Saturday snippets: 3rd December 2016

By | Category: Travel news
fireworks over Sydney Harbouir Bridge

New Year’s Eve In Sydney 2014

Yesterday was the first day of summer – in Australia. And the country’s largest city – Sydney – is expecting a bumper number of visitors between December and February. Ten million day and overnight visitors are expected which would be an increase of 800,000 over 2015/2016. Anyone seeking to avoid the cold of the UK – and who wouldn’t after this week – will find that the Christmas and New Year period in the city is quite unlike any elsewhere. Hundreds of thousands come out to see the fireworks heralding the new year and the television pictures are beamed around the world. Many still celebrate Christmas on the beach and, for Boxing Day, turkey re-hashed in some manner is replaced by fish and prawns. The fish market will sell tons in readiness for the day. And did I mention that the weather was likely to be dry, sunny and hot? Guess where I would prefer to be?

Rchmond Va

Richmond is ready for the Christmas festivities

If you prefer the cold for Christmas and have popped up to Lapland and looked at Christmas markets from the Baltic to Italy vis Germany and Austria, then how about Richmond in the US state of Virginia? The image the local tourist board has released looks pretty inviting. Richmond has enough history to keep the buffs happy combining as it does, Civil War links (it was the capital of the Confederacy), an industrial past and both a science and children’s museum. There are the remains of the old Tredegar Iron Works – you can guess there is a Welsh connection here – and the area was on the Native American trade routes. It was also one of the main places where slaves were landed after being brought from West Africa. As you would expect, there is a lot of colonial architecture and the Governor’s mansion is the oldest continuously lived in governor’s mansion in the US having been home to three presidents.

Will Tenerife see 5 million visitors this year?  Up until the end of September, 4,212,827 tourists had travelled there including over 1.55 million Britons and 73,001 Irish. The local tourist authority is forecasting that the number of arrivals from the UK will exceed 2 million in 2016 for the very first time. Of all the arrivals on Tenerife about 40% come from these two countries. By now, Tenerife will have had October figures and a good idea of how November fared. My betting is that they already know that the magic two million will be breached.

Mall of America

Mall of America

On Black Friday, the largest shopping mall in the USA – the Mall of America – said that it had had its busiest day ever. The mall gets quite a lot of shoppers from the UK due to there being direct flights from the UK to Minneapolis and a free bus service from the airport to the mall. Might that be one reason why it is running a Downton Abbey exhibition until the end of January 2017 where you can see 27 different costumes worn by the cast? Or is because of the American’s insatiable love for English costume dramas? Whatever it is, it will cost you $10 to see them if you are heading over to the mall for Christmas shopping.

Experts – and me – forecast that Americans would flock to Cuba. Go now, we said, before it is transformed. That may not happen. American Airlines is cutting capacity from 13 round trip flights a day to ten as from next February. Did they overestimate demand? It cannot be because Donald Trump is wary of a rapprochement between the US and Cuba because people would flock there before he takes office. It is beginning to look a lot like forecasting elsewhere this year. It was wrong

A reminder to readers. The Lascaux Cave in the re-opens on the 15th of December. The cave is one – many would say the most important – of the greatest sights of prehistoric cave paintings anywhere in the world. In a story Reza wrote last year for us he described other caves in the same area. Lascaux is said to be even more stunning.

Macao's Senado Square

Senado Square in Macao with Michelin star restaurants all around

What is it about Macao that is turning chefs into culinary tourism magnets? There are now 19 Michelin star restaurants in an area no bigger than 29 square kilometres. The new Michelin Guide has added three more this year; Lai Heen, Pearl Dragon and Ying have each been awarded one star for their Cantonese offering, whilst Feng Wei Ju, a Hunanese and Sichuan restaurant and Japanese restaurant Mizumi both added a second star. The guide has awarded twelve of Macao’s eateries the Bib Gourmand Award. French contemporary restaurant Robuchon au Dôme, retained their three-star status.

According to online travel agency On the Beach, British travellers prefer a cheaper flight than have items like free food and entertainment included in the airline fare.  That is the spin the company puts on the results but actually 57% would not prefer low fares to food and drink and 60% think airlines shouldn’t drop on-board entertainment in return for cheaper flights. Where food is served, 27% said they would pay more for better quality than the current offerings. I’m not surprised given the unappetising mush that I have been served up on some flights!

From another survey, one commissioned by Millennium Hotels and Resorts from YouGov, comes the suggestion that 66% of Brits who said they are now planning to holiday less in Europe, admitted their decision was affected by the falling pound. For the same reason, 48% of respondents who said that they will holiday more in the UK over the next two years. The survey was obviously carried out before the cold snap this week. Come another bout of cold weather and aggressive marketing by tour operators in January and probably people will yearn for a holiday abroad again regardless of how the pound fares.

Yesterday a new and free exhibition opened at the British Library in London’s Euston Road. They are portraits of Roald Dahl’s characters from his children’s stories. The difference is that these – drawn by his usual illustrator, Quentin Blake, have been especially created to mark the 100th anniversary of the author’s birth. The featured characters in the exhibition include Matilda, Charlie Bucket and the BFG and, being on over the Christmas and New Year period, might be a good morning start to an afternoon panto performance.

RNLI lifeboat

There are three RNLI boats based at Plymouth. Which will Santa use? Image © Plymouth RNLI

If you are in Plymouth tomorrow with children or grandchildren you could take them to the  Royal William Yard Harbour where Santa will arrive by RNLI lifeboat It is to launch the local Christmas fair but  with more than 85 local stalls/ My problem would be trying to explain why Santa’s sled in now a lifeboat. Stil, I am sure some imaginative thinking will get parents out of that sticky situation.

It seems that almost every week, Qatar Airlines announces a new service. This time it is Dublin that is joining the network. As well as being able to hub in Qatar’s base I Doha and then fly on elsewhere, Dublin based passengers (and those in the UK from where Qatar Airlines flies) will be able to fly on some new destinations next year including Canberra, Las Vegas, Rio De Janeiro, Santiago in Chile, Auckland, Chiang Mai in Thailand, Sydney and Adelaide. With the speed which the airline is expanding, there will hardly be an international airport that won’t have a Qatar Airlines flight by the end of the decade! Incidentally, the airline now accepts Apple Pay as well.

Titanic Belfast has been voted ‘World’s Leading Tourist Attraction’ at the World Travel Awards. These awards require entrants to win regional awards before a grand bash that brings destinations, hotels, airlines and other tourist related services from around the world together. Then each is voted on and the organisers say that this year there was one million. Titanic Belfast beat places like Ferrari World in Abu Dhabi, the Las Vegas Strip and Machu Picchu in Peru.

Finally, I couldn’t go without mentioning video retail app YEAY’s ranking of where to obtain the cheapest tattoo. The results reveal that Norwich is most accessible U.K. city to get a tattoo, with 11.82 parlours per 100,000 citizens and an hourly average cost of £53.70 to be inked. This compares to the most affordable city Colombo at £17.65 ($22) per hour and the most expensive city San Francisco at £224.70. In order, the cheapest cities in the UK are Bradford, Norwich, Birmingham, London, Sheffield, Bristol, Liverpool, Glasgow, and Aberdeen.

If you enjoyed this post, please consider subscribing to the RSS feed to have future articles delivered to your feed reader.
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,