Month: March 2017

Miss England helps Southport celebrate awards success

Miss England 2016, Elizabeth Grant, visited the British Tourism & Travel Show at the NEC in Birmingham on 23 March to help the Southport tourism team celebrate winning a national tourism award.

Southport won ‘Coach Friendly Destination of the Year’ at the British Coach Tourism Awards held the previous evening. The town saw off stiff competition from Beverley, Bournemouth, Plymouth, Poole and Wells to win the award for ‘Coach Friendly Destination of the Year’.

The award recognises a town, city or region that demonstrates a commitment to welcoming coaches, coach groups and coach drivers. Previous winners have included Liverpool, York, Burnham-on-Sea and the Isle of Man.

The judges praised ‘Southport Welcome’, a new initiative launched in 2016 to highlight and remind tour planners and coach operators why the traditional seaside destination is coach and group friendly.

Elizabeth Grant was crowned ‘Miss England’ in Southport in July 2016 and was visiting the trade show to help highlight the many attractions the popular seaside town has to offer.

Miss England 2016/17, Elizabeth Grant, is joined by Sammi Rudge and Steve Christian from Southport’s tourism team


Rendezvous Hotel, Skipton launches ‘The Real Yorkshire Experience’

The Rendezvous Hotel in Skipton, North Yorkshire, has launched ‘The Real Yorkshire Experience’, a new and unique short break tour package for tour planners and group travel organisers.

‘The Real Yorkshire Experience’ combines traditional Yorkshire hospitality at the hotel with a choice of day trip itinerary options that can be tailored to offer a bespoke tour.

Rendezvous Hotel Skipton
The Rendezvous Hotel and Visit Skipton teams, with help from ‘Ena’ the sheep, launch ‘The Real Yorkshire Experience’ at the British Tourism & Travel Show on 22 March

The Real Yorkshire Experience package includes:

  • Arrival drinks with Yorkshire treats and Yorkshire tea
  • Dinner, bed and breakfast with a ‘Yorkshire’ dish each night on the menu
  • Yorkshire tea on return from your day out
  • Yorkshire goody bag on departure
  • A selection of Yorkshire-themed evening entertainment including: long sword dancers, folk band, gin tasting experience, themed quizzes, and local guest speakers

The day trip itinerary options include the Yorkshire Dales, Bolton Abbey, Bronte Country, Saltaire and Salts Mill, and the Keighley and Worth Valley Railway. There’s also an opportunity to travel around the region by vintage coach.

The 96-bedroom, award-winning Rendezvous Hotel sits alongside the Leeds Liverpool Canal a mile south of the market town of Skipton, the ‘Gateway to the Dales’. As part of the package, groups can be picked up by boat and taken into the town. The hotel has also joined together with a number of local visitor attractions and tourism suppliers to offer exclusive discounts.

Commenting on the new package, Malcolm Weaving, owner of the Rendezvous Hotel, says: “Yorkshire is already well known for its friendly welcome, it’s spectacular scenery, and its group-friendly visitor attractions. Skipton itself was presented with the award for ‘Top Town for Courtesy 2016’ by the National Campaign for Courtesy, of which we are members. This new package brings all of that together in a way that allows tour planners and group travel organisers to put together a bespoke itinerary and to truly experience what this part of Yorkshire has to offer.”

The Rendezvous Hotel is family owned and run by Malcolm and Karen Weaving who live in the hotel. It received the award for ‘Accommodation Provider of the Year’ at the National Coach Tourism Awards 2014 and 2016, and was a finalist in 2017. It was a runner-up in the category for ‘Individual Hotel for Groups’ at the 2016 Group Travel Awards.

The hotel has a ‘Group Charter’ and ‘Tour Charter’, and function rooms that can be used by groups for evening entertainment or afternoon events. There’s free wifi throughout the hotel and free parking for coaches.

For more information, go to www.rendezvous-skipton.co.uk



Industry excellence rewarded at British Coach Tourism Awards

More than 350 professionals from across the coach tourism industry gathered at the National Motorcycle Museum near Birmingham on 22 March for the British Coach Tourism Awards 2017.

Special recognition was paid to Joan Johnson of Henley-in-Arden based Johnsons Coach Travel for her outstanding contribution to coach tourism.

Celebrating its 12th anniversary this year, the British Coach Tourism Awards is the only national awards scheme that specifically focuses on coach tourism. The event is organised by Diversified Communications UK, and hosted by Group Tourism & Travel magazine (formerly Coach Monthly). This year’s celebrity presenter was TV personality and broadcaster Gethin Jones.

British Coach Tourism Awards 2017
The British Coach Tourism Awards celebrates excellence among coach tour operators, destinations, visitor attractions and industry suppliers

Here’s the full list of winners:

Coach Friendly Destination (sponsored by P&O Ferries)
– Southport

Coach Friendly Visitor Attraction (sponsored by the Coach Tourism Association)
– West Midland Safari & Leisure Park

European Coach Friendly Attraction (sponsored by DFDS)
– Titanic Belfast

Sea, Canal, Inland Riverboat Carrier (including under-sea) (sponsored by Edward Coaches)
– Windermere Lake Cruises

Heritage Railway (sponsored by Group Tourism & Travel Magazine)
– Lakeside & Haverthwaite Railway

Accommodation Provider (sponsored by the British Tourism & Travel Show)
– Warner Leisure Hotels

Tour Wholesaler (sponsored by Planet Hollywood & Ripley’s London)
– Albatross Travel

Holiday Programme (sponsored by Irish Ferries)
– Glenton Holidays

Day Excursion Programme (sponsored by Warner Leisure Hotels)
– Eastons Coaches

Accessibility Award (sponsored by Coach & Bus UK)
– Chester Zoo

Coach Tour Operator Brochure (sponsored by Hospitality Line and City Cruises)
– Crusader Holidays

Coach Tourism Innovation of the Year (sponsored by Eurotunnel)
– Galloway Coach Travel, for ‘School of Rock coach’

Coach Tourism Professional of the Year (sponsored by the Association of Group Travel Organisers)
– Lisa Weaver, Groups Coordinator, Woburn Abbey and Gardens

Coach Tour Driver of the Year (sponsored by the Coach Drivers’ Club)
– The driver team at Crusader Holidays

Coach Tour Operator: Small Fleet (1-5 coaches) (sponsored by the Rendezvous Hotel, Skipton)
– Tally Ho! Holidays

Coach Tour Operator: Medium Fleet (6-15 coaches) (sponsored by Roadchef)
– Highland Explorer Tours

Coach Tour Operator: Large Fleet (more than 15 coaches) (sponsored by Wrightsure)
– Edwards Coach Holidays

The British Coach Tourism Recognition Award (sponsored by Hilton Worldwide)
– Joan Johnson

Joan, who was unable to be present at the awards, has spent more than 60 years working in the industry. She joined Johnsons Coaches of Henley-in-Arden in Warwickshire, her husband Roy’s family business, in 1956. She retired in December last year at the age of 80. Having joined the business in 1956, with just three coaches, a furniture removal lorry and a taxi, Joan was soon raising five children whilst running a business, and becoming one of the first ever female coach drivers in the UK. In 1981, she completed her first coach tour to Blairgowrie with her son John. From then she has escorted more than 350 tours all over the UK, Europe and worldwide. A true family business, her dedication saw her taking on research to each destination and excursion, making sure that customers were well looked after, and even coming up with the company’s motto: ‘Travel with Johnsons, Travel with Friends’. In her spare time she volunteers for a local charity, raising over £11k in just three years.

Helen Conway, group director at Diversified UK, says: “Once again the sheer quality of this year’s awards entries has been outstanding and sends a strong signal that the domestic tourism sector is getting stronger every year and is a real testament to the strength of commitment of the individuals working within it.

“There are many tourism awards, but only the British Coach Tourism Awards specifically focuses on coach tourism. They are the most important annual celebration of the very best our industry has to offer. As well as recognising excellence and innovation in all aspects of the trade on a big stage, the awards offer winners a year-round marketing opportunity and a big morale-booster for hard-working teams. Congratulations again to all our fantastic winners.”

For further information, and to see more photos from the event, go to www.britishcoachawards.co.uk.



Diamond Holidays brands bought after company ceases trading

Ipswich-based Arena Travel has purchased ‘The River Cruise Line’ and ‘Diamond Rail’ brands.

The announcement follows the news (16 March) that Diamond Shortbreak Holidays Ltd had ceased trading ‘due to financial difficulties’ on March 15.

The ‘Diamond Holidays’ brand itself is not understood to be part of the deal.

Steve Goodenough, general manager of Arena Travel, who was sales and marketing director with Diamond Holiday Group until June 2015, says he aims to continue to operate as many of the brands’ 5,000 booked holidays as possible in 2017.

“The acquisition was supported by the cruise lines who operate the popular ‘Lady Anne’ and ‘Serenity’ ships that are exclusive to The River Cruise Line. Both will be working closely with Arena with the aim of operating the vast majority of planned sailings for 2017.

“Our aim is to provide the same rail or river cruise holiday on the same date and at the same price to as many of the 5,000 who have booked a holiday for the season ahead as possible. Thanks to the financial protection in place, customers will be covered for any loss of money.

“We’d like to reassure agents and the loyal customers of The River Cruise Line and Diamond Rail Holidays that their bookings will be safe and that we will be working hard to minimise disruption through this period of transition.

“We appreciate that this can be a worrying time, but our intention is to retain and build the River Cruise Line and Diamond Rail brands, and to ensure that their portfolio of river cruises and escorted rail tours continues to operate to the usual high standard.

“Arena Travel has been established for over 40 years and our expertise in special interest holidays means that there’s a great synergy between the brands and customers of both companies. We look forward to an exciting future, developing business with our trade partners, group organisers and individual customers”.

News that Diamond Shortbreak Holidays had ceased trading broke on 16 March. A statement from the company said: “It is with deep regret that Diamond Shortbreak Holidays Ltd, trading as Diamond Holidays, Diamond Rail Holidays and The River Cruise Line, is in the process of going into administration. In total there are just under 7,000 current holiday bookings. All passengers who were due to travel with the company have either already been contacted or will be contacted shortly. As the company is a fully bonded member of ABTA and ATOL monies paid by our customers are protected.”

Diamond Shortbreak Holidays, based in Market Harborough, Leicestershire, had been operating holidays in the UK and Europe for 19 years.

It is reported that the company had 52 UK-based staff members and 26 based overseas.

Diamond Holidays
Diamond Holidays was a strong supporter of industry events. Tim Fleming and Rebecca Dance are seen at last year’s AGTO showcase event.