Thursday, 30 June 2016

Whisky Co. launches bespoke Scotland tours

#WHISKY #TOURISM in #Scotland is big business, with some 120 active distilleries, 40 more in the pipeline and visitor numbers reaching upwards of 1.5 million a year. But there are few services providing a personal connection between whisky tourists and the distilleries.

With the industry looking to find new ways to encourage whisky tourism in Scotland, PR manager Kirsty MacGeoch has created a link between the distilleries and visitors, with the launch of Whisky Co. in Edinburgh. It creates itineraries individually suited to guests’ requirements and books all aspects of their trip from transfers to tastings … with a focus on luxury.

‘Whisky is a huge Scottish success story, but there’s a missing link between the distilleries and the whisky lovers coming to visit,’ says Ms. MacGeoch. ‘Everyone has a different taste when it comes to whisky and it’s the same when it comes to holidays. Whisky Co. stands for Whisky Connections, as that’s exactly what we do, provide that connection between the distilleries and the tourists. 

‘I’ve always felt there wasn’t a luxury, personalized service available to the public that offered something special to visitors. Whisky Co. is here to do that, by providing extra-special whisky experiences based on exactly what the customer wants, rather than providing just another pre-packaged whisky holiday. 

‘I wanted to share my knowledge of Scotch and Scotland with the world to ensure visitors get the best out of what our country and its wonderful whisky have to offer.’

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Picture Credit: 32280754@N05/27758397432 Edinburgh Castle via, 37845599@N07/5010330004 Haggis & Whiskey in Dunedin via

Music tourism hits the high notes for Britain

UK MUSIC has published ‘Wish You Were Here -2016’, a study highlighting the contribution made by #livemusic and music tourism to Britain’s economy in 2015. 

The report features both national and regional figures and for the first time reveals the impact of music tourism to twelve UK cities: Norwich, Leicester, Newcastle, Manchester, Belfast, Glasgow, Brighton, Exeter, Cardiff, Coventry, Hull, and London.

The study’s finding included:

  • A total audience of 27.7 million attended live music events in the UK in 2015. 
  • More people are watching live music locally …. 17.3 million local residents attended music events in their area in 2015. This was up by 14% from 2014. 
  • 3.7 million attended a #festival in 2015 in the UK, and 24 million attended a concert. 
  • Music tourism generated £3.7 billion in direct and indirect spend in the UK last year, up by 7% on the previous year. 
  • There were 10.4 million music tourists in the UK in 2015, 38% of the whole live music audience. 
  • Overseas music tourism increased by 16% to 767,000 visitors. 
  • There were 39,034 full time jobs in the UK sustained by music tourism. 
  • Music tourists generated a £549 million box office spend on tickets in 2015, £38 million of which came from tickets bought by foreign tourists. 

Jo Dipple, UK Music Chief Executive commented: ‘The appetite for live music continues to grow. Last year overseas music tourism increased by 16%, whilst British music events were attended by a staggering 27.7 million people in 2015. What this report shows, unequivocally, is the economic value of live music to communities, cities and regions.’ 

*UK Music is the umbrella organization which represents the collective interests of the country’s commercial music industry, including artists, musicians, songwriters and composers, record labels, music publishers, and studio producers.

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Industry stakeholders have their say on Brexit

‘Holidaymakers shouldn’t assume that Brexit means all that will be lost. The UK travel market is vital to the economy of many European countries and regions’

Joel Brandon-Bravo, UK managing director of Travelzoo:

“Following confirmation of a win for the Leave vote, the next 24 months of negotiations will be crucial for #British #travel – particularly if the UK Government wants to maintain in-bound tourism from the European Union and avoid a price hike for Britons wanting to travel abroad for holidays.

Obviously top priority is dealing with the impact the referendum result will have on the value of the pound, but there are other factors that could make the result a big blow for the travel industry. As such, we’re now urging the government to act quickly to re-negotiate how an independent UK operates in The European Common Aviation Area. UK airlines seem unanimous in the opinion that a #Brexit will lead to reduced competition, reduced routes, and higher travel prices.

Other factors now up for negotiation include the loss of the EHIC card – which gives EU members the right to health treatment in any EU country – a potential increase in phone roaming charges following a recent EU initiative cap on charges, and changes to visa regulations for Britons travelling to the EU.

With so many variables in play, it’s difficult to predict the exact impact the Leave vote will have on the tourism industry, but research suggests it will be a negative one. In order to ensure UK travellers and the UK tourism industry do not suffer as we enter the busiest months for travel, the British government has got to enter negotiations with Brussels immediately over the EU policy which impacts travel.”

Andrew Shelton, managing director of global flight search and travel deals website,

“The referendum result will throw the spotlight onto many benefits British travellers have taken for granted for years, including the agreements which created the environment for the budget airlines to thrive and kept airfares low across the board and encouraged the free movement of people, a currency deal that has made the Eurozone so cheap to visit for years, the end of mobile data roaming charges, and free healthcare within the EU.

Nobody could predict the outcome of the referendum, and we now face an uncertain future of speculation and re-negotiation. Those who have thought ahead and conducted thorough scenario planning for this eventuality are those who are best placed to navigate this new pathway – although we fear few will have done so given today’s shocked reactions.

Holidaymakers shouldn’t assume that Brexit means all that will be lost. The UK travel market is vital to the economy of many European countries and regions. It will be in their interests to seek ways to maintain the status quo. The government must now work hard to secure deals with the EU that support our vibrant industry and we believe maximum effort will be going in from all sides in the coming months and years to ensure the UK cash cow isn’t put out to pasture.

Some holidaymakers will be deterred from booking by the falling pound, but the British traveller has proven time and time again that nothing will stand in the way of them having their hard-earned holiday.”

Steve Witt, managing director of Not Just Travel and The Travel Franchise:

“Despite any exit from Europe taking two years or more to really happen, the biggest effect we will see in the short term is currency fluctuation and market uncertainty.

This means that the prices of travel and holidays could be affected in the future as we don’t know what the effect of currency changes will have on the price of holidays, hotels, fuel etc. Prices for the coming 6-12 months have probably already been fixed and guaranteed with tour operators, holiday companies, and hoteliers, therefore now is a good time to book a holiday.

We might see some prices rise in the future as things settle down, but we also might not because of the important aspect our tourism has on the world economy. The amount of money Brits spend abroad is considerable, so whether we are part of Europe or not, countries such as Greece, Turkey, Cyprus, Spain and many other top holiday destinations need our business.”

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Norwegian introduces two new Manchester routes

NORWEGIAN has expanded its services at Manchester Airport with the addition of two new routes to Malaga and Alicante. 

The airline is now operating four weekly flights from Manchester to Malaga on Mondays, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays, followed by two weekly flights – on Fridays and Sundays – to Alicante.

With the new routes, passengers in Manchester and the north-west will have access to almost 130,000 more seats in time for the summer with fares to both destinations starting from £34.90.

Norwegian, which launched its first UK flights in 2003, operates from London Gatwick, Edinburgh, Birmingham, and Manchester Airports to more than 40 destinations worldwide. It also claims to be the only airline offering UK passengers direct low-cost flights to the US. Direct flights from London Gatwick to eight US destinations, including New York, Boston, Oakland-San Francisco, and Las Vegas are available from £149.

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Wednesday, 29 June 2016

At-Bristol celebrates record visitor numbers

AT-BRISTOL SCIENCE CENTRE, an educational charity and one of the UK's leading interactive science centres, is celebrating a record number of visitors for the last financial year, when welcomed more than 304,000 visitors through its doors, including 62,100 schools visitors … a 13% increase on the previous year.

A contributing factor to the rise in visitor numbers was the opening of the revamped Planetarium, the UK's only 3D digital planetarium, which has welcomed 123,358 visitors since re-opening in April 2015.

Phil Winfield, At-Bristol's Chief Executive said: ‘We're dedicated to sparking and fostering that natural curiosity that people have about the world around us, and we're trying to create the maximum impact by giving people a genuinely inspiring experience here in #AtBristol. We've got lots of exciting initiatives in the pipeline.

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At Blenheim Palace, this summer

Upstairs Tour – Discover the world of the aristocracy at #BlenheimPalace in the new Upstairs Tour. Explore the guest Rooms, none of which have been open to the public before. Previous guests have included Queen Mary, King Edward VIII and Wallis Simpson, Cecil Beaton, and Yves Saint Lauren. 

… and Downstairs – Servants were essential to the aristocratic way of life. It would have been completely impossible for the family to take care of themselves, to manage the house, look after the children, and let alone host fancy dinner parties without the help of servants. Bring your grandchildren to learn all about life below stairs at Blenheim Palace.

#Jousting Tournament – Knights will do battle in a daring display of bravery and skill. Watch a falconry display and see the birds of prey in action. Families can also have a go at archery. August 19-21.

Capability' Brown Viewpoints Trail – Discover views and vistas created by Brown and his workmen between 1763 and 1774.

Train rides – The Blenheim Palace Train takes visitors to the Pleasure Gardens, designed for families with an adventure playground, a maze, butterfly house, and lavender garden. The train runs every 30 minutes daily between the Palace and Pleasure Gardens.

For full details, go to

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Cavemen tales told in new Cheddar Gorge attraction

A £400,000 investment at #CheddarGorge and Caves in #Somerset has seen the opening of a new attraction exploring the experience of early cave dwellers. 

Dreamhunters – The Adventures of Early Man at Cox’s Cave takes visitors on a journey from pre-history to the present day. It is the first new attraction at Cheddar Gorge in almost a quarter of a century and tells the story of how our ancestors made tools and weapons.

Discovered in 1837, Cox’s Cave comprises several small grottoes and chambers, linked by low archways. The natural setting – with the help of modern projectors, sound systems, and lighting – provides the backdrop for the new self-guided trail.

Access to Dreamhunters is included in the general admission price of a visit to Cheddar Gorge and Caves, which includes Cox’s Cave, Gough’s Cave, the Museum of Prehistory, the Lookout Tower, Cliff-top Gorge Walk, and the Gorge Open-top bus.

Group rates apply to parties of 12 or more paying visitors, and can be purchased in advance.

Cheddar has the UK’s largest gorge and the site is an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

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Loch Lomond waterbus service extended

LOCH LOMOND’S waterbus service has been extended to take in additional locations, giving visitors more choice when exploring the area. 

The waterbus will operate a new service between Loch Lomond Shores in Balloch to Inchmurrin and Inchcailloch, giving people access to two of the lake’s most popular islands.

Fifty minutes by train from Glasgow, Balloch is the southern gateway to the National Park. Holidaymakers can also travel from Glasgow directly to Arrochar/Tarbet train station and after a ten-minute walk to Tarbet pier, they will be able to explore the most northern parts of Loch Lomond by waterbus. Both options are an excellent choice for walkers and cyclists.

The service between Ardlui and Ardleish provides access to points along the West Highland Way. In addition, there’s increased frequency of the service between Luss and Balmaha providing more opportunities to explore Conic Hill, the Millennium Trail, and the Hidden Treasures Path.

For those wanting to explore beyond Loch Lomond, the waterbus can be taken to Inversnaid and from there it’s a walk or cycle ride (on hilly terrain) to Stronachlachar. From there, visitors can sail on Loch Katrine – made famous by Sir Walter Scott’s poem The Lady of the Lake – or cycle on relatively flat terrain around the lake. 

Mairi Bell, head of tourism for Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park said: ‘This year, it’s easier than ever for visitors to leave their car at home and explore Loch Lomond and beyond. We’ve seen a rise in people wanting to take in the spectacular scenery of the National Park by foot, by bike, by boat, or by a combination of the three. Now, more than ever, visitors can join up their journeys and experience a wide range of activities that allow them to make the most of their visit.’

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Tuesday, 28 June 2016

Flybe franchise partner Blue Islands takes off

FLYBE’S third franchise partner, Blue Islands, has taken to the skies, providing 1,100 flights a month on its Guernsey-Jersey, Guernsey-Southampton, Jersey-Bristol, Jersey-London City, and Jersey-Southampton services.

Vincent Hodder, Flybe’s chief revenue officer, said: ‘The start of Blue Islands’ Flybe franchise operation marks a significant milestone for both airlines, creating an exciting synergy between two of the Channel Islands’ best known airlines.

‘Through the services they offer, we look forward to bringing the world to the islands’ doorstep, providing customers with increased efficiencies and access to a greater choice of UK and European connections.’

Existing Blue Islands’ passenger’ bookings have been transferred to the new Flybe services. The only change will be a different flight number and booking reference.

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Boom in beach brides as Brits opt for overseas weddings

TRAVEL agents are seeing increased demand for #beach #wedding locations, according to research by Post Office International Payments. 

The research, which involved telephone interviews with 115 travel agents, has shown that Cyprus was the number one overseas wedding destination over the course of the last 12 months and travel agents predict this will continue over the next year. There is confidence that international weddings market is set to grow over the coming year, with 58 percent expecting budgets for overseas weddings to increase by an average of 12 percent, compared to just five percent who think budgets will get smaller.

The top five destinations for overseas weddings all offer a high chance of sunshine, with the Caribbean Islands the second most popular destination followed by Greece, Italy and Mexico. 

Between June and September, traditionally the busiest months for weddings, Post Office International Payments sees a 40 percent increase in the average value of payments sent abroad for wedding-related expenses compared to the rest of the year.

Rob Scott, MoneyGram® manager Post Office, said: ‘With the risk of rain ruining wedding photos in the UK, it is easy to see the attraction of getting married on a beach in the sun. It is no longer a case of eloping abroad; with cheap flights and hotels people increasingly hold the full scale celebrations for large numbers of guests overseas.

‘Organizing an international wedding inevitably involves a lot of high value payments to overseas suppliers. But the cost of these payments can really mount up if you automatically use a High Street bank, which often charges around £25 per transaction. Specialist international payments providers are an easy way to reduce these costs, offering peace of mind as couples can lock in an exchange rate for up to a year saving themselves money if the pound weakens in that time.’

Although beach locations were the type of destination showing the biggest growth in popularity, one in three travel agents also reported growth in demand for countryside locations, and 28 percent for city locations. Others reported increased demand for getting married near historical monuments, in mountain or jungle locations, or on cruise ships.

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Tourism & the Windsors

AS a series of lavish ceremonies are held to mark Queen Elizabeth’s 90th birthday, Travelzoo has looked at the question of whether the Royal Family are in tourism terms worth the estimated £37.9 million it costs UK taxpayers to keep it in the style to which it’s accustomed. 

Travelzoo's global survey of tourists* revealed that Italians are the biggest supporters of the #British monarchy, with almost 60% citing the #Royalfamily as one of the factors that makes the UK an attractive holiday destination. Almost half of Canadian (49%) and US travellers (48%) are also drawn to Britain because of the Queen and the Royal family, but not everyone is as enthralled – just 19% of German, 15% of French, and only 10% of Spanish travellers want to come to the UK because of the British monarchy.

US visitors contribute 7% of in-bound tourism spend in the UK, while French, German, Italian and Spanish travellers contribute almost a third (29%) – a combined £7.7 billion between them.

‘The UK makes £106 billion from tourism each year – 3,000 times more than UK taxpayers spend on keeping the Royal Family – and there's no denying that the Queen and the royal family play a role in making Britain a more appealing travel destination,’ said Louise Hodges at Travelzoo.

The Travelzoo survey asked respondents if they believed the Queen and royal family played an important part in the UK's tourism industry: 70% said yes.

Say Ms Hodges: ‘Buckingham Palace and the royal palaces have been in the top ten UK tourist attractions for decades now, attracting a record 2.5 million paying visitors in 2014, and contributing £55 million to the UK economy.’

*Travelzoo's survey was conducted using an online questionnaire in the five largest European Union member states by population, plus the US and Canada. The questionnaire was completed by 4,950 Travelzoo members.

Go Holiday editor David Kernek comments: ‘I suspect it might be possible to exaggerate the value of the Windsors to Britain’s tourism industry. Firstly, the cost of keeping them is disputed; campaign group Republic says the annual £37.9 million sovereign grant from the Treasury takes no account of the cost – also borne by taxpayers – of security. Secondly, while it’s undoubtedly the case that the royal palaces – Buckingham Palace, Windsor Castle, Holyroodhouse (Edinburgh), Hillsborough (Belfast), Clarence House, Kensington Palace, and St, James's Palace, to name only seven – are big attractions, similarly majestic real estate in France, Germany, Austria, and Russia is also a big draw, even though these countries are republics. Thirdly, I think that much of the appeal of the British monarchy – and its continued popularity – derives specifically from the way in which Queen Elizabeth II has reigned. It will be interesting to see if and how that changes when the crown passes to the heir?’

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Drownings as selfie craze gets fatal

THRILL SEEKERS are visiting the coastlines of Britain with the intention of taking selfies in the most dangerous poses, and the craze is often landing them in trouble … many are ending up dead. 

The Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) reports that the desire to catch the perfect pose has led to the deaths of 92 people over the past two years. The RNLI reports saving almost 385 lives in near fatal incidents.

People go far too close to slippery, unstable, and uneven cliff edges to take their picture with the coastline in the background. Many have fallen into the sea.

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Monday, 27 June 2016

Brexit will have 'no material impact' – easyJet

HAVING joined the chorus of doom warning of, er, doom during the EU referendum, easyJet has expressed confidence that the UK’s Brexit vote will not have a ‘material impact’ on its low-cost strategy.

The airline says it had been preparing for this eventuality in the lead up to the referendum vote and has been working on a number of options that will allow it to continue flying in all of its markets.

easyJet’s initial focus will be to accelerate discussions with UK and EU governments and regulators to ensure that the UK remains part of the single EU aviation market. It would ensure that consumers continue to benefit from low-fares and would mean easyJet and other airlines can continue to operate as they do now.

However, easyJet admitted that it will also continue to develop ‘alternative options’ that will fully maintain its existing network and operations.

A statement said: ‘easyJet is confident that its unique network, digital leadership, cost advantage, and financial strength will enable it to continue to execute on its strategy and to deliver long term sustainable earnings growth and returns to shareholders.’

Says chief executive Carolyn McCall: ‘We remain confident in the strength of easyJet’s business model and our ability to continue to deliver our successful strategy and our leading returns. We have today written to the UK government and the European Commission to ask them to prioritize the UK remaining part of the single EU aviation market, given its importance to trade and consumers.’

Meanwhile, BMI Regional has warned that it might quit its UK base because of the uncertainty and complexity thrown up by the referendum vote to leave the European Union.

Peter Simpson, chief executive of the regional carrier, said: ‘The vote has created, first and foremost, a lot of uncertainty about the future of the UK, the EU, and Europe as a whole. For a business such as BMI Regional, being heavily influenced by the freedom of trade and traffic, this uncertainty will undoubtedly add a layer of complexity to our business. BMI Regional will keenly monitor developments over the coming weeks and months to assess the challenges and opportunities they will create for the business. It is, however, safe to say, that our continued business domicile as a UK entity is less than clear at this point in time.’

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Branson’s Necker Island available for September bookings

RICHARD BRANSON’S private #island in the British Virgin Islands, #Necker, is available for booking on selected dates this summer. 

Guests can book a seven night stay for the following dates:

  • September 3 for 3, 4, 5 and 7 nights 
  • September 10 for 3,4,5 and 7 nights 
  • September 17 for 3, 4, 5 and 7 nights (adults only) 
  • September 24 for 7 nights (adults only) 

Rates per couple start from USD $12,840 for a 3-night stay.

Go to to check availability online.

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Jorvik: Home & Abroad

AN EXHIBITION from York’s Jorvik Viking Centre will move to nearby York St Mary’s in a partnership with York Museums Trust.

York St Mary’s is a medieval church which opened as a contemporary visual art venue in 2004. Jorvik is currently closed, following flood damage in December 2015, and is expected to re-open in spring 2017.

The exhibition, which will run until early 2017, focuses on the trade that made York a powerful centre of international commerce.

Sarah Maltby, director of attractions for York Archaeological Trust, says: ‘Even though Jorvik Viking Centre itself has been closed for more than five months, we are still getting hundreds of people coming along every day with a thirst for Norse knowledge, so having a fantastic exhibition that tells a key part of Jorvik’s commercial story literally in the adjacent building is a great way of keeping the story alive, while we continue to re-build and re-imagine the attraction beneath their feet.’

The exhibition – Jorvik: Home & Abroad – will feature artefacts taken from York’s Viking collections, alongside tableaux from the Jorvik Viking Centre displays which remained above the waterline during last December’s floods.  The exhibition will also provide a temporary home for Jorvik’s team of historic-costumed interpreters, who will share their knowledge with visitors.

Jorvik: Home & Abroad will run from June 25 until late February 2017, when the artefacts start to return to Jorvik Viking Centre.

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'Ryanair Holidays' coming soon

#RYANAIR is looking to set up a holidays division, which could be launched within 18 months. The airline, which launched Ryanair Car Hire last August and has announced plans for a Ryanair Rooms business, said it has 'Ryanair Holidays' firmly in mind. 

Chief marketing officer Kenny Jacobs says Ryanair Holidays was a 'logical step' for the airline, which is looking to become a digital provider of all things travel-related. But he said the next focus is more likely to be on selling events, tours, and excursions in the destinations it serves. 

‘We've got car hire, we've announced Ryanair Rooms, and third on our list is events and tours and things to do at the destination, including excursions, restaurant bookings, and theatre tickets. Holidays would be the fourth on the list. If we did all of those things in 18 months, you would perhaps be surprised, but here at Ryanair we move quite quickly. It might even come sooner.’

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Sunday, 26 June 2016

Edinburgh Airport launches major consultation

EDINBURGH AIRPORT has started a consultation exercise to get views on the potential impact of altering flight paths above the city and the surrounding areas to allow for maximum operational benefits and to minimize community impact.

The airport is the busiest in Scotland and has experienced more growth in the past three years than it did in the 10 years prior. It’s now handling more than 11.1 million passengers a year. Its airspace was designed in the 1970s, when it had approximately one million passengers annually.

The airport’s chief executive, Gordon Dewar, says: ‘Our international route network has grown to become the envy of many similar-sized European airports. The strong levels of growth we have experienced since 2013 resulted in the airport handling over 11.1 million passengers last year. However, this constant growth in passenger numbers presents us with challenges. We need to modernize and improve Edinburgh Airport in a way that maximizes the benefits across Scotland and minimizes the impact on local communities. The objective of the first stage of the consultation is to gain responses from the public that will help us inform the design of any potential future flight paths. We want everyone to know they have the opportunity to have their say on the positioning of potential future flight path changes.

‘We are absolutely committed to undertaking a robust and meaningful consultation process.’

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Climate change degrading World Heritage Sites, says UN

MORE than 30 natural and cultural heritage sites from 29 countries across the globe are becoming vulnerable because of the dangerous effects of climate change. Increasing temperature, sea water levels, intense weather conditions, flood and famine, and wildfires are the side effects of the climate change, which directly or indirectly are damaging the structures of 31 World Heritage Sites, which include Venice, Galapagos Islands, and Stonehenge, says the United Nations (UN). 

Elisa Tonda, head of the UN Environment Programme, says: ‘World governments, the private sector, and tourists all need to co-ordinate their efforts to reduce carbon emissions and to protect the world’s most treasured cultural and natural resources from the impact of tourism activities.’

A report by the UNESCO and the Union of Concerned Scientists says that some of the Easter Island statues are at high risk of disappearing into the sea, and that many coral reefs in the western Pacific are eroding.

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Wildlife cruises to Guernsey

A TEAM from wildlife charity MARINElife has been training volunteers on board Condor Ferries ships as they prepare for a summer season of wildlife spotting on the cross-Channel service. 

Training to become Wildlife Officers for MARINElife, the volunteers will be on a number of day trips to the Channel Islands offered by Condor Ferries. Sailing from Poole to #Guernsey, the trips offer passengers the opportunity to see marine mammals and seabirds.

MARINElife is a Dorset-based research, education, and conservation charity conducting year-round scientific surveys of whales, dolphins, and seabirds.

Alicia Andrews at Condor says: ‘We’re delighted to offer MARINElife day trips to Guernsey this summer, and give our passengers this fascinating experience. There is a wealth of wildlife just waiting to be discovered on our sailing routes, and with a wildlife officer on hand, the trip will not only be enjoyable but also informative. We hope all our wildlife watching daytrippers have a wonderful day out and are delighted that these trips will also help to raise funds for MARINElife to continue this important work.’

MARINElife day trips with Condor Ferries will run on these dates from Poole to Guernsey on Condor Liberation: 

June: 23, 29

July: 7, 13, 18, 27

August: 1, 10, 16, 24, 30

September 8, 14, 22, 27

October: 6, 12, 21

Daytrip tickets cost £20 per person, which includes a £5 donation to MARINElife when booked online using the promotion code 'MARINE' at

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TFL welcomes visitors to London with travel tips

TRAVELLING around #London could become easier for #tourists after Transport for London’s creation of a series of top #traveltips films to help customers get the most out of the city. 

The short films help visitors to understand ticket options and navigate the transport network.

The films – with subtitles in English, Spanish, Italian, French, German, and Dutch, give the following advice for tourists:

  • Travel around London easily with a Visitor Oyster card 
  • Yellow card readers 
  • How to move around a station 
  • Try out some of the different ways to travel, such as Santander Cycles and river services 
  • The busiest times on the network

For the majority of visitors, the most convenient and flexible way to travel is by pay as you go using a Visitor Oyster card or a contactless payment card. Customers can simply touch in and out on the yellow card readers at a station, or touch in only on a bus stop.

Visitor Oyster cards can be purchased online or from a travel agent ahead of a trip to London. The cards also carry special offers and discounts at restaurants, shops, galleries, and entertainment venues.

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Saturday, 25 June 2016

Manchester-Beijing direct

THE first direct scheduled service from outside London to mainland #China has taken off from #Manchester Airport. The four-times-a-week Hainan Airlines service to Beijing has been hailed as a significant boost for the region and the government’s ‘Northern Powerhouse’ ambitions. 

The flights will give the 100,000 passengers who travel each year between the two cities the convenience of direct scheduled services.

The Manchester-Beijing route is estimated to be worth at least £250 million in economic benefits to the UK over the next decade. Two-thirds of this is expected to directly benefit the northern economy in terms of increased jobs, economic activity, and tourism.

Sally Balcombe, VisitEngland/VisitBritain chief executive, said: ‘We want to deliver a world-class visitor experience for Chinese visitors and making it easier for them to get here is a crucial part of our competitive tourism offer. We want to double the spend from Chinese visitors to £1 billion by 2020 and Hainan’s new direct route to Manchester will not only make it easier for visitors to come and explore regional Britain but also help us to deliver our ambitious plans for growth for this rapidly expanding market.’

Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport John Whittingdale added: ‘This new route is a major breakthrough that will help boost tourism in the north of England. China is a hugely important trading partner, and more Chinese visitors coming to the UK is great news for the tourism industry and the whole economy.’

The service departs on Friday, Saturday, Monday, and Wednesday, with return fares from £487.

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Deals on Dartmoor

WEST COUNTRY COTTAGES is offering a cash-saving deal for stays at a thatched Dartmoor cottage.

Appletree Cottage, in the hamlet of Higher Brimley, near Bovey Tracey, is available for a week from Friday, June 24 or August 19 for £528, saving £102 on the full three- or four-person price of £630.

The cottage has thick cob walls, original leaded windows, and a living room with beamed ceiling and a woodburner in the stone fireplace.

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Boom year for theme parks

ATTENDANCE at top #themeparks, #waterparks, and #museums has grew significantly in 2015, including a five percent increase at the top 25 theme parks. 

Research published by Aecom and the Themed Entertainment Association shows that:

  • Business in the amusement park industry has grown by seven percent for the 10 major theme park groups 
  • Attendance at the top 20 water parks grew by four percent 
  • Museum attendance grew by three percent in North America. 

Attendance at theme parks across the world saw growth in 2015, thanks in part to the performance of major Asian and US operators, including Disney, Universal, and OCT Parks China.

Overall, the number of visitors to amusement parks in North America climbed by six percent and almost seven percent in Asia. In total, there were 420 million visits to attractions run by the top 10 global theme park groups, an increase of 7.2 percent.

‘Global theme park attendance was driven largely by strong performance of the major Asian and US operators,’ says AECOM senior vice president, John Robinett, ‘Water parks saw healthy attendance improvements of almost 4 percent with most markets doing well. Museums, while having a few stand-outs with double digit growth such as the Hermitage in Russia and the Shanghai Science and Technology Museum, held steady overall.’

SeaWorld San Diego is one of the only parks in North America to see a drop in attendance, while Disneyland, Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom, Universal Studios Hollywood, Universal Studios Orlando, and others all saw numbers increase from last year.

Numbers-wise, total attendance at the world’s top 25 theme parks in 2015 was 235,568,000, with the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World, Florida leading the league with 20,492,000 and the Songcheng Lijiang Romance Park in China at No.25 with 4,678,000 visitors.

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Don’t let breakdowns break the bank

AIRPORT PARKING AND HOTELS (APH) has created a guide comparing car breakdown cover and assistance policies. 

It looks at 61 breakdown cover and assistance policies offered by 20 vehicle insurance providers including the AA, Direct Line, and RAC and compares the annual breakdown cover cost for one named-driver vehicle, the level of assistance provided, the radius of recovery location, call-out charges and any additional add-ons available. The cost varies from £16.45 a year for One Star Cover from, which includes standard UK roadside assistance, to £134 a year for European breakdown cover from ASDA Money, which covers roadside assistance and recovery at any location in the UK and mainland Europe.

If a vehicle cannot be fixed at the roadside, all 61 of the insurance policies researched will tow a vehicle to a nearby garage. Thirteen policies extend this to any location within a 10-25 mile radius of the breakdown location, and 30, including Finest cover with Tesco Bank and UK Recovery with LV, will tow the vehicle to any UK location of the driver's choice. Drivers with Green Flag should note that the towing distance is limited to 10 miles for vehicles with a flat tyre. 

For those looking for extra security in breakdown situations, 29 policies, including all policies from The Co-operative Travel and UK Cover from Drive 24-7, offer onward travel as standard to policyholders in the form of overnight accommodation or car rental.

Ten policies, including Recovery EXTRA from GEM Motoring and Rescue & Recovery from Aviva, will provide an alternative driver should the main driver become unfit to drive.

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Friday, 24 June 2016

International tourism’s sixth straight year of growth

INTERNATIONAL tourist arrivals grew by 4.4% in 2015 to reach a total of 1.18 billion in 2015, the sixth consecutive year of growth, according to the United Nations  World Tourism Organization (UNWTO). Demand remained strong overall, though with mixed results across individual #destinations due to exchange rate fluctuations, increased safety and security concerns, and the drop in oil prices.

Growth in advanced economy destinations (+5%) exceeded that of emerging economies (+4%), boosted by the solid results of Europe (+5%). By region, Europe, the Americas, and Asia and the Pacific all recorded approximately 5% growth in 2015. Arrivals in the Middle East increased by 3% while data in Africa, albeit limited, pointed to an estimated 3% decrease largely due to weak results in North Africa, which accounts for over one third of arrivals in the region.

Taleb Rifai, UNWTO Secretary-General said: ‘Warmer temperatures, rising sea levels, coastal erosion, and biodiversity loss threaten tourism’s very future in many locations. With its manifold socio-economic benefits and broad influence on a diverse range of sectors, #tourism can and should also be a valuable part of the solution. We must therefore place the fight against climate change at the centre of tourism development, along with effective resource management, poverty reduction, and inclusive growth.’

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Book now … for 2017!

TO #TUSCANY is selling holidays for 2017 and is urging guests to move fast to secure the property of choice.

‘One-bedroom cottages with private pools are always the first to sell out,’ cautions the villa agency’s Sean Caulfield. ‘Big villas for large gatherings are also in high demand. As for timing, the school summer holidays are obviously high season, but the weeks around Pentecost, late May, and early June, are also a very busy period.’

To Tuscany has more than 760 #villas and apartments in the region, ranging from budget studios to an 11-bedroom, 15-bathroom villa sleeping up to 23.

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‘Period of uncertainty ahead’: UK travel industry reacts to Brexit vote

THE UK travel trade’s two main industry bodies – the Association of British Travel Agents (ABTA) and UKinbound – have warned of turbulent times ahead following the country’s decision to #leave the European Union.

In the immediate aftermath of the #referendum vote, UKinbound CEO Deirdre Wells warned of ‘far-reaching consequences’ for its 370 business members.

‘UKinbound feels the decision to leave the #EU is disappointing,’ she said. ‘However, we have proved time and again that we are a resilient industry and the government must now work hard to secure a deal which supports our vibrant industry, which relies on the European Union for two-thirds of its business. The priority must now be to ensure that our members have the best possible environment in which to grow their business and to support them in welcoming visitors from all corners of the globe.’

ABTA said while the UK trade was entering a ‘period of uncertainty’, in regulatory terms there will not be any immediate changes.

‘Once the UK formally notifies the EU of its intention to leave, the remaining member states will have up to two years to offer the UK a deal for a future trading relationship. This period can also be extended if all parties agree. Until this process is resolved, everything will remain as it is now.’

ABTA reiterated that its role was to help keep the industry informed, to help the public to remain confident in travelling, and to help the government to understand and prioritize those matters that are important to ‘our members and our industry’.

‘ABTA will be working proactively with the government to raise awareness of the priorities for travel businesses, and UK travellers, as they negotiate a future trading relationship. We started this process some months ago, with a programme of engagement with ‘leave’ campaigners in Westminster, and we have prepared a detailed list of policy and regulatory priorities that we will be discussing with leading policymakers in the coming weeks. It will also be important to ensure that the industry’s domestic agenda is not neglected, and ABTA will continue to press for action on airport capacity, ATOL reform, which remains relevant whatever the future of the EU’s Package Travel Directive, and Air Passenger Duty.’

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Cornwall top in best staycations poll

#CORNWALL, the Lake District, and the Scottish Highlands have been named the most desirable summer staycation destinations in the UK, according to a survey of British holidaymakers by

Staycation holidays are tipped for another boom year following a seven percent rise to a bumper 105 million trips made last year. 

In the survey of 2,000 adults, Cornwall took first place for the most popular destination, with the Lake District and the Scottish Highlands in second and third places respectively. The Yorkshire Dales and Norfolk Broads were fourth and fifth in the listing.

When asked which type of accommodation they prefer for a staycation getaway, 27 percent chose a leisure vehicle over a hotel option.

Says Pete Cue, founder and director of ‘It’s no wonder leisure vehicles continue to be so popular with staycation holidays. Leisure vehicle ownership continues to rise year-on-year and isn’t showing any signs of slipping up. They offer the freedom and flexibility to explore hidden gems in the UK, whenever you want. Not only that, but you can take your furry friend to enjoy the ride.’

Comfort Insurance is a specialist cover provider for leisure vehicles including campervans, motorhomes, and caravans.

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Thursday, 23 June 2016

UK hospitality industry split over Brexit

A SURVEY of operators in the UK hospitality industry has found that 49% plan to vote leave in Thursday’s EU Referendum, while 43% plan to vote remain and 7% are still undecided. 

The survey by RPBi, the hospitality data specialist, found that the majority of recipients – whether voting to leave or to remain – believe a leave vote would have a ‘negative impact on the economy’.

The B2B survey received 1,915 responses from operators across all sectors of the hospitality industry. The aim: To determine the industry’s thoughts on the EU Referendum and the impact on recruitment and investment in the UK hospitality industry in the event of a leave vote.

Respondents taking part in the survey were asked the official referendum question: “Should the United Kingdom remain a member of the European Union or leave the European Union?”

Hospitality professionals in Wales were most in favour of voting to leave (64%), whilst those in London are the most likely to vote remain with 62.5%. Furthermore, the figures suggest that there will be more operators in Scotland voting to remain than leave; in all other regions, a higher percentage of hospitality professionals intend to vote leave. B&Bs and caterers are more likely to vote leave, with restaurants, hotels, and head offices more likely to vote remain.

Respondents, which included business owners and decision-makers, were also asked: “If the UK votes to leave the European Union, do you think it will be easier to recruit staff?” The majority thought there would be no impact (51%), with 34% stating it would be harder to recruit, 7% said it would be easier, to recruit and 8.5% said they “don’t know”.

Commenting on the results of the survey, Keith Britten, director of RPBi, said: ‘The results of the survey mirror recent national opinion polls. Surprisingly, for the hospitality industry, the majority of respondents said that there would be no impact on recruitment in the event of a leave vote; with only a third saying it would be harder to recruit.’

Further findings suggest that the older the respondent, the more likely they would be to vote leave – more than 50% of those over 55 intend to vote leave, as opposed to 26% for 25-34 year olds. Also, men are more likely to vote leave than women (50% vs 46%).

When asked “If the UK votes to leave the European Union, what do you think the impact will be on investment into the UK’s hospitality industry?”, more than a third of recipients said there would be “no impact” (38%), while 36% thought there would be reduced investment. In all, 13.5% stated there would be increased investment, and 12% said they “don’t know”.

Mr Britten concluded: ‘After analyzing the comments and survey results, the one key fact that stands out is that whichever way people decide to vote, the majority believe that a leave vote would have a negative impact on the economy. However, those voting to leave suggest that the negative impact will be short-lived and the benefits will be reaped in the long-term.”

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