Article Archive for November 2010
This isn’t really a moan. It comes under the category of “just one of those days…” It’s more about how the fates can conspire against you. It seems that there is some mysterious law that says there are days when, if one thing goes wrong, lots of others will as well. And yesterday was one of those.
I was flying to Dublin to hear what Tourism Ireland (see yesterday’s story) was planning for the next few years. From Gatwick, I was travelling on Aer Lingus but first I had to get to the airport for the 6.50 am flight. My problems began before I even got to the airport.
Earlier today, Tourism Ireland held the first of a number of briefing sessions to tell the Irish travel market what it planned to do over the next few years. Top of the list is to encourage more Britons to holiday in Ireland. Britons make up 50% of all visitors and 40% of all the tourism revenue to the island of Ireland but in 2009 a lot of us stayed away.
In survey after survey, one of the reasons given for visiting a place is the shopping. We have weekend shopping trips to places as far away as Dubai. Coach companies do day trips to places like the Metrocentre in Gateshead. Outlet stores form retail parks such as in Bicester or outside Chester. Even when people spend a two week sun filled beach holiday in Spain, shopping is one of the things people indulge in.
So it was with some interest that I heard most of the debate in parliament on Wednesday on the future of independent retail. Tourism is integral with shopping. Good shops attract us to them. But did I hear much about tourism? Despite the fact that many MP’s were from areas that attract tourists, the answer was no.
For the last four years, Historic Scotland has opened its doors, free of charge, to some of its properties in celebration of St Andrew’s Day. This year it has trumped itself by extending the free opening to cover four days starting tomorrow and ending on the day itself.
From 9.30am, you’ll be able to enter one or as many as you can manage of 48 heritage sites throughout the country.
All the guide books, all the travel articles tell you about the historic part of US cities. And, in fairness, to other world cities as well. What of the other parts? Isn’t there history there as well? They can’t all have been built yesterday. And even if they weren’t, isn’t yesterday history?
It’s one of those little things in tourism that is beginning to annoy me. Why is one part of a place designated a historic district and another isn’t?
Sad to relate, but in boring company with the rest of life at the moment, we can expect to pay higher prices for travel insurance soon. You can bet your bottom dollar that by the time the busy summer booking season begins in January, insurance companies will have raised their prices quite a bit. It isn’t helped by the fact that VAT will rise from 17.5% to 20% in January so that will automatically cause an increase.
AXA has forecast increases in excess of 10% but hasn’t said how much. Brokers are talking of sharp rises, whatever that means.
Why should increases be so “sharp?”
I’m just about to leave Chicago to go to the airport to fly back to the UK. This is the busiest day of the year to fly in the U.S. with 1.8 million people expected to fly in and out of Chicago over the next few days. There is some bad weather around which might delay flights but the main talking point is whether the opt-out of the body scanning will take place. These scanners are probably coming to the UK. Will our attitude mirror what is happening in the US?
I like a bit of fresh air. So some hotel rooms and I don’t get on very well. Either the windows are double glazed and impossible to open or open just an inch or so, in the belief that fresh air can seep through this small crack and it is sufficient to completely refresh a room. And sometimes, the window frames are covered in 30 different coats of paint which stretch back to the dark ages making it impossible to open the windows without recourse to a hammer and chisel.
London will have no tourist board from April 2011. Visit London will be no more. And nothing to replace it.
From “Meetings and Incentives Travel”, a trade magazine came this story as it says it has seen a letter written by Visit London’s chief executive, Sally Chatterjee, saying it may cease to exist.
Because “someone” forgot about London. It’s funny enough to make you cry. All these expensively paid people; all those “experts” and nobody spotted it.
About a month ago, National Geographic named two places in the UK, the Moray Firth coastline in Scotland and Pembrokeshire in Wales as two of only 18 coastlines in the world that were top-rated. Top-rated means that 340 experts rated the areas in terms of the environment, the way that historical sites were maintained and how development was managed and voted accordingly.
The Scotsman newspaper ran the story only last week but it was the reaction of its readers that I found interesting.
No I am not taking the Michael, but how many people would link the exotic allure of Samarkand and Macclesfield? Yet there is a strong link between the two which has been reinforced by the admission of the town into the UNWTO (United Nations World Tourism Organisation) Silk Road Programme. For all of you outside the north west who don’t know, Macclesfield was the centre of the silk industry in the UK (even the local football team is known as the silkmen) and is home to the Silk Heritage Foundation. With 4 museums and linked shops, this heritage is important to the growth of the town. Just as it was to Samarkand, today in modern day Uzbekistan.
Here I am staying in another hotel and yes, I have something to moan about again. Readers might think every hotel I stay at gets a knock but you’re wrong. Most are fine and provide the obligatory bed, shower and toilet that function properly. Get those three right and I’m as happy as Larry. But occasionally, hotel designers try to be clever and make life for the traveller just a little bit awkward or uncomfortable. It’s not earth shatteringly important and the world won’t come to a grinding halt because of it but comment needs to be made.
And this time its toilets.
Or, to be more precise, the location of the toilet roll holder in relationship to the toilet.
This was the message that Texas has been trying to get across to Britons for some time. And now it seems to be paying off because last year, for the first time, Britons were the largest international visitors to the state beating the Germans into second place. There I knew a few of you would that like that last phrase. By the time 2010 ends as many as 145,000 of us will have visited the lone star state.
So how has Texas bucked (sorry, a cowboy word just crept in there!) the trend and persuaded us to go there when overall visits to the US have been down and our favourite destination, Florida, has been hit more than many?
That as the name given by Michael Palin to one of his Ripping Yarns from decades ago. This was after his Python days but before he began travelling around the world in those successful TV series that seemed to occur every year. I was reminded of it when I heard about the Wenger Patagonian Expedition Race taking place next February in Chile. Going up or even across the Amazon seems a doddle in comparison with what is in store for the competitors
A few weeks after the Metro ski show in London, there has been good snow fall in the last week or so with many resorts open for business albeit some on a limited scale. Obergurgl in Austria opened on the 18th and Kitzbuhel opens today for weekend skiing. Tignes is the only French resort open but 3 days of snow is forecast. Zeramtt and Saas Fee in Switzerland have great skiing conditions we are told. Andermatt, Verbier, Zinal and Davos should be open now. Italy has had good snowfalls with Passo Tonale, Cervinia and Val Senales open. Earlier than planned, Pas de le Casa opens this weekend in Andorra. Garmisch in Germany is open and most resorts in Sweden and Norway are along with most US and Canadian resorts. In Scotland, there is snow but winds caused Cairngorm to be closed earlier this week.
So if all is looking so good this early on, what is the outlook for the ski season?
This won’t come as news to any of you unless you’ve managed not to see TV, read a newspaper, look at the internet or talk to anyone in the last 36 hours. I’d almost be prepared to bet that lost tribes up the Amazon have heard about it. Whales are probably distributing the news via their low frequency sonar system to pods around the world so that even the animal kingdom knows. And talking of Wales, the first minister sent a brief and correct cordial message of congratulations to the happy couple.
Unlike Visit Scotland and Visit Britain which have decided this presents too good an opportunity not to trumpet the tourism potential of their areas.
This isn’t a British or an Irish day of action but an American one. A week today “they” are asking people who fly to refuse or opt-out of going through a body scanner. Wednesday next week is supposed to be the busiest day of the year as it is the day before US thanksgiving. So the hold-ups at security, if people request pat-down searches instead of the body scanners, could produce some lengthy queues.
That was one of the comments from the chairman of the National Showcaves Centre which won Best Attraction at the Swansea Bay Tourism Awards Last Week. He made the comment in an interview to the South Wales Evening Post.
What did he mean?
That, like detergent, the more people see adverts and stories about a destination or attraction the more chance of people going there.
Littlehampton has found a new way to attract tourists. Earlier this year, CD-Traveller (August 27th) went to Littlehampton for part of its Day Out series. One of the features we mentioned was a long bench that ran along the east beachfront. Made of wooden slats it had started to contain messages. We called it the postcard seat and suggested it might replace the postcard as a way of saying that they liked their seaside visit.
Now there’s another use. According to the Brighton Argus there is the first marriage proposal.