Saturday snippets: 6th of August 2016

By | Category: Travel news
Rio de Janeiro

Rio de Janeiro

The two big events of August – the Olympics and  Edinburgh  which includes the Fringe and the International Festival have started. Whilst millions will watch the events of Rio around the world, fewer will watch the Fringe on TV, it not having quite the same appeal, Or does it? About 500,000 will attend the Fringe but how many will actually visit Rio for the Games? The ICO estimates that 480,000 will travel to Rio. In terms of value for money, which would you put your money on? Only tell will tell if the Rio legacy continues to attract visitors to Brazil after the games close for the final time. The Brazilian Central Bank is estimating that the Games will bring in an extra $200 million. And that is just a wee bit more than the Fringe  and the International Festival will bring to Edinburgh.

Undoubtedly the big news of the week is that jousting will not be an Olympic sport in the 2020 Olympic Games to be held in Tokyo. Judo, climbing, baseball/ softball, surfing and skateboarding have been selected so the chamions at recent jousting tournaments will just have to keep their lances sharpened for another day. Meanwhile there are mediaeval tourneys coming up at Warwick and Rochester castles in the next few weeks as summer outdoor events get in full swing.

The Spanish city of Valencia has introduced day tours from the city centre. There is a different one each day of the week including Sunday and all start at 10am from the tourist office in Plaza del Ayuntamiento (City Hall Square). Tours include the Roman castle of Sagunto, the Iberian archaeological remains in Lliria, the wine cellars of Requena or the Moors and Christians festival in Ontinyent  You might think that  at €35 for adults and €15 for children it is expensive but that price does include a lunch and transport as well as the guided tour.

Yorkie - © Dominic Martin

Yorkie – © Dominic Martin

In Yorkshire they are just about ready to continue their promotion of the area as a tourist destination having found a star to front their promotions. Step forward Yorkie, a dog which, yes, just happens to be a Yorkshire Terrier. Available on YouTube, Yorkie will travel “on an unhurried adventure around York and North Yorkshire.” Claimed to be the first travelogue hosted by a dog, Yorkie concentrates on things that will interest humans and not just dogs including, for example, a trip to a chocolate factory. The question is will we now see other animal hosts? Will a West Highland terrier guide us around the Hebrides, a Barbados Black Belly Sheep take us around the Caribbean or a Port Jackson Shark guide us around the delights of Sydney in Australia?

In Italy, as in many European countries, there is an express rail service as well as the more usual one. The high-speed service is called Freccerosse and has been limited to certain cities. Now five more cities have been added, Matera, Potenza, L’Aquila, Perugia and Siena, A bus service called Freccialink  will link with the train stations in the main cities served by Frecciarossa. There will be 4 bus services per day (2 outgoing and 2 inbound) to and from these cities and Bologna, Milan, Roma, Naples, Salerno, Padua and Venice. Incidentally, children under 15 travel can travel free on Freccerosse and inter-city trains in Italy and on some services on Saturdays, two adults can travel for the price of one. Check which ones on the Trenitalia website

Disruptive airline passengers, largely due to drunkenness, have been in the news recently as the government civil aviation minister, Lord Ahmed, has announced that he is looking at the issue. Earlier I wrote that Jet2 has been at the forefront of airlines in trying to tackle the causes. It has announced that it is banning the sale of alcohol on its flights before 8am. This policy will start from next Monday, 8 August 2016 across all its bases. It also says that it wants fully sealed bags for alcohol purchased in airports to prohibit the illegal consumption of personal alcohol before and during flights.

If you are holidaying France this summer and planning on attending certain events check in advance that they are still on. Destinations that cannot provide tighter security have been told by the French authorities to cancel large events.In some places like Cannes and Nice, backpacks have been banned and you can expect to have bags randomly searched so I have been told.

Corfu - Brits weren't put off by the Brexit vote from booking last-minute holidays

Corfu – Brits weren’t put off by the Brexit vote from booking last-minute holidays

Greece has been wondering how tourism numbers will go this year and how the Brits will respond after Brexit. This week the head of the Association of Greek Tourism Enterprises, said that the initial data from Athens, Heraklion and Corfu airports suggest that late bookings had increased substantially. There has been a rise in visitors from the top four important countries which includes the UK. Corfu saw a 13.5% rise and Rhodes, 10.6 so it looks as though some Brits saw out the referendum and decided to holiday. Brexit doesn’t seem to have dissuaded them from holidaying abroad. Will other holiday destinations record something similar when their figures are available?

Luxembourg also announced that it had seen a good start to the tourism year with increased visitor numbers at some of its major attractions such as the casements and MUDAM. Overnight stays in the leisure tourism sector (as opposed to business stays) grew by 6.6%. It will also change its accommodation rating system shortly when it will become standardised.

The country that is really seeing a tourist flood is Cuba. The tourism ministry said this week that numbers are up by 12% and this will only grow now that US airlines are establishing routes. Its not all good news. Queues to get through the airport in Havana have grown as the airport hasn’t expanded to take care of this additional demand. Change is on the way as the same company that operates airports in Paris will run the airport but no date has been announced for the handover.  the Cuban economy has been in the doldrums this year so every tourist  bit of cash is useful. But until until expansion occurs at the airport and the infrastructure increases to meet this demand, holidaymakers will just have to get used to all the tourists that are queuing and  wanting to see the country.

Apparently our biggest tour operator, TUI – owners of Thomson, First Choice, Crystal, JWT and Falcon  – have something they call the Holiday Lab. Sounding as though they experiment on holidaymakers that’s not too far from the truth as it is tasked with developine new technology backed ideas to entice us to book with them. So far it has led to an app containing videos of their holiday destinations but nothing to suggest that the experiment has come up with the perfect holiday yet!

Tanzania - the land of Kilimanjaro... and tourism VAT

Tanzania – the land of Kilimanjaro… and tourism VAT

If you have booked a safari in Tanzania or a holiday at all in the country then be prepared to pay more. Last month the government introduced VAT at a rate of 18% on tourism services. The government says that it won’t affect tourism numbers. Local tourism industries aren’t so sure and are mulling over whether to charge it across to those that have already booked. New bookings are likely to go up to comensate local tour operators, attractions, accommodation providers and guides for the additional cost

Does the sight of an onshore wind farm deter you from holidaying in an area? In a study of Scotland by BiGGAR Economics this week, they say that it has little if any effect. It says that “there is no relationship between the development of onshore wind farms and tourism employment at the level of the Scottish economy, at local authority level nor in the areas immediately surrounding wind farm development.” It also says that “at the local authority level, the development of onshore wind energy does not have a detrimental impact on the tourism sector.” But will they become as loved as old-fashioned windmills?

Finally, passengers using Gatwick next week are warned that the unending disagreement between Southern and the RMT rail union continues. This time it is a strike lasting from Monday to Friday and yet another timetable will operate. There will be less disruption to the Gatwick Express than to Southern but check in advance and be prepared to allow extra time to get to your flight.  And guess what? Aslef (train drivers) are being balloted about strike action due to the new timetable changes. The ther rail union, TSSA is balloting its members about closures Can nothing go right for long-suffering Southern and Gatwick Express users? The good news is that the planned strikes on ScotRail have been suspended to allow for more talks to take place so passengers using Prestwick and railstations such as Paisley (for Glasgow Airport) should be OK.

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