Saturday snippets – 8th February 2014

By | Category: Travel news

REGGAE_MONTH_LOGO_with_50th_colourReggae Month began last Sunday.  Ibo Cooper, chairman of the Jamaica Reggae Industry Associationsaid that February is not usually ideal for tourism, but both the King (Bob Marley) and the Prince (Dennis Brown) of reggae were born during the month, hence the decision to make February reggae’s month. jamaica’s tourism minisiter said that Reggae Month was part of a bigger plan being spearheaded by the tourism ministry to use Jamaica’s music to drive tourism instead of relying only on the country’s natural resources – sand, sun and sea. Given the number of Caribbean people in the Uk and that fact that there is now going to be a Jimmy Hendrix museum here in Mayfair’s Brook Street in London I was a bit surprised that the Jamaicans promoted Reggae Month in Canada and the eastern seaboard of the USA but not here.

You’ll have been an unusual person if you missed all the media advertising that Ireland used last year to encourage us to visit the, It appears to have paid off however, as Tourism Ireland has announced that an extra 155,000 of us went there. In  2013, Tourism Ireland rolled out the ‘GB Path to Growth’ plan which targeted potentially new audiences including a younger, fun-loving audience looking for an exciting time in a vibrant destination, called ‘Social Energisers’; and an older audience wishing to explore new places and broaden their minds, called ‘Culturally Curious’. Altogether an estimated 8 million overseas visitors visited the island of Ireland.

Car drivers will pay an additional 10p to use the Mersey Tunnels from April, Merseytravel has announced. The  toll fee will rise to £1.70 for cash-paying motorists and £1.40 for Fast Tag users who pay by direct debit. Still, its a lot cheaper than driving across the Severn Bridge to Wales where it is now £6.40 for a car. Now that is highway robbery!

Croatia welcomed over 409,025 British holidaymakers in 2013, an impressive boost of 23 per cent compared to 2012’s figures. Irish tourists to the Adriatic hotspot were also up 31 per cent on last year’s figures. The UK and Ireland market has experienced year-on-year growth since 2010 and is now among the four primary strategic markets that Croatia will focus on in 2014. For this year the Croats are hoping a half-a million of us will go there.

crushed amber

crushed amber

Lithuania has launched the World Amber Road in conjunction with UNWTO and other Amber related countries including Russia, Latvia, Poland, Ukraine, Austria, Belarus, Hungary, Georgia and Turkey. Lithuania is where the World Amber Road begins and it will be promoting a wide range of thematic tourism products and services using “Lithuanian gold”. Amber is very important in Lithuania but you might think of it as just a soft stone but the Lithuanians even have restaurants offering drinks and meals made with amber!

Australia is obviously becoming a very attractive destination. Malaysian airlines increased, last Wednesday, the number of flights per week to Sydney to 21 and this comes on top of launching a service to Darwin last year. Last Tuesday it also started a four-times a week service to the Thai resort of Krabi and from the end of March there will be a daily service to Auckland. But Virgin Atlantic is obviously feeling the competition. Its daily flights from London’s Heathrow airport to Sydney via Hong Kong will cease on the 4th of May.

Blue Islands, the Channel Islands’ airline company, is also increasing the number of passengers that it is carrying. Om the Southampton-Guernsey route it has upgraded the service so that instead of 19 passengers per flight it can carry 66. They are also adding another Saturday service from Bristol to Jersey and an early morning jersey to Southampton service.

Aegean Airlines is introducing three flights a day from London (split between Heathrow and Gatwick) to Athens and there will also be more summer flights from both Birmingham and Manchester.

Next month bmi regional will introduce a Newcastle-Brussels service which, being the only service, might build business from short breaks, hen and stag parties as well as from business passengers!

From the end of March, Japan Air Lines will remove one of its daily London-Tokyo Narita flights and replace it will a London-Tokyo Haneda flight. The only advantage to passengers is that Haneda is closer to the middle of Tokyo than Narita is.

Luxembourg is an all, too-easily, overlooked destination with many thinking it is just a centre for EU bureaucracy. The old part of the city is well worth a visit and Just about Travel will be running a feature later in the Spring. In the meantime Luxair have announced they will operate six times a week from London City.

Yet again APD (Air Passenger Duty) was raised, his time in the House of Lords by Lord Boateng and yet again the government shows no sign of considering changing the tax probably because of the huge sums it generates. Coming up though, is a debate in the Commons on VAT as it relates to tourism. Might we see a reduction in VAT on accommodation charges like some countries have? I can’t see the government agreeing to that. After all they make too much money and who, but the tourism industry, complains.

Kazakh countryside. Appealing without the "stan?"

Kazakh countryside. Appealing without the “stan?”

In Kazakhstan, the president suggested that the name of the country had negative implications and suggested a name change to Kazak Eli reports Interfax-Kazakhstan. According to the president, this ending  “-stan” does not sound welcoming to foreigners. Objecting, one MP – Vladislav Kosarev  – said that he saw no need in renaming Kazakhstan.  “I do not see an urgent need for that. Even if Kazakhstan is associated with the countries ending in “stan,” such as Afghanistan and Pakistan, and it keeps away the tourists, I still do not see it as a strong argument to rename the country,”  Should we consider changing names like Borghastan in Ross shire, Garstang in Lancashire and Tredwstan in Powys? But what about it starting a placename? We have fourteen places called Stanford and 24 called Stanton. Then there is Stansted. Would more people use it if we changed the name to Essex Airport? Probably not.

Visitors to Alabama’s beaches in 2013 arrived in record numbers.  Economically, the Gulf Shores had an increase of 5.9% in accommodation earnings, 2013 the area’s third consecutive record year for tourism, further proving the industry’s recovery. Herb Malone, president and CEO of Gulf Shores & Orange Beach Tourism  said “To see back-to-back-to-back record years is unprecedented, especially when you consider that the first record came immediately after the 2010 Gulf oil spill. We continued the upward trend with 2012 and now 2013. So BP’s investment is paying off then!

I thought I’d just remind you, as it rains outside yet again, that last summer was the ninth warmest since records began in 1910. Doesn’t it seem such a long time ago!

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