Saturday snippets: 9th January 2016

By | Category: Travel news
jet 2 who have a tough approach to disruptive passenger behaviour

Jet 2 who have a tough approach to disruptive passenger behaviour have shown more thought for passengers by removing credit card surcharges on bookings.

Let’s start with some good news. It is irritating to have to have add-ons when you book anything. After airlines starting charging an administration fee, consumer bodies lobbied for transparency and what you saw became what you paid. Except for credit card charges. Many airlines still charge you a fee if you use a credit card as opposed to a debit card. Hats off then to Jet 2 and Jet 2 Holidays who gave us all a nice new year’s present by dropping those charges from all flight and holiday bookings. The holiday company claims to be the very first package holiday company in the UK to stop these charges. Will others follow where Jet 2 leads?

The announcement by Jet 2 follows closely on that by the Newcastle based travel agency, Dawson and Sanderson which says that it has also has scrapped credit card fees but not quite. It will still charge if you use American Express cards or business credit cards.

A bird's eye view of Euopapark © Vogel

A bird’s eye view of Euopapark © Vogel

As readers might remember, the German theme park, Europa-Park, celebated its 40th birthday last year and notched up over 5 million visitors. This year it is widening its international appeal by developing an Ireland theme area to match its other destinations which include England and Spain. This is designed to appeal particularly to young visitors, with more than ten attractions, three completely new rides and a large roofed play world awaiting youngsters in the former “Children’s World” area. In a survey carried out by the German Centre for Tourism on 15,000 foreign tourists to find out the 100 most popular places to visit in Germany, Europa-Park took the top honours for the first time. Neuschwanstein Castle came second and the UNESCO world heritage site Cologne Cathedral took third.

In terms of passengers, Atlanta in the US state of Georgia can now lay claim to being the largest airport in the world if not the busiest as well. Last year it was the very first airport in the world to have 100 million passengers pass through its gates. Imagine that number passing though Heathrow or Gatwick. Between them, they handle about 114 million passengers per annum.

If the travel insurance of Sainsbury’s has got its estimates correct then they think at least 34 million of us or two thirds of all adults in the UK will travel abroad this year. They also forecast that 38 million of us will have a holiday in the UK. About 29 million of us will have both a domestic and a foreign holiday. The company says that city breaks are the most popular form of UK holiday for 2016, planned by 27% of adults, followed by beach holidays (13%), walking holidays (10%) and spa/retreat holidays (8%). Bad news for the travel agencies though whether they be on the high street or online. Twice as many of us will book direct than will use a travel agency, the company claims.

Miami Beach has a well-known art deco district so the artistic heritage is strong. To create more public art, it announced an international competition and two UK based companies are part of the six chosen to develop art at the Miami Beach Convention Center. The lucky two are Elmgreen & Dragset and Joseph Kosuth. Miami-Dade Art in Public Places was established in 1973 and the county allocates 1.5% of the construction cost of new county buildings for the purchase or commission of artworks. Now have we any farsighted councils over here that would do that? No, they would shout recession and cutbacks which is true until you come to cutting the number of councillors that exist.

The Bass Museum in Miami - one place you can find public art

The Bass Museum in Miami – one place you can find public art

Many readers will know that Stephen Fry is fronting a welcome three minute video for passengers arriving at Heathrow. Conceived by the comic writer, Graham Linehan (one of the duo responsible for Father Ted, Black Books and The IT Crowd) It could introduce us to the tourist delights of our countries but is, in reality, an introduction to our humour using a queue in a restaurant to illustrate the fact. Will it do anything to get people out and visit the UK? Probably not but it might win a gong for VisitBritain in some travel awards.

A few years ago, the family had a side-holiday in the Italian city of Verona. In the evening we went to the open air amphitheatre for a performance of Verdi’s Aida, an opera that is performed there every year. Indeed opera is the mainstay of performances and it is generally sold out as overseas visitors come in huge numbers. Those visitors will still come in large numbers this year but for a different reason. Adele is playing there as part of her worldwide tour on the 28th and 29th May. Guess what? It’s sold out but grab a table at one of the many cafes and restaurants outside and you’ll probably hear everything she sings.

Vietnam has opened its first ever safari park, on the island of Phu Quoc. The owners of the Vinpearl Safari Phu Quoc say they hope to eventually expand to become the world’s second largest safari park. Located in Ganh Dau in north Phu Quoc, it features 3,000 wild animals across 140 species including Bengal tigers, Arabian gazelles, rhinos, and black and white lemurs across 500 hectares. It is a member of the South East Asian Zoo Association (SEAZA) and plans to carry out animal conservation programmes, research and fundraising for wildlife conservation. Phu Quoc is already home to the largest veterinary centre in Southeast Asia. The first phase of the park covers 380 hectares of forest and will be able to accommodate 8,000 visitors a day, the company said.

not glamping! but at these prices, a camping holiday looks good value

not glamping! but at these prices, a camping holiday looks good value

We have any number of websites to help us find hotel, guest house and villa stays at any time of the year but if you enjoy camping, finding availability across hundreds of campsites is a bit of a problem. Finding that information out of season isn’t easy either but a French company has linked a few of its brands (Camping Cheque and Holiday Cheque ) together to form the Camping Travel Club which will market campsite stays in the mid and low seasons. Stay outside of July and August and you can book a pitch per night for two people from as low as €14.95. You might think that the company would cover only a few campsites but no, it has 750 on its books in more than 20 countries in Europe as well as Morocco in North Africa.

Flybe says that it has brought forward the launch of eight new routes from Doncaster so that it coincides with the start of the Easter getaway. Its flights from the airport to Amsterdam and seven other destinations will now start earlier than originally planned, on Thursday March 24.Ryanair will launch a new service from London Gatwick to Belfast International in March. The service will operate four times daily. The airline also says that it will increase its London Gatwick to Dublin service to seven times daily from March. Finnair is also increasing the number of flights from Dublin to Helsinki from the coming summer.





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