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Surfer watches the sunset from the Pacific coast of Nicaragua (Photo: Ammon Cogdill/iStockphoto)

When you think of North Korea, do you picture a brutal dictatorship and years of depressing history, or do you imagine sun and surf? Apparently the controversial country is trying to reposition itself as a hot new tourism destination.

The Korean International Travel Company is now selling four night surfing tours to three resorts in North Koreas—and foreigners are welcome, according to Yahoo Travel.

The tours offer stays at three resorts on North Korea's east coast, and include visits to historical landmarks in the country's capital, Pyongyang. ... read more»

Automation is a growing trend in the hospitality industry. To an increasing extent, hotels are swapping human customer service providers with machines. There are self-service check-in kiosks, app-supplied virtual key cards, and, of course, the ubiquitous online hotel-booking platforms. At certain properties, it is entirely possible to complete a stay without ever having a face-to-face interaction with a person employed by the hotel.

Now, meet Botlr the robot butler. The innovative service robot is making its (his?) debut in the high-tech hub of Silicon Valley, naturally. Look for the trashcan-shaped apparatus zooming around the hallways of Aloft Cupertino, a Starwood property. Really, though, "zooming" is slight exaggeration: Botlr travels on little wheels at a human walking pace, and gets from floor to floor by elevator. He's cute, too. Botlr is outfitted in a vinyl butler uniform with bow tie and name tag. He's just like a person! ... read more»

Miles & Points (Photo: Shutterstock)

Following is our regular summary of the latest travel news and best frequent traveler promotions reviewed during the past week.

If it was a good deal—or a notably bad deal—from an airline, hotel, or car rental loyalty program, you can read all about it here, and plan your travel accordingly. ... read more»

Photo: PhotoDisc

When airlines are profitable, who should be the primary beneficiary of those profits: the travelers, whose contributions to the companies' coffers made the profits possible; or to the airlines' shareholders, who expect a return on their investments?

According to a BusinessWeek article published this week, carriers in the U.S. enjoy the highest profits (good for their share prices) and deliver the shoddiest service (bad for flyers). The article's headline says it all: "Where Do U.S. Airline Profits Go? Away From Travelers, Toward Investors." ... read more»

Food: Poolside Cocktails (Photo: Thinkstock/iStock)

Nothing says summertime like a creamy, fruity tropical rum cocktail—preferably sipped while lounging on a sandy beach. To celebrate National Rum Month, let's raise a glass to some of our favorite rum drinks and the Caribbean countries from which they originated. Bottoms up!

Piña Colada, Puerto Rico

The origins of the piña colada are as muddled as the fresh pineapple that's blended with cream and ice to make the base of the drink. Three San Juan bartenders claim to have invented it: Ramón 'Monchito' Marrero Pérez and Ricardo García both contest that they first poured the fruity cocktail while working at the Caribe Hilton, and across town at the Barrachina Restaurant, Ramón Portas Mingot claims it as his own original concoction. Clearly, the only way to help settle this argument is to try all three, right? ... read more»

Cover: Statue of Liberty, Flag Background (Photo: Thinkstock/iStock)

Are you a real New York City expert? Take our quiz to find out if you know the ins and outs of the Big Apple or if you're just a novice tourist. (And remember, no Googling allowed!) Choose "True" or "False" for each question, and find out your status at the end! Don't forget to share your results on Facebook or Twitter with all your friends. ... read more»

UberPool App (Photo: Uber Technologies Inc.)

Would you share a ride with a complete stranger if it saved you money? That's the idea behind Uber's and Lyft's latest features…and the latest duel in their tech rivalry. In a world where we don't think twice about getting in a stranger's car, did you ever think about also getting into one with another stranger?

... read more»

Virgin America plane parked at the gate (Photo: Clark County Department of Aviation)

The votes are in, and 58 percent of Virgin America's flight attendants have raised their hands in favor of joining the Transportation Workers Union.

With the vote, Virgin America loses its distinction as the only non-union major U.S. carrier. It's a significant turnaround: The airline voted against tying up with the TWU in December 2011.

The timing is awkward for the airline, which in July filed for an IPO. Although the airline posted a full-year profit in 2013, its first, and improved financial results for the first and second quarters of 2014, the prospect of increased labor costs typically associated with collective bargaining is likely to be viewed negatively by financial analysts and investors. ... read more»

Brooklyn Bridge, New York

Fred Dixon, the new head of NYC & Company, told the London Evening Standard: "London is in the best shape I think it's ever been in. It's clean, it's safe, and very welcoming. I've never waited in line more than 30 minutes at Heathrow, even with the volume they do. The sense of arrival is something that we as Americans can learn from and strive for." ... read more»

Globe Passport Plane Ticket (Photo: Thinkstock/iStockphoto)

Planning a vacation to Paris or Nice? You're not alone. According to the Daily Mail, France was the most visited country in the world in 2013, hosting a record-breaking 84.7 million tourists.

The United States came in a distant second, with just 69.8 million travelers coming to the nation.

Surprisingly, all of the top ten countries were from just three continents—Europe, Asia, and North America. ... read more»

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