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Weather: Snow smashes Europe leaving wake of devastation – are your flights cancelled? | Travel News | Travel

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Snow has blasted Europe with extreme weather conditions. Parts of the continent are buried under snow and at least 16 people have been killed in winter storms. BBC Weather forecaster Phil Avery has claimed parts of southern Germany, Switzerland and Austria could expect the worst of the weather as fresh weather systems hit. A shocking WXCharts graphic has mapped the passage of a huge cloud of snow set to barrel through Europe over the next four days. Airlines have cancelled flights and the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) has updated their travel advice.

The dangerous weather sparked a red warning and high risk of avalanches across much of southern Germany and central Austria.

Germany

Germany has been heavily affected by the snowfall. Extreme weather conditions cut off the Bavarian municipality of Marktschellenberg, Germany, where as much as 1.5 metres of heavy snow has fallen leaving residents completely stranded.

Rescue workers were dispatched to assist locals after the huge snowstorm.

Airlines have cancelled 90 flights at Munich Airport today due to concerns about snow, according to German news agency DPA. A further 20 have been cancelled due to a strike.

Munich Airport said on its website: “Due to strikes and weather conditions, air traffic from and to Munich may be impaired.”

Airlines have also cancelled around 120 flights at Frankfurt Airport and warn of strikes on 15 January.

German airline Lufthansa shared its latest update on its website: “Due to heavy snowfalls expected on Friday, January 11, there will be considerable disruptions on the entire Lufthansa domestic route network.

“Please inform yourself about the status of your flight before you start your journey.”

The FCO has updated its travel advice for Germany: “According to local reports, there is heavy snowfall and a high risk of avalanches in southern Germany at present.

“Due to heavy snowfall in Bavaria and more expected, the infrastructure has been affected. You should check your journey before travelling.”

Austria

The FCO has also updated its travel advice to Austria. “Continued heavy snowfall is forecast in the Austrian Alps over several days from Tuesday 8 January,” said its website.

“This could cause travel disruption and heightened risk of avalanches in some areas. For the latest travel information, contact your transport provider and/or tour operator.”

Roads and railways have also been affected with trains, lorries and cars getting stuck for hours on both German and Austrian roads.

UK

With regards to the weather forecast for Britain, forecasters have warned the so-called Beast from the East could make a return in the second half of winter.

The Met Office has warned temperatures could plummet sparking rain and snow towards the end of the month.

Met Office spokeswoman Nicola Maxey said: “There are signs of a growing risk of strong winds, rain and snow from mid-January into early February. We are expecting to see it turn colder with temperatures below average for the time of year although we will see some short-lived milder interludes.

“Gales will be possible in the north and west, and it will turn colder from the northwest. Some snow is expected in the north, especially in brighter, showery, colder interludes between weather systems.”

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Travel & Escape

Opinion: Are we ready for the tourism rebound?

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Canadians are ready for the borders to be re-opened and will be flocking to sun destinations this winter like never before. The number of people who have said that they are ready to “get out of Dodge” and “fly the coop” is an indication that there is a pent-up demand for travel and excursions that has been bolstered by a two-year sabbatical from vacations of any semblance. 

While Canadians are going to be heading south, we can expect some of our citizens as well as those from other nations to be looking to Canada for their adventure holidays. When the requirements for the two-week quarantines are lifted, we will be seeing a quick rebound of tourism as other countries who have already lifted their restrictions have seen. 

But are we ready?

In 2019, tourism contributed $105 billion to the Canadian economy. Tourists from outside of Canada spent over $16 billion dollars.  Those numbers were down considerably in 2020 and it is only natural that many people in the industry suffered as a result of the effects of the pandemic and lockdown restrictions.

While some folks, fearful of the spread of variants, believe that the borders should never be re-opened, the reality is that to save our tourism industry and the economy, we need tourist traffic from outside of Canada as well as interprovincial travel. As Canadian and foreign tourists start their migration towards our tourist and nature attractions, there is some hesitancy about the readiness of the industry to manage the coming tsunami of people.

Hit harder than many sectors, the tourism industry has been affected by the pandemic in ways that other industries haven’t. The closure of attractions, fairs, tour bus companies, sporting events, concerts and community events with any semblance of a large group has forced workers in this industry to look for jobs elsewhere to survive. As a result of this migration of talent there will be many tourism related businesses that will have difficulty scaling up to meet demand.  According to Statistics Canada, 32 per cent of accommodation and food service companies expect that attracting workers is going to be an obstacle for them this year.

Even if you have some warm bodies to fill your positions, having well-trained staff will remain a problem for many tourism and food service companies. Most business leaders in the industry understand the result of having improperly trained staff working in positions serving the public. The consequences of poor customer service can be long lasting and devastating. Unfortunately, as a result of the constant opening up and shutting down scenarios that have been seen in the economy over the past 18 months, most operators have been reluctant to increase the staffing levels that will be necessary to meet demand. The consequences will be that there will be no other option but to have staff that are not fully trained or optimally equipped to take care of the flood of vacationers.

In order to adjust to the coming demand, tourism-related businesses will need to be prepared to hire and train new employees to promote and deliver their services. This should include systematization of training, hiring and onboarding processes to enable companies to get up to speed quickly when the demand starts.  

While tourism deserves to have their days in the sun and profit from increased business, we need to recognize as Canadians that it takes a country to host visitors and we need to encourage and support those people in the industry who have been hit so hard.

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Travel & Escape

COVID-19: Tourism bookings start increasing as B.C. opens up

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Tourism in B.C. is restarting but don’t expect it to be the same as it was before the COVID-19 pandemic.

While B.C. Ferries is welcoming recreational travellers and relaxing its mask requirement at terminals, face coverings will still be mandatory on board whenever you’re not in your vehicle.

Several Indigenous tourism businesses and locations that were closed to visitors are planning to reopen July 1.

Other tourism businesses are welcoming back visitors but won’t be in a position to handle big volumes because of a lack of staff, said Anthony Everett, president and CEO of Tourism Vancouver Island.

“Everyone needs to travel with a great deal of patience,” Everett said from Nanaimo. “Most businesses are running at a fraction of capacity of what they did prior to COVID.”

Many tourism sector workers have left the industry and found work elsewhere, Everett said. Particularly hard hit are restaurants that can’t find kitchen workers and companies doing tourism-related activities such as kayaking.

He said the benefits of tourism won’t be evenly distributed.

Last year, Victoria struggled all summer long and while bookings for accommodation have increased, some of the city’s restaurants are only open for lunch, others only for dinner.

“This is all going to take time to build up,” Everett said.

“Frankly, I think it will take years. This summer, bookings are going up, that’s what we’re been waiting for. It’s not going to be the exact same experience you were used to prior to the pandemic. I hope people remember and recognize that.”

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Travel & Escape

Mountain biking the Sea to Sky Trail

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With the 700-metre granite dome of the Stawamus Chief as a backdrop, my friend, Ken, and I climbed on our bikes in Squamish and began pedalling north. Our destination was Whistler, an uphill trek of some 80km that we hoped to cover in two days.

It would be easier to ride the opposite way—from Whistler to Squamish—because it’s downhill. But it wouldn’t be the Sea to Sky Trail if we rode that way. Besides, how hard could an elevation gain of more than 600 meters be?

I have driven the Sea to Sky Highway to Whistler many times. It’s arguably one of the best drives in Canada, but when I learned about the Sea to Sky Trail, I knew I needed to experience it on a bike. It’s a slower pace, and largely away from the highway, so it would allow us to appreciate the journey—the valleys, river gorges, lakes, and forests—in a way you can’t in a car.

While the Indigenous peoples of the Coast Salish and Interior Salish have used this corridor as a historic travel and trade route, the idea of a multi-purpose Sea to Sky Trail was first imagined in the early 1990s. But given the geographical and funding challenges, it’s only been in the last decade or so that the vision of the 180km trail from Squamish to D’Arcy, north of Pemberton, has been realized.

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