Monday, 30 November 2015

Up in the air …


DISCOVER THE WORLD is to start direct flights from Gatwick to Egilsstaðir, East Iceland, next summer. 

British visitors will have direct access not only to the lesser-known East Fjords but also to the north where many other spectacular natural attractions can be seen. 

The twice-weekly flights will be operated by Air Baltic exclusively chartered by Discover the World. They can be booked only as part of a holiday package with the operator. www.discover-the-world.co.uk.


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Picture Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/31025616@N00/12378198374">Downtown Reykjavík</a> via <a href="http://photopin.com">photopin</a> <a href="https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/">(license)

Morocco tourism push, but FCO has terrorism warning


A NEW website is spearheading a campaign designed to boost tourism to #Morocco. The site at visitmorocco.com has been unveiled as part of a tourism promotion push by the North African country which also involves print and online display advertising, events, and social media.

The #MuchMorocco campaign is targeting the UK, Ireland, US, and Canada. The website includes information on where to stay, attractions, the best places to eat, and links to practical details such as flights.

Amine Boughaleb, director of the Moroccan National Tourist Office in London, said: ‘Our aim with this campaign is to bring the essence of Morocco to holidaymakers. It is warm, vibrant, friendly, accessible, stylish … all qualities shared by Morocco as a country.

Britain’s Foreign & Commonwealth Office, however, warns currently of a ‘high threat from terrorism in Morocco’.

‘Attacks’ it says in its travel advisory, ‘could be indiscriminate, including in places visited by foreigners. In April 2011, 17 people were killed and 25 injured in a large explosion in Marrakech. Protective security measures are in place at many Moroccan hotels and sites popular with tourists. Security measures, including security personnel, may be visible in certain areas.

‘The Moroccan authorities have warned of an increased threat linked to the growing number of Moroccans sympathetic or belonging to international terrorist organisations operating in Syria, Iraq, and Libya, and regularly report the disruption of terrorist cells.’


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Picture Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/14228046@N03/8607596584">Behind the walls</a> via <a href="http://photopin.com">photopin</a> <a href="https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/">(license)

Christmas in … Royal Windsor

QUEEN ELIZABETH doesn’t spend #Christmas in #Windsor – she heads to Norfolk – but there’s plenty for visitors to see and do in the town. 

Windsor Castle … December sees the state apartments transformed with festive decorations, Christmas trees, and dining tables laid for a Regency-themed feast showing how George IV celebrated Christmas at the castle in the early-19th century.

Professional storyteller Olivia Armstrong will return to the fireside in St George's Hall to give visitors a glimpse into Christmas past at the castle.

On selected dates in December there are private evening tours. Led by an expert guide, the tour offers a special behind-the-ropes experience. All tickets include a glass of champagne, a copy of the official souvenir guide and a 20% discount at Royal Collection Trust shops.

Windsor Castle is open daily 09.45 – 16.15 (last admission 3pm) except December 25/26.

Windsor Great Park … The park plays a pivotal role in Christmas celebrations in the Royal Borough – from supplying Christmas trees to providing the perfect place to walk or jog off Christmas calories.

From December 1 to the 31st, visitors have free entry to 35-acre Savill Garden, the highlights of which include:

Winter-flowering conservatory plants

Colourful dogwood stems in a mass planting in the Winter Beds

Attractive flower heads of grasses – well represented in the Dry Garden, the New Zealand Garden, and the Rose Garden

Skating … Now in its sixth year at Alexandra Gardens, the ice rink is open until January. It’s open daily (except December 25) from 10am to 9pm.

www.rbwm.gov.uk/web/christmas_events.htm


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Picture Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/7786198@N03/6310685851">Wool Felt Nativity 2011</a> via <a href="http://photopin.com">photopin</a> <a href="https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/">(license)

Independence Day . . . Barbados

#Barbados celebrates her 49th Independence Day today November 30th which is a national holiday. 

Celebrations include sports competitions, fairs, community events and religious services. A grand parade is held, usually at the Garrison Savannah, site of the original Independence ceremony in 1966. 

Some of the events lined up for this years celebrations include:-

Marathon weekend: December 4-6
Events include a Friday Fun Run Mile through St Lawrence Gap; a Saturday 5K Fun Run & Walk and a 10K Race.  On the Sunday there will be both a marathon and a half-marathon.

Classical/Pops festival: December 10-12
The Classical Pops Festival is an annual outdoor event inspired by similar events in Massachusetts and the BBC Proms.

Mount Gay Rum race: January 16-24
The yacht race around the island dates back to the 19th Century and is based upon bragging rights for the fastest trading schooner. 



Places to stay:


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Picture Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/53447223@N00/3918755894">Peacock feathers costume</a> via <a href="http://photopin.com">photopin</a> <a href="https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/">(license)











Avoriaz voted best ski resort in France

WHAT’S the best #skiresort in #France? The Ski Club of Great Britain says – based on votes by members – it’s #Avoriaz in the Portes du Soleil.  

Stephane Lerendu, director of the Avoriaz tourist office said: ‘This has always been a unique ski resort. 
It's 100% ski-in ski-out, has characteristic architecture, and an entirely car-free centre where horse drawn sleds are used as taxis.’

The resort, say the experts, has one of the best snow records in France, with 26ft of snow each season. In the rare event that natural snowfall is sparse, snow-making facilities across the 130 pistes ensures Avoriaz stays in good shape. The resort’s owners – Pierre & Vacances – provide a snow guarantee: good snow or your money back.

www.pierreetvacances.co.uk 
www.avoriaz.com/en 


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Picture Credit: "Crosets". Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons, "Turn in powder" by Sander Westerveld - Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons 

Sunday, 29 November 2015

Contactless payments for Gatwick rail passengers

PASSENGERS travelling by rail between Gatwick and Central London will be able to use pay-as-you-go ticket technology next year.

Oyster card and contactless payments will be introduced as new methods of payment from January for journeys between the airport and London on Southern, Gatwick Express, and Thameslink services.

It is hoped the scheme will reduce overcrowding at stations – a problem at Gatwick at peak times – and offer better value for money.

The currently single journey paper peak-time ticket costs £15.40 from London to Gatwick, excluding the Gatwick Express. With pay as you go, a rush hour trip will cost £14 and £8 off-peak, says London mayor, Boris Johnson.
He said: ‘By providing a quick and easy way to pay, our Oyster and contactless ticketing has transformed the way people get around our capital. We’ve already extended this on a number of key routes outside London, and it makes perfect sense for Londoners, commuters, and passengers from around the world to benefit from this further link to Gatwick.’

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Swimming with pigs in the Bahamas

THE BAHAMAS is the ‘Official Home’ of swimming pigs, according to the local tourist board – although, it’s not immediately apparent how many rivals the #destination has for the prestigious title. 

Visitors embrace the unique porcine swimming opportunity, greeting the pigs on the uninhabited island of Big Major Cay, affectionately called ‘Pig Beach’.

Chris O’Toole takes a dip with local tour operator, Coastline Adventures …

‘I’ll admit it wasn’t top of my priority list. Indeed, before touching down in The Bahamas’ capital of Nassau I wasn’t even aware swimming with pigs was possible, let alone desirable.

But having been told by both Joy Jibrilu, director general at the #Bahamas Ministry of Tourism, and Bahamas minister of tourism Obediah Wilchcombe, that it was the done thing, I thought I’d better give it a go.

Tour operator Coastline Adventures provided the opportunity, offering half- or full-day tours from the island of Exuma.

Boarding with captain Bob Smith, he answers the question on everybody’s lips by explaining that some years ago a pig farmer saw the need to put a few pigs on Big Majors Cay for breeding purposes.

Other local legends suggest the pigs were dropped off by a group of sailors who wanted to come back and cook them or that there was a shipwreck nearby and the pigs swam to safety.

However it was that they came to be, they are now the highlight of local tourism.

Approaching on board a luxurious yacht they came into view, splashing about in the crystal clear waters. Though feral, they are exceptionally friendly, with more running from under the shade of the almond trees to greet visitors they hope will bring them treats. The pigs frolic freely on the sandy beaches, and after basking in the sun for hours, they swim in the surf. They are also fed by the crews of passing yachts and vessels.

Approximately 20 pigs and piglets survive on Big Major Cay, partly because the island has three freshwater springs, and partly due to the generosity of visiting islanders and tourists.

Dipping into the water, it’s certainly a surreal experience, with the larger pigs swimming past at great speed. Some even attempt to board the boat.

But once the initial commotion dies down, the experience becomes calming and even therapeutic. The pigs splash past in pursuit of bread offered by tourists, while the visitors try to grab selfies in the surf.

Back on the boat, it’s time for complementary rum and fruit Punch! ’

http://coastlineadventuresexuma.com


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Italy’s top Xmas markets





CITALIA’S travel experts have chosen their top pick of the Italian Christmas markets for an affordable pre-Christmas get-away

Italy’s #Christmas markets – ‘Mercatino di Natale’ – are smaller and more intimate than the famous German markets that make their way to the UK. Many feature elaborate nativity scenes made by local craftsmen, while hosting stalls offering regional seasonal food and drink, as well as locally made products and gift items.  

The markets often run during the advent period and some remain open right through to Epiphany, since Christmas in #Italy is traditionally celebrated from December 24 to January 6.

Milan – Piazza Castello
Milan is home to several Christmas Markets, but Oh Bej! Oh Bej! (How Beautiful! How Beautiful!) is one of the longest running, dating back to at least 1510. The market bustles with activity, as locals and tourists meander around the 350+ stalls selling handicrafts, antiques, clothing, toys, Christmas gifts, and festive foods. It runs for just one weekend at the beginning of December, this year December 4-7. December.

Merano – River Passirio
Visit one of Citalia’s newest destinations, Merano in South Tyrol, between November 27 and January 6 to experience the town’s unique Christmas market located on the banks of the River Passirio.

Rome – Piazza Navona
Among the fountains in the Piazza Navona, the square turns into a multi-coloured Christmas Market, with stalls and booths filled with chocolates and traditional Christmas gifts. Between November 26 and January 6, there are street artists, acrobats, and Christmas music. 

Bolzano – Piazza Walther
Set against the backdrop of the Rosengarten Dolomites, Bolzano hosts Italy’s biggest Christmas Market. Wooden huts filled with traditional gifts and decorated with garlands, lamps, and candles line the streets in the medieval town. The runs from November 29 to January 6.

Florence – Piazza Santa Croce

Florence flourishes with Christmas cheer and a huge market inspired by the tradition of the German city of Heidelberg. More than 50 huts and stalls selling Italian and German delicacies, decorations, and handicrafts fill one of the most beautiful squares of the city, Santa Croce. December 2-20.

Citalia can arrange hotel packages in all of these locations – www.citalia.com


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Picture Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/31039095@N02/5262101186">Christmas in Florence | Natale Fiorentino 2010</a> via <a href="http://photopin.com">photopin</a> <a href="https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/">, http://www.flickr.com/photos/87690240@N03/15481788014">Vatican city, Rome, Italy</a> via <a href="http://photopin.com">photopin</a> <a href="https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/">(license)

Disney theme parks' profits boosted by summer visitors surge

SURGING summer theme park visits helped to raise profits at the #WaltDisney Company in the three months to September. 

It reported a total net profit of $1.6 billion for the period between July and September compared with $1.5 billion at the same time last year. 

Parks and resorts revenue rose by 10% to reach $4.4 billion in the three month period. The division’s operating profit was up by 7% to $738 million year-on-year

The company attributed the growth to increased visitor numbers at parks in the US and #Disneyland Paris.

Disney said: ‘Guest spending growth was primarily due to higher average hotel room rates and ticket prices for sailings at our cruise line as well as theme park admissions and increased merchandise, food, and beverage spending.’  The results gave the company its fifth consecutive year of record performance. 

‘In fiscal 2015,’ says chairman and chief executive, Robert Iger, ‘we delivered the highest revenue, net income, and adjusted earnings per share in the company’s history, reflecting the power of our great brands and franchises, the quality of our creative content, and our relentless innovation to maximize value from emerging technologies.’


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Picture Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/44206268@N07/7149477867">Sleeping Beauty Castle Disney resort Paris [Explored]</a> via <a href="http://photopin.com">photopin</a> <a href="https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/">(license)

Saturday, 28 November 2015

Irish castle back in business

NEWLY-RESTORED Ashford Castle in #Ireland has been awarded Opening of the Year (Renovation or Conversion) at the 2015 European Hospitality Awards. 

The award programme celebrates the finest hotels in Europe. 

Following a two-year restoration of the 800-year-old building in County Mayo, the five-star hotel re-opened to guests in April this year. The restoration cost was £49.24 million.

Ashford Castle, and the 350 acres in which it stands, required a complete overhaul of the infrastructure, parts of which date back to 1228, including treatment of the exterior stonework and repairs to the battlements.

Eight hundred windows were replaced and all 68 guest rooms and 14 staterooms were either re-built or restored while retaining the original features of the castle, which was once owned by Lord and Lady Ardilaun of the Guinness family.

New facilities include a 32-seat cinema, a billiard room, cigar terrace, boutique shop and tea room, museum, children’s playroom, and a conservatory which houses a spa, gym, and swimming pool. An abandoned underground tunnel has been turned into a wine cellar to be used for private parties and wine tastings.


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Picture Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/19966030@N00/509945001">Ashford Castle - County Mayo, Ireland</a> via <a href="http://photopin.com">photopin</a> <a href="https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/">(license)

Bavaria 'best’ region, says Lonely Planet

#BAVARIA in Southern Germany has been named a “Best Region” in this year’s Lonely Planet’s 2016 Best in Travel yearbook/ 

Lonely Planet spokeswoman Dr. Stephanie Mair-Huydts says: ‘From the cloud-shredding Alps to story-book castles, Bavaria has something to delight every traveller. Whether in the beer hall or on the ski slope, Bavarians really know how to be good hosts. And 2016 will be the perfect time to experience a Bavarian welcome as the region celebrates the 500th anniversary of the Beer Purity Law. Cheers!’

Jens Huwald, managing director of Bayern Tourismus Marketing added: ‘We are delighted that Bavaria is included among the Top 10 Regions of 2016. We are proud that with its multi-faceted offerings, from royal palaces to unspoiled national parks, Bavaria fascinates more and more people.’

Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel showcases what its editors think are the top ten countries, cities, and regions to visit in 2016. 

‘Best in Travel 2016 highlights not the places travellers are headed to next year, but the places our team determined they should visit,’ says Tom Hill, Lonely Planet’s editorial director. 

‘We picked a mix of up-and-coming destinations and places we anticipate will have buzz around them, based on special events and attractions, anniversary celebrations, and new openings.’

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Cornish christmas cracker . . .


Fancy escaping to Cornwall this Christmas with your family and friends? 

Latitude 50 are offering £1,000 off their beautiful manor house near Port Isaac for the Christmas week.

Stay from the 21st to the 28th of December for just £2,295. Treharrock Manor sleeps 20 which works out at only £16.39 per person, per night.


The house comes with 14 acres of grounds, a tennis court and games room.

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Journey through Welsh history with new high-tech travel map


VISITORS to Wales will be able to experience Welsh history through a new Wales History Map, launched by the Welsh Government's Historic Environment Service. History enthusiasts will be able to explore sites all over Wales based on their favourite period in Welsh history, from the legacy of the Princes of Gwynedd to the story of national hero Owain Glyndŵr.

The Wales History Map is an interactive online resource that allows users to pinpoint more than 50 of Wales' historic sites and separating them into 12 different themes of Welsh history.

Themes will include
  • The Castles of Edward I (Flint, Conwy, Caernarfon, Harlech, and Beaumaris) 
  • Wales: First industrial nation 
  • Artistic Response to the Landscape 
  • Welsh heroes 

To help visitors get in the mood for historic adventures, the Welsh government has collaborated with Trac Cymru (Music Traditions Wales) to create the Ultimate Welsh Road Trip Soundtrack, featuring work by Welsh singers and musicians to complement the historic themes. 


www.cadw.gov.wales/historymap


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Greece is the word for BA

BRITISH AIRWAYS has added two destinations to its 2016 summer schedule: Chania on #Crete and Kalamata, Mainland #Greece. The flights start on April 30. 

BA will also be increasing its frequency to Corfu for the summer 2016 season, bringing the total number of flights to the island to six per week, and Santorini flights will also increase from three to four per week.


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Picture Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/10629535@N00/8071593741">Temple of Apollo</a> via <a href="http://photopin.com">photopin</a> <a href="https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/">(license)

Friday, 27 November 2015

CHRISTMAS/NEW YEAR: New York most-searched destination, Dubai a close second

UK flight departures for the Christmas and New Year travel period show that New York is in first place as most-popular destination for a winter break for Brits, for both long and short breaks. 

The next most-popular destinations for Brits are Dubai and Lisbon.

Momondo’s top 10 most-searched Xmas/New Year destinations: 
  • New York 
  • Dubai 
  • Lisbon 
  • Bucharest 
  • Orlando 
  • Porto 
  • Bangkok 
  • Miami 
  • Amsterdam 
  • Tenerife

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Picture Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/10770655@N04/11597681383">Happy Holidays 2013 From NYC!</a> via <a href="http://photopin.com">photopin</a> <a href="https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/">(license)

Christmas in … Portsmouth

Dockyard delights November 27-29, 10am-6pm, Portsmouth Historic Dockyard – Explore the snow-covered Victorian streets of the Portsmouth Historic Dockyard. A Christmas maze, Fagin's Tavern, and 150 stalls for gifts. Adult £16, child (5-15) £14, family £46, under 5s free. Tickets include entry to the Dockyard's attractions including The Mary Rose, HMS Victory, and the newly-opened HMS M.33. 

Bratwurst & Gluhwein to December 24, Commercial Road –Mulled wine and a Bratwurst at the city's Bavarian Market.  The chalets sell a wide range of seasonal gifts. 

Christmas at the Castle December 11-13, 10am-11pm, Southsea Castle – Organized by the team behind the city's successful Victorious Festival, the event comprises live music, sing-alongs, seasonal cheer, food and gifts plus a giant free yuletide slide. Adults £6 on Friday and £10 Sat/Sun. Child (5-15) £5, under 5s £1.

Last Night of the Christmas Proms December 21, 7pm, Portsmouth Guildhall – Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra are guaranteed to get you in to the festive spirit with a second act consisting entirely of toe-tapping Christmas favourites. From £14.75 per ticket.


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Picture Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/59468914@N00/3114619803">Boule de Noël / Christmas Ball</a> via <a href="http://photopin.com">photopin</a> <a href="https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/2.0/">(license)

Retreat to Tuscany!


#LUXURY self-catering holiday agency Natural Retreats is now offering a selection of traditional properties in some of the most popular areas in #Tuscany, including Lucca, Pisa, Sienna, and Florence.

Il Maniero – Ripoli, Monterchi – Province of Arezzo (sleeps 14) –Il Maniero is a three-storey, seven-bed, 18th century manor house in a hilltop village. Almost on the border between Tuscany and Umbria, this private villa is two miles from the picturesque village of Monterchi and the medieval hamlet of Ripoli and is equipped with its own private pool and Jacuzzi in garden. Prices from £291 per night, villa only.

Il Colle, Antico Podere Di Pomaio, near Arezzo (sleeps 10) – A recently-restored five-bed farmhouse, Podere Il Colle has terracotta floors, beamed ceilings, archways, and stone walls throughout. On a hillside with breathtaking views, it is part of the farm estate comprising olive groves, vineyards, and woodland. Prices from £356 per night, villa only. 

Villa Ianni – Monterchi, Province of Arezzo (sleeps 8) – Villa Ianni is a four- bed stone farmhouse on a hillside in the Tiber Valley. Amid woodland, the house is ideal for lovers of the outdoors, with long walks in the unspoilt Tuscan countryside. The swimming pool is the eye-catching focus of the garden. Prices from £243 per night, villa only. 


Villa Roberto – Montaione, Province of Florence (sleeps 12) – This detached stone house is on a hill just under one mile from the village of Montaione. A short, private track gives access to the property, which is surrounded by a large garden. There’s a swimming pool, and a chef who can prepare dinners and arrange cooking courses. Prices from £301 per night, villa only. 

The agency’s Xplore team can help guests make the most of their Italian escape by finding Renaissance art and culture in Florence, enjoying the historic streets of Sienna, finding the local beaches, visiting the Migliarino San Rossore Massaciuccilo National Park, or hunting down the best tortelli lucchese, a delicacy in Lucca. 

All of its Tuscany properties are within a 40-minute radius of Pisa Airport. 

Natural Retreats operates 32 destinations in Britain, the US, and Europe.

www.naturalretreats.com 


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Travel shorts . . .


THE number of UK tourists visiting #Jamaica the January-August period this year was up by 16.6% on the 2014 total, thanks in part to the continued strength of the pound against the dollar, a reduction in fuel surcharges, the UK’s growing economy, and the growing popularity of eco-tourism and sustainability, both of which are thriving on the island. 
‘The UK’s love affair with Jamaica is going from strength to strength,” said Paul Pennicook, Jamaica’s director of Tourism.






THE Antigua and Barbuda Tourism Authority has announced plans to increase its UK marketing budget by 20% next year in a bid to attract travellers outside the peak winter season. The #Caribbean country is aiming to attract couples without children or with non-school-age children during the off-peak months of May, June, September, and October. Visitor numbers for this summer have increased by between 11%-14.5% compared with June, July, and August 2014.


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Thursday, 26 November 2015

Christmas in … Eastbourne

THIS December will see #Eastbourne in Sussex celebrating its 700th #Christmas by turning the Town Hall’s Grade II listed clock tower into a ‘Neon Noel’ historical luminale show.

The first projection of its kind on the south coast entails a light and audio show being projected onto the tower every evening from December 4 through to the 13th.

And Eastbourne’s bandstand will be home to a traditional Christmas market (December 9-13), where shoppers can buy hand-crafted festive gifts.


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BHA calls for tipping transparency

RESTAURANTS and hotels should be legally required to tell customers how service charges and tips are distributed among staff. That’s the message from the British Hospitality Association (BHA) in a new initiative proposed to the UK government’s business secretary, Sajid Javid.

The BHA – which represents 40,000 hospitality establishments – wants the government to introduce legislation to make businesses reveal what happens to the ‘extras’ customers pay at the end of a meal.

‘For us, it’s all about transparency,’ said Ufi Ibrahim, chief executive of the BHA, which has outlined the proposal in a letter to the business secretary. ‘Although restaurants are legally entitled to deduct administration costs from service charges, for example, we think it’s important that customers understand exactly how much is deducted and why. Customers should be able to reward good service and know where their money ends up and how much of it goes to the staff.’

Many restaurants and hotels have signed up to the association’s voluntary code of transparency on tips and service charges. But now the BHA wants to make it a legal requirement.

It has been illegal for some years for restaurant owners to use tips and service charges to bring wages up to the national minimum wage. Service charges usually goes into a pool, which is distributed among waiters, front of house, and the kitchen team – allocated according to arrangements agreed by the staff.


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Picture Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/29108968@N06/6092858399">Money</a> via <a href="http://photopin.com">photopin</a> <a href="https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/">(license)

Cornwall’s winter warmers

A Cornish Christmas at Pendennis Castle, Falmouth – December 5-6: Fireside tales, music and dancing, craft and gift stalls, and Father Christmas in the castle keep.

Padstow Christmas Festival, Padstow Harbour, December 3 -6: 40 chefs (and 45,000 visitors) celebrate food, drink, and Christmas! 

Rogue Theatre presents Winter Wood, Tehidy Woods, Portreath –December 11-30: Shows with live music, festive stories, free hot chocolate, face painting, and the opportunity to make traditional winter decorations to take home.


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I’m a celeb, get me in there!

LOS ANGELES International Airport is to have a terminal exclusively for the use of celebrities and the world’s wealthiest travellers. The airport’s commissioners have approved plans to redevelop a cargo hanger into a suite for wealthy and famous travellers, the Guardian reports. 

The service – which will enable guests to be dropped off behind closed doors, to avoid press photographers – will cost from $1,500. Passengers will have access to exclusive lounges, restaurants, and separate security checks. When it’s time to board, they will be driven directly to their plane.

According to reports, the plan for the suite promises that guests will have to walk no more than about 60 steps.

Airport managers say they believe the terminal would bring in revenues of $3.7 million in the first year and $34 million over the first 10 years.

Security firm Gavin de Becker & Associates plan to roll out the service to New York (JFK), San Francisco, Miami, Chicago, and Dallas, if the LA venture is successful.

Go Holiday editor David Kernek comments: On paper, this looks like a viable plan, but … for most of the people who pass as celebs these days, getting pictures of them passing through airports and shopping in London, LA, and New York is vital to their continued celebrity.


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Wednesday, 25 November 2015

Travel shorts …

SOUTH AFRICAN province #KwaZulu-Natal is seeking to double its UK visitor numbers as its largest city gears up to host the #2022CommonwealthGames. Durban will be the first African city to hold the sporting event. 

Tourism chief Ndabo Khoza, says the higher profile of the province combined with several new flight options starting in December could double the number of UK arrivals from 48,000 last year to approximately 100,000 by 2022. Mr Khoza said 80% of the infrastructure – including the main athletic stadium and the majority of the 8,000 hotel rooms required – was already in place. 


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Picture Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/35409814@N00/12517089325">Beaded</a> via <a href="http://photopin.com">photopin</a> <a href="https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/">(license)

The verdict on Thomas Cook: costs before customers

A REVIEW of health and safety practices at Thomas Cook following the deaths of two children in Corfu has found that parts of the business put profit before people. 

In a wide-ranging report, written by former Sainsbury's boss Justin King, the tour operator was accused of having a tendency to ‘protect cost rather than maximise the customer experience’.

Mr King, reports Sky News, painted a picture of #ThomasCook as a dysfunctional business, with in-resort staff not empowered to resolve customer crises and equipped so poorly that they frequently had no access to the company’s own website.

He also urged the company and its rivals to re-think the level of disclosure they provide to their customers in areas such as health and safety risk in the wake of the tragedy. He said the travel industry must provide consumers with better information about ‎their rights and the standards they should expect when they travel abroad.

‘The industry has a collective responsibility to help its customers identify real value for money – not just the lowest price’, he said.

Mr King was asked earlier this year by Peter Fankhauser, Thomas Cook's chief executive, ‎to examine the company's approach to such issues following an outcry over its response to the  deaths of Bobby and Christi Shepherd in Corfu in 2006.

The children died from carbon monoxide poisoning caused by a faulty boiler. An inquest jury ruled  in May that they were unlawfully killed. The jury said that Thomas Cook had breached its duty of care towards them after the company had been accused of obstructing their family's efforts to uncover the facts surrounding their deaths. Repeated complaints about Thomas Cook's attitude led its chief executive to publicly apologize‎, but only after it emerged that the company had received a larger compensation payout than the family.

Thomas Cook is now working with Sharon Wood, the mother of the Shepherd children, on a carbon monoxide awareness initiative, which it said on Monday would be launched on November 16.

Mr King also questioned whether the Association of British Travel Agents was well-placed to represent a radically changed travel industry.

In its response to Mr King’s report, Thomas Cook said it ‘made for uncomfortable reading in parts’, but added that it had ‘not stood still since the review was commissioned’. The company pledged to immediately increase the number of staff working overseas and to launch this month a 24-hour hotel satisfaction promise that would empower reps to solve issues in resorts, alongside an additional financial commitment to guarantee that hotels live up to the descriptions that the company provides.

Mr Fankhauser said: ‘It took us nine years to correct the mistakes of the past and to do what everyone would have expected of us; treat the family with the respect and empathy they deserve. We had to learn from this tragedy and do things differently, and this remains our commitment.’


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Malaysia woos British tourists

 
#MALAYSIA is ramping up its efforts to get a bigger share of the UK travel market by highlighting its family holiday offering.  

Theme parks, high quality accommodation and food at value-for-money prices, plus new hotels and airline partnerships are some of the top selling points being promoted by the country’s tourism authorities.

‘We need to position ourselves as a #family #destination,’ says Malaysia’s Minister of Tourism and Culture, Seri Mohamed bin Addul Aziz. ‘There’s never been a better time to go to Malaysia because the Malaysian ringitt is weak against sterling and the destination is good value for money.’ 

Malaysia is boosting its theme park offering to get more families to visit the destination and to fill the 10,000 extra hotel rooms the destination has planned, taking its total room count to 110,000.

In early 2016, Asia’s first animation theme park, Movie Animation Park Studios, will open in Ipoh, Perak, featuring several attractions including a DreamWorks Adventure Zone, and 2017 will see 20th Century Fox World open its doors in the Genting Highlands. 



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Picture Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/37815397@N00/2209146778">local village on sibuan island :)</a> via <a href="http://photopin.com">photopin</a> <a href="https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/">(license), http://www.flickr.com/photos/94246031@N00/3809776253">Viewing Downtown KL from Menara</a> via <a href="http://photopin.com">photopin</a> <a href="https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/2.0/">(license), http://www.flickr.com/photos/27997548@N00/2565328748">Colors</a> via <a href="http://photopin.com">photopin</a> <a href="https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/">(license),