St. Kitts and Nevis Tourism officials and destination partners have concluded the fifth Destination St. Kitts and Nevis Roadshow in the UK with a Tour Operator Meetings and Networking Session at Hampton Court Palace on Thursday October 12. The four day initiative from October 8 to 12, 2017, was led by The Hon. Lindsay F.P. Grant, Minister of Tourism, International Trade, Industry and Commerce, supported by Chairman of the Nevis Tourism Authority, Tim Thuell; CEO of the St. Kitts Tourism Authority, Racquel Brown and CEO of the Nevis Tourism Authority, Greg Phillip.
Against a background of Caribbean rhythms and tastes, the four day event provided the platform for tourism officials and destination partners to network with UK travel agents, media, tour operators and specially invited guests with the aim of creating visibility and awareness, pursuing future opportunities and to build business for the crucial booking season.
CEO’s Racquel Brown and Greg Phillip, together with Tim Thuell, Chairman of the NTA Board, spoke in one voice in highlighting the destination’s appeal to UK consumers seeking authentic experiences complemented by a desire for luxury, romance, great food and adventure. Travel Agents, Media, Tour Operators and other guests were also treated to a preview of the destination’s videos showcasing the history, culture, food, friendly people and scenic natural beauty of the island.
Minister Lindsay Grant acknowledged the support of the UK travel industry and the special partnership with British Airways.
“As St. Kitts strives to compete in the global marketplace, this week’s initiative is crucial to building partnerships with the UK travel industry, even more so in the aftermath of Hurricanes Irma and Maria. We emphasise that St. Kitts and Nevis is very much open for business and we ask your help in spreading that message. The Caribbean is in our prayers as we feel for those that were not fortunate enough to escape damage. “
Rainforest Adventures has announced a November 2017 opening for the new St. Maarten Rockland Estate eco-park. The park will launch with two signature attractions, The Flying Dutchman -- the world’s steepest zip line -- and the Soualiga Sky Explorer chairlift, as well as the Emilio Wilson Museum and Emilio’s Restaurant. Additional attractions, including the Sentry Hill Zip Line and the Schooner Ride will open in early 2018.
In partnership with the St. Maarten delegation, representatives of Rockland Estate will be attending the 24th Annual FCCA Cruise Conference & Trade Show in Merida, Mexico, October 23 – October 27, 2017. They will be at booth B2 and welcome an opportunity to answer questions about, or introduce participants to, what is sure to be the eastern Caribbean’s must-do attraction.
According to Port St. Maarten’s management the eco-park will be a major new attraction and they are proud of the progress the team has made to open the park. They stress how important it is to have stakeholders like Rainforest Adventures and others to be present with them at the FCCA Conference to promote the destination and strongly emphasize the message that St. Maarten is back and open.
“We are very proud and thankful to our engineering and construction teams, their hard work and expertise certainly reduced the damage incurred as a consequence of the hurricane,” says Shaydar Edelmann, General Manager of Rockland Estate. “The people of St. Maarten have come together in strength to restore and rebuild, reestablish the tourism product and kick-start the recovery of our Friendly Island.”
Princess Juliana International Airport has opened to commercial flights and Port St. Maarten is ready to welcome its first commercial cruise vessel on November 5th. Restaurant and attraction businesses are reopening daily and are ready to receive guests.
Opening November 2017 at Rainforest Adventures’ Rockland Estate Eco-Park
· Each adventure begins in the Emilio Wilson Museum housed in a restored plantation house originally built in the 1700s. Guests will see depictions of what life was like on a plantation and learn about the customs, traditions, lifestyle, and stories that earned Sint Maarten the nickname ‘The Friendly Island’.
· Emilio’s Restaurant, St. Maarten’s newest restaurant and entertainment hot spot.
Innovation will be at the centre of ways to tackle shared challenges facing Commonwealth countries when finance ministers, central bank governors, and senior finance officials meet this week in Washington DC.
Member states will be discussing ways to address climate change, financial exclusion, unemployment and the vulnerability of small and developing states.
“Significant and innovative public policies will likely be required to reduce fossil fuel production and consumption to achieve the Paris Agreement,” said Dr Daniel Wilde, economic adviser in the Commonwealth Secretariat’s Oceans and Natural Resources division. “If effective policies aren’t put in place, then climate change could result in severe economic and ecological damage.”
Small states are disproportionately exposed to economic and climate shocks. They face further challenges caused by inadequate resources in building up their resilience.
“Now is the time to re-examine international rules governing external financing. We need to explore the innovative mechanisms of linking vulnerability to development finance, such as disaster and climate finance,” said the Secretariat’s economic adviser small states, Motselisi Matsela.
Technological innovation will also be key to tackling unemployment across the Commonwealth. Ministers will be discussing how member states can help one another when it comes to research and development, bridging any gaps in knowledge.
Research officer for the Secretariat’s economic, social and sustainable development directorate (ESSD), Zoheir Ebrahim said, “Innovation could be the catalyst for stimulating economic growth, creating new industries and supporting a growing Commonwealth labour force. To do this we need to enhance the enabling environment for private sector investment through new Commonwealth development partnerships.”
An issue facing all Commonwealth members is the implication of disruptive change brought about by innovative technologies in the financial sector, more commonly known as Fintech.
“Fintech has the potential to address financial exclusion, which affects predominantly women, by bringing financial services to them,” said Sanjana Zaman, ESSD research officer. “Central bank governors will be encouraged to collaborate with the Fintech sector to take this agenda forward.”
The finance ministers meeting will be preceded by the annual dialogue between the Commonwealth, La Francophonie and the G20 group of countries. It will provide a unique opportunity for member states from both intergovernmental organisations to engage with senior officials from the current German G20 Presidency and the incoming Argentinian G20 Presidency to discuss the current agenda and policy options for a future agenda.
The Commonwealth represents a third of the world across six regions, including small states and vulnerable states, developed and developing states, and five of the countries making up the Group of 20 (G20), namely Australia, Canada, India, South Africa and the UK.
On 21 October 2017, London-based Flight Centre travel consultants Reece Gilkes and Matt Bishop will embark on the first ever circumnavigation of the globe on a scooter with a sidecar.
Matt and Reece will kick off the expedition with a London to Paris Launch Rally. They will be accompanied by a large convoy of scooters, sidecars and other vehicles, leaving the Ace Café, London at 07:00am. The rally aims to raise awareness of Unseen UK who operate the UK's Modern Slavery Helpline. Around 70 people have already signed up to join the rally for just £25, which includes a return ticket via Eurotunnel Le Shuttle, thanks to support for the cause from Eurotunnel. A few remaining places are available for those wishing to join the rally.
The pair will then scoot over five continents, through over 50 countries and cover around 40,000 miles on the most inappropriate mode of transport imaginable – a scooter with a sidecar. The trip itself, sponsored by Flight Centre UK, will take up to 18 months and will involve travelling on a mixture of tarmac, mud, gravel, ice and sand, with temperatures reaching highs of 40 and potentially touching minus 20.
Matt and Reece are taking on this huge Guinness World Record breaking challenge to raise awareness and funds for the fight against modern day slavery. There are currently 45.8 million people enslaved in every country globally, including the UK. That's enough people to fill Wembley Stadium over 500 times and more than double what there was at the peak of the transatlantic slave trade.
Matt said “The decisions we make back home often don't reflect our intentions and that's because we're not personally connected to the people we're affecting. Think about it – would you buy that cheap t-shirt if it was going to make life worse for somebody you know? By telling the personal stories of the people we meet during our journey and sharing details of their everyday life, we're hoping to help people in the UK feel more connected with them. We believe that by championing our shared similarities we can help people realise the everyday decisions we make at home affect real people, just like them, all around the world.”
Reece said: “The way we learn about people who are from somewhere different to us is wrong. Huge groups of people are often defined by a single story. This story is usually impossible to relate to and instead of connecting with people personally we often end up pitying or fearing them. That's why we're going on this mission: to find similarities between different people from different places and tell different stories that truly reflect the people we meet. Hopefully this way we can fight the stereotyping and create a more personally connected world.”
In preparation for their epic adventure, and to get some experience of living by the road, riding in the cold and sharing stories, Matt and Reece have completed an epic UK tour. They travelled from London to Lands' End, to John O'Groats, to London again on 125cc learner bikes in the middle of December 2016. On the 2,200-mile route, they had to endure 12 days of rain, extreme cold and up to 14 hours riding each day. When they were not riding, Matt and Reece were either attempting fix the bikes or in local schools talking about the expedition and the reasons behind it. They've also undertaken emergency survival training, with Survival Wisdom in Cornwall, to ensure they're fully prepared for every scenario.
As well as aiming to inspire genuine change, the project has a fundraising target of £50,000 which will go towards the organisations fighting modern day slavery and other human rights abuses – including Unseen UK and the local organisations visited en-route – as well as helping fund the costs of the trip.
Flight Centre is supporting the campaign because the company's success comes down to its people; experienced Travel Experts who are passionate about finding their customers the holiday they want, for the price they want.
The team at Flight Centre are experts when it comes to travel and are committed to providing customers with a great experience. The Flight Centre team can organise anything from flights to tailor-made holidays, hotels, car hire, tours, travel insurance, visas and more. They also have dedicated First and Business Class flight teams and Business Travel teams to help with any specialised travel needs.
Karen Tracey, Staffordshire business woman and Chair of the Birmingham chapter of the Women Presidents’ Organisation, scooped the 2017 Adrienne Hall Award for Breaking Down Barriers at the WPO 20th anniversary annual conference in Orlando, Florida.
The award goes to a member, Chapter Chair, organisation or sponsor who has gone out of their way to collaborate with the WPO, to forge an alliance that has proved helpful to the organization, as well as to break down barriers for female entrepreneurs. Karen is the first UK recipient in its 20-year history.
“Karen has demonstrated enthusiastic support for the WPO. She embodies its mission, to help accomplished women entrepreneurs drive second-stage businesses to the next level of success by tackling a multitude of strategic and operational issues,” said WPO President & Founder Dr. Marsha Firestone.
Karen, owner of a Lichfield-based Coaching company which helps high growth businesses and senior executives, was delighted to receive the award. She said “ I am completely shocked and overwhelmed to receive this award. The WPO is a significant force of female entrepreneurs across the world and to be recognised in this way is amazing. To bring this award back to the UK and the Midlands is naturally not only great for me, of course, but also for my Birmingham UK members. I am so proud to receive it.”
Grenada Tourism Authority (GTA) Chief Executive Officer Patricia Maher, has completed a successful mission to the UK to further raise the profile of Pure Grenada, the Spice of the Caribbean. The schedule of several days was packed with consumer, media and travel industry events that showcased Grenada, Carriacou and Petite Martinique.
Ms. Maher led the GTA delegation at the UK’s foremost bridal event, the National Wedding Show in London on Sunday 24 September, reaching an audience of potential wedding couples and honeymooners. She undertook positive meetings with senior management at British Airways and Virgin Holidays both of which are significant providers of visitors and Visiting Friends and Relations (VFR) traffic from the UK.
Meetings with leading ‘partner’ tour operators including Trailfinders, Lotus/Dial A Flight, Kenwood Travel and the Sandals Store enabled Ms. Maher to hear first-hand how Pure Grenada continues to be positioned and promoted as an authentic destination for discerning travellers.
Ms. Maher attended the annual Association of National Tourist Office Representatives (ANTOR) media networking event attended by over 60 leading UK press and social media influencers. The following evening she hosted an informal briefing session with key consumer media including BBC Radio London and The Huffington Post correspondents, where rum and chocolate - two special ingredients from Pure Grenada – provided an authentic taste of the tri-island state.
In addition, Ms Maher was interviewed by trade and consumer media about Pure Grenada and tourism news including the March 2018 opening of Silversands Grenada, next year’s Pure Grenada Music Festival and Grenada Chocolate Fest, and the island hosting the State of the Industry Conference (SOTIC) this week.
Ms Maher said: “The UK remains a vital market for Pure Grenada, the Spice of the Caribbean and we’re investing wisely in partnerships and promotions to ensure we remain front of mind with the travel trade and consumers. Given recent events in the region that have affected some of our neighbours it is imperative that we remain proactive to ensure we Grenada, Carriacou and Petite Martinique are seen to be ‘open for business’ and offering exciting, memorable and exceptional experiences to our visitors.”
She added: “We return to London in November for World Travel Market, the global travel industry and media networking exhibition, and in the meantime the UK team will be showcasing Pure Grenada at premier consumer events including The Chocolate Show and The Birmingham Dive Show 2017.”
Untangling the hair grip problem. It goes by many names - it might be called the hairpin, the bobby pin or the hair grip.
But whatever you call it, The UK's waste management agency have called for these hair essentials to be made exclusively from recycled materials.
BusinessWaste.co.uk argue that the much-used hair grip is used and lost so frequently by women around the world that they risk becoming an unnecessary blight on the environment, as well as a huge waste of materials.
Spokesperson Mark Hall from BusinessWaste.co.uk said: “While boys might not know exactly what they’re looking at when they see one, girls can’t do without that small piece of metal that somehow gets absolutely everywhere.
“Sometimes they might only be used once and then thrown away or lost, which is why you see them littering everywhere from gyms to pavements, workplaces, pubs and anywhere else ladies with hair might go.
“Because we know how frequently they’re discarded, it’s only right that they should be made from recycled materials, otherwise we’re just wasting resources on something that is effectively disposable.”
A survey was conducted by BusinessWaste.co.uk which involved over 3000 people. When asked where they’d seen hair grips discarded, people had some strange and interesting responses. 53% of people said they’d seen hair grips in public bathrooms, even down the loo in some cases, although it’s not clear whether they ended up there on purpose or by accident.
86% of people had found them in their own homes with no idea how they got there. The most common places where
Under the bed
Down the side of sofa
And some odder finds including
In the dishwasher
In the toilet
9% of men surveyed by BusinessWaste.co.uk said they’d been put in a tricky situation at some point in their lives, with a girlfriend finding a stray hair grip that wasn’t hers in their home or car.
Steve, 33, Leeds said: “I was seeing a couple of girls at once when I was at uni, one didn’t go to my university and one did so their paths never crossed. I thought I was being really smart and careful, but then the uni girlfriend, Sarah, found a hair grip in my bathroom left by the other girl, Laura, I was rumbled. I tried to convince Sarah it was her own hair grip but she had really short hair and never used them - and neither did I.
“The irony is that Laura later found Sarah’s earring under my bed so she dumped me too. Lads need to know what these things are otherwise we’re going to slip up, that weird little bit of metal can ruin your life.”
It’s estimated that tens of millions of hair grips are sold in the UK each year, with many coming in multipacks of 50 or more. On average, each one of these hair grips lasts up to two weeks before it’s lost or broken, inevitably ending up in landfill.
BusinessWaste.co.uk say that switching to recycled materials would be a much more environmentally-friendly and sensible way to make hair grips, and would have a considerable impact on our planet considering how many are bought each year.
The Belize Tourism Board (BTB), in collaboration with tourism industry stakeholders, will launch a Dollar for the Caribbean Relief Fund campaign during the entire month of October to assist victims of Hurricanes Irma and Maria, which severely devastated many of our Caribbean sister countries earlier in September.
The Belize Tourism Board will donate a $1 for every tourist arrival for the month of October and the initiative is that each stakeholder donates a $1 for every guest; therefore, creating a multiplier effect. The BTB initiative is being supported by participating agencies and tourism stakeholders such as the Belize Tourism Industry Association (BTIA), the Belize Hotel Association (BHA), Tour Operators, water taxis, hoteliers and local airlines amongst many others.
During the first week of September, category 5 Hurricane Irma pummeled a number of Caribbean countries in the northern Leeward Islands and the northern Caribbean leaving a long trail of devastation. Many residents of these countries were left homeless, without food, power, water and basic essentials. Two weeks later, Hurricane Maria followed the same path further exacerbating the level of destruction throwing many of these countries in a severe state of desperation and despair. Many of these countries depend on tourism as their chief means of survival and the devastation by both hurricanes has stalled their economies, which may take several months or perhaps years to recover.
The BTB, therefore, hereby appeals to all stakeholders to donate $1 for every passenger/ guest engaged for the month of October towards the Caribbean Relief Fund in order to ease the road to recovery for our Caribbean sister countries.
The funds will be donated to the Caribbean Tourism Organization, in addition to their existing Go fund me Hurricane Relief fund for the Caribbean. Hugh Riley, Secretary General & CEO of CTO, stated "It's through this Fund that the CTO channels monetary assistance to our impacted member states. Assessments are being conducted of needs through the Ministries of Tourism and the monies collected will be disbursed directly to the people in need in form of food, medication, water, or material for rebuilding. The CTO appreciates all donations to assist in the recovery efforts of these countries."
Further information on the A Dollar for the Caribbean Relief Fund campaign and transparency for disbursements of funds can be found http://belizetourismboard.org/caribbean-hurricane-relief/
Barbados reported strong tourist arrivals, a successful Year of Sports, and a slew of new activities, attractions and accommodations on the horizon.
During his presentation at the annual State of the Industry Conference (SOTIC) in Grenada, CEO of the Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc. (BTMI), William ‘Billy’ Griffith, gave an overview of how destination Barbados performed over the past year, and what’s new for the island.
Barbados still safe
He began by addressing the effects of hurricanes Irma and Maria. Although the hurricanes passed several miles north of the island, there is some overall confusion in source markets about which Caribbean islands were affected by the 2017 hurricane season. He said that the BTMI was working closely with its international public relations agencies to reinforce the message that Barbados was not damaged and is still safe and functional.
Strong 2017 so far
Year-to-date, the island is reporting growth in both arrival numbers and visitor expenditure. Arrivals to Barbados between January and August 2017 stood at 453,645, up 7.4% over the same period in 2016, with the U.S. and Canada recording the highest growth at 16.4% and 12.1% respectively. Meanwhile, cruise arrivals grew by 20.3% between January and August, compared to the same period in 2016, from a total of 323 cruise calls.
According to the Caribbean Tourism Organization’s (CTO) exit survey, visitor expenditure between January and June stood at US$587.7 million, up 5.3% compared to the same period in 2016.
These strong growth trends are expected to continue as several new services are being added at the Grantley Adams International Airport (GAIA). This December, the U.K. will see a new twice weekly Barbados-Heathrow direct service through April 2018, as well as a new Thomas Cook direct weekly flight from London Gatwick airport. In the U.S., Jet Blue has also announced a new year-round Barbados-Boston service, and the carrier’s Newark service will increase from eight to 24 rotations this winter.
New and improved accommodations
Visitors taking advantage of these new services this winter will have their pick of new and refurbished accommodations, from luxury to adults-only. Sandals Royal Barbados is slated to be opened on December 20th 2017. Elegant Hotels’ The House and Treasure Beach are both undergoing extensive renovations to enhance guest experience and are slated to open in October and November. Also reopening this winter is the renowned Fairmont Royal Pavilion in November, and Sea Breeze Beach Hotel in December.
In addition to the new accommodations, the island will also welcome the world-acclaimed luxurious Nikki Beach at Port Ferdinand this winter, as well as the first of its kind Departure Beach by Virgin Holidays in May 2018.
Winter means luxury
To promote the diverse and quality offerings in the pipeline, Barbados’ winter campaign will focus on luxury. The winter campaign is geared towards promoting travel during the dominant travel period of December 2017 to March 2018, will target the affluent traveller and will commence in all major markets in October. A mix of traditional and digital marketing tools will showcase the effortless beauty and luxurious wonder destination Barbados has to offer.
Upcoming festivals and events
Several culturally immersive experiences await visitors this winter and beyond. The diverse sports calendar continues as the Year of Sports comes to a close, with everything from motorsports like Festival of Speed, to sailing with the Dragon World Championship, and of course the highly-anticipated Run Barbados Marathon Weekend in December. Looking forward to 2018, the January Mount Gay Round Series will be rebranded Barbados Sailing Week to highlight the plethora of activities on offer that week.
Also on the menu for fall is the 8th annual Barbados Food & Rum Festival. From November 16-19, Barbados will feature a culinary and cultural immersion experience like no other, featuring both local and international culinary artisans, as well as polo, parties and fish fries. This year’s international chefs are Jean-Georges Vongerichten of the U.S., Tom Aikens of the U.K. and Chris De La Rosa of Canada.
Accolades and achievements
For their hard work throughout the year, destination Barbados received several prestigious awards including Travel Bulleting Star Award’s Star Winter Sun Destination 2017, the #3 spot in Cruise Critic’s Top-Rated Southern Caribbean Cruise Destinations, and the World Economic Forum’s highest score in the Caribbean for Safety & Security.
Denmark is famed worldwide for its cosy, warm and friendly atmosphere – and the 'hygge' is at its best during the chilly Danish autumn and winter, making it the perfect time to visit. But at Halloween, the cosiest country in the world transforms for frights and fun. With pumpkins galore in the heart of Copenhagen, 'Brick or Treat' at LEGOLAND® Billund Resort, and spookily terrifying parties at haunted castles all over the country, an autumn trip to Denmark wouldn't be complete without immersing yourself in these Halloween-themed experiences.
Halloween in Copenhagen
Copenhagen's beautiful and iconic Tivoli Gardens will be dressed up for Halloween this autumn, with 20,000 pumpkins creating a wonderfully warm autumnal atmosphere along with spiders, scarecrows, magical creatures and thousands of lights. Halloween in Tivoli is for everyone, whether it's a family day out to enjoy the thrill of the rides, a delicious dinner for two, or to simply soak up the atmosphere of the beautiful Gardens. As the evening comes to a close, music, lights, smoke, fire and lasers illuminate Tivoli Lake for a show that is not to be missed.
While in Copenhagen, why not experience the frightfully terrifying Carlsberg Halloween Party on 27 October? Situated in Carlsberg's old brewery, the ghosts are coming out of the deepest, darkest corners of the cellars at Visit Carlsberg, with everyone invited to meet them at the Halloween party to end all parties. Grab a scary Halloween costume and join the party!
Tivoli Friheden Aarhus
Located in the heart of Marselisborg Forest in Denmark's second city Aarhus, Tivoli Friheden will be transformed into the home of witches, ghosts, monsters and hundreds of spiders from 14 October until 22 October. As night falls, experience the beautiful lighting and an extra creepy atmosphere in the amusement park. Restaurant Friheden will also be hosting a special Halloween evening buffet on 18 October and 21 October, hosted by witch Grufelia and offering delicious Halloween-themed dishes for the whole family.
LEGOLAND® Billund Resort
LEGOLAND® Billund Resort will be transformed for Halloween from 7 October until 5 November. The park will be full of ghoulish LEGOLAND® creatures and impressive LEGO® Halloween decorations. Join the 'Brick or Treat' tour round the park and meet funny, crazy (and a bit scary!) Halloween creatures on your way, or creep into the giant pumpkin made of more than 100,000 LEGO bricks. LEGOLAND will be decked out with pumpkins, skeletons, ghosts, mummies and spiders to create a Halloween atmosphere everywhere. From 14–22 October and on 28 October, the is open until 9 pm. Selected amusements will be open until 7.30 pm, and when darkness falls, the park will be illuminated by fantastic lights.
Spooky events at haunted castles
Valdemar's Castle, a stunning palace on the island of Tåsinge near Svendborg, in southern Denmark, will have a series of spooky Horror Nights from 29 September until 4 November. With several 'horror zones' to explore – everything from a war zone to a horrific hospital and mysterious dark forest – be prepared to be scared! There is also 'The Mind-Blowing Horror Show' starring Martin Castor, an international show hypnotist with a scarily sharp ability for modern psychological entertainment, mentalism and mind reading.
Wanderlust, the go-to magazine for independently minded travellers, has announced the winners of its annual World Guide Awards for 2017. This year saw Khalid Lamlih, a Moroccan guide who grew up in the Atlas Mountains, clinch first place at the ceremony at London's Royal Geographical Society on Thursday 5 October 2017, receiving his Gold Award from legendary travel writer Bill Bryson.
These awards, now in their 12th year, recognise the world's best tour guides and honour these far too often unsung heroes of the travel industry, as voted for by Wanderlust readers, intrepid explorers, and a range of knowledgeable and experienced judges.
Moroccan born Khalid Lamlih has had a passion for both travel and tour guiding since he was very young. Before he began his successful 10-year career as a tour guide, Khalid formed a symbiotic relationship with other tour-leaders; he would act as their sidekick, helping them out in any way he could, whilst gaining the knowledge, passion and enthusiasm he shares with his groups today.
New-Zealand born Hayley Shephard received the Silver Award. Her family moved to British Colombia, Canada when she was growing up and here she became an outdoors education teacher before she found her true calling – guiding in Antarctica. Meanwhile, Dinesh KC's desire and dedication to sharing his love for his native Nepal over the past decade has been rewarded with the Bronze Award.
Thousands of unforgettable and caring guides who went above and beyond for their travel clients were nominated this year, making it tough job for the winners to be chosen.
The industry-experts who judged this year's awards include: Wanderlust co-founder and editor-in-chief Lyn Hughes; experienced wilderness and adventure guide Myles Farnbank; travel industry gurus Mandy Nickerson and Derek Moore, and Gill Russell from Craghoppers UK – this year's sponsor. At the ceremony, they were also joined by special guests and previous judges, legendary travel Writer Bill Bryson and author, photographer and TV wildlife expert, Mark Carwardine.
The winning guides all receive a generous bursary donated by Craghoppers to put towards community projects and charities of their choice. Swarovski Optik and Powertraveller also provided some additional prizes for the winners.
Wanderlust co-founder and judge, Lyn Hughes, stated, “Every time the judges and I come together, we spend hours smiling and being inspired by the bucket load of anecdotes and testimonials that have been sent in by readers.”
“It never gets any easier to narrow such an incredible list down to just three. And then, picking an overall winner is even trickier still! As always, though, these accolades only serve to utterly convince me of their importance in making your experience one that's extremely special.”
Many comments made by Wanderlust readers and Khalid's past clients which truly convinced the judges that he deserved this year's Gold Award. He was nominated for reasons such as “he went out of his way on several occasions to provide different options and activities. He was also a great storyteller and great fun” and “when I think of Morocco, I think of Khalid. He cared for us like a kind father cares for his family, creating life long memories”.
The UK could look forward to a rise in visitors from China in the coming week as China National Day and the Golden Week holiday begin. Golden Week is a prime time of travel for the Chinese and more are choosing to visit the UK than ever.
Latest official statistics show that there were a record number of visits from China to the UK in the first quarter of 2017. From January to March this year, there were 54,000 visits from China, up 27% on the same period last year, with visitors spending a record £91 million, up 27%.
Latest data from ForwardKeys shows that flight bookings from China to the UK for September to November are tracking 10% up on the same period last year.
VisitBritain Chief Executive Sally Balcombe said that China, the world’s most valuable outbound market, was a huge tourism opportunity for Britain.
“We want Britain to top the list as must-go-now destination for Chinese travellers and to give them a world-class visitor experience. As well as making it easier to get here, with increased route development and airline seat capacity, we’re working with our partners to get great tactical deals in market and increasing the services that visitors experience. “With our shops, visitor attractions and accommodation offering great value for Chinese travellers, it is a great time to come to Britain.” In August this year, Britain was about 12% more affordable for visitors from China than it was the same month in 2015.
In November, VisitBritain will lead a large scale travel trade mission – Destination Britain China – to Guangzhou, in South China, bringing out 65 UK tourism companies to meet with China’s top travel agents.
Visitors from China spent, on average, almost £2,000 per visit in Britain in 2016, more than three times the all market average. They also stay longer, an average of 20 nights compared to the all market average of seven and travel more widely across Britain than other visitors.
For every 22 visits from China to the UK, one job is created in Britain’s tourism industry*.
VisitBritain has ambitions to double spend from Chinese visitors to £1 billion annually by 2020. In 2016, visitors from China spent £513 million in the UK.
Tourism is worth £127 billion to the UK economy, creating jobs and boosting economic growth across its nations and regions.
After the Florida Keys were impacted by Hurricane Irma on 10 September, local government officials have announced that the island chain will reopen to visitors on Sunday, 1 October.
Potential visitors are advised that while it is safe to travel to the Keys, recovery efforts are ongoing, especially in the Lower Keys and parts of Marathon which were hardest hit by the Category 4 storm. Not all lodging is operating on a normal basis currently and this includes RV resorts and other tourism facilities throughout the Keys. The districts of Key Largo and Key West were the least impacted, however visitors planning to travel to the Keys in the coming months are advised to call ahead to ensure their chosen hotels1 and favourite attractions are open.
Motorists should use extreme caution when navigating Marathon and the Lower Keys regions and stay off side roads to avoid hindering restoration activities. Bridges on the Florida Keys Overseas Highway have passed inspections and any necessary repairs have been made.
Officials confirmed that the decision to open the Keys to visitors is based on some of the most immediate infrastructure repairs having been completed. Almost all power and water services have now been restored and mobile phone service is working well, however the full restoration of television and internet connections is taking longer to re-establish. Throughout the Keys there are significant debris piles that are being removed by clean-up contractors.
Monroe County Mayor George Neugent commented, “We know we have a long way to go before the Keys fully recover, but because tourism is our top economic engine and many of our residents' livelihoods depend on it, we also know that we need to begin asking visitors to return.”
UK travellers planning a visit to the Keys can access the island chain from this weekend through the normal gateway airports of Miami and Fort Lauderdale. International airports in Marathon and Key West have also reopened to aviation traffic and The Port of Key West is now welcoming cruise ships again.
While some special events have been postponed or cancelled, key upcoming events include Key Largo's Humphrey Bogart Film Festival (18-22 October) and Key West's Fantasy Fest (20-29 October), both of which will take place as originally scheduled.