Where is everyone? Millions head abroad this summer as staycationers avoid Britain’s bad beaches!
Chalkmarks: Beyond, Celebrity Cruises, April 2022

Good morning. This is what happened in the world of travel this week: Friday 4th August 2023

HAPPY August everyone! Our politicians have downed tools and taken themselves off on holiday this week. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak is away on his summer jollies for a week – to a destination unknown for security reasons, says tight-lipped BBC News. Chalkmarks guesses he’s jetted off to Santa Monica, California, where he owns a penthouse. But wherever he is, we’ve no doubt he’s travelled first class and is staying in five-star lodgings. PS Oliver Dowden, the deputy PM, is in charge! On Monday Sir Keir Starmer, the Labour leader, said he had opted for a drizzly and damp staycation. And in the US, president Joe Biden is on vacation in Delaware. He has been spotted on the beach, riding a bike and going to the cinema, as the pictures from Delaware Online prove. And well, cos’ everyone’s away we don’t know who’ll be reading this week. But if you are, this one’s for you. Here’s what made the travel headlines!

You smell of holidays!

Postcard from Greece: Did you see this one on Wednesday? The PM of Greece has offered holidaymakers who were evacuated by the wildfires in Rhodes in July, a free trip next spring and autumn, when it’s cooler, to make up for the disruption. Yes you read that right. Kyriakos Mitsotakis told Good Morning Britain: “The Greek government will offer one week of free holiday on Rhodes next spring or fall for all of those whose holiday was cut short due to the wild fires.” But how will this work? Call us!

When is hot too hot? Travel insurance policies that offer extreme heat cover are on their way to protect holidaymakers from the disruption of heatwaves. This comes after the 40C-plus temperatures across southern Europe in July. Insurance firms are still trying to find the temperature range “sweet spot” depending on where and when we travel. inews had the scoop.

Forget the Med: With so many Britons struggling in the heatwaves in southern Europe this summer, why not look up and head to Northern Europe. Think Copenhagen (Denmark), Helsinki (Finland), Oslo (Norway) or Stockholm (Sweden). Summer in these cities is warm but not too hot. And you certainly won’t need thermal underwear. We headed to Stockholm where the temperature in July hit 30C! 

Fantastic views: Campers can get their tents out, pitch up and sleep under the stars on Dartmoor, the Court of Appeal ruled on Monday. It gave walkers back the legal right, once again, to wild camp in the national park in Devon. It came after a legal challenge that claimed campers were causing problems to livestock, raving and leaving litter and human waste. PA Media broke the news.

Not ready: The EU’s border checks and visa scheme for British travellers could be rolled out next summer – at the start of the 2024 Paris Olympics. The Mail On Sunday’s front page warned “Holiday Chaos Fears Over EU ‘Big Brother’ Visas”. They reported the introduction of the Entry/Exit System (EES) would cause chaos at airports and ferry ports. The Eurostar would need to build 25 self-service kiosks at St Pancras to allow UK passengers to submit their paperwork and biometric data, while Getlink, the company which runs the Channel Tunnel, is already building a hangar at the Folkestone terminal to allow drivers to park up to give their information to French authorities. Unfortunately, there are no plans to expand the port at Dover – used by 11 million each year – because there’s simply no room. Britons will also have to apply for a €7/ £6 visa known as ETIAS (European Travel Information and Authorisation System), which will work similar to the US waiver. The Home Office said it was working to “ensure there is minimal disruption”.

What’s happening: Since Brexit, travelling through much of Europe has changed for Britons, who have become “third-party nationals”. For now, we show our passports, which get stamped on arrival – and this is taking more time than expected, and has caused long queues at Dover. But the European Union is planning on rolling out a more high-tech biometric screening system for Britons – the EES . This was due to start in May but was postponed to November. Then the Guardian reported it was “not going to happen” this year. Whenever it is finally launched, huge queues at UK borders are feared because every British traveller will need to have their photo and four sets of fingerprints taken, plus they’ll need their visa checked and to answer border control questions on where they are staying and for how long. 

Not in the spirit: Three Northern Ireland airports called for the return of duty-free shopping between the region and EU countries. While tax-free shopping is available between the UK and the EU it’s not from George Best Belfast City Airport, Belfast International Airport or City of Derry Airport – a quirk of the Protocol – costing them £5 million a year. RTÉ News has the story.

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!

Dip in a dump? Staycationers don’t want to swim in British waters this summer because of the sewage spills. The Lib Dems say it’s putting off almost one in four sea swimmers. They go further adding it’s really putting everyone off visiting the great British seaside. Lib Dem environment spokesman Tim Farron said: “Sewage dumping by water companies is ruining the British beach holiday. No one should have to go for a swim or build a sandcastle next to raw sewage. This Conservative government needs to stop letting water companies off the hook and finally ban these disgusting sewage discharges and defend our tourism sector.” The Guardian picks up the story.

A lot to unpack: Lonely Planet is turning 50 in October. Ahead of the anniversary, the Sunday Times magazine ran a lovely feature about the couple Maureen and Tony Wheeler who started the famous travel guide in 1972. Back then, the newlyweds were just two backpackers setting off on an adventure from Essex to Australia with £400 in their pockets. From that trip they wrote Across Asia on the Cheap, published in 1973… and, the rest is history. They went on to inspire a generation of gap-year, budget travellers who followed in their footsteps. Instead of focusing on five-star travel they offered low-priced options on where to stay, what to eat and where the locals go. They sold 150 million guidebooks. The brand was later bought by BBC Worldwide for a reported £130 million but today it is owned by American media firm Red Ventures. 

This time last year: Don’t throw in the beach towel holiday bookings are booming again If you were travelling to or from Manchester Airport there was a good chance you were caught up in holiday chaos … Hundreds of fights were cancelled last minute and many holidaymakers had no choice but to go back home … Secret filming revealed suitcases arriving from multiple flights … Frustrated passengers poked their heads through the conveyor belt hatch asking for their bags … OAG flight research revealed that in June, over half of easyJet flights were delayed … Eight out of 10 BA flights were delayed … And seven out of 10 Wizz Air flights were delayed … The airlines were all sorry and said they were hiring more staff … Martin Chalk (absolutely no relation), of the British Airline Pilots’ Association, said up to 40 people were needed to ensure one flight departed on time … Despite all the bad press, holiday bookings were surging … Travel agents saw strong sales for late getaways, autumn trips and 2023 holidays … The surprising destination holiday hit was Indonesia … Travel Weekly didn’t say which islands were popular but it was probably Bali … and, by chance here is our postcard from Bali

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