Page 1











*Terms and conditions apply. Please see you local travel agent for full details.






Two tickets to the Love Island Live Final and a Fam Trip to Majorca!

2ND PRIZE £1000 marketing spend


£500 marketing spend


*Terms and conditions apply. Please see full details. LOVE ISLAND™ and © ITV Studios Limited and Motion Content Group 2019. Licensed by ITV Broadcasting Limited. All rights reserved.

Under the surface

Travel industry insights / July 2019

Beneath Toronto’s glittering skyline exists a rich mix of touristic charms, all of which are contributing to a boom in breaks to Canada’s largest city

Chasing thrills

Intrepid or otherwise, adventure tourism is diverse enough for all

Virgin Voyages

The inside track on how the new cruise line is getting the trade on side

A taste of Italy

Travel through distinct regions and sate your appetite like a local

Discover the majesty of Canada aboard Rocky Mountaineer It’s one of the world’s greatest railway journeys, travelling amidst Canada’s rugged peaks, pine-scented valleys and thundering waterfalls. Through the panoramic windows of Rocky Mountaineer, your customers may even spot wild bears, moose and bald eagles. Saga’s Rocky Mountaineer adventures include: • • • • • • •

A VIP door-to-door travel servwice Optional travel insurance§ All flights, transfers and accommodation Two days on Rocky Mountaineer A tour of Banff National Park A cable car ascent of Sulphur Mountain An ice explorer ride over the Athabasca Glacier, and much more.

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Book online at, call FREE on 0800 074 8021 or contact Trade Support FREE on 0800 068 8732 Visit our new online training platform at Find us on social media Saga Trade Team §Includes optional travel insurance underwritten by Great Lakes Insurance SE, UK Branch, and additional cancellation rights, or a price reduction if not required (cover subject to medical questions). Saga holidays and cruises are exclusively for the over 50s. A travel companion may be 40+. NHA-TW5845.

Under the surface

Travel industry insights / July 2019

Beneath Toronto’s glittering skyline exists a rich mix of touristic charms, all of which are contributing to a boom in breaks to Canada’s largest city

Chasing thrills

Intrepid or otherwise, adventure tourism is diverse enough for all

Virgin Voyages

The inside track on how the new cruise line is getting the trade on side

A taste of Italy

Travel through distinct regions and sate your appetite like a local

Take time in Toronto


ome to more than 230 different nationalities, Toronto eclipses even London as the world’s most multicultural city, according to research by the BBC. The largest city in Canada by population (and fourth largest in north America), the Ontarion capital is a melting pot of ideas, cuisines and cultures – and it wears its diversity proudly. Now connected by direct flights from London Heathrow, Manchester and Glasgow, the city is more accessible than ever. We sent James Litston to explore this progressive and exciting destination – you can read his illuminating feature on p48. In this issue, we also take a look at the booming adventure travel market on p54, which includes everything from polar cruises to walking holidays, plus we sit down with Brian Young, the managing director of G Adventures, a company that has innovated boldly in the market. Elsewhere, we check in with Saga ahead of the launch of Spirit of Discovery, its first new-build ship, which is set to shake up the ex-UK cruise market (p36), Christine Smallwood heads on a tour of Italy’s best gastronomic spots (p60) and Gary Noakes returns with a look at the end of the Airbus A380 in our regular Industry Insights piece (p62). As ever, we bring you travel industry news (from p9), plus all the latest from ABTA, The Travel Association (from p24), including news, campaigns, expert advice and events. We hope you enjoy reading.

ABTA events

See p29 for the full list

July 10

July 11

October 2

A Beginner’s Guide to Travel Law, London

New to Travel Marketing, London

New Markets in Cruise, London

July 2019



July 2019

Under the surface A closer peek at what makes Toronto tick

FEATURES The flavours of Italy Eat like a local with Italian delicacies and wines


Chasing thrills The adventure market has something for everyone

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

020 3865 9360

Director Sam Ballard Director Anthony Pearce

Senior sales manager Bryan Johnson 020 3865 9338

With thanks to: James Litston, Christine Smallwood, Heidi Fuller-Love, Rose Dykins, Gary Noakes

Sales manager Rory Collins 020 3865 4815 Twitter: @ABTAMagazine Facebook: ABTAMagazine LinkedIn: ABTAMagazine

Head of design Billy Odell

ABTA 30 Park Street, London SE1 9EQ

Business travel editor Jenny Southan

Chief executive Mark Tanzer

Sub-editors Emily Eastman, Nathaniel Cramp 4 July 2019


Chairman Noel Josephides

January 2019 4


In the July issue



44 Contributors Jenny Southan is an awardwinning freelance travel journalist, and editor and founder of trend forecaster Globetrender. Of all the crazy experiences that roving travel reporter James Litston has sought out, a heli-selfie in Rio de Janeiro could well be the maddest. Gary Noakes is a writer and editor specialising in travel and the nuts and bolts of the industry, particularly aviation. Rose Dykins is a freelance travel journalist and editor who has written for The Telegraph, Lonely Planet and The Sunday Times Travel Magazine.


July 2019


Editor’s letter This issue we explore Canada’s biggest city and dive into the world of adventure travel


On trend Tunisia expects higher visitor numbers and emissions fall at Southampton Airport


News All the latest travel industry news, plus an interview with Tourism New Zealand


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


Interview: Virgin Voyages The line’s CEO and VP of sales and business development on getting the trade on side


ABTA section All the latest news, campaigns and events from ABTA


Business travel Jenny Southan reports on how the digital payment revolution is making inroads in travel


Spotlight on… Saga, the over-50s line that is altering perceptions to impressive effect


UK holidays A new Hebridean Whisky Trail gives visitors a taste for Scotland’s northwest islands


City guide: Tel Aviv With dozens of eclectic neighbourhoods, this compact beachside city invites you to explore

64 66

Gamesroom Take time out to play some games Final word Carolyn Wincer, commercial director at Travelife for Accommodation, shares how the organisation helps tour operators achieve sustainability along their supply chains


MIYAGI Mount Zao

235 km

Elevation: 1,841m Home to the hotspring town of Zao Onsen, the spectacular Okama Crater and, in winter, a leading ski resort with 32 lifts

Matsushima Bay 260 tiny islands covered in pines

1,000 cherry trees At the Hitome Senbon Zakura Festival

Capital city: Sendai Average temperature: 13.5°c August 27.5°c


276 restaurants were recognised in the first edition of the Miyagi Michelin Guide. Sushi Yui, a sushi restaurant in Sendai city, is the only restaurant to be awarded two Michelin stars in the guide. Chimatsushima in Shiogama and Manmi Takahashi in Sendai are two of 11 restaurants in the one-Michelin-star category.


January: 2.4°c Average rainfall: 1,209mm 90-minute bullet train to Tokyo

Sendai Area Pass: One-day unlimited rides on JR trains, subway lines, buses, ¥1,300 ( Sendai Marugoto Pass: Two-day unlimited rides on JR trains, subway lines, buses, ¥2,670 (

Where to stay Royal Park Hotel, Sendai Luxurious hotel set in lush green scenery Hotel Zuiho, Sendai Hot-spring hotel perfect for families Hotel Ubudo, Matsushima Bay Bali-style hot-spring hotel on the bay

Minamisanriku Hotel Kanyo, Sanriku Coast Coastal resort with hot springs Shoan, Matsushima Bay Luxury escape from the busy waterfront

Sunsunkan Lodge, Sanriku coast Rural school converted into guest rooms Chikusenso Mt Zao Onsen Beautiful hotel at the foot of Mt Zao For more, see

News On trendJuly

On trend


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

Top 30


Last month, the Travel Village Group welcomed almost 500 industry members to the Blackpool Tower to celebrate the company’s 60th anniversary

Royal Caribbean Cruises’ Richard Fain

has been included in a list of the top 30 chief executives for a second year in a row by financial publication Barron’s. It is Fain’s second consecutive year on the list. He has been Caribbean Cruises’

chairman and chief executive since 1988.

Tunisia expects a rise in UK visitors Tunisia expects UK visitor numbers to reach at least 200,000 by the end of this year, up from 124,000 in 2018. In 2017, there were around 27,000 UK visitors. after the FCO relaxed its travel advice. See p

Emissions at Southampton Airport fell by 43% in 2018 despite a record number of two million passengers travelling through the airport for the past two years.

150 Virgin Atlantic will ask for 150 of the new runway slots created by the expansion of Heathrow Airport. Chief executive Shai


July 2019

new runway slots Weiss said his airline should be given 43 per cent of the 350 new take-off and landing slots when the airport’s £14 billion

third runway is built by 2026. IAG, which owns British Airways, holds about 57 per cent of current capacity at Heathrow.

News July 2019

All the latest headlines from the world of travel

Tunisia visitor numbers up


Hays goes social By Emily Eastman

By Emily Eastman Visitor numbers to Tunisia are expected to reach 200,000 by the end of this year, up from 124,000 in 2019 – an increase of 60 per cent. The growth in visitors comes after the Foreign and Commonwealth Office softened its travel advice for Tunisia in 2017. Tui and Thomas Cook reintroduced Tunisia to their summer programmes in 2018, with the former adding an extra 37,000 seats for this summer on flights from the UK. Flights from the

UK to Tunisia have more than doubled from last year, up to 38 flights a week from 17 last year. Meanwhile, Thomas Cook has said Tunisia is “trending” for 2019, with bookings up fivefold following the operator’s reintroduction of package holidays to the country. The Tunisian National Tourist Office UK and Ireland expects UK visitor numbers to hit a peak of 440,000 within the next few years – a return to the high recorded in 2014. Internationally, Tunisia is targeting nine million visitors for this year.

Hays Travel has recruited 48 agents to work in its digital contact centre following a significant increase in enquiries via social media channels from a “new breed” of customer. Hays says that it needs a “new breed of agent to cater for them”. Founder John Hays says that engaging customers on social media is helping to drive the business forward, leading to more bookings across its expanding network of shops. Digital enquiries have risen by 300 per cent over the past two years. Hays Travel launched its new contact centre in 2017 with a dedicated social media division.

Marc Mulcahy

Trade Development Consultant – UK & Ireland, Tourism New Zealand What’s new in New Zealand? There are plenty of new openings in New Zealand for the upcoming summer season. In the luxury space we have seen the arrival of the Lindis in the Southern Alps, five chalets in the unfolding landscape of the Ahuriri Valley. The architecture is spectacular and the surrounds are ideal for gliding, fly fishing and guided experiences such as heli hiking and heli biking. The Lindis Group also recently opened the Paroa Bay Winery in Northland and Chalet New Zermatt in Queenstown. We have also recently seen the launch of some great Maori cultural experiences, including Karitane Maori Tours. Situated north of Dunedin, this is a new adventure

and ecotourism business that offers a unique insight into local Maori culture and history. Alternatively, guests can get off the beaten track with Kohutapu Lodge & Tribal tours in the relatively unexplored Bay of Plenty, with the opportunity to stay in a marae (Maori meeting grounds) and explore pristine rainforests. They can enjoy food from a hāngi (earth oven) and try their hands at traditional Māori arts. If rugby is your thing then, just in time for the World Cup, Eden Park rugby ground has started Haka in the Park. Fans can experience the power of the haka during this unique experience; guests receive a powerful powhiri (welcome) and guided tour of the stadium before learning

the haka in the All Blacks’ changing room and then performing it on the field. Lastly, the Paparoa Track, our newest addition to the Great Walks of New Zealand, our premier multi-day walking tracks, will open for business in December. Designed for both mountain bikers and walkers, this is a 55km track crossing the Paparoa Range in the rugged and awe-inspiring West Coast region of the south island.  Continued on page 12

July 2019







Opaque lakes of stunning emerald green and turquoise twinkle under the white ice glaciers. Join us for an incredible journey on the Rocky Mountaineer train and a luxury cruise to world’s largest great wilderness, Alaska. CONTACT OUR AGENCY SALES TEAM:

Call for support: 01283 744307 | Email:


Call to book: 01283 744370 | Book online: Riviera Travel booking terms and conditions apply. Prices correct at time of print.

ABTA No. V4744




More time needed to respond Jet2 to serve Crete to airline insolvency review By Emily Eastman

By Emily Eastman and Jet2holidays will serve the Greek island of Crete from April next year as part of an extended summer season. Holidaymakers will be able to book flights and holidays to the city of Heraklion from five UK airports from April 3, 2020, to cover the Easter holidays. Departures will run from Birmingham, Glasgow, Leeds Bradford, London Stansted and Manchester until October or early November. The city of Chania will also be served by the operator.

ABTA is urging the government to support a “full and detailed” consultation into airline failure protection, arguing that a longer time frame is needed to respond to an airline insolvency review that proposes a 50p per passenger levy. The airline review, which came after the collapse of Monarch Airlines, took two years to complete. The industry is being given six weeks to respond. ABTA chief executive Mark Tanzer said: “ABTA has long argued for a comprehensive approach to consumer protection relating to airline failure.

Continued from page 9

be the first to know about the launch of new products as well as details of our upcoming competitions and fam trip opportunities.

Why are UK numbers down? We are seeing a softening of our visitor numbers to New Zealand, partly due to uncertainty over Brexit. However, we measure the value of visitors beyond arrivals and the average spend of visitors from the UK is one of the highest across any of our markets. In addition, those on holiday from the UK visit more regions on average, distributing the economic benefit of tourism across the country, which presents real value for New Zealand. Overall, UK arrivals continue to be a strong foundation of our visitor mix.   How can UK agents learn more? Our 100 per cent Pure New Zealand Specialist Programme is a fun and interactive way for agents to learn more about our regions and what’s on offer across the country. We have a regularly scheduled webinar programme that allows travel consultants to dig a little deeper on a range of subjects and we also host a number of training evenings and roadshows throughout the year. Our travel trade site, traveltrade., is our one-stop resource hub for agents where they can find all our training tools and resources, including our agent-specific video content. Here, you can also sign up to our trade newsletter to

12 July 2019

Around three quarters (73.2 per cent) of British travellers venture outside of the main tourist centres and into the regions. Why do you think this is?   British visitors stay an average of 25 days in New Zealand, so it’s no wonder that they visit multiple regions. Getting out of the main centres is a must on a New Zealand trip as this is where you will experience the diversity of the country, including white-sand beaches, volcanic plateaus, glaciers, native forests and the magnificent Southern Alps. People often view New Zealand as a once-in-a-lifetime holiday, so they want to make the most of the trip. However, 23 per cent of our arrivals are repeat visitors, so lots of people do end up coming back for more!    What is the ‘average’ holiday for a Brit in New Zealand? Where do they go and what do they do? The long length of stay and the ease of travel in New Zealand makes it an ideal road trip destination, with over 50 per cent  hiring a car or a camper on their trip. They tend to visit both islands and five or six different regions. The great outdoors and our incredible landscapes are a massive draw for UK visitors, with 84 per

“While we recognise this is a complex policy area, and that multiple tools will likely be required to provide a comprehensive solution, ABTA believes the proposals represent a sensible and pragmatic basis for further consideration by government. “However, the time frame for consultation following the publication of the very rigorous two-year airline insolvency review – just six weeks – falls short of the time required to consult fully on and develop the required analysis of an issue of such importance for travellers and the wider travel industry. “ABTA urges the government to bring forward, at the earliest opportunity, a full and detailed consultation on this matter.”

cent visiting one our National Parks, 86 per cent hiking and 92 per cent observing wildlife. We really do see visitors enjoying all they can in New Zealand, with food and wine high on the list, as well as taking part in unique Maori cultural experiences.


ABTA’s solo travel event sheds light on a diverse and increasingly popular market By Anthony Pearce Solo travellers want advice on safe places to go, the ability to have 24-hour contact with tour operators and no single supplement, delegates at ABTA’s solo travel conference were told. That’s according to Liesa Bissett, product and operations director at G Touring, which owns JustYouHolidays and Travelsphere. She was speaking at the New Opportunities in the Solo Travel Market Event in central London last month. ABTA Magazine was media sponsor. Will Sarson, head of specialist product at Riviera Travel, told delegates that “until solo travellers have as much choice as other

travellers our work is not done”, adding that solo travel can be “transformational” for firsttime customers. Much of the event focused on how solo travel is increasingly a choice for British holidaymakers, and not always out of necessity. Emily Jones, ABTA’s media and PR manager, said that solo travellers were grabbing the “opportunity to do what they want” by taking “purpose-driven trips”. The event shed light on a growing but diverse market, with different operators appealing to their own demographics and finding a range of motivations for solo travel. Jones said ABTA had seen a rise in female solo travel, but more men take trips independently.

Radha Vyas, a co-founder of Flash Pack, said it aims its marketing at those in their 30s and 40s who feel “slightly isolated when [their friends] start settling down”, but no longer want to go backpacking. Vyas said that for Flash Pack’s customers, making new friends was among the most important factors – clients join a WhatsApp group before travelling so they can get to know one another. Natasha Lawrence, project director at Contiki, said that pre-trip, travellers see themselves as being independent, but “quickly embrace the group element – the pack forms”. She said the operator was seeing a move away from twin-share to multi-share, with hostel trips growing.


Scandic opens fifth hotel Marski by Scandic, the chain’s fifth signature hotel, has opened in Helsinki. The newly refurbished 363-room lodging has meeting and event spaces, a bar and café and a wellness centre. Originally opened in 1962, the hotel has been renovated to become a Scandic signature hotel, inspired by the roots of Finnish tradition. The design draws on the Finnish outdoors, and sustainability is an important part of operations. The hotel carries the official Nordic Swan Ecolabel certification.

July 2019 13

Inspiring Journeys USA & Canada Cool mountain peaks and even cooler cities, North America offers a world of experiences From the towering Rockies bejewelled with glittering lakes and glaciers to the big-sky country of its prairie heartland and the thundering Niagara Falls, Canada certainly has its wild side. These natural wonders are balanced with the dignified bustle of its cities and distinctive culture of its historic maritime ports. This vast land is the second-largest country on the planet, so it’s no wonder there’s such a breadth of sights and experiences to behold. Roam the mountain trails of British Columbia’s Rocky Mountains and wonder at the sheer scale you encounter there; try

out your French language skills in Montreal then tuck into fresh seafood, local wines, traditional French cuisine and, of course, lashings of maple syrup.


From Alaska’s mighty glaciers to the iconic Statue of Liberty, foot-tapping New Orleans to the neon nights of Las Vegas, this vast continent offers supersized travel experiences. Discover the bustling seaport of Vancouver, glide the mighty Mississippi, stagger at the Grand Canyon or hang out with the glitterati in Miami.

Road to the Rockies and Alaskan Explorer Explore the spectacular Rockies on this scenic journey amid the mountain peaks and forests of western Canada. A leisurely road trip will lead you to Vancouver, from where you travel on to the glistening Alaskan waters for a week-long cruise through the breathtaking Inside Passage.

Vancouver and the Rockies The glacial wilderness and spectacular mountain landscapes of the Canadian Rockies are sure to leave you breathless with wonder, and this scenic journey ensures you don’t miss any of the highlights.

Journey through the Clouds The awe-inspiring scenery of Canada’s Rocky Mountains awaits on this tour. Journey through stunning landscapes on the Rocky Mountaineer and explore the breathtaking Banff National Park, with time in Vancouver and Calgary.

The Best of Canada’s East and West Discover East and West Canada on this new tour that starts from Montreal, taking in Ottawa, Toronto, Vancouver and more magnificent scenery and vibrant cities. You will also visit the famous Niagara Falls.

Highlights of Eastern Canada This memorable tour contrasts the cities of eastern Canada, from historic Ottawa to ultra-modern Toronto and sophisticated Montreal. Marvel too at the breathtaking natural splendour of the Thousand Islands and aweinspiring Niagara Falls.

Niagara, New York and Washington DC An eight-night tour that starts in Canada and continues in the United States of America reveals their most iconic attractions. You’ll stay beside Niagara Falls, then close to Times Square in New York City and finally in the capital, Washington DC…

Colours of New England New England is famous for its autumn spectacle. Join us on one of our autumn departures to marvel at this magnificent natural display, or come instead in the spring when the daffodils and crocuses provide the colourful display.

Taste of the Deep South From Nashville to New Orleans, this exciting tour gives you a real flavour of the musical heritage of the American Deep South. Visit Elvis Presley’s Graceland, explore Nashville, New Orleans and Memphis, and tour the famous Jack Daniel’s Distillery.

National Parks Discovery Some of America’s geological wonders and most iconic sights await you on this enthralling tour, which features the chance to see Mount Rushmore, the remarkable Grand Canyon and the roaring geysers of Yellowstone National Park, culminating with a stay in colourful Las Vegas.

Inclusions: • Optional included travel insurance • VIP door-to-door travel service with unlimited mileage • Visas included • Dedicated Tour Manager • A choice of exclusive solo departures • All tour departures are 100% guaranteed • First time travellers protected by our Money Back Guarantee




Gate-togate wifi

Cruise lines predict financial fallout from Cuba travel ban

By Emily Eastman

By Emily Eastman

Norwegian Air has launched gate-togate wifi, giving passengers access to the airline’s wifi network as soon as they step aboard the aircraft. Passengers will now be able to stay connected for the entire duration of their flight. Previously, the aircraft had to climb to an altitude of 10,000ft before the wifi network was activated. Kurt Simonsen, chief customer and digital officer, said: “We know how important it is for our passengers to have internet access.”

Cruise lines are estimating financial losses following the Trump administration’s tightening of travel restrictions to Cuba in which it banned cruises to Cuba. The US government made the move to pressure Cuba to reform and stop supporting Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro. Norwegian Cruise Line Holidays said 2019 adjusted earnings per share (EPS) could be reduced to 45 cents –a reduction of 35 cents. The company is modifying its itineraries for Norwegian Cruise Line, Oceania Cruises and Regent Seven Seas Cruises. It had previously estimated 2019 EPS at $5.40 to $5.50.

Carnival has also adjusted its profit forecast, compounded in the quarter to May by the group’s European brands facing “heightened geopolitical and macroeconomic headwinds” affecting Aida in Germany and Costa Cruises in Italy. Carnival CEO Arnold Donald said: “The reality is that Cuba is gone for the foreseeable future. Therefore, that higher-yielding itinerary is off the table. Companies like us and others have had to adapt to see what they can generate.” However, in the UK, where the line operates P&O Cruises and Cunard, performance has been better than expected, despite uncertainty surrounding Brexit. The Caribbean has also been a very strong market this year, according to Donald.


Oceania unveils all-new Sirena Oceania Cruises has unveiled Sirena, fresh from a complete rebuild and renovation – part of the line’s $100 million OceaniaNEXT brand enhancement programme. President and CEO Bob Binder said: “The reinspired Sirena is perhaps the best expression of our team’s Kaizen culture, which focuses on implementing constant incremental change that continually elevates the guest experience. That’s the heart and soul of our OceaniaNEXT initiative.” Sirena’s refinements include elements of a multi-million-dollar art collection, with original pieces displayed in public spaces around the ship. There is also brand new dining experiences and menus, including The Finest Cuisine at Sea.

16 July 2019

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


18 untry Guide 20 Country By Co

– Volume 4:



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


See for more

News Events

Out and about Pictures from the latest travel industry events 1. Fifty travel trade partners enjoy a fun-filled trip to Ibiza with the Carnival Cruise Line UK team. The trip, which takes place every year, rewards those travel agents who do the most to engage with Carnival Cruise Line UK’s Loyalty Rocks Club. The group stayed at the legendary Ibiza Rocks Hotel. 2. The Jamaica Tourist Board’s sales mission in Scotland saw them visit agents in Edinburgh and Glasgow and host ten Barrhead Travel staff at the Reggae Girlz versus Scotland football match, which took place at the Scottish national Stadium. 3. Stephanie Watson from Cruise 118; Dylan David,; Karen Farndell, Princess; Tracy Clenshaw, Cruise 1st; and Beth Hulett, Iglu attend a Princess Cruises event in the Caribbean to highlight Ocean Medallion, the line’s new on-board technology. 4. Agents Sam Gemmel (Qantas), Daliah von Harten (Destination NSW), Harriet Stent (Flight Centre), Barbara Obersby (Audley Travel), Paul Webster (Austravel), Matt Barnett (Trailfinders), Lyn Anderson (Beaver Travel), Sam Bell (Travel2), Catherine Anderson (Travel2), Sheila Menzies (Holidaysplease), Caroline Findlay De Concha (Nomadic Thoughts) and Mark McCardie (Rock my World Travel) join a Vivid Sydney trip with Destination New South Wales. 5. Twenty-four travel agents join Riviera Travel’s largest-ever fam trip, visiting Portugal to experience the operator’s Douro Valley to Lisbon for Solo Travellers sevennight tour. Also on the itinerary was a ship visit on the five-star Douro Elegance.




5 4 18 July 2019

Send your travel industry pictures to and we’ll print the best

Are you prepared for the needs and desires of Generation Z? How about Generation Alpha?

Travel is one of the world’s biggest industries – and it’s only going to get bigger. Globetrender offers bespoke trend forecasting and research services to inspire, inform and guide you in your decision-making. If you would like an individual consultation on how to ready yourself for the next decade, email editor and founder Jenny Southan For news and features check out our online magazine and sign up for our newsletter.


ABTA Magazine

Tom McAlpin President, Virgin Voyages Sam Ballard sits down with Tom McAlpin and Stacy Shaw to talk about the new line


f there’s one brand that has got people talking, it’s Virgin Voyages. From flying agents out to New York to having Sir Richard Branson appear at the Clia Conference, they are putting a lot of effort into getting the trade on side. We met Tom McAlpin, CEO & president, and Stacy Shaw, vice president of sales & business development, before the company’s Scarlet Night – a star-studded event which saw Mark Ronson DJ to agents and industry – to find out more. You’ve mentioned that Virgin Voyages passengers will have a particular ‘mindset’. Can you expand on this? Tom McAlpin: “It’s people who have an attitude of wanting to see something different. They want to do something fun. The term that we use – rebellious luxe – helps to define what we are looking for. It’s a different way of cruising. It’s not marble as far as the eye can see and it’s not stuffy white-glove service. It’s getting what you want when you want it. You can be free and casual and have a good time – but still have a quality experience. It’s never nickel and diming. We include a lot – we think wifi is a basic human right. Fitness classes are included, basic drinks, although not alcohol, gratuities are included.” Stacy Shaw: “These are people who want authentic experiences and like to go off the beaten path a little bit. You won’t find these people on the really touristy street going into the trinket shop, but you might find them three streets back trying to find that cool local restaurant.” Does this mean you are looking for past cruise passengers? TM: “We’re looking for both. We are

20 July 2019

trying to create an experience that is different to any cruise line. We would not be doing this if it wasn’t a great industry. But there are a lot of people who are looking for something different. We will get first-time cruise passengers, too. We’ve got shorter itineraries, more flexibility, more things to do. We have taken inspiration from cities like London, LA and Miami to create this experience.” SS: “We tend not to put people in boxes. We spoke onstage about parents, right? When they go on their family vacation they might want to go to Disney or sail on Royal Caribbean, but when they want some time on their own, they’re really excited about Virgin Voyages.” TM: “Parents need a vacation too!” Can you give us any more details about the agent event next year? SS: “It’s early days yet, but we’re going

to have as many agents on board as we can; the best way for people to get on board is to engage with us and of course to sell.” You have mentioned that leaving your luggage outside your cabin the night before you depart was one of the ‘norms’ you would question. Can you shed any more light on that? TM: “We challenge everything. I’m not sure we can change all of those things, but sometimes it’s about pushing a little bit. We want to make everything fun, simple and quick and take all the hassles out of it.” SS: “We’re both from the industry, but we are in the minority at Virgin Voyages. About 35 per cent of our company have experience with the cruise industry – the rest come from outside. We are now dissecting every bit of the industry and putting it back together.”

DON’T MISS New Markets in Cruise October 2, London

Five of the best: central London restaurants ROVI, FITZROVIA Through his Guardian recipes and six cafés and restaurants in London, IsraeliBritish food writer and chef Yotam Ottolenghi has had a profound effect on the eating habits of the capital. Although firmly rooted in Middle Eastern cooking, Ottolenghi’s new, seventh venture, Rovi, is unlike anything he’s done before. The 85-seat restaurant serves a veg-heavy menu with a focus on fermentation and cooking over fire, and may be his most exciting offering to date. (Picture credit: David Loftus)

ST. JOHN, SMITHFIELD This ‘nose-to-tail’ eatery opened in 1994. Its eccentric head chef Fergus Henderson almost single-handedly pioneered the resurgence in offal dishes. Expect the likes of crispy pig cheek and dandelion, or grilled lamb hearts with chard and aioli, served in a relaxed atmosphere. Anthony Bourdain called it “the restaurant of my dreams”.

BAO, SOHO A street-food-torestaurant success story, BAO in Soho ticks all the boxes: it’s centrally located, innovative, delicious and affordable. The menu is built around the Taiwanese delicacy bao (fluffy, white steamed buns), which cost just £3.75. Choose from the likes of braised pork with peanut powder, or soy-milk-marinated chicken, sichuan mayo and kimchi, and a host of equally delicious sides.

HONEY & CO, FITZROVIA This café and restaurant, serving hearty Middle Eastern cuisine, has been a city favourite since it opened in 2012. Founders and married couple Itamar Srulovich and Sarit Packer have since launched cookbooks, a shop and second restaurant, but this tiny original site remains a treat for unfussy, homely dining. (Picture credit: Patricia Niven)

SOCIAL EATING HOUSE, SOHO This may be the best yet from Michelinstarred chef Jason Atherton. Informal and relaxed, it serves ‘bistro-style’ dishes in a low-lit setting. The food is traditionally British, and the ingredients are locally sourced. The innovative, sophisticated dishes are delivered by chef patron Paul Hood. Upstairs is The Blind Pig cocktail bar (pictured).

July 2019 21


Costa Calida The ideal destination all year round

Do you fancy visiting a destination that will win you over from the very first moment? You will find it on the Costa Cálida, in the region of Murcia, Spain. We do warn you that its mild temperatures and charming hidden spots are addictive. Sun, beach, nature, an immense cultural heritage and a culinary tradition made up of a thousand and one irresistible flavours will ensure that your stay in the region of Murcia is one of the best investments of your time, which is the most valuable thing you possess. Squeeze every second out of the region of Murcia and go home with an endless collection of happy memories. They won’t take up any space in your suitcase, but they will take up a place in your heart.


If you love the sea, you’re in luck. On the Costa Cálida you can choose between two:

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the Mar Menor and the Mediterranean, two seas where you can have unforgettable experiences. Relax, go for long walks in the sand or feel like a fish in water while you take part in the water activities that suit you best. The options are endless. Discover the water sports paradise: the Mar Menor, a salt-water lagoon with calm, shallow, warm water where you can take part in sports such as sailing, kitesurfing or canoeing in ideal conditions. Enjoy the wealth of the Mediterranean seabed. The Costa Cálida has the largest concentration of historical shipwrecks in the Mediterranean, and the marine reserves of the Hormigas Islands – Cabo de Palos and Cabo Tiñoso – as well as the towns of Aguilas and Mazarron, will surpass your expectations. On top of all of that, you will want to stop time in the spas and thalassotherapy

centres of the region, which boast thermal water pools, sports facilities and exclusive medical services. Have you heard about the health benefits of seawater? It turns out that over the centuries, deposits of mud have built up in the Mar Menor that are very good for therapeutic treatments. Why don’t you try them?


To enjoy the region of Murcia, you first have to get to know its culture. Start in the city of Murcia, the capital of the region. You can begin by discovering the indisputable jewel of the city – the cathedral. Another unmissable stop is Cartagena, with its Roman theatre, the best exemplar of the city’s intriguing past.

You mustn’t miss the city of Lorca. Visit its castle – the Fortaleza del Sol – and the Guevara Palace, the most significant examples of civil Baroque architecture in the city. And among the cities that have something special, there is Caravaca de la Cruz, the Fifth Holy City of Catholicism in the world, which has been granted the privilege to celebrate the Jubilee Year in Perpetuity, which next falls in 2024.


Choose land, sea or air, get in touch with nature, release your adventurous side and fall in love with enchanting landscapes. You can do this along the different trails that you will find in the region of Murcia. Visit unique caves and go on caving trails, or try paragliding or mountain biking. Explore the Sierra Espuña Regional Park, the first protected natural space in the region of Murcia, endorsed by the European Charter for Sustainable Tourism. There you can take part in a wide variety of hiking and orienteering activities while discovering the largest expanse of forest in the region. Did you know that in the region of Murcia you can do sport while enjoying Arabic culture? You can do this in the Ricote Valley, known as the last Moorish bastion in the Spanish Levant.


Without a doubt, a visit to the region of Murcia is also a pleasure for the senses, where you can taste each one of its thousand and one flavours. The region has a rich and varied culinary tradition that combines traditional cuisine with the most modern trends. Sample dishes such as caldero (a typical rice and fish stew), Murcian salad, zarangollo (an egg and

courgette dish) and paparajotes (deep fried lemon leaves) – you are sure to love the countless tastes typical of the region. You can accompany these delights with some of the wines of the Denomination of Origin of the Region of Murcia, known as the Reino de la Monastrell: Bullas, Jumilla and Yecla. Each of these has a Wine Route certified by the Spanish Association of Wine Cities (ACEVIN).

It is easy to fly to Murcia City and enjoy the newly opened airport (Corvera-RMU). Flights are available from London Gatwick, Luton and Stansted, Manchester, East Midlands, Bristol and Bournemouth. Youtravel offers more than 46 properties in the region ranging from towns to coastal areas, including Mar Menor and La Manga. The region is well known for its sports interests and several properties including golf courses. Visit Julythe2019 for latest23 offers


ABTA news July 2019

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

Japan ramps up tourism Travel companies can join a free fam trip before or after the ABTA Travel Convention By Emily Eastman This year will see a deepening of cultural relations between Japan and the UK as the Japan-UK Season of Culture unfolds into 2020, which coincides with Japan hosting two sporting events: the Rugby World Cup in 2019 and the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games in 2020. The Far East nation is also hosting the annual ABTA Travel Convention this year with its host partners, the Japan National Tourism Organisation (JNTO), the Japan Association of Travel Agents (JATA), All Nippon Airways (ANA) and Prince Hotels & Resorts. The convention takes place October 7-9 in Tokyo. More than 333,000 UK citizens visited Japan last year – the highest inbound number from Europe – and annual growth in footfall stands at nearly 8 per cent.

24 July 2019

In an age when the Far East doesn’t seem so far, Japan’s hospitality, cuisine, aesthetic, eccentricity and inimitable fusion of future and tradition continue to captivate travellers who are finding the country to be more accessible than ever before. According to the Post Office Holiday Money Report, Tokyo is one of the most attractive long-haul destinations for the UK market in terms of price. The city offers a wide range of accommodation options and choice of dining venues. The language barrier is also being broken: English is widely implemented on signage, at stations, in announcements and in advanced translation apps. Japan prides itself on hospitality, and locals are happy to pause to assist visitors. Japan is home to 126 million people, many of whom live in some of the most densely populated and dynamic cities in the

world. Discover the gleaming skyscrapers of Nagoya, the retro sci-fi playground of Osaka and the food and beer capital of Sapporo. Nature enthusiasts will be pleased to learn that more than 70 per cent of Japan is mountainous, and visitors can criss-cross the country aboard the high-speed bullet trains, visiting the mega-cities nestled amid vast swathes of impressive natural landscapes that stretch more than 3,000km from north to south. The country is a year-round destination. In October, Japan comes ablaze with reds, golds and oranges as the leaves begin to turn in colour at the advent of autumn. As February draws to a close, the famous cherry blossoms start to sweep up the country from south to north, ushering in spring. Increasing amounts of tourists are choosing to visit in winter, with its legendary ski opportunities and vibrant local festivals. Getting off the beaten track is a rewarding experience in a country so diverse, and doing so helps to ensure that itineraries available to UK travellers remain uncrowded, as well

as responsible and sustainable in terms of trip impact. The Nagano region is an easy winter escape from Tokyo by bullet train, famous for its snow monkeys who bathe in the warm thermal waters of the region’s hot springs. It’s a long-time haven for locals seeking a quiet weekend break from the city, who stay in mountain resorts to relax and spot Japan’s black bears and flying squirrels in their natural habitat – part of a city-wide conservation project. The towering cedar forests of Togakushi Shrine are worth a visit, as are the mountains and waterfalls of ancient trading towns such as Naraijuku, which offer a glimpse into Japan’s historic rural traditions. Intrepid travellers will be satisfied in Japan’s northern hinterland of Hokkaido – a place where nature meets adventure. Home to the indigenous Ainu people of Japan, this region is the place for those looking to break new ground, whether that’s literally, aboard an ice-breaker ship, or figuratively, discovering the wilderness among the peaks, lakes and vast national

parks of Japan’s largest prefecture. Visitors can make good use of ANA’s domestic flight network – the most extensive in Japan. Fly from Tokyo to Sapporo in an hour and a half to sample the beer, ramen and fresh seafood and walk the buzzy side streets, or reach Hakodate in an hour and 20 minutes to enjoy the coastline vistas. The five-star airline operates eight daily flights from Europe, including a direct route from London Heathrow to Haneda Airport, the most central airport in Tokyo. For accommodation, Prince Hotels & Resorts has a large network of accommodation, including the four-star Grand Prince Hotel New Takanawa, where the ABTA Travel Convention is taking place. The Japan National Tourism Organization (JNTO) is running free fam trips for travel companies before and after the ABTA Travel Convention to destinations including Hokkaido, Nagano, Hakone and Kyoto. Visit jnto-fam-trips-main to find out more and to apply.

8.6 million holidaymakers don’t have travel insurance Nearly two-fifths (38 per cent) of British holidaymakers who are going abroad this summer do not have travel insurance for their trip yet, according to ABTA – The Travel Association. The new research shows that 8.6 million British holidaymakers could be putting themselves at risk of paying substantial medical or repatriation costs if they fall ill or hurt themselves abroad, and may even risk a delay in treatment. Through a campaign with the Foreign Office, ABTA is encouraging holidaymakers to take out travel insurance as soon as they book their holiday, making sure that the insurance covers any medical conditions or activities they plan to do. ABTA is also advising travellers to keep a copy of the

policy number and insurer’s contact details with them at all times while they are away. Just over one in five (21 per cent) holidaymakers said they travelled without insurance in the last year. Of these people, over a third (37 per cent) said they didn’t think they needed travel insurance and more than a quarter (28 per cent) said it was a risk they were willing to take. However, the cost of medical treatment or repatriation can run into thousands of pounds, leaving people without insurance extremely vulnerable abroad. Of those who have had to pay an additional cost on holiday due to being uninsured or not having the right cover, more than a third (34 per cent) have had to spend between £500 and £4,000.

ABTA’s research also finds that only a third of people who have bought travel insurance in the past 12 months kept their insurance policy details on them at all times when away; while around one in ten have left the information with family or friends back home or given it to a travel companion (13 per cent and 9 per cent respectively). ABTA is also reminding people to make sure they take out a travel insurance policy as soon as they book their holiday to help protect them should they need to cancel due to an unexpected event or illness. ABTA’s chief executive Mark Tanzer said: “Our message is clear – don’t take the risk, take out travel insurance and make sure it covers you for your circumstances and holiday plans.”

July 2019 25

ABTA Advice

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

Are refunds owed on past cancellations? My company has recently received a number of enquiries from customers asking for refunds of deposits on cancelled bookings, some of which go back years. They all state they have read in the media that they are legally entitled to this money. What, if anything, has changed and how can I respond to them? Anon

ABTA has received a number of enquiries from other members stating the same thing, so you are not alone with this problem. To give you some background, you may be aware of some work ABTA did with the Office of Fair Trading a few years ago around cancellation fees. The OFT concluded that cancellation fees, charged at a sliding scale, were justifiable as long as they accurately reflected the losses to the tour operator. They also agreed that these fees could reflect the losses over the company’s entire business rather than on each individual booking. Their view was that a sliding scale in the booking conditions provides customers with certainty and clarity around potential charges; it also means that once a booking is cancelled, a cancellation invoice can be issued enabling the customer to quickly start the process of making an insurance claim, as cancellations often result from medical problems or redundancy. So what has changed? Well, in one sense, nothing. The law remains that cancellation charges are permitted if they do not unfairly penalise the customer, and are just designed to cover the company’s losses. However, your customer calls have almost certainly resulted from a recent campaign, called ‘Small Print, Big Difference’, launched by the successor to the OFT, the Competition and Markets Authority. The campaign aims to raise awareness among travel companies that charging cancellation fees, which are too high, particularly in relation to large deposits, might not be justifiable in law. This got a lot of coverage in the media, hence your customer enquiries. The media also led on the fact that if a cancelled holiday was then resold, which they thought was likely if a booking was cancelled well in advance, how then could a travel company justify retaining a deposit? So where does this leave you? Your company is still entitled to charge a deposit, retain deposits where appropriate, and pass on cancellation fees. Your deposit amount, and your fees, must be correctly calculated to represent a genuine pre-estimate of the loss you would make due to cancellations. Doing this on a sliding scale, from loss of deposit to 100 per cent, is also acceptable and fees can reflect average losses across your business. However, it is very important that you have worked out these fees carefully, rather than just charging an arbitrary, excessive amount. If you need some further guidance, ABTA’s model Terms and Conditions are a good place to start. We believe they stand up well and we have recently amended them slightly after consulting with the CMA.

Paula Macfarlane Senior solicitor, ABTA

Got a question? Email: 26 July 2019

ABTA comment

The high value of the ABTA badge I

n the travel industry, creating a trusted relationship with customers is particularly important – not only are significant sums of money often changing hands, but customers quite understandably are also highly invested in their purchase: whether that is enjoying the holiday of their dreams or getting to an important business meeting safely. In a world where there are so many competing demands for people’s attention, building that relationship of trust is increasingly hard to achieve and maintain. ABTA plays an important role in supporting our members to develop trust with customers, and complement their own marketing – whether that is among new customers who want to ensure they’re booking with a reputable company that has passed financial fitness tests, or long-standing ones who want the reassurance of knowing that their travel provider is upholding standards, providing financial protection and following ABTA’s code of conduct. ABTA recently conducted research among UK consumers with independent consultancy Arkenford to better understand perceptions of ABTA, particularly alongside other well known travel organisations. The results are revealing: they show that not just awareness but familiarity with ABTA is markedly higher than any other travel scheme: 60 per cent of people say they know at least a little bit about ABTA, compared with just 35 per cent who say the same about ATOL. We also asked respondents to rank organisations on a confidence scale of one to four, where one is a ranking of most confidence and four

least confidence. ABTA was ranked number one by 42 per cent of respondents. No other travel scheme or company came close to this ranking for confidence – only 9 per cent of people ranked Trustpilot in category one, 11 per cent ranked ATOL number one, while Expedia was ranked in category one by 14 per cent of people. We also asked people to tell us how they felt when they saw the ABTA badge: 88 per cent had a positive feeling, with the most common feelings being of reassurance and protection. What does this tell us? It tells us that the effect of every badge on consumers is not the same. People are a lot savvier than we might think about the various ‘badges’ being used – perhaps they are not well versed in the detail, but they understand that there is a difference and being a well known badge does not equate to being one that is well trusted. It also tells us that in the quest for building trust with customers, the ABTA badge is an incredibly valuable asset for members. It helps deliver something that can be difficult for businesses to do on their own, and if used alongside an organisation’s own brand it delivers a compelling proposition for customers.

Victoria Bacon

Director of brand and business development, ABTA

July 2019 27

ABTA Campaigns

ABTA campaigns Holiday fraudsters steal £7 million A new report reveals the amount of money lost to holiday booking fraud, with airline tickets among the main targets

By Emily Eastman Fraudsters stole more than £7 million from holidaymakers and other travellers in 2018, according to a new report. ABTA – The Travel Association, Action Fraud and Get Safe Online have joined forces to warn the public about the dangers posed by holiday booking fraud and to give advice on how to spot and avoid travel-related fraud. The report, compiled by Action Fraud and the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau, details the most commonly targeted areas of travel and the methods commonly used by criminals to defraud the travelling public. More than 5,000 people reported to Action Fraud, collectively losing just over £7 million to holiday and travel-related fraud, an increase on last year, when 4,382 victims reported losing £6.7 million. The average amount lost was £1,380 per person but, as in previous years, in addition to the financial cost, victims have also reported the significant emotional impact caused by this crime. The three campaign partners also believe that the actual total figures relating to travel fraud may be even higher, with many victims feeling too embarrassed to report. More than half, 53 per cent, of the crimes reported were related to the sale of airline tickets. The next most common fraud, at 25 per cent, related to the sale of accommodation, with a peak in reported

28 July 2019

losses in October. This indicates that many victims report their loss after the end of the summer holidays, the busiest time of the year for travel and a popular target for fraudsters. Religious trips are also at risk, as the amounts of money involved are substantial; the average loss totals almost £10,000 per reported case. ABTA chief executive Mark Tanzer said: “Fraudsters are using increasingly sophisticated methods to target destinations and times of year when demand is high and availability limited, as they know people will be looking for good deals. As victims often find out just before they travel or even in resort that they have been defrauded, it can then be very difficult and expensive to obtain a legitimate replacement booking, compounding the financial costs and emotional distress suffered by victims.” Action Fraud, ABTA and Get Safe Online have published advice on how to avoid becoming a victim of holiday booking fraud – and on how victims should go about reporting it. It includes tips on staying safe online, how to carry out effective research, what to look for on websites and how to check your paperwork. For advice on how to stay safe when booking or researching travel online, go to shopping-banking/holiday-and-travelbooking. For a full list of tips on how to avoid becoming a victim of travel fraud, visit

Safety advice ABTA is providing tips and advice for young people to help them have a fun and safe holiday this summer. The campaign is targeting those aged between 16 and 23 and provides practical safety tips, including the importance of looking out for one another and taking care when on balconies. As part of the campaign, ABTA has published new advice on its website and is working with influencers. ABTA is also supporting the FCO on a national media story about holiday safety for young people. Nikki White, ABTA’s director of destinations and sustainability, said: “For many young holidaymakers this will be the first summer they have travelled abroad with friends and while it’s important to have fun, there are a number of simple steps they can take to help them stay safe on holiday.” Visit

Evolving holidays By ABTA Magazine staff New analysis from ABTA examines people’s travel habits over the past four decades and finds that while UK travellers remain firmly committed to package holidays, the type of trip, destination and how they holiday has changed significantly. Package holidays continue to dominate the overseas UK holiday market, despite the emergence of other types of travel, with half of the holidays people take each year being package breaks – a figure that has held steady since 2014. However, the first package holidays of the past are a far cry from some of the package breaks people are taking today. Spain remains the top spot for UK holidaymakers, while visits to Mexico are up 3,500 per cent since 1994. ABTA also found that searches for ‘authentic’ trips are preferred to the ‘home-from-home’ holiday.

Events September 19, London A Complete Guide to VAT and TOMS in Travel Leave with a comprehensive understanding of TOMS VAT and how it is calculated. The seminar will also look to the future with a focus on how Brexit may affect TOMS.

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 to learn more about our upcoming events and register your place

September 25, London

September 26, London

October 1, London

The Over 50s Traveller ABTA’s over 50s conference will help you to understand, inspire and connect with older travellers. Get to know the differences between age brackets, learn about the fastgrowing product trends and extend your relevance across 50-plus age groups.

Consumer Law in the Marketing and Selling of Holidays With renewed focus on consumer rights within travel, get an update on the latest relevant legislation affecting travel, including new CMA guidelines and ATOL requirements.

Introduction to Crisis Management in Travel This practical seminar will help to ensure businesses are prepared for an exceptional or crisis situation – whether it’s a security incident, natural disaster or illness outbreak.

October 2, London

October 2, London

October 16, London

Exit Planning Seminar: Preparing to Sell or Exit your Travel Business This seminar advises on the different exit routes for travel business owners. Gain clarity on different exit routes and types of buyers, learn how to calculate value and get advice on the sale process.

New Markets in Cruise ABTA’s cruise conference explores ways to attract new cruisers and reach new markets in this fast-growing travel segment. Hear the latest on cruise-product trends and gain direct insights from cruise customers and social influencers.

SEO and Online Travel Marketing ABTA’s new seminar explores search engine marketing and online content strategies for travel businesses of all sizes. Get practical guidance and hear industry case studies on SEO strategies, paid search and content marketing.

July 2019 29

Business travel Digital New business payments class seats

The digital payment revolution Business Travel Report Mobile payments are becoming the new normal as travellers shun cash in favour of digital wallets while abroad – and at home


ow much cash do you have on you right now? For many people, reliance on a digital wallet is becoming the new normal. It’s more secure and more convenient, and as a result, many countries such as the UK are rapidly moving towards becoming entirely cashless (this could be as early as 2026, according to the 2019 Access to Cash Review). British Airways stopped accepting cash on short-haul flights in 2017 and, in many cities, including London, coins and notes are not accepted on public transport. A rising number of restaurants, bars and shops are refusing cash, too. Last year, 4,735 ATMs vanished from the streets. Brits aren’t the only ones shunning this analogue way of spending: in Sweden, six million people (just over half its ten million population) use virtual payment app Swish, and only 13 per cent said they had used cash on their most recent payments

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in a nationwide 2018 survey by Sveriges Riksbank. While the US is more beholden to its dollar bills – 53 per cent of Americans say they try to always carry cash in case they need it (Pew Research Center, 2018) – other countries such as South Korea and Canada are racing towards ditching physical currencies almost completely. Even though it was China that first introduced paper banknotes back in the seventh century, it is this country that is leading the way in the digital payment revolution, going beyond plastic debit and credit cards to rapidly adopting contactless mobile payments. According to Worldpay’s Global Payments Report 2018, “China presents a payment landscape shaped by consumers that came of age in a digital and mobile-first world. Mobile wallets dominate Chinese payments unlike anywhere else on the planet. Almost twothirds of eCommerce and more than a third of point-of-sale spend in China is made

by Jenny Southan, business travel editor

through leading e-wallets such as Alipay and WeChat Pay.” To put it into perspective, last year, there were 127 million Apple Pay users around the world, compared with 500 million Alipay users and 900 million WeChat Pay users. And yet when hotels such as the Savoy in London and Plaza Premium lounges at Heathrow introduced the technology, they sent out press releases announcing the news. The reality is, every company that engages with international travellers should be allowing for these kinds of payment methods. Not just for simple one-touch transactions in shops and restaurants, Alipay, for example, has become an allround ‘lifestyle enabler’. People can use it to hail taxis, book hotels, pay utility bills and make appointments with their doctors directly from within the app. A 2018 report from Nielsen and Alipay titled Trends for Mobile Payment in Chinese Outbound Tourism found that out of a survey of more than 2,800 outbound Chinese travellers, more than two-thirds (69 per cent) paid with their mobile phones while abroad, up four percentage points from the previous year, while 32 per cent of transactions were mobile payments, overtaking cash for the first time. For travel companies, ignoring these new ways of spending is unwise, especially when it comes to business travellers who travel more frequently than the average person. According to 2018 data from Barclaycard, two thirds (66 per cent) of travel buyers anticipate that use of digital wallets will increase over the next five years. People are also turning to digital-

The headlines Most expensive cities for business travel revealed

Mobility company ECA International has published a ranking of the world’s most expensive cities for business travel. At number one is New York, with an average daily cost of £618, followed by Geneva (£553), Zurich (£511), Washington DC (£481), Paris (£477), Reykjavik (£476), San Francisco (£448), Basel (£447), LA (£446) and Bern/London (£444) in joint tenth place.

Singapore Changi airport debuts long-awaited Jewel Terminal

After five years of work, Singapore Changi has unveiled its new US$1.3 billion Jewel Terminal. Unlike any other airport in the world, the glassdomed hub features a 40-metre-tall indoor waterfall, a forest with hiking trails and gardens. There’s also a YotelAir hotel with 130 sleep cabins and a 150-seat lounge with showers.

Mishandled luggage claims halved by new tracking system

Air transport communications and IT company SITA has revealed that new airline luggage tracking systems have reduced ‘mishandled’ bag claims (those that are lost, stolen, delayed or damaged) by between 38 per cent and 66 per cent.

United Club lounge opens at New York LaGuardia airport

United has opened a new Club business class lounge in New York’s LaGuardia airport as part of a US$8 billion revamp of Terminal B. At 975sqm, it’s more spacious than the airline’s previous lounge, with more than 200 seats. A new menu includes bagels from New York’s Ess-a-Bagel.

Hoxton Hotels announces new co-working concept ‘Working From’

Hoxton Hotels owner Ennismore has designed a new co-working concept called Working From, which is due to be installed in October in the Hoxton hotel in Chicago (opened in April) and the forthcoming Hoxton London Southwark. Open 24 hours a day, day passes will cost £30.

July 2019 31

Business travel Digital payments

Cashless payment infrastructure is becoming more widely available in response to rapid consumer uptake of digital payment solutions

only banks such as Monzo, Mettle, Tandem, Tide, Starling and Revolut, which don’t charge foreign transaction fees and have attractive app interfaces with graphs and charts to display expenses. Technology – and consumer adoption of it – is accelerating in previously unimaginable ways. Amazon Go stores, for example, don’t even require customers to queue and tap their smartphone at a paypoint; they can just walk straight out with their groceries. (After setting up an online account, payments will be taken automatically via a network of cameras and scanners that process what people are taking off the shelves.) At the moment, Amazon Go marts are found in Seattle,

San Francisco, New York and Chicago, but there is speculation that they will come to airports, too. Just when you think you have enough to consider with e-wallets, digital banks, check-out-free stores and the rise of China, the travel industry also needs to prepare for cryptocurrencies to go mainstream. There are currently more than 1,600 different cryptocurrencies in circulation, but more are being created all the time (some of the most popular ones include Bitcoin, Bitcoin Cash, Dogecoin, Ethereum and Litecoin). Just as savvy travel companies are integrating Alipay and WeChat Pay for Chinese travellers, they may also need to consider accepting cryptocurrency

payments for everything from flights to room service. Earlier this year, Corporate Traveller, a division of one of the largest travel companies in the world, Flight Centre Travel Group, began accepting cryptocurrencies from SMEs through a partnership with BitPay, which only charges 1 per cent on transactions, making it cheaper than credit cards. And at the end of last year, a new app called Tripio began enabling Ethereum holders to book hotel rooms at more than 450,000 properties around the world, including the Marina Bay Sands in Singapore and the Ritz-Carlton in Tokyo. But will business travellers still need a wad of notes for tipping staff?

Five apps for smarter business travel HAVEN


Backed by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowdon, Haven uses the sensors in Android phones to alert users to intruders in hotel rooms, offices or homes via motion, sound, vibration and light detectors that activate the video record function, sending a notification to your primary device.

Sometimes Uber just doesn’t cut it when you travel for work. Blacklane sends chauffeur-driven luxury cars to your location on demand and is available in more than 300 cities around the world. Rates are confirmed in advance.


Telegram is a cloud-based instant messaging platform that is heavily encrypted so is safe from hackers and also allows users to send messages that self destruct. There is no limit to the size of files you are sharing and you can communicate with groups of up to 200,000 people.

Integrated with Google Maps, what3words (pictured) has applied unique three-word addresses such as ‘’ to every 3sqm section of the planet so you can pinpoint exactly where you need to be without relying on complex GPS coordinates or confusing local address systems.



Some countries don’t let you access certain websites and censor certain online content, but by using Express VPN, which is highly secure, anonymous and fast, you can get around these restrictions when you travel.

32 July 2019

City focus: Warsaw Rose Dykins explores Warsaw’s gleaming new attractions and looks at the Polish capital’s plans to become an aviation ‘superhub’


arsaw shouldn’t be taken at face value. While you could happily saunter around the cobbled squares and charming ice-cream-hued Baroque terraces of its Old Town – a restoration funded by the city’s citizens after 85 per cent of the capital was obliterated in the Second World War – a knowledgeable guide is needed to avoid missing out on clues about the city’s complex past, to share some incredible stories of local resilience and to lift the lid on the intriguing cultural quirks that linger today. For corporate groups, a great option is to hire a fleet of Nysa 522 vans with Adventure Warsaw ( and whisk them around in the rumbling retro vehicles, stopping off for pierogi (dumplings) at government-subsidised ‘milk cafés’ and at lesser-known attractions such as the utterly unique Neon Museum ( and the Museum of Life Under Communism (, which recently relocated to an intimate first-floor apartment in the heart of the city.

At the same time, since Poland cohosted the 2012 UEFA European Football Championships, a mammoth investment in Warsaw’s public spaces has created a tangible visitor-friendly vibe (the government spent almost £3.5 billion on improvements throughout the country, not to mention the EU funding). The capital is dotted with benches that play sonatas by Chopin (a proud Varsovian) at the touch of a button. On the west bank of the Vistula river are the Vistula Boulevards, which were fully completed in March, offering inviting, water-facing seating steps, openair trampolines and a strip of restaurants. Across the river, past the untamed east bank of the Vistula, lies the gritty former manufacturing hub of Praga. As tends to happen with industrial districts, it has been given the hipster treatment, and Google built a campus here in 2015. Moments from the peeling neoclassical buildings and apartment blocks coated with thick layers of graffiti are the redbrick buildings of Praga Koneser Centre development (, home to


Launched in February, the four-star Vienna House Mokotow Warsaw is 3.5km from Chopin Airport and housed within a Brutalist-style building. Its 164 rooms are contemporary and comfortable, with well-equipped bathrooms. Lush plant life adorns The Greenhouse Restaurant, which serves international cuisine and light, healthy lunches. There’s also 180sqm of meeting space, a fitness centre and a smart lobby bar. Visit;

July 2019 33

Business travel City focus

8,500sqm of exhibition space, a Moxy hotel and the fantastic Polish Vodka Museum ( Launched last summer, housed in a former vodka factory, its high-tech, interactive exhibits and sleek design are really impressive. It’s possible to arrange vodka tastings or hire the posh loft-style bar for events (there’s space for 80 people). The UK is Warsaw’s third-biggest tourism market, accounting for 7.8 per cent of total foreign arrivals each year (beyond Germany and USA), while international business travellers represent 8 per cent of the city’s annual visitors. Aside from the city centre, investment is being ploughed into business infrastructure around the Polish capital, particularly in the districts of Mokotów – a 15-minute taxi ride from Chopin Airport – and Wola, to the west of the city. “Mokotów is now one of the fastestgrowing business centres in the city, and [is where you’ll find] Warsaw’s largest office hub,” says Iwona Bialobrzycka, director of

the Polish Tourism Organisation. “Business travellers benefit from the proximity to Chopin international airport, dining facilities and attractions provided by Galeria Mokotów shopping centre.” By far the capital’s most ambitious plan for the future is to build the biggest airport in Europe. Slated to be 40km southwest of Warsaw, 15 minutes from the capital by train, the facility will initially serve 40 million passengers per year with two runways, with a view to add two more runways and increase annual capacity to 100 million (without a third runway, Heathrow tops out at around 80 million). A consultation about the masterplan for this ‘superhub’ will take place this month. In the meantime, Warsaw’s two airports (Chopin and Modlin) are well-connected and modern (particularly Chopin, which was built for UEFA 2012). In terms of hotels, the Polish capital recently gained some major openings for business travellers, including the five-star Raffles Europejski and Hotel

Warszawa, and the four-star Puro Hotel. A Four Points by Sheraton will launch in Mokotów imminently. Next year, Crowne Plaza and Holiday Inn properties will open up in Warsaw and a Marriott hotel is on the way for 2021. “One reopening we are particularly excited about is Robert De Niro’s boutique-chain property Nobu, with an exquisite Japanese-fusion restaurant, scheduled for the start of next year,” says Bialobrzycka. And there are further grand plans for meeting and event space, including a new exhibition complex directly next to the PGE National Stadium (pgenarodowy. pl), also built for the 2012 tournament. The stadium has since hosted the UN Climate Change Conference in 2014 and the NATO Summit in 2016, and has a regular programme of concerts, festivals and shows. “We are also looking forward to the grand reopening of the famous Congress Hall of the Palace of Culture and Science following a thorough renovation,” says Bialobrzycka.

Polish Tourism Organisation The objective of the Polish Tourism Organisation is to promote Poland as a modern, accessible and affordable country offering tourists a high standard of services, expertly run tours and unique destinations. The Polish Tourism Organisation carries out work focused on the promotion and development of Polish tourism both at home and abroad.  

34 July 2019

World’s Best Leisure Airline two years in a row

Canada starts here

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Spotlight on Saga

Spotlight on

Saga Saga CEO Robin Shaw tells Sam Ballard how the line is altering perceptions, to great effect


hen it comes to making announcements in the cruise industry, it takes a lot to turn heads. The industry is fast moving, with new ships being launched every year that push the boundaries ever further – whether that’s biggestship records being broken, innovations rewriting the rulebook or suites getting more opulent. Saga – which is about to launch the first newbuild ship in its history – arguably made a bigger splash than any of them. The company, which has operated older tonnage since it started its cruise business in 1997, now has two ships on order: Spirit of Discovery, which launches this month, and Spirit of Adventure, which launches in 2020. Both vessels will have capacity for 999 guests and will cement Saga’s position as one of the UK’s most luxurious ex-UK operators. “Older tonnage is sometimes associated with lower per diems and maybe a less upmarket on-board experience,” says Robin Shaw, CEO of Saga Travel. “What we have managed to do with our two existing

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ships is to significantly change that trend. The per diems reflect the great value you get, but they’re quite high in the market because of the all-inclusive, high service and great itineraries.” That higher per diem is down to a number of factors. Book a Saga holiday and you will typically get a VIP car service from home as well as travel insurance – something that goes down particularly well with Saga’s over50 clientele. However, older tonnage coupled with an older passenger has meant that perceptions do still exist about Saga in the marketplace, particularly among the trade, who only began selling Saga in 2014. The new ships will help change those perceptions. However, the company has had to embark on a big re-education piece to get the ball rolling. “The trade may have had perceptions with the older tonnage, for whatever reason,” Shaw says. “Now, they’re engaging because the new ship looks wonderful – we joke that by 2020 we’ll have the youngest fleet in the world.” The new ships do indeed look wonderful. Interiors resemble a smart London hotel and every cabin will have its

own balcony. It’s also the only small ship being built for the British market, too, with venues on board including The Club by Jools, where Jools Holland and his band are scheduled to play on special occasions. The new ships represent a massive investment on behalf of Saga, during tough market conditions. Even though the company’s fleet will not increase – the two new ships will replace the two older ones – the move represents a 74 per cent increase in capacity in just over a year. This means that those trade relationships will become even more important. “We have to grow, but the good news is that we are growing,” Shaw says. “We have great uptake from the trade. We now see them as being the most important factor in growing Saga Cruises, particularly with the new ships. They have so far delivered.” The job of developing Saga’s allimportant agent bookings falls to Iain Powell, the company’s head of trade sales. For Powell, it is those perceptions about Saga that needed to be addressed in order for engagement to increase.

“Saga has brand recognition that most companies could only dream of – everyone has heard of it and it’s well respected – but it carries misconceptions,” he explains. “When I started with the company those myths were prevalent with travel agents. We have done a good job at dispelling them over the past year and a half. The new ships have helped, but in truth, the major change will happen when we get them on board. “It’s all well and good saying that ‘Saga isn’t what you think’, but you have to put a product in front of them that proves that.” The numbers back that up. In 2018 Saga’s cruise business through the trade grew by 105 per cent – testament to both the hardware and the efforts of Powell’s team. However, he isn’t one to sit back. “Our ambition for bookings for 2019 is to double it again,” he says. “We’re on track, too.” While cruise has been grabbing much of the headlines, it only represents a portion of Saga’s overall travel operation, which includes a diverse land holidays business, Titan and Destinology. In trading figures released last April, the company revealed that “tour operations booked revenue” was down 3.4 per cent – the 12 weeks to 23 March 2019 were down 7.6 per cent. Shaw puts the decrease primarily down to one factor: Brexit. “The ongoing Brexit discussions and the situation we find ourselves in are having

a significant impact,” he explains. “People booking holidays in EU countries in the first three months of the year were down 8-9 per cent. In April it was down 20 per cent. How much of that was down to Brexit? No one knows, but it is certainly a factor.” With Brexit showing no sign of being resolved, how does Shaw mitigate against that risk? Strategy for cruise is clear, he says, as the company transitions from one that operates older tonnage to one that builds its own ships. However, changes with its land-based business are inevitable. “We have performed particularly well in the areas where we can differentiate,” Shaw says. “Escorted touring and river cruise for instance. However, with flyand-flop beach holidays in Europe there is little room for us to differentiate. You often have very big players with their vertically integrated models – own airlines and so on – and there’s not much competitive advantage we can give. “With Saga Holidays we will focus on areas that have higher margins and rationalise the short-haul product. It will ultimately be lower volume.” This scaling back of short-haul product will mean that Saga will operate in hotels where it has more of a stake, and is therefore better able to develop its offering. As Shaw puts it: “It’s about stable revenues but increasing margins, which is where Titan Travel is already.

“With higher margins you can invest back into the product for the customer, trade relationships, above-the-line marketing, which then drives demand and awareness. We have proved we can do that. Our river business has grown, our escorted tour business has grown. What hasn’t grown is our packaged, commoditised short-haul market, which has gone down quite significantly.” One of the areas Shaw highlights as being valuable to Saga is its river cruise business. Now that the company has undertaken the mammoth task of building its own ocean ships, could that be a logical next step? “We are always looking at opportunities like that,” answers Shaw. “We have a good share of the UK river cruise market through Titan and Saga Holidays and it is fair to say that we are looking at quite a few options in that space to enhance our overall proposition and enhance differentiation of what we can offer. “I have rarely worked within an organisation where there is so much excitement about the new ship. We are not a company that pops these things out at three or four a year. We have never built a ship before. And designing one from scratch for our marketplace is an incredible journey. As we get towards delivery, Saga is a great place to be.”

DON’T MISS The Over 50s Traveller September 25, London

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UK holidays Hebridean Whisky Trail

UK holidays

Hebridean Whisky Trail A new trail encourages visitors to get a taste for Scotland’s northwest islands. Daniel Allen embarks on the tour to sample all that’s on offer IN THE SPIRIT The islands of northwest Scotland are famous for many things: their rich language, their proud history, their sense of self-reliance and their stunning landscapes and wild nature. With the opening of the Hebridean Whisky Trail last year, the so-called ‘water of life’ has moved even further up the list. It would be hard to think of a more dramatic corner of Britain to launch a new tourist route. The spectacular 115mile circuitous trail, which takes in four distilleries – two on Skye, one on Raasay and one on Lewis and Harris – is set amid the stunning Black Cuillin mountains and some of the most beautiful coastlines and seascapes of the Hebridean archipelago. The new trail has been designed with intrepid whisky wanderers in mind, although you don’t have to be a whisky aficionado to appreciate its charms. “The trail offers visitors the opportunity to experience two of

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Scotland’s greatest natural assets – stunning scenery and Scotch whisky,” says Graeme Littlejohn, director of strategy and communications at the Scotch Whisky Association. “Both those who are yet to discover Scotch and those who are well versed in Scotland’s national drink can enjoy visiting these island distilleries, each offering something quite different in terms of heritage, location and, of course, spirit.” BOUTIQUE BLISS As a completely new means of exploring the islands, the Hebridean Whisky Trail encourages pilgrims to journey a little further than they may have otherwise. The landscape is noticeably wilder and more elemental here than in other Scottish whisky-making areas, while the remote communities of the route offer travellers a warm welcome and fascinating insight into Gaelic culture.

There’s no definitive start and finish point to the trail. Many travellers will begin by crossing over the Skye Bridge at Kyle, but it is equally possible to kick off proceedings at the northernmost point of the trail on Harris, or at its southernmost point, at Torabhaig on the serene Sleat peninsula of southern Skye. When it began operating at the start of 2017, Torabhaig became only the second-ever distillery on Skye. Based in a 200-year-old farmstead with fantastic panoramas over dilapidated Knock Castle – the individual stones of which were transported by horse and cart – it’s a far more boutique operation than Talisker, the other Skye-based distillery. Unlike Talisker, where tours should be booked in advance, visitors can usually arrange Torabhaig tours on arrival. Torabhaig doesn’t have any of its own whisky for sampling yet, but participants on the 45-minute tours are offered

Mossburn Island Blend, a smooth, peated whisky that’s similar to the finish and flavour the distillers are aiming for. Skye’s second distillery is configured to produce a traditional, island-style malt whisky – medium weight and medium peated with a long fermentation in wooden washbacks and plenty of copper interaction providing a fruity spirit. There’s also a shop and an excellent cafe on-site. VIEWS TO A THRILL Leaving Torabhaig it’s a short drive to the crofting township of Sconser, from where there’s a regular ferry to Raasay (the crossing takes around half an hour). Frequently overlooked by tourists, Raasay is most famous for being the birthplace of Gaelic poet Sorley MacLean. It may not have the drama of wilder Hebridean islands, but the distillery – located close to the island’s hundred-year-old pier – offers stunning views back towards the Cuillin mountains of Skye. While the Isle of Raasay Distillery only opened in September 2017, it began producing whisky elsewhere beforehand. Visitors can sample the lightly peated While You Wait single malt until other expressions are ready. “The character of Hebridean whiskies is inventive and outward looking, creating a distinctive blend of hard and soft, fire and water, smoke and crystal clarity,”

explains Iain Hector Ross, Raasay’s visitor experience manager. In addition to tours of its aroma-filled, 1,300-cask warehouse, Raasay offers the special experience of a luxury stay in the beautifully restored Borodale House, situated at the heart of the distillery. TIME-HONOURED TIPPLE Back on Skye, it’s a 20-minute drive to Talisker. Founded in 1830, this is by far the oldest working distillery on the island, set on the shores of Loch Harport in the picturesque village of Carbost. Deep and elegant, Talisker is very much a product of its rugged, windswept home. The whisky here is spicy, with the distillery character often described as having a chilli catch. This spicy character is most prominent in the Talisker tenyear-old single malt, while those whiskies matured in Amoroso sherry casks are milder and sweeter. Talisker has three distillery tours, with the ‘Flight’ tour offering whisky and chocolate pairings. INNER TO OUTER The last (or first) stop on the Hebridean Whisky Trail is the Isle of Harris Distillery, which opened in 2015. To journey here from Skye means transitioning from the Inner to Outer Hebrides – the ferry port in Uig on the Trotternish peninsula in northeast Skye is a 45-minute drive from Talisker.

“The Isle of Harris is also known as the Social Distillery,” explains Mike Donald, the chief storyteller at the distillery. “It represents both a place and an idea for bringing people together, to share the special spirit of Harris and create a sense of belonging, wherever they are from.” The Isle of Harris Distillery has yet to release a drop of whisky. The first single malt, called ‘The Hearach’ (Gaelic for a person from Harris), will only be bottled when it has reached its best, sometime after 2020. “The final whisky will be lightly peated, complex and wellbalanced, capturing some of the real character of the island,” says Donald. “With all the processes taking place in Harris – from distillation to maturation – we are confident our whisky will be uniquely ‘Harris’.” With a peat fire burning in the hearth each day, those who follow the Hebridean Whisky Trail to the Isle of Harris Distillery are always assured of a warm Outer Hebridean welcome. The communal canteen serves a tasty menu of fresh local fare, while regular distillery tours are led by knowledgeable local guides. The Hearach might still be maturing, but the distillery’s excellent gin is an excellent makeweight.


Opposite page: The view of Glamaig from Raasay Distillery; left: gin bottles at the Harris Distillery; below: the picturesque setting of Torabhaig Distillery

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Image: © Torsten Dickmann

The Seychelles Islands... another world Image: © Chris Close

Seychelles Tourist Office - UK & Ireland Ground Floor, 130-132 Buckingham Palace Road, London SW1W 9SA Tel: +44 (0) 207 730 0700

Image: © Chris Close


Mollie’s Motel redefines Britain’s roadside services


UK opens first vegan hotel By Emily Eastman

By Emily Eastman Soho House Group has imported a classic American concept with the opening of Mollie’s Motel and Diner in Oxfordshire. The opening marks a bid to revive roadside overnights with sleek modern style and a fun hook. Easily spotted from the road by its big red neon sign, Mollie’s is situated near the village of Buckland and next to a BP garage. A drive-thru serves a selection of diner favourites, including breakfast baps and Mollie’s Dirty Burger, or guests can eat in amid decor inspired by classic American diners – teal-coloured leather booths, tiled floors and a modern chrome bar. Burgers, mac & cheese and hand-spun milkshakes are on the menu.

Yet guests expecting US motel interiors are in for a pleasant surprise. Soho House Group’s Nick Jones wanted to reinvent the UK roadside stay and has shunned retro interiors, opting instead for a modern aesthetic complemented by pale colouring and blond-wood panelling in the motel’s 79 bedrooms. Each benefits from good soundproofing, Egyptian-cotton sheets and Cowshed spa products to use in the rainforest showers. Guests can enjoy a drink in the reception area before turning in, and there’s free coffee available in the morning. Breakfast isn’t included, but prices are very reasonable. Rooms are £75 a night. There’s also a general store on-site, stocking all those things you might forget to pack.

The UK’s first vegan hotel, Saorsa 1875, has opened in the Scottish highlands. Dedicated to ethical luxury, the boutique hotel is designed not only for vegetarians and vegans, but also for the ‘plant-curious’. In the lounge and restaurant, the menu is completely plant-based and showcases local, seasonal and foraged produce. All food is cooked daily on the premises using organic ingredients from local suppliers. Everything may be centred about veganism, but the effect is seamless. The in-room toiletries are made by local, ethical brands and heating is provided by the 100 per cent renewable Ecotricity. In the hotel bar, Faodail, there’s a rotating selection of beers crafted by Scotland’s best breweries, as well as rare, small-production wines. The hotel’s mixologists create innovative cocktails and there’s a regular calendar of events featuring musicians, entertainers and public speakers. Veganism is becoming more common in the UK, quadrupling between 2014 and 2018 to 600,000 people. Meanwhile, Visit Scotland has named ‘green getaways’ as a key trend for 2019.

Vintry & Mercer hotel opens in the City By Emily Eastman Vintry & Mercer is the latest boutique hotel to open in the capital, nestled along the narrow Garlick Hill in the City of London. The building has an interesting history that has been woven into the interiors. Once the area where many of the City’s Guilds were founded, including the Vintry Ward, established in 1363 and trading wines, and The Mercer’s Company, trading fine fabrics from 1304.

Inside, luxurious fabrics complement lighter colour palettes, while design-led lighting and smart features ensure the bedrooms are suited to modern-day guests. The hotel houses two restaurants, Vintry Kitchen, serving Asian-inspired tapas, and Mercer Terrace, which offers great views of St Paul’s Cathedral. For after-hours drinks, basement bar DND has speakeasy vibes. Double bedrooms are from £175 in low season and from £285 in peak.

July 2019 41

THE FAMOUS FIVE Š 2019, Hodder & Stoughton Limited. All rights reserved. Advertising based on an increase of over 10% in train seats on long distance, intercity services in January 2019 compared to the same period in 2018. Correct as of 22 May 2019. Selected routes only. Visit for full terms and conditions.

More seats. More trains. More adventures.


Present Laughter Until August 10, 2019 Sherlock star Andrew Scott leads in Noel Coward’s provocative comedy at the Old Vic. The story follows Garry Essendine, a successful, self-obsessed actor about to embark on an overseas tour – providing his life doesn’t spiral out of control first. Garry faces farcical events, from dealing with his estranged wife to coping with a looming mid-life crisis. Luke Thallon, Sophie Thompson, Suzie Toase and Indira Varma star alongside Scott in what director Matthew Warchus says is “a laugh-out-loud sex comedy with surprising depths”.


The Taming of the Shrew Until January 18, 2020 This Royal Shakespeare Company production reimagines the original setting as a matriarchal society in this energetic comedy that subverts expectations of gender. Offering a new perspective, the play tells a story in which Baptista Minola is seeking to sell off her son to the highest bidder. Director Justin Audibert made an early decision to swap the genders, and it’s done to great effect. The play runs at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre in Stratfordupon-Avon until August 31, before stints at various venues across England.


The Bodyguard Until February 1, 2020 Alexandra Burke brings her incredible vocals to the lead in this stage revival of the 1992 blockbuster film. Burke plays Rachel Marron, a pop star on the Academy Awards campaign trail who, in the wake of stalkers and death threats amid the glitz and glamour, enlists the services of retired Secret Service agent Frank Farmer (played by Ben Richards). The Bodyguard plays at Wolverhampton Grand Theatre until July 6, before runs in Edinburgh, Newcastle, Dublin, Plymouth, Aberdeen, Bradford, Manchester, Dartford and Birmingham.


Malory Towers July 9-August 18 Emma Rice’s new company, Wise Children, brings its second show to Bristol this month, with tours to Cambridge, York, Exeter, Manchester and Oxford to follow. Co-produced with York Royal Theatre, in association with the Bristol Old Vic, Malory Towers is a stage adaptation of Enid Blyton’s hit series of novels, set in a girls’ boarding school and telling the story of Darrell Rivers – a student keen to learn, but who has a quick temper. Rice calls it her “happy Lord of the Flies”, saying the show is “joyfully radical to its bones”.


The Last King of Scotland September 27-October 19 Based on the novel by Giles Foden, Steve Waters’ stage adaptation of The Last King of Scotland tells the story of how Scottish doctor Nicholas Garrigan becomes entangled with Idi Amin, the selfdeclared president of Uganda. Catapulted into Amin’s inner circle as his personal physician, Garrigan finds himself in moral turmoil. The novel inspired an Oscarwinning film, and this production marks a world premiere on the stage. Performances of this electrifying thriller at Sheffield’s Crucible Theatre go on sale September 6.


Holes January 2020 Louis Sacher’s hit novel Holes comes to UK theatres next year. It tells the story of an unlucky teenage boy, Stanley Yelnats, who is sent to a juvenile corrections facility in the Texas desert on a false accusation. Forced to dig the same sized hole every day by a tyrannical warden, Stanley soon tries to dig up the truth about what they’re doing, and why. Adapted for the stage, the show had an initial run at Nottingham Playhouse last year where it received a four-star review from WhatsOnStage. It embarks on a UK tour from January.



London’s V&A hosts this exhibition that explores the history, influences and impacts of one of the 20th century’s biggest fashion houses. It charts the path of Christian Dior and the six artistic directors who succeeded him. With 500 objects provided by the Dior Archives, this is the UK’s largest and most comprehensive exhibition on the House of Dior. It is divided into 11 sections, from Historicism to Diorama, which showcases the breadth of Dior’s fashion and beauty range.


The Barbican brings together nearly 100 pieces of Lee Krasner’s work, drawn from more than 50 international collections. The exhibition is the first retrospective in Europe for more than 50 years and unveils some of Krasner’s pieces for the first time in the UK. Krasner lived in New York during the post-war years and became a pioneer of Abstract Expressionism, exploring through her artistic medium how to capture the inner experience. The collection on display includes early self-portraits, large-scale abstract paintings and collages of earlier work.

July 2019 43

City Guide Tel Aviv

City Guide

Tel Aviv Split into dozens of eclectic and exciting neighbourhoods, this compact beachside city invites you to explore, says Heidi Fuller-Love


ith its thrilling – sometimes bewildering – blend of sumptuous street food, cool culture, gay-friendly nightlife and historical suburbs, Tel Aviv, whose name translates as ‘Hill of Spring’, easily earns its New York Times-awarded title: ‘Mediterranean Capital of Cool’. This is a city of fascinating contrasts, where cutting-edge culture rubs shoulders with striking modern architecture and iconic historical sights sit next to some of the world’s best beaches – and, like all of the best cities, it’s easy to get around ‘the bubble’, as locals call it. Sleek, clean trains whisk visitors from Ben Gurion Airport to HaShalom station in the centre of town in just 12 minutes, and the city itself, which is split into more than 50 vibrant and diverse neighbourhoods, has an efficient bus network. Plus, there are plenty of apps to help navigate. The best way to visit

44 July 2019

Tel Aviv tours Across Israel

the different neighbourhoods in this compact city, however, is to use the city’s extensive Tel-O-Fun bike-sharing scheme, which has docking stations all over town.


One of the city’s most effervescent neighbourhoods, Lev Ha’ir, which translates as ‘heart of the city’, is where the Unesco-classed White City is located. It is home to one of the world’s best-preserved collections of Bauhaus and International Style architecture constructed between 1920 and 1940. Must-not-miss sights here include the three-storey Bruno House with its spectacular curved balcony on Strauss street and the boat-like building designed for photographer Avraham Soskin along Lilienblum street. Both are best discovered during one of the city’s excellent Englishlanguage Bauhaus walking tours. 

Kuoni’s eight-night Highlights of Israel escorted tour explores Tel Aviv’s delights, Haifa’s Roman sites and the holy city of Jerusalem. £2,646pp,

Tel Aviv to Jerusalem

Mercury Holidays’ four-night Israel The Holy Land escorted tour from Tel Aviv includes a guided kibbutz visit and a day trip to Jerusalem. £399pp,

Israel cruise

Royal Caribbean’s 12-night Holy Land from Rome cruise calls at Jerusalem and Haifa, with optional shore excursions to explore the country’s lively capital. £1,387pp,


Above: The coastal city sits beside the Mediterranean Sea; below: Tel Aviv’s markets are a great place to get a feel for the city

Shopping for hot spices and hip clothes in Carmel Market (known as a ‘shuk’) in Lev Ha’ir is another great way to get a feel for the city. When the sun goes down over Tel Aviv’s largest shuk, the streets around Rothschild Boulevard are the best place in town to soak up a mega dose of the city’s legendary nightlife scene in bars such as cool pharmacy-themed cocktail venue Spicehaus (Dizengoff 117), renowned gay hangout Shpagat (Nahalat Binyamin St 43) or Sputnik (Allenby St 112), which hosts top DJs.


At the other end of the historical scale, and worlds away from the gleaming skyscrapers of downtown Tel Aviv, Jaffa’s old town is a sumptuously atmospheric maze of stone fortifications, domed ceilings, low doorways and narrow alleys dating back thousands of years. Jaffa’s port, said to be one of the world’s oldest, offers a smorgasbord of ancient buildings framing a harbour full of traditional fishing boats. Street-food addicts can get their gastro

July 2019 45

City Guide Tel Aviv


Left: The city’s Bauhaus buildings are home to a thriving community of artists and designers; above: street-food addicts can find traditional local delicacies at every turn

kick at Jaffa port’s street market, which vends everything from sweet cheese pastry kkanafeh to vegetable-stuffed crumbly pastry bourekas, spicy poached egg and tomato dish shakshouka, and sweet flaky flatbread malawach, while shopaholics will adore the heady blend of treasures, Judaica (Jewish art), Persian tiles and antiques on sale at Shuk Hapishpishim flea market.


One of the city’s lesser known gems, Kerem HaTeimanim – the old Yemenite quarter – is tucked away between busy Carmel market and crowded Allenby Street; a colourful labyrinth of semi-pedestrianised streets lined with picturesque early 20th century buildings. Better known locally as The Kerem, this atmospheric quarter is a

46 July 2019

magnet for foodies, who come here to sample what’s touted to be Tel Aviv’s ‘most authentic’ Mediterranean chickpea hummus at iconic eating venue Shlomo and Doron (29 Yashkon st). Food lovers seeking local fare should also wander The Kerem’s narrow paved streets lined with traditional Yemeni restaurants, where specialties on offer include kubaneh pot-baked brioche and delicious chunky marak temani beef stew. Still close to the city centre, bohemian Neve Tzedek, with its narrow pedestrian streets, eclectic oriental architecture and historic sandstone houses, has been a haven for artists and writers since the 1900s. Known as the city’s ‘first neighbourhood’ because it was the first place outside of Jaffa to house Jewish settlers, this arty, avant-garde area close to the beaches and green spaces of beautiful

Charles Clore park is packed to the brim with designer boutiques, art galleries and elegant food outlets. Just a five-minute bike ride across town from here is Florentin, Neve Tzedek’s edgier counterpart. Dubbed ‘Tel Aviv’s Soho’, this colourful multicultural quarter clustered around the old Levinsky market – where vendors sell traditional Turkish, Greek and Romanian specialties – teems with graffiti-covered warehouses that are home to cool live music venues and theatre spaces. A hotbed of alternative culture, this funky neighbourhood where glitzy art galleries and stylish boutiques rub shoulders with second-hand clothes stores and vegetarian cafes is popular with Tel Aviv’s thriving community of artists and designers, who live in the loft-style apartments of the quarter’s countless Bauhaus buildings.

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To participate in the Get Gold promotion (the “Offer”), you must join WestJet Rewards at and book a round-trip business fare itinerary between July 1- August 31, 2019 for travel between Calgary and London (Gatwick), Paris or Dublin for travel dates between July 6 – September 5, 2019. Valid for new bookings only. Not valid on existing reservations. Eligible bookings made between July 1 – September 5, 2019, the Gold status will be applied to the members account between September 7–13, 2019. Gold status will be valid until February 29, 2020. Gold status consists of: 5% WestJet dollar earn rate, unlimited airport lounge access, 2 guest lounge vouchers, high priority eligibility for complimentary upgrades to Premium with EconoFlex fares, early access to purchase an upgrade to Premium or Business, six advance seat selection vouchers, first and second checked bags free, no fee for same-day flight changes at check-in, Zone 1 boarding, priority support number and priority services. Visit for full terms and conditions. Schedule is subject to change without notice. Business is only available on 787 Dreamliner.

Features Toronto

48 July 2019

Under the surface Diverse breaks in Canada’s largest city are booming. James Litston discovers what makes Toronto tick

July 2019 49

Features Toronto


dmiring skyline views is an essential part of many a city break, but few vantage points are quite so immersive as from Toronto’s CN Tower. That’s because I’m not just gazing out from an ordinary viewing deck: I’m standing atop the western hemisphere’s tallest freestanding structure. More specifically, I’m on the roof of its revolving restaurant, hanging over the edge and looking down onto skyscrapers and Lake Ontario. Dressed in an orange survival suit and harnessed to super-strong cables, there’s absolutely no danger of plummeting to the streets below, but nevertheless it’s an adrenaline-pumping, heart-pounding experience. Encouraged by the guide, my six-strong group of fellow daredevils lean backwards over the precipice, then turn around to adopt Superman poses while looking down

at the ground almost a third of a mile below. It’s nerve-shredding but exhilarating being out here in the elements, and I’m thankful that I packed my head for heights. This is EdgeWalk, one of Toronto’s most superlative experiences and a highlight of any stay here in Canada’s largest (and North America’s fourth-largest) city. What makes this more surprising is that Toronto was not long ago written off as rather provincial and dull, but in recent years its fortunes have rapidly changed. A resurgent waterfront, energetic foodie scene and calendar of festivals have added to its vibrancy, while exposure on the TV series Suits (much of which was shot here) has greatly helped to boost the city’s profile. Heading up the CN Tower is one of the must-do experiences recommended by Abercrombie & Kent, along with waterfront biking and taking a Chef’s

Historic and cultural attractions add to the mix of Toronto’s appeal Tour through diverse neighbourhoods. “Our clients really enjoy Toronto’s foodie scene and creative counterculture that has parallels with the likes of Williamsburg and Copenhagen,” says the company’s managing director, Kerry Golds. “As well as being great for city breaks, it pairs well with New York, Chicago, Montreal and Boston for a colourful multi-centre. The launch of British Airways’ new Club Suite on the Toronto route in October is certain to go down well with our discerning customer base.”

Tours Abercrombie & Kent has three nights at Four Seasons Toronto from £1,999pp, including flights Titan Travel includes a three-night Toronto stay in its 12-day ‘Colours of the Canadian Fall’ escorted tour departing October 7, 2019 and costing from £2,549pp, including flights, accommodation, door-to-door transfers, guiding, group excursions and some meals Tauck concludes an eight-day Great Lakes cruise with a two-night Toronto stay, from £5,490pp (departing September 20, 2019) or from £6,170pp for 2020 departures, including flights

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Feeling surprisingly hungry after descending from such lofty heights, I seek out some of Toronto’s favourite foods at lively St Lawrence Market. Located in the historic Old Town district, the market showcases regional foodstuffs from produce to artisanal goods, alongside a range of brunch spots and restaurants. Urged by a vendor, I opt for a sandwich stuffed with peameal bacon, a hearty snack that he promises is a must-try Toronto tradition. Clients will find more foodie treats in central Kensington Market, as well as authentic ethnic fare nearby in Chinatown, Greek Town and Little Italy. Also worth seeking out are the busy street scenes in Yonge-Dundas Square (which has parallels with New York’s Times Square) and the Distillery District, where former warehouses have been transformed into

eateries, cafes and one-of-a-kind shops. Youthful clients will also appreciate Queen Street West and West Queen Street for their mix of independent shops, quirky galleries and innovative restaurants. Historic and cultural attractions also add to the mix of Toronto’s appeal. Tucked among the city skyscrapers are attractions such as Royal Ontario Museum and Casa Loma, a splendid, Gothic Revival mansion and museum. (Both of these are included, along with general admission to the CN Tower, in the Toronto CityPass, which makes a convenient, commissionable upsell.) Another cultural big-hitter is the Art Gallery of Toronto, whose contemporary collections and Centre for Indigenous & Canadian Art are particularly special. No less historic is the landmark Fairmont Royal York, which I pop into to check out the update it’s undergone


Below left: Gothic Revival mansion Casa Loma; right: the bohemian Kensington Market is popular for its arts spaces, vintage shops and speciality food stores

July 2019 51

Features Toronto


Clockwise from top left: Food stalls at St Lawrence market; EdgeWalk at the CN Tower; the Royal Ontario Museum of art, culture and natural history; the vibrant Yonge-Dundas Square

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Clients have ample opportunity to seek out leafier urban adventures for its 90th birthday. Much of the hotel’s original elegance has been restored to its former glory and further enhanced by the launch of Reign (an all-new, Canadianstyle brasserie) and Clockwork Champagne & Cocktails, a lounge-style bar. Better yet, the hotel is connected to PATH, the underground network of pedestrian tunnels, so clients can access Union Station and other downtown destinations without going outside if it’s icy or wet. That said, the great outdoors is one of Toronto’s biggest assets. From canoeing or kayaking on Lake Ontario to cycling along

its shore, clients have ample opportunity to seek out some leafier urban adventures. Those keen to explore on two wheels can join a tour or explore on their own by using the city’s bike-share scheme, which costs from $7 (£4) to access for 24 hours. On sunny days, waterfront neighbourhoods such as The Beaches come into their own, while those keen to go further afield can experience the region’s thundering icon, Niagara Falls, within two hours by public transport. For my own brush with nature, I take a trip to the Toronto Islands, which sit just offshore from central Queen’s Quay and are easily reached by ferry. Once attached to the mainland before being cut off by violent storms, Centre Island, Ward’s Island and Hanlan’s Point are a favourite playground of Torontonians seeking a change from the city. Being leafy, laidback and totally car-free, the islands are a world away from all the big-city bustle,

and their beaches throng with daytrippers in summer. Thanks to being low-lying and flat, the Toronto Islands are perfect for cycling. There are landmarks such as lighthouses and yacht clubs to discover, plus plenty of cafes in which to refuel. It’s worth recommending that clients hire a bike once here to explore, or even join a half-day bike tour (these are prebookable through Viator). Also pre-bookable are hour-long sightseeing cruises that stop at Centre Island – ideal for clients who aren’t so keen on active explorations. As for me, I’m happy to find a spot to sit on the waterfront and admire the view across Inner Harbour back towards the city. Standing proud above the skyscrapers, the CN Tower crowns the skyline, providing a very different perspective to my view from earlier on. It all adds up to a memorable combination of experiences in this underrated city that feels like it’s really come into its own.

July 2019 53

Features Adventure

Chasing thrills ‘Adventure’ is a broad term, but with operators worldwide tailoring tours, there’s something for everyone, writes Anthony Pearce 54 July 2019


ne man’s adventure is another’s stroll in the park. “Adventure travel can mean different things to different people,” says Andrew Turner, head of industry sales EMEA at Intrepid Travel. “For some, it may mean trekking to Everest Base Camp, while to others it means seeing the Taj Mahal for the first time, or trying local delicacies on a street food tour.” Over the past decade we have seen the adventure sector grow

exponentially, but we have also seen the definition broaden to include everything from ‘soft’ adventure to expedition. With holidaymakers increasingly searching for new experiences, they are looking towards everything from high-energy ‘extreme’ sporting holidays to polar cruises and jungle treks. “At Intrepid Travel, adventure is about having an authentic experience, going behind the scenes of the culture and

spending time with local people,” says Turner, who notes that the demand for authentic and responsible travel doesn’t appear to have an end in sight. “That’s a trend we expect to continue as travellers choose unique and memorable experiences over traditional package holidays,” he adds. KEEPING IT LOCAL Adventure is often conflated with long-haul travel, but there are plenty of options

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Features Adventure

Up, up and away

G Adventures’ Brian Young on the incredible rise in demand for adventure travel When asked what’s driving heightened demand for adventure travel, G Adventures’ managing director Brian Young credits “an increase in airlift, making travel to long-haul destinations easier, and a shift in traveller behaviour” as two key factors in its evolution and growth. “With the world getting smaller and more accessible thanks to lower-cost air travel, travellers’ wanderlust has grown and there has been a shift away from fly-and-flop holidays, with demand for cultural immersion and the opportunity to experience the world in a unique way on the rise. This demand, which is driven significantly by social media channels such as Instagram and Facebook, lends itself perfectly to the adventure travel sector, which is able to take travellers away from the tourist hotspots, offering authentic immersion and interaction with local people and the opportunity to get under the skin of a destination. Knowledge among agents and travellers has also evolved, with the idea that adventure travel is only for those seeking active and adrenaline-filled vacations moving towards the understanding that adventure travel can offer something to every traveller,” says Young.

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It has been an exciting 12 months for G Adventures, with the operator launching a number of new products and travel styles. “Our new Wellness trips, which launched in October last year, are seeing great interest from those seeking an experience that offers both adventure and well-being in some incredible destinations. Having expanded our National Geographic Journeys collection with the addition of new trips in destinations such as Northern Peru, Hungary and Romania, we have seen more than 20 per cent increase in revenue from our agent partners in the UK in the past 12 months,” Young continues. “As a leader in active experiences such as Mount Kilimanjaro and the Inca Trail and with more travellers seeking fitness-focused challenges, we have seen more than 10 per cent growth in passenger numbers for our Active travel style.” Young says that the demand for adventure isn’t limited to land, with strong growth in G Adventures’ sailing product and new itineraries on offer that no other operator is running. “Britain is a nation made up of travellers,” says Young. “Some of the first great explorers

came from the UK and this wanderlust can still be seen and felt across the nation. And it’s a nation of resilience. When faced with challenges such as recession or Brexit, the British public still have a thirst to travel and aren’t willing to compromise on their annual getaway. The shift in perceptions around the traditional holiday means that travellers are seeking more local, immersive and challenging experiences, which lends itself perfectly to the adventure sector. Interestingly, kids are increasingly becoming the driving force behind the decision-making for family holidays.” Young notes an increase in children wanting exciting activities and families looking for experiences to build lasting memories: “We recently launched our new National Geographic Family Journeys, having undertaken research around what families are looking for from their holiday. Globally, 85 per cent said that they would prefer activities the whole family can enjoy together rather than those that focus on separate adult relaxation time. This is true as well for the UK market and is a trend that the adventure travel sector caters to perfectly.”

close to home. For sports lovers, Tirol in Austria offers activities in abundance. Although the Alps are best known for skiing, there are options year-round. In Ötztal, which James Bond fans may know from the 2015 film Spectre, thrill seekers will find ten summer lifts that lead to 1,600km of marked hiking trails, among them the Ötztal Trek, a long-distance route spanning 400km. There’s also Bike Republic Sölden, described as an ‘entire nation for bikers’, where bike trails are carved into the landscape. This unique area is filled with single trails, flow trails, trick riding and uphill challenges, and embraces culture and environmental sustainability ( Nearby is Area 47 in the Ötztal Valley, a 20,000sqm water sport and adventure area which boasts waterslides, over-water bouldering, cliff diving, rafting, canyoning, wakeboarding, a human water cannon and surf sliding. As cycling continues to grow in popularity in the UK, so too do biking holidays, with the likes of Skedaddle ( specialising in everything from road leisure and family cycling to mountain biking and ‘adventure’. The latter includes routes in Borneo (through Sarawak, including Orangutan-spotting at the Semenggoh Nature Reserve) and Mongolia (featuring a descent to Orkhon Falls and river swimming and a trip to the ErdeNe Zuu monastery). For those who prefer their adventure on two legs, rather than two wheels, walking and trekking holidays have also grown in popularity, becoming increasingly diverse. Companies such as Exodus have pioneered active walking holidays, whether those are guided or self-guided tours, in a wide range of destinations, be it the Andes, Swiss Alps or the Amalfi Coast. Its holidays range from ‘leisurely’ (level 1) to ‘tough’ (level 7) to Level 9, which combines all the elements of tough, but includes climbing a glaciated mountain peak.

EXPEDITION CRUISING The expedition and adventure sector of cruise is a huge success story in an industry that continues to reinvent itself and shake off expectations. From ultra-luxury yachts heading off to explore polar regions to tiny vessels traversing tributaries of the Amazon and Galápagos Islands, there are now more options than ever. According to the International Association Of Antarctica Tour Operators (IAATO), there are 71 ships or ‘sailing vessels’ permitted to carry guests to the White Continent. These range from Holland America Line’s 2,504-guest Westerdam to the 150-guest National Geographic Explorer, as well as even smaller vessels, such as the 12-passenger Hans Hansson, previously operated by Quark Expeditions. The size of the ship depends very much on the experience, particularly given the restrictions around ice-landings, meaning operators are trying to innovate in new ways; Scenic Eclipse will launch this year with a helicopter and submarines on board, while G Adventures is preparing to launch its first ship, which will sail the region. The fire to Antarctica’s ice is the Galápagos Islands, another bucket-list seafaring destination. Celebrity Cruises has just launched Celebrity Flora, which has been built specifically for sailing in the

region. The ship – which can handle 100 guests, the limit for vessels operating in the region – has a laboratory, Discovery Lounge with a huge screen for presentations, and a marina at the aft of the ship where guests will be able to board zodiacs – small, inflatable vessels. ESCORTED TOURING The likes of Contiki, Trafalgar, G Adventures and Intrepid have revolutionised the escorted touring experience, giving a traditional type of holiday an adventurous spin and attracting a younger crowd. The latter offers more than 800 different itineraries across Europe, Asia, Africa, North and South America, the Middle East, Australia and both the Arctic and Antarctica. Adventure-seekers will be particularly interested in its hike, bike and kayak/ raft itineraries in Vietnam, Andorra and Cambodia. Contiki, which is aimed at 18 to 35 year olds, offers trips across six continents that include city breaks, camping, ski and snowboard, and sailing. G Adventures, meanwhile, has teamed up with National Geographic Explorer to offers tours across the world. Some of the highlights include its 16-day Peru And Bolivia: Machu Picchu To The Salt Flats and nine-day Colombia Journey tours.


Above: The Galápagos Islands have wildlife in abundance; right: 71 sailing vessels are permitted to carry guests to Antarctica

July 2019 57


Walking Slovenia The new 300km Julian Alps Hiking Trail takes in some of Slovenia’s most beautiful scenery, from snow-capped peaks to Alpine valleys


tretching from northeastern Italy through Slovenia, where they rise to 2,864m at Mount Triglav, the Julian Alps take in some of Europe’s most magnificent scenery. Named after Julius Caesar, who founded the municipium of Cividale del Friuli at the foot of the mountains, these peaks offer incredible views, crystal-clean water, verdant green landscapes and the chance to explore picturesque remote villages. Visitors to the beautiful country of Slovenia are now invited to tackle these majestic mountains with the new 300km Julian Alps Hiking Trail, in part or – for the more adventurous among us – all at once. Launching in autumn this year, the trail runs in a clockwise direction and is divided into various stages of about 20km. The plan is to incorporate cycling trails in the future.

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Undoubtedly the king of this range is Triglav – not only Slovenia’s highest mountain but also the symbol of the Slovenian nation (the country’s coat of arms is a shield with the image of Mount Triglav, which appears on its flag). First protected in 1924 and now covering some 838km2, Triglav National Park allows hikers to get reacquainted with nature. It’s home to vertiginous peaks, picturesque Alpine valleys, babbling brooks and lakes that reflect the blue sky, plus diverse flora and fauna. There is an abundance of beauty along the trail: hikers will take in Lake Bohinj, the largest on the route, and the idyllic Lake Bled, home to Slovenia’s only natural island and one of Europe’s most beautiful spots. Here, hikers can visit the island on a traditional pletna boat. The island is home to Assumption of Mary Pilgrimage Church,

where visitors often ring the bell for good luck. On the way to Gorje, a pretty village set at the top of a gently sloping ridge, the trail continues along the northern shore of the lake below Bled Castle to the Bled Jezero railway station. Those with time should visit the fortress (pictured above), which is thought to be the oldest castle in Slovenia, first mentioned in a 1011 donation deed as castellum Veldes. On the trail, hikers will follow the beautiful emerald-coloured Soča river (pictured right) all the way to the vineyard hills of Brda, where merlot, cabernet sauvignon, pinot noir, pinot gris and sauvignon vert are produced. Besides grapes, the region also produces cherries, apricots, pears, figs and plums. Nestled between the Alps and the Adriatic Sea, Brda is a great example of Slovenia’s beauty and diversity.

Rambling riverside The trail begins (and ends) at the state border between Slovenia and Italy in Rateče and continues past the beautiful Zelenci springs and beneath the hills of Vitranc to Kranjska Gora, an alpine resort in northwestern Slovenia. From there, the trail passes along the left bank of the Sava Dolinka river and rises to the picturesque viewing point of Srednji Vrh. Continuing along the valley, the trail takes in Belca on the right bank of the Sava Dolinka and Mojstrana. It then leads to pretty Lipce and across the Dobravsko polje field (a large, flat plain) to Moste and other villages beneath Stol mountain, the highest mountain of the Karawanks which straddles the border between Slovenia and Austria.

of where hikers begin their journey, the small but culturally rich city is more than worthy of a visit either side of the trek. The trail winds through the village of Begunje to Radovljica, one of the bestpreserved town structures in Slovenia with houses dating from the 15th and 16th centuries. From the town, the trail descends to the Sava river and along its left bank past the confluence of both Sava headwaters – Bohinjka and Dolinka – and runs to Šobec and Bled. After Gorje, hikers will begin a demanding ascent to Pokljuka, a forested karst plateau at an elevation of around 1,100-1,400m. Popular with climbers, cyclists and skiers, this unique landscape offers adventure in abundance and breathtaking views.

Rich heritage From Žirovnica to Rodine, the villages beneath Stol are linked by a rich cultural heritage, allowing hikers to learn more about Slovenian history and traditional ways of living. From here, the trail ascends to Sveti Peter above Begunje, a hill that offers one of the most beautiful views of the Julian Alps from the east and opens the view almost to Ljubljana, the country’s stunning capital. Regardless

Magnificent scenery Regardless of whether hikers decide to tackle the entire trail or just a stage or two, they are guaranteed to enjoy magnificent scenery. For example, from Most na Soči to Bovec, the trail around the Julian Alps takes in the beautiful and pristine Soča river. When heading to Kobarid hikers will see the famous Kozjak Waterfall – just a few minutes’ walk away – and travel past the typically

Slovene villages of Trnovo, Srpenica and Žaga. In Bovec, hikers can search for the historic trail that leads past the Kluže Fortress, built in 1472, and walk further along the Koritnica River to Log pod Mangartom, set before the Mangart, Jalovec and Loška stena mountains. Another beautiful stretch comes after Pokljuka and Bačarsko sedlo as hikers start their third major ascent across the Predel Pass, situated on the border with Italy. Behind the bridge at the end of the village there is a road that takes in the picturesque waterfalls in the Predilnica gorge. It continues to the Italian side along the old road to Rajbelj, an old mining town; on a hot day, the lake below is perfect for a refreshing swim. The trail from here leads to Rateče. With direct flights to Ljubljana (average flight time 2h 10m) from London Gatwick, Heathrow, Luton and Stansted, and Manchester, it’s easy to join the trail at any junction. It’s a chance to escape the stresses and distractions of everyday life, reconnect with nature and, given Slovenia’s commitment to sustainable tourism, enjoy environmentally-friendly adventure. For more information, see

July 2018 59

Features Italian gastronomy

The flavours of Italy Christine Smallwood takes us on a tasting tour of Italy, sampling the local delicacies and washing them down with some of the best wine in the world


taly and food. The two go together like prosciutto and melon, or pasta and comfort. The country has long been a gastronomic destination with so much excellence to taste in every region. So if you’re planning a trip, here are some foods and wines that may not be on your musteat list, but should be. Let’s start in northern Lombardy, a region whose food is often underrated and unjustly so. For an aperitivo, a Campari is Milan’s decompression drink of choice, or a glass of Franciacorta, Italy’s best sparkling wine. A visit to the Berlucchi winery in Borgonato, where this impressive fizz was born, is a great way to find out more. The region loves polenta, perhaps with ossobuco (a veal dish), but filled pastas are notable

60 July 2019

too: casoncelli from Brescia, or marubini from Cremona. Cheese lovers are spoilt for choice here, with Gorgonzola, Taleggio and Storico Ribelle, which is frequently matured for up to a decade. Pair the latter with standout red wines from the Valtellina valley made with Chiavennasca, also known as mountain Nebbiolo – a red burgundy grape and a match made in heaven. Next door in the Veneto region, Venice is understandably popular, albeit with a reputation for overpriced tourist menus, so steer clear of those and sit in a bar eating small plates of cicchetti – bar snacks – and drinking spritz or a small glass of wine (an ombra in local slang). Of course, the region is also home to Prosecco, so you have the opportunity to enjoy those bubbles in situ.

In Venice, steer clear of the overpriced tourist menus and instead sit in a bar eating small plates of cicchetti – bar snacks

If still white wines are more your thing, the neighbouring region of Friuli-Venezia Giulia and areas such as Collio produce some acclaimed ones. While there, don’t miss the deliciously addictive frico, a dish made from local Montasio cheese, and nutty, fruity gubana cakes. The region is also home to San Daniele ham, and yes, the battle of its supremacy versus that of Parma continues with as much arm waving as ever. And then there’s Umbria, one of my favourite regions. Visit the town of Norcia for renowned pork produce (it’s the home of Italy’s best butchers, hence the sign of ‘Norcineria’ on their shops around the country). Roasted porchetta is reliable street food, and if you’re in Piazza del Mercato in Spoleto, the van selling it there is recommended. Buy first-rate lentils from Castelluccio, and as for the wines, just ask for a glass of deep red Sagrantino from Arnaldo Caprai in the beautiful town of Montefalco and all will be well.

Down south, Puglia, the heel of the boot, is known as l’orto d’Italia – the vegetable garden of Italy. Dishes such as fava bean purée (’ncapriata) and pasta with chickpeas (ciceri e tria – which brilliantly contains both boiled and fried pasta) will keep those who don’t eat meat happy, or from the charming town of Martina Franca comes capocollo, a regional pork salumi speciality. If you’re happy to eat raw fish, pesce crudo is a speciality from the capital of Bari. Try it with a light white wine from Locorotondo, or a very good rosé. Fullbodied reds from the Salento can intrigue the most demanding oenophiles, while burrata fans should order a whole one a mere few hours old in the city of Andria, with excellent bread from nearby Altamura. It wouldn’t be fair to talk about Italian food without mentioning Sicily, where it’s normal to enjoy a gelato-filled brioche for breakfast, and clearly there are worse ways to start the day. Pasta with pesto alla

Trapanese (tomato and almond pesto) includes the island’s creamy almonds, and given that sweet things are so popular here, we’ll end our tour with a visit to revered pastry chef Maria Grammatico, in the gorgeous town of Erice, for cannoli (Italian pastries) and cassata, a traditional dessert. Heartbreakingly, we haven’t had time for pizza in Naples, pasta cacio e pepe in Rome, or spicy ’nduja spreadable salumi in Calabria, and so many other delights. No matter. That gives us the perfect excuse to return to one of the most alluring food destinations in the world.


Left: Lunch beside Lake Orta in northern Italy; below: pizzas bake in a traditional oven in Naples

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Features Industry insights

Industry insights

The A380 Airbus’s jumbo jet has struggled to take off as the industry moves to smaller twin-jets, writes Gary Noakes

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oo often, good ideas come along just too late – something Airbus admitted earlier this year when it cancelled production of its A380 double-decker. The last will roll-out off the line in 2021, only 14 years after the first commercial flight, with Tom Enders, Airbus’s then chief executive, admitting in February that the manufacturer was a decade late in developing the super-jumbo. In the same month, as if to rub it in, Boeing celebrated 50 years of its 747 jumbo jet. Both are spectacular feats of engineering, but the reasons for the longevity of the 747 and the early demise of the A380 is that the 747 was a step change and of its time, unlike the A380. When it first flew commercially in 1970, the 747 was revolutionary in terms of its cost per seat and range, shrinking the world by making flying affordable. The A380 delivered about 20 per cent less fuel burn than the 747 and with almost identical range while carrying around 58 more passengers in a typical three-class layout. Its problem is that it did it at a time when engine technology allowed a similar (or slightly fewer and more manageable) number to be carried on a twin-jet. Airbus’s Enders knew this only too well as he closed the A380 book. “What we’re seeing here is the end of the large, fourengine aircraft,” he said. Only 15 carriers bought the A380 – with no orders from North or South America or Africa – and early this year, Airbus suffered a fatal blow to its order book of 79 when Emirates reduced its options for 53 to just 14. Not since Concorde has one aircraft been so dependent on so few airlines, and Emirates has kept the A380 production line open by itself. It will finish with 123 in service,

more than 100 more than the next biggest customer, Singapore Airlines. Emirates swapped the A380 options for the smaller A350 twin-jet, while other airlines have decided there are just not enough busy trunk routes on which to place the A380 – British Airways, for example, has just 12. Virgin Atlantic, which made much of plans for an on-board gym and other fantasies, was one carrier that cancelled its order in favour of twin-jets as reality hit.

Not since Concorde has one aircraft been so dependent on so few airlines Airbus had bet on airlines expanding the hub-and-spoke airport system, with the A380 mopping up huge numbers of passengers at congested airports. Boeing thought travellers wanted more non-stop point-to-point flights to secondary cities (like Qantas’s 17-hour London-Perth route), which its smaller, less thirsty 787 permits. Boeing believes secondary cities have more room for growth, unlike firsttier centres, and it appears to be right. The sales figures underline this: in April the 787 series, which first flew commercially in 2011, had 1,441 orders from around 60 airlines, with 829 in service. The A380 could only muster 290 orders from 15 airlines, plus around 100 cancellations. Once the poor sales became apparent, airports became increasingly reluctant to invest in the double air bridges and larger stands the A380 requires, so its fate was sealed. Boeing won this round, but this doesn’t mean the 747 will retain its title of Queen

of the Skies much longer – the largest operator, British Airways, will remove the last from its fleet in late 2022. Only Lufthansa, Korean Air and Air China have bought the latest passenger version of the aircraft, the 747-8, although two ordered by collapsed Russian airline Transaero are being converted as replacements for Air Force One, the US presidential aircraft. Like the A380, the passenger 747 is ultimately damned by the twin-jet era, but it is being sustained as a freighter – Boeing hedged its bets with the original 1960s design, which allows for a liftable nose for loading large pallets, making the 747 attractive to cargo airlines. It is still in production, with a current order book of 22. But surely the A380 would be a better heavy lifter? Not according to logistics company Flexport. It points out that the aircraft’s full cubic space can never be loaded (using an industry average measure) because it would be too heavy. Moreover, the second deck can’t be removed, as it is a structural component. In short, the A380 freighter is too fat to fly at a profit because it can’t lift the maximum payload that could fill it. As Flexport puts it: “It wouldn’t be fully loaded at typical levels of air cargo density.” That equation means the usual practice of converting older passenger aircraft to freighters probably won’t apply to the A380; indeed, two former Singapore Airlines aircraft are already in the breaker’s yard. Lest plane spotters get upset, remember it will be another three years before the last A380 emerges from the factory and that a long-haul aircraft has a lifespan of about 25 years, so both it and the 747 will still be in the skies until mid-century. The future of air travel after that, however, is definitely not powered by four engines.

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Gamesroom Crossword



6. One of millions a cruise passenger will see (4) 7. Gather for safety exercise on board ship (6) 8. It borders Cambodia and Laos (7) 9. Possess (3) 11. What you see with (3,5,3) 13. Before (3) 14. Become rigid (7) 17. One lacking in pigment (6) 18. Irish county and port (4)

1. Mainly Hindu Indonesian island (4) 2. Wagering (7) 3. Going aboard (11) 4. US intelligence organisation (1,1,1) 5. Sideways drift at sea (6) 10. Construction (7) 12. Senlac Hill loser (6) 15. Nobleman (4) 16. El ---, Castilian national hero (3)
























































































8 7

9 1





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4 3





6 8






3 3



Where in the world?

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

May’s answer was: Lisbon

Word up

How many words can you make out of these letters? There is at least one nine-letter word








July 2019 65

Final word Carolyn Wincer

Final word

Each issue we speak to an ABTA employee about their work. This time, it’s Carolyn Wincer, commercial director for Travelife


ravelife for Accommodation is owned by ABTA and was formed more than ten years ago to improve accommodation sustainability and to make it easier for ABTA members to promote more sustainable choices for their customers. We certify hotels against the Travelife Standard that contains 163 criteria covering all aspects of sustainability, including the environment, fair labour practices, human rights and animal welfare. Our accommodation members undergo an on-site audit with one of our independent auditors every two years, and if they meet all of the criteria, they become Travelife Certified. Travelife Certification makes it easier for both consumers and operators to identify sustainable accommodation by looking for the Travelife Gold certification mark. We have grown a lot in recent years as sustainability issues are entering mainstream awareness. For the first time this year we will have more than 1,000 certified hotels globally. We are seeing that people are becoming increasingly concerned about the environmental and social impact their holidays are having. Both ABTA and our members take that very seriously and ensuring that there are sustainable accommodation options is an important way of helping holidaymakers have responsible holidays. Our standard is comprehensive. A lot of certifications have a strong focus on one issue, like the environment or destination management, whereas ours covers all of the areas of sustainability and really helps accommodation providers improve across areas from child safeguarding and animal welfare through to reducing greenhouse gas emissions and reducing plastic waste. And it works; Travelife Certification really does have an impact. We recently found an incident where a property in the Indian Ocean was withholding passports from migrant workers – an indicator of labour issues. We worked with management to fix that

66 July 2019

DON’T MISS Consumer Law in the Marketing and Selling of Holidays September 26, London

problem. This year we also uncovered an animal welfare situation in a mainstream European destination where a hotel was putting on a reptile show and the animals were not being treated well. That was flagged by one of the guests staying at the hotel and we worked with the general manager to fix the problem. At the moment we are also training hotels in sub-Saharan Africa on child safeguarding and human rights issues for migrant workers. I’m really proud of the work we are doing and the effect that it is having on the industry. My working week is always different. I’m part of a team of nine but there are also 50 independent auditors working around the world. In the past six months we have updated the guidance for all of our hotels – encompassing more than 60 documents – and we are looking at refreshing our auditor recruitment and training programme. We also launched a new website in February. When it comes to forward planning it is all about increasing the number of Travelife Certified hotels globally and ensuring that they continue to improve their environmental and social impacts. One of the initiatives we are currently running is a competition for our hotels, called the Travelife Waste Challenge. We are encouraging them to set targets around reducing their food and plastic waste and will give special guidance so they can go that extra mile. We will give prizes for each category and to those who manage to engage their staff, guests or the community. The idea is that we motivate them to always look for more improvements they can make towards greater social responsibility and enhanced environmental performance – and that they learn along the way. See for more details.

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. also hosts ABTA Golf, the ABTA Magazine Guides and the ABTA Country Guides.

New beginnings

Travel industry insights / May 2018

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

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

ABTA Magazine

Generation game

Why business travel has been reshaped around the needs of millennials

Royal Caribbean

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

ABTA Magazine A BTA





Turning the plastic tide


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


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

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

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

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

What’s the thinking behind it?

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

How does this relate to plastics?

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

What’s been your best achievement?

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

How can Members get involved?

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

56 May 2018

May 2018 57 – available on desktop, phone and tablet

The By Waterfront In September 2018, Waterfront, the publisher of ABTA Magazine and Cruise Adviser, launched a new creative agency. The Studio by Waterfront specialises in design solutions across print, web and social media. The Studio offers a tailored approach for all clients, with copywriting, proofreading and design elements available, in the following areas:

PRINT Catalogues, brochures, leaflets, exhibition stand designs and magazines

DIGITAL Website design, social media campaigns, digital and native advertising

ADVERTISING Billboards, newspaper and magazine creative advertising and advertorials

BRANDING Logos, brand identity, promotional videos, proofreading and copywriting

For more information, email



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Profile for ABTA Magazine

ABTA Magazine – July 2019  

The latest issue of ABTA Magazine, created by Waterfront Publishing. In this issue, James Litston heads to Toronto; Jenny Southan explores t...

ABTA Magazine – July 2019  

The latest issue of ABTA Magazine, created by Waterfront Publishing. In this issue, James Litston heads to Toronto; Jenny Southan explores t...