Saturday snippets: 24th September 2016

By | Category: Travel news
North wales landscape

More visitors to North Wales

Most of us were aware that this summer was going to be a bumper year for holidaying at home and apocryphal comments seem to show it has indeed been a bumper summer. From the Welsh government comes its latest Wales Tourism Barometer which gives some official credit to the idea. Its survey suggests that 46% of businesses surveyed said that they had more visitors than last summer, and more than a third (38%) have received the same level. Only a minority (16%) report being down. Caravan and campsites seem to have been the most successful in attracting visitors with two-thirds saying they saw more visitors compared to summer. The Office for National Statistics, which has also just released statistics shows that it was a record July for inbound visits from EU countries, the UK’s largest visit-generating region, with 2.3 million visits, 3% up on last year.

The outdoor accommodation specialist, Pitchup.com reported a huge increase(272%) in sales year-on-year prompted by the September heatwave, as city dwellers flock to the countryside to enjoy the last of the summer sun which also suggests it has been a good year for staycations. This year it wasn’t the south-west of England that saw booming times; Derbyshire, North Yorkshire, Worcestershire, East Anglia and Berkshire also recorded good growth which, the company puts down to the hot September weather.

If you are in London today, it is the last chance to sail underneath Waterloo Bridge as it is lit up to render it as Ladies Bridge. There will be live performances and large scale photographic projections to celebrate the 24,000 female construction workers who re-built the bridge during WWII. At Somerset House in the Strand, there is The Singing Bridge, a newly commissioned sound work for Waterloo Bridge by Claudia Molitor and which runs until Sunday. Finally, until next Friday, the River Thames will be home to a major light installation called Floating Dreams from the South Korean artist, Ik-Joong Kang. Constructed from 500 drawings and illuminated from within, passengers can brighten up their evenings and get close to the three-storey-high lantern structure as it sits in the centre of the river by the Millennium Bridge, near Bankside pier.

cliffs in Hawaii

there is more to Hawaii than just beaches and if Hawaiian Airlines opens a link, more of us will find it easier to travel there.

The chief executive of Hawaiian Airlines, Mark Dunkerley, was in London this week. The airline has ordered some long range airlines for delivery starting 2019 and these may be capable of flying the 15 hour route from Hawaii to London without the need for refuelling. Dunkerley said that flying to Europe was of interest but no decision would be made for some time. If the airline did decide on a route to London that would be a boost to tourism from the UK since, at present, visitors need to change planes at least once and transit times can be long meaning at least two days (there and back) and lost from a holiday. The fastest time at present is 18 and 3/4 hours and most are 20-23. And if the flight was an evening one from the UK meaning you could sleep through the night rather than wasting daylight hours so that it landed in the morning Hawaii time, the airline could be on to a winner.

It was nearly five years ago that Plymouth Airport closed. Since that time a campaign group, FlyPlymouth, has been working to get the airport re-opened. Its first success came when it persuaded the local council to safeguard the airport in the Draft Plymouth Plan for aviation use between now and 2031. A petition gathered 38,000 signatures and now the group is trying to raise £75,000 through crowdfunding in order to pay for legal advice and operational costs. Will it be enough to persuade airlines and those with an entrepreneurial spirit that the airport could be viable? Only time will tell.

A bird's eye view of Euopapark © Vogel

A bird’s eye view of Euopapark © Vogel

Yet again, Europa Park in Germany has been awarded the title of ‘Best Amusement Park Worldwide’ for this year. I write “yet again” because it won in 2014 and 2015. The title is judged by experts in the international amusement industry and is run by the American magazine, Amusement Today. The questions that need to be answered are why can an amusement park in Germany that is little known in the UK beat such huge combines as Disney and Universal and, secondly, why don’t British theme parks do very well. Europa Park is promoting itself more widely in the UK and, combined with the fact that more Brits are visiting Germany, visitors holidaying at the park must rise over the next few years.

Many had though that the British government would have altered its advice on travelling to Tunisia by now and tourists would begin holidaying there. That change of advice probably won’t alter for a while since the country has extended its state of emergency for another month. British and Tunisian security officials have been taking about what measures could be put in place but will they be enough to persuade the UK government to change its ways?  The next move is up to the Tunisians.

In a similar situation, a friend has just holidayed in Marmaris which is in the Turquoise coast in Turkey. There were no British or Irish tourists that he could see just Ukrainians and Bulgarians. Many of the hotels except the biggest and plushest near the marinas were doing poor business. Inland, restaurants and shops were closing despite the fact that it is September and the temperature is still in the high twenties or early thirties. More than eighteen different UK airports were linked with Dalaman before the security issues and flights were often full. The advice from the Foreign Office and the Irish Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade is largely the same. Stay away from demonstrations, be cautious, don’t go the eastern border area with Syria but elsewhere, it is as safe as one can ever know. And that includes Marmaris. But holidaymakers from Britain and Ireland are wary despite the cheap holiday offers. What will it take to persuade them to holiday again in Turkey?

Egypt. Once flights resume, there is no reason not to travel to Sharm.

Egypt. Once flights resume, the empty spaces may be filled again

Sir Gerald Howarth MP, the chairman of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Egypt has called on the British Government to take a swift decision on lifting the ban on flights to Sharm el-Sheikh. It came as a result of a trip to Sharm by four members of the group and a view from the Department of Transport that suggested they saw no reason why flights should recommence.

Getting through an airport can take time. Bottlenecks occur quickly but how often do airport staff arrive to unblock those delays? Edinburgh Airport is installing a new system called BlipTrack which, according to the developers will help the airport to measure and efficiently handle passenger numbers by providing detailed information about queue times and how travellers move around the airport. Information from the system is supposed to enable the airport to respond promptly and effectively if lines are becoming congested. It will also display waiting times on signs in the airport and on its website so letting passengers what they will be facing. Do let Just about Travel know if you think the queues diminish.

Finally, in Northern Ireland there was a debate in Stormont on rail services connecting the two Belfast airports to the city centre. Readers who have flown in or out of Belfast will know that there is no rail connection just a bus service.  Amidst the talk, Steve Aiken – MLA for South Antrim – raised an issue that many people have in Northern Ireland. What is the priority of Tourism Ireland which is the tourism promotion body for the whole of Ireland?  Aiken claimed that “…it is of concern that Tourism Ireland, to which Northern Ireland contributes over a third of its budget, actively promotes Dublin Airport as the gateway to Ireland.” He also claimed that “the fully state-aided and state-supported edifice that is Dublin Airport  “was providing unfair competition to Belfast International.

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