British women tourists claim ‘Me, Myself And I’ holidays boost self esteem

More than half (54%) of British female solo travel enthusiasts are now more likely to holiday alone than they were five years ago, according to a research from Booking.com – a company focussed on booking hotel and other accommodations online.

More than an escape from everyday life, women tourists reportedly chose solo travel as a means to explore and experience new cultures, with almost two thirds (64%) saying they actually feel more confident when taking a trip on their own.

Nearly two third (61%) of the respondents in the research, which queried more than 1,000 British women, said that they felt more energised and refreshed after taking a trip by themselves – over travelling with others. 64% said they have more freedom to be themselves when travelling alone, with 47% saying that it allows them to be a bit more selfish and do exactly what they want to do.

Social media also plays a key role in empowering women for solo tours and boosting their confidence to go on holiday by oneself. Nearly two-thirds (62%) keep in touch with friends and family back home while travelling, with three quarters opining that social media enables them to discover unusual places to go or find places to eat, enhancing their confidence to visit destinations on their own.

The ‘Me, Myself And I’ holiday trend is expected to continue, with over half (51%) of female solo travel fans saying they plan to do so again in the next 12 months.

Paul Hennessy, CMO at Booking.com, commented: ‘Our research suggests that the phenomenon of the female solo traveller is one that is here to stay. A third of British female travellers are looking for that freedom to set their own agenda, and to really find that boost in confidence that a solo break provides.’

Booking.com is celebrating the empowerment of the woman solo-traveller with its latest TVC ‘Brianless,’ which has gone on air across the UK and US as well as on Booking.com’s YouTube channel, from April 28. The film tells the story of Jen, who very much loves her partner Brian but doesn’t necessarily love the same type of holiday as he does. ‘Will she miss him or will the holiday turn out to be a vacation of a lifetime for her’ – that’s the campaign theme.

 

FCO warns Brits on overseas laws

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) has warned British holidaymakers to stay clear of certain seemingly harmless acts that are likely land them in trouble overseas.

The warning comes as British holidaymakers are being held for their involvement in acts that are considered harmless in the UK, but which have serious consequences in other parts of the world. Falling foul of these laws could be avoided by researching travel destinations in advance and taking note of updates and warnings issued by the FCO, the FCO said.

In addition to the odd laws and customs, alcohol, drug and cigarette laws also differ from country to country, increasing the importance of British citizens familiarising themselves with these before they travel, in order to ensure a safe and enjoyable holiday, the FCO added.

Charles Hay, director of consular services said: ‘Every year British nationals find themselves on the wrong side of the law unexpectedly, resulting in fines or in some cases arrests or even jail sentences. It is important to remember that laws and customs can vary greatly from country to country and what may be perfectly legal in the UK could be subject to a fine or even a jail sentence in another.’

Citing examples from around the world, the FCO said that it would do British travellers good to know that it is illegal to use some commonly available nasal sprays containing pseudoephedrine in Japan. It is also against the law to wear a bikini or to go bare-chested away from the beachfront area in Barcelona, and that chewing gum is strictly prohibited on the Mass Rapid Transit system in Singapore. Photographing government buildings, military installations and palaces is prohibited in Saudi Arabia, while it is an offence for anyone, including children, to dress in camouflage clothing in Barbados.

‘Consular staff often find that travellers are unaware that local laws apply to them and many British nationals think of their British passport as a ‘get out of jail free’ card,’ Hay said, adding: ‘While consular staff will always try to assist British nationals who find themselves in difficulty abroad, we can’t interfere in another country’s legal processes.’

 

British unable to locate their holiday destination on a map

Millions of British holidaymakers who book summer trips overseas have no idea where their holiday destination is located on the map, or where exactly they are going, according to new research by British Airways Holidays.

According to the research conducted on 2,000 people who travelled out of the country for their holiday last year, over a quarter of those who travelled to Spain do not know where it is on the map. Many survey respondents selected an assortment of other countries, but not Spain, with France being the most commonly chosen error.

Respondents also commonly chose France when asked to locate Germany and Greece, which 22 percent and 29 percent of them failed to place. The Netherlands was another destination that caused confusion, as 36 percent of people who holidayed there chose Denmark as its location.

Around 53 percent of the travellers who went to Cyprus chose mainland Greece when asked to pinpoint their destination. And, over 30 percent of adults who travelled to Portugal failed to place its location on the map, opting again for France. Brits are even perplexed with the position of Ireland; a disappointing 24 percent of those who visited the UK’s neighbouring country last year thought that they were in the UK or Spain instead.

‘This research shows people are going to all the effort of booking themselves a lovely holiday abroad, and yet so many have absolutely no idea of where they are actually going,’ said Claire Bentley, the spokeswoman for British Airways Holidays, which carried out the research by asking holidaymakers to pinpoint where they went on a map of Europe. ‘It is surprising to think that people are prepared to spend their hard earned wages on a holiday, without researching something as important as its location. We know that cost and temperature is often the most important factor for adults wanting to book a holiday, but 23 percent of our respondents admitted they would never think to look at where it is on the map before booking.’

 

Britain a must for international shoppers

Serious shoppers from all over the world see the UK as a purveying paradise according to the results of a recent survey.

The study carried out by VisitBritain, the UK’s tourism authority, has produced figures that prove just how important foreign shoppers are to the nation’s economy. The tourism agency reported that around 18 million foreign visitors spent GBP4.5 billion in the UK’s retail outlets last year. That equates to around a quarter of foreign tourists total spend in the UK finding its way into High Street tills.

The analysis of what the money was spent on was perhaps predictable; with more than half of the total spend, GBP2.3 billion, lavished on clothes. Gifts, souvenirs and household goods also featured heavily on buying lists, and accounted for GBP1.6 billion of the spend. However, shopping-oriented tourists only spend around GBP100 more per visit to the UK on average, than their ‘standard tourist’ counterpart, GBP680 compared to GBP580.

Although London benefits massively from tourist shopping, with 81 percent of visitors to the capital choosing to shop, nearly 75 percent of holiday visitors also shopped at other destinations across the UK.

The 18 million shopping tourists were comprised predominantly of 2 million from France, 1.63 million Germans, 1.63 million Americans, 1.3 million Irish and 1.1 million Spanish. However, the number of shoppers arriving from developing countries is also on the increase, especially from Brazil, Russia, and China.

The chief executive at VisitBritain, Sandie Dawe, commented, ‘Shopping in Britain is seen around the world as a positive and welcoming experience, and one of the things VisitBritain promotes to encourage visitors. Our shopping experience is world class, with high quality, desirable British brands enticing international visitors at all times of the year and providing real value for money against our competitors.’

 

Costa Concordia Wreck Becomes Tourist Attraction

The wreck of the Costa Concordia cruise liner, which lies off the Tuscan island of Giglio, has been attracting tourists eager to see the once-magnificent ocean liner lying on its side, more than half submerged beneath the sea.

The cruise ship attracted much attention from the media when it ran aground after hitting rocks. The ship carrying 4,000 people could not recover from the collision and capsized on January 13 this year. The catastrophe claimed 32 lives, and some bodies have not yet been recovered.

The ship is still lying on its side and has now become a favourite spot for tourists, who visit the wreck site from nearby Santo Stefano, which is about 15km east and a part of the Italian mainland. From there they can take a ferry to view the wreckage site.

Tourists are prepared to pay EUR10 per ticket for a ferry to take them close enough to photograph the stricken craft.

Giglio’s mayor, Sergio Ortelli, said, ‘There has been a rise in the number of tourists coming for the day, with curious people taking photos of the giant sprawled on the rocks.’ He added that the Giglio had become some sort of a museum. He quickly added, ‘We prefer tourism that’s based on the sea and the environment.’

Plans are being made to re-float the ship and move it from the site by next year. It will be towed to a port, dismantled and sold as scrap.

Giglio’s environment councillor, Alessandro Centurioni, said, ‘The Concordia has become part of our landscape, but it has also spoiled it. Every time I see it, I feel the pain and sadness once more.’

 

Swim ban lifted from world’s best beach

“A return to normality,” for many tourists who enjoy the world famous beach on the island of Praslin, after the swim ban was lifted last week.

Voted year after year as the World’s Best Beach, Praslin, the tourist Mecca of the Seychelles, has seen the introduction of lifeguards on its beach at Anse Lazio, following the freak shark attacks mid-last year.

Experts from South Africa have been assisting the Seychelles government with a long list of what to do, which the authorities have been following as they prepared to reopen the beach.

The popular Anse Lazio Beach is popular with tourists and locals, and it remains an idyllic setting for romantic swims or just admiring the beauty that still exists in this era when the world is being overtaken by development.

Alain St.Ange, the CEO of the Seychelles Tourism Board, was on the island of Praslin after the swim ban was lifted, and after enjoying a swim with hoteliers of the island, he met with the press for an interview right on the beach itself. “As a country, we worked hard to ensure that recommendations made by South African experts were looked at. We sought more help from Australia in the field of training for our life guards. Today, we feel satisfied that we are ready to reopen the beach, which is adequately manned by Seychellois life guards,” Alain St.Ange said.

Seychelles is known as a year-round tourist destination, as it does not have winter. The country has clean and clear white sandy beaches that are lapped by the clean and clear turquoise blue seas. This is why tourists continue to flock to this mid-ocean group of islands that offers both granitic and flat coral islands. Tourism remains the pillar of the Seychelles economy.

International tourism to reach 1 billion in 2012

International tourist arrivals grew by over 4 percent in 2011 to 980 million, according to the latest UNWTO World Tourism Barometer. With growth expected to continue in 2012, at a somewhat slower rate, international tourist arrivals are on track to reach the milestone 1 billion mark later this year.

International tourist arrivals grew by 4.4 percent in 2011 to a total 980 million, up from 939 million in 2010, in a year characterized by a stalled global economic recovery, major political changes in the Middle East and North Africa, and natural disasters in Japan. By region, Europe (+6 percent) was the best performer, while by sub-region, South-America (+10 percent) topped the ranking. Contrary to previous years, growth was higher in advanced economies (+5.0 percent) than in emerging ones (+3.8 percent), due largely to the strong results in Europe and the setbacks in the Middle East and North Africa.

“International tourism hit new records in 2011 despite the challenging conditions,” said UNWTO Secretary General, Taleb Rifai, “For a sector directly responsible for 5 percent of the world’s GDP, 6 percent of total exports, and employing 1 out of every 12 people in advanced and emerging economies alike, these results are encouraging, coming as they do at a time in which we urgently need levers to stimulate growth and job creation.”

EUROPE SURPASSES THE HALF BILLION MARK IN 2011

Despite persistent economic uncertainty, tourist arrivals to Europe reached 503 million in 2011, accounting for 28 million of the 41 million additional international arrivals recorded worldwide. Central and Eastern Europe and Southern Mediterranean destinations (+8 percent each) experienced the best results. Although part of the growth in Southern Mediterranean Europe resulted from a shift in traffic away from the Middle East and North Africa, destinations in the Mediterranean also profited from improved outbound flows from markets such as Scandinavia, Germany, and the Russian Federation.

Asia and the Pacific (+6 percent) was up 11 million arrivals in 2011, reaching a total 216 million international tourists. South Asia and Southeast Asia (both +9 percent) benefited from strong intraregional demand, while growth was comparatively weaker in Northeast Asia (+4 percent) and Oceania (+0.3 percent), partly due to the temporary decline in the Japanese outbound market.

The Americas (+4 percent) saw an increase of 6 million arrivals, reaching 156 million in total. South America, up by 10 percent for the second consecutive year, continued to lead growth. Central America and the Caribbean (both +4 percent) maintained the growth rates of 2010. North America, with a 3 percent increase, and hit the 100 million tourists mark in 2011.

Africa maintained international arrivals at 50 million, as the gain of 2 million by Sub-Saharan destinations (+7 percent) was offset by the losses in North Africa (-12 percent). The Middle East (-8 percent) lost an estimated 5 million international tourist arrivals, totaling 55 million. Nevertheless, some destinations such as Saudi Arabia, Oman, and the United Arab Emirates sustained steady growth.

Available data on international tourism receipts and expenditure for 2011 closely follows the positive trend in arrivals.

Among the top ten tourist destinations, receipts were up significantly in the USA (+12 percent); Spain (+9 percent); Hong Kong, China (+25 percent); and the UK (+7 percent). The top spenders were led by emerging source markets – China (+38 percent), Russia (+21 percent), Brazil (+32 percent), and India (+32 percent) – followed by traditional markets, with the growth in expenditure of travelers from Germany (+4 percent) and the USA (+5 percent) above the levels of previous years.

INTERNATIONAL TOURISM ON COURSE TO HIT 1 BILLION IN 2012

UNWTO forecasts international tourism to continue growing in 2012 although at a slower rate. Arrivals are expected to increase by 3 percent to 4 percent, reaching the historic 1 billion mark by the end of the year. Emerging economies will regain the lead with stronger growth in Asia and the Pacific and Africa (4 percent to 6 percent), followed by the Americas and Europe (2 percent to 4 percent). The Middle East (0 percent to +5 percent) is forecast to start to recover part of its losses from 2011.

These prospects are confirmed by the UNWTO Confidence Index. The 400 UNWTO Panel of Experts from around the globe, expects the tourism sector to perform positively in 2012, though somewhat weaker than last year.

GOVERNMENTS URGED TO FACILITATE TRAVEL

As destinations worldwide look to stimulate travel demand under pressing economic conditions, UNWTO is urging governments to consider advancing travel facilitation, an area in which, in spite of the great strides made so far, there is still much room for progress. UNWTO advises countries to make the most of information and communication technologies in improving visa application and processing formalities, as well as the timings of visa issuance, and to analyze the possible impact of travel facilitation in increasing their tourism economies.

“Travel facilitation is closely interlinked with tourism development and can be key in boosting demand. This area is of particular relevance in a moment in which governments are looking to stimulate economic growth but cannot make major use of fiscal incentives or public investment,” said Mr. Rifai.

Coastal businesses get a boost

The number of Brits taking ‘staycations’ is ever increasing, with tourists wanting to find interesting things to see and do in the UK.

 

Coast Radar, an online community that brings visitors together with all types of businesses in coastal regions, is on hand to help local businesses take full advantage of this renewed interest.

 

This is a guide for things to do and places to stay around the coast of Britain, with all the information you need in one place. From the top ten beaches, to things to do in your area – this guide can give you ideas on how to have a action packed, relaxing, or family friendly break.

 

Coast Radar is the brainchild of Ian Barnes, an experienced IT enterprise architect and internet marketing expert.

 

A lover of Britain’s beach resorts and a keen water sports enthusiast, Ian found that the number of websites he had to visit to get the range of information he needed was daunting and time consuming.

 

He recognised the clear need for a single platform to help tourists find what they needed quickly and easily, which in turn could help local coastal businesses reach potential customers.  And so, Coast Radar was born.

 

Covering the entire coast of the UK, initial listings are free, but businesses have the option to choose from three further levels of enhanced listings – Standard, Business and Business Plus.  Features include location markers, a clickable website address and SEO listings through to photo galleries, social media references and keyword review and selection.  In addition, Coast Radar offers a free consultation to optimise listings at Business Plus level. Businesses can not only benefit from quality traffic to their own sites, as a result of the online marketing expertise of Barnes and his technical team, but they can be sure they are being seen in the right spot that is associated with their region.

 

“We understand that small outlets or single owner tourism businesses such as a B&Bs may not have large budgets to promote themselves or the knowledge to increase the marketing performance of their website.  Yet it is crucial for these businesses to get visitors through the door all year round.  That is why we offer affordable packages that give businesses the benefits of advertising their service, while also drawing on our expertise to drive traffic to their websites,” comments Ian Barnes.

 

Independent of any other travel organisation, Coast Radar does not charge a commission and does not share data with any third party organisations.

 

For further information and to see the site in action, visit www.coastradar.com

 

Thailand continues to see floodwater rise

British tourists have been warned to take care if visiting Thailand in the near future due to continued flooding.

 

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) have advised tourists to ‘exercise caution due to widespread flooding’.

 

The far eastern country has been hit by monsoon rains, however the capital Bangkok has so far avoided the worst of the flooding. Some outer regions are still experiencing rising water, with parts of the country left under water.

 

The flooding has so far taken the lives of 297, with two people missing. Over 2.3 million people have been affected with worst flooding seen in the north and north-east of the country.

 

The Bangkok Metropolitan Administration’s (BMA) has today announced that the capital is still in danger of flooding, however the rainwater is being closely monitored and the situation is not critical at present.

 

Bangkok’s International Airport is still fully operational, however road and rail services have been affected, especially north of the capital. The areas most at risk of flooding are Sam Mai, Khlong and Khlong Sam Wa.

 

This is the most awful flooding seen in Thailand in decades.

John O’Groats to get revamp

One of Scotlands most famous but run down tourist attractions is getting a revamp, John O’Groats will see the 6 million redevelopment begin this month.

 

Hoping to improve the towns tourist appeal, the most north easterly point in main land Britian John O’Groats, offering some amazing views but has been criticised for being run down and under-developed.

 

Beginning phase one will be the revamp of The John O’Groats Hotel, currently a derelict eyesore.

 

The first phase of the project, which will cost £1.8million, also includes the building of 19 luxury apartments and 23 standalone holiday residences.

 

The Last House Museum and Journey’s End café will be given a face-lift, a new harbour square will be built and the coastal paths to Duncansby Head and the John O’Groats Mill will also be revamped.

 

The redevelopment is hoped to be completed in time for the Olympic torch to pass through next year and showcase the town’s appeal to the world.

 

Highlands and Islands Enterprises, Scotland’s economic and community development agency, is providing £1.8million of the funding.

 

The remainder is being provided by private sources, including luxury self-catering holiday company Natural Retreats.

 

Ewan Kearney, Natural Retreats director, said: ‘We are delighted with the progress to date of this ambitious project and are confident that together with our partners and the local community we will create an outstanding tourism experience in the North Highlands and help future generations enjoy this famous Scottish landmark.’

John O’Groats plans

 

Malcolm Roughead, chief executive of VisitScotland, said: ‘John O’Groats’ unique status as the most northerly point of the UK mainland has always seen it attract hundreds of thousands of visitors, explorers and, of course, fundraisers.

 

‘The planned investment represents a fantastic step forward for the town, making it an even more attractive destination for intrepid travellers from all over the world.’