Issue № 40 : Early February 2021

Ideas and opportunities for group travel buyers. Brought to you by the team behind GTO magazine, the authoritative source of group travel knowledge.

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Great British attractions are itching to welcome groups again

Fingers crossed, we're on course for this year to be a good time to explore the incredibly rich heritage and varied landscapes and character of our own country. That obviously depends on the pandemic restrictions being lifted soon on travel - at least domestically. The Government has set February 22nd for an announcement of the "road map" of how we can come out of the current lockdown, and that, in turn, depends on how we are coping with the new variants of the virus. But there is the good news of the amazing roll out of the vaccination programme.
Places like Stonor Park and Waddesdon featured below are simply itching to welcome back groups - and provide exceptional visit experiences for those who may not have discovered them before. With of course all the necessary Covid-19 health precautions.
Indeed, the whole of the tourism sector is hoping that this summer would be a time to enjoy a new freedom to get out and about again.

Farewell to a score of cruise ships

The effective lockdown on cruising brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic has meant that many of the cruise lines have decided to take the unwelcome but unavoidable step of selling off older vessels for scrap.

It means that some much-loved ships (like the Marco Polo, above, which was with CMV) will be sailing no more, and the fleet that will be providing future cruises will be significantly different from that which operated up until last year.
We thought you'd be interested in a round up of which of your old friends from previous cruises have made their last trips.

Read more on the GTO website >>

Grapevine Nuggets

Stonor set to welcome groups again

Home to the Stonor family for 850 years, Stonor Park near Henley is one of the oldest family homes still lived in. Architecturally fascinating, it has a fine collection of art and artefacts and stunning 15th-century gardens. An exhibition shows the hiding place of St Edmund Campion, who took refuge here during the Reformation. Welcoming visitors for over 40 years, Stonor is looking forward to opening to groups again soon. 

Find out more >>

Waddesdon Manor is online hit

Despite 2020 being the year museums and heritage sites closed their doors, Waddesdon, the Rothschild House & Gardens in Buckinghamshire, received unprecedented levels of support from virtual visitors. A large number of foreign visitors to the website also enjoyed Waddesdon's online tours, lockdown diaries, garden walks and digital exhibitions.

Find out more >>

Royal Navy Air Day cancelled

The Royal Navy International Air Day (RNIAD) will now not take place this year as scheduled at RNAS Yeovilton, Somerset, on Saturday 10th July. The annual airshow, which welcomes over 35,000 visitors from across the UK and around the world, as well as international air crews, is a casualty of the ongoing uncertainty surrounding the pandemic and what government policy on large outdoor gatherings is likely to be by this summer.


New "buoy" band musical this autumn

If you enjoy sea shanties, you'll be interested in getting tickets for Fisherman's Friends: The Musical. This new show, based on the true story of the Cornish singing sensations, will premiere at Hall for Cornwall in Truro this Autumn for a limited season. 
The world premiere will reopen the venue after a period of closure for a multi-million-pound transformation.

Find out more >>

Virtual snowdrop festival

Marks Hall Estate in Essex has an annual display of tens of thousands of snowdrops, in many varieties, carpeting the 200-acre Arboretum. This usually draws the crowds in the winter months. This year the Arboretum Team will be staging the first and only Virtual Snowdrop Festival in the region - from Monday 8th to Sunday 21st February. Visitors can enjoy virtual walks, new information, and home-schooling activities.

Read more >> 

Cruise companies looking ahead

We've taken a look at what's on offer from late 2021 onwards with the major cruise operators. Read our round-up of cruise news from Riviera Travel, Oceania Cruises, Holland America Line, Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines and Saga. Turning a necessity into a virtue, many companies have introduced new small group tours, as well as new itineraries and new Coronavirus safety measures.


Coach industry news

A virtual parliamentary lobbying event was held on 10th February in support of the coach industry. Coach operators and their MPs were encouraged to attend to show support for the industry. The session was hosted by the coach sector’s political ally Emma Hardy, MP for Hull West and Hessle. Speakers included Paul Acklam of Acklams Coaches, Candice Mason of Masons Minibus and Coach Hire, and Jenna Rush of North East Coach Travel.


The Bonded Coach Holidays scheme (BCH) is to continue via an alliance with the Confederation of Passenger Transport (CPT) and ABTOT. ABTOT arrange financial protection solutions for tour operators trading in the UK and Ireland. This will ensure that CPT members can continue to protect their package holidays. ABTOT will take over administration of the scheme from CPT on 1st May this year. 


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