ABTA Magazine – November 2019

Page 1

Winter wonderlands

Trade Publication of the Year / Nov 2019

Nicky Holford looks at all the latest developments in skiing and snowboarding in Switzerland, Austria, Italy and beyond

Cliff hangers

Explore quaint towns and deserted beaches on the Welsh coast

Tokyo drift

Leave the capital and find Japan’s sublime wellness retreats

Holiday Habits

ABTA’s 2019 report reveals the favoured destinations for Brits

YOUR FRONT ROW SEAT ON THE WORLD From neon-lit skylines to snowy mountain roads, with 5,500 locations in more than 165 countries you can enjoy your journey, wherever it may take you. WE T RY H A R D E R AV I S . C O . U K / T R AV E L A G E N T S

Winter wonderlands

Trade Publication of the Year / Nov 2019

Nicky Holford looks at all the latest developments in skiing and snowboarding in Switzerland, Austria, Italy and beyond

Cliff hangers

Explore quaint towns and deserted beaches on the Welsh coast

Tokyo drift

Leave the capital and find Japan’s sublime wellness retreats

Holiday Habits

ABTA’s 2019 report reveals the favoured destinations for Brits

Fresh tracks


t’s been a difficult few months for the travel industry, which was rocked by the closure of Thomas Cook, the historic and iconic holiday company. But the industry, which has rallied round Thomas Cook’s former staff, remains resilient. Hays Travel announced that it has bought all of the company’s 555 former stores, saving hundreds, potentially thousands, of jobs, while ABTA’s Holiday Habits 2019 Report has just revealed that the number of Brits taking a holiday is at its highest since 2011. Interestingly, official government statistics show that 18.2m took an overseas package holiday – proving, as ABTA’s Victoria Bacon writes on p21 – that rumours of the package holiday’s decline have been greatly exaggerated. Another part of the industry that has rallied under difficult conditions is the ski and other winter sports sectors. On p42, our ski expert Nicky Holford looks at the latest developments in France, Austria and beyond. Elsewhere in this issue, our Latin America correspondent Sorrel Moseley-Williams visits Chile, now easily accessible by British Airways’ longest flights, which connects London and Santiago. After exploring the capital, she heads further afield to wine country and the fjords of its magnificent coastline (p48). We’ve also got all the latest news (starting p8), our report from the Travel Convention in Tokyo (p18), plus more on the Holiday Habits Report (p59). We’re also delighted to announce that ABTA Magazine won Trade Publication of the Year at the prestigious Travel Media Awards in October. It’s just 18 months since Waterfront Publishing relaunched the magazine, so we’re particularly honoured to have won this award after entering the magazine for the very first time. You can read more about our win on p10.

Events with ABTA

See p23 for the full list of ABTA events

November 13

November 20

January 30

A Beginner’s Guide to Travel Law, Birmingham

A Definitive Guide to the Package Travel and ATOL Regulations, London

Complaints Handling Workshop, London


November 2019



42 48

Winter wonderlands The best places to ski and snowboard

Chile A land of many splendours

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

020 3865 9360

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

Finding peace Japanese wellness retreats

Sales manager Rory Collins rory@waterfront-publishing.com 020 3865 4815 Head of design Billy Odell billy@ABTAmag.com Business travel editor Jenny Southan jenny@ABTAmag.com Sub-editors Emily Eastman, Nathaniel Cramp, Alice Snape


ABTAmag.com info@ABTAmag.com Twitter: @ABTAMagazine Facebook: ABTAMagazine LinkedIn: ABTAMagazine ABTA 30 Park Street, London SE1 9EQ Chief executive Mark Tanzer Chairman Alistair Rowland

With thanks to: Karl Cushing, Jenny Southan, Gary Noakes, Kevin EG Perry



SUNNY ESCAPES Come and see us at WTM BOOTH NA240

ABTA Magazine

In the November issue



32 Contributors Jenny Southan

Award-winning freelance travel journalist, and editor and founder of Globetrender. Billy Odell is a freelance illustrator and graphic designer based in London. You can see his cartoons and sketches at billyodell.com After many years as a news reporter, a passion for travel and skiing has taken Nicky Holford to mountains and slopes around the world. Based in Argentina since 2006, sommelier Sorrel MoseleyWilliams writes about food, travel and wine, focusing on Latin America.


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Editor’s letter Welcome to winter wonderland


News The latest travel industry news


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


Interview: Alistair Rowland The new ABTA chairman on reshaping the industry in a post-Thomas Cook era


ABTA section The Travel Convention in Japan, Victoria Bacon talks package holidays, plus all the latest news, campaigns and events


Business travel Jenny Southan takes a look at frequent flyer programmes


Spotlight on… Sandals. Caribbean resort operator, Karl Thompson says a Sandals holiday offers a lot more than just luxury


UK holidays Sam Ballards takes a stroll along the stunning Welsh Coastal Path


City guide Jane Archer says everything from luxury to adventure is bigger and better in Dubai


Holiday Habits Report The 2019 ABTA report reveals that the number of Brits going on holiday is at a record high


Final word Alice Catterall on delivering the best customer service possible

On trend We explore the numbers behind Thomas Cook’s closure and hotel rooms in London


On trend

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

HAYS TO THE RESCUE At the time of writing, Hays Travel have reopened 236 of the 555 former Thomas Cook branches. Hays Travel has so far offered 2072 jobs to former Thomas Cook employees. A record number of hotel rooms will open in the capital next year, according to data from London & Partners. Spread across 65 properties, there will be an additional 7,995 rooms, rising from 3,222 in 2010 (see p25).

The Daxing International Airport in Beijing was formally opened in September 2019. It cost $11bn (£8.8bn) and spans 700,000 square metres, or 98 football fields, according to state media outlet China Daily. The new airport is located around 46km (29 mi) south of Tiananmen Square and was designed architect Zaha Hadid.

Princess Cruises’ Sky Princess, which joined the cruise line’s fleet in October, boasts 1,000-square-foot continuous balcony – the largest at sea – in its Sky Suites.


64 Brits took a foreign trip ABTAmag.com


In its Holiday Habits Report, ABTA revealed that 64 per cent of Brits took a foreign holiday, up from 60 per cent last year. However, consumers are spending £98 less on short foreign holidays than in the previous year and £94 less on a longer overseas break (see p56).


less spent on those foreign trips

November 2019


News November

News November 2019

All the latest headlines from the world of travel



UK resumes flights to Sharm Fly clean el-Sheikh after safety ban By Alice Snape

By Alice Snape British holidaymakers will soon be returning to Sharm el-Sheikh after the four-year flight ban to the Egyptian resort was lifted. The Foreign Office and Commonwealth Office updated its advice, stating that it “no longer advises against all but essential travel by air to/from Sharm el-Sheikh”. Commercial flights were stopped after the bombing of a Russian airliner, which the Islamic State group claimed responsibility for, back in October 2015. Since then, there’s been close cooperation between the UK and Egypt to improve airport security, with the Egyptian government spending tens of millions of pounds upgrading security systems. UK transport secretary Grant Shapps said: “We will now work closely with airlines [that] wish to resume flights to the airport.” Sharm el-Sheikh had previously been one of the most popular destinations with holidaymakers from the UK, in particular seeking winter sun at the largest Red Sea resort. According to The Egyptian State Tourist Office, 2010 saw a record high with 1.3 million Brits visiting Egypt.


November 2019

At the time the ban was imposed, Monarch and Thomas Cook were two of the leading UK travel firms serving Sharm el-Sheikh. With Cook’s failure, other operators are now stepping in. Just hours after the restriction was lifted on October 22, package holidays to the once-popular resort were back on sale. Egypt specialist Red Sea Holidays were the first, after sourcing weekly flights with Enter Air out of Gatwick, which could fly out as early as December this year. Red Sea’s executive director Peter Kearns said: “One of the great selling points of Sharm is that it’s great value. I’m sure [hoteliers] will respond with attractive pricing.” Holiday firm Tui have also said: “We will reintroduce Sharm el-Sheikh, taking into account customer demand, and will now work closely with our hotel and airport partners.” An easyJet spokesperson added: “We are aware of the lifting of the restriction on UK airlines flying into Sharm el-Sheikh Airport and will look at any opportunities for easyJet and easyJet holidays as a result.” Several countries imposed a flight ban after the crash, all have now been lifted apart from Russia. ABTAmag.com

It is possible for the aviation sector to be completely fuelled by renewable energy in the future, Sir Richard Branson has said. Speaking at a press conference in Tel Aviv, after a flight which celebrated Virgin Atlantic’s direct route from London, Sir Richard said that he was in talks with various suppliers about powering his fleet with green energy. He said: “We have been working with various different companies; one that takes the waste product from steel and aluminium plants that would otherwise go up the chimney into the air, recycles it and turns it into jet aviation fuel.” The Virgin Group founder didn’t name the company, but he did note that they had been certified for its fuel to account for 50 per cent of power on a Virgin Atlantic Boeing 747, alongside “normal fuel”. “Boeing say they can get up to 90 per cent,” he continued, adding that was “just one example”. And he continued: “In the future we can actually get to a situation where the airline industry is sustainable.” ABTAmag.com



£6m deal for Thomas Cook stores By Alice Snape Sunderland based Hays Travel paid just £6m for Thomas Cook’s network of 555 high street travel agencies in a surprise deal after the firm’s collapse a month ago. They were bought from the government’s Insolvency Service on 8 October. Dean Beale, from the Insolvency Service, commented that this offer “was the best deal on the table”. The stores will be added to Hays’ existing portfolio of 190 bricks-and-mortar stores, with 331 of the 555 stores across the UK already re-opened with Hays branding. The travel company has also offered jobs to around 2,000 ex Thomas Cook employees whose livelihoods were put at risk when the firm failed. By doing this, Hays want to double the headcount of their family business. In a statement, John and Irene Hays, the husband-and-wife team who run Hays, said: “Thomas Cook was a muchloved brand employing talented people. We look forward to working with many of them. Our staff were devastated to hear about Thomas Cook and we all felt we wanted to help.” ABTAmag.com


New shops to open By Alice Snape Fred Olsen Travel has taken over former Freedom Travel Group member, Suffolkbased Framlingham Travel and is planning to open a branch in Hythe, Hampshire, very soon. This will take its repertoire to a total of 15 shops. Framlingham Travel owner and branch manager Michaela Woodburn said: “My world collapsed on September 23, I just could not see a way forward until Fred Olsen came to my rescue. “Within two days I was back in business. I am so happy and very excited to become part of the Fred Olsen family.” The store will be renovated to achieve the “look and feel” of Fred Olsen’s two TravelQuest shops, which are located in Ipswich and Woodbridge; however, it will retain its original name of Framlingham Travel. The other new location in Hythe used to be a Thomas Cook shop; however, it closed more than three months ago, before the company’s closure. Its staff will be made up of three agents from Fred Olsen Travel’s existing Lymington shop. Head of commercial Paul Hardwick said: “The high street is very much alive and kicking in what has been a very difficult year.”


‘Exciting opportunity’ By Alice Snape In the wake of Thomas Cook’s demise, travel operator On the Beach is set to cash in nudging shares higher in early trading. The online travel firm said the collapse of the 178-year-old travel giant, once one of its biggest competitors, created an “unprecedented opportunity” to take additional market share. As a direct result, On The Beach has started to increase its marketing spend to attract new customers across all its channels online and offline. On the Beach commented that it was going to grab this “exciting opportunity”. The company’s shares rose nearly 15 per cent over the days following its competitor failure. Chief executive Simon Cooper said that Thomas Cook’s liquidation has had a “significant impact on the package travel industry.” ABTAmag.com

Chris Thompson, President & CEO of Brand USA Last September, Brand USA held its first ever Travel Week. The event, which brought together suppliers and delegates with a US focus, was a move away from more traditional events, such as WTM or ITB. Held over five days in central London, Travel Week was an attempt to offer US tourism companies better value when dealing with key players. For a country that saw 4.8 million British visitors in 2018, it’s little surprise there is appetite for such an event. Chris Thompson, Brand USA


president & CEO, explains… How did the Brand USA Travel Week come about? When we look at the UK, it is an established and strong market that the United States benefits from enormously. The challenge, but also the great opportunity, is that Brits think they know everything there is to know about the US. Our charge is to promote all 50 states, five territories and the District of Columbia. Traditionally, we’ve

marketed the USA in established ways. Some of those opportunities have become more challenging as they’ve evolved and it became time for us to look at new and different avenues.

November 2019


News November



Increased ABTA Magazine named as Trade Publication of the Year NYC flights By Alice Snape

By ABTA Magazine staff Two Waterfront publications have been recognised at this year’s prestigious Travel Media Awards in London. ABTA Magazine, relaunched by Waterfront in May 2018, won Trade Publication of the Year (Print) in its first year of eligibility. Sue Bryant also won the award for Best Trade Feature for her review of Celebrity Cruises’ innovative Celebrity Edge in Cruise Adviser. Waterfront received eight nominations across four categories. Alongside the winner, ABTA Magazine, Cruise Adviser was nominated in the category of Trade Publication of the Year (Print). The magazines’ websites, ABTAmag.com and cruise-adviser.com, were nominated for Trade Publication of the Year (Online), while Waterfront co-founder Sam Ballard was nominated for Trade Writer of the Year. In the Trade Feature of the Year category, Stuart Forster and Daniel Allen were nominated for features in Waterfront publications Solus and ABTA Magazine, alongside Sue Bryant’s winning entry. Anthony Pearce, director and co-founder of Waterfront Publishing, said: “It’s a great honour to be named Trade Publication of the Year in the print category, particularly as we only relaunched ABTA Magazine 18 months ago. “We set out to create a trade magazine with a difference, so we’re absolutely delighted to be recognised by the judges. I’d like to thank all of our readers and our contributors for making

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it possible. I’d also like to extend a massive congratulations to Sue Bryant for a muchdeserved win for Trade Feature of the Year.” The Travel Media Awards are the most prestigious awards in travel journalism, rewarding editorial quality and excellence across 20 categories. Categories are judged by a combination of travel industry professionals and media peers. The winners of the Travel Media Awards 2019 were announced on October 21 at a ceremony at The Landmark London. More than 300 people were present to see the best of the UK travel media honoured, including representatives of some of the UK’s leading travel media and industry organisations. The evening saw 21 publications, broadcasters, journalists and photographers awarded prestigious trophies, including Hilary Bradt, founder of Bradt Travel Guides, who was presented with the Special Contribution Award. Waterfront Publishing is an independent magazine publisher based in central London. It was launched in 2014 by Sam Ballard and Anthony Pearce. It has two in-house magazines, Cruise Adviser and Solus, both aimed at the travel trade, and also offers contract publishing services. It has produced magazines for Travelzoo; the Cruise Lines International Association, UK and Ireland (Clia); Cruise & Maritime Voyages; The Travel Village and Advantage Travel Partnership; Emerald Waterways and ABTA. See waterfrontpublishing.com for more. ABTAmag.com

Jet2.com and Jet2CityBreaks is increasing its number of flights and packages to New York for winter 2020. The new programme is already on sale and offers 19 four-night trips, up from 16 previously. There’s also a total of 6,000 seats on offer, which is a rise of 22 per cent. The flights will set off from six UK airports, up from five this year, including Birmingham, East Midlands, Glasgow, Leeds Bradford, Manchester and Newcastle. Dubbed shopping flights, they coincide with key holidays, including Thanksgiving on November 26, Black Friday on November 27, and for Christmas shopping on a selection of dates from November 19 until December 18. Jet2CityBreaks has various accommodation offerings from threeto five-star hotels, all located the city’s bustling centre. Steve Heapy, chief executive, said: “Our New York trips have once again proved extremely popular with customers looking to enjoy a break to the Big Apple to celebrate Christmas, Thanksgiving and Black Friday. That is why we have added even more trips from more bases, all timed for our customers to enjoy a festive extravaganza.” ABTAmag.com



Boeing 737 Max may fly again by new year By Alice Snape Boeing has predicted that its 737 Max could return to service by the end of this year. The jet was grounded in March after two fatal crashes; including last year’s Lion Air disaster which killed all 189 passengers and crew flying from Soekarno–Hatta International Airport in Jakarta to Depati Amir Airport in Pangkal Pinang. The second disaster was a flight with Ethiopian Airlines, which crashed shortly after take-off from Addis Ababa, and also killed all 157 people on board. The US manufacturer stated that it is making “steady progress” towards a safe return to service and has developed software

and training updates. The company also said that it “continues to work with the US Federal Aviation Administration and global civil aviation authorities to complete remaining steps toward certification and readiness for return to service”. Tui Airways is the biggest UK operator of the 737 Max and are considering changing the name of the aircraft before it returns to service. Boeing president and CEO Dennis Muilenburg said: “Our top priority remains the safe return to service of the 737 Max. We’ve also taken action to further sharpen our company’s focus on product and services safety, and we continue to deliver on customer commitments and capture new opportunities with our values of safety, quality and integrity always at the forefront.” ABTAmag.com


Cruise is cool By Sam Ballard The number of young people taking a cruise has grown at a rate quicker than any other age group. More than a quarter (28 per cent) of 18-34 year olds took a cruise in the year to July 2019, a six per cent rise. The numbers were published in ABTA’s 2019 Holiday Habits Report, revealed at The Travel Convention in Tokyo (also see p62). Overall, one in ten people took a cruise last year while 14 per cent had one booked. Sixty per cent of respondents said they were interested in taking one, up from 58 per cent. Victoria Bacon, director of brand and business development, said: “The UK cruise industry has seen significant growth with a record number of passengers reaching over two million for the first time last year. “With the continued innovation of the cruise product there has been a noticeable boost in the number of young holidaymakers choosing this type of holiday. Whether it’s making the most of the on-board technology, taking part in adventurebased excursions or experiencing an 80s themed party at sea, there is an incredible range of options for both new and seasoned travellers.”ABTAmag.com

Continued from page 9 We are the only organisation that could do something like this. The strength of us as a destination, the sophistication of our partners and the ability to command the attention of everyone we want to command – on our own – is what started this. Who is present at the event? We’ve got 154 buyers from 120 companies across Europe. There are 179 delegates and 100 suppliers. It’s also heavily vetted. That’s the best part of it. That was critical to the success of the event. We wanted the product managers, the people that influence what goes into


packages. To be able to have that across 20 countries in one spot over five days with an all USA focus. That makes this event so unique. What’s the format? They are here for the one-to-one meetings. But we’ve also got enrichment programmes which everyone has to attend. They focus on how to do business in this market and then we also have keynotes from people like John Herrington, the first Native American astronaut, who has led an amazing life. We are here in the middle of London and we can enjoy being in the city.

November 2019 11

News Events

Out and about Pictures from the latest travel industry events 1. During the ABTA Travel Convention in Tokyo, Avis Budget Group did a charity ride through the city for ABTA Lifeline, which awards financial grants to help colleagues suffering real financial hardship. The charity looked to raise £100,000 for Thomas Cook staff during the Convention. 2. Japanese trio Siro-A, entertain delegates at the Farewell Party. The group found fame on America’s Got Talent in 2015. 3. Waterfront Publishing’s Bryan Johnson joins White Hart Associates for a pre-Convention kick-about in Tokyo. Despite his apparent celebrations, they were beaten by First Data. 4. Mark Tanzer, CEO of ABTA, delivers his opening remarks to the Travel Convention, discussing the recent failure of Thomas Cook. 5. Nikki White, ABTA’s director of destinations & sustainability, joins a panel at the Travel Convention that includes Tony Roberts, vice president Princess Cruise UK and Europe, to discuss how the industry is tackling environmental and sustainability issues.




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6 ABTAmag.com

6. Five agents from Midcounties Co-operative enjoy a five-day fam trip to Jamaica, courtesy of The Travel Foundation and Sandals Resorts’ UK tour operator, Unique Caribbean Holidays Ltd. The five agents selected to attend the fam were those who had generated the highest volume of customer donations to The Travel Foundation in the past 12 months. 7. A group of travel agents and reservations staff at tour operators from across the UK explore Massachusetts, USA. The trip was the result of an incentive fam by Delta Airlines and Virgin Atlantic in partnership with the Massachusetts Office of Travel & Tourism. 8. Agents with Co-operative Travel were treated by Jet2 Holidays to a day of hospitality and excitement at the MBNA Autumn Festival at Chester Racecourse. All agents in attendance were top sellers of Jet2 Holidays’ products. 9. Malaysia Airlines hosts a lunchtime Malaysian Chef Challenge for travel agents at the School of Wok in Covent Garden, providing an engaging introduction to the culture and cuisine and promoting the ‘Visit Malaysia 2020’ campaign. Agents from CTrip, TravelUp, Reed & Mackay, Travelpack, Lee’s Travel Emporium and more joined.


9 ABTAmag.com



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

November 2019 13

Interview Alistair Rowland

Alistair Rowland Chairman of ABTA In a post-Thomas Cook era, Sam Ballard learns how ABTA will be reshaping the industry


hen Alistair Rowland was voted in as the new chairman of ABTA at the end of June, few could have predicted – at least with much certainty – what the following weeks would entail. Rowland, whose day job is chief retail officer for specialist business at The Midcounties Co-operative, replaced Noel Josephides, the chairman of Sunvil Holidays, following his six-year term as chairman. Within a few weeks of taking on the role, Thomas Cook, one of the oldest travel companies in the world, ceased trading. “You don’t take on a role like this thinking that you’re a month away from

14 November 2019

the worst thing that could possibly happen,” Rowland tells ABTA Magazine. “But it will show the true value that ABTA has, especially when it comes to dealing with government and all of the relevant parties. “Right now, we don’t know what is going to happen next. We’re going to see a very different marketplace with different agents and operators. Ultimately, we are going to see more transparency when it comes to cash and more protection when a company fails. The principal still has to carry out the booking, and they’ve not got the data.” The comments mark how rapidly the

travel industry has moved following the closure of Thomas Cook. During the ABTA Convention in Tokyo, John Bevan, the CEO of Dnata B2B Europe, complained that he didn’t get details of customers who booked a Travel 2 or Gold Medal holiday until a week after the closure. Then there are also the details around how much a customer had paid. Rowland continues: “In the future, helped by GDPR, a tour operator will have access to a database and will be able to contact the customer to let them know that their booking is OK, should a business fail. Right


now we’ve got this daft situation where a customer gets repatriated and can claim the money back as well. “When a customer booked through Thomas Cook – and if it wasn’t a Thomas Cook holiday – they thought that the holiday had been cancelled and often tried to book another one, but there was nothing wrong with it. “You’ve got a perfect storm of issues and there will be lots of outcomes as a result.” At the bottom of everything, according to the new ABTA chairman, is a conversation about data – but for that to take place firms needs to redefine their own role – and those of their partners. “If you think about why we’re in this situation [Thomas Cook closure] it’s because an agent is an agent and an operator is an operator. And, an agent won’t give an operator the information because they think they will steal their customer. That’s a bit ‘legacy’ thinking.” For Rowland, customer data needs to be available to a tour operator in case the worst should happen. There also needs to be more relevant information on the ATOL certificate.


The Midcounties boss feels the same way when it comes to how companies handle cash. “If you look at what’s happened, Thomas Cook made a conscious effort to collect more money, earlier, so that they had more cash. Had they not gone bust it would have been paid across [to the tour operator],” he says. The issue, according to Rowland, is that when companies offer discounts – for paying the balance up front for example – that isn’t communicated with the tour operator. The result is that tour operators don’t know who has booked their holiday or how much they have paid. Rowland adds: “That money has now gone but if you’re a tour operator you still need to perform – even with no money on the books. “Ordinarily, the legacy issue is that travel agents are used to collecting the money before paying the tour operator, particularly for the balances. We need to be bigger than spending the customers’ money. “One of the likely outcomes is that there will be some control over the collection of money – whose it is, where

it is and when it’s paid over. I could see, for example, a system where the customer hasn’t paid the agent, or the agent hasn’t paid the tour operator, and the tour operator nullifies the booking.” Regardless of what comes out of the Thomas Cook failure, one thing is clear: there will be ramifications as a result. For Rowland, ABTA will be key in reshaping the industry in a post-Cook landscape. “I’ve been on the board of ABTA for seven years,” he says. “I’ve always been a huge fan of ABTA and what it does, but equally I’ve been frustrated that it doesn’t get the credit for much of what it does, such as the lobbying in Europe. Another area where we need to be much stronger is in education, not only of the socially responsible traveller, but basic knowledge for the industry. “The one reason I put my hand up for this role is that I am a huge fan of ABTA and the work it does – 90 per cent of travel businesses choose to be part of it. They don’t need to, they choose to. In the post-mortem of Thomas Cook, ABTA will be really important in resetting the bar and I will be privileged to be a part of that.” ABTAmag.com

November 2019 15


Adventure in Andalucia


rom intricate Moorish architecture, twirling Flamenco dresses and the running of the bulls to pescaito frito (fried fish) and gazpacho, the region of Andalucia, in southern Spain, is celebrated across the world for its cultural and culinary heritage. Visitors flock to its fascinating and beautiful cities, including its capital Seville, and take in the dramatic countryside views and bask in its reliably excellent weather at the beaches and resorts of Costa del Sol. But there’s much more to Andalucia than that. For those looking for activities and adventure, it’s unbeatable. Here’s why:


Found at the very south of Spain, and only 14km from the northern coast of Africa, Tarifa, in the province of Cádiz,

16 November 2019

offers some of the world’s best kitesurfing and windsurfing. The southernmost point in continental Europe, the area’s wind conditions have made the beaches, such as Valdevaqueros, a mecca for water sports fans. Andalucia has more than 800km of beautiful coastline, both Mediterranean sea and Atlantic ocean, making it popular for all sorts of water sports including water-skiing, jet-skiing, surfing and subaquatic sports – that’s not to mention yachting, snorkelling and diving.


Sotogrande, at the western end of Malaga’s Costa del Sol, is home to some of the world’s best golf courses, including the iconic Valderrama, for many years ranked as the best course in Europe (it

has played host to the Volvo Masters and the Ryder Cup). It may be the region’s best-known course, but there are dozens to choose from, including the Real Club de Golf Sotogrande, which was founded in 1964 and designed by Robert Trent Jones and also ranks among the continent’s best courses – you will find it almost next door to Valderrama. Regular visitors name the Club de Golf La Cañada, Almenara Golf Club and The San Roque Club among their favourites. There are luxurious hotels to match – and more than 10km of beach to explore.


Oasys – also called Mini Hollywood – is a Western-styled theme park, found near the town of Tabernas in the province


of Almería. It was originally known as Yucca City and was designed by Carlo Simi for Sergio Leone’s classic For a Few Dollars More in 1965, after A Fistful of Dollars was filmed in the region. More than 100 other films including The Good, the Bad and the Ugly and The Magnificent Seven were filmed there. Today it lays claim to be the “most original” Mediterranean theme park with live shows, a huge zoological reserve with more than 800 animals of 200 different species, pool areas and more.

be the case. Sierra Nevada, which is one of the highest ski resorts in Europe, is celebrated for its outstanding amenities and fun atmosphere – while it of course benefits from Spanish food. Spain’s highest and most “snow-sure” ski resort, it boasts 120 runs, mostly for beginner and intermediary skiers, with the highest concentration of peaks over 3,000m in the country. Amazingly, there are clear views of the Atlas Mountains in Morocco from the peaks.


Moorish culture exists across Andalucia, not least in its Arabic baths. The most impressive is the Hammam Al Ándalus

Spain is, of course, known for its sun – less so for its snow. But that shouldn’t


in Granada, which reopened in 1998 (five centuries after Catholic monarchs closed them all down), and is housed in a renovated 13th-century building. In the capital, Aire Ancient Baths is found in an opulent 16th-century palace.

There are five main airports in Andalucia (Malaga, Seville, Granada, Jerez and Almeria), plus Gibraltar, which is handy for the Costa de la Luz and Costa del Sol, each of them connected directly to the UK Youtravel offer more than 600 properties in the region ranging from towns to coastal areas covering all budgets and tastes Visit youtravel.com for more offers

November 2019 17


ABTA news

November 2019

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

Highlights of the ABTA Travel Convention 2019

The first Convention in Japan brings together industry professionals to discuss major issues By Sam Ballard ABTA has successfully hosted its first Convention in Japan, with the 2019 Convention in Tokyo. The event brought together 430 industry professionals to discuss major issues including the failure of Thomas Cook, climate change and Brexit. It was held at the Grand Prince Hotel Takanawa. During his opening remarks, Mark Tanzer, the CEO of ABTA, addressed the issue of Thomas Cook’s recent collapse, saying that the closure was a failure of corporate finance, rather than a failure of the travel industry. “Thomas Cook’s financial challenges were no secret,

18 November 2019

but the full extent of their indebtedness has only come to light recently. “Thomas Cook paid £1.2bn in finance charges over the past six years, plus goodness knows how much in advisory fees. Those were profits from its holiday business, money that in a more balanced financial model would have been available to invest and develop the business.” The travel giants closure was discussed in detail during sessions throughout the Convention. John Bevan, the CEO of Dnata, which runs Travel 2 and Gold Medal, described the Atol Certificate as a “joke” – calling for tour operators to have better access to customer data if a company goes bust. He revealed that it had taken a week for Dnata to get details


of the customers who had booked with Thomas Cook, with many trying to rebook. Bevan said that the company would now be changing its terms to insist on being given an email address and phone number for every customer. “Hopefully our travel agent partners will understand that we are a B2B business and have no interest in that data,” he said. The remarks were backed up by Alistair Rowland, the chief retail officer of Midcounties Co-op and recently appointed ABTA chairman, who said that the relationship between tour operators and travel agencies had changed in recent years. During a session on Thomas Cook, Rowland also said that rules over when customers’ cash is collected needed to be made clearer. Many tour operators were not aware of whether a full balance had been collected from customers of Thomas Cook when the company went bust. During a sobering session on climate change, Dr Gabrielle Walker, a climate expert, said that the travel industry needed to act immediately – and not make future pledges – when it came to protecting the environment. She added that it was probably too late for the Great Barrier Reef. Tanzer also referenced climate change in his speech, saying that the government should not tax flying more heavily, but

instead reshape the current tax system to direct funds to “investment in technology”. Responsible travel – and its rise – was covered in a panel discussion that included both cruise line and airline executives. Tony Roberts, of Princess Cruises, highlighted that the cruise industry was moving to LNG powered ships and that more ships were going to plug in to shoreside energy supplies, reducing their carbon footprint. However, he added, the infrastructure has yet to be developed in many destinations. The convention also saw sessions on the future of retail, marketing to millennials and a lesson in handshakes from a behavioural psychologist. Peter Foster, the Europe editor of The Daily Telegraph delivered a speech on Brexit while Marcel Theroux, a novelist and broadcaster, delivered remarks on Japanese etiquette. The theme was expanded on further with Philippe Gas, president and managing director of Walt Disney Japan, who explained how Disney’s global brand had managed to achieve success at a local level. ABTA LifeLine Charitable Trust held an appeal especially for the staff of Thomas Cook. There was a silent auction and raffle. Overall more than £60,000 was raised by the closing party.

2020 Convention heads to Marrakesh

By ABTA Magazine staff ABTA has revealed that Marrakesh will be host to the 2020 Travel Convention. The city, which last hosted a conference in 2005, has been named the first ever African Capital of Culture and is undergoing major investment in time for 2020. The number of Brits travelling to Morocco has increased over the past five years, with more than 630,000 holiday visits to the country last year, up from 460,000 in 2014 – an increase of 30 per cent. Mark Tanzer, ABTA Chief Executive, said: “I’m very pleased that Marrakesh will be hosting the 2020 Travel Convention. It is a city which continues to prove incredibly popular with


UK holidaymakers, providing them with an opportunity to experience a culture steeped in history, as well as enjoying the spectacular scenery, cuisine and hospitality. The Convention will take place from 5-7 October 2020 at Palmeraie Resorts Marrakesh, 20 minutes from Marrakesh’s city centre. All delegates will stay at the 5-star Palmeraie Palace Hotel. M. Adel EL Fakir, CEO of the Moroccan National Tourist Office said: “We are very proud to host ABTA’s Travel Convention in Marrakesh in 2020 for the second time! “Marrakesh is hosting the IGTM next week, and the UNWTO in 2021. In the middle of these two events, Marrakesh and Morocco are thrilled to host another prestigious event: The 2020 Travel Convention, organised by ABTA.”

November 2019 19

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

I’m very keen on giving more opportunities to young people without experience of travel to get into the industry, is there any help or advice you could give me?

It’s great that you’re looking to give someone a start in the travel industry. Apprenticeships are one of the best ways to do this and there is a lot of help out there so that you can do this successfully. At ABTA we work closely with several universities and colleges to help build links with our Members. We also actively promote apprenticeships as a route into the industry, as a method of addressing skills shortages. Apprenticeships make good business sense in terms of productivity, investing in future talent and staff retention. They give companies the chance to train and develop staff, while also ensuring they are getting on-the-job experience. Research from the National Apprenticeship Service indicates that 80% of companies that invest in apprentices report an increase in staff retention. ABTA’s Education Partners offer apprenticeships, including up to degree level. Working with a Partner University, offering a degree apprenticeship is a great way for existing staff to gain new skills too or offer a structured degree career pathway to existing and new staff. Several of ABTA’s university Education Partners offer these opportunities. Both levy and non-levy payers can apply for funding for all apprenticeships on offer and the government website will provide information on how you can access funding. ABTA worked closely on developing the Travel Consultant Apprenticeship and apprentices have started graduating from the programme and entering their careers as fully trained travel consultants. The new Travel Consultant Apprenticeship covers both leisure and business travel. The apprenticeship lasts from 12-24 months depending on previous qualifications and is contracted with an employer who will give the required on-the-job training. Along with our college Partners, Damar Training and TrainingStation can help you to develop your apprenticeship and, in some cases, assist you in finding the apprentice. All their details can be found on abta.com in the Education Hub. The government also has useful information at apprenticeships.gov.uk. A new technical qualification will be launched in September 2020 called T Levels that will attract UCAS points enabling entry to university. T Levels require students to spend at least 45 hours of their qualification on placement in industry. This time can be split between two organisations if a business cannot commit to the full 45. At this point the date for the Travel T Level has not been finalised. However, we know our Members have skills requirements in many areas of their businesses, so there may be other T Levels where you can offer placements. The more the travel industry engages with young people, the more attractive the travel industry will become as a career of choice. For more information on T Levels and how you can get involved, go to tlevels.gov.uk. Vicki Wolf ABTA education manager

Got a question? Email: info@ABTAmag.com 20 November 2019


ABTA comment The end of a travel business, not the end of the package holiday


wo months ago the industry was rocked by the failure of Thomas Cook – a founder member of ABTA, a household name and one the world’s best-known travel brands. The fall out was and continues to be severe, with thousands of holidaymakers requiring repatriation from overseas and up to a million customers with package holidays cancelled, all of which were covered by either ATOL or ABTA. The industry has also rallied round offering support and job opportunities to the thousands of Thomas Cook staff who are so suddenly and sadly without work. Thomas Cook’s financial problems are well documented, largely relating to a mountain of debt. However, some sections of the media decided that its failure had been caused by an outmoded business model, based on an old-fashioned holiday offer: the package. This line of thinking was further fed by some opportunistic comments from industry competitors claiming that fewer people are taking packages and that no one under 40 does. But is there any truth in these claims and assertions? Let’s take a look. Is it true that the number of people taking package holidays is in decline? No. In 2018 official government statistics showed that 18.2m took an overseas package holiday. This has steadily risen in recent years, up from 15.9m in 2014. This is not far off the all-time record for package holidays which came in 2006, just before the credit crunch, which radically reduced demand across the board for all types of holidays. Packages now make up around 40 per cent of all UK residents’ overseas holidays and their market share is growing. ABTA’s own most recent market research, published in its 2019 Holiday Habits Report, shows that more than half of people took an overseas package in the year to July 2019. The statistics are conclusive – in


terms of sheer numbers the package holiday is in rude health. Is the package an old-fashioned product, struggling against more nimble, modern competitors? There is undeniably a slightly snobbish preconception among some about the package – usually seen along the lines of two weeks in a slightly shabby highrise hotel somewhere in the Western Med. Although the cheap and cheerful ‘flop and drop’ package still exists and is still popular, the modern package now also offers a vast range of holiday options and experiences, with the customer very much in the driving seat in terms of choice, flexibility and price-point. Packages can provide all of the benefits of independent arrangements, plus customer protection and support. Do only “oldies” take package holidays? ABTA’s research found that the age group most likely to take a package holiday are 18-24 year olds. Families and holidaymakers up to the age of 44 are also very keen. And the age groups least likely to take a package? The over 45s. All in all a resounding rebuttal of the pretty vocal critics of the package.

Victoria Bacon

ABTA director of brand and business development

November November 2019 21

ABTA Campaigns

ABTA campaigns Making Holidays Greener campaign By ABTA Magazine staff An estimated 3,834 tonnes of waste – including food and plastic – has been reduced, reused, recycled or removed from the environment this year, as a result of the Make Holidays Greener (MHG) 2019 campaign. This is the equivalent weight of the number of plastic bottles needed to stretch more than three quarters of the way around the earth, if laid end to end. ABTA, in partnership with Travelife for Accommodation, launched the annual MHG campaign in June to encourage holidaymakers and the industry to create better places to live in and visit. This year’s theme was ‘Reduce, Reuse and Recycle’. A total of 120 ABTA Member and travel businesses, from tour operators to hotels, participated in the campaign – up from 75 last year – running projects such as reducing food waste in hotels, setting up a holiday clothes swap and providing people with water bottles that filter as they refill to avoid using single-use plastic bottles. More than 6,500 staff and holidaymakers participated too, with many taking part in 119 clean-up activities worldwide. These activities have been organised by businesses for their staff and customers to help keep

local beaches, neighbourhoods and parks clean and limit the impact of waste. Some of the sustainable holiday pledges include: respect animals, eat local produce and go meat free. Nikki White, director of destinations and sustainability said: “It’s fantastic to see the range of initiatives that have taken place over the past 12 months. ABTA Members are reminded that support is available year round if they would like to continue their initiatives beyond this year’s campaign.” ABTA.com

Brexit won’t stop travel says ABTA By ABTA Magazine staff During September, ABTA ran a number of advertising campaigns on Facebook and digital radio adverts on Classic FM and Heart FM to increase traffic to the Brexit advice page at abta.com/brexit and encourage travel bookings within Europe – even in the event of a no-deal Brexit. The Facebook campaign reached 883,314 people and achieved 1,911,088 impressions. The radio adverts had a significant impact with a total off 11 million individual listens throughout the course of the broadcasts.

22 November 2019

In addition, to support Members businesses over the October half term, ABTA commissioned a blog post from influencer Honest Mum (honestmum. com) on “Why she’s going away at October Half Term with an ABTA Member”. ABTA also issued a press release on why you should travel in October, which featured in the Daily Mirror. ABTA’s Victoria Bacon said: “Lower prices, uncrowded beaches, restaurants and attractions, make October a very enjoyable and sensible choice for clued-up holidaymakers”. ABTA.com


Events 15 November, London Mental Health and Wellbeing in the Workplace Explore the challenges facing workforces and learn how to raise awareness, improve the wellbeing of employees, support better mental health and increase staff retention through positive initiatives.

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

19 November, London

21 November, London

25 November, London

Adventure Travel Conference Explore one of the travel industry’s fastest growing sectors at ABTA’s new conference. Learn how to effectively tailor your branding, marketing and sales to understand, inspire and connect with adventure travellers and the growing demand for experiential travel.

Advanced Social Media in Travel For those who already have a good understanding of social media platforms, this will provide fresh approaches to revamp your current social media strategy and discussions on how valuable social influencers can be to your brand.

Travel Trends 2020 Join ABTA for the exclusive launch of its Travel Trends 2020 report including the 12 Destinations to Watch. Hear from ABTA about the key travel trends, market outlook and industry prospects.

4 December, London

10 December, London

29 January, London

A Practical Guide to Arbitration and Conciliation This workshop provides a guide to ABTA’s Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) processes. Arbitration and conciliation provide a more cost effective and less formal alternative to court.

Sales Training for Travel Attendees will benefit from a full day of training, including a recap on sales strategies, typical customer journeys and practical sessions on handling enquiries, converting leads and closing sales through web, email, social and phone.

Apprenticeships in the Travel Industry Learn how to invest in apprenticeships to future-proof workforces in companies, big or small. There will be information on apprenticeship funding, potential changes to the levy and the impact of Brexit.


November 2019 23

Business travel Frequent New business flyer programmes class seats

The frequent flyer shake-up Business Travel Report Many carriers are exchanging miles for points and other incentives as the issues around flying – and the sharing of data – become more sensitive


n an age when loyalty is harder than ever for companies to earn and maintain, a number of major airlines are overhauling their frequent flyer schemes to revitalise their relationship with their customers (and make them more money). Since American Airlines launched one of the world’s first airline loyalty schemes in 1981, it has gradually become harder to earn miles (many carriers have switched to giving points in relation to ticket price rather than distance flown). It has also become more challenging to redeem them as planes fly fuller – management consulting company McKinsey estimates that 30 trillion miles are sitting unspent in travellers’ accounts. In the summer, Australian flag carrier Qantas announced sweeping changes to its Frequent Flyer programme, some of which benefit members and some of which benefit the airline. Although the price of redeeming points on upgrades has increased by up to nine per cent, and seats in premium cabins cost up to 15 per cent more, there are more reward seats (in excess of one million a year) to more

24 November 2019

destinations. The AU$20 million (£11 million) revamp also includes Lifetime Platinum status, and a new Points Club scheme that allows people to earn on non-airline purchase such as Uber rides. Carrier charges are being slashed, too, saving passengers about A$200 (£109) per return journey on average. Qantas Group CEO Alan Joyce said in a statement: “While the points required for business class seats on international and domestic flights will increase slightly, it is the first increase in 15 years and the product has improved a lot in that time.” Qantas Loyalty CEO Olivia Wirth added: “While frequent travellers have always been at the centre of what we do, the growth of our program and its hundreds of partners has provided opportunities for many members to now earn most of their points on the ground.” What other changes have airlines been making? In September, United introduced a new PlusPoints upgrade currency for elite MileagePlus members in its two top tiers (Premier Platinum and 1K). Taking effect in December, it will replace the more complex

by Jenny Southan, business travel editor


Regional Premier Upgrade and Global Premier Upgrade certificates with the granting of a bank of points to customers (320 for 1K, for example) who then get to buy upgrades for a fixed amount (for example, 30 points for a premium economy to business upgrade on a long-haul flight). Luc Bondar, United’s vice-president of loyalty and the head of MileagePlus, said: “The new PlusPoints programme increases the overall number of upgrade opportunities for top tier Premier members, expands the fare classes where they can be used, and lets members request upgrades on multiple flights all at once.” In the summer, the airline also said it was scrapping expiration dates on points, which previously became unusable after 18 months. However, on November 15, United is removing pricing charts for award seats, which list fixed rates of redemption for award seats (such as 30,000 miles for an economy flight from Europe to the US), instead switching to a “dynamic” model whereby the cost of seats changes throughout the year according to demand. Lufthansa became the first major European airline to do the same thing in the spring with its Miles & More scheme, suggesting that this will be an approach many other airlines will be taking in years to come. To increase the opportunities for earning (and thus build loyalty), airlines

ABTA event Navigating Change in Business Travel November 27, London

The headlines Record number of hotel rooms to open in London in 2020

According to data from London and Partners, a record number of hotel rooms will open in the capital next year. Spread across 65 properties, there will be an additional 7,995 rooms, rising from 3,222 in 2010. Forthcoming openings include The Londoner on Leicester Square and the Pan Pacific London near Liverpool Street.

Beijing Daxing International Airport begins operations

The largest transport hub in the world, China’s single-terminal Beijing Daxing International Airport, began operations on September 25, with the expectation that it will have 45 million passengers a year passing through by 2022. British Airways began daily services to the airport from London Heathrow on October 27.

Gatwick partners with Vodafone to offer 5G to travellers

Gatwick airport has partnered with Vodafone to launch a new 5G mobile service at its South Terminal. Next year, the “high-speed, high capacity fibre optic network” will also come to the North Terminal, enabling “instant communications”.

W Hotel to open in Toronto next year Marriott International will be turning Toronto’s former Marriott Bloor Yorkville hotel into a W in summer 2020, with 255 rooms, a rooftop restaurant, and an indoor/outdoor lobby bar and lounge with a DJ booth for podcast recording as part of a US$40 million transformation.

Singapore Airlines serves healthy food from Como Shambhala

In collaboration with wellness resort brand Como Shambhala, Singapore Airlines has started offering a new healthy in-flight menu for first, business and premium economy passengers. The meals will be available on select flights from Singapore to London, Frankfurt, Melbourne, Perth, Sydney and Hong Kong.


November 2019 25

New business flyer programmes class seats Business travel Frequent

are also partnering with hotels to enable reciprocal earning and burning benefits. American Airlines has joined up with Hyatt (although only those with elite status can take advantage), Air France-KLM has teamed up with Accor (free to anyone), and then Emirates and Marriott launched Your World Rewards, allowing members to earn Skywards Miles on hotel stays and Marriott Bonvoy points on flights. (Emirates Skywards Silver, Gold and Platinum tier members will earn one Skywards Mile for every US dollar or equivalent spent on top of points when staying at participating Marriott Bonvoy hotels.) Although some of this is good news for the customer, the industry needs to wise up to the backlash against the use of people’s data. With documentaries such as The Great Hack on Netflix, which examines the Facebook-Cambridge Analytica scandal, the public is more savvy and mistrustful than ever about how their online presence is being monetised. There have also been a number of data breaches that have shaken consumer confidence – last year, up to 600,000

British Airways customers had their names, addresses, emails and card payment details compromised in a cyber attack. And a Marriott hack in 2018 exposed the passport information of more than five million people dating back to 2014. With 77 per cent of Brits a member of at least one loyalty scheme, according to a 2019 poll of 275,000 people by YouGov and partnerships and rewards agency Mando-Connect, data protection is vital. Rod Sims, chairman of consumer watchdog the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, recently said: “Consumers may be shocked to find that some schemes collect their data even when they don’t scan their loyalty cards, or that they combine it with data from other sources that they might not even be aware of. Most people think they are being rewarded for their loyalty with discounts or points, but in reality some schemes are building up detailed profiles about consumers and selling those insights to other businesses.” Loyalty, it’s fair to say, works both ways – and companies must keep innovating to keep their customers coming back.

Pictured: Air France-KLM has teamed up with Accor. Previous page: Qantas’s LAX First Class Lounge and Business Lounge

New digital banks As the next decade approaches, a host of new digital, mobile-only financial platforms have sprung up to replace traditional ways of banking, making it easier to manage and spend via well-designed apps and almost always without any foreign transaction fees. 1. Anna: Designed for creatives and entrepreneurs, Anna’s business account has an in-built AI assistant that does your admin for £11 a month. 2. Doconomy: Banking “with a conscience”, Doconomy analyses your spending to highlight and compensate for your CO2 footprint. 3. Dozens: Dozens offers a free UK current account with saving and budgeting tools. 4. N26: This current account uses AI to display your spending visually and charges no fees on overseas payments. 5. Monzo: Monzo’s business account lets you to put money aside in pots – for tax, for example – as well as receive instant notifications on purchases. 6. Revolut: Use Revolut’s global business current account to make bulk payments and manage team funds with pre-paid corporate cards. 7. Starling: This bank charges no monthly fees, can be set-up in minutes and organises outgoings according to category. 8. Tide: Tide business accounts allow you to create and pay invoices with a single tap and make cash deposits at the Post Office for £1.

26 November 2019

ABTAmag.com ABTAmag.com

City Guide:


A history buff’s dream location, Greece’s ‘arts city’ is home to breathtaking ancient architecture, incredible food and a thriving cultural scene


ound in the north of Greece, 520km above Athens, Thessaloniki is the country’s second largest city – a modern metropolis with a remarkable history and incredible food scene. The city, which is connected by direct flights from London, has an abundance of worldclass architectural wonders, among them 15 Unesco World Heritage Sites. Here’s why it is the perfect city break.

Ancient sites

Blessed with incredible archaeological sites, Thessaloniki is a history buff’s dream. Its ancient forum (Agora), constructed by the Romans, dates back to the late 2nd or the early 3rd century AD, and is perhaps the blockbuster site. Visitors will discover squares, porticoes, additional buildings and the odeum (293-395 AD), the palace complex of Roman emperor Galerius Maximianus, the thermae, hippodrome, temples and other monuments and moveable finds (among them mosaics of exquisite art), brought to light in excavations and surveys. In the south square is the famous Stoa of the Idols, which was two-storeyed and lavishly decorated.


Nearby, you will find the triumphal Arch of Galerius (also known as Kamara), also built under the Roman Empire, where as The Rotunda, which is a stone’s throw away, is an early 4th century building, which was later converted into a Christian church.

Architectural delights

The Old City (or Ano Poli or Upper Town), a district by turns quiet and lively, youthful and classic, is dominated by the Eptapyrgio, the Byzantine and Ottoman fortress that overlooks the city. The historic area boasts an old-time charm with its mansions, stonepaved alleys and breathtaking views over the city. Ano Poli is home to Paleochristian and Byzantine monuments and churches listed as UNESCO World Heritage Sites, such as the 5th century Church of Osios David and the 14th century Vlatadon Monastery with its peaceful gardens. The historical quarter of the Ladadika used to be the central market and bazaar and now boasts some of the city’s best shopping, tavernas and bars. A favourite among visitors and the city’s student population, the area will give you a taste of true Thessalonian entertainment.

The city is also home to traditional markets – the Modiano, which is housed in a rectangular building built in 1922, with pedimented facade and glass roof, is perhaps the most impressive of all. You can walk along the streets and alleys of the city and see the imposing monuments of the Byzantine Period and visit churches of outstanding architecture, such as Panagia (Virgin Mary) Acheiropoietos and Agios Dimitrios, which form an intrinsic part of Thessaloniki’s urban structure. Landmarks defining each neighbourhood add to the city’s special character.

Cultural centre

In November, Thessaloniki – sometimes called the ‘arts city’ – becomes the centre of international filmmaking when Greek and foreign artists arrive in great numbers. The Thessaloniki International Film Festival, which was established in 1969, is the centre of Greek film production. Each year, a special tribute is made to an outstanding film director, while locals, students and visitors flood in. See visitgreece.gr

November 2019 27










23 Years Running





Your clients will discover suites inspired by an incomparable passion for romance. Where reconnecting and celebrating life’s pleasures are tailor-made for stolen moments and endless possibilities. Where 5-Star Luxury Included™ accommodations are more connected to the sea. More open to the sky. More breathtaking inside and out. Here, along the Caribbean’s most beautiful beaches, the world is to be savoured…perhaps through restaurants as authentic in ambience as the tantalizing 5-Star Global Gourmet™ cuisine artfully arranged on the plates…or through the exhilaration of indulging in every land and water sport under the sun. In a place known for ground-breaking innovations and all-inclusive luxury, every detail is perfectly designed for two people in love.


Spotlight on Sandals

Spotlight on

Sandals Sandals offer so much more than luxury on their all-inclusive holidays, managing director Karl Thompson tells Sam Ballard


icture paradise and it probably looks like a Caribbean beach. Miles of perfect sand, palm trees swaying in the wind and cocktail in hand. What more could you ask for? Add an all-inclusive resort into the mix – offering stability regardless of a fluctuating pound – and you begin to see why Sandals Resorts have such enduring popularity. “With lots of uncertainty looming around Brexit in the UK, most people now want to make sure they are protecting their money and are getting the best value when they are spending,” Karl Thompson, managing director of Sandals, tells ABTA Magazine. The company, which was founded in 1981, has become synonymous with luxury Caribbean holidays in beautiful resorts. It’s a proven formula, with repeat bookings at 40 per cent. But, in an environment where consumers want to know more about a destination and, if possible, do good while they’re there, how has Sandals developed over the last four decades? Thompson explains: “All-inclusive

30 November 2019

holidays have changed dramatically over the years. At one time people just wanted to fly and flop next to the beach or the pool, whereas now guests are looking for unique experiences and want to see more of the destination that they are visiting, as well as showing an increased interest in wellbeing and voluntourism holidays. “Through our excursion company, Island Routes Adventure Tours, guests can book a range of different adventure experiences such as driving their own Mini Cooper through the jungle in Jamaica or sailing their own speed boat in convoy around the coastline of St Lucia. “Lots of guests also want to give something back to the local community, so programmes like our Reading Road Trip – a group visit a local school to help children with their reading and writing skills in partnership with the Sandals Foundation – are extremely popular.” The community angle perhaps isn’t the first thing that comes to mind with an all-inclusive resort. However, Thompson points to the fact that the Sandals

Foundation, the company’s charity, is now 10 years old – having been set up by deputy chairman, Adam Stewart – and has donated millions in aid to the region. “Over the last decade, the Sandals Foundation has funded projects in areas including health, community, conservation and education,” Thompson adds. “To date, the Foundation has supported projects valued at more than $58 million, which have impacted 850,000 people across the Caribbean region. “The launch of the Women Helping Others Achieve programme in 2016 has been a key part of the Foundation’s work, covering a wide range of programmes designed to empower Caribbean women through a mix of education and mentoring support. The Foundation has assisted in the running of two women’s centres in Jamaica to provide support for young and vulnerable mothers and pregnant teenagers, as well as one in The Bahamas. GrenCrop in Grenada is another scheme which teaches female farmers to become more self-sufficient, teaching


Pictured: Left: Sandals Royal Barbados. Below: managing director Karl Thompson


them key skills like customer service and accountancy as well as practical and physical skills.” The work that the company does extends to environmentalism, too: all resorts are accredited by EarthCheck, the green tourism body. Eight Sandals resorts have achieved Master status while others have Platinum, Gold or Silver. The Sandals Foundation is also helping to fund two coral reef nurseries in St Lucia, where 2,000 new corals have been bred to replace damaged reefs. All of these initiatives help deliver the company’s agency sales team deliver a strong message. The company recently hired two new business development managers in the north of England – taking the team to 11 – and has homeworkers taking calls until 11pm every night. “We invest a lot in training agents to ensure they understand the Sandals and Beaches products to help sell them to clients,” Thompson explains. “We deliver regular, in-depth face-to-face Sandals and Beaches training masterclasses, provide

marketing resources and host agent fam trips. Our Selling Sandals Facebook page is used to promote offers and trade incentives, encourage bookings and share new product updates. We work hard to enhance our systems for agents – we’ve relaunched our booking portal and added new functionalities like a flight price availability calendar. We also have out-ofsystem-range flights so agents can now sell Sandals and Beaches Resorts packages up to August 2021.” With April 2019 closing the second year of operation for Unique Caribbean Holidays Ltd – the company’s relatively new inhouse tour operator – Thompson reveals that numbers are strong, with 27,500 passengers booked via all channels. “We are about to enter into our third year as our own tour operation and we’re delighted with how business is continuing to grow, with trade business 15 per cent up,” he says. “We operate a fantastic rewards programme for agents, which is one of the best in the industry. This includes Sell & Go nights, where agents can earn free nights at our resorts for every single booking made, regardless of room category (one night for Luxury room bookings, two nights per Club room booking and three nights per Butler room booking). “We also have the ‘Chairman’s Royal Club’ for top selling agents, which celebrates agents who sell more than 100 rooms per year. Members receive extra benefits including getting their Sell & Go holiday requests processed up to one year in advance, the chance to use their Sell & Go nights to add an extra room for immediate family if they are travelling at the same time and Island Routes excursion credits to use in resort.” That commitment to the trade is boosted by strong product enhancements – the flagship Sandals Montego Bay Resort in Jamaica has just undergone a multimillion-dollar renovation project that includes three new restaurants, a new overthe-water bar and a new over-the-water wedding chapel seating 40 guests. A similar chapel has been opened at Sandals Ochi Beach Resort in Jamaica, which seats 56. Given that “romantic” business – weddings, honeymoons, renewals, anniversaries – accounts for 30-40 per cent of UK business, puts it in good stead in a market that could potentially become more turbulent as Brexit develops. It seems that for many of us, paradise is indeed a Sandals resort. ABTAmag.com

November 2019 31

UK holidays Welsh Coastal Path

UK holidays

Welsh Coastal Path

With deserted beaches, ancient woodland and local pubs, Sam Ballard takes a stroll along one of the most beautiful shorelines in the world


rom Conwy to the Llŷn Peninsula, the Welsh coast is one of the most breathtaking shorelines in the world. Walk a few miles and you can stumble upon deserted beaches, ancient woodland and finish up with a rewarding pint in a pretty harbour town. It is a coastline that surprises and delights in equal measure. Wales was the first country in the world to build a pathway around its entire coastline which, given that it measures about 870 miles, is no mean feat. While few people have the time to walk the entire Coastal Path, the network of officers who look after different sections have put together smaller itineraries which are much more achievable. Three days in length, they can be completed over a leisurely long weekend – and pick up on some of the highlights that the Welsh coast has to offer for those who don’t have weeks on end to amble around the full 870-mile route. The shorter walks include itineraries from Ceredigion, with a walk from Borth to Aberaeron, with suggested stops in Aberystwyth and Llanrhystud (a much more manageable 23 miles), to a North Wales route, where the guides have suggested walking from Rhyl to Conwy. This includes stops in beautiful Colwyn Bay and Llandudno. It brings in traditional sea

32 November 2019

side towns, limestone crags and medieval castles – all across 25 miles. Pembrokeshire, in the southeast corner of Wales, is one of the country’s prettiest spots. The three-day programme starts in Manorbier and finishes up in Pendine, with a stay in the fishing town of Tenby as one of the highlights. The coastline is rugged with the pathway hard going at times – if you’re doing this route, pack walking shoes. Other routes are more child friendly. Between Manorbier and Tenby, walkers will find themselves high on clifftops, looking far out to sea, before turning back into

the deep forest. It takes ramblers past tiny beaches and sheltered coves where children – and adults – skim stones and sit by the water. It can be hard to discern if you are actually on the Wales Coastal Path at times – with markings few and far between in places. However, there is a website and you can download an app to make the whole thing a little bit more interactive. It’s also useful if you happen to get lost… Tenby is postcard pretty. Fishing boats bob around the harbour, which is surrounded by an ancient stone wall – and ringed by multicoloured Georgian


townhouses. When the tide goes out, the ships are left moored on the seabed for the evening. Spend a night here if you can. You’ll find cosy pubs, restaurants selling fresh seafood and a few antique shops dotted around, too. There’s even an arts festival in late September where you can find everything from ukulele choirs on street corners to shops competing in window dressing competitions. The Buccaneer Inn serves up great pub food, and has a couple of the local Harbwr Tenby Harbour Brewery beers on tap, making it the perfect place to sample local life. Another great pub is The Crown Inn – a more rough and ready boozer which

often has musicians performing on an evening, it’s never long before the whole pub is singing along. Tenby Castle Beach is one of the jewels of Pembrokeshire. St Catherine’s Island, topped by a Napoleonic Fort, sits half submerged in the sea – and becomes a island proper during high tide. It offers a dramatic backdrop to a beach that wouldn’t look out of place in the Caribbean. Further up the coast is Saundersfoot. While not as pretty as Tenby, you’ll discover a classic seaside town – rather than a quaint fishing harbour. That being said, it definitely has its charm. There are an abundance of fish and chip shops,

independent boutiques and decent pubs to choose from. Perfect for those who have just scaled the hilly terrain to get from Tenby. From here, you push on to Amroth – where you will discover 200-year-old tramway tunnels – and then on to Pendine, in Carmarthenshire. With little like the Wales Coastal Path existing anywhere else in the world, we’re lucky to have it here in the UK. These new three-day itineraries now make walking the route – or at least part of it – more accessible, and far less daunting. There are fewer better ways to spend a long weekend. ABTAmag.com

Where to stay: Trefloyne Manor Tucked away a couple of miles outside of Tenby, Trefloyne Manor is the perfect spot to begin a day’s walking along the Wales Coastal Path. The service is homely and professional, making any wanderer feel welcome, while breakfasts will help the most tired soul feel rejuvenated – bountiful and sourced locally. The sausages in particular are a triumph – and, if you time it right, fresh croissants arrive piping hot, seemingly brought straight from the oven. The hotel boasts an 18-hole golf course and many visitors are there to spoil a good walk – in the words of Mark Twain – rather than embark on one. However, with the golf course comes the Dovecote Naturally spa, for those


who would rather spend their day being pampered than putting. If you’re eating in the restaurant at night, try the ribeye steak, which is sourced from Preseli Bluestone in Carmarthen, just down the road. It’s mouthwateringly good. The rooms are large and comfortable with many coming with a free-standing bath. There’s even a self-catering apartment that handles up to six guests for those travelling in bigger groups. Go to Trefloyne and enjoy the spectacular views of Pembrokeshire. Enjoy a round of golf or simply use it as a launchpad as you walk the incredible Wales Coastal Path. trefloyne.com

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Timetable Changes 15 December 2019

Timetable changes are coming. From 15 December 2019, we’re making significant changes to the timetable to improve our overall service. This could affect your everyday journey. Please check all your journeys before you travel.

Get ready for the changes, check your journey and print your own timetable at GWR.com/Timetable2019 or follow us @GWRHelp


Macallan distillery wins architecture prize


Belfast to host VisitBritain By Alice Snape

By Alice Snape The Macallan Distillery and Visitor Experience in Moray has won the RIAS Andrew Doolan Best Building in Scotland Award, one of the most coveted prizes in architecture. The distillery complex, which cost £140 million to build, was designed by Londonbased Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners . The award was presented at the National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh by the

Scottish communities and local government secretary, Aileen Campbell, who described the distillery as “an outstanding add ition to our built environment”. The judges’ statement said: “The attention to detail and the consistency and control of aesthetic decisions in this building is incredibly impressive.” The architectural feat also made it onto the shortlist for the widely-respected RIBA Stirling Prize 2019. ABTAmag.com

VisitBritain has announced that its largest annual travel trade event will be held in Northern Ireland in 2020. Belfast will play host to the ‘Explore Great Britain (GB) and Northern Ireland’ event on May 18-20. More than 50 of the world’s top travel influencers and tourism industry leaders will gather for the two-day summit, which will focus on travel marketing, attracting hundreds of international buyers from across the UK. Previous destinations to host the event, since the first in 2014, include Harrogate, Brighton, Liverpool and Ascot. Tourism Northern Ireland chief executive John McGrillen said: “Winning this prestigious bid to host VisitBritain’s premier travel trade event presents a huge opportunity for Northern Ireland and we are proud that Belfast was selected from a competitive list of cities.” Emma Mead, head of global PR for VisitBritain, said: “We are looking forward to shining the spotlight on the UK’s vibrant cities, breathtaking countryside, innovative food and drink scene and rich cultural heritage, to inspire influencers to share their stories globally and get more overseas visitors booking a trip to the UK.” ABTAmag.com

‘Iceberg’ hotel to open in Leicester Square By Alice Snape London’s first ‘iceberg’ hotel will open next summer in London’s Leicester Square. The price tag will be at least £500 per night – with the biggest 2,200 sq ft penthouse suite costing £10,000. The USP? More of the hotel will be situated underneath ground than above it. Once erected, the building will be 30 metres tall from pavement to roof, then 32 metres deep from the ground to the basement level – that’s 51 per cent of the


building beneath the streets. Luxury hotel and hospitality brand, Edwardian Hotels – which already counts the May Fair and Radisson Blue Edwardian among its London hotel portfolio – is behind the build, which is set to cost £300 million. With space in the capital at a premium, there’s a growing need to create subterranean spaces. Iype Abraham, commercial development director said the company had to dig so far down due to restrictions on the height of new buildings overlooking the historic

National Gallery. “We wanted to create a boutique hotel that was grand in size but boutique in experiences and that meant we had to include various guest offerings. There was only one way to do that and that was to go down,” he commented. Bedrooms will be above ground, and the underground levels will be home to a ballroom, swimming pool, spa, gym, nail salon and more. The company has got a £175m ‘green loan’ from HSBC so the hotel will also be one of the most environmentally friendly in London. ABTAmag.com

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UK holidays Theatre & Hotels



Kinky Boots October 28-November 9 With songs by Grammy-winning pop icon Cyndi Lauper, Kinky Boots takes you from the factory floor to the glamorous catwalks of Milan. Playing at Milton Keynes Theatre, the show is written by four-times Tony winner Harver Fierstein, and based on the 2005 film by Geoff Deane and Tim Firth. Audiences can witness the story of Charlie Price struggling to live up to his father’s expectations and continue the family business, Price and Son. “Freshest, most fabulous, feel-good musical of the decade,” says The Hollywood News.


Cinderella November 19-23 Ideal viewing in the run-up to Christmas, Northern Ballet’s beautiful reimagining of Cinderella comes to Nottingham Theatre Royal. In this adaptation of the classic rags-to-riches tale, Cinders is whisked away from her wicked stepmother to the gleaming lake of ice where she first meets her Prince Charming. An updated score by Philip Feeney provides the backdrop to a modern take on the choreography by David Nixon. The Telegraph described it as ‘A dazzling production.’


& Juliet Until March 2020 What would happen if the final scene of Romeo & Juliet had turned out differently? Would Juliet have killed herself? Would her and Romeo have got married and lived happily ever after? & Juliet is a brand new West End musical that puts the Shakespearean female character in the centre of her own story. The musical features pop songs written by Max Martin – who wrote classics for the likes of Britney Spears, Katy Perry, The Weeknd and Backstreet Boys. It’s playing at the Shaftesbury Theatre.



This ground-breaking touring exhibition is a comprehensive history of British tattooing and will be on display at Time and Tide Museum until March 8 2020. Challenging pre-conceptions and celebrating tattooing’s rich artistic heritage, it features the largest gathering of real objects and tattoo artwork ever assembled in the UK. There’s photographs, historic artefacts from as far back as when Captain Cook brought the word ‘tattoo’ to the west and more than 400 original artworks –including 100 silicone arms decorated by the UK’s best tattooists.

36 November 2019


Opening November 20 at Tate Modern, this is the first ever UK retrospective of the work of Dora Maar (1907–97) whose photographs and photomontages became celebrated icons of surrealism. The exhibition features over 200 works from a career spanning six decades, and shows her eye for the unusual in the medium of commercial commissions, social documentary photographs and paintings. She met Pablo Picasso in 1935 when she became his main mistress and also his muse. Their relationship of around eight years had a profound effect on both their careers.


Ian McKellen On Stage Until January 5 2020 To celebrate his 80th Birthday, Sir Ian McKellen is bringing his one-man show, to the West End’s Harold Pinter Theatre, following a tour of the UK visiting venues that have had a part to play in his career. From performances in Shakespeare, Checkov and Beckett, to playing Gandalf, Magneto and Mel Hutchwright, this unique show is full of personal anecdotes and gives the audience the chance to ask questions and interact with the legendary actor and activist himself. Proceeds will be donated to thespian charities.


Priscilla Queen of the Desert November 25-30 Touring the UK with a run at Palace Theatre Manchester, this iconic musical stars Strictly Come Dancing winner Joe McFadden. Based on the Oscar-winning film, Priscilla is the adventure of three friends who board an old bus bound for the Outback to put on the show of a lifetime. Their epic journey is a heart-warming story of self-discovery and acceptance. There’s a glittering array of costumes, fabulous feathers and a non-stop parade of dancefloor classics including It’s Raining Men, I Will Survive and I Love The Nightlife.

Untitled (Hand-Shell) 1934 Photograph, gelatin silver print on paper 401 x 289 mm Centre Pompidou, Musée national d’art moderne, Paris Photo © Centre Pompidou, MNAM-CCI, Dist. RMN-Grand Palais / image Centre Pompidou, MNAM- CCI © ADAGP, Paris and DACS, London 2019


Touching The Void November 9-February 29 The stage adaptation of Joe Simpson’s memoir Touching the Void is coming to The Duke of York’s Theatre in the West End. Set in 1985 in the Peruvian Andes, two climbers (Simpson and his friend Simon Yates) are stranded on the side of a mountain and have to make impossible choices to survive. Life-affirming and darkly funny, David Greig’s adaptation brings the icy landscape thrillingly to life with clever tricks of lighting and takes the audience on an epic adventure that asks how far you’d be willing to go to stay alive.



A warm welcome


esigned to guarantee complete relaxation and a world-class wellness experience, TRH Hotels is a great match for clients, whether they are travelling on business, as a couple or with young children. Providing first-class facilities, equipped with the latest technology and offering personal attention to guests, TRH Hotels’ three- and four-star establishments are found in Majorca, Menorca, the Canary Islands and Andalusia. From the TRH Ciudad de Baeza, which was built in a former 16th-century Carmelite convent, to Majorca’s TRH Jardín del Mar, situated on Santa Ponsa bay and offering stunning views of the Mediterranean, the group’s eight hotels are unsurprisingly popular with British guests looking for sun, relaxation and luxury.


The 182-room TRH Taoro Garden offers a unique experience in one of the most beautiful areas of Tenerife Norte. Found above the Parque Taoro and about half a mile away from Puerto de la Cruz, it is surrounded by more than 1,070 sq feet of subtropical gardens. The cosy hotel, which was completely restored in 2017, is the ideal place to experience Canarian culture and gastronomy, dive into the Atlantic Ocean and swim in an outdoor, temperature-controlled pool. The Palmanova Suites by TRH in Magaluf is designed for groups and couples. Boasting live music, DJ sessions, a solarium terrace and multiple swimming pools, it is the perfect accommodation for a fun-packed and sun-kissed holiday. The 176-room TRH Paraiso is a design hotel with four-star services in El Paraiso,

Estepona, and is a fantastic location for relaxation, golfing and family trips. It has authentic gastronomy, a sauna and indoor and outdoor swimming pools, plus suites and rooms with sea views. The adjacent El Paraíso Golf Club is one of the most established courses on the Costa del Sol. In fact there are 60 championship golf courses on this sunny stretch – four of which are ranked in Europe’s top ten. The 200-room, four-star TRH Mijas caters for couples, business travellers or groups of friends and is located in the centre of Mijas, a charming Málaga town nestled in the mountainside. An example of elegant Andalusian architecture, it has panoramic views of the Mediterranean. For more information about TRH Hotels, contact salesandmarketing@i-travelsolutions.com

November 2019 37

City Guide Dubai

City Guide

Dubai Jane Archer profiles the tiny and increasingly popular Middle East emirate where everything from luxury to adventure is biggest and best


here can you slip-slide over sand dunes in the morning and tuck into Michelinstarred cuisine for dinner? It’s Dubai, of course, the tiny Middle East state that has become the byword for maximalism, offering everything from adventure holidays to sublime luxury in hotels that have rocked off the star scale. One of seven United Arab Emirates, Dubai exists for superlatives: the world’s tallest building, fastest lift, scariest water slide and biggest shopping mall are all here, waiting to impress the thousands of British tourists who come in search of sun, sea and sand each year. And, yes, to go ice-skating in the Dubai Mall. Why not? Visit Dubai figures show 667,000 Britons visited between January and July this year, making the UK the emirate’s third-largest source market. These are fly-

38 November 2019

Where to stay Budget

and-flop hotel guests, who can take their pick from swanky high-rises to authentic boutique properties. They can also check into the QE2, which finally opened its doors as a floating hotel in April 2018. That’s very fitting given the emirate is making waves in the cruise sector. Last winter almost 850,000 cruise passengers passed through, either on long world voyages or on one-week sailings around the Gulf states. Cruise lines invariably schedule at least two days in port, but visitors can easily spend a week here and still not have seen and done everything, which is all the more extraordinary given Dubai is no bigger than Cornwall if you exclude all the man-made hotel islands built in recent years. First stop for thrill-seekers has to be a desert safari – a hair-raising roller coaster ride through sand dunes that takes you

In Deira, near the spice market and gold souk, the 15-room Ahmedia Heritage Guest House offers an authentic Arabian alternative to the city’s glitzy high-rise hotels. Prices from about £56 including breakfast.


Next to a canal and metro station, JW Marriott Marquis on Sheikh Zayed Road is a stylish property where good service, spacious suites and fine dining come together. Prices from about £140 a night.


The Five Palm Jumeirah Dubai has spacious rooms and superb views thanks to its position on the ‘trunk’ of the man-made islands that make up the Palm Jumeirah. Prices from about £300 a night.



The incredible skyline of Dubai (above) and camel trekking in the desert (below)


up and over (and sometimes getting stuck in) shifting sands in 4x4 Jeeps. Afternoon tours usually end at a Bedouin-style camp where a barbecue under the stars and belly dancing entertainment awaits. More thrills await at the Superman-like XLine ride over Dubai Marina. It’s a zipline on which ‘flyers’ lie horizontally and slide from 170 metres (roughly the height of London’s BT Tower) to ground level at a heart-pounding 60mph. Families can splash out on a day at Wild Wadi Waterpark where the Riptide FlowRider, scary Jumeirah Sceirah and

more serene Burj Surj promise to get the adrenaline pumping. IMG Worlds of Adventure – the world’s largest indoor theme park – has rides that loop, roll, spin and travel through jungles infested with dinosaurs. There are superheroes to meet and live shows to watch. For couples, suggest a ride in the world’s fastest lift to the 124th floor of the Burj Khalifa, which naturally is the world’s tallest building, to enjoy the views over the city. Atmosphere on the 122nd floor is the highest lounge bar in the world. Of course.

November 2019 39

City Guide Dubai

It’s worth returning to the Burj Khalifa after dark, but staying on the ground to watch a sound, light and ‘dancing’ fountain show at the foot of the building (shows run every half hour from 6pm to 11pm). Grab a seat at one of the nearby restaurants and enjoy the show while tucking into some local cuisine. Grilled lamb and fish with rice are favourite dishes. There are seaplane rides above the city, a spice market and gold souk to explore near the creek and a chance to peek into ‘old’ Dubai in the Al Fahidi district, where a museum in an 18th century fort tells of the rise of Dubai from when it was a fishing village to the discovery of oil in the 1960s and the riches that followed.

40 November 2019

And if it all gets too hot – this is a desert climate with year-round sunshine that is usually a bit less fierce between November and March – clients can cool down on the ski slope in the Mall of the Emirates. There’s real snow and even a colony of gentoo and king penguins. For something a little more refined, afternoon tea in the Skyview Bar on the 27th floor of the Burj Al Arab Jumeira hotel costs about £130pp; booking is a must. Tour specialists such as Viator offer plenty of excursions, but it’s easy enough to explore alone using the metro, tram and monorail systems, as well as buses and taxis, which can be hailed in the street or prebooked using the Uber app.


Clockwise from top: La Mer Beach, the historical Al Fahidi district; Ski Dubai

Keen walkers or cyclists can get away from the hustle and bustle on a towpath that runs alongside the Dubai Canal, a 3.2km man-made waterway that runs between Business Bay and the Persian Gulf. At night a colourful curtain of water cascades down from Sheikh Zayed Road and is literally drawn back when a boat approaches. Only in Dubai! ABTAmag.com











*Terms and conditions apply. Please see Jet2holidays Trade Website for full details.

Features Ski and wintersports

Winter wonderlands Nicky Holford looks at all the latest developments in skiing and winter sports, as the sector looks to defy the Brexit storm clouds 42 November 2019



ith snow on the horizon more than a million skiers and snowboarders are searching for holidays options. The dark cloud of Brexit, together with the drop in the value of the pound and increased staffing costs caused by changes in EU employment laws, have given ski specialists a tough job to keep prices competitive. But innovation is the nature of the British ski holiday and this winter is no different. There are new hotels and chalets, new runs and lifts, ski passes with a supplement for après ski drinks and new destinations. Low cost and scheduled airlines offer all the top ski destinations from many UK airports connecting with


buses to a choice of resorts. Switzerland even has a driverless shuttle. Although the number of skiers has remained stagnant for the last two years ski companies have a high percentage of repeat business. This year sees an increase in self-catering holidays, particularly for families, many whom favour self-drive, while mainstream operators are adding more destinations outside Europe. Inghams, for example, have added the resorts of Hakuba and Nozawa Onsen, in Japan. Check ski package deals and what is inclusive. Many operators are offering child reductions, two for one lift passes and reduced ski hire. Mark Warner, for example, is offering half-

price lift passes and a free â‚Ź50 bar tab for adults in some chalets. When choosing your resort consider a number of options. For families, a better option may not be a top international resort but somewhere smaller with convenient facilities. Beginners should look at somewhere where ski school and lifts are within easy walking distance. Non-skiers need to pick resorts with a wide choice of non-ski activities and spa facilities. FRANCE Many British skiers and snowboarders will head to France this winter because it provides the greatest variety of resorts and accommodation options. Experts might

November 2019 43

Features Ski and wintersports

choose the snow sure resort of Val Thorens, families might opt for Meribel which this season has two new red runs, additional snow making facilities and a ski tunnel under the Roc de Fer piste. Meribel and Courchevel are joint hosts of the 2023 FIS World Ski Championships. €42 million is to be invested in the Trois Vallées resorts so expect a number of improvements. Val d’Isère will have a new five-star hotel, Mademoiselle. Part of the Airelles Collection it will have rooms, suites and private apartments with butler and a Guerlain Spa. In the Chamonix valley the Armancette Hotel, Chalets & Spa and Saint Nicolas de Véroce is a new boutique, chalet-style fivestar hotel. A new gondola will replace the old Flégère cable car. There might be less snow, but the Pyrenees resorts represent good value. The new €10 million Skyvall gondola in the Louron Valley in the French Pyrenees

will link the valley of Loudenvielle to the ski in/ski out resort of Peyragudes and will improve ski access for those staying in Loudenvielle and Peyresourde. The departure station is located north of Loudenvielle, near the superb Balnéa spa. For details, visit peyragudes.com Revolutionising ski passes, Les Arcs is offering two passes that include extra activities such as spas and toboggan runs and a VIP priority option for lift queues. The two passes are the Premium pass, which will cost €69 a day or €359 for six days and the Essential Pass €61 and €310. For details, see lesarcsnet.com AUSTRIA Onion-domed churches and attractive villages have made Austria British skiers and snowboarders’ second favourite destination (or first, for Crystal). From St Anton am Arlberg to Alpbachtal Wildschönau, Austria has everything.

This winter sees some major changes. St Anton am Arlberg says goodbye to its classic, 40-year-old Schindlergrat triple chairlift. For the 2019/20 season it will be replaced by a state of the art ten-seater gondola. St Anton am Arlberg will be linked with St Christoph, Stuben, Lech, Zürs, Warth and Schröcken to form Austria’s largest linked ski area. The ‘Run of Fame’ from St Anton to Warth in Vorarlberg is 65km and possible for strong intermediates. In Kaprun in SalzburgerLand a new tri-cable will access the glacier from the centre of town. This will radically change the skiing around Zell am See-Kaprun. The new gondola will go direct from the centre of Kaprun to the mountain station of the Kitzsteinhorn via the Maiskogel. The new Ski Alpin Card now includes skiing in Zell am See, Kitzsteinhorn Kaprun as well as in the Skicircus Saalbach Hinterglemm Leogang Fieberbrunn.

ABTA event Adventure Travel Conference November 19, London

44 November 2019


SWITZERLAND Nothing beats Swiss efficiency or the charm of resorts such as Zermatt or Wengen with their snow-laden chalets and traffic-free streets. Unfortunately the Swiss franc exchange rate can be a deterrent, but look for all-inclusive prices that include lift passes as eating on and off the mountain can be expensive. Lovers of Switzerland who return every year there will note some engineering improvements this season. One of the most impressive is the new 470 million Swiss francs, V-shaped cable car, which will start at Grindelwald and go to the Jungfraujoch railway station scheduled to open in December. It’s a replacement of the old Grindelwald– Männlichen gondolas built in 1978, which was the world’s longest gondola journeys, and will reduce travel time from 30 to 19 minutes. The new ten-person gondolas are part of a massive project that next year

will see another new cable car, the Eiger Express, reach the Eiger Glacier station, which connects to the Jungfraujoch station the highest in Europe at 3,454 metres. Completion is planned for December 2020. See v-bahn.jungfrau.ch ITALY Most Italian resorts are geared up for families and food. In resorts in the Aosta Valley such as Pila, Gressoney and Champoluc and Cervinia you will find your euros stretch much further. Most Italians do not start skiing early and lunch is taken seriously. So, expect early morning slopes to yourself and good value on mountain dining. Ski-2 have been specialising in Champoluc holidays for more than 20 years and are experts in the Aosta region (ski2champoluc. com). Courmayeur, a favourite with the Milanese can be a little more expensive,


Clockwise from top: on the slopes at St Anton am Arlberg; the new Eiger Express; Kitzsteinhorn, which is now included on the Ski Alpin Card


but it now has the state-of-the-art revolving cable car known as the Skyway Monte Bianco, which whisks you up to Punta Helbronner at 3,462 metres with 360-degree views. It’s an extraordinary engineering feat worth experiencing whether you are a skier or not – you can even take your dog. Have lunch with Mont Blanc in full view in the floor-toceiling windows. From here skiers can ski the Vallée Blanche, one of the world’s most famous runs. BEST OF THE BALKANS Bulgaria, Romania and Slovenia may not have the razzmatazz of some of the better known European resorts but the mountains are spectacular and their starting prices mean you can try skiing without a huge investment. Week-long holidays can start from £299 and include flights and hotel. In Bulgaria new hotels for this season include the four-star MPM Hotel Sport Bansko, a skiin ski-out at one of the most popular resorts in Bansko. See balkanholidays.co.uk For beginners these countries are an excellent way to experience skiing without breaking the bank. But there is no shortage of challenging intermediate and advanced pistes. There is also a diverse history as the region is a melting pot of Slavic, Ottoman, Persian and Greek influences. The capital of Bulgaria, Sofia, is at the foot of Vitosha mountain which dates to the fifth century. Or from the resort of Poiana Brasov in Romania try a day trip to Translyvania to visit Dracula’s Bran Castle. ABTAmag.com

November 2019 45

Land of wonder Visiting Japan is like stepping into another world and its cultured dance of ultramodernity and ancient tradition is as fascinating as it is unique. Travel to Japan with an open mind, surprising your taste buds with its sublime cuisine and embracing the unfamiliarity of its customs – slipping off your shoes for dinner, and perhaps even your entire outfit at an Onsen hot spring! Experience the exhilarating rush of neon Tokyo and, amidst this whir of activity, seek out pockets of tranquillity in the hushed calm of a Buddhist temple or by contemplating the transience of the cherry blossom in an immaculate garden. From the snow-capped peak of Mount Fuji to the geishas that adorn the streets of Kyoto, Japan’s beauties are many and varied – prepare to be intrigued and delighted in equal measures. These are only some of the unforgettable experiences your customers can have when visiting Japan, take a look at our collection of Japanese Escorted Tours here…

JAPAN: LAND OF THE RISING SUN This fascinating tour offers a unique opportunity to explore the highlights of Japan, revealing a country of dramatic contrasts between tradition and technology, and boasting stunning scenery along the way. The tour includes: • VIP door-to-door travel service • 10 nights in hotels and 2 in flight • 13 meals: 10 breakfasts and 3 dinners

Excursions and visits • Coach tour of Tokyo • Sightseeing in Kamakura • Komagatake Ropeway • Cruise on Lake Ashi • Matsumoto coach tour • Takayama walking tour • Historic village of Shirakawago • Visit the Kenroku-en Garden • Sightseeing tour of Kyoto • Exploring the ancient political centre of Nara • Authentic tea house visit and tea ceremony

INTO THE HEART OF JAPAN Immerse yourself in Japanese culture from the bright and exhilarating lights of Tokyo to the haunting beauty of Hiroshima’s Peace Memorial Park. See Mount Fuji and snow monkeys, sleep in a ryokan, explore historic temples, make – and eat – sushi, and meet charming and courteous people. The tour includes: • VIP door-to-door travel service • 11 nights in hotels and 2 in flight • 16 meals: 11 breakfasts, 2 lunches and 3 dinners

• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •

Excursions and visits • Coach tour of Tokyo • Sushi making experience • Kimono wearing experience • Owakudani cable-car ride • Cruise on Lake Ashi

Marquetry experience Visit Mount Fuji’s 5th Station Explore a wasabi farm Overnight stay in a Ryokan – a traditional Japanese inn See the snow Monkeys of Hell Valley Tour of Kanazawa Explore the mountain village of Shirakawa-go See traditional architecture in Takayama Artisan gold-leaf demonstration Sightseeing tour of Kyoto Visit to an authentic tea house and experience a traditional tea ceremony Dine in an Izakaya (Japanese pub) Walking tour of Tomonoura Sake tasting Visit Hiroshima’s Peace Memorial Park Explore the historic Senkō-ji temple City tour of Osaka

FLOWERS AND FESTIVALS OF JAPAN Discover the unique colours of Japan in spring or autumn on this tour that visits Tokyo and takes you to the beautiful, relatively unexplored north of Honshu island… The tour includes: • VIP door-to-door travel service • 11 nights in hotels and 2 in flight • 16 meals: 11 breakfasts, 3 lunches and 2 dinners

Excursions and visits • Tokyo city tour • Sushi-making class • Boat cruise on Sumida River, Tokyo • Mount Fuji area visit • Genbikei Gorge boat cruise in Morioka • Visit to Lake Tazawa • Walking tour of Tsugaru-han Neputa Village and Hirosaki Castle • Ride on Hakkoda Ropeway • Walk through Arashiyama Bamboo Forest • Kyoto city tour • Osaka Castle and Dotonbori food district

ESSENCE OF SOUTH KOREA AND JAPAN Take to the rails on this two-country tour of South Korea and Japan and discover dynamic Seoul, the Korean Demilitarized Zone, Mount Fuji and Tokyo’s Imperial Palace. The tour includes: • VIP door-to-door travel service • 12 nights in hotels and 1 in flight • 23 meals: 12 breakfasts, 5 lunches and 7 dinners

Excursions and visits • Seoul city tour • Visit to Korean Demilitarized Zone and the Joint Security Area • Gyeongju sightseeing tour • Guided tour of Busan • Kyoto city tour • Visit to Mount Fuji 5th Station • Lake Ashi cruise • Komagatake Ropeway aerial lift • Tokyo sightseeing tour

Every tour includes optional travel insurance and is 100% guaranteed to depart. See our full collection of escorted tours at sagaagents.co.uk

Features Chile

48 November 2019


Every day you play With British Airways linking London and Santiago, Sorrel MoseleyWilliams explores the birth country of poet Pablo Neruda that counts desert, ice fields and wine country among its many splendours ABTAmag.com

November 2019 49

Features Chile


easuring 2,653 miles from top to toe, Chile counts desert, ice fields, wine country, Easter Island and Cape Horn among its many splendours – and, of course, the Andes. Despite being located 7,249 miles from the UK, this Latin American country’s time difference is just three hours during the southern hemisphere’s summer, and you can reach its colourful extremes with British Airways’ longest direct flight (14 hours 40 minutes), which links London and Santiago. The country’s capital is a dynamic metropolis, the river Mapocho running east-west between low-rise mountains that make for an attractive snow-capped reminder of South America’s jagged backbone. Many visitors begin their

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exploration in Plaza de Armas, Santiago’s main square in Centro, its street corners draped in history. It’s home to the neoclassical Metropolitan Cathedral, with its marble, bronze and lapis lazuli altar, with the National History Museum, the Chilean Museum of Pre-Columbian Art and the fantastic underground Centro Cultural Palacio La Moneda, housed in an old mint, a short stroll away. The Centro district is walkable, the noisy Alameda Avenue the main drag running through it; close by is the París-Londres subdistrict, its photogenic cobbled streets, smart architecture and quiet ambience are a far cry from bustling Alameda, yet they also harbour a dark secret. Calle Londres 38 was one of four key detention centres during Chile’s 17-year military dictatorship under

Pinochet that ended in 1990; today it’s a space that celebrates human rights. Trendy Lastarria makes for a great refuelling point, either before or after scaling the 629-metre Santa Lucía Hill, which, on a haze-free day, offers fantastic views across the capital. Lastarria is also home to the 16th-century San Francisco church, Museo Colonial and Museo de Artes Visuales, as well as an abundance of cute cafés and bars. A relatively green capital, Santiago’s Parque Forestal creates a natural border between Lastarria and Bellavista, the latter its most boho barrio (neighbourhood). La Chascona, the name of late Nobel prizewinning poet Pablo Neruda’s home, is today a museum housing his 9,000-tome library, and the poet would likely have


approved of the thriving nightlife and street art that brings Bellavista to life today. Chileans are known to love steak and pisco, but Santiago’s food scene goes beyond these basics. Boragó is the city’s fine-dining benchmark and perennially ranks in the World’s 50 Best Restaurants list, followed up by 040, Ambrosía and Del Patio. Given the extensive coastline, fresh fish form part of the diet, enjoy ceviche and sushi at La Mar and Osaka respectively. Wine lovers should sample Sauvignon Blanc and Carménère at Lastarria’s Bocanáriz wine bar, or enjoy an authentic Chilean sandwich at casual soda fountain at Las Cabras, next door to Costanera Center mall, South America’s tallest skyscraper. Many visitors stay in upmarket Las Condes, a high-rise neighbourhood that’s close to the central business district, ‘Sanhattan’, whose northeastern location allows for a quick exit out to the ski resorts, but consider trendy Lastarria, Bellavista or historical Centro.



Chile’s diverse landscape includes 40 national parks, and this slimline country really does cater to all travel tastes. In the north, clear skies above the Atacama (the world’s driest nonpolar desert) ensures world-class observatories for stargazing. Cabernet Sauvignon lovers can easily savour wine country such as Casablanca Valley, located an hour’s drive from Santiago, while powder chasers can take to the slopes between late June and September. Those in search of outdoor adventure should make a beeline for rugged Patagonia, home to the Torres del Paine National Park. Throw in Easter Island, known for its moai statues, and a cruise around Cape Horn, and that’s a host of Chilean experiences ticked off any bucket list. One short and sweet day trip out of Santiago is to Valparaíso. A Unesco World Heritage port built into a cliff, have fun scaling its steep streets (or paying for the much easier funicular) and getting lost

Plaza de Armas, Santiago’s main square, is draped in history At the time of writing, the Chilean government had declared a state of emergency following civil unrest in Santiago. The FCO said travellers should observe curfews where in place, remain vigilant, monitor local media for updates and avoid protests and demonstrations.

November 2019 51

Features Chile

Easter Island is a world of its own housing dozens of mythical moai statues

52 November 2019

in pretty, narrow barrios. The poet Neruda also kept a home in Chile’s most bohemian city; visit his house, La Sebastiana, before wandering Cerro Alegre and Cerro Concepción neighbourhoods to discover vibrant street art, quaint cafés and cool galleries. For a taste of wine country and Chile’s world-famous reds, oenophiles should book a tasting tour with Chile Wine Trails. Passionate Australian sommelier Kylie Sherriff organises day tours into Casablanca Valley and its boutique viñas (wineries) as well as tailor-made trips further afield to Aconcagua and Colchagua valleys with overnight stays. Many viñas open to the public for those who prefer to set their own wine-fuelled itinerary; Clos Apalta, Casa Lapostolle, Laura Hartwig and Viña Vik offer guided visits as well as lunches with wonderful vineyards vistas and accommodation in beautiful Colchagua.

Bearing in mind that the southern hemisphere’s winter takes place between June and September, pro ski squads head for Chile’s Andean slopes to keep up the training schedule. Traverse the Andes with the world’s best, who come for highquality snow, at Valle Nevado ski resort, a two-hour drive from Santiago. With runs suitable for beginners to experts, peaks soar up to 3,670 metres above sea level. Those with an adrenaline habit and a big budget should set up off-theradar heliskiing with VM Elite. The resort itself is home to three hotels and all the aprés-ski activities a weary athlete requires to revitalise. Easter Island, meanwhile, is a world of its own. Also known as Rapa Nui, the island houses dozens of mythical moai statues carved out of volcanic quarries by ancient Polynesians, and the most dramatic 15-strong collection can be found at Ahu Tongariki; draw your own conclusion as to


how these archaeological treasures were moved then erected all over these volcanic lands. Hanga Roa is Easter Island’s main town and houses an array of small hotels and B&Bs, although off-the-beaten track luxury lodges such as Explora and Hanga Roa eco-lodge are worth splurging on. It’s best to hire a guide in order to learn about the maoi and latter-day Birdman cultures. Patagonia is naturally a huge draw for its dramatic open landscapes and wildlife. In the Lake District, volcanoes such as Villarrica and Osorno reflect perfectly on to clear-blue lagoons; adrenaline lovers should make Pucón their base for striking out to whitewater rafting, trekking and volcano climbing. Last April the new Patagonia National Park was created when Tompkins Conservation donated grasslands, mountains, coigüe forests and wetlands to Chile. It also marks the first stop-off on the Patagonian Route of Parks, a scenic tour through 17 national parks.


The most majestic and in-demand national park in the region, however, is Torres del Paine, a magnet for climbers keen to conquer the eponymous three-mountain massif or enjoy its picturesque lakes, rivers and forests. While there are various options to stay within the park, former meatpacking plant Singular Patagonia in Puerto Natales overlooks the Last Hope Sound fjörd and makes for a welcome luxury stay after a hard day’s climbing. The largest city in the area, Punta Arenas, is the embarkation point for Cape Horn and Antarctica cruises. As for wildlife, there’s plenty to spot, such as Andean condors, Magellanic and Humboldt penguins, blue whales, dolphins and the enigmatic puma, among others. From its desertic north to its vast icy south, Chile might be far from the UK, but with so many jewels in its crown, any wellplanned trip will make the journey well worth it. ABTAmag.com


Left: Palafitos, traditional wooden stilt houses, in Castro. Below: Mapocho river in Santiago; local delicacies empanadas and red wine

November 2019 53

Features Japan wellness

Finding peace From meditating with Buddhist monks to mindful forest walks, Sam Ballard discovers inner calm with a few days of wellness in Japan


s we sit in our hotel room, with Typhoon Hagibis swirling around outside, we may be forgiven for wishing we were elsewhere. We are reaching the end of seven days in Japan – a majority of it spent at the ABTA Convention in Tokyo (see p24) followed by two days walking through the Japanese Alps, just off the western seaboard. We had been due to travel on to Yokohama to watch England play France in the Rugby World Cup but much of Honshu island was on lock down and the game had been cancelled, a first for the competition. Japan was about to be hit by the strongest typhoon in 60 years. And yet, I was hooked. Japan is an enthralling country. In Tokyo, where the neon glows all night,

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locals dress as their favourite comic book character and there are vending machines for anything and everything (and I mean everything). The city is huge – the greater Tokyo population has an estimated population of about 40 million people – and it’s every bit as brilliantly idiosyncratic as you have heard. Groups whizz through downtown traffic dressed as Mario Kart characters (in actual go-karts), karaoke bars are on every corner and you can even visit an owl café, if the mood takes you. However, leave the mega metropolis and a more traditional Japan comes into view; this part of the country is equally as surprising, but for different reasons. On a two-day journey outside of Tokyo a land of lush green forests and

mountains opens up in front of us; this is the Japan where the health service prescribes Forest Bathing, and Shinto, the country’s indigenous faith, and Buddhism remain deeply rooted in society. We jump on the legendary Shinkansen (bullet train), which whizzes us at 200 miles per hour, west to Kanazawa. Once there we drive for an hour out to Yamanaka Onsen where we walk through forests among the Kakusenkei Gorge, visit local villages and meditate with Buddhist monks. It’s a world away from the bright lights of Tokyo. In Yamanaka we eat a traditional Japanese meal in a restaurant overlooking the Daishoji river. Our guide, Nariko, talks us through the range of exotic dishes laid out in front of us in beautiful lacquerware, for which


the region is renowned. We eat tofu, fish and vegetables, all expertly prepared and cooked using traditional methods; vegetable tempura, pickles and rice are stacked up across our table as we take our fill. The only thing holding us back is getting to grips with the chopsticks. During the afternoon we walk through the forests. Yamanaka is a hot spring town, where the waters are known for their healing properties. We saunter alongside the river, past wooden signposts upon which are written ancient haikus about the forest. Other signs tell passers-by to remember to be gentle. The land is verdant and the air is clean; you can see why the Japanese believe in the forest’s healing powers. That night we stay in Hakujukan, a luxury hotel where the smell of cedarwood hits you as soon you enter the traditional building, which is as simple on the inside as it is ornate on the outside, there are even specially designated places for meditation in the reception. Rooms are also in the traditional style with a door that opens into a porch where you change out of your shoes into slippers before entering the main living space. There’s a low level seating area while the windows are covered in a paper sliding door. If it wasn’t for the widescreen TV you could be in the Edo period. The hotel also has its own onsen, the bathing ritual where people strip off, clean themselves fully before getting into a large


bathtub where the temperatures are above 40 degrees. The pools are split by sex and the hotel contains both outside and indoor pools. When I tried it the place was deserted – much to my relief – although being ‘cheek to cheek’ with other bathers is apparently part of the experience. The next morning we walk out to the Eihei-ji temple complex. The Buddhist site has been a training centre for monks since it was first built in 1244 and is one of the centres of the Soto Zen School of Buddhism. Since then it has burnt down, been rebuilt and expanded over the centuries into its current incarnation – a sprawling mass of interconnected wooden temples, built in and around ancient trees and lush gardens. We walk up Eihei-ji’s vast staircases and around temples decorated in the Emperor’s chrysanthemum crest and great halls with ceilings filled with squares, each one telling a different story. Our group is introduced to a Buddhist monk who takes us to a room filled with tatami mats and teaches us the art of zazen, or seated meditation. We’re taught where to sit, the position to hold – and warned that if our posture drops we’ll be struck with a cane to “help us concentrate”. He doesn’t follow through with his threat but senior monks do administer the cane when their young charges start drooping. The young monks can even adopt a position that announces that they need to be hit – to help them

concentrate. All in the name of achieving enlightenment. After 20 minutes of meditation all I can think about is how dead my leg is. As I slowly uncurl myself from a poorly attempted half lotus, our mentor tells us that yesterday the monks meditated for about 12 hours. Once we’re out of the temple we take a walk around the town and enjoy a crab lunch in a local restaurant. News of the impending Super Typhoon has started to trouble our hosts however. Shortly afterwards, the rugby game is cancelled and we are told that transport links into Tokyo are likely to also be shut down. The decision is made to cancel our trip to Yokohama and head straight back to the capital. Our couple of days of wellness have been superb. From being hit by the jarring difference between hyper Tokyo and the slow pace of what lies beyond, to losing ourselves in walks around ancient woodlands and learning to meditate with a Buddhist monk. We’ve sampled some of the greatest things this country has to offer, and we’ve not even scratched the surface. ABTAmag.com


Left: the lobby in luxury hotel Hakujukan. Below: signs in the forest tell passers-by to be gentle

November 2019 55

Features Industry insights

Industry insights ABTA’s Holiday Habits Report 2019 shows that the travel industry is growing, with 88 per cent of Brits holidaying in the last year


he number of Brits taking a holiday is at its highest since 2011, according to ABTA’s Holiday Habits 2019 Report. Overall 88 per cent of Britons took a break in the 12 months to July. That compares to 86 per cent the year before. In 2019, the number of foreign holidays of seven nights or more increased to 1.1 per person, up from 1.0 last year. In 2016 the number was 0.7 per person. Foreign holidays overall increased to an average of 1.9 per person, up from 1.6 in 2018. ABTA revealed that 64 per cent of Brits took a foreign holiday, up from 60 per cent last year. Families with older children (those over five years old) took 5.6 holidays in the year, fuelling the growth. Half of the holidays were overseas while half were in the UK. Families with younger children took 3.9 holidays. Consumers are spending £98 less on short foreign holidays than in the previous year and £94 less on a longer overseas break. Last year, 2.0 people took a UK holiday,

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up from 1.8 in 2018. The report also delved into the popularity of individual destinations – with 38 per cent of Brits booking a holiday to Spain. France was the second most popular destination (23 per cent), followed by the USA (18 per cent) and Italy (17 per cent). The report, which is in its ninth year, surveyed 2,043 people. Mark Tanzer, ABTA chief executive, said: “The British public’s appetite for taking holidays has continued unabated in the past 12 months. This has partly been due to the wide variety of excellent value for money options available this year, and also because holidays are a priority when it comes to discretionary spend.” ABTA’s figures also revealed that 22 per cent of 18-24 year olds have booked a holiday “in-store” over the last year, and have sought the advice of a travel professional. The main reason given for using a travel professional – which could mean tour operator or travel agent – was “ease of booking”. For young people, 20 per cent said

that they used a travel professional because they thought they would have a better holiday when booking through one. Other interesting findings to come out of the report include the popularity of cruise among young people. According to ABTA, more than a quarter (28 per cent) of 18-34 year olds took a cruise in 2019 – a six per cent rise. Overall, one in 10 people took a cruise last year while 14 per cent had one booked. And 60 per cent of respondents said they were interested in taking one, up from 58 per cent. More than a quarter (27 per cent) of 2534 year olds who are interested in going on a cruise would like to take an expedition trip. Victoria Bacon, director of brand and business development, said: “The UK cruise industry has seen significant growth in recent years with a record number of passengers reaching over two million for the first time last year. As cruise operators have diversified and adapted to their customers’ needs there is now a greater choice of cruise trips than ever before.” ABTAmag.com























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November 2019 57

Final Word Alice Catterall

Final word

Each issue we speak to an ABTA employee about their work. This time, it’s Alice Catterall, head of events and partnerships


ith 15 years of experience in conferences and events, I was recruited from outside of the travel industry four years ago to develop ABTA’s programme of events. ABTA is uniquely positioned to offer support and guidance in a number of areas; from complaints handling and crisis management to market trends, marketing techniques and regulatory and financial matters. Over the past four years, we have built up a varied portfolio of events and we now run over 60 conferences, seminars and training courses a year, in addition to the industry flagship event, The Travel Convention. The events range in size from training seminars for up to 30 people, to large one- and two-day conferences for 150 plus people. We always listen carefully to what our Members tell us and our events programme is designed to ensure that their needs are met. The common aim of these events is to help travel industry professionals deliver better holidays for their customers and improve their working practices, whether that’s in health and safety, customer service or crisis management. I am also responsible for ABTA’s Partner scheme, which is a business-to-business scheme for companies who supply professional services and products for UK travel companies. ABTA’s 180 Partners are at the heart of the travel industry and help Members with a wide range of operational and business-related issues. Travel companies can access the expertise and support available from ABTA Partners via the ABTA Members Zone, helplines and through our extensive events programme. I enjoy the changing nature of my job and having the opportunity to meet ABTA Partners on a daily basis, learn about their businesses’ particular challenges, how they can support our Members and the wider travel industry, is a very enjoyable part of that. ABTA’s Partners are very varied, including legal and finance firms, insurers, ground service providers, airports, airlines,

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marketing agencies, consultancies and more. All of them are leaders in their field. I lead a great team who work with the other departments across ABTA to deliver our events and partnerships. Each working day is different. As an example of the varied work we do, a lot of attention is currently being given to two new events, which I am very excited about, an Adventure Travel Conference and a Mental Health event both of which take place later this month. One of the most important aspects of my job is to monitor the feedback from these events, and to ensure that the events are of a high quality and that we continually adapt and improve. Delegate feedback is essential to us, we will act on it, so please fill in the forms at the end of the event! We will soon begin work on our largest 2020 events, the two-day travel law and travel finance seminars as well as Travel Matters, which brings together industry leaders to discuss the most pressing issues facing the industry. I love working in the travel industry and I am constantly struck by the dedication and professionalism of ABTA Members and Partners and their willingness to share advice and guidance. Our events and our work with Partners help to ensure that standards in the travel industry continually improve and I am very proud to be part of my great team working to achieve this. ABTAmag.com

Visit abta.com/abtaevents to see our forthcoming events and register your place. Discounts are available for ABTA Members and Partners


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