Britons ditch 'staycation' as rain sends them in search of sunnier climes

The Association of British Travel Agents (ABTA) reports that up to 13 million
Britons will be heading abroad this July and August, with 90 per cent of
those heading to traditional Mediterranean destinations.

British holidaymakers are also benefiting from cheaper prices due to the
eurozone troubles and a strong pound which has increased in value by 10 per
cent against the Euro in the last 12 months.

Victoria Bacon, head of communication at ABTA, said: “The UK is a beautiful
place with exceptional holiday appeal but the weather this year has been
setting records for all the wrong reasons and it is no surprise that
millions of us are looking to head off overseas for more reliable weather
and high temperatures.”

Fears of flooding at historic sites around the country have also kept many
visitors at bay.

David Dawson from the Landmark Trust said some of their sites in Tewkesbury,
Gloucestershire, and Northumberland have seen the worst of the weather.

“Flooding is not something you would expect to have to worry about during the
summer period,“ he said. “People seem to be leaving it longer before booking
– waiting to see what the weather is like before committing.”

British hotels, resorts and campsites are cutting up to 50 per cent off their
high-season prices in an attempt to encourage people to stay and brave the
storms.

One holiday park in the Lake District is even offering guests an extra free
night’s stay for every day of their holiday when the rainfall exceeds the
daily average for the month.

Holiday park owners had accused BBC weather forecasters of frightening
visitors away from British seaside resorts, claiming they are issuing
“deliberately pessimistic” warnings.

They said it is having a serious effect on the trade as holidaymakers choose
to travel abroad where they are assured of higher temperatures and constant
daytime sun.

Claire Jeavons, who runs the Beverley Park holiday site in Paignton, Devon,
said: “We have had a great start to the season but the bad weather the whole
country is getting, along with the downbeat reporting of the bad weather,
has had a negative effect on bookings for June and July.

“We are already competing with the poor economy and to have doom and gloom
with the weather too, could be catastrophic.”

Sarah Long, spokesman for VisitEngland, said: “Clearly the weather does
influence holiday-making decisions in this country — but we must remember
that unpredictable summers are now predictable. The trend to make last
minute bookings is still strong so people can decide on the day if they want
to do a day-trip or take a short break.”


Travel Guru Leon Logothetis Starts ‘Ultimate Daycation,’ First Stop: Mykonos





In a special story for the LA Times, travel extraordinaire Leon Logothetis announced the premiere of his video series “Ultimate Daycation,” which will run new episodes on the online site’s travel blog Wednesdays and Fridays for the next 10 weeks.

The show features Logothetis spending each day in Mykonos as any vacationer should, beginning with one sunrise and ending with the next sunrise. He offers tips and ways to enhance a traveler’s visit to the scenic island on a day-to-day basis. In his description of the show, Logothetis says it “is all about the joys of travel and living fully…You may not be able to join me on this adventure, but that doesn’t mean you can’t take a little mental vacation by watching the videos. And maybe, just maybe, they’ll inspire your next vacation, wherever it may be.”

To watch Logothetis’ videos and follow his “Ultimate Daycation” experience, check out the LA Times travel blog – http://www.latimes.com/travel/deals/


Most Greeks want new govt to renegotiate bailout: poll


ATHENS |
Sat Jul 14, 2012 3:13pm EDT

ATHENS (Reuters) – Most Greeks want the government to renegotiate the terms of its EU/IMF bailout regardless of the impact this stance would have on the country’s future in the euro zone, a poll showed on Saturday.

Greece is dependent on the funds from Brussels and the IMF for day to day state spending but in exchange for a second, 130 billion-euro bailout it is implementing spending cuts that have pushed it into its worst recession since World War Two and put one in five out of work.

An MRB poll for Sunday’s Realnews showed that 73.9 percent of Greeks want the new coalition government to stick to its promises and demand a renegotiation of the bailout, even if this puts the country’s euro membership at risk.

More than half of those polled said they believed Greece would stay in the euro zone, while 60.4 percent said international lenders would probably give Greece more time to implement the deficit-cutting measures they have prescribed or ease the terms of the bailout.

Greece’s new finance minister, Yannis Stournaras, met his euro zone counterparts last Monday in Brussels and promised to meet the terms of the existing financial rescue.

Athens has conceded that it has fallen behind agreed targets and some euro zone officials have warned the country will get no further aid until it gets back on track with reforms. European officials, however, have also said the money will be found to keep Greece going until after inspectors revisit Athens later this month.

In another poll by Kapa Research for To Vima newspaper, a majority of Greeks said the government should immediately renegotiate the bailout, while more than 90 percent said they opposed any further tax hikes or wage cuts.

The polls are among the first published since a re-run election on June 17, which gave the conservatives a slight lead over the radical leftist SYRIZA party that opposes the bailout. Both surveys showed conservative New Democracy leading again if elections were held now.

INSPECTION

After a short initial visit to Athens to meet government officials, a mission of European and IMF officials will return on July 24 for more formal talks on Greece’s faltering progress in hitting its targets, before deciding whether to disburse more aid.

Greece is expected to spell out measures worth 11.7 billion euros for 2013-2014 this week. The new government has said it will try to reverse or replace some of the budget cuts and reforms agreed in March as part of the country’s second bailout.

Prime Minister Antonis Samaras’ coalition government initially outlined an ambitious wishlist of changes to modify the country’s latest bailout program but has struck a more conciliatory tone in recent days as it faces the prospect of running out of money without more aid.

Samaras’ government got off to a rocky start with three ministers resigning in as many weeks and internal rifts have emerged over the coalition’s stance on the bailout.

At the Eurogroup meeting last Monday, finance minister Yannis Stournaras did not present his government’s request for another two years to meet deficit targets saying that would be done only when reform plans are back on track.

Instead, the government plans to implement 3 billion euros worth of previously-agreed measures to reduce its deficit this year, with European partners insisting that Greece should carry out its promises despite a deeper-than-expected recession and delays due to repeat elections.

“We are doing everything we can to meet the targets,” deputy finance minister Christos Staikouras told Sunday’s Ethnos newspaper. “Given the current circumstances, we won’t need to take any extra measures this year.”

(Reporting by Renee Maltezou; editing by Patrick Graham)


Seven-pronged plan to bolster tourism




By Stathis Kousounis

The Ministry of Tourism has drafted a seven-point plan to be implemented within 10 weeks with the aim of reversing the negative climate in Greece’s biggest industry.

According to Minister Olga Kefaloyianni, the plan provides for the promotion of Greece as a destination in top-priority traditional markets such as Germany, Britain and Scandinavia, as well as in Russia and China, where there is a fast-growing interest in foreign travel, and North America.

It includes the establishment of a crisis management committee which will start working without delay to improve the country’s image in international markets. A new marketing company, already planned to be jointly formed through a public-private partnership, will be created immediately.

The ministry will also move ahead with the acceleration and simplification of visa issuing and attempt to iron out some issues related to travel within the Schengen zone.

A structural reorganization of the ministry and the Greek National Tourism Organization will follow, while various programs which to date had been handled by other ministries, such as the state-subsidized ”social tourism” programs that have already begun operating, will now be brought together under the umbrella of the Tourism Ministry.

Achieving an industrial peace agreement is among the ministry’s top priorities. The minister has expressed her intention to establish a good-faith moratorium regarding industrial action and reach a deal for cooperation among political parties, employer associations and worker unions as well as other tourism associations in a bid to avert extraordinary situations and repeated uncontrolled strike action that undermines tourism during the peak summer months.

Kefaloyianni has announced that in the coming months her ministry will table an omnibus bill in Parliament aimed at solving perennial problems in the sector. She also intends to secure resources from the European Union-funded National Strategic Reference Framework to establish training programs for unemployed hotel staff during the off-season.

Besides the abovementioned seven points, the ministry’s long-term planning provides for initiatives such as the revision of the zoning plan for tourism, the drafting of a new investment incentives law for the sector, the creation of a strategy for air transport and the upgrading of tourism education.