Europeans own tourist!

According to research published by Eurostat, is the percentage of Europeans in their own countries have holidays for 77.

According to a member of the European Union, only the Netherlands, made 27 countries, Slovenia, Belgium and Luxembourg, the majority of its citizens abroad for their holidays. Foreigners in Spain, Greece, for their holiday as intense, and citizens of countries such as Italy or France often prefer their country for the holidays.

CLICK ON THE


Debt crisis: live

16.35 The European markets have now closed, and it’s official: Q3 2011
saw the biggest FTSE 100 drop since 2002. We’ll be bringing you an in-depth
story on that this evening, so stay tuned.

The FTSE 100 is down 1.97pc on the day, the CAC 40 has dropped
by 2.18pc, the DAX has lost 2.8pc and the FTSE MIB is off by
1.8pc.

16.18 Greece may have just introduced an extremely unpopular property
tax, but that’s not the only source of income that the nation is seeking.

Last year smoking was banned in public places like cafes and bars, but today
the government said that night clubs larger than 300 square metres could set
aside half of their space for smokers – as long as they pay a tax of €200,
per square metre, per year.

15.55 Reuters is reporting that Greece could be looking at
kicking the can into the next century – by offering a 100-year bond.

The country could offer the “century bond” in return for outstanding
short-term debt, said a banker at one of the institutions advising Greece
who said he saw the plans being studied.

But two senior Greek government officials have denied that the plan is on the
table.

15.35 A fun tweet
from Bruno Waterfield, at the EC headquarters in Brussels.

TwitterHuge ‘No exit’ banner appears in EC’s Brussels HQ – some sort of a message
for the #eurozone?

15.25 Today is the last day of Q3, and the FTSE 100 is currently
down 14.66pc. There’s still plenty of time left today to slide further or
regain a bit of those losses, but as it stands, this is on course to be the biggest
quarterly fall since 2002
.

That it is the biggest fall in 9 years is remarkable by itself, but the truly
scary part comes when you consider that it will beat 2008 and the effects of
the credit crunch…

15.09 Markets around the world are tumbling at the moment. Rising
inflation and slower growth in Europe, coupled with fears over a looming
Greek default are sending markets into the red. Talk of a solution from
eurozone leaders is doing little to calm fears.

In Europe, the FTSE 100 is down 2.4pc on the day, the CAC 40 has
dropped by 2.36pc, the DAX has lost 3.04pc and the FTSE MIB is
off by 1.8pc.

In the US the Dow Jones lost 1.21pc, the SP 500 was 1.7pc
off and the tech-heavy Nasdaq was down 1.77pc.

15.01 Troika inspectors are hard at work crunching numbers in Greece to
assess how much progress the nation has made on cutting debt and spending.
The stakes are high, as the outcome will decide whether Greece gets its next
EFSF cash injection.

The report from the IMF, the ECB and the EC could be ready in two weeks.

It will also play a crucial part in any re-examination of private sector
involvement in the next bailout package for Athens, eurozone officials have
said.

Officials said that if growth forecasts were revised down, revenue projections
would be cut too. As a result, Greek financing needs would grow. One euro
zone official said:

QuoteThe framework conditions might have changed since the last review was done
and the Greek growth forecast also. When we put all of that together we have
to see what kind of conclusions will be drawn.

Officials warned that if faced with higher financing needs, eurozone
governments would be unlikely to agree to shoulder the extra burden alone
and could ask private Greek bond holders to contribute more than the already
agreed 21pc haircut.

14.45 Wall Street has opened for business, and stocks dropped in early
trading after new data showed rising inflation and slower growth in Europe
and falling incomes for Americans.

The Dow Jones lost 1.31pc, the SP 500 was 1.57pc off and
the tech-heavy Nasdaq was down 1.70pc.

14.29 Members of the Alliance for the Future of Austria, or BZO party
held a banner calling for a “referendum now” during the EFSF vote
in Austria earlier today.

14.24 Eurozone leaders and heads of the 27 member states will meet at
an EU summit on October 17 before discussing single currency governance the
following day, according to Reuters.

14.15 Breaking: Leaders of eurozone countries look set to hold a summit
on governance of the single currency on October 18. More details as we get
them.

14.02 More details of the Austrian EFSF vote earlier this afternoon are
coming through. Finance minister Maria Fekter addressed parliament during
the four-hour debate.

QuoteThe developments of recent weeks are serious. The debt crisis is now not
only touching the eurozone but all of Europe and the Western world. I can
assure you that with all the measures taken, no matter how hard they are, we
are acting in the interests of Austria.

13.55 For those who still have any money, the Bank of England has
announced a new £50 bank note featuring entrepreneur Matthew Boulton
and engineer James Watt will be released on November. Victoria
Cleland
, head of the BoE’s Notes Division said it was the first time two
portraits had appeared on the same note.

QuoteWe are very pleased to announce the imminent launch of the new 50 pounds,
which will incorporate new and enhanced security features to prevent
counterfeiting.

13.46 The Business
Daily
over at the BBC gets a bit Hollywood crazy as it imagines the
financial crisis as a movie. It starts: “Imagine a world where there
are no banks … From the people who brought you the collapse of Lehman
Brothers, the global financial crisis and the credit crunch, comes Debt
Again. This takes financial disaster into a whole new low.”

13.40 Futures are pointing to the DOW opening down around 0.8pc
when the market opens in just under an hour.

13.34 Financial journalist Nick
Reeve
offers some light relief, but credits The
Bugle
for this gem:

TwitterInvestors currently feeling like German vegetarians: they fear the wurst.
Geddit?

13.23 The BBC’s Joe
Lynam
warns Slovakia may be a “booby trap” for plans to
increase the EFSF but the Slovak deputy head of the EU’s executive, Maros
Sefcovic
said it was unlikely the country would stall the deal.

QuoteI can’t imagine any renegotiation of the agreements that have been already
settled and ratified by other countries. Slovakia is risking its
trustworthiness dramatically … and causing nervousness on the markets
.

13.14 The four-hour session of the Austrian Parliament has been heated
at times, with 117 MPs voting in favour while 53 voted against. Austrian
guarantees in the EFSF will double to €21.6bn.

13.08 Just in time for lunch and the Austrian Parliament has approved
the extension of the EFSF bailout.

12.55 Business reporter Rachel Cooper is watching the end of a
tough quarter for the markets on the FTSE
Live blog
.

London’s blue-chips look set to end this turbulent quarter with a whimper
rather than a bang. The FTSE 100 is down 88 points to 5107 and is on course
for its worst quarterly fall since the collapse of Lehman Brothers.

12.48 Slovakia’s Freedom and Solidarity (SaS) party has opened up
channels to negotiate a deal on the EFSF fund that would be acceptable to
Europe and Slovakia. The party had opposed the extension of the fund given
Slovakia is the second poorest member of the eurozone.

12.32 Assistant City Editor Jonathan
Sibun
has an eye on the Spanish and French markets.

TwitterSpanish and French shares set for worst three-month performance since the
second quarter of 2002. Thanks God for that short-selling ban …

12.27 The chairman of WL Ross Co, Wilbur Ross has added
his voice to the chorus of doubts about the strength of a EFSF bailout.

QuoteI’m not convinced that this bailout package is going to be remotely enough
for the euro zone itself
. I think it should start with a ‘T,’ [for
trillions] not a ‘B’ [for billions].

12.13 The Slovakian Prime Minister Iveta Radicova has had a
private meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, according to a
government spokesman. Slovakia is due to vote on the EFSF extension next
week.

12.03 The euro has fallen to a two-week low of 86.51p against the
pound, Reuters reports.

12.01 Ambrose Evans-Pritchard’s latest blog, Nein,
Nein, Nein, and the death of EU Fiscal Union
, is now online.

11.53 Journalist Oliver
Cooper
observes domestic political point-scoring in the debate over
the euro bailout.

TwitterAustria’s eurosceptic FPÖ [Freedom Party of Austria] and BZÖ [Alliance
for the Future of Austria] have been making great hay over the #EFSF:
big vote-winners. But the EFSF will be overwhelmingly approved.

11.47 Denmark’s central bank has announced it will provide 400 billion
kroner ($72.6 billion) in emergency liquidity to the country’s banks to
salvage its under-threat recovery. Central bank Governor Nils Bernstein
released a statement today.

QuoteThe expanded program is designed to supplement financial institutions’
access to taking loans and thereby build a bridge to a situation without
state guarantees, when these expire in 2012 and 2013

11.37 International business editor Ambrose Evans-Pritchard
tells us the real significance of yesterday’s German vote on the EFSF has
been overlooked. Here’s a preview of his latest blog:

The furious debate over the erosion of German fiscal sovereignty and
democracy – as well as the escalating costs of the EU rescue machinery – has
made it absolutely clear that the Bundestag will not prop up the ruins of
monetary union for much longer.

11.35 After today’s vote in Austria, the remaining countries to debate
the extension of the euro rescue fund will be Malta, Slovakia and the
Netherlands.

11.30 Spain has given its savings banks a €7.55bn boost, according to
the BBC’s Joe
Lynam
.

TwitterSpain has injected €7.55bn of public funds into 4 of its savings banks
(cajas) – marking the end of the recapitalization of its banks

11.18 While the debate on the eurozone bailout continues in Austria,
the UK Government has a novel idea of quite literally speeding up the
recovery. Transport secretary Philip Hammond wants to raise the speed
limit on motorways to 80mph.

QuoteIncreasing the motorway speed limit to 80mph would generate economic
benefits of hundreds of millions of pounds through shorter journey times. So
we will consult later this year on raising the limit to get Britain moving.

11.13 Martin Kotthaus, a spokesman for Germany’s finance
minister, has said the Finland-Greece collateral issue is close to a
solution, Reuters is reporting.

QuoteI’m very optimistic that this interesting problem will soon be resolved.

Austrian finance minster Maria Theresia Fekter (left) as parliament
gathered to vote on expanding the eurozone rescue fund. Photo: Reuters.

10.41 The debate has resumed after Austrian finance minster Maria
Theresia Fekter was heckled so loudly she had to stop speaking.

10.31 The debate on the EFSF changes in Austria has descended into
chaos, according to Graeme
Wearden
, business reporter at The Guardian.

TwitterOne for euro crisis watchers: Austria’s EFSF debate is underway, and
briefly suspended amid mass heckling

10.09 Figures out this morning showed an unexpected rise in inflation
in the eurozone to 3pc, outstripping forecasts that expected consumer prices
to remain at 2.5pc. The EU’s statistics agency Eurostat said inflation rose
from August following higher inflation in Germany.

09.56 Italy received a nominal boost this morning after new figures
showed unemployment fell from 8pc in July to 7.9pc in August. However, youth
unemployment remained high, increasing to 27.6pc from 27.5pc over a month.

09.52 As we await news from Austria, it emerges sterling has fallen by
0.3pc against the dollar as speculation over more quantitative easing
continues.

The pound was down to $1.5572 after reaching a high of $1.5716 on Thursday.

09.31 The Austrian Parliament was due to convene at 10am (9am BST) to
vote on the changes to the EFSF.

09.14 Fears about the success of an EFSF bailout has caused the euro to
slide to low against the dollar today. It is likely to see its biggest
monthly loss in 10 months.

09.02 The current debt turmoil in Europe and tough financial conditions
are “driving the world towards another Great Depression,”
according to George Soros, chairman of Soros Fund Management, writing
in the Financial Times. He calls for a common eurozone treasury, ECB control
over main banks and refinancing in Italy and Spain.

QuoteMany other proposals are under discussion behind closed doors. Most seek to
leverage the EFSF by turning it into a bank or an insurance company or by
using a special purpose vehicle.

08.49 Analysts have been having some fun with the EFSF vote, according
to financial reporter Fabrizio
Goria
. He tweets:

TwitterLOL of the day – Donovan (UBS): “Germany voted for the EFSF
extension. Greece celebrated by going on strike.”

08.34 Work and pensions secretary Iain Duncan Smith has hit out
at the EU for posing
a threat to the UK’s welfare reforms
. He also criticises proposals
for a financial transactions tax. The plan “threatens to punish UK
banks by decreasing their competitiveness abroad,” he says.

08.27 With European markets opened down this morning, analysts
including Philip Isherwood, head of equity strategy at Evolution
Securities, are expecting the worst performance over the quarter since the
global financial crisis in 2008.

QuoteShort-term, we still have the same prospects: the timing of a Greek
default, the nature of it, how shared or otherwise; the uncertainty of
whether the (second Greek bailout) package needs to be revisited.

08.18 Last month saw a slight
improvement in UK consumer confidence
, according to the GfK NOP
index. Confidence grew by one point to -30 while the outlook for families
for the next 12 months was marginally more optimistic at -27, up four
points. Nick Moon, GfK social research managing director, said it
showed Britons were feeling “a little more hopeful” about the UK
economy.

08.12 In commodities, gold has fallen by 11pc for the month, which is
the biggest drop since October 2008 when it fell by 16.8pc. Here’s the graph
from Bloomberg:

08.07 More on the news breaking that New Zealand has been hit by a
double downgrade by SP and Fitch Ratings, which came as the country
faced the clear-up and rebuilding bill following the Christchurch earthquake
earlier this year. In June, external debt reached 70pc of GDP. Foreign
minister Kevin Rudd said the revision showed no countries could
ignore the economic challenges in the eurozone and US.

QuoteThe truth is that, as we enter the last months of 2011, we stand again at a
critical point in economic history. A challenge the world will either
respond to decisively. Or a challenge that will be allowed to linger,
becoming harder and harder to contain the longer it is left to grow.

08.00 The FTSE 100 has opened 0.4pc down at 5175, down 22
points.

Both the DAX and France’s CAC opened 0.6pc down. Spain’s IBEX
was down by 0.4pc and in Italy, the FTSE MIB fell by 0.6pc.

07.56 Breaking: New Zealand’s sovereign rating has been downgraded by
both Standard and Poor’s, and Fitch, becoming the second Asia Pacific
country after Japan to have its rating cut. Both agencies cut its rating
from AA+ to AA. Finance minister Bill English said the move was “ugly”.

QuoteWe are not immune to the global backdrop. In particular, investors
are now reassessing their appetite for debt and credit agencies are taking a
tougher stance.

07.48 As members of the Greek PAME trade union protested
yesterday, the atmosphere in Germany was altogether calmer.

The Volkswagen Beetle sculpture made of straw was on display in Frohnschwand,
Germany.

Meanwhile, protesters burned their tax bureau statements for the extraordinary
surtax on real estate during a demonstration outside an Athens Tax Bureau.

07.40 Chairman of Roubini Global Economics Nouriel
Roubini
has made the point that the markets are fearing:

TwitterEFSF I was 250 billion euros; EFSF II is 440 billion but isnt enough. EFSF
III will have to be 2 Trillion euros plus to bailout Italy/Spain

07.38 We have more from Germany’s economy minister Philipp Roesler,
who has said leveraging the EFSF fund was unnecessary this morning. He told
broadcaster ARD:

QuoteThe German Bundestag always has the last word … I do not see any
willingness there to change the upper limits or increase the liabilities
through other ways such as leveraging.

07.36 This morning’s headlines are focusing on Angela Merkel’s victory
following the vote of confidence in plans for a euro bailout through the
EFSF.

The Daily Telegraph: Germany
votes to boost euro lifeline fund
.
Financial Times: Germany backs rescue fund.
The Times: Merkel vote victory calms eurozone as Greece faces tests
before €8bn payout.
The Guardian: Merkel enjoys triumph in bailout
Daily Mail: German vote fails to ease euro fears.

07.29 Across Europe, markets are expected to open lower this morning
with the biggest quarterly decline in almost three years anticipated.

The DAX is set to fall by 0.3pc after the crucial vote in Germany on
the EFSF yesterday. Meanwhile in France, the CAC-40 is likely to be
down 0.5pc or eight to 14 points down.

07.25 Germany’s economy minister Philipp Roesler says there is
no need to boost the EFSF bailout fund with leveraging, Reuters reports.

07.18 In Japan, the markets were down slightly after a slow day.

The Nikkei closed down 0.01pc at 8,700.29 while the Topix closed
down 0.15pc at 761.17.

07.13 The FTSE 100 is expected to open down 17 to 30 points this
morning on the back of a nervous day watching the ratification of the EFSF
changes. In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng fell 3.7pc as the worst monthly
performance in the Asian market for three years continued.

07.09 The impact of yesterday’s vote
to expand the EFSF
on the markets will become clearer today.
Meanwhile, the Asian markets have been looking a little unsteady following
news that China’s manufacturing growth was down for a third month in a row
in September. However, prices were up as China battles rising inflation. Connie
Tse
, Forecast economist in Singapore said:

QuoteThe trade sector no doubt faces increasing risks, but recent export growth
momentum is holding up decently. China is not facing a collapse in global
demand yet, as witnessed in 2009.

07.05 Good morning and welcome back to our live coverage of the
continuing global debt crisis. Log on throughout the day for the latest news
and views.

Read all our latest news on the financial
crisis
, or take an in-depth look at events over the past month.

Debt crisis live: archive


Travel: Last minute deal for Kos

A beautiful sandy bay, turquoise seas and a beachful of boats, rigged up and ready for you to take. What could be better? Well, it all depends if you’ve got children and, if you have, what age they are. Building sand castles keeps toddlers happy but truculent teenagers need mates, and plenty to do. Most parents want chill out time on their own too, and that’s why holiday companies that offer activity breaks with free childcare are such a winning formula.

Over the years I’ve tried a few and sampled the delights – and drawbacks – of going on holiday with kids of all ages, from four months old to age 18! But the basic truth is that, if your children are happy – it makes like a whole lot easier.

This October anyone wanting to grab a last-minute sunshine activity break can snap up one of the bargain ‘last minute’ deals on offer. Now that the schools are back, parents with kids locked into the exam system have no option but to try and afford the peak half-term holiday slot.

Right: Teenagers try their hand at the free windsurfing on offer in Kos

Singles, couple and even those with young children however, are onto a winner. One example is Mark Warners’ first class resort on the island of Kos in Greece, where October half term breaks is currently showing at cost of over £800 a person – or £3296 for a family of four, including two teenagers.

Those free to travel on Saturday October 8, however, can pick up the SAME holiday with the same superb facilities for just £399 each. For this you’ll get flights, transfers, half board accommodation, watersports and tuition, top tennis courts, free fitness and aerobics, and relaxation! Oh, and if you’ve got kids, there’s free, day-long childcare thrown in too – almost cheaper than staying at home and paying the nursery fees!

Left: The view from the restaurant across the pool

It’s a popular formula. Couples, where one of you enjoys the odd swim or game of tennis, while the other is mad for windsurfing, can both be happy.

I’ve stayed there with my teenagers. The food, and the view from the restaurant was superb – and the rooms in the hotel building itself (included in the £399 offer) excellent. The Lakitira resort has other family accommodation in the ‘village’ also on site. This might work better for those with small children – but apartments there are a little more basic.

It’s a large resort with lots to offer. Qualified English-speaking nannies keep kids occupied at the pool, beach and at their own children’s playground complete with swings and slides. And, in the week I was there, not once did I hear one cry or complaint from the happy toddlers I spotted.

Right: Anyone for tennis? One of the courts next to the beach in Kos

Facilities include great tennis courts, two swimming pools, two beaches (one billed as ‘adults only’) lots of boats and a good selection of windsurfing equipment. Oh, and a perfect beach bar to sit and watch the sun go down.

Relax at the bar on the beach after a hard day’s sailing

The beach bar was where I met my teenage son each day – after he’d enjoyed a busy day in the ‘Indy’ Club with the rest of the 15-year-olds playing volleyball, swimming, sailing playing ‘mind games’ and making new mates. He had a great time but, it’s horses for courses.

In truth, Lakitira’s size can be a little daunting for some teenagers. Mark Warner’s smaller resorts (and those away from temptations of nearby towns with an excess of under-age drinking bars) can work better for some parents.

My son and daughter had an EVEN better week at their smaller Sardinian resort earlier in the season where the ‘leaders’ looking after the teenage groups were simply outstanding.

I loved the cycling in Sardinia too and the exercise classes – but the wind was more reliable in Kos, making windsurfing better.

The food in Sardinia was very good, but not as good as in Kos. On the plus side, one memorable day trip excursion I took on a paid-for boat along the coast more than made up for it. The actual flight to Sardinia was better too – British Airways from Heathrow against a 5am Gatwick flight with Tor Air. A long delay on the way back from Kos didn’t endear me to Tor Air either – though it meant we did get an extra half-day on the beach as Kos resort is only a short 20 minute journey from the airport, a definite plus.

Left: I took a day-trip excursion on this boat in Sardinia along the coast and swam to this beach – the sea really is this colour!

FACT FILE:-

  • Mark Warner’s Lakitira Resort, Kos – currently offering a £399 deal leaving October 8th for 7 days flying from Gatwick with Tor Air. Includes half-board option, free watersports and childcare.
    See their website www.markwarner.co.uk for more information or call our reservations team on 0844 884 3800.
  • OTHER LAST MINUTE DEALS: Neilson Holidays have just released their last-minute 7-day sailing holiday deals for holidays on October 8 to the Greek island on Lemnos at the Four Star resort, Portomyrina Palace for £409 per person, saving £315 each. Price includes free kids clubs, watersports from sailing to windsurfing, waterskiing, wakeboarding kayaking and free mountain biking fitness classes.

See www.neilson.co.uk or call 0844 879 8155


Greece: Travel revenues grew by 16.9 pct in July this year

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, 30 2011, 19:54:54


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arrow arrowGreek News arrow Greece: Travel revenues grew by 16.9 pct in July this year

Greece: Travel revenues grew by 16.9 pct in July this year




: Express.gr 30/09/11-11:32

Travel revenues grew by 16.9 pct in July this year, compared with
the same period in 2010, for an increase of 14.2 pct in the
January-July period, the Bank of Greece said on Wednesday.

The central bank, in a report, attributed this positive development
to higher revenues from citizens from countries outside the EU-27 (29.3
pct) to 1.87 billion euros, while revenues from EU-27 countries totaled
3.593 billion euros in the January-July period, up 7.7 pct form last
year. Revenues from Germany rose 7.4 pct, while revenues from the UK
fell 3.6 pct. Revenues from Russia jumped 80.2 pct. amna

Incoming travel totaled 2.984 million travelers in July, up 7.2 pct
from the same month last year, for an increase of 11.4 pct in the
seven-month period between January and July (8.288 million). AMNA


Greece: ND bashes gov’t on announced measures
Greece: Gov’t cites immediate privatisations, reform package

Greece: 40th Book Festival opens at Zappeion
“Greece’s commitments would be fully met”
European Commission: No issue of Greece’s eurozone exit




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Survey finds UK travelers turned on by Asian flavors

It seems that much of the world is finally realizing there is more to Asia than stunning holiday locations and great shopping — the food is pretty good too.

A survey released this week in the United Kingdom has revealed that Asian dishes take up three of the top five favorite dining choices, and that five out of the 10 national dishes rated were also from the region.

Travel search website Skyscanner found no real surprises in the choices made in its survey but just how high the Asian dishes ranked showed a change in attitude by the UK’s travelers.

“Asian cuisine has become increasingly popular as our appetite for well-flavoured dishes has grown in recent years,” said Skyscanner Travel Editor, Sam Baldwin, in a statement announcing the results.

So while it’s a given that the whole world loves pasta — rated the most favored dish — the fact that noodle-based Pad Thai from Thailand came second might raise a few eyebrows, or even cause a few to reach for the takeaway menu.

Given too that so many tourists from the UK head across the water to Spain for their holidays, paella (number three) was always going to be among the favorites but it reflects both the changing taste of tourism destinations — as well as meals — that China’s Peking duck came in fourth.

Rounding out the Asian influence in the survey were Japanese favorite sushi (fifth), India’s biryrani (sixth) and Hong Kong’s dim sum (eighth), admittedly a strange option as dim sum in Asia accounts for an entire selection of dishes rather than one individual plate. The results were very much in keeping with tastes in their respective home countries where those dishes are all considered staples of the diet.

Pasta as the number one dish was in keeping with a survey released by Oxfam in June which found it was the world’s favorite dish.

Most favored national dishes:

1. Pasta (Italy)
2. Pad Thai (Thailand)
3. Paella (Spain)
4. Peking Duck (China)
5. Sushi (Japan)
6. Biryani (India)
7. Moussaka (Greece)
8. Dim Sum – Hong Kong
9. Caviar and Blini (Russia)
10. Crepes (France).

MS


Oil rebounds as Germany approves EFSF reform

NEW YORK, Sept. 29 (Xinhua) — U.S. crude oil price rebounded on Thursday as Germany’s lower house approved expanding the European Financial Stability Facility (EFSF), boosting market sentiment.

After Finland’s parliament approved the bailout fund reform, German parliament voted for the plan that allows the EFSF to participate in the primary market and to recapitalize European banks. This approval set a milestone for EFSF’s vote travel in euro zone countries, generating optimism among the investors. Markets were hoping that this reform could help solve Greece’s debt crisis and stop the contagion within the currency bloc.

In U.S., improvement signs in the job market offered more upward momentum to crude prices. The U.S. Labor Department reported the initial jobless claims fell 37,000 to 391,000 in the week ending Sept. 24, hitting the lowest level since April 2. It was the first time that this number dipped below 400,000 since Aug. 6.

But the global economic outlook remained less positive, which was bearish to crude. The Citigroup on Thursday cut its global economic growth forecast for 2011 and 2012 again within one month, saying growth prospects “continue to deteriorate quickly”.

Because of the weak economic outlook and rising output from Libya, investment bank Morgan Stanley slashed its forecast for Brent by 30 dollars to 100 dollars a barrel for 2012.

Light, sweet crude for November delivery rose 93 cents, or 1.15 percent to settle at 82.14 dollars a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. In London, Brent crude for November delivery inched up 14 cents, or 0.13 percent to close at 103.95 dollars a barrel.


Travel porn, re-examined

Escape is the “vacation guide” of American Express, and as you might expect it’s a travel porn magazine without the least redeeming social value. You might ask how I’m so sure it’s travel porn, given the useful information that travel magazines, even the tackiest of them, always provide, but, like Justice Potter Stewart, I know it when I see it. He was talking about sex porn, however, our most common species, but he’d recognize Escape as well.

Many travel magazines (but not, I hasten to point out, National Geographic, which is real journalism in both prose and photographs) live in a world without politics, a world laid out like a banquet for those with money enough and time. There are tourist bubbles of all shapes and kinds – the adventure bubble, the wonders of the world bubble, the shopping and luxury bubble – and there are magazines devoted to each.

The actual residents of the place, and whatever problems they may be having, are given short shrift. Citizens are seen as incredibly helpful guides, surly hotel clerks, colorful cabdrivers, and other members of the living infrastructure. Sometimes tame academics are brought along to lecture on the grandeur that was Rome or some such.

High-end travel is as much a part of neocolonialism as rubber plantations.

Of course, countries that are fortunate enough to have Sights (Cambodia, Egypt, Iran, Italy, Greece) have a nationwide investment in keeping tourist dollars flowing. Even during the Arab Spring, some care was taken to leave the money-making vistas and palaces alone. In some places, tourist bucks are the only hard currency they see. Politics is one thing, but feeding your family is another.

Sometimes the tourist bubble gets burst. Three students take a hike along the Iran border and, oops, they go too far and that’s eight years in jail with six off for no discernible reason. “We’re Americans; that stuff doesn’t apply to us,” is a mantra written in the brain of every American, but it’s never been really true and will become increasingly less so.

The 20th century: In the past, now.

Tourism does not destroy the landscape the way, say, oil drilling does, but anyone who’s watched the detritus whip around as a tour bus roars off knows that the cost is not zero. Also, even the “low end” accommodations in many Third World countries are so much higher end than the actual homes lived in by the people who make the beds and take the breakfast orders, that it takes a kind of conscious blindness to not see the difference.

This is also true in the United States, by the way. Something to remember on your next visit to a Comfort Inn.

So Escape has an article called “Passage to Egypt: The World’s First Destination.” I dunno; I’m not sure the folks in Nineveh and Tyre thought, “You know what would be fun this holiday? Let’s walk across the brutally hot desert of the Sinai Peninsula and see some big stone things.” I think destination tourism may be a relatively recent development.

But there’s been this thing called the Arab Spring. If it were me, I’d go to Tahrir Square and see what’s going on. True, a few people got beat up, but a lot of people didn’t get beat up, and anyway that’s calmed down. And you want to be where history was made, whether it’s Independence Hall or the largest square in Cairo. The Arab Spring may be more Islamist than we’d like, but it’s still what’s going on right now.

Escape mentions none of that. It suggests numerous package tours (all paid for with, presumably, your American Express credit card) and abundant recreational opportunities. Nice photos of white people too, along with the odd colorful donkey. See, a country unlike ours: Donkeys everywhere. What?

But, you may be protesting, the real Egypt might be dangerous. Yes, and the real San Francisco might be dangerous too – have you read the newspaper? I live in Oakland; do I have more to fear in Egypt? Here’s an anecdote: Once we were staying in Delhi, and we read in the papers about a riot that had taken place in Delhi. We hadn’t heard a whisper of it. Cities are big and nations are bigger; unless there’s a war on, chances are the biggest danger you’ll encounter is price-gouging.

And price-gouging isn’t even that bad. Three dollars for a $2 item! Do I look like one of those American suckers? Don’t answer that.

If you’re in a large foreign city, don’t do that much planning. Walk out of your hotel room, take a right or a left. Walk. Dangerous places usually look like dangerous places, don’t go there. And discover the wonders of everyday life.

Look, to your right, you can see some farmworkers with their colorful short-handled hoes.

Come on, sir, here is the place: stand still. How fearful and dizzy is it to cast one’s eyes so low. The crows and choughs that wing the midway air show scarce so gross as [email protected]

This article appeared on page E – 12 of the San Francisco Chronicle


Travel Awards 2011 winners

This year must have been one of the most challenging yet for the travel industry. It was a year of tumultuous events – earthquakes in New Zealand, protests and uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt, the devastating earthquake and tsunami in Japan, the return of the ash cloud, debt problems in Greece and other parts of Europe, and rioting at home. Any predictions about travel trends at the beginning of the year – the growing appetite for travel in the Middle East, for example, with the launch of new flights into the region – appeared to be on shaky ground just a few months in.

On a brighter note, the trend for booking holidays with small, specialist companies continued to grow. Social networking has also come of age, with readers showing an increasing interest in holidays that involve meeting and interacting with local people. And though allegiance to some destinations and tour operators may have shifted, readers seem as keen as ever to travel.

Here’s our full list of winners.

Favourite UK city


Edinburgh skyline
Photograph: Murdo Macleod

For the 12th consecutive year, Edinburgh has held on to its title as the UK’s favourite city. Neither the historic charms of Durham and Bath nor the vibrant arts scene and nightlife in Newcastle and Liverpool are a match for the cultural dynamism and austere beauty of this Scottish city.

1 Edinburgh 2 Durham 3 Bath 4 Newcastle 5 Liverpool

Favourite overseas city

Tokyo proved that its meteoric rise to the top of the city charts was no fluke by hanging on to the title for the second year running. Now the dynamic city is facing one of its biggest challenges yet, trying to persuade tourists to return in the wake of the earthquake and tsunami that hit the north-east of the country in March. Though Tokyo is 200km from the site of the disaster, visitor numbers have taken a big hit. This prompted hoteliers to cut hotel rates by as much as 50%, with the result that this notoriously expensive city is affordable for many visitors for the first time.

1 Tokyo 2 Sydney 3 Cape Town 4 San Francisco 5 New York

Favourite European country


Chateau de Chillon Switzerland
Chateau de Chillon, Lake Geneva, Switzerland. Photograph: Alamy

Once again the clean air, good living, mountain vistas and outdoorsy appeal of the Alpine countries and Scandinavia dominate the top 10, with Switzerland winning back its crown from neighbouring Austria after being knocked off the top spot in 2010, and Sweden quietly creeping up the table to take second place.

1 Switzerland 2 Sweden 3 Austria 4 Germany 5 Italy

Favourite long-haul country

At the start of this year, Japan was anticipating that 2011 would be one of its most successful ever for tourism – a fact reflected in our survey results. But on 11 March, disaster struck: a devastating earthquake and tsunami in the north-east of the country. Though much of the country’s infrastructure has returned to normal, it is feared the damage to Japan’s tourism industry will take longer to repair, despite enticing discounts being offered by hoteliers and tour operators to encourage visitors to return.

1 Japan 2 Maldives 3 Peru 4 New Zealand 5 Vietnam

Best travel Website

Winner: Airbnb


Best travel websites  airbnb.com
Rent a New York loft with Airbnb

Very few websites can claim to be game-changing – but Airbnb has been exactly that. It banked on the idea that people would be happy to open their homes to strangers, for a fee. They were right… in a very big way. It’s seen an 800% grown in service in the last year, and been valued at more than $1bn. According to a TechCrunch post last year, “on any given night in New York there are more people staying in homes via Airbnb than there are rooms in the biggest hotel in Manhattan”. Not bad for an idea dreamt up by three post-grads in a San Francisco living room in 2007.

Best travel agent

A previous winner in this category and last year’s runner-up, Journeys à la Carte, has reclaimed its crown this year. The independent travel agent has earned a loyal customer following for its expertise, impartial advice and commitment to personal service, a fact that’s reflected in its impressive score of 99.8 per cent.

1 Journeys à la Carte 2 Travel Counsellors 3 Co-op Travel 4 STA Travel 5 Flight Centre

Ethical travel award


Sunrise Festival in Somerset
Sunrise Festival in Somerset. Photograph: Mark Falmouth

Winner: Sunrise Festival

This small British festival, held in Somerset, really impressed us with its commitment to sustainability, but not at the expense of fun. Festivals have never been more popular, and are typically a huge litter-generating, electricity-consuming exercise in wasteful excess. Yet Sunrise has shown that they don’t have to be this way, proving that you can host a wild, hedonistic party, with loud music, light shows and a raucous crowd, without impacting on the environment. The festival policy is based on wanting to “live in harmony with the earth” and making changes at grassroots level in the hope they will inspire others.

Best online booking service

This new category reflects one of the fastest-growing sectors of the travel industry: online bookings. The honours go to i-escape for its tantalising collection of hand-picked places to stay around the world.

1 i-escape 2 Saddle Skedaddle 3 Directski.com 4 Erna Low 5 HF Holidays

Best tour operator – large operator

Heading the large operator category for the second year is walking specialist HF Holidays, which has also branched out into city breaks, activity holidays and guided tours.

1 HF Holidays 2 Riviera Travel 3 Voyages Jules Verne 4 Direct Holidays 5 Trailfinders

Best tour operator – small operator


Wester Ross, Scotland
Wester Ross, Scotland. Photograph: Michael Tait

It’s all change in the small tour operator category, with Scotland specialist McKinlay Kidd coming up trumps with its enticing programme of itineraries, ranging from West Coast Seafood Trails to Hebridean Wildlife Adventures.

1 McKinlay Kidd 2 Wild Frontiers 3 Saddle Skedaddle 4 Audley Travel 5 Milestones Tours

Best short break operator – large operator

Hertfordshire-based HF Holidays, a not-for-profit co-operative society, takes the big prize, closely followed by long-haul specialist Trailfinders.

1 HF Holidays 2 Trailfinders 3 Riviera Travel 4 Voyages Jules Verne 5 Superbreak

Best short break operator – small operator

Cycling specialist Saddle Skedaddle has pipped last year’s winner, Original Travel, to the post. New entry Mr Mrs Smith brings a bit of glamour to the list with its mouth-watering portfolio of sexy boutique hotels.

1 Saddle Skedaddle 2 Original Travel 3 VFB Holidays 4 Kirker Holidays 5 Mr Mrs Smith

Best ski company


Skiing in chamonix
Photograph: Alamy

Proving that small is beautiful for the third year in a row is Peak Retreats, which takes its guests off the beaten piste to hidden resorts and villages offering an authentic Alpine experience.

1 Peak Retreats 2 Erna Low 3 Directski.com 4 Exodus 5 Mark Warner

Best cruise line

Uniworld River Cruises, a boutique river cruising specialist, is making waves in this category, coming from nowhere to overtake cruise world leviathans such as Silversea, Cunard and Celebrity.

1 Uniworld River Cruises 2 Cunard 3 Viking River Cruises 4 Voyages of Discovery 5 Noble Caledonia

Best UK hotel


Hoxton Hotel front
The Hoxton Hotel, London

It’s official, The Hoxton is still hip. The combination of great-value rooms and a cool east London location is proving a winner with our readers. City Inn’s rebranding last year has not affected its fortunes as the group hangs on to second place under its fresh new name, Mint Hotels.

1 The Hoxton 2 Mint Hotel 3 Sofitel 4 Hotel Du Vin Bistro 5 Malmaison

Best overseas hotel

This year’s winner, Dubai-based hotel group Jumeirah, continues ts quest for global domination with new five-star properties scheduled to open in Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Kuwait, Azerbaijan, the Maldives and Mallorca in the next 12 months.

1 Jumeirah 2 Mandarin Oriental 3 Oberoi Hotels Resorts 4 Ritz-Carlton 5 Shangri-La Hotels Resorts

Best economy airline

This year we pitted long-haul and short-haul specialists against each other in just two categories, with some interesting results. Singapore Airlines is the clear favourite in this new merged sector, with an impressive score of 94%. Of the Europe-based airlines, Aer Lingus fares best, coming fifth.

1 Singapore Airlines 2 Emirates 3 Qantas 4 Malaysian Airlines 5 Aer Lingus

Best business airline

It’s all change in this category with Etihad, Air New Zealand and Qatar Airways toppling long-standing favourites Singapore, Emirates and Virgin from the top three.

1 Etihad Airways 2 Air New Zealand 3 Qatar Airways 4 Singapore Airlines 5 Cathay Pacific

Best ferry company

First prize goes to Caledonian MacBrayne, which sails to 24 destinations along Scotland’s spectacular west coast, serving tourists and locals alike with its great range of Frequent Traveller, Island Hopping and Day Trip tickets.

1 Caledonian MacBrayne 2 Brittany Ferries 3 Irish Ferries 4 Isle of Man Steam Packet Company 5 Northlink

Best train company

Eurotunnel has pipped Eurostar to the post this year, with both cross-Channel operators sitting pretty ahead of the rest of the field.

1 Eurotunnel 2 Eurostar 3 Chiltern Railways 4 Gatwick Express 5 East Coast Trains


Greece resumes talks with auditors amid fresh protests


ATHENS |
Thu Sep 29, 2011 5:07pm EDT

ATHENS (Reuters) – Civil servants blockaded several ministries on Thursday to protest against austerity measures as Greece resumed talks with EU and IMF inspectors on an 8 billion euro aid tranche it needs to avoid bankruptcy next month.

The Socialist government decided on unpopular pension cuts, lay-offs and taxes last week to lure back the so-called troika of European Commission, European Central Bank and International Monetary Fund officials, who suspended talks earlier this month after disagreements on the steps needed to plug fiscal gaps.

Dozens of employees gathered in front of the finance ministry on Thursday in protest against the measures, shouting: “Take your bailout and leave.”

They stopped some troika officials from entering the building, and the mission chiefs met Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos in another government office.

“The climate was positive and creative after the tough measures that were decided,” the finance ministry said in a statement after the talks resumed.

Civil servants also blocked the entrances of other public buildings including the interior, justice, health and agriculture ministries, a police spokesman said.

“These measures will not get us out of the crisis. I don’t have enough money to pay for the extra taxes and levies,” said taxi-driver George Kouris, 48, a father of two.

Before returning to the table, the EU/IMF mission demanded written assurances from Greece that its new pledges will be met, highlighting a lack of trust after repeated failures to meet targets and foot-dragging on privatizations.

Prime Minister George Papandreou, who urged his cabinet on Thursday to step up efforts to meet EU/IMF targets, will hold talks on Greece’s debt situation with French President Nicolas Sarkozy in Paris on Friday.

“We are moving as fast as we can to finish pending issues and you should not allow issues in your area to linger,” Papandreou admonished ministers.

In a sign of difficulties in implementing reforms, the cabinet postponed a decision on a measure announced last week to put 30,000 public sector workers on the road to redundancy.

“We must discuss the details with the troika,” government spokesman Ilias Mosialos said.

Other officials said the government had drafted three alternative scenarios that would be discussed with inspectors before being finalized at a cabinet meeting on Sunday.

Athens has promised its EU and IMF lenders that it would put thousands of public sector workers in a so-called labor reserve this year, lifting a taboo on the sacking of civil servants to meet a condition for continued bailout aid.

But officials say enforcing the measure is very complicated in a country where the constitution protects civil servant jobs.

BAILOUT AID

The EU, IMF and ECB inspectors are set to comb through new austerity plans for at least a week. Most analysts expect they will approve the next tranche of aid, although many expect Greece to have to default in the coming months.

Germany’s parliament approved a strengthening of the euro zone’s rescue fund in a key vote on Thursday despite growing doubts about Greece’s solvency. German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble said euro zone finance ministers would decide on the aid payment on October 13.

“I think euro zone finance ministers will in the end release the next tranche of bailout payments for Greece,” said Joerg Kraemer, economist at Commmerzbank. “They will not dare turn off the tap on Greece right now, it’s a political decision.”

Without new funds, Greece could run out of cash to pay state wage and pension bills as soon as October. A default on debt repayments could wreck the balance sheets of banks across Europe and unleash a crisis in the global financial system.

Bailing out Greece has become a tough political proposition for other euro zone leaders to sell to their own voters.

Papandreou’s PASOK party trails the conservatives by 5.8 points, according to the latest opinion poll. The conservatives want a renegotiation of the bailout deal to allow lower taxes and less austerity, something the troika has rejected.

Labor unions have called new anti-austerity walkouts and protests that may shake the lawmakers’ resolve to approve the rest of the measures, expected to come to a vote next month, after the property tax was backed by parliament on Tuesday, while police fired teargas at protesters outside..

Taxi owners who oppose the liberalization of their trade continued a 48-hour strike on Thursday. Hospital workers protesting at cuts walked off the job for three hours. Trade union ADEDY, which represents the country’s 730,000 civil servants, called a rally and said it would march on parliament.

($1 = 0.735 Euros)

(Additional reporting by Angeliki Koutantou, Renee Maltezou and Deborah Kyvrikosaios; Writing by Ingrid Melander and George Georgiopoulos; Editing by Paul Taylor)


Package Holidays Retailer Aims To Beat Market Increases For 2012

Online package holidays retailer Packyourbags.com announces its aim to be one of the cheapest places to buy 2012 summer holidays.

Tunbridge Wells, Kent (PRWEB) September 29, 2011

It has recently been announced by TUI Travel Plc, owners of Thomson Holidays and First Choice, that their holidaymakers will pay more next year as the company passes on rising costs.

As per TUI Travel’s latest trading report, average selling prices for summer 2012 holidays are currently up 10% because of the rising costs of fuel and accommodation.

With many UK tour operators reducing their overall capacity due to the general economic climate, as well as the political unrest in North Africa and beyond, trading is proving to be even more of a challenge.

However, Packyourbags.com is determined to beat market rates and offer UK consumers a place to buy cheap 2012 summer holidays.

Packyourbags.com Managing Director Mark Kempster commented, “The advantage of booking through Packyourbags.com is our ability to dynamically package holidays at the cheapest prices. Using our advanced booking systems means we can identify and package together the cheapest flights and hotels to any destination of interest, creating the most competitively priced packages in the market for UK consumers to book online”.

Kempster continued, “Our aim for 2012 is to beat the market rates in most instances. In addition, customers can have peace of mind Packyourbags.com is a fully licensed and bonded member of ABTA, ATOL IATA”.

To give some price comparisons, booking a 7 night, 3* all inclusive holiday to Turkey in May 2012 is £202 per person compared with £218 per person earlier this year.

A 7 night holiday departing 05th July 2012, staying at the 5* Costa Adeje Gran Hotel in Costa Adeje, Tenerife is £463 per person, whereas the same holiday this year cost £495 per person.

Packyourbags.com is also a great resource for consumers looking for great deals on last minute holidays. Customers can perform one simple search and the Packyourbags.com site instantly checks and compares the best deals with all major holiday suppliers to the Med. The site has thousands of deals for Spain holidays, cheap holidays to Turkey, Portugal, Italy, Greece and many more.

For the latest offers visit Packyourbags.com or call 0800 652 5986.

###

Lucy Watt
Packyourbags.com
0800 652 5986
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