Weekly Travel News & Views: 14 January 2023

Travel Editor Stephen Scourfield "wings" in more changes as we head into an exciting new year for travel


+ A new nationwide survey commissioned by Holiday Inn Express shows that 60 per cent of Australians say the biggest challenge when travelling is the expense of eating out all the time. And 78 per cent of those surveyed say they spend more on food and drink when they’re away from home.

+ So often I find a good price for a hotel room, and then hum and ha over whether to add breakfast. It can be costly — “$20 for a couple of slices of white toast, Vegemite in a plastic-and-foil capsule, some tinned fruit and bad coffee”! Particularly for those travelling with the family, breakfast can be costly — and walking out of a hotel to find breakfast may be difficult, and equally costly.

+ When you book a stay at Holiday Inn Express, you receive complimentary breakfast. In fact, since opening more than 30 years ago, the promise of a fresh, hot breakfast included in the room rate has always been part of every Holiday Inn Express stay. Stephanie Atiase, speaking for Holiday Inn Express, says the complimentary breakfast is a “brand hallmark” and a major reason why guests choose to stay there.


The first of 120 Emirates A380s getting an extensive interior refurbishment is back flying. The retrofitting includes premium economy seats and lighter colour palettes in first and business class. The whole program is costing $2.9 billion, so EK003 flying from Dubai to London Heathrow was a big moment. Emirates airline president Sir Tim Clark says that the addition of more premium economy seats is being driven by customer demand. He adds: “I’m particularly proud that this refurbishment work was designed, conducted and completed in-house at our facilities in Dubai. The fully refreshed A380 has 56 premium economy seats on the main deck. First and business class seats get cream-coloured leather upholstery and lighter-toned wood finishing.”


The American Bird Conservancy has taken another step in securing habitat of some of the Americas’ rarest birds, by supporting SAVE Brazil’s purchase of Atlantic forest habitat in north-eastern Brazil. The purchase expands the Pedra D’Antas Reserve to nearly 430ha. It is home to more than 250 bird species, including the endangered scalloped antbird. It’s nice to have some good news from Brazil in this week when Congress was stormed by supporters of former president Jair Bolsonaro.


The Rugby World Cup 2023 is being held in France from September 8 to October 28 and former Wallaby and Western Force hooker Nathan Charles is hosting a tour, which includes attending four matches. Nathan is now chief executive of Rugby WA.

The 12-day tour, called Le Grand Debut, includes the opening ceremony and the match between hosts France and New Zealand’s All Blacks, one of the most eagerly anticipated match-ups.

Then there’s Australia v Georgia, South Africa v Scotland and Australia v Fiji. The tour is from September 7 to 18 and to Paris and Lyon. It is from $8999 twin share, with a single supplement of $2800 (flights are not included). 0423 029807 and murray.skea@frenchattitude2023.com


+ As former British prime minister Neville Chamberlain said, there are no winners in a war. But new analysis seems to show that the $175 million which would have been spent on cruising in Russia in 2022 was instead, spent in Estonia and Latvia. A spokesperson for luxury cruise retailer Panache Cruises says Baltic Sea cruises with a stopover in St Petersburg have long been popular — “but operators have added overnight stopovers in many Baltic ports, with Tallinn in Estonia and Riga in Latvia being the big winners”.

+ Neville Chamberlain’s words about Adolf Hitler, as he declared war on September 3, 1939, ring true today: “His action shows convincingly that there is no chance of expecting that this man will ever give up his practice of using force to gain his will.”


Croatia is now officially a Schengen area member country and has adopted the Euro as its currency. The Schengen zone consists of 27 member states, 23 of which are also EU countries. It means that border controls between Croatia and the rest of the Schengen area are a thing of the past. President of the EU Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, says: “Citizens driving to and from Croatia can start travelling without internal border controls. The Schengen enlargement makes us stronger and Croatia can now fully contribute to a more prosperous and resilient Schengen area.”


Thailand’s plan to reintroduce COVID restrictions has been reversed. Authorities there had planned to require proof of vaccination but that was rescinded on Monday as they cited sufficient immunisation levels in China and globally. Minister of Public Health Anutin Charnvirakul said checking evidence of vaccinations would have been inconvenient and a panel of health experts had agreed to cancel the planned new rule.


Our story last week about the old Penang ferries prompted memories for reader Ted McEvoy. He says: “Over many years I, and many other RAAF personnel, was fortunate to be posted to RAAF Butterworth. Whilst the single blokes were accommodated on the base, the married families were either living on the mainland (Butterworth) or on the island of Penang. Prior to the opening of the first bridge in 1985, the only way to commute between the island and the mainland was by the ferries. It was an idyllic posting for a married couple. In regards having a vehicle, there were two choices — purchase a new vehicle at a reduced cost and have it shipped back to Australia at completion of the posting period, or purchase an old banger and sell it when returning home. As you can see I was the proud owner of a banger — a 1955 Hillman Minx, which gave me two and half years of trouble-free motoring.” It is photographed next to their house.


Just to refer back to the first item on this page, I have also just spotted in the survey commissioned by Holiday Inn Express that 66 per cent of adults say they are more irritable and grumpier when they are hungry, so I’ll let you get on with your breakfast.