Stonehenge, the prehistoric stone circle in south-west England, has been given a £10 million ($16 million) grant towards providing a new visitor centre.
The money has come from proceeds from the National Lottery that are earmarked for heritage purposes.
Lady Andrews, the Chairwoman of English Heritage, which manages the site, said it was very grateful for the generous grant. “Not only does it help to narrow the funding gap for the project considerably, it also sends out a message of confidence about the benefits that the project will bring – to tourism, the local economy and the conservation and public enjoyment of Stonehenge and its landscape.”
The proposed centre would consist of a pair of single-storey areas of glass and timber about a mile-and-a-half (2.4 km) west of the stones. It would include exhibition and education facilities, a cafe, shop and toilets.
Stonehenge, constructed between 3,000 BC and 1,600 BC, and thought to have been used for a variety of religious ceremonies, is a World Heritage site. It attracts about 900,000 tourists a year, 70 per cent of whom come from abroad. However, visitors have long expressed disappointment – and sometimes astonishment – at the state of facilities there.
by Andy Moreton
Luxique offers a variety of luxury hotels in south-west England as well as in many other parts of the UK.
The bracing coastal resort of Blackpool in north-west England is unashamedly brash and glitzy with its pleasure beach, illuminations and pier.
In its heyday – around 1900 to 1950 – Blackpool thrived, as factory workers from the north took their annual holidays there en masse. It’s remained popular, although visitor numbers have dwindled over the years.
Now the resort is about to enjoy a renaissance because its modest football team (who play in tangerine coloured shirts) have unexpectedly risen through the ranks and will compete in the Premier League next season with the millionaires of Manchester United, Chelsea and Arsenal.
Blackpool’s promotion to the top flight is said to be worth £90 million ($129 million) to the club alone, and the wider local economy is also poised for a bonanza, with hundreds of thousands of extra visitors expected during the off-peak winter months.
Bars and restaurants are all set to cash in on the influx of fans, as are budget hotels and bed-and-breakfasts. But local tourist chiefs predict that more upmarket venues and luxury hotels will also benefit, with companies switching business meetings and conferences to the town, drawn by the prospect of top-flight football matches.
Tony Openshaw, of the Lancashire and Blackpool Tourist Board, said: “We’ve already had bookings from companies who were making inquiries almost as soon as the final whistle was blown, so they could secure conference and meetings rooms first.”
“The result is a huge fillip for Blackpool and the whole of the Fylde Coast, which will benefit in terms of increased tourism spend,” said Mr Openshaw.
Kill-joy bookmakers seem to think the euphoria will be short-lived. They’re offering odds of 4–11 that Blackpool will be relegated from the top division at the end of the season and 10,000–1 that they’ll win the title.
by Andy Moreton
A couple of years ago, at a seaside resort on the west coast of England, I saw a seagull take an ice cream cone clean out of a woman’s hand as she strolled along the promenade.
If pigeons are the scourge of the cities, gulls hold menacing sway by the sea.
Now one resort on the east coast of England is taking drastic action, warning holidaymakers that they could be fined up to £2,500 ($4,100) for feeding the birds – either intentionally or by leaving food waste.
The town council in Aldeburgh, an up-market resort in Suffolk, says the area is under siege from the gulls. The town has two renowned fish and chip shops and therein lies the problem.
Some people have been offering tit-bits of chips (French fries), which has encouraged the birds to swoop and steal food. Other visitors have discarded wrappings, which the gulls scavenge for food scraps. As well as that, holidaymakers and locals alike are woken by their raucous calling.
Aldeburgh, which hosts an internationally-renowned music festival, also has a message for those contemplating walking their dogs on the beach during the summer months – don’t. This offence carries a maximum penalty of £500 ($825).
by Andy Moreton