Saturday snippets: 14 December 2013

By | Category: Travel news

the only way to island-hop

Croatia continues to appeal to more and more visitors from our shores. To build on that, Air Lingus will launch two weekly flights from Dublin to Pula airport on Tuesdays and Saturdays in April.. Pula joins Dubrovnik as Aer Lingus’ second destination in Croatia. In addition – and also from April – Ryanair will fly from London Stansted to Osijek, in Eastern Croatia. Located on the River Drava, Osijek is the economic and cultural centre of the Slavonia region.

Once you are in Croatia there is an opportunity to island hop using a new service. A company called European Coastal Airlines will offer a seaplane service. They are hoping to Split – Matejuska, Split – Resnik, Hvar, Korcula, Vis and Lastovo. Rest assured passengers will not travel as in the image – even if they want to!

A Visit Britain study has identified that the top thing that appeal to Swedes about the UK would be dinner in a cosy Welsh pub. And that some suggestion is amongst the top three wishes of French visitors. Whilst I couldn’t deny that all Welsh pubs are superlative in their cuisine and customer service (otherwise I might not be allowed in one again) is this research really to be believed?

There is still time for people to put forward their nominations for the historic figures they would like to see honoured in the second year of the Commemorative Plaques Scheme for Scotland as the closing date isn’t until the last day of the year. This year’s theme is to celebrate the Year of Natural Scotland. The theme for the second year is inspired by the Year of Natural Scotland, celebrating Scotland’s outstanding natural beauty and culture. There will be a maximum of 12 plaques awarded every year and these will be decided by an independent academic panel, still to be announced. You can nominate someone by filling in an application form on Historic Scotland’s website - or by clicking here – with up to 1,000 words on two questions explaining why their chosen person is appropriate for a Commemorative Plaque.

A week today on Saturday, 21st of December, the shortest (and darkest) day of the year, the people of Brighton & Hove gather for Burning the Clocks. The winter solstice parade combines a family lantern procession with a spectacular fire and fireworks show, bringing the whole city together to celebrate. After travelling through the city in a parade, the lanterns are passed into the fire on Brighton beach as a token of the year’s end. (But there are still 10 das to go?) Finally, a dazzling fire show is set in motion, in which a massive fire sculpture is ignited, live music plays, and fireworks light up the sky. Over 2,000 people now take part in the parade and over 20,000 spectators turn out to watch.

His week saw the merger between two US airlines – American and US Airways. The new airline, the largest in the world, which will be known as American Airlines, will provide nearly 6,700 daily flights to more than 330 destinations in more than 50 countries. What will it mean for us on this side of the pond? Probably very little as BA, Virgin, Delta, United all still provide competing services into the US although pricing always seems relatively similar. What may make an impact on us will still be how successful low cost airline Norwegian will be when it begins trans-Atlantic services.

Cartagena awaits Thomson cruiseships

Further south in Latin America, Columbia has recorded 275,662 cruise passengers in the season just ended, an increase of about 15,000 over last year. Next year that figure will jump because Thomson Cruises will be regularly calling at Cartagena and so a country which doesn’t get that many British and Irish visitors will suddenly see a lot more.

Samoa Air caused worldwide interest about a year ago when it announced that a pay-be-weight system would operate. You and your luggage would be weighed and that would determine the fare. Many were outraged talking about obesity being an illness and other airlines watched. In a three-and-a half minute interview given to Radio Australia, the CEO of the airline said that the first year had worked well. Any person who was 120kgs or less would be better off on a pay-by-weight system claimed. In his next aircraft order Samoa Air planes would have 9 seats instead of 14 which shows how much impact this system could have if it spread to other airlines. To lose 35% of seating must indicate that a price rise of about the same would be needed in order to keep revenues at the same level. But the airline has run into problems. Seat manufacturers have a limited range of seats on offer and there aren’t that many wide bottomed seats available. I can’t imagine that would be a problem though if any sizable airline turned to a supplier and said make wider seats.

In the Republic, Irish Rail has reduced the number of carriages making up inter-city trains as a cost-saving measure. Result –overcrowding. Now the Rail Safety Commission is examining the problem. Over-crowded trains won’t appeal much to visitors either. Apparently the complaints have led to some additional carriages being added to trains. Oh that we travellers could exercise that sort of power on this side of the Channel.

US travellers don’t have the same favourite spots that we do so hearing the latest thoughts is always interesting. In an annual survey of travel forecasts and trends for the United States Tour Operators Association (USTOA), participating members named Myanmar (for the second year in a row), Vietnam and Cambodia (tied for second,) and India the top three “off-the-beaten-path” or emerging destinations that will gain popularity in 2014. At the same time, members reported Italy, the United Kingdom/Britain and China and Peru (tied for third) as the most popular destinations for their clients in 2014.

The Government announced in the House of Lords that there were no plans to require UK based airlines to monitor air quality in aircraft cabins. Being in an enclosed space that doesn’t allow passengers to leave might make you think that air quality was monitored already, just a s a matter of good practice. Obviously not!

Hillsborough Castle © Visit Belfast

Royal tourism alone is estimated to be worth £500 million a year to the United Kingdom said Baroness Randerson in the House of Lords. She mentioned this at the same time as saying that Hillsborough Castle will be transferred to the Historic Royal Palaces trust. It is already open to the public so what will this announcement mean? Just that someone else cares for it?

The government confirmed this week that airline passegers could take liquids over 100ml in hand luggage through UK passenger screening points if the items have been purchased airside at an EU airport or if the items have been purchased on an EU registered airline or the items have been purchased at an airport in a third country which has been verified by the European Commission as having appropriate security arrangements in place which are all international airports in Canada and the USA, Kuala Lumpur airport in Malaysia and Changi airport in Singapore. But the liquids and the receipt must be presented inside the sealed security bag provided at the time of purchase.
From 31 January 2014 passengers will be permitted to carry duty free liquids over 100ml in sealed security bags from any airport or airline in the world.
The items will be screened using dedicated liquid explosive detection systems.

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