Sunday, 31 July 2016

2016 boom for Corsica ferry bookings

DIRECT FERRIES – an online ferry comparison site – says the French island of #Corsica is its number one island destination this year with bookings up by 163% in the first six months of 2016.

The island has more than 200 beaches and clear waters, making it attractive for holidaymakers interested in scuba-diving, jet-skiing, yachting, and canoeing. Inland, activities include hiking, horse riding, mountain biking, rafting, and canyoning.

Direct Ferries flags up six lines that offer a total of 21 routes to Corsica from France and Italy.

Departures from mainland France are available from Toulon, Nice, and Marseille, while from Italy, ferries depart from Savona, Genoa, Livorno, and Piombino. Crossings operate year round.

Prices start at £168 return for a car and up to four passengers.

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Countryfile Live at Blenheim

BBC #COUNTRYFILE LIVE has announced more details of what to expect from the unique event taking place at Blenheim Palace in Oxfordshire next month – August 4-7.

There will be four areas dedicated to animals, including the Equine Village and The Dog Arena, plus four areas for food lovers, including the Food Heroes Kitchen, National Trust Cookery Theatre, and the Food Market.

The centerpiece of Countryfile Live will be an arena show 'The Countryfile Calendar' featuring presenters from the programme. Guests will experience the sights, sounds, and the smells of country life as they are taken on a journey through time and the seasons.

For foodies, former Ready, Steady, Cook TV chef Brian Turner will run cookery sessions in the Food Heroes Kitchen, and the National Trust Cookery Theatre will see chefs, including This Morning's Phil Vickery, Iron Chef UK Winner Marcus Bean, and Great British Bake Off Champion John Whaite, showcase produce from National Trust tenant farmers and estates.

Animal highlights include The Sheep Show, Parade of Hounds, The Dog and Duck Show, and falconry and shire horse displays. Farmer Adam Henson is bringing his animals to Countryfile Live. At Adam's Farm, visitors will meet rare breeds and farm livestock.

The National Trust will be hosting debates on current issues affecting rural Britain, and talks by bushcraft expert Ray Mears, BBC Radio 4's Martha Kearney, and writer Will Self.

On the Village Green, there’ll be Tug-of-War, Morris dancing, Punch-and-Judy, a vintage funfair and traditional village fete games.

Thrill-seekers might want to check out the Mitsubishi Motors' 4x4 Challenge, in which they get behind the wheel for some off-road action.

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More than a third of Brit travellers ‘disappointed’ by hotel accommodation

‘If you book something which looks like the Sheraton, you shouldn’t end up in a shed’ 

IN A survey by travel insurance – of more than 1,400 people who’ve been on holiday abroad in the last five years, 39% said their hotel fell a long way short of the travel brochure or website description.

50% said the facilities provided by the hotel didn’t match the description

43% said the rooms were nothing like the photographs

40% disagreed with the star rating given to the hotel

28% felt the location of the hotel was not as it was described

17% found the hotel had undeclared building work going on

14% said that the hotel surroundings were awful but were cropped out of the brochure photographs

23% felt let down by the whole experience

Many of the disgruntled tourists weren’t prepared to take their disappointing accommodation lying down: 11% complained at the hotel, getting a free room upgrade, and 8% complained direct to the holiday company and received a partial refund. But 12% found the resort travel rep unhelpful and 17% said that they would not use the same holiday company again. Eighteen percent didn’t complain to anyone.

Alex Edwards, travel insurance spokesperson at, commented: ‘It’s shameful that so many holidaymakers have felt utterly misled by travel companies’ brochures and websites. When you’ve spent several hundred if not thousands of pounds to get away for a few weeks abroad, you should be confident that what you see in the brochure is what you get at the resort. Unfortunately for many holidaymakers, what they hope will be the highlight of the summer is the let-down of the year.

‘However, although it may not rescue your holiday you might be able to get some recompense if you take up your complaint with the travel company. If they’re an ATOL or Association of British Travel Agents (ABTA) member, they should be operating to certain standards in the first place and will have set guidelines for dealing with complaints. If you booked with an ABTA member you’ll also be able to use their independent complaints hub and arbitration service if you don’t feel you’ve been treated fairly by the travel company.

‘You are also afforded some protection under Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act if you paid for your holiday with your credit card and something goes wrong. This covers items costing over £100 and not more than £30,000. As a last resort, you can consider taking your case to the small claims court for breach of contract. In England and Wales the maximum you can claim is £10,000 and in Scotland and Northern Ireland it’s £3,000. However, all consumers really want is the holiday hotel they were expecting. If you book something which looks like the Sheraton, you shouldn’t end up in a shed.’

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August opening for Brighton’s seafront tower

BRITISH AIRWAYS I360, the world's tallest moving observation tower, opens on August 4, with tickets for the attraction on #Brighton seafront now on sale. 

Visitors will be able to glide up 450ft in an enclosed glass viewing pod with views across Brighton and the Sussex coast.

'Flights' are 20 minutes during the day and 30 minutes after 6.00pm, when the pod becomes the Nyetimber Sky Bar.

Tickets cost from £13.50 for adults and from £6.75 for children, with under 4s free.

The tower was designed by architects David Marks and Julia Barfield, who says: ‘Built at the landward end of Brighton's historic West Pier, British Airways i360 is a modern day vertical pier which invites visitors to “walk on air” and gain a new perspective on the city, just as the West Pier invited Victorian society to “walk on water”.

‘The glass viewing pod, ten times the size of a London Eye capsule and capable of carrying up to 200 passengers, will slowly rise up a slender steel tower to a height of 450ft to provide passengers with stunning views of Brighton and Hove and a beautiful panorama of the south coast and English Channel.’

To buy tickets, a) go to b) call 03337 720 360 (a £2 surcharge will be added to bookings made by telephone c) go to the tower’s ticket office on Brighton seafront, from August 4.

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Saturday, 30 July 2016

Up in the air . . .

SINGAPORE AIRLINES is to begin a non-stop service between Singapore and Manchester, England, in October. The flights will run five times weekly and will continue on to Houston, Texas, which is currently served via Moscow. 

The airline’s services to Christchurch, New Zealand will increase to 10 times weekly between November and February 2017, while flights to Adelaide, Australia, will also increase to 10 times weekly from December 1 to January 31.

RYANAIR will change its Bristol to Venice Treviso to Venice Marco Polo Airport from September. Treviso is 19 miles from Venice, while Marco Polo is much closer at 4.6 miles.

MANCHESTER AIRPORT has opened an expanded Escape Lounge in Terminal Two. The airport has spent £1.9 million on the lounge which has increased in capacity by a third with room for up to 212 passengers.

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Report reveals most complained about UK airlines; Ryanair, easyJet and BA all feature

FLIGHT COMPENSATION company EUclaim has published internal data showing what it claims are the most complained about British airlines for the first half of 2016. 

The data reveals that the number of people seeking compensation against budget airline Ryanair has more than doubled in the last year. During the period January – June 2015, 1,879 Ryanair passengers sought advice from EUclaim, but in the same period this year, that number more than doubled, with 4,781 passengers getting in touch with the company to seek recompense for their delayed or cancelled flight.

easyJet has seen the number of cases through EUclaim increase every year for the last three years. The airline also has the dubious honour of topping the EUclaim ‘Carriers of Shame’ list for the first half of 2016, with 5,641 claims being processed against them by the flight compensation company, while the company’s data shows that the number of claims against British Airways has increased year-on-year. Monarch’s services appear to have improved so much that it has fallen out of the 2016 top ‘Carriers of Shame’ list.

Top 5: Carriers of Shame (2016 H1 Results)

  • easyJet 5,641 complaints 
  • Ryanair 4,781 
  • Thomas Cook 3,807 
  • British Airways 3,423
  • Thomson 2,422 

EUclaim has estimated that in 2016 airlines could owe a total of £588.44 million in compensation due to delays of more than three hours and cancellations.

The company exposes Norwich Airport as the most likely airport in the country for passengers to suffer a flight delay or cancellation. In 2015 EUclaim processed 67 claims against airlines departing or arriving at the regional minnow, but in 2016 that number shot up to 175, a 161% increase on claim enquiries.

Top 5 Airports of Shame (2016 H1)

  • Norwich 
  • London Gatwick 
  • Edinburgh 
  • Birmingham 
  • Leeds

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Brexit will not have ‘significant impact’, says Eurotunnel

CHANNEL TUNNEL operator Eurotunnel has issued a note of confidence in the wake of Britain voting to leave the European Union.

The company revealed that first-half revenues rose by 2% to €582 million (£) ‘in spite of the uncertain geo-political context’.

Eurotunnel said: ‘As the mechanisms for and the means by which the UK will leave the European Union have yet to be determined, it is difficult to predict the effect on the macro-economic and political environment and therefore on cross-Channel transport and the group’s activities. Nonetheless, the group does not expect any significant impact on its activities in the short term and currently activity remains buoyant.’

The company reported the best first-half for its Le Shuttle car-carrying service since 2001 with an estimated two-point increase in its market share against a 4% decline in the overall cross-channel car market.

Eurostar traffic was down 3% year-on-year following the terrorist attacks in Brussels in March and strikes in Belgium and France in March and June.

Eurotunnel chairman and chief executive Jacques Gounon said: ‘Month after month, Eurotunnel has broken traffic records, particularly for the truck shuttles. The tunnel has never been as highly utilized as it is today. Despite the financial market uncertainty generated by the UK voting to leave the European Union, the group remains confident in the performance of its economic model and in its outlook.’

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Cool Poole cruises

AS EUROPE'S largest natural harbour, Poole in Dorset is best experienced from the water. City Cruises has a range of trips departing from Poole Quay, with tours allowing visitors to get ocean views of attractions such as Sandbanks, Brownsea Island, the Purbeck Coast, the old Harry Rocks … and the local puffins.

Trips include:

  • Harbour & Island cruise 
  • Jurassic Coastal cruise & return cruise to Swanage 
  • Poole Sea Train Adventure 
  • Sundowner Evening Cruise & Jurassic Evening Cruise \Jurassic Evening Cruise 

City Cruises will also run special trips during the Bournemouth Air Show (August 20- 21) for an offshore view of the Red Arrows.

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Friday, 29 July 2016

See Wiltshire from the air

AERIAL film capturing the beauty of the English county of Wiltshire has been launched on, giving visitors bird’s eye views of the breathtaking countryside and iconic attractions including Stonehenge and Avebury.

The film is titled ‘What view did you wake up to this morning?’ and is the first of a three-part series.

Fiona Errington, marketing manager at VisitWiltshire says: ‘This footage will encourage more domestic and international visitors to come and see the magnificent Wiltshire countryside and iconic landmarks and views we have. We are working closely with VisitBritain, VisitEngland, and VisitWiltshire partners to ensure this is shared online and via social media channels.’

Other landmarks and heritage sites seen in the film include Salisbury Cathedral, Malmesbury Abbey, Old Sarum, the White Horses, Silbury Hill, West Kennet Long Barrow, The Ridgeway, and the Kennet & Avon Canal,

To see the films, go to

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No sticky wickets at La Manga

#LAMANGA CLUB has teamed up with #Cricket Ireland and Cricket Scotland for a long-term partnership to create a European Cricket Performance Centre at the Spanish resort – the first of its kind in Europe.

The sports and leisure resort has signed a ten-year deal with the two national organizations to develop an exclusive warm-weather overseas training base in Murcia, south-east #Spain.

Designed to help prepare men's and women's teams for international cricket as well as assisting with the development of players and coaches, the first phase of the jointly-funded project will next year.

In a joint statement, Cricket Ireland and Cricket Scotland said: ‘This is the culmination of a long-term project to develop state-of-the-art training facilities in continental Europe. Rather than having to travel to the UAE or further afield to escape our long winters, our players at all levels now have the chance to train in a cost-effective way on world-class grass and artificial surfaces in a warm-weather southern European setting on a year-round basis.

Cricket Ireland and Cricket Scotland will have exclusive booking options for using the centre as a warm-weather training and playing base for its men's and women's national and provincial senior and youth teams.

Facilities will include six updated first-class grass pitches and two artificial wickets on two existing grounds, plus 18 grass and five artificial net lanes – all with 25-yard run-ups. Fielding, catching, and wicket-keeping areas are also being created.

Chad Harpur, director of sports at La Manga Club, said: ‘This agreement will open up a new market for La Manga Club. The cricket facility will be the best in Europe and is something we are very proud to be part of.’

In 1,400 acres, La Manga Club has a high performance sports centre, a high-altitude training facility, three 18-hole golf courses, 28 tennis courts, and a spa and fitness centre, plus a five-star hotel, four-star serviced apartments, and more than 20 bars and restaurants.

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Mary Rose re-opens; a unique Tudor time capsule

AFTER a six month closure and a multi-million pound investment, the Mary Rose has been re-opened to the public, 471 years after its sinking in 1545. The Mary Rose Trust at Portsmouth Historic Dockyard has unveiled never before seen views of Henry VIII’s favourite warship after having undergone 34 years of extensive treatment and conservation.

 Visitors can breathe the same air as the Mary Rose, taking in panoramic sights of the ship from nine galleries through floor-to-ceiling glazing on the lower and main decks.

Lying beside HMS Victory, the Mary Rose adds more insights into England’s naval history.  

Dr Alex Hildred, head of Research and Curator of Ordnance at the Mary Rose Trust, says: ‘When we excavated the Mary Rose, we wanted people to see even a little of what we, as archaeologists, saw and experienced underwater. The fact that you can see it from three different angles that you’ve never been able to see before, except for when she first came up, is brilliant. With the lights on her, she begins to look like parts of the ship we saw underwater.’

A unique Tudor time capsule, the Mary Rose has been undergoing continuous conservation since she was raised from the Solent in 1982. The latest conservation project will see visitors enter the Weston Ship Hall on the Upper Deck via an airlock, separated from the ship only by a glass balcony. 

The story of the Mary Rose in numbers:

  • 1510 – the year the Mary Rose was built 
  • 600 trees were used to build her 
  • 1545 – the year the Mary Rose was sunk, on July 19 during the 3rd French War 
  • 500 men on board, only 35 survived 
  • 5 foot 7 inches was the average height of a crew member
  • The Mary Rose sank to the bottom of the Solent, lying on the seabed at a 60 degree angle 
  • 1971 – the year the Mary Rose site was discovered and excavation begun 
  • 27,831 dives made to the Mary Rose during the modern excavation project 
  • 22,710 hours of marine archaeological excavation of the seabed 
  • 437 years the Mary Rose spent underwater 
  • 1982 – the year the Mary Rose was raised from the seabed 
  • 19,000 artefacts have been recovered from the site so far including 6,600 arrow bits, nine barrels containing bones of fully-grown cattle, and one full skeleton of a dog aged between 18 months and two years. 
  • 9 million – the number of visitors to the Mary Rose since she was first displayed in 1983 

Portsmouth Historic Dockyard’s annual All Attraction Ticket (£26.40 for adults, £18.40 for children, and £23 for seniors) includes entry to the Mary Rose, HMS Warrior 1860, HMS Victory, HMS M.33, the National Museum of the Royal Navy Portsmouth and Action Stations. Also included is admission to off-site attractions, including the Explosion Museum of Naval Firepower (Gosport), the Royal Navy Submarine Museum, HMS Alliance (Gosport), and the Royal Marines Museum (Eastney), plus a complimentary waterbus to the Gosport attractions and a 45-minute harbour tour.

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Brexit won’t hit Brits’ holiday plans – Travelzoo survey

THE UK voted to leave the European Union, but results of a survey commissioned by Travelzoo suggests the impact on Britons travelling this summer will be minimal. Only 3% of Britons now plan to cancel due to concerns about the current value of the pound, and 37% will still head across the Channel. 

Travelzoo's June representative survey was carried out in the days just after the vote, and the results show that Spain and France are the most popular summer holiday destinations with UK travellers. The US is also proving popular, and is the highest-ranked destination outside of Europe. This news comes in spite of the sterling’s instability against the US dollar.

The increasing popularity of long-haul travel in general seems unaffected by the Brexit vote – Australia and Canada also made the top-10 list, joining destinations closer to home, such as Portugal, Greece, Italy, and Cyprus.

Travelzoo is also reporting increasing demand for all-inclusive holidays, with over a quarter (26%) saying they would be more likely to opt for one this year.

Joel Brandon-Bravo, travel commentator and UK managing director of Travelzoo said: ‘The stoic British spirit has prevailed and it's incredibly positive to see people still pushing ahead with their holiday plans. However, for this to continue we urge the UK government to act quickly to resolve uncertainties around visa restrictions and other possible changes impacting travel.

‘If they react slowly, and tourism is pushed down the list of priorities, British holidaymakers could be facing more expensive overseas holidays, and consequently we could see a dip in travel. First and foremost, we need reassurance from those negotiating our exit from the EU that tourism will be a high priority. We have to understand how an independent UK can operate in the European Common Aviation Area, otherwise we'll be living in a world of reduced competition, reduced routes, and higher travel prices. Action is needed now.’

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Thursday, 28 July 2016

Expert advice busts myths about vacation rental homes

WYNDHAM VACATION RENTALS sets the record straight on self-catering holidays. 

‘With so many different types of vacation rentals available, travellers can have trouble navigating their options,’ says Mary Lynn Clark, president of Wyndham Vacation Rentals North America. ‘Feeling mis-informed or overwhelmed can dissuade those travellers from trying something new. To help, we want to confront the myths that tend to surround vacation rentals.’

Myth #1: More space = a higher price tag. Many travellers assume vacation rentals are more expensive than traditional lodging options. Think again … Break down the per night, per person pricing while factoring in the space amenities and you can get great value. Rental homes can be even more cost-effective by allowing travellers to leverage convenient amenities, such as kitchens to save money on meals or washers/dryers to cut down on baggage fees by packing less.

Myth #2: I need to have a large group. Vacation rental homes come in all shapes and sizes, from studio units and condos in resort-style communities to larger, private homes with four or more bedrooms. Solo travellers, couples, and small families often enjoy rental homes for the convenience and can find the right-sized home for their needs.

Myth #3: I have to stay for at least a week. Not true … many vacation rental homes offer flexibility when it comes to length of stay. Travellers can often find rentals for weekend stays, especially during off-peak travel periods.

Myth #4: You have to book far in advance. False … there is no set timeframe in which you must book a rental home before your trip. While booking further in advance can give you a greater selection to choose from, there are often great last-minute deals in many popular destinations for those who can't plan as far ahead.

Myth #5: If I need help during my stay, I'm on my own. Quite the contrary; although, it does depend on how you book your rental home. If you book through a professional manager, there is typically someone available 24/7 to assist you with any problems you might have. If you book directly through a homeowner, you'll need to ask them how available they'll be during your stay.

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This coast is made for walking

WALKERS can enjoy 66 miles of new and improved National Trail with the launch of the first stretch of the England Coast Path in Kent and East Sussex.

The continuous route between Camber and Ramsgate is the first section of the England Coast Path to open in the south-east of England. It gives unbridled views of coastline, including the White Cliffs and the unique areas of Dungeness and Pegwell Bay, popular for birdwatching, and their landscape and summer flowers.

Natural England is establishing a 2,700-mile path around the entire English coastline by 2020 and work is already under way on 60 percent of the route. When completed, it will be the world’s longest continuous coastal walking route.

Speaking at the National Trust’s White Cliffs centre, the chairman of Natural England, Andrew Sells, said: ‘I am delighted to be here for the formal opening of this 66-mile section of the England Coast Path – the most significant rights of way project for a generation. This beautiful and iconic stretch will allow walkers to enjoy amazing views, fabulous wildlife, and places with significant cultural and historical value – all from a high-quality footpath. It will also connect coastal communities and encourage walkers to visit more of the coast, bringing an added economic boost to the region.’

The route provides a link between communities and towns along the coast including Camber and Lydd, Greatstone and Hythe and Deal and Sandwich. It includes areas and features of heritage, such as the supposed landing site of Caesar at Walmer, embarkation points on the River Stour at Richborough used by soldiers and horses in the First World War, Napoleonic Martello towers, and extensive Second World War defences at Dover.

Three miles of new path have also been created at Sandwich, giving access around the peninsula for the first time.

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Instability in Turkey will be ‘catastrophic’ for travel industry: Euromonitor

TERRORISM and the failed political coup in #Turkey could spell disaster for country’s #tourism sector … so says Euromonitor International’s travel project manager, Nadejda Popova. 

‘Recent political events in Turkey will be catastrophic for its travel industry,’ she says. Several terrorist attacks, the failed political coup as well as the collapse of Turkey-Russia relations will be detrimental for the recovery of its tourism industry. 

The fear factor amongst tourists and high level of uncertainty are expected to shift the interest of travellers from Turkey to other destinations, which will now also include travel away from Europe.’

In 2015, Turkey received 34.7 million international arrivals in terms of number of trips, but this performance is expected to be heavily impacted by events this year. According to the latest United Nations World Tourism Organization Barometer, international arrivals in the country declined 10% in Q1 2016.

‘Terrorism and general instability are changing the perceptions among travellers in terms of how safe the country is as a destination,” says Ms Popova. ‘This could continue in the mid- to long-term if adequate security measures are not taken by the Turkish government. Short term, the market will suffer direly from those events, but with the right approach by the government, proving the strengthened security and reassuring tourists, it could recover faster than we can now foresee.

‘However as this is not the first incident in the country this year, these events will cause a much longer term impact on the industry. As seen from [other] examples in the Middle East such as Tunisia, one isolated attack cannot cripple the entire industry, but repetitive attacks will definitely prevent the development of the tourism industry”

In Europe, big travel players such as Tui and Thomas Cook are already reporting a significant decline in bookings to Turkey, which Popova said were down more than 35%.

‘This, of course, showcases that demand is very low and travellers are shifting their holiday plans to other destinations,” said Ms Popova.

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Gatwick set for busiest ever summer holiday season

GATWICK AIRPORT is set to have a record-breaking summer with eight million passengers forecast to travel through the airport, up 6.6 percent on summer 2015.

The airport will welcome 50 percent more passengers with children, with 165,000 passengers travelling through on the busiest day, which will be August 14.

Gatwick Airport, terminals operations manager, Wayne Tomlinson said: ‘We’re seeing more passengers than ever travelling through Gatwick, and this summer is no exception being our busiest yet. All teams at the airport have been working hard ahead of the summer to make our passengers’ time with us as fun and hassle-free as possible, whether it’s our family entertainment area, a dedicated family security lane, or a pushchair available on arrival at the airport.’

Destinations proving particularly popular this year include Orlando, Florida, up 17 percent, Tenerife, up 16 percent, and Faro, Portugal, up 13 percent year-on-year.

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Wednesday, 27 July 2016

Low Cost customers to get 'very little' compensation

CUSTOMERS of failed Low Cost Travel Group are likely to receive just £7.50 each compensation, according to the administrators. The Palma-based company had lodged a bond of only €1.3 million (£1.09 million) with the Spanish travel agency regulator, even though it had a turnover of approximately £500 million a year

Finbarr O'Connell, of administrator Smith Williamson, told The Times that potential claims from customers could be more than £50 million. ‘There are about 140,000 customers we believe have lost out. Sadly this means there will be very little back for any claim.’

He said compensation will be paid to claimants on a pooled basis so everyone will get back about 1% to 2%. The company, which was not ATOL-bonded, has been criticized for sending e-mails offering customers large discounts to book hours before it collapsed.

Customers are being advised to contact their airline to check that their bookings were valid. The group said that in 'most' cases, flights had been paid for and tickets were still valid, but holidaymakers were likely to have to pay again for their accommodation or find alternatives.

Those who booked with a credit card and some debit cards might be able to claim compensation from their card issuers, while others might be able to make an insurance claim if their policy included supplier failure.

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Red Sea diving tips

THE EGYPTIAN TOURISM AUTHORITY has tips to help divers discover the country’s #RedSea treasures:

Ras Mohamed National Park: The most prized spots in this location include Shark Reef and Yolanda Reef which offer divers the chance to see every single species of fish in the Red Sea in one location.

Straits of Tiran – Jackson Reef: Thanks to its strong currents and abundance of nutrients, the coral here is magnificent and attracts a wide range of larger fish including hammerhead, gray, and guitar sharks.

Thistlegorm (Sharm el Sheikh): Many consider this to be the most popular wreck dive in the world. SS Thistlegorm sank in 1941 after being attacked on its way from Glasgow to Alexandria. The ship’s contents which included motorbikes, trucks, and armored cars sit on the bottom of the ocean alongside the wreck itself, complete with the hole from German bomb. Divers can use torches to look inside the wreck and might be lucky enough to spot a rare crocodile fish.

Brother Islands: Divers will need to join a safari boat to experience these spectacular islands and follow in the footsteps of Jacques Costeau. Both Big Brother and Little Brother have a splendid coral and the crystal clear waters, ideal for underwater photography. Highlights are two shipwrecks, the Aida and the Numidia.

Elphinstone (Marsa Alam): Tis drift dive offers the chance to swim with hammerhead and oceanic white tip reef sharks. Tiger sharks and dolphins can also be spotted here making for a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Abu Dabbab (Marsa Alam): You are more likely to spot a Sea Turtle and the lesser-known Dugong here than at any of the other dive sites. There are two Dugongs living in Abu Dabbab that receive special protection as they are in danger of extinction.

Dolphins house, Marsa Alam: Just off the coast of Marsa Alam, a pod of spinner dolphin live on this offshore reef. Visitors can dive or even snorkel with these inquisitive creatives.

Carnatic Wreck: One of the oldest wrecks in the Red Sea, it carried crates of wine, some of which are still intact at the bottom of the ocean.

Blue Hole (Dahab): One of the most famous diving locations on the shores of the Red Sea, also known as a hot spot for free diving due to the sea depth and the lack of current.

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Villas by the Med

LUXURY Marbella resort Puente Romano Beach Resort & Spa has announced the opening of three deluxe villas for summer 2016. Complementing the resort's recent refurbishment of its facilities and guestrooms, the villas combine authentic Andalusian design with modern luxury.

  • Villa Margarita has three bedrooms and bathrooms and a private pool 
  • The four-bedroom La Pereza villa has a large landscaped garden and a pool 
  • Villa Armonia is a five-bedroom house with a pool 

The resort, between Marbella and Puerto Banus, has nine restaurants, health and leisure facilities including a spa and a tennis and fitness club, and several swimming pools.

Villa accommodation starts at €6,000 (£5,000) per night.

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TAP launches Portugal stop-over for international travellers

TAP PORTUGAL is introducing a #Portugal Stop-over, giving passengers the option of visiting two destinations, with a stay in Lisbon or Porto for up to three days during the same trip. 

Passengers flying on round trips starting in the UK and flying to North America, Brazil, or Africa as the destination, and vice versa, will be able to enjoy the stop-over. Customers can choose between Lisbon and Porto, whether their stop-over is during the out-bound or return flight, and the number of nights (up to three).

The Portugal Stopover is an online product available through the main page of or directly through

The launch comes after the recent announcements of new routes to Boston and New York.

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Tuesday, 26 July 2016

25 million Brits opting to holiday in UK

A SURVEY by reveals that 25 million Brits are now opting to holiday in the UK rather than taking a trip abroad – 4.5 million more than staycationed last year. The average staycationer is expected to spend £686 on their home-based break, up from £442 last year. 

For the fifth year running, Cornwall is the most popular spot for those planning a break in their home country, with 12 percent of holiday-goers planning a trip there this year. London held onto second place on this year’s list of top #staycation destinations, with nine percent planning a trip to the city this year. Meanwhile, eight percent are planning to go the Lake District.

Cost remains a driver of the staycations movement with 18 percent of those surveyed saying they can’t afford to afford to travel abroad this year. A further sixth (16 percent) claim they’ve opted to staycation because they believe it’s better value than going abroad. But for a third, an interest in exploring all that the UK has to offer is their main reason for not travelling overseas.

The number of Brits holidaying in the UK has seen a further boost following the country’s vote on European Union membership. Additional research carried out after the referendum reveals an extra five percent of Brits – 2.5 million people – will choose to take a break in the British Isles this year, while a further five percent stated they are holding off booking a holiday at all until things calm down.

Brexit has also had an impact on how the nation is feeling about its holiday finances, with 15 percent of those taking a holiday this year planning to spend less on their summer get-away following the result.

A quarter of respondents are planning an escape to the countryside, and both beach and city breaks across the UK came in joint second place for the most popular staycation.

Claire Davenport, managing director at says: ‘Thanks to the news that so many Brits are planning to holiday in Britain during 2016, we should see a welcome boon up and down the country for hoteliers, B&Bs and travel retailers throughout the summer. With this in mind, those in the travel industry should ensure they’re targeting their ongoing marketing campaigns to tap into this consumer trend.’

Top 10 staycation choices:

Lake District
Scottish Highlands
Stay at home
Isle of Wight

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Craft beer boost for Scottish tourism

VISITSCOTLAND is urging the craft beer industry to capitalise on the lucrative food and drink tourism market, which is worth almost £900 million a year to the country’s visitor economy. 

A report by VisitScotland, conducted with The Brewers Association of #Scotland, says the increasing interest in craft beer in recent years has mirrored similar consumer trends in the tourism industry. ‘The growth in interest from younger demographics, most notably millennials, has driven a search for products that are authentic and give an honest representation of their brand.’

The tourism board has launched a Spirit of Scotland craft beer to highlight how the craft beer trend could be worth millions to tourism.

Malcolm Roughead, chief executive of VisitScotland, says: ‘The rapid growth of Scotland’s exciting craft beer industry in recent years and the popularity of sampling local produce by visitors, creates a fantastic opportunity to tap into a new market of craft beer tourism.

‘It is clear from the research that there is real interest Scottish craft beer from across the globe, leaving the industry well placed to follow the likes of the whisky industry and other Scottish produce in becoming a real draw for visitors near and far.

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Brazil cheapest for car hire, Portugal most expensive

A 15-COUNTRY study of car hire costs by reveals that the #Brazil and the United States are the cheapest places to hire a car this summer, while Portugal and Italy are the most expensive. 

Travellers will be paying on average £316 to rent a compact family car (e.g. a VW Golf) for a week this summer (July 30-August 6), across all destinations, although once 'extras' are added at the rental desk – including excess waiver insurance, an extra driver, a satnav and a child's seat – the price almost doubles to £612. Adding a tank of petrol (40 litres) takes the final price to £651.

In Portugal, the most expensive country in the study, it’s possible to pay almost £800 to hire a compact family car plus extras.

Petrol costs vary widely. The cheapest place to fill up is Florida where a full tank of petrol costs only £15, half the price of European petrol prices, which range from £37 in Spain to £56 in the UK.

With the Olympics in Rio this summer, Brazil has been included in the study for the first time, and is the cheapest place to hire a car. It costs £185 on average to hire a car for the week, with extras costing £72 in total compared with an overall average at all the destinations of £335.

Florida is the next most reasonable destination. The average cost of a week’s rental is £222, but the cost of extras is only £168. One of the reasons for this relatively low cost is that the car hire rate in the US often includes full Collision Damage Waiver with zero excess for overseas travellers, meaning customers do not need to buy e excess insurance cover, which is usually the biggest single outlay when a traveller picks up their hire car. But insurance in the US is complicated and depends on the in which cars are hired and the rental company. It is important to check the cover included in bookings.

From the cheapest to the most expensive (for the car hire cost, plus four 'extras' at the rental desk and petrol) the 15 countries (and 17 destinations) stacked up as follows:  

1.   Brazil (pick up from Rio de Janerio Airport) - total cost £257 
2.   USA (picking up from Orlando Airport, Florida) - total cost is £390
3.   Turkey (pick up from Dalaman Airport) - total cost is £515
4.   Germany (pick up from Munich Airport) - total cost is £528
5.   Holland (pick up from Amsterdam Airport) - total cost is £580
6.   Australia (pick up from Sydney Airport) – total cost is £608
7.   Belgium (pick up from Brussels Airport) - total cost is £615
8.   Ireland (pick up from Dublin Airport) - total cost is £686
9.   Greece (pick up in Crete) - total cost is £698
10. Spain (pick up from Barcelona Airport) - total cost is £742
11. Croatia (pick up from Dubrovnik Airport) – total cost is £743
12. France (pick up from Nice Airport) – total cost is £780
13. UK (pick up from London Heathrow) - total cost is £811
14. Italy (pick up from Milan Airport) - total cost is £835
15. Portugal (pick up from Faro Airport) - total cost is £893

Ernesto Suarez, founder and CEO of said: ‘Our annual international study shows that the cost of hiring a car varies by over £300 depending on the country you are visiting, but this variation rises to over £600 when the cost of the extras is included. There are some truly shocking additional costs that holiday makers face, when picking up their hire car, making the original low headline price almost irrelevant when the final bill is settled at the desk.

‘People do a lot of research and careful planning for their holiday, but it’s easy to forget to apply the same level of diligence to booking the right rental car.’

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Delta to start Havana flights

DELTA will begin serving Havana, #Cuba, this autumn from New York-JFK, Atlanta, and Miami following the approval by the United States Department of Transportation. 

‘Today has been a long-awaited moment to celebrate Delta’s historic return to Cuba,’ said Nicolas Ferri, Delta vice president, Latin America and the Caribbean.

‘We look forward to providing the market with excellent customer and operational performance that will re-unite families and support a new generation of travellers seeking to engage and explore this truly unique destination.’

Delta will begin selling seats to Havana this summer.

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Monday, 25 July 2016

Decline in resort costs cushions £ fall

WITH the end of the school term in sight, the challenge for families planning trips to the euro zone, will be how to get the most for their money and avoid busting their budget after sterling’s fall in value.

There is encouraging news for them in the Post Office Travel Money Family Holiday Report. This confirms that while resort prices are up on 2015 levels, when sterling was at a seven-year high, meals, drinks, and tourist items now cost less in several family favourites than in each year between 2011 and 2014.

Andrew Brown of Post Office Travel Money explains: ‘It’s all about putting today’s exchange rates into context. Sterling may have fallen recently, but when you compare its value with every other year since 2011 except 2015, holidaymakers can be reassured that the cash in their pockets will cover their costs – particularly as bars and restaurants in several of the resorts we surveyed have cut their prices to attract tourists.’

Families can expect to pay over a third less for a meal this summer than in 2011 in the Costa del Sol (£34.83 now compared to £53.92 in 2011) or Crete (£39.19 vs £58.82) and 40 percent less in Bulgaria (£27.83 vs £46.39).

Meal costs are lowest by far in Bulgaria. Families can expect to pay an average of £27.83 in Sunny Beach – 3.8 percent less than in last year’s record-breaking summer (£28.92).  The Algarve is another good bet for bargain hunters at £33.09 for a family meal. By contrast, holidaymakers visiting Sorrento (£87.09) and Ibiza (£100.15) will pay over twice as much as in Sunny Beach or the Algarve.

But Brown warned: ‘Keeping a tight rein on the holiday purse will still be crucial this summer and that is going to be a big challenge for many because our latest research found that only one-in-five families stuck to their budget on their last holiday.  The majority of families said they overspent by an average of over 25 percent – or £178 – on the £694 budget they set.

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Don't dive in head first

WATER sport enthusiasts will be planning on travelling abroad in the coming months in search of warmer climates, so Airport Parking & Hotels (APH) has created a guide comparing airline policies on the kit divers and anglers take with them. 

The research reviews the policies of 15 airlines, including British Airways, Emirates, and Virgin Atlantic for travelling with water sports equipment abroad and compares checked baggage allowances, additional costs for equipment, and which sports equipment is allowed on flights.

The checked baggage allocation differs between airlines, but starts at 20kg, as offered by six of the airlines, including bmi regional, Jet2, and easyJet. Of the 15 airlines researched, booking First Class flights with Emirates provides the highest maximum weight allowance of 50kg.

Diving equipment is permitted on 13 of the airlines researched, including KLM, Qantas Group, and Virgin Atlantic. Icelandair does not include diving equipment in its standard baggage allowance, while Aer Lingus and British Airways state that diving equipment must be packed in recognized kit bags, and Monarch and Air France specify that scuba diving tanks must be empty.

Fishing equipment is permitted on 10 of the airlines surveyed, including Jet2, Air France, and bmi Regional. Policies for carrying the equipment differ between airlines, with Norwegian Air specifying that fishing rods must be packed in suitable hard casing and Aer Lingus accepting equipment no longer than 2.05m/6.7ft.

Board sporting baggage is welcomed on all 15 airlines and includes surfboards, windsurfboards, kiteboards, bodyboards, longboards, sailboards, kneeboards, wakeboards, boogie boards, and skim boards. Virgin Atlantic enables passengers to carry either windsurfing or kitesurfing equipment, but will not permit both, and that the carriage of windsurfing equipment, surfboards, and wakeboards on Flybe flights is on a stand-by basis only. Water skis are permitted on four airlines, such as bmi regional and Qantas Group, while Delta bans canoes and kayaks.

The research can be found in the Know Before You Go section of the APH website at

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Luxury get-away

CHIC #IBIZA #VILLAS and PrivateFly have unveiled what they call the Ultimate Ibiza Get-away … priced at €100,000* (or €12,500** per person based on eight travelling together) in September.

The package includes:

  • Private jet travel from London Luton 
  • Seven-night stay in a luxury villa 
  • Premium Range Rover island transfers all week 
  • Day rental of an 89ft Leopard yacht 
  • VIP table one of Ibiza's most exclusive dayclubs 
  • €5,000 drinks spend at a club 
  • Three-course in-villa banquet prepared by private chefs 
  • Personal hair and make-up artists each night at the villa
  • Massage for all guests from a therapist at the villa 
  • In-villa clubbing night with a DJ 
  • Private DJ lessons 
  • On-call concierge 
  • Outdoor pop-up cinema evening at the villa 
  • Private yoga lesson 


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‘Seaside Czar’ can turn the tide and revive resorts

THE British Hospitality Association (BHA) says a Seaside Czar should be appointed ‘to help Britain’s forgotten seaside towns fight back from decades of decay’.

Called Creating Coastal Powerhouses, the report says businesses in seaside towns are more likely to fail – especially if they provide accommodation – and urges the government to create Coastal Enterprise Zones to encourage investment.

The report says people living in seaside towns are more likely to be poorly educated, unemployed, unemployable, lacking in ambition, claiming benefits, and living in multiple occupation housing.

A separate survey, conducted by Bourne Leisure, found that more than half of the British public have not visited the British seaside in the past three years, and 65% believe that the British seaside is run down and in need of investment.

Nine out of the 10 most deprived neighbourhoods in the UK are seaside communities, according to the Department for Communities and Local Government 2015 Index of Multiple Deprivation.

The report highlights several reasons for the decline, including the collapse of shipbuilding and fishing, the demise of the traditional annual holiday by the seaside, growing drug use, and cutbacks in budgets affecting maintenance of public places, street cleaning, and tourism promotion.

The BHA cites the successful regeneration of Folkestone in Kent and the Jurassic Coast in Dorset and East Devon as examples of how the British seaside can recover.

Ufi Ibrahim, chief executive of the BHA, said: ‘Our members recognize the problems facing many coastal communities, but we also know there are fantastic opportunities to boost these places and help revive the Great British Seaside holiday.

‘250 million visits are already made to the UK’s coast each year, generating £17 billion to the economy. But we know there is a lot more to do – and that can only happen with a concerted effort by a committed government and the private sector. Together we can turn the tide and bring a smile back to the seaside.

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