It’s time for the consumer travel shows – part 1

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tunisian stand at Manchester Destinations show

the Tunisian stand at Destinations year. Now that the ban has been lifted, Tunisia expects to see a massive interest from British holidaymakers

January and February are traditionally the times when travel shows for the public occur.

Each year tens of thousands of us visit London, Manchester, Birmingham, Glasgow, Belfast, Dublin and a number of smaller places to get the latest news on which destinations to visit. There are always new tour plans that anxious tour operators put together to entice us to book with them rather than their rivals. There are always claims of new destinations either new to the tour operator or, much more rarely, new destinations altogether. There are those stalls that remind us of the good times we had on  the last holiday and experts determined to show us the cuisine we will face, the joys we will have and how to record the good times we will have.

As usual, the new consumer travel season begins with three, established favourites. In Manchester’s Event City from this Friday there is Destinations, in Belfast from Friday there is the Holiday World Show at Titanic Belfast and in London’s Olympia there is the Adventure Travel Show which opens on Saturday. I should also mention that happening at the same time as Destinations and in the same location there is the Caravan and Motor Home Show, so Manchester visitors can explore many more holiday options at the same time as the opening times match for each.

Yunnam was one of the destinations in China to see pandas. At The Adventure Show, there will be tour operators to guide you through China

Destinations has grown over the years   and there are now two locations – one in Manchester and the other in London at Olympia from the 1st-4th of February. In each case there is an entry fee that is charged but various holiday companies and newspapers often provide discounted tickets for visitors. The London event tends to be larger than the one held in Manchester but, as I mentioned earlier, the Manchester event has the bonus of having the caravan show next to it, something that would prove to be impossible at the much smaller Olympia venue in London.  The London event will have over 550 travel brands and over 25 hours of free expert talks and panel sessions. Celebrity speakers include: Rick Stein, Julia Bradbury, Michael Portillo and Levison Wood.  At Manchester where there are thirty new exhibitors bringing the total up to 150 brands and thirty tourist destinations, Julia Bradbury also appears, maybe because of the neighbouring caravan show since she also doubles as president of The Camping and Caravanning Club. Jan Leeming, fresh from visiting India pops up to discuss holidays for singles whilst both Monty Halls and Steve Leonard – both better known as presenters – are both talking about Viking feasts over the weekend!  Visitors can also enjoy photography masterclasses, free food & drink tastings, and ‘show-only’ exclusive travel offers as well as some cultural exhibitions to whet your appetite to visit certain destinations.

As ever, it is to your advantage to book in advance as tickets on the door are more expensive than pre-booked ones. It is £11 per adult. but £15 on the door.

Next door in the  Caravan and Motor Home Show there are lessons in towing if you have never had a caravan before but these aren’t simulated lessons. Get in a Hyundai and try towing and manoeuvring a mini-caravan is what is available.

Between the two shows, hundreds of holiday possible holidays and destinations are available to coax you on a holiday this year.

retro caravan

retro-caravans have bcome popular

The Holiday World Shows (Belfast and Dublin) have been attracting not just thousands but tens of thousands of people. To attract the same proportion of people to London based travel consumer show would mean that a venue would have to be able to cope with 500,000 people over the two and a half days –a practical impossibility. That shows how big an event the shows have become. With the newish one based in Limerick on the first weekend in February, all of the major tour operators in Ireland attend as do an increasing number of UK ones.

Like the Manchester shows there is also a camper van/caravan section attached to Holiday World and I would be prepared to bet that it will include some of the retro-caravans that made their debut last year and proved such a hit with buyers

As has now become the norm, there will be a variety of prizes on offer from the various stands but there is also a growing number of general traders in foodstuffs, clothing and other goods who have latched on to the popularity of the shows to sell their wares.

camel tours across the Sahara will be available at The Adventure Show

Down in London is the 22nd annual The Adventure Show, which began as an event appealing to just a few and which has grown, as adventure tourism has, to become an event appealing to a wide audience. Unlike some shows, this one has over a hundred specialist providers of adventure linked tours and almost as many talks and guidance sessions to help inspire, allay any doubts and enthuse you to try something that you might not have previously considered. This year you have an opportunity to listen and possible meet Sir Ranulph Fiennes, one of the most amazing (in the true sense of the word) adventurers who does things that few of us would even consider even after a glass or two of alcohol! He will be appearing at midday on Saturday and will cost you an additional £25 on top of the show entrance fee of £8. That is, if you can still get tickets to hear him.

The film evening on Saturday is a favourite with audiences and that also costs £25 but that fee also includes the entrance fee.

That covers the shows that are open this coming weekend. newt week i will bring you op-to-date with the others scheduled over the next few weeks.

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