Book now! Flight prices fall in time for summer holidays
Chalkmarks: Montreal, Quebec, Canada, March 2024

Good morning. This is what happened in the world of travel this week: Friday 26th April 2024

IT may be chilly here but it’s hot online, with holidays flying off the shelves. Of all the questions we get asked: where to go, is number one. Of course the Chalkmarks archive is a fantastic travel department filled with ideas. So for a holiday brag why not try Norway and head into the Arctic Circle. Perhaps blow the budget and head on a safari in South Africa. Or be on trend and jet away to Palawan in the Philippines, regularly voted a Number One island on the planet. Or, how about swapping this lil’ isle for five fabulous islands just a short hop away?
 If you’re looking to explore history then somewhere to sit and enjoy the views, get to Venice. If you’re a foodie and like walking, head for Sicily. If you want to feel like you’re at home but warmer, then it’s got to be Malta. If you’re after adventure, book Iceland, and if you want beaches and activity, then Tenerife is the top spot. All come with sunshine, sea and sandcastles (mostly).

Ready, steady, travel!

Top of the list: Jet2 signalled on Wednesday that holiday prices are slowly starting to fall especially for trips in April and May. The holiday operator said more than half (55 per cent) of its tickets and package holidays had already sold out. Analyst Russ Mould, at AJ Bell, said: “This could be a sign that the pricing power enjoyed by the sector, with people prepared to pay whatever it takes to get their week in the sun, is starting to ease.” The Manchester Evening News has the full story.

Next up: British Airways is often cheaper than budget airlines Which? declared. They did some maffs and found out that on flights from London to Malaga, Athens and Naples, BA was cheaper than Ryanair and Wizz Air flying to two of the three cities. To Naples, BA was cheapest and to Malaga easyJet was cheapest followed by BA. To Athens, Jet2 had the best price. All this happens because of add-ons where a passenger books a flight but then pays more if they want extra baggage and to choose a seat. In diva-like fashion Ryanair cried “fake news”, while Wizz Air and easyJet said the extras weren’t required to fly. Good point. The first rule of travel is to check, check, and check the prices of different airlines. Bon voyage!

Still not ready: The EU’s border checks and visa scheme for Britons has been pushed back again to 2025.  The high-tech biometric screening Entry/Exit System (EES) was due to be rolled out last year. That was postponed until after the Paris Olympics in October but has been put back again. This time the delay has been put down to app issues and delays in getting the infrastructure installed at every airport in Europe so they alll go live at once. When it is finally launched, huge queues are feared at borders because every British traveller will need to have their photo and four sets of fingerprints taken, plus they’ll need their visa checked and to answer border control questions on where they are staying and for how long.

Stop the phones: On Monday morning The Sun had a scoop: Thousands of flights had been attacked by “Russian jamming” said the front page. This is when radio signals are so strong they drown out the GPS location of a plane, and it doesn’t know where it is risking its safety. However the Civil Aviation Authority jumped into clarify that “GPS jamming does not directly impact the navigation of an aircraft and while it is a known issue, this does not mean an aircraft has been jammed deliberately.” They also said it can be a by-product of military activity rather than deliberate attack on an aircraft.

On that note: A Mail on Sunday investigation revealed eco activists are continuing with plans to disrupt planes this summer. They are planning on getting jobs at airports, with Heathrow top of the list, which enables them to work airside so they can storm runways and cause havoc preventing planes from taking off. The wider plan is to cause disruption across Europe and work with eco groups in Norway, Denmark, Italy, New Zealand, Canada, Austria, and Switzerland.

All at sea: Stockholm is a capital city of 14 islands built around Lake Mälaren. For a whistle-stop run down, the city is divided into neighbourhoods, and Gamla stan is its 13th century medieval heart made up of three islands: Stadsholmen, Riddarholmen and Helgeandsholmen. Here you’ll find the Royal Palace, Parliament Building, The Prime Minister’s home, Sager House, and City Hall where they feast after the Nobel Prizes have been handed out. You’ll also come across the Rune stone carving, the narrowest street, Mårten Trotzigs gränd, and the tiny statue Järnpojke or Iron Boy. Finish on Plaza Stortorget filled with its mustard-coloured buildings that are the backdrop to many holiday snaps. It’s filled with cafes and people sitting out on the pavement. Even though this is northern Europe, the Swedish capital can get super hot in July. With the sun beating down, it’s Scandi eye-candy. Oooh, hot dogs!

In the mood for food: If you didn’t know that Estonia has great food, it does, so head to the food fest in Tartu for the best street eats. Drink Estonian wine and kvass then tuck in to smoked fish, mulgipuder (potatoes), vastlakukkels (pastries) as well as burgers, beer and ice cream. Whatever your taste they have it here. Don’t forget the sun cream! See here.

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!

Go away: Venice finally introduced its €5 (£4.30) tourist tax for day-trippers on Thursday to deal with overtourism. It’s the first city in the world to charge an entrance fee. Locals said it made them feel they were living in a theme park. Authorities hope the fee will help reduce tourist numbers on busy days but most admit €5 won’t put anyone off. For now the charge is on trial, only on peak weekends until the end of July.

Pub of the week: Taylor Swift fans have been busy buying beer in a south London pub the pop star went to when she was with ex-boyfriend actor Joe Alwyn. It’s been name checked on one of the 31 songs on her latest album The Tortured Poets Department. It refers to “some bar called The Black Dog”, and that “some bar” happens to be The Black Dog in Vauxhall. Fancy a swift one? (We stole that off X!) cos’ it’s been packed ever since, with security added and it’s booked out when her Eras tour hits the UK in August. The Guardian has more.

This time last year: Countdown to the coronation: Royal fans are sure to find something up their street! The country was going all-out for the upcoming Coronation … Red, white and blue cup cakes were being baked up and down the country … High streets were getting covered in Union Jack bunting … Beefeaters at the Tower of London showed off their new uniforms that replace ER with CR … Heathrow offered to rename Terminal 5, King Charles … He turned them down … Legoland Windsor unveiled a mini Buckingham Palace with royals on the balcony … And, Madame Tussaud’s revealed a new waxwork of Queen Camilla, here on Reuters …  Elsewhere, Bamburgh in Northumberland, was named Britain’s number one beach for the second year by Which? magazine … Here, Chalkmarks reported it winning in 2022.

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