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Overseas holidays

'Attenborough effect' boosts Africa tourism

BBC TV series Africa has boosted travel and holiday bookings to the previously named ‘Dark Continent’. Through Sir David Attenborough’s latest televisual offering, flights to Tanzania are soaring as are trips to Kenya and to Egypt’s Red Sea resorts, according to a recent survey.

Holiday company Hayes & Jarvis conducted the survey based on long-haul travel trends, and also found that Mauritius and Mexico are also doing well, but the effect of UK APD airport departure tax has hit bookings to Antigua, St Lucia and Barbados. Other long-haul hotspots included Hawaii and the Dominican Republic

Vietnam was named one of the top 10 most popular long-haul destinations, outperforming Thailand. Another popular spot for British tourists, New York, was shown to have recovered from the tourism hit following the devastation Superstorm Sandy.

Brazil, Costa Rica, China, and Trinidad’s neighbour Tobago also produced higher booking rates. “Kenya has staged a strong recovery to regain popularity,” said Hayes & Jarvis. “The Attenborough effect has driven a TV audience fascinated by the wildlife on the BBC to book a break away to East Africa.” Hayes & Jarvis’ top 10 most-popular long-haul destinations included (in ranking 1-10 order): :: Mauritius :: Mexico :: Kenya :: New York :: Hawaii :: Egypt :: Vietnam :: Tanzania :: Thailand :: Dominican Republic

Copyright Press Association 2013

Serengeti elephants 'less stressed'

Travellers lucky enough to go on a safari holiday in the Serengeti will be happy their tour takes place in the company of elephants more relaxed than those living outside the protected area.

A study, published in the African Journal of Ecology, suggests elephants are more laid-back when living in safer areas and become more anxious when they leave them. Holidaymakers wanting to catch sight of the creatures at their happiest may also be interested to hear that the elephants appear to "know" the Serengeti National Park is a safer environment, as more of them choose to live within the park. The animals are free to come and go, as can visitors travelling in by coach or other safari vehicles, as there are no fences surrounding the Serengeti's protected areas, effectively meaning elephants can choose where to hang out.

But there are various benefits for the animals living in the national park, where they are protected from illegal hunting and habitat destruction. Tourists reading up more about the creatures may be fascinated by the latest research, which may suggest that keeping a respectful distance from the animals is the greatest way to see them at their most content.

In carrying out the study, the scientists were trying to assess the welfare of the African elephants inside Serengeti National Park and compare it with those residing in the partially-protected adjoining areas of Grumeti Game Reserve and Ikoma Open Area. They appeared to find that limiting the more troubling effects of human interaction proves beneficial for the elephants, with tests on dung revealing there were significantly higher levels of the stress hormone gluccorticoid in animals in the higher-risk areas.

Copyright © Press Association 2013

Scuba fans witness sardine run

A small band of lucky scuba divers is heading to South Africa to witness the sardine run – one of the world’s most breathtaking aquatic spectacles. Each June a vast shoal of sardines makes its way to the colder waters off the coast of South Africa, carving a shimmering black path through the lurid blue ocean.

The sardines undertake the journey to feed on the large volumes of plankton bloom, but hundreds of predators will be lying in wait for them. The predators force the sardines into their standard defensive formation, a tightly-packed ball of furiously flickering scales, driving them up to the surface where they are easier to catch. The sardines that manage to avoid the colossal mouths of the blue whales and the menacing attentions of circling sharks and dolphins still have to contend with the feeding penguins, which arrow into the water to spear their prey.

The whole feeding frenzy is clearly visible from the surface, as the water bubbles like a Jacuzzi amid the sheer amount of activity. The team will be led by Louis van Aardt, dive guide for the team filming the sardine run for BBC2's Oceans documentary.

Travellers will fly out to Cape Town airport for some basic dives at Cape Point, home to blue and mako sharks, before flying on to Port Elizabeth to follow the sardine run.

Press Association 2013

Resorts help ski-loving parents

Parents who want to hit the slopes without worrying about their little ones can rely on child-friendly ski services at specialist resorts, according to industry experts.

Al Morgan, from Skiclub, said there are a range of services at resorts to enable parents to enjoy the apres-ski while their children are looked after. These specialist resorts also help to introduce the younger generations to skiing and winter sports in a safe and enjoyable environment. Nannying, babysitting, kids clubs, family skiing, ski school and a wealth of other family-specific services for parents and children are on hand, according to Skiclub. Mr Morgan, who is the information and advice manager for the not-for-profit organisation, said these efficient services make family ski holidays much more enjoyable. One such resort which offers a family friendly facility is the Marillon in Grand Massif, which has been awarded the Famille Plus by the Government, according to the Guardian.

The highly rated French resort is conveniently located just 35 minutes from Geneva's airport, so parents can hit the slopes within an hour of landing. For even greater ease, parents can arrange airport transfers to and from the resort to ensure they can enjoy the thrill of the slopes without the stress of organising travel.

Copyright Press Association 2013

Cities in Europe cheaper, says study

European cities have become cheaper for travellers looking for a good holiday deal over the last year, a new report says.

The report from the Economist Intelligence Unit found that Tokyo was the most expensive city for living costs. London, the third most expensive city three years ago, rose a place to 16th and Manchester moved up six places to 47th. Travellers can use the study conclusions to plan their best possible break, balancing cost and enjoyment as they choose their flights from the most convenient airport, whether travelling by car or enjoying the convenience of a coach to the airport.

Australian cities have shot up the list of the dearer destinations worldwide and Sydney is now the third most expensive city in the world, with Melbourne fifth. Cities in Asia had risen with wage growth and economic hope, so more than half of the 20 priciest cities were now in Asia and Australasia, said report editor Jon Copestake. Mumbai and New Delhi in India, Kathmandu in Nepal and Algiers in Algeria were all among the least expensive cities, as befitting their status as growth regions for tourism. Economic austerity and currency fears had seen Europe's cost of living decline relative to other places, said Mr Copestake.

Copyright © Press Association 2013