Thursday, 31 March 2016

UK's largest cheese fair returns in 2016

THE UK'S largest cheese fair will return for its sixth year in 2016 when the Artisan Cheese Fair takes place in Melton Mowbray, Leicestershire (April 30-May 1).

Last year, more than 8,000 cheese-lovers visited the fair, at which more than 50 cheesemakers showcased in excess of 250 products.

There will be talks, demonstrations, and tastings.

Matthew O'Callaghan, the fair’s organizer, says: ‘The Artisan Cheese Fair is now into its sixth year and continues to grow in size and quality of experience for local, regional, and national visitors. With plans for more exhibitors, offering more types of cheese than ever, this year's event will be the largest cheese fair of its type in the UK.’

www.artisancheesefair.co.uk


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Visit the Seven Wonders for under £5,200 

VISITING the Seven Wonders of the World would once have been considered something only the very wealthy elite could do, but money saving website Voucherbox.co.uk says seeing all seven wonders in one year is possible for under £5,200. 

Its price study found that for a total cost of £5,194 it is possible to travel from the UK to visit the seven Wonders – The Great Wall of China, Petra (Jordan), The Colosseum (Rome), Chichén Itzá (Yucatán, Mexico), Machu Picchu (Peru), Taj Mahal (India), and Christ the Redeemer (Rio de Janeiro) – in under a year.




The list comes from an initiative started in 2000 to choose the New #SevenWonders of the World, with winners announced in 2007.

The total cost includes economy class return flights from London, travel connections to reach the local destination, accommodation, and food in the destination country and entrance fees. Those traveling would need to plan their journey to avoid peak season travel. The cheapest months to visit many of the wonders are April, May and June.

The travel costs have been calculated on the basis of visiting each destination on individual trips to and from London, rather than as part of a round-the-world trip.

Shane Forster, UK country manager of Voucherbox.co.uk, commented: ‘Just 20 years ago, the costs of a trip like this would have been well beyond the means of most of us, but now for less than the cost of a new car an intrepid Brit could see the Seven Wonders of the World.

‘While many things in modern life seem to be getting increasingly costly, it is truly remarkable how much of the world you can see on a budget nowadays if you plan carefully.’


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Picture Credit:Cristo Redentor, Rio de Janeiro</a> via <a href="http://photopin.com">photopin, Machu Picchu</a> via <a href="http://photopin.com">photopin

Chocaholics head to Grenada

THIS year’s #Grenada #ChocolateFestival runs from May 13 to May 22. 

Held at the Mount Cinnamon Resort and Beach Club, the festival celebrates the island’s export with events including cooking lessons and workshops at which visitors can take a 'bean to bar' journey, discover the roots of the world's favourite sweet treat, meet local farmers, tour cocoa farms, pick cocoa pods and prepare them for processing using traditional methods.

There will be plenty of opportunities to sample local produce including, locally-brewed chocolate beer and rums, chocolate cocktails, local cocoa tea, and chocolate-inspired meals. Visitors can also learn the tricks of the trade with Grenadian artisans and try their hand at making their own chocolates.

www.grenadachocolatefest.com


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Fred.Olsen commits small ship fleet to UK in 2017/18

FRED. OLSEN CRUISE LINES will sail its fleet of four smaller, more intimate ships – Balmoral, Braemar, Boudicca, and Black Watch –from 10 regional ports in 2017/18. The sailings will launch from Southampton, Dover, Tilbury, Harwich, Falmouth, Liverpool, Newcastle, Greenock (Glasgow), Rosyth (Edinburgh), and Belfast.

Nathan Philpot, sales and marketing director for Fred. Olsen #Cruise Lines, said: ‘We know that travel to and from a departure port is a key influencer for guests booking a cruise holiday, and Fred. Olsen is continuing to offer the widest range of regional departure ports of any cruise line, with a total of ten, covering all the important cruise markets of the UK.

We are also committed to ensuring that we match our departure ports to the right kind of cruise itinerary, meaning that we can offer the shortest duration of Norwegian fjords experience, of just five nights, from Newcastle, and a Canaries and Madeira holiday of just 12 nights from Falmouth.’


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Wednesday, 30 March 2016

York ‘safest’ city, says Brits

SHORT-BREAK tourists see #York, England, as the world's safest city with Cairo the most risky, according to a UK survey by Post Office Travel Insurance. 

Of 42 world centres, Bath, Edinburgh, and Brighton were also considered particularly safe, while Bangkok, Istanbul, and Marrakech were, after Cairo, the cities deemed least safe.

The survey – taken before the March terrorist attacks in Brussels – of 2,075 UK adults showed that 72% felt York was safe with only 1% considering the Yorkshire city risky, and 26% having no view. Second in the table was Bath, Somerset, with 69% saying it was safe and only 2% regarding it as risky. Edinburgh also had a 69% safe rating, with 3% reckoning the Scottish capital was a risky destination.

A stolen wallet (24%) was the most common occurrence for those who had experienced problems in cities. As many as 26% felt they had been ripped off on city visits, with this figure rising to 43% among those aged 18-24.


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Picture Credit: A Night in the Shambles</a> via <a href="http://photopin.com">photopin

See the Lakes by e-car

VISITORS heading for the #LakeDistrict can now have a truly electrifying time in a sheep-themed fleet of electric cars in which to explore the lakes and fells. 

The ten, two-seater Renault 'Twizys' are available to hire out from tourism businesses in the Ullswater and Keswick areas.

With no engines, exhausts, or fuel systems, they can be driven at the push of a button and will allow visitors who arrive either without a car or in larger vehicles to explore the nooks and crannies of the Lake District in a silent, eco-friendly way.

The cars are powered by high-tech lithium batteries, have a top speed of 50mph and can be plugged into any domestic three pin socket, with an on-board 9ft cable. They can travel up to 40 miles on one charge, depending on driving conditions and styles.

Drivers need to provide a valid driving licence and National Insurance number. Hire charges are £10 per hour, £30 for a half day (4 hours), and £45 for a full day (8 hours).


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More choice on Sicily


#SICILIAN PLACES has expands its programme of holidays with the addition of three self-catering choices. The tour operator – and sister company to Sardinian Places and Corsican Places –has a range of apartments and #villas as well as boutique, family-friendly, and luxury hotels on the island.

The new places are:
  • Apartment Romantico – Modica: A one-bedroom apartment in the heart of the old Cartellone quarter with balcony views of rooftops and alleyways. Seven-night holidays are priced from £749pp based on two sharing, including flights and car hire. 
  • Villa Rosita – Syracuse: A five-bedroom Mediterranean-style villa overlooking the sea on a stretch of coastline protected by the Plemmirio Marine Reserve. It has a large swimming pool, veranda, terraces, BBQ dining area, gardens and access to the sea. Seven-night holidays are priced from £644pp based on nine sharing, including flights and car hire. 
  • Villa luci'd'Oro – Modica: A luxury, five-bedroom villa in a seafront position in the Marina di Modica. Facilities include a swimming pool, terrace, and a wellness area with a sauna and Jacuzzi. Seven nights from £562pp based on ten sharing, including flights and car hire. 
www.sicilianplaces.co.uk


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Picture Credit: www.sicilianplaces.co.uk

17,000+ calls to India’s tourist helpline

THE #tourist #helpline set up by India’s Ministry of Tourism in February has already received more than 17,900 calls.

The new helpline was launched on February 8, and by March 20 it had handled 17,911 requests for assistance and information from tourists, marking an average of almost 578 calls per day.

The Toll Free Tourist Infoline is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, in English, Hindi, French, German, Italian, Arabic, Japanese, Korean, Chinese, Portuguese, Russian, and Spanish.

It main objective is to provide information related to travel and tourism in India, as well as helping travellers in distress and, if required, alerting the authorities. It forms part of the Indian government’s drive to improve the safety of tourists in the country.

A new mobile app is also being launched help tourists, and the Incredible #India website will be revamped to make it ‘more tourist-friendly’.


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Tuesday, 29 March 2016

Aer Lingus launches Cork-Leeds Bradford flights

AER LINGUS REGIONAL has introduced thrice-weekly flights – operated by Stobart Air – from Leeds Bradford Airport to Cork in southern Ireland.

Tony Hallwood, Leeds Bradford Airport’s aviation development director, said: ‘We expect regional businesses to take advantage of this new route, and for those wanting a short break or holiday, Cork will not disappoint. With great food and lively entertainment, you can be sure of a warm welcome. We expect this route to become a firm favourite for Yorkshire visitors.’

The move comes as Aer Lingus Regional seeks to increase its passenger numbers at Cork by 60,000 in 2016 as part of an expansion under which it had announced two new routes at the airport and re-launches a third at Shannon.


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Geo-political volatility disrupting holiday bookings, says Cook

HOLIDAY bookings continue to be disrupted by a volatile geo-political backdrop, says Thomas Cook. 

Europe’s second-largest travel group reported that some customers are postponing their holiday decisions, leading to a later booking pattern for the summer.

The group’s summer programme is 40% sold, down 2% on this time last year, but with overall pricing described as “firm”. Bookings are 5% down, resulting in charter flight capacity being trimmed by 3%.

Average selling prices in the UK for the summer are up by 4% for package holidays and 1% for seat-only, while total bookings are below last year's levels due to the later booking pattern.

However, the company believes underlying demand for holidays remains strong as consumers benefit from low fuel prices, interest rates, and inflation.

Group chief executive, Peter Fankhauser, says: ‘Thomas Cook continues to operate in a volatile market environment. We know that customers want a summer holiday, but we can see that some are leaving it later to book this year as they consider their options. Against this backdrop, I remain confident that we are doing all the right things as a business. It's clear also that customers value packaged travel more than ever and feel safer in our hands.

‘The early actions we took to move flights away from Turkey, Tunisia, and Egypt have positioned us well for increased customer demand to resorts in the Western Mediterranean, with strong sales to the Canaries, Balearics, and the Spanish mainland in recent weeks. We have also seen an increase in sales to long-haul destinations such as the US and Cuba as customers look further afield for their holidays.’


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Access for all

MARCH this year saw the launch of Limitless Travel, an online platform that allows hotels and attractions to list their access amenities for #disabled guests, and visitors to rate facilities. Users with #disabilities and mobility problems –and their friends, families, and carers – can search for destinations across the world based on their specific access requirements, saving them both time and money.

It was founded by Angus Drummond, who was diagnosed with Muscular Dystrophy in 2012. He quit his job in investment banking, travelled the world, and experienced at first-hand the difficulties people with disabilities can face when visiting a new place.

Angus says: ‘When you go holiday, what would you do if you couldn’t climb the stairs or get into the shower? What would you do if you couldn’t read the menu? These are just some of the issues facing people with disabilities when travelling the world, and one that Limitless Travel is solving. While I was travelling, I often found that places marked as disabled-friendly are quite inaccessible, which was extremely frustrating.

‘The Limitless Travel team’s aim is to promote equality and fairness for all who travel, and raise awareness and understanding within the travel industry. Through our website we believe the future is limitless. Disabled #travel doesn’t have to be a nerve-wracking experience; we are making it an exciting opportunity to discover new parts of the world.’

The website kicked off with a guide to London, and aims to expand its coverage to hotels and attractions across the UK, Europe, and then the rest of the world. It is also in touch with tour operators who can offer trips to far-flung destinations for travellers with different access requirements.

www.limitlesstravel.org


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CityButler, at your service

GLOBAL travel tech company ButlerTech has created an app that provides holidaymakers with a guide to help them make the most of their city breaks, from a cruise tour of Ayutthaya in Bangkok to a chocolate ecstasy tour in London.

The CityButler app is designed with the traveller in mind, allowing users to navigate and book activities or services city by city. On selecting a category, the user can view ratings of each business as well as reviews of their services. From local SIM cards to transport and excursions, the app allows users to order or book anything they might need during their city stay.

‘Every business, attraction, tour operator, retailer, or service provider that features on the CityButler app has been handpicked by our local experts to ensure each traveller can plan and enjoy the best possible city experience,’ says Mike Mazza, CEO and founder of ButlerTech. ‘Should any user need help or additional advice during their city stay, there is also a support chat section to message one of our assistants. Travellers can now rely on one single app for everything they might need during their city visit.’

For the launch, the app features eight cities: London, Manchester (England), Bangkok, Melbourne, Pattaya, Phuket, Singapore, and Sydney. Further destinations in Asia, Europe, and the US are to be added in the coming months including Hong Kong, Manila, Kuala Lumpur, Milan, and Rome.

CityButler is free to download in the App Store and is available to use on desktop via www.citybutler.co. The Android and tablet versions will be available by the end 2016.


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Picture Credit: Singapore CBD at night</a> via <a href="http://photopin.com">photopin

Monday, 28 March 2016

Records broken for international visits to UK

A JANUARY record has been set for the number of international visits to the UK, up six percent on the same month last year. The Office for National Statistics figures show that more than 2.5 million visits were made in January 2016, with visitors spending £1.28 billion.

While this figure doesn’t quite match the highs of the summer months, when a record-breaking 3.7 million international visits were made in July alone last year, this traditionally quieter month represents an encouraging start to the year, according to VisitBritain director Patricia Yates.

VisitBritain recently launched its largest international marketing campaign for 2016 to promote memorable ‘moments’ that can be found only in Britain, to drive tourism across all the nations and regions.

Tourism is Britain’s seventh-largest export industry and third-largest service sector. Inbound tourism is worth more than £26 billion to the UK economy.


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Maltese Islands best in the Med for divers

THE MALTESE ISLANDS once again claimed third place in the category for 'Best Diving Destination' at the recent International Dive Show in London. The award places #Gozo and #Malta as the most popular #diving destination in the Mediterranean, as voted for by thousands of Diver magazine readers.

The Maltese Archipelago offers a diverse range of diving experiences to suit all levels, from beginners to experienced divers. The islands have a varied marine-life, a choice of submerged wrecks, and almost 50 professional diving centres.

Malta Tourism Authority CEO Paul Bugeja said: ‘The reasons for Malta's popularity are many: the clean and clear waters that surround our islands, the diversity of underwater experiences, and the sterling work carried out by the local diving community in improving the products and services offered. The award continues to prove that Gozo and Malta are must-see diving destinations.’

First place and second places in the DIVER Destination of the Year award went to Egypt and the Maldives respectively.


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Picture Credit: underwater scenery</a> via <a href="http://photopin.com">photopin

Record year for Costa Rican tourism

2015 WAS a record year for inbound tourism to #CostaRica, with revenue from tourism up by nine percent. 

International tourist numbers hit an all-time high, with more than 2.66 million visitors arriving at all ports of entry, an increase of 5.5 percent on 2014.

There were 49,499 visitors from the UK, an increase of 20.1 percent on 2014 – the highest rise of all European markets, with France coming in second with an increase of 10.2 percent.

The country’s tourism board is predicting further growth this year, following the introduction of direct British Airways flights from London Gatwick in April.


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Picture Credit: impatient waterfall</a> via <a href="http://photopin.com">photopin

Tui confirms sale of Meon Villas

TUI has confirmed it has sold Meon Villas to #luxury #villa specialist Oliver's Travels.

Meon Villas, part of Tui's Specialist Holidays Group, was closed at the end of October last year after a decision to focus on the hotel villas featured by sister brand Sovereign Holidays. Tui said that the villa operator's assets, including its client and trade database and the Meon name, had been sold for an undisclosed sum. It is likely to retain around 15 of the 80 property contracts which Meon had.

Oliver's Travels has villas and chateaux in Europe and the Caribbean. The acquisition will allow it to increase its villa portfolio in key Mediterranean destinations.


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Sunday, 27 March 2016

Australia issues Bali travel advisory

THE Australian government has issued a #Bali travel warning, saying terrorist attacks in Indonesia are expected and calling for caution while visiting the country.

After the release of the travel advisory, cruise ships began cancelling their stops in Bali, which was preparing to welcome more than 60 cruise ships this year.


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Not the End of the Pier show


HASTINGS-BORN Graham McPherson – aka Madness lead singer #Suggs – has fixed the final screw to complete the re-decking of Hastings Pier following a £15 million renovation project.

Scheduled to open to the public in late April, Madness will headline a gala opening celebration on the pier on May 21. In its heyday, the pier hosted many of the best US and British musicians, including The Rolling Stones, Pink Floyd, and Jimi Hendrix.

First opened in 1872, the 890ft-long pier enjoyed many years of popularity, but the gradual decline in the British seaside in the 70's and 80's led to poor maintenance and declining visitor numbers. The pier was closed in 2008 and a fire in 2010 all but destroyed the superstructure.

Tickets for the Madness concert and the gala re-opening day celebrations are available from the Hastings Pier website.

www.hpcharity.co.uk



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Looking for spring?


The Uists, Scotland

These windswept twin isles off Scotland’s Atlantic coast are perfect for a late spring break. Much of the west coast of both North Uist, South Uist, and the isle of Benbecula, connects by causeway and is laced with a necklace of white sand beaches, topped with machair – the name for a band of grassy coastal dunes that burst alive with bird song and an explosion of wildflowers in spring. Birdwatchers should head to North Uist’s Balranald RSPB Reserve for rare sightings of the corncrake and other ‘machair birds’

How to get there

The Outer Hebrides are connected to the mainland by Western Isle ferries from mainland ports such as Oban in Argyll and Malaig in Lochaber. Alternatively, flights to Stornoway (Isle of Lewis) operate from Glasgow, Inverness, and Edinburgh.

Wiltshire, England

At Bowood Rhododendron Gardens, stroll through 60 acres of woodland. The garden was planted in 1854 and as well as its collection of different rhododendron types, it’s also home to azaleas, magnolias, and more than 30 hybrid varieties thought until recently to be extinct. Open late April to mid June, depending on flowering season.

How to get there

If you’re coming long distance, fly to Bristol, hire a car at the airport and take the M4 towards Swindon, coming off at J17.

El Hierro, Canary Islands

The wildest of the seven main Canary Isles is the last thing that Columbus saw as he literally sailed off the map in search of the New World. This little visited oasis is a contrast to the popular main island of the western Canaries, Tenerife. Its hills and meadows glisten with flowers in early spring.

How to get there

Ferries between Tenerife and El Hierro, and flights from Tenerife Norte Airport.

Seville, Spain

Too hot in summer and too cold in winter, this sultry southern Spanish charmer is perfect in spring. Those renowned Seville orange trees appreciate the rise in temperature, as do the tourists enjoying one of Europe’s most romantic old cities – at this time of year pleasantly devoid of the crowds. Look out for Seville’s Feria de Abril de Sevilla festival (April 12-17), filling the streets with flamenco dancing and parades.

How to get there

Direct flights to Seville from London Gatwick, and regional airports such as Bristol and Newcastle.

Kitzbüheler Horn Wildflower Garden, Austria

This skiing region takes on new hues as the snows melt on the Großglockner and Wilder Kaiser mountains. Meander across the hillsides, taking in the array of flora collected by plant enthusiasts Eva and Toni Hofer. May is normally the best time to visit.

How to get there

Kitzbühel is in Austria’s Tyrol region and accessible from Innsbruck Airport by car or train in just over an hour. You can also fly to Salzburg, slightly further away to the east.

New England, USA

Mention New England and most people instantly think of the famous seasonal colours that have made this the place in the US to head in autumn. Go in spring, though, and you’ll see the trees and shrubs wake up from their winter slumber in a swathe of spring shades. A road trip is the best way to appreciate the blossoms and emergence of new life – call in to Fairfield, Connecticut, to see candy-coloured dogwoods and the Heritage Museums and Gardens in Cape Cod for rhododendrons.

How to get there

Boston, Massachusetts, is a good place to start an East coast road trip.


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Picture Credit: Unforeseen Kiss</a> via <a href="http://photopin.com,Yellow Rhodie</a> via <a href="http://photopin.com">photopin

Eurostar considers London to Bordeaux route

#EUROSTAR is considering a service from London to Bordeaux, taking less than four hours. The company said the first-ever direct trains from London to the city in south-west France could follow its upcoming Amsterdam service.

The Amsterdam service is due to be available from 2017 following the service to Marseilles, in the south of France, launched last summer.

A fast service to Bordeaux would be possible following the completion of a £6.1 billion high-speed link from Tours, south-west of Paris, to the city expected next year.

Eurostar reported that its profits had suffered last year, with a 38% fall to £34 million, due to the migrant crisis in Calais, which led to a number of delays and cancellations.


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Saturday, 26 March 2016

£27.7 million plan to create ‘iconic’ Welsh destinations

A EUROPEAN UNION funding package for tourism in Wales has been unveiled with a potential total value of £85 million – the single biggest EU investment made in the sector.

Backed by £27.7 million from the European Regional Development Fund, the scheme aims to create 10 ‘must visit’ holiday destinations in Wales. It is hoped the scheme will play a part in increasing the tourism sector in Wales by 10% by 2020.

‘This announcement brings us one step closer to creating some iconic destinations for Wales,’ says Wales’ minister for economy, science and transport, Edwina Hart. ‘Our tourism strategy for Wales looks at the need to develop more reputation-changing products for Wales. By focusing efforts and investment on key projects in each region, we can have a real impact on Wales’ profile in this globally competitive market.’

She said the aim is for these destinations is to give ‘compelling reasons for people to visit Wales or stay in Wales for a holiday’.

‘Tourism is one of our key sectors and generates £8.7 billion for the Welsh economy and employs 15% of the workforce. The industry is in very good shape; we’ve seen successive annual increases in visitor volumes and expenditure, both in the British and international markets.’

Go Holiday editor David Kernek comments: This is welcome news for the Welsh tourist industry, but before we send our thanks to the EU for its generosity, it should not be forgotten that this just money coming back to Britain, which contributes £350 million a week to the EU’s accounts.


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A dog’s life … in the back of the car


PET behaviour counsellor Kris Glover and comfort-insurance.co.uk offer families advice on taking their dogs with them on a holiday in the country

A CLASSIC sign of anxiety from dogs is dribbling in the vehicle. Being in a car for a long time is not comfortable or natural for dogs, so it’s important to acclimatize them to their new surroundings.

To lower anxiety, put your pet in the vehicle next to you while feeding treats and leaving the door open. The dog shouldn’t feel trapped and having them on the lead will help maintain control. Repeat these sessions, but ensure they are short and frequent. Providing familiar bedding and favourite toys will help settle your dog.

Once the dog is relaxed, the vehicle’s door should be shut. Again, feed treats before letting your pet out. If you’re satisfied your dog is comfortable, feed meals within the car but observe from outside so they get used to being inside alone.

The last stage should be turning the vehicle’s engine on and allowing it to run while your pet is inside eating. A lot of practice and time is needed to help your pet learn to tolerate the vehicle. When this has been achieved, it’s then time to drive a short distance (around 100 yards) with your pet inside with treats, food and its familiar toys alongside. Once happy with this, plan a trip with your pet to a destination that would be good for them. Arriving at a fun holiday destination or park will help your pet associate vehicle journeys with positive destinations, rather than ending up at the vets.

For the journey …

It is essential the dog has an opportunity to go to the toilet prior to a long journey.

Dogs like comfort. So moving their bed from the house into the vehicle will allow them to feel as comfy as possible, and therefore as relaxed as possible.

A dog is much more likely to settle if they are prevented from seeing exciting things outside (e.g. a dog walking past), so try to place the dog’s bed in a location where he or she can’t see out of the windows. There will be some dogs who are more settled if they can see outside, so if your dog ticks that box, position their bed so they can see through the window.

Give them something to do. A food toy or a long lasting chew will give them a focus during the journey.

Make sure the dog has access to water (anti-spill water bowls are ideal for vehicle travel) if the inside temperature of the motorhome or vehicle is overly warm. Make sure the dog has an opportunity every two to three hours for a leg stretch and toilet break.

If holidaying abroad, consider whether the vehicle insurance includes the relevant cover. Motorhome insurance from Comfort Insurance includes up to £2,500 cover for pets.

www.comfort-insurance.co.uk


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Travel companies back end to elephant abuse

A CAMPAIGN by international animal charity World Animal Protection (WAP) to end the abuse of elephants in the tourism industry has secured the help of more than 100 travel companies. 

In total, 114 global companies have agreed with WAP that elephant rides and shows are cruel and should end. The travel companies, include TUI Benelux, Thomas Cook Northern Europe, and Intrepid Travel Group.

‘Leading travel brands see the value of animal protection,’ says executive director at WAP Canada, Josey Kitson. ‘Many of the companies we've engaged with in Canada such as G Adventures, The Travel Corporation, and World Expeditions, as well as those globally, including Intrepid Travel, have welcomed the opportunity to stand with us to protect wildlife.’

Despite this large number, there are still travel companies yet to commit to ending elephant rides and other cruel elephant entertainment. In order to make elephants submit to rides and other human interactions, they are taken from their mothers as babies and forced through a training practice known as 'the crush'. This process involves physical restraints, severe pain, and the withholding of food and water. By the time tourists come to ride an elephant, its spirit has been broken.

When not performing or used for rides, most elephants are kept chained and isolated from each other.

‘World Animal Protection wants to see this cruelty stop,’ Ms Kitson adds, ‘and tourists can help by avoiding animal attractions while on vacation and encouraging more companies to join our movement.’


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New record for cruise passenger numbers from UK and Ireland

A RECORD 1,789,000 passengers from the UK and Ireland took an ocean cruise in 2015, a nine percent rise year-on-year and the highest increase in seven years, according to statistics published by the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA).

UK and Ireland, which saw 145,000 more passengers take a cruise in 2015, also has the highest growth rate out of all the major European countries.

The number of Europeans taking an ocean cruise holiday has also grown – since 2008, the market has increased by 49 percent, proving both the cruise industry’s resilience to economic downturns and, says the CLIA, the value provided by a cruise holiday.

A Mediterranean cruise was the most popular holiday choice for Brits, accounting for 672,000 passengers, although the Atlantic Islands (Canaries and Madeira) had the best ever year with a record 188,000 passengers. The Caribbean reclaimed more passengers after a three-year lull.

The number of UK passengers starting their cruise at home rather than overseas grew strongly, with UK cruise departures now accounting for 47% of the market. It was another successful year for British ports overall; in total, more than one million UK and international passengers visited a British port during a cruise, a figure that has more than doubled in six years.

CLIA UK and Ireland Director Andy Harmer commented: ‘The cruise industry’s continued confidence in the UK market is clearly demonstrated by an increasing number of ships that will sail from British ports in the coming years.’



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Friday, 25 March 2016

Las Colinas Golf & Country Club aims to be Spain's best

LAS COLINAS GOLF & COUNTRY CLUB is looking to retain its crown as Spain's leading villa resort having been shortlisted again by the World Travel Awards.

Says Cristóbal Guerrero, the resorts director general: ‘We are thrilled to be shortlisted once again for these awards. It would be a real honour to continue as Spain's leading villa resort, with aspirations to go one better and become the best in Europe.’

#LasColinas #Golf & Country Club is south of #Alicante. It is possible to purchase an apartment or villa in the grounds, with an extra 56 apartments and 36 detached villas being built in 2016 due to increased demand. Apartments start at €250,000 (£197,000), with villas starting at €490,000 (£387,000).

For sport lovers, Las Colinas has Spain's best golf course (World Golf Awards 2015), a golf academy, tennis and paddle tennis courts, and a gym.


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Bake Off & MasterChef finalists to star at Blenheim Palace Food Fest


THE BLENHEIM PALACE FOOD FESTIVAL returns for the second year running at the May bank holiday weekend (May 28-30).

Building on the success of the 2015 festival, which had 20,000 visitors, this year's events will feature more demonstrations, more local producers and more tastings.

Visitors are invited to explore flavours, learn new culinary skills, and meet local chefs and TV personalities.

The festival promises:

· Regional food and drink from 120 stallholders, including artisan bakes, craft brews, gourmet burgers, international cuisine, traditional ices, and handmade sweets.

· A Demonstration Theatre featuring a packed programme of events including demonstrations by Great British Bake Off and MasterChef finalists

· Interactive food events and tastings

· Children's entertainment

· Hay-baled picnic areas


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London calling …

A MAJOR campaign to publicize #London as a tourist destination has been launched. ‘Fans of London’ will be promoted through VisitLondon.com and will showcase events, exhibitions, and anniversaries being celebrated in the English capital this year. The target market is North America. 

The campaign is based on four short films, each featuring an American ‘super fan’ as they take part in an ‘experience’ to celebrate:

· The Queen’s 90th birthday

· The 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s legacy

· Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

· An exhibition telling the story of the Rolling Stones, Exhibitionism, which opens at the Saatchi Gallery in London next month (April)

Chris Gottlieb, chief marketing and communications officer at London & Partners said: ‘Fans of London is about showcasing the unmissable events and celebrations taking place across the capital this year. London has an event for everyone and the four films we are producing showcase that diversity.’


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Happy Easter!


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Thursday, 24 March 2016

Vivid Sydney festival programme unveiled




THE programme for this year’s Vivid #Sydney festival (May 27-June 18) has been unveiled.

The musical headliners this year include English electronic pioneers New Order, who will play four nights, including two with the Australian Chamber Orchestra in the Sydney Opera House, and Bjork.

A first for the festival will be an eight-hour overnight performance in the Joan Sutherland Theatre by German-born British contemporary composer, Max Richter.

Taronga Zoo will be on the bill with a light walk that features ten enormous light sculptures, each representing a critically endangered animal. Each will be the size of a two-storey house.

The festival is the largest of its kind in the world and last year attracted 1.7 million domestic and international visitors to New South Wales.

www.vividsydney.com


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Iconic Italian destination acts curb visitor numbers





A TICKETING system for a stretch of coastline in #Liguria, #Italy, is to be introduced this summer to limit the number of tourists walking the Cinque Terre trail.

There are plans to severely reduce the number of tourists visiting the #CinqueTerre UN world heritage area because the rugged coastal area risks being wrecked by coach parties and cruise ships.

Approximately 2.5 million tourists poured into the picturesque park in north-west Italy's Liguria region last year to visit the five small fishing villages, which are connected by narrow cliffside trails. Residents say day-trippers from cruise ships docking at nearby ports have overwhelmed their communities and the head of the Cinque Terre park said no more than 1.5 million visitors would be admitted this year.

‘We will certainly be criticized for this, but for us it is a question of survival,’ says Vittorio Alessandro, president of the Ente Parco Nazionale delle Cinque Terre.

Roads leading to the area are being fitted with devices to gauge the number of people heading to the villages and once a certain number has been reached, access will be closed.

Accessed by steep, winding roads, the Cinque Terre was once a remote backwater. But tourist numbers have risen sharply in recent years partly as a result of cruise companies adding more Italian destinations to their itineraries as other Mediterranean ports, such as Tunisia, lost their appeal following terrorist attacks.


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Mary Berry to open Salcombe Crabfest


#MARYBERRY will open the #Salcombe #Crabfest in South Devon on May 1.

Her fans will have the chance to become CrabFest Patrons and join a Q&A session at which Ms Berry will talk about her life.

The festival will feature:

· A demo kitchen and programme of talks by chefs and food writers

· Hotels and restaurants serving menu dishes using the best seafood and shellfish caught off the South Devon coast

· Local food to buy from local producers

· Demos on how to make crab pots

· A heritage crabber boat and modern day crabber at the town's Normandy Quay for people to explore

· Live music

· Activities for children, courtesy of Coast & Country Cottages

Run by the Rotary Club of Salcombe, all funds raised by will be donated to local charities.

www.salcombecrabfest.co.uk.


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Picture Credit: Copyright www.devonscenes.co.uk.jpg

Falmouth named best place to live in the south-west


#FALMOUTH, #Cornwall, has topped Sunday Times’ Best Places to Live list. Fifteen south-west locations have been named, with Falmouth being named as the best in the region.

The locations were selected for offering the best quality of life to the widest number of people, combining desirable features such as a positive community spirit, engaging festivals, good local shops and services, and attractive outdoor spaces.

The annual lists also take in to account data about house prices, crime rates, and school performance.

Commenting on the recognition, Richard Wilcox, Falmouth BID manager, and Richard Gates, Falmouth town manager who oversees Falmouth’s Town Team said: ‘This is tremendous news as The Best Places to Live listings are not only highly regarded but comprehensively researched. And it’s a real testament to the special community that we have here, one that fosters a real pride of place.

‘As a Town Team, we’re very fortunate to work not only in an extremely beautiful location but also within a pro-active environment where so many individuals and organizations are willing to pull together, volunteer to support events, and engage in town improvement schemes. Add into that mix a wonderful coastline, a diverse and eclectic business sector, award-winning beaches, parks and gardens, and it makes for Falmouth being a very special town to live in or indeed visit.’

Dave Yelland 0f the Falmouth Bay Residents Association said: ‘Falmouth is a cosmopolitan little town which uniquely combines beautiful visitor attractions with modern marine industries, two thriving universities, an enviable maritime heritage, and a year-round programme of festivals and cultural activities. All this contributes to an active community and can-do spirit making Falmouth the place where everyone wants to be and no-one wants to leave.’


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Picture Credit: Falmouth Marina, Panorama, NIKON D3100. DSC_0130-0132.</a> via <a href="http://photopin.com">photopin

Wednesday, 23 March 2016

Norwegian launches three Spanish routes from Manchester

NORWEGIAN is launching flights from Manchester to three Spanish destinations this summer.

· From April 30, two weekly flights will take off for Barcelona.

· From June 2, four weekly flights will depart to Malaga.

· Two weekly flights to Alicante will start from June 3.

Fares start from £34.90 each way.


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Mr & Mrs Smith reveals portfolio of luxury villas

BOUTIQUE hotel booking service #Mr&MrsSmith is expanding its range to include what it calls “seriously seductive” villas.

Launching with a selection of privately-owned #luxury properties, the initial collection features villas in Ibiza and Majorca. They can be viewed online at mrandmrssmith.com/luxury-villas.

The 100 homes range from a farmhouse in Ibiza to family beachside bolthole.

‘The hotels we work with have their own serviced luxury #villas,’ says James Lohan founder of Mr & Mrs Smith, ‘so we know our customers have an appetite for the flexibility and facilities they provide. We want to continue to offer the absolute best when it comes to stylish stays, so this new collection of independently-owned villas in Ibiza and Majorca, where we have such high demand, means we can find the perfect retreats for an even bigger pool of sun-seekers – be it a love-struck pair looking for total tranquillity or a family looking for room to be rowdy.’

A specialist Smith team of on-island consultants are on hand to support customers during their stay.

A seven-night stay in a Mr & Mrs Smith villa costs from £3,473.


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