Saturday snippets: June 10th 2017

By | Category: Travel news

Idyllic Krabi in Thailand

Because unpaid medical bills amongst those holidaying or travelling in Thailand now have reached $123 million, Thai tourism officials are again suggesting all visitors should have compulsory travel insurance. This isn’t the first time this idea has arisen but all previous attempts have failed because of implementation issues. Do you ask passengers if they have travel insurance at passport control and, if they say no, have them go to a booth and buy it. Do you instruct airlines not to allow boarding at the point of origin unless they can demonstrate they have insurance? Do you deny them entry? If the Thais find a satisfactory solution expect other countries to follow suit.

As the British Lions tour New Zealand followed by a few thousand dedicated rugby supporters it has been announced that tourism has become the New Zealand’s biggest export earner, worth $10 billion last year and tipped to surpass $15b a year by 2023. Over 200,000 Brits visit the country each year but make up only a small proportion of the 3.5 million people who travel there each year. Australians and Chinese are vital markets for the country and it hopes that numbers will grow to nearly 5 million by 2023.

Satying with a sporting theme, it seems that the footballer, Lionel Messi, is to have a theme park linked to his life in the Chinese city of Nanjing. It appears that his club, Barcelona has agreed and plans are going ahead for the Leo Messi Experience will have 20 different attractions powered by virtual reality. As to a suggested opening date?  Sometime in 2019. There are no direct flights from either the UK or Barcelona to Nanjing but I’d be prepared to bet that it has suddenly appeared on some airline’s radar!

Aphrodite Rock in Cyprus

Aphrodite Rock,near Paphos in Cyprus,

Cyprus had a bumper April with tourist arrivals up by over a quarter compared to April 2016. Of these arrivals, the UK visitor numbers were up by 37.1%. There was a year-on-year increase in visitors from the United Kingdom (16.3%), Russia (21.8%), Germany (156.6%) and Israel. (77%.) Most people travelled to the country for a holiday and the majority (44%) were aged between 20 and 44 years old. The UK is the largest source of visitors to the island with about a million of us  (out of about two million overseas arrivals in  total) visiting Cyprus each year.

The same confidence can’t be said about tourism to the US from the UK. Although international visitor numbers are up by 4%, numbers from the UK were down by 6% in April. The main reason is probably the pound’s depreciation against the dollar although some think that the comparatively high air fares are also a consideration. Overall, there has been concern that the government’s travel ban attempts might also be deterring people just as the carrying of laptops etc in the hold rather than on board is affecting some flights from the Middle East. It looks as though visitors from most countries are unconcerned unless this 4% rise is an aberration and that drops will be seen in future months. Still, it is welcome to an industry that is feeling the heat over proposed cutbacks to both the Visit Florida and Brand USA budgets.

Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia

Malaysia has introduced a tourist tax which will come into being on August 1st. The charge will be RM20 ( about £3.60) for five-star accommodations, RM10 for four-star accommodations, RM5 for one- to three-star accommodations, and RM2.50 for non-rated accommodations, including budget hotels . But the tax is not an individual one as some destinations charge but rather on a per-room, per-night basis.

I have just learnt where not to travel. A survey for Red7, a travel company that specialises in hen and stag do’s plus lads and “ladettes” group trips has identified the paces that are popular with these groups. After dealing with a drunken group of hen partygoers at 4am on a train to London (how early do these things start?) anything that identifies which places to avoid earns my gratitude.  For hen and stag parties the same five places are chosen by each group as their preferred destinations. It means I will avoid Las Vegas, Barcelona, New York, Amsterdam and Benidorm. Now if I only knew which times of the year?

Could you believe research from Qualtrics which, as part of its findings, says that one in 10 people have had a bad stay in a hotel due to a haunted room? Qualtrics is a company that monitors businesses to help determine whether customers, employees and the company itself is delivering an experience of which customers approve.  In their study of hotel guests they say that 67% of hotel visitors say they read guest ratings when deciding where to stay and 61% won’t stay in a hotel with less than three stars in an online review. However, only 24% of hotel guests who have had a bad experience have written a negative review suggesting that three quarters of us couldn’t be bothered.

From the 14th until the 18th of June – if you can get to London – is this year’s  Taste of London. The attraction for visitors is that many countries take stands and demonstrate the type of food and how to cook it. From Spain, for example, Basque country skills will be on display which seems appropriate given that the event coincides with yet another of those concocted idea – World Tapas Day.  Tapas in the north of Spain are known as Pintxo and different varieties will be on display. The event is held in Regents Park.

the west of Ireland which wants to see British holidaymakers – as does all of Ireland

After an ever-increasing number of British holidaymakers to Ireland, the first quarter of 217 has seen a drop. 6.5% drop. Tourism Ireland puts the drop down to the economic situation and the effects of Brexit by which I take it to mean the decline of sterling against the euro making holidays more expensive. The UK is a substantial source of tourists so Tourism Ireland will be concerned yet there isn’t yet a sign of a promotional push to persuade us to take summer holidays there.

In airline news, Wizz Air will operate flights from Luton to Kutaisi in Georgia as from June 18th. From the 24th of June it will have flights to Tel Aviv in Israel and Pristina in Kosovo, both from Luton as well. Flybe will operate a new route to Dusseldorf from Leeds Bradford Airport. Icelandair has begun a service linking Belfast City with Reykjavik timed so that assengers can transfer onto flights to North America.

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