Saturday, 31 January 2015

Fantasy island

HAD a very, very big lottery or football pools, and not sure how to spend it? Richard Branson’s Necker Island in the Caribbean could be an option. The cost of exclusive occupation of the resort starts from a mere $65,000/£43,000 per night, or a trifling $455,000/£301,000 a week.

For that, you get villa accommodation for up to 30 adults and six children, plus the services of 70+ staff including chefs and dive instructors.

www.villaguru.com


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Picture Credit: 'Necker Island - Shark Bay' by NOAA [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Cook in Tuscany

TUSCANY NOW, with 180 rental properties, has a concierge team which can give guests directions to local markets and set up cookery classes with local chefs.

One of the food experiences is a cooking session with Anna Bini at her school in central Florence, a short distance from many of the Tuscany Now properties. 

She has specialized in Tuscan cuisine for more than 60 years. Her course includes a visit to San Lorenzo market to buy produce and learning how to make fresh pasta from scratch.

Guests can also take part in truffle hunts in the hills south of Siena.

www.tuscanynow.

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Picture Credit: "greeneries" by Helge Høifødt - Own work via Wikimedia Commons.

Agadir named best value luxury destination






RESEARCH by On the Beach flags up Morocco's premier holiday resort – Agadir – as Europe's best value luxury holiday destination for 2015.

The online travel agent looked at average holiday costs during 2014 to predict the best value destinations for 2015, with Agadir pipping Malta to the post in the 5*category.

The Algarve in Portugal is the third best value 5* destination, followed by Hammamet in Tunisia. Paphos, Cyprus, completes the top five.

In the 4* holiday category, Spain reigns with three destinations in the top five list. 


Leading the way the Costa Brava, followed by the Algarve. Malaga and Alicante are placed third and fourth respectively, whilst Halkidiki, Greece, makes up the top five.


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Picture Credit: "Img02241-Agadir-20060529" by ArishG - Own work via Wikimedia Commons;

Bristol leads UK airport punctuality league

ENGLAND’S Bristol Airport has come out on top in a punctuality league compiled by the aviation intelligence agency OAG.

John Grant, executive vice president at OAG says: ‘Our 2014 Punctuality League shows that within the United Kingdom, Bristol Airport has an average on-time performance rating of 94.4%, the highest of all small, medium, and large airports covered by the data. 


At London Heathrow, punctuality was recorded at 75.5%, while at London Gatwick the figure was 61%, placing both airports close to the average and perhaps reflective of the operational challenges that both airports face with their respective runway capacity.’

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Friday, 30 January 2015

Head west for the food fest




ANGELA GRAY, food writer and former chef, will be helping to launch the inaugural Haverfordwest Food Festival in Pembrokeshire on May 9.

The event will showcase food from the town and surrounding area. Predominantly under cover, there will be space for up to 40 stallholders......... www.haverfoodfest.co.uk


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Azores tops green tourism league

THE Azores have been ranked as the world's most sustainable tourism destination.

The volcanic archipelago in the Atlantic achieved a score of 8.9 out of ten in a survey by the Global Sustainable Tourism Council. The survey looked at 100 tourist destinations worldwide, rating tourism policy, nature, environment, society, culture, and green economy.

The Azores makes effective use of renewable geo-thermal energy, and its main industries are agriculture, dairy farming, livestock ranching, fishing, and tourism. 

Only around 5% of the Azores is urbanized.

Wildlife options including whale and dolphin watching, swimming with wild dolphins and blue sharks, scuba diving for pelagic fish and marine turtles, bird watching, big game fishing and horse riding. Outdoor activities include hiking and cycling on well-regulated volcanic trails, kayaking, rock climbing, paragliding, surfing, golf, and sailing.

www.greendestinations.info/top100
www.VisitAzores.com


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Picture Credit: 'SMA VPO 20090827 SantoEspirito poolMaia' by Ruben JC Furtado (Own work) via Wikimedia Commons; "30 ilha de são jorge, açores" by José Luís Ávila Silveira/Pedro Noronha e Costa via Wikimedia Commons.

The Welcome Pack on an app

OKIDOKEYS has launched RentEZ, a virtual concierge app that gives home-sharing hosts and self-catering rental property owners a convenient way to offer a menu of amenities and services for their guests. Powered by the Hotelcloud platform, guests can use the app to access information about property amenities and user guides, and book local activities and services with one click.

‘Our mission is to provide individual property owners with the same hotel amenities and comforts, such as concierge services, that we do for our hospitality customers,’ says David-Benjamin Brakha, founder of the Hotelcloud.

The RentEZ licence is priced at $79.99/£59.99 annually.

For hosts:

· Manages your places and share keys from anywhere at anytime

· Eliminates the need to share metal keys with guests

· Lists apartment’s amenities' user guides

· Enables live chat between owners and guests

· Unlimited content with real time updates

For guests:

· 24/7 easy check-in and check-out

· Accesses the property’s amenities

· Access local recommendations

· Events guide

· Able to order online services in one click

The OKIDOKEYS - 
www.okidokeys.com - app and web portal allow you to create, share, and revoke access for family, friends, and third parties such as babysitters and trusted service people, and receive notifications when doors are being operated.

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Ireland sets 10 million tourist target





IRELAND’S tourism industry is aiming to attract 10 million visitors this year, contributing €5 billion (£3.9 billion) to the economy and helping to sustain 250,000 jobs.

Tourism Ireland’s plan will prioritize markets offering the best return on investment in terms of holiday visitors and revenue — Britain, North America, and mainland Europe. Markets with high potential will also be targeted, chiefly China and India.

Ireland and the UK have signed a visa agreement that will permit international tourists to apply for one travel permit to visit both countries.

It will apply initially to Chinese visitors and, later, to those from India.


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Picture Credit: "Dingle peninsula panorama" by Steve Ford Elliott - Flickr. via Wikimedia Commons.

Thursday, 29 January 2015

Notts on show

THE Nottinghamshire County Show (May 9-10) in Newark is a traditional show promoting farming, food, rural life, and heritage.

From dog displays to show jumping and equine and livestock showing classes, there will be plenty to explore for the 50,000 visitors the annual show attracts.

www.nottinghamshirecountyshow.com


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Picture Credit:Courtesy of and via nottinghamshirecountyshow.com

Devon days out

BUCKFAST ABBEY is the only English medieval monastery to have been restored and used again for its original purpose.

Founded in 1018 during the reign of King Canute (or Cnut if you prefer the Anglo-Saxon), the abbey offers 1,000 years of history. 

After the dissolution of the monasteries in 1539, it fell into ruin until 1882, when a small group of French Benedictine monks began a 30-year re-building job … without the benefit of helmets and handrails.

Visitors will see the abbey church, and get the opportunity to enjoy three gardens (lavender, sensory, and physic) and shop: the bookshop is one of the largest religious and spiritual bookstores in south-west England, and the gift shop sells ceramics, biscuits, preserves, and Buckfast Tonic wine. 

The industrious monks there also run a restaurant … and bee-keeping courses. There are no entry or parking charges. www.buckfast.org.uk


A BIG attraction on the Devon coast in Torquay is Kents Cavern, one of Europe’s most important Stone Age cave sites









The complex is a protected national monument and a major visitor centre for the UNESCO-endorsed English Riviera Global Geo-park.

The caves – with rocks said to be 400 million years-old, and stalactite and stalagmite formations – are open every day for guided tours which end in an underground exhibition chamber. 

Access for wheelchair users is restricted.

Outside, there is a Stone Age woodland trail, indoor kids-archaeological dig area, and hands-on cave art areas. www.kents-cavern.co.uk


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Picture Credit: buckfast.org.uk and kents-cavern.co.uk

VisitEngland chairwoman criticizes bank holiday rail closures

CLOSING down parts of Britain’s road and railway networks over bank holidays and during major sporting events is costing the economy in lost tourism, says VisitEngland’s chairwoman Lady Penelope Cobham.

‘We are trying to run a first world tourism service for local and overseas visitors, and there are certainly a number of overseas visitors around over Christmas. But we are more than hampered by a third-world service over Christmas,’ she told the Daily Telegraph.

‘I understand completely the need to do major works, but when they say they are going to end working on a particular day, we have to be able to depend on that.’

Lady Cobham said rail operators had in recent months been willing to hear her concerns, ‘but we have a long way to go to really explain, embed into their thinking and forward planning, how this might be done better.’

Network Rail has come under fire for over-running improvement work on the East Coast main line, which left thousands of passengers stranded in London during the Christmas holiday.

The Highways Agency has said that 219 stretches of road had roadworks in place during the festive period, though it suspended or accelerated more than 150 projects to help keep traffic moving over Christmas.


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Lose some, win some

FLYBE has changed its flight schedules from London City following months of operating from the airport. 

The airline is to cut the number of flights between the London airport and Inverness from February 22 due to lower than anticipated passenger numbers, and its services between London and Exeter will be reduced from three to twice a day.

But other routes will be increased due to popular demand. Six flights will operate daily between London and Edinburgh from February while Belfast will be served four times a day.


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Wednesday, 28 January 2015

Tax change for Bahamas holidaymakers

THE Bahamas Ministry of Finance has repealed a ten percent hotel tax and replaced it with a 7.5 percent value added tax to be paid by hotel and self-catering villa guests.

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World’s best little capital


NEW ZEALAND’S capital city Wellington has been named the ‘world’s coolest little capital’ and given a place in the Rough Guides Top 10 Cities to Visit in 2015.

‘There’s a real buzz about the city’s café scene, and smart new craft-beer bars are bubbling up across the city,’ say the Rough Guides editors, who rank the city (population 395,600) alongside such diverse destinations as Malaga, Hamburg, and New Orleans.

Wellington will host three matches in the 2015 Cricket World Cup, including a tantalizing England-New Zealand meeting.


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Picture Credit: 'Aotea Quay and stadium, Wellington, NZ' by Phillip Capper via Wikimedia Commons ; 'Wellington, NZ, at night@ by John Ted Daganato via Wikimedia Commons

Best of British

THESE were some of the UK winners in the 2014 British Travel Awards, as decided by the votes of readers of national and regional newspapers in the Trinity Mirror group …

Best holiday county destination

1 Cornwall


2 Northumberland - at
 right, is Kielder Castle which was built in 1775 as a hunting lodge and country retreat for the Dukes of Northumberland and is now a visitor centre for Kielder Forest.

3 Devon





Best leisure attraction

1 Eden Project, Cornwall

2 LEGOLAND Windsor Resort, Berkshire

3 The Scotch Whisky Experience, Edinburgh





Best heritage attraction

1 Edinburgh Castle

2 National Maritime Museum, Falmouth, Cornwall

3 Giant's Causeway, Ulster



Best coastal resort

1 Bournemouth

2 Tenby - left is St Catherine's Fort which is just offshore from Tenby Castle. Built on St Catherine's Island with work beginning in 1867 and completing in 1870 but the guns and shields were not installed until 1886. Decommissioned in 1907 and then sold and converted it into a private house. During World War II the fort was compulsory purchased and an anti-aircraft battery was built in front of the fort. After the war the fort was again decommissioned and sold back into private hands and opened in 1968 as a zoo, when the zoo relocated a decade later it was left empty - however work is ongoing to restore the fort and some of it is open to the public.

3 Bude


Best English Channel operator

1 P&O Ferries

2 Eurostar International

3 DFDS Seaways








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Picture Credit - From Top: "Kielder Castle - geograph.org.uk - 604115" by Oliver Dixon via Wikimedia Commons; "Eden Project" via Wikimedia Commons; "Giants Causeway 1b" via Wikimedia Commons; "St Catherine's Fort, Tenby. - geograph.org.uk - 1382620" by David Lewis via Wikimedia Commons;

A first for Dartmouth

DARTMOUTH in South Devon is holding its first beer festival this year. 

The one-day event is planned for February 21.

More than 20 real ales from South Hams breweries will be showcased, and there will be opportunities to meet the brewers. Entry £7, which includes a festival beer glass and four half pint beer tokens.

www.discoverdartmouth.com/festivals-and-events


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Picture Credit: GoHoliday via Wikimedia Commons

Tuesday, 27 January 2015

Fly south to the Sunshine State

VIRGIN AMERICA has started a daily seasonal service between New York (JFK) and Fort Lauderdale in Florida.

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What that Greek vote could mean for tourism

THE response of the international money markets to the outcome of the Greek election was immediate: the euro – already in a long slide – dived to a seven-year low of €1.34 against the £, or €1 worth 74p/$1.12. It means lower prices on the ground for UK and US holidaymakers not only in Greece but also in every other Eurozone country.

But Noel Josephides, chairman of the Association of British Travel Agents and managing director of Greek specialists Sunvil Holidays points out that not all holidays in Greece might come at bargain rates.

“Tour operators are tied in when it comes to both currency and fuel, so booking late and independently could be cheaper,” he says. “But it’s difficult to tell and probably depends more on supply and demand. If the demand is high, hotel prices are unlikely to fall – and certainly not in honey-pot destinations such as Mykonos or Santorini.”

Will Greece leave the Eurozone (given that joining it in the first place was a catastrophic mistake)?

Says Nick Trend, travel consumer editor at The Daily Telegraph: ‘It would be a long, drawn-out process which would take months of political wrangling – therefore it’s highly unlikely before this summer.’

And if it did?

‘It should make holidays there cheaper, because a new drachma would be worth far less than the euro. Independent travellers would benefit most at first because they will be paying for accommodation in drachmas, as opposed to the prices in sterling offered by tour operators.

‘Some things – imports such as coffee, petrol and technology – would not be any cheaper. And the bad news is that the Greek hospitality industry does not have a strong track record when it comes to competitive pricing. When the euro was first introduced, prices went up disproportionately. If it were to leave, there is no guarantee that rates charged by hotels and restaurants will fully reflect the change in the value of the currency.’

Mr Trend suggests that because the new government will have a honeymoon period, political tension and strikes – “the bane of travel in Greece” – are probably less likely than they have been in the past three years.


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Picture Credit: "Flag-map of Greece" by en.wiki: Aivazovskycommons: Aivazovskybased on a map by User:Morwen - Own work.via Wikimedia Commons

Summer flights to Deauville

FLYBE is to add a third new French route to its 2015 summer schedule, allowing customers to fly direct from Birmingham to Deauville, France, this summer.

Regarded as the ‘queen of the Norman beaches,’ Deauville is known for pristine sandy beaches as well as for prestigious horse racing events, polo matches, and the annual Deauville American Film Festival.

The thrice-weekly service will operate on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays between June 22 and September 26. One-way fares start from £24.99 including taxes and charges.


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Picture Credit: GoHoliday

Schedule change for Dundee-London flights

LOGANAIR is planning to change the timings of its daily Dundee-London Stansted flights this month.

The afternoon north and southbound services will take off later to allow daily passengers longer working days before leaving for the airport. See 
London Stansted for more information.

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Monday, 26 January 2015

Rouble plunge hits Russian tourists' spending power

SPENDING by Russians on UK accommodation and shopping fell by 28% last year, largely due to the plunge in the rouble.

The findings, from tax-free experts Global Blue, are an illustration of the extent to which the fall in the rouble is curtailing rich Russians' ability to travel and spend. A 50% fall in the value of the Russian currency means foreign spending is twice as expensive for them.

Some of the shortfall was made up by Hong Kong shoppers, who spent 9% more.

Russians had been among the top five biggest-spending non-EU tourists in the UK, but have now fallen out of the top ten.


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Picture Credit: via Wikimedia Commons

Up to 40% off for Rio Carnival lets

 BESPOKE BRAZIL, a specialist Brazil tour operator, is offering up to 40% off luxury apartments and penthouses in Rio de Janeiro during next month’s carnival -February 13-17. 

The agency has a range of properties throughout Rio, for couples, small groups or families.

Says Bespoke Brazil director Simon Williams: ‘If you thought the World Cup was fabulous, Rio Carnival will blow your socks off! The sheer energy of the Cariocas (the people from Rio) will overwhelm you and is totally infectious. It's a period when you cannot fail but have fun, whether it's joining in a local street party or simply sitting by the beach and emerging your senses in the colourful sights and sounds that surround you.

‘If you only visit Brazil once in your lifetime, do it at carnival time!’

www.bespokebrazil.com
http://rio-carnival.net


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Picture Credit: ''Orlando skyline' by The Floridian Boricua via Wikimedia Commons

Spring at the gunpowder mills

THE Royal Gunpowder Mills in Waltham Abbey, Essex, re-opens for February half-term (February 14-22).

Highlights of its spring programme include:

VE Celebration, May 2-4: A weekend of WWII re-enactments, remembrance, and celebration. Visitors can expect WWII military vehicles and air displays, including –weather permitting – a Mustang and a Spitfire.

Heritage Steam Day, May 17: Explore the technology of steam power with more than 50 scale steam traction engines representing the best of Victorian and Edwardian engineering.

Laredo, May 23-25: The Wild West living history troupe will re-create a frontier gold mining town, with plenty of shooting and dynamite explosions!

royalgunpowdermills.co.uk


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Self-catering … for lovers

WITH Christmas only just done and dusted, Coast & Country Cottages in South Devon is publicizing the self-catering holiday homes it thinks might be just right for lovers planning a St Valentine’s Weekend away.

The agency at 
www.coastandcountry.co.uk has a range of country cottages and waterside apartments sleeping from two to four – just in case you have to take the kids with you – and it can arrange hampers, wine, flowers, and catering.

Coast & Country Cottages was the winner of Best UK Holiday Cottage/Self Catering Booking Company (Small) in the 2014 British Travel Awards. 


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Sunday, 25 January 2015

Canadians, eh! ....

when they get bored .....



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Picture Credit:out-there-on-the-web

Get steamed up in Norfolk!




NORFOLK’S heritage railways offer a unique way to see the county. 

There are four of them …

The Mid-Norfolk Railway - 
www.mnr.org.uk, links the market towns of Wymondham and Dereham. During certain times of the year there is a steam locomotive running, and there are themed weekends.

The narrow gauge Bure Valley Railway - 
www.bvrw.co.uk runs through the heart of the Norfolk Broads, starting at Aylsham and terminating at Wroxham. Running alongside the track is the Bure Valley Path. Walkers and cyclists can walk or cycle one-way and let the train take the strain on the return journey.

The North Norfolk Railway - www.nnrailway.co.uk, or Poppy Line as it is also known, is one of England’s most scenic heritage tracks. It is accessible from the main rail network; take the Bittern line to Sheringham to connect with the Poppy line.

Pictured, right, is Ring Haw a Hunslet saddle tank, built in Leeds in 1940 for use at Nassington Quarry where it spent its entire working life before moving to the NNR in 1970. 

The four-mile Wells & Walsingham Light Railway is world’s longest 10-and-a-quarter-inch narrow gauge steam railway. Pictured is the Wells & Walsingham Light Railway locomotive "Norfolk Hero" taking on water at Wells station. 

The main station at Wells has a restored signal box where refreshments and souvenirs are sold. Go to www.wellswalsinghamrailway.co.uk - for more information.

www.visitnorfolk.co.uk/things-to-do/Railways.aspx



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Picture Credit - From Top: 'W&WLR Locomotive at Wells' by Timothy Titus (Own work) via Wikimedia Commons; 'Ring Haw on its way to Holt' by Ashley Dace via Wikimedia Commons.






Have a laugh in Leicester

DAVE'S LEICESTER COMEDY FESTIVAL is rated by The Guardian newspaper as one of the planet’s top five comedy festivals. 



This year’s festival (February 4-22) will feature a record-breaking number of comedians and events in more than 50 city venues.

Laughter-makers include Johnny Vegas, Dylan Moran, John Shuttleworth, Josie Long, Mark Thomas, Mark Watson, and Nina Conti.

www.comedy-festival.co.uk


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Picture Credit: 'Leicester Comedy Festival' by NotFromUtrecht (Own work) via Wikimedia Commons.

Hertz lifts US rental rates

HERTZ is to raise its car rental rates as from January 1, citing the depreciating value of its fleet.

‘Fleet costs are escalating due to declining residual values and, as a result, we have implemented price increases across our car rental brands in the US,’ Hertz's CEO John Tague said in a statement. ‘The company is pursuing cost reduction opportunities in addition to its previously announced programme to cut expenses while also increasing investment to improve our customers' rental experience, including refreshing the car rental fleet.’

The price increase is across the board for Hertz, Dollar, and Thrifty brands.

While its aging fleet played a role in its decision, what was left unsaid by Hertz was its ongoing accounting issues. 

The company announced in June that its financial statements for 2011, 2012 and 2013 would need to be re-stated and should no longer be relied upon. Hertz still hasn’t reported its financial results for 2014.


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Saturday, 24 January 2015

Why I love Africa ....

Innovation and adaptology reign supreme .......



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Picture Credit: out-there-somewhere

Floating islands to save the Maldives





A SERIES of man-made floating islands – called the 5 Lagoons Project – has begun to take shape in the Maldives. They are part of a project that many hope will be the solution to the environmental crisis the islands could face over the next 50 years.

The Maldives, which are now only five feet above sea level, could one day be totally submerged.

The project is a joint venture between the Maldives government and Dutch Docklands, which specializes in building everything from floating prisons to floating homes.

The 5 Lagoons Project — 80 million square feet — will include private islands with an 18-hole golf course, a conference/hotel complex, 185 $1 million waterfront homes on a flower-shaped quay, plus a separate floating island with homes for residents of the Maldivian capital.

Key to the deal was allowing foreign ownership of the high-end villas that would be constructed.

The islands – which will be anchored to the seabed using cables or telescopic mooring piles – will not damage the ocean’s coral reefs and other marine life around the Maldives. They will be stable even in storms, Dutch Docklands says.


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Picture Credit:"Kerala Backwaters, Maldives at Sunset" by P.K.Niyogi - Own work. via Wikimedia Commons.

Jamaica tops for weddings



JAMAICA has triumphed at the World Travel Awards… the island won five awards, including the title of the world’s leading wedding destination. It also won the award for the world’s leading heritage project – for the port of Falmouth, where the town’s English colonial architecture has been preserved.

Round Hill Hotel & Villas at Montego Bay collected the award for the world’s leading villa resort.

Elizabeth Fox, regional director UK/Northern Europe for the Jamaica Tourist Board, said: ‘These awards reflect the extensive offering that Jamaica has to offer travellers in search of every type of holiday, from honeymoons to cruises to luxury get-aways.’


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Picture Credit: 'Montego Bay East' by WPPilot-Own work via Wikimedia Commons

New Bristol flights for winter 2015/16

NEW routes to Sal in Cape Verde, Hurghada in Egypt, and Paphos in Cyprus are to be introduced by Thomson and First Choice from Bristol airport for winter 2015-16.

The Thomson Airways flights to Paphos will capitalize on the popularity of Cyprus and feed Thomson’s cruise-and-stay programme in the region, which includes calls to Ashdod in Israel and Athens.


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Friday, 23 January 2015

Year of growth for Irish tourism

IRELAND recorded an 8.6 percent year-on-year increase in overseas tourist numbers in the January-November period of 2014.

With a total of more than seven million foreign tourist visits, numbers from the UK were up by eight percent, and those from North America rose by 14.9 percent.

It’s estimated that the Republic’s tourism industry supports 200,000 jobs.


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Picture Credit: "Powerscourt Teich, Co. Wicklow". Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

Where to see the snowdrops








AS one of the first flowers to break through the thawing ground and raise their head, the humble snowdrop signals the end of winter and the promise of brighter spring days.  

With their early bloom, the delicate “flower of hope” carpets woodlands, meadows, churchyards, and gardens across the south-east of England. Here’s where to see some of them …

Mottisfont, near Romsey, Hampshire – Guided Tours: 7-8 & 14-15 February: Drifts of snowdrops appear along the banks of the Font stream of this former priory, where the warmer water creates its own micro-climate. Elsewhere, the open acres of the river garden are transformed by drifts of purest white.

Wakehurst, Haywards Heath, West Sussex: Wakehurst, Kew's country estate in West Sussex, has a mass planting of Galanthus Nivalis bulbs the common snowdrop.

Welford Park, West Berkshire: Snowdrops were often planted by Norman monks resulting in impressive displays at monastic sites including Welford Park in West Berkshire.  The display in the beach wood covers five acres bordering the River Lambourn. 

Sissinghurst, Cranbrook, Kent: The National Trust's Sissinghurst Estate is the place to explore at any time of year, and winter is no exception. The team at Sissinghurst has been bulking up a dozen other types of snowdrop in the nursery to add to the varieties already seen along the banks of the moat.

Gilbert White's House and Gardens, Selborne, East Hampshire – Snowdrop Weekend: 7-8 February: The display includes the Galanthus Nivalis, Galanthus Plicatus, and Galanthus Elwisii varieties.

Nymans, Handcross, West Sussex – Guided tour 30th January: An exclusive guided tour with the head gardener will ensure visitors catch all of the seasonal highlights of the garden and arboretum, including snowdrops, camellias, and magnolias. The bulb meadow in the walled garden is also full of snowdrops.

Runnymede, Old Windsor, Berkshire: There will be vast clusters of snowdrops in the historic meadow of Runnymede, where Magna Carta was signed and famed as the birthplace of modern democracy.


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Picture Credit: 'The House at Nymans, West Sussex' Richard Rogerson via Wikimedia Commons.

Millions of Brits planning city breaks abroad

MORE than 23.5 million people in Britain plan to have a holiday abroad this year, according to research by Sainsbury’s Travel Insurance. 

One in five will have booked by the end of 2014.

And a further 14% will do so by the end of January. 

The survey found that an estimated 22.1 million (47% of adults) are planning a holiday within the UK

Other findings include:

  •  The average holiday cost will be £806, excluding spending money.
  •  City breaks are the most popular form of holiday for 2015, followed by beach holidays, walking holidays, and cruises. 
  •  One in ten will pay for their holiday with a credit card to spread the cost.

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Picture Credit:"Colosseum area overview, Rome, Italy (9611395742)" by l0da_ralta via Wikimedia Commons

Ryanair launches US website

Thousands of American customers explore Europe every year on Ryanair’s low fares, with London, Dublin, Barcelona, Rome, and Paris the top five destinations, and with most passengers coming from California, New York, Texas, Florida, and New Jersey.

The US site includes Ryanair’s “Fare Finder” feature, where customers can search and book the lowest fares by price point, route, and travel period, and US customers can now pay for tickets dollars.

www.ryanair.com/us


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Thursday, 22 January 2015

Qui veniunt .... tunc vident ..... consumunt!

They come ... they see ... they spend!

TOURISTS spending in the UK is expected to reach £22.2 billion, according to a forecast by VisitBritain. The total for 2014 was £21.3 billion. 

Pictured, left, is a typical throng queueing to join one of the many open top sightseeing buses that ply the more touristy areas of central London. And this is a common sight all over Britain with its magnificent mix of culture, arts, history and modern economy. 

Baker Street - where this picture was taken - is a particular tourist attraction area being close to Madame Tussauds, the Planetarium and because of the Sherlock Holmes connection.

The number of overseas visitors will rise to 35.1 million, up by 2.5 percent on the 2014 number, says VisitBritain.


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Picture Credit: 'Baker Syr Station - London' Stephen McKay via Wikimedia Commons.

Scotland … in a word



WELCOMING’, ‘beautiful’, ‘home’ or ‘fandabbydozy’ – what word best describes Scotland? That’s the question being posed in a campaign by leading figures in the country’s tourism industry. 

The aim is to create a giant word cloud that organizers hope will act as a fun reminder that tourism in Scotland is everyone’s business.

Scots and visitors are being invited to tweet the word they believe captures and encapsulates what Scotland means to them. 



The chosen word should be followed by #onewordScotland.





The #onewordscotland word cloud will be supported by VisitScotland, the Scottish Tourism Alliance, Scotland Food and Drink, and the Scottish Licensed Trade Association.



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Picture Credit:From Top -  '"Inverness Ness Footbridge 15760" via Wikimedia Commons; "River Dochart". Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.5 via Wikimedia Commons;"Falkirk wheel 01" by Dave Morris from Edinburgh, UK via Wikimedia Commons; Cropped from "Wfm glasgow botanic gardens". Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons