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Archive for August, 2008

Zoom Airlines suspends operations

Friday, August 29th, 2008

Low-cost carrier Zoom Airlines has announced that it will go into administration.  The company advised customers who have booked and paid for a flight to contact their credit or debit card company for a refund.  British Airways and Virgin Atlantic are offering special fares to help Zoom customers who have been displaced by the suspension of services.  The airline, which operated from five UK airports and the United States and Canada, has blamed rising fuel costs and the general economic downturn for the decision.  Hundreds of travellers left stranded following the collapse of  Zoom are facing up to the fact they will have to make their own way home.  Rising fuel costs and the worldwide credit crunch have already seen at least 25 airlines go bust this year, including Silverjet, Eos, Maxjet, ATA and Oasis Hong Kong, while EasyJet, Ryanair, British Airways and XL Airways have announced cutbacks in flights this winter and falling profits.  The nightmare scenario for any holidaymaker is being stranded when their airline or tour operator goes out of business. So how do you you protect yourself when an airline or tour operator goes bust? Who or what is out there? Some insurers offer Passenger Protection Insurance sold separately or Dynamic Packaging Protection as part of a travel insurance policy but always check the small print if this is offered because these are quite often restrictive in their cover. You can reduce the risk further by organising your travel through companies covered by ATOL, which stands for Air Travel Organiser’s Licensing, and is a protection scheme for flights and air holidays, managed by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) and protects the customer from losing money or being stranded abroad when a tour operator goes bust. All licensed firms have to lodge bonds with the CAA so that, if they go out of business, the CAA can give refunds to people who can’t travel and arrange for people abroad to finish their holidays and fly home. This article is brought to you by Travelandisnsure.com – specialists in Ethical Travel Insurance.

Holiday prices still predicted to rise

Thursday, August 28th, 2008

Basic brochure prices for holidays in Europe could rise in 2009 by between 15 and 20 per cent because of rising fuel costs and the weakness of the pound against the euro, the Association of British Travel Agents (ABTA) are predicting.  Holidays outside Europe could well rise by between 10 and 15 per cent.  Put in monetary terms, this could mean a rise of at least £300 for the average two week summer break as major operators slash the number of deals available.  If global oil prices continue to rise, holidaymakers could also face fuel surcharges of up to 10 per cent on top of these increases or an extra £250 on an average family holiday.  According to ABTA, the cost of an average two-week break this summer is £560 per person.  A family of four, therefore, will spend an average of £2,240 on their annual break.  But next year this will rise to between £2,464 to £2,688 if prices rise between 10 and 20 per cent.  Independent travellers, who do not book with a travel company, should avoid some of the price increases but will still be hit by higher flight costs.  These alone are expected to rise by up to 15 per cent by next summer driven by the increased cost of oil.  This article is brought to you by Travelandinsure.com – specialist in Ethical Travel Insurance.

Plan ahead for London 2012

Wednesday, August 27th, 2008

Well done Team GB!  The excellent results of Team GB in the Beijing Olympics can only be a great boost to British Tourism and help to promote the UK.  Tourist Industry Chief Executive, James Bidwell, has commented that “these results will only energise the British public ahead of our own London games in 2012.  The majority of visitors to London 2012 will be domestic visitors and no doubt great sporting expectations and results will help us to deliver the 2012 tourism legacy.”  What’s more, a recent study by Oxford Economics estimates there will be around a million visitors to London for the Olympics in 2012, of these more than half will be UK residents.  The current credit crunch is biting hard but given that 2012 is four years off, the economic cycle will have moved on and the games in London will no doubt be played in sold out arenas.   As tickets for the games are likely to sell out well in advance of the opening ceremony, there will undoubtedly be people who buy the tickets but then, through illness or accident, are unable to attend but have already spent a considerable amount on London accommodation and the tickets.  So always be on the safe side and, when you book your tickets and accommodation for 2012, make sure you have a travel insurance policy which will specifically cover you for this eventuality.  Most travel insurance policies will offer cover for UK holidays, provided a minimum of 2 or 3 nights pre-booked accommodation has been paid for, but do check the small print beforehand to know what the cover includes.  This article is brought to you by travelandinsure.com – specialist in ethical travel insurance.

Spain still favourite holiday destination

Tuesday, August 26th, 2008

British visitors remain crucial to the Spanish tourist sector according to the latest figures from the Spanish Tourism Ministry.  Out of the 33.7 million visitors to Spain in the first 7 months of 2008, 9.25 million were from the UK, representing just under 30% of all visitors.  Second come the Germans with just under 6 million visitors in the same period, followed by the French with a million less.  Barcelona and the Costa Brava are the most visited destinations with the Balearic Islands coming second with the Canaries close behind.  The Spanish Government is becoming increasingly concerned by the downturn in the global economic climate which is hitting their construction sector very hard which in turn is beginning to affect tourism to many of the popular destinations within Spain.  With spending down as well because of the low pound value against the Euro, then these are worrying times for the Government in Madrid as the British tourist has been a very important part of  overall Spanish tourist market.  This article is brought to you by travelandinsure.com – specialist in ethical travel insurance.

Possible travel delays expected at Stansted

Friday, August 22nd, 2008

The threatened strikes over the Bank Holiday at some of Britain’s major airports have been called off but doubt exists still over Stansted where the prospect of a renewed threat of disruption by baggage scanners remains.  If the one day strike on Monday 25th August goes ahead, it has the potential to affect any passenger travelling with hold luggage.  The GMB Union which represents the baggage scanners have been quoted as saying “We think the disruption will be quite severe because our members have a key role in the scanning of luggage.”  BAA, the airport operator claims the disruption will be minimal due to contingency plans in place.  Travellers, however, who will be using the airport will be affected with an estimated 320,000 using Stansted over the busy Bank Holiday weekend. The Stansted strike could hit easyJet, Ryanair and First Choice. The most popular destinations for breaks this weekend are the Balearic Islands, mainland Spain, and the Greek islands, according to Abta, with city breaks to destinations including Amsterdam, Dublin and Rome, also popular. With travel insurance now very competitively priced, particularly when purchased over the internet, who can really afford to travel without any cover at all? It is probably a risk not worth taking when faced by a constant threat of more strikes, stoppages and delays. This article is brought to you by travelandinsure.com – specialist in ethical travel insurance.

Bank Holiday air travel disruptions

Wednesday, August 20th, 2008

Holidaymakers are facing travel chaos as 500 baggage handlers and check-in staff at Gatwick and Stansted announced a 24-hour strike over the coming Bank Holiday.  Britons heading on late summer holidays also face misery next week with Manchester airport the latest to be affected by industrial action.  Two 24-hour strikes have been called at the Manchester airport after baggage handlers and check-in staff voted for action.  The strikes have been called for Wednesday August 27 and Monday September 1.  Gatwick and Stansted workers are due to take place on Monday August 25 and Friday August 29.  Action could escalate around the country, with Unite members at Swissport also shortly to be balloted at Birmingham and Newcastle airports.  As many as 97% per cent of Unite members at Manchester voted in favour of strike action which could hit services run by, among others, Virgin Atlantic, Emirates, KLM, Air France and Monarch.  Among airlines that could be affected by the Gatwick stoppage are Virgin, Monarch, First Choice and Thomsonfly, while the Stansted strike could hit easyJet, Ryanair and First Choice.  Whether this industrial action is justified or not, it will be the traveller who suffers and long queues at check-in desks are now becoming the norm and not the exception and it is now common place for our travel plans to be disrupted by events outside our control.  Whilst we cannot totally avoid being affected, apart from electing never to travel of course, we can limit the financial loss by taking out adequate travel insurance which will provide financial cover and compensation if caught up in airport holiday chaos.  To start with, all travel insurance policies should have a travel delay section, generally to pay a fixed amount for each 6, 12 or 24 hours delay experienced.  This is what is termed as a benefit so does not require receipts to claim but you will need a note from the carrier or airport to confirm the number of hours delayed. Secondly, most travel insurance policies will have a section for Abandonment.  This is just another term for cancellation which permits the traveller, once they have experienced the required number of hours travel delay, to cancel their flight and holiday in its entirety and claim back the costs.  Whether you choose this option will depend on many factors, such as the length of your trip away, how long the delay will be and personal preference but it is a very valuable addition to have in any travel insurance policy.  One word of warning, all travel insurance policies will have a clause that excludes any claim from being paid if the strike had been known about before the flight and holiday had been booked so it always prudent to check before you go firm on any travel plans.  With travel insurance now very competitively priced, particularly when purchased over the internet, who can really afford to travel without any cover at all?  It is probably a risk not worth taking when faced by a constant threat of more strikes, stoppages and delays.  This article is brought to you by travelandinsure.com – specialist in ethical travel insurance.

Better travel failure protection called for

Friday, August 15th, 2008

The aviation industry is failing to provide passengers with adequate protection if airlines fail, according to a report by the Air Travel Insolvency Advisory Committee (ATIPAC).   ATIPAC, which advises the Civil Aviation Authority, called for an end to the current system in which scheduled airlines are able to operate without offering passengers the same financial security that package holidaymakers enjoy, through the Air Tour Organiser’s License (ATOL) system.  Passengers flying as part of a package holiday with ATOL-protected operators automatically have a £1 charge added to the price of their holiday, which contributes to a regulated insurance fund.  The news comes in the wake of a report by Blue Oar investments claiming at least 50 European airlines face bankruptcy if the current decline in the aviation industry fails to improve.  Rising fuel costs and the worldwide credit crunch have already seen at least 25 airlines go bust this year, including Silverjet, Eos, Maxjet, ATA and Oasis Hong Kong, while EasyJet, Ryanair and British Airways have announced cutbacks in flights this winter and falling profit in the last few weeks.  So how do you you protect yourself when an airline or tour operator goes bust?  Who or what is out there?  Some insurers offer Passenger Protection Insurance sold separately or Dynamic Packaging Protection as part of a travel insurance policy but always check the small print if this is offered because these are quite often restrictive in their cover.  You can reduce the risk further by organising your travel through companies and agents covered by ATOL or who hold bonding through an approved body, such as ABTA or AITO. ATOL stands for Air Travel Organiser’s licensing and is a protection scheme for flights and air holidays, managed by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) and protects the customer from losing money or being stranded abroad when a tour operator goes bust.  All licensed firms have to lodge bonds with the CAA so that, if they go out of business, the CAA can give refunds to people who can’t travel and arrange for people abroad to finish their holidays and fly home.  And ABTA?  Members of the Association of British Travel Agents are required to provide financial protection for their customers which means that you can book your holiday knowing that if an ABTA member fails financially while you are on holiday, you can continue your holiday as planned.   If your holiday has not started, then you will receive a full refund or be given help to make alternative arrangements for the trip to proceed.   Likewise AITO, or Association of Independent Tour Operators to give it its full title, require their members to protect their customer’s money in the event of an AITO member going into liquidation.  This article is brought to you by Travelandinsure.com – specialist in Ethical Travel Insurance.

Wet weather at home does not deter tourists

Thursday, August 14th, 2008

Gordon Brown is not the only person to choose to holiday at home this year.  According to latest figures, domestic holiday bookings are up 16 per cent since this time last summer with many Britons opting to spend their holidays in Devon, Cornwall, Dorset, Somerset, the Isle of Wight and Wales. Moreover, more people are choosing to spend time in the great outdoors with camping specialists Pontins reporting busy campsites and high street retailers reporting strong sales in camping gear. According to ‘Visit Britain’ there has also been a 1.5 million increase in the number of Spanish visitors to the UK in the last five years, with the number of Italian and Dutch visitors also rising. This increase may have a lot to do with the Euro exchange rate. With the pound low against most major currencies, it is now more cost effective for Europeans to visit Britain and they are doing it now, while it’s cheaper than normal. But it is not all good news for while the combination of domestic tourism and new foreign visitors will have generated spending money, the consequence could be an increase in the cost of British holidays next year. Tourism operators have predicted a 15-20 per cent rise as the industry faces up to increasing fuel, food and utility costs in 2009.  This article is brought to you by Travelandinsure.com – specialist in Ethical Travel Insurance.

Rise in holiday arrests abroad

Wednesday, August 13th, 2008

Drunken tourists and expanding expatriate communities are fuelling a large rise in the number of Britons arrested in popular holiday destinations such as Spain, France and Cyprus.  Official Foreign Office figures showed that just over 2,000 Britons were arrested in Spain last year a 33 per cent increase on the previous 12 months and is more than any other country in the world other than the UK itself, after a crackdown on petty crime in resorts led to an increase in arrests for drunken behaviour.  An increasing number of Britons are also falling foul of local laws and strict policing in more distant countries such as Indonesia and the United Arab Emirates, these new figures show.  Thailand remained the deadliest destination for British nationals, with proportionately more deaths there than anywhere else in the world.  Other traditional package holiday destinations are seeing high numbers of Britons getting into trouble, and the Foreign Office said that many arrests are “due to behaviour caused by excessive drinking”.  Cyprus was the country where British nationals were most likely to be arrested as a percentage of visits made, while in Greece there were 230 arrests, 602 people taken to hospital, 131 deaths and 28 reported rapes.  Meg Munn, the Foreign Office Minister, said: “Helping British nationals in distress overseas is one of our most important tasks, but many of the problems are preventable.  By carrying out some simple research on the laws, customs and health requirements of a country in advance, many people could prevent their holidays being ruined.”  She urged holidaymakers suffering the credit crunch not to cut back on travel insurance.  This article is brought to you by Travelandinsure.com – specialist in Ethical Travel Insurance.

Protect your belongings on holiday

Monday, August 11th, 2008

Around 8 million Britons abroad on holiday have fallen victim to around £3.5 billion worth of theft during the last five years, a new poll has shown. The survey, carried out by Co-operative Insurance, also highlighted that iPods are the item most likely to be stolen whilst on holiday. Electrical goods such as mobile phones, digital cameras and camcorders are the other items most commonly taken. Also at high risk are passports, laptops, gaming consoles, games and designer sunglasses. And where are these thefts most likely to occur?  More than a third of Britons’ holiday thefts occur while the victim is either at the pool or on the beach, 28 per cent of incidents took place within the victim’s accommodation while busy tourist areas, such as high streets and markets, account for 14 per cent of personal goods stolen abroad. Travelling on public transport is another popular target area where jostling can appear harmless, only to find that a purse or wallet has been stolen in the confusion. Placing bags under your chair in a restaurant is an open invitation to it being taken. If you are unfortunate to have any items stolen on holiday, do make a list of the items stolen and cancel your credit cards and travellers cheques immediately. Go to the local police station as soon as possible and insist on a police report. This is an absolute must if you intend to claim on your travel insurance and most policies insist that this should be done within 24 hours of the incident. If you don’t, then you will find your insurer less inclined to pay out. If you lose your passport, then contact the nearest British Embassy, High Commission or Consulate who will be able to issue you with an emergency replacement passport to get you home.  This article is brought to you by Travelandinsure.com – specialist in Ethical Travel Insurance.