Saturday snippets: 4th October 2014

By | Category: Travel news
Stirling Castle

Stirling Castle

Let’s start with two items of good news this week. The first is that the Wedgwood Collection has been saved. The Art Fund, which had funded most of the money required to save the collection launched an appeal just a month ago. And in that one month the remaining sum of £2.74 million was donated. The collection covers 250 years of history and contains 80,000 objects. The Art Fund will now gift it to the V&A Museum and,  as part of the deal, the collection will remain on display at the Wedgwood Museum in Barlaston in Staffordshire.

Think of nineteenth century novelists and Jane Austen springs to mind and then the Bronte sisters but after that? Few can think of others. But Mrs Gaskell, who wrote Cranford and North and South was very successful in her day even being asked to write a biography of Charlotte Bronte by Bronte’s father. Her Manchester home will re-open tomorrow for visitors after being closed for improvements.

This weekend, Stirling Castle will be hosting a special event which will see visitors learn how the castle and the lives of the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders, who were based at the castle, changed almost overnight during WWI. It was an army recruitment centre for the many thousands of volunteers who signed up. Over the course of the weekend, costumed interpreters will explore different aspects of the castle’s history during this time, by taking on the roles of many of the characters who would have been present.

Attractions and destinations have been trumpeting how successful they have been this summer. All of us must have been very busy on our holidays if all are correct. In Edinburgh, for example,  the Scotch Whisky Experience and Camera Obscura & World of Illusions, two of Edinburgh’s leading visitor attractions reported August visits up by 12% and 9% respectively. Figures for the Fringe Festival were also up by 12%. Over in the Isle of Man, visitor figures were up by 10% as well. If you are there this weekend or next, then they are celebrating their heritage open days.

But it isn’t only domestic destinations that announced increased figures The Costa Rica Tourist Board has announced record visitor figures for the first six months of 2014, with a total of 1,391,617 international visitors, an increase of 5.4% on the same period last year. But the USA announced that fewer of visited the US this year where arrivals from the UK dropped by 3%, a trend that has continued. In fact figures from Western Europe as a whole were down despite the large amounts that Brand America continues to spend to entice us there. Overall though, 6.0 million international visitors traveled to the United States in June 2014, a nine percent increase over June 2013.

Just a reminder if you are holidaying in Florida this month (which includes half-term) that October is Miami Attractions Month. That means special discounts and coincides with a bif travelling Beatles exhibition that arrives in the city.

Leipzig celebrations

Leipzig © Michael Bader

Next week, on 9 October, Leipzig will hold its grand Festival of Lights to commemorate the Peaceful Revolution, which took place 25 years ago. This is the forerunner of the big celebrations that will occur in Germany next year when much of the year will be given over to celebrating the anniversary. During the Festival of Light, visitors will become participants along a 3.6 kilometre route with over 20 stations. Next year, Leipzig will also be celebrating the fact that it is 1,000 years since the city was first mentioned.

Earlier this week, Just about Travel mentioned that in Finnish Lapland, local people have been recruited to advise visitors on what to see. I see the same thing has happened in Guatemala. The Guatemala Tourist Board (INGUAT) is providing a training programme for local guides in different communities of the interior.  The tourist board aims to have 200 qualified Community Guides in 10 communities by 2015.

Medical tourism seems to be booming. This is largely where people from western countries visit destinations of operations and other medical treatment which would be at a fraction of the cost of those in their home countries.  India and Malaysia are amongst the leading countries promoting medical tourism abroad. El Salvador – not the first country you might think of with regard to this – has announced that, medical tourism now generates $12 million for the country and that, in the first six months of this year, income rose by 26%.

Just over a week ago, the National Ploughing Championship was held in Ireland. So why mention an event that is over? Because 279,000 people visited the three day championship, a very high figure but even more significant given the population of Ireland is just over 4.5 million That would be like 3.6 million people visiting an attraction in the UK an almost unheard of number. Now Northern Ireland is going to suggest that the event might be held in the north one year.

Blackpool International Airport has announced it is “likely to close” if a buyer is not found. A statement by the airport said if no sale agreement was reached by 7 October, the last commercial flights would take place on 15 October. Last year just 235,000 passengers used the airport but this may be due to two factors. Firstly it doesn’t have many flights and secondly it charges a £10 fee for airport development to all passengers. If it does close, will passengers get a refund since no development took place?

Dowager Duchess od Devonshire

Dowager Duchess od Devonshire

Finally this week, a pstscript about the Dowager Duchess of Devonshire who dies last week. people remember Billy Butlin and Freddie Laker as tourism entrepreneurs. They should remember the Duchess in the same breath as a lady – along with the 13th  Duke of Bedford  – who both did so much to open stately houses to the public and turn them into visitor attractions, thus saving them from becoming schools, corporate headquarters or blocks of flats.  Thats why Chatsworth – and Woburn Abbey – are still around today plus all those houses that followed in their footsteps.



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