What’s hot: March 2019

By | Category: Travel tips & opinions

Just About Travel tells you what’s hot and what’s not in the travel world right now


Nicaragua is back on the map


The Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) has changed its travel advice to Nicaragua, no longer advising against all but essential travel to the country, and instead advising visitors to exercise a high degree of caution.

In 2017, Nicaragua welcomed a 19 percent increase in international travellers, attracting visitors seeking an alluring mix of nature, exotic beaches and Spanish & British colonial heritage. In 2018 however, tourism to Nicaragua slowed down due to unrest and a change in FCO guidelines. As the situation improves, the FCO relaxed its guidelines on 8 February 2019 enabling tour operators and travellers to return to the country and paving a way towards tourism recovery for the Central American nation.

Enjoying time out in Tel Aviv

Haifa, Tel Aviv

Reaching the ‘Miami of the Mediterranean’ is about to get easier: Virgin Atlantic has announced it will launch flights between London Heathrow and Tel Aviv as of the 25 September 2019.

Flying daily between London Heathrow and Tel Aviv Ben Gurion airport, the five hour flight will operate on an Airbus A330-300 aircraft .

Shai Weiss, Virgin Atlantic CEO, said: “Tel Aviv represents a fantastic opportunity for us – Israel’s economy is booming and as one of the world’s leading tech hubs we’re anticipating many business travellers and entrepreneurs flying between Tel Aviv and the UK.

“I’m also thrilled to introduce this new destination to our leisure customers and I know it’s somewhere they’ll love to visit”.

Whittling down the bucket list

The average 40-something still has seven countries to visit on their travel bucket list, a study by Rough Guides has found. A poll of 2,000 adults aged 40 and above revealed travel is not just the domain of the young, with middle-aged Brits still working their way through a wishlist of destinations.

In fact, those polled have only travelled to a quarter of the countries they dream of visiting with popular backpacking destinations New Zealand, Canada and Australia top of the list.

It also emerged more than six in 10 have already got at least one trip abroad booked for 2019.

Saying G’day to Darwin

The Darwin Walk

The Northern Territory’s capital city, Darwin has for a long time been a popular gateway city when visiting Australia with a flight time of just four and a half hours from Singapore. However, new flights will make it easier than ever to explore the Red Centre and further afield.

From 31 March 2019, Qantas will operate two new direct services a week connecting Darwin to Uluru (Ayers Rock), and then on to Adelaide. This is the first time that the NT’s capital city has been connected directly to one of its most popular natural attractions, Uluru. Historically passengers have needed to transfer in Alice Springs.

Flights will continue from Alice Springs to Darwin and Uluru, enabling visitors to book multi-stop itineraries combining the best of Australia’s Original Outback Territory – Darwin, Alice Springs and Uluru.

Cruising like a rock star

Virgin Voyages, Sir Richard Branson’s first cruise line, has released the designs and images of its RockStar Suites,which will debut on Scarlet Lady when she sails from Miami in early 2020.

Designed by Tom Dixon, the 78 Rockstar Suites have been divided into eight variations. The largest are the 2,150-square-foot Massive Suites, featuring a guitar-clad music room which doubles up as a separate bedroom, a hot tub, hammock, star gazing loungers and a runway outdoor dining table for six, where a staircase will help sailors make their way on top of the table for dancing. Regardless of which class of suite you choose, RockStar Suites guests can enjoy access to “Richard’s Rooftop,” a private members club.

Going green at Daydream Island Resort

Dreamily located in Australia’s Whitsundays, Daydream Island Resort is set to reopen in April 2019 after a AU$100 million (£57.5 million) refurbishment and will focus on its role as custodian of the pristine and irreplaceable marine ecosystem it enjoys.

Three resident marine biologists will ensure the revitalised resort continues to champion conservation, monitor marine life and inspire environmental awareness.

Visa free Uzbekistan

British visitors no longer need a visa to visit one of the most fascinating destinations in central Asia: Uzbekistan.

A crossroads on the historic path of the legendary Silk Route, Uzbekistan has been on a drive to facilitate international tourism: it extended its visa duration from seven to 30 days in December 2017; it launched a limited visa-free scheme for seven nationalities in February 2018; while in July 2018 it announced an e-visa option for 101 nationalities, as well as a new scheme allowing visa-free entry for up to five days while in transit in Uzbekistan.

The number of international visitors to Uzbekistan more than doubled last year – from 2.6 million in 2017 to 5.3 million in 2018 meaning that if a trip to the heart of the Silk Road is on your travel wish list, now is the time to go….

Hitting Route 66

Shea’s Gas Station Museum on the real Route 66

Route 66 has been named as the most Instagram-worthy road trip in the world, according to Brits.

The study, which polled 2,000 adults, found the top three routes are all located in the U.S – specifically through the Grand Canyon National Park and along the Pacific Highway Coast.

The drive through the Grand Canyon parks, typically following the South Rim to the North Rim and famed for its exquisite views of the stunning natural wonder was second. ‘PCH’, also known as Route 101, came third.

The route takes you on a coastal, cliff-hugging drive from San Francisco to San Diego, passing by San Jose, Big Sur and Monterey.

Fifty-six per cent of those who took part in the study commissioned by Hertz named the US as the road trip capital of the world.

Manchester Airport made easy

Mobike in Manchester. Image © 2018 Mobike

Passengers at Manchester Airport will soon be able to fork out £50 to access a new luxury terminal, where perks will include fast-track security and a chauffeur driven ride to the steps of the plane.

Dubbed “PremiAir”, the private jet experience at the terminal is slated to open this summer and will be available for both inbound and outbound flights and to all passengers, irrespective of travel class.
Andrew Harrison, CEO of airport services, said of the “pay as you use” luxury terminal: “It is something a large number of customers have been telling us for some time”.


The UK

Visitor number to the UK fell 5.3 per cent in 2018, according to a report by the UK’s travel arm.
The decrease, the first in a decade, comes as something of a surprise: VisitBritain had predicted a bumper year off the back of a weak pound and the Royal Wedding. VisitBritain’s Patricia Yates said there had been “a slowdown from our European markets” and that  the British Tourist Authority would be stepping up their efforts to urge visitors from the contient to “experience our warm welcome and great value.”

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