Recently in Destinations Category

Successful storytelling on Twitter? Read 'em and weep...

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I reproduce this series of travel tweets from Bus2Antarctica for two reasons.

One, they tell a good story.

Two, they work despite trashing a few Twitter orthodoxies - it's quick-fire first-person stuff without much engagement.

Storytelling, as you'll have guessed from the post title, is something I never thought Twitter was all that good at. But I followed this eagerly - and although it doesn't relate a very pleasant experience, the sense of camaraderie and relief in the final tweets makes it inspiring as a mini-travelogue.

All comes from an award-winning journalist (Andrew Evans) who is travelling to Antarctica by bus for National Geographic.

Bus2Antarctica tweet one

Bus2Antarctica tweet twoBus2Antarctica tweet threeBus2Antarctica tweet fourBus2Antarctica tweet fiveBus2Antarctica tweet six
Out in Namibia, tourism is among the factors influencing changes to the language of the Himba people, particularly their unusually low number of colour terms (they have five, while most major languages have 11).

The unlikely victim is psychology. Psychologists have done comparative studies of how Himba and non-Himba infants develop an understanding of colour, and drawn conclusions about how much language influences the way human beings think. As the differences are eroded, the scope for research diminishes.

Not something that belongs on the top of the industry's agenda, obviously, but an interesting nugget. I'm indebted to my girlfriend for it - she's off to Namibia do a study on the Himba in November.

Will Dubai's 'real' 3D advert wow St Pancras?

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Buzz about 'real' (i.e. no funny cardboard glasses) 3D displays has been ticking away in the consumer electronics industry for a good few years - Wired wrote about it back in 2006 - but we're about to see it adopted by a travel advertiser, namely Dubai.

The destination will be running 3D films, featuring dune-surfing and 'a couple enjoying a view from a balcony', at London's St Pancras station from September 15-28.

Below is a promotional video about the Philips 3DTV technology behind it. Bear in mind that you won't see the 3D effect, because your screen doesn't feature whatever a 'lenticular lens' is.

Problems? Well, as you can see above, the 'wow' factor completely disappears when you aren't watching first-hand. So no amazing pics and videos to get the social networks buzzing.

The other question is the power of the creative. The crash-bang-pow of an action film trailer in 3D would certainly stop St Pancrites in their tracks. Will dune-surfing?

(I also asked Dubai why they chose St Pancras, but will leave it as a footnote because they're the reasons you'd expect: footfall, space, and a good mix of leisure/biz travellers.)

The sound of silence, and a resolution on travel podcasts

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It's a little flowery for modern tastes, I expect, but on the train this morning I came across this passage in Freya Stark's 1936 travelogue The Southern Gates of Arabia:

How few of us in Europe know silence in the night: even if we sleep alone in Alpine pastures we are comforted by the sound of running streams. But here, between one village and the next, there is nothing except the wind when it blows.

('Here' is just inland of Al Mukalla on the south coast of Yemen.)

An ear: travel inspiration goes here?It made me think of meeting a radio journalist on a recent trip to Norway. I was fascinated to watch him work with background noise - either recording it to edit in later, or making sure just the right amount (and the right kind) was audible during interviews.

Ambient sound is a huge part of the actual travel experience - wandering around with headphones on was one of my Seven Deadly Sins of Tourism - but, for obvious reasons, it's underworked at inspiration stage.

The exception is radio, where focus on sound is part of the medium's contract with its audience.

Resolution #2,691: With this in mind, I've resolved to check out some travel podcasts. If you know of some good ones, comment me; if not, stay tuned and I'll post some recommendations.

Savoury what?

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Savoury smallbits - historic Bryggen district of Bergen, Norway

No comment. We never did find out what it sold - it's in the Bryggen district of Bergen if anyone wants to go and check.

(There are some destination-focused posts from my trip to Norway on our Postcards blog.)

What a difference a route makes...

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The Ullensvang Hotel in Lofthus, where we stayed last night, has seen a steep drop in British visitors recently. We used to be mixed in with Danish, Swedish, German and Japanese guests, but now we're barely represented at all.

Why? It's nothing to do with the hotel, which is perfectly good, with fine views out to Sor Fjord and a solid Grieg connection  - the composer was a friend of the founders, and his name is to be found in an old guestbook (in the middle of the pic).

Grieg's name is visible in an old Ullensvang Hotel guestbook

Managing director Barbara Zanoni Utne tells us it's largely down to the closure of the Newcastle-Bergen ferry route. DFDS shut it down in September 2008, and operators who used it to get clients to Ullensvang pulled out.

At the same time, the independent travellers dried up, because they could no longer bring their cars over.

Perhaps this is an unfortunate metaphor, but in many places tourism operates in a delicate ecosystem..

Update: After leaving Ullensvang, we heard the same story all over Hardangerfjord, from hoteliers, museum guides, even staff on the hugely popular Flam-Myrdal railway.

They all, quite unprompted, pointed to the loss of Newcastle-Bergen.

It won't do to get too misty eyed - operators can't be expected to offer routes and destinations that are not bringing returns - but this is a magnificent part of the world, and is intimately related to British history. It would be a shame if the decline in British visitors became permanent.

More from my trip to Norway on Postcards...

A tabloid take on the Majorca bombs...

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The Daily Mirror's front page has British tourists in bullish mood after three bombs went off in Palma de Majorca yesterday:

'We'll beat Majorca bombers' - Daily Mirror front page, Monday August 10 2009

It's good news for our readers, but an odd front page story for a national paper, given that (as I write) there haven't even been injuries reported.

So, silly season desperation? Or a testament to how much Majorca matters to British holidaymakers?

The FCO hasn't changed its overall level of travel advice, which figures - its advice for Spain has been taking Eta into account for years. So have holidaymakers.

Parts of Asia enjoyed a long total eclipse last night, and readers of the travel media may remember months and months of ads pushing the event - for specialists such as Wendy Wu, which registered as a dedicated eclipse tours website, this was a nice selling point.

So when is the next bankable total eclipse? With ocean covering 70% of the Earth's surface, landfall can be scarce, and even when it happens isn't always in an attractive destination.

Here's a quick map and list. Locations and times are for places that will see the total eclipse, and the map is a sketch - click each line for a link to precise details from NASA.

View Total eclipses 2009 - 2019 in a larger map

2010: Southern Chile and Argentina, 2-3 minutes

2012: The tips of Queensland and the Northern Territory, 2-3 minutes

2015: Faroe Islands and Svalbard archipelago, 2-3 minutes

2016: Parts of Indonesia, 2-3 minutes

2017: Central US, 2-3 minutes (the only eclipse of 2009-2019 in which the point of Greatest Eclipse is on land - it falls in the south of Kentucky)

2019: Central Argentina, 2-3 minutes

So which ones do you think have most potential for attracting travellers from the UK? Australia, Indonesia and the US?

Homepage pic: Top Photo Group / Rex Features

A colleague has spotted a change to the Foreign Office's Greece travel advice: "Some fancy dress costumers may offend the local Greek authorities."


Screengrab: The FCO offers some fancy-dress advice for travellers to GreeceNo prizes for guessing which incident that refers to...

Luxury is... swimming with pigs in the Bahamas

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Press release arrives announcing that you can swim with pigs at dizzyingly swish Bahamas resort Royal Plantation Island.

Here's the proof:

Swimming with pigs, Pig Beach, Royal Plantation, Fowl Cay
Each of the six-villas on Royal Plantation Island comes with its own motorboat, so guests can easily hop across to Pig Beach on neighbouring uninhabited island Big Major Spot. Here they can marvel at the curiously graceful water ballet of the island's rotund wild pigs, who paddle out to greet the boats

Sign me up.

Sorry about the fuzzy image - it's all that came with the release.

Update: some kind soul has sent me a better one...

Swimming with high-resolution pigs at Pig Beach, Bahamas

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