BA set for Fort Lauderdale

British Airways will launch its inaugural direct flight between Gatwick and Fort Lauderdale, Florida, on July 6.

BA

The non-stop service will operate three days a week (four during the peak summer season), using a 275-passenger Boeing 777-200 aircraft with 40 business, 24 premium economy and 203 economy class seats.

Less than 28 miles north of Miami, Fort Lauderdale is known for its miles of golden-sand beaches and Venice-like waterways. It also has a thriving arts scene and a full calendar of events and festivals.

A new activity being offered in June and July is a moonlight sea turtle walks by the Museum of Discovery and Science. The hosted walks give guests the chance to see new-born sea turtles emerging from their nests on Fort Lauderdale’s shores.

In September, as part of the Summer of Love exhibition, The Young At Art Museum is bringing its celebration to Four Lauderdale Beach for six events called, XOXO: Love & Art on Fort Lauderdale Beach.

Norwegian Air also offers a direct service between Gatwick and Fort Lauderdale.

sunny.org

Visit Florida secures future

Visit Florida officials are breathing a sigh of relief after the organisation had its annual funding reinstated.

Visit Florida

The existence of the tourism body, particularly its overseas offices - including that in the UK - and it global marketing campaigns, were under threat after the Sunshine State’s own lawmakers made moves to slash the budget from $76 million to less than a third of that total.

However, at the eleventh hour the state’s pro-tourism governor Governor, Rick Scott stepped in to block the cut.

In a statement, he said the cash would enable Visit Florida, a Visit USA member, “to continue to market Florida as a premier vacation destination.”

Ken Lawson, Visit Florida’s President and CEO, sent out a relieved ‘thank you’ message to those he had spent much of the year lobbying to oppose the budget cut.

“Because of your dedication and support, Visit Florida is now fully funded and we can continue marketing our state," he wrote. "Now, we must move forward together to attract 120 million visitors to our state this year.

Regional destinations promoting Florida - with their own budgets - that are Visit USA members are: Florida Keys & Key West, Greater Fort Lauderdale CVB, Experience Kissimmee, Daytona Beach Area CVB, Discover The Palm Beaches, NAPLES, MARCO ISLAND, EVERGLADES - Florida’s Paradise Coast, Visit Central Florida, Visit Orlando, Visit Sarasota County, Visit Tampa Bay, Beaches of Fort Myers and Sanibel, Bradenton Area Convention & Visitor Bureau, Greater Miami CVB, New Smyrna Beach CVB, Panama City Beach Convention and Visitors Bureau and Visit St. Pete/Clearwater.

An estimated 1.4 million Floridians work in the tourism industry.

visitflorida.com

Alabama golf trail turns 25

Alabama’s visionary network of golf courses, which stretches from the northern to the southern extremes of the state, turns 25 this year.

Alambama

From Muscle Shoals near the Tennessee border to Mobile on the Gulf shores, the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail features 11 locations and of 26 golf courses – that is 468 holes of golf.

Several of the golf locations also have Marriott or Renaissance hotels.

The RTJ Trail was the idea of Dr. David G. Bronner, CEO of the Retirement Systems of Alabama, who canvased that the best way to invest in the future of Alabamans was to construct the network of courses that would attract golfers from across the USA and around the world.

Many scoffed at the concept but since it opened in 1992 nearly 12 million rounds of golf have been played and more than 500,000 individuals play the courses each year.

Moreover, the Trail, now one of Alabama's main tourist draw cards, attracts players from around the world and in 2015 contributed to a statewide tourism industry valued at $13 billion.

To celebrate a quarter century of offering consistent and quality golf across the state, this summer several of the RTJ Trail courses are offering a round of golf for $25 plus tax including cart on selected days.

These include The Shoals,- Muscle Shoals (Thursday, July 20), Cambrian Ridge, Greenville (Friday, August 4), Ross Bridge, Hoover (Monday, August 14), Grand National,- Auburn/Opelika (Thursday, August 24) and Oxmoor Valley, Birmingham (Thursday, August 31).

Special Silver Anniversary golf packages are also available throughout 2017.

rtjgolf.com
alabama.travel

Festive fun in Hollywood

This Christmas Universal Studios Hollywood will be celebrating in style at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter.

Hollywood

‘Christmas in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at the California theme park will transform Hogwarts Castle with a light projection show designed to capture the spirit of the yuletide season.

Hogsmeade village will shine brightly as the ‘town’ rolls out the festive décor and serves up holiday-themed food and beverages including hot Butterbeer.

And multiple times each evening, a colourful projection mapping will illuminate Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry with animations that dance across Hogwarts castle in tandem to a musical arrangement from of the Harry Potter movies.

Inspired by J.K. Rowling’s stories and characters that were brought to life in the Warner Bros. films, 'The Wizarding World of Harry Potter' at Universal Studios Hollywood is a recreation of the visual landscape of the fiction and films, including as its iconic focal point, Hogwarts castle. It features the same snow-capped roofs and cobblestone streets seen on the silver screen.

At its centre is the ‘Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey’ thrill ride, now enhanced with 4K-HD and ride film projecting at a rate of 120 frames-per-second as well as 'Flight of the Hippogriff' Universal Studios Hollywood’s first outdoor family coaster.

More details about 'Christmas in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter' will be announced in the coming months.

UniversalStudiosHollywood.com

Philly shopping gets better

Visitors to Philadelphia will soon have another location in which to enjoy tax-free shopping.

Philadelphia

Opening in spring 2018, the Fashion Outlets of Philadelphia promises to be a one-of-a-kind metropolitan shopping experience that will bring big-name retail brands offering value prices, destination dining and entertainment outlets to the downtown setting.

Spanning three city blocks, Fashion Outlets Philadelphia will be the largest integrated retail project in downtown Philadelphia.

Fashion Outlets Philadelphia will be conveniently connected to the colourful Reading Terminal Market, the Pennsylvania Convention Centre, three transit hubs on Market Street and close to Independence National Historical Park.

Shoppers in the city pay no tax on clothing or shoes.

Philadelphia is a walkable city known for its charming neighbourhoods, parks, cobblestone streets in the Historic District and major attractions such as the Liberty Bell - a symbol of freedom - and Independence Hall, where the Declaration of Independence was signed and the U.S. Constitution was drafted. It also has a wealth of world-class art museums such as the Philadelphia Museum of Art and the Barnes foundation.

Its newest draw card is the Museum of the American Revolution, which opened earlier this year.

discoverPHL.com

Mars in focus at Kennedy Space Centre

The Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex in Florida is this summer inviting guests to enjoy its Summer of Mars promotion.

Kennedy Space Centre

NASA’s goal is to send humans to the Red Planet in the 2030s, launching from Kennedy Space Center, and guests will be given an the inside track on the missions that will lead to this next giant leap.

They will also ‘meet’ the newest-concept vehicle designed for navigating the demanding landscape of Mars: a high-tech mobile laboratory similar to the Rover pictured. The vehicle is a ‘mobile lab’ and has massive wheels designed to travel over dunes, rocks and craters. Visitors cans see the machine before it goes on tour up the east coast in mid-July.

Among the Mars-themed attractions and shows this summer are Journey to Mars: Explorers Wanted, a live presentation that discusses what it takes to travel to Mars, featuring interactive simulators; Journey To Space, giving an overview of NASA’s past space accomplishments, current activities and future plans, including the Journey to Mars; Cosmic Quest, an interactive gameplay experience where trainees engage with real NASA missions, including building a Mars habitat and Eyes on the Red Planet, where visitors view Mars in 3D 4K resolution through the eyes of Hubble Space Telescope.

They will also learn about the spacecraft developed to explore deep space for NASA's Space Launch System in NASA Now.

Kennedyspacecenter.com