Selling Travel January 2020

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Bermuda • Central America • Cruising– What's New? • Dominican Republic • New South Wales • Québec • South Africa • Spa, Health & Wellness

RAISE YOUR GAME Selling holidays that promote wellness for the mind as well as the body could make for healthier bookings in 2020 how to sell...

Bermuda South Africa Central America Dominican Republic and more...

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NEED A LITTLE LIFT? YEAR-ROUND TO SALT LAKE CITY. Fly Delta nonstop from London to Salt Lake City this winter and enjoy some of the finest ski destinations the U.S. has to offer. With easy connections to resorts in Montana, California, and more.

© 2019 Delta Air Lines Inc. 10/19




FEATURES 10 What's new in cruising: New ships and innovative itineraries 29 Dominican Republic: Eco-tourism is on the rise and new resorts abound 41 South Africa: New product for 2020 55 Central America: Seven wonders uncovered


68 27




QUICK READS 16 Spotlight on: Attitude




27 How to sell: Bermuda 35 Travel talk: Rocky Mountaineer


36 Visit USA 38 My Journey: Québec 40 Interview: Fancourt



58 Six of the best: Beaches of New South Wales



TALKING SHOP 17 Agent opinion, incentives, fam trips, travel trade news and more



WELLNESS HOLIDAYS 64 Sector trends 68 UK holidays 72 New product 74 Take 5: Spas in the






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



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up to

Save on over 350 tours for a limited time.

Now’s the time to save on some of our greatest tours. Do your customers have big plans this year? Make them bigger by planning their next life-changing adventure. Right now, save up to 25% on over 350 tours around the world.

Just a few of the Tours on Offer: Essential China 21 Days | Beijing to Hong Kong Was £2,099. Now from £1,574. • Walk the Great Wall and explore the Forbidden City • Stand face-to-face with Terracotta Warriors • Ride a bamboo raft through Yangshuo’s karst landscape

Costa Rica Adventure 16 Days | San José to San José Was £1,119. Now from £1,007. • Spot wildlife while cruising through the canals of Tortuguero • Hike through the cloud forest • Enjoy the gorgeous beaches of the Pacific and Caribbean coasts

Absolute Peru 21 Days | Lima to Lima Was £2,429. Now from £2,064. • Trek the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu • Search for wildlife at our exclusive G Lodge Amazon • Experience local life at a homestay on Lake Titicaca

Essential Vietnam & Cambodia 17 Days | Hanoi to Bangkok Was £1,399. Now from £1,189. • Sail on a junk boat through Halong Bay • Float through the Mekong Delta • Enjoy sunrise over breathtaking Angkor Wat

Indochina Encompassed 29 Days | Bangkok to Bangkok Was £2,349. Now from £1,996. • Float down the mighty Mekong River • Explore the bustling streets of Hanoi • Village homestay with a host-prepared Laotian meal

Delhi to Kathmandu Adventure 15 Days | Delhi to Kathmandu Was £1,119. Now from £895. • Explore the vibrant streets of Agra • Enjoy a sunset cruise on the River Ganges • Travel by 4x4 on a safari in Chitwan National Park

The sale ends 31 January so don’t wait to get your customers booked!

24/7 Agent Hotline UK: 0344 272 2200 Ireland: 01 6971360

Terms and Conditions Eligible passengers shall receive 10-25% off per person on guaranteed departures of select small-group tours, for select departure dates as indicated on our website. Must be booked by 31 January, 2020 at 23:59 EST for travel departing by 31 October, 2020. Valid for new bookings only and must quote promo code G20GAV010ADV01GLUS for 10% off, promo code G20GAV015ADV01GL for 15% off, promo code G20GAV020ADV01GLUS, for 20% off, and promo code G20GAV025ADV01GLUS for 25% off. Bookings must be made by calling G Adventures, visiting, or by contacting your local travel agent. Cannot be combined with any other offers, promotions or discounts and is subject to availability. Does not apply to private groups, Independent trips, pre- or post-tour accommodation, insurance, airfare not included in the itinerary, upgrades, extras, “My Own Room” or “My Own Tent, ” transfers, theme packs, or other in-country or on-board services. G Adventures reserves the right to withdraw this offer from sale at any time without prior notice. Any refunds made with respect to products booked under this promotion shall be issued at the discounted rate. G Adventures reserves the right to cancel any booking due to unauthorized, altered, ineligible, or fraudulent use of discount. G Adventures is not responsible for technical or system errors that may interfere with or otherwise prohibit the use of the promotion. All G Adventures tours are subject to G Adventures’ full booking conditions, found here:

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How are you? WINNER




Jessica Pook, Sasha Wood & April Waterston CONTRIBUTING EDITORS:

Andy Hoskins & Julie Baxter EDITORIAL DIRECTOR

Steve Hartridge


Steve Thompson Sally Parker ADVERTISING MANAGER


Shani Kunar


Matt Bonner CEO

Martin Steady


Louisa Horton DESIGNERS

Ross Clifford, Caitlan Francis & Zoe Tarrant PRODUCTION & STUDIO MANAGER


t's a question we're asked every day and rarely answer truthfully. Perhaps because it used to be a greeting: 'how do you do?' and still is in Australia where they ask, 'how ya going?' Or maybe because we suspect that no one will want to hear how we're really feeling unless it's 'great, thanks!' If 2019 did one thing right it was making the health of the mind as important as the health of the body. Social media over Christmas was flooded with the usual pictures of happy families in matching pyjamas, but many posts wryly acknowledged that this was the 15th take after an epic argument over Brexit or Laura Gelder EDITOR Gavin and Stacey. And many shared the Samaritans helpline, pointing out that Christmas doesn't bring peace and joy to all. By the time you read this, we'll be well into January, the month of new beginnings, alcohol abstinence, fad diets and people over-sharing their smug fitness goals. It's a time of high expectations and hopefully big bookings for travel agents. It's also a month of increased stress levels – which is why our special section on wellness travel (page 63) is timely. In our fast-paced world the need to espouse a healthy mind as much as a fit and active body is increasingly important and this is a trend that agents can help with. Take any of our features this month and you'll see how wellness can be incorporated into any holiday. In the Dominican Republic (page 29) there are a plethora of new hotels opening with impressive spa facilities and the Caribbean country is pushing outdoor adventures and natural highs. Many resorts in South Africa (page 41) are focusing on boosting the environment as well as offering their guests a digital detox and healthy home-grown food. And here in the UK (page 68) hot tub holidays and itineraries focused on getting back to nature are growing exponentially. After all, isn't a holiday the ultimate escape from the stresses and strains of every day life? And if so, travel agents are not just in the business of selling lovely holidays. Think of yourself as the architect of an experience which will hopefully enhance your client’s life. Talk about a new you! Happy New Year and happy peaks.

Clare Hunter


Steve Hunter

(PRINT) ISSN 2056-9319. © BMI PUBLISHING LTD 2019.


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the big picture


Portland Oregon

Hipster heaven British Airways will launch the first year-round direct flight between the UK and Oregon’s biggest city in June, flying to this creative, liberal hub five times a week. Portland is known for its craft beer, coffee and music scenes and its independent spirit, with farm-to-table eateries and vintage shops outnumbering chain stores. And if the city’s many green spaces don’t satisfy, Mount Hood, the Columbia River Gorge and the dramatic Oregon Coast beckon.

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20 20








or more 10 weeks ure. gs made *On bookin date of depart from









*Terms and conditions apply. Please see Jet2holidays trade website for full details.


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WHAT’S YOUR VIBE? We’ve grouped our hotels into categories, so it’s easier to find your match. We’re good like that.

O U R S TA N D O U T COLLECTION World-renowned (and for good reason), these are the tour slots A-list acts are after. Ushuaïa Ibiza Beach Hotel, Ibiza Rocks, Hard Rock Ibiza, BH Mallorca and Noa Glamping Resort, are your ears burning? This famous five need no introduction, well, they’re hotel royalty after all.

BUDGET HQ, U N B E ATA B L E L O C AT I O N Stay in a basic base, play in an upbeat place – welcome to PARTY VIBE. You’re more about the strip than paying top dollar for a place to kip. These hotels plonk you right in the buzz of town, but still allow you to keep the costs down. We’re talking less of the frills, all of the thrills.

G R E AT P O S T C O D E , EVEN BETTER HOTEL Staying in is the new going out with PURE VIBE. Why leave the hotel when pool parties, daytime DJs and live stage performances are right here, right now? Ready to head out? You won’t have to step far to find the nearest bars. For the ultimate VIBE experience, PURE VIBE’s your guy (or gal).

NIGHTLIFE OPTIONAL, VIP-FEEL GUARANTEED If luxury’s your thing, then CHILLED is your VIBE. We’re talking poolside lounging with the hum of house tunes, rooftop cocktails and the sparkle of four or five stars. These hotels are a cut above the rest with exclusive extras and sophistication as standard – they’re an Insta story waiting to happen.

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what’s new in cruising

Crest of

a wave Just when you thought you’d got to grips with the world of cruise, along comes a new year with more vessels, innovations and trends, says Jane Archer


LIA UK & Ireland director Andy Harmer says there are several trends agents need to be aware of as we enter 2020, including demand for more adventurous and luxurious voyages and solo travel. “Travellers are shifting away from personal possessions and instead investing in experiences,” he says. “Bookings to polar regions such as Antarctica are set to increase and a growing number of travellers are expected to take both ocean and river cruises in farflung destinations, particularly in Asia.” Harmer advises agents with clients seeking adventure holidays to talk about

the destination and the experiences. For solo travellers, he recommends agents make them aware of the number of cruise lines waiving single supplements and the dual attraction of having your own space and opportunities for social interaction. For luxury travellers, understanding each client’s ‘passions and requirements’ is vital if they are to help them choose the right cruise, he says. Fred Olsen Cruise Lines confirms there is a new adventurous streak amongst its passengers, with a growing number of them choosing fly-cruises to some of the world’s most exotic, far-flung destinations. In response it is designing excursions to

deliver more authentic experiences, such as a Geisha dance and tea ceremony on Boudicca’s Authentic Japan fly-cruise from Tokyo in January 2021. Fred Olsen Sales and Marketing Director Jackie Martin says: “We are committed to tailoring and improving our shore tours, and also coming up with more connecting excursions that support the concepts that underpin each cruise.” Australia, Japan, the Galapagos Islands and Turkey (the latter now back on the cruise map as fears of terrorism have dwindled) are all in demand as cruisers get more adventurous. But while it is tempting to think that

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what’s new in cruising

“Bookings to polar regions are set to increase and a growing number of travellers are expected to take ocean and river cruises in far-flung destinations, particularly Asia” Andy Harmer, Director UK & Ireland, CLIA

everyone is looking to go somewhere exotic, agents should not ignore traditional favourites. Crystal Cruises’ UK Marketing Director Elaine Gillard says: “Our 2020 Mediterranean cruises are flying off the shelves and our shorter Getaway sailings are selling really well.” On the rivers, activity and wellness are the buzzwords for 2020, while hot destinations include the Nile in Egypt, the Mekong in Vietnam and Cambodia and the Lower Danube through Eastern Europe, and France. Viking Cruises is launching four new river ships on the Seine this year (scaleddown versions of its Longships, the vessels


each hold 168 passengers), while in 2021, AmaWaterways is moving the AmaLyra to the Seine and the AmaKristina and AmaCello to the Rhone as demand for France grows. AmaWaterways Sales, Marketing and Digital Director Jamie Loizou says: “We saw an uplift in sales for our Paris and Normandy itinerary for the 75th anniversary of the D-day landings and the interest is continuing for 2020. “January can be incredibly busy, but agents need to remain focused. Sell on value rather than price and talk about choice and what is included within the fare,” he advises.

the crystal endeavor on a polar expedition

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what’s new in cruising

the new celebrity apex

mantua, italy, features in a new croisieurope itinerary

What’s new New itineraries:

crystal endeavor’s sauna

mekong cruises are on the rise

virgin’s scarlet lady’s athletic club

Carnival Cruise Line makes its Greek Islands debut in 2021 with two 10-day sailings round-trip from Civitavecchia (Rome) that visit Mykonos, Santorini and Katakolon. From £770pp cruise-only departing September 5, 2021. New Year fireworks in Singapore await on a 28-night Fred Olsen Cruise Lines voyage from the Seychelles to Tokyo on Boudicca in December. The cruise calls into the Maldives, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, the Philippines and Japan. It is priced from £5,499pp, including flights. Holland America Line is returning to Istanbul for the first time in four years with a 12-day Mediterranean Empires cruise, round-trip from Venice. The lead-in price is £1,599pp, departing May 15 2020. Hurtigruten makes its Alaska debut with new ship Roald Amundsen, the world’s first hybrid ship. Cruises take passengers through the Inside Passage and close to glaciers. Deals start from £3,751pp, cruiseonly, for 14 nights. It departs June 11 2020. Variety Cruises is launching islandhopping voyages in French Polynesia from Tahiti on the yacht Panorama II in December. Seven or 11-night itineraries from £1,773pp and £2,500pp cruise-only. Crystal Cruises’ 200-passenger polar expedition yacht Crystal Endeavor, launching August, will explore New Zealand on a 12-night journey from Auckland to Christchurch in December 2020. Prices from £10,531pp, cruise-only, including drinks and tips. New Ships: Saga Cruises is following the July 2019 launch of the 999-passenger Spirit of Discovery with sister ship Spirit of Adventure in August. The vessel has single

cabins, Italian and Nepalese Restaurants and no charges for food or tips. DJs, musicians, dancers and comedians are among the cast joining a week-long festival at sea on P&O Cruises’ Iona. The 5,200-passenger ship enters service in May; the festival sets sail on July 4, after the ship’s official naming ceremony. Prices start from £1,299pp, cruise-only. Regent Seven Seas Cruises is pairing the old and new world on a 15-night sailing

“Hurtigruten makes its Alaska debut with new ship Roald Amundsen, the world’s first hybrid ship. Cruises take passengers through the Inside Passage and close to glaciers”

from Barcelona to Montreal in September on Seven Seas Navigator. It will visit Malaga, the Azores and Bermuda, with prices from £4,589pp including flights, meals, drinks, excursions and tips. Virgin Voyages’ first ship, Scarlet Lady, launches in March with rock star suites, a record shop and steakhouse dining. It is sailing mainly four- and five-night cruises from Miami to the Bahamas, Key West and Mexico. Deal start from £935pp, cruise-only, for four nights in June, with wifi and tips. Cruise and Maritime has acquired two new ships, which will launch in 2021 (see page 50).

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Britain’s leading independent cruise line

Welcome to our world of cruises! Summer 2020 Save up to a massive 50% Winter 2020/21 Save up to 30% Plus Buy One Get One Half Price Save up to 50% on selected cruises

• Traditional British cruise experience • Six smaller to mid-sized cruise ships • Exceptional value for money and choice • Great deals for singles and groups • Specialists in no-fly cruising holidays • Sailings from 15 UK and Ireland ports

Norwegian Fjords - Baltic Cities - British Isles - Iceland - Northern Lights - Canary Islands & Madeira European Cities - Scottish Isles - River Seine - Spain & Portugal - Greenland - Spitzbergen & North Cape Round the World Cruise - World Cruise Sectors - Round South America & Amazon Discovery - Voyages to/from Australia & New Zealand - Christmas & New Year and Festive Breaks

Book online at: Call: 0844 414 6161 Agency Sales: 0844 414 6140 Brochures: Subject to availability. Book by 31st March 2020. Terms & conditions apply. Offered for sale in the UK by South Quay Travel & Leisure Ltd trading as Cruise & Maritime Voyages. Calls cost 7p per minute plus your telephone comany’s access charge. ABTA V9945. ATOL 4619. 5696

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what’s new in cruising

what’s new in cruising


AmAwAterwAys on tHe ZAmbeZI

freD. oLsen’s bLACKwAtCH In norwAy

River Cruising: The Mississippi is calling as American Queen Steamboat Company launches American Countess on the ‘Big Muddy’. Prices start from £3,095pp in May for two nights in the Big Easy followed by a seven-night cruise from New Orleans to Memphis, including flights, drinks with meals, hop-on, hop-off tours. Trips to Verona, Cremona and Parma are on offer on CroisiEurope’s new cruises along Italy’s Canal Bianco, from Venice to Mantua and vice-versa, starting from March. The cruises, aboard MS Michelangelo, are from £1,214pp cruiseonly for an April 14 sailing. Uniworld is pairing an Amazon river cruise on the all-suite Aria Amazon with Lima and Machu Picchu on a selection of 11- and 15-night holidays. Prices start from £11,799pp for 11 nights, departing September 23, including flights. A top-deck sun pool and speciality restaurant called Indochine await on APT’s new AmaMekong, which sails one-week cruises on the Mekong River starting October. From £5,095pp for a 15-day Vietnam and Cambodia Highlights cruise-tour departing November 5 2020, including flights. The River Cruise Line is offering sailings on the Rhine and Danube on newlychartered river ship Arena. From £499pp for five days sailing the Dutch waterways in April including coach and ferry travel.

Top cruises for 2020 The Lower Danube with Fred Olsen River Cruises: A 14-day voyage into the Danube Delta is from £2,899pp in May, including flights. Highlights include a bird-watching safari in the Delta, St Sava Orthodox Church in Belgrade and a paprika tasting in Kalocsa. The St Lawrence with CroisiEurope: A 10-night cruise round-trip from

Montréal is from £4,694pp cruise-only in June. Highlights along this vast river include a day in Québec City, a trip back to the ice age in the Garden of Glaciers in Baie Comeau and the French-owned islands of St Pierre and Miquelon. Europe’s northern cities with Celebrity Cruises: A 10-night cruise round-trip from Southampton on new ship Celebrity Apex, the second in its Edge class series, is from £1,639pp in April. Highlights include an overnight in Oslo and options to visit Berlin and Paris from Warnemunde and Le Havre respectively. The Adriatic with Celestyal Cruises: A seven-night voyage round-trip from Venice is from £699pp cruise-only in December. Highlights include port calls in Kotor in Montenegro and Dubrovnik and Split in Croatia. Price includes drinks, three shore excursions and tips. Rhine and Moselle with Avalon Waterways: A 13-day cruise from Amsterdam to Basel (or vice-versa) is from £4,392pp in August including flights. Highlights include Luxembourg City, the ancient Roman town of Trier and France’s Maginot Line fortification. The price includes wine or beer with lunch and dinner, excursions and tips.

2 f vIKIng CrUIses In sAntorInI, greeCe

vArIety CrUIses’ pAnorAmA II, InDonesIA

Where to book it ROYAL CARIBBEAN INTERNATIONAL – 01932 834379 Anthem of the Seas is in Southampton this summer for a series of cruises to Europe, the Mediterranean and the Canary Islands. From £1,021pp on August 30 for a sevennight cruise through France and Spain. TITAN – 0808 274 2725 The 16-day Grand Voyage through Europe is from £2,899pp and encompasses three of Europe’s most famous waterways - the Danube, Main and Rhine. 

pengUIns In AntArCtICA

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Book by 31 Jan 2020


per person

NEW worldwide 20/21 brochure


2021 holidays on sale for the first time

Early Bird Price Promise VIP door-to-door travel service† Guaranteed departures

Book online at *£99pp deposit is available on the majority of Titan holidays – book by 31 January 2020. †Mainland UK only.

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spotlight on


Attitude Hotels In conversation with... Celina Hardy, Content Marketing and PR Executive for Attitude Hotels


Tell us what’s new for this year with Attitude Hotels. A: We opened our latest hotel, Lagoon Attitude, in December, marking Attitude Hotels’ eighth property in Mauritius. With just under 200 rooms, the flagship resort is now the most eco-committed hotel in Mauritius and has been certified Gold by Travelife (a certification initiative for tourism companies aiming to be sustainable) for its continuous efforts towards social and environmental sustainability.


What sustainability efforts are in place? A: We have implemented several key initiatives to maintain our green credentials. These include the removal of all single-use plastics, which has successfully eliminated over 690,000 plastic items in total. Guests previously had amenities such as coffee and milk in individual plastic containers in their rooms, but now they are able to get these items free from the glass jars in the hotel shop. It’s a small change that makes a big impact. Another key initiative is our free mineral sunscreen. Statistics reveal that 25,000

tonnes of sunscreen ends up in the ocean every year. By providing guests with eco-friendly mineral sunscreen from several dispensers around the pool and beach we hope to encourage guests not to bring cream that contains harmful chemicals and damages marine life. Mineral sunscreen is more expensive than regular cream, so we hope this proves our commitment! One of our main objectives is to educate guests on how to be more sustainable. We host workshops, including one that teaches them how to create mineral sunscreen. We have a Marine Discovery Centre with two on-site scientists who can teach guests about the lagoon, the mangroves and the marine life. We also pride ourselves on being paperless, using solar-powered water heaters, and providing guests with 100% natural shampoos and shower gels in their rooms. We have also changed our cleaning products to be 90% eco-friendly.

netted bags when they go kayaking or snorkelling and participating in beach and ocean clean ups. We are finding that they really want to get involved.


Is this a countrywide movement? A: I would say there is a change in attitude especially from the younger generation of Mauritians. We are seeing more small businesses opening centred around sustainable fashion and shops selling sustainable products such as bamboo toothbrushes and paper straws.


What can agents expect for 2020? A: Bookings are extremely positive for 2020. This year is a big year for the brand as all nine Attitude Hotels plan to adopt the same eco standards as Lagoon Attitude by November 1, 2020. We also plan to expand abroad, with more details to be announced at a later date. The tourism industry is growing in Mauritius and we must all take responsibility in preserving the natural appeal of the island. This is not a marketing concept for just one hotel in Mauritius; it’s a movement to make a positive change to our environment, so we encourage other hotels to adopt these same standards. 


How have guests responded? A: Although we have not been open long, the response has been very positive. Guests have been taking the hotels’ blue

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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

Air Transat rewards agents To incentivise bookings, Air Transat is rewarding agents with shopping vouchers as part of its Star Rewards Programme. Agents who book Eco Standard tickets will receive a ÂŁ15 shopping voucher and those who book Eco Flex or Club Class fares will receive a ÂŁ25 shopping voucher. The incentive is valid for each booking made with the airline before February 28.

he Agents discover tSouth p charm of the De2e fam on a Travel

Win a holiday to Sonoma Agents could win one of three holidays to California's Sonoma Wine Country when they become a Sonoma Country Travel Pro. Agents must complete the training, join the Sonoma Coutry Travel Pros Facebook group and get three other agents to complete the training by January 31.

Contents 18




Register now

Come along and meet Sydney and New South Wales suppliers at fun and informative events in London on March 24, Manchester on March 25 and Glasgow on March 26. Expect great food and drink, and lots of prizes. Sign up at

Peak offers

Canadian Affair is offering 5% off many of its holidays in a January Sale and will reward the 30 top-performing agents during this period with a place on one of three fam trips taking place in 2020.




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Our columnists

With peaks upon us, it's time to sell, sell, sell and bag those bookings. Our columnists share their tips on how to prepare for the busy season and keep their cool.

It's January so people are hitting the high street and hunting for holidays

South Africa's blue skies are on the horizon for Liz

Agents have to multi-task and remain cool under pressure I LOVE peaks! What I really love is how varied your day can be – one minute you’re planning a complex, six-week, round-the-world itinerary and the next you’re researching a nice beach hotel for a summer holiday. One of my colleagues described our job as like spinning plates, but during peaks it’s like being like a swan – serene on the top half and kicking away like mad below, trying to stay afloat! I often wonder if clients can see through my calm exterior and tell that my heart is pounding from the excitement of making a booking. Agents certainly have to multi-task and remain cool under pressure. Read your client files in the lead up, so you know who is leaving when and you’ve made sure they have all the documents they need and a 24-hour contact number for you. You can’t prepare for volcano eruptions or medical emergencies, but if you’ve looked at the potential problems from all angles you’re ready for action if you need it. Make sure you’re stocked up on the office basics like envelopes and printer ink, and always have enough enquiry sheets ready for when those holiday requests come flooding in (as well as receipts for all the transactions you’ll be processing)! Other than that, keep your fluids up, keep well fed and get as much sleep as you can. Our industry has no pattern so it's best to welcome the busy times with open arms, a big smile and the expectation to be ready for anything (an endless pot of tea and chocolate always helps too). Happy peaks everyone!

WHEN I started in travel at a mature age some 15 years ago I encountered the usual mysterious terminology which seems to be common practice in most industries. Two phrases that baffled me in the first year were 'TOY campaigns' (meaning turn of the year) and 'getting ready for peaks'. I soon gathered that the former was referring to the long-standing tradition of holiday adverts appearing on our TVs from Boxing Day and the latter described agents preparing for the busy perod when people rush to book the best discounts in the New Year – not, as the phrases suggest, a kids' game promotion and a training session for a mountain hike! The two weeks up to Christmas tend to be

The 'busy season' seems to have spread across the year now very slow for new enquiries, presenting a good opportunity to catch up on other jobs and prepare for the year ahead. I have my figures for the past 12 years' trading and the 'busy season' seems to have spread right across the year now, with far less dependence on January/February sales. However, they are still significant so escaping the grey skies is not an option! Good luck to all those who do see a massive increase in enquiries. The best preparation is having a well-trained team who are well rested, motivated and able to turn enquiries into bookings, something that is achieved thanks to hard work throughout the preceding months.



Southern Cross Travel, East Sussex

Go Cruise, Cruise specialist, Worcestershire

Anneka Desrosiers

James Hill

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Our columnists

We make sure our windows are updated with the latest sales messages LIKE most agencies, January is one of the busiest months of the year for us, so it's important we plan ahead to make sure we are organised. I work on our newsletter, holiday show and marketing before Christmas so that it's planned well in advance. Brochures are ordered, office supplies topped up and the office is tidied and organised. We have some fantastic window and marketing material from Travel Network Group, which we usually deploy between Christmas and New Year. Our windows are ready with the latest sales messages to catch customers' attention. We all manage to take some time off around Christmas to ensure we are fully rested and ready for long busy days. Staff tend not to take holiday at the beginning of the year so our team is complete at this busy time. A full team enables us to take time to work in the back office to catch up on paperwork and admin as well as selling. We also have a rota for office jobs to share out the daily tasks and keep the office running smoothly. I've just come back from Belfast, a lovely city which I will be recommending to our customers. It's especially easy now we have a Loganair flight from Carlisle. We are all thinking about booking our own holidays too, so the diary is starting to fill up with staff requests. I've just booked South Africa for March. After all, it's essential to have something to look forward to in the long, dark and hectic months ahead!

I NEVER worry too much when the quiet months approach. I think it's a great opportunity to brush up on any training and get all the admin jobs done so you don’t have to worry when the rush begins. Because, before you know it, January is upon us, phones are ringing off the hook and brochures are flying off the shelves. I’m a big believer in thinking positively and that the happiness of your life depends on the quality of your thoughts – If you are doing your best you won’t have time to think of failure. I attended a Leeds Bradford Airport (LBA) tour and presentation last month, where we were able to go air-side to the Christmas shopping area. We visited the three lounges and enjoyed a Harrogate Gin tasting and some lovely food. Hywel Rees, CEO at LBA, spoke about all the exciting plans in store for 2020 and Tony Mann and the team at Idle Travel were presented with an award from Jet2 for selling the most holidays from LBA Airport, which was well deserved. I was also invited to a bowling night in Leeds by Ethiopian Airlines. It really is an interesting airline. I hadn’t realised that it's been operating for 70 years now and flies to 62 cities in Africa and 125 international destinations across five continents. It’s won many awards, including Best Airline in Africa in 2017, 2018 and 2019, and has been operating out of Manchester for a year now. We had a tour of their planes and they really do look fantastic, I can’t wait to fly with them.

I ensure I'm up to date on training and admin



The Travel Team, Brampton, Cumbria

Sandy's Travel Escapes, Leeds

Sandy Murray

Liz Beaty

Liz flew with Loganair to Belfast for a winter break

Sandy with the Leeds Bradford Airport team

Next month our columnists discuss: Weddings and honeymoons. Can you sell romance and if so, how?

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agents talk


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 asked: "How strict are UAE hotels during Ramadan? Are some places more relaxed with guests than others? " Jenny Jackson Travel Guru

“It didn’t seem a problem at the Atlantis in Dubai, but I did notice some hotels in Abu Dhabi used frosted drink glasses around the pool. I believe the emirate of Sharjah is very strict."

"Religious holidays are usually ‘Dry Days’ where alcohol and entertainment are prohibited. The exact dates are subject to the sighting of the moon and therefore subject to change."

Agents overheard "Just had a message to my answerphone saying: 'The flight time does not work for me. Could you ask the airline to go a few hours later?'"

Founder of Luxury

“It's getting more relaxed. Unless you are in the Deira area of Dubai or any very traditional areas in the UAE, it's business as usual. The malls were even allowed to open eateries this year."


"There's no eating or drinking in public, including chewing gum and even smoking. Most restaurants remain open but have blackout blinds covering the windows." “Hotels tend to be relaxed but outside of the hotel you have to be aware and wear appropriate dress. I have stayed many times during Ramadan and it hasn't

impacted my stay at all. Plus, customers can take advantage of excellent rates."

“Client asked: 'Will the Bali volcano erupt while we're there?'”

"There's no restrictions at the Jumeirah hotels but I believe Atlantis The Palm sections off part of the pool for guests. Shops, bars and souks are closed until 7pm and entertainment tends to be more low key."

"Client asked: 'Can you tell me what state I will be in when I get off the ship?' It took me quite a while to work out that she meant which American State"

WHERE’S THE MERLION? TELL US AND WIN A TRIP TO SINGAPORE with and Go online and name the three Singapore locations our Merlion has visited for your chance to win a place on our Singapore fam trip in March 2020. The runner-up will win a luxury afternoon tea for two at the Shard in London.

To enter, visit Premier Holidays, your tailor made Faraway experts 08444 937 444 TS - Social 1 Media.indd 20 Untitled-5

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w i t h Ha y s Tra v e l

Former Thomas Cook has its Hay day Jessica Pook visits Hays Travel in Croydon – formerly Thomas Cook – and speaks to Branch Manager Marisa Persaud about her new role and how it felt to re-open the store under new management. "When I got the call from Hays offering me the job, I thought it was a joke. Earlier that week I had found out from watching the news on TV that Thomas Cook had ceased trading and that I had subsequently lost my job. It was like being in a bad dream. "The next day we arrived at work as normal but were refused entry by the liquidators. After pleading with them they eventually gave us 10 minutes to collect our things before locking us out. It was very emotional, especially as some of the team had been with the company for many years – then the realisation hit that we weren't getting paid. "The support we received from the travel industry was crucial in securing new jobs quickly. When people heard you were ex-Thomas Cook they were very understanding and within the week I was able to get a job at the same store under Hays Travel: Croydon was one of the 550 former Thomas Cook stores across the UK which Hays purchased. When I returned I couldn't believe I was in the same shop. It was a bittersweet moment."

number, we have a lot more freedom and we're listened to. It's also a company that is very social media savvy and realises the power of engaging with customers through Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. It's the most important tool for us, especially when it comes to advertising promotions."

Peak promises

Feeling the love

"We've had all our regular customers in to welcome us back with flowers, balloons, biscuits and chocolates. It's heartwarming to have that continued support and proves how important it is to create relationships with your customers. Throughout all the uncertainty and ongoing changes within the industry, it's reassuring to know that people will continue to book with their high street agency. "We’ve also had a lot of new customers come in to check us out. Hays Travel has predominantly been a northern company up until now, so it's been great to spread the word about what we have to offer. "From an employee point of view, I feel that Hays really values its staff. We’re not just a

"All of our peaks promotions are ready to go. With January being our busiest time, we've been using the quiet December period to get clued up on the new system, familiarise ourselves with the new brochures and get trained to use the foreign exchange bureau. "At this time of year Lapland is always a popular sell and people are looking for winter sun. We've also got special deals to Dubai and America and expect these to betop destinations in 2020."

The support from customers has been heartwarming

We want you to join us... Tourism Fiji is seeking an experienced travel marketing professional to manage its trade partnerships with the goal of increasing arrivals from Europe to Fiji. Based in Tourism Fiji’s London office, the successful candidate will have a relevant degree or equivalent experience, an excellent understanding of travel distribution models, plus experience in trade campaigns and fam trips. To apply send your CV to:

Tourism Fiji Trade Partnerships Manager - UK/Europe Apply before 17th January, 2020

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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

Jet2holidays has independent focus

Jet2holidays (and Peter Andre, second left) rewarded its 300 top-performing agents by hosting them at AR Diamante Beach & Spa in Costa Blanca for its annual VIP Conference. The tour operator launched its new VIBE product, targeted at millennials, and highlighted changes to its trade website which allows independent agents to search for package holidays to multiple destinations from different UK airports. The conference included a prestigious themed gala dinner, at which agents scooped awards for their achievements in helping drive awareness and sales of Jet2holidays over the past year.

Agents Travel 2 Japan

Afternoon tea in the country

Travel 2 treated 13 top-selling agents to a nine-day trip of Japan, travelling from Tokyo to Kyoto. During the fam they experienced the speedy Bullet train; explored Nara Park, the home of the Big Buddha; and visited the Golden Pavilion, Fushumi Inhari Shrine and the Bamboo Forest at Arashiyama. Agents also experienced fabulous cuisine, another of Japan's big draw cards.

The Shearings trade team put on a sophisticated spread as they updated a group of Bath agents on what’s new for 2020. They enjoyed afternoon tea at the Country Living Lansdown Hotel followed by a tour.

Carnival Cruise Line calls in

Representatives from Carnival Cruise Line visited 50 UK agencies in three days as part of its latest travel agent blitz. The team were keen to educate new and existing partners on the cruise line’s online training as well as give an update on its new deployment for the Mediterranean. Agents were also encouraged to register for Carnival’s rewards and recognition programme, Loyalty Rocks Club.

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

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Scenic Railway


Manager at Worldwide Travel Solutions

Success for SAT School

South African Tourism travelled to four key cities in the UK and Ireland to engage with travel agents during its fifth annual SAT School roadshow. Starting in Dublin and making its way to Liverpool, London and Southampton, the 'onestop shop' equipped agents with all the information they need to sell South Africa confidently – from the latest news and product offerings to off-the-beaten track experiences and how to answer customer questions.

Agents find heritage and adventure on Malaysia mega fam

Malaysia Airlines and Tourism Malaysia hosted 30 agents on two week-long trips to showcase Malaysia’s heritage and adventure offering. The trip consisted of a rainforest canopy walk, a visit to a tropical fruit farm and a stay at the Four Seasons Langkawi. Meanwhile, the adventure group embarked on a sunset river cruise in Kota Kinabalu, enjoyed a visit to the Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre and a tour of Mount Kinabalu Park. The fam trips are the first in a series by Tourism Malaysia, aimed to boost visitor figures in 2020 – Visit Malaysia Year.;

A JOURNEY THROUGH TIME School children in brightly-coloured uniforms wave frantically as we pass, cheering when we wave back with equal enthusiasm. In a flash their smiles are replaced with pastel houses, views of the rainforest and volcano and scattered sugar mills, as we continue our 30-mile circle of the island onboard the St. Kitts Scenic Railway. Up on the top deck we've got the best views in the house. Our open-air seats mean we get the benefit of a breeze as the conductor talks us through the various sights along the way. We learn how the railway was completed in 1926 to deliver sugar cane to the mill in Basseterre (the capital) until production stopped as recently as 2005. Today it's said to be the last railway in the West Indies. Throughout the journey I'm offered refreshments and I'm pleasantly surprised when I'm handed a rum cocktail instead of a tea or coffee. Not the service I'm used to back at home!

A PERFORMANCE TO REMEMBER There's something very soothing about the rhythm of a train chugging along but I'm thrilled when we're joined by the Scenic Railway Choir, who entertain us with lively renditions of Caribbean songs and stories of the railway. The entire journey lasts three hours and is one of the best ways to see the island, especially if you're short on time. Passengers get a real insight into island life, from learning about the city of Basseterre and history of Brimstone Hill Fortress to, best of all, seeing the small villages where locals smile at you from their front porches.

you ing St. Kitts when Earn £50 for book log details at: stkitt

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Music, space missions and hidden falls BY BEVERLY CLARKE, SPEAR TRAVELS ASSOCIATE Nashville, known as 'Music City', marked the first stop on our Deep South fam trip with Travel 2 – and it certainly managed to hit all the right notes with the group. We arrived on a lively Friday night with the tell-tale twang of country music echoing out from every venue. I wouldn't say I'm a country fan but I was surprised at how many songs I was able to sing along to. A tour of RCA Studio B, where artists such as Elvis Presley, The Everly Brothers and Dolly Parton have all recorded, gave me a further insight into the influence that Nashville has had on the music industry. Our next stop was Louisville in Kentucky, my favourite of the trip. Unbeknownst to me it was the home of Mohammed Ali, who was rumoured to have thrown his gold medal off the Second Street Bridge into the Ohio River after being refused entry into a restaurant. My education continued as we were told tales of Captain Sanders, founder of KFC, (yes, he was a real person) and the Belle of Louisville – the oldest operating Mississippistyle steamboat. And we couldn't leave without indulging in a Hot Brown sandwich at the Brown Hotel, a hangover cure since 1926. We then travelled to Huntsville in Alabama for some space-themed fun. Not only can you walk around the U.S. Space and Rocket Centre, with life-size replicas of the Space Shuttle, but the centre also has a Space Camp, complete with astronaut training for both adults and kids. Back in Tennessee, Chattanooga proved a real hidden gem. I had only

SOUTH USA heard the name from the song Chattanooga Choo Choo, which featured in the 1941 movie Sun Valley Serenade, so it was a privilege to visit the former railroad station and see the train in all its glory. From here we visited Lookout Mountain via a 100-year-old mile-long railway, before taking a guided walk through the underground cavern at Ruby Falls, which ends with a 145-foot illuminated underground waterfall. For those interested in history, and especially the American Civil War, it’s worth recommending the Battles for Chattanooga Museum, a one-of-a-kind storytelling experience. There's even more reason to visit this region thanks to British Airways' direct flight to Nashville, I'd sell it as a long weekend, or instead of New York or Las Vegas.

Main image: streets of Nashville; From top, clockwise: Agents at Chattanooga Station; tracing Elvis' footsteps at RCA Studio B; Kentucky's famous bourbon; where KFC all began; US Space and Rocket Centre

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TRAVEL PEOPLE on the move



TO: Business Development Manager, Explore

TO: Business Development Manager, Aurora Expeditions

Nick joins Explore from Wendy Wu Tours and will look after agents based in the east of the UK. Part of Nick's role will be to help agents build their small group adventure business through his dedicated support.

As a cruise specialist, James will educate agents and offer sales support on how to select the right ship and voyage for their clients. His appointment reflects the rising trend for expedition cruises to the polar regions.

MEET... Ouita Michel Chef and Restaurateur

Culinary... Kentucky Describe Kentucky’s food scene?



TO: Account Manager for South Wales and the South West of England, Newmarket Holidays

TO: Agent Support Manager, The Personal Travel Agents at Co-operative Travel

Sam will be growing partnerships and sharing Newmarket's new 2020 portfolio, which she says is "packed with new tours and customer favourites". The team is hoping for another record breaking year of trade sales.

Supporting, coaching, training and developing the businesses of over 170 homeworking agents will be key elements of Donna's new role. Her extensive previous experience will help agents to build a business that best suits them.

While KFC may have put Kentucky on the map, we’re not defined by our fried chicken. Menus are influenced by locally-grown and seasonal ingredients – think of our style as more farm-to-table then fast food. From our signature salt-cured ham to our unique mutton-based BBQs and our boozy bourbon-inspired dishes, we’ve worked hard to make sure our culinary scene is front and centre – and full of flavour.

Where’s good to eat? In central Kentucky we have an eclectic group of independent restaurant tours that showcases the local farming community. There’s always a new trendy restaurant opening in Louisville and Lexington, each more creative than the last. Owensboro stays true to its roots with its unique mutton BBQs and The Bourbon Trail highlights 37 distilleries featuring bourboninspired menus for an extra boozy brunch.

What advice do you have for foodies?



TO: Strategic Account Manager for Hays Travel and Midcounties Co-operative at Club Med

TO: Brand and Marketing Manager, Scenic Luxury Cruises and Tours

In this new role, Jo will be in charge of developing Club Med's retail strategy and fostering and developing the relationships it has with Hays Travel's and Midcounties Co-operative's independent agents.

This new role will see Louise develop and implement strategies to achieve set passenger targets across the trade. She will also oversee all online and offline marketing for the brand in the UK.

Whether you’re into fine dining or browsing the local farmers market, fresh food is abundant in Kentucky. Try to time a visit with one of our food festivals such as the annual Mountain Mushroom Festival in Irvine in April, the Bourbon Festival in Bardstown in September or the World Chicken Festival – which celebrates the life of Colonel Sanders – in London in the fall.

WIN A BOTTLE OF BOURBON! Answer one question to be in with a chance of winning.

FRIDAYPeople on the move new.indd 25

12/27/19 11:41 AM


7 nts from £1729 inc flights.



7 nts from £1299 inc flights.

Book by 31 January 2020 for travel throughout 2020

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01425 480 400

12/30/19 10:47 AM 27/12/2019 15:29

how to sell


Bermuda With its pastel-coloured houses and pink beaches, Bermuda screams 'beach holiday', but agents who get to know its other USPs can reach a wider audience, says Laura Gelder Why sell it Say Bermuda and many people think ‘shorts’ or ‘triangle’ but the islands have many other unique selling points and can be a great switch-sell for clients interested in the Caribbean or Indian Ocean. Many think Bermuda is an island in the Caribbean, but this British Overseas Territory actually sits hundreds of miles north and its nearest landmass is Cape Hatteras in North Carolina – 665 miles away. Bermuda’s position gives it the advantage of a shorter flight time than the Caribbean – around seven hours. Prestige is a specialist when it comes to Bermuda and has sold the destination for 30 years. Marketing Manager Nicky Shafe says it’s ‘a special place’. “It’s British with a twist,” she says. “Imagine Britain in the 50s, but with more soul. Everyone is so friendly and I always recommend visitors take a local bus because it’s the best way to soak up that atmosphere and meet the locals.”

Who to sell to Bermuda’s main target market is couples over 40 and agents can specifically target those keen on watersports like diving, kayaking or paddle boarding and golf. The Bermuda Tourism Authority likes to point out that there are more courses per square mile than anywhere else, with courses like Mid Ocean Club, Tucker’s Point Gold Club and Turtle Hill Gold Club ranking as fine as any courses in the world.


There's plenty inland for active couples horse riding, hiking, exploring the dramatic stalactites and stalagmites of the Crystal Caves or bird watching. Bermuda will appeal to those looking for a laid-back barefoot escape but offers the chance to enjoy an upscale holiday thanks to a wealth of five-star hotels and attractions like celebrity Swedish/Ethiopian Chef Marcus Samuelsson's fine dining restaurant at the Hamilton Princess and Beach Club resort. Shafe says that the islands also have lots to offer families with bigger budgets. “Bermuda is a relatively short flight way, incredibly safe and has some good hotels for families, such as the Fairmont Southampton and our lead-in property Grotto Bay, which offer numerous activities for kids."

What to sell


Hamilton is the capital and a bustling harbour town with plenty of bars, restaurants, shops and attractions such as the Botantical Gardens, the Bermuda Aquarium, Museum and Zoo and the

Bermuda National Gallery. Other popular places to visit include Dockyard, a former British Navy stronghold that is rich in maritime history and arts and crafts; Horseshoe Bay, with its crescent of pink sand; and former capital and historic town St. George’s, a UNESCO World Heritage Site with lots of churches and local boutiques to browse. Active types can traverse the Railway Trail, a railroad-turned-pedestrian-path that sweeps the length of the 21-mile island chain. There are many tour options in Bermuda. A Hidden Gems tour begins with a jungle hike, followed by dry cave explorations, cave swimming and cliff-jumping into the turquoise water, walking up to St. David’s Battery (one of Bermuda’s highest points), for sweeping island views and relaxing on the pink sand of a secluded Cooper’s Island beach. Less conventional, a Haunted History Tour sees visitors walk the Town of St. George after dark. As one of the first settlements in the New World, its residents were involved in the American Revolution and the American Civil War and

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how to sell

in Boston, New York or Toronto on the way out making for a nice contrast.

When to sell it



storytellers in period costumes guide groups of up to 25 people through the winding alleys and narrow lanes of the town, telling true tales and ghost stories from more than 400 years ago.

How to sell it



Although often referred to as one island, Bermuda actually consists of 181 islands with a total area of 20.6 square miles. Eight of the larger, populated islands are connected by bridges. Bermuda has introduced electric cars, making it much easier to travel around and explore the islands in depth, and Shafe says that island hopping or twincentres aren’t really needed because it’s such a small area. “It’s all about picking the right hotel and in Bermuda they are all genuinely very different,” she says. “It depends if your client wants to be near the action or is happy relaxing at a resort hotel by the beach and it also depends if they want a more formal atmosphere, dressing for dinner, for example, or a casual place to stay. I recommend speaking to our reservations team who have lots of experience.” British Airways flies direct to Bermuda, but a popular way to package the destination is as a twin-centre, with a stop

Bermuda has a year-round subtropical climate and is not habitually affected by the hurricane season, which runs May through to November. The most popular months to visit are April to June. December and January are the coldest months but still warm, with only light jackets required for evenings. Bermuda has a year-round programme of events but perhaps the most notable is Bermuda Heroes Weekend, a Carnivalstyle party that features local cuisine, Soca music, bands and races in early June. One to include on a summer itinerary is Harbour Nights. This takes place every Wednesday from 19.00-22.00 between May and September along Hamilton's Front Street, which is closed off to traffic so that everyone can experience al fresco dining, mingle with local artisans and enjoy music and dancing in the streets. For cricket lovers, Cup Match is the biggest event of the year. This match between island rivals St. George’s and Somerset is the centrepiece for a weekend-long event, with concerts, beach parties and plenty of food and drink. The next Cup Match is July 30-31.

What's new? Shafe points out that part of the Bermuda's appeal is that it is doesn’t really ever change! “Strict building regulations prevent overdevelopment,” she says. “But Bermuda has seen some subtle but positive changes, especially since it hosted The America’s Cup in 2017. Hotels have been upgraded and trendy restaurants and beach clubs with DJs have opened. It has become less traditional and more chic and informal, and is consequently attracting a younger clientele.” Bermuda’s new airport opens in 2020, aiming to improve the travel experience. 

BOOK IT WITH... PRESTIGE HOLIDAYS Seven-nights room-only at the Fairmont Hamilton Princess and Beach Club, flying with British Airways from Gatwick on March 31 2020, with private transfers, is £1982pp, saving £1378 per couple if booked by January 31. – 01425 480 400

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dominican republic


Take a

punta Forming half of the Caribbean’s second-largest island, Hispaniola, the Dominican Republic can point to its highest mountain, biggest lake, oldest city and much more says Judith Baker

Bávaro, punta cana


igital nomads or tech addicts need not apply here. “There is no wifi and your mobile phone may not work too well,” I am told as I arrive at a tiny eco-lodge on the coast in Bahía de las Aguilas, Bay of the Eagles, right down on The Dominican Republic’s border with Haiti. So, armed with just my camera, I head for a secluded beach in the bay, only accessible by boat. Here I find white sand and crystal clear waters, but not another soul in sight. The Dominican Republic may be one of the most visited countries in the Caribbean, but here on this beach there are no cocktail bars, no thumping music, no pedalos and no sign of tourists. With just a couple of seabirds for company I have this little piece of paradise all to myself. In the far distance I can just make out a small fishing boat which I learn

is bringing in fresh fish to the lodge. Later I eat the simply-cooked dinner over an open fire beneath the stars with my bare toes in the sand. The Bahia de las Aguilas may not be the easiest place to get to – I found it after a long and bumpy drive through dry, desertlike landscape – but once here the visitor is rewarded with one of this region’s most spectacular beauty spots. It is home to coral reefs and diverse marine wildlife and UNESCO added it to the World Network of Biosphere Reserves in 2002.

kayaking, exploring caves, trekking and bird watching. Director of National Tourism at the Dominican Republic Ministry of Tourism, Milka Hernandez, says that more

Green machine Eco-tourism is the fastest-growing tourism sector in the Dominican Republic, the most visited island in the Caribbean, which welcomed 6.6 million visitors in 2018. Nature holidays are up 20%, with visitors enjoying activities such as

eco lodge, El Valle to rincon trail

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dominican republic

pineapple seller, la romana

“The Dominican Republic is also emerging as a multicentre destination, and there are moves afoot to promote the less developed south coast as the Costa del Sur”

eden roc, cap cana

A Broad-billed tody

authentic experiences, away from the main beach resorts, are being promoted. These include interaction with local people and food tours taking visitors into the interior of the country. The Dominican Republic is also emerging as a multi-centre destination, and there are moves afoot to promote the less developed south coast. This, says Javier Ortiz of tourism digital agency Sextaplanta, is being branded as the Costa del Sur, with the aim to increase awareness of the area, which includes the Enriquillo Region and Jaragua National Park. Accessible tourism was a key theme at a recent Destino Capital tourism conference, in the capital Santo Domingo, where the country’s Vice Minister for Tourism, Magaly Toribio, revealed that there are plans underway to make the colonial centre of Santo Domingo more accessible to visitors with disabilities. The newly-opened Homewood Suites by Hilton in Santo Domingo has 10 completely

accessible rooms and all of its common areas, from the reception to the swimming pool, are also accessible to guests with disabilities. Safety is naturally a concern for tourists given the publicity surrounding the unexplained sudden deaths of several American tourists in hotels in the Dominican Republic last year. Security has been increased at airports and the country’s 60 tourism marinas and there are now help centres in all areas, says General Juan Carlos Torres Robiou of CESTUR (the Specialised Body for Tourism Security). Speaking at the Discover Puerto Plata Marketplace fair late last year, Senior Vice President of Senator Beach Hotels, Daniel L. Rossell Massachs, said: “The Dominican Republic is a safe destination which has a unique climate, a privileged location and excellent tourism professionals. Puerto Plata has undoubtedly great challenges to face, but I am convinced that with the joint efforts of institutions and businessmen we will be able to overcome them.”

Top experiences Wine O’Clock: Ocoa Bay, the Caribbean’s only working vineyard, is in Azua, about 90 minutes from Santo Domingo, where the dry climate between the Central Mountains and the sea is perfect for growing grapes. Husband and wife team Maria Claudia and Guillermo Mallarino run wine-tasting experiences and tours and have plans to open a boutique vineyard hotel. Old town charm: Santo Domingo is one of the Caribbean’s most interesting cities. Its colonial old town, with its limestone 16th century buildings,

Rincon beach, Samana peninsula

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dominican republic

humpback whales frequent samana

boasts the first cathedral, the first monastery and the first hospital built in the Americas. Santo Domingo also has the first metro system in the Caribbean but its best to explore the cobbled streets on foot, stopping to take in the Columbus Palace, the Ozama Fortress and its pretty squares. The city has been awarded the title Gastronomic Capital of the Caribbean and has over 400 restaurants. Whale of a time: The Sanctuary of the Humpback Whales in Samaná is one of the most renowned whale-watching experiences in the world. Each winter about 2,000 humpback whales make the journey from the North Atlantic to Samana Bay to give birth to their calves. From mid-December to March you’ll see newborn calves swimming under the watchful eyes of their mothers and male humpbacks battling for the attention of prospective mates. Time for tee: There are some 86 sea-facing holes and 39 ocean-side holes, offering great golf with fantastic

Catalina beach


a cenote near santo domingo

views. Casa de Campo and Punta Cana boast the most outstanding architectdesigned courses, including Pete Dye’s famous ‘Teeth of the Dog’ course. Surf’s up: The north coast of The Dominican Republic, near Puerto Plata, has been given the nickname The Amber Coast because of frequent finds of amber. The temperature of the sea and the winds here make perfect conditions for watersports and surfing. Nature and sports enthusiasts will love the trekking, snorkelling, diving and surfing.

What’s new

Cruise: A new port is under construction at Puerto Plata, which should draw a significant number of extra cruise passengers to the town in addition to those already arriving at Amber Cove. Accommodation: Puntarena is one of number of new projects in the area west of Santo Domingo. It’s the brainchild of Frank Ranieri, a Punta Cana hotel tycoon, and will comprise four hotels, beachfront

golf in punta cana

“Eco-tourism is the fastest growing tourism sector in the Dominican Republic. Nature holidays are up 20%, with visitors enjoying activities such as kayaking, exploring caves, trekking and bird watching”

Playa el Valle

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dominican republic

Bayahibe beach

condos, a golf course and nature trails. A beach clubhouse and restaurant are already open. Local hotel company Amhsa Marina Hotel and Resorts has made a $4 million-dollar investment to open an exclusive ‘Select’ section in the Casa Marina Beach and Reef in Sosúa, Puerto Plata. It opened in November and comprises 84 rooms, with junior suite and premium categories that have capacity for four people, while junior rooms for two will have exclusive access to a private pool from a private terrace. Perla Del Sur is a new luxury project in the undeveloped area of Barahona, which will comprise a boutique hotel (due to open this year), villas and apartments. Financed by local families, the development is a sustainable project aimed at re-energising the area and benefitting the community. Twin properties Hyatt Zilara Cap Cana (adults-only) and Hyatt Ziva Cap Cana (for families) opened late last year. Set on 40 acres of Juanillo Beach looking over the Caribbean Sea, its U-shaped design means 90% of the rooms have an ocean view. The 750-room resort complex features a beachfront infinity pool, a lazy river, separate water slides for adults and kids, multiple dining options and a 40,000-square foot fitness centre. The new Club Med Michès Playa Esmeralda is the all-inclusive group’s first premium resort in the Americas and its largest investment in the Caribbean in decades. Set amongst 93 acres near the town of Michès, it has four boutique ‘villages’ themed around romance, relaxation, nature, and adventure. The resort offers excursions to the Laguna

hyatt zilhara cap cana

Limon nature reserve, the Samana Bay whale-watching hot spot and Montana Redonda, a mountaintop destination known for its unobstructed views. Located in Bayahibe, in the island’s southeast, La Romana Hilton opened its doors to an adults-only section in August 2019 and added a family-friendly section in December. The resort features five restaurants, five bars and lounges, a 24-hour coffee house, a fitness centre, four swimming pools, a casino and a 21,000-square-foot spa.

Where to book it Carrier – 0161 826 4651 Seven nights’ B&B accommodation at Eden Roc Cap Cana is £3,085pp, including flights and private transfers. The Relais & Châteaux property sits in an exclusive gated community with extensive amenities that include a marina, an equestrian centre, restaurants, the new Solaya Spa and Wellness Centre and a Jack Nicklaus Signature Golf Course. 

Alcázar Colón, santo domingo

“Each winter about 2,000 humpback whales make the journey from the North Atlantic to Samana Bay to give birth to their calves”

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travel talk


“Don’t rush a trip to Canada, plan in time along the route to really experience the landscapes” Barry Crawford, Train Manager on Rocky Mountaineer, tells Julie Baxter his personal Alberta-themed highlights


o matter how many times I ride the Rocky Mountaineer, I never tire of it. Every route is slightly different and you always see something new and often something unexpected. People come for The Rockies, and they never disappoint, but they discover there is so much more to see too – the Spiral Tunnels and the Continental Divide, dramatic bridges, lakes and waterfalls – there are some really unique landscapes along the way. My top recommendation to all visitors is to spend some time in the locations either end of the trip. Don’t rush off because, whether the journey ends in Banff or Jasper, there is so much to see. Visitors that explore beyond the towns get a better appreciation of Alberta. So much of the Rocky Mountaineer’s journey is iconic. The mountain peaks, yes, but also the wildlife viewing which is a big part of the experience. The things we see - be it bears, elk or the birdlife - are different every trip and spotting something along the route is as exciting for the crew as for the passengers. I started out with food and beverage experience and

it is wonderful to see how our chefs use fresh local ingredients on the train’s menu – the AAA Albertan beef, sockeye salmon and seasonal produce are all very popular and help us tell the story of the route.

Big impressions

YEARS ONBOARD: Barry has worked for RM for 20 years BEST MOMENT: Wildlife viewing along the journey FAVOURITE FOODS: AAA Albertan beef, sockeye salmon and seasonal local produce TOP TIP: Don’t rush it, build in time to explore

The Rockies always make a big impression but so too does the rugged nature of the route, and the sheer drama of the journey. Gradually passengers gain a real understanding of what a truly amazing engineering feat this railway route is. I’m not a big hiker but I recently walked in the national parks above the tree line at 7,000 feet and it’s really worthwhile. If visitors get the opportunity to spend time outside of the towns of Jasper and Banff I recommend an easy hike or any outdoor adventure. There is plenty for the serious hikers too but the many, very easy trails just give visitors the chance to truly experience the scenery they see. For those who don’t have much time, heli-hiking is a great option. The helicopter drops you into amazing, breathtaking spaces, for views that just make you hold your head in your hands, incredulous! Remember too that the journey changes as the seasons change. Spring time is great for the wildlife and for longer views as there is less foliage developed along the route, while summer is beautiful because everything is in bloom, lush and green. The fall is special because of the golden light and the changing colours of the leaves. When that light hits the rivers they just sparkle.

Get onboard Throughout 2020 Rocky Mountaineer is celebrating its 30th anniversary so it’s a great time to get onboard. There are three routes for agents to choose from: First Passage to the West (Vancouver to Lake Louise or Banff); Journey through the Clouds (Vancouver to Jasper); and Rainforest to Gold Rush (Vancouver to Jasper via Whistler and Quesnel). 

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Up, up and away – by rail

New at Universal

Universal Orlando Resort's eighth hotel, Endless Summer Resort - Dockside Inn and Suites, will open on March 17.


Vacations to America's 2020/21 brochure has over 400 U.S. properties not featured by any other UK operator. Also new is 'Music of the South', a 15-day tour through cities and towns at the heart of the USA's musical history, like Nashville, Muscle Shoals, Memphis and New Orleans. It is priced from £2,495pp, with flights, rental car and maps.

Described as an 'extra-affordable value category hotel', it will add 2,050 guest rooms to the Universal Orlando Portfolio by the end of 2020.

Year of the woman

The Baltimore Museum of

Art: 2020 Vision – Year of the Woman, will showcase why the east coast is considered a leading U.S. destination for exceptional art and culture. The initiative coincides with the 100th anniversary of the passing of the 19th amendment, which

Vacations by Rail operates several sightseeing options aboard some of the USA’s most iconic trains. Historic cities, national parks, prairies, plains and mountain peaks provide the backdrop on journeys put on track by trains such as the Grand Canyon Railway, Colorado’s Durango & Silverton and New England’s Cape Cod Central Railroad. On the nine-day Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta by Rail tour clients will see hundreds of brightly coloured hot air balloons launched into the New Mexico sky. Departing from September 2020 to October 2020, the tour starts at $2,509pp and begins in Chicago, San Francisco, or a choice of other stops along the California Zephyr route. It also features the 2,000 natural stone arches of Arches National Parks, Mesa Verde National Parks, a ride on the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad and a tour of historic Santa Fe.

guaranteed women in the U.S. the right to vote. Baltimore is a city of over 250 ethnically diverse neighbourhoods.

Pier gets all clear

Opening in downtown St.

Petersburg, Florida, in the spring is the southeast USA's largest waterfront playground. The 26-acre space will feature a new $80-million pier with entertainment, dining, shopping and an 'urban beach'. It will also include works from local artists.

BLOG Would-be photographers can't go

wrong on a visit to the USA, which is home to a huge range of eye-catching natural landscapes. From wetlands and swamps in Louisiana to the sculptural cacti of Arizona's Sonoran Desert to epic views in Tennessee's Great Smoky Mountains, there are freeze frames aplenty! More Blog content at Look out for our Visit USA (UK) online Travel Update for the pick of members' news

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Maine plans a big 200 bash Maine in New England is planning a year of celebrations in 2020 to mark the 200th anniversary of it becoming a state. A spokesperson for Maine Office of Tourism said a wide range of events, exhibitions and activities will showcase the state’s ‘unique treasures’. “Next year promises to be a great time for visitors to explore the great outdoors, to see the work of Maine artists and craftspeople, and to seek out the hottest chefs in a state now as famous for its restaurants as its coastline,” they said. The Bicentennial Parade (Lewiston/Auburn) on May 16, will feature floats, bands, music and more from across the state. Other keynote vents include Statehood Weekend (Augusta and statewide), which runs March 14-15, with classic Maine food drives, speeches, poetry and music. Nearly as large as the other five New England states combined, Maine is known for a long coastline and deep-forested areas that play host to a range of outdoor activities.

What are the benefits of being a Visit USA member? We joined Visit USA in the UK in 2005. For us it's all about communication and networking – web and social media, cost-effective events and timely market intelligence. How do the two states fit together on a self-drive? In the centre of the nation, with a shared state line, Kansas and Oklahoma also share iconic routes and trails like the Chisholm Cattle Trail, the Santa Fe Trail and the longest drivable stretch of Route 66. Is there a sample itinerary that agents can suggest? Explore Route 66 from Oklahoma City to Tulsa; side trip up to Pawhuska; visit Baxter Springs, then head up the Frontier Military Byway to Fort Scott and Kansas City; branch southwest through the Tallgrass Prairie to Wichita, and then home. Tell us a couple of your own highlights in the two states. Absorbing the fun, but competitive atmosphere at a local ranch rodeo; listening to a full symphony orchestra outdoors, deep in the tall grass of the Flint Hills; enjoying farm-to-fork dining one day, and downhome BBQ the next.

Subscribe to the Visit USA (UK) online Travel Update at

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my journey

Falling for

Québec soon be coated in snow, and the whole province will evolve into a magical winter wonderland. In the warmer months, I'm told there are few better places to visit if you want to camp in forests, hike up mountains and swim in lakes. But as the temperatures begin to drop, autumn (or ‘fall’ as it's known here) comes to Québec and I can testify that it's a sight to behold. It's as if the landscape is set on fire, with sprays of rusty red, burnt orange and yellow leaves broken up only occasionally by evergreen aspens. Despite the constant distraction of beautiful views, the province is easy to navigate by car and as we drive down long stretches of tree-lined roads I find myself fixated by the blur of colours rushing by.

Year-round appeal

Jazz it up

Québec seems to be the perfect destination for embracing the outdoors all year round. The province has around thirty national and provincial parks, totalling over 37,000 square kilometres of protected wilderness. Our guide at Katabik – Aventure dans Charlevoix tells us we are the last group of the season to make this journey. Winter is drawing in and soon the rapids we’ve just paddled through will be iced over, making way for winter-friendly activities like crosscountry skiing and snowshoeing. A few kilometres away, popular ski resort Le Massif de Charlevoix, the highest vertical drop east of the Rockies, will

My journey through Québec started in Montréal. With direct flights from London taking around six hours the city serves as a welcoming gateway to the province and the rest of eastern Canada, but it's a vibrant destination in its own right. Despite having only 48 hours to explore the city, I quickly fall for its quirky charms. We spend an evening soaking up the atmosphere at the Upstairs Jazz Bar and Grill, a lively basement venue with live jam sessions and seasoned soulful performers. It's just a taste of Montréal’s music scene but every summer the city is home to the Festival International de Jazz de Montréal, the world’s biggest jazz



y arms are aching, my face is freezing and my legs are drenched. But as I drag my trusty kayak back to shore, I feel a sense of accomplishment and peace which I’ve deduced is exclusive to the great Canadian outdoors. This brisk October morning is my last in Québec. I’ve just kayaked down the Gouffre river in Baie-Saint-Paul, Charlevoix and I’m struggling to remember a time I’ve felt this happy to be so cold and damp. Battling our way through strong currents and chilly winds, I'm distracted from my concerning lack of physical fitness by banks lined with quaint riverside houses and birds of prey circling overhead. With just the sound of my paddles breaking the water (and my wheezy breath) I feel calm and relaxed.


The dramatic landscapes and outdoor adventures of Québec have a certain je ne sais quoi not found in the rest of Canada, says April Waterston

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my journey


ince The prov7,000 3 has over protected f sq. km o erness wild event, attracting millions of visitors. Roads are closed to make space for outdoor performances and small venues like Upstairs welcome international artists. The next day a whistle-stop tour gives us a feel for the city's hidden treasures. Our guide takes us to quaint neighbourhoods filled with multi-coloured homes, all adorned with the city's iconic outdoor staircases; hidden community gardens and bustling markets full of seasonal produce and tempting maple treats. We walk to Saint-Laurent Boulevard and find buildings plastered with elaborate street art ranging from abstract graphic designs to an imposing homage to the late Canadian singer-songwriter, Leonard Cohen. The works are products of the city’s annual 11-day-long MURAL Festival that sees street artists come from afar to transform the blank urban canvas. Our guide tells us that the murals are particularly impactful in winter, when a white blanket of snow provides a stark contrast to the vivid colours. But even against the dull October sky they highlight Montréal's deep-rooted creativity.

Step back in time Just a one-hour flight north to the region of Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean and suddenly I am a world away, gazing at a more natural canvas: a panorama of Fjord-duSaguenay. The fjord is 100km in length and home to wildlife including whales and bears. From our viewpoint in the Park National du Fjord-du-Saguenay we watch for white belugas surfacing for air.

Visiting the historical village of Val Jalbert is like travelling back in time. Lauded as one of the best-preserved ghost towns in Canada, the site features over 40 period buildings and actors to tell the story of life back in the 1920s. We take a tour by trolley bus to the Ouiatchouan Falls, the heart of the village that was once used to power the local pulp mill. A cable car carries us to the top of the falls (which I am told stand higher than Niagara), and then on to the top of the hill, with sweeping views over the autumn foliage, onwards to Lac Saint-Jean.

Charmed by Charlevoix A short drive on from Saguenay-LacSaint-Jean is the picturesque region of Charlevoix. It might be serene but it's also a beacon for adventurers and we head to the aptly-named Parc d’Aventure en Montagne Les Palissades – L’Ascensation. As I look up to ant-sized climbers traversing a 200 metre-high suspended bridge, my fear of the lakeside zipline I'm about to ride suddenly melts away. Québec is full of surprises but none more so than my own new-found love of the great Canadian outdoors. 

Where to book it... Candian Affair offers A Taste of Québec & The Magical Fjord, a 12-day self-drive tour including return flights, car hire, 11 nights accommodation, and a culinary tour. It is priced from £1,414pp, based on a September 2020 departure.

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Talking Travel...


In conversation with Peter Dros, Sales and Marketing Director at Fancourt Estate, South Africa


Tell us about Fancourt’s accommodation and leisure facilities. A: Fancourt Estate is South Africa’s premier lifestyle resort, set on 613 hectares of pristine countryside sheltered by the Outeniqua Mountains, along South Africa’s famous Garden Route. It comprises the Fancourt Hotel and Country Club and The Manor House, a member of the Leading Hotels of the World collection, as well as an awardwinning wellness centre and an array of facilities and activities to keep guests of all ages and interests entertained.


Fancourt is known for its great golf courses, but what else does it offer? A: Fancourt features three of Africa’s top 15 golf courses – but offers so much more. The Leisure Centre has activities for all ages, and for outdoors enthusiasts there’s a series of nature walks including a new 2.4km botanical walk. The Centre also houses the popular Kidz Club, teen lounge, gymnasium, cinema, indoor heated and outdoor swimming pool. There’s also tennis, running, bird watching and fishing. Our award-winning Spa features an indoor heated Roman Bath and wellness treatments, and Fancourt has four restaurants, ranging from French bistrostyled food to Italian specialities to fine dining to the ‘19th hole’.


Is Fancourt a resort that appeals to all kinds of holidaymakers – for examples, singles, couples, families, etc? A: Yes, absolutely. With such a multitude of on-site facilities and activities we cater to guests of all interests and ages. Family has always been at the heart of Fancourt. A member of The Little Guest Hotels Collection, an international collection of the finest hotels that earn top marks for luxury family travel, Fancourt offers suite accommodation suited to families as well as an on-site Kidz Club, Teens Club and kid-friendly facilities and menus at three of its restaurants – Monet’s, La Cantina and The Poolside Café. For couples, an intimate and exclusive getaway with suite accommodation, lounge, bar and swimming pool awaits at the Manor House, built in the 1850s in the style of a Cotswold mansion.


Why is Fancourt a must stop on a Garden Route itinerary? A: It is located in the heart of the Garden Route, one of South Africa’s most iconic tourist attractions. Glorious swimming beaches are easily accessible and mountain biking, horse riding, picnics and hikes can be arranged. Guests can book sightseeing excursions to the nearby coastal towns of Knysna, Plettenberg Bay and Mossel Bay as well as Oudtshoorn.


What else will visitors find along ‘The Garden Route? The Garden Route is an expanse of organic beauty which stretches along the southeast coastline from Mossel Bay to the Storms River in the Eastern Cape. The Outeniqua mountain range sits beyond Fancourt and forested regions, lagoons and rolling hills provide visitors with access to the type of raw natural beauty that South Africa is known for. Other activities along this coastline include adventure trails, bird-watching, canoeing and tree canopy slides. There are also organic food markets, craft villages, big five safari experiences, ocean and forest activities and the world’s highest bridge bungee jump.


Is South African tourism set for a bumper year in 2020? South Africa’s reputation as a value-formoney destination ensures it enjoys a high level of repeat visitors. For many travellers this is a destination that is difficult to beat, in terms of its affordability and also for its diversity of travel experiences. With the recent removal of the requirement for travellers coming here to produce unabridged birth certificates for minors travelling with both parents, the family tourism inbound market to South Africa should benefit greatly.


How can UK agents learn more about, and sell more of, Fancourt? Dale Geldenhuys is our UK sales specialist. He is based in Cape Town but is often in the UK. Contact him on; +27 44 804 0000 

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south africa


A provincial


Easy access, little time difference and an exchange rate that sees the pound travel further than most other places will keep South Africa in favour with British travellers in 2020, says Laura Gelder


bird of prey floats effortlessly on warm thermals. To the right is Devil’s Peak, its green slopes culminating in a jagged peak. Ahead is the city of Cape Town, with a stadium, tower blocks and the v&A waterfront clearly visible. To the left is the pointed peak of lion’s Head. And behind is Platteklip Gorge and the promise of flat ground – the summit of Table Mountain. It’s a searing hot November day as I undertake this iconic city hike. I pass, or am passed by, dozens of other hikers as I climb the rough rock steps which zig-zag up the mountain. Clinging to the dry rock are brightly-coloured flowers called fynbos. The Cape Floral Kingdom here is home to 9,000 plant species, 70% of which are

unique to the area. I’m told it’s more botanically diverse than the Amazon. At the top I’m elated as I look down on the clouds and across this strange level mountain-top. I don’t spot the elusive Cape Mountain Zebra but in just two days here I’ve already seen penguins, rock hyrax (a mammal which looks a bit like a wombat that’s been on a diet) and lots of colourful birds, including spotted guineafowl trotting across my path. I came here for the ‘big five’ but so far the fynbos and these less coveted creatures have made a big impression.

A trio of choices South African Tourism has announced it is to harness its plant power to combat climate

change. It’s planning to use Spekboom, a succulent plant found mostly in the Eastern Cape and said to have amazing carbonoffsetting properties, to offset emissions from its many inbound flights. Carriers contributing to emissions include British Airways, which says that Cape Town is amongst its most booked long-haul destinations for 2020, with January the most popular month for a trip. The airline also flies to Durban and Johannesburg from London. However, the outlook for the national carrier, South African Airways, is not so encouraging: late last year it was placed under bankruptcy protection. South African Tourism

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“Free State is popular with domestic travellers for its incredible scenery, rich history and adventure activities but is relatively undiscovered in the UK and Irish market” Kgomotso Ramothea, Acting Hub Head for UK and Ireland, South African Tourism cape mountain zebra

has announced it is to harness its plant power to combat climate change. It’s planning to use Spekboom, a succulent plant found mostly in the Eastern Cape and said to have amazing carbon-offsetting properties, to offset emissions from its many inbound flights. The tourism board’s objective for 2020 is to encourage tourists to visit provinces beyond popular Cape Town and Kruger National Park by showcasing places off the tourist trail, such as Free State, North West and Northern Cape. “Free State is popular with domestic travellers for its scenery, history and adventure activities but is relatively unknown

waterfront durban

by the UK and Irish markets,” says Kgomotso Ramothea, South African Tourism’s Acting Hub Head for UK and Ireland. Ramothea cites several key attractions in Free State. “Clarens, a charming town at the foothills of the Maluti Mountains, attracts artists and creatives who are inspired by the incredible views and vibrant colours. Visitors can travel along Artists Amble to visit galleries run by local artists, before heading into the great outdoors for quad biking, abseiling and ziplining. “And the Golden Gate National Park is a natural playground for hiking, biking, kayaking, camping and horse-riding.” Ramothea also mentions BA’s Durban

flight as having opened up “an array of opportunities for tourists to travel to KwaZulu-Natal and the surrounding areas”. Agents selling family holidays to South Africa received a welcome boost late last year when the South African government announced that children from the UK and Ireland no longer need to bring consent letters or unabridged birth certificates when they travel to and from the country. South African Tourism’s fifth annual SAT School roadshow took place last November and South African Tourism trained 2,047 travel agents in 2019. “We expect to increase this figure in 2020,” says Ramothea. “The UK and Ireland are key markets for South Africa; the UK being the number one source of international arrivals. We’ll also be hosting six fam trips to nine provinces in 2020, to provide them with first-hand destination knowledge.”

What’s new

Hotels & resorts: Club Med will open its first South African beach resort in Durban this year. The 350-room and 50-villa resort is at Tinley Town, 10 kilometres from King Shaka Airport near Durban. Wine estate Boschendal will open a new tented camp in March 2020, the first of its kind in the Cape Winelands. Situated in the Greater Simonsberg Conservancy, the seven luxury tents will feature a spacious bedroom, bathroom and private deck. Guests will be able to partake in outdoor experiences like horse riding, guided hikes and mountain biking as well as cellar tours. A historic, refurbished train is set to open as a boutique hotel in mid-2020. Kruger Shalati Train on a Bridge will be located on the historic Selati bridge at Kruger National Park’s Skukuza Camp. The 13 historical

cheetah plains tracker

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carriages now house 24 luxury rooms for up to 48 guests, with an additional 14 beds in seven rooms on land next to the bridge. Saseka Tented Camp, part of the Thornybush Collection, has opened in Limpopo’s Thornybush Nature Reserve, aiming for the nostalgia of a campsite but with edgy, 21st century designs. Each airconditioned suite has its own private pool, outdoor shower and sundeck. Samara Private Game Reserve has introduced a fly-camping experience. Guests can explore the 70,000-acre wilderness on foot before spending the night in a mobile camp. It includes a guided bush walk with an armed ranger and tracker before arriving at a private camp for sundowners and a traditional South African braai. Fly-camping is available from October to May for guests booking a minimum three-night lodge stay. Sabi Sabi Private Game Reserve has refurbished its suites at Earth Lodge. With timber fans, leather hanging sling chairs and a new full-length pool, the new-look suites are designed to encourage inspiration, rest and reflection on nature. Brookdale Estate, located in the Paarl Valley under the Klein Drakenstein Mountains, has rebuilt its manor house and rejuvenated its vineyards. The estate’s chef has designed menus using seasonal produce from the estate’s kitchen garden, and its grounds have been re-planted with indigenous trees and wild Cape fynbos, as part of plans to become fully sustainable. A not-for-profit luxury lodge has opened in the Lapalala Wilderness Reserve, Limpopo. Lepogo Lodges will be the first luxury camp in Africa to offset every guest’s carbon footprint. On-site activities range from game drives to tours of iron-age settlements and bushman paintings in the area.

the new-look sabi sabi earth lodge suite

Cruise: MSC Cruises plans to build a £10-million cruise terminal in Durban. The cruise line has announced it will ‘double deploy’ in South Africa for the 2020/21 season: MSC Opera will sail from Cape Town and be joined by MSC Musica out of Durban. Attractions: Africa’s longest beachfront promenade – at more than eight kilometres long – has opened in Durban. Kruger National Park will launch the Kruger Station early this year, a new venue and reinvention of the Selati Station. Its aim is to create a theatrical ‘edutainment’ experience through food and storytelling. Tours & packages: Contiki has a new three-day Cape Town Explorer trip, including

a hop-on hop-off pass for access to the city’s beaches, mountain, Robben Island and other attractions, priced from £145pp. Beyond Phinda Private Game Reserve now offers enhanced after-dark game drives using infra-red cameras.Cheetah Plains has introduced electric Land Cruisers with almost-silent engines for safaris.

Where to book it Titan Travel – 0808 274 2725 The 14-day Sensational South Africa tour starts from £2,699pp and includes Johannesburg, Cape Town, Pretoria, the Garden Route, Panorama Route and a Kruger safari. 

“One of South African Tourism’s goals is to encourage geographical spread by showcasing some of the ‘hidden gems’ and amazing places to visit that are outside of the typical tourist trail” Kgomotso Ramothea, Acting Hub Head for UK and Ireland, South African Tourism horse riding in free state

kruger shelati’s train on a bridge

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CHECKING OUT Cologne and Amsterdam



NEWS TO USE LATA’s first training programme


CARIBBEAN NEWS Win a stay at Casa De Campo


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the review

Pure Luxury expands 2020 programme Pure Luxury has announced a range of new luxury products and an expanded selection of upmarket cruise packages in its 2020 brochure. Following on from its 2019 selection, Gold Medal’s luxury sister brand features more dedicated cruise itineraries from Silversea, Seabourn and Regent Seven Seas. Across the programme, the operator has added 37 new properties in destinations most-requested by holidaymakers. To support the launch, agents will be able to join in an exclusive incentive offering a luxurious five-star trip to Las Vegas, which includes five nights at The Cosmopolitan and Upper Class flights with Virgin Atlantic. Entries apply on all bookings made with Pure Luxury before February 29, 2020.

LATA launches online training


The Latin American Travel Association (LATA) has collaborated with Online Travel Training (OTT) to launch an Online Travel Training Academy dedicated to the region. The OTT course comes as part of LATA’s aim to ensure that agents feel more confident in selling the destination and will include a threemonth-long incentive to encourage them to complete the course. The launch comes in response to research commissioned by LATA that found there are a great deal of misconceptions about Latin America amongst consumers and agents are not adequately equipped with the tools and resources to confidently sell the destination. To start, LATA has invested in a set of beginner’s guides to Latin America. The plan is to have

five courses which cover the 24 countries in Latin America, with each country module covering the basics: capital, language, currency, visa requirements and getting there, as well as five highlights to give a flavour of each destination. LATA’s competition, running alongside the launch until March 31 2020, will see agents in with a chance of winning £25 worth of Love2shop vouchers for each completed course and the £250 worth of Love2shop vouchers – once they have completed all five of the courses. LATA is also rolling out a series of agent roadshows across the UK, beginning on April 21. It will travel to key cities including London, Bristol, Manchester, Birmingham and Glasgow.

Premier’s ‘Go For Gold’ incentive Agents who book with Premier Holidays before February 29 can win prizes that include a 10-night holiday to Thailand, a Dyson hair dryer, an Apple Watch, Alexa Echo – and a fam trip place to Sri Lanka, India or Singapore as part of the operator’s Peaks incentive. Each successful agent will be automatically entered into weekly draws for a prize of their choice – however the agent that makes the most bookings will win a luxury Thailand holiday for two. To support agents, Premier is launching a range of peaks marketing tools including tactical offers, window posters, flyers, offers of the day on social media and destination videos. Agents will also have access to a weekly league table.

EasyJet Holidays relaunches with 5,000 hotels

Sponsored content – OSBORNE & EBEL JANUARY AGENT VOUCHERS Make five bookings and receive £50 in Love2Shop Vouchers. Make 10 bookings to receive five FREE NIGHTS in the Maldives. Make 15 bookings for 10 FREE NIGHTS. Book by 31 Jan 2020 for travel between May and October 2020. Free nights based on a four-star hotel for two. T&Cs apply. Contact:

EasyJet’s new package holiday website offers 100 destinations across Europe. It aims to target the 300 million passengers across Europe that live within one hour of an EasyJet airport. Its beach collection includes Luxury, Adult, Family and Undiscovered hotels. For city breaks, the hotels will be sorted into Luxury and Boutique. EasyJet Holidays is directly contracting hotels for the first time but will offer 5,000 ‘handpicked’ hotels in total.

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the review


Canada ripe for Vacations

SONEVA FUSHI MALDIVES Luxurious Robinson Crusoe Experience Once Upon an Island Offer Book now for Summer 2020 and receive 20% Discount on Room Rates Valid for stays between 04 May – 23 Oct 20


Vacations to America’s 2020/21 North America brochure sees the introduction of a Canada programme for the first time in the company’s 26-year history. The new Vacations to Canada content includes a selection of options ranging from ‘classic itineraries’ through British Columbia and Alberta and Ontario and Québec along with more niche product in Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Yukon and the Atlantic Provinces. Vacations to Canada also features train options with Rocky Mountaineer and VIA Rail and car hire and motor home/RV rentals. Richard Wimms, Vacations to America’s Managing Director, said: “We have been featuring some of the most experiential

trips to the USA for over 25 years, so offering our agent partners Canada for the first time is a natural progression. “Vacations to Canada is a collection of destinations, accommodations, travel choices and experiences packaged in tailor-made holidays,” he added. The Canada choices include Rocky Mountains Adventure, a 14-day itinerary that starts in Vancouver before heading through the Rockies to Whistler, Clearwater, Jasper, Lake Louise and Banff, priced from £2,775pp. Vacations to America will build on its engagement with agents by ‘increasing support in 2020’, says, Andrew Pickering Product and Partnerships Manager.

SUN ISLAND RESORT MALDIVES Fantastic Location to go Whale Shark Spotting Long Stay Booking Rewards throughout the year Book any room for 10 Nights on All Inclusive and receive 15% Discount for stays between 07 Jan 20 – 31 Mar 20 25% Discount for stays between 01 Apr 20 – 31 Oct 20 Bookable until 29 Feb 2020

Air Transat’s New Year’s promotion Air Transat has launched its largest New Year promotion, aimed at driving awareness among the trade. The campaign, which showcases the friendliness of Air Transat’s crew and ‘how the Canadian experience starts the moment you step aboard’, will run with 30-second TV adverts over four weeks. Special rates will also be introduced to celebrate the airlines’ additional flights to Canada in the spring.

SUN AQUA VILU REEF MALDIVES Wonderful House Reef in South Maldives New Sun Aqua Pool Villas now available Book 60 days prior to arrival and receive 15% Off Room Rates! PLUS Children Stay, Play & Eat for Free Valid for stays between now – 31 Oct 20 ALSO FIND EXCLUSIVE DEALS FOR TRAVEL TRADE PERSONNEL ONLY ON OUR WEBSITE OVER 200 HOTELS AND A SELECTION OF TOURS AVAILABLE ON OUR WEBSITE MALDIVES • SRI LANKA • MAURITIUS • SEYCHELLES • INDIA • UAE • CARIBBEAN • GREECE • NEW CRUISING AND SAILING. INCLUDING EXCLUSIVE OFFERS FOR WINTER 2019/20 SUMMER 2020 AND WINTER 2020/21 RATES ARE NOW ONLINE All above offers are subject to availability | Terms & Conditions Apply

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the review

Tailored options from African Pride African Pride’s new 202021 brochure offers advice on how to tailor holidays to Africa and the Indian Ocean. All 55 updated itineraries can be customised, with more than 20 newly-featured lodges alongside day tours to Cape Town, Johannesburg & Victoria Falls. The brochure highlights trips for firs- time safari-goers with some ‘Classic’ itineraries; a section on special interest safaris; advice on where, when and how to travel to see the migration through the Serengeti; and luxury cruises with Cunard, Regent Seven Seas and Crystal Esprit. African Pride’s most popular itinerary, Classic South Africa, is a 16-night tour including Cape Town, the Winelands, the Garden Route and a safari. It is priced from £3,470pp.

Peaks prizes from Funway


Funway Holidays has launched its turn-of-year sales campaign Peaks Means Prizes. The campaign features a total of 100 prizes for travel agents, including free stays in the USA and Caribbean, luxury hampers, Amazon Echo devices, hundreds of pounds in gift and experience-day vouchers and much more. Nick Talbot, Sales and Marketing Director for Funway Holidays, said: “January is a critical time for any holiday company and this year competition for consumers’ attention is going to be keener than ever. “We’re delighted to see the return of Peaks Means Prizes, as it was so well received this year. We wanted

to continue to spread the word that we are offering great value holidays but also communicate even more added extras.” To enter, agents need to register their details online, then enter their booking references to earn codes to open the Funway Holidays online safe. Peaks holiday offers include discounts of up to 55% off bookings and 2020 summer holiday availability. Other benefits include low holiday deposits starting at £99pp. The operator’s Peak sale - on all its destinations - will run until February 29, across digital media, direct mail, e-marketing and the high street.

Tourism Australia recruits Kylie Kylie Minogue invites Brits to venture Down Under as part of Tourism Australia’s latest advertising campaign, which launched on Christmas Day. Filmed against a backdrop of Australian locations, Matesong is the largest marketing investment that the tourist board has made in the UK for over a decade. The three-minute musical tribute, performed by the singer, showcases modern Australia but with some nostalgic references. The ad wryly encourages Brits to take a break from the upheaval in the UK and head Down Under to experience some of what Australia has to offer. The campaign will continue to run on UK TV, in cinemas and across digital and social platforms, with collateral available to the trade.

Taiwan Tourism’s first UK office aims to boost rising visitor numbers The Taiwan Tourism Bureau has opened a London office and says it has plans to assist UK travel agents to boost sales to the island. The expansion is the result of an increase in bookings to Taiwan, with UK arrivals up 8% last compared to 2019. The new office will also allow the tourist board’s main European office in Frankfurt to focus on other markets. To further encourage visitors, the Taiwan Tourism Bureau has

initiated its theme-based ‘Taiwan Tourism 2020 Plan’, which aims to promote eco-tourism, coastal holidays, small town roaming, and mountain tours. Within these themes various cultural experiences such as cuisine, tea and wine, arts, cycling routes, and railway travel will also be highlighted as top reasons to visit. The office hopes to increase Taiwan’s appeal to younger generations as well as older

travellers, and highlight opportunities to combine a visit to Taiwan with Thailand or Japan in a multi-centre trip. Sylvia Lee, Director of the Taiwan Tourism Bureau, London Office, said: “To support our agents we will be running training workshops at the PATA roadshow, with four events in March. Agents that train with us will also have priority on our 2020 fam trips.”

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the review

New website for Aurora Expeditions Aurora Expeditions’ has unveiled a new website where users can easily access the best deals and create bespoke experiences with real-time availability, pricing, promotions, special offers and search functionality. The new search functionality allows users to select duration, date, price, activities and expedition types, such as sail or fly options across Drake Passage, as well as the opportunity to search for their highly sought-after pre- and post- Patagonia treks. Exclusive to the trade, there are sections with news, updates, preferential offers and webinars.

Brand USA Mega for agents


NEWS TO USE IN BRIEF Gold Medal is giving away the final three spots on its annual mega-fam trip to either the Maldives, Zanzibar, Bali or South Africa. To apply, agents must share why they would like a place and how they will use the trip to support Gold Medal.


Brand USA has revealed the dates and finale location for its UK & Ireland 2020 MegaFam. Taking place from April 29 and returning on May 7, the multidestination trip will see 100 travel agents from the UK and Ireland travel simultaneously on seven itineraries across the USA, experiencing a range of destinations and products. The brand’s large-scale familiarisation tours are a key part of its marketing strategy to create awareness of the diverse

destinations and experiences throughout the USA. After travelling on one of the itineraries, agents will come together for a finale at Universal Orlando Resort in Florida. To be eligible for a place, agents must book American Airlines or British Airways flights to the USA before March 15. In addition, they must visit training site:, and complete the mandatory MegaFam Airlines 2020 badge.

Advantage Holidays unveils fresh digital features for members Advantage Holidays, the in-house tour operator service from Advantage Travel Partnership, has relaunched with a new digital platform. Exclusive to Advantage members, Advantage Holidays will also introduce four new products and initiatives designed to drive maximum member benefits. Five new USA City destinations will be available, featuring flights with low-cost carriers, and FlyCruise and Stay packages will become fully bookable online from early 2020. A new initiative called Advantage Recommends will also see 860 hotels ranked within search results based on members’ booking preferences, while ‘Advantage Rewards’ will replace its existing incentives scheme.

Acacia Africa is promoting new product in South Africa and neighbouring eSwatini with the launch of its Signature Tours & Safaris collection. Priced from £315pp, the collection of 11 itineraries is aimed at timestrapped adventure travellers who are seeking a degree of comfort, with three- and four-star accommodation available on all the tours. TIPTO has announced the dates and locations of its 2020 Roadshow and Supershow events. Kicking off in February and running through to June, cities include Chester, Belfast, Bristol, Nottingham and Edinburgh. At each roadshow event, agents will meet up to 12 of TIPTO’s supplier members, along with networking and making new agent contacts. ‘Wish You Were Here’, this year’s Peaks campaign from If Only, sees the return of the operator’s ‘Win a FAM a day’ incentive. Agents who make a booking between January 6 and March 31 will be entered into a grand prize draw. Any bookings made with the agents’ Peaks partners will qualify for five entries and the winner will be announced each day on the If Only Partners Facebook page.

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the review: cruise

Cruise Update

RCI’s wave deal now on

Agents can secure a Princess Cruise, priced from £499pp, with a £50 deposit until March 2. The savings are part of the cruise line’s ‘best sale ever’ and applies to all of Princess’ 1,500 future cruises up to April 2022. Guests can also choose to add a simplified onboard savings package for £35pp per day. The package covers drinks, WiFi and gratuities and is worth over £70.

ANDY HARMER, CLIA UK & Ireland Director

CLIA recently published its 2020 State of the Cruise Industry Outlook Report, bringing together much of the research and data we’ve collected over the last year to put a spotlight on the top trends we’re seeing across the industry. With more than 32 million guests expected to sail globally this year, demand for cruising is reaching new heights. The industry is accelerating its efforts to be a leader in responsible tourism and over the coming year CLIA will continue to reduce its environmental impact. Last year, CLIA cruise lines made the first-ever industrywide emissions commitment, pledging to reduce carbon emissions across the fleet by 40% by 2030. Moving forward, cruise lines will continue to explore new ways to become more sustainable. For example, 44% of the new ships being built now will rely on liquified natural gas (LNG) fuel for primary propulsion. Cruise lines are also developing sustainability onboard, including reducing single-use plastics. It’s essential that travel agents and their guests are aware of the efforts being made by cruise lines to create a sustainable future for the travel industry.


BY APRIL WATERSTON Royal Caribbean International is offering holidaymakers a 60% discount on select sailings in 2020 and 2021 for cruises bought before March 31. Wave deals apply to cruises aboard Allure of the Seas, which sets sail for the Western Mediterranean from Barcelona in 2020 following a multi-millionpound makeover, and Anthem of the Seas, which will sail to Europe from Southampton in 2020. Anthem of the Seas features the North Star, a glass-enclosed pod that takes guests around 300 feet above sea level for 360-degree views; skydiving simulator RipCord by iFLY; and bumper cars. Allure of the Seas’ £126million renovation will bring new family-

friendly activities to the ship, including the Ultimate Abyss – the tallest slide at sea – and The Perfect Storm, a trio of waterslides. There will also be new dining and nightlife options including a Portside BBQ, a Bionic Bar with robotic bartenders and live entertainment venue Music Hall. The deal can also be enjoyed on holidays that include RCI’s ‘Perfect Day at CocoCay’ experience, exclusive to Royal Caribbean guests. The private island in the Bahamas, which opened in May, has the Thrill Waterpark, complete with the tallest waterslide in North America; the largest wave pool in the Caribbean; an underwater sound system and a swim-up bar.

Uniworld will set sail in South America in 2020, with two new itineraries on the Peruvian Amazon aboard the Aria Amazon. The new itineraries take in the Pacaya-Samiria National Reserve and Amazon River on a round-trip from Iquitos. Holland America Line has announced the return of its ‘Why Not Now?’ promotion, running until February 28. Guests who book select 2020 and 2021 cruises will receive a stateroom upgrade, onboard spending money up to $500, free or reduced fares for children, 50% reduced deposits and 10% off select excursions.

Cruise and Maritime Voyages extends its future fleet to eight Cruise & Maritime Voyages has acquired two cruise ships, which will take its fleet to eight ships in 2021. CMV will take delivery of P&O Australia’s Pacific Dawn and Pacific Aria on March 2 and May 2, 2021 respectively, increasing passenger capacity by 30%. The two ships will be renamed in summer 2021 following some minor upgrade and livery works in Singapore, before embarking

on re-positioning voyages to Northern Europe. The 798-cabin Pacific Dawn will be deployed in the UK market by late May 2021, while Pacific Aria will be deployed in the German market. Christian Verhounig, CEO, said: “We are firmly on course to carry 200,000 passengers in 2021.” CMV’s 2021 summer programmes will go on sale in early 2020.

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Reggae artist Jimmy Cliff, Grammy-nominated Koffee and singer and songwriter Wizkid are the first acts to be confirmed for the St. Kitts Music Festival 2020. The 24th annual festival take take place from June 24-28, 2020 following a record-breaking year of visitors in 2019, with arrivals in June up 6.8%. Past acts have included John Legend, Lionel Richie and Jason Derulo.


Director of Marketing UK and Europe, CTO

Get the A-list treatment at Casa De Campo

Win a five-star celeb getaway


JUMBY BAY ISLAND One agent has the chance to holiday like Beyonce and Jay-Z with the prize of a seven-night stay at Casa De Jumby Bay Island Campo Resort and Villas in the Dominican Republic. Private Residences, located two To win, agents need to make a booking to the resort miles off mainland Antigua, has by February 29, 2020. Those that book a room at the completed phase two of hotel will receive one entry; a suite booking amounts to renovating 28 of its suites. The two entries; and for every villa booking agents will refurbishment includes a new receive three entries. look for 16 beachside suites, 10 The winner will follow the likes of The Kardashians pool suites and two estate suites and Justin Bieber by staying at the resort and will enjoy and is said to “blur the lines flight credit of up to £1,000, seven nights in a threebetween indoor and outdoor bedroom villa for two people, including spaces”. Managed by Oetker breakfast and the services of a butler or Collection, Jumby Bay Island maid. Departure dates range from Private Residences is the April 13 to October 31, 2020. Agents main resort on the private s i must register their bookings at island, which has 4.5 miles a d arbu nd B ua Peaks of shoreline and reefs. a a u g




2020 will be an exciting year for the CTO UK Chapter. We have undergone a number of structural changes, but our goal is to better serve the travel industry with greater focus. We know it is increasingly competitive for the travel trade; over the past decade we have seen so many changes in technology and the automation of so many jobs that used to be carried out by humans! But the edge that we humans have above all else is the ability to experience the Caribbean first hand, uncover hidden gems and to share our preferences. We in the Caribbean know the value of travel agents, that is why you are so richly rewarded with online training, workshops, incentives and fam trips. Our fabulous Caribbean Guide and Dive Guide will be out early in 2020, to provide even more resources for you. Plus, we’ll announce our UK Roadshows soon – watch this space – along with a plethora of other activities including webinars to keep your know-how sharp and your sales high! From February 1, the CTO UK Chapter will be managed by McKenzie Gayle Limited – a company run by former CTO team members. See for details.


g ti ns Anti n An s locatio ing a u host at vario ail: info@ e m Soire ruary. E vents. b -e in Fe tination des m o c

THE Landings Resort and Spa by Elegant Hotels has a ‘Luxe at the Landings’ package at the St. Lucia resort. The Live the high life at The Landings millionaire-inspired experiences include a helicopter transfer from the airport, a private yacht charter, personal butler, private sunset dinner, spa treatments and luxury villa accommodation. Prices start at £917pp per night.

ELITE Island Resorts is offering free stays for children at three of its all-inclusive Caribbean resorts. The year-round offer applies to Child-friendly holidays bookings made at St James’s Club & Villas in Antigua, The Verandah Resort & Spa, Antigua and St James’s Club Morgan Bay, St Lucia. Families can take advantage of free stays for up to two children aged 11 and under. Sign up to the CTO’s training programme at

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the review: trade show report


Gateways to the south Steve Hartridge rounds up the news from St. Louis, Missouri, host city of the popular Travel South USA International Showcase

Great outdoors is key for Alabama


Alabama will be promoting its natural attractions and the great outdoors in 2020. “In recent years we have been focusing on our music and our key role in the Civil Rights Trail. Those messages will still be out there but this year will be more about our parks, lakes, rivers, beaches and wildlife encounters,” said Grey Brennan, Deputy Director for the Alabama Tourism Department. “We have designated it The Year of Natural Wonders.” Alabama is also in the second year of introducing a motorcycle fly-drive product to operators. The route, which begins and ends in Nashville, Tennessee, takes in Alabama’s scenic backroads. Stops include Muscle Shoals, known for its recording studios; Birmingham, with the Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum (below) and Mount Cheaha, Alabama’s highest point, In 2018 Alabama recorded the biggest growth rate in visitor numbers of any U.S. state – up 9.5% when the national average was 3%.

Trade meets in St. Louis

Travel South USA International Showcase saw tour operators and media from 18 countries meet with destinations and suppliers of tourism products and experiences from 12 Southern U.S. states. The boutique event, one of the best attended of several annual regional U.S. trade shows, sees Missouri, Mississippi, Tennessee, Arkansas, Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia and Louisiana come together to promote themes that unite one of the USA’s most popular regions for self-drive trips and escorted tours. More than 8,000 business appointments were held over two days and among the UK tour operators in Missouri looking for new product and programme options were America as You Like It, Purely America, Discover North America and Vacations to America. “I always find the Travel South International Showcase to be a great event. I can connect with friends and colleagues from across the 12 states, but also find out about new product and exciting opportunities for future years,”

said Andrew Pickering, Product and Partnerships Manager at Vacations to America. Liz Bittner President and CEO, Travel South, stressed that Showcase offers a week-long immersion in the region and the chance to discover the cultural and historical ties that unite the South. “We are delighted to be able to bring the showcase to Missouri. St. Louis has a place in our history as being the gateway to the west, but the music here – particularly the Blues – the food and much more are emblematic of many of the Southern states,” said Bittner. Taking the show to cities beyond the South’s most popular gateways, such as Atlanta, New Orleans and Nashville, was crucial for introducing more of the region to international buyers, said Bittner. After the business end of the show, up to 180 delegates fanned out on a series of fam trips designed to show them how Missouri, Arkansas, Kentucky and North Carolina can easily be incorporated into a multi-state flydrive of the region.

Attractions add to St. Louis appeal The brand-new St. Louis Aquarium, located at the city’s historic Union Station, opened last month (December). The experience for visitors starts with a virtual train ride that ‘dives into the Mississippi River’, where freshwater creatures swim around them. The journey continues to the ocean to see sharks and rays. It’s then back to the confluence of the Missouri and Mississippi rivers for more regional wildlife. The second floor includes interactive exhibits and Shark Canyon, with more than 60 sharks and rays. Also new at Union Station is the St. Louis Wheel. It has 42 climatecontrolled gondolas that provide 20-mile views.

Going for a song Tennessee designates the last full week of February as “Tennessee Songwriters Week”, designed to celebrate the foundation of the craft, recognise past and present songwriters and pave the way for future artists. State-wide events include songwriter showcases, open-mic nights, educational workshops and more.

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the review: trade show report

African penguins to star in Myrtle Beach Coming to Ripley’s Aquarium of Myrtle Beach in South Carolina early this year is a major new African penguin attraction. The bird habitat will have floor-to-ceiling viewing glass and a 360-degree crawl tunnel for visitors to waddle through. The African penguin is one of the most endangered penguins in the world – numbers have declined by 60% in the last 28 years. At Ripley’s an on-site penguin nursery will house and care for baby birds, in time helping the facility to foster a growing flock.

Branson is tops for families Close to Branson, Missouri, Top of the Rock is a multiattraction venue that includes a championship golf course, cave and nature trail, history museum and a wine cellar. An electric cart takes visitors on a two-and-a-half mile journey to the four-storey Lost Canyon Cave, which has an underground waterfall. The Ancient Ozarks Natural History Museum features a vast collection of Amerindian artifacts along with galleries covering the prehistoric animals that once roamed the Ozarks and exhibits on the American Civil War.

Kansas City makes pitch

Kansas City, which straddles the state line between Missouri and Kansas, used Travel South to spread the word that it should be a ‘must include’ stop on any Southern touring itinerary. “We were delighted to host one of Travel South’s post-show fam trips, to show off our many attractions that capture both the unique history and modern face of the city,” said Jenny Wilson, Director of Services for Visit Kansas City. Among those attractions are Union Station, a National Landmark Building that is the second-largest operating train station in the country and also home to top restaurants, shops and a familyoriented science museum; the National World War One Museum; a number of ‘Speakeasy’ bars that recreate the Prohibition period of the 1920s; the American Jazz Museum and the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum (pictured). The city also has more than 130

eateries that serve up Kansas City’s distinctive style of barbecue, which sees steaks and ribs given a dry rub of spices before being smoked for hours. A growing craft beer scene is exemplified by the Boulevard Brewing Company, which offers visitors tours and pints at the largest speciality brewery in the Midwest. A major upgrade to Kansas City International Airport, due to be completed in 2022, will see its existing three terminals combined into one H-shaped design, making it easier for travellers to move between gates. Floor-to-ceiling windows will also light up the terminal’s 39 gates, providing views of the airfield. Kansas City and St. Louis are linked by a scenic four-hour drive. Motorists can pass through an area known as the ‘Missouri Rhineland’, where wineries like Stone Hill welcome visitors for tours, tastings, lunch and dinner.

Travel South heads for the Big Easy in 2020 The 2020 edition of Travel South USA International Showcase is likely to be a popular one among UK tour operators: it will be held in New Orleans, Louisiana, from December 6-9. Subsequent shows will be in Louisville, Kentucky (2021), Memphis, Tennessee (2022) and Atlanta, Georgia (2023).


TRAVEL SOUTH SHORTS The Jimmy Carter Presidential Library and Museum in Atlanta has a new exhibition detailing Georgia’s role as a leading location for movie-makers. It includes artifacts from more than 60 productions, including films and television series. Major movies shot in the state include The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, The Walking Dead and Forrest Gump. Wondering Woods Cave at Mammoth Cave National Park in southcentral Kentucky is set to reopen in autumn 2020 after being closed for 40 years. Mammoth Cave is the world’s longest cave system. The park is a World Heritage Site. The delayed United States Marshals Museum, which will tell the story of the famous federal law enforcement agency, is now earmarked to open in Fort Smith, Arkansas, by the end of this year. The multi-exhibit facility will include cutting-edge interactive attractions. A new ‘virtual safari’ is planned for Atlanta, Georgia. ‘Illuminarium’, a 360-degree digital projection and sound experience – described as ‘virtual reality without the glasses’ – is set to offer visitors ‘the beauty and splendour of African animals’. The project, on the city’s Beltline, was unveiled in December, but without an opening date.

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the review: checking out


Checking out...



THE BACKGROUND: One of eight NH Collection Hotels in Germany, this four-and-a-half star, 217-room, property had a major renovation in 2016. The contemporary glassfronted building holds a ISO 14001 environmental certificate, just one of its many sustainability credentials. THE LOCATION: An easy 15-minute walk from Hansaring train station, the hotel sits in a ‘media park’ that was built to attract TV channels and music companies (although many have since moved to Berlin). It is located on the edge of the city’s green belt, next to an ornamental lake and a large park with jogging and walking trails. It’s a 20-minute walk to the city centre. THE ROOM: My ultra-modern Premium Room was very spacious, clean and bright. Features included a wooden floor, large cream rug, two

THE VERDICT If ever I return to Cologne this is where I will stay. The location is great, the design touches are both warm and eye-catching and the hotel is full of quirky touches designed to make you smile – like the rubber duck in the bath and a birdcage containing sweets and chocolates in the room. I

bright-red chairs, a man-size mirror, a white table with a faux-marble top, an Nespresso machine, a large walkin closet and a huge bathroom with a standalone shower and separate bath. The bed was ultra-comfortable, with an extra-thick mattress. My view looked down on the lake and the city beyond, with the famous Cologne

cathedral just visible in the distance. KEY FACILITIES: An informal groundfloor restaurant serves both local and international dishes. The same venue has an extensive breakfast buffet. In the summer a terrace hosts al fresco dining and barbecues. There’s also a gym with a steam bath and sauna.

also liked the oversized cityscape pictures of Cologne and its cathedral placed by the elevators. RATES: From £140 a night for a Premium Room in January 2020.


CITIZENM AMSTEL – Amsterdam, Netherlands BY SASHA WOOD

and cool co-working spaces. THE CHECK-IN: The hotel has selfcheck-in kiosks that put an electronic room-key in your hands within minutes. The desk is also manned by friendly CitizenM ‘ambassadors’. THE ROOM: CitizenM doesn’t do room categories – they are usually the same except for the original


THE BACKGROUND: On the edge of Amsterdam’s canal belt, the new CitizenM is the brand’s third hotel in its home city, and is named after the river Amstel that flows close by - not the beer! Inhabiting a smart 1920s building, it has 88 stylish but affordable rooms, with hip interiors

artworks - but this one has two designs to fit the building. Compact and minimalist, the rooms are functional but design-led with “everything you need and nothing you don’t”. Immensely comfortable king-size beds are topped with crisp white Egyptian cotton sheets. The lighting, television, blinds and climate are controlled by an iPad, letting you customise the environment to your mood. KEY FACILITIES: Designed by CitizenM’s Amsterdam-based partner Concrete, the hotel has arty communal areas for relaxing, with an all-day café, bar and snack canteen and plenty of cosy nooks. Features include original artworks, bookcases full of literature and quirky objects, and stylish ergonomic furniture.

THE VERDICT Designed by its Amsterdam-based partner Concrete, CitizenM Amstel is a stylish but functional hotel. A brilliant and affordable alternative to more traditional hotels in the Dutch capital, it’s a relaxing bolthole with a really convenient location for exploring Amsterdam’s charming canal belt. RATES: From £90 per night.

W: T (contact on whatsapp): +44 744 417 1707

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central america



Cathedral, Granada, Nicaragua

wonders Colourful culture and ancient cities, Pacific surf and Caribbean beach bliss, wild jungle and even wilder inhabitants, Mark Eveleigh sums up Central America


Costa Rica’s central valley

colourful latin American art work

rom the Kuna community of Panama’s San Blas Islands to the Quiché people of the Guatemalan highlands and back to the Garifuna musicians of coastal Belize (who descended from African slaves), Central America is one of the most intriguing regions in the world for aficionados of human diversity. Add to this the natural riches of a Caribbean and Pacific coastline and historic attractions that span 3,000 years and you have an area ripe for tourism. Central America is just over twice the size of the UK, so it’s easy to combine two or more countries and benefit from contrasting experiences. The historic and engineering marvels of Panama are ideal complements to the natural riches of neighbouring Costa Rica. While the vibrant indigenous villages of the Guatemalan highlands complement (English-speaking) Belize’s Caribbean coast and barrier reef.

the Caribbean to the Pacific in under 10 hours. The monumental Panama Canal is an unforgettable sight for its sheer scale and audacity and Panama City, with its gleaming business centre and the tangled alleyways of the old town, is certainly the region’s most attractive capital. There are 1,800 miles of Pacific and Caribbean coastline, including the fantasy desert islands of San Blas where you can visit the indigenous Kuna communities, and the Caribbean vibes of Bocas del Toro. Other attractions include the jungle around the Panama Canal and Gatun Lake, replete with wildlife like iguanas, sloths and toucans; the surf beaches of the Pacific; Coiba National Park, also on the Pacific side, where coral reefs and giants like whale

Panama Known locally as el tapon (the ‘plug’) because of the virtually uncrossable wilderness of the Darien Gap which separates it from Colombia, Panama is perhaps the greatest natural land-bridge on our planet. It’s here that the wildlife of North America mingles with that of the south in an explosion of biodiversity. Panama is a little larger than Ireland but is so sinuous that it’s possible to travel from

flower seller, guatemala

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central america

sharks compete for divers’ attention; the misty coffee region of the Chiriquí Highlands and Barú Volcano National Park, towards the Costa Rica border; and the indigenous tribes and nature of the wild Darien National Park.

Costa Rica Only in Africa could you find a country to compete with Costa Rica for wildlifesightings. Even on a short stroll through any rural village you might see wildlife that include unique fascinating creatures like coatimundis, howler monkeys or anteaters. Costa Rica also has almost as many bird species (an incredible 930) as are found throughout the U.S. The wave-smashed Pacific Coast attracts many visitors, yet you can always break away from the crowds on one of the two peninsulas that hang, like swollen papayas, from the trunk of Central America. Nicoya Peninsula is recognised as one of the ‘Blue Zones’ (places where people live to unusual old age). t’s also home to Costa Rica’s own ‘Great Migration’ featuring thousands of giant sea turtles. The smaller Osa Peninsula is another spectacular wildlife hotspot. From Costa Rica’s highest peak (Cerro Chirripó at 3,821m) on a clear day you can see the whole country, a region of soaring volcanoes and jungle valleys and an adventure-playground for rafting, climbing and trekking. Highlights include Arenal Volcano and its hot springs and Monteverde Cloud Forest Biological Preserve for wildlife.

Nicaragua The legacy of a turbulent political history means that many people are surprised by the genuine friendliness and hospitality that

are the usual first impressions upon arrival in the sprawling capital city of Managua. Arrive in the historic city of Granada (just 25 miles away) and things quickly get even better. This is one of the most intriguing colonial cities in the region and its location on the shore of Lake Nicaragua – and within easy reach of the laid-back Pacific Coast surf-town of San Juan del Sur – make it an ideal base. Nicaragua has its share of wildlife, and the spectacular rainforests that cover around a quarter of the country are becoming a tourism draw-card. Jungle-trekkers are drawn to the trails of the Bosawas Biosphere Reserve while those with a taste for heights head for the twin volcanoes on Ometepe Island, Lake Nicaragua. The Corn Islands offer a taste of Caribbean life less commercialised.

Ocelot, Nicaragua

“Only in Africa could you find a country to compete with Costa Rica for wildlife. Even on a short stroll sightings could include coatimundis, howler monkeys or anteaters”

Honduras Sporadic political demonstrations mean that few people tend to consider Tegucigalpa (the capital) an attractive holiday option, but there are some major attractions elsewhere in the country. The ruins of Copán, which are around 1,700 years old, provide a great alternative to the Mayan ruins of neighbouring Guatemala, with significantly less crowds. The jungles of UNESCO-designated Río Plátano Biosphere Reserve, in the La Mosquitia region on the Caribbean coast, also have numerous Pre-Colombian sites and are home to 2,000 indigenous jungledwellers such as macaws, turtles, tapirs, jaguars and monkeys. But Honduras’ jewel is the tangle of 61 islands and cays known as the Bay Islands, which account for drawing more

indigenous lady, Guatemala

whale sharks, honduras

toucan, belize

celebrations in el salvador

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Volcano surfing, nicaragua

Tabacon Thermal Resort & Spa, costa rica

than a quarter of Honduras’s tourists. The main islands of Roatan and Utila have a reputation for some of the region’s best diving and snorkelling.

El Salvador

Casco Viejo (old town), Panama City

“The ruins of Copan, Honduras, are around 1,700 years old and provide a great alternative to the Mayan ruins in Guatemala, with significantly less crowds”

Panama’s pearl islands on the pacific

Central America’s smallest country offers a world of adventure. While the capital, San Salvador, offers little in the way of tourist appeal, the country’s second largest city, Santa Ana, seduces visitors with its colonial riches and pretty barrios. The people of Santa Ana are well aware of the beauty of their natural surroundings and take advantage of swimming and sailing at nearby Lake Coatepeque, climbing on Santa Ana volcano and trekking among the dramatic landscapes of Los Volcanes National Park (which boasts three other volcanoes). While El Salvador is considered the poor relation in terms of archaeological sites, La Libertad (known primarily for its beach town) is also home to what UNESCO calls ‘a Central American Pompeii’, where Joya de Cerén town was buried by volcanic ash in an eruption around 600CE.

Guatemala The great appeal of Guatemala lies in the country’s colourful traditional communities. As with several other Central American cities, most visitors tend to avoid Guatemala City and head instead to Antigua (just over 20 miles away). This colonialstyled city offers immense photogenic appeal and is a base for trips to even more vibrant communities around the shores of

Lake Atitlán or Chichicastenango – possibly the world’s most colourful market-town. Travellers often choose to divide their time between these highlands and the northern Petén region, where they find the beautiful and aptly named Lake Flores (Lake of Flowers) and Tikal National Park. Lying in virtually unexplored jungle, Tikal is surely one of the most mysterious lost cities on our planet, encompassing about 3,000 structures that were once the centre for an estimated 50,000 people.

Belize One of the world’s least-populous countries and the only English-speaking nation in Central America, Belize has a Caribbean character all of its own. From Belize City down through the coastal towns of Dangriga, Hopkins and Punta Gorda, visitors will be charmed by a laid-back attitude, often at odds with the bustling towns in neighbouring Guatemala. Head inland to the capital, Belmopan (population just 20,000), to explore the appropriately named Valley of Peace and charming farming towns like Spanish Lookout and San Ignacio, near the Guatemala border. Ambergris Caye is the most popular island escape but there are seven protected marine habitats along the world-famous Belize Barrier Reef. The Blue Hole, a marine sink hole, is a world famous diving spot. Other stand-out attractions are Mayan ruins at Xunantunich and Caracol and Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary, the world’s first jaguar reserve. 

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six of the best

Beaches of

2 5 3 New South wales

4 1


New South Wales Whether it’s a famed surf Mecca in Sydney or the hidden sands which mark the last point of eastern Australia, New South Wales has a beach for your client, says Laura Gelder

Think Aussie beach culture and the chances are you’re thinking Bondi. This wide arc of sand is packed with surfers, sunbathers and walkers and backed by a bustling precinct where there’s a choice of casual cafés and fish and chip shops or upscale dining spots and cocktail bars. The Bondi Icebergs Club is home to Sydney’s most iconic outdoor pool and marks the start of the pretty Bondi to Coogee Coastal Walk.

Cabarita Beach Large areas of protected wetlands and limited development make for a relaxed atmosphere in Cabarita. Bounded by a nature reserve to the north and west and the Pacific Ocean to the east, this small coastal village of 3,000 residents has everything it needs: a skateboard park, barbecue park and picnic areas and a headland for panoramic walks with uninterrupted views over the ocean, where whale-watching and surfing are popular pursuits. The town also hosts carnivals and events.

Emerald Beach, Coffs Harbour Situated on the North Coast between Sydney and Brisbane and close to Coffs Harbour, not only is this a top beach and surf spot, it’s backed by rivers and creeks that are ideal for kayak or canoe exploration. Visitors can also take the Solitary Islands Coastal Walk to see more golden beaches, rocky headlands, lush rainforest and, if they’re lucky, migrating humpback whales from late May.

Nelson Bay, Port Stephens As the main town in the Port Stephens area, Nelson Bay is the jumping-off point for snorkelling, diving, sailing and fishing excursions, dolphinwatching trips to the Port Stephens-Great Lakes Marine Park and sunset cruises. Sheltered beaches are ideal for families and Nelson Bay Marina is a popular spot for waterside dining, with an array of seafood restaurants. The Bartlett cycleway is a 5km waterfront trip from Bagnalls Beach to Little Beach near the historic Nelson Head lighthouse.

Little Wategos, Byron Bay Secluded Little Wategos is inaccessible by car but that’s the beauty of this serene spot. Get to it from the bigger Wategos Beach at low tide or from the Cape Byron Walking Track down a narrow path. The 150-metre strip is Australia’s most easterly beach and lies directly under rocky Cape Byron making for a dramatic location and a great place to see the sun set over the Pacific.

Ned’s Beach, Lord Howe Island The golden sands of Ned’s Beach lead into calm waters ideal for kids, but it’s also a unique opportunity for everyone to view the fringing reef’s kaleidoscopic coral and marine life which is so close to shore you can wade in and hand feed the fish. Masks, fins and snorkels can be borrowed for a contribution to the honesty box and there’s a healthy fish food dispenser for those looking to tempt mullet, wrasse, garfish, silver drummer, spangled emperor and metre-long kingfish.

main image: igor kasalovuc

photos by destination nsw

Bondi Beach, Sydney

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Training, competitions, events January 2020


New year, new you in Saint Lucia NEWS

Quick Quiz Are you a Yas Island expert?

1. Yas Island is home to Abu Dhabi's largest shopping mall TRUE / FALSE

Saint Lucia's Anse Chastanet property has added a new ‘Ayurvedic Fusion’ spa and a yoga and dining package to promote wellness and health in the new year. The packages are inspired by the island’s Indian-Saint Lucian community, with guests enjoying yoga, meditation, spa treatments and an Ayurvedic cooking class at Anse Chastanet’s Indo-Caribbean beachside restaurant, Apsara.


Hawai'i shares the 'Aloha Spirit'

2. There are no beaches on Yas Island TRUE / FALSE

Hawai'i Destination Specialist I Modules: 5 Hawai'i Tourism invites visitors to take a 'Pono Pledge' as part of its latest sustainable tourism campaign. The 'Share the Aloha' initiative includes a new educational website, and encourages visitors to respect their surroundings by taking a 'pono pledge' (pono meaning responsible). The pledge encourages visitors to be guided by the following core elements: connect with the people and islands; protect the ocean and avoid coralharming sunscreen; respect the ocean and keep your distance from wildlife; eat local and support Hawaiian businesses; don't litter or take from the natural environment and, finally, stay on marked paths when hiking.

Elegant baby breaks News

Find the answer at:

Elegant Hotels has collaborated with personalised baby gift brand My 1st Years to launch a seven-night all-inclusive package for families with pre-school children. My 1st Vacation is available at three properties in Barbados starting from £381 per night at Turtle Beach, £421 per night at Tamarind and £504 per night at Crystal Cove.

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Filler A

Training courses to help travel agents and advisers sell more!

Working in partnership

2020 ones to watch



A-Z of available courses

Georgia, Grenada, Madrid and Morocco were among the 12 destinations to make ABTA's 'destinations to watch' list in 2020. The chart was compiled after ABTA approached its members to ask them which destinations were “in demand and trending”. Other destinations to make the list were: Chicago and Lake Michigan, Namibia, South Korea, Singapore, The Netherlands, Uruguay, Basilicata in southern Italy and Vienna. Emily Jones, ABTA’s Media and PR Manager said: "Basilicata offers a different side to Italy which travellers are now discovering and Vienna celebrates the 250th anniversary of the birth of Beethoven in 2020."

ABTA Alaska Aruba Amtrak Vacations 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


Win a holiday for two to Thailand

Heritage Resort Jerusalem Jumeirah Hotels & Resorts Journey Beyond Las Vegas Macao

Thailand Expert I Modules: 8

Palace preview News

Jumeirah Group has added Capri Palace in Italy to its international portfolio. Reopening as Capri Palace, Jumeirah in April 2020, the hotel is located in Anacapri and features 68 guest rooms. The property's signature restaurant L’Olivo serves Mediterranean classics and has two Michelin stars while the hotel's private beach club Il Riccio has one.

Agents that register to become a Thailand Expert before the end of January could win a seven-night holiday for two. The winner and a plus one will be flown with Finnair to Thailand and enjoy seven nights at the Amari Vogue in Krabi with domestic flights and transfers provided by Tourism Authority of Thailand. The prize must be taken before November 30, 2020. In addition, every agent that registers has the opportunity to win £100 Love2Shop vouchers each week. TAT has released dates for its Amazing Thailand Roadshow in 2020 with locations ranging from Belfast, to Southampton.

Melia Hotels & Resorts New York state Newmarket Holidays Oman Ontario Qatar Railbookers SAGA Saint Lucia Sandals Resorts Seychelles Simon Malls St Kitts Thailand TIPTO US Airtours Veranda Resorts Windjammer Landing Hotel Yas Island

Take a trip around the world Go online to access many of Selling Travel’s features, covering hot and up-and-coming destinations and the latest travel trends. Head to to search our extensive library of articles.

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the final word

the light side of travel Flights of feline fancy

British Airways played host to some roarsome passengers recently – two fully-grown big cats. The airline flew neglected lionesses Alpha and Cora from London to their new foreverhome in South Africa. Initially rescued from a failed zoo in Spain, the lionesses were flown to a British Airways-funded sanctuary near Cape Town, opened in partnership with charity Born Free. Born Free’s animal welfare staff and IAG Cargo’s animal transport team ensured that Alpha and Cora received specialist care throughout the long journey. Upon landing, the pair travelled a short distance by road to the 40-hectare Panthera Africa Big Cat Sanctuary, where they are now free to roam.

How low can you go?

The last time you stood on the the escalators on the London underground did you consider how far down you were going? Leonardo Hotels' research shows that the tube averages a depth of 58.5 metres. But head to Kiev in the Ukraine or Pyongyang in North Korea and it's an average of over 100m – almost the height of The Great Pyramid of Giza!

Gateway to hell?

A recent study by travel company Collinson has found that UK travellers spend more time in airports per trip than any other nation – although they claim to hate them! Apparently 70% of Brits arrive at the airport over two hours ahead of long-haul flights, despite only 52% of UK travellers finding the experience enjoyable.

Top 10... most beautiful cities Canadian online travel agency Flight Network asked 1,000+ travel writers, bloggers and agencies 'what are the most beautiful cities in the world?' 1





New York


Cape Town




San Francisco









THE FEBRUARY 2020 ISSUE OF SELLING TRAVEL WILL FEATURE: Ajman • Argentina • Bulgaria • Escorted touring • Florida • India • Luxury cruising Malaysia • Missouri, USA • Portugal • Weddings & Honeymoons (inluding Indian Ocean) • Israel • African Luxury Lodges CONTACT US: or PLUS ONLINE Features • Destination Guides • Interviews • Blogs • Reviews • Events • Photo Galleries

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Be inspired by...

WELLNESS HOLIDAYS The trend for healing holidays • UK-based wellness breaks • New product in the wellness sector • Take five: spas in the United Arab Emirates

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HOLIDAYS THAT HEAL Wellness is no longer just about the body and indulgence; it can also be about mindfulness and getting back to nature. Debbie Ward shares the latest travel trends


ith spring on the horizon and Christmas indulgence guilt on people’s minds, this time of year always brings about a new surge of enthusiasm for wellness. The sector has been growing fast so savvy agents should make tapping into it their own resolution. According to the Mental Health Foundation the wellness market worldwide has expanded 12.8% in the last two years. Hotel group Accor - which already has initiatives like Feng Shui and sleep rituals at Raffles Hotels & Resorts and Cicadian lighting technology at Swissotels - has just released a ‘White Paper’ on the subject. In it Anne Dimon, CEO & President of the Wellness Tourism Association says: “The mindset of wellness has evolved beyond spas and workout spaces, challenging the hospitality industry to consider how it integrates other health considerations such mindfulness and time spent in nature, along with environmental concerns.” More than a massage Elegant Resorts agrees that the market is widening. “Wellness is about much more

than just a hotel with a good spa and some yoga classes these days, says Product Manager Tara Taylor. “Expeditions, active holidays and walking tours with a chance to meet locals are all part of a wellness experience and are being offered more all over the world.” The operator, which has expanded its wellbeing offering this year, recommends Six Senses’ properties, which go beyond the basics, tailoring wellness programmes for guests that can be continued at home. Wellness trends Caribtours' Head of Product Jenny Peart says: “Wellness travel has recently been a big focus for us; we work closely with allinclusive resort, BodyHoliday in Saint Lucia, and they offer themed months throughout the year, focused on everything from dancing to solo travel. “Mindfulness and digital detoxes are also in demand, no doubt a result of the hectic lifestyles we all lead. At Pine Cliffs Resort in the Algarve you can sign up for a three-day digital detox – they’ll even take your phone away so you’re not tempted to check emails!

It includes a nutritional consultation, yoga, meditation, Pilates and massage, so it’s about more than just switching off.” Stella Photi, Founder and Managing Director of Wellbeing Escapes recognises that her operator’s specialism is now less niche. “It’s more fashionable to be healthy and people are also looking for experiential and goal-orientated holidays,” she says. She highlights several core trends in the market: Ayurveda (an ancient Indian health system) becoming more mainstream; the rise of spiritual retreats; a greater emphasis on nutrition (continuing the vegan, glutenfree boom at home); sustainability entwined with wellbeing; greater demand for healthy family holidays and a focus on healing through nature – including the concept 0f ‘forest bathing’. Of all the trends, Photi believes family and nature are the strongest. “We’re launching a new family wellness concept in the new year,” she says. “For those Millennials with kids who as have been asking us for solutions.” She adds: “I’m seeing more and more studies coming out about the healing

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CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT: Massage at Shangri-La Barr Al Jissah Resort & Spa, Oman; Yoga at Pine Ciffs Resort, Portugal; cycling at Six Senses Yao Noi, Thailand; spa at Kanuhura Maldives

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Relaxing at the BodyHoliday Resort, Saint Lucia

power of nature. We’ve become overdigitalised, over-urbanised, we’re looking for places where we can get peace from it.” While 'forest bathing' is a wellestablished Japanese concept (being at one with nature in the forest), Elegant Resorts notes that the similar ethos of 'Swiss Revitalization' is also attracting interest. “It’s taking you away from the stresses of every day life to the fresh alpine air and therapeutic springs with hiking and climbing trails to complement the benefits of staying at altitude,” explains Taylor. Closer to home Not only is wellness becoming a wider, more accessible concept, it geographically within easier reach. Often perceived as requiring a trip to Asia – home to Ayurveda, yoga and other popular therapies – now, many of the hot new spas are in Europe. Ibiza, Turkey and the UK are trending in wellness for Inspiring Travel Company. “In Ibiza new resorts opening with great

spas include 7 Pines Resort and W Ibiza. Six Senses is also due to open in 2021. In the UK, staycations as with spa breaks and yoga retreats are more popular as they are closer to home,” explains European Product and Marketing Manager Gabrielle Cowley. Particularly popular for the operator are the recently refurbished spa at Vila Vita Parc in the Algarve and Marbella Club in Spain, where personalised lifestyle programmes are on offer and there are plenty of wellness activities planned for 2020. Another favourite is Amilla Fushi in the Maldives, which now incorporates Sensora light and colour therapy and uses the latest hip ingredient CBD oil (a legal cannabis extract) in some treatments. Longer haul, new openings this year include Nobu Hotel Los Cabos in Baja California – the first Nobu in Mexico. The large spa boasts an outdoor hydrotherapy garden and the hotel has a different wellness focus every day from Detox to Awakening, as well as serving healthy food,

Agent advice With wellness becoming more mainstream and short-haul options increasing, barriers to sales are eroding. Wellbeing Escapes doubled its trade sales in 2019 but believes agents are missing a trick on wellness – a sector where breaks have high satisfaction and repeater rates. “I think the agents making real inroads are not shying away from promoting healthy holidays, ” Photi says. “The market has grown but travel agents’ share of it hasn’t grown proportionately and I think it’s the fear of not knowing as much as your client,” she says. “So I say reach out to a specialist like us or do some homework.” She advises putting healthy holiday suggestions in a newsletter and thinking seasonally – January for detox, pre-summer for ramping up fitness. Photi concludes: “The people who are really into it, they know where to go, but the idea is to inspire the people in your database to do something new.”

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Walking Borrowdale from Derwentwater in the Lake District

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GOOD FOR THE SOUL Wellness means more than just a January detox – UK-based product now includes everything from ‘eco therapy’ to forest bathing, says Jessica Pook


here’s something very unnatural about stripping down to a swimsuit on a bleak winter’s night in East Sussex. It’s pitch black and I’ve left the comfort of a roaring fire to tiptoe across an icy deck - a move I instantly regret - but as I sink into the warm water of the bubbling hot tub, my fortitude soon pays off. Still slightly windswept I recount the day's ramble, the crashing waves at Beachy Head like no force I’ve witnessed before and the bite of the sea breeze still stinging my face, but I feel invigorated. Slowly my aches melt away and the canopy of rustling trees above me provides the perfect soundtrack. I relax into a dreamlike state until my fingers wrinkle in protest. My only dilemma now is getting out. Body and mindfulness The demand for wellness travel in the UK goes far beyond a massage in a country house spa. Operators are now tapping into holidays associated with mindfulness, healthy living and boosting selfdevelopment. According to Visit Scotland’s 2019 Insight Trends, wellness travellers are looking for experiences that enlighten the senses and ‘feed the soul’. The good news for agents is that they tend to be high-spending, highyield tourists, especially in the domestic market where the premium is 178% higher than the average domestic tourist. ‘Ecotherapy’, defined as the emotional benefits and long-term health

improvements associated with time spent in green spaces, is a trend recognised in the report. It sites yoga retreats, challenging long distance walks and the new North Coast 500 road - a scenic route showcasing Scotland's wilderness - as being instrumental in the country’s appeal to tap into wellness tourism. The report states: “Scotland’s abundant natural assets of landscape, culture, food and drink, and heritage, combined with a varied and vibrant tourism industry, makes us well placed to embrace and capitalise on the global wellness tourism movement.” Tour operator Wilderness Scotland offers a number of women-only walking holidays designed to encourage women to develop their love of and confidence in the outdoors and to meet like-minded adventurers. New to the programme is the Wilderness Walking Glencoe and the Highlands trip, which takes in views of Highland Perthshire and the Glencoe valley. The tour departs August 15, 2020 and costs £1,895pp. Meanwhile, Ramblers Walking Holidays (RWH) has a useful grading system to help agents choose a walk suitable to their client New for 2020 is RWH's Wonders of Snowdonia tour, which explores parts of the 83-mile-long Slate Trail over the hills and through the valleys and forests of Wales. The trip departs May 31, June 28, August 4 and September 13, 2020, priced from £729pp. “With a growing interest in more healthy holidays and walking offering numerous health benefits, we are definitely seeing

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wellness holidays

Women-only walk with Wilderness Scotland

Bubble breaks are on the up

Forest bathing Blackwood Forest

an increased interest in our holidays,” says Paco Gonzalez, Sales & Reservations Manager, at RWH. "Our holidays are the perfect solution to experiencing the country and, of course, for enjoying the many benefits that exercising brings as you go. "And with some fantastic UK holidays with a shorter duration, these make a great entry point for agents to recommend to clients that want to try out a group walking holiday before booking one of longer duration trips or one further afield," he said. Shearings Holidays has introduced a

new selection of self-guided walking breaks in various locations across the UK, ranging from Ben Nevis in Scotland, Mount Snowdon in Wales, Helvellyn in the Lake District and the Bedruthen Steps in Newquay to the Sandown to Ryde coastal walk on the Isle of Wight. “The UK has so much to offer in terms of relaxation," says Jane Atkins, Managing Director at Shearings Holidays. "Many destinations offer incredible scenery and great opportunities to unwind, and when it's all arranged by an expert tour

operator it really couldn’t be easier. These are a great option for customers who want to combine the ease of travelling to our hotels by coach, with the opportunity to explore the great outdoors by foot,” she said. Healing hotspots The Japanese concept of ‘Shinrin Yoku’, or forest bathing, has been linked to reduced rates of cardiovascular illness and Type 2 diabetes. Despite its name, forest bathing doesn’t require you to strip down to a bathing suit, it is simply the practice of

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Bluebells at Blackwood Forest

“More than 40 of our locations across the UK offer spa and wellness facilities, with breaks to these locations now accounting for nearly 20% of our bookings” Sally Henry, Hoeseasons

Coastal walks with Wilderness Scotland

slowing down and immersing yourself in the forest atmosphere. The National Trust claims that two hours of mindful exploration in a forest could reduce blood pressure, lower cortisol (stress hormone) levels and improve concentration and memory. That's because trees release chemicals called phytoncides, which have an anti-microbial effect on human bodies, boosting the immune system. UK operator Forest Holidays has naturally got onboard with the trend and offers Forest Bathing sessions when staying at one of its Blackwood Forest cabins. The experience includes a guided walk through the forest with the chance to meditate in the surroundings and ends with a shared tea ceremony using foraged plants.

Bubble breaks Although wellness product is expanding, spas and hot tub breaks continue to be in high demand. “Hot tub holidays or ‘bubble breaks’ have been growing year-on-year,” says Sally Henry, Sales Director at Awaze UK – Hoseasons’ parent group. “More than 40 of our locations across the UK offer spa and wellness facilities, from in-lodge treatments to full spa packages, with breaks to these locations now accounting for nearly 20% of our bookings." She adds: "They are ideal for groups of friends and perfect for pre- and postwedding breaks - something we cater for through our Evermore and Autograph luxury lodge collections. And many of our Go Active locations also have spa facilities.” Warner Leisure Hotels offers a range of spa breaks in the UK including pampering and treatment packages at Grade two-listed Studley Castle in Warwickshire. A two-night spa break includes dinner and breakfast, an evening or morning spa session, 55 minutes of treatment time and a TempleSpa set. Clients can also try yoga, archery, zumba and more. Agents can book a Warner Leisure Hotels break from £199pp with a £10 deposit at any one of the brand’s 14 retreats between January and June 2020.

Hoeseasons Landal Kenwick Woods property

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Sell ‘mindful skiing’ through the serene forests of Rosa Alpina in the Dolomites. A two-day package includes entry to 26km of cross country trails, plus yoga and access to spa and fitness areas.

Carlisle Bay has a new allinclusive 'integrative health retreat' this May in partnership with specialist Escapada. The four-night stay offers yoga, Chinese medicine, Ayurvedic practices, ESPA therapies and ‘mindfulness walks’ on rainforest trails.

FINLAND Harriniva Hotels & Safaris has opened Arctic Sauna World in Lapland. Set on Lake Jeris, by Pallas-Ylläs National Park, it's powered by renewable energy and has five saunas representing shamanic rituals, plus wellbeing showers, massages and an ice hole.

GREECE MarBella Elix opens June 2020 in Parga. It will have a wellness centre for beauty treatments, fitness coaching, vinyasa yoga, pilates and cross-training plus a tennis academy, a hiking trail to an ancient ruined city and sports like kayaking and biking.

INDIA Shakti offers all-inclusive luxury journeys in the Himalayas, most recently in Sikkim. Guests are in for a digital detox and a holistic experience, with organic food, yoga, monastery meditation and nature walks to see the area's spectacular rhododendrons, orchids and perhaps a red panda.

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BARBADOS Guests of Colony Club in Barbados can enjoy its recently revamped spa, now featuring UK beauty brand Elemental Herbology, which follows a Five Element theory, matching individuals to wood, fire, earth, metal or water to give balance to body, mind and skin.

JAPAN Inside Japan’s 13-night Japanese Ikigai & the path to happiness trip introduces hada no tsukai (naked communion) with hot springs in Kyoto and ikigai (reason for being) with a stay in a traditional farmhouse.

MALDIVES The new Pullman Maldives Maamutaa Resort has wellness in mind, based on four pillars - restorative sleep; innovative/fun sports and fitness; healthy/balanced food; and rejuvenating spa treatments. Guests can use the Fit Trail, an island running track with obstacles or tackle its Raaveriya Workout - the conditioning required to scale a coconut tree and the ultimate aim.

SLOVENIA Inntravel's walking trip stays at the remote Hotel Plesnik (interestingly, once occupied by Nazi troops) for forest bathing, walks, herb-gathering with a farmer and use of a natural pool and sauna.

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FIVE TOP SPAS IN THE U.A.E THE RAINFOREST, RITZ-CARLTON, RAS AL KHAIMAH, AL WADI DESERT. This healing desert oasis uses low-lighting, cascades, cool pools and tropical foliage to complement its relaxation therapies. European hydrothermal techniques combine with Middle Eastern bathing rituals to create the ultimate soul-soothing sanctuary.


GOCO SPA, AJMAN SARAY, A LUXURY COLLECTION RESORT, AJMAN. An award-winning spa in the serene emirate of Ajman, GOCO spa delivers hydrotherapy treatments with sea views and includes rare features such as chromotherapy rain showers and ice fountains, plus an authentic Hammam. RAYYA SPA, THE RETREAT, DUBAI. A natural alternative to the swanky six-star hotels of the UAE's flashiest emirate, the Retreat is Dubai's first holistic wellbeing resort. Its Rayya Spa offers bespoke wellbeing programmes, de-stressing massages and purifying treatments in tranquil surroundings. CALM SPA, JA THE RESORT, DUBAI. For a healthy mind, body and soul, JA The Resort has oodles of outdoor activities, ranging from squash to water skiing, and peaceful pursuits to cover all the bases. Its Calm Spa opens out onto a creamy swathe of sand, and features an Arabesque, aromatic Hammam with traditional cleansing rituals, plus 10 treatment rooms. ANJANA SPA, RIXOS PREMIUM SAADIYAT ISLAND, ABU DHABI. Set on the silky sand dune shores of Abu Dhabi's Saadiyat Island, this Ottoman-style spa is the isle's largest, and features a luxurious thermal spa, plus Abu Dhabi's only snow room.



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Call Agency Sales 020 7590 0210 | Email Visit OR TO BOOK Call 0808 164 3459 | Visit


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