Saturday snippets: 24th January 2015

By | Category: Travel news
tourist buses

Will the tourist buses be filled with more overseas visitors when the Scottish government controls APD?

This week the UK government confirmed that one of the powers being passed across to Scotland will be the right to control Air Passenger Duty – APD. The powers won’t be available to the government for another year but what if Scotland follows the Irish example and reduces APD to zero and, in England, the duty remains as it is? Newcastle Airport might suffer as it will be cheaper – or it should be – to drive up the A68 or catch a train and then fly from Edinburgh. Overseas visitors might also find it cheaper to fly in and out of Scotland and then explore the UK. Has Westminster thought this through?

Staying in Scotland, Edinburgh Airport has announced a £50 million expansion and work begins next week. Lasting four years, the improvements will include a second baggage reclaim area and immigration hall to cater for hoped-for further growth in long-distance flights.

Shaun the Sheep, Wallace and Gromit and other Aardman characters can be found at Land’s End from February just in time for half term. The ‘Shaun the Sheep Experience’ will see the famous Land’s End signpost rebranded ‘Lamb’s End’ with original sets, models and characters from the BAFTA and Academy award-winning productions. There’ll also be an opportunity for people to star in a real Shaun the Sheep scene using green screen technology and to meet other characters including Wallace and Gromit and Morph.

Mme. Claus by Manet

Mme. Claus by Manet

Opening next weekend and to be seen only at the Norwich Castle Museum & Art Gallery is an exhibition exploring the legacy of Manet and his impact on British impressionism. This exhibition Homage to Manet runs from the 31st of January until the 19th of April and concentrates on his impact of how women were depicted in early twentieth century art.  Manet’s legacy was to herald the emergence of the modern age and a new chapter for women. This was embodied in the self-belief and talents of up-coming women artists such as Gwen John (1876-1939), Laura Knight (1877-1970) and Vanessa Bell (1879–1961).

Helsinki Airport has announced it will get the long-awaited train connection this summer when the Ring Rail Line opens, providing an easy connection between the airport and the city center. The Ring Rail Line will provide a new travel alternative for flight passengers that have easy access to train services. It will also be important for people working in the airport area. They already number about 20,000 and according to forecasts thousands will be added to this total in the next few years. Trains will start running between Helsinki Airport and the Helsinki city center in summer 2015.

Helsinki isn’t the only airport to be getting a rail link. The Union Pearson Express set to open in 2015 will be providing express, high-quality rail service between Union Station in downtown Toronto and Terminal 1 at Toronto Pearson International Airport.

The world’s longest-running (it began in 1829) and largest indoor flower show will open in Philadelphia in the United States next month for eight days staring February 28th. Held at the Convention Center, the show centres around a different theme each year and will this year celebrate the screen. ‘Lights, Camera, BLOOM!’ will be unveiled at the festival’s opening. The show features landscape displays, horticultural and floral competitions, lectures and demonstrationsAdult tickets cost $27 (approx. £17), purchased in advance, or $32 (£20) on the day.7

Just a bit further north, The New York Times reported a week ago on the closure of one of the best travel bookshops around. After more than three decades in business, the Complete Traveller Antiquarian Bookstore on Madison Avenue at new York’s 35th Street closed for good last Monday. It was where you went to get not a guidebook to a destination of today but one of decades or centuries ago and I have spent many a happy hour browsing the shelves. Oh well, there is still the Strand Bookshop to entice me.

You will not have failed to notice that one of the anniversaries being celebrated this year is the 800 anniversary of Magna Carta. Although forever linked with England – there isn’t a copy in any Welsh site – Cadw, the Welsh heritage organisation has a series of events beginning at Easter at two castles, Chepstow and Cilgerran. During the year Cadw will also unveil two willow sculptures at Chepstow and Cilgerran castles which will also see the launch of the new Magna Carta/William Marshal trail across south Wales. The sculptures will ‘bookend’ the trail in the east and the west and provide a focus of the celebrations across Wales in 2015. Both Cilgerran and Chepstow Castles will host re-enactments weekends starting with a two-day William Marshal celebration in Chepstow in May and leading up to a full weekend of Magna Carta themed events over 13th and 14th June at both sites. The celebrations will finish in September with a two-day flower festival at Cilgerran Castle with the Magna Carta as the theme.

Another anniversary also being remembered is the 50th anniversary of the death of Winston Churchill which will include the Havengore retracing its voyage down the Thames carrying the coffin. On January 30th, the Havengore will pass under Tower Bridge, which will be raised in honour of Sir Winston at 12.45, continuing its journey past HMS Belfast, under Blackfriars Bridge and Waterloo Bridge, passing the London Eye and culminating in a special service and wreath laying in the waters directly opposite the Palace of Westminster at 13.15. In echoes of the original river procession, the Havengore will feature crew in ceremonial bright blue and red uniforms and two Scottish pipers standing in the bows to play the pipes.


Aruba in party mood

Official statistics just released show that the Dutch Caribbean island of Aruba, saw a record number of UK travellers last year, while internationally a milestone was reached with more than a million arrivals in a year for the first time. UK numbers grew by more than 12 per cent in 2014, topping the 10,000 mark for the first time. In addition to the 10,447 UK visitors, there was a 34 per cent growth from Ireland. More of us will visit this year simply because Thomson Holidays and First Choice are to operate for an additional month this year. Their joint charter flight from London Gatwick will serve Aruba until November the 17th.

Britain’s ferry industry had a good year as more of used the services. According to 2014 “Ferrystat” figures, released by the industry passenger numbers were up 2.6% to 39.01m (compared with 38.01m in 2013).  Passenger cars carried by ferry were up 1.6% at 8.5m, and over 163,300 coaches were carried by ferry in 2014, an increase of 3.1%.2014 was the second successive year showing annual growth of a million passengers by ferries – increasing, in round terms, from 37m passengers in 2012 to 38m in 2013 and 39m in 2014. The strongest passenger growth sector in 2014, was the  Dover-Calais/Dunkirk and then the North Sea routes to Holland by DFDS, P&O Ferries and Stena Line which were up 2.9% to 1.75m passengers

On One more anniversary to finish the column this week.  On1 February 1915, a fourteen year old lad, William Hutchison, discovered opal bearing rock whilst searching south of Coober Pedy. The town is forever linked with opals which are still mined today.  the town is about 850 kilometres north of Adelaide, the capital of South Australia. But to work in the fields or visit there you have to be tough as temperatures can reach 35 degrees in the shade which is why the local population adapted to the heat by building homes, shops, restaurants, a church and the famed hotel underground.



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