Saturday snippets: 14th May 2016

By | Category: Travel news
© Eric Tippeconnic

© Eric Tippeconnic

One of the sights that should be on anybody’s bucket list is the Red Earth Native American Cultural Festival. This year it takes place in Oklahoma from 10-12th of June and it is when over 1,200 American Indian artists and dancers from throughout North America come together as the epicentre of Native American art and culture. As well as performing and visual arts events, the Red Earth Festival’s features paintings, sculpture and pottery; beadwork, basket ware and jewellery but all of this is, to some extent, overshadowed by the spectacle of tribal dress-clad, deeply skilled dancers in full performance.

Are we about to see more travel agencies on the high street. According to a story in the trade magazine, Travel Daily, the chairman of the World Travel Agents Association Alliance thinks so. In Australia there is a “resurgence of bricks and mortar travel agencies.” Why should this been so when the death of the travel agency has been widely forecast for years and years? Because, according to the organisation, “Agencies… have found ways to become even more relevant to clients.” It is due to the growth of omni-channel agencies which “connect with the customer the way the customer wants.” Now, you know!

Bali is one of the traditional holiday destinations of the world. From the UK and Ireland it can be difficult to get to, often requiring an overnight stay in the capital of Indonesia – Jakarta –  before catching a flight the following day. Garuda, the national airline, has altered a service so that it flies to Singapore from Bali to link up with their direct flight to London. By this simple schedule change, holidaymakers can save on the loss of two days of their holiday.

in the River Gambia National Park

in the River Gambia National Park

The tour operator, The Gambia Experience, has run a survey to see what customers think of Gambia, a country few of us have been to. Those that have been there overwhelmingly describe the country as friendly and welcoming. Why did people go there?  Weather was the top factor considered when choosing a holiday destination, followed by choice of accommodation and activities and excursions. 58% of respondents also said they would consider returning to The Gambia.

We are used to information which spins what the authors wish. Politicians are adept at it, so much so that sometimes you wonder if the truth will ever out. So an announcement that the Swansea Bay area of Wales had an increase in the number of visitors by about 2% with an increase in revenue to over £400 million seems good news. Until you realise that tourism around the world grew by about double that figure. To stay still, Swansea Bay would have had to have about a 4% increase so the area lost way compared to the world average last year. Still £400 million for a local economy is better than nothing!

A consistent complaint amongst airline passengers is the queueing. Usually these days that means the passport entry lines either coming into or departing countries. Many countries have fast track systems where first and business class passengers and those deemed to be special can go through a separate system. Australia has decided to join the ever-growing list of countries providing this but it will cost. Last week’s budget’s announced the day but no date has been given for its launch.

a queue at Gatwick South. Will airline companies help reduce queues as is planned in the US?

a queue at Gatwick South. Will airline companies help reduce queues as is planned in the US?

It also appears that both Delta and American Airlines are willing to second their own staff to help reduce queues at US airports. They won’t replace trained officials checking passports and the like but they will assist in keeping lines moving and helping with advice. Can airlines overhere be persuaded to assist in a similar manner at our airports?

Germany has relaxed a ban on checked in luggage on flights to Sharm-el-Sheikh. We in the UK still have a ban on flights there so does this mean that the British government might be close to lifting its ban on flights to Sharm?  Egypt‘s Tourism Minister Yehia Rashed is enthusiastic. “We are delighted to welcome back large numbers of German tourists to Sharm el-Sheikh to enjoy our wonderful weather, superb resorts and beautiful beaches.” A similar speech about UK visitors might be due before the summer if travel trade gossip is to be believed.

Guernsey has a new visitor attraction. Like a similar service on on Jersey,  the Petit Train it is a road based train service which will tour sites in a 35 minute narrated circuit operating from the island’s capital, St Peter Port. Although initially aimed at cruise liner passengers, (125,000 are expected this year), the train will attract all visitors to the island who don’t fancy walking to many of the tourism sites. It will carry up to 60 passengers in three carriages to provide an overview of the island’s sites but also an insight into the history and culture as well. It is anticipated that 125,000 cruise liner passengers will come ashore this season. Tickets will cost £5 for adults and £3 for children.

Will cheaper rail services from 2021 bring more visitors to Scotland ?

Will cheaper rail services from 2021 bring more visitors to Edinburgh ?

The rail regulator has decided to allow First Group to run five services a day in each direction from London to Edinburgh with stops at Stevenage, Newcastle and Morpeth. From 2021. That’s five years away! Why so long? No explanation was given. But when it starts, the average fare is planned at less than £25 each way. That should increase visitor numbers. 

Yesterday saw the opening of one of the frst big festivals of late spring/summer – the Norfolk and Norwich Festival. Running until May 29th, this is the biggest arts festival in the east of England attracting some 80,000 visitors during its run.

The first impact of the elections a week ago are surfacing. Boris Johnson, the previous London mayor was opposed to expansion at London City Airport. The new mayor, Sadiq Khan doesn’t seem to be as he has withdrawn City Hall’s objection to London City Airport’s £300 million expansion plan according to the Financial Times. . The move paves the way for a larger terminal and a new taxiway for aircraft, which will allow the airport to handle 40% more flights and larger aircraft. The reason Khan withdrew the objection? “New evidence and continuing negotatiations” is what the FT says  quoting the spkesman for the new mayor.

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