In which we present a regular round-up of news from the world of Grown-up Travel
Britain’s wet weather won’t deter tourists: U.K. tourism chef
Britain’s tourism chief said recent wet weather would not deter visitors from other countries and would not dampen its hopes of benefiting from the London Olympics.
The public body VisitBritain wants to use the Games to showcase the country, enticing an extra 4.6 million visitors between 2011 and 2015.
The country has been enduring floods during record summer rainfall, and sports fans have been warned they may need their rubber “Wellington” boots to visit some Olympic venues.
“It’s only the Brits that have a complete and utter obsession really with our weather, I think the rest of the world is slightly less interested,” VisitBritain’s Chief Executive Sandie Dawe told reporters to quiet murmuring of dissent in the international audience.
“Frankly, people don’t come here to lie on the beach, that’s not our offer, they come for culture, heritage and sightseeing. They come all times of year – we have a temperate climate.”
Canadians come in the winter because it is warmer for them to do their shopping and visit the museums, while people in the Middle East come in the summer when the “green is balm to their eyes,” she said.
Conversations about the weather is as popular among Britons as queuing.
Ministers discussed sacking striking Border Agency staff
Ministers have discussed sacking UK Border Agency staff threatening to strike ahead of the Olympics, Jeremy Hunt admitted today.
The Culture Secretary insisted he did not want to “escalate” the row ahead of the planned walkout of immigration workers but said questions about their employment had been raised.
Thousands of staff at the Home Office, including the UKBA workers, are to stage a 24-hour strike the day before the opening of the Olympics in a row over jobs, pay and other issues.
The Public and Commercial Services union (PCS) said its members will walk out on July 26 and will take other forms of industrial action, such as a ban on overtime, from July 27 to August 20.
Mr Hunt told Radio 5 Live’s Sportsweek: “We have a contingency plan in place and I am absolutely confident that we will get everyone into the country. They’re not going to stop anyone getting in and this is not the time to be pursuing this kind of dispute.
“Sack them? That is the Ronald Reagan approach and I can tell you amongst ministers there have been people asking whether we should be doing that, but I don’t want to escalate things by talking about that right now, because I know amongst those 600 people there are lots of people who want to do the right thing and turn up for work.”
Locals divided over fashion magnate’s plan for $1.9 billion skyscraper in Venice
Is this a sight for sore eyes or pure brilliance?
Locals are divided about fashion magnate Pierre Cardin’s plan to build an usually-shaped skyscraper in Venice.
The Palais de Lumiere – or Palace of Light – skyscraper would cost $1.9 billion to build and would reach 244 metres into the sky.
Hailed by Luca Zaia, the head of the Veneto region, as Venice’s rival to the Eiffel Tower, the project was given the green light for development earlier this year but has since been weighed down by controversy.
The tower was set to be built in Porto Marghera, a former industrialised zone a few kilometres from the heart of Venice, and would provide thousands of much-needed jobs in the area.
However some locals fear the skyscraper would be a sight for sore eyes and ruin the city’s historic skyline. Fair point, considering the 60-storey glass and steel building would tower over the “symbol of Venice” – the famous bell tower in St Mark’s Square.
Hotels pursue teens, pre-teens with menus, getaway packages
Hotels are trying to do something parents often can’t: keep their teen-age children interested.
Several hotels have introduced new activities, programs and menus to appeal to teen-age and pre-teen guests — and their paying parents.
•Omni Hotels this summer launched a “Teen Connection” program. At select locations, teen-age guests can contact the Teen Concierge through Twitter, Facebook, e-mail, or text message and ask for recommendations on what to do.
•Hyatt Hotels and Resorts this week introduced the “For Kids by Kids” menu, a re-designed menu for children and pre-teens that features low-calorie, low-fat foods and QR codes that lead to information about healthy eating. A three-course organic menu by celebrity chef Alice Waters also is available. The menu was approved by a group of young taste-testers.
•The Ritz-Carlton Orlando Grande Lakes offers a 50-minute teen massage and 50-minute teen facial, each for $120.
•Sofitel Luxury Hotels has partnered with TV5MONDE, a French language network broadcasting in the United States, to create Tivi5MONDE, a French language channel specifically for guests up to age 13.
•And the Tysons Corner, Va., Marriott, is offering newAmerican Girl getaway packages and had free viewings of American Girl’s McKenna Shoots for the Stars at the hotel.
Bjorn Hanson, dean of New York University’s hospitality school, says hotels are trying to build loyalty as early as possible. Teens and younger Millennials have become an influential demographic because they set social trends through their use of Facebook and Twitter, he says.
They also have a lot of pull with their parents, who “offer an increasing amount of influence, even control, to the teens in the family,” he says.