Ireland bans flights from Britain amid new COVID strain

Following the identification of a new strain of COVID-19 in England, the Irish Government has banned all arriving passenger flights from Britain, Dublin Airport said in a release.

The ban is in place until 23.59 on Thursday, December 31, 2020. The ban applies to all passenger flights with the exception of repatriation flights. The ban does not apply to cargo flights.

Passengers affected by this ban should contact their airline in relation to their specific flight. The ban will be reviewed by the Irish Government before Friday, January 1, 2021, the Airport said.

Separately, Dublin Airport has said that it has launched a handy new feature that enables customers to receive flight updates direct on their mobile device via Twitter, Facebook Messenger or WhatsApp.

The new feature will keep customers updated on the status of either a departing or an arriving flight. Customers will receive status updates directly on the phone, with information such as gate number, boarding times, and delays for departing flights. For arriving flights, customers will get information such as when the flight is on approach, and which baggage belt luggage will be delivered on.

The website also now has a chatbot feature, which will answer many of the frequently asked questions (FAQ) that customers might have. The chatbot window pops up automatically when the Dublin Airport website is accessed. Customers may simply type in the question, or browse the different categories to find an answer to the query. Customers can also subscribe to flight alerts through the chatbot feature, the Airport said.

VisitEngland’s ‘Blue Monday’ campaign promotes 24-hour travel experiences in UK

VisitEngland, the official tourist board for England, has launched a digital campaign – Blue Monday – to promote round-the-clock activities and experiences across the UK, encouraging Brits to take a holiday at home.

Presenting activities across the UK throughout a 24-hour period, the ’24 Hours in the UK’ series of films is launched by VisitEngland and the tourism organisations of London, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales. The campaign comes as statistics show that more people are preferring, and also spending, more on staycations. From January to September 2017, Brits took 47 million domestic holidays in Great Britain, spending £11 billion, an increase of five percent and six percent respectively on the first nine months of the previous year, VisitEngland said.

VisitEngland Director Andrew Stokes said: ‘From a street art tour in Bristol to early morning surfing at Scarborough in Yorkshire, from a torch-lit tour of the Roman Baths to exploring the wilds of Hampstead Heath in London, this campaign shows that England is bursting with activity not only round-the-clock but year-round, with experiences to suit all interests and ages.

‘With many of us looking for travel inspiration to beat the winter blues, these snapshots of destinations across the country will get Brits booking mood-boosting experiences, and exploring more of the country, boosting growth from tourism.’

A selection of the experiences featured in the films include cocktails at Cahoots in London, with 1940s inspired music, featured in the 01.00am film; an early morning surf in Scarborough, featured in the 07.00am film; sea kayaking in Dartmouth in Devon, featured in the 11.00am film; Changing of the Guard at Horse Guards Parade in London, featured in the 11.00am film; lunch and cocktails at the Rooftop Restaurant at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon, featured in the 12.00pm film; the Via Ferrata Extreme Experience in the Lake District, Cumbria, featured in the 13.00pm film; a Mad Hatter inspired afternoon tea at Sanderson in London, featured in the 15.00pm film; shopping at Seven Dials near London’s Covent Garden, featured in the 17.00pm film; dinner at Pop Brixton in London, featured in the 21.00pm film; and watching a play in the outdoor Minack Theatre in Cornwall, featured in the 22.00pm film.

Part of VisitEngland’s 2018 campaign ‘Join the World – Discover the UK’, the 24 short films by UK and international Instagrammers and bloggers are released hourly throughout the day. Besides inspiring Brits to take a holiday at home, the campaign also asks holidaymakers to vote for their favourite moment from the trips, with the top five to be announced in the next few weeks.

More than half of Britons choose staycationing this summer

More than 55 per cent of British adults will be holidaying in Great Britain in summer this year, according to Travelodge’s annual holiday index.

The Travelodge research, which surveyed 3,000 British adults, reveals that 2017 will be another strong year for staycations. However, the figures reflected a drop of three percentage points in the number of Britons holidaying at home this year (55 per cent), compared to 58 per cent last year.

Over half (55 per cent) of Britons surveyed reported that they choose to holiday at home this year as it is too expensive to go abroad and a staycation offers better value for money. The most sought after staycation destinations are Cornwall, Devon, North Wales, Blackpool and the Isle of Wight.

Over a third (36 per cent) of adults said that they were looking to holiday at home this year as part of supporting the British economy following Brexit.

According to the research, British holidaymakers will be spending an average of £599.80 on their annual break this year – contributing nearly £17bn to the UK economy. The average spend of £599.80 is £130 less when compared to the £729.80 in 2016, though it equates to a collective spend of £17bn, Travelodge said.

The study also revealed that nearly half of Britons are taking a one-week holiday supported by three short breaks throughout the 2017. Only 17 per cent of adults are taking a ‘traditional’ two-week holiday.

The seaside remains the favourite destination for Britons, with 53 per cent of adults choosing the British seaside for their annual break. A relaxing rural break is what a third of Britons surveyed opt for and the top destinations for this year include the Lake District, Scottish Highlands, Norfolk Broads, Yorkshire Dales and Peak District. Meanwhile 27 per cent of adults are looking at a city break this summer with London, Edinburgh, Bath, York and Oxford being their top destinations.

The research revealed that the UK’s top staycationers are from the Welsh town of Aberystwyth with 85 per cent of its people choosing a staycation break this year, and the average household spending £456.75. Gloucester, Sheffield, Plymouth and Worcester are other location where the most number of people choose a staycation.

London named most desirable city for holidaying in UK

UK holidaymakers are increasingly discovering the pleasures of staycationing as Brits have named London as the most desirable city to visit within the UK, according to research by international hotel group Jurys Inn.

As per research conducted on 2,500 people, Brits are increasingly opting to holiday in their homeland instead of overseas, with over one in 10 (12 percent) taking up to four staycations a year.

The Jurys Inn study revealed the top 10 most desirable UK cities. While cosmopolitan city London topped the list at 35 percent, the Scottish capital of Edinburgh and popular seaside destination Brighton came second and third at 28 percent and 16 per cent respectively:

The other cities to feature in the list, in order, are Liverpool (13 %), Manchester (12 %), Cardiff (11 %), Glasgow (11%), Plymouth (10%), Bristol (8%) and Newcastle (8%).

The research also revealed the cities where people are most likely to stay in the country. Middlesbrough topped the poll with 54% opting for a staycation, closely followed by those in Birmingham (51%) and Milton Keynes (45%).

Suzanne Cannon, head of Marketing at Jurys Inn, said: ‘Our research has revealed some really encouraging stats. It’s great to see the optimism in Brits choosing to spend more holidays at home.

However, some people are clearly still feeling the post-recession pinch and are choosing not to holiday at all. That’s why our affordable packages are the perfect break away. From a two night city break in Edinburgh to dinner and a show in Brighton, there’s something for everyone with Jurys Inn and our staff are always on hand to help out with what to do and see.’


While Brits are more valuing the beauty of the country, they still average one holiday abroad a year with two in five (40%) choosing Europe as their top holiday destination. This was followed by North America (4%), Asia (4%), Africa (1%) and Australia (1%).

Also, even as a majority of Brits love to get away, the report revealed that one in 10 Brits do not go on any kind of holiday. The reasons cited for giving up holiday travel include saving for fear of their job security (30%), money for their family (22%) or a house (21%).

When it comes spending their hard earned cash on eating out, 24-34 year olds that eat out more than any other age group, averaging four times a month compared to just twice for the over 55 year olds, who supposedly have more disposable cash.

VisitBritain and Turkish Airlines partner to attract visitors to Britain

UK tourism board VisitBritain and Turkish Airlines have announced a new global partnership to attract more international visitors to Britain, with a focus across the airline’s five regional airports in the UK including Birmingham.

As part of the partnership, VisitBritain and Turkish Airlines will launch an international marketing campaign over the next 12 months, which will initially focus on Indian, Saudi Arabian and other Gulf markets. Showing aspects that make Britain a much sought-for destination, the campaign is aimed at inspiring global tourists ad travellers to explore all the nations and regions of Britain through the airline’s current gateways.

VisitBritain Chief Executive Sally Balcombe said: ‘We are very pleased to be the first national tourist body to develop a global partnership marketing campaign with Turkish Airlines. There are significant growth opportunities in the markets served by Turkish Airlines, including the emerging market of Saudi Arabia, using the airline’s global connectivity and rapidly expanding network. This partnership will also allow us to target our marketing to inspire more international visitors to come and explore all the nations and regions of Britain, so we can continue to create jobs and deliver our ambitious plans for growth.’

Turkish Airlines Chief Marketing Officer Mr Ahmet Olmustur said: ‘This is an incredibly exciting opportunity for Turkish Airlines and we are delighted to be teaming up with such an acknowledged and reputable brand as VisitBritain. The travel market in the UK continues to go from strength-to-strength and therefore we strongly believe this partnership will further enhance visitor numbers in the UK in the coming year. Turkish Airlines is always investing in the UK and, along with partnerships such as this, we hope to see big inroads being made in terms of visitor numbers.’

It is the first time that Turkish Airlines is partnering with a national tourist board for a tourism promotion campaign. Turkish Airlines is set to move to its new hub at Istanbul New Airport in 2018 with nearly 20 million passengers a year expected to be flying through the new airport by 2020. Turkish Airlines was recently chosen as the Best Airline in Europe for the fifth year running by the Skytrax Passenger survey.


Jurys Inn to promote Britain’s tourist and city attractions

UK hotel group Jurys Inn Hotels is set to promote Great Britain’s tourist and city attractions to British tourists and travellers, in a bid to further inspire them to explore landmarks in their home country.

The hotel group, which runs 22 hotels located in the heart of UK city centres, is set to launch ‘Jurys Inn -The Verdict,’ a campaign that will celebrate everything ‘Great’ about Great Britain. The campaign plan was announced after a study by Jurys Inn Hotels found that Brits were increasingly overlooking sights and landmarks near them. Nearly one fifth (22 per cent) of those surveyed claimed to have visited more landmarks abroad than in their home country.

Commenting on the survey findings, Suzanne Cannon, Group Marketing Manager at Jurys Inn, said: ‘Our study has unveiled that Brits seem to be falling out of love with Blighty. Instead of wanting to explore more of their local cities and home country, they are being influenced by what they see on TV and in films, to escape abroad.

‘The ‘staycation’ may not appeal to everyone, but with a lack of UK knowledge in the first instance, Brits are not necessarily aware of the amazing attractions they could be exploring. We were surprised at stats such as almost a quarter (23 per cent) of those polled being unable to name iconic locations including Angel of the North, so we’re making it our mission to help the nation fall back in love with Britain with ‘Jurys Inn – The Verdict’- a campaign that puts the nation to the test and celebrates everything ‘Great’ about Great Britain.

‘Launching in April, ‘The Verdict’ will include a series of pub quiz challenges to find and celebrate the most knowledgeable Brit, who knows Britain inside out.’

According to the study, over three quarter of Britons failed to locate well-known cities such as Sheffield (85 per cent), Birmingham (83 per cent) and Liverpool (76 per cent) on a map. The study also revealed over a third (36 per cent) of Brits did not know where Stonehenge was. When shown pictures of iconic landmarks, over a third (39 per cent) of Scots didn’t recognise the iconic St Andrews Golf Course, and a quarter (25 per cent) of Londoners were unable to name the Gherkin.

The hotel staff know the cities well and will be able to advise on the best spots enabling Brits to explore sites, landmarks and attractions in their home country and fall in love with Blighty again, Jurys Inn said.


VisitBritain announces three-year ‘Countryside is GREAT’ campaign

Britain’s official tourist agency, VisitBritain, has launched a new three-year ‘Countryside is GREAT’ campaign designed to draw and grow international visits and spend across the country.

The ‘Countryside is GREAT’ campaign will position Britain’s countryside as a place to enjoy modern culture, top quality food and world-class accommodation in a beautiful landscape. Currently ranked 20th among the top 50 countries for being ‘rich in natural beauty’ in the 2014 Anholt-Gfk Nation Brand Index, Britain’s ‘natural beauty’ has been overlooked compared to other international destinations and consistently positioned behind America, Australia and Canada.

However, VisitBritain research shows that a significant number of visitors already enjoy the British countryside. In 2013 a significant proportion of visitors from New Zealand (43%), Australia (41%), Canada (33%), China (32%), UAE (29%) and Germany (27%) all explored Britain’s countryside and villages. The campaign aims to build on this interest and show potential visitors places to visit for great holiday experiences and ways to get there.

Sally Balcombe, chief executive of VisitBritain, said: ‘We want to encourage our international visitors to experience more of Britain. Enjoying the beautiful landscape is one of the key drivers for holiday choice for international visitors second only to offering good value for money. Britain has stunning national parks and world heritage sites to rival our competitors but they are currently being overlooked by many of our overseas visitors.

‘Our launch to the British industry is a chance to show how local tourism businesses can get involved with the campaign and help us boost local economies and their own profitability.’

The first year of ‘Countryside is GREAT’ will focus on visitors from the USA and Germany. The regions featuring in the first year of the campaign are the Scottish Highlands, Peak District, Cotswolds, Cornwall, Pembrokeshire, North Wales, Warwickshire, Lake District and Yorkshire.

VisitBritain expects the campaign to generate extra visitor spend of GBP70m, and should see the creation of 1,296 new jobs by 2018.


Staycations on the rise for Brits this summer

With the holiday season unfolding, leading travel site TripAdvisor has revealed travel trends that have emerged for Brits during the peak summer travel period.

Research of the British TripAdvisor community showed that 2014 will be the summer of the staycation for Brits, with six British destinations featuring in the top 15 global list. London and Edinburgh top the list in first and second place respectively, while the UK cities Manchester, Glasgow, Liverpool and Birmingham also feature in the top 15. And apparently city breaks in general are proving a hit for British travellers, as 11 of the top 15 are revealed to be city destinations.

If not staying in the UK, staying close to home is the trend as the top 15 is dominated by five European destinations. Only four destinations in the hot list this year are located outside of the continent – Sharm El Sheikh, New York City, Orlando and Dubai, VisitScotland said in its release.

For those looking for a vacation outside the UK, Sharm El Sheikh is the most popular holiday destination in third place, followed by New York City in fourth.

Brits are also aiming high on the staycation, with more than 46% of travellers focusing on 4-star hotels and over 20% opting for the ultimate in luxury with 5-star properties. Of the travellers with a more modest budget, 27% are focused on 3-star properties, and on the lower end of the scale only 5% are interested in 2-stars and a meagre 1% on 1-star hotels.

The research further revealed that under the attractions tab on TripAdvisor, the five most popular activities for British travellers are: outdoor, cultural, amusement, museums and landmarks.

Commenting on the trend, VisitScotland Chief Executive Malcolm Roughead said: ‘To have both Edinburgh and Glasgow featured in the top 10 destinations for British travellers this summer is wonderful news. In terms of value and volume of visitors, the UK remains our biggest market and one which we are always striving to build on.

‘Both Edinburgh and Glasgow – which appear second and ninth respectively – offer a multitude of fantastic attractions and experiences for visitors. With such an exciting summer ahead, including the Glasgow Commonwealth Games and the ever-popular Edinburgh Festival, it comes as no surprise that UK visitors would want to visit these incredible destinations.

‘As Scotland welcomes the world in 2014 with over 850 Homecoming events, the upcoming Commonwealth Games and The Ryder Cup, I would encourage everyone to head out and explore the wide range of first-class attractions that can be found right on our doorstep.’


Inbound tourism registers significant growth across Britain

Inbound tourism has grown significantly across all of Britain’s regions in 2013, and will continue to grow by over 6% a year for the rest of this decade, VisitBritain has said, citing figures released by the Office for National Statistics.

Strong growth has been registered across all sectors, viz. Holiday visits, Business visits and VFR (Visit to friends and relatives) visits.

A record number of Holiday visits to British regions were registered in 2013 – at 12.726 million, an increase of 6.4%, with spending up 12.0% year on year at GBP8.448bn.

Business visits reached 7.945 million, up 7.0% but still down on the 9 million achieved in 2006. Spending by those visiting for Business reached GBP5.014bn, up 11.4% on 2012.

Meantime, VFR (Visit to friends and relatives) visits increased 4.2% to 9.327 million, which was below the record established in 2008 of 9.727 million. VFR visits generated GBP4.524bn in spending in 2013, up 14.6% on the year before.

Christopher Rodrigues, Chairman of VisitBritainm said: ‘We are delighted with these final results for the key post-Olympic year. Every single nation across Britain has seen an uplift in visitor numbers and, even more importantly, there have been substantial increases in spending for one of Britain’s largest export industries.

‘VisitBritain encourages visitors to explore all our nations and regions so I am particularly pleased that spending growth across the Rest of England (outside of London) and Scotland is faster than for London, which itself had a record breaking year.

‘These strong results underpin the forecast that inbound tourism will continue to grow by over 6% a year across the rest of this decade, making a significant contribution to the UK’s balance of payments and continuing to offer rapidly growing employment opportunities.

‘Tourism is, and always will be, a major part of the British economy.’

VisitBritain is the national tourism agency, responsible for marketing Britain worldwide and developing Britain’s visitor economy. The agency, which is funded by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, works with partners in the UK and overseas to ensure that Britain is marketed in an appropriate way around the world.


Britain ranked top European shopping destination

Britain has been voted the best place in Europe to visit for shopping, according to a report by YouGov.

The report is based on YouGov’s latest EuroTrack survey, which tracks public opinion in the UK, Germany, France, Denmark, Sweden, Finland and Norway. The findings come after official figures showed that economic growth in Britain has doubled since the start of the year, and a report by YouGov and the Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR) found that consumer confidence in Britain is at its highest level since early 2010.

Commenting on the results of the EuroTrack survey, YouGov director of Political and Social Research, Joe Twyman, said: ‘The fact that Europeans see the UK as the best place to visit for shopping could be another small bit of good economic news this week, which no doubt most Britons feel is long overdue. It also shows that Britain has a distinguishing factor advantage as a holiday destination, whereas Italy, France and Spain dominate in most other categories.’

The report said that when asked to choose up to three European countries, on average a third, or 32 percent of respondents, said that the UK was the best place in Europe to visit for shopping, followed by Italy at 20 percent and France at 20 percent. France, Italy and Spain are reportedly the top choices for holidaymakers.

When asked about the best places in Europe to visit for good weather, Spain was ranked best at 56 percent, followed by Greece at 44 percent and Italy at 32 percent. Italy tops the list for food, at 48 percent, followed by France at 45 percent and Spain at 26 percent. For ‘good fun, socialising and parties’, Spain is the preferred choice at 41 percent, followed by Greece at 18 percent and Italy at 16 percent.

According to the EuroTrack survey, 36 percent have voted Italy as the best place in Europe for sightseeing, with France at 33 percent and the UK in third place at 25 percent. Asked about the best place in Europe to visit to learn a new language, 35 percent of respondents chose Spain as their first choice, followed by the UK at 28 percent and France at 27 percent.