Saturday snippets: 19th December 2015

By | Category: Travel news
Our thanks - the first award we have ever won

Our thanks – the first award we have ever won

This week I start this column by blowing Just about Travel‘s trumpet. In their German National Travel Writers Awards, the German National Tourist Office has voted us best in the online category for 2015. On behalf of all the writers and the people who work behind the scenes, thanks to the GNTO. Itcame as a surprise since we didn’t even know we had been nominated.

Gatwick has announced it’s top ten Christmas Day destinations. By passenger numbers they are Dubai, Madrid, Orlando, Istanbul, Bridgetown in Barbados, Barcelona, Montego Bay in Jamaica, Las Vegas, Tenerife, and Goa in India. It looks as though those departing Gatwick want to head for the sun and some warmth after the damp December and November we have had.

Tel Aviv is the top gay-friendly city in the world according to the travel website WowTravel.me. Tel Aviv topped 11 other major international destinations on the list, including London, Berlin, Miami, San Francisco and New York. Taken into consideration in making the judgement were factors such as economic growth, legal protection, social acceptance, LGBT nightlife and economic opportunities. The website described Tel Aviv as “a bubble of sanity in an otherwise difficult and tense area.”

Akra

Akra

Also from Israel comes news that one of Jerusalem’s archaeological mysteries has been solved through the discovery of the Greek Akra, Epiphanes’ lost stronghold in Jerusalem. The finding, after a 100-year search, reveals the location of city boundaries, main streets and buildings at different times throughout history. Built more than 2,000 years ago, Akra was famous because the Syrian-Greek King, Antiochus IV, used it in order to control Jerusalem and monitor activity in the Temple. Its eventual liberation by the Hasmoneans more than two millennia ago this month December.

Camping and caravanning are popular leisure activities but the numbers involved are larger than you might think. UK residents took 13.3m camping and caravanning trips over the full year of 2014 and the numbers have been rising. But try booking a camping holiday at one of the big online travel agents in the UK and Ireland. No chance. Filling the gap comes the French company, Camping-and-co.com, an online booking specialist of outdoor accommodations, which has launched a UK, English languages website It claims to have a selection of over 1000 campsites located in France and Southern Europe (Italy, Spain and Portugal) plus mobile homes and pitches to wooden cabins and teepees.

The effect of terrorist activity can inflict immediate economic problems on a destination. Japan Airlines (JAL) is suspending its daily Tokyo Narita to Paris service, blaming a drop in demand following last month’s terror attacks in the French capital. Load factors have halved on the route to just 40% (meaning only 40% of e seats are filled) and on its other run from Paris to Tokyo Haneda there has also been a drop in the number of passengers so that only 60% of seats are occupied. Whilst there will be a seasonal drop in demand at this time of the year, JAL is not the cheapest of airlines at the moment and there is competition, such a drop shows that the Japanese – at least – are wary of travel just now.

Montenegro

Montenegro

easyJet has opened up Montenegro for tourism for us living outside London by starting flights direct from Manchester to the country as from 27th of March. Tivat also serves the Mediterranean port of Kotor, a UNESCO World heritage site. Kotor is also home to Porto Montenegro a new modern super-yacht marina creating as well as water sports and leisure facilities. The airline has also announced that it will operate a new route to Gibraltar next summer from Manchester Airport.

Nobody likes queuing. At airports, queuing at the check-in has been greatly reduced by on-line check-in but the security lane is where hold ups can occur. Belfast International Airport is using sensor technology to monitor people movement so that it can then re-allocate staff to areas where queues are building up. The system has another benefit to the airport as well. By monitoring people it homes that minimising queues means that people will head for the restaurants and shops to spend the spare time they know have. And, of course, spend their cash. At the same time Orlando International Airport has also introduced technology to help identify bottlenecks so that staff can be allocated to cope with the logjams. Would that all airports used such technology.

After mentioning some destinations that had seen increases in visitors this year, a few more items arrived in my in-box. Passengers using Budapest Airport have passed the 10 million mark for the first time ever Warsaw’s Chopin Airport have had 10.5 million up until the end of November. Given that there is still a month to go to the end of the year and that includes the busy Christmas period both airports should be able to claim broken records at year end.

Bristol Airport has so much broken a record as surprised passengers. A week ago, as part of a promotion for Clarks Village, passengers arriving from Iceland went to the carousel to collect their baggage and found it also laden with gifts from the stores that are located in the village. Some of the gifts received by passengers included luxury handbags, hats, scarfs, gloves, chocolates, shoes, and jewellery, as well as vouchers up to the value of £100 to spend at Clarks Village. Now if only chocolate companies did the same for each flight, my wife would insist on us flying from those airports!

Christmas-comes-earlyBut airports are working harder to try and get us to spend more cash with them. Frankfurt, for example, has introduced a loyalty programme (a bit like Gatwick’s) where points can be accrued and redeemed at the retailers in the airport. Now they have introduced an online system where you can look at what shops have to offer, order before you arrive and collect when you get to the airport. You pay when you collect them at the shops.

Finally, best wishes from me and the rest of the team for Christmas. May you all have an enjoyable and peaceful time. I’ll be back on Boxing Day with another trawl through the smaller and less well-known stories of the week.

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