Saturday snippets: 3rd November 2018

By | Category: Travel news

image of Virgin West Coast trainsVirgin Trains has decided to scrap the rule that stops those on cheap tickets from travelling on Friday peak time trains. This is a big step forward and it is to be hoped that other train companies will follow suit. For people going away for a weekend break it has meant either leaving before about 2.30pm or after 7pm. You can guarantee that the first train that you can travel on in  the evening will be packed, cramped and overcrowded. It is not unusual to stand for an hour or so until a seat becomes vacant. But it isn’t only Friday afternoons that the policy needs changing. It is every day.

The largest public statue, called The Statue of Unity, in the world opened this week. As with anything that is the largest/smallest/tallest/most expensive or whatever, it is hoped that this will become a tourist attraction. The statue is in the Indian state of Gujarat at Rajpipla. Costing $430 million (as calculated in US dollars)  and standing just short of 600 feet high, is such an undertaking justified in the country? That’s what some Indian politicians are asking. At the same time in Malawi a statue of Mahatma Ghandi may not be built. That statue is part of investment by India in a project there and Malawian politicians are asking the same thing as their Indian counterparts.

In 2017, tourism growth was 7%. Many thought that after such a strong growth, 2018 would see a slowing down. According to the World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) the first six months of 2018 saw growth of 6%. It says that all world regions enjoyed robust growth in tourist arrivals in January-June 2018. By region, Europe and Asia and the Pacific led growth with a 7% increase in arrivals each. The UK, France and Russia all reported double-digit increases in outbound spending in Europe. Will it last for the rest of the year? Judging by the high numbers of us who flew abroad during summer it looks like the high trend will continue.

Perth, Western Australia. This capital city is not indicative of what much of the state looks like.

Western Australia has announced that it is going to promote itself as the “road trip state.” Will this be enough to entice potential visitors to go to WA rather than one of the other Australian states? Will it be enticing enough to lure you to consider Australia in the first place? Anyone who thinks that they can just hire a car and visit a different place each day is in for a shock. It might work if you stay in the southwest corner of the state but if you want to further afield the distances can be vast. I know people who plan outback trips months in advance using the time to tune their vehicles to as close to perfection as they can, getting spare tyres, large water containers and teaching themselves to be mechanics so they can undertake any little car niggles that might develop. This may not be the greatest slogan ever imagined!

According to the World Travel Monitor, conducted by IPK International and commissioned by ITB Berlin, “millennials” are the next big key market and the largest age group for international travel. Usually defined as people born between 1980 and 2000, they are technology-savvy, highly educated and grew up familiar with and competent with internet and digital communication. Apparently “millennials” opt for city trips, and (at least some) are willing to spend big on travelling, with now half of all luxury trips being made by Millennials. If you are a “millennial” then you have a market share of over 40% of all worldwide outbound trips, which means you make up the largest age group for international travel.

Costa Rica

Costa Rica

Last Thursday, Thomas Cook Airlines introduced ‘Economy Light’ fares on its long-haul routes. With a promise that these would be the ‘lowest and most competitively priced’ fares available, they are yet another case of an airline trimming back the fares as much as possible so that the headline price is low but you pay for every other thing under the sun. For this fare you will be allowed a 6kg cabin bag and a personal item such as a handbag, but not hold baggage. You can only book this fare provided that you undertake to check-in online. If you want food, entertainment or anything else you pay extra for it. The airline gives as an example of the new fare a flight to New York. A typical Economy Light Manchester-New York flight would start from £299.99 return, compared to £359.99 return in economy.

Belize has seen a 24.3% increase in European visitors between January and June 2018 with the UK market seeing a 20.8% year-on-year increase in the same period. Costa Rica has also seen an upsurge in visiting brits, with the tourist board recently revealing that a total of 40,907 visitors from the UK travelled to Costa Rica in the first half of 2018 – representing an increase of 2.5% compared to the same period in 2017.

Demonstrating the use of olive oil. Image © Frantoi Aperti

I can’t say that I have ever been fascinated by olive oil. But many people are and attend tastings as religiously as wine buffs do when the first of the season’s wines are available.. In the Umbria region of Italy, November is virtually given over to a festival called Frantoi Aperti. Running until November 25th is a number of different events at locations in Umbria, the English interpretation of the event is described as “open House at the Oil Mills.” Along what is known as the Oil Dop Road, visitors get the chance to taste different olive oils as well as learn more about how to use the revered product.

Instead of olive oil, I should be more tempted to head for Merano in the very north of Italy in the South Tyrol. Here in Kurhaus, the famous Art Nouveau building in the heart of Merano, I would be able to enjoy the wine and food festival that runs from the 9th until the 3th of this month. More than 500 selected Italian and international vintners and over a hundred producers bring their wares to the festival. Just think -500 different vintners. That provides more wine tasting possibilities than I am likely to see in a year.

OnePoll, working on behalf of British Airways have completed some research that suggests 57% of us like the idea of a fly-drive holiday and that 35% of us would happily drive in a foreign country. Of the 65% who don’t like the idea of driving overseas it will come as no surprise to readers that the main reason is because people think they won’t get used to driving on the “wrong” side of the road. 39% of us don’t even think that they will be able to understand the road signs. It doesn’t sound as though many of us are adventurous!

Turkey expects you to get your visa before visiting the country not when you arrive

If you are planning on holidaying in Turkey then you should be aware that you cannot obtain a visa on arrival. Up until the end of October you could go to one of the self-service visa kiosks but they are not now available. You must apply for an online visa before you arrive in Turkey otherwise you may not be admitted

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