Saturday snippets; 4th March 2017

By | Category: Travel news
Rolling Stones exhibition poster

Rolling Stones at Navy Pier

I find this hard to believe but Chicago’s Navy Pier has announced that it will host the very first ever exhibition featuring the Rolling Stones. Has there really never been a major exhibition about them before? It runs from run from April 15th until July 30th and showcases the band’s private archive of personal items, original instruments and album art designs.

Route 66 in the United States that runs from Chicago to Santa Monica in California celebrated its 90th birthday last November. Now the US congress has had legislative bills introduced with the aim of classifying the road as a National Historic Trail (which it is, even if not officially) and to set up a commission to recommend activities to celebrate the 100th anniversary in 20126. If Just about Travel is still around in nine more years, we’ll bring you the details once they’ve been decided!

It is nearly Fallas Festival time in Valencia again. This year the fun might even be more enthusiastic than ever since Valencia will celebrate its new status as UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.  From the 15th to the 19th of March,  the streets of the city will fill with huge papier-mache sculptures, providing, amongst other things, a satirical review of the past year.  The fallas will be burnt at midnight on 19 March, after a few days of concerts, fireworks, parades and other special events.

the pyramids of Egypt

Egypt,Will vis prices deter us from holidaying there?

Egypt is more than doubling the cost of a tourist visa. It should have taken place last Wednesday but it has been postponed until July. Then the fee charged will be £48. Given that holidaymakers aren’t exactly flocking to Egypt at the moment, won’t this move deter visitors especially families with children since there are no discounts for those under eighteen? It is a question I shall ask the new Egyptian minister for tourism when I interview him next week.

When you return home from holiday, if you have a biometric passport then you can pass through special machines that will check it. At Schipol in Amsterdam, the  airport is trialling a similar system but for passengers leaving. Along with KLM it is testing facial recognition technology to speed up passengers passing through the airport as they won’t have to show boarding cards or passports. Passengers will have to register in advance at the airport by scanning their passport and boarding pass, as well as enrolling their face image. This allows them to go through a biometric eGate by simply looking at a camera. Since passengers have to show passports and boarding cards at the moment and it doesn’t take long when you are leaving a destination will this really save any time?

The tourist board in Croatia has been very successful over the years in attracting more of us to holiday there. Its success continues. The number of UK visitors rose by 26% last year compared to 2015 and stood at 3,307,333 visitors who stayed overnight. Over 91 million people globally stayed overnight in Croatia in 2016 compared to 80 million in 2015.

Lake Geneva

Geneva – a panoramic view from Lake Geneva but British tourists may have flown in to go on to the ski slopes

Another destination having an increase in the number of British visitors is the Swiss city of Geneva. Despite the decline in sterling against the Swiss franc, British tourists increased by 2.9% in 2016 compared to the previous year. The  UK accounts for the biggest visiting market out of all European inbound visitors to the city. In particular it is leisure visitors rather than business ones that account for the rise. It was a good skiing season last winter and Geneva is an airport many use to get to eastern France and northern Italy as well as Switzerland. Could that account for the rise?

Barrhead Travel, the Scottish based tour operator and travel agent looksas though it may be having a successful year. Being so strong in Scotland (although it operates in the North of England and Northern Ireland as well) it provides a good idea of how the holiday market is doing there. It says that interest in Thailand has been the biggest trend with bookings up by 150% followed by Dubai, (up 132%,) New York and Vancouver. Closer to home it says that there has been a 25% increase in bookings to traditional holiday resorts with the Costa Brava regaining popularity. Again, it is seeing the effect of television with interest in the Indian state of Kerala, where The Real Marigold Hotel is filmed, being strong.

an image of Brtish Columbia

British Columbia. Is it the open spaces that are attracting more of us to travel to Canada?,

Last week I mentioned that Canada had had a bumper year in tourism. The total figure 19,979,334 travellers and arrivals from the UK were up by17%. In all, 833,329 of us travelled across the Atlantic to visit. This year, it being the 150th anniversary, even more of us may travel there with the incentive that there are anniversary celebrations almost anywhere where you might go. As you can see from the Barrhead story above and the roundups we mentioned at the turn of the year, Canada is a hot tip for travel ths year.

But whilst Canada is optimistic, New York isn’t. It is revising down its forecasts and expecting a decline of about 300,000 fewer international arrivals. Why? In the words of NYC & Company, “These updated figures take into account changing attitudes about travel and access to the US since the previous forecast was announced in October 2016, prior to the new administration.” They will launch a new campaign in the UK this month called, ‘New York City — Welcoming the World,’ to encourage us to visit the city.

Some justification for the move by NYC & Company comes from the comparison fare website, Kayak. It says searches to New York are down by 32% compared to the same time last year, searches for Orlando and Tampa searches are down by 58%, Fort Lauderdale is down by 57% and Miami is down 52%. Searches for San Diego are down 43%, Las Vegas -36% – and Los Angeles, 32%.  But as yet, there is no reduction in airfares or hotel prices in those planes. Could it be that the downturn is due to sterling’s drop rather than new policies by the Trump administration?

I missed this story so apologies for being a bit late with the news. Radio 4’s midday programme, You & Yours, has said that our two largest tour operators have fallen foul of the travel industry’s code of conduct to which they are signed up as ABTA members. TUI was fined 48 times and Thomas Cook 24. Offences include inaccurate advertising and failing to let holidaymakers know about significant building works at resorts. But if they get told off this many times, does a rap across the knuckles really deter breaches occurring again?

Some of flags represnting the 180 pus countries at ITB next week

American Airlines has a new boarding policy in the US. Whether they will introduce the policy for transatlantic flight remains to be seen since the policy only began last Wednesday.  Usually you are called in order starting at first class, business class, frequent flyer members and others. Now there will be nine groups and, guess what.? Basic economy fare passengers will board last. Will this mean it will take longer to board? There is another problem for the group 9 boarders. Basic economy tickets cannot use the overhead bins so  you have to put luggage under the seat in front of you. I cannot see this policy endearing itself to travellers.

The power of television was seen again last week when Uniworld, the river cruise company, had one of its vessels featured on Channel 5’s Cruising with Jane McDonald . The company claims it had 40,000 web visits over last weekend and a thousand enquiries. Channel 5 reported the four-part series Cruising with Jane McDonald is its most successful new launch so far this year.

It isn’t often that we get warnings about flying on a particular airline from the UK Foreign Office. Safety concerns have been raised about InselAir, a Caribbean airline which doesn’t even fly near the UK. However it does have partnerships with Air France, KLM, Caribbean Airways and Air Berlin so there is a chance that,  if you don’t have a direct flight to your Caribbean destination, you might be put on it.  The Foreign Office is advising government staff not to travel on InselAir due to safety concerns and that advice is still current as at 3rd of March 2017. If the government won’t let its own people use the airline, heed the advice. The airline denies a problem but flights have been suspended into Kingston, Jamaica with no reason being given. Check with your travel agent if you are scheduled to fly on them and wish to change.

Finally, I shall be in Berlin next week for ITB – the biggest travel trade show in the world so as well as news about travel generally, there will be a  few stories about Germany in the coming weeks.

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