Saturday snippets: 18th October 2014

By | Category: Travel news
Helen Grant

the tourism minister who admitted APD is a barrier to tourism growth

It is not often that we get a politician admitting something that the rest of us have known for yonks. I’m not even sure Helen Grant – our tourism minister – is aware of what she said so I’ll spell it out. In answering questions on tourism this week she said “Our tourism strategy has been very successful. It has seen robust visa reform, cuts in air passenger duty…” and therefore admits that air passenger duty has been a barrier to tourism and that a drop in APD has helped.

In fact it was in parliament this week that some other interesting news came about. Stuart Andrew, MP for Pudsey, initiated a debate about Leeds-Bradford Airport where he and other MPs’ argued for rail links to the airport and spur lines to Horsforth and Harrogate.this might cost £100 million he suggested but with it should be better road connections as well. Certainly when I have used the airport the single lane roads slow things down as much as the never ending traffic. And is £100 million too much given the cost of HS2 to widen roads and get others onto rail?

Many of you will have seen the decision of Heathrow Airport to sell off Aberdeen, Glasgow and Southampton Airports so that it can concentrate on doing something with Heathrow. Gatwick has been making all the running in improving things for passengers in the south east of England. Now, maybe, Heathrow will be able to concentrate on its role. And for the other three? Freed of not really competing with rivals, will these three become champions for flyers? It seems unlikely given that Ferrovia (the former owner of BAA) and Macquarie (a bank and shareholder value seeker rather than a passenger service provider) are the new owners of the trio.

I’ve been waiting to see where the Lady Godiva story has been going. You might remember that last weekend, Godiva the chocolate manufacturer sought to stop a pub in Geneva from calling itself the Lady Godiva claiming that the pub breached the chocolate company’s intellectual copyright. I was expecting a week of cut and thrust but it has all gone very quiet. In an interview with Confectionary News, the now Turkish owned, Belgian chocolate company says the Swiss pub is using branding similar to their and that is the reason for the complaint. They do not seek to complain about anything in Coventry or connected to the thousand year old lady who really did exist in the years just before William the Conqueror arrived. As for whether she rode naked? Who knows but it makes a good tourist attraction!

There was also a debate in Parliament this week on cycling and the lack of safe cycle lanes. Around in my village the lanes and the roads are too narrow for cycles and cars. Better is promised by the government but then as Sir George Young MP pointed out, governments have been saying that for his forty plus years in Westminster. But if you are a cyclist perhaps you fancy a cycling holiday in Taiwan? The tourism bureau is offering three holidays in their ‘Taiwan on Two Wheels’ competition. Entrants will have the opportunity to win one of three cycling holidays of a lifetime to the beautiful island – simply visit the website below to answer a few questions to enter the competition by October 30. The prize will include return flight tickets for two (one winner and a companion) to Taipei and a four night stay in Taipei. . Competition winners will have the opportunity to witness Taiwan’s scenery first-hand. The Taiwan Tourism Bureau has developed an annual Cycling Festival over the last four years – the nine-day celebration showcases some of the country’s fantastic cycling opportunities. The festival is designed both to develop the sport among participants at all levels in Taiwan, and to showcase the island as one of the most beautiful backdrops for both competitive and leisure cycling in the world.  To enter the competition, click here or go to http://taiwanon2wheels.com/prize.php?lang=en

a pristine beach in Antigua undamaged by hurricanes

a pristine beach in Antigua undamaged by hurricanes

As I write this, Hurricane Gonzalo is about to hit Bermuda having moved up from the Caribbean via the Atlantic. Then just a tropical storm, Gonzalo hit the Caribbean earlier this week and thankfully little damage was done. That hasn’t stopped people from becoming nervous about travelling there.  Antigua and Barbuda‘s tourism minister, Asot Michael, stated “Antigua and Barbuda were mercifully spared loss of life or damage to the tourism infrastructure by tropical storm Gonzalo and I can happily report that our islands remain open for business. The V.C. Bird International Airport is open, flights in and out of Antigua are operating as scheduled and visitors continue to arrive to vacation at the islands’ collection of resorts.” Just the sort of place I would rather be in when the tail end of Gonzalo rains on us next week

Rouen in France will forever be connected to Joan of Arc who in 1431 was burnt at the stake.  And the light show on the cathedral which Frederic introduced us to last year. In the future it may also be known for being the only city in France to house a panorama giving a 360 degree view of the city. Opening this winter, the first display will be Rome at the time of Emperor Constantine the Great in 312 AD which will run until autumn next year. It will be followed by Amazonia in autumn 2015 and, in spring 2016, Gothic Rouen in the Middle Ages with Joan of Arc as the central theme.

halloween at York Dungeon

York Dungeon’s Trick or Treat

Halloween – that uniquely Scottish event that has taken over the world, completely subsuming the USA in its relentless charge is nearly upon us and press releases are beginning to clog the in-box. Avoiding events in both the US and Scotland for the moment, York is the sort of city that can trade on its origins and grisly events that will have occurred there.  Starting yesterday and lasting until the 2nd of November, the York Dungeon promises a “fiendish” designed for younger members of the family. The mischievous Master of Tricks promises to regale with gripping storytelling, scary surprises and a pumpkin load of tricks and treats. Armed with his giant Wheel of Misfortune, be prepared for deception and bamboozlement, dares by the dozen and the occasional forfeit too. If that’s not enough, you can leave the kids at home and experience some serious after hours scary fun at the Dungeon on Friday 31st October.

Talking of Halloween, the National Space Centre just off the ring road around Leicester is the UK’s largest visitor attraction and research facility dedicated to space. It also has a halloween treat for kids which starts today called “Spooky Science.” Even spookier though is the adult offering –  a Cheese Club which is on the 15th of November. What is the relationship between space and cheese? It’s obvious. We all know the moon is made of green cheese and this must be the subtle way that the National Space Centre has of confirming the fact! There are more clues in the press release. It says, “Squisito Deli, will be hosting cheese tasting sessions and introducing visitors to international, national and regional cheeses they may not have tried.” International? You can’t get more international than cheese from the moon. It also says, “They will also be testing your taste buds with some strange flavours.” Case closed – moon cheese is the spooky thing on the menu.

If your are holidaying in Maine in early November how about stopping by at Bar Harbor on the morning of Saturday, Nov. 8?  Why? Because it is the 20th Annual Early Bird Pajama Sale. (They spell “pyjamas” as “pajamas” in the US.) It’s an excuse to lure you into the shops where discounts above the sale price will be given to anyone wearing pyjamas. The sale runs from 6 a.m. to 9 a.m. (now you know why pyjamas should be worn!) and then at 10 am there is the bed and pyjama parade down Main Street to Cottage Street where the 8th Annual Bed Races will take place. In the open competition where everyone is welcome to participate, teams of five will be racing their decorated handmade beds on wheels in two heats, competing for a $500 cash prize. The other claim to fame of Bar Harbor is that they consumer over five million lobsters a year. But this is Maine so the quality of the lobsters is good and the culinary expertise not bad either.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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