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The Independent Travel
Channel battle

WITH the official opening of the Channel tunnel yesterday, there are signs of increasing competition in cross-Channel fares. Hoverspeed (0304 240241) has launched an 'Early Summer Saver' guaranteeing that fares on its SeaCat Folkestone-Boulogne service will be 10 per cent lower than Dover-Calais ferry prices published by other operators. The Saver, which is available until 14 July, offers return crossings for a car and up to five passengers from pounds 68; standard returns for a car and up to five people cost from pounds 125 to pounds 288 depending on time and day.

Stansted savings

AIR UK (0345 666777) is offering Saver fares on services from Stansted. Until 30 June, returns to Amsterdam cost from pounds 89; Brussels from pounds 96; Nice from pounds 129; and Paris from pounds 83. Stay must include at least one Saturday night.

Cheaper cities

TRAVELSCENE (081-427 8800) has cut the price of weekend breaks to 12 European cities. Prices start at pounds 156 for a two-night bed- and-breakfast package to Paris with flights from Gatwick, Heathrow and other UK airports. Other two-night deals include Bruges, pounds 165; Amsterdam, pounds 172; and Brussels pounds 173.

Seychelles snip

SIX-NIGHT bed-and-breakfast packages to the Seychelles are being sold by Airwaves (081-875 1199) until the end of June from pounds 699 with flights on Air Seychelles and accommodation at the Vista Bay Club. Seven-night packages to Mauritius are pounds 1,095.

Motorail offer

FOR every car and driver booked on a summer Motorail service between Calais and any French destination (except Nice), Railsavers (0253 300080) is offering one free passenger place. For an adult travelling first-class return to Narbonne, this represents a saving of pounds 140. The booking must be made before 16 June. AA 5-Star insurance, worth up to pounds 63, is offered free on all bookings.

Red Sea deals

GOLDENJOY Sports (071- 794 9818) is offering seven- night bed-and-breakfast packages to the Three Corners Village in Hurghada, Egypt, for pounds 279. A scuba-dive package based at the Presidential Hotel costs from pounds 499, including seven nights B&B.

Turkish delight

METAK Holidays (071-935 6961) says the falling value of the Turkish lire (it was recently devalued by 40 per cent against European currencies) makes Turkey one of the best-value destinations for 1994. Metak is offering peak-season packages to Kas, for example, from pounds 299, including bed and breakfast and return flights from Gatwick.

Russia packages

EIGHT-NIGHT packages based in Moscow and St Petersburg are being offered by Multitours (071-821 7000) in its Russia '94 programme from pounds 439. The price includes return flights with British Airways, full-board accommodation, a berth on the overnight train from Moscow to St Petersburg and excursions in both cities.

Global bargain

A ROUND-THE-WORLD deal that combines Argentina and Australia is available through Austravel (071- 734 7755). Using Aerolineas Argentinas and MAS, it allows the itinerary London- Buenos Aires-Auckland- Sydney-Singapore, and costs from pounds 919.

Price Ike

UNTIL 30 June, London's Dorchester Hotel (071-629 8888) is offering an Eisenhower Weekend, staying in the suite used by Ike as his personal quarters in 1944 and 1945. The package, which costs pounds 690, consists of half- board accommodation for two on a Friday or Saturday.

Top of the world

THE 10 most popular countries served from UK airports in 1993 (in passenger millions) were:

1. Spain (inc Canaries) 14.59

2. US 12.01

3. France 6.75

4. Germany 5.9

5. Greece 4.55

6. Irish Republic 4.36

7. Italy 3.69

Netherlands 3.69

9. Switzerland 2.63

10. Portugal 2.33

Information supplied by the Civil Aviation Authority