Saturday snippets: 14th October 2015

By | Category: Travel news

back-to-schoolReaders will remember the case of Mr Platt who successfully fought a prosecution by the council on the Isle of Wight for taking his two daughters out of school in term time. He won his case after telling magistrates that the Education Act didn’t put restrictions on holidays during term time for pupils who attended school regularly. The council is now seeking clarification from the High Court on what constitutes ‘regular attendance’ at school. He is crowdfunding his legal costs and is well on the way to reaching the £25,000 he says is needed. Until the case is heard I would hope that councils are going to be circumspect in who they prosecute in case they end up having to pay parents compensation – which will be our money – if they get it wrong!

If you are going to holiday in central America, the chances are you will visit more than country. One impediment is that you need visas for each country you visit. Now there are plans to introduce a multi-country visa policy between Central America countries, similar to the Schengen Area in Europe, to boost multi-destination international tourism in the area. It should cover Belize, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Panama and Nicaragua. When will it come to pass? When I know, you will too!

hondurasRemaining in central America, Honduras, one of the major discoveries of the last three years has been the finding of the legendary White City, also known as ‘City of the Monkey God’ – a lost city that has been the subject of fables for hundreds of years. An archaeological expedition this year uncovered artefacts belonging to a culture that thrived thousands of years ago before disappearing. With the help of the National Geographic Society and UNESCO, the Honduran Government hopes to preserve this natural world heritage, which lies deep in the Honduran jungle in La Mosquitia, a remote region in the east of the country. Once explored, it is hoped that it will help attract tourists into the Ciudad Blanca region.

How do you fancy naming an aircraft and knowing that your choice will be emblazoned on a plane for all the world to see? Thomson are running a competition to name a new Boeing 787 Dreamliner. You submit your idea and then lobby anyone you can to vote for your choice. The top five are then examined by a panel and they will choose the winner. That lucky person will get £2,500 worth of Thomson holiday vouchers.

50 years of independence in the Maldives © Ayada Maldives

50 years of independence in the Maldives © Ayada Maldives

Winning the Thomson prize will get you as far as the Maldives.  They have announced an increase in visitor arrivals from the UK, with the 2015 figures revealing a 3.6% increase in UK tourists during the first eight months of 2015, equating to 61,720 UK tourists visiting the Maldives compared to 59,564 in 2014.

Drones may be a subject that excites passions one way of the other but the French city of Lyon has used one in order to take pictures of the city from unusual angles. So popular has it become that the images have been seen more than a million times and the images have only been posted for just over a fortnight. The images on Facebook under two minutes to watch.

It isn’t long now before the Christmas Markets open for business. Most are German themed with bratwirst and gluhwein becoming as popular as hot punch and mulled wine. The market in St Albans in Hertfordshire is a little different in that its market goes back over a thousand years but that is the general one. But this year it will be a bit different because there will be a special walled Christmas village especially for its 2015 Christmas Market, which will run from Thursday 26 November to Sunday 20 December. Last year 90,000 people went to the city for its Christmas Market making it one of the largest. (Everyone knows that Birmingham has the largest German themed Christmas Market outside Germany.)

St Albans Christmas market last year

St Albans Christmas market last year

The Norwich Airport website was hacked this week. The hacker, calling himself His Royal Gingerness, told the BBC that he wanted to test the sites vulnerability. Worryingly, he says that it took him only a few minutes before he was in. Later the airport dropped the website after he contacted them.  A basic site is up and running whilst a new one is being prepared but it is suffiecent to give you whether there are any problems flying into or out of the airport. At a time when security is uppermost perhaps His Royal Gingerness should be paid by the Civil Aviation Authority to try and hack all our airports to test their security. Or the CAA should be asking airports how they test the security of their own websites.

Another airport is not doing so well. Flybe is removing all its flights from Bournemouth Airport as from March next year. This will affect flights to Amsterdam, Dublin, Glasgow, Jersey and Paris. The reason? It has decided to concentrate its services on Southampton Airport.

Staying with an airport theme, Glasgow Airport reported its busiest October for eight years with 836,798 passengers – an annual increase of 14%. International traffic grew by 18.5% as a result of strong demand for European services and domestic by 8.9%. Edinburgh recorded a sixth consecutive month with more than one million passengers. Business there is up 9.7% from the same month last year.

Glasgow - attracting more people to visit it as well

Glasgow – attracting more people to visit it as well

The main regional airline in Scotland, Loganair, which is heavily subsidised by the Scottish government on some of its more remote routes, was the subject of a debate in the Scottish Parliament this week as MSP’s queried safety, reliability and maintenance. Delays and last minutes cancellations seem to be rising at the airline and MSP’s wanted to know whether the government was talking to Loganair, which it was. Logainair appear to be have been a little lax on maintenance something which should never be tolerated when our safety could be compromised. The management has said it is seeking improvement which it will need to do if not to lose some of those subsidised flight contracts when they come up for renewal.

And talking of security, Lord West of Spithead asked the Government whether they are satisfied with the level of airport security at major business and tourist destinations worldwide. Six peers joined in the debate but the government spokesman, Lord Ahmad gave little away and was not going to mention which airports the government considered as not being sufficiently secure. As it would probably be an opinion rather than based on fact, I suppose he couldn’t honestly reply.

Lord West’s question was prompted by the events at Sharm el Sheikh and Sharm continued to be in the news this week when it was found that twice as many planes were returning Russian holidaymakers to their homes as there were to Britain. I suppose that is understandable given that there are many more Russians holidaying in Sharm than Britons but could the authorities have accepted more flights? At the moment they will want to be seen to be doing all they can to make it safe and easy for overseas holidaymakers to get to and from Egypt.

Monday marks the 25th anniversary of the founding of one of the most important marine reserves in the world – the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. It is the world’s third-largest barrier reef and the waters surrounding the Florida Keys island chain, attract thousands of scuba divers, snorkelers, anglers and watersport enthusiasts each year. The sanctuary helps protect 2,900 square nautical miles of marine habitat, including coral reef, hard bottom, sea grass meadows, mangrove communities and sand flats, as well as maritime heritage resources. To glimpse what the sanctuary has to offer, click here to go to You Tube. 

The new Brightline service might look like this

The new Brightline service might look like this

Finally for all those of us who have been to Florida and decided to explore further than Orlando, some help is at hand. A fast train service has been on the stocks for some time linking Orlando with Cocoa (Cape Canaveral is nearby), West Palm Beach and Miami. But don’t get too excited. The 235 mile route isn’t due to be opened until 2017 but, this week, they have announced the name of the service. It will be called Brightline and will take about 3 hours to cover the journey. By car it probably takes a minimum of half an hour longer and that depends on no traffic. Anyone who has driven on the roads knows that is a forlorn hope so the train service should be a useful alternative provided that the fares are reasonable. No news about those yet.

Postscript: The tragic attacks in France last night that have resulted in so many deaths has caused, understandably, some confusion. For those heading to Paris, Eurostar  and Charles de Gaulle Airport is operating normally as is Orly contrary to some press reports on RT this morning. France has closed its borders as has Belgium which probably means drivers should allow extra time to get to and from ferry ports. Eurostar says that passengers can transfer their tickets for a later date if they wish. Although there is nothing on the easyJet website, media reports say that you can also delay travel on the airline at no extra charge if you don’t wih to travel to Paris today.






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