Saturday snippets: April 29th 2017

By | Category: Travel news
panoramic view of the Lake District

the Lake District the clear winner in the National Express Survey

The Lake District in Cumbria has been voted as the UK’s number one free attraction. The survey, conducted on behalf of National Express, All of the attractions up to the ninth were outdoors ones including the Peak District, Snowdonia, Brighton Pier, Hadrian’s Wall and Loch Ness. Inland walking areas seem to dominate as the first seaside linked attractions – Brighton Pier and the beaches at Newquay and Scarborough don’t crop up until the middle of the top 10. Amongst indoor attractions, the Natural History Museum was followed by a more unlikely candidate – the Royal Air Force Museum at Cosford in Shropshire with the British Museum down at fourteenth.


In the wake of the introduction of restrictions on carrying smart phones and other electronic gizmos on planes, IATA objected to the way that it had been organised. It has now gone further saying that there was no consultation with airlines prior to the announcement by the British and US governments. IATA is also concerned by the global standards for investigating airline accidents. Whilst there are standards but they aren’t being applied. It claims that out of 1,000 accidents in the last ten years only around 300 have accident reports available.

A new museum opens in the Massachusetts town of Springfield in June this year just in time for those taking children to New England this summer. Called The Amazing World of Dr. Seuss it honours the life and work of a local man – Dr Seuss who wrote Cat in the Hat and all those other works that parents read to their children in their formative years. The children’s formative years, not the parents although now that I think of it… This is the only museum dedicated to the children’s author and features artwork, memorabilia and furniture from his home studio with a focus on interactive exhibits.

achurch and mock Tudor building in Shimla. Image c. Himachal Pradesh Tourism Development Corporation

In India, the government has introduced a new airline policy whereby 70 different airports (largely smaller, under-utilised ones) connected by five airlines on 128 routes will cap prices. On an hour long fixed wing flight (or 500 kilometres) or a thirty-minute helicopter flight, prices will be no more than 2,500 rupees (about £30) for 50% of the available seats.  The scheme is designed to boost regional connectivity with low-cost flights. It means visitors can also take advantage of this to see more on India rather than having to spend longer periods using the train network or driving. One such airport is modern-day Shimla once known as Simla – the summer capital of British India –  and birthplace of Guy Gibson of Dambusters fame which might be of particular interest to British and Irish visitors.

As summer nears, you can expect there to be issues with Greek ferries because that is what seems to happen every year.  The union for seamen has announced its first strike for May 1st lasting 24 hours. Regular travellers to the Greek islands will not be surprised if there are more strikes during July and August so holidaymakers should check with their travel agents to see what the situation is.

Airbnb may be the largest company in the sharing economy with over three million lodgings around the world on its books but it isn’t the only one. Last year the European Commission published a report saying that the sharing economy would be worth €570 billion by 2025 so it isn’t surprising that other companies have jumped on the bandwagon. GuestToGuest is five- year old home exchange company based in France, with nearly 300,000 homes in 187 countries. Its bookings have trebled in the last year alone. Why are these companies so popular? One reason is that they expect to save you about 30% on the cost of accommodation. Governments aren’t so pleased. They will be looking for ways to tax you for letting your home out. Like New York where there are restrictions on how long you can rent your property for, other cities want to copy. In the meantime companies like Airbnb and GuestToGuest look to prosper – as do homeowners!

Isle of Harris gin

If gin is your tipple, this job might appeal to you. The Isle of Harris Distillery, one of the UK’s most remotely located spirit producers, is launching its search for a special individual, to take on the role of ‘The Harris Ambassador to London’ It already has a person in the same role for Scotland. Here is the drawback for me. The job spec says “that candidates should be intimately acquainted with London’s finest drinking establishments and quality eateries, and eager to bring word of the distilling work being done in the Isle of Harris to the city.” If it appeals to you, click here.

From Responsible Travel, the tour operator that announced it was stopping promoting any holidays that visit a zoo comes an independent survey of recent UK zoo visitors that suggests that visitors overestimate zoos’ spend on conservation by tenfold. 84% of UK zoo visitors were surprised or very surprised to hear that zoos are encouraged to spend only 3%of their expenditure on conservation in the field and 61% of UK zoo visitors were surprised or very surprised to read that just 10% of animals in zoos are endangered. When asked, over three-quarters of respondents estimated that at least one fifth or more of the animals kept in captivity by zoos would be endangered species. The company claims that the survey shows that zoos have been pulling the wool over the public’s and, in reality, most zoos are simply keeping animals in captivity for our entertainment, to continue their existence and to make money.

In this era of pop-up restaurants and pop-up hotels, Los Angeles, last week, saw the opening of a pop-up museum. Last summer it was in New York; this year the Museum of Ice Cream expects well over 30,000 to visit. The first tickets on sale were bought out rapidly. Another tranche were released on Thursday which gives some idea of its popularity.  Naturally there are samples but some of the exhibits are edible and visitors are encouraged to do what museum curators rarely want you to do – touch the exhibits!

Dubai – British visitor numbers are continuing to rise

Dubai has seen an increase of 5% over last year amongst British visitors during the first three months of this year. The top two nations sending visitors to Dubai are India and Saudi Arabia whilst we come third. Given the fact that flights take nearly twice as long as from those two countries, it confirms Briton’s fondness of the place as well as the value of the regional airport links to Dubai. Western Europe provided more visitors than the whole of the Gulf area.

On Thursday this week in the House of Commons, there was a short debate on tourism and the implications of Brexit. This matters to all of us. Will we need visas to go to Spain or the Algarve. What happens to the medical EHIC cards we carry? MP’s didn’t raise these issues but I don’t suppose it would have mattered if they did. All questions raised such as flights to the EU, interim support for those encouraging Europeans to holiday in the UK and potential issues in Northern Ireland where there will be a land border with an EU country were batted away by the Brexit minister, Robin Walker. He revealed nothing and the MP’s were as quiet as mice when they could have easily said that he hadn’t answered their questions. And why didn’t the tourism minister answer these questions as she would understand tourism concerns?

The Portuguese airline TAP will launch flights from London City Airport to Lisbon from the 29th of October. It complements existing flights from Heathrow and Gatwick rather than replacing any. So far, the additional services started by TAP have led to a 20.3% increase in the number of passengers travelling between London and Lisbon in the first quarter of 2017 compared to the same period last year.

It doesn’t happen very often that I have the opportunity of telling you that there are new flights linking the UK with Russia. But the Turkish-based airline, Pegasus, is starting flights from Stansted to four places. They are Grozny, Samara, Nizhny Novgorod and Volgograd in Russia on top of the three routes it already has to Moscow, Krasnodar and Mineralnye Vody. The flights – via Istanbul –  have already begun to Grozny whilst the others start in June.

On the 24th of April, the UK government issued travel updates for over twenty-five countries including Egypt, Tunisia and Turkey. In a nutshell, their advice stays the same as it had been before the announcements. Don’t know why I bothered to give it space really!

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