Transport for London Announces Guidelines for Festive Days

Transport for London (TfL), a UK-based government agency responsible for transport system in Greater London, is offering free New Year’s Eve travel to party goers, in a second year of collaboration with alcohol manufacturing company, Diageo.

The agency has issued its online annual Festive Travel Guide for London residents and visitors travelling within the city during the Christmas holiday period, offering detailed information on Tube, buses, Docklands Light Railway (DLR), Tramlink, London Overground, Emirates Air Line, Riverboat services, Barclays Cycle Hire and the Congestion Charge.

The agency has also announced complimentary travel between 23:45hrs on December 31, 2012, and 04:30hrs on January 1, 2012 on the Tube, buses, trams, DLR, and trains for the convenience of the festive revellers.

Peter Hendy, the Transport Commissioner, CBE, said, ‘Our plans are that the transport networks will operate throughout the festive season with the exception of Christmas Day when all our services will be closed.

The network will operate reduced services when appropriate and we will also take the opportunity of this quieter time to carry out engineering works as part of the continuing Tube upgrade programme.

I urge everyone to plan their journeys in advance by visiting the festive travel website and looking out for posters across our network.

I am pleased that we are able to continue providing free travel for travellers on New Year’s Eve through sponsorship with Diageo. For those wishing to brave the crowds to come into central London to celebrate, public transport is the only way to get around London on New Year’s Eve.’

TfL has been offering complimentary travel on New Year’s Eve since 2001. The agency, in 2011, entered into a three year agreement with Diageo, according to which Diageo will be sponsoring complimentary travel on New Year’s Eve, as part of its responsible drinking programme.

British Airways Offers Windows 8 App Mobile App

British Airways (BA), a premier UK airline, has recently introduced an app for its customers using a device on the brand new Windows 8 platform.

The new airline app, the first one in Europe for Windows 8, will allow customers move from one feature to other, access destination reviews, view local news for the destinations, search locations through interactive maps, as well as search and book airline flights at

The app has been designed keeping in mind the unique features of Windows 8, including search and share functionality that allows users to access and share content across the social media platforms.

Richard Bowden, the digital marketing innovation manager for British Airways, said, ‘Our relationship with Microsoft continues to excite, because of our shared desire to innovate and use technology to explore new ways to improve the customer experience.

We believe our new integrated app delivers an exciting experience to users of Windows 8, giving British Airways customers a new way to explore and book the destinations we fly to every day.’

The app also features easy to use navigation, interactive maps, the latest fares and travel snippets from customers with ‘insider advice’ from destinations they’ve flown.

John Richards, the senior director of Windows App Marketing for Microsoft, said, ‘The new British Airways app is a great example of the innovative and engaging apps available in the Windows Store.

We are pleased the British Airways app takes advantage of the unique features of Windows 8, such integration with the Search and Share charms and automatic updates through tiles.’

FCO Warns Travellers against Ski Injuries This Winter

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO), a UK government agency controlling interests of the UK overseas, has urged winter sports holidaymakers to exercise caution before hitting the slopes.

The agency is campaigning for raising awareness amidst Britons visiting European winter sports resorts this winter, against the dangers of attempting to ski on mountain slopes beyond their physical fitness levels.

The agency reported that in 2012, there have been around 12 serious accidents reported from the ski slopes in France, with seven resulting in deaths.

New research conducted by the FCO stated that only 1% of the respondents who visit ski slopes regard themselves as expert skiers, while the others rate themselves as beginner or intermediate skiers.

Around two thirds (65%) of winter sports travellers have admitted to skiing or snowboarding on slopes beyond their expertise in order to stay with a peer group; while 70% admitted to not having worn a helmet while skiing or snowboarding, highlighting a lack of awareness amongst ski loving Britons.

Simon Taylor, the UK Consul based in Marseille, France, said, ‘Last year we saw a high number of British nationals end up in hospital with serious injuries. Sadly this included a number of deaths. Many of these accidents can be prevented by taking simple precautionary steps.

Don’t make the mistake of assuming you’ll be fine if you’re with more experienced skiers or snowboarders. It is significant that a large number of cases we have dealt with have involved off piste skiing.

Those lucky enough to survive an accident and end up in hospital can face months of recovery, so it is important to think carefully beforehand about the very real risks out there.’

The study has also reported that around 38% of winter sports holidaymakers admitted to not having taken travel insurance on all winter holidays; while 31% said that they don’t always check their travel policies to see if they are insured against winter sports activities or not.

UK Tourism Buoyant From Religious Tourism

VisitBritain, the official tourism website for Great Britain, is reporting that international visitors are flocking to the country’s religious buildings, with around 6.7 million international tourists visiting a religious building in 2011, and spending a total of around £5 billion during their stay.

The research conducted by the tourism agency shows that around 22% of the total visits to the UK in 2011 visited a religious building. Of the religious buildings, international visitors are most drawn towards the British churches and the cathedrals, such as the Glasgow Cathedral and St Paul’s Cathedral in London, St David’s Cathedral in Pembrokeshire, Westminster Abbey, and Mappa Mundi in Hereford.

Of the countries visiting the UK on holiday, around 55% of visitors from Brazil visit religious places; while 49% of visitors from Australia and USA visit a religious building during a holiday; followed by Russia (45%) and China (45%).

Sandie Dawe, the chief executive officer at VisitBritain said: ‘Whether it’s for the glorious architecture, stained glass windows, connections with famous people or just some peace and quiet – religious buildings have become a fundamental part of our tourism offering.

Overseas visitors rate Britain 4th out of 50 nations for built heritage – it is one of the major drivers for international visitors and an asset where Britain is truly world-class.’

Earlier, in November 2012, the association reported a 5% increase in tourism to the UK in last year, over the same period of 2011. Overseas visitors have contributed £503 million to the UK economy in 2011-12, with a 3% increase in overseas tourist volume, and 8% in value since May 2010.

New Novotel Opens in Blackfriars, London

The new Novotel London Blackfriars is opening in the capital as a trendy hotel property from France-based Accor group.

The hotel offers a stay in a contemporary setting for today’s travellers, and is located two minutes from Southwark tube station, and eight minutes from Blackfriars station. The 182-room hotel is offering free Wi-Fi, self check-in and check-out service, an interactive information system, smart boards in two meeting rooms, and an indoor swimming pool.

The restaurant dining area has a range of amenities including tables fitted with TVs for lone diners while waiting; and a multimedia table with iPads for guests searching for information on anything and everything.

The hotel will also have a Microsoft Surface Table in the lounge area, providing evening games and entertainment options.

For business travellers, the has offering seven meeting rooms, with Wi-Fi Internet access.

Thomas Dubaere, the managing director for Accor, UK and Ireland, said, ‘The quality, style and class of this hotel are noticeable at all levels. It’s our best Novotel to date and represents the new generation of Novotels that we want to offer in the United Kingdom. It’s an experience worth enjoying as quickly as possible.’

The company also plans to open another Novotel hotel in London’s Canary Wharf financial district, with 310 rooms. This is expected to open in 2015.

Accor is in an expansion period in the UK, and is also planning to open three more hotels in future. In Edinburgh, the company intends to open a 103-room Ibis Styles hotel on St Andrews Square in 2013. Two more hotels are expected at Edinburgh Park and SoCo Edinburgh, which will be branded as Ibis properties and will be opening in 2013 and 2014, respectively.

Thomas Dubaere said, ‘Our investment in these four new hotels, two of which we will own and manage, is another step in our strategy to build on our leadership position and further grow Accor’s presence in the UK. It is also part of our flexible active asset management plan.

While we are focused on reducing our portfolio’s capital intensity, we have the financial strength to invest in owned assets, for key locations and flagship hotels for our brands.’

Your Guide on how to have a Safe Road Trip

Whether we like it or not, traveling is always a part of life, and we can’t always afford cheap airfare. There are times when we need to travel short or long trips for some important reasons. Taking a trip can be more convenient if every detail is given extra attention. A hassle-free trip is about everything proper preparation because when a single detail is left behind, it could do more harm than good.

Before hitting the road, it is best to grab some tips that will make your trip worthwhile and comfortable.

1. Keep your vehicle in top shape

Facilitate a general car check before traveling. Ensure that fluids are on the right level and make sure that your tires have the right air pressure. Should your car need some repair or fixing, attend to this as soon as possible in order to avoid the hassles of experiencing a breakdown. It would be a more expensive situation if this happens during your trip. Always take with you a roadside safety kit and a spare tire in any case something happens on the road. Check on your petrol and be sure to have enough until you reach your destination.

2. Consider renting a mobile home

When traveling long distances, you might want to rent a mobile home as this could give a lot of conveniences. Take note that a larger vehicle can give more room for your luggage and people can have enough space to stretch their legs. Bathroom breaks can also be eliminated as you can take trips to the mobile rest room as needed. A huge room can give much especially when traveling as a family. You can also save money not having to pull over for an overnight stay at a hotel for those extra-long trips. Staying in your mobile home saves you a lot.

3. The need for hotel booking

For trips that would need staying in a hotel, it is best to book a room in advance. There are times when renting a hotel as a walk-in client can be such a hassle especially when the hotel is packed with visitors. Shopping for a hotel can be stressful. In order to eliminate this problem, do an advance booking. By doing so, all you need to do is get on the road and check-in to your hotel as soon as you have reached your destination. Planning ahead is always an excellent move.

4. Avoid trouble

Traveling with everything in your car can be an opportunity for thieves to steal your personal belongings. When you need to stop at a certain places, you still need to keep track of your car. When you need to park, make sure to choose a properly lighted spot. Keep windows and doors locked. Always bring with you your valuables and important stuff when you have to leave your car for a few minutes.

5. Eliminate distractions

One of the dangers of road trips is distraction. This is such a difficult situation for the driver. Hence, passengers must somehow be cooperative. Kids must be disciplined as they have to keep themselves behaved. Avoid loud and blaring music as these can affect every other person in the car especially the driver.