Saturday snippets: 22 February 2014

By | Category: Travel news
Mount Stuart

Mount Stuart

The whisky trail in Scotland is one of the most popular tourist attractions so the opening of a new distillery should add to that appeal as everyone wants to try something new.  So the new distillery, only the second on the island, which will be opened at a listed early nineteenth century farm steading at Torabhaig on Skye’s southeast coast in 2015 should be popular. Overlooking the Sound of Sleat to Knoydart, part of the thinking is that it will attract visitors as well as those who wish to sample the new nectar.

Also in Scotland, the Mount Stuart Trust which looks after same named Mount Stuart that make up the Bute estate on the island of Bute has put up £8.5 million to redevelop re-use of redundant buildings and sites within the Estate to use for tourism . This is a large investment for a private organisation and which seems to have got little publicity outside Scotland. The Isle of Bute is known for its gardens and heritage sites and, even though Mount Stuart is only about 130 years old, it is quite spectacular and well worth a visit as is the whole island.

Dominican Republic has released an app which provides an all-in-one experience to plan, book, manage and maximise upcoming travel. It rates and reviews the accommodation in the country as well as attractions and restaurants. The free app is available in the App Store and Google Play in six different languages – English, Spanish, Italian, French, German and Portuguese.

Arlene Foster, the Northern Irish minister responsible for tourism says that more of us on the mainland are continuing to visit the province.  Overall, visitors from outside Northern Ireland increased by 7% last year, but visitors from Great Britain rose by 14%. What she now wants is that, a s part of the promotions by Tourism Ireland, Northern Ireland stands out as part of the promotions in Great Britain.


Iceland  c.Lynn Houghton

Another area doing well is Iceland. Promote Iceland has announced that the country has started  2014 on a high, having seen a record growth of 65.2 per cent in British visitors to Iceland during January 2014.In January 2013 Iceland received 10,031 tourists from the UK market, whilst January 2014 saw a record 16,576 visits from British tourists, signifying an increase of 65.2 per cent.  Why did so many of us go?  They suggest that some of the rise could be down NASA’s prediction that conditions for catching the Northern Lights during the winter months of 2013 and 2014 would have been at their best in 50 years.

Although the Imperial War Museum at Duxford was closed for safety reasons last Saturday it has now re-opened. Strong winds damaged the roof of the AirSpace hangar. A spokeswoman said the museum was open to visitors, with the exception of the AirSpace exhibition and visitor centre.

Those on half-term holiday this coming week and in Madeira might want to attend their traditional carnival. Dating back to the late 1800s, Madeira Carnival (26th February – 5th March) is one of the biggest street parties in Europe with colourful parades of samba bands, floats and troupes dancing through the streets of Funchal. A highlight is the informal Trapalhão Parade on 4th March, when carnival goers are invited to participate in fancy dress.

From the ABC in Australia comes a story about the Tasmanian Tiger in a crop field in northern Tasmania. No, it doesn’t mean the extinct mammal has re-appeared but it has been created in a sorghum crop by a farmer. Rowan and Anna Clark have created a tiger-shaped maze in a five-hectare sorghum field. The farmers enlisted the help of maze design experts in the United Kingdom. What interested me was that art/design in crop fields are rare in Australia. Here they draw crowds and the Clark’s are hoping they will do the same before the crop is harvested in late March.

Banksy has been cropping up all over the place. His street paintings get nicked and carted off only to reappear for sale at high prices. At the ME London Hotel will be the Stealing Banksy? Exhibition, which – according to its organisers – is the 2014 project exploring the social, legal and moral issues surrounding the sale of street art. Taking place from April 24th before a live auction on 27th at the ME London hotel, in the heart of London, the exhibition will showcase the most expensive collection of Banksy artworks ever assembled (over £5 million) under one roof. In the month before the exhibition, the hotel will be home to one Banksy before the remaining pieces, including No Ball Games, OldSkool, Liverpool Rat, Ballooon Girl, Sperm Alarm, Silent Majority and 2 Rats are installed.

The impact that parking charges can have on tourist attractions has been highlighted by the National Trust. Visitors to Wakehurst Place, the country arm of Kew Gardens, will have to pay up to £10 in parking fees from April because of a deficit of £1.4m. The director, Andy Jackson, said he was expecting a 40% drop in visitors as a result of bringing in the charges. Cars will be charged £2 for the first hour, £5 for two hours, and £10 per day.  Even National Trust members will have to pay but not Friends of Kew or season ticket holders It is estimated that 80% of visitors are National Trust Members . Entry is £12.50 so won’t a drop of 40% mean the Trust will lose? In 2012/13, Wakehurst had 343,000 visitors down 70,000 on the previous year. To lose 40% would mean a drop of another 137,000 visitors. The Trust must be hoping that all of those not visiting will be members so that less revenue will be lost! 

Ryanair flies awayThis week both Ryanair and easyJet were fined by the Italian authorities fr not being sufficiently transparent on their websites about how they offer insurance. The flight cancellation insurance is optional but too often looks like another box to tick in order to get to the next stage of the booking process. If you want to claim, you need to get a certificate from the airline showing you haven’t flown. And for that they charge. That isn’t made clear enough says the authorities.  easyJet has changed its website, Ryanair is yet to do so.

Finally, if any readers are flying through Orlando, I should be grateful for your views on the new automatated passport checking system that has been introduced. It is supposed to cut waiting times. Does it?





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