Saturday snippets: 2nd of July 2016

By | Category: Travel news
Brindley Place, Birmingham

Brindley Place in Birmingham. Investment has brought the tourists visiting in ever larger numbers

Last year, 12.9 million of us visited London for the day, a short break or a holiday. On top of domestic visitors a further 18.6 million overseas visitors came to the UK capital. Demonstrating the magnetism of  London is the fact that Birmingham, the second largest city in the UK, attracted over 1.1 million visitors – a record.  Yet there is a huge divide between the 31.5 million total number of visitors to London and the numbers in Birmingham. No wonder, there is a feeling that overseas visitors don’t venture of the London bubble and that more should be done to stimulate regional appeal to visitors.

The Brexit fall-out continues. Now the airline trade body, IATA, says that UK domiciles will travel 3-5% less in the years up to 20120 because of the expected downturn in economic activity. According to IATA figures, there were 117 million air passenger journeys between the UK and the EU last year.  I would have thought in the two years remaining before the UK leaves the EU family, there will be even more holidaymakers flying into Europe on the assumption that there might be hassles over potential visas after that date.

Ryanair has said – in an interview that the airline’s CEO – Michael O’Leary gave to the Wall Street Journal – that, following Brexit, Ryanair wouldn’t locate any more lanes in the Uk and that it would concentrate on European operations. Given that about 40% of all its passengers come into or fly out of the UK, that sounds like sound business sense to try and reduce the dependency on one market. It might allow other airlines to widen their route maps without fear of the massive might of Ryanair competing to remove them.

Where does this leave the decision on airport expansion in the south east of England, a decision that was due to be announced this summer? Into the long grass that has been kicked and you would imagine that if Boris becomes PM, he won’t accept expansion at Heathrow.  On Thursday, the government announced that an announcement would not be made before October. Willie Walsh, CEO of the holding company that owns Aer Lingus, BA, Iberia and Vueling says it might pull out of either Gatwick or Heathrow if the owners of those airports tried to pass on the costs of any expansion to the airlines in higher fees. Claiming that it would make flights uneconomic, this sounds like a negotiating position. That was last week. After Brexit he might have other thoughts on his mind.

Since Brexit, many companies have seen an increase in interest about overseas holidays. Could it also having something to do with England, Northern Ireland and the Republic not making it through to the next stage of the Euros?

Otto suggesting we will vote to stay in the EU

Otto suggesting we will vote to stay in the EU

Answering a string of questions from Lord Roberts of Llandudno last week, the government said that, in 2015, there were 24.2 million visits to the UK from EU nations which brought us £8.26 billion in revenue. Of those people working in tourism, 6.7% came from EU nations. The question for most tourist authorities is how much of this revenue is at risk after Brexit? Conversely, countries like Spain, Portugal, France, Italy, Greece and Germany must be wondering whether Brits will travel to those countries in the numbers that they have been doing or whether the Uk will negotiate easy entry to other countries that would like some of the UK holiday spend.

Remember Otto the Octopus? Living at SEA LIFE Manchester, she made predictions for England. Not a spectacular success was she as she tipped victories for England over all three matches. That didn’t happen.  She followed this up with a firm view that the UK would vote to remain in the EU. In future whatever Otto suggests, I’ll back the opposite!

In Belfast this week, Stormont discussed rail links to Belfast International Airport. Chris Hazzard, the Northern Ireland Minister for Infrastructure poured cold water on the suggestion saying that there were insufficient numbers traveling through the airport (10 million was suggested as an appropriate figure) to be economically viable. A suggestion to re-open the Knockmore –Antrim line which would allow for a direct rail service from Londonderry/Derry to Dublin and a rail link to Derry Airport was similarly answered.

Titanic Belfast - biggest tourist attraction in Belfast

Titanic Belfast

Last week for the very first time, an exhibition from the American Museum of Natural History has come to our shores.  At Titanic Belfast’s Andrews Gallery, from 25th June to 28th August, is the most stirring account of Antarctic exploration of all time – Scott versus Amundsen. The exhibit explores the ‘Race to the End of the Earth’ by two teams with one goal. Visitors will be brought back in time to follow in the footsteps of Norway’s Amundsen and Britain’s Scott as they embark on a 1,800-mile journey to be the first to reach the South Pole, showing what life was like for the explorers on the ice 100 years ago as they faced not only the ultimate limits of human endurance but some of the harshest weather conditions in the world, as well of the risk of starvation and frostbite.

This month sees the Queen’s House in Greenwich re-opening as it prepares to celebrate its 400th year anniversary. Designed by Inigo Jones for James I’s queen, Anne of Denmark, and completed around 1638 for Charles I’s queen, Henrietta Maria. Following almost 12 months of closure visitors will be able to wander around the refurbished galleries, new displays and colour schemes; as well as the re-introduction of royally-commissioned paintings, such as Orazio Gentileschi’s ‘Joseph and Potiphar’s Wife;’ which returns to the Queen’s House after 360 years.

If you are holidaying in the US later this month there are two completely different events happening that are world-famous and probably appear on many people’s bucket lists. The first is in the Wyoming city of Cheyenne and is the largest outdoor rodeo and Western celebration in the world. Called Cheyenne Frontier Days, the 10-day festival which begins on July 22nd, features, obviously, rodeo action as well as concerts, professional bull riders, parades, pancake breakfasts, a carnival, Old West Museum, Indian Village and Western entertainment. The second event is on Rhode Island and is the Newport Jazz Festival, This three day event starts on July 29th and features jazz on three unique stages at Fort Adams at the mouth of  the harbour making it one of the most picturesque festivals anywhere.

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