THERE are still some places available on a four-day cycling tour of South China from this Saturday to November 1, which is being organised by International Cyclists of Asia. Call 2454-9191 for details. AFTER years of deliberately ignoring tourism for ideological reasons, Cuba, which before the revolution led by Fidel Castro was the most popular destination in the Caribbean, has accelerated its efforts to attract foreign visitors and their hard currency. The campaign has been so successful that Cuba's neighbours are having to devise new strategies to meet the growing Cuban challenge. MORE than a year after the ferry Estonia went down in the Baltic Sea, killing 852 people, northern European countries are moving toward adopting more stringent rules on ferry safety. Johan Franson, the head of Sweden's maritime agency, said his country would require that ferries like the Estonia be able to remain stable even if their vehicle decks take on as much as 45 centimetres of water. Currently, just a few centimetres of water sloshing around can be enough to make a ferry list irretrievably. Britain has indicated that it will follow suit, even if the tougher rules are not adopted by the International Maritime Organisation, the worldwide safety body, at a meeting next month to consider the issue. Norway has already come out in favour of tougher standards, and Finland, Denmark and Ireland are also expected to do so. THE resumption of French nuclear testing, the terrorist bombings in France this summer and poor exchange rates for certain currencies, were the main reasons for a drop in occupancy at luxury hotels in Paris in August and many cancellations last month. The average occupancy rate in luxury hotels was 51.53 per cent compared with 64.25 per cent in August 1994. A number of hotels confirmed that they had received cancellations specifically citing the nuclear tests issue, mainly from Japanese. A COMEBACK in Latin America and the Caribbean of dengue fever, a disease once thought to have been nearly eliminated, has prompted health officials to warn travellers to those areas to take some simple precautions to reduce the risks of contracting the disease. Visitors should carry insect repellent to use at the times of day that the mosquito that transmits the various forms of the disease, Aedes aegypti, is most likely to bite - the early morning and late afternoon. Outbreaks in more than a dozen countries this year led the Pan American Health Organisation to designate dengue fever an epidemic this summer, and although the disease is not ordinarily fatal, health authorities are worried about the emergence of a potentially lethal strain called dengue hemmorhagic fever. TAXI drivers in Prague have been charging tourists exorbitant prices, and often insisting on payment with insults and even punches. There have been reports of tourists being charged more than 10 times the US$20 (HK$160) that a ride from the airport to the city should cost. Sounds a bit like Hong Kong when the number three signal goes up. Copy for On The Road should be faxed to 2980-3140 or mailed to Features, GPO Box 47.