Saturday snippets: 24th February 2018

By | Category: Travel news

© Island Helicopters

Did you notice that it was International Tourist Guide Day on Wednesday? No, nor did I. The idea for the day came from the World Federation of Tourist Guide Associations to honour tourist guides It started in 1990 and is held on every 21st of February. Today there are over 200,000 trained guides in Europe alone. Last year in the UK, the Advertising Standards Authority announced measures designed to curb tour operators and unqualified “guides” who offer fraudulently advertised “free tours” to unsuspecting tourists, therefore tightening up an industry which has burgeoned with untrained people offering knowledgeable guide tours.

The Isles of Scilly Steamship Group has announced the start of a new helicopter service from Land’s End Airport to the Isles of Scilly from May this year. Called Island Helicopters, it will operate  a year-round  service  from Land’s End Airport, with up to eight return flights a day. It won’t operate the fifteen minute flight every day. Operated in partnership with the Isles of Scilly Steamship Group, it means that travellers to the islands have a choice of helicopter, plane flights or ship. In 2017, 214,000 passengers travelled to the isles of Scilly. Passengers can park at Land’s End Airport or a new park and ride service will chauffer them from Penzance train station or their accommodation to and from Land’s End Airport in just 15 minutes.

Plans for a zip wire in the Lake District have been withdrawn by the company proposing the idea after objections from the Ministry of Defence. There was a lot of local opposition as well with some claiming it would encourage eve more tourists to come to the lake District, an area that many believe is overcrowded with visitors anyway.

What was one called the Museum of Rugby in Twickenham re-opened this month as the World Rugby Museum. But it is more than just a name change. It has been completely rebuilt in the South Stand and contains of over 38,000 objects. There are now permanent galleries as well as a regular programme of special exhibitions.

Costa Rica

Costa Rica

Another destination that is growing in popularity is Costa Rica 76,173 visitors from the UK travelled to Costa Rica in 2017 – representing an increase of 6.7% on the previous year. A total of 4,321 Irish travellers also visited Costa Rica in 2017, up 8.6% compared to 2016. The UK has maintained its premier position is the largest source of visitors from Europe. He numbers are probably boosted by the fact that British Airways introduced a direct service to Costa Rica from Gatwick a year ago. In total, Costa Rica welcomed 2,959,869 worldwide visitors in 2017, a 1.2% upsurge compared to 2016.


Whether it is coincidental or not with the RAF Centenary celebrations, from 1 April at the Spitfire and Hurricane Memorial Museum at Manston in Kent there will be a 1/1 Spitfire simulator with authentic controls for visitors to try.  The full experience will take 30 minutes, so visitors will get a thrilling sense of what it’s like to fly a Spitfire.  Booking is essential and will start in March.

Corfu – most of Greece has had an exceptional year

This week Greece announced that it had received more than 27 million inbound tourists in 2017, (not counting cruise passengers) which was up 9.7% over 2016. French visitor numbers were up 8.1%, Germans by 18.1%, Americans and Russians both by 11.1% and Britons by just 3.7%. Why such a small increase by Britons? Could it be because there had been higher percentages in previous years so any increase is less marked? The tourist board will be hoping for many more visitors from the UK this year especially as Spain is becoming more expensive according to travel trade experts

Barely a few weeks after Virgin announced that they were interested in a hyperloop in Europe they have announced that they will do a feasibility study regarding constructing a hyperloop linking Pune and Mumbai. It will start with an operational demonstration track. And, if all is successful, the hyperloop should come into commercial use by about the middle of the next decade. The journey will take just 25 minutes.

Minnie & Micky Mouse

More price rises at Disney and Universal

Back in 2016, both Disney and Universal announced that they were going to operate a variable pricing structure; less busy days wouldn’t be expensive as projected busier ones like weekends and public holidays. The prices were still high enough at between $105 and $124 a day at Disney that year. Now both Universal and Disney have announced further price hikes. At Disney the price can be as high as $135 per day and at Universal the price increase is $5 per day. It means it will be $120 at Universal Hollywood Studios and $115 at Universal Orlando.

Once again, Willie Walsh – the boss of IAG the holding company for BA, Iberia, Aer Lings and Vueling –  has called on the UK government to abandon  APD saying that if it went it would make it more likely that he would operate its budget airline, LEVEL, from Birmingham, Cardiff, Edinburgh and Manchester airports.  He claimed that British consumers are losing out because of APD. In Spain and France, LEVEL can offer lower fares than it can in the UK. APD undermines our ability, he said to introduce new low cost flights. It doesn’t seem to stop IAG’s rivals like Norwegian and Wizz from introducing log-haul flights though!

Stansted Airport has submitted a planning application to its local council for expansion. It wants to increase the number of passengers from its current cap of 35 million to 43 million. At present it handles about 26 million passengers pa. Given the local pressure against expansion and the length of time before any completion, the airport is starting the process early. It says it can expand by making better use of runway capacity without breaking caps on flight numbers or aircraft noise and that it would create 5,000 jobs.


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