NEWS

Easter trips further afield

Although the idea of Easter in such destinations such as Peru, Phuket, Bangkok and Cuba without the traditional spit-roasted lamb and magheritsa soup is unusual, Greek holidaymakers are looking further and further afield. Greeks are nervous about European destinations following the recent terrorist attack in Madrid, despite a resultant slump in prices for holidays in Spain (one travel agency has a three-day package for 210 euros in an A-class hotel, including airfare). Emerging trends indicate a reduction in bookings for traditionally popular places, such as London, Paris, Madrid and Rome. A three-day excursion to Paris costs 198 euros, Rome 232 euros and London 240 euros. «People would rather travel to Southeast Asia and Central and South America than Paris or London,» said travel agent Vangelis Katsimichas. «Packages for these destinations are far more attractive than last year when there was the fear of SARS and the war in Iraq.» This year, holidays in Bangkok are available for 565 euros (airfare and five nights) or Bali for 667 euros (eight nights). The cost of four days in London is not much different. No wonder people are opting for Asia. European destinations still in demand include Prague, Corsica, Sardinia, Venice and Malta as well as Istanbul, despite the recent terrorist strikes. «Culture trips and specialized destinations, such as Russia, Georgia, Peru or Bolivia, are are also popular,» said travel agent Nasos Trentzos. Trips with a religious focus usually popular this time of year, such as package tours to Jerusalem, have been adversely affected by the renewed conflict between the Israelis and Palestinians after the assassination of Hamas leader Sheikh Yassin. At home, islands such as Rhodes, Corfu, Syros, Mykonos and Santorini are still popular Easter destinations, although expensive compared to Europe. Four days at a luxury hotel in Europe will put you back about 250 euros, while five days at an A-class hotel on Santorini, plus airfare, comes to about 400 euros per person. There are more expensive destinations, such as Karpenisi, where five days in a luxury hotel can cost up to 800 euros, more than a trip to Singapore. The general picture does not bode well for travel agencies, who say business is low compared to last year, particularly for package tours. People’s hesitation about traveling is not only related to the events in Madrid, but has to do with their budget restrictions. But it means that people deciding to go away at the last minute will still have a chance of getting a booking.