Grown-up Travel Guide News Update – 10.09.2012

In which we present a regular round-up of news from the world of Grown-up Travel

Qantas’ business and first class travellers to get chauffeur driven service to and from airport

Qantas will soon provide free chauffeur-driven transport to and from the airport for business and first class travellers.

The announcement comes a day after Qantas confirmed its morale-boosting alliance with Middle-Eastern carrier Emirates, increasing the flying Kangaroo’s reach throughout the world.

The alliance deal, pending Australian Competition and Consumer Commission approval, will see Qantas flying to London via Dubai rather than Singapore from April next year.

Travellers connecting via a domestic flight to an eligible Qantas international flight – more than 12 hours – will have access to the Chauffeur Drive service.

“We know this door-to-door service will be very well received and it’s a prime example of the kind of benefits customers can expect from the new partnership,” Qantas Group CEO Alan Joyce said.

Chauffeur Drive will be available to eligible Qantas customers travelling on flights between Australia and London, Dubai, Los Angeles, Dallas, New York, Santiago and Johannesburg.

Before announcing yesterday’s historic deal Qantas surveyed 2000 people, including many of its frequent flyers, about their thoughts of a business tie-up between Qantas and Emirates. Seventy-six percent of respondents said they approved of the partnership. Only four percent thought it was a bad idea.

The independent survey also showed that Australian travellers ranked the UK and Europe as the part of the world they wanted to visit most followed by North America, New Zealand and the Pacific. Through Emirates’s vast network of destinations Qantas passengers will now have much faster flying times to many European destinations.

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Toronto rocks: Canada’s music capital

The Guardian

Canada’s largest city is an unlikely mecca for music lovers. But, as Rebecca Nicholson discovers, Toronto’s championing of local artists makes for a lively scene.

There are plenty of holiday destinations around the world suitable for the discerning music fan. There’s the Copacabana, where music and passion remain the fashion. Dead Kennedys fans may wish to take a short trip to Cambodia. The Sex Pistols’ “Holiday in the Sun” could refer to a broad range of resorts, but let’s guess that they meant Majorca, or Rhyl.

Toronto seems a relatively unlikely candidate for the rock ‘n’ roll atlas: but the largest city in Canada has a healthy music scene, if an unshowy one. In fact, it’s said to be one of the best places in the world to be a musician. There are grants and loans available to bands of various levels of success, doled out to help with the expensive business of touring and making videos. This comes partly from the government and partly from the country’s TV and radio broadcasters, who are legally required to pay into a “talent development fund” as well as to give a certain amount of airtime to local artists (there is a similar model in place in France). And some of this music money goes to events such as the Polaris Prize, which has just given its sixth award for best Canadian album of the year.

I arrive in the city the day before the ceremony, just as the Toronto International Film Festival is finishing. The queues for cinemas around the entertainment district are beginning to dwindle as music takes its turn in the spotlight. The Polaris Prize is a bit like the Mercury Prize, though it’s smaller, indier and a lot more fun.

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Accessibility in London

Toronto Sun

As the London 2012 Paralympic Games come to a close, the emphasis of the last 12 days of top notch sports has been on what people “can do” not what they “can’t do.”

Which was really the focus when Dr. Ludwig Guttmann, who had established the National Spinal Injuries Centre at Stoke Mandeville Hospital (near London), witnessed the rehabilitative power of sport in the treatment of World War II veterans with spinal injuries. To coincide with the opening ceremony of the 1948 Olympic Games in London, Guttmann initiated a sporting competition at Stoke Mandeville, which become known as the birth of the Paralympic Games. By 1960, Olympic-style games for athletes with disabilities were organized for the first time in Rome — and for the first time these were called “Paralympics.”

In recent years, many access improvements and service enhancements have been made to make public transport networks, attractions and tours, and travelling in London and throughout Britain much easier for people with disabilities.

Many of London’s must-see attractions are barrier free. You can’t beat the views from the London Eye, where the capsules are wheelchair accessible, and Buckingham Palace, where this year’s special exhibition Diamonds: A Jubilee Celebration running until Oct. 7, was designed with wheelchair-users in mind with exhibits placed at lower levels so they can be seen, and audio guides are compatible with T-coil induction loops.

Other fabulous and accessible attractions include:

— St. Paul’s Cathedral, which has Touch and Feel tours for visually impaired visitors, and orders of service in Braille.

— Tate Modern, which discounts paid exhibits for visitors with disabilities, provides free admission for care-givers, and not only welcomes guide and hearing dogs but even provides drinking bowls. Touch tours are available at the gallery and some events have visual descriptions.

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Burma gets tough with hoteliers

The Telegraph

Hotel managers in Burma are being threatened with expulsion from the country for failing to reduce their room rates.

The Ministry of Hotels and Tourism recently ordered all foreign-owned hotels to cap their basic room rate at US$150 a night, in response to fears that demand-driven price rises were damaging the country’s reputation among overseas travellers.

The policy has been criticised by hoteliers, some of which have refused to bow to the ministry’s demands. The Sedona Hotel Yangon, for example, continued to charge guests up to $220 a night, prompting the ministry to take action. In a letter to the hotel’s Singaporean owners seen by Telegraph Travel, the ministry said that if the general manager, Saman Sarathchandra, did not comply, he would not be allowed to enter the country for six months.

“In this period, you are kindly requested to replace [sic] someone who can manage the hotel in the place of Mr Saman [Sarathchandra]. We will observe and take serious action if there is no progress upon our instruction,” the ministry added, saying that if progress were made, Mr Sarathchandra would be allowed to return.

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