In the News this Week...

brought to you by News Editor, Roger Bray
  • Brexit

    EU staff shortage hits Highlands hotels

    about 2 hours ago

    Brexit threatens a staffing crisis for hotels in the Scottish Highlands as job applications from the EU slow to a trickle. That is the warning from the Inverness Hotels Association, which fears that despite booming tourism to the region, some properties may even be forced to close if no action is taken. Chairman Emanuel Moine said, “Poles, for example, were worried they would be asked to go home. There is also the problem of the exchange rate. They would now rather go to Ireland, which uses the euro.” The problem was particularly acute for smaller, independent properties and those in remote areas. “I think they are relying even more on staff coming from Europe. There was a need to build a domestic workforce but local people don’t see hospitality as a career in the way those from countries such as Poland and Hungary do”. The problem clearly represents an opportunity for private bed and breakfast owners and those renting through Airbnb. The Highlands are unlikely to be alone. The irony is that just as a weaker £ promises to attract more tourists to the UK, a slide in service levels may deter them from booking again.

  • Ba airbus 742843 pixabay

    British Airways

    BA to launch new summer flights

    1 day ago

    New flights to Ljubljana and Montpellier are scheduled to take off from Heathrow next summer. British Airways will fly to the Slovenian capital and the French city – which is close to the Mediterranean coast between Narbonne and Marseille – from 15 July to 2 September. Services to the former will operate on Mondays and Fridays. Those to southwest France will depart four times a week, on Mondays, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays. Meanwhile China Eastern has begun flying from London to Shanghai. The airline is operating three round trips a week between Gatwick and Pudong Airport, using Airbus A330-200 aircraft. Non-stop flights, taking 11hrs 40minutes, depart from London at 11.50am, 12.10pm or noon, on Fridays, Sundays or Tuesdays respectively. They are scheduled to arrive at 7.30am next morning. Westbound services will depart at 1.45am on the same days, reaching Gatwick at 6.30am.

  • Monarch butterflies credit luis avalos via wikimedia commons

    Monarch Burreflies by Luis Avalos via Wikimedia Commons

    Butterfly migration package launched

    4 days ago

    The extraordinary 3000 mile migration of Monarch butterflies from North America to Mexico is the focal point of a holiday launched by newly formed tour firm Awesome Experiences. The best time to see them is in January and February, when customers will be taken to the fir forests near Angangueo in the Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve, some 60 miles northwest of Mexico City, where thousands of the large, vividly coloured butterflies – their wingspan can stretch to over four inches – cover the branches. Most of the wintering Monarchs from eastern North America are found there. The package, which also includes a hot air balloon ride over the ancient pyramids of Teotihuacán, costs from £2,415 a head. That doesn’t include international flights.

  • Snowshoeing

    Snowshoeing

    Pyrenees on snowshoe – new holidays

    5 days ago

    A range of new snowshoeing holidays have been launched by specialist tour operator Purely Pyrenees. Likely to appeal to silver skiers tired of Europe’s often busy pistes, they take guests off the beaten track on to silent valleys, often on virgin snow. There are four options, all at low levels of difficult and starting with lessons for those who haven’t experienced walking on snowshoes. Daily excursions will be led by qualified guides and the company says groups will not exceed 15. Further details at www.purelypyrenees.com.

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    Ryanair

    CAA takes compensation action against Ryanair

    6 days ago

    The UK civil Aviation Authority has launched legal action against Ryanair following the airline’s decision that EU rules do not oblige it to compensate passengers hit when its staff went on strike in the summer. Disruption cause the cancellation of hundreds of flights. After passengers’ claims were rejected by Ryanair, they were able to take resolve disputes. But, said the Authority, the airline had pulled out of its agreement with AviationADR. Ryanair’s argument is that it was exempted from paying compensation because the strikes represented ‘extraordinary circumstances’ beyond its control. The CAA contends that they did not, and that the airline should pay up. It advised passengers with strike related claims that they would not have to wait for the result of its enforcement action.

  • The twelve apostles victoria australia

    The Twelve Apostles, Victoria, Australia

    New Aussie luxury train bookings open

    6 days ago

    Bookings have opened for travel on Australia’s latest luxury train journey. Great Southern Rail’s new service will run between Adelaide and Brisbane. It joins the operator’s established journeys, between Adelaide and Darwin on The Ghan and Sydney-Perth aboard the Indian Pacific. There will be 16 departures during its inaugural season, which will start on 6 December next year and finish on 17 January 2020. On the two night, three day trip to Brisbane here will be en route opportunities to visit Grampians National Park, the capital Canberra, and he northern New South Wales coast. On the four-day southwest bound journey passengers will be able to spend an immersive day in the wine growing Hunter Valley and take in Victoria’s Twelve Apostles. Two locomotives will haul 28 coaches accommodating up to 214 passengers. Fares. Including meals and drinks on board and excursions, start at AU$1649 (about £930 at the current exchange rate) for a single traveller and $1,829 for two (about £1,033).

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    Norwegian

    Gatwick to get budget Brazil flights

    7 days ago

    Budget flights from Gatwick to Brazil are scheduled to take off next spring. Starting on 31 March, low cost airline Norwegian will operate four round trips a week to Rio de Janeiro by Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner, with fares starting at £239 one way – or £549 in Premium. Flights will depart on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays. Outbound services will depart at noon, arriving at 7.25pm. London bound flights will leave a 10.15pm, arriving at 1.35pm next day. On the same date the airline will change the destinations of two existing services from Gatwick. Flights to Oakland will land in San Francisco and Fort Lauderdale services will operate to Miami. Norwegian says the switch will bring in more business traffic and cargo revenue.

  • Heathrow launches app for visually impaired

    8 days ago

    Visually impaired passengers using Heathrow can now download a free app which connects them directly to a trained agent who will help them find locations in the terminals. Advice will include how to get to gates, special assistance facilities, retail outlets and restaurants. It will also provide news of any problems affecting their trips. The app is called Aira. It can also be used to pre-booked special assistance from their airline.

  • Cambodia jungle trekking

    Cambodia jungle trekking

    Cambodian jungle trek launched

    11 days ago

    Hikers will sleep in jungle hammocks on a new small group hiking holiday in the Cambodia launched for next year by specialist tour operator Walks Worldwide. The route, described as of moderate difficulty, runs though Virachey National Park, in the northeast of the country, a mixture of semi evergreen lowlands, bamboo thickets, cloud forest and savannah. Guided by an indigenous forest ranger. Walkers will trek deep into the jungle, sometimes on unmade paths cut by machete and are promise a swim in a natural pool. The itinerary includes a visit to the temple complex at Angkor Wat and a boat trip to see endangered Mekong dolphins. There will be three departures, in March, October and November. The ten night trip costs £2,100 including B&B, some meals and return flights to Phnom Penh.

  • Sta winners 2018

    Debbie Marshall with the Gold award at the British Travel Awards

    Silver Travel Advisor wins top award

    12 days ago

    The team at Silver Travel Advisor are thrilled to have won Gold at the British Travel Awards for Best Travel Review/Ratings Website. MD Debbie Marshall said, “What’s so important to us is that these awards are voted for by the general public. We are so pleased that our website is offering a service that clearly resonates with its readers. And a big thank you to all who voted”. In the past, Silver Travel Advisor has won Bronze and Silver in this category at the British Travel Awards.

  • Brexit

    No deal Brexit threatens ports disruption, MPs warn

    12 days ago

    Ferry passengers including cross Channel travellers, face a risk of disruption at ports if the UK leaves the EU in March without a deal, MPs have warned. And the threat deepens as time runs out to deliver want is needed, says the House of Commons Public Accounts Select Committee in its latest report. “There is a real risk of major disruption at our ports. The slow progress and poor communication around work to avoid this through schemes such as Operation Brock concerns us.” Operation Brock is a contingency plan to create giant lorry park by introducing a contraflow system on a 13 mile section of the M20 between junction eight near Maidstone and junction nine near Ashford in Kent. The committee says: “With only months to go, it is extremely worrying that we are seeing these same concerns again and again with little progress being made. Even if a deal is agreed, the Department faces a challenging workload during the proposed transition period.”

  • Celebrity flora

    Celebrity Flora

    Cruise ship to offer glamping at sea

    13 days ago

    Cruise passengers on a new ship designed for trips to the Galapagos Islands will be able to camp on deck. Celebrity Cruises claims it’s the first ever glamping experience at sea. Subject to an extra charge, two pairs of travellers on the Celebrity Flora will be able to book well separated cabanas. Each will get one for sleeping, the other for eating dinner and a full bed-side breakfast. They’ll have the services of a naturalist who’ll help them identify stars and constellations. The Flora will make her debut sailing in late May next year.

  • Krakow

    Krakow

    New budget flights announced

    14 days ago

    Continuing uncertainty over the impact of Brexit has not deterred low cost airline Wizz Air from announcing the launch of new services from UK airports to Krakow and Budapest. From 4 April the central and eastern European operator will fly twice daily to the Polish city from Luton. And from 2 May it will operate three round rips a week there from Doncaster Sheffield Airport, with departures on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. Meanwhile, starting on 31 March, the airline will fly daily between Gatwick and Budapest.

  • Boeing 737 max

    Boeing 737 MAX 8

    TUI passengers to get streaming service

    15 days ago

    Holidaymakers on some TUI jets will be able to stream movies and other entertainment from their electronic devices this winter. The operator is launching a trial of the free service, called Navigate, aboard its Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft, which are due to join the TUI Airways UK fleet starting this week. Streaming, via an inflight server, will be available on short to medium haul flights to destinations including Croatia and the Canary Islands. Passengers will also be able to browse and book excursions from their seats TUI says 79% of customers on such flights say a selection of films is an important part of their enjoyment.

  • Atlas mountains

    Atlas Mountains

    Moroccan hotel offers gentle hikes

    18 days ago

    A Moroccan hotel is offering guided half-day walks in the Atlas Mountains – a region better known for lengthier treks. Hikes from the hilltop Kasbah Angour are designed for guests who want moderate walking. Led by a multilingual guide they start and finish at the property and last from 2hrs 30mins to 4 hours. There’s a choice of itineraries that are undemanding on limbs, taking in Berber villages. The hotel, in the foothills of the Atlas range, has 25 rooms and a pool with a view of the mountains. It also offers more strenuous full-day walks and other activities such as a two-day ascent of Mount Toukbal and 4X4 excursions, Rates start at £108 a night (B&B) and half-day walks cost around £24 per person. More information

  • Denbies

    Denbies Wine Estate

    Vineyard hotel planned

    19 days ago

    As the reputation of English wines continues to grow, the country’s largest vineyard has unveiled plans to open a hotel. As part of a £4m investment programme, Denbies Wine Estate, near Dorking in Surrey, will convert its existing B&B into a new property with 17 bedrooms a bar and a restaurant. Guests will be able to taste the full range of Denbies’ wines from a dispensing machine linked to their room key cards. The hotel is expected to open in time for next summer. The estate, which attracts some 350,000 visitors a year, also plans to quadruple its sparkling wine production by the end of next year and introduce six new varietals, plante over four acres, to expand its range of still wines.

  • Kuelap %28credit jyb devot cc by sa 4.0 %28httpscreativecommons.orglicensesby sa4

    Kuelap by JYB Devot via Creative Commons under licence CC BY-SA 4.0

    Specialist operator launches new Peru tours

    20 days ago

    Tailor-made tours to Northern Peru have been launched by Tucan Travel, which specialises in the country. Available as private trips with variable hotels and activities according to customers’ preferences, they take in an area of Peru ignored by many travellers, whose attractions include Kuelap, an site older than Machu Picchu, which can now be reached by cable car. Kuelap was founded by the Chachapoyas. Known as the Warriors of the Clouds, who were conquered by the Incas not long before the arrival of the Spanish. Hattie Seal, who specialises in personalised travel at Tucan, says “Kuelap is a fantastic alternative for people which have already visited Machu Picchu or who want to see a quieter region of Peru.” Holidays start and finish in Lima. They last eleven days. Prices start at £1,689 for each of two sharing, including some meals, internal flights and other transport, a visit to Kuelap, hikes and various other tours, including one of Lima.

  • Club med miches beach

    Club Med Miches Beach

    New Club Med resort in Dominican Republic planned

    21 days ago

    Club Med is to open a new resort in the Dominican Republic in December next year. The oceanfront property will comprise four ‘boutique villages’, two for adults only. The 93 acre Club Miches Playa Esmeralda will be part of Club Med’s Exclusive Collection. The company claims it will be the first resort on the Miches region, about 1hr 30min north of the well established Punta Cana holiday area. Local attractions include Laguna Limon, a nature reserve with waterfalls, and Samana Bay, known for whale watching. Club Med say it has worked with government agencies to ensure a minimal environmental footprint and has planted trees to replace every one removed. Bookings are schedule to open in January.

  • Ski mountaineering 1375016 pixabay

    Senior skiers risking injury costs warns ABTA

    22 days ago

    Britain’s leading travel trade organisation claims more than a quarter of silver skiers and snowboarders have hit the slopes without checking they are covered by insurance. ABTA says its research shows 22% of Brits have taken a wintersports holiday have failed to confirm they have appropriate cover against accidents, a figure rising to £28% among over 55s. It has issued the warning as part of general wintersports travel advice in conjunction with the Foreign & Commonwealth Office. But while it constitutes a worthwhile reminder the figures are likely to raise eyebrows in the ski holiday business. Silver Travel Advisor readers, for example, are unlikely to have missed the huge volume of publicity about the sometimes enormous cost of evacuation and treatment after accidents on the snow. And ski holiday operators such as Crystal and Inghams insist in their terms and conditions that customers have insurance.

  • South tyrol cycling

    South Tyrol cycling

    Cycling through South Tyrol – new tour

    25 days ago

    A new leisurely cycling tour of South Tyrol has been launched by specialist tour operator Freedom Treks. Starting in Bolzano and pedalling 25 – 45 kilometres a day, customers follow the Adige river past vineyards through land and townscapes shaped first by Austrian, then Italian influences. The route runs through he city of Trento, formerly part of Austria-Hungary an annexed by Italy after the First World War, with its medieval and Renaissance centre, alpine botanical garden and science museum design by Renzo Pianos, and finishes on Lake Garda. The tour is self guided and costs from £555 or each of two sharing. Departures start on 6 April. That includes six nights’ B&B accommodation, luggage transfer between hotels, maps and information. Bike hire (£74), helmets, flights and transfers and tourist tax are extra.