A rising demand for volcano-proof holidays?

Eruption Volcano Eyjafjallajökull - Roadblock April 17 2010 - Live Webcam links below - Live Webcam - Веб - камера - kamery - ウェブカメラ -    攝像頭20 days of British Airways strikes are about to get under way. Even before this disruption, Eyjafjallajökull has reared its ugly head again and shut down much of UK airspace, along with a fair chunk of the skies of western Europe. Air travel has never been so fraught with uncertainty, even at the height of the terrorist alerts. With the ash cloud set to result in many more no-fly zones in the coming months, many people are wondering about the wisdom of making concrete holiday plans.

I’ve spoken to several people in the last couple of weeks who have decided against booking their summer holiday so far. How can they book two weeks away they say, when they might not be able to get away on their break? Those who run their own businesses are far more concerned about being stuck overseas and not being able to get back to work. The talk soon switches to Cornwall, Scotland and France as possible alternatives, taken in the family car and not susceptible to the whims of a temperamental Icelandic mountain.

British people will continue to take their holidays. Attitude surveys constantly show that people consider their holiday to be a necessity rather than a disposable luxury. The money spent on hotel nights, activities and the vast quantities of food and drink that are consumed on a typical holiday will still be spent. The question is whether it will be spent basking in the Mediterranean sun and beyond, or whether people indulge in their annual break within driving distance of the UK.

This must be a tough time for tour operators and travel agents. The industry has never operated on particularly healthy profit margins and has relied more than most on good cashflow management for its success. With the growing reluctance to plan ahead that is likely to come from this continuing disruption, how many will be able to switch their businesses to provide volcano-proof holidays?

It will be interesting to see how the travel industry copes with this challenge. The next month is likely to bring a budget that will reveal the full extent of the tax rises and spending cuts that the politicians were too afraid to share with us while they were scrapping for our votes. Throw in another ash cloud and an ongoing airline strike, and the travel plans of much of our population could well undergo the most dramatic shift for many years.

Will this finally give a boost to UK regional tourism? There is so much to see in our own country, and perhaps the certainty on offer with a UK break will prove more appealing than ever before. This is certainly the time for the many different UK tourist boards to earn their crust and get the message of what they can offer in front of the millions who are yet to decide on their holiday plans.

All we need now is a decent summer…

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18 Responses to “A rising demand for volcano-proof holidays?”

  1. Scotland is a great alternative to any holiday in Europe. It has wild scenery, great food, a 1001 things to do from skiing to surfing, wonderful historic buildings and a number of festivals. The Cairngorms national park is wild and beautiful and the surrounding area has a very pleasant climate, (the same rainfall as Kent). All in all a great place to visit. So throw away your sun screen and protect the environment and get on the train and come to Scotland.

    May 17, 2010 at 10:10 am Reply
  2. I run Loco2, a low carbon travel website that features lots of overland journeys, including hundreds of train trips in Europe. We’ve got a journey-planning tool that showcases specific itineraries to hundreds of cities:


    And if you see a journey that’s not there then just get in touch and we’ll add it.

    Regardless of the volcano, we think that travelling overland is a great way to see the world…

    May 17, 2010 at 11:20 am Reply
  3. great post .. as always;)

    May 17, 2010 at 11:48 am Reply
  4. The argument for holidaying locally grows. The recession saw more people than ever holidaying with us in Devon and Cornwall. Not only do our customers save money, families with young children find it far less stressful to bring the clan down here with a car load of stuff than cram suitcases and negotiate hectic airports and flights. They also tend to feel more secure and less concerned about dangerous sun, language barriers and unknown territories. Dog owners love being able to bring their pooches on holiday with them too and recently there’s been a spate of celebs spotted vacating in the area suggesting there are far greater reasons than money to vist the South West. Personally, I’ve travelled extensively and, still, I’m consistently blown away by beauty available to people visiting the area.

    May 17, 2010 at 12:20 pm Reply
  5. Thanks for the suggestions of different parts of the UK and Europe as volcano-proof destinations. The UK is packed with amazing places, great food and a wide range of activities. The near continent too has much to offer and is a short hop across by ferry/Eurotunnel. And as Jamie’s site shows, you can easy make an itinerary to visit southern Europe and tie it into a whole adventure by rail.
    This ash cloud business is opening up a whole range of opportunities to new businesses; let’s see who’s able to best take advantage.

    May 17, 2010 at 12:42 pm Reply
  6. As ever, Andy, bang on blogging :)

    I just blogged this morning about the positive side of all this – because as you’ve suggested, there is one!

    “Part of me feels awful for those people hoping to get away for a much-needed break and having their plans kiboshed by an unstoppable force of nature but… in the face of challenge and adversity, we often become creative. If the ash cloud opens up one opportunity for us, it’s to think a little bit outside the box when it comes to our next trip.”

    For me that’s the case – I’m currently loving planning where to go jollying this summer, the possibilities are endless. The new http://www.101honeymoons.co.uk site launched today, and although I’m not getting married (I don’t think…) it is fab for inspiration!

    So I do think you’re absolutely right – tough times for the industry and tough times for consumers – but flipping this on its head, as we always enjoy doing, the game just got all the more exciting in my view

    May 17, 2010 at 2:14 pm Reply
  7. Thought provoking article, it will definitely be interesting to see what effect this has on tourism here in the UK. As others have commented however, it is not as hard as many people think to travel Europe without flying.

    Last month my wife and I spent a fortnight in Spain without flying. We actually got a lot more out of our trip because we broke the journey for a day in Paris on the way out (http://www.headingthere.co.uk/Blog/?p=303 – I hope you don’t mind the shameless plug of my blog from Paris!)

    On the way back we took a night train from Barcelona to Paris so we arrived fairly early in the morning so we had plenty of time to get the Eurostar home that day. As this goes on I think more and more people will start to realise how easy European rail travel actually is.

    May 17, 2010 at 3:00 pm Reply
  8. Tom #

    Booked up three trips last week. two to the french alps one to Morroco. If only I had read this first! Please keep your fingers crossed

    May 17, 2010 at 3:08 pm Reply
  9. Tom, all is not lost! Both destinations easily accessible overland/sea, making for more of an adventure in the off-chance you can’t fly

    And believe me, once you’ve had that adventure you’ll be a changed traveller :)

    (Tip, if you do go by train, pay the extra to do some legs in first class: relatively cheap, massively worth it for the lounges/free drinks/customer service on long journeys)

    May 17, 2010 at 3:23 pm Reply
  10. Tom #

    Many thanks Sally – will keep that as a back up…running in Alps so would not want to miss it for the world. and 1st class with extra leg room after running could be very useful for tired limbs coming back not to mention free drinks. Do you do lots of long train trips? Any advice Andy?

    May 17, 2010 at 3:29 pm Reply
  11. I am a big fan of European train travel, and agree with Sally that upgrading is often well worth the extra €€. We travelled from Gibraltar to London two years ago in four days. It was a wonderful trip, and we upgraded for the night trains from Granada to Barcelona and again from Barcelona to Paris. On the latter train we had our own shower and toilet and a fantastic evening meal included. Living in the UK the only danger of travelling by train in Europe is that we realise just how poor our own rail service is!
    Tom, the good thing is, you can always run home if you get stuck!

    May 17, 2010 at 3:42 pm Reply
  12. No probs Tom :) (and liking Andy’s comment about running home – excellent point!)

    Depends which operator you’re using, but on the whole rail travel across the areas you’re visiting is fantastic – punctual, spacious and with great customer service. Other than the price tag sometimes getting in the way, there really is no other way to travel.

    That said, what you pay for the ticket you almost always make up for in being able to take your own food and drink; no luggage restrictions; travelling back and forth from out of town airports, as trains deliver you straight there; time avoided going through security (you’re through Eurostar check in and on the train in 10 mins)… and various other things

    Also, based on the frequency of your trips I’d recommend getting a rail pass as will almost certainly work out cheaper.

    I’ve done quite a few trips across Europe from the UK to Ireland/Eastern Switzerland/Bavaria/Southern France/Belgium and always,always fantastic, even when there’s bad weather, strikes and other catastrophes.

    Hope that helps!

    May 17, 2010 at 4:18 pm Reply
  13. Excellent point Sally and Andy regarding paying a little more to upgrade the ticket. I suspect we used the same service between Barcelona and Paris that you did Andy but with the cheapest tickets we could get. The downside of the cheaper ticket was turning up in the UK pretty smelly having not had a shower in our carriage!

    May 17, 2010 at 4:26 pm Reply
  14. The proverbial cloud with a silver lining. I know, bad joke. Kind of a mess when you add the rough economy and riots. But it looks like you all have options well under control. Interesting post.

    May 18, 2010 at 12:10 am Reply
  15. When air travel is not possible, local travel is definitely the best choice!

    May 18, 2010 at 10:46 am Reply
  16. Great post, wrote about the same topic not that long ago : http://letsdosomethingdifferent.wordpress.com/2010/04/20/air-travel-chaos-or-opportunity/

    I truly believe there is no need for air travel for holiday purposes if you live the the UK (or most places really) and that perhaps these kind of events are finally going to start changing the mindset back to the way it was before the days of super-cheap airfares.

    Jamie, your website is brilliant! Definitely linking that on my blog and telling people about it!

    May 19, 2010 at 9:37 pm Reply
  17. Great article, I agree but would also add Wales a list of one of the most popular alternatives :)

    May 31, 2010 at 12:16 pm Reply


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