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Alabama • Chicago • Indian Ocean • Japan • Middle East • Philippines • River Cruise • Tanzania• Utah • Wyoming • Nature and Wildlife

CALL OF THE WILD Earn your stripes by introducing clients to the natural world

how to sell...

Japan Middle East River Cruise Indian Ocean and more...

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Featuring America’s treasured soprano RENÉE FLEMING, ALEX JENNINGS of Netflix’s The Crown and rising star SOLEA PFEIFFER ! John Berry and Anthony Lilley for Scenario Two Ltd & Karl Sydow present





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FEATURES 08 River Cruise: A guide to selling the world's rivers 32 Middle East: New developments are opening up the region 37 Indian Ocean: How it satisfies all of the top travel trends 47 Japan: Long-haul star of the moment

78 30

68 47

44 32


80 37

QUICK READS 30 How to sell: Utah 36 Exploring: Alberta 44 My journey: Alabama 61 Country profile: Philippines 64 Celebrity interview: Prue Leith 68 Destination profile: Chicago



TALKING SHOP 15 News from our Awards Roadshows, columns, incentives, Visit USA Roadshow and more

THE REVIEW 53 News, hotel reviews and





show reports

NATURE & WILDLIFE HOLIDAYS 72 Trending now 76 What's new: New



nature-focused products 78 Wyoming 80 My Journey: Tanzania 82 Take 5: Bird watching



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



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New horizons WINNER




Jessica Pook, Sasha Wood & April Waterston CONTRIBUTING EDITORS:

Andy Hoskins & Julie Baxter EDITORIAL DIRECTOR

Steve Hartridge


Steve Thompson Sally Parker ADVERTISING MANAGER

Lisa Merrigan


Louisa Horton DESIGNERS

Ross Clifford, Caitlan Francis & Zoe Tarrant


fter two columns talking of failed travel businesses, I am keeping it light, and Brexit-free, this month! As I write this the clocks are about to turn back but the travel industry is looking forwards. My inbox is flooded with press releases from tour operators and other travel businesses making their predictions for next year's travel industry trends and hot destinations and it's exciting to read. It seems that families will be stepping out of their comfort zone with ever-more active escapes; slow travel - immersing yourself in the destination and travelling by train, boat or even Laura Gelder foot - will become the trendy thing to do; and holidays decided EDITOR by their suitability for the family pet will be de rigueur. As for destinations, turn to page 7 and you'll see Lonely Planet's top pick for 2020, Bhutan. It's a place I've long been fascinated by and was the subject of the first Lonely Planet guide I ever owned. I have only travelled there through its pages but one day I hope to make it to this mysterious mountain kingdom. Tour operator Scott Dunn predicts that overtourism concerns will lead to the emergence of new city break heroes - Florence instead of Venice and Girona in place of Barcelona. Meanwhile, is pitching South Korea's second largest city, Seogwipo, as the next big thing. Next month we'll be looking at these forward trends in more depth but for November we've tackled one of my favourite subjects - wildlife and nature. Turn to page 71 for inspiration on bird watching, tales of Tanzanian primates and lots of new product. So, the nights are drawing in, but the leaves are turning crisp, there's a new David Attenborough series about to start, and lots to be positive about.


Clare Hunter


Steve Hunter


Shani Kunar


Matt Bonner CEO

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


With this issue

This publication is printed on Revivew 100 Media and Revive recycled coated, recycled paper grades that are FSC® Recycled certified and Carbon Balanced.

MACAO 2020 Guide


This latest edition shares cultural encounters, adventures, must-see sights and events in this Special Administrative Region of China.

From road trips to iconic attractions, our guide to the USA arms you with the latest information on how to sell travel to this great nation.

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WIN A GoPro HERO7! Member of the Leading Hotels of The World™, Casa de Campo Resort & Villas is the ultimate Caribbean adventure, offering horse riding, water sports, clay/trap shooting, golf, tennis and more. And now we're giving you the chance to record your own adventures with your very own GoPro HERO7. Set in the town of La Romana on the South East coast of the Dominican Republic, Casa de Campo Resort & Villas resides between the glistening Caribbean Sea and the winding Chavon River. The fivestar luxury resort encompasses 7,000 acres of premium facilities, luxury accommodations and lush landscapes. Guests can easily navigate the resort as each room comes with a four-passenger golf buggy for use throughout their stay.


pristine, private white sand beach; access to two secluded islands · Live concerts with world-class acts, in a 5,000-seat amphitheatre · Extensive spa, holistic services, yoga & state of the art gym · Altos de Chavon - a 16th century Italian style village, with Museums, Art Galleries and workshops · Full-service marina and yacht club · 12 gourmet dining venues & 5 bars

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the big picture


Bhutan Paro Taktsang, or ‘Tiger’s Nest’

Kingdom come The Himalayan Kingdom of Bhutan is Lonely Planet’s top destination for 2020. Often described as a real-life Shangri-La, its king once proclaimed ‘gross national happiness’ as more important than GDP. Bhutanese culture is deeply traditional and rooted in Buddhism but the country leads the way in sustainability - it’s quietly become a carbon negative nation and is set to be the world’s first fully organic state in 2020. Travellers pay a daily fee to even set foot there so overtourism isn’t a worry.

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waterways Whether it’s fairytale castles in Europe or golden temples in Asia, the world’s waterways offer access to an array of enticing attractions and cultures, says Jeannine Williamson


iver cruising continues to ride on the crest of a wave, with new ships and itineraries being added year-on-year. Andy Harmer, CLIA UK & Ireland Director, says: “The central and western European river destinations still hold the largest share of the UK and Irish river cruise market, accounting for 64% of passengers. Last year the Danube overtook the Rhine to become the most popular river, with the Douro in third, experiencing an increase of almost 15% in passenger numbers. “Outside Europe, Asia stood as the main river cruise destination, with the Mekong holding the top spot. North America, a relatively new destination to the river cruise market, and Africa, with the resurgence of cruises on the Nile, have both experienced strong growth.” Kathryn Pollitt, Product and Marketing Manager at Blue Water Holidays, adds: “Whilst the Rhine and Danube are favourites for first-time cruisers, one of our

most popular European rivers this year has been the Lower Danube through Eastern Europe. “Further afield, we’ve seen increasing interest in Asia compared to last year, with twice as many of our customers cruising through Vietnam and Cambodia. “I expect to see more growth outside Europe, with new ships on the Mekong and more cruises on India’s Ganges and Brahmaputra. In the U.S. there are unique itineraries, including the Cumberland and Hudson rivers, and we’re seeing more customers returning to Egypt.” James Hill, from Go Cruise, has also experienced growing interest in exotic destinations, with demand for the Lower Danube exceeding supply. He explains: “India is on the rise, with Pandaw ships supplementing the current offer and there are green shoots of revival on the Nile with fewer ships, but better quality. Also trending and selling well are American rivers such as Columbia, Snake and Hudson.”

Europe Danube Flowing through 10 countries and four capital cities – Vienna, Bratislava, Budapest and Belgrade – and the stunning UNESCO-listed Wachau Valley, the Danube is big on sights and an obvious choice for first-time river cruise clients. Seven-night sailings between Budapest and Passau, or week-long round-trips from Passau, are an ideal introduction to Europe’s second longest river. Beyond the upper stretches lies the lesser-explored Lower Danube running through Serbia, Bulgaria and Romania to its mouth at the Black Sea and the wildlife wilderness of the Danube Delta, which is a good recommendation for repeaters. Dordogne, Garonne & Girande These three rivers combine to create


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cruises that start and end in Bordeaux, where ships moor close to the historical centre. Flowing through the renowned Medoc, St Emilion and Sauternes winemaking regions, recommend these sailings to wine lovers.

“Whilst the Rhine and Danube are favourites for first-time cruisers, one of our most popular European rivers this year has been the Lower Danube through Eastern Europe” Kathryn Pollitt, Product and Marketing Manager, Blue Water Holidays

Douro Discovered by the Romans who named it the ‘River of Gold’, Portugal’s Douro is a hot spot with several new ships launched this year. Rising in Spain and winding 125 miles through lush green landscapes, all itineraries are seven-night roundtrips from Porto to the Spanish border, including a visit to the beautiful university city of Salamanca. Dutch Waterways Connecting to the Rhine, this dense network of waterways reaches across the Netherlands and affords views of historic windmills and the low-lying peaceful countryside. Highlights include the famous tulip fields of Keukenhof Gardens, the


postcard pastures of Freisland, waterland houses and cheese in Edam and medieval architecture in Ghent (Belgium). Elbe Starting in the Czech Republic and flowing to the North Sea beyond Hamburg, the Elbe runs between the show-stopping capitals of Prague and Berlin, taking in the dramatic craggy scenery of Saxon Switzerland along the way. Featured by few lines, it is one of Europe’s least discovered and lesser-known rivers. Guadalquivir Spain is not well-known for river cruises, however the Guadalquivir and Portuguese Guadiana rivers combine to provide an itinerary encompassing a Seville city break, river and ocean cruise. CroisiEurope is the only line offering this unusual sailing, with stops including Jerez, Cadiz and Cordoba in Spain and Vila Real in Portugal.

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SAVE up to


••••• Plus ••••• FREE Airport Lounge & Fast-Track Security Pass**


Plus •••••


Private Door-toDoor Chauffeur Transfers^

2020 EUROPE RIVER CRUISING Autumn sale now on

The Scenic Difference

Experience unrivalled all-inclusive luxury on board our custom-designed Space-Ships, built to sail the rivers of Europe. Where regional fine dining, sommelier-paired local wines and some of the most spacious suites in Europe combine with a diverse collection of onshore excursions, for a 5-star all-inclusive experience unlike anything else available. Book your customer’s European river cruise now and they’ll save up to 30% per couple, plus receive a FREE Airport Lounge Pass and Fast-Track Security Pass**, plus FREE private door-to-door chauffeur transfers^ for a seamless journey from start to finish. Not forgetting, our Brexit Assurance Guarantee provides guests with the reassurance they need in these uncertain times, that their holiday will not be affected by Britain leaving the European Union. So many of our exceptional sailings are booking up fast, and if your customers book and pay in full before 31 December 2019 they’ll received an additional Early Payment Discount of £125 per person. There’s truly never been a better time to book and fall back in love with the rivers of Europe.

Windmills, Tulips & Belgian Delights 8-Day Cruise from £1,870 per person

Amsterdam > Amsterdam Departs April 2020

Gems of the Danube 8-Day Cruise from £1,720 per person

Nuremberg > Budapest Departs April – October 2020


Where all luxuries are included

On board Return flights from up to 16 UK airports or NO FLY option via Eurostar on selected cruises 5-Star Scenic Space-Ships Balcony suites, including a Scenic Sun Lounge Butler service for all guests Complimentary beverages all day, every day* Up to six dining options, from casual to fine-dining Exclusive Scenic Tailormade GPS for self-guided touring Authentic local entertainment Gym and Wellness Centre The freedom of our e-bikes Cruise Directors to guide and assist Expert local guides Complimentary Wi-Fi internet Return airport transfers

Onshore Scenic Enrich – unforgettable and exclusive once-in-a-lifetime experiences Scenic Freechoice – a choice of excursions throughout the journey

Plus all tipping and gratuities

For more information, training and support contact your local Sales Manager


Terms and conditions: Offers are valid for new bookings only made between 16 October 2019 and 30 November 2019. Prices based on per person twin share in GBP and are strictly limited and subject to availability in the lowest cabin category available. Prices are correct at time of going to print (October 2019). Europe River Cruising: Maximum saving of 30%, dependent on itinerary. **Airport Lounge and Fast Track Security passes are subject to availability at your selected airport, there will be no cash alternative or further discount offered should these facilities not be offered or available. ^Private door-to-door transfers are complimentary within 75-miles of an airport where flights are available from. For guests who live outside of 75 miles, an additional supplement of £2.00 per mile will be charged. Scenic Tailormade features differ in Portugal and e-Bikes are not available. *All beverages are included except for a small number of fine and vintage wines, champagnes and spirits.

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onboard the amercan queen, on the mississippi

the rhine valley

Loire Known as France’s ‘royal river’, due to the kings and aristocrats who once lived in the beautiful chateaux lining its banks, the Loire will appeal to those looking for a tranquil sailing on a lesser-known waterway. Taking in the quirky art-filled city of Nantes, CroisiEurope is the only line to feature the Loire with its contemporary paddle-wheel ship. paris’ eiffel tower from the seine

Moselle Quieter and narrower than the Rhine, the Moselle winds through the heart of Germany’s wine-growing regions and a highlight is Cochem, one of the prettiest spots on the river. The castle perched on a 300ft promontory is the highest on the Moselle and the charming old town is filled with half-timbered buildings. Po Venice is the jewel in the crown on Italy’s longest river which is only navigable along a 60-mile stretch. Peaceful sailings take in gorgeous medieval cities such as Ferrara and Mantua and intimate barge cruises are available along the Canal Bianco running alongside the river.

slovakian capital bratislava from the danube

Rhine With the highest number of castles on any river and picturesque wine villages such as Rudesheim, it’s no surprise the Rhine is

the second most popular waterway. Most lines offer a seven-night sailing between Basel and Amsterdam, which is ideal for new-to-cruise customers. It includes the UNESCO-listed Middle Rhine Valley and famous Lorelei Rock where a siren was said to lure sailors to their doom. For repeaters, suggest themed sailings including the spectacular Rhine in Flames event, marking the wine harvest season, and Christmas market cruises. Rhone & Saone These two rivers provide journeys into the heart of southern France and go down a treat with food lovers. Itineraries include time in the gastronomic capital of Lyon and excursions to Beaune, the capital of the Burgundy wine region. Natural highlights include Provence, which is famous for its lavender fields, wild Camargue horses and black bulls. Russian waterways The mighty Volga and interconnecting lakes and waterways take visitors deep into the heart of Russia on larger-than-average ships between St Petersburg and Moscow – with iconic sights like the Kremlin, Red Square and Catherine the Great’s Palace. In the middle are cities like Uglich and Yaroslavl, full of onion-domed churches, and Kizhi Island on Lake Onega, famous for its wooden churches and windmills.

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river cruise

Seine Cruises begin and end in Paris, with the opportunity for land extensions. Excursions to the Normandy’s D-Day landing beaches will appeal to customers interested in wartime history and cultural highlights include Rouen with its grand cathedral and Giverny, where impressionist painter Monet lived and painted many of his most famous works.

Africa picture caption

the snake river

Chobe Itineraries offer a choice of land stays in safari lodges and cities such as Cape Town combined with a cruise along this river which straddles Botswana and Namibia. Highlights are a visit to Victoria Falls and a jeep safari in Chobe National Park, home to Africa’s largest elephant population. Nile Once one of the best-selling river cruises, the Nile is back on the radar. Luxury vessels transport passengers between Luxor and Aswan with excursions including the Valley of the Kings where pharaohs like Tutankhamun were buried. Recommend the Nile to culture vultures and twin with a stay in Cairo to see the pyramids or a Red Sea beach break.

Asia Brahmaputra An up-and-coming river cruise destination, the winding Brahmaputra rises in the Himalayas and flows through the lush Assam valley in the northeast corner of India, a land filled with religious sites, ildlife and, of course, tea. Ganges The river, immortalised as the goddess Ganga in Hinduism, is both India’s lifeblood and a sacred waterway. With visits to temples, palaces, chaotic towns and remote rural areas, often using rickshaws for transport, these sailings suit those looking for culture, history and authentic exploration. Irawaddy Typically starting from the former Burmese capital Yangon, most itineraries run from the temple-filled town of Bagan, where hot air balloon rides are popular, to Mandalay on atmospheric colonial-style ships. Itineraries can change according to river conditions so these trips are best suited to open-minded clients. For the more adventurous, some sailings take on the remote tributary of the Chindwin, flowing towards the Indian border and passing places like Mawlaik, with its colonial ‘dak’ bungalows.

columbia river gorge, oregon

Nizhny Novgorod on the volga

working boats on the mekong

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chateau de chenonceau, river loire

and the most dramatic part of the river is “The twisting, fast-flowing the 150-mile Three Gorges region, with a Upper Mekong is a fascinating spectacular landscape of misty mountains, off-the-beaten track choice sheer cliffs and the namesake dam which for travellers looking to is the world’s largest engineering project. explore remote villages and The Americas the French colonial city of Amazon Luang Prabang” Waking up to the sound of the rainforest

Mekong Literally translated as the ‘Mother of Rivers’, the Mekong offers a kaleidoscope of sights and experiences. The busier Lower Mekong through Vietnam and Cambodia showcases the wonder of the Angkor temples, the world’s largest religious complex, and the poignant Killing Fields. The twisting, fast-flowing Upper Mekong is a fascinating off-the-beaten track choice for travellers looking to explore remote villages and the calm and stylish French colonial-styled city of Luang Prabang in Laos. Yangtze A cruise through a country that was closed to the outside world for centuries is a real voyage of discovery. Itineraries include land-based stays in historic Beijing and neon-lit Shanghai, providing a fascinating contrast between cities and secluded rural areas that are only accessible by ship. Top sights include the awe-inspiring Great Wall of China and Terracotta Army,

coming to life and expeditions with naturalists are key experiences that make an Amazon cruise so memorable. Ideally suited to well-travelled clients, Iquitos in Peru is the gateway for cruises along South America’s largest river and can be twinned with a stay in colourful capital Lima. Columbia & Snake Those who cruise this route will be following in the wake of 19th century explorers Meriwether Lewis and William Clark on their historical expedition to discover the Pacific Ocean on a one-week cruise from Portland to Lewiston through the Cascade Mountain Range. Mississippi The iconic American river plied by atmospheric paddle-wheelers is a wonderful way to explore Civil War history and charming small towns such as St Francisville with its antebellum mansions. The most popular itinerary is a seven-night sailing from New Orleans to Memphis, home of the blues and the king of rock ‘n’ roll, Elvis. 

the dramatic gorges of the yangtze

wendy wu on the yangtze

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Talking Shop INSPIRED BY YOU T h e i n s i d e t ra c k o n t ra v e l

Train to win trip for two One agent can win an experience of their choice for two, such as afternoon tea or a segway ride, in TIPTO's latest incentive. To win, agents need to complete all training modules online, including those from RCD Hotels (representing resort brands including Hard Rock and Eden Roc in Mexico, the Dominican Republic and Miami), by November 30.

Agents venture Dubai from Vietnam otldo Medal on a recent G am Mega F

Get a taste of Jamaica To celebrate the launch of McDonald’s Jamaican Chicken Sandwich, the Jamaica Tourist Board is sending 50 sandwiches to agents that log a booking to the Caribbean island before November 19. The successful agents will get a Maccy Ds delivered to their door.

Contents 16



Ski for free Delicious Las Vegas

Lip Smacking Foodie Tours, which offers culinary adventures in Las Vegas, is offering agents a 10% discount so they can earn more commission. Tours offered include Savoury Bites and Neon Lights and a Lip Smacking Boozy Brunch.

Family ski specialist Esprit is offering free places for babies and toddlers when booked by Halloween, as part of its Baby and Toddler (BAT) Weeks, which cater for children up to four years old.




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Selling Travel Agents Choice Awards Roadshow WHERE: London, Leeds & Manchester WHEN: October 7, 8 and 9 WHY: To boost product knowledge by meeting some of the finalists from the Selling Travel Agents Choice Awards in categories covering destinations, tour operators, acommodation, airlines, cruise and more.

Finalists news & views

A -ROSA RIVER CRUISES: The groundbreaking new E-Motion ship is due for delivery in Spring 2021. The ship has been designed specifically to appeal to families and multi-generational guests, with large family cabins, a dedicated kids club and a separate children’s pool. It also features new onboard technology including battery propulsion for emission-free sailing into and out of cities and air bubble technology to reduce fuel consumption. ATTITUDE HOTELS: Lagoon Mauritius has joined the Attitude family and will reopen following refurbishment from December 1, 2019. The four-star adult-only hotel is located on the Anse la Raie lagoon. The hotel has suppressed single-use plastics throughout the property. BARBADOS TOURISM MARKETING INC: The Caribbean island is looking to strengthen relationships with the trade and identify ambassadors. Barbados has partnered with Online Travel Training and agents who complete its programme and register bookings can get points which can be redeemed for holidays, fams, etc. BRITISH AIRWAYS: The airline has promised to invest £6.7 billion into the customer

experience over five years. This will improve cabins, lounges and more. New routes for BA include Osaka, Pittsburg and Charleston. CARIBBEAN TOURISM ORGANIZATION: The Caribbean Tourism Organisation UK Chapter has partnered with the Blue Waters Resort & Spa in Antigua to give away seven nights B&B. Agents must enter before November 11, 2019, at caribbeantravelguru. com to be in with a chance of winning. COOK ISLANDS: “What makes us unique is that we have no brands," said Debbie Lewis, from Cook Islands Tourism. "That means no Hilton, no Starbucks or McDonalds. If you

I’ve had a cracking night – you guys have really outdone yourselves! I’ve really enjoyed it and it’s been great to chat to so many suppliers I’ve not had a chance to see before and all in one place” Catrina Jenkins Flight Centre

Check out our award winners at

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The event want to get away from the commercial world and enjoy local hotels and unique experiences, come here!” COSTA RICA TOURISM BOARD: Having been famous for hosting 5% of the world’s biodiversity, Costa Rica has announced it’s now officially home to 6.5% thanks to its conservation efforts. Its main focus is now on saving the jaguar and in 2020 Costa Rica will be the first country in the world to ban single use plastics. Costa Rica plans to be carbon neutral by 2050.

I was impressed with Scenic Eclipse, especially its helicopters and submarine. It’s a quality product and will appeal to my customers. I’ll be selling the Antarctic cruise"

Here's what you posted on social media..

Suzanne Norris Designer Travel @JoyJetsetter

DCT ABU DHABI: The Yas Island Hotel Viceroy Abu Dhabi is rebranding as the W Hotel Abu Dhabi after Marriott took over operations last year. Abu Dhabi’s Formula 1 track wraps around the structure, which has become an architectural landmark. There’s also a new Hilton opening soon in Yas Bay on Yas Island where there will be a beach and shopping centre. Fairmont Marina Abu Dhabi is set to open on its own private beach in 2020. @FabuliciousTrvl

DELTA AIR LINES: The airline has retro-fitted its Boeing 767s with a new Premium Select seat and it will fly for the first time in November from Heathrow to Atlanta and then New York City, Boston, Detroit and Minneapolis. EL AL ISRAEL AIRLINES: EL AL customers can now send their sports equipment, such as skis and snowboards or surfboards, crated bicycles and more as checked baggage in addition to their suitcase, at no extra cost. This is a first-of-its-kind unique benefit for customers. ETHIOPIAN AIRLINES: The national carrier will move into its new hub at the newly-built international airport in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa this November, with a fresh lounge, new facilities and expanded operations. The airline is developing the fivestar Skylight Hotel at the airport, opening 2021. Ethiopian’s business passengers in transit will be able to stay there free.

Check out our award winners at

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ETIHAD HOLIDAYS: The Abu Dhabi Formula 1 Grand Prix takes place at the end of November and tickets for the 2020 event will go on sale in January. This year’s event will include performances from The Killers, Lana del Ray, Marshmellow and Travis Scott. EVA AIR: EVA Air added its fourth 787-10 Dreamliner, aircraft number B-17805, at the Boeing assembly factory in North Charleston, South Carolina on Oct. 7, 2019. EXPLORE: The tour operator’s 2020/21 brochures are out now with a £49pp deposit on all trips. New tours include the Icelandic Yurt Adventure, staying in a purpose-built camp close to the country’s famous Golden Circle; The Five Stans of the Silk Road; a new cycling tour of Lebanon; and The Highlights of El Salvador. GREAT RAIL JOURNEYS: The rail and river cruise operator has introduced new small group tours with a maximum of 20 guests, offering more unique and in-depth experiences such as a private tour of the Vatican before it even opens for the day. From 2020 it will also run combined rail and river cruise tours in response to demand. ISRAEL GOVERNMENT TOURIST OFFICE: Virgin Atlantic launched its daily service to Tel Aviv in September. Numbers are already up for Israel and the country is on track to break overall numbers by 10% this year, while UK visitors are up by 10% as of August. One of a plethora of hotels due to open, luxury desert camp Six Senses Shaharut will open early 2020.

All the exhibitors have been engaging and informative but I was particularly surprised when listening to Visit Orlando. I wasn’t aware at how easily accessible all the attractions are from the hotels and also how much there is for adults as well as children”

JA RESORTS & HOTELS: JA Resorts debuted its new-look JA Beach hotel in Dubai’s Jebel Ali district in September. The new fresh and modern JA Lake View Hotel opened in the same area in September. Both offer access to exceptional sports facilities including a golf course, horse stables and marina. JET2HOLIDAYS: New routes launching next summer include Preveza in Greece, giving access to Parga; the Greek island of Lefkos; Zadar, Croatia; and Tivat, Montenegro.

Michelle Reeves Designer Travel

Check out our award winners at

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10/25/19 05:24 PM


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What you tweeted... #agentstalk @_LoveCaribbean We're pleased to be one of this year's finalists for the @sellingtravmag Agents Awards. Looking forward to a great evening with travel agents. #LoveCaribbean

@StephenGrinnel Ready to meet the other finalists and our supportive London agents in the big smoke tonight. @sellingtravmag #sagatradeteam

@FabuliciousTrvl Enjoying the networking session and loving the venue!

@BoozySues Having a fab time! @ScenicEmerald amazing new ship Eclipse, wow! #visitorlando, great info.

LEGER HOLIDAYS: The tour operator offers 15-50% travel agent discounts and if there’s availability or cancellations, last-minute trips for agents to experience the product. LUX RESORTS & HOTELS: Located on north coast of Phu Quoc Island, Vietnam, LUX* Phu Quoc is set to open in 2019, offshore from the Kiên Giang Biosphere Conservation Area, a UNESCO Heritage site. MACAO GOVERNMENT TOURIST OFFICE: Phase one of the Macao Light Rail Transit (LRT) network - the Taipa LRT - is due to open in late 2019, connecting key points in Taipa and Cotai with the airport and Taipa Ferry Terminal. MANCHESTER AIRPORT: Latvian airline airBaltic will launch scheduled flights between Manchester and Riga in March 2020 and Gambia Experience will operate more flights to The Gambia this winter to meet demand, with a new direct Manchester to Banjul route launching December 16 until April 27 2020. MINOR HOTELS: Anantara Villa Padierna Palace Benahavis Marbella Resort is the first Anantara property in Spain. Based in a historic building, it’s ten minutes from Marbella, three minutes from the beach and close to three 18-hole golf courses. Meanwhile, NH Hotels’ millennial-focused Nhow brand is opening in Amsterdam in

January and NH Collection hotels recently opened in Munich and Antwerp. NEWMARKET HOLIDAYS: The tour operator has launched its summer brochures earlier than ever and increased its product ranges to include new destinations, tour-only options and the chance for customers to add beach extensions. It has also increased its date range by having many holidays for 2021 on sale. Newmarket promises price parity and permanently low deposits, so that agents can book with confidence. NORTH AMERICA TRAVEL SERVICE: NATS has partnered with Tourism Vancouver to give its UK agent partners the chance to win an Apple Watch! To be in with a chance of winning, agents need to book their clients' holiday to British Columbia with NATS before December 31,2019. The agent who books the most room nights in Vancouver will be the winner. SAGA HOLIDAYS & CRUISES: New ship Spirit of Adventure launches in August 2020 and Saga's new Discover Lebanon tour, taking in ancient Baalbeck and vibrant Beirut, is selling really well. SCENIC & EMERALD WATERWAYS: Agents can sign up to train on Scenic and Emerald Waterways’ product with Online Travel Training and can also join its incentive scheme, river rewards. Agents earn 100

Check out our award winners at

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points for every river cruise booking, 150 for every Scenic touring holiday booking and 200 points for every Scenic Eclipse booking. Points can be used to redeem a Macbook Pro, an eight-day river cruise, Beats Headphones and more. TITAN TRAVEL: The escorted tour specialist has added to its small group tours with the Wild Collection, which includes Wild Costa Rica and Wild Borneo - both offering slightly more adventurous itineraries. It's also welcomed Zimbabwe back in its portfolio, with a 14-day small group escorted tour.

Here's what you posted on social media..

TOURISM AUTHORITY OF THAILAND: To promote Mae Hong Son, the least developed part of Thailand, the TAT is offering one of five £50 Love2shop vouchers or a Thai meal. Agents must watch the Green Trails webinar ( and submit a form to be entered into the draw. TRAVELPACK: The tour operator’s Africa Product Manager, Murray Chalibamba, has 24 years of experience on the continent and even trained the guide that David Attenborough used for filming in Zimbabwe recently. Murray developed Travelpack’s Africa product based on his expert knowledge.


UNIWORLD BOUTIQUE RIVER CRUISE COLLECTION: The line has 17 ships across Asia, European and Africa but is now upgrading four of its vessels as super ships, with bigger cabins and grander dining spaces – the Mekong Jewel, La Venezia on the Po, SS Sphinx on the Nile and the Sao Gabriel on the Douro. Ships will be designed to reflect the destinations they sail in, with bespoke furniture and original artwork.


VISIT ORLANDO: Disney’s Riviera Resort is due to open December 16, 2019 complete with a rooftop restaurant overlooking both Epcot and Disney’s Hollywood Studios evening spectaculars. The resort will be on Disney's Skyliner gondola, connecting the hotel, along with three other properties, to the two parks. 


Check out our award winners at

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10/23/19 09:22 AM 11/10/2019 10:09


BEEN THERE, DONE THAT Tra i n i n g , e v e n t s a n d f a m t r i p s

A pilgrim’s passage

Agents voyaged west as they ventured to Massachusetts ahead of 2020's Plymouth 400 event, which will commemorate when pilgrims sailed from the Devon port to the New World 400 years ago. The trip was the result of an incentive fam by Delta Airlines and Virgin Atlantic, in partnership with the Massachusetts Office of Travel & Tourism. It was designed to showcase direct connections between the UK and Boston and experiences in Greater Boston, Plymouth and Provincetown. Agents enjoyed whale watching with Boston Harbor cruises and travelled to Plymouth from Provincetown on a ferry, in the footsteps of the pilgrims.

Thai delights in Khao Lak

Agents dig deep for Dubai

Cocktails at sunset was just one of many treats that these Travel Counsellors enjoyed during a recent trip to Devasom Resort Khao Lak in Thailand. During the two-night stay, agents got to test out the resort and managed to sample first-hand the spa and dining facilities, with pampering treatments and Thai cuisine.

Agents from Lincolnshire Co-Op tested their knowledge of Dubai at a sponsored quiz hosted by Dubai Tourism and Commerce Marketing and Gold Medal. Delegates from the emirate were on hand to offer a raft of insights and news about destination and the quiz resulted in goodie bag wins and other fun prizes.

Agents go green Sustainability was at the top of the agenda as five agents from Midcounties Co-operative attended a five-day fam trip to Jamaica, courtesy of The Travel Foundation and Sandals Resorts’ UK tour operator, Unique Caribbean Holidays. The itinerary took agents into 'the real Jamaica', with a See & Snorkel experience at the Whitehouse Marine Sanctuary, a visit to the Appleton Estate for rum, a Montego Bay city tour, a visit to the Harbour Street Craft Market and a tour of the Rastafari Indigenous Village. Agents also experienced the sustainabilityfocused workshops run by the two foundations.;

Have you enjoyed an interesting trade event or been on a trip or fam that you would like to see featured on this page? Email

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10/25/19 05:59 PM

Island flavours

Meet... DAMIAN NEWELL Travel Counsellor

Bright ends 2019 on a high

Alistair McLean of Dorking Travel was the winner of a a voucher for £100 dinner at a Gaucho restaurant, courtesy of Veloso Tours, at Bright’s final series of workshops in Dorking and Tunbridge Wells. The Dorking workshop was attended by 35 agents from 28 businesses, including homeworkers, and was hosted by members Kirker Holidays, Oceania Cruises, Veloso, African Pride, Cox and Kings, Sunvil, First Class Holidays, Exodus, Inside Asia and Viking Cruises. Agents raised £153 for the Children's Trust of Dorking, a figure doubled by Bright. Bright is planning 14 workshops in 2020.

FOOD FOR THE SOUL Jerk pork, West Indian steamed fish, red beans and rice, sautéed vegetables in white wine and lime juice and coconut bread and butter pudding are just some of the dishes I'm preparing as part of a cooking class at the Fairview Great House, the first French plantation in St. Kitts. As sous chef I'm under pressure to get it right! The zest of lime and kick of scotch bonnet are signature flavours in these St. Kitts-inspired dishes and linger in the air along with the telltale smell of jerk. Before long it's time to dig in and it's not a moment too soon as our fam group grow hungrier by the minute. Although I'm not a fish eater, I can't help but have a bite and before I know it I'm on my third portion. The zingy lime and hint of spice creates a delicious flavour that complements the fish perfectly. It's enough to convert me.


Global pass with flying colours

Two new members joined the Global Travel Group consortium after completing their two-week New to Travel training in Chester. Danielle Hadlow (Questor Travel) and Darren Kantor (iholiday) finished the course, which teaches those that have no experience of working in the travel industry the initial skillset needed to run a travel business – from product and consumer protection to using Global Travel Group’s iBos system and ATOL for packaging. Congratulations both!

No Caribbean feast would be complete without a dash of rum, and at the subsequent St. Kitts rum tasting we're given six flavours to try. Surrounded by beautiful botanical gardens, our hostess Doreen talks us through the distilling process and tells tales about former sugar plantations dotted around the island. She pours us samples of Shipwreck rum, an island favourite, with flavours ranging from mango, lime, vanilla and coconut to coffee and spices. Between her humorous character and generous measures of alcohol, I can honestly say It's the most fun I've had at a tasting experience and I can't resist buying a bottle of the lime rum before leaving.

at for your bookings Get cash incentives uk

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10/25/19 05:59 PM



Our columnists

It was the end of an era when Thomas Cook went into liquidation. Our columnists muse on the positives as well as what they think went wrong

Thomas Cook's 555 stores have been bought by Hays Travel

James enjoyed a break in Yorkshire

It will make travellers more aware of financial protection THOMAS Cook was an institution in the public eye and to the travel industry, having turned a corner in its relationship with the trade. It was also a huge employer, so all-inall, we were very sad to hear of its collapse. We had made a few bookings on the trade site recently and what a good system it was! But after spending a week re-booking clients, we were left equally impressed with the dedication of other tour operators in helping us find suitable alternatives – Prestige Holidays, to name just one. We also gained a few new customers who came to us for advice on re-booking, so there have been some up sides to this sad news. I emailed our clients to remind them that we are here to help and to explain our bonding through the Travel Trust Association, and have had a positive response. I hope this will highlight the necessity of booking with an agent, for our service, care, knowledge and understanding of the industry. I do fear that the press is set to undermine the benefits of agents and I'm concerned that repatriating travellers who didn’t book with ATOL protection makes a mockery of us banging on about its importance! However, I remain positive and I have a feeling that it will make travellers more aware of checking what financial protection they are being offered (100% in our case). Here's hoping it will cause a surge of new customers on our high streets, as they realise that their holidays, and hard-earned time and money, are just too precious to risk.

DOES the blame lie on the mountain of debt, the inability to move with the changing economic and social environments, the board that allowed the highly-paid executives to make serious strategic mistakes or the failure to capitalise on the most famous name in travel? Who knows, but what is clear is that Brexit was the not the cause of the downfall, just the last thing that tipped it over the cliff it had been teetering on for some years. The business clearly had committed and talented people across the board but seemed to lack clear direction from the top. It would now seem that the auditors allowed a massive intangible asset to remain on the balance sheet without being

Thomas Cook employees seemed to lack clear direction from the top depreciated as per normal guidelines. Employees and customers trust that professional advisors, board members and trade bodies are aware of and act upon best commercial practice, but all three seemed to fail to act on this occasion. Confusion followed as people who booked flight-only˛ with no ATOL cover flew back free of charge˛ (the taxpayer picking up the bill) which makes a total nonsense of ATOL. While many headed off to Japan for ABTA this year, us self-employed agents had to be content with a staycation in the Yorkshire Dales. Luckily it's just as scenic and without the lengthly 14-hour flight!



Southern Cross Travel, East Sussex

Go Cruise, Cruise specialist, Worcestershire

Anneka Desrosiers

James Hill

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Our columnists

We've happily welcomed a former TC employee to join our team THE devastating news that Thomas Cook ceased trading shocked and saddened the whole travel industry. Like many other agents, I awoke in the early hours of September 23 and started frantically trying to re-book clients with alternative options. Luckily my contingency plans worked and we managed to re-book clients that were due to travel in the next couple of weeks. However, there are still quite a few bookings to sort out and we are waiting on the edge of our seats to find out if cruise companies can offer alternative flights for their Caribbean voyages. There are still gaps to fill for flights to destinations including Cuba, the Greek islands, Las Vegas, Mexico and the Dominican Republic, but hopefully someone will fill these soon. And so the claim procedures begins… But every cloud has a silver lining and we've been lucky enough to welcome a new member of staff, Sue Cameron, (ex-TC) to our team, bringing over 30 years of experience. In other news, last week I was fortunate enough to spend some quality time with a group of friends in Ibiza, an island I last visited 30 years ago, to celebrate some 'significant' birthdays. A three-night break was enough time to explore the charm of old Ibiza Town, watch the sun set at Café Mambo and experience David Guetta’s closing party! My next mini break in November will be from Carlisle airport (just opened in July) to Belfast – a new route with Loganair which I'm looking forward to experiencing.

WELL, another one bites the dust. It’s not long since we saw the demise of Monarch, then Superbreak and now Thomas Cook. My heart goes out to all the 9,000 staff that lost their jobs in this country and 21,000 elsewhere abroad. The sudden shock of the situation must have been terrible. From what I have read, debts started mounting in 2007 with ropey accounting and over-borrowing, allegedly to blame but all that is under investigation. What's worse is that fraudsters are seizing the chance to prey on travellers. I read recently that up to 15% of claims on the Thomas Cook website are from suspicious sources and I received a call myself asking if I wanted to get a refund. That said, I'm always amazed at the way our wonderful industry rallies round when something awful happens. ABTA has been helping ex-employees with food vouchers and operators like Jet2, Gold Medal, Travelpack and Travel 2 have hosted open days for ex-TC agents looking for jobs. I do believe that out of bad, good can happen and it's great to hear about the Hays buyout. It will be interesting to see if it affects their own shops. I wish lots of good luck to the Thomas Cook staff and urge them to stay positive, and remember: "A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity, an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty." There are plenty of opportunities out there, for all of us working in the travel industry, we've just got to go out and grab them.

I'm amazed at how our industry has rallied round



The Travel Team, Brampton, Cumbria

Sandy's Travel Escapes

Liz Beaty

Sandy Murray

Our new columnist Liz, in Ibiza

Sandy at our Agents Choice Awards event in Leeds

Belfast, where Liz is going in November


What will be the new trends in travel, the popular or burgeoning destinations and the opportunities for agents?

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agents talk


S e l l i n g Tra v e l l i s t e n s

This month #agentstalk about... Get social with us:




Agents overheard

Travel Agent rants & raves This month Jenny Jackson asked: "Qantas has completed the longest non-stop passenger flight from New York to Sydney. Would you do it?"

"Client asked me to price up New Zealand for her 50th birthday. She's 46 next week..."

Jenny Jackson Founder of Luxury Travel Guru

“I've flown over 17 hours on the Perth - Heathrow flight with Qantas and would never do a flight of this length again... it was brutal!” “My body may be able to do it but think it would be my

“Customer asked: what will happen to Eastern Europe after Brexit?”

mind that would struggle... There's only so much in-flight entertainment one can take."

and £1-1.5k Economy as base fares and then specials for sale or quiet periods."

“I wonder how much they'll cost? Perhaps they'll put a little premium on top of the indirect options."

"For me it doesn't seem worth it just to save four hours."

"Man off the street tells us: 'I don’t think they’d let me on a plane, too many medical conditions.' Awkward..."

"I wouldn't have thought it was healthy to be stuck in a plane for over 19 hours solid. Everything might start to cramp up."

"A client asked how much Italy cost. What, the country?!"

"I think it will be something like £12-25k for First, £9-12K for Business, £3-5k Premium

0208 585 4020






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Package includes flights, accommodation & sightseeings.

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GET 3 FREE PERKS* WORTH UPTO £500 IN VALUE PER COUPLE *Valid on packages of 7 nights & more, Book by 25 Oct 19 17/10/2019 09:28

10/25/19 05:12 PM



on the move

MEET... Kevin Gaddes Trade Partnerships Manager, Travelopia

Describe the move from Thomas Cook to Travelopia? The process has been really smooth and exciting so far. I have enjoyed meeting all the staff and learning about our exciting products. I already feel one of the Travelopia family! What’s your new focus? To engage with new and existing trade partners and ensure we're easy to do business with and build ever-lasting relationships.




TO: Head of Sales for the UK market, A-ROSA River Cruises

TO: Director of Sales and Marketing, Fairmount Maldives

TO: Key Account Manager, Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection

This new role has been created to demonstrate A-ROSA's continued commitment to sell only via its trade partners and as a result grow river cruise sales.

Helen will spearhead the Fairmount's sales, marketing and revenue strategies. Her experience of working with clients and stakeholders will prove essential in this role.

Dawn will be responsible for the management of Uniworld 's trade partners and will build relationships with new accounts as well as visiting agents.



Why book with Travelopia? Our tailor-made multicentres offer clients a personalised experience. SAT YAN B H AL L A TO: India Sales & Product Manager, Exsus Travel

TO: Trade Sales Team Member, Heritage & Veranda Resorts

TO: Travel Trade Manager, Links Travel & Tours

Having developed a passion for India, Satyan will use his knowledge to advise agents on how to incorporate local culture and the environment into bookings.

Amy rejoins the team at Heritage & Veranda Resorts in Mauritius after a two-year gap. Working the UK's southern regions, Amy will consolidate the UK sales team.

Brian will be on the road visiting agents across the UK. He will provide onsite training and attend shows and exhibitions on behalf of the Asia specialist.

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Los Angeles • Las Vegas • Death Valley Yosemite • San Francisco & more Travel : 6 May 20



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10/25/19 05:06 PM



Vietnam and Dubai

From local pho to Ramsay’s Kitchen BY ROBERTA GORDON, SENIOR TRAVEL EXPERT, HOLIDAYSPLEASE I'm overlooking the crazy streets of Ho Chi Minh City from the rooftop bar at the Caravelle Saigon, the place where reporters used to gather at the height of the Vietnam war. It's a great place for pre-dinner drinks and sets the scene perfectly for Gold Medal’s Mega Fam as we prepare to plunge into the nation's history. Exploring the city is an adventure in itself. With a population of 8.5 million and 7.4 million registered motorbikes, the advice for crossing the road from Gold Medal’s Sales Development Manager Louisa is to keep walking, don’t stop and don't make eye contact - which actually works! A wild speedboat trip takes us to the Cu Chi tunnels, where Viet Cong soldiers once hid, and a few of our group are brave enough to venture inside. In my free time I also visit the huge War Remnants Museum, a harrowing place that documents the history of the conflict and is well worth a visit. What I really love is the warm and friendly Vietnamese people – and the food! I am now addicted to Pho, a flavoursome noodle soup, usually washed down with a Vietnamese iced coffee made with sweet condensed milk. A short flight takes us to Phu Quoc, a

Vietnamese island off the south coast of Cambodia known for its white sand beaches. Our group enjoys an afternoon of relaxation at the Sailing Club, the perfect spot for lunch and cocktails. We stay at the JW Marriott Emerald Bay, definitely a hotel for clients who want wow factor. The quirky property is based on a French university campus - they even have a chemistry section where incredible cocktails are mixed in test tubes. The rooms look out onto the beach and if customers are celebrating a special occasion, there are villas complete with private gardens and plunge pools. We make the most of the various activities on offer, including a nature hike, lantern making and paddle boarding. A trip on the world’s longest sea crossing cable car is a must here too. The last few days of the fam are spent in Dubai, at the newly-opened Caesars Resort Bluewaters, situated on its own private island. We even get to try the renowned beef wellington at Gordon Ramsay’s Hell's Kitchen, just one of the 12 dining options that the hotel and a great end to a fascinating trip.



Clockwise from top left: the JW Marriott Emerald Bay has the wow factor; lighting things up in Hoi An; on a high at Caesars Palace Bluewater Dubai; dining at Ramsay’s Hell's Kitchen; on the Saigon River; Sailing Club selfie

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An all-American event

The Visit USA Roadshow headed to Glasgow, Leeds and London last month, welcoming over 250 agents who had face-to-face meetings with 30 exhibitors – all stage managed by Jon Biggs, the former voice of Siri and The Weakest Link Tracey Spuyman, CEO Visit USA (UK), said: “It was a very successful few days with great attendance across all three cities. With 30 exhibiting members, it’s a fantastic opportunity for agents to learn more and for members to spread the word about the diverse experiences on offer in the U.S. “Our message to agents this year is to explore beyond the gateways. While the main cities are fantastic, there's a whole host of adventures waiting in every U.S. state. Something for everyone and so much, you have to visit more than once! "It’s important that agents have the confidence to persuade clients to take advantage of everything the U.S. has to offer – and events like this help build that.” Visit USA gave a warm welcome to several former Thomas Cook agents who attended the shows as independents. New exhibitors joining the Visit USA Roadshow included Universal Parks and Resorts, Santa Monica Travel and Tourism, Tennessee Tourism, Visit West Hollywood, Bradley International Airport and Experience Kissimmee. “It’s been brilliant to see so many different agents, but all are great quality and have the same mind-set – a genuine passion for selling the U.S,” said James White, representing Tennessee Tourism. He added: “There’s always more to learn! Tennessee is known for its music culture but many don’t realise it has much more, including a civil rights trail.” Carol Smith, Your Holiday Booking, said: “The speed dating is so organised – I’m here to gather as much information on the U.S. as I can. It’s been brilliant to see so many exhibitors in one room.” The Visit USA Roadshow will continue in 2020, visiting three other UK cities.

A win-win situation

Our message to agents this year is to explore beyond the gateways. There is a whole host of adventures waiting in every U.S state”

Agents had the chance to win goodie bags, with prizes donated from every exhibitor at the Visit USA Roadshow, by taking part in a computerised quiz called State of Play. There was also a grand prize awarded to one lucky agent each evening - an all-inclusive holiday to either New York, Las Vegas or Boston!


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10/25/19 06:43 PM


how to sell

Utah Year-round Utah is the ideal location for an active break, with national parks and lakes galore. But it's in winter that the state really comes to life, says April Waterston Why sell it now? Home to mountains, canyons, lakes and rivers, Utah's rolling landscape provides the perfect canvas for adventure whatever the season, and Delta Air Lines' Salt Lake City service is just about to become yearround. Starting December 20, Delta will be operating a winter flight direct into the state capital from London, just in time for the Beehive State’s ski season. And with Utah claiming to be home to 'the greatest snow on earth' - that's a significant selling hook.

Who to sell to Adrenaline junkies and active travellers will never get bored in Utah, where outdoor sports and activities are available yearround. Families may enjoy taking in the scenery on a road-trip between the state’s national parks, while travellers young and old will want to experience Utah's nightskies – the state provides one of the best views of the Milky Way in North America.

What to sell Any one of Utah’s ‘Mighty Five’ national parks, including Arches and Bryce Canyon, is perfect for activites like hiking, mountain biking and canyoneering. Combine with a trip to one of the spectacular state parks, including Antelope Island or Goblin Valley. And Natural Bridges National Monument is home to three remarkable formations carved by the force of water.


In January, fans of the movies will want to head to Park City for the much-acclaimed annual Sundance Film Festival.

When to sell In winter, Utah is best known for its 15 ski resorts including Park City Mountain, Deer Valley Resort, Alta, Sundance, and Snowbird. In the autumn, the state comes alive with striking fall colours of russet and gold. And in summer it’s easy to keep cool enjoying watersports like kayaking and paddleboarding or whitewater rafting down the Colorado River.

How to sell Combine a visit to Utah with a trip to neighbouring states like Wyoming or Colorado, sell it as a single destination for winter sports or add it to a road trip from Los Angeles to Las Vegas – the kaleidoscopic canyons of Zion National Park are less than a three-hour drive away.

What's new? Opening this winter is Park City’s new yearround action sports resort, Woodward. The centre will combine a huge indoor freestyle hall and an outdoor terrain park and tubing area, complete with chairlift. The centre is 27 miles from Salt Lake City and is planned to open November 2019. 




America As You Like It has a seven-night winter fly-drive to Utah priced from £845pp, with return flights on Delta from Heathrow to Salt Lake City, seven days' car hire, two nights in Salt Lake City, one night in Heber Valley, two nights in Springdale (Zion National Park) and two nights in Bryce Canyon. – 020 8742 8299

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

Š 2019 Delta Air Lines Inc. 10/19

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25/10/2019 11:10


middle east

A whole new

world A land of ancient riches, fascinating culture and starkly beautiful landscapes, as well as almost guaranteed sunshine, the Middle East is more popular than ever, says Adam Coulter

abu dhabi’s sheik zayed grand mosque

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middle east



ith the news that Saudi New frontiers Arabia is opening up for In September, Saudi Arabia announced tourism – hot on the heels it would issue visas for tourists from 49 of Iran – tourism to the Middle East has countries, including the UK, in a bid to suddenly become a lot more varied. diversify its economy due to dwindling oil Agents now have a huge choice, from the supplies. popular Gulf States such as Dubai and Abu Adventure travel specialist Wild Frontiers Dhabi to the lesser-known emirates such said that for many of its clients, a visit to as Ras Al Khaimah, Sharjah and Ajman or Saudi Arabia was at the top of the list. Bahrain and Qatar, all offering luxury stays “We ask our travellers every year which in the sun, and art galleries and museums country they want us to introduce next, if desired. But then there are more off-theand Saudi Arabia always appears near beaten-track countries, rich in culture and the top,” explains Wild Frontiers’ Founder history, such as Jordan, Lebanon, Israel Jonny Bealby. “The near impossibility in and Oman. obtaining visas has led to a large pent-up It’s an exciting combination of adventure demand to visit. We are delighted that it is tourism, little-known UNESCO World finally going to be possible to offer tours Heritage Sites, hilltop castles and forts, here – this news offers a rare chance to Roman ruins and insights into cultures like see behind what has been perceived as the Bedouin. one of the world’s most closed societies.” Naomi Jackson, Product Manager for A few years ago, Iran was touted as the Africa and Middle East at Explore, says: next big tourist destination, with a wealth “Travellers are really excited about Middle of extraordinary sights such as the ruined East travel right now, with its incredible cities of Persepolis and Pasargadae, history and stunning fascinating cultures. architecture and “Our new Highlights even beach resorts. “Travellers are really of Lebanon trip But heightening excited about Middle East is proving really tensions in the travel right now, with its popular, alongside area, as well as incredible history and our Jordan Discovery the cancellation fascinating cultures” trip which has been of a direct British Naomi Jackson, Product Manager for Africa selling well for a Airways flight to and Middle East, Explore while now. Tehran has led to “Lebanon is a sharp drop in UK certainly an up-and-coming destination tourists. However, a handful of operators for 2020 – the change in FCO advice at the do still offer tours there, including Intrepid, end of 2018 has led to renewed interest which offers a women’s expedition. in the country and we were the first tour operator to restart our trips there.” New product Owen Walker, Cox & Kings’ Middle East Emirate Ras Al Khaimah continues to Product Manager, adds: “We’re very cement its reputation as the adventure excited to announce that we’re adding capital of the region with the opening of Lebanon to our growing portfolio to the the Jebel Jais Zipline Tour, which features Middle East and Central Asia. seven ziplines over the cliffs and canyons “Lebanon has much to offer the curious of Jebel Jais, connected by nine platforms. foreigner in search of diverse historical The ziplines cover a distance of five and cultural sites, amazing cuisine and kilometres (ranging from 337 metres to wine and a lively, culturally diverse capital one kilometre in length) with an average to explore. It’s also the perfect destination speed of 60kmph and join the existing for both a long trip and short city-break to Jebel Jais Flight, the world’s longest zipline. explore Beirut. Explore’s new Highlights of Lebanon “If you want to miss the crowds and starts in the capital Beirut and includes hordes of tourists that you get at ruins an overnight in the grounds of a working in places such as Turkey, Jordan and monastery in the Qadisha Valley, a Israel, then Lebanon really is an excellent UNESCO World Heritage Site; visits to the alternative.” iconic Roman ruins at Baalbek; a walk

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middle east

JA Lake view hotel, dubai

“We are delighted that it’s finally going to be possible to offer tours to Saudi Arabia – this offers a rare chance to see behind what has been perceived as one of the world’s most closed societies” Jonny Bealby, Founder, Wild Frontiers

desert sands in jordan

tel aviv’s cosmopolitan beachfront

around a 1,000 year old cedar forest; and a 12th Century castle at Byblos. The JA Lake View opened this September – complete with Alexa virtual assitants in every room – joining the JA Beach Hotel and JA Palm Tree Court as JA The Resort’s third hotel. It has 348 rooms and suites, three outdoor pools, a rooftop lounge, and restaurants including Phoencia, serving modern Middle Eastern cuisine. The new hotel coincides with the reopening of the award-winning JA Beach Hotel, which was closed for renovations over the summer. Dubai is sure to grab a bigger slice of the headlines next year as it hosts Expo 2020, an event expected to attract 25 million worldwide visitors. Flagship project the 795-room Royal Atlantis Resort & Residences – dubbed ‘Atlantis 2’ by locals – is on schedule to open in around 12 months’ time. The $1.4bn megaproject sits alongside its Kerzner-owned sister property on Palm Jumeirah. Elsewhere, Cox & Kings has introduced an 11-day new private tour called Israel Family Adventure, which includes a 4WD ride through the Ramon crater, an archaeological dig to look for Roman artefacts and a cookery class with a local Israeli family. The same operator has also launched three new private tours of Jordan for 2020. The five-night Taste of Jordan tour (from £1,795pp), visits Amman, Jerash, Petra, the Dead Sea and the desert for a 4WD excursion. Nine-night Highlights of Jordan (from £2,045pp), includes both the Dead and Red seas, two days at Petra and a night in the desert. The Ancient Wonders of

Wakan al batna, Oman

Jordan & Egypt (11 nights) covers the two country’s most impressive historic sites. Ffestiniog Travel has a new nine-day tour of Jordan by rail. It takes to the tracks between Amman and Al Qatraneh on the Hejaz Railway, which was originally planned to link Constantinople with Mecca, as well as a second private steam charter from Disah on a little-used branch line. The itinerary also features visits to Jerash, the market town of Madaba, Petra, Wadi Rum and the baptism site of Bethany Beyond the Jordan, a UNESCO World Heritage site. Silversea is including Nazareth and Jerusalem in Israel on selected voyages to the Holy Land, in addition to Cyprus, Turkey, and Greece, as part of its 2021 itineraries.

Where to book it Explore – 01252 883 290 A nine-day trip to Jordan which includes the Dead Sea, Petra and Mount Nebo is £1,589pp. The price includes return flights, transfers, eight nights’ accommodation, breakfast, one lunch, two dinners (including a traditional Bedouin barbecue around a camp fire in the desert at Wadi Rum) and an Explore tour leader. Saga – 01252 883 290 A nine-day tour of Lebanon is from £1,899pp departing between May and November 2020. It includes a hike in the Qadisha Valley, a visit to the Cedars of God forest, tours of Beirut, Sidon and Byblos and a chance to sample award-winning Chateau Ksara wines. The price includes half-board accommodation and flights. 

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Alberta by ski safari For clients looking to hit the slopes there's 'snow' business quite like a trip to Alberta that takes in more than one of its world-class winter resorts, says Neal Baldwin If there's one thing that agents know about wintersports enthusiasts it’s that offering them the same pistes of the action year after year just won’t suffice. For clients looking for a ski trip of a lifetime that features more than one topquality resort, the options in Alberta – like the runs themselves – are almost endless! Here's a 'ski safari' that will see your clients fly into Calgary, ski at Nakiska, journey up to Jasper and then return to the Banff area for more action on the slopes before returning to Calgary for the flight home.


Off to a flyer Nakiska bills itself as ‘Calgary’s closest mountain’, but its lure is more than being just 45 minutes from the gateway city. Purpose-built for the 1988 Winter Olympics, there is a home-spun charm to this small resort. Competition-length runs means it is ideally suited for intermediates, while the impressive facilities also cater to beginners and families. Accommodation is in the nearby village of Kananaskis. For a real Rocky Mountain high, visit the Nordic Spa, or the Pomeroy Kananaskis Mountain Lodge, which offers a taste of sumptuous modern luxury.

Skip to the Lou Just 90 minutes away, Lake Louise makes for an action-packed next stop. Nestled inside the wilderness of Banff National Park, (and one of Banff’s 'Big 3') the resort has an wild feel despite its size and variety. There's no real central village to Lake Louise, which adds to the sense of it being a secret find. But romantic lodges and hotels dot the valley so evening entertainment is very much of the cosy-up variety. There’s lots of choice for skiers of all

BOOK IT WITH... SKI SAFARI A 14-night Alberta ski safari is from £1,639pp, including return Westjet flights from Gatwick to Calgary, SUV car hire from Avis, accommodation in Nakiska, Jasper, Lake Louise and Banff. The deal is based on a March 2 2020 departure.; 01273 224060


abilities. Once they've taken stock of the incredible views, at the top of each lift there is the choice of 'easy' or 'difficult' runs back down, but experts will also find alpine bowls and steep descents.

Wild heaven Jasper’s much-loved Marmot Basin ski resort is a three-hour drive away along the scenic Icefields Parkway – a stunning stretch of highway that carves its way through the mountains. The resort is a jewel that sits in wait at the end of the picturesque trail, with breathtaking beauty in every direction. Marmot Basin's skiable terrain is evenly split for all abilities and offers groomed runs, moguls, glades and alpine bowls. A plus point here is the general openness of the slopes and the relative lack of crowds that collect at some other North American resorts – meaning frequent free and unobstructed runs. While there is no on-mountain lodging at Marmot Basin, there's a big range of

options in nearby Jasper. The former fur trading settlement has a small-town feel in the winter and majors on authentic local experiences with dogsledding, show-shoeing and ice-skating on frozen lakes among the off-piste activities, along with walks through the frozen river rapids and waterfalls of Maligne Canyon.

Sunny side up Sunshine Mountain, Lake Louise and Mount Norquay make up Banff’s Ski Big 3 and each warrant attention but Sunshine garners much attention. Big, bold and well served, it draws skiers from across the world who revel in its variety – especially its wild backcountry terrain – and the aprés ski fun of Banff town’s bars, clubs and dining. Mount Norquay sits at the opposite end of the spectrum, revelling in its reputation as the Rockies’ best-kept secret. Here clients will find the only night skiing in Banff-Lake Louise, including a fully lit terrain park. 

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indian ocean


Shades of


The Indian Ocean’s popularity never leads to complacency, and the region is always evolving to meet ever-changing client expectations and trends. Clare Walsh points out what’s new


ith a increasing focus on climate and sustainability among UK consumers, luxury resorts across the Indian Ocean are ahead of the game and continuing to market their green credentials. Heritance Aarah in the Raa Atoll is the latest addition to the Aitken Spence Hotels portfolio and the first property in the Maldives to achieve LEED Gold certification. This award recognises the resort’s initiatives to save energy, water and resources, while at the same time

producing less waste. Having reduced its carbon and water footprint by 30% and 55% respectively, the brand say its key priority now is to ensure its resorts contribute positively to protect and preserve the environment and ecosystems they operate in. The Maldives is also drawing ecoconscious travellers. Susan Greenhorn, Commercial Manager for Arabia and the Indian Ocean at If Only, says: “Mauritius in particular has reacted exceptionally to the growth of sustainable travel. There’s a

range of new eco-friendly resorts opening up, such as SALT of Palmar in Belle Mare, which boasts its very own pesticide-free farm and provides every guest with their own reusable water bottle.” A desire for authentic experiences and cultural immersion continues to be a theme in Mauritius. Greenhorn continues: “Mauritius is catering more for adventurous travellers who want to experience its authentic side and expect a selection of activities beyond the beach.

Heritance Arrah, Maldives

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“Constance Hotels & Resorts will launch the first hotel of its new brand C Resorts in the New Year, inviting guests to release their inner child”

hilton northolme resort and spa, SEYCHELLES

“C Mauritius is such a property, designed to inject a sense of fun into every aspect of your holiday, while Attitude Hotels and Resorts offers guests the change to get involved in island life.’ Sri Lanka is predicted as a hot destination for 2020, according to luxury travel brand Abercrombie & Kent. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office recently lifted its warning against visiting, so advise clients to take advantage before numbers peak. UK nationals are able to enter the country on a visa-free basis until the end of January 2020; further incentives by the government include slashing airline charges and increasing flight numbers. As we enter the last quarter of the year,

wellness continues to grow

haritha villas, SRI LANKA, opens in December

fairmont maldives sirru fen fushi

Heritance Aarah, MALDIVES, is a green LEADER

there are plenty of new offerings across the Indian Ocean to look out for, both now and into 2020.

Maldives Early December sees the reopening of eco-resort Gili Lankanfushi following its renovation. Every piece of furniture in the new villas will be made using upcycled materials and new wellness packages such as Surf & Spa and Dive & Discover are now on offer. Recognising a growing trend towards affordable luxury, OBLU X in the Malé Atoll will open its doors in 2020. Already showcasing four five-star resorts across the Maldives, this three-star hotel signifies a break with tradition and targets a new market. Featuring 350 villas and suites, it will be its largest resort. Surrounded by a vast lagoon, Capella Maldives is set to open in 2020. Featuring 64 luxury villas and mansions on the beach or over water, its integrated design is the first of its kind in the Maldives. Features include an oceanfront destination offering immersive dining concepts, while its award-winning spa and Michelin-starred Omakase bar are further offerings. The islands continue to be considered one of the most romantic destinations on Earth and Fairmont Maldives Sirru Fen Fushi has launched a year-round Romantic Getaway package for couples and newlyweds, enabling them to stay in the resort’s intimate new Tented Jungle Villas with a private pool in the middle of the Maldivian jungle. There are also changes afoot for clients flying to the Maldives, with the introduction of a new five-times-weekly flight from London Heathrow to Male via Bahrain with Gulf Air.


R g b l

H T w

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Live, unlimited Revel in a perpetual paradise on the golden shores of Maldives, enjoying the best life has to offer, at this all-inclusive luxury resort. Heritance Aarah, Aarah Island, Raa Atoll, Maldives T: +960 6640375 | E :

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indian ocean

Meanwhile, British Airways passengers flying from London Gatwick can now look forward to a refreshed Boeing 777 fleet and new-generation economy and premium economy seats. Sell it: Inspiring Travel Company ( offers seven nights all-inclusive in an Earth Villa at OZEN by Atmosphere at Maadhoo for £4,209pp (saving £2,100) for travel between November 1 2019 and October 31 2020 if booked by December 12.


Mauritius Constance Hotels & Resorts will launch the first hotel of its new brand C Resorts in the New Year, inviting guests to release their ‘inner child’. A great option for families with older children in their teens or 20s, the resort has a party atmosphere and guests can expect juggling pool attendants and giant swings. Younger children are well catered for too – highlights include a jellyfish-shaped musical shower on the beach, kids spa treatments and eco-charm bracelets to build through their holiday. Located on the less developed southeast coast of the island, Anantara Iko Mauritius Resort and Villas opened in September 2019. Close to Blue Bay Marine Park, the resort features 164 Premier and Deluxe guest rooms, suites and villas; each with a rain shower and daybed. A further eight luxury pool villas are set to open in May 2020. Beachcomber has just launched its ‘Familymoon Experiences’ for guests travelling with children 0-17 years old. When booked on a half-board basis, families can enjoy a complimentary twocourse lunch, bottle of sparkling wine and experience such as family beach dinner, dolphin spotting or tennis lesson. Heritage C Beach Club in Mauritius has recently reopened after a four-month renovation. Highlights include its new gin bar and extensive rosé wine cellar. The club is free of charge for the guests of Heritage Le Telfair Golf & Wellness Resort, Heritage Awali Golf & Spa Resort and Heritage The Villas. The Mauritius Tourism Promotion Authority is focusing on honeymoons for the next 12 months with a new concept – The Honey and the Moon. ‘Honey’ will represent the pampering, cocktails and



fine dining, while the ‘Moon’ will represent adventure, exploration and the outdoors. The idea is to market the destination as more than just a picturesque location but one with an exciting, adventurous side. Sell it: Elegant Resorts ( offers seven nights at Constance Prince Maurice in a Junior Suite from £1,964pp with breakfast and transfers. International flights are extra.

Seychelles In addition to its 22 private beach bungalows and five beach suites, Alphonse Island is launching two new four-bedroomed villas in November 2019. Aimed at families and large parties, each villa can sleep up to eight adults and four children, and a private chef can be arranged for in-villa dining. A new free diving experience is also on offer at the resort from Blue Safari Seychelles for clients seeking underwater exploration. One of the older resorts in the Seychelles, the Hilton Northolme Resort and Spa is set to undergo an extensive refurbishment in January 2020. With plans to relaunch in March 2020, clients can expect upgraded public areas, restaurants and facilities.

“Mauritius in particular has reacted exceptionally to the growth of sustainable travel. There’s a range of new eco-friendly resorts opening up” Susan Greenhorn, If Only

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With the wellness trend showing no sign of slowing, Four Seasons Seychelles has recently appointed a Naturopathic doctor and yogi who will provide complimentary consultations to all guests and prescribe tailored spa and yoga experiences, herbal remedies and dietary and exercise advice. Meanwhile, at its Desroches Island resort, Four Seasons has just announced the launch of its Carefree Castaway offer that includes the services of an in-villa chef and private butler. This is available to all guests staying in multi-bedroom Residence Villas or in the Desroches Suite.


Sell it: Turquoise Holidays’ (turquoiseholidays. Ultimate Seychelles Itinerary is a 10day holiday combining Four Seasons on Mahe, Constance Lemuria on Praslin, Le Domaine de L’Orangeraie on La Digue and Six Senses Zil Pasyon on Felicite Island. From £5,295pp including flights and transfers.

Sri Lanka An aquatic experience awaits in 2020 with Dream Yacht Charter’s new offering. Two six-night by-the-cabin cruises will visit the south and east coasts of the island with highlights to include the UNESCO World Heritage site of Galle and whale watching.


EXPERIENCE COLOUR From exploring colourful markets and vibrant festivals, to visiting unique temples and shrines, Mauritius’ rich and diverse culture is perfect for the inquisitive traveller.

Experience colour in Mauritius

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Andy Byham, Director of Dream Yacht Charter UK, comments: “Until now yachting holidays have tended to be considered to be the preserve of wealthy travellers. We have pioneered the ‘by-the-cabin’ concept to offer affordable yacht cruises with the added convenience of having a crew to take care of all the hard work.” Jetwing Lighthouse has now completed its £1 million refurbishment, with 63 of the original rooms receiving a makeover. Keen to cement its reputation as pioneers of sustainable tourism, the property has also increased its solar energy generation and installed a biogas plant. Set to open on December 15 2019, Haritha Villas and Spa is ideal for adventurous clients, with the resort offering personalised experiences around the island such as riverboat safaris, rainforest trekking and moonstone mining. The adults-only resort also has a focus on wellness activities, with accommodation options including villas or colonial mansions. The recently opened Aprota Villas located on the eastern coast is the first luxury hotel in Arugam Bay. It targets clients that want luxury paired with exploration, citing activities such as elephant watching, surfing or discovering archaeological ruins in the local area.

JUMEIRAH VITTAVELI MALDIVES 2020 SUMMER LOVING OFFER - EXTENDED Book early for 2020 and receive an amazing: 40% OFF Room Rates PLUS Complimentary Upgrade to HB Valid for stays between now – 31 Oct 20

ADAARAN SELECT MEEDHUPPARU MALDIVES AUTUMN OFFER! Book between now and 31 Jan 20 to receive: 15% OFF Room Rates PLUS Reduced Rate for Prestige Water Villa Valid for stays between now – 30 Apr 20

Sell it: Titan Travel’s ( 12-day The Best of Sri Lanka trip includes city tours of Colombo and Galle, a Yala National Park safari, a visit to Sigiriya Rock fortress and high tea at the Colonial Hill Club, from £2,099pp with return flights. 


BEACHCOMBER HAS LAUNCHED ‘FAMILYMOON EXPERIENCES’ All above offers are subject to availability | Terms & Conditions Apply

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my journey

f o t s a o C lf u G e Th


Segways in e Gulf Stat k r Pa

d and beach, nature an ty ci of on ti na bi m co a winning lots of wonderful food d an Sally Parker discovers , re ltu cu d an y or hern hist outdoor activities, Sout


hite-sand dunes collapse satisfyingly under foot, the sun is beating down and the waves are lapping the shore. I’ve spotted bright blue crabs and a variety of sea birds. It’s so idyllic I could be in the Indian Ocean, or the Caribbean. But this is Alabama’s Gulf Coast! An intriguing sectioned-off area of beach turns out to be a turtle nest, the contents of which are expected to hatch very soon. Volunteers will listen late into the night for the tell-tale waterfall sound which is the hatchlings starting their treacherous journey to the sea, the disturbed sand falling back into the nest as they push out. With wonderful beaches like this, a state park, entertainment and shopping district, 200 restaurants and some legendry nightlife, the Gulf Shores and Orange Beach area, combined with nearby historic city Mobile, are a great choice for couples or families. Mobile was founded in 1702 by the French as the first capital of Louisiana and its history is reflected in eclectic architecture influenced by France, Britain and Spain. It only became part of the U.S. in 1813. My first breakfast is at The Ruby Slipper Café, famous for its enormous biscuits. There are 65 restaurants in four blocks, all locally owned, but Gulf seafood (oysters, blue crabs and shrimp in particular), southern specialities and French Creole seem the way to go. Wintzell’s Oyster House started selling ‘fried, stewed or nude’ oysters from a six stool bar in 1938 and now has several restaurants across Alabama. The walls are covered in the founder Oliver’s quirky sayings. Other great choices are Spot of Tea, for home-style southern cooking. Or Dauphin’s on the 34th floor of the RSA Trustmark Building, where you can enjoy fine southern dining (think fancy fried green tomatoes and Alabama shrimp remoulade) while taking in

the wonderful views across Mobile Bay. After our huge breakfast, a downtown walking tour with Bienville Bites seems like a good idea. We meander through Cathedral Square, dominated by the Cathedral Basilica of Immaculate Conception, rebuilt in 1711, past the pretty fountain in Bienville Square and along oak-lined streets, taking in historic buildings, quaint shops and restaurants. There’s very little traffic and not a chain store to be seen.

Party starter Mobile famously has the oldest Mardi Gras in the U.S., thanks to French Catholic colonial settlers who celebrated this festival from the first decade of the 18th century, and Mobile Carnival Museum tells its history. We browse the opulent crowns and sumptuous robes of kings and queens and learn that there are over 60 parading organisations in Mobile, each with its own monarch. A short hop across the bay takes us to USS ALABAMA Battleship Memorial Park, home to the 45,000-tonne WW2 legend known as the ‘Mighty A’, plus submarine USS Drum and 30 military aircraft. The USS ALABAMA was home to 2,500 servicemen and wandering the maze of passageways you get a sense of life onboard: there’s a baker’s, butcher’s, barber shop and soda fountain. The bunks are tiny and most crew had to take turns at sleeping. No lives were lost to enemy fire on the ship but an exhibit where you can look up any of the 6,000 men who

The Gulf beaches combined with Mobile or are great for couples families

Escaped from an escape room

BOOK America A IT (americaa s You Like It seven nigh has tfl including fly-drive from £1,48 a nights at ights, car hire 5pp, Mobile an Renaissance River and d State Par the Lodge at Gulf view in k S Atlanta t . We flew with Delt hores o Mobile a via Pensacola and back from , Florida

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my journey


n Orange Drinks o Beach

Lulu’s Restuaran


served onboard is moving, with photos and detailed biographies giving more personal insight. That evening a sunset boat tour with WildNative Tours gets us up close and personal with the massive cargo ships and cranes of today’s Mobile Bay and the marshland of the Mobile-Tensaw River Delta, a lush habitat close to the city, with alligators, birds and other wildlife. Five Rivers Delta Center is a great place to stop off to find out more about the area (or rent a kayak or canoe) and see some of wildlife that lives there.

Life’s a beach Just over an hour from Mobile, we arrive at The Lodge at Gulf State Park, a Hilton Hotel. This beachfront property is a leader in sustainable tourism. It has buildings designed to reduce energy and water usage and uses recycled materials, water bottle filling stations, bamboo drinking straws and cups made from biodegradable corn-based plastics. A tour with Coastal Segway Adventures is a great way to explore the park. We zip through hardwood forests, past freshwater lakes, bogs and swamps, covering 14 miles of trails in just a couple of hours. They say that seeing a dolphin is guaranteed here, but it’s still a thrill when, 10 minutes into our sunset jaunt with Cetacean Cruises, we spot our first pod. From then on it’s one big dolphin party as our guides regale us with facts and figures and point out other animals, birds of prey and flora along the intracoastal waterway. For a fun night out in Gulf Shores or Orange Beach, there are plenty of options. The first person in line at Sunliner Diner gets to sit in a Ford car, while Lulu’s on the waterfront has its own arcade and even a ropes course. Named for its position, straddling the state line, Flora-Bama is the stuff of legend. Its five stages host live music, there are several beachfront bars and something you don’t see very often - hundreds of bras hanging from the ceiling. We write our names on the wall (it’s what you do!) and try a Bushwacker, a hangover-inducing mix of rum, Kahlua, Baileys and chocolate liqueur, frozen with a small splash of something not alcoholic. Sadly, it’s the wrong time of year to see the Mullet Toss, which draws big crowds to judge who can toss their fish the furthest. I’ll just have to come back! •

Touring the streets of Mobile Three Georges Candy

Alabama’s homegrown seafood eaterie

S The US a m Alaba

Mobile Carnival Museum

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ANA, Japan’s largest 5-Star airline*, have collaborated with famed Japanese architect Kengo Kuma and British designers Acumen to create new First Class ‘THE Suite’ and Business Class ‘THE Room’, debuting on the direct daily London – Tokyo route. Inspired by Japanese heritage and British design, the new luxury cabins are each complete with a private door, large 4K monitor and specially crafted dining facilities. ‘THE Room’ also now offers double the seat width compared to previous Business Class seats, creating unrivalled space in harmony with ANA’s award winning 5-Star service — connecting you in comfort to over 50 destinations across Japan and beyond.

We Are Japan.


By passenger numbers across all Japanese carriers


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These are heady days for tourism to Japan. With tired perceptions changing and visitor numbers accelerating, the country is the long-haul star of the moment, says Steve Hartridge


I “Japan is safe, clean, efficient, reliable and with a culture so different from our own. Clients usually come back having had an experience that exceeded their expectations ” Simon King, Director, Inside Japan

am waiting for a short, sharp tap on my shoulder. I have been warned that if my posture starts to slump or it appears like I am dozing off I will receive the hit from a Kyosaku stick, administered by the monk supervising our Zazen (meditation) class. This will not be punishment as such but a gesture of encouragement on behalf of Manjushri Bodhisattva, one of the most important, iconic figures of Mahayana Buddhist art and literature. I am sitting on a small royal-blue coloured cushion (called a zafu), legs folded and facing a wooden panel. Unlike my media colleagues, I am not flexible enough to get into the half-lotus position the monk has shown us, and just 15 minutes or so into what I am told will be an hour-long session my thighs are aching and my right foot has not so much fallen asleep as slipped into a coma. I am at the Eihei-ji Temple, about an hour or so from Kanazawa in western Japan,

at one of the most significant complex of buildings devoted to the Soto Zen school of Buddhism. The monks here welcome individual guests, but this is not a stop for bus loads of tourists. There is birdsong outside and I am trying to ‘empty’ my mind and embrace the teachings of Zen, but with my hands forming a circle and lightly cradling an imaginary egg, my thoughts keep drifting to whether or not to buy the silk fan I had seen earlier in the gift shop down the road. I am aware I am a long way from attaining the physical and mental peace that is the ultimate goal of Zazen. That hit from the Kyosaku never arrives and it is a relief as I hear the clang of the bell – just 20 minutes into our session that signifies Zazen is over. Perhaps our monk has taken pity on me – as we bow and make one final cup-handed ‘Shahsu’ gesture to a statue of Manjushri Bodhisattva, he looks directly at me and flashes a smile.

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New visitors

“Customer demand is definitely on the rise. There is so much brilliant new product, especially in destinations outside of Tokyo such as Kyoto, Kanazawa, Sapporo and Nieko” Nick Hughes, Sales Director, Gold Medal/Travel 2


Introductory meditation experiences such as these are a speciality at Eihei-ji and sanctioned by the monks in advance. They are also available at Hakujukan Inn, just a short walk away from Eihei-ji Temple. Whether it is meditation and temple visits or adventure activities like rafting, cycling, hiking or bird watching, Japan has a rich line-up of attractions – as UK travellers are fast discovering. Last year 333,977 UK travellers visited the country, a 7.5% year-on-year increase on 2017 and a huge rise since 2008 when around 206,550 UK travellers visited. This trend looks set to climb further still after the country was portrayed positively during the recent Rugby World Cup (RWC) – despite the efforts of Typhoon Hagibis. And with Japan hosting next summer’s Olympic Games there should be no slowing of momentum. The Japan National Tourism Organisation (JNTO) expects this double dose in the global glare will help change outdated perceptions of the country and attract a new type of visitor. “The RWC, with up to around 400,000 people from several nations moving around the country between cities and stadiums, has shown what an accessible country Japan is. It has illustrated that things like language, cuisine and even cost no longer have to be impossible barriers to enjoying all that Japan has to offer,” says the JNTO’s Marketing and Communications Manager, Matthew Joslin. Operators are already seeing the rise in interest. Gold Medal and Travel 2 report bookings are up a combined 70% compared to last year.

“From booking dates between January and September 2019 we’ve seen an increase of 31.7% in sales to Japan,” says Nick Hughes, Sales Director at Gold Medal and Travel 2. “For Gold Medal, Tokyo is the most popular destination, followed by Kyoto and Osaka, with resorts in Kobe and Nagoya also selling well. For Travel 2, sales for Japan tours have grown by 107%.” Both Gold Medal and Travel 2 have extended their range of accommodation options, particularly properties offering traditional stays, and have expanded their number of touring options and day tours around the time of the Olympics.

Capital attractions Tokyo will feature on the majority of itineraries, because most visitors picking Japan are going for the first time. The city has enough attractions to sustain an extended stay. These range from city parks and gardens to shrines and temples, or shopping and street food. For an orientation of the city, suggest a bike tour that takes in sites such as Central Station, which sees over a million passengers a day; the Imperial Palace; Buddhist temples like Asakusa Kannon; and Shinto shrines such Meiji (look out for the stone red foxes, now the ‘guardians of commerce’, outside Shinto shrines). For an introduction to the city’s food scene, Intrepid and its partner Urban Adventures takes clients to backstreets, alleyways and local izakaya-style eateries.

Beyond Tokyo Outside of the capital the touring options are infinite – from the cherry blossoms (March to May) and a historic geisha

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Crystal_OC_SellingTravel_Ad_Oct19.qxp_Crystal_OC_SellingTravel_Ad_Oct19 09/10/2019 16:39 Page 1










Inland Sea Kyushu





East China Sea




Michael Dupont Head of Sales Tel: 07921 949469 Natalie Read Regional Sales Manager South Tel: 07896 971316

Jon Schofield Regional Sales Manager North & Scotland Tel: 07841 921533

Nan Short Representative Northern Ireland & Eire Tel: 02890 642252

Megan Saunders Trade Sales Support Executive Tel: 020 7399 7602



Deluxe Stateroom (C3 Grade)

from £4,106 per person

Deluxe Stateroom with Veranda (B3 Grade)

from £5,540 per person

Itinerary Highlights:

Hong Kong, Hualien, Ishigaki, Hososhima, Hiroshima, Kochi, Osaka (overnight), Shimizu, Tokyo (overnight). 2018


020 7399 7601

ABTA No.V8548

Fares are per person, cruise only in UK sterling based on double occupancy in the specified stateroom grade for the first two full-fare guests and include port, security and handling charges, which vary by departure. All fares, offers and itineraries are subject to change and availability and can be withdrawn at any time. Fares may fluctuate and should be used as a guide only. Prices may go up or down. You should contact us on 0207 399 7601 before booking, or visit our website The fares are available to new bookings only and are only available to UK & Eire residents. Restrictions apply. See for complete terms and conditions of all offers. (c) 2019 Crystal Cruises, Inc., Ships' registry: The Bahamas.

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Japan Japan

“On a cruise, authentic Japan is on offer without compromising on comfort, and both major and minor destinations on the ground are waking up to this” Matthew Joslin, Marketing and Communications Manager, JNTO READY FOR ZAZEN AT HAKUJUKAN INN, EIHEI-JI, WESTERN JAPAN


district in Kyoto, to Hiroshima’s historic sights and thriving food scene, Kanazawa, a city on the west coast known for its centuries-old artisan traditions, and Kenroku Gardens, one of the finest in Japan, is now connected to Tokyo by bullet train – a journey that takes passengers from the Pacific Ocean to the Sea of Japan in less than three hours. Says Inside Japan Director, Simon King: “Tokyo, Kyoto and the Mt. Fuji area are must-sees for first-time visitors but I would also add Hiroshima, both for its historic interest and for nearby Miyajima Island. In Kyoto hire a bike to get around – you’ll see so much more and it is a (mainly) flat city. “For second timers, it really depends on their interests. Art lovers will want to visit Naoshima ‘art island’, in the area west of Kyoto which encompasses the Seto Inland Sea, one of the most prominent multiisland seas in the world. “Those who like gardens will want to see Kenrokuen in Kanazawa and the Adachi Museum, near Matsue. For hiking in the countryside, suggest the Shinetsu Trail that follows the path of the Sekida Mountains.” Visitors can learn how to make soba noodles and visit one of Japan’s most beautiful original castles in Matsumoto, discover ancient shrines in Takayam and see the Great Buddha in Nara. Hakone, famous for its hot springs, is also the gateway to the Mt. Fuji region. Japan is also ‘quirky’ and very safe. Says King: “Japan is clean, efficient, reliable and with a culture so different from our own. It is also fun and people usually come back having had an experience that exceeded their expectations.” Those cultural differences are never far away. There’s the onsens (hot springs and public baths) shared by strangers in their birthday suits, toilet seats that are heated

and with a variety of vibration and water jet options, Kit-Kats that come in a multitude of favours – such as apple, green tea, grape, banana and even baked potato – and over 5.5 million vending machines dispensing all manner of drinks and snacks.

Ski, adventure & cruise With its more iconic attractions now becoming better known, the focus of the JNTO’s activities moving forward will turn to niche sectors such as ski, adventure and active travel and wellness. Japan’s snow season runs from late November to late April, with usually consistent, high-quality snow throughout the season (areas of Hokkaido got up to 20 metres last year). There’s even a term for its powder snow: ‘Ja-Pow’. Japan Airlines has a winter campaign that allows passengers to check-in their snow equipment – skis or snowboard plus boots – at no extra cost. The JNTO is planning a wide variety of collaborative campaigns with tour operators, ski operators, airlines, cruise providers and DMCs to capitalise specifically on these markets. Cruise is also a priority and with Japan being made up of over 6,000 islands and a wondrous coastline, cruising provides a good way to see off-the-beaten-track Japan, says the JNTO’s Joslin. “Cruise is a relatively new focus for us at the JNTO. On a cruise, authentic Japan is on offer without compromising on comfort,” Matthew Joslin explains. Crystal Cruises’ Crystal Endeavor, its first expedition yacht, will launch next year and has announced it will sail to Japan. The 200-passenger vessel has a spa and salon and six restaurants, including Nobu Matsuhisa’s Umi Uma.

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Japan Japan



Trade focus The JNTO is planning a series of fam trips, individual training sessions and networking opportunities for agents through events in the UK and in Japan. Next September, the JNTO will take agents and operators to the Visit Japan Travel Mart (VJTM), to meet with suppliers and tourism organisations and to get to know the country first-hand on a series of fam trips. Applications open in June 2020. New this year is the JNTO 100 Experiences handbook, pinpointing the best in experiential travel from Hokkaido in the north to Okinawa in the south, alongside a fresh version of the Time Out Japan guide, available to agents. An updated version of the JNTO agent training platform will go live next year, off the back of this year’s launch of the new Japan travel hub at

What’s new Airlines: ANA collaborated with Japanese architect Kengo Kuma and British designers Acumen to create new First Class ‘THE Suite’ and Business Class ‘THE

Room’, now featuring on its direct daily London–Tokyo route which is served by a B777-300ER. The new cabins come complete with a private door and large 4K monitors. ‘THE Room’ is double the seat width compared to previous Business Class seats. ANA also has a maximum 10,800 yen ‘ANA Experience Japan fare’ for overseas visitors. These apply to single flights anywhere in Japan. Operators: Titan has a new 19-day cruiseand-stay holiday featuring Tokyo, Nagoya, Osaka, Kyoto, Hiroshima, Nagasaki, Taiwan and Hong Kong. The Authentic Japan tour is priced from £3,999pp including the cruise on Fred. Olsen’s MV Boudicca and British Airways’ flights from Heathrow. Inghams has added two Japan Alps ski packages to its portfolio. Clients can now enjoy 10 ski areas with one life pass in Hakuba, from £1952pp. For those wanting to go off-piste, Nozawa Onsen won’t disappoint, with prices from £2,012pp. Rail: Railbookers has a new selection of rail holidays to Japan. Among them is the 14-day Best of Japan Tour which takes in Tokyo, Hakone, Takayama, Kanazawa,

Hiroshima, Kyoto and back to Tokyo. Prices start from £4,099pp.

Where to book it INSIDE JAPAN The 13-night Classic Japan tour takes in Tokyo, Kamikochi, Takayama, Osaka, Kyoto and Hakone. Experiences along the way include bathing in a hot spring bath at the foot of Mount Fuji, drinking sake with an apprentice geisha in Kyoto and seeing Tokyo from the Sumida River. On July and August departures, there’s the option to Climb Mt. Fuji. Prices start from £3,595pp. 



Out of this world skiing and snowboarding experience! With JAL, check-in your snow equipment for free as part of our generous free baggage allowance.

JAL, your 5-star airline to Japan. Snow equipment will be accepted at no charge as the 2nd piece of the free baggage allowance as long as everything is in a protective case, and does not exceed your baggage weight allowance. Promotion valid between December and April.

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9-days from



Elvis Presley’s Memphis, New Orleans & Nashville Available from Heathrow or Manchester | February 2020 - November 2021

Why Newmarket? • Market leading value with price parity • Optional and Included excursions to choose from • Earn on the total sales price! • New agent website • Downloadable posters with your agency’s logo • Complete our online training and get 15% off your own holiday! • Awesome field sales team to help with training, events and queries

For bookings, brochures, posters and more, please visit or call us on 0330 160 7999 Price correct at the time of going to print.

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Elvis Presley, © EPE, inc.

21/10/2019 09:21 15/10/2019 12:40

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10/25/19 30/07/2019 03:29 12:58 PM


ABTA R E P OR T S: Young people are going back to travel agents


C H E C K I NG OU T Glen Avon Lodge, Cape Town


S HOW R E P OR T The Travel Convention



CRUISE NEWS A-ROSA’s new E-Motion ship


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the review

Agents & cruise in vogue

New West End shows from Shearings Shearings Holidays has added six new shows to its London theatre breaks progamme, to give it a total of 15. The recently added shows are Book of Mormon, &Juliet, Hairspray, Pretty Woman, The Prince of Egypt and Mary Poppins. Shearings is taking bookings for its two-day breaks up to December 2020. They include a Saturday matinee ticket, one night’s B&B and coach travel, with prices from £139. “We wanted to make sure we were providing as much choice as possible, offering agents a go-to operator for theatre bookings,” says MD Jane Atkins. “These packages are especially good as Christmas gifts, so now is the time to start promoting them.”


The most digitally literate younger generations – Millennials and Generaton Z – are increasingly booking via travel agents rather than online. The association’s Holiday Habits Report 2019 showed that more than a third of 18 to 24 year olds used the services of a travel professional, compared with 31% last year, said ABTA. Young holidaymakers are also increasingly choosing cruise holidays according to the latest ABTA survey, which found that 28% of 18-24 years olds took a cruise in the 12 months to the end of July, up 6% year on year. The greatest growth in cruising came from youngsters, while the over 65s market grew just 2%. ABTA said the increasing diversity of cruise holidays and

Iberia customers flying from the UK to any of the airline’s 27 destinations in the Americas or Asia via Madrid can now enjoy a free stopover in the Spanish capital of up to six days. The ‘Hola Madrid’ programme also includes a range of discounted offers and deals, including at Madrid’s hotels, museums and restaurants and also on airport transfers. Clients looking to explore more of Spain benefit from 25% discounts on domestic flights with Iberia, Iberia Express or Iberia Regional/ Air Nostrum. Available on either the outward or return flight, the offer includes a free public transport card for two days and discounted car hire.

Jet2 adds popular Greek island for 2020

Sponsored content – Travelpack TM

themed trips has contributed to their rise in popularity amongst Millennials. Overall, almost nine in 10 Britons took a holiday in the 12 months up to the end of July 2019, the highest figure since 2011, and 64% took an overseas trip, up from 60% last year. What’s more, foreign holidays of at least seven nights have increased slightly to an average of 1.1 per person, up from one per person in 2018 and 0.7 in 2016. While 84% of trips are to Europe, this is down from 87% last year and ABTA said cheaper flights were fuelling demand for longhaul travel. Four-star accommodation is now the most popular, with 55% of holidaymakers choosing it.

See more of Spain with Iberia

Explore Sri Lanka with Travelpack’s seven-night Glimpses of Sri Lanka tour from £1299pp on a B&B basis. Highlights: Bandaranaike, Minneriya National Park, Kandy, Nuwara Eliya, Udawalawe, Induruwa. Travel between July 1-11 2020. To book, call 0208 585 4020 or email:

Jet2holidays is to offer flights and holidays to the Greek island of Skiathos for the first time next summer. Flights will be available from Birmingham, Manchester and Stansted from May to September. Skiathos will be the second new Greek destination for Jet2 in 2020, following the addition of Preveza. It has also announced that it will add Zadar in Croatia and Tivat in Montenegro for next year.

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the review

Win a week of Olympic luxury Agents can win seven nights at any Domes Resort with every Olympic Holidays Gold Collection booking made before November 30, 2019. Earn one competition entry for every booking made from the Olympic Holidays Gold Collection, but Domes Resort bookings earn two entries. The programme features 63 luxury hotels including seven new ones, in Cyprus, Greece and Turkey. Among the new properties is the five-star Amara Hotel in Cyprus Agents can also earn a £100pp discount on bookings for a minimum of £1,000pp by using the code SAVE 100. They must log bookings to be entered into the prize draw.

Sharm el Sheikh is back


UK tour operators are rushing to reintroduce holidays to Sharm el Sheikh after the Foreign Office lifted its four-year ban on flights to the Red Sea resort. Egypt specialist Red Sea Holidays has immediately reintroduced Sharm el Sheikh, with weekly charter flights operated by Warsaw-based Enter Air from December 22, 2019. TUI is also putting the popular resort back on sale. A spokeswoman said: “We will reintroduce Sharm el Sheikh, taking into account customer demand, and will now work closely with our hotel and airport partners so we can confirm more details in due course.”

New tours from Hayes & Jarvis Clients can roam with tigers in India or trek the jungles of Central America with Hayes & Jarvis’ new 2020 programme. Highlights include a 14-day Culinary Argentina tour, starting at £4,799pp; the new In search of the Tiger India tour to india, from £3,499pp; 14-day Birding in Ecuador itinerary from £5,299pp; and 14-night Grand Tour of South Africa including game viewing, aimed at first-timers.

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A ban on flights to Sharm was introduced in October 2015 after a bomb was smuggled onto a Russian charter flight. The Metrojet plane crashed just after take-off. The UK government said it had since been working with the Egyptian authorities to ensure the safety of flights and the Foreign Office said additional security measures are now in place. The Egyptian minister of tourism Dr Rania Al-Mashat said these include CCTV, airport security and GPSs on tour buses. She added: “We welcome the return of British tourists to Sharm el Sheikh. This announcement is a renewal of the ongoing co-operation between both nations.”


More Middle East from Cox & Kings Small group touring expert Back-Roads Touring has added Japan to its Asia programme for the first time, offering two itineraries for travel in spring and autumn next year. Its new 2020 programme also features five tours through southeast Asia, including favourites Vietnam & Cambodia Discovery and Flavours of Vietnam. The new Highlights of Japan and Gardens of Japan tours allow clients to experience the country’s heritage and spring blooms in a smallgroup setting, with BackRoads’ Asia tours capped at 18 guests. With the launch of its new brochure, the operator is also offering a 10% discount on bookings for selected dates made between now and November 27.

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10/25/19 07:10 PM


the review

Long weekends in Chernobyl Exodus Travel has added long weekends in Chernobyl, the scene of the world’s worst nuclear accident, to its new Discovery & Wildlife brochure, which includes eight new tours in total. The success of the HBO series Chernobyl earlier this year prompted Exodus to add a new weekend trip to the heart of the abandoned Exclusion Zone. The trip includes a permit allowing entry to the Nuclear Power Plant to visit the reactor hall and control room. There is also time at the end to explore Kiev. Other new tours include a Lapland Wilderness Week.

Elegant move by Marriott

Inghams has a range of discounted ski breaks, including 25% off seven nights in Grindelwald, based on three sharing a room at a five-star hotel; £200pp off a Christmas trip to Kronplatz in Italy; and £100pp off an early-season trip to St Anton in Austria.


Barbados-based luxury hotel group Elegant Hotels has been bought by Marriott International. The world’s largest hotel company will take over operations at Elegant’s seven beach hotels, mostly dotted along the island’s west Platinum Coast. Elegant’s portfolio comprises 588 rooms across the Colony Club, Tamarind, The House, Crystal Cove, Turtle Beach, Waves Hotel & Spa and Treasure Beach. Most are all-inclusive. The £100.8 million sale to

Marriott also includes its beachfront restaurant Daphnes. Marriott intends to run the properties as luxury all-inclusive hotels as part of its strategy to expand in the all-inclusive market. “There is a strong and growing consumer demand for premium and luxury properties in the allinclusive category,” said Marriott International’s CEO Arne Sorenson. Marriott will carry out renovations to the hotels and run them under one or more of its existing brands.

Trade gets behind A&K’s new escorted tours LOUISA HORTON


Trade sales for Abercrombie & Kent are up 400% year-on-year following the relaunch of its escorted tours programme, including its new, more leisurely, Immersive Journeys. One element that has proved particularly popular, says A&K, is its policy of no single supplement for the first four places on every tour. Limited to a maximum of 18 guests, escorted tours are led by A&K’s resident tour directors and feature five-star accommodation. Its best-selling tours to the trade include its nine-night Journey through Japan, eight-night Petra and Beyond, eight-night Inside Tracks in Argentina and Brazil, and the Splendours of the Golden Triangle in India.

Hiking trips to Azerbaijan, Bhutan and Dominica have been introduced for the first time by Explore. Its new 2020 programme also features a new walk in the foothills of Morocco’s High Atlas mountains and hiking in ‘hidden’ Tuscany. Tauck has introduced a new 15-day exploration of South Australia, priced from £9,550, and a new 14-day tour of New Zealand’s north and south islands, starting at £6,390, as part of its 2020 ‘Exotics’ collection. Both journeys visit lesser-known sites along with popular locations, both offering experiences available exclusively through Tauck. ABTA is urging its members to discourage clients from visiting or making donations to overseas orphanages or working as volunteers as part of its attempts to end ‘orphanages tourism’. The association has launched a taskforce, in association with Hope and Homes for Children, which warns that donations, visits and volunteer projects can fuel corrupt businesses that exploit up to eight million children worldwide for commercial gain.

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the review: cruise

Cruise Update

Family time with A-ROSA

CRUISE NEWS IN BRIEF RIVIERA Travel has added six new Azamara cruises for 2020. Featured in its new Cruise Collection, they cover the Black Sea, Mediterranean, Baltic, South African coast and Norwegian fjords. Riviera is also featuring Albatros Expeditions’ Arctic and Spitsbergen voyage and Princess Cruises’ Sea of Japan Discovery next year.

ANDY HARMER, CLIA UK & Ireland Director

Recent research conducted by CLIA found that those who book a cruise through an agent have more loyalty to cruising over those who don’t. Out of 409 customers surveyed, 96% of those who always use a travel advisor stated they will cruise again, versus 83% who never use an agent. This proves that agents are a crucial part of any great cruise holiday, as they can share their wealth of knowledge on cruise lines and destination expertise. The research was revealed during CLIA Cruise360 Malta this October. Delegates from across Europe enjoyed a fantastic three days visiting ships, exploring the popular cruise port of Valletta and networking with cruise lines. Announced at the event was our ‘new-to-cruise’ guide and workshops which aim to help agents who have just entered the world of cruise or want to increase their sales. The online guide will provide agents with key facts on the industry, including a cruise terminology glossary, a list of ships on order and key contacts at CLIA member cruise lines. The workshops will be ‘classroom style’ training. Both are part of a range of new measures by CLIA to support members new to selling cruise.



A-ROSA River Cruises has released the first rendering of the new family cabins that will debut on its new ‘E-Motion’ ship, scheduled for delivery in spring 2021. The ship, which will sail on the River Rhine, has been designed from the outset with families and multi-generational holidays in mind, says A-ROSA. Offering 28 square metres, the family cabins will sleep up to five and include a double bed, sofa bed plus two bunk beds. The family cabins will also have a play area, a shower room with two sinks, and a separate toilet. They will be in a dedicated family area, next to the kids club. Other family-friendly features

onboard include a separate children’s pool next to a large pool on the sun deck and a children’s area in the restaurant so that kids can eat with their friends if they choose. Each cabin will have a toy box filled with age-appropriate toys. The ship will also have 119 standard cabins of 21 square metres each, all of which will have a living area separated from the bedroom and spacious balconies with seating for two. There will be seven larger balcony suites which comprise 26 square metres each and are located in a separate suite area. Disabled guests can book one of two accessible-use cabins.

AMERICAN Queen Steamboat Company (AQSC), has announced that UK cruise bookings for its fourth vessel, American Countess, are now open. The newest paddlewheeler on U.S. rivers will take her inaugural voyage on April 5, 2020, sailing from New Orleans to Memphis. American Countess is represented in the UK by Light Blue Travel, offering commission on package and cruise-only bookings. INSPIRED Silliness, a puppet show inspired by The Muppets’ creator Jim Henson, will debut on Princess Cruises’ Sky Princesss shortly and Enchanted Princess in 2020.

Crystal names new expedition leader to replace David Sinclair Naturalists Boris Wise and Eva Moln Westerholm have joined Crystal Expedition Cruises as expedition leader and assistant expedition leader on Crystal Endeavor, which is due to launch next August. Wise replaces explorer David Sinclair, who was appointed as Crystal Endeavor expedition leader earlier this year. The cruise line said Sinclair is leaving the company to pursue

other interests closer to home. Wise and Westerholm, both Arctic and Antarctic explorers, will highlight to guests the history, terrain, wildlife and culture of the destinations visited on a wide variety of worldwide voyages. Depending on the itinerary, Crystal Endeavor will have up to 22 expert guides, including biologists, geologists and historians onboard.

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the review: show report


Scrum down in Japan Steve Hartridge reports from ABTA’s annual Travel Convention

easyJet will find niche with trade EasyJet Holidays plans to unveil a new website and technology in time for the peak sales period at the start of 2020. Chief Executive Gary Wilson said the tour operator will be relaunched with a high-profile marketing campaign that will include mainstream TV ads. Operating over 1,000 flights a day, easyJet already has direct relationships with hotels and is in a position to become a ‘major travel industry player’. He added that there were plans to introduce a trade portal and hold a number of ‘trade days’ to meet with agents to discuss how the operator can work effectively with travel consultants.

Real-deal packages The most retweeted comment of the Travel Convention was probably ABTA Chief Executive Mark Tanzer’s observation that Thomas Cook’s demise was “a failure of corporate finance not a failure of the travel industry” or a sign that the package holiday is “a dinosaur in a digital age”. ABTA’s own research shows that a growing number of holidaymakers are booking a package to ensure ‘a goodvalue break’. Last year 64% of Brits booking with a travel company opted for a ‘ready-made package’ and 18% opted for a ‘personalised package’.

Travel urged to be ‘brave’

SHOW SHORTS Gold Medal/Travel 2 sent 30 agents to the ABTA Convention to ‘extend their knowledge of the destination’. “We have invested heavily in our training of call centre staff so they can sell Japan with confidence,” said Nick Hughes, Sales Director. “We are expecting Japan to continue its strong run and are well placed to take advantage of the increased profile the destination has.”

With the conference tagline ‘Brave New World’ as their reference point, a succession of speakers addressed the role travel plays in climate change and the need for the industry to come together to find new, workable, long-term solutions. Delegates were told that the travel sector’s carbon imprint was ‘unsustainable’ and it had to move more urgently in response to customer demands for cleaner and more ethical holiday choices – although most speakers admitted there was no easy quick fix. ABTA Chief Executive Mark Tanzer said the long-term health of the industry would depend on how it addressed the carbon challenge. He urged the government to find funds to invest in researching technology such as new biofuels but said he would not welcome any additional taxes on flying. Tim Williamson, Customer Director at Responsible Travel, took the opposite view and called for a ‘green flying duty’. He noted that if aviation were a country it

would be the seventh largest emitter of CO2 in the world, just behind Germany. “I can’t sugar-coat this… consumers need to fly less, be charged more for those flights and pay a tax on those flights. I know these are uncomfortable truths for the travel industry,” he said. Writer and broadcaster Gabrielle Walker said global warming was “putting the planet on steroids and destroying its natural resources”, adding it is “probably already too late to save Australia’s Great Barrier Reef”. Climate change was already impacting on consumer choices as risk factors such as the likelihood of a major storm, flood or wildfires are increasingly being taken into account when choosing a holiday destination, she added. Patrick Marsden, Head of Travel for MaCher, a company that partners with brands to help them put in place responsibly sourced products, said travel companies must make meaningful changes or people will abandon them for those that are.

Growing numbers of 18-24 year olds are turning to travel professionals to book holidays, according to ABTA’s latest Holiday Habits Report. Nearly a quarter in this age group (22%) are booking in-store, up 8% since 2018. This age group is also the most likely to believe booking through a travel professional means they have a better holiday (20% versus the 14% average). Mainland Spain, the Canaries, the Balearics, Greece and Turkey are the UK’s top overseas package destinations, while France, North America and Italy come top among holidaymakers taking a variety of types of holiday, said the Holiday Habits Report. Next year’s ABTA travel Convention will take place in Marrakesh, Morocco, from October 5-7. The city at the foot of the Atlas Mountains also hosted the event in 2005.

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The Nassau Paradise Island Promotion Board is offering £20 per booking when agents log sales at Nassau Rewards. To pocket the cash, agents must book two people for a minimum of four nights on the Bahamian island, staying in any of the member properties listed as part of the rewards campaign. Agents can also brush up on their selling skills with five online training modules.


Director at Sponge Marketing



WHAT are the benefits of being a CTO member? The CTO creates opportunities to meet the trade, the media and the destinations who have an interest in the region. If you are involved in the Caribbean region in any capacity I would strongly urge you to join.


WHAT CTO activities do you get involved in? As the director of a PR agency representing the region, I contribute to the PR round table events and I always try to make the regular CTO drinks and the “Meet the Media” events.


WHAT top Caribbean tips do you have? As an active person I love the sporting opportunities Nevis has to offer. From swimming with turtles and stingrays, riding a 30k loop around the scenic island or climbing Nevis peak, this island is a top choice for a more active holiday.

The British Virgin Islands is open to visitors two years after Irma

BVI is ‘back better than ever’


SAINT LUCIA The British Virgin Islands is encouraging visitors to experience refreshed hotels and new attractions British Airways will following a two-year island-wide restoration. operate two additional direct Hotels such as Mango Bay Resort and Wyndham flights from Gatwick to Saint Lambert Beach Resort are both scheduled to reopen this Lucia from July 4 through to month after being devastated by Hurricane Irma in 2017. August 29, 2020. The additional Meanwhile, Valley Trunk Estate will reopen on December flights will take the airline’s 3 following a multi-million pound refurbishment, summer holiday schedule from Rosewood Little Dix Bay is now taking reservations from seven to nine daily flights. March 1, 2020 and Necker Island will host guests from Coinciding with this, East April 2020 after two-and-a-half-years’ reconstruction. Winds is offering a saving of In other news, this month will see the launch of Beyond 25%, plus a room upgrade when the Reef, an initiative where three disused booked by December 31, 2019 aircraft will be sunk to create a new dive for a stay between May 1 site. As well as boosting marine life, October 31, 2020. A sevendonations will also go towards night stay starts at of bers teaching local children to swim. £2,479pp, with flights. Mem will be TO and; the C ed at st y b sent Pop repre at WTM. ting e e 60 CA2 range a m gs in NONVIRGIN Atlantic is or ar alk all th ot an t e b certified to increase airlift ib r a C scuba divers to Barbados from can dive for free Manchester with a with the PADI third weekly Discover Scuba service. The new Diving Experience. flight will operate The limited time for the full winter Clients can dive in for free More demand for Barbados offer is available 2019 season. The for clients staying six nights or longer at any airline will also increase airlift from Gatwick Sandals or Beaches Resort in the Caribbean. with an eighth and ninth weekly service to Agents must book before December 7, 2019 the Caribbean island for the winter 2019 for travel before December 26, 2020. season. The additional flights are the result The three-hour programme will prepare of Barbados being among the airline’s most them for one open water dive. popular destinations.



TELL us about your company. Sponge marketing specialises in sports and active travel. From great swims, mountain biking and hiking to running and triathlon races, we help destinations attract an audience that is looking for a more than just a beach break.

miss Sign up to the CTO’s training programme at

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the review: checking out

Checking out...



THE BACKGROUND: Devasom is derived from ancient Indian – ‘Deva’ meaning angels and ‘Ashram’ meaning residence. The 69-room hotel has been open since December 2018, the sister to a propery in Hua Hin. Its design is based on the intricate art and architecture of a lost civilisation that once flourished at the site. THE LOCATION: Khao Lak is a 70 minute transfer from Phuket Airport but feels like a different world. The hotel has views over Sunset Beach on one side and natural lagoon on the other. Nearby are many laid back beach bars and restaurants. THE ROOM: The Seaside Grand Deluxe rooms are 54 square metres and feature an extra-large bed or two twin beds and partial views of the Andaman Sea from a large private balcony. There’s free tea

THE VERDICT Thailand is known as the land of smiles and the staff at Devasom really do epitomise that! Situated in a great location, near where it is all happening in Khao Lak, this is the perfect hotel to discover the delights of this relatively undiscovered part of Thailand.

and coffee, a non-alcoholic mini bar, LED satellite TV with blue ray player and film selection, free wifi and blue tooth speakers. KEY FACILITIES: Two restaurants serve Thai and Western cuisine and the beach grill offers the catch of the day. A poolside service for F&B means you never have to leave the

lounger. Private dining can also be arranged. A beautifully decorated spa has a wide choice of treatments. Activities on offer include cycling tours, cooking lessons and watersports (many free of charge), plus a gym and yoga studio.

RATES: Seaside Grand Deluxe rooms from £110 per room including breakfast.

W: E:

GLEN AVON LODGE – Constantia, Cape Town, South Africa BY JO AUSTIN

THE BACKGROUND: This familyowned five-star ‘boutique guest house’ is an ideal stay before setting off on the Garden Route or a safari. The 18th century Cape Dutch manor features 21 rooms and suites within landscaped gardens.

THE LOCATION: Situated within a quiet cul-de-sac amongst the famous vineyards of Constantia, the property is within easy reach of the highway to the city. It’s also close to beaches and Table Mountain and a short drive from the popular Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens.

THE ROOM: My first floor room was light and spacious, with its own balcony and huge modern ‘his and hers’ ensuite bathroom with luxury Beautiful Earth amenities. Wooden floors and a combination of grey, cream and blue decor gave a modern feel. There’s a seating area with flat screen TV and a minibar with cold drinks. Practical features include lots of hanging space, reading lamps, a desk and wifi. KEY FACILITIES: There are two solarheated pools amongst manicured lawns and a cosy lounge with a fireplace. Stays include a full English breakfast. Light meals and snacks are served by the pool or in-room and dinners with international flavours and home-grown vegetables are served in the dining room. W:

THE VERDICT For clients who don’t feel the need to be in the midst of the City, Glen Avon is a perfect retreat. There’s a regular shuttle bus into Cape Town but I recommend hiring a car. Attention to detail is evident in every aspect of this relaxed country house, where the friendly and capable staff emphasise a ‘feel at home’ environment. RATES: From £130 per room per night including breakfast. Dinner from £23 per guest.


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country profile


Best of the rest Bohol Many visit Bohol to see the famous chocolate hills, but spotting elusive tarsiers (tiny primates), beaches, diving and SUP tours are also good reasons to explore this little island. Luzon The largest and most populous island is home to the sprawling capital Manila, UNESCO-rated Banaue Rice Terraces and the atmospheric Spanish colonial town of Vigan. Siquijor Prepare for magic on Siquijor, which is famous for witchcraft and brimming with characters claiming the ability to cure disease. It also has miles of beaches, waterfalls and caves. Negros Rugged mountains and cool mountain resorts as well as unspoilt beaches and great diving. Dumaguete is a cosmopolitan expat hangout and Silay is famous for historic houses. Mindoro Divided by a high mountain range great for trekking, this island is most popular with divers, thanks to Apo Reef and the many dive resorts around Puerto Galera.


With around 1,000 inhabited islands, travellers will need agents to advise. Clare Walsh covers the key spots Instead of starting my trip to the Philippines on a castaway beach, I found myself canyoning at Moalboal on Cebu. Hurling myself off cliffs and down waterfalls wasn’t how I’d visualised my introduction to the country, but my adrenaline-junkie friend had other ideas. Cebu, which has an airport with good connections to cities like Hong Kong, is an excellent starting point for an islandhopping trip around the Visayas group.

ADVENTUROUS CEBU Canyoning isn’t the only jungle activity available in Cebu. Adventurers can quell their appetite with an array of walks, to Kabutongan Waterfall or Osmena Peak at sunrise. There’s also the 40C waters of Mainit hot springs in Malabauyoc, said to have healing properties. Moalboal is the capital of Cebu’s freediving and scuba scene and the famous Sardine Run takes place off Panagsama Beach, when a seemingly infinite number of hypnotic silver fish gather to shimmy through the sea and create vast shapes.

SURF & YOGA IN SIARGAO A surfers paradise in the south, Siargao was once a well-kept secret but has grown in popularity, although retained a relaxed vibe. The island hosts an annual surfing WSL pro-event but there are plenty of opportunities for beginners. Cloud 9 is the most popular place to catch a wave. Yogis will find lots of places to stretch and there’s


a huge choice of eateries and bars. Island-hopping choices from here include Guyam, Naked, Daku and Sugba Lagoon popular for SUP and kayaking enthusiasts.

PRETTY PALAWAN Alex Garland, author of The Beach, took inspiration for his mystical Thai paradise from Palawan, with its dramatic limestone cliffs and emerald lagoons. Many travellers head to the ramshackle and colourful town of El Nido, an ideal jumping-off point for the sublime islands that sprawl majestically off its tips. Coron Island features icing sugar sands, iridescent waters, technicolour sunsets and the crystal clear Lake Kayangan. Divers can feast on the carcasses of 12 war wrecks. One of the new ‘seven wonders of nature’, Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park is the world’s longest navigable underground river and a must-do.

BEACH BEAUTIFUL BORACAY BOOK IT WITH… TURQUOISE HOLIDAYS The 10-night Cebu and Bohol Explorer itinerary is from £2,140pp and suggested for lovers of nature, beach and culture. It starts with two nights at Shangri-La Mactan in Cebu before heading over to Bohol for beach time,exploring jungle, rice paddies and the Chocolate Hills. It ends with two nights in Singapore.; 01494 678 400

Once named the most beautiful island in the world, Borocay fell victim to over-tourism and was recently shut down for a period of recuperation and an intense clean up. Having reopened this year, the tourist board are attempting to woo a different type of traveller to the partygoers that led to its demise. Rules are now in place, such as no drinking on the beach, in a bid to attract more families and couples and it has placed a limit on the number of day visitors. 


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Roads well travelled

Nashville opening

Fifth + Broadway will open in downtown Nashville next year. Close to the Ryman Auditorium and the Country Music Hall of Fame, it will be a one-stop centre for shops,

HIGH NOTES ON GEORGIA MUSIC TRAIL Visitors to Georgia now have a new music route to follow. The Macon Music Trail, an online resource and directory of Macon’s local music history, current scene and tourism opportunities, taps into the city’s rich musical history and legacy. Major local artists have included Little Richard, Otis Redding and the Allman Brothers.

dining, culture and entertainment. The centrepiece will be Nashville Public Market, an open European-style food hall eatery with chef-driven outlets.

Best in Hollywood

Best Western Hotels &

Resorts has opened the upscale Best Western Premier NOHO Inn. Located in North Hollywood, the new-build hotel features 70 rooms with a large flat-screen television, microwave and mini fridge. Travellers

This year's Visit USA Roadshow made stops in Glasgow, Leeds and London where agents, including several ex-Thomas Cook employees who attended the shows as independents, met with over 30 Association members. Tracey Spuyman, CEO Visit USA (UK), said: “We had a great turnout across all three cities. The evenings offered a fantastic opportunity for agents to learn more about the diverse range of travel experiences on offer in the U.S." The exhibitors included Universal Parks and Resorts, Santa Monica Travel and Tourism, Tennessee Tourism, Visit West Hollywood, Bradley International Airport and Experience Kissimmee. “It’s been brilliant to see so many different agents, but all great quality and with the same mindset – a genuine passion for selling the U.S.,” said James White, representing Tennessee Tourism. The Visit USA Roadshow will return in 2020.

can book a room with a private balcony to enjoy the mountain views.

More of New York

Beginning March 29, 2020,

Delta and Virgin Atlantic will increase capacity between Heathrow and New York-JFK by 15%. Delta will increase its services to three daily frequencies, with Virgin Atlantic operating five, including a daytime slot from JFK-Heathrow for the first time.;

BLOG From New York's unmistakable

Empire State Building to Atlanta's Center for Civil Human Rights to stately mansions in Newport, Rhode Island, the USA is packed with places of architectural significance. Discover midcentury modern marvels and cuttingedge contemporary buildings. More Blog content at Look out for our Visit USA (UK) online Travel Update for the pick of members' news

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SPOTLIGHT ON... Lip Smacking Foodie Tours ANGIE SLOAN


UK REPRESENTATIVE What are the benefits of membership of Visit USA? We joined in September 2019, to boost our exposure amongst the trade and to participate in Visit USA's events. We hope to be at Unite USA in March 2020, to meet with tour operators. Tell us why a tour should be on every Las Vegas itinerary The Las Vegas food scene is overwhelming, even for seasoned travellers. We have taken the hassle out of trying to find the best spots or hard-to-book restaurants. Our award-winning tours visit the top restaurants on the Strip or Downtown. Every guest is a VIP, they dine on up to four signature dishes at each stop and enjoy a guided walking tour with insider information.

LOOKING FOR ATTRACTIONS AND THEATRE TICKETS? Then Check out these Visit USA UK members • Blue Man Group • Broadway Inbound • Lip Smacking Foodie Tours • Smartsave • The Leisure Pass Group

Bourbon, brews and blues Grand American Adventures 2020 brochure features new tours that include beer tasting on both the east and west coasts, a tour of a Kentucky bourbon distillery and a musical journey from New Orleans to New York. Managing Director, Richard Hanson, said: “These new tours are quite literally adding more flavours and sounds to our colourful portfolio of adventures. From backcountry jeep adventures to jazz tours in New Orleans, our goal is to continue to ensure that our clients meet with locals and really immerse themselves in undiscovered parts of the USA, as well as taking in the bucket list locations along the way.” Tour options include the eight-day Cities, Sights & Craft Beer Delights (East) tour, starting from £2,059pp. It visits New York City, Boston, Washington DC, Atlanta and Ashville.

Does Las Vegas have a thriving cuisine scene? The city's culinary scene has exploded over the last few years and is now home to some of the best restaurants in the world, from Asian fusion to Greek and Mexican to Italian. How do you engage with travel agents? We’ve created a brochure for agents that breaks down each tour. And we’re out on the road with branded cookies and brownies, training face to face.

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

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celebrity interview

Prue Leith: “Once you’ve packed, take half of it out to make room to fill with lovely things from your trip!” The Great British Bake Off judge, restaurateur, chef, author and novelist speaks to Angela Sara West about her prolific travels and culinary adventures


ell-travelled cookery queen Prue Leith enjoys a good bake-off in Berkshire. But when not filming for the hit BBC baking show, she’s on the road promoting her books and new eye wear for Ronit Furst, or her itchy feet whisk her overseas. “I’m in Scotland – where I am Chancellor of Queen Margaret University – three times a year, all over England, Ireland and Wales for food and literary festivals promoting my cookbooks or novels twice a month, and I visit Europe a couple of times annually. “Since I met my husband, John, eight years ago, we’ve been to Oman, the Far East, India, Bhutan – from where I famously tweeted the winner of ‘Bake Off’! – Latin America, Dubai for their famous Desert Literary festival, and many more places "We discovered Segways in Savannah, Georgia, which was a great way to see all the 18th-century colonial houses along streets which would have taken ages on foot.” Leith’s also journeyed to Lesotho, taken a walking trip in Transylvania, visited Uruguay after an Argentinian riding experience, cruised the Med and the Nile, and been ballooning in Turkey. She’s also relished extreme climates, with road trips through the Arizona desert, California and Utah. She says Laos (where she slept in a tribal chief’s hut) surprised her the most. Any other places that score highly in this cook’s book? “Bhutan, because it was so very different from neighbouring India. It was

very underpopulated, the people are still largely in national dress and devoted to their royal family; the Buddhist temples dominate life.” Leith describes her recent trip to Tokyo and Naoshima in Japan as “the experience of a lifetime”, which took 50 years for her to “dare visit” due to it being so different and a place where English is barely spoken. “But that is the attraction,” she adds. As a child, Leith sailed with Winston Churchill, who disembarked at Madeira. She recently visited the island’s famous Belmond Reid’s Palace, following in his footsteps. “Reid’s holds a food festival, The Art of Flavours, and we just missed it. I’ll be back!” Her time spent studying at Cordon Bleu in Paris hugely inspired her career. “France taught me that food was to be taken seriously. Everyone talked about food… something no-one did in South Africa.” Leith returns to her birthplace, Cape Town, every year. “As a child, I hated what was then called the Game Reserve (now the National Park) but now I love a safari. Best of all is Baroque in the Bush, a combination of classical music and safari, and then a braai with a lot of beer and wine,” she says. This summer saw her set sail on a river cruise along the Rhone, discovering the gastronomic heart of France and giving a demonstration for Good Housekeeping. “It was brilliant, especially considering I was in a wheelchair with a busted Achilles tendon!” Glamis Castle and Ballindolloch were

highlights of her honeymoon (second time around) aboard Belmond’s Royal Scotsman train for a grand tour of Scottish castles. And Scotland is back on the menu for Leith’s milestone 80th birthday next year. “Flyfishing on the Naver with a dozen friends. We’re also going around the west coast on the Puffer, the only remaining steampowered boat. “ So, where can we find the world’s best food? “For France, I’m out of date now. Sadly, the famous routiers where you used to get amazing food, cooked from scratch, now turn out indifferent baguettes. “But Italy and Japan, obviously; Southern India; and, surprisingly, parts of America. I had the best grilled octopus in a Greek restaurant in Atlanta, and we were knocked out by all the local breweries making really cool beer.” Her top travel tips? “Once you’ve packed, take half of it out to make room for an empty fold-up bag to fill with lovely things while you are away! I constantly bring back cooking equipment; I have a hopper pan from the Maldives, a chapati iron from India, and teppanyaki tools from Japan.” When not cooking, judging, writing or promoting, where rates highly for relaxation? “My idea of R&R is a nice beach, a hammock and a piña colada. I once risked one of those expensive Austrian medical spas that feed you hayflower tea and little else, make you eat stale biscuits, and believe in colonic irrigation. I hated it!”

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celebrity interview


PROFILE Prue Leith’s latest book, The Lost Son, published by Quercus, is out now. Her new eyewear collection, Prue by Ronit Furst, is available in independent opticians across the UK and Ireland, see: For more information, visit

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Training, competitions, events November 2019


Warner winners NEWS

Quick Quiz Are you St. Kitts Expert?

1. British Airways flies twice-weekly to St. Kitts from Gatwick TRUE / FALSE


Saga offers early booking discount

Warner Leisure Hotels is offering last minute deals for three- and four-night breaks taken before November 30, 2019. For example, agents can book a three-night weekend stay at Norton Grange Coastal Village, Isle of Wight, arriving in November, from £169pp, based on two adults sharing Standard accommodation, inclusive of the Simply Dine package. While there, guests can try their hand at archery, zorbing, fencing, shooting and walking and rugby.

2. Mt. Liamuiga is the only active volcano on St. Kitts TRUE / FALSE

Saga Experts I Modules: 8 Saga Cruises has launched seven new sailings for 2021 with a 35% discount on early bookings. Agents can book the 83-night South America: A Grand Voyage, Spirit of Discovery’s longest journey yet which takes in the Amazon, Cape Horn, Punta Arenas, Rio de Janeiro and Buenos Aires. Departing from Southampton on January 6, 2021, prices start from £17,324pp and include balcony cabins as standard, chauffeur service, all-inclusive drinks and meals, daily afternoon tea and onboard gratuities. In addition Spirit of Adventure, which launches in August 2020, makes six European voyages from January to March 2021.

Back to agents News

Find the answer at:

ABTA's latest Holiday Habits report has revealed that more Millennials and Generation Z are booking with agents than last year. The results conclude that over a third of 18-24 year olds use a travel agent, as they ''believe they have a better holiday when they use a professional'. Bookings amongst this age group are up 34%.

Immerse yourself in the beauty of The Islands of The Seychelles

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Training courses to help travel agents and advisers sell more!

Take a Thai dive

Working in partnership



A-Z of available courses

PIMALAI Resort & Spa on Koh Lanta, Thailand, has partnered with Scubafish to allow guests to dive in 12 tourist-free sites between November and December, 2019, and February to May 2020, when whale shark sightings are most frequent. This coastal area is one of the first to welcome the whale shark each dive season, offering clients the best chance of a close encounter. The 'Scuba Diving in Koh Haa' four-day, three-night package includes a choice of accommodation, daily breakfasts, one three-course A La Carte dinner, two dives and all equipment as well as the National Marine Park entry fee. Prices start at £1,088.

ABTA Alaska Aruba Amtrak Vacations Beaches Resorts Bourne Leisure Butlins Centara Hotels & Resorts Cirque de Soleile Costa Rica Elegant Hotels Essential Detail Fiji Finland Flanders Fort Myers & Sanibel Haven Hotels Hawaii


Stress-free stays with Jumeirah

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

Jumeirah Beacon I Modules: 11

Fiji takes off News

FIJI is set to reap the benefits of Finnair's new Fiji flight from London via Helsinki, launched late October. The latest route is part of a codeshare partnership between the airline and Fiji Airways and also opens up the prospect of aroundthe-world routings under Finnair’s code by using a combination of gateways in Asia and on the US West Coast.

JUMEIRAH Hotels and Resorts has rolled out a new family activity programme designed to promote stress-free holidays across its resorts. As part of the initiative, Jumeirah Vittaveli in Mauritius is offering three hours' complimentary babysitting per stay, free ice skating for the whole family, complimentary access to Kuda Koli Kids Club and the Teenage Lounge Family, plus a Beach BBQ as part of its Family Holiday Offer. Meanwhile, families staying at Jumeirah Sirus in Frankfurt get complimentary meals for children under 12, as well as free amenities and activities.

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

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destination profile


Don’t miss Deep dish pizza You either love or hate this big, gooey take on pizza. Chicagoans argue over whether Pizzeria Uno, Lou Malnati’s or Giordano’s does it best - trying to decide can be fun if you’re the former. Millennium Park Cloud Gate (aka the Bean) and the spitting video wall faces of Crown Fountain have become two of the world’s most famous pieces of public art. Enjoy mingling with the crowds. Wrigley Field This gnarled old baseball stadium has to be one of the most atmospheric places in the U.S. to watch a ball game. Behind-the-scenes tours are available for afficionados. Logan Square An emerging hip neighbourhood home to microbreweries, highlyrated sharing plates, restaurants, galleries and live performance venues. It’s on the blue line from the centre to the airport. The Chicago History Museum Telling the story of the city, including the Great Fire of 1871, the Columbian Exposition of 1893 and the notorious gangster era, this museum is at the edge of sprawling Lincoln Park.

The birthplace of the skyscraper rises from the flat Mid-West. Chicago is big on wow factor, says David Whitley Chicago brims with atmospherics – the rattling elevated trains, old school blues clubs and Tiffany glass windows – but retains an unpretentious attitude. For those who love big city energy but find New York overly intense and Los Angeles unmanageable, it hits the sweet spot. It’s not hard to draw up a list of things to do, but it’s also a city to just hang out in. Hip neighbourhoods – whether muralfilled, Latin-flavoured Pilsen; gentrifying hipsterville Wicker Park; or dining hotspot West Loop – spread out from the centre.

REACH FOR THE SKIES A big Chicago drawcard is its look. The Chicago Architecture Foundation runs several informative walking tours that point out the classics, as well as demonstrating the evolution of styles, from decorative original skyscrapers through Mies van der Rohe’s sleek, black modernist efforts to modern-day environmentally innovative show-stoppers. It also offers architecturecentric cruises along the Chicago River. The Tribune Tower, just north of the river, has chunks of World Heritage sites – including the Great Wall of China, the Parthenon and the Taj Mahal – built into its exterior walls. The Marquette Building in the city centre, meanwhile, has extraordinary Tiffany glass mosaics in the lobby. The tallest skyscrapers are the Hancock Tower and Willis Tower, both of which have observation decks at the top. The Hancock Tower is lower, but offers a better

BOOK IT WITH… AMERICA AS YOU LIKE IT A five-night break to the Windy City is from £1720pp including return international flights with United in Premium Plus from London and five nights’ accommodation at The Conrad Chicago. The hotel is located on Michigan Avenue at the heart of the city and has smart technology in all rooms. The price is based on two people sharing.; 020 8742 8299 A CHICAGO NEIGHBOURHOOD


panorama, while the Willis Tower’s glassfloored ‘Ledge’ has the bigger thrill factor. It’s not all about height, though – Prairiestyle architecture has strong Chicago links. “The Frederick C Robie House, Frank Lloyd Wright’s masterpiece, has recently been restored and added to the UNESCO World Heritage List,” says Naomi Hattori, Global Development Director, Choose Chicago.

CULTURE QUEST Not all of Chicago’s great buildings are done in local styles, though. The Art Institute – big on impressionists and modern art, with magnificent Chagall stained glass windows – is a neo-classical stunner. But it’s far from Chicago’s only big ticket cultural attraction. The Field Museum is huge, and while most people come to see the dinosaur skeletons, the other sections – particularly those on native Americans and evolution – are well presented, with story-telling panache. The American Writers’ Museum looks at those who have shaped American literature. There’s interaction too, with an area where visitors can use typewriters to add to stories created by other visitors. Chicago also as a strong theatre heritage – with the likes of the Steppenwolf Theatre putting on challenging plays and Second City legendary comedy revues. The latter was the breeding ground for the likes of Dan Ackroyd, Bill Murray and Tina Fey. Chicago is also the birthplace of the electric blues – and venerable blues clubs such as Buddy Guy’s Legends have a nearholy vibe to them. 

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the final word

the quirky side of travel Winter warmers

Almost two thirds of Brits believe a holiday abroad is the best way to banish the winter blues, according to new research from Jet2holidays' Winter Your Way quiz. More than half of us admit to going into hibernation as the days get shorter and colder, choosing to stay in and hunker down rather than go out for dinner, socialise, exercise and shop. Winter sun holidays are the most popular antidote, with 63% saying they benefit from beating the summer crowds. Festive markets, bucket-list breaks and city getaways are also a favoured way for us to fight winter fatigue, while hitting the ski slopes is another classic cure.

Street food favourites

As the foodie travel trend is proving to be no flash in the pan, My Late Deals has put together a Street Food Index of the best cities for street food obsessed travellers. Hong Kong topped the list, beating out competition from Bangkok, Ho Chi Minh City, Singapore, Mumbai, Rome, Tel Aviv, Sydney and Mexico City, with Portland rounding out the top 10.

Top 5... far-flung flights As Europe cools for the winter and the demand for long-haul destinations gathers momentum, WeSwap has mined its database to reveal the top five far-flung flights booked by UK holidaymakers... 1 2 3 4 5

USA Australia Canada New Zealand South Africa

Donkey's years

At 60 years' old, Bubbles has become the world's oldest donkey. The Hatton Adventure World resident entered the Guinness Book of World Records this month as she celebrated her big day with carrots and cake. Around 20 years older than the average donkey's lifespan, she is a staggering 180 in donkey's years.

THE DECEMBER 2019 ISSUE OF SELLING TRAVEL WILL FEATURE: Thailand • Mexico • 2020 travel trends • Australia Mediterranean • Caribbean cruising • Spanish cities • Movie-inspired holidays • CONTACT US; PLUS, ONLINE: Blogs • Features • Destination Guides • Photo Galleries • Incentives

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Be inspired by...

NATURE & WILDLIFE HOLIDAYS Sector trends • New product • Wyoming wildlife • Primates in Tanzania • Birdwatching holidays

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BACK TO BASICS From Greta Thunberg’s impassioned pleas to save the planet to Prince Harry talking climate change, there’s never been a greater focus on the natural world, and it's distilling into holidays too, says Phoebe Smith


’ll never forget the first time I saw a whale breach. Setting off along BaieSainte-Catherine, in the Canadian province of Québec, on a small inflatable speed boat, the captain had already refused to stop for a pod of dolphins, a curious seal and even a suspected beluga. That’s because – he explained while we protested – there was something bigger further out. Minutes later, the huge, 12-metre body of a humpback whale (twice the length of a standard Transit van) rose up from the deep like a tornado, water trickling down his body like a fountain, before it plunged back beneath the waves, splashing us with salty water. The entire boat erupted into child-like joy, as we applauded, hugged each other and – I'm not ashamed to admit – shed a tear or two. It was that close encounter that lead me, over the last eight years, to seek out other wildlife wonders around the world – from tracking puma in Patagonia to swimming with manta rays in the Maldives; watching rare white wallabies in Australia to boating alongside bears in Canada.

And I’m not alone. Wildlife holidays are fast becoming a runaway success. “TV shows like Blue Planet and climate activists like Greta are making everyone aware how vulnerable the wildlife on our planet actually is and people want to go and see it,” says Claire Farley, Managing Director of 2by2 Holidays. Andrew Turner, Head of Trade Sales at Intrepid Travel agrees, but thinks it’s for a slightly different reason. “As we spend most of our time indoors, it's not surprising that reconnecting with nature is a priority for many travellers.” Where the wild things are When it comes to destinations, Turner says there are a few places that should be on everyone’s radar, including Zimbabwe, one of Intrepid's fastest-growing. “For many the highlight is Hwange National Park in the west, which boasts a tremendous selection of wildlife with over 100 species of mammals and nearly 400 types of bird," he says. "The elephants of Hwange are world famous – here you'll find one of the largest

elephant populations in Africa.” Another African destination that’s seen significant growth for Intrepid is Madagascar, but the tour operator is also taking people to places they might not expect to be wildlife hot spots. Cambodia’s northeast is a new destination for Intrepid in 2020. Far from the country's usual tourist trail, it has a lot to offer in terms of wildlife. Travellers will have the chance to observe elephants in their natural habitat with a hike at the Elephant Valley Project – an initiative that puts elephants’ welfare and treatment first. Farley agrees that Africa is big business, citing Uganda for its gorillas, Tanzania for the Great Migration and South Africa for rhino. There’s also plenty of interest in Costa Rica, for its turtles, birds and rainforest wildlife. “Colombia is pretty new for most people too, with Tayrona National Park and the Amazon the places to go,” she adds. A new species of traveller? But who are the people wanting a wilder side to their trips? According to Farley

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CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT: An Asian elephant in Northern Thailand; frozen caves in Chile; a kangaroo; baobab trees in Madagascar

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Manitoba, Canada


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Selling Canada - April Issue | Full Page Ad - 297mm (depth) x 210mm (width) x 3mm (bleed) | Travel Manitoba 2019

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ABOVE: Wildebeest in Tanzania during the Great Migration

it’s a real mix. “Some only want wildlife, others want wildlife and beach. When visiting a country with lots on offer, first timers invariably want to see the sights as well as the wildlife, Machu Picchu first, then the Amazon, for example," she says. Rob Slater, Director at Safari Consultants Limited concurs, citing the importance of built-in relaxation time. “Our trips that combine a wildlife experience with some relaxation time on a beach are popular, such as Gorillas, Game Parks and Beaches,” he explains. Ethically does it… With people caring more about nature and the environment, how do you ensure you send your clients somewhere that treats the animals ethically? “We actively discourage travellers participating in any activities that exploit wild or domestic/working animals,” says Slater. “In 2014, we banned elephant rides on all our trips, and we don’t permit any

activities that allow passengers to pet or walk with wild animals, such as lion walks in South Africa. "We believe that wild animals should be viewed – with no contact or interaction – doing what they do best: living in the wild. “Agents can help customers by sharing information on how to be a wildlifefriendly traveller (available from Intrepid or World Animal Protection) and suggesting they book with an operator that has a strong stance on animal welfare.” Selling the wild Finding responsible trips to sell to customers is key, but there are a few other things to bear in mind, says Slater. “Wildlife holidays are far more complex than sight-seeing/relaxation holidays and therefore it is essential that agents understand the requirements of the client,” he says. “Budget is obviously important, but also what type of experiences the clients are

looking for, how exclusive they wish to be, how active, how adventurous, etc.” Slater says travellers should make sure to only book through specialists who have actually been to the destinations themselves, or been properly trained in them, to avoid mistakes being made that can lead to disappointing viewings. “That’s why establishing the best time of year to visit is the most important,” adds Farley. “Many people have fixed dates they can travel, so find this out first before recommending where to go as the main safari destinations all have different seasons. It’s very difficult to view wildlife in the wet season, for instance." Farley also recommends finding out if the customer has a ‘wish list’ of species and if there are any health issues or young children on the trip – in which case malaria-free areas should be advised. As travellers' desires to connect to the natural world increase, so too does the wealth of options for doing this on holiday.

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naTUre & WILdLIFe HoLIdaYS

naTUre-FoCUSed neW ProdUCT Borneo

THe aZoreS

elegant resorts has a 13-night trip (£5,615pp) including the Sepilok orangutan rehabilitation Centre, a turtle conservation workshop at Gaya Island resort and trekking ancient rainforest in danum Valley.

on artisan Travel’s four-night break (£665pp), visitors choose from a whale/dolphin watching tour or swimming with wild dolphins, learn how the volcanic islands were shaped at Lake Furnas and cycle around/kayak across the Sete Cidades crater lakes.

IndIa Taj Safaris’ ‘Walk with the Pardhis’ is a new experience for guests of the Pashan Garh lodge. Guests trek through deep ravines and thick teak forests to search for tigers and other wildlife in Panna national Park, accompanied by guides from the local Pardhi tribe.

FInLand In oulanka national Park in the far east of Finland is a land of spruce forest, scotch pines and brown bears. This five-night trip (£2,129pp) includes nature rafting, husky walks and two nights in a hide observing the bears.

BoTSWana King’s Pool is a newlyrenovated solar-powered camp from Wilderness Safaris. overlooking an oxbow lagoon in the Linyanti Wildlife reserve, bordering Chobe national Park, it is a magnet for leopards and home to the rare roan antelope and many birds including ostrich.

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Worldwide G Adventures is updating its collection of wildlife-focused tours endorsed by famous primatologist and U.N Messenger of Peace, Dr. Jane Goodall. Adventures for 2020 cover Indonesia, Botswana, Belize, the Northwest U.S., mainland Ecuador, the Arctic and Antarctic.

scotland Presitge Holidays has lots of new products: the seven-night Wildlife of the Scottish Highlands group tour with the chance to see golden eagles, seabirds and bottlenosed dolphin; the eight-night Mull: The Island of Eagles and Otters escorted group tour; and the Grant Arms Hotel, also known as ‘The Wildlife Hotel’ in Cairngorms National Park.

Canada The 13-night Whales & Bears of Vancouver Island from Families Worldwide (from £3,599 per adult and £1,899 per child) has a kayaking and camping experience spotting orcas, seals and sea lions.

Zimbabwe Titan’s 14-day Zimbabwe - The Path to the Smoke that Thunders tour (from £4,499pp) has a three-night cruise on Lake Kariba to see crocodiles, hippos, lions and black rhino, plus Victoria Falls.

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THE WILDS OF WYOMING America's Cowboy State hasn't tamed all its animal population. Laura Gelder discovers bears, bison and timeless landscapes


t the Terry Bison Ranch, a thin sleet blurs the view of the flat, green grass and speckles the bisons' immense brown bodies. Unable to melt, it looks like icing sugar on shag pile. Just days prior to my arrival in Wyoming, on May 8, the state received a huge dump of snow – nature’s way of reminding locals that she decides when spring begins. But these tough animals seem indifferent. Bison is the official state mammal of Wyoming and its unique shape – a huge, horned head curving up to a mighty hump back and sloping down to a relatively delicate posterior with slim hind legs – is the star of its state flag. But it’s also a poster child for conservation. Bison once occupied most of North

America and smothered its Great Plains. They also had great spiritual and practical importance for Native Americans. During the 19th century, European settlers killed some 50 million bison for food and sport, decimating the entire population to only a few hundred. But today, incredibly, bison numbers have risen to over 500,000. Fantastic beasts and where to find them The bison here are not free to roam the plains, but they still make an impression, standing over six feet tall, weighing more than a tonne and, if they want to, running up to 40 miles an hour. They also have very long tongues, as I discover when handfeeding them bison biscuits. It’s a nice introduction to Wyoming but I want to see

the wild ones. It doesn’t take long. Driving across the state the landscape is constantly surprising. We pass endless rolling sagebrush plains where prong horn antelopes graze delicately and mustang watch from a safe distance. As we pass into rockier areas we spy bighorn sheep perched up high. And in the Shoshone Forest we all swear we saw a bear’s face staring out amongst the poker straight lodgepole pines. Park life At first, Yellowstone feels more ethereal than majestic. The snow is still piled metres high at the side of the road and we drive through hundreds of stiff, blackened tree trunks, remnants from the 1989 wild fire which ripped through huge swathes of the

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ABOVE, CLOCKWISE FROM LEFT: The Tetons; a grazing elk; Yellowstone, still snowy in May; a grey wolf; bear spotting on the river. BELOW: Bison in Yellowstone

park. Even more otherworldly is the plumes of smoke rising from innocuous puddles, the only indicator that a super volcano that could wipe out much of the U.S lies beneath. At Old Faithful it’s hard to feel close to nature, as throngs of tourists crowd around waiting for the geyser to blow its top. But as we walk the boardwalks past bubbling, bright blue pools, we see an osprey dive into the river and watch it fly up thorough a sulphurous mist, a wriggling fish in its beak. At lunch, we must negotiate a large herd of grazing elk to get to the restaurant. The wildlife in Yellowstone is truly wild and free to roam but it doesn’t stop animals getting close to the tourists that flock here. We’re told there was once a bear who learnt he could have a lot of fun bouncing off people’s tents – not so fun for the campers though! As we drive through the park we’re told that it's Larimar Valley where most wildlife is concentrated – huge herds of bison and elk and a healthy wolf pack. Wolves are a controversial subject in Wyoming. Having been hunted out of the state they were

introduced back into Yellowstone and have thrived and even spread out, which many argue is a threat to farmers’ livelihoods. On a crisp last morning in the park we are rewarded for our 5am start by grizzly bears. Tumbling out of the car, we slide down to the snowy banks of a glassy, still river to see one lumbering, relaxed but muscular across the opposite bank. It joins another and we watch as they paw a dead bison, frozen stiff.

board a raft on the Snake River. It's fastflowing, framed by bare cottonwood trees and presents a movie strip of characters. First is a young moose, awkward looking with its gangly legs, round hooves and over-sized snout; then comical pelicans, balanced precariously on an island of driftwood; some rotund marmots scurrying along the river bank; and finally a nesting eagle - the wildest and most American of all.

Grand views Just south of America’s first and most famous national park is another, Grand Teton. It’s named after the spectacular snow-capped mountains which frame it – some lonely French trappers thought they resembled three breasts, or teats. If it’s possible, I find this park even more beautiful. The peaks constantly draw your eye against the ice blue, clear sky and I love the groves of quaking aspen – slim, silvertrunked trees whose delicate green leaves tremble in the breeze. Before heading back to civilisation we

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Monkey business in

Tanzania Seeing chimpanzees in their natural habitat and diving into one of the world’s deepest lakes made this an African journey of a lifetime for Jo Austin


igns everywhere read: “No plastic bags.” Tanzania announced a total ban on them in June and having seen snow-capped Kilimanjaro on the way in I can appreciate how pristine and fragile this country is and how important measures like this are for maintaining it. Unlike the throngs of walkers, with their backpacks and poles, I’m heading to Katavi National Park, a remote wilderness of 1,700 square miles with just three lodges. Mbali Mbali Katavi is our host for two nights, but nocturnal sounds make sure that none of us sleep through the night as elephants and other unidentifiable wildlife roam around the 12-tent camp. There’s no rhino here (the last was spotted in 1942) and tsetse flies make relaxed game spotting challenging, but we spy lion, leopard and the park’s famed pods of wallowing hippo and burrowing Nile crocodiles on the Katuma River. Next we fly west to Lake Tanganyika. Second in size to Lake Victoria, it’s the longest

freshwater lake in the world and the second deepest. Forming Tanzania’s western border with the Congo, this ancient waterhole also shares its shores with Burundi and Zambia. “Doctor Livingstone, I presume?” A motorised dhow takes us two hours south, past a coastline dotted with tiny villages. The morning’s catch of sardines glitter as they dry in the sunlight on raised wooden racks. Our captain tells us that Henry Stanley met Livingstone on these very shores after eight months of trekking through the jungle in 1871. The Mahale Mountains National Park offers one of the best opportunities to see chimpanzees in their natural habitat and is one of only two protected areas in the country. Tricky to access and costly to visit, the park is estimated to be home to around 700 chimpanzees in 14 communities. The stunning thatched lodge of Mbali Mbali Mahale sits on the lakeshore and is dwarfed by majestic mountains which rise to almost 2,500 metres. The surrounding forest has wild mango, fig, nutmeg and hardwood trees, including mahogany. With the Congo (DRC) 50km across the lake, we’re told it’s not uncommon for the Congolese to sail over and cut down these

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It is deeply humbling watching these creatures, wild yet habituated to humans

valuable trees to build with – although the National Park forbids deforestation and the killing of any animals for bush meat The next morning our guide Rani informs us that distant ‘calls’ from the mountains indicate where early morning spotters have tracked a group of chimpanzees – but we must move quickly before they move into the impenetrable valleys. Wearing walking boots and carrying a long wooden pole, we make a tricky stream crossing before the trail becomes steep. We haul ourselves up an almost vertical stony track, with the help of roots and vines. After trekking for over three hours the calls of chimpanzees suddenly fill the air. A rapid application of facemasks protective rules are strict to reduce infection from humans – is followed by an excited scramble through the spiny undergrowth to get my first glimpse of ‘sokwe mtu’. It is deeply humbling watching these creatures. Jane Goodall country It’s not long before we get to see them again, in a totally different habitat. Another two-hour dhow ride from Kigoma towards the Burundi border is Gombe National Park, Tanzania’s smallest, but home of Jane Goodall’s chimpanzee research station.

Here the terrain is less dense, the beach pebbly and the water clear, with no hippos or crocodiles. Instead there’s bush pig, mongoose, baboons, red-tailed monkeys and red colobus monkeys on the shore. Sixtus, our guide at Mbali Mbali Gombe, tells us there are three chimp communities in Gombe, numbering around 90. Visitors are limited to 30 a day in groups of no more than six and the best time to visit is September or October. Sparrow is the oldest female, born in 1958, and Gremlin is mother to twins. Within one short trek we’re lucky enough to see the chimps swinging in the trees and feeding on the ground. Dr Deus Mjungu, Director of the station tells us: “Our chimp numbers will dwindle in the next 50 years unless the gene pool is expanded – but as long as they produce one female every five years they should survive”. It’s a grave ending to our trip but an important message to take home. The details... Jo was hosted by the Tanzania Tourist Board ( who are represented in the UK by Kamageo ( She stayed with Mbali Mbali Lodges & Camps ( and flights were with Qatar Airways (

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5 BIRD WATCHING HOLIDAYS BLUE SAFARI, SEYCHELLES. This eco-camp ( is on Wizard Island in the remote Outer Islands, home to a seabird colony. Masked, brown and red-footed boobies, sooty and greater-crested terns, frigate birds, red-tailed tropicbirds and Madagascar cisticolas can all be spotted while staying in repurposed, low-impact shipping containers.

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COSTA RICA. Wildfoot Travel ( has a 14-day Birdwatching and Wildlife tour, travelling from the central highlands to the tropical rainforests at Sarapiqui then on to the northern wetlands, Caribbean lowland and Pacific coast to encounter hundreds of bird species. KWAZULU-NATAL. Visions of Africa ( has an eight-night birding holiday in the South African province. Visitors stay at Ghost Mountain Inn, for the chance to spot birds at the uMkhuze, Pongola and Manyoni game reserves, and Makakatana Bay Lodge in the iSimangaliso Wetland Park. 3 THE GAMBIA. This West African country, home to over 540 bird species, has tempted TV twitcher Chris Packham to take tours there for over a decade. He proclaims it "a top birding destination with a range of exciting species". The Gambia Experience ( offers trips with his favourite guide, Malick Suso.


FALKLAND ISLANDS. There are more than 227 bird species in this remote archipelago and 770,000 penguins - from punk-haired rockhoppers to king penguins. Falkland Island Holidays ( offers several options for bird lovers.

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Discover the Falklands

The longest established tour operator and expert DMC in the Falklands

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23 Years Running

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1 Sandals Grande St. Lucian


2 Sandals Halcyon 3 Sandals Regency La Toc

S an dals R egency La To c Golf Cl u b at San dal s Reg ency La Toc

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Mai n Po o l at Sa n d a l s G r a n d e S t. L u c i a n

S w im - up B utle r S uite s at Sandals Halcyon

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