Saturday snippets: 17th February 2018

By | Category: Travel news

This week has seen the start of Chinese New Year. In this, the Year of the Dog, there will be celebrations in many UK and Irish cities with most of the festivities taking place between the tomorrow, the 18th and the 24th. Macao is where a number of people will visit to join in the fun, watch the parades and marvel at the decorations. There, the highlight events of the festivities are the two Parades for Celebration of the Year of the Dog, which take place on the third and ninth days of Chinese New Year (18 and 24 February) when illuminated floats and over 1000 performers from around the world make their way through the city’s atmospheric streets and plazas.

Over here, London – according to Visit London – has the biggest Chinese New Year celebrations outside Asia and the main event will be in central London tomorrow starting at 10am in the Charing Cross Road. In Manchester tomorrow events start at midday in Albert Square and in Edinburgh there will be a concert on the 22nd at 7.30 in the Usher Hall. In Birmingham the local tourist board says that about 30,000 of us will join in the free Sunday festivities in Chinatown and in Dublin, events last until March 4th.

Valencia – where many more of us visited last year…

The number of British visitors to the Spanish city of Valencia rose last year passing the 100,000 mark. The tourist board for the city acknowledges that it was helped in achieving this figure because new direct flights from Luton, Glasgow and Edinburgh  made the Spanish city more accessible. In total, UK arrivals to Spain’s third largest city reached 108,624 in 2017 up 14.2%. Visitors should increase this year as Ryanair will begin a new service to Valencia from Bristol starting in March whilst EasyJet will start a service from George Best Belfast City airport in June.

Singapore says that growth in visitor arrivals was up in 2017 across all top 10 markets and higher visitor arrivals from high- spending markets such as China, South Korea, United States and United Kingdom. Visitor arrivals increased by 6.2 per cent to 17.4 million, with 13 of the top 15 markets showing growth. From January to September 2017, tourism receipts grew strongly across most of Singapore’s top 10 markets. China (+10%), US (+22%) and UK. (+24%.)

…as we did to St Lucia…

Last year, despite the hurricanes the Caribbean had a busy year with over 30 million stay-over/tourist visits for the first time and reaching an estimated US $37 billion in total visitor spending. The impact of the September hurricanes saw visitor numbers decline by just 1.7% which must have dented the overall growth that might have been expected. The overall increase of 1.7% marked the 8th consecutive year of growth, but it was still slower than the average global growth rate of 6.7%.  Several countries reported large increases  such as Saint Lucia (11%), Belize (10.8%), and Bermuda (10.3%), while the hurricane-impacted countries recorded decreases ranging from -18% to -7%. Arrivals from the European market totalled 5.8 million and improved by an estimated 6.2%, the strongest growth among the main markets. Cruise passenger arrivals also set a new landmark in 2017, despite the hurricanes, reaching an estimated 27.0 million visits to the region, which is 2.4% higher than recorded numbers in 2016.

A new high-speed rail service has opened which might appeal to the more adventurous of readers. Between the Ethiopian capital of Addis Ababa and Djibouti, the 472 mile journey can now be made in under seven hours whereas previously the car journey could take up to three days. Some readers may say that this is old news since the announcement of the opening of the line was made a year ago. It was but commercial operations only began in January this year.

Aphrodite Rock in Cyprus

…and Cyprus

In 2017, Cyprus’ global tourist arrivals reached 3,652,073; a 14.6% increase on 2016 (3,186,531) and way above the world average. Of these, there were 1,253,839 UK arrivals; an 8.3% increase on 2016 (1,157,978). The UK (28.5%) and Greece (14.1%) were the main sources of tourism for Cyprus for December 2017. Tourist arrivals from the United Kingdom increased by 8.0% in December 2017 compared to the previous year.

Cyclone Gita hit the South Pacific country of Tonga this week and, as a result, the Foreign Office has issued a travel advisory. The worst storm in sixty years resulted in the century old parliament building in the capital, Nuku’alofa, being demolished. About half the houses (some 1,400) in the kingdom have been damaged in some way. The airport has re-opened but there is still a lot of clearing up to do and prospective visitors should check with their travel agents to see what facilities are back and running

For any of you that have been stuck in long lines trying to pass through US passport and customs, good news. In their annual report the U.S. Customs and Border Protection  says that because of the introduction of new technologies – specifically  an integrated biometric entry/exit process ) overall wait times at the top 17 airports are shorter.

Big Ben was the big Instagram hot of the year in 2017

Expedia has looked at the volume of Instagram posts and number of unique hashtags over the past year to come up with a list of 12 of the most Instagrammed spots in the UK. Big Ben (really the Elizabeth Tower) has 2.5 million Insta posts last year and is the most captured UK sight on the social network. The sight that takes the next place is Liverpool Football Club’s Anfield stadium, (not Manchester United’s ground!) which had more than 490,000 posts. Third is Stonehenge (more than 454,000 posts), fourth is the New Forest (more than 363,000) and fifth is Snowdonia in Wales (more than 360,000).

Usually when I refer to flights it is to announce new services. Not in this case. Loganair will end its service from Durham Tees Valley Airport to Aberdeen just five months after it launched. Luckily, Eastern Airways will still fly the route. This follows the ending of a service linking Durham Tees Valley to Norwich which ended after just three months. The airline blames it on the fact that it “would have needed to lease additional aircraft to continue the service.” And they didn’t know that just a few months ago?

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