Saturday snippets: August 19th 2017

By | Category: Travel news

one of the figures on the Path of the Shepherd’s Dwarves. Image © RTC Krvavec

If a destination is primarily known as a ski resort, then in summer months you have to be a little clever to attract visitors. Most resorts play on the fact that there is scenery and good walking/hiking/trekking opportunities. Some have summer festivals hoping these one-off events will be sufficient to attract people for a week or so. Not Krvavec in Slovenia. They have developed something called the Path of the Shepherd’s Dwarves which, it says, reveals the secrets of the shepherd’s lifestyle on the mountain. Aimed at families, this path has sixteen wooden sculptures of imaginary and real creatures and animals that have made their home at Krvavec.

Slovenia is a destination where there has been a rapid increase of visitors. From the start of 2017 and up to the end of June, 4,794,000 overnight stays were recorded in tourist accommodation. This amounts to an increase of 17%. Just in June this year, there were more than 487,000 tourist arrivals and, of those,  365,000, were from overseas – an increase of 32%. UK arrivals were up by 5% in June whereas arrivals from Germany rose by 17%. So what is the growing appeal? Stability, the countryside  with cycleways and walking opportunites  as well as heritage sites are just some of the reasons.

La Jaonnet Bay in Guernsey. Image © Dorset Media Services

Guernsey is another destination that saw an increase in the number of visitors. During the second quarter of 2017 it said the growth was 8.3% with 68% of all visitors coming from the UK. People are also staying slightly longer, nearly four-and-a-half days now. It seems many of the visitors this year opted for using the ferry service to the island rather than air since ferry travel has risen by 11% whilst air travel has grown by only 0.8%.  Nonetheless, air travel is still the preferred method of travel for the majority of travellers.

Aalborg in Denmark is becoming increasingly popular as a short break or weekend destination. On 5th of September, Ryanair will launch a direct service from Stansted and Norwegian has increased its capacity from London Gatwick to Aalborg. The attraction?  There is a very popular street food scene, there is a new arts and culture district springing up in the old Spritfabrikken buildings in Vestby  and Skagen is a one of Europe’s best bird migration sites as well as being picture postcard pretty.

I am told by some friends who have recently visited it that one place you should go if you are travelling in Los Angeles before the end of the year is to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art to see Chagall: Fantasies for the Stage. It is the first U.S. exhibition to focus on the work that Marc Chagall did for the theatre. Although Chagall, had done some theatre work, it was only when he fled to the USA in 1941 to avoid the Nazis that he was invited to work on the ballet Aleko in New York. From then he returned to the theatre frequently to work with stage productions. Incidentally, this is much the same exhibition that ran in Montreal at the Museum of Fine Arts under a different name earlier this year.

Hartmannswillerkopf, Image © HWK

There have been many reminders of WWI and the battles fought a century ago. Commemoration ceremonies have taken place in many countries as those who fought were remembered.  In the French area of Alsace at Hartmannswillerkopf, the first Franco-German Museum of World War I opened in early August. It is on the site of one of France’s four national monuments to those who served in the war. It was here in 1914 that 30,000 troops died on this mountainous terrain. Because of that fact the museum closes after Armistice Day (11th of November) and will re-open at Easter next year.

Overall tourism in the UK provides about 9% of jobs. But research by Visit Scotland shows there are some places where the number employed in tourism is almost twice that figure.  Argyll and Bute has 17% of the population working in tourism and the Highlands have 14% with South Ayrshire relying on tourism for 13% of jobs and Orkney for 12%. Edinburgh remains the most popular place to visit by both home and overseas visitors followed by the Highlands, Glasgow, Argyll & Bute and Perth & Kinross. My preferred choice – the Borders – doesn‘t even appear in the top 10!

I like the response of Mark Woodward, the CEO of the company that operates the ferry services between the Isle of Man and Northern Ireland. Instead of running from Douglas to Belfast, he is considering switching the service to arrive in Larne, twenty miles north of Belfast.  He says switching will mean shorter sailing times Of course it will, it’s closer! But most people will still have to go to Belfast to join the road network to reach most of the rest of the province.

Puerta Vallarta

Tourisme Montréal is encouraging Montréal hotels to participate in a new venture, Hospitality Week. Running from Augustl 21st – 28th,  it is part of Montréal vous accueille [Montréal Welcomes You], a broader project led by Tourisme Montréal to attract visitors “by enhancing the overall quality of tourist hospitality in the city.” Hotels will display the “Bonjour” signature during the week. By doing so participating hotels can also offer guests postcards, luggage tags and umbrellas featuring the “Bonjour” logo. Montréal hopes to make Hospitality Week an annual event, to be held at the beginning of the summer tourist season.

Puerto Vallarta, an increasingly popular destination for British holidaymakers in Mexico says that international passenger numbers rose by 12.1% in the first half of the year.  American and Canadian still make up the bulk of international visitors but European visitor growth is fast growing. Calling itself Mexico’s leading culinary beach destination, Puerto Vallarta has over 350 restaurants and that must be a contributor to its success as well as the beach, sunshine and attractions nearby.

Aer Lingus obviously thinks that there will be a greater number of travellers between the UK and Ireland this winter. It is adding 50,000 seats on the Birmingham to Dublin service and the London Heathrow to Dublin service will have an additional early morning flight resulting in 56,000 extra seats. From Ireland there will be 190,000 seats to the Canary Islands over winter and a new service to Bilbao in Spain. There will be a new service from Dublin to Miami starting on September 1st and the airline is highlighting the fact that passengers can pre-clear U.S Customs and Immigration allowing them to pass through domestic channels upon landing for a smooth and swift arrival in the USA.

The growth by Aer Lingis seems mirrored by  more news about airlines. They have witnessed the biggest growth in passenger traffic since 2005 and are flying with close to a record number of filled seats, according to IATA. The first six months saw growth of 7.9% over last year. But not all is rosy. The German airline, Air Berlin, has filed for insolvency. The airline doesn’t fly into or out of the UK or Ireland now but it does have code share agreements with British Airways and Flybe should contact those airlines if they think they are involved. In the short term, the airline will keep flying as Germany has lent the airline money. Which airline/airline group will want to but an airline that has made a profit just twice in ten years? Oddly enough, there may be a queue.

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