Saturday snippets: November 1st 2014

By | Category: Travel news
This is the view from the Youth Hostels Australia hostel rooftop in Sydney. How did they manage to get a hostel here when hotels would have killed for the location?

This is the view from the Youth Hostels Australia hostel rooftop in Sydney. How did they manage to get a hostel here when hotels would have killed for the location?

Did you ever stay in a youth hostel in your youth? Today they are different and not just for backpackers. I was surprised given my memories or faceless buildings in rather dodgy areas of cities to see this picture of a youth hostel in Sydney overlooking the harbour. How much would you pay in a hotel for a view over Sydney Harbour like this? No wonder that Youth Hostels Australia has announced that they have just reached 220,000 bed nights booked by British families, singles, couples and, yes backpackers, to stay at their hostels. With places like this the numbers can only rise.

Dublin East Coast Golf Alliance has been named European Golf Destination of the year for 2015 at the annual golf industry ‘Oscars’, the IAGTO (International Association of Golf Tour Operators) awards. Members of the Dublin East Coast Alliance include Carton House, the K Club, Druid’s Glen, Mount Juliet, Powerscourt Golf Club and The Island Golf Club.

The last Ark Royal

HMS Ark Royal in Portsmouth which wasn’t saved for the nation. Now where will HMS Illustrious go?

During the week we heard that HMS Illustrious, the 32 year old recently retired aircraft carrier will not be going to either Hull or Portsmouth. The government has said that any bidder would have to keep the carrier in the UK. Depending on which newspaper you read, there were only two or three destinations that bid. If correct – and I don’t think it can’t be – the winners know who they are. Wherever it goes, as a tourist attraction it would stimulate visitor numbers and the local economy. But if it gets turned into a hotel who knows? Portsmouth seemed the obvious destination. Now, that’s ruled out Newcastle could be an option being the home of Swan Hunter where Illustrious was built. Unless you moor it behind HMS Belfast in London. But why concentrate more tourism attractions in  London?

How do you fancy holidaying in a Citroen 2CV? According to a press hand-out, “Born out of a desire to bring the fun back into holiday touring, 2CV Adventures has 16 Citroen Classic 2cv ‘tin snails’ prepared and ready for a series of holiday breaks.” The 16 have been restored to be used on long weekends, short breaks or even a grand tour. Other creative uses are touring rallies, corporate events, team building or even to celebrate significant birthdays with a group of friends. “You don’t have to supply your own car, bring the spares, create a route, book hotels, insure the cars or look after them – we do it all for you,” the company says. It’s the bit about “spares” that reminds me of a long ago trip….

With the first ski show of the winter in London this weekend, the problem of carrying ski equipment comes to those of us who head off for the slopes. It’s not helped by many airlines which charge – and charge quite a lot – for kit. A growing demand for a company to do all the work for you has resulted in the rise of the luggage forwarding company not just for skies but for any adventure sport that requires bulky kit. Luggage Mule managing director, Jordan Makin, guarantees that luggage and equipment will arrive in resort the day before you, so you know it’s waiting for you in resort before you’ve even left the UK. HIs business is already up 38% over last year. But is it economic? A  20kg suitcase to France starts from £59.99 for a return service to the UK, and from £77.99 for a return service for skis. Makin highlights one advantage that would appeal to many. His clients can travel with just hand luggage and therefore get through security and baggage reclaim  faster!

Aqueduc de Roquefavour

Aqueduc de Roquefavour near Aix-en-Provence © Cintas-Flores

Starting today, Aix-en-Provence is launching  ” The Moments of Exception,” a promotion campaign to persuade us to spend more time in the city during off-season months. You’ll see travel agents offering discounts on week-end breaks, family holidays stays at Christmas, Valentine Day offers and even spring festival offers.

Our importance as travellers and visitors to other parts of the UK from where we live was demonstrated when the tourism minister – Helen Grant – announced that, since 2010, domestic tourism spend in England has grown by 14.1% – from £56.7bn to £64.7bn in 2013. Domestic tourism spend in 2012 was a record-breaking £67,956m so why did it drop in 2013? Perhaps because we felt more confident and travelled overseas instead?

In reply to a question from Alasdair McDonnell, the government said that it has not made an assessment of the economic effects on Northern Ireland or the UKof the cost of air fares to and from Northern Ireland. Why not? That air passenger duty (which many saw as an inhibitor to visitor numbers) was reduced should have led to an increase in numbers. If it isn’t or is happening we should know and so should the governments of both the UK and Northern Ireland.

More from parliament. Ministers confirmed £2.8 million to rescue the air link between Newquay and Gatwick. And Tim Farron and John Woodcock argued against a reduction is services on the Furness line which links Lancaster via the western part of the Lake District to Barrow. The rail minister, Claire Perry, uttered words that might come back to haunt her. “We do not want community rail simply to survive. We want it to thrive” She also said this week that she would mystery shop the 10 most over-crowded rail lines in our countries to see the situation for herself.


the Alamo in Texas at dusk © Al Rendon. Phil Collins has given his unique collection of over 200 items to San Antonio. Now a new museum is being considered there

More of us are travelling to the USA than for many years. It might be a small rise of 1.9% but at least it’s a reversal of what had seemed to be a declining trend. Texas is doing particularly well. UK visitor figures to Texas totalled 226,000 in 2013; an additional 68,000, which is 43% up on the previous year. Now nearly 6% of all visitors to the US go to the state are we are their largest overseas market. The most popular activities in Texas for UK visitors were, in order of popularity, shopping, sightseeing, experiencing fine dining, visiting small towns or countryside, historical tourism, visiting national parks, art galleries and museums, sporting events, guided tours and nightlife.

Staying in the US, the most well-known city – New York – has announced that the singer, Taylor Swift is joining NYC & Company, New York City’s official marketing, tourism and partnership organisation, as a Global Welcome Ambassador for 2014–2015. As part of the collaboration with Taylor, NYC & Company launched a global tourism campaign—Welcome to New York—named after Taylor’s song of the same name.  Why don’t our cities do things like that? Billy Connolly could be Glasgow’s Welcome Ambassador, Keira Knightly or Benedict Cumberbatch could be London’s Ambassador and Robbie Williams could promote the Potteries. As for Frankie Boyle – well, maybe not.

More airline news. Flybe’s has started six new routes from London City Airport, quite the fastest airport in my experience to get from arrival to gate-side. There will be flights to Edinburgh and Dublin four times a day as well as three daily services to Belfast and Exeter. There will be a twice daily service to Inverness and Aberdeen. The first Flybe Shuttle service has begun connecting Aberdeen to Jersey with stops at Leeds Bradford and Southampton. Passengers flying the whole route stay on the plane whilst others get on and off just like a bus or train.




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