Warning of the week: avalanche risk in Austria
After heavy snowfalls in Austria, the winter-sports news source Skiinfo.com says that the number of "powder alerts" – warnings about potential avalanches aimed at off-piste skiers – has increased dramatically. In addition, some resorts have been cut off because of road closures.
"The avalanche situation is critical, with the warning level at 5, the highest possible level, in the North Alps," says Patrick Thorne of Skiinfo.com. "The Obersteiermark region has declared a state of emergency. The Austrian military has supplied by helicopter 500 people marooned in the ski resort of Planneralm since the road into it was closed due to the avalanche danger. A second resort, Hochfügen, is also marooned; about 700 tourists are reported to be in the village."
If you planned to ski in Scotland instead, the news is not good: "After some of the best snowfalls in years, the thaw has sadly continued leaving very little skiable terrain at any of the five areas – though earlier this week, each was managing to scrape together a few hundred metres on a narrowing run or two."
Bargain of the week: Lincolnshire
Next Saturday and Sunday (7 and 8 March) have been designated "Discover Lincolnshire Weekend". As the county bids to attract visitors from elsewhere in Britain, many of Lincolnshire's most popular attractions are offering free admission; these include Lincoln Castle, Cleethorpes Discovery Centre, the RAF Scampton Museum and Doddington Hall (free on Sunday only). In addition, a range of special activities will be staged. For more details, call Lincoln tourist information on 01522 873800 or visit tiny.cc/RwKCV.
Destination of the week: the Costas
Sales figures for the leading package-holiday companies suggest a sharp switch away from Britain's favourite foreign destination, Spain. Thomson and Thomas Cook, the two giant tour operators, have taken hundreds of thousands of holidays out of their programmes, but there is some evidence that sales have shrunk even faster than the reduction in capacity.
A snapshot of deals on offer this week suggests some peak-season bargains are still available. Going Places (part of the Thomas Cook group) was offering a week's all-inclusive holiday for a family of three in Salou on the Costa Dorada, flying from East Midlands airport on 24 August, for £1,362 – which works out at only £454 per person.
As accommodation-only providers compete for business, deals are also available for DIY holidays – though these lack the financial and legal protection of inclusive packages. Aer Lingus flights from Gatwick to Malaga on 1 August, returning a week later, were available this week for £147, and the website hotels4u.com was offering a week in a one-bedroom apartment at Las Rosas de Capistrano in Nerja for £463 – giving a total of £757 for a couple, or £1,061 if a family of four squeeze in.