Saturday snippets: 13th December 2014

By | Category: Travel news
Will Santa bring Adrian a holiday this year?

Will Santa bring Adrian a holiday this year?

The online accommodation booking site, Hotels.com, says that buying your loved one a holiday as a present proves to be popular, with 39% having treated their nearest and dearest to a trip as a Christmas present. Really? No-one has ever bought me one nor has anybody I know received or given one. More believably, the survey says that  over half of us plan to spend Christmas away from home this year, with 37% of these citing time with their family as the main reason for travelling over this period. Nearly a third of those on the move have chosen to celebrate the occasion in a hotel, either in the UK or abroad. This is not necessarily to avoid the revelries but rather to enjoy them to the full as two-thirds of travellers opted for a hotel offering the traditional Christmas celebration.

The Greek island of Crete has recently launched the island’s latest tourist in initiative to try and persuade us to holiday there. Entitled “Crete – The Island Inside You,” the campaign features six short films that showcase several aspects that make Crete an ideal tourist destination and all the narratives were inspired by true stories of tourists who have made Crete their home away from home.  You can see them on You Tube or by clicking here.

Obviously being able to fly direct to a destination makes it more appealing to us as potential visitors so the Crete campaign is helped by the fact that British Airways will start flying to Heraklion from the 26th of April next year. In fact all of Greece must be hoping for many more of us to holiday there next year as it has announced quite an increase in flight links. British Airways will be introducing 4 new routes including that Crete link. From 1 May until 20 September 2015, British Airways will fly four times a week to Corfu from Heathrow and there will be a twice-weekly service to the island of Kos. It will also start flying to Rhodes from the 29th of April. New Monarch services will operate from early summer 2015 from Gatwick to Rhodes once a week, from Luton to Zante twice a week; from Manchester to Rhodes once a week and Birmingham to the west coast city of Preveza once a week. Finally, from early summer Jet 2 will also launch a new route from Newcastle International to Zante.

Taipei in Taiwan

Taipei in Taiwan

Taiwan has seen some of the biggest percentage growths in visitors this year so it comes as no surprise to hear that the Taiwan Tourism Bureau has welcomed the country’s nine millionth foreign visitor.  (Why am I never this lucky? I bet I am the person that is always one below or one over the magic number that tourist’s board seek.) Lo Tak Pui from Hong Kong was welcomed at the arrivals gate and showered with £10,000 worth of gifts, including a return round trip to Taiwan, as well as hotel accommodation, consumer electronics and local souvenirs. This marks the first occasion that Taiwan has had more than nine million visitors in a single year,. With December being a popular month for travel to Taiwan, the Tourism Bureau predicts the final figure for 2014 will be in the region of 9.8 million foreign visitors. The UK has seen a particularly large increase in the number of tourists to Taiwan in 2014, with January – October seeing a 15 per cent rise compared to 2013.

Qatar Airways is fast becoming an important airline for long haul passengers as it adds more and more direct flights from its hub in Doha. From the 15th of February  it will operate additional services between Doha and Manchester This will  bring the total number of flights operated per week non-stop between Manchester and Doha to 14 and 63 direct services to Doha a week from the UK  (including the recently announce d Edinburgh service) providing even more access to 145 destinations worldwide.

American Airlines will add another flight linking Los Angeles and Heathrow. From March 29th, there will be four flights per day between the two airports, two operated by American and two by American’s Atlantic joint business partner, British Airways.

A new £1 billion investment has been announced for Gatwick Airport A new North Terminal to match its recently-refurbished South Terminal will open in two phases in late 2015 and then in early 2016. It will include £36m put into a new check-in area that will have 60 self-service bag drop units and £30m will be spent on a new security area in the North.

Global airfares are set to fall through the next 12 months as global oil prices drop says IATA. I still see no sign of air fares dropping yet so maybe IATA means well into the new year. A couple of sales have begun by airlines for flights in the new year but that often happens at this time of year. But as my local garage has dropped prices from £1.31 to £1.13 a litre for unleaded petrol why hasn’t the price of air tickets dropped yet.

Jerusalem

Jerusalem

The Israel Ministry of Tourism will be offering bus service between Jerusalem and Bethlehem free of charge to tourists celebrating Christmas in Israel from noon on December 24 to noon on December 25.  The bus service will run nonstop between Mar Elias Monastery in Jerusalem and the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem with representatives from the Israel Ministry of Tourism greeting tourists at Rachel’s Crossing when entering Bethlehem with a holiday gift.   Elsewhere in Israel, in Nazareth, a festive Christmas market will take place throughout the month of December, a Christmas parade will march through the city on Christmas Eve followed by a fireworks display and Christmas Mass will be offered at the Basilica of the Annunciation. In Tel Aviv, a 50-foot-tall Christmas tree is decorated and lit in the Old Town of Jaffa.

The disruption caused by a failure in the flight data system used by air traffic controllers yesterday will affect some flights today. The problem raises a number of questions for passengers. Is compensation payable or is, this under EU rules, deemed an unforeseen problem and therefore, passengers just have to live with it? Airlines are normally held responsible and must pay but in this case there is no way that they can be blamed. They just have to sort out the mess. Secondly, given the complexity of software to operate at least 5,500 flights yesterday, why aren’t their parallel running systems or some back up as demanded of many companies operating business-reliant IT systems so that you just switch to a back-up. Patrick McLoughlin, the transport minister said, that the yesterday’s events were “unacceptable.”  Passengers and airlines agree.

 

 

 

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