Something to declare: Hong Kong; a train to the Towers; crime in Ireland

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The Independent Travel

Destination of the week: Hong Kong - for less?

Three decades ago, Gatwick was the location for the first-ever cheap flights to Hong Kong when British Caledonian and Cathay Pacific were allowed to compete from the Sussex airport against British Airways' services from Heathrow. All UK-Hong Kong flights now go from Heathrow, but some new low-cost competition is set to start this summer.

A company called Oasis Hong Kong Airlines plans to fly to the Chinese city five times a week with Boeing 747s. Its website ( promises "a new product at a lower price to more destinations than existing airlines and of a standard and quality in which Hong Kong people can take great pride".

It also promises to be "governed by biblical principles"; its chairman is the Reverend Raymond C Lee.

Bargain of the week: a train to the Towers

Alton Towers opens for the summer tomorrow. Thrillseekers may be disappointed that the only significant new ride is a family affair, celebrating Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. But if you want to experience rides such as Rita - Queen of Speed, Oblivion and Nemesis, you can get a day out by rail for only a little more than the usual admission charge of £29.50 for over-12s, and £19 for those aged four-11.

Book at least a week ahead from a major Midland Mainline station and you get trains, coach transfers from Derby station and admission tickets for an all-in price. The adult rate is £34 from Leicester, Chesterfield and Sheffield; £38 from London St Pancras, Leeds or Wakefield; children aged five-15 pay £5 less. The offer is valid on Mondays, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays until 28 October 2006.

You can book at a station, call 08457 125 678 or buy online at

If you plan to travel to the theme park by other means, note that you can cut the admission price to £23 (adults) and £16 (children) by booking online at

Warning of the week: crime in Ireland

As the post-St Patrick's Day clean-up begins, the US government is warning of increasing crime in Ireland. "There is a high incidence of petty crime, mostly theft, burglary, and purse-snatching in major tourist areas. Thieves target rental cars and tourists, particularly in the vicinity of tourist attractions, and some purse and bag-snatching incidents in these areas have turned violent, especially in Dublin."

The State Department also warns that "there have been a limited number of incidents in which foreigners and tourists have been victims of assault, including instances of violence toward those who appear to be members of racial minority groups".