Saturday snippets: 8th of September 2018

By | Category: Travel news

Announcing the Africa Tourism Board

As readers will know, authorities in Rwanda, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Uganda have been counting the numbers of mountain gorillas. More numbers and the increased number of tourists visiting have resulted in the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) receiving more requests for permits to see the animals. The authority has decided to allow an extra 3,000 people to visit the area where the gorillas live.  This means that visitors will be able to trek to see – if the wish – both the Katwe group (in Buhoma) and the Christmas group (in Nkuringo) If you are travelling independently make sure you apply for your permit well in advance of your arrival because there will still be ore people wanting to see the animals at busy times than there will be permits.

A large fire destroyed most of the National Museum in Rio de Janeiro earlier this week. The Brazilian museum housed some twenty million exhibits but millions were destroyed in the blaze. A fixture on most people’s holiday Rio, it has recently celebrated its bi-centenary. The government has pledged $2.8 million for reconstruction but that sum will hardly make an impression. Rebuilding will cost tens of millions but what will go inside? It had one of the largest anthropology and natural history collections in South America with many items deemed irreplaceable like the 12,000-year-old remains of a woman known as Luzia. Its collection of early South American artefacts will not be easily replaced.

A new organisation has been established, the African Tourist Board. The idea is that it will jointly promote the continent as well as acting as a catalyst for the development of responsible tourism and travel within, to and from the African region resulting from stakeholders desire to move with a unity of purpose on tourism development in Africa. Expect to see a flurry of activity later in the year as it will probably decide to promote Africa as a year-round destination.

Ponte Vecchio

The Ponte Vecchio in Florence is one of the busiest tourist attractions. Will this also have tourist restrictions introduced in the future?

A rather strange little local law has just been introduced in the Italian city of Florence. As from September 4th you cannot eat. Loiter, stand in doorways or roads in four streets all of which are near and around the Uffizi Gallery. The streets are Via de’ Neri, Piazzale degli Uffizi, Piazza del Grano and Via della Ninna.  It only applies to lunch and dinner times and you will find bi-lingual notices advising you of the rules. The idea behind this is be responsive to the complaints of locals who say that tourists are blocking and making it difficult to fulfil their normal lives. If you do break this law you can expect to receive a fine of between €150 and €500 which is described by the UK Foreign Office website as “very high.”

Cyprus says that tourist arrivals in first six months of 2018 outnumbered the total arrivals ever recorded for a similar period. 1,645,149 international arrivals visited the country, a 12.4% increase on the same period in 2017. Of these, there were 560,840 UK arrivals (a 9.7% increase) which, the Cyrus Tourism Organisation says is partially due to the strong promotions it advertised in the UK about Cyprus as a winter sun destination. With August and summer figures, anecdotally at least, seemingly high as well, Cyprus will be hoping for high numbers this coming winter as well.

Rumour has it that the tourist authorities in Kenya have decided that a big impetus in growth would be if they could persuade one or both of the two European low-cost airlines to schedule flights to the country. Apparently they are in discussion with both easyJet and Ryanair about the likelihood of flights at least initially in winter when most Britons holidaying there would go. It is also a good time for the airlines as this is a period when planes can often be under-utilised. If the Kenyans are successful then winter 2019/2020 would be the earliest date for any regular service.

The Wigtown Book Festival  celebrates its 20th anniversary this year, which is quite an achievement for a small town with only a thousand people. It has achieved the same coveted status as hay-on-Wye as being one of the book festivals to attend for both writers and book lovers. It runs from the the 21st of this month and lasts until the end of September. Wigtown is Scotland’s National Book Town and this festival encompasses not just book events but theatre and music for adults whilst for children there is a special garden with activities to appeal to younger readers.

Does anyone else find it a little strange that the Steigenberger Aqua Magic hotel in the Egyptian Red Sea resort of Hurghada has suddenly had a spate of positive reviews since the married couple died there last month.  Usually it seems a couple of reviews a week are submitted. A week ago there were 26 and all but two were positive. Looking at and there was no such flurry of reviews. And, at least on that site it asks for positive and negatives about each place.

In a little town called Cupramontana near Ancona in Italy, a grape festival takes place which can get rather messy. The reason? It includes a grape crushing race. As one of Italy’s oldest grape festivals, Sagra Dell’uva (it runs from the 4-7th of October. The website is only in Italian.) is a celebration of local traditions, culture and wine making with traditional dances, songs, music, allegoric floats and, of course, the race. Needless to say there will be stalls selling food and wine, grapes and other local products.

The airline, VLM, has stopped trading. It operated from Aberdeen and London City to Antwerp. Because it didn’t sell packages as defined, those readers with future bookings won’t be able to claim under ATOL regulations. If you have a forward booking and you booked with a credit card then your credit card supplier may refund you any monies. There is another airline called VLM Airlines Brussels. That airline has not collapsed.

Etihad Airways has a new fare called ‘Deal Fare.’ Cheaper than any other fare it is for those travelling only with hand baggage which weighs no more than 7kg. At present it is only for flights between Abu Dhabi, Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Lebanon, Egypt and Azerbaijan. Carry more luggage and you buy extra allowance. Will this fare spread to long-haul destinations that Etihad operates?

Summing up some airline news for the coming winter, easyJet will operate the following new routes:  Belfast to Fuerteventura, Prague, and Salzburg;  Bristol to Larnaca, Are Ostersund and Sofia; Glasgow to Venice; Liverpool to Toulouse; Luton to Gibraltar and Krakow; Manchester to Lanzarote, Barcelona, Bordeaux, Faro and Innsbruck and Stansted to Hurgharda. Wizz Air will fly from Birmingham to Cluj International Airport in Romania as from December 16th. Cluj is a historic Transylvanian university city of culture and nightlife with easy access to the Carpathian Mountains. From the 7th of December, there will be a new direct service from Gatwick to Shanghai. Operated by China Eastern it will fly three days a week and offer 70,000 seats pa on the route.

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