The Monocle Minute

Today’s top stories, opinion and opportunities
Tuesday 5 April 2016

Image: Prashant Ram

Sunny outlook?

It’s no secret that Turkey and Ukraine’s respective rumbles with Russia are bringing the two Black Sea nations closer than ever. Amid talk of bolstered trade ties, Turkey is hoping that Ukraine could plug the gap in its troubled tourism industry this summer, with the goal to attract a million Ukrainians to its shores. (Turkish Airlines just added a route to Ivano-Frankivsk, its seventh Ukraine destination.) Tourism has struggled to rebound after Russia ceased all charter flights to Turkey at the start of the year. Though some flights have resumed, the latest figures indicate a 40 per cent drop in reservations in Antalya, the resort-filled gateway to the Turkish Riviera and once a gathering point for Russian sunseekers.

Image: Natsuki Sakai/Aflo

All aboard

Not everyone in Japan gets around by plane and bullet train. Plenty of people use the bus: more than four billion passengers per year, according to the latest figures – an increasing number of them for long-distance trips. Tokyo had no depot big enough to handle this surge until now. Yesterday a new terminal for express and long-haul buses opened at Tokyo’s Shinjuku Station, the country’s busiest railway hub. The ¥70bn (€550mn) four-storey building gives 118 bus operators a central location for arrivals and departures; there’s also a taxi stand and tourist information desk. During the peak summer holidays 1,600 buses are expected to come and go daily, connecting Tokyo to 39 of the country’s 47 prefectures. It’s a much-needed infrastructure upgrade as Japan looks to cash in on the sharp increase of tourists coming from abroad.

Image: Matt Roberts/Getty Images

Safe bet?

In Monocle’s March issue we explored iconic Australian brands, noting that designers must tread carefully when using native wildlife and indigenous heritage as they represent the colourful nation. The newly revealed mascot for the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games brings both elements – in spades. Borobi is a blue surfing koala named after the indigenous word for the sluggish marsupial. Though international games require universally appealing mascots, the Gold Coast is brimming with entrepreneurial confidence (and already known for colourful culture) so a daring design approach to sell its largest-ever event wouldn’t have hurt. Kevin Finn, the designer behind SBS television network’s logo, among others, says the city should have thought beyond the safe option. “I think they have missed an opportunity to represent the current attitude and ambitions of the Gold Coast.”

Image: Thomas Kokta

Keen on quinoa

Feeling a certain amount of guilt about your eating habits? If it’s specifically related to a love of quinoa – and the impact on the farmers who grow it – there’s no need. The grain, which is grown and harvested in Bolivia and Peru, has been a trendy staple of health food diets for more than a decade. But as it grew in popularity in Europe and the US, and as a consequence tripled in price, reports emerged that the rising cost was having a negative impact on the Andean farmers who grew it but could supposedly no longer afford to eat it. Yet a new working report from researchers at Towson University, Maryland, has found that quinoa’s popularity hasn’t hurt Peruvian farmers. In fact, the grain’s boom has coincided with a rise in living standards across the country, particularly in the homes of farmers.

From Monocle 24

The culture of music magazines

The music press, like the music industry, was eaten alive by the internet where sites such as Pitchfork did what print publications did before them, reviewed things. But can those sites shape culture like ‘Rolling Stone’ and the ‘NME’ once did? Does paper mean permanence and power in the mind of the reader? Magazine editors Liv Siddall and Mark Ellen mull over the brand new monthly publication ‘Rough Trade Magazine’ and discuss how physical music magazines can trump those online.

From Monocle Films

The importance of place

To highlight the importance of provenance, Monocle Films travels to Wales, Lisbon and Beirut to discover three inspiring role models for cities wanting to make the most of their heritage and create jobs.

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