Travel industry insights / November 2018
From the French Alps to the Canadian Rockies, Nicky Holford rounds up the best ski and snowboarding holidays as the industry embraces inclusive options
Pacific protection Exploration meets conservation at the Great Barrier Reef
Journey to Japan
Get off the beaten path to discover the bucolic beauty of Hokkaido
Grassroots travel G Adventures founder Bruce Poon Tip talks responsible tourism
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Travel industry insights / November 2018
Ski and snowboarding holidays are going off-piste as the industry diversifies inclusive options to appeal to all price ranges
Pacific protection Exploration meets conservation at the Great Barrier Reef
Journey into Japan Get off the beaten path to discover the bucolic beauty of Hokkaido
G Adventures’ founder Bruce Poon Tip talks responsible tourism
Ski goes off piste with allinclusive holidays
t’s easy to think of ski holidays as a more niche product, but more than a million Britons hit the slopes each year. These winter holidays, once considered the preserve of the rich, increasingly attract thrillseekers from all walks of life as operators and resorts continue to diversify their offerings. For our cover feature this issue, our ski expert Nicky Holford looks at the latest developments in winter sports, and as the industry looks to deal with the effects of a weak pound by offering more inclusive holidays, she considers the ski resorts most likely to attract Britons (p52). Elsewhere, we take a closer look at the Great Barrier Reef, a natural wonder that is as beautiful as it is fragile. A global rise in temperatures brought about by climate change has seen unprecedented coral bleaching, prompting scientists to warn that the 2,300km-long ecosystem could disappear entirely. In this issue of ABTA Magazine, James Litston considers how tourists can not only see the Great Barrier Reef responsibly, but travel in a way that could also assist conservationists (p48). Elsewhere, Anthony Pearce enjoys a different side to Japan as he heads to Hokkaido, the northernmost of the country’s main islands, taking in the bustling fish market of Hakodate before heading on the bullet train to Aomori (p56). In our regular Industry Insights feature, Gary Noakes explores the long-term impact of the falling pound on the great British holiday (p58) while Jenny Southan, our business travel editor, takes a look at the new and expanded airports expected to cut the ribbon within the next few years, including the Istanbul New airport, designed to accommodate a staggering 200 million passengers a year (p34). For our City Guide, Andrew Forbes visits Fez, considered the spiritual and cultural heart of Morocco (p46), while, for our UK holidays feature, Daniel Allen explores Scotland’s Caingorms, where an impressive new initiative is now boosting biodiversity and nature-based tourism (p42). There’s also all the latest industry news, as well as updates from ABTA, including campaigns, news from this year’s ABTA Travel Convention in Seville and a preview for 2019’s event in Tokyo. There’s also your chance to win flights to South America with Air Europa, plus a two-night stay in the INNSIDE Manchester hotel (p61).
Magdalen Bridge, Oxford
d. mpared to the same period in 2017. Correct as of 27/4/18. Selected routes only. Visit GWR.com for full terms and conditions.
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We would love to hear your thoughts about this issue of ABTA Magazine, the fourth created by Waterfront Publishing. The magazine has a new look, editorial focus, and an increased and improved distribution, meaning it now spans the breadth of the travel industry, reaching from frontline agents to the boardroom. Send your thoughts to info@ABTAmag.com.
2018 with ABTA
See p32 for the full list of ABTA events
Consumer Law in the Marketing and Selling of Holidays, London
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Essential Guide to Travel Finance, London
November July 2018
Exploration and conservation The Great Barrier Reef
Competition Win flights to South America with Air Europa, plus a two-night stay in the INNSIDE Manchester hotel
First tracks The best places to hit the slopes
A different Japan We get off the Golden Route
Industry insights Falling pound ABTAmag.com
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In the November issue
Editor’s letter We get ready to hit the slopes
On trend We explore the numbers behind ABTA’s Holiday Habits Report and Japan’s big target
46 Contributors Jenny Southan is an awardwinning freelance travel journalist, and editor and founder of trend forecaster Globetrender. Billy Odell is a freelance illustrator and graphic designer based in London. You can see his cartoons and sketches at billyodell.com Gary Noakes is a writer and editor specialising in travel and the nuts and bolts of the industry, particularly aviation. Daniel Allen is a UK-based writer and photographer whose work has featured in National Geographic, The Sunday Times and CNN Travel.
Readers’ letters Readers share their views on being ready for Brexit, and more
News The latest travel industry news, including cruise, aviation, hotels and touring
Out and about Our round-up of images from the latest industry events
Interview: Bruce Poon Tip The founder of G Adventures talks about how sustainable travel can change the world
ABTA section The Travel Convention in Seville, Angie Hills tackles the subject of major weather events, plus all the latest news, campaigns and events
Business travel Jenny Southan looks at how a new generation of airports will target both leisure and business
Spotlight on… Hays Travel. The founder of the travel giant tells us how he’s built his empire of 180 stores
UK holidays Daniel Allen visits the Cairngorms, in the heart of the Scottish Highlands, to get back to nature
City guide Andrew Forbes tells us why the city of Fez is the cultural and spiritual home of Morocco
Gamesroom Play games and win prizes ABTA diary Victoria Bacon talks about the ABTA brand
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NNER WI AWARDS
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Your letters Common-sense Brexit
Thank you to everyone who helped us to reach our £20,000 target at the ABTA Travel Convention in Seville last month – with a special thank you to RCL Cruises, Celebrity Cruises and Classic Collection Holidays for each donating £5 for every company employee. Every pound donated to our appeal really does make a difference to those in our travel community who need it most. Trudie Drake Director, ABTA LifeLine
It was interesting to read Paul Carter’s comments on Brexit. I wholeheartedly agree that common sense needs to prevail and a transitional period of free movement and open skies (and roads) should be agreed. The continuation of UK citizens working abroad and overseas labour in the UK are paramount to the success of our industry. Common sense, please! Richard Calvert, chief executive of Specialist Leisure Group
I was interested to read the Stepping Lightly feature on the industry’s relationship and responsibility to community tourism, highlighting some of the great work that is already being done around the world. As Clare Jenkinson explained, community tourism should always directly benefit the communities involved. It was encouraging
to hear that, according to the 2018 ABTA Travel Trends Report, awareness around responsible travel has proven to influence travellers’ decisions. Community based tourism is something that has been at the heart of G Adventures since day one. As Clare mentions in the feature, bringing travellers into contact with communities in a meaningful way offers authentic experiences while ensuring that communities benefit. Our social-enterprise projects offer the opportunity to experience a destination and interact with locals in a way many travellers can’t. From seeing Delhi through the eyes of a former street child to trekking with tribes to Colombia’s Lost City, these community-based projects provide the opportunity to give back while also creating memories that are impactful and meaningful, and which stay with travellers for years to come. Brian Young, Managing Director at G Adventures
Let us know your thoughts on ABTA Magazine and travel industry issues. Email: letters@ABTAmag.com We reserve the right to edit letters for brevity and clarity. Please include a name, job title and company. These will be withheld if requested. Other comments taken from ABTAmag.com
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News On trend
On trend HOLIDAY HABITS The number of solo travellers has grown threefold since 2011, according to ABTA’s Holiday Habits Report
Every issue we reveal the numbers behind the biggest stories in travel
The Holiday Habits Report, which looks at the changing trends of British holidaymakers, says the number of holidays being taken has remained stable. Overall, 86 per cent of respondents took a holiday either at home or abroad in the 12 months to August 2018. The number of holidays taken has fallen from 3.8 to 3.4 per person – the same as in 2016, but down on last year. This decrease is being driven by two main factors: people taking fewer UK breaks, and people taking fewer shorter breaks, at home and abroad. The number of short UK breaks fell from 1.3 to 1.1 per person, with people instead choosing to take longer foreign holidays. For more information, see ABTA.com.
CRUISE LINES INTERNATIONAL ASSOCIATION
The cruise industry generated €10.4 billion for the UK economy in 2017, according to research conducted on behalf of Clia
the annual number of overseas tourists that Japan is hoping to get to by 2020. Tokyo is set host the 2019 ABTA Convention 10 November 2018
The estimated amount of plastic waste either avoided through the reduction of plastic use or removed from the ecosystem via clean-ups during ABTA’s Make Holidays Greener campaign this year.
News November 2018
All the latest headlines from the world of travel
Hays to open 10 more stores By Sam Ballard Hays Travel is to open 10 stores before Christmas as the agency continues its massive expansion drive. The new stores include premises in Ashton-under-Lyme, Bury, Cheadle, Oldham and Rochdale. In a wide-ranging interview with ABTA Magazine (p38), John Hays, the company’s founder, revealed that the group would have an operational network of 180 stores before the peak selling season begins in January, as well as more than 250 homeworkers on board. “My view on the high street is that some things are timeless,” Hays explained. “Highquality, personalised service – and it must add value. I always ask my staff a rhetorical question, which is, ‘Why should a customer book with you?’ There has to be a reason.”
Earlier in the year, the company celebrated recording £1 billion of revenue for the first time. At the time, John Hays announced live on Facebook that staff would each receive £100 for every year they have worked for the company. “The staff are the biggest reason we reached £1 billion,” Hays added. “We have second-year apprentices who were awarded £100 right up to a number of people who have done 30 years with us and received £3,000.” When asked about how he motivated his staff, Hays cited two crucial factors: the apprenticeship scheme and a policy of hiring from within. “Our apprenticeship scheme has been going on for years – almost since the start,” he explained. “Over the years, we have developed a good reputation for developing apprentices giving them good training and
the opportunity for a good career. This year we took 150 more apprentices on and received more than 3,000 applications for those positions. That’s 20 young people for every advertised position. “We have a company policy of always promoting from within whenever we can,” he added. “When you look at how many new shops we’re opening up, you can see how many opportunities exist for our staff [numbers] to grow. “Those opportunities keep the team motivated. In a lot of our shops – I would say more than half – every single one of our team, from the manager down, would have joined us as an apprentice straight from school. When apprentices see that clear career progression, it really helps.” Read the full Spotlight on page 38
DON’T MISS ABTA’s Apprenticeships in the Travel considers how the travel industry can invest in apprenticeships to help futureproof workforces November 20, London ABTAmag.com
November 2018 11
Group travel highly ‘lucrative’ By Jill Sayles Delegates at ABTA’s Group Travel and Escorted Tours Conference at Japan House in London were told that the market is highly lucrative for agents to “target and tackle”. Despite this, they were told it is often difficult to break into. During an overview session of the market, Laurence Hicks, managing director at Tour Hound, said: “Group travel organisers rarely come to you, you have to go to them and you’ll find them if you look hard enough”, explaining that Group Travel Organisers (GTOs) have to be sourced and that agents need to research their communities. The market is defined by being divided into different sectors, and of those the largest is Retirement Clubs, at 30 per cent. It continues to dominate the market with 75 per cent of the group sitting within the 65-74
age bracket. Overall, the core market consists of over 55s. “The post-work population loves to travel”, Hicks continued. Key trends reveal that 82 per cent of tours are day and evening trips, 8 per cent are short breaks and 10 per cent are long breaks, which are growing in popularity. On average, group travel spend per passenger sees day visits at £54, short breaks of 1-3 days at £264 and long breaks of four days or more at £745. Educational group travel is growing following a decline in the 1980s. It’s currently at 10% of the market share and within it, ski, language and culture tours dominate this sector. Brian Young of G Adventures said: “People want more experiences rather than stuff. That’s what’s driving this sector massively and creating lasting memories. If you are an agent, there’s huge opportunity.” Young said that millennials, who use social media to document their experiences,
are fuelling this type of tour. Generation X-ers are also contributing to the rise as they want to see more things and immerse themselves in culture – whereas for Baby Boomers, he said: “The older generation is actually getting younger in terms of what they want to do. They want to create lasting memories.” The destinations where group tours are becoming more popular are Asia and South America. Other emerging trends are the growth of self-guided tours and solo travellers choosing group travel. Speaking at the conference about self-guided touring, Andrew Appleyard, head of international sales & business development, Exodus Travels, gave an example of a recent booking at the company for six people amounting to £64,000. He said: “The repeat market is huge for these trips and this is an untapped market for agents to get into.” ABTAmag.com
MSC to enter luxury market By Sam Ballard MSC Cruises has announced that it is to launch four ultra-luxury cruise ships in a deal said to be worth around €2 billion. The first vessel, which will have 500 cabins, will launch in 2023. The other ships will come into service at a rate of one a year. Pierfrancesco Vago, MSC Cruises’ executive chairman, said: “It is off the back of the great success of our ship-within-aship luxury concept that our guests asked us to enter into the ultra-luxury segment, as a natural evolution of the MSC Yacht Club. These ships will be able to offer unique itineraries, thanks to their size, and the guest services will be taken to another level – including our personalised MSC Yacht Club butler service, available 24/7.” Mr Vago continued: “I am especially pleased to be able to further extend our partnership with Fincantieri through this new order. The award-winning Seaside and Seaside-Evo class have already been
12 November 2018
recognised as ground-breaking and innovative designs. We are now introducing another new class, which will establish a new standard of ultra-luxury at sea, with ships that will showcase the quality and highest standards that are associated with Made in Italy.” Giuseppe Bono, CEO of Fincantieri, stated: “It is with pride that two great
brands – an Italian one, and one with a strong Italian DNA – well-known all over the world, today announce an important construction programme. Fincantieri can count on 53 cruise ships in its order book, confirming its position as absolute market leader.” MSC currently has 14 ships on order with Fincantieri. ABTAmag.com
Japan on target to reach 40m visitors by 2020 Country’s tourist board anticipates continued growth in tourist numbers By Sam Ballard Japan is set to welcome 40 million visitors a year by 2020, the executive vice-president of its national tourist board has said. Mamoru Kobori of the Japan National Tourism Organization (JNTO) said the country had experienced double-digit growth for the sixth consecutive year. Last year’s record high of 28.69 million was up by 19 per cent on the 24 million who visited in 2016. Between January and July of 2018, the county experienced another 19 per cent increase. Speaking at the Visit Japan Travel & MICE Mart 2018 (VJTM) in Tokyo, Kobori said that Japan was closing the gap on one of Asia’s most popular destinations, Thailand, which welcomed 32.59 million visitors in 2016. Tokyo will host the Rugby World Cup in 2019 and the Olympic and Paralympic Games in 2020. The JNTO said it expected 400,000
rugby fans to visit the city next year. The UK is one of six European countries that account for almost four per cent of all tourism to the country. British tourists are also among the top spenders there, according to the JNTO. At an event taking place on the same day as Kobori’s announcement, Yuriko Koike, the governor of Tokyo, said that the city has been investing in infrastructure to make it more tourist-friendly. She said that as the first city to host the Paralympic Games twice, Tokyo has a “responsibility to make roads and rail stations without barriers for those with accessibility issues”. She added that there would be more signs put up in English in the Japanese capital. The JNTO said that Britons were most likely to visit Japan for the culinary experience. It said that culture and history, sightseeing and, to a lesser extent, shopping were also factors. Kobori added that cruises were a big part of Japan’s plans
for attracting more tourism, describing it as “great opportunity” and a “very important sector”. “Six regional ports are being invested in,” he said, adding that there are “nearly 100 ports in Japan, and they are all wishing to have cruise ships stop at them”. At another VJTM event, executives from the public and private tourism sectors discussed the impact that natural disasters have had on tourism. This year, the country has experienced heatwaves, floods and an earthquake. The JNTO said that a budget had been set aside specifically to help combat falls in tourism following disasters and to promote affected areas. All 47 prefectures of Japan were represented at this year’s VJTM 2018, which welcomed almost 800 overseas companies and organisations The 2019 ABTA Travel Convention is set to be held in Toyko. For more information, see p26 and ABTA.com
November 2018 13
Aviation news Round-up of which airlines are flying where and how often
Ryanair boss expects cuts Michael O’Leary predicts more European consolidation By Jill Sayles
New routes from BA Carrier announces 2019 destinations, including Osaka By ABTA Magazine staff British Airways has revealed more details about its new 2019 roster, including flights to Charleston in the Southern US, Preveza in Greece and Bastia on Corsica. The company also announced a four-flightsa-week service to Osaka, Japan, in September. The new route launches from March 31. There will also be an increase of the carrier’s Nashville route, which will operate daily. The Heathrow to Charleston route will launch from April 4 on board a Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner, with return fares starting from £600. Flights will run from Thursdays to Sundays. Sean Doyle, BA’s director of Network and Alliances, said: “You can’t help but get sucked into the Old World charm of Charleston:
News in brief
14 November 2018
cobblestone streets, colourful houses and historical buildings make it a unique city. Recently we launched flights to Nashville and New Orleans, and earlier this year announced a route to Pittsburgh. Travelling to the States is as popular as ever, so we’re pleased to be adding this city to our extensive global network and giving customers even more choice of destinations.” The Preveza flights will operate on Wednesday and Sunday from May 26 through to September 29. Bastia will operate every Sunday from May 25 to September 28. Doyle added: “We’re always developing our leisure offering and are committed to giving customers more choice of destinations at competitively low prices, so we’re pleased to be adding two more spots to our summer schedule.” ABTAmag.com
Norwegian Reward has teamed up with Avis as its new car-rental partner. The deal means that members of its Norwegian Reward programme will now be able to earn CashPoints towards its flights when booking car rentals.
Michael O’Leary, the chief executive of Ryanair, said that the budget airline could be forced to cut capacity and close bases if oil prices continue to rise at their current rate. The comments followed the publication of a 7 per cent fall in pre-tax profits to €1.2bn for the six months to 30 September. Revenues for the same period rose 8 per cent to €4.79bn. “We have not ruled out that there may be further closures or capacity reductions this winter if oil moves materially higher than $85 per barrel or if airfares fall further than the two per cent we are guiding at the moment,” O’Leary said. “We’ve seen the first wave of casualties across Europe. We expect more failures this winter. “Mostly we think one or more of the two Scandinavian airlines is likely to fail over the coming months.” Ryanair took ownership of 23 new Boeing 737s in the period, bringing the carrier’s overall fleet to 450 aircraft. It launchd more than 100 routes this summer alone. ABTAmag.com
Bristol airport is expecting 3.5 million passengers between November and the end of March 2019, which would make it a recordbreaking winter to come for the airport. The hub now runs direct flights to 126 destinations.
Loganair, the Scottish carrier, has partnered with Qatar Airways, meaning that passengers from Kirkwall, Sumburgh, Wick and Stornoway can book one ticket to take them from the Highlands to any of Qatar’s network of 150 destinations.
Touring news Round-up of the current stories affecting the touring sector
G Adventures launches Change Makers Challenge
Wendy Wu issues agent warning
Tour operator announces ‘life-changing’ social enterprise initiative, culminating in a mystery summit in 2019
Wendy Wu Tours has issued an alert to travel agents, warning about new visa legislation in China which requires British travellers to have their fingerprints taken at the time of submitting their application. The rules, which apply to anyone travelling to China aged between 14 and 75, mean that tourists now need to visit a consulate in either London, Manchester or Edinburgh before departing. Wendy Wu has been given an exemption from the rules until December 3. Wendy Wu, founder of the tour operator, said: “We know this is going to have an impact, and so we strongly advise agents to contact any customers who have made a booking to China or any potential customers looking to travel to China to move quickly and get their visas with us now before the new legislation takes effect.” In a statement, the company said it was lobbying the Chinese government to have the legislation reversed. ABTAmag.com
By ABTA Magazine staff G Adventures, the small-group tour operator, has launched its largest ever travel-agent incentive. The Change Makers Challenge programme aims to reward agents that focus on “changing people’s lives through travel”. The incentive runs until March 31 2019, ending with the Change Makers Summit, which will see more than 100 agents from the UK & Ireland, Central Europe, Canada, the US, Australia and New Zealand brought to a mystery destination. Agents will stay at the summit for a week, learning about the impact of responsible travel on local communities, and visiting destinations and building product knowledge. Bruce Poon Tip, founder of G Adventures, will attend the final day, where agents will also be treated to a party.
News in brief ABTAmag.com
David Green, vice-president of Commercial at G Adventures, said: “At G Adventures, we change the lives of our travellers when they choose to explore the world with us and, as a social enterprise, we change the lives of local people in the destinations to which we travel. We’re asking agents to become ‘Change Makers’ – to realise the impact they can have, and to recognise why our world deserves more of them, and their customers, in it.” In a statement, the company said that agents would receive one entry per ‘life changed’ – or trip sold. G Adventures will also be giving out ‘random act of G’ gift packs and vouchers throughout the entry period. Agents should look out for surprise challenges and awards along the way. The Change Makers Challenge runs from October 01 until March 31 2019. ABTAmag.com
Cosmos and sister brand Avalon Waterways have announced that they will be going on a recruitment drive, with the company looking to hire an additional five members of its sales team – adding to the current team of three.
Group has flagged new China visa rules to travel agents By Jill Sayles
Pippa Britton, the doubleParalympian who has represented Great Britain in archery, led a disabilityawareness session for employees of TUI UK as part of training to help staff better understand customers with disabilities.
Der Touristik, the parent company of Kuoni, has launched an online consumer tour operator called Meraki Travel. The firm, which will create tailor made holidays, has opened with trips to India.
November 2018 15
Cruise news Round-up of the current stories affecting the cruise sector
Cruise generates €10.4 billion for UK economy Figures for 2017 show that the cruise sector is becoming a significant contributor to the UK travel By ABTA Magazine staff The cruise industry generated €10.4 billion for the UK economy in 2017, according to research conducted on behalf of Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA). This represents around 22 per cent of the industry’s ‘total output’ in Europe. Employment and other direct expenditures made up €3.85 billion of this, up 18 per cent on 2015. The remaining €6.55 billion was indirect and induced expenditure. Andy Harmer, CLIA UK & Ireland director, said: “The figures released today bear testament to the cruise industry continuing to make significant contributions to the UK’s economy, and the multi-billion valuation shows that cruise is a major player within the travel sector. “More Brits are choosing a cruise holiday, more cruise passengers are
News in brief
16 November 2018
embarking on a cruise from UK ports, and the number of ports-of-call visitors continues to increase. This, along with more jobs being created through the cruise industry, translates into great economic benefits for the country.” There were 37,720 roles generated by cruise-related expenditures; 17,183 Britons worked for cruise lines, either in administrative offices or as crew on board ships. Other jobs included direct suppliers to the cruise lines and the employees of establishments that provide goods and services to cruise passengers. This paid €1.41 billion in employee compensation. The UK cruise industry sustains an estimated 44,690 indirect and induced jobs. The average job generated by the cruise industry paid slightly more than €38,300 in employee compensation. ABTAmag.com
Cunard has joined Shine Rewards Club, the travelagent award scheme that launched with sister company P&O Cruises last year. Agents can now combine points from bookings made with both lines.
Scenic Brexit promise Group vows not to increase prices if UK leaves the EU By Sam Ballard Scenic Group UK, the company behind Scenic and Emerald Waterways, has promised that its prices will not increase after Brexit, regardless of the outcome of negotiations. Colin Downing, managing director for the UK at Scenic Group, said: “We constantly talk to our customers and know their concerns around travel with the growing uncertainty surrounding Brexit. It’s important to us to address those fears and ensure them complete peace of mind by emphasising our promise of no price increase after booking regardless of the Brexit outcome. That means no increase on any of our cruise holidays and includes flights, transfers, dining and excursion costs.” The company reported year-on-year sales growth for both repeat customers and travel-agent bookings. Loyalty schemes will also be unaffected by the Brexit outcome. The price guarantee takes into account cruise, meals, alcohol and excursions while still offering complete ABTA protection. ABTAmag.com
Princess Cruises’ upcoming ship, Enchanted Princess, will be christened at a ceremony in Southampton in June 2020. The last time the line christened a ship in the UK was Royal Princess in 2013, with Kate Middleton acting as godmother.
Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection has announced that it will be launching new ships to its fleet in Egypt, Portugal, Vietnam and Russia. These vessels are all due to be brought to market over the next three years.
Booking Cunard has never been so rewarding. Cunard is thrilled to be joining Shine Rewards Club, giving you great opportunities to earn exclusive rewards. Earn Shine points by making a Cunard Fare booking or for completing Cunard training. Combine your points with those youâ€™ve earned from P&O Cruises and put them towards host of fabulous rewards.
Register today at shinerewardsclub.com
Hotel news Checking in on the latest happenings in the world of accommodation
Cook’s €40m for new hotels
Thomas Cook obtains investment to expand its own-brand portfolio of hotels in the Med By Sam Ballard Thomas Cook has secured €40 million worth of investment to expand its own-brand portfolio of hotels in the Mediterranean, particularly Greece. The funds have been provided by Piraeus Bank. The company partnered with LMEY, the Swiss investment firm, to establish Thomas Cook Hotel Investments earlier in the year. Thomas Cook launched its Casa Cook hotel brand in Rhodes in 2016 and Kos in 2017. Two
more properties will be opening in 2019. The youth-orientated Cook’s Club saw its first hotel open last June in Hersonissos, Crete. The company has plans to open 10 more, including in Gambia and Egypt. Enric Noguer, chief officer of Thomas Cook Hotels & Resorts, said, “This first tranche of funding is an important step to help us accelerate the growth of our hotel fund. In acquiring more hotels that we fully manage, we aim to generate better returns for the group and deliver higher customer satisfaction.
“We continue to seek further funding to enable us to acquire hotels around the Mediterranean where we can bring our hotel management expertise combined with the distribution power of our tour operator.” Thomas Cook Hotel Investments currently includes properties in Rhodes, Crete and Mallorca. The company is set to invest more than €7 million in Sunwing Kallithea in Rhodes, and also plans to open a new Casa Cook in Ibiza in 2019. ABTAmag.com
Whitbread launches budget sub-brand Zip by Premier Inn By Sam Ballard Whitbread is to launch a budget sub-brand of Premier Inn, called Zip by Premier Inn. Rooms will be half the size of those found at Premier Inn hotels, with prices from £19. The first property is to open in Cardiff in early 2019, with a potential second site to open in Southampton.
News in brief
18 November 2018
Simon Jones, the Premier Inn managing director, added: “We are delighted to be opening our Zip by Premier Inn in Cardiff and the team are hugely excited about welcoming our very first customers. “In developing the concept, we have undertaken considerable research, including having had six Zip rooms on sale
Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park, which was ravaged by a fire last summer, is set to partially reopen in December. It is expected to reopen entirely in the spring of 2019.
to customers for many months. It’s clear through the research that people want the basics done brilliantly, such as a comfy bed and a power shower, but they are happy to compromise on location or some extras if they are paying a fantastic price for their room.” For more hotel news, see ABTAmag.com
Hilton has launched an “affordable urban lifestyle” brand called Motto – with the first property set to open in London in January 2019. The 100-bedroom property will be located in Marylebone.
AccorHotels has hit record occupancy levels in London over the summer. Between 1 July and 30 September, occupancy in the capital was above 90 per cent. Overall revenue per available room was up 5.8 per cent in London.
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News UK travel
UK travel news The latest industry developments closer to home
Opportunity knocks for the UK Jane Atkins, managing director at Shearings Holidays, writes for ABTA Magazine about the potential of domestic holidays ahead of ABTA’s new UK Holiday Market event
By Jane Atkins As holidays to the UK continue to grow in both selling price and volume, thus earning agents more commission, ABTA’s UK Holiday Market event is timely. The agenda is varied and will cover all forms of domestic holidays with some heavyweight keynote speakers. When selling the UK, the important thing for agents to realise is that UK holidays are not substituting the more expensive overseas holiday. Customers generally take several holidays a year, so promoting the UK as well as destinations further afield is important. If a travel agent can use UK products to attract new customers, then it is highly probable they will book again with them if they receive great service and advice. In the case of Shearings Holidays, we have a very high repeat booking level of over 60 per cent, so it is more than
20 November 2018
likely that agents will get more bookings during the year as a result of the first sale. Although the average booking value may often be lower on a domestic holiday, the lifetime value of the customer is excellent, plus of course many will recommend the agent to family and friends. In order to make the most of the opportunities that this sector offers, agents must ensure they know all the different products that are available to book. I can’t stress enough the value of going on UK educationals when offered by operators. Then they should use social media to share this knowledge – tell customers what’s hot in the UK right now and what events are coming up. Be the expert and recommend the right product to the right customer. We are also seeing huge investment in UK product and booking platforms from operators. At Shearings we executed a capital investment plan for 2018, which
has seen us ensure that the product is fit for purpose moving forward and is futureproofed. UK holiday customers are now so widely travelled that they expect the same choice and offering here in the UK. We have refurbished and upgraded hotel rooms, added new coaches and introduced wi-fi and entertainment packages on board. On the basis that knowledge is power, agents who would like to learn more about the UK holiday market should come along to ABTA’s UK Holiday Market event and hear from experts just what it has to offer.
The UK Holiday Market – Birmingham Date: 13 November Venue: National Motorcycle Museum Location: Coventry Road, Birmingham, B92 0EJ Visit: abta. com/events to register
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Call 0207 543 5555 Visit balkanholidays.co.uk/agents Brochures via BP Trade-Gate
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Sam Ballard sails the Mississippi on a musicthemed tour from New Orleans to Memphis
Gary Buchanan takes in two of expedition cruise’s great destinations: Antarctica and the Galápagos
A brief history of the Norwegian shipping company that has been sailing the fjords since 1893
Our unique walkthrough guide featuring 14 fantastic adventure cruises
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A world of luxury We consider the benefits of all-inclusive river cruising
SECRETS OF THE DOURO Explore the wonders of Porto with our new itinerary for 2017
MEET THE FLEET Introducing a trio of new ships: Emerald Radiance, Liberté and Destiny
RAISE A GLASS Enjoy the world’s finest wines during our new cruise on the Rhône
WHICH RIVER ARE YOU? Find out which Emerald Waterways cruise best suits your personality
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thevillagepost American Queen A music-themed tour of the Deep South on the mighty Mississippi
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INTERVIEW: P&O’ CRUISES' PAUL LUDLOW
Capital concerns Vienna, Bratislava and Budapest with Scenic on the Danube
All around the world These epic cruises and flights will take you across the globe
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WE EXPLAIN WHY THE COUNTRY IS BACK ON THE MAP FOR SOLOS
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WHY THE THAI CAPITAL IS SO MUCH MORE THAN A BACKPACKER HAVEN
Out and about Pictures from the latest travel industry events 1. Agents with Air Malta, which partnered with Jetset and hosted a fam trip to Malta from London Southend airport. Pictured are trip organiser Alison Armstrong from Jetset; Tina Rayment, manager, Westway Travel; Jane Richards, assistant manager, Ambassador Travel; Caroline Thorne, travel manager, East of England Co-op Travel; Donna O’Sullivan, manager, East of England Co-op Travel; Amanda Smith, assistant manager, Case Olden Travel. 2. In September, the Taste of Barbados Roadshow hosted partners and agents across five cities for an evening of news, Bajanflavoured canapés and fabulous cocktails. Here, three agents from Glasgow get a taste for the destination. 3. UK operators Bourne Leisure, Hoseasons and Shearings Holidays thanked key members of the UK trade at the ABTA Travel Convention with a rooftop networking event showcasing the stunning skyline of Seville. The event took place at Hotel Inglaterra and overlooked Plaza Nueva Square and the City’s Old Town, as well as offering spectacular views of the Giralda tower and Cathedral. 4. Hawaiian lei-bearers greeting guests on arrival during the Aloha Europe roadshow.
Send your travel industry pictures to info@ABTAmag.com and we’ll print the best
4 November 2018 23
Interview G Adventures ABTA Magazine
Bruce Poon Tip G Adventures Sam Ballard hears how the small-group specialist has redefined responsible travel
hen Bruce Poon Tip was launching G Adventures, he took a trip to the local library to scour global phone books, hoping to find out whether there were any other companies with a similar offering. “This was in 1990, and there was no Google,” he explains. Poon Tip didn’t come across any competitors, but he did discover the WTM. That year, he spent his entire annual marketing budget on flying to London to attend. And, 28 years later, he’s set to return, slated to deliver one of the conference’s key speeches (Monday November 5, 14:00, WTM Global Stage) entitled, “How to discover more passion, purpose and happiness in travel”. The early days of G Adventures saw Poon Tip pitching his fledgling company to a market unfamiliar with his style of travel. “We got in front of all of these people and explained our idea, which they had never heard before. It was about using local transportation, travelling by rickshaws; grassroots travel such as staying with tribes in the Amazon Rainforest. I was trying to convince them that this was something that people wanted. “However, most would turn their noses up at it – they didn’t think anyone wanted to do it. There was a real stigma with backpacker-style travel. It was seen as being cheap and poor – not what travel is all about. And tours with just 12 people? No one ever did tours that small.” Yet the formula had something to it. Today, G Adventures is a global brand with more than 2,200 employees in 28 offices around the world. People in 160 countries book tours every year. Now, Poon Tip is turning his focus on the future of tourism. And with so many
24 November 2018
years in the industry under his belt, he has a keen awareness of shifting trends. The evolution of ecotourism into responsible travel is one area that Poon Tip knows back-to-front. In 2003 he founded the Planeterra Foundation, which connects tourism with social-enterprise initiatives around the world, such as Women on Wheels – a group that helps teach women in India how to drive and hires them as taxi drivers. G Adventures then uses Women on Wheels for airport pick-ups in Delhi, which is particularly reassuring for the huge number of single female travellers who take G trips. It’s all about travel boosting local communities, rather than leaving them worse off. G Adventures estimates that is has helped more than 50,000 people through its social-impact projects. However, when pushed on whether the industry has become more conscious in its entirety, Poon Tip is reluctant to agree. “It’s pulling in both sides,” he explains. “Responsible travel is the fastest-growing travel sector, I think next to river cruising. But the all-inclusive market is growing too. In that market it’s amenities over destination – and that market is growing just as fast.” The ability for G Adventures to have claimed some level of ownership in the responsible travel space is in no small part down to the company having such a driven leader in Poon Tip. His approach to holidaying has partly informed G Adventures’s next big travel style: wellness. “Wellness fits in perfectly with what we’re trying to do,” he says. “Our travellers want to have something more on their holiday than an all-inclusive offer. The world has changed significantly. People are living in an extremely wired and engaged world where they are attached to their phones and work 24/7.
“There is a genuine desire to disconnect when you go on holidays, and to recharge. Wellness is something that we weren’t talking about 20 years ago, but society has changed, and we have changed in parallel with society.” The new tours will include yoga in Bali, where travellers will also take holy baths and try traditional herbal medicines, or Colombia, where there will be guided meditation by a waterfall. “People increasingly want to focus on themselves and recharge. They love our style of travel but perhaps don’t want to be that active while on holiday, so these new tours will give them that option,” Poon Tip adds. “When people say they want to go away, they go to an all-inclusive resort or on a cruise. We need to redefine that space.” When asked about what challenges Poon Tip faces as he steers G Adventures from a “mid-size tour operator to a large company”, as he puts it, his first answer is, unsurprisingly, to maintain the customer experience, particularly a structure that won’t affect the company’s current innovation and speed to market. These include recent moves such as developing the G Adventures app to allow for a chat function, which enables members of a tour to communicate with each other and their tour leader as soon as they book on a trip. The company has also launched a Gear Shop, where you can buy merchandise from social enterprises – which is good news for those who want to purchase extra souvenirs but didn’t have the cash or luggage space, as they can now order online from home. Poon Tip hopes that these innovations and developments will converge to cement G Adventures’s position as a pioneer of contemporary travel. ABTAmag.com
Bicol Express in Bicol
Kawa Hot Bath in Tibiao, Antique
Thresher Shark in Malapascua, Cebu
Live your best life In the fabulous Philippines you can enjoy incredible food, unique wellness techniques and some of the best diving opportunities in the world
ith white sand bays and warm azure waters, it’s no surprise that the sunkissed Philippines has been embraced by beach lovers. But the nation – made up of more than 7,000 paradise islands – is home to so much more than that. Its diverse cuisine, sprawling fields, incredible diving spots and welcoming people make it one of the top destinations in the world to visit in 2019. Here we share some of the highlights.
Made up of 144 distinct ethno-linguistic groups, diverse and delicious Filipino food is increasingly well known. Last year, the late chef and food writer Anthony Bourdain described the cuisine as the next big food trend, and travellers are now seeking out authentic dining experiences when visiting the country. The region of Pampanga, known as the Culinary Capital of the Philippines, is a great place to start. Here, you will find sinigang, Filipino comfort food at its best. A delicious tamarind, tomato, garlic and onion broth, it is made up of okra, aubergine, chilli and pork on the bone, and is usually served with white rice, a ubiquitous part of Filipino food.
The area is also home to the colourful halo-halo, a multi-coloured dessert, which translates as ‘mixed together’, and is made up of a range of ingredients, such as sweetened beans, coconut juliennes and sago. Perhaps best known, however, is the food of Bicol, where dishes are cooked with gata (coconut milk) and a bunch of sili (chilis). Bicol express is a mixture of pork and bagoong (fish paste), which is enjoyed across the country and beyond. In the Philippines, there are also many opportunities to learn more about food culture, through farm to table tourism. From milkfish catching to fruit picking and vegetable harvesting in Capiz, Iloilo and Tagaytay, visitors are able to enjoy the calmness and simplicity of provincial life. The nation’s tropical climate means fruit is abundant: you can pick strawberries in La Trinidad, Benguet; oranges in Sagada, Mountain Province; raspberries in Dolores, Quezon, and much more.
WELLNESS AND ADVENTURE
The Philippines now boasts more luxurious spa resorts than ever, but wellness is deeply rooted in the county’s history, with a number of ancient techniques available to visitors. These include hilot, a natural Filipino healing
art aimed at correcting body imbalances, easing stress and tackling muscle tension. There’s also the kawa treatment, a unique hot bath experience in which guests sit inside a giant cauldron. Tibiao, located in the province of Antique, in the Western Visayas of the Philippines, is famous for this relaxing and reenergising treatment. The Philippines also offers some of the best diving opportunities in the world, with the chance to see all sorts of weird and wonderful underwater creatures, and even shipwrecks. Given the vast number of sites, divers of all levels, from beginners to experts, can enjoy the Philippines from below water level. There is an incredible amount of wildlife to be seen, including sea turtles, thresher sharks and pygmy seahorses, squid, octopus and Napoleon wrasse. Dauin, in the province of Negros Oriental, offers some of the best muck diving anywhere – that is, diving in muddy environments – where there is the chance to see cuttlefish, frogfish and blue ring octopus. For more, download the Visit Philippines app or visit itsmorefuninthephilippines.co.uk
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ABTA news November 2018
All the latest reports, comment, campaigns and events from ABTA – The Travel Association
Highlights of the ABTA Travel Convention 2018
Industry shows ‘cautious optimism’ at event held in Spain as Brexit deadline approaches By Sam Ballard The UK ambassador to Spain praised ABTA’s campaign against Holiday Sickness Scams, which had been damaging the reputation of UK holidaymakers, at The Travel Convention 2018, held in Seville on 8-10 October. The event saw speakers from across the industry take to the stage, including the bosses of DER Touristik, easyJet and Midcounties Co-operative. Mark Tanzer, ABTA’s chief executive, kicked off proceedings by sounding a note of cautious optimism, saying while “the future is unlikely to be paradise, there’s no reason to believe that it will be hell, either”. In one of the most well received addresses of the first
26 November 2018
day, Bryony Gordon, a feature writer at The Telegraph, spoke on the subject of mental illness. A poll taken at the convention found that only 56 per cent of delegates would feel comfortable telling their bosses that they were experiencing a mental-health problem. Simon Manley, the British ambassador to Spain, spoke about the importance of the UK to the country, with around 19 million Britons taking a trip to Spain in 2017. “Spain has a lot of skin in the game,” he said, referring to the ongoing Brexit negotiations.One of the final sessions of the day was a panel called The Future of the Expert with Derek Jones, CEO of DER Touristik UK; Alistair Rowlands, boss of Midcounties Co-operative; Becky Power, sector director of Travel at Google; and Claire Irvin, head of travel editorial at The Telegraph.
When asked about the expertise of Kuoni, Jones said that the business enjoyed a 70 per cent conversion rate for customers in their stores, adding that human contact, coupled with knowledge was key to the company’s success. Rowlands backed this up, adding: “You can’t replace the trust element of a travel agent. It’s earned over time. As retailers, we have a Net Promoter score of 94. People want to work with people.” ABTA also released its much-anticipated Holiday Habits Report during the Convention. The study showed that the number of solo travellers increased threefold since 2011. Other interesting findings to come out of the report included that Britons are now taking longer foreign holidays – although this was at the detriment of the domestic holiday market. Mark Tanzer said: “Despite pressures on household incomes, Britons are clearly wedded to their holidays, with travel a spending priority. Holidaymakers are becoming increasingly cost-conscious, seeking value for money and budgeting more wisely in their holiday choices. “We’re at a unique juncture in the UK’s history as the nation counts down to leaving the EU, so naturally more people’s thoughts turn to what Brexit means for travel. People understandably have questions and concerns about what impact Brexit may have on the cost of travel, but it is very encouraging that Europe tops the bill as the place they wish to visit next year, and holiday bookings more widely are looking positive for the year ahead.” The second day of the ABTA convention was crowned with the news that the 2019 event would be held in Tokyo. During conference sessions, speakers from Saga, Royal Caribbean and dnata Travel spoke on the rapid growth of tourism and how industry leaders were preparing for Brexit. There was also an emotional talk by Giles Duley, a documentary filmmaker who lost both of his legs and an arm while working in Afghanistan. Johan Lundgren, CEO of easyJet, said that the company would work with trade when it came to easyJet Holidays, a major focus for the company going forward. “If there are travel agencies out there who want to contribute to easyJet Holidays, I would definitely discuss it with them,” Lundgren said. “They offer a meaningful service in many places where a company like ours doesn’t.” On Brexit, Lundgren said he was confident that there would continue to be airline connectivity between the UK and mainland Europe. During a panel covering the challenges of growth within tourism, Mark Tanzer highlighted that the number of tourists around the world grew from 531 million in 1995 to 1.32 billion in 2017. Stuart Leven, vice-president for EMEA and managing director of RCL Cruises, who was part of the same panel, said that the cruise sector was an easy target during discussions on overtourism, highlighting that 600 million holidays are taken in Europe every year, with cruise accounting for just six million, or 1 per cent. However, 83 per cent of delegates voted that the industry was not doing enough to address the growth. During a panel of industry leaders, Robin Shaw, CEO of Saga Travel, spoke of the importance of a Brexit deal, saying that the cost of not doing a deal was too high. “Is it in both sides’ interests to get a deal? The answer is yes,” he said. “It’s a massive state of uncertainty, but if you ask me what I think, the answer is that a deal will be done.” Richard Calvert, CEO of Specialist Leisure Group, said: “With Brexit, you need to have a plan and be resolute with it. No deal or deal, we will all still be here next year.” ABTA.com
2019 Convention heads to Tokyo By ABTA Magazine staff The 2019 Travel Convention is to be held in Tokyo, it has been revealed. The annual event, which was this year held in Seville, Spain on 8-10 October, will take place from 7-9 October. Guests will stay at the Grand Prince Hotel New Takanawa, which is directly connected to the International Convention Center Pamir, where the business sessions will take place. The convention is expected to attract about 500 members of the UK travel industry. The event will take place during the Rugby World Cup, which is also being held in Japan. The Japanese National Tourism Organisation (JNTO), Japan Association of Travel Agents (JATA), ANA - All Nippon Airways and Prince Hotels & Resorts will be the host partners for the Convention. Mark Tanzer, ABTA’s chief executive, said: “I am delighted that Tokyo will be hosting the 2019 Travel Convention. “With British holidaymakers showing an increasing interest in visiting Japan, the convention will provide a great opportunity to show travel professionals all that it has to offer – from its incredible cuisine, beautiful landscapes and traditional architecture to its super-speed trains and illuminated skyscrapers. ABTA.com
November 2018 27
ABTA ‘most trusted’
Help tackle modern slavery By ABTA Magazine staff
ABTA – The Travel Association is the country’s most trusted travel scheme, according to new research. Respondents were asked to rank the travel organisations they are most confident in, on a scale of one to four (one being most confident). ABTA was ranked first on 58 per cent of occasions, 12 per cent above the next most trusted organisation, Atol (46 per cent) and almost three times more than Trustpilot (20 per cent). Victoria Bacon, ABTA director of brand and business development, said: “At a time when consumer trust in business has fallen consumers remain very confident in ABTA and our values as an organisation. They trust us above any other travel scheme and feel much more confident when booking with an ABTA Member. Holidaymakers strongly rate our expertise and see us as reliable and reassuring, which is really important at a time of such uncertainty.
Regional meetings ABTA experts are making their way around the country in the latest round of regional meetings discussing with members the pressing issues of the day, updating members on recent activities including the latest regarding Brexit. Members can expect to hear more about the work that ABTA is doing to represent the industry’s interests on both sides of the negotiation, as well as the support it is providing members, including the latest guidance on contingency planning. ABTA is also keen to hear from members about the practical impacts of Brexit on their businesses. The Package Travel Regulations, the latest training available from ABTA and ABTA’s campaigns are also being discussed. Members can book a place at their local Regional Business Meeting and view more details at abta.com.
ABTA has launched resources to help members identify and report modern slavery and tackle it within supply chains. ABTA has worked with Members on human-rights issues for many years through programmes such as Better Places, which addresses the environmental, social and economic impacts of tourism, and its Travelife certification scheme for hotels and accommodations. ABTA’s new training and guidelines supports members to understand modern slavery, develop strategies to tackle it and train staff to recognise and report it. As many as 40.3 million people worldwide were victims of modern slavery in 2016. Modern slavery includes activities of forced labour and human trafficking, and can also involve sexual exploitation. The training and guidelines were developed in partnership with Stronger Together. The online training is an introductory course that helps staff understand what modern slavery is, where and how it can occur, what to look out for and how to report it. The training is available to ABTA members for free via the ABTA Knowledge Zone. The guidelines provide more details for those who have responsibility for developing policies and practices to tackle modern slavery in their business and supply chains and are available for free on the ABTA Member Zone. ABTA.com
ABTA online The latest travel advice
The latest on visas, health requirements and destinations. See abta. com/tips-and-latest/ latest-travel-advice
28 November 2018
The full list of ABTA’s campaigns, which raise awareness of important travel issues. See abta. com/tips-and-latest/abtacampaigns
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
Responding to weather worries There has been a lot in the news recently about hurricanes and tropical storms hitting or heading towards popular holiday destinations such as Florida and the Caribbean. It has prompted quite a few customers who are going to these regions to ask questions about what would happen if they were caught in a hurricane. Do you have any advice on how best to respond? Anon
DON’T MISS Communicating FCO & Other Travel Advice to Customers, London, November 15
Hurricanes are an annual occurrence, and can affect many countries and regions. The hurricane seasons generally start in May or June and last until late November, occurring mostly – but not exclusively – in tropical parts of the world. In the western North Pacific, hurricanes are called typhoons; similar storms in the Indian Ocean and South Pacific Ocean are called cyclones. They are fed by a combination of two factors: heat and water. Over the course of the summer in tropical areas of the globe, massive amounts of water evaporate and the atmosphere is stimulated by increasing temperatures. This can lead to very powerful winds, heavy rainfall and storm surges – in other words, hurricanes. The areas of particular interest for the UK travel industry are the North Atlantic and the Caribbean. Destinations traditionally at risk are the islands of the Caribbean, Mexico and the East Coast of the US. However, as global travel becomes more accessible, destinations such as Hawaii, Laos, Vietnam, India, Japan and Australia are on our radar for storm watches. Even though the hurricane season is an annual event, hurricanes, like all weather conditions, are difficult to predict, and some seasons are much more eventful than others. Part of the work of my team is to monitor weather systems as they develop. We send Operational Bulletins to ABTA Members, enabling them to make informed decisions on how best to ensure the safety of customers in, or about to travel to, affected regions. The chances of any individual holidaymaker being affected by a hurricane remain relatively small. Hotels and resorts in hurricane-prone areas will generally remain open during the hurricane season, and will have hurricane plans in place that will be invoked if necessary. Tour operators who have customers in the path of a hurricane will make decisions on how best to look after them. This may involve moving them or placing them in shelters, but often the best thing to do is to leave them in their hotel, which may well be the best-constructed local buildings. Hurricanes can cause severe lasting damage, but this is not always the case. Factors such as speed and volumes of rain can make a major difference on its impact. A slow-moving hurricane can be particularly serious as it can linger for days rather than hours, and even a tropical storm can be dangerous and cause infrastructure damage. But destinations are incredibly resilient: services can be up and running with damage repaired in a relatively short time. However, damage assessment, working in tandem with local authorities and ground agents, is essential for tour operators after a hurricane. During the hurricane season, prices to areas that can be affected by these weather events may be lower, which may encourage people looking for bargains to travel. Signpost your customers to the Foreign and Commonwealth office travel advice. Always let them know if they are travelling in hurricane season and encourage them to book a package, so that if the worst were to occur, they would be looked after by their tour operator. Angie Hills destination services manager, ABTA
Got a question? Email: info@ABTAmag.com ABTAmag.com
November 2018 29
Looking for good value O
ne of the immediate effects of the Brexit referendum in June 2016 was the fall in value of the pound against a range of currencies, but in particular the euro and US dollar, which are the most significant currencies for the overseas holiday market. With continuing pressure on household budgets, ABTA’s latest Holiday Habits Report research shows that customers are increasingly looking for good value when choosing destinations and the types of holiday that they take. In the last few years, tried and trusted favourites – especially Spain, Portugal and Greece – have seen significant increases in UK visitor numbers. This pattern has also occurred in the German, Dutch and Scandinavian markets. All of this has inevitably, particularly in peak periods, had an impact on prices. This, combined with actual or perceived terrorist threats in Tunisia and Turkey and the ongoing closure of Sharm el Sheikh
Consumers will be on the lookout for destinations where the pound has increased in value airport, which resulted in a significant reduction in UK holidaymakers to these destinations. This year we saw a reversal of this trend, with substantial increases in visitor numbers to Egypt up 36 per cent and Turkey up 65 per cent, as well as the return of UK tour operators to Tunisia following the lifting of the Foreign Office travel advice against allbut-essential travel. The lack of any further incidents would have helped with this return in consumer confidence in these regions, but the very-good-
30 November 2018
value holidays on offer will also have proved highly attractive. All-inclusive holidays have been a great success in recent years. Families find them attractive as they remove the need to keep an eye on what they’re spending, or the worry of high credit-card bills on return to the UK, as well as largely side-stepping the issue of an unfavourable exchange rate. ABTA’s most recent consumer research found that 15 per cent of people went on an all-inclusive holiday in the past 12 months and 18 per cent were planning to do so in the coming year. If sterling shows further signs of weakness, this trend is likely to grow further still. Savvy consumers will also increasingly be on the lookout for destinations where the pound has increased in value against the local currency, such as long-haul destinations Argentina and South Africa. Eastern European countries generally have lower prices than Western Europe, with many beautiful and historical cities. Cost-conscious families have been aware of the charms of Sunny Beach in Bulgaria for years, but it is also increasingly popular with the 18-24 year old party crowd. Asia looks set for a positive year with 13 per cent of people planning to travel there in the next 12 months, up 3 per cent from last year. Holidaymakers will be drawn to low-cost long-haul flights to a variety of Asian destinations, the relatively favourable exchange rate and low costs in destination.
Director of brand and business development, ABTA
ABTA counts successes of Make Holidays Greener campaign This year’s drive saw a significant cut in the use of plastics and pledges to avoid it in the future By ABTA Magazine staff Make Holidays Greener (MHG) is ABTA’s annual campaign in partnership with Travelife for Accommodation to encourage the industry and holidaymakers to take positive social and environmental action to help create better places to live and to visit. This year, ABTA encouraged the travel industry to inspire and support customers to use less plastic via simple actions such as taking a reusable bag on holiday, not accepting plastic straws in their drinks and directly taking the #MHG18 #SayNoToPlastic pledge. The campaign ran from 1 June to 30 September this year. The website for the campaign, makeholidaysgreener.org.uk, provided an interactive platform for customer to take sustainable holiday pledges. There were 15 pledges available covering all aspects of a holiday, from eating local food and saying
no to plastic to switching off electrical appliances at the wall when they leave their hotel room. Customers who made a pledge between 1 June and 30 September were entered into a prize draw to win a GoPro camera with waterproof casing. A total of 1,290 customer pledges were received, of which a third were to say no to plastic. In addition, 75 travel-industry organisations participated in the campaign. These included companies that shared what they were already doing to reduce plastic, or pledging future action to reduce plastic, as well as coordinating other greener holiday actions such as organising a clean-up operation with their staff and customers to help keep local beaches, parks or neighbourhoods clean. An estimated 43.5 tonnes of plastic were avoided through plastic reduction with a further 5,737 kilograms removed from the ecosystem through clean ups.
Overview of the impact of this year’s Make Holidays Greener campaign: • 1,290 customer pledges were received, of which 397 were ‘say no to plastic’ • A total of approximately 100,000 people were reached with Make Holidays Greener messaging through social media • 400,000 industry professionals were reached with Make Holidays Greener messaging via trade articles • An estimated 49 tonnes of plastic waste was either avoided through the reduction of plastic use or removed from the ecosystem via clean-ups • 95 clean-ups were coordinated worldwide • 75 organisations participated in the campaign worldwide • 2,275 people participated in clean-up operations worldwide See ABTA.com for more
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Events ABTA conferences and events deliver practical training for the travel industry and help keep you and your staff up to date on the most important, business-critical issues, with a focus on practical learning. Visit ABTA.com/events to learn more about our upcoming events and register your place.
November 15 Communicating FCO and other Travel Advice to Customers, London Get practical, expert guidance on how best to communicate travel advice pre and post-booking and while customers are in resort.
Social Media in Travel, London Smart travel businesses are increasingly turning to social media advertising to help them build credibility and generate enquiries. Expert speakers will help you understand how to harness the power of social advertising to sell more.
Apprenticeships in the Travel Industry, London Get to grips with the practicalities of apprenticeships, including understanding funding, choosing a training provider, meeting off-the-job training requirements and attracting and keeping the best talent.
Travel Trends 2019, London Hear insights from ABTA on travel trends and destinations to watch for next year. An evening networking event will host top travel journalists from consumer, trade and national media – a meeting point for professionals from across the travel sector.
The Over 50s Holiday Market, London The over 50s holiday market is lucrative and growing fast. This conference, now in its third year, will focus on trends, travel insights, innovations and how to reach and engage with this demographic.
An Introduction to Customer Health and Safety Management, London Designed for travel organisations of all sizes, this seminar will provide guidance and support on how to get started with health and safety within your business.
Advanced Complaints Management Seminar, London This advanced-level seminar will give you a greater understanding of how to manage your complaints process. Plus, take away top tips that you can implement within your business.
32 November 2018
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 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 coordinate 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 czechtourism.com
Czech Tourism will be at the World Travel Market, stall EU1620 November 2018 33
Business travel New Artificial airports Intelligence
Better connections Business Travel Report
It’s good news for business travellers as a number of new facilities are set to open over the next few years
t’s staggering to think that, by 2036, IATA (the International Air Transport Association) predicts that air travel will almost double to 7.8 billion passengers a year (from four billion in 2017), with Asia-Pacific the main source of two billion yet-toemerge jet-setters. Needless to say, it will put a huge strain on infrastructure, which is why a massive amount is being invested not only revamping and expanding existing airports, but also building new ones from scratch. Due to be unveiled last month (October 29) was phase one of Istanbul New Airport, one of the most ambitious
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projects of its kind on the planet. Placed at the intersection of Europe, the Middle East and Asia, it has been designed to accommodate 200 million passengers a year (90 million to begin with) and serve up to 300 destinations. Compared with London Heathrow, for example, which has 78 million travellers passing through annually, and links to 180 cities around the globe, it’s seriously impressive. Istanbul New Airport will, in fact, be the largest and busiest airport in the world when up and running, eclipsing even Atlanta, which has been the busiest to date with just over 100 million passengers in 2017.
by Jenny Southan, business travel editor Set to replace Istanbul Atatürk Airport, which will soon close as its flights are moved over to the new hub, the site will have two runways (eventually there will be six), two terminals, 228 passport control desks, duty-free stores spanning thousands of metres, 42km of baggage handling systems, a striking air traffic control tower inspired by the flowing forms of a tulip, and Europe’s biggest airport hotel, a 451-room Yotel. It will also be the home of national carrier Turkish Airlines. Catering to increasing demand in the east is Beijing’s second international airport, the new Beijing Daxing to the south of the Chinese capital. It too is vying for the title of the world’s busiest hub, with an anticipated capacity of just over 70 million passengers a year when it opens next autumn (this could be upped to 100 million with an expansion). Designed by Zaha Hadid Architects and ADPI, the terminal will take the form of a six-pier starfish-like structure covering 700 sq km. In the Philippines, the government has approved a US$14 billion new airport for Manila,
The headlines British Airways to launch direct London to Osaka flights
BA is launching flights from London Heathrow to Osaka in April 2019, a route last served by the airline in 1998. The Japanese city will be reached four times weekly with a B787 Dreamliner.
Marriott International creates first unified brand promotion
DON’T MISS ABTA’s second annual Business Travel Law seminar will provide a comprehensive update on compliance and regulatory issues for the business travel sector. Attend this seminar for a timely update on Brexit, the new Package Travel Regulations and GDPR. 30 January, London
For the first time, Marriott International has launched a promotion for loyalty scheme members booking at any of its 29 sub-brands. Valid for stays until January 31, members will earn 2,000 bonus points on stays of two or more nights, and 1,000 bonus points per brand, starting with their second stay.
Delta to operate first biometric terminal in US
By the end of the year, Delta Air Lines will be operating the US’s first biometric airport terminal, at Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson International. Here, passport scans will be swapped for facial recognition, from check-in to boarding.
New high-speed rail link for Hong Kong and Beijing able to cope with 20 million passengers annually (up from 6.6 million last year). Over in Singapore, another significant project is Changi Airport’s forthcoming Jewel terminal, which will be linked to terminals 1, 2 and 3 by air-conditioned walkways. Opening next year, it promises to set a new benchmark for airport design. While most airports are sterile, beige and artificial, the Jewel will bring nature inside with the construction of a glass biodome containing a huge waterfall cascading down from the roof, living walls of greenery, forests of 2,000 trees and 100,000 plants and shrubs, a hedge maze and even five-storey hiking trails. Mexico City, meanwhile, has assigned Foster and Partners, in collaboration with Mexican architect Fernando Romero, to design its new X-shaped international airport surrounded by cacti gardens. Said to be one of the country’s most expensive construction projects ever, it is on track for an opening in 2020 – that is, if it can survive hurdles in the form of corruption, environmental protests and unsettled foundations (it’s being built on the bed of a dried-up lake).
This autumn, one of the world’s longest highspeed rail links was debuted between Hong Kong and Beijing, in mainland China, allowing bullet train travellers to make the 2,000km journey in just nine hours. (It previously would have taken 24 hours.)
The Standard hotel to open in London
Trendy hotel brand The Standard is to open a property in London in February, the first outside the US, where it has locations in LA, New York and Miami. Positioned near St Pancras station, it will have 250 rooms and interiors by Shawn Hausman Design.
Lufthansa Group orders Airbus planes worth US$3 billion
Lufthansa Group has placed an order with French aircraft manufacturer Airbus for US$3 billion worth of its short- and medium-haul aircraft, comprising 24 A320 NEOs and three A321 NEOs, for delivery by 2024. Ten of them will go to subsidiary Swiss. Lufthansa Group says it is “reacting to the positive market and earnings development and this ensures the necessary fleet size in the coming years”.
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Business travel New airports
Previous page: Istanbul New Airport is set to become the world’s busiest airport. It is one of several major airport projects worldwide
The master plan includes two more terminals, enabling it to serve 125 million people (up from its initial 68 million) a year, and a total of six runways by 2062 (up from three at the ribbon cutting). Reinforcing the trend embodied by Changi’s Jewel for eco-sensitive design and an emphasis on nature and well-being, Mexico City’s new airport is intended to qualify for platinum LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) status, and will have solar power, rainwater harvesting and fresh air pumped in from outside. In North America, New Orleans’ new $1 billion terminal is to begin operations next May, replacing the existing airport, although this will be some months later than originally anticipated. (Some of the delays are down to problems with
a sinking sewer line.) The light-filled building will have one single security area, meaning everyone is funnelled through into airside from the same place, and can then go onwards to explore the three concourses or find their gates. Highlights include a “jazz garden” where musicians will perform. At the same time, New York JFK is preparing for a US$10 billion upgrade, “transforming it for the 21st century”, as Governor Andrew Cuomo said last year. In a statement he said: “JFK International airport welcomes more international passengers to the United States than any other airport in the country, and that number is expected to grow dramatically over the next several decades. But, for far too long, JFK has fallen short of today’s global standards.
Five new airport lounges Qantas, Business Class, Perth
Unveiled in the spring for the launch of non-stop flights from London, this lounge provides anti-jet lag lights, 15 showers, a hydration station, stretching classes and an outdoor terrace with a Neil Perry-designed barbecue menu to help travellers feel refreshed.
Plaza Premium First, Hong Kong International
Upon arrival at Plaza Premium’s new pay-per-use First lounge, guests receive a mocktail and a neck massage, after which they can order an a la carte meal in the restaurant. Showers are stocked with Elemis products and there are private rooms for meetings.
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There are overcrowded facilities, confusing on-airport roadways and poor airport accessibility. In fact, JFK ranks 59th among the world’s top 100 airports.” By 2030, passenger capacity is expected to tip 75 million a year, and to make life easier for these travellers, JFK is working on unifying its existing six terminals by creating a single one under one roof. Security will also be boosted with video tracking and facial recognition technology that can be used to speed people through checkpoints where they would otherwise have had to wait to show a passport or boarding pass. New York’s LaGuardia is also receiving a facelift that will take place over 10 years at a cost of US$7.9 billion, proving that there is no such thing as resting on your laurels when it comes to air transport. ABTAmag.com
Air France Business Class, Paris CDG
Revamped in July, this lounge now offers flyers a huge wellness area with a Clarins spa, a gourmet table of freshly prepared food and a gold-ceilinged bar featuring a cocktail menu designed by the Hotel Lancaster in Paris.
Star Alliance, First and Business Class, Rome Fiumicino
Opened in the summer, this modern Italian outpost from the Star Alliance group sports communal workdesks with lots of USB sockets, a bar serving espresso coffee and prosecco, and a dedicated area for making phone calls.
United Polaris, George Bush International Houston
Also debuting in the summer was United’s new Polaris business class facility. It features local artwork and food typical of the US South. Two day beds are made up with Saks Fifth Avenue sheets and the six showers suites have Cowshed amenities from Soho House.
For more information on skiing in Austria, see austria.info or b2b.austria.info/uk
Image copyright: Ski Juwel Alpbachtal Wildschönau
Winter wonderland With guaranteed snow, cosy lodges and ski slopes for all levels – not to mention unrivalled après-ski – Austria has it all
ffering long winter seasons where powdery, fluffy snow settles, state-of-the-art infrastructure and options for all levels, Austria offers unrivalled skiing experiences, attracting winter sport fanatics from all across the world. Austria offers guaranteed snow: in Tyrol alone there are five glaciers, such as the Hintertux, which offers year-round skiing. Add to that world-class facilities, both on and off the slopes, family-run hotels and restaurants, gemütlichkeit (that is, the Austrian concept of cosiness, comfort and homeliness) and the country’s love of aprèsski, and you have a recipe for an unbeatable winter holiday. Here we present to you four reasons why Austria has it all.
SHORT FLIGHTS, GREAT VALUE
With an average direct flying time of under two hours from most major UK airports, Austria is an easy, affordable winter break. From Innsbruck, guests have access to the breathtaking Ski Juwel Alpbachtal Wildschönau in Tyrol. The family-friendly resort, which offers an affordable ski pass, accommodation and excellent ski schools,
is 45 minutes from Innsbruck via transfer and 90 minutes from Munich, across the border in Germany. There is also the availability of Austria’s rail network, with good-value SparSchiene tickets from the ÖBB (Austrian Federal Railways). From lift passes to ski schools and eating and drinking out, Austrian resorts offer greater value for money compared with other European resorts. There are deals to be had, too: The Alpbachtal Seenland Card (available free of charge at your accommodation) includes numerous all-inclusive services like free bus services, toboggan hire, guided snow shoe or torch light walks in winter.
APRES-SKI AND HOMELY FOOD
Austrian slopes offer unbeatable après-ski, from cosy round-the-fire gatherings to allnight parties. Whether your tipple of choice is Jägertee (tea, wine, rum, brandy, orange juice, spices and lemons heated in a pot) or Jägerbombs, Austria’s mountain resorts offer activities for all. As you might expect, the food here is hearty, homely and warming. In the Austrian mountains, guests will find the likes of
kaiserschmarrn (a shredded pancake) and delicious cheesy noodles – just the sort of sustenance needed before hitting the slopes.
AMAZING CHOICE ON THE SLOPES…
Austria has a staggering 426 ski areas, so all levels of expertise are catered for – and all types of holiday. For example, there’s Skicircus, one of the largest ski areas in the world, and Arlberg, the country’s largest contiguous skiing area, as well as more intimate hidden gems such as Ski Juwel Alpachtal Wildschönau. In Zell am See-Kaprun you can ski the Kitzsteinhorn glacier in the morning and ice skate on the frozen Lake Zell in the afternoon.
… AND OFF THEM
From winter walking to igloo-building, tobogganing to dog-sledding, there is plenty outside of skiing and snowboarding. The country also has a long tradition of health and wellbeing with many spas just moments from the slopes, such as Aqua Dome in Ötztal in Tirol. Relaxation and adventure all in one.
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Spotlight on Hays Travel
Hays Travel The perfect blend of career progression, reward, flexibility and fun is the secret to this travel giant’s success, as Sam Ballard discovers
ast May, John Hays stood in front of a small group of staff and customers at Hays Travel’s first store in Seaham, County Durham, and announced on Facebook Live that the company’s annual revenue had just broken the £1billion mark for the very first time. To celebrate, a clearly elated Hays announced that each member of staff would receive a £100 bonus for every year that they had worked for the company. The video racked up more than 262,000 views. “The staff are the biggest reason we reached £1billion,” says Hays, speaking to ABTA Magazine. “We have second-year apprentices who were awarded £100 right up to a number of people who have done 30 years with us and received £3,000. In
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total we spent £1million celebrating – and the bulk of that went to our staff.” Having been founded in 1980, Hays Travel has come a long way to being the travel giant it is today. The company opened its second store in 1982 in Sunderland and was operating seven stores in the northeast by 1987. Fast forward to today, and the company’s network of stores is due to hit 180 before Christmas (with 10 opening between now and then) – all of which is bolstered by more than 250 homeworkers. However, with the recent demise of many venerable high street names, as well as constant noises – mainly from outside the industry – that travel agencies are struggling, what is the secret behind Hays Travel’s success?
“My view on the high street is that some things are timeless,” says Hays. “High-quality, personalised service – and it must add value. I always ask my staff a rhetorical question, which is, ‘Why should a customer book with you?’ There has to be a reason.” Hays Travel is also an industry leader when it comes to motivating its staff – proven by its regular inclusion in The Sunday Times’ list of the 100 best companies to work for. Part of that comes in the form of initiatives such as this year’s big bonus; however, that is only part of a wider strategy to develop a happy workforce. For John Hays, it all starts with the company’s apprentices. “Our apprenticeship scheme has been going on for years – almost since the
start,” he explains. “Over the years, we have developed a good reputation for developing apprentices, giving them good training and the opportunity for a good career. This year we took 150 more apprentices on and received more than 3,000 applications for those positions. That’s 20 young people for every advertised position.” That is extraordinary. As well as being testament to the lure of the travel industry – and the opportunities that it brings – it also points to the fact that an apprenticeship with Hays Travel could be the beginning of a long career, something that John Hays says lots of his staff have benefitted from. “We have a company policy of always promoting from within whenever we can,” he says. “When you look at how many new shops we’re opening up, you can see how many opportunities exist for our staff to grow. “Those opportunities keep the team motivated. In a lot of our shops, I would say more than half, every single one of our team – from the manager down – would have joined us as an apprentice straight from school. When apprentices see that clear career progression, it really helps.” One of the biggest drivers of Hays Travel’s success has been how the company has managed to adapt to changing trends within the industry. Homeworking is the best example of this, with more experienced individuals wanting to work to their own schedules and be their own bosses, without having all the resources to handle back-office functions. Hays explains: “We have two models for our homeworkers. One is for more mature, experienced professionals
who want to work from home and start their own company. They are often, although not always, people whose kids are at school and who want to build their business around their home life, rather than commuting and doing set hours. “The second is for either employed or self-employed specialists where we don’t currently have shops but are still generating leads. It might be a specialist area such as cruise, where we are having a recruitment drive right now. “We want to grow the numbers, but we’re also quite picky. We’ll support them but they need to be a self-starter. We’ll only have people who take it seriously. They’re operating under the Hays Travel brand and if they don’t tick the right boxes
in terms of culture and motivation then we don’t want them.” It’s a policy that seems to be working. The division now boasts multiple homeworkers who have earned more than £100,000 in gross commission from clients so far this year – upon which Hays pays out 60 per cent. Arguably the most impressive thing about Hays Travel’s homeworkers, however, is that while they have continued to increase the numbers, they have also seen their profitability increase by 20 per cent year-on-year. Regardless of what part of the business Hays is talking about, it always comes down to the quality of his people and the culture that he promotes within the business. One small example is that every summer since the company launched, Hays has hosted a regular summer party for his agents. Since its first incarnation when “eight people were invited and six showed up” to now, the event has morphed into something very different, with musicians, marquees and Portaloos – not to mention 540 members of staff. All of whom were hosted in John Hays’ garden. “I’ve got a tennis court in my garden, I love playing,” says Hays. “This year, we had a band in the garden and hundreds of people dancing on the tennis court. It was brilliant. But hundreds of people in high heels took its toll. My tennis court looked like Glastonbury on Monday morning. I didn’t mind though. It was great fun.” ABTAmag.com
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A world away
aga offers an exciting range of escorted tours. From rail to cruise tours, we take you on unforgettable journeys through some of the world’s most beautiful and dramatic regions, visiting world-famous sights, getting to the heart of the local culture and experiencing the ever-changing scenery and landscapes. And all from the comfort of our well-appointed coaches, trains or ships. Designed exclusively for the over 50s, our tours comprise of a diverse range of itineraries across European and long-haul destinations; from Spain to Uzbekistan and Croatia to the Himalayas. There are also
Rocky Mountains and Alaskan Adventure Discover the natural beauty of Canada and Alaska and admire the breathtaking scenery of the Rockies as you journey on the Rocky Mountaineer train. Explore the vibrant city of Vancouver, then enjoy a seven-night cruise along the Alaskan coastline.
specialist themed tours, such as gorilla trekking in Uganda or tracing the Spanish pilgrimage routes with our expert guides. Our well-balanced itineraries are expertly planned to balance busy days of sightseeing with quieter days for relaxing or independent exploration. Plus, our tours are clearly rated, stating how active each is and ensuring customers choose the one most suited to them. Experienced Tour Managers are always on-hand, meeting guests on arrival at the airport and being available throughout each journey. Solo travellers always receive a warm welcome. Single rooms are available at no
extra cost on many of our itineraries and, because more than a fifth of our customers are solo travellers, we offer a wide range of exclusive solo departures. Join small groups for big adventures in groups of no more than 14 on selected departures. We offer fantastic value for money and included extras – guests on all worldwide tours and selected European tours get a VIP door-to-door travel service. Our all-inclusive tours offer even more, from included excursions to drinks packages. Whatever you choose, we guarantee satisfaction: 98% of our customers rate their holiday as ‘excellent’ or ‘good’.
Patagonia: A Tour to the Ends of The Earth Using Buenos Aires as your launch pad, explore the gateway to Tierra del Fuego, El Calafate and the majestic panoramas of Torres Del Paine and the Perito Moreno glacier.
Inclusions: • Optional travel insurance underwritten by Great Lakes Insurance SE, UK Branch, and additional cancellation rights, unless you have your own, in which case a reduction is available • VIP door-to-door travel service on all Worldwide holidays and selected European tours • A Saga Tour Manager or Cruise Escort • All tour travel in air-conditioned transport (where applicable) • Visits to many of the must-see sights • Cruise ship facilities and hotel accommodation as described • Return economy flights, coach or rail travel, as specified on the holiday pages • All airport taxes, fees and charges plus allowance for one piece of hold baggage per person (even on no-frills airlines) • Named hotel accommodation and meals • Porterage at your accommodation • Return transfer between your overseas airport and your accommodation • A visa, on selected holidays, as required for all British Citizens resident in the UK • Port taxes
Gorillas of Uganda Enjoy a nine-night tour of Uganda, including gorilla trekking and chimpanzee tracking. Hike in the Rwenzori Mountains, cruise the Kazinga Channel and explore Mburo National Park.
Uzbekistan: Heart of the Silk Route Embark on an eastern adventure to the exotic cities of Uzbekistan, a historic crossroads on the Great Silk Route’s path across Central Asia. Travel across a rugged landscape little changed since the days of Genghis Khan and Alexander the Great.
The Golden Triangle and Tiger Trail Discover India’s famed Golden Triangle – Delhi, regal Jaipur and romantic Agra – and keep an eye out for the elusive tiger on safari in Ranthambore National Park.
A World in One Country So diverse is South Africa that it is almost a world in one country! Discover the incredible wildlife of Kruger National Park, the scenic Garden and Wine Routes, and the beauty of the magnificent Cape Coast.
UK holidays Cairngorms
Cairngorms In the heart of the Scottish Highlands, a visionary new initiative is now boosting biodiversity and nature-based tourism, writes Daniel Allen
rom a vantage point high above the mist-cloaked Glenfeshie valley, one side of Coire Garbhlach glows golden in the late afternoon sun. To the east, carpeted in alpine flowers, the undulating, high-altitude tableland of Moine Mhor (“Great Moss” in Gaelic) stretches as far as the towering peak of Ben Macdui. On the edge of Scotland’s Cairngorms National Park, it’s a wildly dramatic panorama. To many of us, the term Scottish Highland estate conjures up images of grouse hunting, mounted stag’s heads and musty stately homes. Yet here on Glenfeshie, a new way of managing the land is leading to tourism and leisurely pursuits of an altogether different and far more benign kind. “The concept is pretty simple,” says Davie McGibbon, the Glenfeshie estate’s head gamekeeper, as he strides over the Moine Mhor looking for red deer. “In the absence of predators, we are committed to keeping deer numbers at a natural level to prevent overgrazing. Doing this lets native
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tree species return, which in turn benefits a whole range of other animals and plants.” From around 100 deer per square mile in 2002, the Glenfeshie estate is now down to just five. As a result, virtually every landscape is undergoing an evolution, with Scots pines recolonising valleys and slopes. There have been increased sightings of field voles, red squirrels, pine martens, golden eagles and tawny owls, while populations of endangered black grouse and capercaillie are also thriving. Glenfeshie is not the only body of land within the Cairngorms National Park looking to boost biodiversity by controlling deer numbers. The Cairngorms Connect project has seen the estate team up with RSPB Scotland, Scottish Natural Heritage and Forestry Enterprise Scotland. The four neighbouring landholders, whose properties cover a combined 595 square km, share a long-term vision to restore habitats and grow nature-based tourism. Drawn to the comeback of wild nature, increasing numbers of people are already
Great hotels Killiehuntly Farmhouse & Cottage, Kingussie
As part of the Wildland portfolio and a stone’s throw from Glenfeshie, this luxuriously renovated “Scandi-Scot” property is the perfect place to explore the beauty of the Cairngorms. killiehuntly.scot
Cairngorm Hotel, Aviemore
Aviemore is the gateway to the Cairngorms. This well-located, traditional, mid-range hotel is set in its own wooded grounds and comes with an excellent Scottish breakfast. cairngorm.com
Aviemore Youth Hostel
Surrounded by woodland, the popular Aviemore Youth Hostel sits on the edge of the Cairngorms National Park and is just a short walk from the town centre. An ideal base for outdoor enthusiasts, backpackers and families. hostellingscotland.org.uk
visiting the Cairngorms Connect area. Lodges and bothies (former labourer’s huts or cottages that are now used by hikers) are being renovated and reopened, while active pursuits and nature-based experiences are multiplying. On the Glenfeshie estate, which is part of the Wildland Limited property portfolio, guests can hike, bike, ride horses, swim and go birdwatching. James Shooter is a photographer, filmmaker and guide who has lived and worked in the Cairngorms National Park for five years, running a series of wildlife photography hides to watch species such as osprey, red squirrel, crested tit and black grouse. He believes Cairngorms Connect should be a role model for other conservation initiatives across the UK. “This is exactly the kind of ambitious landscape-scale restoration project that we need in this country if we are to improve the overall health of our habitats and wildlife,” says Shooter. “With Cairngorms Connect developing and the wild gradually becoming wilder, so the local nature-based economy is really taking off. It’s great to see more and more people reconnecting with nature here.” cairngormsconnect.org.uk
Meet the member Stevie Christie head of sales, Wilderness Scotland
Previous page: native tree species are returning. Right: the spectacular scenery of the Cairngorms
ABTA member Wilderness Scotland is based in the heart of the Cairngorms National Park in Aviemore. We caught up with Stevie Christie, the company’s head of sales, to find out more.
Can you tell readers a little about the history of your company and its connection with the Cairngorms?
Wilderness Scotland has a long history with the Cairngorms and the Scottish Highlands, and the region has always been a core part of our trips. In our free time, we’re out exploring the mountains, valleys and lochs ourselves any way we can – on foot, by bike, in a kayak or by swimming.
What tours does Wilderness Scotland currently run to the Cairngorms?
We have an easy walking trip, Cairngorms National Park & Royal Deeside. The highlights include walking along an old smugglers’ pass, a hike to a 13th-century castle and a visit to one
DON’T MISS The UK Holiday Market Birmingham, 13 November
of the most beautiful and little-known glens in the Cairngorms, Glenfeshie. For those looking for more of a challenge, check out the High Points of the Cairngorms National Park. Highlights include the summits of some of the Cairngorms’ most impressive peaks, and Scotland’s only herd of reindeer. And for those looking to explore the Cairngorms from a new perspective, try our Canoeing the Scottish Highlands tour. Highlights include exploring iconic Loch Ness to search for the mythical Nessie, the spectacular Aigas Gorge, and paddling the quiet waters of the rivers and lochs of the Cairngorms.
How would you say tourism in the Cairngorms is evolving?
As more and more people visit and broadcast the beauty of this area to the world, so the standard of accommodation and tourism experiences is constantly improving. At Wilderness Scotland we’re proud to promote Scotland’s remote corners, bringing visitors to off-the-beaten-track locations and communities.
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With the largest coastline on the Mediterranean and located at the historical crossing point of Europe, Africa and Asia, Greece is simply unmissable
enowned for its unspoilt fishing villages, fascinating archaeological sites, postcard-perfect coastlines and delicious and authentic food, mainland Greece offers the perfect Mediterranean escape. Here we pick three destinations deserving of your attention.
Home to one of the largest and most important group of Eastern Orthodox monasteries in the country, Meteora is a Unesco World Heritage Site. Perched upon jutting rocks, these incredible buildings combine history with geographical wonder, resulting in one of Greece’s most spectacular sights. Meterora itself means ‘hovering in the air’, and the region is home to the Holy Monastery of Great Meteoron, containing a 14th century katholikon church, as well as the difficult-to-reach Monastery of the Holy Trinity, where visitors have to cross a valley climb 140 or so steps to reach its entrance. James Bond fans make recognise it from For Your Eyes
Only. Meteora is served by the nearby towns of Kalambaka and Kastraki. Getting there: A train to Kalambaka station from Athens takes five hours and 20 minutes, and there are also seasonal flights from London to Kalamata Airport, which is two-and-a-half hours’ drive from Meteora.
Founded in the sixth century, the breathtaking medieval tower town of Monemvasiá is a popular wedding location, given its dramatic backdrops. Located on the southeastern coast of the Peloponnese, this peaceful and isolated town is built into the side of a rockface 100 metres above sea level. Residents live in the cobblestone lower town, home to four working churches and a handful of restaurants and hotels. The deserted upper town, the original fortress, is ripe for exploration. Getting there: Almost seperated from the mainland bar a short causeway, the town is around three-and-a-half hours by bus from Athens, and six hours by ferry from Piraeus.
A mountain in southeastern Thessaly, Pelion offers a chance ot authentic, smalltown Greek life. Surrounded by fishing villages and deserted beaches, with stone buildings carved out of grey and blue slate and red clay. Of the 24 villages circling Pelion, Portaria, at the foot of the mountain, is the most cosmopolitan, but provides a gateway to sea and ski resorts. Boasting luxurious hotels, traditional hostels, restaurants and tavernas, coffee houses, bars and shops, it’s the busiest village in the region. Alternatively, there’s Tsagkarada, found 500 metres above sea level on the eastern side of Pelion. A wild frontier of Greece, its dense forests and sparsely populated village look out to the azure Aegean Sea. Pelion’s highest summit, Stavros, is 1.624 metres, stretching for around 50km, and is loved by thrill-seekers. Getting there: Seasonal direct flights connect London and Volos. Alternatively, there are year-round flights to Thessaloniki, which is two hours’ drive to Volos.
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City Guide Fez Fez, Morocco
Fez, Morocco Considered the spiritual and cultural heart of the Kingdom, Fez has emerged as the essential Morocco city destination, writes Andrew Forbes
orocco almost touches Europe, yet it is tantalisingly exotic. Fez, the first capital of Morocco, and the oldest of the country’s imperial cities, epitomises the wonder of this north African country, where even the ordinary feels extraordinary. The city has enjoyed a renaissance in recent years, with an ambitious renovation of its remarkable medina, the unveiling of new hotels, and the opening of contemporary restaurants. Fez remains truly authentic, where contemporary daily life is still interwoven with age-old traditions. Founded by the Idrisid dynasty in the 8th and 9th centuries, Fez has grown to have three distinct city districts, which together offer an exceptional architectural and cultural legacy that makes for an enthralling visit.
The original medina, known as Old Fez (Fes el-Bali), is a Unesco World Heritage site, the epicentre of the Moroccan crafts industry and a bustling community where thousands live and work. The bazaars, souks and artisan workshops of the medina are the living history of Fez. Said to be the world’s largest car-free urban area, it can justifiably be described as labyrinthine. Exploring the busy lanes and alleyways is a sure-fire way to become disorientated. Yet that is the best way to become immersed in the magic of the old town, one of
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the oldest living medieval cities in the world. Although there are colour-coded signposted itineraries in the medina, highlighting routes that take in palaces, crafts workshops and hidden gardens, the easiest way to navigate Old Fez is with a professional guide. The Old Town attractions include the iconic Chaouwara Tanneries, dating back to the 11th century, and the imperial architecture of the historic madrasas and medersas. These religious colleges established Fez as a centre of science and spirituality, and are impressive for their beautifully designed tiles, restored cedar wood ceilings and carved stonework that is so evocative of Morocco.
Leaving the medina and passing through Jardin Jnan Sbil, the elegant, restored city park, also known as Bou Jeloud Gardens, one reaches Fes Jdid, the second city. Despite being called New Fez, it was in fact founded in the 13th century by the Marinid dynasty. Here, the Mellah, the walled Jewish quarter, is noticeably different to the secluded riads of the warrenlike medina: the streets are lined with multistorey homes with large windows and carved wooden balconies facing outwards. Ville Nouvelle, the contemporary commercial city of Fez built at the beginning of the 20th century by the French, is the third portion of Fez.
Operators Train adventure
Great Rail Journeys’ 13-day tour from the shores of southern Spain to Morocco includes a traditional show and dinner in the ancient medina of Fez: from £2,995pp. greatrail.com
Experience authentic Fez in true style, staying in the remarkable medina at Riad Fez. Kirker Holidays offers three nights, including flights and transfers: from £729pp. kirkerholidays.com
G Adventures’ Morocco Kasbahs & Desert tour includes the ruins of Volubilis outside Fez and a tour of the city’s medina with a guide; from £539pp. gadventures.com
This is where modern Morocco most visibly collides with the old – a place of contemporary bars, restaurants and boutiques. Here, European influences in architecture, cuisine and design fuse with African and Arab culture. Served by direct flights from London, the new terminal at Fes-Saïss International Airport was inaugurated by King Mohammed VI last year. It is an investment that has increased the airport’s passenger capacity fivefold. This is a bold demonstration of Morocco’s confidence in Fez as an international destination, and an invitation for carriers to offer more direct flights. Last year, the city experienced a 25 per cent increase in visitor numbers, double the average for Morocco as a whole. June is one of the most popular months to visit, when the Fez Festival of World Sacred Music, an international phenomenon of world music, art and cultural dialogue, is held at venues across the city. Autumn is also popular, when temperatures are more comfortable.
Discerning tourism has driven growth in stylish hotels in Fez. Once-abandoned riads – the traditional, palatial-style houses with cool, shaded courtyards – have been reimagined as chic and characterful guest houses and modest boutique hotels. There’s genuine luxury, too. The renowned Riad Fes, an upscale Relais & Châteaux hotel housed within a spectacular cluster of ancient buildings, is one of the finest hotels, with its beautiful patio courtyards and elegantly appointed guest suites. Its sister hotel is the contemporary, architect-designed Hotel Sahrai, built just outside the city walls in classic Fassi Moroccan style, with stunning interiors by Parisian designer Christophe Pillet. These properties are the epitome of modern style and splendour in this royal city. They are complemented by an array of fine-dining restaurants in equally striking riads and historic palaces. Fassi cuisine is among the best in the country, comprising plenty of local specialities and snacks such as spiced pigeon meat wrapped in fine,
flaky pastry, and tasty street food such as Maakouda – fried potato balls. However, expect more than traditional tagines and colourful couscous; Fez also offers some of the finest contemporary cuisine in Morocco. At the exclusive Restaurant Nur, chef Najat Kaanache brings to Fez her cutting-edge style, fine-tuned in Spain, transforming the exotic market-fresh ingredients of the local souks into a gastronomic tasting menu that changes daily. Fez is undoubtedly a destination to watch. It is embracing change but defending its unique character, offering visitors a quintessential Moroccan experience in style. ABTAmag.com
Pictured Above: the stunning ancient medina of Fes el-Bali is a Unesco World Heritage site Below: an array of colourful babouche for sale in the souk
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Features Great Barrier Reef
Exploration conservation The Great Barrier Reef is one of the world’s most amazing sights. James Litston looks at how to visit – and help protect – this natural wonder
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mong the Grand Canyon, Himalayas and other world icons visible from space, only one – Australia’s Great Barrier Reef – has the distinction of being alive. Stretching for 2,300km and spanning the equivalent of 70 million football fields, its islands, cays and reefs are the product of countless coral organisms. This vast, living structure parallels the Queensland coast all the way to Cape York and provides a home to myriad fish, birds and sharks, not to mention whales, dolphins, dugongs and six different types of sea turtle. Above the surface lie castaway isles, ancient rainforests and some of the world’s best beaches, many of which are footprintfree beyond those left by nesting turtles. Scattered here and there are frontier towns and modern resorts that cater to backpackers, couples and families, plus
luxurious island escapes for the very top end of the market. From the Southern Reef’s Lady Elliott Island up to Lizard Island in the north, clients will find reef experiences for every budget, type and style. Little wonder then that the Great Barrier Reef features prominently on many a bucket-list. Research by Tourism Australia indicates that it’s “the number one experience preference for travellers coming to Australia”, something that the regional tourist board is eager to leverage. “We know the Great Barrier Reef is a massive draw for this part of Australia,” says Jane Nicholson, International Director UK, Tourism and Events Queensland. “As a result, tour operators have grown their product ranges to include different ways to experience the Reef, from day-trips and island stays to sailing, diving and helicopter flights.”
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Features Great Barrier Reef
Previous page: the Great Barrier Reef is home to six of the world’s seven species of sea turtle. Above: it is the most immersive of experiences, with many ways to explore its natural beauty
50 November 2018
Trouble in paradise In tandem with the growth in demand for visiting the Reef is an awareness of its vulnerability. In 2016, an episode of bleaching – when warmer-than-normal sea temperatures cause corals to lose their colour – was so extreme that a third of the Reef’s corals died. The phenomenon struck again last year, particularly in the Reef’s northern reaches. Although improved conditions saw significant recovery in 2018, climate change is compounded by pollution, overfishing, shipping and coastal development to make this natural wonder less resilient to environmental stress. On the flip side, this summer saw the establishment of the Coral Sea Marine Park, which abuts the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park to create one of the world’s largest protected areas.
ON THE MARKET One such operator is Kuoni, which offers a range of exploratory options from the gateways of Cairns, Port Douglas and Hamilton Island. “Customers can choose from large, pontoon-based excursions or smaller vessels,” says Senior Product Executive, Tom Waite. “We’ve also just reintroduced Coral Expeditions’ immersive three, four and seven-night cruises from Cairns in response to increased demand for more in-depth and rewarding Reef discoveries.” Coral Expeditions is an ideal choice for clients seeking to experience different aspects of the Reef. Its flexible, yearround sailings fit easily into a wider Australia itinerary and allow the chance to snorkel and dive on unspoiled, littlevisited offshore reefs (glass-bottomed boat tours are also available for those keen to keep their hair dry). The smallship ethos ensures a balance between comfort and adventure, while visits to mangroves, rainforests and remote reefs and settlements add to the mix. What’s more, Coral allows clients to understand the threats the Reef faces, and the importance of conservation. The company supports initiatives such as Eye
Q&A with Kerry Golds Managing Director, Abercrombie & Kent Are you noticing any new trends?
What’s hot on the GBR right now? Hamilton Island remains a firm favourite, especially iconic Qualia: every element of this fabulous resort is perfectly designed. Elsewhere, Cairns has rainforest hills and a harbour full of boats to take clients to the Reef. Savvy travellers head an hour north to Port Douglas, gateway to the Daintree Rainforest, where the five-star Pullman Port Douglas Sea Temple Resort & Spa (located on Four Mile Beach) sells well for us.
on the Reef and Citizens of the Great Barrier Reef (which engage visitors and local communities on the importance of healthy marine environments) and has been committed to responsible practices since launching operations here 30 years ago. Its structured itineraries also ensure that individual sites are only visited once per week to minimise disturbance. Another leading light in responsible tourism on the Reef is Lady Elliot Island, a single-island resort on its southernmost fringe. As well as cutting fuel consumption by switching to solar power and more efficient water desalination, Lady Elliot’s owners have restored habitat for nesting seabirds and are careful to ensure that lights don’t interfere with sea turtle activity. The island now welcomes nearly 60 bird species and its green turtle population is increasing. “It’s also known for reliable manta ray sightings”, reveals Charlie Adams, Regional Destination Manager at Austravel, for whom Lady Elliot is an in-demand product. “The range of accommodation options from cabins to two-bedroom suites makes it suitable for clients on various budgets. There are snorkelling, diving and tours on boats or kayaks with see-through bottoms,
We’re seeing a spike in people returning to places where they backpacked when younger, but are now revisiting with considerably more style. We’re calling it “backpacker evolution”. With more efficient air links, Australia is more accessible than ever and is no longer for just once in a lifetime.
Why is it popular?
The Great Barrier Reef is the jewel in Australia’s crown and really resonates with the UK market, especially in the wake of Blue Planet 2. Clients can mix island-hopping with coastal getaways.
plus bird-watching and turtle safaris (in season) to watch hatchlings dash to the sea.” NEW FOR ’19 As for other island escapes, the Whitsundays are increasingly popular thanks to the pulling power of Whitehaven Beach, not to mention easy access by air or ferry from the mainland. The archipelago is particularly newsworthy for its new and updated accommodations following a major setback when Cyclone Debbie tore through in April 2017. Daydream Island Resort and Spa – a favourite with families – was devastated and is still undergoing a AU$100 million redevelopment. It is due to reopen later this year as an upgraded 4.5star retreat with 290 rooms and suites, five bars and three restaurants. Also soon to re-launch is Hayman Island, which was utterly destroyed by the storm. Following another AU$100 million investment, the resort (formerly a One&Only) will reopen in early 2019 as a 166-room InterContinental. Qualia, on Hamilton Island, is another seriously luxurious resort but was much less badly damaged, reopening after just three months. Its 60 free-standing,
It’s also one of very few places in the world where two Unesco World Heritage sites meet – the Daintree Rainforest and the Reef itself.
What do customers package the Reef with as part of their holiday Down Under? For first-timers, it’s always Sydney, Rock & Reef. Repeat visitors tend to go back to the classics, but we’re also seeing growth in Western Australia on the back of the nonstop Qantas flights, plus South Australia and the Northern Territory for their exceptional Outback experiences.
sea-view pavilions, all tucked into natural vegetation, have long made it a big producer for ITC. The company’s Australia product manager, David Pointer, says, “Along with Lizard Island, Qualia does very well with our clients. We’ve just expanded our Australia programme beyond these luxury hotel stays to offer a more tailor-made, multi-centre portfolio, which goes on sale this month.” Back on the mainland, there’s further invigoration of the hotel scene in Cairns with the opening of Riley (located on the Esplanade) this month. The first of four properties under the Crystalbrook Collection brand, it’s slated to offer an “ultra-modern urban escape” with its own personality and a host of laudable green initiatives. Three sister properties – Bailey, Flynn and Harper – will open in the next few years, each with a signature twist. Add in the likes of rainforest hikes and authentic Aboriginal encounters and it’s clear that clients can expect far more than coral from the Barrier Reef. And with so many options to visit it responsibly and sustainably, there’s no better way to experience this wonder of the natural world. ABTAmag.com
November 2018 51
First tracks Nicky Holford looks at new developments in skiing, as the industry looks to appeal to a range of budgets with more inclusive holidays
ore than a million Britons take a ski or snowboarding holiday each year and it remains an increasingly popular holiday choice. However, with ski season on the horizon and uncertainty in Europe, tour operators have had to be inventive. The fall in the pound has made the cost of a ski holiday more sensitive than ever, resulting in a move towards guaranteeing as much in the price as possible – from meals to lift tickets, lessons and equipment rental. “The currency fluctuations have meant more consumers are wanting to lock-in the full cost of their holiday, says Paul Carter, CEO of Inghams. “Savvy skiers may be thinking ahead on a no-deal Brexit and potential parity. As a result pre-booked life pass sales are definitely up.” Another area for cost-cutting is location. The popular top international resorts such as Zermatt in Switzerland, Lech in Austria and the Trois Vallées in France may have
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the largest ski areas, but they also have the costliest lift ticket prices and extras. Staying at some of the resorts that connect to these areas have given resorts such as St Martin de Belleville a new lease of life as more affordable options. Neilson, for example, has opened its first flagship hotel in the resort of Les Menuires. Self-drive and self-catering holidays are also on the rise. Erna Low, which has been operating since 1932, has added a number of smaller, family-orientated resorts with shorter drive times from the UK. “Over the last few seasons we have been selling more self-drive holidays to the French Alps than anywhere else,” says Joanna Yellowlees-Bound, Erna Low CEO. Both Peak Retreats, which specialises in lesser-known resorts with access to great skiing, and Erna Low have added ArêchesBeaufort this year. “It’s a good value family resort with a shorter drive time from Calais,” says Yellowlees-Bound.
Further afield in Asia, skiing is booming. Ski Safari has added Skye Niseko, Japan’s newest five-star ski-in, ski-out hotel to its programme. Japan’s legendary powder puts it on the bucket list of die-hard skiers. The countdown to the 2022 Winter Olympic Games being hosted in Beijing means that China is pulling out all the stops. New resorts are planned with government financing and the world’s largest indoor ski resort, Wintastar, is to be built in Shanghai. Club Med now has two resorts in China. Away from the heavy shadow of Brexit could it be a new destination for British ski specialists?
There’s no shortage of additions: from yoga and healthy holiday to dining in gondolas designed by Porsche, Himalayan salt saunas, new spas and five-star hotels, plus new and expanded ski areas. Over the next few pages we’ll take a look at them.
Austria Schnapps, kaiserschmarrn (a dessert of shredded pancakes and lingonberry jam) and picturesque villages with onion-domed churches give Austria an old-world feel, but lifts, hotels and spas are being systematically updated, making it a perennial favourite for ski-goers. This season a new 10-person gondola opens in Hochgurgl, adding more variety to the ObergurglHochgurgl ski area. The six-day lift pass also includes the 145km Sölden area, where some dramatic scenes from the James Bond film Spectre were shot. An increase in flights to Innsbruck make many of the Austrian Tirol ski resorts such as St Anton am Arlberg, Mayrhofen and Stubai even easier to reach. Crystal Holidays introduces Serfaus, with its 198km ski area with connections to the ski areas of Fiss and Ladis, excellent for families and all standards of skiers. Kitzbühel has two new lifts, Mayrhofen has a new €18 million gondola and Ischgl is investing €25 million replacing the old Gampen chairlift and other ski infrastructure. Known for its legendary après ski (ski boots are banned after 8pm, with fines of up to €2,000) and celebrity concerts, Ischgl’s latest innovations are also on the slopes. A favourite is following one of the Smugglers Runs marked on the piste map with symbols to follow at strategic points. There’s gold (35km), silver (25km) and bronze (mostly blue slopes) that follow old smuggler routes between Paznaun and the Swiss border town of Samnaun.
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North America The spectacular scenery and top-class resorts of the Canadian Rockies remain popular, despite the long journey and the exchange rate. As well as destination holidays in celebrated resorts such as Whistler, Banff and Lake Louise, some tour operators are also offering two-centre options. Inghams, for example, offers Banff and Whistler, or Jasper and Banff. Ski Safari has diversified to combine different experiences such as whale watching with skiing in Whistler, or seeing the northern lights. Other two choice holidays include Big Sky and Yellowstone National Park, Whistler and Hawaii. There’s a heli-skiing in the Arctic option, or a week’s cat skiing in Aspen. A favourite with Wild West aficionados, the resort of Jackson Hole opens a brand new mountain sports school, Solitude Station, this winter. Located at the mid-station of the Sweetwater gondola, the school is for children aged seven and upwards, beginner adults and group lessons. There are also two cafeteria restaurants. If you have time and money to burn check out the Ikon Pass, which covers 36 destinations worldwide.
France France, given its proximity to the UK and abundance of great food and wine, remains a favourite among Brits, and continues to develop its ski offering. The small, intermediate resort of La Rosière is opening a new advanced ski area providing five new red pistes and an off-piste, freeride section in the bowl below Mont Valaisan. The new area is served by two fast chairlifts – the Moulin Express, which connects to the higher Mont Valaisan Express. The 6km of slopes that form the €15 million expansion include a long off-piste run to Le Vaz with the highest point at 2,800m. It is easily reached from the new Hyatt Centric in Les Eucherts. Les Arcs celebrates its 50th anniversary with Club Med’s newest and largest venue, Les Arcs Panorama, while Peak Retreats adds 12 new properties for 2018/2019. In Vaujany, which links to Alpe d’Huez, you can check out the new gondolas to Montfrais or have dinner in the new Enversin d’Oz gondola designed by Porsche. Meanwhile, Alpe d’Huez has opened a new five-star hotel, the Daria-I Nor.
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Italy As one of the best-value destinations, where you can still get a coffee for €1 on the mountain, Ski-2 introduces two new hotels in Champoluc: the five star CampZero and four-star Hotel Charmant Petit Lac. There’s also a replaced main gondola. “Bookings are looking good for our 20th winter in Champoluc,” says Ski-2 co-owner Roger Walker. “Our prices include a full Monterosa lift pass and lunches at a choice of mountain restaurants, and we have our British ski school.” Up the Aosta Valley, Courmayeur gets a new five-star hotel, Le Massif, opening in December, which will also have a slope-side restaurant. The ultimate gourmet experience once again takes place in the South Tyrolean Dolomites at Alta Badia, when 10 Michelin-star chefs participate in A Taste for Skiing, celebrating its 10th anniversary at the Altissimo in December. Sommelier on the slopes wine tasting takes place on dates between December 2018 and March 2019.
Switzerland Zermatt has a new cable car – the world’s highest – reaching 3,883m at the Klein Matterhorn. The Matterhorn glacier ride will whisk 2,000 skiers in 25 gondolas, four of which are encrusted with 280,000 Swarovski crystals. There’s even a glass floor which, three minutes into the journey, will clear to show dramatic views onto the glacier below. Taste of Zermatt brings together 18 restaurants with 255 Gault Millau points and three Michelin stars together. The legendary Zermatt mountain restaurants can’t be beaten, although you may need a second mortgage to take full advantage. The former sleepy town of Andermatt, with its formidable off-piste area, has virtually doubled in size thanks to a new ski area. It is linked via a two-stage gondola from the train station to the top of Nätschen, accessing the slopes of Oberalp and Sedrun. The new Nätschen-Sedrun has many intermediate pistes and a 90km ski area. ABTAmag.com
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Section SUBJECT Features Japan
A different Japan Anthony Pearce gets off the Golden Route and enjoys the fresh produce and bucolic beauty of Hokkaido, the northernmost of Japan’s main islands
mist hangs over the peaceful Lake Onuma, obscuring the volcanic Mount Komagatake, which sits across the water. There is barely a soul in sight. The neonlit streets of Tokyo’s Shibuya, home to the world’s busiest intersection, feel a long, long way away. With its dense alpine forests, volcanic landscapes, hot springs and heavy snowfall in winter, the sparsely populated and strikingly beautiful Hokkaido remains Japan’s wild frontier. The most northerly of its main islands, the prefecture makes up 20 per cent of the country’s land area but only five per cent of its population. To put that in perspective: Tokyo’s population density is 6,158 people per square kilometre; Hokkaido’s is just 72. Yet Hokkaido is remarkably accessible; Tokyo Haneda is an hour’s flight away, while the famed Hokkaido Shinkansen
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– better known as the bullet train – links the capital to the port city of Hakodate. Although known for its ski resorts, Hokkaido has much more to offer than winter sports, as hikers, cyclists and other adventure seekers will attest. With cherry blossoms in spring, lavender in summer and beautiful autumn foliage, the island boasts breathtaking scenery year-round, as well as a fascinating history (that of its indigenous people, the Ainu), Sapporo beer, Nikka whisky and perhaps the world’s finest seafood. It’s no surprise that Lonely Planet named Hokkaido the top destination to visit in Asia in 2016. Sixty-five per cent of tourists who visit Japan explore its famed golden route – Tokyo, Hakone (for Mount Fuji) and Kyoto. But with a target of 40 million visitors a year by 2020 (see news, p11), the government is keen to promote lesser-known regions and four-seasons tourism. It’s an easy
sell: Hokkaido, which in parts feels more Scandinavian than it does classically Japanese, has charm in abundance. As we soon discover in its lively capital, Sapporo – a calmer, but just as enthralling version of Tokyo – Hokkaido isn’t all about the great outdoors, but also its unique culture. Susukino, Sapporo’s bustling red-light district, is its most famous area, known for nightclubs, bars, izakayas (Japanese pubs) and restaurants. In the city, we eat at the Sapporo Beer Garden, adjacent to its famous beer brewery, where we enjoy a Mongolian-style banquet. The food is a major part of Hokkaido’s appeal. The region is known for its produce – from dairy (milk, cheese and ice cream) to beef, whisky and beer. Each meal time, we’re treated to a feast: salmon, trout, scallop, squid, sea urchin, crab and octopus make up sushi, sashimi (raw fish) and tempura dishes, while we also try
Coping with earthquakes In September, a powerful earthquake hit the island of Hokkaido, killing 41 people, and leaving three million households without electricity. Power was restored within a day and public transport links reopened.
Japanese curry, ramen, broths, hot pots and sticky rice. Each dish is simple – never overpowered with flavour, with soy sauce or wasabi as an accompaniment – and thus completely reliant on the quality of the ingredients. The fish is the freshest, and best, I’ve ever tasted. In Hakodate, we take in the city lights from Mount Hakodate, explore the historic Old Public Hall of Hakodate Ward, the city’s charming red-brick bay-area docks, which bears a strong resemblance to San Francisco, and its bustling Morning Market, which appears to serve every
The ABTA Convention 2019 will take place at the Grand Prince Hotel New Takanawa in Tokyo October 7-9, 2019, Tokyo
type of seafood there is. Here, moving among locals, cruise ship passengers and other tourists, we sample squid that is caught as we wait. At the Nikka distillery in the Yoichi district of the Shiribeshi subprefecture, we’re treated to award-winning single-malt whisky, the result of one man’s pilgrimage to Scotland in the early 1900s and lifelong obsession with Islay malt. Whisky is a slowmoving world, but Nikka is now considered one of the world’s top producers. As one Japanophile quips: “When the Japanese decide to do something, they master it.”
It’s true that Japan is unlike any other country in Asia, or indeed the world. That it is a high-tech, highly developed nation is obvious from the moment you step off the plane: public transport is extremely punctual (our bullet train arrives five minutes early). It is also incredibly clean in all public spaces – you won’t spot litter anywhere). Even here, in what is essentially the country’s outback, everything runs like clockwork; there’s an attention to detail in every part of society that makes it one of the world’s most fascinating destinations. ABTAmag.com
Exploring Hokkaido and beyond by train From Hakodate, we took the Hokkaido Shinkansen bullet train, which can travel at 260kmh, through the Seikan Tunnel to Aomori in the Tohoku region on Honshu, the largest island. The city, the capital of an underexplored region, is home to the Nebuta Festival, which takes place in August and is known for its elaborate illuminated floats. Outside of the festival season, the Nebuta Museum Wa Rasse, which charts its history and displays some of the incredible four-ton creations (left), is well worth a visit. Purchasing a JR East-South Hokkaido Rail Pass is a great way to explore Hokkaido and beyond.
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ABTA Magazine Industry insights
The falling pound Gary Noakes sees how sterling holds up against non-euro currencies, and how this might dictate post-Brexit travel
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ive months before Brexit, a question consumers and travel organisers are keen to have answered is how currency rates will be affected – and how this will influence holiday spending. No one needs reminding that following the Brexit referendum in June 2016, the pound’s value fell from €1.3 to €1.16 in a fortnight and, in terms of consumer exchange rates, has stayed below €1.2 ever since. Sterling has also fallen against the dollar – with which aviation fuel is bought. Although this September’s $1.32 level seems not far below the pre-referendum $1.47, memories of a pound buying $1.75 a decade ago are just that. This is in tandem with a rise in oil prices; crude oil now trades at about $69 a barrel, compared with $50 a year ago, meaning aviation fuel is more expensive. Hedging smooths currency and oil price spikes, but on the face of it, it’s not looking good. The long-term picture, however, may give some hope, as Post Office Travel Money’s Andrew Brown explains: “If you were to do a graph over the last 10 years, the euro would range from around €1.4 to a low of around €1.02. The average would not be much different from where it is today, around €1.2, and the travel market has grown steadily since the economic crisis of 2008/9.” ONS figures confirm this; last year, a record 72.8 million Britons went abroad, two million more than in 2016. Figures now surpass the previous peak of 12 years ago (69.5 million of us travelled abroad in 2006) and have a long way to fall
before they hit 2010’s trough of 55 million visits – Brexit’s effects will have to be very corrosive before that figure is seen again. Similarly, look at the long-term oil price trend and you find a spread between $140 in 2008 and $35 in 2016, with $100-plus rates for several years in-between, so perhaps we should not be too alarmed, although Brown concedes that the 10-year spread on the dollar is much wider than the euro’s. “That has an impact,” he says.
In the post-Brexit era, there will still be many countries where the pound is strong In short-haul, operators have been switching to non-euro destinations – witness Tui UK’s move into Croatia’s islands of Krk and Rab next summer. Croatia saw a 26 per cent jump in UK arrivals last year and Tui is following canny consumers away from the western Mediterranean. As well as the destination switch, Brown points to another change in the past decade: that of flexible durations, which help consumers manage costs in times of unfavourable exchange rates. “Go back 10 years and it was seven or 14-night holidays. Now, we’ve seen some shrinkage as people who can’t afford a fortnight go for 10 nights,” he says. Whatever the pound’s woes, somewhere is always worse off than us and, currently,
that country is Turkey. August saw the imposition of US sanctions on Turkish metal exports, a punch to Turkey’s already weak economy that prompted the lira to crash. In September 2017, a pound bought around 4.8 lira; a year later, sterling was worth 8 lira and back came the bargainloving Brits. Figures from market research company GfK show UK bookings to Turkey are up 80 per cent year on year. The switch is also apparent in longhaul, with hotspots such as South Africa trending. In-country costs have fallen in 14 of 34 long-haul destinations surveyed by the Post Office, with Brazil’s down 33 per cent since last year and Cape Town’s down 20 per cent in a year, both due to their respective currency’s weakness. Sterling might not buy as many euros as it once did, but in some places, it still ensures a luxury break at bargain rates. In the post-Brexit era, there will be many countries where the pound is still powerful. The burgeoning number of flight options means much greater flexibility and cheap long-haul destinations are within easier reach. But perhaps none of this really matters. A survey of 500 consumers by payment advice service DCC Forum found 70 per cent could not identify the correct dollar exchange rate, and 41 per cent that of the euro. Ignorance is bliss, and the number of Brits travelling abroad seems set to increase. The recent Holiday Habits Report revealed says that 60 per cent of the population took a foreign holiday in the past 12 months – the highest figure since 2011. ABTAmag.com
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7. Self-esteem (3) 8. Attack (7) 9. City of Seven Hills (4) 10. Ollieâ€™s oppo (4) 13. One way to disappear (4,4,3) 14. It breaks daily (4) 15. Golda ---, former Israeli PM (4) 18. Some shipping routes (7) 19. Pale or brown beverage (3)
1. Testify (4,7) 2. Cabin attendant (4,7) 3. Large liquid container (3) 4. Put into action (3) 5. Port at the tip of Chile (5,6) 6. Travel plans (11) 11. When a ship should arrive (1,1,1) 12. Knightâ€™s honorific (3) 16. Billy Connolly, the Big --- (3) 17. Cleoâ€™s killer (3)
How many words can you make out of these letters?
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S R W SEPTEMBER SOLUTIONS 1
C K C
& 2 %
1 3 2
5 2 2 ' 5 / /
& 8 &
Where in the world? Name the city in these four images
Competition time WIN! 2 return tickets to South America!
To celebrate the addition of Air Europa’s new Boeing 787 Dreamliners to its fleet, the airline is giving away two return economy tickets to any of its Dreamliner destinations. These include Miami, Sao Paulo, Bogota, Santo Domingo, Lima, Buenos Aires and Panama, Air Europa’s latest route, launching on 25 February 2019. To enter the competition, answer the following question:
How many destinations in Latin America does Air Europa fly to? Email your answer to info@ABTAmag.com before 19 December 2018.
Win A 2-night stay at INNSIDE Manchester Win a two-night stay at the INNSIDE Manchester, located in the First Street development in the heart of Manchester To enter the competition, answer the following question:
What is the name of the travel trade booking platform for Meliã Hotels? Email your answer to info@ABTAmag.com before 31 December 2018.
September’s answer was Lyon
Terms and conditions apply for both competitions. See ABTAmag.com/2018/11/01/terms
November 2018 61
Final word Victoria Bacon
Each issue we speak to an ABTA employee about their work. This time, it’s Victoria Bacon, director of brand and business development
DON’T MISS Travel Trends 2019 London, November 26
he public’s trust in ABTA is one of the main benefits that members cite about joining the association, and one of my main roles is managing the brand and its reputation. It’s about brand stewardship: looking at everything we do from a member and consumer perspective to make sure whatever we’re doing doesn’t damage that trust we have built with holidaymakers, and that we’re always finding better ways to work with members. Within my team I have the PR and media team, the marketing and the brand team – which look after the websites, ABTA today, all of the digital work – as well as the member-engagement teams, which deal with the reactive handling of queries coming in from members, our regional meetings and our events team, which also delivers an expanding events programme. So, that’s the reason for the slightly unusual job title – it covers communications and business development, because whenever we’re looking to do something, we do it through the lens of does it support our members, and does it work for the brand? RAISING THE GAME Since I’ve been in the role, I’ve tried to focus on what our brand is and what it stands for. Historically, people have got almost bogged down in the debate about whether we’re a financialprotection company or not, so we went out and did some consumer research, and what came through really strongly is that members of the public saw us as more than just that. They recognised our code of conduct, our work to raise standards in the industry around health and safety and sustainability, and our customer complaints-handling. That gave me and the board
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Social Media in Travel London, November 15
the impetus to launch the ‘Travel with Confidence’ strapline four years ago. That was about saying that ABTA members are reputable companies and you can have confidence when you are booking with them. SPEAKING FOR THE INDUSTRY Another big part of my job is asking what are the areas within travel and tourism where we can help our members and increase our profile among principal decision-makers, in order to make sure people are listening to us and our members. A big part of the reason that ABTA has an influential voice in government and among other stakeholders is because we represent the industry, and also because we have a strong communications team that is effective at consumer campaigning work – from travel fraud to health and safety to fake sickness claims. An important part of the job is media crisis-management. Every week something major happens; I’m not exaggerating. We’re in quite a unique industry. If you think about it, every time something happens in the world where there are British tourists, ABTA gets a call about it. If someone gets ill or if there’s fog at Heathrow and planes are grounded, if there are disruptive passengers, a Zika outbreak, delays at passport control, a hurricane… you name it! Whenever I get into work on Monday, there’s always going to be an unknown that I haven’t planned for. Fortunately, ABTA is pretty well-versed by now. ABTAmag.com
ABTAMAG.COM 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. ABTAmag.com will also host ABTA Golf, the ABTA Magazine Guides and the ABTA Handbooks.
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
Why business travel has been reshaped around the needs of millennials
Waterslides, robotic barmen and the world’s largest cruise ships
ABTA Magazine A BTA
T R AV E
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. co.uk or visit Better Places on the Member Zone for more information.
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ABTAmag.com – available on desktop, phone and tablet
The November issue of ABTA Magazine featuring Nicky Holford's ski round-up; James Litston on the Great Barrier Reef; Anthony Pearce in Hokka...
Published on Oct 31, 2018
The November issue of ABTA Magazine featuring Nicky Holford's ski round-up; James Litston on the Great Barrier Reef; Anthony Pearce in Hokka...