Saturday snippets: September 30th 2017

By | Category: Travel news
The Swiss Alps in summer

The Swiss Alps. After a 20% overnight rise in the vales of the Swiss franc caused tourism to slump, the tourist board is planning to lure us back

The boss of Switzerland Tourism, Jürg Schmid, said this week that he expected many of the 350 tourist offices in the country will disappear over the next few years. It is all due to digitalisation he claims. Schmid thinks that online information will take over from a physical presence. I am in two minds about the way tourism information is developing. Online resources are certainly wide-ranging but I do like to speak to a human who can answer the sort of questions and give advice that you don’t seem to yet see online. Or am I just getting even more old-fashioned?

The Scottish Highlands has seen an influx of tourists in recent years. But that success has brought problems. Roads, toilets, the provision of litter bins and better provisions for campsites, caravans and camper vans are all required since “somebody” didn’t consider the implications of success when marketing campaigns lured more of us to the area. Only now is the council considering do something to ease the problems that both locals and visitors face. The solution of Margaret Davidson, leader of Highlands Council is a tourism fund, which could see stakeholders including the council, Scottish Government, Highlands and Islands Enterprise and Visit Scotland come together to improve the infrastructure most needed by tourists. My suggestion? All councils, organisations and tourist bodies should consider the success implications before they announce a campaign not afterwards.

each state will nominate an “iconic” site as part of the new campaign

India’s prime minister, Narendra Modi, has asked the tourism ministry to launch a campaign during October to showcase the country’s tourism potential.  According to The Economic Times of India, one iconic site from each state will be chosen and promotions will be based around that. The campaign is international as well as domestic so expect to see travel agencies promoting India next month. My only question is whether announcing what will happen this week allows every participating state and organisation to be ready to push the button with just a few days’ notice?

The World Economic Forum (WEF) has ranked the safety of countries based on its tourism and safety of tourists.  It has now issued a list of the top ten dangerous countries, the most dangerous of which it says is Colombia, Yemen and El Salvador. The Colombians might disagree and two  Just about Travel writers (both women) might also object. Maybe a decade ago it deserved the title but today? Rounding off the top ten are Pakistan, Nigeria, Venezuela, Egypt (another decision that I personally disagree with) Kenya Honduras and Ukraine. It isn’t necessarily the whole country that should be ranked but particular cities that should be named so that we know to avoid them.

Pattaya – Jomtien Beach where no alcohol may be sold as from tomorrow. Image © Tourism Authority of Thailand

In Thailand the well-known holiday city of Pattaya is acting to curb anti-social behaviour. From tomorrow having alcoholic drinks on the beach will be banned. Beach vendors have been ordered to start selling Thai snacks and soft drinks instead and must wear special aprons which mark them out as officially licensed vendors.

Yesterday was the final day for cities to submit their applications to become UK City of Culture for 2021 and be the successor to Hull which, as readers know, is the 2017 winner. Coventry, Paisley, Stoke-on-Trent, Sunderland and Swansea seem the likely contenders although, at the time of writing, I cannot seem categorically that they all submitted their applications on time. Paisley has estimated that, over a 10-year period, becoming the UK city of culture would be worth an additional 4,700 jobs and bring £172 million gross into the local economy. Even if their forecast is wrong, Hull and Derry/Londonderry (the two previous winners) have shown just how much of a lift the winner will receive. The winner will be announced in December.

It was World Tourism Day on Thursday. Were you aware of it? I had a few releases about events taking place abroad but very little here. Maybe it isn’t meant for us passengers and holidaymakers just the travel trade to have another opportunity to get together. This year the theme was “Sustainable Tourism, a tool for development.”  I am not decrying the aims or ambitions but these lofty themes that appear each year overwhelm practicalm problems that we face day-by-day such as visa prices and times, being able to fly where we want, queuing problems, time wasted during to bureaucracy and customer service.  And for those in the UK, what happens after Brexit and how the main holiday market, Europe, treats Britishers.

Heathrow Airport. IATA says that airport charges in Europe have doubled in the last ten years

IATA says that airport charges in Europe have doubled in 10 years. While the average cost of an air ticket remained virtually the same, including all ancillary charges such as hold bags, the revenue portion of the ticket price for airlines fell from 90% to 79%. “Had airport charges remained constant over the 2006-2016 period consumers could have benefitted, on average, €17 Euros per one-way trip,” IATA said. This amount equates to nearly 10% of the average ticket cost. It claims that the EU’s Airport Charges Directive has failed Europe’s travellers and its own competitiveness by letting airport charges rise.

easyJet, is collaborating with electric aircraft manufacturer, Wright Electric to create an electric plane. The ambition is that every short flight will have zero-emissions within 20 years. The planned plane will have a range of 335 miles which would cover 20% of passengers flown by easyJet today. As with cars, the problem is battery storage as well as its weight. When successful it means that all domestic UK routes could be flown by electric planes as could flights from many London airports to Paris and Amsterdam.

Great Barrier Reef

the Great Barrier Reef as a vibrant and living maritime site. The discovery might be used to regenerate other parts of the reef that have died or are dying

A week ago, a surprise discovery was made in a lagoon system about 100km off the coast of the Whitsunday Islands, on the Great Barrier Reef in Australia. s mainland, causing excitement amongst reef experts and tourists. Investigating a “deep blue circle” on Google maps marine biologist Johnny Gaskell, found that the twenty metre deep lagoon had protected the delicate Staghorn and Birdsnest coral colonies within it. They were undamaged and it hoped that these healthy corals can be used to re-colonise other parts of the reef. The local tourist authority says that tourists could help in the reef’s ongoing protection by visiting it as every visitor pays an environmental charge which is included in the ticket prices charged by those operators permitted to take visitors to the reef. Given that for at least forty years environmentalists and others have been trying to find ways of bring the reef back to life where it has died and dealing with the predatory Crown of Thorns Starfish, this find is of major significance for tourism as well as the reef.

If you think our roads and railways get crowded at Christmas and holiday times spare a though for the Chinese who, starting tomorrow, are expected to make 560 million road trips during Golden Week. This year it coincides with the Mid-Autumn Festival so it could be even busier. It makes my moaning when I see more than half-a-dozen vehicles at the roundabout in our village in rush hour seem pitiful in comparison. Even the M25 seems bearable in comparison. Actually that’s untrue. The M25 is always intolerable! Stand by for the usual images on our tv screens as photo journalists head for the biggest traffic jams.

In airline news, British Airways will connect London City with Paris -Orly, Prague and Reykjavik from next month. The Orly flights are being transferred to London City from Heathrow, and existing flights to Charles De Gaulle Airport will continue to operate from Heathrow. Air Europa has a new service from Gatwick to the Brazilian city of Recife via Madrid starting in December. Virgin Atlantic will start a twice-weekly direct service to Barbados (unaffected by the recent hurricanes) from Heathrow in December while Thomas Cook will start a Saturday flight from  Gatwick.

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