Year: 2016

Skipton named ‘Top Town for Courtesy 2016’

The North Yorkshire medieval market town of Skipton has been named ‘Top Town for Courtesy 2016’.

The award, organised by the National Campaign for Courtesy, and covering all towns in Great Britain, recognises a town’s commitment to promoting courtesy throughout the local community. Previous winners have included Ilfracombe, Shrewsbury and Epsom.

The ‘Salop Leisure Trophy’ was presented to the Mayor of Skipton, Cllr Martin Emmerson, by Diana Moran, one of the campaign’s celebrity patrons, best known as TV’s ‘Green Goddess’ keep-fit expert.

Skipton was nominated for the award by Malcolm Weaving, the owner of the town’s Rendezvous Hotel, where the presentation took place. Commenting on the award, he said: “I’m absolutely delighted that Skipton has been recognised as the top town for courtesy. Our guests often tell me what a pleasure it is to visit Skipton. They’re both amazed and delighted by the real Yorkshire welcome they receive from locals. As a family-run hotel we pride ourselves on the welcome we give to our guests, so having nominated the town, I’m particularly pleased to have been able to host the presentation of this prestigious award.”

John Stokes, Acting Chairman for the National Campaign for Courtesy, said: “Each year we seek out a town from across the country that has demonstrated courtesy in action. This year Skipton impressed our judges on their visit. While a good quality physical environment is important, most people want to live in a friendly community. Modern lifestyles can create a lot of stress and courtesy helps us all to treat each other with respect. This award recognises towns where the community has taken the extra step to encourage courtesy in all aspects of life. We start the search for next year’s winner early in 2017. For more information, go to www.campaignforcourtesy.org.uk.”

skipton-named top-town-for-courtesy-2016
Diana Moran, patron of the National Campaign for Courtesy; Cllr Martin Emmerson, Mayor of Skipton; Malcolm Weaving, Rendezvous Hotel.

Launched in 1986, the National Campaign for Courtesy is a registered charity that is committed to good manners; respect for self and others; courtesy for all; and rejection of anti-social behaviour.

Voted Sunday Times Best Place to Live in Britain 2014, Skipton is a friendly compact market town on the doorstep of the beautiful Yorkshire Dales. Offering a superb range of activities, clubs, societies and entertainment it is also a short train ride away from the nearby city of Leeds.

The Rendezvous Hotel is family-run 96-room hotel, home to owners Malcolm and Karen Weaving, set on the Leeds Liverpool Canal, one mile south of Skipton, the ‘Gateway to the Dales’. It features the largest square ballroom in a privately-owned hotel in northern England. For more information, go to www.rendezvous-skipton.co.uk



London tourist coach forum focuses on coach access

The third London Tourist Coach Forum, an annual event organised as a result of the launch of the London Tourist Coach Action Plan in 2014, took place in the capital last month.

The event, held at the Prince of Wales Theatre in the West End on 18 November, was organised by the London Tourist Coach Action Board and chaired by the Confederation of Passenger Transport UK (CPT).

It was attended by local councils, industry stakeholders, coach operators, tourism organisations and London businesses.

Stephen Smith, CPT’s Operations Director, opened the Forum by speaking about the recently published CPT-commissioned Steer Davies Gleave report into the economic benefit of coaches to London’s tourism economy. He said that in 2015, 12 million domestic tourists arrived in London by coach, plus one million international tourists. Each year 21,500 tourist coaches visit central London and there are 235,000 tourist coach movements in central London. He reminded delegates that the consultation on the Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) closes on 18 December, and operators are urged to respond to it, even if they’re not based in London.

Ben Plowden, Director of Surface Transport Strategy and Planning at Transport for London, explained how coach tourism was a key part of the Mayor’s strategy of ‘A City for all Londoners’. Ben outlined that the Mayor’s focus is very much on social media and how these platforms can assist coach operators in planning their journeys and accessing coach parking facilities.
He told delegates that the new Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has placed air quality at the top of his agenda. Full details are in the document ‘A City for all Londoners’, which he urged people to read, and respond to the consultation, which closes on 11 December. Ben said that in terms of air quality, the new Mayor “wants to go further and faster than Boris Johnson did”.

Delegates heard about other measures being introduced by TfL, including:
– significant improvement in the flow of information about the roads network, so coach drivers can plan their trips.
– working with the CPT to inform its Twitter feed, and having a monthly column in trade magazine routeONE which is used to provide other information.
– an ongoing, and successful trial of mixed-use kerbside bays that allows coaches to drop-off and pick-up passengers at Park Lane/Cumberland Gate, Vauxhall Bridge Road and Commercial Street.
– plans to extend some current 20-minute bays to 60-minutes so that coach drivers can take their legal rest breaks.
– ongoing updates to the online version of the London coach parking map

TfL works together on all of this with Camden and Westminster councils (covering the tourist heart of the city), alongside the London Councils umbrella body; the London Tourist Coach Operators Association (LTCOA), European Tourism Association (ETOA), CPT; plus London & Partners (the capital’s official promotional company) and Society of London Theatre, representing the capital’s 67 theatres.

Cllr Heather Acton, Cabinet Member for Sustainability and Parking with Westminster City Council explained that the council’s coach provision is 68 daytime bays, using pay-by-phone, plus 16 20-minute short-term bays (free of charge) and eight overnight bays in Bullied Way. She said that around 3,000 coaches a day enter the borough, and there are 36 uses of kerbside space, from taxis, to deliveries and cycles, which means that there’s high competition for this limited resource. She told delegates that the opening of the Kingsway parking bays had been a success and, subject to TfL approval, they’ll be extended to operate from 10am to 11.59pm.

One of the biggest issues remains Buckingham Gate, due to its proximity to Buckingham Palace and the attraction of the Changing of the Guard, which, she said, creates congestion, noise and air quality issues with its use by coaches. She recognised that the ‘cat and mouse’ game of ‘circling’ to try to find drop-off points and parking increases coach movements and has air quality issues. To combat this, parking technology using the ParkRight app works with sensors to show where a free bay is, and then routes the driver to it. She said that it is hoped, subject to funding, to extend this to all coach bays in the future.

Nick Greenfield, Head of Tour Operator Relations with ETOA, and representing 200 tour operators and 650 suppliers from around the world, explained what ‘coaching heaven’ (Amsterdam) looks like, compared with coaching ‘hell’ (Italy). He took the opportunity to share some ideas of best, and worst, practice.

The vital importance of tourism to the London economy was set out in considerable detail by the London & Partners Acting CEO Andrew Cooke. He told delegates that the organisation’s strategy is economically-based, focused on ‘good growth, and tourism can help this. He said this is based on attracting visitors who spend the most, rather than those who spend little.

Against a background of three years reduced tourism since 2012, he explained that in 2015 there were 18.6m overseas visits to London, a 7% increase. With an average spend of £640 per visitor, they generated £11.9bn (up 1%).

While the US just edged ahead of France in 2015 as the biggest source of visitors (2.14m, compared with 2.07m for France), short-haul European market generates the most traffic.

But the most valuable market for London, by spend, is the USA, whose visitors spent £1.81bn – more than double the next closest, France at £0.76bn. But all this pales compared with the £8.1bn spent by the domestic market.

The Forum concluded with a lively question and answer session where the subjects included coach parking, congestion, engine idling and coaches being considered as part of key tourist location planning decisions. There was general consensus throughout the room that all parties must continue working together through the London TCAP in order to achieve these objectives.


AGTO Showcase Weekend – 28-30 October 2016

The Association of Group Travel Organisers (AGTO) held its 25th Anniversary Showcase Weekend on 28 to 30 October. The venue was QHotels’ Dunston Hall Hotel near Norwich.

On the Friday afternoon, AGTO CEO Mike Bugsgang introduced presentations from Pete Waters, Executive Director with Visit East Anglia, and Jason Triandafyllou, from marketing agency Designate. This was followed by a Networking Showcase with Associate Members (suppliers) giving delegates the opportunity to find out more about latest products and services.

On the Friday evening, delegates enjoyed an informal dinner, with magical entertainment by Roy Davenport from Davenport’s Magic Kingdom, and Rachel King, a very talented multi-instrumentalist.

On the Saturday, delegates took advantage of three familiarisation trips. The first visited Cromer where a Halloween open day was being held in the Pavilion Theatre at the end of the pier. The photos below reveal some of the Halloween characters that popped up during the visit. The trip then travelled along the north Norfolk coast to Sandringham House. The second fam visited Norwich Cathedral, Banham Zoo and Melford Hall. The third fam visited Wroxham Barns and Great Yarmouth and its pleasure beach, with a Southern Comfort Paddle Boat trip on the Broads. The very well turned out coaches and drivers were provided by Eastons Coaches.

On the Saturday evening, in partnership with the event’s main sponsor, made tourism marketing, delegates were entertained by West End stars Emma Hatton (‘Wicked’) and Oliver Tompsett (‘Guys and Dolls’).

Here’s a selection of photos from the weekend taken by Stuart Render and Mike Bugsgang. The photos can also be seen at www.facebook.com/stuartrendertourism.


Welcome team at Norwich station: Royston Hanks and Maria Maltby. On the right is Colin Hayman from the event transport provider, Eastons Coaches



QHotels’ Dunston Hall Hotel
The AGTO registration team
Swapping their sea legs for time ashore! Ellie Fulcher and Sophie Austin from Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines check in
GTOs James and Marilyn Sylvester take time to enjoy the pianist in the hotel lounge. He seems to be enjoying it too.
AGTO CEO Mike Bugsgang gets the Friday afternoon presentations under way
Mike Bugsgang welcomes members, associates and guests



Pete Waters, Executive Director with Visit East Anglia



Jason Triandafyllou from marketing agency Designate offered a few thoughts on attracting new business
AGTO Board members Tina Price (Blueprint Travel Media), Mike Bugsgang, Natalie Browne (made tourism marketing) and Brian Langford (Lucketts Travel) with delegates promoting the recently introduced ‘Ambassador’ scheme.
The Friday afternoon networking showcase gave AGTO Associates the opportunity to highlight new products and services. This is Tim Fleming and Rebecca Dance from Diamond Holidays
Stuart Parker from InterChoice Holidays
Helen Mulry and Stefania Lazurca from HF Holidays
Feet firmly on dry land, Ellie Fulcher and Sophie Austin from Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines
The smiling duo of David Lote and Harold Burke from Just for Groups!
Ollie Burton from BBC Tours
Claire Burgin, Sarah Holt (editor) and Sue Fletcher from Group Leisure Magazine
Brian Langford from Lucketts Travel.
Bobby Szente from Ripley’s Believe it or Not! London.
Jo Thomson from the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, catching up on a bit of product
Jackie Cook and Lesley McDermott from Success Tours
Lianne Messis and Tricia Regan from South Quay Travel
Sophie Dennington from Potters Resort with one of the GTOs
Hilary Christmas from Norman Allen Group Travel
Amanda Casey and Agata Rusinek from the family-owned and run Rendezvous Hotel, Skipton, with GTO Jill White
Roy Davenport, from Davenport’s Magic Kingdom, tries to confound GTO Len White
Sue Day from West Midland Safari Park with GTO Keith Prince
More smiling faces. GTO Bob Walker, centre, with Mark Wilson and John Bullock from Rondo Travel
Adrian Millan from Switzerland Travel Centre
David Townend from Constantinou Bros Hotels Cyprus offers some refreshment to GTO Clive Roylance
Amy O’Donovan from Royal Museums Greenwich with GTOs
Daryl Bennett from Royal Botanic Gardens Kew
Siobhan Harrison from English Heritage
Lesley Terrell from Historic Royal Palaces
Sergio Cicalo from Encore Tickets with a GTO
Down at ground level for a change is Lucy Hillyard from the View from the Shard
Clearly delighted to be hosting the event is Alan Lloyd from QHotels
Paul Palmer from Collette
Bernard Jones from TLH Leisure Resort with GTO Enid Pamment
Graham Hopcraft (left) from Condor Ferries with GTOs. Among the usual leaflets and brochures was a perfume display. The message was clear. Travelling to Guernsey for a day trip means that you could buy perfume on board and save money. A nice bit of creative thinking for a stand display, and it certainly caught the attention of GTOs, and other suppliers.
Family affair! Mary and Lesley Marshall from Tripcenter
John Gibbs from Gosport Tourism
Simon Dodds and Tina Price from Blueprint Travel Media
Bobby Szente and Mike Bugsgang
Multi-instrumentalist Rachel King entertained on the Friday evening with violin, alto sax, pan pipes and clarinet


Called up on stage, Sergio Cicalo looks set for a soaking as Roy Davenport performs the ‘glass full of water’ trick. Sergio emerged unscathed, and dry, from the ordeal
Lesley Terrell handles an ‘invisible egg’. No comment!
The very nicely presented vehicles of Eastons Coaches prepare to leave Dunston Hall on the Saturday familiarisation trips. Nice bit of parking chaps!


“Yes, I’m definitely on this coach.”



Excellent presentation from Eastons
A beautiful sunny day at Cromer Pier
Traditional Punch and Judy show on Cromer Pier
It was a Halloween Open Day at Cromer Pier’s Pavilion Theatre. The tour guide for a behind-the-scenes tour was Deb Lewis, Box Office Manager, and part-time ghoul
“He’s behind you!” GTOs hear from Deb Lewis about Cromer’s famous ‘End of the Pier Show’
Lurking under the Pavilion Theatre stage, and making occasional forays into the auditorium, was the ‘Theatre ghost’. We asked for her name. She didn’t tell us. Well, ghosts can’t speak!
Oh these theatre people! Another member of the Pavilion Theatre team enters into the Halloween spirit. Perhaps he saw us coming!


All aboard for the journey via the scenic north Norfolk coast to Sandringham House
The team at Sandringham House laid on a delightful afternoon tea


Two days after this visit, Sandringham House closed for the winter, and to prepare for the arrival of the Queen.
Even the visitor shuttle is posh at Sandringham
There’s a fascinating collection of the royal Rolls’ and other official cars from over the years
Ah, the official photograph. A few of the group at the end of their day out to Cromer, the north Norfolk coast and Sandringham House
Meanwhile, over at Banham Zoo…


Sunshine on the Norfolk Broads
It’s the law. Wherever GTOs gather, there has to be a group photo!
Melford Hall


Norwich Cathedral
No group photo, but a tour guide in full flow on the walking tour of Norwich
On the Saturday evening it was time to celebrate AGTO’s 25th anniversary
A selection of photos of GTOs, Associates (suppliers) and guests arriving for the anniversary dinner. Cheers!





























Inside the function room: Sergio Cicalo, Robert Easton, Maggie Wright and David Steele


Sue Day and Stuart Parker
Stefania Lazurca, Helen Mulry and Harold Burke
Agata Rusinek and Amanda Casey from the family-owned and run Rendezvous Hotel in Skipton, the ‘Gateway to the Yorkshire Dales’
GTO delegates
David and Jane Lote and GTO delegates
GTO delegates
Graham Hopcraft and Alan Lloyd
Ellie Fulcher, Sophie Austin and Ollie Burton
Lesley Terrell and Lucy Hillyard
Bobby Szente with Jonathan Mountford (left) and Adam Reeves from main sponsor made tourism marketing
Mike Bugsgang with Natalie Browne and Jonathan Mountford from main sponsor made tourism marketing
West End royalty. Oliver Tompsett (Sky Masterson in Guys and Dolls) and Emma Hatton (Elphaba in Wicked) provided first class entertainment perfoming two sets of songs from West End musicals







Congratulations AGTO! Here’s to the next 25 years.

Epsom Coaches day trips boost

Epsom Coaches has reported a 27% increase in the number of day trip bookings made during September compared to the same period in 2015.

The figures reflect recent research from VisitEngland showing that the number of domestic tourism day trips from January to August in England this year hit 988 million, up 14% on the same period last year.

The Epsom Coaches team at the launch of the 2017 brochure at Epsom Racecourse on 5 October

Epsom Coaches says that October is set to be equally successful. With only a few days of the month gone, the number of bookings made has already passed 75% of the total made during the whole of October last year.

“Our September and October figures back-up the research from VisitEngland and reflect the growing interest for day trips,” say Huw Barrington, Epsom Coaches’ Commercial Director. “Our longer tours remain very popular, however, we’ve seen a marked increase in day trip bookings in the last couple of months which looks set to continue into Christmas and beyond. This is down, no doubt, to people’s busy lives and the flexibility of getting away just for the day, but also the diverse range of trips that we offer that appeal to all ages.”


For 2017, Epsom Coaches’ day trip programme, launched on 5 October at Epsom Racecourse, offers 207 trips in the UK and continental Europe, and 155 coach holidays.


Coach Tourism Council changes name

The Coach Tourism Council has become the Coach Tourism Association as the trade organisation moves to better describe its purpose.

Announcing the change at the CTA AGM held on 8 August, Chairman Denise Bridges said that the term ‘Council’ was misleading and that the new name more accurately describes the trade organisation. A new logo has been designed that maintains the organisation’s green theme.

CTA logo master

Brian Way, the owner of Wayahead Travel in Bournemouth, was elected to the CTA Board. He joins chair Denise Bridges of Albatross Travel, vice chair Jane Duffelen of Shaws Coaches, Robert Shaw of Harry Shaw, and Louise Fitzpatrick of Marriott Hotels who were all returned unopposed.

Members heard that the CTA is to support an initiative for a comprehensive survey to help the coach tourism industry plan for the future and exploit the potential to increase the number of people taking coach tours. For more information, go to www.coachtourismassociation.co.uk

The AGM formed part of a weekend hosted by QHotels at its 4-star Cheltenham Chase Hotel. Members enjoyed familiarisation visits to Gloucester and the WWT Slimbridge Wetland Centre, as well as the traditional CTA summer barbeque.

Dan Kelly, general manager of the Cheltenham Chase Hotel, says: “We were delighted to welcome CTA members to our hotel. With 122 rooms, and our location just off the M5, we regularly welcome groups of all sizes.”

Coach Tourism Association
Brian Way, of Wayahead Travel, is welcomed to the CTA Board by chairman Denise Bridges


Inverness becomes coach friendly

The city of Inverness has become the 28th recipient of the Confederation of Passenger Transport UK’s prestigious ‘Coach Friendly Towns, Cities and Villages’ status.

The status acknowledges the commitment made by Inverness to understand and meet the requirements of coaches, drivers and passengers arriving in the city.

Jeremy Tinsley, manager for CPT Scotland says: “Highland Council, in partnership with Inverness Business Improvement District (BID), has worked tirelessly over several years to deliver and provide high quality facilities in Inverness for visiting coaches and their passengers. It has made excellent provision in terms of passenger pick-up, drop-off and coach parking and CPT, drivers and passengers alike are delighted with the service provided by the Coach Ambassadors who offer a true ‘Highland Welcome’.”

Alf Scrimgour, CPT’s tourism executive and administrator of the scheme, says: “We are extremely impressed by the way all the stakeholders in the city have pulled together to present a true ‘Coach Friendly’ face to the industry, its vehicles, staff and visitors. Inverness clearly appreciates the value of coach tourism to the city and region, and this Coach Friendly status is very well deserved.”

Mike Smith, manager of Inverness BID says: “BID is delighted to have worked with the Highland Council on delivering a successful coach friendly facility in Ardross Street. This drop off and pick up area will be used by a fantastic 1,900 coaches this season – up 18% from 2015. The feedback from coach passengers, guides and drivers is that they all are very pleased with the “Welcome” we have provided for them.”

Provost of the city of Inverness, Councillor Helen Carmichael, says: “This is great news for our ‘City in the Highlands’ which not only prides itself on our ‘Highland Welcome’ but recognises the major economic importance of the tourist industry and the vital part that the coach travel sector plays in making Inverness the fourth most popular destination in Britain. A dedicated coach drop-off and pick-up point supported by the appointment of a Coach Ambassador has greatly enhanced the coach tourism experience for visitors to Inverness. Central Ward Members have been instrumental in ensuring that the new arrangements at Ardross Street are a success and are most supportive of the Award. Congratulations to everyone who has helped to make this happen.”

The formal presentation of Coach Friendly Status to Inverness will be made at the CPT Scottish Conference on 4 October.

CPT has also launched a new website giving details of its ‘coach friendly’ initiative. There are details of the recipients of the ‘Coach Friendly Towns, Cities and Villages’ status, and the recently introduced ‘Coach Friendly Visitor Attractions’ status. For more information, go to www.coachfriendly.co.uk

Inverness becomes coach friendly
Inverness has been awarded ‘Coach Friendly’ status by the CPT. L-R – Ward Member, Cllr Bet McAllister; Inverness BID manager, Mike Smith; Inverness City Manager, David Haas; and Provost Helen Carmichael

CPT launches London coach study

Bus and coach industry trade magazine routeONE is reporting (23 August) that the Confederation of Passenger Transport UK (CPT) has commissioned a London coach study, focusing on “the major areas where coaches have a pivotal function such as tourism, commuter services, scheduled express services and home-to-school”.

CPT says: “Recognising the importance of London as a destination and the significant part coaches play in supporting the capital’s economy, CPT has commissioned a study of the London coach tourism sector as an integral part of London’s transport network. Against a background of the ever greater challenges to improve the environment and keep London moving, the aim is to provide a definitive picture of the contribution the industry can make towards these goals and demonstrate the positive aspects which, on occasions, have been overlooked.”

The findings are expected to be published in the autumn.

Details have yet to be announced explaining how this new study links in with the London Tourist Coach Action Plan, the joint initiative introduced in 2014 between Transport for London and CPT that aims to find solutions to the challenges faced by coach operators working in the Capital.

London coach tourism
A new study is to look at coach tourism in London

Coach tourism awards relaunched

The National Coach Tourism Awards (NCTA), the leading national awards scheme for the coach tourism industry, has been relaunched as the British Coach Tourism Awards (BCTA).

Organiser Diversified Communications has also taken the opportunity to introduce a new brand identity as it moves to fully integrate the awards with the British Tourism & Travel Show.

The renaming and rebranding completes a move started in March 2016 when the awards moved from being a stand-alone event to be part of the British Tourism & Travel Show.

The renaming and rebranding was announced this week as the search begins for the winners of the British Coach Tourism Awards 2017.

Entries are now being invited for 18 awards. The closing date for entries is 6 January with a list of finalists due to be announced shortly after. The winners will be announced on Wednesday 22 March at the National Motorcycle Museum in Birmingham.

For full details, go to www.britishcoachawards.co.uk

British Coach Tourism Awards
The National Coach Tourism Awards has been relaunched as the British Coach Tourism Awards



Since launching in 2005, the National Coach Tourism Awards has established itself as a major event in the coach tourism calendar.

Over those years, the awards categories have been finely tuned to give most sectors of the coach tourism industry the opportunity to battle it out with their direct competitors. It is this focus on giving the industry what it needs that has helped to bring continued success, both in terms of the number of entries and in the number of coach tourism professionals attending the presentation evening.

In 2016, organiser Diversified Communications moved the presentation evening to become part of the British Tourism & Travel Show, attracting new involvement from exhibitors and visitors to the two-day trade show. Now, as the search for the 2017 winners is launched, Diversified Communications has relaunched the scheme, introducing a new name and brand identity.

In addition to recognising the best coach tour operators, the focus remains on destinations, visitor attractions and suppliers who can demonstrate a commitment to being ‘coach friendly’.

It’s important to note that the BCTA categories are always ‘…of the Year’ and relate only to the year in question. This ensures a differentiation from the Confederation of Passenger Transport UK’s ‘Coach Friendly Visitor Attraction Status’, and ‘Coach Friendly Towns, Cities and Villages Status’ which is an ongoing recognition.

While many of the award categories for 2017 will be familiar, there are some new awards, and a handful of others have changed.

New for 2017 is the ‘Accessibility Award’, recognising destinations, attractions, hotels and tour operators that can demonstrate a strong policy for accessible travel.

Also new is ‘European Coach Friendly Visitor Attraction of the Year’, separating continental European visitor attractions out from the hitherto combined UK/continental European award. It’s an interesting differential in light of the new ‘British’ focus.

The long-standing ‘Cross-Sea Carrier’ award has been merged with the ‘River and Inland Cruise Operator’ category. In comes the ‘Sea, Canal and Inland Riverboat Carrier of the Year’. It’s a surprising move as these are very different industry sectors. It seem likely then that we may see the likes of Ullswater Steamers and Windermere Lake Cruises in direct competition with DFDS, P&O Ferries and Eurotunnel Le Shuttle.

There’s a similar challenge looming in the accommodation category. The two separate categories for hotel groups and individual hotels have been combined, resulting in a single category for what is a hugely important industry sector. It’s an equally surprising move.

The ‘Coach Monthly Special Award’ has been renamed ‘The British Coach Tourism Recognition Award’. The website indicates that the award will be presented to someone who has made an “extraordinary contribution to the industry”.

But what makes entering the BCTA worthwhile is the reputational benefit to be gained by either being a finalist or winning. These awards have always stood out from others because of the way in which the organisers supply finalists and winners with PR support.

The BCTA is the only national awards scheme that specifically focuses on coach tourism. But winning an award, or being a finalist is only part of the story. What really matters is the business benefit that follows as a result.

Full details of the BCTA can be seen at www.britishcoachawards.co.uk.

Emmerdale Studio Experience opens on 3 September

From Saturday 3 September, Leeds will have a new visitor attraction when the ‘Emmerdale Studio Experience’ opens its doors for the first time.

Situated in the programme’s former studio on Burley Road in Leeds, a short distance from the city centre, the brand new experience will take groups on a journey to show how Emmerdale’s characters and stories are brought to life so sensationally for the screen. The attraction says the ‘Emmerdale Studio Experience’ “will give groups the opportunity to become part of the drama and discover the magic that lies at the heart of ITV’s iconic television series”.




Fully guided tours will shine a light on the production process and reveal how everything fits together. With full-scale set reconstructions, preserved props and costumes, to the secrets behind stunts and special effects, this is a rare chance to step behind the camera and into the exciting world of telly.

Groups will experience the much-loved surroundings of the Dingles, Bernice’s Salon, Smithy Cottage and The Woolpack sets, hear fascinating facts on some of the soap’s biggest storylines, and get the gossip and stories from the studio floor as a guide takes them on a unique tour.

The attraction will feature a full-size replica of ‘The Dingles’ set. Artist impression (c) Continuum Attractions

A spectacularly crafted quarter-size replica ‘model’ village’ sits at the heart of the attraction where sculpted rows of ‘stone clad’ cottages, Bob’s café, David’s shop and The Woolpack nestle together illustrating the warmth of village life. Plus, groups have the chance to tread the boards behind The Woolpack bar for a photograph – the ultimate souvenir for any Emmerdale fan.

Groups will have the chance to tread the boards behind ‘The Woolpack’ bar for a photograph. Artist impression (c) Continuum Attractions

The visitor experience is being operated by Continuum Attractions in partnership with ITV, a relationship that generated unprecedented demand for the seasonal Emmerdale village tours to the exterior filming set north of Leeds, and the success of ‘Coronation Street The Tour’ in Manchester before it closed at the end of last year.

The Emmerdale Studio Experience tours will run seven days a week from 10am to 5pm. Rates for groups of 15 or more are £18.75 for adults, and £17.75 for concessions and children.

It’s understood that a typical visit will last between one and a half and two hours.

Tickets are available at www.ticketmaster.co.uk/emmerdale.

‘Coronation Street On Tour’ opens at the SECC in Glasgow on 27 August and runs until 1 January. It is then due to transfer to Belfast, subject to planning permission. Visitors will be able to see a purpose-built inflatable show dome featuring authentic sets and preserved memorabilia in what Continuum Attractions describes as “a compelling and extraordinary environment”.

Continuum Attractions owns, operates and manages the following cultural attractions across the UK:

Continuum Heritage Attractions:

– The Real Mary King’s Close, Edinburgh

– The Canterbury Tales, Canterbury

– Oxford Castle Unlocked, Oxford

– York’s Chocolate Story, York

Continuum Icon Attractions

– Emirates Spinnaker Tower, Portsmouth

– Emmerdale The Tour, Leeds

– Coronation Street On Tour, Touring*

For more information, go to www.continuumattractions.com


British Airways i360 reviews

What are people saying about the British Airways i360 in Brighton?

The world’s tallest moving observation tower, the British Airways i360, opened in Brighton on Thursday 4 August. Here’s an early snapshot of opinion.

Teresa Machan, writing in The Telegraph, says:

“At three times the height of Nelson’s column, many who look up at the i360 from the seafront promenade comment that it is too high to contemplate riding in. “I must admit I had the jitters,” said one rider, today. “But because the glass curves away you really don’t notice how high you are.”

Or that you’re moving. Our launch was so smooth that it is was only once the beach began dropping away that I realised the pod (an oblate ellipsoid to give it its technical name) was in motion and that our gentle, gradual ascent had begun. This was not a thrill ride – even in today’s inclement gusts. The tower’s cantilever design, we were told, is designed to withstand typical Brighton wind conditions.

First at our feet is Hove’s promenade with its grand, sea-facing Regency squares, the 1884 seafront bandstand and the rectangular expanse of Hove Lawns, where Victorian ladies would parade in bouffant skirts. Brighton’s rooftops trip cheek-by-jowl up the city’s gently sloping landscape towards the great iron canopy of the railway station.

The relatively low-rise domed turrets of Brighton Royal Pavilion are just about visible, and I was pleased to spot unmistakable red-pink façade of the Lion and Lobster pub – another popular Brighton institution.

At around 50 metres the rolling hinterland of the South Downs National Park begins to unfold. I could see as far as Worthing Pier to the west, and east, to Beachy Head. At 162 metres the chalky cliff is exactly the same height as the i360.

On a good day you can apparently see St Boniface Down on the Isle of Wight. “And there’s a white building in the distance that we think is Butlin’s Bognor Regis,” said someone from the i360 team. Binoculars may come in handy.”

See the full article at: www.telegraph.co.uk/travel/destinations/europe/united-kingdom/england/brighton/articles/brighton-i360-vertical-pier-lift-off-launch/

British Airways i360 looking west
The view looking west. Photo (c) BAi360


Oliver Wainwright, writing in The Guardian, says:

“From the top – on a clear day – you can apparently see the tip of the Isle of Wight, 40 miles away. No such luck on my visit. On the hazy afternoon of my 20-minute “flight”, the sparkling white cliffs of the Seven Sisters were a dull grey smudge in the distance, while the rolling Sussex Downs dissolved into a blur. But even on a dull day, the city unfolds beneath you in surprising ways. Brighton’s steeply sloping topography becomes ever more apparent as you glide upwards, as does the pattern of buttery Regency terraces, framing squares that open on to the waterfront to capitalise on views of the sea. The merry hotchpotch of the seafront’s bandstands, paddling pools and beach volleyball courts then slowly flattens out into a train-set landscape, until the Palace Pier is reduced to nothing but a spindly finger of twinkling lights.

The experience is similar to a tethered hot-air balloon ride, the kind that used to entertain Victorian crowds at the nearby St Ann’s Well Gardens in Hove – except you’re trapped inside a glass capsule, cut off from the sounds and smells of the seaside. With the view partly distorted by ripples and reflections in the double-curved glazing (which might prove more of an issue at night, when the accompanying cocktail bar glows into action), it can make you wish for the simpler age of balloons and baskets, and for a gulp of fresh air. To opponents, it may still be the iSore, a Chernobyl chimney despoiling the beach. It could have been designed to feel less like a corporate entertainment lounge on a stick. But by night, when it glows like a sword plunging down from the heavens, it is hard to resist.”

See the full article at: www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2016/aug/02/brighton-i360-review-marks-barfield-british-airways

British Airways i360 looking east
The view looking east. Photo (c) BA1360


Kate Whiting, from the Press Association, writing for the BT website, says:

“Besides soaking up the views, it’s mesmerising to watch the honeycomb-patterned steel cans that form the world’s most slender tower slip through the centre of the pod.”

See her full article at: http://home.bt.com/lifestyle/travel/city-breaks/brighton-i360-review-we-visited-the-worlds-tallest-moving-observation-tower-by-the-sea-11364076875411


Martin Slater, National Sales Manager with Greatdays Travel Group, says:

I felt privileged to be invited to the pre-launch of the British Airways i360 on Tuesday 3 August. This is simply a combination of exceptional  engineering technology and architectural design. Located on Brighton beach, where the once famous Victorian pier stood, it was then said you can experience walking on water. With the British Airways i360 you have the opportunity to experience walking on air! The pod will elevate up to 200 people to a height of 138 metres (453 feet), while simultaneously providing an observation platform giving passengers unimpeded views and the freedom to stroll around or sit whilst taking in the unfolding views. The attraction is ideal for the leisure, incentive or educational market.

For more information about the British Airways i360 in Brighton, go to www.britishairwaysi360.com


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