Kazakhstan: ‘Very nice!’

If you can’t beat Borat, join him. After condemning Sacha Baron Cohen’s first “Borat” movie for portraying the country as backward and bigoted in 2006, Kazakhstan has now embraced the character’s catchphrase as a tourism slogan. The Kazakh Tourism board released a series of promotional spots showing travelers exploring the central Asian country’s mountains, cities and green markets while exclaiming, “Very nice!” So what’s changed now that the sequel, “Borat Subsequent Moviefilm,” was released last week? “In COVID times, when tourism spending is on hold, it was good to see the country mentioned in the media,” Kairat Sadvakassov, the deputy chairman of Kazakhstan’s tourism board, told the New York Times. “Not in the nicest way, but it’s good to be out there.” Cohen responded to the turnaround in an e-mail statement sent to the Times. “This is a comedy, and the Kazakhstan in the film has nothing to do with the real country,” he wrote.

New York Daily News

Costa Rica is open

Despite the fact that U.S. coronavirus cases are rising, Costa Rica is welcoming all American travelers as of Nov. 1. The government requires all visitors to complete a Health Pass online, provide negative test results taken within 72 hours of arrival, and buy travel insurance from one of two local agencies to cover accommodation and medical expenses if the traveler contracts the coronavirus (a 45-year-old staying two weeks will pay roughly $10 a day). Travelers with international insurance policies must provide certification from the insurer that the policy is effective in Costa Rica. The country is relying on its reputation for nature-based tourism, from the volcanic interior to the coasts, to attract visitors. Sun Country Airlines has nonstop flights from Minneapolis to the city of Liberia as of Dec. 5; Delta Air Lines’ flights on that route begin Dec. 18.

New York Times/Star Tribune

Las Vegas live shows return

It’s been a while since Las Vegas hotel marquees trumpeted live shows on the Strip. MGM Resorts is changing that. The company will start to bring back live entertainment to its properties, starting with famed magician David Copperfield. “After eight months, it’s time to bring entertainment back to the Entertainment Capital of the World,” said George Kliavkoff, MGM Resorts’ president of entertainment and sports. “While there is still a long road in our city’s recovery, the reintroduction of these shows is an important first step.” The shows returning on Nov. 6 include Copperfield, comedian Carrot Top, Brad Garrett’s Comedy Club, Fantasy, Jabbawockeez, the Australian Bee Gees and Thunder From Down Under. MGM Resorts says the shows will have limited capacity. In some cases, that’s requiring performances to be in larger theaters in order to accommodate social distancing.


Amtrak’s holiday rules

Amtrak has new COVID-19 safety protocols for the holidays. Thanksgiving travelers who plan to ride the train between Nov. 23 and Nov. 30 need to reserve a seat. Amtrak is selling a limited number of tickets to allow for social distancing onboard, so book early to get a seat on the train you want. Not sure when, or even if, you’ll be traveling? You have a little wiggle room. Amtrak won’t charge change fees on reservations made by Dec. 31. If you cancel your plans, fees are waived for reservations made by Oct. 31. Amtrak also plans to require seat reservations during the December holidays, though dates have not been released.

Los Angeles Times