Saturday snippets: 6th January 2018

By | Category: Travel news

Conwy Castle in North Wales – one of the finest Norman castles anywhere

Last year, more than 907,000 people visited Cadw‘s sites in Wales (Cadw is the state run body responsible for heritage sites in Wales such as Cardiff and Chepstow Castles as well as the old cathedral inn St Davids. The revenue this generated was almost 20% up on 2016.  The most visited castles were both in North Wales; Conwy with 218, 185 visitors and Caernarfon with 206,185 visitors. With Caerphilly in the south seeing more than 100,000, these three places are alone responsible for all half of all Cadw visitors.

The Niagara region of the Canadian province of Ontario is seen as one of the world’s best producers of icewine and this year the setting matches the name since you will have seen the television pictures of lots of snow there due to the recent cold snap where temperatures are up to twenty degrees below zero. The Niagara Icewine Festival runs from 12-28th January and celebrates a wine which begins when the grapes are harvested whilst frozen on to vines in temperatures colder than –8oC. Now in its 23rd year, for three weekends in January from the 12-28th 2018, the festival gives visitors the opportunity to sample the sweet wine. It coincides with the annual Winter WineFest in Niagara’s Twenty which takes place from 12-14th January.  Niagara Falls also has its own Icewine festival located in the Scotiabank Convention Centre from 26-27th January 2018. With tickets costing from $49 and that include three hours of sampling Icewine from more than 20 wineries as well as entertainment from some of Niagara’s greatest musicians.

Egypt may not be such a great place for a bargain holiday next year. Russia will start resume direct flights as from February 1, 2018. Flights were halted after a Russian passenger plane crashed killing all 224 people on board. Charter flights will resume in the following April. If the Russians return in the same vast numbers as before the crash it probably means that hoteliers will be less inclined to discount their rates. In the UK the re-opening of flights to Sharm is still awaited.

Scones at Scone Palace. Image © Graeme Hart.
Perthshire Picture Agency

The power of television has been proven again by the visit of cook, Mary Berry, to Scone Palace in Scotland. As part of BBC One’s Mary Berry’s Country Secrets, Berry spent ten days filming there. The programme ran in November and almost immediately there was an upsurge in the number of visits both physical ones and ones to the Scone Palace website. It meant that 115,000 visitors went to the palace last year. As a piece of useless information given the name of the palace, apparently 42,500 of the visitors bought a scone whilst there! Don’t plan on going to see the Palace yet; it doesn’t re-open until March 30th.

Just before Christmas there was a brief story courtesy of the local newspaper,  The News-Review, about the town of Oakland in the American state of Oregon. The town council voted to implement an 8% transient occupancy tax. In English that means a n accommodation or bed tax. The problem is that there are no hotels, motels, guesthouses or B&B’s in the town just a one-room online vacation rental so why put  into place a tax that will raise no money. And why even waste councillors time discussing it?  The local mayor,  Ms Keehley says, according to the newspaper, “We decided to jump on this before we have the need for it.” A comment on the story from someone calling themselves “Mynamehere,” didn’t think much of the idea. He/She wrote, “Oakland would be better off offering incentives to come to Oakland rather than hindrances.”


This is Male, the capital of the Maldives

One place that does have accommodation and accommodation to suit all tastes is the Maldives. During November, the destination had an 18.7% increase in UK visitors compared to 2016 and represented 7.9% of all visitors to the Maldives that month. In total, 94,258 UK visitors travelling their in the first 11 months of 2017. The total number of arrivals to the country in 2017 stood at 1,246,502 by the end of November and when compared with the same period in 2016, total tourist arrivals have increased by 6.8%.

Like the Maldives, Greece also saw an increase in tourists last November. The Greek Tourism Confederation (SETE) said that international arrivals rose by 6.2% that month and 8.6% for the first eleven months of the year.

Not many readers will be visiting Saudi Arabia this month but, if you are, a journey 120 kilometres south of the capital of Riyadh to Al-Dahna will take you to the King Abdulaziz Camels Festival which runs throughout the month. Camels are not really my cup of tea as I have found travelling them induces motion sickness. Watching them only as the festival intends may be the solution to having a higher regard for them!

there will be more flights from the UK and Ireland to Toronto this year

In airline news, Toronto in Canada will see more Britons and Irish this summer. Shannon in Ireland will see a new service to Toronto from Air Canada, British Airways will increase services from Gatwick and a new airline to our shores, Primera Air will fly from Birmingham and Stansted. easyJet will fly from Liverpool John Lennon Airport to Dalaman in Turkey, Palermo in Sicily and Pula in Croatia as from July 28th. From Southend it will fly to Bordeaux, Prague, Dubrovnik and Pula from July 25th. Jet2 Airlines will introduce flights from Belfast International and Birmingham to Naples as from May 2018. TAP Air Portugal has announced a new operation between London City Airport and Porto, as from 25th of March.

Finally some good news for those driving to Wales as from Monday 8th of January. For the first time since tolls were introduced on the two Severn bridges, the amount motorists pay will go down instead of increasing. The toll for car drivers drops from £6.70 to £5.60. Eventually the tolls will go by the end of the year. It won’t only be the tourism industry and visitors that will be cheering when the tolls finally go and the traffic jams at the toll booths end! Commuters, hauliers and industrialists will be pleased as well.



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