The JungleJuly 23, 20183min0

AccorHotels joins with Katara for US$1bn African investment fund

Katara Hospitality and AccorHotels have announced the creation of an investment fund with a targeted investment capacity of over US$1 billion dedicated to hospitality in various sub-Saharan African countries. 

The fund will amount to up to US$ 500 million in equity, of which Katara Hospitality and AccorHotels will contribute respectively up to US$350 million and US$ 150 million over the next five-to-seven, with additional financing capacity reached through leverage and co-investments.

It will target greenfield projects, brownfield projects and conversions of existing hotels through acquisitions, in a region which offers robust growth opportunities.

Approximately 40 hotels (around 9,000 rooms) will span across the wide range of internationally renowned brands of AccorHotels, from economy to luxury segments, including residences.

With this initiative, Katara Hospitality and AccorHotels aim at creating the number one sustainable hospitality fund dedicated to Africa, bringing support to job creation, training, transfer of skills, local supply chain and communities in the region, operating in compliance with UN sustainable development goals.

The announcement came during a signing ceremony between Katara Hospitality and AccorHotels and was attended by sheikh Nawaf bin Jassim bin Jabor Al-Thani, chairman of Katara Hospitality, and Sébastien Bazin, chairman of AccorHotels.

Bazin said “I am thrilled to announce this key alliance with our outstanding business partner Katara Hospitality.

“Having been present for over 40 years in Africa, we also know that there are increasing and sizeable needs for quality hospitality. 

“Through this fund, we will match the expertise of Katara Hospitality together with AccorHotels’ world leading brand portfolio to accelerate our dynamic growth trajectory in the sub-Saharan region. 

“Above all, by this initiative we demonstrate our shared intention to support sustainable development over the long-term on this continent.”

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The JungleJuly 23, 20185min0

What’s New To Experience in Las Vegas

So you’re heading to Las Vegas, you’re sure to check out the classics; The Luxor, Caesars Palace, and maybe a magic show. But away from the classics are some new fantastic experiences that will blow your mind. Make sure on your visit that you check out the five activities below, and you will see why they are amongst the most popular things to do in Vegas.

Gwen Stefani
Head to see Gwen Stefani at the Zappos Theater in Planet Hollywood Resort and Casino. The show, entitled Just a Girl is named after the famous track of the same name that she performed with her band No Doubt. She will be playing her most famous songs such as Hollaback Girl and What You Waiting For. Stefani is also likely to sing ska pop classics that made her famous with No Doubt before she went solo.

Apex Social Club
As part of a $620m renovation at Palms Casino Resort is the stunning Apex Social Club. Apex has replaced the former Ghostbar on the 55th floor. Here you have incredible views of the strip and a great atmosphere. This new club has a friendlier feel to it and isn’t as busy as the Ghostbar was. Yet it has a much more modern feel to it and is one of the best places to enjoy nightlife in the city. The new cocktail menu featuring almost a hundred to choose from is something that you need to look at.

The Unknown
Also at Palms Casino Resort is the Unknown. This bar has been designed by British art provocateur Damien Hirst and also features 16 of his paintings. Most unique about the bar is the incredible segmented tiger shark behind the bar in three separate tanks. The cocktail menu at the Unknown is also very impressive. Art lovers don’t need to go far; just opposite is the Camden Cocktail lounge, which features works from Andy Warhol. There are many other great places to have a drink, but the Unknown is something extra special.

High Roller
Located on the strip at the Linq Casino is the largest Ferris Wheel in the world. High Roller is 550ft above the strip and has 28 pods. It takes 30 minutes to do a full rotation, and during this time you have stunning views of the entire strip and the surrounding desert. Why not upgrade to an open bar ticket, and you can enjoy a wide range of alcoholic beverages whilst in your pod.

Axe Monkeys
Just five minutes from the Strip is this unique activity. The aim of the game is to accurately throw an axe at a target against a wall. Staff are on hand to let you practice for as long as you need, will train you the best techniques for throwing and will also provide safety instructions. For just $25 an hour, this one of the cheapest places to have lots of fun in Vegas.

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The JungleJuly 23, 20183min0

Enterprise Rent-A-Car expands into Dominican Republic

As part of its ongoing expansion in Latin America and the Caribbean, the world’s largest car rental company has opened four new Enterprise Rent-A-Car locations at the Dominican Republic’s largest airports.

Customers can now visit the brand at Punta Cana International Airport, the busiest airport in the Dominican Republic and second busiest airport in the Caribbean.

Also on offer are Las Américas International Airport in Santo Domingo, Cibao International Airport in Santiago de los Cabelleros and Gregorio Luperón International Airport in Puerto Plata.

Enterprise Holdings owns the Enterprise Rent-A-Car brand, as well as National Car Rental and Alamo Rent A Car.

The National brand has been operating in the Dominican Republic since 1974.

The Enterprise Rent-A-Car brand made its debut in the Caribbean in 2014 through franchisees in Guadeloupe and Martinique.

It expanded into Latin America in 2015, and announced the opening of 22 new locations throughout Belize, Honduras, Mexico, Tortola, Trinidad & Tobago, Turks & Caicos and Uruguay in 2016.

“The Dominican Republic is an important piece of our planned growth in the region,” said Peter Smith, vice president of global franchising at Enterprise Holdings.

“And this expansion allows travellers even more access to our world-renowned customer service and convenient rental process.”

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The JungleJuly 21, 20189min0

The Lofoten Islands have been a place I’ve been wanting to run a photography workshop for the past 2 or 3 years.  But, I never did set anything up because I was unsure of whether I wanted to do a summer trip or something in winter.  I mean, both have their benefits.  In the summer, you get the midnight sun which means you essentially get a beautiful sunset for hours on end.  But, in the winter, you get both sunrise, sunset and complete darkness.  And, if you’re lucky, you get northern lights.  Obviously, the decision was difficult.

In the end, I decided: why not both?

So today, I’m excited to announce not one, but two workshops in The Lofoten Islands!

All the information on the Norway photography workshop can be found by clicking here.

About the Style of Photography Trip

I wanted to talk quickly about the style of the trip. Because, I know that it can be confusing since I run 4 different styles photo photography trips.

This trip is a VIP trip.

What that means is that this is a small group (maximum 5 participants) and that we’re going to have a bit more comfort and freedom to explore on our own.

The itinerary starts with a drive from Tromsø towards the Lofoten Islands with a night en route.

But, once we get to Ballstad, we’re staying in an amazing villa on the water.  That villa has a sauna and an outdoor hot tub.  It’s going to be unreal.  And, to be honest, we’ll have to work hard to pull ourselves out into the field to take some pictures.

Villa Lofoten Islands

Our villa. Image courtesy of

But, once we get into the field, I think our memory cards will fill up faster than we could ever imagine.

We’ll be visiting epic and iconic places like Reine. But, we’ll also be doing a fair bit of exploring and searching for new compositions and locations.

While on the bigger photography workshops I run we almost hand hold people to the best locations.  On these styles of trips, we hunt for new places and new angles.  In a way, these trips operate much the same way a travel photographer would work out in the field. And, I think that’s a really fun way to explore and shoot pictures.

More 2019 Trips?

I’ve been asked a lot recently about the trips.  I’ve obviously scaled things up a lot this year.  For example, in 2018 I ran 4 trips. In 2019 there will be 7.  I’ve already been asked about a hundred times for more Patagonia trips and more Iceland trips.

But, I don’t want things to get out of control.  I want to keep the growth at a very moderate pace.

So, will there be another trip announced for 2019?  I don’t think so.  I think the 7 trips, along with future assignments, and personal trips will keep me busy enough.

What About 2020 Trips?

The crazy thing about this all is that just a year ago I was only planning things about 3 months in advance.  Now, there’s so much demand and my schedule is filling so quickly that I do need to start planning much further in advance.

So, what’s coming in 2020?

Honestly, I don’t know.

Patagonia is likely. I’ve already had a couple dozen emails from people asking about Patascape2020.  I don’t know if it’ll happen, but I’d say it’s likely.

So, in general, I kind of wanted to throw it out to you guys; since these trips are for you.

Below are the potential destinations and ideas for 2020 trips.  Let me know in the comments what you want to see, and where you want to go.

  • Classic Photography Workshops: Patagonia, Iceland, Lofoten Islands, Galapagos Islands, Faroe Islands, Morocco
  • VIP Workshops: Antarctica, India, Norway
  • Adventure Trips: Georgia, Sri Lanka,
  • Clinics: Dubrovnik, London

Want Info On Future Trips

If you want information on future trips, be sure to sign up to the list below.

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The JungleJuly 20, 20183min0

Farnborough 2018: easyJet takes delivery of first A321neo

easyJet has taken delivery of its first A321neo aircraft at the Farnborough international Airshow.

Welcoming the first of 30 of the planes to the fleet, the event was attended by easyJet chief executive Johan Lundgren, president of CFM International, Gaël Méheust, and Airbus chief executive Tom Enders.

The aircraft is powered by CFM Leap-1A engines.

The A321neo is the largest member of the Airbus single aisle family with 235 seats in easyJet’s configuration, making it the largest aircraft in its fleet of 308 Airbus aircraft.

easyJet currently operates ten A320neo family aircraft from an order for 130.

Featuring the widest single aisle cabin in the sky, the efficient A320neo family incorporates the very latest technologies including new generation engines and Sharklets, which together deliver more than 15 per cent fuel and CO2 savings from day one and 20 per cent by 2020 as well as 50 per cent noise reduction.

An A321neo is valued at US$129.5 million at list prices.

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The JungleJuly 20, 20183min0

The first Virgin Voyages vessel will be named Scarlet Lady.

The news was revealed by Virgin Group founder Richard Branson during a ceremony at the Fincantieri shipyard in Genoa earlier.

The ship, the first of a proposed three, is set for launch in 2020, sailing out Miami.

Virgin Voyages will offer mid-sized ships, carrying around 2,800 passengers in 1,400 staterooms.

The ships are also expected to be adults only,

Speaking ahead of the launch, Branson said: “Sailing should feel transformative.

“Yet after listening to some avid sailors, we wondered if things could be different.

“At Virgin Voyages we think the time to epicly change sea travel is upon us.

“Welcome to our own, fresh take on cruising.

“Here, curiosity is more important than an itinerary.

“Interactions matter more than transactions.”

Virgin Voyages will feature exciting ideas in entertainment and music to provide what the company are branding ‘sailors’ (rather than passengers or cruisers) with a strong variety of programming options.

The Fincantieri ceremony also saw the cutting of the first pieces of steel for Virgin Voyages’ second ship, which is due for delivery in 2021.

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The JungleJuly 20, 20183min0

The first of five BelugaXL aircraft has landed at Toulouse-Blagnac, France, after successfully completing its first flight.

The test flight lasted four hours and 11 minutes.

The crew in the cockpit on board this flight comprised captain Christophe Cail, co-pilot Bernardo Saez-Benito Hernandez and test-flight engineer Jean Michel Pin.

Meanwhile, monitoring the aircraft systems and performance in real-time at the flight-test-engineer’s station were Laurent Lapierre and Philippe Foucault.

Following the first flight, the BelugaXL will undergo some 600 hours of flight test over ten months to achieve type certification and entry into service later in 2019.

The BelugaXL programme was launched in November 2014 to address Airbus’ transport capacity requirements in view of the A350 XWB ramp-up and single-aisle production rate increases.

Five aircraft will be built between 2019 and 2023 to gradually replace the five BelugaST.

The aircraft will operate from 11 destinations as Airbus’ method of transporting large aircraft components.

Based on an A330-200 Freighter, the BelugaXL is powered by Rolls Royce Trent 700 engines.

The lowered cockpit, the cargo bay structure and the rear-end and tail were newly developed jointly with suppliers, giving the aircraft its distinctive look.

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The JungleJuly 20, 20183min0

Farnborough 2018: British Airways places 777-300ER order with Boeing

Boeing and British Airways have announced a commitment for three 777-300ER (Extended Range) airplanes.

British Airways will take the 777s on an operating lease with a leasing company.

“We are delighted that British Airways, one of the world’s leading airlines, has again chosen the Boeing 777 for its long-haul fleet,” said Ihssane Mounir, senior vice president of commercial sales and marketing for the Boeing Company.

“This agreement is a testament to the enduring value of the 777, its superior range, outstanding efficiency and popularity among passengers.”

British Airways is one of the world’s largest operators of the long-range jet, operating 58 777-200ER and 777-300ER airplanes across its global network.

British Airways also flies 28 787 Dreamliners and more than 30 747-400s.

The 777-300ER can seat up to 386 passengers in a three-class configuration and has a maximum range of 7,930 nautical miles.

The airplane is the most reliable twin aisle flying today with the highest schedule reliability of any twin aisle airplane at 99.5 per cent.

British Airways, part of International Airlines Group, is one of the world’s leading global premium airlines and the largest international carrier in the UK.

The carrier has its home base at London Heathrow, the world’s busiest international airport, and flies to more than 200 destinations in 75 countries across the globe.

British Airways has a fleet of more than 280 aircraft.

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The JungleJuly 19, 201814min0

Since 1990, Rocky Mountaineer has welcomed more than two million guests to inhale the mountain air of Canada and let nature take their breath away.

Offering dozens of trips throughout the north-west of the country, and down to Seattle, it is a product synonymous with the oft-recalled ‘golden age’ of travel, with trains wending their way at a leisurely pace through some of the most beautiful scenery on earth.

But it is also run by an ambitious team with aspirations of international growth.

Speaking to Breaking Travel News in London, president Steve Sammut explains the company has been expanding the adventure side of its offering as sales begin for the 2019 season.

“The destinations we have, have been running for a number of years now, and we are not changing those.

“These are places our guests want to go to – Vancouver at one end, and the Banff, Lake Louise or Jasper at the other,” he details.

“What we are doing looking ahead is spreading out the product a little.

“For example, if you look at the Rocky Mountains end, there is a trend toward people wanting more adventure.

“So, here, we have added, within Banff National Park, a new package allowing guests to stay in Canmore or Kananaskis; they are smaller towns, rustic destinations.

“We are also offering more soft adventure packages; what we are hearing from our guests is that people love the train, they love the experience, but they want to do something that makes them feel like they deserve that luxury.”

He adds: “This means adding more hiking, things where our guests can get a bit more adventure.

“For 2019, we are also excited to partner with Canadian Mountain Holidays, the largest heliskiing operation in the world.

“We have created a package where you can leave the train and be helicoptered up to their lodge in the mountains, and you can do two and a half days of hiking – just a gorgeous place, right in the Caribou Mountains.”

Rocky Mountaineer draws its guests from a small pool of source markets, led by the United States, Australia and the United Kingdom, with Canada following close behind.

In an age of fierce digital competition, the company is keen to nurture relationships with the travel trade.

“We are always looking for new partners, and around 80 per cent of our sales come through the trade,” continues Sammut.

“We continue to work with them, to educate them on what we are doing.

“Around 20 per cent of our sales come out of the UK, so it is important for us to continue working with our trade partners in this market.

“We have a team that is based here, a full-time team, who are out there meeting with the trade partners, and we have been adding to that team.

“They are looking to get a bit deeper, train the sales agents, and make sure they know how to use the online training portal, Tracks, for example.

“We are doing a lot on the trade marketing front as well; our team is working very closely with our partners to get out there.”

He adds: “In terms of age, we share the demographic as to what you might see on cruise lines, baby boomers, but you do see a nice mix, families, Millennials – but our bread and butter is still that boomer generation.”

As with many hospitality providers, there is also a desire to expand into China, tapping the fast-growing outbound tourism sector there.

Sammut explains: “For us, we are at the front-end with China.

“The number of guests we have seen to date is negligible, which is why we are seeing an opportunity.

“The number of outbound Chinese travellers is of course increasing, although it has muted a bit.

“But to Canada, Chinese visitation was up 18 per cent last year, and it continues to grow at about the same rate this year.”

In an anticipation of an increase in guests from China, Rocky Mountaineer is also tweaking its product.

“When you look at what we offer, there are a lot of personal touches,” continues Sammut.

“Our hosts are not just there to make sure you have your drinks, there is a lot of story-telling going on, there is rapport, a connection.

“So, for Chinese guests, it is important to have hosts who can speak Mandarin, so our guests can really get the full flavour of what we are doing.

“We are also looking at putting comfort items on the menu; guests come to experience western Canada, but these are there if they feel homesick.

“The government has done a lot of work to put a system in place where Chinese guests can apply for a ten-year visa, while there has also been a recent expansion of number of visa centres in China.”

Sammut joined Rocky Mountaineer in 2012 and was appointed president in 2015.

Before his current role, he served as executive vice president and chief financial officer overseeing all areas of finance, IT, strategic planning and corporate development for the organisation.

Under his leadership, the train operator has currently undergoing its largest ever capital investment.

He explains: “We have a fleet of almost 70 vehicles, that includes locomotives, generator cars, crew cars, and then the passenger carrying cars.

“Currently we have a fleet of 16 GoldLeaf cars, these are the ones with the bi-level domes, where your seat is on the second level and the dining room is below.

“Then there is the single-level dome, which we call SilverLeaf, which is also a great experience, on one level.

“Right now, we have ten more GoldLeaf cars coming, while we are going back and refurbishing all of the existing fleet.

“Though, the fleet was not very old to begin with, with the cars dating from 1995 and 2007, but they will be updated to have the same seats and aesthetics as the new cars.

“Then, we have been SilverLeaf for four years, so by the start of the season next year, we will have 19 of those cars.

“This investment, which is in the range of a couple of hundred million Canadian dollars, is designed to cope with the growth we are seeing.

“The company is privately owned, so the cash is coming from within the organisation, or we have some great financial partners.”

However, with a relatively small base of operations, and a limited season (with trains only run mid-April through to mid-October), further expansion could prove tricky.

As a result, Sammut and his team are eyeing a possible overseas development.

He adds: “We get some repeat visitors, in the range of three-to-four per cent of our guests come back.

“This is why, looking forward, we are looking at adding another product, similar to what Rocky Mountaineer does in western Canada, but somewhere else in the world.

“We have so many guests who walk off loving the product and what we offer, and so many trade partners who are happy to sell our product, that we need something somewhere else to showcase.

“This would help us bring back a lot more people.

“We are currently at the front-end of a five-year strategic plan, so our goal is to have something for sale in the next five years.

“It is a long-term thing, we are looking close to home, but we are also scouring the earth, looking abroad to find something – it is important to get the product right, to find something that will appeal to our core market, to our guests.

“We will do our research, and even then, when you have determined where it is, there is a lot of work to be done creating partnerships with whoever owns the rail lines, agents on the ground.”

With Canada also booming, Rocky Mountaineer is well set for a bright future.

Sammut concludes: “Canada as tourism destination has been very attractive over the past few years, especially with our 150th anniversary last year.

“Overall, there has been a lot of recognition that Canada is a great place to visit for some many reasons; it is a beautiful country, the size means there are a lot of different things happening and Canadian people are very welcoming, accommodating.

“In today’s world, you find more people who are not welcoming to visitors, whereas in Canada we are happy when people come to visit – we love to share our history and what our country has to offer.”

More Information

Rocky Mountaineer offers over 65 unique Canadian vacation packages and four distinctive rail routes through British Columbia, Alberta and the Pacific Northwest.

The world-renowned, luxury train travels by daylight through the wild beauty of Canada’s West and is the best way to experience the majestic Canadian Rockies.

Find out more on the official website.

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The JungleJuly 19, 20187min0

As it seeks to promote cooperation between the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO), aviation stakeholders and airports worldwide, the Airports Council International (ACI) has developed a series of Airport Excellence Programme.

These currently include APEX in Safety and APEX in Security.

The objective of APEX is to define proceedings and knowledge in the specific areas of operations through information exchanges and evaluations of ACI best practices.

The regulatory framework of APEX is based on ICAO standards and international aviation laws to maximise operational efficiency and safety standards of airports. 

At this juncture in time, the world is looking for a way to develop its activities while respecting the environment and mitigating the environmental impact of climate change.

So, at the 27th annual general assembly in Mauritius, ACI World decided to create the APEX in Environment pilot plan, thereby making care of the environment an official resolution of this international organisation. 

Quito International Airport, the only greenfield airport in the region, has an advantage in this area.

With modern infrastructure and founded with a vision to construct efficient facilities with environmentally friendly regulations, it was created with a robust environmental and social management plan. 

Corporación Quiport offered to host the APEX in Environment pilot program, confident in its environmental procedures and knowing that it would be a great learning process.

On July 7th, the attendees of the APEX in Environment pilot arrived in Quito led by Danny Boutin, senior manager of APEX programmes, accompanied by Francisco Medela, ACI-LAC industry affairs manager; Juliana Scavuzzi, ACI World aviation environmental specialist; Kristi McKenney, manager of aviation at Oakland Airport, USA, and Emanuel Fleuti, head of environmental protection at Zurich Airport. 

Andrew O’Brian, chief executive of Quiport, received the group, and stated: “We are very aware of our responsibility to have an efficient operation that is environmentally friendly, and it is precisely for this reason that we want to participate in this new APEX in Environment pilot.

“Corporación Quiport is committed to continue participating in this program and to share our experience with other airports in the region and around the world, and also to learn from their experiences.”

The APEX party spent a week thoroughly inspecting the different facilities at Quito airport, such as the waste recycling plant, wastewater treatment plant, falconry and bird rehabilitation facilities; as well as Quiport’s social projects that benefit neighbouring communities.

“ACI is the voice of airports, and as such we feel that we should be innovators on many fronts, with special emphasis on the environment,” explained Boutin.

In turn, Scavuzzi stated: “Airports are development hubs for their communities, but not just that, airports, through their policies and actions, can forge a path and create positive change in their territories.”

Representatives from Oakland and Zurich airports reached favourable conclusions on the environmental and social management programs and practices of Quiport.

McKenney stated: “I want to congratulate Quiport for opening its doors to this party to evaluate and analyse all the environmental and social work it has been doing.

“We have been impressed by the range of programs it runs.”

The aim of this visit was to lay the ground for the creation of the APEX in Environment program which is to be applied in hundreds of airports around the world.

The experts left Quito with positive experiences, leaving recommendations for optimising processes at Quito airport, and important lessons that will be replicated with a view to ensure that airports are allies of good environmental management.

More Information

Mariscal Sucre International Airport in Quito, Ecuador, is currently in the running for the title of South America’s Leading Airport at the World Travel Awards.

The winners will be revealed in Guayaquil, Ecuador, on September 15th at the Latin America Gala Ceremony 2018.

Head over to the official website to vote now.

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