Saturday snippets: 7th May 2016

By | Category: Travel news

091ba529-41dc-495c-8158-76ec0af53935Last month a new gin was launched by Warner Leisure Hotels. Called Anti-aGin it was commissioned by the resort chain and is supposed to slow the aging process by containing certain ingredients which, I confess mean nothing to me. The press coverage has all concentrated on whether such a gin could have those helpful benefits. Nobody seemed to talk about the appalling pun on the name or the link that will exist in people’s minds between the gin and Warner Leisure Hotels. It will be hard for me to think of the thirteen resort chain without viewing it as a place where elderly people go for a break. And despite the fact that I am old, I don’t want to go to anywhere that reinforces the fact!

Two days ago, a new museum opened in Liege to replace the “old” Modern and Contemporary Art Museum. The Boverie which has been entirely renovated and redesigned contains the city’s impressive collection including works by Renaissance court painter Lambert Lombard and more recent artists such as Ingres, Chagall, Gaugin, Picasso, Delvaux and Magritte. Because of the connection, the Boverie will also have temporary exhibitions organised in partnership with the Louvre Museum. The current exhibition, “En Plein Air” focuses on the representation of open-air entertainment and the relationship between man and nature from the 18th to the 20th century, with around one hundred works by artists like Corot, Joseph Vernet, Boudin, Monet, Evenepoel, Pissaro, Cézanne, Picasso, Bonnard and Renoir from the collections of the Boverie, the Louvre, and other international collections.  For those in the south east of England, the Bouverie is easier to get on Eurostar than it it is to travel to Newcastle, Cardiff or manchester

In many countries, film or television locations have been used to create visitor trails and encourage more tourists. Lithuania has never done this. Until now. Following the success of the BBC Series, War and Peace, the tourist authority as opened  three routes in the English language – on foot and bike in Vilnius and by car throughout Lithuania.  The series was filmed in Vilnius, Merkinė, Trakų Vokė, Trakai, Kernavė and Rumšiškės so the Lithuanians are hoping that more Brits will take holidays or weekend breaks in the country to see the filming locations. Last year visitor numbers to the country from UK travellers rose by 17.2%..

It is nearly time for the annual Israel Festival, which celebrates 55 years as the one of the Middle East’s premier international art festival this year. It takes place from May 24 until June 11 and attracts people from around the world. Festival highlights this year include the opening concert and tribute to Shoshana Damari, the “Queen of Hebrew Music” on May 24 and Murry Sidlin will present the works of 15 Jewish composers imprisoned in the Terezín concentration camp during World War II.

UK passport

make sure your passport is biometric if holidaying in the USA

I should mention two passport stories this week. The first is that ABTA is reminding us to make sure we have sufficient validity in our passports. Many countries outside the EU require six months’ validity on passports from the date of the return to the UK, so it is vital to take this into account when checking passport expiry dates. Up to one in 10 passport holders needs to renew their passport each year, with the peak processing period being the run-up to the summer months. Members of the public do not have to wait for their passports to expire before renewing them, as up to nine months unused validity will be added onto their replacement passport.

The second is that the USA introduced a rule on April Fools’ Day (no link but I thought I would mention it and leave you to consider the irony) that visitors to the country must be in possession of one of the newish, biometric passports. A failure to have one means that you could be refused entry as some people have already found out. Given how long it can take to get a new passport at the height of summer, check now, if you plan on holidaying in the US or transitting through it and switch to the biometric passports.

As you know, I spent some time in Tunisia this week looking at the effect of the huge drop in tourists visiting the traffic. It was visible at we landed at the airport. The only other non-Tunisian Airlines plane on the ground was an Emirates flight taking people to the Middle East for the Ramadan pilgrimages. At Enfida airport – the airport for Sousse and Hammamet – there was nothing. It looked deserted although I was told that a plane would land bringing in a couple of Russian holidaymakers because, now that Russians can’t easily go to Egypt or Turkey easily for holidays, Tunisian tourist people are courting them to holiday in Tunisia. Such is the impact of terrorism.

This week, the hotel monitoring company, STR Global, analysed the effects of terrorism and its impact on us holidaymakers. Based on bombings in London, Madrid, Paris and Brussels, the research seems to show that such terrorist acts have a considerable impact on whether we will travel there but no impact on prices. Generally, whatever the price charged, there is no effect on enticing us to holiday there. It takes about three months before either we have enough confidence to return or we are forgetful enough to consider that the terrorist action took place sufficiently long enough ago for us to consider that it is now safe to travel there.

Cruise companies have been working hard this year to remove more money from our wallets. Norwegian Cruise Lines increased the tips we pay twice last year and the Royal Caribbean increased the “suggested” tip (they call them gratuities so it sounds better) to $13.50 a day and now Carnival Cruises Lines (which owns the Cunard and P&O brands) has copied their rival and raised them to $13.95 a day. What annoys me about this is that it is all allotted to your bill and you have the chance to vary it before you get off the boat but how many of us do it? The suggested legislation by the UK government on tipping could at least make tipping an opt-in requirement rather than an opt-out one.

what have you forgotten to pack?. © Dan Sperrin

what have you forgotten to pack?. © Dan Sperrin

A new survey claims that British holidaymakers are wasting £96 million every year on replacing forgotten items. More than half (61%) of Brits have forgotten something, such as their toothbrush or phone charger, when going on holiday, and 83% of those people will replace these items once they arrive, spending an average of £13.17 to do so. But this is no waste because people need toothbrushes and phone chargers wherever they are. I have a spare phone charger in my luggage and leave one at home. And, who amongst us, remembers to pack everything.? Another unnecessary survey!

Finally, would you bear with us for the next week or so as we are updating our events’ listings. Not only will there be a new format and an ability to sort but they will be linked to a map so you can see exactly where you would be going. As with all technology, the odd glitch might happen but Cathrene has worked her way through it and all should be working as planned. If you spot something amiss please let me know by contacting me at



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