Saturday snippets: 14th January 2017

By | Category: Travel news

Skiers in Europe should have plenty of snow this weekend and more is forecast

Whilst snow may be causing some problems in the UK, the lack of it in European ski resorts has had ski fans concerned. They should be happier now as snow has fallen in considerable amounts and is forecast to continue to do so over the next week. The snow making machines can now be garaged.  But it is in the US and Canada where the abundant snow has fallen making it one of the best starts to the ski season in North America.

Yesterday, Hull’s Ferens art gallery reopened after a fifteen month closure so that improvements to lighting and climate control could be introduced. To kick-off the re-opening in this year when Hull is UK capital of culture, the Ferens has an exhibition of renaissance paintings including the only painting in the UK by Pietro Lorenzetti which it bought a few years ago and which has been restored by the National Gallery. Later this year there will be an exhibition of paintings from the Royal Collection and the Ferens will also be the location for the Turner Prize announcement this year.

Following the museum theme, Los Angeles has been chosen as the location for the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art. In case you haven’t grasped it, this is the museum that will store the filmmaker George Lucas’s personal collection of memorabilia from his Star Wars  films as well other films and his photographic and art collection. But don’t rush to get to LA to see it; it won’t open until May 2020.

image of Stonehenge

Stonehenge – the well-known disused Southern rail station!

On The News Quiz on BBC Radio 4 yesterday, the final question concerned the proposed tunnel under Stonehenge. This tourist magnet attracts a lot of traffic to the A303 so that snarl- ups are regular occurrences and the tunnel would alleviate that. The panellists managed to link Stonehenge to the Southern rail service and wondered whether a tunnel between Brighton and London might be the answer to the year old industrial strife. But, to the age old question of what Stonehenge was for, nobody suggested that Stonehenge was actually a disused branch line and station of  Southern  – disused because no service had been seen in living memory. Just like Brighton then!

In the realms of surprising results, a survey from Parkat – a company that compares car parking options at every UK airport in real time – says that the greatest fear of holidaymakers is catching diarrhoea. Yet only 31% worried about losing documents like passports. Who on earth did the survey company question to find this outdated view of what holidaying abroad is like?  The company suggests that one way “to completely avoid an upset stomach while abroad is to eat canned food.” So that is what takes up so much luggage space!

Arriva Trains Wales has reintroduced its Club 55 scheme for the winter. To remind readers, this is a promotion whereby those aged 55 and over can travel for a set fare across a rail company’s network. The promotion runs until February 25th and costs £26 return for standard class. Remember to check that the normal fare won’t cost you less. The big advantage? You can walk up on the day or the train and get the same rate so you don’t have to plan ahead. The downside? You can’t travel anywhere before 9.30am. GWR have a sale with 400,000 tickets discounted so that you pay £5, £10 or £15. The sale lasts until January 25th for travel up to 24th of March.

Up until a few years ago, airport lounges had largely been for business or first class passengers or those who had thousands of frequent flyer points. Then some lounges began to be subscription based but but they still weren’t really for everyone. Virgin Holidays has unveiled its new V-Room lounge (for only their customers) at Gatwick’s north terminal and that is designed to be family friendly. The room is split into a number of sections, including an entertainment area where customers can practice their driving skills in the Forza racing car sled, take part in a kids vs adults table football or Xbox Kinect games. Pre-booked visitors can pay from GB£20 (children are £12 and infants free) to have a drink, enjoy a breakfast  (it won’t be long before breakfasts cost that at some restaurants at Gatwick) and use the lounge’s interactive games. For visitors who haven’t pre-booked, access costs from GB£22 on the day/£14 for children.

family running on beach

Listen to you children will give a happier holiday

Listening to your children is the best way to guarantee a relaxing holiday claims Villa Plus, the online holiday booking company. After surveying 1,000 British children aged 4-11 they found that 24% said their parents don’t even ask them where they would like to go on holiday, and almost 46% have been snubbed when they’ve made a suggestion. The company says that ignoring your children’s holiday requests at the time of booking can ruin a family holiday, with over 40% of the kids sulking or arguing with parents if they don’t get their own way while on holiday. Imagine what the figures might have been like if they had surveyed teenagers? They certainly wouldn’t have found that 84% of teenagers enjoy holidays because they can spend more time with their families as 4-11 year olds claimed.

In 2014-15 (the latest period for which figures are available) the number of people employed in the tourist industry in Scotland grew by 11%. In the UK as a whole, the growth figure is 4% so in Scotland, the growth was nearly three times the UK average. Tourism now accounts for 9% of the workforce. In parts of Scotland it is much greater than 9%. In Argyll and Bute it is closer to 20% and in the Highlands and Perth and Kinross it is 14%. Given the weakness of the pound, tourism might have another good year in Scotland.

Staying in Scotland both Edinburgh and Glasgow airports have reported an increase in passenger numbers for last year. Edinburgh saw 12.4 million passengers – an increase of more than 11% on 2015. Glasgow had 9.4 million passengers, an increase of 7.5%. Aberdeen seems to be still suffering from the downturn in the oil industry. It had a 12.2% decrease in the number of passengers to 1.3 million. Inverness Airport saw an increase of over 17% to 796,854 passengers in 2016 although numbers dropped at Wick, John O’Groats, Stornoway and Cambelltown airports


Gatwick had a bumper year as did many airports

Elsewhere, Manchester handled 25.6 million passengers last year and Stansted 23.8 million. Belfast International saw growth of 17.2% which amounts to about 5.15 million passengers and it hopes to hit 5.4 million in 2017. Cardiff Airport has seen a 16% rise in passengers in the last year with more than 1.3 million people travelling.  Gatwick has increased its lead as the world’s most efficient single-runway airport – with 43 million passengers travelling through the airport each year. London City Airport also had  a good year, in fact the best in its thirty year history seeing 4,526,059 passengers going through its doors –  a 5% increase over 2015. It all suggests that more of us holidayed abroad last year despite Brexit and safety concerns in some countries. It seems to prove once again that the holiday is almost sacrosanct for the British!

Finally, there is news that the digital doctor service, Push Doctor,  has partnered with STA Travel to provide policy holders access to video GP consultations with a UK based GP. Travellers can use the video consultation service from anywhere in the world. The service is provided by over 7,000 GP’s and operates from 7am to 10pm GMT, seven days a week, 365 days a year. The company says that policy holders will be able to access a doctor in just six minutes on any mobile device and travellers can seek expert medical advice on anything from bites and stings, to stomach and digestion issues. Where necessary, patients can also receive prescriptions and referral letters through the service, which can be picked up from a local pharmacy upon return to the UK or receive advice on treatment in their current location. Any chance of Push Doctor running our local medical practice where it can take days to get an appointment and which nearly closed because it couldn’t attract GP’s?

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