Trade Publication of the Year / January 2020 Your copy of ABTA Magazine inside
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Trade Publication of the Year / Jan 2020
An expanse of crystalline ocean, towering icebergs and uninterrupted wildlifeâ€Ś why a voyage to Antarctica is the ultimate expedition
Better Belize it
Discover Mayan ruins and rich wilderness in Central America
Lithuaniaâ€™s capital has history, gastronomy and art in troves
2020 destinations The 12 destinations to watch this year plus major travel trends
Are you prepared for the needs and desires of Generation Z?
Trade Publication of the Year / Jan 2020
An expanse of crystalline ocean, towering icebergs and uninterrupted wildlife… why a voyage to Antarctica is the ultimate expedition
Better Belize it
Discover Mayan ruins and rich wilderness in Central America
Lithuania’s capital has history, gastronomy and art in troves
2020 destinations The 12 destinations to watch this year plus major travel trends
Future-proof your travel company with expert trend forecasting
To the ends of the earth
Download Globetrender's Gen Z Horizons report, and stay ahead of the competition
n a world of low-cost airlines and increased connectivity, Antarctica feels like an antidote to the idea that the world is getting smaller. Almost a week’s travel from the UK – via Buenos Aires and Ushuaia, on the tip of the South American continent, before a two-day sailing over the Drake Passage – Antarctica is as inaccessible as it is inhospitable. The world’s driest, windiest and coldest continent is a place like no other. No wonder it has fascinated and frustrated explorers for hundreds of years. Although still a considerable journey, it is now easier than ever to explore the White Continent thanks to a number of expedition operators offering itineraries there. ABTA Magazine publishers Anthony Pearce and Sam Ballard joined Aurora Expeditions’ new ship, the Greg Mortimer, on a once-in-a-lifetime sailing (p48).
Eyes forward: the year ahead
To welcome in the New Year, we present to you ABTA’s Travel Trends report, including the12 destinations to watch in 2020. From Madrid and its surrounding cities to Chicago and Lake Michigan, these destinations will be on your customers’ radars this year, so we’ve provided a brief guide to each, including details of how visitors can get there (p59). Elsewhere in the magazine, Emily Eastman visits Belize, a relatively unexplored country located on the north-eastern coast of Central America and blessed with some of the world’s most breathtaking natural and man-made wonders, including ancient Mayan ruins deep in the jungle (p56). You’ll also find all the latest news, including incentives for January, from p9, plus ABTA’s updates on all its latest campaigns and events from p28. Happy New Year – we hope you enjoy reading.
Events with ABTA
See p29 for the full list of ABTA events
Cyber and Data Breach Management in Travel, London
An Introduction to Social Media in Travel, London
Claims Handling in Travel, London
Frozen planet Antarctica is the trip of a lifetime
2020 destinations 12 travel spots to watch
Better Belize it Central Americaâ€™s best-kept secret
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 firstname.lastname@example.org Director Anthony Pearce email@example.com Senior sales manager Bryan Johnson firstname.lastname@example.org 020 3865 9338
Sales manager Rory Collins email@example.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,
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: Aurdey Gillan, Jenny Southan, Emily Eastman
In the January issue
38 Contributors Jenny Southan is an awardwinning freelance travel journalist, and editor and founder of trend forecasting agency Globetrender. Emily Eastman is a freelance writer and editor working across land travel, cruise, business and politics. Billy Odell is a freelance illustrator and graphic designer based in London. You can see his cartoons and sketches at billyodell.com. One of the directors of Waterfront, Anthony Pearce oversees all editorial at ABTA Magazine.
Editor’s letter Happy New Year! Here’s what’s in store
News The latest travel industry news
Interview: James Howlett Colette’s head of sales shares the tour operator’s plans for relaunching in the UK with trade support
ABTA section Get up to date with all the latest news, campaigns and events from ABTA
Business travel With a new decade stretching ahead, here are five key trends set to shape the industry
Spotlight on… Gold Medal & Travel 2. The trade-only company has an impressive product portfolio, but it’s the people who really make the business
UK holidays The pretty medieval city of Oxford has something to please every visitor
City guide Those with a penchant for history, gastronomy or the arts will find Vilnius has it all in troves
Gamesroom Play games and win prizes
Final word Steve Abrahamson on the role of ABTA’s claims team after the Thomas Cook collapse
On trend River cruise returns to Egypt while Manchester Airport registers its busiest ever year
Out and about Our round-up of images from the latest industry events and fam trips
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RETURN OF THE KINGS? Avalon Waterways has become the latest cruise line to return to Egypt, joining the likes of Scenic and Viking. The line has not operated in Egypt since 2016 but has scheduled an initial 15 departures between September and December this year. In 2010, 58,000 people took a Nile river cruise, but that was down to 3,600 by 2016, a 95 per cent fall. However, it rose to 4,700 in 2017 and 5,700 in 2018, according to Clia.
Amount handed out in food vouchers by ABTA LifeLine, which was set up to help people in the travel industry when they need it most. Trudie Clements, director of the charity, said there had been 900 emergency applications. She said the failure of Thomas Cook had led to an “unprecedented” level of applications.
Just 21 per cent of ex Thomas Cook staff are back in full-time work, according to the Unite union.
Wallace Arnold, part of the Specialist Leisure Group, which also owns Shearings, is set to open six new “retail pods” in Morrisons supermarkets in Yorkshire and Nottinghamshire. The pods are in Brampton, Barnsley; Doncaster and Pontefract, Harrogate; Morley, Leeds; and Mansfield, Nottinghamshire.
More than 100,000 passengers passed through Manchester Airport each day in August for the first time last year. On August 23, 115,212 people used the airport – the busiest day its 81-year history.
More than three quarters of claims from Thomas Cook customers have been settled, the Civil Aviation Authority has said. Total payments exceed £200 million.
News January 2020
All the latest headlines from the world of travel
Boeing halts production of the 737 Max aircraft
By Emily Eastman Boeing has announced that it will temporarily halt production of its 737 Max airliner. Production of the aircraft had continued despite the model being grounded for nine months following two fatal crashes that killed 346 people. The US air watchdog had said earlier in December that it would not approve the jet’s return to service before 2020. More than 700 Max jets are now grounded worldwide. It’s the first time in two decades that Boeing has halted 737 production, and market commentators say the move could have significant repercussions for the US economy. Boeing said in a statement: “Safely returning the 737 Max to service is our top priority. We know that the process of approving the 737 Max’s return to service, and of determining appropriate training requirements, must be extraordinarily thorough and robust to ensure that our regulators, customers and the flying public have confidence in the 737 Max updates.” Boeing is the US’s largest manufacturing exporter, meaning a shutdown would affect suppliers across the country.
As a result of the suspension, thousands of scheduled flights that were awaiting new planes or had recently purchased new ones have been cancelled. Boeing has plans to redeploy its 12,000 workers employed at Renton, Washington, where production took place. FAA administrator Steve Dickson said there were almost a dozen milestones to complete before the Max can return to service, making approval unlikely before February or later. The two deadly crashes occurred within five months of one another. The first, a Lion Air flight, crashed into the Java Sea off Jakarta, Indonesia 13 minutes after takeoff in October 2018. The second, an Ethiopian Airlines flight, crashed in March 2019 on a flight from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia to Nairobi, Kenya six minutes after takeoff. Investigators of the Lion Air crash blamed faults by Boeing, Lion Air and pilots, and lapses by American regulators. A 353-page report found the jet should have been grounded before departure because of an earlier cockpit issue and identified issues with the jet’s new automated stabiliser control system. The system has been linked to both crashes. ABTAmag.com
Pre-Brexit By Emily Eastman The UK trade association UKinbound has urged the new government to continue dialogue with the UK tourism industry following the results of December’s general election. Following the election results, which saw Boris Johnson’s Conservative Party win a Commons majority, Joss Croft, UKinbound CEO, said: “We welcome the new government and look forward to continuing our dialogue and working with them on the key priorities for the inbound tourism industry during the Brexit transition period and beyond. “The industry contributed £23 billion to the UK economy last year, but in order to keep growing and flourishing we need to have continued access to employees from all over the world, frictionless borders for our visitors post Brexit and continued strong promotion of the UK as a welcoming destination. “We also urge the government to consider extending the Brexit transition period beyond December 2020 if needed so that businesses have enough time to prepare.” ABTAmag.com
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British Airways and China A-Rosa Southern Airlines join forces available By Emily Eastman
By Emily Eastman British Airways and China Southern Airlines have signed a joint business agreement that offers a greater choice of flights, more destinations between the UK and China, and enhanced frequent flyer benefits from January 2. The agreement allows the two airlines to cooperate on scheduling and pricing, meaning customers get more flexible flight options and a larger range of fares. Customers will initially benefit from code-sharing on all direct flights operated on mainland routes between London and the Chinese cities of Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Sanya, Wuhan and Zhengzhou. The network will develop over time thanks to the move of both airlines to the new Beijing Daxing International Airport, with customers initially benefiting from 31 direct flights a week between London and the six Chinese destinations. Alex Cruz, chairman and CEO of British Airways, said: “We are delighted to announce this joint business which will bring the UK and China closer together by providing British Airways and China Southern Airlines customers with a wide range of benefits. The agreement reinforces our commitment to boost tourism and business travel between the two countries and we look forward to strengthening the relationship further.” Customer benefits will include more opportunities to collect frequent flyer points
12 January 2020
and access to both carriers’ web or appbased platforms to make bookings. Other benefits include lounge access and products and services from both markets, on board and on the ground. The move follows the 2017 launch by British Airways and China Southern Airlines of a codeshare agreement across ten routes. Two years later, in January 2019, the airlines signed a Memorandum of Understanding to expand the agreement on both of their networks and implement reciprocal frequent flyer benefits. In October 2019, British Airways became the first international airline to move all its operations to Beijing Daxing International Airport, in recognition of the importance of driving travel between China and the UK. Codesharing has grown in importance to China Southern Airlines since it decided not to renew its Skyteam airline alliance contract from January 2019. The Chinese national carrier has codeshare agreements with Qatar Airways, American Airlines, Finnair and Emirates. Last year, Qatar bought a 5 per cent stake in the carrier. Speaking to Business Traveller in summer 2019 at the launch of China Southern’s Heathrow-Zhengzhou route, the airline’s account manager for the UK and Ireland said: “Leaving Skyteam was mainly to do with Daxing airport. The alliance partners could not help us fulfil capacity for that because they were tied up with ventures elsewhere. We wanted to create new joint ventures to add the capacity we would like into that airport.” ABTAmag.com
A-Rosa River Cruises’ products are now available to The Travel Network Group’s Cruise Club members thanks to a new agreement. The agreement, signed in time for the January peak period, means that Cruise Club agents will have access to the entire A-Rosa international portfolio of cruises for 2020 and 2021.. Cruise Club Concierge members will be able to book via their Concierge team, who can package cruises with flights, transfers and hotels for pre and post stays as required and give customers full ATOL protection. Lucia Rowe, managing director of A-Rosa River Cruises UK and Ireland, said: “Our partnerships are growing at a pace and having The Travel Network Group on board broadens our distribution channels further and is another step forward for us in our growth plans. The group will have access to our entire programme, including our new E-Motion ship for 2021, which is really exciting.” The line is dedicated to product training, and activity for the early part of this year includes a training webinar for the Cruise Club Concierge team, marketing via all Cruise Club Concierge marketing brochures, email adverts and fam trips. ABTAmag.com
Coral Expeditions extends Australia partnership By Emily Eastman Coral Expeditions and Australian Geographic have extended their expedition partnership through to 2022 and announced four new expedition voyages. Jeff Giles, Coral Expeditions’ commercial director, said the two companies share common values and a commitment to nature, heritage, culture and the environment. “This is an important and natural partnership for Coral Expeditions. For almost 35 years Coral Expeditions has had one purpose – taking small groups of like-minded explorers on small ships to remote parts of the world with expert guidance and warm Australian
hospitality. We are pleased to continue this adventure with a partner which shares both our passion and our uniquely Australian ethos,” he said. The trips are “Battle and Beaches: 75th Anniversary of WWII”, a 13-night voyage through Solomon Islands, Vanuatu and Bougainville aboard Coral Discoverer; “Coastal Wilds of Tasmania”, a 10-night sailing from Hobart; “Island Outposts of West Australia”, a 27-night tour; and the sevennight “Outerknown Adventures on the Great Barrier Reef”. A special guest lecturer from the Australian Geographic Society will join each trip to share knowledge and stories. ABTAmag.com
Princess sails Japan By Emily Eastman Princess Cruises has announced its longest-ever season sailing Japan, which went on sale last month. The full programme, which runs from May 2021 to April 2022, sees the 2,670-guest Diamond Princess sail round-trip from Tokyo and Kobe on 48 itineraries visiting 44 destinations. Voyages range in length from four to 19 nights, with highlights including the Osaka Danjiri festival, cherry blossoms on five Spring Flowers voyages and late-night dockings. On board, a series of experiences include sushi dining, folkloric performances and origami classes. Tony Roberts, Princess Cruises’ vice president UK and Europe, said: “As well as a host of cruises offering authentic on-board experiences, those looking to explore further can combine their sailing with a land holiday and fully immerse themselves in the captivating culture of this unique region.” Also, until March 2, guests can add the simplified on-board savings package for £35 per person per day, which covers premium drinks, unlimited wifi and gratuities. ABTAmag.com
Flavia Santoro, President of ProColombia Colombia is putting years of instability behind it as it welcomes tourists in increasing numbers. Anthony Pearce sat down with Flavia Santoro, president of Colombia’s national tourism agency, at the most recent London World Travel Market to learn what’s drawing British tourists to this South American country, and what’s on their must-see list when they arrive. Why was there a 5 per cent increase in British tourists to Colombia in 2018?
We are increasing our connectivity and our tourism infrastructure has been growing. The experience that you’re going to have in Colombia can be multicultural, multidiverse; we are the second in the world for biodiversity, you can have different experiences depending on what you’re looking for. We’re a destination for nature, adventure, sports and culture. We can show you we have great weather – we are a country of regions. You can experience Continued page 16
January 2020 13
New year, new tours Discover a whole world of exciting new holidays that combine comfort and adventure in Saga’s latest Escorted Tours brochure From the rugged landscape of the Cape Peninsula to the glaciers and simmering volcanoes in Iceland, Saga’s escorted tours take guests to destinations around the globe, providing holidays that combine comfort and adventure. The operator, which serves the over-50s market, has launched its latest Escorted Tours brochure, with offerings in destinations from South America to China. All long-haul tours include a VIP door-to-door travel service and visa assistance, and all tours include multiple meals, optional travel insurance, and excursions and visits. Guests are looked after by a Saga Tour Manager, and there are all-inclusive options on many tours. What’s more, Saga offers dedicated solo traveller departure dates, plus departures from regional airports, meaning it’s easy to see the world regardless of who
14 January 2020
you’re travelling with or where you are travelling from. In 2020, guests can explore Sicily’s ancient past and archaeological delights or be enchanted by nature’s bounty on a Garden Route tour of South Africa. They can bask in the glitz of Los Angeles and San Francisco on a west coast tour of America, or perhaps an epic railway journey appeals, in which case Saga’s two new rail tours traversing China or New Zealand might be just the ticket. Saga is also offering a low deposit of £99pp when you book by January 31, 2020. Here’s a look at some of the new itineraries on offer.
The Garden Route and Beyond
From the West Coast National Park to the rugged landscape of the Cape Peninsula, discover South Africa’s Garden Route and beyond on this exciting new tour.
The Garden Route stretches for more than 200 kilometres along the country’s south coast and is famed for its natural beauty, coastal vistas, mountains, wildlife and flora. The itinerary, which is 14 nights from £2,499pp, begins with an overnight stay in Cape Town before guests head to Langebaan, a seaside town in the Western Cape province, where they spend a few nights exploring before travelling to Oudtshoorn, known for its ostrich farms and which is situated along the Route 62 wine route. Guests will continue to GraaffReinet, one of South Africa’s smallest towns, before visiting Knysna, home to a world-famous elephant sanctuary. In Arniston, guests take a morning tour of Cape Agulhas – Africa’s most southerly point, where the Atlantic and Indian Oceans meet and many ships have been wrecked.
The tour includes excursions and visits to the likes of the West Coast National Park, Cango Caves, Valley of Desolation and a Cape Peninsula tour and boat ride.
South America: Coast to Coast
This South America tour showcases the outstanding natural beauty and cultural treasures of Brazil, Argentina and Chile, offering a taste of the continent’s incredible cities and landscapes. The itinerary, which is 15 nights from £3,399pp, begins in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, where guests are afforded a few nights to enjoy the city’s beaches and bays, as well as the iconic Christ the Redeemer statue on the Corcovado Mountain in the Tijuca National Park, which overlooks the city. From here, guests will travel to Foz do Iguaçu, a city in the Brazilian state of Paraná and the main base for visiting the astounding Iguazu Falls, one of the world’s largest waterfalls. Gushing over the Argentinian border, these falls stretch for 2.7km and include the 80m-tall Devil’s Throat. The tour includes a ride aboard the Ecological Jungle Train. Guests are then treated to four nights in the fascinating city of Buenos Aires, where exceptional Malbec, steak and a tango performance await. There’s also a chance to explore Patagonia in Bariloche, an Argentinian town that borders Nahuel
Huapi, a large glacial lake surrounded by the Andes Mountains. If that wasn’t enough, the tour takes in Puerto Varas in southern Chile’s Lake District. The itinerary also includes a tour to the Olympic Boulevard, which hosted the 2016 Olympic Games, and Olympic Museum visit in Rio de Janeiro.
Ancient Wonders of Sicily
Journey from Sicily’s capital, Palermo, with its historic centre filled with Norman, Arabic and baroque treasures, to Catania, a city built on the remains of ancient Greek and Roman settlements, on this seven-day tour (from £799pp). The itinerary starts in Palermo, the capital of Sicily. Here, guests will find architecture that encompasses Arabic, baroque and art nouveau styles and get the chance to see the ornate Palermo Cathedral, one of the great sights of Norman Sicily. In Catania, visit the Archaeological Park where you can see the remains of temples, tombs, a Roman amphitheatre and one of the largest Greek theatres in existence. There’s also a chance to join optional excursions to Taormina and Mount Etna, the highest volcano in Europe. The itinerary includes a guided tour of Palermo, entrance to Monreale Cathedral, the Villa Romana del Casale and a guided walking tour of Syracuse and Ortygia.
Above left: Visit Chile’s Lake District on the South America Coast to Coast tour. Above: Discover natural wonders in Iceland
Wonders of Iceland
This tour offers a great introduction to Iceland, an island of incredible natural phenomena that can be enjoyed all year round. The itinerary – four nights from £1,099pp – begins in the country’s fascinating capital, Reykjavik, home to the National Museum and Saga Museum, which trace Iceland’s Viking history, and the iconic concrete Hallgrimskirkja church, before visiting the Golden Circle. The Golden Circle tour includes visits to Gullfoss Falls, Thingvellir National Park and Geysir hot spring area. There’s also the Kerid crater South coast tour that visits waterfalls, glaciers, a lagoon, ice caves and the black sand beach of Reynisfjara. Plus, guests will enjoy a Northern Lights excursion included on holidays departing October to March, when the natural phenomenon is visible. For more on Saga’s Escorted Tours programme, see sagaagents.co.uk
January 2020 15
Win a £4,000 UK tourism Titan Travel office opens voucher By Emily Eastman
By Emily Eastman Titan Travel has announced its New Year incentive campaign in which agents can win a £4,000 Titan holiday voucher. Running until February 29, the campaign will see every Titan booking qualifying as one entry and placed automatically into the prize draw. The more Titan holidays an agent books, the more chances they’ll have of winning. Last year’s winner, Caroline North, said: “I couldn’t believe it when Titan told me I’d won – £4,000 to spend on any of Titan’s tours was incredible! … I joined Titan’s small-group ‘Natural Wonders of Costa Rica’ tour in November. From start to finish it was so organised, the highly knowledgeable local guide and of course the Tour Manager looked after us so well. Thank you again for the opportunity Titan; we had lots of fun exploring this fascinating country!” There are also a number of lifestyle vouchers up for grabs, with agents receiving a £20 voucher for every long-haul booking secured over the campaign period and a £10 voucher for every short-haul booking. All holidays booked in January qualify for a low deposit of £99 per person. ABTAmag.com
The Taiwan Tourism Bureau has opened its first UK office in London to reinforce Taiwan’s relationship with the UK trade. It’s the bureau’s second European centre after Frankfurt. Director-general Joe Chou outlined its plans for this year at the December opening. He said: “We hope that the opening of the office in London will help travel agencies and tour operators work closely with Taiwan to develop a tailormade programme for UK visitors. “Under the Taiwan Tourism 2020 Plan, the bureau has initiated a theme-based promotion, covering different aspects of our tourism resources.” This year has been designated “Year of the Mountain”, with the bureau focusing on mountain tourism, including hiking, cycling and camping. The bureau has also announced plans to continue it works with the Pacific Asia Travel Association (Pata) to host UK-wide agent training events in March. Following 8 per cent year-on-year growth in UK visitors to Taiwan between January and October 2019, the country hopes to welcome 100,000 UK visitors this year. ABTAmag.com
BA to fly to San Sebastian By Emily Eastman British Airways is boosting its short-haul network this summer with a new route to San Sebastian in northern Spain’s mountainous Basque Country. The service, which will fly from London City Airport, will run twice weekly from July through to September. The new route means British Airways will serve five Spanish destinations direct from City Airport. In other network changes, the airline is reducing the frequency of flights to Geneva, Ibiza and Rotterdam from the London hub, while additional flights to Berlin, Florence, Glasgow, Manchester and Nice have been scheduled. The airline is also introducing a new summeronly weekly service from Glasgow to Palma. Beyond Europe, British Airways has announced it will begin operating five flights a week to Portland in the US from this summer.
Continued from page 13 the Caribbean region, the Pacific region, the Andean region. In Colombia, we have something that is unique: that is the Colombian people Our international tourism campaign is called “Feel the Rhythm”. We are country that has more than 1,000 rhythms. We want to sing to the world the reasons why coming to Colombia is a great and diverse experience – diverse in nature, diverse regions, diverse people. The growth is also down to [new] stability. And I will say we are very privileged with the geographic location and nature.
16 January 2020
Where do Brits visit? Brits go to the capital, Bogata. It has won an award for being the best place in South America for meetings. Second, they go to Medellin, which is recognised for its innovation – it’s the capital of innovation. It’s where we launched the Center for Latin America for the World Economic Forum. It’s also the City of Eternal Spring, with springtime weather all year round. There’s the coffee region too, Eje Cafetero, which is a very family-orientated destination, where you can see all the mountains and all the nature. After that,
[British tourists go to] Cartagena. It’s a historic place and a very beautiful place. British tourists are also very much interested in birdwatching, and Colombia is a very fun destination for that.
Save on over 350 tours for a limited time.
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Just a few of the Tours on Offer: Essential China 21 Days | Beijing to Hong Kong Was £2,099. Now from £1,574. • Walk the Great Wall and explore the Forbidden City • Stand face-to-face with Terracotta Warriors • Ride a bamboo raft through Yangshuo’s karst landscape Essential Vietnam & Cambodia 17 Days | Hanoi to Bangkok Was £1,399. Now from £1,189. • Sail on a junk boat through Halong Bay • Float through the Mekong Delta • Enjoy sunrise over breathtaking Angkor Wat
Costa Rica Adventure 16 Days | San José to San José Was £1,119. Now from £1,007. • Spot wildlife while cruising through the canals of Tortuguero • Hike through the cloud forest • Enjoy the gorgeous beaches of the Pacific and Caribbean coasts
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The sale ends 31 January so don’t wait to get your customers booked!
24/7 Agent Hotline UK: 0344 272 2200 Ireland: 01 6971360 gadventures.com/travel-deals
Terms and Conditions Eligible passengers shall receive 10-25% off per person on guaranteed departures of select small-group tours, for select departure dates as indicated on our website. Must be booked by 31 January, 2020 at 23:59 EST for travel departing by 31 October, 2020. Valid for new bookings only and must quote promo code G20GAV010ADV01GLUS for 10% off, promo code G20GAV015ADV01GL for 15% off, promo code G20GAV020ADV01GLUS, for 20% off, and promo code G20GAV025ADV01GLUS for 25% off. Bookings must be made by calling G Adventures, visiting gadventures.com, or by contacting your local travel agent. Cannot be combined with any other offers, promotions or discounts and is subject to availability. Does not apply to private groups, Independent trips, pre- or post-tour accommodation, insurance, airfare not included in the itinerary, upgrades, extras, “My Own Room” or “My Own Tent, ” transfers, theme packs, or other in-country or on-board services. G Adventures reserves the right to withdraw this offer from sale at any time without prior notice. Any refunds made with respect to products booked under this promotion shall be issued at the discounted rate. G Adventures reserves the right to cancel any booking due to unauthorized, altered, ineligible, or fraudulent use of discount. G Adventures is not responsible for technical or system errors that may interfere with or otherwise prohibit the use of the promotion. All G Adventures tours are subject to G Adventures’ full booking conditions, found here: gadventures.com/terms
Out and about Pictures from the latest travel industry events 1-3. Agents join Saga for the UK National Contact Centre Awards at Leas Cliff Hall in Folkestone. 4. The Colorado Tourism Office trains agents from companies including Trailfinders and American Sky at The Grayson in Dublin. Between November 18 and 22, 2019, Black Diamond welcomed the Colorado Tourism Office UK & Ireland Sales Mission with a delegation of seven representatives from across the state. Throughout the course of the week, delegates engaged with key travel agents, product managers, and travel and lifestyle media in London, Dublin and Glasgow. Activities included a cooking class with product managers in London, a travel agent training evening in Dublin and one-on-one training sessions with agents in Glasgow. The week concluded with tickets to see Denver-based band The Lumineers in Glasgow, with agents from Barrhead Travel and If Only Travel. 5. Agents join Carnival Cruise Line at the Clia Cruise Forum & Winter Ball in the Cotswolds.
4 18 January 2020
6. Setouchi Tourism Authority and Kyushu Tourism Promotion Organization host a weeklong fam trip to Japan for four lucky agents who won places on the excursion after signing up to the Setouchi Training Platform. Winners came from Barrhead, Travel Counsellors, Travel 2 and Moran Travel. 7. Travel agents from Hayes & Jarvis, ITC Travel and Luxtripper visit a number of islands and take part in traditional activities on a fam trip to Tahiti. 8. Waterfront Publishingâ€™s Sam Ballard and Anthony Pearce (far left) join the likes of Intrepid Travel and Polar Routes on a sailing with Aurora Expeditions in Antarctica (see p48 for more).
Send your travel industry pictures to info@ABTAmag.com and weâ€™ll print the best
January 2020 19
Interview James Howlett
James Howlett Head of sales, Collette Sam Ballard hears the tour operator’s plans for relaunching in the UK with trade support
n 2018, Collette, the 100-year-old American tour operator, which had had a foothold in the UK for years, lost the Thomas Cook contract and subsequently pulled out of the UK. The move surprised many. In the US, Collette is one of the biggest names in group touring and many thought that it was an easy sell to UK consumers. The company has now appointed Fred Olsen Travel to be its UK general sales agent (GSA). Fred, in turn, has appointed James Howlett to lead the sales operation. Howlett, who joined Fred Olsen from luxury river operator Uniworld, previously worked at Collette.
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We sat down together to hear his plans for relaunching Collette in the UK and what he’s got in store for getting the trade on side. WHAT’S THE PLAN TO TAKE COLLETTE FORWARD? We’re a small team – it’s me, Bryony, Kirsty and Lawrence Peachey, who has worked at Fred Travel for seven years. He’ll go and visit every single agent in the UK and get the word out there. The great thing is that he will see a lot of travel agents, the downside is that if he sees a travel agent tomorrow, he might not see them for a year. With the Collette
business, we are growing it from scratch, but we will also grow the Fred Holiday business as well. That’s where we’ve been selecting key partners and those we want to support – and building in plans with them. WHAT IS UNIQUE ABOUT COLLETTE? The biggest USP we have is our tour managers. They are very experienced in their areas – they are experts. A lot of companies have great tour guides but some of ours have been with the business for 30 or 40 years. Then there’s the longevity of our business – we’re 100 years old.
WHAT AREAS DO YOU SPECIALISE IN? For me, it’s North America. Collette is a North American business – the guy who started it was called Jack Collette, who used to take a 12-seater bus down the east coast of America from Boston to Florida. It’s still a big focus for us: the Canadian Rockies, National Parks of America, New England – then going into Central America, Costa Rica is the most popular tour we’ve got by far.
the same demographic – it’s those people who like visiting villages and towns. It’s the 60-plus market and probably retired. They’re culturally interested but perhaps don’t have the confidence to do it themselves.
HOW LUXURIOUS IS COLLETTE? It’s comfortably four or five-star. I was once told that our hotels aren’t centrally located, they’re strategically located. If you’re going to Lake Louise, which isn’t near anything, you want to stay in the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise, whereas if you’re going to Costa Rica, you don’t want to be staying in San José, you want to be in the national parks. So it depends on the tour – we’ll always do what’s best.
WHAT IS THE MESSAGE FOR THE UK TRADE? We’re rebuilding. A lot of the conversations I’m having are with people saying that they didn’t know they could even book Collette. It’s also getting trade confidence back through Fred Travel. It’s very similar to Star Clippers, for which Fred Travel is also the GSA. People know Star Clippers and they know Fred Travel, but they don’t necessarily associate the two. That’s the situation we want to be in with Collette. It’s all about getting that confidence back with the trade and working with them closer than Collette ever has before.
WHICH DEMOGRAPHIC IS MOST SUITED TO YOUR TOURS? It’s very similar to river cruising. You have
WILL YOU BE DOING EVENTS OR FAM TRIPS? When I was at Collette previously we
never did a UK fam trip – we’re planning on doing four in 2020. We’re going to do more fam trips, more events. We’ll be taking some of the things that were really successful with Uniworld, like taking agents to Paris for the day and having dinner on board the river ship we charter, which belongs to Amadeus River Cruises. We’ve also got concessions for agents now. If agents want to do their own trip they will get 50 per cent off the Collette tour and 30 per cent off for their partner. WHERE SHOULD AGENTS GO IF THEY WANT TO KNOW MORE? We’ve got a travel agent portal where agents can register. In doing so, they’ll gain access to digital brochures and point of sale materials – and they can reach out to the team, too. If they’ve got consumer events, or if they want to do joint marketing, or if they have a database they want contacting, we can support them with all of that. That support wasn’t necessarily there before. We’ve now got the tools and we can work with agents a lot more.
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Five of the best: new hotels opening in 2020 ARCTIC BATH, SWEDEN Resembling something between a bird’s nest and a birthday cake, the Arctic Bath’s spa centre is one of the most striking designs we’ve seen. It either floats or is frozen in the waters of the Lule River, depending on the time of year. The hotel itself, in Swedish Lapland, draws heavily on Scandinavian design and uses sustainable materials. There are 12 cabins to stay in – either on land or in the water. You will find a 62 square metre cabin for five elevated on poles and situated among vegetation, and a 24 square metre double hotel room in a cabin connected to the shore by a floating walkway.
ARTIST RESIDENCE, BRISTOL The Artist Residence in Brighton has been one of the south-coast city’s best hotels since opening a decade ago. After openings in Penzance, Oxford and London, the boutique brand – launched by couple Justin and Charlotte Salisbury – is now heading to Bristol’s St Pauls district. They will restore a dilapidated Grade I-listed building to provide 23 bedrooms, a bar, café and the Boot Factory restaurant.
BULGARI, PARIS Bulgari, which has opulent hotels in London, Milan, Bali, Dubai, Beijing and Shanghai, seems a good fit for Paris. Located on the beautiful Avenue George V, this hotel will feature 76 rooms, a spa, restaurant, and an 25m pool. The building has been revamped by Italian architects Antonio Citterio Patricia Viel and Parisian firm Valode & Pistre.
THE LONDONER, LONDON It’s going to be a bumper year for the London hotel scene: 65 new hotels with 8,000 rooms are due to open in the capital in 2020. We like the look of The Londoner, Leicester Square. Described as a ‘super boutique hotel’ and known as the Icebeg, the property, but Edwardian Hotels, will have 350 rooms across its 16 storeys, including subterranean levels.
BAI SAN HO, VIETNAM Zannier hotels’ Bai San Ho will open in the unspoilt Phu Yen province for its first venture in Vietnam. Spread over 98 hectares of garden close to Quy Nhon, it will have a kilometre-long beach featuring 71 villas, of which more than half will have private plunge pools. The hotel will also have three restaurants and two bars.
22 January 2020
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All the latest reports, comment, campaigns and events from ABTA – The Travel Association
ABTA welcomes EasyJet Holidays as a member
The carrier, which took 20 million people on holiday last year, contracts 5,000 hotels By Sam Ballard EasyJet has relaunched EasyJet Holidays and joined ABTA as it looks to become a major player in the UK holiday market.The relaunched holiday business, which was previously outsourced, will offer hotels in more than 100 destinations and include 23kg of hold luggage. The carrier took 20 million people on holiday last year, although only half a million of those were an EasyJet Holidays customer. EasyJet Holidays is now contracting hotels for the first time. The beach collection includes hotels that are split between luxury, adult, family and undiscovered. City hotels are either
24 January 2020
boutique or luxury. Overall there are more than 5,000 hotels available. The launch has been boosted by a national TV advertising campaign. ABTA’s Victoria Bacon said: “ABTA welcomes EasyJet Holidays as a new member as it launches its new business in the UK. It is an exciting time in the run-up to peak booking season for the year ahead, and the launch will provide customers with greater choice in the market. “By being a member, EasyJet Holidays customers will benefit from ABTA’s expert assistance and high standards through its Code of Conduct. The ABTA logo gives customers confidence in the holiday products they buy from members who see it as a badge that they can trust”.
When asked about working with the trade, Garry Wilson, CEO of EasyJet Holidays, told ABTA Magazine: “When we said we were going to launch the business 18 months ago, we said that we would be open to working with the trade. From a technology perspective, that’s something we can quickly develop. We are open to the trade and can see the benefit of working with them. It’s incremental customers that we don’t have at the moment and a huge regional spread. “What’s important to us is that we must absolutely ensure that any costs we have in the business are necessary, and not unnecessarily passed on to the customer. Therefore, if we are to have a relationship with the trade, it has to be in the ethos of EasyJet: a very, very simple structure. That’s in terms of how we manage that relationship, a simple account manager structure and very simple terms. It’s on that basis that we’re engaging with a number of trade partners. “We’ve taken on Si Morris-Green and he’s engaging with a number of partners and options – as soon as he’s managed to find the right structure for us and the trade, we’ll be ready to announce it. And the sooner the better for us.” EasyJet Holidays will work through the existing EasyJet website and app, meaning that the company can capitalise on
the huge traffic volumes that both platforms currently enjoy. The website will also feature TripAdvisor reviews of hotels. ABTA.com
ABTA launches animal welfare guidelines Don’t miss Animal Welfare inTourism, March 12, London
By Sam Ballard ABTA has launched the second edition of its Animal Welfare Guidelines after a comprehensive stakeholder review. The new updates include revised basic welfare requirements and unacceptable behaviours, while making the guidelines simpler and easier to understand. ABTA’s latest Holiday Habits research revealed that twothirds of people said they have concerns about the wider effects of tourism and how animals are treated. Viewing or interacting with animals is popular with holidaymakers, as well as being an important attraction for local communities. These need to be managed in the right way to safeguard the welfare of animals.
ABTA’s first edition of its Animal Welfare Guidelines launched in 2013, with the aim of providing guidance for ABTA member companies and their suppliers throughout the world and helping to raise standards. The revisions to these have been developed through ABTA’s Animal Welfare Working Group and a multi-stakeholder consultation process involving industry experts, scientists, zoologist organisations, associations and non-governmental organisations from around the world as part of ABTA’s commitment to raising standards in animal welfare and its role in providing advice to members. ABTA.com Read an opinion piece by Clare Jenkinson, ABTA’s senior destinations and sustainability manager, on p21
January 2020 25
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
After recent terrorist attacks my staff have reported concerns about travelling in the UK and overseas. Is there any training or advice I can provide to reassure them and advise on what to do if they are ever caught up in an incident?
Sadly, incidents of this nature do occur both at home and overseas and can make people nervous, particularly if they feel ill-equipped to know what to do if a situation were to occur. We would advise businesses to include specific information and actions to take in relation to counterterrorism within their emergency and business continuity plans. Staff should be briefed on the procedures and encouraged to ask questions, as well as provided with counter-terrorism awareness training. ABTA has for many years worked with the National Counter Terrorism Security Office (NaCTSO) and the Metropolitan Police on counter-terrorism awareness training and other initiatives for use by ABTA members. These include: • An Introduction to CT Awareness eLearning tool, designed to help people understand what to look out for, how to identify suspicious behaviour and what to do in the event of a terrorism incident. The eLearning tool can be accessed by members within the ABTA knowledge zone, abtaknowledgezone.co.uk/login. • Health & Safety Z-Cards for customers and staff that incorporate “Run, Hide, Tell” messaging – www.abta.com/ tips-and-advice/staying-safe-on-holiday. • Protect and prepare training workshops. Your staff should be encouraged to undertake the Introduction to CT Awareness eLearning training and download a copy of the ABTA Health & Safety Z-Card. Staff and customers should also be encouraged to familiarise themselves with the Foreign & Commonwealth Office travel advice for the countries they are visiting, as this advice provides the most up-to-date safety and security information, including areas that are restricted to travel, threat levels and other key information. On a general note, we all have a role to play, as Action Counters Terrorism – be vigilant and if you or your staff see any suspicious behaviour or items, no matter how small, report it to act.campaign.gov.uk or call 0800 789 321.
Angie Hills Senior ABTA destinations manager – health, safety, crisis & operations
Got a question? Email: info@ABTAmag.com 26 January 2020
ABTA comment New guidelines to raise standards on animal welfare
ith two-thirds of holidaymakers saying they are concerned about how animals are treated on their holiday, animal welfare is without doubt an important topic â€“ and one on which ABTA members have proudly led the way before and since the first edition of our guidelines were launched in 2013. The September issue of ABTA Magazine announced that ABTA would be updating its animal welfare guidelines, and since then the second edition of the guidelines has been launched for members and their suppliers. It is available now at the Member Zone of abta.com. After a comprehensive consultation process involving ABTAâ€™s Animal Welfare Working Group, as well as industry experts, scientists, zoologist associations and NGOs from around the world, the new updates take into account the latest evidence. Building on the extended Five Domains model of animal welfare, the new edition includes revised basic welfare requirements and unacceptable behaviours. Importantly, too, alongside the guidelines is a new voluntary commitment for ABTA members. ABTA is encouraging members to implement the guidelines by working with their suppliers to meet basic welfare requirements and move away from or not offer unacceptable practices. ABTA is aware that no longer selling an attraction does not simply mean that animal welfare issues go away and that working with suppliers to transition away from unacceptable practices can take time. The revised unacceptable practices include, for example, tourist contact or feeding of great apes, bears, crocodiles or alligators, elephants without a barrier, orca and sloths, as well as contact, feeding and walking with wild cats.
The guidelines include a new section on Food and Animal Welfare, while Management of Stray Animals and Developing an Animal Welfare Approach have also been added. Meanwhile, to avoid any delay to the launch of the new guidelines, the Dolphins in Captive Environments manual is still under review while further consultation considers ongoing developments and research. The welfare of animals in tourist attractions continues to be a priority for ABTA and its members and, with these latest guidelines, the industry can implement animal welfare approaches that reflect the latest evidence and work in partnership with suppliers to raise standards further. For those interested in learning more, a seminar on Animal Welfare in Tourism will be held on March 12, 2020 in central London. For more information on this please visit abta.com/ abtaevents or email email@example.com.
Senior destinations and sustainability manager
January January 2020 27
ABTA campaigns Travel with Confidence in 2020 By Emily Eastman ABTA has launched its annual Travel with Confidence nationwide campaign to support members as they enter the most important booking period of the year. The campaign, which launched on December 16, runs until the end of January with adverts on national radio, plus animations and videos on social media and elsewhere online. Two radio adverts are playing on Capital, Heart, Classic and Sunrise. One encourages people to look for the ABTA logo when making a booking, while the other aims to reassure customers in the run-up to the January 31 Brexit deadline. The stations were chosen for their broad listener demographics, with Capital targeting 18 to 31-year-olds, Heart the family market and Classic the over-55s, while Sunrise reaches the Asian market. On social media, 15-second stories went live after the festive season, and influencers are getting involved to promote ABTA and its members. Meanwhile, ABTA’s “Trusted Travel Professional” video is being advertised on YouTube. For members focused on selling business travel, ABTA is running tailored online ads on major booking platforms.
Victoria Bacon, ABTA’s director of brand and business development, said: “Consumer confidence is essential to maintain healthy bookings, particularly in the run-up to the Brexit deadline at the end of January, and I strongly encourage members to display the ABTA logo prominently, especially in any campaigns, to tap into its resonance with consumers.” Research last year found that 78 per cent of people felt more confident when booking with an ABTA member. ABTA.com
Hit the slopes with travel insurance By Emily Eastman As ABTA research reveals that more than 3.5 million British adults have gone on a winter sports holiday without insurance, the association has partnered with the FCO and the Ski Club of Great Britain to provide tips and encourage people to take out appropriate cover before they travel. ABTA members reported more than 200 significant injuries in the last ski season, but ABTA believes that the total number of unreported incidents, including collisions and falls on the slopes, could be much higher.
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The research found that one in eight 25 to 34-year-olds who have been on a winter sports holiday have travelled with someone who’s had a major injury on the slopes requiring hospital treatment. Six per cent have had a major accident themselves. An ABTA spokesperson said: “It’s really important that people take out an insurance policy that covers them for all the activities they plan to do on holiday, as well as getting themselves ski-fit beforehand, so they can focus on having an enjoyable and safe trip.” Visit abta. com/skisafe for advice on how to stay safe in the snow. ABTA.com
Events February 26, London Email Marketing in Travel This practical and interactive one-day course, delivered in partnership with email experts Pure360, is ideal for travel marketers who would like a better understanding of how to create and target effective email marketing campaigns.
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
March 10, London
March 10-11, London
March 17, London
School Travel Seminar Specialist school travel providers and mainstream operators that deliver school trips and educational travel as part of their portfolios can use this one-day seminar to learn how to improve their product offering and explore the key trends in this sector.
Travel Finance Conference This two-day conference is the travel industry’s biggest finance event, providing a complete update on all the finance issues facing the travel industry – including the latest accounting, tax and regulatory issues.
PR in Travel Conference Bringing together senior travel PR, marketing and communication professionals from brands and agencies, this one-day conference offers expert guidance on the changing media landscape and the latest challenges and opportunities in travel PR.
March 19, Manchester
March 24, London
March 25, London
UK Domestic Market Conference and Travel Brit Awards Hear keynote sessions, panel debates and take part in interactive workshops to inform your domestic sales strategies, followed by an evening of entertainment at the Travel Brit Awards.
Instagram for Travel Do you know how to optimise your paid, organic and influencer activity across Instagram? This practical one-day seminar will provide tailored advice for travel businesses, large and small, to develop an Instagram strategy.
Crisis Management in Travel Conference From natural disasters to illness outbreaks, terrorist attacks, airline insolvency and tour operator failures, dealing effectively with a crisis situation comes down to preparedness. Are you prepared?
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Business travel Travel New business trends 2020 class seats
Five business travel trends for 2020 Business Travel Report With a new decade stretching ahead, here are some of the key trends set to shape and define the future of the travel industry
e are officially entering a new decade, so what can we expect from the year ahead? After a year of poor performance, the global economy is expected to grow 3.4 per cent in 2020, according to the International Monetary Fund, although advanced countries can only expect 1.7 per cent growth. The Financial Times says: “So far the evidence suggests the slide in the global economy is coming to an end, but the pace of recovery is still expected to be weak.” Recession, hopefully, will be kept at bay. With social and environmental responsibility now hard to ignore, more and more companies are going to be looking at the way they operate, who they affiliate with and how they travel. After a general election in Britain, the US will be deciding whether or not to keep President Trump in power this coming autumn, while its trade war with China rumbles on. With another year of change – but perhaps no concrete answers – ahead, “uncertainty” needs to be something businesses accept as the new normal.
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1. FLIGHT SHAME After decades of arrogance and apathy, the public fear of an impending climate crisis is having a very real effect on the travel industry. According to Swiss bank UBS, the Swedish term “flygskam”, which translates as “flight shame”, could halve air traffic growth in the years ahead as people reduce the number of trips they take by plane. Although business travel will continue, there will be far greater pressure on companies to fly only when absolutely necessary, while greener alternatives such as train travel will become more popular. Carbon offsetting will also take off, with airlines such as EasyJet, British Airways and Air France attempting to alleviate concerns about harmful emissions by investing in forest conservation and renewable energy projects.
by Jenny Southan, business travel editor
2. DIGITAL CURRENCIES Everyone’s heard of bitcoin but did you know there are about 3,000 different cryptocurrencies being traded around the world? There are high-value ones such as Ethereum, XRP and Litecoin, and
there are fake ones such as OneCoin, which a BBC Sounds documentary titled The Missing Cryptoqueen revealed as not being based on a blockchain, meaning it is illegitimate and untrustworthy, despite millions of people around the world investing billions of dollars in it. Digital currencies are complex, intriguing, controversial – and are not going away. In 2020, Facebook wants to launch its own cryptocurrency called Libra, although criticisms of it from central bankers and world leaders mean it might not manage to. In the meantime, a rising number of future-facing travel companies such as travel management firm Corporate Traveller are accepting bitcoin payments, indicating a shift towards a cash-free culture. 3. FACIAL RECOGNITION Another sci-fi tech innovation that will be entering the mainstream this year is facial recognition. Airports and airlines such as Heathrow, Gatwick, BA and Delta have already been installing it as a way of replacing passport and boarding pass checks, and now we are seeing it appearing in hotels as a way of bypassing check-in queues. In Singapore, the Ascott Orchard, Swissotel The Stamford and Grand Park City Hall are all plugging into a new E-Visitor Authentication initiative
Don’t miss Travel Finance Conference March 10-11, London www.abta.com/events/ travel-finance-conference
The headlines EasyJet to offset all carbon emissions from 2020
EasyJet will begin offsetting all its carbon emissions from fuel from the start of 2020. Although the endeavour is estimated to cost the airline about £25 million a year, it says it won’t be passing the cost on to passengers. The Gold Standard and Verified Carbon Standard offsetting projects will be considered an interim measure until new hybrid and electric planes become viable.
Virgin Atlantic announces routes for new A350 aircraft
Virgin Atlantic will start flying its new A3501000 planes in 2020, from London Heathrow to Johannesburg in March, Los Angeles from April, San Francisco from May and Lagos from August. The aircraft made its debut in the airline’s fleet in September 2019 on the Heathrow–New York JFK route. By 2021, Virgin will have 12 of the aircraft in total, all fitted with a new Upper Class product.
Hoxton hotels introduces flexible check-in/out times
Guests staying at Hoxton hotels around the world can now check in and out whenever they like for free, so long as they book their slot online 72 hours in advance. The new web functionality provides customers with a drop-down menu of available times between midnight on the day of arrival and midnight on the day of departure.
BA to complete roll out of new Club Suite by 2025
British Airways says that it wants to have completed the roll out of its new business class Club Suite product across all long-haul aircraft based out of Heathrow by 2025, with 90 per cent of such planes having it by 2023. By the end of 2019, about five per cent of its Heathrow planes (four new A350s and two retrofitted B777-200s) featured the seat, which comes with a sliding door for privacy.
Prague airport to double capacity by 2035
Prague’s Václav Havel Airport has announced it will be launching a series of initiatives to double the number of passengers it can accommodate on an annual basis from almost 17 million in 2018 to more than 30 million by 2035. Among the short, medium and long-terms plans are a new runway, a reconfigured aircraft stand at Terminal 1 and an expanded Terminal 2.
January 2020 31
New business trends 2020 class seats Business travel Travel
that uses facial recognition technology to authenticate guests’ identities. In China, facial recognition is already being embraced with gusto by authorities, and hotels such as Alibaba’s FlyZoo in Hangzhou, where you can pay for food and open doors with a smile, are a sign of what’s to come. 4. 5G CONNECTIVITY Another proof that we really are living in the future is the arrival of hyper-fast 5G mobile connectivity. It’s not going to be a bit better than 4G – it’s going to be a lot better. Capable of downloading films in seconds rather than minutes, for example, the speed at which it will be able to process data will open up new possibilities for businesses and societies, whereby not only are our smartphones linked to the internet but also to our fridges, cars, homes, offices and streets. In the UK, EE, Vodafone, Three and O2 have all started rolling out 5G, along with networks in the US and South Korea. Meanwhile, Beijing’s new Daxing Airport – the biggest in the
world – is using 5G to power its facial recognition system. 5. GENERATION Z If you have thought that the average age of people in airport lounges has gone down, you’re right. Millennials have had their moment, and many are now approaching 40. In 2020, a new generation of travellers will be coming of age (the oldest will be 25 this year) and entering the job market. According to FCM Travel Solutions, the value of Generation Z (born 1995–2000) to the global travel industry is estimated to be US$200 billion. They have a very different mindset and approach to travel, so travel companies will need to wise up fast to how these “digital natives” operate. ABTAmag.com To learn more about the travel habits and motivations of Generation Z, download the Gen Z Horizons report produced by travel trend forecasting agency Globetrender in association with YouthSight at globetrender.com/ gen-z-horizons-report
Five new business hotels for 2020 1. Hotel Brooklyn, Manchester Located in a Victorian brownstone building, the 189-room Hotel Brooklyn has been inspired by the New York borough of Brooklyn and will open in February. 2. citizenM Washington DC Capitol Opening in July (in time for the next US election), this 252-room hotel will have eight spacious meeting rooms, a rooftop bar and an outdoor terrace. 3. Tokyo Edition, Toranomon Debuting in the summer, Marriott International’s 206-room Tokyo Edition hotel will be part of a mixed-use project bringing together offices, residences and a medical centre. 4. The Londoner, London This 16-floor hotel will have 350 rooms and suites, plus two screening rooms, various bars and restaurants, a rooftop terrace and a ballroom. It will open in Leicester Square in June. 5. The Westbund, Shanghai Also coming in 2020 is Rocco Forte’s Westbund hotel, which will occupy the highest levels of the West Bund’s newest tower. It will feature 219 rooms, a spa and an al fresco bar on the 52nd floor.
32 January 2020
Image: © Serge Marizy - STB
The Seychelles Islands... another world Image: © Torsten Dickmann - STB
Image: © Torsten Dickmann - STB
Seychelles Tourist Ofﬁce - UK & Ireland Ground Floor, 130-132 Buckingham Palace Road, London SW1W 9SA Tel: +44 (0) 207 730 0700 firstname.lastname@example.org www.seychelles.travel
Image: © Gerard Larose - STB
Savour Slovenia Within enchanting Ljubljana exists an accolade-winning food and drinks scene that expertly combines tradition with contemporary influences One of the greenest and most picturesque cities in Europe, Ljubljana is also among the best to eat in. The capital of Slovenia boasts an extraordinary culinary offering, combining traditional recipes and locally grown organic food with the influence of the Mediterranean and the innovations of resident chefs. Slovenia has been named the European Region of Gastronomy for 2021, providing further proof of the great culinary strides made by the country and its capital in the past few years. Here we look at some of the reasons Ljubljana should be on every foodie’s radar.
Diversity of flavour
The cuisine of Slovenia has always been incredibly diverse. Bordered by Italy, Austria, Hungary and Croatia, the country sits at the crossroads of different culinary worlds. Although tiny in size (it is about
34 January 2020
12 times smaller than the UK), Slovenia has a unique geography, with forests, mountains and beaches, and a climate ranging from continental to alpine and sub-Mediterranean. Visitors will therefore find culinary influences from Mediterranean, Pannonian, Alpine and Balkan cuisines, resulting in a melting pot of delicious dishes.
The country has several programmes designed to promote its culinary history. Restaurants in the city will proudly display badges for Taste Ljubljana, where the traditional dishes of the capital are prepared using modern cooking methods; Taste Central Slovenia; and Gostilna Slovenija, top-quality regional dishes served in authentic local restaurants. Famous dishes include kranjska klobasa (Carniolan sausage), the best-
known Slovenian speciality; kraški pršut (Kras prosciutto), a dry-cured pork leg; prekmurska gibanica (Prekmurje layered cake), a moist dessert consisting of layers of poppy seed, cottage cheese, walnut and apple filling; and potica, a yeast-dough cake with a variety of filling options which is the most typical Slovenian dessert. With its relaxed atmosphere and excellent climate, Ljubljana has a distinctly Mediterranean feel, making it a fantastic place to sit and eat. You will find an abundance of outdoor cafés, especially near the banks of the river Ljubljanica. Head to the outskirts of the city to experience rural gostilnas (traditional restaurants) and farms that tourists can visit. One great option is a Taste Ljubljana food tour where guests are able to sample local delicacies and visit Ljubljana Central Market, as well as the vegetable gardens found in the Krakovo area of Ljubljana.
A world of wine and beer
Slovene wine has seen its stock rise dramatically in recent years. At the 2019 Decanter World Wine Awards, four wines from Slovenia received Platinum medals and four received Gold medals. Although the country mostly produces white wine, Slovenia has three wine-growing regions with 14 wine-growing districts producing wines ranging from white to red, fullbodied to light, dry to sweet. Ljubljana, sometimes called “the city of vine and wine” thanks to its location between wine-growing regions of the Mediterranean, Karst and the Alps, is a great place to sample wines from the Podravje, Posavje and Primorska regions. On the Ljubljana Wine Experience visitors can learn more about these wines and enjoy them in the company of local wine connoisseurs. It also includes a visit to Ljubljana Castle, where guests can take a look at a descendant of the world’s oldest vine (from the Lent embankment area in Maribor) and take a walk through the castle vineyard. Ljubljana also has a very long tradition of brewing that guests can learn about while tasting various local beers on Ljubljana Beer Experience.
that have been grown in suburban gardens. There’s no better place to experience this food culture than in the city’s markets. Let’s Meet at the Market, the newest Ljubljana Tourism experience, immerses visitors into Ljubljana’s vibrant central market, which was designed by architect Jože Plečnik, one of the giants of 20th-century European architecture. Visitors join a knowledgeable guide, who shares the history of the market. They are then treated to the Ljubljana Breakfast, prepared from ingredients that they learned about at the market.
Above left: Chef Jorg Zupan at Ljubljana’s central market; Above: Kranjska sausage; Below: Slovenian wine (Matevž Kostnjšek)
Locally sourced ingredients are the cornerstone of Slovenian food and, in Ljubljana, visitors will enjoy meat sourced from Central Slovenia and, often, vegetables
January 2020 35
Spotlight on Gold Title Medal & Travel 2
Gold Medal & Travel 2 The trade-only company has an impressive product portfolio, but, as Sam Ballard learns, it’s the people who really make the business
hen it comes to breadth and depth of offering, few companies can compete with Gold Medal and Travel 2. The companies, which are part of the Emirates-based dnata Group, have access to a product portfolio that is so vast it could make your head spin: more than 300,000 hotels, 130 scheduled airlines, 88 touring companies and 46 cruise lines. That means there are virtually unlimited opportunities when it comes to dynamically packaging. The company, which is trade only, has built its business on the weight of that product mix. However, that’s not to say that it’s the company’s biggest asset, at least according to the woman leading the firm. “Everything we do is about people,” explains Lisa McAuley, managing director, dnata Travel B2B Europe. “The breadth of the product definitely helps, but first and foremost it’s the personal relationships that our individual reservation agents have with the trade.” Indeed, what is striking about both Gold Medal and Travel 2 are those long-
36 January 2020
standing relationships that travel agents have with one brand – often exclusively. Put another way: often agents use either Gold Medal or they use Travel 2, but rarely will they use both. That dynamic comes from the individual company histories. Travel 2 was bought from Stella Travel, while Gold Medal was acquired from Thomas Cook. Both came under the dnata umbrella about five years ago but have been building customer bases for far longer. According to McAuley and Nick Hughes, the company’s sales director, there are agents who have been booking Travel 2 for almost 30 years. On the other side, the experience of the reservation agents is also staggering; in Hughes’s first 12 months with the company, two members of the reservations team earned their 30-year service awards. Given that dnata has two trade-only companies – that combine shared resources (product, commercial and sales) as well as their own specialised teams (reservations and marketing) – the question of
consolidation is an obvious one. However, it is immediately batted away. “People often ask why we don’t merge and the answer is that, if we did, we would lose some agents,” McAuley says. “One and one would not make two. My fear would be that it would make one and a half. “Research shows us that agents will make three calls to operators when pricing up a holiday. Given that we’ve got two of the leading suppliers we know that we’ve got two bites of the cherry. If we reduced it to one brand then we would open the door to another competitor coming in.” With the prospect of Gold Medal and Travel 2 being reduced to one brand taken off the table, it makes the efforts of Hughes’s sales team even more impressive – not to mention the investment they put into cultivating bookings. “We take agents on more fam trips than any other operator,” says Hughes. “We typically take about 350 agents on fams every year; in 2019 we did 380. More than ever.” Those fam trips represent a huge investment on behalf of both brands. For
Pictured: Sam Ballard (right) sits down to chat with Lisa McAuley, managing director, dnata Travel B2B Europe, and dnata sales director Nick Hughes
ABTA’s Travel Convention in Japan that meant bringing groups out for both preand post-convention fam trips – part of an attempt to boost bookings to a region that is already seeing remarkable growth. The company’s Japan bookings are up 128 per cent on the last financial year. “It’s all about supplying agents with the tools they need to make bookings,” Hughes adds. “With Japan what we’re doing is monitoring our return on investment – we’re getting sales figures as we’ve been feeding agents offers – then it’s giving them the tools they need to increase business.” When it comes to investments in fam trips, little can compare to Gold Medal’s now legendary Mega Fam. The concept sees four separate fams of ten agents – which all meet up for a grand finale. This year’s Mega Fam saw agents visit Utah and California before heading to Las Vegas. While there, agents presented what they’d learnt during their trip. But, as destination immersion is key, in the evening they were hosted in Hakkasan nightclub in an area so exclusive that a bouncer had to escort them to their own private toilets. The concept has proved so popular that Travel 2’s Cruise Plus brand introduced its own Mega Fam this year. Do fam trips work? “One hundred per cent,” McAuley answers. “I absolutely endorse them. But there needs to be a balance of hotel visits and destination immersion. Take Japan as an example. It’s not a destination to fit in five hotel visits in one day – it’s all about experiencing the destination and experiencing the culture. However, with somewhere like Dubai, the property is a really important part of the destination so agents do want to see those hotels. “We tailor each fam and scope what the destination has to offer and what the agent needs to know to sell the destination.” When it comes to investment in its offering, however, fam trips are only the
beginning. The company has invested money in new documents, which is a direct result of agent feedback. The roll-out of the new documents will be staggered to Gold Medal first and then Travel 2 and will “be smart and slick to match the service we give”, according to Hughes. The technology is another area where the company is looking to make improvements. Both luxury brands will have their own websites where bookings can be made, while improvements will also be made to Gold Medal and Travel 2’s website. However, McAuley is quick to point out that she is not looking to change the overall channel mix – and the reservation agents will always be central to the company’s offering. “We don’t transact a huge amount online – and I’m not looking for that – people buy people and our reservation agents will always be key to that,” she explains. Another interesting development that fits with that ethos is the amount of business that the company is doing outside of normal office hours, a direct result of the rise of homeworkers. “We’ve got an out-of-hours business from when our call centres close – from
7pm to 9am – and the amount of business we do in those hours is significant, driven by homeworkers.” Hughes says. “You can’t just work between nine and five now – those days are long gone.” Facilitating that change has meant buying 21 laptops for the reservations team to take home so that they can be on call. Now, the company does most of its bookings between 8pm and 10pm. “It’s when homeworkers have put the kids to bed and are fulfilling bookings,” says Hughes. All of this fits in with the company’s ethos. Fundamentally, Travel 2 and Gold Medal are all about the service they can offer – and that means making life easier for their travel agent partners. It’s why they also have teams of people monitoring Facebook groups like Travel Gossip for both potential bookings and grumbles. “The world is always on now,” McAuley says. “Whether you think that’s right or not doesn’t matter. As an operator you need to jump on those things because if you don’t they can grow legs. “We are a people-orientated business, whether you work for us or are a partner. Technology supports the business, but we are a people business.” ABTAmag.com
McAuley has revealed that the company will be focusing its philanthropic efforts to help support two charities: one local and one international. The local one will be the Family Holiday Association, where Travel 2 and Gold Medal will aim to raise £5,000 to help send 100 families on a break. The international charity is Just a Drop. By World Water Day on March 22, the company aims to have raised enough money to build a well at a school in Kenya. Members of the team will get the chance to go out and visit the project.
January 2020 37
UK holidays Oxford
Whether film buff, history lover or pub enthusiast, Fred Mawer discovers that this medieval city has something to please everyone
he top of the tower of the University Church of St Mary the Virgin is just the place to start exploring Oxford. You’re treated to mesmerising vistas of the fabled “dreaming spires” that punctuate the city’s skyline and an up-close eyeful of its photogenic building, the circular Radcliffe Camera, part of the university’s Bodleian Library complex. Oxford University is not laid out like most other universities. With no campus, it is spread around the city, including 39 colleges. Many date back to medieval times and have pristine, lawned quads, grand dining halls and ornate chapels. Nosing around or at least peeking in the cloistered compounds is a must, but visiting times at some colleges can be frustratingly restricted or erratic. One notable exception is Christ Church, the grandest college, with a magnificent dining hall that served as the basis for Hogwarts Hall in the Harry Potter films, a chapel that doubles as the city’s cathedral, and porters in bowler hats. Given the vagaries of colleges’ opening times and in many cases their hiddenaway locations, signing up for a guided
38 January 2020
city tour can make a lot of sense. Oxford Official Walking Tours, which are led by qualified Green or Blue Badge guides and organised in conjunction with Experience Oxfordshire, almost always include a college visit in their itineraries. As well as introductory university/city walks, there are tours themed around Oxford’s many literary, TV and film links, among them Inspector Morse, Harry Potter, Alice in Wonderland, CS Lewis, Tolkien and Philip Pullman. Some scenes for the BBC’s recent adaptation of Pullman’s His Dark Materials were shot in Oxford: New College (not exactly new – it dates from 1379) stood in for Jordan College. Families considering visiting Oxford in 2020 should know that the Story Museum is reopening in the spring after a major redevelopment. It promises to bring to life classic children’s tales associated with the city. The beautifully displayed Oxford University Museum of Natural History is also very family-friendly (don’t miss the dodo). Doors at the rear lead to the extraordinary Pitt Rivers Museum, whose cabinets of curiosities are filled with
Where to stay Budget
College rooms. Many of the university’s colleges rent out rooms at affordable prices to visitors, chiefly outside term times; you can also have breakfast in their grand dining halls. Book through Experience Oxfordshire.
Malmaison Oxford. This highly unusual hotel occupies former prison buildings in the Castle Quarter. For the full Porridge feel, stay in the A-Wing, whose stylish bedrooms are converted from prison cells.
Old Bank Hotel. Oxford’s best-located upmarket hotel, just across from the Bodleian Library. Bedrooms combine historic features with modern art, while Quod brasserie is one of the city’s top dining spots.
everything from opium pipes to coats made of seal intestines. For more history and culture, on the other side of town Oxford’s 1,000-year-old castle beckons. It served as a prison until as recently as 1996, and tours convey the grim conditions. Oxford works well as a destination year-round. As well as first-rate museums, there are snug, historic pubs such as the Turf Tavern and The Eagle and Child, and varied city-centre shopping, from Tardis-like Blackwell’s bookshop to the quaint Covered Market and the recently revamped and rather snazzy Westgate Oxford shopping mall. Added attractions come into play in the warmer months: strolling through Christ Church Meadow lapping up views over playing fields to the backs of the colleges... Wandering around the university’s walled and riverside botanic garden, the oldest in the UK... Going punting, whether DIY or with a chauffeur... And, weather permitting, a great way to round off the day is taking in those spires over a drink or two at one of the outdoor terraces of the smart bars and eateries on the rooftop of Westgate Oxford. ABTAmag.com
The Ashmolean Museum Dating from 1683, when wealthy antiquary Elias Ashmole gifted his collection to Oxford University, the Ashmolean is Britain’s oldest public museum. It’s also a strong contender for the country’s leading museum outside London for art and archaeology. Among the multitude of highlights are exquisitely decorated coffins from ancient Egypt, vividly painted Minoan ceramics, and the dazzling Alfred Jewel, an AngloSaxon gem whose inscription translates as “Alfred ordered me to be made”. Paintings cover everything from masterpieces of the Italian Renaissance to more modern works by the likes of Lucian Freud. There are also one-off oddities to discover, such as the lantern Guy Fawkes reportedly used on the night of November 4/5, 1605, and the “Messiah” violin made by Stradivari.
With much too much to cover in a single visit, the advice is to focus on a few galleries, or follow highlights tour leaflets – available for adults and children. There are also free, first-come, first-served guided tours most days, which pick out highlights or concentrate on particular themes. The Ashmolean’s major exhibitions are also big draws: the most recent, on Pompeii, got rave reviews. This year’s main show is Young Rembrandt (February 27 to June 7), concentrating on the early career of the Dutch master artist. There’s a charge for the exhibitions, but the museum’s permanent collections are free. You can round off a visit in style by having a meal in the excellent, glasssided Rooftop Restaurant, which has a large outdoor dining terrace and is open evenings Thursdays to Saturdays as well as daily for lunch, booking essential.
January 2020 39
THE FAMOUS FIVE ÂŠ 2018, Hodder & Stoughton Limited. All rights reserved.
Magdalen Bridge, Oxford
More seats. More trains. More adventures. Book at GWR.com, on our app, or at a station. Advertising based on an increase of over 10% in train seats on long distance, Intercity services in May 2019 compared to the same period in 2018. Correct as of 15 November 2019. Selected routes only. Visit GWR.com for full terms and conditions.
voco Oxford Spires opens under IHG rebrand
Record visitors to UK expected By Emily Eastman
By Emily Eastman The UK’s fourth voco property has opened in Oxford as part of an IHG rebrand. The 181-room voco Oxford Spires is situated alongside the River Thames and on University College Oxford grounds, affording guests rural surroundings but close proximity to Oxford’s historic centre. It’s the second voco property in the city. Every guest receives the voco signature “come on in” welcome – a swift, simple check
in, access to dedicated expert hosts and a locally made edible treat. Contemporary interiors are complemented by an eco ethos, with bedding made from 100 per cent recycled materials and products featuring natural ingredients in large dispenser bottles (miniatures have been removed entirely). The hotel also has 11 meeting rooms and a dedicated on-site event planner to help organise corporate events. ABTAmag.com
VisitBritain is predicting a record year for UK inbound tourism this year. The number of inbound visitors is set to grow to a record 39.7 million, up 2.9 per cent on 2019. The tourism authority also expects spending by overseas visitors in the UK to hit a record £26.6 billion in 2020 – a rise of 6.6 per cent against the £25 billion projected for 2019. The past decade has seen tourism numbers and spending increase by 33 per cent and 58 per cent respectively. VisitBritain director Patricia Yates said: “We are seeing success in growing tourism from our long-haul, high-spending markets including the US, our largest and most valuable inbound market, and from markets that are crucial for our future such as China. “Working with partners globally we are telling customers about experiences they can only have here, converting the inspiration to visit into bookings and driving growth from tourism across the nations and regions, boosting local economies.” A global VisitBritain campaign is currently under way that encourages visitors to travel further. ABTAmag.com
London hotel scene set for exciting year By Emily Eastman This year is gearing up to be the biggest ever for the London hotel scene, with the capital anticipating around 65 new hotels with 8,000 rooms opening. According to Business Traveller, 10 per cent are five star, 31 per cent four star and 26 per cent are budget hotels. It follows a number of big names opening new properties in the capital last year, including The Standard in Kings Cross, Treehouse Hotel in Marylebone, The Hoxton
Southwark and the 900-room Hard Rock Hotel on the corner of Oxford Street. This year will see the world’s first (and selfdescribed) “super boutique hotel” opening in the form of The Londoner on Leicester Square. It will house 350 rooms, two private cinemas and six concept eateries. Elsewhere, Nobu is expanding its London portfolio with a new property on Marylebone’s Portman Square, while STAY Camden, part of The LABS Collective’s new residential brand, will open as its first
aparthotel. Guests can choose from one-, two- and three-bedroom lodgings. In Charing Cross, the new Page8 marks Page Hotels’ entry into the UK market following its success in Hong Kong. Guests who prefer a more intimate hotel experience will enjoy The Guardsman Buckingham Gate, which will have just 53 rooms. There’s also the Melia Kensington, opening this month. The boutique hotel is well situated for the V&A and Natural History Museum. ABTAmag.com
January 2020 41
COUNTRY GUIDES The ABTA Country Guides are published once a year in five editions: ABTA Member Services; UK & Europe; Middle East & Africa; Asia & Australasia; and The Americas & The Caribbean. Containing vital information about destinations across the globe, such as geography, currency, weather, tourist office contact information, foreign office advice and more, the guides are an essential tool for travel agents.
TRALASIA ASIA & AUS
IDES OUNTRY GU lume 4: C A T B A 9 1 Vo 0 â€“ 2 Volume 4 untry Guide 2018 Country By Co
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Distributed to travel agencies across the country, the guides are intended to be kept on shelves, shared among staff, and referred to regularly, helping agents learn more about destinations and sell more holidays. The comprehensive guides are unique in publishing and now available online.
See countryguides.ABTAmag.com for more
THEATRE UK TOUR
An Evening with Michael Bublé July 24–August 7 Canadian singer Michael Bublé is embarking on a tour around the UK, performing at picturesque open-air venues – from castles to cricket grounds and riversides – throughout July and August. Tickets are on sale now, with the first performance taking place in Bath’s Royal Crescent on July 24. From there, Bublé will travel to venues in Brighton, Derby, Durham, Leeds, Cardiff, Exeter and Norfolk, among others. The tour marks the first time the singer has performed at any of these venues.
Queen + Adam Lambert June 2–21 Having rocked their way across North America, legendary band Queen and new(ish, in relative terms) frontman Adam Lambert are bringing their “loud, fun and unforgettable” Rhapsody tour to the UK, with dates at London’s O2 Arena and Manchester Arena. The set list covers all the band’s hits, usually ending with Bohemian Rhapsody and encoring with We Will Rock You and We Are The Champions. The tour follows the success of the 2018 Oscar-winning Queen biopic, Bohemian Rhapsody.
Pride and Prejudice (Sort Of) January 23–February 15 Tron Theatre Company and Glasgowbased Blood of the Young put a fresh spin on the Austin classic with this all-female performance. Telling the story of five vaguely familiar young women (often seen emptying chamber pots or sweeping ash from the grate) who support those upstairs, the show sees men, money and microphones fought over among as yet unnamed characters. Don’t worry if you miss the show in Edinburgh – it goes on to performances in Birmingham, Newcastle upon Tyne and Bristol later in the year.
Dear Evan Hansen Until May 30 From the writers of La La Land and The Greatest Showman comes a show that’s already picked up six Tony Awards, including best musical and best original score. The Broadway smash hit Dear Evan Hansen tells the story of Evan, an awkward teenage boy who struggles to relate to his peers. Encouraged by his therapist, Evan begins to write letters to himself to help cope with his social anxiety – but the act sets off a chain of events that leaves Evan embroiled in a destructive lie following the suicide of a classmate.
Everybody’s Talking About Jamie Until August 29 Based on a true story, Everybody’s Talking About Jamie tells a tale of bravery, adversary and fabulousness. Sixteen-yearold Jamie Campbell is different from his peers on his Sheffield council estate – and has a secret to share with the world. With a dream he was determined to realise, the real-life Jamie approached documentarymaker Firecracker Films, which resulted in the 2011 BBC Three documentary, Jamie: Drag Queen at 16. Theatre director Jonathan Butterell was inspired to turn it into a now award-winning musical.
Trojan Horse February 4 Presented by critically acclaimed theatre company Lung in association with Leeds Playhouse, Trojan Horse follows the true stories of Muslim teachers and governors who were accused of plotting extremism in Birmingham schools. The story made national news, and the show is adapted from real-life testimonies of those at the heart of the UK government’s inquiry. The show, which won Amnesty International Freedom of Expression and Fringe First awards, is a true tale of racial division, “British values” and the culture of Prevent.
London and Manchester HIDDEN LONDON
On until January 31, Hidden London: the Exhibition at London Transport Museum recreates abandoned Tube stations and wartime bunkers. Visitors can experience Winston Churchill’s Second World War hideaway and hear stories of wartime shelters, plus delve into the Underground network’s use as a film set since the 1920s. There’s also the opportunity to discover never-before-seen drawings, objects and posters from disused stations and learn more about why certain stations are no longer operational. Children go free – for adults, entry to the exhibition is included in the museum admission price.
The Manchester Contemporary Art Exhibition will be held in the Brickworks on Deansgate, one of the city’s newest and most exciting spaces. The exhibition takes a uniquely artist-focused approach and brings leading contemporary art to the city. Galleries are invited from around the world, and careful selection and bold curatorial vision enables the Manchester Contemporary Art Exhibition to showcase the strength of the UK’s regional artists and galleries alongside international presentations that can only be viewed during the event. More than 160 talented artists will take part, with artworks for sale throughout the exhibition and fair.
January 2020 43
City Guide Vilnius
Vilnius Those with a penchant for history, gastronomy, architecture or the arts will find Vilnius has it all in troves. Audrey Gillan gives the lowdown
Soviet-built housing estate, a nuclear reactor and a cold, terrifying prison cell. Not the first things you’d think of when preparing an itinerary for a visit to the beautiful Lithuanian capital Vilnius, but these locations used in HBO’s Emmy award-winning series Chernobyl have become a big draw in the Baltic city. The suburb of Fabijoniškės is substituted for Pripyat, the Ukrainian town hit by nuclear disaster in 1986, and the Museum of Occupation and Freedom Fights (a must-see, fascinating place in its own right) is the site of the jail where the nuclear scientist who exposed the cover-up is held. Guided tours of the locations and interiors afford a glimpse of life in the city during the Soviet occupation, which ended when Lithuania became independent in 1991.
44 January 2020
Soviet-era architecture helped, too, with the filming of the BBC’s historical drama The Eichmann Show, but it was its resemblance to Jerusalem that drew film-makers to Vilnius. An elegant, Unesco World Heritage-listed city – where the baroque and medieval harmonise, and an Old Town boasts red pantiled roofs and cobbled streets – it has also recently been the shooting venue for Catherine the Great and Elizabeth I, both starring Helen Mirren, and War and Peace.
Chefs in Lithuania will tell you that their cuisine was destroyed by the Soviets and that the country once had a rich culinary tradition. “We lost our identity and our history and we forgot to be proud of ourselves. We were not allowed. All we had was bones, milk, potatoes and sour cream,”
Where to stay Budget
Downtown Forest is located in the heart of the Republic of Užupis and although it calls itself a hostel, it has very comfortable private rooms. Single rooms with shared bathrooms from £14.50 downtownforest.lt
The rock’n’roll-themed Comfort Hotel has super-stylish rooms within walking distance of the Old Town. Standard rooms begin from £53. comforthotel.lt
Hotel PACAI has high-ceilinged rooms in a beautiful old palace in the Old Town with two great restaurants. Double rooms from £146. hotelpacai.com/en
Above: The Palace of the Grand Dukes of Lithuania Below: Bohemian Užupis is popular with artists Overleaf: The Gothic Church of Saint Anne
says chef Liutauras Čeprackas. But that era has passed and he and other cooks are at the vanguard of a gastronomic revival in Vilnius, one that looks to the rich past for dishes forgotten by a generation but also embraces modernity. There is a rich gastronomical seam now being mined – in the 14th century, Grand Duke Gediminas opened the city to all religions and cultures, and as people came so did a confluence of influences and ingredients – with food from German crusaders, Eastern Europeans, Italian
architects, Jewish peoples, Russia and Poland. The city is now home to funky Džiaugsmas, a bistro ranked number one in the 30 Best Restaurants in Lithuania that serves glorious zander beignets where chunks of fish are covered in crisp sepia batter. At Ertlio Namas, in a 17thcentury house in the heart of the Old Town, the history of Lithuanian cuisine is on the plate: using just the produce of local farmers and fishermen, dishes can include mushroom soup with poularde,
January 2020 45
City Guide Vilnius
mushroom cheese and turnips; and baked eel with doughnut, mangolds, turnips and fennel sauce. And the serving staff will tell you stories of the history of each dish. A fairytale-like journey takes you through “seasons-inspired local cuisine” at magical Sweet Root, where you might have encounters with foraged berries, sea buckthorn and rowan berries; or mushrooms like chanterelles (Lithuanians love foraging for mushrooms). A visit to Halés market, housed in a lovely building dating back to 1906, will bring you to stalls lined with traditional products such as salted and smoked country bacon, sauerkraut, salted herring and pickled cucumber. Stop and buy some black bread – almost exalted in this country – and some local butter to taste, or hop from stall to stall sampling.
46 January 2020
With many of Vilnius’ younger generation returning to the city after living abroad, the hip and vibrant feel of the place is growing. Not that bohemianism is a new thing here: the self-declared Republic of Užupis was established in 1998 and it has its own president, government, constitution and currency, and even has a navy consisting of three or four small boats. Here you’ll find street sculpture and art, great galleries, bars and restaurants, and a joyous, slightly flippant vibe. In the Station District, you can eat street food in an old train car, rave beside the railroad tracks or enjoy a drink on a platform at Peronas bar, complete with a giant statue of Sopranos star James Gandolfini in a bathrobe and shorts. The once down-at-heel, edgy area is flourishing
The Polish airline LOT flies to Vilnius from London’s City Airport from £105 return. www.lot.com www.govilnius.lt
under its rebirth. At Druska Milta Vanduo, a bakery and coffee shop, Canadian Christine saw a gap in the market – not everyone wants to eat black bread everyday – and so here you can have avocado and sourdough toast and French and Americanstyle cakes and pastries. ABTAmag.com
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ON THE HIGH SEAS The dazzling rise of luxury cruise
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Sam Ballard sails on Star Clipper in Indonesia
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Anthony Pearce explores the Caribbean with Viking Cruises
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Sue Bryant sails on Celebrity Edge, the much hyped new ship that could change the future of cruise
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James Litston casts off with Coral Expeditions to encounter the rich, diverse marine life of the Great Barrier Reef
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48 January 2020
Frozen planet Anthony Pearce has the trip of a lifetime to Antarctica on board Aurora Expeditionsâ€™ new ship, the Greg Mortimer
January 2020 49
e’re a few hundred metres from the coast of Hydrurga Rocks, a snowy outcrop off the northwestern tip of the Antarctic Peninsula, when our Zodiac driver cuts the engine. We sit in an awed silence, our eyes scanning the mirror-like waters specked with crystalline shards of ice, when, suddenly, a humpback whale rises to the surface, flicking its tail in the air, a chorus of gasps and the clicking of cameras ending the quiet. Moments before, on the way back from land to our ship, we heard a loud exhale, perhaps the sound of a nearby whale breathing through its blowhole, and cut the boat’s motor. As we cruise the bay, keeping a respectful distance while these enormous, majestic creatures disappear into and reappear from the icy waters, I realise we’ve completely changed course; that following the original plan – getting back on board – is of no urgency. This, after all, is Antarctica, a
50 January 2020
place where schedules and itineraries play second fiddle to adventure. We’re here with Aurora Expeditions, the Australian shipping company, on its new vessel, the Greg Mortimer, the first to feature the X-Bow, a revolutionary bit of tech that gives it a unique appearance. Designed to help ships tackle rough seas, it makes our crossing of the notorious Drake Passage – where we face some hefty swells – relatively smooth. The ship’s doctor tells us that on the line’s former research vessel, the Polar Pioneer, about 50 per cent more guests would have succumbed to seasickness in these conditions. It’s taken days to get to this point already: from London to Buenos Aires, the beautiful Argentine capital, down to Ushuaia, the world’s most southerly city, on the tip of the South American continent. From there we sail down the mountain-lined Beagle Channel – a gentle introduction to the voyage before we reach
the open seas. After a day and half of sailing, we arrive at Half Moon Bay, part of the South Shetland Islands – five days after we left England. The journey only adds to the feeling that this is no ordinary holiday: this is an expedition. On the Drake Passage, we get a taster of what is to follow. Our first glimpse of an iceberg is a moment I’ll never forget – the entire ship rushes to the portside to take a look: it’s blue and enormous, alone in a vast expanse of ocean. On the crossing, we also spot greyheaded albatross, storm petrels and shearwaters, which follow the ship’s wake as krill are churned up. A Norwegian word meaning whale food, these small crustaceans are at the centre of Antarctic life: the entire ecosystem depends on them, something we learn in an on-board lecture with Heidi Krajewsky, a naturalist who talks penguins, seabirds and seals with boundless enthusiasm. She’s part of
Chinstrap penguins in the snow at Half Moon Bay in the South Shetland Islands and (left) an iceberg in the Lemaire Channel
Our first iceberg is a moment I’ll never forget, alone in a vast expanse of ocean ABTAmag.com
a rotating expedition team and will do three cruises before taking a break, something that she says allows her and others to give their all during what is (we’re soon to discover) a demanding itinerary. “I know you’re excited about penguins,” she says, “but I want you to be excited about krill!” The expedition crew, which includes kayaker Al Bakker and historian Dr Ben Maddison, is led on this sailing by Howard Whelan, a softly spoken Australian who has been travelling to Antarctica for two decades. The team lead excursions, drive Zodiacs, provide historical and geographical context, and also make great lunch and dinner companions; they’re always on hand to answer the many, sometimes daft, questions that pop into your head. The ship carries just 120 guests in polar regions, some of them kayakers, meaning everyone can go ashore at once – the International Association of Antarctica Tour Operators (Iaato) stipulates that ice landings are restricted to 100 people at a time. Aside from the odd research base, which are basically a scattering of huts, there is very little infrastructure in
Antarctica, and landings are always by Zodiac. Before going ashore, we head to the mudroom to get ready, adding boots and waterproof jackets to our thermal layers. On Half Moon Bay – a rocky, snow-covered landing – we see our first cormorants and penguins, in this case chinstraps, named for the thin black line under their beaks. We’re disappointed when we learn we’ve just missed a seal, which with hindsight feels a little silly… The next day we arrive at Hydrurga Rocks, where the water is icy, but the sky is blue, the weather clear, and the temperature hovering around minus two, meaning it’s easy to enjoy the island at a steady pace. As soon as we arrive we see a huge Weddell seal sprawled out on the ice, a fur seal down on the rocks by the water, more chinstrap penguins pottering about and, later, Adélie and gentoo penguins. At one point, we spot a trio of penguins – one of each of the above species – hanging out. The expedition team give you clear instructions about which paths to follow, to fill in any divots that penguins could fall into, and keeping your distance (that is, not getting within five metres of wildlife),
January 2020 51
but generally you’re free to wander around as you please. Often you find yourself sat still for an age, just watching penguins waddle about, a male bringing a rock for nest-building to a severely unimpressed female, them tumbling about, sliding down slopes. Scott Portelli, one of the professional photographers on board, says that patience is key to shooting Antarctica: wait long enough and something magnificent will happen. That afternoon, we arrive at Portal Point, where the conditions couldn’t be more different – the heavy snow is coming down sideways and visibility is low. We can make out each other, but that’s about it. The stop is remarkable for being the first time we actually step onto the Antarctic Continent. That night, we toast those among us who today reached their seventh continent.
The next morning the plan is to head Port Lockroy, a British base with a post office where for a dollar you can send a postcard. It’s the closest Antarctica comes to having a famous port of call, so you’d imagine I’d be disappointed when we can’t visit it. November is much icier than later in the season, which means less wildlife (and no penguin nesting) and waters that are more difficult to navigate. But it’s the time when Antarctica is at its most beautiful – when draped in a snowy blanket this vast, pristine wilderness can be best appreciated. With Port Lockroy off the cards, Greg Mortimer instead heads down an ice-filled Peltier Channel and makes easy work of it; the ship’s hydraulic platforms are lowered for the first time, and we stand and watch, floating ice stretching to the horizon. An hour or two later and not only are the waters clear, they’re also teeming with life.
A pod of killer whales, at first thought to be two adults and a calf, but later revealed to be six or more, swim beside the ship. We watch from our balcony as they glide majestically by, their fins dipping in and out of the water. In the afternoon we’re invited to try out the line’s new inflatable kayaks, which it is considering rolling out across itineraries so that intermediary kayakers can have a go (they’re easier to get out of if they capsize). We head out with a guide, rowing over the still, reflective waters on our way around Cuverville Island, at the entrance of Errera Channel. We paddle beside towering icebergs, see groups of penguins cut across our path and, at one point, watch as a seal floats serenely beneath our kayak. What’s most striking is the silence. Aside from the occasional penguin call or cormorant squawk, once
Anthony Pearce takes the polar plunge, leaping from the Greg Mortimer. Opposite: a Weddell seal lazes at Hydrurga Rocks
52 January 2020
Aurora Expeditions is bookable through ABTA members including Cruise Plus by Travel2 and JTA Travel
This is a place virtually untouched by humans and unpolluted by noise
you stop paddling, there is not a sound. It’s something that amazes you every time you step off the ship: this is a place virtually untouched by humans and unpolluted by our noise. The next day is one we’ve all been waiting for, or dreading, depending on your perspective: the polar plunge. A chance to swim in – or rather dive into and then frantically get out of – the icy Antarctic waters. Against my better judgment, I do it and it’s an exhilarating moment, but the best bit is the swig of vodka afterwards and 20 minutes thawing out in the sauna, where every returning plunger enters to a cheer. The atmosphere on board afterwards is jubilant, adding to the growing camaraderie established over the week: you very much feel like you’re on an adventure as a collective, not just on your own holiday. One of the remarkable things about Antarctica is that every time you begin to find it familiar something incredible will
happen – the spotting of a rare animal, an unexpected detour, a dramatic ice carving. There’s the call at Whalers Bay, in the South Shetland Islands, unlike anywhere else we’ve been on the trip or indeed before it. One of the epicentres of the brutal whaling and sealing industry, it is now eerie and abandoned, a decaying museum to an era when Antarctica and its wildlife wasn’t treated with the respect it deserves. And there’s the visit to Elephant Point on Livingston Island, when we think what we’ve seen can’t be exceeded: this is home to harems of elephant seals, which you’ll recognise from David Attenborough’s recent Seven Worlds, One Planet. The adult males are beastly, weighing up to four tonnes, and a little bit terrifying, especially when charging at each other. And with that it’s time to head back home, the trip of a lifetime almost over – but not before the small matter of crossing the Drake Passage… ABTAmag.com
January 2020 53
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Terms and conditions: Terms and conditions: Prices and availability correct at time of going to print (17 December 2019). Offers are valid for new bookings only made by 29 February 2020 on selected itineraries on Terms selected Earlybird Fares strictly limited. Earlybird discount onDecember the cruise2019). only-price new bookings *Freeonly Business Flight Upgrade is Terms and conditions: anddates. conditions: Prices andare availability correct10% at time of going to printis(17 Offersfor are valid for newonly. bookings made Class by 29 February 2020 on subject availability qualifying ﬂights, valid one way on selected cruises from our 2020-2022 Collection and Antarctica departingClass in 2020. Supplements selectedtoitineraries onon selected dates. Earlybird Fares areonly strictly limited. Americas 10% Earlybird discount is on the cruise only-price forselected new bookings only.cruises *Free Business Flight Upgrade is may apply if travelling on non-speciﬁ ed routes and from regional departure points. Upgrades are non-transferable and no cash or credit alternative will be offered. The promotion has no cash subject to availability qualifying ﬂights, valid one way on selected Americas our 2020-2022 Collection and selected Antarctica cruises departing in by 2020. Supplements Terms and conditions: Terms and conditions: Prices and only availability correct at time cruises of goingfrom to print (17 December 2019). 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Supplements selected itineraries on selected dates. Earlybird Fares are strictly limited. 10% Earlybird discount is on the cruise only-price for new bookings only. *Free Business Class Flight Upgrade mainland No guests cashon alternative. Helicopters are to operate in South Georgia. Helicopter andmile submarine activities are or weather to availability. For who live outside of thisand 75 unable mile andeparture additional supplement of £2.00 per will be charged thereafter, UK alternative will be offered. The promotion has noiscash may applyonly. if travelling non-speciﬁ ed routes fromradius, regional points. Upgrades are non-transferable and no cash credit may apply if travelling onalternative. non-speciﬁ ed routes and from points. Upgrades are and no cash credit alternative will be offered. 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56 January 2020
Better Belize it With extraordinary Mayan ruins, rich wilderness and marine life, glorious tropical islands and a hospitality industry built around sustainability, Belize could be Central America’s best-kept secret, writes Emily Eastman
he road rattles and buckles beneath us as our driver navigates deep ruts, vast stones and puddles of undetermined depth. To call the route to Caracol bumpy would be imprecise; these roads are rugged, stomach-churning, and worth every jolt for the destination: the largest Mayan site in Belize, situated deep in the Mountain Pine Ridge Forest Reserve. We’ve come to Belize slightly ahead of the curve for the British market, which might mean rough terrain (although the tourist board promises that the jungle roadways will be paved in the next year or two), but it also means deserted destinations which, in more well-trodden holiday spots, would already be overrun with fellow travellers. As we hike the short distance to Caana (“Sky Palace”), the largest building at Caracol, I count just five other people exploring the site. And what a site it is, containing more than 35,000 buildings. In fact, archaeologists believe there to be
more Mayan structures in Belize today than modern buildings. At the height of its power, Caracol was home to 180,000 people – a far greater population than that of modern-day Belize City, which is the country’s largest metropolis, and Belmopan, its capital. We clamber to the top of Caana for solo photos (and to marvel at the view of the surrounding wilderness, Guatemala just over the horizon), duck into burial chambers and admire the religious altars, plazas and the incredibly advanced astronomical observatory. With a footprint of some 195 square kilometres, much of Caracol is still awaiting excavation – 3D mapping has revealed large sections and structures long shrouded by jungle. But Mayan ruins aren’t all that this jungle contains. We make stops at Rio Frio Cave – an enormous natural cavern replete with giant stalactites – and Rio on Pools, a series of small waterfalls and connecting pools, deep enough to swim in, that offer a refreshing break from the road. It’s worth
pulling in for an hour spent climbing over the rocks, shooting down the natural water slides and attempting to swim against the currents for that perfect Instagram shot.
FOR THE ECO-CONSCIOUS
Our tour of Belize is a snapshot of all that this English-speaking country has to offer. Eco-focused travel is a recurring theme; on an overnight at the five-star Ka’ana Resort and Spa, Belize’s only hotel to hold Small Luxury Hotels of the World status, we learn of its philosophy of blending sustainability with luxury and adventure. Excursions are encouraged, and we head out with Yute Expeditions to meet the fabulously named Adrian Choco and learn about the Mayan chocolate tradition. Heritage, sustainability and ecotourism come into their own in Belize. On a snorkelling trip from Caye Caulker, I’m impressed by the commitment of Raggamuffin Tours to protect the reef – the second-largest barrier reef in the world. Our entertaining guides Shane, Javi and
RESORTS Naia Resort & Spa – www.naiaresortandspa.com Prices start from US$325 Ka’ana Resort – www.kaanabelize.com Standard rooms (Balam Suite) start from US$299 before taxes. Rate is inclusive of continental breakfast and based on double occupancy Iguana Reef – www.iguanareefinn.com Rates start from US$179 – $489 + 9 per cent hotel tax nightly ABTAmag.com
January 2020 57
Hugo tell us when to apply sunscreen to ensure it’s properly absorbed before we enter the water, and the operator is one of the few that abstains from attracting marine life with food. It makes for an incredible, authentic experience – we jump from the catamaran quickly to swim alongside two enormous manatees and, later, slink into the water among four-metre-long nurse sharks, huge stingrays and serene sea turtles. I’ve snorkelled worldwide, and nowhere else have I encountered such rich, diverse marine life in one stretch of ocean. The coral is largely undisturbed and, where bleaching has occurred, huge reclamation programmes are under way to restore them back to full health, which so far have a 90 per cent success rate. Caye Caulker itself is the place to be for undeniable island vibes. Golf buggies and bikes are the only traffic along the sandy roads, which are lined with rustic bars and restaurants in uniquely Caribbean hues. You can reach this and Belize’s other northern islands by ferry from Belize City or by propellor plane with Tropic Air. You
can’t beat the latter for uninterrupted views of the cayes or for selfies with the pilots, and the airline has recently announced scheduled tour flights from Placencia to the Great Blue Hole, a giant marine sinkhole. For beautiful beaches, Placencia ranks highly. This charming fishing village has beautiful resorts (Ka’ana’s sister property, Itz’ana, is currently under construction here) – we stay at the four-star beachfront Naïa Resort and Spa, which is 100 per cent Belizean owned and boasts the country’s largest spa. As well as an opportunity to relax, Placencia is also a chance to learn more about Belizean culture. We spend an evening entertained by Garifuna drummers from the Mawelele (“our voice”) group, and learn how the Garifuna people came to settle here and about their enduring traditions. We’re visiting in low season, but in high season (November to March) Placencia village bustles with a craft market that I’m told is worth a visit. Yet even in low season, the bars and restaurants of Placencia thrum with activity. It’s a nice background to one of the best meals of the trip; at the Maya
Beach Bistro we share tamarind shrimp and goats’ cheese with whole roasted garlic before I devour a main of peanut-coated red snapper with curried watermelon. Placencia is also a great base for outdoor pursuits. Take an hour’s drive (on smooth roads) to Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary, which stretches for more than 128,000 acres – where jaguars roam and montezuma birds nest. Despite a long menu of easier options, we ambitiously hike the Tiger Fern Trail, which we later discover is classified as a “strenuous” route. Sore legs aside, it’s worth every sweaty step (and ant bite) for the awesome jungle vistas and refreshingly cool waterfall pool, all of which we have to ourselves. A week spent here leaves me wondering how Belize has largely stayed off the tourist radar – something that is no doubt soon to change as word spreads and the promise of direct flights from London sits tantalisingly on the horizon. For now, it’s the perfect suggestion for clients seeking something a little different; adventure, eco-pursuits and luxury all rolled into one un-Belize-able holiday. ABTAmag.com
EXPERIENCES Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary www.roambelize.com/land-tours/ cockscomb-basin-wildlife-sanctuary Yute Expeditions (Transfers & Tours) www.inlandbelize.com Ajaw Chocolate & Crafts (Chocolate tour – US$12.00pp) www.ajawchocolate.com Raggamuffin Tours www.raggamuffintours.com/hol-chan-snorkel
58 January 2020
2020 destinations Anthony Pearce rounds up ABTA’s 12 destinations to watch this year and highlights the trends influencing your clients’ travel choices
BTA has revealed its 12 destinations to watch in 2020, as well the key findings of its Travel Trends report. The report highlights that, despite the political context, consumer sentiment is positive when it comes to taking holidays. ABTA research shows that travel is a spending priority for the year ahead, with over a quarter of people (27 per cent) planning to spend more on their holiday, up from 25 per cent who said the same last year. The package holiday also looks set to maintain its appeal in 2020, with value for money expected to be one of the main reasons for choosing this type of holiday. Europe still tops the list of places people intend to travel to in the next 12 months, with almost two-thirds of people (57 per cent) planning to visit. Closer to home,
following a record-breaking number of overnight trips from January to July 2019, domestic holidays are expected to perform well once more in the year ahead. The five key trends expected to shape holiday choices in 2020 are: • The rise of “slow travel” • Travel agents meeting increasing demand for digital customer service • Increased focus on the specific effects of tourism • Touring gets the personalised treatment • Electric aviation takes flight Mark Tanzer, ABTA chief executive, said: “With so many political uncertainties ahead, such as the shape of the new government and the outcome of the Brexit process, it is difficult to predict with
certainty what 2020 will bring. However, we do know that travel is still a spending priority for the year ahead. “In last year’s report, we predicted that 2019 would be the year that sustainability issues would go mainstream, and that has proved to be the case, with a spotlight thrown on climate change in particular. Sustainability issues are now firmly in the minds of holidaymakers and are a continued thread throughout the report – from cruise industry initiatives to influencing three of our five trends. The travel industry continues to develop plans and initiatives which support local communities, their economies and the environment, so that tourism is a benefit to everyone.” Here are ABTA’s 12 destinations for 2020.
It’s rare to hear this when talking about Italy, but Basilicata is relatively unexplored by tourists. Found in Italy’s far south, and bordering Calabria, Puglia and Campania, the region is strikingly beautiful. It is home to the fascinating town of Matera, known for its sassi (stones), which were home to thousands of people up until the 1950s. The city came to international attention in 2004 when the Mel Gibson film The Passion Of The Christ was shot there. Local delicacies include the local bread (pane di Matera IGP), as well as arguably the region’s most famous food product, lucanica, a spiced sausage. ABTA says: “Mountainous, heavily wooded and dramatic, Basilicata is a different side to Italy which travellers are now discovering – from the city of Matera to the impressive mountain range of the Lucanian Apennines to the coast of the Tyrrhenian Sea. Getting there: There are direct flights (average flight time: two hours and 45 minutes) from London Gatwick.
January 2020 59
Features 2020 destinations
CHICAGO AND LAKE MICHIGAN, USA
Chicago is among the largest and liveliest cities in the US, boasting some of the country’s most incredible food, bestloved sporting venues, and eye-catching architecture, including Frank Lloyd Wright’s stained-glass Robie House and Frank Gehry’s striking Pritzker Pavilion. Sat at a corner of Lake Michigan, one of the five Great Lakes of North America and the only one entirely in the US, the Illinois city provides remarkable access to natural beauty. Covering an area of almost 60,000 square kilometres, the lakes’ shoreline boasts stunning dune regions, including Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, home to sand dunes reaching 140m above the lake, as well as 59 lighthouses. ABTA says: “The ‘Windy City’ has a spectacular lakeside location on one of the five Great Lakes, is home to one of the liveliest music scenes in the USA and has even designated 2020 as the ‘Year of Chicago Music’.” Getting there: There are direct flights (average flight time: nine hours) from London Heathrow.
The tri-island destination of Grenada, Carriacou and Petite Martinique is the quintessential Caribbean. The islands boast verdant rainforests peppered with waterfalls, myriad reef and wreck diving and snorkelling sites close to shore, and notable cuisine, plus almost deserted silky-soft sandy beaches, vibrant festivals and an incredibly warm welcome. Attractions include the St George’s Spice Market, Grand Anse Beach, the Molinere Underwater Sculpture Park and Grand Etang National Park, home to tropical birds, bright-chartreuse lizards and armadillos. Carriacou, Grenada’s sister island with West African influences, is also well worth a visit. ABTA says: “Often referred to as the Island of Spice, Grenada is incredibly fertile – its green hills are full of fruit-, nut- and spicebearing trees. It also has some beautiful beaches which are less crowded than many other Caribbean islands.” Getting there: There are direct flights (average flight time: ten hours and 30 minutes) from London Gatwick.
60 January 2020
From its ancient and vibrant capital, Tbilisi, and Unesco World Heritage Sites to the majestic Caucasus mountain range, Georgia has intrigue and adventure in equal measure. Said to be the birthplace of wine, it is also among the world’s best wine regions – without doubt, the food and drink here is world-class and growing in recognition. Once the preserve of backpackers, the country is increasingly popular among all types of travellers. Top attractions include the aerial tramway in Tbilisi, as well as the city’s Old Town, and the beautiful Lake Ritsa. ABTA says: “With unspoilt landscapes, delicious wines and welcoming people, Georgia is a delightful and surprising destination, with direct flights from the UK into its capital Tbilisi taking just under five hours.” Getting there: There are direct flights to Tbilisi (average flight time: four hours and 45 minutes) from London Gatwick.
MADRID AND NEIGHBOURING CITIES AND TOWNS, SPAIN
Madrid is a true European capital, made up of beautiful boulevards, manicured parks, world-class museums, high-end shopping and, of course, some of the best food you will find anywhere. It is also a landing pad for a number of nearby cities and towns, including Ávila, famous for its perfectly preserved Muralla (town walls), Alcalá de Henares, the birthplace of Don Quixote writer Miguel de Cervantes, and Manzanares el Real, a town famous for its two castles, the New Castle of Manzanares el Real and the Castillo Viejo. ABTA says: “The Spanish capital of Madrid is one of the world’s great city break destinations, and it is also a perfect base to visit many other historic cities and towns which are easily reachable by public transport or car.” Getting there: There are direct flights (average flight time: two hours and 30 minutes) from London Luton, Gatwick, Heathrow and Stansted, Manchester, Edinburgh, Bristol and Liverpool.
Its name translates from Arabic as “place the sun sets; the west” after its location on the Atlantic and Mediterranean corner of Africa, but Morocco is not simply a coastal country. It also boasts sweeping deserts, soaring mountain ranges and ancient places, such as Fez, one of the largest medieval cities in the world. Its mix of Arabic, Berber and European cultural influences are reflected everywhere. The bustling modern metropolis of Casablanca contrasts with the more peaceful capital city Rabat and the unique Marrakesh and its souk-filled medina. ABTA says: “A country that is very easy to fall in love with, Morocco has dramatically varied landscapes offering windswept beaches, the sand dunes of the Sahara and the rugged beauty of the High Atlas and Rif mountains.” Getting there: Multiple UK airports operate flights to Marrakesh Menara, Fès-Saïs, Rabat-Salé, Agadir-Al Massira, Tangier Ibn Battuta and Casablanca Mohammed V airports. Typical flight time is three to four hours.
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Features 2020 destinations
Located between the Kalahari Desert and the South Atlantic, the sparsely populated country of Namibia has a bit of everything – from beautiful coastlines to dramatic mountains and endless desert, with an unexpected German colonial twist. There is also plenty of stunning wildlife. Etosha National Park is home to a variety of animals and birds, while on a safari you can spot the Kalahari lions with their black manes, plus water buffalo, antelope and ostriches. There are also opportunities for more extreme activities such as sandboarding down the desert dunes. ABTA says: “Towering sand dunes, dramatic coastlines and beautiful national parks teeming with wildlife – Namibia is a place of dramatic contrasts and spectacular landscapes.” Getting there: There are only indirect flight options available, with connections via Johannesburg or Tambo and Addis Ababa Bole airports.
Singapore brings together the best of Asian culture, metropolitan delights and international flavours. The nation is focused on sustainability as it works towards becoming a “City in a Garden”, and there are numerous beautiful green spaces to enjoy. Tourists will revel in the world-class markets, eateries and bars of this tiny island. Top attractions include the Singapore Botanic Gardens, Universal Studios, the unique Night Safari, the Jurong Bird Park and the historic Buddha Tooth Relic Temple and Museum. The city also boasts two Michelin-star street hawkers: the Hong Kong Soya Sauce Chicken Rice and Noodle and Hill Street Tai Hwa Pork Noodle. ABTA says: “A blend of iconic hotels, 21st-century architecture and the world’s best airport – join the party as this affluent and modern country celebrates its 200th birthday.” Getting there: Direct flights (average flight time: 13 hours and 30 minutes) from London Heathrow and Manchester.
62 January 2020
The Netherlands is a cultural playground, with world-renowned art galleries and the highest density of museums in the world. Visit Rotterdam and Eindhoven for a dose of modern architecture and design. Then there’s the Gothic-imbued The Hague, canal-ringed Delft, the colourful fishing village of Volendam and the cheese capital of Alkmaar. In spring, enjoy the rainbow palette of the Netherlands’ vast tulip fields. ABTA says: “A country that effortlessly blends the ultra-modern with its rich historical legacy. With Rotterdam hosting the Eurovision Song Contest 2020 and Dordrecht celebrating its 800th birthday in 2020, these are just two of many reasons to visit.” Getting there: There are direct flights to the Netherlands (average flight time: one hour and 15 minutes) from Aberdeen, Belfast, Birmingham, Bristol, Cardiff, Doncaster, Durham, East Midlands, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Hull, Inverness, Leeds, Liverpool, London (all), Manchester, Newcastle, Norwich and Southampton.
Picturesque South Korea, known as the “land of morning calm” thanks to its spellbinding tranquillity at dawn, features ski slopes atop craggy mountains, peaceful beaches on remote islands and dazzling landscapes. For urban thrills, head to the centre of Seoul, where round-the-clock activity entertains and a tantalising culinary menu satisfies. Top attractions include Gyeongbokgung Palace, N Seoul Tower, Bukchon Hanok Village and Changdeokgung, a Joseon Dynasty palace and gardens. ABTA says: “South Korea is already a leading cultural power in the Far East, but its reach is going global, driven by world-class films, food and the blockbuster phenomenon of K-pop.” Getting there: There are direct flights (average flight time: 11 hours and 30 minutes) from London Heathrow.
Uruguay might be South America’s smallest country, but it certainly compensates for its small size with unique experiences. Explore cosmopolitan Montevideo, party in glamorous Punta del Este, spot wildlife along the Atlantic coast, take a hot-air balloon above sprawling vineyards or head out on horseback to trek with gauchos. Montevideo, its vibrant capital that is home to nearly half of Uruguay’s population, combines beach ambience with café culture, and is where Belle Époque, Art Deco and modernist architecture combine. Outside the city is the Santa Teresa National Park, a coastal, forested area featuring an 18th-century fort and hiking trails, and Quebrada de los Cuervos, a protected natural area and the largest canyon in Uruguay. ABTA says: “A compact gem, with spectacular landscapes, lovely cities and incredible steaks – Uruguay is one of the smallest countries in South America, but it packs a lot into its land mass.” Getting there: There are only indirect flight options available, with connections available via Madrid-Barajas and São Paulo-Guarulhos airports.
When it comes to culture, there are few cities that can compete with Vienna. The Austrian capital boasts remarkable architectural sights in Gothic, Baroque and modernist styles, more than 100 museums, more than 140 art galleries and, of course, classical music and café culture at every turn. Over half of Vienna’s metropolitan area is made up of green space, with an incredible 120 square metres of green space per resident. The Volksgarten, in the Innere Stadt first district of Vienna and part of the Hofburg Palace, may be the pick of the bunch. ABTA says: “In 2020, this beautiful city will celebrate the 250th anniversary of the birth of Beethoven. Vienna has also been named the most liveable city in the world for the past two years, which visitors will be sure to agree with.” Getting there: There are direct flights (average flight time: two hours) from Birmingham, Bristol, Edinburgh, Leeds, London (Gatwick, Heathrow and Luton) and Manchester. ABTAmag.com
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7. â€œPlatoonâ€? director (6,5) 8. Sharp end (5) 9. German philosopher Immanuel (4) 11. Speak (3) 12. Large teapot (3) 13. Weeding implement (3) 14. Harbour nudgers (4) 16. Namely (2,3) 18. Flexible dining hours at sea (4,7)
1. Essay (11) 2. Largest Mediterranean island (6) 3. Ignored (4,3) 4. Inquire of (3) 5. Cruise destination in 13 Down (4) 6. In the spotlight (6,5) 10. In place (7) 13. Mid-Pacific volcanic island (6) 15. Technical whiz (4) 17. Tyre pressure measure (1,1,1)
Sudoku JULY SOLUTIONS
64 January 2020
2 : 1
5 $ 6
Where in the world?
The same city is pictured in each of these four images. Can you name it?
Julyâ€™s answer was: Marseille
How many words can you make out of these letters? There is at least one nine-letter word
January 2020 65
Final word Steve Abrahamson
Each issue, we speak to an ABTA employee about their work. This time, it’s Steve Abrahamson, pictured below left, ABTA senior manager membership and risk
y main day-to-day job involves managing the membership team as well as our risk and onboarding functions, but in recent months my activities have been dominated by my other responsibility: overseeing ABTA’s claims team. ABTA’s financial protection offer is an extremely important part of the ABTA promise and, of course, ABTA’s role as a government-approved body under the Package Travel Regulations. To support that promise, we hold bonds totalling hundreds of millions of pounds, as well as shortfall insurance arrangements with our subsidiary, ABTA Insurance PCC Ltd, which provides a backup to those bonds. Understandably, the main media focus when Thomas Cook failed was the thousands of customers covered by ATOL who needed to be flown home. However, there were also customers who travelled out on non-flight-based packages, which were ABTA’s responsibility, or who had booked through the retail businesses. In situations like these, just like the Civil Aviation Authority, we will issue guarantees of payment to hotels and, if need be, rearrange return transport to the UK where customers may have travelled by road, rail or sea. I’m very lucky that I have an extremely experienced claims manager, Sue Coomber, who has more than 30 years of experience in dealing with what can often be very difficult circumstances. Not all hotels are willing to play ball, especially if they are owed a lot of money, but she can generally get them to be cooperative and see that the failure is not the customer’s fault. Supporting members is a key part of our role. For the first 15 days of the operation ABTA hosted daily industry briefing calls for members, alongside the CAA, with up to 350 delegates dialling in. The failure is a complex one, with five companies involved, each holding ATOL and ABTA accreditation. In addition, the UK airline also failed. The tour operator, the two Thomas Cook-branded retailers and both the Freedom Travel Group and Future Travel failed. So this was also the first failure of a CAA ATOL Accredited Body (Freedom) and of a hosted agents business (Future), which
66 January 2020
meant that 156 independent franchise businesses operating under Freedom had to be supported and re-accredited. I am pleased to say that the vast majority were successfully adopted by other ABTA members, as were the majority of personal travel agents. Currently we have set aside three meeting rooms in Park Street with 15 people working for us. They have been very busy fielding queries from Thomas Cook customers and the many ABTA members for whom Thomas Cook acted as an agent. It’s for this reason that if you were recently due to attend a training event at ABTA you will have been redirected to another venue. Fortunately, we have a lot of options in the area! In addition to this team, we retain three companies that specialise in claims handling predominantly for the insurance industry that are working with us on these claims. In the days after the failure when we were inundated with calls, we also employed an off-site call centre to help with providing assistance to customers. Due to ABTA’s high profile we will often take calls from customers who are covered by ATOL rather than us, but regardless, if the company was an ABTA member we have an obligation to help and assist them – even if we are just signposting them in the right direction to enable them to get the correct information on their booking or claim. Our aim is to pay valid claims as soon as possible. In fact, we started making payments within a week of Thomas Cook failing. One of the biggest challenges we face is people providing incorrect documentation. They can become frustrated as this will delay their claim, but we simply cannot refund without the right paperwork. Although not everyone is understanding of the situation, it can be very rewarding when customers thank us for refunding their money or protecting their trip. Given the unprecedented complexity and scale of this failure, we think that the industry can be proud that the benefits of booking protected travel arrangements through an ABTA member have been so strongly reinforced – albeit in such sad circumstances. ABTA.com
The By Waterfront In September 2018, Waterfront, the publisher of ABTA Magazine and Cruise Adviser, launched a new creative agency. The Studio by Waterfront specialises in design solutions across print, web and social media. The Studio offers a tailored approach for all clients, with copywriting, proofreading and design elements available, in the following areas:
PRINT Catalogues, brochures, leaflets, exhibition stand designs and magazines
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Trade Publication of the Year. Anthony Pearce heads to Antarctica on a trip of a lifetime; Sam Ballard speaks to Gold Medal and Travel 2; an...
Published on Jan 2, 2020
Trade Publication of the Year. Anthony Pearce heads to Antarctica on a trip of a lifetime; Sam Ballard speaks to Gold Medal and Travel 2; an...