New York top US destination in holidaymaker survey

New York has been named the best holiday destination in the United States in a survey carried out by travel information and review website, Tripadvisor.

In a survey of millions of the websites’ users, New York topped the popularity poll for the second consecutive year, beating Chicago into second place, with San Francisco coming third. The top five US destinations list was completed with Las Vegas and New Orleans in fourth and fifth places respectively. Meanwhile, holiday hotspot Orlando in Florida could only scrape into the top ten in last position, despite its Disney connection and its plethora of popular family theme parks. The other destinations making up positions five to nine were Los Angeles, San Diego, Seattle and Washington DC.

With the survey being based on Tripadvisor’s quality and quantity of reviews for hotels, restaurants and attractions over a 12-month period, even New York did not fare well when compared with worldwide results, only managing twelfth place after being second overall in last year’s poll. Topping the international poll was Turkey’s capital, Istanbul, in its first appearance in the top ten. Rome was second, with last year’s number one, Paris, France, dropping to seventh this year. London retained the creditable third place that it achieved last year.

Barbara Messing, chief marketing officer for TripAdvisor, was reported in the Daily Mail, saying: ‘If you’re looking for trip inspiration, look no further than the Travellers’ Choice Destinations.

‘Our global travellers are the tastemakers for uncovering the best places to visit around the world.’

 

Slovenia receives EU boost

Last year alone, over half of all European holidaymakers planned to enjoy a vacation in their home country. With many predicting the trend to continue into 2012, the European Commission, through its initiative, “European Destinations of Excellence” (EDEN) is urging Europeans to discover the breadth of hidden treasures on their doorstep.

Destinations will compete to be awarded the destination of excellence, focusing on a different theme each year. Maša Puklavec, from the Slovenian Tourist Board said: “Slovenian EDEN destinations are shining examples of sustainable tourism and provide an unforgettable experience for visitors that seek inspiration and enjoyment in scenery landscapes.”

In 2011, winning destinations were singled out for playing a key role in reviving their region, bringing sustainable development and new life to run-down cultural, historical, and natural sites and acting as a catalyst for wider local regeneration. 

Famous for its mercury mine and lace making, Slovenia’s winner, Idrija, is a fascinating destination with spectacular scenery. Picturesque mountains, pristine forests, and Lake Wilde create a breathtaking landscape. Its rich cultural, natural, and industrial heritage is treasured by local people proud of their history.

The competition in 2010 celebrated destinations for innovative approaches towards aquatic tourism. The River Kolpa was selected as Slovenia’s winner. The river is considered the longest Slovenian “coastline” and one of the warmest rivers in Slovenia. The river is particularly popular in the summer months, as the water`s temperature rises up to 30°C. Visitors can choose between a wide range of sports and recreational activities, such as boating, canoeing, kayaking, or rafting.

In 2009, EDEN focused on tourism in protected areas. The Alpine scenery of Sol?avsko offers breathtaking natural sites. The three mighty glacial valleys are the main highlight of any stay. The most visited is the Logarska dolina nature park with picturesque views of the mountain chain of the Kamnik-Savinja Alps and the spectacular waterfalls. A lot of interesting hiking trails lead visitors into the lap of the Alps. A number of old stories reveal connections between people and nature and invite them for unforgettable experiences.

Find out more about EDEN’s destinations in Slovenia at http://ec.europa.eu/enterprise/sectors/tourism/eden/

Destination Verona

‘In fair Verona where we lay our scene, from ancient grudge break to new mutiny’…. The poetic Shakespearan lines that introduce one of the worlds most famous plays, Romeo and Juliet reference Verona, Italy, as the city where the star crossed couple fell in love.

And ‘fair’ it is indeed. Quaint cobbled streets, eye-catching terracotta buildings and impressive ancient market squares all contribute to Verona’s unique beauty and make it no surprise that the city has been awarded world heritage site status by UNESCO, because of its urban structure and architecture.

Often over shadowed by neighbouring Venice, Verona really is one of Italy’s hidden gems. The city boasts the perfect mix of modernism and culture with plenty of high end designer shops but also traditional restaurants and cafes.

For the culture vultures amongst you there is plenty to see. You can visit the the pink marble Roman Arena, which has has been in Verona since the 1st century AD and survived a 12th-century earthquake. It has stood the test of time and is used as Verona’s legendary open-air opera house, with seating for 30,000 people.

Verona is home to many other ancient Roman monuments and architecture including the Basilica of San Zeno Maggiore, which is considered one of the great achievements of the Roman era. Built during the 4th century as a shrine to Verona’s patron saint, St. Zeno, the exquisite  building dominates the large square, and is flanked with a beautiful 72 metres tall bell tower, which is mentioned by Dante in the Divine Comedy.

Verona’s rich history is endless but if you fancy something a little more light hearted, you can enjoy the scenery whilst wandering around designer stores such as Louis Vuitton and Gucci. If your wanting to get the most for you money, Verona is the perfect choice as it equals Venice in beauty but your money will go much further.

There are an abundance of quaint eateries and cafes to suit all tastes especially in the Piazza Bra, where you will be spoiled for choice and can sit back and enjoy the stunning scenery and atmosphere.

So, if you want to treat your loved one to a romantic break, or just want to experience some amazing Roman architecture and Italian charm, Verona could be the perfect choice for you!

Flights prices start from £37.99 one way flying with EasyJet.

Article by Lauren Probert

Welcome to Guatemala: heart of the Maya world and one of the nine hottest travel destinations for 2012

Kim´Arrin Travel, a Guatemalan “small tourism business” founded 40 years ago this coming June, invites you to visit their country and learn firsthand how their ancestors viewed the cosmos and why the year 2012 has become so important worldwide. Allow Guatemala to first share with you its vision, especially appropriate within the context of the year 2012.

This “vision” was never better expressed than when written by the late collaborator, “Rafa” Ralda. Today, as a tribute to his memory, it is transcribed as follows:

“Our vision is one of bringing together God´s greatest creation – mankind! Ours is a mission of building bridges, but unlike the magnificent structures linking land masses between great bodies of water or reaching across crevices in the Earth´s surface.

“We, at Kim´ Arrin, seek to cultivate interest and understanding among the world´s population, in each other, and specifically in the unique and mystical culture that has evolved over the centuries here, in our Guatemala, and the rest of the Maya world and Mesoamerican Corridor.

“In addition to the geophysical wonders this incredible corner of the world has to offer in the form of its wild life, enriched rainforest, spectacular volcanic sceneries, enchanting shorelines, and oceanic adventures along both the Western Caribbean and Pacific Coasts and much, much more, we propose to help let the world get to know our culture, one that has developed initially from the ancient Maya civilization and has been enhanced with the flavor of various immigrant influences.

“We believe that bringing together the world´s varied cultures and concentrating our focus on the positive sides we all have within us, we will all reach a place of better understanding, inter-cooperation, and an all-important peace among all our neighbors, as it has been accomplished in other arenas such as competitive international sports.

“It is our desire to overcome geographical or political borders, working in combined efforts and accomplishments in the areas of environmental conservation, educational needs, community projects, and many other endeavors of mutual interest for the enhancement of our human condition.”

As inbound operators, as of this year, Kim´Arrin Travel is adopting a new way of doing business with the sole intention of having our local communities receive the most benefit directly from you. Have a wonderful and peaceful Year 2012, and may you decide to join us in our efforts to bring mankind together in peace and harmony!

Holidays to Iraq – top destination of the future?

The tourism bureaucrats of Iraq are attempting to persuade Brits to holiday in Iraq, appealing for us to spend our British pounds in the heart of Western Asia.
The very idea most would dismiss as out of the question, due to the alarming quantity of textured headlines that scream out at us on a daily basis from our television sets and newspapers; underscoring the deep rooted dangers of the Muslim country.

However, Iraqi tourism officials are hopeful their travel industry has a booming future ahead, the majority of visitors anticipated to journey from the United Kingdom.
Fadhil Al-Saaegh, of Al-Rafidian Travel, says: “There have been few British tourists but I am always ambitious and I will keep trying to get them to come.”

Iraq plans to market a vacation in their country to ‘’adventurous British holiday-makers’’; potentially a delicate, albeit clever choice of wording or an accurate observation of who this type of holiday would essentially appeal to.
At London’s vastly popular annual ‘World Travel Market’, the promotion of Iraq was pitched to Brits in their masses by Fadhil Al-Saaegh, who was adamant Iraq had more than enough fascinating features to attract and persuade sceptical Brits. He was quoted: “They can visit Baghdad, plus we have mountains, waterfalls and great Islamic architecture. We have beautiful things to see everywhere.”
Despite the countries’ cavernous ugly connotations to war, violence and terrorism, it is actually a country which houses the standard elements one would expect a holiday to encompass. Cloudless sapphire skies hang over miles and miles of untouched beautiful golden dessert, riddled with architectural gems such as the National Museum of Iraq. The museum houses the world’s largest and finest collection of artifacts and relics of Ancient Iraqi civilizations.

In terms of scenery and culture, Iraq is actually a strong contender with its towering knots of mountains and frothy soaring waterfalls.

One of the most important factors when one goes on holiday, particularly for Brits, is what to eat? Tablets found in ancient ruins in Iraq show recipes prepared in the temples during religious festivals – the first cookbooks in the world. Today, the cuisine of Iraq reflects this rich inheritance as well as strong influences from the culinary traditions of neighboring Turkey, Iran and the Greater Syria area
Highlighting Iraq’s personalised holiday qualities, in an attempt to encourage Brits to realise they have more to offer as a nation, (other than material for journalists to write up), has proven to be slightly more problematic than originally thought.

It is not just the British public that needs persuading as the Foreign Office is currently completely against any holidays to Iraq unless absolutely necessary. A spokesperson for the Foreign Office currently warns against; “all but essential travel to the whole of Iraq, except to the Kurdistan Region”.
So, a holiday in Iraq perhaps isn’t the most tempting of propositions for most Brits at present. However, perhaps a few years down the line we may travel to this country, if only to admire the historic assets and natural backdrop whilst being baked in that diurnal glorious heat.

Article by Emma Boyle

Spain deemed ‘uncool’ by young travellers

 For the last 40 years Spain has been the holiday destination for us Brits, but now young British travellers see the country as ‘uncool’.

 

A new report has revealed that under-30s don’t want to spend their time abroad in the Spanish Costas, following in their parents’ footsteps.

 

Spain has been likened to iconic brand Microsoft, which is seeing competition from Apple. The Spanish Tourist Office believes that up and coming resorts in Europe are challenging the once-popular destination.

 

Enrique Ruiz de Lera the new director of the Spanish Tourist Office in the UK said: “The younger generation of travellers is just as likely to holiday in Turkey and Croatia as in Spain”.

 

He admitted that Spain faced significant challenges, and was seeking to learn solutions from major consumer brand experiences.

 

“These destinations are competing hard. They have excellent products and they have learnt from our mistakes. We need to refresh our brand”.

 

Mr Ruiz de Lera admitted to trade magazine Travel Weekly that young people see Spain as ‘uncool’, in the same way that under-30s don’t want to buy Levi jeans because their parents wear them.

 

Spain is planning to work with music channel MTV to supply branded content as part of a drive to encourage younger travellers to visit its shores.

 

The Tourist Office also want to encourage visitors to see different parts of Spain during their beach break.

 

Mr Ruiz de Lera added “A visitor to the Costa del Sol can add on a few days in Malaga, for example”.

 

Article by Charlotte Greenhalgh

Destination Ecuador

Ecuador is located on the equatorial line in northwestern South America, bordering the Pacific Ocean to the west, Colombia to the north, and Peru to the south and east. Ecuador is the eighth largest country in South America, at roughly the size of the US state of Nevada.

Ecuador is 283,561 square kilometers in size and has a very diverse geography. Ecuador has four geographical regions: The Andes (La Sierra), the Amazon Rainforest (El Oriente), La Costa (The Coast), and the Galapagos Islands.

The Galapagos Islands are located around 1,000 kilometers west of mainland Ecuador. The volcanic islands have a subtropical climate and are marked by beaches and forests. During the Galápagos Islands’ dry season, which runs from June to December, the weather is cooler and windier. From October to May, the weather is warmer and there is frequently light rain.

The coast runs along the west coast and features low mountains, valleys, plains, mangroves, rivers, and rainforests. The coast has a tropical climate, and is hot and humid. The coast is cloudy, cooler, and dry from May to December, and hotter and rainier from January to April.

The Andes region, or central highlands, lying between the western coastal lowlands and the eastern jungles, consists of mountain ranges, foothills, and valleys. The two sides of the Andes, the Western and Eastern Andes contain 60 volcanoes with an average altitude of 7,000 feet, covering a distance of 400 km from the northern to the southern Andes. This is called the “Avenue of the Volcanoes.” Due to the altitude, the Andes region has cool, spring-like weather, with a great deal of sunshine. Temperatures vary throughout the day. The highlands are overcast and wet during the rainy season (October-May), and drier, with mild showers, common in the afternoon, during the dry season (June-September).

The Amazon region is east of the Andes, and it borders Colombia and Peru, and contains part of the Amazon rainforest, as well as rivers and rolling jungles. Three active volcanoes are located in Ecuador’s Amazon rainforest: Sangay, Reventador and Sumaco. This is the only country where three active volcanoes are located inside the Amazon rainforest, The Amazon is hot and humid, and receives a significant amount of rainfall year-round. The Amazon is the wettest from June to August.

Ecuador uses the US dollar as its currency. Natural landscapes make up a good deal of the land mass—the Amazon alone takes up about 50% of the land area.

www.ecuador.travel

Quarter of self-employed consider moving abroad

The poll of 2,000 small and medium-sized firms cited the lure of a better work/life balance as the main reason.

Two out of five bosses say looming tax rises make them look overseas, while a third feel relocation offers a better chance of building a profitable empire.

The most popular destinations are New Zealand and Australia, the survey by broker Foreign Currency Direct reveals.

The firm’s director Stephen Hughes said: “Given the state of the UK economy it’s hardly surprising that so many self-employed people are considering moving their business interests abroad.

“We’ve seen a significant jump in self-employed people transferring money abroad to set up their businesses as well as paying for big ticket items such as rental deposits and cars.”

The most eager amongst smaller businesses to consider a move are those in the banking and finance, hospitality and leisure, and professional services sectors.

Swedish Lapland is an amazing destination for people who are considering a lifestyle change or emigration. For people considering a new start or the next chapter of their lives, Jokkmokk offers a wonderful opportunity to enjoy a new easier going lifestyle.