Saturday snippets – 26 October 2013

By | Category: Travel news

Dubrovnik, Croatia

Updated visitor figures for Dubrovnik show that 94,845 Brits holidayed in Dubrovnik between January-September 2013, up 15 per cent on the same period in 2012. If you include local islands as well, then the number amounts to 131,167 Brits. In all we were responsible for 14% of all visitors to the city. You can expect to see a strong tourist push from both Croatia and the city in the international competition to persuade us where to summer holiday in 2014.

What is there about car parks? Firstly Richard III turns up in one in Leicester and now archaeologists have found a meeting place of a medieval Norse parliament in Dingwall. Thought to have been built on the instructions of Thorfinn the Mighty, this eleventh century mound should encourage more visitors to Dingwall although they may not appreciate the name. It seems archaeologists – with an uncharacteristic lack of enthusiasm – call sites like this “thing sites.”

Next weekend, to coincide with the World Travel Market which is held in London, the Taiwan Tourism Bureau is also staging a high profile consumer event at one of the busiest shopping centre’s in the South East, Bluewater. The event will take place on Saturday November 2 from 9am-9pm and will feature Taiwan’s aboriginal dancers who will provide entertainment throughout the day. Shoppers will also be given the opportunity to win two tickets to Taipei and a private nine day tour around the island.

The new transport spokesperson in the House of Lords, Baroness Kramer replied to yet another debate of high-speed rail this week. Nothing new, same old arguments, no decisions made but she did mention that, in the last fortnight, the rail regulator had turned down the opportunity for direct rail services between Shrewsbury and London as well as Blackpool and London. Why? Because it is nearly impossible to find new train paths she says. But there used to be a Shrewsbury link via Leamington Spa on the Chiltern Line rails. That’s still underused. I can’t believe that there isn’t some space that can be used on freight only lines if they looked harder. But then solving problems like this might reduce the need for HS2 to take the pressure of existing lines. Sometimes the cynic in me just takes over!

A joint investigation by Corporate Watch and The Independent suggests that certain companies are avoiding tax. Companies named Midland Expressway, which runs the M6 Toll road, Gatwick and Bristol Airports.

Philippine Airlines will re-introduce direct flights from London Heathrow to Ninoy Aquino International Airport in Manila, with the first flight landing on 4 November 2013. Flights ceased in 1998 so this is the first time in 15 years that there will be direct flights. With British Airways you have to change somewhere in Asia depending on which flight you are. Just over 115,000 from the UK travel to the Philippines each year for business and holidays.

Armagh Gaol in Northern Ireland was the subject of a debate in the Northern Ireland Assembly led by Dominic Bradley. Planning permission was given last May for it to become a hotel – after conversion of course. You couldn’t “sell” cells as the prisoners knew them (Or could you?) the same developer has a hotel in the old Oxford Gaol in the castle grounds so what’s the delay members were asking as weeds were growing from the roof. I can think of other hotels like that as well. But when Armagh Gaol finally gets converted it is sure to be quite an appealing place to say.

Tourism Ireland has announced that, after a period when British visitors declined, that there has been a return to growth from Britain, with a 3.5% increase in visitors from that market, January-September, including growth of +9% for the peak summer months of July to September. Tourism Ireland is rolling out the “GB Path to Growth” plan this year to boost travel from this market.

At Blackbushe Airport in Hampshire this week, a sign was unveiled reminding visitors of the time when this was the second busiest airport in the country up until 1960. It was here that the package holiday combining flight with accommodation started when Eagle Airways created the product in the 1950’s.

Apart from the HS2 debate in parliament I mentioned earlier, there were two others, one suggesting that Air Passenger Duty (APD) be abolished and the other on aviation strategy. I seem to have waded through hundreds of pages in order to find anything interesting but my conclusions are that members in the Commons talked a lot about airports in the south east, made no decisions and just rehearsed arguments you will have already have heard. On APD, the government, said once again the tax would stay. Only 13 MP’s voted for its abolition whilst 284 voted to keep the tax. It looks like the industry lobbies, British Airways, the airports are having no effect at all with their interviews, lobbying and media space.

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