Minoan Air to end flights from Oxford

Greek airline Minoan Air is looking to terminate its services from Oxford on August 4 after a disagreement with the airport management.

Crete-based Minoan currently operates six flights per week from Oxford airport to Edinburgh, and three weekly services from Dublin. Both the routes had only started operating in March.

‘Minoan regrets to announce the termination of its schedule services from Oxford to Edinburgh and Dublin, due to our disagreement with Oxford Airport management on specific terms of cooperation deemed imperative for the viability of our flights,’ the airline said.

‘Following the fall out of our discussions, the airport had been given advance notice of our intentions thus allowing adequate time to explore all avenues to replace the carrier with another operator,’ it added.

Minoan was the first Greek airline to establish an operational base outside of Greece when it started flights from Oxford on March 4. Minoan uses Fokker turboprop 50 aircraft on the routes with capacity for 50 passengers, and said it had carried more than 6,000 passengers from Oxford since March. It also operates between Oxford and Dublin and runs charter flights across Europe.

The airport said: ‘It is with regret that we have to advise that Minoan Air have decided to cease flights to Edinburgh and Dublin effective August 4.’

‘Oxford airport is very disappointed with this announcement and is in dialogue with the airline to see that there is minimum disruption for all passengers,’ it said, adding: ‘The airport will be exploring all avenues to replace the carrier with another operator at the earliest opportunity.’

The move comes two years after Varsity Express commenced flights with an 18-seat aircraft on the route, but quit operations after flying for only one week.

 

Top 5 Greece Destinations

Greece has been a popular tourist hotspot for many years and with stunning beaches, azure waters and attractive cities and towns, it’s easy to see why.

Cruising the Mediterranean is the perfect way to see the best of Greece. Our guide will tell you what to see and do in the country’s most popular cruise stop-off points.

Thinking of visiting Greece? Make sure you check out Cruise1st.co.uk for a range of cruise holidays to Greece and around the Mediterranean.

Crete

Crete has a unique history and culture, with an array of fascinating sites that reveal its rich past. Visit ancient Knossos, a ruinous village that dates back more than 9,000 years. The area is dominated by a stunning Minoan palace that stood as the centre of the Minoan civilisation. The palace is home to the legendary King Minos and is the origin the story of Theseus, who is said to have slain the Minotaur in the labyrinth.

Walkers will enjoy a trip to Samaria Gorge, which spans more than 16km, making it one of the largest gorges in Europe. Situated within a national park, the area is full of amazing flora and fauna as well as some spectacular views. The walking route through the gorge starts at a height of 1,250m in the White Mountains and takes around six hours.

Athens

Athens is a cosmopolitan city where the ancient and the modern sit side by side. Visit the Parthenon for an insight into the incredible legacy of the Greek civilisation, or hit the hip bars and cafes to eat an alfresco meal and watch the world go by.

There are plenty of Athens attractions to enjoy including museums, art galleries and theatres. The Acropolis museum is stuffed with ancient artefacts, whilst the museum of Cycladic art is dedicated to the promotion of the ancient Aegean and Cypriot cultures.

Mykonos

Known locally as the island of winds, Mykonos has been popular with tourists since the 1950s. The island has long been a haven for artists it’s plethora of galleries and artisan shops reflect this. Visit ‘Little Venice’ to the east of Mykonos harbour. Its higgledy-piggledy houses in an array of Mediterranean colours are the ideal embodiment of island living.

You can also go back in time, with a visit to the archaeological museum, or catch some rays on one of the fabulous beaches. There’s plenty of shopping too with a wide range of shops from traditional to designer and a wide choice of restaurants serving traditional Greek fare.

Corfu

Corfu has long been a popular beach holiday destination, but there’s so much more to this island than its sandy shores. Corfu town has an incredible array of architecture influenced by French, Italian and even British design. Achillion Palace is well worth a visit with its stunning architecture and beautifully landscaped gardens. Thrillseekers will adore a trip to the famous Aqualand, one of Europe’s largest theme parks. Or, for a truly unusual experience you could pay a visit to the deserted mountain village of Old Perithia.

Greek Luxury Villa Bookings Remain Firm

Greece may have an economy that has been strongly shaken by its debt burden, but the Eastern Mediterranean country still remains a favourite with tourists, and demand for Greek villa rentals remains high according to Luxury Retreats, an international luxury villa rental specialist.

Luxury Retreats chief executive officer, Joe Poulin, said, ‘It’s business as usual for us in terms of reservations at popular destinations like Santorini and Crete. On the islands, the importance of tourism to the local economy and jobs cannot be overstated. Our travel partners in Greece remain committed to providing a premium vacation experience for each and every one of our guests.’

While there has been a 15 percent decrease in tourism revenue, reported by the Bank of Greece in the first quarter of 2012, the company has reported a 10 percent increase in the number of reservations for its 94 company-owned Greek island villas, for the same period.

Dr. Andreas Andreadis, the president of the Association of Greek Tourism Enterprises (SETE), said, ‘We want to encourage international tourism and assure potential tourists that there has never been a better time to come to our country. We are trying to change the way our country and its economy is run, however, this is not going to affect the quality of a holiday.’

However, the company has reported that the average price of a Luxury Retreats booking in Greece has decreased by 37 percent, from £8,489 in first quarter of 2011, to £5,324 for the same period in 2012.

Greek Holidays on Rise In Spite Of Euro Crisis

Greek holiday bookings are on the rise, says Holiday Hypermarket, a UK based holiday comparison company.

The company has reported that British travellers seem unfazed by the Euro crisis in Greece, with holiday bookings to the country seeing a rise for the summer of 2012. Zakynthos International Airport in Zante, Greece, has been consistently rated in the Top 10 for the company’s customers, from January to May 2012, especially for those passengers flying in from Gatwick, Manchester and Birmingham airports in the UK.

Calum MacDonald, the marketing manager at Holiday Hypermarket, said, ‘It’s incredibly affordable to travel in the Eurozone at the moment, and that includes prime destinations such as Corfu, Rhodes and Crete that are not directly affected by trouble in Athens.

While the financial and political situation in Greece is changing, its holiday appeal has not, making it a prime destination for people to enjoy a summer trip.’

The current results match a recent survey with Travelex, a US-based business-to-business payment solution company, which highlighted that all-inclusive holidays have increased by around 30 percent in May 2012, compared to the same period in 2011, partly due to the Pound gaining against the Euro. In May 2012, foreign exchange outlets were selling Euros at a rate of around €1.20 to the Pound, a price that is the highest in three-and-a-half years.

Around half of the travellers, who responded to the survey, said, that they would not be changing their travel plans in spite of recent economic upheavals in Greece, although around 2 percent of travellers had cancelled their pre-booked trips to Greece.

Greek Holidays Increasing in Popularity

Greek holidays are set to gain popularity with travellers this summer, says Holiday Hypermarket, a UK based holiday travel retailer.

Tourism in Greece is poised for growth in 2012, with low airfares and hotel rates at destinations such as Crete, Mykonos and Corfu, according to the company.

In 2011, travellers to Greece increased by around 10 percent, compared to the figures for 2010. In 2012, organisations promoting Greek tourism have announced marketing campaigns to help promote Greek holidays to visitors from abroad.

Calum MacDonald, Holiday Hypermarket’s online marketing manager, said, ‘Greece is slowly climbing into the top 10 tourist destinations in the world with plenty to offer families, honeymooning couples and young friends looking for a party destination.

Tourism resorts on the coast are continuing to provide excellent package holidays to visitors from abroad no matter the political situation. As one of the most attractive countries in southern Europe, Greece is a great place to book a beach holiday this summer.’

Earlier, Taleb Rifai, secretary general of the UN World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO), had said, ‘Investing in tourism in Greece is like opening a hole in the ground and oil gushes out.

It must not escape us that Greece is a member of the European Union, which offers one of the most attractive investment frameworks in the world, transparency, stable legal framework and long-term stability.

I am not at all worried about Greece-on the contrary, I consider that your country has a comparative advantage. Particularly as regards tourism, I would say that Greece is a real gold mine.’

The growing interest in Greece as a holiday destination will be welcome news to a country that has suffered more than most from the effects of the economic crisis.

From Corfu to Athens- What the Economic Crisis means for the Tourist Industry in Greece

The Ionian islands of Greece are world renowned for their paradise beaches, calm seas and laid back lifestyle. Corfu, the largest of these islands, has been a British holiday favourite for decades. But how has this popularity been affected by the recent troubles in Greece, and what do economic changes mean for Brits who already have summer holidays booked?

Currently in the grip of economic crisis and receiving bale outs from the rest of Europe, Greece has been receiving a lot of bad press recently. Images of angry crowds are accompanying headlines describing crisis and unrest; shocking debt figures are being quoted by government officials and reporters.

Despite this, though, it seems that negative images are not monopolising opinion of Greece in the British psyche. Market research company BDRC Continental have revealed that the number of British holiday makers heading to Greece this year has actually risen from 8% in 2011 to 9% in 2012. Unlike countries such as Egypt, who have seen a dip in bookings for this year, holidaymakers are continuing to choose Greece due to its natural beauty and cultural heritage, despite troubles.

This is good news for the Greek population considering that 20% of jobs are based within the tourism sector, which also constitutes 18% of Greece’s GDP. When one in five nationals rely on the future of the tourist industry for their income, a huge emphasis is being placed on maintaining tourist locations and protecting the sector as a whole. But what else has convinced holiday makers that Greece is still a desirable place to visit?

An important factor is that the riots and unrest are based in the country’s cities. Whilst tourists may be more reluctant to visit Athens, the Greek islands have remained peaceful and are still the beautiful, laid back locations they always have been. Travel companies such as Tui, which encompasses Thompson and First Choice, have stated that they have no major concerns about the safety of tourists travelling to the Greek islands this summer, or about the quality of their holiday experience.

There have been some concerns about Greece’s potential withdrawal from the euro. Holiday makers should be reassured by the fact that this will not be an overnight transition, and that their holiday money will not be rendered worthless if the change occurs whilst they are visiting. In the long term, Greece’s dropping out of the euro could actually benefit visitors, as the pound will go further if Greece reconverts to drachmas.

So it seems that it will be business as usual for the Greek islands this summer, with the riots most likely feeling a world away from the pristine beaches and cosy tavernas frequented by tourists. This is good news for Greece, who are now relying on the confidence of holidaymakers more than ever, and for the countless British holiday makers who have been enjoying the Greek landscape and culture for years.

Written by Sophie McGovern

Six struck with malaria in Greece

Following six cases of malaria in Greece, holidaymakers have been warned to protect themselves against mosquito bites.

 

The cases included five Greek adults and a Roma child, all have been reported since June this year and were seen in people with no history of travel to countries where malaria is more common, according to the Health Protection Agency (HPA).

 

All six patients are recovering at present, there have been no deaths.

 

The cases have been identified in areas of marshy wetland – were mosquitos are more common. Including the districts of Laconia, in the south of the Peloponnese peninsula, and the island of Euboea, east of the Greek mainland.

 

Professor David Hill, director of the HPA’s National Travel Health Network and Centre (NaTHNaC) said: ‘The risk to holidaymakers of catching

malaria while in Greece remains extremely low, so there is no need to take anti-malarials when visiting this country, but travellers should take

measures to prevent being bitten.

 

‘We already advise people travelling to Greece to prevent insect bites to protect against another mosquito-borne infection caused by West Nile virus.

 

‘This can cause a nervous system disease and over 200 cases were reported in Greece last year. The recent cases of malaria in Greece reinforce the importance of taking precautions against being bitten while on holiday.’

 

Dr Jane Jones, a travel health expert at the HPA, added: ‘It is important that travellers returning from affected areas seek medical advice promptly if they experience symptoms of malaria, which include fever, headache and muscle pains.

 

‘The HPA is also advising health professionals to consider mosquito-borne illnesses in travellers returning from Greece with relevant symptoms and ensure they are tested appropriately.

 

‘The HPA and NaTHNaC will continue to monitor the situation in Greece closely and will offer any further advice to health professionals and the general public accordingly.’

 

These new cases make it the third year Greece has seen cases of malaria from local transmission.