The travel editors’ special: Cruising, hotel costs and crossing continents!
Chalkmarks: Budapest, Hungary, September 2022

Good morning. This is what happened in the world of travel this week: Friday 2nd February 2024

WITH traveluary finally out the way, it’s time to fall off the holiday wagon. Brace yourselves. It’s going to be busy out there this year. More people than ever will be moving around the globe. And it won’t just be at peak times during the school holidays. Travellers are looking to getaway off-season when it’s not so hot, not too busy and hotels are cheaper. In 2023, it was all about Europe and this year – it still will be – but we want to go farther away. It’s also reservation hell out there whether you’re booking a budget hotel or a five-star room for £1,000 a night. Fear not, four UK travel editors zoomed in to a TravMedia call to spill the beans on where they expect we’ll be going, and giving us a snapshot of the year ahead… plus they shared their thoughts on the great English fry-up. We tuned in so you didn’t have to. We also round up the week’s travel headlines.

Travel on!

The Times: Travel editor Cathy Adams kicked off talking about hotel full English breakfasts and where the baked beans should go on the plate … She said this year is all about fun … People going out and having a light-hearted time … That’s what Icon of the Seas (more below) is about: fun travel … Over on Mumsnet some are worried about conflicts in the Middle East and asking if they should still go on holiday to Greece … Then there’s Covid and mask wearing, which is back in Greece and Spain … Plus, it’s going to be another hot summer across southern Europe and people will be looking to holiday in Scandinavia, the Netherlands and Scotland … Additionally, train travel is going to become increasingly important … And Eurostar is free for under 4s!

The Daily Mail: Travel editor Mark Palmer said he wanted to write more about the best breakfast buffets around the world … He went on to say that 14 million people had already booked a holiday for 2024 … Air travel is set to reach a record 4.7 billion worldwide … And for cruising, the figure stood at 36 million worldwide – up 6 per cent on last year … There’ll also be more demand for information about the off-peak shoulder season.

Daily Telegraph: Travel editor Ben Ross started with over tourism remaining a big theme … The Venice entry fee will be a talking point … The Canary islands are differentiating their offer he said … The Mediterranean will be popular … Also Turkey … Britons are buying more Olympic tickets for the Paris Games in July than any other country …. There is lots of interest in Italy especially Bologna, Milan and Sardinia … Interest remains in mainstream Dubai … For longer-haul holidays, southeast Asia could grow more this year mainly to South Korea, Japan and Thailand … The pound has gained in value … In the US, there could be problems around tipping and the cost of travelling to AmericaCruises provide great value … Luxury and wanting to go behind the curtain of high-end travel will be popular … Off-season shoulder travel seems like it will be more important … Also multi-generational holidays … There’s the return of the high-street travel agent as travellers seek advice and answers, not just inspiration … There’s huge interest in the classic British holidays such as the Cotswolds and Lake District … He questioned if plum tomatoes belong in an English breakfast (sorry Heinz)!

Financial Times: Travel editor Tom Robbins began talking about five-star hotels … After the £220 million refurb of the Savoy in London, he said rooms cost £350 … That was in 2010 … Just over a decade later at the newly opened OWO (Old War Office), rooms were £1,200 a night, for a small room … At the Peninsula it’s £1,300 … Within 14 years, the average price has reached four figures – £1,000 for one-night in a five-star London hotel … The market is splitting … There’s the price conscious mid-market … At the top end, prices are going up and up … On sustainability it’s too uncomfortable to have a long-haul flight story to the Maldives and a heatwave on the front page … A survey from a travel boss found customers did not care about sustainability … Old faithful destinations such as Italy and Greece will remain popular … People are also looking further afield to Peru and Eastern Europe … We are going towards greater regulation to tackle over tourism … The Venice tax is too small to do anything … To manage crowds in the US, there are hikes where you have to enter into a lottery to get tickets … Also, hotels evolving to become more lifestyle destinations not just somewhere to sleep … He never mentioned breakfast!

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!

Follow the umbrella: We used to say follow the Chalkmarks but this year we’re saying following the umbrella. Natalie at Chalkmarks is part of Open City’s Golden Key Academy 2024 cohort ready to explore London and become a tour guide. Over the next six months, she’ll be learning all about the history of the capital, its architecture and all its secrets. Be ready to join our debut tour in September, during the annual Open City festival when the doors fling open to London’s most famous buildings. To follow our journey we’ll be writing a live blog starting next week. Can’t wait to get started. Expect pics! Find us on X @thechalkmarks.

Happy fourth Brexit anniversary: On Tuesday did you raise a glass?!?! What everyone in the UK needs now is a holiday… to Europe! So, if you’re looking to explore history and somewhere to sit and enjoy the views, get to Venice. If you’re a foodie and like walking, head for Porto. 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 surf lessons in Norway and, if you want beaches and activity, then Tenerife is a top spot. All come with sea, sand and sunshine (mostly).

Sail-abrate: The largest ship in the world launched from Miami, Florida, on Saturday. There wasn’t a newspaper or TV crew on the planet that didn’t capture the moment when Icon of the Seas by Royal Caribbean glided out of port into the deep blue ocean in front of thousands of onlookers. Footballer Lionel Messi was there to crack open a bottle of Champagne against the bow. At 365 metres, Icon longer is than the Shard in London, and bigger than the Anthem of the Seas, which was the largest ship in the world – way back in 2015. That ship cost $1 billon, Icon cost $2 billion. Anthem could hold 4,000 passengers, Icon can take 10,000. It’s so big it has neighbourhoods across 20 decks. It has the largest waterpark at sea and the biggest slides on the water. It’ll sail around the Caribbean for a while and head to Europe at some point to float around the Mediterranean. Watch this space. If you missed it, catch up on the BBC.

Hold on to your hats: South Korea is building the highest ever ferris wheel in Seoul. Located close to the World Cup Stadium in Pyeonghwa (Peace) Park, the Twin Eye will be 180 metres (600ft) high – the same height as the NatWest Tower in London. Don’t get too excited, it won’t start spinning until 2028. MailOnline has more. 

Take us with you! easyJet is offering free holidays for grandparents who want to travel with their family. The offer made headlines this week but there are lots of Ts&Cs – most importantly it’s only open for 20 families, 10 on the 1st February (gone) and 10 on Monday 5th February. Matt Callaghan, at easyJet Holidays said: “We’re proud to offer thousands of free kids’ places, but we feel it’s time to recognise the grandparents.” Here here! The Guardian covered this one!

No need for a passport: Travelodge reported that one in three of us will holiday in the UK this year. Did you see it was a record 19.6C in a teeny village in Scotland on Sunday? It’s all to do with the jet stream – and they get these puffs of warm air quite a lot actually. They even have palm trees in Plockton, that’s way up in the Scottish highlands. No one ever said this before. That’s why they invented Nessie isn’t it – to keep us away? The best bit was the BBC reporter who called the manager of the Kinlochewe Hotel to confirm the Met Office’s temperature. Donald MacLennan, said it was “really hot outside”, adding, “but I can’t see anyone out enjoying it as it’s blowing a hoolie”. Anyway, back to the Travelodge survey of 2,000 people – it also found that one in four would be going abroad. So that’s what they call that research. So, home or away, just go away. That’s what we’re gonna do! Ta-ta!

This time last year: Flying into the weekend as airlines dominate the travel news headlines! Holidaymakers were on a Ryanair spending spree in the first three months of the year creating massive profits for the budget airline … Boss Michael O’Leary, said: “Woohoo” (Unofficially)! … Ryanair then added four new summer routes from Liverpool to Ibiza, Madrid, Shannon and Rome … Elsewhere, it all ended in tears for Flybe again having collapsed previously in March 2020 during the pandemic … Heathrow boss John Holland Kaye, who led the airport through the pandemic and all the ups and downs, announced he would stand down after nine years … The Government was spending £2.7 million to look into building five new train stations in southeast Wales to ease congestion on the M4 … British Airways and Virgin announced they would restart flights to China – more than two years after the pandemic … Emirates told us it flew a Boeing 777 with one engine running on sustainable fuel for a test flight.

In case you don’t follow us on social media you really should. Here we are, here too and over here. Say hola muchacha! 

Holiday in waiting!

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