Saturday snippets: 18th November 2017

By | Category: Travel news

Christkindlmarket 2016 © Eric James Walsh

If you are visiting Chicago before Christmas, then you may want to know that they have their own German Christmas market. It has been running for 21 years so this year it comes of age!  Called Christkindlmarket, it is held at Daley Plaza and runs from November 24 to December 31. Last year another linked market opened in Naperville and there is another opening this year near Wrigley Field, the home of the Chicago Cubs. This will be at The Park at Wrigley and will feature an 8,000-square-foot ice-skating rink, outdoor movies on the big screen, and, for the young at heart, the obligatory photo ops with Santa.

Next month, the Gulf emirate of Ras Al Khaimah, will open the world’s longest and highest zip-line. It will be on the highest peak, Jebel Jais which is 6,268 above sea level. I mention that because the emirate is keeping the actual height and length of the zip-line a closely guarded secret until the opening, presumably so that no other zip-line owner can rival their claims by adding to existing ones. The will be two lines together designed so that friends can travel with each other at the same time. Flyers will travel horizontally rather than the usual position. Numbers will be limited to 250 per day.

Food tourism attracts more and more visitors so the opening in Italy of an agri-food theme park sounds like a winner. Last Wednesday, FICO (Italian Farming Factory) located near Bologna opened to the public promising to offer a unique experience to its foodie visitors But this is more than just a giant farm shop with a café thrown along to entice you to stay a bit longer. In the words of the organisers, “ FICO will embody the wonders of Italian bio-diversity.” The complex – I can’t think of another word to describe it, has 2 hectares of open fields, 40 farming factories, 40 restaurants, a market, 6 classrooms, 6 large educational “rides”, theatre and cinema facilities. Yes, a farm shop as we are used to is not what FICO is!

the Acropolis at night

the Acropolis in Athens

Last week at the World Travel Market it was announced that the Greek capital, Athens, was going to be promoted as a city break destination. Five million of us are expected to visit the city in 2017 but, as far as I know, it has never been promoted as a city break more as an entry point for Greece. A new body called the Athens Tourism partnership will promote the city as a contemporary centre of culture and an attractive year-round tourism destination. The first part of the promotion is already under way and is called “One City. Never Ending Stories”.

ABTA says that holiday sickness claims have continued to rise in the first half of 2017. This is concerning because the travel trade association has been running a campaign for some time pointing out that fraudulent claims risk gaol sentences. Now that widespread publicity has been given to the gaoling of one couple you might have thought that fraudsters would be deterred. Maybe more recent figures might show a decline but in the meantime, ABTA has suggested ideas to the government to cut the ground from under the fraudsters by putting a cap on legal fees as there is with domestic personal injury claims.

la Digue on the Seychelles

Seychelles, La Digue

Earlier this week at the World Travel Market, Seychelles announced that British Airways would promote the islands over the next few years. They aren’t doing it out of the goodness of their hearts but rather because BA starts a direct service to the Seychelles next March after a gap of about ten years. Social media will be just one of the tools used and your travel agent will also be mentioning it to you as the build up to the summer booking period begins after Christmas. Up until early November some 19,330 UK travellers have visited the Seychelles and that is up 19% over last year. The UK is currently the country’s fifth leading tourism market but with the BA flight, it wouldn’t surprise me if the number of UK visitors almost doubled in 2018.

Starting next week is a favourite event of tourists (or it was last year, the very first year of the festival) in the Spanish destination of Salou. It is Festa del Calamar or Festival of the Squid where the main attraction is the long-running, traditional fishing competition between the fishing enthusiasts of Salou and its visitors. If you are not an angler then that is no problem as I think the main focus has become the restaurant offers and the number of ways that squid can be served. Twenty restaurants from November 24th until December 3rd will be creative in the meals

hump back whale

The hump-back whale sanctuary on the coast of the Dominican Republic is a a tourist attraction

According to the UNWTO World Tourism Barometer, tourism was strong in the first eight months of the year. International tourist arrivals in July and August exceeded 300 million for the first time ever, while many destinations reported double-digit growth, in particular in the Mediterranean. Between January and August 2017, destinations worldwide welcomed 901 million international tourist arrivals (overnight visitors), up 7% or 56 million more than in the same period of 2016. By UNWTO regions, growth was strongest in Africa (9%) and Europe (8%) followed by Asia and the Pacific (+6%), the Middle East (+5%) and the Americas (3%).

The Dominican Republic is one of the most popular Caribbean destinations for Brits. That popularity has continued during the first half of 2017 Whilst the British percentage increase was not as great as the European average of 21.7%, the UK numbers start from a higher base because it is such an important provider of holidaymakers. It sent a further 9,895 during the period more than any other country other than Russia.

Aphrodite Rock in Cyprus

Aphrodite Rock,near Paphos in Cyprus,

One place where British tourists are making an impact is a traditional holiday destination for us – Cyprus. UK arrivals from January to September this year reached 1,039,783; an 8.9%. All international arrivals totalled 3,001,603 showing that about a third of all international arrivals come from the UK. Just in September, 165,728 UK visitors visited the island compared to the 149,586 UK arrivals in September 2016; up 10.8% on last year.

Madagascar can be put back on your list of potential holiday destinations. The plague crisis is over after having started in August this year. Now, officials from the World Health Organization have given the all-clear and neighbouring countries have removed any barriers to contact between their countries and Madagascar. Now the island would like to see you head there for a holiday. Why go? Because the country is home to thousands of animal species, such as lemurs, found nowhere else, plus rainforests, beaches, and reefs.

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