Sheffield is New UK Caravan Hotspot

Sheffield, a city and metropolitan borough in South Yorkshire, England, is the home of the largest percentage of caravan and motor home owners in the UK, according to a survey conducted by Safeguard UK, a company that provides insurance for caravan owners.

The company has reported that around 10 percent of its caravan insurance buyers are from South Yorkshire, more than from any other single area of the UK. Part of South Yorkshire is located within the Peak District National Park, and it is also relatively close to the Lake District, the North York Moors and the Yorkshire Dales, all of which are destinations known for their scenic landscapes.

For most caravan owners, ease of access to caravan parks is an important criterion when buying a caravan or a motor home. This could be why Sheffield is such a caravanning hotspot, as its location is within such easy reach of vast areas of northern England’s most picturesque destinations, and caravan sites abound. Sheffield is also within easy reach of several of the UK’s main motorways, including the M1 and M18, making it an ideal centre from which to explore the UK countryside.

The survey also highlighted that London residents are less likely to be attracted to the benefits of caravan ownership, due to a lack of proper parking facilities in the congested city limits.

Andy Leech, the head of Safeguard, said, ‘While the counties of Yorkshire have some of the nicest scenery in the UK, its residents are furthest from the coast so it’s likely that they use their caravan or motor home to travel to seaside resorts for breaks away from home. Residents in central London probably struggle to store a caravan or motor home as space is limited in the capital, so it’s no surprise that there is such little concentration of Safeguard customers in those areas.’


British Airways Introduces Flights from Gatwick to Las Vegas

British Airways, a UK-based airline company, has announced a new route from London Gatwick Airport, in the UK, to Las Vegas, USA.

The  new, three times weekly service commences from October 29, 2012, and will be operated by a three-class Boeing 777 aircraft, which will feature fully flat beds for Club World cabin passengers.

The new route will add more alternates for travelling between London and Las Vegas, by supplementing an already existing service of 10 weekly flights between Heathrow Airport and Las Vegas Airport.

Colm Lacy, the airline head of commercial at Gatwick Airport, said, ‘Las Vegas has proved to be an incredibly popular year-round destination from Heathrow so we are delighted to now be able to offer the route from Gatwick as well. This is the kind of destination our leisure customers at Gatwick are looking for and it will complement our existing USA and long haul leisure network.’

The new route is open for advance bookings at the company website, The airline is also offering exclusive holiday packages to its passengers flying on the new route, which also may be booked via the airline’s website.

The company is offering a three-night stay at a hotel in Las Vegas, commencing from GBP826 per person, inclusive of airfare. The holiday offers are currently available at the company website. Amongst the Las Vegas hotels included in the vacation offer are the three-star Riviera Hotel and Casino, and five-star hotels including The Venetian Resort Hotel, the Aria Resort and Casino, and The Wynn Resort Las Vegas.


London Heathrow Airport Announces Second Phase of Efficiency Trial

London Heathrow Airport has announced the commencement of the second phase of a trial to improve and control punctuality and flight delays at the airport from July 1, 2012. The trial will be running until the end of March 2013.

BAA LTD, owner and operator of six British airports, including Heathrow Airport, in collaboration with the UK Department of Transport, a UK government department, will conduct the second phase of the Operational Freedoms trial.

The first phase of the Operational Freedoms trial ran from November 1, 2011 to February 29, 2012. In this phase, the airport experimented with ways of using runways and airspace to work through disruptions affecting the airport operations. New measures implemented during this phase involved the use of both runways for arrivals or departures, instead of only one.

The Civil Aviation Authority has recently published results from the first phase of the trial, which includes improvements in punctuality, the lowering of emissions, and a reduction in the number of planes taxiing across runways. However, people living near to the airport have complained about an increase in sound pollution, and the authority has reported that detailed analysis is required to link the first phase of the trials to the increased sound levels.

Tim Hardy, the airside director for BAA, said, ‘This trial does not mean an increase in the number of flights operating in and out of Heathrow. However, with Heathrow operating at full capacity, we need to look at ways to strengthen resilience, which will bring benefits to the local community through fewer late-running flights, to passengers by providing a more punctual service, and to the environment by reducing aircraft stacking and emissions.’


Air Nigeria Commences Flights from Gatwick Airport

London Gatwick Airport has announced a new service to Lagos, in Nigeria, with flights offered by Nigeria’s national carrier, Air Nigeria.

Air Nigeria is offering passengers a daily flight to Murtala Mohammed International Airport, Lagos, from London Gatwick Airport, using an A330-200 aircraft. The service became operational as of May 17, 2012, and the airline has stated that its intention is to offer a unique onboard experience on its flights at affordable fares.

David Amurun, the country manager for Air Nigeria in UK, said, ‘Air Nigeria’s return to its long hub operations with a London-Lagos route is exciting news for passengers. After a successful turn-around of the airline over the last two years, the airline is now well positioned to compete favourably on the international market. Gatwick Airport has excellent links into London and the South East making it easily accessible for business and leisure travellers.’

The new route is expected to strengthen business and tourism relations between UK and Nigeria.

Guy Stephenson, the chief commercial officer of Gatwick Airport, said, ‘We are delighted to welcome Air Nigeria and its passengers to the airport today. We expect this route to be very popular, not only for people wishing to meet up with friends and family, but also with businesses in London and the South East wanting to help strengthen trade and investment links between the two countries. Nigeria is the third fastest growing economy in the world and is important therefore that we continue to help broaden trade links with these growing markets.’

British Fliers Vote for Low Cost Flights for International Travel

Around 74 percent of travellers surveyed by Skyscanner, a UK-based flight search engine, have said that they would welcome low-cost no-frills airlines for travelling on long-haul routes.

British travellers are ready to give up on the amenities offered by regular airlines on long distance routes, in order to save on costs.

The survey has indicated that 48 percent of around 1,800 travellers polled are willing to give up on more personal space and legroom to travel on low-cost airlines for four hours or more. Around 30 percent of those polled are willing to fly low-cost for more than ten hours on a flight, the equivalent of a flight from Singapore to London.

The results also suggested that some travellers, around 22 percent, may opt to fly low-cost for more modest flying times of four to six hours, and go for traditional airlines with improved amenities when flying longer distances.

Travellers have also rated their indispensable long haul amenities, with 35 percent of them voting for an extra two inches of legroom when travelling on long haul flights, in addition to the legroom that is currently offered by low-cost airlines on their traditional routes, while 14 percent favoured in-flight entertainment, and 9 percent voted for the provision of food and refreshments. Around 18 percent of travellers surveyed stated that complimentary hold baggage on a long haul flight with a low-cost airline would be their preferred amenity.

The company travel editor, Sam Baldwin, said, ‘The results of this survey show there is a definite demand for low cost airlines to operate long haul routes – it appears people are more than happy to surrender some level of comfort in order to satisfy their taste for travel, as long as the price is right. In recent years, low cost airlines have started to introduce more mid haul routes, so it is not unfeasible that long haul routes could be next to be added.’

Park Inn by Radisson Announces New Summer Offer for Guests

Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group, a hotel group formed by the US-based Carlson and Belgium-based Rezidor Hotel Group (STO: REZT) companies, has announced a new summer offer for its guests.

The company is offering a ‘Park Inn by Radisson 1+1 Stay One, Get One’ offer, where new members of its Club Carlson loyalty programme will be eligible to receive around 44,000 bonus Gold Points on registration. The points may be redeemed against a complimentary night at any Park Inn by Radisson hotel located anywhere in the world.

Heather Passe, the company vice president for marketing, loyalty and E-commerce, said, ‘This year marks the one-year anniversary of Club Carlson, our global hotel rewards programme, and in celebration, we’d like to encourage new customers around the world to experience the bright, bold and fresh offerings that Park Inn by Radisson has to offer.’

The company is encouraging travellers to register for the 1+1 Stay One, Get One event at until July 22, 2012, in order to benefit from the offer.

Eric De Neef, the senior vice president for Park Inn at Rezidor, the strategic partner of Carlson in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, said, ‘1+1 Stay One, Get One allows our customers to earn a free night at any Park Inn around the world and experience how our hotels add colour to life.’

The complimentary one night’s stay is available at around 1,000 participating hotels belonging to Radisson Blu, Radisson, Park Plaza, Park Inn by Radisson, and Country Inns & Suites By Carlson brands, worldwide.

Welsh Tourism First as Monmouth Becomes ‘Wiki-Town’

The small town of Monmouth in southeast Wales has embraced modern technology to claim an¬†audacious first in world tourism, by becoming a ‘Wiki-Town.’

The Daily Mail has reported that from tomorrow, visitors to the historic birthplace of King Henry V will be able to use their mobile phones to scan barcodes at points of interest and instantly access Wikipedia pages that give full details of the landmark that they are looking at. The information will be selected from hundreds of available pages on Wikipedia that detail Monmouth’s culture and history, and foreign visitors will be able to access the information in more than 26 languages.

Monmouth has worked hard to make the project a success by installing in the region of 1,000 barcode plaques and stickers on the town’s schools museums, historical sites and pubs, while local businesses have displayed barcodes that give access to information on their own history.

It has taken Wikimedia UK six months to develop the project, which was only made possible by the local council installing free wi-fi across the town. To make the available information as complete and accurate as possible, 450 new Monmouth based articles have been added to Wikipedia, and 150 existing articles checked and improved.

Roger Bamkin, a director of Wikimedia UK, told the Daily Mail, ‘We’re delighted that Monmouth is becoming the world’s first Wikipedia town. Both the quality and quantity of the new Monmouth Wikipedia content is outstanding, reflecting the rich cultural, historical and natural heritage of the town.’

Jimmy Wales, the founder of Wikepedia, said that he was looking forward to other towns following suit.

Ryanair Scraps Flights to Greek Islands

Ireland-based low-cost airline, Ryanair, has announced that it is scrapping its scheduled summer flights to the Greek Islands of Rhodes and Kos a month before the season ends.

The airline claims that its decision to cancel the routes is due to the authorities on the two islands ‘reneging’ on a promotion agreement, and it announced the cancellation of 82 flights a week from October 2, 2012, on 11 routes to Kos and 13 to Rhodes.

The services affected will be those to Rhodes from Stansted, East Midlands, Liverpool and Bournemouth in the UK, and to Kos from Stansted, Leeds Bradford and Liverpool, all of which would ordinarily have been operated until late November.

The promotion agreement that has caused the adverse reaction is claimed to be between Ryanair, the Dodecanese Development Association and the mayor of Kos. In a statement the airline said that the two other parties had, ‘failed to honour an agreed joint marketing campaign with Ryanair to promote Ryanair’s Rhodes and Kos routes this summer.’

The situation is likely to have developed because the budget crisis in Greece has lead to a reduction in funds for tourism authorities and other bodies involved with the tourism industry. The action by Ryanair will do little to improve that situation, with the airline claiming that the cost to the two islands of it shortening its service would be in excess of EUR18m in lost tourism revenue.

Meanwhile, the Greek tourist minister is reported to have said that, ‘the Greek government has not signed any contract with any low-budget airline.’


John Lewis to Host Kuoni Travel Stores

John Lewis, a UK-based chain of high street retail stores, has signed an agreement with Swiss-based tour operator, Kuoni, to locate travel stores in four John Lewis department stores around the country.

The first four travel stores are earmarked to open by the coming autumn in the John Lewis stores located in London Oxford Street, Reading, Southampton and Cardiff.

Kuoni is in the process of looking for new staff for the stores and expects to create nineteen full time jobs. The stores are likely to be fitted with similar hi-tech equipment to some of Kuoni’s existing stores, and include the use of plasma televisions and I-pads.

As part of the new relationship between the two companies, Kuoni will promote John Lewis travel insurance to all of its customers, whether calling at a store, contacting a call centre or on-line.

Kuoni managing director, Derek Jones, said, ‘For us the key advantage of this deal is the brand awareness; much of our high-street presence has been about raising awareness. The John Lewis customer base is very similar to the Kuoni customer base so having our brand associated with John Lewis gives us additional, significant visibility.’

Commenting on the long-term future of the John Lewis-based Kuoni stores, Jones said, ‘The plan is to create a long-term partnership. After 12 months we will take a decision on the future expansion of the stores. There are still some gaps in our own shop portfolio and we may plug those gaps with John Lewis concession stores. There is a commitment for more than one year.’


Virgin Atlantic to End Kenya Flights

Virgin Atlantic, a UK-based airline company, is to end all of its services between London and Kenya from September this year.

The London to Kenya service, which has been in operation for the last five years, is being axed due to rising fuel costs and falling passenger numbers, according to Virgin Atlantic’s president, Sir Richard Branson. However, it has been confirmed that customers who have already booked flights with the airline after the September 23 deadline outbound, and the final return from Nairobi the following day, will be given a full refund or moved to an alternative carrier.

Alternative airline options for passengers to Nairobi include British Airways, KLM, Emirates and Air France.

Commenting on his company’s decision to axe the Kenya flights, Sir Richard Branson said that he was saddened by the decision and added, ‘A combination of record fuel prices, higher and higher taxes imposed by the Government and a poorly timed slot not providing connections from London, have made it uneconomical to fly from Nairobi. Governments must be more realistic about the aviation taxes they impose and we urgently need to increase capacity at Heathrow.’

In addition to fuel costs, which have increased by 50 percent in the last five years, and an increase in Air Passenger Duty of 100 percent, civil unrest in the country and high-profile kidnapping cases have further hit Kenya’s tourism, with a subsequent reduction in air traffic.

Virgin Atlantic will be replacing the axed flights with new flights to Mumbai in India and an additional flight to New York from the autumn.