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I must admit I’ve always wondered what the point was of paying to visit the Isles of Scilly. It’s basically Cornwall but smaller, right?
Because of the islands position further South than the UK they enjoy generally better weather and when I paid a visit on a mid-October day the skies were blue and the temperature so balmy I spent the whole time carrying my coat.
On a one day trip, it seemed best to take the helicopter from Penzance which, although more expensive than the other transport options available (the Scillonian ferry or plane), took a mere 20 minutes each way. It’s such a shame the future of this particular link is so uncertain owing to the potential purchase of the heliport land by a supermarket chain as the journey was truly fabulous, allowing a bird’s eye views of the coast of Cornwall and the islands including stand out landmarks like the Minack Theatre, Land’s End and some of the standing stone circles viewed from an entirely new vantage point. Two tips if there ever is a chance to do this in future – take a map so you can follow the coastline and it’s worth investing in some earplugs!
We went for a wander around the garrison before heading over to Porthloo for lunch at the wonderful Juliet’s Garden, where the stepped outside balcony offers sweeping views of the main harbours and beaches of St Mary’s. The scampi special brought the biggest bites of fresh fish we’d ever seen and we washed it down with some lovely local Polgoon Aval raspberry sparkling ‘champagne’ cider. It wouldn’t have been nicer in the South of France.
It’s difficult to quantify just what it is about the Scillies that make it so special. It certainly helped that we had a gorgeous day but you get the impression this would be a wonderful place for a longer break – with plenty to keep you occupied round some serious reading, eating and lounging. There wasn’t time in just one day to visit the other islands, owing to the tides, and delights such as wreck diving also beckoned to bring us back for more.
Holidays, the Olympics and I
Working for a travel client, the year ahead poses an interesting proposition. The last few years have been a dogged battle with the inevitable effects of recession, global crises and - lest we forget - volcanic ash clouds. However, despite this people still view holidays as a key part of their lives. A recent Travelex survey reports that “An overwhelming 98.8%” are looking to holiday abroad this summer (http://www.travelex.co.uk/press/ENG/doc-travelex-reveals-british-staycation-a-myth.asp). 98.8%, leaving just 1.2% home for the Olympics.
This number seems a bit excessive, but what it reveals is that contrary to common sense and despite the global/local economic issues we face, the travel industry still thrives. This is to the extent that the United Nations World Tourist Organization is in fact predicting international tourist arrivals to actually grow this year, off the back of an increase of four per cent in 2011. (http://mkt.unwto.org/en/barometer)
So what does this mean for the travel industry, particularly the UK travel industry? If you have seen the recent adverts on the TV and online starring Stephen Fry, Ron from Harry Potter and other family favourites, you will realise there is a big push for the ‘Staycation’ – holidaying at home. Converse to the recent Travelex release, Google anticipates around 9% of Brits would be looking to holiday in the UK with the main aim of escaping the ‘Olympic fever’. The Highlands and Cornwall are the top destinations, as far away from the capital as this island will allow. Interstingly the Google whitepaper (https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B2-cf-mW11FXYU05dklHaWxUT1NMUjRFMUZPcTRFdw/edit) also suggests that of those staying in London for the games, 47% will be planning to visit venues outside of London.
And while all this is being printed, Virgin and government emails are being leaked anticipating utter ‘gridlock’ at UK airports.
So on one hand we have the Mass British exodus this summer, and on the other we have the Staycaters, the rising incoming tourism and the Great British summer. Who really can anticipate what happens this summer? We can only go by the data and react to the trends of the moment. Google and Travelex’s insight is useful and can help direct marketing plans, but shouldn’t dictate and consume your motives.
The A-Z of 2012
My 2012 resolution is to just switch off the television set and go out and do something less boring instead. But where to go? Too many weekends have been lost to indecision. So I took inspiration from the A-Z and drew up some rules.
- In January, visit a place or attraction beginning with A and B
- February C and D
- Take a minimum of two trips per month
- UVW in November and XYZ in December
- Only visit places I have not seen before as an adult
- Only within a few hours of London
- Must be able to get there and back within a day or two
- Oh, and try and take some pictures, yeah?