Saturday snippets: 10th September 2016

By | Category: Travel news
entry to the walk

Cleveland Way Circular © Experience Community

As the travel industry realises that those with disabilities represent a largely untapped market, new opportunities arise. In the North Yorkshire Moors National Park there is a new circular trail suitable for trampers, mobility scooters, mountain trikes and wheelchair users. The 5.3-mile-long Cleveland Way Circular starts at the Sutton Bank National Centre (which has accessible toilets and refreshment facilities) and takes in vistas across the Vale of Mowbray to the Yorkshire Dales. The stile and step-free walk follows sections of the Cleveland Way National Trail and the Cliff Bike Trail, travelling along escarpments and winding through woods and across fields. The Cliff Bike Trail section is the more challenging part.

The Marine Conservation Society believes that there should be an additional thirty-four Marine Protection Areas (MPA’s) on top of the fifty that already exist around the coastlines of our countries. Now the National Sea Life Centre Birmingham has come to their support and it is urging those that visit the Birmingham based attraction to sign postcards in support of their goal. They are hoping that the centre and its sister centres around the UK will collect at least 100,000 postcards.

Staying with the Marine Conservation Society, many of you will be turning out on the 16th and 17th of this month for the annual beach clear-up. If you haven’t volunteered yet, you can do so by clicking here.

The Caribbean hotel chain, Sandals, has conducted some research into attitudes to Brexit and finds that an overwhelming 81% of British participants surveyed did not avoid booking a holiday until they knew the results of the EU Referendum. Worries that people had post-Brexit were money based, with over a third of those surveyed stating that concerns over exchange rates would make them less likely to travel and 79% claimed that value for money was a major factor to consider when booking a holiday. Is it any wonder then survey respondents chose ‘all-inclusive’ as their most preferred board basis (34.70%), with half board the option they would be least likely to choose were they to book a holiday now (18.40%). Those with children were much more likely to book an all-inclusive (43.97%) over half board. (13.85%.)

It’s just three weeks until probably the best hot air balloon festival in the world. Think Bristol but much larger and lasting longer. From 1-9th of October, the annual Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta takes place in the American state of New Mexico. If the past is anything to go by there will be about 500 balloons taking to the skies and complementing this will be fireworks, music, a variety of different foods and, of course, balloon rides for anyone who wants one. The other appealing facto is that it costs just $8 for a day ticket. Not that you need one if you just want to see the birds getting a run for their money in the air!

image of Southwest tailfin

winners for best customer service

The American airline, Southwest, won the award for best airline in customer service in the recent SimpliFlying awards. I have written about the service levels before that Southwest staff has gone to in the past such as popping from the overhead luggage locker to sing happy birthday to children and the personal approach they take. My question really is when will be a British or Irish airline manage to win this award? At least a European airline, Brussels Airlines was second giving us the opportunity over here of sampling their service something that most of us will never manage to do as Southwest don’t fly anywhere near this side of the pond.

That attitude to Brexit affected airlines in different ways. Speaking at the Aviation Festival this week, Dame Carolyn McCall, CEO of easyJet said that the airline hadn’t noticed Europeans heading to the UK in the aftermath of the vote when sterling slumped against the euro, Willie Walsh, CEO of the holding group IAG (which includes BA, Iberia, Aer Lingus and Vueling) noted that the group had picked up on the fact that business passengers declined in the run-up to the vote.

Yet the business class airline La Compagnie has blamed Brexit for the decision to suspend its Luton-Newark route just 16 months after launching. The service will cease in September 25th. The company will concentrate on its Paris-New York route’ with the introduction of a second daily service The CEO called the economics of the Luton-New York route as ‘fragile’. Could it just be that businessmen prefer the London City- New York route and that Luton might not be the best location for an all-business class flight?

On the other hand, Thomas Cook Airlines will to launch direct flights from Manchester to San Francisco next spring with the first flight being 14 May. The airline is also launching London Gatwick-Cape Town flights in December 2016. It is part of the airline’s strategy to develop long-haul routes so could it mean before long that the airline develops into a fully- fledged carrier rather than just a charter airline?

Returning to the Aviation Festival for a minute, Harald Haas – an Edinburgh University professor – talked of the a replacement for wi-fi. It will be li-fi based on light rather than radio waves as wi-fi does. For travellers ths means that it will not affect aircraft electronics systems so you should be able to use it as and whenever. Being about as un-technical as it possible to be, the theory is that that binary data will be transmitted by light. The advantages are that it is safe, unlicenced, (meaning free) energy efficient and doesn’t interfere with electronics. There is one other advantage, at the moment at least. It has less likelihood of being hacked!

We are used to seeing bigger and bigger cruise ships and now P&O Cruises has placed an order for the largest ever cruise ship to be built specifically for the British market. The new 180,000 ton ship will accommodate about 5,200 guests and be delivered in 2020. The company says that the new ship will feature the company’s ‘green cruising’ design as one of the first generation of cruise ships to be fully powered by Liquefied Natural Gas which will significantly reduce air emissions. The company claims that there is still more demand to be found from the British market hence, the decision to build what will be the largest ship in their fleet.

worlds-longest-highest-glass-bottom-bridge-opening-in-zhangjiajie. Image ©

worlds-longest-highest-glass-bottom-bridge-opening-in-zhangjiajie. Image ©

The world’s highest and longest glass bottom bridge has closed. Open for just two weeks, the Zhangjiajie Grand Canyon Glass Bridge was designed to take about 660 people at any one time. Such was its popularity that up to 6,600 people have been on the bridge at the same time. The authorities say that the bridge is undamaged but then, why close it? I sense that the engineers are worried about whether the bridge can take the strain or that some structural fault has been found otherwise why not just limit the number of people on it at any one time? Such is its international appeal that tour operators hope that the problem can be fixed soon as the bridge has raised lots of interest amongst potential visitors

The reliance that we place on computers was shown when those at British Airways went down this week. Flights were delayed or cancelled and it took a little while to get back to normal. How much has this cost? A little while ago, the American airline, Delta underwent a similar problem. In its latest report it says that it will have cost the airline $150 million which amounted to knocking off 2% of its entire profits for the period.

Finally, according to IATA, International Air Transport Association) Europe is suffering from the impact of terror attacks. Although air traffic grew by 4.1% in July, this was less than in all other world regions. Overall, international passenger numbers were up 7.1% compared with July 2015. IATA also puts the slower growth down to political instability in parts of the region. Capacity has grown by a faster rate meaning that there are fewer passengers chasing more seats. That might explain why the normal end of summer sales in which the airlines indulge seems to have started a little earlier this year.

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