Category Archives: news

EU Strikes Blow For Passenger Rights

The European Court of Justice struck a big blow for passenger rights last week as it passed down a landmark ruling against KLM airlines. A move which will now ensure that travelers delayed by technical issues on flights in the EU are correctly compensated in accordance with EU regulation 261 which governs the relationship between commercial airlines and their customers.

Until last week’s ruling, which revolved around a case brought by a passenger who suffered a 29 hour delay on a KLM flight from Quito in Ecuador to Amsterdam in 2009, many airlines were dragging their feet on making compensation payments to passengers who had lawfully made claims in accordance with their existing rights after their flights were delayed by technical issues.

Now however the airlines can only refuse compensation when a flight is delayed by three hours or more if it has been caused by bad weather, air traffic control or strike action. Which means that recalcitrant flight operators such as Ryanair, Thomas Cook and Jet2 will be obliged to fork out for existing claims or face enforcement action in the UK from the Civil Aviation Authority.

Passengers whose flights are delayed by more than three hours by technical issues are entitled to up to €600 in compensation, depending on circumstances. So it certainly pays to know your rights before heading to the airport just in case you encounter any problems or issues.

The EU’s website offers more detailed information about passenger rights and compensation claims.

Tourists Flocking To The Canaries

Although there are still three months remaining of 2014, it seems that tourist visitor numbers to the Canary Islands and Lanzarote in particular are set to exceed figures for the last few years. With the most easterly island in the archipelago already having received more than 1.5 million tourists between January and September this year.

Ryanair, Lanzarote
Ryanair Boosting Tourism In The Canaries

Much of this growth is down to rapid expansion in new markets, such as Finland, Poland and France. Countries which in the past have contributed only a tiny proportion of the annual total of holidaymakers. Some of these gains will be attributable to the addition of new routes by budget airlines such as Ryanair.

Other reasons why the islands are enjoying such a resurgence probably owe more to their relative isolation from other parts of Europe, Africa and beyond, with their physical location in the Atlantic providing the perfect barrier to socio-political difficulties that are currently hampering countries such as Egypt and Turkey. Recent negative publicity regarding poor hotel hygiene in resorts in Bulgaria will do little to boost tourism in Eastern Europe as well.

Poland’s sudden emergence as a growing tourist market may owe much to the fortunes of its residents having improved so much during the last fifteen years. Since freedom of movement within the EU was introduced for many Baltic States in 2004, Polish workers have found their way to many European countries where pay is significantly better than at home. With the result that a decade later, there is clearly a strong demand for foreign holidays in warmer climes.

And while the figures themselves are still comparatively low, with only 22,826 Polish visitors so far this year, the increase represents growth of nearly 42% (41.97%) compared with 2013. The quantity of French visitors is far greater, with over 63,000 holidaymakers arriving on the island from France. Statistically, this is an increase of 67.2%, with the annual total for 2013 of 58,864 already well exceeded.

Amongst the Finns, although only 12,740 have so far flown over for a holiday on Lanzarote, this total represents a healthy rise of 85.5%, meaning that they may be on course to try and catch up with their Scandinavian neighbours in Norway and Sweden who already have a long history of choosing to holiday in the Canary Islands.

The perennially strong British market also shows no signs of slowing down, with 852,119 tourists arriving from the UK during the first nine months of the year, which is only 107,000 less than the total for 2013. This rise is probably more a reflection of economic improvements, allowing greater numbers of people to take a holiday again after several years of austerity.

 

 

Battle Of The Sunbeds Hots Up

Who are the biggest hoggers of sunbeds and loungers in Spain´s holiday resorts? Quiz your average Brit and the response is likely to be unequivocal, with the Germans widely regarded as the most avaricious space invaders when it comes to annexing additional lebensraum for their families by the pool side.

Summer Sun Lounger War
Summer Sun Lounger War

However now Germany´s leading tabloid newspaper Bild, has weighed into the fray, claiming that British tourists are in fact the main culprits!

The latest front in this annual ritual of the summer sunbed wars was opened by Bild in conjunction with the German tour operator, Urlaubstours. Who together monitored the towel reserving antics of various nationalities at a hotel in Lloret de Mar on Spain´s Costa Brava.

This highly scientific study examined the number of sun loungers reserved around the hotel pool by the traditional tactic of towel placement between the hours of 7.30am and 9.30am. According to Bild´s highly trained investigators, British holidaymakers were the worst culprits, far outnumbering the Germans! However in their defence British tourists when challenged refused to throw in the towel, claiming instead that they had no choice, as there simply weren´t enough sunbeds around the hotel pool to go round.

Much like The Sun newspaper in the UK, Bild delights in poking fun at their old enemies in Britain, offering resorting to war related themes and puns. The tabloid also recently suggesting that British tourists suffer from ´Prince Harry Syndrome´ – a ´condition´ that manifests itself in extreme and anti-social forms of behaviour such as nudity and drunkenness!

Indeed German tourists seem to be about as keen on the Brits as we are on them, with another recent survey there concluding that the bulk of UK holidaymakers are drunk, fat and covered in bad tattoos.
One way of course to avoid getting embroiled in this annual battle is to book your own villa with pool, so ensuring total privacy and obviating the need for such underhand tactics!

The Great British Summer Getaway

The school bells have sounded across the UK, signalling the end of term for kids across the country.  And despite the fact that the country is enjoying its best summer weather in years the annual exodus known as the Great British Getaway is now well and truly underway, as millions of tourists flock to airports across the country, sparking what are now almost routine scenes of chaos.

Queues, airport, UK
Aiport Chaos

July 25th – aka Black Friday – didn’t pass off without incident this year, as the end of term at schools in the UK sparked a mass dash to get away on holiday, with an estimated 2 million tourists passing through British airports this weekend.

And as you’d expect the system inevitably buckled under the pressure, resulting in nightmare delays at Manchester airport as the third busiest hub in the UK struggled to process over 320,000 passengers and a chronic luggage log jam at Gatwick, thanks to what were described as ‘resourcing issues’ with baggage handlers Swissport. Delays were also experienced across the UK road and rail network, making it an equally grim experience for those choosing to enjoy a staycation.

Passenger volumes were at their highest in the South East, as Heathrow, Gatwick, Luton and Stansted serviced a combined total of just under one million holidaymakers.

And where were they all headed? Well according to ABTA Spain is the number one destination this summer for British sun-seekers, followed by Greece and Turkey.

Beach, Spain

This would certainly seem to tally with figures recently released by the Spanish tourist authorities which reveal that the country’s tourist industry enjoyed a real boom in growth during the first half of 2014, particularly to key destinations such as the Canaries and Catalonia.

On Lanzarote for example, where we offer a great selection of villas and apartments for rent in the popular resort of Playa Blanca, passenger numbers have soared by over 15% versus the first half of last year as a total of 1,127,456 foreign tourists took a break on the island. British holidaymakers have been the real driving force behind this growth, accounting for 525,850 arrivals, whilst the Germans, Irish, Dutch and French markets account for 129,935, 99,112, 52,426 and 43,756 visitors respectively.

The local tourist authorities (with self-promoting predictability) have claimed that much of this increase can be attributed to initiatives such as Saborea Lanzarote – a project designed to promote the island as a gastronomic destination – and the positioning of Lanzatote as a sports destination.

But in reality the increases can be more accurately attributed to the greater availability of lower cost flights and new budget services from key metropolitan areas, such as Paris, which have helped to make Lanzarote more accessible and affordable.

EU Firms Up Air Passenger Rights

While everybody looks forward to going on holiday, there are elements of travelling abroad that can be stressful. Amongst the things most likely to cause anxiety and stress, long flight delays and cancellations are high on the list of situations we would most like to avoid.

Flight delays

Which is why the recent decision by the European Community to impose a compensation structure on these kind of events will go some way to make up for occasions where passengers have no control over the outcome. Although financial remuneration won’t alleviate the problem itself it does acknowledge the strain that individuals and families feel when faced with delays and other changes to their flight schedule.

Passenger Compensation

The way in which the compensation works is as follows:

Delays have to be over two hours in duration on short haul flights in order for the airline to be obliged to provide food and drink to waiting passengers. Should the delay extend overnight, they are also obliged to provide overnight accommodation, transport to and from such accommodation and two phone calls, faxes or emails.

On longer flights, the delay has to be of four hours or more duration before the airline is required to offer the same services. Monetary compensation is not automatically triggered by a delay alone, especially when the airline has been able to provide refreshments, food and other services.

However, where a flight has been cancelled or overbooked, financial compensation will normally be forthcoming. For flights cancelled more than two weeks before you are due to fly, there should be remuneration paid to passengers. If the flight is cancelled within two weeks of the flight date, and no alternative service is offered to you which will get you to your destination, even if by an alternative route, you are entitled to a payment.

If your flight has been overbooked and you cannot take the seat you have paid for, the airline will normally ask if any passengers will volunteer to accept compensation instead. If you are still unable to board the flight because of overbooking, you are entitled to compensation. The amount paid to passengers is determined by the distance of the flight, in both circumstances – cancellation and overbooking.

Should your flight be downgraded – in other words, changed from business to economy class – compensation is also paid, of between 30 and 75 percent of the ticket value and dependent on the flight distance.

Flights that travel up to 1,500 kilometres trigger a compensation payment of 200 Euros per person.

Flights of between 1,500 and 3,500 kilometres or over 1,500 within the European community will result in a payment of 400 Euros.

Flights of over 3,500 kilometres are compensated with 600 Euros.

Payments will be made either in cash, by bank transfer, by cheque or to a designated account. Both charter and package flights are covered by these rules and they apply to any flight beginning from an airport within the European Community.

If you have experienced a situation which you think entitles you to compensation, the first place to start in making a complaint is with the airline who sold you the ticket. If the matter is not resolved to your satisfaction, there are a number of bodies you can contact, including NI Direct Government Services, the European Consumer Centre and the British Air Transport Association.

Mallorca Property Prices Grow Faster Than London’s

If you thought recent price rises in the London property market were impressive then you’d best think again. As a small Spanish island in the Balearics is currently outpacing even the priciest boroughs in the British capital, such as Chelsea and Kensington, with property prices on Mallorca surging by nearly 16% in the last 12 months, according to international estate agents Chesterton Humberts.

Villa, Mallorca
Prices Rose By 16% Last Year

Britain’s capital city isn’t the only property hot spot in the world at the moment. As according to the Chesterton Humbert’s report other locations such as the Cote D’Azur, Barbados and Switzerland have also experienced serious price growth over the last year, with little Mallorca leading the way.

Just as the property market in London has been fuelled by investment from overseas the picture is much the same in Mallorca, with interest primarily coming from the German, Russian and Swiss markets – as well as from the UK. British buyers, buoyed by the recent improvement in the domestic economy, low interest rates and rising house prices in the UK, are now turning to overseas property as a viable investment once again, with Mallorca very much on their radar.

And whilst property prices across Spain as a whole have fallen since the onset of the crisis in 2007 certain pockets, such as the top end market in Mallorca have remained largely unaffected, driven by both rental investors and retirees. As a result prices on the island have now risen by 38% since 2007, whilst in the last 12 months the 16% rise in price has outstripped other markets, such as London. With the level of foreign investment estimated to have doubled over the last five years, now accounting for some 30% of all transactions on Ibiza and Mallorca during the course of 2013 alone. A figure reflected in the fact that over 18% of all residents of Mallorca are now of non-Spanish origin.

All of this of course makes very happy reading for the thousands of overseas owners of holiday rental properties in Mallorca, who not only enjoy excellent rental returns from their properties but also substantial capital growth.

Doctor Who Crash Lands On Lanzarote

Lanzarote’s volcanic vistas and landscapes have often been described as lunar and other worldly.  And the producers of the new series of the BBC TV classic Doctor Who most obviously agree  – as they have just finished shooting a new Time Lord tale on the island, making liberal use of the dramatic scenery in and around the Timanfaya Volcano Park, the island’s most popular visitor attraction.

Scene from the 1980's episode
Scene from the 1980’s episode

Lanzarote’s volcanic region occupies about one quarter of the island’s total land mass and was created by violent eruptions in the 1730’s.  Now in geological terms this means that the resulting landscapes are still virtually brand new and pristine, as erosion has had little chance to soften the twisted lava flows and dramatic shapes created by these fiery events.  All of which means that Lanzarote is in fact a real natural for the makers of futuristic or science fiction movies, as evidenced by the filming of classics such as One Million Years BC and Krull in years gone by.

Indeed, as ardent fans of the show will know this isn’t even the first time that the Doctor has visited the planet Sarn – which was Lanzarote’s ‘stage name’ in a previous episode, aptly entitled Planet of Fire Part One, that was filmed here way back in 1984, starring Peter Davison as the 5th Time Lord.

During this 80’s episode the Doctor travels with his faithful sidekick Turlough to investigate the source of a signal thought to be emanating from the planet Trion, which ultimately draws them to Sarn/Lanzarote.  And according to production sources on the show the Doctor is visiting the scene of this previous adventure once again, although there have apparently been some disturbing developments since his last visit (sounds familiar – perhaps they are referring to the slew of illegally built hotels in nearby Playa Blanca!).

Either way, the local tourist board are reportedly delighted with this latest publicity coup, not least as Doctor Who is a real favourite in the UK, which is the island´s largest tourist market.  The new episode will of course star Peter Capaldi, the latest Time Lord, along with sidekick Jenna Louise Coleman and is expected to be screened in late summer or early autumn.

Doctor Who is now in its eighth series and has been a regular favourite on British TV screens since 1964.  The show is also popular in Spain, where it is better known as Doctor Misterioso.

 

Lanzarote Tourist Boom Continues

Lanzarote’s growing popularity as a holiday destination shows no signs of abating any time soon.  As according to the latest data just released by AENA, the Spanish Airports Authority, foreign passenger numbers have soared by over 20% during the first four months of 2013 alone.

Ryanair, Lanzarote
Ryanair Has Boosted French Arrivals

Lanzarote welcomed over 2.1 million tourists last year, an impressive figure for such a relatively small island.  And this figure looks set to grow substantially again in 2014, as over 690,000 foreign tourists have already enjoyed a break here this year.

Where is this growth coming from?  Well, if expenditure on foreign holidays is any type of positive economic indicator then it is fair to say that the recovery in Britain is well and truly under way, as the UK, Lanzarote’s largest market, is sending over more tourists than ever before, accounting for 50% of all foreign arrivals.  An upswing that can also be attributed to the fact that there is now much more competition amongst the low cost carriers such as Ryanair and easyJet on the UK to Lanzarote route, which has helped to bring flight prices down substantially over the last couple of years.

This same factor is also driving growth in newer markets.  For example the French are now able to reach Lanzarote direct with Ryanair for the first time with prices from as little as 65 euros one way.  And as a result arrivals have boomed too, with France now rapidly establishing itself as Lanzarote’s fourth largest market after the UK, Germany and Eire.

April was the fourth consecutive month of double digit growth in passenger numbers flying to Lanzarote, as arrivals in January, February and March rose by 25%, 24% and 14% respectively.  And should this current rate of growth continue Lanzarote will break the 2.5million visitor barrier for the first time in 2014.

What’s It Worth? Cameron’s Million Pound Legacy For Lanzarote

In these celebrity obsessed times, what is the endorsement of a Prime Minister worth?  Well according to PR experts in the UK, David Cameron’s well documented spring break in Lanzarote generated some 1.2 million euros worth of free media coverage for the island.  But just how free was it exactly?  As to many long term residents this so called holiday was little more than a slick PR stunt, designed to generate column inches for both the island and the Cameron’s, whilst also depicting ‘just-call-me-Dave’ as a real down to earth kind of dude.

David Cameron, Arrieta, Lanzarote
Dave ´Chillaxes´at Arrieta

Business or pleasure Mr Cameron?  Well in truth it was a little bit of both.  As despite desperately trying to depict themselves as just an ordinary family in search of some Easter sun there can be little doubt that our Eton educated PM’s visit last month was also very carefully choreographed in close cahoots with the local tourist board.

Why so?  Well there was of course the now obligatory, man of the people arrival on a Ryanair flight, a publicity ruse perfected by Tony Blair and also often utilised by our ever so ordinary Royals.  And given David’s well recorded love of chillaxing he didn’t just flop out by the pool with the kids, as would be expected of any other 47 year old father at the not very secret location of Casa Tomaren, an exclusive and expensive rural retreat which specialises in yoga breaks.

As instead his hand-picked itinerary included photo opportunities in some of the island’s key locations, encompassing surfing with the kids at Famara, the most picturesque beach on the island, shopping at Teguise market – Lanzarote’s busiest weekly event and dining in Puerto del Carmen, Lanzarote’s largest tourist resort.  All of which suggests that the Cameron’s were hardly trying to get away from it all whilst also ensuring  a steady stream of daily coverage in both local and international media.

Well they say that there can be a sting in the tail – and there certainly is in this tale.  As on the penultimate day of his holiday the PM was stung on the arm by a jellyfish whilst swimming at Arrieta.  Some observers (well, one actually) claim that a column of male British tourists formed immediately , only too keen to help administer a well-known natural remedy.  Now that really would have made a great picture for the national press back home!

Mallorca Announces A ‘Bikini Ban’

If you’re planning to take a break in one of our villas in Mallorca this year then make sure you’re ready to cover up when you’re away from the beach or the pool.  As new laws look likely to be introduced that could result in a 600 euro fine for anyone who dares to wear just swimming trunks or a bathing costume in the street – an initiative which is just part of a wider Good Citizen Plan designed to promote ‘harmony and civility’ on the island.

Palma, Mallorca

This new measure, which has been drawn up by the council in the capital of Palma, has already made the national press in the UK and is designed to stop tourists wandering topless or half -dressed through the streets of the capital. 

Other proposals include outlawing cycling on the pavement, the consumption of alcohol in the street and taking glass bottles onto the beach, all of which seems reasonable enough.  However the current plans also include banning the use of buckets on the beach – which isn’t great news for anyone who was planning on creating a few sandcastles with their kids this summer!

The Ordenanza Civica isn’t just designed to frustrate tourists however as it is also aimed at island residents in an attempt to promote good behaviour across all sectors of society.  Some observers have suggested that it is just a money making scheme though, an accusation that has been flatly denied by the city’s Vice Mayor, Alvaro Gijon.

A similar ban on “nudity or virtual nudity in public places” was introduced in Barcelona a few years ago, limiting swimwear to pools, beaches and adjacent roads, with trunk-wearing wanderers facing fines there of 120 to 300 euros.  Both Barcelona and Palma are of course major, sophisticated cities in their own right and these bylaws illustrate the difficulties facing urban areas that also play host to beaches.

The new laws on Mallorca are set to be implemented from May 1st, so make sure you revise your holiday packing accordingly!