In the News this Week...

brought to you by News Editor, Roger Bray
  • Adagio and novotel leicester exterior 3   image credit evoke pictures

    image by Evoke Pictures

    Tourism boost for Leicester as new hotels open

    3 days ago

    Leicester has two new hotels. The 154 room Novotel and extended stay Aparthotel Adagio are part of the £50m city centre Great Central Square development. The openings reflect optimism that Leicester can attract more tourists, building on the surge of interest that followed the discovery of Richard III’s remains under a car park there in 2012 and the opening, two years later, of a visitor centre focusing on the find and the history of England’s last Plantagenet king. The new hotels are in walking distance of the New Walk Museum and Art Gallery and 20 minutes on foot from the station.

  • Viking

    How new ships will look

    Cruise "industry first" for new expedition ships

    4 days ago

    Two new expedition ships to be launched by Viking Cruises will incorporate enclosed “in-ship” marinas, allowing passengers to board excursion boats without being exposed to wind and waves. Claimed to be an industry first, they will feature 85ft slipways behind opening doors. The vessels, Vikings Octantis and Polaris, will have hulls strengthened again ice and stabilisers designed to reduce rolling by 50% when the ships are stationary. They will carry 387 guests in 189 staterooms. The former will begin sailing to the Great Lakes and Antarctica in January 2022. The latter will debut in August that year cruising to Antarctica and the Arctic. Viking has established partnerships with several research institutions whose scientists –in one case ornithologists – will travel on the ships. All expedition voyages are already available to book.

  • Easyjet

    Sharm el Sheikh return for easyJet

    5 days ago

    EasyJet is to resume flying to Sharm el Sheikh after an absence of nearly five years. The move follows the lifting of Government restrictions on flights, imposed after the crash of a St Petersburg bound airliner not long after its departure from the Red Sea resort in October 2015. Several UK tour operators began selling holidays to Sharm el Sheikh again late last year. Starting on 7 June the airline will operate two ground trips a week there from Manchester. From 30 September it will also fly twice a week from Gatwick. Both services will operate year round. Expansion at Manchester will see easyJet increase flights from 1 June to Hurghada, another Red Sea resort. And from 4 and 7 June respectively it will add services from the airport to Menorca and Rome.

  • Seychelles club med

    Seychelles Club Med – bookings open

    6 days ago

    Bookings were set to open today for Club Med’s new “eco-resort on the private island of Sainte Anne, in the Seychelles. Set in a national park amid 220 hectares of greenery, it has been designed with the aim of preserving the archipelago’s natural beauty and wildlife. There will be no single use plastic and electric buggies will ferry guests around. The resort, which is scheduled to welcome its first guests in October, will have 294 rooms, three swimming pool, a spa with eleven treatment rooms s and a yoga school. It will be 15 minutes by speedboat from Victoria-Seychelles airport in Mahe. Likely to appeal to multi generation groups it is being promoted as “focused for families and couples alike” with “unparalleled luxury alongside fantastic childcare facilities”.

  • Nova scotia dgj 4697   cabot trail 6332393999

    Cabot Trail by Dennis Jarvis from Halifax, Canada [CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)]

    Nova Scotia flights for Manchester

    7 days ago

    Canadian low cost airline WestJet is to launch flights from Manchester to Nova Scotia. Starting in June it will operate four round trips a week to the provincial capital, Halifax, a jumping off point for tourists heading for Prince Edward and Cape Breton Islands. The latter is perhaps best known for the 298 kilometre Cabot Trail, a mix of dizzying cliffside roads and hiking paths around the island’s spectacular coast. WestJet already operfates to Halifax from Gatwick and Glasgow. Flights from Manchester will start on 6 June and operate until October 24. They will depart at 9.45am, arriving at 11.52am. Eastbound service will leave at 10.45pm, arriving at 8.10am next morning

  • Timgad

    Echoes of Rome’s power on new Algeria tours

    10 days ago

    Archaeology tours of Algeria are planned for later this year by specialist Andante Travels. Relatively little visited by tourists, the country has an impressive range of well preserved Roman ruins. For example, the trips will take in three UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Djemila, built in the first century AD, whose well preserved remains include those of a theatre, a paved forum and a majestic arch, is remarkable for its mountain location, 3000 feet above sea level. Timgad, whose construction was ordered by the Emperor Trajan around AD 100, retains its entire shape and street layout. UNESCO say it “illustrates Roman urban planning at its height”, which “must have served as a compelling image of the grandeur of Rome on Numidian soil”. Tipasa overlooks the Mediterranean west of Algiers in what was once the Roman province of Mauretania Caesariensis. A former Carthaginian trading centre, its ruins also reflect pre-Roman and early Christian influences. The ten day tours, led by experts, depart on 29 September and 1 November. They cost from £3695 per person.

  • Adventure travel show

    Taste of adventure at London travel show

    11 days ago

    Adventurous over-50s might head for London Olympia this weekend. Travel industry experts, guidebook writers and expedition leaders will gather there on Saturday and Sunday for the 24th annual Adventure Travel Show. Visitors will be able to consult 120 specialist adventure travel companies on anything from solo journeys, photography holidays and safaris to cycling and trekking and trips that avoid harming the environment. Experts will give more the 70 talks in four separate theatres, covering a range of topics from organising a DIY Kilimanjaro climb to a cycle journey from the Black Forest to the Black Sea. Seminars will include two on motorcycling adventures by Austin Vince and author and adventurer Lois Pryce – one for beginners, the other for those heading beyond Europe – and a session in the company of explorer Sir Ranulph Fiennes entitled “Living Dangerously”. Adult one day tickets bought in advance online on the show website for £11.

  • Anne bronte'  grave  scarborough. image by immanuel giel from wikimedia  commons

    Anne Bronte's original gravestone

    Scarborough set to celebrate Anne Bronte

    12 days ago

    The life of the least feted Bronte sister, Anne, will be celebrated at a series of events in Scarborough, starting this weekend. On 17January it will be 200 years since her birth. Anne loved the Yorkshire resort and used several locations there in her novel Agnes Grey. In 1849 she died there at only 29, as the result of tuberculosis, and is buried in St Mary’s Churchyard. From Saturday until 8 February there will be an exhibition at Woodend, birthplace of Edith Sitwell, including artwork created using pages from her other novel, The Tenant of Wildfell Hall. The book wil be the subject of one of several lectures on 17 January and events the following day at the Grand Hotel will include talks on the writer – and other strong Victorian women – and a walk to her grave. It runs until 8 February.
    Image shows Anne’s orginal headstone which showed the age at which she died incorrectly. The Bronte Society has since added a plaque correcting the mistake.

  • Jet2

    British budget airline among world’s most punctual

    13 days ago

    The UK’s Jet2 has emerged among the world’s top ten most punctual budget airline in the second survey of on time performance to be published this month. This one comes from the timetable and flight status information provider OAG. Jet2, whose headquarters are at Leeds-Bradford airport, is the only UK airline to make the top 20 low cost carriers. The research places it fifth, in the league table with 82.69% of its flights last year arriving on time. It defines punctual as within 15 minutes of the time scheduled. Among the top 20 “mega airlines” – those operating over 30 million seats in 2019 – British Airways was 14th and easyJet 17th, with 76.18% and 73.08% of flights arriving on time respectively. Aeroflot, which emerged top in the earlier survey, came second, just behind the Chile based LATAM Airlines group. Indonesia’s Garuda topped the overall table at 95.01. It should be borne in mind that airline do not function on a level playing field. On time performance can be seriously affected by geography, the balance of destinations served, runway congestion and weather.

  • Istockphoto 153677073

    Airports still pose problems for disabled passengers

    14 days ago

    Disabled passengers continue to suffer humiliation and loss of dignity at airports despite recent reported improvements. So says the consumer organisation Which? which cites numerous complaints about “appalling experiences”. Among its examples was a 76 year old with severe arthritis who, despite requesting special assistance, was left abandoned and had to “drag herself through Heathrow airport with no help at all. Which? asked the Research Institute for Disabled Consumers to conduct a survey among a panel of such travellers. It found 46% of those with reduced mobility had been deterred from flying during the past two years. Comparing five major airports it found Heathrow suffered the highest level of dissatisfaction (28%). Manchester saw the second highest proportion of dissatisfied passengers 22%). Gatwick achieved the highest level of satisfaction at 74%. The Civil Aviation Authority’s most recent annual report on disability access at the UK’s major airports said there was room for improvement but that its consumer survey showed 79% of those who requested special assistance had been satisfied with the survey. Heathrow told Which? it had invested over £23m in new equipment, facilities and training and continued to work with industry partners towards a seamless service for all its passengers. Manchester Airport, which had also been criticised by the CAA after a decline in performance pointed out that it had changed its special assistance provider. This had resulted in increased investment in staff and equipment “which is being reflected in an improved performance”.

  • Yosemite min

    Image by Free-Photo from Pixabay

    “Glampground” to open on Yosemite’s doorstep

    17 days ago

    A new “glamping” site is scheduled to open next year, 20 minutes from the entrance to Yosemite National Park. It will be operated by Under Canva, which will also open a new site in the Hudson Valley and another a short drive from Maine’s Acadia National Park, with its excellent hiking trails. The Yosemite “glampground” is on 85 acres of sequoia trees and meadow. It will have 90 “safari style” luxury tents with king size beds, en suite bathrooms and wood burning stoves, plus a tented café and lounge. The company already operates similar sites close to Yellowstone, Grand Canyon, Zion, Glacier, Arches, Mount Rushmore, Great Smoky Mountains and Saguaro (Tucson) National Parks.

  • Puerto plata 607348 1920 %281%29

    Puerto Plata cable car: image by Image by LouiseBrodeur from Pixabay

    Dominican Republic to get new cruise port

    18 days ago

    A new cruise terminal is scheduled to open towards the end of this year at Puerto Plata, on the north coast of the Dominican Republic. It is expected to cater for three ships at the same time and more than 150 in its first year. The city – its official name is San Felipe de Puerto Plata – is not far from La Isabela, a settlement founded by Columbus, and close to resorts of Playa and Costa Dorada. A cable car, thought to be the first in the Caribbean, runs from the city to Pico Isabel de Torres, a 793 metre mountain. In 2016 the Carnival cruise corporation opened its own port not far away at Amber Cove.

  • 800px goderdzi

    New hotel planned in Georgia ski resort

    New hotel planned in Georgia ski resort

    19 days ago

    Georgia may be about to make its mark on the wintersports holiday map. The Wyndham hotel group plans to open a property in the ski resort of Goderdzi at the end of next year under its Ramada Resorts brand. Goderdzi is close to the Black Sea in the Adjara region, about 2hrs from the coast at Batumi. It has only two lifts and a modest 5 – 6 kilometres of runs, but slopes are reported to be quiet and there is powder skiing reached by snowcat. The hotel will be in the heart of the resort, opposite the access lift to the slopes. It promises 100 rooms, 2 restaurants, a spa complex, lounge and lobby bar. Meanwhile Wyndham is also scheduled to open a Ramada hotel in the country’s capital and biggest city, Tbilisi, next year. The 125 room property will be on Melikishvili avenue, between the old and new towns. And in 2021 the group expects to open a 275 room hotel in Georgia’s second largest city, Kutaisi, whose Bagrati Cathedral and nearby Gelati Monastery are both UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

  • Foreign and commonwealth office logo

    New Middle East Travel warning

    20 days ago

    Turkey’s bounce back in the tourist popularity stakes look likely to take a knock following publication of revised travel advice by the Foreign & Commonwealth Office. Egypt, whose fortunes, which appeared to have perked up after the return of UK flights to Sharm el Sheikh, may also suffer. But travel industry leaders fear tensions sparked by the death of Iranian general Qasem Soleimani in a US strike could have impact across the Middle East, also affecting bookings to destinations such as Dubai. The FCO cited “the possibility of an increased threat against Western interests in nine Middle East countries", warning that the security situation for Britons travelling there could deteriorate “with very little warning”. Travellers should stay vigilant and keep in touch with developments. The other seven countries covered by the alert are the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Jordan, Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman and Saudi Arabia. As for Iran itself, the FCO has advised against all but essential travel there. This has already prompted the cancellation of some tours planned by the handful of UK firms operating to the country.

  • Sim entrance

    New visitor pass to cut costs in Manchester

    20 days ago

    Stand by for a new visitor pass cutting the cost of entry to Manchester’s attractions. The one, two or three day, prepaid pass, which has been several years in the organising, is expected to be launched this spring. It will also cover tours and will provide a range of discounts at bars, restaurant and cafes across Greater Manchester. The organisation Marketing Manchester has not provided details of the attractions to be covered. But they may include paid admission to special exhibitions at the otherwise free Science and Industry Museum. The Museum is scheduled to open a new gallery this year designed to house such exhibitions.

  • Scilly

    St Mary's: image by Zichrini from Pixabay

    Helicopters set to fly again to Isles of Scilly

    21 days ago

    The helicopter link between Penzance and the Isles of Scilly is set to be restored in March after a gap of some eight years. Flights to and from St Mary’s, the largest island, and Tresco, will be operated year round by Sloane Helicopters from a new heliport on the outskirts of the west Cornwall town. The trip, by a twin engine, Augusta Westland 139 aircraft, will take 15 minutes. There will be up to 17 rounds trips a week. The new heliport, developed with the support of the EU’s European Regional Development Fund, will be close to the A30 and a mile from Penzance railway station, with a link by electric shuttle bus. It will have a large car park.

  • Aeroflot  vp blo  airbus a320 214 %2838634801191%29 %282%29

    Image by Anna Zvereva (Tallinn, Estonia) from Wikimedia Commons

    Aeroflot is world's most punctual

    24 days ago

    Russia’s Aeroflot has been ranked the world’s most punctual airline in a worldwide analysis. UK based Cirium found 86.68 per cent of its flights operated on time in 2019. And Moscow’s Sheremetyevo saw the fewest delays among airports with global networks, with all but about five per cent of services operating punctually. Japan’s ANA (All Nippon Airways) was second by a whisker to Aeroflot, with 86.26 of flights on time and the US carrier Delta Air Lines was close behind in third place. The rest of the top ten, in order, were Brazil’s Azul, Japan Airlines, Alitalia, Air France. Emirates. Korean Air and SAS. Second and third amoung Global airports were both Chinese: Guangzhou Baiyun and Shanghai Pudong.

  • Les gets

    Les Gets

    French resort to launch hi tech forest night walks

    25 days ago

    Claiming to be first in Europe, the French Alpine resort of Les Gets is to launch interactive forest night walks next summer, promising to enhance the natural beauty of the environment with the use of light, video projections and scenography, accompanied by original music. The first Lumina night walk opened five years ago in the Parc de la Gorge in Coaticook, Quebec. Since then the company behind the concept, Montreal based Moment Factory, has launched ten more, including one in Hokkaido, Japan. The Les Gets project is currently still at the design stage. It is planned as a year round attraction, operating in the ski season as well as summer. The resort if part of the sprawling Ports du Soleil wintersports area straddling the border between France and Switzerland.

  • Paella

    Valencia paella: image by EstudioWebDoce from Pixabay

    New Valencia flights from Gatwick planned

    26 days ago

    Spanish budget airline Vueling plans to launch direct flights from London to Valencia this spring. From 1 May it will operate there six times a week from Gatwick. At around the same time a new gastronomic centre is scheduled to open in the city. Housed in a former printing works, the San Vicente Market will comprise 19 stalls offering the likes of Iberian ham, local seafood, Mediterranean rice dishes, traditional pastries and cheeses. The market will also provide a stage for exhibitions and live performances. Vueling is part of the International Airlines Group (IAG) which owns British Airways and Iberia. It currently operates the route via Barcelona.

  • Paparoa min

    Image by Jason Blair

    Latest “Great Walk” opens in New Zealand

    about 1 month ago

    The Paparoa Track, newest of New Zealand’s “Great Walks” is now scheduled to open fully on 22 December. The route, close to the west coast of South Island, had been due to open on 1 December, but the middle section has been cut off by a large landslip. Roughly 35 miles long, it runs for some 35 miles through the Paparoa National Park, taking in alpine summits, limestone karst landscapes and rainforests, It starts about a 45 minute drive from the seaside town of Greymouth. At first it follows the Croesus Track, with remnants of gold mining. It finishes not far from the spectacular Panakaiki “Pancake” Rocks”, which have been sculpted by weather and the thundering Tasman Sea into contorted formations, blowholes and surge pools. The track is described by the Department of Conservation, which has designated a series of these walks, as “challenging in poor weather”. Some sections are steep and rough. It may be used by hikers and mountain bikers. Walkers will take three days, bikers two. Accommodation is in huts. They may be booked as part of packages from New Zealand in Depth. The operator’s founder, Paul Carberry, recommends booking ahead, noting that more than 6600 night have already been reserved, out of 8500 available over 12 months.