As the world heats up, the burning question is: where do we go from here?
Chalkmarks: Monopoli Tower, Puglia, Italy

Good morning. This is what happened in the world of travel this week: Friday 28th July 2023

YOU’RE by the pool, you’ve got a cocktail. This is the image you’ll post on Instagram. So far so good. You made it. You’re on holiday. A much-needed break. We’ve been doing this for decades. But has too much of a good thing become a bad thing? Welcome to the new crisis – climate change. Aren’t you glad you came? Travel agent group Abta reported two million Britons left the UK last weekend at the start of the school summer holidays – mostly on planes. This week the front pages have covered the wildfires in Rhodes, Corfu and Sicily. People have died, homes and hotels have burned down and holidaymakers have evacuated. There have also been fires in France, Spain, Portugal, Croatia, and Algeria. Since the start of the extreme heatwaves in Europe at the beginning of July, holiday hotspots have caught fire. The burning question is: where do we go from here? Here’s some answers that made the travel headlines. 

What is happening?

Hot topic: Today’s front pages lead with the news it was the hottest July on record. The i news says: “World enters era of ‘global boiling’”, the Guardian writes: “Era of global boiling has arrived and it is terrifying, says UN chief”, and the Metro reads: “Global boiling”. The UN boss António Guterres said yesterday: “Climate change is here. It is terrifying. And it is just the beginning. It is still possible to limit global temperature rise to 1.5C [above pre-industrial levels], and avoid the very worst of climate change. But only with dramatic, immediate climate action.”

Cool destinations: Holidaymakers are already changing their travel habits and heading to the Czech Republic, Denmark, Ireland and Bulgaria. Data from European Travel Commission (ETC) revealed travellers are turning away from the Mediterranean and looking to cooler climes. Reuters has the full report.

Is it safe: The travel industry has come under pressure over whether to allow holidaymakers to cancel upcoming trips, if they are due to fly to areas affected by the deadly fires, and issue refunds Unfortunately, until the Foreign Office updates its guidance and advises against to travel, there is little chance of compensation unless the operator cancels the trip. Here, consumer champs at Which? magazine expertly answer every question.

The place to be: Puglia in Italy has come under the spotlight this week for being the only region in Europe where the cost of dining out for UK holidaymakers has actually fallen – by 10.3 per cent. Chalkmarks can vouch for this as we were there earlier this month (see our Pix of the Trip). As travellers search for affordability, the report by the Post Office Family Holiday Report was perfect timing. Analysing the cost of food, drink and hitting the beach, it revealed the two cheapest places to go away are Sunny Beach in Bulgaria – even though prices are up 41 per cent on 2022 – and Marmaris in Turkey – up 33.3 per cent. Laura Plunkett, at the Post Office, said: “Ironically, two of the cheapest destinations we surveyed – Turkey and Bulgaria – have seen the biggest rises. However, they are still places where bargain hunters will get the most for their money.” The Mirror has the full list of the cheapest holiday hotspots.

How’s your Italian? Don’t fret if it’s not good. Thankfully, the words Prosecco, pizza and pasta can get you pretty far. The world has grown up with these charming creations, but if you’re in southern Italy and feeling adventurous, here’s our top recommendations to try. An absolute must is orecchiette con cime di rapa (orecchiette with turnip), then Scagliozzi or fried polenta chips, and panino col polpo (octopus sandwich). Also don’t miss tiella Pugliese (potato, rice and mussels), pinsa (local pizza) panzerotto (deep fried pizza) and pasticciotto (pastry filled with custard). It’s all so delicious. This isn’t just any food… Head for the heel! How Bari is the gateway to Italy’s best kept secret.

Red light: Amsterdam is at it again. Earlier this year they told boozy Britons to “Stay Away” if they’re coming to smoke cannabis and visit the Red Light District. Chalkmarks reported on this back in March. This week they went further, with the city council saying they also want to ban cruise ships from docking next to the main train station Centraal. It all points to wider plans to relocate the cruise terminal outside the Dutch capital to reduce pollution. Nothing is expected to happen before 2025. The Guardian has more. 

Cash out: Chalkmarks thought currency exchange was dead but intriguingly it’s alive and well. Tesco Bank revealed this week that travellers are exchanging £308 for their holidays this year. That’s a lot of cash to be carrying around in your wallet. But it’s slightly down from the £336 shoved into pockets in 2022. They think the reduced amount is due the cost of living crisis. Strangely though, their research shows 18 per cent of travellers exchange money before travelling, six per cent use an ATM at the airport before flying, 13 per cent use a debit card when abroad and 10 per cent withdraw money when on holiday. So what about the remaining 53 per cent – what do they do? Here it is on PA Media.

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!

Zone out: The one-day Travelcard (costing £15.20) that lets you use all the Tube and buses you like in a day looks as if it could be scrapped in January 2024. The Mayor of London Sadiq Khan wants to phase out the paper ticket in favour of Oyster Cards and contactless payments. The BBC reported that the deputy mayor of London Seb Dancer said “TfL can no longer afford” to fund the £40 million agreement. 

Summery suggestions: If you’re into history and heritage, Unesco threw out a very useful map on X (the platform previously known as Twitter) highlighting its 58 sites across the UK, perfect for rainy, and sunny, days out. Let the train take the strain and consider a visit to Durham and its cathedral, Bath and its spa, York city centre, the Tower of London or somewhere else. Here’s the list.

Tall tails: The ultimate experience destination reopened on Monday in Scotland following a £1.5 million revamp. Aye, it was the Loch Ness Centre in Drumnadrochit, deep in the Highlands. Dedicated to legendary Nessie, visitors can learn hidden secrets and explore what kind of creature might be lurking under the surface of the loch. The centre also charts the history of sightings of the Loch Ness Monster with three already this year – the last was in June. The very first was in the year 565, and after almost 1,500 years there’s been 1,157 sightings. Here’s more.

This time last year: Go Away: The Great British summer travel special! It was the end of Neighbours and Love Island finished but there was women’s football to look forward to and the Commonwealth Games … Plus everyone was going on holiday … Dover became the ‘hotspot of holiday hell’ … It was estimated 72,000 passengers created more than 200 miles of tourist and freight traffic waiting to sail to Calais … The trouble then moved to Folkestone for the Eurotunnel … The chaos made all the papers including the FT WeekendThe Observer and the Daily Mail … MP John Redwood recommended Britons go elsewhere on their holidays … The AA issued an “amber” traffic warning as the great British holiday getaway met train strikes which met big sporting events, namely the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham and the women’s Euro 2022 football final at Wembley with England v Germany (England won 2 1) … Sunny Beach in Bulgaria and Marmaris in Turkey were named the two cheapest holiday resorts in Europe … The Economist reported a glass of bubbles at the Ritz had gone up … Staying at a luxury hotel had doubled over the last two years … The Colosseum in Rome was worth £65 billion, according to Deloitte … And The Independent told us the most-viewed destinations on TikTok were the UAE, New York City then London.

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RIP Twitter 24th July 2023!

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