Saturday snippets: August 12th 2017

By | Category: Travel news
PortAventura aquatic park

Caribe Aquatic Park at Park Aventura

The wet and coolish weather of the last week has driven people into the travel agents intent on picking up some last minute holidays in the sun. The usual places – the Canaries, Balearics, Portugal and the Costas – have seen enquiries and since the weather shows no sign of a mini heatwave for at least a week, would you be interested in a holiday in the UK or Ireland? Or maybe a permanent UK destination?

Want to own a beach? In west Wales, Saundersfoot Beach is up for sale. For a quarter of a million pounds you can buy a two-acre, sandy beach that also gives you the right to sell ice creams and rent water sports equipment. Just a few miles from Tenby, Saundersfoot is a very popular seaside resort, with a station for those who prefer to train rather than drive and the most important thing of all, a reputation as a popular summer destination stretching back over a hundred years.

PortAventura World in Spain’s Costa Daurada has been named the best theme park in Europe in the 2017 edition of the World of Parks Awards.  More than 35,000 readers voted.  In addition, Dance Revolution, one of PortAventura Park’s shows, was named ‘Best show in a European Theme Park’ for the fourth year running. Dance Revolution is a musical which takes the audience on a journey through the world of music from the 1940s and 1950s right through to the present day, with more than 500.000 visitors that have already enjoyed the show. PortAventura has been visited by more than 70 million visitors over its 22 year history and is hoping for five million visitors this year given the excitement caused by opening Ferrari Land and the new Cirque de Soleil show.

Arc de Triomphe at night

Visitors are back in Paris – the Arc de Triomphe at night

The Californian city of Oakland has seen at least 80,000 British visitors since British Airways and Norwegian starting operating a Gatwick-Oakland service. In 2016, some 3.7 million visitors travelled to Oakland and spent $627 million, up 3.4% from 2015. It once again shows the significant impact that can be had by persuading an airline to fly to a destination. Much of Oakland’s international tourism growth is an in correlation with European flights coming through Oakland International Airport. Within the last 18 months, the airport has announced nonstop flights to and from London, Barcelona, Paris and Rome, in addition to the existing Oslo, Stockholm and Copenhagen routes. The city is currently promoting itself as a leading art and cultural destination. Although many Britons might use Oakland as an alternative to the airport in San Francisco, its plain that many passengers are at least stopping off and visiting the attractions of the city.

After the terrorist attacks in 2015/6, French tourism has rebounded. There was a 10.2% rise in domestic and foreign tourism during April-June this year compared to the same period the previous year.  Last year tourism fell by 5.3% in the second quarter of 2016, a drop largely due to terrorism. The Paris area provided even better visitor figures, up by 12.6% in just hotel and 27.6% in other forms of accommodation particularly campsites. This year France is looking for between 88-89 million foreign visitors to France.

Not only was there good news for French tourism from its own statistical sources, it retained its position as the world’s favourite tourism destination in 2016, according to the UN’s World Tourism Organization. (UNWTO.) The USA came second followed by Spain and China. But France had a 2% drop due to the effects of terrorist activity and the USA dropped by 3%. On the other hand Spain saw an increase of 10%.  Italy came fifth — the same as in 2015.

Holidaymakers have faced strike action in Spain and now they face similar problems in Portugal. This time, immigration officers will strike on 24th and 25th August and it seems hard to believe that there won’t be any delays.. If you are travelling on these days, or even the day after, check with your airline to see if you might be affected and certainly allow extra time particularly on arrival at Portuguese airports. If you are transferring to another flight at a Portuguese airport contact the airline if you think the time for transfer might be a problem.

Gatwick

Gatwick

The BBC has looked at flying habits during June, July and August 2015 and 2016 and found that easyJet is the airline most likely to have the longest delays in departure times with Gatwick being the airport most likely to see delays.  You can feed your future flights into the website to see if they were delayed and by how much on average. Using historic data can be misleading because of external factors such as weather, strike action elsewhere and the fact that some airlines are on routes where delays are more likely to occur all of which the BBC pointed out. But they did raise another problem. Although, planes left late arrival times, it is arrival times that matter. Airlines build this into their timetable so they are allowing more time than is really needed. Just as train timetabling is being scrutinised for having time built in for delays the same thing according to their Business Correspondent, Ben Thompson, exists with airlines. If so, are the airlines manipulating timetables in order to avoid paying out compensation for flights that are delayed over the time set down by EU legislation?

A report from the CAA gives a poor rating with regard to caring for disabled passengers at Heathrow, Manchester, East Midlands, Exeter, Heathrow and Manchester airports. It says that disabled passengers arriving at Heathrow may have to wait up to two hours for help disembarking aircraft. The CAA research also found instances of passengers not being treated with dignity and respect and says that the badly performing airports will have their progress monitored progress until improvements are made.

panoramic view of Heathrow

Heathrow which also didn’t fare well in a CAA report on disabled passengers

It was at Heathrow a few years ago that one person in a wheelchair was loaded onto the plane by the route used by the food trollies. She was ashamed that she was treated in this way. Heathrow apologised but, nonetheless, it shouldn’t have happened.

August 1st saw the end of the posting of Klaus Lohmann as head of the German tourist board in for both the UK and Ireland. Readers won’t know the name but in the last few years he and his team have been very successful in encouraging more Britons to travel to Germany. With a record 5.6 million overnight stays registered in 2016, the UK ranks third in Europe as an important incoming source market for Germany. Ireland shows a similar successful trend, which registered 476,115 overnight stays in 2016, an increase of 9.3% on the previous year.

Finally I’m sorry to have to tell you that one of Just about Travel’s writers and photographers, Dennis Cleveland-Peck, died recently after being diagnosed with a brain tumour. Having had an adventurous life as a boy actor in films, he then became a chef at some of London’s best spots. After that, he joined his wife, Patricia, in writing on gardening themes, being the photographer for the stories and writing the odd cookery story. On the night he died he was sitting in the summer sun peeling potatoes, the work being made easier by having a glass of good white by his side. To Patricia, her children and grandchildren, we send our sincere condolences as well as cheers to Dennis by following his example and enjoying a dry, flinty glass of white.

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