Saturday snippets: 24th December 2016

By | Category: Travel news
outside of the Etihad Museum in Dubai

The new Etihad Museum © Dubai Culture

Holiday in Benidorm next year and you can get free wifi access in some parts such as the Levante Beach, Mirador del Castillo and the city centre, “El Torrejó.” The initiative is part of the city’s commitment to become a ‘smart tourist destination’ and the ultimate goal is to design promotion and recruitment campaigns. How? The wifi access will serve as a tool to understand more about the preferences and behaviours of visitors. You can only access the wifi by registering with the service provider or through Facebook. Then the city will be able to see what you look at and may – in time – tailor promotions and toruist information to you.

Readers will remember Jon Platt, the man who took his children on holiday during term time and then won his case against the Isle of Wight Council. Last June we noted that the council planned to appeal and now they have been given leave to do so. The case will be heard in the first few months of the year so it least it won’t drag out much longer than it already has. Until then parents don’t know whether they can or cannot holiday with their school aged children during term time.

Opening on 7 January 2017, is the large Etihad Museum. Consisting of eight permanent pavilions it tells the story of the founding of the United Arab Emirates and is located next to Union House where the signing of the treaty establishing the UAE took place in 1971. Unlike other museums in Dubai, the design is modern and is supposed to represent the folds of a manuscript with seven columns built to resemble the pens used to sign the original declaration.

Barely had it announced that it was establishing a new base at Stansted than Jet 2 and jet 2 Holidays has said that it will fly a further four routes from the airport making 25 in all. The new destinations are Antalya and Dalaman in Turkey as well as the Greek island of Corfu and Split in Croatia all of which are popular holiday destinations for Brits.

In other airline news, the German low-cost subsidiary of Lufthansa – Eurowings – has announced new routes to Munich. As from next March, Edinburgh, Glasgow and Stansted will have direct links to the Bavarian capital. From March 26 2017, Flybe will link Edinburgh and Aberdeen to Heathrow with up to 18 flights a day on the Edinburgh route and 10 on the Aberdeen one. easyJet has three new routes from Manchester making 50 in all. They are Dubrovnik, Granada in Spain and the Greek coastal town of Preveza.

the Acropolis at night

the Acropoil in Athens

Lots of destinations are repositioning themselves. Athens is no exception and is hoping to convince us that it is a year round destination. Under the slogan, “One City – Never Ending Stories” it showcases the variety of activities to do in the city. It is the brainchild of the Athens Tourism Partnership and the mayor, Giorgos Kaminis, says that Athens has everything it needs to be a popular city break across the calendar, praising the partnership as the first initiative towards this goal.

In the US, two congressmen are planning to have another go at introducing minimum seat sizes. People have grown larger (not necessarily fatter) since seat designations were set decades ago. Citing health and safety reasons, Congressmen Steve Cohen and Adam Kinzinger claim that today’s seats are smaller. If it happens in the US will the EU be far behind in imposing mandatory seat sizes over here?

The independent travel agents’ consortium, Travel Counsellors, says that fewer people are trusting online review sites. In some recent research, only 2% of people said they would trust these sources in comparison to 15% of people who took the same survey six months ago. In both surveys, 30% of people said they prefer to put their faith in a recommendation from a friend or family member, while 62% of those polled in November said that they would trust the word of their travel agent or adviser above anyone else. Travel Counsellors UK boss Kirsten Hughes said, “The advice of a nameless online reviewer is no longer enough.” Is this anything to do with the fact that the leading online review site became a travel agent this year?

montage of New York

Guess where?

When New York celebrates the coming of the new year with its crowds gathering in Times Square on New Year’s Eve, the tourist board can feel a bit smug at having engineering seven continuous years of growth in visitors. It is expected that 60.3 million people will have visited the city by the time 2016 ends and an additional 150,000 jobs have been come about as a result. NYC & Company is targeting 61.8 million visitors in 2017, including a record 13.1 million from overseas. That’s only another 1.5 million people which is about the same as some countries like the Bahamas and Sri Lanka get in a year.

LEGOLAND Florida Resort in Winter Haven opens its new attraction, LEGO NINJAGO World, on January the 12th. It features an interactive dark ride where guests can blast fire, lightning and ice with their hands. Later in the year, more accommodation will open in time for the summer holidays.

In the House of Lords this week, Lady Hayter of Kentish Town asked the government if they would retain EU261 (Delay compensation rights for airline passengers) in Brexit negotiations. The government in the guise of Lord Ahmed merely said that the government “remains committed to putting passengers at the heart of our transport policy and ensuring we have the right regime for passenger rights in place.” So that’s a yes then?

In a mischievous exchange in the Scottish parliament about the Scots government’s plan to cut Air Passenger Duty by 50%, both Labour and Conservatives asked about the carbon emissions that would be emitted by more people flying. The climate change minister, Roseanna Cunningham would only say that they received independent advice from the Committee on Climate Change which said any increase in emissions was “manageable.” Nice passing of the buck there!

interior of the Heineken Experience

the Heineken Experience – the biggest tourist draw in Amsterdam. Image © Heineken

What would you say would be the most visited tourist attraction in Amsterdam? Keukenhof?  The Rijksmuseum? Anne Frank’s House?, Rembrandt’s? The Van Gogh Museum? In a city with so many attractions, the winner in 2016 will be the Heineken Experience with over a million visitors. And guess where is the largest source of overseas visitors? The UK!

Finally, on this Christmas Eve, may I wish all readers a very joyous Christmas and may Storm Barbara have no effect on your travel, holiday or the celebrations you will have.

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