The holiday is back and booming! Industry experts reveal where we’re going post-pandemic
Chalkmarks, Venice, Italy

Good morning. This is what happened in the world of travel this week: Friday 14th October 2022

THE view from Morocco, Japan reopens to visitors and Ukraine’s Volodymyr Zelensky asks Unesco for Odesa to be protected! Your fact-packed, must-read weekly travel round-up…

Croissant?

View from Morocco: As the leaves fall and the sky clouds over in the UK, jammy travel experts met in Marrakesh to review this year’s holiday habits. In numbers, they shared who went where, when, and why. The conclusion of travel trade organisation Abta was that “The foreign holiday is back”. Here’s their report.

Unpacked stats: The Abta 2022 survey found that 45 per cent of Britons travelled abroad in the 12 months to August. Since travel restrictions lifted in March, demand for holidays soared reaching 70 per cent of 2019 levels.

Back to the good old days: Most Britons took beach holidays and went to Spain (31 per cent), followed by France (20 per cent) with Italy and the US in joint third place (12 per cent). Simon Calder dived into the details

Click click click, click book: Despite the scary headlines this week of rampant inflation, the plunging pound and the overall economic armageddon, people just keep booking their holidays. And to pay for it, they are willing to hold back on eating out and clothes shopping. More than half of Britons (61 per cent) are planning a holiday in the next 12 months, according to the report.

Hot ticket: The all-inclusive package holiday is shaping up to be the must-have break for 2023, booked with a travel agent, who offer value for money and support if things go wrong. The Guardian looked at the trend. Here, we had an exclusive chat with Latin American Travel Association chairman Colin Stewart on why travel agents are the key to getting the travel industry back on track after the pandemic.

The glass is again half-full: Mark Tanzer, chief executive Abta, said travel agents were seeing “a high level of demand for bookings”.  “As our Holiday Habits 2022 report shows, people have found comfort in the security of booking a package holiday and accessing the expertise of travel professionals. It remains to be seen whether this will continue as a firm trend in 2023 but, if it does, it may prove a rare positive legacy of the pandemic for ABTA Members,” he added.

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!

Flying again: Heathrow regained its title as Europe’s busiest airport having fallen to 10th spot a year ago. The figures showed that despite the passenger cap, 5.8 million passengers flew in and out of Heathrow in September – just 15 per cent below 2019 levels. Airport CEO John Holland-Kaye warned of “economic headwinds” ahead but said “our aim is to get back to full capacity and the world class service people should expect from the UK’s hub airport as soon as possible”.

Turmoil: The pound fell again against the dollar (£1.12 to the $1) thanks to Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng, PM Liz Truss and the Bank of England – although they say there are wider global economic issues at play. The FT reported that mixed messaging from the Bank on Tuesday and Wednesday was making the markets nervous. On Thursday Mail+ suggested there could be a mini-Budget U-turn to bring back calm and stability. Then breaking today news, Mr Kwarteng was sacked – Sky News has the details. Despite the extraordinary events, there’s little hope it will bring confidence back to the pound. The damage has been done, making holidays abroad more expensive.

Top tip: Buy currency now before the pound falls further.

Show time: This week Japan reopened its borders to visa-free travel after more than two years being closed since the pandemic. Visitors are still required to show proof of vaccination on arrival or a negative Covid test – and many people are still wearing masks, even outside. AFP had the story. As the yen has tumbled to a 24-year low, a trip – even for us Britons – is surprisingly affordable. Why go? The temples and shrines, the cherry blossom, Tokyo Tower, Yoyogi Park, the world’s busiest crossing and bright lights of Shibuya, the robots, the bullet trains, the bamboo forest, the Geiko (our best shot), the ramen houses, the vending machines. Spam the world, it’s back! Where to go if you don’t know Japan? Start here.

Ukraine update: It was reported this week that almost 40 Ukrainian museums and historical sites have been looted since the start of the war in February. Ukraine’s minister of culture and information policy Oleksandr Tkachenko told UkraineWorld that one of the items taken include a golden tiara, set with precious stones, made 1,500 years ago during the rule of the Huns. On Tuesday President Volodymyr Zelensky asked Unesco to add the historic port of Odesa to its world heritage list to protect it from bombing. 

And the winner is: When lucky Liverpool won the bid to step in to stage Eurovision 2023 on behalf of Ukraine, it seemed a natural fit with the city’s Beatles heritage and it being twinned with Odesa. But then it hit a low note. Why? The Observer, MailOnline, i, BBC and others reported that soon after the announcement, accommodation on Airbnb and Booking.com had not only sold out but that some fans had seen their bookings cancelled and rooms readvertised at higher prices – one for up to £17,000 for Saturday 13th May, the night of the event. Liverpool mayor Steve Rotheram summed it up when he said “it’s not what we do in Liverpool” and told the BBC they’d be looking at options to ensure people aren’t priced out of attending. Perhaps they need a little help from their friends!

Five cities to visit: Last month we were in Bruges, Antwerp, Budapest, Vienna and Venice. We’d taken a two-week train journey starting in London St Pancras to Belgium; we then whizzed our way across to Central Europe. Much of the trip was on the fly and spontaneous. We let ourselves be seduced by where we were and what was around us. Very little was planned other than the trains. So what did we find? First, travelling at the start of autumn is a great. Temperatures are cooler and the crowds are gone.

In Venice: The moment we see it for the first time. Goosebumps. Is this a real place? Arriving by train is the best way for that first impression. And you don’t have to go looking for Venice: A kingdom of palatial buildings is there straight out of the station doors. The water taxis rush by on the Grand Canal looking like they’re straight out of a James Bond film (see above) – and the captains all look like male models. The gondolas are there. It’s the classic image. This is the highlight of the trip. We need a minute. And everyone arriving is the same. Most people are standing around, just looking around as influencers are bossing it on the Rialto. And so it’s up the staircase and across the bridge we go – trundling our suitcase behind us. We’re so excited. We channel our inner Bond girl – someone take our picture, please!

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