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London Travel

Museum of London to open five new galleries

Museaum of LondonMuseum of London, EC2

The Museum of London has announced the launch of the 5 new galleries making up a collection named the  Galleries of Modern London. The galleries will open to the public on the 28th May just in time for the Spring Bank Holiday in the UK.

Timing the launch perfectly for the British summertime period, the new galleries will tell the story of the rise of London from around 1666 into one of the Worlds greatest cities, to the many thousands of UK and inbound tourists sure to flock there for a thematic take on the past. 

Having spent £20 million on the development over the last three years, the Museum of London are no doubt excited about the opening. A new iPhone application has been introduced to celebrate the opening, available free from the iTunes store, allows users to see London past and present via a virtual tour, but nothing can compare to the real thing. 

People and iconic objects are central to the theme that will tell the story including 7000 exhibits that include stuffed cats, a golden coach dating back to 1757, a pair of flintlock pistols forged by Huguenot craftsmen, the first Model Y Ford , Admiral Nelson’s sword of honour to Charlie Chaplin’s signature in the guest book of the Café Royal and images of the first early London bus and transport. 

The galleries also cover the Great Fire of London and how the city picked itself up, and dusted itself down, to grow at pace into the financial giant and tourist magnet the city is today. 

More details and directions can be found on the official Museum of London website at www.MuseumOfLondon. org.uk The museum is located in EC2, easy access for central London.

Britons 'spending less overseas'

Britons flying from Stansted and Luton helped buck the overall downward trend in holiday transactions last year, statistics have revealed.

A survey of UK Visa cardholders' purchasing figures showed that spending in foreign supermarkets rose 18% on 2008.

Overall spending abroad, however, slipped by 4% to £564 million in 2009, Visa Europe said. 

Some of the worst hit sectors included car rental, department stores and accommodation, which fell by 25%, 20% and 14% respectively.

By country, the total spent in the Republic of Ireland by Britons dropped 13%, while spending in the United States fell 11% to just under £1.46 billion.

Outlay in Europe also fell, with France and Italy experiencing 8% and 6% drops. Transactions in ever-popular Spain tumbled 5% to just under £1.72 billion.

But it wasn't all bad news. More visitors than ever before to Namibia, Lebanon and Kenya produced spend increases of up to 50%.

Visa Europe head of debit Tony Gibbons said: "Due to the economic climate, in the last 12 months we have seen a slight slowdown in card spending abroad.

"The global downturn hasn't put us off travelling. Instead we've scaled back our spending and are looking to extract as much value from our trips as possible. For example people are shifting spend from eating out to eating in. As people start to travel abroad again, we expect to see spending pick up over the next few years."

Copyright Press Association 2010

Qantas to offer new London service

Airline Qantas is to launch a new service between Melbourne and London next year, it has been announced.

The group is increasing its fleet of A380 airliners in the coming year from six to 10.

By March next year, the airline will offer daily flights between Melbourne and the capital. 

Beforehand, daily flights between Sydney and London are also planned for the end of this year as Qantas receives its seventh A380.

The Melbourne flights will be available five times a week once Qantas has received its eighth airbus, increasing to six services per week upon delivery of its ninth A380.

Qantas will also expand its presence at London airports by increasing its selling space on British Airways (BA) services between London and Singapore each week.

Further expansion plans include an increase in its codesharing on BA services between Heathrow and Rome, Milan, Toulouse, Prague, Warsaw and Budapest. 

Travellers will be able to purchase the flights from June 14 for departure from July 21.

Copyright © Press Association 2010

Book show reveals its summer reads

Passengers travelling between London and Stansted might want to pick up a copy of the latest must-have novels as they get ready for their holidays abroad.

Eight books have been announced for The Summer Read, a spin off from the TV Book Club that started life on the Richard and Judy show and gained huge popular appeal.

Holidaymakers can get into the mood early by starting their books as they hop on the Stansted Express or head from London to Luton airport, perhaps choosing a Booker prize nominee or a former Reuters reporter to entertain them on their travels.

Since its launch in 2004, many authors featured on the TV Book Club have enjoyed commercial and critical success. The show moved on from Richard and Judy and will be broadcast on More4 every Sunday from June 27.

Presenters Jo Brand and David Spikey will appear for eight episodes, discussing a new book on the list each week with two celebrity presenters and a celebrity guest, starting with The Help, written by Mississippi author Kathryn Stockett.

London to Stansted reading for travellersTravellers between London and Stansted can pick up a recommended summer read

Viewers are able to read along, and the selected novels are tipped to become this season's bestsellers. Anyone who misses an episode of the Specsavers-sponsored show can tune in to a repeat on Channel 4 on Mondays.

Amanda Ross, who created the orginal TV Book Club, led the panel which chose the eight books from a list provided by UK publishers. She is also the managing director of Cactus TV, which produces the programme in its current format.

Copyright © Press Association 2010

Lucky Star receives VIP treatment

 Pop queen Madonna was afforded some extra special treatment when she was caught up in the recent disruption to hit London airports this week. 

The Lucky Star singer's flight from New York made an emergency landing at Stansted Airport due to the severe winter weather. The plane had initially been bound for Heathrow Airport

Heavy snow then marooned the plane on the tarmac for an hour before Madonna and her entourage were transported to the terminal via a bus. Some of the other passengers on the Virgin Atlantic flight remained on the aircraft for a further two hours before being cleared to disembark. 

"As the plane was diverted to Stansted due to very difficult weather conditions, disembarkation was delayed while ground staff waited for buses to transport customers back to London Heathrow," said a statement from Virgin Atlantic.  

"We apologize for any inconvenience this diversion caused, but for safety reasons this action was unavoidable." 

Regarding Madonna's VIP treatment, a representative from Virgin said: "It is common across airlines that business and first-class passengers disembark first and this is reflected in the higher cost of the ticket." 

The passengers were among tens of thousands of travellers across the UK who suffered delays due to the recent Arctic conditions. 

Copyright Press Association 2010

Monarch extends summer flight services

Monarch Airlines has confirmed it will add extra flights to eight popular summer holiday destinations in May.

The carrier revealed it will offer an extra four flights a week to Gibraltar from Luton Airport from May 27, while it will also put on an additional two flights per week from Luton to Mallorca, Malaga and Alicante in Spain, and Dalaman in Turkey.

Luton Airport could be busier than normal this summer as tourists might also want to take advantage of one extra weekly flight to the Turkish resort of Bodrum and an additional service to Faro in Portugal. These services will also be available from May 27.

Anyone living in the north of England who is thinking about getting some sun in Cyprus might be interested to discover there will be an extra weekly service from Manchester Airport to Larnaca.

There will also be an extra 16,000 seats made available on Monarch flights from Gatwick to Malaga, Mallorca, Larnaca, Lanzarote, Faro and Alicante during the summer.

Monarch's managing director, Kevin George, said: "Bookings for summer are already up 27% compared with the same time last year with demand from customers still increasing, so we are delighted to respond to this by adding over 135,000 additional seats to our flying programme this summer season."

Copyright Press Association 2011

40% opt to propose while abroad

Two in five men have opted to propose to their partners while on holiday abroad, a survey reveals.

According to holiday price comparison website travelmatch, 40% of men had opted to fly their partners overseas from airports like Gatwick, Stansted and Luton to pop the question, with America being the most popular destination, followed by France, Italy and Spain.

More than 70% of women polled said they had an inkling that their partner was about to propose, while 27% were certain that their other half was going to pop the question.

Considering that 40% of men admitted that the proposal did not go according to plan, thanks largely to nerves and the inability to find the perfect moment.

The poll, which questioned 1,000 adults who have married or got engaged in the last three years, also revealed that couples who get engaged abroad spend an average of £4,687 on the occasion, including more than £2,000 for an engagement ring and around £1,000 on flights and accommodation.

The most likely proposal venue was a restaurant, with a well-known monument or landmark and the beach among other popular choices.

Men spend an average of 10 weeks planning the perfect engagement holiday while a fifth spend up to four months in preparation. Around a third proposed on the first day of the holiday, while 54% waited until mid-holiday, with 10% doing it on the last day.

Unsurprisingly, two in three men said that asking their girlfriends to marry them was the most nerve-wracking thing they had ever done.

Copyright © Press Association 2011

Insurers review premium proposals

The insurance industry is working with consumer group Which? on Government proposals relating to the travel insurance premiums of older people.

As part of the plans, insurers will be required to provide evidence if they are charging higher rates of insurance to those aged 65 or over, rather than assuming that because of their age, they are more vulnerable to having an accident or becoming ill while abroad.

Which? has conducted a survey into what travel polices are available to older people.

It found that 25% of companies offering annual travel policies will not cover people aged 65 or over, while 90% will not provide insurance to those in their 80s.

For older people who want to hop on to a flight from Heathrow or Stansted for a one-off holiday, single trip policies can also be difficult to arrange.

Some 86% of companies have an upper age limit, while just 29% will cover people in their 80s.

Among those firms that do continue to cover people when they turn 65, premiums can triple overnight.

An annual worldwide travel insurance policy with Essential Travel costs £58.72 a year for people who are under 65, but this soars to £205.51 for consumers over this age.

Which? also found that, despite the fact that 60% of over-65s do not use the internet, the best deals were often available online.

Richard Lloyd, executive director of Which?, said: "It's absurd that you could wake up one morning and suddenly be three times more expensive to insure.

"Older travellers are finding it increasingly difficult to get cover or are priced out of travelling altogether.

"Insurers should take a more common sense approach and look at factors other than age when setting premiums."

Copyright © Press Association 2011

Hogg sees rise in business travel

The growth of the economy has boosted demand for the services of corporate travel company Hogg Robinson, which reports an upturn in business travel.

In the year to March, client activity for the firm, which offers travel services to companies worldwide, has risen by 17% - with client spend up 23%.

The Basingstoke-based group, whose list of clients include the UK Ministry of Defence and Foreign Office, said that overall travel spend was up in the UK, however its growth had been boosted by the Asia-Pacific market.

Volkswagen and Rolls-Royce are also customers of Hogg, which posted pre-tax profits of £28.9 million, a 36% rise in the period.

International natural disasters, harsh winter weather and increases in fuel duty did not stop the group from experiencing a revenue increase of 10% in the year, hitting £358 million.

The company has previously said events such as last year's volcanic ash cloud, which closed down the UK's airspace and left passengers stranded at Heathrow and other airports across the country, actually generate more work for its business as it manages contingency plans to offset the disturbance to travel.

Chairman John Coombe said: "The global economy is slowly recovering from the financial crisis of the last few years and HRG's services are increasingly in demand."

The group said there had been a gradual recovery in all regions since 2009, though growth was strongest in Asia-Pacific and North America.

In Europe, underlying operating profits increased by £2.7 million to £30.8 million, as client travel spend increased by 18%.

The UK business saw an increase in spend as the loss of Government contracts was offset by increases in other sectors, Hogg said.

The board brought cheer to shareholders as it hiked the full-year dividend by 25% and said it expects the current momentum to continue.

Copyright © Press Association 2011

Britons 'stick to European breaks'

The holiday season is upon us, and while people are busy organising their trips away, it appears that many do not want to venture too far from home.

A survey conducted by travel agent Sunshine found that 34% of holidaymakers from the UK have not gone on a break outside Europe.

Many of the people who choose to take a short flight abroad from airports such as Luton and Stansted said they liked how familiar European countries were.

Some 22% believe that a trip to Europe is cheaper, while 13% said they like to keep the amount of time they are on a flight to a minimum.

But 11% of those surveyed admitted they had never gone on a break in Europe, with 32% of these revealing they thought trips outside of Europe were cheaper, and 24% saying they were now familiar with certain long-haul places.

Around 4% of those who travel to further-off places said they thought going on holiday was pointless unless it was to a destination which you could only get to on a long-haul flight. 

Sunshine co-founder Chris Brown said: "I think when many people imagine a holiday, they immediately think of destinations like France, Spain and Portugal and stick to European places.

"However, people shouldn't be afraid to look a little further afield for a holiday."

Copyright © Press Association 2011

Britons 'to spend more on holiday'

Britons are planning to spend more money when they go on holiday this year, a survey has suggested.

Some 32% of people said they would be spending more cash when they went abroad in 2011 compared with last year. 

The extra spending amounted to an average of £326 per person. 

The poll of 2,011 people by M&S Money found that 44% said they would spend the most money on eating out, while 12% planned to splash out on excursions.

Some 17% of holidaymakers said they would spend less while on their break this year, and 42% planned to fork out the same amount as they did in 2010.

Almost a third of those who expected to part with more money blamed the rising cost of living for their extra spending. Those who are worried about the cost of their holiday spending might be looking to save money on their travel cost this year, by searching for cheaper flights or using convenient airport transfers services rather than taxis.

Another survey has revealed that Britons will take an average of £451 spending money for a two-week holiday this year. 

The poll, carried out by currency company Moneycorp, found that 23% of respondents were planning to take less cash with them than they did last year. 

Rupert Bedell, of Moneycorp, said: "Disposable income for consumers is at a 10-year low and this has led to a smaller budget for many Brits going overseas."

Copyright © Press Association 2011