Tunisair launches flights between Tunis and London Stansted

Tunisair, Tunisia’s flag carrier, has said that it has launched flights between Tunis and London Stansted.

Tunisia’s largest airline will operate twice a week on Mondays and Thursdays using an Airbus A319 aircraft. The route is Stansted’s first scheduled service to and from the capital.

Flights depart Stansted at 17.55 and arrive in Tunis at 20.55, while the return flight departs at 13.50 and arrives at Stansted at 16.15.

Situated between Algeria and Libya, bordering the Mediterranean Sea, Tunisia is famous for having been one of the sites of the ancient Phoenician civilization. The ancient city of Carthage in Tunis was the centre of a maritime trade empire and the largest metropolis in the world at that time, and famous for Hannibal and his campaigns against the Romans.

With its long Mediterranean coastline, Tunisia has become known as a popular, affordable beach destination. In addition to its many beaches, the country is known for a number of historical sites including the Amphitheatre of El Jem near Sousse, several Muslim Kasbahs and Ribats (fortifications), fortified Berber granaries and cave houses and the remains of Dougga, a Berber, Phoenician and Roman settlement considered one of the best-preserved small ancient towns in North Africa.

MAG’s Airline Development Director, Mats Sigurdson, said: ‘New routes are always exciting developments and Tunisair’s direct flight to Tunis offers even more choice to passengers. Tunisia offers something for everyone, whether it’s a city break in the capital with its fascinating Roman archaeological sites or an all-inclusive break along the country’s famous Mediterranean coastline. We wish them much success with this new route from London Stansted.

Tunisair Deputy Managing Director for the UK, Sofiene IBN ABIZID, said: ‘Tunisair is delighted to announce the launch of a new twice-weekly flight to Stansted, connecting Tunis with London, Cambridge, and the East of England. I’m sure our great value fares will prove popular with passengers, and we look forward to working with Stansted to make this new partnership a success.’

Norwegian launches new route to Greece from London Gatwick

Norwegian has announced plans to launch a new non-stop service from London Gatwick to Aktion Airport, which serves Preveza and Lefkada, Greece for summer.

The new service will be Norwegians’ first flight to mainland Greece from the UK and adds to the airlines’ existing Greek services to Rhodes, Kefalonia, Santorini and Crete. With the new service, travellers have direct access to more remote regions of Preveza and Lefkada. The traditional Greek towns boast a relaxing atmosphere and pristine beaches.

Norwegians’ first flight to Aktion Airport will depart on May 3, 2020 with a twice weekly service on a Thursday and Sunday for the summer season until October 1. Fares start from £60.50 per person, one-way available at www.norwegian.com/uk.

Magnus Maursund, SVP commercial Short Haul at Norwegian, said; ‘We are pleased to offer Brits more choice and flexibility when flying with Norwegian across Europe this summer by adding capacity to key services and a new route to Aktion Airport. Passengers travelling with us can enjoy our complimentary gate-to-gate Wi-Fi while flying in a high-quality and comfortable cabin onboard our modern, environmentally friendly aircraft.’

In addition to the new service, Norwegian is also expanding capacity on key European routes for this summer with extra weekly flights to Greece and Norway. The airline has added a second weekly flight to Crete, a new morning departure five days a week to Stavanger and extended the winter service to Tromso with two weekly flights in April, May, September and October.

Norwegian carries almost six million UK passengers each year from London Gatwick, Edinburgh and Manchester Airports to 30 destinations worldwide. The airline was ranked the most fuel-efficient airline on transatlantic routes by The International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT) for two consecutive years.

Scottish beaches recognised as seaside holidays increase

As Scotland’s often bracing beaches are becoming increasingly attractive for international tourists, independent environmental charity Keep Scotland Beautiful has recognised the country’s beaches for environmental quality and seaside experience, with its 2014 Scottish Seaside Awards.

The awards come as visitor figures show that in 2013, the Year of Natural Scotland, there was an increase in the share of seaside holidays to 17% (from 14%) of all holiday trips. With Scotland set to welcome the world in 2014, the recognition for quality and exceptional experience is expected to attract visitors to the country’s stunning coastlines more than ever.

A record-breaking 61 beaches have been recognised this year for their good water quality and excellent litter, safety, and environmental management procedures. Besides the regular winners like St Andrews West Sands in Fife and Gullane Bents in East Lothian, the awardees include Dornoch Beach in the north east to Maidens Beach in South Ayrshire, which has won the award for the first time.

Announcing the awards, Minister for Energy, Enterprise and Tourism, Fergus Ewing MSP, said: ‘Our natural environment is an important reason as to why people visit Scotland, which we celebrated last year during Year of Natural Scotland. Our beaches play a large part in this, and it is fantastic to see so many gain accolades through the Seaside Awards, and the work that beach managers and Keep Scotland Beautiful do in ensuring this.’

Mark Bevan, Head of Campaigns at Keep Scotland Beautiful, said, ‘Scotland’s beaches have something for everyone to enjoy – excellent environmental quality, bustling promenades, secluded bays and biodiversity rich shores, therefore, maintaining standards is vitally important.’

Mike Cantlay, Chairman of VisitScotland, said: ‘Recent figures suggested an increase in seaside holidays in Scotland in 2013, so it is clear that visitors really do love to beside the seaside. This is great news for Scottish tourism and coastal communities and comes on the back of a growing trend towards seaside and rural locations following the success of the Year of Natural Scotland. In this year, when Scotland welcomes the world, it is more important than ever to have our stunning coastlines in tip top condition if we want to continue attracting visitors. I applaud the award winners and Keep Scotland Beautiful for its hard work in ensuring that our beaches offer a great day out.’

A map showing all the award-winning beaches with descriptions, directions, facilities and pictures can be found at www.keepscotlandbeautiful.org/coastal. A new facility also allows people to choose the type of beach they wish to visit and an option for rating their favourite beaches, VisitScotland said in a release.


Hot weather brings jellyfish plague to UK beaches

The UK’s recent heat wave has resulted in the arrival of large numbers of jellyfish around some parts of the coast that are popular with holidaymakers.

Warm waters around parts of Devon, Cornwall and the northwest might look appealing to holidaymakers, but they risk a higher than normal possibility of being stung by the floating legions of Medusozoa that are currently besieging the shores.

The Lion’s Mane jellyfish packs the most potent sting of the common species that have been spotted in British waters, and they can grow to be several feet wide. Visitors to the coastal areas of north Wales and Lancashire are most likely to encounter the species; they have been advised not to touch any that they find washed up on to the beach and to avoid going in to the sea. The results of an encounter with the creature’s toxic tentacles are blisters, painful red welts and, in extreme cases, a heart attack.

The blue jellyfish is the species that is most prolific at the moment, and its armoury will produce a nettle-like sting that can induce anaphylactic shock in victims that are allergic. Fortunately, to date only one Portugese Man of War has been sighted in British waters, a notorious species with a sting that can be deadly.

Dr Peter Richardson, biodiversity programme manager for the Marine Conservation Society (MCS), was reported in the Daily Mail, saying: ‘The scarcity of jellyfish reports before June was unusual and could well be linked to the exceptionally cold spring.

‘However, as our waters warmed, sightings of jellyfish increased drastically. Certainly on the northwest coast – Liverpool bay up to Blackpool – and the north coast of Wales, there have a raft of sightings Lion’s Mane jellyfish. For visitors to the British seaside, apart from the Portuguese Man of War, it is the one that has the most powerful sting. ‘They can be quite nasty and are definitely ones to avoid, although we are not aware of any fatalities.But some people report it is like being struck by an electric shock, while others can go into anaphylactic shock.

‘There has also been plentiful reports of compass and blue jellyfish in the South West. Although their sting is mild, families should still be on the lookout.’

The MCS would like the public to report jellyfish sightings by using a form on its website.

Expedia sees significant increase in UK beach holiday bookings

Expedia.co.uk, an online travel agent, has said that it has witnessed a significant increase in bookings for some of the UK’s top beach destinations, as Britons headed to the coast to avoid the city heat generated by the recent heat wave.

Bournemouth tops the list of UK beach escapes, with a significant 119 percent increase in bookings for the last 28 days compared to the same period last year. Eastbourne is in second position with a 100 percent increase, and Devon seaside retreat, Torquay, is at number four, with an 81 percent increase in bookings.

Expedia has also recently released its Flip Flop Report, which examined beach habits across the globe. According to the report, the most important priority for British holidaymakers taking a beach holiday is food, from pre-holiday diets to exploring local cuisine. One in five Brits admitted to going on a diet before holidays, but 60 percent confessed to overeating when away. The report also found that by comparison to their European counterparts, Britons do overindulge, with only one-in-four French and only 39 percent of German holidaymakers admitting to overeating.

Andy Washington, managing director of Expedia.co.uk, commented: ‘With the recent heat wave, what better way to take advantage of the sunshine than to head to one of our great British beaches. It’s quicker and easier than ever to book a last-minute break and with the Expedia app now you can book on the way there. There’s no excuse not to take some time for a short break during this great British summer.’

The top 10 beach destinations booked by Brits in the last 28 days are:

1. Bournemouth

2. Cardiff

3. Brighton

4. Blackpool

5. Southampton and south coast region

6. Plymouth

7. St. Helier

8. Torquay

9. Eastbourne

10. Southport

Another survey by Holiday Extras, a UK-based on-line company that provides a pre-booking service for car hire, airport parking and UK airport hotels, said that many holidaymakers do not give themselves enough time to get excited about their holidays. Only 40 percent of Britons feel that they are getting into the holiday mood before heading off.

‘It’s important to start your holiday in the right frame of mind and planning for your holiday may give you a greater chance to experience the positive feelings associated with the lead up to a holiday,’ advises Honey Langcaster-James, psychologist and life coach. ‘The busy, high-pressure lives that people are leading today mean that taking a holiday for a proper break is even more important for your health and well-being.’

Damning report on water quality at European tourist destinations

The EU has released the details of a survey on water quality around Europe, revealing that the quality of water at some of the continent’s leading tourist destinations is falling short of the required standards.

The findings raise concerns over health issues for the millions of travellers that visit the worst affected destinations each year, with 6,311 European towns and cities being cited for providing water that does not meet the EU’s environmental standards. Among them are Pisa in Italy, Ayia Napa in Cyprus and Balaton in Hungary.

Even a number of Europe’s foremost capital cities and most popular destinations for weekend city-breaks have drawn criticism for their water quality, including Rome – Italy, Madrid – Spain, Budapest – Hungary, Sofia – Bulgaria, and the home of the EU headquarters, Brussels – Belgium. But while UK residents might be putting their health on the line when holidaying at resorts in Spain, Italy and Greece, they can be satisfied that they are at little risk on home soil, with Britain being one of the nations that complies fully with the Urban Waste Water Treatment Directive legislation, which has been a benchmark for European water treatment and handling since the 1990’s.

A number of MEPs are pressing for funding to improve Europe’s water, and a decision on possible expenditure from the EU Cohesion Fund is expected later this year.

The report’s findings were presented by Romanian MEP, Victor Bostinaru, who, said, ‘This report demonstrates the scale of the problem that exists across the 27 EU member states. The quality of water in many countries has to improve and the money needs to be found to make it happen – starting with the city of Brussels, in which the European Union’s institutions are based. As we prepare to commit billions of euros of investment to infrastructure projects, through the EU Cohesion Fund, we must demand improvements from these failing cities, regions and countries.’

British beach makes top ten best in world list

A British beach has narrowly been voted on to the list of the top ten beaches in the world, achieving 10th position.

Rhossili Bay, a three-mile long beach on the Gower Peninsular in Wales, UK, achieved tenth spot on the list, which was compiled from the reviews and ratings of international tourists on the website of on-line travel community, TripAdvisor. The Welsh beach is a panoramic expanse of sand and dunes that has long been popular with beach sport fans and sightseers.

In a statement, David Phillips, leader of the City and County of Swansea, said, ‘We are delighted, but not surprised, that Rhossili Bay has been acknowledged. We hope that many more visitors continue to enjoy its outstanding natural beauty.’

Topping the list was a beach on the island of Lampedusa, off the coast of Sicily, Italy. Known as Rabbit Beach, it is described as an unspoilt nature reserve that is not accessible by land, and is one of the few beached in the Mediterranean where loggerhead turtles lay their eggs.

Second on the list was Grace Bay, Providenciales, in the Turks and Caicos Islands, and third place was claimed by Whitehaven Beach in the Australian state of Queensland.

The full list of TripAdvisor’s Top 10 beaches in the world is as follows:

1. Rabbit Beach, Sicily – Italy

2. Grace Bay, Providenciales – Turks and Caicos

3. Whitehaven Beach, Queensland – Australia

4. Baia do Sancho, Fernando de Noronha – Brazil

5. Flamenco Beach (Playa Flamenco), Culebra – Puerto Rico

6. Playa de las Catedrales, Ribadeo – Spain

7. Lopes Mendes Beach, Ilha Grande – Brazil

8. Horseshoe Bay Beach, Southampton Parish – Bermuda

9. Eagle Beach – Aruba

10. Rhossili Bay, Rhossili, Swansea – Wales, UK

The best beach awards were based on the quality and quantity of traveller reviews and ratings for beaches on the company’s website, which were gathered over a 12-month period, according to a spokeswoman for TripAdvisor.

VisitEngland promotes nation’s beaches

The best of England’s beaches are the subject of the latest promotion by VisitEngland, the board responsible for boosting English tourism.

The opportunity for taking short breaks at some of England’s most scenic beach locations is the focus of the new, multi-channel marketing campaign, which is aimed primarily at domestic tourism. VisitEngland is currently in a run of six promotional campaigns to be launched by March, of which the current beach project is the third. Four themes will be promoted during the programme, which is funded in part by the government’s Regional Growth Fund, and they are countryside, coast, heritage and culture.

The varied attractions of the English coastline will be highlighted by the promotion, and a number of coastal regions have agreed to be partners to the project. These are, Cumbria on England’s northwest coast, Dorset on the south coast, Hull and East Yorkshire on the northeast coast, the Scilly Isles off the southwestern tip of the country, North Devon and Exmoor, with coastline on the Bristol Channel, and Suffolk in the east of the country.

Commenting on the promotion, VisitEngland’s chief executive, James Berresford, said, ‘This exciting campaign is one of several launching this year with the aim of growing tourism in England. The campaign aims to inspire UK residents to ‘escape’ the hustle and bustle of everyday life, to take a short break in one of England’s most beautiful coastal destinations. This is a great example of the industry working in partnership to stimulate tourism and grow jobs throughout the country.’

Radio stations Classic FM and Gold FM are involved in the campaign, along with The Guardian and Mail on Sunday newspapers.

Egypt beach resorts safeguarded

The government of Egypt, with its Islamist leanings, is not expected to remove beach resorts in the nation.

According to Reuters, Egypt would retain its beach tourism even though this might be against hardcore, conservative Islamic norms. In a message that was received with much relief by the tourism sector in the nation as well as outside Egypt, the tourism minister of Egypt said that any Islamic investment in the sector would complement and not replace beach resorts. The minister also acknowledged that the famed beach resorts in the nation were a vital source of revenue.

Egyptian tourism minister, Hisham Zaazou, is trying to revive the industry, which saw a very lean period recently when the civil war was raging in the nation. The industry had accounted for 10 per cent of the nation’s economic activity before the uprising in Egypt caused operators and tourists to desert the nation. The revival of the tourism sector was under doubt as Islamist groups outlawed under Hosni Mubarak moved into public view and tasted victory in the first Egyptian presidential election after the fall of the former president.

Even though Islamic Brotherhood officials have played it diplomatically when questions about the continuation of famous beach resorts have been raised, there were doubts that their existence was to be safeguarded. Now with the assurance from Zaazou, it is expected that tourism could flourish as before.

Zaazou said, ‘It will not be changed. Nothing will affect beach tourism. We are building on, increasing even, the capacities and the services rendered for our clients coming to our beaches. The current government, the current president is backing tourism at large. Everybody is aware that beach tourism constitutes 70 per cent of the traffic coming to Egypt. It will continue to do so. If there is investment in special kinds of beach tourism for, let’s say, Arab investors or Islamic investors as mentioned before, we are welcoming that on top, not in replacement of the current beach tourism.’

In Egypt, Red Sea beaches are as famous as the nation’s very popular historical relics.

App Allows Travellers to Search for Perfect Beach

Travellers on a beach holiday in the US can now download the US Beach Finder App on their smart phones to search for the perfect beach.

‘Visit South Walton’, an official tourism agency in South Walton, Florida, US, is offering the mobile app for travellers to search and find real-time information on weather forecasts, ocean conditions and other aspects for any beach in the US.

The new app is currently available on Android platform for smart phones, and for Apple iPhones. The users of other mobile devices may visit the mobile Web platform, beachfinder.visitsouthwalton.com, for the information.

Dawn Moliterno, the executive director of the South Walton Tourist Development Council, said, ‘We’re giving beachgoers the basic information they need to plan their day at any USbeach. While we like to think their perfect beach is waiting for them in South Walton, we know and appreciate travellers’ love of all coastal communities. Travellers can use the app to explore South Walton’s 15 beautiful beach neighbourhoods, through searchable activities, local dining and accommodations, across the 26 miles of coastal neighbourhoods.’

The US Beach Finder app also offers immediate updates to travellers to plan their trips to beaches of their choice. The app offers to locate the nearest beach for the users, with all of the related information, including real-time temperature, sunrise and sunset information, as well as tides and surf advisories for the beach concerned.