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Sunday, August 12, 2012

The saddle saga: convulsing with cold in Kyrgyzstan

From the affecting low of our displacement from Uzbekistan, we were now adverse the concrete high-point of our campaign forth the Silk Alley - Kyrgyzstan's arty Pamir abundance range.

Before extensive the age-old city-limits of Kashgar, we would accept to cantankerous four abundance passes over 2900m during winter. Thoughts of avalanches, alarming active and barbaric dogs kept me alive at night.

We larboard the bound city-limits of Osh, departure from beneath the adumbration of Mount Suleiman in which it lies. The snow and ice covered the tree-lined streets and our bikes danced about beneath us as if they had minds of their own. Anon abundant we larboard the sounds of the city-limits abaft and were on the ascent.

My anxieties were anon adequate though. There were abounding arresting villages lining the Alay Valley, and we met abounding affable humans to breach with (quite clashing their pet dogs). The accouchement would hunt afterwards us, waving, acutely blessed admitting their acrid surroundings.

In a alternation of aciculate switchbacks, the alley began to snake up appear the 3600m Taldyk Pass. It was actuality that we had to dismount, our way was covered in ice and we were clumsy to anchor the surface. It was alone 3km to the canyon but it still took two hours afore we accomplished the top.

The coast down the apparent southern face was terrible. We were both dehydrated from the accomplishment of the ascend and convulsing with cold. The wind thrashed snow into our faces. The afterimage of wisps of it slithering beyond the bedrock would accept been beautiful, had we not been so cold.

Our next canyon out of Sary Tash, 50 afar from the Chinese border, was beneath of a ascend but ridges of snow and ice fabricated advance apathetic and treacherous. Husks of ashore trucks lined our way, reminding us of the absolute blackmail of getting squashed beneath a juggernaut clumsy to stop in time aloft the Teflon-like alley surface.

After giving our brakes a absolute conditioning on the slopes we assuredly fabricated it to the Chinese border. Actuality our expectations of an arty aggressive presence, CCTV and bouncer dogs were dashed. Instead of the People’s Liberation Army we were greeted by a tracksuit-wearing adolescence who ushered us forward.

Bemused, we pedalled to the community building. Inside, an English-speaking bouncer accustomed us to China and abreast us that, for our own safety, we would accept to yield a HGV to the boondocks of Wuqia (Ulugqat) area our passports would be stamped. Then we'd be chargeless to aeon anywhere in China (apart from Tibet, of course!)

The bikes were loaded, admitting our protests, into a HGV and Matt and I arranged into the cabs of two altered lorries.

Cyclists and HGVs accomplish at adverse ends of the alley food-chain. The HGVs boss the alley and cyclists just accept to accord with that, we are accustomed enemies. This was axiomatic from the chill atmosphere in my truck.

The driver, a beatnik anticipation by the debris accumulated top aloft the passenger's seat, resented my attendance and said nothing. I attempted to breach the ice with a scattering of Mandarin I'd accomplished but his connected adamant blackout assertive me that he did not apperceive the way to a auberge and I could not accept any noodles.

The drive was four hours forth some of the roughest anchorage yet. Not that this dissuaded our drivers from attempting to ability 60mph at every opportunity. Riding in the cab was like demography a circuit in a tumble dryer.

140 km after and we had our passports formed at Wuqia; apparently the world's longest bound crossing.

Wuqia is in Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Province, the better arena of China - about the aforementioned admeasurement as Iran. The citizenry is assorted but bedeviled by the Muslim Uyghurs and the Han, indigenous Chinese.

The Uyghurs allege a Turkic accent absolutely altered from Mandarin. They are discriminated adjoin in employment. As a aftereffect over 90 per cent accept to scrape a active from the barren acreage and relations amid the two are poor; alone two canicule afore our accession into Kashgar, 12 humans were murdered in indigenous riots just south of the city.

We begin Wuqia to be agnate to axial Asian towns we visited, except that the earlier Uyghur barrio stood alongside avant-garde Han appointment blocks. The government encourages clearing to these bound of their authority in adjustment to acclimatize the population.

As we began the abbreviate ride to Kashgar we wondered if the course of Han had active the Uyghur ability as the bank of the all-inclusive Taklamakan arid had active abounding above Silk Alley cities, or if there remained a trace of the appreciative humans or spirit of the Silk Road.

Friday, May 25, 2012

How tourism can help tackle poaching

I firmly believe that the one-off legal sale of 105,000 tons of ivory to the Far East in 2009 stimulated a demand that was previously not there. It had a catalytic effect from which the whole African continent is now suffering.
There has been such progress here in changing people's views about wildlife and conservation. In 1990, when the ivory ban was introduced, African communities were not beneficiaries of tourism, but in northern Kenya this has radically changed, through the work of the Northern Rangelands Trust (an umbrella organisation that helps more than 60,000 pastoral farmers in Kenya derive an income from their environment), Tusk and other groups, as well as a radical shift in government policy led by the Kenya Wildlife Service. In the past week the Kenyan government, following the escalation of poaching in northern Kenya, has brought in all the chiefs in the areas most heavily affected to discuss how to apprehend the perpetrators of the poaching within their communities. This would never have happened 20 years ago.
Tourism plays a huge role in persuading local people that there is a future in community-led conservation; there is now a series of lodges available to holidaymakers, run by local people, for local people, that are the equal of anything national parks can offer.
These communities now realise that when an elephant is killed, they are losing an asset. It is becoming, in effect, a neighbourhood-watch scheme: local communities are on the lookout and will challenge their brothers. If welfare, education and employment are being jeopardised by the outside killing of an animal, they won't let it happen.
Yet, despite all these efforts, poaching in northern Kenya last year was at its worst since NRT's records began in 2006. What angers me is not that it happens but why it happens. By and large, these poachers are not criminals, but opportunists. They are desperately poor; they see the enormous amount of money that can be obtained for horns and ivory on the black market, and they will risk anything to get it.
Demand is fuelled by an ill-informed desire in the Far East for ivory trinkets and a culture in which rhino horns are believed to have healing properties. That is a myth.
The current upsurge of elephant and rhino poaching is undermining new economic opportunities for communities, while eroding the national assets that form the backbone of Kenya's tourism-based economy. But this is now a global issue: everybody needs to fight this war; communities, conservationists and wildlife enthusiasts are not enough. It is senior politicians that need to get involved. It is a fight that simply cannot be won in the villages, hills and plains of Africa.

Friday, April 27, 2012

London 2012 Olympics: hotel rates in the capital expected to fall

More than 8,000 rooms were surrendered by LOCOG in January, prompting a 25 per cent fall in average rates, and a further 12,000 are to go back on the market, according to the online travel agency Expedia.
"A number of rooms have been released by LOCOG, so the average daily rate of a hotel room has been coming down," said Andy Washington, Expedia UK’s managing director. "It’s been around 8,000 since the start of the year but we expect another 12,000 to come soon."
He said the average price of a room in London during the two-week Olympic period is currently £208 per night, down from £280 at the start of the year.
"We have seen this rate drop by six per cent in the last two weeks alone," he added.
Even without the additional batch, there doesn’t appear to be any shortage of hotel rooms in the capital. The Expedia websites lists around 4,000 that are currently available for each day of the Olympics.
The cheapest hotel on offer through its website is The Euro Hotel, a one-star property in Harrow, where a room costs £45. The cheapest room in central London – found at the Generator Hostel, a two-star hostel in King's Cross – costs £84.
The four-star Presidential Apartments in Kensington, where a room during the Olympics costs £750 a night, is the most expensive hotel with availability.
Mr Washington also revealed that a large number of overseas visitors are shunning expensive flights into Heathrow and flying into Britain’s regional airports. Flight bookings into Manchester and Glasgow during the Olympic period have risen by 40 per cent compared with the same two weeks last year.
"There are better flight prices, and people are then travelling down by train,” he said.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Wah! Wah! Girls at the Peacock Theatre

 The world premiere of Wah! Wah! Girls, an exciting collaboration between Sadler's Wells, Theatre Royal Stratford East and Kneehigh, brings a vibrant new musical to the London stage.
British Bollywood shines in this colourful musical from acclaimed playwright Tanika Gupta and director Emma Rice.
Inspired by Mujra, a Mogul-era form of exotic dance that is still performed in India today, the Wah! Wah! Girls brings together an irresistible combination of British-Asian music and dance to tell a story about love against the odds in the East End.
Those inspired by the musical can take advantage of free post-show Bollywood classes for ticket-holders on Tuesdays 5, 12 and 19 June.
The Wah! Wah! Girls is part of the World Stages London Festival, a cross-cultural collaboration between leading playwrights and theatres in the capital.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

E4 Udderbelly Festival 2012

 Udderbelly returns to London's South Bank for a three month festival of stand-up comedy, cabaret, music and dance all staged in an inflatable purple cow.
Back in London with its biggest line-up ever, the E4 Udderbelly Festival brings the best UK and international acts to London.
Performances this year include Tim Minchin, The Boy With Tape on His Face and The Vocal Orchestra.
The 410-capacity Udderbelly tent – in the shape of an upside-down purple cow – sits on the banks of the Thames between the London Eye and Royal Festival Hall. Don't miss fantastic shows at this unique venue.
This year's Udderbelly shows range from comedy, to cabaret, to music, to physical theatre, to circus. Highlights include:
Tim Minchin – the headlining and closing act of this year's festival, Minchin will perform in front of just 400 lucky people. 8 JulAndi Osho – Mock The Week star and Edinburgh Comedy Award nominee, Osho dissects the perils and pitfalls of dating. 29 MayHavana Rumba – an unmissable night of Cuban dance and live music straight from Havana. 30 May-8 JuFriday Night Freakshow – a showcase of the most dark, hysterical and bizarre cabaret acts around. Over 18s only. 27 Apr, 11 May, 22 Jun
The Udderbelly Festival 2012 is part of the Southbank Centre's London Wonderground and Festival of the World programmes for summer 2012.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Disney on Ice: Princesses and Heroes at Wembley Arena

 Experience the magic of Disney on Ice at Wembley Arena.

See some of your favourite Disney moments recreated live on ice in Princesses and Heroes.

Enjoy magical scenes, each introduced by Tinker Bell the fairy, featuring eight Disney princesses including:

ArielBelleCinderellaRapunzelTianaJasmineAuroraSnow White

The show includes breath-taking acrobatics, beautiful skating and stunning moments from much-loved Disney classics.

Watch Sleeping Beauty's Prince Philip battle Maleficent as she turns into a fire-breathing dragon; cheer on Aladdin as he evades the palace guards; and go under the sea with Ariel and Prince Eric as they take on the evil Ursula.

Don't miss this fantastic family show.

English National Ballet presents My First Sleeping Beauty

Introduce your children to the magical world of ballet at English National Ballet's My First Sleeping Beauty.

This spring English National Ballet launches the My First… series of ballets for children, beginning with My First Sleeping Beauty.

Created by award-winning choreographer Matthew Hart and performed by third year students from the English National Ballet School, the show is designed with young attention spans in mind.

The dancers will wear the sumptuous costumes from the full adult production, but the story and choreography will be more approachable and fun.

Children are welcome to dress up as a ballerina, an evil fairy or a prince, and they're encouraged to boo, cheer, laugh and even try some ballet moves for themselves.

Tchaikovsky's musical score includes the tune made famous as Once upon a Dream in Disney's version of Sleeping Beauty.

The Duchess of Malfi at the Old Vic

 Eve Best stars in The Duchess of Malfi at the Old Vic this spring.

Eve Best returns to The Old Vic this March, in John Webster's great Jacobean tragedy, The Duchess of Malfi, directed by Jamie Lloyd.

Best most recently played Beatrice to critical acclaim in Shakespeare's Globe Theatre's 2011 production of Much Ado About Nothing. The British actress won an Olivier Award in 2006 for her performance as Hedda Gabler at the Almeida Theatre.

Her screen credits include the Duchess of Windsor in the Oscar-winning film The King's Speech and Dr Eleanor O'Hara in hit US TV drama Nurse Jackie.

Best last appeared at the Old Vic in London opposite Kevin Spacey in A Moon for the Misbegotten in the 2006/2007 season.

Webster's poetic masterpiece tells the dark and bloody story of a widowed Duchess who struggles to retain strength and dignity in the face of corruption and death.

Set in the Italian Renaissance court of Amalfi, The Duchess of Malfi is the story of a recently widowed Duchess who acts against the wishes of her brothers and secretly marries her lover. 

Her marriage inspires a wave of cruel vengeance. Jealousy, madness and bloodshed surround her, but she retains a calm strength and dignity to the end.

Yayoi Kusama

 Wander through Yayoi Kusama's immersive installations at Tate Modern in London.

One of Japan's best-known living artists, Yayoi Kusama's work spans more than six decades. This Tate Modern exhibition follows her career from early paintings of provincial Japan to the daring advances that followed.

Kusama is known for her immersive artworks, and the exhibition features a series of rooms covered in hallucinatory polka dots, mirrors and more.

Kusama was born in Matsumoto, Japan in 1929. She trained in traditional Japanese painting while also exploring the European and American avant-garde.

After moving to the United States in the late 1950s, Kusama forged her own direction in sculpture and installation, adopting techniques of montage and soft sculpture, which influenced artists including Andy Warhol.

In the 1960s Kusama moved from painting, sculpture and collage to installations, films and performances. In 1973 she returned to Japan, where she began a parallel career as a poet and novelist.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

A Midsummer Night's Dream at Regent's Park Open Air Theatre

Don't miss this new production of Shakespeare's glorious comedy, A Midsummer Night's Dream, in the perfect setting of Regent's Park Open Air Theatre.

Packed with humour, magic and fairies, Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream remains a firm favourite among theatregoers.

A quartet of lovelorn young people takes to the woods where they encounter a pair of quarrelsome fairies. A sprinkling of magic dust creates comic consequences, particularly when a troupe of travelling players, including the unfortunate Bottom, stumbles into the mix.

The leafy environs of Regent's Park make the perfect setting for this tale of romance among the trees.

For their new production of Shakespeare's enduring comedy, directors Timothy Sheader and Liam Steel will be sprinkling some of their own magic dust on the woods of Regent's Park. The pair previously collaborated on acclaimed productions of The Crucible and Into The Woods.

A Midsummer Night's Dream plays in repertoire with the musical Ragtime, also directed by Sheader and Steel.

Last year's hit production from the Open Air Theatre, Crazy For You, is currently on stage at the Novello Theatre in the West End.

Balletboyz: The Talent

The remarkable Balletboyz are back at Sadler's Wells in London.

Michael Nunn and William Trevitt formed Balletboyz in 2001. In 2011 they handpicked eight talented dancers from open auditions to star in an explosive feast of live dance.

Now Adam, Anthony, Ed, Leon, Luke, Matt, Miguel and Taylor are back, performing this mixed programme of three works which premiered in 2011.

The programme features:

Paul Roberts' haunting ensemble work AlphaRussell Maliphant's Torsion, a Balletboyz signature pieceThe return of Void, by Jarek Cemerek, who was selected by the boys to create this work for the company

To book Balletboyz tickets online, simply click the green Book Now button.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Barclaycard Wireless Festival 2012 at Hyde Park

See Rihanna, Jessie J, Calvin Harris and Labyrinth at this year's Wireless Festival in Hyde Park.

After her epic performances at The O2 last year, Rihanna returns to London to headline Wireless on Sunday. This is RiRi's only UK date in 2012, so don't miss it!

Also on Sunday's line up are Jessie J, Calvin Harris and Labyrinth.

The rest of the festival's line-up will be announced soon.

Wireless Festival is a great day out. There are multiple stages where you'll see big name acts as well as up-and-coming artists.

Add to that lots of food stalls and bars and you'll enjoy hours of musical fun in Hyde Park.

Wireless tickets are selling fast. Book now to ensure you don't miss out.

British Design 1948-2012: Innovation in the Modern Age at the V&A

In this Olympic year the Victoria & Albert Museum (V&A) celebrates the best of British art and design since London last held the Olympic Games, in 1948.

Delving into the V&A’s unrivalled collections, this exciting new exhibition highlights significant moments in the history of British post-war design.

British Design 1948-2012 brings together over 300 objects from the fields of fashion, ceramics, graphics, photography, sculpture, product design, architecture, furniture and fine art.

The exhibition is split into three sections:

The first explores the tension between modernity and tradition in three aspects of post-war British life: the city, the land and the home.

It then moves on to examine the explosion of counter-culture from the late 1950s onwards, including pop, 70s punk and the creation of "Cool Britannia" in the 1990s.

The final section demonstrates the innovation of British design, showing some of the iconic objects, technologies and buildings that have been created in Britain over the last 50 years.

Robin Day’s Polyprop chairA mural by John Piper from the Festival of BritainFine art by David Hockney and Henry MooreAn Alexander McQueen evening gownThe first E-type Jaguar car ever to be put on public displayA model of Zaha Hadid’s London Aquatics Centre in the London 2012 Olympic Park

Diamond Jubilee Carriage Procession at St Paul's Cathedral

Take to the streets to watch The Queen's Diamond Jubilee carriage procession to St Paul's Cathedral.

The Queen is the only monarch other than Queen Victoria to serve 60 years on the British throne. Londoners and visitors will celebrate this remarkable achievement during a four-day national holiday in June.

As Queen Victoria did before her, Queen Elizabeth II will formally commemorate her 60-year reign with a Thanksgiving Service at St Paul's Cathedral. Watch as The Queen and members of the Royal Family travel to St Paul's in a formal carriage procession along the streets of London. 

The procession will arrive at Sir Christopher Wren's famous London landmark, St Paul's Cathedral, which has a tradition of hosting important royal events. The Queen has celebrated her jubilees and her 80th birthday at the Cathedral. It has also hosted several royal weddings, including the marriage of HRH the Prince of Wales to Lady Diana Spencer in 1981.  

Hard Rock Calling 2012 at Hyde Park

Don't miss American legend Bruce Springsteen headlining this year's Hard Rock Calling festival at Hyde Park in London.

After successfully headlining Hard Rock Calling in 2009, Bruce Springsteen and The E Street Band return this summer as headline act for the Saturday of the festival.

Bruce Springsteen is the only confirmed act so far, with further line-up announcements soon.

In previous years, Hard Rock Calling has featured some heavyweight musicians and bands, including:

Paul McCartneyStevie WonderPearl JamRod Stewart

Tickets are on sale now for Bruce Springsteen and The E Street Band on Saturday 14 July. Book your Hard Rock Calling tickets securely by clicking on the green button above.

London Fashion Weekend

Following on from the prestigious London Fashion Week, London Fashion Weekend is a must for every dedicated follower of fashion.

Attention style sirens: this February's Vodafone London Fashion Weekend promises to be every fashionista's dream event! 

Following London Fashion Week, London Fashion Weekend is held at the glamorous Somerset House.

Come and experience a shopping mecca for the style-savvy, with some of Britain's hottest brands, hair and beauty labels and a range of cool pop-up bars and exclusive experiences. 

Make sure you're there to see the galleries of the spectacular neo-classical building transformed into an inspiring emporium of designer shopping, styling and beauty.

Some of Britain's finest new talent is on show at London Fashion Week, alongside iconic and established labels. Designers include: 

Jaegar LondonPringle of ScotlandLinda FarrowHolly FultonJames LongMaria Francesca PepaKat & BeeMelabelleLola Rose

Want to emulate the celebrity fashion pack? London Fashion Weekend offers an exclusive chance to experience a trend-setting catwalk show and take in the spring/summer 2012 trends in the British Fashion Council Show Space.

Other treats in store at Somerset House include:

The Vintage BoutiqueThe Cowshed Spa Toni & Guy Hair StylingLingerie Boutique by Rigby & PellerElizabeth Arden MakeoversThe Benefit Brow & Lash BarSomething for the boys!

Simply click the green Book Now button to purchase tickets to this exclusive event through Visit London's secure online booking partner. 

Luxury Camping at ZSL London Zoo

Spend a night in a luxury tent at London Zoo and wake up to the sounds of the animals with this very special package.

The gorgeous tents at London Zoo accommodate up to two people, and include comfy beds, a bedside table, and a reading lamp plus all your bedding, linen and towels are provided. This is camping with a luxurious difference!

During the evening, you'll enjoy mouth-watering food and fine wines while being entertained with exclusive animal and conservation talks, hosted by a wildlife expert. Each night will have a maximum of 20 guests.

You'll then be taken on a torch-lit tour around the zoo, to find out what goes on when everyone else has left for the night. It's surprising to see who's still awake and actually more active at night than during the day.

In the morning, you could be woken by a gibbon's call or the roar from a lion, before enjoying a full English breakfast!

Afterwards you'll be taken on a morning tour to watch the animals waking up. You can then spend the rest of the day exploring the zoo. The zoo will store your luggage safely until you are ready to leave.

Luxury camping at London Zoo is an experience that you'll remember forever... so book now! 

Mayor of London Presents: A Summer Like No Other

This summer, the Mayor of London presents A Summer Like No Other, a fantastic series of free outdoor events to celebrate the London 2012 Games.

London will host a huge outdoor arts festival to celebrate the London 2012 Games, with exciting free events taking place across the city.

"We will welcome the world with thrilling events in every corner of the capital to create a summer like no other," said Mayor of London Boris Johnson.

Local high streets, parks and outdoor spaces around London will come alive with amazing free performances by UK and international artists.

Expect the unexpected as hidden gems in various London boroughs are transformed with performances, soundscapes and more.

Look out for extraordinary pop-up events in Central London, which will surprise passers-by as leading artists and performers take to the streets.

Some of London's best young musicians will be chosen to busk on the London Underground and in spaces around London, culminating in a live final in the summer.

See the Olympic Flame as it passes through London with seven days of Torch Relays on the way to the Olympic Stadium for the start of the Games.

Watch the triumphant Team GB and Paralympics GB athletes parade through the centre of London as they say thank you to Great Britain and celebrate competing in the Games.

London will get a makeover this summer with London 2012 bunting, banners and more, bringing the colour of the Games to the city's streets.

The Olympic rings and Paralympic agitos will appear on London icons such as Tower Bridge, and there'll be special projections onto the capital's famous buildings.

Bridges along London's river Thames will light up with a dazzling display of colour during the evenings of the Olympic and Paralympic Games.

National Theatre Live

See major productions from London's National Theatre screened at a cinema near you, including the brilliant Comedy of Errors and She Stoops to Conquer.

Now in its third year, the National Theatre is screening highlights from its current season at cinemas across London, the UK and internationally.

Filmed and broadcast live, these fantastic screenings let you enjoy the wonder and excitement of award-winning National Theatre productions in some of London's most beautiful cinemas.

Starring Anthony Sher, Travelling Light is an amusing and absorbing tribute to Hollywood's golden age and the Eastern European immigrants who helped it shine.

Shakespeare's rambunctious comedy follows the confusion and hilarity when two sets of identical twins separated at birth collide in the same city. Starring Lenny Henry as Antipholus of Syracuse, Comedy of Errors has been a huge popular and critical success.

A celebration of chaos, courtship and dysfunctional families, Goldsmith's masterpiece is one of the great comedies of the English language. She Stoops to Conquer has a brilliant ensemble cast featuring Steve Pemberton and Coronation Street's Katherine Kelly.

Queen Elizabeth II by Cecil Beaton at the V&A

London's Victoria & Albert Museum (V&A) explores the back catalogue of Cecil Beaton, The Queen's favourite photographer for over 40 years.

As part of The Queen's Diamond Jubilee celebrations, the V&A shows highlights of Cecil Beaton's numerous photographs of the Royal Family.

For over 40 years from 1939, Beaton (1904-1980) was a favoured royal photographer, capturing some of the most personal images of Queen Elizabeth II ever seen. He was chosen to take the first pictures of Prince Charles as a baby, and covered The Queen’s coronation in 1953. This exciting exhibition allows a glimpse into The Queen’s public and private life.

See tender images of a young Princess Elizabeth with her sister and mother, and relaxing at home with her husband and young family. Contrast that with Beaton’s photos of the day she became Queen Elizabeth II, stately in her coronation robes.

The V&A exhibition also includes some of Beaton's rarely seen photographs, as well as his personal scrapbooks and diaries.

Ragtime The Musical at Regent's Park Open Air Theatre

The award-winning Regent's Park Open Air Theatre aims for another musical hit with its new production of modern classic, Ragtime.

Based on the 1975 novel by EL Doctorow, Ragtime is a powerful, tragic yet ultimately triumphant tale set at the turn of the 20th century. 

Ragtime centres on three American families separated by race and destiny: a well-to-do white family, an African American couple and an Eastern European father and daughter.

Terrence McNally's book, along with Stephen Flaherty's music and Lynn Ahrens' lyrics, poignantly highlight the enduring contradictions and disparities between these families: of wealth and poverty, freedom and prejudice.

The story of Ragtime features a number of historical figures, including escapologist Harry Houdini, automobile boss Henry Ford and political leader Booker T Washington.

This new production of Ragtime is in the safe hands of Timothy Sheader, Artistic Director of Regent's Park Open Air Theatre, and his regular collaborator Liam Steel

Sheader's previous productions of Into The Woods and Hello Dolly! won multiple Olivier Awards, while last year's musical at the venue, Crazy For You, transferred to the West End's Novello Theatre where it is currently playing. 

Ragtime plays in repertoire with A Midsummer Night's Dream, also directed by Sheader and Steel.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Royal River: Power, Pageantry and the Thames at the National Maritime Museum

Explore the Royal Family's relationship with London's greatest thoroughfare, the Thames, at the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich.

As well as being The Queen's Diamond Jubilee year, 2012 sees the 75th birthday of the National Maritime Museum. Royal River celebrates them both by exploring the relationship between British monarchs and the River Thames throughout history.

As long as London has existed, the Thames has been used by British royals to display their power, pomp and pageantry. Royal River exhibits over 350 paintings, manuscripts and rare objects which throw light on this history, some of them on loan from the Royal Collection.

Royal River is curated by one of Britain’s leading historians, David Starkey. His work includes several best-selling history books and television documentaries about Britain's famous monarchs. Starkey has curated two previous exhibitions at the National Maritime Museum.

Located in Greenwich Park, the venue for London 2012 equestrian and modern pentathlon events, the National Maritime Museum is perfectly placed to welcome Games visitors. Royal River remains open throughout the Olympic and Paralympic period.

The Big Egg Hunt presented by Fabergé

Search for designer eggs at Fabergé's record-breaking Easter egg hunt across London.

Russian jeweller Fabergé is organising the world's largest Easter egg hunt across London.

From 21 February, 200 fibreglass Easter eggs will appear throughout the capital.

Many have been created by famous designers such as Vivienne Westwood, Giles Deacon, Diane von Furstenburg and Zandra Rhodes.

You're invited to try and find the eggs before the Easter deadline on 8 April. Pick up a map or download an app and get searching!

After the end of the hunt, the eggs will be auctioned off with proceeds going to two charities: Action for Children and Elephant Family.

The Queen's Diamond Jubilee Beacons

A unique and traditional event celebrating The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee in London and around the world.

Not since Queen Victoria has a monarch spent 60 years on the British throne. To celebrate the remarkable achievement of Queen Elizabeth II, at least 2,012 beacons will be lit across Britain, the Commonwealth and around the world.

Beacon-lighting has a long tradition in Britain, and has been used to celebrate royal weddings, jubilees and coronations. Once a communication tool, a beacon chain has become a symbol of unity, connecting cities, towns and villages across the UK.

As with The Queen’s Silver and Golden Jubilees, a beacon-chain will once more be lit on the occasion of her Diamond Jubilee.

Her Majesty The Queen will light the final beacon at approximately 10.30pm in Central London, broadcast on live television.

World Record London: World Record Hug

 Watch huggers attempt to break the record for the world’s longest hug at St Pancras International station in London.

This Thursday, huggers at St Pancras International station will try to break the world record for the longest hug.

The couples will embrace for more than 24 hours in front of the romantic Meeting Place statue. The current record stands at 24 hours and 33 minutes.

The record attempt takes place two days before National Hugging Day on 21 January.

The hunt is now on for people to come along and keep the huggers entertained.

GBTA continues global expansion with launch of GBTA Brazil

Associations Industry veteran Wellington Costa appointed President of GBTA Brazil GBTA continues global expansion with launch of GBTA Brazil Thursday, January 05, 2012 The Global Business Travel Association (GBTA) is pleased to announce the launch of GBTA Brazil, which will expand the focus of business travel management through conferences and educational offerings in Brazil. GBTA Brazil will work closely with GBTA Latin America and focus on growth and development of the organization, supporting GBTA's ongoing commitment to globalization.

GBTA is proud to announce the appointment of Wellington Costa to the newly created position of President of GBTA Brazil. Costa currently serves as the regional director of TCG Consulting for Latin America where he is responsible for corporate travel management, procurement, training and education in Argentina, Brazil, and Mexico. He spent over 30 years as a travel manager working for Sedco Forex Drilling Company (Schlumberger), the U.S. Embassy and Telefonica. He also worked in the airline industry with Varig Brazilian Airlines and Pan American World Airlines and brings over 35 years of industry experience to his new role.

"GBTA is thrilled to be branching out further into Brazil with the leadership of Wellington Costa. We are certain that he will be instrumental in bringing the wide-range of benefits GBTA has to offer to members across Brazil and will extend the GBTA global footprint," said Luis Yglesias, GBTA's regional director for Latin America."We are pleased with the response to our expansion throughout Central and South America including the launch of volunteer organizations in Argentina, Costa Rica, Chile, Peru, Colombia, Panama and now Brazil. It's an exciting time for the association as we bring together more travel managers globally to share resources and know-how and elevate the profession of travel management."

"Spearheading this important effort is an honor for me. I believe in strength in numbers and uniting buyers around the world who share in the common goal of pushing progress forward. Careers will be enhanced and companies around the world will benefit as we take the profession to the next level," said Wellington Costa.

Emirates expands its South American horizons

Launch of Rio de Janeiro and Buenos Aires flightsEmirates expands its South American horizonsEmirates, one of the world’s fastest growing airlines, has extended its South American network by linking Dubai with Buenos Aires and Rio de Janeiro, further broadening the airline's reach across the Americas.
Emirates’ inaugural Flight 247 made its first landing at Galeao-Antonio Carlos Jobim International Airport in Rio de Janeiro, where it was initiated by a traditional water cannon salute.
The flight, operated by Argentine Captain Marcos Medina, then departed for its first onwards connection to Buenos Aires, where government and airport officials led by Enrique Meyer, the Argentinean Minister of Tourism, welcomed the Emirates VIP delegation headed by Thierry Antinori, Executive Vice President - Passenger Sales Worldwide.  

Other members of the VIP delegation aboard the flight included the Argentinean Ambassador to the UAE, Ruben E. Caro; UAE Ambassador Mohammed Eissa Al Zaabi; Mr Abdulla Ali Al Saboosi, Director, Department of American and Pacific Affairs, UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs; Adnan Kazim, Divisional Senior Vice President, Planning and Research and Nigel Page, Senior Vice President, Commercial Operations, the Americas.

This new linked service to two of the most economically vibrant cities in South America will not only boost trade ties with the UAE, but will also introduce travellers to Emirates' route network spanning points across the globe," said Thierry Antinori, Executive Vice President -  Passenger Sales Worldwide.

"Emirates will offer customers in Brazil and Argentina the most efficient and comfortable route to the Middle and Far East, including the airline's four destinations in China and two gateways in Japan, which are key trading partners for both countries," added Mr. Antinori. 

The Dubai-Rio de Janeiro-Buenos Aires flight is operated by a Boeing 777-300ER aircraft offering eight First Class Private Suites, 42 lie-flat beds in Business Class and 304 seats in Economy Class.

EK 247 leaves Dubai daily at 0710hrs and arrives at Rios Antonio Carlos Jobim International Airport at 1537hrs. It departs Rio at 1723hrs, arriving at Buenos Aires Ministro Pistarini International Airport (Ezeiza) at 1930hrs. From Buenos Aires, EK 248 departs at 2130hrs, arriving in Rio at 0123hrs the following day. The aircraft will depart Rio at 0310hours, arriving in Dubai at 2250hrs.
Emirates has a fleet of 168 aircraft and is the world's largest Airbus A380 and Boeing 777 operator. With an order for 50 new Boeing 777-300ER aircraft placed at the Dubai Airshow in November, Emirates now has 237 aircraft on order, worth over US$84 billion at list prices.
Emirates now flies to 118 destinations in 69 countries. Over the next two months, the airline will launch a further five destinations: Dublin, Lusaka, Harare, Seattle and Dallas.

Antzi Studios on Aegina Island undergo their extensive renovation

Hotels & Lodging The property was recently renovated including all existing room types Antzi Studios on Aegina Island undergo their extensive renovation Thursday, January 05, 2012 An ideal destination for weekends away from Athens throughout the year, the island of Aegina is known for its lively harbor, the charm of its inhabitants as well as its local cuisine. A mere 35 km from the port of Piraeus only adds to the island's allure.

Antzi Studios, located in the pretty fisherman village of Perdika, offer a range of accommodations for vacationers looking for a warm environment in a naturally beautiful setting, long walks on the beach as well as seafood and fish delicacies at the family's fish restaurant "Nontas". A fifteen minute drive from the Hora of Aegina, Perdika also offers vacationers many dining and bar options.

Initially built in 1992, Antzi studios has since been a work in progress, when in 2003, three new traditional stone buildings were added. In 2011, new renovations were completed including the new room type. The new suites boast 45m2 of open plan living on two levels. Accommodating up to three guests, the new suites feature two private balconies, gorgeous sea views and modern minimalist decoration. As with all the accommodations within the property, the new suites feature amenities such as refrigerators, cooking appliances, TV, air-conditioning, central heating and daily cleaning services. A photo shoot which took place in October 2011 fully showed off their luxurious air, serving to illustrate and promote the renovation itself.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Air China introduces airport self check-in at more foreign airports

 Aviation Air China’s self check-in at Osaka Kansai Air China introduces airport self check-in at more foreign airports Thursday, January 05, 2012 The carrier introduced self check-in at three additional airports outside Mainland China -Vancouver International Airport, Osaka Kansai International Airport and Nagoya International Airport- in December of 2011. The user-friendly system supports transfer to other Chinese cities via Beijing and offers five languages including Chinese (both Simplified and Traditional), English, Japanese, Korean and French. It allows passengers to select their preferred seat, accrue Air China kilometers and print boarding pass, sparing them the trouble of having to queue in front of the traditional check-in counters.

Air China’s self check-in at Osaka Kansai
The self check-in service is in compliance with the IATA industry standards and its introduction ties in well with the carrier's overall strategy to stay ahead of the competition in the field.

Availpro and Premier Hotels of the World announce extended partnership

Technology Availpro and Premier Hotels of the World will develop a unique Online Distribution Extranet Solution Availpro and Premier Hotels of the World announce extended partnership Thursday, January 05, 2012 Premier Hotels of the World and Availpro announce their extended Partnership. Availpro and Premier Hotels of the World work together to develop a unique Online Distribution Extranet Solution including Booking Engines (Web based, Mobile and Facebook), Smart Channel Manager, Rate Screener, and Guest Satisfaction tool to be included into the Premier Connect Suite that already includes a State of the Art cloud based PMS and POS system.

To achieve this Availpro has developed advanced technological solutions, building bridges between many different software platforms. Availpro significantly reduces the amount of time that a hotel usually needs to manage their online distribution activity, while at the same time increasing the number of bookings that they receive from their own website, as well as from third party sites. Availpro's advanced 2-way connectivity with more than a 100 distribution websites makes it an invaluable, efficient and profitable tool for hoteliers.

CEO of Premier Hotels of the World Mr. Martin Fabiano states: "We are excited to announce the partnership with Availpro, which will give our Member Hotels a distinct advantage over other Groups."

While the developed solution will be initially launched with the upcoming release of the Premier Hotels of the World Collection in 50 branded Member Hotels, Mr Fabiano adds " we are working on an extended Partnership with Availpro where we could offer our services as well to Availpro Partner Hotels, and will focus on implementing the Technology solution in all new Member Hotels that will join our Brand.

Delta Vacations now offering Air France Holidays and Alitalia Vacations

 Tour Operators New products give customers more vacation options in Europe along with great value Delta Vacations now offering Air France Holidays and Alitalia Vacations Thursday, January 05, 2012 Delta Vacations is pleased to announce that Air France Holidays and Alitalia Vacations are now available for purchase in the U.S. and Canada through the Delta Vacations brand.

Delta Vacations is partnering with Air France and Alitalia to market and sell their vacation brands to travelers across the U.S. and Canada within the company’s existing Delta Vacations Europe product line. This partnership offers a broad variety of Europe vacation options that include flights aboard Delta Air Lines, Air France and Alitalia. In addition, previous Air France Holidays and Alitalia Vacations customers will have access to more Europe vacation options and enjoy the value provided by Delta Vacations.

In honor of the new partnership, Delta Vacations is also launching a Europe sale giving travelers access to new lower fares, $100 in savings, and 5,000 extra bonus miles through the SkyMiles program, in addition to the standard bonus miles and the credited flight miles received with all Delta Vacations packages.

Hotel industry enters 2012 on solid footing in North America

Hotels will continue to see strong growth in 2012, primarily driven by rate increases and strong, steady demand for hotel rooms, according to TravelClick's December 2011 North American Hospitality Review (NAHR). The NAHR is based on actual hotel bookings from Q4 2011 through Q3 2012.

Over the next twelve months, committed occupancy is up 3 percent year-over-year; average daily rate (ADR) is up 3.6 percent; and revenue per available room (RevPAR), the top-line indicator, is tracking ahead by 5.3 percent.

"As we enter 2012, TravelClick data shows a 'slow and steady' increase in hotel performance," said Tim Hart, executive vice president, business intelligence solutions, TravelClick. "The business travel segment continues to be strong and group business shows slow but positive occupancy gains. Overall occupancy has consistently improved over the past 26 consecutive months and as demand begins to plateau, hotels need to increase rates to leverage increasing demand and maximize revenue."

The first quarter of 2012 will see a 6.6 percent gain in RevPAR, which is driven by a strong transient segment – individual business and leisure travelers. January and March prove to be key months in the first quarter of 2012, with 8.4 percent and 9.2 percent increases in RevPAR. Overall occupancy in the first quarter is expected to increase 2.5 percent and ADR is expected to increase 3.2 percent. While group commitments for this period are set to increase 1.8 percent, average daily rates will decrease by 1.4 percent for this segment.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Kuoni announces the launch of "Requested by you... Crafted by Kuoni"

Tour Operators The campaign started on 26 December 2011 Kuoni announces the launch of "Requested by you... Crafted by Kuoni" Thursday, January 05, 2012 Kuoni has launched its biggest ever campaign - 'Requested by you... Crafted by Kuoni'. The campaign, which started on 26 December 2011, aims to offer a range of value holidays with exceptional service in stunning destinations.

To convey this message in an engaging way, Kuoni, in association with Brighton based advertising agency Designate, has designed a multi-media campaign that resonates with customer sentiment and needs as they think about planning their time away from it all. As such, the campaign will include outdoor media in key locations including London, Bristol, Liverpool and Sheffield and Manchester, escalator panels in the Bank, Knightsbridge and High Street Kensington tube stations, and radio advertising for 14 Kuoni stores and two Kuoni partner stores, as well as brand advertisements in a range of glossy travel and lifestyle magazines throughout 2012.

Naomi Wilkinson, Kuoni's head of marketing said: "This campaign brings the essence of Kuoni alive - that we listen to our customers' needs and are specialists in creating unique travel memories that endure - as our Personal Travel Experts can craft the perfect holiday for you. The themes of the campaign are based around customer requests and real customer behaviour."

Alongside the brand campaign runs a multi-million pound tactically-led brand campaign including synergy of creative across all media channels, supported by stunning imagery to mirror customers’ needs. These needs were highlighted in an extensive customer centric research carried out by the company earlier this year. All the activity is designed to showcase Kuoni's hand-made approach to personalised holidays and service which all serve to underpin Kuoni’s values of authenticity, reliability and passion.

Jason Triandafyllou, Designate's MD said: "We were excited when we won the pitch, and we are thrilled to see the work come to fruition and go live. Kuoni are a great, truly prestigious brand and they gave us an exciting advertising brief to work to.

LaSalle Hotel Properties closes on acquisition of The Park Central Hotel in New York City

The company received a $9.3m. reduction from the original purchase priceLaSalle Hotel Properties closes on acquisition of The Park Central Hotel in New York CityLaSalle Hotel Properties announced that it acquired The Park Central Hotel in New York City for $396.2 million. The 934-room, urban, full service hotel is located on Seventh Avenue, between West 55th and West 56th Streets, in midtown Manhattan. The transaction was funded with cash on hand, borrowings from the Company’s senior unsecured credit facility and issuance of 296,300 Operating Partnership Units valued at $27.00 per share. The company received a $9.3 million reduction from the original purchase price in accordance with the terms of the purchase and sale agreement. The purchase price reduction is equal to the hotel’s income after debt service from September 2, 2011 through closing and is reflected in the $396.2 million purchase price.

“We are pleased to have finally closed on The Park Central Hotel,” said Michael D. Barnello, President and Chief Executive Officer of LaSalle Hotel Properties. “We remain excited about this well located New York City asset and our ability to acquire the hotel at an attractive purchase price.”

The hotel benefits from an excellent location, across the street from Carnegie Hall, three blocks south of Columbus Circle and Central Park, and five blocks from Rockefeller Center and Radio City Music Hall. The hotel is situated steps from midtown businesses and premium dining and is proximate to world renowned shopping and many of New York City’s preeminent tourist attractions. The hotel is just seven blocks north of Times Square and the theatre district.

The Park Central Hotel features two food and beverage outlets: Cityhouse, an 88-seat contemporary steakhouse, and Bar Bella, the hotel’s lobby lounge. The asset’s offerings also include 14,000 square feet of flexible meeting and function space, including an 8,500 square foot Grand Ballroom. Additionally, the property has 4,800 square feet of retail space.

The hotel was originally constructed in 1928 and has undergone numerous renovations throughout the years, with over $33.0 million since 2004. The Company plans to implement a renovation of the hotel, currently estimated at between $30.0 and $35.0 million, including guestrooms and guest bathrooms, corridors and the hotel’s lobby. The renovation is expected to commence late 2012 and conclude during 2013.

Highgate Holdings, which will continue to manage the Park Central, presently has a portfolio of more than 20,000 rooms located primarily in New York, San Francisco, Washington, DC, Las Vegas and Paris.

“We are thrilled to embark upon our LaSalle Hotel Properties relationship with such an important asset,” said Mehdi Khimji, a Principal of Highgate Holdings. “The location and scale of The Park Central Hotel has historically made it an outstanding performer in our portfolio and now with the planned renovation and LaSalle’s ownership, the hotel is poised to achieve its full potential.”

LaSalle Hotel Properties is a leading multi-operator real estate investment trust owning 37 upscale full-service hotels, totaling over 9,800 guest rooms in 13 markets in 9 states and the District of Columbia. The Company focuses on owning, redeveloping and repositioning upscale full-service hotels located in urban, resort and convention markets. LaSalle Hotel Properties seeks to grow through strategic relationships with premier lodging companies, including Westin Hotels and Resorts, Hilton Hotels Corporation, Outrigger Lodging Services, Noble House Hotels & Resorts, Hyatt Hotels Corporation, Benchmark Hospitality, White Lodging Services Corporation, Thompson Hotels, Sandcastle Resorts & Hotels, Davidson Hotel Company, Denihan Hospitality Group, the Kimpton Hotel & Restaurant Group, LLC, Accor, Destination Hotels & Resorts, HEI Hotels & Resorts, JRK Hotel Group, Inc., Viceroy Hotel Group and Highgate Holdings.

New Mark Warner beach resort for 2012 in Rhodes

Hotels & Lodging Levante Beach, Rhodes, a brand new five-star hotel New Mark Warner beach resort for 2012 in Rhodes Thursday, January 05, 2012 Open from 19th May 2012 -Levante Beach, Rhodes– a brand new five-star hotel built to Mark Warner’s very own specification. This new-build property is the second 5 Star resort that Mark Warner has added to its portfolio of first class properties around Europe. This luxurious resort, perfect for family holidays, will feature all of the fantastic Mark Warner facilities, watersports, tennis and childcare which make the Mark Warner holiday experience so popular.

Situated just 30 minutes from the airport and Rhodes town in the resort of Afandou Beach, the hotel is set right on the beach and has a total of 80 twin/double rooms (30 of which are interconnecting) 70 family suites, and 10 larger suites (8 of which have private swimming pools for those who want an extra dash of luxury). All the rooms come with balcony or terrace, en-suite bath or shower, air-conditioning, satellite TV and all are furnished in a
contemporary style.

Down on the beach we have built a well-equipped watersports centre and hotel guests will be able to take their pick from the usual array of excellent craft and water-based activities. There are four swimming pools, one of which is indoor and heated and one of which will be reserved for the over 14s. There is a purpose-built tennis centre boasting six courts and a multi-sport show court, all of which are astroturf and floodlit. The Mark Warner LTA-qualified tennis pro’s will be on hand to put you through your paces through a range of tennis lessons. The terrain of this island lends itself to some of the most exciting mountain biking – discover this for free. The Childcare Centre is tailor made and air-conditioned and will include a children’s swimming pool and outdoor playground. And, to round it all off, Levante Beach has its very own signature spa for sheer indulgence.

David Hopkins, Managing Director comments “This is another leap forward for the Mark Warner summer product. During the summer season of 2011 we introduced two new 5 star properties into our programme which were an overwhelming success. The unique Mark Warner holiday experience and 5 star luxury seem to hit the right note with our customers.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Numerous panel discussions highlight new trends at ITB Berlin Convention 2012

Numerous panel discussions highlight new trends at ITB Berlin Convention 2012As the tourism industry’s main think tank the ITB Berlin Convention 2012 has again been able to secure the attendance of prominent speakers. From 7 to 9 March, at the ITB Berlin Convention, part of the world’s leading travel trade show, leading speakers from the tourism industry and other sectors will be highlighting the latest trends and discussing the opportunities and challenges facing the global travel industry in the future. Admission is free for trade visitors with tickets to ITB Berlin.

Each of the three days features a special topic. Day one is devoted to the major trends in tourism, business and society at the ITB Future Day. The high-ranking members of the Executive Cruise Panel will be examining the current and future fortunes of the international cruise industry. Larry Pimentel, President & CEO Azamara Club Cruises; Peter Shanks, President & Managing Director Cunard Line; Pier Luigi Foschi, Chairman Costa Cruise Lines; Michael Bayley, Executive VP International Operations Royal Caribbean International and Enzo Visone, CEO, Silversea Cruises will be discussing the latest growth in demand as well as challenges in the context of environmental protection and social responsibility. Dr. Bernd Fauser, Head of Global Top Accounts Travel Google, will deliver a keynote on innovations such as the Google Hotel Finder and Google Offers, and how in the future revolutionary technologies can help to sell tours. Another speech will deal with a survey by the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) and on future tourism prospects in the Mediterranean, with a look towards 2030. Dr. Taleb Rifai, Secretary-General of UNWTO, is expected to guest on the panel. In the light of recent events the programme will also include discussion rounds on the current financial debt crisis.

Day two features the ITB Hospitality Day, which will focus on the challenges facing the hotel market. In view of the growing number of brands in this market segment one of the papers is entitled “Brands everywhere: how many brands make sense?". On day two speakers will also be talking about how booking portals are undergoing a consolidation process, the consequences for sales, the “war for talent“, and about how to interest young academics in hotel industry careers. In an age of unrest and natural disasters, another item on the agenda will include information on how hotels can protect their guests in the future. hospitalityInside.com, the interactive information network for journalists and senior executives of the international hotel industry, is the media partner of the ITB Hospitality Day

Thursday, 8 March 2012, also features the ITB CSR Day. At a keynote panel participants will be examining the issue of barrier-free travel. At the Studiosus discussion the focus will be on human rights in the tourism industry. Peter-Mario Kubsch, managing director of Studiosus Reisen; Jurgen Buchy, president of the DRV, and Klaus Brahmig, a member of German Parliament, will be discussing what can be done to safeguard human rights at travel destinations.

On Friday, 9 March 2012, the ITB Marketing and Distribution Day will be taking place. Delegates attending the events will be shown practical examples of past marketing campaigns which were not ideally worth copying, as well as those which are highly praiseworthy. Travel journalist and world traveller Doug Lansky will have thought-provoking ideas for innovative marketing strategies and measures. Dr. Daniel P. Glasner, CEO Groupon Central Europe, will be examining how Groupon can be used to market tourism products. There will also be a paper discussing the impact of user ratings on travel review portals and whether some are faked. An exclusive survey by ITB and FH Worms highlights areas in which this problem frequently occurs and how ratings are faked. Other topics include social media channels and trends such as collaborative consumption. Arne Bleckwenn, the managing director of Wimdu, will be talking about sharing one’s possessions, a growing trend, and about booking private holiday lodgings and sharing trips to destinations.

On Friday, 9 March 2012, the focus of the Innovator Panel at the ITB Mobility Day will be on sustainable fuels such as gas from wind and solar energy production. On the subject of air transport, the debate will examine the burdens resulting from the air travel levy and the proposed EU Emissions Trading Scheme. Another topic will be the European coach travel market, which is facing massive change. The opening up of the long-distance coach travel market as well as the popular new combination of air travel and local coach tours will also be on the agenda.

Parallel with the afore-mentioned events the ITB Destination Days will also be taking place for the entire duration of the ITB Berlin Convention 2012. These will be dealing mainly with the challenges facing destination management. In addition to the burgeoning Asian markets the focus will also be on types of travel with high growth potential, such as health and cultural tourism. The internationally acclaimed health expert Keith Pollard will be talking about the opportunities presented by this major tourism trend, particularly against the backdrop of demographic change. Other sessions will dwell on the Arab Spring and its impact on the travel industry as well as the expanding gay and lesbian travel market.

The newly introduced ITB Young Professional Day, which includes topics such as vocational training and university courses for tourism, the Business Travel Days and the Travel Technology Conference PhoCusWright@ITB, will round of the programme of the ITB Berlin Convention 2012.

Rezidor announces and opens the Park Inn by Radisson Lubeck

Hotels & Lodging The Rezidor Hotel Group rebranded the former Movenpick Hotel Lubeck Rezidor announces and opens the Park Inn by Radisson Lubeck Thursday, January 05, 2012 The Rezidor Hotel Group has rebranded the former Movenpick Hotel Lubeck in Germany: Since January 1, the 197 rooms-property trades under the new name Park Inn by Radisson Lubeck. The hotel is managed by the same owners as the adjacent Radisson Blu Senator Hotel, Lubeck. Park Inn by Radisson is Rezidor's young and dynamic mid-market brand, offering modern facilities, personalized service and great value for money.

Besides 197 spacious and modern guest rooms, the hotel features an all day dining restaurant, 1,200m2 of meeting space, and parking. The hotel underwent a room renovation in 2008 and further upgrades are planned in 2012 and 2013.

The Park Inn by Radisson Lubeck is located next to the old town, on the banks of the River Trave. The beaches of the Baltic Sea are only 18km away and the hotel is easily accessible from Hamburg International Airport (60 minutes drive). Lubeck was once one of the most influential cities in Europe as the capital of the Hanseatic League, which controlled trade in the Baltic Sea. The wealthy Hanseatic merchants left an enduring legacy of art treasures, 12th century houses and ornate churches, making Lubeck one of the gems of Northern Germany.

The Leading Hotels of the World introduces Resorts of Mexico

Get away from on a sunny escape to MexicoThe Leading Hotels of the World introduces Resorts of MexicoWhen you have had about all the holiday carols, cards, cookies, candy canes and camaraderie you can stand, it is time to get away from it all on a sunny escape to Mexico and a Leading Hotel of the World. Make your New Year’s Resolution - and your reservation - to stay at one of these sybaritic resorts.

Adults Only
The Royal Hideaway Playacar marries modern design with an upscale vibe and, thanks to a minimum-age requirement, a serene beach. With its sleek, cascading infinity pool, the resort also boasts split-level ocean front sun decks, relaxation plunge pools, six a la carte gourmet restaurants, a PADI-certified dive center, a full-service spa, live entertainment, and even private villa concierges.

In Nuevo Vallarta, Grand Velas Riviera Nayarit offers an all-inclusive experience, plus Pacific Ocean views, fine dining and a 16,500-square-foot destination spa. Included in the mix are three restaurants, yoga and Pilates classes, an infinity Jacuzzi and kids’ club. Of course, the white sand beaches along Banderas Bay provide ample daytime distraction.

Family Fun
In the Marine National Park, home to one of the world's largest and richest reef systems, Presidente InterContinental Cozumel Resort & Spa is a best-of-both-worlds getaway offering quiet seclusion by the Caribbean Sea and entertainment for the whole family. The Chiqui Club keeps youngsters entertained while parents enjoy the two spas, nearby golf course and snorkeling.

Cabo Style
With its stunning seaside setting, sprawling layout on 25 acres and authentic Mexican design scheme, the One & Only Palmilla strikes a perfect balance between laid-back and uber-chic. Jean-Georges Vongerichten's Market restaurant thrills foodies while an ESPA with 13 private treatment villas, three picture-perfect pool areas and access to some of the area's top golfing - including a 27-hole Jack Nicklaus signature course - keep everyone entertained. Butler service is provided to all rooms, with dedicated butlers assigned to each suite.

On the Riviera
Banyan Tree Mayakoba celebrates the stunning natural setting of the Riviera Maya's ecologically sensitive Mayakoba development. Interiors offer a mix between authentic Mexican touches and Asian serenity, and the property's many lounge areas, with striking ocean views, invite relaxation. The award-winning spa is a major draw, as are the villas with their own pools and guests' access to the Greg Norman–designed golf course.

Coastal Pampering
At Secrets Marquis Los Cabos it's difficult to decide what is more beautiful: the sweeping vistas of the Sea of Cortez or the colorful, comfortable interiors complete with original works of art. No question, however, that Spa Marquis, a Leading Spa focused on mind-body wellness, is one of the best -and largest- in Mexico. Equally acclaimed is Canto del Mar, the property's fine-dining restaurant. Restricted to adult guests, Marquis is a perfect enclave to escape the winter blues.

The terminal has 2.8m. MSP International Airport’s Terminal 1-Lindbergh turns 50

Minneapolis-St. Paul (MSP) International Airport’s Terminal 1-Lindbergh celebrates its 50th anniversary this month, a monument to the sweeping changes that have altered aviation, the airport and world as a whole in the past five decades.

“When the terminal opened in January 1962, the aviation industry was still highly regulated, commercial air fares were priced beyond the means of most family budgets, and global trade was still in its relative infancy,” said Jeff Hamiel, executive director of the Metropolitan Airports Commission, which owns and operates MSP. “It was clear even then that aviation would become an essential tool for growing jobs and tourism, and the new terminal prepared us to make the most of America’s changing economic landscape.”

The $8.5 million terminal had 600,000 square feet and boasted 24 gates on two concourses, or “piers,” when it opened in 1962. The facility could accommodate up to 14,000 travelers a day. It was designed for expansion and grew in phases as demand warranted.

Today, the terminal has 2.8 million square feet and 117 aircraft gates on seven concourses. Airlines carried about 33 million passengers to and from MSP last year, compared to fewer than 2 million in 1962. On average, some 80,000 people a day now fly through Terminal 1-Lindbergh.

Deregulation of the airline industry in 1978 spurred competition on routes and consolidation among airlines. Of the seven airlines that served MSP when the terminal opened, only United Airlines still exists. The others – Braniff, Eastern, North Central, Northwest, Ozark and Western – have since succumbed to acquisition, merger or liquidation.

MSP became a major hub in 1986 with the merger of the two largest carriers at the airport, Northwest and Republic, creating the world’s fourth largest airline. Although Delta Air Lines didn’t begin serving the Twin Cities until 1984, it became the dominant carrier in 2008 when it acquired Northwest Airlines.

“Becoming a hub enabled MSP to attract far more air service than the region would be able to support on its own,” Hamiel said. “In the mid-1990s, as many as 55 percent of travelers at MSP were connecting passengers, creating demand for more flights to more cities than the local market itself warranted. The continued strength of the hub accounts for the fact that people in the Twin Cities have access to more direct air service, per capita, than do residents of any other U.S. cities except Atlanta and Denver. Expansion of Terminal 1-Lindbergh over the years has largely mirrored the growth of the Twin Cities hub operation.”

As the Northwest Airlines hub grew, so did the need to expand MSP’s terminal and airfield capacity. In 1996, the Minnesota Legislature directed that MSP be expanded at its present site rather than replaced by a new airport in Dakota County, triggering campus-wide airport improvements, including significant changes to Terminal 1-Lindbergh. Terminal improvements included: expansion of Concourse C, development of new regional concourses A and B, new parking and auto rental facilities, more food and retail space, a transit center, two automated tram systems, a skyway connecting concourses C and G, and access to Minneapolis and the Mall of America via light rail. A new Terminal 2-Humphrey, new cargo facilities and a fourth runway also helped ensure the airport could continue to meet the region’s air service needs at its current site.

Because it was the only active terminal at MSP when it opened for business on January 21, 1962, Terminal 1-Lindbergh wasn’t actually named until 1985, when it was rededicated to famous Minnesota aviator Charles A. Lindbergh. Naming the terminal had become necessary because the MAC was in the process of developing a second terminal from a former United Airlines hangar and cargo facility and needed to be able to differentiate the two terminals. The second terminal opened in 1986 as the Hubert H. Humphrey International Charter Terminal. A numeric designator was added to both terminal names in 2010 in an effort to win approval from state and federal highway officials for signs directing drivers to the correct terminal for their airline. The terminals are now Terminal 1-Lindbergh and Terminal 2-Humphrey, respectively.

In celebration of Terminal 1-Lindbergh’s 50th anniversary, numerous shops and restaurants in the terminal are offering special deals Jan. 3-9: Get an additional 50% off clearance orange ticket merchandise at Creative Kidstuff, Minnesota!, Radio Road, Spirit of the Red Horse, Talie and Zozo; receive 10% off any purchase at InMotion Entertainment or 15% off your entire purchase at Wilson’s Leather. Travelers can also enter a chance to win a $50 gift basket from Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory.

Transaero starts regular flights to the Seychelles Islands

Aviation The airline operates flights to more than 99 domestic and international destinations Transaero starts regular flights to the Seychelles Islands Thursday, January 05, 2012 The first private airline in Russia’s history, Transaero Airline has made its first regular charter flight to the Seychelles in 2012.

The airline which operates scheduled and chartered flights to more than 99 domestic and international destinations landed at the Seychelles International Airport on the 3rd of January 2012 at 0711 am and departed four hours after its landing at 10.22 am.

Transaero Airline is using its Boeing 77-200N that has the capacity to board three-hundred passengers, including the crew members, for its Seychelles operations. For its first flight to the islands, the airline touched down in Seychelles from the Moscow’s Domodedovo Airport with 290 passengers, including the crew members.

Russia second largest airline will operate chartered direct service flight from Moscow to Seychelles every ten days as of 3rd of January 2012 to the 16th of March 2012.

Russia is Seychelles’ sixth main market in term of tourism arrivals. According to the Seychelles Civil Aviation Authority and local tour operators, December is normally the peak season for the arrival of the Russian charter in Seychelles.

In the past, Seychelles has had the Space Travel Airline and Atlas One Airline as some of the Russian charter flights.

Alain St.Ange, CEO of the Seychelles Tourism Board has said that the arrival of Transaero was timely. “Seychelles considers Russia as an important market and the direct air access between Seychelles and Russia will help open up this market. We welcome Transaero and the Tourism Board will work with them to further develop this market” Alain St.Ange said.

Travel agent FHR Travel Ltd launches a new new online travel website

 Tour Operators The new website allows users to build their own holiday Travel agent FHR Travel Ltd launches a new new online travel website Thursday, January 05, 2012 Executives at FHR Travel Limited announced the launch of a new online travel website. The new website allows users to build their own holiday using a state of the art dynamic holiday building tool that enables users to book complete holiday packages or stand-a-lone flights and hotels.

The new online travel agents website mytravelagents.co.uk was designed and built by a leading travel technology specialist Digital Trip. FHR Travel Limited offers clients more than seventy airlines from low cost carriers to schedule airlines as well as more than sixty-thousand instantly available hotels from budget 2 star hotels to 5 star luxury resorts.

To celebrate the launch of the new website the travel agents are hosting a Facebook competition where one lucky Facebook fan will win a luxury five night stay at the Mai Samui Beach Resort in Koh Samui, Thailand. Fans can also receive a five percent discount voucher by joining the company’s Facebook email list which will be used to keep customers up-to-date on the latest travel deals and discounts that are available on the website. People can visit this link to join the online travel agents MyTravelAgents.co.uk Facebook page.

The new website is also a good place for people to perform research on their next holiday through the site’s detailed hotel descriptions pages which include photos of almost every hotel that’s listed on the website as well as maps and hotel reviews that have been posted by Trip Advisor. The staff on the website publishes timely and informative articles and news feeds such as, 5 Things You Must Have on a Plane, Underrated Tourist Attractions and The World's Most Amazing Ruins.

The employees at FHR Travel Limited are excited about the new travel website and they are eager to begin engaging with the visitors to the website and the company’s Facebook fan page. One of the staff members will be on Facebook throughout the day posting travel deals and communicating with the fans on the page to answer questions and generally try to help people who are planning a holiday.

TripAdvisor’s top 15 U.S. destinations on the rise for 2012

TripAdvisor, Inc. announced the top 15 U.S. destinations on the rise for 2012, according to TripAdvisor travelers and editors. The diverse list, which offers something for all travel tastes and budgets, is comprised of destinations which have seen a remarkable increase in traveler reviews on TripAdvisor.com over the last year. From the sweet sounds of Nashville, Tennessee - which tops the hit parade of hotspots - to the sandy shores of Santa Cruz, California, each of the settings offers something unique.

TripAdvisor’s Top Vacation Hotspots on the Rise for 2012:

1. Nashville, Tennessee
Country music is the lifeblood of Nashville. Long before the music gained fame though, Tennessee was already putting together a long and storied history, some of which can be explored at the state Capitol building and the state museum.

2. Austin, Texas
Despite its growth, Austin has managed to maintain its mellow, small-town appeal. History buffs can head to the Lyndon Johnson Presidential Library and Museum, while travelers can also enjoy recreational activities - from golf, to walking trails in beautiful parks.

3. Fort Myers, Florida
Most visitors go to Fort Myers for the deep-sea fishing, the golf courses and the famous white sand beaches that line the Gulf Coast. Attractions include the winter estates of Henry Ford and Thomas Edison, as well as nearby Naples and the islands of Sanibel and Captiva.

4. Pigeon Forge, Tennessee
Set against the misty blue backdrop of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Pigeon Forge is a gateway to 500 thousand acres of Appalachian wilderness. If hiking over 800 miles of mountain trails and camping in dense ancient forests is a step too far, travelers can head to Dollywood for rollercoasters and waterslides.

5. Pensacola, Florida
For travelers seeking some great Florida beaches without a mega-resort or theme park atmosphere, Pensacola might just be the place for a perfect weekend. Home to Gulf Islands National Seashore, the city offers some of the best fishing and boating in the area.

6. Louisville, Kentucky
In addition to equestrian endeavors and bluegrass roots, Louisville boasts a range of exciting attractions the whole family can enjoy. Baseball fans will love the Louisville Slugger Museum, a celebration of the sport’s legends.

7. Branson, Missouri
While entertainment is nonstop on The Strip - a seven-mile stretch of live music, restaurants, theme parks and more - this hospitable town is also a paradise for outdoor recreation. The rolling hills offer 200 miles of trails, while three scenic lakes are havens for fishing and water sports.

8. Scottsdale, Arizona
With more than 200 golf courses in the area, ample spas and wellness resorts, and cultural attractions such as master architect Frank Lloyd Wright’s winter studio, the city is the perfect weekend antidote for life’s stresses.

9. Saint Augustine, Florida
Savor a restorative drink in St. Augustine’s Fountain of Youth National Archaeological Park, site of the conquistadors arrival in what is now the United States. Travelers can also take a break from history at a local beach, or indulge in some retail therapy among the many arts and crafts stores.

10. Charleston, South Carolina
Southern charm, hospitality and history imbue Charleston, one of the most well-preserved cities in the United States. History buffs will relish the old plantations and numerous historical museums dedicated to the Civil War and the Old South.

11. Albuquerque, New Mexico
In the historic section of Old Town, ancient Indian and Spanish cultures come to life through old churches, quaint shops and piazzas. Outdoor types will find ample opportunities for hiking, biking and golf in the area.

12. Wildwood, New Jersey
Wildwood and its beach and boardwalk are where city denizens from Philadelphia and New York have escaped to for decades. Travelers can soak up the ‘50s-style theme motels, the fried food palaces and the Doo Wop tours that recall the many rock ’n’ roll stars who performed here.

13. Asheville, North Carolina
The area’s spectacular beauty led millionaire George W. Vanderbilt to locate Biltmore, his castle-like mansion, in Asheville. While the city has historically been a resort for the wealthy, it is also a magnet for outdoor enthusiasts, who have their pick of activities including hiking, whitewater rafting, and more.

14. Park City, Utah
Park City’s rugged beauty is complemented by over 100 restaurants and bars, open air concerts, numerous spas and health clubs, plays, independent film screenings, a series of world-class events and festivals, and as many kinds of lodging as there are people.

15. Santa Cruz, California
Santa Cruz is one of America’s surfing capitals, complete with its own museum devoted to the sport, and a beach whose waves are known all over the world. For outdoor recreation, the Monterey Bay Marine Sanctuary and Natural Bridges State Park are the places to be.

“These U.S. destinations have really piqued TripAdvisor travelers’ interest over the last year, making them great options to consider as thoughts turn to vacation planning for 2012,” said Karen Drake, senior director of communications for TripAdvisor.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Abu Dhabi hotel guests increase 16% to 1.9 million in 11 months

Abu Dhabi hotel guests increase 16% to 1.9 million in 11 monthsHotel guests in Abu Dhabi increased 16 per cent in the first 11 months of the year to 1,903,888 guests, Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority (ADTA) said in a statement. Guest nights also rose 23 per cent, jumping to 5,694,140 from the 4,640,893 figure hit last year.

Despite an eight per cent decrease in average length of stay - the mean figure dipped from 3.22 nights in November last year to 2.96 last month - and small dips in room, food and beverage and other revenue contributors, Abu Dhabi's hotels' and hotel apartments' year-to-date revenue of Dh3.96 billion ($1.09 billion) is still a four per cent increase on 2010 receipts.

At 2.99 nights, the year-to-date average length of stay is also up six per cent when compared to the corresponding 11-month period in 2010.

Last month, Abu Dhabi welcomed 206,748 hotel guests, a 22 per cent increase on the corresponding month last year and the first time in two years that a calendar month has broken the 200,000 mark.

The strong performance ensured Abu Dhabi entered December - a month when 40th National Day celebrations and the year-ending Volvo Ocean Race host port stop-over are expected to give accommodation providers a further boost - less than 97,000 guests away from achieving its stretch 2011 target of two million hotel guests.

"Without putting the horse before the cart, we are confident that we will surpass our stretch target for the year," said Lawrence Franklin, Strategy and Policy Director, ADTA.

"This represents a fantastic achievement for everyone involved with the emirate's tourism industry and is based upon the ongoing collaborative efforts and achievements of our stakeholders to ensure Abu Dhabi realises its potential.

"We have already had hotels and hotel apartments report strong business over what was an historic National Day weekend and the expected influx for the end-of-year Volvo Ocean Race fleet should ensure December seals fantastic, across-the-board performance levels for the year."

November's growth in the total number of guests and guest nights ensured an occupancy rate of 77 per cent - the same as November 2010 - even though the emirate's hospitality portfolio has been expanded with a range of new, luxury hotel property openings.

During November, the GCC continued its recent high performance with guest arrivals from the Gulf rising 47 per cent on 2010 numbers. Qatar accounted for the strongest growth with a 56 per cent year-to year jump, while Saudi Arabia rose 53 per cent, Oman went up 48 per cent and Kuwait climbed 44 per cent.

Elsewhere, ADTA's debut road-show to India in September underscored the potential for additional growth in the rapidly emerging market; the Sub-continent giant contributed a mammoth 10,982 hotel guests in November - a 48 per cent rise on the 7,409 Indians who flocked to the emirate in the comparative period last year.

"It is extremely positive to see the Authority's ongoing international promotional efforts having sustained impact, with markets such as India and Saudi Arabia - where we have held road-shows in the last few months - both performing beyond expectations," added Franklin.

The UK is still Abu Dhabi's top international source market; some 15,246 Britons filled the emirate's hotels last month, an 11 per cent rise on November 2010, while Germany remains the second-largest European source market - 7,630 German nationals guaranteeing a year-to-year rise of 19 per cent.

"We anticipate even bigger demand in Germany following the recent launch of Etihad's four weekly services from Dusseldorf to Abu Dhabi and Air Berlin's plans to operate four flights a week between Berlin and Abu Dhabi International Airport from January," added Franklin. "The Air Berlin service, which follows the move by Etihad Airways to increase its stakeholding in Europe's six largest carrier, now means passengers on 29 flights a week from four German cities can feed into the new Berlin-Abu Dhabi service."

ACI supports third runway at Hong Kong International Airport

Aviation Airports Council International ACI supports third runway at Hong Kong International Airport Friday, December 30, 2011 Airports Council International (ACI) supports Hong Kong International Airport (HKIA) to build a third runway in Hong Kong to cope with the tremendous traffic growth in the region.

ACI supports the building of the third runway at the HKIA. According to ACI Traffic Forecast for 2009 - 2029, global passenger traffic will reach 11 billion in 2029 and passenger traffic will grow by 4.1% per annum over the next 20 years. Total passenger traffic in Asia and Pacific region is expected to nearly quadruple from 1.2 billion passengers in 2009 to over 4 billion in 2029. Asia and Pacific region will generate nearly 50% of all new global passenger demand over the next 20 years. The expected traffic growth will pose a direct challenge to the airports in the region.

Mrs. Patti Chau, ACI Asia-Pacific Regional Director said, “It is crucial that airports in the region act promptly in response to the expected increase in traffic demand. The airports need to review its development plan with its local authorities and stakeholders to ensure there is enough capacity in its facilities to meet future demands.”

Airport development requires long lead time and in dealing with the capacity issues, authorities will need a vision and a long-term view.

“If you look back to 1990 when Hong Kong was planning for a new airport, it was forecasted by 2010 HKIA will handle 45 million passengers but in reality HKIA handled 50 million passengers in 2010. It is therefore important for authorities to have a long-term view in mapping out airport development projects,” Mrs. Chau continued.

Beach Properties of Hilton Head Staff receives service awards

 Hotels & Lodging Beach Properties staff members were recognized for providing outstanding customer service Beach Properties of Hilton Head Staff receives service awards Friday, December 30, 2011 At the annual Beach Properties Christmas Celebration, Beach Properties of Hilton Head Staff members were presented with service awards in recognition for their dedication and outstanding customer service. Award recipients included - Brett Frederick, General Manager, Dana Nicholas, Vacation Planner, Dru Brown, Property Manager, Lucy Atherton, Property Manager, and Erica Duren, Guest Services Manager. Each of the Service Award recipients were recognized for providing 5 years of exceptional customer service in assisting both Beach Properties guests and property owners with their Hilton Head vacation rentals.

“We are thrilled to have such a dedicated and knowledgeable staff that is not only familiar with the properties but that has developed relationships with guests and owners resulting in one of the highest percentages of repeat guests”, stated owner Linda Moloney.

Chains take over the Dutch hotel market

 At the end of 2011 the share of the Dutch hotel supply that is chain related is 61%: of all Dutch hotel rooms only 39% still is independent of hotel chains. This is the result of new research by Horwath HTL. The chain rate of 61% is considerably higher than the European average. Moreover, compared to the chain rate of 35% some 10 years ago it means an extraordinary fast advance of hotel chains. Of all hotel chains Van der Valk Hotels en Restaurants, the oldest Dutch hotel chain, has the largest market share by far. Also the international NH Hoteles takes a leading position in the Dutch hotel market.

Chain rate in Dutch hotel market is high
No less than 50 hotel chains with 63 hotel brands are active in The Netherlands, as became apparent from recent research by Horwath HTL. In The Netherlands the chains have almost 560 hotels and more than 57,800 hotel rooms. By dividing the latter number by the approximately 95,000 hotel rooms of the Dutch hotel market, a percentage materializes of the Dutch hotel supply that is chain related. This chain rate of 61% is considerably more than the European chain rate, which was determined to be 35% earlier this year. Furthermore, the recently by Horwath HTL calculated chain rate is much higher than was thought based on older figures: in 2001 a chain rate of 35% in the Dutch hotel market was determined, which means that 65% of the Dutch hotel supply still was independent of a chain.

When choosing a hotel nowadays, in addition to the location, the brand related to a chain often plays an important role. Through a larger appeal on guests, but also through a larger operational efficiency, at chain hotels the room revenues and other revenues are often relatively large and cost patterns are often relatively low. This has caused the number of chains and brands in the Dutch hotel market to have grown at a remarkably fast pace during the last decade or so.

The Dutch chain hotel market still has a reasonably national character The Dutch chain hotel market still has a reasonably national character. No less than 60% of all chains, 58% of all chain hotels and 47% of all chain hotel rooms has a nationale origin and half of the top 10 of hotel chains and of the top 10 of hotel brands in The Netherlands has a national origin, even without designating Golden Tulip as a national brand.

The 30 hotel chains with a national origin have 23 brands which are all present in The Netherlands. The 20 brands with an international origin worldwide have 105 brands. Of these 105 brands ‘only’ 40 brands are present in The Netherlands, which means that the Dutch hotel market is open for easy introduction of at least 65 more brands.

Although an average national hotel chain has almost as much hotels as an average international chain, because of a smaller average hotel size, it has notably less rooms. As such, the market share of national and international chains in the Dutch hotel market is almost equally large. Except for a smaller size, a national hotel chain differentiates itself from an international hotel chain by focusing more on the tourism market and by the absence of a stock notation.

Van der Valk Hotels en Restaurants has by far the largest market share Of all hotel chains Van der Valk Hotels en Restaurants, the oldest Dutch hotel chain, has the largest market share by far. It is remarkable that this hotel chain with no less than 59 hotels and almost 7,800 hotel rooms, spread throughout The Netherlands, in all these years has sticked with the one brand. Both in the top 10 of largest hotel chains as well as in the top 10 of largest hotel brands Van der Valk Hotels en Restaurants is followed by the international NH Hoteles. In the top 10 of the largest hotel chains in The Netherlands the international Accor is a close match for the numbers 1 and 2. The number 3 in the top 10 of the largest hotel brands in The Netherlands, the international Best Western, does have notably less hotel rooms than the number 1 and number 2.

Chain relation in the Dutch hotel markt mostly based on management If only chain relation for both management and marketing of the related hotels is considered, and by definition chain hotels based on franchise contracts are excluded, the chain rate in the Dutch hotel market turns out to be 47% still. This means that for the lion share of the Dutch chain hotels the management is done by the concerning chain.

While in previous times many hotel chains used to be owner of both hotel real estate and hotel operations, nowadays chain relation mostly is established through contracts between the chains and the owners of the hotel real estate. The various contracts can be based on management, lease and/or franchise, each with different conditions concerning responsibilities, fees, risks and control.

In the four main forms of chain relation a second large difference relates to management. In case of chain relation by means of an ownership structure, a management contract and a lease contract the hotel chain manages the hotel, while in case of a franchise contract the hotel chain does not get involved in the management of the hotel and only offers support for marketing the hotel.

Comfort Inn Hotel opens in North Atlanta, GA

The property recently underwent conversion from Metro Hotel/Holiday Inn AtlantaComfort Inn Hotel opens in North Atlanta, GAThe newly renovated Comfort Inn & Conference Center Northeast in Atlanta, GA, is now open. Located at 2001 Clearview Ave., this north Atlanta hotel offers 125 guestrooms and 7 meeting rooms. The Comfort Inn brand is franchised by Choice Hotels International, Inc., one of the world's largest lodging franchisors. Comfort Inn hotels provide guests with a warm atmosphere and personal, helpful service with all the essentials and accommodations guests value and enjoy.

Formerly Metro Hotel/Holiday Inn Atlanta, the property underwent an extensive renovation in 2011 to convert to a Comfort Inn hotel. Features and amenities at the Comfort Inn & Conference Center Northeast include:

- Free wireless high-speed Internet access
- Free shuttle to Doraville MARTA Station
- On-site convention center with access to computer, copy, and fax services
- Meeting rooms to accommodate 300 for banquets and 120 for conferences
- Guestrooms offering flat screen TV, coffee maker, refrigerator, microwave, sofa sleeper, and whirlpool tub
- Pool and outdoor courtyard
- Complimentary newspaper (Monday - Friday)
- Pet-friendly hotel (fee)
- Participates in Choice Privileges, the Choice Hotels rewards program

"A great lodging choice for business and leisure travelers alike, our interior-corridor north Atlanta hotel welcomes tour groups and offers free parking for motor coaches and buses," explains Dipen Patel, the property's General Manager. "We are an affordable hotel for travelers to Atlanta and the surrounding metropolitan area to stay," says Patel.

Estonian Air ranked highest in marketing innovations by SimpliFlying

Aviation The first airline in the world to launch a social loyalty programme fully-powered by social media Estonian Air ranked highest in marketing innovations by SimpliFlying Friday, December 30, 2011 Estonian Air was ranked highest worldwide among airlines, where SimpliFlying ranked airlines by their innovations in marketing and social media launched in 2011.

The first place in SimpliFlying  rankings was taken by Estonian Air for its Facebook-based loyalty programme Airscore, leaving  behind well known international airlines around the world.

Estonian Air is the first airline in the world to launch a social loyalty programme fully-powered by social media and using the underlying Facebook platform. Estonian Air customers and fans can be rewarded for a variety of advocacy actions, like sharing their reviews of the airline on Facebook and tweeting a deal by the airline. This is the first time in the world where customers will be rewarded for advocacy without even having to fly the airline.

Earlier this month, Airlinetrends.com,  an independent industry and consumer trends research agency, ranked 11 most innovative products and service concepts  launched by airlines and airports around the world in 2011, and placed Estonian Air on the highest position among European airlines also for its social loyalty program AirScore.

SimpliFlying is the world’s leading airline brand strategy consulting company, with headquarters in Singapore and offices in Toronto and New York City. SimpliFlying helps airlines engage travellers profitably. SimpliFlying’s key clients include IATA, Turkish Airlines, Airbus, LAN Airlines, Jet Airways, Bombardier and Airbus.

SimpliFlying.com is also one of the #1 travel blog and one of the Top 2 blogs on aviation. @simpliflying is one of the Top 5 most influential on Twitter on airlines.

AS Estonian Air, Estonia’s national carrier, provides both business travellers and tourists direct air link from Estonia to European cities. Estonian Air is the biggest operator at Tallinn Airport.

Estonian Air focuses on improving the connection between Estonia and the rest of the world with the aim of increasing competitiveness as a network carrier hub. In 2012 Estonian Air will increase flight frequencies and open new destinations in Europe’s most important cities as well as regional centres in Scandinavia.
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