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					AIRLINE NEWS

 AF-KLM - Air France-KLM faces delays on the arrival of its new
  long-haul fleet - The Independent

Air France-KLM group, the airline giant, could have to wait until 2015 to
start replacing its ageing long-haul fleet. KLM's chief executive, Peter
Hartman, said he had hoped new planes would start arriving by 2012, but
is still waiting to place orders with Boeing and Airbus. The manufacturers
have assured him they have the capacity, but he is waiting for
clarification on delivery dates.

 BA - BA faces 'guerrilla campaign' as it bids to halt strike because
  of 'illegal' tweet - Telegraph

The warning of a switch away from conventional strike action by the
Unite union comes as the beleaguered airline prepares for four weeks of
almost continuous walkouts set to cost it an estimated £138 million. But,
in a highly unusual move, the company is hoping to halt the strikes,
which it says will affect ―millions‖ of travellers, with the help of a rogue
internet ―tweet‖. The message, sent to Unite members on the Twitter
website, is set to play a central role in an eleventh-hour High Court
challenge today against four back-to-back five-day stoppages. It wants a
judge to declare the strike ballot unlawful because it failed to meet a legal
requirement to provide everyone who took part with a full breakdown of
results - including how many votes were cast; how many voted for
industrial action; how many voted against and the number of spoiled
papers. According to documents seen by The Daily Telegraph, Unite
provided the information to BA, but not to its members, many of whom
would have been abroad at the time the result was declared in February.
Given that cabin crew were located around the world, the use of the
internet including Unite's "Twitter" site assumed crucial importance in
complying with the law. Philip Hammond, the Transport Secretary, and
the conciliation service Acas are both due to hold last minute talks with
the two sides in an effort to avert the strikes which begin on Tuesday. The
walkouts – which would hit families who have booked overseas breaks
over half-term in two weeks time – come as BA prepares to announce
record annual losses and suffers further disruption from the volcanic ash
cloud. Court papers show that last month‘s volcanic ash lockdown cost
BA up to £120 million on top of £45 million in extra losses from the
seven days of strike action in March. But Duncan Holley, a branch
secretary of the British Airline Stewards and Stewardesses Association
(Bassa), part of Unite, said that if no agreement is reached, the union
could switch to a an unpredictable ―guerrilla campaign‖ designed to sow
confusion among customers for up to a year. Mr Holley, who was sacked
by BA for ―gross misconduct‖ earlier this month, said: "Obviously the
financial aspect of a strike is hitting crews very hard"They have been
living from hand to mouth and perhaps an all-out strike is not sustainable.
"We could call a one day strike every three weeks or call a strike and then
cancel.

 BA - BA strikes: £40k steward Nigel Stott too ill to fly... but not to
  stand on picket line - Mail Online

This is union kingpin Nigel Stott on the British Airways picket line -
despite being too ill to do his job as a steward. Firebrand Mr Stott earns
about £40,000 as a senior steward yet has not 'pushed a trolley' in months
because of illness. And as thousands of travellers face their holidays
being ruined by the strikes, we can reveal Mr Stott himself has had a vast
amount of leave in the past year. Mr Stott, the worldwide convenor of the
Bassa branch of the Unite union, took about 14 weeks' leave last year,
missing many key talks with the airline intended to prevent the industrial
action in the bitter row over jobs, pay and staffing levels. Last year, he
took off the end of April, the whole of May and nearly two weeks in
June. Then he was absent again for the whole of November, just as the
union and BA were gearing up for their clash at Christmas, when Bassa
tried to call a 12-day strike. Since then, Mr Scott, who has a suspected
heart condition, has taken a break from flying duties altogether, although
he does report for 'ground work'. One stewardess said: 'Steve Turner [the
union's national officer] was overheard shouting at Nigel, asking why he
had been on holiday so long. They are all at each other's throats and a lot
of us are fed up with them representing us. 'Nigel has got everyone out
on strike, but won't be much out of pocket himself because he barely
flies. 'He'll lose a day or two's "ground work" earnings, but his fellow
comrades will be docked a week's pay for missing their duty on long-haul
flights.' When asked why he had taken so much time off, Mr Stott said it
was because his mother had died. However, public death records suggest
his mother, Beryl Stott, died on April 26, 2008. The Mail again contacted
Mr Stott to ask why he needed to take 70 days off last year when his
mother died two years ago He refused to take the calls, instead passing
the request to Bassa's spokesman, Pauline Doyle. She said Mr Stott had
been owed so much time off because he had combined his holiday
entitlement for last year with his unused entitlement carried over from
2008. He had not used his holiday entitlement in 2008 because he had
been signed off work to look after his sick mother. 'Nigel Stott is not on
sick leave,' she said. 'He has been assessed by BA's health authorities as
not fit to fly. He has a suspected heart condition. At his own insistence he
returned to work but was placed on ground duties. 'BA then assigned Mr
Stott to trade union duties. He has gone on strike from these duties. Mr
Stott will need to be reassessed before he is allowed to return to flying
and will return to ground duties when this strike period concludes.'

 CZECH AIRLINES - The Czech Airlines Route to Minsk,
  Belarus, Celebrates Five Years - Press Release

On Sunday 16 May marked the fifth anniversary since the launch of
scheduled air service to Belarus‘ capital, Minsk. Whereas in the first year
of operation, Czech Airlines offered four flights a week on the route,
today, passengers can travel every day. In the last five years, more than
120,000 passengers have used the Prague – Minsk return flight. Last year,
it was more than 30,000 passengers, which in a year-on-year comparison
means a 19% increase in interest. Over the course of five years, more
than 1,400 tonnes of post and cargo were carried on the route, as well.
The service between Prague and Minsk is used primarily by business and
transit passengers who then continue onward to another destination,
whether in Western or Eastern Europe. The departure and arrival times of
each flight are set such that passengers could comfortably transfer to
connecting flights at either airport. During the summer flight schedule (28
March through 30 October 2010), Czech Airlines flies to Minsk on
Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays, and Sundays with a scheduled departure
at 11:45 and return at 15:15. On the remaining days, connections are
ensured in code-share cooperation with the Belarusian airline Belavia.
The scheduled departure of those flights to Prague is at 9:35 and 13:40,
with a return at 11:10 and 15:15. In addition to flights to Minsk, Czech
Airlines offers flights to other countries in the East European region
throughout the week. Passengers can thus visit destinations in Russia,
Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, and Ukraine.

 EASYJET - Easy name may go in Stelios row - Times Online

Easyjet has drawn up plans to drop the Easy name if it cannot resolve a
bitter row with the airline‘s founder, Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou. ―You
would expect us to have looked at this and we have. We do not want to
lose the Easy name but if you are facing a flood you put up flood
barriers,‖ a board member said yesterday. The company could until
recently have revived Go, the name used by the low-cost airline set up by
former British Airways executive Barbara Cassani. Easyjet bought Go in
2002 but sold the brand last year for $1m (£688,000). A simmering
dispute between Stelios and the company exploded on Friday, with
Stelios resigning from the board. He said he had stepped down to speak
freely about his concerns with the way the company was being run. ―The
gag is off,‖ he said. He accused Andy Harrison, the chief executive, of
pursuing a reckless expansion programme and buying too many aircraft.
The company has rejected the claim, saying the airline‘s founder agreed
to all aircraft deals and the commercial strategy along with the rest of the
board. Harrison has defended himself by pointing out that Easyjet was
one of the few airlines to remain profitable during the recession. ―I have
felt for a long time that the management is pursuing the wrong strategy
for the expansion of the business. The share price has been flat for a
decade and there have been no dividends. How can you buy 200 aircraft
with shareholders‘ money and create no wealth for shareholders,‖ Stelios
said. Company insiders say his resignation may be linked to a court case
next month over the use of the Easy brand. An agreement that dates from
the company‘s stock market debut a decade ago stipulates it can only earn
one-quarter from selling non-airline products, such as car hire,
accommodation and food. The case, which is expected to clarify the
meaning of the agreement, is expected to start in the High Court on June
8, and run for several weeks. Stelios said his resignation was not linked to
the brand dispute. ―It is a completely separate issue,‖ he said. ―This is
about aircraft, not the brand.‖ The founder said he had decided to quit
ahead of a board meeting next month at which he expected more aircraft
deliveries to be discussed. He said he would consult other shareholders
next week about calling an extraordinary meeting at which strategy could
be discussed. Sources close to Easyjet‘s board said the other directors
would welcome the opportunity to put the issue to shareholders. Stelios,
who set up Easyjet in 1995, still controls 38% of the group when his own
shareholding is added to that of his family

 EGYPTAIR - EGYPTAIR will fly to Copenhagen starting 1ST
  October 2010 - Press Release

On 1st October 2010, EGYPTAIR will offer 3 flights a week to
Copenhagen on Wednesday, Friday and Sunday using B738 with
configuration 24 Business Class and 120 Economy Class. The Cairo –
Copenhagen flights depart at 10:00 am And arrive at Copenhagen at
13:45 pm. Return flights depart Copenhagen at 14:45pm and arrive
in Cairo at 20:20 pm

 IATA - Premium Traffic Monitor March 2010 - Press Release
The number of passengers travelling in first and business class seats on
international markets rose 10.8% in March from the levels seen the
previous year. For the first quarter of 2010 premium travel volumes were
up 7.6% on the previous year. In fact the number of people travelling on
premium seats was expanding at a very strong annualised rate of 25% in
the first quarter. The impact of the volcanic ash plume in April will have
put a dent into that expansion, we hope temporarily, cutting overall
international travel numbers by an estimated 4%. Economy travel was
8.8% higher in March this year than a year ago. In the first quarter of
2010 its level averaged 7.4% higher than a year ago. This is similar to the
same comparison for premium travel. However, looking at the pace of
expansion from the fourth quarter to the first it is clear that premium
travel had the stronger impetus. Economy travel was expanding at a
respectable but slower annualised pace of 10%. Of course both travel
classes have been rebounding from the very low levels of 2009.
Comparing the number of people travelling, adjusted for seasonality, with
pre-recession levels in early 2008, economy travel recovered to those
levels by March this year. However, despite faster recent growth,
premium travel volumes were still some 15% below their pre-recession
levels. Growth in both seat classes are being driven by business travel,
rather than leisure. As business confidence and world trade have turned
up sharply business travellers have returned. Consumer confidence has
not recovered in the same way as business confidence. Higher levels of
unemployment and consumer debt have led to little improvement since
the mid-2009 rebound. This is likely to slow the recovery in leisure
travel. Within Far East travel continues to show the strongest growth with
this premium market almost 24% higher in the first quarter than the
previous year. At the other end of the spectrum growth in travel was
much weaker Within Europe and across the North Atlantic. Premium
travel Within Europe was down 3.1% in the first quarter

 LUFTHANSA - Lufthansa launches new route to Bursa, Turkey -
  Press Release

Lufthansa is introducing a new service to Bursa in western Turkey on 1
August 2010. The city will then become the fourth destination in Turkey
after Istanbul, Ankara and Izmir to be served direct from Germany by
Lufthansa. The new route will initially be operated from Munich with an
Airbus A319. From September, a CityLine Embraer E95 will be
deployed. ―Bursa is one of the biggest growth markets in Turkey. For
business travellers, Lufthansa is thus offering an additional direct flight to
an important economic and tourist region,‖ said Thomas Klühr, Group
Representative and Head of Hub Management Munich. The launch of the
new service to Bursa brings to ten the number of new destinations
Lufthansa has added to its flight network from Munich. This summer,
Lufthansa customers will thus have a choice of 117 destinations in 44
countries. Bursa is the fourth-largest city in Turkey, with a population of
about three million. Renowned corporations, including numerous
companies in the automobile industry, the machine manufacturing sector
and the textile processing and manufacturing industry, have set up
branches in this part of western Turkey. The region around Bursa also has
many tourist attractions. The nearby Uludag Mountains are famous for
their hot springs and numerous spa resorts, including Uludag, the largest
and most popular winter sports centre in Turkey. The round-trip fare
from Munich to Bursa starts at 99 euros. This price applies to Economy
Class and includes all taxes, fees and the Lufthansa Ticket Service
Charge of 10 euros if the booking is made online at www.lufthansa.com.
Miles & More members can earn miles on these flights. Reservations can
be made via the Lufthansa Call Center in Germany on this number:
01805 805 805 (calls made within the German landline network cost
€0.14/min; calls from mobile networks will be charged up to a maximum
of €0.42/min). Customers in Austria can reach the Lufthansa Call Center
on 0810 1025 8080 (€0.13/min; charges for calls from mobile networks
may vary). For callers in Switzerland, the number is 0900 900 922 (for
German speakers) and 0900 900 933 (for French speakers). Customers
can also book their flights through Lufthansa-designated travel agencies
or at Lufthansa sales counters at airports.

 TURKISH AIRLINES - Turkey's national carrier may engage in
  cooperation with Russia - Hurriyet Daily News and Economic
  Review

The establishment of a new airline company by Turkish Airlines, or
THY, and Russia‘s Aeroflot has come to the agenda during talks between
Turkish and Russian officials Thursday. The historic agreement signed
between the two countries to build a nuclear power plant in southern
Turkey has become a catalyst for strengthening links in other sectors,
from poultry to construction and from tourism to aviation. ―The lifting of
restrictions on visa requirements between Turkey and Russia [will be] of
great importance in terms of tourism and trade relations,‖ said Ahmet
Barut, chairman of the Turkish Hotels Federation, or TÜROFED. ―An
increase in flights between the two countries is surely expected, thanks to
these agreements. This situation makes joint venture projects between the
two countries an important prospect,‖ Barut said. ―Within this scope, a
joint venture airline between THY and Aeroflot may be revealed.‖ The
number of Russian tourists coming to Turkey, which was nearly 2.6
million last year, may exceed 3 million with the removal of visas, noted
Barut. ―This figure may reach 5 million within three years. Russia may
get ahead of Germany, which is now in the leading position with its 4
million visitors coming to Turkey,‖ he said. Even though there has not
been an official agreement on the construction industry during the visit of
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, it is one of the key sectors that is
hopeful of improving ties. ―President Medvedev noted that he wants to
work with more Turkish contractors,‖ said Erdal Eren, chairman of the
Turkish Contractors Association. ―The positive approach of Medvedev
toward the construction sector gave us hope, especially for future
investments within the scope of the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics,‖ said
Mehmet Okay, a board member of Ant Yapı, a Turkish construction
company. Turkish constructors may grab a sizeable share from potential
revenue worth $25 billion, including $10 billion from the Sochi Olympics
projects, Okay said

 TURKISH AIRLINES - Turkish Airlines eye carriers in Poland,
  Serbia - CNBC

Turkish Airlines wants to buy troubled Polish air carrier LOT and already
is in talks with Serbian JAT, the company's chief executive Temel Kotil
told Rzeczpospolita daily on Monday. Last month Kotil told Reuters the
airline would rather focus on organic growth and expanding its own
operations, although did not rule out acquisitions. "Our expansion is
inevitable, but we don't have to immediately buy majority stakes ... Yes,
we want to buy LOT," Kotil said. "We are also talking to Serbian JAT. In
Central Europe I am only interested in LOT, because it fits our business
model." Poland wants to sell its stake in the troubled Polish carrier in
2011 after first restructuring the airline which has suffered heavily from
the industry's global crisis. Turkish Airlines first wants to create a joint
venture with LOT on selected connections and also wants to transform
the Warsaw airport into an international hub. "Poland's capital has a great
location and that asset has not been utilised before," Kotil added.
PRODUCT & COUNTRY WATCH

 MALTA - Malta photo exhibition opens - Cyprus Mail

A PHOTO exhibition showing off the scenic delights of Malta was
opened last night at the Ledra Information Office in Nicosia by Nicosia
Mayor Eleni Mavrou. The stage for the official opening was set by the
45-strong Saint Sebastian Marching Band from Qormi village in Malta,
which paraded from Eleftheria Square down Ledra Street. The portfolio
of photos by Clive Vella chosen for the ―Visit Malta‖ exhibition captures
an eclectic mix of landscapes, seascapes, history and urban beauty from
all over the Maltese Archipelago, comprising Malta, Gozo and Comino.
From the prehistoric Ggantija Temples on Gozo, via the natural majesty
and power of the Ta Cenc Cliffs and the Azure Window, to the
architectural heritage of the Mdina Gate and St.John‘s Co-Cathedral in
Valleta, the images on show are part of the efforts by the Malta Tourism
Authority (MTA) to further promote tourism between two Mediterranean
islands which have some things in common but also significant
differences. Emirates Airline manager for Cyprus and Malta Paul Fleri
Soler said that the airline – which is co-sponsoring the exhibition with the
MTA and Nicosia Municipality – already carries 30,000 passengers
between the islands on its Malta-Dubai route. MTA History and Culture
Head Dominic Micallef explained that the exhibit is divided into three
main themes: archaeology, among other things highlighting the fact that
Malta is home to UNESCO World Heritage sites that predate Stonehenge
and the Great Pyramids of Egypt by hundreds of years; the natural beauty
of places like the Blue Lagoon; and the country‘s architectural heritage.

 MALTA - Malta Pavilion shines on its National Pavilion Day -
  Shanghai World Expo

Malta is a southern European consisting of an archipelago in the
Mediterranean Sea. Malta established diplomatic relations with China in
1972, and since then the two countries have maintained friendly
cooperation with increased trade. Alan Camilleri, the chief representative
of the Malta Pavilion, attended the ceremony. He said that Malta looked
forward to further cooperation and exchange with China in economy,
culture, education, health and civil affairs. The Malta Pavilion stands in
the Joint European Pavilion I in Zone C with the theme ―8,000 years – A
Life Center.‖ Different exhibition sections are connected by high-tech
facilities such as intelligent lighting and audio-visual systems. Movable
booths, various sculptures, giant rocks and displays on the evolution of
historical cities are exhibited using sophisticated audio-visual
technologies to showcase the complexity and development trends of
Malta‘s modern cities. The exhibit also invites visitors to enjoy Malta‘s
unique beauty.

 GOZO - Five star Villas for two star Prices - The Guardian

Ta' Marie, Gozo: This charming Gozitan townhouse is tucked away in
the hilltop village of Zebbug in the north of the island. Inside you'll find
four bedrooms, four bathrooms (one with a freestanding rolltop bath) and
an open-plan living area, mixing stained-glass windows, exposed
stonework and antique furniture. Outside there's a courtyard-style terrace
with a swimming pool, built-in barbecue, large Jacuzzi and roof terrace
that features views across the village rooftops to the famous Ta' Pinu
basilica. Price from £1,150 per week (£192 per person). Sleeps 6. Book it
vintagetravel.co.uk. Other villas in other destinations are also listed.

 AUSTRIA - 6th World Meeting of Bulgarian Media Starts in
  Vienna - Novinite.com

The 6th edition of the world meeting of the Bulgarian media will start in
the Austrian capital Vienna on Monday. The four-day forum bringing
together representatives of media from Bulgaria and from the Bulgarian
communities around the world will be opened by Prime Minister Boyko
Borisov. Minister of Culture Vezhdi Rashidov, Minister of Regional
Development Rosen Plevneliev, and Sofia Mayor Yordanka Fandakova
will be the other top government guests. Rashidov is going to open two
Bulgarian exhibits at the Bulgarian Cultural Institute in the Austrian
capital. A number of other cultural events are planned as part of the
meeting of the Bulgarian media.

 AUSTRIA - Vienna’s Natural History Museum to have a new
  chief - Austrian Times Online

Christian Köberl will become new general director of Vienna‘s Natural
History Museum (NHM) on 1 June. He said he had several initiatives
planned for NHM. The first will be the reorganisation of the dinosaur
room and installation of a moving dinosaur model. In September, there
will be a special exhibition on speleology, one of the museum‘s 11
scientific divisions, that will last for two years. In addition, the meteorite
room will be modernised, and the anthropological collection will be
reorganised. Reorganisation of other rooms will follow at the beginning
of 2012, and a bio-diversity or evolution room may be set up. NHM will
also have a new outside appearance and a new website, according to
Köberl

 AUSTRIA - Vienna Underground admits emergency stop was
  disconnected - Austrian Independent Online

Vienna underground bosses have admitted they disconnected the
emergency stopping system in their trains which led to a five-year-old
boy being dragged down a platform by his feet after he was trapped in the
doors. Florian Resetarits has been in an artificial coma at a Vienna
hospital after he was dragged down the platform and only freed when his
body hit the mouth of the tunnel - smashing both his legs as the force of
the collision pulled him free from the door. Now red-faced Vienna
Underground bosses have admitted that although several passengers had
pulled the emergency stop when they realised what was happening, the
train had carried on anyway because the emergency stop did not work in
the tunnel and instead had been reprogrammed to allow users simply: "to
speak to the driver". A spokesman for Vienna Underground confirmed
that the emergency stop did not work once the train had started to move
into the tunnel and that instead when it was pulled it open and automatic
connection to the driver. However as the two tourists that had both pulled
the emergency brake did not speak English or German the train had
carried on anyway. The decision to disconnect the emergency stop had
apparently been introduced after the Kaprun disaster when a fire broke
out in an ascending railway car in the tunnel of the Gletscherbahn railway
in Kaprun, Austria, on 11 November 2000. The disaster claimed the lives
of 155 people with just 12 survivors but experts say the blaze on the
mountain railway was totally different because it had started in a car at
the bottom of a steep incline - which drew up air from below creating a
blast furnace effect. In contrast Vienna underground tunnels are on the
level meaning the same phenomenon could not occur

 ARGENTINA - Argentina mulling tourism products tailored for
  Qatar - Gulf Times

Argentina is considering designing tour and travel packages for tourists
from Qatar and the region as Qatar Airways gears up to launch flights to
Buenos Aires on June 24, a senior Argentinean official has said. Tourism
Promotion Argentina director Leonardo Boto said that he would be
discussing with his counterparts at the Qatar Tourism Authority (QTA)
and the national airline about the prospects for such packages for tourists
to the South American country. ―Qatar Airways is the first Middle
Eastern carrier to fly to our country. We look forward to welcoming your
national airline as it launches daily flights to Buenos Aires on June 24,‖
Boto said in an interview with Gulf Times here yesterday. He said Doha
could possibly become a hub for travellers to and from South America,
particularly Sao Paulo and Buenos Aires, as these two cities are home to
thousands of Arabs. ―Currently, they don‘t have direct air links to the
countries from where their forefathers originally came from. I strongly
believe Qatar Airways will address this issue and its services to our
country will be a huge success,‖ Boto said. The new air service would
also boost cargo traffic between Asia and Latin America, Boto said. He
said the emerging Asia, China and India in particular, was ―very
significant‖ to Argentina. With the economy of these two countries
rapidly developing, there are strong prospects for better tourism ties
between Latin America and Asia. ―I understand Qatar is already well-
connected to these two Asian giants,‖ he said. Boto said Argentina has lot
to offer tourists. It has beautiful mountains, ski resorts, lakes, national
parks and water falls among other attractions. Iguazu Falls, located on the
northeast of Argentina, are among the ―best known‖ water falls in the
world. Argentina‘s Las Leas ski resort is also world-famous. For tourists
who enjoy music and dance, Argentina offers Tango dance and music,
which have their origins in Buenos Aires.

 BELGIUM - Bière we go... to Belgium - WalesOnline

Who ever said the Belgians were boring? Walk into one of Brussels‘
many fine bars and you can have hundreds of beers to choose from, as
BELINDA SZONERT discovered... IF your image of Brussels is a city
of stuffy bureaucrats and glass-fronted skyscrapers, it might be time to
discover the true flavour of the buzzing Belgian capital. There wasn‘t a
suit or briefcase in sight when the Grand‘Place, the magnificent central
square in the heart of Brussels, was transformed into a sea of stalls
offering the best Belgian beer. The country produces an incredible
diversity of beers, from the palest concoctions to others the colour of
treacle, and the Belgian Beer Weekend in September is a great
opportunity to try them Although beer takes centre stage in the
festivities, Brussels has many other diversions for tourists not tempted by
the amber nectar. To get a feel for the city‘s history, begin your tour in
the magnificent Grand‘Place, an impressive collection of Gothic and
Flemish renaissance buildings topped with dazzling gilt detail and
sculpted stone. It was rebuilt in four years after being flattened by the
French in 1695. The Grand‘Place is magical, even more so at night. Or
you can take a walk to the Marolles quarter where, on Sundays, the flea
market, or the ‗vieux marche‘ (old market), is a great place to bag a
bargain. Strolling through the vibrant heart of the capital, it‘s hard to
imagine that the European quarter around the EU‘s Berlaymont building
is a stone‘s throw away, with politicians and civil servants from 27
different countries going about their business. Their spending power has
boosted the city. Prices are sky high in the chocolate shops of Place du
Grand Sablon, while Rue Dansaert has top fashion and designer names.
Short-break visitors with a Brussels Card (£20) get three days free travel
and entrance to the main museums. One of the best, The Museum of Fine
and Modern Arts in Rue de la Regence, has works by the Belgian
Primitives, including Bruegel the Elder, and the surrealist Réné Magritte.

 BOSNIA & HERZEGOVINA - Travel agencies aim to send Turks
  to Bosnia - Hurriyet Daily News and Economic Review

Turkish travel agencies aim to send Turkish tourists in 2010 to Bosnia
and Herzegovina, which has plenty of natural beauty and historical
attractions. Executives from the leading travel agencies in Turkey visited
the cities of Sarajevo and Mostar in Bosnia and Herzegovina. A reception
was organized by Turkish Airlines, or THY, at the Sarajevo Museum,
bringing together Turkish tourism officials and representatives from
Bosnian travel agencies. The Turkish ambassador in Sarajevo, Vefahan
Ocak, THY's Director in Sarajevo Ahmet Salih Kansu and Turkish and
Bosnian officials attended the reception. Ocak said Turkish and Bosnian
tourism representatives took an important step with that gathering to
boost cooperation in the sector. Veli Cilsal, chair of the executive board
of Anitur – a leading travel agency in Turkey – said Bosnia has great
tourism potential and the firm would organize special tours to this
country this summer. Kağan Erdoğan, the deputy director general of
Tivoli Turizm, said Turkish tourists might spend a good time in Bosnia.
Kansu, the THY Director in Sarajevo, said Turkish citizens could visit
Bosnia without a visa and THY has Istanbul-Sarajevo flights five days a
week. According to an estimate from the World Tourism Organization,
Bosnia will have the third-highest tourism growth rate in the world by
2020

 CYPRUS - Cyprus and Israel joining forces on tourism - Cyprus
  Mail

CYPRUS AND Israel are set to unite forces to improve tourist flow
between and towards the two countries. In a meeting between Commerce
Minister Antonis Paschalides and his Israeli counterpart, Stas
Misezhnikov, it was yesterday decided the two states would create a
common committee that will examine the market and come up with
innovative ways to improve the two states‘ tourism sectors ―We decided
to create a committee of the two ministries and corresponding Tourism
Organisations, as well as private businesses, to propose specific
suggestions to reinforce the tourist relations between the two countries
and we both believe that there are great prospects for improvement,‖ said
Paschalides. The private businesses will include chambers, airlines and
other tourism-related enterprises, which the minister said could contribute
to coming up with new and inventive ideas. ―We also agreed to organise
workshops for the two countries to present a common package to attract
tourists to Cyprus and Israel, from counties such as the USA, Russia and
maybe even England,‖ he added, before stressing that Israelis are very
powerful in the US. On his part, the Israeli minister said tourism was a
vast contributor to both countries‘ economies, while he referred to the
historic relations between Cyprus and Israel, as well as their geographical
advantages. ―We attach great importance to our mutual relationship in the
tourism field,‖ said Misezhnikov. ―We have the mutual history, mutual
geographical position, short distance between our countries; we can have
much better cooperation between our two countries.‖ He added that there
was room to enlarge the market of tourism between the island and Israel.
―We can apply to third states, Cyprus is very strong in Britain, we are
very strong in the USA market, we are both strong in the Russian market
and we can apply to those markets to build very interesting packages for
tourism.‖ Referring to the special committee, Misezhnikov said the aim
was for it to start work immediately. ―We want to enlarge the cooperation
with our countries and the market of movement between our countries,‖
he concluded. Meanwhile, Paschalides said the ministry was readjusting
its estimations following the loss of some 35,000 arrivals in April due to
the Icelandic volcano ash. He said one month could not represent the
outcome of an entire year. ―Our effort is to win the majority of these
tourists back at a later period,‖ said Paschalides. The minister added that
there had been a big increase in arrivals from Russia, which wasn‘t
affected by the volcanic cloud. ―We have optimistic indications. We need
to continue our efforts, offer good quality tourism, be welcoming and I
hope the results will be positive,‖ said Paschalides.

 CYPRUS - Endgame looms for Cyprus talks - Cyprus Mail

WITH TEN days to go before the two leaders sit at the negotiating table
for the first time since the Turkish Cypriot election, one question hanging
over the international community is what happens if nothing happens?
According to various sources, the end of the year has become an
unofficial deadline for the talks to go somewhere serious. UN Special
Adviser Alexander Downer has made it clear they cannot go on forever
while sources suggest the Australian diplomat will not renew his six-
month contract if there is no movement by December. One diplomatic
source said: ―If things are going well, that is, the two sides agree on a
settlement and to put it to referenda by that time, there‘d be no reason for
him to leave. However, if there is no real movement by the end of the
year, ―All bets are off, you‘re on your own,‖ he added. Another noted:
―Downer made it clear the UN and he can not be here for ever. You get
the sense his patience will eventually run out if there is no progress. By
the end of the year, you‘re getting close to election year for Turkey and
the Republic of Cyprus.‖ The concern among some analysts is that
President Demetris Christofias and Eroglu will fail to find a middle
ground and instead pirouette around a solution just enough to avoid being
blamed for obstructing one. Recent statements suggest new Turkish
Cypriot leader Dervis Eroglu dances to Ankara‘s tune. His almost clear
commitment to continue the talks where they left off and his expressed
desire to see a solution by the end of the year add weight to this
impression. On top of that, the appointment of his negotiating team head
proves that Turkey will not allow Eroglu to come across as ―the
intransigent one‖ in the talks. Where as some feared he would choose
members of the old guard, from Rauf Denktash‘s former team, he went
for an academic with plenty of recent experience in the peace talks.

 CYPRUS - Warning against Pope protests - Cyprus Mail

WITH POPE Benedict‘s visit less than three weeks away, both Church
and state are sending out a strong message to ward off any unruly protests
against the Pontiff. In an interview published in a Catholic publication,
Cyprus‘ ambassador to the Holy See, George Poulides was quoted as
saying: ―The security measures will be particularly severe with all the
security forces of Cyprus on alert.‖ Poulides said preparations for the
June 4-6 visit had ―reached fever pitch‖ and the ―vast mobilisation of all
of Cyprus‖ was expected. ―Both the government, the Orthodox Church
and the Catholic community are working non-stop,‖ he said. It also
emerged yesterday that Archbishop Chrysostomos II and the Holy Synod
had sent a circular to be read in all churches today, calling on the public
―to behave‖ during the Pope‘s visit. The letter calls on the Orthodox flock
to ―stay calm‖ and not listen to any provocative calls for protests or
demonstrations that might come from ―irresponsible elements‖. It assures
the orthodox faithful that despite rumours to the contrary, the Church had
no plans to discuss theological issues with Pope Benedict XVI, because
this was the responsibility of the joint Theological Committee of
Orthodox and Roman Catholics. ―Nor will any agreements by signed as
some have claimed,‖ the circular adds. ―If there was even the slightest of
dangers to our faith, we would be the first to call for protests,‖ the Church
said. It also assured Orthodoxy that the Pontiff would not be visiting the
occupied north of the island, and it promised that the Archbishop would
raise with Benedict the issue of the looting of churches in the breakaway
state. The Holy Synod‘s announcement came just days after the
Pancyprian Orthodox Christian Movement (PAHOC) was forced to deny
distributing leaflets to schools, opposing the Pope‘s visit and harshly
criticising Cypriot Bishops and President Demetris Christofias for
remaining quiet about recent paedophilia scandals within the Catholic
Church. PAHOC admitted issuing the leaflet but denied handing it out to
schoolchildren. One official who will be involved in ―keeping order‖
during the Pope‘s visit told the Sunday Mail yesterday actual security
would be a matter for the state but he welcomed the Archbishop‘s circular
as an additional precaution. ―The Church is taking this visit very seriously
and wants to send a message to the faithful to respect the Pope. If they do
not, it will paint a very bad picture of Cyprus,‖ he said. The official said
most Cypriots were looking forward to the visit and it was only a very
small minority that had any objections. Poulides said the visit of the Pope
affirmed the great importance of the Church of Cyprus‘ contribution to
dialogue with Catholics and was an important act of friendship of the
Pontiff toward the people of Cyprus. Speaking of security issues in a
earlier interview, the Archbishop of the Maronites in Cyprus Youssef
Sweif has said: ―It is a state visit and the government knows very well all
these issues and there is cooperation with the Vatican and the United
Nations''.

 CYPRUS - Second fire at kebab shop in two months - Cyprus
  Mail

A LARNACA kebab shop burnt down yesterday -- the second time in
two months -- in what police suspect is a case of arson. The shop, on
Loukis Akritas Street on Acropolis Square had only recently reopened
following a fire on March 10. The 2.30am fire was put out by the fire
service but not before causing extensive damages. Police said they found
that the door had been broken. The distraught owner, a father of four said
it looks some people do not want him to operate in the specific area.
Panayiotis Sissou has asked the government for a piece of land inside
town to set up his business.

 CZECH REPUBLIC - CzechTourism launches biggest ever
  campaign encouraging Czechs to holiday at home - Radio Prague

CzechTourism has launched its biggest ever advertising campaign aimed
at encouraging Czechs to spend their holidays in their own country. The
state tourism body‘s project aims to promote various kinds of leisure
activities rather than specific tourist destinations. Markéta Chaloupková
is in charge of the CzechTourism campaign. I asked her if getting Czechs
to vacation at home was a big challenge. ―Not at all, if you look at the
statistics, we see that Czechs are more and more interested in spending
their holidays in the Czech Republic so we are not going against the trend
but we want to support the trend in spending holidays in the Czech
Republic. Not only longer holidays but shorter trips as well.‖ Does it
mean that Czechs are less interested in travelling abroad? ―Maybe it
has something to do with the economic crisis. As the analyst predicted a
few years ago, people would spend more at home and save money for
better times. So we see the trend in the Czech Republic as well. People
travel more around the country and less abroad.‖ This is your biggest
ever advertising campaign encouraging Czechs to holiday at home.
How much will it cost and where does the money come from? ―That‘s
right. It‘s the biggest campaign we ever did. The whole project on
domestic tourism costs about 74 million but just the campaign will cost
around thirty million crowns and it is financed by the European Union
because we wouldn‘t be able to finance it only with our own resources.‖
What is the focus of your campaign? ―We would like to focus at
special experiences connected with the Czech Republic. We would like to
show the variety of experiences. We are not going to present only
beautiful places but rather various activities people can do.‖ Can you be
more specific? ―We would like to communicate with the whole
population who travel around the country - teenagers, families with
children and elderly people. We offer special activities for each focus
group. For example we know that teenagers like to travel with a group of
friends, they like to climb the mountains or do some sports and they are
more active than for example elderly people, who would like to travel
around the country, taste some wine, spend some time in the spa and so
on.‖

 DEALS - Go last minute - The Irish Times

Isle of Man break: from €202 - Isle of Man Steam Packet Company
begins a twice-weekly ferry next month from Dublin to Douglas. Three-
night breaks at the island‘s Hilton Hotel cost from €269pps, or the
Welbeck from €202pps. Bring your car for an extra €101 return. steam-
packet.com. Farnborough air show: from €550 - Air enthusiasts might
want to snap up a trip to Farnborough International Airshow in July. With
two days seeing the exhibitions and displays, and maybe a chance to try a
simulator, you‘ll be staying at De Vere Wokefield Park Hotel, near
Reading. The price, from €550, includes two nights‘ accommodation,
breakfast, taxes, transfers and tickets for the airshow. gti-ireland.com.
Write in Spain: from €680 - There are a few places left on a week-long
creative-writing course in Andalusia, staying at Cortijo Romero, in the
Alpujarras Mountains. Led by Laura McAuley, whose experience
includes scripting Fair City, the full-board course, with writing, reading,
meditation and art, costs from £578pps (€680pps), excluding flights.
cortijo-romero.co.uk. Week in Menorca: from €299 - Panorama has a
week on the quiet island of Menorca, staying at the Los Delfines
apartments, from €299pps. panoramaholidays.ie.

 EGYPT - Mubarak to visit Italy to boost trade - Presstv.ir

Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak will begin a two-day tour of Italy for
talks aimed at boosting bilateral business and trade ties. The Egyptian
leader, who has just recovered from a surgery to remove a benign tissue,
is expected to hold talks with Italian President Giorgio Napolitano and
Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi when he begins his Italy tour on
Tuesday. The Berlusconi meeting will mark the third Egyptian-Italian
summit since the two countries launched a strategic partnership in Rome
in 2008, according to the official Egyptian news agency MENA. The
talks "will mainly focus on means of boosting ties in the fields of trade,
investment, tourism, training Egyptian laborers and supporting small and
medium sized enterprises," said Presidential Spokesman Suleiman
Awwad, quoted by MENA

 EUROPE - Ash cloud continues to cause travel confusion -Times
  Online & EUROCONTROL -Ash Crisis Monitor

Britain‘s two busiest airports will partially reopen today as the volcanic
ash cloud maintains a grip on the UK‘s airspace and causes fresh travel
chaos for thousands of passengers. The Air traffic authority Nats said
both Heathrow and Gatwick would be clear of the no-fly zone from 7am
after being closed for most of the night, although flights at both airports
would still be subject to restrictions, particularly Gatwick arrivals.
Elsewhere, flights have been grounded between 7am and 1pm at all
airports in Northern Ireland, several in Scotland including Edinburgh,
Aberdeen and Inverness as well as Cardiff, Swansea and Bristol airports.
In the Netherlands airports in Amsterdam and Rotterdam would be closed
for at least eight hours from 6am (0400 GMT) on Monday, Dutch state
television reported. Other Dutch airports would not be affected, but as
Amsterdam and Rotterdam are the country‘s two main airports the
closures would effectively bring most air traffic in and out of the
Netherlands to a standstill. Amsterdam Schiphol is Europe‘s third-largest
cargo airport and fifth-largest passenger hub. In a statement on its
website, Dutch airline KLM said: ―We are currently working on a
diversion plan for all affected flights to Amsterdam.‖

 EUROPE - Wild camping in Europe: how and where to do it - The
  Guardian

Wild camping is a pursuit that must be carefully defined. In some
cultures, it involves camping in a big stripy hat and staying up way past
midnight. In others, it entails camping in a non-campsite environment,
usually in an untamed rural location. Today we will focus on the latter. If
you think about it, there's something a little anachronistic about camping
in a campsite. It used to be different. Back in Robin Hood's day, we
Britons would camp where we damn well pleased, flinging our canvases
across land, forest, pasture and beach. Then, our fair country was divvied
up, and everywhere became somebody's. And so, technically, wild
camping became trespassing. But as with every great dollop of
bureaucracy, there are loopholes. One mighty great loophole arrived in
Scotland in 2003 in the shape of the Land Reform Act. There is a 78-page
PDF of the Act available online, should you wish to destroy a few hours
of your day, but its general theme can be summarised thus: wild camping
on public hill land is OK in Scotland, so long as you are 100m from a
road, and don't leave rubbish behind. Oh, and ask any local landowners
just in case. And don't come crying to us if they say no. In England and
Wales, things are a little stuffier. You can't do it unless the landowner has
given you permission. But once again, there are exceptions. Kind of. It is
generally accepted that wild camping is OK above the "intake walls" on
mountain areas – these are the partitions between pasture and
uncultivated land. Wild campers are advised to keep their groups small,
not stay for too long, camp at least 100m from a road, and try to pitch out
of sight of farm settlements and houses. Under the Freedom of
Information Act, the Legalise Wild Camping petition website
(Legalisewildcamping.com) asked for – and got – an official response
from the Lake District national park on the matter: "Wild camping on
unenclosed fell land, remote from the roads, is generally accepted if
undertaken responsibly by small numbers of people." Down in Dartmoor,
the authorities take a more free and easy approach. Ish. An amendment to
the 1949 National Parks & Access to the Countryside Act stipulates that
camping is permitted anywhere on the moor, but not for longer than two
nights, and not "on farmland, on moorland enclosed by walls, within
100m of a road, on flood plains or on archaeological sites". Wild
indeed.Here's the lowdown on the law across Europe, and the best places
to pitch your tent
 FRANCE - A nouvelle approach to Paris: John Walsh gets a fresh
  view of the city - The Independent

I had an itinerary for us to follow. It went: 1. Champs-Elysées/ Arc de
Triomphe; 2. Notre Dame; 3. Beaubourg Centre; 4. Bateau-mouche on
the Seine; 5. Sacré Coeur and Montmartre; 6. Musée d'Orsay; 7. Pigalle;
8. Galeries Lafayette; 9. Lunch at Plaza Athénée; 10. Tuileries gardens.
That was it. You may notice I left out the Tour d'Eiffel and the Louvre.
Oh please. What were we, tourists? Shrewdly anticipating the volcanic
cloud that was shortly to petrify Europe, we took the Eurostar. Is there a
better way to arrive in Paris? I mean, apart from showing up in a Sherman
tank in 1944, being handed bottles of 1939 Bordeaux by old men and
kissed by newly liberated girls? I doubt it. It's smooth and comfortable, it
takes two hours and you can sleep against the head-rests. The children
liked the airport feel of the check-in, without the need to have your
shampoo confiscated at security. I liked the uniformed guards who stand
like footmen by the door of every first-class carriage to usher you in. So
Orient Express Getting there - Eurostar (eurostar.com ) operates trains
from London St Pancras, Ebbsfleet and Ashford to Paris Gare du Nord.
Staying there - Le Meurice, 228 Rue de Rivoli, 1st arrondissement
(lemeurice.com ). Doubles start at €390, room only. Hotel Jules, 49-51,
Rue La Fayette, 9th (hoteljules.com ). Doubles start at €173, room only.
Eating & drinking there Le Relais Plaza, at Hotel Plaza Athénée, 21
Avenue Montaigne, 8th arrondissement (plaza-athenee-paris.com/le-
relais-plaza ).       Ma Bourgogne, 19 Place des Vosges, 4th
(mabourgogne.com ). Visiting there - Shakespeare & Company, 37 rue
de la Bucherie, 5th arrondissement (shakespeareandcompany.com ). Open
Monday-Friday 10am-11pm and weekends from 11am. Musée d'Orsay,
62 rue de Lille, 7th (musee-orsay.fr ). Open Tuesday-Sunday 9.30am-
6pm, until 9.45pm on Thursday, closed Monday; admission €8.
Pompidou Centre, Place Georges Pompidou, 4th (centrepompidou.fr ).
Open Wednesday-Monday 11am-9pm, closed Tuesday; admission €12.
Eiffel Tower, Champ de Mars, 7th (tour-eiffel.fr ). Open daily 9.30am-
11pm between 1 January-12 June and 29 August-31 December and 9am-
midnight between 13 June-28 August; admission €13.10. The King of
Frip, 33 rue du Roi de Sicile, 4th. Noir Kennedy, 12 and 22 rue du Roi de
Sicile, 4th (noirkennedy.fr ).
 FRANCE - Trail of the unexpected: Brutal beauty in Belle-Ile-en-
  Mer - The Independent

An hour after first setting foot on Belle-Ile-en-Mer in August 1894, Sarah
Bernhardt had bought an abandoned fort on the cliff top at la Pointe des
Poulins. It was the start of a love affair that lasted 30 years. "I love Belle-
Ile," the actress told the London Telegraph in 1904. "For its solitude, its
silence, its wildness, its fisherfolk, its transparent grey-green sea, its sky,
now blue, now black ... for the dreams, the ideals, and the beauty that I
find there." Stepping off the ferry after the 45-minute crossing from
Quiberon, itself dangling from the southern side of Brittany, I could see
the draw: pastel houses with contrasting shutters, a pretty little port with
visitors lunching in their moored launches, seafood restaurants and small
shops selling Breton biscuits, local goats' cheese and beautifully
packaged tinned tuna. Warmed by the Gulf Stream, Belle-Ile has a
sunnier disposition than mainland Brittany, only 15km away. The 5,000
inhabitants and 50,000 summer visitors have 58 beaches to enjoy and
100km of coastal paths to explore. But the island is not all sweetness and
light. The brutal beauty of the north-west coast is savage and inspiring.
Rocky plateaux drop sharply into deep ravines, barnacles grip the sides of
rockpools, sea-spray fountains up the cliffs. As red-billed choughs wheel
overhead, the sea and the wind carve rocks into jagged needles. This is
the scenery that Claude Monet painted in the 1880s, a local Bellilois
holding down his canvas to prevent the wind plucking it from his easel
and hurling it into the sea. The island is a well-kept secret by the French:
I've made several trips to Brittany but Belle-Ile has never been on my
radar. This first visit was prompted by the recommendation of a friend
from north-east France, and it proved to be a revelation. Getting there -
Ferries from Quiberon are operated by Compagnie Océane (compagnie-
oceane.fr ). Early booking is strongly advised if taking a car. Returns
€29.65; from €148.30 for a car. Eurostar trains to nearby Lorient or
Vannes on the mainland require a change at Paris, from the Gare du Nord
to Montparnasse (eurostar.com ). Staying there - L'Acadien Hotel, 36 rue
Joseph Le Brix, Le Palais (hotel-acadien.com ). Doubles start at €38,
room only. Citadel Vauban, Le Palais (citadellevauban.com ). Open May
to October; doubles start at €125, room only. Castel Clara, Goulphar,
Bangor (castel-clara.com ). Doubles start at €210, room only. Getting
around - LMT Car Bike (lmt-carbike.com ) rents cars, motorbikes and
boats from €44 per day. Locatourisle (locatourisle.com ) rents two-seater
buggies from €56 per day. Roue Libre (belle-ile-evasion.com ) hires bikes
from €22 per day.
 FRANCE - Traveller's Guide: Provence -The Independent

Some off-the-beaten-track adventure? The world's second-largest
canyon (over 20km long and 700m deep), the Gorges du Verdon is an
arresting sight. It's justifiably famous for hard-core rock-climbing, with
scary-sounding routes such as La Demande and Dingomaniaque. The
river Verdon is ideal for white-water rafting, and eventually spills into the
gentler jade-green Lac de Ste-Croix, great for sailing, kayaking,
swimming, fishing or simply pottering round on an electric boat. World
Expeditions (worldexpeditions.co.uk ) offers a one-week, self-guided
walking trip which explores a scenic trail winding through the banks of
the river to the heights of the rim. Prices start at €690 based on two
people sharing, including hostel accommodation, breakfast and dinner
and luggage transfers; flights not included. On the south-west coast, the
Parc Naturel Régional de Camargue is Western Europe's largest river
delta. It's home to vast étangs (shallow saline lakes), fresh water reed
beds and salt marshes, as well as hundreds of bird species, indigenous
bulls and whitish-grey Camargue horses. Mostly flat, the area is a delight
to discover by bike or from the saddle. The Enlightened Traveller
(enlightened-traveller.co.uk ) offers a one-week, self-guided hike of the
area. Prices start at €555 which includes hotel accommodation, breakfast
and entrance to two Natural Reserve sites. Flights not included.
Alternatively, Camarquaise de Tourisme Equestre (parc-camarque.fr )
offers horseback tours of the region. Prices start at €35 for a day. Can I
see Provence on a budget? With scores of free museums and public
beaches, combined with great value hotels and transport options in the
region, you certainly can. Travelling outside July and August, booking in
advance and camping are obvious ways in which to slash your budget.
There are cheap V C hostels in most cities with beds for around €16 per
night: these even exist in millionaires' playgrounds, on the seafront at Cap
d'Ail or by Elton John's house on Mont Boron (fuaj.org ). The South of
France is also an ideal picnic ground. Hit the region's produce markets,
such as Nice's cours Saleya (Tue-Sat) or Marseille's organic cours Julien
(Wed), where small producers sell charcuterie (cured meats) and olives.

 FRANCE - Soak up the good life on the Cannes Riviera - The
  Independent

The city of Cannes is an intriguing mix of loud and quiet. The rotary
blades of helicopters chugging across the azure Baie des Anges: loud.
The low warble of the early evening cicadas: quiet. The bustle of
shoppers, sightseers and street performers along the celebrated Croisette:
loud. The worshipful hush on the other side of the glass in the
monochrome Chanel boutique: quiet. The city lives by these extremes,
defined as it is on one hand by the annual Film Festival, currently in full
swing with popping bulbs and screaming fans, and by the eternal practice
of exquisite elegance on the other. Loud or quiet, ritzy or reserved,
Cannes is a destination for those who enjoy the good life, be it opulent or
understated. With many budget airlines serving Nice Côte d'Azur airport,
access to the A-list hotspots has opened up a little. But that isn't really the
point of exclusivity; pushing the boat out – or rather, the five-tiered
catamaran, darling – is the French Riviera's raison d'être, so it's little
wonder that those in the know are seeking ever more luxurious haunts:
places to see and be seen, as well as places to hide and be hidden. Travel
essentials: Cannes - Getting there: The writer flew to Nice with British
Airways (ba.com ), which flies from Heathrow and London City with
return fares starting at £99. Nice is also served by easyJet (easyjet.com ),
Jet2 (jet2.com ), bmibaby (bmibaby.com ) and FlyBe (flybe.com ).
Helicopters from Nice to Cannes are operated by companies such as Heli
Securite (helicopter-saint-tropez.com ). Staying there - Hotel Martinez,
73 La Croisette, Cannes (concorde-hotels.com/martinez ). The hotel has a
summer offer of €381 per night per superior room B&B with a bottle of
wine (minimum two nights). Visiting there - The Cannes Film Festival
runs until 23 May (festival-cannes.com ). Ferries to the Iles de Lérins are
operated by Horizon ( cannes-horizon.com ) and Planaria (cannes-
ilesdelerins.com ); returns from €11.50. More information Cannes
tourist office: cannes-hotel-reservation.fr .

 FRANCE - Travel challenge: A barge holiday in France - The
  Independent

Every week, we invite competing companies to give us their best deal for
a specified holiday. Today: a barging holiday in France in late June.
Prices are for two people travelling together. Afloat in France by
Orient-Express: £7,090: Napoléon, Provence - Departs 20 June and
includes six nights' all-inclusive accommodation in a double cabin aboard
the luxury staffed river cruiser, sightseeing excursions and return
Eurostar/TGV travel from London St Pancras. Napoléon is one of
Europe's finest river cruisers. Guests have the chance to sample some of
the finest wines in France. During the course of a cruise, guests will
sample over 24 different cheeses and over 20 different wines," says Anna
Nash at Orient-Express (orient-express.com ). Minervois Cruisers
£1,295: self-drive canal boat, Meilhan, Gers Departs 28 June and
includes a week on a four-berth cruiser, fuel and bicycle hire. Travel to
France is not included. "Guests save the best part of £400 on the list price
on this holiday. Canal-boat holidays provide a wonderful, stress-free
holiday experience, especially when cruising on the sun-kissed southern
French inland waterways. Great Bordeaux wine, food and culture is never
far away," says Jonathan Webster at Minervois Cruisers
(minervoiscruisers.com ). French Boat Holidays - £971: self-drive
"Capri" boat, Castelnaudary, Canal du Midi Departs 26 June and
includes a week in a two-berth cruiser, plus damage waiver. "Follow in
Rick Stein's wake on a great, easily managed cruiser for two people,"
says Paul Killeen of French Boat Holidays (frenchboatholidays.com ).

 FRANCE - Tents are so last century - The Guardian

"Be not afeard. The isle is full of noises, Sounds, and sweet airs, that give
delight, and hurt not." So speaks Shakespeare's Caliban of his island
home in The Tempest. I was reminded of his words when I awoke earlier
this week in a "Carré d'étoiles" cabin in the fragrant, vine-heavy Saumur
region of the Loire valley in France. From my bed, all I could see was the
sky. Though I could hear that everything around us was already awake:
birdsong filled the air, punctuated by the clucking of chickens and the
strident call of a cockerel. Carrés d'étoiles are a new concept in luxury
camping and sustainable tourism: they are cube-shaped micro houses,
made from recycled wood, where you sleep in a beautiful platform bed
underneath a transparent dome. My friend R and I live in Paris, and
waking up in our cosy nest over the hills and far away felt like we'd been
whisked away to another world. At the foot of our bed, there was a
wooden ladder leading to the lower level, where loo, splendid shower,
coffee machine and kettle, hotplates, microwave, fridge complete with
jug of Saumur rosé, compact flatscreen TV, heater and comfy sofa bed all
fitted inside a nine-square-metre space that managed to feel cosy, not
cramped. Our little Carré was in the grounds of the exquisite Hôtel Le
Chai de la Paleine, an old wine storehouse in the heart of the Loire-
Anjou-Touraine regional park. There are three Carrés d'étoiles here, each
enjoying its own corner of the garden, and there is also a roulotte, a
glorious gypsy- wagon-esque wooden caravan, perfect for families. For
those who are a little camping-wary, the rambling hotel has 12 gorgeous
bedrooms, with wine-themed names such as Chenin, Pressoir and Pinot,
which sleep up to five people. Upstairs are relaxing lounges and a library,
which Carré guests can use too, while the grounds contain an old wash
house where you can sip wine in the shade in summer, a play shed with
toys, and a large games barn with ping-pong table and an informal
dining/drinking area. Les Carrés d'étoiles at Hôtel Le Chai de la Paleine
sleep two (plus one on a sofa bed) and cost €90-€95 a night. Prices
similar at other Carrés across France
 GERMANY - No acquisition of Öger Tours - FVW

Thomas Cook has failed to acquire Germany‘s sixth-largest tour operator
Öger Tours due to differences over price. The group is meanwhile
confident about financial results despite the £70 million impact of the
Icelandic volcanic ash cloud on business. CEO Manny Fontenla-Novoa
confirmed the failure of negotiations in the company‘s half-year results
conference call last week. Talks had been ―good‖ but an agreement could
not be reached with owner Vural Öger, he explained. The Cook boss said
he hoped the two companies would remain good partners in future. Öger
Tours is an important Condor customer while Neckermann has several
Öger hotels in its programme. According to fvw information, the deal
failed due to differences over the acquisition price, Cook‘s profit
expectations and different views of the business. Vural Öger had publicly
confirmed he would not sell the company and has engaged former Rewe
tourism chief Dierk Berlinghoff to run the business. Cook is now looking
for other acquisition opportunities in Germany.

 GOOGLE - Google aims to offer internet on your TV - Times
  Online

Google is set to move into the living room with a computer operating
system that will bring the internet to home televisions. The company is
working with the chipmaker Intel and Sony, the electronics giant, to
introduce Google TV this week at a conference for 3,000 Google
software developers in San Francisco. The aim is to get them to create
new and innovative applications in the same way that outside developers
have created new software programs for smartphones.The system will
bne based on its Android platform, which was developed 18 months ago
for mobile phones. There are already more than 50,000 applications
available for Android. The aim now is to put the web on to televisions via
a new generation of TV sets and set-top boxes, further blurring the line
between home entertainment and computing The partners are developing
technology that will make it as easy for television users to search the web
as for computer users, with access to social networks such as Twitter or
Facebook and to movies and TV shows on web video sites such as
YouTube or Hulu.com. Some existing televisions and set-top boxes offer
access to web content, but the choice of sites is limited. Google, by
embedding its software into televisions, allcan control internet access on
yet another category of devices. By offering its Chrome web browser on
the Android system Google will be able to ensure its services, especially
its search and advertising technologies, will bring in more profits. Google
hopes to connect the service with its nascent TV ad-brokering business,
allowing it to target ads to individual households based on search and
viewing data. The search giant recently invested in Invidi Technologies, a
New York based technology company that is developing ―addressable‖
TV ads. Addressable ads are supposed to target specific viewers, using
data from set-top boxes, in the same way that online ads can be directed
at web users based on their internet activities.

 GREECE - Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie traveled secretly to
  Santorini - GRReporter.info

A quick trip to the island of Santorini made the star couple Brad Pitt and
Angelina Jolie. They arrived in Greece on Tuesday with rented aircraft of
the Cypriot Airlines and along with their six children they stayed in the
luxurious private suite Suites of Gods in Ia. The two actors kept their
visit on the island as a secret, but nevertheless residents of the island
quickly learned the news which caused great enthusiasm and excitement.
Most of the time they spent at the hotel. "They only came out to go
around the island and the volcanoe by boat. Together with them was also
a photographer - I think he was Spanish, and three bodyguards" revealed
the owner of the hotel. He said that the couple has reserved their suite one
day prior to arriving through an Athenian travel agency. "Angelina Jolie
showed some interest about the island, about how people live, about the
local dishes - the tomato meatballs and the lentil jelly... Of course they ate
is mostly fish and salads," said before Alpha TV the municipal manager
of Ia. Although happy with the star couple's visit, the local residents do
not hide their disappointment that they failed to meet them as they
wished. Angelina Jolie is not for the first time in Santorini. During the
filming of Lara Croft the actress had visited the ancient Tira and was
inspired by the beauty and majesty of the island-volcano. Brad Pitt has
also been on a holyday on the island in the distant past with his former
lover Jennifer Aniston. Having rested for a few days on the beautiful
Greek island, the couple went to southern France. Prior to appearing in all
their brilliance at the festival in Cannes, they decided to spend a short
vacation on the Cycladic island. Last summer the couple visited the resort
Elounda on the island of Crete for four days. Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie
promised to return again to the island known for the most romantic
sunsets in the Aegean Sea.

 GREECE - Cook reps lawyer brands retrial grossly unfair -
  Travel Weekly

Richard Carson and Nicola Gibson‘s Greek lawyer has branded the
decision to hold a retrial into the deaths of two children in Corfu in 2006
grossly unfair. The Thomas Cook reps were unanimously cleared of any
wrongdoing by three judges in a Corfu courtroom at the beginning of the
month. But it emerged over the weekend that the father of Christianne
Shepherd, seven, and her brother Bobby, six who died of carbon
monoxide poisoning while on holiday, has successfully appealed against
the verdicts. Lawyer Ilias Anagnostopoulos said he was struggling to
explain to his clients why they faced a second trial after a highly unusual
overturning of the judges‘ decision, but added he was confident they
would be cleared again. In his view, the original trial was very thorough
and he argued such a retrial would be impossible in the UK or the US,
because it would count as double jeopardy – being tried for the same
crime twice. Nine Greeks and the two reps faced trial and on May 4 the
manager of the Louis Corcyra Beach Hotel, in Gouvia, and two other
staff were convicted of manslaughter. Mr Shepherd appealed against the
not guilty verdicts because he believed his children had not received
justice. The Greek island's council of prosecutors ordered a retrial after
deciding that vital court evidence had been ignored by the judges in the
original case. If a new trial goes ahead it will probably be held next year

 HOLLAND - Amsterdam, Utrecht streets cleaned up as bin men
  reach a deal - DutchNews.nl

City council officials in Amsterdam and Utrecht expect it will take
several more days before the streets are once again free of rubbish,
following the end of the bin men's strike this weekend. The strike, in
support of a 2.75% pay deal over two years, began at the end of April.
The deal - which covers all 200,000 local authority civil servants - was
reached between unions and employers late on Saturday. The agreement
gives workers a 1.5% pay rise this year and a higher end of year bonus.
Next year staff will get a further 0.5% and a further 0.5% rise in the
annual bonus. Workers on the lowest pay scales will also get an extra
pay-out. Government cut backs - The employers had called for a pay
freeze. Amsterdam's acting mayor Lodewijk Asscher said he was pleased
a deal had been reached. 'We have difficult years ahead of us and it is
better to make agreements than have a stand-off,' he said in the Parool.
Asscher was referring to pending cuts in national funding for local
authorities as part of efforts to get government spending back under
control

 ICELAND - It’s spewing ash, but Iceland is very cool - Europe

But there was always the cost: visitors to Iceland spoke of £50 main
courses and £10 pints. Clutching one glass of wine all night as natives
gaily order a third bottle is no holiday. Then, as it turned out, Iceland‘s
economy existed in an overblown bubble and when that popped abruptly
in late 2008 prices became more reasonable — at least if you‘re a
Londoner. So I booked flights through Iceland Express (about £400 each,
not cheap considering that, at four hours from London, it is no farther
than Greece) and on the internet came across a woman called Kristbjörg
who would rent us her two-bedroom apartment with harbour views for
€150 a day. And we went on to find that prices were comparable with
London: a glass of wine in a restaurant was about £5-£7, a large beer
about £4, and a round of cake and hot chocolates for four came to about
£20. A main course in a nice restaurant was about £12. Not cheap, but it
didn‘t make us gulp. Much has been written about the Blue Lagoon, an
outdoor spa 40 minutes from the capital, which, as if in some mad Utopia,
is filled with the outflow from a geothermal power station. It is a strange,
wonderful indulgence that deserves at least half a day to enjoy. But if
your hair, like mine, is not, er, its natural colour, encase it in conditioner
and swim hat since the silica particles — the stuff that clogs up jet
engines — will turn it to matted straw. Besides, Reykjavik, a city of
110,000 people, has ten swimming pools, all but one outdoors and each
with a set of ―hot pots‖. The idea is to get into ever-hotter water until you
stand pink, forehead veins throbbing, in the scalding 42-degree broil.
Afterwards you feel wonderful and, what with the pure air coming down
from the Arctic, sleep like the righteous.

 ICELAND - New edition of free travel handbook released -
  Iceland Review Online

The 2010 edition of the free travel handbook Around Iceland has been
published. The handbook, which has been published for 35 years, is
distributed to the main travel destinations in Iceland and is available for
download on the publisher‘s website. Around Iceland, which also appears
in Icelandic and German language versions, contains practical
information on each region in Iceland, lists of service outlets, places of
accommodation, campsites, swimming pools and maps. There is a special
chapter on the interior highlands. The handbook also provides general
information on Iceland and the Icelandic nation, and mentions the
country‘s main attractions and events this summer. Surveys have
concluded that tourists find the handbook useful in organizing their travel
around Iceland. Around Iceland and its Icelandic and German language
equivalents are published by Heimur, Iceland Review‘s publisher.
Download your free copy, maps and other guides here.
 IRELAND - Blood, sweat and tears in Mayo - The Irish Times

TO SAY I WAS alarmed as I arrived at the boot camp, just outside
Westport, would be an understatement up there with ―Nama‘s probably
going to cost us a few quid‖ or ― Finnegans Wake isn‘t the easiest read in
the world.‖ I wasn‘t alarmed, I was terrified. Thanks to an unfortunate
Twitter post and a demon texting habit, I‘d shared my plans with far too
many people. And they‘d all reacted with a mixture of hilarity and horror.
―You‘re doing what? Appalling! It‘s going to be hell. Bring painkillers.
Bail.‖ A day into the three-day adventure, bailing is definitely on the
table. My limbs, having apparently aged 60 years in 24 hours, are on fire,
and even thinking about climbing the stairs to bed is making me very,
very sad. As I hobble up to my room I curse myself for not doing just a
bit of research beforehand. If I‘d spent 10 seconds on the Fitness West
website I‘d have learned that the whole plan was to take me out of my
comfort zone. That‘s a zone I like and am very comfortable with, thanks
very much. The phenomenon of paying money so people can shout at you
and make you do push-ups and sit-ups has taken off in recent years, as
twenty- and thirtysomethings with more money than sense look for
alternatives to the monotony of the gym and the loneliness of the long-
distance run. The Fitness West course is a new kid on the boot-camp
block. It was set up four months ago by a pharmacist and a printer who
met while competing in triathalons, and they are marketing it as a
combination of fitness course and away-from-it-all weekend break. The
setting is stunning. The sea is a few metres from the back of the house,
and Croagh Patrick looms large out front. The living space is communal,
and the food is cooked by a chef who, incidentally, is also a
psychotherapist. The first morning starts with a three-kilometre jog along
the seafront to a nearby pier. There isn‘t a sinner on the road, and the only
sound to be heard is the water lapping gently against the shore and my
less-gentle breathing. At the pier we do some stretches, then jog back to
the house, where a breakfast of porridge, smoothies and fresh fruit awaits.
So far so easy. Then the kettle balls come out. There‘s a reason Russian
soldiers are as hard as nails, and it‘s these metal balls. They weigh
anything between four and 24 kilos and were invented to toughen up all
the tsars‘ men more than 200 years ago. They‘re in vogue in the most
upmarket gyms after receiving the endorsement of some of the world‘s
beautiful people. In truth there‘s little that‘s beautiful about the kettle-ball
routines. We swing them between our legs using only our hips to get
them moving, we swing them over our heads (or try to) and we do
ridiculously painful lunges, over and over. Conor Pope was a guest of
Fitness West (fitnesswest.ie). Weekend residential boot camps cost from
€392 per person. Day and week-long camps are also available.
 IRELAND - 'Express' passport fees come with no guarantee - The
  Irish Times

THE PASSPORT OFFICE is still encouraging customers to pay extra for
the express service it runs with An Post despite its own warning that the
10-day guarantee has been suspended until further notice. An Post, which
has begun issuing Passport Express receipts absolving itself from ―any
guarantee regarding the turnaround time‖ of passports, is nevertheless
continuing to accept fees of €8.50 per passport from customers to use the
service. The Department of Foreign Affairs, under whose auspices the
Passport Office is run, said the guarantee had been suspended because of
the backlog of applications caused by industrial action. The backlog now
stands at 65,651, down from 67,500 a week ago. A spokesman said
Passport Express customers should now allow up to 20 working days.
Customers using the normal postal-application service should allow at
least six weeks. A spokeswoman for An Post said the express service was
still being offered as it encompassed a checking service designed to
ensure applicants had included all documentation, and provided a
guarantee of getting the application safely to and from the Passport
Office. She said the 10-day guarantee was a matter for the Passport
Office. The Passport Office‘s website offers a tracking service as
applications move through registration to checking of documents,
approval, printing of passport and dispatch or availability for collection.
There is some doubt about whether the express service is currently
managing to provide passports within 20 working days. Some recent
applications were tracked at stage one until the 17th day; they then
completed all the remaining stages by day 20 after an appeal to the
Department of Foreign Affairs.

 IRELAND - Clare cyclists gear up to show off their county from
  the saddle - The Irish Times & In the shadow of the Burren - The
  Irish Times

ECOTOURISM: THE RISE IN mass-participation sports is generating a
new breed of entrepreneur who seeks to combine a love of the outdoors
with a profitable tourism business. The latest entrant is Go Cycle Ireland,
in Co Clare, which offers short breaks for leisure cyclists, mountain
bikers and elite athletes. Directors Peter Clifford and Tom Enright, who
are keen cyclists, decided to go into ecotourism after they were made
redundant recently. ―We were talking one morning and realised we had
little choice in rural Clare. But we knew we were surrounded by this real
beauty on our doorstep. That was the catalyst for establishing the
company,‖ says Enright. In its first season Go Cycle is offering all-
inclusive four- and seven-day leisure cycling tours of the Burren and the
Aran Islands (€999 and €579), as well as two-day breaks. Leisure tours
cover about 40km or 50km a day, and can incorporate another pastime,
like photography. Lonely Planet named Clare as one the world‘s top 10
cycling destinations recently, and this summer the county will host the
Sky Ride Etape Hibernia race and the Tour de Burren.
gocycleireland.com

 IRELAND - Brian does his bit for tourism with caravan trip -
  Independent.ie

TAOISEACH Brian Cowen will be boosting the hard-pressed tourist
industry by holidaying at home in his "caravan". He has travelled to a
caravan park in Connemara with his wife and family for a summer
holiday break for more than a decade -- and has no intention of breaking
that tradition this year. "It's gas when you try and keep some sense of
normality and continuity in your life, the media come down and think it's
very inappropriate for the Taoiseach to be, horror of horrors, sharing a
holiday with others in the area he's been sharing for 10-15 years," he said.
Mr Cowen joked that there was no need for him to put a tow-bar on his
car like British Labour MP Margaret Beckett -- because his "caravan"
was in reality a fixed mobile home. "You know me, I'm a man of simple
pleasures and I like to go down having a round of golf, walking on the
beaches, meeting a few friends for a relaxing (pause) few hours. That's
my way of relaxing," he said. Mr Cowen told Today FM host and Irish
Independent writer Sam Smyth that he hoped to spend a "few days" on
holidays in the mobile home this summer. "I'm looking forward to the
football, the hurling, the championships, the race meetings, the Derby,"
Mr Cowen said of his other summer plans.

 IRELAND - Opening of Aviva Stadium heralds a new era in Irish
  sport - Independent.ie

At the official opening of the revamped ground, rugby and soccer fans
were challenged to revive the infamous roar at the rebranded Aviva
Stadium which sweeps across Dublin's skyline. Sporting legends even
revealed they wished they could turn back time and have a game at the
spectacular new state of the art venue. Former international footballer
Ray Houghton said he would do anything to tog out - and would consider
giving up his historic goal against England. "It was a great privilege and
pleasure to play for Ireland and score that goal against England, but I'd
give up a lot of that to play the first game here, that's for sure," he said.
"It's a world class facility and anyone who comes here will be
overwhelmed. We're gonna have some fantastic games and some fantastic
memories in the future." The sun glistened on the newly laid pitch as the
Irish Rugby Football Union (IRFU) and the Football Association of
Ireland (FAI) officially opened their new shared home on the site of
Lansdowne's hallowed turf. It took three years to remove the much-loved
ground and replace it with a €410m 50,000 seater stadium. The IRFU's
Philip Browne said his hunt for a new home for Irish rugby and football
began in 1994 - and brought him back to the the southside of Dublin. He
hopes the world class piece of sporting infrastructure will stage the
Heineken Cup final in 2013. "It is a financial engine to drive the sport of
rugby and soccer for the next 40 years," he said. "I've no concerns or
qualms whatsoever about the capacity or the ability of this facility to do
that for us." The breathtaking structure can be seen from across the city,
with three high tiers towering over 3,000 seats in the ground level
Havelock Square end. FAI boss John Delany admitted he hoped the
coliseum layout would intimidate visiting fans and players. "It's important
to create an atmosphere here to intimidate teams that come here. All the
players will tell you that," he said. "I think it's going to be a wonderful
stadium for our own supporters, one they can eventually call their own
home." With top class facilities for fans - 650 toilets and 69 kiosks and
bars serving up 1,000 pints - international players used to living in luxury
will also feel at home. The revamp, which took four million man hours
and employed 6,000 people, boasts indoor grass-covered warm-up areas
for both the home and away teams, a medical room with beds, a dentist
chair, drug testing area and an x-ray, large dressing rooms with TV
screens and a shower room with a hydrotherapy pool. Despite a major
sponsorship deal and controversial name change, Delaney vowed the
atmosphere will be as good as ever.

 IRELAND - Harrington gives Irish tourism major boost - Irish
  Examiner

PÁDRAIG HARRINGTON has gifted Irish golf tourism the ultimate
mulligan by agreeing to front Fáilte Ireland‘s new €1.5m worldwide
"marketing blitz" free of charge. The 38-year old Dubliner was the face
of tourism body‘s global golf strategy for three years until 2007, when it
was decided that his contract – reputed to have cost the taxpayer just
€180,000 a year – was simply not offering value for money. The decision
to cut Harrington loose turned out to be one of the greatest blunders in the
history of Irish sports sponsorship as Bank of Ireland stepped in with
€750,000 over three years and got an incredible return on its investment.
Not only did Harrington repay them within days of signing the contract
by becoming the first home winner of the Irish Open for 25 years, he
went on to win three majors in the space of 13 months at a time when the
number of overseas golfing visitors to these shores was falling
dramatically. Fortunately for Fáilte Ireland, Harrington‘s success allowed
him to secure sponsorship deals with FTI and Wilson Golf worth over
€20m and can now afford to help Irish golf tourism in its hour of need by
offering his services free of charge. "It‘s not a commercial transaction,"
Harrington said at a function at Fáilte Ireland HQ in Dublin, where he
was announced as Ireland‘s Golf Ambassador for the next 12 months.
"Basically my sponsors pay me enough that I can do something like this.
I am really delighted that I can help out. "It is not a huge burden on me in
terms of time and it won‘t affect my ability to play golf. My sponsors are
essentially covering this. They all look after me so well that I don‘t need
to be taxing the Government at this time." Despite government cutbacks
across the board, golf promotion has received €5m in funding this year
with €1.5m dedicated to international marketing and around €2m of a
further €3.5m being invested the events such as the 3 Irish Open, the Irish
Seniors Open, the AIB Ladies Irish Open and the 2011 Solheim Cup.
Redmond O‘Donoghue, chairman of Fáilte Ireland, conceded that the foot
had been taken off the gas in terms of Ireland‘s golf tourism strategy
since the 2006 Ryder Cup drive. "The 2006 Ryder Cup was fantastic and
maybe there was a small vacuum," O‘Donoghue said. "After the Ryder
Cup, a lot of things came to pass. We probably lost the run of ourselves in
terms of pricing and then in comes the biggest recession of modern
times." Harrington‘s image will be used to front a multimedia campaign
entitled Time to Play, and Fáilte Ireland hopes to unveil an online
booking system for that will make it easier for potential visitors to book
tee-times. Keith McCormack, head of Golf Tourism at Fáilte Ireland
added: "We needed this focal point – something internationally
recognisable for consumers and a rallying point for the Irish golf industry
as well. "We have a new brand that is all about being warm, infectious
and unassuming. Pádraig is all of those things. It is the perfect match."
Harrington will tee it up in next week‘s BMW PGA Championship at
Wentworth for the first time since 2007 insisting he is fully recovered
from the neck injury that upset his perception of alignment recently.
Harrington said: "I am thrilled about where my game is. The weaker parts
of my game over the last number of years I feel have improved
immensely so it is a question of making sure the putting is as good as
ever." Harrington also addressed controversy over his TV campaign for
laser eye surgery clinic Optical Express. It was reported this week the ad
had been withdrawn from the UK airwaves because of a complaint to the
UK‘s Advertising Standards Authority that he had his surgery done by a
different clinic. But Harrington confirmed that the wording of the ad was
simply being amended, explaining: "In 1999 I had laser eye surgery in
Harley Street, which is an Optical Express-owned facility. In 2002, I had
another laser eye surgery on Wellington Road in Dublin, which is where
Optical Express is now. I was sitting in the same rooms three weeks ago,
having          treatment           by          Optical         Express."

 ISRAEL - From Herod's Masada fortress to the Dead Sea - Mail
  Online

Sometimes, awesome is the only word that will do. Standing on the prow
of Masada, the oddly ship-shaped rock mesa overlooking the Dead Sea in
the Judean Desert amid the remains of Herod the Great's fortress, is one
such moment. This exotic and striking monument combines history,
geology, archeaology and a unique story of human courage. And it all
unfolded during that heady period when BC turned into AD and a new
religion was born. The scenery is stupendous and unspoilt, which is in
itself awesome. After all, where else in the world can you find one of the
great wonders of civilisation with not a trinket shop, souvenir stall or ice-
cream kiosk in sight? The name Masada means 'fortress' in Hebrew, and
even during the Roman period it was obvious to the world-conquering
warriors that he who controlled Masada would be master of all he
surveyed. Thus Herod, who ruled the Jews by the grace of Augustus
Caesar, discovered the place when he needed a safe refuge in 40BC.
Specialist Dead Sea Travel (www.deadseatravel.co.uk) offers 14 days at
the five-star Le Meridien Hotel, including scheduled flights from
Heathrow, accommodation on half-board basis, return transfers in Israel
and all travel taxes, from £1,340 each for two people sharing a double
room.

 ITALY - Caravaggio, at Scuderie del Quirinale, Rome - Telegraph

Four hundred years ago, in July 1610, the painter known as Caravaggio
set out on his last journey. He was travelling from Naples towards Rome
in a boat loaded with three of his own paintings – gifts intended for the
papal nephew, Scipione Borghese, who had helped to arrange the artist's
pardon for killing a Roman pimp named Ranuccio Tomassoni in the
summer of 1606. Caravaggio had been a fugitive for more than four
years, living under a banda capitale, a papal sentence of death that had
been issued after the murder. Now, finally, redemption was in sight. But
it was not to be. Caravaggio was in a bad way even as he embarked on
the felucca for Rome. Some nine months earlier he had been attacked by
four men outside a Naples tavern. It had been payback for another of
Caravaggio's many crimes, an assault on a nobleman in Malta during the
painter's long and zigzagging flight from papal justice. While three of his
assailants held him down, his aggrieved Maltese enemy cut a message of
revenge into Caravaggio's face. At first, the painter had been reported
dead. Later, it was simply said that he had been badly disfigured. On the
evidence of the two pictures he painted in the aftermath of the attack, it
appears he had been so badly injured that both his eyesight and his ability
to hold a paintbrush steady had been critically compromised. In Rome,
the 400th anniversary of Caravaggio's death is being marked by an
exhibition of almost 30 of his paintings at the Scuderie del Quirinale. The
show was pulled together hastily and suffers from certain weaknesses and
omissions. The paintings of Caravaggio's Maltese period are sadly under-
represented; his last two pictures have not been procured; and the
magnificently morbid David with the Head of Goliath, which was
certainly painted in 1606, straight after the murder of Tomassoni, has
once again been romantically misdated to the end of Caravaggio's life.
These quibbles aside, this is a thrilling exhibition, worth seeing alone for
the bleak and moving pictures that the artist painted in Sicily, just before
the last year of his life. With all due respect to Scorsese, the truth is that
no one has ever quite managed to do Jesus like Caravaggio. Caravaggio,
Scuderie del Quirinale, Rome (www.scuderiequirinale.it) to Jun 13
'Caravaggio: A Life Sacred and Profane', by Andrew Graham-Dixon, is
out in July, published by Allen Lane This review also appears in Seven
magazine, free with The Sunday Telegraph

 ITALY - Venice: laid-back lodgings near La Serenissima - The
  Guardian

Camping in Venice does not sound the most glamorous way to stay in
one of the world's most romantic cities, and, indeed, there are no camping
sites in the Serenissima itself. There are plenty in the surrounding
countryside and beaches but a newcomer offers a unique experience.
Federico and Emanuela Padoan describe I Canonici di San Marco, about
30 minutes west of Venice, as a "luxurious tented lodge", and as we walk
down a pretty meadow that is actually their back garden I feel as if I'm
arriving in some luxury safari lodge. Instead of zebras and lions, I can see
a partridge preening itself outside the entrance, and I'm told to expect to
see hares hopping across the field as the sun begins to set. Deepest Africa
this may not be, but the canals and the Doge's palace could be a million
miles away. Pulling back the tent flap and walking into the lodge, I'm at
first surprised at just how large and comfortable it is. Resembling a
spacious studio apartment, it has every luxurious mod con you could
imagine, a colonial-style ceiling fan for the hot months and, crucially,
mosquito screens everywhere. Federica is a keen interior designer and has
decorated the lodge, which can sleep up to four, with tasteful antiques.
The wardrobe is 1920s art nouveau, a decorative cast iron grill under the
sink comes from a bordello in Sicily, and the rather small Victorian tin
bathtub (of which she is very proud) was found in an English flea market.
Fortunately there is also a modern shower. There is a complimentary
bottle of Prosecco by the bedside, while breakfast is very Italian – cakes
and pastries baked by Federica, strong coffee, fresh fruit and yogurt –
discreetly left outside the lodge in the morning. What is so attractive
about I Canonici is that staying here gives me the chance to enjoy the best
of two worlds – easy, cheap access into Venice, and the opportunity to
explore the unspoilt countryside of the Veneto. Rather than drive into
Venice, which entails interminable traffic jams and prohibitively
expensive car parks, I take a short pleasant walk along a picturesque
canal to Mira Mirano station, and 20 minutes later I'm getting out in
Santa Lucia right on the Grand Canal – a return ticket costs €3.60. And
after a long day sightseeing, rather than get ripped off in the city, I hop
back on the train, enjoy an aperitivo with Federico and Emanuela, and
then eat at nearby Da Conte, a wonderful gourmet restaurant with a stellar
wine list of vintages from the surrounding vineyards. While it is tempting
each day to head back to Venice, there is a lot to see nearby. The lodge is
halfway between Mira – right on the Brenta Canal which is lined by
fabulous Palladian villas used as summer homes by Venetian nobility –
and surprisingly hip Mirano, with its chic boutiques and bars, plus
traditional osterie serving home cooking. I Canonici has been taking
bookings since the end of last year and is the first luxury tent lodge of its
kind in Italy. Emanuela and Federico have grand plans to pitch half a
dozen more in their extensive grounds, this time with private plunge
pools. They will also pick you up from the airport and lend you their
bikes. The price of €65 a night for two, including breakfast, could not be
more reasonable. For the moment, all that is lacking is a detailed website,
but that should be online in the next couple of weeks. • +39 348 722
5577, viacanonici.com

 ITALY - Italy's Basaldella brothers feted - ANSA.it

A major new retrospective of Italy's Basaldella brothers - abstract painter
Afro and sculptors Dino and Mirko - has opened near their native city of
Udine. Around 70 paintings by Afro (1912-1976) and 100 sculptures by
Dino (1909-1977) and Mirko (1910-1969) are on display at Villa Manin
in the town of Passariano for the show, which includes four works never
seen               before           by             the              public.
"It's a selection of works made at the highest level," said curator Marco
Goldin. In addition to loans from Italian museums including Rome's
National Gallery of Modern Art and pieces from private collections, a
number of works have been contributed by various branches of the
Basaldella family. "It's very emotional seeing them all together," said
Dino's daughter Caterina said at the opening of the exhibition. The new
show comes more than 20 years after the last exhibit focusing on the
brothers at Udine's Modern Art Gallery and re-examines their work in the
light of recent studies. "The idea is not to separate the three brothers but
to make it possible to understand how, at times, the designs of the three
were quite close," said Goldin. The exhibition "underlines the different
personalities of the three artists, but also their reciprocal influences," he
said. The show kicks off with a section dedicated to the brothers'
beginnings in Udine, where their painter-decorator father was killed in
the war in 1919 while they were still children. This section includes the
brothers' early artistic efforts as well as the four works on show to the
public for the first time: two self-portraits by Afro from 1931 and 1934,
his Borgo San Lazzaro (1938), and Mirko's 1939 terracotta sculpture of
the Italian painter Giuseppe Capogrossi. The following sections tracks the
brother's steady move away from figurative and into abstract art, tracing
periods they spent in Milan and Rome - characterised above all by Afro's
landscape paintings of the city - through to their later years. Highlights
include a room dedicated to paintings of the family, including Afro's
portrait of Mirko and another of Dino's son, Leo. The youngest of the
brothers, Afro first exhibited his work at the age of 16 and went on to win
worldwide acclaim for what former Guggenheim Museum director James
J. Sweeney described as the "festive glorification of light and life" that
characterises his paintings. He died in Zurich aged 64. Among works by
the eldest brother, Dino, on display in the Villa Manin show is the Eel
Fisher (1934), a bronze sculpture of a naked fisherman holding an eel,
and Spartacus (1934), a two-metre-high iron construction resembling
shards of Roman breastplate. Dino's public works include the Resistance
Monument in his hometown of Udine, where he died aged 67. Sculptures
by middle brother Mirko on show here include his bronze Chimera
(1954), a wooden Great Red Priest (1964) and other pieces that reflect his
interest in mythical icons and totems. Mirko died in Cambridge,
Massachusetts at the age of 59 while working as director of the design
laboratory at Harvard University. The Basaldellas: Dino, Mirko, Afro
runs at Villa Manin in Passariano until August

 ITALY - Amalfi coast mayor wants rid of garden gnomes -
  ANSA.it

A mayor on the Amalfi coast wants to get rid of garden gnomes in his
pretty clifftop village. "They cause an alteration of the natural
environment," Raffaele Ferraioli, mayor of Furore, told a local daily. But
some lovers of their statues of Snow White and her companions have
vowed to resist the mayor's wishes. "I'm against it. The next thing you
know they'll have us asking permission to plant a flower," a villager told
Corriere del Mezzogiorno. Sources on the Furore council, however, said a
'No gnome' ordnance had already been lined up. "They could be on their
way out any minute," they said. It is not known how many gnomes are in
the village, which has a population of 810. Furore, which gets its name
from the waves crashing below it, is a little-known gem midway between
Amalfi and Positano.

 ITALY - Rome beats Venice in Race for 2020 Olympics -
  Corriere della Sera

Rome has won. Not the football championship but the race for the 2020
Olympics, beating the generous, ambitious project from Venice.
Tomorrow the CONI (Italian Olympic committee) assessment working
party will examine the dossiers presented by Rome and Venice but
members are already leaning towards Rome. However, tomorrow‘s
meeting may not be the last. The working party could meet again on
Monday before delivering its report to CONI, which is chaired by Gianni
Petrucci. On decision day, Wednesday 19 May, the CONI executive
committee‘s 19 members will assemble before the full 78-member
national council convenes. The executive committee will examine the
assessment working party‘s report and vote by show of hands. There are
three options open: 1) Take both Rome‘s and Venice‘s proposals to the
national council; 2) Support one of the proposals; 3) Decide that neither
proposal is worthy of presentation to the IOC (this option is unthinkable,
in practice). Rumours in the world of sport continue to be conflicting but
the consensus seems to be that both candidatures will be taken to the
national council, where voting will again be by a show of hands. Rome
will get the nod and Venice will have to bow out. The assessment
working party has completed a very detailed study and while there may
be a few final touches to add, or subtract, the road for the 2020 Olympics
leads to Rome. Athletes will be admiring the Colosseum, not gondolas on
the Grand Canal. Venice‘s dossier was received favourably, and in some
respects with excitement, but it is seen as lacking on the hospitality front.
Rome offers certainties; Venice doesn‘t. We could start a discussion at
this point but that‘s how things are. Rome has a vocation for hosting
major events, whether sporting, political or religious, which is reassuring
for a CONI that has to present a winning candidature to the IOC. More
than 20,000 sports-related visitors (athletes, trainers and Olympic
officials) are expected, along with 28,000 journalists and media
professionals, and many thousands of fans. Rome is seen as better
prepared. Those with the task of making a decision also see Venice as
weaker for the Paralympics, the event that traditionally follows the
Olympics. The lagoon city is not an easy one and has too many barriers
for those with special needs or difficulties. Another factor weighing in
Rome‘s favour is that CONI will have to take the proposal to the IOC,
which will be selecting the Olympic city in 2013. The IOC is open to new
ideas but baulks at revolutionary candidatures. What it‘s looking for is
certainty, particularly at a time of world economic crisis. There can be no
argument that from this perspective, Rome is ahead of Venice, viewed as
being too innovative for the tastes of the IOC. Italy‘s position in the
politics of sport also gives the country a boost in the race for the 2020
Olympics. The IOC ‗s vice president (it is chaired by Jacques Rogge) is
Mario Pescante. Franco Carraro is president of the Olympic programme
commission and Lello Pagnozzi is secretary of the association of
European Olympic committees. The first two are also influential
members of the IOC. Another favourable circumstance is that no African
countries are likely to offer candidatures since South Africa has already
had the World Cup (11 June – 11 July). Russia is due to host the Winter
Olympics at Sochi in 2014 while India had evident problems with even
the Commonwealth Games. Closer to home, other European countries are
unlikely to offer proposals because Germany has a strong candidate to
replace Mr Rogge, whose mandate expires in 2013, in Thomas Bach, and
France looks set, sadly, to get the 2016 European football championships.
That‘s why Rome will be hosting the 2020 Olympics.

 ITALY- UNESCO Fondazione Dolomiti created in Veneto -
  Travel Trade Italia

The Dolomites finally have a foundation that will handle their protection
and promotion in the world in a unified way. One year after UNESCO's
decision to place the Dolomites on the natural World Heritage list, the
Veneto and Friuli Venezia Giulia Regions alongside the Provinces of
Belluno, Bolzano, Trento, Udine and Pordenone have signed the
agreement for the creation of the Fondazione Dolomiti UNESCO. "The
Dolomites are considered some of the most beautiful mountain
landscapes in the world", stated the Regional Tourism Councillor of
Veneto Marino Finozzi: it is our duty to think about a development that
does not clash with conservation, a tourism that is familiar with and can
appreciate the spirit of the mountain. I believe it is important to focus on
the education of tourists who will come to visit this area ". The
Fondazione Dolomiti Unesco has the task of  harmonising
territorial management policies and adopting new tools for the
safeguarding, protection, preservation and improvement of this area.

 LITHUANIA - Lithuanian Tourism Department presented 10
  sightseeing objects in framework of Great Baltic Travel 2010 -
  The Baltic Course

Lithuanian State Tourism Department in collaboration with Estonian
Tourism Development Center, Latvian State Agency for Tourism
Development (TAVA) and Lithuanian State Tourism Department
presented ten tourism objects in course of Great Baltic Travel 2010
campaign all over Lithuania. The pan-Baltic travelling promotion trip
included ten prominent tourism objects in Vilnius, Klaipeda, Nida,
Salakas, Druskininkai, Suderve, Anyksciai, Kuciai, Siauliai, and was
attended by most popular mass-media representatives and tourism market
specialists from the three neighboring states, informs LETA/ELTA.
Similar Great Baltic Travel events for press representatives of the Baltic
States will be held in Latvia on May 26-28 and Estonia on June 9-11, this
year. The ten objects of interest, which included cultural, entertainment,
extreme and recreation activities, were chosen for the event by Lithuanian
Tourism Department in cooperation with tourism information centers.
Great Baltic Travel 2010 is a campaign for adventurers and tourism
devotees in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. Active travelers are invited to
explore unique sightseeing, historical buildings, architectural beauties,
adventure and water parks, museums and areas of outstanding natural
beauty of the Baltic states. In total, ten sightseeing places are chosen in
each Baltic country, thirty in overall, and they are announced in the
beginning of May, motivating inhabitants of Latvia, Lithuania and
Estonia to travel over and explore their native region which offers so
many recreation and travelling possibilities both for those preferring
active rest and calm outer activities. The event is held for the fourth year
in a row. The main supporters of Great Baltic Travel campaign are
Latvian national airline airBaltic and a chain of hotels Radisson SAS.
Lithuania this year has put forward adventure and entertainment park One
on a coast of Nemunas river for active rest devotees; stone sculpture park
Vilnoja in Vilnius district for those interested by contemporary art, and
those who are willing to step closer to modern ; Vask Figure Museum in
Vilnius Old Town, Sea Museum in Salakas village, Anyksciai summer
sledge track, manor Bistrampolis in Kuciai, Frenkelis villa in Siauliai,
picturesque Parnidis nature path and Parnidis Dune fro mthe top of which
one can see the Curonian Lagoon and a coast of Baltic Sea and Kaunas
Christ Recreation Church, and historical Klaipeda Castle muse. In
Latvia, tourists are offered to see Godesverder in Turaida, float Daugava
with a wiking boat Lacplesis, to visit Aviation Technique Museum,
S.Eizenstein Communication Center in Keipene, go to Aglona, have a trip
on a river boat New Way, visit Ventspils-based Irbenes radar facility
near, Ventspils Water Park, and observe wild horses in Pape Nature Park.
In Estonia, Seidla windmills, Soomaa National Park, Jaaniraotu Bird
Park, Kasmu Captains Village and Estonian Broadcasting Museum are
offered for all interested. The exact terms and description of destinations
of the campaign are published on a website www.greatbaltic.eu , and
there area also leaflets for those planning to take part in the campaign and
entertaining photo-shooting competition to win prizes. The leaflets are
also distributed in all tourism information centres in the three Baltic
States. The Great Baltic Travel campaign is co-financed by the European
Fund for Regional Development.

 OMAN - Opportunity For Niche Tourism The magnificent
  geology of Oman - eTurboNews.com

Oman is replete with nature‘s unique geological features. Here, you can
find nature as a great artist. The country offers a unique experience with
geological wonders, which are natural works of art. Taking advantage of
these amazing natural sculptures, the government of Oman is toying with
an idea of making these wonderful sites a place for tourists where they
can marvel at the geology of Oman. Geology is the study of the Earth, the
materials of which it is made, the structure of those materials, and the
processes acting upon them. The rock formations here, eerily taking
weird shapes, have a history hidden beneath their surface. Oman is a land
with a history that can be traced back more than 800 million years. Oman
already has a small yet fascinating geotourism niche industry that caters
mainly to special interest groups. Now, a Task Force from various
government ministries, SQU, and the Geological Society of Oman are
working on a plan to set up geoparks in Oman. Over the past 800 million
years, nature has shaped plenty of natural wonders in Oman. Crystalline
rocks, the high peaks, geodes, sedimentary rocks, fossils, enchanted
gorges, adventurous caves, and grave yards all amaze the tourists.
According to sources, the geotourism plan includes taking limited
numbers of tourists around to the areas where geological features can be
seen, as well as publishing material that highlights the natural landforms
and geological heritage. Geotourism is fast catching on in many
countries. Said Dr. Mahmood Al Mahrooqi, president of the Geological
Society of Oman: "The geology of Oman is unique. Nowadays the rocks
in Oman show a fascinating beauty, because they were formed over many
millions of years, when the Sultanate was covered by the sea, salt lakes,
scraped by glaciers, crushed by moving continents, and carved by rivers
and winds." He added: "People are interested in rocks. We regularly
conduct field trips for people to see the geology of Oman. Even people
from abroad come to see the geological heritage of Oman, which is
exposed on [the] surface, unlike in other countries where usually it is
found underneath."

   PORTUGAL - Algarve surprises: Cliff Richard's vineyard and
    Boliqueime's perfect villas - Mail Online

Rain interruptions at Wimbledon aside, I'd always thought Sir Cliff
Richard was best enjoyed while wearing soundproof headphones. 'We're
all going on a summer holiday?' No thanks. But after sampling his wine, I
take it all back. Sir Cliff's personal vineyard, deep in Portugal's Algarve,
is a pleasant surprise within one of Europe's most accessible holiday
destinations. The Adega Do Cantor (as it's called) is the result of our
Cliff's passion for the region — which goes back 40 years. Deep in the
countryside of Boliqueime — home to the family of the Portuguese
president — high above the bustling Algarve, we were 20 minutes from
the coast and you could see the Atlantic ocean shimmering in the
distance. Described as a 'country house' in the brochure, Casa de
Montanha felt more like a small hotel than a typical villa, with two pools,
a games room with a pool and ping-pong table, four different levels and
lush, beautifully manicured grounds. Officially, there was
accommodation for 16 — including a King and Queen's suite detached
from the main property. Boliqueime is quiet, but welcoming. Small
businesses trade in fresh fruit and other local produce, while a handful of
bars and restaurants do a good trade in the Brazilian cocktail Caipirinha
and piri-piri chicken. The locals were unfailingly friendly. One offered us
herbs from her garden after the shops had run out. It's that kind of place.
Vintage Travel (www.vintagetravel.co.uk) offers stays at Casa da
Montanha from £1,995 for up to 10 people, and up to £3,195 for between
15 and 16 guests at this time. Flights and car hire are not included, but
can be arranged independently or by the company on request.

 ROMANIA - Romanian tourist resorts to                        offer   free
  accommodation nights - Romanian Times Online

Tourists in Romania can get free accommodation, in a bid by local
operators to boost the industry. The National Agency of Tour Operators
(ANAT) launched the new programme, in collaboration with hotels in
Romania, offering one or two free nights. The offers cover the period 15
June -15 July or 15 August - 31 August where holiday makers pay for
five nights and get six or seven included. Offers are available through
ANAT-member tour operators exclusively. The offers are a bid to
encourage tourists to spend their holidays in Romania.

 SCOTLAND - Tourism chief wants industry ‘partnership of
  equals’ between public and private sectors - Herald Scotland

Dr Mike Cantlay, the new chairman of VisitScotland has signalled a
major shift in public sector support for industry-led ―destination
management organisations‖ (DMOs), calling their growth ―exciting‖, and
asserting that ―industry taking ownership into its own hands is exactly the
way to go‖. Dr Cantlay was responding to an ―open letter‖ addressed to
him in the Sunday Herald earlier this month by industry expert David
MacIntyre urging a ―partnership of equals‖ between the public and
private sectors. Stressing that tourism was ―in (his) blood‖, and that his
―first memory of serving tourists was when I was just six, helping out in
my dad‘s store‖, Dr Cantlay described his passion for Scotland and its
―resilient‖ tourist industry. He stressed his desire ―to lead both public and
private sectors, to unlock the potential of Scottish tourism (and) sing
Scotland‘s praises to the world, and working in partnership with the
industry drive home the message that tourism is truly everyone‘s
business.‖ But in a significant shift from the stance of his predecessor
Peter Lederer, seen by some in the industry as ―philosophically out of
tune‖ with destination marketing organisations, Cantlay goes on to say
that he is ―excited by the growth in DMO throughout Scotland‖ and that
―significant consolidation of these groups is inevitable‖. He writes: ―I
believe that the Scottish Tourism Forum can play a role in galvanising
industry to create one clear unified voice. ―I‘m encouraged to see the
support of DMOs from other government agencies and local authorities.
―As for VisitScotland, we have created a Growth Fund of £1million
which supports credible marketing initiatives brought forward from
DMOs. ―I like this approach and if funding were available I‘d be
delighted to see it extended.‖ But Dr Cantlay declined to endorse
MacIntyre‘s suggestion that £2m should be redirected from the public
sector tourism budget into strengthening tourist-facing grass roots
organisations, saying: ―I have to say that if £2m was to become available,
my urgent priority for Scottish tourism is marketing. ―President Obama
has transformed the world of international destination promotion by
signing off a £100m marketing package, to be similarly matched by
American industry, to tempt holidaymakers to the USA. ―Destinations
around the world are responding and Scotland must take note. At the end
of the day VisitScotland exists to do what industry cannot.‖ Dr Cantlay
also notes that ―the return on VisitScotland‘s marketing activity is
consistently above £20 for every £1 invested, which in economic -
development terms is truly remarkable.‖ He has declared his intention to
tour Scotland to elicit industry views, and has compared the industry-
public sector effort to ―steal a march on the international competition‖ to
the Tour de France ―where the lead often changes during the tough uphill
stretches.‖ Responding to the comments David MacIntyre, a former
director of the Scottish Tourism Board, told the Sunday Herald: ―I am
delighted by Mike Cantlay‘s positive response to my article, and I‘m sure
he will do a fantastic job as chairman. ―I think we both know the Scottish
Tourism Forum (STF) needs to be radically changed, as we need to have
a body with more of a cutting edge that is truly representative of the
industry rather than beholden to it‘s public sector paymasters. ―It is my
view that the STF should be funded directly from government, rather than
through VisitScotland – it‘s a subtle but important difference.‖ MacIntyre
also re-iterated his belief that £2m should be found from the total £118m
spent by the Scottish government and its agencies on tourism in order to
support local DMOs. He said: ―From a budget that size it would not be
difficult to find a small percentage to spend on local structures that
deliver growth and VisitScotland should not exclude themselves from the
search for (spending cuts). ―If they had fewer tourism marketing products
they would need fewer people to run them. ―VisitScotland tends to equate
‗marketing‘ with what they do in international exhibitions and through
the website visitscotland.com, but they neglect the fact that the best
marketing tool should be satisfied customers who will return to Scotland
and recommend it to their friends. ―We need to maximise this ―lifetime
marketing and DMOs can do this, but VS can‘t because they don‘t have a
relationship with the tourists when they are actually here.‖

 SPAIN - Mallorcan hotel group targets Mice growth - ABTN

Mallorca is not usually associated with business travellers and the Mice
(meetings, incentives, conferences and events) market. For most Brits,
the Balearic island is synonymous with the package holiday; think Club
18-30 in Magaluf or the stylish Porto Pollenca resort, a favourite family
getaway. But as the global economies creep out of recession, one hotel
group is targeting UK corporates as the island sets its stall out to become
the value for money Mice destination in Europe. Blau Hotels and Resorts
- a 100% Mallorcan-owned business - has, historically, earned its keep in
the leisure sector, with 10 luxury hotels in Spain, Cuba and the
Dominican Republic. Its five-star property in PortoPetro - on the secluded
south east coast of Mallorca - has already cut its teeth in the Mice
business. Customers have come from the pharmaceutical and automotive
industries, to name but a few, and from a gamut of countries across the
globe. The pinnacle, last year, was reached when German car
manufacturer Mercedes chose the hotel as the place to launch its latest E
Class model. But the hotel's general manager Oguz Birced is as
experienced as they come in the Spanish hospitality sector, and he is
acutely aware that the hotel cannot lunch-out on one major event,
especially after a global recession. The Turkish-born Spaniard speaks
with a passion and depth of knowledge that fill Blau's owners with
confidence; their hotel is in good hands. As I interview him in the lobby,
he twice stops mid-sentence to dash and greet potential corporate
customers who are visiting the hotel. "The crisis was bad for everyone,
but we felt it bad from September last year," he recounts. "Although the
hotel normally closes over winter, in 2008 we didn't shut until late
November and then we were open again from the beginning of January
and full for three months [because of the Mercedes event]. "The start to
this year has been more challenging." Birced is philosophical about the
hotel's recent struggle. He knows the dip was down to market forces and
entirely out with his control. But he cuts an optimistic character, and
believes his staff has the right strategy to make their Mice business
lucrative throughout the rest of the year. "Prospects are good for this
year," he says. "Every week we are taking new bookings. "In May we are
almost full and June and July are shaping up extremely well. "But the
Mice market is extremely hard to predict. If anything we have noticed
that companies are leaving decisions until the last possible minute. Of
course this presents a challenge for us. But we have learned that we must
be the hotel that never says no; we must be as flexible as Olympic
gymnasts." The UK's Association of Independent Tour Operators is to
hold its annual overseas conference at the Blau PortoPetro this month.
"We know they looked at a number of different venues, so we were
delighted they chose us," says Birced. The Blau sales pitch for Mice
business is compelling. Mallorca, off the back of its long and successful
relationship with the leisure sector, has an airport hub connected to most
regional and city airports across Europe, and flight times are relatively
short, which will appeal to event organisers. And the PortoPetro resort
has full congress and meetings facilities, and an auditorium that seats up
to 500 people. The corporate travel sector has changed radically since the
glory days of early 2008. No one quite knows what normal is going to
look like in the future, you just need to talk to the airlines to understand
that. However, there in an opportunity for suppliers, such as Blau Hotels,
to demonstrate the worth they can bring to the supply chain. Because
value-for-money       is     the    new      name       of     the    game.
 http://www.blauhotels.com/portopetro/default-en.html
 SWITZERLAND - Underground skyscraper serves as FIFA's
  unique headquarters - Deutsche Welle

The unusual new headquarters for the International Association of
Association Football (FIFA) now stands in one of Zurich's most exclusive
neighborhoods. For around 145 million euros ($184 million), FIFA's 208
member countries chipped in to develop a "skyscraper" that is largely
underground. Building was completed three years ago, well in time for
the 2010 World Cup in June. The unique building unfolds along 134
meters (440 feet) in a series of sleek, glassy partitions. But not everyone
occupying its offices has made peace with the design by Swiss architect
Tilla Theus, in which understatement trumps grandeur, at least on the
surface. "The house we were in before was much prettier, of course," said
FIFA President Joseph Blatter. "There, I had a view of the lake, but on
the other hand, we're not out to look impressive." Once inside the
building, visitors can see that it's comprised of multiple stories. Two
thirds of the headquarters lie underground and include space for archives,
parking, meetings, technology and a prayer room. The segment above
ground houses offices for 300 employees, the reception area and a
conference room. Although the building's simple exterior blends in with
the woody landscape, the interior is marked by rich material luxury. Its
design features costly works from glass, Brazilian shale, and American
walnut wood. The aluminium walls in the headquarters were hammered
from a specially constructed machine and are adorned with chrome steel
hand railings that artfully reflect the light streaming inside. Modesty was
clearly not at the fore in constructing FIFA's interior - a fact which
reflects the success of the organization as a whole under Blatter's firm
leadership. During his tenure, FIFA has grown from a shaky venture to an
international organization with a global scope In contrast to many
parliamentary buildings, where glassy, transparent exteriors suggest the
ability of the outside world to keep an eye on its elected officials, FIFA's
underground design closes it off to the public. The third of its five
underground stories contains the executive committee's meeting chamber.
Inside, aluminium walls and a cool, lapis lazuli floor lend the chamber a
hermetic and enclosed feel. "Places where people make decisions should
only contain indirect light," said Joseph Blatter, "because the light should
come from the people themselves who are assembled there." Here in
FIFA's hidden center, a small circle of leaders reach decisions on new
reforms, rules, sanctions, legal issues and the conferral of world
championships. Sometimes the results of their meetings have a profound
impact on soccer worldwide. The importance of certain questions they
discuss explains why the FIFA headquarters is constructed the way it is,
said Joseph Blatter. "It's more important to me that the employees of
FIFA have direct access to sunlight rather than the executive committee
members, who are only occasionally here in the office," according to
Blatter. "Also, the room is closed off so that the result of a vote cannot be
known until we leave the chamber." FIFA's prayer room is also among
the most unusual points of its design. The onyx room opens upward
toward an indirect light and glitters like an oversized diamond. Visitors
can enter from one of two sides, and green arrows in the passageways
point toward Mecca as a service to Islamic FIFA members. Otherwise,
though, the room is bare and cold. "People of each religion agreed not to
include specific religious ornaments in order to create a neutral space for
everyone," said Theus. The sole adornment is two benches inside the
prayer space. The headquarters lie on FIFA Street, which was approved
by the city specifically for the new structure. "I'm really proud to be in
charge of this 'Home of FIFA,'" said Blatter and grinned. After a glimpse
inside, it's easy to see why.

 TUNISIA - Recent book retraces Tunisian naval history - Tunisia
  Online News

The Tunis Merchant Navy and Ports Office has recently issued an
interesting collective book retracing Tunisia‘s naval history, and the
evolution of maritime activity in Tunisia. The book entitled ―Portrait of a
constantly developing heritage‖ , is a real source of information for those
interested not only in the modern Tunisian navy but also in its millenary
history. The book includes a description of major Tunisian ports. Since
Carthage ports in Tunisia played a prominent role in developing bilateral
trade with various regions of the world. ―The history of Tunisia can be
said to have been written in her ports, it is also the story of the ports and
the mariners of Tunisia, as well as the role played by the merchant navy
and Ports Authority that this book relates‖, write the authors

 TURKEY - Ancient medicine bottle found in Bodrum - Hurriyet
  Daily News and Economic Review

An ancient terracotta medicine bottle has been found during an
excavation at a building site in the center of Bodrum, located between
two healthcare facilities. ―This the first known finding of a medicine
bottle from the Hellenistic period in ancient Halicarnassus,‖ said
archaeologist Ece Benli Bağcı, referring to the present-day city center. ―It
has been identified using similar objects known to archaeologists, which
were found in Priene [near present-day Söke] and other neighboring
ancient city-sites, and bears a stamp identifying the name of the original
dispensing pharmacist.‖ Bodrum archaeologists plan to conduct research
looking for any possible connection between the bottle and Hippocrates‘
medicine school, the Asklepion in ancient Kos, the Greek island nearest
to Bodrum. When excavations on a building site revealed deeply buried
ancient walls, the Bodrum Museum Directorate stopped the construction
work, and two archaeologists from the museum, Bağcı and Bahadır
Berkaya, began a rescue excavation that has taken place over the last few
weeks. The archaeologists have found the remains of walls and water
pipes as well as five terracotta sarcophagi containing skeleton remains,
thus far identified as from the Hellenistic period (330 to 30 B.C.),
embedded in walls on the site and lying near a freshwater spring. The
newly revealed spring is surrounded by rocks and shaped blocks on a
platform that indicates ancient usage. The spring‘s water has remained
level since exposure and seems to be fresh. An archaeological student
group and Professor Poul Pederson from the University of Southern
Denmark‘s Halicarnassus Studies Department visited Bodrum by chance
on a week-long student tour and were delighted to be able to see the
tombs and structures in situ. The landowner of the site is reportedly ready
to preserve the ancient finds in one corner of the block as part of the new
construction. The future use of the site will be decided by the Muğla
Protection of Natural and Cultural Assets Committee

 TURKEY - 'Dry run' for Princes' Islands ferries - Hurriyet Daily
  News and Economic Review

The departure of a ferry between Istanbul‘s Kabataş pier and the Princes‘
Islands was delayed when the captain allegedly refused to operate the
boat because some passengers were drinking alcohol onboard, daily
Milliyet reported Sunday. According to a story published Saturday by the
Internet newspaper Gazeteport, the captain delayed the vessel‘s departure
for 40 minutes because he was suspicious that passengers might drink
alcohol during the voyage. Pier officials allegedly first asked the
passengers whether they were carrying alcoholic beverages and then
asked to search their bags. After the passengers boarded, the captain
reportedly delayed the voyage. Passengers who protested the delay were
transferred to another ferry, which was subject to a police search on
Kınaliada, one of the Princes‘ Islands off the coast of Istanbul, to find out
whether there were drinkers onboard. An official from Istanbul Fast
Ferries Co. Inc., or İDO, confirmed the delay to daily Milliyet but
rejected the allegations about its cause, saying it was based on actual
occurrences rather than the captain‘s suspicions. The official, whose
identity was not revealed by the newspaper, said a group of passengers
boarding at Kabataş pier walked to the boat‘s front deck and set up a
―drinker‘s table.‖ The captain sent ferry security to warn them against
drinking onboard, but, according to the official, the passengers neither
left the ferry nor stopped drinking. ―As a result, the captain decided not to
run the boat to prevent other passengers from being inconvenienced,
relying on the law against alcohol and cigarette consumption on sea
vessels,‖ the İDO official said. The official added that police were
informed of the incident on account of the group‘s reported insistence on
staying onboard while the other passengers were transferred to another
boat. ―However, by the time the police had arrived, the drinking
passengers were already mixed in with the rest and went to the other ship
without being noticed,‖ the official said, adding that was the reason for
the search at Kınaliada, the vessel‘s first stop on the islands. According to
the official, the pre-boarding bag search was done to prevent peddlers
from going onboard. ―To maximize customer gratification, İDO has taken
measures to prevent inconveniences for passengers, basing the actions on
surveys,‖ the official said. ―The surveys showed that passengers are
disturbed by smokers, alcohol drinkers and peddlers, and we have banned
them all.‖ The new practices have reportedly been in effect since May 5

 TURKEY - Bodrum to mark Museum Day - Hurriyet Daily News
  and Economic Review
The Bodrum Museum will join private museums around Turkey on
Tuesday in hosting a number of activities to promote public awareness
and appreciation of the country‘s museums. International Museum Day is
the day nominated by UNESCO to celebrate and promote museums
around the world; Turkey has chosen to make it the start of a Museum
Week for a number of years. Like many museums in Turkey, the Bodrum
Museum will keep its doors open late into the night, until 11 p.m., on
Museum Day to encourage locals and visitors to come and enjoy its
exhibitions. Entry will be free to all Tuesday. Bodrum will also host
many other activities to mark Museum Day. The young 100-strong dance
group Karya Ciçekleri (Carian Flowers) will perform some of its dances
in front of the entrance to Bodrum Castle at 2:30 p.m. An hour later, a
ceramic-artworks exhibition by Tufan Dağıstanlı, titled ―Akdeniz‘in
Yaşayan Tekneleri ve Amphoralar‖ (Mediterranean Ships and Amphora),
will open at the DÖSİMM Cafeteria. Bodrum Museum of Underwater
Archaeology Director Yaşar Yıldız will give a seminar on underwater
archaeology at the English Tower at 4:30 p.m. A concert by artists with
the Carian Culture and Arts Association, or KARSANAT, will be held
for the official opening ceremony at 7:30 p.m
 TURKEY - Turkish stuntmen partake in death-defying business,
  and business is good - Hurriyet Daily News and Economic Review

Stunt Coordinator Fatih Uğurlu, 25, is the first Turkish stuntman with
certificates from both Hollywood and Hong Kong. He became interested
in the profession at a young age after watching action movies, especially
those starring Bruce Lee and Jackie Chen. He started shooting amateur
action scenes with friends while training in gymnastics, Tae Kwon Do
and Kung Fu and watching documentaries and movies. He is also one of
Kocataş‘s former students. Uğurlu said his motivation stems from the
lack of production of such action movies in Turkey since it is a
worldwide market. When asked why this is so, he said: ―You need
[interested] producers, action directors and actors with the capacity for
both acting and fighting. We have lots of deficiencies in that area. It is not
only a matter of money.‖ His first professional job was a fight scene in
the popular Turkish mafia soap opera ―Kurtlar Vadisi‖ (Valley of
Wolves) in 2004. He was to be punched by an actor and fall down.
However, when he received the punch and deliberately bounced over the
table, knocked it over and fell, everybody on the set became worried.
―The director said cut and came to me asking, ‗Are you all right? Has
something happened to you? Why did you throw yourself like that?‘ I
said I wanted the scene to be better.‖ After that, he said he started to
become a wanted name on soap and movie sets. Uğurlu said he wanted to
develop himself more and decided to visit the U.S. in the summer of 2008
to earn a certificate. He went to Stunt University in Hollywood, Los
Angeles for a month. He received limited training because of the
expensive costs. ―My area of expertise is fighting and falling. We call
those ‗body stunts,‘ so I was trained in fighting, falling, breaking glass
and being set on fire.‖ He said he was happy when he received his
certificate, which according to him meant he was the first and only
stuntman in Turkey specially trained to do such stunt work. Next, he went
to Hong Kong twice to take Kung Fu lessons and for training at a school
associated with the Hong Kong Stuntmen Association, of which he is
now an official member. This month he is expecting to be called to Hong
Kong for an acting part besides stunts in an action film. He is planning to
take part in domestic work to be created among friends as well. Uğurlu is
also a senior student at a sports academy. He earns his living only by
doing stunts at the moment and intends to continue after graduation. ―I do
not think I will wear a suit and sit at a desk from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.,‖ he
said. He has also never had any accidents apart from minor scratches and
bruises yet. ―I would not do anything I believe cannot be done. I would
not let anyone who works with me do something like that either,‖ he said.
 TURKEY - Mersin prepares for int’l music festival - Hurriyet
  Daily News and Economic Review

The ninth Mersin International Music Festival will kick off Thursday
with a concert by pianist İdil Biret, accompanied by the Mersin State
Opera and Ballet, or MDOB. Speaking about the festival, Mersin Mayor
Hüseyin Aksoy said Mersin is a province where people of different
cultures and faiths live in peace together. ―This is why the city is home to
many cultural and art events. The Mersin Music Festival, which will be
held from May 20 to June 3, is one of the most important events of this
kind. One thing that makes the festival meaningful is that it receives
support from all of the city‘s groups and institutes,‖ he said. Aksoy said
the festival has improved itself and become stronger every year. ―The
festival is also important for the promotion of the city. This organization
has become a brand showing the modern face of the city to Turkey and
the world.‖ The festival‘s executive board chairman, Faik Burakgazi, said
the festival, which became a member of the European Festivals
Association, or EFA, in 2007, has proved to be high in quality not only to
Turkey but also to the whole world. He said that in nine years, the festival
has turned the city into a city of art. ―There are a great number of
intellectuals in the city and interest in arts and music increases every
other day. This also has a very positive effect on other aspects of life in
the city,‖ he said. Burakgazi also said this year a new award titled the
―Professor Nevit Kodallı Young Talent Award‖ would be presented at the
festival in honor of the late artist Kodallı, who was one of the first-
generation representatives of Turkish polyphonic music.

 TURKEY - Contemporary music platform for Eminönü -
  Hurriyet Daily News and Economic Review

A huge contemporary music platform dubbed ―The Morning Line‖ is
being constructed in Istanbul‘s Eminönü Square to host various events
and exhibitions through Sept. 19. The 17-ton, 8-meter-tall and 20-meter-
wide platform was designed as a result of three years of research by
architects Matthew Ritchie, Benjamin Aranda and Chris Lasch. It will be
equipped with 50 loudspeakers designed by the York University Music
Research Center. The platform is designed to highlight the interaction
between architecture, music, mathematics, cosmology and science. It will
be opened May 22 with musical performances. The opening will be
attended by Thyssen-Bornemisza Contemporary Art Museum Director
Princess Francesca von Habsburg, Istanbu l Mayor Kadir Topbaş, Fatih
Mayor Mustafa Demir, Istanbul 2010 European Capital of Culture agency
Executive Board Chairman Şekib Avdagiç, and architects Ritchie and
Aranda. The platform will host the Istanbul Contemporary Music
Festival, organized by the capital of culture agency, the Fatih
Municipality and the Austrian Thyssen-Bornemisza Contemporary Art
Museum. The festival, which runs from May 22 to 25, will feature the
world premiere of 10 new compositions

 TURKEY - Istanbul to host music legends this summer - Hurriyet
  Daily News and Economic Review

Music lovers in Istanbul will have a chance to listen to many world-
renowned artists and big-name bands this summer, with something for
fans of folk, rock, electronica and R&B alike. Grammy Award-winning
folk musician Cesaria Evora, six-time Grammy-nominee Akon, legendary
singer-songwriter Bob Dylan, popular R&B artist Rihanna, Grammy-
winning guitar legend Eric Clapton, singer-songwriter Steve Winwood,
electronic music duo Groove Armada, Italian singer Eros Ramazzotti,
British trip-hop band Massive Attack and electronica band Faithless, Irish
rock band The Cranberries and world-renown rock band U2 are just some
of the acts set to perform in Turkey over the next few months. Evora,
nicknamed the ―barefoot diva,‖ has sold more than 5 million copies of her
albums and will come to Istanbul as part of the world tour for her latest
release, ―Nha Sentimento.‖ Her concert will take place May 18 at the
Cemal Reşit Rey Concert Hall. Ticket prices are 53 Turkish Liras and 64
liras. Six-time Grammy-nominee Akon, who broke the solo-artist record
on the Billboard Hot 100 charts, will come to the Istanbul stage May 21.
The 12-hour Chill-Out Festival Istanbul, which will be organized in a
forest on the grounds of the Kemer Golf & Country Club on May 23, will
feature everything from jazz to trip-hop and Latin to ethnic-style music.
Caravan Palace, Bonobo Orchestra, Tunng, Alex Cuba Band, Club des
Belugas, Lucky Elephant and Palov&Mishki are among the names that
will grace the stage. The ticket price for the festival is 67.5 liras. Bob
Dylan, one of the greatest musicians of modern times, will return to
Istanbul after 21 years, meeting his fans May 31 at the Cemil Topuzlu
Open-Air Stage. Tickets for the concert cost 270 or 325 liras. Grammy-
and MTV Music Award-winner Rihanna will perform June 3 at the
Turkcell Kuruçeşme Arena. Ticket prices are 135 and 360 liras. Eric
Clapton and Steve Winwood meet in Istanbul Eric Clapton, the
legendary guitarist with 19 Grammy Awards, and Steve Winwood, one of
the most striking names in rock music, will come together in Istanbul as
part of their European tour. The concert will be held at Santralistanbul in
June and ticket prices range between 99 and 370 liras. Geniuses of dance
music Groove Armada and The Ting Tings, who took the best song
award at the 2008 MTV Music Awards with ―Shut Up And Let Me Go,‖
are among the key names set to perform at the Efes Pilsen One Love
Festival 9, held June 20 at Santralistanbul. The festival will also feature
De La Soul, The Whitest Boy Alive and Wild Beasts. Ticket prices are
33.5 and 50 liras. The band Gotan Project, which combines tango and
Latin American melodies with ambient electronic music, will come to
Istanbul‘s Turkcell Kuruçeşme Arena on June 23 to promote its new
album, ―Tango 3.0.‖ Italian artist Eros Ramazotti, who released his latest
album ―Alie Radici‖ last year, is another performer who will take the
stage in Istanbul this summer. As part of his album tour, Ramazotti will
perform at the Turkcell Kuruçeşme Arena on July 7. Tickets for the
concert cost between 107.5 and 210 liras. Trip-hop pioneers Massive
Attack will meet Turkish fans on July 14 at the same venue. Ticket prices
are 77 and 160 liras. Armin Van Buuren, an up-and-coming name in
trance music, will be in Istanbul on July 16, performing at Maçka
Küçükçiftlik Park. Tickets are 56 liras. The Cranberries, known for
legendary songs such as ―Zombie,‖ ―Ridiculous Thoughts,‖ ―Ode to My
Family,‖ ―Linger‖ and ―Animal Instincts,‖ will return to Turkey after
seven years to perform two concerts, one at Istanbul‘s Küçükçiftlik Park
and one in the Aegean town of Çeşme. Prices for the July 22 and 23
concerts are 78 and 165 liras. Big meeting for U2 fans The world‘s
number-one rock group, U2, will come to Turkey as part of its ―360°
Tour.‖ The concert will be held at the Atatürk Olympic Stadium and
ticket prices range from 50 to 550 liras. Another living legend of rock,
Ozzy Osbourne, will come to Turkey at the end of the summer, playing
Sept. 30 at the Turkcell Kuruçeşme Arena

 TURKEY - Rhapsody in blue - - cruising the Turkish coastline -
  Today's Zaman

The cruises from Bodrum to Marmaris tend to cater to a better-heeled
bunch of passengers, although if you ask around you may be able to find
something not too budget-busting. There are not quite as many obvious
sites to visit along this route, although the scenery is uniformly
spectacular, with mountains soaring up beside you especially as you
cruise round the Gökova Körfezi (Gulf of Gökova). Just before you moor
in Marmaris, most of the boats put in at Cleopatra Island (aka Sedir
Adası), whose talcum-powder-fine sand is said to have been brought from
Egypt by Mark Anthony as a gift for his lover, Cleopatra. Most people
are too busy relaxing in water which has the consistency of a foamy bath
to bother about what else there may be to see here, but those of an
archeological bent will want to stride inland to inspect the remains of the
fortifications and theater of what was once Cedreae, a Carian settlement
that was later occupied by Greeks and is now gently slipping back into
the surrounding greenery. Most people have a fantastic time on their
Blue Cruise. Indeed, many list it as one of the highlights of their holiday.
Still, it's as well to be aware of a few things to look out for before making
your booking to avoid unpleasant surprises later. Most people seem to
prefer sleeping beneath the stars on the deck to using their cabin, but if
you think you will want to sleep inside you need to check that you will
not be expected to share not just a cabin but also a bed (or a very confined
space) with a stranger. The better cruises will certainly ensure that you
have at least one fish supper on board, but otherwise the quality and range
of food on offer can sometimes be disappointing -- and sweets seemingly
served as dessert have been known to show up on bills at an absurdly
inflated price at the end of the journey. Cruise companies routinely forbid
passengers from bringing their own alcohol on board. Some even forbid
you to bring your own water. While you may need to book ahead in July
and August to be sure of a berth, at other times of year you might want to
leave booking until the day before to make sure you don't find yourself
cruising through the rain. If at all possible, it makes sense to take a quick
look at the boat you will be sailing on before you commit yourself. It's all
a far cry from the days when the Fisherman and his friends had the coast
more or less to themselves, but given the right group of companions you
should have just as enchanting a time as they did

 UK - Hideout for Hollywood stars on the market - Times Online

THE St James‘s Hotel and Club, whose members have included Sir
Michael Caine and Sir Sean Connery, is up for sale for £60m. The luxury
venue, a stone‘s throw from the Ritz hotel in central London, has been
owned by the Landesberg and Rosenberg families, who are well known
property investors, for the past five years. They bought the site for £20m
from Sir Cyril Stein, the former boss of Ladbrokes, and have spent
millions refurbishing the property. The families have hired Savills and
Gerard Nolan & Partners, the property agents, to find a buyer after
receiving a number of approaches for the site. Analysts suggested the
Egyptian-owned Britannia Hospitality, which recently bought the nearby
Stafford hotel, could be tempted to bid. It would be possible to join the
two properties together to create one large hotel. Peter de Savary, the
leisure entrepreneur and a former chairman of Millwall Football Club,
opened the St James‘s Club in 1980, and it proved a hit with businessmen
and celebrities alike. He sold the site to Queens Moat Houses, the defunct
hotel operator, which in turn sold it to Stein. Other members of the club
have included Liza Minnelli, Lord Attenborough and Dudley Moore.
 UK - The 30 most beautiful UK cycle routes -Times Online

Britain has fallen in love with the bicycle. Cycle ownership has doubled
over the past decade and, for most of us, it‘s more than just a means of
transport — it‘s a new way to explore the country. Our guide to the most
scenic rides in the UK have been test-driven by cycling writer Paul
Kirkwood, who has been devising cycle routes for 30 years. As a rough
guide to the routes, expect to cover 8-10 miles an hour. A full day‘s ride
with stops for lunch and couple of sights is around 40 miles, about 15-20
miles for a gentle half-day ride. Here‘s the key to the difficulty ratings:
Easy No serious climbs and generally smooth riding surface. Suitable for
beginners and families. Moderate Some hills but none too long or
punishing. Suitable for those who want a bit of a challenge. Strenuous
Long distance and/or with some substantial climbs or off-road sections.
Only really suited to those who have done some cycling before…

 UK - Lord Triesman's careless talk leaves 2018 England's World
  Cup bid on rocks - Telegraph

England 2018 World Cup bid chief executive Andy Anson will lead a
delegation of senior figures to Fifa headquarters in Zurich this week in an
attempt to rescue the bid. This follows the damage caused by Lord
Triesman‘s allegations that rivals Spain and Russia are planning to bribe
referees at this summer‘s World Cup. Anson, international director David
Dein and chief-of-staff Simon Greenberg hope to visit Fifa House as soon
as possible to apologise personally to Sepp Blatter and distance
themselves from Triesman‘s comments, which last night cost the peer his
position as the most senior figure in English football. Lord Coe, a non-
executive director of the 2018 board, spoke directly to Blatter last night
and also plans to hold a face-to-face meeting with the Fifa president this
week as part of a desperate attempt to restore credibility to a campaign
that could be terminally damaged by Triesman‘s comments, revealed in a
Sunday newspaper sting. Last night the former Labour Party general-
secretary formally resigned from his £300,000-a-year roles as chairman
of both the Football Association and the 2018 bid. The Daily Telegraph
understands that while Triesman conceded his position with the bid was
untenable within hours of the allegations being put to him on Saturday
night, he was initially minded to remain as head of the governing body.
Following a board meeting at Wembley afternoon, which he addressed in
an attempt to retain his post, he conceded that his 2½-year tenure as the
most senior figure in English football was over.
 UK - Water, water all around: Britain's best island campsites -
  The Guardian & Away with the birds: Britain's most remotest
  campsite, in St Kilda - The Guardian

Anyone who has read Swallows and Amazons knows that there's only
one thing more exciting than camping out under the stars, and that's
camping out under the stars on an island. From the moment the Walker
children pitch their tent on fictional Wildcat island – based on Peel island,
in the middle of Coniston – you know they're going to have an adventure.
And while, in real life, there's no camping allowed on Peel island,
escapades galore await on its virtual namesake Piel island (open all year;
£5/tent). A mere dot of land off the Cumbrian coast, Piel has nothing but
a ruined castle, a pub (whose landlord is the official "King of Piel") and a
few houses – just the sort of place where an adventure really ought to
begin. Those who don't fancy frisky Atlantic waves could opt instead for
one of the Isles of Scilly. On St Mary's, the Garrison Campsite (open
Easter-October; from £7.25pp; 01720 422670) is set entirely within the
outer wall that once protected the west of the island and comes complete
with gun batteries. If that's a tad martial for your tastes, you can always
skip over to tiny Bryher (open April-September; £9.50pp; 01720
422559) with its simple sheltered field (but book early – it's very
popular). Or there's lovely St Agnes, where the camping ground glides
gently down to the beach – perfect for seal-watching expeditions (open
March-October; from £7pp, troytown.co.uk). Camping on Lundy, a
three-mile-long lump of rock cast adrift in the Bristol Channel, is a great
way of getting up close and personal with puffins, wild ponies and rare
Soay sheep. In these straitened times the campsite (open April-October;
from £8pp) run, like the rest of the island, by the Landmark Trust, also
offers a cheap-as-chips way of staying on the island, especially when its
quirky cottages are often booked solid. If it's a tan you're after, steer a
course for the Channel Islands and Alderney's Saye bay, where you can
set up home behind the sand dunes. No camping gear? No worries. Fully
equipped, ready erected tents are available (from Easter-September;
adults £5, children £2.50; pre-erected tents from £25 a night). Come
night-time, all you have to do is shake the sand from your hair and crawl
into your tent. While the gods of topography have also granted Wales
plenty of sandy beaches, they've been rather less lavish when it comes to
distributing diminutive isles. To make amends they came up with the
extraordinary Shell island on the edge of Tremadog bay. Only accessible
at low tide, it has a whopping 300 acres of humpy-bumpy hillocks given
over to camping, making it Europe's largest, and arguably wildest,
campsite (open March-October; adults from £6, 3-15s from £2.50). But
you really can't beat Scotland when it comes to finding an island home
for your tent. Not only are the seas dotted with a staggering 800 isles of
all sizes, but wild camping is enshrined in access legislation, and so legal
more or less anywhere (with a few sensible caveats) so the only difficulty
is in choosing where to go first. To whet your appetite, my favourite spots
include Tràigh Mhòr on Barra in the Western Isles, if only for the bizarre
sight of the aeroplanes from Glasgow using the beach as a runway twice a
day. And then there are the sheltered little nooks and crannies of Burray,
an overlooked chip off mainland Orkney. However, for that glorious end-
of-the-world feel, you can't beat camping wild on Tiree in the Inner
Hebrides. And it doesn't even have to be that wild. If your perfect end-of-
the-world includes loos, showers, microwave, kettle, toaster and – yes –
Wi-Fi, you're in luck: you can head for Balinoe, the island's first – and
only – campsite (open March-October; from £6pp). • Dixe Wills
(twitter.com/dixewills) is the author of Tiny Campsites (Punk, £10.95)
 UK - Gardeners' choice: 10 favourite green spaces - The Guardian

Ten experts pick their favourite gardens in the UK and Ireland ahead of
London's Open Garden Squares Weekend next month

  UK - London breaks: Westminster and a quick march through
the halls of power - Mail Online

After going through a metal scanner and having my security picture
taken, I passed a fountain decorated with a sculpture of a unicorn and a
sign reading 'God Save the Queen'. Then I entered the doorway guarded
by stone angels leading to the room in which Charles I was sentenced to
death. Westminster Hall (where Sir Thomas More and Guy Fawkes were
also tried before execution) was musty, cool and huge enough for at least
a couple of tennis courts. No sign of David Cameron or Nick Clegg: the
tourists sitting on benches were waiting for the start of their tour of the
Houses of Parliament, as was I. We were about to see the centre of what
all the political fuss is about. Our guide Jessica Taylor stepped up to
begin the swift-paced tour lasting one hour 15 minutes. She told us
William II built Westminster Hall in the 11th Century. It was a place for
banquets and also markets, with wig-sellers and fruit stalls. It is also, we
learnt, where monarchs lie in state - an honour occasionally given to
others, such as Winston Churchill, and the Queen Mother. And it is about
the only part of the Houses of Parliament to have survived the fire of
1834. Our group followed as Jessica zoomed through the Central Lobby
(where I glimpsed a statue of a stern-looking Gladstone), on to the
Queen's Robing Room. Used by monarchs for the State Opening of
Parliament, it is a gilded chamber, like a giant jewellery box, with a grand
chair at one side. The last person to sit on it was Queen Victoria. The
footstool to stop the little queen's legs dangling is still there. Jessica
pointed to a hidden doorway in a corner. Tours of Parliament take place
through August and September, also every Saturday from July 3. Tickets
£14                         (www.ticketmaster.co.uk/housesofparliament).


 UK - Martin Clunes new voice of Hotels.com - E-TID

Starting today (17 May), the campaign is specifically designed to
demonstrate the site's 'obsession' with hotels and focuses on why
consumers should book with it. The existing strapline – that travellers
‗Wake Up Happy‘ with Hotels.com – is retained, but the new campaign is
being used to introduce a ‗hotel obsessed‘ brand character, voiced by
Martin Clunes. The first three-week burst, which will include 20- and ten-
second TV spots across ITV, C4, five and major digital channels, will
focus on the number of hotels available – Hotels.com offers more than
120,000 – and the customer reviews of those properties. A follow-on
campaign, which will break after the World Cup finishes in July, will
repeat these themes and introduce Hotels.com's Price Match Guarantee
for its users. Matthew Walls, marketing director EMEA, Hotels.com,
said: ‗The Hotels.com brand is now well-established amongst our core
consumer base, so this campaign is about reinforcing the reasons to book
with us over our competitors. ‗The range of hotels that we offer along
with all the ways that we help our customers to find the best one for their
needs – from reviews to advanced search tools – set us apart from the
competition. ‗We also think the fact that our users can be certain they've
got the best price available if they book with Hotels.com will act as a big
draw.‘ Hotels.com benefits from one of the biggest hotel contracting
teams in the industry and features 1.8m reviews from users who have
actually stayed in the hotels it offers

 UK - Travel Daily UK Newsletter - 17th May 2010

The Latest Travel Daily UK Newsletter is available for download.

 UK - Stars reveal secrets to aid county tourism - North West
  Evening Mail

Personal postcards from top names including Dame Judi Dench, Richard
E Grant, Andrew Flintoff, Jonny Wilkinson, Elaine Paige, Charlie Watts,
The Saturdays, Matt Lucas, David Walliams, Tess Daly and Paul
O‘Grady are to be exhibited in Cumbria this month to mark the county‘s
progress six months after the November floods. Almost 100 postcards
written by celebrities will be showcased at a free ―Wish You Were Here‖
exhibition at Cockermouth Town Hall from May 20 to June 2, and will
then go on tour around the county. Cumbria Tourism launched the Wish
You Were Here campaign in the wake of the flooding to communicate
that the county is open for business and welcoming visitors. Celebrities
were invited to send postcards about why they love Cumbria and their
response has been overwhelming. Actors, including this year‘s BAFTA
winner Carey Mulligan, X-Men star Sir Patrick Stewart, Harry Potter
hero Robbie Coltrane, Bond girl Honor Blackman and Lord of the Rings‘
favourite Sir Ian McKellen have sent personal anecdotes and private
photographs to help support the campaign and encourage people to visit
those places that hold special memories for them. Television favourites
such as Weakest Link host Anne Robinson, GMTV‘s Ben Shephard,
Gavin and Stacey star Matt Horne, Ashes to Ashes cop Philip Glenister,
Royle Family funny man Ricky Tomlinson and Bo Selecta comedian
Leigh Francis have also sent paintings, drawings and messages of support
for the county along with sporting legends Sir Bobby Charlton, Sir Henry
Cooper and Gary Lineker. Cumbrian home-grown talent, including
Barrovian Hairy Biker Dave Myers, Blue Peter‘s Helen Skelton, West
Bromwich Albion goalie Scott Carson, South Lakes climbing prodigy
Leo Houlding, motorsport boss Malcolm Wilson and England Rugby
Union team captain Steve Borthwick, have all stepped up for their county
and contributed postcards revealing their favourite places in Cumbria. Ian
Stephens, chief executive of Cumbria Tourism said: ―The response from
these famous people has been incredible, they have gone over and above
what we asked of them and it‘s been heart warming to hear that so many
of these hugely talented people have a genuine fondness for Cumbria.‖
Every day until Wednesday a celebrity postcard will be published on the
dedicated Wish You Were Here website to celebrate the launch of the
exhibition. After the two-week run in Cockermouth, the exhibition will
tour Cumbria throughout the summer. For further information see
www.wishyouwereherecumbria.co.uk

 UK - Cumbria Tourism Awards 2010 - Winners Announced -
  Visit North West

The winners of the 2010 Cumbria Tourism Awards were revealed at a
glitzy ceremony at The Rheged Centre, Penrith last week. Hundreds of
tourism professionals and businesses from around the county gathered at
Rheged where the evening began with a drinks reception followed by a
celebratory dinner. Host for the evening was Stuart Maconie, TV and
radio presenter, who announced the winners and entertained the audience
with a series of Cumbria related anecdotes. Fifteen awards were
presented on the night, recognising excellence in business, customer
service and training and development. Each category winner received a
certificate and specially designed award, individually handcrafted by Jo
Vincent of Jo Vincent Glass Designers. The winners were: Taste of
Cumbria Ward – The Cottage in the Wood, Whinlatter. Guest
Accommodation of the Year – Number 43, Arnside. Large Visitor
Attraction of the Year – The World of Beatrix Potter – Bowness. Small
Visitor Attraction of the Year – Lake District Coast Aquarium, Maryport.
Sustainable Tourism Award – Elder Grove, Ambleside. Large Hotel of
the Year – Armathwaite Hall Country House Hotel and Spa,
Bassenthwaite. Small Hotel of the Year – Overwater Hall, Keswick. The
Lady Inglewood Award for Training & Development – Roundthorn
Country House, Penrith. Tourism Experience of the Year – Cumbrian
Heavy Horses, Millom. Holiday Park of the Year – Skelwith Fold
Caravan Park, Ambleside and Woodclose Park, Kirkby Lonsdale.
Tourism Event of the Year – Great North Swim, Windermere. Business
Tourism Award – North Lakes Hotel, Penrith. The Sheila Hensman
Award for Outstanding Customer Service – Alan Gillon, Learning and
Access Officer, The Beacon, Whitehaven. Self-catering Holiday of the
Year – Tottergill Farm Cottages, Brampton. Access for All Tourism
Award – The Beacon, Whitehaven
DATA & STATISTICS

 AUSTRIA - Every third Austrian to vacation in Austria -
  Austrian Independent Online

Every third Austrian who will go on holiday this year will do so in
Austria, according to the results of a new poll by the Institute for Tourism
and Leisure-Time Research released today (Mon). It said 10-to-15 per
cent of the 50 per cent of Austrians who were planning to go on holiday
had changed their minds about foreign destinations and would remain in
the country. The typical person who was planning a vacation in Austria
was over 30 years of age, resided in the country and had no children
younger than 15, the Institute noted. Austrian holidays were primarily a
question of education and income, since Austrians with higher education
and higher incomes were more likely to go abroad. Domestic vacations
would last 7.6 days on average, those abroad 12.7 days on average. The
most-popular destinations for Austrian holidays were the provinces of
Carinthia and Styria, with Vienna being the least popular. Forty-three per
cent of residents of Lower Austria who go on holiday will do so in
Austria, whereas only 16 per cent of Tyroleans will do so. The Institute
polled 1,000 people older than 15

 BULGARIA - Bulgaria Boasts 3.2% Increase in Winter Tourism
  Y/Y- Novinite.com

During the traditional months for winter tourism in Bulgaria, January and
February, the industry had registered a 3.2% growth compared to the
same period of 2009. The data was revealed for the media Saturday by
Economy Minister, Traicho Traikov, who said the revenues for the same
months in 2010 have been EUR 190 M while Bulgarians spent on
vacations abroad EUR 130 M. A stark change in the ratio of countries
sending most tourists to Bulgaria in the winter has been registered during
the 2010 winter season – in previous years 80% of them came from the
UK and Russia while in 2010 most came from neighboring countries.
Since the beginning of 2010, hotel owners in Bulgaria‘s winter resort of
Bansko have been reporting having most reservations from Greece,
Serbia and Macedonia. There is also an increase of Romanian visitors,
but on a smaller scale. Foreign tourists have spent an average of EUR 86
a day for their winter vacation, which they have combined with SPA and
cultural tourism. The leading factor for them to select Bulgaria had been
the low price. Their preferred hotels were the 4-star ones and most have
purchased packages from travel agents. Bulgarians, on the other hand
side, have chosen countryside and winter vacations almost with the same
rates as in the fall. Most of them made their own reservations while 43%
stayed with friends and relatives instead of using hotels. Bulgarians spent
an average of BGN 46 a day for their winter trips while their top priorities
have been beautiful surroundings and good food.

 CANARY ISLANDS - Better business on German market - FVW

Demand for holidays in the Canary Islands has improved this year on the
German market thanks to lower prices and a better trading environment.
One year ago hoteliers on the Spanish islands were complaining bitterly
about the slump in German bookings at the height of the international
financial crisis. Today, according to tour operators, the situation has
relaxed dramatically with higher summer bookings. Prospects for the
autumn, the second-most important period after the Easter holidays, are
generally good, although early sales are slightly behind last year‘s levels.
Flight capacity to the islands has been increased this year, removing one
of the most frequent reasons for complaints from hoteliers. But some tour
operators would like to see a further increase. ―There could be more
flights,‖ said FTI‘s Marlene Gabb. The Munich-based operator has
increased contingents on Iberia and Spanair flights via Madrid in order to
secure capacity, especially for its dynamic packaging business.
Schauinsland Reisen has added more full charters with Hamburg
International and increased capacity on scheduled flights. Tenerife is
seeing good demand for this summer thanks to new all-inclusive offers,
Robert Ostermeier, Thomas Cook product manager, said. Tour operators
expect stable demand for the island this autumn. Last year, the island
suffered an 11% fall in German visitor numbers to 644,000. In contrast,
Gran Canaria, the largest Canary Island destination for German tourists,
saw a 7% drop to 695,000 German visitors last year. Demand this year is
slightly weaker, according to TUI and Rewe. Fuerteventura, the third-
largest destination with 571,000 German tourists last year, is enjoying
good demand for its beaches this year thanks to lower hotel prices,
according to tour operators. Demand for the autumn is behind
expectations, however. After a 10% fall in German visitor numbers in
2009, demand for Lanzarote remains weak this year, tour operators
reported. La Palma, a destination primarily for hikers, expects similar
numbers to last year when 67,700 German tourists visited the green
island.
 DENMARK - Copenhagen in new drive for tourists - Copenhagen
  Post

The capital‘s tourism bureau Wonderful Copenhagen is launching a new
strategy this week to combat falling visitor numbers and increase tourism
revenue by 1 billion kroner annually. Hotel capacity has increased by 40
percent in the last decade in Copenhagen and is likely to increase by a
further 30 percent by 2013. But the number of guests is not increasing in
line with capacity and hotel stays in Greater Copenhagen last year fell by
5.6 percent, despite the large amount of visitors for the climate
conference. The drop in hotel bookings lead to a loss of around 1.2 billion
kroner for tourism in Copenhagen, which had a turnover of about 32
billion kroner the year before, reports Business.dk. Wonderful
Copenhagen‘s new strategy comes on the back of a tourism industry
conference last week that concluded the city needs more international
marketing. The bureau has arranged public and private financing to the
tune of 200 million kroner to target 10 major international cities in an
effort to encourage more visitors to Copenhagen. ‗For private visitors, we
will market Copenhagen for the city‘s cultural experiences, our lifestyle
and the possibility for cyclists and pedestrians. And for companies, we
will focus on the fact Copenhagen has a talented stable of suppliers for
conference facilities and hotels,‘ said Wonderful Copenhagen CEO Lars
Bernhard Jørgensen. The chief executive mentioned San Francisco and
Mumbai as possible target markets. It is hoped that the intensive
marketing campaign abroad will encourage 10 new flight routes to open
to Copenhagen in the next four years, which would boost the city‘s
tourism economy by 1 billion kroner annually. Wonderful Copenhagen
also plans to target cruise ship tourists and has raised 3 million kroner for
marketing purposes. Copenhagen currently receives 675,000 cruise guests
annually and the tourism bureau wants to increase that to 1 million
visitors by 2014. The increased turnover generated would account for
about 350 million kroner a year. ‗We want to put focus on how
Copenhagen is a place where it‘s easy to get around, easy to get to the
airport and where ships have good docking opportunities,‘ Jørgensen
said. Copenhagen City Council, Copenhagen Airports, SAS, Copenhagen
Harbour and a number of hotels have been involved in funding the new
marketing initiatives

 EUROPE - Euro plunges to four-year low - Times Online

Nervous trading in Tokyo sent the euro into an early nosedive on Monday
morning, as fears of further debt crisis contagion and stalling growth
crept across dealing rooms. The euro, already under pressure in New
York before the weekend, plunged to a four-year low of $1.2306 against
the greenback, sending stock markets in Japan and Korea sharply lower.
Tokyo stocks were especially hammered, as the yen‘s supposed safe-
haven status pushed the Japanese currency higher making life tougher for
the country‘s major exporters. The euro‘s slide propelled the battered
currency through its October 2008 low of $1.2329 – a support level that
many had thought would hold out for longer. The currency turmoil gave
yet another trading boost for gold: with the European currency suffering,
euro denominated gold continued to gleam as an investment and Asian
trading pushed its price to a new record above €1000. Foreign exchange
traders in Tokyo said that since the €1 trillion rescue package organised
for the euro, there had been an assumption that the post-Lehman crisis
low for the euro would, at least for a while, represent a line in the sand.
With that now breached, attention is now focused on the euro‘s
November 2005 low of $1.1640 against the US dollar. Sentiment appears
to have been dented by the ―strings‖ attached to both the bailout of
Greece and the wider rescue deal for the euro. Austerity measures are
being called-for in a variety of eurozone nations that include France and
Italy, and the concern for Asian economies is that growth rates will be
savaged in one of their biggest export markets. Naomi Fink, a currency
strategist at Bank of Tokyo Mitsubishi, said that the euro‘s fall was better
explained as a natural correction. ―I‘m not joining the big panic on this.
The euro was overvalued for quite a time and now it is a bit more
sensibly valued. This was bound to happen and overdue,‖ she said.

 EUROPE - Trichet calls for 'quantum leap' in eurozone financial
  discipline - The Independent

The president of the European Central Bank is calling for a "quantum
leap" in the governance of the eurozone as the euro languishes at its
lowest against the dollar since the collapse of Lehman Brothers.
Speculation is growing that the euro may yet fall to parity with the dollar
– despite last week's €750bn (£639bn) bailout package. The single
currency fell to a 19-month low of $1.23 on Friday night on concerns that
austerity measures required to access the rescue fund could tip fragile
economies back into recession Meanwhile, the Greek Prime Minister,
George Papandreou, is threatening to take US investment banks to court
over their role in precipitating the Greek debt crisis at the root of the
euro's problems. Markets around the world soared early last week when
European governments, central bankers and the International Monetary
Fund (IMF) revealed an unprecedented set of loans and guarantees
designed to assuage fears that the market chaos in highly indebted Greece
could spread to other eurozone economies. The package also included a
commitment from the European Central Bank (ECB) to buy up European
sovereign bonds. But the early surge of confidence in the currency
markets swiftly wore off and the euro saw a fourth week of falls against
the dollar, and a third week of falls against the yen. Jean-Claude Trichet,
the president of the ECB, warned at the weekend that the crisis may be as
serious as the Great Depression, and stressed the need for tough action to
address ballooning deficits. "There is a need for a quantum leap in the
governance of the euro area," Mr Trichet said. "There needs to be major
improvements to prevent bad behaviour, to ensure effective
implementation of the recommendations made by peers and to ensure real
and effective sanctions in case of breaches." Mr Trichet also emphasised
the role of governments, dismissing claims that speculators are to blame
for the euro's sustained slide. "It is not an attack on the euro," Mr Trichet
said. "It is clear that it is the primary responsibility of the Europeans to
take the appropriate measures in order to counter the present severe
tensions which have erupted in Europe.

 EUROPE - Radisson BLU becomes Europe's largest quality hotel
  chain - Travel Daily News

Radisson BLU is officially the largest hotel chain in Europe, following
the merger of the Radisson BLU and Radisson Edwardian hotels
throughout the continent. The Radisson hotel chain now boasts 170 hotels
offering a total of 38,079 rooms. "We are proud to have taken this
leading position," said Olivier Jacquin, Marketing Manager at Radisson
BLU Europe. "It is the result of strategic and ambitious business
development, creative marketing campaigns and our innovative service
concept of our hotel," he added. From its origins as a classic hotel chain
for business travelers Radisson BLU has greatly expanded its portfolio in
recent years. "In major European airports, we have redefined the concept
of airport hotels and popular holiday destinations like Dubrovnik in
Croatia, Cesme in Turkey and Monastir and Djerba in Tunisia; we have
great new spa resorts," said Olivier Jacquin. One of the recent new
developments in the Radisson portfolio is the first Radisson BLU Hotel in
Madrid, which opened in February. 2010 will see the hotel group expand
further into Europe with the Radisson Royal Hotel Moscow due to open
in May. The building is part of Stalin's legendary Soviet skyscrapers, the
"Seven Sisters", and offers 506 luxury rooms and suites and 38
apartments. At the hotel guests will find world class restaurants, including
river cruise boats, and a unique art collection that contains 1200 original
paintings by famous Russian artists from the beginning of the 20th
century. Radisson BLU offers several unique services to its guests,
including Business Class rooms with Espresso machines, 3 hour express
laundry of clothes, a "grab and run" breakfast for those on the move in
the morning, free broadband access in all rooms and the latest in
conference technology.

 FINLAND - Helsinki getting more tourists than ever - Helsingin
  Sanomat

The recession year 2009 brought a pause in a three-year period of
growth in tourism in the Finnish capital. In 2008 more travellers spent
nights in Helsinki than ever before, but in 2009, there was a six per cent
decline. The drop was attributed to a decrease in business travel. In the
first three months of this year, the number of people spending nights in
hotels increased by 11 per cent from 2009. “The threshold of three
million overnight stays was exceeded for the first time in 2008, and now
we are again on the path to exceed three million‖, says Kari Halonen,
head of marketing at the Helsinki City Tourist and Convention Bureau.
A year ago Helsinki set as its goal for this year a 2% growth in overnight
stays. Halonen says that in light of current figures, the goal was a
cautious one. Although tourism in Helsinki seems to have survived the
economic slump that began in 2008 quite well, the recession has changed
the profile of those who come here. Leisure travel has become more
important than business travel, and the proportion of Finns who visit
Helsinki as tourists has also increased. Halonen says that about half of all
travellers coming to Helsinki are usually leisure travellers. Last year,
however, the proportion rose above half, and the trend is continuing.
Halonen also expects the number of domestic travellers to grow. ―During
the slump, people favoured travelling at home, but now this is being
boosted by another trend; increasing numbers of people are pondering
how travel affects the environment.‖ However, compared with
Stockholm, Helsinki attracts few domestic tourists. Halonen notes that in
the Swedish capital it is common for groups coming from other Swedish
cities to go to the theatre to arrive the previous day, and spend a night
after the show. ―Here we can often see how buses leave immediately after
the end of a performance back to their cities of origin.‖ One of the
problems of Helsinki tourism is that the city should be able to attract
more repeat visitors. Now an estimated 85 - 90 per cent of foreign
travellers are in Helsinki for the first time, and they generally leave it at
that. Halonen says that the city needs more tours of the city aimed at
individual travellers, in addition to the existing group sightseeing tours by
bus. Ideally, tourists would bring friends and family along, such as Marc
Eikler is doing. When he first visited Helsinki he only had eight hours to
get to know the city. He took Guldbransen along on his second trip. ―On
my first visit I saw the harbour, and I wanted to come back to get to know
the city better‖, Eikler says, and points at the Market Square

 GERMANY - 416 million passengers and 5.7 million flights in 18
  years - Munich Airport

May 17th of this year will mark the 18th anniversary of the start of
operations at the new Munich Airport. The "coming-of-age" celebration
is the latest highlight in a long success story that has seen this airport
advance to take its place alongside Europe's major air transportation hubs.
After seeing 12 million travelers in 1992, its first operating year, the new
airport handled nearly 33 million passengers in 2009 – almost three times
as many. Since May 17, 1992, Munich Airport has counted
approximately 416 million passengers, 5.7 million take-offs and landings
and more than 2.5 million tons of airfreight. "Munich Airport has not
only met all of the high expectations imposed on it: it has far exceeded
them," said airport CEO Dr. Michael Kerkloh, commenting on the
upcoming anniversary. "In its 18 years of operation our airport has
developed into one of Europe's leading air transportation hubs. In terms
of passenger traffic we are number seven in Europe, and in the opinion of
the passengers we are number one." And indeed, just a few weeks ago
Skytrax, the aviation research institute, announced that Munich Airport
had yet again been voted Europe's best airport and number four in the
world in its large-scale survey of more than 10 million airline passengers
worldwide. As one of the two central hubs for air traffic in Germany,
Munich Airport plays a key role in this country's transport infrastructure
today. For travelers from Bavanria and for the export-driven economy of
southern Germany, the connections to 220 destinations in nearly 70
countries around the world are an outstanding competitive advantage.
With its workforce numbering approximately 30,000, the airport is also
among southern Germany's largest employers.

 GERMANY - Passion Play season opens in Oberammergau - The
  Local

The 2010 Oberammergau Passion Play premiered to nearly 5,000
spectators Saturday. The performance marks the start of the 41st
production of the traditional five-hour play. About 2,400 residents – or
half of Oberammergau‘s total population – participated on stage or
behind the scenes to help with this year‘s production. The Passion Play
tradition goes back to 1633, when the plague struck the Alpine village
and locals vowed, if they were spared, to put on a play about the
crucifixion and reincarnation of Jesus once every 10 years - forever.
Frederik Mayet, a 30-year-old marketing student, played the role of Jesus
and braved cool temperatures on the open-air stage – wearing just a
loincloth in some scenes. Fleece blankets from Passion theatre‘s souvenir
shop were sold out well before the opening scene, and some theatre-goers
even brought their own sleeping bags. ―The scenes were so strong and
striking, you could almost block out the cold,‖ said Bavarian State
Premier Horst Seehofer, one of the guests attending this year‘s premiere.
With the 2010 production, Munich Volkstheater director Christian Stückl
is staging the Passion Play for the third consecutive time. During
intermission, Stückl said he was ―very happy‖ with the performance,
having watched the premiere from backstage. ―I have to be with my
people,‖ the director said. Musical director Markus Zwink also praised
the choir and orchestra‘s performance. Organisers are hoping to match
2000's 500,000 visitors from all over the world, although the recession
has hit ticket sales, particularly from the United States. With more than
100 performances, Oberammergau hopes the Passion Play will bring in
€28 million through the final show on October 3.

 GERMANY - Higher sales in April despite the ash cloud - FVW

German travel agencies increased sales in April despite the dramatic
impact of the widespread flight bans for several days, the latest monthly
survey of 2,500 agencies by the TATS organisation showed. Total
agency sales in revenue terms rose 2.1% even though airlines and tour
operators were forced to cancel thousands of flights in the middle of the
month. Tourism sales unsurprisingly dropped 4.3% in April, according to
the survey. But flight sales actually rose 7% while other revenues, which
include rail travel and car rental, grew 3.9%. Both market segments
profited strongly from the widespread flight cancellations. On a
cumulative basis, agency sales grew 5.3% higher over the first four
months of the year. Tourism sales rose 2.8% while airline ticket sales
were 8.5% higher. Advance tourism sales for departures up to October
2010 were 7% lower last month and were 3% lower over the first four
months of the year.

 GERMANY - Match Race Germany Delivers Tourism Revenue to
  Local Economy - Yacht Sponsorship

We‘re always interested in stories that help to understand the impact of
the sport of sailing on the wider economy. For an increasing number of
governments and tourism organisations, hosting a competitive sailing
event is a requirement to promote marine based tourism and stimulate
local economies – either though spending by competitors and
participants, and to a lesser degree spectators. The increase in the amount
of event footage broadcast through new channels like the internet gives
host cities wide recognition. Organisers of Match Race Germany believe
that the annual event delivers €750,000 to the Langenargen economy. The
numbers have been released to show the value to host cities of staging a
round of the ISAF World Match Racing Tour. Frank Jost, Director of
Tourism for the City of Langenargen, has seen the development of Match
Race Germany into today‘s established world class event which caters to
both the sailors and the spectators. The match racing event has
diversified since its inception with the introduction of a marine festival
for the tourists. The on-shore programme is tailored to the fans with live
music in the evening transforming the atmosphere and enhancing the
cultural programme on offer. The event also allows for sailing
infrastructure to be maintained throughout the year. While the report
highlights the three quarters of a million euro revenue benefits of Match
Race Germany, it does not reveal corresponding investment required, so
it is difficult to determine the return on investment for the town, but in
2010 live streaming of the racing via the internet will allow brand
Langerargen to be seen by a wider audience. The audience won‘t be as
big as the hyperbolic claims of the World Match Racing Tour, who
continue to promote meaningless statements like: ‗a television reach of
over 2.1 billion households in excess of 183 countries.‘ There can‘t be
many sponsors or marketing people who still use such hypothetical
metrics to make investments. Using the same logic, this website has a
reach of 1,800,000,000 internet users. Match Race Germany will however
be covered by television stations such as ZDF, SWR and Regio TV.
Match Race Germany‘s communication partner, Alcatel Lucent and local
hosting partner Teledata will be working together to promote the
competition and further increase the profile of this upcoming sporting
destination and live blogger Mark Chisnell will be back on the keyboard

 GREECE - Austrian interest in vacations in Greece may be
  waning - Austrian Times Online News

Austrian interest in vacations in Greece has been waning for several years
and may decline even more owing to the Greek financial crisis and civil
disturbances. The media reported that the number of Austrians
vacationing in Greece had declined from 670,000 in 2007 to 550,000 in
2009, owing in part to cheap, all-inclusive vacations on offer in countries
like Turkey and Egypt. Walter Krahl, the distribution manager for large
Austrian tourism firm Verkehrsbüro, said today that bookings for Greek
vacations had declined by seven to eight per cent since the beginning of
the year. Edward Gordon, the head of the umbrella association of travel
bureaus in the Austrian Economy Chamber (WKO), said the situation in
most of Greece outside of Athens was quiet. "Everything is the same as it
has always been on the islands," he claimed. Josef Peterleithner from
tourism firm TUI, however, said that bookings for Greek holidays with
his firm had risen compared to last year despite negative media reports
about developments in Greece. Large travel concerns have lowered prices
for Greek holidays by an average of five per cent, according to the media.
Andreas Andreadis, the vice president of the Greek Tourism Association,
said revenue would be down by nine per cent this year after having fallen
by eight per cent last year

 IRELAND - Ireland could face €46m landfill fine - The Irish
  Times

Ireland may face a maximum penalty of €46 million if it fails to meet EU
targets on diverting biodegradable waste from landfill to recycling,
according to consultants DKM in a paper commissioned by waste firm
Greenstar. Ireland must divert 280,000 tonnes of biodegradable waste this
year. Greenstar said this target could be exceeded by more than 330,000
tonnes, avoiding fines, by recycling biodegradable material in brown
bins. The total volume of waste in Ireland fell by more than 20 per cent in
2009 and the decline continued through the first three months of this year,
according to Greenstar. The firm has noted a 15 per cent reduction in
biodegradable waste at its landfills.

 NORTHERN IRELAND - £4bn of 'toxic' debts in Northern
    Ireland - Belfasttelegraph.co.uk
T
he extent of Northern Ireland developers‘ involvement in the Republic‘s
―toxic bank‖ has been revealed. Up to 150 developers from the province
are to have something like £4bn of loans taken out during the property
boom transferred into Nama — set up by the Irish government to buy and
manage debt held by Dublin-based banks after house prices crashed. The
local investors could be held personally liable for the money and possibly
bankrupted. A number of Northern Ireland developers owe Nama in the
region of £100m each. It is believed that some land or partially developed
properties could be sold by NAMA for a fraction of what buyers paid.
But Nama executives have admitted that they still do not have the full
picture on their land and property assets in Northern Ireland as they are
still working through a massive catalogue of huge debts. The key facts for
Northern Ireland included: €5bn (£4bn) of the total €81bn (£70bn) in
debts going into NAMA are from north of the border. Some 150 of the
1,500 borrowers with toxic loans taken on by NAMA are from here. A
small number of developers here are in the top 100 debtors, all of which
owe €100m or more. Some land or partially developed properties could
be sold for a fraction of what buyers paid. The developers could be held
personally liable for the money and possibly bankrupted. It aims to sell or
develop all assets within 10 years. Developers with NAMA loans will
have 30 days to produce a credible business plan for repaying the loans.
Addressing more than 300 business leaders at Belfast‘s Hilton Hotel
yesterday, NAMA bosses said they will treat loans from Northern Ireland
exactly the same as those from the Republic. However, they admitted
they still don‘t have a clear idea of what its land or property assets in
Northern Ireland are because it is still working through the mass of
complicated debts of its 10 biggest debtors from the Republic. ―At this
stage we haven‘t even evaluated the business plans of the top 10,‖
NAMA chairman Frank Daly told the Belfast Telegraph. NAMA was set
up to remove €81bn worth of loans, mostly secured on property
developments, from five Irish banks in order to get them lending again.
Around €5bn is from Northern Ireland.

 RUSSIA - Russian Business Travel Community gathers at ACTE
  executive Forum - Travel Daily News

The Association of Corporate Travel Executives (ACTE) reported a 25
percent jump in the number of participants attending the ACTE Executive
Forum convened in Moscow, on 13 April, 2010 with total attendance for
the second annual event rising to 103 delegates. According to a statement
from Chris Crowley, ACTE President-Elect, the increased number of
participants, the energy of the discussions held and the level of business
conducted on the day, reflects the maturity of the travel management
profession in Russia and the readiness of travel managers to engage in
improving processes to achieve greater efficiency. “The ACTE education
forum brought key buyers and competitive suppliers together and
provided the opportunity for delegates to discuss global issues in a very
local setting” said Caroline Allen, the association‘s Regional Director,
Northern & East Central Europe and Russia. “Travel managers seized the
opportunity to identify solutions to help deliver results and bolster their
corporate influence.” Russian television channel, Russian Travel Guide
(RTG TV) covered the event and subsequently created a program called
‗New Opportunities in Business Travel‘. The program features an
interview with Irina Kuznetsova, Administrative Director,
PricewaterhouseCoopers and ACTE‘s Russian Country Champion where
she comments on the significance of corporate travel to ones business, the
challenges especially in the current global financial climate, the
importance of sharing practices and experiences, learning from other
corporate buyers, and the significance of having an independent
educational and networking platform such as ACTE. The program goes
on to explain that corporate travel in Russia is growing rapidly and that
there is a high demand for qualified specialists with particular knowledge
and experience in travel management -making education on the subject
extremely important. The event‘s educational agenda featured four main
topics, each offering a panel of experts and was moderated by Bob
Papworth, the Executive Editor of Buying Business Travel. The first
presentation ‗Self-Booking Tools for the Russian Market‘, was structured
on the insight of Olesya Ryabova, Executive Director Corporate Services,
Goldman Sachs; Philipp Lookianenko, Managing Director, HRG; Vadim
Zelenski, General Director, Zelenski Corporate Travel Solutions; and
Olga Barysheva, Travel Co-ordinator, C-Boss. The panel began by
summarizing the type of content and functionality participants could
expect from a self-booking tool, emphasizing the ability to process orders
for a wide variety of travel services electronically, the capability to access
negotiated rates, the convenience of gauging compliance as well as
maintaining traveller profiles, and the ability to generate statistical
reports. The session also examined specific benefits for the travel
manager (faster booking, tighter budget control, administrative cost
reduction, and enhanced traveller security), as well as several advantages
for the travel management company (greater transparency and increased
manageability). Olga Barysheva, Travel Co-ordinator for C-Boss,
systematically ran through a series of potential challenges common to the
Russian business travel sector and demonstrated how their self-booking
tool helped to resolve those challenges. Several conclusions were drawn
by the session end, including: Any travel service or product being
introduced to the Russian market must either be developed specifically
for that market, or be subject to local modification - Although in relative
infancy, local Russian solutions are available which have levels of
customisation options if policy and approval process need to be
incorporated. Content needs to be considered. Russia is a huge
geographic region spanning multiple time zones and much of the Russian
air content is currently held on Russian CRS/GDS systems. Hotel content
is complex as a huge volume of hotel content is not yet available on the
GDS. Russian tax regulations encourage some businesses to operate with
cash to minimize their tax burden which will continue to affect credit card
adoption (which is still low) but there is progress being made in this area
 SLOVENIA - Slovenia catching up with Croatia in tourism
  competitiveness - Croatian Times Online

Slovenia has jumped nine places in tourism competitiveness in the last
two years to 35, coming just behind Croatia. Croatia meanwhile climbed
only four places, according to the latest research by World Economic
Forum that looks at prices and offers in the travel and tourism sector.
Croatian daily Jutarnji List reports that Croatia's 34th place is admirable
given that the research covered 133 countries from around the world. But
considering that the first three places have been held for years by
Switzerland, Austria and Germany - countries that do not have a sea - the
situation is worrisome, the paper says. Hungary, which has neither sea
nor mountains like Austria and Switzerland, is only three places below
Croatia. Tourism forms 12 percent of Slovenia's GDP, a negligible 0.5
percent less than in Croatia. Numbers suggest that Croatia's offers must
match the prices (or vice versa) if the country is to keep its old guests and
attract new. The Tourism Competitiveness Index measures success of
certain countries in the travel and tourism sector. It is divided into three
categories that take into consideration legislative regulations,
environment for business development and the quality of human
resources together with the wealth of cultural and national assets. "The
Index is not based on beauty competition nor is it a mirror of
attractiveness of certain countries. The goal is to measure the factors that
encourage development of travel and tourism industries in certain
countries," said Jennifer Blanke, economist at the World Economic
Forum. Croatia was rated well in terms of tourism infrastructure, but the
report mentions a lack of professional personnel and air traffic
connections. The biggest criticism came in terms of price
competitiveness. More simply, prices are too high for the quality of
offers. "In turbulent times of global economic crisis, tourists will become
even more cautious about planning their expenses and choosing
destinations. Because of that Croatia must work harder on the price
competitiveness of tourism offers in order to keep the old and attract new
guests" the National Competitiveness Council said. Some of Croatia's
direct rivals like Cyprus have climbed three places since last year to 21st
and Montenegro is up to 52nd from 59th place last year. The ten highest-
rated destinations are Switzerland, Austria, Germany, France, Canada,
Spain, Sweden, United States, Australia and Singapore.

 SWEDEN - King foots half of daughter's wedding bill - The Local

The June wedding of Crown Princess Victoria and Daniel Westling is set
to cost at least 20 million kronor ($2.63 million), half of which will be
met by the the bride's father, King Carl XVI Gustaf, with the remainder
funded by the Swedish taxpayer. "We get ten million kronor from the
government and the rest will be paid for by the king personally," said Jan
Lindman at the Royal Court. Staff costs are set to be the biggest expense,
with information and transport also taxing funds. "Guests need to be
transported from various residences to various destinations, Lindman
said. The wedding reception dinner in the Royal Palace, to be prepared by
Operkällaren's Stefano Catenacci, will also add substantially to the cost of
the wedding. "All the guests also have to be fed, with drinks and
entertainment. Then the palace furniture needs to be rearranged and the
old hall needs to be spruced up. The actual dinner is though the largest
single item," he said. The Royal Court receives a total of 125 million
kronor from the Swedish taxpayer for 2010, eight million more than in
2009.

 TURKEY - Effective promotion could double potential for
  medical tourism - Today's Zaman

Turkey could see the size of its medical tourism market double if an
effective promotion campaign is put in place, Levent Baş, the general
manager of Turkish medical tourism consulting firm Gusib, has told
Sunday‘s Zaman. ―We are expecting to see an approximate 10 percent
growth this year over 2009, but with effective promotion, the year-on-
year growth in the sector could even exceed 30 percent,‖ Baş explained.
He emphasizes that there is a huge potential as regards the future
development of medical tourism in Turkey, a country that has the world‘s
second highest number of hospitals with Joint Commission International
(JCI) accreditation after the US. JCI is an international accreditation and
certification system widely accepted by hospitals all around the world.
―This is a clear indicator that Turkey is home to a well-developed medical
treatment infrastructure and, above all, the country offers the most
affordable prices possible in comparison to rivals such as India or
Thailand.‖ ―There will be a remarkable boost in the number of ‗medical
tourists‘ to Turkey if we can manage to promote ourselves as an attractive
medical treatment hub outside the country,‖ he said, stressing that the
state should also shoulder its responsibility in this regard. ―The biggest
drawback is the lack of effective promotion abroad. The Ministry of
Tourism could take care of this; we are not asking them for incentives or
financial support. The only thing we expect from the government is that
they undertake the promotional aspect.‖ Baş says Turkey deserves to
become one of only a few countries in people‘s minds when it comes to
medical treatment abroad; it has a well-organized medical infrastructure
and the advantage of its geographical proximity to such large and
promising markets as the EU and the Middle East. ―Around 3.5 to 4
million people travel abroad for medical treatment every year; Turkey‘s
share among the destinations stands at 3 percent. Turkey attracts around
100,000 patients for medical tourism, including people of Turkish origin
living abroad.‖ Explaining that the global medical tourism market is
expected to reach $60 billion by 2012, Baş said he believes Turkey could
take a larger slice of the cake than it currently does.

 TURKEY - Golf business world meets in Antalya's Belek -
  Hurriyet Daily News and Economic Review

The golf industry needs to bring forth change to attract new customers
such as women and families to make the sport more popular, according to
experts at a forum held in Belek last week. Antalya‘s Belek, Turkey‘s
emerging golf destination, was voted ―Best Golf Destination in Europe
2008‖ by the International Association of Golf Tour Operators, or
IAGTO. The Mediterranean district was also the venue for the seventh
annual Golf Business Forum organized by KPGM Golf Advisory. Golf is
traditionally considered an ―elite male sport‖ popular in the business
community where executives play for hours while networking and
striking deals. However, the time-consuming nature of the sport and the
lack of affordability are major hindrances for the development of the
sport, according to a live poll at the forum. ―In the U.S, the number of
people that play the game is already flat or declining. We need to bring
new players into the game,‖ said Steve Mona, the chief of the World Golf
Foundation. ―We need to make the game less intimidating and more
family friendly. ―Wives usually complain and wouldn‘t understand why
their husbands are out on the golf course for the whole day,‖ he said.
Andrea Sartori, head of KPMG‘s specialist Golf Advisory Services Team
and founder of the Golf Business Forum, said the game needs to bring in
more women. Women are identified as a growing market segment for
golf. According to Mona, in countries such as Germany and the
Netherlands, 30 to 35 percent of golf club members are women.
However, the figure is half as low in other countries After more than a
century on the sidelines, golf will return to the Olympics at the 2016
Summer Games in Rio de Janeiro. Nearly half of the participants believe
the move will significantly benefit the industry and widen the sport‘s
popularity. The golf business was significantly damaged by the global
recession as lenders were unwilling to fund new projects and as big
companies spent much less on golf resorts for their corporate activities. ―I
believe that toward the end of 2012, we will see recovery,‖ Sartori said.
Over 80 percent of the participants polled said an overall economy
recovery would only happen after next year. Sartori also identified a lack
of liquidity, lack of confidence and change in consumer behavior as the
main challenges faced by the industry in the aftermath of the crisis.
Facing such challenges, the industry is seeing a fundamental switchback
to products and services offered to customers. ―Value has become top
priority in the last 18 to 24 months,‖ said Gary Michel, President and
CEO of Club Car. ―You need to be your toughest customer,‖ Hasan
Benseli, chairman of the Belek Golf Club said, in reference to how to
strengthen one‘s brand during tough times. Greg Norman, a legendary
golfer and an entrepreneur who was present at the forum to receive the
Lifetime Achievement Award, summarized the spirit of the event, saying,
―In bad times, you form the best relationships.‖ Norman said it was his
first time in Turkey but he was impressed by the golf courses in Belek.
―This area has some of the most popular and important courses in
Europe,‖ said the Australian, adding that the number of people traveling
from England, Sweden and Germany to Belek for golf is on the rise.
Belek is also vying to be known not only to golf tourists but professional
players. The resort hosted two international tournaments earlier this
month, the Turkish Airlines Challenge at the Carya Golf Club on the first
weekend of the month and the Turkish Airlines Ladies Open at National
Golf Club one week later. The golf resort is now gearing up for the real
challenge, as the 2012 World Amateur Team Championships will be
played at four different courses in Belek. Norman said such an event will
turn all eyes to Belek and would be a huge marketing opportunity for the
region and for the country. The Golf Business Forum, which aims to
provide a platform for people to exchange ideas and share experience in
the golf business, brought together more than 250 industry professionals
in Belek

 UK - Upmarket hotels lose out in downturn - E-TID

Average length of stay remained unchanged over the period, while the
number of nights booked was up 9% in key worldwide locations.
However, BSI says the five-star market has been badly hit, as clients are
‗becoming more aware of quality standards and accepting of economy
brand hotels among two-, three- and four-star properties‘. Average room
rate is beginning to stabilise, while room rates with breakfast included
rose from 53% to 60.5% of all nights booked, showing hotel groups are
boosting income by adding value into their pricing in softer demand
periods. In the meetings and events sector, day rates are starting to level
off, after a continued reduction in 2009. Attendance numbers are on the
rise, up by 18%, while meetings length has also increased slightly on the
same period in 2009. Booking lead-times have not changed. Meetings or
events held on a Monday or a Friday are still achieving an average of 8%
lower day delegate rate compared with those held mid-week.
Teleconference meetings have trebled, which BSI says is indicative of
better technology, user awareness and comfort in the use of the medium.
BSI says the economic downturn has led to an increase in companies
looking at cutting business travel costs. For example, the number of
companies using a preferred programme compliance is up 3%, more
companies are now using a ‗bill back‘ facility and the majority (69%) of
new clients are using online booking and compliance tools.

 UK - Outrage at secret probe into 47,000 innocent flyers - Mail
  Online

Police secretly investigated the travel habits, family, friends and
backgrounds of 47,000 innocent people last year after they bought plane
tickets to fly into and out of Britain. The intrusiveness has provoked fury
among civil liberties campaigners and now may be stopped by Britain‘s
new coalition Government. The flyers were singled out by the ‗terrorist
detector‘ database, introduced by Labour, monitoring millions of British
tourists and other travellers. Checks included scrutiny of the police
national computer, financial records and analysis of ‗known associates‘
before people were cleared for travel. Yet it is understood the £1.2billion
system has never led to the arrest of a terrorist – and police now use it to
target ‗sex offenders and football hooligans‘. Police have also used it to
produce 14,000 intelligence reports on travellers for ‗future use‘. They
can be shared by security services worldwide. ‗Suspect‘ requests likely to
lead to innocent holidaymakers receiving ‗red flags‘ as potential terrorists
include ordering a vegetarian meal, asking for an over-wing seat and
travelling with a foreign-born husband or wife. The system will also ‗red
flag‘ anyone buying a one-way ticket and making a last-minute
reservation and those with a history of booking tickets and not showing
up for flights. A history of travel to the Middle East, Pakistan,
Afghanistan or Iran will also trigger an alarm. The new figures, produced
by the Association of Chief Police Officers, cover the ten months to this
February. Police arrested 2,000 people – out of a total of 48,682
investigated – after they were flagged up by the computer system. It is
tied into airlines‘ ticketing networks and makes judgments about travel
habits and friends and family to decide if passengers are a security risk.
All information passengers give to travel agents, including home address,
phone numbers, email address, passport details and the names of family
members, is shared with an unknown number of Government agencies for
‗analysis‘ and stored for up to ten years. The Home Office claims the
system has led to arrests of murderers and rapists – and to 1,000 people
being denied entry to Britain. But it refused to say if any terrorists had
been caught by the system, despite it being a counter-terrorist measure.
Even as the ‗profiling‘ system went live, its reliability was being called
into question. An internal Home Office document revealed that during
testing one ‗potential suspect‘ turned out to be an airline passenger with a
spinal injury flying into Britain with his nurse. Last night a police source
said the e-borders system was proving an invaluable tool to covertly track
terrorists and their associates and had also led to large numbers of serious
criminals being brought to justice.             The highly-placed source
acknowledged that because travel data was being examined on an
‗industrial scale‘, ‗mistakes were made‘ but said the system was designed
to minimise intrusion into innocent lives.

				
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