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In the News this Week...
brought to you by News Editor, Roger Bray
Dubrovnik set to limit tourismabout 4 hours ago
Dubrovnik has moved to curb the number of tourists pouring into its historic centre. Starting early next year Byron’s ‘Pearl of he Adriatic’ is expected to allow calls by only two vessels a day and promises to limit the total number of visitors to 5000 a day. The city’s authorities have worked with the Cruise Lines International Association to improve scheduled arrivals, which in turn should help reduce congestion and smooth the flow of tourists. Dubrovnik’s popularity, enhanced by its role as a location for TV’s Game of Thrones. Has seen more than 10,000 people in a singly day buy tickets to walk it medieval ramparts. This kind of pressure has cause alarm at UNESCO, which has declared the city a World Heritage Site.
Flights grounded as airline collapses1 day ago
Passengers were left searching for alternative flights today as Cobalt Air announced ‘an indefinite suspension’ of operations. The Cypriot airline has been operating some 20 flights a week from UK airports. It was not immediately known how many passengers were stranded or had seen their future travel plans plunged into confusion. A statement on the Cobalt website advised passengers with immediate flights not to go to its departure airports and to contact their credit card provider or travel agent for refunds. But Cyprus Transport Minister Vasiliki Anastasiadou promised to cover the cost of rescue fares for passengers stranded either on the island or abroad. The UK Civil Aviation Authority later explained that this applied initially to flights scheduled to depart on 17 and 18 October. “You need to arrange that flight yourself and keep receipts”. It said an announcement for passengers due to fly after those dates would be made ‘in due course’. The Authority’s website provided a link to the Cypriot Ministry’s site. Meanwhile low cost airline Wizz offered rescue fares from £79 on flights from Larnaca, Athens and London. It is understood Cobalt’s efforts to secure long term financing had ended in failure. Founded three years ago after the demise of Cyprus Airways, it is the second carrier to go under in a matter of weeks, following the collapse of low cost Primera Air. It flew from UK airports including Heathrow, Birmingham, Gatwick, Manchester and Stansted. It was not immediately clear whether any UK passengers were booked on Cobalt flights as part of package holidays. If so they may get refunds under the ATOL protection system. Oher travellers with advance bookings may get their money back if they paid with credit or charge cards. They should also check their travel insurance to see if they are covered against scheduled airline failure.
Paris: new haute cuisine cruises1 day ago
With dishes including chilled lobster and turbot with shellfish mariniere, menus devised by the celebrated, multi Michelin starred chef Alain Ducasse are now on offer aboard Seine cruises through Paris. Passengers take in the city sights from the first electric powered vessel to operate there. Three or four course lunches start at €100, four or five course dinners at €150. Further information at www.ducasse-seine.com.
Austrian ski resort to get new glacier link2 days ago
The first stage of a direct ski lift link between the Austrian resort of Kaprun and the Kitzsteinhorn glacier is scheduled to open in December. A ten-passenger gondola will run from the resort centre to the Maiskogl at 1570 metres. The next stage in the €81.5 million project – which may be seen as a hedge against the potential impact of global warming at lower altitudes and ue to be ready for winter 2019-20 – will see an extension of the lift to Langwiedboden ar 1975 metres, gateway to skiing on the glacier which is available in summer as well as winter. Access lifts to the glacier are currently about 5kms from the centre of Kaprun. In total the lift will stretch for 12 kilometres.
UK silver solos top travel adventure league3 days ago
Roughly one in seven UK travellers (14%) take their first solo trip after their fiftieth birthdays according to research commissioned by British Airways, That proportion was larger than in seven other major countries surveyed. The figure did not differentiate between sexes. Just over half (51%) said they were planning to travel alone in the near future. While most (58%) spent one or two weeks, nine per cent went away for between one and six months. One in five of those questioned had travelled long haul – on a flight of over nine hours. Echoing other research, the survey found a powerful motivation was a desire for freedom and independence. And 37% said they went solo to meet new people and have new experiences.
Brexit flights – confusion grows4 days ago
Confusion among consumers about the potential impact of Brexit on their holidays has increased, according to research from ABTA. But with no certainty that flights won’t be disrupted the level of concern remains some way sort of panic. Only 43% of those questioned for the travel trade organisation’s latest annual Holiday Habits survey said they were “confused” about the possible effect on their travel plans – a 7% increase since the same question was asked last year. More people were worried about holiday costs. But the change was similarly slight, with 54% concerned compared with 51% a year ago. And fear that travel would become more difficult was cited by 48% against 43%. Airline industry observers question whether the EU will agree to the UK staying in the European single sky agreement or rule it out as ‘cherry picking’. Latest intelligence from the travel industry also suggests travellers may be unaware of the risk that flights to non EU countries with which Brussels has an air agreement might be affected. While bookings for holidays to the EU after next 29 March are reported to have slowed in recent weeks, those to other destinations are up on their level this time last year.
New expedition cruises launched7 days ago
Two new expedition cruises along the coastlines of Mexico and Central America been ben launched by a specialist tour operator. Exploration itineraries of this type have become a “munch more accessible proposition” in recent years, says Journey Latin America. The firm is offering two cruises: eight days (as part of a 13 day holiday) taking in Baja California and the Sea of Cortez, with sea lions and whales among the wildlife species likely to be on view and experts in biology, ornithology, photography and wellness joining some departures; and 16 days along the Caribbean and Pacific coasts of Panama and Costa Rica.
Grand Liverpool building to become hotel again8 days ago
One of Liverpool’s most striking buildings is to house a new Radisson hotel. The former North Western Hotel, built to serve users of Lime Street railway station, opened in 1871. It was designed by Alfred Waterhouse, whose other works included Manchester Town Hall and London’s Natural History Museum. More recently it served as a hall of residence for John Moores University. It is undergoing a £30m refurbishment. Radisson will open a 202 room hotel under its RED ‘lifestyle’ brand. The property, expect to open in 2020, will be within walking distance of attractions including the Beatles Story, the Tate Gallery and Albert Dock.
Travel advice as new Istanbul Airport nears opening9 days ago
The world’s next mega-airport is preparing for its first commercial flights. Istanbul New Airport (INA) is scheduled to open for business at the end of the month. Flights will transfer from Ataturk airport between 29 and 31 October. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office is advising travellers to ‘allow sufficient time’ for check in, transfers to onward destinations and potential transfers between the two airports during this handover period. It gives no indication of how much extra time to allow but suggests that if passengers have any questions they should consult their airline. The new airport’s initial capacity will be 90 million passengers a year, with the ability to grow to 200 million through a series of expansion phases, if traffic demands, by 2030. It will start operations with three runways, but has space to expand to six.
Volcano park reopens in Costa Rica10 days ago
Costa Rica’s Poas Volcano National Park has reopened. It had been closed for since April last year after a series of eruptions send hot rocks into the air, damaging walking trails and infrastructure. The park, which covers 16,000 acres is only 30 miles north of the capital, San Jose. Its 8900ft high main volcano is one of the country’s most visited attractions, drawing some 250,000 sightseers a year. Following the setting up of a new online ticket sales system, visitors will now be allowed access in groups of up to 50 and will be limited to 20 minutes on the crater overlook. Added safety measures include new gas sensors and shelters.
Guide names top B&B11 days ago
A B&B overlooking the cathedral city of Wells in Somerset has won one of this year’s top awards based on reports from inspectors and readers of he Good Food Guide. The guide’s editors describe Stoberry House as ‘a true labour of love’ by Tim and Frances Meeres Young. From its landscaped gardens there are views of the cathedral and Glastonbury Tor. Breakfast is rated ‘exceptional’ and ‘attention to detail’ is often praised by guests. Among the other winners are: Pentonbridge Inn at Penton in Cumbria (Newcomer of the Year) which has been ‘transformed from a remote, run down pub into an exciting gourmet destination’ with ‘an exquisite seasonal menu’, and Tudor Farmhouse, Clearwell, Gloucestershire (Country Hotel of the Year), a ‘chic retreat’ crafted from a former working farm, with a much used kitchen garden and rooms boasting roll top baths. Monsoon showers and ‘super-fast WiFi’. Th Good Hotel Guide 2019: Great Britain & Ireland, is out today, priced £16.
Gdansk to get new hotel14 days ago
The Polish port town of Gdansk – an attractive and fascinating city break destination – is to get a new hotel. Scheduled to open in the fourth quarter of this year, the Radisson Hotel & Suites will be on Granary Island, the historic warehousing district undergoing a revival after being devastated in the Second World War. The old city centre is only a short stroll away across the Motlawa canal. Part of the Deo Plaza development, which will also include shops, restaurants and residential apartments, it will open with 142 rooms and suites. That will increase to 350 with the opening of a second phase, planned for April next year. The property will also have a gym, spa and a pool.
Insects go on show at remote Ecuador lodge15 days ago
Ecuador’s remote Mashpi Lodge now incorporates the newly opened Entomological Museum and Exhibition of insects on its on site laboratory. Curated in collaboration with the Florida Museum of Natural History it displays scientific information on 150 local species and provides guests with an introduction to those thy are likely to spot while exploring the vast surrounding Choco-Andean cloud and rainforest. The hotel has a 100 metre high gondola lift that carries guests about a mile though the canopy. It accommodates up to 47 guests. With its private reserve It is about 60 miles northwest of the country’s capital, Quito, ‘as the hummingbird flies’. Travel from the city take about three hours. Since it opened in 2012, resident biologists and discovered two species of frog and an endemic magnolia tree.
British Airways to launch new Munich and Osaka flights16 days ago
London City Airport is to get a new link with Munich. British Airways’ CityFlyer subsidiary will start flying to the Bavarian capital on February 16. It will operate three time a day on weekdays, once on Saturdays and twice on Sundays. And on March 31 BA will launch a new service between Heathrow and Japan’s second largest city, Osaka. The airline, which last flew he route 20 years ago. will operate four round trips a week. Flights by Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner aircraft will depart London at 2.20pm on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays, arriving at Kansai International airport at 9.50am the following morning. Flights from Japan will leave at 11.30am on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays, reaching Heathrow at 3.50pm the same day.
Low cost airline collapses17 days ago
An as yet unknown number of passengers have been left stranded by the collapse of low Primera Air. The low-cost airline had been operating short haul flights from UK airports and had been trying to break into the transatlantic market with flights from Stansted to New York and Washington. The Civil Aviation Authority noted that passengers affected were not covered by its ATOL protection scheme unless their flights were part of a package. Those already abroad would need to make their own alternative arrangements to get home. But all passengers should check that if their travel insurance include scheduled airline failure cover (SAFI). Those who paid with credit, debit or charge cards may be able to recover the cost of their tickets from car issuers. In a statement the airline advised customers to visit primeraair.com for further updates ‘in next few days’. “Kindly understand that the usual operations for contacts (via email or phone) cannot be offered any longer”. Meanwhile budget airline Norwegian offered reduced fares on its New York – Gatwick route to Primera Air passengers needing to get home to the UK. It also offered rescue fare on routes to Paris – including from Boston – and to Copenhagen from various European airports.
First World War play set to open in Flanders17 days ago
As the centenary of the First World War approaches, a production of RC Sherriff’s play Journey’s End will start a month long run in Ypres next week. It will be performed in English at the Belgian town’s Kruitmagazijn (gunpowder store). The play was first staged in 1928, starring Laurence Olivier. Its characters, it portrays the experience of British soldiers in a trench as they wait for a German attack. Sheriff himself was injured in Passchendaele during the Third Battle of Ypres. The new production will run from 9 October until 12 November – the day after the guns fell silent 100 years ago. Tickets can be bought at https://www.meshtheatre.com.
Stansted set to get budget St Petersburg flights18 days ago
Russian low cost airline Pobeda is to start flying from Stansted to St Petersburg next week. From 12 October it will operate four round trips a week by Boeing 737-800 NG aircraft, with standard one way fares starting at £35. Pobeda is part of the Aeroflot group. They can be booked at www.pobeda.aero/en. When we checked on the site travel out and back at standard fares could be booked for £75.81. That doesn’t cover checked bags though they are included in more expensive ‘Plus’ and ‘Premium’ fares. At the time of writing we were unable to find fees for hold bags on the site without proceeding some way through the booking process. Maximum cabin bag size is 36×30×27 centimetres.
Hiking holidays in the Caribbean launched21 days ago
Caribbean islands are generally thought of more as places to kick off your shoes and feel the warm sand between your toes than to pull on the walking boots, A new specialist tour operator aims to alter that perception. Hike Caribbean will offer tailor made ‘holidays with hikes’, initially to Antigua, St Lucia, Guadeloupe, Montserrat, St Kitts and Nevis. Suggested itineraries will range from five-day breaks on a single island to a more challenging three-week ‘five peaks, five islands’ holiday. The operation has been set up by Aidan McCauley and Rob Davies, who met in Antigua, formed a friendship fuelled by their love of hiking, and say they saw much more of the region on foot ‘than tourists who sat on the beach or with a few hours away from a cruise ship itinerary’. They have committed to giving 2% of profits to Hurricane relief. Their aim is to cover more islands. They would particularly like to offer Dominica, which they describe as the jewel in the crown for hiking in the area. But they say this is not yet viable as the island recovers from impact of Hurricane Maria.
One stop shop for Lapland adventures22 days ago
From dogsledding to ice fishing, more than 250 activities in Lapland can be booked via a new website. Covering trips in Norway, Sweden and Finland, it has been set up by Visit Lapland, a recently formed private company in partnership with regional tourism authorities and working with individual suppliers. It claims to put travellers in control of their own itinerary, allowing them to include only the activities they really want and save money. Winter and summer activities are on offer, among them a Northern Lights tour in Sweden’s car free Abisko National Park – in a sled drawn by snowmobile – whale watching, hiking, and learning about the life of the Sami people in a Lavvu (tepee) with a meal including reindeer broth and dried and smoked reindeer meat.
Wildlife and safari holiday show set to open23 days ago
Contemplating a safari or some other kind of wildlife trip? A reminder that a huge range of experts – from tour operators and tourist offices to conservationists will be on hand to offer advice in Harrogate this weekend. Exhibitors at the Wildlife and Safari Travel Show (29-30 September) will range from specialists on regions from Africa to Latin America. Among them will be tourism representatives of Botswana and Zambia, for example, home respectively to the rich wildlife of the Okavango Delta and the magnificent South Luangwa National Park. Zambia Tourism will display its 3D recreation of Victoria Falls. A virtual reality theatre promises to immerse visitors in 360º dry land and underwater wildlife encounters. There will be a programme of free talks – and a couple in the evenings with prices that include admission to the show. And the event will also host this year’s Sketch for Survival Exhibition – artwork created to raise awareness of and funds towards conservation, by the likes of Dames Judi Dench and Helen Mirren, Mary Berry, Stephen Fry and Sir Ranulph Fiennes . For further information visit wildlifesafarishow.com.