Article Archive for June 2010
Last Summer all those holiday destinations where they had the euro didn’t do quite as well as they expected. Because the pound was weak against it, we chose areas with different currencies that had not declined as much or where we felt we got better value for money. Turkey and Egypt spring to mind.
Ireland suffered despite a campaign last May/June to get us there. !5% fewer Brits went there last year and since 50% of tourists to Ireland come from the UK it is a vital market to them. Now that the pound has strengthened against the euro will we be more likely to visit Ireland again?
About as far removed from the story earlier this week about the four short listed museums who are vying for the £100,000 Art Fund prize comes a lowlier idea for a museum.
In the Surrey village of Leigh, the parish council has paid £1 to buy the red, traditional telephone box that is on the green. According to the Leatherhead Advertiser, it appears the locals bought the kiosk and then decided what to do with it. The idea is now to turn it into a mini-museum. The Leigh History Group is considering what should go into their mini but shelving has already been agreed to better display the contents.
Is this anything more than a gimmick? Isn’t it really just the preservation of a telephone box?
£100 for a long weekend (four days) away? Yes, it is possible! We found a basic (but extremely clean) campsite just outside Bristol, which only cost £15 for three nights. After pitching the tent, we went for a quick walk in the surrounding woodland, before bed. The next day (Saturday) we set off for the [...]
Scotland’s Guerrilla Marketing
In The Scotsman this morning, there is an exclusive interview with the new Chairman of Visit Scotland, Mike Cantlay. In it, he announces that there is a £5 budget to attract visitors to Scotland during the rest of the year. Of this money, £2 million is being spent targeting the rest of us living in the UK who are leaving holidays to the last minute and encouraging us to visit Scotland. In the next two weeks, this campaign will hit. Cantlay calls catching people late in the booking period guerrilla marketing. Whatever it is called it worked quite well as Ireland found last year when it left a lot of its promotion to the May/June/July period.
The recession, an exchange rate which make England look cheap to the rest of Europe and a rise in unemployment is leaving most of the country wondering whether they can even afford a holiday in 2010. I am one of those people and add a dog to the equation (with kennels costing from £14/night!) and [...]
Today marks the official opening of the 11 day Hay Festival. Set in rural Powys, Hay-on-Wye has a population of about 1,500-2,000 (depending on who you ask) yet attracts half a million tourist a year. A fifth of all visitors come just for the Hay Festival, one of the biggest literary festivals in the world. This 39 bookshop town has a pretty Welsh tourist appeal, even having a ruined castle but it is two manufactured events that draw tourists, the bookshops and the festival.
But is the Hay Festival a literary festival anymore?
Greece has been at the centre of the recent concern about reducing government spending and/or increasing taxes. It has led to demonstrations in Athens and now it seems it is having a wider impact. It may be discouraging us from taking our holidays there. According to Der Spiegel, the German news organisation, which ran an article from Crete this week, one hotel has only just opened for the season despite that fact that the holiday season has already begun. Another said that only 50% of the rooms had been booked for the Summer.
Der Spiegel says that 300,000 fewer Germans will visit Greece this year because of the press impact of the stories about Greece. 400 hotels are up for sale including 48 on Rhodes and 44 on Crete.
So what about us? What will our reaction be? Are you dissuaded from going to Greece because of the issues there?
What do you consider when you decide which is your favourite museum? Ease of access? The ability to see the exhibitions clearly? To be able to interact with the exhibits? The friendliness of the staff? You can get to it easily? It’s open when you are able to go? It appeals to something that you’re fascinated with? The architecture attracts? It’s local to your community? Or maybe it has a good cafe and because you drop by for a coffee you spend some time looking at what is has. Is it one painting/exhibit that draws you back time-after-time? Could it boil down to the fact that there is more to see than at other places?
In truth, there can be any number of reasons as to what “favourite” means. Does it matter? It does when the Art Fund Prize worth £100,000 is at stake.
Let’s start with the good news.
It could be that the Icelandic volcano which has caused so much grief to air travellers over the last 2 months has stopped erupting. Experts say that the volcano has gone quiet. It would be nice if it was quiet for the next 100 years.
Just after I left the largest US trade travel conference, the US Department of Homeland Security announced that it hoped that the I-94 green/white forms that visitors have to fill in would be done away with by the end of the Summer. This means that you will only have to complete the ESTA requirements online.
This is the name given to an area just south of Boston in the USA. The name meant nothing to me but then neither did one of the other names, Quincy County. But if I had been told that this included Plymouth Rock where the Pilgrim fathers landed in 1620, and Nantucket where the US whaling industry was once based then I might have realised just how important, historically, this region is. The subheading for the area, “Where American Begins” probably reflects the area better.
As Boston has direct flights to Dublin and London it is easy to tag a few days onto a Boston trip and spend a weekend exploring this area to the south. As to what to see, here are just a few suggestions.
Where is it?
It was described to me so. This is the place where not too Brits or Irish go yet. It’s where California was 25 years ago. This is where you go to see America as it was. Very neighbourly. A place to explore at your own pace. It has deserts and year round snow-topped mountains where can ski 12 months of the year at the high levels, 363 miles of world class beaches and untouched wilderness. Golfing, fishing and skiing, rafting and biking are just some of the pastimes and sports to be enjoyed. More than anything it’s the outdoors that is to be enjoyed and marvelled at.
Oregon is the United States in a microcosm
On holiday one of the things that many people like to do is shop. Airports have almost become retailers as well as places to catch flights and when we get to our destinations, there are shops to galore to pander to our whims. In some places it hardly seems as though you are abroad since the names often seem the same. There’s another Gucci, another Yves St Laurent,, another Hugo Boss.
Why go if you can already find it close to where you live. Otherwise the only reason is because it might be cheaper than back home.
So what might appeal would be something different. How about combining shopping and the opportunity to sightsee?
In Miami in Florida there is something called Bayside.
The mid-west of America is the place that is most associated with farm crops. Here, vast soybean and corn fields cover the land. Here agriculture is the staple employment and the staple comment of conversation. But down in a triangle stretching from Chicago to the Quad Cities on the Illinois/Iowa borders, then down to Champaign and back up to Chicago there is another topic of conversation,-tourism. But tourism with a slight difference This is agri-tourism. Tourism for those people interested in farming, how crops are grown, how the land is managed and how and what machinery is used.
Did you know such tourism existed? Here’s a holiday with limited appeal.
Still one of the most popular destinations for visitors from our countries, there are certain sites that appear on almost everyone’s must do lists such as seeing the Empire State Building, Time Square and the Statue of Liberty. Today, New York City is the most popular US destination for visitors. Last year nearly 46 million people came and this year they are hoping for 50 million. Already, in the first three months of the year, 10.6 million of us went there and that is during the winter period! With so many people visiting (there are 87,000 hotel rooms alone for those who stay overnight) and with restrictions on numbers visiting certain sites, you do need to plan what you might do.
According to TripAdvisor, New Orleans provides the best nightlife anywhere in the world. We’ve all heard of the Mardi Gras but there are lots of other events that take place in New Orleans most of them free. The rest of the world must think the same because there are more restaurants than they were before Hurricane Katrina hit. The number of beds booked per night is high with nearly 75% of them taken all the time.
One of the best events takes place nearly every night of the year. Along Bourbon Street and the side streets, amateur musicians, some better than professionals, will entertain you. As the evening wears on the music gets better. Or maybe that’s related to the amount of alcohol and the adrenalin that the music gives you.
Minneapolis-St Paul isn’t one of the most visited places by us yet it has one of the best airline connections we have. North-West Airlines, now Delta has a daily service into the main airport. Such is its efficiency it has long been my favourite US airport as I once managed to take only 3 minutes to get from the queue at immigration down to where I had to wait for the shuttle bus to take me to my hotel. I’m not alone as it has been voted the best airport in the US and the 3rd best in the world. Still you don’t go to Minneapolis-St Paul to visit the airport.
You go there to visit the Mall of America, the largest shopping complex in the US which even has a bit of its own Disneyland in the middle. And in this state, Minnesota, there is no sales tax on clothing and shoes. By the light railway system, (called Hiawatha) it is only 10 minutes from the airport so there is an opportunity to nip out if you are changing planes there. And it takes 25 minutes into the heart of the cities. All by public transport so no expensive taxis are needed like some other cities.
Remember the Route 66 competition that the Chicago and Illinois Tourist Office announced about a week ago? If you haven’t entered yet, then hurry because the first part ends this weekend. The prize is a 3 day trip to Chicago for 2 people and a hire car so you can explore some of Route 66. The website to go to, in case you’ve forgotten is www.chicagoroute66ambassador.co.uk.
Those people in Illinois, the state in which Chicago is, are working hard to persuade us to visit them. From the May bank holiday weekend for about a month , they will have taxis in Manchester emblazoned with their publicity. On a particular day each week, catch the right taxi, and your fare will be free. How do you know which day and which taxi? You don’t. It might be the same day each week but it needn’t be. It won’t be the same taxi so its no point taking the number plate. That’s as much as I could find out for you.
Yosemite is one of the great names of the USA. Just about everybody has heard of this Californian national park to be found to the east of San Francisco. It’s all accessible to the visitor if you go here for the day. If you plan to stay overnight then there are just about 1,200 rooms and maybe the same again for camping areas. 4 million visitors come every year to visit but most just go to a small part, the valley which is just 1 mile wide and seven miles long. the visitor is missing a lot of the best bits.
So if you are intrigued by Yosemite, try some of these suggestions to avoid the crowds. See the valley by all means. But don’t think you’ve seen it all. Go up into the High Country where you can get up to 8,000 foot above sea level. Hiking up here is a world away from the valley. In Winter, Tiger Pass can get between 10 and 20 foot of snow. From June onwards the roads are cleared and you can walk for miles and see hardly anyone.
Almost equidistant from both Los Angeles and San Francisco in California and about 3 hours drive is Fresno. It’s one of those places that sounds familiar and then when you try and think about what it means to you you’rs stumped. Maybe it’s because you have only heard the name in westerns or from TV programmes.