Saturday snippets: 5th November 2016

By | Category: Travel news
dragon head

The dragon at Caerfili Castle this summer

A dragon part buried in the ground has proved to be a big draw at the castles it visited this past summer. The Welsh heritage organisation, Cadw, sent the dragon the road to nine castles – it is currently at Raglan Castle in Monmouthshire – and it seems to have attracted visitors in droves. Cadw says that more than 600,000 people explored Cadw sites between July and September – the highest ever recorded for that quarter – while the dragon was on display. As it has been so successful maybe it should visit other Cadw sites that are pen over the winter and then even more next year.

Elsewhere in Wales as part of this year’s poppy appeal, some thirty buildings such as Llandaff cathedral in Cardiff, Aberystwyth and Conwy castles are being illuminated in red lights in the evenings. Buildings in Leicestershire and Rutland are also adopting red lighting. Last year Scotland lit many of its public buildings red.

Japan announced during the week that it had attracted twenty million visitors for the very time.  And the year still has two months to run.  By 2020 it has ambitious plans to reach twice that number so expect to see travel agents promoting Japan both online and in their shops come January.  They are due to host the Olympic Games in 2020 and that always attracts more visitors but will it be enough to reach 40 million?

Blackpool is another destination that has done well this year. Claimed by some to be the best year in the last thirty, the resort has had the “no vacancies” sign above more hotels and B&B’s than I remember in a long time. It takes a lot to make attractions providers to be cheery about business but in some interviews I heard on Sky this week they were positively happy. Did the rest of the seaside destinations do as well?

ice rink at Natural History Museum

The ice rink © Natural History Museum

The run-down to Christmas has already begun. Supermarkets have had to jockey between Halloween and Christmas items but now that October has gone, Christmas items will crowd the shelves. Attractions haven’t been far behind in lengthening the amount of time given to Christmas activities with the Natural History Museum in London opening their out-door ice rink already. The 950-square-metre (10,225-square-feet) is easy to spot at dusk; it has76,000 fairy lights illuminating it.

Hyde Park isn’t far behind with its Christmas activities. It boasts that it will have the largest outdoor ice rink in the UK and, unlike the rest, their rink surrounds the famed bandstand. They will also have an observation wheel which will take riders up to 60 metres above London, a Christmas market and ice sculptures leading the way to their Magical Ice Kingdom. Finally there will be shows like the Nutcracker on Ice and acrobatic skills being demonstrated by Cirque Beserk.

Across in New York they might have a string of Christmas activities planned but one of the biggest attractions will have nothing to do with the festive celebrations.  At the Grammy Museum in the Seaport district of the city there is The Taylor Swift Experience which, in their words, gives visitors and fans an in-depth look at the multi-platinum-selling artist as a singer, musician, songwriter, entrepreneur and style icon through personal photographs and home videos, interactive experiences, handwritten lyrics of Taylor’s top-charting hits, and iconic performance outfits.

taylor Swift poster

the Taylor Swift exhibition

The first-ever self-guided walking trail to incorporate all of the leading tourist locations and attractions of Nottingham in one guide has been launched. The Nottingham Trail features audio, video and images to share the story of Nottingham’s best-loved landmarks and their fascinating facts.  The trail, which has been created by Experience Nottinghamshire in partnership with Nottingham City Council, is available via a GuidiGo app or hosted online at

From Holiday Hypermarket comes survey results suggesting that a quarter of adults surveyed have an interest in the holiday habits of the rich and famous, with 80%  of those stating that they had actually booked a destination based on a celebrity they liked having been there. Those most influenced had even gone as far as spending extra money on their holidays in order to head to a popular celebrity hotspot. You might think that by “adults” he survey actually means females. The research suggests that men are almost twice as likely to book a holiday where a celebrity has holidayed.

British Airways is launching yet another two long-haul routes. The first will provide Gatwick with a transatlantic flight and will be from there to Oakland which is considered an alternative airport to San Francisco. The second is a direct flight to Muscat in Oman whereas previously flights were via Abu Dhabi. As Oman becomes more of a holiday destination, this new flight will cut the journey time by a50 minutes to just seven and a quarter hours long. The airline has also announced new summer routes from Heathrow to Brindisi, Montpellier, Murcia, Nantes, Pula, Tallinn and Zakynthos. The first services launch on March 28 and tickets are now on sale.

In other airline news, Wizz will fly from Liverpool to the southern Romanian city of Craiova from the end of March 2017 making it the seventh destination from Liverpool, from where it already flies to Warsaw, Gdansk, Katowice, Riga, Budapest and Lublin. Kiss will fly from Luton to Strasbourg, Brest, Rennes  and  Clermont-Ferrand as from Monday.

Monarch has announced that it is cancelling all flight and holiday bookings to Sharm El-Sheikh in Egypt for the foreseeable future. The reason, it says, is because there is no indication from the British Government as to when the airport will re-open to flights from the UK. And to think it was only two years ago when 700,000 of us use to fly there for summer and winter sun holidays!

Abu Dhabi's corniche

the corniche in Abu Dhabi – more Brits are choosing here to holiday

Abu Dhabi will launch a worldwide, multi-media advertising campaign to attract more of us to visit. It will primarily focus on Abu Dhabi’s core markets of the UAE, the wider Middle East, India, China, the UK, Germany and the US. The campaign will coincide with individual countries’ travel booking preferences and periods which means it will run in the UK and Germany straight after New Year a traditionally strong booking period. The idea is to portray Abu Dhabi as a dynamic, family-leisure entertainment destination Also in production are promotional videos, which highlight Abu Dhabi’s tourism, culture, events and cruise experiences.

Finally, next week is when the big travel trade event hits town. The World Travel Market is in London’s Docklands at the Excel Centre. I tell you this so you stay away from the area as 40,000 people descend on the place for three days of had selling destinations to British tour operators and travel agents. At last count, at least seven of our writers will be there looking over potential stories which we think will interest you over the next few months. For example, Indonesia will be trying to get us to take more interest in Mandaklika on the island of Lombok and to consider Bali not just as a beach resort but one where there is a natural beauty and a rich culture. Next week you can expect to see short stories about which countries and destinations will be trying to attract your attention and holiday spend!

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