Saturday snippets: June 24th 2017

By | Category: Travel news
Antiguan beach

Antigua – the tourist authority wants us to consider this a summer destination

Yesterday the Antigua and Barbuda Tourism Authority launched a new marketing campaign to stimulate us to holiday on these Caribbean islands this summer. There will be an outdoor and indoor digital campaign and there will be adverts at all London’s main train stations. The outdoor will run for two weeks starting this weekend, with the digital display and social media activity continuing for three months. Expect to hear your travel agent ask you whether you’ve considered  Antigua and Barbuda instead of Tenerife or Mallorca.

In the east end of London at 19 Princelet Street is to be found the Museum of Immigration and Diversity  which was the first such museum in Europe. It was founded in 1983 and is housed in a building dating to 1719 in the heart of one of the most historically diverse parts of London. Usually it is only open to groups and the visit has to be booked in advance but, tomorrow, it will be open to all of us in order to celebrate the end of Refugee Week from 2-6pm and entry is free. Why isn’t it open more often? Money . It is trying to raise £4 million to renovate the building and to fund regular opening.

Macchi Pichu

Machu Picchu in Peru.

Machu Picchu in Peru appears to be on everyone’s bucket list and that popularity is causing problems at the site.  1.4 million people visited it in 2016. From 1st of July, visitors will only be able to enter the site with an official tour guide, and tickets will grant entry for a morning (6am-noon) or an afternoon (noon-5.30pm). Guides must be licenced and group size will be limited to 16 people.  You will also not be allowed to stray from the marked path.  Entrance prices will remain the same at about£36 for adults but if you want to stay there the whole day you’ll need to buy two tickets.

Sixty-six thousand Britons visit Peru each year. You don’t need a visa to enter the country for the purposes of tourism but make sure that you obtain an entry stamp on arrival. If you arrive by plane from the UK, this will happen at the airport in Lima. If you are entering by land then make sure you collect an entry stamp otherwise you may have problems when you leave.

Turkey and Bulgaria are the latest countries where, the Foreign Office says, touts are soliciting holidaymakers to pursue claims over stomach disorders. On top of the ABTA campaign against fraudulent claims which was launched this week, this warning can only emphasise how widespread it is becoming. It is as bad as the 1980’s and 1990’s when unscrupulous time share touts did anything they could to entice you to buy timeshare. That industry cleaned up its act. Now claims agents need to do the same.

Gran Canaria seems to have no shortage of touts looking for holidaymakers to make fraudulent insurance claims

Yet another story about the fraudulent activities of holidaymakers. A couple who holidayed in Gran Canaria said nothing at the time of their holiday but fifteen months later claimed via a firm of solicitors that they suffered from  diarrhoea and cramps forcing them to spend most of their holiday bedridden. Hotel accounts show that the room occupants had drunk 109 drinks in nine days. The tour operator, Jet 2, is calling on the government to crack down on what it calls “food bug fraudsters.” Will this hotel sue the claimants?

Heathrow is no longer the largest airport in Europe for direct flights. According to ACI (Airports Council International) that accolade now belongs to Schipol in Amsterdam. Why is Heathrow losing out? Insufficient capacity for expansion which might be rectified when the new runway comes into being. If it does. Interestingly, ACI says that 99% of all of the expansion at Europe’s top 20 airports in the last ten years is due to low-cost airlines. During that same time, Middle East airlines have expanded into Europe so if only 1% of growth has come from legacy airlines, the main players in Europe must have been shrinking otherwise the maths doesn’t work out.

Should you have booked a holiday on the Silk Road or are travelling to Samarkand in Uzbekistan then be aware that the airport in Samarkand will be closed for all of July this year. Contact your travel agent or holiday supplier if they haven’t already contacted you.

Parc Samà – the viewing tower. © Parc Samà

If you are holidaying in the Costa Dorada this summer you may want to make time to visit the newly, re-opened Parc Samà which is between Cambrils and Montbrió. This garden is unlike many in that it isn’t really just one garden. Built by the Marquis of Marianao as his summer residence, it pays homage to traditional gardens from Spain, France and England and includes a grand palace, a forest and a lake. Described as “an Eden stolen from the heavens,   and just 5kms from the coast, it will make a cool alternative on a typical Costa Dorada hot summer’s day. Do go up the tower and get a panoramic view over the garden. Reus is the nearest airport.

Thomas Cook has produced its first ever Holiday Report which has revealed some interesting customer habits. The company’s bookings online peak between eight and ten pm; tablets and smartphones dominate searches while desktop and laptop are the preferred choice for actual bookings but 43% of customers said they still use shops for research and 60% said high street agents are one of their preferred means of booking. The report said the most significant shift in the last three years has been the rise in people using their mobiles to search for holidays, up 113% on thomascook.com between May 2014 and April 2017. The report also highlighted the power of virtual reality devices being used in its stores. The report also shows the growing importance of virtual reality. Data from eight stores showed that when customers experienced a virtual New York helicopter trip, sales rose by 28%, while Royal Caribbean’s cruise ship video led to a 45% jump.

Staying with a Thomas Cook theme for a moment longer, Thomas Cook Airlines will fly from Manchester to New York three times a week over this coming winter. As it also links the two cities every day at other times it means that there will be a year-round service. All of a sudden does this mean that Thomas Cook is becoming a scheduled airline rather than just a charter one? With fares from £299.98 return in economy class (admittedly only on certain dates) it is probably true to say that we have another low-cost airline on the Atlantic route at last.

More holidaymakers have been targeted by terrorists this time in the African country of Mali. At the luxury Le Campement Kangaba resort, terrorists killed two as Malian troops rescued thirty others and killed four terrorists. Once again, this incident demonstrates that wherever holidaymakers travel they should keep their eyes open, act sensibly, be vigilant and report any concerns.

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