China’s top diplomat starts weeklong Europe tour in Paris

PARIS (AP) — China’s top diplomat, Wang Yi, had talks with French President Emmanuel Macron about the war in Ukraine on Wednesday at the start of his trip to Europe, amid renewed tensions between China and the United States.

Wang, the director of the Office of the Central Commission for Foreign Affairs, met with Macron behind closed doors at the Elysee Palace.

Macron’s office said they especially discussed the consequences of Russia’s war in Ukraine on the world’s most vulnerable nations regarding food security and financing capacities. They expressed “the same objective of contributing to peace in line with international law,” the statement said.

Macron also detailed the goals of a summit focusing on preserving forests that France will co-preside in Libreville, Gabon, on March 2, amid other climate-related issues, his office said.

Wang later met with French Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna. He is scheduled on Thursday to participate in a session of the French-Chinese strategic dialogue with Macron’s top diplomatic adviser to discuss bilateral projects.

The French capital is the first stop on Wang’s tour of Europe. In the coming days, he will also travel to Italy, Hungary, Russia and Germany. He is expected to deliver a speech at the Munich Security Conference that starts on Friday.

Wang’s weeklong tour of Europe is seen as part of China’s efforts to restore ties with European nations at a time of rising tensions between the world’s two largest economies — China and the United States — following the U.S. shooting down of a suspected Chinese spy balloon earlier this month.

The trip comes amid China’s persistent efforts to push back against Western pressure on trade, technology, human rights and its claims to a broad swath of the western Pacific. China’s refusal to condemn the invasion of Ukraine nearly a year ago,

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Tanzania Tour Operators Association rolls out plan for startups

The key driver of Tanzania’s tourism industry has unveiled its most ambitious plan of supporting local entrepreneurs to venture into tourism.

The Tanzania Association of Tour Operators (TATO) has so far assisted 17 out of 50 targeted entrants into the tourism industry in its latest efforts to create new employers and taxpayers.

Handing over the document for the first batch of entrepreneurs, TATO CEO, Mr. Sirili Akko, said his organization is keen to support startups to navigate through the intricate and costly process of formalizing their businesses.

“Minimum, it costs $86,500 to comply with registration and formalization of a tour company,” said Mr. Akko, explaining that $80,000 is for a tourist converted vehicle and $6,500 for regulatory bodies licenses fees, provisional tax, website, and lawyer’s charges.

These costs, he said, are prohibitive by any standards because a person with interest to venture into the tourism industry is faced with having to raise such an amount even before doing business. “And this is after the government trim-down [of] a compulsory number of vehicles for a new entrant into [the] tourism industry from three to one at the moment,” Mr. Akko noted.

Mosses Anderson, Godlisten William, and Charles Minja are the grateful pioneer beneficiaries of the TATO project.

“I’ve been craving to own my own tour company for 15 good years, but owing to the costs, I couldn’t.”

“I’m more than happy for TATO’s generous support that enabled me to realize my dream,” said Mr. Minja who vowed to work extremely hard to create employment for young professionals.   

Meanwhile, TATO Chairman, Mr. Wilbard Chambulo, has pleaded with the government to create a conducive business environment in order to boost tourist numbers, as well as extend length of stay and revenues.


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Tui sees record bookings as travel recovery remains on track

Holiday firm Tui has cheered a record jump in bookings for summer 2023 as demand for overseas breaks continues to rebound.

The travel giant said it nearly halved losses in its first quarter to December 31 to 153 million euros (£134 million) down from losses of 273.6 million (£241.3 million) a year earlier.

It carried 3.3 million customers in the quarter, up by one million on a year ago, and said it had seen “significant” bookings with record days for holidays sold online in both the UK and Germany.

Tui said booking numbers in the last four weeks surpassed levels seen before the pandemic struck, up by 5% for winter 2022-23 and 10% ahead for summer 2023, despite higher prices.

But the figures come after industry data on Monday showed Tui was overtaken by rival Jet2holidays to become the UK’s largest tour operator for the first time.

Data published by the Civil Aviation Authority showed Jet2holidays is licensed to provide package holidays to 5.9 million people in the year to the end of September.

That is compared with 5.3 million for Tui.

But Tui’s chief executive Sebastian Ebel said bookings were “encouraging” and reiterated the firm is set to see a “significant” jump in underlying earnings over the full year.

He said: “Our strategy is clear: quality, cost discipline and winning market share.”

He added: “We agreed on a clear programme in late summer, which is currently being implemented.

“The swift implementation of the strategy is having an effect.

“At the same time, we see the encouraging booking momentum for summer 2023, especially in the last few weeks.

“Both factors strengthen our expectations: We want to significantly increase our underlying EBIT (earnings before interest and taxes) in the full year 2023.”

Demand for holidays has so far ramped up despite

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Is it safe to travel to Turkey? Latest FCDO travel advice explained as earthquake death toll rises

The death toll from a devastating earthquake that struck Turkey and Syria has now passed 35,000, making it one of the world’s worst natural disasters in the past decade.

In the early hours of Monday 6 February, a powerful 7.8 magnitude quake hit Gaziantep in the south-east of Turkey.

This was followed by another 7.5 magnitude tremor in the neighbouring province of Kahramanmaras later that day.

Thousands of rescue teams searched for survivors among the rubble of decimated towns and cities in south-eastern Turkey and northern Syria, with the UN warning that the death toll is likely to climb far higher.

The Turkish government has declared a national emergency in 10 provinces affected by the earthquake:

  • Gaziantep
  • Hatay
  • Osmaniye
  • Adıyaman
  • Diyarbakır
  • Sanliurfa
  • Kahramanmaras
  • Kilis
  • Adana
  • Malatya

Here’s everything you need to know if you were planning to travel to Turkey from the UK.

People walk among rubble, in the aftermath of the deadly earthquake, in Elbistan town, Kahramanmaras, Turkey February 12, 2023. REUTERS/Issam Abdallah
People walk among rubble, in the aftermath of the deadly earthquake, in Elbistan town, Kahramanmaras (Photo: Reuters)

Is it safe to travel to Turkey?

Following the earthquakes, the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) updated its guidance for people visiting Turkey from the UK.

It advises: “The Turkish government has stated that only vehicles which carry aid teams and aid materials will be allowed to enter cities deemed to be inside the area of the disaster.

“If you are in the affected area, you should exercise caution and follow the advice of the local authorities.”

For people who require consular assistance, the FCDO has a 24-hour helpline you can contact at +90 312 455 3344, selecting the option of “consular services for British nationals”. It also has a web contact form, which you can access here.

More on Turkey-Syria earthquake

The FCDO also directs UK travellers to AFAD, the Turkish disaster management service, which operates a

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Jet2 PLC flys past Tui to UK tour operator top spot

Jet2 PLC (AIM:JET2) has overtaken Tui to become the UK’s largest tour operator for the first time after it increased its package holiday capacity for the year ahead.

Jet2holidays, a subsidiary of Jet2 and counterpart to the group’s low-cost airline, has gained licences to provide holidays for up to 5.9mln people annually, according to the Civil Aviation Authority, compared to Tui’s capacity of 5.3mln.

Capacity has been increased by around 600,000 due to a resurgence in demand seen across the aviation industry over the last year with trips now offered to 65 destinations.

Steve Heapy, chief executive, suggested independent travel agents had been vital for Jet2’s growth since its maiden flight in 2007.

“The loyalty of those independent travel agency partners has been absolutely integral to our growth and success,” he said, “I can promise we will repay that faith by continuing to focus resolutely on our partnership approach to working with independent travel agents”.

Tui is set to report first-quarter results on Tuesday, with analysts suggesting the German holidaymaker would likely publish a mixed set of results as it continues repaying aid sent by the government during the pandemic.

Jet2 updated that bookings had strengthened throughout December and January, with package holidays making up around 60% of its winter departures.

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Be at Rugby World Cup 2023 in France with Gullivers Sports Travel

RWC 2023 kicks off later this year in France – and you can be there with Gullivers Sports Travel

The Rugby World Cup 2023 is taking place this year, so why not experience France and watch the all-important matches with Gullivers Sports Travel.

Visit the world-renowned Paris and visit the famous sites you’ve only seen from afar. Escape to Bordeaux and spend an afternoon trying the exquisite wines from the famous vineyards.

Stroll along the Promenade des anglaise in Nice whilst trying the many gelato flavours on offer, or why not extend your tour and visit many of the beautiful areas France has to offer, with fantastic rugby as the piece de resistance! Gullivers tours could allow you to try all that and more.

As the UK’s leading and longest-established rugby tour operator, Gullivers Sports Travel are now in their ninth appointment as an Official Rugby World Cup Travel Agent. Gullivers offer a variety of great value packages, from short match-breaks to longer trips which cover the full tournament.

You can curate your Gullivers trip to get the most out of your Rugby World Cup experience, with accommodation and match tickets guaranteed.

Packages will follow home nations such as England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland but packages are also available to see current World Cup holders South Africa, the legendary All Blacks and host nation, France, in action.

So why not experience the best of France and immerse yourself in what the host nation has to offer with peace of mind, knowing everything has been taken care of with Gullivers Sports Travel.

Visit Gullivers Sports Travel now to book your Rugby World Cup 2023 experience.

Download the digital edition of Rugby World straight to your tablet or subscribe to the print edition to get the magazine delivered

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‘Travel is back’ PTAA’s 30th Travel Tour Expo draws mammoth crowd after pandemic years

Bargain hunters filled the SMX Convention Center in Pasay City last February  3-5, 2023, bringing home with them the best travel deals and discounts, marking another successful trade run for the Philippine Travel Agencies Association (PTAA).

Travel Tour Expo PTAA

The annual Travel Tour Expo (TTE) drew in more than 91,000 visitors in its three-day run, matching pre-pandemic numbers. TTE Chairman Michelle G. Taylan said that they wanted the pearl anniversary of the expo to serve as a “huge economic boost” and to encourage more Filipinos to travel in the post-pandemic world. 

No less than President Bongbong Marcos congratulated the association for mounting yet another successful travel trade event, despite the challenges to the sector. 

“[The tourism industry] is poised to recover its vibrancy prior to the pandemic,” President Marcos said. 

After mounting relatively scaled down expos in the past years due to COVID-19, the organizers were able to deliver on their promise to go bigger than ever, with as much as 70 percent off on airfares and travel packages. More than 300 exhibitors occupied around a thousand booths participated in this year’s expo, which include airlines, travel agencies, tour operators, hotels, cruise liners, and more. 

“We in the PTAA are very thankful and very proud of what we have accomplished. We managed to pull together and stand as one through ups and downs. Lahat ng pinaghirapan namin in the past years, we see it bear fruit now and we’re so happy ,” Taylan said. 

Travel Tour Expo PTAA

The event featured new additions to the program, including the first-ever conference with tourism speakers and a cultural dance competition – which was participated by different schools and regions. Lyceum of the Philippines University-Manila was hailed champion in the cultural dance competition. 

The 30TH Travel Tour Expo has gathered a number of sponsors and partners to make all

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Win a six-night railway Scotland tour with Ffestiniog Travel

The clue

“At last! Lancashire’s hills,” proclaims my friend, soaking up the scenery. Well, yes, in a sense they are — even though we’re in the wrong county. But I don’t like the look of those clouds. I may have promised Friend a big walk, but the weather suggests it’s a valley day, not an upland one.

So instead we visit a National Trust beauty spot nearby. It’s centred on one of the area’s many 19th-century industrial relics, which — thanks to a sustainable makeover 18 years ago — is as interesting as the woods and gritstone rock around it.

I tell Friend we must follow its beck until it reaches a market town, two miles southeast, that’s found fame in a television series. Meanwhile, he grumbles about the lack of promised hill-walking. “You’re all mouth and no trousers,” he mutters as we wander the streets. “Unlike this town,” I tell him — then whisk him off to a second market town, four miles southwest of the first.

Friend is impressed by its neoclassical town hall, opened in the mid-1870s. “Oh, there’s nothing shoddy about this place,” I tell him. “Although you couldn’t say that about some towns east of here. Shall we take a look?”

“No, we’re going for a walk,” he insists.

When I remind him how hard it can rain in these parts, his patience snaps. “Stop trying to police my day!” he cries.

Half an hour later we’re on the moors, above a reservoir, three miles northeast of the first valley town. “Happy?” I ask.

“As an escaped convict,” he purrs.

The questions

1 What’s the name of the National Trust beauty spot?
2 What’s the name of the second market town?

The prize

The winner and guest will enjoy a six-night, self-guided Highland

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Jet2holidays overtakes Tui to become UK’s largest tour operator

Jet2holidays has overtaken Tui to become the UK’s largest tour operator for the first time.

Data published by the Civil Aviation Authority shows Jet2holidays is licensed to provide package holidays to 5.9 million people in the year to the end of September.

That is compared with 5.3 million for Tui.

Becoming the UK’s largest tour operator is a significant milestone

Steve Heapy, Jet2holidays

Jet2holidays will operate its largest summer programme this year, featuring 65 destinations.

Chief executive Steve Heapy said: “Becoming the UK’s largest tour operator is a significant milestone in the history of Jet2holidays, but it will not change a single thing that we do.

“Our continued success is because we have the best team in the industry who work tirelessly to look after our customers, and we will never lose sight of that fundamental principle.”

The Leeds-based company, launched in 2007, was widely praised for its handling of customer refunds for trips cancelled due to coronavirus restrictions.

Tour operators determine how many passengers they are licensed to provide package holidays to based on a combination of bookings already received and expected future sales.

Jet2holidays decided to increase its total for the year to the end of September by around 600,000 in response to recent demand.

Atol protects package holiday customers if their travel organiser fails by ensuring they are not stranded abroad or lose money.

Jet2holidays’ sister airline celebrated the 20th anniversary of its first flight – from Leeds Bradford airport to Amsterdam – on Sunday.

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Thai woman slashes Chinese tourist in row over Phuket tour package (video)

An angry Thai tour company owner slashed a Chinese tourist’s arm after a row over a tour package in Phuket. As a result, the woman’s tourism license has been suspended for six months from today and she faces imprisonment and a fine.

The Chinese victim revealed the story of her horrific trip to Phuket on TikTok. In the victim’s video caption, the woman says her family booked a one-day tour to Similan Island with Blue Ocean Travel on January 29 to travel on the next day.

The package cost 9,000 baht and they paid 5,000 baht as a deposit. The trip included a pick-up service from their hotel and a boat trip to the island.

The family waited for the tour operator to pick them up, but no one showed up. After trying to contact the tour company for an hour, the family eventually discovered that the staff had gone to the wrong hotel.

The family immediately cancelled the tour and asked for their deposit back because they thought they had been scammed. The company refused to return the money.

According to Chinese tourists, the female owner of the tour company arrived at their hotel in a fit of anger. She kicked the woman and slashed her arm.

The tourists said they reported the issue to the Thai police. The police went to suppress the incident and negotiated until they got the money back.

The tourists were disappointed the police did not issue any charges against the female attacker.

To maintain a positive image of Thai tourism in both Chinese and international communities, officers from Karon Police Station promptly launched an investigation into the case.

Karon Police Station Superintendent Khundate Na Nongkhai reported that the accused was 44 year old Wiree Sawangwit.

Wiree was questioned today at

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