Saturday snippets: 17th October 2015

By | Category: Travel news
Blenheim Palace in autumn. And no James Bond to be seen!

Blenheim Palace in autumn. And no James Bond to be seen!

Some of you might know that a new James Bond film is being released this month. Called Spectre, I have been inundated by press releases from destinations, attractions and hotels all offering links to the film or launching Bond breaks. Frankly, the last few Bond films haven’t enthused me and with all the releases engulfing my laptop it is persuading me to stay away as far as possible. For those not so inclined, Visit Britain is proclaiming that images connected to its “Great” campaign will be at Blenheim Palace in Oxfordshire and Whitehall in London. On its website, there are other images of places linked to the film and a competition.  Not to be outdone, Thailand has sent me information about its links with the film reminding me that filming was also done for another Bond film, The Man with the Golden Gun as well.

Tenerife, on the other hand, wants to draw attention to the fact that it has been the location for some of the filming of the latest film in the Bourne series starring Matt Damon. In the film though, Tenerife is used to represent Athens which begs the question why Athens couldn’t be used. But film makers like the island having filmed dozens of films there over the years including Fast & Furious 6, Clash of the Titans and the Wrath of the Titans films. Car manufacturers love the place as well as ads have been shot for Audi, BMW, and Lamborghini whilst the Halifax, Louis Vuitton and Swarovski have all used Tenerife as a backdrop to their campaigns. No wonder the island seems so familiar when we holiday there.

elephants will be on the tour guides when Tui starts selling Sri Lanka

elephants will be on the tour when Tui starts selling Sri Lanka

For winter 2016, Thomson will be selling holidays in Sri Lanka which will offer singly or in combination beach, wildlife and heritage breaks. In the beginning however, there will only be weekly flights and those will be just from Gatwick. The operator is also considering Vietnam, Cambodia and Malaysia as well as Caribbean destinations such as Antigua, St Lucia and Barbados.

Given that these new Thomson offers are all long-haul destinations should we be surprised that, at the same times as this announcement, comes some research from them that suggests that over three quarters of us ( or rather the survey respondents) are happy to travel nine hours or more to reach their ‘dream’ destination. It also found 89% now travel long haul at least once every five years, and 21% travel long haul every year. Conveniently that covers most of the destinations that Thomson is considering adding to its brochures.

For a long time, there has been talk of a lift linking the ski resorts of Saalbach-Hinterglemm-Leogang in Salzburgerland with Fieberbrunn in the Tirol. It’s happened. From December 2015 the Austrian provinces of Tirol and Salzburgerland will be joined together by the new high-speed ‘Tirol S’ gondola. The connection between the four resorts is being made by a 10-seat gondola from the valley station at Reckmoos South in Fieberbrunn up to the mountain station at Reiterkogel at 1819m. The creation of the new 3.5km long ‘Vierstadlalm’ red piste will take skiers and boarders from the top of Reiterkogel and this are now becomes one of the largest ski areas in Austria.

It has been quiet in Tunisia for a few months now but Thomas Cook has decided that it will not be providing holidays there for longer than had been previously announced. Now, the tour operator says that it will cancel all bookings up to and including March 22nd 2016 and anyone holding tickets will be given a refund or switch their holidays at no additional cost. Those who wish to switch to another winter sun destination will be given a £50 holiday voucher to re-book.

Keith Vaz MP asked the government what can be done to assist Tunisia with tourism, the question being prompted by the fact that the Tunisian national dialogue quartet received the Nobel prize for peace. In reply, the government said “This is a matter that will be under continuous review, as we all want to do the right thing by Tunisia.” I wonder what the “right thing” is?

when will fuel surcharges drop? Or end?

when will fuel surcharges drop? Or end?

A more pertinent question for most people was the question posed by Mark Pritchard MP who asked whether the government will talk to airlines about passing the reduction in air fuel costs on to passengers. The government answer? “The airline industry is intensely competitive and there is no evidence of any market failure that would prevent cost savings being passed onto customers.” So when the hedging contracts end in the next few months, airline ticket prices will drop?

Whilst the argument has continued about whether Heathrow or Gatwick should expand, Just about Travel has pointed out that there has been additional capacity at Stansted. And why couldn’t that airport soak up the demand for flights. That argument may not be able to used much longer as Stansted has announced that it has had over 22 million passengers in the last year, the largest number it has had in six years. In September passenger numbers increased by 9% over the same month last year as the airport served over two million passengers for the fifth consecutive month.

It isn’t the only busy airport. Manchester celebrated its busiest ever September as 2.43 million passengers used the airport. In the last twelve months it has handled pretty much the same number as Stansted – over 22 million. But doesn’t this also show that whilst there is demand in the north it is still the three airports in the south where the problem lies and the longer the government delays its decision on what to do, the more expensive and overdue the solution will be.

For those of you who are members of Priority Pass or thinking that it would be useful to avoid all the passengers flooding through airport terminals and want a quiet lounge in order to avoid them or relax, then Priority Pass has updated its benefits. There are now new travel, golf and car rental offers and there are now 850 lounges worldwide in which the passes can be used.

Jet 2 has been one of the airlines that has trumpeted that it will not tolerate disruptive passenger behavior and, in my opinion, quite right too. One passenger on a flight from Prague to Glasgow last June disrupted fellow passengers by singing loudly and constantly using foul and offensive language.  He continually disobeyed cabin crew orders and verbally threatened one senior crew member who asked him to calm down.

jet 2 who have a tough approach to disruptive passenger behaviour

jet 2 who have a tough approach to disruptive passenger behaviour

Last week he was fined £950 after pleading guilty and was banned for life on travelling with the airline. It should be a warning to others especially those who cause planes to be diverted to other airports. Imagine how much that might cost the airline and would that be part of the fine imposed by the courts.

And what survey results have landed on my desk recently? It doesn’t take research to tell us that we love overseas travel. In the past twelve months we have taken 65.1 million overseas visits which is up 5% over 2014 and above the latest internationally calculated statistics. It also doesn’t take research to tell you that Spain is our most popular destination. So what can tell us that is new? Only that the top ten tourist spots in the world are New York, Toronto, London, Sydney, Beijing, Paris, Auckland, Berlin, Barcelona and Dubai but if this doesn’t seem to fit in with what you might think then remember it is based on those that use the website. There are some snippets that do seem to confirm stereotypes such as American holidaymakers prefer not to stray too far from their own country and Australians are more likely to head over to New Zealand for their annual break. But has the research really added to what we could probably guess?

Finally, British Airways switched terminals on some long-haul flights this week. From terminal 3 will now go services to Accra, Cape Town, Denver, Las Vegas Miami, Nairobi, Phoenix and Vancouver all of which previously went from terminal 5.

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