Colors: Yellow Color
Colors: Yellow Color

A surprise discovery has amazed and delighted tourism operators on the Great Barrier Reef. Huge colonies of pristine coral have been discovered in a lagoon system about 100km off the coast of the Whitsundays mainland, causing excitement amongst reef experts and tourists.

The significant discovery – there can be few greater discoveries than when someone unlocks one of the reef's 'hidden secrets' - took place last Saturday after Daydream Island's 'Living Reef' marine biologist Johnny Gaskell spotted a “deep blue circle” on Google maps and went to investigate.

Now, he hopes the coral – which includes huge colonies of Staghorn and Birdsnest corals that have been protected by the 20-metre deep lagoon – will help to recolonise other areas of coral on the reef. Mr Gaskell, who made the discovery with fellow divers Joe Egan and Richard Poustie, said the natural design of the deep lagoon had protected the delicate coral colonies within it.

“Inside the walls of this lagoon, which we estimate to be about 150 metres across and at least 20 metres deep, was extremely delicate but undamaged Staghorn and Birdsnest corals – huge colonies of it,” he said.

“This is extremely important for the ecology of the reef, as the healthy corals in the lagoon will play a big role during this year's coral spawning. Recolonisation to other areas will be the key to the ongoing resilience of the reef. The good news is, there is still so much colour and beauty out there.”

Tourism Whitsundays Sales & Marketing Manager Tash Wheeler said the discovery was very exciting and tourists could help in the reef's ongoing protection by visiting it.

“Everyone who visits the reef with a commercial tourism operator contributes to sustaining the reef through an Environmental Management Charge (EMC), which is included in the ticket price,” she said.

“The funds the Australian Government receives from the EMC are vitally important in the day-to-day management of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park and in improving its long-term resilience.

“As well, our tourism industry is committed to responsible practices and actively participates in programs to protect the reef's health. As a region, we are 100% committed to delivering a premium Great Barrier Reef experience to our visitors, both on and under the water, as well as from above, including flying over the iconic Heart Reef, only visible in the Whitsundays.

“So what are you waiting for - come and explore the Great Barrier Reef in the Whitsundays and see what you can find!”

There’s a chill in the air, the trees are about to shed their summer guise and the schools are back. Yes, summer might be over, but Kent has plenty of reasons to swap the end of season blues for the vibrant reds and bright oranges of autumn.

With Kent just a short ride on the train from London with Southeastern Railway, it’s the perfect place to head to for an autumnal adventure. So, grab hold of that pumpkin-spiced latte and read on to discover Visit Kent’s top five reasons to fall head over heels for the Garden of England this season…

  1. Hopping Harvest
There’s a reason people call Kent the Garden of England and with an autumn ripe with events and festivals celebrating our bountiful local produce, it’s no wonder why. Make sure to savour the date as the Kent Green Hop Beer Festival returns from 22nd September to 8th October, with scores of opportunities to taste newly released beers made from just-harvested hops produced by over 30 of Kent's finest brewers - sample some of them at the Canterbury Food & Drink Festival. Meanwhile, budding sommeliers should head to one of the county’s spectacular vineyards and indulge in a tour and tasting during the harvest season. Chapel Down, Biddenden Vineyards, Hush Heath Estate and recently opened Gusbourne Estate each offer unique opportunities for self-guided or guided tours and tastings.
  1. Auburn Autumn
Whilst summer in Kent is awash with blue skies and turquoise seas, autumn is a riot of reds, golds and burnt ambers. Make a date with any National Trust site in Kent this month and you are sure to see a gorgeous garden or two, but for a real vibrant visit, the 770 acres of woodland at Scotney Castle and rolling Wealden views at Emmetts Garden are a particularly stunning sight. And if you’re visiting Scotney Castle between 21st October and 12th November, be sure to join in with one of their autumn colour walk events, taking place daily.
  1. Leaf-crunching walks
Whether you want to admire the leaves as they turn from green to auburn or kick through them as they fall, we guarantee a Kentish woodland wander will leave you in awe, whatever your age! For orchard views and a taste of the harvest, stroll the ‘land for all seasons’ walk through Perry Woods near Faversham. Alternatively, why not take an amble past the dawn redwoods and swamp cypress of Bedgebury Pinetum in Goudhurst for a classic autumn adventure? No matter what pace you’re looking to set, lace up those walking boots and breathe in the fresh Kent air on a ramble this season.
  1. Back to school
The new school term doesn’t need to be filled with textbooks and boredom. September is a great excuse to get outside and uncover our county’s rich history. Whether it’s learning about the courage of the famous “Few” who fought in the skies above us at the Battle of Britain Memorial, or discovering 400 years of innovation and Naval craftsmanship at the Historic Dockyard Chatham, education isn’t just for inside the classroom!
  1. Coffees and cafes
Grab a book, order that warming hot chocolate (with all the trimmings!) and sink into a cosy Kentish café this season. Enjoy a whole bean coffee and a hearty breakfast at Dame Kelly Holmes’ Café 1809 in Hildenborough. Alternatively, kick back, relax and enjoy a delicious afternoon tea at the Dover Marina Hotel and Spa, complete with panoramic views across the windswept Dover beach for added cosiness.

The 1st International Conference of Religious and Pilgrimage Tourism "Following in the Footsteps of Saint Pope John Paul II” will take place in Krakow between 8th and 12th November 2017. Professor Jacek Majchrowski, the President of Krakow, invites everyone to attend. The City of Krakow has been designated as the official partner of the Conference, His Eminence Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz has confirmed that he will be attending and Mr Jacek Krupa, the Marshal of the Malopolska Region has assumed the honorary patronage over the Conference. We will keep everyone informed about any new partners or honorary patrons, of which there surely will be more.

The city of Krakow and the whole Malopolska Region have great potential as a religious tourism and pilgrimage destination. Each year, millions of pilgrims and religious tourists, visit the area, an example of this is the most recent World Youth Day, which was held here in Krakow in 2016. This influx of visitors has great bearing on the city's and region's income as well as boosting employment in the area.

"We think there is a niche and a need to organise this new event in Krakow, a unique meeting of specialists from the religious and pilgrimage tourism sector", says Ernest Miroslaw, an organizer of the Conference and the owner of a local incoming tour operator Ernesto Travel, a leading agency specialising in religious tourism. "At this time, there is no similar event held in Central or Eastern Europe. I think it will be a perfect preparative event prior to the UNWTO 2018 conference, dedicated to religious tourism, which will also be held in Krakow. We have participated in many similar conventions and conferences but this time hope to welcome several hundred delegates in this field to Krakow and the Malopolska Region which will include specialists, tour operators, travel agents, priests and others that operate in the religious and pilgrimage tourism sector", says Dominika Krzych from Ernesto Travel, a sponsor of the Conference.

The Conference will be opened on 9th November, by both the administrative and the clerical dignitaries of Krakow. The opening Holy Mass will be celebrated at the John Paul II Centre and will be followed by speeches, lectures and a workshop with representatives of local sanctuaries and tourist attractions. The 10th and 11th November will be an opportunity for the guests from around the world to visit locations in Krakow and the Malopolska Region including Krakow Old Town, the John Paul II Centre, the Divine Mercy Sanctuary, the Salt Mine in Wieliczka, the former German Nazi Concentration Camp Auschwitz-Birkenau, the church and museum in Wadowice (Karol Wojtyla's birthplace), the Basilica in Kalwaria Zebrzydowska and, of course, the Black Madonna Sanctuary in Czestochowa.

The Conference aims not just to create the opportunity for tour operators to meet local suppliers but also to promote the city of Krakow and the Malopolska Region as an important religious and pilgrimage tourist destination, not only in Europe but worldwide, and to ultimately strengthen the importance of religious tourism within the tourist marketplace.

The organisers hope to welcome all foreign travel agents and tour operators, bloggers and journalists, bishops and priests as well as other religious and pilgrimage tourism organisers such as diocesan coordinators or the leaders of foundations and congregations.

British Airways has announced that it will be resuming scheduled flights to Seychelles as from March 2018.

The United Kingdom’s flag carrier, also one of the world’s leading scheduled international passenger airlines, will launch direct flights to Seychelles as of March 24, 2018.

British Airways will be resuming flights to Seychelles, after over a decade of not flying to the Indian Ocean island destination. It will operate non-stop twice-weekly flights from the London Heathrow airport to Seychelles from March to October, offering more choice to sun-seeking holidaymakers.

The flights will depart Heathrow’s Terminal 5 on Wednesdays and Saturdays and will be operated by the airline’s newest fleet of aircraft, the Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner. The return flights to Heathrow will be on Thursdays and Sundays.

The British carrier says the route timetable is perfectly positioned for honeymooners and holidaymakers keen on extending their break in the Seychelles.

“The Seychelles is one of the most beautiful places on earth and we’re delighted to be adding this collection of islands to our extensive route network,” said British Airways’ Director of Network and Alliances, Sean Doyle.

“Customers can now get into ‘holiday mode’ even earlier with British Airways’ direct flights from London taking 10 hours, instead of over 13 hours with a connection in the Middle East. As one of the leading luxury holiday destinations, the Seychelles offers customers a wide range of accommodation and activities in stunning natural surroundings,” he added.

British Airways will become the only airline offering non-stop service between Seychelles and the UK, which is an important market for Seychelles. Visitor arrivals from the UK & Ireland, which is currently the Seychelles’ fifth largest market, stands at 15,427 to-date for 2017, representing a 22 percent increase over last year.

The Seychelles authorities including the Seychelles High Commissioner in the UK, Derick Ally, and the Seychelles Tourism Board through its Chief Executive Sherin Francis and the STB UK office as well as the Tourism, Civil Aviation, Ports and Marine Ministry through Minister Maurice Loustau-Lalanne, have been instrumental in securing British Airways’ engagement to resume flights to Seychelles.

Welcoming Tuesday’s announcement, Minister Loustau-Lalanne said this is the best news for the Seychelles’ tourism industry both for its short term and long-term viability.

“We were all devastated when British Airways pulled out in 2004. The return of British Airways to the Seychelles with two non-stop flights from London Heathrow in 2018 will provide a boost, especially to our 5 Star establishments. It will also help to further develop our USA market and elsewhere,” Minister Loustau-Lalanne added.

For her part, Mrs. Francis said: “We were all delighted to learn a few months ago that Seychelles was finally on the planning chart of British Airways amongst a handful of other destinations that were being considered. Seychelles has in the past years at every given opportunity expressed its interest to see British Airways serving the destination again and the invitation were even extended from the highest office in Seychelles. We are happy that this long-awaited day has arrived. The UK is a very important market for Seychelles and the team at British Airways can count on our support for this route.”

To avoid possible legal action and meet the demands laid out by the regulator Ryanair has options on offering its passengers affected by planned flight disruption to compensate them by paying for their hotel fees, amongst other forced costs that it caused.

During the budget airline's wave of cancellations it offered affected passengers a £40 voucher per cancelled flight as a way to say sorry.

Ryanair was forced by the CAA to clarify that passengers affected who previously "may have chosen an option that was not suitable for them as a result of any misunderstanding of their EU261 rights" were entitled to change their mind, for example by opting for a flight on another airline instead of a refund.

Ryanair said it had taken on more extra staff to process the expected increase in customer claims. The Civil Aviation Authority said Ryanair had "capitulated."

CAA boss Andrew Haines said that he was "furious" the airline had not been complying with the law by failing to offer to re-route passengers on rival airlines.

He confirmed that Ryanair had contacted the aviation watchdog and said; "Our job is to protect passengers' rights and ensure that all airlines operating in the UK are fully compliant with important consumer laws.”

If no Ryanair flight was available to get customers to their ticketed destination, customers can now opt for a comparable flight on Easyjet, Jet2, Vueling, Cityjet, Aer Lingus, Norwegian or Eurowings, the airline clarified.

Ryanair's Kenny Jacobs said: "We are committed to processing all such claims within 21 days of receipt and hope to have all such claims settled before the end of October."

Ryanair cancelled up to 50 flights a day through to the end of October, affecting 315,000 passengers.

Ambassador Maurice Loustau-Lalanne, the Seychelles’ Minister of Tourism, Civil Aviation, Ports and Marine and Dr. Li Jinzao, the Chairman of the China National Tourism Administration (CNTA), have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on tourism cooperation.

The MoU was signed on Monday 11th September 2017, in the margins of the 22nd General Assembly of the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), which is being held in Chengdu, China. The 11th -16th September gathering is being held under the theme Tourism and the Sustainable Development Goals – Journey to 2030.

Also present at the signing ceremony were Mrs. Anne Lafortune, the Principal Secretary for Tourism, Ms. Vivianne Fock-Tave, Seychelles’ resident Ambassador in China and Mr. Jean-Luc Lai-Lam, the Seychelles Tourism Board Director for China.

During the meeting with his Chinese counterpart, Minister Loustau-Lalanne said the conclusion of the agreement was a positive step forward and showcases the willingness of the Seychelles and Chinese governments to renew their partnership and deepen the people to people ties in the tourism sector.

The objective of the MoU is to provide a broad framework for cooperation in the tourism sector through tourism and data exchange, support for marketing and promotion programs, training programs, exchange on tourism product development and collaboration between tourism associations.

Minister Loustau-Lalanne said: “The Chinese market is becoming more important for Seychelles. Since we would like our Chinese visitors to feel at home away from home, we would like to welcome Chinese investors to develop tourism related services that will benefit both the Chinese and other visitors. Furthermore, since we have a Bilateral Air Service Agreement in place between our two countries, we would like to see Chinese airlines flying to Seychelles in order to improve air links between our two countries.”

For his part, the head of the China National Tourism Administration, Dr. Li Jinzao expressed the willingness of China to enhance the cooperation with Seychelles in the field of tourism and emphasized on the uniqueness of Seychelles as a dream destination for the Chinese tourists.

“Seychelles has been playing an important and dynamic role in advocating the importance of sustainable tourism for Small Island Developing States. The country’s sustainable tourism policies are inspirational to other countries,” said Dr. Li.

To note that in 2011 when STB decided to tap into the Chinese market, visitor arrivals from China stood at only around 500 annually. In just under five years this figure had grown to over 15,000 in 2016, ranking China as the 6th country contributing the most tourists to the Seychelles.

This achievement has been part and parcel of the continuous success of the country’s sustainable policies that have resulted in numerous accolades. With Seychelles topping the list of 180 countries for best quality of air on the planet, according to the Environmental Performance Index (EPI) 2016 report, the island destination has attracted many Chinese visitors through focused related marketing campaign.