Saturday snippets: 30th April 2016

By | Category: Travel news
Hawaii as many see it

Hawaii as many see it

The weather isn’t great for this weekend’s bank holiday so I thught I would start with a place where people always think it is warm and sunny. If you were told that a tourist authority had released a new video you would naturally think it was aimed at attracting more visitors. Not so with the latest video from the Hawaii Tourism Authority. It is aimed squarely at local residents saying that tourism is a friend to Hawaiians. The campaign wants to show locals the benefits of the state’s biggest industry amid complaints about the effect of mass tourism.  The authority says that people tend to focus on overcrowded beaches and increased congestion during the peak tourist season instead of the advantages of tourism employment and investment. Last year the state received a record number of visitors for the fourth year running with 8.6 million arrivals.

The five museums nominated for this year’s £100,000 Art Fund Prize are the V&A, the Bethlem Museum of the Mind in London, Bristol’s Arnolfini, Edinburgh’s Jupiter Artland and York Art Gallery. The winner will be announced on 6 July at the Natural History Museum.

In the German city of Weimar a new exhibition has opened, “The Ernestines. A Dynasty Shapes Europe” which has an appeal to Brits for it looks at the dynastic line that is known to us as the House of Windsor. Almost to emphasise the fact, the exhibition is being held in the castle there as well as the Neues Museum. In the nearby city of Gotha at the Friedenstein Palace the other part of the exhibition takes place which looks at the Ernestines’ relation.

If you thought Keukenhof in Holland was the place to see tulips in  abundance think about the Canadian capital city of Ottawa as well. Between 12th and 23rd May, the Canadian Tulip Festival in Ottawa will be in full bloom with over three million tulips for the world’s largest tulip festival, which sets the city ablaze with colour and life.  But the city ges one better and invites people there in the evening as well to  celebrate the full moon with live acoustic music, fire dancing and glow paddling on the lake.

Kimberley Mumby relaxes amongst some of the 32,000 tulips Image by David McHugh / Brighton Pictures 07768 721637***

Kimberley Mumby relaxes amongst some of the 32,000 tulips Image by David McHugh / Brighton Pictures 07768 721637***

Talking of tulips, Arundel Castle in West Sussex has their annual tulip festival in full bloom at the moment and is slightly easier to reach than Ottawa. This year’s festival is the largest the Castle has ever featured with 32,000 colourful flowers on show including the stunning ‘Red Appledorn’ alongside new varieties such as the pink ruffled ‘Auxerre’, the big-headed ‘Wow’ variety and the spikey purple ‘Labrador’.  Arundel Castle is open Tuesdays to Sundays as well as bank holidays.

Like Hawaii, Japan has also seen record numbers. In March, 34,700 Brits travelled there up by almost a quarter during the first four months compared to last year. The reason?  Possibly it is due to cheaper fares being offered in the sales and the fact that you can buy more yen this year for your pound than you could last year.

Attracting us to Kyoto in Japan next month could be the Aoi Matsuri festival, one of the big three festivals in the ancient capital of Japan.  Celebrated right across Kyoto with a special focus on two shrines, Shimogama and Kamigamo,  the city has a parade of 600 participants dressed in traditional costumes from the Heian period. The festival has a rich history dating back to the mid-sixth century when a serious famine occurred and Emperor Kinemi was guided by a fortune teller to organise a celebration to soften the God’s anger, as it was believed this was the cause.

the Aoi Matsuri procession. Image © Kyoto CVN

the Aoi Matsuri procession. Image © Kyoto CVN

One of the highlights is seeing the ‘saio-dai,’ the focal lady in the procession who is selected from all the unmarried women in Kyoto as she is dressed in traditional imperial clothing including 12 layers of kimono, weighing 30kg.

Last Monday, there was a short debate in the House of Lords about regional museums and the impact of the economic downturn and the effect of council cutbacks. Theoretically this isn’t an issue for central government as most regional museums come under local authorities or devolved parliaments. Having said that, central funding goes to those organisations and they decide how the money should be spent. The Bishop of Leeds asked about the transfer of photographic materials from the National Media Museum in Bradford to the V&A in London. He was told by the government that the move “has provided far better access to the collection because the V&A has committed to digitising the collection and thus make it more widely available.” And the NMM hadn’t? Lord Sterling queried, given the fact that the largest 12 museums – predominantly London based – should send around the country to the regions some of the 90% of material that they hold but don’t or cannot display so that the regions would benefit. One of the issues that Just about Travel has mentioned before is how little material that is publically held – ie by us – is available to see. It will be interesting to see if Lord Sterling’s thoughts are mirrored in the Culture White Paper when it eventually appears.

Also last Monday, in the Channel 4 programme –Dispatches, Flight Centre was accused of charging its older customers more than its younger ones, a claim denied by the company. The programme also said that the company added hidden mark-ups to tickets as well as saying tickets are non-refundable when that is not the case. Flight Centre refuted the main allegations but it was issued before the programme appeared on television and the company admitted it hadn’t seen in advance of the showing. In which case how can it deny them? It did admit to the fact that there may have been “isolated behaviour” which it said it will deal with immediately. Will the programme deter you from using Flight Centre?

Those with easy access to London might wish to visit the Brazilian Embassy some time over the next couple of weeks. An exhibition showcasing the wonders of Brazil looks at the World Cultural Heritage Sites, including the mining city of Ouro Preto, the historic centre of Salvador, Bahia, the pilot plan of the country’s capital, Brasilia, and the natural beauty of Rio de Janeiro. The idea is to encourage visitors to spread the wings further than the magnet appeal of Rio de Janeiro. Brazil has 19 UNESCO cultural sites, 12 of which are presented at the exhibition. The interactive exhibition will inform visitors about the history of Brazil, from the country’s pre-historical period and colonisation until today. The exhibition is open until the 11th of May from 10am – 7pm from Monday to Fridays only.

The Lake District - part of Cumbria attracting more to book compared to last year

The Lake District – part of Cumbria attracting more to book compared to last year

According to Holiday Cottages, the floods which whish hit Cumbria last winter seems to have had no impact on the holiday appeal of the area. The local tourist board was at pains to point out at the time of the floods that their area was still open for business as the floods affected just a small part of Cumbria, devastating as it was for that small part. The message seems to have got through as Holiday Cottages says that its bookings are up by 222% over last year.

From May 3rd there will be a new British Airways service from Heathrow to Billund enabling travellers to get to Aarhus in Denmark. As the city is European Capital of Culture in 2017, BA is probably just the first of many airlines that will operate flights there as next year gets closer.

Finally and looking a long way ahead, next winter, Ryanair is flying to Warsaw from both Birmingham and Leeds Bradford for the first time. And by Warsaw, Ryanair mean  Warsaw Modlin which is 25 miles north of the city centre It will also have new services from Leeds to Gran Canaria and to Faro plus a new service from Birmingham to Sofia.

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