What’s new in travel, from hygienic plane seats to Antarctic bargains

Adventures on offer include an 11-day WWF Giants of Antarctica tour in peak humpback whale season led by leading marine ecologist Dr Ari Friedlaender and a team of WWF-Australia scientists.

The cruise is aboard Ocean Endeavour, which carries just under 200 passengers.  

To book Giants of Antarctica tours depart in February next year and March 2023. A category 4 porthole cabin (twin share) on Ocean Endeavour (under 200 passengers) is priced from $13,350 an adult, down from $15,705. See intrepidtravel.com or call 1300 255 485.

Next-gen antibacterial plane seats

New state-of-the-art antimicrobial plane seats have been released to the market by a European design firm.  

Flights are about to get more hygienic. Britain-based MGR Foamtex – which specialises in the design and manufacture of upholstery for premium cabin seating – has just announced its MGRSafeWall™ protection system, which uses silver-ion technology from British company Biomaster to protect surfaces from harmful bacteria.

The technology has been proven to “reduce the microbial load and the opportunities for cross contamination”, says MGR’s managing director, Jon Rose.

It is built into products during their manufacture and lasts their lifetime.

MGRSafeWall™ is coming soon to an airline near you. MGR’s clients include just about every big carrier, including Qantas, Singapore Airlines, JAL, Emirates and Etihad.

To learn more Brush up on antibacterial upholstery at mgrfoamtex.com

London’s masterpieces for Canberra

Vincent van Gogh’s Sunflowers (1888) is among the works going on show at the NGA.  

You know the old saying, “If the mountain will not come to Muhammad, then Muhammad must go to the mountain”? If you’re missing the European masters, hold tight. The National Gallery of Australia’s headline exhibition Botticelli to Van Gogh: Masterpieces from the National Gallery, London opens on March 5. With 60 paintings spanning 450 years, it includes works by Titian, Rembrandt, Goya, Turner and Cézanne.

If you fancy enjoying the exhibition with an intimate group of like-minded art lovers, Renaissance Tours’ three-day “Masterpieces from the National Gallery, London” is a good option. The tour, beginning on Saturday, March 13, will be led by former NGA art adviser Alan Dodge and involves a private viewing of the exhibition, dinner at one of the capital’s finest restaurants, and a wine tasting at Pialligo Estate.

Two nights’ accommodation at the Hyatt Canberra Hotel is included in Renaissance Tours’ Canberra gallery tour.  

To book The Renaissance tour is priced from $2500 a person twin share, including two nights’ accommodation (and breakfast) at the five-star Hyatt Hotel Canberra. The price does not include travel to Canberra. For more, see: Renaissance Tours.com.au

Last-minute options for the lovestruck

The Langham Sydney is offering loved-up packages for couples over Valentine’s Day and beyond, including transfers in its pink taxi.  

Still not sorted for Sunday, February 14? Win brownie points with a stay in The Langham Hotel Sydney, in the historic Rocks area. The hotel has a My Suite Valentine package. Or try a “Couples Reconnect” offer (until March 31), or even a “Pampered Pet Staycation”. We all have a four-legged Valentine too, right?

Your favourite four-legged friend is also welcome at the hotel.  

To book The Langham Sydney’s My Suite Valentine package is priced from $1098 and includes a one-bedroom suite, a one-way transfer in the hotel’s Langham pink taxi (within a 10-kilometre radius) and an in-room champagne breakfast. Call (02) 9256 2222.

It’s official: Last year was the worst year ever in tourism

The normally bustling hot springs resort town of Hakone, Japan (90 minutes from Tokyo), was deserted for much of last year.  

The World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) has finally crunched the data: international arrivals dropped by 74 per cent last year, meaning destinations worldwide welcomed 1 billion fewer tourists than in 2019. Just to rub salt in the wound, this compares with the 4 per cent decline recorded for global tourism arrivals during the 2009 global economic crisis.

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