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In the News this Week...
brought to you by News Editor, Roger Bray
Transatlantic flight boost for Manchesterabout 9 hours ago
Transatlantic travel from Manchester will get boost tomorrow (20 October) with the launch of Aer Lingus flights direct to Barbados and the resumption of Air Transat’s service to Toronto. The former will depart three times a week from the airport’s new Terminal Two, on Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays. . The operation will run until the end of April. The Canadian airline will operate one round trip a week, leaving Toronto on Tuesdays, flying to Canada on Wednesday mornings.
New app allows home tests for returning travellers1 day ago
Covid test provider Randox has launched a do it yourself authentication app which, it claims, will enable returning travellers to complete the lateral flow check process at home from £20. From Sunday (24 October) people taking the check will remove the need for fully vaccinated travellers to pay for often costly PCR tests when they get home. Travellers will first need to download Randox CertiFly app, then collect a sample using one of the company’s lateral flow kits, ordered earlier. Each kit has a single use QR code that can be registered with the app. They must then scan in the result using the app and receive a certificate of authentication – in the app and by email.
Hold on before booking US trips, Foreign Office advises1 day ago
The Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office has warned that it is still waiting for details on the proof of vaccination the US will accept when it opens its borders to fully jabbed UK visitors early next month. “The USA has not yet confirmed that it will accept the UK’s proof of COVID-19 recovery and vaccination record. British nationals planning to travel to the US from 8 November 2021 onwards may wish to wait for further information to be released by the US Government. We will update Travel Advice concerning entry to USA accordingly.”
Passengers will need to have taken a test in the 72 hours before travel and there will be no need to isolate on arrival. The FCDO confirms that guidance from the US Centers for Disease Control indicates acceptable vaccines will include those listed for emergency use by the World Health Organisation such as AstraZeneca’s. In a further caveat, however, is adds: “How this guidance is interpreted will vary depending on the locality in the US.” This suggests some states may take a different view.
Science and hope: cancer exhibition set to open1 day ago
The history of cancer treatments and progress towards cures will be the themes of a free exhibition opening on Friday (22 October) at Manchester’s Science and Industry Museum. Among the items on show – to prove the disease was around in prehistoric times – will be the first malignant tumour identified in a dinosaur fossil discovered in 2020. Another will the radium teletherapy apparatus used by Ernest and Frank Carling at Westminster Hospital in the 1930s that could shrink and treat tumours. Pioneering studies expIored will include the work of a team building mini tumours that grow ands change like human cancers with the aim of improving the way treatments are tested and to seek new therapies targeting cells. And interactive digital exhibits will test visitors’ knowledge and include a quiz aimed at busting myths about the causes of cancer. Katie Dabin, Lead Curator of the exhibition, says: ‘We are immensely proud to be able to bring to life for the very first time the awe-inspiring story of how far cancer treatment has come. Despite the advances in survival that have been made, there are still big questions to address. Why do treatments sometimes stop working? Why does cancer come back in some people but not others? How can we help more people with cancer live better and longer?
Cancer Revolution: Science, Innovation and hope, will run until March and open at the Science Museum in London next summer.
Cheaper return tests confirmed4 days ago
Fully vaccinated travellers returning from trips abroad will be able to take a latter flow test instead of an often costly PCR test from 24 October. They will need to book the tests privately on or before the second day after they get back. If they prove positive they will have to self isolate and take a free PCR test to confirm the result. The move applies to all but a remaining handful of red list countries for people coming home to England but not yet to Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland. It has given holiday companies, airlines and other travel businesses a desperately needed boost. As it has come in the nick of time for the busy half term period they are likely to see a renewed surge of bookings.
Explore returns to Pakistan4 days ago
Adventure tour operator Explore plans to operate tours to Pakistan next year – for the first time in two decades. Highlights will include walking to the base camp for Nanga Parbat, travel on the Karakoram Highway which crosses into China, where it is known as the Friendship Highway – and a full day exploring the spectacular Hunza Valley with a walk on Hoper Glacier and an evening meal tasting the likes of apricot soup and cheese chapatis with crushed almonds. There will be four departures, in June, July, August and September. Packages cost from £2299 for each of two sharing, including b&b, all transport and excursions and the services of a tour leader throughout. Flights are excluded but can be arranged with fares from £663.
War and Holocaust recalled in new War Museum galleries4 days ago
Telling individual stories of some of the Jews who were murdered, the highly anticipated new Second World War and Holocaust Galleries at London’s Imperial War Museum will open next week (on 20 October). They will be recalled through over 2000 photos, books, letters and personal objects such as jewellery, clothing, keepsakes and toys. The museum’s aim is for visitors to see the Holocaust not as an isolated event but as “fundamental to the course and consequences” of the conflict".
Exhibits will range from the first piece of wreckage from USS Arizona, sunk at Pearl Harbour in 1944, to a section of Nazi concentration camp barracks and the birth certificate of Eva Clarke, who was born in a camp and survived captivity. There will be objects showing the role of Einsatzgruppen, the mobile execution units used in the Holocaust, the medal awarded to Erich von dem Bach-Zelewski for overseeing the killing of Jews in Riga and Minsk – and the headphones worn at Nuremberg by Hans Frank, head of the German government in occupied Poland, who was executed.
Diane Lees, Director General of Imperial War Museums comments: “The Second World War and the Holocaust will soon pass out of living memory, leaving us without the first-hand testimony of veterans, eyewitnesses and survivors. IWM’s new galleries, which have been nearly six years in the making, will preserve their stories and ensure that the world never forgets what they experienced. With a recent YouGov poll demonstrating that 93% believe the Second World War and the Holocaust are relevant to learn about today and 78% think that genocide is currently happening in the world, the opening of these galleries has never been more significant.”
Though entry to the galleries is free, visitors are advised to pre-book general museum admission tickets through its “website”: https://www.iwm.org.uk/visits/iwm-london.
Building where crusaders stayed now Venice hotel5 days ago
A building in Venice dating from 1272 and claimed to have hosted crusaders among its early guests has become a five star hotel. The Ca’ di Dio, which has just celebrated its official opening, is at the entrance to the Arsenale, setting for the city’s Biennale and a short walk from St Mark’s Square. It’s canal side entrance allows access by water taxi. It comprises 57 suites and nine rooms. Ten suites have views of the lagoon and the island of San Georgio Maggiore, while two have access to a large roof terrace also overlooking the San Marco Basin. There are two internal courtyards where guests may drink and dine, and a third containing a vegetable garden. The hotel also has a spa and wellness area. Though the property’s overall design is contemporary, frescoes have been preserved in public areas. It is part of VRetreats, currently with four luxury hotels – the others are in Rome and Taormina – but with plans to add another eight within three years.
Estonia: map and guide reflect fast changes6 days ago
Tallin’s well preserved medieval Old Town is sure to be luring repeat visitors. That in mind, “Visit Estonia”: https://www.visitestonia.com/en/ has produced a map showing more recent attractions. And for travellers also tempted to explore Estonia beyond its capital, Bradt has published the eighth updated edition of Neil Taylor’s comprehensive “guide”: https://www.bradtguides.com/destinations/europe/estonia/ to the country. The map draws attention to locations including Port Noblessner, a former submarine shipyard, which is now home to a contemporary art centre, restaurants and a brewery and Tellskivi Creative City near Tallinn’s Baltic railway station, a former industrial complex that has become what is described as “a bohemian area to shop, dine and socialise”.
Neil Taylor, recently made MBE for services to UK-Estonia relations, notes hnow much the country has changed since he first travelled there in 1992, just after the break up of the Soviet Union, “when towns were grey and I was often relieved to see green weeds as the only contrast in decaying concrete slabs”. He says the guide has kept pace with that set by its subject country, including new attractions such as the restored northv eastern castle of Narva “with its reopened bastions looking sternly across the border with Russia”, and smaller oddities such as a swing that carries visitors in and out of Latvia, and the Weighing Machine Museum in Mustvee.
Athens - new boutique hotel to open6 days ago
Athens is set to get a new boutique hotel. The city centre xendochio Milos, opposite the Old Parliament building, is a new venture from estiatoria Milos, the international Greek restaurant group founded by chef Costas Spiliadis, which focuses on fish. It follows that the company, which has a restaurant in London’s St James’s, will operate a branch in the hotel. Scheduled to open on Friday (15 October), it will have 43 rooms and suites, the latter with terraces and Jacuzzis overlooking Old Parliament Square and Lycabattus Hill.
Portugal drops arrival test requirement7 days ago
Portugal is no longer demanding UK tourists take a test when they arrive. However they must have an NHS COVID pass or an EU digital vaccination certificate showing full vaccination at least 14 days before travel or an EU certificate ro prove they have recovered from the disease at least eleven days and no more than 180 days earlier. Otherwise they must still show evidence of a privately organised negative lateral flow test within 48 ours of departure (or a PCR test) but should ensure it is on the EU’s common list of rapid antigen tests.
Skiing in UzbeKistan is part of new packages7 days ago
As a dinner party attention grabber, skiing in Uzbekistan would take some beating. It’s on offer from adventure tour operator Mountain Heaven for the first time this winter, either as a stand alone trip or combined with visits to resorts in Georgia or Iran – or both. In Uzbekistan customers will take to the slopes of the country’s leading new ski resort – Amirsoy in the Chingam Hills – and those of the smaller Beldersoy. The stand alone trip runs 7 – 16, February but skiing will take up only three days. The rest of the time is occupied by tours of Tashkent, Bukhara and Samarkand. From Samarkand, one of the world’s oldest cities, where customers will visit Ulugbek’s 15th century observatory, there will be a train journey back to Tashkent. The trip , orcosts £1850 per person (based on twin occupancy), including bed and breakfast accommodation, 8 dinners and 5 lunches, internal transport (road and train), professional guide, entrance to monuments, ski passes and mineral water. Flights, ski equipment, visa fee, guide tip and travel insurance are excluded. All the holidays also include exploration off the snow.
Sweden axes ban on UK visitors8 days ago
Fully vaccinated UK travellers will be able to visit Sweden again from today (11 October) after the Stockholm Government lifted its ban on all except those with special exemptions. They will need to present an NHS vaccination certificate in order to enter the country but will not be required to take a COVID test. At the time of writing it remained unclear when the UK Government would fulfil its promise to scrap Day 2 PCR tests for returning travellers, replacing then with cheaper lateral flow tests. Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has said the aim is to make the change in time for this month’s school half term break. It is expected travellers will need to send a photograph to prove a negative result.
Displacement and slavery - new US museums11 days ago
As the US prepares to welcome UK tourists again next month, news of two new museums – one with echoes of displacement, the other of enslavement. Off the beaten track in Oklahoma City, the First Americans Museum has just opened. It explores the history, cultures and contributions of the state’s 39 tribal nations. Covering more than 16,000 square metres, the complex stands on land previously inhabited by the Apache, Wichita, Tonkawa tribes and the Caddo Nation. In incorporates a theatre, gallery and restaurant. A 27 metre high replica mound, reflecting Oklahoma tribes descended from Mound Builder cultures, will be added soon. The earliest, dome shaped, mounds – dating from around 400AD – were built as burial chambers for important tribe members. Later they had flat tops on which temples or residences for chiefs were erected.
Next spring should see the opening of the International African American Museum, under development at Gadsden’s Wharf in Charleston, South Carolina – a city once at the heart of the slave trade. The wharf, originally built in 1767, is where over 40% of enslaved Africans arrived in America. Visiting families will be able to trace their genealogy. Themes will include connections across the African diaspora, the rise of African American culture and influence, the civil rights movement and the continuing struggle for equality and justice.
Red List reduced to just 7 countries12 days ago
From 4 am on 11 October, just 7 countries will remain on the red list, requiring quarantine in an approved hotel at the traveller’s own expense. These countries are: Colombia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Haiti, Panama, Peru and Venezuela.
All other destinations previously on the red list, including South Africa, Turkey and India, will now require fully vaccinated passengers and eligible under 18s returning to the UK from these countries and territories to just take a day two test. However, passengers who are not fully vaccinated with an authorised vaccine returning from a non-red destination must still take a pre-departure test, a day two and day eight test and complete 10 days self-isolation, although they have the option of Test to Release on day five.
The DFT confirmed it will also recognise the fully vaccinated status from 37 more countries and territories, including India, Turkey and Ghana, Shapps confirmed. This means they are treated in the same way as fully-vaccinated UK citizens.
An update is still awaited regarding the date when lateral flow Covid tests will be allowed in place of PCR tests on day two for arrivals.
Through a glass brightly new way to view Northern Lights12 days ago
New ways of viewing the Northern Lights continue to emerge. New, luxury glass roofed “igloo style” cabins are included in an “immersive six day experience” from Scandinavian specialist operator “Off the Map Travel”: https://www.offthemap.travel/stars-of-scandinavia/. Tours start in Tromsø , Norway and a search for the aurora by husky sled. Next day is in Kilpisjarvi, Finland, and the chance to watch the lights from a queen size bed. After snowmobiling to the point where Finnish, Norwegian and Swedish borders meet – and taking a tour by fat bike – it’s south to Rovaniemi to spend two nights in the second cabin, learn about reindeer and the Sami way of life and take a short sleigh ride. Prices start at £1795 a head based on two travelling together, including four star hotel accommodation in Tromso and mixed meal arrangements – but excluding flights.
Specialist tour firm Andante launches new Pakistan tours14 days ago
The site where Alexander the Great is thought to have overcome an Indian King’s army deploying archers and javelin throwers mounted on armoured elephants is part of two new tours of Pakistan planned for 2023 by Andante Travels. The battle took place in 326BC, on the east bank of the Hydaspes river in what is now Punjab Province. Two 12 day trips are on offer, in March and October. Both will be led by Both will be led by expert Guide Lecturer Dr Mehreen Chida-Razvi, a Research Associate in the Department of the History of Art & Archaeology at SOAS (School of Oriental and African Studies). Customers will also visit the site of the world’s largest necropolis at Makli. Richard Tarrant, Andante’s director of new product development and marketing said: " “With extraordinary Indus Valley Civilisation cities, battlefields of Alexander the Great, sublime Islamic mausolea and sprawling medieval necropolises, Pakistan is one of the most historically fascinating destinations in the world, yet rarely visited on special interest tours."
Black heritage tours launch in US14 days ago
A series of black cultural heritage tours is being launched in the US. They will focus on food, music, dance, art and little known aspects of black history and experience. Ranging from one to 14 days and covering up to three states, they have been introduced by the black owned Cultural Heritage for sale through tour operators. It is working with the not for profit National Blacks in Travel and Tourism Collaborative, whose founder, Stephanie Jones says “our tour itineraries expand beyond the civil rights trail and underground railroad to introduce new black businesses that provide cultural and heritage experiences in off the beaten path communities often not promoted to inbound travellers”. One example of the is a tour along the “Gullah Geechee corridor” from Charleston, South Carolina to Amelia Island and the Kingsley Plantation National Park in Florida. The Gulah Geechee people are noted for crafts such as basket weaving, which can be seen in the streets of Charleston, for example. And Gullah music has its roots in Africa, was taken to America by enslaved Africans and influenced genres from spirituals and gospel to hip hop and jazz.
Good Food Guide reveals top places to stay15 days ago
A pub serving organic food from surrounding fields, a Georgian townhouse turned b&b and a harbourside restaurant with rooms are among the ten annual César* award winners in the latest edition of the Good Hotel Guide (£20).
After a period of huge challenges for the hospitality industry Its inn of the year is the Royal Oak at Bishopstone on the Wiltshire downs. The pub is run by Helen Browning, who has been awarded an OBE for services to farming. The guide describes its 12 rooms as “irresistible” and notes that “everything from milk to meat is supplied from the surrounding fields and is splendidly wholesome”.
The b&b is Newbegin House in Beverley, Easy Yorkshire. Guests are greeted, the guide reports, with a tour of the walled garden and sherry, fresh milk and flowers in their bedrooms.
“Eclectic and intimate”, the restaurant with rooms – Locanda on the Weir at Porlock Weir in north Somerset – is the guide’s newcomer of the year. Dinner dishes could include Calabrian onion tatin, local 31-day aged chateaubriand, and “vibrant, fresh picked produce” from the kitchen garden.
Among the other winners, Welsh inn of the year is the Bell at Skenfrith, in Monmouthshire, a 17th century coaching inn “superbly restored” after the Rover Monnow burst its banks. It has eleven “elegant” rooms and there are “glorious river walks”. And small hotel of the year is Plantation House at Ermington in Devon, a Georgian house near the market town of Modbury, where chef patron Richard Hendey creates nightly changing menus with dishes with home grown and locally sourced ingredients in dishes such as “slow cooked duckling, caramelised St Clement’s jus and wild garlic dauphinoise”.
*The awards are named after hotel founder César Ritz.
Big Atlantic restart for Virgin18 days ago
Virgin Atlantic will start flying from Heathrow to San Francisco again tomorrow after an 18 month gap. It plans to resume operations from the airport to Orlando and Las Vegas in November. Also that month it will fly again from Manchester to the Florida there park capital and to New York. Following a significant jump in demand for travel to the Caribbean, Virgin is launching new services from London to St Vincent (starting on 13 October), the Bahamas (on 20 November) and St Lucia (on 18 December). The airline will restart services from Manchester to Islamabad on 8 October and to Atlanta in December. And on 5 December it will launch its first international service from Edinburgh with flights to Barbados.