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category:Czech group tours

ABTA’s role in the Brexit negotiations

Two tour managers from ACFEA, Becky Shaftoe and Dan Porterfield, recently attended the School Travel Forum AGM in Birmingham. John de Vial, ABTA Director of Financial Protection and Financial Services, gave an excellent presentation on Brexit and the UK travel industry.  ABTA is working hard with the UK government, and across Europe, to secure the best possible outcome for the travelling public as the UK departs the European Union. ABTA is lobbying to safeguard our transport links, including our air routes, and protect valuable consumer rights. Post-Brexit, it is important that travellers continue to enjoy visa-free travel and access reciprocal healthcare arrangements currently offered by the European Health Insurance Card.

Whilst there is still much uncertainty in the outcome of the Brexit negotiations, the UK government is advising passengers to have 6 months passport validity for travel to Schengen areas beyond 29 March 2019.  As always, it is essential that passengers continue to take out adequate travel insurance in addition to carrying an EHIC.

ABTA has produced several reports on Brexit and the UK travel industry which may be accessed here:




Published: 14 January 2019

Travelling Tips

Here at ACFEA we are all aware of the less-glamorous sides to travel: jet lag and the dreaded packing!  Eleanor Etherington, one of our experienced tour managers, has travelled more than most and here shares her top tips for beating jet lag and minimising your packing stress

Beating Jet Lag

  • Make sure you're well stocked up with healthy snacks (nuts and cereal bars are good) and plenty of water
  • Keep snacking and drinking throughout the journey! It keeps energy up and can help curb travel sickness, essential if you're spending many hours travelling  and are  experiencing a whole new country and culture for the first time.
  • Try and adapt to the new clock as fast as possible - don't be tempted to stay up until 3am just because you feel ok, as it'll take way longer to get comfortable with your new time zone.
  • Changing to destination time on your watch before you take off!
  • Take a big wrap or scarf for wrapping around yourself in a plane or on a coach. This keeps you warm and snug and keeps light and sound out, all helping you rest during long travel schedules. 

Minimising Packing Stress

  • Try to limit your clothes packing to one outfit per day, plus one 'posh frock', plus your performing gear.
  • Packing 17 tops for a week long trip will likely have you lugging a load of clean stuff all round your itinerary and then home again! (We've all been there!!)
  • You get through less clothing than you may think and worst comes to worst, you can use the hotel’s laundry service while on tour
  • Keep liquids to a minimum, use travel bottles (up to 100ml) where possible instead of bringing full size toiletries, and double up if you can (for example 2 in 1 shampoo conditioner, and moisturiser with a decent SPF).
  • I never travel without a scarf (see above!)
  • I always pack in a standard carry-on size suitcase, whether or not I'm checking it in, to remind myself I don't need to take the kitchen sink!
Published: 23 March 2018

'Small' vs 'large' tour operators

Lincolnshire Youth Symphony

Nigel Morley, pianist and conductor of the Lincolnshire Youth Symphony (seen above and below), started his own tour company Legato Tours in the early 1990s. He sold and operated by himself from his home but after a few years encountered difficulties when trying to expand. As a consequence he joined ACFEA in 2008. Here are his observations of “small vs large” tour operations.

Amateur concert tours are sold and promoted by a wide range of companies, all claiming to offer the same services. Clever marketing and a wizzy website can make a small company appear to be much larger than it really is. However, if we look a little closer all may not be as it seems. How can I say this with certainty? As a previous “small company” owner myself before joining ACFEA, I have perhaps a unique insight into both sides of the fence.

Lincolnshire Youth Symphony

I first entered the amateur touring business in the early 1990s, initially organising tours for my own groups and subsequently for friends and then friends of friends. At the beginning I offered a very limited range of destinations, Poland being my first, and one that over the years was repeatedly requested. Obviously I needed more strings to my bow and I tried to add a new destination every year, to meet my customers’ demands. The problem of all small tour companies - I was no exception - is that day to day operations get in the way of growth, research and planning. There are still companies around who will sell a tour when they do not have the resources in place to run it. “Give me your money and I’ll fix it!” is hardly a recipe for consistency.

Health and Safety is now a major concern for most clients. In my early days it was nowhere near as time and resource consuming as now - it is difficult to see how a small company could cope with the mountains of documentation currently required. Having moved to ACFEA in 2008 with its significantly larger operation, the difference is clear.

Health and Safety is a top priority with specialist training and systems in place; a great reassurance for teachers, parents, bursars and Trustees. ACFEA`s tour operations are genuinely worldwide. They do not base a proposal on vague or tenuous links; every destination offered has been thoroughly researched with the aid of local representation. There is no way that the “cottage industry” model can offer this. Some clients are naturally attracted by the idea that such operators will offer really personal service and many think that smaller will mean cheaper because of lower overheads. Both of these assumptions are quite wrong; smaller operators do not have the breadth of contacts, experience and buying power and their profit margins are the same. Less choice, similar costs, less supervision. The fact that touring tends to be highly seasonal means that great strains are put on small operations at peak times.

I have never once regretted the move to ACFEA – I can now negotiate from a position of genuine confidence in the results.

Published: 29 February 2016