News: London Eye; Travel insurance; Orient Express

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The Independent Travel


The BA London Eye will be open in January for the first time since its launch in 2000. The attraction will be open every day except 3-8 January when it undergoes its annual overhaul. The Eye was voted "Best Day Out for Londoners" in a public poll conducted for the recent Visit London Awards. To book call 0870 5000 600 or go to


Up to 10 per cent of all travel insurance claims could be fraudulent, according to the Association of British Insurers. A survey of the public found that 47 per cent would consider submitting an inflated claim, while a further 29 per cent said they thought it acceptable to submit an entirely false claim. Most respondents appeared to consider defrauding a travel insurer to be no worse a crime than stealing hotel towels.


Orient-Express Hotels, Trains & Cruises has announced a special trip aboard its Northern Belle service to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the birth of Sir John Betjeman. On 9 September the Belle will depart London Paddington and make its way to Bristol. Brunch and bucks fizz will be served on route before the "grand reception" to be held in Brunel's Passenger Shed. The day will culminate in the presentation of the National Poetry Prize for Schoolchildren by Andrew Motion, the Poet Laureate. The return trip includes a three-course supper. The trip costs £295 per person. Call 0845 077 2222 or go to


Recovery of tourism in the areas affected by the 2004 tsunami may at last be under way, according to the UN's World Tourism Organisation. It said it hoped high winter occupancy rates would lead to the restoration of full capacity some time later this year. Arrivals to Phuket in Thailand remained down by 50 per cent in August, a figure that rose to 53 per cent on Sri Lanka's south coast for the same month. In October, visitor numbers to the Maldives were down 23 per cent, but beach resorts in all three countries reported forward bookings for January of at least 80 per cent.


Thomas Cook claims to have solved one of travel's great imponderables: why do dishes you eat on holiday never taste the same at home? Can You Cook It? is a free recipe book made up of recommendations from more than 1,500 of the company's overseas staff. The 23 pages represents a first foray into the crowded cookery market. Copies are available via, high-street stores or by calling 01733 417272.