Saturday snippets: 25th of June 2016

By | Category: Travel news
Time for a trip to Tenerife?

Tenerife.

It was quite a day yesterday. Travel companies were bemoaning life. The parent company of BA said profits would dip 20%; Ryanair said it might downsize and Bmi Regional siad it might relocate outside the UK. It sounds as though they all thought we would vote to remain and hadn’t planned for the alternative.

Over 800,000 UK visitors travelled to Tenerife in the first five months of 2016, an increase of 20.8% on the previous year. This means that 34% of all visitors to Tenerife come from the United Kingdom, which is also has the highest levels of repeat visitors to the island. From Ireland there was a 9% increase in 2015. In total, the island welcomed 5,186,307 worldwide visitors in 2015, the highest figure since 2008. The South East of England and Scotland were the parts of the UK that sent the most visitors to Tenerife.  Given the dependence of the Canaries on British visitors, I would have thought that the tourist authorities would want to make it as easy to travel there after Brexit as it is now.

As many readers will know, Tate Modern in London opened a new extension called the Switch House less than a fortnight ago. It increases the space by 60% and proved to be so attractive to visitors that the number of visitors doubled in that opening weekend. In all 143,000 people trooped through the doors which is more than some attractions get in a year. One of the attractions, albeit not an artistic one, is that there are some terrific views of London from the top of Switch House.

Before those games in Rio de Janeiro, there are the World Eskimo-Indian Olympic Games taking place in Fairbanks, Alaska from July 20-23.  A four-day series of traditional Alaska Native athletic competitions and dances, these games draw Native athletes and dancers from all over the United States, Canada and Greenland, as well as visitors from around the globe. It is also a time to don parkas, moose hide dresses and vests, mukluks and moccasins to compete in parka and Indian dress contests, and to dance and tell stories through songs and motion. WEIO provides visitors the rare chance to experience a culture alongside those who live within it.

If you visit, you get threefor the price of one because happening at the same time, and also in Fairbanks, are the Golden Days and the Summer Arts Festival. That’s when residents cut loose in honour of their Gold Rush history during a five-day festival, which includes costume contests, Alaska’s largest parade, foot races and a BBQ cook-off. Most of the events are held in Pioneer Park, just along the Chena River. Many organizations host events in conjunction with Golden Days so pick up a copy of the event’s listings when you arrive. The Fairbanks Summer Arts Festival takes place July 17–31, on the University of Alaska Fairbanks campus. The festivities, which began as a small jazz festival, now attract visitors worldwide for American roots and other music, dance, literary, healing, visual and culinary arts. There are dozens of performances throughout the two weeks of Festival, many of them free.

In another American city, Hannibal in Missouri, they celebrate National Tom Sawyer Day on July 4th. Hannibal is Mark Twain’s home town and it was here that he wrote Tom Sawyer and many of his other books. Over the July 4th weekend,  100,000 people turn out for the festivities with a small-town parade, fireworks, fence-painting contests (read the novel again to know why) and the crowning of the town’s new Tom Sawyer and Becky Thatcher, a competition among local 7th graders (12- to 13-year-olds) since the 1950s.

Croatia- appealing to more and more of us as a holiday destination

Croatia- appealing to more and more of us as a holiday destination

For a time I wrote that I always had a Croatia story to run. In the last few months it has not been the case but the country has come back with news of a massive increase in the number of visitor numbers from UK shores.  Overnight stays have risen by more than a third so far this year and in the first four months, 28,080 of us visited Croatia. Croatia’s coastal regions remain the most popular destinations. During the same period, the Adriatic regions of Croatia recorded 935,445 tourist arrivals, which means 69.2 per cent of all visitors went to the coastal regions. Istria was the most popular destination in the Adriatic, receiving 295,094 tourist arrivals. Coming in second was continental Croatia which attracted 415,855 tourists. The country’s capital, Zagreb, placed third with 251,094 tourist arrivals.

Cruising has become a very important industry to ports in the UK. The Cruise Lines International Association estimates that it is worth £2.58 billion a year to the UK economy, Southampton has maintained its position as the number one embarkation and disembarkation port in Northern Europe, with a total of 1.75 million passengers passing through in it 2015. In total over one million UK and international passengers visited a British port during a cruise, a figure that has more than doubled in six years.

It is not Just about Travel’s usual policy to mention hotels unless they are special an dmost hotels aren’t but it is hard not to mention The Arch London, a luxury hotel based in central London. Why? Because it is one of the few hotels in London, indeed one of the very few in central London (it is in Marble Arch) that accepts dogs. Not only will it accept them but there is a dog walking service that takes them to nearby Hyde Park.

In the Northern Ireland Assembly this week Iain Milne asked about the effect of 20% VAT on tourism. The Minister for Finance, Máirtín Ó Muilleoir, replied that it was “a tax on tourism and a burden on hospitality. If you want to see how to do it right, you can see what they did down south, where they reduced the hospitality rate to 9%. Tourism has created more jobs south of the border in the last four years than any other sector. Unfortunately, European rules — I hope that they are still there on Friday — do not allow a state to have a different rate of VAT within a region. That said, it is my intention that we should control all these levers.”  This view is in common with elected officials in Scotland, Wales and many parts of England. Will the Chancellor take up the cause as well?

The Sydney Opera House, one must-see if you win the Qantas competition?

The Sydney Opera House, one must-see if you win the Qantas competition?

Qantas has been linking Australia with Heathrow for 70 years. To celebrate the airline is offering 70 people the chance to win what it calls ‘The Ultimate Trip’: a five-night stay in Sydney.  Qantas invites travellers to share their favourite Heathrow memory  to be in with a chance to win one of the 35 pairs of tickets available.. Entrants can upload their story at stories.heathrow.com. The trip will be in May 2017 but the itinerary won’t be known until it is revealed on Australia Day 2017 as part of the airline’s Australia Day celebrations. If you are entering, read the T&C’s first. This competition is only open to UK residents.

After two years, the dispute that has resulted in the different national museums closing at weekends in Wales looks to be over. A new pay offer has been recommended by the union involved so weekend visiting should be on the cards soon.

Finally, in airline news, Monarch has already announced plans for the coming winter season. It will be providing new routes from Birmingham to Innsbruck and Turin will be served by flights both from Gatwick and Manchester. In addition it has increased the number of seats on other flight to popular winter snow and sun destinations. easyJet has also announced that for next winter, it will link Luton with Lanzarote and Tenerife in the Canary islands as well as Toulouse in France. Flybe has a sale on at he moment which, unlike many, includes flights that cover the Christmas period. Tickets in the sale cover the period from 12th of July until the 25th of March next year.

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