Saturday snippets: 21st January 2017

By | Category: Travel news
tunisian stand at Manchester Destinations show

the Tunisian stand at Destinations – under seige by potential holidaymakers?

Yesterday I was in Manchester at the combined Destinations Show and Caravan & Motorhome Show. At eleven in the morning it was busy and the Tunisians must have felt a little bit happier with the world since when I saw their stand it was as busy as though it was the most popular destination around. Sadly that still isn’t the case as the Foreign Office travel advice is still against travelling there. Completely unlike the attitude of the Russians whose numbers are up 1,000% over 2015.

The biggest  show was that part given over to the caravan and motorhome side. At least ten times bigger than the traditional holiday side, it also seemed the busier and no wonder. there were over 200 heicles or stands.  Since my caravanning days, some of them are looking more luxurious than my kitchen and bathroom at home!

A steel band from Tobago was enlivening the morning when one band member spurred audience members to come and have a go at playing. Four or five girls did and I realised that playing a steel drum was a little bit more difficult than just tapping it with a stick!

Over at the stand of the Capital Region – the tourism area that looks after, among other things, Washington DC there was talk of the Trump inauguration. With over 900,000 visitors expected in the capital city made up of supporters and opponents, world-wide television and social media coverage this opportunity to present the tourist potential of the city is high.

On the Sri Lanka stand they were happy to tell me that at least 185,000 Brits had travelled there in 2016 and when final figures came out, they hoped it would be higher. This from  a country that, after the internal issues ended managed just 30,000 visitors from the UK despite the strong ties that exist between the two countries.

The most popular question asked at the Kennedy Space Center at Cape Canaveral in the USA is how do astronauts go to the toilet?   At our own National Space Centre in Leicestershire that question is answered over half term as they present the world of space gastronomy, including what we eat and how the human body deals with eating, digesting and expelling waste in space! They call this “a bumper half term period dedicated to bogies, bums, trumps and burps… the science of all the gross stuff our bodies do in space!”

hoardings at Piccadilly Circus, London

The glitzy promotions hoardings in Piccadilly Circus have gone

Piccadilly Circus in London isn’t the same as the moment. The glitzy advertising hoardings that flash their promotional messages are gone and the whole area is black as they rip the old hoarding system out and replace it with new screens. But it isn’t the Piccadilly that tourists know. A couple of tourists were heard to mutter that they thought Piccadilly was more colourful than this. They’ll just have to wait a couple of months.

The Spanish city of Valencia will open a new cycle route this year. Unlike many cycle routes – and Valencia has a number in the inner part of the city – this is a twenty kilometre ring road around the city. It follows the inner ring round enabling cyclists to get into the suburbs more safely as they won’t be competing with cars for the same road space. The city has also been named the World’s Food Capital 2017 by the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation. Why Valencia? Partly because of the huerta, the 10,000-hectare market garden that surrounds the city.

Could it be that there will be another staycation year ahead of us? One of the big operators in the holiday cottage rental agency market, Sykes Cottages, says that Brits “rushed to book holidays to beat the Blue Monday gloom” reporting a 121% increase in bookings last Monday compared to an average Monday and that bookings are up by 20% already. Coastal destinations such as Cornwall, Isle of Wight and Pembrokeshire proved to be popular choices and a third of bookings included a dog.

The Millen ium "bean" in Chicago

Chicago reflected in the bean. It can now reflect in enticing more tourists to visit the city

Visitors to Chicago in 2016 reached 54.1 million – a new record and a 2.9% increase over the previous year’s record performance. The increase of 1.5 million visitors moves the city closer to its goal of 55 million visitors. In 2016 tourism in Chicago generated $911 million in total tax revenue, $2.28 billion in hotel revenue and $127.3 million in hotel taxes. It isn’t only the architecture and the vibrancy of the city that captures visitor’s attention. In  March it is the 170th annual Chicago Flower and Garden Show and there aren’t that many flower shows that go back that far.

While many European ski areas have had very little snow except at the highest points until the last couple of weeks, the opposite has been true for the ski areas of the US state of Utah. So far this winter season, Park City has received over 500 centimetres of powder snow. This destination is about 35 minutes by car from Salt Lake City airport which has a direct Delta flight from Heathrow. You might think of not going there for the next two weeks since this is where the Sundance Film Festival is held but, apparently, film buffs don’t gravitate to the ski slopes so they tend to be deserted. The only problem is finding accommodation so don’t just turn up and hope that you will find a bed for the night. Or you could wait until the end of the month when the filmgoers leave.

ABTA claims there has been a sharp rise in sickness claims by holidaymakers. It believes the rise in claims coincided with changes in the law in 2012 which limits legal costs in other sectors, such as motor insurance, which has made cases like whiplash claims less profitable for claims companies. Instead, it says, these companies have turned their efforts to holiday sickness claims as a way of making money. It says that Spanish hoteliers have also identified a rise in claims and believe many of them are false, particularly where customers involved have not reported any illness or sought medical attention whilst in resort.

Welford Hall in Berkshire, most famous as the location for the Great British Bake Off tent, is home to one of the biggest displays of snowdrops  which, some believe, were planted by the Norman monks to decorate their Church for the feast of Candlemas, and also for medicinal use. The Snowdrop Garden opens from 1 February to 5 March.

retro caravan

not all caravans have grown larger. At the Caravan and Motorhome show, retro with an update is available too

In answer to the question by Paul Monaghan MP, why hasn’t the UK joined the World Tourism Organisation, the tourism minister Tracey Crouch answered, “Currently the UK government is not considering membership of the World Tourism Organisation but it is an organisation we remain in contact with to ensure the UK is participating fully in international tourism discussions.” How can you “ensure” something or “participate fully” if you aren’t a member?

Wow air says that its Bristol to Iceland service which was due to end on March 24th will now continue until 14th of June giving passengers in the south-west of England the opportunity to have low cost flights to North America without having to face the bustle of Heathrow.  bmi regional is to start routes from its new hub at Birmingham Airport. The new routes will be to Graz in Austria from February 27th. The routes to Nuremburg in Germany and Gothenburg in Sweden will start from early June. Aer Lingus Regional (which is really Stobart Air) will link Newquay in Cornwall with Cork in Ireland from the 6th of May. It already operates a Newquay-Dublin service.

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