Saturday snippets: 9th April 2016

By | Category: Travel news
Europa Park will have an Irish themed area soon

Europa Park will have an Irish themed area soon

Germany had a bumper year from British and Irish visitors in 2015. There was an increase of 7.4% in overnight stays by visitors from the UK compared to 2014 and visitors from Ireland increased by 13% in overnight stays. The love affair continues for in January, overnight stays by visitors from the UK increased by 10.2 %, with a 10.8% rise for Ireland. The tourist board puts it down to choice and variety which was assisted by the fact that tour operators widened the range of holidays they had on offer. It also thinks that the emphasis this year on ‘Holidays in the Heart of Nature’ campaign could persuade even more of us to travel there this year this year.

At Europa Park in Germany a new themed area will open soon. The area formerly known as ‘Children’s World’ is now a fantasy of Ireland. Set amongst the hills of Ireland, there is an idyllic little fishing village, a children’s swing boat, children’s roller coaster and a tractor journey to name just a few that typifies Ireland. There is a covered play and a n Irish themed restaurant where, in the words of Europa Park, “customary dishes will allow visitors to discover the indulgent side of Ireland.”

Next week in Panama a new ecotourism project, Ecotur, will open. This is part of the government’s plan to develop sustainable tourism throughout the country. Ecotour aims to develop nine protected areas across Panama, such as the ‘Isla Bastimentos’ Marine Park, ‘Volcan Baru’ National Park, ‘Altos de Campana’ National Park and the ‘Altos de Campana’ National Park.  Local communities will provide services such as guided tours, basic accommodation services, restaurants and artisanal shops.

Panama - there are new efforts to create sustainable tourism

Panama – there are new efforts to create sustainable tourism

Florida was another favourite destination for us. Of the 105 million visitors to the state last year, 1.7 million were from the UK making us the second most important source of overseas visitors after the Canadians. Visitors from Brazil rounded off the top three. From Europe, only the Germans and the French appeared in the top ten. There is a slight sting in the tail. In 2015, the average daily room rate rose 5.9 percent making it more pricey for us to stay there. With the slump of sterling against the American dollar, this year will be even more expensive.

Next week there is a new attraction to encourage you to visit Las Vegas. No, not another casino but  SPEEDVEGAS.  It consists of a fleet of upmarket  and very,  very fast cars in which you can race around a track. There will be Porsches, Ferraris, Lamborghinis, Shelby’s,Audis and Corvettes to name just a few all awaiting you to test your racing skills. the 1.5 mile track is comparable to top circuits, the company says, and includes 12 sweeping turns, 15-degree banked turns, 60 feet of total elevation change and a half-mile straightaway. This summer, the rest of the $30 million motorsports complex will open, including the 22,000-square-foot, 2-storey welcome centre featuring indoor and outdoor observation decks, café and meetings and event space. Prices start from $196 for driving four laps in a Shelby with tuition beforehand and collection and return to the resort in which you are staying which seems a pretty inexpensive deal to me. How long before Jeremy Clarkson or Chris Evans gives it a go?

Few festivals are free. But the Festival International de Louisiane is. In this, the thirtieth year of its existence, this New Orleans festival lets visitors enjoy varieties of music, food, art and heritage in Lafayette, Louisiana, since 1986. The festival which runs from April 20-24)  is a family-orientated event to celebrate the French cultural heritage of south Louisiana – primarily a combination of French, African, Caribbean and Hispanic influences. With food (ranging from local craft beer and BBQ to crepes), art and music (last years’ line-up included Grammy award winner Angelique Kidjo as headline act, with music experiences including Rhythms & Roots and Soul Express Brass Band) and, of course, that special New Orleans fun.

The castle from which St Fagans takes its name. Closed again due to strikes

The castle from which St Fagans takes its name. Closed again due to strikes

If you had thought of visiting any of the museums that are part of the National Museum of Wales, think again. For each weekend from today until May 1st, there will be strikes. Some may open one day, some none at all so check on their websites before you go. The strikes will affect Big Pit in Blaenavon, St Fagans and the National Museum in Cardiff, the National Wool Museum in Llandysul, the National Slate Museum in Llanberis, and the Swansea Waterfront Museum

Among airline news this week, Vueling Airlines will add a new route from Manchester to Tenerife once a week during July and August and two flights a week in September and October. BA will introduce a new twice weekly flight from Heathrow to Palermo in Sicily from 30 April until 24 September and Aer Lingus will fly three times a week from Dublin to Pisa as from 18 May until 11 September. Finally easyJet will introduce a new flight for the summer 2016 season from Manchester to Olbia in Sardinia.

easyJet has become the first airline at Manchester Airport to install a fully automated bag drop facility for customers – which will help, it says, to reduce and eliminate check in queues. Customers will place their bags on a scale where a luggage tag is then automatically generated. Customers’ passports are then checked and cameras authenticate the tag information is correct. Given the size of Manchester Airport, the surprise is that it has taken a while for this to be installed. What about other airlines doing the same thing?

Emirates is joining other airlines in extending its online check in to 48 hours before departure.  Customers can check in online on both desktop and mobile devices from 48 hours to 90 minutes before flight departure. However, for flights to and from the United States, while online check-in is available 48 hours before departure, boarding passes will only be issued 24 hours in advance.

Two tour operators that specialised in holidays to Turkey have gone bust recently, Elixir and Jewel in the Crown. Both were ATOL bonded so most bookers with these companies will get their money back. Think before you book and the best advice is to opt for a company that is ATOL bonded.  .You won’t get your holiday back but at least you should get your money returned. Companies that specialise in just one country or a few are more liable for problems if a downturn occurs as it has in Turkey, Egypt and Tunisia so ATOL boding gives a measure of security.

ATOL

the sign to look for

Butlin’s celebrates its 80th birthday this year. It asked Brits what they considered to be the ‘essentials’ for a great family holiday. 60% said their choice of holiday would be based on affordability, followed by almost half of all respondents’ stating they look for a variety of places to eat (47%) and access to the beach (46%). Over a quarter (27%) said they chose a holiday that offered family entertainment and friendly staff. Note that safety doesn’t appear as an issue which seems contrary to the Travelzoo research reported earlier this week.

Finally, some “research.” CruiseDeals have been comparing prices and have found that it’s cheaper to go on a round-the-world cruise than it is to live in London. Indeed the company says it is cheaper by more than £7-a-day to live on a cruise liner than in the nation’s capital. But everyone knows that London is expensive. How does it compare with other UK cities? Sadly the company’s work doesn’t reveal that. It also doesn’t take into account the tips and spending money that you go through when on a cruise. Another but of research designed for a headline rather than being useful!

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