Saturday Snippets: 27th June 2015

By | Category: Travel news
Shrek on the southbank in London

Shrek on the southbank in London

After months of anticipation, Shrek’s Adventure! London – a much anticipated new attraction finally rolls into London’s Southbank next week. It brings the fantastic worlds of DreamWorks and the Kingdom of Far, Far Away combining live action sets from the Shrek films with storytelling, a 4D ride, special effects and new DreamWorks animation. Guests are invited to step into and immerse themselves in this adventure as the story unfolds with its magical crystal balls and bubbling cauldrons to powerful spells and laughs. After the adventure, there’s more fun to be had in the Arrivals Hall with a colourful line-up of other DreamWorks pals in themed sets from the worlds of Madagascar, Kung Fu Panda and How to Train Your Dragon. www.shreksadventure.com.

Expect to see travel agents promoting Vietnam more strongly now that the country has removed visa requirements for us. We can now stay for up to fifteen days from July 1st. Visitor numbers have dropped this year as other countries become more competitively priced and less hassle to visit. The government seems to have listened but many in the tourist industry there would prefer the length of time to be 30 days which is more in keeping with what other countries allow.

Next month marks 150 years since the first ascent of one of the most famous mountains in the world – the Matterhorn. Famous for its four steep faces rising above the surrounding glaciers, the last 4,000m peak in the Alps was not climbed until 14 July 1865 by British climber Edward Whymper. Celebrations of this fact – which last all the year – will be in  an number of places including Zermatt and Chmonix, in fact anywhere where skiing takes place it seems.

Napa Valley vineyard

Napa Valley

In 2014, California’s Napa Valley welcomed a total of 3.3 million visitors, 13.6 percent of which (448,000) were from international destinations,  an 88 percent increase in international visitors over 2012, and a total of 209,860 additional international visitors. Whilst a quarter of these international visitors were from Canada, The UK was the third largest supplier of visitors after China. 51,072 of us visited the famed wine growing area of the state.

Staying with the USA for the moment, the city of Philadelphia is where Brits are the largest overseas visitors. Last year it had 87,000 visitors from the UK, the majority of which were leisure travellers. Since Philadelphia has no vineyards in the city what is the appeal for us? Heritage is the largest draw as this is the home of the Liberty Bell and the city was at one time the capital of the USA. With fast Amtrak connections from New York and Washington DC, the city draws visitors as a day-out alternative to those gateways as well as attracting longer stay visitors who use the city as a jumping off point to explore Pennsylvania.

Whilst the USA might be doing well in attracting British tourists they have some way to go to beat Greece. Despite almost daily doses of media doom about will they/won’t they leave the euro, The Bank of Greece says that, in the first quarter of 2015, arrivals to Greece from the UK grew 37.7% compared to the same period last year. The Greek tourism industry must be hoping that this huge increase lasts throughout the rest of the year as well. As must the Greek treasury.

Hong Kong

Hong Kong at night during the Symphony of Light

Every visitor who arrives in Hong Kong this summer will notice the Hong Kong Summer Fun campaign, organised by the Hong Kong Tourism Board which has just begun. A highlight of the campaign is the Instant Mega Draw, which will run every day at the airport during the campaign period – which runs until the end of August – with more than 2.4 million prizes, worth over HK$400 million (£30,000). The campaign is sponsored by the local retail, dining, hotel and attractions sectors. On the first day of the Instant Mega Draw, the HKTB already gave away a number of attractive prizes, including luxurious cruise holiday package and HK$1,000 (£75) spending credit.  In addition to the Instant Mega Draw, the HKTB is organising another lucky draw at the airport – Return to Hong Kong like a Millionaire. A total of 10 winners will be drawn, and they can each take one family member or friend to travel to Hong Kong on a four-day, three-night luxury trip.

Being based in Leeds, Just about Travel was interested to hear that another Leeds based company, Sound Channel – a dance music festivals promoter – Has bought the Croatian island of Obonjan. It plans to turn the island into a party destination but not like Magaluf. The company, which stages the Unknown Festival in Croatia, hopes to attract hundreds of musicians, artists, philosophers and chefs to the island along, of course, with tens of thousands of festive goers. Croatia is becoming a leading European music festival destination. As well as Unknown Festival, Croatia is also home to The Garden Festival, Stop Making Sense, Dimensions Festival and SuncéBeat among others.

Kuala Lumpur

Kuala Lumpur

Want to win a road trip throughSouth East Asia, spanning Singapore, Malaysia and Australia, for yourself and a partner? Europcar, the car rental company, has launched a competition on social media in partnership with Spotify. #MyEuropcarRoadTrip is calling on leisure and business travellers to post their personal road trips in their ‘car’ on Facebook and Instagram. The video or photograph that receives the most votes from visitors to the social media platforms will win. Competition entrants have until 21st August 2015 to take a photo or short video of a key moment during a recent road trip, when safe to do so, and then post it with the hashtag #MyEuropcarRoadTrip on either Facebook or Instagram. The Spotify link? It has compiled what it calls, “an ideal road tripper playlist” to while away the time as you drive. There are also 75 runners-up prizes of a Ricoh Theta 360° camera and the first 500 entries to the competition will receive a Fotomate code enabling them to receive printed copies of their five favourite photos.

Readers might remember that Kuoni was put up for sale earlier this year. The Swiss owners have sold the company to REWE Group, owner of German operator DER Touristic. In addition to the Kuoni tour operation, the sale also includes the 34 Kuoni-branded travel shops and John Lewis concessions as well as specialist travel businesses Carrier, CV Villas, Kirker and Voyage Jules Verne. Will this make any difference to us since the same management stays in place? Probably not although I could be very jingoistic and xenophobic and say that, with Kuoni being owned by a German company, towels will be placed on the sun loungers before Kuoni clients arrive in resort. Expect that I wouldn’t stoop so low as to say that for just a quick, jokey aside!

Now for this week’s survey watches. Homestay.com, the digital marketplace for hosted accommodation, reveals that the typical British tourist is now more of a culture vulture than holiday resort recluse.  Really? I’m not sure that is what the third of Britons holidaying overseas near Spanish beaches would say to that. Homestay says that their research shows that the priority for 70 per cent of the Brits surveyed was to gain an increased understanding of the country they’ve visited. The company adds that the modern Brit will shun the sun lounger and English breakfast this summer.  The study shows that the average Briton intends to visit five local attractions and try six local dishes or drinks during their holiday.  The ideal length of break was 10 days and 40% of the respondents said that they intend to shun social media completely. Despite claims that they are culturally ignorant abroad, a survey of over 2,000 British tourists The survey also found “that the modern Brit yearns for local history and cuisine, with three-quarters intending to learn 15 phrases in a foreign language while they’re abroad.” Does that include saying no when approached by a survey company?

not glamping!

not glamping!

The second survey of the week comes from Cool Camping. Their research revealed “a staggering 2 out of 3 of us would snub a hotel holiday in favour of a family camping jaunt.” Being a man rather fond of creature comforts and having had a memorable – for all the wrong reasons – camping holiday many moons ago, I find this research a little surprising unless the survey was only amongst campers.

Finally to Duck Dynasty, that rather compulsive viewing reality programme about the antics of the family geared to producing duck attraction devices for hunters has generated lots of fans wherever it is shown. Regularly garnering 11 million viewers in the US alone, the local tourist board, the Monroe-West Monroe Convention and Visitors Bureau in Louisiana has created a brochure and website offering a self-guided tour of 26 sites featured in the first three seasons of Duck Dynasty.

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