Saturday snippets: August 5th 2017

By | Category: Travel news
Kyle and the Isle of Skye Bridge

Skye Bridge,

The Scottish island of Skye is facing problems with tourists. Not only are there too many of them, they also seem to be litter-prone. Now a resident has proposed a tourist tax as a way of funding clean-ups and other facilities. Generally, perceived wisdom is that introducing taxes reduces the number of tourists even if the sum is quite small. But, as readers will know, such taxes are illegal under existing law so either the residents of Skye will have to lobby for a new law or find another solution.

A similar tourist problem exists in the Orkneys. According to the local newspaper, The Orcadian, 140 cruise ships will dock at the port for the islands’ capital, Kirkwall, this year bringing some 130,000 passengers to spill over into Orkneys. The figure has grown fourfold over the last few years putting a strain on some of the resources. Now the locals have introduced a cap so that there will be no more than 4,500 passengers from cruise ships per day per day. That is legal so maybe Skye residents should look at something similar for passengers landing by ferry or crossing the bridge.

It’s that time again. On the 9th and the 10th of August, the British Firework Championships returns to Plymouth for its 20th anniversary! Believed to be Britain’s most spectacular fireworks display, the free event features six top pyrotechnics companies who set off four tonnes of fireworks over Plymouth Sound as they battle it out to become the British Fireworks champion. Plymouth’s Hoe offers the perfect viewing platform for this truly incredible competition. The Red Arrows will be taking to the air at 7pm on the second night of the British Firework Championships and treating the crowds to an acrobatic display to remember.

Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia

About 400,000 Britons visit Malaysia each year. From August 1st, it will cost us more as a room tax has been put into force. Only overseas visitors pay the tax and it will be a flat rate of RM10 per room per night. That’s about £1.78 per room per night. The tax doesn’t apply to  hotels/guest houses with five rooms or less, homestays, and village stays. That means that people booking via Airbnb or rival organisations shouldn’t be paying the tax.

Rose gardens are often seen as quintessentially British. But in the US state of Oregon, Portland has the International Rose Test Garden which, this year, celebrates its centenary. There is a free event on August 26th where people can see the 600 different varieties that you will see there. In all about 700,000 people visit the garden each year. That number may increase since as from the end of last May there has been a direct Delta service from Heathrow to Portland opening up this state to British visitors.

Mitiaro, one of fifteen Cook islands in the Pacific Ocean

The Cook Islands, which has just 19,000 inhabitants and lies halfway between Hawaii and New Zealand, has established one of the largest marine reserve area in the world. The law forbids commercial activity in an area extending outward of 50 nautical miles from each of the country’s islands, which covers an area more than seven times the size of the United Kingdom. With such a commitment the mall, Pacific Ocean country is likely to entice even more visitors as the marine reserve regenerates itself with more marine life.

Saudi Arabia tourism is generally limited to pilgrimages. That won’t be the case in the future. It is planning a large development (and when I say large, I mean one and a half times the size of Wales) on the Red Sea covering 34,000 square between the cities of Umluj and Al Wajh. It will include hotels, resorts an international airport as well as roads. Don’t rush to book. The work on the development won’t begin until 2019 and the first phase isn’t due for completion until 2022.

Last weekend, near the Swiss resort of Zermatt, the world’s longest hanging pedestrian bridge opened It measures 494 metres in length and is 85 metres above the  ground which, in this case is the Grabengufer ravine. Being that long it will be affected by weather, particularly wind, but the company which built it says that there is an anti-swing feature to prevent any unfortunate accidents with people suddenly experiencing motion sickness. There was a previous bridge which attracted tourists to the area just in order to see the views but that that closed due to rock falls and has been replaced by this ore modern, stronger and repositioned one.

easyJet – it comes out top in the Skyscanner research

The travel search engine, Skyscanner, has been looking at short-haul airlines to assess whether the low-cost airlines really provide the best value. In any study it is difficult to compare apples with apples because of sales, differing computer models on how to charge and allowing for all those extras that airlines try to charge. Nonetheless in a pretty thorough piece of work, one that doesn’t send me into angry retorts about the methodology used, it looks like easyJet followed by BA and KLM together and then Wizz Air and Thomson provide the best value. In equal sixth place is Jet 2 and Ryanair. Ryanair is interestingly rules out of being the winner not because its flights are not cheap but because of all the add-ons which work out a bit more expensive than rivals.

There were two pieces of news this week that suggests we are travelling more and not giving way to doubts about Brexit, currencies or anything else. The first was that Stansted has seen 25 million passengers for the very first time (this comes on top of Heathrow’s increase in passengers) and that it expects to see 26.5 million this year. In addition there are more jobs available in travel companies than ever before. You don’t need jobs if the rest of us aren’t buying travel so we must be.

Finally, if you are travelling in Mexico City you could be forgiven for doing a double-take as you see red London double-decker buses heading towards you.  The buses arrived in the last week and there are reports of problems already. Not problems with the buses but problems with the routes. Some bus stops and journeys don’t cater for such tall vehicles. A couple are in the panel beaters already!

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