Dubai on the prize! Why the Emirate keeps topping holiday destination lists
Chalkmarks: Madeira, Portugal, December 2023

Good morning. This is what happened in the world of travel this week: Friday 12th January 2024

SO, you go to Benidorm every year: you like tapas alley and a beer with breakfast. No one is judging. Or, perhaps you prefer the south of France: you like to drink Kir royale in the afternoons overlooking the Côte d’Azur. Okay, no pouting at the back, you’re more Miami, Malta or the Maldives. But it’s 2024, it’s time to move on. You’re looking for a new hotspot. You want something wildly different but you’re on a budget. Choosing where to travel is a minefield. Just when you’ve picked somewhere, you see a picture of a beach and you want to go there. What to do? The travel trend experts say our habits are shifting. Move over sunbeds we want more – to see more, do more and experience more. They have looked into their crystal balls and seen the future. Some of their predictions might help in our searches. Bring on the cold snap and take notes, travel’s hotting up. Here’s this week’s travel headlines. 

Stand up if you love travel! 

In the Middle East: Dubai has been ranked the No1 destination in the world for the third year in a row according to Tripadvisors’ 2024 Traveller’s Choice Awards. The Emirate rated highly following rave reviews on the quality of its accommodation, restaurants and things to do. Bali came second, London third, Hanoi fourth and Rome fifth. For the full list see MailOnline.

If you have money: Dubai is chock full of things to do all under the hot desert sky. Expect safari tours and camel rides across the vast Arabian sand dunes or, better still, take a hot air balloon to watch the sun rise. To cool down, jump on a boat and sail around the Persian Gulf, or take a splish-splash in a water park. If you want to sweat it out on a big adventure go paragliding around the skyscrapers, jet boarding and water-bike riding. Or, for even more UV exposure why not take the lift to the top of the tallest building in the world, the Burj Khalifa (828m or 2,717ft), and pap the rich people below shopping in the 90-plus malls, and gold and spice souks. Pack your factor 50!

If you don’t have money: It’s a book on the beach! 

Get out there: Tripadvisor said: “Everything feels extra spectacular in Dubai, from the ultra-modern Burj Khalifa to the souks and malls filled with gold and jewellery vendors. It’s a place where if you can dream it, you can do it, whether that means skiing indoors, dune-surfing in the desert, or zip-lining above the city.”

In Europe: Other award winners include, London which beat Rome and Paris to retain its crown as the No1 city in Europe. TripAdvisor said: “From Shoreditch’s swaggering style to Camden’s punky vibe and chic Portobello Road, London is many worlds in one. Explore royal or historic sites, tick off landmarks from your bucket list, eat and drink in exclusive Michelin-starred restaurants, enjoy a pint in a traditional pub, or get lost down winding cobbled streets and see what you stumble across – when it comes to London, the possibilities are endless.”

The trends to know: Try a sportcation or get relactive. That’s right, these are some of the new words Neilson Beach Clubs have made up as 2024 holiday trends – guaranteed to make headlines. Their survey reveals how 42 per cent of us want to learn a new sport this year. Some 38 per cent want to try pickleball – the popular American game which is a mix of table tennis, and badminton, played on a tennis court. Another category is for those who can only relax when active (hence, relactive!). Then there’s a rise in family bike rides, apparently. And, also popular is the solo-moon, which is going away alone… but on a group experience. Boss David Taylor said: “People are increasingly using their time away from work to not only recharge their batteries mentally but stay in shape physically. We call this ‘switching off by switching on’.” Travel Weekly has more.

Please, one more… Northern Ireland has big plans to capitalise on being the home of Halloween following the success of hosting Europe’s biggest four-day spooktacular party in Derry at the end of October. On Thursday, boss Alice Mansergh of Tourism Ireland, said the Giant’s Causeway was one of the most searched for attractions across Ireland, while Co Donegal made Lonely Planet’s top five global places to visit and Belfast came second on National Geographic travellers’ Cool List. She added: “Not everybody knows that it [Halloween] originated here on our shores over 2,000 years ago in Celtic culture. Now imagine that anywhere a visitor would go across Northern Ireland in the autumn months they get a sense of that authentic heritage and history behind one of the world’s favourite seasonal moments, Halloween, which started here.” Read more in the Belfast Telegraph.

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!

Eyes on Boeing: Who knew that if a plane door blew out mid flight and had to make an emergency landing, everyone would arrive back safely? This is what happened last Friday when an Alaska Airlines jet took off from Portland, Oregon. Around 20 minutes later there was a loud bang when the emergency door fell out, causing wind to rush into the cabin. A boy’s shirt was ripped off, an iPhone fell out (later found working and undamaged) and the oxygen masks came down. The plane was a 737 Max 9 built by Boeing. We wrote about it here for the i. The US authorities have grounded 171 aircraft for inspection. No airlines are yet affected in Europe or the rest of the world. But passengers are googling to see which aircraft they are flying on as part of their booking checks. Kelly Sites, 37, told Reuters: “As someone who is not an aviation expert, I would personally rather be safe than sorry because you don’t really see this type of information coming out about any other aircraft.”

Tantastic: A German judge has handed holidaymakers a partial refund after they were unable to relax on a sunlounger while on their Tui holiday in Rhodes, Greece. The family argued there was a policy that no sunbed could be left for more than 30minutes without use – but they said this was not enforced. They only found sunbeds free on one day of their £4,524 break. The judge awarded the family £277 compensation. That might not sound much but the ruling could be a game-changer, and encourage more disgruntled holidaymakers to make compensation claims! Look at the Sun.

How we spent it: We don’t want stuff anymore, we want holidays! That was the conclusion from Barclays’ bank Christmas spending review that came out this week. In December, Britons coughed up less on presents for others and shelled out more on themselves – going out and on getaways for 2024. Chalkmarks didn’t need to be told, we headed out to Madeira. Did we mention it? (see pic above) The Guardian has the figures. For some reason Madeira, Portugal, placed last – in at No25 – in the Tripadvisor awards. It definitely deserves to rise up the ranks.

Have you seen the prices at Gatwick: The airport has put up its charges to drop off at the North and South terminals to £6 from £5 for 10minutes. A spokesman said they hoped it would reduce congestion and encourage more people to use the train. Passengers can still be dropped off for free at the long-stay car park and take the free shuttle to the terminal.

This time last year: From beach breaks to adventure and faraway escapes, the January sales are on! Which? called on the government to hand more power to the Civil Aviation Authority to take on the airlines when things go wrong … The cost of flight tickets was putting off some holidaymakers from heading overseas … Travellers were also worried about Covid … But, holidays were selling like hot cakes … During the first two weeks of January bookings had surged … Holiday-hungry Britons were booking Tenerife, Palma and Lanzarote for beach holidays, and Amsterdam, Paris and Iceland for city breaks … The cost of a passport increased to £82.50 from £75.50 … Heathrow announced it saw the largest increase in passengers of any European airport … The airport published its most popular destination as New York – where we love to shop … China reopened its borders, ending three years of zero-Covid restrictions … The US grounded flights across the country after their communication system – NOTAM – failed … No. 26 By The Sea in Oban, Argyll and Bute, was listed as one of the top 25 hottest hotels on the planet. 

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