Saturday snippets: 22nd October 2016

By | Category: Travel news
Bus sign

If you can wait!

Just about Travel hasn’t printed any unusual signs for a while. Here is one from the Carmarthenshire village of Bronwydd. It looks official but suggests that the official was in two minds about when buses came! Lots of rural bus services face the axe which would be a pity since they are one of the few non-car options to sightsee. You might remember the story a few years ago of two ladies who used their free bus passes to tour the length and breadth of Wales just using local buses ie the ones they could travel on without paying a fare!

On the Greek island of Kos, the archaeological museum has re-opened after a makeover. Now, 80 years old, this museum concentrates on the culture and art of the island and has hosted major artefacts an archaeological finds since it opened.

Remaining with an archaeological theme, over €10 million in EU funding has been allocated for the restoration of nine Greek monuments on the North Eastern Aegean islands. The preservation work will take place at the ancient city of Poliochni, the site of Kaveirio on Limnos, Mytlini Castle on Lesvos, St George Sykousis church, the UNESCO-listed Nea Moni (monastery) and the Castle on Chios, as well as monuments on the islands of Sikinos (the Temple of Episkopi), Kythnos (transforming the old elementary school into an archaeological museum) and Rhodes (the Acropolis on Monte Smith).

PortAventura aquatic park

Caribe Aquatic Park at Park Aventura

Up until recently, the Costa Daurada region in Spain which includes Salou, Cambrils, Vila-seca, the PortAventura theme park and La Pineda Platja may not have been one of the most well-known but the past summer season may have changed all that. From May until the middle of September there were 1,733,106 overnight stays in hotels, campsites and apartments from UK guests in the region, an increase of 24.4% on the same period in 2015. Irish visitors were also up by 20.4%. It means that about a quarter of all the stays in the Costa Daurada were from British or Irish visitors. Next year this may this may grow further as there are additional flights from Birmingham, Dublin Liverpool and Stansted. A spokesman for the main airport in the region, Reus, stated that 60% of passengers passing through the airport during the summer months were travelling from the UK.

If you are holidaying in the Costa Daurada on half-term next week then imagine a pub crawl but with food. That is the idea of the Rally de Tapas  (website only in Spanish) which starts today and ends at the end of the month. The Rally takes visitors on a circuit through most of the area’s restaurants and bars allowing them to taste a selection of their finest food and drink. Each stop on the ‘rally’ costs €2.50 (the way sterling is call it £2.40) and some of the tapas dishes include a Spanish omelette with black sausage and caramelized apple, Piquillo peppers stuffed with cod and Galician octopus on truffled mashed potatoes. Some of the restaurants will also be providing a taster menu for kids.

Until recently Cardiff was the only capital in our countries not to have flights into London. Flybe began the flights when the Severn Tunnel was closed for work on the railway electrification project. The flights were expected to end this week when the tunnel re-opened but, due to the success of the service, they will remain but maybe not with three flights-a-day. Whilst this is great news for business people giving them a fast way to get to the financial hub of the UK, leisure passengers could do with a link to Heathrow or Gatwick to be able to connect to long-haul flights. Maybe Flybe would like to consider that option especially as it has code shares with Emirates and Cathay Pacific which would allow passengers to use the hubs of Dubai and Hong Kong to get to Africa, Asia and Australasia.

Anyone who has used Bristol airport is aware that it can get pretty busy at times. There has been some refurbishment lately providing for more space and now the airport has announced that it will increase the number of passport control booths from ten to seventeen as from spring next year. Primarily a leisure airport, this means that it should be faster to get through the airport when the Easter and summer rushes begin. In the meantime passengers can expect to see building work in the arrivals area.

I 360 image

British Airways i360 © Jim Stephenson

If you are taking a day trip to Brighton (Southern Rail permitting unless you are driving or taking a bus/coach) you can save a bit on the attractions by buying a combination ticket called a Brighton Attractions Combi-Saver for two or three of the top attractions there. The three that are bundled together are the British Airways i360, SEA LIFE Brighton and the Royal Pavilion. It should save about 20% of the monies you would pay if you bought all three and 15% if you buy just two.

As half-term begins, Travelzoo says that a quarter of those planning a break are avoiding Europe. The Travelzoo Autumn 2016 Travel Trends survey also explores consumer attitudes to security measures, with a quarter of Britons saying they have noticed extra security measures when travelling this year and over half saying they are prepared to undergo further security checks to improve security. 41% say they are now actively avoiding destinations impacted by terrorist attacks, 34% say they are more likely to holiday in the UK, while 11% say they are more likely to holiday all-inclusive when travelling to Europe in order to safeguard themselves whilst the pound continues to be unstable. Half say they’re happy to give up biometric data, such as fingerprints and eye retina scans, while 28% are willing to accept longer queues and delays, in exchange for improved security. Other key trends from the survey show the growing popularity of long-haul, with Canada named the second most popular destination for Britons this October half term. Guess what? the most popular destination remains Spain!

an image of Brtish Columbia

British Columbia, Canada is a popular destibation this half-term, At least with Travelzoo responders

The holiday watchdog, HolidayTravelWatch, has survey conclusions on a similar scale. It says that 73% of responders do not think there is enough information available to travel consumers about safety in their resorts and 90% are calling for the introduction of a Holiday Safety Certificate which would clearly show how their hotel or resort ranks for its on-site safety. 74%of those surveyed did not know that kids clubs abroad do not have to meet British quality and safety standards.  In addition, 77% of Brits did not know that, in general, it is not a requirement for kids clubs’ abroad to be UK DBS checked.  

As a contender for most unhelpful tourism comment of the year I give you the answer Margaret Ritchie, MP for South Down, received. She asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he had had discussions with the Northern Ireland Secretary about a reduction in VAT for tourism as it relates to employee creation. To this, you might expect a yes or a no answer but for the government this was impossible. Jane Ellison, one behalf of the Chancellor said – and I quote – “The Chancellor regularly discusses a wide range of issues with other Ministers.”

One of the important pieces of legislation we have from the EU is what is commonly referred to as EU261. This is the rule that says airline passengers will be compensated for flight delays or cancellations. Hundreds of millions of pounds is owed by airlines and tour operators to UK and some companies are acting slowly in fulfilling their responsibilities. Tim Farron MP asked the government whether they would replace EU 261 when Brexit occurs. Like the answer to Margaret Ritchie mentioned above, the answer from the Department for Transport was less than helpful. Again I quote John Hayes, the minister concerned. “The Government is considering the impacts of the decision to leave the European Union, including future arrangements for existing legislation.”

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