Saturday snippets: March 25th 2017

By | Category: Travel news

Alaska – a destination with a difference

Next week, on the 30th of March, Alaska will be commemorating its 150th anniversary as part of the United States.  Of course it hasn’t been a state that long, that only came about 1959 but one of the interesting things about the state is not its US heritage but its Russian one. Alaska was sold to the USA for $7.2m by Russia yet, even today, visitors can still see elements of its previous Russian heritage. Sitka – Russian Alaska’s former capital in the South East corner of the state – has a series of events and concerts from 28th March, for the duration of the year. This will include a 150th Art Exhibition in Sitka National Historic Park and a Russian-American colony concert, as well as Sitka Summer Music Festival celebrating Russian composers. Travellers can wander Sitka’s Russian-named streets, visit the Orthodox Cathedral and the Baranov Museum for Russian-Alaskan history.

Tickets for the British Library’s new exhibition go on sale next month. Why tell you now? Because the exhibition is “Harry Potter: A History of Magic” and it is anticipated that this could be a sell-out exhibition. Harry Potter fans are still numbered in the millions; overseas tour operators are planning tours to the UK that includes the opportunity of seeing it so you might want to book early. And this is despite the fact that the exhibition doesn’t open until next October so the BL obviously thinks it has a hit on its hands!

satsuma kiriko glass

Last month there was a visit by a representative of the Kagoshima prefecture of Japan to the UK and France. The reason? To promote the heritage of the area and encourage more visitors.  From my point of view it is welcome because the only part of Japan that I hear about in press releases is Kyoto. Even Tokyo is coy in briefing travel writers about the benefits of holidaying there. Links between Kagoshima and the UK go back to the time of Queen Victoria when a Briton was killed and, after refusing to pay compensation, Britain shelled the area. One attraction is satsuma kiriko glass which is renowned for its many colours. It is also claimed that here is the origin of the Japanese snack of deep-fried fishcakes

Last year, Vietnam saw 10 million overseas visitors for the first time. UK visitor numbers were up by 20% with 254,842 of us travelling there and the UK has now replaced France as the second largest source of visitors which seems surprising given the strong heritage links between the two countries. One reason cited for the growth in visitor numbers is the stability of the country. You don’t see media stories about violence, tourist problems or disease. With Vietnamese Airlines operating a direct service to the country, British visitor numbers have shot up and the airline is seen as a cheaper alternative to flying onto other far eastern and Pacific countries like Australia and New Zealand.

If you fancy over 700 miles of off- road trails mixed with ordinary roads in the USA, try the newly signed Arizona Peace Trail. The trail uses existing off-road trails and roads in Western Arizona connecting Bullhead City to Yuma. To fully complete the loop, takes about five days depending on how often you stop to gaze at points of interests along the trail such as petroglyphs (intaglios), ghost towns, scenic stops and historic mines.  The other thing you need to bear in mind is that the distance might be 700 miles but you will journey from 170ft above sea level to over 7,000 feet.

the wildlife is a major draw for visitors to go to India

Last year the tourist numbers going to India rose by 10.7% over the previous year to 8.89 million international visitors. After Bangladesh, the UK is the largest source of tourists and this pattern has continued in the first few months of the year. January and February saw a rise of 14.7%.  The reason for this interest in visiting India may well be down to the fact that it has become easier to obtain a visa to travel there.  The e-visa has speeded things up and just four countries, the UK, USA, Fane and Russia make up 50% of all the e-visas issued.

The local rail system in Glasgow is being used as the guinea pig for a new method of paying for tickets. A company called Rambus Ecebs has developed a mobile ticketing service which involves using a virtual smart card that can be loaded to a mobile phone along with a ticket wallet which can store multiple travel tickets. Travellers will be able to search, pay and download purchased tickets directly to their mobile device. The solution works on existing smart infrastructure, meaning travellers can use their mobile phone in a similar way to a smart card at ticket vending machines, station gates and point-of-sale terminals.

According to a survey undertaken by FlightDelays.co.uk, British travellers spend £144 million buying replacement items for things they have forgotten to pack. The results also indicate that 53% of us (me included) have forgotten things or misplaced them. A fifth of us forget clothing, 15% of us forget glasses or sunglasses and a figure just below that forget that essential of modern life – phone chargers!

an airport queue at Gatwick

airport queues – another hassle!

During the same survey, the company also asked what irritated people at airports. Just over 20% of the responders said waiting for delayed flights annoyed them and this was very closely followed by annoyance at how much had to be paid for food at airports. Irritation at the length of queues came third (that surely would have been first twenty years ago) and 10% say that they getting annoyed by other passengers. I find that 10% seems a little low. Unless on my flights I attract all the annoying passengers that the rest of you don’t have!

In the Skytrax awards, Heathrow was named “Best Airport for Shopping.” If I want to shop then a shopping centre seems the logical place. At an airport I want to catch a flight. It is already an obstacle course to get through the shops to the gate. Apparently Heathrow has 400 luxury brands at the airport. Winning awards like this might prompt Heathrow have even more.

From April the 24th, there is a name changes of which you should be aware. Cosmos Tours and Cruises will now change its trading name to Cosmos from that date. The old Cosmos package holiday tour operator – Cosmos Holidays – has not been associated with the tours and cruises side for a while and it has changed names from Cosmos Holidays to Monarch Holidays effective immediately. The two are completely different companies now unlike a few years ago when they were all one.

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