Saturday snippets: 4th November 2017

By | Category: Travel news

Image © Scott Babcock

It was an animal life in tourism last week. The lynx escaped from awildlife reserve at Borth in Mid-Wales but the story I preferred was about a seal in Alaska. It seems that Utqiaġvik (a name you may not know since it was only changed from Barrow to this Inuit name last December 1st)  has had some bad weather recently. After the local airport had cleared its runway, someone noticed that a seal was lying there presenting itself as a rather unusual hazard to aircraft. Can you imagine the response from your insurance company when you submit a claim for being delayed due to a seal on the runway?

In London today is the Regent Street Motor Show. This is the biggest free motoring exhibition in the UK and, each year, regularly attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors. Regent Street will be closed from Piccadilly to Oxford Street (the shops remain open) whilst the cars are there for everyone to see. Motor transport taking part will include everything from late Victorian vehicles to modern prototypes and everything in between.

In 2016, France welcomed 11.9 million British visitors with a continued positive trend. As the tourist authorities in France say that there has been a growth of 5% in the number of Brits visiting the country to the first six months of the year. This builds on the 11.9 million of us who went to France in 2016. About 15% of all international visitors to France are Britons and many were on day trips.

Day trips are an important part of tourism. Coach companies especially lay on trips to see London shows, pantomimes and seasonal seaside shows. PR people always play up the positives a show and try to make it better than it is but I was struck by how far some wordsmith had gone concerning a touring show called “D-Day Darlings,” which was billed as a musical show of the 1940’s. the promotional blurb began “ Revive the good old times of wartime Britain…” Surely they were miserable, fraught times with rationing, bombing, invasion fears, no street lighting, hundreds of thousands of homes damaged or destroyed and civilians killed not to mention the soldiers. As for being “good” I can think of many other words to use instead!

the National Museum of the American Indian in Washington DC © NMAI

Should you be in Washington DC anytime this month, consider dropping by the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian. Why? Because November is National American Heritage Month and there are a variety of events coinciding with the month. It is located on the National Mall near the U.S. Capitol Building. One of the attractions of the museum is its restaurant, Mitsitam, which means “Let’s Eat!” in the language of the Delaware and Piscataway People. The restaurant has menus based on the foods eaten by native peoples not just those in the United states but throughout the Americas thus availing you of the opportunity to eat your way through two continents without leaving Washington DC!

The cruise company, Royal Caribbean, will restart calling at St Thomas on the US Virgin Islands as from the 10th of November. At the same time the company has said that it will completely restore Magens Bay, one of St. Thomas’ most popular tourist attractions – with plans for a grand re-opening of the pristine destination during Adventure of the Seas’ visit on 10th November.  The cruise company also says that it will return to San Juan in Puerto Rico and St. Maarten by the end of November and is working closely with local governments to announce the exact dates. By 1st December, all scheduled calls to the three islands will operate as planned. That means 6,000 passengers are week will be returning bringing a much-needed economic boost to the islands as they rebuilt after the hurricanes.

The owners of the Hilton Hotels group have been fined $700,000 after two separate credit card data breaches in 2014 and 2015. At the time, more than 363,000 accounts accessed. The fine will be split between two US states – New York and Vermont but why not the guests and why not other states and countries? Guests may not have lost money but there will have been worrying times and the need to change details including passwords.

Raja Ampat

Raja Ampat in Indonesia

On Monday, the World Travel Market opens in London for three days and, as usual, a number of Just about Travel writers will be there gathering stories. It is always difficult to realise how big it is unless you have been there but to try and give you some idea, this year, Indonesia is sending 100 people from eleven different regions to promote the country to Britons. The UK is the largest source of European visitors with 328,883 of us journeying to the country last year a rise of a fifth over 2015. And that number has been rising over the last few years as their campaign, Wonderful Indonesia, continues to appear in the media. This year they are hoping 384,000 of us will have visited Indonesia.

In airline news, China Airlines will link Gatwick with the Taiwan capital, Taipei, as from December 1st.  Up until 2012 it had served Heathrow for two years but then pulled out and now Eva Air is he only direct link from Heathrow. The Gatwick direct link will offer an alternative service and save those living in the south east the hassle of facing the M25. German low-cost carrier, Eurowings, started its sixth route from Heathrow on November 1st. This links Heathrow to Salzburg in Austria and will operate twice a week. As a reminder, British Airways will be linking Heathrow with Grenoble and Turin over the winter months as well as Manchester with Chambery and London City with Orly in Paris. Jet 2 will be operating flights from Stansted to Geneva and from Birmingham to Turin and Grenoble.

image from the air of Mykonos


If you are holidaying on the Greek island of Mykonos this November be aware that the airport on the island will be closed for maintenance between the 13th and 29th of the month. The runway has apparently exceeded its lifetime and the entire runway will be resurfaced. Tour operators and travel agents should have contacted you about alternative travel plans to get to the island.

Finally, congratulations to Hastings Pier on winning the Royal Institute of British Architects (Riba) Stirling Prize. Just about Travel has covered the fire that destroyed the old pier and the rebuilding. Called it a, “stunning, flexible new pier” and a “a masterpiece of regeneration” by Riba president Ben Derbyshire, the pier has more open space on it in its new guise than any other pier I know. But the award also gives a fillip to other piers which have been considering redevelopment and a way to modernise themselves yet retaining that nostalgic feel that we all possess for piers.

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