Travellers hunt for bargains in debt-ridden European countries

By
Valentina Jovanovski

Last updated at 12:30 PM on 10th October 2011

Bargain-hunting holidaymakers are shopping for deals in European destinations hit by the financial crisis, according to a new report.

While Greece, Italy, Ireland, Portugal and Spain are experiencing record economic woes, their tourism industries are feeling a boom.

Hotels.com reported an 85 per cent rise in searches for hotels in Spain during the June to September holiday season, compared to the same period last year.

Woman looking for holiday deals

Budget-conscious: Cash-strapped countries may offer holiday deals

Searches for hotels in Portugal increased by 80 per cent. Greece, Italy and Ireland also experienced increases by 78 per cent, 72 per cent and 50 per cent respectively.

The capitals of these debt-ridden countries saw significant surges, with Madrid leading the pack with a 67 per cent increase.

It seems that savvy UK travellers are shopping around and targeting those destinations affected by the euro crisis in the hope of bagging a bargain.

A spokeswoman for Hotels.com said: ‘There are undoubtedly some good deals on hotel rooms at the moment and this applies to the eurozone as much as anywhere else.

‘Hoteliers in some of the affected
countries have cut their room rates to attract visitors because demand
has slumped as domestic consumers tighten their belts.’

Protestors are pictured rioting in Greece

Backlash: New protests in Greece have led to cancelled flights

The bargains may come at a cost though, as the backlash from public-sector workers reacting to austerity measures has led to havoc for some services in these countries.

This week, a public transport strike in Athens against government austerity plans is triggering traffic delays in Athens.

This is the latest in a series of strikes to hit the economically-challenged country, including a 24-hour national strike last Thursday that saw flights grounded and people rioting in the streets of the capital.

British Airways, easyJet and Ryanair cancelled flights, while tourist sites were closed and trains and ferries were halted.

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Travel: Is it best to go it alone or follow the group?

You’ve decided to take that trip to Spain that has long topped your “to-do” list. Or maybe you’ve finally decided that it’s time to tour the emerald hills of Ireland or visit the Great Wall of China.

You’re ready for your dream vacation. But before you pack your suitcases and make your lodging reservations, you have to make a decision: Should you travel by yourself or visit your dream destination as part of a group tour?

Ronen Paldi, president of Ya’lla Tours USA, a travel agency based in Portland, Ore., that arranges trips to Jordan, Egypt, Greece, Turkey, Israel, Morocco and Cuba, said travelers should consider their budgets, personalities and expectations for their trip when making this decision.

“Is the budget limited? Are they more social or introverted? Do they prefer independence and flexibility or community and structure?” Paldi asked.

Sharing expenses, memories

Your answers to these questions can determine whether it’s best for you to travel only with family members and friends or whether you’d have a better trip traveling with a large group. For instance, if you consider yourself an introvert, you might do better traveling only with people you know. If, on the other hand, you enjoy meeting new people, along with traveling to new places, a group tour might best fit your personality.

Budget is important, too. Paldi says that one of the main benefits of traveling through a group tour is the price. Group travel tends to cost less than does privately guided travel for couples or even a small party of tourists.

Traveling with a group of people who share similar experiences – such as on a Christian tour, senior citizens’ tour or ev­­en a tour that guides you and a group of like-minded individuals to sites mentioned in Sherlock Holmes’ stories — brings its own benefits, Paldi said. If you travel with a group connected to a particular religion, you might get more out of the experience of visiting holy sites as you watch the reactions of your fellow travelers.

Being spontaneous
Traveling in smaller groups made up of family members and friends, though, comes with its own benefits, Paldi says. Chief among them is flexibility.

“One or two people traveling together have much greater flexibility,” Paldi said. “Getting from place to place is easier, and they are better able to interact with their guide, to have a more local, less ‘touristy’ experience.”

Whichever choice you make, though, the key to enjoying a vacation is to truly immerse yourself in a new location’s customers, rhythms and sights, Paldi said.

This can sometimes mean deviating from your carefully planned itinerary once you arrive at your destination. Approaching travel in this way can even result in new memories for the most seasoned of travelers.

“I especially enjoy seeing how different people respond to the sites and experiences of exciting or meaningful new places,” Paldi said. “It’s moving to watch a group of people as they get their first glimpse of the pyramids or visit holy places. When traveling alone or as a couple, I like to wander aimlessly with little regard to an itinerary.”


Former ECB Member Weber Sees ‘Managed’ Restructuring For Greece

–Former member of ECB’s governing council says policymakers should engineer a ‘Brady Bond’ solution for Greece

–Such a plan would effectively give bondholders new debt but ‘without too much of a haircut,’ he said

–Weber says bond buying exposes central banks to political meddling

(Adds Slovakia vote outcome in final paragraph.)

PHILADELPHIA (Dow Jones)–The former head of Germany’s central bank said Thursday that Europe should allow for a “managed” restructuring process that involves exchanging Greece’s distressed debt for newer, longer-dated paper that would force Greek bondholders to take a comparatively modest write-down.

Axel Weber, who was president of the Bundesbank …