2023 Round-up: The travel comeback!
Chalkmarks: The night sky in Bari Old Town, Puglia, Italy, July 2023

Good morning. This is what happened in the world of travel this year: January to June 2023

POLLING by Chalkmarks at the start of the year found that 99.99 per cent of us were Googling away, falling down Insta-holiday holes, searching for inspiration to getaway this summer. No one was questioned for this research btw! But Abta did do a survey and found 61 per cent (we were close) said they were planning a holiday this year. And so it went… The advice was to book in advance to get the best deals. Demand was high. TV travel expert Simon Calder told Chalkmarks he wanted to get to Armenia, eastern Turkey and Georgia. Chalkmarks thought how about… dun dun duuun… Aktau in Kazakhstan? No one agreed. Instead two million Britons left this little island over Easter on 10,218 flights with many on packages heading to the Canary Islands, the BalearicsSpainTurkeyEgypt and Greece. By June we were reporting that holidays had become spectacularly expensive yet despite the cost-of-living crisis, they were mind-bogglingly booked up! Flights now cost an arm and a leg, and Chalkmarks repoted in June how a week’s holiday easily costs up to £1,000, whether at home or away. And for that, you don’t get much. Here is a whistle-stop tour of the year so far. Happy summer holidays!

The future’s orange!

January

Holiday hotspots for 2023: tomorrow is sunshine Saturday so where should you book as a new year of travel beckons? The experts said the travel industry was back in business and booming … Spain was tipped as numero uno destination for 2023 … Hot on its heels were Greece, Turkey and Italy … Ten years ago £1 bought $1.65, in January it hovered at $1.20 … Which? travel magazine listed Bulgaria number one for where the pound would stretch furthest … Jet2holidays and Kuoni scored highest for customer service by Which? … Croatia switched over to the euro and joined Schengen … easyJet announced its best sales day ever. … Holiday-hungry Britons were booking Tenerife, Palma and Lanzarote for beach holidays, and Amsterdam, Paris and Iceland for city breaks … The price of a passport would increase to £82.50, up from £75.50 … China reopened its borders ending three years of zero-Covid restrictions … The average spend per holiday hit £3,104 … Virgin Atlantic reported its bookings were 70 per cent higher than 2022 … On The Beach said travellers were booking four-and-five-star hotels, and all inclusives … Dubai was named winner of Tripadvisor’s Travellers Choice Awards 2023 … London retained its spot as the top destination in Europe … Trailfinders said it’d broken its all-time record sales a number of times this year … Trade association Abta reported they were expecting a bumper 2023 after 61 per cent of people said they planned an overseas trip … The cost of a package holiday to Spain, Turkey and Italy had jumped by 20 per cent or more since last summer … Heavy snow fell across Ibiza, covering its beaches in fluffy white stuff … The European Union’s high-tech biometric screening system for Britons (and all non-EU passengers) was due to start in May but was postponed until sometime this autumn … The Ancient Yemenite Kingdom of Saba, in Yemen, and the Rachid Karami International Fair in Tripoli, Lebanon, made Unesco’s list of World Heritage Sites in danger.

February

Flying into the weekend as airlines dominate the travel news headlines! Holidaymakers had been on a Ryanair spending spree over the previous three months sending the airline’s profits soaring to £185 million … Boss Michael O’Leary, said: “Woohoo”, unofficially! … Flybe went bust again … Heathrow boss John Holland Kaye, who led the airport through the pandemic, said he would stand down after nine years … British Airways and Virgin announced they would restart flights to China … Train ticket prices were being overhauled to “take politics out of the railways” … The Kentucky Bourbon whiskey Trail saw 2.1 million people in 2022 – almost the same numbers that visit Scotland’s distilleries each year … Storm Otto brought wind speeds of up to 80mph delaying trains and cancelling flights … Heathrow Airport announced it was “back to its best” with 5.4 million passengers travelling this year, figures not seen since before the pandemic … Bus lover Emily Turner inspired thousands when she travelled 400 miles from London to Edinburgh using only £2 local buses … Tate Britain announced it was reshuffling its art collection once again to feature female artists … Archeologists uncovered new structures at the ancient city of Chichén Itzá, Mexico … Which? revealed the cost of a week in Greece had gone £200 more than last year. It’s now £867 … A long-haul flight to the US cost on average £1,527 – that’s £350 more expensive than last year … Wizz Air was named the worst short-haul airline, earning just one-star for its overall service by consumer champs Which? … The world-famous Flying Scotsman turned 100.

March

Red Sea alert: Sharm el Sheik named the hot spot where the pound still has value Post Office Travel Money recommended resorts on Egygt’s Red Sea coast such as Sharm el Sheikh the bargain break of 2023 with £1 buying 36 (Egyptian pound) … Millions of pounds of holiday vouchers had gone unclaimed following hundreds of cancelled flights at the start of the pandemic … The BBC reported IAG, which owns BA, Aer Lingus and Iberia, had £533 million in unredeemed tickets and easyJet £110 million … Norway’s budget airline Norse Atlantic Airways announced it would fly to more US cities from Gatwick than any other carrier this summer … Tripadvisor named Baia do Sancho off the coast of Brazil the best beach in the world … Eurovision’s tickets went on sale costing from £30 to £380 … Notre Dame will reopen in December 2024 – five years after the devastating blaze in April 2019 … More than 50,000 Eurovision tickets were bought up in just 36 minutes…or 90 minutes, depending on where you read … Tate Liverpool was getting £29.7 million refurb as part of the Government’s Levelling Up policy … The return of winter marked a boom for Scotland’s ski resorts … Matt Hancock was cancelled for a travel and tourism gig in Qatar in June … Heathrow Airport revealed the most popular destinations were Dubai, New York and Madrid … The Hungarian Parliament Building in Budapest was named the best tourist attraction on the planet … A new shuttle service between Luton train station and the airport will zip travellers from Luton Airport Parkway to Luton Airport in just three-minutes for £4.90 … Gatwick stood apart from Heathrow by announcing it was back in profit after the pandemic … The passport people announced they were going on strike for for five weeks in April … According to an Abta poll 65 per cent of us are planning an overseas trip this year – that’s 16 per cent up on 2022 … Holiday-hungry Britons were heading to cities, and Rome was the favourite … Amsterdam told boozy Britons to “Stay away” … The UK was named and shamed by Greenpeace for having the most private jets take off than any other European country last year … Glaswegians were flying to Dubai in their droves … Wales will go introduce a holiday tax.

Have you seen our pictures: Our fantastic travel photos, which capture some of our favourite destinations around the world, are now available for sale on Alamy. Woohoo!

April

Join the queue for the Easter getaway! 19-hour delays at Dover made front page news … Brexit was blamed … French border controls were blamed … The small-sized port was blamed … The wet weather was blamed … Easter was blamed … Holidaymakers were blamed … Coaches were blamed … And school children on school trips were blamed … The Passport Office delivered “unacceptable delays” to holidaymakers waiting on their travel documents last year … The Government put forward seven sites to be placed on Unesco’s World Heritage Status list … The price of easyJet fights rocketed 31 per cent … Holidaymakers are taking shorter trips, down to seven days from 12 … Belmond, the company that operates the Orient Express, is cancelling its UK leg after 41 years due to the “enhanced border and passport controls” expected to come in later this year … National Express said it was introducing 15 new routes and adding 130 new coaches to its fleet due to a boom in business … The famous Brecon Beacons National Park was renamed to Bannau Brycheiniog … RMT strikes announced strikes on the day of the Eurovision final … Bamburgh in Northumberland was named Britain’s number one beach for the second year by Which? magazine … The Daily Mail launched a campaign to get the government to Scrap the Tourist Tax … The Civil Aviation Authority has opened a consultation to create a system where airlines are ranked on how well they treat disabled passengers.

May

London arise! Millions descend on capital for King Charles’ extraordinary Coronation The three-day coronation was here … King Charles III was crowned at Westminster Abbey … Rail workers voted to continue their walkouts … The US dropped all coronavirus restrictions, allowing anyone who had not had a jab into the country … Ryanair announced it had ordered 300 Boeing 737 Max jets as it sets its sights on flying holidaymakers to north Africa and the Middle East … Birmingham Airport was named the UK’s worst for its 30 minute flight delays … The Guardian had a scoop claiming that the EU’s planned passport checks for Britons entering Europe “is not going to happen”, this year at least … The big family holiday is back – and that includes trips with mum, dad, and even nana and grandad according to Starling Bank … The Eurotunnel Le Shuttle was mocked on Twitter after it shared its new name LeShuttle, dropping the word Eurotunnel to avoid confusion with the Eurostar … The iconic National Express coach company has been renamed Mobico to reflect its global aspirations … The UK Civil Aviation Authority is looking into two-hour flights between London and Sydney via space within 10 years … Center Parcs was put up the for sale with a price tag of £5 billion … Trains were back to being as busy as pre-Covid times … Britons are going on holiday twice this year … Another survey by Visit Cornwall showed more than half of Britons were planning on holidaying at home … The government announced it was thinking of cutting free wifi on trains … It looks like the EU will be forced to accept English as a common language across its rail network as Brussels wants to mandate that train drivers communicate in one language to ensure ease of movement across the bloc.

June

The burning question: Fancy a beer on the beach in Benidorm? Kicking off on the front pages was the news that more than 2,000 security staff would go on strike at Heathrow this summer affecting Terminals 3 and 5 … Which? consumer magazine’s 2023 customer survey ranked Wizz Air as the worst short-haul airline … Scientists at the University of Reading confirmed that planes are experiencing more turbulence due to climate change … A mystery donor came forward to save four visitor centres in Derbyshire’s Peak District … Gatwick turned 65! … A Travelodge survey found Britons are spending up to £1,000 on staycations – compared to £513 last year … Post Office Travel Money found that 66 per cent of people feel ripped off once they’re away, caught out by unexpected charges for food, drinks, transport and day trips … Train drivers voted to continue their walkouts for the next six months … The first two-day security strike at Heathrow was called off … Saga announced that the cruise-ship industry was earning it huge profits in the post-Covid boom with eight in 10 spots on its ocean cruises booked up this summer … Sunseekers were warned to stay out of water at Blackpool due to sewage leaks … On the Isle of Wight visitors were complaining that nudists were spoiling their family holidays … BBC News reported how one week, on an all-inclusive package, in Mallorca is up 21 per cent on last year, Tenerife up 22 per cent, Crete 25 per cent, Morocco 27 per cent, and Bulgaria 13 per cent … Research by consumer magazine Which? showed booking longer holidays can save hundreds of pounds … Glasgow was named one of the top under-rated hidden gems for a UK staycation voted for in a poll for car makers Dacia.

This time last year: Travel disruption thousands more summer holidays cancelled What a week it was on this lil’ island … Boris Johnson resigned … British Airways cut 10,300 flights to ease disruption at airports … BA agreed to reinstate a 10 per cent pay cut it imposed on staff during the pandemic … Holiday giant Jet2 said it would hand its staff an 8 per cent pay rise plus a £1,000 bonus … Pool-side holidays don’t interest us so much any more … Research showed four in 10 over 40s seek adventure when they’re away, choosing to hike, ride horses, bike and ski, instead of sitting on a beach. 

In case you don’t follow us on social media you really should. Here we are, here too and over here. Say hola muchacha! 

We must move on!

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