Volcano eruptions in New Zealand expected to help tourism

A recent volcano eruption in New Zealand is expected to help tourism in the nation.

After an eruption warning was issued for Mt Tongariro, scientists are now looking to reassess the threat after a drop in volcanic activity. The tourism department is however hopeful that the ‘significant probability’ that Mt Tongariro would erupt again in the next week would turn out to be good for tourism in general.

Initial signs look promising, because Tongariro’s Te Maari crater erupted for about five minutes on Wednesday afternoon, emitting a plume of ash and gas up to four kilometres into the air. Trekkers on the popular Tongariro Alpine Crossing were asked to evacuate, and Air New Zealand flights to regional airports at Taupo, Rotorua and Gisborne were cancelled or re-directed.

Tourism authorities feel that the attention that the nation receives because of the eruption will be converted into tourism revenues. The area is known for its volcanic activity, and international tourists have already been visiting the nation to see its volcanoes.

Visit Ruapehu general manager, Mike Smith, said, ‘For now we’re in the spotlight, and sometimes that can turn out to be a positive. If it’s short term, which we all hope it is, then these things have a funny way of working out in a positive way. If it’s longer term, and particularly over a number of weeks, then it’s more challenging.’

The volcano, which had been inactive for 115 years, burst to life in August.

Civil Defence authorities have said that the threat of an eruption is no longer valid and a national advisory has been cancelled.


Tourism helps to increase gorilla population in Uganda

Figures show that tourism has played a significant part in increasing the number of gorillas in Africa.

Recent statistics show that the population of Uganda’s mountain gorillas has grown to 400, from 302 in 2006. This means that the number of mountain gorillas in Africa has increased to 880, which is good news for conservationists who have been trying to save the species from extinction.

Uganda is home to nearly half of the world’s mountain gorillas that remain in the wild. This distinction has helped the nation’s tourism industry, and it has become a source of stability for the nation that depends on tourism revenues for its overall development. After Uganda, the rest of the surviving mountain gorillas are located in Congo and Rwanda.

Uganda’s tourism department said, ‘The increase in the population of mountain gorillas in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is testimony to the sound natural resource management policies that are being implemented in the protected areas. This result confirms beyond reasonable doubt that Uganda’s conservation efforts are paying off.’

Most of the conservation efforts in the nation are focused on the Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, a network of jungle forests deep in the country’s southwestern frontier. The national forest is recognised by UNESCO as a heritage site of world value.

A permit to track gorillas at the national park costs at least USD500, and the World Wildlife Fund estimates that each gorilla brings in up to USD1m in revenue each year for the East African country. Even though some of the local population had earlier hunted gorillas, Ugandan wildlife officials have been able to build successful partnerships with local communities by helping local projects and converting previously hostile groups into friendly advocates for the gorillas’ survival.


Great Wolf Lodge Niagara Falls wins award

Great Wolf Lodge Niagara Falls has received an award from the Canadian Tourism Human Resource Council (CTHRC).

The award was issued for Excellence in Human Resources. The lodge was also a finalist for the Air Canada Business of the Year Award. The Tourism Industry Association of Canada (TIAC) hosted the annual 2012 Canadian Tourism Awards, and The Toronto Star and VISA Canada presented them.

The Canadian Tourism Awards are presented annually by the TIAC to recognise success, leadership and innovation in Canada’s tourism industry. Organisers award people, places, organisations and events that have contributed to furthering tourism in the nation, and which offer a superior tourism experience to travellers in Canada.

Keith Simmonds, general manager of Great Wolf Lodge, said, ‘This is a tremendous honour for our Lodge and is no small feat. Our HR practices define our culture and the success of our business. This recognition reflects the passion and commitment of a large team of people.’

In addition to the recent award, the Tourism Industry Association of Ontario (TIAO) had acknowledged the Lodge with the TIAO Employee Attraction & Retention award in October.

The lodge offers many attractions and amenities, such as indoor and outdoor water parks, themed restaurants, a spa for adults, a separate ‘Scooops Spa’ for kids, a ‘Cub Club’ activity centre and a children’s craft room. In addition, a MagiQuest live adventure game, an arcade, fitness centre and outdoor mini golf are also star attractions at the resort.

It is located at 3950 Victoria Avenue.


Christmas Market Trips Increase in 2012

Many more British travellers are booking special Christmas Market packages offered by travel agents, according to the Association of British Travel Agents (ABTA), a UK-based travel agency association.

There has been a 20 percent increase in bookings for overseas Christmas markets, compared to the same time last year, ABTA has reported.

Christmas markets are traditionally featured in Northern Europe and begin in mid to late November, with many continuing to remain open all through December and into the New Year. In recent years, many cities in the UK have started hosting these markets, which have become popular with UK holidaymakers wanting to experience an authentic and traditional Christmas.

Victoria Bacon, the head of communications at ABTA, said, ‘Christmas shopping can often be a chore but Christmas markets take you back to a time when everything about this time of year was magical. The growth in popularity of the markets also supports the wider trend we are seeing of holidaymakers seeking out more authentic and local experiences.

The markets, both here and overseas, are a wonderful opportunity for people to enjoy an early winter break, with many travel companies offering packages by air, rail, coach or even on a river cruise.’

Dresden, in Germany, hosts Germany’s oldest Christmas market, with stores selling the country’s traditional Christmas cake, Stollen. Prague, in the Czech Republic, has Christmas markets near the old town square. In Vienna, Austria, Christmas markets claim to offer the best coffee and cakes in Europe, at the Wurstelprater fairground.

Heidelburg, in Germany, is hosting a Christmas market in the centre of the medieval town, as does Birmingham in the UK, and Paris, France.


easyJet Announces Partnership with Spanish Hotel Brand, Paradores

easyJet, the UK based airline, is partnering with Spanish hotel brand, the Paradores de Turismo de Espana, for its website visitors.

In one of the first collaborations of its kind, the airline website will be featuring a collection of 94 of the Paradores brand’s individual properties. The accommodations will be available to book for short breaks and long stays as a part of the airline’s holiday deals, through the easyJet Holidays website.

Located across mainland Spain and the Canary Islands, the Paradores brand claims to offer a unique experience at each of its resort properties, with a quintessentially Spanish ambience.

Paul Simmons, the easyJet director for the UK, said, ‘We are extremely excited to be the first airline to bring Paradores to our customers via this partnership.

It further strengthens our presence in Spain and is a part of a strategic decision which we’ve actively made to offer even more choice via a well respected and sought after hospitality brand that is synonymous with Spain.’

The current partnership will ensure that at every destination served by the airline in Spain, there will be a Paradores property offering accommodation.

Angeles Alarco, the president of Pardores de Turismo, said, ‘We are very excited to establish this partnership with easyJet, who are such a significant generator of visitors to Spain, and to facilitate easy access from the UK to our many properties. There is a perfect synergy between the Paradores and easyJet with both offering a quality product with consistency to a broad demographic market and an accessible price point; we are confident that the partnership will enable more travellers from the UK to discover our unique taste of Spain.’

The airline is currently offering around 19 Spanish routes from 11 airports in the UK. It will be adding London Gatwick to Santiago de Compostela in Spain from June 2013. Of the 60 million passengers the airline fly every year, around 13 million of them fly to Spain.

The airline is also partnering with car rental company, Europcar, to offer its passengers car hire and airport transfers.


Ryanair Announces Termination of Birmingham-Budapest service

Ryanair, an Ireland-based low-cost airline, is trimming its services to Budapest in Hungary from the UK.

The airline is planning to reduce its routes to Budapest, by terminating its services from Birmingham Airport. The airline is blaming the cuts on Budapest Airport’s decision to increase its charges, and plans to reduce its five aircraft fleet based out of Budapest airport to three, as a result.

The airline is also considering cutting back on its routes from Budepest to Baden, Bologna, Dusseldorf, Krakow, Lubeck, Malaga, Munich, Oslo and Thessaloniki in Europe.

The airline is also planning to reduce its capacities on nine of the twenty remaining routes from Budapest.

Michael O’Leary, the airline chief executive officer, said, ‘Ryanair regrets Hochtief Budapest Airport’s decision to increase charges, impose inefficient facilities and reject our proposals for a competitive growth offer which would have allowed Ryanair to grow traffic and routes at Budapest.

Ryanair will now switch 2 aircraft from Budapest with the loss of 10 routes, reductions on 9 others and the loss of 110 weekly flights. Sadly, 800,000 passengers per annum and over 800 jobs will be lost by Budapest to other airports elsewhere in Europe, where Ryanair will continue to grow.

With 1.2m passengers and 20 routes, Ryanair will remain one of the 2 largest airlines operating at Budapest, but Hochtief cannot continue to ignore the competitive marketplace, where airports all over Europe have been reducing costs and offering efficient facilities in return for traffic growth. We hope there is a way to reverse these cuts to ensure further Ryanair growth at Budapest.’

The airline has recently introduced its new onboard menu offering a full range of food, snacks and drinks. The Getaway Cafe includes new menu additions, as well as traditional onboard favourites. The service is also offering a gourmet Snack Pack box and economical monthly meal bargains.