Saturday snippets: 7th April 2018

By | Category: Travel news

The first day of service. Image © 2018 Gloucestershire Warwickshire Railway

Last weekend, the Gloucestershire Warwickshire Steam Railway‘s extension to Broadway opened meaning that now travellers can travel all the way from Cheltenham (the station is to the west of the racecourse) for some fifteen miles through some of the prettiest Cotswold villages. There has been no link between the two popular tourist destinations for fifty-eight years, the line closure even pre-dated Dr Beeching! The railway now operates a  steam and heritage diesel train service between Broadway and Cheltenham Racecourse via Toddington (the railway’s headquarters), Hayles Abbey, Winchcombe and Gotherington.

We don’t have a lot of toll roads in the UK apart from the M6 in the West Midlands and on bridges. If another was introduced we might tut a bit but that would probably be it. Not so in Albania where news reports say hundreds of demonstrators clashed with police during protests against the country’s first ever toll road near the Kalimash tunnel in the north of the country. Thirteen police officers were injured and collection boxes were destroyed or set on fire. Now I come to think of it when speed cameras were installed there were some that were set on fire so maybe we aren’t so different from our Albanian cousins.

Malaga – why are we staying away?

According to The Olive Press, an English language expatriate newspaper in the Spanish area of Andalucia, tourism numbers from the UK were down by 5.9% in February. For the first two months the figures were down by 3.1%. Given that the region covers tourist attractions like Malaga, the Costa del Sol and the Costa America as well as cities such as Seville and Granada why are we not travelling? The paper quotes tourism officials as saying that Tunisia and Egypt are attracting people who might otherwise have holidayed in Andalucia. French tourist numbers are also down so it isn’t just a problem with the Brits. If it continues I expect we can see a push to persuade us that Andalucia is where we should holiday this year.

A new museum is planned for Blackpool. Called at the moment Amuseum – a most uninspiring name – it will open in two years’ time and tell the story of Blackpool’s development as the UK’s first seaside town, featuring artefacts, film, music and live performance. The cost will be about £13 million some half of the museum proposed by council for the Winter Gardens a year or so ago. That was scrapped because of cost. This venture looks a little more financially secure so the town may actually get a museum to record its very considerable tourist – and other – achievements.

the Galapgaos Islands

One dream holiday destination is the Galapagos off the coast of Ecuador. Snorkelling a popular pastime but now one local tour operator, Latin Trails, has said that the Galapagos National Park Directorate is suspending all snorkelling along the Santa Fe Islands. The reason? There has been a change of shark behaviour as they are attracted by a sea lion colony and there have been reports of encounters between travellers and sharks that have raised concern.

At first I thought that this was an April Fool’s joke that had missed the day for some reason. But no, it is true. Larger passengers and parents with infants have been banned from flying business class on Thai Airways’ new Boeing 787-9 Dreamliners.  The reason? The seats in Thai’s Royal Silk class have safety belts that cannot extend around  those with a waist measurement of more than 56-inches thick. They also won’t carry babies and small children that sit on their parent’s laps for the same reason. What possessed the airline  not to specify lap belts that could be used by everyone?

The hubbub about awarding the printing of British passports to a Franco-Dutch company, Gemalto, is still calling ructions. The Daily Mail has launched a petition that has attracted well over 300,000 signatures so far calling on the government “to put British workers first by reversing the decision and giving the contract to a British firm. De La Rue has admitted its bid was not the cheapest but said it was of “the highest quality and technically most secure”. It still seems odd to me that their quotation was substantially higher (over £100 million) more than that of Gemalto.

mobile phone

How old is your mobile phone? Is it covered by your travel insurance?

With many people on an Easter holiday there is a warning from Travel Insurance Explained that some travel insurance policies may not provide enough cover. In particular where electronic gadgets are involved such as smartphones, electronic readers, laptops, smart watches, MP3 players and digital cameras, many policies specifically exclude mobile phones. Others may offer very low levels of cover, often £500 or less, and/or policies with a high excess. It is also possible that there may be limitations regarding the age of the gadget and some providers will only cover gadgets up to 24 months old but others cover gadgets up to 48 months old. It all boils down to reading the small print before you sign up!

The City of Derry Airport in Northern Ireland has been financially rocky for years. Now, one local councillor has suggested that it has no future. A grant of £7 million to attract new airlines and improve the infrastructure has been on hold for months because there is no devolved government in power to authorise it. Without the payment will the airport survive especially as the local council wants to cut its financial contribution?

tourist buses

Should tourist buses wend their way through Edinburgh’s Old Town?

Over the years a number of cities have banned tourist coaches from entering some parts of them. Rome and Barcelona immediately spring to mind as examples. Now a community council is suggesting a ban on tourist buses and lorries in Edinburgh’s Old Town. It says that there is “absolute chaos” in the area and because those that know best say “we must attract ever more tourists to our city and that this is necessary because they bring vast amounts of money into the city” the old town is becoming a “mess.”

Staying with the Scottish capital, from June, Hainan Airlines will run direct return flights between Edinburgh and Beijing twice a week. Two further return flights between the two cities each week will go via Dublin. The route will fly from Beijing to Dublin and then onto Edinburgh and then back to Beijing on Thursdays and Sundays, flying to Edinburgh and then Dublin and then back to Beijing on Tuesdays and Saturdays.

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