Gramping goes gangbusters, Qatar returns, Paris rebounds and Japan opens up (baby steps) as Travel Editor Stephen Scourfield reviews another week in travel
With grandparents missing big moments in their grandchildren’s lives over the last couple of years, the travel industry reckons “gramping” is gaining momentum. Seniors are travelling with children to reconnect, and without a parent in sight. It is also known as “skip-gen travel”, and research by travel agency network Virtuoso shows that 60 per cent of grandkids feel closer to grandparents after travelling with them. John Thompson, head of commercial for Minor Hotels, which has properties across Australia and New Zealand, confirms there is increased demand for apartment-style accommodation from multi-generational travel groups. He says it is a good way to help grandparents living interstate or in a different region to their grandchildren to build their own relationships with their grandkids — “something which can be done in a totally different way without the parents close by”. John adds: “With a huge number of retired baby boomers now finding the time and disposable income to travel, as well as today’s increasingly flexible and mobile workforce driving people to relocate, we believe the gramping trend is certainly here to stay.” John has a business interest, of course, adding that grandparents appreciate the fact that Minor brand Oaks has spacious serviced apartment-style accommodation. This means there are separate bedrooms for grandparents and kids, as well as handy laundry facilities and well-equipped kitchens. oakshotels.comhttps://www.oakshotels.com
The new attraction at LEGOLAND California Resort in Carlsbad is LEGO Ferrari Build and Race. It has digital technology that guests have never experienced at any other LEGOLAND theme park in the world. LEGO Ferrari Build and Race lets guests build, test, and race their own LEGO Ferrari on one of three test tracks. They include the test zone, steering test track and speed test track. Each track offers guests different obstacles, challenges and a chance to clock the fastest time. Once guests have fine-tuned their vehicles, they will then head into the race area and use digital technology to scan their cars and virtually race them, chasing the fastest lap time.
+ The centrepiece of the attraction’s opening was a life-size, bright red Ferrari F40 model developed by the LEGO Group, which took a team of master model builders more than 3800 hours and more than 350,000 LEGO elements to create.
ORANGE & SAVING
Jetstar’s new NEO aircraft are due to start arriving in Melbourne in the coming months, with the A321LR to fly on some of Jetstar’s most popular domestic routes. On Wednesday Jetstar revealed the new livery, with an orange tail and underbelly. It uses a two coat “basecoat-clearcoat” system which is longer lasting and cuts paint weight by up to 30 per cent. A spokesperson says that will save up to 108 tonnes of fuel across the A321LR fleet each year, and save nearly 350 tonnes of CO2 emissions.
Qatar Airways is back flying to 140 destinations, flying daily from Perth with economy return fares to Milan, Amsterdam and Dublin from $1809. Its “guaranteed flexibility” offer ends on June 1, for travel completed by September 30, 2022. For bookings before June 1, a ticket is valid for two years from the date of issue, travellers can change the travel date or destination with no fees, and they can get the unused value of a ticket refunded through the original form of payment. qatarairways.com
Qantas’ “fly now, pay later” partnership with Zip means travellers can book international and domestic flights on qantas.com, pay later using Zip and earn Qantas Points. Frequent flyers can also earn Qantas points through Zip’s loyalty program, Zip Rewards, when making some everyday purchases. You have to sign up for a Zip account separately, and there are 3000 points for doing this and linking a Zip account to Qantas and completing the first transaction. There are then 500 points each time a Zip Rewards goal is reached. It works out as one point for every $3 spent on eligible flights on qantas.com with Zip.
A reader has found her credit card insurance no longer covers the excess when she hires a car in Europe. Credit card travel insurance varies so much, it’s always worth checking for changed terms and inclusions. Lots of travel insurance covers this, which is a good “saving” — look for the phrase “rental vehicle insurance excess”. For example, rental vehicle excess cover is included in Allianz’s comprehensive, multi-trip and domestic travel insurance policies (allianz.com.au). It is also included in Cover-More’s international comprehensive plan and international comprehensive+ plan (covermore.com.au).
+ Tourism in Paris is now rebounding very clearly. It is estimated that hotel prices in late April were nearly 20 per cent higher than the same month in 2019.
+ French winemakers may be glad of tourism income this year. The European Committee of Wine Companies says a deep frost has affected 80 per cent of vineyards in France’s main wine-growing areas. The destruction has affected a vast area, through the Rhone Valley, Loire Valley, Bordeaux, Burgundy, Champagne and Provence. In some places, grape growers even tried to keep their vineyards warmer overnight by lighting candles.
A “fraudometer” has been launched by Keolis Besancon Mobilites in France. It is being tested on two bus lines of the Ginko transport network. A spokesperson explains: “At each stop, when the driver opens the vehicle doors, the ‘fraudometer’ shows up on the information screens. When passengers get on, the number of boardings (provided by the counting system) and the number of validations (ticketing data provided by the validators) are then displayed, highlighting the number of passengers who fail to validate their tickets. Depending on how many validations there have been, a message is displayed to ‘congratulate’, ‘encourage’ or, failing that, ‘alert’ the passengers on board.” The fraudometer will show the bus network team the stops where fraud is most prevalent, both in real time and after the event. Rather ominously, the spokesperson says: “In real time, the intervention of controllers can be activated.”
Japan is allowing “test tourism” tours to gather information ready for a full reopening. Tourism is a key pillar of the Japanese economy, but no international visitors have been allowed since strict border controls were put in place in 2020 at the start of the pandemic.
Ross Taylor, president of the Perth-based Indonesia Institute says the Federal Labor Party’s election win will be good for Australia-Indonesia relations, explaining that “our respective understanding of each other remains far too low”. Ross believes: “Indeed they are the ‘strangers next door’ with Australians treating Indonesians with suspicion, and Indonesians treating Australia with ambivalence.” He is urging the new Prime Minister, Anthony Albanese, to have his immigration minister immediately amend the visa requirements that act as a major deterrent to Indonesians choosing Australia as a holiday destination … “and in doing so, start the much-needed process of us getting to know each other”.
The South China Morning Post reported this week that “trashy tourists” have returned to Bali: “From complaining ‘Karens’ to naked influencers, there’s been a rash of reports about badly behaved foreigners since Bali reopened to overseas visitors in March.” Canadian tourist and self-professed wellness guru Jeffrey Craigen was deported from Bali after filming himself naked and dancing on a sacred mountain in April.
PS For those who don’t know, “a Karen” is a not-nice nickname for a woman who complains a lot and exhibits entitled behaviour.