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Uzbekistan unseen

Trade Publication of the Year / Mar 2020

This Central Asian country is finally opening its doors to tourism and revealing unexpected delights, from a compelling capital to ancient Silk Road sites

Say “I do�

To dream destinations for weddings and honeymoons

EasyJet Holidays

Now fully in-house, the operator aims to be as big as the airline

Pittsburgh

Getting to know the city whose lifeblood is rebirth and reinvention


Norwegian Spirit in Santorini, Greece

Your customers can be among the first to set sail on the refurbished and revitalised Norwegian Spirit after her 2020 bow-tostern modernisation. They’ll enjoy a new port everyday with unique 7-Day Greek Isles and Turkey cruises starting in April.

7-DAY GREEK ISLES

7-DAY GREEK ISLES

SANTORINI, MYKONOS & RHODES

SANTORINI, MYKONOS & ISTANBUL

FROM ATHENS (PIRAEUS) • NORWEGIAN SPIRIT SAILING APRIL TO OCTOBER 2020

FROM ATHENS (PIRAEUS) • NORWEGIAN SPIRIT SAILING APRIL TO OCTOBER 2020

•Istanbul

•Corfu

Argostoli Mykonos

Kusadasi

• • • •Patmos •Rhodes •Santorini

Athens

Corfu, Greece

Mediterranean Sea

INSIDE FROM

£555PP**

• Athens• •

Volos

Mykonos

Santorini BALCONY FROM

INSIDE FROM

£835 PP**

Based on 26 April 2020

£554PP** Istanbul, Turkey

•Kusadasi •Rhodes Mediterranean Sea

BALCONY FROM

£864 PP**

Based on 19 April 2020

FLIGHTS, OTHER STATEROOM CATEGORIES AND SAILINGS ARE AVAILABLE FOR MORE INFORMATION OR TO BOOK, CALL 0333 336 2915 OR VISIT AGENTS-UK.NCL.EU *The 30% Off promotion applies to the total voyage fare (including the non-commissionable fare) for cruise only bookings made between 4 and 10 March 2020 inclusive for all guests in qualifying staterooms. Discount does not apply to any flight element or to the land portion of Cruise tours or bundles. Government taxes, port expenses and fees, discretionary onboard service charges and gratuities are additional. Discount applies to all guests in qualifying staterooms including those occupied by a single guest paying 200% of voyage fare. Discount will be deducted from the balance payment. Promotion is applicable to new individual FIT reservations. Discount is non-refundable, non-transferable and has no monetary value. Other restrictions may apply. ^The upgrade offer is available on all sailings and for all categories including IX, OX, BX and MX (Guarantee Categories) but applicable terms vary for certain ships and sailings. Upgrade charge depends on cruise length. £99pp for cruises of 7-9 days. Applicable to 1st and 2nd guests sharing a stateroom only (unless otherwise stated). Friends & Family offer available on select sailings only. Single occupants of stateroom paying 200% of voyage fare qualify. **Lead prices are based on inside and balcony categories on featured sailings and are correct at the time of printing. Fares are per person shown in £GBP and based on cruise only, double/twin occupancy including government taxes, port expenses and fees. NCL reserves the right to correct any errors, inaccuracies or omissions and to change or update fares, fees and surcharges at any time without prior notice. Promotions and combinability with other promotional offers are subject to change at any time at NCL’s discretion. All featured promotions are applicable to UK office only. For full terms and conditions of all promotions please visit ncl.com. NCL (Bahamas) Ltd, UK Office, Mountbatten House, Grosvenor Square, Southampton, SO15 2JU. ©2020 NCL CORPORATION LTD. Ships' Registry: Bahamas and United States of America. 7387.1.2.20


ABBA IS THE VERY BEST ESCAPE’ The Times

Uzbekistan unseen

Trade Publication of the Year / Mar 2020

This Central Asian country is finally opening its doors to tourism and revealing unexpected delights, from a compelling capital to ancient Silk Road sites

Say “I do”

To dream destinations for weddings and honeymoons

T YOUR EXPERIENCE AT MAMIATHEPARTY.CO.UK THE O2, LONDON

Official Partner

EasyJet Holidays

Now fully in-house, the operator aims to be as big as the airline

Pittsburgh

Getting to know the city whose lifeblood is rebirth and reinvention

Ticketing Partner

YOUR PREFERRED SUPPLIER

THE LIFE AND TIMES OF THE BAND THAT CHANGED IT ALL

NOW OPEN AT THE 02

The heritage of Central Asia on travellers’ radars

I

n February last year, Uzbekistan introduced a new visa-free travel policy for up to 30 days for a number of European countries, including the UK, suddenly putting it on the map for British travellers. The policy was introduced by the country’s president, Shavkat Mirziyoyev, who came to power in 2016 after the death of former leader Islam Karimov, who was considered by many to be a dictator. The country saw a 40 per cent increase in tourist arrivals year-on-year between 2017and 2018, prompting ABTA to name it as a destination to watch in its Travel Trends 2019 report, released in November 2018, with the number jumping further last year. With its incredible architecture, including its mesmerising subway stations, and Silk Road heritage sites, including Samarkand and Bukhara, both of which are Unesco World Heritage Sites, it’s a destination that deserves to be on your radar – as Daniel Allen’s excellent feature demonstrates on p56. Elsewhere in this issue, we’ve got our annual weddings and honeymoons round-up written by Karl Cushing, who shares some of the best new, most exciting properties across the globe for customers who are tying the knot (p50). We also speak to EasyJet Holidays on p36 to find out more about the relaunched operator, which recently joined ABTA, while we’ve got all the latest industry news from p9, plus the news, campaigns and expert advice from ABTA starting p24. We hope you enjoy reading – do send your thoughts to info@ABTAmag.com.

Presented by

In association with

19/02/2020 17:43

Events with ABTA

See p29 for the full list of ABTA events

March 10–11

March 24

March 25

Travel Finance Conference, London

Instagram for Travel, London

Crisis Management in Travel Conference, London

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January March 2020

3


March

FEATURES

50 56

Weddings and honeymoons Say “I do” at dream destinations

Uzbekistan unseen Central Asia’s unexpected delights

ABTA Magazine is created by Waterfront Publishing on behalf of ABTA Waterfront Publishing 12-18 Hoxton Street London N1 6NG waterfront-publishing.com

020 3865 9360

Director Sam Ballard sam@waterfront-publishing.com Director Anthony Pearce anthony@waterfront-publishing.com Senior sales manager Bryan Johnson bryan@cruise-adviser.com 020 3865 9338

62

Industry insights Apprentices of all ages

Sales manager Rory Collins rory@waterfront-publishing.com 020 3865 4815

With thanks to: Daniel Allen, Joe Crewther, Karl Cushing, Bryony MacQueen

Sales exectuive Vasiliana Micheal vasiliana@waterfront-publishing.com 020 3865 9360

ABTAmag.com info@ABTAmag.com Twitter: @ABTAMagazine Facebook: ABTAMagazine LinkedIn: ABTAMagazine

Head of design Billy Odell billy@ABTAmag.com

ABTA 30 Park Street, London SE1 9EQ

Business travel editor Jenny Southan jenny@ABTAmag.com

Chief executive Mark Tanzer

Sub-editors Emily Eastman, Nathaniel Cramp, Alice Snape

Chairman Alistair Rowland

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THE FAMOUS FIVE ©2020, Hodder & Stoughton Limited. All rights reserved.

New journey times across our network. Book at GWR.com, on our app, or at a station.


In the March issue

36

38

44 Contributors Jenny Southan is an awardwinning freelance travel journalist, and editor and founder of trend forecasting agency Globetrender. Karl Cushing is a travel journalist covering all areas from adventure tours to cruise and wellness. He has a soft spot for wildlife-watching trips. Daniel Allen is a UK-based writer and photographer whose work has featured in National Geographic, the Sunday Times and CNN Travel.

03 08

Editor’s letter New destinations on travellers’ radars

09 18

News The latest travel industry news

20

Interview: Amanda Dunning G Adventures’ brand partnerships manager spills all on a new partnership with Nat Geo that’s taking families further

24

ABTA section Get up to date with all the latest news, campaigns and events from ABTA

30

Business travel Investment in airport lounges is taking off, from high-end freebies to thoughtful design

36

Spotlight on… EasyJet Holidays. CEO Garry Wilson shares how it plans to become as successful as the airline – and what role the trade may play

38

UK holidays Joe Crewther experiences the renaissance of Dundee, renowned for its generous welcome

44

City guide Karl Cushing visits Pittsburgh, the birthplace of Andy Warhol, and discovers a city reborn

64

Gamesroom Play games and win prizes

66

Final word Stuart Parker, head of operations and delivery, on the logistics of ABTA

On trend Space tourism is among key travel trends and average travel industry pay is on the up

Out and about Our round-up of images from the latest industry events and fam trips


‘A NIGHT OUT WITH ABBA IS THE VERY BEST ESCAPE’ The Times

W NO ING K BOOTO RCH MA 21 20

Official Partner

Hotel Partner

START YOUR EXPERIENCE AT MAMMAMIATHEPARTY.CO.UK THE O2, LONDON

Official Partner

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BOOK THROUGH YOUR PREFERRED SUPPLIER

A ‘brilliant extrABBAganza’ THE MIRROR

THE LIFE AND TIMES OF THE BAND THAT CHANGED IT ALL

abbasupertroupers.com

NOW OPEN AT THE 02

Presented by

In association with


On trend

On trend

Every issue we reveal the numbers behind the biggest stories in travel

Personal Travel Agents at Co-operative Travel is celebrating a record-breaking January, with sales up 23 per cent on 2019 and average earnings for the homeworkers rising by 11 per cent year-on-year. The homeworking business affiliated to Midcounties Co-operative, which currently has 170+ agents based across the UK, achieved sales of more than £9.8million in the January peak booking period (January 1–31, 2020), heralding the company’s highest-performing January to date.

Personal Travel Agents at Co-operative Travel is also celebrating its most successful year since the business was formed in 2012, having closed this financial year (February 1, 2019 to January 31, 2020) with overall sales of £52 million.

£9.8m 23%

Virgin Galactic CEO George Whitesides believes there are about two million potential space tourists in existence today, according to Globetrender’s Future of Luxury Travel Forecast: 2020–2025, which names Space Tourism among 25 trends (see Globetrender.com/downloads). By 2030, UBS predicts this new industry will be worth US$3 billion.

Average pay for standard travel jobs rose in January to set a new record, with the figure of £26,337 representing a monthly rise of almost 8 per cent. It was the highest average salary recorded since 2012.

£26,337

January’s total was up by almost 5 per cent on the rolling 12-month average, according to the latest survey of new vacancies conducted by C&M Travel Recruitment and C&M Executive Recruitment.

Emerald Waterways will officially enter the yacht cruise market with the launch of Emerald Azzurra. 8

March 2020

The first vessel for the newly formed Emerald Yacht Cruises brand, Emerald Azzurra is a custom-built, 100-guest, ocean-going super yacht to be launched in July 2021, sailing a series of 47 itineraries.

The sailings, which are now on sale, will explore destinations including the Red Sea – Israel, Jordan and Egypt – and the Mediterranean – Greece, Montenegro, Italy, France, Cyprus and Turkey.

ABTAmag.com


News March 2020

All the latest headlines from the world of travel

CORONAVIRUS

IMMIGRATION

Operators hit by virus fears ABTA issues warning By ABTA Magazine staff

By ABTA Magazine staff Coronavirus continues to cause a number of logistical issues to travel operators, with IATA (International Air Transport Association) warning that demand for air travel will fall for the first time in a decade. Airlines stand to lose $29.3 billion (£23.7 billion) of revenue due to the coronavirus outbreak, the global airline industry body has warned, with airlines in China and the wider Asia Pacific region expected to take the vast majority of the impact. In total, airlines in the Asia Pacific region are set to see a $27.8 billion revenue loss in 2020, while those outside Asia are expected to lose $1.5 billion in revenue, IATA said. Following the quarantining of Diamond Princess, a number of cruise lines have changed itineraries in the region, including those under the four largest cruise companies in the world: Carnival Corporation (owner of Princess Cruises, P&O Cruises and Cunard), Royal Caribbean Cruises (owner of Azamara Club Cruises, Silversea, Celebrity Cruises and Royal Caribbean International), Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings (owner of Norwegian Cruise Line, Oceania Cruises and Regent Seven Seas) and MSC Cruises. “The outbreak of Coronavirus affecting China and other countries has dominated national media headlines. This is generating a lot of consumer questions as well as logistical

ABTAmag.com

issues and costs for ABTA members, especially cruise operators and their agents who have been exceptionally busy contacting customers whose travel plans have had to be changed to follow the latest travel advice,” Mark Tanzer, chief executive of ABTA said. “To ensure that the latest information is available to members, ABTA’s Destinations team has been engaging with multiple government and industry bodies such as the Foreign & Commonwealth Office and Public Health England, and this enables us to update our member guidance with the very latest advice. “I would also encourage members to follow our Operational Bulletins, which will include any new relevant information as it comes to light. We also have advice for customers, which can be found at abta.com/coronavirus and we are keeping this regularly updated. It includes a helpful Q&A based on the many calls we have had from people yet to travel which will help make customers aware of the facts and their rights,” he added. Meanwhile, tourism is likely to be affected as tourists stay in China. Chinese visitors accounted for 150 million overseas trips in 2019 and spent $130 billion overseas in 2018, up 13 per cent from the previous year, according to the most recent figures. One stark example is Thailand, where in the first week of February arrivals booked by the Association of Thai Travel Agents were down 71 per cent from last year overall and 99 per cent from China. ABTAmag.com

ABTA has said the government’s decision to not give visas to “lowskilled” workers will have a “very damaging effect on businesses”. Last month, the home secretary Priti Patel announced a new points-based immigration system that would, she said, “end the reliance on cheap, low-skilled labour coming into the country”. The Home Office said the new single global system will treat EU and non-EU citizens equally and will give top priority to those with the “highest skills and the greatest talents, including scientists, engineers and academics”. In a statement, ABTA said: “Tourism generates £146 billion in revenue within the UK and supports more than 3 million jobs across the country. It is one of the UK’s largest industries and a major success story. “It is vital that the industry continues to have access to the talent it needs. The travel and tourism industry is committed to investing in skills and training, but with record low unemployment rates, immigration policy also has an important role to play. “The lack of a temporary regime will not give businesses sufficient time to transition to new arrangements and will likely have a very damaging effect on businesses that are reliant on EU workers. We hope the government will engage with and listen to businesses to ensure the right policies are in place for our industry to continue to succeed.”ABTAmag.com

March 2020

9


SHARM EL SHEIKH This is rush hour

WHERE IT ALL BEGINS WWW.EGYPT.TRAVEL

Join our online training course at www.egypt-ott.co.uk


LUXOR This is a feminist

WHERE IT ALL BEGINS WWW.EGYPT.TRAVEL

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News March

CRUISE

AIR

Virgin Voyages launches with first ship Scarlet Lady

Debris in 737s By ABTA Magazine staff

By Alice Snape Sir Richard Branson has officially launched his cruise line, Virgin Voyages, intended “for people who are young at heart and who’ve never dreamt about going on a cruise”. Scarlet Lady will sail four, five and sevennight Caribbean itineraries out of Miami. The first four-day itinerary will call at Key West and Virgin’s private Beach Club in Bimini. Five-night itineraries call at Cozumel, Playa del Carmen and Bimini. There are also itineraries with celebrities including Mark Ronson and Diplo. Sir Richard Branson will be on board a special four-night birthday sailing in July. The ship, which is adult-only, carries 2,770 passengers; 86 per cent of the cabins on the ship have balconies. “It’s wonderful to welcome Scarlet Lady today,” said Virgin Group founder Sir Richard Branson. “I’m so proud that as we start this

12 March 2020

exciting journey, we also bring to life Virgin Voyages’ commitment to preserving the ocean and the first of many steps towards a net zero carbon future. “The ocean is our home, and we are on a mission to protect it. The single biggest threat facing our ocean is climate change, and we want to be part of the solution,” he added. The brand said it was committed to working with the industry to support the necessary research and development to advance carbon-free fuels and to scale commercially viable solutions. Tom McAlpin, CEO and president of Virgin Voyages, said: “We are committed to pioneering new technologies on board and working with our industry peers to advance research and development for zero-carbon fuels.” The line’s second ship, Valiant Lady, is set to debut in May 2021. ABTAmag.com

The troubled 737 Max has come under fire again after Boeing discovered debris left inside the wing fuel tanks of several undelivered aircraft during the assembly process. Boeing has ordered inspections of its entire fleet of grounded 737 Max planes, about 400 of which are stored at various locations awaiting delivery to airlines. The specialist aviation blog Leeham News, which first reported the discovery of the “Foreign Object Debris” (FOD), said it was unlikely that the inspections would delay the recertification of the jets. But it could take up to three days to inspect each plane because fuel must be drained before the fuel tanks can be opened. “Foreign Object Debris” is an industrial term for rags, tools, metal shavings and other materials that are left behind by workers during the assembly process. Mark Jenks, the general manager of the 737 programme, said in a memo to employees that the debris was “absolutely unacceptable”. A company spokesman told the BBC: “While conducting maintenance we discovered Foreign Object Debris in undelivered 737 Max airplanes currently in storage. That finding led to a robust internal investigation and immediate corrective actions in our production system.” ABTAmag.com

ABTAmag.com


CHARIT Y

Family Holiday Association sets sails with ABTA Lifeline By ABTA Magazine staff The new CEO of the Family Holiday Association, Kat Lee, has urged the travel industry get behind it with this year’s charity regatta in association with ABTA Lifeline. The Family Holiday Association provides breaks for UK families struggling with issues such as disability, severe and sudden illness, bereavement, mental health issues and domestic violence. In 2019, 4,821 families benefited from its work; a 25 per cent increase on 2018. This July, the Family Holiday Association will once again partner with ABTA Lifeline, the charity

that provides support for those working in the travel industry who are in need, for the regatta, a day of sailing on the Solent – a chance to raise money for two charities, team build and perhaps win the highly coveted trophy. “We’re currently recruiting people to be on boats,” says Lee. “It’s a really nice way we cross over with ABTA Lifeline.” Lee added: “ABTA’s John de Vial is one of our trustees and he is running the [Virgin London] marathon for us; we’ve got 31 runners this year, many of them are from the travel industry.” And there are many other ways for those working in travel to get involved with the charity. “We have loads of partners across the industry – some who give us donated goods and services and some who directly support, such as TUI Care Foundation, Hoseasons and Responsible Travel. We’re working with Spears Travel, who are collecting in their shops for us, and companies such as Forest Holidays and Hilton Hotels have donated products. There is a real range of ways people can support us. “Thirty six per cent of families last year were families we gave their first ever break away together. From our research, 90 per cent of them reported talking more to each; the same amount said they are more optimistic about their future. They spend more time together, they have more confidence and it reduces stress and worry by getting families away from it all for a little bit.”ABTAmag.com

RIVIERA TRAVEL

New chief executive By ABTA Magazine staff Riviera Travel welcomes Phil Hullah as chief executive to succeed David Clemson. Hullah, who joined the river cruise and escorted tours operator in October as chief operating officer, steps up to take the helm on March 2. Hullah is a former managing director of Laithwaites Wine and former commercial director of John Lewis. He joins Riviera from digital education business AVADO, where he was deputy chairman after almost a decade as chief executive. Clemson will stay on as a shareholder and non-executive director having overseen a seven-fold rise in revenues since joining the company in 2008. Clemson said: “It’s been a huge privilege to lead Riviera. I am deeply grateful to Riviera’s fantastic team, its founder Michael Wright and the board for their tireless commitment to the business. “Having worked with Phil over the last few months, I am confident that the business will thrive under his leadership.” Hullah added: “It’s a very exciting time for the business as we expand across all our product lines and continue to improve the customer experience.” ABTAmag.com

Meet the tour operator Niall Gibbons, CEO, Tourism Ireland Are you seeing a rise or fall in numbers from Brits? In 2019 we welcomed 3.7 million visitors over to the island of Ireland. This is particularly remarkable given the circumstances and level of uncertainty we endured with Brexit at the beginning of last year. We are seeing a more positive tone with British holidaymakers and we are optimistic with regards to booking behaviours for 2020. Our YouGov survey in December informed us that 52 per cent would consider a short break in Ireland in 2020 and

ABTAmag.com

so it is a matter of working with the people in our GB office to capitalise on this behaviour and convert into business. Why do you think that is? Our numbers remain positive, owing to convenient access with 23 British airports going into nine airports across Ireland, as well as strong investment from the sea carrier market. It is important for us to reassure potential holidaymakers that there is never Continues on page 16

March 2020 13


TOURS

USA & Canada From the mountain tops to the shores of lakes and oceans, the great continent of North America has jaw-dropping scenery from sea to sky and we have ten fantastic tours for your customers to choose from.

The Rockies

Get a taste of the great outdoors in the Rocky Mountains in Canada. The spectacular landscapes of peaks, lakes and forests amaze at every turn. The glorious Rockies have something to offer in every season from the valley floor to the peaks, and incredible wildlife adventurers feel honoured to spot.

Rocky Mountains and Alaskan Adventure

is just one of our tours where your customers can experience the natural beauty of the Rockies for themselves. A 15 night tour which includes a once-in-a-lifetime journey on the Rocky Mountaineer train, leading to an overnight stay in Vancouver and then a seven-night cruise along the Alaskan coastline.

Grand Canyon

Some natural wonders simply take explorers breaths away due to their sheer size, and the Grand Canyon has to be one of those wonders. Gradually carved by the Colorado River between five and six million years ago, the steep-sided canyon stretches 277 miles and exposes nearly two billion years of the Earth’s geological history. It’s the ideal place for photographers, as well as visitors who are simply left astounded by the view.

National Parks Discovery allows your customers’ to

explore some of America’s geological wonders and most iconic sights on this enthralling tour; with the chance to see Mount Rushmore, the awe-inspiring Grand Canyon and the roaring geysers of Yellowstone National park. This 14 night tour even includes a stay in the infamous Las Vegas.

Our tours include so much more… • • • • • • • • • • •

VIP door-to-door travel service Optional travel insurance includes cover for over 400 pre-existing conditions Saga Tour Manager on hand throughout your trip Excursions on many tours Visa assistance on the majority of tours Multiple meals on all tours All-inclusive options on many tours Dedicated departure dates for solo travellers Guaranteed departures on all dates Departures from regional airports on many tours ABTA and ATOL protection


STAYS

Spain and her islands With such an extensive coastline, the Spanish Costas can give guests a new place to explore with every holiday. Centuries of influence from the Romans and Moors, give Spain a unique culture and way of life that’s so enchanting to those who visit.

Albir

The town of Albir in Alicante is a great location with something for everyone. There is a long beach to soak up the sun, a Sunday market and plenty of spots to relax and dine – or guests can hop on the bus and head to bustling Benidorm. Visitors can also explore the dramatic landscape of the Sierra Gelada national park, right on Albir’s doorstep. Experience this resort at Hotel Kaktus Albir or Hotel Sun Palace Albir, just two of our 4Q hotels with sole occupancy rooms available at no extra cost and excursions to Denia and Marina Alta included in the stay. Prices are all inclusive and 14 night stays or longer have two additional excursions included: a visit to Maserof wine museum and to the village of Finestrat.

Huelva

Get off the beaten track on the ‘secret coast’ between Cadiz and Portugal. Huelva is famous for being the departure point for Christopher Columbus before setting off across the Atlantic. As well as a long history, there is a haven for birdwatchers in the estuary’s

marshlands where migrating flamingos congregate.Embrace what Huelva has to offer with Hotel Fuerte El Rompido one of our 4Qplus all inclusive hotels with a Huelva city tour and Tavira and Ayamonte town excursions included with your customers’ stay. And for those avid wildlife guests there’s even an option of a birdwatching excursion too! Or how about our 4Q hotel Occidental Isla Cristina; another fantastic choice to allow your customers to lap up this glorious Spanish resort.

Included in the price •

Optional travel insurance - includes cover for over 400 pre-existing conditions • Departures from regional airports • Excursions included at all hotel stays • A dedicated Saga Host • Free Wi-Fi at all hotels • Hold luggage up to 20kg • Porter service at the hotel • Many stays all-inclusive • Sole occupancy rooms available at no extra cost at selected hotels • ABTA and ATOL protection Plus even more is included with our Signature Collection hotels


News March

QATAR AIRWAYS

Gulf carrier increases stake in IAG By ABTA Magazine staff Qatar Airways has lifted its shareholding in British Airways owner International Airlines Group (IAG). The Gulf carrier’s stake has increased from 21.4 per cent to 25.1 per cent – the sum was not disclosed – which comes less than a month after IAG removed a cap on nonEuropean Union investment. Qatar Airways group chief executive Akbar Al Baker said: “Our investment to date has been highly successful and the announced increase in our shareholding is evidence of our continued support of IAG and its strategy. “Qatar Airways continues to consider opportunities to invest in airlines and support management teams that share our vision to enhance travel opportunities for airline passengers across the globe.” The move follows long-term IAG chief executive Willie Walsh announcing that he will be standing down on March 26 to be succeeded by Iberia boss Luis Gallego. Qatar Airways first bought IAG stock in 2015 and the company has insisted that the interest is purely financial. ABTAmag.com

GOVERNMENT

New aviation minister confirmed By ABTA Magazine staff Kelly Tolhurst MP has been appointed as the next aviation minister as part of the government’s cabinet reshuffle, replacing Nusrat Ghani. Tolhurst has been the MP for Rochester and Strood since 2015 and was one of three ministers appointed by the Department for Transport (DfT), reporting into transport secretary Grant Shapps. According to her official profile on the Department for Transport website, Tolhurst will additionally be responsible for maritime, security and civil contingencies and will shadow the roads brief. Until prime minister Boris Johnson’s reshuffle, Tolhurst was parliamentary under-secretary of state at the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, a role she began in July 2018. ABTAmag.com

BARRHEAD

Two new locations By ABTA Magazine staff Barrhead Travel has revealed that its next two branch locations will be in Bury, Greater Manchester, and Worthing, West Sussex, taking the total number of new stores announced to 19. Barrhead has opened 11 new shops since October, including in Oldham and Stockport, which welcomed customers for the first time over the weekend of February 15. Jacqueline Dobson, president of Barrhead Travel said: “Worthing will be a hugely complementary addition to our portfolio in the south, joining the Isle of Wight, Plymouth and Southampton in the most southerly stretches of the country.” ABTAmag.com

Coming soon

ABTA Country Guides, with information on every country in the world where you can send your clients on holiday. They include everything from top attractions to LGBT rights and whether your clients can get married in the destination. See the countryguides.abtamag.com

Continued from page 13 a better time to visit Ireland, particularly with The Common Travel Area (created in 1923) in place during the transition period, meaning British visitors can travel freely to Ireland without restriction. What should agents look out for in 2020? We have an exciting calendar of events scheduled throughout 2020, including Galway European Capital of Culture. For Game of Thrones fans, the new Linen Mill Studios opening in autumn 2020 comprises imagery, sets, original props and other behind-the-scenes items. If you’re a foodie,

16 March 2020

Taste the Island is a celebration of Ireland’s excellent food and drink offering with events taking place from September to November. What effect is Brexit likely to have? The Common Travel Area, originally signed in 1923 by the UK and Irish governments and recently reaffirmed, enables the free movement of British and Irish citizens between Great Britain and Ireland. We know there will be ongoing trade talks between now and the end of the year; however, we don’t foresee any major impact on the British tourism market between now and the end of 2020.

Can the trade learn more and get involved? We have a very active trade team and a strong promotional programme throughout the year. The GB trade can get involved in a range of cooperative programmes, such as Meitheal and Meet the Buyer.

ABTAmag.com


EVENTS

Develop your domestic offering

Registration is open for ABTA’s UK Domestic Market Conference, taking place on March 19 at the Science and Industry Museum in Manchester From the changing landscape of the UK holiday market to new product innovations and an emphasis on how to engage with new customers, ABTA’s UK Domestic Market Conference is essential for anyone wanting to develop their domestic offering. This year, ABTA has teamed up with Shearings, Hoseasons, Bourne Leisure, Airways Holidays, Condor Ferries and Visit Jersey for the one-day conference in Manchester. Jane Atkins, managing director at Shearings Holidays, who will be moderating the conference, said: “The UK market has shown solid growth over the last few years, and 2020 looks set to follow the same trend. The UK product set is really varied, so it is key that agents understand what is on offer, are up to date with the major trends within the UK market and communicate to customers that they can book UK products through them. Great value UK products are ideal

ABTAmag.com

to promote as impulse purchases and key UK events provide a great opportunity for agents to capitalise on, as they are already widely promoted. Selling the UK is also an excellent way for an agent to attract more customers and grow their databases. “Any agent who wants to learn more should attend ABTA’s domestic tourism event in Manchester, as it will help those who attend understand the size and opportunity that the UK product set offers retail agents.” Other speakers at the event will include Clare Jenkinson, senior sustainability manager at ABTA; Richard Slater, owner of Henbury Travel; and Kelly Cookes, leisure director at Advantage Travel Partnership. Emma Wilkinson, VisitEngland’s head of marketing, who will also be speaking at the conference, said: “At VisitEngland we recognise the importance of promoting domestic travel. In 2020 we are targeting young Brits with our ‘microgapping’

campaign, packaging up mini gap-year style breaks, and encouraging families with young children to take an off-peak holiday with a Peppa Pig-inspired campaign. “With so much going on across the country, from Cumbria’s Hidden Coast Project launching in autumn 2020, giving visitors access to a secluded stretch of England’s north-west coastline, to the UEFA Euro 2020 final in London in July, there are so many reasons to discover something new in your own backyard and boost the economy through tourism.” Victoria Bacon, ABTA’s director of brand and business development, said: “2020 is set to be a strong year for domestic travel, with 56 per cent of people planning to holiday in the UK. This year marks a number of exciting events – from VE Day celebrations all over the country and Euro 2020, to the Year of Outdoors in Wales, to name a few. Visit abta.com/events to register

March 2020 17


News Events

Out and about Pictures from the latest travel industry events 1. Alex Delamere-White of P&O Cruises (right) joins Dave Mills and Simone Clark of Iglu at Carnival’s UK Cruise Awards. 2–3. All the winners from the night, which was held at the Roundhouse in Camden, London in February. Carnival Corporation’s six UK brands – P&O Cruises, Princess Cruises, Cunard, Seabourn, Holland America Line and Carnival Cruise Line – awarded agencies. 4. Delamere-White joins John Hays of Hay Travel, which won Retailer of the Year.

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5. Gold Medal treated some lucky agents with prizes for booking packages over the past few months. Matt Greenwood, key account manager at Gold Medal presented Yvonne Montgomery from Aspen Travel – who booked a New Zealand holiday with Gold Medal in November – with a luxury weekend away in the UK courtesy of Tourism New Zealand and Air New Zealand. 6. Simon McDermott, business development manager at A-Rosa River Cruises, hit the road with Zoe Holt from JTA Travel (centre), visiting agents including Maureen Evans, owner of Freedom Travel in Longton, Preston (left) to discuss the companies’ new partnership. 7–8. The Antigua and Barbuda Tourism Authority’s UK office hosted a series of peak season roadshows in the South East of England, accommodating some 250 travel agents from Cambridge, Windsor, Winchester, Bristol, Brighton and Oxford.

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Send your travel industry pictures to info@ABTAmag.com and we’ll print the best

March 2020 19


Interview Amanda Dunning

Amanda Dunning Brand partnerships manager, G Adventures Sam Ballard hears about the partnership with Nat Geo that’s taking families further

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n the travel industry, there are few brands that resonate as strongly as National Geographic. Founded in 1888, the National Geographic Society, now one of the world’s largest non-profit scientific organisations, today incorporates publications, a TV channel, award-winning films and, since 1999, has been taking people on expeditions. Committed to furthering our understanding of environmental conservation, archaeology, geography and world culture, everything it does is rooted in the ethos that travel is a force for good. That’s one of the reasons why

20 March 2020

its partnership with G Adventures makes so much sense. Since 2015, National Geographic Journeys has taken G Adventures’ small group tours and layered on extra elements, such as behind-thescenes access at Unesco World Heritage sites. Now that partnership is being extended to family holidays with National Geographic Family Journeys comprising specially curated itineraries in 12 countries – the first departing this month. Sam Ballard sat down with Amanda Dunning, G Adventure’s brand partnerships manager, to learn more about National Geographic Family Journeys.

Why did G Adventures and National Geographic decide to extend the partnership to include family holidays? When we broke down our partnership with National Geographic Journeys, which started in 2015, it was about two things: the immersive cultural experience and the price point. With the family market, you have your traditional all-inclusive operators or cruises and then you also have the highend operators – but you don’t have someone in the middle, giving an

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ABTA event Sustainable Travel Conference June 17, London

immersive educational experience. And that is something that National Geographic and G Adventures brings to the table. It was a natural fit. Tell us more about National Geographic Family Journeys. What does the programme look like? We worked with National Geographic to narrow down the list of suitable destinations. We asked where we could take our travellers to a project that’s either supported by National Geographic or G Adventures. We launched with 12 destinations across the world. Tanzania and Morocco have been really popular in the UK, but we’re also anticipating Vietnam and Cambodia being popular, too. Peru and Costa Rica are our bestsellers. And what does a National Geographic Family Journeys holiday look like? All of the trips have been thoughtfully crafted. In Japan, there’s a sumo wrestling class, a samurai sword lesson too and then families get to go and make ramen. The minimum age is seven so children are a little bit older and can

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learn while also being able to make friends. The accommodations is carefully picked, too. When you’re travelling with a family, you don’t want to rough it. We try and contract hotels with pools that also have triple and quad rooms. Location is another key factor, so families can do something on a free evening. G Adventures has a family product already. What are the main differences with this? Firstly, every tour with National Geographic has two chief experience officers, which means the group size can be larger, a maximum of 20 people, to allow for more families. The second thing is the learning experiences that National Geographic brings. Families will receive a pack before they leave to help children get excited. It includes photography guides and an adventure journal. National Geographic also bought an app called iNaturalist, where you can take a photo of any plant or animal and someone will identify it. It’s a big part of what they call citizen science. They’ve actually discovered new species through the app.

How does pricing work for single parent families? It’s a maximum of two kids per one adult, but G Adventures works on a solo traveller basis so there is no supplement for single parents to pay. How are you communicating this to the trade? Families is a pretty big launch, especially in the UK. There’s a big difference between booking something for you and your partner and booking something for you and your family. There is a specially trained team in our call centre that can answer all of the questions that might come up. Every element of the trip has been thought through: how long are transfers and will there be regular toilet stops? What about access to pharmacies? If a child only eats pasta and butter will they be okay? The answer is yes, by the way – and they can still enjoy making the ramen. We can help agents answer any of those questions. National Geographic Family Journeys launches on March 14 with itineraries in Costa Rica and South Africa.

March 2020 21


Top Five

Five of the best: new routes from the UK LONDON CITY TO SAN SEBASTIÁN (BRITISH AIRWAYS) British Airways has expanded its short-haul network with a new route to San Sebastián, the pretty coastal town in northern Spain’s mountainous Basque Country. It’s known for its famous beaches, Playa de la Concha and Playa de Ondarreta, as well as its worldclass food – it has one of the highest number of Michelin stars per square meter in the world. The service will fly from London City Airport twice weekly from July through to September. The new route means British Airways will serve five Spanish destinations direct from the airport.

LONDON GATWICK TO TIRANA (EASYJET) As of May, EasyJet will fly to Albania’s capital of Tirana, known for its fascinating architecture that ranges from Ottoman to Soviet. Flights, which are on Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays, start at £30.99 one-way. There’s plenty to keep you enthralled in the city, but there are also several beaches relatively nearby, including beautiful Kepi i Rodonit (one hour and 15 minutes by car).

BIRMINGHAM TO KEFALONIA (JET2) Kefalonia is the largest of Greece’s Ionian islands and home to pretty harbour villages such as Assos and Fiskardo. The island is perhaps best known for providing the backdrop to Captain Corelli’s Mandolin and has lost none of its charm since. Jet2 will be operating weekly services between May and September – among a number of new routes from Birmingham, which include Pula, Croatia.

GLASGOW TO ALMERIA (JET2) From Glasgow, Jet2 has announced new routes to Almeria in Spain and Krakow in Poland. The former is in the autonomous region of Andalusia and is home to the only real desert in Europe, Tabernas, while the coastline of Cabo de Gata boasts beautiful villages and gorgeous beaches. The new routes bring Jet2’s total from Glasgow to 34.

LONDON HEATHROW TO PORTLAND (BRITISH AIRWAYS) A new direct nineand-a-half-hour flight will take you to America’s most hipster city when it launches in June. Return flights start from £452 per person, allowing visitors to spend more on the city’s ubiquitous craft beer, single origin coffee and BBQ joints. The service will fly five times a week.

22 March 2020

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ABTA News

ABTA news March 2020

All the latest reports, comment, campaigns and events from ABTA – The Travel Association

New research on how families are holidaying

New findings by ABTA show that families are taking more holidays and to far-flung destinations By ABTA Magazine staff Nine out of ten UK families are planning a holiday in 2020 and are looking to broaden their horizons this year as well as find greater adventure, according to research conducted by ABTA. Classic beach and city holidays in Spain, Greece and France are still in the greatest demand, but ABTA members report that families are driving longer-haul bookings, particularly for destinations such as Orlando, Dubai and Cancun. Families are also varying the destinations they are visiting, with trips to Africa and South America on the rise. Kenya and Botswana are more popular among older families, while Peru and Brazil are attracting younger families. Young families are also showing greater enthusiasm for cruise, which has grown in popularity by 10 per cent in the past four

24 March 2020

years. Many cruise ships are being built with multigenerational travel in mind – family cabins, water parks, theatres and game areas are all now more commonplace on modern ships. When it comes to sustainable travel, families are taking a greater interest, too. How animals are treated is their highest concern (66 per cent), with families viewing and interacting with animals, either in captivity or in the wild, more so than any other demographic. Responding to these concerns, ABTA has launched the second edition of its Animal Welfare Guidelines with new unacceptable practices such as contact or feeding of elephants without a barrier. The findings also show an increased reliance on technology. The number of families booking online has increased in the past year and, while doing so, they are the most likely holidaymakers to use the chat/messenger service, more than double the average figure (24 per cent versus 11 per cent average). ABTA.com

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ABTA membership valued by managers New research shows the importance of ABTA to larger companies and key decision makers By ABTA Magazine staff New research, released ahead of the Business Travel Show (February 26–27), finds over four in five managers say that membership of ABTA is very important or important when they select a travel management company (TMC) for their business travel needs. According to the research, managers at companies with an annual turnover of £50–99.99 million especially value ABTA

membership, with over nine in ten stating that membership was very important or important when selecting a TMC. Managers at even larger companies also particularly value ABTA membership, with 86 per cent of managers at a company with a turnover of £100–499 million and over £500 million saying it is very important. Using a TMC that is a member of ABTA is also important for directors (92 per cent) as well as business owners

(83 per cent). Booking business travel through an ABTA member allows corporate managers to book with confidence, knowing that their travel provider has passed ABTA’s financial fitness tests and that it follows ABTA’s Code of Conduct. ABTA offers expert advice and guidance to the travelling public and supports the travel industry in numerous areas. ABTA members have access to its operational crisis support and operational bulletins, which provide out-of-hours crisis support and keeps them informed of the latest global incidents that may have an impact on their businesses. ABTA members also benefit from a range of support services including free legal advice and guidance notes, and advice and support to help

plan for regulatory changes including Brexit. Victoria Bacon, director of brand and business development, said: “This latest research shows that the vast majority of managers regard ABTA membership as important or very important when choosing a TMC. ABTA membership is particularly valued by larger companies and senior decision makers. As well as the strong association with ABTA’s brand, TMCs and their clients benefit from a wide range of ABTA services and expertise, all available at no extra cost.” ABTA is the UK’s most trusted travel scheme – 38 of the 50 largest TMCs are members. ABTA members that count business travel as their principal business have a combined annual turnover of over £15 billion. ABTA.com

ABTA online The latest travel advice

The latest on visas, health requirements and destinations. See abta. com/tips-and-latest/ latest-travel-advice

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ABTA campaigns

The full list of ABTA’s campaigns, which raise awareness of important travel issues. See abta. com/tips-and-latest/abtacampaigns

March 2020 25


ABTA Advice

Ask the expert Do you have a burning question you can’t find the answer to? Be it travel trends, a regulatory riddle or destination dilemmas, send us your query for an expert response

What if we breach the Code of Conduct? I have recently joined ABTA and I am trying to ensure all my staff are aware of the Code of Conduct and its requirements. Could you explain what are the potential penalties if we breach the code in some way? Anon

Firstly, welcome to ABTA! The ABTA Code of Conduct may seem on first viewing to be a little daunting, but I would encourage all members to see the code, and the guidance on the code, as very useful tools that will help you and your staff in your day-to-day business. We don’t see the code simply through the lens of its regulatory function, though this is very important, but also as a way to help members navigate safely through the often complex laws that govern the travel industry. It can be surprisingly easy to unwittingly break a law with potentially very serious implications for your business. The code covers many areas including, among others, passport, visa and health information; terms and conditions; significant changes to a booking; building works; and dealing with complaints. This isn’t a comprehensive list, it’s just to give you a taste of some of the areas covered. An example of how the code can help you is in relation to visa information, where it requires you to advise customers of the need for a visa and offer assistance in obtaining such information. If your company were to fail to inform customers of any relevant visa requirement and they were subsequently unable to use their travel arrangements, they would be entitled to pursue you for the cost of their holiday, plus compensation. In answer to your question about penalties, when we see a member who has breached the code, depending of course on the nature and seriousness of the breach, we will try and work with them to address the problem to ensure that it does not happen again. This is better for the member, but going forward, as importantly, better for their customers as they will receive the best possible service. However, there are also a range of penalties, some of which may be decided by the Code of Conduct Committee made up of ABTA members, Trading Standards and the CAA. These penalties range from a reprimand to an undertaking, to ensure that there is no repetition of the breach. Possibilities include fixed penalty fines, for offences such as failure to respond to correspondence in good time, or, for more serious offences, fines, the level of which will be set by the Code of Conduct Committee, and in the most serious cases, termination of membership. This last sanction is one that we have only had to use very rarely, ABTA members tend to be a reputable bunch!

ABTA event Advanced Complaints Management June 30, London

Diana Missoni, Code of Conduct manager

Got a question? Email: info@ABTAmag.com 26 March 2020

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ABTA comment

Reflecting on 70 years of ABTA T

his year – in June to be precise – ABTA will be celebrating its 70th anniversary. For me personally, it’s also a significant year as after nine years’ service, I will be leaving the Association. When it was first established all those years ago, ABTA’s purpose, as defined by ABTA’s first chairman James Maxwell, was to act as a “hallmark” for all that is good in travel. Today, its range of work is certainly broader, but ABTA’s role in providing a badge of assurance and setting high standards in the industry is essentially the same as it was in 1950. About seven years ago, we conducted consumer and member research to better understand what people really thought about the ABTA brand – was it a financial protection badge? Or a badge of standards? Or something else? The research showed clearly that more than anything else, people felt warmly towards ABTA as a badge of reassurance, because of our range of work, including crisis management, and the Code of Conduct. As a result, we rebranded the Association with the tagline “Travel with Confidence” as a more confident and clear assertion of ABTA’s role at the heart of the industry, providing confidence to the travelling public, as well as to our members. Since launching the new brand positioning, we have also run annual Travel with Confidence advertising campaigns to support members during what is traditionally the peak booking season for holidays (late December to February). We have also targeted business communities with a similar message as research shows us that the ABTA badge is as important for buyers of business travel as it is for holidaymakers.

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But it isn’t just the badge itself which is important in communicating trust and confidence – it is also ABTA event what stands behind that badge. We live in an age of The Travel Marketing Conference intense media and social May 5–6, London media scrutiny among both members and the public – much different to how it was 70 years ago – so we need to be sure that the work we do at ABTA can stand the test of that scrutiny, day in day out, week after week. Whether that is providing timely and accurate information in the event of a travel crisis, or the latest guidance on package travel regulations or animal welfare in tourism standards, the Association’s work is vital to helping our members continue to uphold the best standards. This work in turn helps people to have confidence in the travel industry and our members. And I’m pleased to say that 70 years after the Association was established, the ABTA brand is in rude health. Last year’s independent consumer research shows that ABTA is not only the UK’s best-known travel association, but also the most trusted, with 78 per cent of people saying they feel more confident booking with an ABTA member. ABTA’s brand awareness of 82 per cent is the highest level it’s been since we first measured it independently in 2010. So it seems clear that ABTA’s role as a trusted travel association is as important in 2020 as it was in 1950 – and will continue to be so.

Victoria Bacon

Director of brand and business development, ABTA

March 2020 27


ABTA Campaigns

ABTA campaigns Advice issued for young skiers Sticking with friends and preventing falls is among the advice for young travellers heading to winter festivals

By ABTA Magazine staff ABTA, the British travel association, has issued a warning to young travellers planning on attending a winter festival this year. The association has teamed up with the Foreign & Commonwealth Office to issue the guidance to 18–24-year-olds, after ABTA research found that this demographic is the most likely to travel with friends. The new advice covers different areas, including the importance of preventing slips, trips and falls and looking out for friends in a group. The campaign will run via social media and through ABTA’s website on a Winter Sports safety page. Susan Deer, ABTA’s director of industry relations, said: “Most winter music festivals take place between February and April on the slopes of France, Austria and Switzerland, with popular bands attracting

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a young audience. Whilst some may be seasoned festivalgoers, for others this could be the first time they travel with friends, and it is important to remind them of simple actions that will make their time safer.” ABTA’s campaign aligns with the FCO’s Stick With Your Mates campaign. Jennifer Anderson, director of consular services, added: “The winter travel season provides an opportunity to enjoy the sounds, the sights and the slopes in a range of exciting destinations. Most British people venturing to mountain resorts have a great time. But each year we are asked to provide support to people who have got into difficulty either through accident or injury or financially. Simple actions like sticking with your friends when skiing, out socialising or at festivals, making sure you have winter sports insurance, and reading our Ski-Safe guide ahead of your trip, can make all the difference when it comes to avoiding trouble.” ABTA.com

ABTA celebrates 70 years in 2020 ABTA is marking its 70th anniversary this year with a range of activities to celebrate and thank members and other stakeholders for their contribution to the Association. The anniversary will be marked by a new commemorative logo. The first meeting of ABTA, then known as the Association of British Travel Agents, took place in June 1950. Over the past 70 years ABTA has evolved to meet member needs and build confidence at the heart of travel. Events include “ABTA at 70” Spring Regional Business meetings and a reception after the Travel Matters conference in June. A specially designed anniversary logo features the trademark ABTA globe as well as ABTA’s “Travel with Confidence” message. It will be used in ABTA branding and press materials and members will receive special 70th anniversary customerfacing materials to use as part of the subscriptions renewal process in July. Mark Tanzer, ABTA chief executive said: “Over the past 70 years our members have built a great industry which has influenced the lives of millions of people – both in the UK and overseas. Tastes have continually evolved, and many travel businesses have successfully adapted to the changing demands of holidaymakers and business travellers. Now, perhaps more than ever, trust and confidence are crucial to the continued success of the travel industry. That is one of the reasons ABTA continues to play such an important role: representing and supporting our members and building confidence in travel and tourism. “We look forward to celebrating this major milestone and thanking our members and other stakeholders for their contribution to the Association’s continuing relevance and value.”

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Events March 17, London PR in Travel Conference Bringing together senior travel PR, marketing and communication professionals from brands and agencies, this must-attend conference provides a complete update on the PR issues facing companies in the travel industry.

ABTA conferences and events deliver practical training for the travel industry and help keep you and your staff up to date on the most important, business-critical issues, with a focus on practical learning. Visit ABTA.com/abtaevents to learn more about our upcoming events and register your place

April 2, Manchester

May 5–6, London

May 14, London

Selling Holidays under the Package Travel and ATOL Regulations Understand the scope of the regulations and how they apply to your business. Ensure you’re providing correct information and benchmark your compliance.

The Travel Marketing Conference Based around a theme of “Cutting Through the Noise” the two-day conference will look at how you can ensure your travel brand stands out. Take away insights in order to inform future marketing and management strategies.

Delivering Customer Service Excellence This seminar gives practical guidance on how to offer the best customer experience across all channels. It will look at ways to improve customer service strategy, empower your workforce and improve communication.

May 20–21, London

June 4, London

June 17, London

The Travel Law Seminar The industry’s key legal conference offers an update on all areas of law affecting travel businesses and covers key topics including priorities in the next phase of Brexit. Gain a full understanding of changes you may need to implement.

Youth Travel Conference This new conference is designed to help you understand the different youth demographics and unique motivations of young travellers. Sessions include a close look at the psyche of Gen Z and millennials and key product trends.

Sustainable Travel Conference This one-day conference provides insight and advice on key areas, including, but not limited to, waste management, sustainable cruising, carbon offsetting, working with stakeholders and human rights issues.

ABTAmag.com

March 2020 29


Business travel Airport New business loungesclass seats

Lounge around

Business Travel Report

Investment in airport lounges is taking off, from high-end freebies to carefully curated experiences and thoughtful design

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rom a la carte dining and vintage champagne to oxygen bars and massages, lounges the world over are investing in ever-more impressive offerings to win customers. Take Qantas, which two years ago installed “anti-jet-lag showers” in its transit lounge in Perth, and British Airways, which put AIpowered, Barsys cocktail-making machines in its lounges at New York Newark and San Francisco International airports in January 2020. The units can mix a total of 30 different drinks on demand, dispensing them into glassware in under 45 seconds. As part of a wider multi-millionpound investment, the flag carrier will be revamping its Club lounge at Chicago O’Hare this spring, along with lounges at London Heathrow T5, Edinburgh and Berlin Tegel. It has not yet been revealed to what extent they will be changed, but if the airline’s new facility in JFK Terminal 7, which opened in 2019, is anything to go by, they will certainly be elevated. The airline’s flagship US lounge has an Elemis spa, a brasserie-style dining room and a granite-topped Quaich bar, created

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in partnership with the Quaich bar at the Craigellachie Hotel in Speyside, Scotland. It’s even got a BrewDog craft beer room that serves its own Speedbird 100 IPA. In November 2019, BA reopened its new-look business class lounge in Geneva, which has a Scandi feel with grey wool upholstery, white marble and lots of wood. The quest to design the perfect business class lounge is well under way, but what are the essentials? Free wifi, of course, ergonomic workspaces with lots of charging points, and good quality food and drink at no extra cost. However, nowadays, frequent flyers expect a lot more. Excellent interior design being one of them (beige and brown is frowned upon). Virgin Atlantic has done a great job of standing out from the crowd with its vibrant Clubhouses found in ten locations around the world – and this spring will be adding one to Manchester airport. Meanwhile, Finnair’s renovated non-Schengen business class lounge at Helsinki “centres on Nordicness, simplicity, clean lines, natural materials and texture to provide a warmer and more ‘human’

by Jenny Southan, business travel editor

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experience”. Completed at the end of last year, it has showers that can be booked via a touchscreen reservation system, Eero Aarnio’s ball chairs, soundproof phone booths and an open kitchen serving plenty of vegetarian options. David Kondo, Finnair’s head of customer experience product design, says: “Throughout the design process, we spent a lot of time [trying to] really understand how our customers use our lounges and what their needs are. This in turn informed the design of the spaces and services. The result is a lounge that offers a variety of different zones and seating styles, providing our customers with different options on how they want to spend their time.” Also unveiled at the end of 2019 was Air New Zealand’s refurbished domestic lounge at Wellington airport. It has a space-age look and feel with polished white surfaces, long communal tables and hotpink chairs. At the same time, the SkyTeam airline alliance introduced a dazzling new space for business class passengers at the new Istanbul airport, featuring living moss walls, custom-made furniture in shades of green, LED lighting displays and live cooking stations. SkyTeam CEO Kristin Colvile says: “SkyTeam is hyper-focused on creating the best-in-class customer experience of

ABTA event Business Travel Risk Management: Innovation and Solutions April 22, London

The headlines Virgin Atlantic, Delta, Air France and KLM launch transatlantic joint venture A new transatlantic joint venture has been signed between four airlines – Virgin Atlantic, Delta, Air France and KLM. It covers as many as 341 peak daily transatlantic services on 110 non-stop routes, allowing for codesharing, more convenient schedules and reciprocal frequent-flyer scheme benefits. The deal brings together the airlines following existing tie-ups between Air France, KLM and Delta, and Delta and Virgin Atlantic, in which the former has a 49 per cent stake.

Hyatt plans to open almost 200 hotels in the Americas by 2022

Over the next two years, Hyatt has announced it is planning to open almost 200 new properties across the US, Canada and Mexico, an increase of 33 per cent on its current 585 hotels across the regions. Forthcoming projects include the Thompson Dallas (autumn 2020) and the Andaz Toronto and Park Hyatt Mexico City, both in 2021.

Norwegian creates fare with no overhead baggage allowance

Norwegian has unveiled a new ticket type called “LowFare”, which means passengers will only be entitled to take one under-seat bag weighing up to 10kg in the cabin. Suitcases and larger items that would otherwise be stowed in overhead lockers will not be included in the price. Travellers buying Flex, Premium and Premium Flex fares will be able to take two pieces of cabin luggage up to a combined weight of 15kg on board.

Istanbul airport installs sleep cabins for jet-lagged passengers

The new Istanbul airport, which opened in April 2019, has installed 25 “IGA Sleepods” in the terminal, giving weary flyers the chance to catch up on some rest. The compact cabins can be rented for €6 an hour between 7am and 7pm, and for €9 an hour between 7pm and 7am. Disposable sheets and pillows are included.

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March 2020 31


New business loungesclass seats Business travel Airport

any alliance, and our branded lounges are key to achieving this goal. This striking new lounge is an important component of delivering a seamless experience at every step of our customers’ journeys.” SkyTeam is opening its eighth branded lounge in Santiago de Chile in early 2020. At the end of March, Japanese airline ANA will be opening a third lounge at Tokyo Narita – it will have Kengo Kumadesigned interiors and a ramen noodle bar. At the beginning of the year, Air France unveiled a new facility at Paris Orly’s Terminal 3. In addition to dedicated bars for champagne and wine, there is a rum trolley with spirits from onward destinations including Martinique and

Guadeloupe, plus co-working zones with wireless charging points. What’s interesting is that access will also be available to premium economy and economy passengers – providing they pay a fee. As well as greatly improved public restaurants in airports, the rise in pay-per-use independent lounges from companies such as Club Aspire, Plaza Premium and No 1 Lounges has motivated airlines to up their game. For example, by summer 2020, a new Swissportoperated Aspire lounge in Perth airport will open in the former Control Centre and Terminal 1 Observation Deck, while Plaza Premium launched a space in Dubai International’s Terminal 3, complete with

cigar room, nap pods and ten private suites with butler service. In the second quarter of 2020, it will also be opening a “mega lounge” at Toronto Pearson International airport. Song Hoi-see, CEO of Plaza Premium Group, says: “In addition to opening in 15 new locations by the end of 2020 as part of our US$50 million investment, we continue to strengthen our leading position in the existing markets by creating a holistic departure, transit and arrival experience.” This means business travellers won’t even have to fly business to use the spaces, let alone stick to a single preferred airline. Winning loyalty is harder than ever, but the competition is great for consumers.

RISE OF THE ROBOTS The travel industry is seeing a shift towards employing robotic helpers, powered by artificial intelligence, to assist customers. In February 2020, British Airways put two self-driving droids to work in London Heathrow’s Terminal 5 – they can understand questions in multiple languages and even have geolocation technology built in so they can personally escort people to where they need to go. Istanbul airport has also introduced robo assistants, albeit with more humanoid features. In summer 2020, the car park at Lyon-Saint Exupéry airport will be entirely managed by robot valets with trolleys that physically lift vehicles and place them in parking spaces. Gatwick Airport has been testing similar technology. Last year, Dallas Fort Worth International Airport recruited a team of tireless autonomous baggage handlers that could transport as many as 450 suitcases each, from bag-drop to belt, per hour. And then there is the new nhow hotel in London (part of NH Hotel Group), which has followed the example of the M Social and Aloft hotels by introducing a robotic butler that can deliver bottles of water, towels and the like to guestrooms. Whether or not it improves the customer experience for time-pressed corporates remains to be seen.

32 March 2020

ABTAmag.com ABTAmag.com


COMING SOON

2020 ABTA

COUNTRY GUIDES The ABTA Country Guides are published once a year in five editions: ABTA Member Services; UK & Europe; Middle East & Africa; Asia & Australasia; and The Americas & The Caribbean. Containing vital information about destinations across the globe, such as geography, currency, weather, tourist office contact information, foreign office advice and more, the guides are an essential tool for travel agents.

TRALASIA ASIA & AUS

IDES OUNTRY GU lume 4: C A T B A 9 1 Vo 0 – 2 Volume 4 untry Guide 2018 Country By Co

STRAL ASIA

ALASIA IA & AUSTR

ASIA & AAUS

Y Y BY COUNTR ABTA COUNTR

Distributed to travel agencies across the country, the guides are intended to be kept on shelves, shared among staff, and referred to regularly, helping agents learn more about destinations and sell more holidays. The comprehensive guides are unique in publishing and now available online.

2018

See countryguides.ABTAmag.com for more


Promotion

New horizons Texas is the sum of all its parts – a convergence of cosmopolitan cities and arts centres, impressive parks and cowboy ranches, BBQ and live music Expecting Texas to be a dry, arid desert landscape full of cowboys? Think again. While Texas does offer stunning desert scenery and plenty of cowboys, there’s much more to discover and experience when you set foot in the Lone Star State. The geography of Texas makes it ideal for a multi-centre trip, allowing visitors to really get to know the place – from big city to small town, beaches to canyons. Most people have heard of Dallas, but few know it well – and this city certainly subverts expectations. A cultural and commercial hub, Dallas is stylish and cosmopolitan. Enjoy lunch or dinner at Trinity Groves, a food mecca full of pop-up restaurants, before taking in the skyline views across the river from the adjacent Ronald Kirk Bridge, which promises a bustling atmosphere on warm evenings with families and couples

34 March 2020

sampling from the food trucks. Enjoy a fun night out in hip Deep Ellum, the former warehouse district now known for its nightlife, live music and laidback style. Then there’s the Dallas Arts District, which boasts more than 20 blocks of award-winning museums and galleries. Any visit to Dallas is incomplete without a visit to the Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza, which details the historic JFK story overlooking the grassy knoll. Fort Worth is situated a 30-minute drive from Dallas and is the home of the Historic Stockyards area with its twice-daily herding of Longhorn cattle through the streets, the rodeo Friday and Saturday nights, and the must-do Billy Bob’s Honky Tonk – pull on your cowboy boots and go for it! Downtown Fort Worth and the Sundance Square area is full of shops, restaurants and entertainment venues. Follow the Fort

Worth Ale Trail, visit the JFK tribute and seek out the historical marker plaques around the city that give insight into the rich history of the area. State Capitol Austin is music central, populated by more than 250 music venues. Every taste is catered to, from jazz to country and western, right through to EDM and house. It’s a vibrant city that plays host to a plethora of music festivals throughout the year, as well as sporting events including the Formula 1 Grand Prix. Foodies are spoilt for choice, with everything from food trucks to charming locally owned eateries downtown. Colourful San Antonio is home to The Alamo and the San Antonio Missions, a Unesco World Heritage site comprising five mission sites, a historic ranch and connected properties. The city has a rich colonial heritage and its downtown area is pleasantly walkable. Take a stroll and

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discover great architecture, good vibes and the magnetic Riverwalk area, where friends gather on the pretty riverside pathway to enjoy the selection of indoor and outdoor dining venues. The hotels here make a good base, or simply spend an evening wandering between the shops that line the waterway. It’s a great place to while away some time, day or night. A short walk away from the Riverwalk and you’ll come across “San Antonio The Saga”, a light projection detailing the story of San Antonio on the San Fernando Cathedral. If you’ve got room, follow it up with food at Mi Terra. Open 24 hours a day, this landmark restaurant is an essential pit stop for tasty Tex-Mex delights. Just 45 minutes’ drive from San Antonio is Bandera, the ranching capital of Texas. This quaint cowboy town has more than 20 ranches where visitors can live like a real cowboy – either for the day or longer stays. Houston is home to NASA’s Johnson Space Center, a great day out for visitors young and old. Beyond space heritage, explore the city’s world-class culinary scene, arts and museum districts, shopping hubs and nightlife. Take a bike tour of the city and stop at Buffalo Bayou Park to soak up the greenery of this sprawling city sanctuary. When you need to refuel, stop at the chandelier-adorned Kitchen at The Dunlavy for a coffee and

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pastry or delicious brunch. If being a spectator is more your thing, grab tickets to a sports game or enjoy a show at one of Houston’s many theatres. For beachlovers, the Texas coast is just 45 minutes away by car. Speaking of the coast, Texas boasts 600 miles of coastline right on Houston’s doorstep – from Kemah with its fun boardwalk and theme rides, and the cruise port of Galveston with its family attractions, to the picturesque Port Aransas and Mustang Island farther down the coast. Relax on white-sand beaches, spot pods of dolphins and migratory birds, or head for the glistening waters of South Padre Island at the very tip of Texas. Elsewhere, the geographic region of Texan Hill Country has lush landscape full of wild flowers. These rolling hills are home to Texas Wine Country and stunning Hill Country towns such as New Braunfels, where you’ll find the oldest dance hall in Texas and river surroundings, the Schlitterbahn Waterpark and river tubing spots; and Fredericksburg, with its main street packed with independent stores and eateries, an urban walkable wine trail downtown, and stunning vineyards and wineries nearby, plus Enchanted Rock State Park for stargazing and hiking, biking and outdoor adventures. The region is rounded off by quirky Luckenbach with its population of three, cowboy hat store, post office, gift shop and

Pictured

Above left: Big Bend National Park; Above: the Firehouse Saloon in Houston

bar, and legendary picker circle of local musicians at 5pm daily (unless a main concert is taking place for you to enjoy). Those wanting to explore further have plenty of options – five hours from Fort Worth is Lubbock, the birthplace of Buddy Holly and replete with great live music and food. From here, you’re within easy reach of Palo Duro Canyon State Park, home to the second-largest canyon in the US (after the Grand Canyon), and Cap Rock Canyon State Park with its wandering herd of wild bison. A couple of hours north of Lubbock is the way to Amarillo – route 66, offering some great points of interest. Out in West Texas you will find Big Bend National Park, truly the great outdoors with rustic lodgings, outdoor activities, magnificent scenery, wildlife and stargazing. Head to Marfa, a popular arts destination, to see the Instagrammable Prada installation and view the eerie and unexplained Marfa Lights at dusk. So, with all of this, where will you start? See traveltexas.com

March 2020 35


Spotlight on EasyJet Title Holidays

Spotlight on

EasyJet Holidays Now fully in-house, EasyJet Holidays aims to be as successful as the airline. Sam Ballard learns from its CEO what role the trade may play

E

asyJet was only founded in 1995 but now has a fleet of more than 300 aircraft, serving more than 1,000 routes. That’s 100 million seats every year across a network that goes as far east as Jordan and as far north as Rovaniemi in Finland. But while 20 million people fly with EasyJet to Europe each year, only 500,000 book accommodation through it. To EasyJet executives, the opportunity was clear – and was not being fulfilled by the outsourced EasyJet Holidays. Now, EasyJet Holidays has been brought back in-house with a slick new website and a massive TV advertising campaign. “Our goal is to make EasyJet as famous for holidays as it is for flights,” says Garry Wilson, CEO of EasyJet Holidays. That may sound lofty, but with the technology that’s behind the website it’s now a very real possibility. The company’s ethos is rooted in three key themes, Wilson says. “The first is flexibility, the fact that we fly many, many times a day to many destinations.

36 March 2020

The second is the hand-picked nature of our hotels – and the quality of the properties we’ve chosen – you wouldn’t expect from an airline. It’s clear that our people really know holidays. And the third is the value that EasyJet is famous for.” Put those components together and EasyJet has a very interesting proposition. Although only a few weeks into launch, booking patterns are already becoming clear. More than 50 per cent of customers are buying outside of the traditional seven- or 14-night durations and 75 per cent are booking either fouror five-star hotels. People turn to EasyJet for good value, not because it’s cheap. “You can book a holiday with us that’s one night, two nights, three nights – any combination you want. We might fly five times a day to that destination. So you can go early in the morning, or at lunchtime, or late at night. “What we’re really keen to do is hammer through that idea of flexibility. And, importantly, you won’t be punished

on price if you want to go outside the traditional seven nights,” says Wilson. However, EasyJet Holidays did exist prior to this new incarnation. The difference between the company then and now? According to Wilson, pretty much everything. “The only thing that has stayed the same is the name and the fact that it’s from EasyJet,” he says. “We now have a proposition that has effectively evolved from the old organisation.” That evolution is rooted in a website designed to optimise user experience. There are more than 700 hotels featured on the website, hand-picked by the team, with TripAdvisor ratings pulled through for each. And with EasyJet.com one of the most visited travel URLs in the world, it’s all ultra accessible. “The old business, in line with a lot of other OTAs, effectively took the flight, took the accommodation and added them together. Everything else you paid for. We’ve got rid of that. The transfer is included. We’re including 23kg of

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“The only thing that has stayed the same is the name” luggage free for every customer plus 10kg per cabin bag. That’s phenomenal. That’s 33kg per person free. No one else offers anything like that.” That flexibility and level of inclusions has led Wilson to believe that he can capitalise on a currently untapped area: city breaks. “Our research shows that 62 per cent of customers would be open to buying a city break from us. That means they don’t have to shop around to find the elements and put them all together.

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“Beach breaks will always be the larger part, but when you look at our network, at the range, the destinations that we go to, we can stand up a really legitimate city offering. And actually I am really hopeful that in the coming years we can become famous for being the company you go to if you want a city break.” Regardless of where EasyJet Holidays goes – Wilson is open to the idea of ski or cruise being sold on the website if customers demand it – one question that has been on everyone’s lips since the relaunch was announced a few months ago is whether EasyJet Holidays will work with the trade. Again, while Wilson isn’t ready to commit to selling through third parties at the time of writing, it’s clear that he is open to the idea, as long as it’s right for all parties. “We just want to make sure we’ve absolutely got it right because obviously with a brand of our size and scale, when we go out, we don’t want to be tweaking as we are live. We want to make sure we’ve got it right from the beginning. But certainly, I think there’s

a place for us on a high street. Most definitely,” he says. It’s the same reason why the company joined ABTA. Wilson has spent much of his career to date working at Tui – as have many of the EasyJet Holidays team; they are industry people and know the value that the 70-year-old travel body has. “ABTA is one of the biggest and most trusted travel brands in the UK. And I think that given that we want to launch a large and significant travel company within the UK, it would be odd if we didn’t want to be part of ABTA given the resource that it can give us access to, given the great knowledge that ABTA has, given the ability to correspond and communicate as an industry and debate industry topics, and also for us to be able to play a part in shaping how the industry will evolve and how it will develop. ABTA can really help us as we’re starting on that journey, but I’d like to think that a brand such as EasyJet could really help ABTA as well in terms of challenging some of the ways that it would think to approach things,” Wilson says. “I think it will be a relationship that will be equally beneficial for both.”

March 2020 37


UK holidays Dundee

UK holidays

Dundee

The renaissance of this Scottish hub has seen it become a destination for culture unique for its generous Dundee welcome, writes Joe Crewther

D

undee knows a thing or two about exciting firsts. Most recently made the UK’s first Unesco-recognised City of Design, it was here that Robert Falcon Scott and Ernest Shackleton set forth on their first expedition to Antarctica. It was also here that the first escapades of Dennis the Menace and Desperate Dan were published, by proud Dundee comic book publishers DC Thomson. Tucked away on Scotland’s eastern central Lowlands, this once industrial city’s rebirth as a hub for culture, paired with its unparalleled access to areas of natural beauty, makes it one of Scotland’s unsung heroes. There’s no better place to anchor a trip to Dundee than its waterfront. The eightkilometre stretch along the banks of the River Tay has been the focus of a £1 billion regeneration project seeking to connect Dundee’s city centre to its maritime roots. It’s now home to the first and only V&A outside of London – a stunning centre dedicated to the best in Scottish and

38 March 2020

international design. The unique building, constructed in 2015, is the pinnacle of Dundee’s renaissance, providing a dynamic focal point for celebrating the city’s creative past while inspiring its future. And if the glittering future doesn’t float your boat, Dundee’s waterfront is also home to the HMS Unicorn, the oldest British-built ship still on the water. After a morning perusing the V&A, hop across to Broughty Ferry, an old fishing village just four miles east of the city centre. Here you’ll find the best of Scotland’s rural past and its striking natural beauty. The village itself is full of pubs, cafés and independent shops, but to enjoy the area at its best start at the imposing Broughty Castle. The 15thcentury landmark now houses localhistory exhibits, as well as information on the area’s wildlife and geology. From there, take a long, leisurely stroll along the coast, enjoying the soft sand and bracing waves. Never let it be said that the Scots don’t do beach holidays!

Naturally, one of the best ways to enjoy Dundee is to head out of an evening with an empty stomach. If you end up staying in Broughty Ferry for dinner you’ll be spoilt for choice, but if you fancy a treat, try The Tayberry. Set up to raise Tayside’s culinary profile, the restaurant champions the best of what Scotland has to offer the dinner table, with a decidedly contemporary feel. It’s fresh Scottish food best enjoyed with the seaside sun pouring in through the windows. If you fancy a nightcap – or two – by the time you get back to the centre, head for The Phoenix. A favourite pub of locals, you can guarantee a generous Dundee atmosphere with your pint. Dundee’s journey from the city of “jute, jam and journalism” – to give it its 19thcentury nickname – to GQ’s “coolest little city in Britain” has placed at its heart a rare blend of both Scotland’s history and its intrepid, entrepreneurial spirit. And all in a city compact enough to enjoy on foot. Your first trip to Dundee is unlikely to be your last. ABTAmag.com

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Where to stay Budget

Sleeperz Sleeperz’s biggest selling point is its location: right on top of the train station. Don’t worry, you won’t be kept up by the 23:40 from Aberdeen. Instead you’ll find a clean, reliable hotel within striking distance of the city centre and many of Dundee’s main attractions.

Mid-range

Hotel Indigo Dundee You can’t get more Dundee than sleeping in an old jute mill. Now, thanks to Hotel Indigo, you can do exactly that. While the outside of the building retains its bell tower and other trappings from its past, inside it’s a sleek, chic spot for a couple of night’s sleep.

High-end

Taypark House The elegant Taypark House – a former mansion and listed building – sits in Dundee’s affluent West End. The only thing more jaw-dropping than the building itself is the views surrounding it. Expect to open your curtains to panoramas of Dundee’s Botanical Gardens, the River Tay and the hills of Fife.

The McManus Art Gallery & Museum While headlines in Dundee might be dominated by the new V&A, the impressive Gothic-looking McManus Art Gallery & Museum shouldn’t be overlooked. Situated in the city centre, the grand building is the best place to get the full picture on Dundee’s past. Alongside touring exhibitions, the museum’s permanent collection tells a vivid story of an industrious Scottish city; from artefacts of the once thriving jute trade (a natural fibre similar to cotton) to remnants of the whaling industry, which was a major part of the area’s economy in the 18th century. Elsewhere the museum’s art collection includes

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a remarkable group of Scottish paintings, showcasing Dundee’s importance as a historic centre for teaching art. More recently, examples of contemporary Scottish photography have been added to the collection. The McManus celebrated its 150th anniversary in 2017, yet it feels more relevant to the city than ever, as evidenced by last year’s record-breaking Beano exhibition. Which reminds us: once you’re finished there, don’t forget to walk three minutes around the corner for your obligatory selfie with Dundee’s prodigal son – an eight-foot tall bronze statue of Desperate Dan.

March 2020 39


FIRST LOOK

Travelodge to open 20 new London hotels

NEWS

UK tourism minister appointed By ABTA Magazine staff

By ABTA Magazine staff Travelodge is set to open 20 new hotels in London by 2025 as it seeks to fill a gap in the capital’s budget hotel sector – currently only amounting to 23 per cent of the city’s hotel market. The chain already operates 77 properties in London and is looking at 100 potential locations for the new-builds in 29 of London’s 32 boroughs. They will be funded by third-party investment of £350 million and offer more than 500 new jobs.

Travelodge’s UK development director Tony O’Brien said: “As we look to the future, London is a world-class destination for leisure and business travellers. However, there still remains a desperate need for more good-quality, low-cost accommodation, especially across the boroughs. “With the average hotel price currently at almost twice the level of the UK regions, consumers are crying out for good-quality, low-cost places to stay throughout the capital.” ABTAmag.com

Amid a cabinet reshuffle, Boris Johnson’s government has appointed its new tourism minister. Mid Worcestershire MP Nigel Huddleston has taken over the role from Helen Whately. Before 2015 when he was first elected, Huddleston worked at Deloitte in the travel, hospitality and leisure departments and at Google as industry head of travel. He was appointed as parliamentary under secretary of state at the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport on February 14 and confirmed as minister for tourism and heritage on February 17. He will serve under a new secretary of state at the department after Oliver Dowden replaced Baroness Nicky Morgan. Huddleston said: “I’m delighted to have been appointed a minister. “I’ve been involved in DCMS-related matters since I was first elected and also in my work before entering Parliament, so I have had a long-term interest in this vital government department.” UKinbound chief executive Joss Croft said: “UKinbound warmly welcomes and congratulates the new secretary of state for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Oliver Dowden MP and Nigel Huddleston MP as the new tourism minister.” ABTAmag.com

British Airways to launch Newquay route By ABTA Magazine staff British Airways launching a route from Heathrow to Newquay this summer, which will now be the only direct route there from Heathrow. The announcement comes less than four weeks after regional airline, Flybe, revealed it was ending its flagship link from Newquay to Heathrow airport. British Airways has also recently added summer 2020 routes to Greece, Italy, Kosovo, Montenegro and Turkey.

40 March 2020

BA previously served Newquay from Gatwick, but cut the route after a year in 2008. The flight, which will take 70 minutes, will be available on Mondays, Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays from July 2 to September 7, 2020. Neil Chernoff, British Airways’ director of network and alliances, said: “We know that customers enjoy exploring the UK as much as they do going further afield, and Newquay has so much to offer, especially in the summer months.”

Richard Thomasson, interim airport director, Cornwall Airport Newquay, added: “We are delighted British Airways will be flying to Cornwall this summer and to be able to continue to offer this vital link between Cornwall and Heathrow. With such a major global carrier we will be able to offer our passengers onestop access to the world, while worldwide investors and tourists will benefit from an easier connection to our stunning county.” Return fares start from £90 in Euro Traveller. ABTAmag.com

ABTAmag.com


THEATRE LONDON

The Effect March 19–May 30 Connie and Tristan meet; symptoms develop. Racing hearts. Lost appetites. Erratic emotions. Is this the frenzy of falling in love, or the side effects of the new anti-depressant drug they’re testing? Award-winning writer Lucy Prebble puts modern medicine under the microscope in this clever plot that probes at the question of whether or not love is anything more than a chemical reaction. Her other plays include A Very Expensive Poison and ENRON. This production at Boulevard Theatre is directed by master surrealist Anthony Neilson.

UK TOUR

As You Like It Until April 4 This Royal Shakespeare Company production will be performed at Nottingham Theatre Royal, Newcastle Theatre Royal and Grand Theatre Blackpool. As You Like It subverts the traditional rules of romance. Gender roles, nature and politics are confused in a play that reflects on how bewildering yet utterly pleasurable life can be. David Ajao plays Orlando, while Rosalind is played by Lucy Phelps. “Lucy Phelps’s Rosalind is the show’s heart and focal point, and a genuinely modern heroine,” writes the Guardian.

UK TOUR

Educating Rita Until May 23 Educating Rita, which toured in 2019, returns to mark the play’s 40th anniversary. Starring Stephen Tompkinson and Jessica Johnson, the story sees married hairdresser Rita enrol on an Open University course to expand her horizons, bringing her together with university tutor Frank, a frustrated poet, academic and dedicated drinker. They soon realise how much they have to learn from each other. It is playing at Blackpool Grand Theatre from March 16 until March 21 before moving to Kingston, Crewe, Cardiff, Northampton and Edinburgh.

GLASGOW

Mrs Puntila and Her Man Matti March 25–April 11 This play by Bertolt Brecht, which satirises the injustices of capitalism, has been adapted by Scottish writer Denise Mina. The story follows Argyll landowner Mrs Puntila who, when she’s drunk, is a kindhearted boss who convinces everyone they can have a bright future under her wing. When she’s sober, she’s cruel and greedy. Behind the scenes, her shrewd chauffeur Matti irons out her drunken mishaps while pursuing a hopeless romance with her daughter Eva. Elaine C Smith brings her comedic genius to the role of Mrs Puntila.

DERBY

Crongton Knights Until March 21 Life isn’t easy on the Crongton Estate. For McKay and his mates it’s all about keeping their heads down. But when a friend finds herself in trouble, they set out on a mission that goes further than any of them imagined. Crongton Knights is about the friends you’ll never forget and how lessons learned the hard way can bring you closer together. This is the world première adaptation of Alex Wheatle’s award-winning novel at Derby Theatre, with a soundscape of beatboxing and vocals created by acclaimed musician Conrad Murray.

LONDON

Dear Evan Hansen Until May 30 The smash-hit Broadway musical Dear Evan Hansen, from the writers of La La Land and The Greatest Showman, transferred to London’s Noel Coward Theatre in November 2019. A letter that was never meant to be seen, a lie that was never meant to be told, a life he never dreamed he could have. Evan Hansen is about to get the one thing he’s always wanted: a chance to finally fit in. Both deeply personal and profoundly contemporary, Dear Evan Hansen is a new musical about life and the way we live it.

EXHIBITIONS

London and Edinburgh YAYOI KUSAMA

A year-long celebration of Yayoi Kusama’s work has begun at Tate Modern in London as part of its 20th anniversary celebrations. The first part of the exhibition celebrates the nine decades of Yayoi Kusama’s life, which have taken her from rural Japan to the New York art scene to contemporary Tokyo, in a career in which she has continuously innovated and reinvented her style, and will be on show until June 5. Infinity Rooms is set to open on May 11. Infinity Mirrored Room – Filled with the Brilliance of Life is one of Kusama’s largest installations to date and was made for her 2012 retrospective at Tate Modern.

ABTAmag.com

PAULA REGO: OBEDIENCE AND DEFIANCE

Having made its debut at Milton Keynes’ MK Gallery, Obedience and Defiance, curated by Catherine Lampert, is currently on show at the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art until April 19, before moving to Dublin in June. Paula Rego is one of the most important artists living in Britain today. Born in Lisbon in 1935, she’s celebrated for her intense and courageous paintings, drawings and prints. The exhibition spans more than 50 years of her career, from the 1960s to the 2010s, and is an exploration of moral challenges to humanity, such as political tyranny and gender discrimination.

Paula REGO (b. 1935)Angel, 1998Pastel on paper mounted on aluminium, 180 x 130 cm Collection_ Private collection © Paula Rego, courtesy of Marlborough, New York and London Photograph courtesy Museu Paula Rego_ Casa das Histórias Paula Rego

March 2020 41


1 edition. ÂŁ2.3m in revenue A single issue of Explore, a publication created for Advantage Travel Partnership by Waterfront, generated more than 600 bookings*. Find out about creating your own loyalty magazine by emailing info@waterfront-publishing.com


FEATURES | R O OM SERVICE MENU | SHORE EXCUR SIONS

ISSUE ONE

GLOBE

ISSUE FOUR

THE ONLY DESTINATION FOR THOSE SELLING CRUISES

Explore Issue One

December 2016

M A R C H 2018

BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY

FJORD FOCUS A JOURNEY TO WEST NORWAY

*Source: Travel Weekly, November 2017

Jeannine Williamson joins CroisiEurope in the heart of Prague, before exploring the lesser-known Elbe en route to Berlin PLUS 10 OF THE BEST WILDLIFE CRUISES EXCLUSIVE RITZ-CARLTON INTERVIEW CRUISE & MARITIME VOYAGES IN AMSTERDAM

BRILLIANT BANGKOK INFOCUS: INTREPID COACH VS CRUISE HOW TO SELL: SOLO TRAVEL

WHY THE THAI CAPITAL IS SO MUCH MORE THAN A BACKPACKER HAVEN

CRUISE & MORE HOLIDAYS OF A LIFETIME

ON THE HORIZON THE LATEST CRUISE NEWS

EMERALD WATERWAYS AN IN-DEPTH LOOK

WONDERFUL WORLD FOUR BUCKET-LIST STOPS


City Guide Pittsburgh

City Guide

Pittsburgh As London’s Tate Modern launches its major Andy Warhol retrospective, Karl Cushing visits the US city that shaped the artist and finds a city reborn

W

e like to say we’re the only US city with a front door,” jokes my Uber driver as we exit the Mt Washington tunnel and I first clap eyes on Pittsburgh’s skyline. As opening gambits go, it’s impressive, and the city continues to cast its spell throughout my week-long February trip, making use of British Airways’ recently launched service from Heathrow. Once the poster boy for US industrial might, and then gritty, post-industrial decline, Pennsylvania’s “Steel City” has blossomed into a cultural powerhouse and foodie hotspot, switching its focus to clean tech, robotics and sustainability while its monolithic industrial buildings now house microbreweries, galleries and start-ups. Locals are quick to remind me though that innovation and reinvention is in their blood. For Yinzers, as they’re known, have

44 March 2020

Where to stay Budget

gifted the world everything from Heinz foods and the Big Mac to the first movie theatre, not to mention the city’s favourite artistic son, Andy Warhol.

CULTURAL CAPERS

Pittsburgh’s pride in Warhol manifests in The Andy Warhol Museum. Set on the North Side, it’s a short stroll across the river from Downtown, across the Andy Warhol bridge, and I spend a fascinating morning with his nephew, Donald, as he regales me with insights and anecdotes about “Uncle Andy”. Continuing on to the nearby Mattress Factory gallery, known for its installation art, I pass the decidedly quirky Randyland (randy.land), outlier artist Randy having transformed his block and gardens into a technicolour, world-welcoming attraction. Having ticked off other notable Northside distractions such as the

TRYP Pittsburgh This recently opened, 108-room “art hotel” in Lawrenceville features a rooftop lounge and two notable restaurants. Rooms from $149. tryppittsburgh.com

Mid range

AC Hotel Pittsburgh Downtown Within walking distance of Downtown and the Strip district, this modern three-star Marriott has rooms from $289. marriott.com

High-end

Fairmont Pittsburgh An 185-room, five-star Downtown charmer offering effortless luxury at affordable prices. Splurge on a suite and its spa treatments. fairmont.com

ABTAmag.com


Pictured

Above: The city skyline rises above PNC Park; below: the Duquesne Incline atop Mt Washington; overleaf: Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater house; Pittsburgh street art

ABTAmag.com

Children’s Museum and Carnegie Science Centre, I backtrack to Downtown, passing the theatres and concert halls of the 14-block Cultural District, to visit the Heinz History Center. Here I’m served a digestible history of the city, from sports and steel to pickles – irreverently celebrated in July’s Picklesburgh festival. Plumping for an architectural tour with Bike the Burgh (biketheburgh. com), I’m soon whizzing along bike lanes and criss-crossing rivers with my

knowledgeable guide Paul as he narrates some of Pittsburgh’s grandest buildings and 446 bridges. I’m also introduced to Point State Park, where the Allegheny and Monongahela rivers converge into the Ohio, plied by all manner of kayak, stand-up paddleboards and boat tours come summer. It’s a photogenic spot but to snap it with justice I ascend nearby Mt Washington via the Duquesne Incline, one of Pittsburgh’s last remaining funiculars, descending on the nearby Monongahela Incline ($2.50 single ticket).

March 2020 45


City Guide Pittsburgh

FOOD, GLORIOUS FOOD

Pittsburgh gets a big tick for walkability. From Downtown it’s an easy stroll to the Strip District, the blue collar neighbourhood turned food capital whose history of immigration – not least Polish, German and Italian – colours its diners, delis, cafés and bakeries, a spread of which can be sampled with ’Burgh Bits and Bites ($43pp; burghfoodtour.com). Popular options include the original branch of Primanti Bros, known for its calorific sandwiches, though I’m more enamoured with the local delis and diners, not least DeLuca’s, with its massive, nononsense plates, and S&D Polish Deli, with its cheap and cheerful pierogi dumplings. Other gems include the restored Klavon’s Ice Cream Parlor and Enrico’s dreamy biscotti and cannoli, while more modern innovators include the delectable pop-ups of Smallman Galley. Venturing beyond the Strip I reach Lawrenceville. Just as with Downtown, this revitalised area, akin to Dalston in London, is unrecognisable from ten years ago (I’m told). Thronging with bars, restaurants and boutique businesses it makes a good place to grab a bite and amble around. Outlying areas angling to follow suit include Braddock, a nearby steel town on the turnaround, where I grab an Uber to the highly praised Superior Motors, an eclectic eatery where my finedining four-course dinner doesn’t disappoint (superiormotors15104.com).

FURTHER AFIELD

Pittsburgh has some great green spaces, not least Schenley Park. Hereabouts I spend a pleasant afternoon exploring the leafy university neighbourhood with Tracy Myers of Pittsburgh History and Landmarks Foundation, nosing around the Cathedral of Learning, ducking into the Phipps Conservatory and savouring the Carnegie Museum of Art. If you have the time, though, it really pays to explore the surrounding countryside. For those not tackling the 335-mile GAP trail the obvious options are Laurel Highlands, known for its Frank Lloyd Wright architecture, and Butler County. I opt for the latter, a mere 20-minute drive north of Pittsburgh, exploring Moraine State Park and cute, historic towns such as Saxonburg and Harmony, with their proud German heritage. It makes a great mini road trip add-on, and one day I even squeeze in a visit to Mars before breakfast. Now how often do you get to you say that? ABTAmag.com

46 March 2020

visitpittsburgh.com; visitbutlercounty.com ABTAmag.com


1 edition. £2.3m in revenue A single issue of Explore, a publication created for Advantage Travel Partnership by Waterfront, generated more than 600 bookings*. Find out about creating your own loyalty magazine by emailing info@waterfront-publishing.com.

FEATURES | R O OM SERVICE MENU | SHORE EXCUR SIONS

ISSUE ONE

GLOBE

ISSUE FOUR

THE ONLY DESTINATION FOR THOSE SELLING CRUISES

Explore Issue One

December 2016

M A R C H 2018

BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY

FJORD FOCUS A JOURNEY TO WEST NORWAY

*Source: Travel Weekly, November 2017

Jeannine Williamson joins CroisiEurope in the heart of Prague, before exploring the lesser-known Elbe en route to Berlin PLUS 10 OF THE BEST WILDLIFE CRUISES EXCLUSIVE RITZ-CARLTON INTERVIEW CRUISE & MARITIME VOYAGES IN AMSTERDAM

BRILLIANT BANGKOK INFOCUS: INTREPID COACH VS CRUISE HOW TO SELL: SOLO TRAVEL

WHY THE THAI CAPITAL IS SO MUCH MORE THAN A BACKPACKER HAVEN

CRUISE & MORE HOLIDAYS OF A LIFETIME

ON THE HORIZON THE LATEST CRUISE NEWS

EMERALD WATERWAYS AN IN-DEPTH LOOK

WONDERFUL WORLD FOUR BUCKET-LIST STOPS


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FOR MORE INFORMATION OR TO BOOK YOUR CLIENT’S WEDDING IN PARADISE CALL 0808 164 3459

VISIT WWW.SANDALS.CO.UK/AGENTS

@SellingSandalsforAgents

T&Cs: *Minimum stay: 3 nights. Marriage officiant and government documentation fees apply. ^Available at select resorts. Mandatory caddies or carts at cost. Further T&Cs apply.


OUR LUXURY INCLUDED® RESORTS Situated on seven of the Caribbean’s most romantic islands, Sandals Resorts offer the ideal destination to begin life as newlyweds. With 15 breath-taking resorts featuring luxurious world-class amenities, your client’s and their guests will indulge in the holiday of a lifetime, whilst they will be carefree to soak in every minute of this beautiful moment.

LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION Location is critical when it comes to setting the stage for a couple’s big day. So whether they’re looking to say “I do” on a palm-fringed white-sand beach below a romantic pergola, in a lushly landscaped garden beneath a domed gazebo, or in one of our Over-the-Water Serenity Wedding Chapels, we provide the most beautiful and natural backdrops in the Caribbean.

FREE WEDDING PACKAGE Who said the perfect wedding has to cost a fortune? At Sandals Resorts a wedding is even better than what you imagined… it can also be free!* The complimentary package includes an elegant bouquet and boutonniere featuring Dendrobium orchids in purple, a two-tier white cake and a decorative centrepiece for the top table.

CREATE THE WEDDING OF THEIR DREAMS Alternatively, they can use our Wedding Styler tool and let our inspirations inspire their imagination to create the wedding of their dreams – from storybook romance or breezy island chic to avant-garde or refined coastal luxury. Couples can mix and match our tasteful décor options to reflect their personal style.

THE FINER DETAILS When it comes to the finer details, we include a whole host of inclusions (regardless of if your clients choose our free wedding or customise their own). From seating and cocktails, to music and more, we give couples the perfect foundation to start creating the wedding of their dreams. We’ll also throw in a special turndown service on the first evening of their honeymoon (complete with flower petals on their bed!), as well as a decadent breakfast in bed on any morning of their choice.

THE PERFECT HOLIDAY FOR EVERYONE When your clients have their wedding at a resort where everything is included and unlimited, everyone gets to join in on the fun. While they’re getting some romantic alone time together, their guests can do it all – or nothing at all. Highlights include: •

5-Star Global Gourmet™ Dining Guests can dine around the world without leaving the resort, with up to 16 gourmet restaurants included.

Unlimited Land & Water Sports Included Whether guests seek adrenaline-pumping activities or more low-key pursuits, every conceivable activity is included in their stay. From Har-Tru tennis courts and championship golf courses^ to snorkelling and scuba diving!

COVERING TRAVEL IN 2020-2022

SANDALS’ BRAND-NEW, 180-PAGE LUXURY CARIBBEAN HOLIDAYS BROCHURE IS OUT NOW! New features include: • Updated imagery • Updated “Resort Highlights” • New wedding concept – Inspired by love, Created by you • A resort map for our newest property, Sandals Royal Barbados • A more in-depth overview of our “Stay At One, Play at all exchange programme Take a look through an e-Version of this brochure by visiting sellingsandals.co.uk


Features Antarctica

50 January 2020


“I do� at dream destinations With destination weddings and honeymoons offering agents two bountiful bites of the commission cherry, Karl Cushing checks out some of the latest options


Features Weddings & Honeymoons

B

ooking dream destination weddings may throw up some challenges, but there’s no shortage of upsides for agents who exercise their creative flair. Indeed, with the recent Wedding Tourism Insights report by researchandmarkets.com valuing the annual market for destination weddings at a whopping $16 billion, and rising, the commission opportunities speak for themselves – and that’s without factoring in honeymoons. Operators scrambling for a larger slice of the weddings cake range from Hard Rock Hotels, with its in-house WOW planners, to agency groups such as Pure Destinations whose recently launched Beach Weddings (beachweddings.co.uk) proposition complements its Honeymoon Dreams offering. While classic options such as Las Vegas weddings or Sri Lankan weddings coupled with honeymoons in the Maldives

52 March 2020

never go out of style, a rise in demand for experiential options is favouring more left-field options. Take Finland, where operators such as Best Served Scandinavia (best-served.co.uk) muster up fairytale honeymoon packages featuring romantic boltholes, from cosy log cabins and ice hotels to the Aurora Camp Safari in Swedish Lapland, backed by activities such as reindeer sleigh rides. Elegant Resorts’ recommendations range from Six Senses Yao Noi, Thailand, whose new room The View has been dubbed “the best couple’s suite in Asia”, to Mexico’s new One&Only Mandarina, opening in June, and the adults-only Green O, a healthful woodlands hideaway in Montana (thegreeno.com). “It’s not only perfect for couples and romance, it’s great for experiences, and is a true intimate retreat,” says product manager Tara Taylor. On the honeymoons front, having seen trends for shorter duration “minimoons”

and more active “adventure moons”, the operator CV Villas (cvvillas.com) now points to the rise of the “friendmoon”, whereby couples book larger, luxurious villas and pack them with their nearest and dearest – backed by perks such as private chefs – offering agents further potential commission, ka-ching. And what better way for honeymooners to mark this Summer Olympics year than on a bespoke trip with a specialist such as JTB (jtbuk.com)?

THE CARIBBEAN

This year has started in grand style with the opening of Jamaica’s 57-guestroom Eclipse, sister property to the Half Moon in Montego Bay, and adults-only Secrets St Martin Resort & Spa (amresorts.com/weddings). Plus, January saw the long-awaited reopening of Rosewood Little Dix Bay, the dream weddings hotspot in the British Virgin Islands (rosewoodhotels.com).

ABTAmag.com


Pictured

Clockwise from top: the chapel at Bahia Principe in Mexico; nuptials on board Disney Cruise Line; a Zulu blessing at Thanda Safari. Left: Disney’s Castaway Cay

The annual market for destination weddings is worth a whopping $16 billion, and rising ABTAmag.com

Wedding venue options at Antigua’s recently opened all-inclusive five-star, 42-villa Hammock Cove Resort & Spa (hammockcoveantigua.com) include the gazebos gracing its wooden deck frontage, while Tui’s new summer service from Manchester to Varadero, Cuba is perfectly timed for the new Melia Internacional Varadero, with its tailored Adore by Meliá Cuba honeymoon and wedding packages. Ones to watch include Grenada’s Kimpton Kawana Bay, opening late 2020, while in Jamaica, Sandals Resorts saw the opening of new Over-The-Water Serenity Wedding Chapels at Sandals Montego Bay and Sandals Ochi Beach Resort last year, capable of hosting 40 or 56 guests respectively. The operator also saw sales of its twin-centre itineraries rise by 12 per cent year-on-year in 2019, with popular picks including Antigua combined with St Lucia or Barbados (sellingsandals.co.uk). And let’s not forget Caribbean cruises. Take Disney Cruise Line, for example, whose wedding packages start from $3,500 on board, or $4,500 on its private island Castaway Cay (disneyweddings.com/cruise).

MEXICO

For versatility, value and choice it’s hard to beat Mexico, where the Barceló Maya Grand in Riviera Maya showcases six properties, including the adults-only allinclusive Barceló Maya Riviera. Opened in December, it features a charming wedding chapel. Also in Riviera Maya, Grand Bahia Principe Tulum (bahia-principe.com/ b2b) unveiled a new wedding chapel in December. Capable of seating 140, it’s open to guests at Bahia Principe’s other three local properties too, with options ranging from free wedding packages for 16 to 30 guests to five more expansive options, from Romantic to Emerald (£2,820 for 30 guests and £55pp for additional guests). Over in Cancun, AMResorts has unleashed its dynamic duo of the 533-guestroom Now Natura Riviera Cancun and Dreams Vista Cancun Resort & Spa in Puerta del Mar. This as Palace Resorts (palaceresorts.com) – which recently appointed a new director of weddings, Deyanira Sosa – focuses on developing its Le Blanc Spa Resorts as a stand-alone adults-only, all-inclusive

March 2020 53


Features Weddings & Honeymoons

Wedding ceremonies in the Maldives aren’t legally binding but make for great pics luxury brand, currently with locations in Cancun and Los Cabos. Couples pleasers at Palladium Hotel Group’s three Mexican resorts include its Karen Bussen Wedding Collection programme. Launched last year, featured options such as Evermore and Waves of Love come backed by Party Lovers options for celebrating after the wedding (palladiumweddings.com/en). And don’t forget the aforementioned One&Only Mandarina, opening in June.

MAURITIUS & THE MALDIVES

From dreamy beach weddings to outrageously affordable five-star honeymoon packages, Mauritius is awash with options. Agent-friendly operators include Beachcomber (beachcomberhotels.com) and Outrigger, with wedding packages at Outrigger Mauritius Beach Resort starting at £840, while hot new entrants include Anantara Iko Mauritius Resort (anantara.com), which opened last autumn.

54 March 2020

“The new Anantara Iko Mauritius Resort is the perfect location for newlyweds,” says Nikki Hain, product manager for Mauritius at Premier Holidays, which offers seven-night, halfboard packages at the resort, including a drinks package and flights from Heathrow, from £1,399pp, for travel from May 11 to June 30 (trade.premierholidays.co.uk). Wedding ceremonies in the Maldives might not be legally binding but venues such as Jumeirah Maldives’ overwater chapel make for great pics. Ceremonies don’t need to break the bank either, with wedding packages at Outrigger Konotta Maldives Resort starting from US$2,500. New honeymoon options include the “deluxe all-inclusive” Emerald Maldives Resort & Spa (emerald-maldives. com), opened in December, while Gili Lankanfushi reopened after a year in January 2020 and Atmosphere Kanifushi Maldives has launched 40 new overwater villas. In other news, January saw the refreshed reopening of COMO Cocoa Island, complete with 34 overwater villas and supersized COMO Shambhala Retreat wellness offering (comohotels.com).

GREEK ISLANDS

When tailoring dream weddings and civil partnerships closer to home, the Greek islands tick a lot of boxes. Take Mykonos,

where hot new properties include Kalesma Ornos Bay (kalesmamykonos.com), opening June 1. Overlooking Ornos Bay, its classic whitewashed design, featuring 25 sumptuous suites and two villas, is reminiscent of a traditional local village. Set to open this summer, the 199-guestroom Angsana Corfu (angsana. com), located eight miles south of Corfu Town and featured by everyone from Cyplon Travel to Inspiring Travel Company to Kuoni, will wow with its wedding and honeymoon packages, backed by its Angsana Spa and Michelin-starred dining. Other new properties worth a look for honeymooners include Lindos Grand Resort, a stylish adults-only offering on Rhodes, opening in May. Located on Vlycha Bay, near Lindos village, selling points include its ThalassoSpa (lindosgrand.com). And Santorini fans could do worse than follow in the footsteps of Peter Andre and his wife Emily who honeymooned at Canaves Oia (canaves.com), whose clusters of villas and suites ooze Greek designer chic. Planning bespoke weddings is in the team’s DNA, from intimate options to larger affairs (the Sunset Terrace at Epitome holds up to 100 guests), and the Aegean views are legendary. Found about 80km east of Rethymnon in the seaside resort of Platanias, River Taverna is one of Planet Weddings’ latest

ABTAmag.com


venues. The operator can help travel agents organise the ceremony, reception and transportation, as well as flowers, cake and photographer, while there is a dedicated wedding coordinator on hand (planetweddings.co.uk).

BALI AND THAILAND

Nestled on Bali’s southern coast, in Nusa Dua, the Apurva Kempinski Bali (kempinski.com) tops the notable newbies. It launched a collection of 43 private pool villas in January, while its three-bedroom Nusantara Presidential Villa doubles as a prime wedding reception spot, complete with a fully equipped kitchen and direct access to the Apurva Wedding Chapel. Anantara Uluwatu Bali Resort is another south coast charmer featuring a panoramic clifftop wedding chapel. Its accommodations emerged fresh from a refurb last year complete with new additions such as the two-bedroom Dewata Penthouse and extended Anantara Spa. Heading inland to Ubud, the former Chedi Club Tanah Gajah has been reborn as Tanah Gajah, a resort by Hadiprana

ABTAmag.com

(tanahgajahubud.com). Weddings remain a focus with Tanah Gajah Heavenly Unity offering guests the chance to tie the knot at the owner’s private estate. Meanwhile, Bali specialist LHM (lhm-hotels.com) is branching out to the nearby island of Lombok. Set to open on Sire Beach on May 19, and offering dreamy views of Mt Rinjani and the Gili Islands, the Legian Sire has honeymoon bliss written all over it. For those who have their heart set on Thailand, great new options alongside Six Senses Yao Noi include Banyan Tree Krabi, with its wedding chapel and rainforestthemed spa, opening in April.

AFRICA

Beach wedding backdrops don’t come much dreamier than Pemba Island, part of the Zanzibar archipelago, or Zanzibar itself, where Zanzibar White Sand’s (whitesandvillas.com) new in-house wedding and event management team tailor wedding packages from $2,000 (based on six guests). Then for a heavenly honeymoon what else but a luxury

Tanzanian safari in the Serengeti or Ngorongoro Crater – or a new camp such as Asilia’s Rubondo Island. In South Africa’s KwaZulu Natal, Thanda Safari (thandasafari.co.za) has launched a three-night honeymoon package. Packages featuring Thanda Safari Lodge or its Jabula Tent lead in at Rand 36,966 and R24,237 respectively (for low season, May–August) and feature all manner of incentives, from private moonlit dinners to traditional Zulu blessings. Nice new touches include Azura Retreats’ (azura-retreats.com) “Giving Back Gift List” initiative. Offered at its two high-end island resorts in Mozambique, it sees wedding guests pledge much-needed items to local communities rather than the married couple. Elsewhere, budget weddings favourite The Gambia continues to bounce back from the collapse of Thomas Cook. The fact that operators such as Tui and The Gambia Experience are upping their airlift for 2020 bodes well for weddings hotspots such as Coco Ocean Resort and recent openings such as adults-only Sunprime Tamala Beach. ABTAmag.com

March 2020 55


Features Uzbekistan

56 March 2020

ABTAmag.com


Uzbekistan unseen Daniel Allen details the unexpected delights of this Central Asian country, which is finally opening its doors to tourism

ABTAmag.com

March 2020 57


Features Uzbekistan

T

ake a nocturnal taxi ride through Uzbek capital Tashkent, along the city’s bustling, beautifully illuminated carriageways, and giant, neon-clad representations of the mythical huma bird are much in evidence. As Uzbekistan’s national emblem, this fabulous avian embodies a country taking flight once again after decades of Soviet occupation, followed by a 25-year period of dictatorial government by the late strongman Islam Karimov. With Uzbekistan gradually opening up to the world in the post-Karimov era, the country’s tourism industry is now undergoing a period of rapid development. There’s still a way to go before this Central Asian nation can be considered a beacon of democracy, but growing numbers of international visitors are already flocking to experience the landlocked republic’s fascinating culture and stunning architecture, both

58 March 2020

of which rival anything on offer across the continent. In the past, just getting to (and into) Uzbekistan was an ordeal, which was reflected in the country’s meagre number of international tourists. Yet things are now changing fast, as red tape is slashed and investment in tourism infrastructure surges. Since February 1, 2019, UK citizens have been able to visit Uzbekistan for up to 30 days without a visa, while high-speed rail – which now connects the Unesco World Heritage-listed cities of Bukhara and Samarkand – is being rolled out across large parts of the country. The modernising fleet of Uzbekistan Airways has been bolstered by a burgeoning number of Boeing Dreamliners, all Uzbek hotels have been instructed to offer accommodation “regardless of the place of residence, citizenship, kinship and marital relations of individuals”, and ubiquitous photographic restrictions have largely been lifted.

The country’s tourism industry is now undergoing a period of rapid development ABTAmag.com


Pictured

The ancient cemetery of Mizdakhan is among a rich menu of sights that includes cultural institutions, classical architecture and vast natural expanses

All in all, there’s never been a better time to visit Uzbekistan. With ABTA already naming the country in its 12 places to visit in 2019, those who choose to follow in the footsteps of the Silk Road explorers today are simply beating the rush.

COMPELLING CAPITAL

Like a lot places that travellers pass through to get somewhere else, sprawling Tashkent – the largest metropolis in Central Asia – takes its time to win over visitors. Nevertheless, this is an entertaining and fascinating city, boasting some of Uzbekistan’s finest eateries, nightlife and cultural institutions. One of the most ancient Silk Road cities, which lay along a complex network of trade routes connecting China with Europe, Tashkent was almost totally flattened by an earthquake in 1966. Hundreds of thousands were left homeless overnight, but a huge Soviet

ABTAmag.com

reconstruction and restoration project saw the city rise from the ruins in double quick time. Tashkent’s eventful history has produced a city of striking juxtapositions. Here you’ll find exquisite 14th-century mosques and classical, pastel-facaded Russian buildings rubbing shoulders with monolithic, Stalinist architecture, typified by the iconic, retro-cool Hotel Uzbekistan, a gargantuan concrete slab of an edifice that dominates the very heart of the city. From sleepy Uzbek suburbs with their fruit markets and mud brick buildings to the soaring, 375-metre high Tashkent Television Tower, the Uzbek capital is a fascinating melange of East and West, ancient and modern. Completed in 1977, Tashkent’s ornate metro system not only makes navigating the city cheap and easy (single rides cost around 10p), it offers a unique artistic journey too. The design of each lavish

March 2020 59


Features Uzbekistan

Nothing compares to Registan, the capital of TurcoMongol king Timur

60 March 2020

station takes inspiration from its name, with the mosque-like Alisher Navoi and space race-themed Kosmonavtlar particular highlights. With a ban on taking pictures here lifted in 2018, subterranean photographers can snap away to their heart’s content. Lying to the west of the Hotel Uzbekistan, architectural enthusiasts should also take in Tashkent’s Independence Square (Mustakillik Square), with its symmetrical lines and white marble columns upholding a huge silver globe and trio of dancing storks. Dotted with leafy parks and fountains, this is the perfect place to buy a slice or two of super-sweet watermelon and people-watch on a balmy summer evening. Independence Square’s subway

station, with its gold, Art Deco-style light fittings, is one of the most beautiful on the metro system.

SILK ROAD SPLENDOUR AT SPEED

From Tashkent in the east, Uzbekistan’s new high-speed train network (the Afrosiyob) now whisks travellers to the major cities and tourism hotspots of Samarkand (two hours) and Bukhara (four hours). This heightened convenience makes visiting these legendary Silk Road destinations all the more appealing. Like Tashkent and Samarkand, Bukhara dates back more than 2,000 years. As the most complete example of a medieval metropolis in Central Asia, the city’s urban fabric is remarkably well preserved. Restoration work here has

ABTAmag.com


been carried out more subtly than in other Uzbek cities, which means the entire place feels incredibly authentic. Bukhara is separated into two distinct areas – the old and the new. Most residents live in the new city, but it is the older one which draws the most visitors, with the lion’s share of the most beautiful madrassas (Islamic schools). Particular highlights include the famous tomb of Ismail Samani, a masterpiece of 10thcentury Muslim architecture, the Ark of Bukhara – a massive fortress that acted as the royal residence of the Bukhara khans – and Poi Kalyan, an elegant Islamic religious complex clustered around the iconic Kalyan Minaret. No name evokes the Silk Road’s enticing exoticism like Samarkand.

ABTAmag.com

Arriving here from Tashkent, Khiva or even Bukhara, visitors are already well acquainted with the jaw-dropping splendour of Uzbek minarets, mosques and mausoleums. Yet nothing compares to Registan, the capital of Turco-Mongol king Timur (Tamerlane), which sits at the heart of the city. This majestic square, with its trio of exquisitely decorated madrassas is, in essence, the symbol of Uzbekistan, and no visit to the country is complete without a viewing. Arrive early to beat the crowds and vendors. Other Samarkand highlights include the nearby Shah-i-Zinda Necropolis, one of the city’s holiest sights and the final resting place of a number of Timur’s relations, the gigantic Bibi-Khanym Mosque, and the mausoleum of Timur

himself at Gur-e-Amir, yet another masterpiece of Islamic architecture.

DESERT DIVERSION

A huge expanse of sand sitting at the centre of Uzbekistan, the Kyzylkum Desert is the Central Asia that springs to mind when you look at a map: desolate, forbidding and incredibly hot. As a detour between Bukhara and Samarkand or Tashkent, it combines well with a visit to the verdant Nuratau Mountains. Today, numerous yurt camps and Bactrian camel trekking tours make a Kyzylkum experience far less perilous (and far more enjoyable) than in times gone by, when Silk Road traders would spend weeks braving its ever-shifting, terracottacoloured dunes. ABTAmag.com

March 2020 61


Features Industry insights

Apprentices of all ages Gary Noakes looks at the modern apprenticeships that are providing unparalleled opportunities for industry newbies and stalwarts alike

Y

ou might be a one-branch travel agency needing a junior consultant, a long-serving employee wanting to progress or even an airline that needs more pilots – in each case, apprenticeships could be the answer. A shake-up of the way apprenticeships are funded and run means there’s now a wealth of opportunities, not just for the young and inexperienced, but also those wanting on-the-job training in a new area or help with expensive qualifications like a commercial pilot licence. Thanks to changes in funding mechanisms over the past three years, the range and scope of apprenticeship opportunities have increased dramatically. Since 2017, companies with a pay bill of more than £3 million have paid an apprenticeship levy of 0.5 per cent of payroll. They can effectively reclaim the bulk of this money if they employ apprentices, either tutoring them in-house or via a training specialist.

62 March 2020

“The idea behind the scheme is to give businesses more control and input into content; the government believes apprenticeships should be business-led,” says Vicki Wolf, ABTA’s education manager and member of the Travel Skills & Quality Board. Previously, apprenticeships were centred on a particular qualification, and although some still include this as part of the package, it’s more about the ability to do the job and pass an in-house assessment. In 2020, SMEs are the big government focus, something that will benefit small independent travel agencies. Most travel agent apprenticeships last somewhere between 18 and 24 months, with the minimum timespan being 12 months. The rules stipulate 20 per cent of training must be “off the job”, which can deter some SMEs, but according to Wolf this doesn’t need to be the case: “It doesn’t necessarily mean out of the office; it could mean just not selling, maybe learning a new system or going to a conference.”

Moreover, working with a training organisation means learning can be structured around the day-to-day running of an agency. Collaborating with other travel agencies, such as those found within the same ABTA region, can also help. “If they all come together with training, it’s much more cost-effective for the training company and apprentices get a better experience because they meet others,” says Wolf. The Travel Consultant Apprenticeship, which ABTA helped develop, covers leisure and business travel and lasts 12–24 months depending on previous qualifications. Proof that such schemes work is the fact that about half of Hays Travel’s senior managers are former apprentices. Hays recently began recruiting 729 new apprentices, including 30 to work in its Sunderland head office. Sophia Rice, ABTA’s customer support executive, is a Travelife apprentice. “I chose my apprenticeship with ABTA as it is an established and influential organisation in the travel industry,” she says.

ABTAmag.com


“The opportunity to work for Travelife for Accommodation was a huge bonus as it is a leading certification scheme, and with sustainability becoming such an important global issue, I felt this role was the right choice for me. “I have learnt so much since starting at ABTA, whether it has been industryrelated or general business operations, and I am very grateful to have been given the opportunity to develop my professional career here.” ABTA is keen to emphasise that apprenticeships are not just for new entrants. ABTA members are also training existing staff in new skills such as IT, HR, finance, digital marketing and general management. “This is not just for young people. If there’s an area in which they don’t have qualifications, [older employees] can do it,” stresses Wolf. In September, the whole concept of vocation-based training will be enhanced further when the government launches

ABTAmag.com

T Levels, a two-year technical qualification. T Levels will be equal to three A Levels and will qualify as UCAS entry points. They require students to spend 80 per cent of their time in the classroom but at least 45 hours on placement in industry, which can be split between two organisations. T Levels will be offered in selected schools and colleges and the initial three subjects will expand to 25 by 2023. There is no date for the introduction of a travelspecific curriculum, but subjects including accountancy, human resources, and cultural heritage and visitor attractions are already confirmed. In addition, the first UK pilot apprenticeship has been launched by the industry and pilots’ union BALPA, supported by Tui Airways. The idea is to make the profession more inclusive – currently, recruits have to find around £100,000 to fund their training. Under the scheme, funding from the Apprenticeship

Levy of up to £27,000 can be used towards First Officer training, with a top-up contributed by the sponsoring airline in addition to an apprentice salary. Becoming a pilot in this way is about as far from the traditional image of an apprentice as possible. It’s an indication of how far the concept has come – apprenticeships were once regarded as something from the past, now, they’re the way forward. ABTAmag.com

November March 2020 2019 63


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Where in the world?

The same city is pictured in each of these four images. Can you name it?

Januaryâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s answer was: Marseille

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I March 2020 65


Final word Stuart Parker

Final word Each issue we speak to an ABTA employee about their work. This time: Stuart Parker, head of operations and delivery

ABTA events Fundamentals of Data Protection and Management in Travel April 16, London

A

BTA is a fascinating organisation and an extremely rewarding place to work, full of smart, committed people – all of whom are focused on supporting ABTA members to help them deliver the best possible travel products. As well as being the premier trade organisation of the UK travel industry, ABTA is the UK’s most trusted consumer travel brand, a result of ABTA’s long history and the variety of quality services offered to the travelling public, our members and our partners. All of which means that I have an extremely varied job. My core role involves working with all areas of the business to plan our annual activities and track our progress, which in turn feeds into ABTA’s corporate risk management work and our dayto-day business processes. A typical working day might find me updating the ABTA business plan, checking progress on a risk mitigation strategy, reviewing and updating a business process or providing guidance and advice around data protection as I’m also ABTA’s data protection officer. This aspect of my role has become more and more important over the past few years, partly as a result of new data protection legislation but also as a recognition of the increased importance of good data governance and management. The ability to effectively communicate with our stakeholders is critical to ABTA’s ongoing success, so we put a lot of effort into ensuring our contact information is up to date and accurate. We also try hard to understand what our members and other stakeholders want from us and I would encourage you all to register on the ABTA website and keep your preferences up to date. This helps us to keep you informed and to direct you to those ABTA services that are most relevant to you.

66 March 2020

Another aspect of my role is the projects I get involved in, usually to help put a robust structure in place to ensure overall objectives are agreed in advance and the final delivery reflects these. Project work is good fun and often widens your exposure to the business and the third parties involved in the work. At the moment we’re working on the numerous contracts required to deliver ABTA’s annual Travel Convention this October in Marrakesh. In order to best inform our medium- to long-term strategy, as well as gaining an understanding of the current travel industry, we must consider where the industry may be in the future. This can involve reading research reports, analysing data collected by ABTA as well as other sources, and keeping abreast of changes in technology and legislation, as well as how change in other industries might have an impact on our sector. The travel industry is excellent at adapting to consumer expectations and demand, and ABTA must be agile enough to also react to these changes. Keeping information flowing around the business also occupies my time. Having an effective and agile business plan is indispensable, but it must go hand in hand with good communication and scrutiny. I’ll meet ABTA’s senior leadership team regularly to review all aspects of the business plan and to check service delivery against our targets. This will often drive changes in business processes and may even cause us to rethink and update our objective and strategy. Finally, I keep the ABTA Board updated on progress against the business plan, management of the corporate risk register and our data processing activities through regular reporting and occasional strategy sessions. The risk committee will scrutinise the corporate risk twice a year and the board of directors receives a data protection report directly each spring and autumn. ABTA.com

ABTAmag.com


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ABTA Magazine – March 2020  

The latest issue of ABTA Magazine, created by Waterfront Publishing. In this issue, Daniel Allen explores Uzbekistan; Sam Ballard speaks to...

ABTA Magazine – March 2020  

The latest issue of ABTA Magazine, created by Waterfront Publishing. In this issue, Daniel Allen explores Uzbekistan; Sam Ballard speaks to...

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