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Overseas holidays

Paid and public holiday discrepancies in EU

Britons are missing out when it comes to statutory annual leave and public holiday allowances, according to research.

Travel website Hotels.com revealed the UK finished bottom in a table of European countries that looked at annual leave as well as paid and public holiday entitlements While the average leave and public holiday entitlement was found to be 33 days across Europe, Brits have a minimum of just 28 days – a whole working week less.

It is a similar story in Ireland, Germany and Switzerland, where workers have 29 days. In comparison, Russia and Italy topped the table, benefiting from 40 and 36 days’ holiday respectively. Russia and Italy also lead the way regarding the number of banks holidays, tied with Spain on 12. The UK, meanwhile, only has eight public holidays, meaning Brits have less chance to jet off on foreign breaks. “Despite UK workers receiving the least amount of bank holidays and annual leave amongst their European counterparts, they can at least take some comfort from the fact that it’s not the most hard done by nation globally, with Mexicans receiving a mere 13 days’ holiday a year,” said Alison Couper, from Hotels.com. “It’s fascinating to think what we could do with an extra 12 days’ holiday a year, like those who live and work in Russia!”

Copyright Press Association 2013

Budapest best in Europe for prices

Britons are forking out more on their holidays compared to a year ago, with Budapest giving the best value for money.

In a cost-comparison table of 25 cities compiled by Post Office Travel Money, prices have increased year-on-year in 22 of the locations. Stockholm in Sweden has witnessed the biggest rise in costs, up by 33%, followed by Riga in Latvia (30.7%), Boston in the USA (28.4%) and Vienna in Austria (26.3%). Berlin in Germany, Prague in Czech Republic and Lisbon in Portugal were the three exceptions where prices were down, falling 1.5%, 6.8% and 19.1% respectively. Budapest in Hungary is the best bet for Brits looking to stretch their holiday spending money, with the city topping the cost-comparison table.

Twelve typical city break items, including meals and accommodation, cost just £134.76 in Budapest. Vilnius in Lithuania (£140.99), Warsaw in Poland (£151.69) and Riga (£155.34) also offer good value for money. Meanwhile, Copenhagen in Denmark (£440.45) is the most expensive city in Europe, followed closely by Stockholm (£420.36). Brits named Dubrovnik in Croatia as the emerging city they would most like to visit, with Moscow in Russia and Krakow in Poland placed second and third respectively. New York in the USA, Sydney in Australia and Rio de Janeiro in Brazil are the destinations that Britons would most like to visit if money was no object.

Copyright Press Association 2013

China launches explorer competition

Tourism officials in China have launched a recruitment drive to find someone to fill “the best job in the world”.

Hangzhou, in eastern China, is scouring the globe for “a modern Marco Polo” - the thirteenth century Venetian explorer whose travel writing introduced Europeans to China and central Asia. Intrepid adventurers can apply for the position via social networking site Facebook - ironically, since it is banned in China - and the role comes with an attractive salary of nearly £35,000. After flying out to Hangzhou Xiaoshan International Airport, the successful candidate will spend 15 days travelling through the city and make a promotional video charting the city’s many charms. Marco Polo claimed to have visited Hangzhou during his cross-continental trip, which he documented in his famous book The Travels of Marco Polo.

A spokesperson from Hangzou’s tourism commission said: “To be a modern Marco Polo is a very interesting job, it will maybe change their life. They may find inner peace, like Kung Fu Panda.” The Chinese competition echoes a similar one recently launched by Tourism Australia, which has seen quarter of a million people apply in just over a week for the chance to win one of six “dream jobs”, each worth AUS$100,000 for a lucrative six-month contract.

Press Association 2013

Mayan memories at Mexican museums

Holidaymakers keen to immerse themselves in a bit of culture should head to the airport and fly to Mexico. The country’s Yucatan Peninsula has two new museums, which both opened in late 2012 and tell the story of the Mayan culture. Gran Museo Del Mundo Maya in Merida opened for the first time in September 2012 and has had a period of closure. But the museum is now open again to the public, who can see more than 500 items relating to Mayan culture both past and present. The objects range from textiles, art and ceramics to religious items, engravings and historical documents. As well as artefacts from the present day, there are things dating back to the colonial and pre-Hispanic eras.

Visitors to the museum can wander through the exhibit rooms, which move from the present into the past through four sections. These are The Mayab, Nature and Culture; Mayas of Today; Mayas of Yesterday; and Ancestral Mayas. As well as interactive exhibits, the museum comes alive in the evening with a laser light and sound show. And travellers to Mexico can find out more about the Mayas through items discovered by archaeologists at the Museo Maya de Cancun, which opened in Cancun in November 2012. Its 350 artefacts include some that have never before been seen in public as well as some recent finds. Some of the items have been on display before at the Museo Regional de Yucatan or “Canton Palace” in Merida and the former Archeological Museum in Cancun. All of the historic items are exhibited in three large exhibition halls in a 55,000 square feet building and entrance includes a visit to the archaeological site of San Miguelito.

Copyright Press Association 2013

New 2013 holiday hotspot

Hong Kong is the new destination of choice, according to a recent report by the Telegraph.

With good public transport, plenty of English spoken, and no visa requirements for European passport holders the city is fast becoming the holiday hotspot for 2013. The month of May in particular will see many culture-seekers rush to the airport as Art Basel Hong Kong is officially launched as tourists feel a really buzz throughout this safe, vibrant city. Throughout the rest of the year visitors can be promised great food and terrific shopping. With many Michelin-starred restaurants the foodies can choose from The InterContinental, which is the only venue with three Michelin-starred restaurants under one roof.

Alternatively the city boasts Alain Ducasse’s Spoon and Caprice at the Four Seasons. Restaurant Yin Yang provides organic food in a beautiful heritage house, while Din Tai Fung serves renowned dumplings. Taking the eight-minute Star Ferry across the harbour at around 8pm shows the skyline light up by the Symphony of Lights laser show, with the journey costs just HK$2.50 (about 25p). The popular autumn months (September to November) usually see the most visitors, while the more hot and humid less polluted months tend to offer special deals.

Copyright Press Association 2013