Saturday snippets: 22nd of September 2018

By | Category: Travel news

part of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office that people don’t often see. Image © FCO

This weekend is when Open House takes place in London, an opportunity for you to visit buildings many of which are not normally open. More than 800 buildings will open the doors to let you see the inside. In London that includes places like the Sir Edwin Lutyens designed 1 Finsbury Circus, the Unilever Building, 10 Downing Street and the Abbey Mills Pumping Station. It also includes the Foreign & Commonwealth Office, the façade of which does absolutely nothing to reveal the architecturally astonishing sight that hides behind it. Claimed to be the biggest architectural festival in the world, it isn’t only older buildings that you can visit. Modern buildings are included as well such as the might Shard (entrance is free) to houses designed in the last couple of years.

According to Muriel Gray, chairwoman of the Glasgow School of Art‘s board, Glasgow’s Mackintosh building which was very severely damaged by fire in June, will definitely be rebuilt, according to Muriel Gray, chairwoman of the Glasgow School of Art’s board. The website shows the restoration before the fire so it gives an idea of the complexity facing the school in re-opening it. Before the fires the school was a major tourist attraction in the city due to its link with Charles Rennie Mackintosh. There were thoughts that the building might have had to be demolished the damage looked so bad. As it is students may not be able to return to the site for many years to come.

Nearly 77 million international travellers visited the United States in 2017, a 2% increase over 2017. The US authorities had released no information about holiday numbers for a while due to an error in the way people were counted at certain airports like New York’s JFK. The error goes back a few years so all data has been re-calibrated. Growing markets were led by South Korea (+17.8%), Brazil (+11%), Argentina (+10%), Ireland (+9%), and Canada. (+4.8%) UK visitor numbers are down probably due to the decline of sterling against the dollar.

La Digue, Seychelles

La Digue in the Seychelles

Unlike the USA, the number of Britons travelling to Seychelles during the first eight months of the year has risen. Not just a few percentage points but by 16% whereas overall visits to the islands are only up by 1%.  Europe, as a whole, could only manage a 7% increase in numbers so not only was the UK over twice the European average it was 16 times the world average as well. If you thought those figures are good then look at Austria which has seen a 41% increase over 2017. But the UK and Austria start from lower numbers making an increase magnified by Germany is still the largest source of visitors followed by France.

One of the most recently opened attractions is also one of the most popular. The Harry Potter exhibitions at the Warner Bros. Studio Tour London have decided on a theme of the dark arts for an “extravaganza opening next weekend and running until November thus covering both Halloween and Guy Fawkes Night. This gives fans the opportunity to walk down a gloomy Diagon Alley and practise your wand combat techniques against Death Eaters in a live duel. Right up the street of Harry Potter fans so beware it might get very busy especially at weekends and half-term.

After Edinburgh’s council voted for a tax on tourists it was followed by the council for the Highlands and Aberdeen. Now the council in Moray, that area that includes Elgin, Tomintoul, Lossiemouth and Buckie and which also includes part of the Cairngorms National Park in its remit has decided its wants to put a £1 tax on tourists per night. As mentioned before this isn’t a tax that councils can implement without permission from the Scottish government. Do they have the legal status to allow it? There certainly seems to be a bandwagon building up in the country. Just like complaints when APD was introduced and the fears that it had on tourism, where are the research reports indicating how a bed tax might influence tourists to go elsewhere?

No airline passenger is happy with the prospect of a disruptive passenger on their flights. As part of the government and industry backed ‘One Too Many’ the Travel Retail Forum reminds us that there is more likelihood of disruption from those travelling in groups and that the larger the group the more likely there is to be disruption. Groups account for up to two-thirds of all incidents at individual airports. It warns that late September and October is a popular time for people to take advantage of cheaper flights or jetting off for end of season parties. “We want to particularly remind these groups that consequences will be enforced and that means the party could end before you reach your destination.”

locks, locks and more lockson Accademia bridge a few years ago

I yield to no-one in my fondness for Venice but the latest plans by the local council might tempt the patience of tourists. According to Sky News, the council will be asked to vote next month on measures which include picnicking in areas other than parks, pausing on bridges, attaching locks to bridges (the bridge at Accademia a few years ago had hundreds attached to it) no noise at night or during siesta time and no busking, drawing or painting without a permit. If, as many visitors do, you pause on a bridge to have a photograph taken would that break the proposed rules? How do you even mention a pause? Break the rules and you could face a fine of up to €500.

Although the summer holidays seem a distance memory especially given the weather of the last week or so, a survey from Debenhams Personal Finance suggests that, once again, we spent more than we planned on those holidays. What a surprise. How many of us manage to stick to what we wanted in the face of temptations such as kids wanting this and that and the lure of aromas from restaurant and remembering that we needed to take something back from Auntie Flora? It also seems that nearly three quarters of us felt that holidays abroad were more expensive this year.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,