Sunday, 31 August 2014

Travel matters................

I envy people who can just look at a sunset. I wonder how you can shoot it. There is nothing more grotesque to me than a vacation. 
- Dustin Hoffman

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Heritage holidays in the park

IMAGINE being able to stay in a heritage cottage in one of the world's great parks. That’s what’s on offer with The Residences in Sydney’s Centennial Park.

Sydney's Centennial Park by popejon2 from Paddington, Australia via WikiMedia Commons


They are two Victorian-era cottages which have been restored and refurbished as boutique, self-contained short-stay accommodation experiences.

Kim Ellis, executive director of Sydney's Parklands and Botanic Gardens, said: ‘The restoration of these historic cottages was a key project in the Centennial Park Master Plan. 


As one of the world's great parks, we now have an iconic offering that will enhance and support the long-term sustainability of these vital public spaces for the whole community. 

Horse riders, Centennial Park, Sydney, Australia - by Sardaka  via Wikimedia Commons


With horse riding, bike hire, native flora and fauna, formal gardens and a vibrant range of community events on the doorstep, these are set to become a truly iconic short-stay experience.’


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Pets on screen for BA passengers

PAWS AND RELAX, a television service dedicated to furry animals, will be available for passengers on British Airways (BA) long haul flights this month (September), the Daily Telegraph reports.

A trailer for the channel shows cats and dogs being cuddled and stroked by members of BA’s cabin crew.

BA said it expects a schedule of specially-selected programmes to “enhance the wellbeing of customers”.

Richard D’Cruze, BA’s in-flight entertainment manager, said: ‘It might sound barking, but there’s lots of research to suggest that watching pets can enhance overall wellbeing. We have sniffed out some fantastic content that is cute, comforting and sure to appeal to travellers of all ages.’

Programmes include Simon’s Cat – a comic series of animated stories about a man and his cat; The Secret Life of Cats, the BBC documentary about cat cams, and America’s Cutest Dog, which BA describes as “adorable footage of dogs at play”.

Some of the shows’ stars are animals from Battersea Dogs & Cats Home in London that need re-housing.

Other options for passengers wanting to relax on a BA flight include the carrier’s version of Slow TV, which features unedited footage of a seven-hour train journey from Oslo to Bergen.


Go Holiday editor David Kernek comments: When BA talks about ‘enhancing the wellbeing of customers’ (or passengers as they were once known), it actually means it’s trying to get people to forget the fact that they’re in a metal tube travelling at 500 mph 35,000 feet up in sky.


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Passenger boom for Southampton Airport

SOUTHAMPTON AIRPORT has had its busiest July in seven years.

More than 192,350 passengers travelled through the airport in July, a 1.9% increase on July last year and the largest number since 2007.

The top five summer sun destinations from Southampton were Malaga, Alicante, Palma, Faro, and Bergerac. Flights to Guernsey also proved to be popular, with 5,000 more passengers flying there compared to July last year.

Jan Halliday, director of Marketing & Communications, said: ‘Passenger numbers this July have been similar to pre-recession levels.’

The airport is gearing up for a busy autumn, with new flights to Hamburg and additional services to Leeds Bradford and Aberdeen starting at the end of October.


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Saturday, 30 August 2014

A taste of Guernsey

THE Taste Guernsey Festival (September 3-9)  - 

will showcase the best of the Channel Island's produce in a week of dedicated gastronomic events: pop ups, food-themed walks, and demos from top chefs.



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Malta in focus

WITH news that Angelina Jolie has chosen Malta as the location for her forthcoming film with Brad Pitt, the spotlight is once again on this Mediterranean island, now a firm favourite with movie-makers. 

Saint Paul's Bay, Malta  via Wikimedia Commons 


The favourable tax rates might be one reason (the Malta Film Commission offer various incentives to attract overseas film-makers) but it's the architecture, scenery, beaches and historic sites that have secured its status as an ideal setting for blockbusters and top TV series.

Many of the films have used multiple settings across the island; including The Spy Who Loved Me, For Your Eyes Only and Casino Royale, but if you're looking for some recognizable locations, here's a film buff's guide on where to visit:
  • Valletta
Must-do: Visit the Lascaris War Rooms, used in the Malta Story (1953). This is the secret bunker where the defence of Malta and later the invasion of Sicily were managed. It has been faithfully restored using the original equipment. Admission and tour costs €10, open daily from 10 am-5pm.
  • Mdina
Mdina, Malta
via Wikimedia Commons
Once the capital of Malta and a settlement of Imperial Rome, the tiny walled city of Mdina is known as the Silent City and is made up of winding cobbled streets and mesmerizing views thanks to its strategic position on high ground. You'll find a mix of medieval and baroque architecture.

Films: Gladiator and The Count of Monte Cristo are two of the best-known films that have used this setting.

Must-do: Take a carriage-ride around the cobbled streets in a traditional karozzin, departing from the city gates which Game of Thrones fans will recognize. The tour costs €30 for one hour.



  • Mellieha
In the north west of the island, Mellieha's long beaches with shallow water make it popular with families. It's also home to many rare and protected species of wildlife, as well as Malta's only natural national park, Il-Majjistral Nature and History Park.

Films: Troy was filmed here.

Must-do: Those with families might like the Popeye Village. Built as the set of the 1980 film starring Robin Williams, it was later turned into a tourist attraction, complete with lido and play pool. Entrance costs around € 14 per person.
  • Vittoriosa
Vittoriosa (Birgu) one of the „Three cities“, Malta.
© Plamen Agov • studiolemontree.com
via Wikimedia Commons
Known as one of the Three Cities, together with Cospicua and Senglea, Vittoriosa is steeped in history, dating back to prehistoric times.

Films: The Da Vinci Code used Vittoriosa as well as other settings on the island.







You can fly to Malta from 16 UK departure airports with airlines including Air Malta, British Airways, easyJet, and Ryanair.


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Hello, I’m on the beach

DESPITE campaigns from the phone networks offering lower roaming charges to promote mobile holiday usage, data captured by travel search site momondo.co.uk suggests that many Brits can resist the temptation to post social media updates on their holiday.

Of 1,000 Brits questioned, 48% stated they don’t post status updates while away.

Spanish, Swedish, and Italian tourists are the most active social media users when away, with 65% of Spanish, 57% of Swedish and 66% of Italians stating they either post status updates and/or upload photos or videos when they are on holiday.


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More fly Norwegian

LOW-COST airline Norwegian carried approximately 2.5 million passengers in July 2014, an increase of 17 percent compared to the same month last year. 

This is the highest number of passengers Norwegian has carried in a single month.


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Friday, 29 August 2014

Coast along Sussex.....

Take a walk in Sussex................2014 sees the launch of a Coast & Country walking festival – jointly organized by Eastbourne Borough Council and Wealden District Council – with walking tours around the town, the South Downs and the Sussex Weald.

With two weekends of activities set for September 27/28 in Eastbourne and October 4/5 in Wealden, the festival will encourage visitors to take up walking as a way of staying healthy while at the same time enjoying the beauty of this part of Sussex.

www.sussexwalkingfestival.org.uk

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Island get-away

Isle of Eriska - the Eastern shore 
Mike and Kirsty Grundy  via Wikimedia Commons
TO mark the launch of its self-catering lodges, the five-star Isle of Eriska Hotel, Spa and Island – a two hour drive from Glasgow – has launched its Hilltop Spa Getaway. 

Isle of Eriska Hotel
Robert Brett via Wikimedia Commons
The three-night stay will cost £499 per person and include accommodation in the lodges, two hour-long spa session, and a dinner in the hotel's restaurant.

The Hilltop Reserves are stand-alone self-catering lodges secluded from the main hotel and the rest of the 300-acre island, which is at the mouth of Loch Creran on Scotland’s west coast.

Each have hot tubs, views across the sea, high speed Wi-Fi, an entertainment system, tile and wooden flooring, their own heating and water system, a luxury en-suite bedroom, and a state-of-the-art kitchen.

Guests are be able to make the most of the hotel’s indoor pool, sauna, steam room, Jacuzzi, driving range, indoor tennis courts, and 9-hole golf course.

It’s accessible by air from Oban, Glasgow, and Edinburgh - www.eriska-hotel.co.uk






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Airside Andy at Manchester Airport

SWISSPORT’S Aspire lounge in Manchester Airport Terminal 1 has been kitted out with the world’s first play-tech pods for young children.

Courtesy of a relationship with the children’s character Airside Andy, it is designed to keep children entertained during airside waiting times. The plan is to have the pods in airport lounges across Britain.

Peter Le Masurier, co-creator of Airside Andy said: ‘Gone are the days when we can simply occupy children with colouring books and I-Spy. Our play pods offer safe and educational engagement in the very latest tablet technology.’


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Lawrence’s war

AT this year’s D.H. Lawrence Festival (September 5-25) in Eastwood, Nottinghamshire, Lawrence's War examines the impact of WW1 on the writer’s life and work, and on the lives of those at home in Eastwood.


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Thursday, 28 August 2014

Travel matters …

When it's three o'clock in New York, it's still 1938 in London. – Bette Midler

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London leads in the boom for English attractions

VISITS to attractions in England increased by 5% in 2013 according to VisitEngland’s Annual Attractions Survey.

White Tower / Tower of London By Samspade79 via Wikimedia Commons

Regionally, tourism in London is booming as it tops the list with visits to attractions up by 8% in 2013, followed by the North-East (up 6%) and the East Midlands (up 5%), indicating the important role of England’s attractions in enticing people to explore England outside of London.

"City.of.london.St.pauls" -
via Wikimedia Commons



VisitEngland chief executive James Berresford said: ‘Attractions in England are core to England’s tourism offer and we are so fortunate to have such a wonderful and wide variety of indoor and outdoor attractions to suit all visitors. With a 5% increase in both visitor numbers and gross revenue for 2013, our attractions continue to contribute greatly to the visitor economy and show enormous potential for future growth. It’s clear that investment in the sector is key and the benefits are evident in the results for attractions continuously investing in both marketing and digital platforms.’

The Tower of London remains the most visited attraction in the paid for category with 2.9 million visits – an increase of 18.4% on last year – followed by St Paul's Cathedral with 2.1 million visits and Westminster Abbey with 1.8 million.

As seen in previous years, many of the most-visited paid-for attractions were part of England's rich history and heritage, such as Stonehenge, the Houses of Parliament and Big Ben, and Bath. But wildlife parks and gardens also performed well.



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TUI reports £28 million ‘green’ savings

TUI TRAVEL says it has saved £28 million in environmental efficiencies since the launch in 2012 of its Sustainable Holidays Plan, while significantly reducing the absolute and relative carbon emissions of its airlines.

Its Sustainable Holidays Plan is underpinned by 20 commitments that include the delivery of 10 million ‘greener and fairer’ holidays and to operate Europe’s most fuel-efficient airlines.

The company has additionally offset 1.2 million tonnes of carbon through investing in clean energy projects over the last five years; the equivalent to taking 500,000 cars off the road for a year.

Jane Ashton, director of Group Sustainable Development at TUI Travel says: ‘The measures TUI Travel has implemented are starting to bear fruit, creating substantial cost savings and a measurable reduction in CO2 emissions. We have been committed to providing more sustainable holidays for over a decade and will continue to do all we can to lead the travel industry and ensure sustainability is centre stage.’


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Shopping gets personal at Heathrow

HEATHROW has opened the world’s first airport personal shopping lounge.

Available for all passengers, irrespective of their class of travel, its staff speak a total of 38 languages and sell products from more than 400 outlets. It’s in Terminal 2.


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Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Travel matters …

"Ross Fountain in Edinburgh" by James F. -via Wikimedia Commons 
This is a city of shifting light, of changing skies, of sudden vistas. A city so beautiful it breaks the heart again and again. ― Alexander McCall Smith describing Edinburgh

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Coming up in Cumbria …

  • Westmorland County Show, September 11

It attracts 30,000 people and prides itself on being a major livestock show, with its heart firmly in agriculture. 

Sections include cattle, sheep, goats, horses, pigs, heavy horses, alpacas, dogs and poultry, plus marquees for The Women's Institute, Learning or Life, and Crafts from Cumbria.....www.westmorlandshow.co.uk

  • Taste Cumbria Food Festival, September 27-28

Workshops, courses, menu planning, kid's activities, tastings, and famous chefs sharing their secrets. 

The aim of the festival is to show Cumbria as a world-class food tourism destination.....www.tastecumbria.com


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PayPal option for Ryanair passengers

RYANAIR’S 86 million customers now have the option to book and pay for Ryanair flights using PayPal accounts.
Ryanair’s chief marketing officer, Kenny Jacobs, said: ‘Millions of European consumers use PayPal on a daily basis and as Europe’s biggest airline, Ryanair is pleased to launch our new partnership, offering our customers even more ways to book and pay.’

The booking and payment facility via PayPal is the latest in a series of what the airline calls “customer service improvements” in its “Always Getting Better” programme. These include allocated seating, a second free cabin bag, reduced fees, a new website and app, and mobile boarding passes.

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UK families lag behind in holiday intentions survey

A SURVEY of 1,800 people across Europe has revealed that fewer families in the UK will be going on holiday this summer compared to those in Italy, Spain, and Germany. 

In the UK, 17 percent of respondents said they would not be taking a summer break, compared to just six percent in Italy, 10 percent in Spain, 12 percent in Germany, and 16 percent in France. HomeAway say economic concerns play a key factor in families not planning a holiday.

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Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Travel matters …

The history of York is the history of England – King George VI

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Cruise ship ban in Venice

LARGE cruise ships will be banned from sailing into Venice’s city centre next year after the Italian government came to an agreement last week.

St Mark's Square, Venice By Peter Broster via Wikimedia Commons
Ships can currently pass within 1,000 feet of St Mark’s Square, but from next year vessels that are more than 96,000 tonnes will be banned from sailing in Saint Mark’s basin and the Giudecca Canal. Ships of more than 40,000 tonnes will also be limited to five a day.

Transport minister Maurizio Lupi said: ‘It seems to me to be a balanced solution which takes account of our duty to remove the skyscrapers of the sea from the canals of Venice, while safeguarding a world heritage city that is the envy of the world and protecting the city’s economy which is so linked to cruise tourism.’

More than 40 cruise ships from lines including Celebrity Cruises, Costa Cruises, MSC, Norwegian Cruise Line and Princess Cruises will be banned.

Larger ships will still be allowed to visit Venice from Marghera, where passengers would be transported on smaller vessels.


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Falklands;’ tourist numbers on the up

THE Falkland Islands are expected to see an 18.7% increase in tourists this year. Figures from the islands’ tourist board suggest that it expects 5,600 more visitors this year, reaching 59,000.

Port Stanley, Falkland Islands By Liam Quinn via Wikimedia Commons
The number of tourists from Britain is set to top 3,000, up 20% on last year. Tourism spend this year is expected to reach more than £9.1 million.
In the first quarter of the year, leisure arrivals increased by almost 25%, with UK numbers up 20% to 1, 220.


King Penguins, West Falkland 
By Ben Tubby via Wikimedia Commons
Tony Mason, managing director of the Falkland Islands Tourist Board said: ‘We have even more to offer since introducing the successful accommodation accreditation programme last year, which has raised the bar in the calibre of places to stay. The refurbished Jetty Visitor Centre is also proving a welcome pit-stop for cruise travellers.’

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Responsible tourism awards

INCLUDED on the long list for the World Responsible Tourism Awards 2014, sponsored by the Sultanate of Oman Ministry of Tourism, are organizations as diverse as the London Science Museum, the Cape Town Carnival, and British Airways, plus destinations such as Mexico, Arizona, Iceland and the Cotswolds in England.

The awards’ 200+ longlist is the first step towards deciding this year’s selection of the most exciting and enduring responsible holiday experiences in the world.

Including organizations longlisted for their approach to animal welfare, carbon reduction, accessibility and even beach tourism, the longlist offers a snapshot of some of the industry’s most pressing issues.



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Monday, 25 August 2014

Travel matters …

"London 360 from St Paul's Cathedral - Sept 2007" by Diliff - via Wikimedia Commons - 

If you're curious, London's an amazing place. – David Bailey


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Holiday hopes left in the dust Down Under

BRITS dreaming of their number one holiday spot have named Australia as the top place they’d like to visit. But research by my Travel Cash Prepaid MasterCard has revealed that 90 per cent of Brits don’t think they’ll ever make their dream holiday a reality.

Goomoolahra Falls, Australia by Rod LH - www.goldcoastinfo.net/photos/v/hinterland/. via Wikimedia Commons

Three quarters of those surveyed revealed that their dream destination was just too expensive, while a further 18 percent admitted that they couldn’t get enough time off work to go.


"Tasman Valley - Aoraki Mount Cook - Canterbury"
by David Briody from Edinburgh, Scotland - Wikimedia Commons
Dreaming of travelling far and wide, Brits also set their hearts on New Zealand (47%), Canada (42%) and The Maldives (31%) as other top destinations.

Myles Stephenson, CEO of my Travel Cash, said: ‘We wanted to get an insight into where people dream of travelling to. We discovered that nine out of 10 people don’t think they’ll ever make their dream trip, with time off and cost being the most prohibiting factors.

‘Contrary to popular belief, that dream destination might be more achievable than people think. Sterling is currently experiencing a five-year high against currencies including the US, Australian and Canadian dollars, meaning holiday money can stretch a lot further than people might think.’

Holiday envy was also revealed as a top trend, as one in two Brits admitted to feeling jealous of friends and family visiting their dream destination instead of them.

The top 10 destinations were:

  1. Australia
  2. New Zealand
  3. Canada
  4. The Maldives
  5. China
  6. USA
  7. Mauritius
  8. Iceland
  9. Brazil
  10. Peru
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What’s America’s best theme park?

USA TODAY reports that Six Flags Magic Mountain in Valencia, California, is the winner of its Best Theme Park contest.

Six Flags Magic Mountain By Jeff Turner from Santa Clarita, CA, United States via Wikimedia Commons

The park has 19 roller coasters, more than any other theme park on the planet, including world-record-holders, Full Throttle, Tatsu, X2 and Goliath.

Magic Mountain's sister park, Six Flags Great Adventure, located in Jackson, New Jersey, was the runner-up.

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1,000 jobs cut as Monarch closes East Midlands flights

MONARCH AIRLINES will cease flying from its base at East Midlands Airport by the end of April 2015. The airline will also cut 1,000 jobs as it restructures, effecting around a third of its present workforce.

Through a review of its network strategy, the airline says it is focusing on offering customers greater flight frequency and more sociable departure times to short-haul European destinations from its main UK bases. Its fleet will shrink from 42 to 30 aircraft.

The change is part of the next phase in Monarch’s transformation to become a scheduled European low-cost carrier.


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Sunday, 24 August 2014

Travel matters …

"Scott Monument Perspective" by George Gastin - Wikimedia Commons



I think Edinburgh is the most beautiful city in Europe. – John Betjeman






























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French beach bans selfies







FOLLOWING a spike in British holidaymakers ‘bragging’ abroad, mobile network Three has joined with a French beach authority to impose a ban on holidaymakers taking and sharing selfies, or braggies as they are also known.

The ban comes after research reveals one in three Brits now put bragging in their top five must-do activities when on holiday – with the beach being the most popular braggie backdrop.

The beach authorities have worked with mobile network Three to impose the ban on a section of the Garoupe beach following a significant rise in the number of British holidaymakers flooding social media with ‘holiday spam’

The two sections of the beach designated a No Braggies Zone will remain so for two weeks during the peak August holiday rush, creating a brag-free haven for those weary of seeing beachgoers spending their whole time on the sand taking shots of themselves.

A team of holiday spam police will patrol the sands to enforce the ban.

The phone network and the beach authorities are also making an example of celebrities deemed to be the worst offenders when it comes to holiday selfies, with outright bans for any famous faces whose holiday bragging tendencies have been well documented in the past – so that’s au revoir to the likes of Rihanna and Kim Kardashian, among others.

A spokesperson for the beach authority said: ‘The Garoupe beaches are among the most glamorous and pristine beaches in all of France. However, we want people to be able to enjoy our exclusive beach in the moment, not spending the majority of their time here uploading selfies and sunsets to brag to their friends and family back home.’


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New routes with Flybe, Jet

  • FLYBE has announced new flights to Amsterdam from Manchester and London City. The carrier will be taking on KLM and low-cost rivals with the new year-round routes, which will start this autumn.
  • JET2 and Jet2holidays have announced seven new destinations to its network for summer 2015. The airline will launch flights to Antalya (Turkey), Gran Canaria, Larnaca (Cyprus), Malta, Rome, Prague, and Zante (Greece) for the first time next year, adding 1.6 million seats.
Three airports will have four new routes each in summer next year, with Jet2 to operate Newcastle to Antalya, Larnaca, Malta and Zante. At Glasgow a sixth aircraft will be added and four new destinations in Prague, Antalya, Larnaca and Malta, with additional flights available to Murcia.

Its network will also be increased at Belfast International where a third aircraft based there will allow increased services to Malaga as well as new flights to Prague, Rome, Gran Canaria, and Zante.


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Busy July for Heathrow, Gatwick and Glasgow

HEATHROW and Gatwick airports say July this year as their busiest month ever as the summer get-away started. 

Air Traffic over Heathrow, England By Kierano (Own work) / Wikimedia Commons


Heathrow saw 6.97 million people use the airport last month, an increase of 0.5%, while Gatwick registered a 6% increase to 4.1 million.

In Scotland, Glasgow Airport reported its busiest July in six years with more than 840,000 passengers. These are up 1.1% year-on-year, lifted Commonwealth Games.

*Heathrow also revealed that Air China will double its services to Beijing from October.


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Saturday, 23 August 2014

Now that's funny...........

If you want the rainbow, you got to put up with the rain.

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Will ye no come back again?

Tourism in Scotland would survive a Yes vote in the country’s independence vote next month … and could even benefit from it, says Edinburgh-based travel writer Robin McKelvie

Edinburg Castle by Christian Bickel - Wikimedia Commons
SCOTLAND has faced many important dates throughout its tumultuous history, but there can scarcely have been any as important as September 18, 2014. This is the date when the country will decide in a democratic referendum whether it wants to fully run its own affairs again for the first time in more than 300 years. If it is a Yes vote, there will be ramifications for tourism. What are they and how serious might they be?

Once all the niggling and scaremongering – an unfortunate part of any divorce – surrounding the British Pound, EU membership and the UK’s national debt  dies away, the Scottish people will be left to decide on whether they want to run Scotland themselves again. The effects of independence would be immediate, as the fledgling independent nation would have to move quickly to clarify and establish a new set of relations with the rest of the world.

In tourist terms as a Scot and a travel writer, I have watched at close quarters  dozens of countries become independent. The first immediate effect I anticipate from those experiences is a massive bounce in tourism. This comes with the country being splashed across newspapers, magazines and TV bulletins around the world. Tourists have an innate desire to experience the new, and visiting what in essence would be Europe’s newest independent country would no doubt fire the imagination.

In more practical terms, scare stories have become part of the independence campaign with the No camp and associated media keen to stir up worries about border controls, currency issues and the like. In reality, most Western European countries generally find a way around such issues, agreeing pragmatics, as has happened with the border situation on the island of Ireland, where the frontier between the Republic and Ulster is fairly well managed.

Currency-wise, again I think pragmatism would triumph. Whether Scotland does become part of a ‘Sterling Zone’ in conjunction with the Bank of England (itself originally devised by a Scotsman!) or there is a looser currency pegged to sterling, or even a totally different currency, perhaps even the much-demonized euro, remains to be seen. However it pans out, big business will be pushing the politicians on both sides of the border to ensure as seamless an arrangement as possible, as both entities will be major trading partners with each other. Any practical solution here would then trickle down to iron out potential issues for tourists.

"Scottish Parliament" by gren - Wikimedia Commons


Moving away from the mooted negatives, there might actually be some benefits for tourists visiting Scotland. Given greater control, the Scottish Government would be in a better position to develop cross-border transport links such as the deeply unsatisfactory east coast road route, which is not even dual carriageway all the way to Edinburgh. The dualling of the A9 and A96 in Scotland might also be stepped up, with or without any European Union funds. Air transport might also improve, as the Scottish Government has already talked about a reduction in Air Passenger Duty – or even scrapping it – potentially signalling more flight connections and cheaper fares from England, Wales and Northern Ireland to Scotland.

Between now and 18th September the rhetoric and scaremongering from all sides will no doubt be stepped up. If Scotland does decide to go it alone, I would expect the post-referendum machinations from the Scottish side to be as canny and pragmatic as our reputation built across centuries at the administrative heart of the Union and British Empire. If this is matched by England, I see no reason for any major obstacles for tourism post independence. At the end of the day, people like to visit new, different places, so, surely, an independent Scotland would be an even stronger draw than before.

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Bright outlook for English tourism

RESULTS of the Great British Tourism Survey released by VisitEngland show that that 3.8 million domestic holiday trips were taken in England in April 2014, a ten percent increase on the same month in 2013, with tourism spend up five percent year-on-year.

The early months of 2014 were characterized by extremely wet weather which had a negative impact on figures. But a later, milder Easter had a positive effect on business, providing a welcome boost for tourism.

Looking ahead, more than 90 percent of businesses say they feel confident about the summer holidays, with more than 70 percent of accommodation providers reporting strong forward bookings for the rest of the school holiday period.


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Wanted: a cottage break for one!

GROWING numbers of holidaymakers are choosing solitary cottage stays this summer, according to statistics published by holiday lettings agency holidaycottages.co.uk.

It has seen a 15 percent increase in solo traveller bookings this August compared to the same time last year.

Holidaycottages.co.uk also says that overall bookings this August had increased by 16 percent year-on-year.

James Morris, managing director of holidaycottages.co.uk said: ‘With the rise in ‘mindfulness’ and digital detoxes as ways to combat the ever-increasing buzz and stress of everyday life, it should come as no surprise that growing numbers of people are seeking solitary cottage holidays where they can enjoy some peace and quiet on their own.’


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Friday, 22 August 2014

Travel matters …

It always amuses me that the biggest praise for my work comes for the imagination, while the truth is that there's not a single line in all my work that does not have a basis in reality. The problem is that Caribbean reality resembles the wildest imagination. – Gabriel Garcia Marquez

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Outlander guide puts Scotland on the map

TO coincide with the US network premiere of Outlander this month (August) fans of the bestselling books can follow in the footsteps of Jamie and Claire with an interactive VisitScotland map.

The online guide highlights real locations featured in Diana Gabaldon’s first two Outlander novels as well as visitor attractions and historical sites that have a strong connection to the books.

The map and accompanying travellers’ itinerary – accessible at visitscotland.com/outlander – form part of a wider VisitScotland marketing campaign entitled Scotland: The Land That Inspired Outlander.

A roofline view of the city of spires -The Royal Mile Edinburgh by Malcolm Morris - Wikimedia Commons

Among the locations featured on the map are the Palace of Holyrood House and the Royal Mile in Edinburgh, where protagonists Claire Randall and Jamie Fraser meet with Bonnie Prince Charlie; Urquhart Castle and Loch Ness, where the characters go in search of the loch’s most famous resident; and Fort William, which also plays a key role in Gabaldon’s novels.

The VisitScotland itinerary also features attractions such as Culloden Battlefield, the Highland Folk Museum at Newtonmore, and the Clava Cairns standing stones near Inverness, believed to be the inspiration for the fictional Craigh na Dun – the site where Claire is swept back in time.

Outlander follows the story of Claire Randall (played by Caitriona Balfe), an English combat nurse from 1945 who, while on her honeymoon in Inverness, is swept back in time to the 18th-century Scottish Highlands

Filming of the 16-part Sony Pictures Television series began last October, in locations including Glasgow, Perthshire, Fife, Edinburgh, and West Lothian.

A number of Outlander tours already operate in Scotland, with Edinburgh-based Rabbie’s Small Group Tours set to launch its Blazing the Jamie and Claire Trail in October.


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Vive le visitors!


Tour Eiffel at sunrise from the Trocadero" by Tristan Nitot - WikimediaCommons
France is the planet’s most visited country, according to statistics given to the World Tourism Organization by the French government.

The figures for 2013 show that France was the only country in the world to receive more than 80 million tourists last year. The total was 84.7 million, a two percent increase on the previous year, with the number of overnight stays rising even more rapidly, by more than four per cent.


Spain (60.7 million) regained the third place spot it lost to China (55.7million) in 2012. 

The UK was in eighth place, with a total of 31.2 million visitors.

The United States was the world’s second busiest nation last year in terms of tourist visits, with the official figure of 69.8 million.



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To do in the west …

Irish Dancers by © Matthew Trump - Wikimedia Commons 
Purbeck Folk Festival, Langton Maltravers, Swanage – August 21-24.  www.purbeckfolk.co.uk

Dartmouth Royal Regatta –August 23-30 – a week of races, events, and air displays.

Unexpected 2014 Festival, Exeter –August 29-31 – street theatre and circus shows.

The Apple & Cider Weekend, Dartington – September 27-28. www.dartington.org/shops


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