Saturday snippets: 15th October 2016

By | Category: Travel news
panoramic view of Newcastle

the exhibition could draw 3 million visitors to Newcastle-Gateshead

Readers will remember that four northern destinations were shortlisted to host the Great Exhibition of the North in 2018. They were Blackpool, Bradford, Newcastle-Gateshead and Sheffield. Is week the winner was announced and it was Newcastle-Gateshead. The purpose of the exhibition is to make people aware of art, design and innovation from the north of England. Given the regeneration of the area since I first visited it in the early 1970’s when it was a completely different place from what it is like today. The vibrant night life and arts scene seemed to me to make it a very strong contender and so it proved to be.

The ten-day long Science Festival returns to Genoa for the fourteenth year from 27th October until 6th of November with various laboratories, shows, conferences, meetings and special events highlighting the wonders of science and technology. This year’s theme is ‘signs’ with over 280 events taking place including a fascinating workshop on the science of fireworks on which is being held on a day well-known to us -Guy Fawkes Day. If fireworks don’t appeal then food might.  The science behind Italy’s famous pizza will attract many and there is also a free scientific treasure hunt across the city. Prices vary but some activities are free. Be aware though that the webist is only in Italian.

image of the statue of liberty

Statue of Liberty taken from the Staten Island ferry

A new, expanded museum at the Statue of Liberty in New York will open in 2019. Why mention it now? Because up until that museum opens about 80% of all the visitors who go there are unable to visit the current one because of security and space constraints. It is a reminder to all of you who might be visiting New York over the next few years to plan and book ahead or turn up early in the morning if you want to visit. Entry to the museum will be included in the price of the ferry to Liberty Island and Ellis Island.

A week or so ago, an independent study suggested that air pollution levels at Heathrow might not be as much of a sticking point to the expansion of Heathrow as was thought. Gatwick has responded with a new report that claims 19 of the 26 separate monitoring sites around Heathrow are up to 60% higher than permitted. It also says that the extra construction traffic that a go-ahead would bring would increase pollution levels as well. That seems indisputable given that vehicle costs are the largest local polluters. The tit-for-tat will continue as long as a decision hasn’t made although Gatwick says that it will go-ahead with plans for a new runway whatever the decision by the government.

If you were thinking of a holiday in Tunisia next year, you won’t be able to go with Thomas Cook. They have decided to omit it from their holiday program despite not knowing when the British government will change its travel advice . That such a large tour operator is pulling out – at least for another year – will not be good news for the beleaguered organisations that rely on tourism in Tunisia.  When the advice alters to more positive news from the Foreign Office expect a spate of tempting offers.

Glenfinnan viaduct

as Harry Potter fans may think of the area in Glenfinnan.

The National Trust for Scotland has announced the completion of a major restoration project at Glenfinnan Monument. Standing at the head of Loch Shiel, , the monument is topped by a statue of a Highlander and is a symbol of the Jacobite Rising that began there in 1745 and ended in disaster the following year at Battle of Culloden. Today, non-Scots might consider it more in conjunction with the Harry Potter films as the sight of the 21-arched Glenfinnan viaduct, which features prominently in the films

The Canadian city of Montreal is having a bumper year and expects to see ten million visitors during this year, the highest it will ever have seen. Obviously Americans make up the largest number of overseas visitors and the French are the leading visitors from Europe. As for Brits, they still tend to visit other cities as we don’t have as many direct flights to Montreal as there are to Toronto for example. That’s a pity as Montreal is very different from other cities in Canada and more than justifies a visit. Next year the city celebrates its 375th birthday with 175 events planned for the anniversary making an ideal time to visit.

One place that the British do visit is Greece and, this year, some 1.7 million plus will have visited the country which marks an increase greater then 5%. Obviously it is is seen as a safer prospect than some places in the world and that is why there is such an increase. Who wouldn’t bet on a big increase next year so holidaymakers might see an increase in prices as demand for accommodation tightens. And that will be heightened by the slump of the pound against the euro where a decline – at the time of writing – of about 20% has been seen since Brexit.

Sri Lanka Tourism is another country doing well. There were 1.8 million arrivals in 2015, an increase of 17.8 per cent over 2014 and the UK accounts for 9% of arrivals. We are the third largest source market behind India and China with 161,845 visitors in 2015, 12.26% up on 2014. The national tourist board is over later this month with a road show for travel agents so expect to see promotions in high street windows encouraging us to look at the country as a winter sun destination.

cabin door

the easyjet cabin door in Shoreditch

If you happen to be wandering through Shoreditch in London this weekend, don’t be surprised if you spot and easyJet aeroplane door at the N&C showrooms in the High Street. It is all part of a promotion between easyJet and the Netherlands Board of Tourism & Conventions. Behind the door is an installation which provides, according to the press release, “a show-stopping, immersive experience designed to inspire people to travel.” Until the end of today, passers-by can have a guide through contemporary Holland guided by a full cast of live actors. Those unable to get there during the two days will still be able to see it via a 360 film – produced using the latest technology to capture immersive footage of the activation – and chance to win their very own Why Not? Adventure.

For those holidaying in Thailand over the next month and year, expect to see a downturn in the amount of exuberant entertainment. As readers will know the country is in mourning for the next year in repect of the death of their king, King Bhumibol. It is hard for those living outside Thailand to imagine the impact that the king has had on the country and the gap that many feel in the lives with his passing. Consquently, visitors to the country will be expected to show some respect and there will be less nightlife available. At present, televison is being transmitted in only black and white and the tourism website is the same.

Finally, it was announced thaat Monarch had raised sufficient capital so that it could renew its ATOL licence until the end of September 2017. It means that anyone booking with the airline and holiday company is likely to be covered by the bond in the event of the collapse of the company. At the ABTA meeting this week the CEO, Andrew Swaffield, went out of his way to thank the travel trade for their suport but he did mention that there had been a downturn in sales. Obviously potential customers were wary with booking until the future of the company had been settled.

PS. If you have a Samsung Galaxy Note 7, US authorities have banned you from taking it on a plane to and from the country either in hold baggage or as hand luggage. Leve it at home unless you want to run the risk of it being confiscated. So far no annoucements have been made about taking the mobile on trips elsewhere. Singapore Airlines, Qantas, Virgin Australia, Air Berlin and Dragonair are airlines that have prohibited the mobile being taken on board their planes

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