Saturday snippets: 13th of July 2019

By | Category: Travel news

Just as APD taxes in the UK have suddenly become taxes that politicians don’t want to cut because they may deter people from flying and thus reduce carbon emission, France has decided to introduce France an eco-tax on flying It will be €1.50 for economy tickets within France or the EU and a maximum of €18 for long-haul business-class flights. These are only departure taxes and it is thought that it will generate between €180 and €280 million. The government says this will be invested in cleaner transport (how about electric planes?) Being a cynic, the French government seems to me have jumped on a bandwagon. The money won’t deter flyers but it will help to bring cash in and probably saves the government from having to use other cash resources to support renewables or new forms of energy! If it was serious about an eco-tax it would have been much higher.

Air France says the tax will cost it about €60 million

It has been announced that the Cairngorm funicular won’t be available to ferry skiers up to to the Cairngorm Mountain ski Centre this coming winter, making two winters in a row. The structural problems are even more major than was thought with piers, beams and foundations all needing strengthening. Apparently the repairs will not be possible until spring or summer next year according to the owners. So as to continue to attract skiers, the same procedures will apply as last winter ie by artificial snow-making at lower levels and ski tows to the higher runs. But this delay is likely to deter skiers from going there and once deterred, they may not return even after repairs are made and the railway re-opens.

Back in the 1960’s the Scottish racing driver, Jim Clark, was the man to beat. In just four years he was the F1 champion twice and second twice as well as winning the Indianapolis 500. Sadly he died in a crash in 1968 and, ten years later, his parents donated all his trophies plus other memorabilia. A trust was formed and a memorial room to Clark was opened. On Thursday, the new Jim Clark Motorsport Museum opened in the Scottish border town of Duns. It is open each day apart from Wednesday and adult admission is £5. Once paid, that admission fee gives you repeated entry for a whole year

At the beginning of the week, the Magnetic Opera Festival opened on the Italian island of Elba perhaps better known as being one of the islands on which Napoleon was imprisoned. The festival lasts until the 22nd of July and whilst not to decry the performances or the artists what makes this festival more appealing is the setting. It is in a mine. the Ginevro Mine which was abandoned in 1981, but in the recent years has been re-opened to tourists for visits and as a venue for cultural events. With a tribute to the legendary Rudolph Nureyev, performances of Porgy and Bess and Turandot, how those events can be staged in the surroundings of a mine is something that probably needs to be seen to be believed.

Another music festival just about to open is that Verbier Festival in  Italy. Running frm the 18th of July until the 3rd of August, this – the 26th festival – has its own festival orchestra opening the event before the three different performances a day take over until the final day. Lest readers think all summer music festivals (except our Proms which start on the 19th of July) take place abroad let me mention the Fishguard International Music Festival which this year celebrates its 50th anniversary. For an opener it has a world class attraction bringing together Bryn Terfel, pianist Llŷr Williams and harpist, Hannah Stone (Official Harpist to the Prince of Wales for four years up until 2015) at St David’s Cathedral one of the most memorable stings for a concert by three such giants.

In the last few years, traditional or legacy airlines have veered more towards the service provided by low-cost airlines. Anything that can be charged for is being charged so an aisle seat is extra on some airlines, the amount of leg space has diminished unless you pay more and certain snacks have been removed all together unless you pay. Flyers on US airlines have probably fared the worst and now at least one airline – Delta – seems to have thought it has gone too far. Or it may have decided that offering long-haul travellers perks is a way to win them back from other carriers. On flights lasting more than six-and-a-half hours, passengers in economy will be offered Bellini cocktails and a hot towel service. OK it’s not much but it’s a start and you can almost guarantee that other airlines will copy the idea if they start losing passengers to Delta.

Some time ago Just about Travel mentioned that Thailand was considering introducing compulsory travel insurance for visitors. In a country where tourism accounts for about 18% of GDP, it is vital – not just important – to keep visitors coming. There is still no date for the introduction but it was suggested at a n announcement from the Office of Insurance Commission that it was coming. What it covers eg death, injury or medical claims is still un clear but it seems that all international tourists will be paying about the equivalent of 52p all of which is going to go into a pot to provide the money to pay out claims. With 41.1 million overseas visitors expected to visit Thailand this year according to Dr. Suttipol Taweechai, Secretary-general of the IOC, will a fee of just 52P be sufficient for all claims?

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