WHAT’S HAPPENING IN THE UK TRAVEL INDUSTRY:
Expansion plans boosted by Luton airport agreement. Luton airport’s owner and operator, London Luton Airport Limited and London Luton Airport Operations Limited, are set to submit plans in the autumn to extend the airport. The announcement follows news of the newly signed contract allowing London Luton Airport to continue to be managed, operated and developed by LLAOL through to 2031. Any increase in capacity at the airport will take place within the existing boundary and use the existing runway.
Ikea prepares to move into hotel market. The Swedish furniture giant Ikea is looking to move into the hospitality sector with plans in place to open at least 100 new hotels. Reports in the Financial Times suggested the budget retailer will consider sites across the European market employing the philosophy of the Swedish giant. Ikea will not operate the hotels directly and the brand will not be associated with the project.
New Sri Lanka flight launched by British Airways. The UK airline is planning to launch a new route from Gatwick to Sri Lanka, via the Maldives next year. British Airways will operate to Colombo three times a week from March 31, with a B777 with three cabins on the route. According to BA’s managing director, the UK has the second largest number of tourists visiting the island after India. Return economy class fares will start from £595.
WHAT’S HAPPENING IN THE UK ECONOMY:
Retail sales rise pointing to stronger UK economy. Results published by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show better-than-expected retail sales figures. The news has raised hopes that the UK's recession may not be as deep as initially thought. According to the ONS, sales volumes in July rose by 0.3%, and were up 2.8% from a year earlier. Analysts now believe that initial estimates that the economy shrank by 0.7% in the April-to-June quarter were overly pessimistic.
UK unemployment levels drop to lowest in a year. In Britain, the number of unemployed people fell by 46,000 in the three months to the end of June, bringing the unemployment rate down to eight per cent from 8.2 per cent in the first quarter. The UK economy has added about half a million jobs since 2010 and the number of people in employment rose by 201,000 - the biggest quarterly increase for almost two years. The employment rate is now at its highest level in more than three years.
Bosses claim TUI still needs independents. TUI Travel Plc still needs the support of independent travel agents, despite now having 90% of its distribution in-house, believe senior travel executives. TTG Digital reported the news after TUI Travel revealed its interim management statement highlighting that 90% of its booked holidays this summer were through controlled channels [in-house] – up six percentage points on last year. Gary Lewis, chief executive of The Travel Network Group, told TTG “[the travel giant] still needs travel agents to fill the most profitable part of this business.”
WHAT THE UK PAPERS ARE SAYING:
London 2012 organisers awarded Olympic Orders. London 2012 organisers have been awarded for their hard work with Olympic Orders. The Olympic Orders were in recognition of their hard work and achievements over the last seven years. Jacques Rogge, president of the International Olympic Committee, presented gold Olympic Orders – the highest award of the Olympic Movement – to Seb Coe, chair of the London 2012 Organising Committee (LOCOG), and to Paul Deighton, LOCOG chief executive.
Thousands more tickets on sale for the Paralympic Games. Paralympics organisers have put 45,000 more tickets on sale in addition to the 20,000 already available for the opening and closing ceremonies. The majority of the tickets are for athletics but they are also for events including cycling, equestrian and wheelchair basketball. Around 2.2 million Paralympics tickets have been sold so far, with 2.5 million expected to be made available in total.
Palace says Prince Philip responding well to treatment. Following HRH The Duke of Edinburgh’s admission to hospital on Wednesday, Buckingham Palace has announced that Prince Philip has responded well to treatment for a recurring bladder infection. It is likely that The Duke of Edinburgh, who is 91-years-old, will remain in hospital for a few more days. Prince Phillip originally had an infection in June, after attending events to mark the Queen's Diamond Jubilee. He spent five nights in hospital but recovered well.
And on a lighter note...
Loving Dalmatian adopts abandoned 'sheep in dog's clothing'. An abandoned lamb is getting used to living a dog's life having been adopted by a loving dalmatian after it was rejected by its mother, reports the Metro. Dubbed a 'sheep in dog's clothing', the lamb's black and white coat has helped him form a strong bond with dalmatian Zoe on a farm in Barossa Valley, Australia. According to breeders John and Julie Bolton, the unlikely pair have become completely inseparable since being introduced earlier this month.
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