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NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2021 • SELLINGTRAVEL.CO.UK

PILLAR OF STRENGTH The Middle East is welcoming travellers back with bucket list adventures

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Indian Ocean Middle East Bucket list 2022

STANDING BY TRAVEL AGENTS

Expedition Cruises

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Contents /

All around the world

3

Trend-watching 08 Conscious travel: How can agents build travel back 'better'? 12 Four-sight: Our agent columnists talk Christmas bookings

inside this issue

Globe-hopping 14 48 hours in: Ljubljana, Slovenia 16 Middle East: Why an escorted tour is the best way to explore the region 20 Indian Ocean: Island updates from Mauritius, Maldives, Seychelles and Sri Lanka 28 Japan: Laidback islands vs buzzing cities 32 Leading locations: Christmas markets

INDIAN OCEAN

20

Be inspired 36 Bucket list trips: How can clients make up for lost time in 2022 39 Scandinavia: Top tips on how best to see the Northern Lights 44 Top 10: Expedition cruises 46 Bright ideas: Must-do trips for 2022

MIDDLE EAST ESCORTED TOURING

JAPAN

16

28 NORTHERN LIGHTS

BUCKET LIST

39

36

Trade talk 48 ReUnite show review: A round-up of news from the Unite Indian Ocean & Middle East virtual event 49 The review: Industry updates plus Kentucky talks horses

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4 / Welcome EDITORIAL EDITORIAL DIRECTOR Steve Hartridge

ASSISTANT EDITOR Jessica Pook

November /December

Calm waters ahead

WRITERS Laura Gelder, Mark Stratton, Peter Ellegard, Charlotte Flach, Karl Cushing, Tamara Hinson

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

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

CIRCULATION MANAGER Shani Kunar

MANAGING DIRECTOR Matt Bonner

CEO Martin Steady

DESIGN & PRODUCTION DESIGNERS Caitlan Francis & Emma Norton

PRODUCTION & STUDIO MANAGER Clare Hunter

PRODUCTION ADMINISTRATOR Steve Hunter

COVER IMAGE

The end of the Siq in Petra, Jordan, with its dramatic view of Al Khazneh ("The Treasury") istockphoto.com/cinoby (PRINT) ISSN 2056-9319. © BMI PUBLISHING LTD 2021.

SELLING TRAVEL IS PUBLISHED BY BMI PUBLISHING LTD: 501 THE RESIDENCE, NO. 1 ALEXANDRA TERRACE, GUILDFORD, GU1 3DA, UK. T: 020 8649 7233 E: ENQUIRIES@BMIPUBLISHING.CO.UK BMIPUBLISHING.CO.UK • SELLINGTRAVEL.CO.UK WE ARE MEMBERS OF THE CARIBBEAN TOURISM ORGANIZATION, VISIT USA ASSOCIATION, LATA, PATA, MENATA, SATOA, THE FOREIGN AIRLINES ASSOCIATION AND THE INSTITUTE OF TRAVEL & TOURISM. WHILE EVERY EFFORT IS MADE TO ENSURE ACCURACY, BMI PUBLISHING LTD CANNOT BE HELD RESPONSIBLE FOR ANY ERRORS OR OMISSIONS. COVER IMAGE CREDIT: ISTOCK.COM/CINOBY This publication is printed on Revivew 100 Media and Revive recycled coated, recycled paper grades that are FSC® Recycled certified and Carbon Balanced.

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

A

s I write this, I am on my way back, sailing past the white cliffs of Dover which are lit by a splash of winter sunshine. I am enjoying a 'sea day' aboard the impressive Regal Princess cruise ship. This has been a short (four-day) cruise with just one port of call - in Rotterdam - but the ship sold out and is full to its current capacity of 2,800 passengers - which is 75% of it usual maximum load, reduced to ensure the gangways, lifts, restaurants, shops and common areas never feel too busy. The fact the ship is 'full' also points to the fact that confidence in cruising and to holiday Steve Hartridge EDITORIAL DIRECTOR again has almost fully returned. And, importantly, people are having a good time in the bars, theatres, retail outlets and numerous other facilities that this ship provides. In short, it almost feels as if I've taken a trip back to 2019 when no one had yet heard of 'Covid'. It feels very 'safe' too. As safe as it could possibly be. Everyone on board is double vaccinated and all guests were required to take a Covid-19 test before being allowed to board. Masks are required when moving around the ship and hand sanitizer stations are everywhere. There is no shoulder-to-shoulder jostling at the bar for a drink, or waiting in a long line for the buffet - orders are taken either via table service or the impressive technologically advanced and somewhat funky Ocean Medallion wristband, linked to an app, that all passengers wear on their wrist, belt or around their neck. It feels like travel is back - and the feeling is good. That is not to say, obviously, that there are not agents out there suffering and struggling to keep their businesses alive - there are and our four regular columnists (see page 12) discuss some of their on-going difficulties, but it's encouraging to see agent events like the Yorkshire Travel Ball going ahead and agencies such as Southern Cross Travel hosting open days to discuss future travel with clients. Talking of future travel, there's plenty to get excited about in 2022 from watching the eclipse in Australia to new expedition cruises to the Arctic - see our dedicated bucket list section for more inspiration.

With this issue Your Guide to Ajman From pristine beaches to luxurious resorts, and just a taxi ride from Dubai, there's plenty to tempt clients to the smallest emirate in the UAE. Find out more in the first ever Ajman dedicated sales training guide.

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Travel Talk /

Visit Florida

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Sovereign Luxury Travel

“We’ve missed you all and can’t wait to welcome UK travellers back in November to see our exciting new developments” Dana Young, Visit Florida

“We are updating our portfolio with exciting destinations that may be opening up soon” - Simon Garrido, Sovereign Luxury Travel sellingtravel.co.uk

sellingtravel.co.uk

West Midlands West Midlands

Fort Myers and Sanibel

“Think back to the excitement of the Olympics in Japan, we’re going to be mirroring that in Birmingham” - Becky Frall, West Midlands Growth Company sellingtravel.co.uk

“The Beaches of Fort Myers and Sanibel takes clients beyond your typical Florida destination” - Zeeshan Rashid, Sales and Marketing Manager sellingtravel.co.uk

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Trend watching

6 // New New beginnings beginnings

Antarctica

Ultimate high White Desert Antarctica has launched an epic eight-day ‘Virgin Summit’ tour for 2022. Flying into the interior of Antarctica, up to 12 explorers will go on a pioneering adventure to summit a virgin peak in the Drygalski Mountain Range in Antarctica. Guests will begin their expedition at the base of the mountains, where guides will have set up camp. After a night on the glacier, the trek into the mountains will take advantage of the 24-hours of sunlight to summit a peak where no human has stood before. For the rest of the trip guests will be treated to luxury accommodation at White Desert’s eco-camp, Whichaway, located on the edge of the Great White Continent by the Schirmacher Oasis. white-desert.com

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Trend watching New New beginnings beginnings //

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Galapagos

Private paradise Metropolitan Touring will introduce a private Galapagos itinerary for 2022. Hosted by a local guide, the trip includes a stay on Isabela Island with excursions to the active Sierra Negra Volcano and Tintoreras Islets. A light aircraft will then transport guests to Santa Cruz Island to kayak through remote bays and walk with giant tortoises. Clients will also enjoy daily excursions onboard the Sea Lion yacht. journeylatinamerica.co.uk

USA

Hit the road To celebrate the USA reopening its borders, Capital Region USA has joined forces with Vacations to America to create a new Great American Road Trip. The newly launched 14-day itinerary will cover Washington DC, Virginia and Maryland - from the Appalachian Mountains, Shenandoah National Park and the Chesapeake Bay to the monuments of Washington DC and shores of Virginia Beach. Staying in an RV, clients will have the freedom to hit the open road whilst remaining in their bubble. vacationstoamerica.com

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Trend watching

8 / Concious Conscioustravel travel

A

world of good The pandemic has revealed the power of travel, for better and for worse. Can agents use this to usher in a new era of conscious travel? Laura Gelder investigates

W

e’re more than 20 months into the pandemic and there is a mixed view of how this seismic event will affect travel in the long term. However, a recurring theme pops up in every discussion about travel trends, and that is building travel back ‘better’. The growth in conscious travel – travel that is mindful of its impact on the planet and its communities – is not a new concept, but one built around long-indicated consumer demand. At this November’s ABTA Travel Convention, the organisation’s Chief Executive, Mark Tanzer, opened the event by talking about the challenges of building back customer confidence post-Covid, saying: “Part of that confidence is the confidence to travel with a good conscience.” But according to a Travel Intelligence Report commissioned by representation company Lotus this September, there isn’t much consumer demand. Its survey showed fewer than 10% of the uk population ask for sustainable travel options, just four per cent have compensated their CO2 emissions and six per cent have chosen eco-friendly accommodation if it cost more.

Changing attitudes G Adventures’ recent research begs to differ and shows that 33% of UK travellers are more focused on travelling responsibly now than before the pandemic. “Mindsets are shifting and the pandemic

has given travellers time to rethink their travel decisions,” says the operator’s Managing Director, Brian Young. There is no denying that the travel hiatus has produced hard evidence of the negative impact travel can have on the environment. “We all saw the headlines about marine life returning to Venice and people in India seeing the Himalayas for the first time thanks to the lockdown easing pollution,” says zina Bencheikh, EMEA Managing Director for Intrepid Travel. The shutdown also highlighted the good that travel can do. Giles Hawke, CEO of Cosmos, points out: “As tourism begins again it is great to hear the responses from our local partners, who are finally seeing their livelihoods restarting. We can really see the importance of tourist money in these destinations.” Melissa Tilling, CEO of not-for-profit travel agency Charitable Travel, thinks that agents have a professional responsibility to champion conscious travel. “ultimately, it’s the customer’s decision as to how they holiday but it’s now an agent’s job to present responsible options,” she says. “It’s also a great way to demonstrate knowledge and expertise.” Intrepid’s Bencheikh agrees. “Agents are often the first point of contact for the customer so it’s important that they are primed and ready to talk about this topic in an informed and helpful way,” she says.

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seefromthesky

dan novac

10 / Conscious travel

The Maldives relies heavily on tourism

Positive points

mehmet-turgut-kirkgoz

But, as Young points out: “No one wants to feel like they are being preached to, or made to feel bad about their holiday choices.” He thinks that drawing on the positives of travel can help. “Travellers usually book an adventure based on the destination or type of holiday they want, but when they are there meeting locals and seeing the positive impact of their trip, they become more engaged with the idea of responsible travel.” Bencheikh recommends focusing on social sustainability too. “Talking to customers about how they can make sure their trip benefits local communities is a good place to start,” she says. “And using a local guide, eating in local restaurants, even hopping on public transport, are all fantastic ways to get under the skin of a destination.” If a client isn’t set on a destination, Tilling agrees with steering them to ones in the developing world, where tourism can be a significant force for good, or those that rely on it and have been decimated by Covid-19. The World Bank’s TCdata360 database

Organised homestays are helping Nepali women

G Adventures’ tours give back to the local community

Wildlife in Venice thrived during lockdown

released last year listed the Maldives out that 600 of G Adventures’ tours are as the country most reliant on tourism, audited using a ‘Ripple Score’, which shows which generates 75.1% of GDP and creates the percentage of money that goes directly 36.7% of jobs. The top 50 most dependent to locally-owned businesses. “Across all countries included many island nations in trips we average 93, meaning 93% of all the Indian Ocean, money spent on Caribbean, Pacific tours goes into “Talking to customers about the hands of local and even the how their trip could benefit people,” he adds. Mediterranean, but there’s no Agents can also local communities is a good denying the list book tours that place to start. This can be as misses out many visit isolated or simple as using a local guide” marginalised needy countries. Zina Bencheikh, Intrepid Travel

Spread the love Tilling also recommends suggesting secondary destinations to spread the benefits of tourism. “Even close to home there are less developed countries. Alongside Greece you could suggest its less-developed neighbour Albania,” she explains. “And within developed countries there are less-visited resorts or cities that could benefit from tourist money. Be bold with options and aware of where you can make a difference.” G Adventures’ Young points out that responsible travel is often equated to ‘roughing it’, but it’s important to show that this is far from the truth. Even if a client is set on visiting a developed and popular destination, bookings can still make a difference – by seeking out hotels with sustainable credentials, for example. Preferred Hotels’ Beyond Green collection, launched last year, only includes properties that meet over 50 sustainability indicators. Or book hotels that are locally owned. “Swapping large all-inclusives for small, family-run hotels doesn’t mean you won’t have a great room,” says Young. He points

communities. Intrepid Travel teamed up with Nepal’s World Wildlife Fund to create a village-run community of homestays and activities for travellers in the Madi Valley. “The project creates jobs, generates income, and empowers local people, particularly women, economically, socially and personally,” says Bencheikh.

Look for the good There are many travel companies offering less obviously sustainable product but supporting charities, championing causes or making an effort to be more sustainable. Indeed, agents can always offer the chance to donate to a charity with each booking. Tilling points out that The Charitable Travel Fund helps tourism communities in need, with money currently going to places like Cambodia, where Covid-19 caused a 99% decline in international tourism. Cosmos recently launched its Lighthouse Project, focused on ensuring holidays have a positive impact on people, the planet and places. Hawke summarises with a quote: “Nobody made a greater mistake than he who did nothing because he could only do a little.” •

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Trend watching Travel talk /

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“Several of our hotels and attractions can now accommodate families with children on the autism spectrum” Dana Young, CEO of Visit Florida In the first six months of 2021, we saw visitation levels rise 6% above 2019, which was a record year for us. That same year 1.5 million Brits visited the state, accounting for 29% of the market share. We know there is tremendous demand for the US and I think we will see a lot of Brits who have been saving their money return to Florida in November and December. Let clients know there is more to Florida

than theme parks and beaches. We offer the widest range of holiday experiences of anywhere on earth. As a sixth generation Floridian, I highly recommend our nature experiences, such as taking an airboat ride in Simi, just south of Orlando, or, swimming with manatees in Crystal River, just an hour north of Tampa International Airport.

Looking ahead There’s so much new product with highlights including a Jurassic Park themed roller coaster at Universal, and a Star Wars immersive hotel at Disneyland.

A big focus for us at the moment is accessibility. We will be building an extensive list of accessible travel opportunities, that goes beyond just people with mobility issues. Several of our hotels and attractions can now accommodate families with children on the autism spectrum. In other news, Visit Florida will host several fams over the coming months, in addition to doubling down on training. We’ve been very involved in virtual training during the pandemic and we will continue to do so as it has allowed us to reach a much wider group of travel agents. visitflorida.com

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Trend watching

12 / Four-sight

Dreaming of a Christmas miracle It’s the most wonderful time of the year, but will this ring true for our agent columnists who are hoping for the gift of a Christmas booking rush

Agents at The Yorkshire Travel Ball

Canada is popular this ski season

We need to avoid just being an advice line for new clients At last we can breathe a sigh of relief. Restrictions are easing, clients are finally departing on holidays, and we are making NEW BOOKINGS! We’re embracing being busier as much as possible. Last week we held an open day for clients, where we enjoyed a glass of wine together and talked about future holidays. In the last fortnight, we’ve made a few winter sun bookings to the Canaries and Madeira. We’ve got new customers coming through our doors as well as our loyal database of travellers. So many are saying “I normally book my own trips, but it feels safer to book with an agent.” Cue a mental high five between me, Liz and Trevor! The tricky thing now is to avoid becoming an advice line before a new client has committed to a booking. We’re keen to go the extra mile, but are equally aware we can’t work for free any longer. I still haven’t made it abroad but my husband went to Canada and I helped him with the testing and forms. He had great feedback on the airport experience, so we can pass that on to our clients. It’s definitely my turn next though! Maybe Christmas and the New Year will prove to be a new kind of peak season for all of us.

THE FAMILY BUSINESS

Anneka Desrosiers

Southern Cross Travel, East Sussex

For many in the travel trade, cash flow is still tight and life is very tough. Bookings made for 2022 are not going to bring positive income for months. And yet the Travel Awards season returned in the autumn with a bang. Operators – many of whom have been very difficult to contact – appeared to have plenty of money to burn on free invites, hotel stays and copious drinks. The travel sector has been pleading for financial support from Government for months without success, but it certainly doesn’t help that cause when pockets are seen to be bulging with cash for fancy London events.

Fancy London events don’t help our cause for financial support After the disappointment of last year, demand for “Christmas away” is high, with families wanting to be looked after. For those still struggling, bookings for this winter not only boost morale but also offer the prospect of immediate commission and some rare positive cash flow. The relaxation of travel restrictions has been a massive help, especially now that post-travel commercial testing has been exposed as the money-making farce it was allowed to become.

THE CRUISE SPECIALIST

James Hill

Go Cruise, Cruise specialist, Worcestershire

SELLINGTRAVEL.CO.UK

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` The relaxation of travel restrictions is a blessing ´´ Ski holidays to Bulgaria and Canada are proving popular Since my last column I’ve managed to have weekends in Jersey and in Malta – despite the online forms and testing, I do think it’s worth the extra paperwork to get away. Travelling myself has helped reassure clients and also offers first-hand experience of how the system works. More recently, we helped lots of families to get away over the October half-term. Unfortunately, a few caught Covid and had to cancel, which highlights how essential it is to remind clients to get travel insurance that covers for Covid! We are seeing a lot of interest for ski holidays but prices do seem to have increased considerably in many European resorts. Customers are booking Bulgaria and Canada, which offer good value. Every other phone call at the minute is asking about testing and requirements, not just from our customers but from people who just call to “ask for advice”. It can get tiresome but if they want to pick our brains then it shows the confidence that people have in travel agents and confirms that we offer such an important service, so we are continuing to grin and bear the endless questions with a smile.

I can’t believe we actually managed to host the Yorkshire Travel Ball this year. Everyone had a fantastic time and the band Groovething were excellent. A big thank you to Jet2 for sponsoring them and the pre-dinner drinks and to Classic Collection for its ‘Magic Mirror’. Most importantly, we managed to raise £5,000 for animal charities: Greek Cat Welfare, Starlight Barking & Hull Greyhound Rescue, Trunks Up – a wonderful elephant charity – Brook Horses & Donkeys and the PDSA vet charity. Put July 21, 2022 in your diaries for the 24th Yorkshire Travel Ball. I think the mix of information coming from the Government continues to make people nervous about booking a holiday. Bookings seem to be slower for Christmas and I’ve not seen a huge interest yet in Christmas Markets. The Government certainly doesn’t seem to be taking the travel industry into consideration –let’s hope ABTA keeps battling to educate them. In other news, I have had my Covid booster and I must say I’m always impressed with how efficient the vaccination centres are. Stay safe everyone and all paws crossed for a Christmas rush.

Christmas bookings are slow, with little interest for the festive markets

THE HIGH STREET AGENCY

Liz Beaty

THE HOME WORKER

Sandy Murray

The Travel Team Brampton, Cumbria

Anneka’s Open Day with clients

Christmas away is in demand, says James Next issue: Will 2022 be another year of staycations or are clients looking to holiday abroad?

Sandy's Travel Escapes

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Globe hopping

14 / 48 hours in...

Take a chance on

Ljubljana Slovenia’s ‘green’ capital has never been so on-trend. Here Karl Cushing offers some ideas for a short visit

Day 1: Old town charm Morning: My first stop is Prešeren Square, impressive art nouveau buildings stretching up Miklošičeva Street. Compact and classy, the two sides of the traffic-free old town fan out from the narrow river, served by crossings such as Dragon, Butchers’ and Triple Bridge. Tourist boats lazily ply the river as unhurried visitors and locals throng the café bars and restaurants lining the pavement and riverbanks, the cobbled streets and scenic squares adding to the tranquil air. Afternoon: The riverside market makes for an easy first lunch spot, from affordable Moji Struklji and Kodila Gourmet to fish restaurant Most. Grazing

the excellent, adjacent central market, and Pokrita Trznica building, is another. While closed on Sundays, there’s a riverside flea market on Breg Embankment, which also hosts the Christmas Market. Continue up Stari Trg street, eating, drinking and buying gifts, from Rpgaska crystalware to honey. Evening: Enjoy a pre-dinner stroll, or funicular ride, to the squat castle overlooking the city. The sunsets are wonderful, not least from the bar outside the walls. Afterwards, consider dinner in the castle’s excellent restaurant, or choose a Stari Trg stalwart such as Valvas’or. For wine or cocktails try Movia and Kolibrifor or for riverside beers consider Lajbah or Premier.

The old town is traffic-free

Book it with... Inghams Inghams has a three-night B&B basis break for two, staying at Ljubljana’s 3.5-star City Hotel, from £618pp for an August 3, 2022 departure, including flights from Heathrow to Ljubljana Airport and transfers. inghams.co.uk

sunset from the walls of squat castle

Day 2: Peddle or paddle Leafy cityscape views

paddling ljublijana’s waterways

Morning: Spread your wings beyond the old town with breakfast at a popular spot such as Le Petit Café before visiting Plečnik House museum, and possibly the Roman wall remnants, too. Next, stroll or pedal, using rental bikes or the city’s BicikeLJ scheme, to riverside Park Špica. SUP and kayaking are good options here, as are the Botanical Gardens. Venturing back towards the old town, grab lunch at an excellent riverside eatery such as Manna or Monstera Bistro. Or join one of the myriad food & wine tours. Afternoon: Walk off some calories in Tivoli Park, Ljubljana’s pre-eminent green space, later choosing among the

cultural institutions that cluster nearby, such as the National Gallery. Afterwards, ascend the nearby ‘Skyscraper’ while snapping unrivalled city views. For longer walks or pedals, consider exploring Ljubljana Marshes, or take the 35km, city-encircling Path of Remembrance and Comradeship. Evening: Follow with dinner at another excellent local eatery, the affordable Figovec being one favourite, with some culture, from ‘alternative’ Metelkova Art Center to a performance at Ljubljana Opera House. Or simply keep eating and drinking in the old town, ticking off the endless dragon motifs as you go, this being a city for dreamers and romantics after all. •

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Globe hopping Six of the best... /

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Scenic Vistas in

North Dakota With panoramic views stretching as far as the eye can see, North Dakota is anything but flat. Here are six of the best, and most inspiring, vantage points

White Horse Hill Home to the Spirit Lake Tribe, the White Horse Hill nature reserve sits on the shores of Devil’s Lake in Benson County. The park was renamed in 2019 by an act of Congress, to honour its sacred meaning to its indigenous inhabitants. The reservation’s rolling grass prairie, sprawling marshes and wooded hills are also home to an array of wildlife such as bison, elk, white-tailed deer and a colony of prairie dogs.

Riverbend Overlook A solitary stone structure provides shelter from the elements at Riverbend Overlook in the North Unit of Theodore Roosevelt National Park. Built in around 1937 by the Civilian Conservation Corps, this outpost stands overlooking the sublime landscape of the Little Missouri River valley below. It is just one example of the projects created by the CCC on land that would eventually become part of the national park.

Fort Abraham Lincoln The riverbanks of the Heart and Missouri river offer the perfect terrain for horse riding, hiking and biking. Once the home of the Mandan Native Americans, reconstructed earthlodges tell the story of these tribesmen. Meanwhile, the barracks of old Fort Abraham Lincoln and Fort McKeen reveal life as a frontier soldier, as guests participate in a living history tour of the commanding officer’s quarters.

Boicourt Trail According to Roosevelt, the Little Missouri Badlands are “a land of vast and silent spaces.” When glimpsed from Boicourt Overlook the landscape seems to stretch out infinitely, with views reaching beyond the boundaries of Theodore Roosevelt National Park. An additional unpaved section of Boicourt Trail can be hiked to take advantage of a second overlook. Hikers often spot bison grazing on the prairie below.

Pembina Gorge Steep valley cliffs tower over the isolated wetlands, atmospheric prairie and undisturbed forests of Pembina Gorge State Recreation Area. The gorge and winding river itself is best explored by kayak but can also be traversed by land on an ATV, dirt bike or horseback. Elk can be spotted roaming the 2,800 acres of public land. Take a pit stop at the Walhalla Country Club for refreshments.

Crow Flies High Butte First used as a lookout by U.S. army Lieutenant and explorer William Clark when waiting to reunite with his friend Meriwether Lewis, the butte is famed for its breathtaking view of Lake Sakakawea, Badlands bluffs and the foundations of the underwater town of Sanish. The park takes its name from Hidatsu Indian chief Crow Flies High, whose tribe have lived on North Dakota lands since the 13th century.

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16 / Middle East Escorted Touring

Leading

the way For a region as diverse and complex as the Middle East, an escorted tour can offer peace of mind and help to create a more meaningful experience, says Peter Ellegard

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’m in an ultra-modern hospital in Qatar’s capital, Doha. Spread over four floors, it offers five-star care for very exclusive patients. As I’m shown around its medical museum with my tour group, the displays of stuffed exhibits, skeletons and feathers – not to mention tracks painted on the floor – underline its true purpose. This place is strictly for the birds. Specifically falcons, the ultimate status symbol of this region.

Souq Waqif Falcon Hospital is situated in the heart of bustling Souq Waqif, surrounded by shops full of raptors and hunting paraphernalia. One shop owner proudly shows us a prized bird as hooded falcons line long perches behind. Our tour leader takes us on to explore Souq Waqif’s labyrinthine alleyways of traders selling spice, gold and more, and its camel market. We take a night dhow cruise past Doha’s shimmering skyscrapers, visit the space-age National Museum of Qatar and the Museum of Islamic Art, and enjoy thrilling desert dune-bashing excursions. As we leave Qatar, I feel I have got under the skin of this fascinating destination, thanks to being part of a tour group.

New and exotic

VIEW from Marasi st, Dubai Business Bay and Dubai Canal

The Middle East is made for escorted tours. The exotic cultures, traditions and food of the region’s countries can overwhelm, so having a knowledgeable tour leader throughout helps clients feel at ease, as does the camaraderie of being with a group, sharing experiences and bonding.

With travel restarting, the Middle East is already on holidaymakers’ radars. Key events such as the delayed Expo 2020 Dubai, which opened this October and runs until the end of March, and the 2022 FIFA World Cup, being hosted by Qatar in a year’s time, will help keep it top of mind. G Adventures National Sales Manager Stu Darnley says that destinations such as Israel and Jordan previously favoured by more niche-focused travellers are now increasingly appealing to the mass market, with Jordan in the operator’s top 10 most popular destinations from the UK. “While it may naturally appeal to the older traveller, the Middle East is actually a great option for younger travellers too and there’s a great opportunity for agents to educate customers on what’s on offer,” he adds. Phil Ellis, Titan Travel’s Middle East Product Manager, says: “The Middle East is a fantastic destination to sell all year round, but we’re noticing demand for 2022 holidays really pick up recently.” Egypt has remained popular, according to Abercrombie & Kent Managing Director

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PETER ELLEGARD

Middle East Escorted Touring /

Last light at Wadi Rum Desert in Jordan

Kerry Golds. But she highlights Saudi Arabia as the next big thing, with people keen to explore the once-closed kingdom.

Dubai Perennial favourite Dubai remains a popular option for tour groups, often in conjunction with neighbouring states and emirates or as a stopover. Its glitzy and luxurious hotels, some on artificial islands, and upscale shopping-cumentertainment malls combined with desert adventures that include 4x4 safaris and Bedouin camps, high-class restaurants and attractions such as the soaring Burj Khalifa make for an unforgettable experience. JA Resorts’ collection of seven hotels in Dubai includes the emirate’s only mountain resort, the 53-room JA Hatta Fort Hotel, 90 minutes from central Dubai in the Hajar Mountains, as well as JA The Resort that features three five-star hotels set on an 800-metre private beach. Top tip: Escape the sky-high towers to browse the fascinating souqs around Dubai Creek, once the heart of the city.

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CITY VIEW FROM THE Islamic Museum of Art, DohA

Cleansing Dead Sea mud masks, JORDAN

HEGRA by bike, Saudi Arabia

Fort Sofia Montezo, Oman

Oman Still largely undiscovered by British holidaymakers, Oman offers a fascinating blend of the ancient and modern along with breathtaking natural wonders. Muscat is the start and end point for tours and serves up deliciously sumptuous hotels, along with the charm of Old Muscat and its preserved forts, Muttrah Souq and the spectacular Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque. Beyond the capital, tours take in elements including the 6,000-year-old tradition of building wooden dhows in the shipyards of Sur, a green turtle sanctuary, the vast Wahiba Sands desert for 4x4 adventures and desert camp experiences, lush desert wadis with natural springs and waterfalls. At the historic one-time capital Nizwa, locals trade goats and cattle at the morning market. Then there’s Oman’s “Grand Canyon”, Wadi Nakhr, at Jebel Shams. G ADVENTURES Eight-day Highlights of Oman tour costs from £1,799pp for departures from February 2022, with group sizes up to a maximum of 16. Flights are not included.

“Saudi Arabia is the next go-to destination for pioneering adventure travellers, with a slew of archaeological wonders, like Al Ula, poised to become the next Petra” Kerry Golds, Managing Director, Abercrombie & Kent

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PETER ELLEGARD

Luxor Temple and the statues of Ramses II, EGYPT

Qatar National Museum, Qatar

Jordan History comes alive in Jordan through its Biblical locations, preserved Roman towns, Crusader castles and the amazing Nabatean city of Petra, carved out of the rocks and lost to the sands for hundreds of years. Then there is the extraordinary scenery of Wadi Rum, with its strong connections to Lawrence of Arabia. Titan’s Phil Ellis says: “Jordan has numerous angles for discovery and therefore attracts a wide spectrum of travellers with differing interests and reasons for discover this amazing and eclectic country.” Ellis suggests visiting in spring, when the deserts and cities are ablaze with colour from wildflowers and fruit tree blossom. “Experiencing the ancient site of Jerash with a carpet of vivid yellow flower is a spectacle that will remain within my memories forever,” he adds. TITAN TRAVEL An eight-day culture and history-rich Jordan with Ancient Petra escorted tour is priced from £1,849pp and includes flights, VIP transfers, hotels, some meals and 10 excursions.

stargazing amongst ALULA’s ancient rock formations

Saudi Arabia “A mysterious desert kingdom closed to much of the outside world until recently, Saudi Arabia is the next go-to destination for pioneering adventure travellers, with a slew of archaeological wonders, like Al Ula, an archaeological treasure poised to become the next Petra.” So says Abercrombie & Kent Managing Director Kerry Golds, who believes the country will be in prime position “as travel ramps up to return with a vengeance in 2022” and travellers look to experience new destinations where few have visited before. The country is also championed by Marc Leaderman, Product and Operations Director of Wild Frontiers, which offers an 11-day Inside the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia tour. With a lead-in price of £4,595pp, it is commissionable to agents. “Travelling in a small group of like-minded travellers is an excellent way to discover the best of Saudi Arabia,” he says. Abercrombie & Kent An eight-day Saudi Arabia: Desert Kingdoms tour costs from £7,355pp. It takes in Riyadh, Jeddah and Al Ula, for group sizes of 10-12. International flights are not included but

domestic flights are, as is accommodation, transportation and entrance fees.

Egypt Key milestones and events in 2022 will put Egypt in the limelight and stoke interest in the country over the coming year. After several delays, the Kenneth Branaghdirected remake of Death on the Nile is finally set to hit cinema screens in February after its original October 2020 release date was postponed due to Covid. And next November will be the 100th anniversary of the discovery of Tutankhamun’s tomb by the infamous British archaeologist Howard Carter, while 2022 also marks 200 years since the Rosetta Stone was deciphered and ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics could be interpreted. The new Grand Egyptian Museum is also expected to open in November 2022, located close to Giza’s Pyramids. Top tip: Abercrombie & Kent is the only tour company granted access to the newly-excavated, 4,000-year-old Wahtye Tomb at Sakkara in Egypt, and through its DMC offers privileged private openings for its guests. •

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One Destination

ENDLESS FUN This beachfront holiday destination is perfect for family holidays in Dubai and home to three hotels, JA Palm Tree Court, JA Beach Hotel and JA Lake View Hotel. With 7 swimming pools, an 800m private beach, 25 dining outlets and over 40 exciting activities to discover, JA The Resort guarantees endless fun for everyone.

For more information, visit JAresorts.com or email: reservations.jatheresort@jaresorts.com

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Treasured

islands

The Indian Ocean is back open for business, and Tamara Hinson has the lowdown on the hotspots which should be on your radar

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t’s official - four of the most popular Indian Ocean destinations (the Maldives, Seychelles, Sri Lanka and Mauritius) are back open for business. Whether clients are looking to cover as much ground with an island-hopping adventure in the Seychelles, or wildlife-rich safari in Sri Lanka, or just enjoy some of the world-class beaches and luxury resorts that Mauritius and the Maldives are famous for, this region ticks all the boxes. Kuoni, which has added 13 new resorts to its collection throughout the Indian Ocean, admits that the region remains the favourite honeymoon choice for couples, many of whom have re-booked following postposed plans resulting from the pandemic. claire Ross, Product Director, said: “The Maldives, followed by Mauritius, Sri Lanka and the Seychelles already top Kuoni’s list of bestselling destinations for 2022 based on

forward sales, making up more than half of the company’s advance bookings.” She adds: “Demand for child-free resorts, special interest trips, such as diving, and ultra-luxury is also on the rise, with the average spend for 2022 Indian Ocean holidays up by 15%.” Not only are the individual destinations accessible (the Seychelles alone is served by 13 different airlines) but the islands still have plenty of space - something which has never been more important - and the warm welcome the Indian Ocean is famous for will be hugely appreciated by clients who’ve missed their favourite sun spots. The best bit? Never have there been so many shiny new developments to get excited about.

The Seychelles One of the most exciting new properties is LXR Hotels & Resorts’ Mango House

patina MaLdiveS, fari iSLand

Seychelles, which opened in July 2021 on Mahé island’s Anse Aux Poules bleues bay. This boutique property has 41 beachfront suites and villas, and five F&B venues. Over at the Hilton Seychelles, capacity has been increased with the addition of eight cliffside Signature Grand Ocean Pool Villas, all of which have personalised bedlinen, private plunge pools or unbeatable ocean views. Speaking of islands, insiders predict that island-hopping will become increasingly popular for clients, who will be keener than ever to squeeze in multiple destinations. “With so many islands, all of which are easily accessible by flight, ferry or catamaran, it’s a shame to stay in one place,” says Nikki Hain, Premier Holidays’ Product Manager. As for an unexpected upside of the pandemic? There’s more wildlife to spot. “Reduced footfall has allowed wildlife to thrive,” says Vanessa beldam, Audley Travel’s Senior

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Yoga sessions at Lux* Le Morne, Mauritius

Product Executive for Africa and the Indian Ocean. “For example, turtles are nesting more frequently on Denis Island.” For cruising clients, Emerald Cruises’ second superyacht, Emerald Sakara, sets sail in 2023. Its inaugural round-trip cruise focusing on the Seychelles departs from Victoria, on Mahé Island. PREMIER HOLIDAYS Premier Holidays’ 10-night package includes return flights and half-board in a pool villa at the Raffles Seychelles. From £3,999pp, for travel between May 9 and June 15, 2022. premierholidays.co.uk Top tip: Many clients are attracted to the Seychelles because of the seclusion. “People want quieter places and the Seychelles delivers, with several private island resorts such as Hilton Labriz and Fregate Island,” says Diane Prendergast, Gold Medal’s Destination Manager.

Mango House, Seychelles

SEYCHELLES tourist board

jacob Oslob

Haritha villas. Sri Lanka

Sri Lankan tea plantation

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Giant Tortoises of the Seychelles

Sri Lanka Pre-pandemic, Sri Lanka was on track to become the Indian Ocean’s most soughtafter destination, and it’s bouncing back with speed. “Right before the pandemic, figures indicated that visitor numbers were growing by 18% year on year,” says Julie FitzGerald, G Adventures’ General Manager for Asia. “2019 was poised for even greater growth, with eastern and northern destinations opening to tourism.” So what has Sri Lanka got in store? G Adventures offers a seven-day Sri Lanka - South Coast Sailing in search of blue whales, stopping along the way at the old trading fort of Galle and the fishing village of Kudawella. Meanwhile new properties include the adults-only nine-villa Haritha Villas + Spa, which opened in December 2019 on a forested hilltop near southern Sri Lanka’s Hikkaduwa beach, while Kumbura, a four-

“Reduced footfall has allowed wildlife to thrive. For example, turtles are nesting more frequently on Denis Island” Vanessa Beldam, Audley Travel

bedroom heritage property in Habaraduwa, near Galle, has been added to Eden Villas’ portfolio. There are also several new packages, including Intrepid Travel’s 14-day Premium Sri Lanka package, which launches in January 2022. The growing popularity of active holidays is perfect for clients craving a different perspective. “We’re revamping

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22 / Indian Ocean our Active Sri Lanka tour,” says Hannah Methven, Explore’s Discovery Programme Manager. “It will have paddleboarding, yoga, cycling and rafting and will be about nature, rather than ticking off landmarks. We’re definitely noticing more demand for active holidays – people are fitter, and have walked and cycled more during the lockdown.” The best bit? Getting around will become easier. “The new Central Expressway highway, currently under construction, will eventually connect the east to the west, transforming the tourism landscape,” says Anu Karunatilaka, Intrepid’s Regional General Manager in Sri Lanka. “We have beautiful beaches and fantastic wildlife in the east, but few people visit due to the time it takes to get there.” Intrepid Intrepid’s 14-day Premium Sri Lanka tours launch on January 2, 2022. From £2,086pp, excluding flights. intrepidtravel.com Top tip: Tempt clients with holidays away from the main hotspots. “More clients are seeking unusual experiences and destinations,” says Audley Travel’s Vanessa Beldam. “They want to see beyond the usual sights, and to explore lesser-known parts.”

Mauritius In Mauritius, there’s a huge number of openings and refurbishments for agents to keep track of. It’s all change at the Four Seasons Resort Mauritius at Anahita, which reopened in October 2021 after a fourmonth refurbishment which transformed the Bambou restaurant and bar and added a new lobby bar, while a makeover of LUX* Le Morne has created a lighter, brighter look and added new areas, including the sundowner-friendly Tree House. Adultsonly boutique hotel SALT of Palmar, on

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Secluded waterfalls in the Seychelles

Quatre Coco beach, has introduced several new guest experiences, including forest bathing at Bras D’eau and a history-themed excursion to Mahebourg and as of August the St. Regis Mauritius was rebranded as the JW Marriott Mauritius, the colonial-style resort offers 171 rooms on the shores of Le Morne Beach. But it’s the opening of LUX* Grand Baie Resort & Residences, in December 2021, which is generating the biggest buzz. “Located in the popular Grand Baie neighbourhood in Mauritius’s north known for its beaches – it will become LUX’s flagship property,” says Hain. “Regulars will know it as the old Merville Beach hotel. We’re hoping for more direct flights, too!” To celebrate Mauritius reopening its borders, all-inclusive Tamassa Bel Ombre on the south west coast has a reopening offer of 15% off when booked by December 1, 2021 for departures until May 2022. British Airways British Airways offers a six-night stay at the five-star Westin Turtle Bay Resort & Spa on the west coast of Mauritius from £1,786pp.

Price includes return flights from London, accommodation on a half board basis in a superior room, departing February 10, 2022. ba-agent.com Top tip: Match the setting with the client. “There are over 100 beaches on Mauritius’s coastline, each with its own character,” says Prendergast. “And with beautiful beaches comes incredible diving. There are around 50 diving and snorkelling sites, all with varying levels of difficulty.”

Maldives The Maldives gets the gold medal for the sheer number of new openings, although there are plenty of other developments, whether it’s the news that the Hard Rock Hotel Maldives now accepts cryptocurrency, or the unveiling, in November 2021, of the Fairmont Maldives’ Sustainability Lab, where guests can recycle rubbish into souvenirs. New openings include Patina the Fari Islands, on the edge of the North Malé Atoll, a 45-minute boat ride from Velana International Airport. Then there’s the

“We’re definitely noticing more demand for active holidays – people are fitter, and have walked and cycled more during the lockdown” Hannah Methven, Explore

Four Seasons resort, Mauritius

LE MERIDIEN MALDIVES RESORT

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Paradise with a Mindful Touch Experience JW Marriott Mauritius Resort surrounded by 1km of soft white sand, its turquoise lagoon and the stunning backdrop of the iconic UNESCO World Heritage Site of Le Morne Brabant Mountain. This island sanctuary will transport you to a world of culinary delights, an award-winning spa and direct access to one of the most exhilarating kite-surfing spots. For more information or booking, kindly contact us on reservations@jw-mauritius.com or call us on +230 403 9000.

Destination Unlock Discover our newly refurbished hotel and explore Mauritius with authentic and thought provoking experiences at every turn. Le Méridien Ile Maurice is located on the sheltered bay of Pointe-aux-Piments, on the north west coast of Mauritius. For more information or booking, kindly contact us on reservations@meridienmauritius.com or call us on +230 204 3333.

Rejuvenate and Reconnect Within its pristine location on the edge of one of the oldest marine park and environment, strategically located in historic Turtle Bay, the resort bestows to its guests, moments of pure indulgence and an immediate air of belonging. Nestled in a lush tropical garden, and a white sandy beach skirting the turquoise Indian Ocean at the front, the resort is designed with a romantic and typically Mauritian feel. For more information or booking, kindly contact us on reservations@westinresortmauritius.com or call us on +230 204 1400.

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24 / Indian Ocean family-friendly Siyam World Maldives, which opened in October 2021 and has the world’s largest floating water park as well as a staggering 21 room categories. With a nod to its eco-conscious location, Lhaviyani Atoll’s Le Méridien Maldives Resort & Spa, which opened in September 2021, features a Marine Hub at the resort which offers a range of conservation programmes including mangrove and seagrass protection, and turtle identification and snorkeling with the marine biologist, with the opportunity for guests to name a turtle for themselves. It is the second Marriott International property to open in the Maldives this year, offering guests 141 villas with views across the pristine beaches, the Indian Ocean or turquoise lagoon. Other openings include the family-friendly Cora Cora Maldives, which opened in October on the Raa Atoll and has 100 villas and suites and South Malé Atoll’s Ozen Reserve Bolifushi, which opened in late 2020 and is just a 20-minute catamaran ride from the international airport. Finally, Anantara Kihavah Maldives Villas has

Westin Turtle Bay Resort & Spa, Mauritius

launched new family-style villas, consisting of four two bedroom beach pool Villas and eight one bedroom beach pool villas. EXPERIENCE TRAVEL GROUP Catering to clients keen to explore beyond the glitzy resorts? Consider the Experience Travel Group’s Hidden Magic in the Maldives package, which includes international flights and 11 nights split between

two inhabited islands. From £2,985pp. experiencetravelgroup.com Top tip: Brush up on how resorts fare in the sustainability stakes. “Clients are increasingly concerned with environmental issues and want to know that their Maldivian resort is up to scratch from a sustainable point of view,” says Sam Clark, CEO of Experience Travel Group.

A postcard-perfect lagoon. Fabulous drinking and dining Experiences. Four spectacular pools. A joyful spa. A place dedicated to sharing good times, together.

We believe that holidays are a precious chance to reconnect and remind ourselves of the most important thing in lifeeach other. Discover Tamassa Bel Ombre, a vibrant all inclusive resort in Mauritius set on a dazzling white beach surrounded by dramatic mountains and sugarcane fields. tamassaresor ts.com

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Experiences found only in the

Florida Keys Extending from the southern tip of Florida, the Florida Keys offer a great alternative for those looking for an island-hopping adventure with a difference

BOB CRAE

The Keys are home to the only living coral barrier reef in the continental USA. Divers and snorkellers can swim amongst coral, tropical fish and even sunken ships! The official Florida Keys Wreck Trek logbook lists nine of the region’s most iconic wreck sites, including two of the largest wrecks intentionally sunk as artificial reefs. Dive and snorkel operators from Key Largo to Key West offer excursions led by experts.

What better way to mark the Southernmost Point of the continental USA than with a #southernmostselfie? Every day visitors line up at Whitehead and South streets in Key West to have their photo taken beside this colourful marker. No need for a filter as the Atlantic Ocean makes for an Instagrammable backdrop. This bright beacon also reminds visitors that they stand just 90 miles from Cuba. ROB O’NEAL

Writer Ernest Hemingway and former president Harry Truman both made Key West their home, and today visitors can tour those spots. Truman spent six months of his presidency in his ‘Little White House’ which displays his original piano and poker table. Equally fascinating is the Ernest Hemingway Home & Museum, where the author produced works including To Have and Have Not, inspired by his Key West surroundings.

Take part in a Keys festival Florida Keys folks know how to throw a party – and the more unique the better! The 10-day Fantasy Fest takes place every October with costume contests and masquerade balls. Thought you couldn’t have a festival underwater? Think again. Every July the Lower Keys Underwater Music Festival shines a spotlight on coral reef protection with a sub-sea concert staged by local radio station US1 FM.

‘Hook and cook’ in Islamorada Book a charter captain or guide in Islamorada, known as the Sport Fishing Capital of the World, for a day spent offshore, reef or backcountry fishing. Saltwater fishing is a Keys speciality and clients can even take their catch (most likely yellowtail snapper or tuna), to a restaurant nearby to have it cooked fresh. Learn more and become a Florida Keys & Key West specialist at fla-keysen.experttraining.eu. ANDY NEWMAN

Snorkel or dive Florida’s barrier reef

Take a ‘southernmost selfie’

of legends

ROB O’NEAL

ANDY NEWMAN

The Florida Keys Overseas Highway is the southernmost leg of the iconic U.S. Highway 1, stretching 113 miles. Drivers can leave Miami and arrive in Key West in under four hours, but with views of the Atlantic Ocean on one side and the shimmering Florida Bay and the Gulf of Mexico on the other, it’s not a drive you want to rush. A highlight is timing a sunset drive over the landmark Seven Mile Bridge.

Tour the home

ANDY NEWMAN

Drive the Overseas Highway

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The beaches of

Gran Canaria Vibe with the locals or retreat from the hustle and bustle on one of Gran Canaria’s many, and varied, beaches.

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olcanic rock pools and hidden coves only accessible by boat, dot the Gran Canaria landscape. One of the island’s most outstanding features however is its golden sandy beaches. If it’s for sunbathing or a dip in the ocean, here are the best spots to recommend.

Covering 400 hectares, Maslomas Dunes, with it’s oasis and fresh water lagoon, is also flecked with the eponymous sand dunes. Visitors will be spoilt for choice, as the UNESCO protected nature reserve features some of the best beaches on Gran Canaria, including Playa del Ingles.

Masplomas Dunes

Meloneras

On the island’s southernmost tip, sand blown from the sea bed during the ice age now forms the desert that lies there today.

To the west of Masplomas Lighthouse, the bustling and newly developed Meloneras promenade stretches for two kilometres. It’s luxurious four and five star hotels are complemented by bars,cafes and restaurants offering a plethora of global cuisines. The highlight is its two beaches at each end of the promenade, Masplomas and Meloneras, both favourites with discerning locals. Brave a dip in the Atlantic or slap on the suncream for a sunbathing session on the tranquil sands. At night, Meloneras bursts into life, with live music which can be enjoyed with a cool glass of wine whilst watching the sunset over the ocean.

Anfi del Mar

Fringed with fronds of coconut palms and carpeted with 11,000 tons of sand as pristine as snow, Anfi Beach serves a slice of inspiration from more tropical lands. Originally known as Playa de la Verga, this resort was built in the 1990s by a Norwegian businessman who wanted to recreate the Caribbean in the Canaries. Located in a protected lagoon, flanked by a pier on one side and a heart-shaped island and marina on the other, its calm waters are ideal for snorkelling. Kayaks, paddleboards, jet skis and small boats can all be rented and the depths of the sea can be explored on a glass bottom boat.

Amadores

Even further west, Amadores Beach sits in a curved bay, overlooked by imposing cliffs. Created in 2002, this resort is a welcome respite from the busier Puerto Rico. Its position in a cove means waters are tranquil, protected from the rolling Atlantic waves, and excellent for paddling and swimming while the coral sands allow for

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sunbathing. This is the spot for peace and quiet, with a ban on loud music and beach games, plus its one kilometre length means it never gets overcrowded. An oceanfront walk along the cliff between Amadores and Puerto Rico offers stunning coastal views.

Puerto de Mogan

The mouth of a steep valley reveals the seaside village of Puerto de Mogan, its charming white buildings nestled into the mountain landscape of the southern coast. A network of canals and bridges with vibrant subtropical flowers form its own Little Venice. A fishing port and yacht marina are joined by a sandy beach, protected by the port and breakwater. Families can swim and sunbathe in safety, or try snorkelling in the shallow sea. Larger marine life, including whale watching, can be experienced by taking a yellow submarine or a boat trip from the marina. There are also deep-sea fishing expeditions for keen anglers, plus nearby isolated coves and rock pools to explore.

Güi Güi

Grab your hiking boots or sweet talk a local fisherman to transport you to the remote, deserted beaches of Güi Güi Grande and Güi Güii Chico. Situated on the west coast, the tough two-hour hike is rewarded with crystalline waters and some of the best sunsets in Gran Canaria. Güi Güi Grande is only 350 metres long, named after the size of the barranco or canyon, rather than the beach. Güi Güii Chico, almost twice as big, is just south of its little neighbour and is reached by scrambling over the rocks. Changing with the seasons, the beaches are sandiest in the summer months, and fade from existence during winter.

Agaete Natural Pools

North of Güi is the tiny fishing village of Puerto de Las Nieves, a cluster of blue and white Canarian houses. The harbour, Paseo de los Poetas, is lined with restaurants, craft shops and galleries, up to the natural pools of Las Salinas. For centuries, they were used to harvest

salt, but are now popular with swimmers. The nearby Maipés Archaeological Park, situated on a great lava flow at the foot of the Pinar de Tamadaba, is where the Guanches, Gran Canaria’s original inhabitants, chose to honour their dead. There are over 700 tombs, including huge burial mounds constructed with volcanic stones, dating from around 1,300 years ago.

Las Canteras

The capital, Las Palmas de Gran Canaria is home to Las Canteras, one of the best urban beaches in Europe. Starting in the north at La Puntilla, the beach is populated by fishing boats, with surfers riding the waves at La Cicer, its southern end. A natural offshore lava reef acts as a wave break, protecting the marine life that makes Las Canteras a top snorkelling spot. It’s also packed with shops, openair restaurants, ice cream parlours, with street entertainers providing ambience. Only the bravest will join the locals for a leap of faith, diving into the sea from the Peña La Vieja rock. •

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28 / Japan

Best of

both worlds Japan is known for its futuristic cities, temples and traditions, but why not pair a visit with one of the country’s islands to create the perfect twin-centre trip, says Jessica Pook

D

uring those dark days in January – midway through the third and most laborious lockdown – I started digging deep into my archive of travel memories as a form of escapism. Whilst I would often find myself daydreaming about dipping my toes in creamy-coloured sand, listening to the imaginary waves crashing, I also imagined standing at the lights of the Shibuya Crossing in Tokyo, thought to be the busiest intersection in the world, waiting for the lights to change and the organised chaos to unfold. Pre-lockdown I would have described the neon signs, flashing billboards and darting bodies to be an assault on the senses, but after a long travel slumber it’s exactly what I’ve been craving. Of course, not everyone is ready to be confronted with the mass of people that a city attracts. The more cautious traveller may still be seeking out rural and remote locations, but the good news is that

Japan caters to both. And once borders reopen it’s set to reclaim its rightful place as a top bucket-list destination. Thanks to this year’s Olympic Games, Japan has managed to stay firmly in the spotlight throughout the pandemic, with plans to highlight both its cities and regional attractions in 2022. “The Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games has helped to rekindle interest in Japan, and the Japan National Tourism Organization’s (JNTO) task is to promote the country’s many attractive travel destinations and its accessibility,” said Kyoji Kuramochi, Executive Director and spokesperson of JNTO. “We are committed to seizing this opportunity to showcase Japan and its lesser-known regional attractions and encourage people to dream.”

City charm Next spring could be the first time in three years that international visitors are able to see the famous cherry

Snorkelling around the Okinawa islands

blossom, most commonly found in the country’s cities, and the iconic Mt. Fuji. For city-lovers, there’s no better buzz than walking the bustling streets of Tokyo, full of shiny high-end stores and food halls selling the famous Wagyu and Kobe beef. Of course, if clients are visiting during spring they should embrace sake-fuelled cherry blossom viewing parties called hanami, held in Tokyo’s green spaces and there’s plenty of neighbourhoods offering an insight into Japanese culture, whether that’s watching performing geisha in Asakusa, or browsing anime merchandise in Akihabar. “Interest in Tokyo is high,” said a representative from Tokyo Convention & Visitors Bureau (TCVB). “We are happy that we were able to carry out the highly anticipated Olympic Games despite the difficulties, and we believe that many people are paying attention to Tokyo because of this. For example, Tokyo was recently voted by readers of Condé Nast

Snowy peaks of Niseko Village, Hokkaido

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Shibuya Crossing, or Shibuya Scramble Crossing, Tokyo

Traveller UK as the number one city in The Best Cities in the World: 2021.” Kyoto is Japan’s spiritual heart. Clients looking to participate in a traditional macha tea ceremony, sleep on a futon bed and spend days browsing temples and Zen gardens will find all of the above in Kyoto. It’s also a foodie haven, offering everything from Michelin-starred restaurants to back ally noodle bars and sushi hotspots. For history lovers, Takayama City satisfies any visitor’s need to immerse themselves in Japanese history. Takayama has preserved many of the townscape’s historical features such as its overhanging roofs and projecting lattices, giving visitors a feel for what life was like in Edo period Japan.

Island life

White sands of Okinawa Island

Japan has exceptional accessibility from its bullet trains to wide-spread domestic flights. Clients can easily be transported to some of Japan’s subtropical islands from gateway cities such as Tokyo and Osaka. One such gem is Okinawa, a chain of islands in the East China Sea southeast of mainland Japan. With a year-round warm climate comparable to Hawaii, it’s Okinawa’s remote beaches that

attract visitors, but it also has islandhopping appeal. Comprising of 160 subtropical islands, spots such as jungle-clad Iriomate offer a naturerich escape with dense subtropical forests, mangrove-lined waterways, picturesque waterfalls and long curving beaches perfect for adventure seekers. The capital, Naha, is the busiest island, yet space is still abundant with miles of pink sand beaches and swaying sugar cane fields. A new English-speaking city tour, Machi Mai, launched this year, offering an authentic glimpse into the traditional life of Okinawans past and present. The two-hour walking tour, guided by a local expert, stops at Shurijo Castle, the Makishi public market and the city’s historic alleys packed with independent eateries and stores. “Okinawa’s popularity is unshakable as the place to experience unique culture and nature,” says Takashi Kinjo, Director General, Sales and Promotion Department, Okinawa Convention & Visitors Bureau (OCVB). “Compared to big cities, Okinawa’s subtropical climate and relaxed island lifestyle make it an ideal destination for post-COVID inbound visitors as well. In addition, Yanbaru and Iriomote Island’s, newly added UNESCO World Natural Heritage

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pink hues of city Cherry blossom

Subtropical

OKINAWA

The Okinawa Convention Visitors Bureau (OCVB) is inviting agents to become an Okinawa Expert by registering FREE on onlinetraveltraining.com (OTT) and taking the course to learn all about this stunning and fascinating prefecture. Did you know that Okinawa is Japan’s southernmost prefecture with 160 subtropical islands and boasting a yearround warm climate? Find out more on the must-know facts of Okinawa that will help you sell this stunning destination to your clients. Okinawa is blessed with incredible natural beauty and is perfect for beach lovers and sport enthusiasts alike, whilst still appealing to culture seekers thanks to its unique history and heritage. You can witness this beauty through a variety of videos provided on the course. Okinawa has partnered with Japan Airlines (JAL), to offer agents a chance to win a double prize each month from November 2021. All you need to do is complete a minimum of 2 lessons on both the Okinawa and Japan Airlines courses to qualify for the double prize draw. The more lessons you complete for each course, the more times you will be entered for the monthly draw.

November’s prize From Okinawa: A beautiful Coral Dyed Plate from Shuri Ryusen. These stunning plates are intricately made and typical of Okinawa’s islands. From Japan Airlines: Gate8 Spin MATE Plus JAL Branded Cabin Bag. The lucky winner will be drawn on 30 November 2021.

Geisha’s in Gion, Kyoto

sites offer unspoiled nature that is rare in Japan, making them even more attractive for inbound visitors.” Kinjo notes that recent consumer research shows a strong interest in longevity, wellness, nature and cultural experiences. “We are convinced that Okinawa is the destination that is in tune with the post-COVID global trend. We are also determined to promote ethical tourism to meet expected increase in demand.” Another of Japan’s rural islands is Hokkaido, the country’s northernmost island. Famous for its powder snow and long ski season from early December until April, Hokkaido’s mountainous terrain is perfect for winter enthusiasts. Seasoned skiers can ski tour up the iconic Mt Yotei, the tallest of Niseko’s volcanoes – with the chance to ski or board into its crater for clients looking for a really unique experience. Kyushu is Japan’s third-largest island, internationally famous for its ramen, rejuvenating hot springs, dramatic mountains and peaceful beaches, but also as a place that puts an enormous emphasis on sustainability. Visitors who want to get a glimpse of a truly authentic experience of traditional Japanese living should think about staying at a kominka hotel, a Japanese traditional farmhouse.

Where to book it inside japan – 0117 244 3380 InsideJapan offers a 13-day ‘Japan Island-Hopping’ self guided adventure which includes time in Tokyo before and after exploring mainland Okinawa and the smaller islands of Tokashikijima, Ishigaki, Taketomi and Iriomote. Priced from £5280pp (excluding international flights) it includes accommodation, domestic flights between Tokyo and Naha, airport transfers, breakfast, some private guiding in Tokyo, kayaking and trekking guide in Iriomote and more. InsideJapanTours.com •

visitokinawa.jp onlinetraveltraining.com/free-courses/providers/okinawa-uk jalagent.co.uk

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Southern hospitality in

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Mississippi Across Mississippi craft cocktails, local brews and delectable cuisine all come with a side of famous Southern hospitality, making even a first-time visitor to the state feel right at home

The Coop The Coop in Oxford offers a selection of culinary temptations, seasonal draft beers and classic cocktails. Serving hearty Southern classics, diners should start off with an order of Rebel Tots before gorging on a mouthwatering Graduate Smashburger. This fourth floor terrace lounge overlooks the picturesque Oxford Square, making it the perfect hangout for dinner or drinks with a view. graduatehotels.com

10 South With a bird’s eye view of the Mighty Mississippi, Vicksburg’s 10 South Rooftop Bar & Grill is the perfect place to kick back and watch the sun go down with a refreshing cocktail. The area’s only open-air grill, 10 South is known for its casual fare, serving Southern classics like fried green tomatoes topped with crawfishtomato gravy and blackened Yazoo City catfish – both local favourites. 10southrooftop.com

Giardina’s Restaurant Located in The Alluvian hotel, Giardina’s Restaurant is one of the Mississippi Delta’s most historic restaurants. Described as ‘old world elegant’, the restaurant specialises in steaks, seafood and Italian cuisine and offers guests a fine-dining experience but with a laid-back ‘Delta casual’ atmosphere. Dine in the courtyard under twinkling lights for the ultimate romantic setting. thealluvian.com

Bar Fontaine Found on the rooftop of The Cotton House hotel, Bar Fontaine is an upscale rooftop bar that serves craft beer, signature cocktails, small plates and from-scratch pastas, all using locallysourced ingredients. Watch the sunset melt into downtown Cleveland while sipping on popular drinks like The First Lady and The Contract - a unique blend of bourbon and chicory liqueur - both distilled in Mississippi. deltameatmarket.com

The Mahogany Bar A Hattiesburg staple, The Mahogany Bar, or ‘The Hog’ as it’s fondly known as, features nearly 150 beers in-house, including a range of local Mississippi brews. Unwind in the courtyard while savouring fan favourites such as corn and crab bisque and crawfish pie from the adjacent Crescent City Grill. Be sure to make the most of the long happy hour and enjoy the buzzy atmosphere. mahoganybar.net

The Chimneys Restaurant The Chimneys Restaurant in Gulfport provides an exceptional outdoor dining experience. Classic coastal cuisine such as trout meuniere almondine pairs beautifully with a glass of wine or specialty cocktail from the extensive drink menu. Dine on the airy front porch and enjoy uninterrupted views of the Gulf of Mexico before an afterdinner stroll on the beach. chimneysrestaurant.com

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Christmas Markets Cosy wooden chalets, the smell of delicious treats and the sound of carol singers – Christmas markets truly are the best way to get clients into the festive spirit

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CENTRAL EUROPE

SLOVENIA

G Adventures has launched its first Christmas market tours in Europe. Starting in Salzburg, Hellbrunner Christmas Market is home to over 700 beautifully-decorated Christmas trees, and Germany’s Nuremberg market is celebrated as one of the oldest in the world. With four departures running from late November through to the end of December, the week-long tours will take travellers from Berlin to Vienna, stopping in Salzburg, Munich and Nuremberg. The seven-day trip starts from £1,099pp and can also be taken in reverse. gadventures.com

Slovenia’s Christmas markets are up there with the likes of Germany’s, but not as crowded. From the vibrant markets of Ljubljana to fairytale festivities of Lake Bled, the Slovenian Christmas markets serve up dazzling decor, handmade crafts, Christmas concerts, and delicious treats. For something totally unique, take a five-kilometre train ride through the giant Postojna Caves to uncover a living nativity scene, with 150 performers taking part. Cox and Kings’ six-night flexible package starts from £1,545pp. coxandkings.co.uk

UK

ESTONIA

Who says the UK doesn’t do Christmas as well as Europe? Exeter Christmas Market is nestled against the backdrop of the city’s beautiful Cathedral and offers all the same mouth-watering treats and festive magic as its counterparts further afield. Departing on November 22, 24, 26 and 30 and December 6, 2021 from selected pickup points around the country, this break also includes free time in Torquay. Priced from £119pp, it includes coach travel and two nights’ half-board accommodation. Based on two sharing. justgoholidays.com

Tallinn, Estonia, is arguably at its best during the festive period. A tour with a local guide will reveal the gems of Tallinn Old Town, including the ancient Toompea Castle and Nevsky Cathedral. The fairy-tale landscape features family run handicraft stalls, local art galleries and boutique shops. A towering 20m Christmas tree greets clients in the town square, where you can sample Estonian food and drink including local desserts and Vana Tallinn liqueur. The three-hour Tallinn Christmas Tour is priced at £234 per group. toursbylocals.com

GERMANY Contiki’s new German Christmas Markets trip stops at markets in six different cities for a festive bonanza. The seven-day tour visits Frankfurt, Koblenz, Cologne, Heidelberg, Stuttgart, Rothenberg, Nermberg, Dachau and Munich. Clients will see the fairy-tale turrets of Neuschwanstein Castle, experience Munich’s famous Christmas Markets, taste winter warming regional dishes and raise steins in traditional beer halls. Priced from £1,104pp, all transport, accommodation and food is included. contiki.com

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Island highlights

in Jersey Just a short flight or ferry ride away from the UK, Jersey has year-round appeal whatever the season Foodie focus Jersey’s big four – oysters, dairy, Jersey Royal potatoes and lobster – are just a few of the local flavours on offer. Clients can dine at the island’s Michelin starred restaurant, Bohemia, or look for local produce at the colourful and lively Central and Beresford Markets, which have served the community for over 200 years. Local chef Rex Barker shares insights into the local produce on his foodie tours.

Into the wild Jersey has a varied landscape from long sandy bays in the south to rugged cliffs in the north. Perfect for exploring on foot, walkers and hikers can lace up to explore its wooded valleys, stunning coastlines and verdant countryside. Clients can visit the golden orchards of La Mare Wine Estate or explore the trails along the island’s many beaches. Eagle-eyed ramblers can forage for wild edibles such as fungi, berries, sea herbs and many fragrant plants.

Back in time Rich in history, Jersey was shaped by many years of battle between the English and French armies. Medieval fortress Mont Orgueil Castle dates back to the Hundred Years’ War, while St. Helier’s Royal Square was the site for the Battle of Jersey. Visitors can also head to the Railway Walk where it meets the Rue de la Corbière to spot one of the island’s many Dolmens. Dating back to the Bronze Age, these grave sites are where chieftains were buried.

Story time The Channel Islands were the only part of the British Isles to have been occupied by German forces in World War II. Jersey Heritage, The National Trust for Jersey, the Channel Islands Occupation Society and the Jersey War Tunnels are all dedicated to telling the island’s story. A calendar of events and tours with local guides offer an immersive experience. Or take in a film screening or performance at a heritage site.

Cosy pubs Visitors can find their perfect pub on pintsized Jersey. There’s St. Mary’s Country Inn for traditional winter hideaway vibes and modern British cuisine, or pop into the The Vic in the Valley and enjoy the roaring fire. After walking the winding coastal path down to Devil’s hole, the Priory Inn provides a pitstop for comfort food. Or wander into Old Smugglers Inn, dating back to the time where pirates would venture into St. Brelade’s Bay.

Thrill seeking The cliffs, bays and ocean that surround Jersey allow for a range of actionpacked adventures. Wild Adventures offers a range of activities including paddle boarding, kayaking and coasteering as well as bushcraft and survival skills. Valley Adventure Centre, Jersey’s only high ropes adventure centre, is open throughout the year and features archery, climbing, abseiling, paintball or laser combat, in addition to aerial trekking.

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traveluni.com

Training, competitions, events November/December 2021

TOP STORIES

Win a place on the first fam to AlUla

PARTNER LIST A-Z of available training

TRAINING

SAUDI ARABIA welcomes tourists to discover the world's largest outdoor living museum – AlUla – with a new online training programme and portal. Both have been designed to provide agents with the knowledge and confidence to sell this unique destination. Agents that register and successfully complete five short training modules have the chance to win a place on the first trade fam to AlUla, in 2022, as well as a range of other prizes. Alulaspecialist.com

Incentive

Monthly prizes with Abu Dhabi

Abu Dhabi Specialist

A Royal resort TRAINING

THE NEW Sandals Royal Curaçao opens in April 2022. Designed as a romantic paradise for couples, the resort features never-before-seen Sandals signature firsts, from innovative and unique accommodation to a two-level infinity pool to 12 new dining concepts, including the brand's first floating restaurant! Agents can access the new online training modules now to learn more about the exotic Caribbean island of Curaçao and the stunning new resort, as well as brush up on their Sandals selling knowledge. sandalstraining.com

AGENTS THAT register and complete the Abu Dhabi Specialist Program before February 2022 will be entered into a monthly prize draw. Up for grabs are £50 Love2shop vouchers or a pair of Manchester City tickets for a Premier League match at the Etihad Stadium during the 2021/22 season. The Abu Dhabi Specialist Program provides in-depth insights into adventure activities and the local culture, as well as offering sample itineraries and tips from locals to help increase selling success. To become an Abu Dhabi Specialist, register and complete all modules on the course for the chance to win each month. abudhabispecialist.com

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

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36 / Bucket list trips

Timeless

travels After a long unwanted travel hiatus clients will be eager to start ticking off prized bucket list items on trips of a lifetime, says Charlotte Flach

B

ucket list trips have timeless and universal appeal for a range of leisure travellers. Pent-up demand coupled with a new set of priorities, means that post-pandemic more clients than ever are keen to cross this type of trip off their wish list. “During these long dark months, we have been plotting and planning our next great escape!,” says Maggi Smit, Managing Director at Windows on the Wild Luxe. “We want quality and not quantity. We

want to experience life and all that it has to offer on a grand scale. Many fortunate people have saved money during the pandemic and now realise that what is valuable is experiences, not possessions.” “With travel opportunities having been so limited over the last 20 months, the pent-up demand for travel in 2022 and beyond is immense, and agents should be taking steps to capitalise on this boom of potential bookings,” agrees Paul Melinis, Managing Director of APT.

Family affair

New Orleans Jazz Festival

Lots of extended family and friend groups will want to take the opportunity to get together, following long periods of being apart. A recent report by Dubai Tourism suggested that 36% of travellers have saved up extra cash to go abroad and 78% see holidays as a great way to bring multiple generations together. Agents can suggest exclusive hires for big family or friendship groups, such as Thanda Island, set in Tanzania’s Shungimbili Island Marine Reserve

and surrounded by its own coral reef. Despite its remote location there’s plenty to do and conservation is a major part of the island’s USP. “Marine conservation is at the core of the island’s offering and guests are encouraged to get involved in a range of projects, such as marine wildlife monitoring or awareness workshops with villagers on neighbouring Mafia Island,” says Smit. “On the island, guests can rejuvenate and enjoy a variety of water sports or island activities as they explore this remarkable destination.”

What’s trending? Ramping up marketing efforts is a great way to sell bucket list trips, with support from operator partners. “Our sales and marketing teams have created guidelines and toolkits with everything that the trade will need to promote key selling destinations and products,” says Melenis. It’s also smart to keep recent trends in mind, he adds. These include booking a luxurious break to compensate for lost travel last year, and holidaying

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Turquoise waters around Thanda Island, Tanzania

Venture to Australia in 2023 to see the total eclipse

in smaller or bubbled groups. “Access to open space is another travel theme that we’re seeing play out in the booking data, and Canada is a destination that delivers that and so much more,” says Melenis. “Our trips combine its stunning scenery and fascinating indigenous culture, its natural wonder and abundant wildlife, and its vibrant cities and exciting gastronomy – these combinations are proving extremely popular amongst our guests for 2022.”

Looking ahead Agents who want to capitalise on clients saving up for big trips, should act quickly as holidays inevitably get booked up fast. “Most of our 2022 Australia tours and cruises have sold out already, so guests are having to look as far ahead as 2023 to secure the itinerary they want,” says Melenis. Selling a niche, once in a lifetime experience is a great way to secure future bookings. Clients willing to wait, can join an escorted tour to witness

Cherry blossom is a yearly highlight in Japan

a total eclipse in Western Australia in 2023 with Omega Breaks. “For many, witnessing an eclipse is the ultimate bucket list experience. This astronomical phenomenon is the highlight of our once in a lifetime trips, and offers the chance to visit some amazing destinations,” says Claire Dutton, Trade Sales Manager at Omega Breaks. Accompanied by Pete Lawrence, an astronomer, astrophotographer and a presenter on the BBC’s Sky at Night, guests will be taken into the path of ‘totality’, close to the centre line of the eclipse shadow track. This will be at a location chosen to give guests a good chance of clear skies.

Tracking Chimps makes for an unforgettable trip

“Don’t wait until nearer the time to promote – it will sell out. Contact local societies and clubs to see if they are interested in putting together a group trip” Claire Dutton, Omega Breaks.

Gift of the gab Dutton also offers some valuable selling tips, which are applicable to any bucket list holiday. Firstly, it’s always a good idea to highlight any key attractions or local culture in the region, in addition to the bucket list experience itself. “Don’t wait until nearer the time to promote – it will sell out. Contact local

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38 / Bucket list trips

Secluded beaches in Myanmar

Clients want to see more of the natural world

societies and clubs to see if they are interested in putting together a group. Let your customers know that you can book this experience for them and every detail is taken care of,” she advises. Ultimately, the pandemic saw many people miss out on holidays who are now looking to do something extraordinary to make up for it. Dutton says: “Customers want to get out there, live life and do some of the things that they’ve always wanted to do - this means big bucket list trips. I believe this trend will continue over the coming years as we all look to make memories and spend time with loved ones doing amazing things.”

“Many fortunate people have saved money during the pandemic and now realise that what is valuable is experiences, not possessions” Maggi Smit, Windows on the Wild Luxe

Canada’s scenery is awe inspiring

Top 5 Bucket List Trips for 2022 Australia: The 15-day Wonders of Australia tour to watch the eclipse departs on April 9, 2023. Priced from £5,999pp, it include international and domestic flights, B&B accommodation and excursions, including the Great Barrier Reef and dolphin watching in Rockingham. omegabreaks.com/agents Canada: On a 13-day Rockies Explorer itinerary, from Vancouver to Victoria, guests can experience a two-day Rocky Mountaineer rail journey in GoldLeaf Service, meet a Mountie in Banff and hear tales of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, and explore Butchart Gardens in Victoria. Priced from £5,695pp, twin share, it includes flights and accommodation and departures from May to September 2022. APT.com Deep South: Trafalgar’s 10-day Tastes and Sounds of the South with Jazz Festival trip offers clients the chance to discover the life of music icon Johnny Cash, with a private performance from a member of the music legend’s family. The musical journey continues at The New Orleans Jazz

Festival which takes place in April 2022, and is finished with a visit to the famous Nashville Sound Studio to retrace Elvis Presley’s footsteps. The trip is priced from £2,875pp. trafalgar.com Japan: Next spring could be the first time in three years that international visitors have seen Japan dressed in the pink of cherry blossom. The pink petals of the Hanami flower light up Tokyo’s parks, Kyoto’s temples, and the iconic Mt. Fuji. InsideJapan Tours has a 14-night Best of Japan self-guided trip costing from £2,020pp, including accommodation, breakfast, transport and some private guiding. insidejapantours.com Uganda: A 12-day Chimps and Gorillas of Uganda trip includes a mountain gorilla trek in Bwindi, tracking chimpanzees through the Kibale Forest and time spent in Queen Elizabeth National Park, home to hippos, elephants, leopards and elusive tree-climbing lions. Priced from £5,345pp, the deal includes flights. Meals and other inclusions as per website. exodus.co.uk

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Leading

lights Seeing the Northern Lights is on most client’s bucket list. But how do you go about selling something that can’t be guaranteed? Mark Stratton finds out

View the northern lights from a glass igloo in FINLAND

A

s if the frozen lake at Inari, criss-crossed by ski-tracks, wasn’t beautiful enough during daylight. By night, in anaerobic blackness, the show begins. I’m lucky because it’s a cloudless night, although my thermometer is reading a biting -10ºC when I leave my cosy cabin, swaddled against the cold, around 9pm. I scrunch in the snow around the lake’s edge, my breath condensing like a puffing steam-engine. I aim for a wider view of the horizon away from the surrounding pine-forests. Although, within a short while, as my eyes adjust, aurora borealis – the Northern Lights – appears around me. Mostly, they are green lights. At first, a band of streaks begin shapeshifting into a phantasmagorical display. This collision of solar charged particles and atmospheric atoms goes haywire. I see an eerie silvery rectangle form while a celestial shower resembles a firework display Guy Fawkes could never replicate. At times, the whole velvety darkness wobbles as the green streaks reassemble in different quadrants across the sky. After two absorbing hours, setting

up long-exposure shots from my camera tripod, my fingers are icenumbingly cold. The aurora will be seen throughout the night but for now the warmth of my woodburner beckons.

Time to shine To see aurora borealis, head to the high latitudes within the Arctic Circle, where solar activity is at its highest close to the North Pole and made visible by winter’s lack of daylight. The most popular region to witness the aurora is the Scandinavian countries of Sweden, Norway and Finland, plus Iceland, as they share long dark winters. Aurora is an experience of a lifetime but it’s worth advising the weather gods need to be on your side because cloud cover will obscure them. Hence a stay of three or four nights gives visitors higher odds of seeing them. Now is a good time to attract families for the February halfterm and there are many funky ways to experience the lights: from a dogsled driven by huskies to overnighting in a glass igloo. “After almost two years with no opportunity to travel, people seem to want to push the boat out, especially

on bucket list trips like the Northern Lights,” says Andrea Godfrey, ProductManager of Regent Holidays. “We’re seeing a surge in bookings for Northern Lights trips, to Iceland predominately, followed by Finland and Norway. Now that fully-vaccinated Brits can enter Sweden, we are receiving requests for 2022,” says Godfrey. “We’re seeing a demand too for upmarket hotels, like The Retreat in Iceland, and private excursions, such as super-jeep trips into the wild”. Finland: “Finland is undeservedly overlooked as a Northern Lights destination, but you are as likely to see the aurora from here as you are from its near neighbours,” says Alistair McLean, MD of The Aurora Zone. “The Finns are at the forefront of aurora hunting, guiding, and accommodation. There are more glass igloos and cabins with huge north-facing windows in Finland than all the other destinations combined”. The Aurora Zone offers its own threenight ‘glass igloo escape’ in Finnish Lapland at Saariselkä, from £1,545pp. Visit Finland, meanwhile, is hosting a B2B ‘Five Countries’ workshop on February 8, 2022 in the

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40 / Northern lights

“We’re seeing a surge in bookings for Northern Lights trips, to Iceland predominately, followed by Finland and Norway” Andrea Godfrey, Regent Holidays

Northern lights by night and natural spectacles by day in Iceland

SWEDEN is a good family-friendly recommendation

Hurtigruten offers a Northern Lights promise on its cruises

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Feeling free in FINLAND

UK that also includes Iceland. Agencies can schedule meetings with local service providers at fivecountriesworkshop.com. top tip: A helpful tool to decipher when aurora borealis will appear and the intensity of the display is a downloadable Finnish app, Aurora Alert. Auroras are typically seen in 15-60 minute bursts, and this product is fun and enables visitors to be in the right place at the right time. See auroraalert.fi Sweden: Besides outstanding sightings in its Lapland wilderness, Sweden offers exceptional accommodation with the likes of its renowned Ice Hotel at Jukkasjärvi and is a very family-friendly destination to see the aurora. North of the Gulf of Bothnia visitors can watch the Northern Lights at the Treehotel – an extraordinary collection of treehouse accommodation, including one shaped like a UFO. Meanwhile Brändön Lodge has many child-friendly activities ranging from forest forays learning about the Sámi people to rides on sleds pulled by huskies. The fabulous Arctic Bath, a collection of floating lodges on the Lule River, is Sweden’s latest luxury offering to tempt wintertime’s aurora watchers. REGENT HOLIDAYS Regent Holidays sell a four-night break

called Abisko, with Abisko National Park rated as one of the best places to see the Northern Lights due to its exceptionally dry climate. The £1,480pp cost includes flights, B&B accommodation in Abisko, and a magical Arctic train journey from Kiruna. Regent-holidays.co.uk Norway: Norway offers the most dramatic backdrop of all the Northern Lights destinations, not least its majestic fjords and remote island chains like Lofoten, where minimal light pollution ensures the aurora is pristine when cloudless against a dark canvas. Dogsledding, snowshoe hikes, and whale safaris provide day-time distractions while Norway offers five-star aurora-breaks with style at the likes of the luxurious Wolf Lodge in the far north, where guests can encounter wolves. And good news for those selling Northern Lights cruises this winter along the fjords: Hurtigruten is upping its fleet’s capacity as the Norwegian government eases Covid-19 restrictions. Hurtigruten With seven departures between October 2022 and February 2023, Hurtigruten will sail direct from Dover to the Norwegian coast above and below the

Arctic Circle. The cruise line’s Northern Lights Promise assures that if the aurora doesn’t occur passengers are entitled to a free voyage. The 15-day cruise onboard MS Maud is priced from £3,059pp. hurtigruten.co.uk Iceland: Although it is geographically the most remote, Iceland offers the most accessible Northern Lights experience. For example, clients can fly into Keflavik Airport on the geothermally spectacular Reykjanes Peninsular and within 20 minutes be ensconced at Northern Lights Inn, a high-quality lodge popular with the UK market. A real treat for guests is the nearby proximity for the famous Blue Lagoon geothermal pool and wellness centre. The lights can be seen pretty much across the island. If natural wonders are your client’s thing, then recommend the erupting Fagraldsfjall Volcano: it’s a convenient 30 minutes from Keflavik Airport. OMEGA BREAKS Adding astronomical expertise to two of its Iceland and the Northern Lights tours for 2022, Omega Breaks has enlisted Pete Lawrence from BBC’s The Sky at Night. The five-day tours start from £799pp and include flights and hotel. Omegabreaks.com •

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Winter 2021/22

READY FOR A NORTHERN LIGHTS ADVENTURE? Northern Lights and Fjords Expedition Cruise from Dover

Northern Lights Promise #

This is the Norwegian winter adventure your clients have been waiting for. Sailing from Dover on MS Maud, they’ll visit cosy coastal communities and search Arctic skies for the magical Northern Lights.

If the aurora borealis do not appear on your client’s winter cruise to Norway, we will give them a 6 or 7-day Classic Voyage FREE OF CHARGE.

15-day itinerary Day 1 Day 2 Day 3 Day 4 Day 5 Day 6 Day 7

Dover At sea Stavanger Ålesund Brønnøysund Reine and Svolvær Tromsø

Day 8 Day 9 Day 10 Day 11 Day 12 Day 13 Day 14 Day 15

North Cape, Honningsvåg Finnsnes / Senja At Sea Kristiansund and Molde Bergen At sea Calais Dover

Call us on 0203 553 1788 | Visit Hurtigruten.co.uk *Book with Confidence policy: Free rebooking or future cruise credit, valid on new bookings made by 31 Dec 2021, for departures on or before 30 June 2022. See hurtigruten.co.uk/offers/ book-with-confidence †Guaranteed Price Offer: valid on selected departure dates between until 9 March 2022 – see hurtigruten.co.uk /offers/dover-winter-2021 for full offer terms and conditions. #Northern Lights Promise: see hurtigruten.co.uk/offers/nlp for full terms and conditions.© Piotr Krzeslak; Tor Even Mathisen; Nicole Taylor/Hurtigruten

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Book with Confidence

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Svolvær Reine Lofoten E 66°33 'N ARCT IC CIRCL

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Norway Expedition Cruises Guaranteed Price Offer† – book by 30 November 2021/22 departures: 2021

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Be Inspired

44 / Top ten

Small ship

expedition cruising Sailing to some of the most remote parts of the world, these small ship expedition cruises allow passengers to get closer to the action, says Jessica Pook

The Austral Islands: Specialising in cruising French Polynesia, Aranui Cruises will sail the Austral islands, an archipelago south of Tahiti, in 2022. The new 11-day cruise onboard Aranui 5 will visit four of the islands, including Raivavae, with its Bora Bora-like beaches, and Rapa, the most southerly inhabited island of French Polynesia. Passengers will also join villagers for traditional dances or watch Humpback Whales from August to October. The cruise costs from £4,271pp and includes accommodation, meals, and excursions. aranui.com Africa and the Ivory Coast: An 11-night wildlife and cultural discovery of Africa and the Ivory Coast with Crystal Cruises introduces guests to the wilderness and histories of Africa’s lesser-known western shores. Departing April 5, 2022, Crystal Endeavor will sail from

Tema, Ghana to Dakar, Senegal, stopping at Takoradi in Ghana, Abidjan in Côte d’Ivoire, Monrovia in Liberia, Freetown and Tokeh in Sierra Leone and Banjul in Gambia. Cruise-only prices start from £8,516pp for a Deluxe Suite. crystalcruises.co.uk Great Barrier Reef, Australia: Coral Expeditions has launched a series of new seven-night round-trip sailings onboard Coral Discoverer from Cairns, Australia. The nature-based expeditions will take small groups to explore the outer reefs and lesser-known islands of the Great Barrier Reef under the guidance of an expert team. Passengers will also have the chance to learn about indigenous culture in Cooktown and sip sundowners on uninhabited islands. Prices start from £3,743pp with sailings in 2022 and 2023. coralexpeditions.com Raja Ampat and West Papua Islands: Aurora Expeditions is hosting a

14-night itinerary to Raja Ampat and West Papua Islands in Indonesia from September 2022. Priced from £10,110pp, Sylvia Earle will transport passengers between the 1,500 tiny forested islands scattered throughout the archipelago. Passengers can dive and snorkel in rich coral reefs, go in search of over 500 species of bird and enjoy a melting pot of cultures. auroraexpeditions.co.uk Norwegian fjords: New cruise line Havila Voyages has designed its ships to be the most environmentally friendly vessels to operate along the Norwegian coastal route. The ships – one still to arrive this year and three more in 2022 – will be fitted with the world’s largest battery packs, meaning they can sail through fjords for up to four hours, quietly and emission free. During the voyage, the ships pass through four UNESCO Heritage sites, cross the Arctic circle twice and offer the chance to see the

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Northern lights or Midnight Sun. Departing December 2021, the six-day Voyage South from Kirkenes to Bergen costs from £568pp (cruise-only). havilavoyages.com Galapagos: Silversea offers a seven-day all-inclusive cruise around the Galapagos Islands onboard Silver Origin, starting from £8,190pp, with a 10% early booking bonus. Fares includes all flights, a two-night pre-cruise hotel stay in Quito, an evening tour of Quito’s historic city highlights, overseas transfers between airport, hotel and ship; and guided Zodiac, land and sea tours to see the rich and diverse wildlife. The cruise departs from September 3 - 10, 2022. silversea.com Arctic: VIVA Cruises’ first expedition ship, Seaventure, will be running new Arctic cruises from April to October 2022. One of the highlights is ‘Eternal Ice of the Arctic’ – a 24-day voyage from/to

Bremerhaven (Germany), priced from £6,500pp and departing on June 16. Seaventure will sail through the Shetland Islands before making its way to Greenland. Passengers will have the chance to see icebergs as well as spot humpback, minke and fin whales. viva-cruises.com Russia: Hurtigruten Expeditions’ new 17-day Expedition Cruise to the White Sea will sail north along the Norwegian coast, taking passengers to one of the least-visited parts of Russia. The itinerary combines modern-day Russian cities and historic ports with expedition landings to rarely visited villages. The expert team will offer an insight into the history and culture of the destinations. Priced from £5,592pp, MS Spitsbergen will depart Bergen, Norway, on October 6, 2022. hurtigruten.co.uk Amazon River, Peru: For something extra special, clients can charter their

45

own expedition ship which has been custom-built to explore the Peruvian Amazon. Daily excursions conducted by naturalist guides include piranha fishing, trekking into the dense jungle in search of Amazon monkeys and three-toed sloths and visiting Pacaya-Samiria National Reserve. Rates for a three-night private charter for up to 32 passengers onboard Aria Amazon start from £84,342. aquaexpeditions.com Svalbard and Franz Josef Land: Regent Holidays’ 14-day Longyearbyen & Franz Josef Land cruise onboard M/V Sea Spirit will explore some of the 191 islands that make up the Franz Josef Land Archipelago – 85% of which is glaciated. Highlights include passing icebergs, visiting Victorian expedition settlements and spotting narwhals. Departing July and August 2022, the trip is priced at £11,290pp. regent-holidays.co.uk

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46 / Bright ideas

BORNEO The Southeast Asian island of Borneo is home to some of the world’s most diverse rainforests. Listen to the call of gibbons and peek through vines to see orangutans swinging in the trees on an adventure in Danum Valley. Meet the indigenous Murat people before staying at a hidden beach retreat for the ultimate detox from modern life. experiencetravelgroup.com

SAUDI ARABIA AlUla, a destination steeped in 200,000 years of history, started to welcome tour visitors at the end of 2019. It’s also an adventurers dream, offering private helicopter tours over rock formations, zip-lining and jeep safaris over sand-swept dunes and tours of ancient dwellings. wildfrontierstravel.com

peru Take the path less travelled by passing through the Urubamba Valley – the Sacred Valley of the Incas – and the remote trails of the Lares region, to meet traditional farmers and their herds of alpacas. Travellers will hike from one mountain lodge to another, before culminating in an early morning visit to the citadel of Machu Picchu. rainbowtours.co.uk

AUSTRALIA Rise early to experience the ethereal Field of Light art installation at an exclusive sunrise viewing platform in the Australian Outback. Watch the desert awaken as the rising sun lights up Uluru. Gain insights into the culture, history, art and traditions of the Aboriginal caretakers of the land on a tour of the base of Uluru and walk deep into Walpa Gorge. Finish the day with a sunset over the rusty red domes of Kata Tjuta. trafalgar.com

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Be inspired Bright ideas /

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TURKEY Images of its honey-coloured rocky spires and balloon-filled skies have put Turkey’s Cappadocia on the map. Be sure to recommend clients visit in April during the Cappadox Festival, and ride in one of the hot air balloons. Visit the underground city of Saratli and stay in a hotel room carved from rock, which offers extensive views of the fairy chimneys. argosincappadocia.com

MalDIVES Clients can stay in one of Pullman Maldives Maamutaa Resort’s two exclusive Aqua Villas bedrooms and sleep submerged beneath the turquoise waters, waking to a passing reef shark or sea turtle. As an island resort, this is a must for those who love marine life. There are also ample opportunities for scuba diving and snorkelling in blue lagoons. pullmanmaldivesmaamutaa.com

TANZANIA The Serengeti is the home of the greatest annual wildlife spectacle on earth: the Great Migration. Taking place between July-November, over a million wildebeest cross the Mara River annually in search of green pastures. Enjoy Swahili cuisine and go in search of tree-climbing lions on an afternoon drive through the Lake Manyara National Park. trafalgar.com

CALIFORNIA One of the USA’s iconic road trips, clients can start by touring celebrity homes in LA’s Beverly Hills before driving along the Pacific Coast Highway with dramatic views of the ocean. Look out for orca and humpback whales on a boat tour from Monterey before touring Alcatraz and cycling across the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco. audleytravel.com

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Trade talk

Sponsored by: JA Resorts & Hotels and Elevate DMCh Supported by: Charitable Travel Fund

48 / Show report INDIAN OCEAN & Middle East

Reuniting the world Selling Travel was the media partner at the Virtual ReUnite Indian Ocean and Middle East event. Here’s the latest news from both regions...

New Emerald for Maldives Described as a “a new luxury island destination”, Emerald Faarufushi Resort & Spa is due to open in the Maldives in May 2022. Situated in the Maldives’ Raa Atoll, the seven-hectare private island will feature 80 villas, split into six different categories: Beach Villas (10), Family Villas with Pool (10), Beach Villas with Pool (17), Water Villa with Pool (39), Superior Water Villa with Pool (3) and one Presidential Villa located on the island’s private beach. Guests will be able to enjoy unlimited dining experiences at five restaurants, plus complimentary non-motorised water sports as part of Emerald’s signature Deluxe All-Inclusive offering. The resort will also feature a Balinese spa and, a kids’

club which is currently in development. The resort will have a barefoot elegance feel, with a design that complements and pays homage to the natural Maldivian surroundings. This will mark Emerald’s second property in the Maldivian archipelago. emerald-maldives.com

Qatar’s FIFA countdown Qatar is adding 105 new hotels and serviced apartments to its portfolio of properties, in preparation for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022. Part of the ‘Qatar Tourism Strategy 2030’ , the country aims to grow annual international visitor arrivals three-fold to reach 6 million by 2030, making it the fastest growing destination in the Middle East in terms of international visitors. New theme parks, shops and leisure projects are also part of the project. visitqatar.qa

Foodie focus for Jumeirah Jumeirah Hotels & Resorts has launched a global promotion for guests to enjoy complimentary breakfast and a choice of lunch or dinner across over 25 restaurants in Dubai. Eligible across seven of Jumeirah Hotels &

Resorts’ Dubai properties, as well as Souk Madinat Jumeirah, the Jumeirah Flavours offer is valid for stays until December 25, 2021. Guests will also receive privileges and access to wellness and family experiences. jumeirah.com

NEWS IN BRIEF • Air Mauritius takes off Air Mauritius is scheduled to operate return flights from Heathrow to Mauritius through until October 29, 2022 onboard a new Airbus A330-neo. The resumption of flights coincides with Phase 2 of the reopening of the borders, allowing vaccinated travellers to enter Mauritius without restrictions upon presentation of a negative PCR test. airmauritius.com

• Banyan to debut in Qatar Banyan Tree is scheduled to launch its first resort in the Middle East n Q4 2021,- Banyan Tree Doha At La Cigale Mushaireb. Located in Qatar, in the heart of Mushaireb, the 341-room urban luxury resort will sit within the Doha Oasis project. It will feature the signature Banyan Tree Spa with a Rainforest hydrotherapy facility and Vertigo, a 28-storey rooftop bar. banyantree.com

• Anantara adds pool villas Anantara Iko Mauritius Resort & Villas is set to unveil its Twoand Four-Bedroom Anantara Pool Villas, designed for multigenerational holidays. Located on the southeast coast of Mauritius, the new villas will “combine modernity with indigenous design”. anantara.com

• Accor for Ras Al Khaimah Accor is expanding its luxury portfolio in the UAE with the introduction of the Sofitel brand in Al Hamra, Ras Al Khaimah. Set to open in 2023, the 300-room resort will be set alongside a private beach and an 18-hole golf course. group.accor.com

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49

news

Industry sees USA surge News that fully vaccinated UK travellers will be able to return to the US, which has been closed since March 2020, has boosted consumer confidence, says the travel industry. From November 8, travellers will have to provide proof of vaccination and present proof of a negative Covid test taken within three days of departure. Since the announcement, airlines have seen “bookings rocket” with Virgin Atlantic reporting a 600% increase. The airline said that New York had the most bookings of any US city, with “Orlando flights up 11 fold, Miami 9 fold and Las Vegas 8 fold.” ABTA spoke of hopes for a winter bookings peak, saying: “The USA is by far our most popular long haul destination and in a normal year attracts almost five million visitors from the UK. The announcement has come in time to allow people to take the ever popular Christmas shopping trips to New York and is a very welcome boost for the winter sports market whose customers love the country’s high quality ski resorts.” Julia Simpson, WTTC President & CEO, added: “WTTC strongly advocates for fully vaccinated travellers to be able to travel freely and safely, and for unvaccinated travellers to be able to do so with testing,

and enhanced health and safety protocols.” Joanne Dooey, president of The Scottish Passenger Agents’ Association (SPAA), the professional body for travel agents and the travel sector in Scotland, said: “America is one of the most significant markets for Scottish travel agents, so news that double vaccinated Scots will soon be able to travel to the USA once again to visit friends and family and for holidays is a huge boost.” Steve Norris, MD of EMEA for Flight Centre believes this to be a huge turning point for the travel industry. He said: “Pre-Covid, 15% of Flight Centre’s annual bookings were to the US, and have our agents prepped and ready to help Brits cross the pond for the first time in 18-months.”

Kuoni expands in Europe Kuoni, known for luxury long-haul trips to destinations such as the Maldives, Caribbean and Thailand, is turning its focus to Europe by launching its biggest range of luxury short-haul holidays - expanding into regions it has never previously sold. The move is designed to strengthen Kuoni’s position for special occasion travel around the world, particularly honeymoons. Around 30% of all Kuoni’s bookings for 2022 are for honeymoons, with lots of couples re-booking after cancelled wedding plans resulting from lockdown restrictions. As a result, the operator says the average honeymoon booking value has risen by 13% from £7,985 in 2019 to £9,045 for 2022.

Multi-centre coast, culture and countryside itineraries in Europe with private transfers or car hire in between locations, is something Kuoni plans to step up, moving beyond holidays which are just fly and flop. In Italy, Kuoni has introduced 12 new hotels, with new options in Tuscany including Siena for the first time, one of Italy’s bestpreserved medieval towns. Other Tuscan retreats have also been chosen to offer off-the-beaten-track experiences from truffle hunting to cookery classes, to create holidays with a blend of city culture and authentic Italian lifestyle. A further 31 hotels feature in other destinations throughout the Mediterranean. kuoni.co.uk

NEWS IN BRIEF • Canada to Connect agents Destination Canada and its key industry partners will join forces to host a special ‘fast track’ event for agents on November 23. Called ‘Canada Connect’, the event will also see the launch of Destination Canada’s refreshed Canada Specialist Program (CSP). Running from 14.00 to 19.00, the interactive format will offer agents the chance to win some great prizes - and take an event selfie. canadaspecialists.co.uk

• Caman ends restrictions The Cayman Islands will allow vaccinated travellers who are securely verified to enter without quarantine from November 20. This will mark phase four of the Caribbean island’s reopening programme. visitcaymanislands.com

• Aer Lingus gets direct Aer Lingus’ Manchester to Barbados flight signals the start of the airline’s first ever non-stop transatlantic connections from the UK. Travellers can now enjoy three weekly flights to Barbados from Manchester until the end of April. From December 1, Aer Lingus will begin operating its first non-stop direct flights from Manchester to New York’s JFK airport. aerlingus.com

• Qatar’s Doha package Qatar Airways has launched a new stopover package offering up to a four night stay in Doha. Starting at $14 (approximately £10)pp per night, travellers can stay in a selection of four-star and five-star hotels. qatarairways.com

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Globe hopping How to sell... /

news

Newmarket tour sale

MEET... Mary Quinn Ramer President Lexington CVB (VisitLEX)

Equine Kentucky Explain Kentucky’s link to equine? Central Kentucky grows strong, fast, powerful horses from the ground up thanks to a limestone shelf that sits just under the surface of the land. This added calcium is the perfect fuel for growing racehorses. The countryside surrounding Lexington features more than 450 horse farms and is where champion horses are bred, born, raised, trained, bought, sold and retired!

Can visitors see the horses in action? Equine competition is found in Lexington throughout the year, however April and October offer live thoroughbred racing at Keeneland Racecourse. Visitors and locals alike enjoy celebrating the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs in Louisville, which offers the chance to watch and wager on the races, enjoy delicious cuisine, and taste a mint julep while showing off the best in Derby fashion. Book a table in one of the dining rooms, secure reserved grandstand seats, or purchase general admission tickets - just be sure to do it in advance!

Newmarket Holidays has announced a new campaign for 2022 to coincide with the simplification of travel and testing rules. Clients can now receive up to a 10% discount on Newmarket Holidays’ European and Worldwide tours, departing in 2022. The 10% saving is for holidays and tours departing from January 1 to June 30, 2022, and a 5% saving from July 1 to December 31, 2022. Richard Forde, Head of Trade Sales, said: “With consumer confidence returning, we felt now was the perfect time to launch this offer which should help agents capitalise on demand and close sales with substantial discounts for 2022. Many customers are feeling confident to commit to 2022 plans but they still want to get value for money.” newmarketholidays.co.uk

Intrepid bikes USA

Can the public get close to the horses? Horse Country, Inc. offers tours throughout the year from nursery farms to stallion complexes to equine hospitals. Visitors can also saddle up on a horseback riding adventure, visit the International Museum of the Horse and watch the Parade of Breeds show at the Kentucky Horse Park. Each spring, it hosts a three-day Land Rover Kentucky event, attracting competitors from across the world. visithorsecountry.com

Intrepid Travel has added to its range of US cycling holidays. Four cycling tours have been added in Utah’s Bryce Canyon and Zion National Parks, Maine and Acadia National Park, Washington’s San Juan Islands and California’s Sonoma and the Napa Valley. The following six-day USA tours depart from April 2022: Cycle Sonoma and the Napa Valley from £1,765pp; Cycle Utah: Bryce and Zion National Parks from £1,765pp; Cycle Maine and Acadia National Park from £1,815pp, and Cycle Washington’s San Juan Islands from £1,765pp. Expanding its range of cycling holidays is part of Intrepid’s efforts to decarbonise its trips. intrepidtravel.com

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news

ABTA calls for grants

ABTA has urged the travel industry to persist in applying for as much as £300m in unspent Additional Restrictions Grant funding. Travel agents in England are eligible to apply, and many have been successful in securing funding during the pandemic. Business owners should get in touch with their local council in a bid to secure funding for their company. There are no restrictions on the number of grants a business can receive, with Government advice encouraging local authorities to focus support on ‘those sectors that remain closed or are severely impacted by the extended restrictions, even if those businesses have already been in receipt of Restart Grants.’ Luke Petherbridge, ABTA’s Director of Public Affairs, said: “While the relaxation of a number of restrictions means that things are starting to look up for international travel – the majority of our Members have been starved of cash over the last 18 months. Which is why we are urging them to pursue the Additional Restrictions Grant funding.“ abta.com

Thailand reopens Fully vaccinated UK travellers can now visit Thailand without quarantine restrictions. According to the tourism arm of the Thai Government - nearly one million UK tourists visited Thailand in 2019 - generating an estimated £1.5 billion - but that dropped to just over 220,000 in 2020, and declined further to just thousands in 2021. Yuthasak Supasorn, CEO of Tourism Authority of Thailand said: “We’ve spent this period of down time preparing for international tourism restarting. Since July 2021 our Sandbox program paved the way for a safe, controlled, measured return which has led to us, as of today, confidently re-opening to 46 countries without quarantine restrictions.” tourismthailand.org

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