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MAY/JUNE 2021 • SELLINGTRAVEL.CO.UK

GREEN SHOOTS

Portugal and Madeira are enjoying a rush of travel-starved UK holidaymakers

how to sell...

North American road trips Island destinations Seychelles Hong Kong

STANDING BY TRAVEL AGENTS

Nashville

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Contents /

All around the world

inside this issue Trend-watching 08 RV Trips in North America: From scenic Nova Scotia to the sunny Florida Keys 11 Travel Talk: Tourism Australia and Sovereign Luxury Travel 12 Foursight: Agents are stuck at the traffic lights

NASHVILLE

16

BRIGHT IDEAS

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Globe-hopping 14 UK Cruising: The top ten sailings this summer 16 Destination update: What's new in Nashville 18 Six of the best: City highlights in Tampa Bay 19 Madeira: Why the spotlight's on this green list destination 23 Six of the best: Spots in Central Florida 24 Introducing: Natural Hong Kong 26 Six of the best: Ways to be outdoors in Michigan

SEYCHELLES

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UK CRUISING

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UNITE SHOW REVIEW

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Be inspired 28 Island destinations: Why everyone's dreaming of an island paradise 32 Seychelles: These islands are welcoming Brits back 36 Bright Ideas: Remote island getaways

Trade talk

RV TRIPS

ALBERTA

08

22

42 Unite show review: A round-up from Unite Indian Ocean, Middle East and Visit USA

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4 / Welcome EDITORIAL EDITORIAL DIRECTOR Steve Hartridge

ASSISTANT EDITOR Jessica Pook

May /June

Come on and let me know

WRITERS Charlotte Flach, Lynn Houghton, Laura Gelder, Jools Stone & Ben West

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

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

CIRCULATION MANAGER Shani Kunar

MANAGING DIRECTOR Matt Bonner

CEO Martin Steady

DESIGN & PRODUCTION DESIGNER Caitlan Francis

PRODUCTION & STUDIO MANAGER Clare Hunter

PRODUCTION ADMINISTRATOR Steve Hunter

COVER IMAGE

The fishing village of Camara de Lobos, Madeira. It is overlooked by Cabo Girao, at 580 metres the world's secondhighest steep cliff

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s spring shuffles aside and the sun finally makes its overdue appearance, there is still doubt whether this summer's Great British Getaway will take place. As I write, the picture is as clear as Brighton's seawater after a stormy night: the 'Indian variant' is on the march, European countries such as France and Germany have closed their borders to British travellers and our emergence out of the final stage of lockdown, scheduled for June 21, is in some doubt. After 15 months of this strange new world, we should be used to this but, to mangle a phrase, it is the uncertainty that kills you. Steve Hartridge EDITORIAL DIRECTOR A month ago, our hopes and expectations were high - until we saw details of the Government's traffic light system. The 'green list' signalled happy days ahead for Portugal and Madeira (read all about the delights of this sub-tropical Atlantic island, starting on page 19) and Gibraltar, but there was little else to get clients rushing to their local travel agency. And let's not even mention the confusing amber list. The words of that old The Clash song seem particularly apropos to travel agents trying to give the right advice to clients asking: "Should I stay or should I go now? If I go, there will be trouble, and if I stay it will be double...So come on and let me know...Should I stay or should I go?" But there are reasons to be cheerful. As I write, the first of the many cruise ships that will circle the British Isles this summer is sailing in home waters, tour operator and tourism board reps are back on the road visiting agents and an update of that green list is just days away. That revision seems likely to include some island destinations - perhaps the Canary Islands, some Greek Isles, Malta and Caribbean destinations such as Antigua and Barbuda, St. Kitts and Nevis and Anguilla (see our Islands feature starting on page 28). There is even growing speculation that the restart of 'normal' transatlantic air travel is just weeks away. For now, as cruise specialist James Hill says on page 12, agents should be "holding clients’ hands" until that more certain future is with us.

(PRINT) ISSN 2056-9319. © BMI PUBLISHING LTD 2021.

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

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Travel Talk /

5

Louisiana Ras Al Khaimah

Louisiana

Ras Al Khaimah is known as the nature emirate. Our skyline is dominated by the highest mountain in the UAE.” - Raki Phillips, RAKTDA

“Almost all visitors from the UK to Louisiana go on a swamp tour or visit a plantation home.” - Mike Prejean, Louisiana Office of Tourism sellingtravel.co.uk

sellingtravel.co.uk

Australia Tourism Australia

Nova Scotia Spots

“My advice for first-time visitors would be not to try and do it all at once. Base a trip around a client’s intrests.” Sally Cope, Tourism Australia. sellingtravel.co.uk

With over 8,000 miles of coastline dotted with beaches and fishing villages, there’s plenty to see in Nova Scotia. Take a tour of six top spots... sellingtravel.co.uk

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6 // New New beginnings beginnings

Cairo to Lisbon

WORDLY WATERWAYS

PHOTO BY DIMITRY-ANIKIN ON UNSPLASH

Uniworld Boutique River Cruises will sail a Rivers of the World cruise in May 2023. The 46-night itinerary will visit nine countries aboard five luxury ‘Super Ships’, combining both cruise and land. The journey begins in Egypt before crossing the Mediterranean to cruise through the Swiss Alps, Italy, Hungary, Austria, Germany, France, Portugal and Spain. A 10% early booking discount prices the trip at £28,313pp. uniworld.com

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Ecuador

INTO THE JUNGLE A new addition to Sacha Lodge in Ecuador’s Amazon Basin is the Canopy Exploration Crane. Assisted by a naturalist guide, the crane allows visitors to be elevated 150 feet above the forest floor and silently drop in on monkeys, sloths, toucans and macaws. Another main attraction is a 940-foot-long canopy walkway suspended above the ground. The lodge is currently offering 25% off all 2021 tours booked by June 30, 2021, along with 20% commission. sachalodge.com

Austria

HIGH ON A HILL The KAT Walk Family in the Kitzbühel Alps is the first long-distance hiking route in Tirol designed with families in mind. Pause at a petting zoo, swim in an old quarry or even stop for a spot of climbing – there are plenty of interactive stations to keep active minds busy along the way. The 76km mountainous trail has been divided into five stages, although distances can be made shorter by taking the bus or cable car. To lighten the load, luggage is transported from accommodation to accommodation. kitzbueheler-alpen.com

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8 / RV road trips

Feeling of

freedom

istock.com / Frederick Thelen

Lynn Houghton takes an RV road trip in Northern California, a mode of holidaying that gives clients control of both their itinerary and travel choices

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he Steller’s Jays are irritated. It is the fourth night of our stay at the Gualala Point Campground and I am discovering how territorial these feathered friends can be. This intimate campsite sits under a canopy of redwood trees on the Gualala River, which bisects Sonoma and Mendocino counties in Northern California. With Thursday being ‘the turnaround’ day, there are few campers about and this is when the wildlife moves in. The birds don’t appreciate me dropping by. They screech at me from nearby trees, then swoop down within touching distance. Back inside our RV camper, I peer through the window to see a jay couple perched comfortably on each of our camp chairs. On arrival in San Francisco, I made my

“We are seeing renewed confidence, particularly for 2022 bookings. The allure of the great outdoors is drawing travellers towards choosing an RV experience” Tracey Thompson, Cruise America UK

acquaintance with my Cruise America camper truck. After a thorough orientation and a chance to stock up on supplies, I hit the road – and the freedom to go wherever I want immediately felt intoxicating Heading up Northern California’s photogenic cliff-hugging Highway 1, it is easy to be distracted by the natural vistas and unending views over the Pacific. Turn inland and the terrain is awash with monumental, ancient Redwood trees populating the shoreline for 800 kilometres up to the border with Oregon. Due to the popularity of this region, I’ve organised campsites in advance. With road trips equally in demand among U.S. travellers, booking overnight stays ahead of time guarantees a place to lay my head.

On the road The romance of a road trip is undeniable and is often a bucket list choice for clients – and North America’s wide-open spaces and empty roads are a much sought after choice for these holidays. This trend seems to run in tandem with the desire to social distance and for controlling one’s own environment. More than ever, a road trip appeals to crowd-averse travellers and means being able to avoid crowded airports, mixing in hotels or finding open restaurants. And, of course, the beauty of a mobile home is that you have your own portable accommodation. Since these vacations appeal to a large range of holiday makers – from families

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to couples, young and old – it appears the road trip is well and truly in vogue and not going out of fashion anytime soon.

RV travels in Canada Alberta, located in Canada’s soaring Rocky Mountain range, is renowned for its dramatic scenery and diversity of wildlife. Covid restrictions likely mean the province will not open for international travel for some time yet but it is a destination that is perfect for a future road trip. “With its wide-open roads and easy driving, Alberta is a dream destination for motorhome trips. Unique landscapes range from lush, mountainous national parks to the prehistoric Badlands and prairies or breathtaking lakes,” says Lyn Naylor, UK Business Development Director for Travel Alberta. “Jasper and Banff National Parks get a lot of attention but lesser-known parks like Waterton Lakes are equally stunning. Self-driving gives clients the chance to explore at their own pace, taking time to discover small, friendly towns with great local restaurants and shopping.” Campers are increasingly on the lookout for unusual campsites, with popular overnight spots including blueberry farms, turkey farms, breweries, vineyards and more. Tracey Thompson, International Sales and Marketing Manager for Cruise America UK, says: “There are 16,000 campsites in North America to choose from, with

Bixby Creek Bridge on CaliforniA’S Big Sur coast

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10 / RV road trips

FIVE Iconic North America road trips Experience the natural side of Florida

everything from KOA campgrounds to Disney campsites and overnighting on farms. Though it is the national and state parks (all have campgrounds) that are the most sought after as they bring guests closer to what they come to see.” She adds: “We are seeing renewed confidence from our International guests, particularly for 2022 bookings. The allure of the great outdoors and open spaces plus connecting with nature is drawing travellers towards choosing an RV experience.” Camp chairs, personal kits (towels, duvets, sheets) and a vehicle provision kit which includes cooking and dining utensils are available at an additional cost if not specifically included in the package price.

Where to book it america as you like it – 0208 742 8299 The ‘Icons & National Parks of the Great American West’ trip costs from £1,355pp for May 2022. The 20-night Denver to Salt Lake City itinerary features stops in Colorado, Wyoming, both Dakotas, Montana, Idaho and Utah plus Yellowstone National Park. Includes flights and RV rental. americaasyoulikeit.com •

Monument Valley in utah is a bucket list ITEM

Washington State’s Vineyards & Volcanoes: Take in the best of the Pacific Northwest and enjoy the cultural and culinary scenes of Seattle and Portland. This itinerary focuses on Washington state’s sprawling landscapes and includes the glaciers and colourful alpine meadows of Mt. Rainier National Park. Washington is the second-largest premium wine producer in America, second only to California, with over 1,000 wineries. Part of the trip includes passing through the Walla Walla Valley, named America’s Best Wine Region in 2020 by USA Today. America’s Canyonlands: Arizona and Utah is the focus of this itinerary which departs from Sin City, Las Vegas. Highlights include Grand Canyon National Park, Lake Powell, Monument Valley, Bryce Canyon National Park, Canyonlands National Park, Capitol Reef National Park, Zion National Park. The terrain is varied and some of the most dramatic in the U.S. Whales, Bergs and Birds: A 13-day itinerary through Newfoundland, the easternmost region of Canada, takes travellers from coast to coast to coast, along ocean and inland drives, with mountains as a backdrop. Along the way see seabird colonies, the largest concentration of humpback whales on the planet, and the annual parade of massive icebergs. A highlight is the old port city of St. John, which holds a year-round appeal for birdwatchers.

Natchez Trace Parkway: Fans of Cajun and Creole food, and jazz, country and popular music, will truly love this journey. Music City USA, Nashville, Tennessee, starts everything off with backstreet honky-tonk bars. While in town, be sure to include the Country Music Museum, Johnny Cash Museum and Grand Ole Op. Natchez is a must-stop along the way, with over 500 antebellum and plantation homes to see. End with a romantic stroll through New Orleans’ French Quarter while enjoying street corner musicians and a superb oyster dinner at Antoine’s. Best of the Florida Keys: This road trip begins in Miami, where a journey to the Everglades on an iconic airboat awaits. Then continue down to Marathon and visit the Dolphin Research Centre. This week-long itinerary can include snorkelling in Key West, a fishing trip off the coast of Islamorada and also a day trip to Dry Tortugas National Park.

Canada’s dramatic scenery makes driving a pleasure

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“Don’t try and do Australia in one go. Look at a client’s interests and build an itinerary around that” Sally Cope, Regional General Manager, Tourism Australia When Australia closed its borders in March 2020 we decided to keep shining a light on the destination. We’ve been busy creating new video assets and engaging with agents through training, to try to keep the destination alive and get clients planning their big trip to Australia next year, when the country will reopen. In the next few months we will be launching a new platform for our Aussie Specialist programme, complete with

dynamic information, new training modules and new stories to share. We have now opened up a travel corridor with New Zealand and I think that’s going to be the way forward with other countries.

Australia’s classic trips My advice to a first-time visitor would be “don’t do it all at once”. Australia is a vast country so look at a client’s interests and build an itinerary around those. The classic itinerary usually starts in Sydney or Melbourne before heading into the outback to see Uluru and touching on some of Australia’s indigenous culture.

Then head up to Queensland to experience some of our wildlife by hiking in the Daintree forest or diving the Great Barrier Reef. Repeat travellers will usually explore deeper into the country in search of our wine regions, which are often not too far from the gateway cities. Hiking in Tasmania is also popular for repeat visitors, while others traverse the country by rail and do Perth to the East Coast on the Indian Pacific. The pandemic has made us really aware of the value of travel and we’re finding that people are looking to taking longer and more meaningful trips. tourism.australia.com

“We’re seeing a trend for upgrading and booking multi-centre trips” Simon Garrido, Head of Trade Partnerships, Sovereign Luxury Travel After the first green list announcement we saw a big spike in bookings to Portugal, including Madeira. The ending of the travel ban also seemed to instill some confidence in clients booking our Greek and Spanish destinations. We’ve been a luxury tour operator for nearly 50 years and we continue to cater to the higher-end market. Customers seem to have more disposable income to splash out on a luxury holiday but

there’s still some hesitation because of the uncertainty. We’re seeing a trend in people upgrading their stay. For example, many will decide to have a pool villa or pool suite instead of a standard room in a resort.

The perfect itinerary Perhaps people are realising they may have to spend a bit more time around the hotel so they’re making sure they are going to be comfortable. They are also booking longer stays, which could suggest many clients are taking testing into consideration. We’ve noticed that trips are being extended into a multi-centre stay, such as a

city break in Italy twinned with time on the Almalfi coast. We have introduced new destinations, like the Far East and the Indian Ocean. We added Grenada in the Caribbean and are trying to update our portfolio with destinations that may be opening up, whilst still making sure they fit with our brand principles. From day one of the pandemic we’ve kept the communication going with our agent partners. We continue to post offers and incentives on our Travelopia Facebook groups and will keep rewarding our partners for booking with us. sovereign.com

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12 / Four-sight

Traffic light system a car crash Our agent columnists tell us how they are navigating the Government’s new traffic light system, and how to manage client expectations

Sandy dreams of Crete

Traffic light system causing chaos

The traffic light system feels like something of a smokescreen The Government’s traffic light system feels like something of a smokescreen to make it look like they are opening up international travel when really it is still so limited and more confusing than ever. Our existing clients are approaching us for advice, under the impression that we get more comprehensive information than they have access to – but as we all know, we’re just as much in the dark. We have a client due to go to Crete in June, her second attempt at a holiday there. She now can’t travel due to being unable to self-isolate on return yet isn’t due a refund as the airline is flying. Thankfully, she is still grateful for having an agent working hard on her behalf. With other clients its a mixture – some are very grateful for what we’ve done and keen to book with us when they can, while others chase their due refunds daily. I am determined that we remain as positive as we can - the thought of another tough year is somewhat galling. Let’s hope more countries get added to the green list soon and we can all get back to doing the part of the job we love – which is making people’s holiday dreams come true!

THE FAMILY BUSINESS

Anneka Desrosiers

Southern Cross Travel, East Sussex

By the time my comments are in print things may have changed – and let us hope that it is for the better. But at the moment we are struggling to make sense of the traffic light system ourselves – and clients are asking us to predict the impossible! It seems clear that European countries that depend on tourism – Spain, Portugal, Greece, etc – are trying everything to make it possible to welcome UK tourists, regardless of the scorn with which we are held by some after Brexit. However our Government – rightly or wrongly – is still trying to make it as hard and burdensome to travel abroad with its confusing set of ‘traffic lights’, the constant threat of

The need to quarantine for amber destinations is just not viable uncertainty and change as well as the ferocious cost of the necessary testing both before, during and after travel. The need to quarantine (even at home) for the vast majority of amber destinations means travel is just not viable for many people. Meanwhile on the rivers the ships are sailing again – with the Douro leading the way. Only time will tell if UK clients decide to go even if the great majority are already fully vaccinated. For agents it will be a case of holding clients’ hands.

THE CRUISE SPECIALIST

James Hill

Go Cruise, Cruise specialist, Worcestershire

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Trend watching Four-sight /

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` We need the Government to stop being so limiting´´ We advise customers to be aware of all potential scenarios We must remember the traffic light system is for re-entry into the UK – it isn’t a list of countries that we can easily holiday to. At the time of writing this, the only country that our customers have shown much interest in visiting is Portugal, especially when the message from the media was that Portugal was on the green list (great, we thought, that sounds easy), but after studying the rules of entry it’s not quite so straightforward. We are advising customers that they need patience and skill to upload all the requested information online, have the understanding that requirements can change, be prepared for testing costs and to be aware of all potential scenarios. I’ve taken advantage of the cheap flights to Portugal myself, to stay with family – a chance to escape after having both my Covid jabs. However, I can see how the expense of the tests, especially for families, and the uncertainty is causing a lot of people to think carefully before booking. I’m not sure I will be able to totally switch off until the Covid travel crisis is over, but I am so looking forward to a change of scenery and some blue skies, and to report back on what its like to travel in 2021.

There are so many different rules and regulations going around you have to be an analyst, psychologist and a doctor to fathom out all the facts! Portugal, on the green list, is certainly going to do well on but I can’t understand why island destinations, such as Crete, are listed as amber – but perhaps that’s only because I’m desperate to go back there! My elderly customers are still a bit hesitant, which is understandable with the current uncertainty and complicated requirements. I do hope the new variant isn’t going to push us back any further. It’s nice that reps are back on the road visiting agents and agencies and finally having that face-to-face training that we have all missed. It’s going to be an interesting few weeks but let’s be positive and encourage people to book something for this year and not wait until next year.  I think the travel industry needs something to look forward to, so put September 23 in your diaries for the Yorkshire Travel Ball. It will be at the Village Hotel, Leeds, and all proceeds go to animal charities. For more information email  s.murray922@btinternet.com  

Encourage people to book for this year and not wait until next year

THE HIGH STREET AGENCY

Liz Beaty

THE HOME WORKER

Sandy Murray

The Travel Team Brampton, Cumbria

Sandy's Travel Escapes

Portugal was too tempting for Liz

Cruises restart on the Douro Next issue: Who in the industry has offered the greatest support throughout the pandemic?

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Globe hopping

14 / Top ten...

Cruises

around the UK Cruise ships are circling the UK’s shores this summer on a series of domestic sailings. Here’s a round-up of some of the top seacations

P&O Cruises is running three- and four-night “ultimate escapes”, with prices starting from £249pp for an inside cabin on Britannia. The cruises will depart from Southampton between June and September, sailing around the UK coastline. New Excel class ship Iona will be offering seven-night UK itineraries, including a maiden voyage sailing around the Scottish islands, anchoring off Iona, the island after which she was named. Prices start from £1,049pp. pocruises.com Riviera Travel’s four British Isles cruises in July will comprise exclusively of a ‘Cruising Scotland’s Highlands & Islands’ itinerary. The eight-day itinerary will depart from either Edinburgh or Greenock and will have a port stop and excursion included every day, taking in Aberdeen, Inverness, Orkney, Oban, the Outer Hebrides and

Belfast. Tours on offer include trips to Loch Ness, Balmoral Castle, the Titanic Visitor Centre, the Callanish Standing Stones, and the Neolithic Ring of Brodgar henge and stone circle. Prices start from £1,999pp, based on two people sharing a cabin. rivieratravel.co.uk Cunard is operating a series of UK sailings on board Queen Elizabeth. The cruises will be round-trip from Southampton and will run between July and October 2021. British Isles Voyages include scenic sailings along coastlines such as The Jurassic Coast, Cornwall and Scotland, including the Isle of Arran, Mull of Kintyre and Sound of Mull. Four-night scenic British Isles Voyages are priced from £599pp, while a 10-night British Isles Voyage starts at £1,299pp. cunard.com Fred Olsen Cruise Lines will operate 11 UK sailings this summer featuring

new ships Borealis and Bolette. Split between Dover and Liverpool, the ‘Welcome Cruises’ will include scenic-only sailings and others with ports of call visited by its smaller ships. The scenic sailings will include the Shetland and Orkney islands and the Isles of Scilly. Borealis will set sail on a three-night maiden voyage from Liverpool on July 5, with Bolette debuting from Dover for three nights on August 16. Prices start at £549pp for a four-night sailing. fredolsencruises.com Princess Cruises’ series of short UK cruises will depart in late summer. Regal Princess and Sky Princess will offer short breaks and week-long holidays between July and September, sailing from Southampton. The scenic UK cruises and voyages will provide a ‘touchless’ experience thanks to the line’s OceanMedallion wearable technology.

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Globe hopping

Itineraries range from three to seven nights with stops in Liverpool, Portland, Belfast and Greenock. A seven-day round-trip with two port stops is from £899pp. princess.com Celebrity Silhouette will set sail from Southampton this summer following a refit. The new luxury ship will embark on six-to-eight-night itineraries around Britain’s coastline from July 3. Guests will have the chance to explore the Jurassic Coastline from Portland; discover Scottish cities and highlands, including Inverness, Kirkwall and Glasgow; uncover the history of Belfast; and visit Liverpool. celebritycruises.com Royal Caribbean’s Anthem of the Sea will begin sailing a combination of four-night Ocean Getaways in early July and five- to eight-night British Isles cruises, starting July 15, that will feature visits to

Liverpool, Kirkwall in Scotland and Belfast. Royal Caribbean is offering 999 free staterooms on its first Ocean Getaways cruise to those working in the National Health Service (NHS), social care sector and members of the armed forces. royalcaribbean.com Disney Cruise Line is promising magic and familiar faces on its Disney Magic at Sea UK staycation cruises this summer. Families can look forward to Disney storytelling, character appearances and onboard entertainment on two-, three- and four-night cruises in waters around the UK coast that will depart from a variety of ports including Liverpool, Southampton, Newcastle and London Tilbury. The cruises kick-off with a two-night cruise, sailing from Liverpool, on July 18, priced from £540pp. disney.go.com

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visit britain/quitin lake

michel verdure

Top ten... /

MSC Cruises is inviting both vaccinated and non-vaccinated passengers onboard its new flagship, MSC Virtuosa. Sailing out from Southampton, the cruise line will offer a special range of all-inclusive short breaks and week-long itineraries cruising UK coastal waters. A four-night cruise from Southampton, stopping in Portland, costs from £549pp. msccruises.co.uk Offering an adult-only sailing experience, Virgin Voyages’ ‘Summer Soiree Series’ will give passengers a first taste of Virgin’s first ladyship, Scarlet Lady. The summer staycation-at-sea voyages will include three- and four-night itineraries sailing the southern coast of England, with a six sailings this August.The lead-in rates for Sea Terrace cabins are £499pp for three nights and £599 for four nights. VirginVoyages.com

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16 / Destination update

Dive into

Nashville America’s Music City is adding major new attractions to its line-up of great music experiences. Peter Ellegard highlights why Tennessee’s capital is more popular than ever

BLUEBIRD CAFE

I

t’s almost 150 years since Nashville gained its famous nickname – supposedly after Queen Victoria watched a private performance by African American cappella choir the Fisk Jubilee Singers during a tour of England in 1873 and exclaimed that they must come from the “Music City”. Victoria never set foot in Tennessee’s capital but its popularity with UK visitors has soared in recent years, helped by British Airways’ non-stop flights from Heathrow. Nashville lives up to its moniker: the numerous bars on Honky Tonk Highway play host to numerous bands until early morning while the Bluebird Café, a favourite for 37 years, combines dinner with live music. Take in the new Soul of Nashville theatre experience at historic landmark Ryman Auditorium, which brings to life over a century of shows by music legends. And visit the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, with its recordings, photographs, stage costumes and musical instruments.

HONKY TONK HIGHWAY

Fifth + Broadway Nashville continues to evolve and grow, adding more for visitors to see and do. This March saw the opening of the Fifth + Broadway retail, dining and entertainment complex, right in the heart of Music City on the six-acre site of the former Nashville Convention Centre. It includes the National Museum of African American Music, the only museum of its kind in the U.S., showcasing the influences and impact that African Americans have had on over 50 music genres from classical, blues and jazz to hip-hop. There are also upscale shops, the Assembly Food Hall – with indoor/outdoor artisanal eateries that include Thai, Chinese and Mediterranean street food – and a rooftop terrace with three concert stages.

What’s new More than 4,200 new hotel rooms were added during 2019 and 2020 in Nashville and the trend is continuing.

NATIONAL MUSEUM OF AFRICAN AMERICAN MUSIC

Construction is under way for another 3,500 hotel rooms with openings over the next two to three years, while properties with well over 6,000 more rooms are also planned. Nashville is gaining more higher-end hotels, too; the new 346-room W Nashville opened this spring with the 236-room Four Seasons and 237-room Conrad both opening in 2022. A $540 million Ritz-Carlton project is also planned. Construction starts in 2022 for a 2025 opening. Meanwhile, the luxury Renaissance Nashville attached to Fifth + Broadway has been renovated. Among new attractions, Once Upon a Spring at Gaylord Opryland includes a live story time show, art activities, a scavenger hunt and boat rides. • Book it with... Vacations to America An 11-day Rhythms of the South fly/drive, starting from New Orleans and ending in Atlanta, with three nights in Nashville, costs from £2,295, including car hire, flights and hotel. vacationstoamerica.com

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FIFTHANDB.COM

please contact Carolyn Feimster at: Carolyn@CJFMarketingInternational.com

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City highlights in

Tampa Bay Tampa Bay, on Florida’s sunny Gulf Coast, attracts thrill seekers and those looking for an adrenaline rush, but it also has a rich culture that inspires unique attractions and a diverse food scene

Follow the Riverwalk Take a gentle stroll along the Tampa Riverwalk and drink in the buzz of city life. On one side, restaurants go about serving leisurely lunches and art enthusiasts seek out the latest exhibit. On the other, the river invites paddleboarders and water bikers (think of a bike attached to a kayak). This 2.6 mile walkway extends along most of the downtown area. To pick up the pace, swap a walk for a bike ride or Segway tour.

Reach new heights

Learn about Tampa Bay’s historic roots in Ybor City, once known as the ‘Cigar Capital of the World.’ A fusion of European, Spanish and Cuban culture, the Latin Quarter showcases the city’s diversity. Recommend clients start with a tour of the J.C. Newman Cigar Factory, considered the oldest family-owned cigar factory in America. Next, fuel up with some classic Cuban cuisine and finish off the evening with a Flamenco show.

Rest and recharge If clients like a boutique-style hotel then newly-opened Hotel Haya in Ybor City is a good fit. Just minutes from Downtown but still in the Ybor historic neighbourhood, this property oozes both old charm and modern flair. For a more familiar feel, The JW Marriott Tampa Water Street brings a new level of luxury to the area, whilst Hyatt Place Tampa Downtown and Hyatt House Tampa Downtown are perfect for families.

Time to Indulge Whether it’s oysters at the waterfront Stone’s Throw, a traditional Cuban sandwich or a locally sourced dish from Sparkman Wharf’s newest flagship restaurant, there’s something for every pallet. Room for dessert? A giant vegan cookie from the new Bake’ n Babes in Armature Works is a must. Craft beer enthusiasts can navigate Tampa Bay’s brewery boom with the Bay Crafted Pass, or swap a pint for a rooftop cocktail.

Family fun for less The Tampa Bay CityPASS offers a saving of over £100 at some of Tampa Bay’s top attractions. Clients can use the pass to climb the tallest rides at Busch Gardens® Tampa Bay, see animals up close at The Florida Aquarium and ZooTampa at Lowry Park or visit the moon at the Museum of Science & Industry. The pass is valid for nine days and costs £91.59 for an adult and £81.83 for a child. visittampabay.com

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Thrill seekers assemble! You can’t come to the Sunshine State without climbing aboard some adrenaline-pumping rides. Take on Tigris, the tallest launch coaster in Florida, or test the nerves on Iron Gwazi when it opens later this year as the tallest, steepest and fastest hybrid rollercoaster in North America. Cool off at Busch Gardens’® water park Adventure Island and make a splash on the new Solar Vortex.

Smokey sights

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Green

means go

Since being included on the Government’s first green list Madeira is enjoying some overdue attention – and it has plenty to attract sun-seekers and outdoor enthusiasts, says Jools Stone

Hiking Levada dos Tornos

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he sweet scent of jacaranda trees fills the air and it’s impossible not to feel cheered by the sheer abundance of bright blooms of bottle brush trees. By midMay Madeira is fully in flower with wild orchids sprouting from the roadsides. We’re taking a short hike along the levadas, a series of ancient water channels used for irrigation to spread the water from lush northern lands to the drier south of the island. The whole network stretches to 2,000km and remains a popular series of trails for walkers. We pass waterfalls and cross over stone bridges, overlooking deep gorges decked in emerald vegetation. At one dramatic viewpoint we spy a colourful pair of Madeiran chaffinches courting each other while rust-hued geckos bask in the sun trying to look inconspicuous. Madeira sits closer to the African continent

than the European mainland, yet despite the temperature gauge hitting the midtwenties, the cute A- framed wooden craft stalls characteristic of the island are mostly selling knitted hats, jumpers and ponchos! After hiking for an hour or so we’re scooted away on a Jeep which cuts its way effortlessly through the spongy forest floor to a restaurant in Santiago with an aweinspiring view of the rugged northern coast, with the headland jutting out like some giant sleeping, foliage-clad dinosaur. Here each lavish course is paired with a different Madeiran wine – the perfect way to toast this distinctive slice of volcanic paradise.

In high demand The subtropical Atlantic island of Madeira, along with the rest of Portugal, was one of the first destinations to be added to the UK Government’s ‘Green List’, with UK visitors now able to visit the island

without facing quarantine restrictions. Madeira has also introduced a new ‘Green Corridor’ for inbound travellers from the UK, which means that no testing is required for those with vaccination certificate or proof of recovery within 90 days. Additionally all visitors can benefit from one free PCR test on arrival with results processed within 24 hours. As a result, the island has become a favourite among holidaymakers desperate to get away, with Jet2 reporting that summer bookings increased more than 600% in the 24 hours following the announcement. Airlines such as Jet2, easyJet and BA have been quick to facilitate demand by adding more flights and holidays from airports in England and Scotland. Nuno Vale, Director of Madeira Promotion Bureau, commented: “We are ecstatic and beyond amazed with the good news. This will be absolutely crucial for all our UK

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Globe hopping

20 / Madeira

Mountain Views from Pico do Arieiro

partners and tourism sector overall. Most importantly, our local members, hotels, leisure and incoming companies will finally restart their activity, welcoming British tourists as usual, who we believe are very keen on travelling right now.” He added: “In a year of great challenges for the tourism sector, Madeira knew how to tread a path of exception, and we are now receiving excellent opportunities ranging from structural work to ongoing promotions. This has been a massive vote of confidence from visitors and tour operators, which Madeira aims to continue throughout 2021.”

Portugal’s natural gem Covid-19 cases in Madeira have decreased significantly in recent months and the island is fully open for business with the curfew now reduced to the hours of 23.00 to 05.00 and restaurants now open until 22.00. G Adventures has experienced high demand for its new Hiking in Madeira option, which explores the island’s many hiking trails, including ‘levada’ walks to waterfalls or rugged mountain paths along breathtaking peaks. Aside from its natural appeal, Stu Darnley, National Sales Manager, believes that Madeira will serve as a popular alternative to Portugal’s busier tourist hotspots, saying: “With Portugal opening its borders to UK travellers, and with the Green List still so limited, it’s secured a top spot for many holidaymakers looking to get away in the coming months. But as travellers lock in their trip to the sun, there will be the inevitable issue of crowds in popular hotspots like Lisbon and Porto.” He added: “Madeira is a fantastic

Coastal village of Ponta do Sol

alternative to mainland Portugal but has, unfairly, been seen mainly as a ‘silver traveller destination’. In reality, this couldn’t be further from the truth, with the island offering a huge diversity of landscapes, great food, amazing adventure activities, trekking options for all levels and beautiful remote areas away from the busy streets of Funchal. “Our new Hiking Madeira tour saw sales peak throughout May, as travellers looked for different ways to explore the green list destinations.” In a similar vein, independent travel agent, Rachel Tredwell of Not Just Travel, has seen an upsurge in interest. “Madeira has always been popular with British tourists due to its close proximity to the UK and stunning outlook with lush landscapes and Atlantic coastal views. We are now seeing exceptional interest.”

What’s new

New Brand: Discover Madeira has launched a fresh brand identity centred on the theme of ‘Belonging’, with a new strapline ‘Madeira. Belongs to all.” The new identity, described by the Tourism Promotion Agency as ‘vibrant and playful’, has four pillars: A place where I feel good, a place where I feel I’m among friends, a place where I live like a local and a place I always want to return to.

Hotels: The new Zino’s Palace in Ponta do Sol, Madeira island, is an opulent historic hotel housed in a heritage building from 1905 with five types of rooms including some suites with sea views. Set in Funchal city centre, in the quaint old town, is Okulus Villa. A private oasis with four en-suite bedrooms all with stunning views.

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Tobogganing in Monte picture caption

Built into the mountainside, the luxury villa features a seafront rooftop terrace with infinity pool and hanging garden and has stairs leading directly down to the beach. New modern Next Hotel opens this summer as part of the Savoy Signature Collection aimed at hip travellers and digital nomads. All rooms offer balconies and there’s an extensive pool-side terrace to enjoy. Located a few metres from the Cathedral of Funchal is the new Se Boutique Hotel. The 54-room four-star property describes itself as a ‘cosmopolitan and urban hotel ‘ in the heart of the city. Tour operators: Jet2CityBreaks is launching city breaks to Funchal in Madeira, with packages available from November 1, 2021. Flights will operate from nine UK bases. G Adventures has launched a new sixday Hiking in Madeira tour from Santana to Funchal. Priced from £633pp (usually £749) for departures in September 2021. Cruise: Riviera Travel’s new ship, World Voyager, will operate a Morocco, Madeira and Canary Islands cruise as part of its 2022 ocean cruise programme. It will take place on March 24 and April 10 with prices starting from £2,999pp for 11 days.

Top experiences Toboggan your way down Monte Only in Madeira can you strap yourself into a wicker basket to hurtle your way down a steep hill. Take a unique exhilarating 30km p/h ride down the dizzying streets of Monte in a purpose-built wicker toboggan expertly steered by white suited men who’ll ensure your safety.

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Globe hopping Madeira /

Spot marine life: Madeira’s archipelago is home to a great range of marine life. Clients could spot around 30 species of whales and dolphins who inhabit these waters, including bottlenose dolphins and blue whales, whilst on a RIB boat tour staffed by an expert marine biologist. Visit the Desertas Islands and meet the refuge of the Mediterranean Monk Seal, better known as the ‘Lobo Marinho’ (or sea lion). Taste Madeira wines: A visit to Madeira is not complete without tasting the island’s famous wines at one of its award-winning wineries, traditionally accompanied by a Madeira honey cake. The wines are delicately cultivated by hand, in small poios lands (terraced landscapes), either in the mountains or by the sea. The classic tipple is a liqueur wine but other varieties include Sercial, Boal, Verdelho and Malvasia. Stop and smell the flowers: Madeira is justly famous for its tropical gardens which make for a wonderfully

21

Ponta de São Lourenço, the easternmost point of Madeira

sedate afternoon. The island’s Botanical Gardens is among the best, home to over 2,000 plants. Meet some of the island’s rare birds at Loiro Park, which is home to Cockatoos and ‘Loricos’ (a parrot species) from the Asian tropical islands, Australian parakeets and dwarf parrots among others.

Where to book it Sovereign – 01293 839473 Sovereign offers a seven-night stay in December at The Cliff Bay, Funchal, from £799pp. The price includes breakfast, return flights from Gatwick, private transfers and airport lounge access. sovereign.com •

Located in the heart of Madeira in Portugal, a few meters from the Cathedral of Funchal, is the four-star Se Boutique Hotel. Combining comfort and character, the cosmopolitan property offers 54 guest rooms, an indoor swimming pool, restaurants, and a terrace bar with panoramic views of the city of Funchal. Guests can enjoy the hotels vast collection of private art or discover the historic area of Funchal, the Mercado dos Lavradores farmers market, the Cable Car, and the Marina, which are all within walking distance. www.seboutiquehotel.com | info@seboutiquehotel.com +351 291 224 444 | Travessa do Cabido,picture Nº 17caption 9000-715 Funchal Madeira |Portugal

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Globe hopping

22 / 48 hours in...

Alberta’s

Icefields Parkway Stretching between Lake Louise and Jasper in the Canadian Rockies, this epic roadtrip passes ancient glaciers, cascading waterfalls and towering mountain peaks Day 1: Break the ice Morning: Before beginning the 144-mile journey, don’t miss the chance to see Lake Louise in Banff National Park, one of the Alberta’s most iconic sights. For panoramic views take a ride on the Lake Louise Summer Sightseeing Gondola. Drive north on the Icefields Parkway until you reach the lookout point for Bow Lake, which is a breathtaking sight on its own. Just up the road is Peyto Lake, take an easy 10-minute walk to reach the viewpoint which brings you to the highest elevation on the Icefields Parkway. Surrounded by mountain scenery, the sparkling lake below offers one of the best photo opportunities in the Rockies.

Afternoon: Saskatchewan Crossing marks the halfway point on the Icefields Parkway, and it’s the last service station before you reach the town of Jasper. Stock up on snacks and fuel and savour the views before getting back on the road. Continue north until you cross over into Jasper National Park and spot one of the most unforgettable sights on the Icefields Parkway, the Columbia Icefield. Stop at the Columbia Icefield Discovery Centre for a ride aboard the Ice Explorer and enjoy an evening at the Glacier View Lodge. The hotel offers a VIP option, including a private evening tour of the Columbia Icefield Skywalk and a stargazing experience.

Turquoise waters of Lake Louise

Book it with... Canadian Affair A 6-night Alberta Icefields Parkway Adventure for May 2022 is priced from £1,349pp. The package includes return flights, 6 nights’ accommodation, car hire, and a Glacier Adventure Excursion including an Ice Explorer tour and Glacier Skywalk. canadianaffair.com

Walk the Columbia Icefield

Day 2: Chasing waterfalls A roadtrip to remember

Cascading Sunwapta Falls

Morning: Enjoy breakfast at the lodge before hitting the road with a drive to the Sunwapta Falls Rocky Mountain Lodge, located approximately 30.4 miles from the Glacier View Lodge. This is the access point for the roaring Sunwapta Falls and the start of an epic waterfall tour. There are two falls to see here, and the first is only a five-minute stroll from the lodge. Advise clients to take the additional 10 minute walk to reach the lower falls – it’s well worth the detour! Finish the morning with one of Jasper National Park’s most powerful rapids Athabasca Falls. Head towards the junction of Highway 93 and Highway 93A and look

out for the Athabasca Falls Viewpoint. Follow directions to the lookout point, until you reach the awe-inspiring falls. Edge closer to embrace the refreshing cool spray before the final drive. Afternoon: End the roadtrip in the charming mountain town of Jasper. Make the town, surrounded by untouched wilderness and stunning alpine scenery, the basecamp for adventure. Some of the must-do things in Jasper include a visit to Maligne Canyon (the deepest canyon in the Canadian Rockies), a boat cruise to see Spirit Island (one of the most photographed places in the world) and a ride on the Jasper SkyTram. •

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Globe hopping Six of the best... /

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ways to explore

Polk County From wide-open spaces to exhilarating theme park rides, Polk County in Central Florida has it all. Here’s six ways to explore Florida’s ‘sweetest spot’

Space to breathe Polk County is home to three State Parks and a State Forest with over 31 miles of trails to explore. Circle B Bar Reserve is one of Central Florida’s best places to enjoy birding, hiking or searching for wildlife. With 554 freshwater lakes, the area also offers great fishing, eco-airboat tours and water sports, with hundreds of open waterways to kayak or paddleboard. visitcentralflorida.org

U-Pick Season At Ridge Island Groves, a family run farm in Haines City, visitors can tour the citrus groves and pick their own oranges, peaches or blueberries whilst learning about the farm-to-shop process. The fruit is sorted by size and all the ‘ugly’ ones find their way to the juicer. The onsite shop sells marmalade and gifts, and visitors can buy the freshest OJ and try the best ice cream made to their secret recipes. ridgeislandgroves.com

Bok Tower Gardens Bok Tower Gardens is a 250-acre tropical landscape and bird sanctuary, centered around the impressive 205-foot Bok Tower. Visitors can observe bell concerts at the tower each day at 1:00pm and 3:00pm. A recent addition is Hammock Hollow, 2.7 acres of childhood delight featuring water areas, bridges, tunnels and an indigo snake sculptured sand box. boktowergardens.org

Westgate River Ranch At Westgate River Ranch Resort & Rodeo guests can stay in a Luxe Teepee, a Saddle Club Rail Car (think tiny-house), or one of the new Luxe Conestoga Wagons for the ultimate ranch experience. Glamping tents, standard suites and RV’s are also available. Every Saturday guests can relive the days of the Old West with horseback riding, rodeos and singing cowboys at the River Ranch Saloon. westgateriverranch.com

Stay a while A vacation rental home is a great way for visitors to have their own space whilst providing a central base to experience the best of Florida at an affordable price. Rentals in the Davenport and Disney area and Haines City are ideally located for reaching major theme parks, including Walt Disney World and LEGOLAND® Florida Resort and the majority have private swimming pools and a movie room! visitcentralflorida.org/stay

LEGOLAND® Florida Resort To celebrate LEGOLAND® Florida Resort’s 10th anniversary, new attractions include a Watersports Stunt Show with Brickbeard’s buccaneer recruits, a 4D Movie adventure, a master builder experience, Lego City Models and a giant Lego cake. The party continues when families stay onsite at the new LEGOLAND Pirate Island Hotel, with nightly pirate fun and in-room treasure hunts. legoland.com/florida

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24 / Introducing...

Natural

Hong Kong Paint a different picture of Hong Kong by drawing more attention to its green spaces, beaches and small villages, says Laura Gelder

W

best place for... Hiking: Dragon’s Back Beach: Big Wave Bay Wildlife: Hong Kong Wetland Park Waterfalls: Silvermine Waterfall Green space: Victoria Park Remote Island: Tap Mun

Shek O is a popular hiking spot

rewarding views at sunset peak

hen most people think of Hong Kong an urban jungle of soaring skyscrapers and buzzing markets comes to mind. But that’s just the starting point. Covid-cautious travellers will be reassured by the high-tech anti-coronavirus measures – including disinfecting robots – but they might also be interested to know that 40% of Hong Kong is made up of country parks and nature reserves. Should they want to, they can avoid the crowded concrete cityscapes and venture to the mountains, forests and beaches. My most vivid memory of Hong Kong is riding the world’s longest outdoor escalator system between Central and the leafy Mid-Levels. I remember thinking that it encapsulated fast-paced urban life as I effortlessly glided past a dizzying array of aromatic restaurants, enticing shops and neon bars. But even those well-trodden escalators in densely-packed Hong Kong Island pass green spaces – oases amidst glinting skyscrapers like Hong Kong Park and the Zoological and Botanical Gardens. Also on Hong Kong Island, the treesmothered Victoria Peak offers spectacular views of the city and harbour and the Peak Circle Trail winds through bamboo groves, past a reservoir and alongside the Pok FuLam Country Park. The Dragon’s Back Trail combines panoramic views from Shek O Peak and a beach finish at Big Wave Bay.

Laid-back Lantau

Traditional Stilt houses in Tai O village

Surf’s up at Big Wave Bay beach

Lantau Island is best known for its Big Buddha, which is currently being renovated, and Disneyland. The Buddha is reached via the Ngong Ping 360 cable car, which terminates at the tranquil Ngong Ping Village with its teahouses and traditional architecture. Close by is Wisdom Path, a grassy route winding past 38 giant columns inscribed with Buddhist scriptures, and Po

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Introducing... /

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monkey business in shing mun Country park

Cheung Po Tsai cave on Cheung Chau

Lin Monastery with its peaceful garden and vegetarian restaurant. Tai O village is a glimpse of pre-colonial Hong Kong. The once nomadic Tanka people first built their precarious stilt houses over the tidal flats during the Ming Dynasty. Visitors can sample the hawker snacks, photograph the dried fish swaying in the sea breeze and look for wading birds in the Yim Tin Mangrove Forest. Many trails traverse Lantau and pass hidden gems like the chilled out surfer beach Pui O, the waterfront seafood restaurants in the sleepy village of Mui Wo, Sunset Peak’s misty vistas and the pretty Silvermine Waterfalls.

Foodie Cheung Chau Famed for its annual bun festival, Cheung Chau balances traditional fishing villages with hipster hangouts. The island is mostly car-free and flat roads mean bike hire is popular. Cyclists can go in search of its mini Great Wall of China, offering pleasant sea views; Cheung Po Tsai Cave, where pirates once stashed their booty, and sandy beaches like Tung Wen. The island is a foodie paradise thanks to the seafood restaurants of Pak She Praya Road and Hong Kong institutions like Cheung Chau Bing Sutt selling its desserts of shaved ice, condensed milk and chewy taro balls or Valor Cheung Chau and its instagrammable coffee.

Big Buddha on leafy Lantau island

Lush Lamma Another pedestrian-friendly island, Lamma’s most popular trail connects the island’s biggest villages. It starts in Yung Shue Wan, full of cafes and quirky shops, and continues past the pale sands of Hung Shing Yeh Beach; a Tin Hau temple, dedicated to the goddess of the sea and the Kamikaze Cave, where Japanese forces hit their speedboats before using them on suicide missions against the Allies. The trail ends in Sok Kwu Wan, famed for its fresh seafood. Hong Kong’s territory includes around 250 islands, many of them uninhabited. Lesser known islands such as Po Toi (population now 200 ) with its eerie abandoned villages, Bronze Age rock carvings and pretty lighthouse; Tap Mun (or Grass Island), an old smuggler’s haunt of rolling hills and grazing cows with rocky beaches, and striking Tung Ping Chau with its brightly coloured, fossil-filled rocks.

Mainland Hong Kong Outdoors enthusiasts who take the famous Star Ferry to Kowloon will be rewarded if they head further out. Beyond the frenetic

energy of Nathan Road, Lion Rock offers some of the most spectacular views of the Kowloon Peninsula and Hong Kong Island on a good day. Just north of here is the ancient walled village of Tsang Tai Uk, a time capsule from the days of pirates. Closer to mainland China’s Shenzhen, Yuen Long is home to the Hong Kong Wetland Park, teeming with birds and aquatic life. For culture enthusiasts, the Ping Shan Heritage Trail passes ancient ancestral halls with traditional teahouses and openair hawker stalls. Country parks on mainland Hong Kong include Plover Cove, with its bamboo jungle, waterfalls, atmospheric 400-year-old walled village, mangroves and marshes. South of here, the Sai Kung Peninsula has two country parks with rugged hiking trails. Book it with... Ramblers Walking Holidays The 14-night Discover the Real Hong Kong trip focuses on the country’s many hiking trails, including Dragon’s Back and the MacLehose Trail, plus walks on Lantau, Lamma and Cheung Chau. ramblersholidays.co.uk

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Trend watching

26 / Six of the best...

Outdoor experiences in

Michigan, USA Michigan is ready to welcome visitors as soon as travel permits, and its two wildest national parks have plenty to offer lovers of the great outdoors

National Geographic listed Michigan’s Isle Royale National Park as one of its ‘best in the world’ for nature and wildlife this year, with wolf and moose among the 18 species living there. The remote 850-square-mile area encompasses Isle Royale and the smaller islands surrounding it on Lake Superior. On Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, a swimming otter or beaver, a spawning salmon, or a hunting bald eagle are common sightings.

Go hiking Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore hugs the northeast shore of Lake Michigan and has miles of hiking trails. The Sleeping Bear Heritage Trail runs for 22 miles through forests and the Port Oneida area, with its 19th-century farmsteads. There are several rugged hiking trails on Isle Royale, including the 43-mile Greenstone Ridge Trail which follows the spine of the island through forest, past lakes and swampland and up Mount Desor.

Relax on the beach Despite it being many miles from the sea, Michigan is home to some beautiful beaches. Isle Royale’s rugged shore has red-sand beaches and rocky coves while Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore boasts miles of pale sand, lapped by clear water. Here, Platte River Point beach is a popular swimming spot due to its warm waters, while quiet Peterson Beach has wide vistas of Empire Bluff’s maple forest.

Take to the water With numerous lakes, bays, and islands, Isle Royale National Park provides miles of waterways for experienced kayakers, while guided boat tours offer a chance to venture into open water. In Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore outfitters offer kayak or paddleboard rentals on the Platte and Crystal rivers, where calm waters provide the perfect opportunity to spot birdlife and salmon heading upstream.

Unique features Remote Isle Royale has its own unique ecosystem, shaped by the hazardous waters and channels that surround it. There are many lakes on Isle Royale, but Siskiwit Lake is the most unique as it has its own island: Ryan Island. Meanwhile, Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore has similarly impressive credentials. Its immense sand dunes are perched on top of the already towering headlands, 400 feet above Lake Michigan.

Discover a rich history The Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore is rich in history and its name comes from the stories told by the Anishinaabek Indigenous people. The Manitou Islands were a refuelling stop for steamers and the shore and islands are home to several lighthouses and old logging villages, now ghost towns. Isle Royale also has Native American history along with shipwrecks, lighthouses and old copper mines.

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traveluni.com

Training, competitions, events May/June 2021

TOP STORIES

TIPTO Roadshow returns

PARTNER LIST A-Z of available training

EVENTS

ABTA

TIPTO has released dates for its four upcoming ‘Face 2 Face with TIPTO’ Roadshows. At each event, agents can meet and network with up to 12 of TIPTO’s supplier members, all of which will provide full product updates, postCovid. To ensure attendee safety, TIPTO has made changes to the format to minimise contact and have chosen venues with this in mind. The 2021 dates and locations are: July 5 - Nottingham; July 6 - Norwich; July 14 - York; July 15 - Newcastle. tipto.co.uk

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

Training

Agents get a taste of Attitude

Flanders Florida Fort Myers & Sanibel Grenada Hawaii Heritage Resorts Italy Japan

Attitude Hotels Training

Training with ITT TRAINING

THE recently-launched ITT Education and Training Hub brings together travel industry training resources offered by UK colleges and universities. The new platform will assist users in increasing their knowledge of destinations and transport links whilst keeping them abreast of changing Government guidelines. Initiatives such as the ITT ‘Future You’ for young people entering the industry are also available alongside educational materials. Travel Uni, featured on the hub, is delighted to have become the training partner of the Institute. itteducationandtraining.com

ATTITUDE HOTEL'S new online platform will help agents to better understand the Attitude Group and its nine properties in Mauritius, consisting of eight Attitude-branded properties and the standalone Paradise Cove Boutique Hotel. Users will also get better acquainted with Attitude's brand concepts and understand what makes them stand out from their competitors, with USPs ranging from Attitude's ‘Otentik’ experiences to romantic adultonly concepts. In addition to the five modules, the portal contains news, image and PDF libraries, webinars and other resources. Those that complete the course could win a place on one of Attitude's annual VIP fam trips to Mauritius – all expenses paid! attitudehotelstraining.com.

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Be Inspired

28 / Island getaways

Drop in the

ocean With the UK emerging tentatively from months of restrictions, island destinations near and far offer an attractive option for those that still want to keep their distance, says Charlotte Flach

S

afety is a key consideration for post-pandemic travel when clients are choosing a holiday destination, explains Zeenat Gangee, Tourism Promotion Manager for Mauritius, with islands in particular proving popular because they are typically less crowded than mainland destinations. “People in the long-haul market have spent endless lockdowns in urban areas and have been looking forward to a getaway experience surrounded by nature in a safe environment,” she says. This perception of safety might be primarily because islands are more remote, adds Peter Brennan, CEO of tour operator Escape to Greece. Several Greek islands “have been able to contain cases of Covid much better than mainland resorts, both within the local population as well as visiting tourists,” he explains.

Island updates Many destinations are keen to welcome back UK travellers, even if they aren’t

yet on the Government’s ‘green list’. Currently in the amber category, the Canary Islands are hopeful they will soon be able to admit travellers from the UK. “The UK is our main market, with which we have a great affinity. We are prepared and ready to welcome visitors for a safe and enjoyable stay,” says José Juan Lorenzo, Managing Director of Tourism of The Canary Islands. Greek operators also have high hopes for reopening, says Brennan. “All of our Greek islands will be ready and open for tourism by the end of May. Greece was one of the only European countries to have successfully operated holidays for pretty much the whole season during the summer of 2020.” Although many islands in the Indian Ocean remain on the banned list of destinations, they are gearing up for a return to tourism, with Mauritius seeing increased interest for later in the year. Says Gangee: “Our message for reopening will be one of safety and quality that will

instil confidence among travellers.” Most Caribbean destinations remain on the amber list but islands such as Dominica are expecting to move to the green list in the coming weeks - the island has recorded no deaths and there are currently no cases of Covid either. Clients that have been vaccinated will be able to enter Malta from June 1 without the need for a test. Non-vaccinated travellers can enter but must present a negative PCR test taken within 72 hours of travel.

Short-haul demand It’s not just long-haul islands seeing increased interest, with the UK market continuing to be on clients’ radars. “We’ve seen strong interest in Jersey, with the Visit Jersey website reporting a 35% uplift in UK traffic on just one weekend following the border reopening announcement,” explains Amanda Burns, CEO at Visit Jersey. CityFlyer, Loganair and

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Dominica is known as the ‘Nature island of the Caribbean’

istock.com / wanderluster

Santorini hopes to be open for UK visitors this summer

Mauritius has miles of white sandy beaches

Photo by Heidi Kaden on Unsplash

Malta’s sister island comino HAS MANY hidden caves

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30 / Island getaways

Island hopping is a great way to explore the Canary islands

Jet2.com will all operate additional flights to Jersey this summer. In the Caribbean, Jamaica is seeing forward bookings for autumn selling well and winter 21/22 is also looking promising. The tourist board believes this may in part be due to its support of agents. “The trade sales team for JTB London devised various fun and informative initiatives to ensure agents received destination updates in an engaging format, with videos and webinars on the Jamaica Rewards portal, as well as virtual FAM trips,” says Torrance Lewis, District Sales Manager, Jamaica Tourist Board London. Both British Airways and Virgin Atlantic are launching new routes to Montego Bay, from Gatwick and Heathrow respectively. Malta’s tourism board has also been supporting UK agents with its ‘Feel Free Again’ campaign. “We’re always looking for new ways to support our trade partners and we are incorporating travel agents into our advertising plans throughout 2021,” says Tolene Van Der Merwe, Director UK & Ireland of Malta Tourism. “We have deliberately chosen a broad

range of the types of travel agents we work with, including the selfemployed and smaller agencies.” Malta is ready to welcome back travellers with two newly-awarded Michellin starred restaurants, bringing the total on the island to five. “We have also seen the opening of new hotels including the Hyatt Regency, and Mercure has opened its first hotel in Malta,” says Van Der Merwe.

Selling tips Agents keen to promote island destinations to clients should emphasise their low rates of the coronavirus. The Canary Islands remained open throughout 2020, except for a short period at the height of the pandemic,” says Yaiza Castilla Herrera, Minister of Tourism, Industry and Commerce in the Government of the Canary Islands. “Being an island destination has helped us to control the virus.” Clients keen to island hop can also take advantage of the daily connections between the different islands by plane and boat, she adds.

For more obscure locations, travellers can visit one of the Canaries’ ‘secret islands’ such as La Palma, La Gomera and El Hierro. The Balearics have also seen very low Covid rates and are committed to boosting traveller confidence through a ‘tourism reactivation plan’, says Rosana Morillo, Tourism Director of the Balearic Islands. “This includes a number of guides aimed at reducing the spread of Covid. “Additionally, we know that the cost of PCR testing is a barrier for many people so we have passed a law to cap the costs with a maximum price of €75 and €30 for an antigen test,” she adds. Flexible booking policies are a strong selling point for the Greek islands, says Escape to Greece’s Brennan. “Most hotels offer flexible rates where you can cancel free of charge up to two weeks in advance so a client’s booking risk is mitigated.” For clients seeking a more authentic Greek island experience, he recommends Paros, Naxos, Tinos, Sifnos and Andros. “We are finding that those islands not served by flights from the UK are increasing in popularity.” •

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32 / Seychelles

Sunsets and

seclusion Scattered like pearls across the Indian Ocean, the Seychelles offer that self-contained island escape that locked-up clients have been dreaming of, says Ben West

I

’m lying on a gloriously soft, white sand beach, underneath the deepest blue sky and the most enticing azure sea I’ve ever seen. I am at Beau Vallon, one of The Seychelles’ most popular beaches, yet you wouldn’t know it as there are very few people about. And there’s a further 65 or so beaches I could have chosen on this island, Mahé, alone. There’s just a warm breeze, a handful of palm trees for shade, and a sweet,

refreshing tropical cocktail for company. The distant sound of a local variant of reggae plays from a seafood stall in the background: this really is a destination that continually invites you to take it easy. That’s not to say there’s not plenty to do. I’m about to tackle a not-toodemanding hill hike taking in freshwater streams and huge granite boulders. I will be rewarded by the most breathtaking views of some of the archipelago of 115 islands that comprise The Seychelles, peppered among the seemingly endless Indian Ocean.

Success story

Turtle conservation is a priority

There’s been a lot of focus of late on the Seychelles. Implementing one of the world’s most successful Covid vaccination programmes has made it possible for it to currently allow people from the UK to visit, irrespective of vaccination status. Visitors are only required to present a negative PCR test taken 72 hours prior to departure, and there is no quarantine requirement. “Travellers’ journeys to the Seychelles

continue uninterrupted and the islands remain safe for travel despite a recent rise in community Covid-19 cases, which in May prompted tighter health measures,” says Sherin Francis, CEO, Seychelles Tourism Board. “Aside from its pearly white beaches surrounded by turquoise waters and emerald rainforests, the archipelago offers visitors an array of wonders. Travellers can easily hop from one island to the other. Each of these tropical gems possess unique characteristics. Nature sanctuaries, historical sites, cultural villages, culinary adventures, aquatic activities, hiking trails, luxurious establishments, rustic guest houses, all at a single stop. We share the true meaning of the Creole spirit and island living with them.”

Islands of choice Accommodation varies from one-resort island retreats to bigger, less exclusive family-friendly options. Although a direct flight from London, at around 10 hours, is about the same as for the Caribbean,

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istock.com / BraunS

Seychelles /

The Seychelles is open for UK visitors

the time difference is more beneficial in the Seychelles as there is not the jet lag a trip to the Caribbean can entail. And although there are monsoons, the Seychelles does not suffer from the extreme weather patterns seen in the Caribbean, which has a hurricane season that can run from June to November. It enjoys stable weather throughout the year, and the islands are free from earthquakes and active volcanoes. “Alphonse Island and the more remote outer islands of the Seychelles, where people can feel even more removed, are selling well at the moment,” says Matt Shock, Travel Specialist at luxury travel company Original Travel. “Remote destinations that offer a degree of safety like the Seychelles are definitely on the radar for clients,” agrees Ocean Independence Managing Partner, Nicholas Dean. “Island time is a real thing. You can enjoy all the joys of a bustling town, but away from there discover stunning, mostly uninhabited, islands.”

villas at the HILTON NORTHOLME RESORT

Romantic Creole beach Set up

snorkelling around Alphonse Island

Swap the beach for a jungle hike

Adds Shock: “An island holiday has always been appealing to those who seek true escapism and a ‘Robinson Crusoe’ experience. The popularity of island escapes has increased since the pandemic as people seek places that are less populated, less crowded, offer more freedom and a safe and secure environment.”

What’s new

Hotels : Centrally located on Mahé, L’Escale Resort Marina & Spa is a new luxury boutique resort at the site of the former Wharf Hotel. Accommodation at the resort comprises 25 rooms/suites (from standard to deluxe), a royal suite, spa pool villas, the Penthouse and the Presidential Villa. The Marina has been upgraded to accommodate superyachts. Club Med Seychelles opened in March, a brand new destination for the company and the first time the brand has opened a resort on its own private island – Sainte Anne. There are kids’ clubs, two restaurants, three

“Alphonse Island and the more remote outer islands of the Seychelles are selling well at the moment where people can feel even more removed”

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34 / Seychelles

giant tortoises on Denis island

Breakfast with a view

bars, a spa area with 11 treatment rooms, and a Zen hideaway with a calm pool, yoga and meditation classes. Full-board, open bar, activities, entertainment and kids club are included in packages. Newly refurbished facilities, including upgraded public areas, updated accommodation, two new restaurants and a new pop-up Gin Bar, are all features at the Hilton Seychelles Northolme. Having unveiled Mahé’s first artificial reef in 2018, guests are invited to get involved, such as snorkelling to see the positive impact of this work, or by adopting a piece of coral to track its growth and development after they’ve left the hotel. Monthly ‘Sustainable Days’ encourage guests to get involved in activities from beach cleans to swapping the gym for a local Seychellois Moutya dance.

Top experiences Having a rum time: A visit to the charming Takamaka rum distillery at La Plaine St. Andre, built in 1792, can include a distillery and garden tour followed by a rum tasting. Sample the

dining on the edge at HILTON NORTHOLME RESORT & SPA

unique Creole cuisine at the restaurant and bar, or simply purchase the fine rums at the shop. takamakarum.com (currently closed due to Covid) Island hop with a yacht charter: In these Covid times a yacht is one of the safest ways to enjoy tailor made, “bubble” travel, without having to mix with crowds. For those with big budgets the 65-metre Sea Rhapsody is based in the Seychelles and available for private charter to explore the many isles and islets, fishing, diving, discovering the exotic wildlife or just lounging on the pristine beaches between sailings. oceanindependence.com Explore and conserve: From May to September 2021, Alphonse Island, 400km north of Mahé, will be running a Explorer Season Conservation Experience. Encompassing a series of conservation projects, from beach clean-ups and tree planting to turtle monitoring and underwater wildlife photography, dedicated environmentalists and marine biologists will navigate guests through the island’s exotic ecosystem. alphonse-island.com.

Immerse yourself in the market: Victoria’s market on Mahé is a photographers’ dream, and it isn’t touristy. Join the locals shopping there for an array of fish, fruits, vegetables, spices and much more. Outside Victoria, Domaine de Val des Près (craft village) has colourful huts displaying locally made items like textiles, carvings and clothing.

Where to book it kuoni – 0800 056 0517 Kuoni offers seven nights in a beachfront villa at Hilton Seychelles Labriz Resort & Spa, with Emirates flights from London Gatwick. From £1,949pp for selected dates in November 2021. kuoni.co.uk original diving – 020 7978 0505 Learn to free dive with Christian Burger, Zimbabwean free-diving record holder, at Alphonse Island. No previous diving experience/equipment is required. From £7,220pp for seven nights at Alphonse Island in a beach bungalow, full board. The deal includes international and domestic flights, two day of tuition, a night at Eden Bleu and transfers. originaldiving.com •

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Maldives Nothing says remote getaway like a private beach bubble on Baa Atol, Maldives. Clients can stay in the fully-furnished dome, located at the end of a kilometrelong stretch of beach, which comes with its own Bubble Butler and telescope for stargazing. Priced at $800 per couple, guests must stay a minimum of three nights at Finolhu resort to book the Beach Bubble. finolhu.com

Sweden Accessible only by helicopter or RIB, the island of Hamneskär, off Sweden’s west coast, has long been considered uninhabitable – but not by lighthouse keepers. The Pater Noster Lighthouse opened this year as a stylish nine-bedroom guesthouse. Visitors can kayak around the island, scuba dive, fish or laze in the seawater hot tub. regent-holidays.co.uk

Africa Principe is the smaller of the two main islands of São Tomé and Príncipe – Africa’s second-smallest nation – in the Gulf of Guinea. A UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, the island is blessed with rainforests, beaches and wildlife. Limited accommodation options include the resort of Bom Bom, which sits at the top of the island on its own forested islet. rainbowtours.co.uk

Malaysia Malaysia is often overlooked in favour of neighbouring Thailand, which means it is usually quieter and with an untouched feel. The east coast has some of the most unspoilt islands including Tioman Island, a nature reserve ringed by beaches and known for its tropical rainforests and coral dive sites. Stay in one of 13 wooden ‘nests’, either in the treetops or overlooking the lagoon at Japamala Resort. experiencetravelgroup.com

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Indonesia Less than an hour from Bali lies Sumba Island, where each morning horses gallop freely along the 2.5km beach and swim in the sea. The people of Sumba believe their soul is connected to the horse and this year NIHI Samba hotel is renewing the invitation for guests to develop a deeper connection with the horses through Equine Connection Therapy. nihi.com

Western Australia Just off the coast of Perth, one of the most isolated cities in the world, is car-free Rottnest Island. Free-wheel between its 63 beaches and meet quokkas, mini-marsupials found only in the state that have been labelled as the ‘world’s happiest animal’. Guests can stay overnight at the new Samphire resort or glamp at Discovery Rottnest. westernaustralia.com

Japan Iriomate Island in subtropical Okinawa, Japan, is 90% jungle, offering visitors a nature-rich escape. Accessible only by boat the island boasts dense subtropical forests, mangrove-lined waterways, waterfalls and long curving beaches. Popular activities include trekking, canoeing, kayaking, jungle cruising and fireflies spotting. visitokinawa.co.uk

French Polynesia The Marquesian islands, part of the Islands of Tahiti, are known as the most remote archipelago on the planet, and Nuku Hiva is the largest of the bunch. Overlooking Taiohae Bay, Nuku Hiva Pearl Lodge is the only formal hotel on the island. Visitors can hike through the pineapple fields or relax on the blacksand beaches. tahititourisme.uk

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38 / The review news

Asia Pacific region in high demand

– IN BRIEF –

Jessica Pook speaks to Ian Dockreay, PATA Training Spokesperson

Destinations in the Asia Pacific region are among the most desirable for long-haul holidays, according to new research by Travel Uni and The Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA). When asked by the training provider for their ‘top four most requested regions’ the majority of the 400 agents asked stated that the Indian Ocean and Africa were the most popular in the Pacific Asia region; next was South East Asia followed by Australia. Overall, the UK staycation and European markets continue to lead, whilst other notable long-haul destinations include the Caribbean, the Middle East and America. “We broke down research to focus on the PATA region and one of the highlights was the Indian Ocean and East Africa,” said Ian Dockreay, PATA Training Spokesperson. “I think that’s because island destinations are most likely to be coming out of this pandemic ahead of other countries. They are fortunate in that they can control and monitor the spread much more easily.” Dockreay noted that a number of the Indian Ocean island destinations, such as Maldives, Seychelles and Mauritius, have resorts that operate within their own sphere, which will appeal to clients that wish to remain socially distanced. The findings also suggest that there is pent-up demand for destinations in South East Asia, as travellers look to broaden their

horizons by travelling to far-flung countries. Says Dockreay: “Our agents indicated that 60% book luxury holidays. Especially now, people have been dreaming about these exotic destinations and are looking for those high value, luxury experiences. They’ve got plenty of budget, which they’ve saved over the last year, and they want a spectacular holiday to make up for a lost 2020. The Asia Pacific region can provide the opportunity to experience a very different way of life.” The survey also asked agents to rank client needs in order of importance. Agents stated that ‘reassurance’, ‘advice’ and ‘knowledge’ came ahead of ‘price’ and ‘availability’ as the key benefits customers seek when using an agent to book their travel. Dockreay believes that the job of a travel agent has become more complex as they now have to be on top of the regulations upon arrival and those that clients must follow when they return. He said: “Clients want to know about security and refunds, and that’s information that only agents can help with. Agents also have to keep up to date with destinations, that’s why training is so crucial.” On training, the survey showed that 91% of agents rated increasing their destination knowledge as ‘very important’ in their ability to do their job well. It also found that almost half of agents spend one to three hours a week and over a quarter spend three or more hours per week training online to ‘improve their knowledge’. E-Learning continued to dominate as the method most preferred for training, with webinars also becoming more popular. “We’ve had a huge increase in agents using Travel Uni programmes during lockdown,” said Dockreay. “Agents are doing more training as they have to broaden their scope and get to know the world better. We’re starting a training course with Attitude Hotels in Mauritius and recently launched a programme with Sani and IKos a luxury hotel brand in Greece.”

• Breathless in Cancun AMResorts has unveiled details of its newest Breathless branded property, Breathless Cancun Soul Resort & Spa. Scheduled to open December 21, 2021 and located along the Cancun strip, the resort will feature 429 suites, including the Breathless brand signature unlimited-Luxury vacation concept. The all-suite beachfront resort will have three swimming pools and 10 gourmet dining options. aamresorts.com

• Club Med training tool The Club Med Experts platform has been designed to give agents a better understanding of Club Med’s products, destinations and services. There are five levels being offered, the first covers the all-inclusive package, Club Med ski, the new Club Med travel agent booking tool, Kids Clubs, spas & must try experiences, and its new holiday concept Zenventure. easyclubmed.com

• ‘Tip-inclusive’ travel Experience Travel Group (ETG) is including tips in its holiday prices as part of a new initiative. The fixed sum, based on the length and style of trip, will ‘reward’ guides, drivers and other experience providers and be split fairly between each provider. experiencetravelgroup.com

• Riviera tests the waters Riviera Travel is to cover the costs of all testing required for guests booking European river cruises and yacht cruises departing in July and August 2021. The free testing offer applies on new bookings made until June 30, 2021, with Riviera planning to only operate holidays to ‘green list’ countries. rivieratravel.co.uk

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NEWS

Celebrity’s U.S. Edge

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island-findings.com Official trade portal for The Beaches of Fort Myers & Sanibel

Celebrity Edge will be the first cruise ship to sail from U.S. waters in more than a year when it leaves Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, on June 26, 2021. The ship will set sail on a seven-night cruise of the Caribbean, visiting Costa Maya, Cozumel and Nassau, after being given the green light by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to be the first ship back in the water. Permission was granted after the ship successfully met the new standards for providing a healthy cruise experience for both guests and crew. “We’ve consulted with the brightest minds in the health industry to ensure that our passengers and crew feel safe and comfortable on our ships while enjoying the uncompromised experience they know and love,” said Celebrity Cruises CEO and President Lisa Lutoff-Perlo. Clients looking to book a Celebrity Caribbean holiday this summer can choose between Eastern and Western Caribbean itineraries. celebritycruises.com

Europe a top sell Luxury trade-only tour operator Lusso has introduced a Europe programme featuring the most regularly requested destinations by UK agents. Curated by Lusso’s Europe & Africa Product Manager, Vanessa Dean, destinations include Spain, Portugal, France, Italy, Greece, Croatia and Turkey, with holidays promising to explore “diverse cultures, fascinating history, mouth-watering cuisine, breathtaking natural scenery and some of the finest hotels and resorts in the world.” “For many years, Europe has been the destination we’ve most consistently been asked to add to our portfolio,” explains James Weaver, Lusso’s Managing Director, “We established Lusso to support independent travel agents and will always strive to listen to their feedback and react to their changing needs, which is why I’m so delighted to be adding this much-wanted product to our offering.” lussotravel.com

T

he Beaches of Fort Myers & Sanibel has relaunched islandfindings.com, the official trade portal to help UK and Irish agents sell the Florida destination. The course gives agents an insight into the nature-driven region, made up of over 100 islands just north of the Florida Everglades, and offers quick selling tips, best things to do, images, videos and more. Upon completion, agents will have the opportunity to attend events in the UK and Ireland as well as earn rewards. The news and webinar rooms will keep agents updated with the latest developments in the area and provide access to short training webinars presented by the The Beaches and Fort Myers & Sanibel team, alongside in-destination partners. Agents also have access to the tool kit to download marketing assets and copy to help promote The Beaches of Fort Myers & Sanibel. Finally, the new directory now allows direct communication with in-destination partners for any hotel, excursion or transportation enquires. Island-findings.com

Those that pass the course by June 30 will be entered into a prize draw to win a pair of wireless headphones.

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Canada rendezvous for 2022 Canada’s annual travel trade event, Rendezvous Canada, took place on a virtual platform in May for the first time in its 45-year-old history. Around 55 UK tour operators – more than have attended the live version in Canada in recent years – logged on to the rebranded RendezVous-Plus event that showcased the best and latest in Canada’s tourism sector. With Canada’s borders currently closed to international travellers and most interprovincial travel for Canadians still off limits, destination offices and attractions were mostly looking towards 2022. Marsha Walden, President and CEO of Destination Canada, said that Destination Canada’s own modelling, which considers current vaccination supply and roll-out rates, suggests that the earliest Canada might be in a position to open up to international visitors is the autumn. But she stressed this was a “forecast and not federal government policy”. Proof of vaccinations and testing and tracing will be part of the fabric of future travel, predicted Beth Porter, President and CEO of the Tourism Association of Canada. She said there needed to be ‘one policy’ across Canada rather than a raft of varying provincial and territory entry requirements.

• Hong Kong’s new focus The Hong Kong Tourism Board (HKTB) will highlight the West Kowloon District in a new round of its Hong Kong Neighbourhoods campaign. The campaign will coincide with the opening of M+ museum, due to be one of the world’s largest museums of modern and contemporary visual culture. discoverhongkong.com Maureen Riley, Vice President, International, Destination Canada, noted that the organisation had “turned down the volume” on its trade activity, but had nevertheless trained more than 3,500 agents under the Canada Specialist Programme (CSP) over a five-month period. She said that Destination Canada had also been engaging with tour operators to build programmes featuring new product and was in discussion with airlines to revive routes put on hold during Covid. Rupert Peters, Destination Canada’s Managing Director in the UK, said that his team were working on a ‘Recovery Plan’ that would be in place in advance of restrictions being lifted. rendezvouscanada.ca

Titan seeks solo travellers Titan has launched a dedicated Small Group and Solo Holidays trade brochure, with deposits from £49pp when booked by August 2021. The new collection caters to solo travellers as well as those looking for a more ‘intimate group travel experience’. Titan’s tours have a maximum capacity of 24 people, with some operating with 12. Clients are accompanied by an experienced and knowledgeable tour guide, with all accommodation, transport and excursions planned in advance. A highlight of the brochure is a 14-day ‘Zimbabwe – The Path to the Smoke that Thunders’ escorted tour, priced from £4,749pp. The tour includes eight nights’

– IN BRIEF –

hotel accommodation, a three-night cruise, meals and excursions – including a dinner on the Bushtracks Express steam train and a visit to Victoria Falls – and a choice of game drives and fishing at Lake Kariba. For solo travellers, a 14-day ‘Footsteps of the Incas’ escorted solo tour is priced from £3,599pp. The deal includes 11 nights’ hotel accommodation, meals and excursions, including visits to Lake Titicaca and climbing Machu Picchu. An increased desire to travel as part of a smaller group was revealed as an emerging trend in Titan’s Travel Trends report as this “offers a more personal experience and allows the group to naturally bond as friends.“ titantravel.co.uk

• Viking adds third ship A third Viking ship will sail round-trip voyages from Valletta, Malta’s capital, from July. Viking

Star will join Viking Venus and Viking Sea and will sail a new 11-day itinerary, Malta & the Western Mediterranean, as part of the cruise line’s Welcome Back collection. vikingcruises.co.uk

• New Rocky route on track

for summer launch

Rocky Mountaineer’s first route in the USA is on track for an August start. The Rockies to the Red Rocks route will be a two-day rail trip that connects Denver, Colorado, and Moab, Utah, with an overnight stay in Glenwood Springs, Colorado. Current plans see it running until November 19. rockymountaineer.com

• A Great Scottish tour Great Rail Journeys has launched a small group escorted tour exploring Edinburgh, Inverness and the Scottish Highlands. The operator describes the tour as “an epic adventure without going abroad.” The eight-day tour is priced from £1,595pp and includes four-star hotel accommodation and 13 meals. greatrail.com

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Central Florida

NEWS

Brits say vaccine passports will restore confidence Three in five British adults (61%) back the introduction of vaccine passports, with 45% of people saying they want an overseas holiday this year, according to AllClear Travel Insurance. The research found that a third (54%) of those that supported the vaccine passport said that it would be “good motivation” for people to get vaccinated in the first place. In addition, 44% of those that backed the vaccine said it would make overseas travel safer and a further 44% cited the benefits of not having to quarantine when returning from abroad. Those that supported the vaccine passport concept said it would help ensure holidaymakers would be unlikely to suffer from Covid-19 and require hospitalisation abroad. Whilst 61% of people backed the vaccine passport, 30% were against it and 9% were undecided. For those opposed, the main concern related to the exclusion of people who chose not to have or were unable to have the vaccine (47%). Chris Rolland CEO of AllClear Insurance commented: “As restrictions begin to lift and with the PM’s promise that each stage of progress is ‘irreversible’, unlocking travel is a priority. “With more than 90% of the over-50s having been vaccinated already – and with this age group leading support for the vaccine passport concept - it makes sense to focus on what can be done to make overseas travel safe again.” “For a country that has notoriously always rejected plans to carry identification, the research suggests there is a greater freedom at stake and that the majority are willing to do as much as they can to regain their freedom.” allcleartravel.co.uk

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Visit Central Florida Travel Specialist Academy

V

isit Central Florida, Polk County, is inviting agents to sign up to its newly launched Visit Central Florida Travel Specialist Academy. Once completed, agents will receive a Visit Central Florida Specialist Certificate, exclusive discounts and upgraded benefits within the destination. Before starting, agents are invited to watch a virtual familiarisation video where Tourism Industry Sales Representative Joni Allen takes them on a 20-minute whistle stop tour of what’s known as “Florida’s Sweetest Spot”. Home to LEGOLAND® Florida Resort, the area offers many undiscovered attractions and experiences like the Westgate River Ranch Resort, the largest dude ranch east of the Mississippi. The ranch offers a host of accommodation options including luxe tepees as well as a Saturday night championship rodeo. Agents will get to know Bok Tower Gardens, one of the oldest attractions in Florida, as well as unique experiences like U-pick citrus farms where visitors can join a tour and pick their own fruit. The following 40-minute training programme covers accommodation - the area boasts over 7,000 vacation rental homes - as well as outdoor adventures, best places to eat like a local, lake life, State, City and County Parks, historic homes, art and culture and sports and entertainment. visitcentralflorida.org/ travel-professionals

The first 25 agents to complete the training will receive a £10 Amazon voucher. SELLINGTRAVEL.CO.UK

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Sponsored by: Secrets of Ceylon and Ras Al Khaimah Supported by: Charitable Travel Fund

42 / Show report INDIAN OCEAN

Uniting the world Selling Travel was the media partner at four of the annual Unite events this spring. Here’s the latest news from Unite Indian Ocean and Middle East and Unite Visit USA

Abu Dhabi debuts Conrad The newly-opened Conrad Abu Dhabi Etihad Towers is the first of Hilton’s luxury portfolio to operate in Abu Dhabi, the UAE’s capital. Formerly one of Abu Dhabi’s Jumeirah at Etihad Towers, the rebranded property features 12 dining concepts, a luxurious spa, a private beach, three swimming pools and a conference and event facilities. Its 576 guest rooms, suites and residences offer incredible views of the Arabian Gulf, whilst also providing easy access to one of the world’s most exclusive retail collections at The Avenue at Etihad Towers. H.H. Sheikh Suroor Bin Mohammed Al Nayhan commented; “Etihad Towers is the embodiment of modern and sophisticated luxury and I am delighted to be partnering

with Hilton to open Conrad Abu Dhabi Etihad Towers. Abu Dhabi’s global reputation will be further enhanced with the presence of the luxury Conrad brand – a suitable addition to the world-class retail and dining options available at this landmark development.” hilton.com

Mauritius flagship for LUX* LUX* Grand Baie Resort & Residences is due to open in November this year in Mauritius. With a focus on indoor-outdoor living, the resort will offer 86 junior suites, 20 pool residences, seven pool villas and one grand beach pool villa. A highlight will be an adult-only rooftop with panoramic views of the Indian Ocean and a 30-metre infinity pool surrounded by cabanas. A beach club, nightclub and multiple dining concepts will complete the resort. luxresorts.com

Ritz opens in the Maldives The Ritz-Carlton Maldives, a 100-villa resort built across four islands on the North Malé Atoll, is due to open in June. Each villa will have ocean or lagoon views as well as its own personal host. Guests will be able to dine at

seven different restaurants as well as enjoy treatments at The Ritz-Carlton Spa. For families, the full Ritz Kids programme will incorporate a range of experiences designed to ‘protect and explore the ocean’. ritzcarlton.com.com

NEWS IN BRIEF • Amari appeal for Onyx Thailand-based Onyx Hospitality Group is developing a new Maldives project under its core brand Amari. Guests will arrive via speedboat to the Gaafu Dhaalu Atoll before staying in one of the resort’s 120 villas – made up of 48 beach villas, 12 beach pool villas, 58 overwater villas and two overwater pool villas. onyx-hospitality.com

• JA Lake View opens JA Lake View Hotel has opened its doors in Dubai. It is the first hotel in the Middle East to feature Amazon Alexa voice assistants in every guest room, enabling guests to adjust the comforts of their room by voice command. JA The Resort is 10 minutes from Dubai Parks & Resorts and 30 minutes from the Dubai Mall. jaresortshotels.com

• Hilton goes green Hilton Seychelles Northolme Resort & Spa has introduced a monthly ‘Sustainable Day’, with guests encouraged to get involved in a range of activities from beach cleans and meat-free meals to switching all power and water off for an hour a day. seychelles.hilton.com

• Anantara wows guests Anantara Kihavah Maldives Villas has launched a new package with a trio of once-in-a-lifetime experiences unique to the destination. The offer includes snorkelling with manta rays, stargazing at the only over-water observatory in the Maldives and fine dining underwater at SEA, the world’s first oceanic restaurant and wine cellar. Anantara.com

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Visit Tampa Bay’s Travel Agent Academy The Visit Tampa Bay Travel Agent Academy has been designed to keep agents updated on all the latest developments to help them sell the in-demand Florida destination. Agents that qualify as Tampa Bay Specialist will learn about new attractions, such as the Iron Gwazi ride at Busch Gardens, Adventure Island’s Solar Vortex ride (new for 2021) and ZooTampa’s multimillion-dollar Manatee Critical Care Centre. They will also see a different side of Tampa, by learning about its Cuban culture, which they should recommend alongside its top-rated beaches, piratethemed attractions and outdoor pursuits. “Travellers are relying on agents now more than ever and we are excited to bring them up to speed on Tampa Bay’s experiences and

NEWS IN BRIEF

new offerings via our virtual Travel Agent Academy,” said Santiago C. Corrada, President and CEO of Visit Tampa Bay. To celebrate the launch, two agents that graduate from the academy will win a £50 shopping voucher. travelagentacademy.com

Alabama hosts World Games The World Games 2022, an 11-day Olympic-style sports event where athletes from around the globe compete in 34 multi-disciplinary sports, will be held in Birmingham, Alabama in 2022. Taking place from July 7-17, the event will be staged at 25 venues around the city’s greater metropolitan area and will mark the 40th anniversary since the games began. alabama.travel

• Kentucky’s gambit Visit Lexington has introduced a Queen’s Gambit Guide that will offer visitors a chance to connect with local landmarks and attractions from the Netflix show. Lexington’s 21c Museum Hotel has a new Queen’s Gambit-inspired ‘Harmon Room’, complete with chess-themed wallpaper, midcentury furniture and giant chess pieces mounted to the ceiling. Kentuckytourism.com

• New opening in Austin The Thompson Austin hotel is scheduled to open mid-2021. Located in the heart of downtown, the Texas capital’s music and entertainment district, the hotel will feature 212 guestrooms and suites and 17 residences. Also on offer will be a wellness center and pool deck with views of the city. austintexas.org

Fort Myers promotes natural Florida The Beaches of Fort Myers and Sanibel is inviting UK visitors to experience the ‘uncommercial, unspoilt’ side of Florida. Located in southwest Florida, on the Gulf of Mexico, The Beaches of Fort Myers and Sanibel is positioning itself as a ‘naturedriven destination’ ideal for outdoor-lovers. Made up of over 100 islands dotted around Pine Island Sound, just north of the Everglades, the region is home to manatees, dolphins and around 250 types of birds. A representative from the destination’s tourist board said: “Being just a two-hour drive from Fort Lauderdale and Tampa, and three hours from Orlando, The Beaches of Fort Myers & Sanibel is an ideal destination

for any Florida holiday, especially for families. “Renowned for their laid-back appeal, the islands conjure up barefoot getaways and abound with wildlife and nature, appealing to soft-adventure seekers and those looking to escape from day-to-day stress. It’s very different to typical perceptions of Florida.” To further entice visitors while at the same time supporting local businesses, the destination has launched a Sun Saver Passport which offers exclusive deals on attractions, restaurants and experiences. The free mobile-exclusive savings passport is available to locals and visitors. The Beaches of Fort Myers & Sanibel has also relaunched its l trade portal, available at: island-findings.com

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