Following the attack on a tourist bus which had been on an excursion to Taba, and on which three tourists were killed, the Foreign Office is advising that only those who have to go to Egypt on essential business should avoid travelling in the entire Sinai Peninsula, with the exception of the resort confines of Sharm el Sheikh.

The ban means that British and other tourist will be prevented from visiting other Red Sea resorts which have proved a popular attraction in the past. These include Taba, Dahab and Nuweiba. Also out of bounds are other popular attractions such as St Catherine’s Monastery, Petra in Jordan, or anywhere else in the region. The Foreign Office is commenting that other attacks are very likely to take place as the terrorist claim more will follow the attack that took place on Sunday the 9th February.

For tourists who are booked to travel to other resorts within the Sharm area including Sharm el Maya, Hadaba, Naama Bay, Sharks Bay and Nabq, as well as the airport, these are exempt from the ban. The Egyptian authorities have put enhanced protection in place at the Sharm airport as well as the Sharm resorts.

The two main operators at the Sharm resorts has cancelled all excursions to the much visited St Catherine’s Monastery, which is one of the oldest Christian monasteries in the world and from which the bus which was attacked was returning.

Problems in Egypt have been evident since the overthrow of Hosni Mubarak in 2011following which tourism figures for Egypt have fallen dramatically by a millions, until now the Sharm region has been largely unaffected.

Egypt Flags

Picture: thecoldwhisper


Florida is not called the sunshine state for nothing; the temperatures rarely drop below 22 degrees even in January and December, the two coldest months of the year. The winter months in Florida are the best time of the year to visit the state as the summer months of June through to the end of September, whilst much hotter are in the rainy season and it is not unusual for it to rain at least once every day, it is also the official hurricane season.

Orlando is the Airport to which most flights from the UK go to and there are many regional airports which fly direct all year round. Orlando will make a great base from which you can travel and see the whole State, or just use it to have a great holiday experience, shopping sightseeing or some of the best golf on the world.

Naturally Florida is renowned for its theme parks and Disney World has t rank the tops for many visitors, both young and old. SeaWorld Orlando is a stunning attraction where you can take part in thrilling rides if you wish or just watch feeding of the seals and sea lions, or become completely entranced in the 360 degree theatre experience.

You will never be short of things to do and to see in Orlando, museums and some of the best dining experiences anywhere can be found here. But Florida has so much to offer, beaches galore 500 miles of them and as all things America, they don’t do things by half. Try Cocoa Beach or Daytona Beach water sports galore and beach bars to quench your thirst or replenish you with home cooked delights.

The Everglades is something completely different from the glitz and glamour of the theme parks, one and a half million acres of unspoilt wetlands and home to the all American crocodile and you could spot a Florida Panther! Take a hover craft ride through them; you will remember it all your life.

So we suggest that you try Florida for your next winter vacation in the sun, we are sure it will not be the last time you visit the “Sunshine State” why not give it a try?

Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida

Picture: twg1942


The Forth Railway Bridge has been announced as the latest UK nomination for World Heritage status. The bridge, which links Edinburgh and Fife was constructed in 1883 by over 4,500 workers and was opened in 1890 and was the first major British construction made of steel. It carries trains more than a mile and a half over the Firth of Forth.

Plans to put the Forth Railway Bridge forward for World Heritage status began in 2012, but it is only now that a formal bid has been submitted.

Scottish Secretary, Alistair Carmichael talked about the nominations saying, “The Forth Bridge proudly symbolises Scotland’s place in the world as a pioneer of construction.” Adding, “Achieving this recognition will be a fitting tribute to all of the people who have contributed to the building, maintenance and restoration of the bridge.’’

Scotland currently has five of the 28 UK World Heritage sites including Orkney, New Lanark and Edinburgh. The Forth Railway Bridge will not be considered by the Unesco World Heritage Committee and a final decision will be made before June 2015.

More information about the Forth Railway Bridge can be found here.

Forth Bridge

Picture: Bob White


When you first set foot in this delightful Swiss resort you will be smitten by the sheer beauty of it, fearsome, steep mountains, how truly Swiss it is. Many regard this ski resort as the perfect one surrounded by a dozen or so peaks dominated of course by the most famous the Matterhorn, which is probably the most spectacular peak in the world.

The first time visitor to Zermatt is sure to be in for a treat as they step down from the train, Zermatt is a car free village, as you stand on the square outside the station you will be struck, no doubt open mouthed at the Matterhorn towering above the village, you know you’re in for a treat. Zermatt fully deserves its status as one of the world’s best winter resorts, which has ski slopes that fully cater for all abilities, a traditional village, some of the world’s best altitude dining and good nightlife.

One thing that the skier will not be short of in Zermatt and that is plenty of ski runs, the Matterhorn Ski Paradise is vast, with just over 300km of pistes, including Europe’s highest run. It incorporates a glacier and accesses Cervinia in Italy, offering skiers of every level acres of terrain.

As a high class international resort, Zermatt has many hotels, restaurants and shops but it is not cheap but the standards are incredibly high.  This includes the mountain restaurants too, which are some of the best in the Alps. Lower cost accommodation and eating is in shorter supply but there is some although it requires searching as well as a good knowledge of the resort.

Perhaps amongst its biggest pluses for a top ski holiday is the sheer charm of Zermatt. The town retains a special something in the way that it is laid out and the fact that it is traffic free, with only small electric vehicles and horse drawn carriages allowed.

Flights to the resort are to Geneva and the transfer is about three hours, tour operators and ski specialist fly from Belfast, Birmingham, Bristol, East Midlands, Edinburgh, Exeter, Glasgow, Isle of Man, Liverpool, London Gatwick, London Luton, London Southend, London Stansted, Manchester, Newcastle and Southampton.

Zermatt

Picture: David Martyn Hunt


Most cruise holidaymakers are polite and respectful but it only takes a minority to spoil what should be the holiday of a lifetime. Think before you act and take note of our handy tips on cruise travel etiquette.

•    Poolside loungers are “first come first served”. There is nothing more annoying than getting up early to relax by the pool and finding rows of vacant loungers “reserved” with towels over them.

•    Smoking is strictly regulated on cruise ships. If you smoke, make sure you familiarise yourself with the ship’s policies for the comfort and safety of those around you.

•    Be on time for dinner and for group sessions or appointments of any kind. A lengthy delay will impact on the enjoyment of other passengers as well as making it difficult for staff to do their job.

•    Mind your volume when talking in hallways. Cabin walls are not soundproof and standing outside doors chatting late at night will disturb other passengers. Keep it to a whisper or go back into a public area.

•    Dress well for dinner. Cruise ships have a reputation for formal evening attire and too much exposed flesh or casual clothing is not well received.

•    Finally, always observe tipping etiquette. The cruise ship staff will be there to look after you for your entire trip so it is worth looking after them if they do a good job.

Cruise Restaurant

Picture: Steve Douglas


Increasingly popular with British tourists Cancun can boast excellent winter sun; in fact year round sunshine makes it ideal for a vacation at any time of year. The temperature ranges from 20° to 30° C from October through to March and from 22° to 33° C from April to September.

You will never run out of things to do in Cancun such as a wide range of water sports, or try out the challenge on the championship golf courses if you feel you can, or alternatively why not take the family to one of Cancun’s world renowned eco-parks. Weddings are increasingly popular amongst the romantics; all the information is available to you through your online travel site.

Undoubtedly with the warm Caribbean water sports will delight all and even the most enthusiastic competitor will be amazed at the sheer variety of things that can be done. Some of the best scuba diving, snorkelling and sport fishing in the world are to found in these waters, why not charter your own sailboat with crew and equipment for an adventurous day out on the open sea or a romantic sunset cruise!

Adventure is readily available with organised tours, for al l the family with some of the longest zip lines in Latin America, go mountain biking, drive through the jungle in open top jeeps and swim in cool pools fun is there for the asking. But of course, if you prefer the lazy life, what better way could there be than to simply soak up the sun on white sandy beaches. When you have finished your day relax in true Mexican style with a varied choice of cuisine, with everything from downtown traditional Mexican restaurants to ultra-chic restaurants dotted alongside the Nichupte lagoon. Something for every taste all served up with a smile, what are you waiting for?

Cancun

Picture: Raj Taneja


The Italian Riviera is a beautiful stretch of Mediterranean coastline, set behind a mountain chain and stretches between the French Cote d’ Azur and Tuscany. The Riviera or to give it the correct name of Liguria, is one of the country’s smallest but most intriguing regions.

The beaches border naturally sparkling clear waters and the towns and villages stretching along it take one back to a time of old style pre-war vacations. This narrow arc of the Riviera is backed by the Maritime Alps and because of these it is well a sheltered strip of land with a mild microclimate and unquestionably the prettiest, most flower-filled stretch of Italian coast, in fact the western stretch is often named the Riviera di Fiore’s.

To the east of the coast lies the City of Genoa which in itself is an historic centre but the west is where most holiday makers will head for. Here you will find wide beaches, lush surroundings and a trip to Ventimiglia with its pebble beach and lively Friday market, is the place to head for if you want excellent for leather goods.

A visit to San Remo in the west is well worth it as it has a plethora of ancient and splendid 19th-century villas, whilst the gamblers can visit the casino dating from 1904 as well as a maze of a medieval old town.  Travel east now and you will find yourselves in olive country near the town of Imperia, while beyond lies Diano Marina with a long sandy beach and a cheerful summer buzz. Alassio offers a 3km sweep of sands dotted with deck chairs and beach umbrellas.

To get away from the beach scene a trip into Genoa will take you to one of the largest medieval old towns in Europe confirmed by a trip down Via Garibaldi, a 16th-century style street lined with magnificent town palaces, and as many of these are now banks, you can take a look inside and see some of the courtyards and frescoed lobbies.

No visit to this area would be complete without a trip into the delightful fishing village of Portofino, lying to the east of Genoa, where you will find that little has changed from the Sixties, then the haunt of Elizabeth Taylor, Ava Gardner and Frank Sinatra.

Flying to Genoa is the main option and both Ryanair and British Airways have a reasonable timetable, but driving down to the Italian Riviera is a good option too as a car here would give the opportunity to take in the whole coast and perhaps fit in Monte Carlo as well.

Italian Riviera

Picture: Matteo Bittanti


The troubles that are hitting most airlines today are seen in another airline announcing significant job losses as Flybe has announced plans to cut 500 jobs across the business, despite reporting a return to profit. The cuts are part of an effort to make £40m of savings this year and £45m in 2014-15. These latest cuts follow on from a workforce reduction of 490 in 2012-13, with a further 100 leaving in the first half of 2013-14.

Flybe is a successful regional carrier and operates a good network of internal UK flights as well as some European destinations. The airline has fleet of 96 aircraft with 28 belonging to Flybe Finland, with whom it has a joint venture with Finnish Air called Flybe Nordic and which began operating from 30 October 2011.

The airline is has clearly had problems and although it is a major carrier in Scotland through an agreement with Loganair it is now trying to focus on shoring up its core regional bases in Southampton, Manchester, Birmingham and the Channel Islands, having recently sold its Gatwick Airport runway slots to rival  EasyJet for £20m.

Flybe is vital in the effort to improve growth outside of London; it also plays an essential role offering important flights from regional airports to connect airlines and airports providing long haul destinations.

flybe

Picture: Antony


A new poll conducted by visa application help website IXPVisas.com has revealed the most expensive countries for expats to live compared to the UK. Japan comes top with 72% of expats saying that the cost of living in the Land of the Rising Sun was ‘higher’ or ‘much higher’ than the UK.

Other countries that made the list include France, Switzerland and Hong Kong. As many people who have travelled to Tokyo or Paris will confirm, although some items such as electronics and clothes are cheaper than in the UK, the cost of living, especially food and drink is often more expensive.

Here are the top ten most expensive countries for expats to live:

1.    Japan
2.    Switzerland
3.    Norway
4.    Singapore
5.    Hong Kong
6.    Australia
7.    France
8.    Angola
9.    Russia
10.    Brazil

The study also asked expats ‘Do you find yourself financially comfortable in your life abroad?’ 31% said yes, 46% said that they were reasonably comfortable and 23% said that they were struggling financially.

Although 23% of expats said that they were struggling financially, they also felt that it was expensive everywhere and that the prices were relative to circumstances.

Do you live abroad? Tell us your reaction to the poll and any experiences that you have about living abroad.

Tokyo Skyline

Tokyo, voted most expensive place to live by expats

Picture: Timo Nurmi


Richard Branson has always been one for “bucking the trend” but opening high street travel shops in the face of a trend of booking holidays online could be a bridge too far even for the entrepreneur. The company has announced that it plans to open 30 new concessions in top line shopping locations and malls across the UK next year.

The news is surprising when it has been shown by ABTA that 49% or nearly half of people used online booking for their holiday abroad last year. Although that has been somewhat countered by the fact that a large number around 62% said they had visited a travel agent or tour operator to book an overseas holiday in the last 12 months, it seems to contradict, but today many people take two or more holidays each year.

Young people prefer to use the services on the high street travel agent; 16-24 year olds booked at least one overseas holiday citing expertise and time saving as well as easy booking as reasons.

Recent research focussed on 500 town centres across Britain, it found that travel agents were among the hardest hit. Others that are suffering include jewellers, health food shops, sports goods shops, banks, computer games and clothing stores.

Virgin Holidays