Month: May 2016

i360 to open in July

The British Airways i360 in Brighton is understood to be on track to open in time for the school summer holidays in July.

The passenger ‘pod’ is now in place and testing it up and down the tower will begin in the next few weeks.

The British Airways i360, which has attracted considerable interest from coach tour operators and group travel organisers, was due to start testing in March. However, it is understood that the delay has been caused by what the attraction says has been a re-ordering of the schedule of activity on the site.

Talking to The Argus newspaper, Eleanor Harris, the i360’s chief executive, says: “British Airways i360 is on track to open this summer, in time for the school summer holidays. Tickets will go on sale next month when we announce our exact opening date. Over the next month we will also see the pod start to move and the lights will be switched on, which we are very excited about.”

More information at www.britishairwaysi360.com

British Airways i360
A webcam showing live pictures of the base of the tower can be seen at http://britishairwaysi360.com/latest-news/webcam/

More coach parking at Stonehenge

English Heritage is to increase the number of coach parking spaces at Stonehenge.

The move follows concerns over a lack of space at peak times and congestion caused by coaches having to double park. The plans, which have yet to be approved, will see the number of permanent coach parking spaces increase to 53. The plans also include the provision of a new toilet at the coach welcome centre, and parking for 26 motorhomes.

English Heritage says 60% of the 1.3 million people who visit the site each year now arrive by coach, a figure far higher than originally planned.

The increase in demand has also brought the end of the fleet of land trains as they were unable to cope. A shuttle bus now provides the visitor transport between the visitor centre and the Stones. A new turning facility is to be built at the visitor centre.

Commenting on the development, Stonehenge general manager Kate Davies says: “Our own experience since we opened our new facilities at Stonehenge in December 2013, together with feedback from industry colleagues and visitors and extensive research have all shown that these key improvements could make a massive difference in the future, whilst maintaining the integrity of the World Heritage Site. This is about English Heritage being able to provide the best possible welcome for coaches visiting Stonehenge.”

Stonehenge has announced plans to increase the number of coach parking spaces

Group Travel Awards shortlist announced

The nominees for this year’s Group Travel Awards have been announced.

The event, which takes place on Friday 3 June at the Park Plaza Riverbank, London, and is celebrating its 20th anniversary, is organised by Landor Travel Publications and GTO magazine.

The 25 awards categories all focus on recognising excellence for groups and include best destination, event, canal or riverboat operator, group dining experience, hotel, and European attraction and destination.

16 coach operators will battle it out to win the award for ‘Best Coach Operator for Groups’ (small and large fleet) while there are nine nominees for Best Group Tour Operator.

For the full list of nominees and details of how to book tickets, go to www.grouptravelawards.com

The Group Travel Awards 2016

CPT starts London coach parking trial

The Confederation of Passenger Transport UK (CPT) has teamed up with bus operator Go-Ahead to provide an extra 1,000 coach parking spaces in central London this spring.

Starting on Monday 16 May, 30 coach parking spaces will be available to CPT members each day at Go-Ahead’s Camberwell (20) and Stockwell (10) bus depots for a six-week trial period (ends Friday 24 June).

The coach parking facilities will be open from 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday and charged at £35 per day (plus an administration charge of £1.50 plus VAT).

Speaking about the trial, CPT’s chief executive, Simon Posner says: “I’m delighted that we’ve reached an agreement with Go-Ahead to provide CPT members with an extra 30 coach parking spaces each day in London at a time when other facilities are either being removed or having restrictions placed on them.

“Coach parking and the picking-up and setting-down of passengers has long been a contentious issue for operators visiting the Capital, and I hope this announcement goes some way to addressing their concerns while also ensuring that coaches can continue to operate in this great city.

“I am confident that a successful six-week trial will be the catalyst for further initiatives and we will certainly be looking to make the arrangement with Go-Ahead at Camberwell and Stockwell a permanent one.

“I hope that CPT members will take advantage of the coach parking spaces on offer and I look forward to receiving their feedback on both the facility provided and the payment and booking system.”

Bookings can be made by calling a dedicated credit card hotline on 020 7257 2507 (open from 10am to 4pm on Monday to Friday), or by emailing parkmycoach@cpt-uk.org. All bookings and payments must be made in advance.

Seine-et-Marne targets UK tour planners

The French region of Seine-et-Marne to the east of Paris is launching a new campaign to attract more groups from the UK.

The campaign is being run under the ‘Paris What Else’ branding, highlighting the close proximity of the area to the French capital, and encouraging tour planners to look at the region’s attractions when refreshing a Paris-based itinerary.

The Seine-et-Marne tourist office is also relaunching its central information and booking service to make it easier for coach tour operators and group travel organisers to understand what the region has to offer groups.

Commenting on the launch of the campaign, Florence Bruaux, head of tourism at Seine-et-Marne Tourisme, says: “Our region is already well known in the UK because it is home to Disneyland Paris. But there is much more to discover, including the Châteaux of Fontainebleau, Vaux le Vicomte and Champs-sur-Marne, the medieval walled town of Provins and the Museum of the Great War in Meaux.

“Under our marketing brand of ‘Paris What Else’ we want to highlight the possibilities for groups to combine a visit to Paris with visits to our wonderful attractions. The region also has a number of quality, group-friendly hotels that give tour planners the option to stay in one of our charming towns, and then travel into Paris.

“Our central information and booking service means that coach tour operators and group travel organisers can contact us for information about places to visit, and where to stay. We will then make all the arrangements. We want to encourage more UK groups to visit us, so we’re making it as easy as possible for this to happen.”

As part of the campaign, the tourist office is holding a trade workshop in central London on 14 and 15 June. For more information on the workshop email stuart@stuartrendertourism.co.uk.

To contact the central information and booking service email Marjorie Sebille at sebille@tourisme77.fr or go to www.visit.pariswhatelse.fr

www.Paris-whatelse.com is a brand of Tourism 77, the official tourism booking agency for the Eastern Paris region. With its head office in the historic city of Fontainebleau it has specialised in creating packages for groups for the past 25 years and packages for individuals since 2003. The new website provides unique tour packages dedicated to Paris and the Champagne-Ardenne region for groups, couples, families, corporate groups and individuals.

Florence Bruaux, head of tourism at Seine-et-Marne Tourism. The tourist organisation has launched a new campaign to encourage UK groups to visit the region
Florence Bruaux, head of tourism at Seine-et-Marne Tourism. The tourist organisation has launched a new campaign to encourage UK groups to visit the region