Saturday snippets: 3rd February 2018

By | Category: Travel news

Last Monday the Home Office announced that the price of passports would rise as from March 27th. Although subject to parliamentary approval, it would be a surprise if the increases didn’t go ahead. If you apply online, the price rises by £3 from £72.50-£75.50. But if you apply by post a new passport will cost you £85. The government claims that it costs more to process a mailed, paper application. A child’s passport will rise to £49 0nline and £58.50 for a posted in application.  You could argue that the premium for mailing in an application penalises those who don’t have internet access  but it won’t sway the government as it probably looks on this increase as a way of part funding the new security requirements that will be needed after Brexit.

In the most recent issue of the results of the Customer Satisfaction Index (published twice a year by the Institute of Customer Service since 2008) Jet 2 Holidays came 9th out of 250 companies. Premier Inn (16th), P&O Ferries,(20th) Brittany Ferries,(21st)  Haven (31st)and P&O Cruises (39th) were in the top fifty but no other tour operator, cruise company or hotel chain was.

Corfu – most of Greece has had an exceptional year

International arrivals at Greece’s main airports grew in 2017 by 8.6% according to the Greek Tourism Confederation. Athens Airport saw a 6%t rise while regional airports saw one of 9.5%.  the confederation also says that consumer confidence is growing stronger in most of Greece’s source markets but not the UK. Given the increase in bookings from the UK that decline in confidence seems a little difficult to understand especially as there have no noticeable incidents to dent confidence.

Earlier this week, two new national parks, Patagonia National Park and Pumalin National Park came into being in Chile. The land has been donated by Tompkins Conservation, an organisation set up by the founders of  the North Face clothing brand. It provides another link in the planned chain of a 1,500 mile trail along the Carretera Austral connecting a network of 17 National Parks, from Lake District to the Beagle Channel.

Chicago says that visitors to the city in 2017 reached 55.2 million – a new record and 2.5% increase over 2016. The increase of 1.4 million reaches the city’s goal of 55 million visitors annually – two years early.

Jamaican beach


Jamaica saw over four million arrivals to the island in 2017. This figure comprised of 2,353,461 stopover arrivals and 1,946,780 cruise passengers, demonstrating just how important the cruise business is to Jamaica. The half-a-million extra visitors in a single calendar year was a milestone achievement says Jamaica’s Minister of Tourism. After the recent crackdown by the authorities in Montego Bay on the north of the island, the government says that Jamaica continues to be safe, secure and seamless.

Did you know that Space Invaders, which will be celebrating its 40th anniversary in 2018? Neither did I but because of that anniversary it will be the main feature at the wonderfully named GEEK, a three-day festival of gaming at Margate’s Dreamland. This event focuses on multiplayer interactive games and encourages visitors to participate in all genres of gaming. It runs from the 16th-18th of February.

About as far removed from gaming as you can get is an exhibition about T.S Elliot’s The Waste Land a poem that many of us studied at school. Starting today at Turner Contemporary in Margate is Journeys with ‘The Waste Land’ an exhibition exploring the significance of  The Waste Land through visual arts. Why Margate?  Because in 1921, T.S. Eliot spent a few weeks in Margate when he was physically and mentally ill. He worked on the poem which was then published the following year. Since then it has become one of the most well-known twentieth century poems.

Co-op has entered the travel insurance market, becoming the first general insurer to offer unlimited, cashless medical cover for all ages and all medical conditions. It says that it is the first general insurer to pay medical expenses up front I tried a quote and found that the price was about 40% more than I was currently paying. Is it worth that to not have to find the money for the bills upfront and then claim it back from the Co-op?

Luton Airport – BA says that we are creatures of habit when travelling and 45% get to the airport before the gates open

According to British Airways, Britons are creatures of habits when they travel. Almost half of travellers say they always go through the same routine to ensure their journey and holiday goes to plan.  72% claim that they are organised with only 20% admitting that their approach is a little haphazard. The study, of 2,000 Brits, found 45% leave plenty of time to check-in for their flight – getting to the airport after the desk has opened but with time to spare but a similar percentage arrive even before the check-in has opened. Compared to Britons, travellers from France are among the least likely to have the same rituals on holiday, with just 29% sticking to the same routine when they go away yet , 69% of Chinese people and 64% of Indians admit they generally so the same thing.

In airline news, last year Just about Travel notified you that Primera Air would link Birmingham with Boston in the USA from this spring. The airline has cancelled this plan due to insufficient bookings. It seems to be also having difficulties attracting passengers on to its Birmingham – Newark (for New York City) and Birmingham to Toronto in Canada flights. There will be fewer flights available but the service will continue to go ahead, the Newark service from May 18th and the Toronto service from June 23rd. This coming summer, Ryanair will link Manchester airport with ten new destinations. These are Agadir, Almeria, Barcelona Reus, Belfast, Cagliari, Palermo, Ponta Delgada, Porto, Rhodes, and Venice Treviso.

The world’s longest zipline, (confirmed by Guinness World records) measuring 2.83 kilometres which spans the Jebel Jais chasm – the UAE’s largest mountain peak at over 1,680 metres above sea level – opened to the public on Thursday. It is claimed that zip-liners will travel at speeds between 120 and 150 kph. The plan is that the Jebel Jais Flight will become Ras Al Khaimah’s flagship tourism product and will cement Jebel Jais as the adventure tourism hub of the Middle East. There are no age restrictions on ‘pilots’ but the requirements are a maximum weight of 150 kg and minimum weight of 45 kg for ‘fliers’ who must be at least 120 cm tall. It is forecast that a rider will travel every five minutes on the two zip lines, equating to approximately 200 people per day, and around 100,000 per year. This is the latest offering from Ras Al Khaimah and is part of a campaign to transform the emirate into the region’s adventure and activity tourism hub.

Alice Hawkins. Image from

In Leicester tomorrow will be the unveiling of a statue in the market square to Alice Hawkins, the person who led the women’s suffrage movement in Leicester in the early 1900s. This will be at the heart of the city’s celebrations for the centenary of women receiving the vote.

And finally, from a Munich-based travel start-up, Holidu comes some research which falls into the category of “being different but does it matter”? Alomg with musiXmatch which claims to hold the biggest catalogue of song lyrics in the world, it has analysed 14 million lyrics which mention 300 cities. From that it has counted that New York, Paris and London are the top three in the world but that in the UK and Ireland, the following places had significant mentions in songs. Birmingham featured in 1,568 songs; Dublin (1,294 songs); Liverpool (949 songs); Derby (877 songs); Manchester (623 songs); Belfast (603) songs; Glasgow (539 songs); Brighton (528 songs); Oxford. The least-mentioned UK city in songs is Newcastle upon Tyne, appearing in just two songs.


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