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In the News this Week...
brought to you by News Editor, Roger Bray
Grenada: new walking holidaysabout 13 hours ago
Guided walking breaks on the lovely Caribbean island of Grenada have been launched for next year by HF Holidays. The ten night trips include hikes in and around the Grand Etang National Park and Forest Reserve, high in the interior, with its crater lake in an extinct volcano, the Seven Sisters waterfall and flora and fauna from towering mahogany trees to humming birds. Only two departures are planned – in January and November. Prices for the former start at £3,995, including full board at the Blue Horizons Garden Resort with flights from London.
Chester history tours get booking boost1 day ago
Walking tours of Chester’s medieval Rows, led by members of the city’s tour guides guild, may now be booked by individual visitors. Previously they were available only to groups. The covered walkways, claimed to be the world’s oldest shopping arcades, contain many listed buildings. The 90 minute tours take in fascinations tourists might otherwise miss, such as pillars from the Roman fortress Deva Victrix, now hidden beneath Pret a Manger, remnants of a hypocaust below Spudulike and a priest hole in Sofa Warehouse. Tours cost £7 per adult and run from 2pm on Thursdays until 21 December and on Sundays throughout 2018.Book via firstname.lastname@example.org.
RAF’s 100th birthday: coach breaks launched3 days ago
Coach tours to mark next year’s RAF centenary are on offer from Shearings Holidays. On 1 April it will be 100 years since the service was formed, through the merging of the Royal Flying Corps and the Royal Naval Air Service. The five day trips, which will run in April and October, will include visits to the RAF College Cranwell and Lincolnshire Aviation Heritage Museums. Prices start at £239 for coach travel and four nights half board at the Urban Hotel in Grantham.
St Helena diving trips4 days ago
Diving holidays based on St Helena have been launched by Dive Worldwide. The move follows the opening of the remote southern Atlantic island to flights from South Africa. The specialist tour operator says its trips are suitable for more experienced travellers and divers, though snorkelling excursions to see whale sharks are available between December and March. Experts from a local, PADI affiliated dive centre will take customers by boat to locations where they might see manta rays or hawksbill turtles. Holidays can be tailor made, but as an example, eleven days, including five days diving with tanks and weights, and flights from the UK via South Africa, cost £2,795 per person.
Terracotta Army breaks launched7 days ago
Two day breaks to see China’s stunning Terracotta Army in Liverpool next year have been launched by Just Go! Holidays. The firm plans eleven departures between March and May, with hundreds of pick up points across the UK. The life size figures that guarded the tomb of China’s First Emperor, Qin Shi Huang,will be on show in Britain for the first time in 30 years, from 9 February until 28 October 2018 at the World Museum. The trips cost £115 per person, based on two sharing a room for one night with dinner, and breakfast – and including tickets to the exhibition.
New Corsica flights announced8 days ago
Two airlines plan new services from London to Corsica next year. From 3 May until 4 November 2018 French airline Air Corsica will fly from Stansted to Ajaccio, Bastia (twice a week, rising to four in the peak period from June to September) and Figari (once a week, increasing to two in the same busy summer weeks). The airiine’s timetable will allow for three day breaks as well as longer holidays. And British Airways will operate Sunday flights to Figari from Heathrow’s Terminal 5 between 25 March and 21 October 2018.
Remote new Arctic road set to open9 days ago
Adventurous travellers can drive across Arctic tundra to one of the world’s most communities from today. Until now, Tuktoyaktuk, an Invialuit village on the shore of the Arctic Ocean in Canada’s, Norhwest Territories has been accessible by ice road in winter but only by air in summer and. Though Tundra North Tours has been running trips there for some ten years, the closest most drivers have been able to get is Unuvik, a town of around 3000 people in the Mackenzie River Delta. Now a 137km year round highway from Inuvik has been completed. Along the way, tourists may be able to see herds of caribou. In Tuktoyak – or Tuk as it’s known locally – they will be able to try whale meat, and the hardy may even brave a drip in the Beaufort Sea.
Roman temple and tablets go on show10 days ago
Ancient wooden writing tablets went on show today as the remains of the Roman Temple of Mithras opened to visitors beneath Bloomberg’s new European headquarters in the City of London. The tablets, bearing faint marks of words inscribed on beeswax nearly 2000 years ago, were discovered during when the site was cleared. Among them is a request for payment. The temple remains have been returned, stone by stone, to their original site after being moved during a previous development there. Dating from the third century AD, they are seven metres below the streets of modern London, at what was Roman street level and are housed in a three level space with its own entrance on Walbrook. A mezzanine directly above them will contain projections and inter active kiosks where visitors can learn about the practices and symbols of the cult of Mithras. The floor above that will host contemporary exhibitions of art broadly associated with the site’s history and a display of over 600 Roman artefacts unearthed during excavations for the Norman Foster designed building. Admission is free.
Airlines chief issues stern Brexit warning11 days ago
The Government has been warned British air travellers will not take kindly to losing the advantages of free competition in Europe’s skies. The head of IATA (International Air Transport Association), which represents most of the world’s airlines, has issued a stern reminder that if Britain falls off the cliff edge with no Brexit deal there is no World Trade Organisation civil aviation agreement to fall back on. Alexandre de Juniac, IATA’s director general and and CEO pointed out that not only would the UK leave Europe’s Common Aviation Area but all traffic rights agreed between the EU and the rest of the world would be thrown into doubt. “For that reason, I don’t see any alternative to a negotiated agreement”. People would not accept anything that turned back the clock on the achievements of the Common Aviation Area. But he warned: “Time is precious. The Brexit clock is ticking towards a deadline of March 2019. But the aviation deadline is earlier. Normally passengers can book about a year in advance. At a minimum, the flights schedules and cargo inventories must be available at least six months in advance.” So the airlines’ deadline was just eleven months away.
Louvre Abu Dhabi opens14 days ago
Art from thirteen French museums will be on show in the Gulf from tomorrow when Louvre Abu Dhabi opens to the public. Three hundred works on loan include Leonardo da Vinci’s La Belle Ferronniere from the Paris Louvre, Jacques-Louis David’s Napoleon crossing the Alps from the Chateau de Versailles and Giacommetti’s Standing Woman II.They will accompany over 600 artworks and artefacts acquired from countries around the world. Designed to resemble a traditional Arab madina beneath a huge dome – and overlooking the sea – the new museum on Saadiyat Island has 21 permanent galleries, it also incorporates an auditorium, restaurants and space for temporary exhibitions.
Sri Lanka: Colombo gets new luxury hotel15 days ago
New luxury hotels continue to proliferate in Sri Lanka. On 16 November the Shangri-La group will open a 455 room property in the capital Colombo, the hotel, on Galle Face Promenade will have uninterrupted views of the Indian Ocean. It will incorporate a travel agency.
Survey reveals Brexit travel concerns16 days ago
British holiday travellers appear to be waking up to the risks of Brexit, according to a new survey published at this week’s World Travel Market trade show in London. But the results suggest that their nerves – so far at least – are hardly jangling. More than half (54%) of those polled said they were anxious in particular about the reduced purchasing power of the £ in the Eurozone. More than one in three (38%) were worried that with the future of the EHIC (European Health Insurance Card) in doubt they might lose access to health care, 33% said they feared queues at passport controls, 17% were worried holiday protection would suffer, 16% that air passengers’ compensation for delays or denied boarding might be affected. A quarter were concerned they might lose their recently won benefit of free mobile roaming in the EU. But 44% felt the overall impact of Brexit on travel would be slight – and only 11% thought it would have a significantly negative effect.
Walks in little known Balkans launched17 days ago
Walking holidays look set for growth in the lesser known countries of the Balkans. Two UK tour operators have announced new packages there for next year – one in Macedonia, the other in Bosnia Herzegovina. The former comes from Walks Worldwide, which expects its Macedonian itinerary to attract as much interest as that in neighbouring Albania – surprisingly its most popular. Customers will walk between guesthouses for 5-8 hours a day in guided groups of up to 12. The route includes three national parks, the Prespa Lake area and the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Ohrid, with its Byzantine churches and frescos. Departures are on 26 May, 23 June, 15 September and 6 October. Seven nights full board start at £1,399 excluding flights, including baggage transfers between guesthouses but excluding flights to and from Skopje. The Bosnia Herezergovina holidays have been launched by KE Adventures. With departures between June and September they include hikes from 4-9 hours on paths including the Via Dinarica White Trail through the karst landscape of the Visocica Mountain and s walk to Lukomir, Bosnia’s highest village. Tours of Mostar and Sarajevo are also included.. The eight day trips cost from £875, excluding flights to and from Dubrovnik.
Fire risk threatens checked laptop ban18 days ago
Laptops and other large electronic devices may no longer be permitted in checked bags, raising the threat that future bans on carrying them as hand luggage could mean travellers having to leave them at home. Following extensive tests to assess the risk lithium batteries may catch fire the intergovernmental International Civil Aviation Organisation is reported to be considering barring large PEDs (Personal Electronic Devices) from aircraft holds. According to Air Transport World ICAO’s Dangerous Goods Panel has advised that allowing airlines discretion would fail to address the danger that a carrier choosing to ban could carry devices unknowingly if they were transferred from a connecting flight. But it suggests PEDs could be carried in checked bags if the batteries were removed. The ICAO tests included one in which dry shampoo was included with a laptop in a suitcase. A heater next to the laptop’s battery started a fire that took hold to rapidly to be extinguished by the suppression system in the hold.
BYO food restaurant opens in Palma21 days ago
A restaurant that allows customers to bring their own raw materials has opened in the Mercat de l’Olivar, the main food market in Palma, Mallorca. Called YouBuyWeCook, it operates on similar lines to eateries already established in other markets, including La Ribera in Bilbao. Visitors can buy a feast of fresh seafood, for example, at one of the market counters, and take it to the restaurant to be cooked. Early reviews suggest a sample total price for a fish meal – obviously it depends on the ingredients you purchase – of around £10 a head. They also recommend booking (telephone +34 691 35 10 35).
Warsaw hotel to revive glittering past22 days ago
Once among the grandest hotels in the Russian empire, the Europejski in Warsaw is scheduled to re-open in early next year as part of the Singapore based Raffles group. Opened in 1857 on the city’s Royal Mile it was the venue for glittering New Year’s Eve balls. Its patisserie, now to be revived, was the haunt of writers and artists. During the Second World War it housed Wehrmacht officers and was badly damaged during the 1944 Warsaw Uprising. Later, with Poland under Communist rule, it took on various guises, including that of a home for Jewish emigrants from the Soviet Union, and became a hotel again in 1959, operated by the Orbis state tourist company. After a lawsuit that dragged on for 12 years, the heirs of its original owners repossessed the property. Now it will incorporate 106 suites and a spa and serve as a showcase for Polish art. Though it has undergone many changes over the years, some original features, such as cornicing and ceiling roses in the restaurant, have been restored.
Ban on climbing Uluru announced23 days ago
Climbing Uluru – a popular experience for visitors to the Australian outback – will no longer be permitted from 26 October 2019. The decision was taken by the board of the Uluru – Kata Tjuta National Park after consultation with the wider Anangu community. The move ends a long debate over respect for the sacred site formerly known as Ayers Rock. Many tourists have been keen to watch the sunrise after ascending on a marked route, partly with the help of chains. In recent years visitors have been asked not to make the climb – but some have ignored the request. Among them was a woman who caused outrage when she stripped to a bikini at the top.
New Toronto flights to take off23 days ago
Denmark’s Primera Air plans to launch flights from Birmingham and Stansted to Toronto next year. It will operate three round trips a week on both routes rom May ad June respectively, using Airbus A321NEO aircraft with premium and low fare cabins. The airline had already announced it would start flying next year from both airports to New York and Boston. Primera’s plans have come despite uncertainty over the potential impact on airlines of a hard Brexit. Under air agreements between Brussels and the US and Canada EU airlines may fly to both countries from anywhere in the EU – or from Norway and Iceland. But it is unclear whether the UK will remain part of those agreements after March 2019 or will need to negotiate new, bilateral deals with Ottawa and Washington.
Swiss freshwater aquarium opens24 days ago
With species including the endangered Komodo dragon, a freshwater aquarium claimed to be Europe’s largest has opened in the Swiss city of Lausanne. On show are some 10,000 fish, including Amazon piranhas and ferocious looking Mississippi alligator gar and around 100 reptiles and amphibians. More accurately described as an ‘aquarium-vivarium’ and using digital technology, it takes visitors through 20 simulated freshwater ecosystems with 300 different plant species on five continents. The ecosystems include those of the Mekong River, African lakes and Asian mangrove forests.
Hotel booking sites probe: customer views sought25 days ago
Do you feel pressured to make a quick decision when visiting online hotel booking sites? Are you influenced by messages saying how few rooms are left or that other people are looking at the same hotel? Are discount claims always the results of faire comparisons? The Competition and Markets Authority would like to hear from you. As part of its new investigation of sites such as Booking.com and Hotels.com it wants consumers – as well as the hotels that use them – to share their experiences. You can complete a survey anonymously at https://maxcma.typeform.com/to/a56WYE. The CMA will look at whether the order in which hotels appear is dictated by any commissions they pay. It wants to know if claims about the number of people looking at the same property or room, the number of rooms left – or how long a price will be remain on offer – create false impressions that rush customers into booking. It will also look at whether discounts are sometimes based on comparisons with a higher weekend rate, for example, when the customer is seeking a midweek booking – and at whether there are hidden charges such as taxes or booking fees.