Travel goes green but there’s a red alert on soaring flight prices!
Chalkmarks: Frankfurt Main train station, Germany, 2022

Good morning. This is what happened in the world of travel this week: Friday 21st April 2023

WHERE does a travel writer go on holiday? We’ll tell you. Benidorm. Yay! There are two reasons for that. One, it’s an old package holiday favourite. Not ours, but Britons have been spending a lot of time there for the past one hundred years. Plus, this week easyJet said bookings to the former fishing village on the Spanish Costa Blanca were sky high. Why? We Googled it. There are two sandy beaches, a few tattoo parlours and plenty of pubs and hotels. And two: it’s practically an eco-resort. A few weeks ago on a Zoom call, a travel PR was bragging about Benidorm’s environmental credentials because it’s so compact. Then, this week the ‘going green’ theme was in the news: from planes using bio-fuel to the Brecon Beacons decarbonising its name. Perhaps it’s symbolic of springtime but where we take holidays and how we cross continents is getting more coverage. At Chalkmarks, we want to learn more and so, we’re going to Benidorm for sun, sea and sustainability. Until then, here’s this week’s travel news.

A cocktail by the pool!

Look away now:  The price of easyJet fights has rocketed 31 per cent compared to last year. Boss Johan Lundgren said that was about £12, adding up to “a couple of coffees and a snack in an airport”. As summer bookings boom for the budget airline, it expects bumper profits with passenger numbers already sitting at 15.6 million for the first three months of 2023, up from 11.6 million in 2022. He also revealed that holidaymakers were taking shorter holidays, down to seven days from 12 days. easyJet reported strong demand for Spanish beach holidays in Benidorm, Mallorca, and Malaga – and elsewhere Faro, southern Portugal, and Amsterdam. Lundgren said fares had risen due to the “massive” cost of jet fuel. The Guardian had the story.

Powering ahead: Flight prices are set to soar as airlines begin switching to sustainable jet fuel to lower emissions. While it’s great news for the planet the experts admit the cost will hit holidaymakers in the pocket. They’re not too worried though with passenger numbers expected to soar to nearly 250 million by 2050 – the same year the UK plans to reach net zero, a pledge to no longer pump climate changing gases into the atmosphere. Heathrow Airport’s director of sustainability Matthew Gorman said: ‘The evidence shows… in most cases people are happy to pay a bit more to travel.’ PA Media had the story.

Murder of the Orient Express: Not by Agatha Christie but by Brexit, according to the Observer, Sunday Telegraph and the Metro. The Sunday papers announced that Belmond, the company that operates the Orient Express, was cancelling its UK leg after 41 years. It said this was due to the “enhanced border and passport controls” expected to come in later this year. The service which carries passengers across Europe to cities such Venice and famously on to Istanbul will end its London to Folkestone route in 2024. Passengers will have to take the Eurostar and pick up the Orient Express in Paris. The Observer had all the gory details.

The warning is: The EU’s Entry-Exit System (EES) will mean every Briton needing to have their photo and four sets of fingerprints taken on arrival into Europe. Chalkmarks wrote about this in January. There’s no date yet when this is due to be rolled out, but it’s expected this autumn so travel firms are preparing themselves for the chaos. Get used to being stuck in queues.

Coach trip: Thanks to the power of festivals, and even train strikes National Express said it was introducing 15 new routes and adding 130 new coaches to its fleet due to a boom in business. They’re also easier on the purse strings. Expecting 21 million passengers (almost a third of the UK population) to book a seat this year, Ed Rickard for National Express UK, must have had a glint in his eye, when he said: “More and more customers are turning to coach for great value, reliable and sustainable travel.” CityAM had the story. This come as a huge change in fortunes when back in 2020 Chalkmarks reported how coach companies had struggled during the pandemic.

Cue the Indiana Jones theme tune: We’re riding through the Sinai desert on a quad bike. It’s like a scene from Raiders of the Lost Ark. There is the huge blue sky, the sun beating down and a dry wind with only rough rocky hills and high mountains ahead. Far in the distance we can just make out the oasis that is Sharm El Sheikh on the Red Sea coast. A traditional cotton headdress covers much of my face to protect me from the swirling sand. We feel like we’re on an epic journey. It’s a bouncy and bumpy ride but it’s worth it when we meet Bedouins – their camels a stark contrast to our shiny red quad bikes. Since ancient times, this group of nomadic people have lived outdoors in this harsh open desert. We felt privileged to be following in their footsteps – a  group of people that might not be around come the next century. We stop for tea and spend the afternoon talking about their way of live. Read on…

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!

Royal connections: With two weeks to go, train operators announced they are on track to operate more services for the King’s slimmed-down Coronation Bank Holiday weekend. They will run more trains into London on Saturday 6th May and also on Sunday 7th May to Windsor. ITV News tells us which to catch.

Flaming heck: The famous Brecon Beacons National Park were renamed this week to Bannau Brycheiniog – pronounced Ban-eye Bruck-ein-iog meaning “peaks of Brychan’s kingdom”. The move was symbolic said the park’s management which thought its current name was associated with wood-burning and carbon-emissions – “not great” for its eco-credentials. But, it turns out no one was confused, and there was no evidence beacons had burned on the Brecon Beacons. Catherine Mealing-Jones, the national park authority’s chief executive, said: “Given that we’re trying to provide leadership on decarbonisation, a giant burning brazier is not a good look.” If you didn’t see it, here’s the promo video with actor Michael Sheen announcing the change.

Can only white men write travel: For all those who missed it, the TravMedia Awards ceremony was held on Tuesday night. We weren’t invited, awks! Maybe now we know why. Anyway, soon after, over on Twitter questions were raised over the white judging panel and the all white, mostly-male winners. Sunny Singh tweeted: “I am always fascinated how publishing manages to put together all-white lists, panels, festivals, really everything in 2023 at the same time as spouting hot air about diversity…” And Scottish-Filipina travel writer Sarah J C Gillespie said: Great to see the, er, “diversity” of the @TravMedia_UK journalism award winners last night. Did no one check the optics of this?” She added: “This isn’t to disparage any individual winner, but disappointment at the general perception, even in 2023, that only white men can be “real” travel writers at the highest level.” So far TravMedia hasn’t answered. If they want to up their diversity count next year then Chalkmarks ticks all the boxes including being a top travel writer!

This time last year: Make tracks for a half-price rail staycation… The Government announced a one million half-price train ticket sale to boost staycations… a one-way ticket from London to Edinburgh dropped from £44 to £22… The-then Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said the Rail Sale would help families struggling with rising bills during the cost-of-living crisis… But then, rail workers began planning “the biggest rail strike in modern history” over job cuts and pay freezes… Eurostar announced its own summer sale with tickets down to £39 from London to Paris… In the US, the wearing of face masks on flights was dropped… Daytrippers to Venice started paying a €10 (£8.30) entry fee as authorities want to cut the numbers of visitors to around 50,000 a day… In London the Florence Nightingale Museum reopened having struggled during the pandemic.

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Happy Earth Day!

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