Suitcases at the ready: Where to travel and when in 2024!
Chalkmarks: Porto, Portugal, October 2021

Good morning. This is what happened in the world of travel this week: Friday 10th November 2023

THE plan for 2024? Italy, Spain, France, Portugal and Iceland – in that order. According to easyJet these are the top five countries we want to visit most next year. After that it’s Turkey, Switzerland, Cyprus, Egypt and Morocco. Phew! It looks like Chalkmarks still has quite a few to get to. The easyJet survey of 2,000 people revealed that 79 per cent of us want to go somewhere we’ve never been in 2024 while 76 per cent say exploring the world is one of their New Year resolutions. And 69 per cent want to be more adventurous and try jet skiing and quad biking. We want to go to the Galapagos – 100 per cent ! Until then here’s a whistlestop tour of this week’s travel headlines!

From holidaymaker to explorer!

Number one in Europe: Albania hit the headlines earlier this year when stunning beach photos tagged the “Maldives of Europe” went viral – but now the stats are in. Albania was the fastest growing tourist hotspot in Europe this summer according to the UNWTO World Tourism Barometer. Spain, France, Portugal and Greece didn’t even make the top 15. Qatar came number one worldwide for its 95 per cent increase in tourism since 2019 followed by Saudi Arabia which saw a 58 per cent rise. Albania took the third spot with 56 per cent growth. Here’s the stats on Euronews.

Why Albania: It has the triple: that’s sun, sea and savings – it’s pretty cheap. Two scoops of gelato cost 100 lekë (pronounced lek), that’s 80p! We flew in and reported live from the beaches – click here – in September. The biggest factor was because Albania has been a hit on TikTok and Instagram all year with holidaymakers posting pictures of Dhermi and Ksamil in the south and tagging them the “Caribbean of Europe”, “Little Italy”, and the “Maldives of Europe”. Who doesn’t want to go there? Where will TikTok take us next year?

Elsewhere: Readers of Wanderlust magazine named Croatia their most desirable country in Europe and Australia the most desirable country in the world at their annual travel awards. The most desirable European city went to Seville, Spain, and the most desirable city in the world went to Cape Town, South Africa. For all their most desirable destination winners, here’s the full list

The King’s Speech: Earlier this year Chalkmarks reported how the cost of airline add-ons, such as charging extra to take luggage on board or paying for a seat, had soared in the last ten years. And this week, the government vowed to crack down on the practice known as price dripping – where a low price is advertised but after a few clicks, the cost has increased. King Charles announced new protections for travellers under the Digital Markets, Competition and Consumers Bill. Which? magazine said price dripping was “particularly concerning during a cost-of-living crisis, when it’s more important than ever for shoppers to be able to stick to a budget”. Here is their advice on avoiding paying extra. 

What Ryanair is doing? Putting up airfares. After announcing mega profits (£1.6 billion) on Monday due to a bumper summer, Ryanair announced ticket prices would be going up over the winter months partly due to jet fuel costs. Airfares already went up by 24 per cent this year by around £50, but they will rise again, somewhere in the “mid-teens” they said. Here’s more on Sky.

What next for planes: Before the end of the year Virgin Atlantic will fly from London to New York in a world-first flight fuelled on 100 per cent “chip fat” oil aka sustainable aviation fuel (saf). On Monday the Civil Aviation Authority gave permission for the flight to go ahead on Tuesday 28th November from Heathrow. NY hasn’t yet agreed! But, if they say yes, and if successful it will herald a new phase in aviation and cut carbon emissions by 70 per cent. CAA boss Rob Bishton said: “This is a reminder that together we can drive change, reduce emissions and make the skies greener for generations to come.” Reuters has more.

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!

Sunny-side up: Not only is Mallorca an easy to reach, sun-kissed island but it offers 101 different holidays. Take this break we’re on in Port de Pollensa on the northeast coast – a popular retreat for Britons since before the 1930s. When the temperature rises in the morning it’s the sort of place you could read an Agatha Christie story all day long. And perhaps the Queen of Crime did enjoy the odd book by the pool as she used to stay just up the road at the landmark hotel Illa D’or. But we don’t want to do that – not when there’s cycle routes that’ll take you from the beaches to the mountain tops. There’s also cliff jumping, wild snorkelling, canyoning, hiking and climbing. This is a whole different side of the island compared to the southwest where mega club BCM leads the way in Magaluf. Up here, we’ve got a ticket for snorkelling and kayaking around the coast of Cala San Vicente which has more than 50 caves to explore. After that though we’ll settle in for a good read of Problems In Pollensa Bay. When it comes to ticking holiday boxes nowhere beats Mallorca.

Get your CVs in: The Hogwarts train is looking for drivers. Described as a “dream job”, ScotRail is searching for candidates to drive its trains along the scenic West Highland Line – regularly voted one of the world’s best rail routes. The line starts in Glasgow and travels north through the Scottish highlands to Oban, Fort William and Mallaig. It includes the Jacobite Steam Train aka the Hogwarts Express which crosses the Glenfinnan Viaduct. The railway bridge features in the second film, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. It pays up to £52,566. Applications close on Saturday 18th November. The BBC has more.

Merry Christmas: Chocolate in your advent calendar? Nahhh, that’s soooo 2022! On Tuesday at 8am easyJet put out an Advent(ure) calendar. Costing a mere £695 (could go on holiday for that), the calendar comes packed with £2,000-worth of easyJet travel goodies including return flights, money-off vouchers, airport lounge entry and on-board food and drink vouchers! Just four include a golden ticket for a package holiday for two in an Iberostar hotel. Be warned there are lots of T&Cs with dates you can’t travel on and airports you can’t fly into. There’s only a limited number available too. MailOnline has all the deets.

This time last yearWorld travels to London: We bring you the industry’s expert views direct from WTM We were at WTM (World Travel Market) in London where tourism boards, holiday operators and everyone in between came together to talk, share intel and sell… We were in the front row hearing all about the latest trends… We tweeted a lot, we couldn’t help it… Holiday bookings were up and even selling out… Ryanair announced it made £1.2billion in the first six months the year… The travel industry was optimistic the mini-boom would mean a post-Covid recovery in 2023… Holiday prices were forecast to increase by 15-to-20 per cent in 2023… The take-away tip from WTM was to book early for a holiday… Elsewhere, the annual WTM Industry Report revealed who was to blame for those queues, delays and the missing baggage at airports? The Government, said travellers… city breaks were popular… And, almost 90 per cent of us were travelling with Covid… The Azores, northern Greece, BulgariaScotland, Estonia, Netherland, SicilySloveniaWales and Bratislava were the 10 most underrated destinations… Which? once again voted Britannia Hotels the worst hotel chain for the 10th year in a row… Glastonbury tickets sold out after about an hour… Stirling became the first augmented reality city, allowing visitors to use a free app to find their way around. 

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