Issue № 39 : Late January 2021

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

Hello from all at
GTO magazine!

Think positive, say tour operators!

The UK's specialist tour operators for groups are all sounding hopeful of international travel later this year, and are setting out their wares accordingly. Riviera Travel stresses it has taken customer safety very seriously with its best practice health standards.
Take an enticing wander through some of their destinations by viewing the richly  illustrated digital feature you can link to below. Travel Editions also offer a great variety of carefully tailored and original itineraries. We turn the spotlight on their specialist domestic tours with a royal theme, and you can link to our special digital feature about their European tour offer too.
Airedale's group holidays can meanwhile take you abroad, or perhaps find the exotic in our own country - such as their island-hopping tour of the Hebrides. Read more below.
We also report on Saga's plans for vaccinated-only cruise customers.
If you do leave these shores this year, you'll notice that the Duty Free allowance is back - and substantial! Find out more at the end of this newsletter. 

Unforgettable group holidays

If you’re planning to take your group away later this year, or in 2022, Riviera Travel are waiting to help you take care of all the details, including the required  health and safety practices, flexible booking options and their ‘happiness guarantee’. Covid-19 Cancellation and Curtailment Protection is included as standard, and they promise to ensure you have an unforgettable group holiday without compromise.
Find out more about the holidays on offer from this Which-recommended provider in our special enhanced digital feature.

View here >>

Grapevine Nuggets

Airedale feeling positive

There’s positive thinking about 2021 at Airedale Tours, celebrating its 35th anniversary. The specialist in holidays around the UK says its starting prices for this year include £339 per person for a 5-day holiday. Coach travel, half-board, and some single rooms without supplement are all included. There are also over 40 new tailor-made tour ideas for groups in the UK, Europe and beyond.

Find out more >>

In the footsteps of Royalty

The Crown TV version of our royal history may have led to thoughts of suitable visit opportunities, says tour operator Travel Editions. It offers a private tour of Windsor’s magnificent state apartments, the majestic Hampton Court, and opulent Buckingham Palace state rooms. Read more here, and view our special digital illustrated feature on their 2021 programme here.

London coach group goes nationwide

A new membership organisation for coach operators throughout the UK has been created from the body that was originally the London Tourist Coach Operators Association. The UK Coach Operators Association will represent those who operate coaches anywhere in the UK or into Europe.
Stephen Telling of Falcon Travel continues his role with LTCOA as UKCOA Chair.


Festival outlook for 2021

It's just been announced that Glastonbury is being cancelled again this year, and the Chelsea Flower Show (pictured) is now postponed to the autumn. But what about the other festivals currently planned for 2021? Read our online article for the latest news about several of the UK's most popular annual festivals and events.


Major Hardy exhibition next year

2022 will see the largest display of Thomas Hardy memorabilia ever displayed at one time. This major exhibition will run from 28th May to 30th October 2022 across four venues – Dorset Museum, Poole Museum, The Salisbury Museum and Wiltshire Museum. Highlights include artwork by Hardy, and letters, clothing and personal possessions of the writer.

Read more >> 

Vaccine only to travel with Saga

Over-50s holiday specialist Saga has announced it will require all customers travelling on holidays and cruises in 2021 to be fully vaccinated against Covid-19. It is the first UK tour operator to do so, following research that has shown that more than 95% of their customers approve of the rule. Its holiday programme has been deferred to 1st May to allow time for this.


Tourism industry news

One of the results of Brexit has been the reintroduction of duty free allowances to and from Europe. The government has also taken the opportunity to increase the amount that passengers can bring back with them from non-EU Countries - and applied this to all overseas trips, including the EU ones. According to the government, this is one of the most generous allowances anywhere in the world, it includes up to 18 litres of wine and 42 litres of beer (three crates!). Might this bring the return of the booze cruise?!


Incoming travel association UKinbound  Chief Executive Joss Croft (left in picture above) has written to the Chancellor Rishi Sunak urging him to offer a support package for the sector in the March Budget. It is the latest in an ongoing campaign by UKinbound to get the problems being experienced by tour operators and destination management companies (DMCs) that have not received the same level of support as other sectors, and continue to be excluded from business rate and grant support schemes as they struggle with the lockdown.


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