India to issue free Sim cards to Tourists

Boost for Passenger Safety at Delhi Airport

You may have had the odd free thing at an airport, especially if your flight is delayed.Maybe a hot coffee or the loan of a blanket. Now, however, the Indian Tourist Authority has taken that to a new degree by issuing new arrivals with a free Sim card.

The plan copies a similar scheme in Indias smaller neighbor Sri Lanka. The Sim cards are not intended for unlimited use throughout your stay in one of the world’s biggest countries, but rather just to use to get to your immediate destination (in most cases a Hotel).The cards are only prepaid with seventy-five cents of credit (and 50MB of data), so they won’t last long, but it is a nice touch.The Sim card is also activated immediately.

Pilot Scheme to be extended

At the time of writing the Sim cards will only be issued to those arriving at Indira Gandhi Airport in New Delhi who are in possession of an e-visa.Once at the airport, you just present your visa confirmation e-mail to the desk of the India Tourism Development Agency, and you get some free welcome information including the Sim card.

As readers will already have noted the scheme only applies to Delhi Airport, but fifteen other airports are due to be added to the program.

Free Sim cards part of wider strategy

We can all acknowledge that this is a small thing, but it is often little out of the way gestures that get appreciated. Traveling of any kind can be stressful, international travel especially so, so having a Sim card to make that reassuring call home is sure to be seen as a very nice gesture. Especially since buying a Sim card in some countries can be fiendishly difficult (India is by all accounts one of these places, and it can take days to get a card activated). The Indian Ministry of Tourism is already operating a 24-hour toll-free helpline and providing help in 12 languages at New Delhi Airport. The e-visa scheme is available to visitors from 161 countries, and hence so are the Sim cards.

Tourism big business in India

The scheme is being marketed as being principally about safety and follows a national scandal last year when the government withdrew bank notes at very short notice, and panic broke out as people queued for hours to get new money. In a side effect, many tourists became stranded without valid cash (and, if in remoter areas, no access to ATM’s). A free Sim card may well have come in handy then. It should be noted that Tourism represented just under 7% of India’s GDP last year.

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Turkish Airlines just keeps on growing


It seems that not a day goes by when Turkish Airlines announces something new. Today is no exception, with Turkish announcing a new route; to its 120th country and 296th destination.

It’s not a route that immediately comes to mind (it is Conakry, the capital of the West African state of Guinea). However, it cements Turkish Airlines position as the leading carrier in Africa.

The Conakry flight is Turkish 51st route in the continent; all served from its Istanbul mega-base. The exotic island of Zanzibar, (just off the coast of Tanzania) was a new addition in December. Currently Turkish serves Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, Entebbe in Uganda, Nairobi, Dar es Salaam and Addis Ababa amongst an ever growing list.


The range of destinations is pretty amazing; with the Romanian city of Cluj-Napoca recently joining this long list as well (in addition to Bucharest and Constanta).

Across the world in the Americas, 20th December was another red letter day with the inauguration of flights to Havana and Caracas (making it a grand total of 17 destinations).

Existing services in North America include Boston, New York, Chicago, L.A., Miami, Atlanta, Montreal, and Toronto.

Whatever else is the case, Turkish Airlines has, without a doubt, acquired a winning formula; based on great customer care, competitive prices and a super onboard experience.


For six consecutive years, Turkish has won ‘Best Airline in Europe.’ But it also managed to collect ‘Best Airline in Southern Europe,’ ‘Best Business Class Dining Lounge’ and ‘Best Business Class onboard catering’ (Skytrax World Airline Awards). These are the industry ‘Oscars’ and are the results of over a million questionnaires issued at over 550 airports across the globe. High praise indeed.

Industry insiders are left wondering what Turkish Airlines are planning next ?.

In 2003 Turkish had just 55 aircraft, now it has over 300. Considerable effort is being made with corporate clients particularly in the U.S.A (the target is that the current 8% corporate client rate should rise to 20%), and a new airport is being built in Northwest Istanbul which will have a 90 million passenger capacity compared to Istanbul Ataturk’s current 55 million. By 2024 the capacity will be 150 million, making Istanbul the biggest airport in the world (sharing that position with Dubai). Investment is also being made in extra sales staff and new aeroplanes. The cooperation of the Turkish government as a development partner cannot be underestimated.

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Never a better time to take a vacation in Mexico

Low Prices

It looks as if there are some real bargains in store for those hunting for a budget vacation, relatively close to home.

Now looks to be an ideal opportunity to take a break in Mexico with prices at recent lows.

There are several reasons for this development. Firstly low-cost or budget airlines have entered the market in an aggressive manner, Southwest has been particularly good in that respect, but others have joined the low fares party, and it really has been a game changer.

Secondly, the sheer volume of traffic to Mexico in itself drives down fares, more flights with fuller planes and competition drive down airline prices.

Falling Fares mostly everywhere

And it seems like just about every destination has experienced falling fares. So let’s take some real examples.Tickets to Cancun are on average $15 cheaper at this time in the winter than they were last year, Guadalajara, the eighth most popular destination, has fallen from $507 to $435.

Across the board, prices are down: Nassau in the Bahamas can be flown to for just $491 return and San Juan, Puerto Rico for just $438 return.

Internal Mexican air flights have also been falling too with some flights for less than $100 return.

Of all the regional players, only Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic has seen its airfare rise to just over $600.

The Background

It was only in August 2016 that most restrictions on flights to Mexico were lifted and airlines were quick to take advantage.Before this open sky agreement maybe only two or three of a countries airlines were allowed on to a particular route.From last summer airlines could fly whatever route they wanted as often as they want. Flight fares are falling but could be even cheaper but for taxes imposed by Mexico and the U.S.A. on travel. Taxes can amount to 20-30% of the fare.

The primary increase in flights has been to the resorts, and this will continue as Mexico City Airport is extremely busy, with consequent restrictions on new routes, due to capacity problems.

Cheap Flights, for all these locations, can be booked via And we offer great value Hotel deals.

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Qatar launches world’s longest airline Route

With a few red eyes, passengers on Qatar’s longest nonstop air route arrived at New Zealand’s Auckland Airport on 6th February.


At a whopping 14,535 kilometers, the Doha-Auckland route enters the record books and deposes the previous record holder, which was Emirates with the Dubai-Auckland route (which is 342km shorter).


Air India’s San Francisco-Delhi route could theoretically claim to be the longest journey over 15,300km, but the methodology measures the shortest possible route, which Air India’s fails to qualify as (being over the Pacific rather than the Atlantic).


Flying time for this path is also long, with an eye-watering 17 hours plus.The flight is so long that passengers will experience not one, but two sun rises.


To add to the occasion, passengers in business class were treated to a selection of New Zealand wines, and others were offered New Zealand smoothies and cakes. Everyone one onboard was presented with gifts from Qatar management.


Fun fact about Doha is that the grand foyer features a 23ft sculpted teddy bear, canary yellow in color, that sits inside a lamp. Its value is estimated at $6.8 million !.


Once landed at Auckland the new arrivals were treated to a water cannon salute by local firefighters and a traditional Maori welcome.The flight was timed to arrive on New Zealand’s national holiday of Waitangi Day (which celebrates the Treaty founding New Zealand in 1840). So New Zealand was probably celebrating anyway.


Auckland is Qatar’s fifth destination in Australasia: following Melbourne, Sydney, Perth, and Adelaide. The new flight is expected to appeal to customers to Europe: for example Auckland-Doha-Amsterdam and Auckland-Doha-London. It is also thought to be of particular interest to business class customers, linking the Australasia to the Middle East and beyond.

The latest long-haul flight represents another chapter in vigorous expansion by the three Gulf Airlines: Qatar, Emirates, and Etihad.

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Manchester Airport enters the European Top 20


London has historically been the first thought when travelers are thinking of coming to the UK.Indeed such is the current demand that a new runway is scheduled to be built at London Heathrow (which is currently operating at near maximum capacity).

This situation, a great regional imbalance since London is in the far Southeast of the UK, had to be addressed particularly now that regenerating the North of England and attracting new investment and tourists is now very much on the agenda.


Manchester is the third biggest city in England and arguably the capital of the North, so it is to be welcomed that there has been some strong growth in passenger numbers. Manchester has now entered the Top 20 European Airports. In figures for January 2016 to January 2017 passenger numbers increased 17.7%. In people terms, that is a quarter of a million people.

The advantages of Manchester aviation-wise, are that it has two full-size runways and has a significant spare capacity for growth. Secondly that due to excellent road and rail connections it can serve a large catchment area stretching from Scotland to the English midlands and Wales.

It is envisaged that Manchester and London Stansted (which serves London and East Anglia) will take the capacity strain since it will take up to ten years to add capacity to existing airports.


Important new destinations are already added with a flight to Beijing offered by Hainan, an additional flight to Dubai (Emirates), and 37.5% growth in flights to Spain, Poland (up 63.6%), Italy up (30.1%) and France (up 28.5%).

Demand at all U.K. regional airports has been boosted by the ever expanding services of low-cost airlines, particularly to European holiday destinations and to Eastern Europe.

However, Manchester now has several transatlantic services including Norwegian Airlines new service to Las Vegas, and KLM, American Airlines and Air Canada.


Attractions near Manchester include the Peak District and the Lake District (both national parks), plus the city of Liverpool with its Beatles connections.Manchester also has two world-class football teams (United and City) who have enormous international followings and attract regular pilgrimages to the city.

Manchester is also a stopping point prior to visiting Ireland, as regular ferry services sail from nearby Holyhead in North Wales, which has direct rail and road links. London is now only 2 hours from London on high-speed rail.


Regional airports in the U.K. have always been dominated by London ones. However, capacity issues coupled with expanding demand, new destinations plus a desire to promote the U.K. regions, are changing these perceptions rapidly. For the consumer, it is a boost to be able to travel to the North of England without going to London first.

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Music Tourism

You probably would not automatically refer to ‘Music Tourism’ in a casual phrase, but it illustrates a new cultural phenomenon. Music Tourism is broadly defined as ‘people traveling to a new area in order to attend a concert, gig or festival’.

Higher disposable incomes have led to a significant growth in this sector since the 1960’s and now it is a global trend.

Black Sabbath

Let’s look at one case in point: Black Sabbath, (the band credited with inventing ‘Rock’ in 1968), played their final concert last night at the National Exhibition Centre, in Birmingham U.K. The event was a culmination of a farewell tour which saw them perform in Europe, North and South America and Australasia. For the final gig, people had come from as far away as Honduras and Australia.

The Major Players

But the really big tours of recent years, are the big hitters in the Music Industry. We can take a look at the highest grossing tours of recent years, and the figures are eye-popping:

  • Bruce Springsteen’s Wrecking Ball World Tour in 2012-13 took in today’s figures $365 million, played 127 shows and was seen by 3,650,000 people.
  • AC/DC’s Black Eye World Tour in 2008-2010 took (again 2017 figures) $484 million played 127 shows and was attended by 4,847,000 people.
  • Roger Waters (Pink Floyd) The Wall Tour in 2010-13 took $484 million over 219 shows and had an attendance of 4,130,000.
  • But the first prize by a long way is U2. Their U2 360 degree Tour took $784 million over 110 shows attended by a whopping 7,727,000 people.

Other Winners

I think we have illustrated that this is big business but in many senses, it’s just a part of the equation. The hospitality industry probably makes more than this per head in every city that hosts a major concert.For example Hotels, Bars and Restaurants. To extract as much profit as possible, most venues now incorporate eating and drinking facilities to a much higher standard than previously expected.


Probably an alternative view can be provided by examining the world-famous Glastonbury Festival.Held annually in the last week in June (for 2017 21-25 June) and already sold out as of today’s date (actually in the first 20 minutes), tickets for Glastonbury cost around £250 each.It may seem expensive for a concert in a field at Pilton in Somerset (in the rural West of England) but you can see 3000 acts over 100 stages. Visitors are treated to a 5-day 24-hour party and they are willing to travel from across the globe, to spend a week in a tent in the sometimes rain-prone British weather.

It is so well organised that major coach companies schedule services to Glastonbury from 70 destinations all over the U.K. The nearest major Airport is London Heathrow.

Attendance at Glastonbury was 135,000 in 2016. Over the 47 years of the Festival, it made more than £325 million in ticket sales alone. Bear in mind that food and beverage sales plus on-site shops add to this immensely.

Of course not all music venues have to be the size of the National Exhibition Centre or Glastonbury, and many smaller venues are finding it highly lucrative to bring in less well-known bands who nonetheless have a devoted following willing to travel across the country to hear them.

Lasting Legacies

Music Tourism can leave a legacy, some visitors who come to see a band, later come back to see more of the town, city or area. Glastonbury brings millions of pounds into the local economy, including hundreds of jobs in an area where employment is not that easy to come by.

So going to see a concert can now be seen in a completely different light.

At we have a comprehensive range of flights and hotels all over the world.

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Summers Coming..

Let’s start looking

OK, for most of us in the Northern Hemisphere it is cold, for some very cold. But as with all things seasonal, it comes and it goes.

If you glance outside of your office or store window, it may not seem like it, but that snow and frost will soon evaporate, and before you know it, spring has sprung.

So the logical thing is to start looking for the best summer deals. What are the options?. Here we present you with a few:

  • U.S. Vacation: An obvious choice for many. The beaches of California or Florida, the great redwoods of Oregon or Washington State, the National Parks.Or the culture and history of New England So much to choose from.
  • Disadvantages: are that you could do this anytime.
  • Advantages: very close to home, simple and unchallenging.
  • Local Vacation: Canada is vast and to many Americans, virgin territory. Vancouver is fantastic, Toronto and Ottowa too, but the provinces of Canada offer so much more, horse-riding, trekking, nature with the wild animals, and some great fishing in two oceans, and countless lakes.Not to mention French-speaking Quebec and the charms of Montreal and Quebec City. Unique francophone gastronomy in the North Americas.
  • Disadvantages: It is still only Canada and for all the Canuck charm, pretty close to home.
  • Advantages: are still very close to home, everybody speaks English and, well it’s Canada.
  • Outside the U.S.A.: In the Americas, you can get skiing and beach; hot and cold, So to achieve something different you must factor in something else.That something else is culture and history, splashed with a touch of gastronomy.Really this is not a puff piece for Europe, as we have abandoned the Euro-centric bias of previous years in the Travel industry, so the magnificent Temples of Angkor Watt in Cambodia, the sights of Thailand and the stunning beauty of India’s myriad of architectural vistas, is strongly in our sights, and should be in yours too.
  • Alternative Beaches.At, we spend a spectacular amount of time looking at holidays, not a surprise, it is our job. Our recommendations are well researched, and given a lot of thought. So we do not hesitate to recommend going to places that are totally unknown to U.S. audiences.
  • Turkey and Greece are two lovely alternatives, particularly Greece, Island hopping is really the perfect way to spend a month in the Aegean. The Ferries are frequent and the sea so very very blue. A night in a Greek Taverna is a memory you will always cherish.
  • Spain and its Islands: Mainland Spain offers the Costa’s: Del Sol, Blanca and Brava.The Islands offer Majorca and Minorca in the Balearics and the wonderful Canary Islands.
  • Northern Europe: Castles, Palaces and Music, what more could you ask ?.A fabulous transport system makes getting around so incredibly easy. France, Germany and Eastern Europe offer you so much; from Gothic to Renaissance.All the history you read about at school, are encapsulated here. The Salzburg Mozart Festival in Austria is a delight for the ears.
  • This is not intended to be an exhaustive list, by any means. In fact, we would welcome your Blog suggestions, we have our own ideas, but yours are more than welcome so that we can fuse together our can answer all your flight, hotel and holiday needs.
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Wales shines out as the U.K.’s must-go tourist destination

Wales shines out as the U.K.’s must-go tourist destination

Following from our last blog post, which was concerned with tourism outside London and in the constituent parts of Great Britain (England, Scotland, and Wales), we thought we would take a closer look at Wales.

Wales neglected for so long

Wales is often regarded as the ‘Cinderella.’ of the U.K. , England is the largest country and the dominant one, Scotland has other advantages, not least of which is the enduring success of ‘Braveheart’ and other legends popularised by the works of Sir Walter Scott in the 19th century, which has given Scotland an adventurous and yet romantic allure. Plus of course the more recent successes of the Scotch Whisky industry and Golf.

The times they are changing

Now the Welsh Tourist Board is trying to change that by trumpeting the rich history and scenic beauty of Wales.And it already has some powerful allies. The Lonely Planet guide for 2017 has described the North Wales Region as one of the Top Ten Places to visit. Years of extensive marketing and work to turn Wales industrial past into a green future, seem to be finally paying off.

Former slate mining areas are now being landscaped to provide stunning leisure opportunities. Even the abandoned mines themselves are being re-invented; ‘Bounce Below’ offers underground trampolining in a disused 176-year-old mine, with a space as big as the dome of St. Pauls Cathedral.

What else does North Wales have to offer ?. Well for a start there is Surf Snowdonia the world’s biggest non-coastal surf park and Zip World, the longest and fastest zip line in Europe.

And of course, there is the hiking for the serious outdoors person or many beautiful yet leisurely strolls (for those looking for something less strenuous).

And we have not even mentioned the Castles. Wales has loads of them, from the time when the English conquered Wales in the 13th/14th century when they needed secure citadels to keep out marauding Welsh rebels.

Caernarfon and Conwy Castles are amongst the largest and most impressive (forming part of the four castles of the Gwynedd World Heritage site).These castles have survived the ravages of time, others have fallen into disuse or were destroyed in later conflicts, and now make eerie yet attractive monuments in time. There are still over 100 castles in Wales.

‘The Prisoner’ draws big crowds

A visit to Portmeirion is a ‘must’ for anyone who goes to Wales. This town is a purpose built ‘folly’ of brightly colored houses with some Italianate landscaping which feels totally out of place in North-Western Europe. It is such a bizarre place that it was the setting for ‘The Village’ in the psychedelic 1960’s sci-fi classic ‘The Prisoner.’

Last but not least. South Wales.

Finally, let’s take an excursion to South Wales and look at two very special places. Firstly the Mining Museum at ‘Big Pit’: coal mining and steel production were the signature features of South Wales in the 19th and 20th centuries. These all came crashing to a halt from the 1980’s onward and government and tourist board were left wondering what to do with this legacy. One way is to embrace it, and that is exactly what has been done at ‘Big Pit,’ the museum is open to tourists as a former working mine, you can go down to the coal face in the ‘cage’ or escalator and experience what it was like every day for the miners. Afterwards, go to the Museum itself and see the exhibitions as former coal miners explain what their lives were like in the Pit.

For history lovers, the Welsh Folk Museum, at St. Fagans, is a real treat; amongst the many buildings (including a school house and a church) brought here as examples of Welsh history, you can see a row of Miners cottages each one decorated in the style of a period, i.e., 1900, 1930, 1950, etc. It is a splendid place to soak up the history of the Welsh people in the South Wales valleys.

In conclusion, Wales is rather more than male voice choirs and has much to offer the discerning tourist.

Travel to Wales internationally is usually via one of London’s airports, though there is an airport at Cardiff, the national capital. Onward travel to Wales is by car, train or bus.

For cheap flights to London check out the search engine at

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U.K. Tourism goes from strength to strength

UK Tourism Breaks all records

The UK has a reputation as a travel hotspot; records show that the majority of US international travelers pass through the UK either as a destination or in transit. Increasing numbers of cheap flights are making the U.K. an attractive place for vacations.

UK major U.S. travel hub

It is hardly surprising really since Heathrow is a hub for U.S. flights, and the U.K. is attractive to U.S. visitors because of shared language, shared history, and culture.

No.1 for history and culture tourism.

Great Britain, has a wealth of attractions from its big cities through to the many stately homes such as Hampton Court Palace, Blenheim Palace, and Woburn Abbey.And of course, there is Sport, with the most famous and richest Soccer Premier League and some of the most legendary clubs in the world.

Bumper year for the tourist industry

This year has been no exception with over 12.2 million tourists visiting the UK to regions outside London. England saw a 4% increase, in visitors across the board, outside of London.

Downton Abbey and Scotch lead the way

Undoubtedly the stellar success of the tv series ‘Downton Abbey,’ which has had U.S. viewers hooked, has been a significant boost to U.K. tourism, one U.S. Congressman famously had his office decorated in the Edwardian style.

The continued popularity of the Scottish whisky industry also attracts thousands to that part of the world, as does the hundreds of golf courses (the latest being a Donald Trump venture).

Spending Increases

And spending has grown too, £5.9 billion was spent by tourists in England, £367 million in Wales by its 856,000 visitors, and £1.6 billion in Scotland by 2.2 million people. (The figures are for the first nine months of 2016).

Summer in England is always the busiest time, and this summer was no exception with a record-breaking 4.9 million visitors.

Top visitors to the English regions were Germany and France, but American tourists were no slouches with 903,000 people (up to a very healthy 5%). Canadians were even keener with a whopping 15% increase (to 280,000). A record £2.5 billion was spent in 2016 by U.S. citizens.Canadians spent £505 million up 24%.

An excellent legacy for the new head of the national tourist agency ‘ Visit Britain’; the ex-Virgin Atlantic Chief Steve Ridgeway. has lots of great flight and Hotel offers for the U.K.

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Its Friday 13th and Flight 666 to HEL !.

Last Friday was a bit of a worrying day for superstitious people, but none more so than any passengers of a nervous disposition on Flight 666 to HEL !!.

As experienced travelers will know, ‘HEL’ is actually the airport code for Helsinki. It just so happened that this scheduled Finnair flight from Copenhagen got the airline timetabling equivalent of the ‘wooden spoon.’

For the sake of posterity, we can report that the flight took off at 12.25pm from Copenhagen and landed (without incident) at 3.50pm in Helsinki. Finnair pointed out that staff were on hand to help any passenger with frazzled nerves.

In another rather weird coincidence, the plane was 13 years old. A bemused airline spokesman reported that the flight was always busier on Friday 13th. Still, you must pity the poor man or woman in Seat 13 Row 13. It should also be pointed out that Helsinki is a lot colder than Hell !.

On a more serious note, Finnair is a very respected airline with an excellent safety record; the company is also growing rapidly across Europe, and beyond. The unfazed Captain reported that the whole thing was ‘just a coincidence’ to him.

Finnair has been very active in launching new routes.Way back in August 2016 they announced four new short-haul flights for this summer: Malta, Ibiza, Reykjavik, and Corfu, plus boosts to capacity on London, Dublin and Edinburgh flights and two new flights to Malaga per week in the summer. Seasonal flights have also been agreed to Los Angeles and Alicante.

Finally, a joint business venture has been announced with Japan, Iberia and British Airways to improve connectivity with Japan, creating faster links, easier check-in, and better overall services.

Oh, and we forgot to tell you that they have been voted Best Airline in Northern Europe for the seventh year running.So, spooky coincidence or not, Finnair is the one with the good luck.Finnair is one of the airlines offered by

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