Saturday snippets: 7th January 2017

By | Category: Travel news
Taiwan landscape

sunset in Jinguashi in Taiwan may be one reason why more British tourists visited Taiwan last year

Last year was a busy one for the travel industry. Ryanair carried 117 million passengers which was up by 15% and easyJet carried nearly 74.5 million, an increase of 6.6%. Just between these two, they carried the equivalent of three times the population of the UK. This was despite a period of instability in travel given terrorist fears in Turkey, France, Belgium, Tunisia and Egypt to name just those countries to which Britons travelled in large numbers. It looks as though holidaymakers were not put off flying but just to where they would fly. The industry will be hoping for 2017 to be a busy year as well.

The boom in flying was not limited and was replicated in the number of visitors that various countries announced.  Last year was  a good year for Cuba which saw a record four million tourists in 2016, up 13%  over last year, with much of the increase coming from the US and Europe. In Taiwan, the number of UK arrivals exceeded the figures of 2015. Domestically, the numbers were also high. In the first eleven months of 2016, there were 1.35 billion visits in England, up 14% on the same period in the preceding year.

But the attack on passengers at Fort Lauderdale Airport yesterday brought security issues to the fore again. Under rules followed by the aviation industry you can carry firearms and ammunition in hold baggage subject to the airline’s agreement except through some airports like Brussels. That an incoming passenger, whilst still in an airport, can access his guns in the luggage reclaim area and use them as in the case of this incident should make the international and domestic bodies like ICAO and CAA query whether this should be allowed in the future. If security is so high on entering an airport and boarding a plane why shouldn’t it be as high when passengers arrive?

Unless you have dropped in when passing, I’d be prepared to bet that few tourists know of the Estorick Collection in London’s Canonbury Square. It only opened just over twenty years ago and closed last year for refurbishment. Re-opening on January 13th, this collection of modern Italian art is the finest outside Italy and more than one museum and gallery – as well as the Italian government – has tried to buy it. But Estorick and his wife donated it to a trust called the Eric and Salome Estorick Foundation. It bought a house and that is where the collection can be seen. The re-opening exhibition is The British in Italy 1917-1918.

gates of the Guiness Building in Dublin. A

gates of the Guiness Building in Dublin. A

The Guinness Storehouse in Dublin had a bumper tourist season last year. With a 9.97% increase in visitor numbers to 1,647,408 guests the increase mirrors current trends in Irish tourism, which has seen a busy 2016. In 2016, visitors from mainland Europe made up the majority of visitors to the Guinness Storehouse. Visitors from the United Kingdom accounted for 27% of visits.

You may have seen that China has started a direct rail freight service to London which will cover the 12,000 mile journey in about a fortnight. But why not start a regular passenger train service and hitch sleeping and dining cars to the train for a luxury trip through what is being called the New Silk Route? The train will pass at leisurely speed through Kazakhstan, Russia, Belarus, Poland, Germany Belgium and France. Given the popularity of luxury rail travel I’d have thought this was a winner as passenger could also get off, do some sightseeing and join the next service.

The collapse of All Leisure Holidays on Wednesday will affect some 13,000 people who have booked cruises with All Leisure’s subsidiary companies, Swan Hellenic and Voyages of Discovery. ABTA says, however, that only about a third of those future passengers are ATOL protected so some 8,000 people will lose out. Only customers who booked a flight and cruise package will be protected under the CAA ATOL scheme. Given that so many cruises start from UK ports, is it time that all cruise companies should be bonded for all passengers as a condition of operating?

Although official figures will not be published until July, it looks as though 32% – just under a third – of all passenger flights in Europe last year were on low cost airlines, the highest anywhere in the world. These figures come from ICAO – International Civil Aviation Organization. Overall growth in passenger numbers last year may not be as high as it was in 2015 but, nonetheless, over half of the world’s tourists who travel across international borders each year were transported by air.

sea Life in Hunstanton

Sea Life in Hunstanton

If you visit theme parks quite often you might want to consider an offer from the attractions group, Merlin. A Merlin Annual Pass costing from £109 gives you access to 32 places across the UK including the Coca-Cola London Eye, THORPE PARK Resort, Dream Works Tours Shrek’s Adventure! London, Chessington World of Adventures Resort, Alton Towers Resort, LEGOLAND® Windsor Resort and SEA LIFE Centres.

Perhaps the most interesting news of the week came from the futuristic technology show called CES in Las Vegas where it was announced that Carnival was developing a wearable gadget – called the Ocean Medallion – that allows services on board its ships to be personalised for guests. It could record meal orders, what activities a passenger has undertaken or automatically unlock guests’ cabins. This poses a number of questions. Do the medallions look the same? If so, will one open any room? How secure is it? What happens if you lose it? Is this just a way of collecting more personal information to be used for more marketing?  I think the comment from the company as reported by the BBC, “It’s going to almost be invisible to guests.”  This is despite the fact that on the first outfitted ship, the Regal Princess, there are some 7,000 sensors and 4,000 digital screens that have been installed.

Finally, British Airways cabin crew will strike for 48-hours as from January 10th after rejecting a new pay offer. Check the BA website to see if you are affected. The airline says that the affected staff only amount to 15% of cabin crew and that they operate only a minority of flights from Heathrow and flights from Gatwick, Stansted and London City won’t be affected by the industrial action.

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