Saturday snippets: 8th November 2014

By | Category: Travel news
Shakespeares Birthplace

Shakespeare’s Birthplace

I start my snippets column this week with the weather forecast. AccuWeather has launched its long range winter forecast and it isn’t the best if you plan on decamping to Spain over the winter where above average rain is forecast. For skiers, the forecaster is suggesting lots of the white stuff particularly in the Swiss and Austrian alps where the first snow storm has already occurred.  Good snow conditions are also forecast for the Pyrenees and the Balkans. Back home, the prognosis is for a cold snap in the early part of winter but fewer storms than last winter and less precipitation than last years as well. Since as I write this during yet another torrential rain storm and there is flooding nearby I am not sure I believe them!

Following the success of the inaugural lightshow in Stratford-upon-Avon last year that was projected onto the walls of Shakespeare’s Birthplace in 2013, the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, in partnership with local businesses has secured Grants for the Arts funding from Arts Council England to develop a new and contemporary lightshow this winter. Premiering on Thursday, 27th November as part of the town’s Christmas lights switch-on, the new and contemporary lightshow is being developed by digital artist, Anthony Head, who has extensive first-hand experience working with projections of historical buildings. Spectators will be treated to four shows played on rotation every evening, each showcasing a different theme lasting approximately five minutes, and will include dramatic performances by Shakespeare Aloud!, the resident acting troupe at Shakespeare’s Birthplace. There will also be an illumination in the gardens of Shakespeare’s Birthplace created by Emily Knight. Lighting the paths will be illuminated and reflective words chosen from a wide selection of Shakespeare’s works, some of which still influence our vocabulary today.

Officials in Thailand are considering capping the number of tourists to Phuket, as hoteliers claim visitor figures are reaching a tipping point. The Thai Hotels Association says numbers should be tightly controlled to match accommodation capacity and Phuket should focus on high-spending tourists. Phuket is overwhelmed with tourists  says the association with many of them arriving in tour groups and the constant expansion prompts a surge in illegal and inexpensive hotels that accommodate budget tourists, often leading to price cutting. They claim that there are 70,000 hotel and apartment rooms in Phuket, but about 60% of them were illegal and evaded paying tax. Last year over 11 million tourists visited the island, of which just over 8 million were foreign visitors.

Where would you expect to see drafts of the speech King George VI made at the outbreak of WWII? In London at the Imperial War Museum? No Boston in the US state of Massachusetts. Boston is home to the world’s most comprehensive collection of World War II memorabilia at the Museum of World War II, and a special exhibition this autumn commemorates the 75th anniversary of the war. The exhibition uniquely showcases drafts of King George VI’s speech which was delivered via live radio on 3 September 1939, announcing that Britain was at war with Germany. The importance of the speech, brought to light in recent years by the 2010 blockbuster movie The King’s Speech, was vital to the morale of the British public at a time of great uncertainty. Also on show is a telegram from the War Office (1 September 1939) warning British Forces to take precautions for the likelihood of war. This sits alongside another  significant telegram sent three days later, which instructed troops to “Commence Hostilities at once with Germany” – effectively signalling the start of the war for Britain. The exhibition is open until 29 November

Douz in the desert area of Tunisia - the market in action

Douz in the desert area of Tunisia – the market in action

UK visitor figures to Tunisia have continued to increase since the Jasmine Revolution of a few years ago and the country will start promoting the country using the slogan ‘We Are Energy.’ ‘We Are Energy’ aims to give a human face to the magnificent landscapes of Tunisia through portraits of the country’s people – the men and women of Tunisia whose energy were key factors in the country’s recent democratic transition.

As readers will know I was at World Travel Market this week and our Secretary for Culture and everything else, Sajid Khan, turned up to give a speech whereas usually it would have been the tourism minister who is a couple of ranks further down the pecking order.  The reason I haven’t mentioned it before is that he – in his first big pronouncement on tourism since becoming the minister months ago, said nothing of interest to us ordinary holidaymakers. He could have talked of VAT or APD reductions, encouraging train guards to act as tourist information givers, support for tourist destinations but only talked about attracting more business conventions and how wonderful our countries were. No wonder the Department of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) spends more on tourism than the culture ministry does when the head man says so little of interest to domestic holiday takers.

Elsewhere in government, Nick Clegg, the deputy PM, has pledged £10 million from the Regional Growth Fund to support the development of a coordinated tourism strategy to promote the North of England. Of course he is a northern MP (Sheffield) and the Yorkshire Tourist Board has a large budget but why should the north be the only recipient? How about the south west where Cornwall County Council has slashed Visit Cornwall’s budget to nothing? Does the council think tourism we will still holiday without being reminded about it? It is very short-sighted but then that’s politics for you! The budget still has to be approved later this month by the full council so they is a slender possibility of a reprieve. And there are lots of Liberal Democrat MP’s in the south west so maybe they can exert some influence on the Deputy PM to find some cash.

After the court cases last week about being able to claim back six years if your flight was delayed,’s parent company Dart Group will set aside £17 million in its current financial year to cover potential historical claims. In a statement to investors, it said the company’s Board estimates the legislation may cost the group a further £3m-£5m a year. Thomson‘s parent, TUI UK, has made no comment so far.

easyJet making it easier for us to get to Morocco

easyJet making it easier for us to get to Morocco

Staying with airlines, easyJet is set to become the only UK airline offering direct flights to Essaouira, on Morocco’s western coast, with two flights a week from London Luton Airport. Over 29,000 passengers are expected to fly throughout next year with the coastal town joining Marrakech and Agadir as holiday hotspots for customers visiting Morocco. Stuttgart becomes the airline’s eighth destination in Germany. Porto in Portugal becomes a new easyJet base with new UK flights to and from Manchester, Luton and Bristol.

Finally British Airways will re-start its service to the capital of Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur next year. Originally there was a service that started in 1933 when it took 9 days and there were 22 stops. The new service will take just under 13 hours. Given the heritage and close links, it seems surprising that BA didn’t already fly there especially as nearly 250,000 of us travelled there in the first half of the year.





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