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    SeaWorld to Open Exciting One-Of-A-Kind Marine Life Themed Rides and Experiences 2024

    SeaWorld is thrilled to announce it will open one-of-a-kind marine life themed rides and attractions in every SeaWorld park in Spring 2024.
    Guests to the award-winning parks in Orlando, San Antonio, and San Diego can look forward to epic journeys and experiences for the whole family that will leave them breathless, drenched, and utterly mesmerized.  Attractions include “Penguin Trek” at SeaWorld Orlando, an all-new family friendly coaster for guests 42-77 inches in height that will transport riders on an unforgettable expedition through the Antarctic wilderness aboard unique snowmobile styled ride cars traversing an indoor/outdoor track that ends at the penguin habitat where riders can experience the enchanting world of these remarkable animals.  The first of its kind at SeaWorld parks, the all-new “Jewels of the Sea: The Jellyfish Experience” at SeaWorld San Diego offers an immersive and interactive view into the mysterious underwater world of glowing and graceful jellyfish, along with touch and behind the scenes experiences.  At SeaWorld San Antonio, guests will celebrate the first splash of the much-anticipated opening of Catapult Falls, the world’s first launched flume coaster and the only vertical lift in North America.  The new attractions continue the SeaWorld legacy of blending marine life inspired adventure, discovery, and family-friendly thrills.  The best way to experience the new attractions is with a SeaWorld 2024 Annual Pass on sale now.  2024 pass members will be the first to experience the new attractions before they open to the public.
    “2024 looks to be another fun year with exciting new rides in our parks and our first jellyfish exhibit,” said Marc Swanson, CEO of SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment.  “We know our fans will delight in the all-new lineup of marine life inspired experiences that gives everyone even more new ways to really enjoy our parks.  And when they do, they can feel good knowing that a portion of proceeds goes toward our rescue and conservation work.”
    “Penguin Trek” at SeaWorld Orlando is a Unique Family Friendly Coaster Experience to Traverse through the Antarctic Wilderness Aboard a Snowmobile Styled Ride Car on an Indoor/Outdoor Track that Concludes in the Penguin Habitat
    Designed as THE ultimate family launch coaster experience, “Penguin Trek” features a unique snowmobile styled ride car where once aboard, riders will embark on an exhilarating journey through the breathtaking vastness of Antarctica as they join a penguin research mission unlike any other.  Featuring two exhilarating launches and a maze of twists and turns, this unforgettable coaster moves at speeds of up to 43 mph across a 3,020-foot track that traverses both indoors and outside. Yet, what sets this experience apart as truly extraordinary is its unparalleled finale: as the coaster comes to a halt, guests find themselves not in a simulated penguin colony, but in the very heart of SeaWorld Orlando’s own penguin habitat.ADVERTISEMENTAn experience for the whole family, the ride accommodates rider heights from 42-inches to 77-inches.  A unique and immersive blend of coaster thrills and authentic animal interaction offers the whole family the spirit of adventure and exploration, while further connecting SeaWorld’s mission and commitment to animal care, education, and research.
    Coming in Spring 2024, “Penguin Trek” is the eagerly awaited eighth coaster to join SeaWorld Orlando’s ever-expanding ride portfolio.

    “Jewels of the Sea: The Jellyfish Experience” at SeaWorld San Diego Offers an Immersive Experience with the Beauty and Wonder of Graceful Jellies, the First at SeaWorld Parks
    SeaWorld San Diego is thrilled to announce the upcoming debut of “Jewels of the Sea: The Jellyfish Experience” in 2024, adding another exciting and educational dimension to the park’s offerings. The first of its kind for SeaWorld parks, the Jellyfish Experience will be the newest immersive and interactive aquarium at the park.
    Nestled within the Ocean’s Explorer area, guests to the new exhibit will be greeted by a kaleidoscope of colors and shapes in three unique galleries as if diving into the heart of the ocean. Glowing with an ethereal light, Moon Jellyfish, Pacific Sea Nettles, Upside-Down Jellyfish, and Comb Jellies will gracefully glide through the water, showcasing their hypnotic movements that seem almost unworldly.  The experience features an 18-foot-tall cylinder, among the tallest jelly cylinders in the country, a 10-foot-tall acrylic living arch of jellyfish for guests to walk through for views from multiple angles, plus a vivid display from walls to ceiling that show virtual oceanic moments, ranging from calm waters to dynamic, energetic crescendos. Guests can also upgrade their experience with a behind-the-scenes tour led by an aquarist and learn more about jellyfish propagation and have hands-on experience to touch the ocean’s translucent treasures. 
    As part of the park’s commitment to education, the Jellyfish Experience also offers a fun way to learn more from experts about what makes a jellyfish, the beauty and diversity of the translucent species, their behaviors and patterns, and how they have adapted to some of the most extreme environments on Earth. Plus, guests will come away with a better understanding of what they can do to protect jellyfish and our oceans.
    Much Anticipated Opening for “Catapult Falls” at SeaWorld San Antonio, the World’s First Launched Flume Coaster
    At SeaWorld San Antonio, guests will celebrate the first splash of the anticipated arrival of “Catapult Falls,” the world’s first launched flume coaster and the only vertical lift in North America.  First announced in 2022, it will feature the world’s steepest flume drop, North America’s only vertical lift flume coaster, and the tallest flume drop in Texas.
    This family friendly ride will catapult through the launch at speeds of 30 feet per second, allowing riders to feel the rush of a coaster while experiencing the rocking and swaying of riding on a track of water. Guests can stay tuned for a first look at “Catapult Falls” ride vehicles.
    2024 Annual Pass Members will be the First to Experience these Exciting Attractions
    The best way to experience these new attractions is with a SeaWorld Annual Pass on sale now.  All Pass Members will receive a preview to the “Jellyfish Experience” and be the first to ride “Penguin Trek” and “Catapult Falls”.  Annual Pass prices by park. Visit to find more information on all new and current SeaWorld attractions and to purchase an Annual Pass. Follow along on Facebook, Instagram, SeaWorld Cares.

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    Danish Viking Age Ring Fortresses Declared UNESCO World Heritage Sites

    Five historic Danish Viking age Ring Fortresses have just been added to the prestigious UNESCO World Heritage List. The fortresses were built between year 958 and 987 under the reign of the Danish Viking King Harald Bluetooth and are characterised by their remarkable symmetry.
    The fortresses are some of the most prominent archaeological remains from the Viking Age in Denmark, while they at the time of construction testified to the ambition of uniting the Danish Kingdom and to protect it against external enemies.
    “The Viking age holds a unique place in world history, and the Ring Fortresses are a physical manifestation from the time when Denmark was united as one kingdom and Scandinavia became a part of the Christian movement in Europe. Therefore, it is amazing – and with a good reason – that the Danish Ring Fortresses are now recognised by UNESCO as world heritage at the same level as, for instance, the Pyramids and the Great Wall of China. This decision will support the future research and communication about the Ring Fortresses – and hopefully, it will also contribute to attracting more visitors,” says Rane Willerslev, Museum Director of The National Museum of Denmark.
    The five fortresses are spread across Denmark:
    AggersborgADVERTISEMENTAggersborg, located near Løgstør in Northern Jutland, is the largest of the Viking Age Ring Fortresses and was built around the 980s. The internal diameter of the fortress is 240 metre and was surrounded by a 9-metre-wide and approximately 4-metre-high circular rampart. The fortress has four gate openings, each pointing to the corners of the world, while timber streets are connecting the gates. Furthermore, a tower was built in the centre and surrounded by a total of 48 houses.
    The fortress of Fyrkat near Hobro in Northern Jutland was built around the 980s. Still today, the rampart offers an impressive view. North of the fortress, a cemetery indicates that Fyrkat was inhabited by both men, women and children – furthermore, it indicates that this fortress might have been built to maintain royal power. Outside the fortress, you can today find a reconstruction of one of the largest houses. It is 28.5 metres long and built of oak.
    Nonnebakken, which today is hidden beneath the modern city of Odense in Funen, was built around the year 980.  Due to its history and significant size, it is one of the largest and most important ancient monuments in the area. Nonnebakken (directly translated: ‘The Nun Hill’) was named after a nunnery located on the mound in the 12th century.
    The fortress Borgring (in English: ‘Fortress Ring’) was strategically located in front of Køge Bay in Zealand. From here, all traffic in and around the East Zealand area could be controlled and monitored ideally from here. With an inner diameter of 121.50 metre and ramparts about 10.5 metre wide, Borgring’s dimensions are very similar to the ones of the Fyrkat fortress. Borgring remains an archaeological mystery, and each summer, archaeologists visit the area to search for the secrets of the fortress. 
    The fortress of Trelleborg near Slagelse in West Zealand is located in the beautiful landscape of Tude Ådal. Through dendrochronological methods by dating timber from its moats, the fortress has been dated to around the year 980. Today, the remains of the great fortress can still be seen clearly, and visitors can explore the lives of the Vikings by visiting the reconstructed village of Slagløse.

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    Estonia Ranked One of the World’s Most Sustainable Destinations

    Estonia is the fifth most sustainable destination in the world according to the latest annual study from Euromonitor International. Estonia, certified as a Green Destination, has moved up five places in this years’ Sustainable Travel Index 2023, thanks to its approach to sustainable living and nature conservation.
    Over half of the country is forested and with some of the cleanest air in the world, sustainability is part of the Estonian ethos, some of the best examples of why Estonia has been rated so highly in the world rankings are:
    Tallinn is the European Green Capital 2023 – the beautiful city, with its UNESCO medieval old town and new urban redevelopments outside the city walls, can be explored on foot, by e-scooter or wider areas by eco-friendly trams and buses. A wide range of eco-conscious accommodations are available such as the Hektor Container Hotel and 40 properties have Green Key certification. Including Nordic Hotels and Oru.  The versatile range of restaurants offer high quality cuisine, using local ingredients and seasonal menus – most notable is Michelin Green star, zero-waste Fotografiska. There are also public drinking water taps across the city.
    An excellent array of sustainably focused shopping is available. Including fashion brand stores Reet Aus and Stella Soomlais; local markets such as the Katariina Guild and the Master’s Courtyard, where craftsmen and designers make products on site; the Baltic Station Market houses local produce, vintage and antique shops and Central Market which offers food and handicrafts.
    For a day trip out of Tallinn, take an hours’ drive to the crystal-clear blue lagoon of the submerged limestone Rummu Quarry. Its former prison, now underwater, has been converted into a nature reserve with watersports available on the lake and the area is great for hikes around the mountain, providing stunning panoramic views.ADVERTISEMENTGreen Pärnu – Discover the pretty coastal town of Pärnu, on foot or by bike, with its white sandy beach, promenade, and coastal meadown nature reserve. The town has been recognised by Green Destinations* as one of the top 100 sustainable destinations in the world. Green in the most literal sense – one-fifth is covered in forest groves, tree-lined avenues, parks, and home gardens. The sea, rivers, beaches, promenades, parks, and forest groves make Pärnu a place with unparalleled natural diversity.
    Sustainable Saaremaa – The island of Saaremaa, together with the other western islands, belongs to the UNESCO “Man and the Biosphere” programme. Home to the Vilsandi National Park, 20 protected nature and landscape reserves, and a few dozen nature and hiking trails. 36 flowering orchid species grow on Saaremaa, making the island popular among flower enthusiasts in spring. It is also a paradise for birdwatchers in autumn and spring as birds stop by during their annual migrations. The forest and the sea play a vital role in the diet of the islanders, restaurants often name the farm where ingredients are sourced. Fish caught in the morning is on the menu by lunchtime.
    The circular economy is important on Saaremaa, the Lahhentagge Distillery gives new life to city Christmas trees by making them into a tonic. Reed is a traditional local material and is used for roofs in many houses in older villages and innovative local stores are now using it as an alternative material to plastic for products.

    Tartu is European Capital of Culture in 2024 – Tartu, the cultural and learning centre of Estonia, is the European Capital of Culture 2024. The theme “Arts of Survival” will highlight the city’s environmentally friendly culture focusing on strong communities and essential skills for living and survival in the coming years. One of the remarkable projects in the Tartu 2024 programme is Curated Biodiversity which promotes the maintenance and restoration of biodiversity in Tartu’s parks and green spaces with activities for different generations.
    The city is compact and great for walking and cycling, offering an easy-to-use Smart Bike Share with over 750 bicycles or use the public bio-gas buses to explore. The Smart Bike Share and bio-gas buses can be combined as both ticketing systems use the same card.
    Each district of the city has diverse architecture, as part of the EU Smart City project, apartments built in the 1960s were turned into energy-efficient and environmentally friendly buildings and given a visually attractive appearance in-order to create a unique art-based urban space in the centre of Tartu, making the living environment happier and livelier.
    For more info on Estonia

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    More ski flights to Geneva announced for Winter 23/24 has expanded its programme of ski flights to its biggest ski destination – Geneva – on the back of strong demand from skiers and snowboarders. 
    The leading leisure airline has added more flights to Geneva from Leeds Bradford and Manchester Airports this coming winter, as snow sports fans rush to book their places on the slopes. 
    The announcement means that will operate up to 34 weekly ski flights to Geneva from nine UK airports in Winter 23/24. The expansion from Leeds Bradford and Manchester Airports means customers can now choose from up to eight weekly flights from each airport, providing even more choice with mid-week and long weekend options available. 
    Geneva offers ski enthusiasts some of the very best ski resorts across the Swiss and French Alps. It is regarded as one of the ultimate picks for skiers and snowboarders, with world-class resorts and ski areas such as Tignes, Flaine, Verbier and Zermatt all easily accessible from Geneva. In addition, the Three Valleys offers 600km of piste including Meribel and Val Thorens all for one ski pass. 
    As a result of today’s announcement, has 190,000 seats on sale between the UK and Geneva this winter, with flights on sale from the following airports:  ADVERTISEMENTLeeds Bradford – up to eight weekly services thanks to the addition of more Saturday services.  Manchester – up to eight weekly services thanks to the addition of more Sunday services.  Birmingham – up to five weekly services. London Stansted – up to seven weekly services. Edinburgh – up to two weekly services. Bristol, East Midlands, Glasgow and Newcastle International – weekly Saturday services. As well as having more choice when it comes to booking a spot on the slopes, skiers and snowboarders travelling to eight ski destinations this coming winter – including Geneva – with can also benefit from 50% off return ski carriage for a limited time only. 
    The offer applies if customers make a new booking between now and 25th September 2023 and travel between 1st November 2023 and 30th April 2024* to any of’s eight ski destinations – Chambery, Geneva, Grenoble, Salzburg, Innsbruck, Lyon, Turin and Barcelona (Andorra).
    Steve Heapy, CEO of said: “We are looking forward to an incredibly busy ski season, with customers clearly looking to get their place on the slopes booked in. With a wealth of world-class ski resorts on offer, Geneva is a mecca for snow sports fans and we are delighted to be expanding our programme even further this coming winter in response to the demand we are seeing. Thanks to our award-winning customer service and fantastic ski carriage offer for Winter 22/23 ski flight bookings, there’s no better time to be booking your place on the slopes with us than right now!”

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    Travel & Tourism sector now worth more than quarter of a trillion sterling says WTTC

    The World Travel & Tourism Council’s (WTTC) 2023 Economic Impact Research (EIR) today reveals the UK Travel & Tourism sector is forecast to exceed the 2019 peak this year.The sector is set to contribute £252.4BN to the UK economy this year, surpassing the 2019 pre-pandemic high of £248.5BN.
    WTTC is also forecasting that the sector will create almost 380,000 jobs this year, recovering almost all of the jobs lost due to the COVID 19 pandemic to reach more than 4MN, with around one in nine workers in the UK, in the Travel & Tourism sector.
    International visitor spend to the UK is forecast to reach £26.18BN, just 6% behind the 2019 peak of £38.6BN.
    A look back on last year
    Last year, the sector’s GDP contribution grew by 65% to reach more than £237BN, representing 9.5% of the economy, edging closer to the 2019 high of 9.9% of the economy.ADVERTISEMENTLast year the sector also created 1.1MN more jobs from the previous year to reach 3.6MN jobs nationally – one in 10 jobs across the UK.
    The sector has now recovered 1.5MN of the 1.7MN jobs lost during the pandemic.
    Last year also saw the return of international travellers heading to the UK with spending from overseas visitors growing over 300% from 2021 to reach almost £30BN.
    Domestic visitor spend fully recovered in 2022 to match the pre-pandemic high of £165BN, showing that whilst the UK has taken longer to attract high spending overseas visitors, the staycation is here to stay.
    Julia Simpson, WTTC President & CEO, said: “Travel & Tourism creates one in every ten jobs in the UK. It contributes over £250bn a year to the UK economy.
    “Whilst our forecasts show the sector will reach a quarter of a trillion pounds this year, and predicts international visitor spend will recover by early next year, the UK Government should be aiming higher.
    “The recovery and long-term growth of the sector is at risk with the self-axing of VAT-free shopping for international tourists. We will continue to see high-value tourists choosing France and Italy over the UK and taking with them economic value and jobs.”
    What does the next decade look like?
    The global tourism body is forecasting that the sector will grow its GDP contribution to almost £315BN by 2033, nearly 11% of the UK economy and will employ over 5MN people across the country, with one in seven Brits working in the sector.
    In 2022, the European Travel & Tourism sector contributed €1.9TN to the regional economy, just 7% below the 2019 peak. WTTC forecasts the region’s GDP contribution from the sector will reach more than €2TN in 2023 – within touching distance of the 2019 highpoint.
    The sector employed almost 35MN people across the region in 2022, an increase of 2.9MN from the previous year but still 3.2MN behind pre-pandemic levels. WTTC forecasts the sector will fully recover the jobs lost during the pandemic by the end of 2024.
    For more information, please visit WTTC Research Hub

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    Untamed Borders Launches a Second Virtual Tour Route of Afghanistan

    Afghanistan’s first ever female tour guide is launching a second virtual tour with Untamed Borders, after the success of her first online sessions, showcasing Herat.
    Fatima Haidari used to offer in person guiding around the city with the adventure travel company, but had to flee for her safety when the Taliban retook control of the nation in 2021.
    Ever since Fatima has offered online tours for tourists from around the world and will soon be launching a new route covering Central Afghanistan.
    The new offering, which includes a Q&A session with Fatima, will cover an area spanning from the capital Kabul in the east, to the central Bamian Province, Ghor Province and finishing in Herat, in the west.
    Virtual tourism is a fast-growing industry – a report by Fortune Business Insights found the virtual tour software market is expected to grow from $384million in 2023 to $941.3million by 2030.ADVERTISEMENTIn the past year alone the industry grew by around $44million.
    The COVID pandemic played an important role in making tourism providers, tourist boards and museums think differently about how they deliver their services or showcase their venues, during the times of restrictions.
    This opened many people’s eyes to the benefits of virtual tours, helping transport people to locations, attractions or museums for a fraction of the price of a holiday.
    This trend has continued post pandemic, with more people now eco-conscious and the cost-of-living crisis, in places like the UK, having an impact on how much disposal income people have.
    Virtual tours allow people to sample corners of the globe, which they may never otherwise have opportunity to travel to, and are an accessible form of tourism, which has little impact on the environment, especially in comparison to flying.
    Untamed Borders Founder James Willcox says, “We never envisaged running virtual tours, but when Fatima had to leave Afghanistan, we wanted to find a way to support her.
    Fatima has always been an excellent tour guide, and we really enjoyed working with her in Herat, so helping Fatima to continue her work in some way was important to us.
    The tours offer a fascinating insight into life in Afghanistan and although virtual tourism will never replace the sensory overload of an actual trip to a country, they offer the next best thing for someone who can’t travel to the nation.”
    New virtual tour includes one Afghanistan’s most beautiful regions
    For Fatima the new virtual tour, which she will be offering through Untamed Borders, has a particularly special place in her heart.
    It includes the stunning Bamian Province, an area of immense natural beauty, which includes the beautiful Band-e-Amir Lakes and National Park, which became Afghanistan’s first national park in 2009.
    This region is symbolic – historically women in Bamian Province enjoyed relatively more freedom than elsewhere in the country, however, this has also recently changed under the Taliban – with women banned from Band-e-Amir.
    Fatima says people deserve to be able to see this natural gem and she is looking forward to showing the positive side of her nation…
    “Bamian has always been my favourite place, it’s a paradise and traditionally peaceful, with beauty and also freedom for men and women.
    I was also born in Ghor Province, lived in Herat for many years, where I also guided, and I’ve spent time in Kabul.
    So for me, this new virtual tour feels like a personal journey.”
    For Fatima, the virtual tours are helping her to remain in close connection with her homeland and serve a greater purpose than just showcasing the nation’s beauty, as Fatima explains….
    “I feel like I’m fighting back against the Taliban and defying their restrictions.
    I’m not only personally disobeying their restrictions, but I am also helping to support 4 regular classes for women to study in Afghanistan and other people are helping too.”
    New virtual tour helps fund women’s education in Afghanistan
    Behind closed doors women in Afghanistan are taking a stand, with some brave women setting up secret schools.
    The risks are high, but the uptake is increasing, with projects like Untamed Borders’ virtual tours, providing a vital source of funding to pay for the teachers’ time, along with books and other learning material at the classes, as Fatima explains…
    “At the classes the aim is to offer the girls and women English skills, which can help create opportunities abroad.
    The sessions also offer the women mental health support and advice, with many people suffering mental health difficulties due to the changes brought in by the Taliban.
    The aim is to help empower women, offer support, some language skills and give them more information about women’s rights.”.
    Along with Fatima’s own work to support these classes financially, some guests on the virtual tours also kindly donate personally to help further the work.
    The Afghanistan Central Route virtual tour with Fatima launches in October, with the first session bookable now on the Untamed Borders website.
    Fatima is also continuing with her Herat virtual tours, which are also bookable on the Untamed Borders website.

    What’s New This Winter, in La Plagne, France?

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    What’s New This Winter, in La Plagne, France?

    More than 60 years ago, La Plagne was created. To do so, men shaped mountains to construct the resort we know, and love. Today, faced with our current challenges, it’s becoming increasingly apparent that the mountains, in fact, shape us.
    They provide mental benefits such as relaxation, boosting creativity, reducing stress and anxiety, stimulating humility and encouraging us to reflect. Taking all this on board, La Plagne continually strives to read the lines of the future and promote, and practice, sustainable methods, meaning future generations can gain value from the magnificent peaks too.
    Nowadays, La Plagne comprises 11 sites, all with different personalities. Seven of these sit between 1,800-2,050 metres and were built from scratch between the 1960s and 1990s. Four of these are more traditional villages at an altitude of 1,250 metres, that existed before the ski area was created. Think wood-and-stone chalets, small residences, and farms surrounded by trees and clearings. Along with 225 km of pistes (60% of which are easy greens and cruisy blues) guests can also try the Olympic bobsleigh, luge and skeleton track, plus ice climbing tower. In addition, alight a horse-drawn sleigh, board a sled pulled by huskies, jump off the mountain in a tandem paraglide, sink into a hot tub at the spa, or give Nordic skiing a go.
    On a bigger scale, La Plagne is part of the renowned Paradiski area, home to 425 km of skiing with Les Arcs and Peisey-Vallandry. This winter will mark 20 years since the launch of the Vanoise Express, the exceptional cable car that links the two mountains, and these three resorts, together. To celebrate this exciting milestone, a programme is being created for the many skiers and snowboarders, and a new Paradiski logo has been designed. 
    But that’s not all that’s new – La Plagne has a few more surprises on offer; read on to find out more…ADVERTISEMENTDON’T MISS OUT ON THESE EXPERIENCES
    Learn how to pilot a bobsleighFollow in the footsteps of the cast from ‘Cool Runnings’ and try piloting a bobsleigh for a day in this brand-new activity. This thrilling experience includes a track walk (just like the pros when they study the best line down) two descents in a two-person bobsleigh (one as a pilot, and the other as a passenger) and a technical (and emotional) debriefing. Throughout the day, guests will be supervised by a professional pilot, plus French bobsleigh federation-certified instructors. This unique opportunity will run on 12 January 2024 and 9 February 2024 (eight people maximum, minimum age 16).Price is €590 / £505 pp, helmet and crampons included.
    Enjoy a slow immersion at Plan BoisVillage Plan Bois has created several slow immersion experiences on a small mountain in La Plagne. Leave the main resort, and head into the trees for a wealth of remarkable environmental activities. Try a sled ride pulled by dogs, relax during a sophrology session in the forest, and spend the night in an igloo, wood cabin or tent (weather dependent). The whole idea of this new area is to preserve nature and raise awareness of the need to respect the site and its inhabitants. This experimental venture is also part of La Plagne’s Flocon Vert certification process and is accessible to skiers and those on foot.
    Head off on a snowshoe hike…Try two different snowshoe experiences this winter – one with local, Matthieu, and the other with Evvo Snowshoes. Matthieu takes guests on discreet two-and-a-half-hour adventures around Champagny-le-Haut, with the main aim of the hike being not to encounter any wild animals (as otherwise they will have been disturbed). During the walk, Matthieu will also raise awareness of the role of glaciers and the fragility of the mountain ecosystems, while staying away from the beaten path. Price from €25 / £21 pp for half a day. On the other hand, Evvo Snowshoes have created new snowshoes so guests don’t have to walk duck footed anymore. Made 100% in France, the ‘shoes have a 90% bio-sourced sole (developed with Michelin) that is compact, ergonomic and lighter. Rental from €8 / £7 pp for half a day, or from €30 / £26 pp for a guided two-hour-and-45-minute hike. Minimum age 10.
    Ride Les Glaciers GondolaOnce the final skiers left the mountain last April, the famous Bellecôte Gondola was dismantled, and the 102 cabins went up for auction. These vintage bubbles, dating from 1973, had a starting price of €500 / £430 each and sold in just one-and-a-half-hours. On 16 December 2023, a brand-new lift, Les Glaciers Gondola, will whisk guests up the mountain. Although the departure point is still the same (Roche de Mio) the cables follow a different trajectory and arrive at a new sector that is anchored into the rock, at an altitude of 3,080 metres. This new gondola features 10 cabins, can carry 2,700 people per hour, and has an ascent time of 10 minutes. On reaching the top, pause at the brand-new Live 3000 ski area – admire the panoramic view or enjoy a snack at Le Sixième Ciel café, which feels like a cosy refuge with a sunny terrace – before setting off down the mountain.
    Check out the grocery store and restaurant in LongefoyThis summer, couple Arnaud and Marie-Cécile Defayet, have injected a new life into the old fruitière in Longefoy. Working with many of the locals, they have refurbished the whole building – from using personalised wallpaper to finding an old copper cauldron – to create a grocery shop selling organic produce, a café with outdoor seating, a wine and spirits cellar with a tasting menu, and a bistro-restaurant with plenty of homemade dishes to choose from. The personalised wallpaper uses period images and handwritten notes by the villagers from the dairy register, creating a lovely, lively address where the past, present and future of the village are inextricably linked. L’Autrefoy is open year round for lunch and dinner, with products costs from €20 / £17.
    In April 2023, La Plagne achieved the ‘Zero Carbon Mountain’ Award at the Alpipro trade show. This reward recognises the resort’s commitment to energy transition following the drafting of the Corporate Social Responsibility report, the preparation of working on the destination’s carbon footprint, and the launch of the process to obtain the Mountain Rider’s Association’s Flocon Vert label. In addition, La Plagne hosted its first zero waste on the mountain operation, when five simultaneous waste collections were organised across the resort on 2 June 2023. 350 people participated, and more than a tonne of litter was collected in 90 minutes.
    La Plagne is continually highlighting ways to reach the resort by public transport. Picking these methods, instead of flying and/or driving, can use around 66-80 percent less carbon. The new Eurostar Snow train, departing every Saturday from London St Pancras (and returning every Sunday from France) makes the journey to Aime-la-Plagne incredibly easy (with just one change at Lille). From there, SNCF and Altibus are more than happy to take a pair of skis or snowboard in addition to main bags when transporting guests around the villages. And La Plagne’s very own online travel agency, La Plagne Resort, only proposes train or bus travel in its all-inclusive packages for long-distance journeys to the resort. And if that’s not enough incentive to travel by train, guests can now make the most of a Beaufort Cheese Vending Machine next to the platform at Aime.
    En route up to La Plagne, why not make the most of the second hand ski gear shop, Antropia, which opened in Aime in spring 2023? Through its network, Antropia collects skiwear from the different socio-professional groups across local resorts, works with its partner – One Tree at a Time – to remove any branding and labels, and then lists it for sale in the shop. After purchasing an outfit for a fraction of the price of a brand-new one, guests can continue to Plagne Centre and rent a pair of second-hand skis from Ski Hut. Taking on top-quality (but used) skis, Ski Hut will completely recondition them before introducing them back into the rental circuit at unbeatable prices. Finally, instead of throwing away damaged clothing, drop it off at Belle Plagne Sports – one of five partner shops of Lyon brand, Goodloop, specialising in the repair and alteration of technical wear. Two weeks later, the clothing is ready for its next adventure on the slopes… All this promotes less waste and greater savings.
    For more information on La Plagne, please visit or call 04 79 09 02 01. Alternatively, please find their latest press pack here:
    La Plagne’s ski season begins on 16 December 2023 and ends on 28 April 2024.
    A six-day lift pass for Paradiski costs €369 / £316 per adult or €296 / £253 per child (age 5-12 inclusive)
    Getting to La Plagne could not be easier: it is within a 90-minute drive from three main airports, Geneva, Grenoble, and Lyon. Either hire a car from the airport, book one of the transfer companies or take the bus. Alternatively, La Plagne is one of the ski resorts you can reach easily on the train. Eurostar Snow train offers rail service from London St Pancras International to the Aime-la-Plagne (with a change at Lille). Trains will depart London St Pancras International on Saturdays and return to London on Sundays. Otherwise, snow enthusiasts can always jump in their car and drive to La Plagne using LeShuttle or one of the ferry companies to cross the English Channel. There are plenty of car parks once in resort too. 
    Book a ski holiday to La Plagne using La Plagne’s travel agency, La Plagne Resort:

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    Thailand grants visa exemption to Chinese and Kazakhstani tourists from 25 September 2023

    The Royal Thai Government led by Prime Minister H.E. Mr. Srettha Thavisin has announced the temporary tourist visa exemption scheme to passport holders of the People’s Republic of China and Republic of Kazakhstan effective from 25 September 2023 to 29 February 2024, to achieve this year’s tourism revenue target of 2.38 trillion Baht.Chinese and Kazakhstani nationals will be granted a temporary visa exemption for a 30-day stay on tourism purpose in Thailand during the five-month visa exemption period.
    H.E. Ms. Sudawan Wangsuphakijkosol, Ministry of Tourism and Sports, said “This stimulus visa scheme forms part of the government’s Quick-win measures announced on 11 September 2023 to achieve the long-term goal and boost the Thai economy through travel and tourism. It will help stimulate inbound travel from China which is one of Thailand’s key source tourist markets and Kazakhstan which is considered an emerging market, especially during this coming high tourist season. Ultimately, it will help revive Thai tourism and reach the revenue target set for this year.”
    During the five-month visa exemption period, Thailand is expected to welcome 1,912,000 to 2,888,500 Chinese tourists – a year-on-year growth of about 41-62% – and generate a tourism income of around 92.58-140 billion Baht. From Kazakhstan, Thailand has forecasted 129,485 Kazakhstani tourists – a 49.73% increase over the same period last year – and 7.93 billion Baht in revenue.
    Ms. Thapanee Kiatphaibool, Governor of the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT), said “The ‘ease of travelling’ policy will enable tourists to save time and spending on visa application and fee, making it easier for tourists to decide to travel to Thailand. With the visa exemption scheme, Thailand could expect to welcome around 4.04-4.4 million Chinese tourists in 2023 and achieve the forecasted revenue target of 257,500 million Baht.”
    From 1 January to 10 September 2023, Thailand recorded 2,284,281 Chinese visitors, making China the second largest source of tourist markets after Malaysia. Without the visa exemption scheme, Thailand is expected to see 3,470,430 Chinese visitors in 2023 – about 31% of the recorded year in 2019 – and generate 174,358 million Baht.ADVERTISEMENTThe stimulus visa scheme takes effect just ahead of the Golden Week, one of the longest holidays in China, from 1-8 October 2023. During the weeklong holiday in China, airlines have announced their readiness to operate charter flights, increase flight frequencies, and introduce new routes between cities in China and Thailand including Chengdu – Samui, Beijing – Chiang Mai, Guangzhou – Chiang Mai, Shanghai – Chiang Mai, Shanghai – Phuket, Guangzhou – Phuket, and Kunming – Hat Yai.
    “From Kazakhstan, Thailand expects the visa exemption scheme to help reach 180,000 tourists by the end of this year,” Ms. Thapanee added.
    From 1 January to 10 September 2023, Thailand saw a record 108,636 tourists from Kazakhstan. Phuket is the favourite destination among Kazakhstani tourists.
    The visa exemption scheme extended to Chinese and Kazakhstani tourists forms is expected to help revive Thai tourism and achieve this year’s target of 25-30 million tourists and 2.38 trillion Baht in revenue.
    The policy is also expected to help fuel tourism growth through to 2024, reflecting the government’s policy that places tourism as a key mechanism for driving the Thai economy and making Thailand the preferred destination for travellers from around the world.


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