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More Brits choose independent Spanish holidays

UK holidaymakers choosing to travel to Spain independently overtook the number taking package deals for the first time, reported the trade magazine TravelWeekly.

New research from Mintel found that in the 2004 to 2006 period, independently booked travel grew by 11 per cent to 59 per cent of all holidays to Spain.

The data was based on a survey of 2,000 holidaymakers to the Mediterranean country.

And of those polled about their last holiday to Spain, 40 per cent said they had booked packages through agents, a significant 14 per cent fall from 2000.

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Love in a foreign country

More and more couples are choosing to get married abroad, according to a spokesman from a specialist wedding travel agency.

Spokesperson Mark Bell for White Sand Weddings said that an increase in luxury hotels, cheaper flights and bad weather have prompted more couples to have their wedding ceremonies abroad.

"Weather is clearly one reason why so many couples choose to tie the knot abroad - and after such conditions over the past few months, we have noticed an increase in enquiries for 2008/9 weddings."

Mr Bell added that marriages abroad have the advantage of being removed from friends and family, making it a more private affair.

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Murray makes perfect start after injury lay-off

Andy Murray marked his comeback with a comprehensive straight-sets victory over Robby Ginepri in the first round of the Montreal Masters.

The young Scot had been out for two months with a wrist complaint and, despite appealing for time to build up to match sharpness prior to the match, was nevertheless far too strong for his American opponent.

However, should he beat his next opponent he is likely to face stiff competition in round three - with world number one Roger Federer lying in wait.

"I missed being out on the match court," Murray said after the match.

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Tennis hopefuls offered chance to train in La Manga

A junior tennis tournament has been held in Wigan this week, with victors being offered the chance to play in a grand final to take place in either Center Parcs in Britain or the La Manga Club in Spain.

More than 120 players participated in the Wigan Leisure and Culture Trust Open Junior Tournament, including several Wigan locals - while other competitors hailed from as far away as Kent and Worcester.

The tournament is one of a series throughout the year being sponsored by the Sunday Telegraph and Center Parcs.

La Manga Club in Spain, set in the Murcian hills, provides for a range of leisure activities including swimming, bowling, squash and petanque.

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Spain leads golf tourism market

The importance of the game of golf to the tourism industry has been highlighted by the fact that the Turkish Golf Federation (TGF) is actively pursuing a policy to cultivate a "golf culture" in the country.

Should this be achieved, it is hoped that the golf tourism market will also experience growth.

"It is impossible to raise golf tourism if there is no golf culture in the country," confirmed Ahmet Agaoglu, TGF president, in the Voices newspaper.

Turkey is hoping to emulate Spain, the current golf tourism market leader.

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Murray returns to action in Montreal

Britain's number one tennis player Andy Murray is to return to action after a two month injury lay-off at the Montreal Masters this week.

Murray injured his wrist while playing in Hamburg in May, and missed the French Open and Wimbledon as a result.

However, he has now fully recovered and will play in three events in the lead-up to the final grand slam tournament of the year, the US Open at Flushing Meadows.

Before his participation in the tournament, Murray, now ranked 13 in the world, played down expectations over his form, citing a need to improve match fitness before he can reach top gear.

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Murcia council commits to environmental protection programme

The city council of Murcia is to look into ways to protect the surrounding countryside, it has been revealed.

To this end, local authorities have joined forces with the organisation Locales + Biodiversidad 2010, an initiative which aims to encourage the sustainable use of rural land and the conservation of the surrounding areas.

The Murcian council has specifically committed itself to ensuring the decline in plant and animal life in the area is arrested by 2010.

As well as admiring the local scenery, visitors to Murcia could relax in a luxury Spanish villa at the resort of La Manga.

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Woods hurries to WGC Invitational trophy

Tiger Woods put his British Open disappointment behind him to win the WGC Invitational at Firestone Country Club by an astonishing eight strokes.

Trailing overnight leader Rory Sabbatini by one going into the last round, Woods, who fell well short of securing a third Open in a row at Carnoustie last month, shot a seven-under-par round of 65 to leave the rest of the field in his wake.

Nearest rival Sabbatini eventually finished eight shots adrift, tied for second with Englishman Justin Rose after a disappointing 74.

"That was fun," said Woods on his round.

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Ryanair plans new Alicante route

Budget airline Ryanair is to increase its presence in Spain by adding Valencia and Alicante to its list of operational bases, it has been revealed.

The Irish carrier already has 20 bases in eight countries across Europe - the most of any other airline.

The move comes as the battle for Spain - the most sought-after country in the low-cost carrier market after the UK and Germany - heats up.

Ryanair also opened in Madrid in November last year, with rival EasyJet following suit in June.

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Norwich Airport "looking to replace Flybe's Alicante service"

Norwich International has expressed its desire to convince an airline carrier to operate flights from the airport to Malaga and Alicante, it has been reported.

According to the Norwich Evening News, the airport is keen to find a replacement service after budget operator Flybe decided its winter service to the two destinations was no longer viable.

As a result, flights will cease from November - and while airport managing director Richard Jenner admits it will be hard to find an immediate substitute, he did reveal negotiations are currently underway to secure the route's long-term future.

So far, two airlines are interested in plugging the gap, Mr Jennings said, with "good progress" apparently being made in preliminary talks.

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