Brum fly with me: easyJet takes off from Birmingham, museum visits are down but magnets still attract
Chalkmarks: Madeira, Portugal, December 2023

Good afternoon. This is what happened in the world of travel this week: Friday 22nd March 2024

IYKYK – and that means, if you know you know. Well, we didn’t know, and that’s why we have arrived in Montreal when it’s -11C with snow on the way. As they say in French: Ce n’est pas bon! It’s March… so we didn’t check! And that is why research is soooo vital when it comes to travel. It can’t always be beaches and martinis. Noooo, sometimes it’s hat, scarf, gloves and a big coat… and lots of layers. This is real life. We’re in one of Canada’s most exciting cities and their first weekend of spring has been hit by a bone-chilling cold snap that’s set to last all month. They had a warm winter and now it’s looking like a freezing spring. Please if anyone could send some thermals we’d be vgrateful – we’re into maple-leaf red at the moment. Here’s this week’s travel headlines to warm us up. 

True blue!

Your flight will be leaving from Birmingham: Guys this week easyJet announced it will be based at Birmingham Airport. Yes, it’s already based at Stansted and so the West Midlands base means passengers won’t have to travel down sarf to nip over to Tenerife or Malta. Actually they did already fly from Brum but now they will have three planes based there which will open up 16 new routes this summer. 

Go nuts: Fancy a trip to Antalya, Turkey, Kos, Greece or, Sharm el Sheikh in Egypt – now you can fly from the UK’s second city. Yes please! easyJet boss Johan Lundgren said Birmingham had “much untapped potential” adding “it does give consumers a great opportunity to travel in a way that is not only for rich and privileged people. Our average fares across the network still sell for only £50.” It’s on Sky News.

The numbers are in: It’s not back to business in the museum and galleries game when it comes to visitor numbers. They’re still below pre-pandemic levels and not predicted to reach the heights of 2019 until the end of 2025! The Association of Leading Visitor Attractions (AVLA) reported there were 146.6 million visits to museums and the like in 2023, down from 163.9 million in 2019. AVLA boss Bernard Donoghue said it’s cos’ some remain “out of the habit” and were still anxious. Although Chalkmarks thinks it could do with high entrance and travel prices. Remember though the British Museum and Tate Modern are freebies!

Loving it: The British Museum was the most popular tourist attraction in the UK last year with 5.8 million visitors. This was followed by the Natural History Museum, with 5.7 million and then Windsor Great Park, Berkshire, with 5.5 million visits. In Scotland, Edinburgh’s National Museum of Scotland was favourite clocking up 2.2 million visits. In Wales St Fagans National Museum of History in Cardiff came out top with 600,000 visits. And in Northern Ireland, Titanic Belfast saw 800,000 visitors. The Guardian has the story.

Have you seen our pictures: Our fantastic travel photos, which capture some of our favourite destinations around the world, are now available for sale on Alamy. Woohoo!

Action packed: Known as the sunniest region Down Under, Western Australia is blessed with natural treasures. There’s the Outback, 7,800 miles of Coral Coastline and beaches, the world’s largest fringing reef, and one of the planet’s oldest wildernesses in the Kimberley region. It has an award-winning wine region, Margaret River, natural pink lakes plus kangaroos on the beaches and the friendly quokka. If all that wasn’t enough, Australia’s First Nations people are the oldest surviving culture in the world with a history that goes back 50,000 years. More here

Italy, yes please! How about slowing down in Sardinia or nibbling bite-sized treats on a city break to Bologna. Or Sicily? This is the largest island in the Mediterranean and the biggest region in Italy. It’s home to many of Europe’s volcanoes – Etna being the biggest, Vulcano the stinkiest and Stromboli one of the most active on earth. The Valley of the Temples is older than the Acropolis in Athens. The Aeolian islands are outrageously stunning but so few tourists make it there. And if all this is not enough, Palermo has the best pizza on the planet and in Catania they eat ice (granita) for breakfast. Irresistible! Watch this to find out where to start.

Magnet news: Buying fridge magnets on holiday is good for us. It helps our memory and triggers positive responses. Stay with us… if you can believe it, scientists were involved with this one. They asked people about their fridge magnet collections. It turns out there are lovers and haters. A man who clearly did not want to be named said: “Now I don’t tend to take a picture of anything… I’ll just get a fridge magnet at the end, and I can remember it all from that.” The science went on, people admitted they were reminded of a holiday when they opened the fridge door or when a magnet fell off. Others were snobs, and said they thought fridge magnets ruined the look of their kitchens. The unnamed team of scientists at the University of Liverpool said: “Central to our analysis has been a conceptualisation of fridge magnets as potentially powerful performative objects which can both enchant and disrupt the home long after the holiday is over.” Can someone translate? The Daily Mail says it means they’re not tat!

This time last year: Keep calm and carry on travelling: Britons are booking holidays in record numbers despite the cost-of-living crisis! Flight prices looked set to rise by 15 per due to record holiday bookings … This would add around £25 to the price of a plane ticket … Ryanair boss Michael O’Leary warned that huge demand and few seats on sale, was keeping prices high … The front pages told us the passport people were going on strike … Having been splashed across the front pages of The TimesDaily Mail and the Daily Star, holidaymakers panicked causing a surge of passport applications, resulting in an early backlog … Elsewhere, Britain was boring (and cold and windy) and most of us want to get away and warm up … According to an Abta poll marking the one-year anniversary since all UK travel rules were lifted, 65 per cent of us are planning an overseas trip – 16 per cent up on 2022 … Holiday-hungry Britons were heading to cities and Rome was the favourite … There was also a trend of bookings to Krakow, Poland and Budapest, Hungary – as well as to Paris and Athens.

In case you don’t follow us on social media you really should. Here we are, here too and over here. Say hola muchacha! 

Everyone’s talking about it… travel!

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