Saturday snippets: 23rd of July 2016

By | Category: Travel news
Future i360 Site for F10 Studios. Architectural Photography by Jim Stephenson

Future i360 Site for F10 Studios. Architectural Photography by Jim Stephenson

Brighton’s latest tourist attraction and the world’s tallest moving observation tower, the British Airways i360, will open on the 4th of August. From that day, visitors will be able to glide up to 450 feet in a fully enclosed futuristic glass viewing pod to see over the south coast and Brighton itself. ‘Flights’ are 20 minutes during the day and 30 minutes after 6.00pm, when the pod transforms into the Nyetimber Sky Bar serving drinks from the region. Tickets cost from £13.50 for adults and from £6.75 for children, with under 4s free. A number of events will mark the launch but, as yet, they haven’t been announced.

Staying in the south of England, part of the coastal path has been opened with a 66 mile section from Ramsgate to Camber available for visitors and locals to walk. This is the first section of the England Coast Path to open in the south east of England giving views of coastline, including the White Cliffs and Dungeness and Pegwell Bay, popular for bird watching, their landscape and their summer flowers. Natural England is currently establishing a 2,700-mile path around the entire English coastline by 2020 and work is already under way on 60 per cent of the route. When completed, it will be the longest continuous coastal walking route in the world.

England Coast Path at Staithes © Andrew Best / Natural England

England Coast Path at Staithes © Andrew Best / Natural England

But this isn’t the only part of the path that opened this week. In Teesside 68 miles of sign posted National Trail will give walkers new and improved access. The continuous route starts at Filey Brigg and passes north through Scarborough and Whitby, Saltburn and Redcar, providing views of the North York Moors and coastline. It follows much of the well-known coastal section of Cleveland Way National Trail with improvements to the route.

In a few days’ time, a nineteen day party begins in Hannover, and – each year – more and more people are attending.  From 27 July to 14 August, the 31st Maschsee Lake Festival takes place a mixture of international cuisine offerings, music and entertainment. The main attractions include specialities offered by international caterers, free open-air concerts, lake activities, cabaret acts as well as special programme for kids. An additional benefit for visitors is the 81-metre high mobile “Maschsee Skyline” observation tower – the highest in Europe –which gives you a great view over the lake and Hannover’s famous landmarks.  The motto of the festival this year is “Ahoy 2016 Maschsee Lake Festival: Come on board for a voyage around the world!” the ports of call include the kitchens of the Far East, Italy, Mexico, Spain, Germany and the Caribbean.

The good weather that most of us have had in the last few weeks is a reminder that summer is here. Staycations look to be booming this year given the decline in the pound and beach visits will be high. You can go to a traditional resort like Ramsgate here the festival begins today interlinked with Ramsgate Week. This year, a new art work, Perfigium Miseris will sit at the hide tide mark and sink beneath the water as the sea rises. The artwork is clad in photo-luminescent vinyl which adds a soft glow to the installation as the daylight fades. The name comes from the motto from the Georgian Lighthouse and means “refuge for those in need” the rest what’s happening can be found by clicking here.

Nottingham "beach"

Nottingham “beach”

Alternatively, you could head to the beach at Nottingham. Yes, I did write Nottingham. Like Paris – well, perhaps not quite – ‘The Deliveroo Beach ‘has returned to Old Market Square. It opened yesterday and continues until the end of the summer. They even have Nottingham sticks of rock!

Again, a long way from the beach is East London and here, there are a series of non-seaside events happening at the Westfield shopping centre to spend even more time there than shoppers currently do. From the 29th July – 4th September there are Westfield Pop-Up Parks with artificial grass and a roof over your head, so you don’t need to take account of the weather. Barbados for example, will be hosting rum tastings, domino competitions, flower arranging, face painting and hair braiding; all done in true Caribbean style. There will be the Big Dance ‘Carnival’ style event on 13th and 14th August, featuring a range of performances and participatory workshops for all the family in Salsa, Samba, Flamenco, Capoeira, Dancehall, Hula Hoop and Bollywood and, for children, there is the Fairy Tale Treescape zone will be host to Fairy Tale Fridays, which will bring everyone’s favourite stories to life in new and exciting ways with adventure stories under the tree with special guests.

The buses connecting Glasgow Airport to the centre altered this week. A new fleet of buses entered service which is supposed to be all the things that companies say when a new fleet is issued – quieter, fuel efficient, more comfortable and so on. For passengers though, the main thing will be that the journey takes 15 minutes and there are charging points on the buses for phones, I-Pads and the like.

Should it really cost over £6 million to tell us why there was a time delay and cost ver runs in completing the Edinburgh tram network?

Should it really cost over £6 million to tell us why there was a time delay and cost ver runs in completing the Edinburgh tram network?

On the other side of the country, the enquiry into the Edinburgh tram debacle is now two years old. According to the BBC, a freedom of information query has found out that the investigation has cost £3.7 million so far and the Scottish government has budgeted a further £2.5 million for the forthcoming year. You could do a lot of tourism upgrades with that sort of money. The BBC reminds us that, when setting up the enquiry, Alex Salmond – the First Minister – said that it would be “swift and thorough.” Obviously these words are defined differently by politicians in comparison to us ordinary mortals. After Chilcot, does any enquiry finish early or on time?

Talking of Chilcot, I hear that a group of performers will be reading the entire report at the Edinburgh Fringe this year. usually the Fringe is a big tourist draw. Reading Chilcot may not be so visitor attractive as it is estimated to take two weeks. This might be a cure for insomniacs!

It has been announced that Cardiff  Airport is currently the UK’s fastest growing airport after experiencing a 28% increase in passenger traffic over the last 12 months.  Between June 2015 and June 2016, the number of passengers rose to 1,302,583 marking 13 months of consecutive growth.  At the highpoint in 2007, there were 2,111,148 passengers using it and these new figures only bring it back to 2010 levels. Any increase is good for the airport and it does look as though the recent investment and direction taken augurs well for the future but I sometimes wish the “spin” that is put on all news releases was a little bit more accurate. A bit like the one below, also from Wales.

The biggest agricultural show in the UK was held near Builth Wells this week It attracts over a quarter-of-a-million visitors including the Welsh Secretary for the Economy and Infrastructure, Ken Skates. Whilst there he crowed about tourism growth in Wales saying that there had been a 9% increase in international tourism over the last three years. Sounds great until you look it at the figures issued by the World Tourism Organisation. Last year the average rise around the world was 4.4%, (in Europe, 5%) as it was in 2014 although in Europe it only grew by 3%. In 2013 there was a worldwide growth of 5%, the same as it was in Europe. That means that number visiting Wales is declining compared to competitor destinations but politicians don’t like to say negative things like that.

Passengers have been getting used, over the last few years, to paying for hold baggage. Not every airline is following the trend. Both Jet 2CityBreaks and Jet2Holidays have introduced, this week, a free 22kg baggage allowance. As the company points out, this gives customers up to a third more allowance than other airlines. There are a few exceptions however. It won’t apply to New York trips or Christmas market visits. Will other holiday companies/airlines follow?ac_blue

From Air Canada comes a novel idea that, at first sight, is based on marriage present lists that are given to retailers. It has launched its own platform offering customers a way to fund their travels. Called Embarq, the online service lets travellers upload photos or a video to support their request for funds to travel. The money raised is converted into a gift card to be used for airfare on the Air Canada network, seat selection and baggage fees.

According to, on our summer holidays we’ll spend 50% more time on our smartphones than on sunbeds. Globally, 40% of travellers are using social media to talk about their holidays but only 22.33% of Brits are doing so. 75% of Brits list Wi-Fi access in hotels as being an important deciding factor when booking hotels and a further fifth of British travellers claim their mobile devices are their most valuable source of information whilst travelling using it for information about restaurants, maps and directions as well as what attractions are nearby.  At least apps  that we look at  are more up-to-date than guidebooks ever are.

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