Thursday, July 31, 2014
Text Size

Thursday July 31, 2014

This Week's Travel News

European Health Card Vital for Travellers

A new survey has revealed that one in three UK holidaymakers don't travel with a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC), which entitles them to reduced or free medical care in the European Economic Area (EEA).

Travelling without an EHIC could see UK holidaymakers stuck with hefty medical costs, if they fall ill or have an accident.

The EHIC is available to all UK residents and allows travellers to receive treatment from public hospitals within the EEA. The EHIC allows travellers to get treatment on the same basis (for example, free or at a reduced cost) as people who live in that country. Holidaymakers need both their EHIC and travel insurance, as EHIC does not cover all medical costs, dental treatment or the cost of repatriation.

Lee Taylor of insurance provider Allianz Global Assistance UK says: "It is really important to travel with an EHIC and adequate travel insurance cover, yet our survey shows that one in three UK travellers don't take an EHIC with them to Europe. This puts them at huge risk, if they need medical care abroad. An EHIC card is essential for anyone to receive treatment from public hospitals in all European Economic Area countries.

"We also urge holidaymakers to ensure they book the right level of travel insurance, declaring all medical conditions, as falling ill or needing emergency support abroad can be very costly. Travellers need to be aware of the risks they face, whether that's delayed or cancelled flights, lost luggage or something more serious such as an accident or illness."

Four New Routes and Big Expansion Plans

Sister brands and Jet2holidays have announced major expansion plans for Belfast International Airport, with a number of new routes, an additional aircraft, more seats for summer 2015 and more than 80 new jobs.

Four new destinations will be served direct from Belfast, two great city break spots, Prague and Rome and the sizzling sunshine hotspots Gran Canaria and Zante.

The introduction of these routes, along with the addition of a third dedicated aircraft, will see operate its biggest ever flying programme from Belfast International Airport next year with over 250,000 seats available for local passengers, more than 70 services a week operating to 16 in demand sun and city destinations and increased frequency of flights to the popular destination of Malaga.

Jet2holidays is also celebrating an increase in customer numbers, with bookings up a massive 50 per cent year on year. As a result of this continued expansion by both businesses, 86 new jobs will be created at the airport. Roles available will include flight and cabin crew, engineers and ground operations staff.

Steve Heapy, CEO of and Jet2holidays said: "In our tenth year of flying from Belfast International Airport we are thrilled to be announcing major growth plans for summer 2015. Since our first flight took off we've not only increased capacity but we have also grown our destinations from two to 16. With our fantastic range of destinations, coupled with great flight times and award winning customer service, we are confident we have the right mix to cement our position as one of the leading leisure operators at Belfast International Airport."

Fear of Flying Course Landing in October

If you have a Fear of Flying, you're not alone - approximately one in six of us has some kind of anxiety about flying. There are courses to help you overcome your fear, and Belfast International Airport is working with easyJet to bring their highly successful Fearless Flyer programme to Belfast International Airport.

The next course will take place on: Friday, October 10, 2014 with the experience flight on Saturday, October 11, 2014.

The course is in two parts, a Ground Course which lasts around three hours which will take you through all the technical aspects of flying and worries you may have about turbulence or all those strange noises you hear on an aircraft. It will also teach you a series of techniques to help you manage and then conquer your fear.

The next day, you'll go on an Experience flight from Belfast International Airport - a one hour flight accompanied by all the Fearless Flyer team - which will allow you to put all you've learnt into practice.

The cost is £189 including the Experience Flight and you can bring a companion with you on the Experience Flight for just £69.

Rail and Sail Offer on Right Track

Leading ferry company, Stena Line is on the right track with its latest rail and sail offer from Belfast which gives people the chance to sail from Belfast-Cairnryan or Belfast-Liverpool from as little as £29 (conditions apply) per adult single then travel to destinations all over Great Britain by train.

"Our Rail and Sail fare is simplicity itself", said Diane Poole OBE, Head of PR and Communications for Stena Line. "Customers book their train tickets and ferry tickets in one go making it a very efficient process. The fares are also phenomenal value meaning it can be a really cost effective way to get city-to-city with the whole family."

On arrival in Liverpool or Cairnryan you will travel by rail link coach to the station where you can then catch a train to many destinations across Great Britain including London, Aberdeen, Glasgow, Manchester and Birmingham.

Passengers travelling on the Belfast-Cairnryan route can also experience the Pure Nordic Spa where they can relax in the sauna or enjoy an invigorating massage, ensuring they arrive at their destination revived and rejuvenated.

For a full list of Rail and Sail fares log onto the Stena website, contact the company directly or visit your local travel agent.

Landmark Deal with Student Travel Specialists

Flybe, Europe's largest regional airline, has announced a landmark deal with STA Travel confirming its status as the 'Preferred Partner for Student and Youth Travel' which will see a range of affordable seat fares offered for sale across Flybe's extensive 180+ route network to STA Travel's customer base.

STA Travel is the world's largest student and youth travel company, operating in over 63 countries including Northern Ireland, and has more than 230 retail stores globally in addition to its web booking engine that offers 24/7 global travel help. It has a high profile through a number of promotional tools including the wide use of social media channels, a database of more than 2.4 million and knowledgeable in-store travel experts who provide peer-to-peer advice to customers.

This, with a product range that matches the price and performance expectations of its customers and weekly 'hot deals' displayed across all 50 of STA Travel's UK stores, means that Flybe will be afforded the benefit of high prominence within this relatively untapped and hugely active travel sector.

WWI Exhibition in Dublin Cathedral

For those visiting Dublin on a short break, or just passing through the city, the historic Saint Patrick's Cathedral has launched a specially commissioned monument and exhibition to mark the centenary of the outbreak of World War One.

The 'Lives Remembered' exhibition is themed around remembrance of those affected by conflict, not only in World War One but in any context. At the centre of the new exhibition is a new monument called the 'Tree of Remembrance', on which members of the public are invited to tie their own messages of remembrance.

The 'Lives Remembered' exhibition will build on Saint Patrick's historic reputation as an important centre of remembrance, and will be open for the next four years.

Already, there are nearly 200 plaques and monuments throughout the Cathedral, commemorating individuals and families. A short video on the 'Tree of Remembrance' can be viewed online. For further details on the exhibition and wider activities at Saint Patrick's Cathedral, visit the website.

Tourist Attraction Guide for the Less Mobile

Silver Travel Advisor, the travel review and advice site for the over 50s, has produced the latest in its series of mini guides, an eight page review of some of Britain's top tourist attractions for older and less mobile visitors.

Included in the guide are 25 accessible Great British days out, ranging from gardens to railways, country houses to museums, with full details of their suitability for older visitors and their carers. The guide features attractions across Britain and is Silver Travel Advisor's pick of the most suitable venues for older, less mobile or visually impaired visitors. It is available free of charge by post or via download.

Silver Travel Advisor's MD Debbie Marshall said: "Each site featured in the guide has been visited first hand by our researchers, who understand the needs of the older visitor who may have limited mobility or accessibility requirements. Our writers researched ramps, lifts, disabled toilets, wheelchair and scooter hire, parking, facilities for the visually impaired, rest seats, hearing loops and cafe facilities to come up with an informed and useful guide that will be invaluable for older people."

Silver Travel Advisor's Accessible Attractions Guide is available by post free of charge by contacting This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it with a postal address. An electronic guide can also be downloaded from their website.

Stunning Shopping Bargains in the States

With the current pound/dollar exchange rate at a three year high, shopping in the US means bagging a bargain, especially in Kissimmee where outlet malls and speciality shops offer even more for British travellers to enjoy.

For instance you can save up to 65 per cent at Orlando Premium Outlets, on premium brands including Michael Kors, Victoria's Secret, Saks Fifth Avenue and Neiman Marcus. With nearly 200 stores, there's a wide mix of clothing, homeware, accessories and gifts from hundreds of designers.

And for factory-direct quality merchandise hit Lake Buena Vista Factory stores for bargains of up to 75 per cent off full retail price. Located just outside of Walt Disney World, the outlet village is nicely spread out and features more than 50 favourite stores. Guests will find stores such as the Disney Store outlet, Gap Outlet, Converse and there's even a Samsonite Factory Store for visitors to haul home their new goods. They even offer free shuttle service to and from selected hotels in Kissimmee.

For some classic American high street favourites, the Loop features a mix of department stores and smaller boutiques providing a variety of choices ranging from  electronic goods, books, music, crafts and of course clothing.

With an abundance of department stores including JC Penney, Kohls, Ross and Bealls, it brings together the ultimate American. For more information on Kissimmee shopping visit


No More Visas for Mongolia, Reveals Local Consul

For those of you with a more adventurous streak when it comes to overseas travel, it should be noted that visas will no longer be required to one of Asia's most interesting and far-flung destinations - Mongolia.

In fact, according to Mongolia's Bangor-based Honorary Consul in the Province, Richard Holmes (who many NI Travel News readers will remember penned a feature on the country in the paper a couple of years ago) visas will no longer be required by UK or Irish passport holders intending to travel to Mongolia for tourism and business purposes for stays of up to 30 days.

"Given that all visitors previously had to obtain a visa in advance, the present change will no doubt provide a tourism boost to Mongolia, a fascinating country which offers tremendous opportunities for both eco-tourism combined with the unique heritage and culture of the Mongolian people," says Richard.

Mongolia is becoming increasingly more accessible through a growing number of international flight connections including those via Istanbul, Frankfurt, Berlin, Moscow and Beijing. Mongolia is also a popular stopover on the epic Trans Siberian train journey from Moscow to Beijing.

For more details you can contact Richard Holmes, Honorary Consul of Mongolia on: 0779 0654247 or email.


John Trew


Following seven eventful years as front-line Editor of the Belfast News Letter, John Trew wisely opted for the quieter pleasures of travel journalism.  Now, after 23 years and 270,000 miles, he is living proof that travel not only broadens the mind but the buttocks.

View John's articles

Latest Travel Reports

  • A Brief Encounter with Morecambe... A Brief Encounter with Morecambe...
    On a recent trip to Morecambe, GUY WARNER and his wife (an avid Agatha Christie fan) enjoyed a stay at The Midland and a Brief Encounter in Carnforth… WHEN we mentioned to friends that we were taking...
  • El Dorado in the Nevada Desert El Dorado in the Nevada Desert
    Las Vegas - which means ‘the meadows’ in Spanish - was once a sleepy settlement of just 30 souls - now a thriving city famous for it’s casinos and night-life ROBIN NOWACKI finds out more… LIKE...
  • You haven’t been to India until you’ve been to the deep South You haven’t been to India until you’ve been to the deep South
    You haven’t been to India until you’ve seen south India, argues contributor NATASHA WARCHOLAK. You’re more likely to meet locals rather than back-packers, the people are friendlier, the food...
  • Stylish, practical travel Stylish, practical travel
    I HAVE been a fan of filofax for a long time - I had a special kids edition filofax as a child/young teen and absolutely adored it (I ran that thing through the mill), so coming into adulthood I invested...
  • The city that reveals itself slowly The city that reveals itself slowly
    image - Havana is a city of paradoxes, scruffily elegant with as many layers as a Spanish onion. EDDIE LENNON peels them back to reveal a city that is more than a clutch of cliches… HAVANA is a...
    Despite obtaining the break from Mother England more than 200 years ago, a number of European traditions took root in Pennsylvania, blossoming here and flowering enthusiastically. The southeast corner...
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 6
  • 7
  • 8

Contact Details

  • NI Travel News
  • Unit 1, Windsor Business Park
  • Belfast
  • BT9 7DW
  • 028 9066 6151