Visitors To US May Need New Passports

Millions of Britons could be forced to buy new passports to travel to the U.S. from next year due to proposed new security measures in the wake of the Paris terrorist attacks.

The White House is working with the U.S. Congress on plans to require visitors travelling from countries included in its visa waiver programme, including those from the U.K., to use passports with embedded security chips.

If the proposal goes ahead, British passport holders with older passports without chips would have to renew their passports, at a cost of at least £72.50 each, if they want to travel to the States.

According to the Telegraph, an estimated five million of Britain’s 50 million passport holders have older documents without a biometric microchip. Most of these have about a year left to run, said the newspaper.

The Department for Homeland Security and the State Department in the U.S. are to review the visa waiver programme and report back to the president within 60 days.

Their proposals include accelerating the requirement for 100 per cent of visa waiver programme travellers to have e-passports.

The U.S. is aiming to strengthen the visa waiver programme and make sure it can gather information on foreign visitors who might have visited countries offering a safe haven to terrorists.

A White House spokesman said the administration would ‘enhance and accelerate’ changes to the visa waiver programme due to the ‘ongoing threat posed by foreign terrorist fighters’.

It has already announced plans to expand its pre-clearance programme to more foreign airports, including possibly Heathrow, Gatwick and Manchester.

While that will mean travellers from the UK will be able to avoid long immigration queues on arrival in the U.S., it will also allow U.S. officials to screen them before they can board flights to the States.

Source: TravelMole

NTOA Releases Timeshare Owner Study

The highly anticipated first Timeshare Owners Study commissioned by National Timeshare Owners Association (NTOA) has now been released.

Produced by INTUITION Brand Marketing, a division of Perspective Group, this first-of-its-kind study collected and analysed more than 500,000 online conversations. The aim was to provide a deep overview of consumer perception and opinion from social interactions rather than traditional survey questions.

For nearly 20 years, the National Timeshare Owners Association has worked to foster a better understanding of the benefits and usage of timeshare ownership through information and educational programmes.

Today, it works to give a united voice to the nearly eight million timeshare owners in the United States and Canada.

“Improving education and creating a better understanding between consumers and resort developers is one of our primary objectives, and utilising the technology and skill set of the team at INTUITION to create such a unique and valuable study is an integral part of that objective,” said Gregory Crist, CEO, NTOA.

The study aims to assist timeshare industry operators to better understand their existing and prospective audience, public perception, travel trends, areas of success and areas for improvement, plus much more.

““It’s incredibly insightful to see the answers without knowing first what the questions were. In today’s marketplace, social media has such a huge affect on consumer’s decisions to buy products and choose accommodations it is crucial to understand what is being said about your brand, industry and product type online.” says Paul Mattimoe, president & CEO, Perspective Group.”

Work is already underway for the next annual edition of the study, with plans to double its volume of mentions analysed and include even more sections of categorised data.

The 2015 study is available to timeshare industry professionals upon request at http://intuitionbrandmarketing.com/ntoa

For more information, visit http://nationaltimeshareownersassoc.com or find us on twitter @NTOAssoc.

DMC Acts On Hollywood Marketing

As a result of complaints made by Kwikchex, which runs the Timeshare Task Force, an investigation by the DMC (Direct Marketing Commission) into Hollywood Marketing, which runs sellmytimeshare.tv and monster.travel.com has resulted in a recommendation that Hollywood Marketing’s membership of the DMA (Direct Marketing Association) is terminated.

DMC reported that sellmytimeshare.tv provides an initial valuation of a timeshare and invites consumers to a meeting at one of its advice centres. During the meeting, consumers are introduced to Monster Credits as part of the trade-in deal. These credits are presented as a discount on travel and accommodation.

Consumer vulnerability was seen by the DMC to be a key issue in its deliberations and the Commission noted that some of those looking to sell their timeshare were desperate to sell and some apparently needed loan financing to buy the credits.

Furthermore, the DMC noted that “already elderly and fearful consumers were being offered something of uncertain value and that required very considerable further spending… to utilise the alleged benefits offered”.

DMC had major concerns about switch selling timeshare owners looking to sell into buying travel credits, particularly when there was no certainty that their ownership of the timeshare ceased.

DMC concluded that sales techniques were high-pressure and that people attending the meetings had no prior notice of Monster credit purchases.

DMC questioned the value of the credits offered and was worried about the absence of any form of insurance or investment protection for consumers given the long-term nature of the product and the amount paid.
DMC’s investigation also took into account a report by Trading Standards.

The DMC upheld four rules in the DMA code: that members must not exploit the lack of knowledge or inexperience of consumers and take care when dealing with vulnerable consumers; members must not engage in high-pressure selling; members must accept they are normally responsible for actions taken on their behalf by their staff, agents and others; members must act decently, fairly and reasonably at all times.

The recommendation is subject to appeal.

Norwegian Adds Edinburgh Tenerife Route

Scottish timeshare owners at Tenerife-based resorts will be delighted to hear that Edinburgh airport is gaining a new low-cost airline with the start of flights by Norwegian.

The airline will run two flights a week from October 29 with fares starting at £59.90 one way. Around 40,000 seats will be available over the next year.

Tenerife is the fifth destination served by Norwegian from Edinburgh join Copenhagen, Malaga, Oslo and Stockholm.

The airline’s commercial director, Thomas Ramdahl, said: “Tenerife remains one of the most popular holiday getaways for Scottish travellers and compliments the range of city breaks we currently offer.”

Airport managing director, Gordon Dewar, described the expansion as a “massive vote of confidence”.

Families Feel Benefit Of APD Change

A third of families believe flying is more affordable following the abolition of child Air Passenger Duty, but most have not noticed a difference.

As the October half term approaches, ABTA has released the findings of a study which found 34% of people with children under five and 31 per cent of people with children over five said they feel it’s made holidays more affordable.

But 10 per cent of people with children under five said they disagreed that holidays were now more affordable, and 56 per cent were neutral.

For families with children over five, 9 per cent said they disagreed and 51 per cent were neutral.

A A spokeswoman for ABTA said some families may not yet have seen the impact of the changes, which came into force in May this year.

APD was cut on economy flights for children under 12 on May 1 and in March 2016 this will be extended to children under 16.

In April, APD reform saw the abolition of the more expensive long haul APD Bands C and D, which made it cheaper to fly to destinations such as the Caribbean, India and China.

“The vast majority of respondents will have also taken short haul trips where the difference will be less marked,” added the spokeswoman. “Not all families will take an overseas holiday too.”

The research was conducted among 2003 consumers by Arkenford, which specialises in tourism and leisure market research.

Gap Widens Between Holiday “Haves” And “Have-Nots”

Research from ABTA reveals that the volume of holidays booked by Brits has increased, but this is being driven by just three quarters of the population.

ABTA’s Holiday Habits Report 2015 shows that the average number of holidays taken per person increased slightly from 3.0 holidays last year to 3.2 holidays this year. However, the total number of people taking a holiday fell slightly from 80 per cent last year to 77 per cent in 2015.

This decline in the number of individuals who said they took a holiday is a continuation of a wider trend seen over the last five years. In 2011 90 per cent of the U.K. population said they took a holiday, 13 per cent more than this year.

Continued pressure on household finances appears to be the key reason behind the decrease in holidaymakers with the biggest cuts in holidays coming from those with the tightest budgets.

In 2011, 95 per cent of those classified as social grade A1, and 81 per cent of those classified as social grade E, said they took a holiday. In 2015, 95 per cent of those in social grade A still took a holiday but just 49 per cent of those in social grade E took a holiday.

Affluent holidaymakers also appear to be taking more holidays per person, suggesting that they are one of the driving forces behind market growth. Those classified as social grade A took an average of 8.0 holidays per person last year, up from 7.4 holidays per person in 2011.

Those people classified as social grade E took an average of 1.7 holidays per person in 2015, approximately half the 3.0 holidays they took in 2011.

The overseas market appears to have benefitted most from the increase in the number of holidays taken per person. In 2014 holidaymakers took an average of 1.2 overseas holidays; in 2015 this had changed to 1.5 overseas holidays, with a particular increase in the number of overseas holidays of 7+ nights.

The increase in foreign breaks may be partly attributed to the strong pound against a range of foreign currencies, in particular the Euro, against which it reached an eight year high in July 2015. It may also be an indication that household finances and consumer confidence are recovering after the recession.

The number of domestic holidays taken per person has fallen slightly in the past year, which may be partly attributed to a market correction after the credit crunch. In 2009 the number of domestic holidays taken reached record highs according to VisitEngland.

While numbers have dipped slightly since 2009 they are still much higher than they were before the financial crisis hit in 2007/8, suggesting that the staycation is still a popular option.

Mark Tanzer, ABTA chief executive said: “The travel industry has seen a steady return to growth in recent years following the credit crunch and worldwide economic crisis. It is very encouraging to see optimism and growth with many people choosing to take more holidays, particularly longer overseas breaks. However, some people are clearly still feeling the pinch and are either cutting back on the number of holidays, or not taking a holiday at all. This suggests the “long-tail” of the recession is still having an impact on people’s ability to afford at least one holiday a year.”

ABTA Reveals One In Five Travel Uninsured

 

ABTA is warning travellers about the dangers of travelling overseas uninsured as new ABTA research has found that one in five holidaymakers (20 per cent) are still travelling overseas uninsured.

Holidaymakers travelling uninsured run the risk of substantial medical bills which can run into thousands of pounds, particularly if an air ambulance is required to fly them home.

The numbers travelling overseas uninsured are similar to last year’s figures, when 22 per cent travelled overseas uninsured, however there has been a big rise in young holidaymakers travelling uninsured.

A third (33 per cent) of 16-24 year olds are travelling uninsured, up from 22 per cent in 2014. A third (32 per cent) of 25-34 year olds are also travelling uninsured, making these two age groups the most at risk should something go wrong.

Confusion amongst young holidaymakers over what a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) offers may be partly responsible for them not taking out insurance.

Over one in five (22 per cent) of 16-24 year olds believes that they don’t need travel insurance because they have an EHIC.

While EHICs, which need to be renewed every five years, will give access to emergency state medical care throughout most of Europe, ABTA would caution that an EHIC card is not a substitute for travel insurance. EHICs will not cover the cost of repatriation to the UK in an air ambulance, private medical care or additional expenses, such as accommodation for family staying in resort.

Financial constraints may also be responsible for the increase in numbers travelling uninsured, with 30 per cent of all respondents with children saying that cost is the principal reason they don’t take out travel insurance.

There does appear to be growing awareness, however, that the Government will not foot the bill in a medical emergency. Only 11 per cent now think that the Government will settle their medical bills, down from 14 per cent in 2014.

This message is also getting through to the younger generation with 16 per cent of 16-24 year olds believing this, down from 19 per cent in 2014, and a further 19 per cent of 25-34 year olds, down from 23 per cent in 2014.

Mark Tanzer, ABTA Chief Executive, said: “It is a real concern that we see so many travellers telling us that they have recently gone overseas without travel insurance. Every year we come across tragic incidents of people having accidents or falling ill overseas without travel insurance and then having to pay bills which can quickly run into thousands of pounds. Often they are younger travellers and their families are left with the burden of having to pick up the bill. Whatever your financial circumstances may be, avoiding taking out travel insurance is a very false economy.”

Air Traffic Controllers Action To Cause Delays

easyJet is warning of ‘moderate’ delays to its Spanish flights this Saturday due to further strike action by Spanish Air Traffic Controllers.

It said flights to and from Spain, and those flying in Spanish airspace, might be affected by the 12-hour strike planned for October 3.

It follows strike action last Saturday which caused some flight disruption, especially in and out of Barcelona airport.

The strike is the latest action over the treatment of 61 Barcelona-based controllers accused of bringing airspace to a halt over the city during a protest in 2010.

“We plan to operate our normal schedule and expect moderate delays to our flights during this period,” said easyJet.

Passengers are advised to check the status of their flight before going to the airport.

Meanwhile, unions for Air France staff have called for a strike to take place on Monday, October 5.

In its advice to corporate clients, travel management company Carlson Wagonlit said: “It is currently unclear how much of an impact this industrial action will have on Air France operations, but travellers should be prepared for flight delays and cancellations. Travellers are advised to confirm the status of their flights prior to departure for the airport.”

And on October 8, Italian airport workers plan a walk-out between 13:00 and 17:00.
“Unless averted, the work stoppages could cause some delays and cancellations,” said CWT.

“Travellers are advised to verify the status of their flight before leaving for the airport and to arrive there early due to longer waiting times.

Source: TravelMole

Voyager Travel Case Re-Opened

The higher Court of Justice in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria has come to a decision on the appeal filed by Mindtimeshare against the order made by the Judge in San Bartolomé Court to close the Voyager Travel/Lifestyle Holiday (‘Kaiser’) case.

The appeal, filed by Mindtimeshare in July 2014, has been accepted, the Judge’s court order revoked and the case will now be re-opened.

The original case commenced with the arrests of 74 people in 2013 at the offices and sales decks of Voyager Travel, Lifestyle Holidays and other associated companies.

It is alleged that the companies made around €5million by defrauding approximately 2,000 holidaymakers, who made payments of between €5,000 to €30,000 for the guarantee of discounts of up to 70 per cent at holiday accommodation.

One of the key individuals behind the companies, Eugen Kaiser, was amongst those arrested. A German national, Kaiser has been based in the Canaries since the 80s.

The Higher Court has said that it is clear that the investigations were not exhausted and the Court in San Bartolomé de Tirajana should undertake the judicial proceedings proposed by Mindtimeshare.

FCO Issues Advice To Brits In Paris

British tourists in Paris are being urged to follow the advice of the French police and keep movement around the city to a minimum.

Following Friday night’s terror attack, in which 129 people were killed, France has declared a state of emergency and a three-day period of mourning, until November 16.

Security has been tightened at all border control checks around the county and there is a ban on public gatherings, the flying of drones and the use of fireworks in the Ile de France region.

The UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office advised visitors to France who are considering returning to the UK to contact their travel company for information on availability.

Members of the public who have been directly affected by the incidents in Paris, or who are concerned about family members and friends who may be directly affected can call the Foreign and Commonwealth on 020 7008 0000.

As well as the 129 people confirmed dead, Friday night’s attacks left 99 critically injured.

People were shot dead in bars and restaurants close to Place de la Republique and the Place de la Bastille in the heart of the city, and there were explosions near a football stadium in St Denis, where France was playing a friendly match against Germany.

The deadliest of Friday night’s attacks was at the Bataclan concert hall, where gunmen burst in and opened fire on the audience of a concert by US rock group Eagles of Death Metal.

Nearly 90 people were shot dead at the 1,500-seater venue, which was sold out at the time.

Security forces stormed the hall and all four attackers were dead – three had blown themselves up and a fourth was shot by police.

On Saturday, Paris residents were told to stay indoors and around 1,500 military were deployed across the city. It is the first time a mandatory curfew has been exercised since 1944.

The British Foreign and Commonwealth Office has told British nationals in France to exercise caution in public places and follow the advice of the local authorities.

Flybe is continuing to fly to Paris but is giving passengers due to fly this weekend and Monday and Tuesday the chance to change their flights or get a credit note for future travel.

EasyJet is also allowing passengers to change their flight without charge over the weekend.

“The situation in France is fluid and we will respond to government advice as we get it. Our thoughts are with Parisiens and all affected,” it said.

Air France is operating as normal but warned passengers of delays due to tightened security at border controls.

The attacks happened at Bataclan concert venue in the 11th district, Stade de France, St Denis (just north of Paris), Le Carillon and Le Petit Cambodge restaurants in the 10th district and La Belle Equipe and La Casa Nostra restaurant in the 11th district.

Around 80,000 people were watching the match between France and Germany at the stadium, which was being watched on television by millions.

President Hollande, who was also there, was taken to safety after the first of the explosions and held an emergency cabinet meeting.

David Cameron said he was shocked and pledged to do ‘whatever we can to help’ and US president Barack Obama said it was ‘an outrageous attempt to terrorise innocent civilians’.

 

Source: TravelMole

CAA Welcomes Powers To Tackle Pilot Fatigue

The UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has welcomed a decision by the European Parliament to support harmonised flight time limits for pilots across Europe and give regulators far greater oversight of fatigue.

Following the vote, the CAA said it was vital that the aviation industry finds common purpose on tackling fatigue to ensure the highest possible levels of safety for the travelling public. The CAA is calling on the aviation industry to work together to ensure that reporting is improved, fatigue management is strengthened and the new European rules, when implemented, are utilised to their full to enhance aviation safety.

Fatigue is a serious issue for everyone involved in aviation, and the CAA already has significant work underway to help address concerns that it may impact on flight safety. The European Union proposals mean that the CAA will have greater fatigue oversight powers, and airlines will be forced to take greater responsibility for fatigue instead of focussing solely on duty hours.

Under the harmonisation proposals, developed by the European Aviation Safety Agency, national aviation safety regulators, such as the CAA, will have a much enhanced monitoring role of pilot fatigue – including having access to airline flight data. This will allow regulators to analyse roster and shift patterns to identify problems on specific sectors or routes.

Recent publicity from the pilot union, BALPA, has highlighted significant numbers of apparent fatigue-related incidents, which contrasts with very low reporting to the CAA. Greater oversight powers will help to mitigate this, but if the new system is to work, it is also vital for pilots to report fatigue-related incidents.

Andrew Haines, Chief Executive of the CAA, said: “Pilot fatigue is a real risk in the aviation industry and we take the management of fatigue very seriously. Fatigue has multiple causes, and must be managed in a practical, hands-on way, not simply by asking airlines and pilots to comply with a set of timetables. Responsibility for managing fatigue is three-fold: effective regulation, proactive management by airlines and professional behaviour and reporting by pilots. All parties must work together on this to ensure passenger safety remains paramount.”

The EU proposals were drawn up using expert scientific and medical advice and were subject to an extensive public consultation.

Many of the proposed changes are comparable to existing UK rules. As well as strengthening CAA oversight and industry’s fatigue management in the UK, they will also tighten flying hours in some other European countries, improving safety for UK citizens flying with foreign airlines.

The CAA said it will also be investigating measurements of fatigue through a research project that will further the understanding of its causes.

ASA Adjudicates Holiday Advert

As part of the Timeshare Task Force initiative, Kwikchex recently challenged whether an advertisement on the Direct Resorts International website was misleading with the Advertising Standards Authority (the ASA).

It believed that the advertisement omitted a significant condition that the prices of the holidays referred to were dependent on consumers attending a timeshare sales presentation during the holiday. Failure to attend would mean incurring the full cost of the holiday accommodation.

Kwikchex also challenged whether the statement that referred to holidays “at RCI… Affiliated Resorts” was misleading because it understood that the advertiser had no connection with RCI.

Easy Consulting SL which trades as Direct Resorts International, did not respond to the ASA’s enquiries. The ASA was concerned at this lack of response and, because it had not seen evidence to show if the advertised holiday prices were generally available or if they were only available to customers who attended a sales presentation, concluded that the quoted price had not been substantiated and the advertisement was misleading.

The complaint regarding the reference to RCI was also upheld by the ASA as it had seen no evidence that there was a connection with RCI.

The advertisement must not appear again in its current form.

Timeshare Resorts Called To Support Troops

In the run up to Remembrance Day 2015, Give Us Time, a charity launched by Dr. Liam Fox MP, for the Armed Forces, is appealing to owners and managers of holiday homes, hotels and timeshares to donate accommodation to British military personnel and their families.

Since 2001, more than 458 British forces personnel have lost their lives in Afghanistan, more than 2,000 have experienced physical or psychological damage, and families across the country have seen their lives profoundly changed.
Recognising the impact an operational tour can have, Give Us Time takes one-week holidays donated by hosts and matches them with British soldiers in need of rest, rehabilitation and reconnection with their families.

In In 2015, Centre Parcs generously donated 25 holidays to military personnel and Club La Costa donated 40 holidays. The charity is hoping to increase its number of partners in the hospitality sector this year.

Karen Hay, Chief Executive, Give Us Time, says: “Remembrance Day, which falls on 8th November this year, is a timely reminder of the sacrifices military personnel have made and the impact serving in the military has had on their families. We are asking businesses in the hospitality sector to contribute to Give Us Time’s initiative. It is easy to donate spare capacity accommodation via our website.

“A simple holiday in a neutral environment, away from the responsibilities of day-to-day life, can have a transformative effect. The hosts that we currently work with can clearly see that they are making a real contribution to military personnel and their families, and it ties in with their Corporate Social Responsibility.”

Reverend Gary MW Keith CF comments: “Give Us Time holidays really do provide the time and space needed to spend good quality, family time together away from the high-pressure tempo of military life. Without them I couldn’t fulfill my role in the military and I suspect that is true for many.”

To find out more or donate a holiday, please visit http://www.giveustime.org.uk/welcome-timedonor/, https://www.facebook.com/GiveUsTime/ and follow us on Twitter @GiveUsTime

Diamond Resorts Purchase Gold Key Resorts

Diamond Resorts International has announced it has completed the acquisition of the vacation ownership business of Gold Key Resorts, adding five vacation ownership resorts in Virginia Beach, VA and one in the Outer Banks, NC.

The acquisition adds two new East Coast locations to Diamond Resorts, bringing its global portfolio to a total of 99 managed resorts.

David Palmer, president and chief executive officer, Diamond Resorts International, said, “We are pleased to have completed this acquisition, which expands our presence on the East Coast and brings to Diamond Resorts a large owner base. We are confident that we can further accelerate the profitable growth of the Gold Key business through synergies and innovation.

“We look forward to providing these new vacation destination choices to our members, owners and guests, providing them with more opportunities to Stay Vacationed, and helping them create memorable vacation experiences in Virginia Beach and the Outer Banks.”

Similar to the rest of Diamond Resorts’ North America and Caribbean business, virtually all of Gold Key Resorts’ sales are to customers in the United States and Canada and transacted in U.S. dollars.

This addition will enhance existing North American and Caribbean operations, which account for more than 90 per cent of Global VOI Sales.

Virginia Beach, an East Coast vacation hotspot, boasts the Virginia Beach Boardwalk, a three mile, 28-foot wide icon dating back to 1888, which has been named in the top “Best American Boardwalks” by USA Today Weekend, Discovery Channel, Southern Living and Coastal Living.

With proximity to the boardwalk, Gold Key’s properties offer easy access to all the entertainment and recreation offerings in Virginia Beach. The property in Kitty Hawk, NC was purchased in 2014 and is undergoing extensive improvements to reposition it as a world-class, all–season resort destination in the Outer Banks.

The Gold Key resorts are in the following locations:

  • Beach Quarters Resort in Virginia Beach, VA
  • Turtle Cay Resort in Virginia Beach, VA
  • Boardwalk Resort and Villas in Virginia Beach, VA
  • Ocean Beach Club Resort in Virginia Beach, VA
  • Oceanaire Resort in Virginia Beach, VA
  • Beachwoods in Kitty Hawk, NC

Calypso Cay Joins RCI Network

Exchange organisation, RCI, has signed an affiliation agreement to add Calypso Cay Vacation Villas at Calypso Cay Resorts to its network of approximately 4,500 affiliated resorts. Located in Kissimmee, Florida, the Caribbean-themed property is fashioned as a “personal tropical island getaway.”

“We’re delighted to welcome Calypso Cay Vacation Villas to our vacation exchange program,” said Gordon Gurnik, president of RCI. “This beautiful property, which further expands RCI subscribing members’ high-quality accommodation choices in central Florida, can be an excellent option for travelers looking to escape from the hustle and bustle of the real world, while also being minutes away from some of Florida’s most well-known attractions.”

Guests staying at the Calypso Cay Vacation Villas have access to spacious and luxurious one-, two- and three-bedroom suites. For those traveling in larger groups, many of these villas can be linked to other one- or two-bedroom villas to allow for greater space and comfort. All accommodations feature large dining areas, full kitchens, entertainment centres and comfortably furnished living rooms ideal for relaxing after a long day of play.

Calypso Cay Vacation Villas feature many renovations designed to maximise guests’ fun, including a new pool deck and full-service pool bar, a sports court and a beach volleyball court. Adding to the resort’s tropical atmosphere is a beautiful picnic area with a patio, gas grills, colourful vegetation, background music and plenty of shade and seating areas to stretch out and relax.

A lushly-landscaped 18-hole miniature golf course, as well as a daily schedule of resort activities and events, can keep visitors active and happy. Located just seven miles away from popular local theme parks, guests can opt to make the short drive to their choice of exciting nearby attractions, and then return home to the peace and calm of their private villas.

“We’re thrilled to join RCI’s vacation exchange network,” said Steve Bradley, managing director of Calypso Cay Resorts. “Helping ensure that our club members receive the quality vacations they deserve is at the heart of everything we do. We’re excited that RCI shares that same mission and drive to deliver fantastic, flexible and memorable vacation options, and we look forward to continuing our partnership well into the future.”

Lake District Resorts To Focus On Australians

Breathtaking views from Latrigg near Keswick in the Lake District with Derwentwater lake in the far distance., Latrigg, Cumbria, England. Additional Credit: NWDA

Timeshare resorts in the Lake District with weeks available for rent should be targeting the Australian market as this makes up the largest number of visitor numbers to Cumbria.

This was one of the golden nuggets of information shared by expert speakers from VisitBritain, VisitEngland Delegates at this year’s Eden Tourism Summit.

Dozens of businesses gathered for the conference which took place this week at Appleby Manor Country House Hotel.

From 2010-2014 there were 151,000 visits to Cumbria from Australia, up 38 per cent from 110,000 from 2002-2006.

Australians spent a whopping £58 million in the county during that time.

Americans were the second largest group of visitors to Cumbria in that period.

Record numbers of tourists visited Eden last year, with business leaders optimistic about the outlook for 2016.

In 2014 the amount of tourists visiting the area was up 5 per cent to 4.5 million, with spend up 9 per cent to £267.7 million, accounting fro 4039 jobs, up 4 per cent on the previous year.

Richard Nicholls, head of research and forecasting at VisitBritain, shared the optimistic statistics.

He also shared some thoughts on how Eden businesses can capitalise on tourism in 2016 focusing on the importance of social media.

“We surveyed several countries and found that social media penetration in holiday decision making is growing. The Sterling has strengthened against most currencies apart from the US Dollar, and this is a challenge next year.”

Other speakers at the event included; councillor David Hymers MBE, Eden District Council’s economic development portfolio holder, Jessica Goodfellow and Sally Hemsley, joint Eden tourism manager, Patricia Yates, strategy and communications director at VisitBritain.

Jim Walker, chair of the Eden Tourism Network, chaired the event.

He said: “The Summit is industry driven and over the past three years has grown its reputation as the region’s most important event for tourism businesses to debate key issues affecting their industry and to network with operators from across the region.”

The Eden Tourism Network, co-ordinated by Eden District Council’s Tourism Team brings together a variety of Eden tourism businesses and organisations who meet on a quarterly basis at venues throughout Eden.

The Network is made up of 100 representatives from tourism businesses in Eden and provides an opportunity to share information and discuss the latest tourism developments and issues at both a local and national level.

Meetings include visiting speakers on topical issues and practical business presentations, enabling members to be informed and take away practical ideas for their own business.

For the first time in the event’s five year history, workshops took place in the afternoon to allow businesses to learn more from tourism experts.

Image courtesy of VisitBritain

CLC World Given Go-Ahead For Costa Del Sol Project

Plans to build 250 apartments at CLC World’s prestige California Beach Resort in southern Spain have been given the green light by the local authority.

The luxury project, costing around €70million, was unveiled at a meeting to which local press were invited and which was attended by the major of the coastal region Mijas Costa: Juan Carlos Maldonado, and councillor for development Andrés Ruiz.

Details were given by Salvador Díaz, director for development and construction at CLC World Resorts & Hotels. Once completed, he said the company would expect the annual number of holidaymakers to CLC Club La Costa World to rise from 90,000 to 120,000, bringing additional benefits to the local economy.

 

Work on phase one is planned to start in 2016 and Mr Díaz estimated that as construction work gets under way it will create jobs for between 300 and 500 people. Upon finish, CLC World’s workforce servicing its guests is expected to increase from the current 1,300 to 1,600.

The 250 new apartments will be built on a 25,000m2 area, with 3,000m2 dedicated to commercial outlets. Another 15,000m2, opposite the sea, will be developed as a green zone featuring Mediterranean gardens, lakes and waterfalls. The plans also include an improved access from the resort to the main coastal highway.

 

Mijas councillor Andrés Ruiz said: “Thanks to CLC World we can look forward to the creation of more jobs for the people in our municipality and a wonderful contribution to the environment with the creation of the green zone.”

Mayor Maldonado said: I am delighted to see the confidence in our area that CLC World has in committing itself to this project, as well as its determination to play a part in our area’s well-being. In the future, other businesses will want to come to our area and CLC World is a symbol to them and a model of a successful business that has succeeded in bringing excellence here.”

Mr Díaz concluded: “This project takes us a step up in the excellent standards of quality already offered in Mijas Costa. It is no surprise that we should choose to carry out a project of this magnitude here as we have full confidence in the Costa del Sol and its tourism potential.”

Celebrity Chef Visits CLC World Resort

Fans of TV and radio cookery shows will recognise celebrity chef Cyrus Todiwala, who recently took time out from the kitchen to enjoy a holiday with friends at CLC Club La Costa World resort on the Costa del Sol.

A regular contributor on BBC’s Saturday Kitchen, he is author of several renowned cookery books such as The Incredible Spice Men, linked to a prime time BBC TV series of the same name which saw both him and Scottish Chef Tony Singh spice up some favourite British dishes.

Having been extremely busy with his TV and radio shows, as well as writing, teaching and running his successful restaurants with wife Pervin, Cyrus decided to swap the heat of the kitchen for some late summer warmth on the Costa del Sol.

Members of CLC World for the past 15 years, the Todiwalas arrived for their break with friends and were keen to seek out restaurants serving typical Spanish food. Their own world-renowned and award winning restaurant Café Spice Namasté is celebrating 20 years.

As well as running the family restaurant empire, Cyrus’s commitments include charity fundraising with involvement in a forthcoming dinner in aid of breast cancer; education and training initiatives for young people; and a deep interest in the environment and sustainability.

Food fit for a Queen

Awarded an MBE for services to skills development and training and an OBE for his contribution to the hospitality industry, this super busy chef also cooked for the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh for the Diamond Jubilee celebrations!

The Todawalas trip to the Costa del Sol was being followed by another visit to a CLC World resort, this time CLC Duchally in Scotland to coincide with Cyrus attending the Master Chefs of Great Britain annual lunch and AGM in Edinburgh. He said: “We enjoy the relaxed atmosphere and it’s the perfect place to base ourselves for the Master Chefs event.”

CLC World is a TATOC affiliate.

DAE Lunches Set To Continue

Holiday exchange company DAE (Dial An Exchange) is celebrating a year of success with its innovative VIP lunches.

The lunches, which were launched in October 2014, are an exciting way of bringing together committee members and resort owners/managers from different resorts. The aim of the lunches is to enable sharing of ideas, build new relationships and develop a network of helpful contacts, all in a relaxed and informal setting.

Over the past year the events have been held around the U.K. including in the Lake District, Scotland, Birmingham, Reading and Exeter.

DAE managing director Europe, Oliver Green, said: “The lunches have proved a great success. It can only be good for the industry if we can bring members, resort owners and managers together. The lunches are a great way of sharing and learning from each other, and they are going from strength to strength.”

Mahindra Holidays Aims To Rejuvenate Holiday Club

Mahindra Holidays has started to set out its plans for the rejuvenation of TATOC platinum affiliate Holiday Club Resorts (HCR) after raising its stake in the company to 88 per cent earlier this year.

According to The Economic Times of India, Mahindra Holidays – the hospitality arm of Mahindra Group – has developed a turnaround strategy for the Finland-based timeshare operator, which has resorts in Finland (24), Sweden (two) and Spain (six).

Mahindra Holidays originally acquired an 18.8 per cent stake in HCR last year, and recently raised it to 88 per  cent, taking its total investment in HCR to Rs 350 crore.

Arun Nanda, chairman of Mahindra Holidays, said the company plans to pare the debt by consolidation of HCR’s assets and infusion of equity, according to the Economic Times report.

He told the paper that the company would be taking “aggressive steps” to sell older inventory and reduce the debt. Other assets including shopping malls and a golf courses would potentially be sold to raise liquidity, and Mahindra Holidays would also invest more money to  “acquire more land and partly to reduce debt”.

After consolidating assets, Nanda said the company would look at further acquisitions in Europe.

Cameron House Hotel Sold Again

The five-star Cameron House Hotel on the banks of Loch Lomond has changed hands for the second time in just a year.

The award-winning resort has been sold by QHotels to the American investment firm that owns the Belfry golf course near Birmingham.

QHotels had only purchased the hotel from the De Vere group last November.

It is understood KSL Capital Partners has paid between £70 million and £80 million for the 132-room property, which has two courses, a spa and 184 timeshare lodges.

Cameron House, which comprises a golf club, spa and a Michelin-starred Martin Wishart restaurant, was once a regular haunt for the Scottish national football side, and has played host to many celebrity weddings.

KSL had been seen as a likely bidder for Cameron House and De Vere’s other golf venues when they went on the market last year.

It was also one of the unsuccessful bidders for Gleneagles when it came on the market for around £150million earlier this year.

Sharetime will keep readers updated when more information about the seasonal ownership lodges at Cameron House has been released.

RCI Welcomes 3 Maldives Resorts To Network

RCI has announced the addition of three properties in the Maldives to its exchange network through an affiliation with AAA Hotels & Resorts.

The affiliation adds a new destination to the RCI exchange network, offering members access to high-quality resorts in the famous tropical destination known for its beaches, blue lagoons and extensive reefs.

Pali Badwal, managing director, RCI India, said: “Maldives is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world, with its emerald green islands surrounded by miles of shimmering turquoise water, and members can now travel there through RCI. We look forward to a long and mutually beneficial relationship with AAA Hotels & Resorts.”

Ahmed Hamza, deputy managing director of AAA Hotels & Resorts, said: “It is with immense pleasure that we commence our partnership with RCI. We believe that AAA Hotels & Resorts and RCI can together bring synergy that will enhance the services we offer our customers.

“I’m sure AAA Hotels & Resorts and RCI will deliver our promise to our customer: a great experience for future travels.”

AAA Hotels & Resorts is a pioneer in tourism and the hospitality industry with unparalleled and impeccable service. The three resorts now affiliated with RCI are:

  • Medhufushi Island Resort – A four-star resort located at Meemu Atoll, south of Male, with 120 villas
  • Filitheyo Island Resort – A four-star resort located at Faafu Atoll, south of Male, with 125 villas
  • Bathala Island Resort – A four-star resort located at Alif Alif Atoll, south of Male, with 46 villas

Macdonald Resorts Achieve RCI Gold Crown Status

Macdonald Hotels & Resorts has been awarded the highest accolade by RCI, a  leading provider of holiday exchange services after feedback from more than 1,100 domestic and international guests who are also RCI members.

RCI has awarded its RCI Gold Crown quality rating for 2016 to eight Macdonald Resorts which host RCI guests across Europe.

The RCI Gold Crown award is given to resorts which meet exacting standards in areas such as housekeeping, maintenance, hospitality and check-in/check-out procedures, as well as satisfying an evaluation of resort facilities, amenities and services.

All RCI members are invited to complete a comment card on return from a stay in an RCI-affiliated resort and their scores are used as the basis for the RCI resort quality ratings.

On the award Simon Jackson, CEO of Macdonald Resorts, said: “We constantly strive to offer the best resort experiences available anywhere in the world and the fact that so many guests clearly recognise and appreciate our efforts is tremendously welcome news.

“It’s a resounding endorsement of the high standards of service our people deliver every day.”

RCI Gold Crown is the highest of the three RCI awards and it is the first time Macdonald Hotels & Resorts has gained the RCI Gold Crown award across eight of its nine resorts, with Lochanhully achieving the RCI Silver Crown award.

Simon Jackson continues: “We are proud that no matter where guests stay, across our portfolio in Spain, England, Wales or Scotland, they always enjoy the warmest welcome, great food and the attention with which the Macdonald brand has become synonymous.”

RCI has more than 40 years’ experience of running timeshare resorts and has a community of 3.8 million timeshare owner members who access more than 4,500 resorts in over 100 countries through RCI’s Weeks and Points exchange programmes.

Dimitris Manikis, VP, Business Development, RCI Europe, Middle East and Africa, said: “Delivering a quality holiday experience to our members lies at the heart of our core purpose and promise. It means everything to RCI to know that our members can be assured of a consistency of quality in the resorts we send them to and for that reason we applaud and congratulate Macdonald Resorts for investing in meeting and exceeding the expectations of our members, as is evident from the feedback we have received.”

Macdonald Hotels & Resorts is privately owned and has been offering guests fine hospitality options for 25 years. It operates over 40 hotels across the UK and has resorts in the UK, Spain and Portugal.

All Macdonald Resorts are TATOC members and three have achieved TATOC Resort Accreditation.

Timeshareforsaleonline Affiliates With TATOC

The Timeshare Association (Timeshare Owners and Committees), widely known as TATOC, has announced the successful affiliation of timeshare resale company, TimeshareForSaleOnline.com

Headed up by Anthony (Tony) Bugg, the website has been in operation for some time providing private timeshare re-sales. The team works with other resale businesses in Europe, the Middle East, Asia, Africa and the U.S. to resell other vacation-style products.

Currently in development, and set to launch this month, is a new auction website, OwnersTimeshareAuctions.com. This will run alongside the main resale business and will assist private owners at resorts that will not work with third party resale businesses.

With over 30 years’ experience in the timeshare industry, Mr Bugg explained his decision to affiliate his business with TATOC: “We are very pleased to have become affiliates members of TATOC and appreciate the work they do for the industry – we sincerely wish to be part of its future.”

Harry Taylor, TATOC’s executive chairman commented: “I was delighted when Tony asked if his business could affiliate with TATOC as it shows his commitment to the timeshare consumer and providing them with the very best service. As an affiliate, Tony and his team will comply with the Association’s Code of Conduct and Code of Practice so owners can be reassured when they are using their services.”

The Timeshare Association (Timeshare Owners and Committees), known as TATOC, was formed over 25 years ago and is the only elected consumer association representing the interests of timeshare owners and their HOA/committees in Europe.

The mission of TATOC is to safeguard and enhance the timeshare holiday experience for existing and prospective users and to be the voice of owners.

In recent years, TATOC has worked hard to increase its membership base of timeshare resorts and individual members. It also works with legitimate timeshare business through its affiliation programme.

All TATOC affiliated businesses must comply with the Association’s strict Code of Conduct and are regularly monitored to ensure they provide the highest standards of customer service and comply with all legislation.

The not-for-profit Association is now an informed point of contact and authority on all timeshare matters and is a regular, unbiased contributor to the consumer press. The team works closely with the U.K.’s Trading Standards offices, law enforcement, Citizen’s Advice Bureau, the Competition and Markets Authority (formerly the OFT) and other authorities.

TATOC CEO and executive chairman, Harry Taylor, is regularly interviewed on national radio and features in the industry press.

TATOC Affiliates Grand Holidays Club

Leading consumer organisation, The Timeshare Association (Timeshare Owners and Committees), widely known as TATOC, has announced the successful affiliation of Spanish hospitality brand, Grand Holidays Club.

Based in Tenerife, Canary Islands, and with more than 20 years’ experience in the holiday ownership industry, Grand Holidays Club’s mission is to provide unique and unforgettable vacation experiences in prime locations for the discerning traveller.

Today, the resort portfolio comprises three resorts located in Tenerife, Fuerteventura and Lanzarote: the Flamingo Club, Oasis Lanz and Atlantic Garden with over 6,000 members owning fixed weeks and points.

The business is constantly evolving to ensure that members’ expectations are always exceeded – with improved holiday flexibility and additional choice, comfort and service.

There are plans to extend the portfolio and exciting new products and improvements will be introduced in 2016.

Kim Smallwood, member services at Grand Holidays Club explained: “We fully support the mission of the Association and firmly believe that the link provided by TATOC between the consumer and the developer is vital.

“In this way, we may address the problems that the industry is facing and promote a more positive attitude towards the timeshare experience in general.  We are extremely pleased to have been accepted as a Platinum affiliate and will strive to offer our continual support to the association.”

Harry Taylor, TATOC’s executive chairman added: “In order to protect timeshare owners it is important we have a strong and legitimate industry providing the quality holidays consumers have purchased. TATOC’s affiliation programme recognises such companies, so I was delighted when Grand Holidays Club applied, and was subsequently approved, for affiliation. We look forward to working with them.”

The Timeshare Association (Timeshare Owners and Committees), known as TATOC, was formed over 25 years ago and is the only elected consumer association representing the interests of timeshare owners and their HOA/committees in Europe.

The mission of TATOC is to safeguard and enhance the timeshare holiday experience for existing and prospective users and to be the voice of owners.

In recent years, TATOC has worked hard to increase its membership base of timeshare resorts and individual members. It also works with legitimate timeshare business through its affiliation programme.

All TATOC affiliated businesses must comply with the Association’s strict Code of Conduct and are regularly monitored to ensure they provide the highest standards of customer service and comply with all legislation.

The not-for-profit Association is now an informed point of contact and authority on all timeshare matters and is a regular, unbiased contributor to the consumer press. The team works closely with the U.K.’s Trading Standards offices, law enforcement, Citizen’s Advice Bureau, the Competition and Markets Authority (formerly the OFT) and other authorities.

TATOC CEO and executive chairman, Harry Taylor, is regularly interviewed on national radio and features in the industry press.

For further information about TATOC, the Timeshare Association, and the TATOC Affiliation programme, please contact Mr Harry Taylor by email at: harry.taylor@tatoc.co.uk or by telephone on: +44 (0) 161 237 3518. Alternatively, visit the TATOC website here: www.tatoc.co.uk