Saturday snippets: 28th May 2016

By | Category: Travel news
Will French bistros and restaurants be empty this bank holiday because Brits can't get there?

Will French bistros and restaurants be empty this bank holiday because Brits can’t get there?

As the bank holiday has started some people will have already faced problems. The first of these is for those driving to France. Will you find fuel given that the refineries are being blockaded by unions as they continue their objections to the French government’s new labour laws?  Now French air traffic control staff are supporting them as well by striking. The second is more widespread but also concerns air traffic controllers.  Their strikes in Greece, Italy, Belgium and France in March and April caused over 2,000 flight cancellations and more than 16,000 hours of delays. Ij Belgium there is a general strike starting on Monday evening so leave the country by early evening just to be safe and sure. There are more strikes on the horizon so check your travel insurance policies.

You will have seen in the week that the Tunisian ambassador to the UK called for the government to relax its advice on holidaymakers travelling to the country. No helpful response from the government about when the advice might be lifted has been given but there is a feeling growing that it might not be too far away. Russians, Germans, Italians and the French are returning in growing numbers but not the British or Irish.  What has happened is that the Tunisian National Tourist Office has decided is to launch a mini-promotion to remind us of the advantages of holidaying there and, more importantly, that we don’t forget it.  A panel located in London’s Old Spitalfields Market will show unedited footage from three Tunisian locations – the resort of Hammamet, the picturesque town of Sidi Bou Said, and the desert landscape of Tozeur.

 

Gorillas in Bindi must surely focus as one of the reasons to holiday in Uganda

Gorillas in Bindi must surely focus as one of the reasons to holiday in Uganda

Uganda Tourism will launch its first marketing campaign in the UK and Ireland next month. Called ‘Your Uganda,’ the campaign launches on June 1 and it will start with a four-week TV sponsorship on National Geographic Wild, focusing on Uganda’s wildlife experiences.

More of us are holidaying in Greece. The latest data shows that there were 924,750 bookings in the year ending April 2016 which is up by 3% or not far short of an additional 30,000. Athens International Airport was the main recipient of the additional visitors seeing an 11% rise in passengers. There may be more visitors this year because Greece has received a €112 million from the EU for the modernising of three projects; the Caiaphas thermal baths in the region of Elis, the upgrade of the Parnassos Ski Centre at Mount Parnassos and conversion of the former Tae Kwon Do Hall on the Attica coastline into a congress centre.

The annual Athens and Epidaurus Festival is nearly upon us. Running from June until August, this festival has been running for more than fifty years and is one of the most famous festivals in Greece featuring open-air theatre, opera, classical music and dance performances held in venues across Athens and at Epidaurus in the Peloponnese. The festival is best-known for its ancient venues at the Epidaurus amphitheatre and Athens’ 2nd Century BC Odeon of Herodes Atticus, formed out of the rocky southern slope of Acropolis Hill.

the most well known neon sign in Las Vegas

the most well known neon sign in Las Vegas

Las Vegas’s signs as much as anything contribute to the attractions if the city. This year the Neon Museum celebrates its twentieth anniversary and, so successful has it been in displaying many of the signs that we have grown up watching on tv and in films that it has decided to open earlier in the morning. For those who haven’t played the tables till dawn or watched he very last shows, you can now go on a tour of the museum at 8am in the morning! But then Las Vegas is a 24 hour city. How many takers will there be?

Since 2007, £35 million has been made available by the body now known as Historic Environment Scotland for the caring and protection of what is loosely known as the “historic environment.” So far 56 different projects have benefitted from a share of the funds. Earlier this week it was announced that a further £10 million is available and applications are open. For those interested in applying the money comes under a scheme called the Conservation Area Regeneration Scheme (CARS) which encourages local authorities, community groups and third sector organisations to invest in their historic environment. The deadline for CARS applications is Wednesday 31 August 2016. For more information and to apply visit www.historicenvironment.scot

Last week I mentioned that the Thais had closed the island of Koh Tachai to protect its environment since more tourists are visiting the island that than te authorities believe the eco-system can handle. Now the Thai authorities have ordered the removal of all tourist facilities on three small islands near Phuket for similar reasons. All tourist related structures including shops and restaurants will be removed from Koh Khai Nok, Koh Khai Nui and Koh Khai Nai islands and specially designated areas only will be set aside for boat trips in the area.

Wine may be synonymous with Bordeax but in a fortnight it will mean football

Wine may be synonymous with Bordeax but in a fortnight it will mean football

A wine museum La Cité du Vin, opens in a few days’ time in Bordeaux as we mentioned recently in our general story of the city and the events of next month. It is a 10-storey building of glass and steel on the banks of the river Garonne where visitors can take a self-guided tour, before enjoying a glass of wine as they look over the city and the vineyards. the key question though is can you watch the football from there?

Jet2holidays has expanded its resort baggage check-in service to more than 60 of its most popular hotels. The service allows customers to check in their bags at their hotel on the last day of their holiday. It’s available at 20 hotels in Benidorm and more than 40 across Majorca and Tenerife.  Reps meet customers at their hotel on the day of their return flight and check their baggage in at the hotel. The bags are then transported to the aircraft, carrying out all the standard security checks.

About a fortnight ago, Just about Travel mentioned the problems in the USA about delays in American airports due to a shortage of staff. Now American Airlines says that 70,000 passengers have missed flights this year due to the longer waiting times.  Now the US Travel Association says many travellers will either delay or cancel their plans to travel by air this summer due to long Transportation Security Administration lines at airports. On top of that the trade association polled Americans and they say that 21.8% of those planning in the next few months will cancel or delay their plans, or travel by other means such as by car. Of those that say they will catch a flight summer, 60.3% say they will arrive at the airport earlier at the airport. If you are holidaying in the US this half term or over the summer allow not just a little extra time but at least an hour.

why are there fewer flights from Newcastle to Heathrow or Gatwick? image courtesy of Newcastle Airport

why are there fewer flights from Newcastle to Heathrow or Gatwick? image courtesy of Newcastle Airport

Finally, in an answer to Anna Turley MP, the government says that in 2015, there were 4,180 flights between the north east and Heathrow and 260 to Gatwick. On the face of it that might seem quite a lot but ten years previously, there were 6,910 flights to Heathrow and 2,870 to Gatwick. The total number of flights has more than halved and dropped by 5,340 flights.  There are flights only from Newcastle now as links with Durham Tees Valley ended over six years ago. The drop cannot be because more people are taking the train because the traveling time by train remains about the same. Is it because of a lack of demand or are people in the north east using Amsterdam as the place to hub for other flights? The answer to that question would be interesting.

Enjoy the rest of the bank holiday weekend.

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