Saturday snippets: 16th of February 2019

By | Category: Travel news

Perhaps the most eventful image of the week was that of the Corendon Village Hotel just outside Amsterdam with a Boeing 747 standing outside it. It arrived there last Sunday to be converted into 5D-experience about the 747 and the history of aviation. A fortnight or so ago, Just about Travel mentioned that the plane was being hauled to the hotel but the reason for the second mention is the image that accompanied the press release. You see few if any that makes you look and say, “Now that’s different!” The plane will be open to visitors later in the year.

What do you do with an old jumbo jet?

The Caribbean island of Grenada saw total visitor arrivals (528,077) up by 12.9% in 2018 compared to the previous year. Most are due to cruise ships anchoring for a day rather than actual holidays there in resorts year-on-year. Stayover arrivals were just 160,970 but that is still an increase of almost 10%. Grenada is best known as the “Spice Island of the Caribbean” for its cinnamon and nutmeg production, The “Pure Grenada” experience beckons visitors to its 40 white sandy beaches such as Grand Anse Beach, 15 waterfalls, 4 chocolate factories, 3 rum distilleries and more than 30 dive sites, including the largest shipwreck in the Caribbean ‘Bianca C’ and the World’s First Underwater Sculpture Park.

Another Caribbean island also saw an increase in visitors last year. St Maarten (if you are on the Dutch side and St Martin on the French) may not be on every British holidaymaker’s radar but as a popular Caribbean cruise port it attracts more cruise passengers than many other destinations. Last year 489 cruise ships stopped off bringing 1,597,101 passengers, an increase of almost 30% over 2017. St. Maarten claims to be the smallest island (just 37 square miles) in the world to be shared by two nations –the Netherlands and France – which, the tourist board says, “creates a destination with European charm and Caribbean flair.” But it does have a separate beach for each and every one of those square miles. It got hit by Hurricane Irma in 2017 but has largely recovered and welcomes visitors again.

In the Indian Ocean, the Maldives says that there was a 10.2% year-on-year increase in the total number of UK visitor arrivals in 2018. In total, 114,602 UK tourists visited in 2018 compared with 103,977 in 2017. December alone saw 10,784 UK tourist arrivals in the Maldives, representing an increase of 11% when compared to the same month in 2017 when 9,717 UK travellers arrived in the Maldives. The UK represents the second largest European inbound market for tourism to the Maldives and the third largest globally, with holidaymakers from the UK counting for 7.7% of total arrivals to the Maldives in 2018. Overall, 1.48 million international tourists visited the country last year representing a 6.8% year-on-year increase. In 2019, the Maldives will also celebrate the opening of CROSSROADS, a combined leisure and entertainment project that will span across nine islands and will become the largest integrated resort in the Indian Ocean.

aerial image of Maldives
Looking down on the Maldives where more Britons are deciding to visit © Ayada Maldives

Another island nation, this time the Philippines had 7,127,168 foreign visitors in 2018. This year it estimates that 8.2 million overseas visitors will travel to the country. But will it succeed after the closure of the country’s flagship destination – Boracay Island? It thin ks so claiming that the problems of tourism pollution at Boracay have inspired local communities to make their destinations cleaner and more sustainable. Now the government is trying to – in their words – “rehabilitate Manila Bay.” The Environment Secretary, Roy Cimatu, called it a “magnified cesspool.” A massive clean-up operation has begun.

In India, four new museums have opened at the Red Fort Complex in Delhi. Situated in four barracks of Red Fort, the museum at Barrack 1 is all about First War of Indian Independence 1857 while the other museum at Barrack 2 contains specimens and information on the Jallianwala Bagh massacre. A third museum at Barrack 3 covers history and life of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose and the INA movement, while Barrack 4 is a collaboration with ASI Delhi Art Gallery on contemporary paintings. The entire complex of museums will be known as ‘Kranti Mandir’

A decade or so ago, Ryanair would be the last airline you would think would introduce a frequent flyer scheme. Times change and the airline has decided it needs one. But unlike other airlines where you can join at no cost, Ryanair is going to charge €199. What do you get for your money? Free standard seat selection, fast-track airport access, priority boarding and a 10kg checked baggage allowance. If you fly more than seven times a year it would be worth it. Fly less than that and the airline will be making money out of you! The airline is forecasting 100,000 members in a year. The airline has introduced a 48-hour grace period to change bookings and it says that it will process flight delay and cancellation compensation claims within 10 days.

Another airline updating care is British Airways. There is a new section on its website, the idea that it will speed up response times. Passengers can manage their bookings, re-book, apply for refunds, and change their flights using the section. It also helps passengers request special assistance, claim compensation, locate their bags or apply for reimbursement if they’ve paid extra to reserve special meals or seating. Th3e new section puts passengers directly in contact with relevant department, rather than the general customer relations team so you should get passed from pillar to post.
British Airways is 100 on August 25th. But that hasn’t stopped the airline celebrating or publicising itself already. First to happen was a new advertising campaign called Made by Britain. Described by the airline as a ‘love letter to features stars such as actor Olivia Coleman, boxer Anthony Joshua, singer Paloma Faith, artist Grayson Perry and astronaut Helen Sharman, who each describe what they love about Britain. It’s BA’s biggest brand marketing campaign since the 2012 Olympics so you’ll see a lot of it aound.

From next Tuesday, (February 19th) contactless bank cards, mobile devices and Oyster cards will all be accepted on the Heathrow Express. It comes after the introduction of ticket barriers at Heathrow and on Platforms 6&7 at London Paddington. Children aged 15 and under travel free on Heathrow Express using their Zip Oyster card. Using contactless payment or Oyster costs the same as a Peak or Off-Peak Express Single, depending on the time of travel and is not included in daily or weekly fare capping. Apparently, half of all tube and rail pay-as-you- go journeys are now regularly made using contactless payment because it is so quick and easy.

96% or passengers travelling on the Heathrow Express were satisfied according tot he survey. It was the top performing rail company.

Finally I should tell you that I am off to visit the area of Tunisia that leads you into the Sahara courtesy of the Tunisian National Tourist Authority. Next Saturday’s snippets will be given over to the visit and there will be stories running from Tuesday to Friday about the places I visit.

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