Saturday snippets: September 2nd 2017

By | Category: Travel news
Cart driver in Tunisia waving

Is the wave to British tourists returning to Tunisia? Or to thank Thomas Cook?

Thomas Cook is the first of the bigger tour operators to have re-introduced Tunisia as a holiday destination now that the Foreign Office ban has been lifted. That they moved so quickly suggests that they have confidence in the country and that they envisage a lot of customer demand. With a lot of hotels available they can have the pick of the new hotels. Sadly, some old favourites have not been maintained as they might have been as Tunisians had little economic justification.

This year, the oldest tourism film festival in the world celebrates its fiftieth anniversary. Held in the Czech spa town of Karlovy Vary, (also known as Carlsbad) which is about 80 miles away from the capital, Prague, the festival may not be of interest to many readers other than holiday fanatics, Karlovy Vary is a very popular and pretty spa resort that is the second most visited place in the Czech Republic even when the tourism film festival isn’t on.  This year the festival should top the 322 entries (from 45 countries) that the 2016 festival attracted. Many will stay on after the 6th and 7th of October to take advantage of the 13 hot springs and the 300 others that are in the town. Others come for the increasingly important medical tourism facilities the town offers.


Jamaica on the other hand has had a buoyant time and new hotels have opened to meet a growing demand. In the first six months of the year they saw the arrival of 1,088,718 cruise passengers, up by 4.9%. For those visiting and staying the country has brought in some tourism programmes to reduce harassment of visitors and a more noticeable security presence, something that will answer some of the comments made by tour operators. The tourism board now is predicting that 4.2 million of us will visit the country this year.

Over five years ago, Just about Travel mentioned the V&A Waterfront area of Capetown and how up-and-coming it was. It will attract a lot more visitors after September 22nd because that is when The Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa (Zeitz MOCAA) opens to the public. This will be the first major museum in Africa to concentrate on exhibiting twenty-first century art from Africa, and as such, is quite a momentous event.

You might think that if there was to be a celebratory festival of whisky it would be held in Scotland. But not this September. Whisky Live is held in Paris for the fourteenth consecutive year and three day extravaganza (23-25 of September) get the chance to consider 150 different whiskies and spirits from thirty different countries. Claimed by the organisers to be bigger and better than ever, there will be an entire pop-up street along the banks of the Seine where you can join in the tastings, master classes and see the newly launched brands.

Italy wants more of us to visit their beaches

Only one in five holidaymakers to Italy take coastal holidays according to Cristiano Radaelli from ENIT, the Italian tourist board. That suggests the other 80% visit for heritage or cultural reasons, lakes & mountains holidays, skiing and food related trips. EIT is planning to highlight the holiday opportunities in coastal and marine resorts in the future.


Qatar Airlines has rolled out an improved service to their business and first class passengers when it comes to menu choices. Will the same be planned for those travelling in economy class? Probably not but for an airline with so many awards I found the four meals I recently had on flights no better than on other airlines. Somehow I expected more given those accolades. It only goes to show that you shouldn’t believe some of the hype!

Ras Al Khaimah, one of the United Arab Emirates is the fastest growing tourism destination in the Middle East. Passenger numbers have grown by 6% this year over last year and the country has its first scheduled service to Europe – to Prague in the Czech Republic. This winter there will be charter flights from some European cities as tour operators sell the emirate as a winter sun destination. Which will be the first UK tour operator to offer charter flights?

Despite all the fuss earlier in the year when the Florida legislature stopped all of Visit Florida’s funding which led to political battles eventually won by the state governor, Rick Scott, who managed to get its budget restored, the state has announced the best ever six months for tourism. 60.7 million visitors were recorded in the first half of the year of whom 5.3 million were overseas visitors. Overall, it equates to an overall 4.1% increase in visitors. The governor would like 120 million visitors this year so if you haven’t booked a Florida holiday yet he would rather like it if you did!

image of Disneyworld -Kissimmee

Are Disney characters happy because Florida’s tourism marketing budget has been restored?

According to a company called WPI Economics and revealed by Sky News, passenger numbers travelling between the UK and EU countries could slump 41% in the year between March 2018 and March 2019 due to Brexit. The company says that unless an interim aviation agreement is reached with the EU by October 2018 air traffic will decrease. Sky News also says that Gatwick, Heathrow, London City, Manchester and Stansted have sent a report saying much the same thing. I view this as suspect since holidaymakers will still take holidays abroad next year as Brexit won’t take place until the following year. What airline is going to cut back when passengers won’t be? Is this another example of scare tactics so that the government will speed up a deal? And when the numbers who travel doesn’t drop next year why should we ever believe what this company says? Or the airports who submitted similar thoughts?

Over the last years we have had a flurry of Chinese airlines starting routes from the UK and taking us to cities some of us have barely heard of. Now Beijing Capital Airlines will connect Heathrow with Qingdao, the port city in China’s Shandong province as from the 30th of October. On the same day it will start a route from Qingdao to Sydney in Australia thus giving holidaymakers yet another alternative airline route to Australia and another stopover destination on the way!

easyJet has announced some new winter flights. It will start flying from Southampton for the first time linking that city with Geneva. It will also launch new flights from Bristol to Stockholm and Athens; Gatwick to Klagenfurt in Austria; Liverpool to Venice; Luton to Sardinia and Seville; Manchester to Agadir in Morocco and Southend to Malta. Most flights start at the end of October with the remainder in November of December.

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