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New beginnings

Travel industry insights / May 2018

After a difficult few years, Turkey, Tunisia and Egypt are back on the map for British travellers. Katherine Lawrey welcomes the return of old favourites

King of the north How Belfast became one of the world’s most exciting cities

Generation game

Why business travel has been reshaped around the needs of millennials

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ABTA Magazine New beginnings

Travel industry insights / May 2018

After a difficult few years, Turkey, Tunisia and Egypt are back on the map for British travellers. Katherine Lawrey welcomes the return of old favourites

King of the north How Belfast became one of the world’s most exciting cities

Generation game

Why business travel has been reshaped around the needs of millennials

Royal Caribbean

Waterslides, robotic barmen and the world’s largest cruise ships

Welcome to the all new ABTA Magazine


warm welcome to readers both new and returning to the relaunched issue of ABTA Magazine. It’s all change around here. As the new publishers, we’ve taken this opportunity to make a fresh start: introducing an exciting new size, design, finish and ethos to the title. With an increased and improved distribution, the magazine’s circulation spans the breadth of the travel industry, reaching from frontline agents to the boardroom. We’ll be making sure ABTA Magazine’s editorial content reflects its wide readership, too. The magazine will represent the industry, and all of its sectors, through engaging and unbiased news, analysis, comment and in-depth features. Published six times a year, the magazine will form the centrepiece of the ABTA Magazine portfolio – so look out for ABTA Golf, ABTA Magazine WTM Special, the ABTA Handbooks and the ABTA Magazine Guides coming later this year and in early 2019. For this issue’s cover feature, we take you back to Turkey, Egypt and Tunisia, three destinations beloved by British holidaymakers and returning to something like full strength in 2018. Katherine Lawrey explores the wonders of the region and speaks to the operators experiencing a spike in bookings (p48). Green travel expert Dr Catherine Wilson explores the impact of plastic pollution on our oceans, and how agents and operators can help (p56), plus, Jenny Southan tackles the issue of tech giants moving in on the online travel agents’ ground in our Industry Insights piece (p60). Elsewhere, you’ll find news covering touring, hotels, aviation, cruise and more (from p11). We have comment from Kuoni’s Derek Jones (p21); a big interview with travel agent Miles Morgan (p22); and our dedicated business travel section, this issue focusing on millennials (p34). We also visit Valetta, the capital of Malta, for our regular City Guide feature (p46), and head to Belfast as part of our UK holidays section (p40). From p27, we’ll also update you about all things ABTA, sharing the travel association’s latest news, events, campaigns and comment. There’s also a chance to have your questions answered in our all-new Ask the Expert column. This magazine is for ABTA Members, Partners and the wider travel industry – we want it to reflect your interests, highlight your concerns and amplify your voices. That’s why we’d love to hear your thoughts on everything from the new design to industry issues. Send your comments to and we’ll publish the best of them. There’s also the chance to win seven nights for two in either the Grand Palladium Costa Mujeres or TRS Coral Hotel, both due to open in Mexico in November 2018, on p65. We hope you enjoy reading

2018 with ABTA

See p32 for the full list of ABTA events

May 24

June 21

June 26

Advanced Travel Marketing Seminar, Manchester

Solo Travel Conference, London

Delivering Sustainable Travel, London

May 2018


ABTA Magazine



Competition Win! A seven-night stay in one of Palladium Hotel Group’s soon-to-open luxury hotels in Mexico

The plastic tide Fighting pollution

New beginnings The return of Egypt, Tunisia and Turkey


65 48

The tech giants The rise of Google Travel May 2018


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ABTA Magazine

In the May issue


03 09

Editor’s letter Introducing the all new ABTA Magazine


On trend We explore the package travel boom and visitors numbers to Turkey


News The latest travel industry news, including cruise, aviation, hotels and touring


Comment Kuoni UK boss Derek Jones on how to beat the scammers


Interview: Miles Morgan Why the industry veteran is thriving on the high street


ABTA section The Travel Convention heads to Seville, Simon Bunce unwraps package law changes, plus all the latest news, campaigns and events


Business travel Jenny Southan investigates how milliennials are remaking the sector

Jenny Southan


Spotlight on… Royal Caribbean International. We join the cruise line as it launches the largest ever cruise ship

Dr Catherine Wilson


Nicola Brady


City guide Abigail Blasi takes in the view from Valletta, Malta’s beautiful capital

Abigail Blasi


Gamesroom Play games and win prizes


ABTA diary Mark Tanzer shares his work routine


46 Contributors Award-winning freelance travel journalist, and editor and founder of Globetrender

Research and communications consultant, with sustainability and tourism experience

Travel writer, writing for the Irish Independent, CNN, Tatler and The Independent

Travel writer who specialises in Malta as well as Italy, India, Denmark and the Netherlands

Readers’ letters Readers share their views on price matching, the big ocean clean-up and more

UK holidays Nicola Brady visits Belfast – a city that combines history and charm

May 2018








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ABTA Magazine

Your letters Knowledge is power Addressing the gender balance in business has never been so high profile. UK organisations employing more than 250 people had to report on their gender pay gap last month. This was a shot in the arm for many businesses when it comes to benchmarking and looking at what others do well, or not so well. The travel industry has taken a long hard analytical look at their own equal pay and the gender pay gap figures. Importantly, I don’t see much complacency. Those of us with work to do – and I count my own business in that camp – are setting out firm commitments and continuing to strive to do better. Tackling equality, and associated underlying factors, is everyone’s responsibility. Jo Rzymowska managing director, Celebrity Cruises UK & Ireland

Star letter

Mind the gap

How many times in a day are agents asked for a discount or a price match? That’s the way of the world today and if a customer can find a holiday, on the internet at a reduced price I guess you can’t blame them for asking. But travel professionals are not a programmable response on a website; so instead of giving a yes/no response they can ask a question. From there a conversation develops, helping the customer have confidence. Knowledge is what sets travel agents apart! Chris May managing director, TravelUni and Equator Learning

Not easy being green

Plastic waste in the ocean is set to treble within the next ten years if action isn’t taken. We have a responsibility to encourage travellers not to add to the problem when visiting different countries. We need to encourage travellers to say no to single-use plastic

items, to use reusable bags, bottles and cups, to inspire people to be more responsible when travelling. It’s up to us to make it easy for holidaymakers to make a difference. Andrew Turner head of industry sales, EMEA, Intrepid Travel

Returning to Tunisia

Following the change in government advice last July, we made the decision to restart our flight and holiday programme to Tunisia (see p48). We’ve started in just a few resorts, mainly near Hammamet, where we are confident we can offer the high quality our customers expect. The first flights sold out and bookings have been strong in the months since. So much so that we have increased our flight programme from three to 11 weekly flights for this summer. Clearly, the nation’s appetite for sunshine at a fair price is fuelling demand to this old favourite. Chris Mottershead managing director, Thomas Cook UK

Let us know your thoughts on ABTA Magazine and travel industry issues. Email: We reserve the right to edit letters for brevity and clarity. Please include a name, job title and company. These will be witheld if requested. Other comments taken from

ABTA Magazine is created by Waterfront Publishing on behalf of ABTA Waterfront Publishing Arch 462, Kingsland Viaduct 83 Rivington Street London EC2A 3AY 020 3865 9360

Director Sam Ballard Director Anthony Pearce Head of sales Simon Leaming 020 3865 9337

Media sales executive Bryan Johnson 020 3865 9338

Head of design Billy Odell Designer Matthew Coles Business travel editor Jenny Southan 020 3456 7899 Sub-editors Tom Hensby, Joanna Czechowska, Nathaniel Cramp

With thanks to: Jill Sayles, Dr Catherine Wilson, Abigail Blasi, Nicola Brady, Katherine Lawrey, Gary Buchanan Twitter: @ABTAMagazine Facebook: ABTAMagazine

ABTA 30 Park Street, London SE1 9EQ Chief executive Mark Tanzer Chairman Noel Josephides

May 2018


ABTA Magazine

On trend

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


Turkey bounces back 2,500,000


1,500,000 2014






Expected package holiday market increase from 2017 to 2022


Number of customers who go on more package holidays


Travellers who are looking to personalise their hotel stay *according to Mintel research taken from The Thomas Cook Holiday Report 2018

10 May 2018

The number of Britons visiting Turkey dropped dramatically between 2015 and 2016, falling from 2,338,000 to 1,769,000, according to the market research provider Euromonitor International. Market research company GfK reports that bookings have risen by 80 per cent in 2018, after 176,000 more Britons visited last year than in 2016. See p48 and .


Worldwide corporate hotel room nights booked in 2017

Using data from all hotel bookings made by its global TMC members last year, Advantage Travel Partnership found that 4.9m worldwide corporate hotel room nights were booked in 2017 – an increase of 8.4 per cent on the previous year. In the UK, Blackpool saw the biggest growth in UK overnight business travel with 55 per cent more room nights booked last year than in 2016.

Package deal

Last month, Thomas Cook released its Holiday Report 2018. In it, the holiday giant revealed research that suggested package holidays were becoming cool again. Half of bookings for the year to date were for new customers – intrigued by new brands like Casa Cook and Cook’s Club. Personalistion is a trend that will only get hotter – as Thomas Cook’s own move to pre-book sunbeds earlier in the year proved.

ABTA Magazine

News May 2018

GDPR date May 25 see page 29

All the latest headlines from the world of travel

IAG buys into Norwegian The low-cost long-haul carrier insists it’s not for sale By Jill Sayles

Sterling performance The pound’s recovery in recent months is set to benefit holidaymakers; Croation kuna continues to grow By Jill Sayles Sterling’s strong recovery in recent months is set to benefit holidaymakers, according to a report by Post Office Travel Money. Analysing currency sales for its January-March 2018 Holiday Money Index, it reveals sales of long-haul holiday currencies are ahead of last year’s levels whereas European ones are more cautious. Sales trends reveal that 80 per cent of the Post Office’s top 40 currencies – apart from the South African rand – are weaker against sterling than they were a year ago. The pound’s biggest year-on-year gains have been against the Turkish lira (up 27.7 per cent) and Russian ruble (up 25.8 per cent). The US dollar is down 14.7 per cent against sterling. In Europe, sales of the euro remain buoyant. The pound is just 1.7 per cent

weaker against the euro year-on-year, but elsewhere in Eastern Europe sterling has weakened against the Czech koruna, Polish zloty and Hungarian forint. Despite the fact that the Croatian kuna also remains stronger against the pound – by 1.9 per cent year-on-year, Post Office sales of the currency are soaring. A 32 per cent sales rise for January-March 2018 makes the kuna the Post Office’s second fastest growing currency after the Thai baht. Andrew Brown of Post Office Travel Money said: “Our kuna sales have quadrupled over the past decade with no sign yet of a plateauing in demand. While there have been reports of a slowdown in bookings for other European destinations, Croatia seems to be a big exception. “Another exception is Turkey where tour operators are reporting huge increases in demand.”

International Airlines Group (IAG) has acquired a 4.61 per cent ownership position in Norwegian Air Shuttle ASA (Norwegian), stating it considers the airline to be an attractive investment. The minority investment is intended to establish a position from which to initiate discussions with Norwegian, including the possibility of a full offer for the company, but Norwegian said it had no prior knowledge of the acquisition before it was reported on April 12 and the airline was not in any discussions or dialogue with IAG about the matter. Norwegian Air Shuttle ASA chief executive officer and co-founder Bjørn Kjos, who has a 27 per cent stake in the company, stated that the discount carrier was not for sale. IAG had confirmed that no such discussions had taken place to date and that there was no certainty that any such decision will be made. An acquisition could value the company at about $3 billion, including debt. Norwegian currently carries 5.8 million UK passengers each year from London Gatwick, Edinburgh and Manchester Airports to 50 destinations worldwide and is the third largest airline at London Gatwick, with 4.6 million yearly passengers, and with more than 1,000 UK-based pilots and cabin crew. In 2014, it introduced the UK’s first low-cost, long-haul flights to the US and now flies to 11 destinations in the country, as well as Buenos Aires and Singapore.

May 2018 11


A nation reborn


100 years on since the Czech lands were first united into one nation, it’s the perfect time to savour the country’s captivating history and bustling present 100 YEARS ON

In 1918, as the First World War finally ground to a halt, the Czech nation was born. Founded by Tomáš Masaryk, the so-called “President Liberator”, Czechoslovakia ushered in remarkable new era of political, architectural and cultural achievement. In the country’s beautiful capital, the imposing Prague Castle was reimagined in striking fashion by Jože Plečnik, the Slovenian architect; at the same time, Alphonse Mucha, a pioneer of the Czech art nouveau movement, produced his masterpieces; and composer Leoš Janáček took his operas to the world stage. Industry followed suit, with the emergence of Czech brands such as Skoda and Pilsner Urquell, the first golden lager, named after Plzeň, the city where it was first brewed. Bohemian Crystal, famous since the Renaissance, continued to signify, as it does today, artisanship, beauty and quality. Although the Velvet Divorce of 1993 saw the country split and the Czech Republic

12 May 2018

emerge as its own nation, the successes of Czechoslovakia’s early years can still be enjoyed in this centenary year. Now is the perfect time to visit.


From 1918, many cities in the new republic, such as Brno, Hradec Králové and Zlín, saw their architecture transformed as Czech modernism swept all before it. Brno embraced functionalism, an austere style which gave the country’s second largest city a reputation as one of Europe’s most progressive metropolises. Direct flights connect London to the city where striking examples of this architecture survive: you can visit the magnificent Villa Tugendhat, completed in 1930 by Mies van der Rohe and now a Unesco World Heritage Site. The city also boasts incredible bars and a burgeoning restaurant scene. In Hradec Králové, 30 minutes from Pardubice (served by direct flights from London Stansted), you will find the

incredible buildings of Jan Kotěra, a leading light in Czech modernism.


With 13 non-stop flights a day from London (and six more divided between Manchester, Bristol, Edinburgh and Birmingham), Prague, with its Gothic architecture, bustling bars and arts scene, is just two hours from the UK. In the Czech capital you can visit the cafés played host to an underground anti-communist movement. It was around these tables that dissident poets, philosophers and musicians, including the country’s future president, Václav Havel, met to co-ordinate their opposition to the regime which finally toppled in 1989. Some of the best cafés are the remarkable Parisian-style Café Louvre, visited by the likes of Franz Kafka and Albert Einstein; Café Imperial, with its stunning art deco interior; and the Municipal House Café, designed in the art nouveau style. See

Timeless design Discover a legendary villa

A dream of living realized. Marvel at this celebrated home that still manages to amaze with its perfect lines, airy interiors and unique technology. Experience the unforgettable atmosphere of Brno in one of the beautiful period cafes. Visit the Czech Republic and discover the pearls of modern architecture.

Villa Tugendhat Brno

2 hours from Prague

ABTA Magazine

Touring news

Round-up of the current stories affecting the touring sector

SuperBreak in London Series of educational trips on offer for agents By Jill Sayles

Graduation day The first youngsters from the TUI Academy have completed their training and start work in the Dominican Republic By Anthony Pearce The first graduates from the TUI Academy, launched just over a year ago have completed a training programme equipping them with the skills to work in the tourism industry and will now be employed at a TUI Blue Diamond Resort. The TUI Academy was developed by TUI Care Foundation and Plan International, in partnership with TUI Group’s Blue Diamond Resorts. Over three years 150 disadvantaged girls and boys will undertake a one-year vocational training course that will prepare them for work in the field of tourism.

News in brief 14 May 2018

Silvio Minier, programme manager of Plan International Dominican Republic, said: “The TUI Academy Dominican Republic aims to empower young people, especially women, from the poorest communities in La Altagracia Province by offering them access to job opportunities and motivating them to make informed decisions about their lives.” Students can choose to study housekeeping, bartending or as a kitchen assistant. As well as learning these skills, the students receive life coaching with a focus on gender empowerment. Recruitment is now underway for the second group of students.

Titan has launched Trailblazer Tours and expanded options for solo travellers in its Early Booking Bonanza Brochure for 2019. There are 27 brand new tour itineraries in addition to an expanded range of river cruises.

SuperBreak plans to bring more than 200 agents to London between May and September 2018. The series of trips are designed to showcase what the city has to offer and to give agents the knowledge in order to sell the short break destination with confidence. During the visits, agents will see key attractions, sample one of SuperBreak’s dining options, see a show and stay overnight in a hotel. In addition, the operator plans to host some day-trips for agents who are based within a shorter distance of London. Trips are being planned for agents including TUI and Thomas Cook, plus various consortia and independents. Gary Gillespie, national sales manager at SuperBreak said: “This is an ambitious programme for us and clearly shows our commitment to agents. London is a key short break destination and we want to ensure as many agents as possible can sell it. It’s a long time since we have hosted such a large number of agents in one destination, in one year.”

Olympic Holidays has launched its Summer 2019 preview brochure showcasing the company’s most popular early booker destinations from Gold experiences and Island Hopper itineraries to family favourites.

G Adventures has recruited an apprentice chief experience officer. Hesti Rialita Elvandari joins the scheme to provide on the road destination training for travel agents in England, Scotland, Ireland and Europe.

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ABTA Magazine

Cruise news

Looking at the latest launches, innovations and destinations

Hurricane helpers Fred Olsen guests raise money for Caribbean relief By Jill Sayles

Explorer is ready The latest – and largest – addition to Marella Cruises’ fleet has been undergoing refurbishment in Spain By Sam Ballard Marella Explorer, the latest addition to the Marella Cruises fleet, is undergoing refurbishment in Cadiz, Spain. The ship is due to depart from the city on May 13, before embarking its first customer sailing around the Mediterranean, leaving from Palma, Majorca on May 19. At 265.5m long and 32.2m wide, Marella Explorer is the biggest ship in the Marella Cruises fleet. The 1,924-capacity ship has 962 cabins – nearly 40 per cent of which have balconies – over 13 decks. Two of the biggest new features will be Indigo – the ship’s new flagship bar, club

and casino – and the first Champneys spa at sea. Indigo will the longest bar on the ship, with wraparound sea views. Champneys will offer full-service thermal and treatment suites, a Finnish sauna, and spa cabanas on the Veranda. The company has also announced the ship’s godmothers, recognising two employees who have contributed significantly to Marella Cruises. It is tradition to invite team members to become godmothers and hotel operations manager Sue Stewart and TUI retail agent Mandy Galloway have been chosen for their passion for cruise and dedication to customer experience.

Fred Olsen Cruise Lines’ guests across the fleet have raised almost £25,000 to help the Caribbean relief effort following the devastation caused by hurricanes Irma and Maria in September 2017. To date, £12,000 has been donated to the Caribbean Tourism Organization’s (CTO) Hurricane Relief Fund. Carol Hay, director of marketing UK & Europe at the Caribbean Tourism Organization, said: “The support from Fred Olsen Cruise Lines has been fantastic. We can’t thank the staff and guests enough. One hundred per cent of the funds go to help those affected; and most importantly goes towards the sustainability of the Caribbean tourism product.” In addition, Fred Olsen guests have also raised a separate sum of over £11,000 to help the island of Tortola in the British Virgin Islands, one of the worst-hit areas. Guests took part in a number of on board activities to raise the funds, such as raffles, crew tug-of-war competitions, quizzes and art auctions, all organised by the ships’ entertainment teams. TRAVEL NEWS

All the latest news, from escorted touring to cruise, hotels to aviation. See


Comment and interviews from the biggest names in the travel industry. See ABTAmag. com/comment

May 2018 17

ABTA Magazine

Hotel news

Checking in on the latest happenings in the world of accommodation

Cook’s Club Thomas Cook unveils its latest hotel brand in Crete

The personal touch

AccorHotels UK & Ireland launches ‘cultural transformation’ allowing staff to go ‘off-script’ to transform hotel stays By Anthony Pearce AccorHotels UK & Ireland has launched a ‘cultural transformation’, giving staff at its UK hotels – including Ibis, Novotel and Mercure – the freedom to go ‘off-script’ and provide spontaneous gestures that can transform hotel stays. It has already been rolled out over 80 per cent of the group’s UK locations, with gestures including walking a guest’s dog, surprising a guest with the latest novel by their favourite writer and helping with a marriage proposal plan. The initiative aims to utilise the skills and understanding of its staff – who

have undergone training – about what makes a hotel guest happy and how to provide memorable moments. It is central to its new ‘From The Heart’ advertising campaign in the UK, which was filmed in Novotel London Canary Wharf, Ibis London Canning Town and Mercure London Bridge. Thomas Dubaere, chief operating officer, AccorHotels UK & Ireland, said: “We believe the most important factor to drive our continued success in a very competitive environment is how our family of hotel staff make our guests feel. We have invested a lot of energy in creating a culture where staff feel empowered to go ‘off-script’ and deliver the personal touch.”

QE2 opens as a hotel

Legendary liner now a luxury destination in Dubai

By Jill Sayles Ex-Cunard liner Queen Elizabeth 2 (QE2) has opened as a floating hotel, dining and entertainment destination in Dubai. PCFC Hotels – part of the Dubai government’s Ports, Customs and Free Zones Corporation – has reimagined the legendary vessel, which has a history spanning five decades, and is now docked permanently at Mina Rashid.

18 May 2018

The ‘soft opening’ on April 18 was the first of several in which segments of the 13-deck liner will be opened and released. In this first phase, five of the planned 13 restaurants and bars were unveiled along with the adjacent QE2 Heritage Exhibition. Hamza Mustafa, CEO of PCFC Hotels, said: “To finally open the QE2 is a dream come true. It is one of Dubai’s most highly anticipated projects and a lot of people are going to be excited to see it.”

By Sam Ballard Thomas Cook has unveiled its latest hotel brand, Cook’s Club, attracting a new audience to package holidays. The first Cook’s Club opening will be in Crete on June 1 and aims to build on the success of boutique lifestyle hotel Casa Cook, at a price point that is targeted to attract an even wider audience. Cook’s Club Crete will be a 148-room fully refurbished hotel in Hersonissos on the island’s north coast. The hotel is designed around a “new generation of traveller”, with well-designed, simple rooms reflecting the way accommodation and dining out across major cities has been transformed with a more casual experience while maintaining quality. The company says that the new hotel brand will continue what Casa Cook started, helping to broaden the company’s appeal and supporting Thomas Cook’s commitment to transforming the traditional package holiday. It is aiming to have between ten and 15 Cook’s Club hotels by next summer. The Crete hotel has two swimming pools surrounded by a casual dining space called Cantina and Cooks Bar. Cantina will have an extensive menu ranging from healthy vegan treats to local dishes, including moussaka and gyros.

Throughout May, June and July we’re hosting multiple quiz nights to find our very own Sandals Superstars! With our GRAND FINAL in September and lots of prizes up for grabs – you won’t want to miss out! Check out the line up for each of our BDM’s below:




05 June - Canterbury 06 June - Dartford 07 June - Croydon 20 June - Crawley 21 June - Maidstone

17 April - Manchester 05 June - Hull 06 June - Leeds 07 June - Sheffield 19 June - Liverpool

GARY atwell


25 April - Glasgow 16 May - Aberdeen 17 May - Edinburgh 23 May - Carlisle 24 MAY - Newcastle

19 April - Colchester 09 May - Nottingham 22 may - Duxford 24 May - Norwich 29 may - basildon

01 May - Kettering 02 May - Oxford 03 May - Poole 09 May - Fareham 10 May - Isle of Wight 14 May - Bracknell 22 May - Leicester


REGISTRATION: 18:30 QUIZ: 19:00 FOOD & DRINK INCLUDED So what are you waiting for? Contact your Business Development Manager or e-Mail agencysales@sandals. with your name, team members and preferred date/location, but hurry: PLACES ARE LIMITED AND WILL BE ALLOCATED ON A FIRST-COME, FIRST-SERVED BASIS. Please note: Teams must include a maximum of 3 members.

ABTA Magazine

Aviation news

Round-up of which airlines are flying where and how often

Fly direct to Music City BA launches new service from Heathrow to Nashville By Sam Ballard

New Qatar flights Airline launches daily direct Dreamliner flights from Cardiff to Doha and introduces new service from London Gatwick By Jill Sayles Qatar Airways has launched daily direct flights from Cardiff Airport to Hamad International Airport in Qatar’s capital city, Doha. These are the first regular direct long-haul flight linking Wales to a major global hub in the Gulf region and beyond seven days a week. The new service will be operated on a Boeing 787 Dreamliner. The flight duration is six hours and 50 minutes and the lead price is £554.87 for a return journey in economy class. Meanwhile, from May 22, Qatar Airways passengers can travel direct from

News in brief

20 May 2018

London Gatwick with double daily services to Doha. The new service from Gatwick will be operated by a Boeing 787 Dreamliner. The comapny has also recently announced that it is the first airline in the Middle East and North Africa region (MENA) to provide gate-to-gate internet connectivity with the service onboard aircraft at all altitudes. Previously, internet connection was only permitted when an aircraft was higher than 3,000 meters above sea level. Agents can register their interest in an inaugural mega fam trip to Qatar, flying with the airline in mid-November, by emailing

Delta Air Lines’ nonstop flight from London Heathrow to Portland International Airport resumes on May 4 and will operate four times a week until October 6, 2018. Flights cost from £497.

British Airways will launch a five-timesa-week service to Nashville – the ‘Music City’ – from London Heathrow this month (May). The route will be operated by a Boeing 787-8, with return fares in World Traveller starting from £749. Flights will run on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday, with BA223 departing from London Heathrow Terminal 5 at 3.45pm and arriving into Nashville Airport at 6.50pm, while BA222 will leave Nashville at 8.20pm, arriving into London at 10.30am the next day. Sean Doyle, British Airways’ director of network and alliances, said: “We are excited to be adding Nashville to our global network, making us the only carrier flying non-stop between Europe and Tennessee. With more than 160 live music venues from country and blues to jazz and rock, a rich history and heritage and a thriving food and drink scene, Nashville is a truly vibrant place for all tastes and styles.” Tickets can be booked at and for more information on Nashville go to

Icelandair announced the return of its service from London to San Francisco International Airport via Iceland starting on June 1 with four flights a week, including a 1hr 50min stopover in Reykjavik.

French Bee – France’s first low-cost longhaul airline – has announced that, from May 11, it will operate twice weekly flights from Paris Orly to Papeete, Tahiti via San Francisco.

ABTA Magazine


Derek Jones, UK boss of Kuoni and chairman of ABTA Lifeline, on why the fight against rogue traders affects the entire industry


aving just returned from a wonderful week’s holiday in Cyprus, I’m reminded why those of us in travel do what we do. It was everything a family break should be, filled with glorious sunsets, long lazy suppers and hours of family time in the swimming pool. Selling holidays is unlike any other retail business. We’re trusted with people’s hard-earned money to make their precious few weeks as magical as they imagine. While John Lewis has beds to bounce on and televisions to test, our skill is to bring the intangible to life with knowledge, conversation and imagination. And, as those of us in the travel trade know, when it comes to converting that beautiful and inspiring holiday proposal into a sale, trust plays such a vital part of relationships with customers. Today’s travel landscape is more complex and competitive than ever before, with online players sitting alongside long-established brands all jostling for customers’ attention, and the ABTA membership now reflects that diversity. While my own holiday was everything it should have been, I was reminded by a new ABTA report that there are many unsavoury characters only too willing to turn your dream holiday into a nightmare. A new fraud campaign, launched in partnership with the City of London Police and Get Safe Online, generated some alarming headlines. Last year, a whopping £6.7 million was stolen from 4,700 unsuspecting holidaymakers (see p29). From airline tickets to holiday villas, the scale is pretty shocking, with the average amount lost per person now more than

£1,500: a 25 per cent increase on the previous year. That’s a lot of money in anyone’s book, but the emotional impact of having a long-awaited break ruined can be even worse. The impact can be severe and this is a crime that should not go unreported. Throughout my career in travel, the ABTA brand has been a reassuring constant. In consumers’ eyes, it’s recognisable as a trusted safety net that gives customers the confidence to book.

‘Last year, £6.7 million was stolen from 4,700 unsuspecting holidaymakers’ Having recently joined the ABTA board, I’m proud to represent one of the UK’s most recognisable trade associations and a brand that stands for quality, high standards and reassurance. While travel is highly competitive, there are some issues that it’s in our interests to share and ABTA is a brilliant forum to do that. As our industry becomes more sophisticated, sadly so too do the scams, and nobody is immune to being drawn in. It is in our interests to have these horror stories heard: not only to raise awareness but to champion the benefits of being part of a recognised trade association.

May 2018 21

ABTA Magazine

Miles Morgan Owner of Miles Morgan Travel

Sam Ballard finds out how one industry veteran is thriving on the high street


e’ve all heard scare stories about the imminent death of independent book shops and record stores, unwilling victims of the rapacious internet. Some people have also added high-street travel agencies to this list – but according to Miles Morgan, owner of Miles Morgan Travel, there is very little truth in this assertion – at least as far as travel agencies is concerned. The received wisdom is that these shops have been squeezed, consolidated and left facing a David versus Goliath battle for bucket-and-spade deals with the giant online agents (OTAs). But this is a gross oversimplification. To prove his point, Miles Morgan happens to own one of the fastest growing independent agencies in the country. “Last January was our biggest selling month, again,” Morgan explains. “We beat our record by a mile but there was no sale in our shops, there was no red in our windows. Nothing.” Morgan’s career to date is an interesting

one. After starting work at Bakers Dolphin, a chain of independent agencies based in the southwest, he moved over to Thomson after the travel giant bought up its smaller rival. A corporate career followed, with Morgan eventually working his way up to sales and marketing director for TUI – running the Lunn Poly brand and overseeing its rebranding to Thomson in the early 2000s. He left TUI and founded Miles Morgan Travel in 2006. The company now has a network of 15 shops dotted around the picturesque towns of southwest England and south Wales. “We fly against conventional wisdom,” Morgan says. “We started in 2006 just when the internet was started to ratchet up – people thought I was mad because ‘retail was dead’ and ‘the death of the high street’ etc – but we have had record sales every single year for 11 years. “What’s the magic formula? It’s to have brilliant people at the sharp end. My focus every year is to do a check of the crew. Who have I got in the company compared

to 12 months ago. Are we better? Every year the quality improves. We really do have sensational people.” This is a point that Morgan never fails to emphasise: local travel agencies are a people business. Following this philosophy creates agencies that become hubs of the community – as important as all of the other mainstays you find on the nation’s high streets. “If you go into my shop in Ross-onWye it is always full. But, I would say that the majority of people in there are not booking a holiday. It’s a community hub. Last time I was there a man came in, went

‘We beat our record by a mile but there was no red in our windows’

Pictured Left: Miles Morgan Travel in Portishead; above, inset: the shop in Taunton, both Somerset

22 May 2018

ABTA Magazine

‘The loyalty in our business isn’t to Miles Morgan Travel – it’s to Sue, or Jane’ upstairs and helped himself to a coffee. He was from the flower stall in the market. Nina, the manager, has created that kind of environment. Now, no-one in the area would dream of booking a holiday anywhere but in her shop.” Morgan likens his managers to small business owners, a philosophy of entrepreneurship that produces visibly different results to his much bigger competitors. At his agencies, staff turnover is lower, customer relationships are stronger and more holidays are booked. “The loyalty in our business isn’t to Miles Morgan Travel – it’s to Sue, or Jane. That’s where it sits. The company is the overarching thing but fundamentally it is all about the people at the coalface. It always has been and it always will be. “I no longer see Thomas Cook or TUI as competitors. They mainly sell their own stuff. If I go into a town and there’s a Cooks and a TUI, then that’s the best town I could go into because they don’t do what I do. We’re still a travel agent.” The success of Miles Morgan Travel rests on a simple business plan that Morgan says has remained unchanged since day one: to target retired and affluent clients and have shops in towns that match that demographic. With those customers in mind, Morgan has tailored a list of 55-60 preferred partners: operators who fit the mould. A smaller list means that his agents know the product, and both the sales reps and Morgan himself know that the level of service the operators provide will match his company’s standards. Operators have been dropped in the past for not coming up to scratch. “We have a directional sales policy,” Morgan adds. “Some holiday companies

struggle with us because they don’t understand what we’re about. We have a preferred list for cruise, long haul and short haul that we sell into and we work with those suppliers very closely. I can work with other companies but I might only do a handful of bookings with them. It’s a waste of our time but also we wouldn’t be important to that supplier. You can’t be everything to everyone. Decide your demographic and go for it.” It’s a plan that appears to be working. Morgan recently hired his first homeworker (a former Thomas Cook best seller) and has more store openings on the cards. “Are we going to expand? The answer is yes,” he adds. “But, are we going to expand hugely? No. I left Thomson because I was too far away from the coalface and from talking about holidays. It was very, very impersonal. Whatever people say about me, I am very personal. I know our people. I know their husbands, girlfriends, wives – and they know me. They trust me, I trust them and it works.” Morgan is also quick to say that it is not just Miles Morgan Travel that is succeeding, either. “The guys I speak to, who have businesses like mine, are all thriving,” he says. “Loads of high-street agents are opening shops – you look at the decline of retail, Toys R Us, Carpetright etc – and people think we’re mad. But, the decline of the high-street travel agent hasn’t really happened. “Those who succeed know their market well and know their town well. You have to set your stall out and relentlessly go for it.” It would appear that the death of the high-street travel agent may have been greatly exaggerated.

Staff at the heart When Miles Morgan says that his staff lie at the heart of everything he does, it isn’t just an empty slogan. Part of his approach is to reward those staff who go the extra mile. “One of our agents might have always wanted to go to Burma,” he explains. “Well, I tell them to put a tour on and be the escort. We really encourage that. They just need to book a group – it doesn’t have to be huge, just 10 or 12 – then they can go. It’s an amazing opportunity for them and a great incentive.”

May 2018 23


Building bridges to success More British clients choose Riviera Travel for overseas escorted tours and European river cruises than any of its competitors. Here’s why


s a British company, Riviera Travel designs tours and river cruises with the requirements of the UK traveller at the forefront of everything it does. This is why more British clients choose the company for overseas escorted tours and European river cruises than any of its competitors.


The company’s touring holidays include handpicked hotels, which are inspected in person by a member of the product team. Direct flights from up to 15 regional UK airports are available and itineraries offer a balance of organised excursions and free time to explore the destinations or simply relax. Each port of call is brought

24 May 2018

to life by a tour manager who shares their passion and knowledge for the destination with clients; from the local history and traditions to the best way to get around during free time.


Riviera Travel’s river cruises are operated on one of the youngest fleets of state-ofthe-art river cruise ships. Ten new five-star ships have been built for the company over the past five years and two more will be launched next year. Offering attractive pricing for a premium river cruise, the company is proud to be one of only three river-cruise providers to receive the coveted Which? Recommended Provider award for river

ABTA Promotion Magazine

Pictured: Left, Puente Nuevo in Spain, where the company offers itineraries. Right, a deluxe balcony suite on the MS Emily Bronte. Below, a fam trip in India

cruising this year. It is also the current holder of Which? Magazine’s Travel Brand of the Year.


Riviera Travel continues to see very strong growth from its agent partners. This is due to a number of factors including a growing brand profile with adverts on primetime TV. This has had a positive effect on clients new to the brand, who after viewing the ads, visit their local high street agent (or call their favourite home-worker) and request more details on Riviera Travel river cruises and tours. It is almost six years since the company started selling through UK independent agents. During this time, it has worked hard to educate agents on the overseas escorted tours and river-cruise products. This has included branch visits across the country, face-to-face and online training, webinars and roadshows. Of course, the best way to showcase the product is for agents to experience it for themselves. Over the past five years the company has taken about 200 agents to Cologne on day trips for a tour of one the new ships. In addition to this, it has taken ships (most recently the MS Emily Bronte) to the annual Clia river cruise convention where agents have been able to enjoy all of the fine facilities and service onboard.


Last year it took a group of agents to India to experience one of the many tours it offers on the subcontinent. The company is currently running an incentive for agents to join them on its next Great India Fam Trip this September. Details of how to enter can be found on Riviera Travel’s agent group on Facebook. In addition to the training, ship visits and fam trips, the company has an agency sales team who have built up valuable relationships with agents. The team works with agents on client presentations, holiday shows, in-store promotions, and also seeks out marketing opportunities to support them. These opportunities depend on the individual agents’ strengths; some do particularly well with Facebook advertising, for others it’s direct marketing pieces or database magazines.


The number of independent travel agents the company works with


Customers have booked through a travel agent since 2012


The number of unique itineraries on offer for 2018 and 2019


Of passengers book to celebrate a major birthday


May 2018 25


Pack your trunk for Sri Lanka

Saga will take care of everything as your clients enjoy the elephants


rom door-to-door transfers to comprehensive travel insurance, there’s a reason why a holiday with Saga is the trip of a lifetime, every time. Take the 13-night Sri Lankan adventure, one of Saga’s most popular tours for solo passengers. Their VIP service will pick your client up at home, take them to the airport (with flights included) and make sure they are greeted in Sri Lanka by a Saga representative. Knowing that the logistics are taken care of is such a weight off your client’s mind – allowing them to concentrate on enjoying one of the most enthralling countries in the world. The key to Saga’s success is its generous nature; they go above and beyond. In Colombo, the capital of Sri Lanka, they take guests on a guided tour of the city to help them get to know the thriving metropolis where they’ll find ancient temples and skyscrapers. From Colombo they will head north to Habarana,

26 May 2018

where guests stay in the evocatively named Cinnamon Lodge, which is an organic farm; and then they are whisked off to Kandy – a city that sits on a plateau, surrounded by mountains and tea plantations. When you think of Sri Lanka, in all its lush, green glory, this is it.


However, the highlight of any trip to Sri Lanka is the chance to see the country’s elephants. With Saga, there are trips to the Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage and Yala National Park, where hundreds of the animals roam across almost 1,000 square km of parkland. It’s an unbelievable experience and one that your clients will never forget. Saga is the perfect option for those travelling solo. They’re highly experienced in looking after your clients – whether they want to meet other solo travellers or would rather just do their own thing. They know that every traveller is different.

Thought you couldn’t buy peace of mind? Think again. To book, call FREE on 0800 074 8021 or visit

What’s included? The following is included in the Sri Lankan Adventure: • 12 nights in hotels and one in flight • 12 breakfasts, six lunches and 12 dinners • VIP door-to-door transfers • Optional travel insurance • Return flights and transfers • Saga tour manager • Welcome drink reception • Selected excursions, including Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage

ABTA Magazine

ABTA news May 2018

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

Join ABTA in Seville The Travel Convention offers an insight into the sector in one of Spain’s most beautiful cities By ABTA The 2018 Travel Convention will take place from October 8-10 in Seville, and discounted early bird registration fees for ABTA’s flagship event are now available via the Convention website Seville currently occupies Lonely Planet’s coveted number one spot in their ‘Best in Travel 2018 – Top cities’ list, and the Convention will take place in the conference facility of the five-star Barceló Sevilla Renacimiento, where the majority of delegate will be staying for the event. Welcoming senior professionals spanning the full breadth of mainstream and specialist travel as well as service providers and media, UK travel’s most forward-looking conference continues to develop each year to ensure its value and relevancy for delegates. It will again feature a three-day programme of events designed to inspire, educate and facilitate networking amongst travel industry colleagues. The business sessions will focus on the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead, providing delegates with tips and insights designed to help them shape the travel industry of tomorrow, rather than be shaped by it. The Convention will also feature hosted lunches, evening parties, Convention bars and social and sightseeing opportunities. Excursions designed to showcase the cultural and natural heritage

of the region will be available on the main delegate arrival day, with business meetings closing no later than 3.30pm to provide everyone with the opportunity to explore in their own time. It will also feature a Golf Tournament, Football Match and ‘Ride for Your LifeLine’, a fundraising bike ride through Seville in aid of ABTA’s charitable trust. A number of airlines operate direct flights from the UK to Seville’s San Pablo airport, and delegates are encouraged to make their flight arrangements as soon as possible to secure the best airfares. While the Barceló Sevilla Renacimiento will accommodate the majority of delegates, additional delegate accommodation is available at the brand new Eurostars Torre Sevilla.

At a glance • • • • •

The Travel Convention 2018 will be held at the Barceló Sevilla Renacimiento from October 8-10, 2018 Registration is now open; early bird offer available until May 25 Business sessions will be held at the Barceló Sevilla Renacimiento’s internal conference centre Accommodation is available at the Barceló Sevilla Renacimiento and the Eurostars Torre Sevilla, on a bed and breakfast basis For regular updates and to register, visit

May 2018 27

ABTA Magazine

In the know with the FCO ABTA offers members new training on Foreign & Commonwealth Office advice By ABTA

Putting a stop to false sickness claims Government to close legal loophole after it was highlighted by ABTA and its Members By ABTA Holiday sickness fraudsters were dealt a blow last month when the government gave the go-ahead to new rules to bring pay-outs under control, after ABTA’s Stop Sickness Scams campaign and its Members highlighted the issue. The new rules will limit the legal costs that can be claimed for package holiday sickness claims, closing a loophole which the travel industry believes has helped fuel a rising number of claims. They will come into effect in the coming weeks, ensuring the curbs will be in place before the summer season. Up to now, legal costs in overseas package travel claims have not been controlled, which has meant that costs for tour operators can spiral out of all proportion to the damages claimed. This had led many operators to settle holiday sickness claims out of court, rather than challenge them. Industry experts believe this has been a major factor in a rise in claims, which has sparked concerns that Britain’s reputation overseas is being damaged and that British tourists will face higher package holiday prices. ABTA Chief Executive Mark Tanzer said: “False sickness claims have been costing the travel industry tens of millions of pounds and damaging British tourists’ reputation abroad. “Since 2013, legal fees for personal injury claims which occurred in the UK have been capped, which is why in partnership with claims management companies, firms of solicitors have been targeting customers who have taken an overseas all-inclusive package holiday. This has contributed to a 500 per cent increase in sickness claims at a time when actual incidents reported by customers in resort have either remained stable or declined. “We are pleased that the Ministry of Justice has responded to the concerns and evidence raised by ABTA and our members, by taking firm action on this issue. Closing the legal loophole before the summer should lead to a reduction in the number of false claims. We encourage the Government to keep this matter under review and continue to pursue a ban on cold calling by claims management companies in relation to sickness claims.” Justice Minister Rory Stewart said: “Claiming compensation for being sick on holiday, when you haven’t been, is fraud. This damages the industry and risks driving up costs for holidaymakers. This behaviour also tarnishes the reputation of British people abroad. That is why we are introducing measures to crack down on those who engage in this dishonest practice.”

28 May 2018

ABTA has launched a new online course to help members guide customers through advice from the Foreign & Commonwealth Office. The course was developed after members asked how and when they should raise the matter of FCO travel advice, and how to respond to difficult questions customers sometimes have about their destination. The advice deals with crime, terrorism, disease and extreme weather, as well as visa requirements, tips on local customs, and how to get help when abroad. Some 225 countries and territories are covered, and in the most serious cases officials will warn travellers not to visit a country or region at all (see page 50). The FCO module is the second course on ABTA’s

Knowledge Zone which members can access through ABTA’s education and careers hub or at abtaknowledgezone. Nikki White, ABTA director of destinations and sustainability, said: “We hope this training will help members confidently steer their customers towards FCO advice.” Sarah Kingsbury, Head of Customer Operations at Virgin Holidays, an ABTA Member, commented: “Members of our team tested this training and were impressed by the practical elements, particularly how to answer challenging questions.” Philippa Makepeace, head of consular assistance at the FCO, said: “We’re delighted ABTA have produced these practical guidelines. We hope they support the travel industry in helping customers make informed decisions.”

Supporting human rights ABTA helps the industry tackle exploitative working conditions and protect children By ABTA ABTA has signed up to the Roundtable for Human Rights in Tourism, an alliance of civil society organisations, tour operators and travel associations to guard against abuses in the industry. Under the Modern Slavery Act 2015, large companies can be quizzed on their efforts to eradicate slavery from their supply chain. ABTA is supporting its members to enforce human rights in their operations, preventing exploitative working conditions and discrimination. This is in line with its wider approach to

sustainability and destination management. ABTA is also launching an updated version of “Every child, everywhere”, an online tool to help the travel industry to protect children. The training was developed with the British branch of Every Child Protected Against Trafficking (Ecpat). It is free to members on ABTA’s Knowledge Zone through the education and careers hub or direct at abta. com/abtaknowledgezone. Non-members can purchase the training tool for £29 per user via the website, with discounts for 10 or more.

ABTA Magazine magazine

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

Help! Do I have to get new consent from all of my customers? I’m the manager of an independent travel agency, and we’re working hard to ensure that we’re up to speed with the new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) coming into force. We’re a small team and the effort continues to drain resources as the implementation date of May 25 approaches. However, no matter how much I read, I’m still in the dark about one thing: can we continue marketing to our existing database or do we need to get in touch with each and every one of our clients to seek their consent? Does all the hard work that has gone into creating this database over years now count for nothing? E-marketing is a huge part of our business model, and losing swathes of our database could have a huge effect on sales. Anon

Unsurprisingly, GDPR has been a hot topic during the most recent round of ABTA regional meetings, and this has been one of the most common questions. Clearly, contacting everyone in your database would be extremely onerous and potentially damaging to your business, given that it could result in many people failing to opt in. Thankfully, there is a much more common-sense approach to this issue, acceptable under the current and future data protection regulations. From May 25, all marketing will be covered by the new rules under the GDPR, as well as the current rules under Privacy and Electronic Communication Regulations (PECR) for e-marketing, ie for email, phone and text marketing. For e-marketing you will continue to need specific consent to contact the potential customer. However, this consent can be obtained under the ‘soft opt-in’ where: you have obtained the customer’s details as a result of a previous sale of a holiday; the potential customer was given the chance to opt out of marketing at that stage and did not do so; the marketing relates to similar services, ie holidays; and the customer is given a clear way of opting out of future marketing. In addition to this, the GDPR rules provide that direct marketing may be carried out on the basis that this is a legitimate business interest of the company, as long as this does not override the interests of the data subject. This is likely to mean that, as long as the person’s details were obtained lawfully in the first place, and they were able to opt out of any marketing at that initial stage, (and as long as they are able to opt out of any future marketing), the sending of holiday offers is likely to be allowed as a legitimate business interest without needing further specific consent. Remember it is important to ensure that where the opt-out option has been exercised, the customer’s details are deleted from the database. Likewise, if there are doubts as to the details being obtained lawfully, or if it is not possible to identify and separate such detail from the database, then it may be necessary to seek new consent from everyone on the database. See for further information. Malati Parekh ABTA Solicitor

Got a question? Email:

May 2018 29

ABTA Magazine

Package Travel Regulations A

s an industry, we’ve been talking about the new Package Travel Regulations for some time now – indeed, we’ve had the actual directive for almost three years. But this summer finally sees its implementation, as travel businesses across the UK, and the rest of the EU, will need to comply when it comes into force on July 1. For some businesses, the changes will be minimal, but for others – particularly those who are about to take on new liabilities as package organisers – they will be very significant. It is essential that ABTA members understand what PTR means for their businesses and put in all of the necessary changes. In recent weeks we’ve heard more from the government and the Civil Aviation Authority about PTR. While the Package Travel Regulations have been laid before parliament, we are still waiting for the final details. But there is plenty that Members can do now to be ready. Travel businesses will need to review their business and sales processes to see if, under the new rules, they are classed as organisers. You will be classed as a package organiser under the new rules if you sell travel services that you have combined in any of the ways described by the new definition. Companies will also need to check whether they would be considered as providing a linked travel arrangement (LTA) under the new regulations. Flight-plus arrangements will generally be classed as either package holidays or LTAs. If you are used to selling flight-plus holidays then, depending on what and how you sell, it is important to

understand where your company sits: if you are organising packages you will be responsible for the performance of all parts of the package. Other changes cover the information that must be given to customers when they buy a holiday – including whether the trip is suitable for persons with reduced mobility. The level of charges for cancellations or amendments – which have to

It is essential that ABTA members understand what PTR means for their businesses be reasonable and you must be able to justify the amounts – are also dealt with, so too is providing refunds no later than 14 days after a package is cancelled. ABTA is working hard to make sure members understand what the final regulations mean for their businesses and the steps they need to take. Visit to find our 12-step guide on getting ready for PTR and much more.

Simon Bunce ABTA director of legal affairs

ABTA online The latest travel advice

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

30 May 2018

ABTA campaigns

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

ABTA Magazine

ABTA campaigns Make Holidays Greener

ABTA advice on travel fraud By ABTA

By ABTA ABTA will launch its 2018 Make Holidays Greener (MHG) campaign in partnership with Travelife for Hotels & Accommodations next month. The campaign will encourage holidaymakers and the industry to take positive social and environmental action. The theme this year is “say no to plastic”. Nikki White, ABTA director of destinations and sustainability, said: “This year the theme of ABTA’s Make Holidays Greener campaign in partnership with Travelife for Hotels & Accommodations is reducing plastic, with a focus on plastic bags. This is a significant and growing problem worldwide and it is estimated that eight million tonnes of plastic enters the ocean every year, which will take centuries to break down. “We are all becoming increasingly aware of the damage plastics have on the environment and this is a timely opportunity for the travel industry to build on the public interest and make a real difference to the environment by reducing plastics in holiday destinations. “We are seeing travel companies finding inspiring and innovative ways to replace or reduce plastic in resorts and ABTA would like to hear from you, no matter how small your actions are.” See and page 56.

ABTA, the City of London Police National Fraud Intelligence Bureau and Get Safe Online have joined forces to warn about the dangers of travel related fraud after 4,700 people lost £6.7 million in 2017. The most common scams relate to the sale of airline tickets (47 per cent) and accommodation booking (38 per cent). Other frequent targets include sports and religious trips and caravanning. Pauline Smith,director of Action Fraud, said: “The emotional impact of falling victim to holiday fraud is highlighted in the latest figures, as 575 people reported that the harm to them was so severe, they had to receive medical treatment.” Tony Neate, of Get Safe Online, said: “Holidays are one of the biggest purchases we’ll make each year so keep an eye out for tell-tale signs something isn’t right.” Mark Tanzer, ABTA chief executive, said: “Check and follow the tips and advice on and you will not fall victim to these unscrupulous individuals.” ABTA host a Cyber Security and Fraud in Travel seminar in London on June 20. See the website for details. ABTA Knowledge Zone

ABTA’s online training tools, which complement ABTA’s conference and events programme. See

Partner offers

ABTA Partners provide promotional offers, specialist helplines or free services to ABTA members. See partner-offers-listing

May 2018 31

ABTA Magazine

Events ABTA conferences and events deliver practical training for the travel industry. The aim? To keep the industry up to date on the most important, business critical issues, with a key focus on practical learning outcomes. Visit to see our upcoming events and register your place.

May 17 Delivering Customer Service Excellence, London This seminar explores how you can drive business growth and improve brand loyalty by delivering excellent customer service. This practical one-day seminar is tailored for those working in travel.

May 24

June 13

June 21

Advanced Travel Marketing Seminar, Manchester Practical guidance and insights for travel marketers to boost their brands and improve marketing campaigns. Hear how digital marketing techniques fit in with social media.

An Introduction to Crisis Management, London Ensure your business is prepared for a crisis situation. Whether it’s a security incident, natural disaster or illness outbreak, organisations must have a crisis management plan in place.

Solo Travel Conference, London Explore trends within the solo travel market to help develop a better understanding of this group. Expert speakers will discuss ways of connecting with the solo traveller and how to tailor holidays to them.

June 28

July 5

September 28

Advanced Complaints Management Seminar, London This advanced level seminar is designed for those responsible for developing and implementing their organisation’s complaints handling strategy. Take away top tips.

A Beginner’s Guide to Travel Law, London Understand what the new Package Travel and ATOL regulations mean for your business. What adjustments do you need to make and how will your liabilities change?

Advanced Social Media in Travel, London Discover how to use social media to set yourself apart from your competitors at ABTA’s first advanced level social media training seminar.

32 May 2018

Worldwide Cruise Collection 2019 on sale now! BUY ONE

• Scenic cruising holidays from 14 ports throughout the UK and Ireland • Traditional British cruise experience • Five smaller to mid-sized classic ships • Half price single offers • Discounts and free places for groups

Programme Highlights • Scottish Highlands, Islands & Lochs • Hidden Baltic Treasures • 75th D-Day Anniversary Cruise • Rouen Armada & River Seine • Arctic & Greenland Expedition • Canada in the Fall • Land of the Northern Lights






Marco Polo



Norwegian fjords – Baltic Cities – British Isles – Iceland – Canary Islands & Madeira – European Cities Short Breaks – Round the World Cruise – World Cruise Sectors – Grand Circle South America – Caribbean & Mexico – Trans Panama Voyages to/from Australia & New Zealand – Christmas & New Year and Festive Breaks

Book Online at: Call: 0844 414 6161 Agency Sales: 0844 414 6140 Brochures: Subject to availability. Terms & Conditions apply. *Book by 31st May 2018. Offers may be withdrawn without notice. Offered for sale in the UK by South Quay Travel & Leisure Ltd trading as Cruise & Maritime Voyages. ABTA V9945. ATOL 4619. Calls cost 5p per minute plus your telephone company’s access charge. 4223

ABTA Magazine

Whole new ball game Business Travel Report

Millennials will soon be the largest group of business travellers – but not before they reinvent the sector


en years ago, millennials (people born between the early 1980s and 1990s) were a small subset of the business travel market, but today they travel more for work than older generations. According to data from metasearch engine Hipmunk, 38 per cent of millennials travel for business, while just 23 per cent of Generation Xers and 8 per cent of Baby Boomers do. By 2020, Boston Consulting Group predicts millennials will represent half the global workforce and be responsible for 50 per cent of business travel spending. The influence the power of youth has had on the travel industry has been fascinating to observe, as companies

scramble to reinvent themselves in such a way as to appeal to this new consumer. In a fight to compete with the personal feel of sharing economy platforms such as Airbnb, almost every major hotel chain has launched a “lifestyle” brand: the Radisson Hotel Group has Radisson Red; Marriott has Moxy; Hyatt has Centric; and Shangri-La has Hotel Jen – all with trendy interiors, communal work/hangout space, free wifi, artisan coffee and affordable room rates. Gary Steffen, global head of another new lifestyle hotel brand, Canopy by Hilton, says: “Our brand promise is to deliver a ‘positively local experience’. Customers are looking for unique

by Jenny Southan, business travel editor hotels that are an extension of their neighbourhoods through architecture and design, food and drink, art and music. Canopy-branded bikes are also available free so people can explore. Our hotels are perfect for those who enjoy boutique-style hotels while benefitting from the Hilton Honors loyalty scheme.” So far Canopy has hotels in Reykjavik and Washington DC but another 30 are in the

VOICE OF THE MILLENNIAL Michael McDuffie Finlay, a 30-year-old freelance camera assistant “I like hotels to have good communal areas. A nice bar or a restaurant really makes a difference. I love staying in boutique hotels as they are laid-back and usually have a good aesthetic, but when backpacking I find hostels are a cheaper and sometimes a better option as you meet more people on your wavelength. In terms of business trips, last year

34 May 2018

I worked in Sierra Leone in East Africa for three weeks on a music documentary; before that I went to Paris and Santorini to film various events and commercials. If we get days off when working abroad I usually like to sample the local cuisine and culture – I find wandering around and discovering things for myself is the best way to do this. Usually,

if travelling with work, everything is booked for you so you rarely have a say in where you are or what you do unless you get some down days. Last year I went travelling through Central and South America for four months but usually I take mini-breaks in Europe for a few days at a time – the last few were to Amsterdam, Athens and Toulouse.”

ABTA Magazine

The headlines Qantas launches first nonstop flights from UK to Australia

Qantas launched nonstop ultra-long-haul flights between London and Perth on March 25. The 14,498km route is served B787-9 Dreamliners configured with economy, premium economy and business class seating. Qantas CEO Alan Joyce said: “When Qantas created the kangaroo route between London and Australia in 1947 it took four days and nine stops. Now it will take just 17 hours from Perth nonstop.”

BA expands face-scanning trials

pipeline including one in Zagreb and one in London. At the same time, a handful of forwardthinking airlines such as Norwegian and Level (from British Airway’s parent company IAG) have managed to target this demographic with low-cost long-haul flights, and even new hipster-orientated subsidiaries such as Joon from Air France. Launched last autumn, it now flies from Paris CDG to 14 destinations including Cairo, Cape Town, Mahé, Mumbai and Tehran. Crew are outfitted in fashionable white trainers, polo shirts and gilets, while snacks are organic and movies are streamed to personal devices. Just in the way that Joon announced it was aiming services at “young working clientele whose lifestyles revolve around digital technology,” other emerging companies have also tapped into the

British Airways has announced it is expanding trials of biometric boarding and arrivals gates at Los Angeles, Miami, New York JFK and Orlando airports. The technology uses facial recognition to allow people through without needing a member of staff to check boarding passes or passports. BA says it has managed to board about 240 passengers in ten minutes using the new system. At arrivals, customers using biometric gates don’t need to be fingerprinted, significantly reducing queues to exit.

Bulgari to open five-star Paris hotel Luxury brand Bulgari is to open its eighth hotel in 2020, in Paris. It will be located on Avenue George V and will feature 76 rooms and suites, a 25-metre pool, a spa, restaurant and bar. The Italian firm is also due to open an 82-room property in Shanghai this year and has already announced plans to open a 65-room hotel in Moscow in 2020.

Combining business with leisure

Most corporate travellers take at least one “bleisure” trip – combining business and leisure – every year, a survey has found. Egencia, a travel management company, found that 68 per cent of the 9,000 asked did so. Wendy White, Egencia’s vice president  of marketing, said: “With more companies today prioritising work-life balance, it may be time to start including bleisure in your travel programme.”

Longer wait for Russian visas

Russian officials have warned British applicants that a standard visa will take 20 days to process, up from six, and that expedited visa will take three days, following the tit-for-tat explusions of diplomatic staff. In March, the UK expelled 23 Russian diplomats after the Salisbury poisoning. The Kremlin responded by sending the same amount of British diplomats home.

May 2018 35

ABTA Magazine

Previous page, above: Lyf at Singapore Management University; below: a twin deluxe room at Canopy, Reykjavík; also right

shift in the way millennials combine business and leisure. “Work” and “life” are no longer independent entities that need to be balanced. We see this in the rise of private members’ clubs, especially in London, that have a mix of restaurants, bars, office space and hot desks, hotel rooms, gyms, spas, swimming pools and inspiring events programmes. Newer arrivals include Allbright (women-only), Mortimer House, the Devonshire Club, the Curtain Club and the revamped Soho House on Greek Street. Co-working spaces are also exploding – and evolving. Not only has US giant WeWork launched dozens of high-spec communal workspaces around the world for “digital nomads” but, more recently, unveiled a new concept called WeLive, which combines office facilities with apartments for both local residents and

travellers. This trend for “co-living”, as it is known, will likely be the next disruptive force within the hotel industry as a growing proportion of the population go freelance (by 2020, about half the US population are expected to be their own boss). Other co-living enterprises to look out for are Roam, the Collective and Lyf. Mindy Teo, vice-president for brand and marketing and digital Innovation at the Ascott Limited, which is opening its first Lyf property in Shenzhen, China, at the end of the year, says: “Lyf is a co-living brand designed and managed by millennials for millennials and the millennial-minded. It signifies a new way of living and collaborating as a community. “Each Lyf property will have a unique personality with fun and quirky design elements. We also strive to provide flexible

communal spaces that facilitate social activities – our kitchen and pantry can be used for networking and cooking classes, while a lobby can double up as a yoga space. Residents can hang out at the ‘Wash and Hang’ laundromat and play a round of table football while waiting for their laundry to be done.” Ascott’s target is to have 10,000 Lyf units across the world by 2020. In terms of the apartments, Teo says: “Groups can opt for the ‘All Together’ business suites, which have smart display screens for video-conferencing, while large tables double as collaborative working zones and dining areas. Instead of standard wardrobes, guests can hang their clothes on rails that suspend from the ceiling or put up a hammock for a lazy afternoon snooze.” It sounds like millennials have got the right idea.

Richard Stabbins, UK managing director for travel management company Hogg Robinson Group, which is to merge with American Express Global Business Travel in a £410m deal How long have you been a business traveller? I have been travelling on business for the last 20 years, and have been fortunate to have travelled to many parts of the world. My most frequent destinations over the last 12 months have been New York, Zurich, Glasgow and Barcelona.

Where have you travelled to recently?

My last trip was to our office in Edinburgh. It’s always good to spend time meeting with the team, sharing news and celebrating what’s gone well. It was also a great opportunity to meet with local clients and understand their perspectives.

How do you manage work on the road?

No two business travellers work on the road in the same way. For me, it’s about being prepared. I like to have all the information

36 May 2018

about my trip at my fingertips, which thanks to HRG Travel, our app, I can. Then it’s about opening the laptop and getting on with it.

What trends have you been observing?

Recently, we have seen changes in the way airlines sell inventory through unbundling and fare differentiation. We expect this to continue and further drive ancillary costs. We predict that clients will seek more transparency in understanding their total costs of travel and extend the coverage of their travel programmes to increase travel risk management.

ABTAMAG.COM is the new home of ABTA Magazine. The website hosts digital versions of the bi-monthly magazine, as well as additional news, comment, analysis and competitions. will also host ABTA Golf, the ABTA Magazine Guides and the ABTA Handbooks.

New beginnings

Travel industry insights / May 2018

After a difficult few years, Turkey, Tunisia and Egypt are back on the map for British travellers. Katherine Lawrey welcomes the return of old favourites

King of the north How Belfast became one of the world’s most exciting cities

ABTA Magazine

Generation game

Why business travel has been reshaped around the needs of millennials

Royal Caribbean

Waterslides, robotic barmen and the world’s largest cruise ships

ABTA Magazine A BTA





Turning the plastic tide


Sustainability guru Dr Catherine Wilson explains how the industry can cut plastic waste


n July 11, 1907, the chemist Leo Baekeland wrote in his diary: “unless I am very much mistaken, this invention will prove important in the future”. If anything, Baekeland, a pioneer of plastic, was underplaying his hand. Soon, plastic was king and today an estimated 300 million tons are produced each year – just 10 per cent of which is recycled. Production is expected to double in the next 20 years, but about 50 per cent of all plastics, from miniature hotel toiletries to disposable coffee cups, are used just once, sometimes only for a few seconds, and then thrown away without a second thought. The main benefit of plastic – its durability – has become its greatest environmental threat: a plastic bottle takes a whopping 450 years to decay. The result is an estimated eight million tons of plastic waste entering the ocean every year. Over time, the plastic degrades and fragments into microparticles, which absorb toxic chemicals in ever greater

Clare Jenkinson concentrations as they travel up the food chain, ending up on our dinner plates. Roughly 75 per cent of litter in the sea is plastic and this is having a direct impact on wildlife – from turtles suffocating on plastic bags and litter islands affecting ecosystems, to fish consuming fatal amounts of microparticles. With as much as 80 per cent of tourism connected to coastal areas, the impact of ocean plastic is a huge concern. Plastic waste is a visual eyesore, reducing beach use, wildlife sightings and well-being. The logical conclusion is fewer visitors, revenue and jobs. Sadly, travel and tourism is a major contributor to the problem. Between 2011-2013, researchers monitoring litter on 23 beaches across Sweden, Finland, Estonia and Latvia, found that an estimated 33 per cent of the waste was generated by leisure or tourism. More than half of this rubbish was plastic. It’s clear that plastic has become a global problem; no part of the world has been left untouched.

We spoke to ABTA’s senior destinations and sustainability manager, about the Better Places programme – and how businesses are using it to tackle plastics What is the Better Places programme?

It is a series of tools and guidance designed to help ABTA Members implement a sustainability approach or improve on their current sustainability performance.

What’s the thinking behind it?

ABTA believes sustainable tourism is essential for the industry’s long-term viability and profitability – and Better Places addresses the environmental, social and economic impacts of tourism. We’ve focused on the actions we know have a material impact and made the process simple.

How does this relate to plastics?

The programme helps Members adopt the sustainability policy that works for them and – as we know plastics is a hugely important topic for the industry – we can offer guidance and support on how businesses can address this issue in their wider policy.

What’s been your best achievement?

Thousands of employees in the travel sector have now been trained on child protection and accessible tourism. Also, in the past 18 months we’ve seen a significant increase in the number of Members engaging with the programme as sustainability rises up the agenda.

How can Members get involved?

Contact sustainable tourism@abta. or visit Better Places on the Member Zone for more information.

56 May 2018

May 2018 57 – available on desktop, phone and tablet

ABTA Magazine

Spotlight on

Royal Caribbean International As it launches the biggest cruise ship in the world, we ask Michael Bayley, the company’s chief executive: what is the key to its success?


e do fun extremely well,” Bayley tells ABTA Magazine at the launch of Symphony of the Seas. “We use words like adventure, excitement, experience, choice – all of those things capture the kind of experience that you can have on board a Royal Caribbean holiday.” In a sector not always known for its innovation, the brand has consistently sought industry firsts, be it the first climbing wall at sea, ice rink or, more recently, an adrenaline-fuelled ten-floor slide. It made a statement by becoming the first cruise line to strike up a partnership with Starbucks, so you can still get your

38 May 2018

favourite cappuccino while sailing in the Caribbean. If you fancy something a bit stronger, you can head to their Bionic Bar, where the cocktails are mixed and served by robot barmen. “If you look at our advertising, we use fast-moving images and vibrant music,” Bayley adds. “We try to capture the adrenaline and fun that customers will have on board. It’s not a place for a traditional afternoon tea with a butler.” Formed in 1968, Royal Caribbean International has enjoyed huge growth. Its first vessel, the Song of Norway, catered for a thousand passengers, weighing 23,000 gross tons. Launched in March, Symphony

FAST FACT The Ultimate Family Suite on board Symphony of the Seas is going to set the pace for Royal’s family offering (Gary Buchanan writes). The luxury accommodation – which was booked for $85,000 for Christmas week – sleeps up to eight people and includes a cinema. Royal will watch how families interact with the suite and incorporate elements of it into lower-grade accommodation.

ABTA Magazine

of the Seas, at 228,000 gross tons, is ten times the size, and can carry 6,600 passengers. Bayley has seen the company grow first-hand: he worked his way up to CEO and president from assistant purser – effectively an onboard accountant – with Nordic Prince, the company’s second ship, launched in 1971. The company now has a fleet of 25 ships, with another one to be added every year for the foreseeable future (see right). Amenities on board Symphony of the Seas include laser tag, where guests compete in a virtual shootout, and an escape room game, where they must solve puzzles to break out of a fictional spaceship. As night falls, the ship’s dazzling new light show features a swarm of drones. It’s a style of holiday that Royal’s own bosses know is not for everybody. Its largest vessels, the Oasis-class ships (which include Symphony, as well as Oasis, Allure and Harmony of the Seas) can each handle more than 6,000 guests, plus more than 2,000 staff. There are 19 places to eat, seven of them included in the price of the ticket, and a strip of garden called Central Park that sits between two accommodation towers. When there, you can easily forget that you’re even on board a cruise ship. The company argues that all of this innovation is doing more to attract the much sought after “new-to-cruise” customers, particularly families, to the sector than any of their competitors. One of the most talked about features on board Symphony of the Seas is the Ultimate Family Suite, which can sleep up

What does Royal Caribbean do better than anyone else?

We innovate as well as anyone. We go after a new audience as aggressively as anyone, which is good for the category. Ultimately we provide one of the best value propositions and best holidays a family can take. I think it’s hard for a family to have a better, more fun, holiday than an Oasis-class holiday in the Caribbean.

Why do you think Royal’s reward scheme for agents has proved such a success? When we launched it, Club Royal was unlike anything anyone had seen before: a card that we put money on for every booking. Most of the agents who earn money with us are using it to pay for lunch,

to eight guests and features a slide, hot tub, cinema and popcorn maker (see Fast Fact, opposite). While there is no doubt that there is a huge market for a more traditional cruise model, it is companies such as Royal Caribbean that act as a funnel for much of the industry’s new-to-cruise business. The same is true of the company’s wider stable: Royal sits alongside the more luxurious Celebrity Cruises and Azamara Club Cruises. Many of the large cruise lines own their own private islands, and Royal Carribean is no exception. Coco Cay in the Bahamas will soon be the subject of a $200 million overhaul. The idea, Bayley explains, is simple: more industry firsts. “We know everybody’s private islands. We’ve visited them all and have studies on what everybody has – and what they don’t have,” he explains. “We will have the largest wave pool in the Caribbean, the tallest waterslide in America, the largest fresh-water lagoon pool and a hot air balloon ride.” Guests will choose whether they want to “chill” or “thrill”, Bayley says. The result will be the company’s first “Perfect Day” resort, a concept which it will expand to sites in Australia and Asia, creating private hideaways tailored to their respective local market. “When you look at our competitors’ private destinations, although they have great experiences, they’re all in the same category,” Bayley says. “What we’re doing with Perfect Day is saying we’re leaving the category – we’re going to another place where we’re going to deliver a

groceries or coffees: general day-to-day stuff. We think it’s better than a points-based system.

How does Royal market to people who have never been on a cruise before?

Coming soon Spring 2019

Spectrum of the Seas (Quantum Ultra class) 4,180 passengers

Autumn 2020

TBC (Quantum class) 4,180 passengers

Spring 2021

TBC (Oasis class) 5,518 passengers


TBC (Icon class) 5,000 passengers

perfect day to a Caribbean customer.” There is little doubt that, with Bayley at the helm of Royal Caribbean, the company is going to continue its rapid expansion. However, as it continues to invest in land resorts, could Royal Caribbean ever start offering land-based holidays? No, the chief executive says. “The Perfect Day concept is the beginnings of ideas that we have but we will always be connected to who we are as a cruise brand,” he explains. “Our thing is the ocean, the sea and cruise. But as we develop Perfect Day and add more locations, that concept will evolve.”

Ben Bouldin UK managing director, Royal Caribbean

Our videos are an example. They have crazy music, they are bonkers and in-your-face. We’re trying to show people a new idea of how you holiday. I sense that we’re on the verge of a lot of people saying that they want to get onboard a cruise ship.

Why should the trade be excited about Symphony of the Seas?

Symphony will be the most Instagrammable ship of all time!

May 2018 39

ABTA Magazine

UK Holidays


The capital of Northern Ireland offers fine food and drink, unbeatable craic and a new quarter that celebrates its past as an industrial powerhouse. It is also a perfect base to explore the ancient scenery and castles made famous by Game of Thrones, Nicola Brady discovers


hen it comes to transformations, Belfast is unparalleled. In the space of a few decades, it has emerged from its past and established a reputation as a city of interesting bars, renowned restaurants and world-class attractions. Visitor numbers to Northern Ireland have been steadily increasing over the past few years, with the first nine months of 2017 seeing tourist revenue increase by 16 per cent to £747 million. And with Lonely Planet naming Belfast and the Causeway Coast as the number one region to visit in 2018, those figures are set to climb even higher.

40 May 2018

The accolade is more than warranted. In the Cathedral Quarter, Belfast’s charming central hub, each cobbled street seems to lead towards another lure, whether it’s a buzzing restaurant or a cosy little pub. Belfast is a city that does pubs well – think antique carved furniture, dim lights and, of course, a steady stream of Guinness (the Crown Liquor Saloon, with its carved-mahogany snugs and etchedglass, is one of the finest pubs you’ll find anywhere either side of the Irish Sea). It’s a fairly small city to navigate, so exploring is best done on foot. But it’s even better when a local is leading you around. Belfast Food Tours (tasteandtour.

Great hotels Budget

Just off Botanic Avenue, the Crescent Townhouse Hotel ( is a great budget option in a beautiful 19th century building. The area is filled with fab restaurants and bars, too.


The newly opened Titanic Hotel ( is perfect for anyone who wants to spend time in the Titanic Quarter, set in the old headquarters of Harland & Wolff.


Probably the most impressive five-star in the city, The Merchant Hotel ( is old school luxury at its finest, with an ornate décor and a killer cocktail bar.

ABTA Magazine When did G Adventures first start visiting Belfast?

The Discover Northern Ireland tour was first launched in 2016. We run a five-day tour taking travellers from Belfast to Dublin, showcasing Northern Ireland’s most jaw-dropping landscapes. Highlights include exploring the otherworldly Giant’s Causeway, the fairy-tale feel of the Dark Hedges forest and some of the historical distilleries and local pubs of Co Antrim.

The region is getting a lot of attention at the moment, why do you think that is?

Cheaper than Dublin and with the self-organised, short break style of travel on the rise, Belfast has become a popular and easy choice. Low-cost carriers make it accessible and it offers a good mix will take you around the city, dipping into the best places to eat. Tours tend to start in the beautifully grand St George’s Market, before heading into various shops, restaurants and pubs. They also offer a Belfast Gin Jaunt as well as a Whiskey Walk, with tastings at

Each cobbled street seems to lead towards another buzzing restaurant or cosy little pub different spots around the city. For those of an arty persuasion, a street art walking tour with Seedhead Arts ( is a must. The city is swathed with large-scale installations, and walking around with an artist gives a

of urban and natural scenery that is close enough to the city. Amazing nightlife and music festivals including top headliners have also put Belfast on the radar for younger travellers.

What is your favourite thing about the city?

Sofia Montezo product manager, Europe at G Adventures

There’s something for everyone. If you want history, check out the Titanic museum to learn the story of the famous ship, which was built in Belfast. Foodies will be surprised by the vast array of choices available, from fine dining to traditional pubs to some of the best fish & chips around.

Any recommendations?

Have a pint in Belfast’s oldest traditional pub, Kelly’s Cellars. It claims to serve the city’s best pint of Guinness.

valuable insight to the work (as well as the best ways to find them all). If you’d rather explore without pounding the pavement, then a Black Cab tour will guide you around Belfast and through its turbulent past. A ride with Touring Around Belfast ( weaves through the north and west of the city, past monuments such as the Peace Wall and the infamous murals, as the local driver explains The Troubles. Things are a little more high tech – though just as haunting – at Titanic Belfast ( It’s only been open since 2012, but the attraction has seen year-on-year growth, with more than 4.8 million passing through its doors so far. The building itself, designed to mirror the bows of ships, houses interactive exhibits telling the story of the fabled liner, which was built on this very spot. It’s a mightily impressive space – visitors travel on a ride through the


Left: Belfast City Hall from Donegall Place, the centre of the city’s shopping district. Below: The Titanic Quarter in the city’s docklands, with its visitor centre standing where the famous ocean liner was built between 1909 and 1911

May 2018 41

ABTA Magazine

The Giant’s Causeway is one of many unmissable sights on the Northern Irish coast

“dockyard” as coals glow, you can look out at the sea from behind a vibrating handrail, and see exact replicas of cabins. As you walk through a dark tunnel, illuminated with stars, the voices of survivors talk about their experiences on that fateful night. The tour finishes with an incredible screening of the wreckage, with footage playing below the glass floor underneath your feet.


The evolution of Titanic Belfast has seen a regeneration of a district, now home to brand new hotels and other attractions, like the SS Nomadic. But there’s another facet to the Titanic Quarter, one which isn’t accessible to visitors but draws rather a lot of attention.

The Titanic Studios have been the primary filming studio and headquarters for Game of Thrones since the series began. While the studios aren’t open for visitors, many of the filming locations used in the series are and have proved hugely popular with tourists. Drive out of the city and there are numerous spots where you can immerse yourself in the fantasy. Castle Ward in County Down was used for nine locations in all, with a 16th century castle doubling up as Winterfell. One of the most popular sights is the interwoven trees of the Dark Hedges, which became the King’s Road in the show. There are a few companies offering day tours around various spots, but the free Game of Thrones NI Locations app lists all of the sites both in their

actual and Westeros incarnations. Aside from the Game of Thrones connection, the Causeway Coast is a stunner in its own right. The Giant’s Causeway, a tangle of hexagonal columns peeking above the ocean, is one of the most striking sights you could ask for. A drive along the coast takes in some similarly gorgeous spots, like the Carricka-Rede Rope Bridge, the crumbling Dunluce Castle and the pretty village of Bushmills, home to the oldest working distillery in Ireland ( Here, you can tour the home of this famous whiskey, learning all about how it’s made, before settling in to a cosy tasting room for a snifter (or two) of the good stuff. It’s the perfect way to round off a taste of Northern Ireland.

Where to eat


If you’re after a quick bite, Coppi (coppi. is a dream. In a quiet square by St Anne’s Cathedral, this industrial-chic restaurant serves up bites with an Italian edge. Try the Cichetti – you’ll get three for £9 – which include dishes like feta fritters with truffle honey, duck ravioli and goat sliders.

42 May 2018


One of the hottest tables in town, The Muddler’s Club (themuddlersclubbelfast. com) is tiny, sleek and oh so cool. The cocktails are impeccable and the food is even better, with simple, local ingredients prepared with flair and panache.


No visit to Belfast is complete without a meal at OX ( With a Michelin star and a strong fanbase, you’ll need to book in advance (particularly at the weekend) but it’s more than worth the wait.

Smile all the stay in Bodrum.

Set exclusively on a private peninsula and staggered amidst landscaped gardens you’ll discover cutting-edge design, legendary LUX* service and high definition panoramas. MAURITIUS










In November 2018, Palladium Hotel Group will introduce a brand new development in Costa Mujeres. Located only 20 minutes north from the city of Cancun, in an ideal setting where the atmosphere changes completely, the exotic vegetation of its pristine beaches offers the exclusivity and tranquility that our guests deserve. There is a new destination waiting to be discovered. The new project will include a family-friendly property, the Grand Palladium Costa Mujeres Resort & Spa, and the adults-only TRS Coral Hotel, accompanied by a “Village” that includes a variety of restaurants, bars, kids clubs and an amphitheatre. RESORTS HIGHLIGHTS

670 rooms offering a wide range of services, ideal for families, couples and groups at Grand Palladium Costa Mujeres Resort & Spa It features Family Selection, an exclusive area of the hotel created especially for families with personalized services and premium products. 469 rooms exclusively for adults with a tranquil setting to rejuvenate and escape at TRS Coral Hotel Unique system of canals so guests can access all points of the resort by boat Discreet service tunnel network ensuring impeccable aesthetics and serenity Innovative construction set at three metres above sea level to take advantage of the dramatic landscape State-of-the-art 5.000m2 convention centre with capacity for 1,380 people World-class 15.550m2 Zentropia Palladium Spa & Wellness centre Palladium Hotel Group is proud to announce the incorporation of a Rafa Nadal Tennis Centre in November 2018 through its collaboration with the Rafa Nadal Academy by Movistar. International culinary experiences to suit every taste: nine restaurants at Grand Palladium Costa Mujeres Resort & Spa plus four á la carte restaurants at TRS Coral Hotel Four swimming pools, one of them exclusive for children An Ibiza style beach club with an infinity pool


Win the trip of your dreams in Costa Mujeres, Mexico To celebrate the launch of Palladium Hotel Group’s agent loyalty program ‘Palladium Connect’, ABTA Magazine is giving away 7 nights at either the family-friendly Grand Palladium Costa Mujeres Resort & Spa or the adults-only TRS Coral Hotel, two new luxury 5-star hotels opening in Mexico this November 2018. Palladium Connect rewards travel agents for their bookings and showcases the hotels within Palladium Hotel Group online with ‘Palladium Academy’. Agents can earn money, access various sales tools, take part in e-learning courses and keep track of their UK Palladium sales ranking (with monthly spot-prizes). Agents earn m oney by logging their bookings to any of the Palladium Hotel Group brands (direct, or via a tour operator or OTA), by posting reviews or by completing courses on Palladium Academy.


Follow these simple steps · Sign up on · Make your first booking

. Instantly earn £50 using promo code: ABTA-50 · Keep on booking and enjoy more benefits



ABTA Magazine

City Guide

Valletta Inside the Maltese capital’s historic walls, Abigail Blasi falls for the city’s café culture, fresh seafood, Baroque architecture and stunning views


he Maltese capital, Valletta, has emerged as the ideal city-break destination. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, it’s a beautiful city, tranquil enough to make wandering around and drinking outside at pavement cafés a blissed-out pleasure. Yet it’s also packed with splendid architecture, culture and museums, such as the state-of-the-art Malta at War Museum in Fort St Elmo, which recounts how the island has resisted would-be invaders from the Ottoman fleet through to the Nazis in the Second World War. Then there’s the beautiful St John’s Co-Cathedral with its huge altarpiece by Caravaggio; the open-air Opera House; and the magnificent Grand Master’s Palace. What’s more, the weather is consistently good, with more than 300 days of sunshine a year. Since Valletta’s construction by the Knights of Malta in the 16th century, Europe’s first planned city has always been a place of remarkable beauty. Set on a narrow peninsula, it is almost surrounded by peacock-blue sea. Tall baroque townhouses fronted by traditional Maltese covered glass and wood balconies, line narrow cobbled streets. The city lies alongside one of the world’s most magnificent natural

46 May 2018

harbours, so as well as enjoying the views, visitors can take boat trips across to the historic Three Cities, small towns that predate Valletta. However, this is not a city stuck in time. Cool architectural additions add contemporary style and there are yearround festivals from pop to baroque. Valletta, one of Europe’s smallest capitals, is eminently walkable so visitors don’t have to stress about taking public transport or tussle with traffic, allowing them to enjoy their precious few days away to the utmost. With frequent flights from all major UK airports, Malta’s Le Luqa airport is only a short hop away. Four hours after taking off visitors can be sipping a glass of wine in a city square, or lying back on a beach with a book. When travellers arrive there’s no lengthy and arduous trek from the airport, it’s less than a half hour trip by bus or by car.


Valletta’s buzz has been building over several years, in preparation for its role as 2018 European Capital of Culture. There has been a frenzy of renovation projects, museums given complete overhauls, and historic forts and piazzas cleaned up and reopened. On June 7 there is the Pageant of the Seas, where locals race each other

Operators Classic Collection Holidays

Offers five nights bed & breakfast at The Saint John, 19-room boutique hotel in Valletta from £1,069pp. Includes return flights and private transfers.

Cox & Kings

Offers a four-day, three-night stay at the Victoria Hotel near Valletta from £345. Includes hotel, flights, return private car transfers and breakfast.

Prestige Holidays

Offers five nights at the Hotel Phoenicia with breakfast from £924. Includes Air Malta flights from London Southend and private transfers.

ABTA Magazine

on specially designed vessels, before a light show with tall ships in the harbour as night falls. An arts festival runs from late June until July, and the programme winds down with a book festival in November. In recent years boutique hotels have opened in glorious heritage buildings in the city centre, offering accommodation for all budgets. Valletta’s gastronomic scene is also thriving as never before. Typical Maltese cuisine, including rabbit stew and aljotta (fish soup), has a strong Italian influence, but if you fancy Roman food head to Zero Sei trattoria near the Manoel Theatre, or sample seafood with a view at harbourside restaurants such as Scoglitti. The Malta Tourism Authority has launched the Gastro Trail, a way of exploring the islands through its cuisine, visiting cheese makers, vineyards, fine dining restaurants and more. There was a time when Valletta went to bed early, but the city’s nightlife

scene has also undergone a renaissance. Strait Street is a lane so narrow that neighbours could shake hands across it, and was once the notorious red light district, sailors’ first port of call when they landed in the harbour. The scene died once the British navy left, but the old bars along the street retained all their vintage signage. A few years ago they began to reopen as cool hole-in-the-wall bars, serving cocktails at their outdoor tables, and with regular concerts – from jazz to string quartets – out on the narrow street. Like the rest of Valletta, Strait Street has preserved its past, while embracing a new, vibrant present.


There are few city-break destinations where it’s so easy to go and explore other parts of the country in a few hours or a day trip as well. Sights around Valletta include prehistoric temples, such as the

Hal-Saflieni Hypogeum, which dates back to 3300 BC, earlier than the pyramids. There are also walled cities, natural seaswimming pools and coastal caves. Malta and Gozo, its neighbouring island, have some of the world’s finest scuba diving opportunities, with trips possible from Valletta itself. It’s a great place to learn diving, and there is plenty for experienced divers, including submerged wrecks from the Second World War, underwater sea cliffs and caverns.

Pictured Above: Maltese covered balconies. Below: The Dome of Our Lady of Mount Carmel overlooks the habour

May May2018 2018 47

ABTA Magazine

New beginnings 48 May 2018

ABTA Magazine

Trade in Turkey, Egypt and Tunisia has suffered in recent years, but as Katherine Lawrey explains, British travellers are returning in droves


uaranteed sunshine, varied cultures and great value have drawn British holidaymakers to Turkey, Egypt and Tunisia for decades. All three have had a challenging ride since 2015, when terrorist attacks or political unrest triggered Foreign Office warnings and tourist numbers fell. After a low point in 2016, trade began to pick up last year and, barring any major incidents, this summer should see all three grow their share of overseas travellers.


The Turkish coastline offers golden beaches, day trips into the mountains and resort cities with buzzing nightlife and bazaars. Flights to Antalya, Bodrum and Dalaman access the Turquoise Coast, while Izmir is the gateway to the Aegean

Coast and Ephesus, one of the ancient world’s greatest cities. This is without mentioning glittering Istanbul, the only city in the world to span two continents. None are covered by the Foreign Office advice which warns against travel only to areas near the Syrian border. For the rest of Turkey, tourists are advised to carry their passport and visa ready for ID checks, which have increased since a failed coup in 2016. After a high of 2.5 million in 2014, UK arrivals to Turkey fell to about 1.7 million in 2016. There were signs of recovery in 2017, with almost 1.8 million UK arrivals. Recent figures from market research company GfK show UK bookings to Turkey up 80 per cent year on year. The Foreign Office warns about the high terrorist threat in Turkey in common with

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Previous page: the Blue Mosque in Istanbul Above: Marmaris on Turkey’s turquoise coast, which offers hundreds of miles of sun, sea and sand

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many other destinations, such as France and Germany, but acknowledges the Turkish government has tightened security. After the fall in sterling, UK tour operators have seized the opportunity of adding thousands of extra flight seats to Turkey, where accommodation is plentiful and cheap. With these factors combined, Turkey is expected to see the biggest bounce. Chris Mottershead, Thomas Cook’s UK managing director, says: “It’s still early days but Turkey, Egypt and Tunisia are selling well in the UK. We’re anticipating bookings to Turkey for this summer to get close to 2015 levels. Turkey appeals to those who are looking for good value and high quality. Interestingly, it has a higher rebook rate than any of our main-market destinations.” It’s a similar story at Classic Collection Holidays. Gary Boyer, head of purchasing, says: “Combined actual sales across all seasons currently on sale – summer 2018 and winter 18/19 – sees Turkey ahead by 67 per cent. “It’s the most encouraging statistic that we’ve had for some time, and a sign that there is significant renewed demand for the destination,” he adds. “We have continued to promote Turkey via the travel trade – 90 per cent of our sales are through the trade – with our dedicated Turkey brochure for 2018.”

The adventure travel market is also showing signs of recovery, with both G Adventures and Intrepid reporting that forward bookings have increased by at least 100 per cent year-on-year. Intrepid has six dedicated touring itineraries in Turkey, plus a family holiday for teenagers in laid-back beachside Fethiye. Jenny Gray, product manager of Africa and the Middle East, Intrepid says: “Turkey has stunning coastlines, treasure troves of ruins and cosmopolitan cities that contrast with the ancient landscapes and hidden bazaars. It’s a destination that has much to be explored on an affordable budget and travellers are becoming ever more curious to see what it has to offer.” G Adventures has a 15-day Absolute Turkey itinerary and a 12-day Multisport itinerary, with Brian Young, managing director, Europe, Middle East and Africa declaring that Turkey poses stiff competition for many adventure travel destinations. “Turkey has amazing adventure travel potential and we have been offering active tours there since 2014,” he says. “Activities such as hiking in Cappadoccia or the Lycian trails as well as cycling and kayaking are perfect for UK travellers looking for a more active trip with a shorter flight time.”

ABTA Magazine

Room to grow

There is pent-up demand for travel to Egypt. Should the travel advice change, the tourist numbers will return in force and there will be plenty of accommodation available for them








Ramblers Holidays halted its Turkish programme last year due to the political situation and low demand. But product manager Gemma Higgs says she had no hesitation in returning to the scenic Lycian Way trail on the Mediterranean coast this year. “Turkey’s genuine warm hospitality has an enduring appeal for visitors. It’s also such a varied and beautiful country. Our Turkish partner gives me regular updates on the ground and he has confirmed that tourists are returning in good numbers, to enjoy a safe, trouble-free holiday.”


The recovery in tourism is more patchy in Egypt, but the signs are still positive. From a high of almost 920,000 in 2014, Egypt’s UK arrivals fell to about 230,000 in 2016. Last year saw the green shoots of recovery, with almost 320,000 arrivals. And the first two months of this year saw an increase of 39 per cent on the same period last year. It’s not surprising that Brits are keen to return to the year-round sunshine of the Red Sea resorts, to dive and snorkel on the coral reefs and sunbathe on the thousands of kilometres of beautiful white sand beaches. Although the Foreign Office continues to advise against all but essential travel to Sharm el Sheikh airport, Classic Collection





reports that Egypt bookings are up by 65 per cent but notes that the market share is smaller than Turkey. Boyer adds, “Should the travel advice to Sharm el Sheikh change, that would help immensely with sales to Egypt as there is pent-up demand. If Sharm airport were to come back on sale, we would be able to turn around a dedicated Egypt brochure quickly enough and distribute to the trade to meet demand.” However, airlines including EasyJet, Thomas Cook and Tui still operate regular services from the UK to Egypt, with the weekly frequency increasing from 18 to 25 flights this summer. All three airlines fly to the beachfront city of Hurghada, while airlift to the up-and-coming Marsa Alam resort town has increased with Thomas Cook launching flights from Gatwick and Birmingham, joining an existing Tui service from Gatwick. Hurghada takes centre stage in the Egypt Tourism Authority’s 2018 UK advertising campaign, with directors believing the well-established, lively resort holds the key to rejuvenating the market. Amr El Ezabi, UK & Ireland director for the Egyptian Tourism Authority, says: “Hurghada still needs more awareness but we believe the British market can easily double in capacity there. Just like Sharm,

it has sunshine, clean beaches, a wide range of dining options, and activities for every type of tourist.” Egypt has a strong hotel pipeline (see above), which includes the opening of Africa’s first Waldorf Astoria and Egypt’s first St Regis property, demonstrating a renewed confidence. Plus the highly anticipated opening of the Grand Egyptian Museum at the end of this year will give a boost to Cairo.

‘Turkey’s genuine warm hospitality has an enduring appeal for visitors. It’s also a beautiful country’ Cruising on the river Nile – with its abundance of ancient history and culture, front-row seats for watching local life unfold on the river bank, and its stunning sunsets – is also on its way back. Before 2011, more than 300 boats were operating on the Nile, but many operators either withdrew from the river or cut back their sailings after the Arab Spring brought unrest to the country.

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“Today, there are more than 200 boats on the Nile again,” says Philip Breckner, commercial director of Discover Egypt, which was one of the few operators to remain on the river with a more limited programme. “We are seeing a sharp increase in demand for Egypt, particularly on the classical side, and we have doubled the frequency of our sailings this year, with a selection of four boats on offer for seven-night cruises from Luxor to Aswan, full-board, with excursions included.” He notes renewed confidence in customers looking to book Egypt. “Until six months ago, the most common question we fielded was: “Is it safe?’ But Egypt has dropped off the news agenda, and customers are more savvy now. They realise there’s as much chance of a terrorist attack in Paris, Brussels or London as in Egypt.”

‘We’ll see a rush for Tunisia and are confident 2019 will be a good year ’


Of the three, Tunisia has had the furthest to travel to regain its position because of the prolonged Foreign Office ban – but again, the winning combination of sandy beaches, camel rides, desert dunes, and spice-filled souks, combined with warm hospitality is a powerful call for the British market. In 2014 a record number of 420,000 UK visitors travelled to Tunisia. However, following the devastating terrorist attack and loss of life in the resort of Sousse and subsequent change to Foreign Office advice, these numbers fell significantly. The advice against travel was lifted in July 2017, and Thomas Cook was the first UK tour operator to relaunch its programme to Tunisia with the first flights departing in February 2018. Tunisian specialist Just Sunshine says the 2015 terror attacks had a massive impact on business. “A big chunk had gone,” says Can Deniz, managing director. “We diverted business to Turkey and invested in new destinations, but we had to cut back our expenses in order to survive.” Just Sunshine offers all the main Mediterranean resorts – Tunis, Hammamet, Port El Kantaoui, Skanes, Mahdia, Gammarth, Yasmine, Sousse, Monastir and Djerba – and business


Left: The pyramids at Giza are still a huge draw for historically minded tourists. Right: Snorkelling in the Red Sea, whose resorts include Hurghada and the up-and-coming Marsa Alam

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ABTA Magazine

is slowly starting to return, but Deniz predicts the recovery will be gradual until the lates market kicks in. “Availability will be tight in Greece, Spain and Portugal and those prices will only go up. That’s when we’ll see a rush for Tunisia that will kickstart the trend, and then we are confident 2019 will be a good year. “Tunisia has so much going for it. It’s only two and a half hours flying time from the UK, the cost of living is very cheap, it’s full of history and culture and the people are so eager to have the Brits back.” Wahida Jaiet, UK & Ireland director of the Tunisian National Tourist Office, agrees the country is delighted to welcome British tourists back to Tunisia: “I am fully aware of the challenge which faces us in 2018, but I can reassure our travel trade partners that we are fully prepared for it,” he says. “We are looking forward to working with them to re-establish Tunisia’s position in the UK market as a welcoming destination for British tourists. “I don’t see 2018 as being about achieving a specific target or number of tourists. It is more about reminding our British friends just how much Tunisia has to offer. I am delighted that the season has got off to such a positive start.”

Tunisian holidays Just Sunshine

Seven nights at the three-star El Mouradi Club Selima located on the beachfront in Tunisia’s Port El Kantaoui, all-inclusive from £476 per person, departing from Newcastle on June 19. The price is based on two adults sharing and includes flights and transfers.

Thomas Cook

Seven nights at the four-star Sentido Phenicia in Hammamet, on an all-inclusive basis, from £535 per person departing from Manchester on June 1. The price is based on two adults sharing and includes flights available from 11 UK airports and transfers.


Seven nights at Tui Magic Life Africana, Hammamet on an allinclusive basis from £626 per person. The price is based on two adults and two children sharing and includes flights from Birmingham airport on September 14 and transfers.

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Eco-friendly paradise

The Seychelles is known for its plush resorts, but it’s working hard to preserve the environment of its 115 islands, making it ideal for eco-tourists


he Seychelles is well-established as an idyllic tourist spot, with its resorts, boutique properties, beaches, and as a popular choice for weddings and honeymoons. However, your clients may not know that it is also an exciting destination for the more ‘outdoors’ type of visitor seeking nature and activity. Containing a huge variety of flora and fauna, a high proportion of endemic species and almost 50 per cent of its limited landmass set aside as national parks and reserves, the destination has retained emphasis on preserving the natural environment and is a paradise for naturalists, ornithologists and eco-tourists.


The country’s 115 islands – which are located off the east coast of Africa in the western Indian Ocean – offer exotic diversity and variety. Each one has its individual geography and character

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extending from granite boulders to coral reefs, from untouched forests and bird sanctuaries to private resorts and hideaways, giving the visitor a choice of unspoiled venues. This extraordinary biodiversity can be discovered on its extensive network of guided walks and trails as well as in its national parks. The islands are also home to two Unesco World Heritage Sites: the Vallée de Mai on Praslin where the wondrously shaped Coco-de-mer nut grows and the fabled Aldabra, the world’s largest raised coral atoll, first seen by early Arab seafarers of the 9th century AD. There are myriad dive sites, such as the famous Ennerdale wreck and Brissare Rocks, as well as lesser known, more remote areas. This living aquarium enjoys comfortable year-round temperatures of between 24C and 30C and lies outside the cyclone belt. Over recent years the tourist office has developed promotions such as the

‘Wonders of Seychelles’, to reflect its dedication to conservation, while its tourism slogan, ‘The Seychelles Islands... another world’, encapsulates the concept that the Seychelles remains one of the most environmentally-intact destinations with only 130,000 visitors a year.


The tourist office has also been working with organisations such as WiseOceans, GVI Seychelles and the Marine Conservation Society Seychelles on various conservation projects as well as with local hotels on activities such as prohibiting motorised water sports in order to enable coral regeneration. For more on how to educate your clients about this alternative side to the Seychelles and help them choose the ideal outdoors, eco-tourism holiday to fully appreciate the biodiversity on offer, visit


Luxury that doesn’t cost the earth

The beautiful Hilton Seychelles Labriz Resort & Spa is taking steps to reduce plastic by implementing an innovative new water project


he Seychelles has a growing reputation as one of the world’s great eco-tourism destinations. And now, Hilton guests can rest assured that they are doing their bit to help the environment. The Hilton Seychelles Labriz Resort & Spa, on Silhouette Island, has announced a new initiative that aims to reduce the amount of plastic being used with a new water policy. To ensure maximum impact, the project will have a two-pronged approach: removing plastic bottles from the resorts and replacing with glass and carbon bottles, along with eliminating the use of plastic straws in exchange for biodegradable, plant-based straws. This initiative stems from Hilton Seychelles’ aim to have a positive impact on the surrounding environment and protect and preserve the island’s underwater flora and coral reef. In February 2018, Hilton Seychelles Labriz Resort & Spa began bottling its own water, taken from

the source of Mount Dauban, which is the largest peak on Silhouette Island and the second largest in the archipelago. This stops the need for water to be imported onto the island, thereby reducing pollution levels. The water is then filtered before being served throughout the resort in glass bottles, which are sanitised and reused. In the coming months, it will also be shipped to Labriz’s sister resorts, Hilton Seychelles Northolme Resort & Spa, and Doubletree Allamanda Resort & Spa, to ensure an eco-friendly atmosphere across the archipelago. Guests will find glass bottles with still and sparkling water in their rooms and in all restaurants and bars throughout the resort. Hilton Seychelles is also offering carbon bottles at a small fee, which guests can use throughout their stay, refilling at pods distributed across the resort, before taking it home with them for future use. With responsible tourism on the rise and travellers choosing hotels

and destinations based on their environmental policies and initiatives, it has never been more important for the travel industry to take steps to protect the environment and ensure they have a positive impact on their surroundings. Andre Borg, general manager, said: “Labriz Resort & Spa is fortunate to be the only resort on Silhouette Island, which is the third largest island here in the Seychelles. With 93 per cent of it covered by national parks, and as host to the largest marine park in the country, it is our duty to preserve this incredible eco-system for future generations to ensure they have access to this incredible gift of nature.” Hilton Seychelles Labriz Resort & Spa The hotel is a 45-minute boat trip or scenic 15-minute helicopter ride from Mahé, where the country’s main airport is located. Prices start from £275 in a King Garden Villa per night on a B&B basis. See or call +248 429 3949

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ABTA Magazine

Turning the plastic tide

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ABTA Magazine

Sustainability guru Dr Catherine Wilson explains how the industry can cut plastic waste


n July 11, 1907, the chemist Leo Baekeland wrote in his diary: “unless I am very much mistaken, this invention will prove important in the future”. If anything, Baekeland, a pioneer of plastic, was underplaying his hand. Soon, plastic was king and today an estimated 300 million tons are produced each year – just 10 per cent of which is recycled. Production is expected to double in the next 20 years, but about 50 per cent of all plastics, from miniature hotel toiletries to disposable coffee cups, are used just once, sometimes only for a few seconds, and then thrown away without a second thought. The main benefit of plastic – its durability – has become its greatest environmental threat: a plastic bottle takes a whopping 450 years to decay. The result is an estimated eight million tons of plastic waste entering the ocean every year. Over time, the plastic degrades and fragments into microparticles, which absorb toxic chemicals in ever greater

Clare Jenkinson concentrations as they travel up the food chain, ending up on our dinner plates. Roughly 75 per cent of litter in the sea is plastic and this is having a direct impact on wildlife – from turtles suffocating on plastic bags and litter islands affecting ecosystems, to fish consuming fatal amounts of microparticles. With as much as 80 per cent of tourism connected to coastal areas, the impact of ocean plastic is a huge concern. Plastic waste is a visual eyesore, reducing beach use, wildlife sightings and well-being. The logical conclusion is fewer visitors, revenue and jobs. Sadly, travel and tourism is a major contributor to the problem. Between 2011-2013, researchers monitoring litter on 23 beaches across Sweden, Finland, Estonia and Latvia, found that an estimated 33 per cent of the waste was generated by leisure or tourism. More than half of this rubbish was plastic. It’s clear that plastic has become a global problem; no part of the world has been left untouched.

We spoke to ABTA’s senior destinations and sustainability manager, about the Better Places programme – and how businesses are using it to tackle plastics What is the Better Places programme?

It is a series of tools and guidance designed to help ABTA Members implement a sustainability approach or build on existing activities.

What’s the thinking behind it?

ABTA believes sustainable tourism is essential for the industry’s long-term viability and profitability – and Better Places addresses the environmental, social and economic impacts of tourism. We’ve focused on the actions we know have a material impact and made the process simple.

How does this relate to plastics?

The programme helps Members adopt the sustainability policy that works for them and – as we know plastics is a hugely important topic for the industry – we can offer guidance and support on how businesses can address this issue in their wider policy.

What’s been your best achievement?

Thousands of employees in the travel sector have now been trained on child protection and accessible tourism. Also, in the past 18 months we’ve seen a significant increase in the number of Members engaging with the programme as sustainability rises up the agenda.

How can Members get involved?

Contact sustainable tourism@abta. or visit Better Places on the Member Zone for more information.

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Travel companies and destinations have been looking at the issue of plastics as part of their wider sustainability strategy for some time now – working to improve waste management and recycling, as well as looking at the use of plastics by suppliers. Sustainable tourism is essential for the industry’s long-term viability, however, as is often the case in travel, there isn’t a ‘one size fits all’ solution. How destinations manage their waste varies, so what can be recycled in one resort can’t in another. ABTA’s sustainability programme seeks to address such issues, working with Members to develop their approach. Tour operator Exodus, which specialises in adventure holidays, has been working to reduce plastic waste in areas where safe drinking water is an issue. It has implemented initiatives that have resulted in one million less single-use plastic bottles being consumed in 2017 (see case study, right). Expedition specialist Hurtigruten encourages guests to join beach clean-ups on its voyages along the Norwegian coast. ABTA’s annual Make Holidays Greener Campaign (#MHG18), run in partnership with Travelife for Hotels & Accommodations, also shines a spotlight on the work being done in this area. The theme for this year’s campaign is

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‘say no to plastic’, which is encouraging the industry and holidaymakers to find alternatives. For MHG last year, the TUI Group successfully brought together more than 1,400 participants, and undertook 52 beach clean-ups in 17 countries, resulting in a 1,000 filled black rubbish bags. Other successful initiatives include staff education at Barrhead Travel, which organises beach clean-ups near its head offices in Glasgow. Sharon Munro, chief executive, told ABTA Magazine: “Staff at Barrhead Travel decided they wanted to make sure that the beach at Lunderston Bay was clean and safe for all to enjoy.”

In December a UN resolution committed 193 nations to reduce ocean plastics Another initiative is ABTA’s Travelife sustainability certification scheme, which involves over 1,400 hotels acting to minimise waste and packaging use. Dessole Malia Beach hotel in Greece has reduced the amount of plastic straws it uses by 95 per cent and introduced water coolers, cutting plastic water bottles by 75 per cent.


Following the success of David Attenborough’s Blue Planet II – the most watched TV programme of 2017 – and campaigns such as Sky News’ Ocean Rescue scheme, consumers are now increasingly aware of the damage plastics have on the environment. Customers now have higher expectations and businesses can use this to drive change internally, as well as with suppliers and destinations. Many travel companies are already responding. The cruise sector, in general, has begun to make significant steps. P&O Cruises and Cunard, as well as other Carnival UK lines, have committed to removing single-use plastics from their ships by 2022; Royal Caribbean International has pledged to eliminate single-use plastics from 38 ships, including the newly launched Symphony of the Seas, the largest ship in the world. Others in the tourism sector are delivering, too. In January, Eurostar promised a 50 per cent reduction in plastics by 2020, while Buffalo tours uses reusable water bottles which can be refilled from coolers. In February, London City Airport became the first UK airport to ban plastic straws, replacing them with biodegradable alternatives.

ABTA Magazine

Pictured Previous page: Guests and staff celebrate after helping to clean up the Kuramathi Island Resort in the Maldives as part of ABTA’s Make Holidays Greener campaign in 2017, during which they collected 45kg of rubbish using scuba diving equipment to comb the reefs (left)

There have also been changes at destination level. In March, Malibu, California, became the latest city to ban the sale, distribution and use of single-use plastic straws and cutlery. The Balearic Islands are moving to ban the sale of all single-use consumer plastics by 2020; Costa Rica will follow suit in 2021. ABTA also works with destination authorities on the issue of waste management. In December 2017, a UN resolution committed 193 nations to reduce ocean plastics, while UK policy is to eliminate all avoidable plastic waste by 2042. Initiatives include a successful 2015 UK plastic bag charge scheme, which saw consumer use cut by 85 per cent, with other countries, such as Kenya, following. In March 2018, the UK announced a new deposit return scheme for single-use drink containers. Innovation funding – for example, the £7 billion announced in January by the UK government – is also crucial in finding greener plastics. The reality is, plastic pollution will not be resolved overnight. Instead, multiple solutions are be needed, over time, to help achieve global impact.

Case study: Exodus #BanTheBottle Two years ago, the UK-based operator challenged itself to end its reliance on single-use bottles during trips, including destinations where they are considered the only source of safe drinking water Solutions? The operator provided 20-litre drinking water containers, which customer used to top up their reusable bottles throughout the day. On Nepal trekking trips, Exodus now recommend the use of Steripen, a portable water steriliser which uses ultraviolet light to kill germs in water, allowing travellers to treat drinking water themselves.

Impact? Exodus estimates that the initiative has resulted in one million fewer single-use

bottles used last year, with 85 per cent of Exodus customers now able to travel without having to buy a single plastic bottle.

Goals? The hard work continues. Exodus aims to be single-use bottle free on all trips by end of 2018!

Contact: Megan Devenish Responsible Tourism Manager, Exodus

Dr Catherine Wilson is a research, policy and communications consultant who specialises in sustainable tourism

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Industry insights

THE TECH GIANTS Travel agencies pay to advertise on search engines and social media, but are also now competing with them for business, writes Jenny Southan


or years, online travel agencies (OTAs) have been relying on Google to reach their customers through the power of search and, as a consequence, have spent billions of pounds on advertising auctions to make sure they appear at the top of the rankings. Data from travel intelligence platform Skift suggests that the Priceline Group – now Booking Holdings – and Expedia Inc spent £2.8 billion on Google advertising in 2016. However, as the tech giant branches into travel metasearch and booking, the battle lines have been drawn in its perceived attempt to circumvent OTAs. Not good news for travel companies that rely on organic search alone.

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The metasearch works like this: type “flights from London to Hong Kong” into Google and you will immediately see a panel linking to with times and prices. Search for “hotels in New York” and you’ll spot another Google panel displaying a map, calendar, rate graph, “sort by” buttons and prices for hotels (as well as OTAs that have paid to advertise deals on Google Hotel Ads). Google is coming under fire for its lack of “fair play” and its critics say it is changing search results to its own benefit, as well as taking money from paying clients. In June last year, Google was fined a record €2.4billion by the European Union’s anti-trust watchdog, after an

investigation prompted by a complaint by UK price comparison site Foundem. In the US, Google anti-trust regulators are also taking notice of its activity within the travel sector. An opinion piece in The Wall Street Journal titled Google-Hotel Travelopy said: “Google ought to compete on fair terms by opening its auctions to all players and stop favouring its metasearch. Otherwise, regulators may soon ask if the search giant is abusing its market power.” A spokesman for Google said the way its advertising products work had been “mischaracterised”. However, according to Skift, Google’s travel business will generate more than £9.8 billion in

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revenue this year. Is the company really living up to its new mantra of “do the right thing”?


It was 2011 when Google launched Google Flights after buying a company called ITA Matrix Software that allowed it to aggregate airline prices in real time. (Kayak also uses the technology and you can try it out yourself by going to matrix.itasoftware. com.) Its Hotel Finder platform arrived at around the same time but search results are now displayed directly within Google Search and Google Maps. For the consumer, the ease of using Google’s own travel search platforms is tempting – the results and prices are so prominently displayed, and link through to airlines and hotels directly (OTAs on the other hand let customers pay within their own platforms). That is, however, unless you are logged into Google and have uploaded your credit card details to

‘It’s not good news for travel companies that rely on organic search alone’ Google Wallet, in which case it’s possible to complete the booking on Google itself, which is even simpler. Although Google hasn’t quite got to the point where it is offering the same user experience as OTAs (in terms of booking entire trips – with car rental, flights and hotels all bundled up), it isn’t far behind. This is worrying for the likes of Expedia, which also owns OTAs Travelocity and Orbitz; Priceline, which owns Booking. com; and Opodo and eDreams (part of Odigeo). For them, the concern is that not only are they spending millions of dollars every year on Google AdWord services (Skift estimates that 12 per cent of its

revenue comes from travel spend) but at the same time, Google is developing ways of competing with them. The tech giant seems to want to both profit from them – and beat them at their own game. This, however, is something Google denies. Richard Holden, vice-president of product management for the company, says: “Google has no intention of becoming an OTA. Our OTA partners are better positioned to offer customer service and support, and we do not want to supplant their customer relationships. Our goal is two-part: one, help consumers by streamlining the travel planning and booking process, and two, provide our partners with cost-effective, highly qualified leads.” Hotels and airlines are also competing with OTAs for direct bookings, which saves them paying commission. If customers have come via Google AdWords or Hotel Ads, it will also cost the hotel or airline, but it may be be a cheaper and more

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effective alternative (WSJ says Google charges a 10-15 per cent commission on net revenues from reservations booked through its own travel metasearch.) The newspaper article said: “The problem is that Google is working with hotels to stifle competition. They also know that travellers searching for ‘Houston Hilton’ are more likely to book a room at a Hilton than those who query ‘hotels in Houston’. Several hotels have inserted terms in their global agreements with large OTAs that prohibit the agencies from bidding on key word ads that include their brands or trademarks.”


According to Alexa Internet, the biggest website in the world according to web traffic is, followed by YouTube (which Google also owns) and Facebook, which has more than two billion active users. Last year, the social network demonstrated its interest in venturing into the travel booking sphere with the launch of its City Guides app feature that allows members to reserve hotels and restaurants with “Book Now” buttons that link through to individual property websites. You only have to type “Hotels Las Vegas” for example in Facebook’s search window and “Book Now” buttons appear on the business pages of hotel Facebook profiles. Users can also send the property a message through Messenger.

Robert McNamara, eDreams Odigeo’s head of UK and group external affairs, told ABTA Magazine: “Mobile and omnichannel integration has undoubtedly been one of the biggest disruptors to the sector. In our 2017 financial year, we saw a 35 per cent growth in year-on-year in mobile bookings, representing 30 per cent of total flight bookings. We are beginning to see several tech giants taking advantage of this trend by integrating travel booking into their own mobile platforms.

‘The problem is that Google is working with hotels to stifle competition’ “At the same time, we continue to benefit from our relationships with the biggest tech platforms. Search engines and other online platforms are a crucial source of customers to our sites. While in some cases, the distinction between partners and competitors might be blurring, we believe the distinction between our competitors’ value proposition and our own is clear: OTAs are still the best placed to deliver the full customer journey for travel bookings.”

Facebook’s move may have inspired ripples of concern throughout the travel industry but with so much bad news around member data being harvested and sold (Cambridge Analytica is at the centre of the most recent scandal), users may be more cautious about using its travel booking add-ons. For OTAs with household names, having the edge on Facebook in terms of trust could prove profitable in the long run. In terms of Google, it seems sensible that it maintain the position it currently holds and keep everyone happy, rather than start competing with OTAs headon who could withdraw their ad spend. (According to, OTAs spent an average of £47,450 per day on Google AdWords in 2016.) Google’s Holden says: “Our focus is to make it easier for people to be fully informed about their travel choices and help our partners improve the travel experience. It’s important to us that our partners own the consumer relationship and are able to grow their business. For example, with the growth of Google Flights, clicks through to our partners have more than tripled this year. We want to continue to work with travel partners to showcase the best of their services right when people need them the most. We also want to use machine learning to provide a relevant and personalised experience to users.”








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For more information or to book, For Call:more 0800information 980 4027 or to book, Call: 0800 980 4027 (1) PONANT Bonus Fare per person based on double occupancy, subject to change, domestic flight from Buenos Aires to Ushuaia (1) included, PONANT Bonus Fare person basedPre-cruise on double occupancy, port and airper taxes included. “Cerro Alarken subject to reserve” change, included domestic subject flight from Buenos Aires to Ushuaia natural to availability. PONANT Bonus included, and airtotaxes included. Pre-cruise “Cerro Alarken fare is port susceptible change depending on availability at the natural reserve” included subject to availability. PONANT Bonus moment of reservation. Exchange rate (10/04/18): 1€ = £0,871328. fareMore is susceptible change at depending on availability at the information to is available Document and moment reservation. 1€ = © £0,871328. photosoffor illustrativeExchange purposes rate only.(10/04/18): Photo credit: PONANTMore information available at Document and Nathalie Michel is - François Lefebvre. photos for illustrative purposes only. Photo credit: © PONANTNathalie Michel - François Lefebvre.

ABTA magazine Magazine

Gamesroom 1












12 13

14 15

6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11. 13. 14. 16.


Favourite (5,6) Such as Red October? (3) Amuses (7) Fuss (3) Sound intensity measure (3) Harbour vessel (3) Treated unfairly (3,4) Statute (3) Popular eastern US destination (3,4,4)

Guidelines (6,5) National economic indicator (1,1,1) 3. Combined ocean-going and land holidays (6,5) 4. Scoff (5) 5. You can refuel at several of these on most cruise ships (11) 12. Sea markers (5) 15. Diamonds (3) 1. 2.









8 2





How many words can you make out of these letters?




5 4

8 1 2



9 4



6 9

2 1

1 6



4 9



Word up



7 5


See the next ABTA Magazine in July for the answers to this month’s games

64 May 2018

ABTA Magazine

Where in the world? Name the city in these four images

Competition time


7 nights in Mexico with Palladium

Join Palladium Hotel Group’s new loyalty scheme ‘PALLADIUM CONNECT’ and win a seven-night stay at one of its soon-to-open luxury Mexico properties; Grand Palladium Costa Mujeres or TRS Coral, and earn an instant £50 sign-up bonus!

Sign up now using the promo code ABTA-50 via To celebrate the launch of Palladium Hotel Group’s agent loyalty programme ‘Palladium Connect’, ABTA Magazine is giving away seven nights at either the Grand Palladium Costa Mujeres or TRS Coral, two brand new luxury five-star hotel properties that are opening in Mexico this autumn. Palladium Connect has been designed to reward travel agents for their bookings and showcase the various hotels within the Palladium brand with an online ‘Palladium Academy’. Agents can earn money, access various sales tools, take part in e-learning courses and keep track of their UK Palladium sales ranking (with monthly spot-prizes). This prize includes a seven-night stay in one of Palladium’s soon-to-open luxury properties located on Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula. The winner can choose between the five-star familyfriendly property, Grand Palladium Costa Mujeres Resort & Spa, and the adults-only TRS Coral Hotel.

Sign up to Palladium Connect now with special promo code ABTA-50 before May 31 and get an instant £50 bonus and the chance to win this incredible seven-night stay

May 2018 65

ABTA Magazine

Final word

ABTA chief executive Mark Tanzer describes his role within the organisation, from liaising with ministers to meeting the members


As chief executive, I have a number of sides to my job. One of those is the political and policy side: talking to government about regulations, and the way the travel industry would like them to be shaped. Over the past few months, we’ve had two new ministers: the minister for tourism, Michael Ellis MP, and minister for aviation, Baroness Sugg CBE. When ministers arrive, it’s about building relationships. You want a personal contact, someone you can pick up the phone and speak to if something does come up. We get good access to the government because of the strength of the ABTA brand: we’re unique for a trade association in that we represent members, obviously, but we’ve also become a consumer champion for issues that affect travellers. This is really important to politicians.


We’re talking to all ministers about Brexit at the moment. ABTA has been studiedly neutral about Brexit – in terms of whether it’s good or bad – but we do say that, for travel, the status quo has worked well. The access we have to fly wherever in Europe, the consumer protection that has come through European legislation, reciprocal healthcare – we’d like to preserve as much of that as possible. Given we are less than a year out from when we’re leaving the EU, we had our own ABTA breakfast briefing, to which we invited about 150 people. I spoke there about what needs to happen from the industry point of view, for us to get into shape.

66 May 2018


There is a ton of policy activity here, which I get involved with. But, of course, before we get to the point when we’re talking about our positions, we have to figure out what the positions are. We’ve recently been consulting with members about how they feel about the new Package Travel Directive. We’re talking to members and I’m sitting in on those meetings, and we’ve put those thoughts together into a response for the government. It’s important everyone here at ABTA understands what our members think. I always sit in on those policy-formulating roundtables. The ultimate forum for policy decisions is the board. We have board meetings every two months: we give them a full account of the policy agenda, our current positions and policy objectives. If we are taking a firm position, the board is the final arbiter of that. It’s the board’s job to come up with a position that’s in the interests of the membership as a whole.


From a personal perspective, I try to do as much member engagement as possible. At the moment, all of our members are concerned about no longer being able to charge for credit card fees. If you are a travel agent, this is a huge deal; these fees can represent a large amount of your revenue. We are gathering data from members to see what sort of costs they are incurring, so we can make the argument to the Treasury that they have to work harder to bring those costs down. Members are telling us more people are using credit cards. It’s very important for me to speak to members and understand the scale of the issue.

0 202 EN SAL ON





22 MAY ‘18


22 Years Running


Half price holidays are valid on air-inclusive packages for travel up to 31 Mar ‘20. Book by 22 May ’18. Offer varies depending on resort, room type and travel date. Minimum stay 5 nights. This offer cannot be combined with any other promo code offers. Free wedding can be applied. Sandals Select points can be used and earned in conjunction with this offer. Offer is subject to availability. Valid for bookings made through Unique Caribbean Holidays Ltd. (UCHL).

Profile for ABTA Magazine

ABTA Magazine — May 2018  

The May 2018 issue of ABTA Magazine is the first created by Waterfront Publishing. With an exciting new look, feel and ethos, the magazine h...

ABTA Magazine — May 2018  

The May 2018 issue of ABTA Magazine is the first created by Waterfront Publishing. With an exciting new look, feel and ethos, the magazine h...