Saturday snippets: 23rd January 2016

By | Category: Travel news
The Lake DIistrict

The Lake DIistrict

It appears that 10% of us have never visited one of our national parks. That is one of the results from research carried out by Sykes Cottages. Given that, the fact that 1% of us have visited all fifteen of our parks seems good news. The Lake District is the most popular park to visit followed by the Peak District and the Yorkshire Dales. The figures may be understated because signage in some places doesn’t tell you that you are in a national park. In parts of south east England you wouldn’t know you were in the newest of our parks – the South Downs whilst in Pembrokeshire, given that not all the county is included you can go into and out of the park and not know it.

Visitors normally avoid alleys and underpasses but in San Francisco, the local tourist authorities want you to visit them. In the spring, “Sites Uns_en”, a new public art initiative, will activate seven alleyways in the downtown Yerba Buena neighbourhood of the city with installations of permanent and temporary artworks, performances, screenings and other events.

Staying with public art in San Francisco, next week one popular art installations becomes a permanent fixture in The Bay Lights, Leo Villareal’s light sculpture comprised of 25,000 LED lights, on the western span of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge will be permanently lit from dusk to dawn, year-round.

After the terrorist outrages in Egypt, the government there is spending an additional £22 million on improved security at Sharm el Sheikh and Hurghada to try and persuade us to holiday there again. There will be more security staff, sniffer dogs, CCTV cameras in the hope that this will deter attackers. Equipment should be in place by the end of January. More equipment is not the whole answer. Diligent security staff who keep their eyes open and react is more important as was seen when security people dealt with an IS attack on a hotel in Hurghada recently. Yes three tourists were slightly injured but it could have been a lot worse. Training all staff to this level is important in restoring confidence to prospective visitors. This week there was an attack near Giza, again the police dealt withe the terrorists they found and before they could attack tourists which was probably their aim. Foreign Office advice is not to fly into Sharm but the resort is not on the list as suitable for only essential travel. For Cairo, Alexandria , Luxor, Abu Simbel, Aswan and other place salong the Nile , the advice is the same as Sharm.

Tower of London

The Tower of London

On Boxing Day, I mentioned that the ticketing company AttractionTix, had listed only two UK attractions in the top 10 in the world – the Tower of London and Ripley’s Believe it or not in London. Now it has revealed its top 10 fastest growing list in the UK for 2015 and the Tower isn’t there. Ripley’s is at the number one spot, Hampton Court Palace at two and Lightwater Valley at three. Only Cadbury World in Birmingham and the Blackpool Resort Pass  – and Lightwater Valley in Yorkshire – from outside the London area appear in the list which might be odd. Is it because attractions outside the UK don’t appeal to those using the AttractionTix website or is it that the website might be heavily biased to Londoners on the internet and the list reflects that?

If you take a Mediterranean cruise this year you may not stop at any Turkish ports. Last year Disney stopped calling at Turkish ports because of security and safety issues and now, Crystal Cruises has done the same – at least for the first half year cruises. Celebrity Cruises don’t stop at Istanbul but other cruise lines haven’t yet made announcements. P&O and Norwegian Cruise Line still have Istanbul listed in their itineraries this year. In all more than 130 cruise ships are due to dock in Istanbul this year.

In a Reading court last week, judges ruled that lightning strikes could not be considered “extraordinary circumstance” and therefore compensation for any delayed flights and cancellations as a result of that strike is applicable. Before you rush to put in claims, the decision was made in a county court and the airline concerned – Monarch – may decide to appeal the judgement so don’t spending your compensation money just yet.

Thomas Cook has announced that is going to accept instalment paying for its holidays. You pay a deposit as usual but instead of paying the rest of the money owed eight, six or even two weeks before the holiday begins, they say that you can now pay in monthly instalments. More people than you might imagine take out loans in order to fund their holidays so, this proposal by Thomas Cook, may end that practice as with the tour operator, no interest charges are levied.

Can rail passengers weild enough power to overturn franchisees?

Can rail passengers wield enough power to overturn franchisees?

Finally, commuters in the south east of England who have Southeastern as their train provider have signed a petition calling for it to be lose its rail franchise. Among the complaints justifying the call is that the rail company’s customer service is “beyond useless.” Southeastern’s cause wasn’t helped by the fact that it claimed disruption last week was due to “the angle of the sun” on one of the few days when we saw sunshine. It must rank with “wrong sort of snow” and “rain in the Clapham Junction area” as dodgy reasons foisted on the public. Given road congestion in the south east of the country, railways are a popular way of heading to places like Margate, Canterbury, Ramsgate and Folkestone. Can people power achieve changes so that companies have to be aware of the customers it serves?

 

 

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