Wednesday, 19 February 2014

Gibraltar’s Tourism Trade in 2014

Neil Costa is the minister for tourism and public transport in Gibraltar and he seems to be on quite some mission to encourage increased numbers of visitors to the famous Rock. The New Statesman recently quoted Costa as saying, ‘There are 180 visits scheduled to Gibraltar from cruise ships, and the ships are getting bigger…Some ships will have up to 3,000 passengers on board. That’s effectively a 10per cent boost to [Gibraltar’s] population, in a single day – except one day this year we had four ships in one day’. All of this emphasis on increased tourism has led some people to question why on earth a place as small as Gibraltar – under 3 square miles in size - would need to drive tourism sales when it already receives a relatively large proportion of visitors.  The answer, according to Costa, is that few of their visitors are staying the night. The Gibraltar tourist board particularly wish to attract visitors from the UK who come for a weekend break, rather than just a day visit. At the same time, Costa is careful to point out that 3,000 visitors descending en masse to Gibraltar’s beaches may be a challenge to accommodate. It seems the Gibraltar tourism board wants its cake and to eat it, too. 


All of this tourism talk is not the first time that Gibraltar has openly voiced its desire for increased tourism: in 2012 the tourist board declared that it would be equipping many of its attractions with QR (quick response) barcodes that could be scanned by mobile phones and offer immediate links to informative webpages as sightseers walked Gibraltar’s streets. With tourism as one of Gibraltar’s main sources of income, it’s little wonder they are so keen to enlist as many visitors as possible. However, as Neil Costa pointed out, the visitors that Gibraltar receives from cruise ships is often one of their largest markets: in 2012, 173 cruise ships glided their way into Gibraltar's port. It comes as little surprise that a small rock in the Mediterranean that has English as its official language, hot weather and beautiful scenery attracts many UK visitors on daytime trips, or as a stop-off while cruising the Med. On many cruise liners its a good idea - and actively encouraged - to pre-book onshore excursions before arrival. This often means visitors get better variety than trying to work out different deals once on land. As Planet Cruise states, 'Cruise lines typically offer a number of different shore tours to choose and for any budget and physical activity level'. 

Getting around The Rock - taxi drivers you can trust

Taxi drivers are often astute observers and canny businessmen, and it didn’t take long for taxi drivers on Gibraltar to work out that driving visitors to and from the airport or the harbour was nowhere near as lucrative as driving travellers around the tiny territory, and showing them the whole array of beautiful sights. Of course, it usually doesn’t take governing bodies very long to work out when a fiddle is taking place and they swiftly changed licensing laws that prevented taxi drivers from stepping on tour guide toes. What’s a little tour guiding between friends, anyway?  Well, until the taxi association really clamped down on drivers by having their cars fitted with a special kind of satnav that informs the association precisely where the cab had been, and how frequently it had arrived at the airport. The new telematics technology is very helpful for tour operators on the tiny island, but has prevented taxi drivers from gaining extra money as guides. To offset this, the taxi association has been able to offer drivers inside information based on their vehicle usage – such as things like braking and fuel consumption – to save money in the long-run. This all means that visitors can be assured that if they jump in a taxi cab they will be driven directly to their required destination with no encouragement to sightsee en route.

The Future of Gibraltar’s tourism

With tourism as Gibraltar’s major source of income, it’s little wonder they’re vocal about encouraging its growth. However, it seems unreasonable for them to worry: cruise ship numbers remain constant every year, with an anticipated 283,870 visitors from 179 cruise ships alone. 

Friday, 10 January 2014

Visit us in 2014 - Your Summer experience in Gibraltar

Are you looking forward to the warmer months where you can already feel your skin bronzing with the summer rays? Do not complicate yourself in 2014 and simply look no further than the Iberian Peninsula.  Gibraltar and southern Spain offer a wide variety of options which appeals to all different types of clients, be it the beach enthusiast or the tapas lover.  With a number of possible airline connections from the UK including Heathrow, Manchester and Gatwick.  Gibraltar is the ideal Mediterranean destination which offers much more than you would actually imagine.


Lying at the entrance to the Mediterranean, Gibraltar is the ideal summer destination.  Although the Barbary macaques are Gibraltar’s emblem, there really is more to what has been shown on television recently.  From brisk walks through Alameda Botanical gardens to enjoying an evening dinner at Catalan Bay, there really are endless possibilities which you can combine whilst in Gibraltar.


A typical summer day surrounded by locals living the Gibraltarian ambience would be to have breakfast at Casemates Square whilst enjoying the buzz of people walking through to Main street and the local fish market.  Soon after, enjoy Gibraltar’s VAT free prices at local Main Street shops followed by a wine and tapas tasting which lies adjacent to Main Street at Chatham Counterguard.  In the afternoon relax in any of Gibraltar’s beaches, there are a few to choose from, just jump on any blue bus.  In the evening get back to your hotel, quick shower and jump back straight to Casemates or Ocean Village in the evening where you are sure to live a wonderful summer experience at the hands of the Gibraltarian people.


Travel agents will always show the typical resort activities such as the Rock Tours and dolphin trips, which are also a must! However to live the local experience you must venture through the streets and find how the many different cultures unite to create a destination which welcomes anyone and everyone.


Please let us know if you are planning a trip to Gibraltar and I will share ideas as to what you can enjoy whilst on your holiday.


My Tip this week: Make sure to prolong your stay to around 4 days, in which you will be able to enjoy absolutely everything from tours in Morocco to the bodegas in Spain.


Safe Travels


The Weekly Traveller

Friday, 29 November 2013

Team Building in Gibraltar, Spain & Morocco

Is team building part of your working philosophy?


More companies throughout the world are now concentrating on team building activities as part of certain initiatives which help focus employees and thus help achieving working goals and objectives.  Blands Mice Challenges is a new initiative which focuses on companies and their team members.  The main aim of this new initiative is to challenge and in turn create a team building activity which can be carried out across Gibraltar, Spain and Morocco.  Mice challenges varies from adventurous team building to a cooking competition.  All aspects of our programme are detailed to your company, if you require an activity for a small group or a weekend activity in Morocco for your whole company we can provide this to the highest standard.


Some ideas include


Adventure trek up Mediterranean steps challenging your way up to the top of the Rock.  The second part of the challenge involves getting the Cable car top station and grabbing the first Cable car to the bottom.  The first to finish will have accomplished going up by foot and down by cable challenge.  The challenge is ideal to segment employees from different departments resulting in cohesion and in the end acting as the perfect team building outing.


The Gibraltar Crystal challenge is also a favourite as it involves two teams creating crystal for their workplace.  Imagine having glass created by your own employees displayed in the company’s boardroom.  A challenge which can be complimented with a lunch or dinner at a neighbouring restaurant.


Are men better cooks than their female counterparts?  Our cooking courses at the Khaima marquee Rock Hotel offers a group the chance to compete male v female in a challenge which is judged by senior management and the hotels own head chef.  Learn of the many secrets behind Moroccan dining a signature gastronomy at the Rock Hotel.


I only have few characters remaining hence the three ideas written above.  If you would like more information on experiences and challenges please let us know as we at Blands Mice would be more than happy to arrange any type of experience whether its small or large, there are endless possibilities.


Live an Experience with us.


The Weekly Traveller

Thursday, 14 November 2013

Sun, Mountains and exquisite food!

It appears that November in the Iberian Peninsula is changing when it relates to weather.  Last Saturday saw a group of Blands Travel clients and staff members visit a truly iconic town of Benaojan, situated within the mountainous region of Ronda, Benaojan is famously known for its oaks, pastures rainfed by the Mediterranean and sheep industry. Its cuisine is highlighted by the sausages and other pork products and dried fruits.  For this same reason we decided to visit this wonderful town in Spain.  We left Gibraltar at early day and made our way up in our cosy 26 seater bus which comfortably accommodated our group, stopping on the way in Estepona for a well-deserved early breakfast.  As you would expect from any Spanish traditional bar, local produce made our breakfast that extra special, toasted fresh bread from the day and “Manteca Colorada” traditional Red butter from the pigs most juicy parts!


After breakfast we made the way up to town, one important fact you may ought to know is the fact that there are 192 bends along the road to Ronda!  That is astonishing, the views are spectacular and if you are into orienteering and birdwatching, this is truly a haven for these practices.  After an hour, we finally arrived into what seemed a ghost town, very picturesque and beautiful, however, none else to be seen. The name of Benaojan is of Arab origin. Some believe it means children of Oj├ín, from the Berber tribe, and others think "home of the baker."  It is precisely to do with baking that we were enlightened to visit.  Our trip had a 11:45 visit to Charcuteria el Cerdito Andaluz, here you can buy the best cuts of meats.  We were amazed to see the sheer amount of meats at affordable prices on display, Christmas is round the corner, and for this same reason the group started to invest heavily in buying the best cuts of meat.  Just on a side note, Gibraltarians love their meat when it comes to Christmas!


A short while later, the group finished buying their traditional Spanish Ham and other meats and decided it was time for a stop at one of the bars if not the only bar in the town of Benaojan.  A nice glass of wine from Ronda was just lovely as we sat in the bars terrace, the sunshine gazing through along with a bunch of nice mates made midday the best time of day.  Soon after and with no time to spare, Lunch was booked in for 14:00 at The Muelle Restaurant, a lovely old building transformed into a exquisite restaurant.  I will just comment that the group entered the restaurant at 14:00…. And left at 17:30… that only shows that the food along with its wine were spectacular. We were greeted with entrees of Bellota Ham and Payoyo cheese followed by sirloin steaks and other cuts of beef which were devoured by the group in a matter of 15 silent minutes!  I hardly ever see service and food at this level in more touristic hotspots along the Costa del Sol.  El Muelle restaurant is a must in town and I would guarantee you will leave with a huge smile on your face and a button unloosed on your trousers.


A long day was experienced in such a short space of time, time actually flew by as we enjoyed very second of this town near Ronda.  If you would like to experience this excursion do let us know as we are planning a trip in the next few weeks.


Safe Travels.


The Weekly Traveller

Tuesday, 24 September 2013

Gibraltar - Britain in the Sun

Over the last few weeks major Television network Channel 5 has aired a real life story documentary about Gibraltar.  The series focused on Gibraltar’s tourism industry and how our united community make this destination a paradise to many.  Our team at Blands Travel are extremely interested in receiving your comments on the series and for this same reason I have decided to write this post and write about the added features that you may have not seen on the documentary.


Gibraltar offers much more than what was shown on the programme, special emphasis was given on the world renowned Barbary Macaques, the VAT products and the nice weather.  I have prepared four different activities that can be carried out in Gibraltar.  The programme has certainly been positive to Gibraltar and its actual Destination image, however, I would like to highlight that other features make this holiday destination  more appealing.


1.       Gibraltar’s Most Original Rock Tour


Investment in Gibraltar’s historical tourist sites mean that the Rock tour is a must when visiting Gibraltar.  Join us and jump aboard our buses to live an experience which captures history and our renowned apes which have long been an iconic feature to Gibraltar.  Sites such as St Michaels cave with its fantastic auditorium, is an emblem feature as you gaze at the fantastic stalactites which display this wonderful cave.  Visit Apes Den, see the Barbary macaques in their natural habitat, they roam the den freely and you will be able to see them up-close.


2.       Gibraltar’s Own Glass Factory


Have you ever wondered how glass is made? Have you only seen this on the Discovery Channel? Well if you come to Gibraltar, visiting the Glass Factory is a must. A short tour of glass making captures the essence of glass making.  The glass factory houses their own production team and you can easily become involved with the team as you may even try and make your own wine glass.  The Factory is located in Casemates Square just beside the Tourist Information Office.


3.       Alameda Botanical Tour


If nature is of interest… join us on a botanical tour of Gibraltar’s Alameda Botanical Gardens.  These gardens feature a wide array of flora and fauna which is truly fantastic.  Recent renovations of the gardens have enlightened the many different features on display, this can be complimented by a tour of the Wildlife Park which houses many different animals.


4.       A Wine and Tapas evening


Many different places in Gibraltar offer the opportunity of wine tasting followed by tapas, on a warm evening in September, the Wine festival is held at Chatham Counterguard.  If you are a wine enthusiast and enjoy tapas this festival is fantastic.  Along with the festival, the Rock Hotel offers a similar evening at the Khaima Marquee, a wonderful Moroccan Marquee set up in the hotels gardens.  


There are many other features that make Gibraltar a truly wonderful destination to visit.  If you are planning on visiting Gibraltar in 2014, let us know and we can prepare an itinerary for your visit.


Happy Travelling.


Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Our Easter Suggestions 2013

Discover our Spring secrets this year, It is hardly believable to see ourselves coming into March already.  Soon enough we will be introducing our summer line up for 2013.  As spring approaches fast, have a look at our portfolio of spring activities.

Family day out at La Pequena Africa – the new zoo based in Jimena is a fun filled day out for families; the name itself shows the vast amount of animals who habit the zoo.  It really does remind you of little Africa.  The zoo is great for children seeking other types of adventure as archery and zip lining.  Why not spend any given Sunday at the Park as they open every day including Spanish public holidays.

Isla Magica – Another one of our favourites is Isla Magica.  If it is your first time wanting to go let us know we will organise your trip for you.  The park never seems to amaze the younger generation with new rides and events occurring at the park.  Isla Magica is easy to get to and is certain to be enjoyed by all.

Quad bikingand Horse-riding – This adrenaline seeking activity is great at this time of year.  Tarifa offers all the amenities for a great quad session with your mates or colleagues.  Family horse-riding activities are also available during the spring months, I can guarantee a wonderful time whilst you gaze at the straits mounted on your horse.

Windsurfing in Tarifa – If you are a novice or a natural windsurfer Tarifa offers all kinds of activities for the enthusiast.  Our colleagues over there will be more than happy to show you around before getting agrips of what windsurfing really entails.   A must for anyone who has always wanted to try it out… you won’t be disappointed!

Day Trips inTangiers – Our favourite excursion to another continent thrills everyone.. our guides from Gibraltar and Tangiers will escort you all along.  Tangiers in Spring offers much more than you can imagine, visit the historical places of interest along with its gastronomy really make our trip enjoyable.

Happy Travelling


Wednesday, 13 February 2013

Relax with Blands Travel in Gibraltar


Life is not all about fun and games, nor about work.  Next time you visit Gibraltar why not pamper yourself to some relaxing free time at the many places Gibraltar has to offer. Although the Rock is small in dimension the many different varieties of comfort and relax we enjoy is immense. Get to know Gibraltar in a totally different way as we go through the top four relaxing activities you can carry out while you are here.


1. Atlantic Suites Gym and Spa – The Spa especially its outdoor pool area is fascinating for the warmer months as its located within the gardens of the Atlantic Suites complex.  Gazing through the bay of Gibraltar, the pool is certainly a place to be at.  The sun beds and sauna make it that extra special. 


2. Stroll through the Alameda Gardens – Stroll through these beautiful gardens as you hear the birds in the surrounding vicinity whistling away.  Stunning flora and fauna make the gardens a must see when you visit Gibraltar.  This hidden secret is a perfect getaway from the bustling town centre, be it to read or just catch some rays of the sun, the Alameda Gardens is a lovely escape from it all.


3. Tea and Scones – If you love your morning tea joint with fantastic scenery backdrop, why not visit the Rock Hotel one morning.  There English tea and scones make a perfect supplement to your morning.  Sit down in the terrace whilst you simply gaze at the bay of Gibraltar.  One fine secret to this is to visit the hotel at dusk when twilight is set to creep in… simply wonderful.


4. Lunch at the Caleta – The Caleta hotel is located on the other side of Gibraltar, a place of tranquillity where you will be able to enjoy some wonderful Italian lunch at the hotel’s restaurant, followed by a nice stroll through the Catalan Bay beach, here you will find some Gelateria’s which will certainly accompany you perfectly as you visit this picturesque village.


If you wish to find out more of Gibraltar’s relaxing hidden gems please let us know and we will tell you our little Spring secrets.


Happy Travelling


The Weekly Traveller