Travelling Solo Is The New Trend for UK Holidaymakers

The number of people choosing to travel alone is increasing as an entirely new generation of single travellers is happily taking to the road.

New research carried out by Solo Holidays, a UK-based travel specialist for single travellers, has reported that around 60 percent of travellers, who are single and in the age group of 35 to 50 years, stated that vacations are extremely important to them.

Around 40 percent of these travellers feel that there is no stigma attached to being single these days, as the social perception of being single is no longer negative.

Stressing their need to travel, 70 percent of the respondents in the age group have reported an intention to travel for the same number of days for the next three years, despite the continuing downturn in the UK economy, while 23 percent reported that they may take longer vacations in future.

Andrew Williams, the managing director for Solos Holidays, said, ‘The singles market is the fastest growing sector in travel today, and we have been leading the way in this market place for over 30 years. Today we are seeing a rapidly growing 35-50 year old single traveller market, which no longer sees a stigma in travelling solo, and we continue to adapt our offer to cater to their needs and to ensure we remain top of our field.’

At least one in five respondents over the age of 50 years stated that they still have a ‘keen sense of adventure’ and often choose a solo holiday for added relaxation.

 

Virgin Trains Announces Legal Proceedings for West Coast Main Line Franchise

Virgin Trains, a UK-based train company, has commenced court proceedings against a decision by the UK’s Department of Transport to award the West Coast Main Line franchise to FirstGroup, a Scotland-based transport company.

Virgin Trains has been operating the railway service since 1997, but the Department for Transport has awarded the new franchise contract for December 2012 to 2026 to First Group. Angered by the decision, the company has collected around 150,000 signatures for a campaign to force a parliamentary discussion over the allotting of the contract to First Group.

Confirming the legal action, a company statement said, ‘We have tried for three weeks to get clarity over the Department for Transport’s decision and to have a number of key questions answered. On each occasion we have been refused information.

We are left with no choice but to commence Court proceedings as we believe the procurement process has ignored the substantial risks to taxpayers and customers of delivering FirstGroup’s bid over the course of the franchise.’

Sir Richard Branson, the founder of Virgin Group, said, ‘We had hoped that Parliament or an external review would be able to scrutinise this badly flawed process before the franchise was signed. However that opportunity would be denied if the DfT follows through with its determination to rush through the process before Parliament returns next week.

That ignores the wishes of more than 150,000 people who signed the Downing St e-petition in 10 days, the Labour Opposition, two important Commons committees and many backbench Conservative MPs who wanted a debate before the decision is taken, not a post-mortem afterwards.

We have not taken this decision lightly, but it is the only course now available to try to unravel this sorry process.’

The company claims that the Department for Transport’s own review placed Virgin’s bid as more deliverable and at lower risk.

 

Ryanair Announces New and Expanded Routes

Ryanair, an Ireland-based low cost airline, is offering new and expanded routes between the UK and destinations in Ireland and Europe.

The airline has expanded its service between Kerry, in Ireland, and London Stansted Airport to a daily return flight, an increase on its previous three return flights per week.

The new services commence from November 7, 2012, and will complement the airline’s daily return flight service between Kerry and London Luton Airport. The airline is offering a EUR16 Seat Sale for the newly expanded service.

The airline sales and marketing manager, Maria Macken, said, ‘Ryanair is pleased to announce increased frequencies on its Kerry-London Stansted route, which will operate daily from 7th November giving passengers in the South West a choice of two London destinations for winter 2012.

This is great news for tourism in the South West as Londoners, keen to snap up good value hotel and golf breaks in the region, now have even more options when travelling to Kerry.’

The airline has also announced two new winter routes from Manchester to Gdansk and Riga, from November 2012. The new winter schedule from Manchester Airport will include 18 routes, catering for around 1.3 million passengers per year.

Announcing the new route, the airline head of communications, Stephen McNamara, said, ‘Ryanair is pleased to announce 2 new Manchester routes to Gdansk and Riga from Nov 2012 as we grow our winter Manchester schedule to 18 routes, which will deliver over 1.3m passengers per annum at Manchester Airport, sustaining over 1,300 ‘on-site’ jobs.’

 

Tourist Mecca Marbella threatened by wildfires

Wildfires that have been ravaging the Spanish Costa del Sol are now threatening the popular tourist resort of Marbella.

The blaze began on Thursday afternoon at Coin, near the¬† tourist¬†destination of Malaga, but soon spread to threaten other towns along the holiday coastline. Evacuations have been widespread, with 3,300 people fleeing the town of Ojen alone. Malaga is the latest town to issue evacuation advice, with holidaymakers prepared to leave villas and hotels at the resort’s busiest time of the year.

These mainland wildfires come in the wake of previous fires on the Spanish-owned Canary Islands of La Gomera and Tenerife, and others near the Pyrenees Mountains in Spain’s northern province of Catalonia. An exceptionally dry and hot summer that has left foliage tinder dry is being blamed for the spate of blazes in the country.

Hundreds of fire fighters have been called into the area and reports also suggest that 17 fire-fighting aircraft are being used to tackle the blaze. However, wind direction is likely to be the biggest contributor in the on-going battle, with the hopes that a sudden change could divert the flames in a less critical direction.

According to Spanish authorities, two people have suffered serious burns, and there has been significant damage to property in the area.

Figures are not yet available on how many British holidaymakers are in the area, but as it is a long time favourite with holidaymakers from the UK, and as this is a peak holiday time, numbers are likely to be considerable. The Costa del Sol is also home to a sizeable community of British ex-pats.

 

Glasgow Airport Launches Latest Safety System for Air Traffic Control

Glasgow airport is the first airport in the world to install a new cutting edge safety enhancement technology developed by NATS, the UK based company that provides air traffic services and solutions.

The system uses NASA satellite data to create a three-dimensional map of the ground around Glasgow Airport, and uses it as a model to test unsafe altitudes. The technology will allow air traffic controllers to test flight paths with perfect accuracy, while maintaining a safe distance from the ground.

NATS senior systems engineer, Andrew Wood, said, ‘This is the first system in the UK to use 3D terrain mapping in a live operational environment.

The new system is the most accurate in the world. It brings improved safety for aircraft and passengers and will give controllers even greater confidence.

The system has been verified to trigger when aircraft are either entering a dangerous rate of descent or are in close proximity to the ground.

We had to ensure that the alerts being raised were valid, as well as proving that no aircraft in danger were failing to trigger alerts.’

The successful launch of the programme will have assured the expansion of the technology to other airports in the UK.

NATS engineering director, Iain Harris, said, ‘This project has been developed in-house by NATS from the ground up and is a prime example of our ability to innovate for enhanced safety performance.’

The current project is a result of joint efforts between NATS and the Safety Regulation Group of the UK’s Civil Aviation Authority (CAA).

 

Foreign Office Launches Plan.Pack.Explore Travel App

The UK’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO), a UK government agency that is concerned with the interests of UK citizens overseas, has recently released a new travel app for UK residents going abroad.

The ‘Plan.Pack.Explore’ app is a new travel guide that is mainly aimed at gap year travellers planning a trip abroad. The guide includes travel health advice, how the FCO can and cannot help travellers abroad, how to get the right visa and keep money safe, as well as examples, case studies, and reference maps.

Explaining the app, Khalida Cox, the spokesperson of the Know Before You Go team at the FCO, said, ‘Now that exam results are out and people start considering a gap year, preparation can be daunting for young people and their parents, particularly if it is a trip away without family for the first time.

Plan.Pack.Explore. helps travellers understand exactly what they need to do before they go away and provides essential information for parents in the run up to the big trip. The guide will also be invaluable for those who book last minute travel and need essential travel preparation advice quickly.

Gap years should be all about having fun, exploring the world and hopefully enhancing your CV but if you are not prepared before you go away, things can go horribly wrong.

Statistics show that over the last six months, one in four of 16-24 year olds travelled without insurance and only a quarter made health related preparations before going overseas. This leaves them at risk of facing really high bills for medical care or repatriation.’

 

British Travellers Research for Six Weeks before Booking a Vacation

Researching your next holiday might take longer than you think, according to the results of a recent survey.

A study by a UK based online independent travel agency, sunshine.co.uk, has reported that the average British traveller spends around 24 hours researching for holidays on the Internet, before making their reservations.

The study of 1,049 British travellers that visited the company’s website has revealed that they research for around 4.5 hours every week, for around six weeks, before they actually book their vacation. This tends to suggest that a surprising amount of thought goes into a vacation before customers actually commit themselves to a booking.

According to the survey, the top five things visitors look for when booking a hotel are air conditioning (which was voted for by 77 percent); a sea view (64 percent); a swimming pool (61 percent); good food (58 percent); and that it is child-friendly (53 percent).

Chris Clarkson, the co-founder of sunshine.co.uk, said, ‘Of course it’s important to make sure you’ve booked a holiday that’s right for you and that you know you’d enjoy, but you shouldn’t over-think things when searching for your next destination or hotel to visit. You can end up overcomplicating things by being too picky and then you just end up going round in circles.

If you aren’t just returning to a destination that you know and love and are searching for somewhere new, ask family and friends for their recommendations and use that as inspiration. The most important thing is that you are getting the best deal, so it’s important to shop around or look for agents with a low price guarantee.’

 

Skyline enters into partnership with Volcanic Hills to make Rotorua a wine destination

Rotorua in New Zealand is preparing to offer a new reason for tourists to visit the lakeside city, the chance to sample wine in the area where it is produced.

A new partnership between Skyline Rotorua and Volcanic Hills wines is expected to attract wine aficionados to the area, which is already home to a range of other tourist destinations. The plan is to create a winery at the base of the Skyline Rotorua site. Once the winery commences operation, it will offer customers an opportunity to see how the wine is made. If they are interested in exploring further, they can embark on a romantic tour to taste the wine, by taking a gondola to a tasting room within the mountaintop complex.

Organisers are confident that offering wine tasting will certainly enhance tourist inflows into the city, which already draws a steady stream of visitors with its picturesque mountains and placid lakes.

If plans proceed as planned, the tasting room in the old gondola terminal will be open to the public in December, though the winery could take longer to complete. Organisers are working towards having the first vintage made on site by March next year.

Skyline Rotorua’s general manager, Bruce Thomasen, said, ‘Rotorua’s heritage of hosting visitors is first-class, while New Zealand is internationally renowned for making good wine, so this venture is complementary to everything we offer. No-where else in New Zealand – and perhaps the world – can you take a gondola to a wine tasting experience with a 180-degree view of our stunning city and lake. The development is also a nice local story. We want people to be proud of what we have to offer in Rotorua and this new partnership combines two of the most iconic experiences in New Zealand – stunning views and great wine in a complete package.’

Werner Naude and Darryl Church of Darryl Church Architecture in Rotorua have designed the winery, and Kathryn Taylor from The Ivory Studio in Auckland has designed the interiors. Volcanic Hills was launched in 2009 and it sells wines to restaurants around the North Island.

 

JetBlue facilitates pet travel

JetBlue has announced the launch of a pass that will allow pets on board its flights.

The air carrier has launched a new pass called ‘All-Your-Pet-Can-Jet’. The offer will allow the company’s customers to travel with their pets on board without having to pay out extra fees. This will enable passengers who are apprehensive about leaving their pets at home to take them on a vacation and enjoy the holiday with their companion at their side.

The airline’s offer is as follows; for USD299, customers can bring one pet with them. It is a requirement that the pet that accompanies the traveller needs to conform with JetBlue’s carry-on size and weight regulations for pets. The pet accompanying the customers can travel on any JetBlue flights between September 7 and December 31, and there are no holiday blackout dates. Without the new pet pass, each individual flight that the pet takes with its owner would be charged at USD100.

To benefit from the offer, pet lovers that do not want to be separated from their pets have until September 5 to buy a pass, which may be purchased directly at ShopBlue.com. The company has placed certain restrictions on such passes, one being that routes to Saint Lucia, Barbados and Jamaica are excluded from the facility. Pets also need to have all their veterinary paper work in order to be allowed on flights. It is also believed that only four-legged pets will be allowed.

To make the pet pass worthwhile, customers will have to fly on more than three one-way trips with their pets before the end of the year.

 

Virtuoso to help with travel planning

New York-based Virtuoso, a global travel agency network, has announced that it is conducting a virtual travel show that will help customers to plan their travel.

The company said that it was holding its virtual travel show on September 5. Customers who need to plan their travel can do so in the comfort of their homes or from anywhere where they have Internet connectivity. The firm said that the show would allow travellers to access invaluable travel information from well-known names in the industry, through a browser.

The show, to be hosted on September 5 between 1pm and 6pm local time, will be the firm’s first Mexico, South America and Caribbean Virtual Travel Show. Those planning to attend the event will have the chance to share ideas online with 21 of the world’s best South American, Mexican and Caribbean travel companies. In addition, Virtuoso’s travel advisors will be on hand to answer client’s questions. Customers can plan their own perfect getaway, or even have one tailor-made for them. Specific destinations that will be covered for the event include Chile, Mexico, Peru and Argentina. These destinations are already popular with active travellers, families, honeymooners and singles.

Like any other major show, attendees will be treated to offers, including free nights’ stay, spa services and resort credits. Hotel upgrades, complimentary round-trip transfers and special saving offers will also form part of the incentives that are available. In addition, the first 100 attendees could win cash gift cards.

Kristi Jones, president and COO of Virtuoso, said, ‘What separates this experience from a typical web search is that it’s interactive rather than one-sided and, more importantly, everything has been vetted by Virtuoso; there’s no clutter of unwanted material or concern that a product has been misrepresented. Whether new to the Virtuoso network or an established client, consumers will find value in the information exchange with some of Virtuoso’s most renowned travel companies, as well as access to some of the best travel advisors in the industry. Participants will come away from it better informed and inspired to see the world.’

Attendees need to register in advance at www.virtuoso.com.