Wednesday, 22 April 2009

Sri Lanka in style

Lying some thirty kilometres off the coast of southern India, Sri Lanka is an island bursting with life, colour and energy, steeped in history and full of temples and ancient sculpture. So if you want to get there quickly you will be pleased to know that SriLankan Airlines are the only scheduled airline flying a direct route from London Heathrow to both Sri Lanka and the Maldives.

You may also be pleased to learn that while spending that time in the air you won’t feel cramped, because the A340, A330 and A320 aircraft are fitted with superbly luxurious spacious seats where you will be able to stretch out and certainly feel like your holiday has started. You won’t be bored in-flight either because the aircraft have the latest in-flight entertainment with eighteen video channels, seat-back television, twenty-two audio channels and sixteen video games in all seats. One of the video channels is Air Show, a cabin video information system that gives flight-related information and a view of where the aircraft is flying using forward and downward cameras, so you can see where you are going right from your seat. Business Class passengers will even have an on-demand movie library with over 30 titles on request.

And when you arrive in Sri Lanka you can luxuriate on white sandy beaches, enjoy the beauty of the lush greenery, marvel at the biodiversity of the island, explore ancient sites and temples, experience traditional dance, appreciate beautiful arts and crafts, get your health into shape with ayurvedic treatments, and generally enjoy a well-deserved holiday on an island that has so much to offer.

Monday, 20 April 2009

It's bargain time for long-haul

Having been on more long-haul flights between the UK and Japan than I can either remember or care to remember, I’ve always said that if I go back to Japan I’ll try the Trans-Siberian Railway. But an article by Isabel Choat in The Guardian, Time to Pack Your Sarong, caused me to think again. It seems like now is the time to book a long-haul flight to that destination you’ve always been dreaming of, as the major tour operators are reporting that long-haul flights and holidays have dropped dramatically.

At the moment you can pick up return flights to Australia for just under £500, whereas last year it would have been nearer a whopping thousand quid. You can get a return fare to New York for around £200, a return to Bangkok for about £360, and a return to Johannesburg will only cost you something in the region of £500.

It seems like the recession has caused people to cut back on things like long-haul travel, with the result that, supply and demand being what they are, prices have really fallen.

Likewise, now is the time to grab that long-haul package deal, so if you have been thinking about a beach holiday in Goa, or on a sunny Thai island, then now could be just the right time to venture a little further afield. With holidaymakers from the UK avoiding countries that use the euro, you might find that that a longer journey will take you somewhere where your money will go a lot further, with prices in a lot of long-haul destinations such as India and Thailand being significantly cheaper than prices in the UK. There are many faraway destinations where you will find that your pound will really go a long way, not just in terms of eating out and nightlife, but also in terms of clothing, souvenirs and other great bargains. Frequently with long haul, the main cost of the trip goes on the flight, with costs when you are actually there being remarkably low.

So if you can afford an escape at the moment, going long-haul can turn up some great deals.

Wednesday, 15 April 2009

Let's hear it for the package holiday!

few years ago a lot of travel pundits wondered if the package holiday was finally on the way out. With the advent of sites that allow you to book hotels directly yourself online, and the arrival of low cost flights with companies such as Ryanair and Easyjet it looked as if the death knell was finally being rung for the humble package holiday, which always had been badly maligned in some quarters. But it looks like the recent economic downturn has put the package holiday firmly back on the agenda, with adventure holidays and independent travel in a bit of a decline since the credit crunch.

In particular, the high street travel agents are reporting an increase in bookings for all-inclusive packages. Once thought to be a bit of a luxury, people are now catching onto the idea that an all-inclusive break has the benefit of fixing much of your costs in advance, making it much easier to stay within budget. Conversely, there has been a fall in demand for self catering holidays as the supermarkets in the resorts are proving to be a tad on the expensive side for British holidaymakers due to the falling pound. The sudden demand for all inclusive deals goes part of the way to explaining why the demand for cruises has remained steady despite the downturn.

Also, a reason why holidaymakers may be returning in force to the attractions of the package holiday is the financial security that it offers. If you buy a package holiday you are covered in the event of failure, such as XL of last October. If you book a flight directly you are not, as many Zoom customers found to their cost.

UK travellers are now less inclined to visit countries using the euro, such as Spain, Portugal and Greece, and are now more likely to visit countries such as Turkey and Egypt, where the pound will go further. Last year ABTA reported that bookings to Turkey were up by 32 per cent, and to Egypt were up by 38 per cent. Tour operators report a similar trend again this year.

But today’s package holiday tourist is perhaps a more savvy traveller than package holidaymakers of the bygone era of the sixties and seventies, as epitomised in “Carry On Abroad”, (1972). Today the internet has led to a much better informed travelling public who are no longer relying on brochures, their high street travel agent, or library books to inform them about where they are going. Travellers can now get up-to-the minute information online, with sites such as Trip Advisor and Holidays Uncovered giving people far more informed choices about the resorts, hotels, and what to expect.

So if you are considering jet-setting off this summer, a package holiday could be just the ticket.