Rough Guides author Steve Vickers takes a look at the latest travel news and weirdness, including a new, Ferrari-branded theme park and the rise of virtual tourism.
No more battling to see the Terracotta Army
In 1974, farmers discovered thousands of life-sized soldier statues buried in the dirt near Xi’an, in central China. Forty years on, the Terracotta Army is one of the country’s most popular tourist attractions. But seeing the soldiers for yourself could be about to get much easier. According to the government-run People’s Daily, tourists from 51 countries (including all EU member states, the US and Australia) will soon be allowed to spend 72 hours in and around Xi’an without needing a visa. The new policy is expected to be operational within months, and will let tourists with onward flights from Xi’an’s international airport see the Terracotta Army without battling through complex visa forms.
Manchester to Hong Kong route is go
Want to fly direct from the UK to Hong Kong? Right now, you’ll have to get yourself to a London airport first. But this December, Cathay Pacific will start running flights from Manchester, making it the second British city with a direct scheduled service to China. Boeing 777s will make the trip four times a week, leaving Manchester at noon and arriving in Hong Kong in time for breakfast the next day. Reckon on paying at least £600 for a return trip – more if you want to go for Christmas.
Ferrari Land in the fast lane
A theme park based around Ferrari, the proudly Italian carmaker, is going to be built in… Spain. Ferrari Land will open at PortAventura on the Costa Daurada in 2016, complete with racing simulators, the world’s first Ferrari-themed hotel and Europe’s highest rollercoaster. The €100m attraction is expected to be slightly smaller than the original Ferrari theme park, which opened in Abu Dhabi in 2010, and is the latest in a growing list of odd, corporate-branded attractions that includes Atlanta’s World of Coca-Cola and Finland’s Angry Birds Land. What can we look forward to next? Cadbury World? Oh wait…