Saturday snippets: 1 February 2014

By | Category: Travel news
Corfu - more appealing than our winter is at the moment. Will more of us travel to Greece this year?

Corfu – more appealing than our winter is at the moment. Will more of us travel to Greece this year?

Greece’s tourism minister has said that the country expects an increase in tourist arrivals in 2014 according to early bookings. During this year the country’s main effort is to promote Greece as an all year around tourism destination. Greece is also the president of the EU commission for the next six months  and she announced that they will push to bring about an existing initiative on marine and coastal tourism with the aim to promote sustainable economic growth.

St George’s Market is one of Belfast’s oldest attractions. Built between 1890 and 1896, it has just been named the UK’ Best large Indoor Market for 2014 by the National Association of British Market Authorities. It holds a weekly Friday market (which pre-dates the exisiting buildings and can be traced as early 1604,) a food and craft market on Saturdays and a Sunday market each week.

Dundee’s V&A museum development is budgeted at £45 million, a not inconsiderable some so the authorities were probably quite relieved when the Heritage Lottery Fund announced that it is to make a £9.4m grant. That will go towards the costs of the building, including its galleries. The museum, on the city’s waterfront, is due to open in late 2016.  The Scottish government has also committed £15m to the project and Creative Scotland is currently considering a funding submission. Museum directors are also seeking a further £15m from private sources, with £6.7m having already been raised.

The capital of Hungary – Budapest – will become to get to for those living near Gatwick, Leeds-Bradford and Luton airports this year. Low cost carrier, Norwegian will start a three times a week service from London Gatwick from 30 March and Jet2 will start a twice-weekly service from Leeds Bradford from 3 April. Wizzair is also increasing flights to from Luton to Budapest, from three times a day to four, from 30 March.

The city has also launched its annual Budapest Winter Invitation campaign, which gives visitors free hotel nights, when booking two or three nights, plus free entry into a historic spa.

Budapest

Budapest

For those who are slightly older they may remember the events of Greenham Common in Berkshire in the 1980’s. Then, anti-nuclear demonstrations picketed the huge US air force base which housed cruise missiles for months Now the control tower which has been disused since the base closed in 1993 is to become a visitor attraction. Following the airbase’s closure, Greenham Common became a public open space in 2000 and is now home to a nature reserve and business park. Greenham Parish Council will buy and refurbish the as interpretive centre, cafe and viewing platform and hopes to have it open to the public by the autumn

Whithorn on Scotland’s west coast has attracted many visitors because it is forever linked with the first Scottish missionary – St Ninian. But the visitor centre closed due to lack of funds. Once again, the Heritage Lottery fund has stepped down and donated £39,000 to allow it to re-open.  This secures its short-term future and would allow it to reopen in April.

That such a small amount was required at Whithorn – at least initially – again tends to show just how little is required sometimes, compared to the millions that some venues require, to keep visitor attractions open. It certainly makes me wonder whether the vast sums of money earmarked by councils and other authorities are justified.

We all know that cruising is booming. One growing trend has been for more cruises to start from British ports. So it comes as a bit of a surprise to hear that MSC Cruises will stop sailing from our ports for a year. Why? To concentrate on what it calls  ‘Mediterranean way of life.’  The cruise line will not sail from the UK in 2015 and instead increase its fly/cruise capacity to take more UK passengers to the Med. It had based the MSC Opera in Southampton. It will be interesting to see whether the company loses any bookings as more of us to choose to start cruises from home ports.

The Portaferry, Exploris aquarium in Northern Ireland, one of the provinces top visitor attractions, had been earmarked for closure. Now a plan has been accepted by the local council to keep it open but it depends on central government funding. If confirmed – and this seems very likely -Exploris will remain open for the spring/summer 2014 peak season, closing temporarily from October 2014 for about six months to allow redevelopment work to take place.

High St, Guildford

High St, Guildford

Hard to believe given all the rain we have had and what is forecast this weekend but there is still enough snow around to ski on. There is even some in Russia’s Sochi for the winter Olympics starting next week. But in the US they have had no shortage of the white stuff. There, in the annual SKI Magazine’s readers poll, they have named Jackson Hole Mountain Resort as the top overall resort in North America .

Finally congratulations to the Guildford Tourist Information Centre after recently winning Gold for Destination of the Year from the Tourist Network. Usually regarded as a commuter town for London, the city has a number of attractions that can be overlooked unless you know where to look. An information centre will set you on the right path and Guildford’s – set in a cobbled street half-way up a hill – is the best place to start as it is also housed in the same building as the Guildford House Art Gallery, a craft shop and a Café!

 

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