Jets Buzz Holiday Island

With visitor numbers static in recent years and facing new competiton from former Eastern Bloc countries offering cheap holidays, the recent announcement by the Maltese government that negotiations were at an advanced stage with two low cost airlines has sparked hopes that the island will see a rise in visitor numbers – much to the relief of some in the travel industry worried about the future of Malta as a holiday destination.

Even before the new carriers to the island land the existing airlines have been offering return flights at prices seemingly much lower than in the past to try and hold on to their share of the market.

According to on-line travel guide YourMalta.com the airline negotiations have been tempered with the need for the islands government to see that the national carrier, Air Malta, isnt damaged as it is one of Maltas major employers.

Traditionally the UK has been Maltas biggest market for incoming tourists, often making up over half of the islands visitors in any given year, but some on the island see even this market as under threat. And property buyers from the UK have accounted for seventy per cent of Malta property sales to overseas buyers in recent years.

A good portion of UK visitors and property buyers for Malta in recent years have been ex-forces who served for the British during WW2 when Malta held out against Hitlers Luftwaffe, and then in peacetime through to 1964 when Malta became independent, who returned for holidays.

But with the inevitability of this market declining a new breed of Maltas holiday and hotel entrepreneurs see Maltas future as less dependent on the UK tourist, and being more cosmopolitan in her outlook.

Declining Market and New Opportunities

Tribune Properties, a UK company specialising in Malta properties, say they have noticed more buyers making enquiries from other countries over the last year. In particular they say they have been receiving enquiries from France, Italy and Germany.

The UK remains the foundation for overseas property buyers considering buying property in Malta, but the overall percentage is reducing as more and more people in mainland Europe have visited Malta, and liked it so much they want to either move to the island full time or buy a holiday home.

The arrival of low cost flights to Malta though could reignite British interest as three and four day breaks a few times a year becomes financially viable. If the airlines fly to destinations in Europe too the number of buyers for Malta property could rise in the immediate and medium term explains Tribunes Managing Director, Roger Munns.

For Maltas tourist industry three and four day visitors in increased numbers will be a welcome boost. There is discussion on the island about extending clubs opening hours beyond the current 4am.

Clubbers in the UK are used to 6am closing, and might be deterred from making a weekend trip with a three hour flight only to find shorter hours available for partying.

There are new opportunities for Malta, and its for the island to decide whether to embrace them and gain a new generation of visitors or ignore them and lose an asset for the economy agree YourMalta.com

Malta has a lot to offer the visitor apart from being a Mediterranean holiday island. Malta has a rich culture and history, and can easily appeal to all generations from toddlers to pensioners. More Italians and other nationalities are discovering Malta as a destination. Malta will become more cosmopolitan. And while some of the older more conservative residents are likely to be against a younger and more diverse mix of visitors from what they have been used to and see change as something to be afraid of, we believe the island will embrace the more cosmopolitan feel, while retaining the features that make Malta a unique visit among her Mediterranean island competitors.

The Best Way To Buy Luxury Holidays

When choosing your luxury holidays who will offer you the best deals?

The critics of the travel agent often say packaging your own holiday saves you money and this is what you should do but in today’s volatile world is your money safe? Should you pay more to an agent for peace of mind? Should you book your luxury holidays directly with an independent operator and cut out the middle man? There are so many options to consider, so what do you do?

As with most things in life there are advocates with a strong argument in favor of all the options, so who should you listen to?

I guess the conclusion will be different depending on your perspective, how much money is too much to risk? Typical luxury holidays will cost between 2k and 20k and that is the cost of a good second hand car, the deposit on a house for your son or daughter or that new luxury kitchen or bathroom you have always wanted. Would you buy a car from a man you had never met, based in a country where you couldn’t speak the language, pay the man the money three months in advance of seeing the vehicle without any guarantee of financial protection? Probably not!

On the other hand you may be tempted if that man was offering the same car as your dealer down the road at a much lower price.
Surely the answer lies somewhere between the potential savings, potential risks and the amount you intend to spend but do you really know what the potential risks are or how much you have really saved.

Every high street in the UK typically has one or more of the multiple chains of travel agents and usually a local independent agent both of which seem to be closing down at a rate of knots. The problem with both these options are fairly straight forward; if you book your luxury holidays with the multiple that is in turn owned by the tour operator, then surely recommendations will be biased to their employers products and not necessarily finding you the consumer the best deal. The second option being the independent travel agent but being based in the high street and encumbered by the cost of expensive shop rents and ridiculous business rates, are they really in the best position to offer you the biggest discounts on your luxury holidays? Again the answer has to be probably not.

Booking your luxury holidays online seems to be the way the trend is going, so how do you know that you are getting the best deal? Many suggest you should book with the tour operator direct as this will cut out the need for the operator to pay an agent commission and in turn deliver you better value for money. The question is without trawling through all the hundreds of tour operators how do you know you are dealing with the one that has the best luxury holiday offers. You Don’t.

You can of course book your luxury holidays independently as suggested before. So you go ahead and start hunting for the different elements of your holidays on-line and inevitably find that packaging them together saves you a little money but at the cost of financial protection.

The next option is using a member of one of the new travel agents consortium in the UK. One of the most successful and fastest growing is the Freedom Travel Agents consortium which is part of the Co-operative Group. These consortium have created a new breed of travel companies that have access to both an ABTA and ATOL licence allowing them to retail other tour operators luxury holidays as well as act as the principle tour operator and dynamic package your luxury holidays for you, much in the same way as you would on-line but providing you and your family with the financial protection you need.

Having access to all the tour operators products at the touch of a button and having specialist knowledge of each operator and their strengths and weaknesses mean that often these agents will be able to find the bargain you may have otherwise missed.

As a consortium there are considerable savings to be had by its members and often much better commercial deals with the tour operators allowing more freedom to discount. The leaner and more efficient a business can be the greater the saving for you the consumer. The best of these agents can be found on the web and so unencumbered by those high street costs and in turn able to offer you the consumer the greatest savings on your luxury holidays.

Get Ready Fast For Fall Leaf Viewing Trips

Whether its a driving tour, a cruise or a bus, leaf viewing is a great way to spend a fall vacation. It’s also big tour business and the are many options. As you dream of that hot apple cider on a crisp afternoon do a quick check list before you leave home so you’re ready for any type of weather. If you’re prepared then all you need to do is focus on having a fun and relaxing time.

Start preparing by taking out your favorite sweater. Think “chilly.” Pack one that you can use outdoors as well as under a rain jacket or sitting inside by a warm fire. It’s also time to get back into socks after a summer in sandals. A few pair of them should be on your list. Pack four pair and add a fifth one that is woolen or made for winter.

Layering clothes is paramount for fall trips outdoors. The sudden sunny burst in the afternoon versus breath chilling mornings can surprise anyone. A nice light weight fleece top with a wind proof jacket works well. Pack both.

While we think of blue cloudless skies on an autumn afternoon the chance of rain is pretty high so pack a rain suit. A jacket with a hood and pants are best. When outside all day in the wet and damp its important to keep dry all over for comfort and a complete rainsuit is the answer. Today’s styles and fabrics come in all colors and patterns so you can be stylish as well as comfortable.

Make sure to add a small folding umbrella to your bag as well. Raincoats are fine but unless its full length with a zip in liner, rainy weather can start to feel downright uncomfortable by mid afternoon. Its miserable by evening unless you are warm from head to toe. An umbrella can help.

Pack a warm hat and gloves. Comfortable shoes are also a must and if they also happen to be waterproof its a big plus at this time of year.

Your camera gear needs to be in good working order so check it at home before you leave. Take extra batteries and memory cards. Film can be bought along the road if you want to travel light. Double check you camera bag and make sure it’s moisture proof. If at all possible avoid taking a brand new camera since anything untried can miss these great photos you’ll want to show off once you get back home.

However you are traveling you’ll be on the move a lot, always more than you think, since you have to be outdoors to see foilage. Being mobile in your traveling will allow you greater freedom and flexibility. Pack light and put all your items into a single, carryable, soft side bag. Take a day pack for those daily viewing excursions and make sure you put a bottle of drinkng water inside. Take prescriptions in original bottles and always pack more than you will need. Binoculars are not required but can be a great joy if you happen to catch birds migrating or wildlife grazing before the first snowfall.

As long as you have the right gear you can travel anywhere anytime of the year. See you on the road!

Passover: Laugh While Cleaning

Passover, or Pesach as it is called in Hebrew, is the 8 day festival where the Jews celebrate their liberation from Egypt more than a thousand years ago. One of the most important features of this freedom festival is that the Jews cannot eat anything that is leavened. They eat unleavened bread.

They must also make sure that no bread crumbs exist in or around the house: the cupboards, the drawers, the kitchen, behind the bed, under the refrigerator and anywhere else where crumbs might have fallen through. To ensure that the house is clean of leavened food materials, the Jews have to clean the entire house from top to bottom as thoroughly as possible. And they do. During the week before Passover, house cleaning is what goes on in most Jewish houses. To answer this demand and to ease the tension, here is a joke on this subject called Impossible Timing, which highlights this cleaning tension.

Impossible Timing:
Samuel, an observant Jew, who was also a financial wizard, left Brooklyn to accept the position of Vice President in a famous broker firm in Utah, which is well known for being a Mormon state.

When they learned this, the company’s directorate applied tremendous pressure on the company’s president. “We are religious people here,” they said. “It can’t be that a Jew will handle all our money.”

The president tried to ward them off, but when he couldn’t manage it anymore, he called Samuel to his office and explained the situation to him. Samuel was offered the choice of either converting or leaving the attractive job which also had a six figure salary quote attached to it.

Samuel had no choice but to convert, and he went home and told his wife that from Sunday, they will start attending the Church services.

A few months went by and his wife kept troubling Samuel about the conversion. “This is too difficult for me. I miss the Sabbath: lighting candles and blessing the wine. I miss the holidays. Money is not everything, Samuel dear.”

And with each time that his wife complained, Samuel’s conscience increased until he could not take it anymore and he went to meet the company’s President.
“Look, I can’t go on like this,” Samuel said. “I am full of regret. Money is not everything. I can’t sleep and neither can my wife. This is too heavy a burden for me to carry. I was born a Jew and I want to die a Jew. And if you want me to quit, I will without making any trouble.”

The President looked at him in wonder, “Listen, Samuel, I had no idea that this was so difficult for you. I thought it was a trivial matter. But you don’t have to leave. Everything will be the same as before: you can stay here with us without converting.

Samuel returned home happy and grinning from ear to ear. He ran to his wife, who was watching Ricky Lake, “You won’t believe it! It’s a miracle. We are going back to being Jews, and I still retain my job.”

His wife looked at him with eyes that spat fire, and said,” Are you mad?”

Samuel was shocked. “But I thought that this is what you wanted!” He cut in. “All this while you have been crying and complaining. Don’t you wish to go back to becoming a Jew””

His wife looked at him with ever more fury, “Of course I want to. Of course I want to,” she said. “But now? Only a week before Passover?”

Tips for Traveling with Infants

Whether you are traveling for business or pleasure, there is a chance that you might find yourself traveling with an infant, and in this case, there are many things for you to consider. Traveling with an infant is unlike traveling with a small child, or even a toddler, so whether you are a parent or a babysitter, it is important to be prepared, especially if it is going to be a longer trip. Though it is easy to get anxious and concerned about this situation, the truth is that many people travel with small infants and if they remember to take the proper precautions, the trip can actually go quite smoothly.

The important thing to remember is that an infant, just like everyone else, has things that need to be packed and day to day needs. Of course, the first things to remember are the day to day hygiene supplies. Diapers, diaper rash cream, wipes, and a reusable pad to change your baby on are all basic things that you will find in your normal gear, so remember to pack these. Look around for travel-sized bottles of baby wash, baby lotion and disinfecting hand gel to make sure that you can keep everything tidy, and don’t forget to bring a good change of clothes, especially ones that can easily be washed clean.

As a general rule, remember that blankets in the car are usually a good idea; you can cover yourself when nursing, keep your baby shaded or cushioned as well provide a soft and clean place to sit down if your baby wants to roam a bit. Remember extra pacifiers, and if your baby is on solid foods, remember baby food and an easy to carry and clean plastic feeding set. Take a look at everything your normally use to feed and water your baby, from formula to juice to sippy cups to plastic nipples, and bring those along as well.

If you are going to be on the road for more than one night, a few things can make it easier for you as well. Take some time to find a good nightlight, to make sure that you won’t be stumbling blearily around your hotel room at 3 AM, and just in case of bumps and contusions, remember to pack a first aid kit. If you are going to be going some place where you are going to be walking a great deal, remember that a snuggle sack will help you keep your hands free for other things. For your own convenience, you may wish to think about purchasing an inflatable tub, a collapsible stroller or a travel playpen to keep your child occupied.

Traveling with an infant can in no way be considered lightweight, but rest assured that if you take the proper precautions, it will not turn into the disaster that you might fear. When all is said and done, don’t forget the digital camera, either; can you imagine how cute he or she is going to look?

Holidays On Horseback

Whether you are a thrill-seeking daredevil or a committed Happy Hacker, there is sure to be a riding holiday to suit you .

The choice of country and terrain is enormous and you can opt for a blissful week of escape from the family in beautiful and unspoilt surroundings. Alternatively, make it a family treat even if some of the clan are totally non-horsey.

The first thing to consider with any riding holiday is your true level of riding ability and stamina. A weekend-only novice will be neither safe nor happy on a mad three day gallop across Botswana. Similarly, a week trekking with beginners at walk will not appeal to experienced jockeys. The large number of riding holiday providers generally accept the following as sensible summaries of riding ability;-

Beginner: A rider with very limited experience, is unable to mount and dismount unassisted, and unable to post to the trot or canter.

Novice: A rider who has some riding experience, is able to mount and dismount unassisted, is in control of a well-behaved horse and confident for short periods of rising trot and canter.

Intermediate: A rider with all of the novice skills, has a firm seat, is comfortable at all paces and capable of riding for several hours at a time. The intermediate rider is also able to tack up a horse if required.

Experienced: A competent and regular rider who is capable of adapting to different horses in different environments. An experienced rider has soft hands and is able to control a spirited horse in open country.

Other points to consider.

Weight Limit

Some riding trips have a weight limit which generally appears to be approximately 95 kilos (around 15 stones). In most cases you will be provided with a bigger horse and in some instances there will be a surcharge but it is always wise to contact your holiday provider as there may be a limited number of horses available for guests exceeding this weight level.

Children

Depending on the trip, children may join the ride. Discounts may be available in some cases. It is definitely worth checking even if the kids are staunchly anti-Equestrian as many of the holiday providers can accommodate non-riding guests.

Insurance

This is an absolute must for any holiday and should be an important consideration in booking your trip.

Preparing for your holiday

Once you have determined the riding experience, age and ability of the group members, you can go ahead and book your holiday. Whether you are experienced riders or not, you are still likely to be spending considerably longer than usual in the saddle on a daily basis so expect some aches and pains!

Many repeat riding holiday enthusiasts go on several short riding weekends prior to a longer holiday so that they can really get the best out of the experience on every level.

With riding holidays available in England, Scotland Wales and Ireland, we have plenty of choice on our doorsteps but there is a huge choice of trips in France, USA, and even Africa and Asia. The choice is yours.