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MARCH/APRIL 2021 • SELLINGTRAVEL.CO.UK

BACK ON THE RAILS UK breaks and iconic train journeys look set to get clients moving forward in 2021 how to sell...

Weddings and Honeymoons Cruising the UK Nova Scotia

STANDING BY TRAVEL AGENTS

Tanzania

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our

Bula Spirit awaits you

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Contents /

3

All around the world

inside this issue Trend-watching 8 Over-50s: The world is slowly opening up to those that have been vaccinated 11 Travel Talk: Visit Croatia and Rabbie's 12 Four-sight: Hopeful agents look ahead 15 Celeb interview: Bear Grylls: action man

Over-50s

8

alberta

17

Globe-hopping 19 Falkland Islands: Remote, wild and perfect for social distancing 22 My journey: Fanjove Island, Tanzania 24 Nova Scotia: Go for the culture and charm; return for the seafood! 27 Rail journeys: Choose a scenic and sustainable travel option 30 Six of the best: UK touring 31 How to sell: UK cruising

Nova scotia

24

weddings and honeymoons

34

unite show review

42

Be inspired 34 Weddings and Honeymoons: Postponed

falkland islands

19

plans means clients are ready to splurge 38 Bright ideas: Alternative weddings

Trade talk 40 The review: News plus Advantage interview 42 Unite show review: A round-up from Unite Europe, Pacific & Australasia

celebrity interview

15 sellingtravel.co.uk

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4 / Welcome EDITORIAL EDITORIAL DIRECTOR Steve Hartridge

ASSISTANT EDITOR Jessica Pook

CONTRIBUTING EDITORS

March /April Opportunity will knock

Bev Fearis, Julie Baxter & April Waterston

WRITERS Charlotte Flach, Kerry Spencer, Tamara Hinson, Angela Sara West, Renette Hartridge, Stuart Forster, Ben Lerwill & Mark Stratton

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 DESIGNER Caitlan Francis

PRODUCTION & STUDIO MANAGER Clare Hunter

PRODUCTION ADMINISTRATOR Steve Hunter (PRINT) ISSN 2056-9319. © BMI PUBLISHING LTD 2021.

SELLING TRAVEL IS PUBLISHED BY BMI PUBLISHING

A

s Selling Travel went to press the industry was still patiently awaiting clarity on when travel outside of the UK's borders would be permissible. Predictably and understandably, there was general disappointment over Boris Johnson's Easter Monday 'update'. Expectations were high - in hindsight way too high. But any criticism is perhaps a tad unfair. Let's face it, the Government is damned if it does and damned if it doesn't on this one. It is widely criticised for not providing definitive guidance on Steve Hartridge when travel can begin, thus dampening consumer confidence EDITORIAL DIRECTOR and bookings, but it would equally be held to account if it were to offer a resumption date, announce a list of can-visit destinations - measures that would spark a rush of bookings - but then a week or so later found itself having to reverse everything due to rising Covid infections here and/or abroad. But whilst we appreciate the difficulties of devising a 'you are all ready to go, have a jolly good holiday' travel policy that can be made to stick during an ever-fluctuating pandemic, there are few excuses for continuing to ignore the financial dire straits many in our once healthy sector find themselves in. Travel companies and agents can't sell holidays with any certainty and until they are told they can they need greater help and support – and they need it now. We cling to the prospect that international travel will reopen soon after May 17 and I hope that by the time you all read this these words will be long out of date and your phones will be ringing off the hook with clients wanting to book destinations wide and far. In the meantime, try to take some comfort from the words of Kelly Cookes, Leisure Director at Advantage Travel (page 41): “The need for a travel agent will increase, and as we come out of this destinations will adapt as well, so there’s lots of opportunity there for members to really sell their expertise to a customer.” Hang in there.

LTD: 501 THE RESIDENCE, NO. 1 ALEXANDRA TERRACE, GUILDFORD, GU1 3DA, UK. T: 020 8649 7233 E: ENQUIRIES@BMIPUBLISHING.CO.UK 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. COVER IMAGE: GLENFINNAN VIADUCT, SCOTLAND CREDIT: BIGSTOCKPHOTO.COM 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

Maldives

ocean view Anantara Kihavah Maldives Villas, on the Baa Atoll, has launched the largest overwater residence in the world. The luxury twobedroom villa comes complete with a gym, a Spa treatment room, a glass-bottomed whirlpool bathtub, an infinity swimming pool and netted hammocks suspended over the water. The brand’s two-, three- and fourbedroom beach pool residences have also undergone a multi-million-dollar redesign. Anantara.com

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Trend watching New beginnings /

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Ukraine

Frozen in time Explore has added a winter tour to Chernobyl in the Ukraine to its collection of small group itineraries. The four-night Winter Chernobyl Photography Break is scheduled for November 2021 and will see keen photographers explore the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone. As well as taking photographs of this haunting destination, they’ll also meet people who lived through the nuclear accident in 1986. Explore.co.uk

Holland

Flower power ! Flora and fauna enthusiasts can experience the once-a-decade botanical Floriade Expo in Holland next year, open to visitors between April and October 2022. Located near Amsterdam, Floriade is like a giant RHS Chelsea Flower Show with exhibitors presenting an array of plants. Visitors will even have the opportunity to see the exhibits from the air, via an 850-metre cable car link. Shearings and Scenic are among the operators offering tours that incorporate the event. floriade.com

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Trend watching

istock.com/AscentXmedia

8 / Over-50s

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Trend watching Over-50s /

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Silver

linings As the ‘second vaccination’ roll-out continues apace, the over50s will be well positioned to make up for months of ‘lost’ travelling time, says Tamara Hinson

A

fter a year the travel industry would happily forget (but never will), there finally seems to be more reasons to be cheerful – and a huge chunk of bookings are being made by the over-50s, many of whom see the vaccine as their passport to start exploring again after a year of being grounded.

Post-Covid confidence At the height of the pandemic, countless experts speculated that the biggest obstacle to travel’s restart would be a ‘lack of confidence’. However, when vaccines became a reality, everything changed. Data from The Silver Travel Industry Report 2021 found that 77% of older travellers would book and travel within six months and are setting their sights further afield for 2021.

In a similar vein, Saga Holidays revealed that after the Government’s roadmap was published in late February there was an 84% increase in calls to the sales team compared with the previous week.

Bring on the bucket list One thing is clear: travellers, especially those aged 50 and over, are ready to make up for lost time. “With so many missed travel moments, we’re seeing increased demand for inspirational long-haul destinations, especially for 2022,” says Titan Travel’s Managing Director Andy Squirrell. “The sense of wanderlust is growing stronger and they’re booking early to secure the best price and availability.” Titan’s best-selling destinations for escorted tours include Canada, South

Africa, Vietnam and India, and Squirrell adds that multi-destination trips are proving incredibly popular, too. “More customers are booking epic holidays which combine multiple bucket list-worthy destinations, allowing them to see more of the world in one trip,” he says. The operator’s 14-day Essence of Japan package, Grand Tour of Australia, Best of New Zealand tour and 18-day North America package are already top sellers for 2022. A desire for multi-centre trips means that cruises – especially more extravagant ones – are faring well for 2022. “After being stuck at home in 2020, it certainly appears that customers are willing to spend more to make up for it,” says Joseph Grimley, Director of UK Trade Sales at Scenic.

Hinking in the Canadian Rockies

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Trend watching

10 / Over-50s

South Africa is a best sellER for escorted tours

“In January we saw an 80% month-on-month increase in bookings for Antarctica cruises.”

Pack your hiking boots According to the Silver Travel Industry Report, nearly a third of over-50s have embraced the idea of active holidays that focus on their health and wellbeing, with walking and cycling holidays increasingly popular. “We’ve been seeing increased interest in health and wellness, which is why we’ve added activities like yoga and guided cycling tours,” says Uniworld’s Managing

“We’ve seen an increase in travellers in their 50s, 60s and 70s booking more challenging adventures such as the Inca Trail and treks to Everest Basecamp” Brian Young, G Adventures

Over-50s are booking more extravagant cruises

Director Chris Townson, a trend also reflected in recent G Adventures’ bookings. “Our active range has always appealed to a broad demographic, but in recent months we’ve seen an increase in the number of travellers in their 50s, 60s and 70s booking more challenging adventures such as the Inca Trail and treks to Everest Basecamp,” says Brian Young, Managing Director at G Adventures. “In the past, travellers in these age brackets would be most likely to book with mainstream operators selling beach holidays and ‘age accessible’ experiences, but there’s been a shift in the mindset amongst this generation. They’re staying fitter and active for longer, and seeking out more adventurous holidays.” G Adventures’ newest offerings include a collection of European trips designed to make people “rethink” mainstream destinations such as Cyprus, Madeira, Corfu and Crete, says Young. “They feature hikes which are accessible to most, and explore a more local side of these much-loved places. We’re expecting them to sell well among over-50s keen to see a different side of old favourites.”

Solo salvation

Reaching new heights on an Arctic trek

The growing popularity of bucket list-style trips is great news for tour operators catering to more adventurous clients, many of which will reap the rewards of this greater desire for independence. In the wake of a global pandemic, many will prefer to forge their own path, rather than joining large groups on itineraries with little flexibility. “We’ve seen a huge increase in bookings for camper van holidays in North America,” says Premier Holidays’ Tim Greathead.

India is a popular bucket-list destination

“This type of holiday gives clients flexibility when it comes to where they go and how long they stay, and the selfcatering approach means they can limit their social contact if they wish too.” “We’re expecting to see a shift towards multi-generational family travel, with grandparents holidaying just with the grandchildren,” says G Adventures’ Young. “Spending time as a family will also drive bubble-style trips, which led us to launch our Book Your Bubble collection of 80 holidays.”

Slow travel For some travellers the journey is just as exciting as the destination itself. Premier Holidays reports that train travel holidays are proving popular, with trips such as Rocky Mountaineer train journeys in Western Canada selling especially well. It’s a trend noticed by Great Rail Journeys, too. “There’s huge interest in our heritage rail tours, although luxury railway tours are also increasingly popular too,” says Julian Appleyard, Commercial Director at Great Rail Journeys, where new offerings include small group rail tours capped at 25 people and a free door-to-door luggage service. “We are seeing an ‘airport apathy’, with more people seeking flight-free holiday options. It’s partly due to Covid, but also a growing appetite for sustainable travel, with a greater consideration for environmental impact.” But a hunger for far-flung destinations likely remains. “We’re confident that a growing number of vaccinated travellers aged 50 and over will return to airlines for the convenience of flying,” says Simon Wrench at Inntravel. “We’re predicting a golden age for silver travel.” •

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Trend spotting Travel talk /

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“The recently-launched ‘Safe stay in Croatia’ project outlines tourismspecific health and safety measures” Darija Reic, Director, Croatian National Tourist Office, UK UK citizens who have recovered from, or been vaccinated against, Covid will be able to enter Croatia from the same date the UK resumes international travel. Alternatively, a negative PCR test must be provided upon arrival. We have intensified preparations for the upcoming tourist year and are arranging additional points for testing in visitor hot spots in order to make Croatia as pleasant and safe as possible.

Croatia has launched the ‘Safe stay in Croatia’ project, a web platform that provides information about the tourismspecific health and safety measures currently in place. Visitors can also use this platform to check whether their chosen accommodation and other service providers are certified with the Safe Stay label.

Croatia’s calling Clients can escape lockdown by exploring our eight National Parks and 12 Nature Parks, among which is Plitvice Lakes, known for its 16 terraced lakes and waterfalls. According to the European Commission,

Croatia’s sea is the cleanest in Europe and some of its beaches, such as Zlatni Rat on Brac island, Saharun on Dugi Otok, or Sunj Bay on Lopud, are considered the most beautiful. In addition, Croatian delicacies such as oysters and mussels from Ston, braised beef pasticada from Split, and desserts like Kotonjata will tempt foodies . Agents can contact Croatia’s representative office in the UK for information, itineraries ideas or promo materials. On April 20, we are hosting a Croatian Virtual Get2Gether, a webinar for the travel trade, with special focus on the City of Dubrovnik and Croatia Airlines. croatia.hr

“With 40% of bookings coming via agents we place huge importance on the trade” Graeme Bowie, B2B Sales Manager, Rabbie’s Since the Government announced its timeline out of lockdown in February we have seen a big increase in interest and bookings. People are starting to look and book for later in the summer and we are hopeful this will continue for autumn and winter. Until now Rabbie’s has been mainly an inbound company, relying on overseas clientele, so we are encouraged to see bookings now coming from UK travellers,

with the greater certainty of staycations playing a big part in that. Robbie’s started life in 1993 as Rabbie’s Trail Burners, with one vehicle doing tours from Edinburgh to the Highlands and scenic and rural areas of Scotland. We have stayed a small group operator but in 2019 had 150-plus vehicles – luxury Mercedes 16-seat mini-coaches – picking clients up from various departure points in the UK.

Safety measures in place While restrictions last, we will be taking a maximum of eight passengers per trip, with masks for guests, hand sanitisers, improved

air con in the vehicles, drivers tested every morning and guests asked to do a quick test before departure. Before the pandemic we had 100 different variations of tours – with 40% of bookings via agents. For our one-day tours the Loch Ness, Glencoe and the Highlands of Scotland option is very popular, while for multi-day tours the three-day tour to the Isle of Skye and four-day trip to Islay and the Whiskey Coast are among our best-sellers. Travel agents can contact us through our website. We know that for clients there is added certainty and reassurance when booking through an agent. rabbies.com

SELLINGTRAVEL.CO.UK

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Trend watching

12 / Four-sight

Roadmap to travel freedom? As they await the reopening of international borders, our agent columnists tell us how they are adjusting to the continuing uncertainty surrounding the prospects for travel

Train travel trending

High street stores back in business

Our focus is on rebooking existing clients, and that’s ok! We have found that many of our customers whose deposits were held over from 2020 are now making plans for later this year. I’m not sure I’d call it a boom as such, but I think the industry will definitely encounter one when there is more clarity about exactly when and where we can travel internationally and what will be required of us. Most of our customers are over 50, so many have already had their first vaccine, which, hopefully, will make them feel more confident about holidaying. Over the last few months or so I’ve seen various online posts of people making high-value bookings, and I’ve worried that we’re not busy enough compared to others. However, after having spoken to a lot of my colleagues in travel with similar businesses to us it seems we’re not alone in focusing on re-booking existing clients and trying to keep our heads above water! Given the year we’ve all had in the industry, I think everyone deserves a pat on the back just for keeping on keeping on! Travel is such an amazing industry full of positive, hardworking and resilient people – here’s to an easier road ahead.

THE FAMILY BUSINESS

Anneka Desrosiers

Southern Cross Travel, East Sussex

Is the road map a false dawn as far as small ship cruising is concerned? How do we respond to the constant questioning of “Will my booking for July be OK?” Or “Is it safe to book a September sailing?” Us self-employed commission-only agents are all desperate for some cashflow and thus want to reassure booked clients that all will be well, and to take new bookings to give 2021 some income flow, but there seems to be no certainty yet. During the recent CLIA virtual river conference, the head honcho of a leading USA-based river cruise line assured us that they will be sailing in Europe in May. Yet just 24 hours later a different head

Will we be able - or want to - visit our European friends at last? honcho of another USA-based river cruise operator stated it will be at least August before sailings recommence. It is clear that the UK’s vaccination programme is a massive success but Europe is falling way behind in getting any significant numbers vaccinated and many countries are still seeing rising Covid numbers. We may well be ‘fit to travel’ by late spring but will we be able – or want to – visit our European or even further flung friends at last?

THE CRUISE SPECIALIST

James Hill

Go Cruise, Cruise specialist, Worcestershire

SELLINGTRAVEL.CO.UK

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Trend watching Four-sight /

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` Support fellow agents and focus on wellbeing ´´ Clients must be willing to pay for testing in the short term While we still eagerly await updates and travel advice, we can assume that if clients want to holiday abroad in the short term they must be willing to pay for testing and accept they may have to quarantine and test again on the return. The majority of clients that have changed from 2020 to 2021 are preparing to change their dates again to 2022. Most tour operators have flexible policies and it really helps that lots of holidays, flights and cruises are on sale for 2022. We decided to open the office from April 12, but with reduced hours and a reduced team of staff. Flexible furlough is such a big help compared to what was available last year. We will also be encouraging customers to phone ahead to make an appointment and have introduced desk screens and hand sanitiser in the office. We are lucky that so many people have been vaccinated in the UK but until the rest of the world catches up we may be cancelling and amending for a while yet. To end on a positive note, Ive booked to go to Corfu in June and Jersey in August and will accept whatever the rules are for travel or amend the date if I have to. But I am so ready for a holiday!

I think people are still waiting until nearer the so-called ‘allowed’ travel date of May 17 before booking holidays, and then hopefully there will be a flurry of booking. I personally can’t wait to get away! I also think there’s going to be a shift towards train travel and cruising. There have been quite a few railway programmes on TV recently and I think this will influence people who want to tick off a number of places in one go. The same goes for river and ocean cruising. I was reading about ways to boost employee wellbeing during lockdown by the Howden Group, one of ABTA’s partners who advise on wellbeing. They say to remind people of employee benefits and of the support available and to encourage colleagues to maintain a positive work/life balance. Also, check in with team members regularly, especially with so many working from home. It can feel isolating and lonely out there!. Encourage your team to get active and organise a company challenge, a daily steps target or miles cycled, and have a leader board. ‘You’re never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream.’

There’s going to be a shift towards train travel and cruising

THE HIGH STREET AGENCY

Liz Beaty

THE HOME WORKER

Jersey trip on the cards for Liz

Could we be sailing Europe by May? Next issue: Is there a new appreciation for the complex job of a travel agent?

Sandy Murray

The Travel Team Brampton, Cumbria

Sandy's Travel Escapes

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Trend watching

14 / Travel Talk

on

t e nt

Discover more video content on our YouTube channel, search selling travel

Malta Workations

Visit Malta

Remote working has taken on a whole new meaning thanks to extended visas. Here are six destinations that are in it for the long-haul....

“Clients should enjoy the gastronomy and culture in Malta and then hop over to Gozo to decompress.” - Tolene van der Merwe, Visit Malta. sellingtravel.co.uk

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Nova Scotia

Tourism Nova Scotia

LUX* Grand Baie

“We have just launched a Nova Scotia training programme which highlights seven touring regions.” - Patricia Pardy, Tourism Nova Scotia. sellingtravel.co.uk

“Our collectable experiences and striking design and architecture is what sets LUX* Grand Baie apart.” - Steven Phillips, LUX* Grand Baie. sellingtravel.co.uk

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Trend watching Celebrity interview /

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Bear Grylls: “You can’t take the wild for granted” Survival expert and TV presenter Bear Grylls, OBE, talks awe-inspiring tales, near-death experiences and survival tips with Angela Sara West

B

ear Grylls believes that adventure has always been in his DNA, with his appetite for exploring beginning at early age. “My biggest inspiration is my dad, a former royal marine commando and politician, and an adventurer at heart,” he says. “My earliest memories are of climbing with him on the sea cliffs and sailing around the Isle of Wight, where he taught me the fundamentals of adventure: keep moving towards the mountain in front of you, even if it scares you; respect and humility mean more than wealth and status; and, above all, never give up.” After leaving school and a trip spent hiking in the Himalayan mountains of Sikkim and West Bengal, Bear became a soldier in the British Special Forces, serving with 21 SAS. “Life is all about tenacity and dogged determination to keep going despite the overwhelming odds," he says. "This is the key for any survival situation, as well as for life in general.” “You can’t take the wild for granted, and it’s that volatility that’s the magic. Respect the wild and never forget: earth does not belong to us, we belong to earth.” He recounts learning this valuable lesson whilst on an expedition to cross the Arctic Ocean in an open-ridged inflatable boat, a journey of around 3,000 miles. “We got caught in horrendous storms 500 miles off the coast of Greenland. There was nothing we could do but hold onto each other and that boat. We crawled off five broken but pretty grateful men.” One of his toughest challenges was climbing Mount Everest, a gruelling expedition that almost ended tragically. “Four climbers died up there during the three months I was on that mountain and I very nearly lost my life down a deep crevasse," he says. “No summit is ever worth a life but I look

back on it hugely grateful to have survived it and for the friendships made. I will never forget that summit. Seeing the curvature of the world at the edges was amazing.” “Survival is rarely pretty,” he says, offering tips on what to eat "should you fall out of a helicopter into a jungle, swamp or desert". “It’s amazing what you can stomach when hunger strikes! Eating berries out of bear poo was bad, but you focus on the energy it gives rather than the taste.” He’s also turned a dead seal into a wetsuit, used a sheep’s corpse as a flotation device and survived sandstorms by sleeping ‘inside’ a camel carcass. Grylls recently launched his first Bear Grylls Explorers Camp on the UAE’s highest peak, Jebel Jais mountain. Courses cover everything from the ‘Bear’ necessities for beginners through to challenging hardcore

explorers, including practical life-saving skills and extreme-weather survival. “You don’t have to travel to the ends of the earth to experience incredible adventures,” Grylls enthuses. His journey of discovery across the British Isles for ITV saw the UK's shores at their most spectacular, highlighting a diversity of glorious landscapes. Meanwhile, lockdown adventures saw him train daily with the veteran-run business he co-owns, Be Military Fit (BMF). “Oh, and home schooling," he adds. "Now that really is an adventure!” • PROFILE Discover the world's first Bear Grylls Explorers Camp in Ras Al Khaimah, UAE at beargryllscamp.ae. Read about more of Bear's adventures in his new autobiography Never Give Up, which will be out on October 14 2021

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traveluni.com

GDS | TRAINING | REWARDS

Training, competitions, events March/April 2021

TOP STORIES

New York updates

PARTNER LIST

TRAINING

NEW York State has developed its training offering to become a fully integrated trade hub, with news updates, future events and trade offers adding to the existing modules. Another key addition is the regional directory, with information, imagery, videos and PDF downloads from partners around the state instantly accessible to those who take the course. Become a New York State specialist today and keep up to date with future news, offers and events from the destination. ilovenewyorktraining.com

NEWS

ABTA's 10 tips for booking travel

ABTA Knowledge Zone

Saint Lucia's Hotel Micro Module TRAINING

THE Saint Lucia Tourism Authority has added a new Hotel Micro Module to its online training programme. Now, along with the existing destination modules, agents can learn more about individual island hotels, including The Landings Resort and Spa and Windjammer Landing Villa Resort & Spa. There are recorded presentations, video and downloadable brochures. Agents must complete the Hotel Micro Module to receive certification as a ‘Specialist’. saintluciaexpert.com

ABTA has launched a new social media video offering advice to consumers that may be nervous about booking a holiday. The one-minute video lists ABTA’s 10 top tips for booking a holiday now, including using the expertise of an ABTA member, booking a package holiday, booking early and checking FO travel advice, as well as advising that many companies are offering flexible booking policies. ABTA members can download branded and non-branded versions to share on their own social media. Speaking of the video, ABTA Director of Communications, Graeme Buck, said: “People want to book but some are hesitant, so it is vital we reassure them and provide information on how to book with confidence." abtaknowledgezone.com

A-Z of available training ABTA Abu Dhabi Alaska Anguilla Anchorage Wild Expert Aruba Australia Attitude Hotels Beaches Resorts Cayman Islands Celestyal Cruises Costa Rica Cruise Adviser Elegant Hotels Essential Detail Estonia Fiji Finland Flanders Florida Fort Myers & Sanibel Grenada Hawaii Heritage Resorts Italy Japan Jerusalem Journey Beyond Jumeirah Hotels & Resorts Macao Melia Hotels & Resorts New York City New York State Newmarket Holidays Oman Ontario Outrigger Resorts PATA Qatar SAGA Saint Lucia Sandals Resorts Sani & Ikos Seychelles Singapore St Kitts Thailand TIPTO US Airtours Veranda Resorts Yas Island traveluni.com

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Globe hopping

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Discover more about Alberta at sellingtravel.co.uk/articles

48 hours in... /

17

Creative & outdoorsy

Canmore Perched on the edge of Alberta’s Kananaskis, a region of gorgeous snow-capped mountains and vivid lakes, Canmore is a great base for two days, says Laura Gelder Day 1: Nature & Art Morning: Head to Harvest Café for an early breakfast. It’s a Canmore local favourite famous for its fresh cinnamon buns. Enjoy one with a coffee and take one to go in case you get hungry on the hike. Grassi Lakes is a moderate hike with great views of Canmore, plus a waterfall, and two emerald-green lakes. The trailhead is located south of the Canmore Nordic Centre and is a gentle 2.5 loop that’s perfect for families. Afternoon: The award-winning Crazyweed Restaurant has an innovative approach to food and describes itself as a ‘fancy, not-so-fancy Canmore dining experience’ which welcomes hikers in their gear. It serves up classics like fish and

chips along with some creative pizzas and healthy Buddha bowls. Open year round, Canmore Cave Tours take visitors for a natural history tour of the Rat’s Nest Cave, under Grotto Mountain. This huge cave system was created by the melt waters of ancient glaciers. Crawl past prehistoric bones, ancient rock formations and the Grotto - with its clear pool and walls covered in stalactites and stalagmites. Experience the landscape through the eyes of Indigenous Visual Artist Jason Carter at the Carter-Ryan Gallery. Visitors can take home a slice of Canmore’s dramatic scenery in the form of a bright painting or bold soapstone sculpture.

dining at crazyweed

Book it with... Audley Travel The Highlights of Canada’s West Self-Drive is a nine-day trip from £2,355pp and starts with two nights in Canmore to explore the town and Banff National Park. It goes on to Jasper and ends in Vancouver. premierholidays.co.uk; audleytravel.com

Grassi lakes hike

Day 2: Flights of fancy and beer An alpine heli-tour

Bow river walk, canmore

Morning: Grab some fresh, chewy bagels at Rocky Mountain Bagel Co, spread with homemade cream cheeses and paired with locally roasted coffee. Next, get a bird’s eye perspective of the Rockies. Alpine Helicopters and Kananaskis Helicopters both offer spectacular helitours which fly up to the Three Sisters Peaks above Canmore, along the Sundance Range of Banff National Park past mountain peaks, alpine meadows and pristine lakes and above Mount Assiniboine to see the tumbling ice of the Gloria Glacier. Come back down to earth for a beer with a lunch and tasting at Grizzly Paw, Canmore’s local brewery and pub. Opened in 1996, The

Paw is a popular local hang-out and famous for its microbrews and handcrafted sodas like root beer and orange cream soda. Try the Powder Hound Pilser or the Rutting Elk Red, or enjoy a flight and taste a little bit of every brew. Afternoon: Walk off lunch and discover Canmore’s eclectic collection of galleries and shops - most of which are owned and operated by friendly locals. Downtown Canmore is bordered by the Bow River, an emerald-green, fast-paced river with stunning views of Mount Rundle, an old railroad bridge, and the Three Sisters Mountain Range. The Bow River Loop Walk only takes 25 minutes. •

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The Falklands’ archipelago is made up of two main islands, East and West Falkland, surrounded by smaller islands and situated 400 miles off the southeastern tip of South America. Great walking experiences can be found at many locations. The capital, Stanley, on East Falkland, has a beautiful coastline with stunning white sand beaches, rocky shores, heath and scrubland, which provide a variety of habitats for wildlife. Nearby Cape Pembroke is a lovely area with small ponds, coves and a charming lighthouse. Most of the hills around Stanley are also the sites of major battles fought in the 1982 war with Argentina. Understand more of this aspect of Falklands’ heritage with a hike in the hills or simply enjoy the challenging terrain and magnificent views. Explore further afield around the East, West and offshore islands. Coastlines vary from rugged coastal cliffs to long miles of undisturbed white sand beaches interspersed with rocky headlands and large kelp forests. Many sheltered harbours are found along the coast. Hills, wide-open plains and stone runs characterise different parts of the Falklands. Mount Usborne on East Falkland is the highest peak at 705 metres (2,312 feet). This is an excellent day walk with a spectacular panorama from the plateau and exhilarating scrambles through the stone runs. West Falkland and the western offshore islands also boast mountain ranges whilst the eastern islands offer flatter terrain but equally amazing adventures. Wildlife is abundant in many places and there are sites of historical interest to seek out on foot. With a gloriously unpolluted atmosphere the views on a bright, clear day are truly fantastic and there’s fresh, clean air to inhale deeply. And all to the accompaniment of the natural sounds of birdsong, the sea lapping the shore, a brisk breeze in the hills or the simple sound of silence.

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crowds Wild, rugged and remote the Falkland Islands are well versed in social distancing and offer bucket-list wildlife encounters aplenty, says Mark stratton

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off ledges by fearsome rogue waves. The day after, on the most divine broad beach at Volunteer Point, sands glistening metallic in low sunshine, I watched a condensed knot of king penguins huddling together to protect fluff-ball chicks between their legs. Sometimes the responsibilities of parenthood become all too much, and little gaggles of adults bolted for the surf for fun and fish, disappearing into the Atlantic like aquatic torpedoes.

Reopening for business? Whether penguins standing sentinel on windswept beaches or orcas patrolling

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s always, the Falklands is about life – survival on the edge. i recall sitting for many a chilled hour on the tussocky grass on Sealion Island, gazing offshore hoping to see the renowned killer-whale, Lucy, who has perfected a technique of sneaking behind a sealion colony, to snatch their pups from the rookery. She never showed but I was entertained throughout by the madcap antics of stunted rockhopper penguins with bright-yellow eyebrows, bouncing down cliff-faces risking life-and-limb, to reach the sea, sometimes washed

frigid sounds, the Falkland Islands’ ethereal landscapes and brilliant wildlife encounters lend a feeling you’ve reached the edge of the Earth. You can hike wild open spaces and deserted beaches, revel in the Britishness of the capital – Stanley, red phoneboxes and union-jacks – or contemplate memories from the battlegrounds of a tragic conflict with Argentina in 1982. But if you’re going to truly sell these subantarctic islands focus on the sublime wildlife experiences, because alongside South Georgia, the Falklands are the Galapagos of the South Atlantic.

king penguinS emBraCe the Choppy WaterS

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Striated Caracara providing that money shot

The million-dollar question is when will the Falklands reopen? After a first case of Covid-19, the Falklands shut its borders to international arrivals in late March 2020. Routes linking South America, including the new LATAM flight from Sao Paolo, have been suspended, leaving only the RAF Brize Norton airbridge in operation for essential travel only. After a peak of 72,000 cruise arrivals in 2019, the Falklands received no ships at all during 2020. “Currently no decision has been made on reopening to international visitors. The vaccination roll-out for its 3,500 inhabitants has begun but there will be a lot of outside factors the Falklands Government needs to consider before welcoming back tourists,” explains Stephanie Middleton, Executive-Director of the tourist board. “The flight from Brazil was very new when Covid-19 hit so promotion of this route will be a priority, its mid-week flight will make the Falklands more easily accessible and provides many more seats into the islands,” she says. Likewise, the tourist board is continuing to promote walking trails and the islands’

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Rockhopper Penguins keeping guard on Sealion Island

position as the preferred gateway for cruise expeditions for Antarctica. “The Falklands will appeal to international travellers post-pandemic because we offer wide-open spaces, with amazing wildlife, and a safe environment,” adds Middleton.

Top experiences Island hopping: Recommend travelling between November and February, when temperatures may nudge 20ºC, and the fearless wildlife is experiencing birth and renewal. For visitors, this is seen at its most intimate and visceral by island-hopping around the Falkland archipelago utilising the Government-run F.I.G.A.S air-taxi, allowing clients to linger for a few nights on each tiny island where farmsteadstyle full-board accommodation is cosy old-fashioned although not luxurious. Bleaker Island: It may be bleak by name but it teems with the comedic joy penguins bring. Advise your guests to bring sturdy boots as visitors are left to their own devices to explore their very own private nature reserves. Sitting on the

yellowy sands of Sandy Bay crowded by penguins, clients can expect to watch on as the imperial-cormorant colony valiantly defended their offspring in life-and-death struggles against predatory skuas. Sealion splendour: Also unmissable, and with a larger lodge if you’re sending a group, is the fabulous Sealion Island. It’s the island to get up-close-and-personal to humungous elephants-seals. It’s possible, if a bit unnerving, to get near to these colossal giants hauled out of water, with males weighing up to 3.5 tonnes, exhausted after breeding, tetchy, and bristling with aggravated testosterone, yet placidly content for a close-up. Twitchers’ paradise: You’ll tempt bird-lovers to West Point Island, with its pasture green mountains, and renowned for one of the greatest avian spectacles imaginable. From September to April, a colony of over 10,000 pairs of black-browed albatrosses, the great navigators of the skies, raise chicks on the tumbling cliffs. Remarkably, they are untroubled by birdwatchers sitting among their nests,

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Lounging Elephant seal on Carcass Island

Black sandy beaches line Dyke Bay

where you can watch in awe the spectacle of the adults feeding hungry chicks trilling with excitement each time food appears. War-torn past: After a hearty full English breakfast at perhaps one of the two best hotels in Stanley – The Malvina House and The Waterfront Boutique – take an excursion to Volunteer Point with a local guide. On route are poignant reminders of 1982’s Falklands War, such as a downed Argentinean helicopter, a twisted metal casualty of war. If your client is interested in this history, there’s a great little museum in Stanley with paraphernalia from those dark days that shouldn’t be missed.

Where to book it Rainbow Tours – 0208 131 5060 One of the highlights of this 15-day Falklands in depth tour is an island-hopping experience to the likes of Sealion and West Point islands to enjoy some of the premium wildlife spectacles on offer. Costing £4,695pp it includes all transfers, including from Chile, and domestic arrangements. But not international flights. rainbowtours.co.uk •

Discover the Falklands

The longest established tour operator and expert DMC in the Falklands

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Island and safari

Tanzania Renette Hartridge experiences a tropical island in the Indian Ocean and a bush safari during an East African twin-centre escape

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am sipping on a large, freshly harvested coconut. It is filled to the brim with natural water that sploshes onto my bikini. But I don’t care: I am taking my coconut for a walk straight into the gorgeous, turquoise blue sea that surrounds Tanzania's Fanjove Island. This remote, palm-fringed tropical island is just off the country's southern coast, in the Songo Songo archipelago. Travelling here is an adventure in itself: a 45-minute flight from Dar Es Salaam, down the Tanzania coast, with a quick stopover on Mafia Island, then hopping across to Songo Island followed by a short tuk-tuk ride and finally a transfer in a traditional dhow sailing boat. Fanjove Island is tiny: it takes just 30 minutes to walk around it. My beach banda is one of only six, positioned perfectly to benefit from sunrise and sunset views. The rustic wood and thatch a-frame has a four-poster bed and upper viewing deck from which guests can enjoy the million-dollar sea views. Thoughtful amenities include kikoy towels (brightly coloured, pure cotton beach wraps), woven grass beach hats and pure coconut oil, to be applied to sun-kissed skin.

Spinner dolphins The quality of the food is simply off the charts. Head chef Issa serves up delicious Swahili islandstyle fusion sea-fare delivered daily by local fishermen: shellfish,

calamari, snapper and grouper - but more on the grouper later. Local knowledge is everything! A fisherman tells me he has just seen dolphin, so we commandeer the resort's speedboat to find them – and It is not long before we are in the middle of two large pods of spinner dolphins. I can hear them inhaling loudly as they breach the surface. A few do those classic dolphin spins, for which they are named. It is an awesome sighting and I am overcome by emotion. I know just how lucky I am right now: it is the last week of January and, with much of the world in lockdown, I am in the Indian Ocean surrounded by the sheer majesty of this big blue, in the company of these beautiful, playful mammals. The 11 kilometres of pristine coral reef that envelopes Fanjove Island is a nursery for blacktip reef sharks and I make sure to snorkel very close to Abdullah, the water sports instructor.

Birdlife and sea turtles Within minutes of wading into the warm sea (28 degrees) I am floating above vivid orange and purple corals. There is up to 30 metres of visibility, shards of sunlight piercing the water and illuminating the pretty pelagic fish. We clock lion, clown, butterfly, damsel, angel fish and a turtle. It is easy to lose yourself for hours in this underwater, marine dreamscape. The island is also a haven for migratory birds and the Songo Songo archipelago is an important nesting area for hawksbill

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It is not long before we are in the middle of two pods of spinner dolphins

and green sea turtles. The island team have been trained to protect nests and record hatchling data. Fanjove Island and The Selous Safari Company partner with local communities in the Songo Songo archipelago, playing an active role in the conservation of the reef, with a percentage of revenue from guests paying for social development projects. There is no timetable on this ‘barefoot freedom’ island: you can do as much or as little, and at your own pace. But back to the grouper: toes in the sand, I tuck into simply the best fish burger ever, flavoured with lime, cumin and coriander and served with a side of sweet chili slaw.

Giraffes and hunting lions Just a few days earlier I spent three days at another Selous Safari Company property in Tanzania, Siwandu in Nyerere National Park (formerly called Selous Game Reserve). Sitting in the back of a safari vehicle as we drove into the palm forest along the shores of Lake Nzerakera the pandemic felt another world away. Nyerere NP is nicknamed #GirafficPark– how cool a moniker is that?! I am lucky enough to spend time with all Siwandu’s great guides: Chris, Amos, Mohamed and John found us journeys of giraffe, hunting lions, breeding herds of elephant, mud-bathing buffalo, and my personal favourite, the African wild dog. Siwandu's spacious octagonal tents, with mozzie netting sewn into their fabric, offer

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guests views of both the bush and lake. As I sat on the deck, listening to the call of fish eagles, it was meltyour-make-up-off humid – but that is what the alfresco bush shower is for! The elevated dining deck provides epic views of Lake Nzerakera and the BehoBeho mountains in the distance. Siwandu's head chef Edmund and his service team, Mau and Alphonse, are superstars, serving creative and cracking fresh East African fusion fare. Among their many imaginative creations was a crocodile-shaped brioche bread, which we were served during a surprise lunch on a pontoon, a slow moving boat with floats for buoyancy and a canopy for shaded cruises. Guests can enjoy a blissfully laid-back cruise past pods of honking hippopotamus. Fast forward to a sundowner game cruise, to the confluence of the mighty Rufiji River. As our speedboat zipped past palm-tree punctuated waterways, taking us up close to crocodiles and more hippos, I pause taking photos to appreciate that I am on a true African safari adventure. selous.com • Book it with... ARP Africa Travel The operator (arpafrica.com) has an 11-night option, with six nights at Fanjove Island, on a full-board basis (excludes drinks), and four nights at Siwandu on a full-board basis including local beer, house wine by the glass and non-premium spirits. Prices from $5,074pp, based on two sharing. This price includes internal flights and park fees but not international and regional flights.

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Nova Scotia

on a roll Fabulous seafood, scenic coastal drives, a rich maritime history and First Nations culture are among the many reasons why Stuart Forster loves returning to Nova Scotia

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obster used to be so inexpensive in Nova Scotia that it was once served in the province’s prisons. I am back in one of my favourite destinations and, if I am not careful, restaurateurs here may feel robbed. As one of four judges in the Nova Scotia Lobster Crawl Festivals’ Lobster Roll Challenge, I’m tasked with sampling and scoring lobster rolls during a blind tasting. Alain Bossé, a personality here with the moniker ‘The Kilted Chef’, has coached us in

how to score the rolls – flavour, presentation and their ‘wow factor’ are key criteria. Lobster rolls are nothing if not versatile: they are served with soup, crisps, salad and chips. Some zing with spices while others allow the lobster flavours to dominate. Participants pace nervously as the scores are totted. Captain Kat’s Lobster Shack, located in a community in the southwest part of the province that is the self-acclaimed Lobster Capital of Canada, is declared the winner – cue an eruption of joyful shouts. More than just a sandwich, a lobster roll can be everything from a chef’s signature dish to a long-used family recipe – and it’s a must-have treat when in Nova Scotia.

What to sell

LOBSTER ROLL– more than just a sandwich

Nova Scotia is two-thirds of the size of Scotland but home to less than a million people. Consequently, locals joke that they were social distancing long before it was fashionable. Self-drive tours offer numerous opportunities to visit points of interest while minimising interactions with others. Pausing along the 103-mile coastal route

between Debert and Apple River is a way of enjoying circular hikes, beaches and other points of interest in the Cliffs of Fundy UNESCO Global Geopark (fundygeopark. ca). It tells the story of the prehistoric supercontinent Pangea and was designated Nova Scotia’s sixth UNESCO site in 2020. Along with another UNESCO site, Joggins Fossils Cliffs (jogginsfossilcliffs.net), it attracts geology enthusiasts and photographers. “I used to not talk about my favourite hidden gem, Summerville Beach Provincial Park, just outside of Port Mouton. “It’s an incredible white-sand landscape, with a storied First Nation and European history, in an area known for its hospitality; it’s my favourite area in Canada,” says Geordie Mott, owner-operator of Picture Perfect Tours (pictureperfecttours.ca), who is keen to highlight one of Nova Scotia’s 20 provincial parks. Georges Island National Historic Site in Halifax Harbour (discoverhalifaxns. com) opened last year. Once a prison and internment camp, the fortress is the sixth property in the Halifax Defence

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Complex likely to appeal to military history enthusiasts. Boats cross to the island though adventure-minded travellers can kayak over, an experience offered by local operators. Nova Scotia’s rich seafaring heritage can be experienced during a stop at a fishing village, such as Blue Rocks, and at Halifax’s Maritime Museum of the Atlantic. In 2021 celebrations are being held to mark 100 years since the launch in Lunenburg of the Bluenose (bluenose100. ca), a fishing and racing schooner that proved itself unbeatable in the International Fisherman’s Trophy. Lunenburg is the home port of Bluenose II and in normal times visitors can explore her decks, go for a harbour cruise or even sign up to be a deck hand for a day. The Bluenose story is told in a revamped exhibition at Lunenburg’s Fisheries Museum of the Atlantic (fisheriesmuseum.novascotia. ca). Nearby, the Big Boat Shed, which was the site of the rebuild of the Bluenose II in 2016, hosts exhibits and workshops. Visitors can stop to watch skilled craftsmen building a new sailing vessel.

drone photographer: soar

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Lunenburg, a unesco world heritage site

Alain BOssé, ‘the kilted chef’

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skyline trail, cape breton higlands national park

“Nova Scotia is the perfect destination for a long overdue vacation and is just a short flight away from the UK,” says Patricia Pardy, Market Development Specialist, Tourism Nova Scotia. “We have over 13,000 km of coastal scenery, tonnes of fresh seafood and hundreds of outdoor activities that we can’t wait to share when it is safe for people to travel again.”

What’s new Peggy’s Cove: On the scenic Lighthouse Route west of Halifax, Peggy’s Cove is home to Canada’s most-photographed lighthouse. It will reopen this summer with upgrades to its visitor facilities, including a new viewing deck with views of the iconic landmark and surrounding rocks. Kejimkujik NP: Visitor facilities and trails have also been upgraded at Kejimkujik National Park and National Historic Site (pc. gc.ca), a dark sky preserve. Five heated Ôasis accommodation units, resembling lunar landing craft, overlook the lake. Keji’s o’TENTiks – a cross between a rustic cabin and a tent – now have

“Locals joke that they were social distancing long before it was fashionable. Self-drive tours offer numerous opportunities to visit points of interest while minimising interactions with others”

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Six of the best

Ferry old: North America’s oldest saltwater ferry service crosses Halifax Harbour, offering impressive, value-formoney views of the city skyline. Living history: Costumewearing reenactors revive bygone times at Sherbrooke Village, the Halifax Citadel and Fortress of Louisbourg National Historic Sites. Drink up: Sample craft beer, cider, spirits, mead and wine along the Nova Scotia Good Cheer Trail which showcases artisanal producers and their products while giving visitors a chance to win prizes. Whale watching: Twelve whale species can be seen in Nova Scotia’s waters. Operating on the Bay of Fundy from Tiverton, Ocean Explorations Zodiac Whale Watching Cruises offer knowledgeable insights into the creatures and their habitat.

halifax citadel National histOric site

heating. From the spring eight o’TENTiks can be booked at Grand-Pré National Historic Site, which tells the story of the settlement and expulsion of Acadian people of French descent. Wine and dine: Nova Scotia is one of three wine regions in Canada. The Annapolis Valley is home to over a dozen awardwinning wineries, including Domaine de Grand Pré (grandprewines.com). This spring, the Inn at the Winery will open, offering six rooms with views of the Annapolis Valley. A wine tasting here includes Tidal Bay, an aromatic white wine that is the first wine appellation for Nova Scotia. Guests can stay at the winery after enjoying the chef’s table dining experience or a meal at their onsite restaurant, Le Caveau, voted one of the best winery restaurants in the world. Halifax hotels: The five-star, 109-room MUIR (muirhotel.com) plans to open at Halifax’s waterfront Queen’s Marque development this summer. Featuring a guest-only art gallery, it will be Nova Scotia’s

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Rock solid: Fundy Geological Museum on the Bay of Fundy tells the story behind dinosaur fossil finds around Parrsboro. Guides lead beach tours showing dinosaur footprints and sharing legends of the Mi’kmaq First Nation.

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Scenic drives: Themed flexible driving routes offer frameworks for self-drive holidays. The Cabot Trail is rated among Canada’s best scenic routes, offering outstanding views of Cape Breton Highlands National Park.

first Marriott Autograph Collection property. Last year the 262-room Sutton Place Hotel (suttonplace.com) opened at Halifax’s state-of-the-art convention centre. Travellers concerned about social distancing can take their pick of new boutique cottages, chalets and accommodation on water. They include Ketch Cottage (vrbo. com) floating on the La Have River near Lunenburg, Valley View Cottages (valleyviewchalets.ca), overlooking Margaree Valley in Cape Breton and Vicar’s View Lighthouses (vicarsview.com) at Baddeck.

Where to book it Frontier Canada – 020 8776 8709 The tailor-made 14-night Lighthouses and Hidden Treasures tour explores places of interest across the province. Priced from £2,450pp, the tour includes return flights between Heathrow and Halifax, accommodation and 12 days’ car hire. frontier-canada.co.uk •

stuart forster Stuart has used the lockdown to learn how to make short videos. He’s also created fresh posts for his blog, go-eat-do.com, including tips on how to spend 48 hours in Halifax and ideas for exploring Nova Scotia beyond the province’s capital.

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Ticket to ride A rail journey could offer nervous clients an attractive alternative to flying and make them rethink that post-Covid trip, says Ben Lerwill

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the glacier express passing through oberalppass

n Switzerland, it pays not to rush. I’m nosing through the south of the country in a smart red train, travelling at the speed of something stuck behind a tractor. This is a good thing. Alpine peaks and valleys are sliding past in slow-motion, their proportions almost laughably gigantic. Here an icy-blue river frothing through a forest scene straight from Heidi, there a green mountainside that seems to stretch up to heaven itself. It’s hard, in all honesty, to find viable adjectives to describe the view. For now, let’s just stick with Swiss. The Glacier Express is one of Europe’s greatest rail journeys. On its seven-and-ahalf-hour trundle between St Moritz and Zermatt, it passes through 91 tunnels, crosses 291 bridges, and leaves you staring in every direction at once. At breakfast,

I’m having a coffee near the station in St Moritz and feeling the morning sun on my face. By early evening, having spent the day being fed and watered in a plush window seat, I’m outside staring up at the pyramidal perfection of the Matterhorn and savouring the high-altitude chill.

Slow and steady I’m far from the first to enjoy this spectacular A-to-B through the country’s mighty mountainscapes. It’s now more than nine decades since the Glacier Express’ inaugural journey in 1930, but as Covid restrictions hopefully continue to loosen, it’s the sort of travel experience that looks set to gain fresh popularity. Numerous headlines have suggested the pandemic could accelerate a shift of passengers from air to rail. Indeed,

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28 / Rail journeys

Silk Road stop on the Golden Eagle

investment firm UBS estimates that there will be 800 more high-speed trains operating in Europe within a decade. Tourist-focused rail itineraries will hold appeal not only in terms of slow travel and sustainability, but also because they make it relatively easy to stay socially distanced while enjoying good food, shifting views and the all-important escapism that travel brings. And many such holidays, of course, have the added benefit of embarkation here in the UK. Julian Appleyard, Commercial Director at Great Rail Journeys, says some travellers are definitely showing “airport apathy” and seeking out flight-free holidays. “Rail journeys typically offer more space, fewer travellers and the distance between you and other passengers is greater, allowing people to remain as socially distanced as possible,” he says. “It also offers a relaxing, stress-free way to explore the world, providing views and landscapes simply not possible by air.” These points are echoed by Simon Hodge, Founder and Managing Director at Tailor Made Rail, who makes a further observation: “For peace of mind, all UK and other European operators use rigorous safety protocols, including regular disinfecting of touch points on trains and social distancing,” he explains.

milan vintage tram

It’s worth pointing out, too, that railcentred holidays can often incorporate any number of other traditional travel elements, from city tours and hotel breaks to off-train excursions, and can even combine river cruises. Predicting how our long-term travel habits might have been altered by the events of the past 12 months is a tricky business. However, it seems likely that rail holidays – which chime with the more reflective, unrushed type of travel that could become more prominent – are on track for success.

What’s new? Tour operators: 2021 is being officially marketed as the European Year of Rail and Great Rail Journeys has tapped into the occasion by launching four new continental tours, including one which combines a trip on the Glacier Express with a cruise along the River Danube. Another rail specialist, Ffestiniog Travel, recently released its 2022 tour programme, with 23 tours already confirmed. They include a new ‘Trams & Trains’ itinerary in Italy, and a new tour in New Zealand. Railbookers will imminently be launching new e-brochures for the UK market, with three additional titles in response to

famous viaduct scenes on the jacobite steam train

demand: Luxury Rail Journeys, UK Holidays and Cruise Extensions. The company has also launched a ‘Pick Your Perk’ campaign to encourage upgrades. Over in North America, Rocky Mountaineer is broadening its scope by adding a new luxury rail trip in the southwest US. Beginning in August, the ‘Rockies to the Red Rocks’ route will be a two-day trip across Colorado and Utah. In Russia, Golden Eagle Luxury Trains is bringing in four new tours for 2022, with two operated by steam. This summer the company will be celebrating its 250th Trans-Siberian departure. In July 2022, Rovos Rail will introduce a 15-day expedition traversing Zimbabwe, Zambia, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Angola. The journey incorporates a three-day safari.

Where to book it Great Rail Journeys 01904 527180 Lakes and Mountains of Switzerland & Italy, a new-for-2021 tour, combines a journey on the Bernina Express with a train through Lake Geneva’s UNESCOlisted vineyards, as well as a scenic boat trip. The 12-day holiday is priced from £2,895pp, based on a departure in June. greatrail.com •

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RAIL TRIPS TO REMEMBER

The Winding shores of Lake Baikal on the trans Siberian express

Venice-Simplon Orient Express: The grande dame of

“Rail journeys typically offer more space, fewer travellers and the distance between you and other passengers is greater, allowing people to remain as socially distanced as possible”

luxury rail travel still has serious cachet. With a wide range of European journeys planned for 2021 and 2022, it makes a fine option for clients looking to celebrate a special occasion. The London-Venice route is the classic choice, but there are numerous alternatives, including the new Venice Simplon-Orient-Express Grand Tour routes cross Italy, Switzerland, Belgium, and The Netherlands.

Jacobite Steam Train: Travelling along the most scenic stretch of Scotland’s glorious West Highland Line – and crossing the Harry Potter viaduct – the Jacobite Steam Train can be a heavenly ride on a fine day. Journey times between Fort William and the fishing port of Mallaig are around two hours each way, so it’s best seen as a day out rather than a holiday in itself.

California Zephyr: This deeply

THE Rocky Mountaineer, CANADA

enjoyable three-day jaunt across the U.S. will take clients from Chicago right across to the outskirts of San Francisco, crossing some of the country’s most impressive landscapes along the way. Utah, Nevada and California all pass by. It’s not a luxury

service, but it has an observation car, onboard dining and sleeper cabins.

Bernina Express: Vying with the Glacier Express for the title of the Alps’ greatest train journey, the Bernina Express runs between the Swiss towns of Chur and Lugano, culminating close to the Italian border. The journey takes around four hours and panoramic cars allow for unrestricted mountain views from the highest railway in the Alps.

Golden Eagle Trans-Siberian Express: To most minds, this epic crossing of Siberia is the greatest train journey on the planet, stretching more than 9,000km from Moscow to Vladivostok. There are cheaper options out there, but the fully escorted private rail tours offered by Golden Eagle pride themselves on first-class service.

The Indian-Pacific: Australia is a big, big country, and this upmarket train highlights the fact. Named for the two oceans that bookend the route, the Indian Pacific travels from Perth on the west coast to Sydney on the east. Clients can expect three nights on board and some memorable off-train excursions, including a stop off in Adelaide, South Australia.

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Touring

in the UK With prospects for international travel still uncertain, a UK holiday could be the only chance clients have to break away this summer. Here are six options to explore closer to home

Off-the-beaten track Scotland One of Rabbie’s newest tours is a one-day adventure from Aberdeen which travels around a little-known section of Scotland’s rocky northeast coast. Guests will visit the coastal reserve of Spey Bay for the chance to spot dolphins; search for puffins at the Bullers of Buchan, a collapsed sea cave; wander the ruins of Slains Castle, which inspired Bram Stoker’s Dracula, and explore the old harbour of Portsoy. rabbies.com

City and coast combined Shearings’ four-day Northumbrian Coast and Durham tour explores quaint market towns like Alnwick and big cities such as Durham and Newcastle-upon-Tyne before a day on the Northumbrian Coast. Stops here include the fishing port of Craster. Weather permitting, guests will also visit Holy Island and Lindisfarne, famed as the birthplace of English Christianity. The tour is part of the ‘More Included’ collection. shearings.com

Wales by rail Planned for October this year is the fiveday Ffestiniog & Welsh Highland Railways – Behind the Scenes, an access all areas tour. It will explore over 40 miles of rail track from Caernarfon, through Snowdonia National Park to Blaenau Ffestiniog. Clients can step behind the scenes and visit sections of the line not normally seen by passengers It is hoped that the tours will help support heritage railways. ffestiniogtravel.com

Real Downton Abbey This five-day tour with Just Go! Holidays will delve into fascinating ‘society stories’ at some Britain’s most elegant manor houses and country estates – from Highclere Castle, the setting of the Downton Abbey TV series, to Hatchlands Park, a country house perched on the edge of the Surrey Hills. Each tour includes four nights at the Hampshire Court Hotel, with dinner and breakfast. justgoholidays.com

Explore beyond the shore Titan Travel’s Isle of White short break might allow clients to feel like they’re still going overseas by hopping on the ferry from Portsmouth to Fishbourne. The fiveday tour will sample the best of island life on this chalky rock just off the south coast, including its 25 miles of sweeping shoreline, traditional English villages and a host of coastal eateries specialising in fresh-fromthe-net seafood. Titantravel.co.uk

Cotswolds steam & cruise National Holidays will combine road, river and steam train on this five-day Cotswolds Cruise & Severn Valley Steam tour. The itinerary includes a heritage train journey on the Severn Valley Railway and a trip to the historic market towns of Stratford-uponAvon and Broadway, with a cruise along the River Avon. The tour pases through Worcester and the cathedral city of Hereford. nationalholidays.com

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Summer

seacations Cruise lines have sprung into action since the UK’s roadmap to recovery was revealed, adapting summer 2021 programmes to offer domestic cruises. Kerry Spencer looks at the options Why sell it With the UK’s Covid-19 vaccination programme well underway and the roadmap to recovery set out by Boris Johnson opening up domestic tourism from May 17, things are finally starting to look up for British holidaymakers and travel agents. Richard Courts, the UK’s Minister for Aviation & Maritime, has tentatively given the go-ahead for domestic cruises to restart from the same date, a move welcomed by CLIA UK & Ireland and the UK’s Chamber of Shipping. In response, cruise lines have been quick to unveil British Isles programmes to entice cruisers this summer. Princess Cruises unveiled a comprehensive domestic cruise programme featuring 22 departures from Southampton on Regal and Sky Princess, but strictly for COVID-19 vaccinated UK residents. Tony Roberts, Princess Cruises UK & Europe VP, says: “While international travel remains uncertain, these new cruises mean that UK residents can take a well-deserved holiday around the UK. “We are also delighted that our new cruises will offer the choice between scenic voyages and port-of-call itineraries where guests can visit the historic UK cities of Liverpool, Belfast and Glasgow.” It also presents agents with an opportunity

Cruisers can tick stone henge off the bucket list

Craggy Cornwall is one of England’s most Scenic Shorelines

to entice non-cruisers who perhaps want to “still feel as if they were overseas”. Then there’s clients who might want to dip their toe into the cruising world with a UK sailing the perfect way to convince them to give it a try. If they like it, agents may have a repeat cruiser for life!

What to sell With miles of scenic coastline, chocolate box villages and historic ports, a British Isles

Fred. Olsen’s Spirit of Adventure

cruise offers a bucket list-worthy holiday and the chance for Brits to get back on some of their favourite cruise lines. A boon for travel agents is the sheer scope of domestic cruises available — both this year and next. From short cruises on the Jurassic Coast to port-intensive sailings, every type of cruiser is covered. There are caveats, though, with some lines only offering scenic cruises with no port stops. Among those lines planning on it being several months before international cruises can resume is Cunard, which has pivoted with domestic sailings by repositioning the Queen Elizabeth from the Med to the UK. Simon Palethorpe, Cunard President, says: “With the UK Government confirming that domestic travel is likely to happen we are introducing a series of exciting, shorterduration trips for Brits looking for the perfect staycation in Cunard luxury. These will be sailings from Southampton, for UK residents, around the UK and will make the very most of the summer sunshine.”

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

residents – won’t require passengers to be vaccinated. New ship Viking Venus will sail three voyages, ex-Portsmouth, following the ship’s christening in May.

What’s new A wealth of new ships – from Saga’s boutique-style Spirit of Adventure to P&O Cruises’ megaship Iona and Tradewind Voyages’ tall ship Golden Horizon – means there’s a vessel for every taste. Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines’ new ships are among those offering domestic cruises this summer, including two July departures: the eight-night Lochs & Legends of Scotland cruise on Borealis, departing Liverpool, from £1,399pp, and the meatier 13-night Scenic Islands of the British Isles on Bolette from Dover, from £2,499pp. Riviera Travel’s new MS Seaventure will suit holidaymakers looking for a small-ship experience. Carrying just 170 passengers and with a 2:1 guest-to-crew ratio, the intimate vessel will sail an eight-day Scottish Highlands cruise, departing Edinburgh and Glasgow in July, from £1,999pp.

Cunard’s Queen Elizabeth has returned to sail The UK

Who to sell to

Happisburgh Lighthouse, Norfolk

visit britain/ollie kent

Social distancing measures on deck

The good news for agents is that cruise lines have opened up sailings with departures around England and Scotland. Age will play a factor, with several lines requiring all passengers to be vaccinated against Covid-19 – effectively ruling out any under 18s and adults who’ve not yet received both doses of the vaccine. Families excited to get back on the ocean waves can opt for a sailing on MSC Cruises’ Magnifica, which will not require passengers to be vaccinated, on a short-break or weeklong cruise around the British Isles, from May 20, 2021. One of the biggest surprises is that P&O Cruises is mandating vaccinations, with family-friendly ships Britannia and Iona essentially open to adults only this summer. Sailings include Iona’s new seven-night maiden voyage to the ship’s namesake Scottish island, from £1,199pp, departing Southampton in August. Dedicated 50-plus cruise line Saga will also mandate vaccinations, though sailings fall later in the year, including the five-night Celtic Escape voyage from Southampton, departing in September, from £1,124pp. Upmarket line Viking – offering some of the earliest post-lockdown sailings for UK

Covid-safe cruising Cruise lines are going to great lengths, including working with public health experts, scientists and Government agencies, to ensure ships are safe when passengers return this summer. Passengers and crew can expect to follow enhanced health and safety protocols that include testing, wearing a face mask in public areas, social distancing, reduced capacity and regular hand sanitising. Among the lines to insist guests take a Covid-19 test before boarding is MSC Cruises. Antonio Paradiso, the line’s Managing Director UK & Ireland, says: “It’s time for UK holidaymakers to get back onboard and enjoy a well-deserved break from what has been a very challenging 12 months for everyone in so many ways. “We will welcome both vaccinated and non-vaccinated guests. All guests will be tested prior to embarkation, while nonvaccinated guests will also be required to show proof of negative test.” • Book it with... Fred. Olsen Bolette’s five-night T217 ‘Touring Scenic Orkneys & Shetlands’ cruise is priced from £799pp and includes £100pp of ship credit. The cruise departs from Dover on August 24, 2021. fredolsencruises.com/agent

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Join us as we set sail around the British Isles this summer. Our new itineraries have been specially crafted for our smaller ships, for you to explore the waters and inlets right on our doorstep, see their beautiful scenery and wildlife, and breathe in the fresh sea air. These cruises are short and sweet, between three and seven nights — the perfect way to dip your toe back in the water and experience Fred. Olsen’s warm, civilised atmosphere. WI N A 2 02 2 7- N I G HT CRU I S E Register your 2021-23 sales through our Travel Agent Centre to enter

DEPARTURE

IT IN E RARY

S A I L I N G FR OM

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CRUISE ID

PRICES FROM*

05/07/21

Borealis’ Maiden Voyage

Liverpool

Borealis

3

S212

£499pp

08/07/21

Scenic British Isles & Summer Wildlife

Liverpool

Borealis

4

S213

£549pp

12/07/21

Touring Scenic Scotland

Liverpool

Borealis

5

S214

£749pp

17/07/21

Scenic Orkney & Faroe Islands

Liverpool

Borealis

5

S215

£699pp

22/07/21

Touring Scenic Orkneys & Shetlands

Liverpool

Borealis

7

S216

£1,099pp

28/07/21

Welcoming Back Balmoral

Rosyth (Edinburgh)

Balmoral

3

L212

£399pp

31/07/21

Scenic Norwegian Fjords

Rosyth (Edinburgh)

Balmoral

5

L213

£749pp

16/08/21

Bolette’s Maiden Voyage

Dover

Bolette

3

T215

£479pp

19/08/21

Scenic British Isles & Summer Wildlife

Dover

Bolette

5

T216

£699pp

23/08/21

Touring Scenic British Isles

Liverpool

Borealis

5

S2130

£799pp

24/08/21

Touring Scenic Orkneys & Shetlands

Dover

Bolette

5

T217

£799pp

Plus, guests booking now can enjoy up to £100pp on board spend *

fredolsencruises.com/agent * Terms and conditions apply, prices accurate at 29th March 2021, based on two sharing an interior cabin. Please check for up-to-date information before quoting. For full terms and conditions please visit fredolsencruises.com/offer-terms

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Be Inspired

34 / Weddings & honeymoons

Worth

the wait Lockdown has allowed couples to save hard and dream big, with many planning on splashing the cash to have the ultimate destination wedding – when they can, says Debbie Ward

W

eddings and honeymoons are traditionally booked well ahead so, with vaccines now in progress this lucrative sector is showing some movement and, better still, couples are in the mood to upgrade. So has the pandemic made people more or less keen to wed abroad? The Bodrum EDITION hotel believes the appeal of a destination wedding will be even greater after the ‘lost year of travel’ and has launched an Ultimate Takeover Package to encourage exclusive hire parties complete with beach barbecues and poolside live music. Planet Holidays is more circumspect: “The appeal continues for the same reasons as pre-Covid: guaranteed weather, exceptional value for money and a great way to bring family and friends together in an idyllic location,” says MD Matilde Robert, though she believes guest counts will likely stay small for now. “There will be elderly relatives that will not wish to risk flying just yet and with

those clients we emphasise wedding venues where the ceremony can be watched via an internet connection, so the older relatives could gather in a local UK pub to watch the proceedings.” Meanwhile, with a reduced team, Kuoni has temporarily paused new weddings to concentrate on a wave of honeymoon bookings and has noted couples using lockdown to plan these much further in advance.

Upgrades and add-ons There are clearer indications when it comes to couples splashing the cash. “Now that many have had an extra year to save towards their dream honeymoon we have seen lots of requests for different add-ons,” says Debbie Goffin, Director of Sales and Marketing for Premier Holidays. “These include upgrading from fourstar hotels and resorts to more luxurious accommodation – including on exclusive islands – and room upgrades, in particular to villa-style accommodation.”

Kirker’s Marketing Manager, Patrick Millar agrees: “We’ve noticed that many clients who have been forced to postpone celebrations by a year are looking to treat themselves in style when they finally travel, which means spending more and staying longer. The average duration of stay is up by a third and the average spend is up by 40% year-on-year.” However he warns the knock-on effect of postponements and longer stays is that popular luxury hotels in romance hotspots like Tuscany, Sicily, the South of France and Venice are already full for peak dates. Kuoni says the “saving and upgrading” trend has caused its average honeymoon booking to jump by over £500 to £8,247 for 2021. Postponements have also led to a two-figure rise in “double honeymoons”, with couples taking a short break in Italy, Greece, Spain, the UK or Ireland, after their, often downsized, UK wedding and saving for a big long-haul trip when restrictions have eased. Planet hasn’t noticed such recent shifts

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A beach wedding at NIZUC Resort & Spa in Mexico

The Maldives remains a best seller for destination weddings

canteiroweddings

bush dinner in Ulusaba private game reserve, South Africa

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Italy is a favoured spot for the ‘double honeymoon’ trend

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36 / Weddings & honeymoons

Jungle Bubbles at Anantara Golden Triangle Resort, Northern Thailand

in spending but says couples now often draw out the celebrations with their guests with activities such as pizza parties the day before the wedding, wine tastings, cooking and cocktail-making classes and, more extravagantly, post-nuptial sailing trips. Robert explains: “There has been a trend in the past six years or so to extend the wedding to three days of celebrations. Indian families do this as a matter of course but many more couples are picking up on this.” For families kept apart by the pandemic, shifting a wedding overseas can offer a greater opportunity to reconnect. “The added advantage of a wedding abroad is that most of the family and friends attending will stay for a minimum of three and four days, which offers all those invited a way to get to know each other,” says Robert. For those saving for extra flourishes, last minute details work fine. She adds: “We work with local suppliers and that means we can add anything, even up to 24 hours before they say ‘I do’ – and agents can make some healthy commission on the extras booked through us too.”

Other romance trends Premier has been seeing greater interest in health and wellness for honeymoons, particularly all-inclusive spa treatments. “Clients wish to feel that they’re contributing to the area they’re visiting in a positive manner, even more so after recent events,” says Goffin. Spa retreats, private pool villas and African tented camps are also trending for Kuoni. The Maldives, Sri Lanka and Mauritius still top its best-selling honeymoon destinations, though, thanks to a boom in “bucket list” trips, safaris in Kenya and Tanzania have jumped from eighth to fourth place.

New product New product reflects couples’ desire for something extra special to make up for the privations of lockdown. Kirker ran a complimentary wine pairing promotion to welcome clients back to the Orient Express, which took a year off in 2020. The train will visit a host of new cities, with these special departures including Amsterdam, Brussels, Geneva, Florence and Rome sure to sell out well in advance. “Clients want to add on those ‘once in a

lifetime’ unique experiences.... the more Instagram-able the better!” says Goffin. With this in mind, Premier has added transparent, igloo-style Jungle Bubbles at Anantara Golden Triangle Resort in Northern Thailand and the Stargazer Camp at Bellevue Forest Reserve, South Africa, which features alfresco four-poster beds. Planet has added grand new venues in the Italian Lakes and The SoCo Hotel Barbados’s new wedding packages include a honeymoon room upgrade, flower arrangements and photography.

Selling tips Offering special upgrades and add-ons should help agents land more romance bookings. For clients whose 2020 UK wedding was a scaled down affair an overseas vow renewal may be an attractive idea. And, for those yet to marry, painting an overseas wedding as an opportunity to reconnect with family and friends might clinch a switch from a ceremony at home. Remember though that couples need to get their venues and dates locked in now if they are to beat the post-pandemic rush. •

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Be inspired

38 / Bright ideas

Mexican blessings NIZUC luxury resort offers a uniquely Mexican ceremony for the wedding party. Couples can opt to have a Mayan shaman perform a ceremony on the beach, where they will seek the blessing of the earth, water, air and fire elements. Or they can plump for a ‘bohemian’ wedding breakfast with traditional Mexican table decorations and flower crowns. nizuc.com

Create your own beat LUX* South Ari Atoll’s Married in the Maldives packages are all about embracing island traditions and spirituality. Brides can walk down the aisle to the sound of traditional bodu beru drums before being blessed by a celebrant. The couple is then showered with petals, which signify a colourful and fragrant future together. luxresorts.com

Sail away

Book in some guaranteed highs by suggesting clients marry in Morocco’s Atlas Mountains. Couples will enjoy spectacular views of the mountainous landscape, accompanied by a traditional Moroccan ceremony with cushions, flowers and rugs, before heading back to Kasbah Tamadot retreat for a North African feast. Newlyweds will love the romance and seclusion of the Berber Tented suites. virginlimitededition.com

susan croft photography

On top of the world

Tradition Sailing offers customised private charters sailing around Anguilla in the Caribbean. Couples can hire the yacht with up to 14 friends and say their vows as the sun goes down – jumping in is optional! The Gold Star Charters include catering, Champagne cocktails, a premium open bar and other luxuries. tradition-sailing.com

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Woodland wonder Couples that want to feel connected to nature on their big day can say ‘I do’ surrounded by the world’s oldest rainforest at the Rainforest Lakes venue in Kuranda, in tropical Queensland, Australia. There’s an aura about this World Heritage site but ceremonies still feel intimate and romantic. After the ceremony, there’s a reception at the Founders Pavilion. rainforestlakes.com.au

The ultimate trio Jet-setting couples can squeeze the most out of their nuptials with One & Only’s Elope & Stay two-week three-location package. The trip starts with a pre-wedding mini-moon in Rwanda. Leaving the gorillas behind, couples are whisked away to Dubai for a three-night stopover to choose their rings, before their beach wedding and honeymoon in the Maldives. Abercrombiekent.co.uk

Wed in the wild A safari is the ultimate destination wedding – as long as clients don’t mind some uninvited guests! Located in the heart of the South African bush, Ulusaba caters for couples who want to combine a wedding with some game viewing. Ulusaba can host up to 42 guests when both Rock and Safari Lodges are booked exclusively. virginlimitededition.com

Cave in Takaka in New Zealand is home to The Ngarua Caves. They may be dimly lit but the acoustics are unmatched. Couples have exclusive use of the caves in the early evenings and can tie the knot surrounded by stalagmites and stalactites. Later, they can indulge in a celebration picnic at sunset. thedreammaker.co.nz

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Trade talk

40 / The review news

Green for go this summer? A number of destinations have announced they are ready to welcome back UK visitors without the need for a PCR test, providing they are fully vaccinated. Among those enticing Brits with a summer holiday is Malta, which is second to the UK in terms of European countries vaccinating its population. Tolene Van Der Merwe, Director UK & Ireland of Malta Tourism Authority, said: “Malta is a very popular destination for British holidaymakers, so we are excited to be welcoming back fullyvaccinated Brits from June 1, 2021.” UK passengers will no longer have to provide a negative PCR test if they have been vaccinated at least 10 days prior to arriving in the country. Cyprus also plans to be one of the first European countries to put the welcome mat out to vaccinated British visitors. From May, UK arrivals will need to have had their second booster jab at least seven days before travelling but will not have to show a negative Covid test or face a period of self-isolation in the country. The Seychelles, Portugal and the Dominican Republic plan to open to UK visitors as soon as international travel is allowed to resume, providing arrivals test

• Aer Lingus to U.S. from

Manchester

Aer Lingus will operate its first-ever services direct from Manchester to the U.S. and the Caribbean this summer. The airline will commence four new routes from Manchester Airport, flying to New York JFK and Orlando, from July 29, to Barbados from October 20 and to Boston from summer 2022. aerlingus.com negative. A spokesperson for the Dominican Republic said the country is appealing to younger audiences and families who may not have been fully vaccinated but are eager to get away once they are able to do so. Meanwhile, Turkey expects to open ‘unconditionally’. Mehmet Nuri Ersoy, The Minister of Culture and Tourism of Turkey, said: “We will not require vaccination passports from international travellers and I expect there will be no such requirement [as a negative PCR test] from British visitors. “The UK Government is rapidly and impressively rolling out its vaccination programme and a significant portion of the UK population should be vaccinated by early summer.”

ONEE Travel launches A B2B marketplace built specifically for travel agents interested in the luxury rental market has been launched. Described as a ‘distribution revolution in luxury travel’, ONEE is a business-tobusiness (B2B) marketplace that facilitates bookings between professional holiday property managers and travel advisors. Built for and with the needs of travel agents at the forefront, ONEE’s booking platform provides travel professionals direct access to exclusive holiday rental listings that are otherwise ‘off-market’. The ONEE platform features a global portfolio of hand-picked and professionally managed luxury properties, along with

NEWS IN BRIEF

visibility of commission rates, with agents able to secure up to 20% commission. The platform eliminates much of the admin work through automated and swift transaction management – from planning to booking, invoicing, amendments, etc. Agents who sign up benefit from pricing transparency, guaranteed commission, the ability to set their own margin and facilitated and increased supplier access. CEO and Founder Onur Takmak, says: ”At a time when many travel agents are being pushed out by digitalisation and the growth of OTAs (Online Travel Agents), ONEE champions well-advised travel and puts travel agents at the core of the business.” onee.com

• Kenya specialist debuts The Kenya Tourism Board (KTB) has launched an interactive e-learning platform for the trade. Modules on the Magical Kenya Travel Specialist Programme include an introduction to the different regions, the travel experiences available yearround and itinerary suggestions. magicalkenyatravelspecialist.com

• EasyJet expands from

Birmingham

EasyJet and easyJet holidays will operate new routes and package holidays from Birmingham Airport for summer 2021. From June 29 passengers will be able to fly from Birmingham Airport to holiday in Majorca, Málaga and Alicante in Spain, Faro in Portugal and Corfu in Greece. easyjet.com

• Just You launches 2022

solo holidays

Just You has added 2022 dates to its European and Worldwide solo traveller dedicated holidays. The operator launched its 2022 programme with an early bird discount of £1,00pp on selected holidays when booked before April 30, 2021. justyou.co.uk

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41

NEWS

Agents well placed to cash in on the return of the high street Kelly Cookes, Leisure Director at Advantage Travel, speaks to Charlotte Flach

Travel and the role of travel agents is changing, perhaps for the better, with Advantage’s own surveys showing that more people than ever will book through agents post-pandemic. “The need for a travel agent will increase, and as we come out of this destinations will adapt as well, so there’s lots of opportunity there for members to really sell their expertise to a customer,” says Kelly Cookes, Leisure Director at Advantage Travel. Agents can capitalise on this by reconnecting with their customers to gauge pent-up demand, increasing product knowledge in their teams for destinations that are looking likely to be open and growing their databases, Cookes advises. “Clients are going to need professional advice on what to book, how to book and what that experience is going to be like. “It’s a great opportunity for agents to start putting the name of their business out there and getting some attention from those customers they haven’t worked with before.” Advantage has been championing its members throughout the pandemic, from supporting them with social media assets when shops closed during the first lockdown

to the launch of campaigns such as ‘Say a bit more positive over the Easter weekend Hello to’, which focused on destinations that with all the press coverage of the traffic light were open to providing financial advice on system,” she adds. initiatives, including the furlough scheme However, the PM’s update left the and grants. industry feeling disappointed, with Cookes One of the biggest challenges for the pointing to the “huge amount of gaps entire industry over the last year has been in the documentation” around how the the Government’s lack of understanding traffic light system will work, how it will be around what international travel is, communicated and how countries says Cookes. will be categorised. She is “It’s not just people going on hopeful there will be some More people holiday; you’ve got visiting improvement on the previous than ever will friends and family, there’s system, adding that it needs book through business travel and then more streamlining to be agents you’ve got all the different helpful to agents and clients. parts of the industry trying “The way the countries move to get their needs across to the between the different categories Government,” she says. has to be clearer, and we need a certain Following Boris Johnson’s Easter Monday amount of time between moving from one announcement, a brief moment of optimism category to another to allow agents to look among the UK travel trade was immediately after their customers.” dashed by a lack of clarity around a restart There is also a big focus on vaccine date for travel. passports, which have been talked about “There was no news, was there?,” says extensively as one of the solutions for Cookes. “We were always expecting the enabling safe travel in the future, but Cookes announcement to be on April 12, so we were is sceptical. “I don’t think we can rely on it all quite surprised when the April 5 date as the sole answer, we also need to have started being mentioned. We began to feel affordable and accessible testing.” However, the return of non-essential retail [from April 12] offers a glimmer of hope for increasing footfall into high street travel agencies, meaning agents will be able to take advantage of valuable face-to-face interactions to make potential sales. About 80% of our members that have a retail presence hoped to open on April 12,” says Cookes. “There’ll be more people on the high street so from a marketing point of view agencies will be able to start using their shop windows a bit more. “It does mean that people will come in and talk about travel: about 60% of our bookings at the moment are for next year onwards, so we’re definitely seeing the will to want to travel, it’s just the uncertainty around this summer and the rest of the year.” advantagemembers.com

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Trade talk

Sponsored by: Seamless Travel Marketing Supported by: Charitable Travel Fund

42 / Show report Europe

Uniting the world Selling Travel was the media partner at three of the annual Unite events. Here’s the latest news from Unite Europe, Pacific & Australasia.

Jersey lights up for Brits Visit Jersey has reintroduced a ‘Safer Travel Policy’, allowing the Channel Island to reopen to British holidaymakers in a phased manner from April 26. Under the first stage of the plan, the island will reinstate red, amber and green classifications for regions of the UK, with different testing and isolation requirements from each category. Whilst Jersey is not among those destinations on the UK international travel ban, those wanting to holiday from the UK will be required to provide their travel histories in advance through an online portal and undertake PCR tests upon arrival, and on days five and 10 of their visit. Those travelling from green regions must self-isolate on arrival while waiting for their

first test result. Those from an amber zone will self isolate until the second negative test on the fifth day and those from red zones must wait for a negative test on the tenth day. Jet2.com and Loganair will offer additional flights to Jersey this summer. jersey.com

Banyan Tree’s Europe debut Wellbeing and sustainability-focused Banyan Tree Group will mark its first property in Europe with the opening of Angsana Corfu in Greece. The 196-key resort will open this month (April) with pool villas with sea or countryside views, a Spa, a yoga deck and watersports. With a location south of Corfu Town, it puts guests close to the UNESCO World Heritage site of Corfu Old Town and Achilleion Palace. angsana.com

Malta’s hotel with a heart Overlooking the Grand Harbour in Valletta is the recently-opened Iniala Harbour Hourse & Residences. Spread across four townhouses, the Maltese property has 23 rooms and suites, a lounge bar, gym, rooftop restaurant

as well as indoor pool and spa, which will open later this year. A percentage of profits are donated to the Inspirasia Foundation, Iniala Group’s grant-making foundation that is dedicated to funding and supporting non-profit initiatives. inialamalta.com

NEWS IN BRIEF • Italian villa offer Italy My Way is offering complimentary transfers from the airport for every villa booking made by June 30, 2021 for stays in 2021 or 2022. The experiential DMC, which specialises in luxury travel and destination wedding and honeymoon programmes, is offering commission on all agent bookings. italy-my-way.com

• Historic stays in Florence The five-star TIL Tornabuoni is due to open later this year in the heart of Florence, Italy. The 62-room property dates back to the 15th century and is one of the oldest buildings in the historic centre. Guests can enjoy views of Florence from the rooftop terrace and request a wine and champagne masterclass, or cooking masterclass during their stay. iltornabuonihotel.it

• Hyatt’s urban appeal A new Hyatt Regency has opened its doors in Malta, overlooking St. George’s Bay. The property has 151 rooms, including 12 suites, and is described as an ‘urban resort hotel’. The property features a wellness centre with a sauna and ice room as well as a heated indoor pool and fitness studio. hyatt.com

• Zafiro puts safety first Mallorcan company Zafiro Hotels has introduced Relax & Care, a travel insurance policy providing free medical assistance during a stay at any Zafiro hotel. The insurance covers against illness, including Covid-19, and includes cancellation insurance for nonflexible rates. zafirohotels.com

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Cook Islands promotes green tours The Cook Islands has introduced a series of ‘green’ tours in a bid to push sustainable development in the tourism sector. The tours, which fall under new ecofriendly initiative ‘A Step in the Green Direction’, teaches visitors about the islands’ environmental and cultural values. Available to book is The Arii Moana walking tour, an eco-educational guided walk which explores Rarotonga’s hard coral reefs. It allows visitors to learn about the marine life without having to dive. For a cultural immersion, Tumutoa Tours teaches the traditional skills many Cook Islanders still practice today. Tours include the Umu and Walking Discovery Tour, Fire Show Tour and Raemaru Legends Trek. A one-click contact feature has been

NEWS IN BRIEF

added to the Visit Cook Islands website which connects agents to a specialist who has been to the Cook Islands. The OTT Specialist Training programme has also been updated. visit.cookislands.travel

Samoa invests in tourism The Samoa Tourism Authority is investing in its tourist hot spots to ensure they are ready when borders reopen. Renovation works are taking place on attractions including the Afu Aau Waterfall at Palauli, Saleaula Lava Fields and Sopoaga Falls at Lotofaga. The tourist board has also developed a travel-ready toolkit and increased, health, safety and hygiene measures. samoa.travel

• Yasawa specials Yasawa Island Resort & Spa in Fiji has a host of special offers to entice travellers in 2021 and beyond. The resort is offering free round-trip flight transfers for two guests between Nadi and Yasawa included in its nightly rates. In addition, guests save 15% if they stay for six nights or longer and receive resort credit if they visit off-season from November through March. yasawa.com

• Cruise the Austral islands Aranui Cruises has launched new island-hopping cruise itineraries aboard Aranui 5 for 2022. One of the new voyages explores the Austral islands, located 600km south of Tahiti. On this new 11-day cruise Aranui 5 will pay visits to four of the islands in the archipelago from 8 - 18 January 2022. aranui.com

Fiji commits to prioritising visitor safety The Care Fiji Commitment programme will boost confidence as the country looks to reopen its borders, says Tourism Fiji. The Care Fiji Commitment has been designed to reassure visitors that Fiji is a safe destination to visit by demonstrating its health and safety guidelines. Policies include enhanced sanitation across all tourism businesses, physical distancing practices, contact tracing protocols and “case identification” procedures. All Fijian businesses can join the programme and commit to adopting the Government’s Covid Safe Guidelines through the nomination of a Wellness Ambassador, who will complete a training programme, create an action plan and

train tourism front line staff on best practice Covid measures. Over 200 of the islands’ tourism suppliers, including resorts, tour operators, restaurants and attractions, have signed up. Travellers will be encouraged to download the careFIJI app, which ensures that visitors that have had any contact with a Covid case will be quickly identified. Those looking to travel to Fiji once borders reopen will be asked to postpone their travel if they feel sick and abide by the islands’ health and safety protocols as part of the commitment. Fiji has considered itself “COVIDcontained” since June 5, 2020. fiji.travel

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