Saturday snippets: 5th January 2019

By | Category: Travel news

Guatemala

The cold weather of the last few days might have turned your attention to warmer spots around the world but if you were looking for a quick weekend break to get some heat then you will need a longish flight. Nowhere in Europe is much over 20 and even Morocco and the Canary Islands will only struggle to get to 20 or 21. For warmth you need to fly more than four hours and head to the Gulf, the Caribbean or even Miami to find temperatures in the mid to high twenties.

Instead of actually travelling at this late stage I console myself with thinking about warm countries. Take Guatemala for example in Central America. The temperature there will be in the middle twenties for most of next week and surely the weather is a contributory factor in attracting tourists? Between January and October 2018, the number of international tourist arrivals to the country increased by almost 15% compared to the same period in 2017, from 1,967,138 tourist arrivals to 1,716,638. By the end of 2018 the total increase in visitors is expected to be around 13% year on year. Just over 13,000 of us visited the country in 2017 and in 2019 with more tour operators offering holidays there the number should be even higher.

Fewer of us than half the figure that travel to Guatemala visit its neighbour, Honduras. There the temperatures will be in the upper twenties which will suit many readers. Expect to see travel agents promoting the country as the Honduran Institute of Tourism has launched a new campaign designed to demonstrate the diversity of the country. In a promotional video, a chap called Henry starts a journey in the country and then is guided along the way through the natural delights of the country. And as far as I am concerned it all suggests warm, or hot, weather!

Jamaican beach

Jamaica

Jamaica posted record arrivals and tourism spending in the run-up to Christmas. Arrivals were up nearly 13% and seat capacity was significantly up for the December peak season from markets in the US, Canada, the UK and Northern Europe. Over 200,000 Britons holiday on the Caribbean island every year and no wonder given that the temperature in the main resort of Montego bay is touching 30. That’s centigrade not Fahrenheit as it is at home.

It’s about the same temperature in another Caribbean destination – the Cayman Islands although there it is raining this weekend. It saw a total of 410,984 stayover visitors in the first eleven months of 2018, an 11.26% increase over the first eleven months of 2017. A favourite of American and Canadian holidaymakers due to proximity, the Cayman Islands are still seen as an upmarket destinations for many British holidaymakers.

North Korea isn’t one of the warmest places to visit it being winter there. At present it is colder than in the UK or Ireland and tonight is forecast to drop to minus twelve. Better to leave it until the summer if you fancy visiting the secretive state. But you could have found a little more about the country by travelling to the Newcastle area and watching a Blyth Spartans football match. Visit North Korea, a tour company running trips there has signed a sponsorship deal with English football club. It joins other unlikely destinations promoting themselves via football like Rwanda and Malaysia.

A court judgement has upheld a view that Uber cannot operate in Brussels. The local taxi association took action against Uber claiming that it was a taxi service. The court has agreed denying Uber’s claims that it was a car sharing service rather than a taxi provider. The law says that the only taxi services to operate whose drivers were in possession of a taxi licence and, as Uber vehicles do not have a licence ( despite many drivers being taxi drivers) Uber cannot operate. No doubt this isn’t the end of the story but Uber will have to come up with a better explanation than claiming it is a car-sharing consortia.

In Paris meanwhile there are also implications for taxi drivers though in this case it doesn’t involve Uber. New taxi rules have been set up after a traveller was overcharged a giddying amount by a taxi from the Charles de Gaulle airport. Now an official airport taxi scheme has been introduced whereby official drivers will wear numbered blue jackets so that they can easily be spotted. Operating between 5am and 23.00, the new service will have its own taxi rank so do use the new service rather than the many unofficial drivers that are seen. Incidentally, the driver who scammed the visitor was given an eight month gaol sentence for fraud and extortion involving threats.

Gatwick

Gatwick – will have new equipment to deal with drones as will Heathrow. Will all airports now install the equipment?

Following the drone incident before Christmas that saw Gatwick virtually closed for a while, both Gatwick and Heathrow are buying equipment to deal with drone infringements. Gatwick has already spent £5 million and Heathrow is about to purchase. What I’d like to know is if all other passenger airports not only in the UK and Ireland but elsewhere around the world also have the equipment on their shopping lists for 2019.

Finally you might have read that just after Christmas, a controlling stake in Gatwick Airport was sold to a French company called Vinci Airports. That company operates some 46 airports worldwide including Belfast International. Will it make any difference for passengers? Probably not

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