Saturday snippets: 2nd March 2019

By | Category: Travel news

I have never been a particular fan of travel guides largely because they are often out-of-date by the time they finally get published. But I might be persuaded to change my mind by a new development that is part of the Next Generation Paper (NGP) project, described as a marriage between paper and digital technology. What the University of Surrey has developed is where state-of-the-art electronics are embedded within paper or image recognition software to trigger digital content on mobile phones while a user is reading the book. The first book is the travel publisher, Bradt’s Slow Travel Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly.

map of the Sinai
Egyptians would welcome Britons back to Sharm

The UK prime minister, Theresa May was in Sharm El-Sheikh for a summit meeting last weekend. She can fly there but the Foreign and Commonwealth Office deems it dangerous for us to go there. In the meantime, those tour operators who specialise in the region are suffering as much as the Sharm hotels who have been hoping for some time that the advice would be rescinded. We don’t all have personal bodyguards like Mrs M but surely given all the security improvements that have been made there it is time to say we can travel there again?

This morning’s copy of The Times leads with a story that says holidays this Easter could be cheaper. Calling the discounting “unprecedented” it says that the decline in bookings is due to Brexit. The response by tour operators has been to cut prices with the newspaper saying that discounting is as high as 24%. That’s good news for us holidaymakers or at least for those of us that are still prepared to holiday in the EU. Should some of us be nervous about travelling? Personally I think not but I could always be wrong. With Brexit what seems right one day may not be on another day.

The current dispute between India and Pakistan is having an effect on travel. Thai Airways cancelled flights to Europe on Wednesday evening/Thursday morning but are now up and running and flying over China instead. Airlines flying from the Far East and Australia are avoiding Indian and Pakistani airspace. Consequently some flights might be delayed slightly as they may need an additional stop to refuel so check with the airports if your flying out or meeting people. Air India, Jet Airways and Pakistan International seem largely unaffected although readers are reminded that if you flying into Mumbai in India you may experience delays because of runway maintenance there.

If your flight is affected and you are wondering about compensation then the Indian government has just announced new consumer rights which have been in discussion stage for months. According to the Hindustan Times, the new rights will be published in a few days but, in the meantime, the newspaper lists what the new passenger rights are likely to be. If, however, you are flying into or out of India to one of the EU countries then EU 261will apply. Which takes precedence I wonder? The Airline Passengers Association of India carries a page that lists what your rights are at the moment and will, no doubt, update the page when the new rules come in officially.

Canada had a record-breaking year in 2018 welcoming 21.13 million travellers.  Overnight arrivals to Canada from overseas not including the US reached an all-time high of 6.7 million in 2018. Needless to say the USA provides the largest single contingent with more than 14 million visitors. About 725,000 British visitors go to Canada each year with the Chinese making up about 700,000 visitors.

twenty years sine there was a direct flight between Heathrow and Guernsey

Can it really be twenty years since Guernsey had a direct flight to Heathrow? Yes, there has been a flight into Gatwick on Aurigny but that has met transferring to Heathrow for most long-haul destinations so the announcement from Flybe that it will start a regular daily flight from the end of March will please many islanders.

Another story about Heathrow opened the week and I am in two minds about it. The airport announced that it would charge airlines a lower rate provided that they fly full. Airlines may save up to 20% by flying full instead of flying with empty seats. The idea behind this is that it would help expand passenger numbers without the need for additional planes. I am probably being a bit selfish in that I prefer having a less than full flight in that I can stretch out a bit and I might avoid the dreaded middle seat. You also seem to get faster service from the cabin crew if a plane is less than full.

Towards the end of this month and in time for Easter, the Legoland Florida Resort is opening a new addition called The Lego Movie World. It has three family-friendly marquee attractions, inspired by the characters and themes of the worldwide blockbuster The Lego Movie and The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part. The rides, thankfully, sound much more interesting than the titles of the films. The Masters of Flight ride is a ride suspended aboard Emmet’s Triple Decker Couch and includes the first ever 180 degree turn; Unikitty’s ride sings and spins with her ever-changing emotions and the Battle of Bricksburg is themed around huge Duplo aliens.

Despite all the political woes in Florida over the last year of so about financing the tourism promotion arm of the state, Florida saw 126.1 million out-of-state visitors during 2018. It marks the eighth record year in a row with 2018 growth of 6.2% and that’s ahead of the WTTC average for the year. However that increase was largely made up of US visitors than those from overseas. That figure was more concerning in that there was an overall drop of 1%. Britons made up 1.5 million of the number of overseas visitors and this was down from the 1.59 million recorded in 2017. The reason for Britons staying away Probably the value of sterling against the dollar rather than anything to do with hotel prices or airline prices neither of which rose substantially.

Minnie & Micky Mouse
theme parks are the main reason Britons travel to Florida

Yet another survey about the impact of Brexit, this time from Point A Hotels suggests 60% of respondents said that they intend to take two or more holidays within Europe in 2019. 60% also said that a possible negative impact on exchange rates was one of their main concerns, along with half of respondents generally concerned with holidays becoming more expensive. Nearly one in three of those surveyed said that they’d be more likely to take a holiday in Britain. Almost 66% said that their travel plans were unaffected in 2019.

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