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England's staying home: Travel industry misery as holiday prices tumble

Exclusive: ​Turkey package holidays from Manchester for less than a train ticket to Torquay; flights to the Med for under £50 return and to the French Alps for £37

Simon Calder
Travel Correspondent
Monday 09 July 2018 12:03 BST
Simon Calder explains the travel industry's misery, as Summer 2018 holiday prices tumble

England’s progress in the World Cup and the long, hot summer are turning into a disaster for the travel industry. In a desperate bid to get passengers on board, airlines and holiday companies are slashing prices for departures in the coming week.

After defeating Sweden in the World Cup quarter-final, England are guaranteed to be playing in Moscow on Wednesday and again in Russia next weekend.

The Independent tracked prices throughout the business day for travel firms on Saturday.

At one point, TUI – the UK’s biggest holiday company – was selling a week’s package holiday from Manchester to Marmaris in Turkey for £117.

The deal, on Tuesday 10 July, included flights with 15kg of luggage, transfers between Dalaman airport and the resort, and self-catering accommodation.

An off-peak return train ticket from Manchester to Torquay on the same dates costs £144.

The departure to Turkey sold out during the afternoon, but other sub-£200 holidays are available – a remarkable price for high-season travel.

From Norwich on Monday, another TUI holiday to Gran Canaria is available for £199. Thomas Cook is selling a week on the Greek island of Zante, departing from Birmingham on Thursday, for £222.

World Cup 2018: England fans celebrate across the world as they beat Sweden to reach semi-finals

More upmarket holidays are also widely available at attractive prices. Jet2holidays has a week at the Hotel Dalmacija in the Croatian resort of Makarska for £475, including breakfast.

Jamie Rollo, a leisure analyst for Morgan Stanley, told investors in a market update: “We spoke to a number of UK tour operators this week, and the consensus was that overseas holiday bookings have weakened in the last few weeks.

“This was put down to a combination of the weather, following the longest heatwave since 1976 and June the driest month on record, and the World Cup.”

Budget airline fares are also tumbling. On the day of England’s semi-final in Moscow, Wednesday 11 July, TUI has an early-morning departure from Gatwick to Palma de Mallorca for £49, including a return flight a week later.

For travellers who prefer the mountains in summer, Ryanair is offering return flights from Stansted to Grenoble on the same dates for £37.

One airline actually profiting from England’s progress in the World Cup is British Airways, which is commanding the highest-ever fares on its three daily links between Heathrow and Moscow’s Domodedovo airport.

Shortly after the final whistle in the England v Sweden quarter-final in Samara, BA told The Independent that it had deployed larger Boeing 777 aircraft on five of its key round-trips to the Russian capital.

Fares fell from the previous level of £1,049, but only to £932 return.

England are now guaranteed to be playing in Russia next weekend, either in the final on Sunday in Moscow or the third-place play-off in St Petersburg on Saturday.

British Airways serves both destinations from Heathrow. Cheaper deals are available on connecting flights, such as LOT Polish Airlines via Warsaw.

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