Saturday snippets: 3rd of May 2014

By | Category: Travel news
a model of the kelpies when theywere in Edinburgh

a model of the kelpies when theywere in Edinburgh

As I wrote a few weeks ago, the huge Kelpies sculpture has opened in Falkirk. Last week there was the pyrotechnic display involving fire and music and then it properly opened to us visitors. The Kelpies, Scotland’s largest art installation, is a 300 tonne, twin 30m high horse head sculpture created by Glasgow artist Andy Scott and sits in Helix Park, Falkirk. Estimates are that 350,000 visitors will visit the area each year, bringing £1.5m of extra tourism revenue.

Jamaica is forecast to be the place to visit, at least according to the chief executive of TUI Travel, Peter Long, but that could be because the largest tour operator in the UK and Ireland is increasing the number of holidays it sells. He projects that capacity from the United Kingdom will increase by 60% in the summer and by 140% this coming winter and that growth will continue next year as well. So expect to see a push by travel agents when you visit their shops.

Jamaica

Jamaica

Locals in a town called Trout River in Newfoundland are having an influx of tourists. The reason? A dead, 25 metre long blue whale was washed up a few weeks ago. Interviewed on the Canadian Broadcasting Commission a local said that “It’s very difficult to keep people away, simply because it’s not too often that you see a blue whale.”  There is a fear though that because of a build-up of stomach gases, visitors might not only have a smell to contend with but also a possible exploding corpse! Now that’s something to tell the neighbours about instead of just showing them your holiday snaps!

Mumbles Pier in South Wales has re-opened. But only for the summer. Visitors are being allowed on to the pier for the first time in almost three years, after it was opened last Monday. The owners are allowing a limited number of people on to the pier so that they can visit the new lifeboat station at the end of the Victorian structure.  Originally the pier opened 116 years ago next week and carried the world’s first fare-paying railway passengers on 25th March 1807. In the autumn the pier will be closed again for continued restoration work so make the most of the summer.

Speaking in parliament this week, Richard Drax highlighted a problem with bus travel. More of us are using buses to see the sights. But the upsurge is being made by canny pensioners he says. Government statistics show that 30% of all bus journeys are now made using free bus passes. He says in his home county of Dorset bus operators are dealing with record numbers of pass holders enjoying “our stunning countryside and coastline.” “Up to 20 million people visit Dorset, many of them on buses,” he says. Good for them I say. He isn’t saying that they are the wrong sort of bus passenger just that the government doesn’t fully recompense bus companies for carrying them. Most pensioners won’t care as long as the buses continue and they can see the sights!

On the Llŷn Peninsula. the National Trust has opened Porth y Swnt, a “Coastal Tourism Centre of Excellence,” which is a first of its kind in Wales. Based in  Aberdaron, visitors can now visit the centre to pick up information before they visit different parts of the Llŷn. This part of North Wales has maintained many parts of traditional Welsh life, even the language has changed less here than in other Welsh speaking areas. A  two minute film has been launched which shows the panoply of visitor opportunities in the areas. You can see it by clicking here.   But should it really cost £2.00 per adult and £1.00 per child to visit it? Shouldn’t it be free to attract more visitors to explore the area?

May is National Walking Month in the UK and many groups begin their festivals. Now in its ninth year the Ironbridge Gorge Walking Festival which starts today and runs until the 11th is offering a choice of over 50 free  walks in and around the Ironbridge Gorge World Heritage Site, where the Industrial Revolution began over 300 years ago. All walks are free but pre-booking is essential; well behaved dogs on a lead are welcome on most walks but please check first. To reserve a place or request a copy of the programme contact the Information Centre by email, tic@ ironbridge.org.uk or call 01952 433 424.

a Lotus Type 16 from the Barber Museum

a Lotus Type 16 from the Barber Museum

The latest visitor figures from Ireland show yet another increase in British holidaymakers returning there. Whilst there has been an overall 7%, we are up by 11%.

It’s official: Birmingham is home to the world’s largest motorcycle museum. Birmingham, Alabama that is, not the Midlands’ city. Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum now holds that title, according to Guinness World Records. Birmingham businessman and long-time motorcycle collector George Barber, who built the park and museum, said he and his team had always believed the museum was the world’s largest. But they wanted something to back up that claim, so they sought Guinness certification. Last year, the Barber museum and park drew 270,000 visitors, including more than 3,000 museum visitors who hailed from other countries. According to the official Guinness record, the museum houses the world’s largest collection of vintage and contemporary motorcycles, with 1,398 unique exhibits and there are exhibits from more than 100 countries. The museum also has a collection of around 60 Lotus race cars.

a train on the light railway system in Los Angeles

a train on the light railway system in Los Angeles

Staying with transport, if you happen to be in Los Angeles this weekend then Union Station which has been serving the city for 75 years is celebrating its birthday. There will be live music, model train displays, exhibitors and more!  Despite our love of railways American celebrate these things much better than we do. For example we are a week away from National Train Day in the US. Do we have such a thing? No. Why not? More of us are using the train than ever before yet we only celebrate heritage lines.

An interesting debate took place in the Northern Irish Assembly this week about promoting museums.  Anna Lo asked the culture minister what could be done to stimulate visits as the number visiting national museums had dropped. The minister, Carál Ní Chuilín said her facts were wrong but Lo cited the chief executive of National Museums Northern Ireland as her source and you would thought that he should know. You sense the minister was taken aback by this and she said that she would  “be able to go back to museums and chase that up.” I am not sure what that means but the chief exec could be in for an interesting meeting with his political boss! At least it meant she didn’t really have to answer Lo’s question.

Pallab Ghosh, the Science correspondent of the BBC ran a story saying that the government has backed plans for a four-fold expansion of the UK space industry to £40bn by 2030. It is also considering developing the necessary legal framework to permit a spaceport to be set up in the UK with the thought that this might see the growth of new space tourism companies to start operating services in Britain. What rate of APD might that attract?

Luton Airport, the UK’s fifth largest, handled 9.7m passengers in 2013. An increase in capacity to 18m passengers a year has been accepted by the government and that will mean an extra 45,000 flights. Given that another 8 million passengers can be accommodated how might that affect expansion plans at Heathrow?

 

 

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