Saturday snippets: 11th October 2014

By | Category: Travel news
Sea Life in Hunstanton

Sea Life in Hunstanton

In December 2013, the Hunstanton Sea Life sanctuary was hit by the tidal surge that swept the Norfolk coastline. It meant that the sanctuary had to close as every display was stripped out and completely refurbished. But it re-opens on the 16th of October, just in time for the half term. This £3,000,000 project has culminated in a brand new sanctuary. By swapping over the seals and otters exhibits, they have been able to introduce underwater viewing of the seals through an underwater glass window. Completely re-built the seal hospital has improved viewing of the seal pups and new isolation pens added for ‘intensive care’ casualties.   The new otter display has a new dive pool, running stream and waterfall plus a newly installed lawn although the sanctuary is not sure how long it will last once the toll of otter claws makes its mark.

Hamilton Gardens  in New Zealand has received the prestigious International Garden of the Year award. The win was announced recently as part of the 2014 Garden Tourism Awards held at the International Conference Gardens Without Limits conference in Metz, France. Hamilton Gardens’ concept of tracing The Story of Gardens through different civilisations and time is considered internationally unique

The coming week is an adventurous one. This weekend we start with the Cruise Show coming to Glasgow’s SECC and then its National Curry Week. All coinciding with Chocolate Week so stand by for some possible interesting combination at your local curry house or branch of Thorntons!

What's not to like in the New Forest?

What’s not to like in the New Forest?

Many people holiday, like where they have been and buy a second home in the vicinity or move there permanently. Places with views always attract buyers so research by Lloyds Bank showing that that buyers in England and Wales pay a premium to live in picturesque regions. On average, the bank says, people pay an extra £125,796 extra for living in a national park. The New Forest commanded the highest premium, and houses there were the most expensive.  Still cheaper, I would have thought, than holidays for ten years in some destinations.

In London this week, the new Irish tourism minister, Paschal Donohoe, said that the perception of Ireland as an expensive holiday destination is unfair. That doesn’t mean to say it is untrue. He claims that a lot of research over the last years shows that value for money has really improved. So it was expensive then even if it isn’t now! He hopes it is more keenly priced for visitors especially as there is to be a global promotional campaign currently under way by Tourism Ireland, costing £9.5million, will attempt to draw in more visitors during the “late-season”, September to December.

the castle in Kilkenny with fountain

Kilkenny Castle

But Tourism Ireland didn’t have a good week either. In the south east of Ireland a group met together claiming that the area is not so well represented in TI promotions. They have set up the Forever Happening Southeast Group sees members of the industry from each of the three counties (Kilkenny, Waterford and Wexford) join forces with representatives from the three county councils to promote the region independently.

In Scotland the headlines were all about the rise in overseas visitors coming to the country. Not so prominent was the fact that visitors from the rest of the UK dropped by 7%. So why aren’t the rest of us holidaying there? Did we not head to Glasgow for the Commonwealth Games? In 2015, Scotland has proclaimed it to be the Year of Food and Drink. Maybe that will encourage us to reverse the drop in numbers this year.

pier in Aber

Where the zipline might end – the pier in Aberystwyth

Rounding up news from the Celtic nations, there is a report that Aberystwyth will have a zip line attraction from the top of Constitution Hill at the north end of the town to the pier. Most of the zip line would then hover over the sea and fall away to – I suppose – some new structure built at the end of the pier. Now if that could be replicated across piers elsewhere in our countries that might manage to save a few more from decay.

As the first tracks were laid this week for the revived Borders railway into Edinburgh, in Lancashire, there is talk that the Poulton to Fleetwood rail line could run again. The Poulton and Wyre Railway Society is suggesting the creation of a heritage diesel service linking Poulton railway station to Fleetwood, initially running four times a day but for just two days a week. It would cost just £300,000 it says but that reveals that once again it is the unsung heroes of tourism – the volunteers – that it will be relying on to bring the idea into being.

Virgin Atlantic has ended its short-lived domestic service called Little Red. Next year the three city links from London to Aberdeen, Edinburgh and Manchester will end. Is it because nobody wanted to fly these routes since some have claimed the planes flew 60% empty? Virgin Atlantic is changing too. Out have gone many of its long haul flights to Mumbai and Tokyo and instead it seems to be concentrating on flights to the USA. Understandable though when you realise that it has strong ties to the US airline, Delta.

westjet plane

Westjet linking Glasgow and halifax, Nova Scotia next year

As one airline goes another arrives. An airline largely unknown to our shores, WestJet will start operating from Glasgow to Halifax in Nova Scotia next year. This Canadian airline will just offer a seasonal timetable from the end of May until October but it has a reputation for low fares and could be the second low cost airline after Norwegian flying across the Atlantic. The two might bring about a drop in airfares since they are jumped quite a bit over the last twelve months.

If Scotland wasn’t attracting the rest of us to visit them, one place that did was Munich in Germany. The Oktoberfest has just ended and over 6 million visitors went there, consuming 7.7 million litre tankards of beer is served to the patrons of Oktoberfest, who are also said to collectively consume about 4,82,362 roast chickens, 1,12,772 pork sausages and 78,216 pork knuckles. I also eat and drink more as winter beckons. I’ll just have a lie down until next week’s column!

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