For people planning to have a ‘staycation’ this Easter and visit the UK’s coasts, the news that more than half of the beaches in the country are deemed unsafe for visitors will raise serious concerns. An increase from last year’s assessments, the Marine Conservation Society’s tests conducted on over 750 beaches around the UK revealed extensive presence of sewage, dirt and other contaminants.
A major contributor to the rise in pollution has been last year’s wet summer, as increased rainfall and flooding led to a rise in bacteria and viruses, drawn in from run off from urban areas, agricultural waste, storm waters, and sewage floods. The pollutants in sea water can give bathers ear, nose and throat infections, as well as leading to the risk of more serious internal complications if water is ingested. As wet summers become increasingly likely, the Marine Conservation Society has called for improved infrastructure to minimise the flow of flooded sewage into the sea.
While fewer beaches have been deemed safe for visitors this year, some popular beaches, including Blackpool Central and surrounding beaches have achieved an improvement in quality, to reach mandatory safety standards.
Visitors from the UK planning to go to Cyprus this Easter have been given mixed advice – while the current debt crisis makes it a potentially advantageous holiday for Brits, local safety concerns still persist.
The country’s most popular resorts in North Cyprus, including Kyrenia and Famagusta, remain unaffected by the current protests and economic difficulties, as these regions use the Turkish Lira. Tourists can expect no difficulties in accessing money or issues with safety in these regions. Elsewhere in Cyprus, banks have now reopened, but sanctions may affect local businesses. Travellers are advised to take a reasonable amount of Euro cash with them – local cash machines may restrict withdrawals to 100 euros per transaction, while many local businesses have stopped accepting debit and credit cards.
While the Foreign Office has not declared any official travel concerns or restrictions, they have advised travellers to take precautions against theft. Holiday makers should ensure travel insurance covers them for carrying significant amounts of cash, and valuables should be kept well hidden.
Despite the concerns, a trip to Cyprus may prove to be a cost-effective break, as local hotels, restaurants and bars have cut prices dramatically in a bid to attract new visitors, as the numbers of Russian and German tourists, both popular visitors, have reduced in droves.
If you’re looking for a Spring getaway to the slopes, then you can’t beat a trip
to the heart of European skiing, with the Austrian resort of Ischgl. Attracting
thousands of visitors over the season, this picturesque little Austrian village
transforms into a vibrant and exciting resort that rivals some of the top
international slopes each season. Enjoy the delights of Ischgl from the comfort
of a self-catered villa in the centre of the village, and make the most of the great
runs across the Alps. We check out some of the top activities to make your stay in
Ischgl a memorable one.
World famous slopes
With one of the longest seasons in Europe, Ischgl is renowned for its height and
good snow coverage. With most of its slopes located above treeline, visitors can
enjoy a snow-sure stay throughout the season. A clear and accessible piste map
means you can spend less time trying to navigate where to go, and more time
enjoying the slopes. Of course, with the added height, it can be a little dicey to see
the runs clearly in poor visibility, so choose a self-catered villa close to the slopes
or gondolas for a short and easy walk, and get the most out of the season.
Luxury Aprés-ski relaxation
Ischgl is a great resort for adults looking to get a relaxing break, and the village
has a wonderful and varied après ski culture and nightlife. The small village
hosts a range of nightclubs, pubs and restaurants, so skiers can enjoy a great
meal, a relaxing drink, and, if you’re up to it, a great night on the dancefloor.
Of course, if, after a hard day skiing, a soothing pamper is more your thing, Ischgl
has a host of spas offering luxuriously relaxing treatments – from deep tissue
massages to undo knots and sprains, to Jacuzzis, steam rooms and traditional
hammams, to give you a glorious post-ski glow.
Top of the Mountain Pops
Ischgl’s long-standing tradition of an annual concert at the start and end of each
season is another one of its attractions that make it stand out. More than just
another holiday resort variety show, the Ischgl Top of the Mountain Concert
boasts a host of some of the most popular acts around, making tickets for the
event in high demand. Past acts include stars such as Alicia Keys, The Killers
and Katy Perry – making for a fantastic atmosphere, and a fabulous close to the
Music lovers can also enjoy the skills of top DJs from the international circuit,
who love to make a pit stop in Ischgl’s nightclubs through out the season. With
so much going on all through winter and spring, it’s little wonder than Ischgl’s
unofficial motto is ‘relax… if you can’!
The buzz of Ischgl makes it the perfect spot for those who are after the thrill of
the slopes combined with more urban excitement. With a packed calendar of
events and a great atmosphere, a self-catered trip to Ischgl is guaranteed to be a
The ASA’s decision to fine no-frills airline, Ryanair, on its ‘misleading’ representation of pricing flight tickets is a decision well-received by the travel industry at large. The company was fined after advertising tickets that did not clarify the costs of additional fees and surcharges, leading customers to pay significantly more than expected. For holiday-makers, the decision gives hope that advertised prices will present an accurate representation, with fewer hidden charges.
Ryanair themselves assert that the decision ‘is littered with errors’ and that they will appeal, whilst meanwhile insisting that the decision vindicated their current pricing policy, as they now state online that all advertised charges do not include charges. The airline has not stated any plans to change their pricing strategy, and continue to offer ‘99p sale’ priced tickets, which do not include taxes, fees or other charges.
Despite the judgement, Trading Standards continues to lobby the Office of Fair Trading, to insist that all airlines advertise the full cost of tickets, including charges. Currently a number of airlines including EasyJet and British Airways do display the full price to consumers – an EasyJet spokesman asserts that customers cannot be fooled, and will always seek to know the full price they will pay, regardless of what is advertised.
The small and cosy village of Fließ is one of Austria’s standout spots for ski and snow-sport lovers. Choose a self-catered villa in the heart of this mountainous little resort to enjoy the tranquil beauty and excellent winter sports facilities, and explore the region’s wealth of natural beauty. With a friendly and intimate atmosphere, Fließ is a warm and inviting village for holidaymakers looking to relax on a low-key break in Austria.
Family fun in the snow
Fließ is a great family-friendly resort for winter sports activities, with a great range of events and teaching schools available all through the season. With starter lifts and ‘conveyor belt’ slopes to practice on, young skiers can learn in comfort and ease, or check out the mountain playground for a change of scene.
Adults meanwhile can have a great time enjoying a range of activities, from cross-country skiing and snowboarding, to old-fashioned tobogganing. With seven ski lifts, you won’t be caught out queuing for long and can spend as much time as possible out on the slopes, before returning to your cosy self-catered villa to indulge in a traditional Austrian après-ski hot chocolate!
Enjoying Fließ in the spring
While the village is best known for its high altitudes and heavy snowfall, in spring and summer, the area transforms into a bright and blossoming region, attracting hikers and ramblers keen to explore the mountainous heights. Part of the Kaunergrat National Park, you can explore much of the natural beauty around the area, from over 1,500 species of butterflies and picturesque herb and wildflower gardens.
If you miss the adrenalin rush of wintersports though, you can still take part in a thrilling variety of activities, from mountain-biking across the rugged terrain, to horseriding and white water rafting.
A wealth of history and local culture
Fließ is also packed with historical riches, and a variety of local cultural attractions. Most impressive is the 14th century Castle Bidenegg, which stands on a rather daunting rock precipice above the village. While it’s no longer possible to visit the castle inside, they eye-catching monument makes a memorable sight.
The village’s history goes much further back – stretching all the way to the Bronze Age. Explore some of the extensive archaeological discoveries that are on display in the village to get a glimpse back in time, from ancient remains of axes, jewellery and sacrificial offerings, as well as the beautiful and elaborate murals in the medieval church.
Fließ is easy to get to by rail or plane – the village is just a short bus or taxi ride away from the nearest station and airport. Or if you feel like hiring car, you can enjoy the scenic area surrounding the resort, and easily visit nearby towns and cities for a day out.
The small village has all modern facilities in close range to your self-catered villa, including supermarkets, rental shops for equipment hire, and a good selection of local eateries, where you can have a friendly night out with other visitors and village locals.
Budget airline EasyJet have announced they will be following suit with
competitors Ryanair, by abolishing customer check-in desks, in an effort to
encourage online check-in. The change is set to come into action on April 30, and
will apply to all travellers wishing to check in with luggage.
Unlike their competitors however, EasyJet will continue to offer a free check-in
at airports, for customers who forget to check in online, although they state this
will only be for ‘exceptional circumstances’. In 2009, Ryanair faced extensive
criticism after a passenger was charged £240 after forgetting to print out
boarding passes. With an initial transition period for an unspecified length of
time, Easyjet hope that the move will be a smooth one for the company and its
Several providers offer an online check-in system to customers, and over 80%
of existing passengers already use them, reducing queuing time and hence
encouraging lower costs. For both companies and travellers, the system aims
to cut down travel costs and reduce complexities in airport journeys, for a
friendlier and efficient result.
Salzburg is Austria’s fourth largest city – but it’ a world apart from built up urban metropolises, concrete towers and honking traffic. This charming, relaxing and scenic city is filled with beautiful architecture, historic culture and natural beauty. Whatever time of year you choose to go, a self-catered holiday is the perfect way to make the most of the city, for a relaxing and enjoyable stay. Get the most out of your trip to Salzburg and check out our top tips on what to see and do.
Bringing The Sound of Music to life
Fans of The Sound of Music will undoubtedly recall the beautiful panoramic vistas of Salzburg from the movie, but even if you’re not a fan, you’ll be charmed by the picture-postcard landscapes both in and around the city. Salzburg’s beautiful palaces are like a fairytale scene brought to life, while the awe-inspiring Hohenwerfen Castle towers above the valleys creates a memorable sight.
Just outside the city, take in the glorious rolling green hills and sparkling lakes, incuding Mondsee and Lake Wolfgang, where you can enjoy the tranquil natural surroundings. For those who enjoy getting active, hiking paths and cycling routes criss-cross the landscape, and there are plenty of local eateries to refuel you during the day. A scenic self-catered villa in Salzburg is the perfect base to explore the cultural and natural delights across the city.
Go to foodie heaven in Salzburg
Food lovers of all persuasions will enjoy the culinary treasures to be found in Salzburg. Those with a sweet tooth will be spoilt for choice – from the world-famous Sachertorte – made of dense chocolate cake, sandwiched together with sweet apricot jam and wrapped in thick layers of chocolate icing. Only served at the Hotel Sacher in Salzburg and Vienna, the luxurious treat is an essential pilgrimage stop.
Salzburg has a thriving café culture too, with dozens of character-filled pubs, restaurants and cafés lining the city streets. Enjoy some of Austria’s finest national dishes, like hearty goulash, roast pork and schnitzel. And don’t miss a trip to one of Salzburg’s breweries for an excellent selection of beers and ales.
Soak up some culture in the city
As the birthplace of music legend Mozart, Salzburg has an extensive and varied cultural heritage. The city has not one but two museums dedicated to his memory – one in his birthplace, and the second in his former home. You can view some of his original instruments, as well as the surroundings that inspired his creations.
As well as music, Salzburg also boasts some quirky and unusual museums, which are great to explore on a rainy day. The Marionetten museum is dedicated to the fascinating art of marionette theatre, and includes collections of dolls from around the world. Art lovers will also enjoy the Salzburg Cathedral Museum, filled with an extension collection of paintings and sculptures that span over 1300 years, as well as some exceptional Gothic goldsmith work.
Indulge yourself in a self-catered trip to Salzburg and enjoy the finest treats the city has to offer. From inspiring arts and cultures, to delicious foods and beers, Salzburg is a relaxing and refreshing city to visit, at any time of the year.
The Chancellor’s revelation of the Budget has disappointed and angered leaders across the travel industry, with the announcement that Air Passenger Duty (APD) is still set to rise on April 1st. Leading figures across the travel industry have highlighted that UK passengers already face some of the highest tax rates in the world, and the failure to freeze or review any change to Air Passenger Duty will only increase them further.
For travel suppliers, the anticipated increase is feared to show its impact on an already sluggish economy, and further damage the UK’s ability to compete with air travel on a world stage. Following several high profile failures in the aviation sector in 2012, the Chancellor’s latest news is likely to further threaten an already weakened industry.
It’s bad news for travellers too. For UK passengers, the increase will inevitably felt in higher ticket prices, discouraging already reluctant travellers from spending more. Overseas passengers looking to come into the UK will face higher costs too – which could dissuade visitors altogether. Plus in April 2013, APD will also be extended to business travel jets, and passengers aboard these flights will pay double the existing APD rates.
While the UK tourism and travel industries struggle to beat the economic recession, today’s news casts a dark cloud over businesses and travellers alike.
Start your new year holiday plans with a great saving of up to 20% discount on flights travelling between 1st February 2013 and 10th July 2013.
The flight sale ends midnight on Tuesday so get in quick and make the most of the discount flight deals from Easyjet
If you are planning to travel to or from Heathrow airport over the busy Christmas period please check with the local public transport information websites for further updates on planned disruption that could effect your travel plans.
The Heathrow Express website has already announced several planned closures or limited services during the holiday period;
23rd December 2012 service will start later than normal.
24th December 2012 will be running a half hourly service due to engineering works
25th and 26th December 2012 will have no service
27th and 28th December 2012 will be running a half hourly service
31st December 2012 will also be running a half hourly service