April 2015

Trade paper for the domestic tourism and inbound tourism industry in England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland

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News 2 travelGBI April 2015 Contents Best of Britain & Ireland review ................................7 Big Interview .......................8 Scottish expo 2015 preview ....................... 10-15 Wales .......................... 16-17 Industrial tours and attractions ................... 18-19 Theatreland ................. 20-23 Featured next issue l England's North West l West Country & Isles of Scilly l Shopping Outlets l Travel South East Editorial contributions for the May issue should arrive by April 17. Please send them to: BIG BUS TOURS IS BOUGHT BY PRIVATE EQUITY FIRM SIghTSEEINg firm Big Bus Tours has confirmed that Exponent Private Equity has agreed to acquire the company. No price was given for the deal by the firm which invests in UK-based businesses with enterprise values between £75 million and £350 million. UK CENTER PARCS PUT UP FOR SALE BY BLACKSTONE ThE UK Center Parcs business, which runs five holiday villages, has been put up for sale by private equity giant Blackstone group. A deal for the domestic resorts operator could be worth £2.5 billion. MERLIN ENTERTAINMENTS SEES PRE-TAX PROFITS RISE UK theme park giant Merlin Entertainments saw pre-tax profits soar by almost 35% last year to £249 million on the back of a strong growth in visitor numbers. The group's attractions saw visitor numbers rise from 59.8 million in 2013 to 62.8 million last year, with Legoland being the star performer. BIRMINGHAM BRANDS AS SHAKESPEARE'S AIRPORT VISITBrITAIN and Culture Secretary Sajid Javid welcomed news that charter flights are to be introduced between Beijing and Birmingham this summer by hainan Airlines. Birmingham Airport said it would be branding itself in China as "Shakespeare's airport" and promoting links to nearby Stratford-upon-Avon. GLOBAL ICONS GO GREEN FOR ST PATRICK'S DAY MOrE than 160 of the world's most iconic landmarks and sites turned green for St Patrick's Day last month as part of Tourism Ireland's biggest global greening. The Colosseum in rome, Edinburgh Castle, the great Wall of China, Niagara Falls, the Christ the redeemer statue in rio de Janeiro and the famous 'Welcome' sign in Las Vegas were just a few of the sites helping to generate more than €10 million in publicity. ANTIQUES ROADSHOW TO VISIT TRENTHAM GARDENS ThE BBC's Antiques Roadshow is coming to Trentham gardens in Stoke-on-Trent on September 3. With Trentham's location close to the Potteries region – regarded as the world capital of ceramics – the estate hopes interesting items may turn up on the programme. HAVEN ADDS SAFARI TENTS TO ITS COASTAL PARKS BOUrNE Leisure-owned haven has added more safari tents to its coastal holiday parks in Somerset, Cornwall, Wales, Dorset and Norfolk. Sleeping up to five people, haven's safari tents have two bedrooms, a dining area, cookers, fridges and electric sockets. 2015 TOUR OF BRITAIN ROUTE IS REVEALED ThE 2015 Friends Life Tour of Britain has unveiled its route, which includes the cycle race's toughest ever summit finish, a revamped final stage in the heart of London and a first ever grand Depart for Wales. Also on the route is Lancashire, Cumbria, Scotland, Northumberland, Stoke- on-Trent, Nottingham, Norfolk and Suffolk. PARKDEAN HOLIDAYS TO RECRUIT 100+ APPRENTICES MOrE than 100 young people are to be recruited by Parkdean holidays as the company triples its intake of apprentices in 2015. Parkdean has more than 30 apprentices already training at its parks in Cornwall, Devon, Dorset, Norfolk, Scotland and Wales on the 12-month programme, which includes training, a personal mentor and a buddy. PREMIER INN SEES SALES UP AS REGIONS RECOVER FOUrTh-qUArTEr sales at Premier Inn rose by 16.5% on the back of expansion during 2014. Parent company Whitbread said the budget chain saw total revenue per available room (revpar) grow by 8.9% in the three months with occupancy up by three percentage points to 71.1%. Andy harrison, chief executive of Whitbread, said the chain benefited from the recovery in the UK regional hotel market. NEWS IN BRIEF ThE travel trade sales team at historic royal Palaces celebrated 500 years of hampton Court Palace with key industry partners last month. The event also saw the launch of next year's initiative, 2016 the Year of the garden. 2015 marks 500 years since Cardinal Wolsey – henry VIII's adviser – commissioned builders to lay the foundations of hampton Court Palace. Ann Wilson, head of sales, said the palace will host a series of events during 2015 to mark the anniversary. Next year's focus on gardens marks 300 years since the birth of Lancelot Capability Brown, the famous English landscape architect who was appointed to the gardens of the palace in 1764. As well as hampton Court ETOA, the European tourism association, claimed the new format of its two-day March Marketplace at London's Wembley was a success. The first day showcased regional UK and Irish products to buyer tour operators representing international markets, then London & Partners took the lead on the second day, which focused on the capital. Visit Wales offered a Welsh- themed lunch and Tourism Ireland celebrated St Patrick's Day with an evening reception. The Warner Bros. Studio Tour took over the venue for the second day, to promote the attraction's new addition – the hogwarts Express. A contingent of outbound operators from India joined the marketplace following a partnership between Etoa and OTOAI, the Outbound Tour Operators Association of India. Martine Ainsworth-Wells, director of marketing and commerce at Etoa, said: "We are delighted to have been able to deliver over 12,000 business appointments to buyers and sellers of UK and Ireland products over the two days." ThEATrE stars Lee Mead and Jason Donovan are among the famous names lined up for Warner Leisure hotels' calendar of Star Break Weekends for 2015. Mead, who has starred in West End hits such as Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat and Wicked, will visit holme Lacy house on May 15. West End stars head for Warner Another veteran of the West End, Donovan will be at Bodelwyddan Castle on September 18 as he performs pop hits from his successful chart career. Strictly Come Dancing vocalist Lance Ellington and his band will be at Thoresby hall on July 31 while 60s singer Tony Christie is revisiting his musical roots at the Cricket St Thomas hotel on September 25. Opera singer russell Watson will join guests at Nidd hall hotel on October 2. Star Breaks at Bourne Leisure-owned Warner hotels start from £269 per person for a three-night break. Industry celebrates 500 years of Hampton Court Palace history Mama hails fresh format Ann Wilson, Historic Royal Palaces; Jim Brown, European Travel Services; Valda Kampf and Christine Streckewald, Sovereign Tourism Pictured at the Tourism Society Annual Dinner are (l-r): John Brown, Historic Royal Palaces; Tom Piper, Tom Piper Theatre Design; Sandra Matthews-Marsh, chairman, Tourism Society; guest speaker Peter Long, chief executive, Tui Group and Lord Thurso MP. NO. 1 FOR DOMESTIC TRAVEL, TOURISM AND BUSINESS NEWS IN ENGLAND, IRELAND, SCOTLAND & WALES By Ian Taylor ThE Tourism Alliance has outlined policy demands for the next government, as the culture secretary acknowledged: "Tourism is powering the recovery." The Tourism Alliance briefing lists 19 ways the next government could boost travel and tourism, including reducing Air Passenger Duty, increasing airport capacity, improving the visa process and cutting VAT on tourism services. Speaking at the launch of the briefing, culture secretary Sajid Javid said: "Your industry is powering the recovery. It is part of our long-term economic plan, and that is not just rhetoric. "Through the last five years the government has worked Tourism Alliance outlines policy demands for next government with the industry to invest." referring to the record number of overseas visitors to Britain and record level of spending last year, Javid said: "It's all starting to pay off." But he insisted: "We are not complacent. We launched the Tourism Industry Council with you to take the action that is needed." British hospitality Association chief executive Ufi Ibrahim, who chairs the Tourism Alliance, described the Tourism Industry Council as "a game changer" and commended tourism minister helen grant for her "decisive role" in setting it up. But Ibrahim added: "We need the incoming government to continue to change the game to ensure we are competitive. There is so much more to be done." DESIgNEr Wayne hemingway is one of the key speakers confirmed for the Tourism Society Symposium in Kent (June 1-2). he is a design consultant for an £18 million project which aims to reopen Margate's Dreamland as a vintage amusement park. The annual symposium will bring together more than 200 tourism professionals and includes study tours, a networking supper and a full day of presentations and discussions. This year's topic is 'Connecting to the Future', and will examine sustainable inbound and outbound growth along with debates on key infrastructure developments – from transport and technology to partnerships with government. Other speakers include former government minister Steven Norris and Arts Council England chairman, Sir Peter Bazalgette. The society held its Annual Dinner last week (pictured) at the house of Commons, where Tui group chief executive Peter Long was guest speaker. Tourism Society Symposium to feature top speakers Palace, historic royal Palaces looks after the Tower of London, the Banqueting house, Kensington Palace, Kew Palace and hillsborough Castle.

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