Saturday snippets: 15th of September 2018

By | Category: Travel news

The V&A Dundee. Image ©
Hufton Crow

Perhaps the most exciting new attraction of the year, V&A Dundee,  opens today in Dundee. This design museum which is apparently locally being referred to as the V&Tay (Dundee sits on the River Tay) is a staggeringly obvious addition to attractions in the city and comes complete with a Charles Rennie Mackintosh designed tearoom which has been transferred from Glasgow and rebuilt in the museum. Standing (to me at any rate) like a prow of a ship sticking out into the river, part of the museum is given over to Scottish design with the rest available for exhibitions. It is hoped that half-a-million people a year will visit the free museum (you pay only for specific exhibitions) in year one. Now that the V&A has opened a museum outside London, perhaps it could look at other UK cities as future museum sites.

On Thursday the UK government issued some more thoughts on what problems there might be if there was no agreed deal with the EU on Brexit. On the plus side it looks as though there will not be an increase in mobile roaming charges because two companies have already agreed not to raise charges so the others will probably follow. On the debit side, we may face increased credit card costs and we might (only might) need to get an international licence in order to drive on the continent.  You might also need to have six months validity to your passports in order to be allowed into the EU. But all this is conjecture and, although the mainstream media would like to scare you a bit to boost readership, nothing is decided so, in Sergeant Jones’s immortal words, “Don’t panic!”

Barbados – the warmth and the rum may attract you as well as the cuisine!

A favourite fixture on the Caribbean calendar is the Food and Rum Festival which takes place in Barbados. This year it runs from the 18-21st October. Now in its 9th year it will also mark the end of Barbados’s ‘Year of Culinary Experiences.’ This year, the festival line-up includes an opening night to remember with the Oistins Bay Gardens cook off, food and rum pairings at the ‘Taste of the Exotic’ signature rum event on the Friday evening. Saturday will host a Gourmet Safari series taking place at various pop-ups and restaurants cross the island, and Sunday’s climax will be at the Holder’s Polo Field for the beloved ‘Taste the Spirits of Polo’ event. Laying claim to the ‘birthplace of rum’, Barbados is home to the Mount Gay distillery which is believed to produce the oldest rum found anywhere in the world.

If you are holidaying in Mallorca next week then the island is hosting its Classic Car Week.  Classic car owners are brought together for a week of processions, awards, showcases and driving routes on the islands of Mallorca. You might see classic cars anywhere on the island but if you go to any of the arranged events then they will all be free! It lasts from the 19th until the 23rd of September.

Qatar. British visitor numbers are increasing

One country that has not seen a rise in tourism numbers is the Gulf state of Qatar. It saw a drop of 35 % in visitors overall in the first half of the year but that is obviously due to the dispute that it is having with Saudi Arabia and some other Gulf states. From Europe numbers are up by 7% no doubt helped the fact that the national airline has opened so many new routes. The biggest source of visitors now is from Asia which sends about 40% of all the international visitors.

Emphasising a clutch or recent awards for customer service and favourite airport, Doncaster Sheffield Airport has branded itself as ‘Easy, friendly, relaxed.’ brand, to reflect its growing reputation as the UKs favourite airport  at least according to Saga Holidaymakers. What the airport is concentrating on its providing what it says is minimal queuing, spacious facilities, baggage returned quickly and making passengers feel at ease. The airport has seen a record 80% growth in passenger numbers over the last three years to 1.3 million per year and flights to over 55 destinations.

In the House of Commons this week, there was a short debate about battlefields in the UK that was introduced by Chris Skidmore MP who is the author of titles connected to the Battle of Bosworth Field, the battle that ended the Wars of the Roses. The reason for the debate concerned the protection the law in England allowed to preserve those sites. Battlefields are great attractors of visitors. Witness how busy Culloden and Bannockburn sites are in Scotland. But, as Kevin Brennan MP pointed out, 8 battlefields are under threat from development, 16 are endangered by arable cultivation and 10 have been subjected to unregulated metal detecting. As for ships sunk at sea to which Luke Pollard MP referred, it was only a month or so ago that the media broke a story about the desecration of historic sites by scrap dealers in South East Asia. It appears that there is insufficient protection and some may be used for housing or commercial exploitation rather than for heritage and tourism reasons.

APD affects incoming visitors not just outgoing ones

The APD (Air Passenger Duty) is being discussed by the Welsh Affairs Committee of the Westminster Parliament. They are enquiring into the arguments for and against the devolution of APD to Wales, what impact devolution would have on Welsh airports and others (in particular, I would have thought, Bristol) and what lessons can be learnt from Ireland and Scotland. Interestingly it is estimated that Wales currently contributes £11 million in APD to the Treasury, which is the equivalent of 0.4% of UK APD revenues. Given the population is 4.8% of the entire UK it suggests that fewer people fly from Wales than other nations; that people from wales fly from airports other than Cardiff;  that Welsh people take disproportionately more short haul breaks than elsewhere or that they holiday less. If you want to submit thoughts, the deadline is 24th of October by clicking here.

Poignantly, a subway station has re-opened in New York. Called World Trade Center Cortlandt Street, it is the new name for Cortlandt Street which was the stop for the World Trade Center. The then station was buried by the rubble from the twin towers and hasn’t been re-opened since September 11th 2001. The walls of the station have words from the Declaration of Independence and the Universal Declaration of Rights on them.

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