Selling Travel July-August 2022

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JULY/AUGUST 2022 • SELLINGTRAVEL.CO.UK

INSPIRING THOSE WHO LOVE TRAVEL

Your #1 Elvis Tour Specialists

Dream it. See it. Share it. Fuel your wanderlust with up to 15% off

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Your Escorted Tours Specialists African Adventures | On Safari in South Africa – Mabula Lodge – Kruger National Park – Sebatana Reserve | Under African Skies – Victoria Falls to the Cape | Kenya – Grand Safari – Beach & Safari | Cape Town, the Garden Route & the Big Five Safari

India, Nepal & Sri Lanka | Sri Lanka – Temples, Safari & Beach | India- Tigers and Taj Mahal | Kerala & India’s Beautiful South | India & Nepal – Tigers, Taj & Temples

Across Asia | Follow the Mekong Thailand, Cambodia & Vietnam | Treasures of Cambodia & Vietnam | Borneo’s Orangutans & Rainforest Adventure | Japan – Land of the Rising Sun

Dream it. See it. Share it. Fuel your wanderlust with up to 15% off

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JULY/ AUGUST 2022 • SELLINGTRAVEL.CO.UK

INSPIRING THOSE WHO LOVE TRAVEL

FEEL THE PRIDE How agents can support the LGBTQ+ community in shaping memorable and safe itineraries

how to sell...

California STANDING BY TRAVEL AGENTS

Middle East Ec0-cruising Canada: Be Inspired

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Contents /

All around the world

3

Trend-watching 06 New Beginnings: What's new and happening 08 LGBTQ+: Supporting the travelling community 12 Four-sight: Agents talk

inside this issue

Globe-hopping

EC0-Friendly cruising

14 California: Slo and steady Golden State 18 Six of the best: Themed Coach Tours 22 Take five: Saint Lucia 25 Middle East: Desert delights and thrills 32 Eco-friendly Cruising: Fuelling the future 36 Revisted: Sydney Destination update

32 LGBTQ+

08

Canada middle east

25

california

14

39 Canada's comeback: Adventures await 49 48 hours in: Toronto 50 Interview: Caroline Proulx, Québec 52 My Journey: Newfoundland and Labrador 54 Thematic escapes: Canada's mountains

Trade talk canada

39

56 Reviews: ATE, Indaba, ATM, IPW and latest news 62 Checking out

“A tropical sanctuary set on Saint Lucia’s northwest coast, surrounded by a white powdery beach, The Landings Resort and Spa exudes a sense of luxury and timeless elegance. The exquisite one-to-three-bedroom villas with marina or sea views offer a fully equipped kitchen, spacious living area and outdoor terraces, many also have private plunge pools. Fine dining and “toes in the sand” al fresco options satisfy the taste buds of most discerning travellers. There is an allinclusive option with gourmet dining, butler and private chef services. Guests can choose from island sightseeing to savouring exceptional cuisine, relaxing in the Spa or enjoying sunsets on the beach, champagne in hand. Evoke the feeling of calmness and adventure, your seaside escape awaits!”

landingsstlucia.com

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4 / Welcome EDITORIAL EDITORIAL DIRECTOR Steve Hartridge

DEPUTY EDITOR Jessica Pook

DIGITAL EDITOR April Waterston

WRITERS Charlotte Flach, Lauren Jarvis,Jeannine Williamson, Jo Austin & Ben West

PUBLISHING PUBLISHERS Steve Thompson steven.thompson@sellingtravel.co.uk Sally Parker sally.parker@sellingtravel.co.uk

ADVERTISING MANAGER Lisa Merrigan lisa.merrigan@sellingtravel.co.uk

CIRCULATION MANAGER Shani Kunar

MANAGING DIRECTOR Matt Bonner

CEO Martin Steady

DESIGN & PRODUCTION DESIGNERS Caitlan Francis & Emma Norton

PRODUCTION MANAGER Clare Hunter

PRODUCTION ADMINISTRATOR Steve Hunter

COVER IMAGE

Downtown Pensacola, Florida, USA unsplash.com/guy stevens (PRINT) ISSN 2056-9319. ©BMI PUBLISHING LTD 2022.

SELLING TRAVEL IS PUBLISHED BY BMI PUBLISHING LTD: 501 THE RESIDENCE, NO. 1 ALEXANDRA TERRACE, GUILDFORD, GU1 3DA, UK. T: 020 8649 7233 E: ENQUIRIES@BMIPUBLISHING.CO.UK

July/August

We are here to connect

I

t has been a busy few weeks for Selling Travel's Editorial team. Deputy Editor Jessica Pook travelled to Toronto, to learn first-hand about a raft of new products, hotels and experiences now on offer to visitors. After the business meetings and press conferences at Rendez Vous Canada were done, Jess spent a couple of days in Canada's easternmost province, Newfoundland and Labrador, a destination most visited for its wildlife - think whales and puffins –icebergs, Viking history and spectacular coastal drives. Fully "reopened" to international tourists, Canada is the perfect Steve Hartridge EDITORIAL DIRECTOR "post-Covid" destination, with its stunning scenery and abundance of spectacular wilderness and recreation areas. You can read Jess's account of her time in Toronto and Newfoundland and Labrador in our extended Canada section, in this issue. I travelled to Australia as a grateful guest of Tourism Australia, who invited me to the first staging of the country's major trade tourism showcase, Australian Tourism Exchange (ATE), for three years. Australia only opened its borders to international guests in February so to stage a major event, get suppliers and media to fly in from around the world and arrange an extensive programme of pre- and post-show fam trips was an impressive achievement. There is plenty that is new in Sydney, the host city of ATE, with new hotels, tours and activities coming on-stream since most visitors were last able to visit. I have rounded up some of these in a two-page Sydney feature on pages 36 and 37. In other news, we are busy planning our first Selling Travel Connect event, taking place in London on September 19. We will release further details in the coming weeks but the idea, as the event's name suggests, is to put destinations and experiences in front of travel agents in an informal networking event - something Selling Travel has been doing for many years. Knowledge, insight and customer care have always been key to an agent's success, but because all three of these qualities help to instil confidence - which consumers are in desperate need of right now – conscientious agents are more vital players in travel's distribution chain than they have ever been. Enjoy this issue.

BMIPUBLISHING.CO.UK • SELLINGTRAVEL.CO.UK WE ARE MEMBERS OF THE CARIBBEAN TOURISM ORGANIZATION, VISIT USA ASSOCIATION, LATA, PATA, MENATA, SATOA, THE FOREIGN AIRLINES ASSOCIATION AND THE INSTITUTE OF TRAVEL & TOURISM. WHILE EVERY EFFORT IS MADE TO ENSURE ACCURACY, BMI PUBLISHING LTD CANNOT BE HELD RESPONSIBLE FOR ANY ERRORS OR OMISSIONS. This publication is printed on Revivew 100 Media and Revive recycled coated, recycled paper grades that are FSC® Recycled certified and Carbon Balanced.

Please note that Selling Travel, owned and published by BMI Publishing Ltd., is not connected in any way to Selling Travel e-magazine published by SMP Training Co. and based in British Columbia, Canada. The latter online publication focuses exclusively on sales skills and all aspects of professional selling within the travel and tourism sectors. To benefit from this travel industry sales training resource visit sellingtravel.net

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Trend watching

6 // New New beginnings beginnings

Italy

ITALIAN CHARM Italy is this year’s most popular luxury travel destination for Europeans, according to the inaugural Accor Travel Trends Report. The Mediterranean favourite was closely followed by Spain and Greece with 55% of the 6,000 people surveyed admitting they intend to keep their travels within Europe. Unsurprisingly, beach holidays top the wish list for travel in 2022 with 33% planning sun and sand holidays after two challenging years. group.accor.com

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Trend watching New New beginnings beginnings /

7

Japan

BRIGHT LIGHTS, BIG CITY After more than two years of its borders being closed to the world, Japan is finally welcoming international visitors back. During the first phase of reopening, travellers will be allowed entry on the condition that they are on a fully-guided package tour. The daily entry cap has been doubled to 20,000, and all visitors must test negative for Covid-19 within 72 hours prior to departure. japan.travel

Dubai

W FOR WOW FACTOR Joining Dubai’s growing list of luxury glass skyscraper hotels is W Dubai – Mina Seyahik on the Jumeirah Beach coastline. The 31-storey hotel features 318 rooms, including 27 suites, all with a private balcony and views of the Arabian Gulf. Due to open in 2023, the hotel’s Malakite beach club and pool is set to become Dubai’s latest music hotspot. Surprise performances will keep guests entertained during the day and at night the action will move into the 1200 square metre indoor arena. whotels.com

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Trend watching

8 / LGBTQ+ Travel

Pride

without prejudice

Fifty years after the UK hosted its first Pride, planning a holiday remains challenging for many in the LGBTQ+ community. Charlotte Flach suggest how agents can help

H

olidays should be a memorable experience for clients, but sometimes this can be for all the wrong reasons. For travellers who identify as LGBTQ+ this often requires endless hours of research into which destinations, hotels and activities are going to be not just actively welcoming, but also safe. “For individuals to be truly free to embrace all aspects of their personalities and be proud of who they are, differences must be more than tolerated; they must not only be accepted but celebrated,” says Ellie Jones, Founder and CEO of Liberate, a Guernsey based charity supporting the LGBTQ+ community. However, this isn’t always the case for LGBTQ+ travellers. Recent research from Booking.com has shone a light on the specific challenges faced by LGBTQ+ holidaymakers, with 71% revealing that they have felt uncomfortable while on holiday. Other findings showed that when selecting a destination, 61% report they have to consider their safety and wellbeing, while 47% said it impacts the activities they participate in when away.

Welcoming destinations Many destinations pride themselves on being LGBTQ+ friendly, and offer year-round tailored product for the LGBTQ+ community. This July saw London mark 50 Years since the first Pride took place in the UK, with the capital also frequently topping the list of best LGBTQ+ destinations. Meanwhile, new LGBTQ+ tour

operator Chillimix has just introduced Malta by offering city breaks along with packages to Europride, which runs from September 7-17, 2023. A host of U.S. destinations have their own dedicated Pride celebrations, often spanning over several days or weeks. In Florida, Tampa Pride usually takes place in March and the destination also boasts Pride on the River, the nation’s first Pride boat parade. October sees the Tampa International Gay & Lesbian Film Festival, showcasing LGBTQ+ focused stories from 30-plus years ago. Japan is also leading the way in LGBTQ+ Pride events or, ‘Rainbow Pride’ as they’re known, with events happening in many big cities and growing in size year on year. “Tokyo, Osaka, Fukuoka and Sapporo all have thriving scenes,and nightlife to accompany them, and have equally amazing Pride celebrations throughout the calendar year; Tokyo in April, Osaka in October, Fukuoka in November and Sapporo in September,” says Matthew Joslin, Senior Marketing & Comms Manager - JNTO London Office. Channel Islands Pride returns to Guernsey this year, kicking off on September 3. Live acts will include Element 6, RuPaul Drag Race star Tia Kofi and music from headline act The Freemasons with Amanda Wilson and Katherine Ellis. Sydney, Australia, will host Sydney WorldPride from February 17- to March 5, 2023, a 17-day celebration of the LGBTQIA+ community, with over 300 events across the city.

sellingtravel.co.uk


Trend watching

9

istockphoto.com/ Alessandro Biascioli

LGBTQ+ Travel /

sellingtravel.co.uk


Trend watching

10 / LGBTQ+ Travel

Channel Islands Pride returns in September

Top tips LGBTQ+ travellers are eager to connect with the LGBTQ+ community, history, and attractions when on holiday, the Booking.com research highlights, with 65% saying they are more likely to travel to a destination that celebrates its local LGBTQ+ community and history. Visit Gay Osaka aims to involve visitors in local LGBTQ+ culture, such as barhopping tours with local guides and lunch with local drag queens, adds Joslin. “They also operate broader Japanese experience group tours (samurai, ninja, temples, shrines) with all-LGBT participants, run by Out Adventures. “Elsewhere, Out of Office.com offers tailor-made as well as group trips of Japan aimed at LGBTQ+ visitors.” There’s plenty out there to help agents find the right product to recommend and education is key, says Tolene van der Merwe, Director: UK & Ireland, Malta Tourism Authority.

Malta’s pride celebrations

malta is first on the ILGA-Europe Rainbow Index

“Ensure you are recommending the right destinations by checking the ILGAEurope Rainbow Index, of which Malta is first and has been for seven consecutive years. We are focusing on incentivising travel agents to take our LGBTQ+ course on our Malta Training Programme, which includes six lessons and a quiz.” Tampa Bay produces Tampa Gay, an LGBTQ guide with handy resources for agents selling to LGBTQ+ travellers, with top tips and the diverse range of experiences to be had in the city. It also has a dedicated section for agents on its website. “The diversity of Tampa Bay is part of what makes us so special – from our Cuban, German, and Italian history in Ybor City to our Black history and our continually growing LGBTQ+ community,” adds Santiago C. Corrada, President and CEO, Visit Tampa Bay.

Personal touch With their in-depth knowledge and vast network of contacts, agents are wellplaced to cater for the needs of the LGBTQ+ community, making sure they have a safe and memorable trip. “We believe that travel should be accessible and inclusive for all and we want to learn and understand from our travel industry partners, from the experts, to discuss the most effective practice, to highlight what we are already doing, and find out if we can improve,” says Corrada. Most importantly for travel agents, the research highlighted the role of personalisation as one way the industry can better respond to the LGBTQ+ travellers’ needs. Of those surveyed, 31% would like more tailored recommendations for

sellingtravel.co.uk

LOVE statue, Philadelphia

their preferences and interests. A further 36% would like additional information shared on the LGBTQ+ status of the location, including local laws, religious sensibilities, and clothing mandatories. “There’s a huge diversity of LGBTQ+ people, so find what they like and don’t like and tailor your approach accordingly,” says the JNTO’s Joslin. “Communication and transparency with suppliers is key and agents should work as the go-between to make sure that people on the destination-side are aware of the details of the booking.” Adds van der Merwe: “Signpost them to specific nights where they can meet like-minded travellers and locals. There are a host of LGBTQ+ club nights, including S2S Events, Lollipop and Michelangelo Club, but it’s good to remember Malta is inclusive in all its venues, restaurants etc.” An important consideration, which often gets overlooked, is that the transgender community may need additional advice and guidance, says Joslin. “Some places, those mainly further off the beaten track, destinations, may operate on a gender binary. If a client doesn’t identify with the gender assigned to them on their passport, it’s important to let the relevant travel operator know. Some, such as Intrepid, will arrange accordingly.” With nearly half (46%) of LGBTQ+ travellers having experienced discrimination while traveling, through being subjected to stereotyping (26%) being stared at, laughed at or verbally abused by other travellers (13%) and/or locals (16%), they face added issues when navigating a trip – but agents can help guide them through the complexities. •


a dv e r t or ia l

Flying the Flag With its inclusive culture and array of exciting activities, Malta is the hottest destination for LGBTQ+ holidays

R

anked number one out of 49 European countries by The ILGA-Europe Rainbow Map, Malta prides itself on flying the flag for LGBTQ+ rights, celebrating individuality and welcoming all genders and sexual orientations. The Mediterranean archipelago has scooped this accolade for the seventh year running and scored a whopping 92% on its legal and policy practices for the LGBTQ+ community. And there’s plenty of reasons for the community to flock to this sunny haven in 2022 and beyond, with the annual Malta Pride taking place September 2-11 and also playing host to EuroPride for the first time in 2023 from September 7-17. Malta Pride Week takes place each September and is widely celebrated across the island, with thousands taking to the streets to march, watch the eye-catching floats and experience incredible street performers. Glamorous drag queens and colourful open-top buses decorated with rainbow flags and balloons are followed by a Pride Concert and numerous after parties scattered across the island. Pride’s

events, initiatives and opportunities empower the community to come together, raise awareness and celebrate diversity and inclusion with other likeminded individuals from around the globe.

Party Central

The party doesn’t stop there. Malta is renowned for its vibrant clubbing and festival scene, allowing travellers to party all night long. With an array of nightclubs, bars and restaurants, party until dawn in Paceville, with its thriving club and bar scene or enjoy the restaurants and wine bars in Birgu, Mdina, Valletta and Sliema. All venues are inclusive and welcoming to the LGBTQ+ crowd, but there are a handful of places and evenings specifically targeting the community. Michelangelo Club Lounge regularly hosts themed events, while a number of music festivals are also welcoming. Isle of MTV is free to attend in July, and Glitch Festival is in August.

Hive of Activity

Rejuvenate after a night’s festivities relaxing on picturesque beaches in the warm Maltese sun, or get stuck into

an abundance of adventure activities. Water babies can take advantage of scuba-diving and snorkelling, or those who prefer dry land can spend the day mountain biking and rock-climbing. A gastronomy haven, Malta serves up delicious Mediterranean and North African influenced cuisine all washed down with an array of local Maltese wines.

Say “I do”

Heritage Malta offers couples the chance to get married in a range of stunning historical sites including Fort St Angelo, Ħaġar Qim, Mnajdra Temples and Inquisitor’s Palace. As the destination actively welcomes same-sex marriage, LGBTQ+ couples can tie the knot with a backdrop of sapphire waves, impressive Baroque buildings and year-round sunshine. Agents looking to learn more on Malta’s LGBT+ offering should visit the Malta Training Programme which has dedicated LGBT+ specific course to take. There’s also a draw every month to win a £50 Amazon voucher. Start brushing up now, everyone’s welcome! malta-training.com •

visitmalta.com

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Trend watching

Trend watching

12 / Four-sight

Four-sight /

Delay dismay overhyped We ask our columnists: Are travel disruptions causing a knockon effect for bookings and what advice are you giving clients who are worried?

Anneka recommends Prestige for Canada

Australia is popular for later this year, says Liz

The more we can manage expectations, the less stress there is on us The travel industry just can’t seem to catch a break at the moment, with the ongoing cancellations adding to our woes! But if there’s an industry which continues to remain resilient, it’s ours, surely?! Like Covid, the travel disruption is another chance for us to prove the benefits of booking with an agent. I recently posted about why you need to #useatravelagent on our customer Facebook group, and it has received a lot of positive feedback. So far, our clients have only faced minor delays at the airports. We give our personal mobile numbers, if they depart out of office hours, and have a plan of action if cancellations are to occur. The main issue has been schedule changes where direct flights have been changed to indirect, in particular for Canada departures over the summer. This is why working with a decent tour operator is so important. For Canada Prestige Travel is quick to offer solutions to help keep our mutual clients happy. I feel like the more we can manage clients’ expectations the less stress there is on us – and I’m really keen to make the rest of the year at SCT as positive as possible.

THE FAMILY BUSINESS

Anneka Desrosiers

Southern Cross Travel, East Sussex

sellingtravel.co.uk

Just when we have seen the back of PLFs, mask-wearing, testing and all the other barriers to travel, travel agents are now dealing with a set of new events that are knocking clients’ confidence to travel. Reported – if not actual – chaos at the airports with cancelled flights, delayed baggage, long queues to check in or passing through Security both here and abroad have all hit the headlines as the media searches for bad news stories whilst carefully ignoring good stories! My own planned trip to Provence had to be amended as easyJet cancelled flights to Nice from Bristol. At least I had two weeks’ warning but I ended up having to pay far

Bookings for this summer are proving harder to pin down more from Heathrow on a packed British Airways flight. Many clients have decided not to travel this summer – or are happy just to have their 2020 and 2021 rebooked cancellations as their travel plans. New bookings for this summer are proving harder to pin down as the logistics of rail and air travel are proving just too challenging. And press stories of packaged holiday clients being ‘abandoned’ in resorts have not helped either!

` It’s important to manage client expectations´´ In our experience it’s a minority that have been affected Why do news outlets always have to report the worst case scenario? It just creates unnecessary panic. While I appreciate there are disruptions, in our experience it’s a minority that have been affected. I have recently returned from two trips, Prague in May – we loved this historic city – and Corfu for some much needed sun in June. Both trips were hassle free at Glasgow and Newcastle airports. I update our office Facebook and Instagram pages with our personal trips as customers like to see what we are doing. It’s so good to be busy checking people in and customers are happy to come into the office to pick up tickets. With restrictions to the majority of countries lifted, its making life so much easier and giving people the confidence to travel again. Worldwide, holidays are being planned for later this year with Canada and Australia proving popular. It’s amazing to discuss and plan these itineraries with clients again. It would be great if tour operators could help us out with printing and posting tickets again (with nice wallets and labels). Receiving 25 printed pages of A4 paper as your ‘travel documents’ is rather underwhelming.

THE CRUISE SPECIALIST

THE HIGH STREET AGENCY

Director of GoRiverCruise Worcestershire

The Travel Team Brampton, Cumbria

James Hill

13

I’ve just returned from my second home – Gouves in Crete. With all the travel disruption I wondered what was ahead for our Manchester departure, but it went without a hitch. I think a part of the problem is people turning up to the airport excessively early. It was a bit chaotic in the Assist queue (I had ordered wheelchair assist as I can’t walk very far with my bad back) but the staff were a helpful bunch, so worth recommending if you have customers that require something similar. We stayed in the John Mary Apts. Owners Nikki and Michalis look after you so well, the apartments are lovely and the Anfield Bar across the road offers authentic food and music. Another favourite restaurant is the Paradise Restaurant, which I’ve been going to for many years. Coming home the wheelchair assist was again fantastic. Adonis was so efficient and had us through passport control quickly, and the queues weren’t too bad. I’m looking forward to seeing everyone at the Yorkshire Travel Ball on July 21. There are a couple of tables left so email s.murray922@btinternet.com if interested!

Arriving at the airport excessively early doesn’t help matters

Liz Beaty

THE HOME WORKER

Sandy Murray

Sandy's Travel Escapes

sellingtravel.co.uk

Liz loved visiting historic Prague

Sandy took her first post-covid trip to Crete Next issue: What advice would you give to anyone considering a career in the travel industry?


Trend watching

Trend watching

12 / Four-sight

Four-sight /

Delay dismay overhyped We ask our columnists: Are travel disruptions causing a knockon effect for bookings and what advice are you giving clients who are worried?

Anneka recommends Prestige for Canada

Australia is popular for later this year, says Liz

The more we can manage expectations, the less stress there is on us The travel industry just can’t seem to catch a break at the moment, with the ongoing cancellations adding to our woes! But if there’s an industry which continues to remain resilient, it’s ours, surely?! Like Covid, the travel disruption is another chance for us to prove the benefits of booking with an agent. I recently posted about why you need to #useatravelagent on our customer Facebook group, and it has received a lot of positive feedback. So far, our clients have only faced minor delays at the airports. We give our personal mobile numbers, if they depart out of office hours, and have a plan of action if cancellations are to occur. The main issue has been schedule changes where direct flights have been changed to indirect, in particular for Canada departures over the summer. This is why working with a decent tour operator is so important. For Canada Prestige Travel is quick to offer solutions to help keep our mutual clients happy. I feel like the more we can manage clients’ expectations the less stress there is on us – and I’m really keen to make the rest of the year at SCT as positive as possible.

THE FAMILY BUSINESS

Anneka Desrosiers

Southern Cross Travel, East Sussex

sellingtravel.co.uk

Just when we have seen the back of PLFs, mask-wearing, testing and all the other barriers to travel, travel agents are now dealing with a set of new events that are knocking clients’ confidence to travel. Reported – if not actual – chaos at the airports with cancelled flights, delayed baggage, long queues to check in or passing through Security both here and abroad have all hit the headlines as the media searches for bad news stories whilst carefully ignoring good stories! My own planned trip to Provence had to be amended as easyJet cancelled flights to Nice from Bristol. At least I had two weeks’ warning but I ended up having to pay far

Bookings for this summer are proving harder to pin down more from Heathrow on a packed British Airways flight. Many clients have decided not to travel this summer – or are happy just to have their 2020 and 2021 rebooked cancellations as their travel plans. New bookings for this summer are proving harder to pin down as the logistics of rail and air travel are proving just too challenging. And press stories of packaged holiday clients being ‘abandoned’ in resorts have not helped either!

` It’s important to manage client expectations´´ In our experience it’s a minority that have been affected Why do news outlets always have to report the worst case scenario? It just creates unnecessary panic. While I appreciate there are disruptions, in our experience it’s a minority that have been affected. I have recently returned from two trips, Prague in May – we loved this historic city – and Corfu for some much needed sun in June. Both trips were hassle free at Glasgow and Newcastle airports. I update our office Facebook and Instagram pages with our personal trips as customers like to see what we are doing. It’s so good to be busy checking people in and customers are happy to come into the office to pick up tickets. With restrictions to the majority of countries lifted, its making life so much easier and giving people the confidence to travel again. Worldwide, holidays are being planned for later this year with Canada and Australia proving popular. It’s amazing to discuss and plan these itineraries with clients again. It would be great if tour operators could help us out with printing and posting tickets again (with nice wallets and labels). Receiving 25 printed pages of A4 paper as your ‘travel documents’ is rather underwhelming.

THE CRUISE SPECIALIST

THE HIGH STREET AGENCY

Director of GoRiverCruise Worcestershire

The Travel Team Brampton, Cumbria

James Hill

13

I’ve just returned from my second home – Gouves in Crete. With all the travel disruption I wondered what was ahead for our Manchester departure, but it went without a hitch. I think a part of the problem is people turning up to the airport excessively early. It was a bit chaotic in the Assist queue (I had ordered wheelchair assist as I can’t walk very far with my bad back) but the staff were a helpful bunch, so worth recommending if you have customers that require something similar. We stayed in the John Mary Apts. Owners Nikki and Michalis look after you so well, the apartments are lovely and the Anfield Bar across the road offers authentic food and music. Another favourite restaurant is the Paradise Restaurant, which I’ve been going to for many years. Coming home the wheelchair assist was again fantastic. Adonis was so efficient and had us through passport control quickly, and the queues weren’t too bad. I’m looking forward to seeing everyone at the Yorkshire Travel Ball on July 21. There are a couple of tables left so email s.murray922@btinternet.com if interested!

Arriving at the airport excessively early doesn’t help matters

Liz Beaty

THE HOME WORKER

Sandy Murray

Sandy's Travel Escapes

sellingtravel.co.uk

Liz loved visiting historic Prague

Sandy took her first post-covid trip to Crete Next issue: What advice would you give to anyone considering a career in the travel industry?


Globe hopping

14 / California

SLO and steady

Suggest to California-bound clients that they make time for SLO CAL, with its uncrowded oceanfront, rolling hills, wineries, farmers markets and more. They will soon start to relax like a local, says Jessica Pook

A vine time at Cass Winery

T

he bond between horse and rider is proving to be a fleeting one. I urge Cinnamon to just follow the horse in front at a nice steady pace – no sudden movements please! – but the 20-year-old retiree mare has her own agenda. Veering off the path across the acres of vines that surround us, she defiantly takes another mouthful of Cass Winery’s finest summer crop. Despite my best efforts, Cinnamon is getting her way and having tasted the end product myself I really can’t blame her. Out of the saddle I’m sampling some of California’s finest wines far from the crowds of Napa and Sonoma. I’m in San

Luis Obispo, or SLO CAL as it’s known, located halfway between Los Angeles and San Francisco along the iconic Highway 1. Often overlooked as roadtrippers make their way from the main gateway cities, SLO offers visitors the chance to relax and live like the locals do. And as California’s third-largest wine region with around 300 distilleries, those locals are rarely thirsty. I sip my way across the fertile Paso Robles region, from the ranch-style Cass Winery to the breathtaking vistas of Daou mountain, which bottles wines with powerhouse names like ‘Soul of a Lion’ and ‘Eye of the Falcon’. “We grow diamonds here,” says Laura

sellingtravel.co.uk

Reynolds, the Trade Ambassador at DAOU Family Estates, as she pours a generous glass of rose that she calls her “summer water”. It’s crisp, refreshing and pairs perfectly with the panoramic views that I’m drinking in. I feel like I’m part of an exclusive club and yet I’m surrounded by locals. But then that is the SLO CAL way.

Beat the crowds Brand USA was quick to report an uptick in confirmed bookings for the second half of 2022 and 2023 as a result of the ending of Covid pre-testing for UK arrivals. And Audley Travel reports that client interest in future trips to the US remains high,


Globe hopping California /

15

Spanish-inspired Tasting room at Daou Winery

Meeting the Vinter at Cass Winery

with a 10% increase in enquiries since the announcement of the removal of testing. While Los Angeles and San Francisco are California’s shining stars, city crowds may still be off-putting for cautious clients. San Luis Obispo is unique in that it’s located on one of the most popular driving routes in the world but is still considered off-the-beaten track. “Most first-time visitors can’t believe there are places in California that are still so untouched,” says Chuck Davison, CEO of Visit SLO CAL. “We have 85 miles of oceanfront, combined with a buzzy arts city and then the rolling hills of our wine region. “Our ethos is built around slowing down and living like a local, whether that’s

Saddle up for the California horseback experience

chatting to the vinter at a mom and pop winery or sampling locally-grown produce at the weekly farmers market. We pride ourselves on being homegrown.” Audley includes San Luis Obispo in itineraries for clients who want to stop on their way to Santa Barbara. A spokesperson said: “Clients typically enjoy some time relaxing on the sandy beaches before continuing the last two hours of the drive.”

Top experiences Market day: Every Thursday central SLO shuts down nine blocks for the largest farmers market on the west coast. Browse stalls selling flowers, fruit and local crafts or grab dinner at one of the BBQs.

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There’s also street performers and live music on almost every corner. Find bubblegum alley along the way for a gross but creative use of chewing gum. Slocal.com Say hi to a sea otter: Take a day trip to the quaint coastal city of Morro Bay to visit the resident sea otters. Sign up for a boat or kayak trip to watch these furry friends play in their natural habitat. Between October and April is the best time to see otter offspring. It’s also the spot to go for fresh seafood and you can even shuck your own oysters. esteroinn.com Beach BBQ: Pack a picnic (don’t forget the smores) and head just south of San Luis Obispo to Grover Beach, one of California’s only driveable beaches. This


Globe hopping

16 / California

peerless views from Daou mountain

SLO CAL has over 250 wineries

is where locals come to watch the sunset over a beach bonfire. For an ultra-romantic experience there’s even the option to hire a private chef to create a personalied menu whilst you watch the waves. project-xo.com Hit the dunes: Staying in Grover Beach, take a ATV ride over the dunes for some adrenalin pumping fun. Buckle up for a roller-coaster ride with Xtreme Hummer rentals and zip around the sandy playground at the Oceano Dunes State Vehicular Recreation Area. It’s a thrillseekers dream. pacificadventuretours.com Light up: Head to the hills under the cover of darkness to experience The Field of Light at Sensorio, a light art installation that sees 60,000 stemmed solar panelled spheres illuminate and change colour. Visitors can see two light installations created by British artist Bruce Munro. There is live music at the weekends – the place is simply magical. sensoriopaso.com Exclusive tastings: Stop at Center of Effort in Edna Valley for an estate tour and tasting which includes a chefcurated pairing board featuring local ingredients and purveyors, and seasonal bounty from the Estate orchard and garden. The wines are also pretty good! coewine.com

Rainbow lights at Sensorio

What’s new

Hotels: Opened in 2020 is the Geneseo Inn at Cass, situated at the heart of Cass Winery, Paso Robles. Made from repurposed shipping containers these luxury accommodations look out across the sprawling vineyard. The site offers food and wine experiences alongside horse riding and archery. casswines.com

“Most first-time visitors can’t believe there are places in California that are still so untouched. Our ethos is built around slowing down and living like a local” Chuck Davison, Visit SLO CAL

Just off the downtown square in Paso Robles is The Piccolo which opened in 2019. This luxury boutique hotel has 24 generous rooms with modern furnishings and locallysourced amenities. The rooftop bar serving local wines and Moët vending machine make for a memorable stay. thepiccolo.com Opened in 2019 is the family-friendly and dog-friendly beachfront property Vespera

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Resort on Pismo Beach. With spacious rooms and ocean views, this resort offers California beach house vibes. Complete with pool and firepits, it’s the perfect choice for families. vesperapismobeach.com Attractions: Hearst Castle reopened in May after a two-year closure for renovations. It was once the home of William Randolph Hearst and Julie Morgan and comprises the 115-room main house plus guesthouses, pools, and eight acres of cultivated gardens. It is famous for hosting lavish parties for LA’s elite. The new Julie Morgan Tour takes an in-depth look at the life and career of the architect. Training: Visit SLO CAL has created a virtual 3D site visit tool for agents and their clients to experience San Luis Obispo ‘first-hand’. The tool is live on the training portal at xplorit.com/slocal

Where to book it USAirtours has a four-night trip with direct flights to San Luis Obispo with American Airlines, from £1,249pp. Departing October 2022, the deal includes a stay at the Shore Cliff Hotel, Pismo Beach – with partial ocean views and complimentary buffet breakfast. usairtours.co.uk •


TIME FOR A LITTLE LUXURY IN

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Themed

Coach tours Suggesting a tour that taps into clients’ interests – from Game of Thrones in Northern Ireland to the battlefields of Belgium – can clinch a sale for agents, says Jessica Pook

Back to the Battlefield Leger Holidays has a new five-day Band of Brothers: The Actors Tour. Fans of the American TV war drama – created by Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks – will travel to Belgium to relive two key episodes, Bastogne and Breaking Point. Visits to WW2 battlefields are accompanied by actors Matthew Leitch, Tim Matthews and Peter McCabe, who share tales of working on the series. leger.co.uk

Beyond the Wall

Part of Brightwater Holidays’ Essentials collection is a tour devoted to sites associated with William Shakespeare. Guests will stay in Stratford-upon-Avon for three nights with visits to Shakespeare’s Birthplace and Anne Hathaway’s Cottage. There’s the choice of a day exploring Stratford-upon-Avon independently or an optional excursion to Warwick that visits Kenilworth Castle. brightwaterholidays.com

Garden glory Green-fingered clients can explore the RHS’s newest garden attraction, RHS Bridgewater, as well as the RHS Tatton Park Flower Show on a new Shearings four-night garden-themed coach tour. Dating back to Queen Victoria, RHS Bridgewater, near Manchester, has been transformed into a natural oasis with blooms ranging from Rambling Roses, Peachleaf Bellflowers and Lady’s Mantle. shearings.com

Off the rails Take to the tracks on this five-day Great Little Trains of Norfolk tour with Shearings. Chug through the pretty Bure Valley onboard Norfolk’s longest narrow gauge railway, which runs between Aylsham and Wroxham, before enjoying a cruise along the Norfolf Broads. The trip also includes a visits to the North Norfolk coast and a journey on the North Norfolk Railway or ‘Poppy Line’ onboard a heritage train. shearings.com

Festive fun National Holidays’ popular two-day Polar Express coach trip returns this year. New for 2022 is the option to combine a festive ride on the train with a Sea Life Santa Experience. Aimed at the family market, customers enjoy a visit to the Sea Life Centre to meet Santa in his grotto before a trip on the Polar Express train on the Wensleydale Railway complete with carols, cookies, hot chocolate and the big man himself. nationalholidays.com

istockphoto.com/ TommasoT

JG Travel Group has launched Game of Thrones themed breaks to Northern Ireland. The trips include a visit to the newly-opened Game of Thrones Studio Tour in Banbridge which houses costumes, weapons and props from the series. Also included is a guided tour by coach of key filming locations on the Antrim Coast with stops at Castle Black, The Wall and the free city of Braavos. justgoholidays.com/agents

To be or not to be

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Tropical

Saint Lucia Whether clients want to just ‘fly and flop’ or seek out adventure, Saint Lucia is one Caribbean island that ticks all the boxes, says Jessica Pook Why sell it Described as “one of the top places to see in your lifetime” by none other than Oprah Winfrey, Saint Lucia is the ultimate island paradise. Soft sandy beaches, palm trees and colourful cocktails are all Caribbean staples but thanks to its volcanic origin Saint Lucia also offers bubbling mud pools, 19,000 acres of lush rainforests, more than 22 world class dive sites, sulphur springs and an abundance of activities. Thanks to its diverse history, Saint Lucia is a melting pot of cultures. Carib culture still has a strong influence on the island, though it is mixed with African influences, along with a blend of English, French, and Dutch. Daily flights from London-Gatwick with British Airways, a weekly flight with Tui and a three-times-weekly Virgin service from London-Heathrow during the winter months make Saint Lucia very accessible. A new ‘Summer Saint Lucia Style’ campaign from the Saint Lucia Tourism Authority (SLTA) offers deals of up to 63% off on holidays throughout the summer months, bookable until September 30.

Who to sell to With safe swimming beaches, ziplines through the trees and sailing and snorkelling on offer, Saint Lucia has enough

View from the top of Gros Piton

to keep families entertained. Multigenerational groups can take advantage of the island’s all-inclusive product as well as its array of villa accommodation including resort villas such as Windjammer Landing and standalone villas like Xhale Villa. Sunset cruises or private beachside dining experiences make Saint Lucia a popular choice for couples, whether for an island holiday, honeymoon or even to tie the knot. Couples young and old have

accommodation choices including adultonly brands like Sandals and boutique hotels such as Ti Kaye Resort and Spa. Solo travellers can opt for one of many wellness retreats focused on yoga and meditation, enjoy the island’s dive sites and golf courses or join a sailing charter. Food-lovers can expect French and Creole flavours with staple Indian spices. The national dish of the island is green fig and saltfish, which consists of salted cod cooked with herbs and spices served alongside savoury green bananas. It’s a hearty dish bursting with flavour and a must-try whilst on the island.

What to sell

Saint Lucia has a great adult-only offering

Dive Festival is in September

Saint Lucia offers a host of accommodation choices from world-famous brands to small boutique properties. The SLTA has launched a bespoke marketing programme to specifically support the 400-plus smaller accommodation properties on the island. Called the Collection de Pépites, it showcases properties of 35

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For those clients who are flexible with their timings, travelling in the low season can save a substantial amount of money. The weather in Saint Lucia stays consistently warm throughout the year with the average temperature ranging from 23C to 31C. The busiest time is from December to April, the driest season, while the low season begins in May and lasts through to October. The rainy season is from June to December, but showers pass quickly. This is often referred to as ‘liquid sunshine’.

How to sell

Sand bank at Marigot Bay

Wellness retreats are plentiful

rooms or fewer, including local B&Bs, boutiques, inns and luxury villas. Many of the properties offer guests the chance to discover culture, culinary and wellness experiences within intimate properties. For example, The Jungle Escape Eco Lodge is a hideaway for couples or groups to enjoy nature in Saint Lucia’s countryside. Adventurous clients can take advantage of the many hiking trails across the Pitons with a group tour. Other excursions include ATV Tours, ziplining, nature trails and a visit to the Caribbean’s only drive-in volcano. For something extra special, recommend clients begin or end their holiday in style, by adding a luxury Island Routes helicopter transfer to or from Hewanorra International Airport.

When to sell

Local flavours inspire creative menus

Saint Lucia is a year-round destination with a packed calendar of festivals and events. Saint Lucia Carnival, recognised as one of the top carnivals in the Caribbean, takes place from July 7-19. It will showcase Caribbean history, culture and creativity. Saint Lucia Dive Festival is from September 19-26 while Creole Heritage Month is held annually in October – expect a month of music, dance, cuisine and art.

Saint Lucia can be sold as a standalone destination or as a multi-centre, combined with other Caribbean destinations such as Barbados, Grenada or Antigua. It also features as a highlight on many Caribbean cruise itineraries. It is easy to get around Saint Lucia and a variety of day trips to explore other parts of the island are available The south side of Saint Lucia is closest to the airport and is home to some historic sites; the west coast is the culture hub, with Soufrière, the original French capital; and the north is home to Pigeon Island National Park and some of the top beaches. The interior is made for rainforest exploration.

What’s new Sandals Halcyon Beach resort will add 25 new rooms in February 2023, including 20 beachfront, two-story villa rooms featuring large balconies and five Rondoval suites with conical ceilings, expansive bathrooms, and private water features. Sandals Regency La Toc will introduce Sandals Resorts innovation in 2023, a village comprised of 20 Rondoval suites, with seven offering open-air rooftop decks. The Landings Resort and Spa, St Lucia, has added a new stargazing experience offering guests the chance to join an expert-guided tour of the night sky. They will enjoy unobstructed views of the Milky Way whilst on a private boat charter equipped with a telescope. •

Book it with... Caribtours Caribtours offers a seven-night stay at Bay Gardens Beach Resort in the heart of Rodney Bay Village from £1,045pp. The priced includes return flights and transfers. caribtours.co.uk

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five Saint Lucia summer savings SeRENITY AT COCONUT BAY. This couples-only all-inclusive resort is specifically designed for clients looking for a romantic Caribbean getaway. It offers thirty-six Plunge Pool Suites and butler service. Kuoni is offering 63% off a seven-night all-inclusive stay with direct flights included.

5

WINDJAMMER LANDING BEACH RESORT Made up of individual whitewashed villas on the northside of St Lucia, Windjammer Landing Beach Resort has its own private, beach and hosts cocktail parties and nightly entertainment. Agents can save 40% on travel through 2023 when booked by August 26,2022. 2

Sugar Beach. This plantation-style resort offers panoramic views of the sunset over the ocean. Located on the sheltered bay of Flic-en-Flac and inbetween the two Pictons, Sugar Beach is great for family holidays with a music studeo and kids programme. Elegant Resorts is offering £740 off per couple. The Landings Resort & Spa. Located on Rodney Bay, this resort offers all-suite villas, some with private plunge pools. There’s the option to book a ‘Missed Celebrations package’ for those making up for lost time. Travelbag is discounting stays by £1,650 per couple for an all-inclusive seven-night stay. CALABASH COVE. Nestled into a hillside along the private Bonaire Bay is adult-only Calabash Cove. It offers swim-up junior suites equipped with their very own jacuzzi. Save 42% (up to £1,600pp) with Inspiring Travel Co when booking a seven-night, all-inclusive stay with direct flights included.

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A DV E R T OR IA L

Relax and

reconnect From romantic walks on the beach to learning to swim in the shallows, Windjammer Landing caters to all

S

waying gently in a hammock overlooking a sparkling Caribbean sea, sweet breezes play over 60 acres of lush natural beauty and 1500 sq feet of breathtaking white sand beaches… all the stresses of modern urban living becomes a distant memory. That’s the kind of intensely relaxing experience and stunning views awaiting guests at Windjammer Landing, the luxurious Saint Lucian hillside resort. This gorgeous getaway is tailor-made for everyone from couples, honeymooners and even families – a cool kids’ club had been specially devised with pizza parties, coconut bowling and dance lessons among the fun activities. Villas can house from four to 12 people, and come with state-of-the-art

kitchens and complimentary WiFi. All of these generously-sized residences offer exquisite ocean views – and many even come with private plunge pools, perfect for secluded, romantic evenings. Gourmets will relish the fare at five à la carte restaurants, while the Spa, overlooking tranquil Labrelotte Bay, offers four private treatment rooms and two couples’ suites. A private Japanese soaker tub, juice bar, herb garden and a hair and nail salon are just some of the five-star amenities on offer. Redefining the concept of luxury travelling, the Windjammer Landing Villa Beach Resort is an unforgettable vacation destination, with its breath-taking views coloured by the Saint Lucian exhilarating lifestyle and hospitality, setting the mood for complete relaxation and restoration.•

WINDJAMMER-LANDING.COM

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ARE YOU READY TO EXPLORE THE CITY?

Free beach access on weekdays Free shuttle bus to shopping malls Free shuttle bus to key attractions

You’re just a few steps away from your ultimate escape at Grand Millennium Dubai. Whether you want to check out Dubai’s best attractions or just relax by our pool, we’ve got you covered! The hotel offers a wide range of dining and entertainment options along with 5-star hotel services tailored to lend your stay an unrivaled experience. We invite you to discover all that Dubai has to offer at Grand Millennium Dubai.

DUBAI

Exit 36 - Sheikh Zayed Road, Barsha Heights, Dubai T +971 4 429 9999 E sales.gmhd@millenniumhotels.com W www.grandmillenniumdubai.com

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Desert

delights Encourage clients to pair Dubai with one of its Middle Eastern neighbours for a twin-centre that’s rich in culture, tradition and authenticity, says Ben West

T

he mighty 4X4 Toyota Land Cruiser plunges down a sand dune at great speed and a couple of us scream in response to this adrenaline-pumping rollercoaster experience. We grip any area of the vehicle’s interior we can as it slows down and teeters at the top of another dune at what seems to be an impossible angle. This is my first experience of ‘dune bashing’ and although scary it is immensely enjoyable. In the hands of an experienced driver, in a vehicle fitted with protective gear such as a roll cage, and the tyre pressure reduced to allow for maximum traction against the moving sand, it is also very safe. This experience is coupled with a desert safari, a night spent under the

stars in a Bedouin tent after an evening of camel rides, a falconry display, belly dancers, sheesha smoking and a feast featuring camel meat curry. It is a common excursion for Dubai holidaymakers – and indeed all the Middle Eastern destinations – and an alternative to exploring the city’s many attractions, mega-malls, restaurants, and perhaps skydiving, jet skiing and scuba diving. However, even better than a fun-packed break in Dubai is a holiday combining another Middle Eastern destination too. Dubai lends itself well to a two-centre holiday. Dubai International is the world’s busiest airport and services a large choice of flights. Its sheer popularity means that it has holidays at all price levels and types.

Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque, Oman

Dune buggy ride in Dubai

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Middle East /

Al Hamriya, Muscat, Oman

“Dubai is an excellent twin-centre destination, due to the variety of routes offered,” says James Golding, Director of Sales at Hayes and Jarvis. “Dubai also provides a good introduction to the Middle East. For example, it is very easy to arrange a day out in the desert, a city tour or beach time at Jumeirah Beach. The emirate offers a lot and has plenty that can be tailored, depending on the interests of the traveller. “Agents can sell a twin-centre Middle East trip to travellers who might not otherwise have considered the region on its own, or

see a trip just to Dubai as not adventurous enough. Combining two or more areas in the Middle East gives guests the chance to get a real feel for the region and all its diverse aspects – from the bright lights and luxury of Dubai to the more relaxed, local atmosphere of somewhere like Ras Al Khaimah.” Says John Poulter, Destination Manager, East, at Gold Medal; “There are a multitude of flight and land connections to many destinations within the Middle East. Road transfers and local flight times are generally fairly short, so getting between places is easy and hassle free.”

Oman

“Combining two or more areas in the Middle East gives guests the chance to get a real feel for the region and all its diverse aspects” James Golding, Director of Sales, Hayes and Jarvis.

taking flight in Alula, saudi arabia

Oman is a real contrast to Dubai. It feels a lot more traditional and low-key than the full-on ‘bling’ of the latter, with low-rise buildings, souks and shops the norm rather than awe-inspiring towers and gigantic malls. It boasts a rugged coastline, breathtaking wadis and lovely mountain villages. “I’m a fan of Oman,” says Golding. “Our twin-centre tailor-made itineraries combining the UAE and Oman are popular among guests who want to optimize their time and yet still travel in a relaxed way. The mixture also shows how very different the various regions and countries of the Middle East can be.” Sell it: Escape Worldwide has Dubai/ Oman packages, such as a £1,615pp 10-night option, where you can take in everything from Downtown Dubai to the stunning Hajar Mountains of Oman. escapeworldwide.co.uk

The Cove Rotana Ras Al Khaimah Beach

Ras al-Khaimah It is only an hour or so up the coast from Dubai yet Ras al-Khaimah is a complete contrast and the perfect compliment to a city break. It has long stretches of beach and ease of access to the wondrous northern tip of the Rub al Khali (empty quarter) desert. As well as the malls and marketplaces, there’s beach bars, mountain ziplining and mangrove canoeing. Sell it: Gold Medal has a three nights Dubai and four nights Ras Al Khaimah package in September 2022, staying at the five-star Le Royal Meridien Beach Resort & Spa in Dubai and five-star InterContinental Ras Al Khaimah Mina Al Arab Resort & Spa in Ras Al Khaimah, both half board. Includes transfers to and from Dubai international airport and inter-hotel transfer. From £1549pp. goldmedal.co.uk

Saudi Arabia

A moonscape feel at hegra, saudi arabia

the bans on alcohol and photographing military installations, government buildings and palaces are non-negotiable. On matters of local etiquette, visitors should not point their finger at anyone they are talking to, not cross their legs or sit showing the undersides of their feet.

Abu Dhabi Being 140km, or little more than an hour’s drive from Dubai, Abu Dhabi makes a really convenient choice for a twin-centred holiday. Abu Dhabi is generally more traditional and more peaceful, and its beaches even better than those found in Dubai. It still has considerably less tourists and ideal for those visitors wanting to immerse themselves in the Muslim culture. It has superior mosques and museums, and the Presidential Palace, the Sheikh Zayed Mosque and the Abu Dhabi

Louvre are all to be recommended. Great desert oasis resorts include the Anantara Qasr al Sarab. Dubai is best for those who like to party, while Abu Dhabi has a more understated vibe. Sell it: Tropical Sky has a 10-day two-centre option in Abu Dhabi and Dubai, with five nights at the Fairmont Bab Al Bahr and five nights at JA Jebel Ali Beach Hotel, which is undergoing refurbishments including a new pool at JA Palm Tree Court, private plunge pools at JA Lake View and a new waterpark feature and splash pad. tropicalsky.co.uk

Qatar One of Qatar’s attractions is that it’s not especially on the tourist map but still has facilities of a very high standard. Its capital, Doha, is pleasantly small and easy to explore. The Museum

27

Abu Dhabi Emirates Palace Beach

of Islamic Art is outstanding and has extensive displays of priceless artefacts. Conveniently, the striking building is right on the Corniche, a horseshoe-shaped promenade ideal for an evening stroll. Other musts are a boat trip on a traditional dhow and a visit to the Souq Waqif market. There are mangroves, salt flats, huge sand dunes and a magical inland sea to also explore. Emirates, Flydubai and Qatar Airways all fly direct from Dubai-International to Doha Hamad International Airport and public transport in Qatar is straightforward. Top tip: Treat clients to the ultimate FIFA World Cup experience in November/ December 2022 with a Dubai-Qatar twin-centre, staying at swanky new hotels such as the Sofitel Dubai The Obelisk in Dubai and Le Royal Méridien in Qatar. Book early to avoid disappointment. •

As mainstream tourism is still in its infancy, Saudi is for now more suited to more adventurous travellers. Tourist visas were only widely available from 2019 and to set-up a dual-centre stay a bespoke package and itinerary must be arranged. Saudi Arabia is kingdom that offers astounding landscapes, important archaeological sites and a fascinating society that is undergoing change. The Saudis are ploughing big resources into developing the tourism industry, with gigantic projects such as Neom and Amaala being developed. Top tip: Visitors should be advised that

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Middle East /

Al Hamriya, Muscat, Oman

“Dubai is an excellent twin-centre destination, due to the variety of routes offered,” says James Golding, Director of Sales at Hayes and Jarvis. “Dubai also provides a good introduction to the Middle East. For example, it is very easy to arrange a day out in the desert, a city tour or beach time at Jumeirah Beach. The emirate offers a lot and has plenty that can be tailored, depending on the interests of the traveller. “Agents can sell a twin-centre Middle East trip to travellers who might not otherwise have considered the region on its own, or

see a trip just to Dubai as not adventurous enough. Combining two or more areas in the Middle East gives guests the chance to get a real feel for the region and all its diverse aspects – from the bright lights and luxury of Dubai to the more relaxed, local atmosphere of somewhere like Ras Al Khaimah.” Says John Poulter, Destination Manager, East, at Gold Medal; “There are a multitude of flight and land connections to many destinations within the Middle East. Road transfers and local flight times are generally fairly short, so getting between places is easy and hassle free.”

Oman

“Combining two or more areas in the Middle East gives guests the chance to get a real feel for the region and all its diverse aspects” James Golding, Director of Sales, Hayes and Jarvis.

taking flight in Alula, saudi arabia

Oman is a real contrast to Dubai. It feels a lot more traditional and low-key than the full-on ‘bling’ of the latter, with low-rise buildings, souks and shops the norm rather than awe-inspiring towers and gigantic malls. It boasts a rugged coastline, breathtaking wadis and lovely mountain villages. “I’m a fan of Oman,” says Golding. “Our twin-centre tailor-made itineraries combining the UAE and Oman are popular among guests who want to optimize their time and yet still travel in a relaxed way. The mixture also shows how very different the various regions and countries of the Middle East can be.” Sell it: Escape Worldwide has Dubai/ Oman packages, such as a £1,615pp 10-night option, where you can take in everything from Downtown Dubai to the stunning Hajar Mountains of Oman. escapeworldwide.co.uk

The Cove Rotana Ras Al Khaimah Beach

Ras al-Khaimah It is only an hour or so up the coast from Dubai yet Ras al-Khaimah is a complete contrast and the perfect compliment to a city break. It has long stretches of beach and ease of access to the wondrous northern tip of the Rub al Khali (empty quarter) desert. As well as the malls and marketplaces, there’s beach bars, mountain ziplining and mangrove canoeing. Sell it: Gold Medal has a three nights Dubai and four nights Ras Al Khaimah package in September 2022, staying at the five-star Le Royal Meridien Beach Resort & Spa in Dubai and five-star InterContinental Ras Al Khaimah Mina Al Arab Resort & Spa in Ras Al Khaimah, both half board. Includes transfers to and from Dubai international airport and inter-hotel transfer. From £1549pp. goldmedal.co.uk

Saudi Arabia

A moonscape feel at hegra, saudi arabia

the bans on alcohol and photographing military installations, government buildings and palaces are non-negotiable. On matters of local etiquette, visitors should not point their finger at anyone they are talking to, not cross their legs or sit showing the undersides of their feet.

Abu Dhabi Being 140km, or little more than an hour’s drive from Dubai, Abu Dhabi makes a really convenient choice for a twin-centred holiday. Abu Dhabi is generally more traditional and more peaceful, and its beaches even better than those found in Dubai. It still has considerably less tourists and ideal for those visitors wanting to immerse themselves in the Muslim culture. It has superior mosques and museums, and the Presidential Palace, the Sheikh Zayed Mosque and the Abu Dhabi

Louvre are all to be recommended. Great desert oasis resorts include the Anantara Qasr al Sarab. Dubai is best for those who like to party, while Abu Dhabi has a more understated vibe. Sell it: Tropical Sky has a 10-day two-centre option in Abu Dhabi and Dubai, with five nights at the Fairmont Bab Al Bahr and five nights at JA Jebel Ali Beach Hotel, which is undergoing refurbishments including a new pool at JA Palm Tree Court, private plunge pools at JA Lake View and a new waterpark feature and splash pad. tropicalsky.co.uk

Qatar One of Qatar’s attractions is that it’s not especially on the tourist map but still has facilities of a very high standard. Its capital, Doha, is pleasantly small and easy to explore. The Museum

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Abu Dhabi Emirates Palace Beach

of Islamic Art is outstanding and has extensive displays of priceless artefacts. Conveniently, the striking building is right on the Corniche, a horseshoe-shaped promenade ideal for an evening stroll. Other musts are a boat trip on a traditional dhow and a visit to the Souq Waqif market. There are mangroves, salt flats, huge sand dunes and a magical inland sea to also explore. Emirates, Flydubai and Qatar Airways all fly direct from Dubai-International to Doha Hamad International Airport and public transport in Qatar is straightforward. Top tip: Treat clients to the ultimate FIFA World Cup experience in November/ December 2022 with a Dubai-Qatar twin-centre, staying at swanky new hotels such as the Sofitel Dubai The Obelisk in Dubai and Le Royal Méridien in Qatar. Book early to avoid disappointment. •

As mainstream tourism is still in its infancy, Saudi is for now more suited to more adventurous travellers. Tourist visas were only widely available from 2019 and to set-up a dual-centre stay a bespoke package and itinerary must be arranged. Saudi Arabia is kingdom that offers astounding landscapes, important archaeological sites and a fascinating society that is undergoing change. The Saudis are ploughing big resources into developing the tourism industry, with gigantic projects such as Neom and Amaala being developed. Top tip: Visitors should be advised that

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Globe hopping

Visit Central Florida

Sponsored feature /

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Spectacular events Central Florida’s Polk County has a packed calendar of events throughout the year. Here’s six that are perfect for the whole family…

Sky high The annual six-day Sun ‘n Fun Aviation Air Show takes place each April in Lakeland on the south side of Lakeland Linder International Airport. From its humble beginnings in 1974 it has grown into one of the largest fly-in events in the world. The event’s daily and nightly air shows feature awe-inspiring displays from dozens of military and civilian performers. Plus aerobatics, a hot air balloon launch and plenty of aircraft to explore. flysnf.org

Seasonal hits Bok Tower Gardens in Lake Wales has a year-round calendar of events. Highlights include The Spring Bloom Festival from January through to April, The CenterState Concert Under the Stars series in March and April, and “Home for the Holidays” from November to January which sees El Retiro at Pinewood Estate completely transformed into a festive showplace. Enjoy carillon concerts daily at 1pm & 3pm. boktowergardens.org

Water ways The World Water Ski Show takes place in October in Winter Haven and will celebrate the 100th Anniversary of Water Ski. The 2022 IWWF World Water Ski Show Tournament will be the largest to date. Teams from across the globe will travel to Winter Haven, the “Water Ski Capital of the World,” to compete. Each team will perform a one-hour spectator-friendly show that combines entertainment with world-class athletics. worldwaterskishow.com

Cheer on the tigers Lakeland Flying Tigers, the Detroit Tiger’s A Affiliate team, play their Florida State League games at Joker Merchant Stadium in Lakeland - which has been their home since 1967. The local team play throughout August in the evenings which means you can catch a game during the summer holidays. Even if you don’t know the rules the crowd will soon have you cheering in unison. milb.com/lakeland

Horse play Every Saturday Westgate River Ranch Resort near Lake Wales hosts a real-life rodeo. This long-standing tradition sees cowboys take to the arena for bull riding, calf roping and much more. Families can take part in horseback riding whilst kids can enjoy a real “calf scramble” and for braver visitors there’s the opportunity to ride a mechanical bull before enjoying a dance party outside the River Ranch Saloon! westgateresorts.com

Celebrate the fourth Beginning on July 2 through to the July 4, celebrations are held across Polk County, in Davenport, Auburndale, Haines City, Bartow and Dundee. Don’t miss Rockin’ Freedom Fest! with music, children’s activities, food trucks and a free water ski show. It wouldn’t be fourth of July without an amazing fireworks show. Celebrate at LEGOLAND® Florida with special 3D glasses that turn fireworks into exploding bricks. legoland.com

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Globe hopping

30 / On location

n co

tent

Discover more Malta features at sellingtravel.co.uk/articles

Rethink

Malta Not Just Travel agent Ushma Valerio joins a three-night Malta Academy trip and discovers a vibrant Mediterranean gem that’s anything but sleepy

W

hen you work in the travel industry there is nothing better than being offered the chance to familiarise yourself with a new destination. I was one of 30 lucky travel agents from the UK and Ireland to be hosted by Malta Tourism Authority (MTA) on a three-night Malta Academy trip – and it did not disappoint. The academy was based on four key themes: gastronomy, history, adventure and luxury – a nice change from hours spent on hotel visits and a real chance to fully immerse ourselves in the destination. There were so many activities to enjoy: a tour of Zafrana Boutique Winery, afternoon tea at the Corinthia Palace, a walking tour of the capital city, Valletta, dining at Gracy’s Boutique and a Tuk Tuk tour of Malta’s sister island Gozo with Yippee. One of the highlights was dining at Michelin Star restaurant De Mondion, in the old town of Mdina, on the Gala Dinner evening. With incredible service, attention to detail and a fantastic menu,

it’s clear to see why Malta is known for its gastronomy scene. The country’s farm to table philosophy was evident everywhere we visited, with the farms located close to the restaurants. We were lucky enough to enjoy this experience at Tulliera, where no produce is wasted and foraging is an art form. Whilst you can while away hours people watching along the promenades and in the many bars and restaurants on the islands, it is also the perfect place to get out and explore: few things in Malta are more than 30-minutes apart. It is also easy to plan a twin-centre stay, with the neighbouring island of Gozo just a 25-minute ferry ride away from the mainland. A complete change in landscape – very lush and open – Gozo is perfect for adventure seekers with e-bike riding, Segways, archery and abseiling available. With the ease of a

short three-hour flight from the UK, Malta is perfect for solo travellers or families with smaller children that want an alternative to Spain or Greece. Understanding that Valletta has cobbled streets and is quite steep in some areas is useful to know for those with walking issues – which is why a fourwheeled Rolling Geeks tour of the Three Cities could offer the perfect solution. Public transport is very easy to use and two euros will pretty much take you anywhere on the island (A oneweek tallinja bus pass costs 21 euros). And Malta is far from the sleepy place it is often portrayed as: it’s a vibrant and undiscovered gem with huge music festivals attracting world-class DJs and scenery that features on blockbuster movies. Malta has over 300 days of sunshine a year, so is ideal for a winter break or long weekend. It’s very inclusive and welcoming to all and has such a deep history. To be able to experience a destination like Malta with the tourism board gave me a whole new perspective. visitmalta.com

MALTA

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A DV E R T OR IA L

Live Big,

Breathe Deep City chic meets edgy opulence at the newly-opened Breathless Cancun Soul Resort & Spa in Mexico

A

cosmopolitan beach experience awaits at this stylish, all-suite resort nestled between the Caribbean Sea and Nichupte Lagoon. Curate your vacation style as you Live Big and Breathe Deep at the newest hot spot and soul of Cancun. Clad in sleek décor with neutral accents, this beachfront haven with 429 suites and two infinity rooftop pools is the perfect destination for socially sophisticated travellers wanting to experience lively and luxe downtown vibes with relaxing and opulent beach views (just 25 minutes from the airport and two miles from the vibrant Cancun strip). It’s all in the details when it comes to our style and service, and we’ve thought of everything to make every Unlimited-Luxury® experience with us epic. Soak in unmatched ocean and lagoon sunset views from one of our two connecting towers, each offering their own unique vibe, so singles, couples, and friends (+18 years) can discover the perfect mix of excitement and relaxation blended to your liking. Live Big and become immersed

in an eclectic entertainment scene at the xcelerate rooftop, complete with infinity pool overlooking the spectacular white sands and turquoise waters of Cancun. Unwind and Breathe Deep after a rejuvenating spa treatment at the twostory relax Spa by Pevonia® or zen out in our private yoga room. Or mix and mingle with friends in the Energy pool before the sunset soiree at the fire pit plaza. A stay in one of the 429 junior suites includes a private balcony, breathtaking view and refined amenities for a memorable Unlimited-Luxury® experience.

Only the best

Everything is included – 24-hour room service, daily refreshed mini-bars, pool and beach wait services, and so much more. Plus, top-notch service ensures everything you need is just a tap away. For the ultimate VIP treatment, stay in our xhale club and indulge in upgraded amenities including an exclusive rooftop pool with incredible ocean and skyline views, a dedicated bar, and private lounge access.

Bon vivants can enjoy the inclusions of boundless exquisite eats and curated cocktails at 10 dining venues and 11 bars and lounges. An innovative entertainment lineup provides both daylife and nightlife at Breathless Cancun Soul. Spend the day snorkeling, kayaking and sailing in the Caribbean Sea or sunbathing by any of the Breathless Cancun Soul’s three pools. The centrally located Energy pool offers a mix of socialising and relaxing, the xhale club rooftop pool is ideal for reviving, and our one-and-only party pool at th e xcelerate tower features day parties, DJs and more. Join in on the action at night with live music shows, beach parties, acrobatic performances and mega dance parties. Refresh your mind and body at nearby championship golf course or with a fitness class at the state-of-the-art fitness center with ocean and pool views. Curate your own vacation style with a mix of entertainment and relaxation blended to your liking. amrcollection.com/en/resorts-hotels/ breathless/mexico/cancun-soul-resort-spa •

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Globe hopping

32 / Eco-Friendly Cruising

Fuelling the

future

Havilia’s Northern Lights cruise

The pressure is on for the cruise industry to become more ecoefficient – and it is responding with initiatives such as batterypowered ships and greener excursions, says Jeannine Williamson

W

alking out onto the top deck of Havila Castor I breathe in the crisp Norwegian air and look out over the equally breath-taking views of the snow-capped Norwegian Fjords glistening in the morning sunlight. The thing that immediately strikes me is the sound of silence. I’m aboard the second ship to be launched by all-new Havila Voyages, which has two more identical vessels on the way. The line won the contract to operate alongside Hurtigruten on the Bergen to Kirkenes coastal, which calls at 34 ports and provides a ferry and freight service for locals and a spectacular scenic

voyage for passengers in its 179 cabins. I go back inside and sit in one of the cosy lounges next to a ‘crackling’ faux fire before heading to lunch in the restaurant showcasing local specialities. That afternoon I embark on a thrilling husky sled expedition. It’s one of the sustainable shore excursions, which also include e-bike and e-bus tours, on this eco-friendly line boasting the largest battery capacity of any cruise ship. Havila Castor’s battery weights 86 tons and is equivalent to 600 Teslas. The ship can sail silently under battery power for up to four hours and is leading the way for the Norwegian government’s requirement that

all sailings in the UNESCO-listed fjords must be emission-free by 2026. It certainly makes sense in this pristine natural environment.

Green and clean Sustainable travel was on the agenda at this year’s CLIA UK & Ireland conferences and the Seatrade Cruise Global event held in Miami. Data from Google has also shown that 70% of people questioned were interested in travelling more sustainably. Ocean and river lines have risen to the challenge with a raft of initiatives. This year A-ROSA broke the mould with the launch of the first-ever hybrid river vessel, A-ROSA SENA, which can sail in and out

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Globe hopping Eco-Friendly Cruising /

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AROSA’s new hybrid river vessel, A-ROSA SENA

Avalon’s Active and Discovery programme on the Rhone

of ports under battery power. The line is also retro-fitting its other ships to have a fully hybrid-powered fleet by 2030. “Whilst most customers may not be making holiday decisions based on sustainability yet, agents know that it won’t be long before they simply expect companies to be doing the right thing,” said Lucia Rowe, Managing Director at A-ROSA River Cruises UK & Ireland. “We are seeing that agents are becoming more and more engaged on the topic of sustainability and our new ship A-ROSA SENA gives us something really incredible to talk about. We have a responsibility to protect the rivers and destinations we sail through for future generations, and we want to deliver genuine change.” For clients that want to reduce their carbon footprint, agents can suggest no-fly cruises out of UK ports or train travel. Tim Fleming, Sales and Business

wildlife watching with Silversea

Development Manager, Arena River Cruises, said: “All of our four-star European river cruises come with a choice of joining options, allowing passengers to make the selection that best fits their schedule, budget and, in many cases now, environmental concerns. We offer options to join both by coach and by rail. Of these, according to carbon footprint comparison site ecopassenger.org, it is travel by rail that most significantly reduces a passenger’s individual Co2 emissions.

What’s new LNG ships: Heralded as the cleanest marine fuel, the next generation of cruise ships are being powered by liquefied natural gas (LNG). Carnival Cruise Line’s Mardi Gras was the first LNG ship in North America and will be joined in November by Carnival Celebration. MSC’s new flagship, the 6,774-passenger MSC World Europa, is set to

“Agents are becoming more and more engaged on the topic of sustainability and our new ship A-ROSA SENA gives us something really incredible to talk about” Lucia Rowe, AROSA

become the world’s largest LNG ship when it launches in October. The line has also set a target to be emissions free by 2050. Setting sail in 2023, Icon of the Seas is the first of Royal Caribbean’s new Icon Class vessels and the line’s first LNG-powered ship. Also debuting next year is hybridpowered Silver Nova, Silversea’s first Nova Class ship, which will be the first lowemissions luxury cruise ship. Green initiatives: On the river front, Avalon Waterways has partnered with Trees4Travel and is offsetting the carbon

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Globe hopping

34 / Eco-friendly cruising

silversea Has iNtroduced a low emissioN luXury cruise sHip

footprint of every passenger’s cruise in 2022 by donating tens of thousands of trees. Its parent company Globus has unveiled the Lighthouse Project spotlighting nearly 50 causes including The Ocean Cleanup, which includes buying sunglasses made from recycled plastic. Ambassador has partnered with marine conservation charity, ORCA as well as the launch of the first ever cruise line “Anti-Whaling campaign”. This campaign will see that two Ocean Conservationists are aboard the flagship, Ambience, in 2022 and 2023, for 11 sailings to collect important scientific data from key areas. Amadeus River Cruises has partnered with climate protection organisation atmosfair, becoming Europe’s first river cruise operator to offer guests an opportunity to offset their Co2 consumption

“Our European river cruises come with joining options. It is travel by rail that most significantly reduces individual Co2 emission” tim fleming, arena river cruises

Havila uses local produce oNboard

with a donation. Both Amadeus and AmaWaterways have received Green Award certification which recognises high environmental standards. CroisiEurope has initiated a partnership with UNESCO in order to promote sustainable development projects for African river ports. Tall ship line Star Clippers is the first line to be certified as Pura Vida Pledge Approved by the Costa Rican Tourism Board for its sustainable and eco-friendly itineraries. It has been recognised as part of an initiative to promote the country as the ultimate natural escape. Small ship line Variety Cruises was the first line to sign the Tourism Declares Climate Emergency initiative promoting sustainability at sea and visits off-the-beaten-track islands, supporting local communities. Technology: Windstar’s Star Plus Initiative upgrade saw new environmentallyfriendly engines fitted to its three Star Class ships, which sail under wind power.

Top experiences Step out: Explore on foot on CroisiEurope’s Cruise & Hike river sailings along the Rhine, Danube, Douro and Italy’s Bianco Canal. Guides accompany gentle walks which take in unspoilt areas such as vineyards and nature parks. A full itinerary with alternative excursions is provided for non-walkers. Plant life: Regent Seven Seas Cruises’ new Eco-connect excursions connect clients to nature. From Hue, Vietnam, they can hike through Bach Ma National Park with a naturalist pointing out the diverse flora and fauna, including one fifth of all Vietnam’s plant species.

rescued turtle returNed to tHe wild

Slow down with sloths: Meet the world’s slowest-moving animals on one of Oceania’s all-new Go Green excursions. The sanctuary in Puntarenas, Costa Rica, is home to sloths that have been orphaned, injured or lost their habitat. Deforestation is one of the biggest threats to sloths and clients also plant a tree. Have a heart: With Royal Caribbean clients can volunteer at the Open Heart Charitable Commission in Falmouth, Jamaica, and plant trees and vegetables that will eventually feed locals. They can also prepare and serve a hot meal for families facing tough times and interact with the community by reading and playing games. Experience eco-projects: See conservation work first-hand on the all-new Great Lakes Explorer itinerary on Viking’s first expedition ship, Viking Octanis. These include wildflower restoration projects in the fragile Great Lakes and Georgian Bay ecosystem. If the timing coincides, guests can see rescued turtle eggs being incubated before the turtles are returned to the wild. Cheers: Sip cocktails and wines that taste good, and do good, on Norwegian Prima, the first of Norwegian’s Prima Class ships. The Metropolitan Bar is the line’s first Sail & Sustain bar featuring zero waste cocktails made with surplus ingredients (such as banana skins), fully sustainable spirits and organic wines.

Where to book it HAVILA VOYAGES – 03455 280026 The six-night northbound voyage on Havila Castor from Bergen to Kirkenes starts from £763pp, departing December 5 2022, cruise only. havilavoyages.com •

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Globe hopping Sponsored feature /

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Foodie experiences in

Gran Canaria Born out of the island’s origins as a significant Atlantic port, Gran Canaria is home to a diverse gastronomy scene and a melting pot of flavours. Here are six of the best foodie experiences to consider

For the very freshest and best morsels, follow the locals to the farmers markets. Gustave Eiffel created the modernist Mercado del Puerto in 1891, which was the first fresh food market in the Canary Islands to sell ready-to-eat options. Cheap yet delicious homemade dishes are crafted with natural local ingredients. In the evenings, the young and trendy flock to Mercado del Puerto in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, with its popular terrace.

Foodie fincas The fertile fincas (or plantations) of Gran Canaria have been tended by local families for many generations. The island’s unique climate and rich volcanic soil offer up mouth-watering produce and rich coffee beans which are exported around the globe. Bananas, tropical fruits and potatoes are harvested at Finca La Laja in Agaete, produced alongside its distinctive wine. Or sample signature Gran Canarian honey from the farmsteads.

Tantalising tavernas Tavernas are dotted around the island, usually found on the garden terrace of a family farmhouse. As you move inland, seafood dishes emblematic of the coast make way to the island’s famous meat recipes, including papas arrugadas with mojo sauce, gofio escaldado, and potaje stew. Sample them in the unique subterranean atmosphere of La Vega Cave restaurant, at the head of the Guayadeque ravine.

Wine-ding routes Gran Canaria has been awarded the first and only wine route certification in the Canary Islands and outside of mainland Spain. The Gran Canaria Wine Route takes travellers on a tour across 52 wineries, restaurants, wine cellars, estates, cheese factories and traditional family-owned ‘bochinches’. The island is home to nearly 40 different grape varieties, bringing to life a huge diversity of different flavours and blends.

Michelin munchies Gran Canaria is part of the Tasting Spain network, inspiring young talented chefs to create dishes using local ingredients and traditional recipes. Gran Canaria has three Michelin-starred restaurants: La Aquarela in Patalavaca, Los Guayres at the Cordial Mogan Playa hotel and Poemas by Padron Brothers in the five-star GL Santa Catalina, a Royal Hideaway Hotel by Barceló in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria.

Rum revelation Gran Canaria has won acclaim for its rum. At Arehucas distillery guests take a 45-minute guided tour to discover the production process and one of the oldest rum cellars in Europe. A behind-the-scenes look at the mill, fermentation and distillation rooms is followed by a tasting of the distillery’s wide selection of rums and liqueurs. Leave space in your luggage to take home some local spirit as a range of rums are available to purchase.

istockphoto.com/ pepmiba

Farmers fancy

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Globe hopping

36 / Revisited: Sydney

Skin deep beauty in

Sydney

Australia’s Harbour City is fully “open” and as appealing as ever. Steve Hartridge suggests reasons why it is time for a first or return visit

New tours are available at the Sydney Opera house

F

rom the sweeping sails of its opera house to the giant iron coathanger that is the Harbour Bridge to the yellow-and-green coloured boats leaving Circular Quay for the suburbs, Sydney is a city packed with familiar icons. But with new hotels, tours and a raft of upcoming events, there are fresh reasons to recommend the city.

What’s new Sydney’s hotel stock has been revitalised by several recent openings. Ace Hotel opened in the Surry Hills area of the city in May, on the site of a former brick-making factory. Rooms in the 257-key, 18-storey hotel feature record players, vintage furniture and murals by local artists. The hotel has a ground floor bar – decked out in a colour palette inspired by the rust, ochre and greens of Australia – and a restaurant (LOAM) serving a menu that is 60% plant based. A second restaurant (Kiln) and rooftop bar are on the way.

take a pottery class in Marrickville, sydney

Also new is Australia’s first Kimpton hotel, located centrally on Pitt Street. The 172-key property opened earlier this year on Valentine’s Day, but officially launched with a VIP party in May. Anyone familiar with Kimpton’s U.S. properties will recognise hallmarks such as artworks displayed throughout the hotel, pet-friendly policies, bikes available to borrow and early-evening free wine tastings. Billed as Sydney’s first six-star hotel, Crown Sydney is housed in the city’s tallest building at the newly developed Barangaroo waterfront precinct. It features 349 rooms (with 22 villas) plus an array of food and drink venues, including the celebrity favourite Nobu. On the 26th floor, CIRQ bar offers fabulous views of the harbour. A 1930s Art Deco building has been given a new life as a boutique hotel – Aiden Darling Harbour. The eight-storey hotel in Pyrmont opened in April, featuring 88 smart rooms. On the events side, Sydney is already

looking forward to 2023. The city will host Sydney WorldPride (February 17-March 5) and will stage matches in the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup. Here are five Sydney experiences to recommend to clients...

Top experiences Behind the curtains at the Sydney Opera House: The Sydney Opera House Tour experience has been ‘reimagined’ and now offers the chance to learn about the history and future of this world-famous concert hall via an immersive digital experience in a new purpose-built venue with state-of-the-art technology that includes 270-degree visuals and surround sound. Also new are iconic moments from past Concert Hall performances. Note that the Concert Hall itself is currently closed as it is undergoing renewal works to improve theatre machinery, acoustics and accessibility. A second new tour focuses on the

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Globe hopping Revisited: Sydney /

A hunting stick, as explained by an aboriginal educator

pool and cabanas at crown towers, sydney

gallery showcasing aboriginal art in darlinghurst, sydney

architecture of the building and explores Danish architect Jørn Utzon’s inspiration, working methods and materials. Guests will discover why U.S. architect Frank Gehry claimed the building “changed the image of an entire country.” The tour runs every Saturday at 10am. sydneyoperahouse.com Learn about Indigenous culture at Barangaroo: Located on the northwestern edge of the Sydney CBD and the southern end of the Sydney Harbour Bridge, Barangaroo is Sydney’s latest waterside development. A major urban renewal project transformed this former container terminal into an area of parkland, jogging trails and trendy restaurants. Discover the area’s Indigenous history and heritage by taking a tour with Barangaroo Aboriginal Cultural Tours, led by an Aboriginal Educator. You will walk through a landscaped reserve with more than 75,000 native trees and shrubs, beehives,

birds such as lapwings and thousands of sandstone blocks. The tour ends with a demonstration of how to use traditional tools such as a fishing spear, hunting boomerang, digging stick and stone axe. barangaroo.com Discover Sydney’s neighbourhoods: There are several walking tours that are designed to help visitors get to know the neighbourhoods that lie beyond Circular Quay and the downtown area. To the south is Chippendale, which just a couple of decades back was a rundown precinct so rife with crime and drug gang turf violence that often even the police wouldn’t venture there. Today it is now one of Sydney’s creative hubs, home to artists, sculptors and galleries exhibiting Aboriginal works. A curated walking tour shows off its unique architecture. Don’t miss the narrow lanes of Spice Alley, which offer a passable imitation of a Beijing hutong, for Cantonese

37

congee, Malaysian char kuey teow, or Shanghainese dumplings. End your time in Chippendale with a pint in the tastefully dingy Lord Gladstone Park pub and look out for the Renaissance period stain glass window featuring Sydney rock band, Sticky Fingers. Another southern suburb, Marrickville, is a folksy neighbourhood of coffee shops and local delis serving farm-to-table produce. You can also try your hand at making a pot, ashtray or finger bowl during a 90-minute introduction to pottery class at Clay Sydney. Destination New South Wales has a new series of four Sydney Culture Trails that showcase various cultural sites, art galleries and museums around the city. sydney.com Spend a Sunday afternoon at Bondi: Sydney’s famous beach town is just 30 minutes or so from Town Hall station in the city centre. Catch the train to Bondi Junction and then hop on a bus, or take a bus that goes from the CBD straight to the beach. Have a coffee or smoothie from one of several hole-in-the-wall outlets then walk the six-kilometre Bondi to Coogee Coastal Walk, which is carved into the sandstone cliffs. On the way look out for dolphins or, between May and November, whales during their annual migration. If a 12-kilometre round trip is too long, stop at Tamarara Beach and walk or catch a bust back to Bondi. Have lunch at North Bondi Fish, a beach-chic restaurant which serves up a variety of local seafood and local beers. Don’t miss the Port Lincoln sardines with green tomatoes, capers and sourdough. sydneybespoketours.com/au Climb the Sydney Harbour Bridge with an Indigenous storyteller: On May 28 2000 about 250,000 people walked across the bridge to show their support for reconciliation between Australia’s Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples, an event described as the biggest demonstration of public support for a cause that has ever taken place in Australia. So even if you have clients who have done the Sydney Bridge Climb on a prevous visit, suggest a return experience but this time accompanied by an indigenous storyteller. Those on the three-hour tour climb the bridge’s summit before looking down on the shores of Gadigal land. They will see Sydney Harbour through the lens of thousands of years of Aboriginal history and heritage. bridgeclimb.com/climbs-prices/burrawa •

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Amazing Canada starts here

Direct flights to Canada from Manchester, Glasgow, Dublin and London Economy Class

Option Plus

Club Class

A321neoLR

Ergonomic seating and entertainment system

Priority services and extra baggage in Economy Class

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Greenest in class

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Be inspired by

Canada

• Canada’s comeback • Rendez-vous Canada 2022 news • 48 hours in Toronto • My journey: Newfoundland and Labrador • Canada’s mountains •

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selling canada

40 / Canada’s comeback

Canada’s Big

Adventures Canada has long been a ‘bucket list’ destination for UK travellers who are now, post-pandemic, converting that interest into bookings and planning trips that reveal more of the country, says Jessica Pook

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ur three-man kayak slides effortlessly across a marblestill lake, the silence only occasionally broken by the odd chirp that is too irregular and distant to warrant being called birdsong. Yet we were not alone. Over on the grassy bank a moose is munching on the twigs and buds of an aspen tree. The male, immediately recognizable by its huge antlers, gives us a cursory glance before nuzzling its long face and the distinctive flap of skin that covers its throat back into a feast of aquatic vegetation. Of all of Algonquin Provincial Park’s wildlife, moose are one of the most sought after species to see on any canoe or camping trip and this majestic creature had strolled into view just an hour into our daylong adventure. Our guide, Roland, explains that the moose population in Algonquin is healthy and that spring is the best time to see them as they come out in force to feed on the new sprouting plants in the ditches and open areas. He tells us that moose antlers are the fastest type of growing bone known on the planet: a moose may grow a set of antlers

weighing up to 25 kilograms in just five months! Algonquin, the oldest provincial park in Ontario and the first provincial park in Canada, is home to 7,630 square kilometres of canoe tripping opportunities and with 2,000 kilometres of canoe routes the park is perfect for a quick sample trip or for building a larger adventure amongst its backcountry. Campsites are marked and maintained, motorboats are restricted to a few lakes and access into the park is limited to the Highway #60 “corridor”. As a result, most of Algonquin is only accessible by canoe. About 250 kilometres north of Toronto, and about 260 kilometres west of Ottawa, Algonquin makes for a perfect and gentle introduction to Canada’s vast wilderness areas and wildlife.

Country life Canada remains a big bucket list trip for Brits but with 70% of visitors arriving via four airports – Montréal, Calgary, Vancouver and Toronto – most only see

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soaring high on THE BANFF GONDOLA, ALBERTA

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42 / Canada’s comeback a pinprick of what the country offers. Destination Canada is hoping to change this by introducing new initiatives that drive visitors to more rural parts of the country. The Honourable Randy Boissonnault, Canada’s Minister of Tourism and Associate Minister of Finance, spoke of Canada’s successful but challenging tourism recovery at this spring’s Rendez-vous Canada 2022 trade show in Toronto, saying: “Confidence and demand for travel to Canada is strong and we saw arrival figures in March recover to 58% compared to pre-pandemic levels.” He added: “So often we hear that after people come to Canada for the first time they end up coming back five times. On each visit they want to explore deeper and we want to make sure that we do everything we can to ensure that travel around Canada is seamless – which is why a new Federal Tourism Growth Strategy will focus on facilitating travel to more rural parts of the country.” Maureen Riley, Vice President at Destination Canada, said the tourist board has used the pandemic to rethink its tourism strategy going forward, saying: “There’s no denying that 2019 was a pinnacle year for Canada with arrival numbers reaching an all-time high, but we also noticed that some parts were starting to become quite busy with tourists. We want visitors to see more of what makes Canada truly unique.” And what is it that makes Canada stand out? Riley thinks it’s down to its geography and people. “Canada’s geography has helped to shape many Indiginous cultures. We want visitors to engage with and reconnect with Canada through its people.” Increased airlift is a main focus for Ski-i Alberta Ad 2.qxp_Layout 1 20/06/2022 16:41 Page 2

Destination Canada as well as engaging with the travel trade to “create a level of comfort” in selling more diverse itineraries. “Our focus is to create better accessibility to Atlantic Canada, Northern Canada and the Prairies,” says Riley. “These are areas that are considered off the beaten path, but are Canada at its most authentic. “We are working closely with the travel trade to arm them with the tools they need to sell more of Canada. The summer months are the most popular for the UK market, and we have certainly seen a bounce back in bookings for 2022. We know that traditional coach tours aren’t big sellers for the UK market so we tend to focus on individual packages.” Tour operators are reporting a spike in forward bookings for Canada. APT has launched a 2023 Canada & Alaska with Western USA touring programme in response to steep demand for longer haul travel next year. The nine tours include luxury coaches, Alaskan cruising with Holland America Line, rail journeys on the Rocky Mountaineer, and helicopter and light aircraft tours over national parks. Brad Bennetts, APT’s new UK Head of Sales & Business Development, said: ”Touring is a fantastic way for travel agents to supply the finest experiences, already neatly packaged up, to their clients. “We’ve done the hard work in bringing together all the show stopping elements, so they don’t have to.”

Polar bears near lazy bear lodge, Churchill, manitoba

“Canada’s geography has helped to shape so many Indiginous cultures. We want visitors to engage with and reconnect with Canada through its people” Maureen Riley, Vice President, Destination Canada

What’s new Tour Operators: New for 2023 is a Seaway Discovery Cruise with St. Lawrence Cruise Line, a seven-night trip that will travel from Kingston to Montréal and back.

exploring the coluMbia icefield

2 for 1 Lift Tickets

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*T&Cs apply, contact us for further details. Image: Marmot Basin Ski Resort.

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Cruising amongst the natural beauty of the 1000 Islands and the St. Lawrence River it will trace the historic routes of those early Upper Canada explorers. unDiscovered Tours in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, has three new craft liquor tours: Saskatoon Craft Brewery tour, Saskatoon Cocktail Tour and Saskatoon Craft Liquor tour. Frontiers North Adventures, in Churchill, Manitoba, will introduce its first Conservation Journey: Beluga Whales tour this summer and is taking bookings for 2023. It is also in the process of converting its fleet of tundra buggies to electric power, with plans to convert all 12 vehicles by 2030. The company is adding more departure cities, launching trips out of Montréal beginning autumn 2022, and by autumn 2023 will have direct trips from WInnipeg, Montréal and Calgary. Metis Crossing, Alberta, has launched three new tours: Vision Hopes & Dreams, a guided wildlife tour to see white bison, wood bison, plains bison,

northern lights at aurora village, yellowknife, NWT

elk and Percheron horses; Paddle into the Past, a four-hour tour including canoeing on the North Saskatchewan River; and Walk in our Mocs Archery Program, a two-hour experience learning archery, and cultural traditions. Parks Canada has nine new tours that will appeal to travellers interested in soft adventure, historical, natural history and Indigenous culture. From Old

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Ottawa’s striking Fairmont Château Laurier

Québec to Whale Country is a sevenday adventure through Québec’s whale country while Let’s Conquer Québec City is a three-day getaway that dives into the history of the province. 1000 Islands Helicopter Tours in Ontario has introduced a Seaway and Cider Tour: a heli tour viewing of Singer Castle, Boldt Castle, and shipwrecks, plus a tour of local cidery BUSL, a tasting flight of

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44 / Canada’s comeback four cider, a light meal and the return flight. Total flying time is 30 minutes. Attractions: Prince Edward Island’s 700-km Island Walk was unveiled during the pandemic. The walk can be done in sections or as one lengthy journey. Suggested itineraries from four to 14 days have been designed and tour operators have partnered to help with accommodation and transportation between stops. Qaumajuq Inuit Art Centre opened in 2021 at the Winnipeg Art Gallery. It showcases contemporary Inuit art. Inua, the inaugural show, runs until 2023. Opening next month in Saint John, New Brunswick, is Area 506’s Container Village, a waterfront hub designed entirely with shipping containers. It will have a stage for live performances, retail space and a waterfront beer garden. Local Guy Adventures offers Fat biking within the Cliffs of Fundy UNESCO Geopark in Nova Scotia. Well used oldgrowth forest trails lead to the ocean

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floor passing sculpted rock formations and ripples in the sand left by the tides. Splashifax is Halifax’s first ever floating water park located on the grounds of Hatfield Farm Cowboy Adventures in Hammonds Plains, Nova Scotia. It has a giant outdoor floating playground, obstacle park and is also home to the world’s largest inflatable unicorn! Accommodation: Forest Park Hotel in Jasper, Alberta, opened in June. A 88-room hotel was connected to the former Sawbridge Inn & Conference Centre to create a wilderness-inspired resort. A new 40-room boutique lodge opened earlier this year at Metis Crossing, and this summer stargazing pods will be introduced. Sépaq, the agency of the Government of Québec that manages parks and wildlife reserves, is introducing solar-powered Horizon chalets in 13 provincial parks, along with hunting and fishing packages. In 2023, Royalmount will open in Montréal, Québec. The 1,500-room

n co

tent

Discover more Canada feartures at sellingtravel.co.uk/articles

property is being built in the middle of an ecologically-rooted new development. Toronto will welcome both an Ace Hotel and a W Hotel in 2022. Gros Morne Inn opens its doors this year in Western Newfoundland and Labrador. Its 15 luxury guest rooms will be surrounded by the nature of Gros Morne National Park. Guests will be able to enjoy outdoor cedar tubs, a sauna and a menu of locally sourced food.

Book it with first class holidays The operator’s 13-day self-drive Peaks and Vineyards tour starts and ends in Vancouver and takes in Osoyoos (a lakefront community), Kelowna, Sun Peaks and Whistler. Included along the way is time in Vancouver, visits to the vineyards, cellar doors and fruit farms of the Okanagan region, hiking, golfing or biking at Sun Peaks and a night in Whistler Village. Prices start at £1,599pp, including flights. firstclassholidays.com; 0161 888 5630. •

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Venture outdoors in

Atlantic Canada With 43,000km of wild coastline, shifting tides and miles of hiking trails, Atlantic Canada was made for outdoor adventure

W

ith pre-departure testing a thing of the past, it’s easy for clients to experience Canada’s rugged beauty and ionic wildlife with coastal adventure and inland hikes across Atlantic Canada.

Kayak the rocks Clients can experience the highest tidal paddling experience on earth with Baymount Outdoor Adventures. Famed for having a tidal difference of 16 metres, the Bay of Fundy boasts a dramatic coastline from hidden caves to sandstone statues, fossil filled beaches and the entirely unique “flowerpot” rock formations found at The Hopewell Rocks in New Brunswick. There’s even the chance to kayak after dark to see the stars. Suggest that clients revisit the rocks at low tide for a “before and after” shot. tourismnewbrunswick.ca

NIGHT KAYAKING AROUND THE HOPEWELL ROCKS

See ocean giants During the spring and summer months it’s not uncommon to see a 10,000-year-old iceberg drifting down Iceberg Alley or a humpback whale feeding just off the coast of Newfoundland and Labrador. These ocean giants are best seen on a boat tour with Gatherall’s Puffin & Whale Tour which takes in the Witless Bay Ecological Reserve. Those looking for a more gentle excursion can paddle the Avalon Peninsula with A Little Cup of Sea which offers paddleboarding excursions from June through September. newfoundlandlabrador.com

WHALE SPOTTING IN NEWFOUNDLAND AND LABRADOR

Pack a picnic

ISLAND WALK ACROSS PRINCE EDWARD ISLAND

Hop on a ferry to Georges Island, located in the middle of Halifax harbour, and take in views of the city skyline. Explore historic tunnels, learn how the native Mi’kmaq people lived and walk the walls of Fort Charlotte. When hunger strikes there’s no better way to enjoy the surroundings than with a Parks Canada Perfect Picnic offered by Cable Wharf Kitchen & Patio. Finish with a guided Halifax Harbour kayak tour with Harbour Watercraft Tours and Adventures. novascotia.com

Take a hike

VIEW OF HALIFAX FROM GEORGES ISLAND

Prince Edward Island’s 435-mile Island Walk passes red sand beaches and verdant forests. Suggested itineraries from four to fourteen days have been designed and tour operators have partnered to help with accommodation and transportation between stops. Alternatively, the 169-mile Confederation Trail runs from the west of Prince Edward Island to the east. It’s best explored by bike or on foot. tourismpei.com •

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46 / Show report canada

Rendez-vousing in Toronto Selling Travel joined the first in-person Rendez-vous Canada since 2019. Held in Toronto, global buyers and sellers engaged in 48,000 appointments. Jessica Pook rounds up the news

Canada to invest in remote tourism A new Federal Tourism Growth Strategy will focus on facilitating travel to more rural parts of the country, Selling Travel was told at Rendezvous Canada 2022 in Toronto. The flagship event for Canada’s tourism industry, which hosted over 700 delegates, celebrated in-person meetings and the country being “open for business.” The Honourable Randy Boissonnault, Canada’s Minister of Tourism and Associate Minister of Finance, spoke of Canada’s successful but challenging tourism recovery, saying: “Confidence and demand for travel to Canada is strong and we saw arrival figures in March recover to 58% compared to pre-pandemic levels.” Canada’s hotel industry is also projecting

an increase in revenues, with some expecting a 20% increase over 2019. Boissonnault added: “Now is the time to be bold. We have built a long-term resilience plan which includes improved infrastructure, engaging with the community and preventing labour shortages.” He added: “We’re serious about rural and remote tourism because Canada is not known for its urban experience, it’s known for its great outdoors.” Speaking to Selling Travel at the show, Maureen Riley, VP International at Destination Canada, agreed, saying: “We now have a business strategy to increase air access into Canada as well as within Canada. We will combine that growth and infrastructure with the stories that we can

tell about our rural communities.” Some key new Indigenous experiences include the Metis Crossing, Alberta’s first major Métis cultural interpretive destination; the Klahoose Wilderness resort in British Columbia and Madaahoki farm in Ottawa. Rendez-vous Canada 2023 will be held in Québec City. rendezvouscanada.ca

viking

Viking to cruise the Great Lakes Viking Cruises has added a collection of Great Lakes itineraries for 2022, including a sailings between Toronto and Duluth. Designed specifically to reach the Great Lakes region, the Viking Octantis will remain in the Great Lakes until October 2022. Viking Octntis is the first expedition cruise ship to be introduced by Viking Cruises under its Viking Expeditions brand and will accommodate 378 guests in 189 staterooms and have a modern Scandinavian design. During Viking’s inaugural 2022 season, the company is operating four new itineraries in the Great Lakes. These are: Undiscovered Great Lakes, an eight-day journey from Thunder Bay to Milwaukee; the eightday Great Lakes Explorer, which sails the reverse route from Milwaukee to Thunder Bay; Niagara and the Great Lakes, an eightday sailing from Toronto to Milwaukee, and

Canadian Discovery, journeying from New York to Toronto. On the cruises guests will have the chance to see Niagara Falls, glide in a kayak through the UNESCO Biosphere of Georgian Bay, discover Toronto and learn about the Anishinaabe indigenous heritage of the Thunder Bay area. A second expedition vessel, the Viking Polaris, will debut later this year and will join the Viking Octantis in the Great Lakes for the 2023 season. This will be accompanied by a new 15-day voyage, a 15-day Great Lakes Collection sailing from Toronto to Duluth. “This region has been historically undiscovered by cruise lines and we are pleased with the strong demand. Our expedition ships were designed with the Great Lakes in mind,” said Torstein Hagen, Viking Chairman. vikingcruisescanada.com

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Canada’s Michelin debut Toronto is to become the first MICHELIN Guide destination in Canada. The MICHELIN Guide, which will be published in autumn 2022, will celebrate Toronto’s food scene and award MICHELIN Stars – One, Two or Three – to unparalleled cuisine. Toronto offers foodies “global eats and charming cafes as well as high-end dining experiences.” It is expected that a selection of restaurants will receive honours. The upcoming MICHELIN Guide Toronto selection will follow MICHELIN’s historical methodology, based on five universal criteria: 1) quality products; 2) the mastery of flavours; 3) the mastery of cooking techniques; 4) the personality of the chef in the cuisine; 5) consistency between each

visit (each restaurant is inspected several times a year). “For the first time in its history, the MICHELIN Guide lands in Canada, and our inspectors are excited to experience the impressive culinary landscape of Toronto,” said Gwendal Poullennec, International Director of the MICHELIN Guides. “This first selection for Canada’s largest city, and our first in the country, will represent the local flavours, international inspiration, and distinct creativity that makes Toronto’s dining scene world-class.” “Toronto’s culinary scene is as diverse as the city itself, and the MICHELIN Guide is the perfect way to celebrate this,” said Scott Beck, President & CEO of Destination Toronto. DestinationToronto.com

Ottawa Tourism has granted special museum status to 76 of Ottawa festivals, restaurants, concert venues, and attractions as a way to shine a light on some of the city’s cultural hidden gems. The Unofficial Museums campaign aims to attract travellers to Ottawa by celebrating culture and creativity in Canada’s capital. The newly anointed museums include the Unofficial Museum of Croffles (First Bite Treats), where you can experience Ottawa’s first-ever union of waffle and croissant, and the Unofficial Museum of Second-Hand Treasures (Highjinx), an antiques and vintage social enterprise shop where proceeds go towards providing food, clothing, and support to those in need within the community.

ottawa tourism

Ottawa showcases culture

Ottawa Tourism has also launched ‘the Third Night on Us’ offer to encourage visitors to stay longer and save: if they book a three-night or longer stay at a participating Ottawa hotel before October 10, 2022, the third night is on Ottawa Tourism. ottawatourism.ca

Food trails for Nova Scotia Nova Scotia has created three ‘Amazing Trails’ to showcase its food and drink scene. Foodies can discover some of Nova Scotia’s famous lobster on two seafoodfocused culinary trails: the Lobster Trail and the Chowder Trail. The Nova Scotia Lobster Trail includes 28 lobster trail stops. Clients can collect stamps

on a passport and enjoy traditional lobster dinners, lobster rolls and locally-inspired lobster dishes, or take on The Chowder trail featuring 36 stops. The province has also introduced Canada’s first winery, craft brewery, cidery and distillery trail, named the Good Cheer Trail. novascotia.com

NEWS IN BRIEF • New Indigenous exhibit set for Fort Edmonton Park Fort Edmonton Park, Alberta, reopened its doors on July 1 with a new signature exhibit named The Indigenous Peoples Experience. The exhibit explores the life of First Nations’ and Métis peoples local to the Beaver Hills (Edmonton) region, gathered through engagement with local Indigenous communities, historical documents, and research. fortedmontonpark.ca

• Travel Yukon launches

travel planning app

The new Yukon Sights and Sites app acts as an on- hand expert travel guide, providing essential information on driving routes and points of interest across the Yukon. It includes more than 200 Government of Yukon locations run by Historic Sites, Wildlife Viewing Program and Yukon Parks. The planning tool is free to download from both the App Store and Google Play. yukon.ca

• Toronto to welcome W

Toronto in 2022

The W Hotel will make its debut in Toronto this summer with the opening of W Toronto. The hotel will be a nine-storey, 254room luxury property on Bloor Street, in the trendy Yorkville neighbourhood. Other openings for 2022 include the Ace hotel, a 123-room property in the heart of the Garment District. Opened in August 2021, the sustainable-first 1 Hotel is located in the Kings Street West neighbourhood. Park Hyatt Toronto reopened in September 2021.

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Globe hopping

48 Six / Sponsored of the best... feature

Autumn in

Alberta Advise clients to visit Alberta in the autumn months, to enjoy the western province’s golden trees and emerald-green skies

A

lberta is often thought of as a destination for world-class skiing in winter and mountain exploration in the summer. But autumn in the province, which lasts from early September until late October, is not to be missed.

Hike amongst the larch trees Larch trees make their presence known come autumn, turning a golden shade of yellow from mid-September to early October. Banff National Park is replete with larch hikes, and Larch Valley is the most well-known of the bunch. Accessing the trail requires a trip to Moraine Lake followed by a 2.67-mile hike to reach the valley. Go early in the day before the trail gets crowded and book a spot on the Parks Canada shuttle to get there. Kananaskis Country is another great larch hike – and it’s often less crowded than Banff. Ptarmigan Cirque, Pocaterra Ridge, and Arethusa Cirque take in stunning mountain scenery. Be sure to dress in layers as the weather can change rapidly, and take sturdy shoes, water, snacks – and bear spray.

Watch for wildlife With five national parks and a plethora of provincial parks, wildlife is abundant in Alberta. Over 600 species call the province home including grizzly bears, black bears, wolves, cougars, deer, elk, bighorn sheep, bison, and plenty more. The mountain parks are a great place to spot wildlife, too. In Banff National Park, join

T BE S PO

ARS IN THE NATIONAL

PAR

KS

GOLDEN LARCH TREES IN BANFF NATIONAL PARK

JA S

P ER ’S D ARK S KIE

Banff Wildlife Tours on an Evening Wildlife Safari (evening is one of the best times to spots animals) or head to Jasper, Canada’s largest Rocky Mountain park, for an all-ages wildlife discover walk with Sundog Tours. S

Dancing night sky

Top tip

Take a road trip up the Icefields Parkway and stop at the Columbia Icefield Skywalk or go on the Columbia Icefield Adventure, available until mid-October. AUTUMN IS A GREAT TIME FOR HIKING

Did you know Alberta is where you’ll find the two largest dark sky preserves on the planet? These areas are protected from light pollution and you can see the stars (and possibly even the aurora borealis) twinkle like nowhere else. Jasper National Park is one of these preserves (the other being Wood Buffalo National Park in northern Alberta), and every autumn the night sky is celebrated during the Jasper Dark Sky Festival. Held in October, the festival hosts a roster of free and ticketed events for all ages to enjoy, including presentations from renowned scientists and artists. Advise clients to dress in warm layers and check out the festival’s tips for night-sky photography to capture the dazzling sights up above. •

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skyhigh

Toronto With towering skyscrapers comparable to New York and a network of islands on its doorstep, Toronto offers something for both city slickers and nature lovers, says Jessica Pook Day 1: City highs Morning: Hard to miss at 553 metres tall, the CN Tower stretches high over the city and is Toronto’s most iconic landmark. It held the title of tallest building in the world until 2007. A trip up to the observation tower reveals unobstructed views across the city and Lake Ontario, allowing visitors to get their bearings from dizzying heights. Daredevils can get a rush by scaling the outside of the tower as part of the EdgeWalk. Afternoon: Feet firmly back on the ground, take a 20-minute stroll along the waterfront to the St. Lawrence Market, previously named the best food market in the world. Located in historic Old Town

Toronto, this building has served as a farmers’ market for 200 years, selling cheese, mustards, oilve oils and a wide range of other local produce. It’s famous as being home to the Peameal bacon sandwhich – a Toronto staple. Evening: From the market take a 10-minute walk to the pedestrianonly Distillery District, which once housed the Gooderham & Worts Whiskey Distillery. Today its cobblestone streets and red-brick warehouses are lined with boutique shops, galleries and restaurants and bars, making it a vibrant arts and culture hub. El Catrin Distileria is always buzzing with friends sipping exotic-flavoured margaritas.

Indigenous graffiti

Book it with... Premier Holidays British Airways offers a three-night stay in the centrally-located Delta Hotel from £1,082pp including return flights from LondonHeathrow. Departures in September 2022. britishairways.com Iconic Toronto sign

Day 2: Boats and breweries Take a break from city life at Sugar beach

Toronto’s skyline

Morning: Take a 15-minute boat ride to the Toronto Islands – a chain of 15 small islands in Lake Ontario, right off of the mainland. These car-free islands are connected by boardwalks ideal for walkers and cyclists. Grab a coffee and head to Upper Deck to enjoy the view of the city skyline or head over to the historic Gibraltar Point Lighthouse, just a few minutes walk from Gibraltar beach. Afternoon: Join a 90-minute graffiti tour with the Tour Guys and explore trendy Queen West, historically the city’s garment district and now a major shopping destination. You’ll encounter Graffiti Alley, where walls tell a colourful

and meaningful story of past and present. Learn different perspectives on the graffiti issue from the property owners, the police and even the graffiti artists themselves and make your own decision on whether this is ‘art’ or ‘vandalism’. At the end of the tour, you ‘pay what you feel’. Evening: Pay a visit to the Steam and Whistle brewery, near the base of the CN Tower. The Roundhouse, where the beer is brewed, once served as the Canadian Pacific Rail company’s steam locomotive repair facility. The remaining tracks and trains make for an interesting talking point. Enjoy a tour with a tasting and hear about the brewing process. •

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50 / Interview

Talking Canada with

Caroline Proulx Minister of Tourism, Québec

The newly-launched Air Transat flight is the first air connection between the UK and Québec City. How important is this for Québec’s tourism recovery? It has been a top priority for the Government of Québec to invest in our airports and airlift. This year 10 million Canadian dollars has been spent on ensuring that there are direct flights connecting our main markets, which includes the UK. We are thrilled that it is now easier than ever before for Brits to visit Québec as a result of the new Air Transat London-Gatwick to Québec City flight, the first non-stop service to connect both cities. I think sometimes Canada can seem quite daunting because of its vast size but now Brits can get to Québec in just five hours – it’s practically short-haul! Why should agents’ book Québec now? Québec is a year-round destination. We’re finding that luxury adventure is a big trend for us. Québec offers rugged wilderness but still with an element of comfort. And in under 20 minutes you are in pure wilderness, with national Parks on the doorstep. Québec has also always scored very highly in North America for its great food and creative chefs. We often compete with New York and Los Angeles when it comes to

sleeping with wolves

Tourisme Laurentides

Caroline Proulx, Minister of Tourism for Québec, sits down with Jessica Pook to discuss the new direct Air Transat route to Québec City and the steps the province is taking to promote its sustainable tourism initiatives.

The Laurentides

“The beauty and passion of our French language and culture is what sets us apart from anywhere else in Canada” gastronomy and both Montréal and Québec City are now really showcasing the region’s locally grown product. We also have over 150 micro-breweries. What sets Québec apart from other destinations in Canada? The beauty and passion of our language and culture. Promoting and protecting the French language is sacred to us. It influences our cuisine, our culture and the warmth in which we welcome guests and is something completely unique to anywhere else in Canada. Also, our festivals and events are at the heart of Québec City. Festival d’été de Québec draws major artists from across the world. Sir Elton John came a couple of years ago and it completely sold out. Tell us about Québec’s Plan of Action for responsible and sustainable tourism development. In June 2020 we launched a comprehensive Tourism Recovery Plan for the province – the most expansive of all the Canadian provinces – in order to help the industry

navigate through the pandemic. Since then we have gone further by launching an official Plan of Action for responsible and sustainable tourism development, (the first in Canada) and have invested $30 million into green initiatives such as the development of electric car routes. Our electric car circuit enables tourists to rent an electric car for the entirety of their stay, stopping off at key attractions which all have recharging points. By 2030 you will only be able to buy an electric car in Québec. We’ve also secured UNESCO world heritage site status for Anticosti island and are looking into protecting Magdalen Island, a small archipelago in the Gulf of Saint Lawrence, against erosion and further climate change. What is your top recommendation for those visiting Québec? One of my most unforgettable travel experiences was sleeping with the wolves in Parc Omega. You stay overnight in these big luxury country houses with panoramic windows that separate you from the wolves but offer unrestricted views. We watched them as we dined and my kids absolutely loved getting so close to them. * The Air Transat flight operates once a week, on Wednesdays, and will operate from now until October. The airline has also resumed its London-Gatwick to Montréal service, a route that was shelved in 2019. bonjourquebec.com; airtransat.com •

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Biking in

Sun Peaks Set amongst the pine clad mountains of British Columbia lies Sun Peaks Resort, a haven for biking enthusiasts, where novices and experts can enjoy extensive trails and the mountain resort village, says Charlotte Flach Day 1: Start off slow Morning: Following a hearty breakfast, stroll through the attractive resort village to your rental shop, where you can pick-up your two day lift ticket and bike rental at Elevation Bike, Ski and Board. There’s also the option to rent e-bikes. If you are completely new to biking, you can begin with “An Introduction to Biking” to learn how to feel comfortable in the saddle. Afternoon: Having refuelled with tacos, pizza or burgers from one of the resort’s many lunch spots, meet your instructor to explore the novice terrain of the Progression Park. Split the four-hour “Discover Progression Park” lesson in two with a coffee break in the village to compare

notes with your instructor. Throughout the session you will learn about body positioning, stance, posture and bike control. The trails in the Progression Park will help to build confidence before moving on to the Sun Peaks Bike Park. For the first time this summer, bikers can access all three mountains offering close to 83 kms of trails. Evening: After an exhilarating day on the bike, head to one of many restaurants throughout the village and quench your thirst with a pint of local craft beer. Sun Peaks hosts summer concerts and this year’s line-up includes singer-songwriter Madison Olds, indie pop-band Sister Speak, and a weekend of tribute bands.

SUN PEAKS OFFERS TRAILS DOWN THE MOUNTAIN FOR ALL LEVELS

Book it with... SunPeaks Resort A four-hour Progression Park instruction session is $229 for up to three people, with bike rental and progression park lift from $69pp. A two-hour Discover Biking lesson costs $109 for up to three people, with bike rental from $33pp. sunpeaksresort.com

CELEBRATE A DAY OF BIKING WITH A COLD LOCAL CRAFT BEER

Day 2: Pedal to the metal SUN PEAKS VILLAGE

CYCLING AMONG WILDFLOWERS

Morning: Fuel up for another day of adventure with breakfast at one of the many cafés or restaurants in the Sun Peaks Village. Sample the finest fresh pastries at Bolacco Café, enjoy a refreshing smoothie at Vertical Café or take your time over an extended sit-down breakfast at Cahilty Creek Kitchen & Taproom. Afternoon: Now that you’ve gained confidence and skills in the Progression Park, you’re ready to head into the Sun Peaks Bike Park. However, if you are a beginner a second four-hour session, “Flow Green Park”, accompanied by a talented and experienced instructor, will show you how to safely make your way back

down the mountain. Don’t forget to take in the views of the valley and the surrounding peaks, as you ride the chairlift to the top of the trails. Explore the lift-access green trails and put the pedal to the metal on one of Sun Peaks’ newest trails, Level Up, a nine-kilometre top-to-bottom trail that has been designed for those new to the sport. Evening: After two full days on your bike, a quick stop by the Sun Peaks Massage Therapy to relax on their Hydro Massage Beds will put you to rights. As your aches melt away, start planning your next adventure – paddleboarding or canoeing on a local lake or hitting the fairways on the resort’s 18-hole course. •

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St. John's,

Newfoundland Jessica Pook takes a trip to Newfoundland, Canada’s most eastern province, and in St. John's discovers a characterful city that offers a warm welcome to everyone

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here’s a sign in the window of Fogtown Barber that states "we are fully booked until further notice". This is, no doubt, partly because it offers a great haircut, but the surge in business also follows the hiring of Serhii Firsikov, a Ukrainian who fled his war-torn country in May for a new life in St. John’s, Newfoundland. The province was the first in Canada to welcome Ukranian refugees and many, including Firsikov, have since settled and found employment in Canada’s easternmost province. Since his arrival, Firsikov has been welcomed into the community with a warmth that is commonly associated with Newfoundlanders and has been inundated with appointments and donations from locals looking for a tidy trim. Alas, a short back and sides isn’t my style, but having spent some time in St. John’s I have come to see for myself just how hospitable the locals are. Maybe it’s the Irish influence: St. John’s is the easternmost city in North America, closer to Dublin than to Vancouver. It’s estimated that at one time half of Newfoundland and Labrador's population had Irish roots due to the surge of immigrants from the Emerald Isle in the 18th and 19th centuries. Today, this cultural influence remains evident in the music scene and a distinct Gaelic twang. Although the Irish connection is strong, don’t expect a pint of Guinness in this part of the world – in Newfoundland they mostly drink iceberg beer!

Iceberg ahead It’s not uncommon between late May and early June to spot an iceberg as it makes its way from Greenland or Canada’s Arctic through iceberg alley and eventually south. These silent natural giants can be seen from vantage points such as Signal Hill or on a boat trip from a safe distance (we’ve all seen Titanic!) In the small fishing village of Quidi Vidi they are making the most of these seasonal visitors by brewing beer made from iceberg water. The bottled lager is brewed using ice formed tens of thousands of years ago which started as compacted snow, meaning there are no minerals – which gives the golden beer a uniquely light taste. I take a swig, not sure what to expect, and am pleasantly surprised at how refreshingly crisp it is - and very cold. And icebergs aren’t the only giants roaming the seas here. Between May and September the world’s largest population of humpback whales return each year to Newfoundland and Labrador to feed on capelin, krill, and squid. They can often be seen breaching the waters just off the coastline.

Colourful and creative Nestled in a steep valley, Quidi Vidi itself could be easily mistaken for somewhere in Norway, complete as it is with colourful houses straddling the hillside and fishing boats bobbing in the calm harbour. The small village is also home to Quidi Vidi Village Artisans Studios, a cooperative

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BRIAN CAREY

SELLING CANADA Globe hopping

journey Six ofMy the best... /

It's not uncommon to see es icebergs as they mmak their way fro Greenland

that invites studio artisans to participate in a series of workshops and training opportunities to develop their business skills and advance their creative techniques. One talented local tells me about her knitting business and shows me a pile of 'sensory blankets' she’s made for young people with anxiety. Splashes of creativity and colour are commonplace around St. John’s and none more so than its famed ‘Jellybean row’, with its hilly streets adorned with rainbow-coloured houses. It’s said that fisherman started matching their boats to their houses so that the wives knew when to put dinner on! Nowadays the residents take it upon themselves to keep facades as brightly coloured as possible.

Cod is king Throughout my time in Newfoundland I’m treated to some of the freshest seafood, ranging from lobster rolls to oysters to cod and chips, all washed down with a 'Bloody Caesar' which I later find out is a concoction made with clam juice. But there’s one fishy encounter that I couldn’t leave without ticking off. Kissing the cod, also known as 'Being Screeched in', is a local tradition which requires Newfoundlander native, Skipper Dickie, a codfish and a shot of screech - a potent rum made on the island. It takes full concentration to both understand and repeat the words

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of Skipper Dickie who asks “Is ye a Screecher?”, to which we reply “Deed I is me old cock, and long may your big jib draw!” before giving the unsuspecting cod a kiss and then washing the taste away with a shot of screech. And just like that I’m an honorary Newfoundlander! The province hopes to entice many of its former residents to 'come home' this year for a post-pandemic celebration. The 2022 Come Home Year invitation serves as a reminder of what the province has to offer, including its wild coastline, colourful cities and fresh local produce. All provincial Historic Sites across Newfoundland and Labrador are offering free regular admission in 2022. This includes entry to Point Amour Lighthouse, Newman Wine Vaults, Heart’s Content Cable Station and Beothuk Interpretation Centre. newfoundlandlabrador.com • Book it with... Canadian Affair Canadian Affair offers a seven-night St. John's and Toronto short break with four nights in St. John's and three nights in Toronto. The package includes flights from the UK and internal flights from St. John's to Toronto. Priced from £1,122pp. canadianaffair.com

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54 Six / Thematic of the best... escapes

King of the mountains Rugged mountainscapes form Canada’s spine, creating epic adventures for clients year round. Here are four suggestions to inspire seasonal travel, says Jessica Pook Québec Set within the Laurentian Mountains northwest of Montréal, Tremblant comes alive in the summer months with a jam-packed events calendar that transforms the resort through sound, sights and tastes. Taking place July 8-10 is Les Rythmes Tremblant which offers three days of free live music spanning a range of genres, whilst Tremblant International Blues Festival, July 14-16, will see melancholic blues musicians take to the stage. Select dates throughout July and August will also welcome Banzaï, an eclectic group of dancers, comedians and entertainers coming together for an unforgettable show. Inbetween music sessions clients can explore the mountains with a raft of outdoor activities including canoeing, hiking, whitewater rafting, cycling and horseback riding to enjoy. Early risers can make the 2,871-foot journey to summit Tremblant and be rewarded with a memorable sunrise vista of the Laurentians. There’s also the option to sit back and scale the mountain from the comfort of the Panoramic Gondola, open during summer and fall. tremblant.ca

hiking in THE Laurentian Mountains, QuÉbec

BRITISH COLuMBIA Warmer weather and more greenery temps bears and their cubs to begin to emerge from their dens hungry for berries and salmon after a long hibernation. Whistler and Blackcomb Mountains are home to more than 60 black bears, offering visitors the chance to observe the animals in their natural habitat. From mid-March there’s the chance to go bear spotting in a 4x4, traversing the largest concentration of bear ranges in the region. Take an even closer look on a short walk to feeding sites and wander through forests where bear activity is common. After a day of bear spotting, head back to the Fairmont Chateau Whistler to enjoy the outdoor hot tub or Scandinave Spa with views of the alpine scenery. With the ski season wrapping up in late April, spring is a great time to catch an end-of-season festival such as the World Ski and Snowboard Festival at Whistler Blackcomb with musical acts, art exhibitions, and non-stop nightlife taking over the village for ten days. Alternatively, check out Snowbombing at Sun Peaks Ski Resort for the three days of dance tunes. hellobc.com

hungry bear enjoying BC’s wildflowers

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nova scotia Canada does not fall short when it comes to dazzling fall colours – with maple trees turning fiery orange and red – but Nova Scotia’s Cape Breton Island is arguable one of the best places to see this seasonal change. From late September to October, the mixture of sea and mountains makes for a spectacular photo opportunity. The ‘colouring’ on Cape Breton Island is so vivid that there’s even a festival dedicated to this time of year. The Celtic Colours Festival celebrates autumn’s glory with an array of concerts, farmers markets and cultural experiences. A great way to experience the seasonal change is to hike or drive the Cabot Trail – which does a complete loop around the coast of the island – through the Cape Breton Highlands National Park, with its rolling hills and valleys decked out in their finest fall colours of crimson, ambers, and golds. These are particularly striking set against the rugged coast and crashing waves of the Atlantic Ocean. Stop at lookouts on Smokey Mountain, North Mountain and MacKenzie Mountains for incredible sunset views and always be on the lookout for eagles, deer, bears, whales, fox and, of course, a moose crossing the road. Once the sun sets, take the opportunity to stargaze – thanks to the little light pollution on the island – before returning to a cosy cabin lodge. cbisland.com

Cape Breton Island showing off its autumn colours

alberta The ski areas around Banff, Lake Louise and Jasper are world class and lay claim to one of the longest ski seasons in North America (open until May). There are 65 ski hills across Alberta, ranging from huge areas with multiple gondolas to small ‘locals’ hills’. Whether you are booking a group of ski experts or a family with differing levels of skills and interests, Alberta is perfect – book an all-out powder trip or a winter-themed tour. Norquay is famous for its atmospheric night skiing; Lake Louise has a huge snow tube park; Marmot Basin is popular with boarders for its terrain park of jumps, rails and half pipes; and Sunshine Village has a schedule of activities including snow-shoeing, tobogganing, scavenger hunts, smores by the fire and hot tub bingo. Away from the ski slopes there are activities like dog sledding, snowmobiling, bobsleighing, tobogganing, snow tubing and ice climbing offered by several operators. Must dos include ice walking into the frozen Maligne Canyon, photographing the jewel-like frozen bubbles under the surface of Lake Abraham or star-gazing under a blanket at the top of the Banff Gondola. Fun festivals include Edmonton’s Ice on Whyte, where artists carve quirky art out of ice, whilst Jasper in January is a three-week party embracing the cold with fireworks and wine and food tastings..travelalberta.com

Hit the slopes in Alberta

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Trade talk

Trade talk

56 / The review

The review /

news

AMR showcases collection of worldwide resorts at dedicated agent event

by Jessica Pook Almost 200 agents attended the AMR™ Collection/CARA Hotel Marketing New Hotel Showcase Event to learn all about AMR ™ Collection’s portfolio of 108 resorts, which span across Mexico, the Caribbean, Central America and Europe. Despite the challenges posed by the pandemic, the hotel brand has continued to grow its portfolio over the last year with the opening of seven resorts since August 2021. Agents were invited to take a virtual tour of the 268-room Secrets Moxché Playa del Carmen in Mexico, which opened in April this year, and the 268-room Dreams Karibana Cartagena Golf & Spa Resort in Colombia, the first AMR™ Collection resort in South America. Part of the Hyatt family, AMR™ Collection plans to welcome seven new resorts in the Americas with all resorts in this region now part of World of Hyatt. Agents got a sneak peak of all-inclusive Secrets Impression Moxché, due to open in October this year in Mexico. It will be the first Impression concept resort in the portfolio. Zoëtry Marigot Bay St. Lucia is earmarked for a December 2022 opening and will be the brand’s first resort on the island. And Secrets Impression Isla Mujeres in Mexico will open in December. Looking further ahead, AMR Collection will unveil Secrets Tides Punta Cana in the

Dominican Republic in 2023. The new-build resort will be the brand’s third in Punta Cana and its 13th resort in the Caribbean. Since expanding into Europe in 2019, AMR™ Collection has grown to 49 resorts across four destinations, including notable openings such as Dreams Calvia Mallorca, the first Dreams Resort & Spa in the Balearic Islands, and Alua Zakynthos, the first AMR™ Collection resort in Greece. Seven agents bagged themselves a stay at the brand’s luxury properties, including Darren Cummins from Blue Bay Travel who won a seven-night stay at Breathless Cancun Soul Resort and Spa, and Designer Travel’s Bonni Foulds who won a five-night stay split between Secrets Lanzarote Resort and Spa & Dreams Lanzarote Playa Dorada. amrcollection.com

news

NEWS TO USE • Jest2holidays offers free

child place on every flight Jet2holidays has a new campaign that sees a free child place added onto every flight departing from the UK in June, July and August 2022. The offer is open to Jet2holidays booked through an independent travel agent that sees clients returning on or before August 31 2022. Bookings must have at least two passengers paying the full adult price. trade.jet2holidays.com

• New training from Michigan Michigan is partnering with Travel Uni on a brand-new training platform called ‘Pure Michigan Expert’. Any agent completing the training before September 30, 2022 will automatically be placed into a prize draw to win one of two places on a trade familiarisation visit to the Great Lakes State, which is planned for 2023. michigan.org

• ANI Private Resorts

relaunches

ÀNI Private Resorts, which describes itself as “the world’s first collection of private resorts” offering “rare hideaways”, has relaunched with a new brand identity and more guest privileges. Developments include a new website, an enhanced 1-2-1 guest/ staff tailored offering and a 10% commission on single group booking made by travel agents. aniprivateresorts.com

• Free hotels nights in Dubai Visit Dubai is offering free nights at hotels and resorts that include Caesars Palace Bluewaters Island and Atlantis The Palm as part of a stayseven- nights-pay-for-five offer. visitdubai.com

sellingtravel.co.uk

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South Africa ready for bookings bonanza by Steve Hartridge South Africa has removed its remaining COVID-19 entry rules, marking what the country’s tourism minister calls “the return to life as we knew it before COVID-19”. There are now no testing requirements to visit South Africa, for both vaccinated or unvaccinated travellers, face masks are no longer required and there are no size limits on gatherings – measures that will go a long way in reviving the flagging tourism sector, said Lindiwe Sisulu. “Travellers are now able to participate in more activities, including attending big music and sports events that not only contribute to our country’s appeal but also to our economy,” she said. Kgomotso Ramothea, Acting Hub Head UK & Ireland, South African Tourism added: “We are delighted with this news. Visitor numbers to South Africa from the UK and Ireland have been steadily increasing since the removal of the red list restrictions [in October last year], but the end of COVID-19 measures, coupled with increased capacity from Virgin Atlantic, will give tourism the boost it needs to reach or even exceed the record numbers experienced in 2019.” Virgin will recommence its daily winter service to Cape Town on November 5 and also flies daily to Johannesburg.

An airline spokesman said: “We welcome the news that South Africa has removed all remaining Covid-19 travel restrictions. This is another positive step towards frictionless air travel for our customers. “Customers love taking advantage of the winter sun, the safaris and the worldfamous wine region. We can’t wait to seamlessly fly to South Africa again.” Alison Butler, Explore’s Product Manager for Africa, commented: “We are delighted for our customers that travel to South Africa is free of Covid rules and regulation stress. “Now our South Africa trips are once again relaxing and enjoyable experiences for our customers.”

South Africa has long been a favourite long haul choice for Riviera Travel’s customers, said Will Sarson, the company’s Head of Strategy & Innovation, and he anticipates heightened interest and bookings. “We know how disappointed so many have been not to visit over the last couple of years. We expect a huge boost to forward bookings, and in particular those looking to travel in the second half of 2022 who may have previously been on the fence,” he said. Kerry Golds, Chief Tour Operating Officer of A&K, commented: “South Africa has always been a firm favourite with our clients – from Cape Town’s incredible foodie scene to the diverse landscapes and wildlife, there’s something for everyone. “On the back of restrictions lifting our team immediately saw a steady growth in enquiries, especially for that key winter period later this year.” Nadja du Toit, Director of Operations for Africa at G Adventures, said the company has seen saw a spike in both customer confidence and bookings each time a destination lifted Covid restrictions. “South Africa will be no exception. This news comes at a great time, as the UK summer time and Africa’s winter time is the best time for game drives in the region.” southafrica.net

The ultimate London experience launches City Cruises London, The View from The Shard and Tower of London have launched the Official Central London Experience bundled ticket package, bringing together for the first time packaged access to three iconic London attractions: City Cruises Thames River Cruise, The View from The Shard and Tower of London. This unique ticket package is now available for purchase and retails for £74.99 per adult and £54.99 per child, representing a 10% saving. The Official Central London Central Experience includes: views of London from the water during a cruise down the Thames River, 360-degree views of the city from the tallest building in London,

sellingtravel.co.uk

the Shard, and exploration of the Tower of London, with an up-close look at the Crown Jewels, the Bloody Tower, and the Medieval Palace. “We are thrilled to be a part of this exclusive offering, inviting guests aboard our Thames River Cruise to take in the best views of the city from a whole new perspective, one that simply should not be missed,” said Kyle Haughton, Managing Director, City Cruises London. “As our tourism industry continues to bounce back and traveller confidence returns, this summer is the ideal time for visitors and locals alike to experience our city’s best attractions.” cityexperiences.com •


Trade talk

Trade talk

56 / The review

The review /

news

AMR showcases collection of worldwide resorts at dedicated agent event

by Jessica Pook Almost 200 agents attended the AMR™ Collection/CARA Hotel Marketing New Hotel Showcase Event to learn all about AMR ™ Collection’s portfolio of 108 resorts, which span across Mexico, the Caribbean, Central America and Europe. Despite the challenges posed by the pandemic, the hotel brand has continued to grow its portfolio over the last year with the opening of seven resorts since August 2021. Agents were invited to take a virtual tour of the 268-room Secrets Moxché Playa del Carmen in Mexico, which opened in April this year, and the 268-room Dreams Karibana Cartagena Golf & Spa Resort in Colombia, the first AMR™ Collection resort in South America. Part of the Hyatt family, AMR™ Collection plans to welcome seven new resorts in the Americas with all resorts in this region now part of World of Hyatt. Agents got a sneak peak of all-inclusive Secrets Impression Moxché, due to open in October this year in Mexico. It will be the first Impression concept resort in the portfolio. Zoëtry Marigot Bay St. Lucia is earmarked for a December 2022 opening and will be the brand’s first resort on the island. And Secrets Impression Isla Mujeres in Mexico will open in December. Looking further ahead, AMR Collection will unveil Secrets Tides Punta Cana in the

Dominican Republic in 2023. The new-build resort will be the brand’s third in Punta Cana and its 13th resort in the Caribbean. Since expanding into Europe in 2019, AMR™ Collection has grown to 49 resorts across four destinations, including notable openings such as Dreams Calvia Mallorca, the first Dreams Resort & Spa in the Balearic Islands, and Alua Zakynthos, the first AMR™ Collection resort in Greece. Seven agents bagged themselves a stay at the brand’s luxury properties, including Darren Cummins from Blue Bay Travel who won a seven-night stay at Breathless Cancun Soul Resort and Spa, and Designer Travel’s Bonni Foulds who won a five-night stay split between Secrets Lanzarote Resort and Spa & Dreams Lanzarote Playa Dorada. amrcollection.com

news

NEWS TO USE • Jest2holidays offers free

child place on every flight Jet2holidays has a new campaign that sees a free child place added onto every flight departing from the UK in June, July and August 2022. The offer is open to Jet2holidays booked through an independent travel agent that sees clients returning on or before August 31 2022. Bookings must have at least two passengers paying the full adult price. trade.jet2holidays.com

• New training from Michigan Michigan is partnering with Travel Uni on a brand-new training platform called ‘Pure Michigan Expert’. Any agent completing the training before September 30, 2022 will automatically be placed into a prize draw to win one of two places on a trade familiarisation visit to the Great Lakes State, which is planned for 2023. michigan.org

• ANI Private Resorts

relaunches

ÀNI Private Resorts, which describes itself as “the world’s first collection of private resorts” offering “rare hideaways”, has relaunched with a new brand identity and more guest privileges. Developments include a new website, an enhanced 1-2-1 guest/ staff tailored offering and a 10% commission on single group booking made by travel agents. aniprivateresorts.com

• Free hotels nights in Dubai Visit Dubai is offering free nights at hotels and resorts that include Caesars Palace Bluewaters Island and Atlantis The Palm as part of a stayseven- nights-pay-for-five offer. visitdubai.com

sellingtravel.co.uk

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South Africa ready for bookings bonanza by Steve Hartridge South Africa has removed its remaining COVID-19 entry rules, marking what the country’s tourism minister calls “the return to life as we knew it before COVID-19”. There are now no testing requirements to visit South Africa, for both vaccinated or unvaccinated travellers, face masks are no longer required and there are no size limits on gatherings – measures that will go a long way in reviving the flagging tourism sector, said Lindiwe Sisulu. “Travellers are now able to participate in more activities, including attending big music and sports events that not only contribute to our country’s appeal but also to our economy,” she said. Kgomotso Ramothea, Acting Hub Head UK & Ireland, South African Tourism added: “We are delighted with this news. Visitor numbers to South Africa from the UK and Ireland have been steadily increasing since the removal of the red list restrictions [in October last year], but the end of COVID-19 measures, coupled with increased capacity from Virgin Atlantic, will give tourism the boost it needs to reach or even exceed the record numbers experienced in 2019.” Virgin will recommence its daily winter service to Cape Town on November 5 and also flies daily to Johannesburg.

An airline spokesman said: “We welcome the news that South Africa has removed all remaining Covid-19 travel restrictions. This is another positive step towards frictionless air travel for our customers. “Customers love taking advantage of the winter sun, the safaris and the worldfamous wine region. We can’t wait to seamlessly fly to South Africa again.” Alison Butler, Explore’s Product Manager for Africa, commented: “We are delighted for our customers that travel to South Africa is free of Covid rules and regulation stress. “Now our South Africa trips are once again relaxing and enjoyable experiences for our customers.”

South Africa has long been a favourite long haul choice for Riviera Travel’s customers, said Will Sarson, the company’s Head of Strategy & Innovation, and he anticipates heightened interest and bookings. “We know how disappointed so many have been not to visit over the last couple of years. We expect a huge boost to forward bookings, and in particular those looking to travel in the second half of 2022 who may have previously been on the fence,” he said. Kerry Golds, Chief Tour Operating Officer of A&K, commented: “South Africa has always been a firm favourite with our clients – from Cape Town’s incredible foodie scene to the diverse landscapes and wildlife, there’s something for everyone. “On the back of restrictions lifting our team immediately saw a steady growth in enquiries, especially for that key winter period later this year.” Nadja du Toit, Director of Operations for Africa at G Adventures, said the company has seen saw a spike in both customer confidence and bookings each time a destination lifted Covid restrictions. “South Africa will be no exception. This news comes at a great time, as the UK summer time and Africa’s winter time is the best time for game drives in the region.” southafrica.net

The ultimate London experience launches City Cruises London, The View from The Shard and Tower of London have launched the Official Central London Experience bundled ticket package, bringing together for the first time packaged access to three iconic London attractions: City Cruises Thames River Cruise, The View from The Shard and Tower of London. This unique ticket package is now available for purchase and retails for £74.99 per adult and £54.99 per child, representing a 10% saving. The Official Central London Central Experience includes: views of London from the water during a cruise down the Thames River, 360-degree views of the city from the tallest building in London,

sellingtravel.co.uk

the Shard, and exploration of the Tower of London, with an up-close look at the Crown Jewels, the Bloody Tower, and the Medieval Palace. “We are thrilled to be a part of this exclusive offering, inviting guests aboard our Thames River Cruise to take in the best views of the city from a whole new perspective, one that simply should not be missed,” said Kyle Haughton, Managing Director, City Cruises London. “As our tourism industry continues to bounce back and traveller confidence returns, this summer is the ideal time for visitors and locals alike to experience our city’s best attractions.” cityexperiences.com •


Trade talk

58 / Show report AUSTRALIA

In recovery mode Australia’s premier showcase of its tourism products and experiences took place in Sydney. Steve Hartridge reports from the Australian Tourism Exchange (ATE)

UK leads rush back to Oz Australia is on track to recover its pre-Covid visitor numbers by 2024, delegates - including 19 UK tour operators – at ATE in Sydney were told. By early May, forward bookings [to Australia] from its core 15 markets, which include the UK, had recovered to 65% of pre-Covid levels when compared to the same week in 2019, said Phillipa Harrison, Managing Director of Tourism Australia. The UK is among those leading the rush of visitors: flight bookings by Brits are now close to 70% of 2019 volumes. And a study by Oxford Economics predicts that international visitor numbers to Australia will recover fully by 2024. “We kept going (through the pandemic). We know that the planning period for coming to Australia has traditionally been months and years, although that is changing, and we kept telling our stories through our PR and social media channels,”

said Harrison. “We are optimistic about the future...we haven’t been standing still. We have some great new products and have been polishing a few old favourites too.” Speaking a few weeks later at a Tourism Australia event in London, Harrison said the country has opened around 100 new hotels, with 12,000 rooms, in the last two years. She also revealed that a new Tourism Australia campaign will launch in the autumn, with details to follow. “We will be focusing on Australia beyond the beaches and outback,” she said.

Brits on the move out west UK visitors have been quick to head back to Western Australia since the state reopened its borders in March, with 9,000 arriving and staying an average of 31 days in 2022, compared to 18 days in 2019. Overall flight bookings by visitors from the UK to Perth between June and December 2022 are already at 65% of 2019 levels, said Roger Cook, Western Australia’s Deputy Premier. Singapore Airlines flies three times a day to Perth, with convenient UK connections. A new Jetstar service links Margaret River – known for its craft breweries, wineries, beaches and farm-focused festivals – with Melbourne. westernaustralia.com

NEWS IN BRIEF • Twin names for cities Tourism Australia is adopting dual-names for its capital cities and other locations by using the known Aboriginal name alongside the English name (for example, Sydney/Warrane and Perth/ Boorloo). The move acknowledges the traditional owners of the land but hopes to incorporate 60,000 years of Indigenous custodianship, language and knowledge into the mainstream consciousness. visitrasalkhaimah.com

• New in the Top End Drovers Dream at Kings Creek Station in The Northern Territory’s Top End now features 10 fullyself-contained glamping tents on their own escarpment facing the George Gill range. The tents are surrounded by a cattle station and bush. Try a camel burger from the station shop. kingscreekstation.com.au

• Deep art in Townsville The Museum of Underwater Art in Townsville, Queensland, features a series of major artworks located on the Great Barrier Reef. The sculptures, created to inspire and educate the world about reef conservation, are the work of UK artist Jason deCaires Taylor. moua.com

• Ride the Blue Mountains Scenic World in the Blue Mountains, New South Wales, has reopened. Visitors can step aboard the world’s steepest train, the Scenic Railway, view the rainforest along the Scenic Walkway and ride a new 270-metre-high cableway above the Jamison Valley. scenicworld.co.au

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africa

INDABA returns Jo Austin attended INDABA – Africa’s largest travel trade show – in Durban to hear about the latest news and product updates from the region

Reigniting tourism in Africa Africa’s Travel INDABA returned to Durban after an absence of two and the city put on a determined show in spite of recent devastating floods in the region. Whilst domestic and regional travel saw a surge in activity during the pandemic, international recovery is already recovering, according to South African Tourism’s Acting CEO, Themba Khumalo (TK) who raised prospects for a single visa for Southern Africa and airline collaboration on major routes through Star Alliance membership. Added Khumalo: “The shape of our industry has changed, with new entrepreneurs coming into the market and an upswing in young talent. “Visitors are looking for purposeful and meaningful travel and we believe that South Africa can offer that through its human stories, wellness offerings and sustainable experiences. We are reviewing our entire grading system to include ‘green’ choices’ as we know that leisure visitors are looking beyond the destination”. Said Ravi Pillay, Kwa-Zulu Natal MEC for Economic Development: “We look forward to the economic benefits so desperately needed from the return of international tourism and beyond developments such as the cruise terminal, the Durban Eye, and

NEWS IN BRIEF • Rapid Cape Town Cape Town has launched an interactive guide featuring rapid videos of lesser-known experiences. ‘Find your Freedom’ uses the latest digital technology to introduce foodie, urban and nature experiences. capetowntravel

• New Rovos rail trails Rovos Rail has upgraded its luxury service by completing a major refurb of its carriages. New travel experiences include an epic 14-night voyage from Cape Town to Dar es Salaam. rovos.com

hotel openings for Hilton and Radisson Blue. We are passionate about township and rural development and the promotion of microbusinesses in the region”. Speaking at her first Indaba, Helen Austin, Specialist Product Purchasing Manager, Alfred& by Kuoni said: “I’ve seen some great new initiatives to aid recovery and focus on sustainability and conservation which are perfect for our new tailormade sub-brand for Africa and Asia, Alfred& by Kuoni.” Reshma Shah, Optimal Travel Services, noticed plenty of responsible tourism selling opportunities in Southern Africa. He said: “More transparent pricing makes it an easier destination to package and I will certainly be selling honeymoons in Mozambique.” indaba-southafrica.co.za

ATTA straddles Africa The African Travel Tourism Association (ATTA) is “the voice” of African tourism, representing tourism products across 21 African countries with almost 600 members. Said Chris Mears, ATTA ceo: “We have the biggest private sector stand at INDABA and see this event as providing the chance for someone setting up a company to build relationships”. atta.travel

• Big Five move in Babanango Game Reserve is a community project in KZN which will see one of the largest translocation of endemic animal species to create a new Big Five safari destination in the Umfolozi Valley. The project will employ 200 people and includes four lodges and school camps. africanhabitat.org

• Room boom in Goma Serena Hotels is expanding into Goma, DR Congo, with a 109 -room five-star property on the shores of Lake Kivu. Guests will be able to visit Virunga National Park, home to mountain gorillas. serenahotels.com

• Blyde River walkway The Mpumalanga community will benefit from new jobs and a shareholding when God’s Window Skywalk opens in the Blyde River Canyon Nature Reserve. The 12-metre glass walkway is due for completion in 2023. mpumalanga.com

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60 / Show report MIDDLE EAST

Meet in the middle Selling Travel toured the stands at the ATM 2022 Middle East Tourism Summit in Dubai. Here’s the latest news from across the region

UAE to invest in tourism The UAE and wider Middle East region needs to invest in new ideas, technology and embrace inclusivity in order for its tourism sector to recover and prosper, it was said at the ATM 2022 Middle East Tourism Summit in Dubai. The B2B travel exhibition in the Middle East welcomed delegates in person to discuss tourism strategies going forward. H.E. Dr Ahmad Belhoul Al Falasi, Minister of State for Entrepreneurship and SMEs & Chairman of Emirates Tourism Council of the UAE, said: “For the UAE hospitality accommodation sector, investment in rooms and keys remains a primary focus as evidenced by a 5% growth in the number of rooms compared to 2019 levels, with a variation of service levels and accommodation type.” According to recent forecasts, Governments across the region are investing heavily in their tourism industry, with Bahrain spending $492 million of tourism capital investment in 2020, for

NEWS IN BRIEF • Ras stays balanced Ras Al Khaimah Tourism Development is marketing the destination as a ‘nature-focused’ destination with its new Balanced Tourism initiative. Key objectives included avoiding over-tourism, as well as promoting environment, cultural, conservation and livability sustainability. It hopes to become the regional leader in sustainable tourism by 2025. visitrasalkhaimah.com

• Time to expand

example, and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia earmarking one trillion dollars to its travel and tourism sector through to 2030. Belhoul Al Falasi added: “As the customer demand for elevated tourism experiences continues to evolve, we see technology as an important investment area in the future. So, while recovery is going well, we need to be mindful of being equitable in our recovery to ensure that the whole ecosystem benefits.” wtm.com

Saudi’s sustainable future Saudi Arabia has seen a surge in domestic and international visitors, it was claimed at the ATM Saudi Forum. “Our recovery in the domestic market has been substantial; in the first quarter of 2022 we exceeded last year’s targets,” said Fahd Hamidaddin, Chief Executive Officer, The Saudi Tourism Authority. “On the international front, we have recovered almost 83%. “Our target for this year is to reach over 70 million visitors. The kingdom is investing in sustainability initiatives and has allocated 30% of Saudi land to be reserves and rewilding 21 species, including the Arabian leopard. visitsaudi.com

Time Hotels has revealed plans to expand its portfolio by 40%, which will see an additional 21 properties across the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Sudan. As apart of the expansion, Time Hotels recently opened Time Moonstone Hotel Apartments in Fujairah and has plans to open Time Coral Nuweiba Resorts in Egypt later this year. timehotels.com

• Dubai for foodies The new MICHELIN Guide Dubai features 69 restaurants, 11 MICHELIN-Starred and 14 Bib Gourmand restaurants. Dubai is the latest addition to the 35 MICHELIN Guide destinations across North America, South America, Asia Pacific and Europe. visitdubai.com

• More room in Qatar Le Royal Méridien Doha has opened its doors in Qatar. The new hotel, part of Marriott Bonvoy’s portfolio, is the latest to join Qatar’s growing number of new hotels (over 100) as the country gears up to host the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™ later this year. visitqatar.qa

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USA

Orlando embraces IPW The U.S. Travel Association’s IPW trade show, which took place this June in Orlando, confirmed that the USA is definitely open for business, says Lauren Jarvis

USA calling Drawing together almost 4,800 travel professionals from more than 60 countries, the 53rd IPW travel trade show, held at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, was an exciting event showcasing the new developments and products enticing holidaymakers back to the USA. During the event – hosted by Visit Orlando and Visit Florida – Chris Thompson, CEO of Brand USA, announced a new National Travel and Tourism Strategy, driven by the U.S. Department of Commerce, to help tourism recover postCovid and increase visitation numbers by removing entry barriers and promoting the US overseas, with the aim of welcoming 90 million international visitors, spending

around $279 billion annually by 2027. “Brand USA is taking several steps to rebuild and amplify consumer confidence, from helping partners increase their global reach, to implementing programs that support enriching experiences for travellers visiting US destinations in compelling new ways,” Thompson told IPW delegates. ipw.com

Orlando ready for take off IPW city Orlando unveiled its new global campaign, ‘Unbelievably Real Orlando’, promoting the city’s theme parks, dining and outdoor attractions. Meanwhile Brightline Orlando trains will connect Orlando International Airport to Miami in early 2023. A new district, Lake Nona, offers stylish accommodation at the high-tech Wave Hotel, an open-air entertainment and dining destination built around shipping containers at Boxi Park. visitorlando.com

Fast thrills from Disney IPW’s opening party at EPCOT gave delegates the chance to be part of Walt Disney World’s 50th anniversary festivities and the chance to jump aboard the park’s new family-thrill coaster, Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic

Rewind, which speeds riders on a journey through time and space to the sound of one of classic pop hits, kicking off with a reverse launch. Also new at the park is Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure, a fast-paced 4D trackless ride. disneyworld.co.uk

NEWS IN BRIEF • Home in Kissimmee Known as the Vacation Home Capital of the World, Kissimmee announced several new openings, including the vacation condominiums at Embassy Suites by Hilton Orlando Sunset Walk and the luxury 126-room Ette Hotel, featuring experiences from Michelin Star Chef, Akira Back. experiencekissimmee.com

• California’s new themes California, which has opened more than 80 new hotels and 12,000 hotel rooms in the past two years, also showcased its new theme park attractions, including the Avengers Campus land at Disney California Adventure Park, Secret Life of Pets: Off The Leash at Universal Studios Hollywood, Sesame Place San Diego – a Certified Autism Center – and LEGO Ferrari Build & Race at LEGOLAND California. visitcalifornia.com

• US Virgins comes of age The US Virgin Islands announced new tourism developments, including new resorts Seaborn at Frenchman’s Reef Autograph Collection, and Lovango Resort & Beach Club in St. John, while the revamped Westin Beach Resort & Spa at Frenchman’s Reef reopens in October. visitusvi.com

• IPW heads for Texas Davy Crockett made an appearance at Texas’s press conference in the shape of a high-tech hologram, to help Marc Anderson, CEO of Visit San Antonio, share the news that IPW 2023 show will be held in the Texas city in May 2023. traveltexas.com

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62 / The review first hand

Checking out

Caledonian Sleeper By Julie Baxter The Check In: Check-in was quick and easy, and combined with a welcome explanation of the cabin key-card system and dining options. The Seat: My Club Room offered bunk beds, a wash basin and an ensuite toilet which doubled as a shower cubicle. The space was limited but good design touches ensured there was sufficient space to stow a bag, hang clothes and power or charge electricals. Each cabin has its own temperature controls, dimmable lights and complimentary wifi. The Service: This overnight journey leaves Inverness at 8.26pm (and it left on the dot) and arrives in London approximately 12 hours later. Towels and Scottish toiletries were provided. The entire train felt clean and modern with décor matching that of the Scottish landscape. Food and Beverage: Due to staff shortages the station lounge was closed but onboard dinner was available for purchase in the Lounge Car after boarding (from 45 minutes before departure). Menu choices included Haggis, Neeps and Tatties or Macaroni Cheese, as well as a local cheese board and snacks. There was a broad choice of wines, whiskies and soft drinks. More information: The Caledonian Sleeper started a new chapter in a long history in 2019 when a fleet of new trains was introduced. These are modern and attractive with good consideration of disabled traveller needs. sleeper.scot

The verdict This was a fun experience with no security checks and no luggage restrictions. The rocking of the train is a constant companion through the night, of course, but I awoke refreshed. In these CO2-conscious times, this rail journey was a sensible, easy and enjoyable option. THE DETAILS: Club Rooms are priced from £205 return for a solo traveller and £250 for shared accommodation.

The verdict Fans of Azamara and smallship cruising with longer stays and overnights in some ports will enjoy this ship. It is best suited to mature passengers looking for a traditional, quieter cruise experience rather than those wanting all-singing all-dancing entertainment. THE DETAILS: A seven-night Italy Intensive cruise staying in an inside cabin starts from $1,119 (£907).

Azamara Onward By Jeannine Williamson The Background: The latest addition to the Azamara fleet marks the reunion of four small cruise vessels, known as R-Class ships. The 11-deck ship carries up to 670 guests and is able to dock in smaller ports that are inaccessible to large cruise ships. It will spend its inaugural season in the Mediterranean, Adriatic and Aegean. The Room: With its expansive wooden decks, some laid out with steamer chairs and areas such as the glittering Mosaic Cafe, the ship has a very classic and welcoming feel. Key Facilities: A key part of the Azamara experience is what happens off the ship rather than aboard, so there are no waterparks or glitzy shows. Instead passengers can expect to visit lesser-known destinations, with plenty of time spent in port, and each cruise features at least one AzAmazing event. On our sailing this was a ‘takeover’ in the pretty Italian Riviera village of Portovenere, with music and dancing. Restaurants & Bars: A notable addition to Azamara Onward, which isn’t available on its sibling ships, is the Atlas Bar. Located up on Deck 10, the travel-themed bar was my favourite spot for a pre-dinner cocktail. The two included restaurants are Discoveries, which is the most formal, and the casual Windows Cafe buffet. My favourite speciality restaurant was the Italian-themed Aqualina. Other places to eat are the Mosaic Cafe, serving tempting pastries and treats, and there is also a pool grill and 24-hour room service. azamara.com

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