Saturday snippets: 13th of August 2016

By | Category: Travel news
Bliswort Canal Festival

Blisworth Canal Festival © Canal & River Trust

There is a flurry of things to do on the water this weekend and they all have free entry as part of the Canal & River Trust’s free family events in August. You could visit the Tees Barrage today at Stockton-n Tees and see how the four massive floodgates control the Tees and try a new water sport such as windsurfing, sailing, rowing canoeing or white-water rafting. Or you could go to Long Eaton in Nottinghamshire on either day for the Canal Festival where, in addition to seeing historic boats you can enjoy a trip on the canal or just enjoy the fun on the land. In Northamptonshire there is a similar event, the Blisworth Canal Festival where can join a boat tour through Blisworth Tunnel or a free fishing taster session.  It is National Fishing month after all.  If you are busy this weekend, then at Brighouse in Yorkshire on the following weekend there is the canal and music festival providing two full days of free boat trips, canal crafts, a street market, miniature steam train rides, vintage vehicles, music on two stages and refreshments.

After Skull Island: Reign of Kong, Universal Orlando has introduced new features to its Incredible Hulk Coaster. Apart from a new ride vehicle, there is also a new storyline that places guests at the hands of an experiment led by General “Thunderbolt” Ross and a new original ride score by Patrick Stump – front man for rock band, Fall Out Boy. With all attractions you have to queue but here they have even redesigned that so that visitors now will see what appears to be a a high-tech, scientific facility centered around a massive Gamma Core.

SS United States in heyday

SS United States in her heyday. © SS United States Conservancy

In one of the shortest press announcements I have ever seen, the SS United States Conservancy – the organisation that is concerned with reserving this historic liner has announced that their project with the luxury cruise company Crystal Cruises will not go any further. The reason? All the modern regulations concerning maritime safety would prove to be too costly to implement. What now? Does it become a floating hotel or a tourist attraction or will it end its life being towed to a scrap yard?

The architect, Le Corbusier, has been honoured in the latest decisions on what will join the list of World Heritage Sites. As part of a transnational joint application, Stuttgart and destinations in seven other countries applied to have 17 of Le Corbusier’s buildings listed due to the architect’s outstanding contribution to Modernism. The two Stuttgart houses are the architect’s only buildings in Germany and include the Weissenhof Museum, which illustrates the radical change in architecture around the time of WWII. For more  about Germany’s UNESCO World Heritage Sites, click here.

Travel research company ForwardKeys has said Brexit had had an immediate positive impact on tourism to our countries In the four weeks after he vote, 4.3% more flights were booked than in the same period last year with bookings from Hong Kong up by almost a third. It is due to the decline of the pound against so many currencies making it cheaper, once visitors arrive here, to travel around, visit attractions and shop. ForwardKeys also suggests that terror attacks in France and Belgium and air traffic disruption also benefitted UK tourism.

Aer Lingus, says that more passengers from the UK are flying via Dublin on transatlantic services than ever before. From Birmingham, Manchester and Liverpool airports via Dublin to North America has grown by 18% over the previous year and many other Aer Lingus UK gateways also reporting double-digit rises. Aer Lingus figures show that Manchester is the most popular starting point for UK residents travelling on their transatlantic services, followed closely by Birmingham and London Heathrow. The new data also highlights that holidaymakers to North America make up almost 40% of guests flying from the UK, compared to over a third who cross the Atlantic with Aer Lingus to visit friends and relatives. It all goes to show how useful the agreement between Ireland and the USA has been in enabling passengers to clear US entry procedures in Dublin before they fly. Roll on the introduction of the same system in the UK.

image of Disneyworld -Kissimmee

Disneyworld is actually in Kissimmee not Orlando

Those who follow West Ham will see more of the Florida resort of Kissimmee during the coming season. The tourist board, Experience Kissimmee, has signed a deal with the team as official destination partner. Supporters will find that Kissimmee will appear in ads around the stadium, on e-mails and mailings from the club as well as on social media. For those who have been there, Kissimmee is where a lot of the theme parks in Orlando are based. For those who haven’t it might establish Kissimmee away from its geographical neighbour, Orlando and establish it as a place in its own right.

Staying in Florida, attendance fell 7.6% or nearly 500,000 compared to a year ago at Orlando’s SeaWorld. The company blames the drop on economic woes in Brazil and across South America, the fall-out from the Orlando nightclub shooting in June and concerns over the spread of the Zika virus. The company says that it has “… a Florida problem, not a SeaWorld Orlando problem.” Nothing to do with the perception that its wrong keeping whales in captivity and the publicity that was aroused then!

Jokes about leaving towels on loungers, deckchairs and the beach may just be about to end. At least in Italy. In Livorno in Tuscany officials are handing out fines to anyone who tries to bag a part of the beach according to La Republica.  (website only in Italian.) The officials are taking the towels away and issuing fines – hefty ones at that at €200 – which makes me think that most of those caught will just forget the towels as its cheaper to buy new ones.

Friday August 19th is World Orangutan Day. At Twycross Zoo any person with red hair will be allowed free entry on that day. Apart from the publicity that the zoo will get from me mentioning the fact, the more serious aim is to raise awareness of the dangers the ape faces in the wild, where they are viewed as pests by palm oil farmers and are on the verge of extinction. The animals are either killed by farmers or left to die in forest fires that are used to make way for plantations. Why the celebration at Twycross? Because it has four Bornean orangutans, a male called Batu, along with three females, Kibriah, Maliku and Molly, who were all born at the zoo. A spokesman said: “We will be letting anyone with red hair in for free – male, female, adult, child, strawberry blonde, auburn, fiery red, natural or dyed – it does not matter. Those wearing red wigs will have to pay!

Celebrating the 1,500the cruise ship to visit Kirkwall

A special cake welcoming the 1,500 cruise ship to Kirkwall. The cake later went to a local charity.

Readers will know that cruising is very popular but how important is it to the destination ports? This week on the Orkneys, Kirkwall, having its 1,500th cruise call with the arrival of Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines’ Black Watch which coincided with the welcoming of the city’s 750,000th cruise guest. Having 1,500 cruise visits firstly means that the port is popular with cruise companies suggesting there is lots to see and do in the short time that a ship is docked but it also means that passengers are welcomed by locals otherwise those customer service forms passengers are asked to complete would have caused cruise companies to land elsewhere. There is a lot of competition from ports to attract cruise passengers because of the money they spend in port and the revenue to local businesses. It means that Kirkwall has welcomed 83 times its population from cruise ships over the years!

Light events normally occur in the later part of the year when the nights start drawing in. No so in the German city of Karlsruhe where the  Schlosslichtspiele (festival of lights) at the baroque castle began this week. Running until September 17th, some 400,000 people are expected to see the façade of the castle being turned into a light canvas measuring about 170 metres by 17.

In yesterday’s Daily Mail, the renowned crabby and opinionated writer, Richard Littlejohn lets rip about the annoyances on starting a holiday. It’s worth having a read if for no other reason than for the fun of it. What he doesn’t say is what prompted this present outburst Could it be that he has just returned from his holiday or an airline trip? My diatribes seem tame in comparison! Today the newspaper’s headline is about the great holiday rip-off which will remind readers of stories we have run about charges for drop-offs, credit card charges and insurance add-ons. Nice of the Daily Mail to catch-up.

Finally, according to the UK’s largest tourist operator, Brexit has had no apparent impact on its summer 2016 bookings. TUI said the UK continues to deliver a strong performance, with revenue and bookings up 6%. For short haul holidays, Spain, Greece, Cyprus and Portugal are popular and for long haul, (which is up by 16%, we are attracted to Mexico, Dominican Republic and Jamaica as well as Costa Rica.

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