2012 is already turning out to be a rollercoaster of a year in the world of travel, and it’s only the start of February. We’ve hand-picked five noteworty happenings so far…
1) Dominating the front pages in January was the Costa Concordia tragedy. The liner ran aground and capsized off the island of Giglio with 4,200 passengers on board on 13 January. However, the media haven’t tired of this story yet, with much controversy still surrounding the Captain, Costa Cruises offering passengers from the stricken ship around £9,200 in compensation and a death toll still to be confirmed. Environmental concerns raised, the removal of the ship could take between seven to 10 months.
2) On a more positive note is the lucrative gap year market. There has been a 35% increase in students booking gap year experiences and a 28% increase in demand for ‘mini gap’ trips or ‘snap years’ according to youth tour operator STA Travel. The gap year industry is thought to be worth £1.3 billion. Also seizing this ‘gap’ in the market, is adventure travel specialist, Explore, who has launched a new brand – Edge – catering for the 18-30 adventure travel market. Its 75 small group trips offer itineraries in over 40 countries. www.edgeadventures.com
3) Late January was set to see the gloom lift at UK travel agencies with early booking discounts and the urge to escape post-Xmas blues boosting bookings. ABTA estimated that between 15-21 January, 2m people would book a break ‘as the best possible pick-me-up’…Time will tell to see if this rang true and if the trend will continue. Let’s hope so. Read more
4) Aviation continues to be a hard hit sector. Its inclusion within the EU Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) began on January 1st. A number of countries – including the US, China, Japan, Brazil, India and Russia – voiced concerns about the scheme, and Europe’s largest carrier by revenue, Lufthansa, has expressed concerns that ‘retaliatory measures’ could damage the European aviation industry. There is no sign that the EU will reverse its decision.
5) Finally, whilst passengers will not yet be fastening their seatbelts for a landing at ‘Boris Island’ Airport, Heathrow has announced an Olympic record – Monday 13 August will be the busiest day the airport has ever seen with 138,000 passengers, 45% more than usual. This is the day after the Games’ closing ceremony. Travel guru Simon Calder questions the figures unveiled here….