Saturday snippets: 22nd November 2014

By | Category: Travel news
Battle of waterloo British troops memorial

Vivian Mallock’s clay maquette of the monument she will create

Next year, as most readers will know, is the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo. But did you know there has never been a monument to the British Army that fought there? No neither did I. A fund raising effort supported by a grant from the British Government a monument to the British Army will be unveiled on the 17th June 2015 as part of the 200 year anniversary of the battle. The winner of the competition was Vivien Mallock whose theme of the monument is “Closing the Gates on War” as Waterloo was the last time a British and French army fought each other bringing to an end almost 800 years of intermittent conflict.

The National Memorial Arboretum has topped a poll of favourite places in England funded by the National Lottery. The UK’s centre for remembrance, in Alrewas, Staffordshire, was chosen by social media users in the National Treasures survey. More than 66,000 people chose from 12 venues and landmarks in the survey which marks the 20th anniversary of the first lottery draw. The arboretum, which is part of the Royal British Legion, received more than £8m of funding, the National Lottery said. The centre, which receives about 300,000 visitors a year, contains more than 300 memorials, including the Armed Forces Memorial to commemorate service personnel, the Children’s Woodland dedicated to babies and children who have died and the Millennium Chapel of Peace and Forgiveness. Jackie O’Sullivan, director at the National Lottery Promotions Unit, said: “The National Treasures survey was a fun way of celebrating these places and recognising the contribution Lottery players make towards them.National Lottery players have raised more than £32bn and 430,000 projects across the UK have benefited, the organisation added.

Nottingham's Malt Cross complete with caves

The Malt Cross in Nottingham

Staying with the support that the Heritage Lottery Fund has provided, The Malt Cross Music Hall, a wonderful old Victorian music hall in Nottingham received over £1.38 million from the Fund enabling it to be refurbished. The Music Hall re-opened last month There will be tours of the entire site, including access to caves beneath the site, giving visitors an insight into all the unearthed history, intriguing secrets and unique archaeology they’ve discovered about the historic building.

For just today and tomorrow, visitors can view the remains of a 6th Century church on a Cornish beach. Successfully excavated, the remains of St Piran’s Oratory – buried at Penhale Sands, near Perranporth – are believed to be among the oldest places of Christian worship in Britain. A team of 90 volunteers dug by hand to reveal the remains which had been covered for more than 100 years. The remains of the oratory were first discovered in the late 18th Century. There were then two major digs in 1835 and 1843 before the remains were encased in a large concrete structure in 1910. The concrete structure was removed in 1980 and the delicate site buried in sand for its own protection.

It seems that it is all the rage at the moment for tourist boards to get celebrity endorsements or ambassadors who will promote the destination. After Bermuda comes the US state of Minnesota which is usual a local – TV personality and “Bizarre Foods” star Andrew Zimmern. “Minnesota is an incredible place,” Andrew Zimmern said. “I’ve travelled all around the world and there is no place I’d rather be. Everywhere I go I try to be a great ambassador for the state, and I am so excited to make it official with Explore Minnesota.” With more than 1 million followers on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram combined, the tourist board is hoping that his hashtag, #OnlyinMN and website will attract more visitors to not only see the  landscape and attractions but also to try to culinary skills of its restaurants.

Red Square in Moscow

Red Square in Moscow

One place you might not consider for a pre-Christmas break might be Moscow. It was the Russian winter that helped defeat Napoleon and Hitler so why travel there? In fact the the Head of the Moscow Tourism and Hospitality Industry Committee, Mr. Sergei Shpilko believes that the winter season is the ideal period to visit Moscow as there are over 35 Christmas Markets and Fairs open across the city from 12th December 2014 – 11th January. Visitors can also enjoy over 150 skating rings, including the largest in Europe, try traditional Russian sledge riding with Troika and explore a number of fun Christmas installations including over 75 illuminated Christmas trees. Oh, and hoteliers tend to drop prices around this time of the years as well.

The bad news for those living in the north-west is that Blackpool Airport has definitely closed for passenger flights but it will re-open for small aircraft and helicopters. Nonetheless, at some stage in the future it might take passenger fights since it is, at least, remaining as an airport.

Better news from Southampton Airport  which has seen has seen a total of 165,188 passengers through its doors during October 2014, which is 13.3% up on the previous year. The fastest growing route was Dublin, with 54% extra passengers on five flights per day.  Could that be because passengers are flying on from Dublin to the US and taking advantage of the faster US passport controls in Dublin rather than facing them when they get to there? The airport has just launched more transatlantic connections with Flybe and Aer Lingus, making Boston, New York, San Francisco, Orlando, Chicago and Toronto more accessible.

Up in Scotland, a new daily flight between Edinburgh and New York will be introduced next year. The American Airlines service from Edinburgh to JFK Airport will run from May to September. American has tried this route before and it was short-lived. Maybe this time they will be more successful.

Gatwick has seen the busiest six months in the airport’s history with 22.5 million passengers, an increase of 8.0% or 1.7 million passengers. Why? New management and new owners must be responsible. The airport has been much more aggressive in marketing itself. Now if they could only attract a few more transatlantic routes it would save all that traffic heading around the M25 t Heathrow. The airport says that it is a victim of its own success as it is just a few years away from hitting full capacity. What then? The airport is hoping that it will be able to install a second runway when the legal restrictions end.

Lord Shipley, in a tourism question time in the House of Lords raised the problem of languages and the barriers that this created for tourists travelling outside London such as purchasing rail tickets cheaply.  The government answer was a standard non answer in that Visit Britain and other organisations were doing their best! For five years, Just about Travel has asked for signage at airports to be in different languages and little has happened so what chance for trains? A direct instruction linked to the issuing of rail franchises would not seem difficult – except for governments of whatever persuasion it seems

Some claim that the BID income will only go to support the pier and the beach side amusement attractions

Some claim that the BID income will only go to support the pier and the beach side amusement attractions

Finally a story from Great Yarmouth. There was a vote earlier this year about setting up a Business Improvement District commonly called a BID. Approved at that vote, bills went out to over a thousand businesses that someone (who?) decided was connected to tourism – however loosely – but it appears, according to the Eastern Daily Press, that many are refusing to pay. Car dealerships, pubs and garages are included in the definition of “tourism related industries” it seems. Bills run into thousands as Great Yarmouth tries to set up a tourism fighting fund to attract more visitors. Most achieve this by voluntary associations such as Mid-Wales Tourism which has over 650 members not by coercion.


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