Saturday snippets: 10th March 2018

By | Category: Travel news
Burning the papier mache figures in Las Fallas

Las Fallas in Valencia- the final night when the papier mache figures are burnt.

If it is March it has to be time for Las Fallas in the Spanish city of Valencia. This year it will run from the 15th until the 19th of March. (a good weekend break opportunity!) This year’s festival promises to be one of the most environmentally friendly ever, with the 300 fallas commissions aiming to recycle more than 100 tons of glass over a two-week period, and reusable souvenir plastic cups available for one euro.

In Malawi, two mature, male lions have been released into Liwonde African Parks from the Majete Wildlife Reserve. Whilst two lions may not sound a lot they will be the first lions in Liwonde after a four year lull. Two lionesses from South Africa will also be released after they too, spend some time to enable authorities to monitor their wellbeing, adjustment, and bonding. Then they will have the freedom of the wider park. This is all part of the Lion Recovery Fund where populations of the vulnerable species are being revitalised as part of an effort to restore the country’s parks, rehabilitate wildlife populations and encourage tourism for the benefit of local communities. More lions will be introduced over the coming years. Eventually it is hoped that wildlife tourism will be as big as it is in neighbouring countries.

Barbados has re-launched its Barbados Family and Friends Club (BFF), offering Barbadians living overseas the opportunity to win more attractive cash rewards. Why should they get these rewards? It is to encourage them to promote the island and by doing so get us to book holidays there. If they don’t know about their homeland, those out-of-the-way things off the tourist maps that most holidaymakers want to find then who would? Originally the club started in 2009 and the purpose of the re-launch is to persuade even more Barbadians living in the UK to promote their country by rewarding them for the additional business they bring to the country.

Following the announcement from British Airways last week, Virgin Atlantic is to offer cheaper, hand luggage only fares (called “Light”) from this spring but as yet, no date has been announced. It has also announced some fancy new names for services. “Delight” economy fares will offer three inches more legroom, premium check-in and priority boarding, and “Classic” economy fares, will give free seat selection. All three fare types would receive the same on-board service, including a meal and access to Virgin’s inflight entertainment system and wifi. Light fares, which will be non-refundable, will allow passengers to take one bag plus a handbag into the cabin, but they won’t get a check-in baggage allowance. Virgin’s existing Premium Economy class will remain, but it will be re-named Premium.

the wildlife is a major draw for visitors to go to India

India saw a 15.6%, increase in tourism numbers last year but some was due to domestic tourism. International tourist arrivals were 16.5 million last year and tourism contributes about 8% to the GDP of India whilst employing some 14 million people. At ITB, Suman Billa, Joint Secretary of the Ministry of Tourism, stated that in terms of international tourist travels, India is growing and the travellers are spending more  and that they are staying longer and spending more.

The UK’s first museum dedicated to LGBTQ is to open in London, but not for a few years yet. To be called, Queer Britain: The National LGBTQ+ Museum, the thinking is still in the early stages but a site in south London has already been highlighted. The idea is that it will include art, culture, history and science, featuring permanent and temporary exhibitions, as well as immersive digital technology and virtual reality experiences. The museum will also launch a national story-gathering campaign to find and record hidden histories, especially those of older generations that are in danger of being lost. The museum is hoping to stage pop-up exhibitions and events in partnership with other institutions to increase its visibility while its bricks and mortar site is being developed. “LGBTQ+ activists have strongly campaigned for a permanent UK home for queer history in recent years.

If you are holidaying in Sri Lanka you should be aware that one “normal” source of information, social media has been blocked by the state so common sense should be your watchword. Due to unrest, you should stay away from demonstrations and potential flashpoints says the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

Baggage reclaim. Will automation do away with lost baggage?

New thoughts from SITA – one of the big IT providers to the air travel industry – suggest that technology may resolve the issue of mislaid luggage in the years to come. There are robot baggage holders at two airports in Japan, Kansai and Osaka, and the automation has helped reduce baggage issues but with passenger travel expecting to double in the next twenty years that can only mean more baggage. SITA thinks “intelligent machines will enable baggage to be autonomously managed from the moment a passenger checks in their bag to when it arrives at the destination – all without human intervention. For example, in this vision of the future, autonomous loaders could be used to transport bags between the terminal and aircraft. Baggage data will also allow airlines and airports to provide passengers more relevant information on their baggage as it makes its journey from departure to destination.” Now if only SITA and other suppliers can deliver.

Finally, Thomas Cook is offering a no deposit, payment plan for customers booking holidays departing between November 1 2018 and the end of October, 2019. There is no up-front payment and holidaymakers pay the balance off in monthly direct debit instalments. Thomas Cook said the new service, which is available online and in store, was the first of its kind to be offered by a tour operator.

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