Travel Rumblings

Trips to Malta, Cyprus, South Africa and Canada beat UK inflation

Research from M&S Money has revealed that Malta is the best inflation busting holiday destination in the Commonwealth. The cost of a week’s holiday on the Mediterranean island has risen by just £1 over the past year, making it an ideal destination for Brits wanting to see more of the Commonwealth in the Jubilee year.

However, the M&S Money research, which studied 10 of the most popular Commonwealth holiday destinations to reveal which offers the best value for money, showed that Cyprus is the most affordable Commonwealth destination for a week-long trip, costing £1,200 per person, closely followed by Malta at £1,231.

Malta

Kenya was the third cheapest of the Commonwealth destinations researched, costing £1,435 per person for a week. This is despite Kenya having the highest price rise on last year (up £196), as a result of inflation at 18.3 percent, but it also had the lowest local costs of £998.

The European Commonwealth destinations have seen the lowest overall price rises, for local costs and the cost of travel, due to favourable exchange rates with the euro. A trip to Malta has seen a 0.08 percent rise in costs over the past year and a week in Cyprus is just £15 more expensive, a difference of 1.23 percent, while Barbados in comparison has seen an increase of £155 or 8.19 percent, due to a less favourable exchange rate and higher inflation.

Those traveling to South Africa will find their travel money also stretches further this year as the exchange rate between sterling and rand is 6.12 percent more favourable than last year with the overall cost of a week-long trip (including flights) having risen by just 1.33 per cent.

However, with the average week-long trip to a Commonwealth destination having risen by £103 per person (5.90 percent), from £1,747 to £1,850, over the past twelve months, it’s important to research not just the cost of the holiday flights and accommodation but also look into local costs and exchange rates to see which destinations offer the best value for money on arrival.

Kenya

Significant increases in New Zealand and Singapore mean they are now the two most expensive destinations. A trip to Singapore now costs £2,663 for a week, a 6.94 percent (£185) rise on last year, while New Zealand is £2,206 for a week, an increase of 8.79 percent (£193.91). The research revealed Singapore has the highest accommodation costs, while New Zealand has the most expensive flights.

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Travel Rumblings

Volcanoes, earthquakes, and tsunamis can occur without warning in many popular holiday destinations. Here three experts share some tips on what to do should an unexpected natural disaster occur while you’re on your hols, exclusively with CD-Traveller readers

Earthquakes

Earthquakes occur when stress builds up at weak points deep in the earth’s crust, eventually, this stress is released with great energy generating earthquakes.

  • If you’re in a building, DON’T RUN! Running out a building can be more hazardous (especially in areas with loosely enforced building codes).
  • Stay calm, and follow the standard DROP COVER and HOLD procedure. DROP COVER and HOLD simply means DROP to the floor, take COVER under a desk, table or even a chair, then hang onto it so that the piece of furniture protects you from falling debris, HOLD this position until the ground shaking ceases and it’s safe to move. The idea is to protect yourself from falling fixtures (e.g. lights) and heavier pieces of furniture (e.g., bookshelves, heavy appliances). Stay away from windows, doors, and walls.
  • If you’re outdoors in a crowded public place, stay calm and move out into the open, away from power lines and buildings.
  • Again when you check in at your hotel, don’t be afraid to ask the hotel staff about earthquake evacuation procedures and earthquake preparedness tips.

Volcanoes

A volcano is an opening in the earth’s crust that from which magma erupts to the earth’s surface. Volcanic eruptions can often strike without warning, but in most cases, volcanoes announce their upcoming activity with some pre-cursory activity. Precursory activity ranges from swarms of small earthquakes to the occasional venting of steam from a volcanoes summit, and usually provides ample warning to stay away from a volcanic zone if you’re holidaying near an active volcano.

  • If you feel dozens of closely spaced, small, volcanic tremors or one-two- larger earthquakes and you’re near a volcano, stay calm and move away with all deliberate haste. Try to get to low-lying areas, upwind of the volcano, and away from valleys/rivers. Follow all official local authority advice regarding hazards associated with volcanic eruptions, e.g. mudflows, flash floods, earth tremors, ash fall.
  • Volcanic ash is not poisonous but can have an impact on your respiratory system, so if you are in area where there is ash fall, stay indoors and close all windows and doors until local authorities advise it’s safe to move outside.
  • Again, when you arrive at your destination, check local information sources (TV/radio/print media) to see if there are any reports of imminent volcanic activity. Your hotel staff should also be able to advise you about volcano eruption evacuation procedures and preparedness.

Tsunamis

Tsunamis are a series of giant waves usually caused by underwater disturbances such as earthquakes, landslides and volcanic eruptions. Tsunami waves can move extremely fast in the open ocean and crash into land with waves of 100 feet or higher. Once a major earthquake occurs, the first tsunami waves can reach the shore within a few minutes.

  • If you feel a severe ground shaking (or mild shaking that lasts 20 seconds or more), or hear an alarm, as soon as it’s safe to move, do so.
  • Don’t wait for a warning siren or signal, just move inland away from the coastal area.
  • Try to move to elevations of 50 feet or more, or approximately half a mile inland if the area is flat.
  • Experts suggest that if there is a multi-storey building (e.g. a hotel) nearby, then that can be a good place to seek shelter. If you move fast, you should survive!
  • Walking is better than jumping in a car and driving off because you can keep moving even if traffic jams develop. How fast a tsunami reaches you all depends on where you are. Tsunami waves travel faster in shallow waters, so at the edges of major continents or continental islands (e.g. Japan and Indonesia) you will have at least 25 minutes before the waves arrive. However, if you’re on a volcanic island (e.g. Hawaii) where there is deep ocean offshore a tsunami wave can arrive in as little as six minutes!

What exactly does a tsunami warning sound like?

  • Local authorities are usually responsible for all tsunami warnings so warnings can be sporadic and highly variable. Some places have sirens; other areas ring church bells, some places simply have someone riding a bike along a beach using a megaphone to warn people! Sirens are actually unusual except in developed areas.
  • Hawaii and Japan have sires almost everywhere in coastal regions, but in other countries such as Thailand, Indonesia & Western USA sirens only exist in scattered locations. The sirens themselves are also all different: Hawaii’s sirens have a wailing tone while Japan’s issue a verbal message. If you hear a siren or another alarm that sounds out of place, ask a local to confirm or check local TV/radio.

What else can I do?

  • If an alarm sounds and you’ve moved inland, the next best thing would be to consult someone in authority for further information as to how to proceed. If it’s possible you can also seek information from local TV/radio sources. If authorities require you to evacuate an area, leave promptly. Many tourist destinations also have tsunami evacuation routes posted on billboards or on information cards in hotel rooms, it’s always worth checking these when you arrive at your destination. When you check in at your hotel, don’t be afraid to ask the hotel staff about evacuation procedures and warning sirens.
  • Prior to traveling, you can also check online sources for further information and also to decide which (if any) may be worth checking during the event.

ABOUT THE AUTHORS

Dr Kiri Sharma has over 10 year’s academic research experience in Geoscience, specializing in volcanology and igneous petrology. She completed her PhD in volcanology in 2006. Kirti graduated from Manchester University with a BSc in Geology, the University of Hawaii with an MS in Geology and Volcanology and subsequently gained her PhD in Volcanology from the Open University. Kirti’s doctoral research was a seminal work on volcanic degassing and volcanology of two major European historic eruptions.

Dr Fryer is a geophysicist with the Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre (PTWC) where he currently works on developing tsunami warning systems. He is also an associate geophysicist at the University of Hawaii.

Cathrene Rowell Having earned a BA in European Business with French from Nottingham Trent University, an intensive Diplôme in Export Area Management (EPTCE) from Group IMEA, Besancon (France) and a certificate in the Principles of Marketing Research from the University of Georgia, Cathrene is now following her passion for geosciences and is currently studying for a BSc at the Open University and is hoping to extend her studies and attain a doctorate in geosciences. Cathrene is a Candidate Fellow at The Geological Society.

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Featured, Travel Rumblings

Last month we revealed how Dutch airline, KLM, and Malaysian airlines are testing a new programme that allows passengers to pick their in-flight neighbors by evaluating Facebook and LinkedIn profiles before take-off!

The CD-Traveller team believe that the ‘social seating’ software (dubbed in-flight dating) is a super idea! We love the thought of sitting next to someone with whom we share similar interests. However it seems that most of our countrymen take the opposite stance. 57 per cent of those polled by HolidayExtras.com announced they are are against airlines using social media for passengers to share information before their flight. A wary 38 percent of those polled thought it “a completely scary idea”, and a further 19 per cent were concerned that it could be dangerous. Sixty-four per cent of women compared to 51 per cent of men had safety worries about the new technology.

Only 12 per cent agreed with the CD-Traveller team that social seating could provide the dream travel scenario – whether romantic interest or a way of avoiding “passengers from hell”.  And, perhaps unsurprisingly, men were more taken with the online dating possibilities (four percent) than women (one per cent).

The poll results also revealed that 13 per cent of people would consider opting in to the service if they could have total control, with eighteen per cent of HolidayExtras.com customers not bothered either way.

Eight hundred and four-five million people around the world have a Facebook page and 150 million are on the professional networking site, LinkedIn but as Anthony Clarke Cowell, associate merchandising director at HolidayExtras.com, put it: “Social seating could be a step too far for British travelers.”

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Travel Rumblings

If you fly and have to change planes in a country and then fly out of it, you usually go into a transit lounge. You don’t need to go through border controls or customs. But you do if you transit in the US and what a hassle it can be.
Some readers will know I have been in Mexico. In Puerta Vallarta on the Pacific coast to be precise, a destination with long sandy beaches and good hotels but not an easy place to get to from the UK. I had to fly via Miami on the way out and New York on the way back. As both are very busy airports, they aren’t the fastest ones to get through. I have no complaints with the staff as all the booths were open.

My moan is against the country

Why, unlike so many others, does it have to make you go through the controls and get an entry stamp to the country, reclaim your baggage, hand over a customs form, re-check your luggage and go through security again to get your connecting flight?

It means the border agency staff have unnecessary work to do which adds to the queues making people more annoyed because of the time it takes. On Saturday night it took me an hour and twenty minutes to get through the entry procedures at New York’s JFK airport. Standing in line for that length of time didn’t do much for the temperament of the young children in the line let alone the adults. And as for the elderly; some of them looked ready for collapse.

The passport shuffle took so long that people were pleading with officials to go onto the diplomats line (almost empty) in order to catch their connecting flights. I’m still not sure if two people switching to a Paris flight made it. I had three hours to switch. I just made the flight as they started calling my part of the group to board.

Three hours shouldn’t be required to switch flights at any airport regardless of how busy it is. But the Americans have a simple answer. Set up up a transit lounge system. But although this has been suggested it still hasn’t happened.

Why?
Until it comes to pass, avoid transiting in the US like the plague. It will annoy you, tire you and make you worry as the clock ticks away. And if you have young children it must be purgatory. Plan your holiday or trip better and avoid the US unless you’re traveling there. You’ll enjoy your break away a helluva lot more.

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Travel Rumblings

A few weeks back the government launched Britain’s first domestic advertising campaign – at the cost of £4million – which saw Stephen Fry and friends wax lyrical about the UK.

Their message? Holiday at home in 2012 or as Rupert Grint remarks: “Why go all the way to Bondi when you can come to Bridlington?”

While I can’t help but think that the Harry Potter star is bigging up Bridlington just a tad too much, I agree that the UK shouldn’t be overlooked as a holiday destination. It is worrying that an alarming number of Brits know the inside of Benidorm airport better than they know Bridlington.

Here at CD-Traveller towers, we felt confident that the campaign – backed by a website (great2012offer.com) offering deals off 20.12 percent (see what they did there?) – would help change this.

Having wasted hours over the weekend searching for these so-called deals, we’re no longer feeling quite so certain. There are deals to be had, true, but they come wrapped in terms and conditions. For instance, families will lose out as offers over the school holidays are few and far between (the likes of Lords of the Manor in Julie Waters’s coveted Cotswolds are only offering 20.12 percent off the bill until July 27). Meanwhile, many of the properties impose a minimum stay.

In the TV ad, Rupert says that Anglesey “isn’t just for Wills and Kate” but the restrictive terms and conditions mean that it might not be for you either. At the end of the day, the sad truth is that it remains easier to score a bargain with the big tour operators, Expedia and et al. Check with your travel agent.

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Travel Rumblings

I was going to write a good old moan. This time, my moan was about the way that Visit Britain was not promoting our countries. I was in New York for the New York Times Travel Show because it is always interesting to see how others view your countries. They see things that sometimes we overlook.
But there was only one solitary stand representing the UK and that was from Bath. Now Bath has a great deal that it can offer, more than many places but Britain has so much more. But where was Visit Britain? Where were other UK destinations? I felt a rant coming on.

And then I was handed a copy of the magazine from the Sunday edition of the New York Times. Most of it was given over entirely to London apart from the regular columnists. Even some of the letters talked of the UK, – well Downton Abbey which went down very well with TV watchers. And everybody was being given a copy of the magazine. And I checked. Every copy I picked up, wherever I was that day from Staten Island to Queens had the magazine inserted with the rest of the two-inch thick paper.

It’s quite fascinating how they portray us. Adam Davidson called his article, “Just like Wall Street…Only Richer” because as he points out, London is the biggest international financial center in the world. His map of the northern hemisphere with New York surrounded by areas he calls things like “thicket of tough rules,” “litigious hordes” and “tariff rock” contrasts with London adjacent to “Bay of Better Banking” and Sea of Simple Systems.”

It would be hard to write a story about London without mentioning the theatre. It’s at the heart of London says the piece which really just has photos of people like Judi Dench and Patrick Stewart.

But what’s missing is the queen. No story, little reference to her (but The Only Way Is Essex gets a mention) and the only royal story is whether Kate is pregnant and what the name might be- Fergie is 250:1! Perhaps the New York Times has forgotten that we have a diamond jubilee for only the second time in 1,500 years.
Craig Taylor’s calls his piece, “True Londoners Are Extinct” and his argument is that a third of London’s population has ancestry firmly rooted overseas. Whilst the images beamed from the Olympics might be of tradition and pomp, London is cosmopolitan. Wasn’t it ever thus? We’re a mongrel race of Angles, Celts, Normans, and dozens of other nationals who have settled here in the last couple of thousand years. But I did like the definition of a Londoner that he got from someone. “A real Londoner,” Taylor was told, “would never, ever eat at one of those bloody Angus bloody Steakhouses in the West End.”

But maybe the most interesting piece is a two-page spread called “Why are they always apologizing” which claims to answer questions about us. For example, it describes the London in July and August when overseas tourists descend on London as “like a cranky father compelled to host a party for his teenage daughter –awkward, uncomfortable and simmering with barely contained fury at the ghastly, noisy interlopers who insist on having a good time.” Are we like this?

Visit Britain may not like the last article by China Mieville which talks about last year’s riots, diversity and whether the legacy of the Olympics will be good for London. It is slightly despairing and reaches no conclusion but Visit Britain will be hoping no-one reads every article.
But Visit Britain is certainly getting the word about London around.

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Travel Rumblings

Which islands to visit? What kind of ship to choose? Douglas Ward, author of the Insight Guide to Caribbean Cruises (£17.99; www.insightguides.com), rounds up who goes where and what’s on offer to help you decide what suits you best

So meteoric has been the growth of cruising that ships are now as varied as hotels and resorts on land, catering for travelers of every age, taste, and budget. Some ships are like floating country houses, with substantial libraries, wood-paneled bars, elegant lounges and intimate restaurants; others are big, glitzy ocean-going resorts, with state-of-the-art spas, sparkly nightclubs, themed restaurants and spectacular show lounges.

You can learn the ropes and sleep beneath the stars on a sailing ship, or pretend you are a millionaire for a week or two on an intimate luxury yacht. And the good news is that ships of all types spend all or part of the year exploring the Caribbean, which is the true heartland of the cruise business – as you will soon realize if you stroll along the Miami harbor-front and see the skyscraper-high ships lined up at the piers.

Why choose the Caribbean?

The Caribbean islands are synonymous with sun and fun; even the occasional shower seems little more than a burst of liquid sunshine. With soft-as-talc beaches, hospitable people, a laid-back lifestyle and wonderful shopping, the calypso islands are the places to chill out, soak up the sun, swim, snorkel and forget the pressures of everyday life.

But they offer far more than that: you’ll also find lavish plantations, gorgeous scenery, a rich history, varied local cuisine and plenty of things to do – from undersea exploration in a submarine to enjoying a world-class round of golf, discovering the secrets of a rainforest, learning how rum is made or going on a deep-sea fishing expedition.

Some people prefer to stay longer on one particular island and get under its skin, but many travelers find this restricting, and that is where cruising comes into its own.

A typical seven-night cruise from Miami or Fort Lauderdale will visit four islands – and seven day itineraries can be combined with island stays or with a different cruise to create a 14-night ‘back to back’ cruise offering a real insight into the region, and a chance to sample the unique personalities of many different islands. This makes for a good introduction if you’re planning a holiday on land at a later date but are unsure which island you would prefer.

Many big-ship lines also own or lease private islands or sections of beach where visitors can play Robinson Crusoe, enjoy a barbecue and take part in a variety of water sports.

Floating resort or private yacht?

In the 1980s the cruise lines designed a generation of big ships as ‘floating resorts’, with a range of facilities from vast casinos to multiple restaurants and health spas, akin to those of the all-inclusive resorts ashore. While this concept has continued to grow, to the extent that Caribbean regulars, ironically, may not even go ashore during their week’s cruise, so distracted are they by the ship, it isn’t the only style of cruising available in this region. There are small, luxurious ships that call at the harbours favoured by the yachting set – Virgin Gorda, St-Barths and St-Martin’s Marigot Bay; while mid-sized ships, on which the emphasis is on the destinations as much as what’s on board, may roam the southern Caribbean, skimming the coast of South America or venturing down to the Amazon.

Some ships operate under sail. Some are aimed at older passengers wanting a quiet life on board, while others target the party set.

Life on board a big ship

The leviathans are more like miniature cities than traditional cruise ships. With – literally – acres of space on board, they offer around-the-clock action and plenty of nightlife. Pulsating discos vie for attention with intimate piano bars. You can prepare for dinner with a visit to a champagne bar, and round it off with coffee at a cappuccino cafe and a spectacular show. You can opt for a casual meal in a pizza parlor or enjoy an evening pint at an English-style pub.

During the day you can swim, jog, visit the golf driving range, work out in the gym with a personal trainer, or have a game of deck tennis or basketball on a full-scale court. If you prefer, indulge yourself at a health spa with a massage or wallow in a thalassotherapy bath. Enthusiastic shoppers will be pleased to know that the outlets on board sell everything from sunblock to designer gowns.

Best of all – if you’re traveling with children – these ships offer extensive facilities for kids, with all-day supervision and activities geared to different age groups, so you can let your hair down secure in the knowledge that your children are happy and safely occupied. The big ships have a wide range of accommodation, from small, inside (windowless) single cabins to spacious suites with jacuzzis and roomy balconies. Cabins, whatever their size, are furnished to a high standard and each will have an ensuite bathroom (with a shower in the lower-grade accommodation, and shower plus bathtub in higher grades) and a color TV.

Meals, by and large, are of three- to four-star restaurant standard rather than haute cuisine but the food is varied, and, as a rule, it is nicely presented and plentiful. Those so inclined can eat and drink all day, starting with early-bird coffee at 6 am and ending with a midnight snack at a 24-hour cafe. Many modern ships have made room for specialty restaurants where – usually for a surcharge of between US$10 and US$35 – passengers can celebrate a special occasion, indulge their gourmet tastes, sample recipes prepared by a celebrity chef or simply take a break from the main dining rooms and try something different.

For more on choosing a Caribbean cruise, invest in Insight Guides Caribbean Cruises (£17.99; www.insightguides.com).  This article is taken from Insight Guides Caribbean Cruises and is used with permission.  Copyright (c) Apa Publications (UK) Ltd.

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Travel Rumblings

CD-Traveller tells you what’s hot and what’s not in the travel world. This month Croydon and coach tours of the M25 are proving (inexplicably?!) popular

Hot

Croydon

We kid you not. Croydon – one of the areas worst hit during last year’s London riots – has become an unlikely tourism hotspot. Croydon Tours have launched a £8 per person day trip that takes travelers to famous spots from Peep Show (the Croydon-based sitcom) and ends, erm, a multi-story car park.

West is best

Research by Fly.com reveals that west is best when it comes to flight prices. For instance in Spain, flights to Barcelona have risen by 18 percent while those in Murcia have increased by 30 percent. Meanwhile, flights to Sharm el Sheikh in Egypt are up 21 percent. Conversely, flights to destinations in the west – step forward Rio and Miami – are cheaper in 2012 than there was last year.

Holiday romances

A new survey by sunshine.co.uk has revealed that half of the 2,000 18-25 years polled had enjoyed a holiday romance. But a word of caution: hooking up with randoms rarely ends happily. Case in point? Two-thirds of the travelers questioned, revealed they regretted their holiday flings.

InterContinental Hotels

The world’s biggest hotel operator, InterContinental Hotels, beat city forecasts for its 2011 profits and, unsurprisingly, chief executive Richard Solomans is excited about the year ahead. “In spite of the considerable uncertainty in the eurozone, IHG is well positioned to globally benefit from positive, long-term industry trends, and, in particular, growing demand in emerging markets,” said Solomans.

Carry on cruising

In the wake of the Costa Concordia tragedy, a confederation of the world’s leading cruise lines has decreed that muster drills must be carried out on each and every ship before it sets sail. Current rules require lifeboat and evacuation drills be carried out within 24 hours of sailing.

Coach tours of the M25

Brighton and Hove Bus and Coach Company has added extra dates to its £15 coach tour of the 117 mile M25 due to “huge demand.” Here at CD-Traveller towers, we can’t imagine anything worse than spending fours sitting on the M25 but clearly the opportunity to see sights such as Heathrow Airport’s Terminal Five, Epping Forest, Lakeside Shopping Centre in Essex and the Dartford River Crossing bridge has some appeal after all.

Aberdeen

Scotland’s third largest metropolis – aka the granite city – has been rated the fifth most ‘unsung’ destination in the world by travel experts, Lonely Planet. “ Aberdeen has long been an unsung hero in Scotland and has history to rival Edinburgh. For years it was favored by the Scottish kings and there is so much on offer in Aberdeen,” says author Abigail Blasi.

Swimming in the Seychelles

The Seychelles swimming ban has finally been lifted six months after a British honeymooner and a French tourist was killed in two separate shark attacks – the first in the Seychelles in nearly 50 years. Specially-trained lifeguards have now been introduced to the Anse Lazio beach (frequently voted one of the best in the world), following consultation with experts from South Africa.

Not

Malé

Tour operators say that the Maldives are still safe but the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) advises against all but essential travel to Male. The capital has witnessed a spate of violent clashes in recent weeks following the coup that toppled President Mohamed Nasheed.

Taking children on holiday during term time

The coalition is considering fining parents who take their children on holiday during term-time in an attempt to improve school attendance rates. It is estimated that 4.5million days of school are missed each year, because of pupils going on holidays.

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Travel Rumblings

CD-Traveller tells you what’s hot and what’s not in the travel world. This month, Spain and skiing holidays both get a big thumbs up, but readers are advised to think twice before booking a bungee jump in Zambia or getting a tattoo in Bali

What’s hot

Spain
Forget forking out a fortune to fly to Australia or the Caribbean and make for Spain instead. Temperatures might not match those of Barbados or Brisbane but Spain represents better value for money: Post Office Travel Money has revealed that a trolley of typical holiday items (sun lotion and the like) cost just under £38 on Spain’s Costa del Sol – almost £90 cheaper than the same items cost in Barbados and Brisbane.

Wearing a bikini in Egypt

Women visiting Egypt, who prefer to top up the tan in a bikini rather than an all one swimsuit, can pack their two pieces. Egypt’s new government has said that tourism “will not be subjected to any changes as long as we are represented in parliament. Bikinis and alcohol all round then.

Skiing rules
British holidaymakers are hoping to see ski resorts introduce breath tests and penalty points in an attempt to curb reckless skiers, according to a survey by insurer More Than. Nearly one in three Brits are concerned about speed skiing, saying that they had been hit and/or injured by somebody skiing too fast. Meanwhile, more than four in ten Britons want helmets made compulsory.

Skiing in Switzerland

On the subject of skiing, Swiss ski resorts are slashing prices this season by up to 33 percent – in a bid to boost visitor numbers. Case in point? Crans-Montana is offering 33 percent off accommodation, ski hire passes and tuition up until February 11 and then again from March 10-April 6. For the full low-down, see our story

Enjoying a hot air balloon flight over Uluru
Australian adventure tour operator, Outback Ballooning, will start offering hot air balloon flight over Uluru next month. Negotiations for the 30-minute flights, which are priced at £300 per person, have taken two years.

Digital detoxing
Hands up if you spend too much time on your phone and/or laptop. That’s a lot of hands… which is why luxury operator, Black Tomato (www.blacktomato.com), is launching a digital detox in 2012. The week-long trip to a dreamy Caribbean destination, St Vincent, and the Grenadines, takes in two private resorts and all technology is banned. Sign us up now…

What’s not

The cost of London hotel rooms
Looking for somewhere to lay your head in London during the Olympic Games? Be prepared to pay… Research into 60 London hotels conducted by Tessa Jowell, the shadow Olympics secretary, reveals that, on average, the cost of hotel rooms in London will quadruple during the Olympic Games.

Being a Concordia passenger

CD-Traveller readers booked to travel on the ill-fated Concordia should look away now. The cruise line has said that it will not refund airfares for holidays canceled as a consequence of the ship capsizing. In a statement, the cruise line (which has no legal obligation to reimburse the customer for their losses) said: “For guests who choose to cancel their cruise, Costa will offer a refund plus a 30 percent future cruise credit. No compensation for airfares will be provided if they are cruise-only passengers. Passengers should contact their airline and their travel protection provider.”

Bungee jumping in Zambia
Tour operator Shearwater has suspended a bungee jump after an accident which saw 22-year-old backpacker Erin Langworthy plummet into the Zambezi when her rope snapped 40ft above the water. Shearwater has said that it doesn’t know when the bungee would be open for business again – despite the Zambian tourism minister taking the plunge himself to reassure tourists that the 365ft jump is now safe.

Getting a tattoo in Bali

Travellers to Bali might want to refrain from visiting a tattoo parlor. Australian health authorities have said that a tourist contracted HIV from an infected needle on the Indonesian island. The number of new cases of HIV in Bali last year was up 19 percent from 2010.

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Travel Destinations, Travel Rumblings

Last year, the severe weather took its toll on the coastal area around Colwyn Bay in North Wales. This popular holiday seaside destination needs to shore up its coastal protection so it has announced a £8 million improvement project to safeguard homes and the prom. New defenses will also provide a breakwater and a new beach for visitors and residents alike to enjoy. Apparently, the old coastal defenses are over 100 years old so some improvements are justified. This week, the plans will be available for the public to see, consider and comment on.

The opportunity to have a new beach and create a tourist attraction doesn’t come up very often so the comment by a local councilor, Mike Priestly, as reported by the BBC that it would be great to see donkeys on the beach as well as at Llandudno seems a little short on creative thinking. What Colwyn Bay wants is something not freely available on the North Wales coastline; – something so different that it would attract visitors from far and wide. I’m not saying that donkeys may not be welcome but if they are available only a few miles away, to have them so close might affect visitor numbers at both towns. After all, if the kids have ridden them on one beach will they want to go to another beach and do the same thing? Destinations should compete for our business not copy each other.

There is a slight fly in the ointment in that the borough council still needs to get the money from the Welsh Assembly. On the assumption that it can get it what could Colwyn Bay introduce on its beach to make it stand out from the crowd. Like Littlehampton which has a developed the postcard and marriage proposal bench and a line in modern beach architecture. How about, for example, the North Wales coastline complete with castles and bridges all made from sand but in miniature for people to visit and then a sand area for kids to construct their own hillforts, castles and engineering feats? How about an annual competition during one of the school holidays with a prize that the winning construction will be added to the miniature coastline exhibit? Throw in a week’s holiday for the winning child’s family for the next year and you can have two bits of news coverage for the price of one. Does Colwyn Bay have a twin town? It doesn’t look like it but if it did it could create a week-long celebration of that twin complete with regional food and entertainment. And if it doesn’t, what about a competition amongst residents and North Walians to find one. Held on the new beach!
These ideas may not work but some adventurous rather than donkey thinking might attract more of us to visit Colwyn Bay, not just in the summer but throughout the year.

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