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Gatwick airport opens new £250m train station

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An image of the first passengers using the new Gatwick train station
Gatwick Airport was officially opened on 9 June 1958 by Queen Elizabeth II.

A new look Gatwick Airport station has opened promising to offer passengers travelling between Brighton and London faster and more reliable journeys.

A bigger £250m rail station with a new second concourse and airport entrance is now available, doubling the space for the millions of passengers that use the station each year.

The first passengers to use the new concourse and airport entrance arrived on the 05.48 Thameslink Bedford to Brighton service on platform 7.

Eight new escalators and five new lifts will provide a step change for accessibility at the airport’s South Terminal. The new lifts and escalators, along with four new stairways and widened platforms, will help passengers move between the train station and the airport more quickly and easily.

Easier journeys between train and plane will benefit passengers across the wider network, helping keep trains running on time by removing the congestion on platforms that delay trains.

“This project is not just for those making their way to the airport, the work benefits passengers right across the route by giving them quicker journeys and a more reliable timetable”, says Lucy McAuliffe, Network Rail Sussex route director.

Transport Secretary, Mark Harper, said“With millions of people travelling into Gatwick Airport by train each year, this station is a major public transport hub and has been upgraded thanks to Government funding, improving the train-to-plane journey and delivering more reliable services for passengers.

“Today’s opening demonstrates this Government’s commitment to funding improvements to our rail network, transforming a vital station into an impressive gateway to the UK and helping more British and international passengers to travel by train.”

The new concourse will now act as the new entrance for people accessing the airport terminal, while the existing concourse will be for people exiting. The existing station concourse, station footbridges and the South Terminal linkspan have been refurbished and reconfigured to provide a seamless one-way system to the airport from the train station.

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Baros Maldives appoints new PR agency in the UK

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Baros Maldives appoints new PR Agency in the UK
Maldives is experiencing a significant increase in tourism and celebrated a record 12% increase in arrivals last year

Global independent marketing and communications agency, FINN Partners, has been appointed by Baros Maldives and Milaidhoo Maldives to lead on PR and digital services, in the United Kingdom.

FINN Partners communications strategy will focus on tactics that will generate coverage and awareness to showcase the independent, locally and family-owned properties, highlighting what sets them apart from other resorts in the Maldives. 

“With the UK being an important market for us, we look forward to working with FINN Partners to help build brand awareness in the UK for both Baros and Milaidhoo Maldives, by bringing to life the uniqueness of each property and what sets both resorts apart from other luxury resorts in the Maldives,” says Visha Mahir, Chief Operating Officer at Universal Resorts Management.

Maldives is home to 176 resorts and over 800 guesthouses. According to  the Ministry of Tourism, the country is experiencing a significant increase in tourism and celebrated a record 12% increase in arrivals last year.

“Celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, it’s an honour to be representing Baros Maldives, ‘The Maldives Icon’. We very much look forward to communicating the private island resorts truly authentic Maldivian offerings to media. We are also excited to showcase how Milaidhoo Maldives, set in the UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, embraces a contemporary way of living the Maldivian heritage and culture complemented by a wide range of curated meaningful experiences on offer to guests in addition to exceptional cuisine, personalised service, and attention to detail,” says Debbie Flynn, Managing Partner and Global Travel Practice Leader, FINN Partners.

The FINN Partners UK Travel portfolio also includes destinations such as Italy, Greater Palm Springs, The Bahamas and brands including Travelzoo, Intrepid and Accor. 

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Searches for ‘quiet life’ soars by 530%

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a female solo traveler in a mountain trip
The quest for a more serene lifestyle is on the rise, a recent report by Pinterest reveals | Photo: Artur Voznenko

Searches for enigmatic destinations are rising as travellers crave places promising a blend of wonder, adventure and the unexplored, according to a recent Pinterest Summer 2024 Travel Report.

With over one billion travel-related searches and over 10 billion travel saves in one year, the platform has become a source of inspiration for those planning a future trip.

8 out of 10 weekly Pinterest users turn to Pinterest when planning their summer escapades. Since last year, searches for ‘travel vision board’ and ‘packing guide’ have skyrocketed by 210% and 480% respectively as travellers curate their bucket lists and gear up for unforgettable journeys. 

However travellers are not looking only for adventurous things to do while on vacation.

The quest for a quieter, more serene lifestyle is on the rise, with searches for ‘quiet life’ soaring by 530% according to a report by Pinterest. As the longing for simplicity has extended to travel, since 2023, searches for ‘quiet places’ and ‘calm places’ have increased by 50% and 42% respectively. Pinners are searching for digital detox travel: many sought-after nature destinations offer a respite from the constant buzz of connectivity and digital distractions, providing a much-needed break. Solo travel emerges as a liberating choice, granting individuals the freedom to craft their itinerary, pace and priorities without compromise. Whether basking in the tranquillity of a secluded beach or meandering through serene countryside landscapes, these experiences contribute to self-care and overall well-being. Increase in specific searches include solo travel (up +35%), glamping aesthetic (+260%), Cabin in the mountains (+180%), Village vibes (+145%), Island life (+30%), and searches for national parks, which increased +250% since last year.

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Britons holidaying abroad are getting more value for money

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A elderly British couple holidaying abroad.
Sterling has strengthened in value against 21 popular currencies over the past 12 months | Photo: Vidar Nordli-Mathisen

Strong currency performance puts more cash in pockets of Britons holidaying abroad

Rising rates for sterling mean holidaymakers can look forward to getting more for their money in the vast majority of holiday destinations this year, according to new exchange rate analysis by Post Office Travel Money for its regular Holiday Money Index survey of currency rates and sales trends.

Sterling has strengthened in value against 21 of Post Office Travel Money’s 25 bestselling holiday currencies over the past 12 months but the amount by which Britons can hope to benefit varies quite significantly from one destination to another. While Britons can expect to receive 3.8 per cent more than a year ago when changing their pounds into euros and 5.5 per cent more US dollars, they will get far more for their money when visiting Turkey, Kenya and Japan.

The Exchange Rate Monitor, published as part of the Holiday Money Index, reveals that Britons visiting Turkey will currently get around 73 per cent more liras for the pounds than a year ago – the equivalent of almost £211 extra on a £500 currency purchase. This rises to 113.5 per cent – or £266 extra – over two years.

Sterling has also gained almost 21 per cent in value against the Kenyan shilling and 15.7 per cent against the Japanese yen compared with a year ago. Although the dramatic fall in value of the Egyptian pound reported in last year’s Holiday Money Index has bottomed out, it is still 6.3 per cent weaker than last March. Cumulatively, this means visitors will receive around £234 (88 per cent) more on a £500 currency transaction now than two years ago.

There have also been sizeable sterling gains against the currencies for a trio of the most popular destinations for UK holidaymakers – Prague (Czech Republic: +12.7 per cent), Thailand (Thai baht: +9.9 per cent) and South Africa (South African rand: +9.2 per cent), while Britons visiting friends and family in Australia will get 8.5 per cent more holiday cash for their pounds.

Only four currencies – the Polish zloty, Mexican peso, Costa Rican colon and Swiss franc – have gained ground against sterling. The pound’s biggest fall of 4.3 per cent year-on-year has been against the Polish zloty, although this is eclipsed by two year losses of over 20 per cent against the Costa Rican colon and Mexican peso.

Sterling’s current buoyancy against most leading holiday currencies – including the euro and US dollar – provides a great incentive for Britons considering trips abroad in the coming months. Most currencies have weakened against the pound in the past year, and many of these are for destinations that traditionally offer the cheapest prices for meals, drinks and other tourist staples. Good examples of this range from Turkey and the Czech Republic in Europe to Kenya, Thailand and Vietnam further afield,” says Laura Plunkett, Head of Travel Money at Post Office.

The latest analysis of currency sales by Post Office Travel Money, which accounts for one-in-four of all UK foreign exchange transactions, reveals that sales of 16 of its 20 bestselling currencies have risen over the past 12 months (February 2023-January 2024). It also observes that many of these currencies are continuing to show marked growth in 2024 to date.

Reviewing sales for January 2024, Post Office Travel Money reports that Caribbean currencies have seen the most dramatic year-on-year growth among its 20 bestselling currencies. In particular, it found that East Caribbean and Barbados dollar purchases rocketed by 103 per cent and 64 per cent respectively in January – outperforming growth levels by rival destinations in the Far East.

However, taking at the year as whole, seven Far Eastern currencies dominate the top 10 chart of Post Office Travel Money’s currencies showing the greatest levels of growth. The biggest percentage sales increase was for the Chinese yuan, which recorded a spectacular 573 per cent year-on-year rise, albeit against very low sales the previous year when visits to China were off limits.

The euro and US dollar remain by far the most popular holiday currencies, topping the chart for the past year as they have consistently done – and a sales increase of nine per cent in January made the euro the 10th fastest growing currency for that month.

Demand for aspirational destinations is also particularly strong. Both the Australian dollar, third in the Post Office bestsellers top 10, and New Zealand dollar, ninth in the table, have built on the exceptional currency growth seen a year ago when Australia and New Zealand re-opened to international visitors.

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