SELLING TRAVEL • APRIL 2019
APRIL 2019 • SELLINGTRAVEL.CO.UK
TRAVEL TRADE PUBLICATION OF THE YEAR 2018
South Pacific • Korea • All-Inclusives • Zimbabwe • Guernsey • Maldives • Florida • Belize • Thailand • Golf Holidays • Mississippi
INTO THE BLUE Remote and exclusive, the islands of the South Pacific are the ultimate Great Escape
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WE TRAVEL FURTHER TO BRING YOU MORE FEATURES 08 All-inclusive 35 39 44 66
Holidays: Adding value and saving money Thailand: Twin-centres Golf Holidays: Teeing off around the world South Pacific: Island updates Maldives: Ten luxurious resorts
52 32 66 44
QUICK READS 16 Destination update: Zimbabwe
50 Visit USA: Members' news
52 Exploring: Florida's
32 My Journey: Belize 43 48 hours in...
64 Travel Uni: Partner news
70 My Journey: Mississippi 72 Exploring: Korea 74 Final Word: The quirky side of travel
THE REVIEW 56 Top news stories plus
TALKING SHOP 17 News, competitions, incentives, fams trips, columns, event coverage and more. MALDIVES
66 Please note that Selling Travel, owned and published by BMI Publishing Ltd., is not connected in any way to Selling Travel e-magazine published by SMP Training Co. and based in British Columbia, Canada. The latter online publication focuses exclusively on sales skills and all aspects of professional selling within the travel and tourism sectors. To benefit from this travel industry sales training resource visit sellingtravel.net
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TRADE PUBLICATION OF THE YEAR – PRINT & ONLINE
Proudly published by BMI Publishing Ltd © 2019 Suffolk House, George St, Croydon, Surrey, CR9 1SR, UK T 020 8649 7233 F 020 8649 7234 email@example.com bmipublishing.co.uk sellingtravel.co.uk
SALES & EDITORIAL: Publishers: Steve Thompson & Sally Parker Advertising Manager: Lisa Merrigan Editorial Director: Steve Hartridge Deputy Editor: Laura Gelder Staff Journalists: Jessica Pook and Sasha Wood Group Editor: Andy Hoskins Contributing Editor: Julie Baxter
DESIGN & PRODUCTION Senior Designer: Louisa Horton Designers: Ross Clifford, Zoë Tarrant and Caitlan Francis Production Manager: Clare Hunter Managing Director: Matt Bonner CEO: Martin Steady We are members of the Caribbean Tourism Organization, Visit USA Association, LATA, PATA, MENATA, SATOA, the Foreign Airlines Association and the Institute of Travel & Tourism. Whilst every effort is made to ensure accuracy, BMI Publishing cannot be held responsible for any errors or omissions. ISSN: 2056-9319. Cover image: To Sua Ocean Trench © Samoa Tourism Authority Subscribe for free! sellingtravel.co.uk/subscribe
am writing this column a day before the UK was originally due to leave the EU – except we aren't leaving tomorrow after all. When we might now leave is still anyone’s guess. Perhaps it will be April 12, or maybe May 22, but it could just as well be Father’s Day (June 16), Battle of the Boyne Day (July 12), Guy Fawkes Night (November 5) or Christmas Day (you know when that is). Or perhaps we will never leave. That seems to be the desire of most of our MPs and it is also the prediction of a clairvoyant in Brighton whose usual day job is telling day-trippers whether or not they are liklely to get rich. Apparently, she has ‘seen’ partying in the street after Theresa May is given the boot and Brexit is stopped in a second referendum. Steve Hartridge “The star card appeared, which symbolises a renewed sense of faith EDITORIAL DIRECTOR and hope,” she told the local Brighton newspaper. “We can all start to look forward to a carnival atmosphere,” she added. If that comes true, it will be music to the ears of travel agents up and down the country who, like just almost everybody else, are just craving a little certainty. Experts when it comes to selling travel, they have found it challenging knowing what to tell customers concerned about Brexit. “I have trod the line between nonchalant and reassuring,” says Homeworker James Hill, in our regular Four-Sight feature on page 18. Another one of our contributing agents, Roger Benchmark, admitted that February and March were tough months as the questions over Brexit piled up. The bottom line, of course, is we all have to carry on, doing our jobs to the best of our abilities, and just wait to see what our dithering politicians deliver. Or, as Nick Ross, presenter of Crimewatch used to say when signing oﬀ each episode: "Don’t have nightmares”. Enjoy this issue.
This publication is printed on Revivew 100 Media and Revive recycled coated, recycled paper grades that are FSC® Recycled certified and Carbon Balanced.
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Industry comments "Whilst we have seen no evidence that Brits are holding back on booking their holidays, it seems that more holidaymakers are looking to book money-saving all-inclusive breaks this year."
"With new hotels, restaurants and developments, such as the ICON Siam shopping centre, opening all the time, visitors will find something new each time they visit Bangkok."
Alan Harding, Director, On the Beach Marketing
Emma Arnott, Trade Manager, Tourism Thailand
See feature, page 8
See feature, page 35
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early bird best price
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Book online at titanagents.co.uk *£99pp deposit is available on the majority of Titan holidays. †Mainland UK only.
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UK & Europe
DESTINATION NSW ROADSHOW 2019 LIVERPOOL: The Royal Liver Building, Pier Head - 16 May 2019 from 6-10pm LONDON: Stephen Street Kitchen, Fitzrovia - 20 May 2019 from 6-10pm Come along and meet Sydney and New South Wales tourism suppliers at a fun and informative event. Be in with a chance to win great prizes on the night including one of two tickets to Sydney with Qantas at each event!
Don’t miss out – register now! sellingtravel.co.uk/dnswroadshow
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the big picture
Saksun Streymoy, Faroe Islands
Green goals For one weekend this month, the Faroe Islands will be closing its doors to tourists – for maintenance. The only outsiders allowed in will be 100 volunteers who will be tasked with kick-starting the ‘preservolution’, a phrase coined by Visit Faroe Islands to encapsulate its ongoing mission to preserve the archipelago’s nature and culture and ensure tourism evolves – in short, an exciting new model for sustainable tourism! visitfaroeislands.com preservolution.com
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Demand for all-inclusive holidays continues to rise as holidaymakers look for value and to protection against currency ﬂuctuations, says Kathryn Liston
y alarm goes oﬀ in the early hours. I peep over the duvet just as the sun peers over the horizon, bathing the beautiful bay in a golden glow. The sea is like a millpond. Cats rhythmically arch and dip their slender backs to reawaken their sleepy bodies. Dogs thrust their bottoms in the air and stretch their legs, bowing their heads to the ground. Then come the frogs, grasshoppers – then the camels and cows. Reader, don’t be alarmed, I’m not being overrun by animals. I am enjoying a sunrise outdoor yoga class which includes poses named after these animals. It is one of many activities included in a Mark Warner holiday. It’s not often I set my alarm on holiday but this refreshing class is worth the early start. As the day awakens, and the sun slowly rises, so do we, stretching out bodies and communing with nature as the instructor takes us through rotations of ‘sun salutations’. They are rewarded - the
sun shines brilliantly above as I head into breakfast before trying out windsurﬁng, one of the many water sports on oﬀer. Lessons are available but guests are welcome to dip in and out of any of the activities and classes on oﬀer. Unfortunately, I take them at their word and spend the morning dipping in and out of the water as I try to tame the sail.
All for one Olympic Holidays has seen increased demand for all-inclusive holidays across all hotel categories – and it urges agents to recommend all-inclusive upgrades to clients when they are available. “Quite often the additional amount to upgrade is very attractive, so it’s deﬁnitely worth keeping an eye out for the ‘All Inclusive Available’ tag on our website,” says the operator, adding that despite uncertainty surrounding the future of the UK economy, customers are pretty quick to snap up value-for-money holidays.
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ALL-INCLUSIVES IN THE CARIBBEAN OFTEN OFFER SPORTS LIKE SAILING
“Whilst we have seen no evidence that Brits are holding back on booking their holidays, it seems that more holidaymakers are looking to book moneysaving all-inclusive breaks this year” Alan Harding, Director, On the Beach Marketing
Popular hotels for Olympic in 2019 and 2020 include the new luxury Ikos Aria, Kos, four-star Blue Bay Resort, Crete, and threestar plus Golden Odyssey, Rhodes, a “good value for money all inclusive option for those with a budget that can’t quite stretch to four-star”. All-inclusive breaks accounted for 50% of On the Beach bookings made to January 2019 – up from 46% during the same period last year. Almost two thirds (62%) of family bookings were for all-inclusive holidays (up 58%); 44% of couples’ bookings and 39% of group getaways were booked on an all-inclusive basis; and Spain, Greece and Turkey were the most popular destinations. Alan Harding, On the Beach Marketing Director, says: “Whilst we have seen no evidence that Brits are holding back on booking their holidays, it seems that more holidaymakers are looking to book moneysaving all-inclusive breaks this year.” Comparison website, TravelSupermarket, has seen a 14% increase in searches for allinclusive holidays for summer 2019. All-inclusive now accounts for 31% of all holiday price searches, compared to 19% for B&B, 16% for half-board and 4% for full-board. Benidorm (Costa Blanca) has seen the biggest increase – up 113% on
the same period last year. However, price is not the only factor, says Audrey Hervel, Head of Sales at Veranda Resorts and Heritage Resorts in Mauritius. “All-inclusive customers are now looking for aspirational experiences as well,” she says. “We endeavour to systematically train travel agents and tour operators selling our properties that it is always better to give clients an indication of the (cost of) extras in resorts and explain the beneﬁts of going for all-inclusive.” She says the ﬁve-star Heritage Awali Golf & Spa Resort has seen double-digit growth of its optional Premium All Inclusive package, which includes a quad biking tour in its nature reserve, speciality dinners and a tour to the coloured earths of Chamarel.
Top experiences Fine dining: Guests can enjoy menus created by Michelin-starred chefs and eat out at local restaurants at Ikos resorts in Greece. Holidaymakers at Ikos Aria, Kos, can also get the use of a new mini for the day to explore the island. Spectacular shows: Forget karaoke, spectacular Cirque du Soleil-style acrobatics shows with video projections are featured at the family-friendly Fantasia
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The only true all inclusive resort
The largest 128-acre resort in Dubai with three, 5-star hotels and 800 rooms and suites. • Over 23 restaurants and bars • 800 metres of golden sand beach • 4 tennis courts • World-class 9-hole, par 35, championship golf course • 6 temperature-controlled swimming pools with swim-up bars • Private 85-berth full service marina • Water sports centre • Fitness Centre • Calm Spa & Salon • Kid’s play area • Horse riding • Shooting club • Mini golf
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WATERSPORTS, HERITAGE RESORTS, MAURITIUS
DINING AT IKOS RESORTS IN GREECE
Bahia Principe Tenerife. New for 2019 is the ‘Carnival of Elements’ show, focusing on the creation of Tenerife. Going Solo: All-inclusive is not just for families. Single travellers prefer adult-only all-inclusive hotels over multigenerational properties, even where prices may be a little higher, says Friendship Travel, which has introduced the renovated ﬁve-star The Raga Side, Turkey, this summer. VERANDA POINTE AUX BICHES HOTEL, MAURITIUS
Fitness fanatics: Water-sports, scuba diving and a huge array of ﬁtness classes - yoga, pilates, spinning - are included The BodyHoliday’s all-inclusive holidays in St Lucia - plus holidaymakers receive a daily massage or spa treatment to ease away any strains.
“We endeavour to train travel agents selling our properties that it is always What’s New Culture: The ﬁve-star Rixos Saadiyat Island better to give clients an (saadiyatisland.rixos.com), Abu Dhabi’s ﬁrst indication of the (cost of) all-inclusive resort, opened late last year extras in resorts and explain oﬀering six restaurants, spa, gym, kids club, the benefits of going for all- private beach and water park with wave pool. It is situated close to famous Sheikh inclusive” Audrey Hervel, Head of Sales, Veranda Resorts & Heritage Resorts, Mauritius
HERITAGE AWALI GOLF & SPA RESORT
Zayed Grand Mosque. Ikos (ikosresorts.com) will open its fourth all-inclusive property, Ikos Aria, on Kos island next month (May) - and a ﬁfth in
Andalusia in May 2020, its ﬁrst outside Greece. The luxury Kos hotel will feature 373 contemporary rooms and suites (some with private pool), seven à la carte restaurants, a spa and kids clubs. One of Dubai’s most established allinclusive properties, JA Beach Hotel, is undergoing a major renovation between May and August this year. There will be an enhanced facade; new, all-glass balconies for rooms and suites to improve sea views over its 800-metre private beach; and a new decor for bedrooms, with modern wood tile ﬂooring, new beds and furniture in a fresh colour scheme of soft greys, neutrals and relaxing royal blue. All F&B outlets will be refurbished and the CoolZone Kid’s Club will be relocated and doubled in size. The ﬁvestar property accompanies the new JA Lake View Hotel (opening September 2019) and the all-suite JA Palm Tree Court to become Dubai’s Largest Experience Resort Multimedia theatrical shows and a fairytale castle take centre stage at the fantasythemed ﬁve-star all-inclusive Fantasia Bahia Principe Tenerife (bahia-principe.com), which opened last December. Facilities include a waterpark, kids spa treatments and clubs for children and teens.
DINING IS A BIG SELLER FOR ALL-INCLUSIVE HOLIDAYS
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TIME IS SO PRECIOUS, SMART COUPLES STEAL IT.
Somewhere in the world there is a place where two people can spend time alone and the only clock-watchers are the sun and stars. No schedules. No distractions. No interruptions. Nothing but time.
Welcome to Rendezvous. Like its name, it is designed for couples. An intimate boutique resort on the island of Saint Lucia in the Caribbean Sea. Secluded, tranquil and tailor-made for stolen moments. A corner of paradise reserved for two, it is a private oasis and– quite simply – the perfect setting for reconnecting, rediscovering and celebrating life’s pleasures together.
To learn more call 0203 096 1629
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With two miles of white sand beach and exotic tropical gardens-by-the-sea, the only outside influence here is entirely at your discretion – impeccable service with exceptional food, premium beverages and a wealth of amenities and activities that are all included in the holiday price. Discover Rendezvous for your discerning clients, looking for a quality all-inclusive resort.
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Affordable boutique luxury at sea 2020 marks the completion of our new fleet of boutique cruise liners, as Spirit of Adventure joins her sister-ship Spirit of Discovery on the ocean wave. To mark the occasion, both ships will be all inclusive from 2020, making our luxury boutique cruises even more affordable. Our new ships herald a new era of British cruising. These are no mega-liners but elegant, smaller ships offering all the style and service of the world’s finest hotels. Your customers will experience a world of luxury on board, with a private balcony for every guest, complimentary speciality dining in a choice of restaurants, sophisticated entertainment spaces and a beautiful wraparound promenade. Award-winning value As well as Best Cruise Line for Solo Travellers, we’re proud to have won Best Value for Money Cruise Line at the 2019 Wave Awards. We work hard to include as much as we can in our prices, so this award means the world to us. A huge thank you to everyone who gave us their support.
Every Spirit of Discovery or Spirit of Adventure cruise includes… • A return chauffeur service up to 250 miles from the port • A cabin with a balcony • Speciality dining in a choice of restaurants • Unlimited on-board drinks from 2020 • 24-hour room service • All on-board gratuities • Free Wi-Fi • Porterage at the port, and more.
Saga’s cruises are exclusively for the over 50s, but a travelling companion can be 40+. NTA-SC1685.
Book online at sagaagents.co.uk, call FREE on 0800 074 8021 or contact Agency Sales FREE on 0800 068 8732 Visit our new online training platform at sagaexperts.co.uk Find us on social media Saga Trade Team Saga’s cruises are exclusively for the over 50s, but a travelling companion can be 40+.
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021 732 o.uk am
The Grill offers al fresco dining
The Club by Jools Holland
Our 250-mile chauffeur service NOW NATURA RIVIERA CANCUN
WILD COAST TENTED LODGE, YALA, SRI LANKA
CIRQUE DU SOLEIL
The Mayan and jungle-themed Now InsideJapan (insidejapantours.com) has Natura Riviera Cancun (nowresorts.com) will increased departures of its 12 night All-In open in December 2019. The 556-room Japan tour from two a year to seven. The allresort will feature AMResorts’ Unlimitedinclusive tour includes Bullet Train, meals, Luxury® oﬀering which includes 24-hour drink and accommodation in independent Next month we’ll be announcing our food and drinks and limitless á la carte hotels and traditional Ryokan guest houses 2020 cruises with British music legend dining and activities. and visits to Tokyo, Kyoto, and Kanazawa. Jools Holland on board. These itineraries The ﬁve-star Faarufushi have been very (faarufushi.com) popular in 2019, so openedkeep in theaRaa Atoll in and the Maldives last to Where to book it look out book early February with 80 contemporary villas, three HAYES & JARVIS – 01293 762456 avoid disappointment. restaurants and two bars. A dine-around allA ﬁve-night Splendours of Sri Lanka inclusive option costs $123.20 (£93)pppn. Boutique tour followed by three nights at Tour operators : Mark Warner (markwarner. the ﬁve-star Wild Coast Tented Lodge in co.uk) has added the Paleros Beach Resort the Yala on an all-inclusive basis costs from on the Ionian coast of western Greece to its £2,899pp (on October 7) and includes ﬂights programme. The property’s 130 rooms will from Gatwick with Emirates. undergo a multi-million euro refurbishment hayesandjarvis.co.uk to ﬁve-star standard of its. The operator also OLYMPIC HOLIDAYS – 0208 492 6868 added the Phokaia Beach Resort in Turkey Seven nights at Ikos Aria, Kos, starts from earlier this year. £1,759pp on an ultra all-inclusive basis Just Sicily (justsicily.co.uk) has introduced during May half-term. It includes ﬂights the refurbished Voi Marsa Sicla resort in the from Gatwick, accommodation, meals and south-east of the island. drinks, baggage and taxi transfers. An all-Inclusive ultra package includes a olympicholidays.com welcome gift of local products, all meals SAGA HOLIDAYS – 0800 074 8021 and selected drinks, beach shuttle, activities A twin-centre combining two luxury alland spa with heated seawater pools. Prices inclusives stays at Kamala Beach Resort start from £538pp for seven nights on an in Phuket and the X10 Khaolak Resort, all-inclusive basis in May excluding ﬂights from £1,999pp including VIP door-to-door and transfers. transfers. sagaagents.co.uk
New dates for Jools Holland!
“Comparison website TravelSupermarket has seen a 14% increase in searches for all-inclusive holidays for summer 2019. All-inclusive now accounts for 31% of all holiday price searches compared to 19% for B&B, 16% for half-board and 4% for full-board”
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Zimbabwe: after the cyclone The Southern African country is once more showing its resilience in the aftermath of Cyclone Idai, says Lauren Jarvis
On March 14, Cyclone Idai made landfall near the low-lying port city of Beira in Mozambique, blasting the land with winds of up to 110mph. The storm – believed to be the worst weather disaster ever to hit the southern hemisphere – raged east, lashing Zimbabwe and then Malawi with torrential rains, destroying buildings and homes, and turning farmland into inland seas. By a cruel irony, March 14 also marked the opening of the One Planet Summit in Nairobi, Kenya, which brought world leaders together to discuss the impacts of climate change on Africa.
Open for Business For Zimbabwe, a country still emerging from the economic shadow of ex-President Robert Mugabe’s regime and experiencing a shaky start under new hope, President Emmerson Mnangagwa, the cyclone has dealt another challenging blow. The eastern districts of Chimanimani and Chipinge, close to Zimbabwe's border with Mozambique, bore the brunt of the storm. But while the tragedy claimed over 150 lives here, with many more missing, much of the country was thankfully spared: a blessing that has left all of the major tourist destinations open, and urgently needed visitor revenue coming in. “Its been a diﬃcult time for Zimbabwe, but the country is showing typical resilience,” says Tim Henshall, Chief Executive of Kamageo (kamageo.com), who heads up the newly formed Zimbabwe Tourism Organisation (ZIMTO), funded by the private sector and supported by the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA). “I can reassure travellers that all the main tourist circuits, including Victoria Falls, Hwange National Park, Mana Pools, Lake Kariba, Great Zimbabwe and Matobo National Park are unaﬀected, and it remains safe to travel to these amazing destinations. “Tourism is a key revenue earner for the country, so every visitor helps the economy to recover from situations like this,” he said. "The Victoria Falls region wasn’t aﬀected
by Cyclone Idai, but the local community here has given overwhelming support to our fellow Zimbabweans in assisting with rescue eﬀorts and the delivery of aid, including blankets and clothing,” says Bryony Acutt, Group Sales & Brand Manager at Africa Albida Tourism (africaalbidatourism.com), which operates a range of luxury hotels, lodges and restaurants in Victoria Falls. “Thankfully, tourism has not been aﬀected, with ﬂights still arriving and tours going ahead as anticipated,” adds Phil Dobinson, Managing Director of Zambezi Cruise & Safaris (zambezicruisesafaris.com),
“Zimbabwe’s wildlife centres of Hwange and Mana Pools were unaffected by the cyclone. Sadly, the Eastern Highlands was badly hit and anyone planning to visit should first check with their local representative” Karl Parkinson, Partnerships Manager, African Bush Camps
The King Has Returned At February's sold-out Safari Roadshow in London, Tim Henshall revealed a new ZIMTO marketing initiative, launching this July. ‘The King Has Returned’ campaign will echo the storyline of Disney’s The Lion King and feature the male oﬀspring of Cecil the lion, 'back to claim his throne’ with a pride of his own. zimbabwetourism.net *To donate to the Disasters Emergency Committee Cyclone Idai Appeal, go to dec.org.uk
BOOK IT WITH.... ZAMBEZI CRUISE & SAFARIS A 10-night Iconic Zambezi tour includes Pamuzinda Safari Lodge, near Harare, Mana Pools Safari Lodge, Kariba Lodge, a cruise on Lake Kariba, Masumu River Lodge and two nights at Victoria Falls. From £2,760 +263 86 8800; zambezicruisesafaris.com
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Talking Shop INSPIRED BY YOU T h e i n s i d e t ra c k o n t ra v e l
Titan's new brochure
TITAN has just launched its flagship Worldwide brochure which includes 16 new itineraries. The brochure features the operator's full range of tours for 2020, with new additions such as Hawai'i and Costa Rica. To celebrate, agents who make an online booking will be rewarded with a ÂŁ20 Lifestyle voucher. titanagents.co.uk
BA hosts agent.tsKitts S on a whirlwindt m re on trip. Find ou 4 o page 2
Drive time with A&K ABERCROMBIE & KENT is offering complimentary car hire across several destinations when booking a new luxury, tailor-made summer holiday or villa to select European destinations, USA or South Africa by April 23. abercrombiekent.co.uk
Cash in with Carnival
May 16 & 20
DESTINATION NEW SOUTH WALES ROADSHOW Meet Sydney and New South Wales tourism suppliers at a fun and informative event. Be in with a chance to win great prizes on the night including one of two tickets to Sydney with Qantas at each event! Register online at sellingtravel.co.uk/events
AGENTS can earn 20 points per booking with every Carnival cruise booked in April. These 20 points have the equivalent value of ÂŁ20 and can be exchanged for holidays, gifts and experiences. loyaltyrocksclub.com
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As the original 'B-day' approached at the close of March, we asked our fearless four columnists: how is Brexit affecting your business?
Full house for Anneka's Canada event
Palma, Majorca, where James relaxed this March
Our customers are keener than ever to put their money into holidays IT’S BEEN a busy month for us at Southern Cross Travel. Normally around this time of year things quieten down a little after a manic peak season and we all have time to catch our breath, but so far March isn’t slowing down – not that we’re complaining! One would expect the prospect of Brexit to affect forward bookings, but I can honestly say that between our two offices only three customers in the last six months have asked how it would affect their holiday plans. It seems they are keener than ever to put their money into holidays and are committing to trips as far ahead as late 2020. We feel very encouraged by this, and it's certainly heartening to see this and enjoy the strength of our loyal and committed customers at an unstable time in the UK. Talking of keen and enthusiastic clients, it was wonderful to see so many prospective customers at our very own Canada Evening in early March, which we hosted at the historic Mermaid Inn in Rye with the help of partners Prestige Holidays, APT and Rocky Mountaineer. We had a lovely evening of wine, food and presentations on Canada, sharing our love of this magnificent country with many enthusiastic clients and fantastic suppliers. We have since had Canada enquiries flooding in and we’re all busy planning and booking tailor-made itineraries for 2019 and 2020. Nothing beats the opportunity to meet customers face to face; it's a key part of our ethos as an independent travel agency.
I have trod the line between nonchalant and reassuring nothing will really change" – and being totally honest – "I haven’t a clue and frankly any government who can give a freight contract to a firm with no ships cannot really be trusted when they say the planes will keep flying!" No-one seems clear about how those with passports with more than 10 years' validity will fare entering European countries – I have already experienced long queues to enter Germany, with UK passengers last into the deserted baggage hall to see their cases making their lonely way around the carousel. As for my own coping mechanism, well as you read this, I will have returned from a relaxing few days exploring old haunts in Majorca. Back just in time for March 29!
THE FAMILY BUSINESS
Southern Cross Travel, East Sussex
Go Cruise, Cruise specialist, Worcestershire
BREXIT. By the time these words appear in print, we may still be European with a delayed deadline, out with an agreement that no-one has read, let alone understood, or out with a bump due to a hard landing. I wonder which it will be? Life will carry on whatever the situation, but selling travel really has been a challenge for me over the past three months as the 'deadline' has approached, because my main focus is on European River cruises. Most clients have asked me the inevitable question: “How will this affect us?” As a commission-only agent, my income depends on making sales – and that in turn depends on my ability to give clients the confidence to book. I have trod the fine line between being nonchalant and reassuring – "no worries...
3/29/19 12:07 PM
This month our newsletter gave updates on post-travel Brexit AS MARCH 28 comes ever closer everyone is talking about Brexit and we're sure your customers will have asked you how it will affect their holiday plans. I am also sure many Selling Travel readers know a lot more about Brexit than us, so what we thought we would do is share some of the tools that we think are great for keeping in contact with your customers and reassuring them after they have booked with you. Mail Chimp is a fantastic free email marketing tool that lets you create professional-looking emails and mass mail them to customers. It also gives you the power to personalise parts of the email, such as first names. At Venture Travel we use this for our monthly newsletter, which this month gave our customers some updates in regards to post-travel Brexit, along with offers and other company updates. Creating a Facebook group where all your customers can interact with each other and answer each other’s questions is also a fantastic way to reduce your workload and create a community for your customers which could turn into a USP. Whatsapp have been developing a new group feature which is fantastic for keeping in contact with your customers. Unlike Facebook groups, where everyone can message each other, the Whatsapp group feature only allows the admin of the group to send messages and removes any opportunities for your customers to have debates on divisive subjects such as Brexit!
AN INDEPENDENT agency formed 16 years ago, we’ve seen a fair few ups and downs in the travel industry. We realised that to continue to grow and compete with the internet we had to be as diverse as possible, and we now have a strong affinity and member service from our Travel Clubs and seven websites, as well as two shops. Despite the industry forecasting doom and gloom, we still decided to staff up for the usually busy first three months of the year. The state of the economy always has an effect on booking patterns but one can usually predict it. Brexit, however, is different. We had a good January, with figures up on previous years. In February we struggled to maintain figures but for March we have fallen off a cliff, with sales down 13% . The most common reasons for people enquiring, but not booking, because of Brexit are: Passport validity, following scare stories in the press; worries about budgeting; and people concerned about big queues at immigration or needing a visa. Plus some more obscure questions like: Will the hotels be open? And will people still welcome us? When we had a fixed date for leaving there seemed to be an end in sight to all this uncertainty and a hope that the bookings would flood back, but with uncertainy prevailing, I'm sad to say we’ve had to let a member of staff go. On a happier note, I'm pleased we are developing our own tours again, including a Murder in Paradise tour of Guadeloupe, following a fam trip I went on!
I'm sad to say we’ve had to let a member of staff go
THE ONLINE AGENCY
Venture Travel, Mold, North Wales
Managing Director, Benchmark Travel
Ben & Hugh
Roger in the Guadeloupe jungle
Next month our columniusts will talk about: InteleTravel being granted an ABTA license
3/29/19 12:07 PM
The event WHAT: Guernsey Dialogue WHERE: Glasgow, Leeds and Gatwick WHEN: February 25, 26 & 27 WHY: To spread the word about this beautiful Channel Island and why clients need not travel farther for worldclass beaches.
It’s renowned for its gin and has a number of distilleries on the island – try Randalls Brewery for a local tipple
of our audience had sold a trip to Guernsey within the last six months GLASGOW WINNER: FIONA BIBBY FROM THE TRAVEL ARCHITECT
Selling Travel was joined by VisitGuernsey and leading tour operators Airways Holidays, Premier Holidays and Prestige Holidays, who were on hand to answer trade questions about the island and oﬀer three agents a chance to visit Guernsey themselves. Speaking at the Leeds event, Michelle Harriman from Worldchoice said: “Guernsey is proving increasingly popular with clients of mine, I actually had two recent enquiries within two days and sold a two-week holiday costing £3,169 just the other day! I ﬁnd Guernsey a good recommendation for clients interested in history or walking.” Wendy Pedder, VisitGuernsey, added: “It was great to see so many agents at our events. The informal format gave us the chance to answer the agents’ questions and get a real conversation going about our destination.”
Don’t miss our next event coming near you. sellingtravelmag
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The event Guernsey fast facts • You don’t need a passport for Guernsey
WE ASKED AGENTS: WHAT SPRINGS TO MIND WHEN YOU THINK OF GUERNSEY?
GATWICK WINNER: GABY SCHOLES (CENTRE), HALLMARK TRAVEL
nature cows beaches quaint scenic gin great food relaxation
• The island has seen a pique in interest since the 2018 ﬁlm The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society – a romantic drama about the Guernsey residents during WWII. The “Potato Peel Pie Experience” oﬀers a guided tour of locations featured in the book/ﬁlm • There are two Red Carnation Hotels, one of which is a ﬁve-star property • Try to spot the elusive blonde hedgehog when visiting Alderney • Guernsey is where Victor Hugo wrote Les Misérables whilst living on the island - his house will reopen to visitors this month
Island hopping is a great way to see more of the Channel Islands and offers opportunities to visit sister islands Sark, Herm and Alderney
• There are no fast food restaurants on Guernsey – not even a McDonald’s – and Herm is a car-free island • Daily ferries to sister islands Sark, Herm and Alderney make an island hopping break easy
“IT WAS GOOD TO HEAR THE KEY SELLING POINTS FROM VISITGUERNSEY AND WHAT SETS THE ISLAND APART FROM ANY OTHER DESTINATION”
Visit sellingtravel.co.uk/events sellingtravelmag
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The event Guernsey fast facts There are 17 regional ﬂights from the UK to Guernsey, including two recently launched services from Heathrow and Newquay
“I LIKED THE SLIGHTLY INFORMAL CHARACTER OF THE EVENING – WE CAME AWAY WITH SOME REALLY USEFUL INFORMATION”
• Guernsey is great for watersports: its clear waters make for great paddleboarding and kayaking • St Peter Port is the capital, home to the picturesque Victoria Marina • A Guernsey menu will feature locally-sourced produce such as vegetables, creamy dairy products and freshly caught seafood • Guernsey was occupied by the Germans during WWII – bunkers and fortiﬁcations from that era are tourist attractions today. There’s also a rich maritime history of shipbuilding and smuggling
LEEDS WINNER: DEBRA DICKSON FROM THOMAS COOK
visit Guernsey because of the island-hopping opportunities to Herm, Sark and Alderney
Visit sellingtravel.co.uk/events sellingtravelmag
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S e l l i n g Tra v e l l i s t e n s
This month #agentstalk about... Get social with us:
TRAVEL AGENT RANTS & RAVES This month Jenny Jackson asks: "How do you explain to clients the benefits of booking with an agent rather than online?"
Jenny Jackson "I was once asked by a client what temperature the bottled water would be in the hotel?"
Founder of Luxury Travel Guru
“I say: I'm a professional, qualiﬁed travel agent. Don't undersell yourself, you're worth more! Also, it's a good idea to keep a note of those repeat oﬀenders and charge them when they ﬁrst place an enquiry or refuse them.” “It's also cheaper to dye your hair yourself, or do an oil change for your car. However, many pay others to do it without batting an eyelid. Why is this diﬀerent?” “I have eyes, ears, a heart, a soul, experience and knowledge. I listen to what you want and deliver on that, while managing your expectations, and I'm there for you every step of the way. I care that you have the best holiday
and experience possible, a computer doesn't have or do any of those things.”
cloud crisis, companies going bust, and fake companies on the internet.”
“The industry is not what it was a few years ago. Adapt or die.”
“I will sell you the holiday that is RIGHT for you, not the one that keeps appearing on every search you make online!”
“Ask them: what would happen if something goes wrong? If they book with an agent we are at the end of the phone. Remind them of the ash
a osted avel h ff justtr t n o a n B @ to m trip ski fa
INSTAFAM late Choco in the ieodea es in p @cath ip hil f the P Hills o
“I can request nice rooms, I know the good hotels and I know the rubbish ones.”
@cruisefa iryuk in BV I with @CruiseN orwegian
Going on a fam trip? Tag @sellingtravel in your #instafam and you could be here next month!
asked: ‘Can You advise Etihad that I only drink Fever Tree tonic with my gin’” “Genuine complaint about a cruise holiday from years ago: ‘I asked for an outside cabin but only the balcony was outside!’”
“A customer complained that I hadn’t told him there would be oil on the road in Naples which resulted in him having a bump in his hire car...”
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3/29/19 12:27 PM
British Airways' fam trip to St. Kitts
A flying visit to St. Kitts St. Kitts may be small but it certainly packs a punch when it comes to Caribbean ﬂair, as eight agents found out on a two-day British Airways' fam trip, held from March 18-20. The agents' welcome was warm and full of Kittitian spirit and included a few ‘Ting with a sting’ rum-based cocktails – a well-known tipple on the island. And it wasn’t long before they settled into the relaxed pace of the Caribbean. The ﬁrst taster of island food was oﬀered with lunch at the Belle Mont Farm, before the group checked into the Park Hyatt, a ﬁve-star resort that overlooks charming Christophe Harbour. The agents embarked on a full site visit at the swanky resort, with its three exellent restaurants, which opened in November 2017. This inspection was followed by a visit to the Sugar Bay Club Hotel Suites, located on the lively Frigate Bay, and set amidst ﬁve acres of beautifully landscaped gardens drifting down to the Atlantic Ocean. A short drive saw the group transfer to Timothy Beach, located on South Frigate Bay Beach – a golden stretch of sand with great snorkelling opportunities – and then onto the St. Kitts Marriott for a delicious seafood lunch before ﬁnishing with the Royal St. Kitts and its impressive golf course and private lagoon. The next overnight for the agents was the Ocean Terrace Inn (OTI), where they were treated to views of sister island, Nevis. The hotel is famous for serving up St. Kitts favourites such as salted codﬁsh and johnny cake.
Dinner was enjoyed at Marshall’s Restaurant in Frigate Bay, hosted by St Kitts Tourism Association. Along with enjoying a poolside setting, menu choices included crab cakes, lobster thermidor and house-made sorbets to cool down after a busy day. The ﬁnal day gave agents the chance to familiarise themselves with one of St. Kitts’ natural gems, the rainforest, which covers a third of the island. The best way to see it was via a rainforest jeep safari with local guide O’Neil (see his column, opposite). Commonly sighted are vervet monkeys and mongoose, along with 35 diﬀerent bird species. For those feeling up to it, there’s also the peak of Mount Liamuiga to summit, the highest point on the island. Even on such a short trip, the agents left having had a real St. Kitts experience that won’t be quickly forgotten. * British Airways operates a twice-weekly service to St. Kitts, via Antigua.
From top: Lobster thermidor at Marshall's Restaurant; the agents at Timothy Bay; enjoying the rainforest tour with O'Neil
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GOING WILD MAKING WAVES
I N T H E O F FI N I CT EH E O F F I C E
w i t h S a n d y ' s Tr a v e l E s c a p e s
A zest for travel With over 40 years of experience as a travel agent, Sandra Murray of Sandy's Travel Escapes, reminds us why this is "the best industry to be in" and how celebs are inﬂuencing travel trends. “Having started in travel way back in 1976 at Thomson Holidays' new regional office in Leeds, I've noticed a lot of change in the industry, both good and bad. Although the internet has had a big impact on bookings, I still think many people, especially families, feel safer booking with a travel agent. And certainly travel agents come into their own when a disaster happens – we are contactable and quick to find a solution, and that is something that the internet will never be able to do."
The celeb appeal
"Rail holidays and cruising have become more popular thanks to TV programmes such as Chris Tarrant: Extreme Railways, Michael Portillo's series Great Railway Journeys and Simon Reeve's various travel documentaries. These programmes make people want to do more than just lay on a beach or sit by the pool. It also benefits agents as people booking experiential travel trips such as these tend to entrust in a travel agent rather then booking online."
MEET... O'NEIL NICHOLAS DUPRE Owner Tour guide of St. forKitts O'Neil's Beach AddictionsTours Rainforest
DOES ST. WHICH WATER KITTS HAVE SPORTS A ARE POPULAR?DRAW? NATURAL
A thirdlucky We're of St.that Kittswe is have madewind up ofand thick, water lush conditions housing rainforest, to suit all anwater abundance sports.of The nature Atlantic and side of the wildlife. To walk islandamongst is perfect the fortowering surfing and canopy kiteboarding and listen to the withcalls plenty of the of wind jungle and makes waves, while on hiking thethe island Caribbean a pleasure. side Just paddleboarders remember, andmost the snorkellers rewarding enjoyviews calmer arewaters. worth the climb!
Travel with a consciences
"I now work from home but my love of travelling has only grown stronger. I often travel and always try and meet local people and eat where they eat as you can't beat that authenticity. I am also passionate about animal welfare and warn customers against going to animal attractions and having photos taken with captive animals, and I discourage elephant riding as I believe it is unethical. "To further support my animal welfare cause, I organise the Yorkshire Travel Ball – now in its 22nd year – and we raise money for animal welfare charities. "As well as being a great event for industry folk, we've helped Born Free, Elephant and Dog sanctuary in India, Soi Dog Foundation, Hull Greyhound Dogs, Donkey Sanctuary and Greek Cat Rescue – I even acquired my oneeyed cat Tiger from Crete and he now meows with a Yorkshire accent! "I still believe that travel is the best industry to be in. Doing what you like is freedom – liking what you do is happiness, and that's why I'm still working in travel today." firstname.lastname@example.org
Rail holidays and cruising have become really popular
WHAT WHATSHOULD KIND OFPEOPLE WILDLIFE TRY? CAN BE ON THE ISPOTTED love the adrenalin ofISLAND? kiteboarding, it's
Visitors an activity have that theanyone chancecan to see be introduced vervet to, monkeys also flyboarding and mongoose (a hoverboard in theirfinatural tted with a environment water jetpack) such is great as atfun! Wingfi Buteld if you're National looking Park. for something We also have moreover laid 35 back different then you bird can't species beat a day andsailing. over 400 different variety of trees per acre! Groups will often come across one of theWHEN of mango – if GO? they IS Atypes GOOD TIME TO 3 12 different haven't already been by the monkeys! We tend to haveeaten heavier winds around Christmas which is great for parasailing, surfing and sailing. We see GO lighter AS Awinds TOUR? from summer 3 CAN YOU to September I offer three - sotypes perfect of for tours fishing for all trips, levels. kayaking The rainforest or going hikeout is a on three-hour the jet ski. round tour and is great for beginners. There's also a threehour off-the-beaten-track safari drive and 4 ARE THERE ANY EVENTS? the volcano We host hike, an which annualclimbs Channel 3,000 Swim ft. (March The 31) whichpeak volcanic is 2.5ofmiles Mount and Liamuiga a 1.9 mile is Peninsula the highest swim (November point on the island, 23). butWe don't alsoworry: have the the Booby last Island Regatta, eruption was nearly with 2,000 sailors years racingago. up and down the channel between St.Kitts and Nevis.
WHY VISIT ST. KITTS? WHY For such VISIT a small ST.island KITTS? we have a diverse
landscape Beingand a small fromisland, beachone to jungle minute toyou volcano could be there's sokiteboarding much to explore. on the And Atlantic because sidewe and the so are next small, relaxing we are on still a beach relatively on the unknown...a Caribbean side Caribbean real watching the gem! stkittstourism.kn sunset. stkittstourism.
3/29/19 12:40 PM
BEEN THERE, DONE THAT
Tra i n i n g , e v e n t s a n d f a m t r i p s
Rum time with St. Kitts ST. KITTS Tourism hosted a cocktail masterclass with Selling Travel on hand to shake things up and enjoy some island flavours. The evening started with a presentation from Ian Burrell, Global Rum Ambassador and founder of UK RumFest. Ian spoke about the history of rum, the many varieties across the world and how to create authentic rum cocktails. Along with a rum-making competition, guests also got to sample traditional Kittitian cuisine. "Rum is more than just a spirit, it’s a lifestyle” said Ian. stkittstourism.kn
Hays agent celebrates tipto win
SUPERSHOW quizmaster Graham Balmforth presented a delighted Julie Painter from Hays Travel with a £1,000 TIPTO holiday voucher following her win at the recent Southampton Supershow event. The event presented the opportunity for agents to meet with 25 supplier members for one-to-one appointments. The night also featured a dinner, live entertainment and a prize draw. Tipto.co.uk
California proves it’s the star of the show
VISIT CALIFORNIA hosted the next two installments of its STAR Quiz series, in Chester & Liverpool. The events were organised in association with Air New Zealand, Visit Napa Valley, Central Coast Tourism Council, Visit Tuolumne County and Universal Studios Hollywood. The evenings were designed to promote Visit California’s online training programme, California STAR (star.visitcalifornia.com), and were attended by agents from all over the north-west, with prizes on the night including a team night out at Escape Rooms as well as bottles of Californian wine for each team member. visitcalifornia.com
0208 585 4020
India Tours £1699pp
7nts, Call of the Wild Travel : 1 Oct 19 - 9 Dec 19
8nts, Tour of Golden Triangle Travel :1 Oct 19 - 9 Dec 19
9nts, Kerala Spices, Backwaters with Beach Travel : 1 Oct 19 - 9 Nov 19
Prices are based on twin share, includes flights, accommodation & transfers
3/28/19 08:33 PM
BEEN THERE, DONE THAT
Tra i n i n g , e v e n t s a n d f a m t r i p s
Lots of Cooks at Casa Jamaica night in Birmingham
THE JAMAICA Tourist Board's ‘Casa Jamaica’ night in Birmingham was attended by more than 20 Thomas Cook agents. The event provided a destination update ahead of Thomas Cook reintroducing its flight from Manchester to Montego Bay, Jamaica, which will begin on May 6, 2019. Agents had the chance to win a trip to Jamaica along with a fam trip place for later in the year and Love2Shop vouchers. Visitjamaica.com
Personal Travel's £50m milestone
THE PERSONAL Travel Agents at Co-operative Travel celebrated the most successful peak booking period in the company’s seven-year history. The homeworking business achieved sales of £10 million in the six-week, post-Christmas, peak booking period. The company also reached £50 million in sales in January, the highest peak sales figure to date, with the help of its new ‘Typers not Talkers’ training module. thepersonltravelagents.co.uk
Red Nose victory for Gold Medal and Travel 2
TEAMS from Gold Medal and Travel 2’s offices in Preston and Glasgow spent Red Nose Day fundraising for Comic Relief. From dressing as cowboys to custard pie fights, the team raised £2,342 for the charity. Meanwhile, Travel 2’s Carol Bone and Kirsty Gallagher (opposite) personally managed to raise a whopping £2,342 with the help of their stallion friends. That showed the neighsayers! travel2.com; goldmedal.co.uk
Have you enjoyed an interesting trade event or been on a trip or fam that you would like to see featured on this page? Email email@example.com
0208 585 4020
Sri Lanka Tours £1665pp
7nts, Ceylon Cultural & Yala Park Travel : 1 Sep 19 - 31 Oct 19
11nts, Sri Lanka Explorer Travel : 25 Aug 19 - 5 Sep 19
9nts, Prestige Best of Sri Lanka Travel : 1 May 19 - 30 Jun 19
Prices are based on twin share, includes flights, accommodation & transfers
3/28/19 08:33 PM
S P ON S OR E D CON T E N T
Talking travel with...
Hong Kong Tourism Board In conversation with… Dawn Page, Director, UK & Northern Europe, Hong Kong Tourism Board
What’s the Hong Kong Travel Mission? A: We bring members of the Hong Kong travel trade over to London to showcase what the destination has to oﬀer and this year we welcomed 45 members. It’s a great way for hoteliers and tour operators to network and create new contacts with the UK market.
How does the Hong Kong Tourism Board work with the trade? A: The UK is Hong Kong’s biggest market in Europe. Last year we welcomed 573,000 UK visitors, which is up 3% on 2017, we hope to continue this growth in 2019 via face-to-face agent training and our Hong Kong Specialist training programme.
Tell us about the training programme A: Hong Kong Specialist is our online training programme designed for travel agents to give them the necessary knowledge to promote Hong Kong
eﬀectively. The programme provides up-todate training materials and information on major attractions, events and festivals. The tailored modules focus on the diﬀerent districts and the lesser-known areas. Agents who successfully complete Hong Kong Specialist become members of the Hong Kong Specialist Club, a loyalty programme oﬀering exclusive beneﬁts ranging from special hotel room rates to free entry to attractions. Members of the Hong Kong Specialist Club can apply for a complimentary welcome pack when visiting Hong Kong containing a Discover Hong Kong Tourist SIM Card (ﬁve-Day Pass), an MTR Tourist Day Pass and discounts on attractions. There’s also the chance to secure a place on our annual Hong Kong Specialist Club FAM.
What’s surprising about Hong Kong? A: Most people associate Hong Kong with the iconic city skyline, but 70% of the
region is actually green, so great for outdoor pursuits. Clients can go for a hike in the afternoon and be back to watch the sunset over the city. We also have 260 outlying islands so a big focus for us is showcasing the amazing neighbourhoods and islandhopping opportunities if you venture out. Another focus this year is the Sham Shui Po district just north of Boundary Street, known for its open-air street markets and tantalising street food, and shoppers will get their ﬁx with the variety of electronic goods and cheap but delicious snacks. Food is very important and Hong Kong has one of the world’s cheapest Michelin Star restaurants.
What’s new? A: The new Hong Kong–Zhuhai–Macao Bridge opened at the end of last year after 10 years in the making! As the world’s longest bridge and tunnel sea crossing, it increases accessibility if clients wish to venture on. The Rosewood opened this March and Hong Kong Disneyland is in the middle of a six-year expansion programme with new attractions including Ant-Man and The Wasp: Nano Battle, which has just opened. •
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S P ON S OR E D CON T E N T
A meeting of minds The Hong Kong Tourism Board brought Hoteliers and DMCs to London for its Hong Kong Travel Mission 2019
The Hong Kong Tourism Board continues to showcase top attractions from the destination and work closely with the UK trade
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3/29/19 12:37 PM
The event WHAT: Belize Dialogue WHERE: London WHEN: March 13, 2019 WHY: The Belize Toursim Board met with agents to highlight the top-selling points of this Central American destination and oﬀer one lucky agent a trip for two.
Last June the Belize Barrier Reef was taken off the UNESCO endangered list. Today it is the largest living reef in the world
Belize fast facts
• AeroMexico launched a direct ﬂight from Mexico City to Belize in 2018. The destination is hoping for a future British Airways ﬂight. • Belize is to ban the use of singleuse plastic bags, plastic food utensils and single-use disposable Styrofoam on April 22 (Earth Day). • Agents will have the chance to become a Belize specialist and learn all about the Central American destination through a new training programme, due to launch in the next few months. • The tourist board is hosting two fam trips to Belize this year, one in April with the second date still to be conﬁrmed.
Don’t miss our next event coming near you. sellingtravelmag
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“It was such a great evening... Selling Travel’s dialogue events are really beneﬁcial as you get to spend quality time with tourist boards and suppliers”
Belize has the second-highest visitor growth in the Caribbean, with an increase of 12% in UK arrivals
“The videos and the Q and A were very informative. Also, I’ve never had Belize food before and that was really nice touch”
ENGLISHSPEAKING BELIZE IS LOCATED ON THE CARIBBEAN COAST, IN NORTHERN CENTRAL AMERICA
Visit sellingtravel.co.uk/events sellingtravelmag
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A journey to...
et Getting s nds la is n for a adventure
the largest barrier reef in e th , es ti ci a ay M t en anci rise Martin Steady Forest-clad highlands, rp su to ty en pl s ha ze – Beli Western Hemisphere
am exhilarated! From speeding round the northern point of the Ambergris Caye (‘tropical island’), we are forced to slow right down as we approach a narrow channel that was dug by the Maya 1,500 years ago. We inch forward and slowly ease a few yards to the right to brush Belize mangroves, then a yard or two left to caress Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula. Now at the narrowest point, arms extended I can almost touch Mexico and Belize from the boat at the same time. I’m on the way to Bacalar Chico Marine Reserve (42 square miles), and am later alarmed at our noisy and aggressive ‘welcome’, delivered at full force by a very shouty cockerel. How rude! But what a pristine haven of wildlife this place is. At the top of the observation tower I soak up the views of the undisturbed lagoon and forest. I am presented with an already ‘ex’ tarantula, and am starting to feel almost hypnotised watching countless geckos. For those who are patient, there are loads of wild animals to see here, including crocs, deer, jaguars and other wild cats. Bacalar is genuinely an oasis of serenity. Our guide informs us that Ambergris Caye is the largest Belize island and one of the main destinations for visitors. We had flown the 40 miles this morning from Belize City before our adrenaline-charged high-speed boat ride, although we could have opted for one of the regular
water taxis. The breathtaking Barrier Reef is easily accessible from here. Belize is nothing if not diverse: less than half the size of Wales and with just 350,000 or so residents, this tiny Central American nation has been independent from Britain since 1981 and proudly celebrates its mixed-up heritage of Creole, Spanish, Maya, English and Garifuna. Back in San Pedro on the island’s southern tip, I’m not the first to fall in love with this wonderful town – it’s said to be the inspiration for Madonna’s hit song, La Isla Bonita. Our taxi from Mahogany Bay hotel into town is a golf buggy, which zips us into a centre where just about every tourist pleasure is catered for: shops, bars, restaurants, gift shops, tour agencies, beaches, boating – and then there’s the endless charm of the Caribbean.
I adore these handsome people, singing their hearts out
Nurse sharks come to say ‘hello’
MY MAG ICAL MO ME The
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The greatest escape Belize is perhaps best known for its renowned Barrier Reef (all 190 miles of it) which is second only to the Australia’s version in length. It’s no surprise that snorkelling and scuba diving is the country’s top attraction, drawing about half of the annual 260,000 visitors. Did I snorkel? My pink, pickled skin answers that one! It’s an experience unequalled in its tranquility and emotionally about as far away from the office as I can get! Down the coast, Placencia has some of the most beautiful beaches you’ll find anywhere, a picture-
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San Pedro’s dr eamy waterfron t inspired Madon na
book sandy coastline that goes on for ever. It’s surreal and intoxicating. My vague knowledge of the country’s history comes to a shuddering halt as I lean against a tree in Placencia’s sidewalk beach (think Robinson Crusoe) listening to the ethereal sounds of Garifuna drumming and singing. I adore these handsome people, singing their hearts out with immaculate rhythm and timing. But the main event is now under way as the magnificently proud yet humble leader retells the stories of bygone years when his people were evicted from St Vincent by the British, then suppressed, abused and almost wiped out before finally – what was left of them – were allowed to settle on the South Coast of the country. What do they think of me as a descendant of their oppressors? It’s a silly thought of course. They engage with us with unreserved warmth that is genuine, fulsome and joyfully noisy!
Garifuna singing and dancing
A quick bite! Mashed maize, okra and a vicious-looking local ﬁsh
Jungle dreaming There’s plenty of luxury, even in the jungle – which is where we find ‘Chaa Creek’. Not far from San Ignacio and close to the Guatemala border, this jungle resort is in the heart of the Maya civilisation and is one of the world’s best eco-lodges. The Cottage Collection bungalows at Chaa Creek (sleeps up to three) start from around £305 per night on B&B basis, including activities including bird watching, butterfly farm tour, natural history museum tour and use of canoes. Over an ice-cold beer Mick and Lucy Fleming tell their story – how they pioneered their travel dream way back in 1981. Since then they have been driven simply by the goal of coexistence with nature while providing a true jungle experience for visitors. Their impressive eco-farming techniques supply the lodge and guests with all the organic produce needed. We take the short drive to the unmissable and remarkable - ‘Xunantunich’ - one of the great Maya ancient cities. Dating from between 600 and 950AD it is a ‘must-see’ for visitors. Remarkable and unmissable - words that for me also sum up this small Central American nation. •
An ‘ex’ tarantul a, thank goodness !
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ossibly one of the andaman’s most beautiful islands.
85 luxurious villas • 3 ozonated pools (excluding private ones)
signature dining establishments & bars • world-acclaimed anumba spa club del mar for chilling • personalized sea and land experiences to-die-for-views complimentary
www.theracha.com Untitled-2 1
3/27/19 11:43 AM
Combining time on an island with a few nights in Bangkok is a classic Thailand holiday which covers the best of both worlds. Jo Gardner looks at a few combos
FOREST WALK IN KOH YAO NOI
t’s been nearly two decades since Leonardo DiCaprio played the lead role in The Beach but 19 years hasn’t stopped hoards of British holidaymakers coming to Thailand in search of their own slice of paradise. And who can blame them? The sand is whiter than white, the sea blue-green, and the food healthy and zingy. And that’s before mentioning the great range of hotels and utterly friendly locals. On a recent visit to Thailand, I stay on Koh Samui at the family-owned – and utterly idyllic – Tongsai Bay Resort. I spend my days swimming in the private inﬁnity
pool of my gorgeous villa, enjoying spa treatments, relaxing on the resort’s private beach, attending cooking classes and dining on the sand as the sun sets. With a complete ban on plastic enforced 15 years ago, the resort’s eco-credentials are as impressive as its beach setting. Here they make their own detergent using food waste and even use long slices of lemongrass for straws (other hotels: please take note!). When it’s time to leave, I’m feeling nervous about spending time in Bangkok; I was there 10 years ago and my main memory is of a city both hot and hectic.
3/28/19 07:35 PM
“On the plane home I reflect on a week of two halves: a beach holiday in a resort with just the right amount of relaxation and spa-ing, followed by a city break with all the hallmarks of achingly hip London”
But a decade is a long time in travel and Bangkok has morphed into a fascinating and, frankly, funky city. I stay at the brand-new Lancaster hotel, the newest member of The Landmark Lancaster Group, which has properties in Bangkok and London. The design is sleek and modern with a 50-metre atrium in the lobby (look up as soon as you enter), polished marble ﬂoors, spacious rooms (try the iGlass in the bathroom for technology at its best) and an entire ﬂoor dedicated to wellness. It also has The Rib Room, a Michelinrecognised steakhouse, on the 31st ﬂoor. I feel suitably smug as I swim gentle lengths in the 12th ﬂoor outdoor pool, stopping every now and again to look out at the city below. Despite temperatures creeping up to 39 degrees, and humidity at nearly 90%, I feel as cool as a cucumber. Afterwards, I head to the alfresco bar for a cold local beer with a view. Life is good.
Noodles and gin
FULL MOON PARTY KOH PHANGAN
BANGKOK’S GOLDEN MOUNT TEMPLE
One morning, I head out with a guide to see some of the lesser-known sights of Bangkok, hopping on and oﬀ tuk tuks and long boats to visit traditional markets, gargantuan gold Buddhas and temples perched on top of mountains. My lunch of tofu, crunchy vegetables and soft noodles from a street vendor is both fresh and tasty – and costs just 29p. That evening, back at the hotel, I grab a window seat and, over a succulent steak with blue sauce, marvel at the glittering Bangkok skyline. The next evening, I head to Ironballs, a tiny bar and gin distillery that would feel
HAT NOPPHARAT THARA-MU KO PHI PHI NATIONAL PARK
right at home in Soho. Listening to the dulcet tones of a female jazz singer, I sip cocktails until the wee hours. On the plane home, I reﬂect on a week of two halves: a beach holiday in a breathtaking resort with just the right amount of relaxation, swimming and spa-ing, followed by a city break with all the hallmarks of achingly hip London – but with much better weather and far cheaper food. Never again will I bypass Bangkok when heading to Thailand. “Bangkok is a city that is constantly changing,” says Emma Arnott, Trade Manager at Tourism Thailand. “With new hotels, restaurants and developments, such as the ICON Siam shopping centre, opening all the time, visitors will discover something new each time they visit. “Domestic carriers like Bangkok Airways, Nok Air and Thai Smile operate frequent ﬂights between all destinations in Thailand, making it very easy to organise a twincentre itinerary for your clients,” she adds.
CHEF CHOM’S DINNER, TONGSAI BAY
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TONGSAI BAY BEACH AND POOL
Twin-centre ideas For beach-lovers, Krabi and Koh Lanta: There is no shortage of Thai beaches but a good combination is to twin a large island with a smaller one. Krabi has a well-developed infrastructure and plenty of recognisable hotels, while the smaller and less developed Koh Lanta is quieter and laid back, with fewer tourists and boutique-style accommodation. For beach & jungle, Khao Lak and Khao Sok National Park: If you don’t want to spend your entire holiday relaxing on a beach, why not combine Khao Lak – a younger, quieter version of Phuket famed for its diving and snorkelling – with Khao Sok National Park, home to one of the best elephant sanctuaries in Thailand and covered by the world’s oldest evergreen rainforest? Get up close with these creatures, trek through the jungle or kayak on a lake. For city-slickers, Bangkok and Chiang Mai: Bangkok and Chiang Mai are the two biggest cities in Thailand but feel worlds apart. With its new hotels, Michelin-star restaurants, rooftop bars and modern shopping centres, Bangkok has its sights set ﬁrmly on the future; quieter, cooler Chiang Mai is more about history and culture, with smaller hotels and a more immediately local feel. For time-warpers, Phuket and Koh Yao Noi: If you fancy experiencing ‘then and now’ Thailand, head ﬁrst to Koh Yao Noi, an untouched island of farmland, buﬀalos and unspoilt beaches. You’ll ﬁnd just a few market stalls, a handful of local restaurants (often lit by candlelight) and not much else. Phuket – a large island with a well-developed infrastructure – tells the
story of modern-day Thailand. It has plenty of accommodation, nightlife and dining. For city and beach, Bangkok and Koh Samet: Holidaymakers who get bored on the beach, but still want to relax, should combine Koh Samet – a beautiful, untouched island where you can listen to the waves as you fall asleep – with buzzy Bangkok just three hours away. Spend the ﬁrst week recharging your batteries, then re-energise in the city that never sleeps. For hippies, Koh Samui and Koh Phangan: Lovers of spa treatments, wellness retreats and full moon parties should book this twin-centre. The majority of the hotels on Koh Samui have decent spas oﬀering local treatments (try the Thai massage if you dare). Koh Phangan, on the other hand, is renowned for its full moon parties, a hippy vibe and beach gatherings.
Where to book it HAYES & JARVIS – 01293 839221 The 11-day Khao Lak and Khao Sok National Park twin-centre departs on May 19 2019. The twin-centre trip costs £1,849pp and includes ﬂights with Cathay Paciﬁc, transfers, eight nights’ bed and breakfast accommodation at the Garden Residence Room in Khao Lak and two nights’ full-board lodging in Khao Sok. hayesandjarvis.co.uk TUCAN TRAVEL – 0800 804 8435 The ﬁve-night Thailand in a Week tour starts from £449pp, including domestic transfers, three nights in a hotel in Chiang Mai, two nights in a guesthouse in Bangkok, breakfasts, a river boat cruise and entrance to Ko Pat temple. tucantravel.co.uk
“With new hotels, restaurants and developments, such as the ICON Siam shopping centre, opening all the time, visitors will find something new each time they visit Bangkok” Emma Arnott, Trade Manager, Tourism Thailand
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Clubbing all over the
It’s a niche sector but golf has an army of devotees looking for expert advice – and they are prepared to pay for it, says Peter Ellegard
’m riding a golf buggy made for ﬁve in the shadow of Japan’s Mount Fuji. It’s my ﬁrst round of golf in Japan and my playing partners are my hosts from Fuji Country Club and the Shizuoka Prefecture golf course association. After the obligatory group photo with the iconic mountain in the background, it is time to hit our tee shots. We jump in our buggies, then, as my ball is further on, I remain in my seat when the others get out. Without warning, the buggy takes oﬀ, zigging and zagging with a life of its own. It’s like I’m on an automated Disney ride! The caddy is remotely operating the buggy, which is following a magnetic strip under the path. Ahead of the Tokyo Olympics in 2020, when golf will again feature after its reintroduction at Rio de Janeiro, Japan is promoting itself as a golf destination. I joined operators from around the world at last September’s inaugural Japan Golf
Tourism Convention, held in conjunction with global golf tourism industry association IAGTO. On my trip I also played courses in the Mie and Shiga prefectures and one overlooking historic Kyoto city. From the self-driving buggies, obligatory one-hour lunch stops during rounds and palatial clubhouses with hot-spring pools to amazing food, golf in Japan is an experience like nowhere else.
Agents can cash in It is true the golf market is dominated by direct-sell companies and many golfers book their own arrangements online, particularly to short-haul destinations like France, Spain and Portugal. However, there are still opportunities for agents to cash in and earn big commission. A number of tour operators pay healthy commission and agents don’t even have to be knowledgeable about golf as experts are on hand to guide them through sales.
A new trade-only specialist selling worldwide golf-themed holidays is west country-based Tee The World (teetheworld. co.uk). It has been set up by travel agent Carolyn Park, whose C The World travel agency has three branches in Gloucestershire, Bristol and Bath. She explains: “As an agency we were struggling to ﬁnd a trade-friendly partner for worldwide golf holidays. There is a big opportunity for agents to oﬀer golf to their customers, grow their businesses with new golﬁng clients and, in turn, get these people to book non-golf holidays as well. “We have already had some lovely agent bookings and support seems to be growing daily. Standard commission is 10%; however this may change for special events like the Masters or Ryder Cup. We decided on being trade-only as it sets us apart. We understand what agents are looking for in a specialist trade partner.” Park says that holidays should not be
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BA NA HILLS GOLF CLUB, DANANG, VIETNAM
TEETH OF THE DOG DOMINICAN REPUBLIC
“We have already had some lovely agent bookings and support seems to be growing daily... we decided on being trade-only as it sets us apart”
just about playing golf, and that agents often ﬁnd it diﬃcult building a package to include golf and non-golf activities. “Clients are not going to travel to destinations further aﬁeld purely for golf,” she adds. “For example, South Africa, New Zealand and Australia have some wonderful courses that can be included into a tailored itinerary which caters for other interests and non-golfers alike. Many people travel with non-golfers and it is really easy to facilitate something that suits everyone.” The operator, which is a member of IAGTO, is partnering with ﬂight consolidator and ATOL-holder Aviate. Its website includes helpful questions for agents to ask clients, and it also explains golf jargon. Park says most golfers want to travel outside of the UK summer, so winter-sun destinations such as the Arabian Gulf are popular. She also highlights Portugal’s Lisbon Coast area for its combination of golf, culture and history. In its latest annual Golf Tourism Report, IAGTO reports that sales through golf tour operators worldwide were up 3.2% in 2018 – the seventh consecutive year of growth. Trends for 2019 include strong demand for Northern Ireland, which hosts this year’s Open Championship at Royal Portrush in July, Vietnam consolidating gains made in 2018, and interest growing fast in Japan. Turkey, Tunisia and Morocco are also resurgent – Marrakech hosts the annual International Golf Travel Market in October. Among operators oﬀering commission is Elegant Resorts (elegantresorts.co.uk). Head of Product and Commercial, Matt Viemmiks, says short-haul European golf breaks remain popular thanks to their convenience,
with resorts including Terre Blanche in Provence, the Costa del Sol’s Finca Cortesin and Costa Navarino in Greece among those ‘ticking the box’. Further aﬁeld, he highlights the Dominican Republic, Mexico’s Mayakoba resort complex, Scottsdale, Vietnam’s Danang area and resorts including South Africa’s Fancourt, Sandy Lane in Barbados, and New Zealand duo Kauri Cliﬀs and Cape Kidnappers. Specialist operator A Golﬁng Experience (agolﬁngexperience.co.uk) celebrates its 30th anniversary this year. Director Steve Frewin says 80% of requests are to Spain, Portugal, France or Turkey. He suggests asking what kind of holiday clients want, such as whether it is with a partner, with couples or with a group of guys or girls, how many rounds of golf are needed and a budget, as tee time and hotel costs vary from weekdays to weekends. “Agents have a great opportunity to create an income stream from golf,” says Frewin. “Having a relationship with your local club is a way to build a relationship with golfers and gain information about booking habits. Gary Boyer, head of purchasing at Classic Collection (classic-collection.co.uk), believes specialising in golf makes agents a ‘go to’ source for clients. He says: “Golfers tend to be well-heeled individuals, golf holiday bookings tend to be high-value group bookings and golfers are a community where word of mouth recommendation can be your ﬁnest marketing tool. “Golﬁng holidays have a degree of complication: clubs, tee-oﬀ times, transfers, group dinners and awards. There’s an opportunity to provide real service that pays dividends in terms of repeat business.
Carolyn Park, Tee The World
WE-KO-PA GOLF CLUB, SCOTTSDALE, ARIZONA
MONTE REI GOLF & COUNTRY CLUB, PORTUGAL
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Top experiences On track: Rovos Rail (rovos.com) operates South African golf and rail safari trips of nine and 10 days on its luxury Rovos Rail train and 15 days on its new three-star Shongololo Express train. Double commission rates of 20% are available on the nine-day October 3 Golf Safari roundtrip from Pretoria. Prices from £1,320pp. Tees and temples: Play golf minutes from Cambodia’s UNESCO-listed Angkor Wat temple complex in Siem Reap, host for this month’s IAGTO Asia Golf Tourism Convention, on the Nick Faldodesigned course at Angkor Golf Resort (angkor-golf.com). Nearby Phokeethra Country Club (phokeethraangkor.com) has the remains of an 11th century Khmer Empire bridge between the ninth green and 10th tee. Vine rounds: Combine a few rounds of golf with visiting renowned vineyards and wine tasting in Bordeaux. The Golf du Medoc resort (golfdumedocresort.com) even uses distance markers shaped like wine bottles on its fairways. Bordeauxbased Greens & Grapes (greensandgrapes.com) organises golf, wine and gourmet breaks. Fly high: Take a helicopter to the top of a 400-metre mountain to tee oﬀ on the world’s highest and longest par-3 hole, the Extreme 19th at South Africa’s Legend Golf & Safari Resort (legendhospitality. co.za). The green is shaped like Africa. Get your goat: Caddies with a diﬀerence assist golfers playing on the new, hilly seven-hole McVeigh’s Gauntlet course at Silvies Valley Ranch (silvies.us) in Eastern Oregon. Trained goats carry golfers’ clubs in specially designed harnesses that also hold six-packs of beer.
What’s new Elegant Resorts has added Monte Rei Golf & Country Club (monte-rei.com) on Portugal’s eastern Algarve for 2019. A second Jack Nicklaus Signature Course is being built, expected to open in 2021. This will make Monte Rei the only club in Europe with two courses by Nicklaus. Expedition cruise company One Ocean Expeditions (oneoceanexpeditions.com) will operate its ﬁrst Scotland and Ireland golf cruise this June. The seven-night cruise aboard former Hapag-Lloyd’s RCGS Resolute leaves Dublin on June 5, with golf on courses like Ballyliﬃn, Royal Dornoch and Royal Aberdeen. From $4,395 (about £3,360).
LEOPARD CREEK COUNTRY CLUB, SOUTH AFRICA
Where to book it TEE THE WORLD – 0117 428 0577 A 15-night Golf, Wine, Lions and Whales self-drive tour of Cape Town and the Garden Route, South Africa, includes ﬁve rounds of golf, game drives at Sanbona Wildlife Reserve, wine tasting and lunch at Franschhoek and a whale and dolphin watching cruise in St Francis Bay. Costing £3,995pp (September to November), it includes accommodation, British Airways ﬂights (Premium Economy) and car rental. teetheworld.co.uk
FRONTIER CANADA – 020 8776 8709 A seven-day Canada’s East Coast Golﬁng Expedition aboard One Ocean Expedition’s Resolute ship starts from £5,319pp, including ﬂights and an overnight in Sydney, Nova Scotia, prior to the cruise, commissionable at 10%. An optional four-night extension with a rental car exploring Cape Breton and ending in Halifax costs from £425pp. frontier-canada.co.uk
THE TONY JACKLIN MARRAKECH
“Agents have a great opportunity to create an income stream from golf. Having a relationship with their local club is a great way to build a relationship with golfers ” Steve Frewin, A Golfing Experience
TRADE-ONLY GOLF EXPERTS
Worldwide destinations | Flight inclusive or ground only Holidays with golf or pure golf holidays | Individual or group bookings
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48 hours in
Amsterdam More than two million UK travellers visit the Netherlands every year and Amsterdam remains the principal draw for tourists, says Stuart Forster Day 1: Get an overview
ﬁlms and hosts exhibitions, before heading Morning: Get orientated on a boat up to the nearby A’dam Tower. From tour of Amsterdam’s canals. The mid-April a new electric swing — Europe’s historic network of waterways is a highest — will operate on the A’dam UNESCO World Heritage Site, dating from Lookout, an observation platform with lofty the era known as the Dutch Golden Age. city views: reserve online at least a week in Nationwide exhibitions this year, advance to ride Over the Edge on weekends. celebrating the artwork of that time, are For cocktails and panoramic views of the being held to commemorate the 350th Dutch capital, take a seat by the ﬂoor-toanniversary of artist Rembrandt van Rijn’s ceiling window at Madam, the 20th-storey death. Find out about his life and legacy at lounge bar. his former home, the Rembrandt House Day 2: Eat, drink, don’t hurry Museum, and Rijksmuseum, where All the Rembrandts continues until June 10. Morning: Skip breakfast and Afternoon: Pop into the National instead leave room to sample Maritime Museum, which was cuisine savoured by locals during built on an artiﬁcial island as an an Eating Europe’s Jordaan Food Tour. The arsenal to stock warships. On May 10, two fun and informative three-and-a-half-hour new permanent guided walking tour exhibitions, Maps explores the historic and Marvels and district west of the A monthly calendar of Republic at Sea, will events and festivals features Prinsengracht canal, be unveiled, telling including longon the iamsterdam.com the story of Dutch established cafés sea power and website, listing the likes of and hidden global exploration. courtyards. Expect King’s Day parties, Pride Then catch a tram Dutch delicacies Amsterdam and the Hortus such as appeltaart to the De Gooyer Festival at the botanical Windmill and its (apple pie), neighbour, the kibbeling (battered gardens taproom of the ﬁsh) and poﬀertjes Brouwerij ‘t Ij craft (ﬂuﬀy pancakes). brewery, which is opening a bar at the Afternoon: After all that food ‘T Blauwe Theehuis, a circular, Bauhaushow about some cycling? Guided inﬂuenced building in the Vondelpark. bike tours are an option or hire a Evening: Ride a free ferry across bicycle from the likes of MacBike, near the the River Ij and explore the central station. If your client is putting you up-and-coming Amsterdam under a microscope for suggestions about Noord district. Pop into the futuristic things to do, why not recommend riverside Eye Film Museum, which screens Micropia, the world’s only museum dedicated to microbes? Evening: Reward yourself with an BOOK IT WITH… KIRKER HOLIDAYS aperitif. Sip jenever, the Dutch Kirker has three-night hotel breaks in central ancestor of gin, in Café Hoppe, a Amsterdam, including return flights and cosy traditional bar, before tucking into a transfers, concierge services and guide notes, rijsttafel, a multi-dish feast, at nearby entry to the Van Gogh or Rijksmuseum plus Kantjil en de Tijger, one of several accommodation with breakfast. The hotel Indonesian restaurants in the city. is the five-star NH Collection Doelen, where For a post-dinner drink in a notable Rembrandt’s The Night Watch was originally landmark, stroll through De Wallen, the displayed. From £1,068pp in high season. red-light district, towards In de Waag, the 020 7593 1899; kirkerholidays.com café-restaurant at the castle-like weigh house at Nieuwmarkt.
AMSTERDAM IS KNOWN FOR ITS GREAT BEER
LIGHTS, CAMERA, ACTION
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The South Paciﬁc’s paradisiacal attributes are tempered by a reputation for remoteness and high costs - but it’s still the quintessential ‘get away from it all destination’, says Anna Selby
t takes me a while, but halfway through the hymn-singing in this hot and humid church service I realise I’m listening to Walking in a Winter Wonderland - in Samoan! It’s slightly surreal. Despite the Sunday service experience, Samoa is the most traditionally Polynesian of all of the Paciﬁc island nations I’ve visited. The Fa’a-Samoa (Samoan way of life) refers to how people live their lives in villages that are usually one huge extended family (aiga), each with its own chief (Matai). This doesn’t mean visitors aren’t welcome though – far from it. Many villages rent out a
beachside fale so you get to experience being part of a Samoan family. My four-year-old son decides he has arrived in paradise when we ‘check in’ to our fale in Saleapaga, on the southeast coast of the main island of Upolu. But don’t expect luxury or privacy when you’re staying in a Samoan fale. These wooden huts come without walls, though they do have woven blinds and a thatched roof to protect you from the rain! There are some advantages to this though – you beneﬁt from natural air-con, (otherwise known as a sea breeze), a digital detox – since there’s not much in the way of wiﬁ – and you certainly get into
the rhythm of village life. But even better is the omnipresent sublime surrealism, like rolling out of bed onto powdery white sands and stepping into a turquoise lagoon during the English winter.
Pick an island Lagoons are quite a feature in this part of the world but the Cooks Islands’ second island, Aitutaki, has arguably the world’s most beautiful and was the location for reality TV show, Shipwrecked. This may be one of the reasons it’s proving ever-more popular with UK visitors. Hotels on both of the main islands in the Cooks – the other is
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Rarotonga – have seen an increase of over 30% in room nights and UK visitors are staying longer. The South Paciﬁc region is huge. Indeed, French Polynesia, now marketed as the Islands of Tahiti, covers an area the size of Europe just on its own, with several island groups within it – from the Society Islands, including famous Bora Bora – to the ﬂat atolls of the Tuamotos. The region is still most popular with French tourists but is a stand-out choice for honeymooners from across Europe. For Brits, ex-colony Fiji remains one of the most popular choices while Samoa, Tonga and Vanuatu are smaller players
in tourism, mostly suited to more adventurous travellers and backpackers with more time on their hands. The Cook Islands have links to New Zealand and are an increasingly popular choice for Brits as an add-on to holidays Down Under. Papua New Guinea is suited to those looking for cultural tours and is a bucketlist destination for its wildlife as well as its fascinating tribal culture.
Top experiences Sing lustily: Attending a Cook Islands church service is a must – and not what you’d expect. Go to one of the islands’ many white painted coral
TO-SUA OCEAN TRENCH, SAMOA
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A SAMOAN BEACH
BLACK-TIPPED REEF SHARKS
churches for the four-part harmony singing, the ladies’ pandanus hats and the big welcome by the locals afterwards (often with a picnic!)
POISSON CRU, A TAHITIAN FISH DISH
Be a daredevil: Samoa has plenty of nature-based adventures. Try the natural waterslides of Papase’ea Sliding Rocks, the turquoise waterhole/lava tube of the Sua Ocean Trench and – for experienced surfers only – the biggest waves in the region. An island of your own: On Paul Gauguin cruises you get to spend time either on their beach retreat on the islet of Motu Mahana oﬀ the coast of the beautiful island of Taha’a, or in Bora Bora. Either way, you spend the day swimming and snorkelling and enjoying a sumptuous barbecue feast and cocktails from the ﬂoating bar. Dive deeper: The Paciﬁc region has some of the best examples of coral and tropical ﬁsh on the planet, as well as an abundance of PADI dive instructors. And if your clients want a truly heartpumping experience, in Fiji they can go diving with the sharks.
“Hotels are seeing a 30%plus increase in room nights from the UK, so we’re benefitting from increased length of stays and UK visitors are venturing What’s new further than Rarotonga and Flights: There’s a new option for getting experiencing islands such as to Tahiti with United Airlines. The new route ﬂies from Heathrow to Papeete, Aitutaki, star of E4’s Tahiti’s capital, with a stopover in San ShipWrecked” Ian Griffiths, Cook Islands
Francisco. You can take the stopover on the way out or the way back (united.com). Fiji Airways (ﬁjiairways.com) is now codesharing with British Airways and has ﬂights between Nadi and Hong Kong, L.A., San Francisco, Signapore and Narita Real Tonga Airlines (realtonga.to) now has a codeshare arrangement with
Samoa Airways and a new route between Tongatapu and Apia via Vava’u. There are two ﬂights a week on a 30-seater and it takes just over three hours. Accommodation: Cook Island Rarotonga’s Moana Sands Lagoon Resort (moanasands.co.ck) opened in October 2018. It overlooks Muri Beach (arguably the island’s best) and has deluxe studios and a spectacular swimming pool – it’s the newest oﬀering in the Moana Sands Group which already has the MS Beachfront Hotel and Beachfront Villas. The Pullman Nadi Bay Resort and Spa Fiji Hotel (accorhotels.com) is opening this month (April) on the beachfront of Wailoaloa Bay, seven kilometres by car from Nadi International Airport. It will have 236 rooms and suites, four restaurants, three bars, three pools, a day spa and ﬁtness centre. Outrigger Resorts has a combination package for Outrigger Fiji and Castaway Island. Spend three nights at both and receive F$700 (about £250) in-resort
EXPLORING MOOREA, FRENCH POLYNESIA
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credit. Agents who sign up to the Outrigger Expert Programme earn up to $75 booking bonus for Outrigger Reef and Outrigger Waikiki (agent.outrigger.com). Cruise: Paul Gauguin, the luxury smallship cruise company headquartered in Tahiti, has launched its 2020 brochure featuring not just the dramatic French Polynesian islands, including its lesserknown Marquesas and Tuamotus island groups, but also Fiji, the Cook Islands, Samoa and Tonga. The cruise line is going even further and oﬀers a 16-night voyage from Fiji to Bali. Experiences: Blue Lagoon Cruises (bluelagooncruises.com) has bought its own island to create the world’s ﬁrst wholeisland beach club at Malamala in Fiji. Guests can spend a day on the beach before they board their cruise. Ecotrax is Fiji’s newest adventure, with rail-mounted electric-assisted pushbike carriages – a world ﬁrst. You
cycle (or cheat and use the accelerator) through beautiful bush, rock cuttings, villages and deserted beaches along the Coral Coast. Riders can get oﬀ where they want for a swim or a stroll.
Where to book it AUSTRAVEL; 01293 837 104 A 15-day two-centre trip to Sydney and Fiji, including four nights in Sydney, three nights in the Soﬁtel Fiji Resort, seven nights on Matamanoa Island (B&B), and return ﬂights with Qantas, leads in at £3,459pp. austravel.com PAUL GAUGUIN; 020 7399 7691 A seven-night Tahiti and the Society Islands cruise round-trip from Papeete, departing October 26 2019 calls at Huahine, Bora Bora (overnight), Taha’a and Moorea (overnight). Cruise-only prices are from £3,277pp. pgcruises.com
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Visit USA News T H IS M ON T H ' S TO P S TOR I ES FROM V I SI T U SA MEMBERS • V I SI T U SA. O RG. UK
New York bursting with Pride
Cover in Midwest
Minneapolis, Minnesota, has a new hotel. The 183-room Canopy by Hilton is in the city's Mill District, close to the new U.S. Bank Stadium, home of the NFL Minnesota
SILVERSEA HEADS TO ALASKA
Vikings. The Canopy Central Café, a local welcome gift and free bicycles greet guests to a hotel located in an historic building. hiltonworldwide.com
Luxury cruise line Silversea has a 10-day Alaska cruise this summer. Starting in Seward (Anchorage) stops will include Sitka, Haines, Juneau and Ketchikan (all Alaska) before cruising the Inside Passage to Vancouver. Priced from £5,100pp, and including Economy airfares, the cruise departs May 27 2019 silversea.com
Star eats in San Fran EIGHT San Francisco Bay area restaurants can now boast three Michelin stars, more than any other region in the country. San Francisco is also home to one of the least expensive Michelin-starred restaurants in the U.S., Al's Place. where meals start from around $18.
NYC & Company, New York City’s destination marketing organisation, has declared 2019 as 'The Year of Pride'. Several special events are planned, including a series of Pride activities before, after and during WorldPride (June 25-30). Up to four million visitors are expected for Pride, the first time the global event will be held in the U.S. Parades in New York’s boroughs include Staten Island PrideFest, from May 10-15, and Queens Pride on June 2, in the heart of Queens. The latter will feature a parade down 27th Avenue and an afternoon street festival with music, drag performances and local food. June marks the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Uprising, a pivotal moment in LGBTQ history. On June 28 1969, riots broke out in response to a police raid at the Stonewall Inn in Greenwich Village, which is now the country’s first national monument dedicated to LGBTQ rights.
British chef April Broomfield runs
the city's Michelin-starred Tosca Cafe.
The Stones line up THE stars are lining up to play at this year’s New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, with the Rolling Stones the headline act at the 50th staging of the festival. Held from April 25-May 5 the festival will also feature Katy Perry, Tom Jones, Van Morrison and Santana.
BLOG Fancy channelling your inner
cowboy? Stay on a ranch to saddle up and ride with real cowboys or witness the thrills of a traditional rodeo to get a taste of America’s Old West, right across the USA, from Florida to California. You can also relive the frontier days in towns where the Wild West spirit is still strong. More Blog content at visitusa.org.uk/Blog Look out for our Visit USA (UK) online Travel Update for the pick of members' news
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SPOTLIGHT ON... Frontier America JULIE THOMPSON PRODUCT AND MARKETING MANAGER
BUSCH GARDENS TAMPA BAY IS ON TRACK TO OPEN ITS NEW RIDE, TIGRIS, THIS SPRING. FLORIDA’S TALLEST LAUNCH COASTER, TIGRIS WILL CATAPULT RIDERS THROUGH AN ARRAY OF LOOPING TWISTS WITH FORWARD AND BACKWARD MOTION AND DROPS...seaworldparks.co.uk SEEKING GREAT SHOPPING EXPERIENCES? Check out our Visit USA UK members
• Fashion Island/ Irvine Spectrum Canter, California • Macerich Shopping Centres & Fashion Outlets • Mall Of America, Bloomington • River Oaks District, Houston • Shop America Alliance • The Shops Buckland Atlanta
Steaming on the Mississippi AMERICAN Queen Steamboat Company (AQSC) is making improvements to its four AQSC riverboats and two Victory Cruise Lines passenger ships. Featuring itineraries down the Mississippi River, the American Queen and American Duchess are both dry-docked for maintenance and inspection in Houma, Louisiana, while the American Empress is in Portland, Oregon. The latest addition to the paddlewheel fleet, the American Countess, is undergoing significant reconstruction and getting ready to sail America’s heartland in 2020. Finally, the M/V Victory I and M/V Victory II are getting ready to explore the Great Lakes, New England and Canada this May. Vacations to America has a 12-day trip, sailing on American Queen, the largest steamboat ever built. Priced from £4,995pp, the trip travels from Memphis to New Orleans, stopping off in several Southern towns along the way including Greenville, Natchez, Vicksburg and Baton Rouge. americanqueensteamboatcompany.com; vacationstoamerica.com
When did Frontier America join Visit USA? About four years ago. What are the benefits of being a member? We are known mainly as a specialist Canada operator but Visit USA helps us to get the message across that we also sell the USA. It also allows us to participate in days like the recent Unite Visit USA trade show. Tell us about your USA products and what's selling. Everything we offer is bespoke and tailor-made and we don't do chain hotels. We sell boutique, outof-the-way places. We don't do Florida or Disneyland and the theme parks, but instead focus on California, which is popular for us, New England and some of the lesserknown states where we can really offer something unique to clients. Interest in the Deep South is growing after we did a marketing campaign on the region. What are your USA travel highlights and memories? Having been focused on Canada it has been a long time since I visited the USA. I loved Seattle Washington State. My grandfather lived in Kentucky, and I visited when I was 16 - but the state is on my hit list to go back.
Subscribe to the Visit USA (UK) online Travel Update at visitusa.org.uk
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Florida's cities The Sunshine State's enduring popularity is rooted in its beaches and theme parks, but its cities offer multicultural flair, arts, gastronomy, nightlife and much more, says Jeannine Williamson From Daytona in the north to Miami in the south, Florida’s cities are packed with attractions. As a twin-centre or standalone break, they oﬀer a wealth of experiences - with the added bonus of a great year-round climate.
Orlando You don’t need to venture far from the popular man-made attractions to discover a very diﬀerent side to Orlando. For more natural thrills you can swing through the trees like Tarzan at Orlando Tree Trek Adventure Park, while Wekiwa Springs State Park, just 25 minutes north of downtown Orlando, has canoe rentals and park trails oﬀering a real breath of fresh air. Then there's Brevard Zoo, the only menagerie in the U.S. to oﬀer a guided kayak tour around animal exhibits. Boxi Park is an unusual new attraction based around recycled shipping containers. Fifteen minutes from the airport, it includes restaurants, bars, a stage and playground. Scheduled to open soon on International Drive, Dezerland Action Park will feature Orlando Auto Museum. One of the world’s largest private car collections, it will include James Bond and Batman vehicles.
Miami is the complete all-rounder. On the accommodation front, the 275-room ﬁvestar grand dame property Biltmore Hotel Miami recently unveiled its two-year $25 million revamp, with a grand lobby restored to its 1926 glory, a reimagined golf course and new guest rooms. For sports-loving clients, ﬁve American professional sports – NFL football, soccer, baseball, basketball and ice hockey - are all played in Miami .
From the pumping nightlife of South Beach to the Art Deco district architecture and vibrant Little Havana neighbourhood,
A city linked to the UK by ﬂights from British Airways and Norwegian, Tampa describes itself as ‘the hip, urban heart of Florida’s
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TAMPA'S CIGAR CITY BREWERY
Gulf coast’. The birthplace of the Cuban sandwich also takes its food seriously and has a gastronomy scene inﬂuenced by its multicultural population, and a fastexpanding craft beer scene. Tampa is also family focussed, with attractions ranging from Busch Gardens (which has a new thrill ride, Cheetah Run) to Zoo Tampa to the Florida Aquarium (where you can dive with sharks) to the Glazer Children’s Museum. The Tampa Bay History Center chronicles the area's growth and heritage, while the David A. Straz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts showcases Broadway productions.
Kissimmee Close to the theme parks, but keen to carve its own separate identity, Kissimmee is the ideal base to combine outdoor adventures with shopping in quaint downtown areas, or picking up brand-name bargains in Premium Outlets, The Florida Mall and The Mall at Millenia. Old Town, Kissimmee’s
GASPARILLA PIRATE FESTIVAL, ST. PETERSBURG
family fun destination, has a grand reopening this month (April) following a twoyear renovation and expansion programme to create a classic ﬂavour of bygone times with vintage-style shops and restaurants. Another long-time attraction is Boggy Creek Airboat Adventures, with its closeup views of alligators and the chance to discover the heritage of the Native American Village. New hotels include the 184-room Margaritaville Resort Orlando, 25 minutes from the airport. Tropical island-themed, it includes the Sunset Walk shopping, dining, and entertainment district, and Island H2O Live!, a 14-acre water park.
America’s largest collection of the Spanish artist’s work, whilst the Museum of Fine Arts includes paintings by greats such as Monet, Renoir and Cezanne. For anyone interested in Jewish history, the thought-provoking and moving Florida Holocaust Museum is one of the largest in the U.S. In recent years the accommodation oﬀering has boomed with a large number of openings and refurbishments. The Sirata Beach Resort has undergone a $15 million transformation, with a new beachfront area and children’s water playground, and the $50 enhancement at the Vinoy Renaissance St Petersburg Resort & Golf Club includes a new marina-front restaurant.
Nicknamed the Sunshine City, St Petersburg is a great suggestion for golﬁng, boating, ﬁshing and enjoying the famous white beaches of Clearwater that are regularly ranked amongst the top in the U.S. The ﬂagship Dali Museum houses
One of Florida’s primary Gulf Coast cities, Sarasota is home to opera, ballet and world-class theatre, and provides a blend of culture, ﬁne dining and pristine beaches. The arts oﬀering will expand further with the opening of the Sarasota Museum of
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“Tampa iis increasingly family focused, with attractions ranging from Busch Gardens to Zoo Tampa; the Florida Aquarium to the Glazer Children’s Museum".
HARD ROCK HOTEL DAYTONA BEACH
of Art in December. The new gallery will showcase global art from the 1960s to the present day and will also have a sculpture garden. A new trolley bus tour takes in Sarasota’s varied architecture, which ranges from the historic Indian Beach district, with its 1920s Spanish-inspired houses, to contemporary buildings including the striking cube-shaped Center for Asian Art. For outdoor lovers there are kayak tours in the labyrinth of mangroves on Lido Key, minutes from downtown Sarasota. The waterways are rich with marine life including bottlenose dolphins and manatees, the gentle aquatic and herbivorous mammals also known as sea cows.
Daytona Long known as a city where you can drive on the beach or enjoy a racing car experience at the Daytona International Speedway – home of the famous Daytona
500 race (February 16, 2020), the city is fast emerging as a must-see destination that deserves a longer stay. A key draw card remains its 23 miles of sandy shoreline, but with more than $2 billion currently being invested in hotels, attractions, dining and shopping options, Daytona is changing fast. New highlights include ONE DAYTONA, a huge entertainment district next to the Speedway with dining, shopping and nightlife facilities, and two new hotels, with a third, a Marriott Autograph Collection, due to have a spring opening. And last year saw the opening of the Hard Rock Hotel Daytona Beach, a 200-room oceanfront resort. The city's annual Biketoberfest (October 17-20, 2019) attracts up to 100,000 visitors to what is the area's largest autumn festival. The weekend of fun includes motorcycle shows and rallies, live music and scenic rides along an historic roadway.
BOOK IT WITH...NORTH AMERICA TRAVEL SERVICE The recently renovated 442-room Grand Hyatt Tampa Bay is set in 35 acres with a boardwalk nature trail. The hotel is within a few minutes’ drive of many of Tampa’s attractions and just four miles from Tampa International Airport. From £83pp per night. northamericatravelservice.co.uk; 0333 323 9033
A gem of history, frozen in time The Historic Haile Homestead was built by enslaved craftsmen in 1854 on the 1,500-acre Sea Island Cotton Plantation. Its unique 'talking walls' speak of the joys and sorrows of more than a century ago, thanks to the Haile family writing over 12,500 words on the walls.
Historic Haile Homestead, 8500 Sw Archer Rd (Sr 24), Gainesville, Fl 32608 (352) 336-9096 / Hailehomestead.org
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Saturdays 10 am 2 pm and Sundays 12 pm - 4 pm. $5 per person, under 12 free; group rates available.
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COURTYARD BY MARRIOTT FORT LAUDERDALE BEACH - THE PREMIERE CHOICE FOR FAMILIES, COUPLES, AND BUSINESS TRAVELLERS Minutes from the Fort Lauderdale/ Hollywood International Airport, two miles from Port Everglades and the Convention Center, this contemporary hotel offers an array of dining, shopping and entertainment venues - all within walking distance. The hotel features floor to ceiling windows with spectacular Ocean and Intracoastal views, an Oceanfront sundeck, plus free Wi-Fi. Best of all, there’s no resort fee!
COURTYARD BY MARRIOTT FORT LAUDERDALE BEACH 440 Seabreeze Boulevard, Fort Lauderdale Beach marriott.com/fllco | +1 954 524 8733
Hilton Pensacola Beach
Surf & Sand Hotel
The Hilton Pensacola Beach features 275 rooms, including 91 suites in a 17-story tower. This hotel has bedroom suites, oversized private beachfront balconies, indoor and outdoor pools (including a children’s pool and whirlpool), a 24-hour ﬁtness center, and the Bonsai Sushi Bar. hiltonpensacolabeach.com
The Surf & Sand Hotel in Pensacola Beach has 100 rooms overlooking Little Sabine Bay and is within easy walking distance of several bars and restaurants. This hotel offers fun, free amenities including ﬂoats, paddleboards, beach cruisers, kayaks and more. surfandsandhotelpensacolabeach.com
Holiday Inn Resort Pensacola Beach
Hampton Inn Pensacola Beach
Best Western Beachside Resort
The 205-room Holiday Inn Resort Pensacola Beach has the best pool on the beach, with a 250-foot seasonally heated lazy river and waterfall. There's also private beachfront balconies, kids suites, children’s activities, ‘Dive-Inn’ movies, and Riptides Sports Grill and Tiki Bar. holidayinnresortpensacolabeach.com
The Hampton Inn Pensacola Beach has 181 rooms and two large meeting rooms. It offers two seasonally heated swimming pools, private beachfront balconies, Gilligan’s Beachfront Tiki Bar, ﬁtness center, a 24-hour business center, free hot breakfast, free WiFi and free parking. hamptonpensacolabeach.com
The Best Western Beachside Resort is a 123-room beachfront hotel located directly on the white sands of the Gulf Coast. Key features include two outdoor pools, splash pad, restaurant and bar, ﬁtness center, free continental breakfast, free Wi-Fi and free guest parking. beachsideresortpensacolabeach.com
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Learn all about Setouchi
Super Break doubles on London SUPER Break plans to bring over 400 agents to London this year, up from 200 in 2018, thanks to the success of last year’s programme, which saw double-digit sales growth from most of the agents who attended. Each trip will include visiting some key attractions, a couple of hotels, sampling one of Super Break’s dining options, seeing a popular show and a hotel stay. The operator is looking to expand its educational programme into other areas of the UK.
Turquoise Holidays is dedicated to Fiji
BY LAURA GELDER
JAPAN’S Setouchi Tourism Authority, comprising the seven prefectures of Hyogo, Okayama, Hiroshima, Yamaguchi, Tokushima, Kagawa and Ehime, has a new e-learning platform for agents and a launch incentive. Designed to aid the training of agents across a growing product base, there are eight courses. First up is an introduction to the region, which upon completion unlocks the seven prefecture courses. More content will be
released throughout the year as well as regular news updates. Setouchi is known for its art, and is home to four UNESCO World Heritage sites and the Seto Island Sea (pictured). It is also famous for produce such as Kobe beef, Hiroshima oysters, Kagawa udon noodles and 275 Sake breweries. Agents can to win a place on a fam to Japan by signing up to the training platform and completing the short introductory course.
THE TURQUOISE Holiday Company launched the UK’s only dedicated Fiji brochure at a Tourism Fiji trade event at the Fiji High Commission in London last month. It oﬀers themed holidays like Luxury Private Island Hopping and Fijian Family Adventures and has a section on honeymoons. “This is the culmination of 17 years’ of experience arranging holidays to the South Paciﬁc,” said Managing Director, James Bell. A 10-night twin-island trip is priced from £6,995pp, with all meals and ﬂights.
Agents spread the word for New Zealand
Osborne and Ebel
TOURISM New Zealand is using travel agents as ambassadors in a new series of training videos. The ﬁlms see agents introduce ‘Manaakitanga’, a Māori concept representing hospitality, generosity and kindness. Six agents travelled to New Zealand last October on a specially curated fam trip and had their experiences ﬁlmed for three videos designed to train other agents.
wholesaler Osborne & Ebel has a special deal for the Sheraton Full Moon Resort Maldives. Five nights start from £375pp, on a full-board basis, and including return speedboat transfers. The deal is for travel May 1 to September 30, 2019. The resort is a short boat transfer from Male Airport, with excellent access to great diving spots, pristine beaches and great F&B options. For details contact: email@example.com TRADE-FRIENDLY
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Enjoy a luxurious stay of up to four nights in a four or five-star hotel from just £18*.
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Arizona’s foodie trail
BANDOS ISLAND RESORT & SPA MALDIVES YEAR ROUND OFFER STILL AVAILABLE Book by 30 April 19 and receive: 20% Discount on Room Rates! For all stays over 5 nights and for travel between 01 Apr – 23 Dec 19
BY SASHA WOOD
THE city of Mesa in Arizona is boosting agri-tourism with the launch of a new Fresh Foodie Trail, guiding visitors through the area’s many organic orchards, farms and mills. Oﬀering ‘epicurean exploration in a gourmet oasis in the Arizona desert’, the new foodie trail takes in historic farmsteads such as Steadfast Farm, which has its own organic restaurant. Visitors can participate in epicurean experiences such as pasta-making with ancient grains at the historic Hayden Flour Mills or harvesting coldpressed extra virgin olive oil at Queen Creek Olive Mill.
There’s the chance to try ice cream and cheese making at Superstition Farm, learn cleaneating cooking or sample salsas and sauces made from scratch at Jalapeno Buck’s BBQ, and join the Pumpkin and Chili Party at Schnepf Farm, which also has its own retro campsite. The 10-stop trail can be visited on a self-guided drive or there’s a guided tour that explores four highlights in two days. Visit Mesa’s Vice President of Communications, Michelle Streeter, says: “If you want to go there and eat, you can eat until your heart’s content.”
TAJ CORAL REEF RESORT & SPA MALDIVES SUmmER OFFER Book for a minimum of 3 nights and receive: Reduced Rates + 10% Early Bird Discount PLUS Complimentary Return Speedboat Transfers Valid for stays between 22/04/19 – 23/12/19
Sunvil attracts solos SUNVIL has a ‘no single supplement’ offer on selected breaks to Greece in May, with departures from Gatwick, Manchester and Bristol . A solo boating and cycling trip in the Peloponnese is priced from £439pp, staying in seaside apartments and with two hours of free motorboat hire.
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Solutions are tailor-made for G Adventures G ADVENTURES has a new range of 11 tailor-made travel solutions following feedback from agents. The launch destinations under the new TailorMade tag are Botswana, Cambodia, Costa Rica, Peru, Ecuador (including Galápagos), India, Laos, South Africa, Thailand, Vietnam and Zimbabwe, with sample itineraries available to inspire agents. “There has been a distinct gap in the market for tailormade travel solutions in adventure travel, speciﬁcally in the aﬀordable and midmarket price ranges... now travellers can combine experiential travel with customisation,” said founder, Bruce Poon Tip. Prices start from £719pp for a seven-day Thailand tour.
Belize makes big UK push
IN BRIEF FUNWAY Holidays oﬀers a new 11-day self drive ‘Colonial America’ holiday. Prices are from £1549pp including return ﬂights and all accommodation (three nights in Washington DC, two nights Virgina Bay, and overnight in Gettysburg, Shenandoah area, Williamsburg, Baltimore, and Philadelphia). funway4agents.co.uk
BY JESSICA POOK
THE BELIZE Tourism Board is to launch a new training programme for agents to encourage further visitor growth out of the UK. Agents will have the chance to become a Belize specialist and learn all about the Central American destination, with the new training programme due to launch in the next few months. Currently Belize has the second highest growth rate in the Caribbean, with an increase of 12% in UK visitors in 2018 compared to 2017. The tourist board will also host two fam trips for UK agents and tour operators. Adding to its appeal, from April 22 (Earth Day) Belize will up its sustainability eﬀorts by banning
the use of single-use plastic bags, plastic food utensils and singleuse disposable styrofoam. Its protection and sustainability eﬀorts have already assisted in the Belize Barrier Reef (the second largest in the world) being taken oﬀ the UNESCO endangered list last year. Karen Bevans, Director Tourism for Belize, said: “Our direct Air Mexico ﬂight from Mexico City has helped to increase accessibility and we are in talks for a direct ﬂight with British Airways.” The Belize Tourism Board will be attending the CTO and LATA roadshows later this year. See also pages 30-33.
ESCORTED holiday specialist Titan Travel has reported record-breaking trade sales at its latest trade sales meeting. Head of Trade Sales, Edwina Coppock, said: “I’m really proud of my team and what we have achieved. Thank you to our loyal agent partners – we couldn’t have achieved this without them.” titantravel.co.uk PREMIER Holidays has revamped its second-edition short haul brochure to feature a new section on Scotland, with top tips and advice on activities, food and drink, and places to visit in Shetland and the Orkney Islands. Agents will earn £5 in shopping vouchers for every Scotland booking. trade.premierholidays.co.uk
New small group tours from Indus Experiences
ROUTE 66 FROM £1649PP
Travelpack has a special oﬀer for Historic Route 66: 15 nights start from £1649pp, including ﬂights, accommodation and car hire. For travel on November 1 2019. Call 0208 585 4020 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
SOUTHERN Asia specialist Indus Experiences has a new collection of escorted small-group tours and a standalone brochure, in response to demand from agents. Eight tours to India, Vietnam and Cambodia, Sri Lanka and Uzbekistan have been designed for groups of eight to 14. A choice of extensions and stopover options are available, for agents to customise tours. indusexperiences.co.uk/small-group-tours
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the review: cruise
Croisi boosts Douro ﬂeet
CRUISE NEWS IN BRIEF HOLLAND America Line’s new Pack These Values promotion oﬀers reduced fares for children or a third and fourth adult sharing the stateroom, plus pre-paid gratuities and 5% deposits for eligible bookings made before May 15. The promotion is valid on cruises up to April 2020 to many destinations. A seven-night Saga Viking cruise on August 18 costs £1,599pp for the ﬁrst two guests, whilst the third and fourth guests sharing the same stateroom pay £249pp.
ANDY HARMER, CLIA UK & Ireland Director
LAST month, CLIA hosted its ﬁrst-ever Expedition Cruise Forum, created to help travel agents capitalise on the growth of this sector. Over recent years, we have seen the more discerning of travellers setting their sights on destinations that were previously out of reach - such as the Galapagos Islands, Antarctica and the Polar regions – but are now accessible by cruise ship. From January to September 2018, 20,000 expedition cruises were taken by Brits, up 4,000 from the year before. This growth in popularity is mirrored by the number of new exploration ships entering the market: in 2019 10 new exploration ships will launch, followed by a further ﬁve in 2020. Expedition cruises are not only popular amongst regular cruisers looking for a completely diﬀerent adventure, they also attract ﬁrst-timers, as expedition breaks the mould of the perception of cruising in their minds. When selling expedition cruises, travel agents should not only focus on the incredible out-of-this-world experiences, but also the state-of-the-art technology and luxurious oﬀerings onboard.
BY LINSEY MCNEIL EUROPE’S largest river cruise operator, CroisiEurope, has debuted its newest passenger ship – the MS Amalia Rodrigues – which will sail Portugal’s Douro River from April until September. The ship will cruise six- and eight-day itineraries through the UNESCO-listed Douro Valley, one of the oldest demarcated wine regions in the world. She will sail from the coastal city of Porto to Regua, Pinhao, Teron Vega, Barca d’Alva, Salamanca and Ferradosa. The three-deck ship accommodates up to 132 passengers and has four guest suites, two with private terraces. There’s also a cabin for guests with reduced mobility.
The 58 cabins on the middle and upper decks have French balconies with large windows. Guests will ﬁnd a spacious lounge and restaurant with panoramic views, a shop, and a large sun deck with sun loungers and a swimming pool. Built at the Meuse and Sambre shipyard in the Belgian city of Namur, the MS Amalia Rodrigues is the sixth ship to join CroisiEurope’s ﬂeet on the Douro, and its third premium-rated ship on the Golden River. All-inclusive prices start from £791pp for a six-day roundtrip cruise from Porto, including all meals and drinks, as well as entertainment and a gala evening.
CLIA will host a series of Luxury and Expedition Cruise Showcase events in October, visiting three UK cities in three days. They will be in Belfast (8), Manchester (9) and Norwich (10) and will oﬀer CLIA travel agent members the chance to meet with cruise lines and hear from industry experts. cruiseexperts.org
PRINCESS Cruises’ high-speed onboard wiﬁ, MedallionNet, which is available on four ships now, will be rolled out to a further six by the end of the year. princess.com
New ship on the Mekong will take guests oﬀ the beaten track WENDY Wu Tours has a new duluxe river cruise ship, the Victoria Mekong. It will sail four group tours and two private tours through Vietnam and Cambodia operating from the smaller, quieter port of Can Tho Pier to Phnom Penh and back again. This will allow guest to explore oﬀ-the-beaten-track areas and experience unique shore excursions on the Mekong Delta,
says Wendy Wu. Agents booking Victoria Mekong tours before the end of April will receive double incentives. The ship has 33 deluxe cabins, all with private balconies, and two VIP suites, and boasts a signature cocktail pool and pool bar. A 14-day Mekong Experience costs from £3,190pp, including a sunset cruise on the moat of Angkor Thom. wendywutours.co.uk/agents
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the review: unite events
UNITE INDIAN OCEAN & MIDDLE EAST – MARCH 4, 2019
United around the globe Selling Travel was the media partner at three of the annual Unite events. Here’s the latest news from the Indian Ocean & Middle East, Pacific & Australasia and Visit USA events SPONSORED BY LUX RESORTS & HOTELS AND MAURITIUS TOURISM PROMOTIONS AND AUTHORITY
NEWS TO USE IN BRIEF ANANTARA HOTELS, Resorts & Spas will make its debut into the luxury sector on Mauritius in Q4 2019. The property will be located near Blue Bay Marine Park and will feature 164 guest rooms and suites, with eight luxury pool villas. anantara.com JW MARRIOTT Maldives Resort and Spa will open on the island of Vagaru, Shaviyani Atoll, Maldives, in July. The property will consist of 61 villas, each featuring a private pool. There will also be 29 secluded one- and two-bedroom beach villas with their own private beach area. marriott.co.uk GUESTS staying at the Rove Hotel in Dubai can now make use of a free shuttle bus from the outlet village to Dubai Parks and Resorts. rovehotels.com JA RESORTS & HOTELS will add JA Lake View Hotel to the JA The Resort complex at Jebel Ali Beach in September. The 348 luxurious rooms and suites will help establish the brand as ‘Dubai’s largest experience resort’. jaresortshotels.com
the review: unite events
UNITE PACIFIC & AUSTRALASIA â&#x20AC;&#x201C; FEBRUARY 26, 2019 SPONSORED BY TOURISM FIJI
NEWS TO USE IN BRIEF ACCOR was showing off its new logo which reflects the more upmarket brands it represents. News from the Accor family includes the re-opening of Raffles Singapore this August, following a major two-year restoration. An exciting new property anticipated for this year is an Orient Express Hotel, the first of its kind, in Bangkok, slated for Q4. accorhotels.com TAHITIâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;S THE BRANDO has been shortlisted for the 2019 Climate Action Award. The luxury resort relies entirely on renewable energy such as solar power and coconut oil, and all building materials are of local or certified origin, renewable, or incorporate recycled components. A deep seawater airconditioning system keeps the hotel cool. thebrando.com NEW SOUTH WALES is raising awareness of Port Macquarie on the Mid North Coast of the state. The destination has 17 beaches, national parks, abundant wildlife and fascinating heritage and is renowned for its produce, including oysters. visitnsw.com A NOVEL attraction has opened in Fiji. Ecotrax comprises bikes mounted on a railway track and is a new way for visitors to explore the Coral Coast. ecotrax.com.fj
the review: unite events
UNITE VISIT USA – MARCH 12, 2019
SPONSORED BY VISIT USA
NEWS TO USE IN BRIEF WITH 270 music venues and Austin City Limits – one of the world’s hottest music festivals – Austin is home to some of the U.S.’s coolest music experiences – but it is now highlighting other attractions, like its sporting events, luxury hotels and many experiences related to culture and the arts. visitaustin.org SAN FRANCISCO has appointed Hills Balfour as its UK sales, marketing and public relations rep for the next two years. Norwegian began flying direct from Gatwick to San Francisco on March 31. In February, the first Virgin hotel on the west coast opened in the city. sftravel.com NEW YORK’S Metropolitan Opera House is highlighting performances for ‘new to opera’ visitors (such as Porgy and Bess), new Sunday matinee shows and backstage tours to help it become a ‘must-include attraction’ when visiting the city. Tickets are available through Broadway Inbound. made.travel IN Daytona Beach the 107room Home2 Suites by Hilton has opened close to the International Speedway. New oceanfront hotels being planned include a Marriott Renaissance, a Courtyard by Marriott and a Springhill Suites by Marriott. daytonabeach.com
CARIBBEAN NEWS THIS MO N TH’S TOP STORIES FROM THE CARIB B EAN
NEW ITINERARY FROM CARIBTOURS
MEET THE CTO MEMBER
Caribtours has created a new Caribbean itinerary for travel between Good Friday and the early May bank holiday. The trip uses only eight days of annual leave and costs £4,669pp for 16 nights across Saint Lucia, Bequia and Barbados. Clients will enjoy a six-night stay at East Winds, then onwards to Bequia Beach Hotel for five nights and finally Barbados for a five-night stay at The Sandpiper.
Managing Director of Resort Marketing International
WHAT are the benefits of being a CTO member? The CTO sits at the forefront of the Caribbean’s ‘UK family’. The UK Chapter offers access to expert help and support, including crisis management, PR and understanding how to exploit market trends and consumer buying behaviour.
WHAT CTO activities do you get involved in? As a company we utilise the newly-relaunched CTO website caribbean.co.uk, attend the key agent roadshows, participate in the many networking events and support the joint marketing opportunities.
WHAT’S your Caribbean tip? Try it all out! Sail, scuba dive, party like a local, try the world’s best rum or just find a comfy spot and kick back. It truly is my favourite region in the world.
Explore the new website to learn all about the Caribbean
CTO unveils new trade website AGENTS can now head to the new and improved website from the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) for inspiration on travel to the region. Available at caribbean.co.uk, the website has a number of key features designed to introduce visitors to the CTO UK Chapter members, along with incentives to book. The ‘I Want to Go To’ section informs and inspires as well as helping with the decision making. It also features a quick overview of each Caribbean destination. Agents have access to an interactive map enabling quick navigation around the islands, while the ‘Handpicked for You’ section gives users direct access to the best deals. There’s also the Explore pages, for those with a t A (Sain particular interest, and the The SLT rism u o Lucia T g Competition page for n) Sprin , ociatio s s A ’ events incentives. caribbean.co.uk rn a e L d ‘Dine an e UK in April th . across iaexpert saintluc m o c SAINT
Lucia has experienced a surge in UK arrivals as it continues to improve airside Brits can’t get enough of Saint Lucia and airfield operations, due to be completed within the next 30 months. The latest figures released by the Saint Lucia Tourism Authority report an 11.2% increase in UK visitors, with British tourists staying for the highest number of nights (averaging 10). stlucia.org
NEW ANGUILLA FOR BUMPER 2019 Anguilla is “back better than before Hurricane Irma”, with refurbished and new properties improving the tourism offering, said the island’s UK Director of Tourism, Carolyn Brown. New openings include the 128room and suite Belmond Cap Juluca. The five-star Malliouhana is to introduce 11 new beachfront suites and a spa over the coming months and CuisinArt Golf Resort and Spa has reopened on Rendezvous Bay after a full refurbishment.
WHAT don’t readers know about Resort Marketing International? We’ve invested over £3M on our reservation platform alone. RMI now has direct connectivity to over 100 tour operators and agency groups, which means we can properly yield our rates and change our selling prices in seconds.
WITH 2020 being dubbed the year of ‘the Gathering’, Barbadians across the world are being invited home for a grand coming together. Bringing Barbadians back Barbadians ‘by birth marriage or by choice’ will be able to reconnect with family and friends and help to stimulate the economy with each month focusing on a different parish. Themed holiday packages will reflect the campaign throughout 2020. visitbarbados.org
caribbean.co.uk Sign up to the CTO’s training programme at caribbeantravelguru.com
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GDS | TRAINING | REWARDS
Training, competitions, events April 2019
THIS MONTH'S TOP STORIES
Tipto ambassador NEWS
Quick Quiz Are you a Ontario Expert?
1. Ottowa is the capital of Canada TRUE / FALSE
Saga seeks out 2019 sailings
2. Ontario is home to the world's largest ice rink TRUE / FALSE
Answer 1.True 2: True
Fiji brings the bula Tourism Fiji has launched a 'Where Happiness Finds You' campaign to highlight the 'Bula' Spirit' that saw Fiji voted as one of the world's happiest nations in 2017. The new campaign was announced on the International Day of Happiness by Jane West, Regional Manager UK and Europe. Fiji has released a ‘Bulanaires List’ of people around the globe who are ‘rich in happiness’, as opposed to The Times' Rich List, which is all about the money. The initiative is being rolled out via Tourism Fiji and third-party channels. fiji.travel; bulanaires.com
Saga Experts I Modules: 8 SAGA is rewarding two agents with a £2,019 cash prize for booking a holiday or cruise with a 2019 departure date. Every booking made between April 5-22 will be automatically entered into the draw, money which Saga hopes will be shared with the agent's hard-working team. New for 2020, every Spirit of Discovery or Spirit of Adventure cruise will include unlimited drinks as well as a private balcony for every guest, complimentary specialty dining, free wiﬁ, a return chauﬀeur service up to 250 miles from the port and 24-hour room service.
TIPTO has welcomed a new addition to its growing list of Agent Ambassadors. Jo Richards, Director of Tivoli Travel, is the association's seventh ambassador and will help to influence TIPTO's delivery of roadshow events and training sessions through to the incentives offered by members. In addition, the ambassadors are also given first refusal on invites to special VIP events such as Ladies Day at the Races, TIPTO’s lavish afternoon tea and members' lunches. tipto.co.uk
3/28/19 08:40 PM
Training courses to help travel agents and advisers sell more!
Working in partnership
A-Z of available courses
Jumeirah Port Soller Hotel and Spa in Mallorca is offering a 'unique experiences' programme to celebrate its reopening this month. Guests can enjoy large choice of experiences on and around the island, which range from scenic airplane rides to Menorca, sunset boat trips, exclusive national park speedboat tours and hikes across World Heritage sites to Sóller Valley orange grove tours, gin tastings and specialised culinary masterclasses. The hotel is due to reopen on April 1 and is offering a 15% discount off the standard rate for luxury bookings made at least 15 days in advance of arrival.
ABTA Alaska Beaches Resorts Bourne Leisure Butlins Centara Hotels & Resorts Cirque de Soleile Costa Rica Elegant Hotels Essential Detail Fiji Finland Flanders Fort Myers & Sanibel Haven Hotels Hawaii
Heritage Resort Jerusalem Jumeirah Hotels
Spring breaks from Haven
& Resorts Journey Beyond Las Vegas Macao Malaysia
Bourne Leisure Expert I Modules: 5
Rail routes in Japan News
Railbookers has added JUMEIRAH PORT SOLLER HOTEL more Japanese itineraries to & SPA UNVEILS NEW UNIQUE its portfolio of rail holidays. EXPERIENCES PROGRAMME Passengers can venture to Tokyo, AHEAD OFKyoto, 2019 REOPENING Hiroshima, Kanazawa, Matsumoto, Takayama, Hakone and Nara, as part of the new Best of Japan, The Golden Route of Japan and Scenic Japan itineraries. Train journeys include the famous Shinkansen bullet train; the Limited Express (a train that stops at just major stations), Wide View Hida, which travels a scenic route with panoramic country views from large windows; and the Romance car, which journeys south-west of Tokyo. Bookings to Japan are expected to soar ahead of the 2019 Rugby World Cup and 2020 Olympics. railbookers.co.uk
Melia Hotels & Resorts New York city
AGENTS can enjoy a three- or four-night family break throughout April and May from £59 a family. This spring oﬀer is valid at a choice of 36 holiday parks across the UK's coastline based on the family sharing a deluxe twobedroom caravan that sleeps up to six people. Prices for a four-night midweek break during March and April start from £59 per family but agents can opt for a three-night weekend break from £99. Email email@example.com for more information. Also, every agent that completes the Train with Brainz course at BourneExpert.co.uk and makes a booking will be in with a chance of winning one of three Easterthemed chocolate hampers.
New York state Newmarket Holidays Ontario Qatar Railbookers SAGA Saint Lucia Sandals Resorts Serenity Holidays Seychelles Simon Malls St Kitts Thailand TIPTO US Airtours Veranda Resorts Windjammer Landing Hotel traveluni.com
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the best there is
Luxury options abound in the Maldives but, as all travel professionals know, there are many versions of luxury and what you book depends on your client. Clare Walsh picks ten stand-out options
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ll of the Maldives islands are renowned for their pristine beaches and azure waters, but each is unique and it’s important that agents match their clients with the right resort. And while all islands oﬀer unrivalled luxury, resorts are constantly evolving and redeﬁning the concept to ﬁt with changing client expectations and trends. A raft of new openings and initiatives in 2019 means there’s more than ever for agents to sell.
plus or all-inclusive packages the option to eat lunch and dinner in any of the à la carte restaurants, H20 is a fully submerged restaurant that treats guests to a marine show, while The Sand serves freshly cooked dishes from its cooking stations. Japanese and Italian are further options, while the Cheers Bar brings aperitifs to your hammock.
For a buddy-moon
Mirihi Island resort (mirihi.com/en/) has tapped into the current ‘buddy-moon’ Set on a wildly beautiful and remote coral trend – of honeymooning with friends and/ island, Faarufushi Maldives (faarufushi.com) or family rather than just your lover - by opened in February as the latest ﬁve-star revealing a new two bedroom beachfront addition from Universal Resorts Maldives. residence with direct access to the beach. One of the Small Luxury Hotels of Oﬀering ocean views from the ﬁrst ﬂoor the World, its terrace, activities style focuses such as sunrise “Wellness continues to on understated ﬁshing, private elegance that dominate travel trends and a movie nights and celebrates the new partnership at Shangri- shark excursions resort’s natural La’s Villingili Resort & Spa will ensure there’s beauty. During their plenty to keep will enable clients to enjoy a groups of friends holiday, guests holistic self-care can stay in a beach entertained. bungalow, beach The resort’s Ocean experience” villa or ocean villa Pro Dive Centre positioned over the island’s lagoon. caters for all levels and guests may even be From dreamy spa treatments in the lucky enough to spot a whale shark. treehouse-style rooms to stretching in the yoga pavilion, this resort is an escapist’s For a fitness Focus dream. Wellness continues to dominate travel
For remote escapism
Wildly different experience Clients seeking authentic experiences have been a steady trend in recent years, particularly among millennials, and luxury and adventure go hand-in-hand at the newly launched safari-style tented jungle villas from Fairmont Maldives Sirru Fen Fushi (fairmont.com/Maldives). The resort invites guests to drift oﬀ under the stars and awaken to the music of nature, while still indulging in luxuries such as the outdoor rain shower and roll-top tub. Guests can sail to a deserted island for a castaway picnic or learn traditional line ﬁshing on a sunrise trip.
trends, and a new partnership at ShangriLa’s Villingili Resort & Spa (shangri-la.com/ en/male/villingiliresort/) will enable clients to enjoy a holistic self-care experience. As part of its ‘Master in Residence’ programme, leading wellness expert and Adidas global ambassador Adrienne LDN
For discerning diners
SHERATON FULL MOON MALDIVES
Since its opening in March 2019, adultsonly resort You and Me Maldives (youandmemaldives.com) on the Raa Atoll has introduced its ‘dine around’ concept. This oﬀers guests on half-board plus, full-board
JW MARRIOTT MALDIVES
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MIRIHI ISLAND RESORT
TENTED JUNGLE VILLA AT FAIRMONT MALDIVES
will be oﬀering private training sessions, motivational talks and runs on a new 5km jungle trail across peaks. Hailed as ‘the new face of wellness’ by Vogue, she will be there for 10 days from April 9, 2019.
For dual-resort access “Mirihi Island resort has tapped into the current ‘buddy-moon’ trend – of honeymooning with friends and/or family rather than just your lover”
One of the largest resort oﬀerings in the Maldives is set to open in April 2019. The Residence Maldives at Dhigurah on the Gaafu Alifu Atoll (cenizaro.com/theresidence/ maldives-dg) is connected to the company’s ﬁrst property by a bridge. 173 beach and water villas oﬀer plenty of choice, while 12 new two-bedroom beach and water villas are geared towards families. Features include a 42-metre inﬁnity pool, spa pavilions, reading lounge, complimentary bicycles and a dive centre. The children’s club oﬀers unique activities, like Dhivehi language practice and yoga.
For private island magic For the ultimate in luxurious seclusion, oﬀer up Velaa Private Island (velaaprivateisland. com). With a choice of accommodation, its expansive four-bedroom residence is set to undergo a transformation under designer Patricia Urquiola. Clients will have everything they need for a bucket-list trip, with plenty of activities for those with itchy feet. A covered tennis arena, squash, badminton, beach volleyball and climbing wall to name a few.
For simply being
SHANGRI-LA’S VILLINGILI RESORT & SPA
Atmosphere Hotels and Resorts (atmospherehotelsandresorts.com) will open its latest ﬁve-star oﬀering in October this year, where the aim is to ensure guests can switch oﬀ entirely knowing all is taken care oﬀ.
POOL RESIDENCE AT VEELA PRIVATE ISLAND
Located on the northwest edge of Male Atoll, all guests are on a ‘Platinum Plus Plan’ that oﬀers an array of food and drink options, two excursions and in-villa services. Further features include the resort’s house reef, a dive and water sports centre, gym, kids club and ELENA spa.
For multiple sleeping options Opening in summer 2019, JW Marriott Maldives Resort & Spa on the island of Vagaru, Shaviyani Atoll (marriott.co.uk), will oﬀer many accommodation options. Opt for seclusion among lush greenery in one of its 29 one- and two-bedroom beach villas or go for a classic stay on stilts in villas that tower above the Laccadive Sea. Families looking to splash out may even be tempted by the opulent fourbedroom Royal Water Villa that comes with nanny’s quarters. Five restaurants oﬀer plenty of choice for guests, including a novel treetop restaurant. An extensive wine cellar, spa and kids club are further features.
For unfettered family time No longer the preserve of honeymooners and couples, many resorts in the Maldives now have a strong oﬀer for families. Having recently completed a $20million renovation, Sheraton Maldives Full Moon Resort & Spa (marriott.com) is located just 20 minutes by speedboat from Velana International Airport. A short journey is ideal for those travelling with kids and means it’s an option for half-term breaks. Cottages with interconnecting rooms, an adventure club for children and a spa island are other family-friendly attributes of this accessible resort.
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8:32 AM The moment the soul of the Maldives found you. Generous villas with understated echoes of the many cultures of the Maldives. An untouched diving destination, on the largest lagoon in the Maldives, shimmering with cerulean light. Fairmont Maldives artfully connects nature to the soul and the result is unforgettable. Gateway to your perfect Maldives moment. fairmont. com/maldives
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3/28/19 04:51 PM 27/03/2019 10:25
. . . n i s e lu b e h t g Singin
! i p p i s s i s s Mi
es ch of the people and plac ar se in 61 ay hw ig H down Steve Hartridge travels ue sound of the South tr e th is at th e nr ge al e music that are keeping alive th
as is Pat Thom ’ an a ‘Blues M
at Thomas is a ‘Blues Man’ and reckons he has always been a Blues Man. “I came into this world humming the blues and I will go out of this world playing the blues,” says Pat, whose ‘pappa’, James ‘Son’ Thomas, was a wellknown blues musician and travelled all over the U.S. and Europe with his guitar. Pat Junior welcomes visitors to the Highway 61 Blues Museum in Leland, Mississippi. If they pay him a dollar he will play them a blues tune. For their money, visitors also get a souvenir domino with a picture of a cat on it. There’s a story about the cat, but Pat’s Southern drawl – as rich as a fried and seasoned catfish from the Delta – defeats me. Highway 61 Blues Museum is one of several in the state that tells the story of the men and women who played the blues back in a heyday that started in the 1920s and ran through the 1950s - legendary musicians like Sonny Boy Williamson, Howlin’ Wolf, Muddy Watters and the most famous of them all, B.B. King. Leland is located right on Highway 61, which rivals Route 66 as the most famous road in American music lore. Running from the top to the bottom of the western portion of the state, through what is called the Mississippi Delta, the road is the spiritual home of the blues – and it’s packed with places and musicians that are keeping the genre alive today. As we take a slow meander down this highway, and venture along its byways, we visit some of the museums, monuments, roadside markers and blues clubs on the Mississippi Blues Trail. In places nondescript to eye-catching - from city streets to cotton fields to train depots, cemeteries, churches and clubs over 200 sites are marked by distinctive blue markers, with words and pictures detailing their significance to the blues. The music was born out of the laments of
slaves working the plantations of the South in the nineteenth century but the trail itself is a relatively new concept, established only in 1990 when historians were commissioned to research significant moments and places of blues’ history. After leaving Nashville, our first stop is the Gateway to the Blues Museum and Visitor Centre in Tunica, close to the state borders of Arkansas and Tennessee and a short drive from Memphis. Housed in an ex-train depot that dates back to 1895, the museum offers a 101 introduction to the music, and how it rose defiantly from those cotton fields and swamplands of the Delta. Lunch is at the Hollywood café, which can point to plenty of history of its own. Not only is it feted in a line from the Marc Cohn song Walking in Memphis but it was where John Grisholm wrote his book The Firm. I tuck into catfish goujons, hush puppies, fried green tomatoes and pecan pie.
The blues was born in the cotton ﬁelds and swamplands of the Delta
Gateway to th e Blues Museum and V isitor Centre, Tunica
... PREM A 10-nigh IER t s e lf -drive sta £1,549pp r t s from , wit to Memph h ﬂights from Hea is and ret throw Orleans. I u t includes rning from New night Clarksdale , Vicksbur s in Greenville, g and Na trade.pre tchez mierholid ays.co.uk
Walnut Street Blues Bar There is more southern food on offer that evening in Greenville, at Doe’s Eat Place, another restaurant seemingly caught in another place in time. Mostly unchanged since its opening in 1941, it’s a ramshackle building that has seen better days. But that’s the way its owners Charles and Little Doe keep it to create its timeless ambience and atmosphere. The house specialities are homemade beef tamales, broiled and fried shrimps and oversized porterhouse and sirloin steaks.
My Journey-MISSISSIPPI.indd 70
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61 blues Highway land mural, Le
Live music at th e Walnut Street Blue Bar , Greenville Follow the trai l and learn the story of the bl ues in Mississip pi “This has always been a black neighbourhood. We are in a Deep South town and we have always served everyone here, even during those times when blacks went in through the front and whites were served in a room at the back,” says my waitress. These days, everyone – including Bill Clinton, Jessica Lang and the late Anthony Bourdain - enter through the front, straight into a sweltering kitchen with a broiler on full blast, past big bowls of salad and those giant slabs of meat being primed with seasoning. I had spent this first day in Mississippi hearing and reading all about the blues but was beginning to wonder whether anyone was still playing it. That changed when we walked into the Walnut Street Blues Bar in downtown Greenville, a few paces from the banks of the Mississippi river. Here, in a room with barstools and tables that looked like they were taken out of someone’s kitchen, we watched a jam session of the rawest, most authentic blues imaginable. Welcome to the South - welcome to the Blues Men.
Holy cow! Big steaks at Doe’s Eat Place, Greenville Is this where R obert Johnson sold his soul to the devil?
B.B. King still a Mississippi draw One of Mississippi’s main draw cards is the B.B. King Museum and Delta interpretive Center in Indianola. The Delta cotton country town is where Riley B.B. King first played on street corners as a young man and the extensive facility is a testament to the life of the blues’ foremost ambassador. B.B. died in 2015 and his body lies in a memorial garden at the back of the museum. By the time we reach Clarksdale, a town on the Sunflower River central to the story of the blues, I had got the message: Mississippi is a state that is the beating heart and soul of America’s musical roots. Several of those Mississippi Blues Trail markers are located in the town, including at the Riverside Hotel, where many famous blues entertainers stayed. At Clarksdale’s Rock and Blues Museum, there’s a collection of 78 rpm records, posters and displays on the ‘British Invasion’ of the 1960s. Next door, Ground Zero Blues Club, owned by Morgan Freeman, packs in the crowds while Red’s Lounge is a real-deal juke joint. Like that Blues Man Pat Thomas, I’ll be whistling the blues for a good while yet. visitmississippi.org; industry.travelsouthusa.com
B.B. King’s grave in Indianola
d Rock an m, s u eu Blues M ale Clarksd Touring the B.B . King Museum an d Delta Interpre tive Center, Indian ola sellingtravel.co.uk
My Journey-MISSISSIPPI.indd 71
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Korea Despite holding last year's Winter Olympics, Korea remains under the radar of many Asia bound travellers - but there's a wealth of reasons for visiting, says Anna Maria Espsäter Oh dear, I am running late for my bibimbap cooking lesson. That's perhaps not surprising given that so far today I’ve tried my hand at learning Korean drumming, sampled various rice wines and dressed up for a traditional wedding - as the bride! There’s no end to the fun to be had at the Traditional Cultural Centre in Jeonju, a city in western Korea well-known for its Hanok Heritage village, an area of traditionally-built houses. I am spending the day exploring the city, complete with cultural and culinary delights. My day starts with an amble around some of the 800-plus hanok buildings, followed by a visit to the Traditional Wine Museum, giving a good introduction into the history and process of rice wine-making. There is some sampling, of course, just in time to increase my conﬁdence before the drumming lesson. This is not for the faint-hearted as much shouting in Korean ensues to get us all warmed up and ready to pound the drums, all of which are on the large side. I actually ﬁnd the traditional wedding far more relaxing, and dressing up is plenty of fun. Last, but not least, there is food, even if I have to cook it myself. Pots and pans at the ready, I learn how to make the classic rice dish, bibimbap and, much to my relief, it is not too hard. Rounding oﬀ a hard day’s learning, I tuck into a hearty dish and some soju rice wine.
SUNFLOWER TRAIL, GANGJU VILLAGE
SEOUL'S LOTTE WORLD TOWER
A great alternative Korea may not be topping any trending lists but that’s all the more reason to sell it before it does. “South Korea provides a really great, cost-eﬀective alternative to its neighbour, Japan,” says Paul Ingram, Product & Category Manager at Kuoni. “You can get similar experiences, including amazing cuisine, natural hot springs, modern cities, historic towns and villages, plus fast and eﬃcient public transport. Visit in the spring for inspiring cherry blossom or head there in the autumn and experience the stunning colours of the autumn leaves,” he says.
NAMHANSANSEONG MOUNTAIN FORTRESS
Korean history spans over 5,000 years and there are plenty of sights dotted across the country that are well worth a visit. Many, from palaces and temples to shrines and fortresses, are included on the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites. Firmly in touch with its history, Korea is
also well and truly moving with the times and its technology is second to none. The country is compact and easy to get around, with high-speed trains linking all the main hubs. Korea is a populous nation, but it’s still possible to get away from it all and head out into nature. Although a comparatively small nation, there are 22 national parks to choose from, most of them in mountainous areas. The oldest, Jirisan, celebrated 50 years as a protected area in 2017. Visitors shouldn’t miss the exciting capital, Seoul, for its wonderful mix of ancient temples and modern sky scrapers and is crammed with fabulous, bustling night markets.
Must-dos One of the absolute must-dos in Korea is sampling the country’s fantastic, varied food scene. Markets can be a good place to start, as long as your clients are feeling brave and don’t expect everyone to speak
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English, but there are also numerous restaurants oﬀering traditional cuisine from kimchi (fermented vegetables) to barbequed meats. Just tuck in! Korea is quite a healthy, sporty nation and trying the national sport of Taekwondo is a fun way to learn about the culture. Cycling is popular and there are many well-maintained, scenic cycle paths along the country’s main rivers. Although spring and autumn are the best times to visit, those looking for a winter adventure will ﬁnd ample winter sport options. Pyeongchang, in the northeast and the 2018 host of the Winter Olympics, is now a world-class resort. The Demilitarised Zone (DMZ) along the border between North and South Korea is also a major fascination for visitors. As a contrast, many temples are open for overnight and longer stays, for those wanting to get away from it all and have a peaceful experience.
What’s new Due to the positive developments in relations between North and South Korea in 2018, the DMZ tour is a big focus for 2019. Korea Tourism Organisation’s head oﬃce is currently running a campaign called #LoveforDMZ (lovefordmz.com). Seoul Botanic Park is oﬃcially opening its doors in the summer of 2019 and will include Korea’s largest greenhouse. Improvements are being made to the infrastructure of several palaces in Seoul, including a new entrance to Gyeongbokgung Palace. After focusing on Busan in 2018, the KTO is currently emphasising local provinces such as Gangwon-do, which hosted the Winter Olympics last year. Great Rail Journeys (greatrail.com) has introduced Timeless South Korea, a new
GAMCHEON CULTURE VILLAGE, BUSAN
nine-day tour for 2020. "Korea is undoubtedly becoming much more popular with travellers, which is why we have introduced our new tour for 2020,” says Louise Heatley, Head of Product and Contracting, Great Rail Journeys. “There's so much to discover in Korea, which has managed to hang on to its authentic charm. "Our new tour takes in palaces, shrines and local delicacies, making it the perfect introduction to this fascinating country," adds Heatley.
Where to stay A growing number of the major hotel groups have recently opened up new properties in Seoul, including Best Western, Holiday Inn, JW Marriott, Novotel, Courtyard and Sheraton. There are also plenty of options for the more budget-conscious, as well as boutique and unusual places to stay. Traditional hanok buildings, temple stays, sleeping in a converted train carriage or a decorated bus are some of the many options on oﬀer.
WINTER TEMPLE SCENE
“There's so much to discover in Korea, which has managed to hang on to its authentic charm. Our new tour takes in palaces, shrines and local delicacies” Louise Heatley, Head of Product and Contracting, Great Rail Journeys
BOOK IT WITH...REGENT HOLIDAYS
BUKCHON HANOK VILLAGE
Regent has an eight-day Highlights of South Korea group tour, priced from £1,335pp, excluding international ﬂights, for departures throughout 2019. It covers Seoul, Gyeongju, Daegu and Busan. regentholidays.co.uk
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the final word
the quirky side of travel The rich snow no bounds
Ski Independence has lifted the lid on luxury skiing, revealing how the rich and famous can spend £56,000 on the slopes in just seven days at Courchevel 1850 - the favoured destination for David and Victoria Beckham and the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. A sample holiday itinerary includes: A £25,000 seven-night stay at the ﬁve-star Hotel L’Apogée, caviar facials at the inhotel spa and a £12,000 shopping spree. There's also an adrenaline-inducing activities package including helicopter trips and sledding, worth over £12,000, on-demand limousine services and helicopter taxis. Guests don’t have to lift a ﬁnger, and hotel staﬀ even oﬀer to help place their ski boots on. ski-i.com
Champagne is so 2018
Who needs Europe anyway? Well... at least we don't need to rely on Champagne to christen our ships! Saga's new vessel Spirit of Discovery is to be christened with a Jeroboam (four bottles in one) of its very ownlabel English sparkling wine instead of the usual French sparkling stuﬀ, at her christening in the Port of Dover on July 5 this year. It will also be served on board the ship. saga.co.uk
Top Euro foods WeSwap unveiled the top destinations for consumers to enjoy European delicacies ahead of our (maybe) impending exit from the EU. But don't worry, whatever happens, these delicious dishes will still be there to taste. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7
Travel booking site Globehunters has revealed a list of countries where you can’t drink tap water and it's not short there are 187! You'll need to go bottled everywhere in Africa, Asia - except Japan and South Korea - and Latin America bar Chile and Costa Rica. Surprising bad water spots are Cyprus, the Maldives and Fiji - but that pricy Fiji Water is ok! globehunters.ca/blog/safe-tap-water.htm
Waﬄes in Belgium Kremrole In Czech Republic Arancini in Italy Pierogi in Poland Goulash in Hungary Currywurst in Germany Moussaka in Greece Halloumi in Cyprus Köttbullar in Sweden Potica in Slovenia
THE MAY 2019 ISSUE OF SELLING TRAVEL WILL FEATURE: Abu Dhabi • Chad • Dominican Republic • Ecuador and Galapagos • escorted touring • Japan • Malaysia • Mauritius • Ras Al Khaimah • Thailand adventures • Walking Holidays • CONTACT US: firstname.lastname@example.org ONLINE reviews • blogs • features • incentives • interviews
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