British Airways Announces New Seating

British Airways (BA), a premier airline from the UK, is offering new seating arrangements for its new Boeing 787 and Airbus A380 aircraft.

The new Boeing 787 Dreamliner can seat around 214 passengers, while the Airbus A380 aircraft, the biggest aircraft owned by the airline, can seat around 469 passengers.

The eight 787-8s will include a new Club World seating of 2:3:2 layout, as well as the newest World Traveller and World Traveller Plus seats, while the new A380 will have an improved edition of First Class.

The 24 Dreamliner aircraft and 12 A380s feature new cabin designs, similar to ones currently featured on Boeing 777-300ER aircraft.

Willie Walsh, chief executive of International Airlines Group (IAG) and parent company of Britsih Airways, said, ‘We are investing GBP5bn in British Airways’ new and upgraded aircraft, innovative technologies and customer services.

We now have six Boeing 777-300ERs, all fitted with our latest cabins. Our customer feedback and satisfaction scores show the seat and cabin designs have achieved the highest ratings we have ever seen.

By next spring we will have finished installing our new First cabins. The nine new aircraft we take delivery of in 2013 will feature our latest signature designs to ensure the customer experience maintains the highest standard across our fleet.’

Both new aircraft will also include Thales in-flight entertainment system, with a choice of 50% more movies, 200% more TV programmes, and more music; and new larger screens in all cabins with ports to connect personal devices.

The initial British Airways Dreamliner is expected to be delivered in May 2013, and three more by end of the year. The new A380 will be delivered also in 2013, along with two new 777-300ERs aircraft for the airline.

Thomas Cook Announces 2014 Cruises

Leading travel company, Thomas Cook, is urging travellers who are keen to go on cruises to book their 2014 cruises now to get maximum bargains.

The company is reporting that to get best value for money, travellers can either book cruises in a last minute deal, or book them well in advance. Booking the cruises in advance is often more reliable, and will be an easier option to visit a destination of choice on a favourite cruise ship.

Often advance bookings are affordable options on cruises, which also include a number of perks thrown in for travellers.

The company is offering a 14 night Norwegian cruise with P&O Cruises Adonia, which will be halting at a number of quaint towns in Norway, and finally at Geiranger. Adonia has a guest capacity of 710, and provides all the cruise facilities of a bigger ship.

A 14 night Mediterranean cruise in 2014 is now open for booking, and will be calling on the ports of Monte Carlo, Rome and Valencia. The Ventura is one of the largest ships in the P&O Cruises fleet.

The 17 night Mediterranean cruise in 2014 onboard P&O Cruises Azura will be commencing from Southampton, and call on Dubrovnik, Venice, Sicily and a number of other locations.

The company recently announced pre-tax losses of GBP485.3 million for the year ended September 30, 2012, from GBP398.2 million reported for the earlier year.

Company revenue has decreased to £9.5 billion for the 2012, from £9.8 billion in the same period last year. The increasing annual losses have been explained as partly due to lowered capacity and higher fuel costs.

Harriet Green, the new chief executive officer of Thomas Cook, said, ‘Transforming the performance of our UK & Ireland business will, in essence, transform the Thomas Cook Group’s performance overall.

Peter (Peter Fankhauser, the newly appointed company head for UK and Ireland business) has extensive experience and proven track record of successfully leading and transforming businesses and I am confident that by bringing our UK and Continental European operations together we will achieve far greater synergies for the group and significantly improve operational efficiency, the sharing of best practice and driving out siloed behavior.’

Monarch Airlines Announces Promotional Partnership with Leeds United FC

Monarch Airlines, a UK-based airline company, has announced a partnership programme with Leeds United Football Club, and has become the official sponsor for the North Stand at Elland Road.

The airline will be leveraging sponsorship of the football club to extend its marketing activities from its newly launched hub at the airport in Leeds, UK.

The airline, which is new in the area, has launched new routes to Grenoble and Munich, commencing soon from Leeds Bradford airport, along with a new summer schedule for 2013 from the airport.

Commenting on the new partnership, the managing director of Monarch Airlines, Kevin George said, ‘Leeds United enjoys a unique position within Yorkshire and remains one of the biggest football clubs within the UK. We have been impressed with the passion and commitment that the Club demonstrates. The scale and reach of the Clubs fan base speaks for itself and through this exciting new partnership we look forward to welcoming Leeds United fans on board our new routes from Leeds Bradford Airport.’

The chief executive officer of Leeds United, Shaun Harvey, said, ‘We are delighted that Monarch will be working with the Club to support its new routes flying from Leeds Bradford Airport.Their investment into the airport is extremely positive news for both the community and for the local economy with new jobs being created at the airport.

Through our new partnership we aim to make Monarch the first choice carrier for European flights for Leeds United fans all across the UK and will be working closely with Monarch to deliver some exciting promotional fares and competitions to our fan base over the coming months.’

The airline will be offering its services from Leeds airport with two A320 aircraft and flights commencing in March 2013. The new operations, from the North of England, will add around 200 jobs to the local economy.

Too much tourism affecting Venice

Reports indicate that too much tourism, especially high-impact, low revenue cruise tourism, is affecting the quality of Venice as a unique, must-see destination.

Recently, about two thirds of Venice was underwater with heavy rain and winds resulting in the sixth highest tide levels since 1872. Even though the city is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the status has not deterred cruise ship tourism from threatening to overwhelm the sinking city. Figures indicate that each day, more than 60,000 people visit Venice, which is more than the population of the city.

The biggest damage to the city comes from cruise tourists and their activities, with cruise tourism increasing by about 439 per cent in the past 15 years. Authorities are not able to do much about it because the city depends on tourism for its survival.

Peter Debrine, head of the World Heritage and Sustainable Tourism Programme at UNESCO, said, ‘Tourism is a double-edged sword. You can’t have those kind of numbers come into a site and not have a negative impact. There are obviously many benefits to tourism. Venice is a unique case and there needs to be a balance. We cannot demonize the cruise industry. Local people own the real estate. UNESCO’s concern is of course the protection of heritage but with have to do it in collaboration with the tourism industry.’

Observers have long been accusing cruise ships of eroding the fragile structure of the city through tides that are caused when the ships land. Further, they also contribute to pollution and dwarf the city’s monuments.

The demographic situation arising out of tourism is unique in Venice with locals leaving the city for mainland Italy as the count of tourists increased. Since the 1950s, Venice’s population has fallen by more than two-thirds and now stands at a new low of 58,483.

City Breaks: Brussels

Brussels is the political capital of Europe but behind the politics of the European Union’s centre is a vibrant city that welcomes millions of tourists every year. Holidays to Brussels are simple with the Euro Star. You can simply catch the train at St Pancras International in London and arrives into Brussels Midi less than 2 hours later.

Today Brussels is still a testament to its history, as many of the medieval streets, lively squares and beautiful buildings have remained intact. Brussels provides a fascinating meeting point between the last millennium and modern day Europe.

History and culture

There is plenty to see and experience when you arrive in Brussels. Why not visit the European Parliament building and the newly opened Parlamentarium visitors centre. It boasts the most comprehensive interactive view of Europe via a vast 3D lighting installation representing a shifting map of Europe and a 360° surround-screen digital projection of the hemicycle (parliamentary chamber). There is also an interactive virtual trip through Europe to discover each Member State and a video wall with messages from Members of the European Parliament.

If politics and the European Union are not for you, there is the Atomium architectural museum. This is Brussels’ most popular attraction due to its unique design based on the model of an elementary iron crystal enlarged 165 billion times. There is also the mini map of Europe nearby as well where you can see the great monuments of European cities recreated in spectacular detail.

Food and drink

Brussels is also famous for its food, with hundreds of restaurants and cafés. Belgium is famous for chocolate and there are many chocolate factories that you can take a tour of should you want to indulge your sweet tooth. There are even some that include a workshop where visitors can make their own chocolate.

Belgium is also known for brewing beer and there are many breweries that also offer tours and tastings. There are also complete beer tours around the city if you like spending the day drinking different beers in all quarters of the historic city.

City breaks in Brussels are proving popular with British tourists because they can be done inexpensively and without the need to fly to the destination. Many people do not like to fly, but still want to have the experience of going abroad and Belgium is located perfectly to do just that.

Nassau Valley Vineyards receives tourism award

eggy Raley-Ward, owner of Lewes-based Nassau Valley Vineyards, has received Southern Delaware Tourism’s 2012 Recognition Award.

After winning the award, Nassau Valley Vineyards has become one among the distinguished members of Southern Delaware Tourism’s elite honour roll. The winery became Delaware’s first commercial winery in 1993 and since then it has received a number of awards in global tourism competitions.

Raley-Ward said, ‘This is a great honour. I love Sussex County. My family has been here for almost 200 years. I left and was all over the world and I came back home to start a business because I believe in Sussex County. I guess there is a lot of truth to the adage that when you have sand in your shoes it doesn’t go away. I guess farming and manufacturing runs deep in my blood. And I’m very happy and proud to tell you we have just surpassed winning 100 medals in international competition. It was not an easy road to do what we are doing. Yes, I had to change Delaware laws to allow for wineries. It has been a long road to prove we can make world-class wine in Delaware.’

The winery is credited to be Delaware’s first and only farm winery, and is engaged in the production of wines ranging from sweet to dry and red to white. All the wines are sold from the same location. Nassau Valley Vineyards opened in 1993 for business, and since then has attracted visitors from all over the world. In recent years, it has become a tourism location for those aspiring to hold their weddings in a green environment.

New Zealand drug rules come into effect on Saturday

New Zealand’s new drug rules are to come into effect on Saturday.

Especially meant for the adventure-tourism sector, the new rules are expected to prevent accidents that in recent times have claimed the lives of tourists as well as tourist operators. The need for a new rule was envisaged after a number of tourism workers involved in recent accidents were later found to have had cannabis in their systems. Tourism agencies said that adventure tourism operators have to strengthen the way they manage drug and alcohol-related safety risks under the new rules.

The rules are strict in nature and contain harsh requirements that operators would have to comply with. They empower officials to periodically check adventure tours’ drug and alcohol management programmes. The new rules are expected to reduce risk and maintain the reputation of New Zealand as a safe tourism destination, said acting labour minister, Chris Finlayson.

Finlayson said, ‘This is a strong message to adventure tourism businesses that risks associated with drug or alcohol impairment must be taken seriously. The crucial thing is every operator will have to demonstrate why their procedures are appropriate.’

Many recent accidents in adventure tourism programmes in the nation were related to drugs and banned substances. In January the Transport Accident Investigation Commission (TAIC) found that the pilot of a balloon that crashed in Wairarapa killing 11 people had used cannabis. There are a number of similar cases where operator negligence is believed to have led to the loss of lives.