New Jersey Bans Smoking at All Its Public Beaches

Associated Press

Holiday goers at the New Jersey shore. The state has banned smoking in parks and beaches. Fines start at $250 for a first offense and go up to $1,000 for a third offense for people smoking out of designated areas. Associated Press

Skift Take: Say good-bye to cigarette butts in the sand! Well, for the most part. The law, which bans smoking and vaping of any kind on the state’s beaches and in its parks, allows towns to designate up to 15 percent of the area as smoking zones. Perhaps this will inspire other statewide bans.

— Sean O’Neill

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Activist Investor Urges Legoland Operator Merlin to Go Private

Bloomberg

A rainbow appears in the sky near the London Eye, operated by Merlin Entertainments. An investor wants the company to go private. Bloomberg

Skift Take: It’s difficult to see ValueAct capital getting its way unless 30 percent shareholder and Danish billionaire Kjeld Kirk Kristiansen backs the plan. Needless to say Merlin’s board still believes it is on the right track.

— Patrick Whyte

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Saudi Arabia Aims to Make Red Sea Beaches a Tourism Hotspot

Vivian Nereim  / Bloomberg

American tourist Birgit Mitchell visiting Mada’in Saleh, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, in Saudi Arabia, with her guide Yasser Al Imam. on Tuesday, Jan. 31, 2017. Saudi Arabia wants to turn hundreds of kilometers of its Red Sea coastline and nearby mountains and deserts into a global tourism destination Vivian Nereim / Bloomberg

Skift Take: The long-discussed first phase of the Red Sea project, with 14 hotels and an airport, is due in 2022. We’ll believe it’s not a mirage when we see it.

— Sean O’Neill

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Wow Air’s Shutdown Prompts Recession Fears in Iceland

Ragnhildur Sigurdardottir  / Bloomberg

Security doors stand illuminated at night at the entrance to Iceland’s central bank in capital city Reykjavik in this 2012 photo. Ragnhildur Sigurdardottir / Bloomberg

Skift Take: Iceland’s tourism growth had seemed unstoppable. But as Skift has said for years, every geopolitical upheaval today can be traced back to the travel sector in some way. Policy planners need to adequately account for it.

— Sean O’Neill

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