Saturday snippets: 5th of April 2014

By | Category: Travel news
Gromits in Bristol last year

Gromits in Bristol last year

Most people think of Panama as having a canal but it does have a rich vein of tourists who travel to the country for the landscape, Las Vegas-style life and the sunshine.  Last year, visitor numbers  rose from 1.5 million in 2009 to more than 2.2 million in 2013, a 40% increase.  From Europe 169,542 tourists visited the country and this year there should be even more as yet another link the country begins. Air France and TAP already provide a direct service from Paris and Lisbon. Now Iberia will launch direct services from Madrid in June. No direct services from London or Manchester are on the horizon though.

How much money do you and I as well as other travellers contribute to the economy of the country we visit? In the case of the US, a lot. Last year international visitors spent a record-breaking $180.7 billion on U.S. travel and tourism-related goods and services, an increase of more than 9 percent compared to 2012. But they aren’t satisfied with this. The goal set by President Obama is to generate $250 billion in visitor spending annually. Last year over 70 million visited the US and we had to pay a visa charge to get there, Using our money, the US – in the guise of Brand America – now use our money to entice us to go there! I’m in the wrong game.

This week Lord Spicer asked the government if they have assessed the future of airlines to fly from Heathrow. The government replied that they had not done any assessment at all as it is a “commercial matter for airlines and airports.” This seems an odd attitude given that it is the government – not commercial interests – that will decide on any expansion at either Heathrow or other airports in the south east of England.

Opened only a year ago, nearly 200,000 visitors have made the trip to the north east seaside town to see the Redcar Beacon. From the eighty foot tall tower, visitors have a view over the whole beach, town and the area. What I liked was the comment from the leader of the local council as reported by the BBC who said that visitors had come from as far afield as Australia and

Redcar

Redcar

Abergavenny which makes it sound as though the Welsh town is almost over the other side of the world!

One growing area of tourism is the number of people who travel within our countries or from abroad to dive off our coastlines. One of the attractions of this is due to the number of wrecks off our shores be they modern or medieval.  Now a charity has been given £1.1m to research the UK’s 1,000-plus forgotten World War One shipwrecks. The Maritime Archaeology Trust said it will use the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) money to improve the knowledge of archaeologically significant sites. The information collected by the Forgotten Wrecks of the First World War project will then be put online.  It is thought the south coast alone could have 700 relatively unknown wrecks.

It is not only holidays abroad that are on the increase. Domestic holidays are attracting us in greater numbers according to Shearings Holidays. Their bookings are up by 7%. Hoseasons also say that they are seeing an increase in sales. But how well do we know the UK? From Sykes Cottages comes a survey that purports to reveal our ignorance yet again. It says that  only 35% have visited Stonehenge and only 38% have gone to see Buckingham Palace.

Caernarfon Castle from the inside

Caernarfon Castle from the inside

Only about a fifth of us have seen either Caernarfon Castle or Hadrians Wall. People were asked which of the top ten places in the UK they had visited to get these results. The concerning thing – or the marketing possibility depending on how you look at it is that 16% of those polled hadn’t visited a single one of the 10!

That may change though because Wallace and Gromit are returning with a third promotional campaign called Holidays at Home are Great. Visit England is highlighting 50 English destinations whilst Visit Scotland, Visit Wales and the Northern Irish Tourist Board are also part of the £2 million government funded campaign.

Yesterday the railway line through Dawlish in Devon that was torn asunder by the February storms re-opened. Congratulations to those at Network Rail that worked tirelessly and delivered on time especially as many said it would take months to rebuild. Holidaymakers will now be able to take the train for their Easter breaks.

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