Saturday snippets: 28th October 2017

By | Category: Travel news

the ancient theatre of Thouria. Image courtesy of the Greek Ministry of Culture

In the Greek town of Messinia archaeologists have uncovered a large part of the ancient theatre of Thouria. The perimeter of the ancient theatre’s orchestra is 16.3 meters long, and was found along with the first row of seats and a rainwater pipe surrounding the orchestra. They also found fragments of the theatre’s upper seats, five rows (with many seats intact on the southern side of the hollow), the southern entrance and part of the exterior, which includes three parallel stone grooves that were used for the wheels of the theatre’s movable scenery. With 567,000 Brits travelling to Greece in August alone this year spending €467 million here is another opportunity for the Greeks to show us what will become another tourist attraction in the country.

As if there aren’t enough things to do at an airport whilst waiting for your flight, in the departures area of the airport in the Estonian capital city of Tallinn, you can now spend the time at the gym! Europe’s very first gym situated within an airport opened this month. It is fully equipped with internet connections, specialist training machines and a stretching well as a view over the runway so you can see if you’ve missed your flight through being preoccupied with your workout. 

I am not quite sure how to interpret Ryanair’s announcement that they are delaying their new cabin baggage policy until January 15th next year. Ostensibly it is to allow more time for passengers to get accustomed to the new policy. Ryanair had previously announced that they wouldn’t allow passengers to take two carry-on bags but just one small one unless customers had paid for priority boarding. With the postponement, one of the reasons for the change – to reduce flight delays by speeding up boarding – won’t happen until after the very busy Christmas holiday period. If the policy has been introduced now the surely delays would have dropped at a time when more of us will be flying for holidays or to see relatives?

celebrating Canada Day in Banff

Canada has welcomed more than 14.6 million visitors from around the world this year, an increase of more than 4% over the same period in 2016. But that increase was improved by an 8% growth from visitors travelling from Asia. That market has become so important as now Chinese tourists now account for more than 10% of overseas visitors. Visitors from Europe – the UK and France being large providers of tourists – as a percentage of the total are declining.

I haven’t heard of North Adams, the smallest city in the US state of Massachusetts. But I was intrigued to hear that it has the largest contemporary art museum in the USA and it is building a new museum designed by the famed architect, Frank Gehry, called the Extreme Model Railroad and Contemporary Architecture Museum. But these pale in comparison with a new museum opening next January. It is the Museum of Dog which will feature a private collection of dog inspired paintings, drawings, sculptures, photographs and accessories including rare dog collars dating back to the 1800s. There is already at least one museum devoted to dogs, that of the American Kennel Club Museum of the Dog in St. Louis, Missouri, but look at what else North Adams offers.

The central American country of El Salvador is overlooked by many visitors and, generally, tour operators bundle it with other countries. But there is more than enough in the country to make you stay for at least a week such as the beaches, ancient colonial buildings and cave paintings. Two new tourism routes have recently been unveiled – the ‘Los Manantiales’ route and the ‘Cumbres del Mar’ route. The first which is only thirty minutes south of the capital, San Salvador, is a cultural tour that will cover some of the attractions I have mentioned and the second circles the coast of El Salvador to look at the beaches but it also includes opportunities to enjoy the gastronomic heritage of the country.

lake District

There is more to Cumbria than the Lake District

Cumbria is about to launch its winter campaign to persuade us to visit and holiday there. Last year it ran a promotion to persuade us to visit the area between November and March and Visit Cumbria claims it was a success so this year’s campaign breaks on November 1st and runs until mid-March next year. Having gained UNESCO World Heritage status for the Lake District has given Cumbria international coverage and this campaign should build on that. The thing to remember is that Cumbria is not just the Lake District: there are plenty of other places to visit.

Cumbria isn’t the only destination launching campaigns. The Egyptians are about to do the same.This year, British visitor numbers to Egypt  rose by more than 25% in the first six months of 2017 but then was from a low base brought about the ban on flying to Sharm. Nonetheless it looks as though there is a bounce back to not only traditional areas like Cairo and Luxor but to newer destinations like Marsa Alam with both TUI and Thomas Cook flying to the beach resort. The promotion will also highlight other winter sun destinations like El Gouna, Sahl Hashish, Makadi Bay and Soma Bay all of which  offer private beaches, water including what the tourist board claims could be the world’s best snorkelling and diving

Image of a Monarch plane

The House of Lords discussed more protections for air passengers

At present the new ATOL scheme is being debated in parliament. After the costs of repatriating Monarch passengers and the collapse of A1 travel last week, ABTA is putting pressure on the government to introduce a new clause to the bill whereby all passengers can be protected in the event of a future airline failure. At present if you just buy a flight rather than a package you would be unprotected. But in the case of Monarch the government decided that it would repatriate everyone affected so the new clause  would widen the protection travellers have. That will not happen as the government says that it conflicts with EU law so a different means needs to be found to protect air passengers.

Last Thursday, the USA rolled out new rules at their airports meaning that it could take longer to go through immigration and security. Some visitors may be interviewed so airlines are recommending that you allow three hours before departure to check-in and go through all the airport rigmarole. One airline, Cathay Pacific, has stopped the practice of self check-ins so some European airlines may follow this practice.

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