UK travel firms hit by heat wave, shares plunge

As Britain registers its first prolonged heat wave since 2006, travel agents have reported a 25 percent fall in booking for overseas holidays.

According to Steve Endacott, founder of the On Holiday Group, the drop is exactly the same size as the one following the Icelandic ash cloud crisis in 2010. ‘Few of us saw this coming. My personal conclusion is that [the slump] will probably last as long as the heat wave does,’ he reportedly told The Independent.

‘Rather than delaying the booking decision, [the heat wave] may be simply removing customers from the market.’ Endacott said, adding. ‘When a heat wave hits, it’s very tempting to shelve the overseas holiday and just sit in the garden.’

Amid concerns over the impact of the UK heat wave on foreign holiday bookings, the Stock Exchange saw shares in travel firms plunge on Wednesday. Thomson and First Choice owner, Tui Travel, fell as much as 4.5 percent, before closing 2.9 percent lower at GBP3.655, dropping from an all-time high. Thomas Cook slid 2.1 percent to GBP1.426, after earlier losing as much as 3 percent.

Budget airlines easyJet and Ryanair also plunged, with the former dipping GBP0.08 to GBP13.50 in London, and the latter declining EUR0.128 cents to EUR6.95 in Dublin.

‘We understand that there has been some negative impact on late bookings across the scheduled and charter airline space with holiday-goers choosing domestic summer destinations over traditional European sun hot spots,’ Goodbody Stockbrokers expert, Donal O’Neill, said, adding that he had spoken to operators and airlines in both the UK and Ireland to assess the impact on their latest trading.

‘There was broad agreement that a continuation of trend could take some of the froth out of margins,’ he added.

The Independent had earlier reported that the travel industry was expecting better sales of last-minute holidays than last year, when Britons stayed back to celebrate the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee and the London Olympics.


Spring heatwave creates havoc for hay fever sufferers

The best spring weather for decades has resulted in one of the worst bouts of hay fever in recent years with sufferers creating extra high demand for relief sprays and medicines.

While the extra sunshine and lack of the traditional spring cold snaps have led to a 20-year record strawberry harvest the extra pollen being created has caused havoc for the UK’s estimated 10-11 million hay fever sufferers.

Since the beginning of March Tesco pharmacies have seen a 40 per cent increase on the same time last period year in sales of relief tablets and sprays.

Demand is overwhelmingly strong in the counties of Kent and Essex, and regionally in East Anglia, as well as the southern counties, the London area and then the Midlands.

Kent and Essex are by far the counties with the most sufferers seeking help with five towns each in the UK’s top 20 for buying the most relief remedies.

Said Tesco pharmacy spokeswoman Joy Wickham: “While most of us have been enjoying the warmest spring start for reportedly 20 years an average of one in six of the population are suffering hay fever.

“This is the earliest start to the hay fever season we have seen for a long time and it has meant that we have had to order in extra supplies in order to cope with the unexpected demand.

“Normally we wouldn’t start seeing demand grow until around the end of May.

“The south east seems to have got it the worst with demand particularly high in Kent and Essex. We are making sure all our pharmacies across the region are well stocked.”

What’s made this year particularly bad for sufferers is that the recent long dry spells have encouraged bees to make more pollen.

To make matters worse strong breezes during spring have helped spread the pollen easier and further than usual. Experts also believe that the winds have blown over large quantities of pollen from continental Europe.

Heather Champion is pictured in the Rose Garden, at Birmingham Botanical Gardens, as Pollen levels hit an all time high.

Sufferers normally start getting symptoms in May but this year demand for anti-hay fever cures has started in March, far earlier than in recent memory.

Hay fever

“Hay fever is a condition that causes the inside of the nose to become inflamed. It affects the sinuses, throat and eyes” said Tesco Superintendent Pharmacist Adrian Price. “The condition cannot be completely treated but there are a number of treatments available to treat the symptoms such as antihistamine tablets, nasal sprays, and eye drops.”