Saturday snippets: December 1st 2018

By | Category: Travel news

part of the Mary Rose

For a more unusual Christmas attraction this year, you might consider the Mary Rose in Portsmouth. Unlike many Christmas festivities there is no Dickensian bonhomie, no Victorian images but images of a different age. They will be adopting what might have occurred at Henry VIII’s Christmas Court, They will be having traditions from the Royal Tudor Court where there will be dancing, merrymaking, magic, music and an audience with the King. The Tudor Christmas celebrations will run on the 8 and 9, 15 and 16, 29 and 30 of December.

For all those doom-mongers who said that planes would be grounded come the time the UK leaves the EU, there is disappointing news. Yesterday it was announced that the UK and the USA have reached agreement and that airlines would continue to fly from the UK to the US after Brexit. It looks like Canada might be the next country where a deal will be announced. Deals have already been agreed with Albania, Georgia, Iceland, Israel, Kosovo, Montenegro, Morocco and Switzerland. Airlines for America (A4A) said that the agreement between the USA and the UK safeguards the travel of 20 million passengers and more than 900,000 tons of cargo.

a previous Vivid Sydney show. Now comes an indigenous one superimposed on the Opera House

Australia’s largest event, Vivid Sydney, was awarded Best Tourism Event at the Australian Event Awards earlier this week.  The festival of light, music and ideas  – which celebrated its tenth anniversary in 2018 – draws over two million visitors now.  It is Vivid Light, a free outdoor event of light art sculptures, installations and projections on buildings that seems to attract most visitors to Sydney. In 2018 more than 109 installations were enjoyed along a four kilometre walk that wound through The Rocks, along the Harbour Foreshore into the Royal Botanic Garden Sydney into the heart of the city. Vivid Light continued to Barangaroo (the newly developed area north of Darling Harbour), and across the Sydney Harbour Bridge to Luna Park (the funfair), Taronga Zoo and Chatswood.  The attraction is owned and run by the NSW government and Tourism NSW and will operate from late May until mid June 2019.

Zambia is concerned about news circulating in the UK that the reason that The Duchess of Sussex is not visiting Zambia with Prince Harry is due to “fears over the ZIKA virus.” This is rubbish as the virus is not, nor ever has been in Zambia. The World Health Organisation; Foreign & Commonwealth Office and The Centre for Disease, Control & Prevention, all advise that there is currently no risk of Zika when travelling to Zambia. It could be that the reason she is not going is due to her pregnancy and the strain of long-distance travel. That should not put off any other travellers from enjoying the tourist delights that Zambia has.

New research from Netflights suggest that a stopover may be the answer to avoiding long-haul stress, as over half (54%) of Brits would prefer to turn their stop-off into a small holiday. Do you travel the complete journey and get it over with in one go or pause and re-charge your battery knowing full well that you have further to travel the next day or in a few days? I suspect some adopt one policy and others prefer another. The company suggests some possible places to break the journey but surely any in Europe are inappropriate given they won’t even be half-way to a destination?

Helsinki cathedral

the cathedral and a view of Helsinki; the “real” helsinki not the VR!

Finland’s capital city, Helsinki, has created Virtual Helsinki is a digital twin of Helsinki that has been created by means of 3D modelling. The aim is to profile Helsinki as a centre of VR/AR expertise but for readers the most important aspect of the announcement is that the city wants to attract a million virtual visitors to Helsinki in 2019. But these are virtual visitors wouldn’t real ones be better? The hope is that once having explored the virtual city, people will be sufficiently interested in making a physical visit. This “city experience” has been created by the city and a VR studio called ZOAN and it will be available as from early December. It is more than many virtual tours that can be taken. According to ZOAN, visitors can tour Helsinki as it was in the early 20th century or purchase Finnish design products and have them delivered to their homes by post. In addition, as virtual reality becomes more social in the near future, friends from all around the world can meet and explore virtual destinations together.”

The company which operates  (but not owns) the CairnGorm Mountain Funicular Railway and the snow sports centre has gone bust. What does this mean for the upcoming Scottish snow sports season? Nothing immediately seems to be the answer. The business will continue to trade. The structural issues with the railway (closed since October) may have been the catalyst as that was a source of revenue in out-of-season times. A buyer is being saught.

Niall Gibbons, chief executive Tourism Ireland (which has responsibility prior to Brexit for both Ireland and Northern Ireland) the was interviewed on the BBC this week and said that tourism in Northern Ireland would be more vulnerable that other parts of the UK in the event of a no-deal Brexit.  He felt that, if British people are to stay at home, it was more likely that Scotland, the Lake District and Cornwall are the places more likely to benefit. That seems unlikely given that Northern Ireland would benefit – just as the rest of the UK would, from a weaker pound and domestic holidaymakers would be undeterred from travelling to another part of the UK.

airline seats – getting smaller, packed and with little legroom

A drunk and disruptive passenger on a Jet2 flight has been given a six-month prison sentence and has been banned from flying with the airline for life. On a flight from Tenerife to East Midlands the person abused passengers and even kicked the seat of a child. The cabin crew had to call for police assistance upon arrival. Note that sentence is a gaol sentence and not a suspended one. The courts, the airlines and airports are taking a very dim view of drunken or, to put it in its mild form, disruptive behaviour.

About a week ago, Just about Travel mentioned the case of a man who was suing his airline because he claimed he was “squashed” against a rather large passenger. This week he lost his case with the judge saying that the claimant had painted an exaggerated picture. As I said in that story, it is important that airlines, manufacturers and passenger groups look at the whole questions of how body sizes have changed and whether the seat measurements used by airlines should be altered to take into account that humans are larger than they were decades ago.

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