Saturday snippets: 25 July 2015

By | Category: Travel news
Salamanca -  a heritage visitor site. Is it becoming a drink-fuelled alternative to Magaluf?

Salamanca – a heritage visitor site. Is it becoming a drink-fuelled alternative to Magaluf?

A few weeks ago, Just about Travel reported on a police crackdown on loutish behaviour in Magaluf. Now another area of Spain may be taking over its unwelcome mantle. Police in Salamanca have been investigating a video recorded at a local nightclub showing three young women in a swimming pool being groped by a group of spectators without their consent. Publicising this video has caused scandal across the city and the local head of has said he will come up with a local ordinance to restrict such activities from taking place in public places. The Salamanca Hotel Owners Association has called for a “code of good practice” and restrictions on the amount of alcohol that can be served through special offers.

Spain has been our overseas summer destination of choice for decades. It continues. In just Jun this year, a record 6.67 million international tourist arrived. It is only a 1.4% rise on last year but that you are never going to see large gains given the competition from other destinations and huge the figure is already. In the first six months of the year, 29.2 million foreigners visited Spain, A majority of visitors between January and June came from the United Kingdom (over 6.7 million, a 2.6% increase from 2014), followed by Germany (4.7 million, a 1.6% rise) and France (4.5 million, a 7.5% increase). Catalonia is the number one location to which international travellers head, 7.4 million of whom visited the north-eastern region between January and June, representing just over a quarter of all arrivals. Next came the Canary Islands – 5.6 million overseas visitors – then the Balearic Islands with 4.4 million visitors and then Andalusia with 4.02 million.

Warner Studios have opened an extension to their attraction in Hollywood. Stage 48 is a very large, ex sound stage which has been converted into a part of the studio visitor attraction. Here will find a re-creation of the table from the Lord of the Rings film and using an optical illusion, one visitor is Hobbit size and another Gandalf size. There are costumes from the Men of Steel and Superman films and the original Wonder Woman costume as well as the entire set of the Central Perk café from Friends and the lounge from Two and a-Half Men.

In the United States, the newspaper – USA Today – reported this week that business travel was altering. Instead of leading the pack, it looks as though business people are following the lead taken by us ordinary travellers. Quoting Certify, a US company it says that people are eschewing hotels and using services like Airbnb. Uber has overtaken a normal taxi service as the preferred method of transport although, as we reported a little while ago, Gett is proving more popular over here.

model of how Jerusalem once might have been

the model of old Jerusalem in the Israel Museum

Spain may be doing well, but Israel certainly isn’t. Israel’s Tourism Ministry says that foreign tourists had 4.1 million overnight stays in Israel from January to July 2015, a decrease of 25% compared to the first half of 2014. That is a heck of a drop and must be down to, well, what? The ministry says that it is down to lack of investment by successive governments but that cannot be the whole story. Some of it must be due to press stories, possibly the election this year which polarised media about the country and some to rising prices. The decline was felt most prominently in Eilat, with a drop of 46%. Other affected tourist spots include the Dead Sea, Jerusalem, and the Galilee, with drops of 34%, 27% and 29%, respectively. Haifa and Tel Aviv were least affected by the decline in tourism, but still saw drops of 17% and 14% as compared to last year.

Another country which might be wondering what to do about tourism is Wales although you could be forgiven for thinking so given the positive spin being put out. Occupancy rates in hotels, guesthouses, bed and breakfasts and self-catering units have risen in the first five months of the year according to the Wales Occupancy Survey. Hotels had the smallest rise with 61% of rooms being filled compared to 60% over the same period in 2014. Guesthouses and B&Bs were up 3% to 29% while self-catering units were up 4% to 46% occupancy. Deputy tourism minister Ken Skates said tourism is in a “strong position” according to a BBC report but how good are the figures when other countries are recording figures much higher than this? Given the appalling wet weather last year at this time, you would expect improvement since it has been much milder in 2015.

Following easyJet’s clampdown on unruly passengers, Ryanair seems to have had enough as well. Duty-free alcohol has been banned on all Ryanair flights from the UK to Ibiza to improve the “comfort and safety” of passengers and crew. The airline has said that any alcohol purchased after security checks would now have to be placed baggage which will be transferred to the hold and collected at the carousels on arrival at the destination. The airline sent emails to passengers, saying bags would now be searched at departure gates. It also says that if the alcohol is unsuitable for placing in the hold then customers will be required to dispose of the alcohol in the bins provided. Flights affected will be those from Bristol, East Midlands, Stansted, Birmingham, Liverpool, Glasgow Prestwick, Manchester and Leeds Bradford.

Ryanair Business Plus

alcohol banned on Ibiza flights

Macao is celebrating its 10th anniversary as a UNESCO World Heritage Site with a variety of exhibitions, some lasting until the end of the year. In addition, the Guia Fortress (which includes in its complex, the chapel and the lighthouse) has undergone a re-design to improve visitor viewing. But if you want to see how Macao has nurtured its world heritage status go to the Ruins of St Paul’s for that exhibition. But there is also an engineering feat there that you should see. Organisers have built a bamboo scaffolding – a local art – with over 1,000 bamboo canes of different sizes. To me that looks like public art – to locals it is probably something they have seen before – and worth keeping there after the exhibitin closes for visitors to see.

In case you think that I have given up on the more strange surveys that come into my inbox. This week’s comes from MorphCostumes who say that they have researched what happens on stag does. According to them, 32% of responders ended up in prison and 14% missed their return flights because of the antics on a stag do. Is it really representative of the UK that nearly a third of stag trips result in prison? There must be a lot of Brits in gaol at any one time given the popularity of stag parties abroad. The press release has nothing about hen nights or weekends but then MorphCostumes doesn’t say how many they interviewed or whether it was just male only!









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