In the News this Week...

brought to you by News Editor, Roger Bray
  • Visitors to Florence could face paying a new hotel tax

    almost 10 years ago

    Visitors to Florence could face paying a new hotel tax as early as July. According to the European Tour Operators Association the city plans to levy a fee of  €1 per person, per star, per night. So two people taking a short break of three nights  in a 5 star property, say, would pay an extra €30. ETOA says the tax was proposed as a way of offsetting the removal of a charge for permits paid by coach operators who bring groups into Florence.

  • News 85

    2011 year marks a half century since the building of the Berlin Wall

    almost 10 years ago

    2011 year marks a half century since the building of the Berlin Wall. To mark the anniversary large black and white photographs will be placed along its former path, snapshots of the city as it was in 1961. They'll be on view from June 15, the date when Walter Ulbricht, the communist leader of East Germany, denied there was any plan to erect a wall,  until the end of August, the month when building began that same summer.

  • British Airways is launching new daily flights to San Diego

    almost 10 years ago

    British Airways is launching new daily flights to San Diego – its latest
    Californian holiday hotspot, from June 1st. As the only airline flying
    directly from Europe, the new route offers greater access to local markets
    for business, as well as a popular leisure destination.

  • News 83

    See Los Angeles, the city of car culture, by bike or on foot.

    almost 10 years ago

    See Los Angeles, the city of car culture, by bike or on foot. A local enthusiast-cum-entrepreneur, Danny Roman, is offering visitors the opportunity to do just that. After starting out modestly, running his eco-friendly business from his apartment, he has now opened a storefront in West Hollywood. His company, Bikes and Hikes LA (, offers a range of itineraries including a Beverly Hills and Bel Air celebrity home cycling tour. That lasts 3hrs and costs US$79, or about £50 ($67 for groups of 4 or more). More ambitious is LA in a Day, which involves biking and walking with a “power lunch”, covers 32 miles during 6hrs and costs $158 ($148 for 4 or more). For hiking purists there's a guided circuit in the Hollywood Hills at sunset.

  • Planning to drive in Portugal? You now need an electronic device

    almost 10 years ago

    Planning to drive in Portugal?  You now need an electronic device loaded with pre-payment on some sections of motorway. Temporary devices are available for €27 and top it up with  deposit of €10 payments which expire after 90 days. You can get it at motorway service areas or post offices. If you're renting a car, best check whether it is fitted with such a device already. Alternatively you could just avoid the following stretches:

    • Norte Litoral – A28: Auto-estrada do Litoral Norte (Littoral North-highway – between Porto and Vilar de Mouros/Caminha)'

    • Grande Porto – - A4: Porto/Amarante-highway (between Matosinhos and Águas Santas);  A41: Circular Regional exterior do Porto (Porto Regional Outer Circular); A42: Alfena-Lousada-highway

    • Centro – A17: Littoral Centre-highway (between Mira and Aveiro); A25: only on the sections between Esgueira and Angeja (Aveiro area);  A29: Auto-estrada da Costa de Prata (Costa de Prata highway between Estarreja and Vila Nova de Gaia).
  • News 82

    An innovative new vessel will be plying European rivers next year

    almost 10 years ago

    An innovative new vessel will be plying European rivers next year. Latest addition to the AmaWaterways fleet, the twin hull 164-passenger AmaCerto will cruise on the Rhine, Moselle, Danube and Main. She will have staterooms with two balconies, a heated swimming pool, whirlpools, a walking track and a giant chessboard. Passengers will be able to access the internet via wi-fi throughout the ship, which will also boast a fitness centre and sauna – and a massage hair and beauty salon. Seven night cruises start at £1591. That includes full board, all excursions, internet access, wines with dinner, evening entertainment, use of the ship’s fleet of bicycles to go sightseeing – and port charges. Flights are extra,(

  • Heading for Beijing? Air China is opening an arrivals lounge

    almost 10 years ago

    Heading for Beijing? Air China is opening an arrivals lounge at the airport where its passengers will be able to take a shower or get on line. It will be free for a trial period of two weeks from June 1. Initially, says the airline, first ans business class passengers will have priority. Later it will be available to “larger groups of passengers”. We're not clear exactly what this will mean. Reports from readers welcome.

  • News 79

    Liberate the boy racer in you in Ischgl this summer.

    almost 10 years ago

    The streets of the Austrian resort will be turned into a mini Monte Carlo on July 1 and 2 as go-kart drivers compete in the Austrian resort's fifth annual grand prix. Forty teams, each with up to eight members, will take part. Groups of individuals can enter. And though the organisers warn  that it will be “quite competitive”, no previous go-karting experience is required. The cost per team is €7,790 euros, which includes a racing outfit for each member to keep -and food and drink during the race days. Go to to register.

  • News 78

    Costa Rica is to get a new all inclusive resort.

    almost 10 years ago

    The Westin Resort and Spa at Playa Conchal will have thatched roof bungalows and “a lagoon style pool”. Transformation of the property, formerly known as the Paradisus Resort, is scheduled to be completed by the end of this year. This is a first toe in the all inclusive water for Westin's parent group, Starwood.  It comes as at least one major UK tour operator reports comparatively strong demand for this kind of holiday. The reason for this isn't hard to guess.  Travellers nervous about spending cuts like the reassurance of knowing exactly how much they'll be spending before they pack their bags.

  • News 77

    Why should travellers to the Caribbean pay higher air passenger duty than those to the US?

    almost 10 years ago

     Liberal peer Baroness Floella Benjamin has raised the question in the House of Lords. The Trinidad-born actress and writer says: “I believe that the APD banding system introduced in 2009 was not intended to damage Caribbean tourism, but the law of unintended consequences has come in to play and evidence suggests that it is having a negative impact on the most tourism dependent region of the world – the Caribbean.” A tourist heading for Jamaica in economy class, for example,  pays £75 while a traveller to Los Angeles, which is much further away, pas only £60. The reason is that rates are based on the distance of a country's capital city from London. ABTA (Association of British Travel Agents) says evidence from the Caribbean shows the high level of tax is damaging the region's economies.  Broness Benjamin says: “We must consider how government policy and proposed reforms to APD impact upon developing countries”. In March the Treasury said it would postpone changing from a per passenger to a per plane tax. The Government has set in motion a consultation on the way the duty works – due to close on June 17. 

  • News 66

    Prize-winning Silver Traveller makes tracks to Corfu

    almost 10 years ago

    When John Edwards, from St. Albans, Hertfordshire, signed up to become a member of Silver Travel Advisor  little did he suspect that his travels in Turkey would lead to a trip to Corfu later this year. John became a member of the site during April and he also posted a review of his recent holiday in Istanbul.

    John and his wife Rosalind (pictured here during a rail journey in India) were delighted to hear that the couple have won a week’s stay in a villa on the island in the website’s monthly prize draw, courtesy of luxury villa holiday company CV Villas .

    Commenting on his good fortune John Edwards said “I am delighted to have won a week in a Corfu villa with CV Villas, and Rosalind and I are really looking forward to our holiday on this beautiful island, that we haven't managed to visit in our 33 years together!. We will be sure to write a review about our holiday experience for Silver Travel Advisor; everyone should contribute reviews with such great prizes on offer."

    John’s name was pulled from the hat in our monthly prize draw among new members signing up in April. 

  • Monarch Airlines has scrapped its debit card payment fee

    almost 10 years ago

    Monarch Airlines has scrapped its debit card payment fee and is now charging passengers who book using credit cards a flat fee of £10. Group chief executive Conrad Clifford notes: “In these difficult economic times, there is absolutely no justification advertising one fare and then stinging consumers with hidden excess charges.”  The move reflects widespread irritation among consumers at high charges for paying with plastic – particularly when those charges pop up for the first time towards the end of the on lie booking process. Other airlines please copy.

  • News 74

    Jilly Goolden to host AmaWaterways’ wine themed river cruise

    almost 10 years ago

    AmaWaterways is offering UK guests a wine themed river cruise hosted by a British celebrity when British wine critic, journalist and television personality Jilly Goolden comes on board the cruise line’s luxurious AmaDolce for a Danube cruise from Vilshofen to Budapest on 14th November 2011. Jilly Goolden, known for her eccentric descriptions of wine that have included pear drops, liquorice and even rubber, presented BBC’s `Food & Drink’ show for 18 years. She went on to write a series of books on wine and food, and to appear in a number of TV shows, including the fifth series of `I’m a Celebrity – Get me out of here’.

    Ms. Goolden will be joining guests on AmaWaterways’ picturesque `Romantic Danube’ river cruise past rolling hillsides, vineyards and medieval castles, through Austria’s captivating Wachau Valley with highlights that include visits to Vienna and Budapest. While on board, she will present her knowledge of local wines, host wine tastings, accompany guests on a wine-themed shore excursion and mingle freely with passengers during meals and in the ship’s public areas.

    All presentations, wine tastings and excursions are complimentary to guests and are included in the 7 night cruise price, starting from £1376, which also includes all meals, free-flowing wine with dinner, free wi-fi and free use of on-board bicycles.

    Contact AMAWATERWAYS on freephone 0808 223 5009,

  • The UK Foreign Office (FCO) is warning travellers heading for Portugal

    almost 10 years ago

    The UK Foreign Office (FCO) is warning travellers heading for Portugal of the dangers of violent attacks in the Algarve region following the death of a British tourist in the resort of Albufeira. The British man died after being attacked, robbed and beaten by four youths, and this incident followed another attack last month on an Irish man in the same resort. In light of these attacks the FCO has updated its travel advice for Portugal to warn holidaymakers about street violence  in the southern Algarve region.


  • Thirsty Planet water sales bring water supplies to around 350,000 people in Africa

    almost 10 years ago

    Thomson Airways has announced that in just three years, sales of 'Thirsty Planet' bottled water have raised over £142,000 towards Pump Aid, the charity that aims to provide clean water for underprivileged communities.  In this time Pump Aid has built over 4,000 Elephant Pumps, bringing water supplies to at least an estimated 350,000 people in Sub-Saharan Africa.

    Thomson Airways first started working with 'Thirsty Planet' in November 2007 and have since sold millions of bottles of their water. For every bottle of 'Thirsty Planet' water sold onboard, five pence is donated directly to Pump Aid. This money is used to help people living in some of the poorest communities in Africa to gain access to clean water, funding the digging of wells and the installation of easy-to-maintain water pumps in more than 200 villages in Zimbabwe and Malawi.

  • Lufthansa and Austrian Airlines are revamping their hold baggage limits

    almost 10 years ago

    Lufthansa and Austrian Airlines are revamping their hold baggage limits on European and many long haul flights. Economy class passengers, for example, will be able to check in one bag weighing up to 23 kilograms. Currently they can take any number weighing a total of 20kg. The new allowances are already in force on some long haul routes, among them those across the North Atlantic. They will affect passengers buying tickets on or after June 1. Long haul routes on which they will now apply include those to Asia, the Middle East and, in Lufthansa's case, to some countries in Africa and South America.

  • News 71

    Political unrest in the Middle East has prompted Norwegian Cruise Line...

    almost 10 years ago

    Political unrest in the Middle East has prompted Norwegian Cruise Line to cut the number of sailings it will operate in the Eastern Mediterranean this winter. Customers booked to travel on the 2400-passenger Norwegian Jade between November 26 and April 11 have been offered the option of switching to similar itineraries with earlier or later departure dates or to any other cruise operated by NCL until the end of nest year. They include some British customers.

  • Overcoming fear of height seems to be this year's tourism theme

    almost 10 years ago

    Overcoming fear of height seems to be this year's tourism theme. Latest in a string of vertiginous new attractions is Edgewalk, about to open at Toronto's CNTower. Scheduled to open imminently, this is described as a “full circle hands free walk on a 5ft wide ledge around the building". 116 floors – or 1168ft – above the ground. Visitors will walk in groups of six to eight, attached by harness to an overhead safety rail. Those who dare will be able to lean back over the edge with nothing but air between them and the ground. Ticket sales will open next month.

  • Britons took 5% fewer holidays abroad in the year to the end of March

    almost 10 years ago

    Britons took 5% fewer holidays abroad in the year to the end of March, figures from the Office for National Statistics show. But if the economic crisis hit holidays it had less impact on family loyalties, with trips overseas to see friends or relatives down by only 2%. We also spent only 2% less, which could mean Brits are cutting out cheaper or second holidays or that the figures were skewed by higher expenditure on business travel.

  • Margate's renaissance continues, thanks in part to Tracey Emin

    almost 10 years ago

    Following the opening of the Turner Contemporary gallery the Walpole Bay Hotel in Cliftonville – traditionally regarded as the genteel end of the Kent resort – is offering to pick up guests from the station by Rolls Royce Silver Spirit. The ride costs £39. The Walpole Bay claims Tracey Emin, Margate's best known export, as a regular. Opened just before the First World War, it is in process of  restoration by its current owners. It has a caged lift installed in 1927 and a 1920s ballroom with a sprung maple floor.