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Issue 56 January/February 2014 £2.75

International visitors reveal UK wishlists By Christina Eccles A NIGHT out in Newcastle, a cosy meal in a Welsh pub and a trip to the Harry Potter Studios are all on the wishlists of Britain’s international visitors, according to a study, which reveals how these activities sit alongside traditional favourites. A VisitBritain poll offered 10,000 potential visitors from 19 countries a pre-defined list of 18 ‘only in Britain’ dream activities. And although respondents were most inclined to go for a top three of Buckingham Palace, viewing London from the Shard or London Eye and visiting Edinburgh Castle, many more of the country’s hidden gems and activities also cropped up. Key findings included:  Visitors from most of Britain’s major inbound markets ranked Buckingham Palace first including Americans, Russians and Chinese.  Catching a panoramic view from the top of the Shard or London Eye was second choice for one of our fastest growing markets, South Korea.  Visiting Edinburgh Castle was particularly appealing to the established markets of USA, Canada, Australia and Italy who placed it second.  The 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, along with

VisitBritain’s marketing of Britain as a destination with attractive natural scenic beauty, seems to have changed perceptions of Britain’s countryside as all countryside-based ‘dream activities’ attractions were ranked highly by respondents.  The influence of film tourism is becoming more evident, with the Harry Potter Studio Tour becoming a top 10 ‘dream’ attraction for the French, Japanese, Mexicans and South Koreans.  Long haul and emerging markets have a tendency to stick to London attractions, whereas more mature tourism markets such as Germany and France want to explore and venture out across the country. Chief executive of VisitBritain Sandie Dawe said: “Britain is a tourism destination that offers experiences for every taste. Where else in the world can you watch a topflight Premier League game in the same afternoon as a tour around a quaint Cotswold village? From visiting Edinburgh Castle or dinner in a cosy Welsh pub to a tour of Harry Potter’s Hogwarts followed by a night on the tiles in Newcastle – we have something for the world to enjoy. Our mixture of new culture and old heritage combines seamlessly to offer a unique experience which is envied across the world.”

Secretary of State for culture, media and sport Maria Miller has visited Shanghai to announce details of a major campaign to make Britain the most welcoming European destination for Chinese visitors. At the event, she also announced that Birmingham Airport and CAISSA – supporters of the China Welcome campaign – are working together to increase the number of Chinese visitors CAISSA brings into the UK, with the development of new holiday packages and special initiatives to welcome visitors to the heart of Shakespeare’s England. For full story see Page 5

Holiday parks going for gold A NEW gold award for holiday parks, assessed by Quality in Tourism, has been launched by VisitEngland. The award has been created to recognise increased levels of quality in England and can be given to four and five star holiday parks who excel in providing a quality holiday experience to tourists. There are specific criteria to meet to ensure a park qualifies for the new award, for example, having to score 90 per cent or over for cleanliness is just one of the ways a gold award park

stands out from other parks in the UK. Director of policy and quality at Quality in Tourism Gary Swarbrooke said: “The response we have had from park owners has been fantastic. “Everyone is really happy that they qualified for the award, and even happier that it makes their park stand out for all the right reasons. “Having a gold award shows potential guests that your park offers high quality as standard.”




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City reveals best figures YORK’S tourism agency, Visit York, has released its best figures for visits to the city’s attractions since records began. Since the start of 2013, visits to York’s largest attractions – including the National Railway Museum, York Minster, Jorvik and the York Dungeon – have increased eight per cent, compared to the same period in 2012, from 2,100,901 in 2012 to 2,485,133 in 2013 (January – October). Smaller attractions also fared well last summer, with two per cent growth in August, 13 per cent growth in September and three per cent in October. Events such as Mallard 75 at the National Railway Museum, the Orb and Undercroft at York Minster, Richard III artefacts at the Yorkshire Museum and the popularity of outdoor attractions, such as

YorkBoat, during the summer heat wave, have all led to the city’s best tourism figures in over a decade. The good news continued into October, with York’s largest attractions demonstrating double digit growth for the fourth month in a row. In September 2013, there were 18 per cent more visits to attractions than in September 2012, taking the results for quarter three (July, August and September) to record levels for both the hotels and the large attractions sector. According to figures, footfall to York’s Visitor Information Centre at 1 Museum Street is also strong, with a 14 per cent increase in the number of visitors through the door in October 2013 compared to October 2012 and a nine per cent growth year on year, for the three months of July, August and September, a total of 165,649

visitors to the centre during this period. Head of Visit York Kate McMullen said: “We’re delighted with these fantastic figures. The increase in occupancy levels demonstrates a strong trend for visitors to stay for two or more nights. York is performing very well and attracting visitors from all across the UK and overseas. We are fortunate that businesses continually develop new exhibitions and events to help us in our marketing of the city.” Events planned in York over the coming months include the Grand Depart of the Tour de France coming to the city and a 100 day Cultural Festival in the lead up to this. York will also benefit from a £1.7m investment in a new exhibition at the Castle Museum; ‘1914: When the World Changed Forever.’ A party of group travel organisers and coach tour operators got the chance to preview one of London’s most spectacular ice rinks, Skate at Somerset House. Up until January 5, groups could take part in skating sessions, as well as adding extras such as champagne and chocolates, dinner at Tom’s Kitchen or even a luxury stay at The Savoy.

Contacts EDITORIAL Judith Halkerston group editor 01226 734639 Christina Eccles reporter 01226 734463 Dominic Musgrave reporter 01226 734407

PRODUCTION Stewart Holt – studio manager – Laura Blackburn – graphic designer

ADVERTISING Siu Lon Wong product manager 01226 734482 Tony Barry sales and marketing director 01226 734605

CIRCULATION Kelly Tarff 01226 734695 Web:





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Manchester’s best are recognised at ceremony THE best of Greater Manchester’s tourism industry has been recognised at a top awards ceremony at the Lowry in Salford Quays. Winners at the Manchester Tourism Awards included Manchester United Museum and Stadium Tour – named large visitor attraction of the year – and The Radisson Blu Edwardian Free Trade Hall, which walked away with the trophy for Hotel of the Year. Chief executive of Marketing Manchester Andrew Stokes said: “It’s been another exceptional year for tourism in Greater Manchester and these awards are our chance to recognise some of the organisations, venues and individuals that go that extra mile to increase standards across the region. “I’m delighted for all of the winners who will now be able to go on and compete on behalf of Greater Manchester at a national level at the VisitEngland Awards for Excellence competition.”

Themed tours to be tailored PENSHURST Place and Gardens has created a range of new group tour options for 2014. For the first time, groups will have the option to tailor their house tour by special interest, with themes on offer including portraiture; needlework and textiles; furniture; architecture; art and its politics; porcelain and china or medieval life. General manager Ben Thomas said: “We are pleased to introduce the option of themed tours tailored to focus on the needs of individual groups. “Our group visitors have said this is something they would like to see available so we have responded to their requests with the introduction of this exciting new range of specialist subjects, available at no extra charge.”

Brilliant Moments drive featuring ‘real’ people A PARAMEDIC, wildlife ranger, chef, swimmer, youth golfer and a whisky ambassador will join sixtime Olympic champion and Glasgow 2014 Ambassador, Sir Chris Hoy, to inspire the world to make Scotland their top destination in 2014 in a new multi-million pound marketing drive. The £5.3m VisitScotland Brilliant Moments campaign includes a £3m investment in TV involving ‘real’ people reading a specially penned poem, against a backdrop of dramatic Scottish locations. As a surprise element, three well known faces deliver the final line of the poem in different versions of the advert, designed to promote the headline events of 2014 – Homecoming Scotland, the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow and the Ryder Cup at Gleneagles. Sir Chris Hoy will deliver the final line within the 30-second master TV advert and also within the

Commonwealth Games-specific version. Scottish musician and Classic Brit Award winner Nicola Benedetti will feature in the version which highlights the year of Homecoming. And Ryder Cup captain Paul McGinley will deliver the final line of the advert to promote this epic golf tournament at Gleneagles. The advert will play on television screens throughout 2014, and will also reach new international audiences through social media and e-communication. Alongside the TV campaign, VisitScotland will run extensive marketing activity including direct mail, sales promotion, print advertising, e-communications, social media and PR, all with a Brilliant Moments theme. First Minister Alex Salmond said: “2014 is a great year for Scotland – one full of brilliant moments – the Ryder Cup, Commonwealth Games and the second Year of

Homecoming. “The XX Commonwealth Games will be the biggest multi-sport event Scotland has ever hosted and the Ryder Cup will boldly reinforce our status as 'The Home of Golf', both events displaying Scotland as the perfect stage during our Year of Homecoming 2014. “The Brilliant Moments campaign showcases Scotland as a mustsee holiday destination but it’s also about Scots enjoying events right on our doorstep. We want to see your brilliant moments by sharing them with us on social media, using #BrilliantMoments. 2014 will provide an ideal opportunity to inspire and engage people of all generations – from the Ring of Brodgar to the National Museum of Scotland. “We’re creating a lasting legacy for the visitor economy: a lasting legacy for Scotland that is tangible, visible and carries with it long-term benefit.”

Lake District guide especially for coach drivers


ORGANISERS planning group visits to the Lake District now have better access to information including a new bite-size guide for coach drivers. The refreshed Coach Drivers’ Map and Guide provides essential information to coach operators, from details on coach parking and public toilets across the county, to advice on roads to avoid (due to sharp bends, steep gradients or restricted width).

Produced by the £6.9m GoLakesTravel programme in conjunction with Cumbria County Council, it’s part of a wider push to reduce carbon emissions and safeguard the environment by influencing people to make fewer car journeys while visiting the region. Alongside the guide, GoLakes Travel has re-launched a website:, to

bring together all the basic information that group travel organisers need to inspire a diverse range of themed visits – including arts and culture, history and heritage, food and drink, and the great outdoors. The website lists contacts for attractions, accommodation, and food and drink businesses who welcome group visits. Programme manager for the

GoLakes Travel programme Claire Maclaine said: “The Lake District, Cumbria is a great location for group visits, with many attractions offering special discounts and deals for pre-booked groups. Our aim is to inspire group travel organisers and to give them basic, high quality – and up-to-date information in one central place, as a starting point for some fantastic visits to this iconic landscape.”




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Lumiere draws the visitors ABOUT 179,000 visitors flocked to the streets of Derry~Londonderry over four nights to see the UK City of Culture’s light festival – Lumiere – which was sponsored by Northern Ireland Electricity. Organised by Artichoke, the festival transformed the local area into a giant outdoor art gallery, with light installations taking place all over the city. Artichoke’s co-director Helen Marriage said: “Producing Lumiere Derry~Londonderry has been an extraordinary experience. “The people of Derry~Londonderry have embraced Lumiere with open arms. Their response has far exceeded our expectations and we’ve loved every minute of it.”

China Welcome campaign to be launched By Christina Eccles SECRETARY of state for culture, media and sport, Maria Miller, has announced an initiative to make Britain the most welcoming destination in Europe for Chinese visitors. VisitBritain’s China Welcome campaign, which is launching in the Spring of 2014, will showcase, promote and develop how the UK travel industry caters to the needs of Chinese visitors. Founding members who have committed to the initiative – including Virgin Atlantic, Marketing Manchester, Marketing Birmingham, Bicester Village, Harrods and The Roman Baths in Bath – are already providing information in Mandarin, adapting their product offer and attracting a significant number of Chinese visitors as a result. VisitBritain will now work with businesses to build on this progress, sharing customer insights, raising cultural awareness and encouraging the training of qualified Mandarinspeaking guides – plus translated websites and visitor literature – to ensure that Chinese visitors to

Brochure showcases how simple it is to book

Britain get as much out of their trip as possible. The MP said: “Britain is very much open for business and this is just the beginning. We want businesses from up and down the country to get involved, sign up and be part of this new game-changing initiative. “The new ‘China Welcome’ initiative shows how serious we are about making sure Britain is ahead of the competition when it comes to attracting Chinese businesses and tourists. “We are determined to encourage more Chinese people come to our shores, enjoy our culture, heritage, food, sport, shopping, countryside and music and invest in our country.” CEO of VisitBritain Sandie Dawe added: “In the last 12 months, China has become the largest tourism source market in the world, worth $102b. We want to make sure that Britain competes effectively for this market, helping the industry to develop products and services that appeal to Chinese visitors and making sure that the message of the GREAT British welcome is widely promoted.”

SUPERBREAK has launched its second edition London Breaks brochure with a new design that aims to showcase how simple it is to book a break to the Capital. The edition includes 40 hotels – with more available online – and focuses on packaged products that include the hotel night, plus other elements that help agents to drive up booking values.

Buckinghamshire mansion Hedsor House lit up the night sky with its annual fireworks and fizz extravaganza. About 120 guests from local businesses and event agencies were treated to music and canapés before exclusive behind-the-scenes tours, detailing the history of the house, which dates back to 1166. It has recently been used as a filming venue for Dustin Hoffman’s hit film Quartet, where stars including Maggie Smith, Tom Courtney, Billy Connolly and Pauline Collins were regulars during three-month shoot.

Experience the Life of a Prisoner at Oxford Castle OXFORD Castle Unlocked has revealed plans for a series of events in 2014, allowing groups to explore the life of a prisoner. To launch the programme, the castle will also be adding a new police exhibit to its permanent exhibition – providing visitors with a unique insight into the Oxfordshire constabulary. Installed in February, the exhibition will feature a collection of artefacts donated by former Oxford police For the first time, the hotel pages have also been broken down into districts within London such as The City, the West End and Docklands, Excel and Greenwich. National sales manager Graham Balmforth said: “The new revamped brochure has a strong front cover which cries out to the customer exactly what the product is all about, and will certainly assist agents when

officer Phillip Haynes and will complement a series of events following the life of a prisoner. Groups sales manager Elizabeth Mounser said: “Oxford Castle Unlocked has always had a prison at its heart and was used as a place of incarceration for over 700 years, until the closure of Her Majesty’s Prison Oxford in 1996. In 2014 the castle’s Life of a Prisoner events and new police exhibition will really bring this to life for groups. it sits in their retail outlets. “The new layout is designed to demonstrate to customers just how easy it can be to book a London break. We major on our fully packaged products, which take the hassle out of booking separate elements, but of course agents can still create packages for their customers by adding together the various components that we offer.”





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Popular exhibition makes move to seafront location NOW recognised as one of the South West’s major exhibitions for group travel and coach party organisers, the 2014 South West Group Travel Show has moved to the Winter Gardens on Weston-Super-Mare’s seafront. Taking place on Saturday February 8 from 10am-2pm, the free exhibition will showcase a variety of fresh ideas for group days out and short breaks in the West Country, as well as South East England and beyond. Welcoming more than 200 visitors and featuring over 60 attractions, venues, destinations, tour operators and accommodation providers under one roof, the South West Group Travel Show is a great opportunity for organisers to discuss their group requirements face-to-face and discover new and exciting ideas for itineraries. Visitors and exhibitors will be able to explore the resort after the show and view the hotels and attractions. In particular, the Weston-super-Mare SeaQuarium is offering free admission and timed guided tours; tickets can only be collected from their stand, where they will also take bookings for the tours on a first come, first served basis. To meet demand, the number of free coach transfer services for

visitors to the show has been increased and now includes pickups from Cheltenham, Gloucester, Swindon, Chippenham, Bath, Torquay, Newton Abbot, Exeter, Cullompton, Taunton and Bristol. Coach operators are also being encouraged to bring key clients, who will receive fast track entry and enjoy a VIP welcome. A five day, four night familiarisation trip spanning East and South Devon and Cornwall is also being organised alongside the show. Starting from Tuesday February 4

with the final day spent at the exhibition. The packed itinerary costs £110pp and includes coach transfers to nine attractions; prearranged lunches and accommodation on a dinner, B&B basis at the Devonshire Hotel in Torquay for the duration of the trip, plus evening entertainment. A full itinerary can be found on the website. The South West Group Travel Show is organised by Tourism South East and Group Travel Organiser magazine.

2014 marks anniversary of Beatles’ filming


THE West Somerset Railway is England’s longest heritage railway, running steam trains between Bishops Lydeard (a village four miles from the county town of Somerset, Taunton) and Minehead. On the 20-mile journey, which takes around 80 minutes, the trains of 1950s’ carriages pass through the beautiful Quantock Hills and along the Exmoor coast. Amongst the destinations along the way are the ancient harbour town of Watchet, Cleeve Abbey at Washford and the medieval village of Dunster, overlooked by its 1000 year old castle. And 2014 also marks the 50th anniversary of the filming of the

Beatles’ film “A Hard Days Night” on the line including the sequence with Ringo riding a bike on the station platform, filmed at Crowcombe Heathfield station. At Minehead the beach is directly over the road from the station. Trains run on selected dates from February to the end of the year with daily running from mid-May to the start of October. There are regular special events during the year and a new development for 2014 is the Heritage Hunter App which can be downloaded to phones and tablets. More information and advanced booking details can be found at




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Excursions 2014 on track to be biggest yet at Alexandra Palace EXCURSIONS 2014, the UK’s premier one day group travel show on Saturday January 25, is on track to be the biggest and best show yet. Following its move into the Great Hall at Alexandra Palace, stands are almost sold out and visitor registrations are also up by about 20 per cent on the same time last year. Over 260 exhibitors from the UK, plus a stronger than ever presence from European tourism businesses, will be showcasing their group offer; these include attractions, destinations, tour and cruise operators, theatre booking agencies, accommodation and transport providers. To mark Excursions 10th anniversary show, many of the exhibitors will be joining in the special celebrations with cakes and sweet treats on their stands for visitors; there will also be extra goodies in the show welcome bags. Over 35 new exhibitors have taken space for the first time confirming

“We are delighted that our decision to move into the Great Hall on our 10th year at Alexandra Palace has been so warmly welcomed by both visitors and exhibitors alike and look forward to staging our best show yet.” the industry’s confidence in the show’s ability to perform. Among the attractions are the Chiltern Open Air Museum; Howletts and Port Lympne Wild Animal Park, Kent; North Norfolk’s Holkham Estate; The View from The Shard and the Arcelormittal Orbit in London’s Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. UK and international tour operators and hotels booking for the first time include Groups on Track, who specialise in days out at the races; HF Holidays; Majestic Tours; Interchoice Holidays and Iberostar Hotels and Resorts, plus several destinations including Gloucester, York and Dunkirk and French Flanders. Joint organiser Elaine Colley – travel trade manager from Tourism South East – said: “We are delighted that our decision to move into the Great Hall on our 10th year at Alexandra Palace has been so warmly welcomed by both visitors and exhibitors alike and look forward to staging our best show yet.” The dynamic new Excursions 2014 will be officially opened at 10.20am for 10.30am by Joey, the amazing life-sized puppet star of the acclaimed National Theatre production War Horse. It will also showcase an exciting array of new offers and benefits for visitors including a VIP Longleat Resort afternoon tea for group organisers invited to the show by their coach operators. The already successful programme of free coach transfer services for visitors is being extended to over 50 pick-up points across the South East and East Anglia as well as to the north and west of London; the service calling at six central London main line railway stations has also been reinstated. Only a few seats now remain for places in these highly popular coaches, which are kindly provided by members of the Confederation of Passenger Transport UK’s Coach Marque quality scheme. Excursions is organised by Tourism South East and Group Travel Organiser magazine and works in partnership with VisitEngland and London and Partners.





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Plans underway for development at Royal Deeside By Christina Eccles

Blackpool rocks as pass nears million mark ALMOST £1m worth of Blackpool’s Resort Passes have been sold in their first year on sale. The pass was the first of its kind to be launched in the UK, offering visitors access to up to nine of the resort’s top attractions at huge discounts, and after just nine months on sale the Resort Pass had clocked up sales of £980,000. This represents a massive 81 per cent increase in sales against

a trial run of the Resort Pass over the same period in 2012. Managing director of Marketing Blackpool Natalie Wyatt said: “We are absolutely delighted with the success of the Blackpool Resort Pass year. “The idea of a Resort Pass was discussed for a number of years and now it is finally up and running it is clear that it is incredibly popular.”

PLANS are being drawn up for the development of a 40-bedroom hotel, spa and conference and events centre at Ballogie, Royal Deeside, which developers hope will attract visitors from all over Europe. More than £7m will be invested in upgrading the former Potarch Hotel as well as building a new spa, wedding and events venue. Subject to planning, work will start mid next year, with a projected opening time of autumn 2015. The application for planning permission will be made in February. Partner in Ballogie Estate Enterprises which is undertaking the development, Randall Nicol, said: “We looked at a number of options for developing the hotel and surrounding area. “We are passionate about Ballogie and this part of Scotland and we want the new hotel to be a principal attraction for people in the north east, as well as providing a unique destination experience which will

attract more visitors to Royal Deeside. “Having commissioned two indepth economic appraisals and held a public consultation to get local feedback, we decided the best option was to invest in the hotel to bring it up to a very good four-star standard, plus build a new conference and events centre, and a state of the art spa and leisure complex. “We believe that this development will be unique in Scotland with its rural situation and its level of bedroom, spa and event facilities, coupled with an outstanding food and drink offering. “The aim is to create a destination around Ballogie Hotel and Spa that will appeal to visitors throughout the UK and further afield. “Aberdeen airport is only 45 minutes away; there are regular flights from across the UK, and many European destinations such as Frankfurt, Copenhagen, Amsterdam and Paris have direct flights into Aberdeen.”

New to Ripley's London is a Hungarian Horntail dragon made entirely of recycled car and motorcycle parts and hardware metal washers. Believe It or Not! Considered to be one of the most dangerous dragons ever, this ferocious Hungarian Horntail dragon is from The Goblet of Fire, book four of the popular Harry Potter series. In the book, Harry must retrieve the Golden Egg from the dragon’s nest, as one of his goals to win the Tri Wizard Tournament.

Hotel offers dream wedding


A HOTEL in the Lake District is offering loved up couples the chance to win their dream wedding. The package at The Daffodil Hotel and Spa by the Lake in Grasmere includes full catering for up to 80 guests, lake view accommodation for the bride and groom and a red carpet drinks welcome. Winners will also have full use of the hotel’s wedding planner in the

run up to the big day, as well as a master of ceremonies on the day itself. The hotel’s award-winning executive chef, Nick Martin will also meet with the lucky couple and produce a special tasting menu to help them decide on their threecourse wedding breakfast and evening snacks. Interested couples can enter the competition via the hotel’s website.

National Trust



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*0844 numbers are charged at 5p per minute from BT landlines, charges from mobiles and other operators may vary.

National Trust: new for groups in 2014 for groups to enjoy a private guided tour of this magnificent Palladian mansion before it opens for the season, learning about its history and that of the Onslow family, who purchased the estate in 1641. Springhill, in County Londonderry, will be telling the story of Lieutenant Colonel Jack Lenox-Conyngham through an exhibition and exciting programme of events. While there, your group can also enjoy the celebrated costume collection in the old laundry house and an intriguing link to the Titanic through a letter written on board. There are also three fantastic special interest tours for groups, including ‘Shocks and Surprises’ for an entertaining glimpse into the lives of people of the Springhill residence.

© National Trust Images/Matthew Antrobus If you’re looking for somewhere new for a tailor-made group day out in 2014, the National Trust has plenty of beautiful places to discover with its brand new Groups Guide.

The brand new National Trust Groups Guide 2014 is available to help you plan new days out for next year. Order your copy by contacting the group travel team on or 0844 800 2329.* Visit to find out more.

This year, to mark the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War, National Trust places will be putting on lots of special events and tours, suitable for groups, to mark the occasion, which can be found in the new guide. They will provide a fascinating insight into how the Great War affected so many lives, from individual households to entire communities. Dunham Massey, in Cheshire, is turning the clock back to Stamford Military Hospital, which offered a sanctuary from the trenches for almost 300 soldiers. Come and discover what life was like for the patients and how war changed everything for those who lived and worked at Dunham. Dunham Massey also has one of the North’s great gardens, including Britain’s largest winter garden and a stunning new rose garden. Clandon Park, in Surrey, was one of the first houses in Britain to become a First World War hospital and today is also home to the Surrey Regiment Museum. Throughout 2014, a First World War surgery will be recreated in the house. There is also the chance

© National Trust Images/Andreas von Einsiedel *0844 numbers are charged at 5p per minute from BT landlines, charges from mobiles and other operators may vary.




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Showcasing the best of Britain and Ireland ... Tigers, monkeys and meerkats at Longleat Safari and Adventure Park joined in the seasonal fun and games, with a little help from the Wiltshire attraction’s team of gardeners. Piles of autumnal leaves collected on the estate provided a novel new attraction for many of the Safari Park’s residents; including a trio of endangered Amur tigers. Longleat’s Ian Turner said: “The tigers love anything new to investigate and they were soon leaping into the leaves and hunting out the food inside the mounds.”

Festival of light proves a hit THE city of Durham provided the spectacular backdrop for a fourday festival of light, curated and produced by Artichoke and commissioned by Durham City Council. The festival’s largest installation – Crown of Light – covered the entire North façade of the cathedral, including all sides of the three towers, and was created by London-based projection artist Ross Ashton, who was invited back to take

part in the event for the third time. He said: “It’s a fantastic honour to be asked back to one of the most beautiful cities in Europe with the same show, and a real testament to the popularity of the piece in 2009 and 2011. “We offered all those who enjoyed it before the chance to repeat the experience … as well as attracting a new and equally as enthusiastic audience.”

REGISTRATION has opened for Best of Britain and Ireland 2014, which takes place at the NEC from March 12-13. Organisers are expecting to attract up to 3,000 trade visitors to the show, which brings together venues, destinations, attractions, industry associations and tourist boards at a key buying time of the year. For the first time, the show will also be widened to include the meetings and business events sector. Event director Mark Griffin said: “The show, coinciding with the new financial year and planning cycle, truly provides the industry with the best of Britain and Ireland. “Nowhere will visitors meet so many quality exhibitors – including VisitEngland, Visit Wales, Tourism Ireland and VisitScotland – at one place at one time and meet new business contacts that can have a direct and immediate impact on their businesses. There is no better time to put the dates in your diary.” This year’s BOBI will also include a new element – The Hotel Lobby – targeted at independent hotels and venues looking to raise their profiles. Each exhibitor in the branded area

will have two lounge seats, a coffee table, branding on a manned central information desk, facility to display literature, access to the show’s meeting planner and listings on the event’s website, show guide and other marketing collateral. Independent hotels already signed up to exhibit in the heart of the show include Four Pillars Hotels; Big Sleep Hotel Group; the Winnock Hotel, Loch Lomond and Rendezvous Hotel, Skipton. Mark added: “Through our post show survey, visitors to last year’s event highlighted that they wanted to learn about new and alternative places to stay. “In response to this feedback, we have created ‘the Hotel Lobby’ which will give smaller UK independent hotels and venues the opportunity to cost effectively exhibit at Best of Britain and Ireland 2014. Independent hotels and a growing number of smaller niche venues are a key part of the domestic tourism and business events industry and we are delighted to be making this addition to the show. “It’s a perfect opportunity for those companies with limited marketing budgets to participate and have profile in a cost effective way.”

County’s finest recognised at awards


BLACKBURN Cathedral provided the perfect backdrop for Marketing Lancashire’s 10th annual Lancashire Tourism Awards, where 20 of the county’s finest tourism businesses were awarded for excellence in their field and recognised by an audience of over 400 industry colleagues and sponsors. The awards ceremony was hosted by Simon Calder, senior travel editor of The Independent and TV and radio broadcaster, with guests on the night enjoying a Lancashire inspired three course dinner and live music entertainment from Blackburn and Darwen Brass Band and the Lancashire Jazz Youth Orchestra. Chief executive of Marketing Lancashire Ruth Connor said: “All our finalists are deserving of recognition but our winners have demonstrated that they are the ‘best of the best’ of Lancashire’s tourism businesses and I congratulate them. “This wonderful evening would not have been possible without the support of our host sponsor, Blackburn With Darwen Council and headline sponsor, the University of Central Lancashire as well as a wide range of sponsors and partners, who have made an invaluable contribution to the success of this landmark event.

“Tourism is of vital importance to the economic good health of Lancashire and our finalists and winners are at the forefront of a drive to improve the industry’s current £3.4b contribution to the

visitor economy, which Marketing Lancashire will proudly continue to lead and develop, through creative partnerships and strategic and ambitious marketing.”




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DESTINATIONCENTRESTAGE Now booking at the Piccadilly Theatre until October 2014 ...

Musical extends booking period to coincide with move JERSEY Boys, the smash-hit musical, is now extending its booking period from March 2014 to coincide with its transfer to the Piccadilly Theatre. The last performance at the Prince Edward Theatre will be on Sunday March 9 and the show will re-open at the Piccadilly Theatre on Friday March 14. Jersey Boys opened in London in March 2008. The musical has now been seen by over 17.5m people worldwide and is firmly established as one of the West End's longest running and most popular shows. Michael David on behalf of the producers said: “We are thrilled to be celebrating our sixth birthday in London, very soon in our new home at the Piccadilly Theatre. “London theatregoers have warmly supported Jersey Boys since 2008, a tenure any show could only hope for. “We feel therefore most privileged to now be able to continue our residence in London

on Denman Street. The Piccadilly will fit Jersey Boys like a glove and audiences will hopefully enjoy it there accordingly.” Jersey Boys is the remarkable true story of Frankie Valli, the Four Seasons and their rise to stardom from the wrong side of the tracks. These four boys from New Jersey became one of the most successful bands in pop history, were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and sold 100m records worldwide, all before they turned 30. The show is packed with their hits, including Beggin’, Sherry, Walk Like A Man, December, 1963 (Oh What a Night), Big Girls Don’t Cry, My Eyes Adored You, Let’s Hang On (To What We’ve Got), Bye Bye Baby, Can’t Take My Eyes Off You, Working My Way Back to You, Fallen Angel, Rag Doll and Who Loves You. Jersey Boys is the winner of 55 major awards worldwide, including the Olivier Award for Best New

Musical. The show originally opened on Broadway in 2006, receiving the Tony Award for Best Musical. As well as still running on Broadway and in the West End, Jersey Boys can be seen in Las Vegas, across the United States on its US National Tour and the Netherlands

New listings information

Current listings information:

Piccadilly Theatre, 16 Denman Street, London W1D 7DY Performances: Tuesdays – Saturdays at 7.30pm, Tuesday and Saturday matinees at 3.00pm, Sundays at 5.00pm. Tickets: £22.5 – -£67.50 Box Office: 0844 871 7630

Prince Edward Theatre, Old Compton Street, London W1D 4HJ Performances: Tuesdays – Saturdays at 7.30pm, Tuesday and Saturday matinees at 3.00pm, Sundays at 5.00pm. Tickets: £20.00 – £67.50 Senior Sundays – senior citizens may buy top price tickets for £27.50 at Sunday performances Box Office: 0844 482 5151

Website: Facebook: BoysLondon Twitter:!/JerseyBoys UK

News from around the theatres ... Jersey Boys By David Thomas

WELCOME to the fourth edition of the Destination UK West End Chronicle – and well done on surviving the festive travel trade networking! A New Year brings a feast of brilliant new shows to tempt the tastebuds of theatregoers of every possible palate and appetite You couldn’t think of two shows more diametrically different than The Full Monty set in the post-industrial steel town of Sheffield, and Dirty Rotten Scoundrels played out in the billionaire playground of the French Riviera. I saw The Full Monty in Leeds, where the audience were whipped into an enthusiastic frenzy by the on-stage antics (apparently they had to beef up security at the stage door when the show played its home town of Sheffield to stop the fans getting too up-close and physical). I met the cast of Dirty Rotten Scoundrels in the slightly more salubrious surroundings of a private dining room in London’s Savoy Hotel (although at one point in the evening I do recall Rufus Hound taking off his shirt to show us his tattoos). Rufus’s co-star in Dirty Rotten Scoundrels is three-time Olivier Award winner, Robert Lindsay. 12 Although best known for his TV

David Thomas roles in shows such as Citizen Smith and My Family, I can honestly say that in 35 years I have never seen a more consistently spellbinding actor on the English stage, from Bill Snibson in Me and My Girl, to his wonderful Fagin in Oliver! at the London Palladium to Archie Rice in John Osborne’s The Entertainer – a role created by Laurence Olivier himself. Sitting there in the Old Vic it was hard not to imagine Olivier smiling down from the fly floor (or more likely thinking: “Thank the Lord I didn’t have to audition for the part against Robert Lindsay!). My third pick of the new crop is The Pajama Game opening at The Shaftesbury in May. If any of you haven’t seen the 1957

Doris Day film, the show features some great numbers such as Steam Heat, Hey There and There Once Was A Man – and this production will star Joanna Riding, currently wowing audiences in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Stephen Ward at The Aldwych Theatre. Many of you will have seen Harry Hill introduce his hilarious new comedy musical I Can’t Sing, The X factor Musical on this year’s Royal Variety Performance at The London Palladium. What Harry didn’t mention is that the show, which opens at The London Palladium in February, is the first totally original musical (i.e. not a revival or adaptation) to open there in the theatre’s 102-year history, and I for one will be there at the very first preview. I attended the first preview of Miss Saigon at Drury Lane in 1989 (and most of the rehearsals, the first night, every new cast for 10 years and all but two of the UK tour productions ...) If you have seen the show, you will know why. If you haven’t, then I strongly suggest that you make one more New Year’s resolution for 2014... “Don’t Miss Saigon”. Happy New Year ... and happy new shows! This column was written before the events at the Apollo Theatre in Shaftsbury Avenue.

still ‘a key seller’ for Superbreak SMASH hit musical Jersey Boys continues to be a key seller for short break specialist, Superbreak. Since the show opened in March 2008, the operator has sold packages worth over £10m and this figure is set to continue to grow, with the show extending its booking period to October 2014. National sales manager at Superbreak Graham Balmforth said: “Jersey Boys has been a huge success from the moment it opened and appeals to customers of all ages. “The fact that we have sold packages worth over £10m to this show alone is testament to that. “So many of the songs are recognisable and the audience is often seen singing along throughout the show. Jersey Boys consistently features as one of our top five theatre breaks and I expect this to continue throughout 2014.” For more information and bookings call Superbreak 0871 221 4444 or visit




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Final return for War of the Worlds JEFF Wayne’s musical version of The War of The Worlds is to return for the final time in 2014. Cast members will include former Westlife star Brian McFadden, Jason Donovan and Carrie Hope Fletcher, direct from her West End performance in Les Miserables as Eponine. The production will be the sixth UK tour in eight years. Jeff said: “Bringing The War of The Worlds to life in many of the world’s finest arenas has been the most amazing experience for me over the last seven years. We’ve achieved

more than we ever thought was possible both musically and technologically. “However, the time is right to take The War of The Worlds in new directions after the 2014 tour. “I am so very appreciative of the fantastic support over the years from so many established fans as well as numerous new ones we’ve attracted.” The November 2014 tour will call at venues including Dublin O2 Arena, Liverpool Echo Arena and Glasgow Hydro Arena.

Annual theatre promotion underway DISCOUNTED tickets have gone on sale for Get Into London Theatre, the annual ticket promotion which allows the public to see some of the best shows in London for a fraction of the normal cost. From January 1 to February 13, over 50 musicals, plays, dance productions and family shows will offer tickets from as little as £10, so everyone has the chance to

experience the magic of London theatre. President of the Society of London Theatre, which runs the scheme, Mark Rubinstein, said: “We are delighted to be able to brighten up those post-Christmas blues by offering great tickets at affordable prices to an even wider range of diverse and exciting shows.”

More overseas visitors ‘go to theatre than watch sport’ By Christina Eccles RESEARCH from VisitBritain has highlighted the popularity of theatre, musicals, the opera and ballet, revealing more overseas visitors to the country go to this type of event than to watch sport. The 2.8m visits to the theatre include 14 per cent of all overseas holiday trips, whilst visits incorporating a live sports event make up just four per cent at 1.3m visits. According to figures, these overseas theatregoers are also surprisingly high spenders, injecting £2.7b into the UK economy during their trip – over double the £1.1b spent by traditionally high spending live sport visitors. CEO of VisitBritain Sandie Dawe said: “The vitality of our theatre – whether London's West End or our major regional centres – provides a great holiday experience for our international visitors.

Global singing sensation Susan Boyle is embarking on her first nationwide live tour. The 19-date tour starts on March 22 in Liverpool and will see Susan performing across the country in major towns and cities. The show will include songs including the now legendary ‘I Dreamed A Dream’, ‘Wild Horses’ and ‘Somewhere Over the Rainbow’ as well as ‘River Deep, Mountain High’, one of her all-time favourites, plus a host of spectacular surprises on the night.

“In Britain you can see cutting edge theatre by new writers, big blockbuster musicals and plenty of Shakespeare with actors that are known across the globe. If you like the theatre, Britain is a great place to enjoy it.” Managing director of made Jonathan Mountford added: “As a tourism marketing, representation and PR agency working for many different West End productions we know only too well just how much of an international draw these shows are. “Our most popular musicals speak the international language of London’s theatreland at its very best. “But more importantly, our attendance at VisitBritain sales missions around the world has proved just how much potential there is in promoting this country’s world-beating entertainment industry to an audience that wants to come here and take part in that magic.”

Singer Russell Watson has revealed new concert dates for 2014 at Warner Leisure Hotels’ properties. Following his successful shows at Thoresby Hall and Cricket St Thomas, Russell will perform a range of his hits at Sinah Warren, Hampshire on April 4, Alvaston Hall, Cheshire on August 22 and November 14 at Somerset’s Cricket St Thomas hotel.

20th anniversary tour to visit 16 venues LIVE Nation is proud to announce that the Riverdance 20th Anniversary Tour will visit 16 venues across the UK from September 2014. With an incredible two decades of global success since the show first burst into the public’s heart at the Eurovision Song Contest in Dublin in 1994, this is an unmissable chance for UK audiences to reconnect with what the Irish Times rightly described as “The Original...The Best.” The Washington Post exclaimed, “Its continued popularity proves that it was, and remains, a phenomenon of historic proportions!” Producer Moya Doherty said: “The success of Riverdance across the whole world has gone 14

beyond our wildest dreams. “The fact that the show continues to draw and excite audiences is a tribute to every dancer, singer, musician, staff and crew member who have dedicated themselves to the show. This 20th Anniversary Tour is a thank you to our UK audiences and a celebration of what has been an incredible journey across two decades.” Composed by Bill Whelan, produced by Moya Doherty and directed by John McColgan, Riverdance has performed across the UK where it has been experienced by over 2.9m people, in well over 1000 performances in 18 cities, and the show has lost none of its magic.




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Looking forward ... By David Curtis-Brignell, Immediate Past Chairman, The Tourism Society HAVING come to the end of my second term as chairman of The Tourism Society, I could be excused for taking a look back over recent years – the successes, the challenges and missed opportunities. And I could whinge on about APD and VAT and lots of other things that are unlikely to change before the proverbial extremely hard frost in Hades. The one thing I have noticed about our industry is that, on the whole, people are terribly nice to each other. “Can we have a cut in APD?” “No” “Oh well, just thought we’d ask.” Of course it isn’t like that at all; it just seems like it at times. People have a tendency to skirt around the issue – it’s probably a British thing. I have been to many events where the issue has just about got to the point of being warm, when the chairman or facilitator says “Well, that’s all we have time for” as if he is in danger of overrunning and cutting into the News. Take for example, the future of Destination Management Organisations. My understanding is that there is a variety of different models now operating across the country, especially in England since the RDAs ceased to be. There are

David Curtis-Brignell FTS membership-only DMOs, there are DMOs that are fully funded by local government, there are DMOs that are a mixture of both and then, there aren’t. Some are extraordinarily successful. Some fell by the wayside relatively shortly after their formation. So what will the future DMO look like in 2020? Or 2017? Perhaps we are on the brink of a sea-change in the way that tourism services are delivered locally/regionally? Perhaps the news that VisitEngland’s “Growing Tourism Locally” campaign has created £98.2m and nearly 2,000 new jobs in its first year will

Visit Kent chief elected as Society Chairman CHIEF executive of Visit Kent Sandra Matthews-Marsh has been elected as the new Chairman of the Tourism Society, taking over the role from David Curtis-Brignell. Sandra has almost 25 years’ experience in the tourism industry and has led Visit Kent for the past nine years, playing a key role in securing significant European funding over the last six years in order to fund the organisation’s work. She said: “I am honoured and delighted to take on this role to help drive forward the work of the Tourism Society. “The Society supports its members through an ambitious programme, promoting the highest levels of professionalism through events and a vibrant network. “I am keen to forge strong partnerships in my role as chairman and do all I can to support the ongoing growth of the visitor economy.” Two existing board members were elected to become the new vicechairmen: Hayley Beer and Michael Jones.

be the way forward? If you were a politician – local or national – what would you think about that? And then there’s emerging markets. Where should we be spending our marketing money over the next two, five or 10 years? Without banging on about the cost of and difficulty in obtaining visas for some international travellers (see “lost causes” above), who are going to be the people who come to Britain and stay longer and spend more? And who will be the competition? Personally, I would prefer to plan a ‘trip-of-a-lifetime’ in a country that can build Olympic stadiums on time rather than ones that have a less positive record of infrastructure success, but then what will tomorrow’s tourist look like? Will they want to experience more? Will they want to touch, feel and smell the country they are visiting rather than be moved from an air-conditioned airport in an airconditioned coach to an airconditioned hotel that looks similar to the one they stayed in last year in a different country? And don’t get me wrong, being driven on the wrong side of the road along crowded motorways and country lanes does not, in my humble opinion, provide sufficient change of lifestyle to warrant being

experiential. How would our destinations cope with this new breed of visitor? What would the offer be? How much do we know about the future demands of visitors – and where will they go instead? Another big question is whether we are keeping up with technology. Small businesses needed help to get online and develop websites. Then the next trick was online reservations. Now it’s apps, mobile and all kinds of things I am waiting for my neighbour’s children to explain to me. With all of these big questions hanging in the air, what’s the big answer? Well, I may actually be able to help. Because in 2014 (June 2 and 3 to be exact) there is to be the very first Tourism Symposium, to be held as one of the opening events of the International Festival For Business in Liverpool. The plan is to tackle big issues and to come up with meaningful responses. The event will deliberately be very affordable for delegates in order to maximise participation. If you are at all interested in the future of UK tourism, and perhaps your job, you’ll put the date in your diary. Now. Views expressed are of course my own and not necessarily those of The Tourism Society.

Prospects for 2014 Thursday January 16th at 6.30pm University of Westminster, Regent Street, London As the economic recovery continues and the UNWTO forecasts growing international visitor numbers, how does the industry think the trends are looking for the year ahead? Join us for our traditional start to the year as we consider what the coming months hold in store. Speakers include David Edwards FTS (VisitBritain), Tony Hall MTS (The Caravan Club) and David Bridgford (Merlin Entertainments). The event will be chaired by travel broadcaster and journalist Alison Rice MTS. This event will also be streamed live to locations around the country including Plymouth (coinciding with the launch of the Society’s new Westcountry section), York and Cumbria.

To book your place, visit and select the appropriate location. Sponsored by:

Sandra Matthew-Marsh FTS MTMI Hayley is tourism services manager at West Oxford District Council and Michael is managing director of consulting group Delta Squared, with a background in sales and marketing within the hospitality industry.

Visit for full details on events & membership 15




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Destination uk January/February 2014