Saturday snippets: 12th March 2016

By | Category: Travel news
Some of flags represnting the 180 pus countries at ITB this week

Some of flags represnting the 180 pus countries at ITB this week

As readers know, I have been in Berlin this week for ITB, the biggest travel trade show in the world as the organisers like to claim. German tourists are similar to British ones. We tend to visit the same destinations and react similarly. Like us they have recorded large declines in the number of people travelling to Egypt, Tunisia and Turkey. Like us there has been a rise in bookings to Spain, the Canaries, the Balearics, Italy and Portugal. The Zika virus hit bookings when it wa sin the news; now it is no longer so prominent, bookings have increased to the Caribbean and South America.  they see the Caribbean as one of the boom areas this year. They are also seeing a big rise in  bookings to Cuba as Germans want to visit the country before Americans start flocking there.  Bookings are up 46%. Greece, hoever is showing no increase at the moment and that is perhaps due to new stories about refugees landing on Greek islands.Still the Germans visit the same places we do with Corfu and Rhodes being the most popular. So simiar are we to the Germans that the number of us visiting Germany and them visiting us is also up. To each country the other is very important  as a source of visitors and revenue.

Also published whilst I was in Berlin was research showing 40% of responders to an international survey said terror threats will affect their travel plans for 2016. 15% said they will not travel abroad in 2016 or will only go on domestic trips within their own country. A further 25% said they will still be travelling abroad, yet only to destinations they perceive as safe. The company behind the research, IPK, said the results varied according to the region. Growth grew by only 3% in 2016 it said but without the recent terror threats however, a growth of 4.5% would be possible.” British visits to France in the last six weeks of 2015, for example, dropped by over a third after the Paris bombings

The impact is felt on places like Turkey. Mark Warner has pulled out, Thomson, Neilson and Thomas Cook have cut back on their programmes and the tourist board has sent out offers of press trips to travel writers in the hope that positive stories will result.  Although holiday bookings have dropped by more than a third, in Germany they are seeing people beginning to book again but in only small numbers. In the UK and Ireland, there aren’t that many sales compared to last year which is why you might see some bargain offers being launched.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

Away from the serious stuff, in the entrance hall is Batman’s car. Most people seem to want to have their photograph taken next to it. What’s the link with the travel show? Turkish Airlines have a promotion with the car at the moment.

From last month, Kenya scrapped visa fees for children. the reason is that the country wants to portray itself as a family-friendly destination. According to the minisiter of tourism, Najib Balala, the reason for remiving fees was to “encourage children to understand the importance of conserving wildlife.” Nothing to do with the downturn in tourism numbers after terrorist incidents and the need of tourism dollars to bolster the economy then.

The introduction of the e-visa system to India has been rolled out to more than 150 countries. But the visa is expensive at about $50 or equivalent and you have to apply 30 days before you fly. At ITB, they announced that they were considering widening this so you could apply up to four months and possibly six months in advance which would enable potential visitors to apply and still give plenty of time to hunt around for good price deals to get there. Will visas be available on arrival? The minister poured cold water on the idea but the digital approach was the one the government was following.

According to Google, we are using our mobiles more and more for planning travel. In the last year it has grown by just under 50%. But we are spending less time researching because, Google claims, mobile connectivity is helping people find what they want more  quickly. This seems to conflict with findings from the German travel body, DRV, which shows that more people are using travel agents than having been using them for years. their thought is that there always was a group of people who were prepared to do independent planning and the online and digital media travel successes are pulling from that core market only. In Germany, the number of travel agencies is growing, not declining. Before the internet age, back in 1995, 40% of all holiday bookings in Germany was done via travel agents; today that figure has exceeded 50%.

At ITB and other places where the travel trade gets to meet, a perennial question is the impact of social and online media. Do we need travel agencies on the high street.  As I mentioned above, if the German example is anything to go by the answer is yes. In the UK one tour operator that has never had a high street presence has decide that they need one. Cornish Traditional Cottages which features holiday rental properties, claims it isn’t enough to have an online presence anymore. Instead it has opened its doors in Wadebridge, moving from a rural office in Bodmin, Cornwall, to increase its visibility with potential customers.

Tvrdava sv. Ivan, Dubrovnik

Dubrovnik

easyJet is to launch new flights between Luton and Dubrovnik starting on May 24th and from Gatwick to Tivat in Montenegro from June 16th. It also starts flights to Tivat from Manchester later this month. The Turkish airline, Pegasus, will start flights from Stansted and Gatwick to Gabala in Azerbaijan from March 18th. The flights will go via Istanbul were you’ll have to change flights But the key is the price. Pegasus is saying that prices to Gabala from £38 each way.

Still no early return of flights to the Egyptian, Red Sea resort of Sharm-al Sheikh. Now Thomas Cook has announced that they will cancel all summer flights there. Any reader that might have booked should contact the tour operator if they haven’t heard from them already. Most tour operators are awaiting guidance from the Foreign Office as to when they should re-start flights. At the Egyptian press conference at ITB this week, there was ill-concealed disappointment that a whole season of business would be lost.

Lobster roll at Two Lights Lobster Shack.

Lobster roll at Two Lights Lobster Shack.

When is a lobster not a lobster? Apparently in the US where a TV programme found that some restaurants were feeding people langoustines, whiting or Pollock instead of the king of shellfish. The US state of Maine – which would justifiably claim the finest lobsters – says this wouldn’t happen in the state. The only debate is a decades-old one about the revered lobster roll. Some proponents say that a lobster roll should be lightly dressed in mayonnaise. Others insist upon drawn butter. Some folks claim that a true Maine lobster roll is incomplete without a sprinkling of diced celery or even a dusting of smoked paprika. And then there are the diehards who insist that the meat of a true lobster roll must be served unadulterated, in chunks, on a hot dog roll. I’m for just eating it from the shell with plenty of butter and some pepper myself.

A travel guide book is a frustrating thing. No sooner have you bought it than – in many cases – it is out-of-date. But most of us rely on the guide as a source of useful information in helping us to decide where to go. But would you trust a travel guide publisher to produce your holiday? The publisher, Insight Guides, is hoping that you will. It will, at least, mean that the hotels it suggests are still available and of a suitable standard.   The publisher must be confident not only that there is a market for this new tour operation but that it can deliver. It is offering a no-quibble, money-back guarantee should anything go wrong in the destination.

Finally, the APD issue was raised in parliament again this week. Last year it raised £3.2 billion and in justifying it, the Exchequer Secretary – Damian Hinds – cited the fact that there is no taxation of international aviation fuel and no VAT on international or domestic flights.

 

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