Luxury Holidays Becoming Latest Travel Trend in UK

Luxury holidays are fast gaining popularity in Britain, even if the nation is still in an economic downturn.

The luxury and budget holiday markets have experienced the highest growth in the UK holiday market recently. Families are reportedly saving all year around to take luxury breaks in international destinations.

Thomas Cook Group, a UK-based travel company, has reported an increase in luxury holidays, including all-inclusive trips, adventure holidays and stays in exotic locales.

Holidays to Cuba and luxury Mexico breaks are gaining ground with British vacationers, who are keen to travel halfway across the world for the perfect holiday.

Earlier, Association of British Travel Agents (ABTA), a UK-based association of travel agents, estimated that around 13 million UK holidaymakers will be taking a long distance vacation in July and August, 2012, with 90% heading to countries around the Mediterranean Sea, such as Spain.

Victoria Bacon, the head of communication at ABTA, said, ‘The UK is a beautiful country with exceptional holiday appeal but the weather this year has been setting records for all the wrong reasons and it is no surprise that millions of us are looking to head off overseas for more reliable weather and high temperatures.

British holidaymakers will also get a pleasant surprise in their favourite Eurozone destinations with the pound 10% stronger than last year. It’s important that people book sooner rather than later as late offers are proving popular.’

British Travellers Enjoy Travelling to Spain on Holidays

Spain remains the most favourite destination of British holiday travellers, says a recent study by Holiday Hypermarket, a UK based holiday comparison community.

Spain maintains attractive holiday bargains and remains a favourite amongst British travellers, as well as having short flight durations from the UK airports, and favourable currency exchange rates, which add to its attraction as a travel destination.

British travellers are the top spenders in Spain, and have registered an increase of 11.1% expenditure in the area for the first five months of 2012.

Calum Macdonald, the E-commerce manager at Holiday Hypermarket, said, ‘Spain is on our list of best destinations because it’s within easy reach of UK airports, served by almost all airlines and travel vendors, and it’s well equipped to accommodate high numbers of holidaymakers.

Relaxing on the Costa Blanca in summer sunshine is one of life’s simple pleasures, and as a result we’re encouraging people to take advantage of our summer deals.’

According to the Spanish Institute of Tourism Studies, Spain is one of the most frequently visited countries for British travellers, with a major increase in British travellers to the country between January and May in 2012.

The Ministry of Industry, Energy and Tourism in UK has reported that UK holiday makers are spending around €114 per day on average, indicating a rise of 4% from 2011.

British Airways Increases Service from London Heathrow to Dublin

British Airways, the UK based airline, will be offering double the number of flights between Dublin and London Heathrow airport in its 2012-2013 winter schedule.

The route was earlier operated by British Midland International (bmi) airline, and was recently acquired by UK-based airline holding company and parent company of British Airline, International Airlines Group (IAG).

British Airline has announced its winter 2012 schedule and a new timetable, offering increased daily services to Dublin – from four to eight return flights. The new schedule will be effective from October 28, 2012. The route will be operated using 150-seater A319 aircraft.

Simon Daly, the airline sales manager in Ireland, said, ‘I am delighted to see the British Airways colours back in Dublin after an absence of 20 years. We appreciate the importance of air links to London and are pleased to announce that less than two months after taking over this route, we are now able to respond to customer demand and increase capacity.

Our improved schedule also sees us adding a new early morning departure time from Dublin which will mean that passengers will be able to extend their working day should they need to.

In addition, it offers both business and leisure passengers greater choice in terms of connections to our extensive global network at London Heathrow bringing destinations on the world map closer to Ireland, benefiting Irish businesses, tourism and Ireland as a whole.’

The airline is offering all-inclusive fares, with a 23kg baggage allowance, complimentary online check-in, and choice of seats.

Growing trend for bequeathing travel

People are inventing ever more ingenious possibilities for passing on an inheritance, and many are now planning ‘heir travel’, travel packages and programmes bequeathed to their heirs.

While tangible inheritances such as property, paintings or even vintage cars were popular in previous years as prized bequests to inheritors, there is a growing trend to offer holiday packages to those beneficiaries that appreciate travel and leisure. The proposition is interesting even for those who would generally rather stay at home than travel, considering its financial implications.

Social analysts feel that there are many reasons why people think that travel needs to be part of one’s legacy. Some want their children to be connected with family members, while others want their children to experience life in other parts of the world. Others see it is a prudent capital management, and travel trust funds are becoming increasingly popular regardless of the base motivation.

The trend has been so popular that some firms are offering solutions for trust creation and travel planning because tax benefits may be derived when a trust is created.

In an interview with Associated Press, Travel Beyond president, Jim Bendt, said, ‘You could give them money and they could go and buy a new car with it, or you could give them this and they can use it to create memories. If you give a child a big inheritance outright, it’s exposed to their creditors, to their divorces. A trust is absolutely something that people should consider.’

Some parents provide such packages with philosophic intensions. These parents feel that they are affecting the behaviour of their offspring in a positive way, by exposing them to the world through travel experiences.

Bon Beer Voyage for beer lovers

Bon Beer Voyage, a Boynton Beach, Florida-based company, has announced a plan to offer beer vacations for those who enjoy a glass of beer while holidaying.

Ruth Berman and Michael Arra, co-owners of Bon Beer Voyage, said that they are offering the tour programme to allow beer connoisseurs to visit sites in Europe and to have the chance to taste exquisite beers from these regions. The couple started their business in 2010 with an initial contract from British Airways.

Berman said, ‘Michael and I have always enjoyed craft beers. We were on a bike and barge tour in Europe, where we brought beer to share with others. I realized there were many wine tours of Europe, but no beer tours. We came back to Florida and I said, ‘the time has come. I want to plan the type of tour I would be interested in going on. I want everything to be perfect and ‘brew-nique.’

In September, Berman and Arra are planning to leave for St. Augustine for a Weekend Beer Safari. They say that they are also planning to combine good beer experiences with good and authentic food experiences from around the world. The couple added that the tours they are now offering are personalised and limited in number.

In October, the duo is planning a barge cruise and vacation to Belgium and France. In Belgium, the itinerary will cover legendary breweries including Chimay and the In de Vrede cafe at Westvleteren. Saint Bernardus, a brewery renowned for its abbey-style beers and a brewery Van Eecke, which has been brewing beers since 1600, will also be visited by the tour.

In France, the tour programme will cover Brasserie Thiriez, Brasserie St. Germain and Brasserie Bailleux.

Conservation group purchases grasslands in Montana

A conservation group is buying up grassland in Montana, USA, with the intention of returning it to its natural state.

Tourists and conservationists have long been attracted to eastern Montana’s prairie, and have often been at odds with cattle ranchers for whom the area’s nature and conservation is of secondary importance to their business interests.

The grasslands, which have been such a hit with eco tourists, were often marred by thousands of miles of fences that were erected to fence in cattle. Philanthropists and conservationists are now pulling down the fences and returning the grasslands to their natural state.

The fences break up the habitat for native wildlife and hamper their movement across the varying grassland regions. When the fences are taken away, new corridors are opened up for the migration of wildlife.

Some areas in eastern Montana’s cattle country, the American Prairie Reserve, are being converted into a wildlife sanctuary. The area, once owned and operated by private cattle ranchers, have the potential to develop into natural reserves that could be larger than Connecticut, and even provide competition for some the greatest national parks in the West.

On Tuesday of this week, a Bozeman-based group purchased the 150,000-acre South Ranch and plans to develop the grassland as a natural reserve. When the deal closes, it will double the amount of public and private property under the reserve’s control, just north of the CM Russell National Wildlife Refuge, which is also close to the Canadian border.

Scientists said that the move would support an ecosystem that includes hundreds of species of birds, mammals, plants and insects. Organisers said that they were aiming for a free flow of wildlife made up of pronghorn antelope, predators and up to 10,000 bison, across three million acres or more of public and private land.

UK a haven for serious walkers

Sun lovers, skiers and cruise fans might all need to vacate these shores to discover their ideal holiday, but what the UK has in abundance are opportunities for the serious walker.

A serious walker is someone who rises early and, after a hearty breakfast in a local hostelry, sets off to walk until early evening, stopping only to eat their packed lunch and to admire the view. Undeterred by inclement weather or an arduous path, the serious walker lives for the wide-open spaces and the anticipation of the panorama that awaits them over the next rise.

A must have notch on the walking stick of any serious walker is the coast to coast walk from St Bees in Cumbria to Robin Hood’s Bay in Northumberland. There are 191 picturesque miles between the start point on the Irish Sea and the finish point on the North Sea, including vistas in the Lake District national park, Swaledale, the North Yorkshire Moors and the Eskdale and Goathland Valleys. The route is peppered with villages that have long catered for coast-to-coast walkers, with bed and breakfast accommodation widely available, but best booked beforehand. So popular is the route that other services have sprung up to help the walkers on their way, with companies ready to book accommodation on route and even provide a bag transportation service to lighten the load.

Further north, the West Highland Way in Scotland might appear a comparative stroll at  a mere 95 miles in length, but the route takes the walker through some of the most wild and awe inspiring landscape that the Scottish Highlands has to offer. Starting at a concrete obelisk in Milngavie, just 6 miles northeast of Glasgow city centre, the path meanders past Loch Lomond, continues on to the towns of Tyndrum and Bridge of Orchy, with the chance to spy deer around Inveroran, before coming to the path’s end in Fort William.

Possibly too much even for most serious walkers to attempt in one trip, the famous Pennine Way extends to 266 miles, from Edale in the Peak District National Park, to Kirk Yetholm on the northern edge of the Northumberland National Park. It can offer challenging walking, even as smaller segments chosen to suit the time available, with the lengthy section through the Yorkshire Dales being particularly popular.

And these are just the tip of the iceberg, with the likes of the Great Glen Way in Scotland, the Dales Highway in Yorkshire, the Cotswolds Way in the south Midlands and the South Downs Way in the south of England, still not even scratching the surface of the tracks and trails that weave across most of the UK.

For those who like their walks to also be a social occasion, the Ramblers Association in the UK organises a range of walking events and has 500 active local groups all across the country. More information is available on www.ramblers.org.uk.