Travel: Something To Declare

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The Independent Culture
True or false?

Britain's most popular museum (outside London) will remain closed until April.

False. The National Museum of Photography, Television and Film in Bradford was the most popular provincial museum in Britain until it closed for refurbishment in September 1997. It is due to be officially re-opened next month by a "leading public figure"; but people who live in West Yorkshire will be able to go there from next Wednesday, 31 March.

Like any new attraction, the museum is undergoing a "soft" opening. But the management is seeking to limit visitors to people who live locally. Vouchers for admission are being published in local newspapers, and passwords are being circulated in local factories; the idea is that you quote the password at the entrance and the security officials let you in. People from nearby places such as Sheffield and Manchester are apparently being excluded, as are visitors from overseas.

Bargain of the week

Half-price Italy

Every now and again a deal looks impossibly good: "Travel on 1 or 8 May and get 50 per cent off the cost of your holiday at selected top-quality self-catering accommodation. Holidays include daytime charter flights from Gatwick to Pisa, car hire and accommodation. Sant' Andrea, Umbria, one-bedroom apartment, pounds 223 per person."

Traditionally, the first couple of departures of the summer charter schedules in early May have been hard to fill, but to halve prices is a radical move for an upmarket operator like Simply Travel (0181-995 8277). A number of properties in Tuscany and Umbria are available, but these are such extremely good value that they are likely to sell out fast (and annoy all the people who paid full price).

A likely story

"Many so-called `specialist' tour operators are in fact now owned by the same large conglomerates that dominate the mainstream package holiday market. Simply Travel remains fiercely independent" - Simply Travel, autumn 1998.

In February 1999, Simply Travel was taken over by Britain's biggest holiday company, Thomson.

Simon Calder