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In the News this Week...
brought to you by News Editor, Roger Bray
Volcano and earthquake attraction set to openabout 2 hours ago
A new interactive attraction designed to convey the terrifying sensation feelings of eruption and earthquake is scheduled to open on 1 June in Iceland. Just over one hour from Reykjavik, the Lava Volcano and Earthquake Museum at Hbolsvollur will have a 360 degree viewing platform overlooking three volcanoes: Katla, Hekla and Eyjafjallajökull, whose ash cloud wreaked havoc on air passengers in 2010.
Airline scam warning1 day ago
Singapore Airlines is warning customers not to be fooled by emails and calls telling them have been selected for a draw or have won tickets and asking them for personal details. It says fraudsters have been modifying their caller IDs to imitate the airline’s official telephone numbers. Recipients should verify such emails and phone calls if they have any doubts, as well as lodge a police report. The airline also advises customers to be cautious of social media posts and phishing websites that appear similar to its official website singaporeair.com
Zermatt’s past explained on new tour4 days ago
The Swiss resort of Zermatt is inviting visitors to delve into its past on a new guided tour this summer. In the old part of the village with its ancient wooden houses, stalls and barns, women will show how wool was woven weave wool and baskets were braided a century ago, while men will demonstrate the art of roofing buildings with stone tiles. All the local people taking part will wear traditional dress. The tours, which will run from 10 July until 28 August, will be conducted in German and English.
Edinburgh gets new Isle of Man flights5 days ago
Scotland’s Loganair is set to start flying on Friday 26 May between Edinburgh and the Isle of Man later this week. it will operate four flights a week, under its franchise agreement with Flybe. But from 1 September the Glasgow-based airline will take to the skies in its own name again. Departures will be on Mondays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. For flights until the end of August, passengers must book through Flybe. For flights after that they should book through Loganair. Earlier this month Eastern Airways started daily weekday flights between Glasgow and the island, using a 29 seat Jetstream 41 aircraft.
Biometric bag check to go on trial6 days ago
Delta is the latest airline to test face recognition technology – this time allowing passengers to check in their own bags. The US carrier plans to install a machine at Minneapolis-St Paul airport this summer that will match customers with their passport photos. Delta believes biometric based, self-service bag drops have the potential to halve the average time it takes to process each passenger.
Norway’s spectacular new cable car opens7 days ago
Claimed to be the world’s steepest cable car ride, the Loen Skylift has opened in the Norwegian fjiords. Passengers get spectacular views from Mount Hoven at 1011 metres – of the Nordfjord to the west, Mt. Skala and Lake Lovatnet to the east, and the Jostedalsbreen Glacier to the south above sea level. Loen is a village some about 2 hrs 30 mins drive from Alesund, 4 hrs 30 mins from Bergen and 6 hrs from Oslo. There is a restaurant at the top, also with panoramic views, and the lift provides access to waymarked hiking trails. More information (accessible in English) at www.loenskylift.com.
River cruise competition heats up8 days ago
Stand by for fresh competition on Europe’s rivers. Fred Olsen Cruise Lines plan to enter the arena next spring with the launch of holidays aboard the 158 passenger Brabant. The vessel will operate on the Danube – including its birdlife rich delta – the Moselle, Rhine and Main. The programme, which will run from 5 April until 3 November 2018 also promises a ‘taster’ cruise to the Netherlands at tulip time. The move follows the recent launch of two new river cruise ships – Emerald Cruises 182 passenger Emerald Destiny and AmaWaterways 158 passenger AmaKristina. Meanwhile AmaWaterways has unveiled plans for a further addition which it claims will be the biggest in Europe. Named AmaMagma – and scheduled for launch in 2019- it will have an ‘open watersports platform’, with Zodiacs, canoes and other equipment.
Pearl Harbour ship becomes dive site11 days ago
One of the few ships to survive the 1941 attack on Pearl Harbour has been turned into a dive site and marine habitat off the British Virgin Islands. Kodiak Queen, the former fuelling vessel, has been rescued from the scrapyard, cleaned and sunk off Virgin Gorda. As part of an underwater art installation, a project led by Sir Richard Branson. A mesh sea monster has been fixed to the top to encourage coral restoration and create a habitat for marine life from turtles to sea sponges. Crewed yacht charter packages including dives to the ship are available from The Moorings.
BA to start new Greece flights12 days ago
British Airways is scheduled to launch the first of three new services to Greece this week. From 19 May until 8 October it will fly once a week from Manchester to Mykonos. On 3 June it will begin operating twice a week from Heathrow to Zante. And from 26 June until 6 September the airline will fly three times a week – on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays -from London City Airport to Skiathos.
Garden Museum set to re-open13 days ago
London’s Garden Museum is set to re-open on Monday 22 May after a £7.5m re-vamp. During the transformation 30 lead coffins were discovered in a vault, containing up to five Archbishops of Canterbury. A glass viewing panel has been placed over the steps to the tomb. The museum was established originally to rescue the ancient church of St Mary’s, near Lambeth Palace, from demolition. The church is the burial place of John Tradescant, who was born around 1570 and died in 1638, Britain’s first notable and acknowledged gardener and plant hunter. Among the first exhibitions at the new museum will be a display of contemporary botanical art alongside a display of ‘The Tradescants’ Orchard’, a 17th century volume of 66 watercolours depicting fruit that he and his son might have grown in their Lambeth market garden.
False sickness claims crisis14 days ago
The Foreign and Commonwealth Office is now extended warning holidaymakers in Portugal should not be seduced into making false claims for sickness compensation. This follows a similar warning to Britons taking holidays in Spain. Tour operators are reporting that lawyers are issuing leaflets to hotel guests encouraging them to sue for personal injury on a ‘no win, no fee basis’ and that this practice has become widespread, they say. They are deeply worried that hotel prices could be forced up and that small firms paying out to avoid costly lawsuits could be forced into financial difficulties. Some Spanish hoteliers are said to be contemplating legal action of their own, against British holidaymakers. The FCO recommends holidaymakers to check what action they can take on the Citizens Advice website. It warns that “you should only consider pursuing a complaint of claim if you have genuinely suffered from injury or illness. Holidaymakers who make false or fraudulent claims may face legal proceedings in the UK and in Spain or Portugal.
Silver travellers buck holiday spending trend15 days ago
Spending on travel by consumers over 55 is expected to have increased during the three months to the end of June – according to research by Deloitte – with expenditure on long haul holidays up by five percentage points. This is in sharp contrast with younger people, who are forecast to have spent seven and eight per cent less on long and short haul trips respectively. Simon Oaten, the company’s partner for hospitality and leisure, says: “The long-term change in consumer behaviour, whereby consumers have favoured spending on experiences over goods, was a key reason for the leisure sector’s continued resilience throughout 2016. However, with inflation rising, a weak pound and a slowdown in nominal wage growth, leisure consumers are starting to feel their pockets tighten, leading to a fall in spending on some habitual activities and small luxuries, such as buying the daily coffee. Whilst this has yet to result in an actual reduction of overall leisure spending, this trend will be monitored closely. The overall health of the sector will be an important economic indicator in the months to come.” He says consumers with families, who may be feeling a squeeze on incomes, are showing signs of cutting back and have said that they are less likely to spend on holidays during the current quarter. Older consumers are apparently less affected by the economic headwinds, and so are continuing to prioritise spending on holidays over the next three months.
Lisbon hotel offers guests power walks18 days ago
For guests keen to combine sightseeing with a little weight containing exercise, a newly opened Lisbon hotel is offering jogging maps and ‘power walk sightseeing tours’. The latter are described as a great way to see the Portuguese capital and provides a good work out, up and down its seven hills. The 119 room Avani Avenida Liberdade was formerly the Tivoli Jardim hotel, which has undergone a £1m plus re-vamp, including the redesign of its facade, rooms and lobby and the addition of a gym.
Face recogniition on trial at Helsinki check in19 days ago
Finnair is testing face recognition check in. A group of 1000 frequent flyers are taking part in a trial at Helsinki airport. They use an app to upload their portraits to the airline’s system. The trial is taking place in cooperation with airport operator Finavia and technology provider Futurice. “We want to make air travel flow even smoother and be involved in further developing the customer experience,” says Heikki Koski, Vice President of Helsinki Airport for Finavia. “Facial recognition is part of the larger megatrend of biometric recognition, and it will enable travelling where you no longer need any travel documents. When all travel-related information is digitised, it takes less time and is easier to get through the checkpoints at the airport.
Botswana visitors face tourism levy20 days ago
Travellers to Botswana will have to pay a new tourism levy from next month. Starting on 1 June they will be charged $US30 at airports or other points of entry. That’s around £23 at the current exchange rate. The biggest share of the revenue raised will be paid by visitors heading for safaris in the Okavango Delta, by far the country’s best known destination. According to Botswana Tourism “the objective of the levy is to raise funds for conservation and national tourism development in order to support the growth of the industry and broaden the tourism base, resultantly improving the lives of the people of Botswana.
Missing bags at all time low21 days ago
The number of bags mislaid or lost by airlines last year was the lowest ever recorded, according to the Geneva based air travel communications and information technology company SITA. It says the rate was 5.73 bags per thousand, less than half the 12.25 per thousand in 2015. Almost half (47%) were bags delayed during transfers from one aircraft to another. The statistics come with members of IATA – the International Air Transport Association which represents most of the world’s airlines – preparing to tighten the monitoring of checked luggage. From next June every bag must be tracked at four mandatory points – check in, loading, transfer between flights and arrival. Passengers should then be able to track their luggage as they would parcel deliveries.
Silver travellers avoid holiday fraud increase22 days ago
Are silver travellers wising up to the tricks of holiday fraudsters? Over 50s fell victim in just over 1100 cases reported last year. While the total number (5826) jumped by nearly 20% compared with 2015, the increase was overwhelmingly among younger travellers. The travel industry organisation ABTA says those over 50 “are perhaps more wary of the ‘too good to be true’ offers”. It has combined with the City of London Police’s National Fraud Intelligence Bureau, which compiled the statistics, and the Get Safe Online campaign to warn consumers of the risks. They include fake websites, online adverts and social media content aimed at conning victims into booking unavailable accommodation, fake airline tickets – or paid for tickets that never arrive – and fraudulent timeshare and holiday clubs. Ways to avoid coming a cropper include checking that web addresses are genuine and haven’t been altered slightly and paying with debit or credit cards rather than directly into bank accounts. For further advise on how to book safely go to www.getsafeonline.org/shopping-banking/holiday-and-travel-booking
New ski hotel to open in Serbia25 days ago
Serbia look set strengthen its presence in the wintersports holiday market. The Los Angeles based Viceroy Hotel Group plans to open a 120 room hotel next year in Kopaonik, a resort towards the south of the country, close to Kosovo. The property promises ski in, ski out accommodation with access to over 55kms of mainly beginner to intermediate runs. Also open in summer as a base for walking and other activities, it will have a spa, a pool and an outdoor Jacuzzi.
Moselle museum to offer tractor hire26 days ago
Visitors at a newly opened museum in Germany’s Moselle Valley will be able to hire a vintage tractor starting this month – and go chugging through the vineyards. The Moselland Museum near Cochem comprises three floors of wine growing history and other nostalgia. It started with a Fendt F15G tractor, built in 1951, which its founders couldn’t bring themselves to part with. The Fendt was followed by 27 others – and by the acquisition of a collection of other items from the difficult years after the Second World War. The museum also incorporates a collection of textiles and old stoves. Prices and conditions of hire are at www.moselland-museum.de.
Hotel linked to Heathrow set to open27 days ago
A Premier Inn connected by covered walkway to Heathrow’s Terminal 4 is scheduled to open this month. The property will have 613 rooms. It will incorporate a restaurant but there will be no parking on site.