Here is a reliable source of breaking tourism and travel news plus a variety of indusry articles with what's hot and what's not, from around the world.



Tuesday, July 9, 2013

PS: LIAT keep my bag I never liked it anyway

RICHARD'S BLOG

How to write a complaint letter

Having once received what many regard as the world’s best complaint letter, I was tickled to see another brilliant note to a different airline.

I phoned the customer who wrote the above note to apologise and thank him for his letter after he experienced a less than perfect culinary experience on board one of our planes. It is important to take customer feedback on board in order to improve – and also to be able to laugh at yourself.

With that in mind, here is an open letter to Caribbean airline LIAT, written by Arthur Hicks, who also happens to be a great tennis pro.

Dear LIAT, 

May I say how considerate it is of you to enable your passengers such an in-depth and thorough tour of the Caribbean. 

Most other airlines I have travelled on would simply wish to take me from point A to B in rather a hurry. I was intrigued that we were allowed to stop at not a lowly one or two but a magnificent six airports yesterday. And who wants to fly on the same airplane the entire time? We got to change and refuel every step of the way!

I particularly enjoyed sampling the security scanners at each and every airport. I find it preposterous that people imagine them all to be the same. And as for being patted down by a variety of islanders, well, I feel as if I’ve been hugged by most of the Caribbean already.

I also found it unique that this was all done on “island time,” because I do like to have time to absorb the atmosphere of the various departure lounges. As for our arrival, well, who wants to have to take a ferry at the end of all that flying anyway? I’m glad the boat was long gone by the time we arrived into Tortola last night — and that all those noisy bars and restaurants were closed.

So thank you, LIAT. I now truly understand why you are “The Caribbean Airline.”

P.S. Keep the bag. I never liked it anyway.

As a colleague said: “I guess this is why LIAT is reputed to stand for Languishing In Airport Terminals!”

But seriously, making customer service key to your company will keep your employees motivated and your customers happy. This in turn ensures enduring loyalty, business success and a better experience for everyone.
By . Founder of Virgin Group

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Birmingham New Street and its 150 year history


Birmingham New Street revealed its 150-years history

new strtA selection of original plans and drawings detailing the 150-year history of Birmingham New Street have been published for the first time, as passengers await the opening of the first half of the station’s new concourse in under a week’s time – the first major change to New Street station in over 40 years.

The station has remained largely unchanged since it was last redeveloped in 1967 and in more recent years has been the focus of much criticism as numbers of people using the railway has increased, with more than double the passengers using New Street today than it was designed for. The experience for passengers is poor, with the station being too dark, busy and overcrowded with inadequate access to platforms. This month, everything changes as the halfway point of the station transformation is reached.
To mark the closure of the old concourse later this month, the Network Rail archive team has for the first time published the original plans and drawings of the station on its virtual archive. Some of the plans date back to the 19th century, showing the layout of the original station which opened in 1854 as well as the 1960’s rebuild. Vicky Stretch, Network Rail archivist said: “Since publishing the first railway architectural plans on our virtual archive over a year ago, it has been fascinating to gradually work through our collection of over five million records to see what other elements of the railway’s history we can uncover. With the imminent unveiling of the new concourse at Birmingham New Street, we’ve been searching for the original plans and drawings of the station and have found some of great interest and importance at this exciting time of change for passengers. Very little survives for the original nineteenth century New Street, but what we do have, along with a collection of the more familiar 1960s station, is now published online.”
New Street wasn’t always the eyesore that has proved so unpopular in the city in recent years. When the original station first opened in 1851, it was the largest in the country, encompassed by the largest single span arched roof in the world at 212ft wide and 840ft long. Constructed by the same team who built Paddington station, New Street in its original guise was a grand structure and typical of 19th century architecture and only rivalled by the arrival of St Pancras in 1868.
When the new concourse opens at the end of this month, it will be one-and-a-half times bigger than the current one, featuring all of the facilities expected in a major station, with a new, larger and improved ticket office and new lifts and escalators improving access to platforms.
Ahead of the 28 April, the final public exhibition giving comprehensive information about the station switchover will take place on the main concourse at New Street between 7am-7pm Tuesday (April 23) and Friday (April 26) and 9am-7pm on Saturday (April 27).

Monday, May 7, 2012

St Kitts Music Festival and the Ocean Terrace Inn






Come to St Kitts and listen to  the soulful strains of Roberta Flack  … the reggae beat of Damian Marley … and the rhythms of soca artist Machel Montano. That’s right. The sounds of St. Kitts will come alive when these artists headline the 16th annual St. Kitts Music Festival from June 28-30, 2012 in Bassaterre. 

In celebration, the Ocean Terrace Inn is offering special “Sweet 16” packages that will be music to your ears:
Rates are per room per night with a two night minimum stay.
$ US 91 Single Occupancy with Continental Breakfast
$ US101 Double Occupancy with Continental Breakfast

$ US101 Single Occupancy with Full Breakfast
$ US111 Double Occupancy with Full Breakfast

Rates are per room per night inclusive of VAT, Service Charge and IET.
Book your package now, while there’s still time. Call 869-465-2754 or go to www.oceanterraceinn.com. Then come discover the Ocean Terrace Inn and the St. Kitts Music Festival. It’s an experience like no other.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

The Visit England £4 million campaign is rubbish! It's a misguided use of public funds.

BTA has rubbished a £4 million Government-backed advertising campaign to encourage Britons to holiday at home, saying it will do nothing to encourage people to book domestic breaks. It said the domestic tourism campaign, launched today by VisitEngland, was a "misguided use of public funds".
ABTA chief executive Mark Tanzer said: ".....  there are some fantastic events and places to visit for people choosing to holiday in the UK, however, I don’t think the Government needs to spend £4m of our money telling us that we’re having the Queen’s Jubilee and the Olympics.

A YouGov poll commissioned by ABTA found that only 4% of consumers admitted to being influenced by Government advertising. The majority - 45% - said they were more influenced by family and friends and 36% said they were inspired by travel websites and brochures.
A further 16% said they were influenced by newspaper and magazine recommendations or TV programmes and films, but only 7% said they were influenced by TV adverts.
The survey also revealed that British holidaymakers are more likely to look forward to a foreign break (42%) than a domestic one (16%), although 41% said they looked forward to both types of holiday equally.
ABTA chief executive Mark Tanzer said: "2012 is a year for Britain to shine and there are some fantastic events and places to visit for people choosing to holiday in the UK.
"However, I don’t think the Government needs to spend £4m of our money telling us that we’re having the Queen’s Jubilee and the Olympics.
"It is clear that the majority of Brits are strongly opposed to the Government spending taxpayer money on telling them where to go on holiday. British holidaymakers should be free to make their own choices and enjoy the variety the world has to offer without Government interference."

Monday, March 5, 2012

Bye de Bye Continental Airlines

Continental and United Airlines officially became United last Saturday.  Both airlines, which merged in 2010, tied their computer systems together with only isolated delays and complaints, completing the final step in the $3 billion deal to form the world’s largest airline. 

The connection also marked the official end of Continental as an airline.  At Newark Liberty, there were no Continental Airlines signs to be found, which resulted in some confusion.  United and Continental will now use one computer website, United.com, to do business.  On the website, the only indication of Continental is its blue-and-white globe livery next to the United name. The airlines are also combining their frequent-flier program under United’s MileagePlus name. 

Monday, January 30, 2012

Spanair Shuts Down after the Withdrawal of State Funding




Spanair SA's collapsed on the weekend after the withdrawal of state funding suggests Europe's debt crisis may spark airlines from the Mediterranean to the Baltic to consider mergers or risk failure.

Spanair has left more than 20,000 passengers stranded after running out of financing options. The Barcelona-based airline has ceased operations leading to 647 flight cancellations.

The Bloomberg Business Week states that governments are becoming reluctant to save ailing airlines as the debt crisis forces austerity programs in other parts of the economy. State investors in Stockholm-based SAS AB, Aer Lingus Group Plc of Ireland, Portugal's TAP and the flag carriers of Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic have all signaled plans to reduce direct support and seek new investors.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Priceline kills off Negotiator!

Priceline.com will kill off the Priceline Negotiator, a character played by William Shatner, in its new national TV campaign.

The online travel agency said it decided to kill off the Negotiator “in order to focus consumers' attention on its published-price hotel service, which is the fastest-growing segment of Priceline.com's hotel business.”

The new campaign opens with the Negotiator coming to the rescue of a family whose bus is teetering on a bridge. Watch the video how the Negotiator manages to get them safely off the bus, but he is unable to exit the bus before it plunges off the bridge.


Friday, January 20, 2012

President Obama - Castles in the Sky!

President Barack Obama went to Disney World in Orlando yesterday to announce the new initiative to boost the economy and jobs through travel and tourism.  
He  might perhaps have considered a backdrop other than the castle in the sky, the iconic gateway to Fantasyland!
However this is political season, and Obama’s opponents were quick to suggest that his speech was as much about his reelection campaign (Florida will likely be a swing state)!
“I want America to be the number one tourist destination in the world,” Obama said.  "I have directed my administration to send me a new national tourism strategy focused on creating jobs.”  “We’re going to see how we can make it easier for foreign tourists to find basic information about visiting America. And we’re going to see how we can attract more tourists to our national parks. We want people visiting not just Epcot Center, but the Everglades, too. The more folks who visit America, the more Americans we get back to work.  It’s that simple.”   
The president said the new tourism strategy is part of his job-creation plan. Another goal is to ensure that the US is the top tourist destination in the world. He announced efforts to expand the Global Entry Programme, which makes it easier for frequent - who've undergone a background check - to travel in and out of the country.

He told the audience that his administration would add additional nations to the list of those whose citizens are allowed to visit America without a tourist visa.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Now, if we amplify our voices, we can put an end to the most powerful Internet censorship threat that the world has ever seen.

Spare a thought for Michael O'Leary, Chief Executive of 'Ryanair'.......

A friend of mine sent me this joke on email today...

Spare a thought for Michael O'Leary, Chief Executive of 'Ryanair'.......



Arriving in a hotel in Dublin, he went to the bar and asked for a pint
of draught Guinness. The barman nodded and said, "That will be one
Euro please, Mr. O'Leary."

 Somewhat taken aback, O'Leary replied, "That's very cheap," and handed
 over his money.

 "Well, we try to stay ahead of the competition", said the barman. "And
we are serving free pints every Wednesday evening from 6 until 8. We
have the cheapest beer in Ireland"

 "That is remarkable value" Michael comments

 "I see you don't seem to have a glass, so you'll probably need one of ours.
 That will be 3 euro please."

 O'Leary scowled, but paid up. He took his drink and walked towards a seat.
 "Ah, you want to sit down?" said the barman. "That'll be an extra 2
 euro. - You could have pre-book the seat, and it would have only cost
 you a Euro."

"I think you may to be too big for the seat sir, can I ask you to sit
in this frame please"
Michael attempts to sit down but the frame is too small and when he
can't squeeze in he complains "Nobody would fit in that little frame".

"I'm afraid if you can't fit in the frame you'll have to pay an extra
surcharge of €4.00 for your seat sir"

O'Leary swore to himself, but paid up. "I see that you have brought
your laptop with you" added the barman. "And since that wasn't
pre-booked either, that will be another 3 euro."

O'Leary was so annoyed that he walked back to the bar, slammed his
drink on the counter, and yelled, "This is ridiculous, I want to speak
to the manager".

"Ah, I see you want to use the counter," says the barman, "that will
be 2 euro please." O'Leary's face was red with rage.

"Do you know who I am?"

"Of course I do Mr. O'Leary,"

"I've had enough, What sort of Hotel is this? I come in for a quiet
drink and you treat me like this. I insist on speaking to a manager!"

"Here is his E mail address, or if you wish, you can contact him
between 9 and 9.10 every morning, Monday to Tuesday at this free phone
number. Calls are free, until they are answered, then there is a
talking charge of only 10 cent per second"

"I will never use this bar again"

"OK sir, but remember, we are the only hotel in Ireland selling pints
for one Euro".

Thursday, January 12, 2012

AirAsia X to pull out of Europe in March! Blames weak demand, high fuel prices and UK Taxes

AirAsia X began flying to London in March 2009  then switched service from Stansted to Gatwick in October 2011 and now its last flight from London will operate on March 31, ceasing flights from Gatwick and from Paris to its hub at Kuala Lumpur.
The carrier blamed falling demand in Europe, the high oil price and the added costs of UK Air Passenger Duty (APD) and the European emissions trading scheme (ETS). Passengers with advance bookings from Gatwick will be offered the choice of a full refund or switch to an alternative carrier.
Chief executive Azran Osman-Rani said: “Weakening demand for air travel from Europe brought about by the current economic situation, together with exorbitant government taxes, have placed cost pressures on operating long-haul low-cost flights. “The emissions trading scheme and escalating APD, which will rise again in April, have forced our decision to withdraw services to Europe.  The decision by AirAsia X is clear evidence that the burden of additional taxation is a material consideration for long haul airlines flying to the UK.”

Monday, January 9, 2012

SeaFrance has gone into Liquidation - 1,000 Job Losses!

SeaFrance has gone into liquidation with up to 1,000 job losses - 127 in the UK.
The Tribunal de Commerce court in Paris made the decision to liquidate the ferry operator today after finding that none of the other options were financially viable.
Provisions have been made to guarantee all customers with pre-existing bookings will get refunds.  
The French ferry operator SeaFrance suspended all services between Dover and Calais on 15 November, 2011.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Bahamas Launches New $12 Million Nassau Straw Market Today!

A new $12 million straw market will open to vendors, tourists and residents in Nassau, Bahamas, today, Friday, Dec. 16, following 10 years at a temporary site.  The new facility will be operated by the Bahamas government.

Vendors had been working at the temporary facility, located under a tent on downtown’s Bay Street, since the original market was destroyed in a 2001 fire. The temporary site was itself damaged in August by Hurricane Irene, leading vendors to set up shop under hastily built tents on Prince George Wharf.  The straw market, which will now house up to 500 vendors, has long been a popular attraction for Nassau visitors and residents.

Monday, November 28, 2011

November 26th - Fort Lauderdale Set New Record for number of Cruise Passengers

Eight ships and approximately 53,500 cruise passengers arrived or departed on Saturday, November 26th as Port Everglades in Ft. Lauderdale, smashed its own world record set on March 20, 2010 although with bigger ships, it did it with a fewer number of vessels.
The ships involved on Saturday, all sailing for the Caribbean were:

•    Oasis of the Seas
•    Liberty of the Seas
•    Navigator of the Seas
•    Carnival Miracle
•    Grand Princess
•    Crown Princess
•    Eurodam
•    MSC Poesia.

The vessels arrived between 4 and 6 a.m. and sailed again between 4 and 7 p.m.

Also busy, was Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport, with  an estimate of 500,000 travelers passing through from Monday to Monday during Thanksgiving week.

Taxis too, enjoyed a busy day, according to Port Authorities, as about 555 cabs picked up passengers at terminal 18, another 350 at terminal 29 and more than 400 at terminals 21 and 25 combined.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Airfare tax disclosure rule applies to Twitter posts, DOT says

The US Transportation Department’s enforcement unit put airlines, tour operators and travel agents on notice that some of their tweets and social media postings fail to include the appropriate disclosures about aviation taxes and fees.

In a notice, enforcement chief Samuel Podberesky said that even Twitter postings, with their 140-character limit, must comply.  The notice states that if an airfare is mentioned and if any taxes and fees are not included, there must be a hyperlink “adjacent to the stated fare” that “takes the viewer directly to a place on a separate screen where the nature and amount of taxes and fees are prominently and immediately displayed. Likewise, if a round-trip purchase condition applies to an advertised each-way fare, this must also be disclosed in the tweet.”

He added that links taking the user to “a page or a place on a screen that requires scrolling or further clicking on links to be able to view the explanation of taxes and fees do not comply.”

Under existing rules, travel ads that state an airfare, or a price for a package that includes air, must display the total price to be paid. Certain taxes and fees can be stated separately, provided they comply with the above disclosure rules.

The new rule, subject to review by the U.S. Court of Appeals, will require all ads and Internet search displays to include all taxes and mandatory fees, including seller-imposed service charges.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show Under Water!

Morning showers turned into a torrential downpour yesterday at the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show.   As many as 3 inches of rain fell per hour in some areas of South Florida yesterday, water-logging exhibit areas and, in some cases, putting carpeted walkways completely under water

Interestingly though, the rain didn’t keep serious boat people away from the show. As the rain fell, the tents got crowded. The second it stopped, the docks got crowded again. (That’s how it rains in Florida, on and off, with a downpour usually not lasting longer than a few minutes.)

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Trump Toronto to open Jan. 31, 2012 - It will be Canada’s tallest residential building with 65 storeys


Trump International Hotel & Tower Toronto is set to welcome guests Jan. 31, 2012, marking Trump’s second international hotel and first foray into Canada. Towering over 270 metres above the city, Trump Toronto will be Canada’s tallest residential building with 65 storeys, proving a dramatic addition to the city’s skyline. Located in the heart of the financial and entertainment district, the Toronto hotel will be a natural retreat for business and leisure travellers.
The hotel will offer 261 guest rooms and suites, all outfitted with the latest in business and entertainment technology, including wired and wireless, high-speed Internet access, flat-screen LCD IP televisions, and high-tech conveniences such as bedside touch-panel controls for window coverings and lighting. Other features include fine dining on the 31st floor signature restaurant, STOCK, a 1,620-square-metre spa and wellness facility, and ballroom and meeting facilities. (http://www.TrumpTorontoHotel.com)

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Remembering John Bloodworth - His final written words were 'Have A Great Party!'

Today the travel industry remembers John Bloodworth, who passed away October 13, 2011, after a battle with cancer. He will be remembered not only for his long and successful career in travel, but for the trust and loyalty he inspired in the people around him.

Born in a small town outside Dallas, Bloodworth rose from a baggage handler at Delta Air Lines to become CEO of one of the world’s largest travel companies.

Bloodworth started at Delta in 1969, and by 1981 he had risen through the ranks to become district marketing manager for Michigan, Indiana, Atlanta, UK,Cleveland, Texas and New York. After three years at The Oaks, Inc. as vice president and general marketing manager, he transitioned to senior director, airline marketing at Alamo Rent A Car.

After staying at Alamo for two years, Bloodworth joined Pan Am World Airways as senior vice president, worldwide marketing, advertising and frequent flier programs, before heading back to Alamo as vice president of sales. In December of 1998 he became executive vice president of Auto Europe, where he stayed for two years before landing his first CEO position at My Travel UK and My Travel USA, as well as president of the My Travel cruise and air packaging division. He also served on My Travel Group, PLC’s board of directors from November 2004 to February 2007. In February 2007 he became CEO of Thomas Cook Group, PLC, UK and Ireland, as well as a member of its board of directors, after ensuring a successful acquisition of My Travel by Thomas Cook. He retired in 2008, but his friend Ed Rudner called him back into action in 2010 to start a new division of Online Vacation Center.

While John Bloodworth’s rise from a small Texas town to CEO of a major travel company is a stunning achievement, what his friends and colleagues remember most about him is his integrity, work ethic and compassion for others.

“I suppose the characteristic I admire most about John was his ability to cultivate a relationship,” said Don Walker, co-president, WMPH Vacations, who worked for Bloodworth for 14 years at three different companies. “He was a master. His key to success was so simple. He was genuine, honest, direct, and he actually cared. I don’t think he ever realized how very rare and special that was. Many people talk a good game but John lived it. If he gave someone his word, they could count on it. I have never heard John promise anything to someone and not deliver. Ever. If something went awry, John would fix it. It doesn’t matter what he had to do, no excuses, he fixed it. I have never met anyone with his integrity, his honesty or his compassion.

“He led by example. I have never known anyone who worked harder than John, and he loved it. He was more demanding of himself than anyone could ever be.  He expected those around him to share that same work ethic, that same passion, and he demanded their best at all times. People didn’t give John their best, however, because they had to. They did it because he made them want to. In the end, anyone who has ever worked with him is better off for it. I know that I could not have asked for a better role model, a better mentor, or a better friend."

“John was the most dependable person I've ever known,” said Tony McKinnon, chairman of director of Online Vacation Center Holdings Corp. and a close friend of Bloodworth’s. “You could give him any challenge, no matter how difficult, and could be assured that he would take care of it. He worked for me a number of years at Delta and PanAm and we developed a great and lasting friendship. He was an outstanding leader who demanded a lot from those who worked for him but gave much more to them in return.

“He was like a younger brother to me and I will miss him greatly.”

Even during his battle with cancer, Bloodworth’s friends were struck by how he continued to take care of those around him. Walker recalled, “John was laying in the hospital and although he could no longer speak, he was quite lucid. Hospice had been called in and his family and some friends were present. His wife, Liana, asked him if he had any special requests for a service. John repeatedly shook his head no and motioned for a pen and some paper. His final written words were...'Have a Great Party!'  She posted it on his Facebook page.“

Bloodworth is survived by his wife, Liana, his two sons, Chad and Dillon and his two grandchildren, Kanyn and Chase.  Want to share your memories of John Bloodworth? Visit Travel Agent's Facebook page at www.facebook.com/TravelAgentMagazine

Bahamas resort goes out of business


The 170-room Island Palm Resort in Freeport, Grand Bahama, closed its doors for good on Oct. 13.

The property in downtown Freeport, formerly known as the Freeport Inn, is up for sale, according to the Bahama Tribune.

The hotel reportedly had experienced a decline in business for some time.  Guests staying at the resort when it closed were transferred to sister property Island Seas, a condo resort also in Freeport.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Royal Navy finds 61 bombs at nudist beach


Experts were called in after 26 bombs - including two submarine depth charges and at least six 10lb mortar bombs - were washed up on Leysdown Beach last month.  
Then during a two day search of the beach, on the Isle of Sheppey in Kent - the Navy found another 61 bombs, taking the total to 87!  The team found mortars, submarine depth charges, a string of 10lb bombs, bullets and a string of other ordnance, some dating back to the late 19th century, during the sweep.


The east side of the beach - often called Shellness - is an official nudist beach.  It is listed on the UK's Naturist Factfile, which states: "This official naturist beach is located near Leysdown-on-Sea at the eastern end of the Isle of Sheppey on the north Kent coast.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Are Groupon Getaways travel deals too good to be true?






Groupon has made its business of selling deals that sound too good to be true: restaurant meals for half off, dirt-cheap spa treatments, even trips to the dentist for 75 percent off the regular price. 

This has been a boon to consumers, especially during these difficult economic times.

However, with its recently launched Groupon Getaways product, Groupon is bringing the same pitch to travel. Only this time, the deals that sound too good to be true may actually be too good to be true.

While the main page features beautiful pictures of luxurious hotel rooms and sun-swept beaches that entice users to click the “Buy!” button, most come with significant restrictions.  Some restrictions on Groupon Getaways have extra ‘cleaning’ fees of $175-$400.  Some other unusual restrictions: “10% property propina not included,” “All cancelled reservations are subject to a $50 processing fee”, ” No Friday check-in with two-night option,”   “$15-per-night resort fee and 12.5% tax not included”.
Most deals also have blackout dates and availability restrictions. Blackout dates, dates when you definitely can’t use your Groupon, are disclosed up front.

“Availability” might not mean what you think it means
“Availability” is a very important restriction in the travel industry.  Much like airlines, hotels divide their rooms into multiple inventory buckets.  In order to use a Groupon, there must be availability in the Groupon bucket. Because of the low price that hotels receive for Groupon rooms, Groupon customers will be in one of the lowest availability buckets.

The reason that regular Groupons are so generous is that merchants are sold on the line that they can do the first deal at a loss and you will become a repeat customer. Hotels don’t buy that!  Read More

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Foreign Office in the UK warns rugby fans of dangers in New Zealand

The Foreign Office has provided information and advice for those travelling to New Zealand for the International Rugby Board (IRB) Rugby World Cup (RWC) 2011, which takes place between 9 September and 23 October 2011.

Their information includes Local Laws and Customs and reminds travelers that it is illegal to import most foodstuffs (meat and meat products, honey, fruit, dairy produce etc) and strict penalties are handed out to those breaking these rules

New Zealand has very strict bio-security laws. Take care when bringing in food, wood products, golf clubs, shoes/boots, camping equipment (may have soil and dirt attached), animal skin (e.g. crocodile handbags)
Do not drink alcohol before driving in New Zealand, drinking and driving laws are strictly enforced and random breathalyser tests are carried out.  New Zealand cities have alcohol free zones which are strongly enforced. Take care and note inner city signage and that it is illegal to drink alcohol on public transport including taxis

New Zealand does not have an extensive public transport system outside its main cities - so do your research.
In rural areas there can be large distances between service stations so plan ahead. Petrol stations are mostly self-service
An amber light means STOP (if you can do so safely!)
Outside of cities and towns there is little or no street lighting. Watch out for livestock wandering onto roads.

You can send updates about your location and travel movements via your mobile in NZ by texting 7233 (SAFE). These details are kept on a central database which can be accessed by NZ Police if necessary
New Zealand is subject to earthquakes and weather conditions which can quickly become treacherous.
In case of poor mobile phone reception make sure friends and family know your plans/whereabouts
If you intend to participate in adventure activities, such as bungee jumping, ensure that your travel insurance covers these types of activities

And finally the Foreign Office warns that The Rugby World Cup is likely to attract opportunistic thieves. Keep all possessions - especially your passport - secure. Do not leave possessions in unattended vehicles even if out of sight in a locked boot (trunk). 

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Twenty holiday myths exposed

The Independent
August 21 2011
Can a gin and tonic keep the mosquitoes away? Does a paper bag prevent jet lag? The Independent gets to the truth!



Why are school summer holidays so long compared with other breaks?
The long summer break is widely believed to be a throwback to Victorian demands for children to help with the harvest. However, summer holidays didn't match harvest time, as many crops were gathered in in September. State schools only existed post-1870 and holidays were whenever school boards determined they should occur. As teachers were paid by the week, they were reluctant to take a long time off. 
If I cut my foot on the beach, can I treat it with sea water?
It is, if anything, the best of a bad set of options. There is some truth that salty water kills bacteria. But most oceans are not sterile environments and there's no knowing what disease you might contract while swimming in tropical waters with an open wound. "Sea water is a stop-gap, but all wounds should be treated in the usual manner: washed, cleaned with antiseptic and appropriately dressed as soon as possible," says Dr Dilanki Ranmuthu, a GP.
Do hanging chains on the back of my car really prevent static?
No. Never did. For years, the chains and rubber "grounding" strips that dangle from bumpers have been sold with the promise of reducing static allegedly picked up by car tyres. Actually, static was rarely generated by anything except clothes rubbing against the car interior. "In the 1980s, there were heaps of driving accessories, and many of us bought into them," said the AA's Vanessa Guyll. "Many said the rubber strips prevented car sickness (and static). They did neither."
Is urine really a cure for a jellyfish bite?
No. According to Joe Mulligan, head of first aid at the British Red Cross: "Slowly pouring seawater over the sting will help ease the pain. Doing the same with vinegar can be even more effective, as the acid helps neutralise the sting. But, unless you're near a chip shop, seawater will probably be easier to find."
Do cold temperatures in a plane cargo hold mean that any bed bugs in your luggage will die en route?
Bed bugs are a lot more resilient than many people give them credit for. They can survive at low temperatures – even below freezing – for significant lengths of time. Unless you are planning on staying in the air for several days, don't rely upon this as a means of decontamination.
Does switching from being out in the sun to an air-conditioned environment cause colds?
No. Though it may be a shock to the system, a change of temperature in itself is not what makes you sick. Colds are caused by viruses that are caught from others. Many germinate on planes, where the poor air quality combined with hundreds of other people in a confined space is a breeding ground for germs. One-fifth of people who fly will come down with a cold a few days later, according to one study.
Can aspirin prevent DVT on flights?
No. Doctors have stopped recommending that long-haul flyers take aspirin to reduce their risk of deep vein-thrombosis. Why? There's no evidence it helps. DVT, which can occur if dehydration and poor circulation combine to trigger a potentially life-threatening blood clot, should instead be prevented by drinking plenty of water, wearing flight socks and taking a walk at least every two hours.
Are cheap sunglasses worse than none at all?
Yes. Specs with UV-protection may be more expensive, but they're absolutely necessary. Sunglasses without UV filters encourage the pupil to open wider, allowing greater amounts of radiation into the eyes. That can make them more risky. "The analogy is with tinted windows on a car: useful for those who want to check people out without being seen. But absolutely no form of other protection beyond delusional vanity," says Dr Ranmuthu.
Does a gin and tonic before bed actually deter mosquitoes?
No. This myth dates back to colonial India, where the British would sink tonic water, which contained quinine, to ward off mosquito-borne malaria. Nowadays, the amount of quinine in tonic is much lower, so minute in fact that it is too risky to rely on it. Creams offer the best protection, particularly as the sun goes down. Research published last week suggested mosquito nets were not as effective as previously believed, although other scientists have challenged this.
Does water go down the plughole clockwise in the northern hemisphere and anti-clockwise in the southern?
Theoretically true, anyone's guess in practice. Named the Coriolis effect, and caused by the Earth's eastward spin, it can affect anything from ocean currents to water going down the plughole. Real bathroom experiments often fail, however, because other factors overcome the effect. The shape of one's bath and the general swirl of bathwater created by getting in and out of the water can result in it travelling in either direction.
Are brown paper bags stuffed in your shoes a cure for jet lag?
No. Nothing more than an old wives' tale. The best cure for jet lag is to set your watch to the destination time from the moment you step on the plane. Drink plenty of fluids and expose yourself to bright light during daytime hours. Brown paper bags, travelling with families, and keeping your mind "blank" are little more than superstitions. Sleeping pills, Viagra and melatonin are listed among the other supposed cures – but their side-effects could be a lot worse.
Bibles in hotel rooms – is it sacrilegious to steal them?
No – in fact it's encouraged! The Gideons, the Nashville-based Christian group, have been delivering Bibles to British hotel rooms since 1949. Provided that permission is granted, the group will deliver scriptures to hotels and periodically replenish supplies. 
Can you get on a plane without a passport?
Ignore the tales of bravado from those who say they travelled across Europe with little more than a scrawny driving licence. Airports have little tolerance towards anything except valid photographic ID, while the laissez-faire days of travelling between mainland UK and Ireland have also changed. 
Is waterproof sunscreen really waterproof?
No, regardless of what it says on the tin. Even sunscreen products that boast eight-hour protection are not necessarily designed for active holidays. "If you slapped it on and didn't move, perhaps you'd be OK, but those claims should be treated with caution. 
Would that whistle on a lifejacket ever be heard by anyone?
The desperate blow of a whistle in the pitch black may have looked convincing in Titanic. But it is unlikely to lead to a happy ending in real life. You're already in a bad place, and a shrill 1970s whistle doesn't offer any guarantee of being picked up and taken to safety. 
Is it true that sitting near the emergency exit gives me the best chance of surviving a plane crash?
According to the International Bureau of Aviation, "most headline-generating crashes result in 100 per cent fatalities so seating arrangements ultimately make little difference". 
Is there anywhere I can sit on a ferry that makes it less likely I'll be seasick?
Seasickness is ultimately a case of mind over matter. Locate the part of the boat with the least movement. 
Is the advice not to swim immediately after eating an old wives' tale?
The "old wives" knew of what they spoke. Not exercising while your body is still trying to digest food, especially if you've eaten a heavy meal, is basic common sense, say doctors. 
Does suncream really lose half its SPF every year past its sell-by date?
Just about. In the wacky world of skin protection, a half-sunk bottle of last year's factor 30 is better than none at all. But don't expect miracles. 
Do wasps really get irritated if I bat them away?
Yes. Wasps prey on aphids and are attracted to fruit as well as the contents of a picnic basket. A swat not only annoys them, but it heightens the chances of being stung or, worse, the insect returning to the nest and marshalling others for a mass onslaught.

Friday, August 19, 2011

President Obama said the internet was replacing Travel Agents. Ouch! what was he thinking!


Obama blames the internet for the high unemployment rate at the Town Hall meeting in Atkinson, Ill and is now getting flack from travel agents regarding his remarks.  It is evident that the president does not understand the travel business.


In his talk, Obama said, “one of the challenges in terms of rebuilding our economy is businesses have gotten so efficient that........when was the last time somebody used a travel agent instead of just going online? A lot of jobs that used to be out there requiring people now have become automated.”

In an effort to educate the President, ASTA sent a letter informing the president that today, the U.S. travel agency industry has nearly 10,000 U.S. travel agency firms operating in 15,000 locations with an annual payroll of $6.3 billion and that the travel businesses produce full-time employment for more than 120,000 U.S. taxpayers.

Further, the U.S. travel agency industry processes more than $146 billion in annual travel sales, accounting for more than 50 percent of all travel sold, according to ASTA. This includes the processing of more than 50 percent of all airline tickets, more than 79 percent of tours and more than 78 percent of all cruises. It also helps more than 144 million travelers get where they want to go each year.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Von Essen bid deadline is Friday, August 19th, 2011 for 26 of Britain's Finest Hotels


Clivedon, one of Von Essen Hotels

The deadline for bids for the 26 Von Essen hotels which became available after the group went into administration is 19 August.

Christie & Co, who are the agents in charge of their sale and administrators Ernst & Young decided to extend the deadline by more than a month to allow them to sort through the 'sheer weight' of bids that had already been made and allow new bidders to enter the process.
A spokesman for Christie & Co said they would have a second round of 'best and final bids' in time for the new deadline.