Saturday snippets: June 3rd 2017

By | Category: Travel news
Big Bling sculpture

Big Bling’ by Martin Puryear. Image © Association for Public Art.

One of the big attractions of visiting the US city of Philadelphia in late June is the Manayunk Arts Festival. It may last just two days (24th and 25th of June) but in that time over 200,000 people will visit to see artwork, including ceramics, jewellery and paintings, from nearly 300 artists. So important has it become, that instead of it attracting visitors and artists from just the north east of the United States it now attracts established and up-and-coming artists from all over the USA. The biggest section? Eighty-nine jewellery designers are on display. I mention this because, coinciding with the festival, is a huge outdoor piece of public art called “Big Bling” which is on display in Fairmount Park until December this year.  Created by Martin Puryear, it is multi-tier wooden structure wrapped in a fine chain-link fence and was first seen in New York occasioned a lot of interest and, to me, it looks like a mammoth with a ring through its nose!  However you view it that, and the Manayunk Arts Festival, confirm Philadelphia as one of the most vibrant public art centres in the US.

Travel agents and tour operators must tell you if your flight has been cancelled more than two weeks before departure. If they delay, the European Court of Justice has ruled that they can be used by airlines or tour operators.  The ruling came about whereby an airline was unable to prove that a passenger was informed of the cancellation of their flight more than two weeks before departure. They then became liable for compensation under EU 261 flight compensation rules. The ruling says that the airline must compensate the passenger, regardless of how they booked the flight. But it gave leave for airlines from in turn seeking compensation from a travel agent or a tour operator for preventing it from carrying out its duty to the passenger.

The Association of British Insurers (ABI) has complained about how British Airways positioned compensation claims on its website. BA suggested that affected passengers should claim – in the first instance – from their insurer. The ABI pointed out that this is incorrect as under EU law airlines must pay reasonable expenses so the airline was not properly informing people of their rights. BA altered its website to reflect what he ABI had said.

The gardens at the Marivent Palace in Palma, the Spanish Royal Family’s summer residence, have opened to the public for the first time.   The gardens are free to visit and will be open all year-round apart from between July 15th and September 15th. The gardens can cope with only 300 people at any one time. The reasons you might want to visit whilst you are holidaying on Majorca? The gardens are home to over forty different plant species, as well as several birds of paradise. There are also 12 bronze sculptures by the artist Joan Miró, (who made his home in Palma) which were made between 1969 and 1981, and have been donated by the Miró family.

Lomas de Barbudel Waterfalls in Costa Rica

Three south and central American countries have announced greater visitor numbers from the UK last year over the previous one. Peru says that out of the 3,744,461 overseas arrivals last year, the UK numbers increased by 9.6% with 69,302 Brits visiting Peru in 2016. Costa Rica has seen a 12.7% rise in UK visitors during the first three months of 2017.  And Nicaragua has seen a 16% increase in British visitors

Unlike central and south America, it looks as though visitor numbers to the US are dropping although it will take a while for official figures to be made public. According to a company called Foursquare and based on it users, America’s overall market share of tourism fell 16% in March 2017 compared to March 2016. The company says that is down 11% year over year for the period between October 2016 and March 2017. Why the drop? The suggestion is that it is due to the vetting policies of the US administration which includes the laptop ban on certain Middle East airports. Overall it looks like visitor numbers from the Middle East are down by a quarter. If this is the case when official figures are realised it is unlikely that airlines will be able to push through price increases.

Staying in the Americas, if you are lucky enough to be holidaying in the Cayman Islands then, it is possible that you will have to curtail or cancel your holiday due to weather conditions on the islands which include hurricanes. But the Department of Tourism has developed what it calls a Worry Free Hurricane Guarantee, insurance which means that it covers cancellations made prior to arrival and compensation if holiday time is cut short because of inclement weather. As soon as a hurricane is anticipated, guests are eligible to receive a full refund of accommodation fees. It applies to participating hotels, villas and condos and has a maximum one-night penalty at most for cancellations made up to 48 hours prior to check-in. Additionally, many properties are offering a free replacement stay throughout the summer months, allowing guests to rebook for the same duration as the initially-booked stay, regardless of how many days were affected by a hurricane or storm. Yes, your flight isn’t covered by the scheme but you can add a premium to your travel insurance policy to cover this.

According to the online bookers, Eviivo, we are heading to seaside resorts in greater numbers this year. Compiling information from 5,000 B&B’s, the company says that forward booking are up 19.2% compared to the same pre-Brexit vote period. Eviivo says the weaker pound is boosting the market with Penzance, Scarborough and Torquay being popular this summer. Is this due to a decline in the pound, fears of Brexit or an improvement in the appeal of seaside resorts? The resorts would hope it is the latter that is attracting us.

A United flight taxing on the runway

United Airlines – are we really that much happier with airlines?

Given all the negativity about airline satisfaction as suggested by the British Airways IT fiasco and the United Airlines manually throwing a doctor of one of their flights it might surprise you to know that, according to the J .D. Power 2017 North America Airline Satisfaction Study, only about 25% of social media posts are negative. When an airline responds to any social media post, whether it’s positive or negative, there is an increase in passenger satisfaction. The study shows overall customer satisfaction with airlines has reached its highest level ever, continuing a trend that now stretches five consecutive years. Will this be the case the next time the study is undertaken?

In airline news, Flybe will fly to Hamburg from Birmingham as from the 10th of July. If you are flying on Ryanair, then you will be able to check-in up to sixty days in advance. This opportunity is only available for those of you who pay extra for allocated seating. Air Zimbabwe has been refused permission to operate flights to the EU because the airline has been unable to demonstrate that it complies with international air safety standards.

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