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Taxi drivers and the inevitable ‘tourist tax’

Almost every foreign trip is going to involve taking a taxi at some point. It’s also true that wherever you go, there’s a high chance that you’ll step out of at least one taxi knowing that you’ve paid too paid for the ride. Taxi drivers appear to have an exemption from the universal code of […]

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13 universal truths of travel

1. Hotel shower bottles are designed to be enough for exactly 0.8 showers. 2. You will always get the seat behind the compulsive recliner. 3. Your bag will be first off the conveyor belt on the one occasion you have several hours to waste before your connecting flight. 4. The length of the hotel check-in […]

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Tall travel stories: are they inevitable?

My wife tells me I always exaggerate (she must have told me this at least a million times). While I’m prone to stretching a point on almost any subject, there’s no doubt that my tallest stories come from travel experiences. It’s an undeniable fact that the exact details of incidents that happened to me when […]

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The true British tourism champions (no fancy campaigns required)

It was a story that led me to Aldeburgh in the first place. I recently read Scapegallows by Carol Birch, a book that follows the life of Margaret Catchpole, a feisty young lady who was twice sentenced to hang and eventually shipped off to Australia. Her true-life account is told in the context of the […]

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Responsible tourism – who does it benefit?

I looked down from the crest of the hill, heart rate slowly settling after a draining climb in the midday heat. A patchwork of fields spread out into the far distance, with only a church spire and a few distant roofs providing a contrast to the shades of green and yellow so typical of the […]

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The perils of lying to immigration officials

It’s funny how things turn out sometimes. As this story proves, you should be careful about telling jokes to strangers. Sometimes your most ridiculous fantasies can turn out to be a prophetic glimpse into the future. April 2006. I had just finished business school and, armed with my newly acquired MBA degree, I was taking […]

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A very English breakfast

A shrivelled lady in her seventies, back severely arched and supported in her chair by a pile of cushions, sits just inside the entrance.  There’s a scent that’s hard to place but is reminiscent of a nursing home. “Abandon hope, all ye who enter here.” We are soon greeted by a lady dressed in an elegant […]

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Do we really need to travel?

According to the UNWTO (UN World Tourism Organisation) there are now over 1 billion people travelling internationally each year; a number that is expected to increase sharply as more people in India and China acquire the means to go on foreign holidays. In the world of travel and tourism this travel bonanza is being embraced […]

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Rule 1 of basic customer service: it’s about the customer, not you

I read a recent article written by a hotel receptionist (I’ve searched through my archives to try and find a link, with no success) that had me banging my head on the desk in frustration (metaphorically, of course). The author was scathing about the inventor of rolling luggage (suitcases with wheels), saying that they had […]

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How to make a tourist town

Many British cities look on with envy at places such as York, Bath and Canterbury. These tourist honey pots attract thousands of visitors every day, pouring into town to snap a few photos, eat an expensive meal at a chain restaurant and buy something from a shop they have in their own local high street. The same […]

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