This time last year in the Search Travel Online offices, we were looking at our calendars and predicting a sales lull around the time of June and July 2008. Why? Because of the European Championship in Switzerland and Austria. It was a foregone conclusion that England would take their rightful place amongst the final 16 teams – after all, England had an easy looking group with the likes of Russia, Croatia and Israel. It would take a major slip up for England not to make the finals, and as we currently don’t sell holidays to Switzerland or Austria we expected little business with everyone staying home and helping pub landlords around the country make a tidy profit.
Fast forward 12 months, and the picture has turned on its head. England faltered in their group, failing to make the impression they should have done and being all but out in November, relying on Israel to beat Russia to give them a chance of qualifying. Israel did the impossible and beat Russia, only for England to throw it away by losing to Croatia. This led to Steve McClaren being sacked, and England once again looking for a new manager. Alongside this, Scotland just lost out to giants Italy and France in their group, despite beating the latter twice, Wales failed to battle their way out of their group and Northern Ireland didn’t quite have the quality in the end, despite breaking the record for goals scored by a single player – David Healy with 13.
So, this leaves none of the UK’s football fans with any strong commitments come June next year, so what’s the alternative to bitterly watching the other nations compete in the European Championship? Well, one option we’ve seen selling well in the office is cheap holidays to Tenerife. A Tenerife holiday package has everything you could hope for when looking to escape England – while we were suffering floods this year, Tenerife holiday makers were enjoying the glorious sunshine, and while nobody expects a repeat of the unusual weather that dogged Britain last year, it’s nice to go somewhere where sunshine and good times are guaranteed!
In fact, in many ways a cheap holiday to Tenerife highlights the futility of watching the big summer sporting event – just take a look at the following contrasts:
1) European Championships: Annoying mascots and endless opening ceremony “entertainment”
The over-the-top opening ceremonies at international football tournaments are uniformly dull, and the irritating country mascots don’t help to brighten proceedings, despite their shamelessly attention seeking antics.
Tenerife: Real wildlife and plentiful entertainment
Why bother with men in animal suits, when you can see real exotic animals’ fascinating behaviour instead? Loco Park, Tenerife, has the biggest dolphin habitat in Europe, along with a huge aquarium that houses over 20,000 fish and marine animals which can be seen through an underwater tunnel. Elsewhere, the park has gorillas, tigers and jaguars ensuring an entertaining day out for wildlife lovers.
2) European Championship: Pub snacks
Imagine for a second that England or Scotland had qualified, and you’re at your favourite watering hole and your stomach is rumbling. Do you risk the bar nuts you’re sharing with your less-than-hygienic pub colleagues, or chance a stomach pump with the ‘traditional pub food’ they’re serving?
Tenerife: Delicious delicacies
Food on your Tenerife holiday is very tasty and sure to give you something to smile about in the absence of a trophy for England. Tapas are Spain’s appetizers, delightful local delicacies flavoured with garlic, chillies or paprika, cumin, salt, pepper or saffron. It often comes with seafood such as anchovies, sardines or mackerel in olive oil with tomatoes and sometimes peppers or olives. Better than another bag of pork scratchings, any day of the week.
3) European Championship: Artificially expensive pints
As per usual, come the quarter final (inevitably as far as England get, if recent form is to be believed) the local pub is bound to up the prices of pints to take advantage of the huge influx of customers coming to gawp at their big screen. And that’s just going to make the disappointment of England losing on penalties that bit more expensive to forget.
Tenerife: Cocktails by the pool
On a Tenerife package holiday, you can take a break from the standard fare of pints and ales, by enjoying some of the exotic (and intoxicating!) local cocktails. The fresh fruit makes them taste fantastic, and with no sporting event to drive up the prices, having a good time needn’t break the bank!
4) European Championship: Screaming at the referee
It’s easier to blame the referee than the players’ incompetence, so you can bet that if England had qualified, your throat would be hoarse from screaming obscenities.
Tenerife: Screaming to the tunes in some amazing clubs
A far more enjoyable way to give yourself a sore throat, this. If you’re going to wreck your vocal cords, why not do it on an unforgettable club night in some of Tenerife’s top party resorts – Playa de Las Americas or Los Cristianos? The bars stay open til’ 4 in the morning, and the clubs until 6am – no package holiday to Tenerife is complete without a night on the tiles!
5) European Championship: Drowning your sorrows
When England, Scotland, Northern Ireland or Wales eventually leave the competition, the time has come to drown your sorrows, discuss missed opportunities and discuss the best plans for the future of the team. All in all, it’s rather depressing and not the highlight of anyone’s year.
Tenerife: Splashing around at Aqualand or Aquapark
Between the two of these fabulous water parks, you’re bound to have to great memories. Both of them boast a varied number of slides and attractions bound to keep children as young as 5 (and as old as 60!) happy. No miserable walk home in the rain here, either. The sunny weather inevitable on a cheap holiday to Tenerife is just perfect for these fun water parks!
And by the time the European Championship is over and you’re returning from your cheap holiday package to Tenerife with a healthy looking tan and a heap of great memories, the future of our international football will be looking healthier too. England will have found themselves a new manager who, let’s face it, can’t do much worse! Scotland just have to go that extra inch next time around and will probably be seeded for the World Cup groups after their stunning performance making qualification that bit easier. Wales are moving in the right direction after drawing 0-0 with Germany in their last game, and Northern Ireland managed to break the record for top scorer in the European Championship qualifiers with David Healy, laying them great foundations for the next few years. So, you get your holiday, the footballers get the summer off to reflect on their performance and can look to coming back stronger next time – everybody wins.