Saturday snippets: 10th January 2015

By | Category: Travel news

photo_lg_israelIsrael saw approximately 3.3 million visitors during 2014 according to the Israeli tourism ministry. This was a 7 percent decrease from 2013. The big drop seems to have come from cruise ships deciding not to include Israeli ports in the itineraries as numbers dropped by 65%. Travellers from the US amounted to 19% of incoming visitors, followed by Russia (17%), France (9%), Germany (6%) and the UK (5%). Jerusalem, the country’s largest city, was by far the most visited place by tourists (82%), while Tel Aviv was second at 67% and the Dead Sea third at 54%. Interestingly the tourism ministry also revealed that visitors did not rate highly Israel as value for money but did rate Israel highly for personal security. Incidentally, Natasha has a story coming up next week on holidaying in Gallilee.

On the other hand, India which also released tourism figures said that their tourism had grown by 10% in 2014. The minister, Mahesh Sharma, also stated that they are planning to draw 11 million overseas tourists in 2015. Is this possible given that in 2014 there were 6.58 million overseas visitors? To make this happen the minister announced that there would be greater coordination among ministries, e-ticketing facilities, visa on arrival services for citizens of select nationalities, and theme-based travel circuits. Medical and wildlife tourism marketing would also be increased. Now that the UK is one of the forty new countries as being eligible for its passport holders to obtain visas on arrival that removes one hurdle. Now if only the cost of the visas was a bit less.

beer bourbon and BBQ festivalA nine month pork and beer festival called Beer,Bourbon & B-B-Q Festival may sound a little overwhelming but a number of US states have combined to do just that.  The travelling festival is scheduled to make stops in New York (24 January), Florida (14 February), Georgia (28 February), Maryland (13-14 March and 19-20 June), North Carolina (9 May) and Virginia (30 May and 19 September).   The Southern-inspired travelling food fair showcases how different states pay homage to pork and booze. From whole hog roasts to the Best Beer Belly Competition, travellers will have plenty of ways to enjoy the ’60 beers, 40 bourbons and lots of BBQ’d meat!

If you fancy an all-inclusive weekend for two at the Val-Thorens ski resort then you can enter a competition to win just that. The nearest airport, Lyon-Saint Exupéry Airport, is launching a snow-inspired competition via its Facebook app. Internet users are invited to get creative, sharing a photo or video to meet a different challenge every month until March! The participant with the highest number of votes in each monthly contest will win.

Visit Scotland is also running a promotion where you can win a three night stay for four people in the woodlands of Perthshire. It will be at the  Moness Resort near Aberfeldy. There is an allowance of £100 for travel expenses which, depending on where you live, may or may not cover the cost of getting to the reort. All you have to do is give contact details and answer three questions about how often you holiday in Scotland and how you research your holidays.

Not all the best travel bargains can be seen advertised on TV. At present the following airlines are running sales but you need to go to their websites (or an online travel agency) to see prices and destinations on offer. They are Aer Lingus, Air New Zealand, American Airlines, British Airways, easyJet, Emirates, Garuda, Oman Air, South African Airways and Virgin Atlantic. Ryanair is also offering a sale but since it does that almost every other week, it’s hard to tell if it is a one-off bargain or just a regular promotion.

Cromer Beach in North Norfolk

Cromer Beach in North Norfolk

North Norfolk has decided to promote itself by focusing on short films. Using locals, there will be a different film for each month. From kitesurfing to oyster catching, real ale brewing to steam train driving, you’ll discover things that sometimes only locals sufficiently appreciate. This month sees the release of the first film – The Kitesurfer.  This is a story told by Keira, a Scot, who decamped to North Norfolk to follow her love of kitesurfing. From early morning starts to stove-side drinks in the back of her campervan, the film is about her testing her strength against the surf and wind.

The Home Secretary, Theresa May, said last Monday in parliament that the government is on track to introduce exit checks on scheduled commercial international air, sea and rail routes by April. Given the natural inclination of governments to either rush things or delay them, I think you should consider adding some extra time to what you might normally allow to get though check-in, security and now exit passport control. You’ll note that the Home Secretary did not say when in April. It could start in March but we will let you know when a definite start date for this extra slice of administration comes into force.

For those of you who are in frequent flyer programmes, one surprise that comes when you swap miles for flights is that you pay – in cash – for any fuel surcharges. Finnair has just broken the mould by announcing that, from now on, its Finnair Plus frequent flyer members can now book Classic European award flights without having to pay fuel surcharge fees. Cynics amongst you might say that the airline would up the number of points required for flights but no. The amount of Finnair Plus points needed for Classic flight awards remains the same in addition to all necessary taxes and other government charges. Savvy readers will now be wondering whether, as Finnair is a member of the oneworld alliance, it is worth converting the BA miles into the Finnair scheme so that they don’t have to pay fuel surcharge costs in the future when they swap miles for flights.

Like many cities, Los Angeles has a restaurant week. Except theirs is a fortnight and is there another city where so many restaurants participate?  It starts on January 19th and runs until the first day of February. During that time about 350 different restaurants will be providing fixed price menus for both lunch and dinner across a very wide range of cuisines.

Heathrow is still the foremost airport in the world in providing visitors into the United States. Over 13 million people fly from the US into American cities each year which is twice as many as from any other European Airport and over 2.5 million more than from the next largest provider, Toronto in Canada. US airlines carried 93.6 million passengers to the US whilst overseas airlines carried 87.2 million which is growth two and a half times that of US carriers. Does that imply that, by-and-large, flyers prefer non-US airlines?

 

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