Dutch fly south in search of sun


Travel company TUI says bookings to Greece and Spain last week were up 80% on the same time last year, reports the Parool. Some popular hotels are fully booked and – it said on Monday – islands like Gran Canaria, Mallorca and Tenerife are battening down the hatches for a Dutch invasion. The number of bookings to Greece has tripled, with far fewer fears about refugees, and rival firm Thomas Cook also reported a spike in bookings alongside the torrential rain last month. ‘Many people said the incessant rain and changeable weather made them decide to leave for sunnier climes,’ said a spokesperson. Meanwhile, Schiphol airport has said it is expecting its busiest summer ever when schools break up next Friday.   More >




Insurers won't pay out for Alpine snow

Winter sports enthusiasts have been warned that insurers are unlikely to pay out if they are unable to take to the ski slopes because of the extremely heavy snow in parts of the Alps. In France and Switzerland the amount of snow is close to the all-time record for the time of year, but snowstorms and the high risk of avalanches has forced some resorts to close the pistes. In the French resort of Tignes skiers were confined to their hotels and chalets as winter storms brought winds in excess of 200 km/h, while in the Austrian Tirol region two German skiers died in an avalanche on Friday. Some insurance companies such as Neckermann and Sunweb offer a package compensating skiers if there is not enough snow to ski, but the policy does not apply if the snow is too heavy. Holidaymakers who have to delay their journey home because of blocked roads or extreme cold may have a claim. 'The weather for winter sports is so varied at this time of year that we can't insure against it,' said a spokesman for the ANWB, which operates Pharos Reizen insurance policies. Not all of the Alps is under a blanket of snow; in parts of Bavaria, on the northern side of the mountain range, spring-like temperatures of up to 12 degrees have been reported.  More >



Maastricht has more shops than Amsterdam

Maastricht has more shops per head than Amsterdam, but the tourist hotspots of the Wadden Islands are a shopper's paradise, new figures show. The Limburg capital's 854 shops represent 7 for every 1,000 population, compared to a concentration of 6.4 in Amsterdam, according to statistics published on Tuesday by the national statistics office CBS. However, the islands have nearly three times as many shops per resident, largely because tourists outnumber locals during the holiday season. Vlieland, with 20.3 shops per 1,000 residents, leads the league table, followed by Schiermonnikoog in 13.8, Terschelling on 13.2 and Texel on 13.1.   The CBS said there are nearly 88,000 physical shops in the Netherlands. Clothing shops represent 18% of the total, followed by supermarkets at 7%, flower shops (4%) and bicycle shops, drug stores, furniture stores, butchers and shoe shops, all at 3%. Little has changed over the past 10 years the CBS said. The Wadden islands took pole position a decade ago and Maastricht headed the table of the 25 biggest cities.  More >