Saturday snippets: 20th December 2014

By | Category: Travel news
Stirling Castle

Stirling Castle

For those of who tire of all the Scottish singing and dancing over Christmas and the new year, don’t fly into London. For those who eagerly look forward to Scottish influences you are in for a treat. Last Monday, four new animated Visit Britain GREAT campaign images of Scotland began showing at Heathrow to attract more international visitors to Scotland. In a joint initiative combining Visit Scotland, Visit Britain and Heathrow, the adverts will be showcased across 326 digital screens in the airport’s five terminals for the next three months. The adverts tie in with VisitScotland’s ‘Meet the Scots’ campaign, featuring real Scottish people and their local travel tips. Spanning the themes of Food, Countryside and Heritage, the new adverts aim to introduce visitors to authentic Scottish ‘ambassadors’ and the experiences they represent. Ethical shellfisher Guy Grieve from the Isle of Mull stars in the food-themed advert, echoing Scotland’s Year of Food & Drink 2015, and Gaelic singer Kathleen MacInnes is pictured in the dramatic countryside around Loch Assynt, while wildlife expert Caroline Warburton appears near Glenfinnan Monument. In the Heritage-themed advert, battle re-enactor Robert Ballantyne is pictured by Stirling Castle.

skiingUsually by this time of year, I am – how to put this? – snowed under with press releases from ski resorts all telling me about the vast amount of snow they have received and how conditions are as good as they have ever been. Not this season. Most resorts are open but snow is limited to high levels. Many are unable to open all their runs and some are concerned that holidaymakers may cancel holidays due to the lack of the white stuff. Many are scanning the heavens, reading the runes and wondering whether an Indian rain dance can be adapted to encourage snow. In Scotland, snow has fallen in the last couple of weeks. If it continues, the Scottish ski industry may continue the resurgence of the last few years. Adelboden – Switzerland’s third most popular resort has had six inches of snow and opened on the 16th of Dec ember. At some overseas resorts which have guaranteed snowfall or your money back, they are wondering whether this was such a great marketing idea.

As has happened for the last few years, both British Airways and Virgin Atlantic have announced sales. Both run into January and are a method used by them to attract our business before the mainscale travel industry starts promoting its holidays after Christmas. As is the case with both airlines, the sale also includes tickets on its partner airlines so in the case of BA that includes its OneWorld partners and in Virgin’s, some Delta flights.

As the year draws to a close, the German theme park, Europa-Park, has announced that for the very first time in its history, on the 16th of December 2014, the five million visitor mark was reached. Shortly before its 40th birthday,  Europa-Park has recorded the strongest growth in its history. Above all, the new major attraction “ARTHUR – In the Minimoys Kingdom” in cooperation with star film director Luc Besson has drawn many visitors to the park in 2014. Ronny Richter from Neuffen was the lucky 5 millionth visitor and won not only a free day out but overnight accommodation and toys. Incidentally, if you are thinking of visiting, the winter season at Europa-Park extends until 11 January.

egypte3A little while ago I wrote that the Egyptian tourism minister was forecasting an announcement of significance. This may not be it but four, newly renovated halls in the Tutankhamun gallery in the Egyptian Museum in Cairo have opened which needs assistance since it was a target during the recent political upheavals of the last few years and when looting removed some of its treasures. The renovation is part of a seven-year project to refurbish the entire Egyptian Museum.

Following the success of ‘Tren Crucero’, the train that climbs through the Andes. Ferrocarriles del Ecuador recently launched the ‘Tren de la Libertad‘, a historic train route between Ibarra and Salinas that gets its name from Ecuador’s struggle for independence from Spain 200 years ago. The round trip takes 6 hours and a section of the route, from Otavalo to Ibarra, has special departures using Colonial-style carriages and traditional steam locomotives

The US state of Maine may not be the first American state that you think of which is connected with beer but the Maine Beer Trail has been a popular tourist trail for years. Next year the trail will expand to cover 60 different craft breweries suggesting that the state is becoming quite a watering hole. Most of us think of Maine as a source of wonderful seafood. Well now you can wash it down with the results of craft beer devotees. I know my capacity. To do justice to sixty different breweries would take me all of my holiday.

Our air traffic control company, NATS, has agreed to compensate airlines for last week’s flight disruption. But not us- the passengers who were inconvenienced. Talking to a parliamentary committee, the chief executive of NATS said that about 10,000 passengers were inconvenienced as about 120 flights were cancelled and another 500 flights were delayed by an average of 45 minutes.

The proposed DB train that will link the UK and Germany at some stage in the next few years.

The proposed DB train that will link the UK and Germany at some stage in the next few years.

The German National Tourist Office and Deutsche Bahn (DB) have launched a joint poster and taxi marketing campaign across London which will run with immediate effect to the end of January.  The campaign will promote ‘The London-Spezial’ – DB’s travel offer from just €59.00 one way to any German destination including travel on Intercity-Express (ICE) high-speed trains. The focus of this campaign is UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Aachen, Cologne, Brühl and the Middle Rhine region of Germany – most of which can be reached in just over 4 hours by train from London. 100 posters featuring Cologne and Aachen cathedrals, plus the Castle of Augustusburg in Brühl will be seen at 50 mainline stations in the Greater London Region and in cross-track sites in the London underground.  Taxi branding will include Cologne Cathedral and on passenger tip-seats, incorporating branding for the Middle Rhine region.

For those of you considering New Year breaks in Lithuania – or holidaying there next year – remember that as from New Year’s Day, the country will be using the euro.

Finally, as this will be my last column before Christmas, may I wish you the very best of Christmases. May it be pleasant, restful and enjoy it wherever you may be.



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