worldwide, Trump Hotel Collection and Starwood Hotels & Resorts have all confirmed POS system breaches within the past year or so.

The impacted HEI Hotels & Resorts included locations in Florida, Texas, Vermont, Illinois, Virginia, California, Tennessee, Colorado, the District of Columbia and Minnesota.

Customers who notice anything out of place should contact their card issuer.

Airline passengers will pay more to avoid 'middle seat'

You may know the feeling: You're traveling alone, squeezed into a row between two strangers.

With record capacity and more full flights, airlines are packing in passengers, and that means that if you're flying by yourself, you might get stuck with the infamous "middle" seat.

"If they go to sleep and put their headphones on, then, you know, that's the awkward thing, and then having to say, 'Excuse me' to go to the bathroom is even worse. But I mean, what can you do?" LaShawn Norfus asked.

Travelers can pay more.

Southwest Airlines doesn't assign seats, but passengers can spend more on an early boarding pass and increase the chance of grabbing a different seat.

>> Read more trending stories  

As of last year, if you buy Delta's cheapest ticket, you have to wait until check-in to pick your seat. If you pay more you can lock in the seat you want ahead of time.

National reports claim that American and United might go in the same direction.

"That's where the market's coming to, and expect that to continue," airline expert Michael Lowery said.

He said that if passengers don't want to pay more, they should research the planes for the flight they want and see which one's floor plan has fewer middle seats.

"It's on the website,” Lowery said. “It'll give you what plane it is and you can just look at it. Or you can do their search feature for a date, (and) it will tell you what type of plane it is."

Of course, if that sounds like too much work, there's always begging and bribing the person next to you to switch.

At least one airline hopes the middle seat issue helps its business.

Frontier recently changed its seats. It had room to add a fraction of an inch to each seat, but decided to give all the extra room to the middle ones.

"Instead of giving each seat an extra third of an inch, we can go ahead and give that middle seat a full extra inch and make one of the least popular seats on the plane not as bad," Frontier spokesman Richard Oliver III said.

The seats are now 19 inches wide instead of 18.

TSA confiscates record amount of guns in carry-ons at airports across country

Transportation Security Administration officials discovered a record-breaking 78 firearms this week in carry-on bags at U.S. airports. Of the 78 firearms discovered, 68 were loaded and 21 had a round chambered.

The previous record of 74 firearms was set in May 2016.

Four inert replica grenades were also discovered this week, along with a cane sword and a knife concealed in a bottle of pills, according to a post on the TSA blog.

>> Read more trending stories

TSA officials want to remind travelers that firearm possession laws vary by state and locality and travelers should be familiar with those laws for each point of travel prior to departure.

Security line delays are caused each time the TSA finds a dangerous item. Passengers can be given a citation or in some cases, arrested. The passenger can face a penalty as high as $11,000. The TSA offers tips on traveling safely with firearms and ammunition.

When in doubt, TSA officials recommend leaving the item at home.

Man honeymoons alone after wife loses her passport

An Indian man embarked on his honeymoon alone after his wife lost her passport two days before the couple was set to travel to Italy.

But Faizan Patel did his best to make his wife, Sana Patel, feel like she was there with him. 

He traveled with a photograph of her and took pictures with the photo on his journey.

"This is how I am traveling with my wife as of now," Faizan wrote on Twitter, tagging Sushma Swaraj, India's minister of external affairs.

Swaraj responded to Faizan on Twitter promising to help remedy the problem.

Before long, a duplicate passport was issued to Sana. 

But even with the passport, Faizan told CNN that Sana wouldn't be able to make it to the two-week honeymoon due to the painstaking process of getting a visa.

"This trip was entirely planned by her," Faizan told CNN of the Italian honeymoon.

Faizan isn't the only newlywed who has traveled on a honeymoon alone. 

Huma Mobin, a woman from Pakistan, posted photos of her husband-less honeymoon to Greece earlier this summer after her husband couldn't get a visa from the Greek embassy.

Main Street Electrical parade to go dark in Disney World

Fans of Walt Disney World's Main Street Electrical Parade might want to book a quick trip to Orlando.

The nighttime parade will end its run at the Florida theme park on Oct. 9, Disney officials announced this week.

But the parade is not coming to a permanent end.

It will have a new limited run at Disneyland in California next year. 

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The Main Street Electrical Parade debuted in 1977 in Florida, lighting up the pathways throughout the Magic Kingdom.

It was originally held in Disneyland in 1972.

It also was held at Disney California Adventure park from 2001 until 2010, when it returned to Orlando for its latest run, park officials said.

The floats are covered in half-million LED lights and are brought to life through live character performers and a soundtrack called "Baroque Hoedown."

The parade includes a 23-foot clock tower, a smoke-breathing Pete's Dragon and a 108-foot patriotic flag finale.

Characters also wear costumes adorned in lights. 

There is no word on what, if anything, will replace the parade at Walt Disney World.

It was recently announced that the "Paint the Night" parade will end its nightly run in Disney's California Adventure park on Sept. 5. It will still be shown on select nights during the holiday season, Disney officials said.

Why airlines don't have to pay passengers after computer meltdowns

Passengers should have the right to compensation after computer scheduling problems lead to canceled and significantly delayed flights, a consumer travel group said after Delta Air Lines suffered a computer crash this week.

Passengers were left to sleep on the floors of airports as Delta grounded hundreds of flights worldwide.

"Congress is going to have to change the law," said Charlie Leocha, the founder of Travelers United.

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There is no federal law requiring airlines to provide compensation to passengers for mismanaged flights. European countries have laws requiring airlines to feed passengers and pay for hotel costs for flights with significant schedule changes.

"The American flying public should not be liable and should not be punished for the failures of Delta," Leocha said.

The airline has said it's offering compensation to customers who were significantly affected by delays or cancellations. Customers experiencing a delay of more than three hours, or a cancelled flight, could receive $200 in vouchers for future travel.

Delta also said in some cases, customers were provided with hotel rooms or other accommodations.

Other travel experts have said this is not an area where Congress needs to step in.

"It's not a safety issue so Congress doesn't need to act there," said Rui Neiva, a policy analyst at the Eno Center for Transportation. "It's mostly a business issue and people will vote with their wallets if this keeps happening to an airline continuously."

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