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Highlands is destination Brits want to visit post-coronavirus crisis

Revealed: The Scottish Highlands tops a ‘lust list’ of UK destinations that Britons want to visit post-coronavirus crisis

  • Research has revealed the top search results for UK holidays in the past month 
  • Snowdonia is the second most popular destination followed by Yorkshire Dales
  • Other sought-after locations include Cornwall, the Lake District and Kent
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The Scottish Highlands is the most-searched-for destination for a UK bucket list holiday – post-coronavirus crisis – according to new research.

The region has proved more popular than Snowdonia, which is the second most sought-after location.

The next three most popular spots are Yorkshire Dales (third), Cornwall (fourth) and the Lake District (fifth).

The Scottish Highlands is the most sought-after destination for a post-coronavirus UK holiday, new research has found. Pictured is the Glenfinnan Viaduct on the West Highland Line, which Harry Potter fans will be very familiar with

The research was carried out by holiday rental marketplace Snaptrip.com, which looked at its internal data to reveal the top search results for UK holiday destinations in the last month as Britons plan future holidays while on lockdown. 

Other popular places that Britons want to visit, when it is safe to do so, are the Peak District, which is in sixth place, and Kent, which is in seventh place.

Also making the top 10 are London in eighth, the Brecon Beacons in ninth and County Antrim in 10th.

Completing the top 15 are Edinburgh (11th), the Gower Peninsula (12th), Bath (13th), Brighton (14th) and the Shetland Islands (15th).

Snowdonia, pictured, is the second most sought-after destination for a UK holiday, when it is safe to take one

Pictured is the Yorkshire Dales, which is the third most-searched-for destination 

Cornwall, with its beaches and pretty harbours, is the fourth most popular destination

Meanwhile, Snaptrip.com has also noted a 30 per cent rise in searches for holidays in 2021 since the government told people to stay at home.

It found that when it asked people what type of destinations they most longed to visit, 45 per cent said they would like to go to the beach or somewhere along the coast, 28 per cent wanted to go to the countryside and 17 per cent wanted a city break.

Matt Fox, CEO and co-founder of Snaptrip.com, said: ‘It is a tough time for the travel industry at the moment, with the majority of the British public avoiding making concrete plans until there is more reassurance and stability moving forward.

‘However, we have definitely noticed an increased interest over the past couple of weeks towards certain destinations, and we can only surmise that Brits are eagerly planning dream trips to take around the UK when it is safe to do so.

‘We are confident that the British tourism industry will bounce back, and it is looking as though there will be a greater appreciation for the amazing spaces that Britain has to offer and a desire to visit some of the more remote and wild locations within the British Isles once we have put this episode behind us.’

THE 15 MOST SEARCHED-FOR UK HOLIDAY DESTINATIONS

1. Scottish Highlands

2. Snowdonia

3. Yorkshire Dales

4. Cornwall

5. Lake District

6. Peak District

7. Kent

8. London

9. Brecon Beacons

10. County Antrim

11. Edinburgh

12. The Gower Peninsula

13. Bath

14. Brighton

15. Shetland Islands

Source: Snaptrip.com 

 

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Tim Roxborogh’s Travel Bugs: Dreaming of holidays in Kerala, India

I can still remember the first time I learned about Kerala in India, the subcontinent’s southernmost state. It was also the exact moment I knew I had to plan a way to get there: the year was 2013, it was late at night, sitting in a taxi outside my apartment, with my driver proudly showing me photos of his home country on his iPad.

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I’d mentioned during the ride how much I wanted to get to India and he told me that when I did, it was non-negotiable that I see Kerala. “It’s God’s own country”, he said while flicking through photographs of a place I’d until that point known virtually nothing about. He sold me.

One year later, in 2014, I was there, and three years after that, in 2017, I was back again. By the time of that second trip to Kerala I was engaged to be married, but being there solo, it hit me not only how much I loved it, but how much it was a place I’d have to show Aimee, my future wife.

It’s cliche to say India is beguiling, just as it’s cliche to describe it as an assault on the senses. Both are true, but in Kerala you have the perfect Indian introduction. This is a state that prides itself on its standard of living, its religious diversity, the fact it has both the highest life expectancy and the highest literacy rate in India, its treatment of women, its incredible cuisine, and the not-insignificant reality it’s widely hailed as being several notches less manic than the rest of the country.

But beyond that, Kerala is a lush slice of greenery with scenery as beautiful as anywhere in India. Whether it’s centuries-old churches in Fort Kochi or world-class tiger reserves like Periyar National Park; whether it’s languid days cruising glorious backwaters in an old rice boat or indulging in eco-resort luxury in one of the 10 most biodiverse regions in the world, the Western Ghats, Kerala will get a hold on you.

Three years since my last visit, I’m now married to Aimee and we have a daughter, Riley. I can’t wait to take them both there so I can show them the place I’m dreaming of.

Tim Roxborogh hosts Newstalk ZB’s Weekend Collective and blogs at roxboroghreport.com

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Lockdown searches by Brits for January 2021 trips to Spain up 1,626%

Planning already for the end of lockdown: UK searches Spanish holidays up 1600% – with departure dates in January 2021

  • Travel searches for trips from the UK to France in January 2021 are up by 409%
  • Research for trips to Italy also frenzied, with searches up by 385% for that month 
  • Searches for trips to Germany, however, are below average for January 2021

British travellers are in lockdown, but they are clearly dreaming of – and researching – their next holiday.

And where will that be? Spain, by the looks of it.

Analysts have revealed that travel searches for trips from the UK to Spain with a departure date in January 2021 are up year-over-year by 1,626 per cent.

Analysts have revealed that travel searches from the UK to Spain with a departure date in January 2021 are up year-over-year by 1,626 per cent

The number-crunching comes courtesy of digital travel marketing solutions firm Sojern, which presented a range of findings in a blog post.

It says that travel searches for holidays from the UK to France in January 2021 also show an early increase – of 409 per cent year-over-year – and that lots of Britons will also be heading to Italy, according to the data, which shows ‘a significant above-average year-over-year increase of 385 per cent’.

Searches for trips to Germany, however, are below average for the same month, based on data from March 30.

Sojern says: ‘Whilst actual travel bookings are a stronger sign of consumer confidence, many consumers will search out of general interest, to check for availability and pricing and travel inspiration for their favourite destinations.

‘The departure date of January 2021 is extremely far out and we usually only see a small percentage of early searches looking at regional travel this far in advance.

‘We are, however, seeing an increase in early searches due to the current situation. Therefore, these numbers, although significant in terms of increases, are very early signs of travel intent.’

Majorca, pictured, could be one of the Spanish destinations that sees a huge wave of visitors next year

The firm stresses that it will ‘take some time for the industry to recover and for consumer confidence to return’.

As a result, it expects recovery to ‘start domestically, with travellers opting to travel closer to home’.

It adds that ‘this is certainly the case for European countries’ including France, Italy and the UK, which ‘all show a very early indication of year-over-year increases in domestic travel searches for January 2021’ – 17 per cent, 103 per cent and 60 per cent respectively. 

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Cruise: Royal Caribbean and Norwegian cruises extend suspension of voyages amid covid-19

Most people have put their holiday plans on hold due to the ongoing coronavirus crisis. Cruise voyages have been suspended and flights have been cancelled, leading to an influx of refunds. But while cruise customers were hoping for their future voyage plans to remain intact, their holiday dreams may have just been dashed.

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Royal Caribbean and Norwegian Cruises both announced today that they will be extending their voyage suspensions.

Norwegian Cruises said the extension now includes voyages embarking between April 12 and May 10 2020 for its three cruise brands.

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The move is to help contribute to the global efforts to contain the spread of COVID-19.

The extension includes voyages for Oceania Cruises and Regent Seven Seas Cruises.

Frank Del Rio, president and chief executive officer of Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd said that covid-19 is still having a “significant impact on communities” across the globe.

He said: “With COVID-19 continuing to have a significant impact on communities throughout the world, we are extending our temporary suspension of cruise voyages across our three brands through May 10.

While we understand this disruption may inconvenience our loyal guests and valued travel partners, we are committed first and foremost to protecting the safety, security and well-being of our guests, crew, and the communities we visit.

“We appreciate their continued understanding as we navigate through these unprecedented times and do our part to help global efforts to contain this pandemic.”

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Guests who are currently booked on voyages with embarkation dates between March 13 and May 10 2020 on Norwegian Cruise Line, Oceania Cruises or Regent Seven Seas Cruises have been asked to contact their travel agent or the cruise line for more information.

Royal Caribbean said that the move was to provide “peace of mind in guest travel planning”.

They said they are now extending its ‘Cruise with Confidence’ cancellation policy to September 1 2020.

The updated policy will allow customers to plan flexibly and cancel their voyages up to 48 hours prior to sailing for any reason.

However, guests will not receive a cash refund but credit instead which is usable on any future sailing of choice in 2020 or 2021.

Company chairman and CEO Richard Fain said: “Guests are reacting positively to our Cruise with Confidence policy.

“Because it enables them to make informed decisions and to better manage complicated travel plans during this unprecedented time of uncertainty.”

“We want our guests to feel they can safely keep their existing cruise bookings or schedule new sailings.

“Because this policy gives them more freedom and flexibility.”

The extension applies to both new and existing cruise bookings.

The policy applies to all cruises with sailing dates on or before September 1, 2020, and applies to the company’s global brands.

Royal Caribbean Cruises is a renowned global cruise company that controls and operates four brands: Royal Caribbean International, Celebrity Cruises, Azamara and Silversea Cruises.

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Watch Virgin Australia’s musical farewell to last international service

In a musical showstopper, Virgin Australia’s ground staff have bid farewell to the final scheduled international service as the airline halts operations today.

Through the words of pop power balladeers Journey, ground crew at Brisbane International Airport sang “Don’t stop believin'” as flight VA153 to Auckland set off for the last time.

In response to the Covid-19 pandemic Virgin Australia has grounded all international flights as of today until at least June 14.

To mark the final flight, for now, Virgin Australia crew filmed themselves performing a choreographed dance of waves and aeroplane wings on the tarmac and quiet departure halls of the Australian airport.

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easyJet grounds entire fleet of aircraft over coronavirus after 650 rescue flights

The airline announced this morning in a shock move that amid the coronavirus pandemic, they will ground their fleet of aircraft. easyJet said in a statement: “As a result of the unprecedented travel restrictions imposed by governments in response to the coronavirus pandemic and the implementation of national lockdowns across many European countries, easyJet has, today, fully grounded its entire fleet of aircraft.

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“Over recent days easyJet has been helping to repatriate customers, having operated more than 650 rescue flights to date, returning home more than 45,000 customers.

“The last of these rescue flights were operated on Sunday March 29.

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“We will continue to work with Government bodies to operate additional rescue flights as requested.

“At this stage there can be no certainty of the date for restarting commercial flights.

“We will continuously evaluate the situation based on regulations and demand, and will update the market when we have a view.”

The airline said they have repatriated 45,000 Britons from around the world due to the coronavirus.

easyJet brought the last flight in yesterday and have done 650 rescue flights, according to Sky News.

If the Government wants them as a charter flight to bring more Britons home, they will reportedly be available.

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But the commercial sector of their business has closed for good now.

The company has worked with Unite the union to agree to two-month furlough arrangements for cabin crew.

This means that crew will be paid 80 percent of their average pay through the Government job retention scheme.

More to follow…

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Pound to euro exchange rate rockets to two-week high despite coronavirus pandemic

The pound to euro exchange rate succeeded in having its best week in almost nine months last week, experts have said. GBP’s boost to a two-week high on Friday came despite a dramatic plummet on Wednesday afternoon. Sterling continues to remain vulnerable amid the coronavirus pandemic.

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Greg Baggio, Head of Performance at WeSwap commented last week: “Across all markets, we’ve seen extreme volatility levels and the FX market is no different.

“Currency movements are not only driven by headlines on COVID 19’s progress, but also by the various governments and central banks’ decisions on interest rates and cash injections to support their economies.

“The ultimate question the markets are asking is, ‘How strong is a country going to come out of the crisis and will they be able to attract investment again?’”

The pound is currently trading at 1.1185 against the euro, according to Bloomberg at the time of writing.

Michael Brown, currency expert at international payments and foreign exchange firm Caxton FX, spoke to Express.co.uk regarding the latest exchange rate figures this morning.

“Sterling rose to a two-week high against the euro on Friday, closing out its best week in almost nine months,” said Brown.

“The pound continued to benefit from improving risk sentiment across asset classes, despite the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

“This week, the aforementioned pandemic will remain the centre of attention.

“Investors are continuing to grapple with the implications of governments placing the global economy into hibernation.”

So what does this mean for travel money?

With the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) advising against all but essential travel, it’s unlikely anyone will be looking to buy holiday money.

However, many Britons may have preemptively purchased foreign currency only for their holiday to be cancelled or postponed due to coronavirus.

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Many may wonder whether it’s possible to now exchange the money back into pounds.

However, experts have warned that, given the closure of many bureau de changes and suspension of cash services, it may actually be best to hold on to travel money.

“If they can, holidaymakers might want to keep hold of their currency until their next trip and use it then,” Ian Strafford-Taylor, CEO of Equals (formerly known as FairFX), told Express.co.uk.

“For those using prepaid currency cards, they can spend their money back in the UK online or in stores, keep it for their next trip, or change it to a different currency altogether.”

Sacha Zackariya, CEO, Change Group International Plc, also agreed exchanging money may not be wise right now.

“Unfortunately, there is no easy solution to change your foreign currency at this point,” he told Express.co.uk.

“I would, therefore, recommend holding on to this leftover currency until your next holiday or if it is somewhere you are unlikely to travel again then exchange it at a later date.

“As international travel restrictions are updated and government policies change we recommend checking our website for updates on this situation.”

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Cruise Lines to Miss Out on Relief From US Stimulus Bill


The cruise industry is among the hardest hit by the coronavirus outbreak, but the $2 trillion stimulus bill working its way through the government will not provide bailout funds for cruise companies.

a boat in the water: Manhattan, Cruise, Terminal

According to The Washington Post, United States Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said the bill would allot $500 billion in loans or guarantees to distressed businesses, but he revealed the companies must be based in or work primarily from the U.S.

Several of the top cruise lines in the world are not incorporated in the U.S. as a way to avoid paying higher taxes and the country’s more stringent minimum wage requirements, including Carnival Cruise Line and Royal Caribbean International.

The Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) applauded the stimulus package Thursday thanks to its inclusion of relief for more than 30,000 CLIA travel agent members. The industry trade group thanked lawmakers for “reaching a historic agreement to address the unprecedented crisis.”

The CLIA said it would continue working with the government to protect the cruise industry as companies continue to secure loans to improve liquidity, which experts believe should become an industry-wide trend.

“As it relates to the rescue package, cruise lines are not lobbying for a bailout. CLIA and our members agree that the most important stimulus the government can provide on behalf of the wider cruise community in the United States is help for small- and medium-sized businesses, including a vast network of travel agencies, tour operators and suppliers, with a presence in all 50 states,” CLIA spokeswoman Bari Golin-Blaugrund wrote in an email.

The possible exclusion of cruise companies in the bill came as a shock to some considering U.S. President Donald Trump expressed his desire in previous interviews to help the pillars of the hard-hit travel industry, including cruise lines, airlines and hotels.

In addition, executives from the cruise industry recently met with Vice President Mike Pence.

During a press conference Thursday, President Trump said he would support cruise lines being forced to register in the U.S. to receive aid from the government, saying, “We’re going to work very hard on the cruise line business and we’re going to figure something out.”

The stimulus bill also provides $10 billion in direct assistance to airports across the country, but they would be required to retain at least 90 percent of their workforce through the end of 2020 in exchange for the funds.

For travel agents and advisors, the legislation includes assistance for those affected by the coronavirus outbreak.

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Luggage: Expert reveals top reasons bags go missing during travels – and how to avoid it

Travelling with hold luggage is avoided by many as it can come with its own set of expenses or even slow down the travel process. However, for many, particularly long-haul travellers, flying with bags is simply a necessity.

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Though check-in costs and weight restrictions are one set of problems, it is the concept of losing bags altogether that can feel like a nightmare scenario for many travellers.

While there are plenty of protocols in place, including an increase in technology in recent years, the latest baggage mishandling report from SITA reveals 24.8 million bags were lost or delayed in 2018 alone.

However, one luggage expert has revealed why he thinks bags go missing, and it could actually be the fault of the passenger themselves, rather than the staff.

Myles Quee, travel expert for Send My Bag spoke to Express.co.uk, explaining that punctuality is the key.

He said: “Travellers who check in late are more likely to become separated from their case as baggage handlers need time to process luggage.

“If you’re wondering about what time to leave for your flight, remember that the later you arrive, the higher the chances are that you’ll lose your luggage.”

Indeed, most airlines encourage travellers to arrive at least three hours early to an international flight and two hours for a domestic flight.

A little extra time is encouraged for those who need to check in bags.

“There are plenty of reasons why passengers are told to arrive several hours before departure, with baggage being the main one,” says Mr Quee.

“It takes time for handlers to transport all the bags from the drop off to the plane.

“Customers who leave everything to the last minute might avoid the long security lines but may find themselves luggage-less when they land.”

This rule of thumb should also be applied to journeys with multiple flights and layovers.

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If a layover is too tight, it may mean your bag doesn’t make it to the next plane even if you do.

Mr Quee says: “Avoid short layovers – if you’re tight for time, the baggage handlers will be too. Try and leave at least two hours between flights to allow for delays and give handlers sufficient time to move your luggage.”

However, it seems even travellers who turn up with plenty of time to spare can fall victim to a case of a missing suitcase.

Another reason Mr Quee says bags go missing is due to incorrect tagging, something that has been echoed by baggage handlers and other industry experts.

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Mr Quee explains: “Another common reason why luggage goes missing is when the routing label gets damaged.

“If this happens and you haven’t attached a contact card in a luggage tag, your suitcase will likely be lost.”

On a Reddit post, another baggage expert explained: “Not a secret, just common sense; the reason some bags miss their flight or get misrouted is because passengers don’t remove old tags.

“It confuses handlers as well as the conveyor belt scanners. I see it happen all the time.”

Bag tags are used by airlines to ensure luggage is routes to the correct flight and destination.

They are usually printed with a barcode and matching stub which is given to the passenger.

However, if old tags are left on the bags this can confuse the technology in place which automatically sends the bag in the direction it thinks it needs to go.

Though baggage handlers do work hard to double-check every tag is correct, in a fast-paced environment, things can easily slip through the cracks.

Mr Quee advises: “To avoid this, put contact information inside your travel itinerary so that airline staff can contact you easily and reunite you with your belongings.”

He adds: “Put your travel itinerary inside your bag along with contact information. Luggage tags can become easily detached in transit, so you need to give airlines an alternative way to contact you if your suitcase becomes lost.”

Luckily, there are alternatives to checking in luggage – particularly if you intend on travelling with a lot of bags.

“Ship your luggage instead of checking it in at the airport,” advises Mr Quee.

“You’ll be able to race through check-in, track your goods throughout transit and not spend the entire journey fretting about whether your luggage made it onto the plane.”

Should you find yourself in the unfortunate situation where your bag does go missing, do not fret.

Julian Kearney, CEO of travel insurance company Staysure spoke to Express.co.uk, offering advice on what to do if passengers find themselves in this situation.

He explained that the best things to do is “keep hold of any airline or any other ticket that confirms your travel arrangements”.

He added: “In most instances, luggage is reported missing whilst under the supervision of airlines and there is nothing that travellers can do to prevent their luggage going missing whilst in their care.

“In the unfortunate event of this happening, Staysure customers are advised to notify their airline straight away and register the loss by completing any necessary paperwork.

“This will be required in support of any claim made under their Staysure Travel Insurance Policy.”

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