PMQs: Truss shuts down Blackford over energy

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As energy bills soar for households in the UK, tourism heads in warmer European countries like Spain, Greece and the Canary Islands are wooing Britons into escaping the cold winter in the UK. While these countries have also faced eye-watering bills in the past year, the warmer weather has meant that households do not need to use as much gas for heating as those in Britain and other European countries. These warmer countries are being touted as a cheaper option for many looking to avoid racking up astronomical energy bills at home. Since the start of October, households in the UK are facing a staggering £2,500 a year in energy bills, a significant increase from already record high £1,971 a year bills in April. 

While Prime Minister Liz Truss’s intervention helped freeze the energy bills, preventing a crippling rise of £6,000 by next year, £2,500 a year still threatens to plunge millions into fuel poverty. 

Spotting an opportunity, tourism chiefs in Greece, southern Spain and the Canary Islands are now wooing Britons, urging them to visit their warmer countries instead.

According to the Mirror, this trend has been branded “thermal tourism” – as households make good use of cheap air travel, and escape the cold UK winter. 

As the bills continue to bite, Greece’s tourism minister Vassilis Kikilias has pitched his country to Britons as a warm alternative and is even looking to roll out a £17.5million advertising campaign to people across Europe.

Speaking to the Observer, he said: “Our doors are open 12 months round, our friends in northern Europe should know this. They should head here for the winter.”

Greece’s new advertising campaign will feature the tagline: “Wanna feel 20 again? With warm winter temperatures up to 20C, Greece is the place to be.”

Meanwhile, Miguel Ángel Sotillos, the president of the Spanish federation of tourist departments said that he is also enthusiastic about the possibility of plane loads of Brits flying in this winter.

He said: “From what we’re seeing, people are realising that it’s cheaper to come here than to put the heating on at home. What we’re saying is that it might be less costly to turn off the heat back home and come here. It’s as simple as that.”

Last month TravelTime World launched a campaign called “The Heat is On”, that argued that Britons should take long holidays this winter, as the cost of living in the UK may outweigh the prices of flights and accommodation.

Energy prices across Europe have been soaring in the past year, triggered by an increased demand after the pandemic, and aggravated by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

As tensions between Russia and the European Union reach new heights, experts fear that Russian President Vladimir Putin could cut off all gas flows to Europe this winter, a move that could plunge the bloc into darkness.

Energy bills in the UK have been particularly bad, as the country is heavily reliant on natural gas for heating homes. According to EuroNews, a growing number of people from Belgium, Germany and the UK are moving to Spain, drawn by the climate.

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Hilde Backaert, advisor to the Calpe City Council said: “There is no need for heating here. And people save money by coming here and not having to pay for gas or electricity, and now with the rise in prices I imagine that much more people will want to emigrate,”

This comes as the Costa del Sol Tourist Board in Spain urged Britons to leave the UK for winter. British tourists could escape the energy crisis in Spain, officials said.

Francisco Salado, president of the Costa del Sol Tourist Board, said the region was trying to attract energy ‘nomads’, adding that tourists won’t be as cold in the sunny Malaga area so might not need to use any heating.

He said: “They will be better off spending the winter with us.” He also added that some Governments around Europe were already encouraging residents to spend the winter in warmer climes.

Salado said: “The Costa del Sol has an advantage in this situation because it is already a benchmark for good weather and quality facilities.”

Temperatures in Spain’s Costa del Sol between December and February average around 14 degrees. Although winter is the region’s coldest season, it’s still warm enough for many people to avoid using central heating.

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