There are a number of dates throughout the year promoting variations of local, national or international Chocolate Day – as if we needed an excuse to indulge our sugar cravings! UK Chocolate Week is every October and there is even World Chocolate Day which took place on September 4th. Take a look at our guide to enjoying some of the best desserts, sweets and cakes in three of Thomas Cook’s most popular European destinations.
Last minute Turkey holidays are perfect for those of you with a sweet tooth. Turkish delight is probably the best-known sugary snack from the Middle East. These small, fragrant cubes of jelly are usually flavoured with rosewater, orange flower water or citrus fruit juice and heavily dusted with icing sugar. Turkish delight is served alongside coffee or tea in Middle Eastern households. Cinnamon or peppermint flavoured oils are sometimes used as an alternative to rosewater.
Baklava is by far Turkey’s favourite dessert. Eggs, olives, pistachio, and lemons are some of the ingredients used in this sweet treat. The final product is a delicious syrupy pastry snack. Aside from white-sandy beaches, breathtaking cliff-bound bays and lively nightlife, holidays to Dalaman offer some of the best baklava in the country.
Holidays in Malta have always been popular, due to the island’s many sunny days, expansive beaches and vibrant nightlife. It’s also a melting pot of cultures. With North African and Arabic influences from the south, Sicilian from the north, and Greek from the west, this diversity is reflected in its cuisine. Kannoli is perhaps the most famous Italian-influenced Maltese sweet. This very popular confectionery is shaped like a cylinder and stuffed with pieces of chocolate and fruit preserves. Figoll, delicious golden-brown biscuits stuffed with ground almonds, are also a local favourite.
Cheap holidays in Tunisia are very popular and with good reason; behind excellent beaches and low-rise hotels lies a country of great variety – green mountains, rivers, lakes and amazing weather. Tunisian desserts reflect this variety too. The most common is a simple plate of light, sweet and delicious seasonal fruit to cleanse the palate. There are also a multitude of honey, nut and pastry shaped sweets. Makroudh is a North African favourite; it is made with honey and has a date filling on the inside. Powdered sugar doughnuts topped with pistachios are also popular here.
The World Travel Awards 2012 has rated the Turkish Ministry of Culture & Tourism as Europe’s ‘Leading Tourist Board.’
The awards acknowledged the quality of various tourist facilities in the country. For example, the award for Europe’s Leading Luxury Hotel was bagged by the Mardan Palace, Antalya and the Cornelia Diamond Golf Resort & Spa in Belek was awarded with Europe’s Leading Luxury Resort award. Angel’s Peninsula, Marmaris, bagged Europe’s Leading New Luxury Hotel award.
Over the years, Turkey has developed into a major tourist destination and is now ranked sixth in terms of the number of foreign arrivals. That foreign arrivals figure was 31.4 million in 2011, of which 2.58 million were from the UK. The figure for 2011 recorded a 50 percent increase compared to the previous five years.
Cities in Turkey also claimed various honours after being rated by international travellers. While the Turkish city of Istanbul was voted ‘Destination of the Year’ by readers of Food and Travel magazine, the resort town of Belek was named ‘Best Golf Destination’ at the Golf Journal Travel Awards. The TripAdvisor 2012 Choice Destination Awards rated Istanbul as the fourth best destination in Europe, and seventh best destination in the world.
Turkey, which enjoys universal appeal as a holiday destination, is also well regarded for its culture, culinary delights, wonderful climate, natural beauty and warm hospitality. The nation also hosts two Wonders of the Ancient World, 11 UNESCO World Heritage Sites, 352 Blue Flag beaches and 19 Blue Flag Marinas.
Commenting on the recent distinction, Turkey’s minister for Culture & Tourism said, ‘We are thrilled to have won this prestigious travel award during a year which has seen a number of awards for Turkey and unprecedented press coverage. It is also a year in which Istanbul is the European Capital of Sport and when the city became one of three short listed cities for the 2020 Olympics.’
The governments of Gambia and Turkey have agreed to expand cooperation to develop tourism in both states.
The agreement – signed by tourism officials from both nations – seeks to recognise the importance of tourism to develop economic development in the countries. The two nations also agreed to use tourism as a means to develop stronger ties.
After attending the signing ceremony, Gambia’s minister of Tourism and Culture, Fatou Mass Jobe-Njie, said that the agreement with Turkey would improve product and human resource developments as well as tourism investment in Gambia. She also noted that the collaboration would help the nation enhance its tourism offering with significant improvements in quality, saying that since Turkey and Gambia had common tourism offerings, experience from one country would help the other.
Ali Riza A-zcokun, Turkish ambassador to Gambia, said that with the signing of the agreement, Turkish visitors would have enhanced knowledge about Gambia and Africa in general.
Momodou Joof, permanent secretary at MoTC, said, ‘This MOU will provide the two countries opportunity to share experiences, knowledge and information in the area of tourism. The country is standing a chance to benefit in the area of product development, hotel gratification among other things in the field of tourism’
The understanding could lead to Gambia increasingly becoming noticed as a tourism destination for its beaches and culture.
A religious tourism package that allows travellers to gain an in-depth knowledge of Islam is being offered in Turkey.
While the title of the package, ‘Muslim for a Month,’ could possibly be viewed with cynicism by the religion’s devout followers, the package is nevertheless an attempt to provide visitors with a detailed insight into Islam, especially in its moderate and tolerant form.
The tours are the brainchild of Ben Bowler, who runs cultural exchange programmes and intends to take travellers, especially non-Muslims from around the world, to Turkish mosques and homes to experience Islam firsthand. Bowler said that the tourism initiative would allow people to be exposed to the virtues of Islam, a religion that has been the recipient of much negative attention.
Bowler, who has been conducting the tours for some time, said that people’s attitudes are altered once they learn about the religion in detail. He said, ‘People are very visibly moved. There are lots of tears. It’s a rich, multi-layered experience and people are coming out with changed ideas and changed perceptions-they are more aware of the positive side of the religion than before.’
Bowler said that the title of the tour programme was considered to be rather provocative by some, but he added that Muslims have been showing support because of its good intentions. He said, ‘It’s a provocative title, ‘Muslim for a Month,’ so we were bracing ourselves for criticism. There has been a little of that – Being a Muslim is for life, not just a month.’
The programme is being offered by Bowler’s NGO World Weavers. Tour participants are taught the basics of Islamic practice. They study Islamic history and calligraphy, and are allowed to pray in mosques and live and eat with Muslim families. Tourists will also have to undergo a day of fasting. The travel package is for 10 or 21 days, and travellers are put up in a 400-year-old Sufi lodge in Istanbul’s Eyup district. They will also visit the ancient city of Konya to visit the tomb of Sufi mystic, Rumi, and learn his teachings.
Travelmatch are expecting the summer of 2011 to see many British tourists venture to Turkey. Sales figures from the online travel specialists have shown a significant increase in interest in trips to Lara Beach, Marmaris and other seaside resorts in Turkey. The country is known for these excellent spots as well as Istanbul, an enchanting and very popular city steeped in history.
According to travelmatch.co.uk this surge owes to several factors. Airlines have opened new routes to seaside resorts making it convenient and affordable for British tourists to plan their holidays there. The country has also received notable acclaim of late with its capital city of Istanbul drawing praise from many observers thanks to its gorgeous buildings and superb cultural attractions. Recently it was listed by TripAdvisor as one of the top ten cities in Europe in its 2011 Traveller’s Choice Destination Awards.
The country has also proved popular with people looking for holiday homes. Recent figures have shown that foreign investment in Turkish real estate increased by 40% in 2010.
Alex Francis of Travelmatch comments on the high demand for holidays to Turkey: “Every year one country proves to be especially popular, and early figures indicate that the summer of 2011 will be all about Turkey. This in part owes to structural factors such as the greater availability of flights to resort areas, but there is no denying this country’s unique appeal. Resorts like Lara Beach feature some of the world’s best beaches and gorgeous hotels like the Delphin Diva, while Istanbul offers an amazing cultural experience. Turkey is truly an incredible destination and it is certainly deserving of its popularity.”
It has been revealed that discount deals to sunny destinations are attracting large numbers of holiday makers this Easter and the time around the Royal Wedding. With Turkey and Portugal proving most popular.
Research conducted by leading online travel agent On the Beach reveals that thousands of Brits will be heading on budget holidays to sunnier climes this Easter with many more sun worshipers jetting off for the Royal Wedding.
The Portuguese Algarve coast is proving to be one of the most popular destinations amongst holidaymakers, with bookings over the Easter period up more than 90% on the same time last year. Malta is also a popular destination this Easter with sales up 22% on the previous year.
Malaga, Turkey and the Greek Island of Rhodes make up the top five most popular destinations this holiday period.
Uncertainty surrounding Portugal’s economy has seen many airlines and hoteliers offering discounted deals in order to attract British holidaymakers to its resorts. Keen to take advantage of the deals, On the Beach has witnessed a huge rise in bookings with customers snapping up deals with prices up to 28% cheaper than Easter 2010.
During Easter and the Royal Wedding weekend, bargain holidays to Turkey are also being snapped up with the average price of a holiday up to 40% cheaper than last year.
Alistair Daly, Marketing Director at On the Beach said, “There are many great deals to be had with Portugal offering the greatest savings over the Easter holiday and Royal Wedding period. Our latest sales figures show that British holidaymakers are keen to take advantage of the extra bank holiday given this year and many will be watching the happy couple tie the knot while relaxing in a sunny beach destination.”