Colors: Yellow Color
Colors: Yellow Color

Building on a landmark year in 2016, Cologne Bonn Airport delivered its best-ever year in terms of throughput in the airport’s history, concluding 2017 with new all-time records for both passenger traffic and cargo. As a result, 2017 becomes the fourth consecutive year that both passenger and cargo traffic has grown.

Handling 500,000 extra passengers in 2017 than in the previous year, Cologne Bonn produced a solid 4% passenger traffic growth, resulting in a total of 12.4 million passengers using the airport in 2017. Over one million passengers per month used the facility during April to October last year – the first time the airport has ever achieved this feat. Air freight also developed positively in 2017 ‒ processing 840,000 tons and representing a 7% increase ‒ another highpoint for Germany’s third-largest cargo airport.

With A319s being the most frequently-used passenger aircraft to be operated at the German airport (28,700 movements), and the 767-300 being the most-popular cargo aircraft (5,700 movements), Terminal 1’s boarding gate C20 saw the highest passenger use throughout 2017. Last year the airport was linked to 142 destinations in 48 countries, with Cape Town (9,465km) being the furthest network point with regular operations, while Leipzig-Halle (359km) was the closest destination served. Berlin Tegel ended the year as the most popular destination, with over 1.2 million passengers flying the busy domestic sector over the past 12 months.

The growth driver in passenger traffic in 2017 was above all Eurowings. Lufthansa’s in-house low-cost long-haul airline has added new destinations such as Cape Town and Windhoek, southern African cities which are only served out of Cologne Bonn in the North Rhine-Westphalia region. Eurowings has also expanded its range of domestic routes from the airport with extra services to Berlin and Hamburg, as well as a new route to Munich being added. Despite the bankruptcy of airberlin in October, which operated to Berlin Tegel and Munich from Cologne Bonn, the airport still managed to produce a passenger increase of 3% in Q4 of 2017.

Qatar Airways Group published its Sustainability Report 2016-17, providing a comprehensive review of the Group’s extensive commitment to environmental sustainability.

The airline demonstrated constant and rapid growth during 2016-17, with 14 per cent more passenger and cargo flights carrying significantly more passengers, adding 10 new routes to its global network, and growing its fleet from 182 to 196 aircraft in the 12 month period ending 31 March 2017. Hamad International Airport exhibited similar growth in 2016-17, serving 38.2 million passengers, managing 250,419 aircraft movements and handling 1.8 million tonnes of cargo.

Alongside this tremendous growth, through commitment to its environmental policy and objectives, Qatar Airways Group has demonstrated improvement in environmental performance across its business interests, including airline and airport operations, catering services, retail outlets and hotels.

Notably, Qatar Airways has continued to improve how efficiently it uses aviation fuel, making airline operations 2.5 per cent more carbon efficient than the previous year, building on the considerable efficiency gains reported in 2015-16. The airline’s ongoing fuel optimisation programme focuses on reducing weight, route optimisation, aircraft operations on the ground and technical performance.

During this period the airport achieved an 11.9 per cent improvement in carbon efficiency per passenger when compared to the previous year. It also became the first airport in the Gulf Co-operation Council to achieve Level 3 of Airports Council International’s carbon accreditation programme and set a new target to improve its carbon efficiency per passenger by 30 per cent before 2030.

Qatar Airways Group Chief Executive, His Excellency Mr. Akbar Al Baker, said: “Our environmental performance demonstrates that Qatar Airways takes its leadership role in the international aviation community very seriously. We lead by example in environmental matters, particularly the management of our carbon emissions and the protection of wildlife and endangered species. As a global airline serving more than 150 destinations on six continents, every corner of the globe is important to us. We are committed to our own sustainability journey as well as to contributing to the aviation industry’s target of carbon-neutral growth from 2020.”

The Sustainability Report provides many other examples of Qatar Airways Group’s environmental commitments in managing network growth, airport operations, waste management, water conservation, and protecting endangered wildlife. For example, Qatar Airways Group continues its dedication to the global fight against the illegal trade in endangered wildlife, and this year it developed plans to improve detection within its cargo and passenger network. Qatar Airways Group continues to collaborate with its peers, international bodies and regulatory authorities to tackle this important issue at the industry level.

The report outlines Qatar Airways Group‘s plans for environmental improvement to ensure sustainable growth across its operations. It reveals how the careful implementation of the principles and the processes of its environmental management systems throughout the Group is embedding a culture of environmental responsibility amongst its workforce. This is paramount as the airline continues its robust growth trajectory.

Aspiring super-spies can taste life in the fast lane at Layan Residences by Anantara in Phuket, as the tropical retreat launches a budget-blowing experience inspired by James Bond movie The Man with the Golden Gun. From flying-in by private jet to handling the original golden gun from the 1974 film, this no-expense-spared escape is packed with thrilling VIP experiences.

The adventure kicks off in fabulous style as guests board a private jet from Bangkok to Phuket, before being whisked by chauffeur-driven limo to Villa Similan – the largest of the resort's 15 ultra-luxurious residences. Perched high on a hill with ocean and jungle views, this lavish eight-bedroom property oozes suave sophistication and comes with a live-in butler and an on-call private chef and spa therapist.

Featuring a chic indoor-outdoor design with freestanding bedrooms and living spaces, the villa has an elevated roof terrace, 22-metre infinity pool and massage room. A glass-clad wine room leads to the pièce de résistance: a 007-esque 'man cave' complete with leather sofas, an antique carved billiards table and 'the' legendary golden gun.

Used by the film's villain Francisco Scaramanga, the custom-built pistol famously consisted of several innocuous golden objects – a cufflink (trigger), gas lighter (bullet chamber), fountain pen (barrel) and cigarette case (handle) – so that it could be easily smuggled. Guests have the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to handle this fabled weapon during a wine tasting with Anantara's wine guru, before retiring to the terrace for a specially prepared dinner.

This extravagant experience also includes a glamorous yacht cruise around Phang Nga Bay, where The Man with the Golden Gun was filmed, during which guests can sip free-flowing Krug champagne and tuck into a gourmet barbecue prepared by the onboard private chef. Scattered with mangrove-cloaked limestone karsts jutting dramatically out of the emerald water, the spectacular bay's most famous rock, 'James Bond Island', played a starring role in the movie as Scaramanga's hideout.

Back at the villa, guests can develop their Ninja skills with a private Muay Thai boxing lesson. They can then soak up the views over the Andaman Sea as their butler serves 007's signature dry Martini cocktail (shaken, not stirred) before heading to the cinema room for a private viewing of vintage James Bond films, reliving the iconic secret service agent's escapades as he outwits nemeses around the world.

When they're not exploring or unwinding in the villa, guests can enjoy the facilities at the main resort. In addition to a pampering spa, Anantara Layan Phuket offers a range of acclaimed dining options including Thai restaurant Dee Plee and a rooftop pop-up of the award-winning contemporary Japanese eatery Zuma which runs until 15 March 2018.

The Maldives has announced an 18.7% increase in UK visitor arrivals during November 2017, when compared with the same month in 2016. In total, 9,579 UK visitors travelled to the Maldives during November 2017, compared with 8,073 in November 2016.

Furthermore, UK visitors represented 7.9% of all visitors to the Maldives in November 2017, with a total of 94,258 UK visitors travelling to the Maldives in the first 11 months of 2017, a 1.1% year-on-year increase.

With regards to worldwide arrivals to the Maldives, the island nation witnessed a year-on-year growth of 15.2% in November 2017, with 120,506 international tourists visiting the Maldives during November 2017. The total number of arrivals to the Maldives in 2017 stood at 1,246,502 by the end of November and when compared with the same period in 2016, total tourist arrivals have increased by 6.8%.

To support the increasing demand for tourism in the Maldives, the country will welcome several new tourism developments during 2018, including expansion plans at the recently rebranded Velana International Airport and the opening of the China-Maldives Friendship Bridge in July 2018. There are also expansion plans of the health services in the Maldives, providing world-class medical care to both the community and the tourism industry for 2018, as well as further developments taking place at the new Youth City, providing accommodation and employment for future generations on Hulhumalé, an island adjacent to the capital city.

Speaking at a recent press conference, His Excellency Mohamed Anil, Attorney General, said, “This is a very exciting time for the Maldives with a number of key infrastructure developments taking place during 2018 and beyond, which will benefit both tourists and the local community. Our tourism industry is continuing to expand and with 10 new hotel resorts opening during the next few years, we look forward to being able to accommodate even more visitors from overseas.”

Environmental charges at Heathrow are set to increase by 7% as the airport seeks to minimise its impact on local communities. From 1st January 2018, airlines will be incentivized to deploy their newest aircraft at Heathrow – making the airport cleaner and quieter for our local communities.

The introduction of the higher environmental charge forms part of Heathrow’s ambitious sustainability strategy Heathrow 2.0 which sets targets to deliver a more sustainable future for aviation. It includes an aspiration to make growth from a new runway at Heathrow carbon neutral, and the use of 100% renewable electricity at the airport from 2017 in a major step toward creating a zero-carbon airport. It also proposes establishing an airside ultra-low emission zone by 2025, to improve quality of life of local communities through cleaner air.

With new public transport like Crossrail, HS2 and rail links to the west and south on the horizon – the way people travel to Heathrow is also set to be transformed, helping the airport to reach its goal of 50% of passengers travelling by sustainable transport by 2030. Heathrow has also recently made a significant investment in electric vehicles and charging points at the airport as well as unveiling a new scheme to encourage colleagues to purchase low-emission vehicles. All of these measures combined will help the airport tackle emissions at the airport.

Heathrow CEO John Holland-Kaye said:

“Heathrow is determined to reduce the airport’s environmental impacts. Increasing our environmental charges to incentivise airlines to bring their cleanest, quietest aircraft to Heathrow is the best way to cut emissions and shrink the noise footprint around the airport. It is a tangible step that will make a real difference to local communities.”

For one more year, FITUR will gather in Madrid the latest proposals and destinations of the world tourism industry, with a focus on sustainability and new technologies as the axis of transformation of the tourism sector. The show, organized by IFEMA from January 17 to 21 at Feria de Madrid, will once again be the international reference trade show for receptive and outgoing markets in Spain, Latin America, and the world.

Around 10,000 companies from 165 countries will showcase their proposals in an edition that will have India as a FITUR partner. As important components of the event, the new special section of the show, FITUR Festivales, will showcase the novelties of festivals as a touristic attraction. Also, FITUR will showcase the latest in 5G for tourism – it was selected for the launch of the first 5G digital innovation laboratory applied to the tourism and exhibition sector, promoted by IFEMA and 5TONIC, an entity founded by TELEFÓNICA, IMDEA Networks Institute, with ERICSSON as an additional member.

This has been a challenging year for Caribbean tourism. While the first half of the year saw exciting growth in both tourism infrastructure and tourist arrivals over the previous year, in September we were hit hard by a series of unusual hurricanes that not only destroyed property, but also took the lives of many of our citizens. We must never forget the souls we lost along the way.

Physically, we will recover. Our Caribbean people are a resilient population. We will put the bricks and mortar back together and the hotels and vegetation will rise again and shine in the brilliant sunlight.

We take this time, a season of celebration and joy and the promise of a new beginning, to both reflect on the preceding year and look forward to tomorrow. And we will take the time to give thanks.

Travelers coming to the countries that were impacted by the storms will now see various stages of the rebuild/recover effort. Some are already fully up to speed and ready for the winter; others, only partially so. Our affected islands respect the safety and security of guests and staff and are therefore being frank and open about their state of readiness.

As tourism is the main economic driver for most of the Caribbean, we place enormous emphasis on delivering value and a superb visitor experience. In the hurricane-affected islands guests in 2018 and beyond will expect to see a product that is rebuilt stronger, better and even more attractive than before. That’s the plan, however long it takes to deliver.

We are thankful that the vast majority of the Caribbean never got touched by the hurricanes, so those islands have continued to welcome visitors every day. For them it’s business as usual. We are grateful to the travel professionals, the many visitors and our citizens themselves who continue to share images of the Caribbean today. Those pictures tell a thousand realities.

We want to use this time to thank our member countries that were quick to come to the aid of others not so fortunate. We want to thank our partners, the Caribbean Hotel & Tourism Association, the airlines, cruise lines and the hotels across the region that have worked and are still working to bring the Caribbean back to normal operations. We want to thank our marketing and sales partners, the tour operators, wholesalers and travel agents from around the world who have stood by the region and continue to promote and sell our destinations. And we want to thank the media that have, for the most part, painted a proper picture of our region that is clearly open for business. Through it all, we are also eternally grateful to our visitors and to the Caribbean Diaspora who stand shoulder to shoulder with our region in times of need.

Even as we prepare to greet a New Year let us take a moment to look back on a few of the successes of 2017.

Recently we embarked on a strategy to substantially enhance the Caribbean’s engagement in Canada, to develop business in non-traditional areas and work closely with our members’ representatives for maximum impact. New travel agent training and certification, increased use of targeted social media, enhanced deployment of the CTO’s data analysis tools, and more focused engagement with the Caribbean Diaspora were all components of the 2017 strategy for Canada. The Canadian market was a strong performer for most of 2017, with arrivals up by 6.4 percent. We can now look forward to more expansion of that market in 2018.

We also continued to focus on our two primary markets, the United States and Europe, with the UK, in particular, taking a central role. These markets were more robust in 2017 and we trust this will continue in 2018.

We realized too, that intra-Caribbean tourism, which has also been on the rise, would need our continuous attention, especially under the current circumstances where the task of educating the travelling public and removing the barriers to intra-Caribbean travel will continue to be a challenge.

At the start of the year we declared 2017 the Year of Adventure in the Caribbean and we capitalized on this in multiple promotions with member countries and industry partners. The Caribbean Year of Adventure linked directly with the United Nations Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development and allowed us to pair adventure with sustainability.

The year culminated with the World Tourism Organization holding its Global Conference on Jobs and Inclusive Growth, in Jamaica, followed by the CTO’s partnership with the Caribbean Development Bank to host the Climate Smart Sustainable Tourism Forum in St. Kitts.

For the New Year the CTO has declared 2018 The Year of Rejuvenation in the Caribbean. With wellness and rejuvenation being important aspects of the Caribbean tourism product, we are encouraging our member countries and private sector partners to plan and organize events and activities around that theme.

For travelers who focus on renewing body and spirit, the options are virtually endless; from beachfront workouts and yoga retreats, to wellness resorts and spa treatments, the notion of being rejuvenated in the Caribbean is one more reason to let us pamper you in 2018.

The 2018 Caribbean Year of Rejuvenation will be promoted through social media and traditional media channels and will create opportunities for locals, travelers and holiday/vacation planners to share their ideas on how to capture the Caribbean’s huge capacity for wellness and rejuvenation. It will be a time of rebirth for us and for those who come to share the joy of a Caribbean vacation experience.

We look forward to 2018 with optimism and excitement.

On behalf of our CTO Chairman, The Hon. Dionisio D’Aguilar, Bahamas Minister of Tourism, the CTO Council of Ministers and Commissioners of Tourism, the Board of Directors, Members and Staff of the CTO, I thank you for your continued support of our region, and I wish you and yours a safe, peaceful and prosperous New Year.

As suggested by LGBT Hawaii (www.lgbthawaii.com), the Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA) announced today that two research studies have been issued providing insight on the profiles, preferences and opinions of LGBT travelers from Japan and Taiwan, as it relates to visiting the Hawaiian Islands.

Commissioned by HTA’s Tourism Research Division, the studies were conducted by Community Marketing & Insights, a San Francisco-based firm specializing in LGBT consumer research. The two new studies complete a set of six studies that are the first ever done analyzing LGBT travel to the Hawaiian Islands by the State of Hawaii.

Earlier this year, four studies were issued evaluating LGBT travelers from the United States, Canada, Australia and China.

All six LGBT travel studies are posted online in the Reports Section under Target Lifestyle Segments of HTA’s website at www.HawaiiTourismAuthority.org.

Jennifer Chun, HTA Director of Tourism Research, said the studies on Japan and Taiwan provide valuable information from survey respondents in each country that Hawaii tourism industry partners can utilize to attract more LGBT travelers from these two markets.

“The studies’ findings reveal there is potential in Japan and Taiwan to reach a larger percentage of LGBT travelers from both markets,” said Chun. “Hawaii tourism partners can customize their marketing programs to make a vacation in the islands a more enticing option compared to other destinations in Asia that are currently drawing the bulk of LGBT travelers from Japan and Taiwan.

“Hawaii’s attributes are well-known to LGBT travelers from Japan, but the research indicates that special offers targeting this particular segment would be well-received and help allay concerns about Hawaii being a good value.

“Taiwan appears to be a budding LGBT travel market for Hawaii that can be developed through increased awareness about the offerings of the islands beyond our beautiful beaches. For example, Taiwan’s LGBT travelers enjoy excellence in cuisine and touring historic sites and landmarks, but they don’t yet associate these attributes with Hawaii.

“Furthermore, Taiwan’s survey respondents do not view Hawaii as an LGBT-friendly destination, which is not the case and a perception that can be changed by educating travelers about our longstanding legacy of diversity and acceptance of all people worldwide, regardless of their ethnicity, religious beliefs or sexual orientation.”

The Crystal Maze LIVE Experience London is receiving a game-changing upgrade for the new year.

Opening for visitors in January 2018, the Islington-based team challenge attraction will be unveiling version 2.0 of its Futuristic zone and introducing a new iconic game.

One of four frenetic game-play zones, the re-imagined Futuristic zone will be channelling its inner sci-fi with a brand new design. The updated Futuristic Zone will also play host to a brand spanking new challenge with an exciting new game full of twists and turns, sure to get players in a spin.

Based on the outrageously popular 90s TV show, The Crystal Maze LIVE Experience is now one of London’s top interactive theatre attractions. Teams of up to eight people are guided through the maze by an eccentric Maze Master.

The players will get the chance to don retro satin bomber jackets before entering the maze and dashing through the Medieval, Aztec, Industrial and Futuristic adventure zones.

Contestants have to complete a series of challenges that test their mental and physical abilities, all against the clock. The more challenges completed successfully, the more crystals the teams win and the more time they have for the final challenge, the iconic Crystal Dome.

In this ultimate challenge the team must work together to catch as many tokens as possible, a task made so much harder by the Dome’s super-strength fans. The amount of tokens caught determines the team’s final position on the leader board.

The updated Futuristic zone with its new game will open to visitors at The Crystal Maze LIVE Experience in London on 13th January 2018.

It has been a record year-to-date for inbound tourism to the UK, with growth set to continue in 2018 according to forecasts from national tourism agency VisitBritain.

Overseas visits to the UK are forecast to break through the 40 million mark for the first time in 2018, reaching 41.7 million, up 4.4% on 2017 which is expected to see 39.9 million visits.

Spending by overseas visitors to the UK is forecast to reach £26.9 billion in 2018, up 6.8% on 2017 which is expected to total £25.1 billion by year end.

VisitBritain Director Patricia Yates said: “Tourism is one of the UK's most valuable export industries. It is also a fiercely competitive global industry and these results not only demonstrate Britain’s continued ability to compete internationally for visitors, they are testament to tourism’s importance as a driver of economic growth.

“We are working with partners across the world to tell customers of experiences they can only have in Britain and encourage them to book a trip now. We have seen good growth this year from the US and China, and are developing new products that make it easier for overseas visitors to book and explore all of Britain.” VisitBritain promotes the UK internationally as a visitor destination as part of the UK Government’s global GREAT Britain campaign.

The UK was ranked third for tourism globally in the 2017 Anholt-GfK Nation Brands Index (NBI) published last month, equalling its highest rank ever and up two places from last year. The NBI considered attributes including historic buildings and monuments, having a vibrant city life and natural beauty.

When considering its overall brand, the UK ranked third out of 50 nations, a position it has held since 2011. Tourism is worth £127 billion to the UK economy, creating jobs and boosting economic growth across its nations and regions.

Qatar Airways kicked off an important year ahead in Russia for both the airline and the State of Qatar with the touchdown of its first daily direct flight to St. Petersburg on 19 December. 2018 will be a milestone year for Russian-Qatari relations as Qatar Airways sponsors the 2018 FIFA World Cup and the State of Qatar partners with Russia for the 2018 Year of Culture programme, delivered by Qatar Museums.

At a press conference in St. Petersburg today, Qatar Airways Group Chief Executive, His Excellency Mr. Akbar Al Baker, addressed Russian and international media at the Four Seasons Hotel, where he conveyed his vision for the airline in Russia and beyond.

“Touching down at Pulkovo International Airport for the first time yesterday was a significant moment for Qatar Airways. This inaugural flight represents so much more than just a new destination on our global network, it carries with it the weight of our hope and expectations for the future of our airline in Russia and the future of our countries’ ongoing friendship and partnership for generations to come.

“As the national carrier of the State of Qatar, we are proud to fly the flag for our country wherever we go. Our presence in Russia will only be strengthened by the launch of this new route as well as by our upcoming sponsorship of the 2018 FIFA World Cup and by the 2018 Qatar-Russia Year of Culture of which we are a huge supporter.”

H.E. Mr. Akbar Al Baker also used the press conference as platform to speak out about the illegal blockade against Qatar. He said: “It puts a lot of pressure on both the citizens and the operations of a country when you blockade it – this is unprecedented since St. Petersburg was put under siege during the Second World War. This blockade is illegal because the airspace is above a certain flight level and airspace on international waters does not belong to any country. It belongs to the international community.

“This is a bullying tactic by larger countries on our country to intimidate our political thinking, our freedom, our sovereignty and our independence. They will fail because in Qatar, the people are very proud, like people in St. Petersburg during the Second World War: you were not intimidated, you persevered and you won. And it is the same thing that is happening to us. We will win this blockade and we will make sure that our independence is very strong and our sovereignty is respected.”

Pulkovo Airport Chief Executive Officer, Mr. Vladimir Yakushev, who hosted the press conference alongside H.E. Mr. Al Baker, said: “Qatar Airways coming to St. Petersburg is a new historic step in the development of Pulkovo Airport and the city’s tourism industry, and is an event of key significance in the light of the approaching 2018 FIFA World Cup to be hosted in Russia.

“With the new daily flights to Doha, the Northern capital and the cultural pearl of Russia, has gained an excellent connection to one of the most modern and dynamic global cities and through it – to more than 150 destinations in Asia, Oceania, Africa and the Americas, on Qatar Airways’ worldwide network. We are confident that the new route will be much-in-demand among the residents of St. Petersburg and Northwest Russia, as well as international travellers planning to visit Russia with leisure and business purposes alike.

“Additionally, cooperation with Qatar Airways, as one the world’s largest carriers, whose fleet has the most modern aircraft of various types and configuration, will enable Pulkovo Airport to deepen its operational expertise as a leading hub in Russia and Northern Europe.”

The launch of this daily direct service to Russia’s cultural capital will increase the airline’s number of flights a week into the country to 28. Already operating to Moscow since 2003, Qatar Airways recently increased its service to the city from twice daily to three times daily to meet growing demand.

The recent relaxation in visa entry requirements for Russian nationals into Qatar has opened up this route to even more passengers wishing to experience Qatar Airways’ five-star service to more than 150 business and leisure destinations across the world.

St. Petersburg, Russia’s second largest city after Moscow with a population of more than five million as of 2017, is increasingly recognised for its contribution to the country’s growing economy as more businesses set up offices and headquarters here. The culturally diverse city is also famed for the treasures it houses in its numerous museums including the iconic Hermitage Museum, which attracts millions of visitors every year.

With more than 10 tonnes of belly hold cargo capacity per week to and from St. Petersburg on board the A320 aircraft, which serves this new route, Qatar Airways Cargo is delighted to be further expanding its import and export services in Russia. The launch of service to St. Petersburg has increased the overall belly hold cargo capacity to and from Russia, with more than 40 tonnes being transported each way per week.

Qatar Airways will operate its daily St. Petersburg service with an Airbus A320 aircraft, which features 12 flatbed seats in Business Class and 120 seats in Economy Class. Passengers will be able to enjoy the airline’s superior entertainment system offering passengers various entertainment options.

Qatar Airways has added many new exciting destinations to its network in 2017, including Auckland, New Zealand; Dublin, Republic of Ireland; Nice, France and Prague, Czech Republic, to name a few. The airline will continue its rapid expansion throughout 2018 by adding new destinations such as Canberra, Australia; Cardiff, United Kingdom; and Penang, Malaysia to its global route map.

The national carrier of the State of Qatar, Qatar Airways is one of the fastest-growing airlines operating one of the youngest fleets in the world. Now in its 20th year of operations, Qatar Airways has a modern fleet of more than 200 aircraft flying to business and leisure destinations across six continents.

The award-winning airline has received a number of accolades this year, including ‘Airline of the Year’ by the prestigious 2017 Skytrax World Airline Awards, which was held at the Paris Air Show. This is the fourth time that Qatar Airways has been given this global recognition as the world’s best airline. In addition to being voted Best Airline by travellers from around the world, Qatar’s national carrier also won a raft of other major awards at the ceremony, including ‘Best Airline in the Middle East,’ ‘World’s Best Business Class’ and ‘World’s Best First Class Airline Lounge.’

Holiday travelers are escaping to the Caribbean, with hotels in most destinations not impacted by this year's hurricanes reporting occupancies in excess of 90 percent over the holiday season.
"More than 70 percent of the Caribbean was not impacted by hurricanes Irma and Maria and travelers are discovering the incredible diversity of destinations and offerings throughout the region, as they explore its many vacation options," stated Frank Comito, CEO and Director General of the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association (CHTA).
CHTA canvassed a number of the region's destinations this week to see how they are faring for the holidays and into the first quarter of 2018. The results are encouraging, according to Comito, who reports that a sampling of the region's 32 holiday destinations all pointed to a surge in holiday bookings and most indicated that forward bookings into the first quarter of 2018 are equaling or surpassing 2017.
Several destinations reported that a number of their hotels anticipate being sold out over the Christmas and New Year's period. Antigua, Aruba, Barbados, Belize, Cancun, Cayman Islands, Curaçao, Dominican Republic, Grenada, Jamaica, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia and The Bahamas all reported strong bookings, and Comito expects that most of the other destinations which were unaffected by the storms are experiencing similar booking levels.
Turks and Caicos Islands, which was one of the first hurricane-impacted destinations to rebound, fully recovering and opening within weeks following the storms, is reporting occupancies in excess of 90 percent over the holidays and strong first quarter bookings.
Puerto Rico announced last week that it is open for business, with many of the hotels in the popular coastal stretch in and around San Juan up and running and thousands of restaurants now operating.
CHTA will be bringing Caribbean Travel Marketplace, the region's largest B2B marketing event, to Puerto Rico from January 30 to February 1, 2018.
Comito advised prospective travelers that there is still an opportunity to book a last minute quick escape to the region over the holidays, and into the first quarter. Travelers are encouraged to visit www.caribbeantravelupdate.com for information about those destinations and hotels which are welcoming visitors.
"Now is a perfect time to visit and support the Caribbean and to see for yourselves how the resilience of our people offers travelers from around the world an exceptional experience - especially during this winter season and beyond," said Comito.

Situated within the Arctic Circle in the upper Northwest corner of Canada, the Yukon is the ideal location for Aurora viewings. On 24 November 2017, in partnership with the Yukon Astronomical Society and Tourism Yukon, Air North's inaugural Northern Lights flight took off from the Yukon's capital city Whitehorse, to view the phenomenon from 36,000 feet. For the first time ever in Canada, 91 passengers on board the 'Yukon's Airline' flight experienced incredible Aurora viewings just nine minutes after take-off, which lasted for three hours. Watch the video here: Northern Lights Flight

You haven't experienced winter until you've tried a northern one Yukon aurora viewing combines just the right amount of excitement, inspiration and comfort. With next to no light pollution, the Yukon's dark star-filled skies provide the perfect backdrop for the aurora's magical dance. Part of the fun of visiting in winter is experiencing some distinctly northern activities. Travel through a frosty winter landscape in the back of a dogsled, or for more speed, try a snowmobile. Make the catch of the day on an ice fishing trip or strap on some snowshoes and wander through the boreal forest. And at the end of the day, retire to a cozy wilderness lodge or cabin and keep your eyes on the skies. Or stay in downtown Whitehorse with easy access to restaurants and entertainment, and head out each evening to a custom built aurora viewing facility.

Qatar Airways celebrated the start of its new direct non-stop service from Doha to Chiang Mai today at Chiang Mai International Airport, after its first flight was greeted with a traditional water cannon salute. The newly-launched seasonal service to Thailand’s second biggest city will operate a four times-weekly schedule from Doha, with a flight time of just over six hours.

The Qatari Minister of Transport and Communications, His Excellency Mr. Jassim bin Saif Ahmed Al-Sulaiti travelled on board the inaugural flight with Qatar Airways Group Chief Executive, His Excellency Mr. Akbar Al Baker, and the Thai Ambassador to the State of Qatar, His Excellency Mr. Soonthorn Chaiyindeepum. Upon arrival in Chiang Mai, the group was received by the Minister of Tourism and Sports, Thailand, His Excellency Mr. Weerasak Kowsurat; Chiang Mai Governor, Mr. Pawin Chamniprasart; Executive Vice President, General Manager of Chiang Mai International Airport, Squadron Leader Monthanik Rakngam; Governor of the Tourism Authority of Thailand, Mr. Yuthasak Supasorn and Deputy Governor for International Marketing Europe, Africa, Middle East and the Americas, Tourism Authority of Thailand, Mrs. Srisuda Wanapinyosak.

His Excellency Mr. Jassim bin Saif Ahmed Al Sulaiti, the Qatari Minister of Transport and Communications, said: “Today’s inaugural flight to historic Chiang Mai marks further growth in the already strong bonds between the State of Qatar and the Kingdom of Thailand. I am very proud that our national flag carrier, Qatar Airways, now flies to four beautiful destinations in Thailand and will soon add its fifth with Pattaya joining their global network in January. The increase in business, tourism and trade between our two nations that these flights support cannot be underestimated and it gives me great pleasure to celebrate with the people of Chiang Mai on this occasion.”

H.E. Mr. Akbar Al Baker said: “We are excited to be adding historic Chiang Mai as our fourth destination in Thailand to our extensive global route network. Thailand continues to grow in popularity with holiday-makers seeking to explore and relax in this beautiful country. The new route we have launched today reflects the increasing demand from our customers across our network for more high-quality leisure destinations, especially in the Far East.

“With the choice of four flights a week, passengers travelling from Chiang Mai are now connected seamlessly to more than 150 destinations, via our state-of-the-art hub in Doha. Next year we will add a fifth Thai destination to our network when we expand our services to include Pattaya, starting January 28, 2018.”

The Thai Ambassador to the State of Qatar, H.E. Mr. Soonthorn Chaiyindeepum said: “Qatar Airways' new direct service to wonderful Chiang Mai strengthens the deep and strong bonds of friendship that exist between the people of Qatar and Thailand. This new route will further enhance that relationship, connecting Chiang Mai to Qatar Airways’ extensive global network and helping to open up and develop new markets for business and leisure travellers from around the world.

“We look forward to welcoming business travellers and holiday-makers to beautiful Chiang Mai so they can experience authentic Thai hospitality and enjoy the history and beautiful and tranquil surroundings of Thailand’s second largest city. I would personally like to thank and congratulate Qatar Airways Group Chief Executive H.E. Mr. Akbar Al Baker for opening what I am certain will be a very popular and successful new seasonal service, and for bringing the world's best airline to Chiang Mai.”

Governor of the Tourism Authority of Thailand, Mr. Yuthasak Supasorn, said: “The commencement of Qatar Airways’ new services to Chiang Mai heralds the start of a new era of connectivity between Chiang Mai and Qatar, and the 150 destinations it serves through its global route network. I would like to thank Qatar Airways for launching this new four-times-a-week service, which will offer exciting new routes from our key markets in Europe, the United States and throughout the Middle East into Chiang Mai via Doha.

“This new route is proof that working with the right airlines on strategic campaigns to promote our country is crucial to attracting tourists to Thailand. We believe that together with Qatar Airways we can also grow demand from tourists looking to experience Chiang Mai’s unique and authentic culture, as well as increase prosperity for the region. Next year we look forward to deepening our ties with Qatar Airways when the airline adds a fifth Thai gateway to its route network with the start of flights from Doha to U-Tapao near Pattaya.”

General Manager of Chiang Mai International Airport, Squadron Leader Monthanik Rakngam, added: “We are delighted to welcome the world’s best airline, Qatar Airways, to Chiang Mai International Airport and look forward to working in partnership with the airline in the years to come. This new four times-weekly service provides a very important link for Chiang Mai to Qatar Airways network of flights to more than 150 global destinations.

“It also enhances Chiang Mai International Airport as a major gateway to Northern Thailand, which already welcomes over two million visitors a year from around the world to beautiful Chiang Mai. With our extensive range of services and facilities for visitors and major airlines, we believe Qatar Airways will play an important part to make Chiang Mai an increasingly popular tourist destination.”

Qatar Airways will operate the new four-times-a -week service to Chiang Mai with an Airbus A330-200 aircraft, which features 24 seats in Business Class and 236 seats in Economy Class. Passengers will be able to enjoy the airline’s superior entertainment system, offering up to 4,000 entertainment options. The seasonal service will operate from 12 December until May 2018, and will resume once again for the Winter 2018 season in October 2018.

As Thailand's second largest city, Chiang Mai is well known for its relaxed lifestyle and laid back attitude. It has a long and revered history going back to the medieval period, during which many of the city’s hundreds of ancient and beautiful temples were built. Many still remain and are popular destination for tourists, as are the nearby rainforest reserves, stunning mountain scenery and peaceful country villages. Chiang Mai has excellent hotels and restaurants with many international businesses relocating to the city to take advantage of its excellent infrastructure. Along with Qatar Airway’s new service from Chiang Mai to Doha, and codeshare flights with Bangkok Airways, the city enjoys direct international flight connections to all the major countries in the region, including Korea, China, Singapore, Malaysia and Myanmar.

Qatar Airways Cargo currently offers belly service on Bangkok and Phuket routes. With the introduction of passenger flights to Chiang Mai, the overall cargo capacity out of Thailand will increase to over 800 tonnes a week, supporting local businesses through the direct transit of goods, as well as exporting fresh fruits and vegetables from Northern Thailand. Qatar Airways’ expanding global network provides local businesses with extensive connectivity to markets in Europe and the Americas via Doha.

In the last four months, Qatar Airways has boosted its services with its ambitious expansion programme, which has seen destinations in Eastern Europe expanding to include Skopje, Prague, and Kyiv, as well as Adana in Turkey. It will be adding flights to many more exciting destinations in 2018, including Canberra, Australia; Cardiff, UK, and Pattaya as the airlines fifth gateway to Thailand, to name a few.

The national carrier of the State of Qatar is one of the fastest-growing airlines operating one of the youngest fleets in the world. Now in its 20th year of operations, Qatar Airways has a modern fleet of more than 200 aircraft flying to business and leisure destinations across six continents.

The award-winning airline has received a number of accolades this year, including ‘Airline of the Year’ by the prestigious 2017 Skytrax World Airline Awards, held at the Paris Air Show. This is the fourth time that Qatar Airways has been given this global recognition as the world’s best airline. In addition to being voted Best Airline by travellers from around the world, Qatar’s national carrier also won a raft of other major awards at the ceremony, including ‘Best Airline in the Middle East,’ ‘World’s Best Business Class’ and ‘World’s Best First Class Airline Lounge.’

Education is about far more than intellectual development. The British school system plays an invaluable role in progressing children both emotionally and socially, with the primary years in particular being crucial in preparing kids for the rest of their lives.

It is why certain figures within the education world are voicing criticism of those who set primary children homework to be completed during the holidays.

A primary school teacher from York said that she believes holiday homework can do more harm than good for a child’s overall development, and that holiday time can be productive without the need for school tasks.

She commented: “With the Christmas break coming up, many primary schools will be setting work to be completed at home, but doing so can create stress during a supposedly relaxing period.

“The children are worked hard enough during term time and holidays are supposed to be when they can just enjoy being young and have some fun. During the holidays, kids can spend more time with their friends, playing sports or spending time with family, and through these important formative years, such activities play a valuable role in helping a child grow up.

“Children can learn the value of teamwork and communication through sport, while learning social skills and developing maturity while at family gatherings. All these beneficial parts of life are shortened or even removed if homework is set for the holidays.”

New research by home education provider Oxford Home Schooling has investigated the issue of homework and found that more than one in ten primary school children (13%) are spending at least five hours on such tasks every week.

So, are primary schools placing too much pressure on young children?

According to the study, a third (33%) of primary school parents believe their kids are stressed about their exams, while two in five (40%) parents of pupils aged between five and eleven feel there is too much pressure on their children to perform academically.

Such figures are particularly concerning when compared to secondary school pupils, whose exam stress levels have been widely reported on recently, with the revised GCSE system. The research showed that 37% feel stressed about exams, while 46% of their parents feel they are too pressured – only slightly higher than much younger children.

Dr Nick Smith, Principal at Oxford Home Schooling, said: “It will be a shock to some to find out that almost as many primary school children are stressed by exams as secondary school pupils. Although school is a place for learning, in primary education it’s just as important to allow children to feel comfortable, so that they can learn more efficiently and effectively.

“The classroom itself can be a stressful setting for many, and that can stick with children for a long time. It’s therefore very important for parents and teachers to recognise when a child is stressed and find alternative ways of helping them cope. Home schooling can be one of the most effective ways of doing this.”

It has been a record-breaking year for Qatar Airways, as the airline has claimed more global awards than ever before in its 20th year of operations. Qatar’s national carrier has received more than 50 individual awards across multiple categories since January, demonstrating its continued commitment to exceeding passenger expectations with its innovative approach to product development and dedication to customer experience.

At a time when many airlines are scaling back and during a particularly challenging year, Qatar Airways continues to thrive, showcasing its best-in-class cabins, crew, catering, in-flight entertainment, on-board magazine, lounges and more. Notably, Qatar Airways Group Chief Executive, His Excellency Mr. Akbar Al Baker, received the ‘Aviation Executive of the Year’ award from industry body CAPA last month, highlighting his leadership and innovative direction in guiding the growth of the airline and the wider aviation industry as a whole.

Leading the host of awards received by the airline this year is the prestigious accolade of 2017 ‘Airline of the Year,’ awarded by international air transport rating organisation Skytrax. Known as ‘the Oscars of the aviation industry,’ Qatar Airways was also named ‘World’s Best Business Class,’ ‘Best Airline in the Middle East,’ and ‘World’s Best First Class Airline Lounge’ at the Skytrax awards ceremony held in Paris in June.

Qatar Airways Group Chief Executive, His Excellency Mr. Akbar Al Baker, said: “The many awards Qatar Airways has received this year stand as firm recognition of our ongoing commitment to our passengers to constantly innovate in order to deliver the finest experience available, both in the skies and on the ground.

“At a time when international aviation is under greater scrutiny than ever, I am very proud that Qatar Airways continues to stand head and shoulders above its competitors. We celebrate our 20th anniversary as an airline this year, and these awards prove we will not rest on our laurels. We will continue to push industry standards to new levels, and to bring passengers an unsurpassed product that will delight and amaze them each and every time they fly.”

Significantly, Qatar Airways was also recognised for its launch of Qsuite, the airline’s revolutionary new ‘First in Business Class’ product, receiving the ‘Best Airline Innovation of the Year' award at the 2017 ULTRAS (Ultimate Luxury Travel Related Awards) in London.

Qatar Airways was also voted ‘Best Airline’ at the 2017 Business Traveller awards held in London, where it won a raft of other major awards, including ‘Best Airline in the Middle East,’ ‘Best Business Class’ and ‘Best Long Haul Airline.’

Additionally, the carrier was awarded ‘Best Cabin Service’ and ‘Best Food and Beverage’ at the 2017 APEX Passenger Choice awards held during this year’s annual APEX Expo in Las Vegas. The airline also received the evening’s highest ranking as a five-star airline from more than half a million passengers who took part.

Qatar Airways also took home four wins at this year’s TravelPlus Airline Amenity Bag Awards. The airline’s new range of on-board products won the awards for 'First Class Female Amenity Kit', 'Business Class Middle East Amenity Kit', 'Children’s Goody Bag' (over six years old) and 'Sleeper Suit/Pyjamas' as the prestigious industry event.

Qatar Airways’ in-flight magazine, Oryx, also won the ‘Custom Redesign of the Year’ award at Folio magazine’s Eddie & Ozzie awards, a ceremony which recognises excellence in editorial content and design across the magazine industry. Oryx magazine is read by more than 30 million people annually and is available on board Qatar Airways’ fleet of more than 200 aircraft, as well as on the Oryx One app and online at www.ink-live.com/emagazines/oryx

Additionally, Qatar Airways Cargo was named the ‘Global Cargo Airline of the Year’ at the Air Cargo Africa 2017 awards held earlier this year. Additionally, the cargo carrier was named ‘Overall Carrier of the Year’ at the highly anticipated Payload Asia Awards Ceremony in Singapore in October, and ‘Best Cargo Airline in Customer Services’ at the Cargo India awards held in Ahmedabad, India.

The first aircraft fully-fitted with Qsuite was launched on the Doha-London route this summer, soon followed by Paris and shortly to feature on the airline’s flights to New York and Washington. Qsuite is already fast collecting awards for offering the industry’s first-ever double bed in Business Class. Adjustable panels and movable TV monitors allow colleagues, friends or families travelling together to transform their space into a private suite, allowing them to work, dine and socialise together.

One of the world’s fastest-growing airlines, Qatar Airways recently added an array of new destinations to its extensive global route network, including Dublin, Republic of Ireland; Nice, France; Prague, Czech Republic and Kyiv, Ukraine, soon to be followed by Chiang Mai, Thailand; St. Petersburg, Russia and Canberra, Australia. The airline operates a modern fleet of more than 200 aircraft to a network of key business and leisure destinations across Europe, the Middle East, Africa, Asia Pacific, North America and South America.