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EasyJet CEO, Johan Lundgren has criticised new government plans for travel, warning they could make holidays inaccessible to many Britons due to the focus on testing for unvaccinated passengers.
Under plans outlined in a public briefing yesterday, destinations will be classed as green, amber or red based on their Covid infection rates and vaccination coverage. For green countries, no isolation will be necessary on return to the UK, but pre-departure and post-arrival tests will be required, which can cost up to £200 per person.
Lundgren hit back at the plan, stating that PCR tests are too expensive to make holidays abroad a viable choice, particularly for families. “In many cases, those costs are actually higher than the fare of the ticket… if you are ticking all of those boxes to become a green destination [multiple tests] don’t make sense to me.”
Asked about the comments, and whether cheaper lateral flow tests could replace PCR tests in the plans, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: “I do think we want to make things as easy as we possibly can.
“The boss of EasyJet is right to focus on this issue, we’re going to see what we can do to make things as flexible and as affordable as possible.”
Scroll down for the latest travel updates.
Over 70 per cent of bookings for after July 1, says Inghams
According to data from travel company Inghams, the British public are paying heed to the continued cautions from the government: “Prior to yesterday’s government announcement, 73 per cent of Inghams summer 2021 bookings were for holidays taking place after July 1 2021. With 50 per cent being for August 1 2021 onwards. So, we think it’s likely that many people are responding to the government’s ongoing updates, by booking flexible holidays for later this summer.”
Joe Ponte, Inghams CEO commented:
We are still very disappointed for anyone hoping to plan their holiday with greater certainty today, but we look forward to taking people on holiday when the FCDO advises it is safe to do so.
Previously, we have seen high numbers choosing to postpone their holiday rather than cancel. We are delighted that our customers have continued to put their trust in us. Our Inghams’ summer 2022 programme is also currently on sale, and booking numbers are already really strong. People are clearly eager to enjoy the kinds of summer outdoor, mountain, lake, wellness, walking and cycling holidays we offer across Europe and Canada when restrictions are lifted.
Uncertainty over holidays abroad ‘beyond disappointing’
The travel industry has “once again been kicked down the road” after Prime Minister Boris Johnson warned against booking foreign summer holidays.
Speaking at a press briefing yesterday evening, Mr Johnson said he was hopeful “we can get going from May 17”, which is the earliest possible date for overseas leisure travel under the lockdown exit strategy, however his review document stated: “We are not yet in a position to confirm” May 17.
Continued uncertainty has been blasted as “beyond disappointing” by Clive Wratten, the chief executive of the Business Travel Association, who called for a “clear pathway”. He added: “To be a truly global Britain, we must lead the way in opening borders, supporting vital supply chains, and digitising health certification.”
Steve Norris of Flight Centre Travel Group said: “We had hoped today’s announcement would go further to provide the lifeboat we’ve been hoping for to get travel back on its feet”, adding “the travel industry cannot afford another summer of indecision and hesitancy”.
However, there are hopes it “still could be a strong summer” said Johan Lundgren, the chief executive of Easyjet, although “every day that goes that we don’t get clarity on the exact date makes it more challenging.”
Tell us about a favourite sweet treat from your travels for the chance to win an overnight stay worth £250 with England’s Coast
Have a sweet tooth and fancy a holiday? The cover story in Easter Sunday’s print edition was about chocolate fixes around the world. With this theme in mind, we’d like to hear about a favourite sweet treat from your travels. Tell us its name, its history, its cultural significance, where you tasted it and the ingredients that went into it, as well as how it tasted. Perhaps it was macarons in France, churros in Spain, pasteis de nata in Portugal or baklava in Turkey, or the less familiar brigadieros from Brazil or gulab jamun from India.
The reader who sends in the best entry wins an overnight stay for two people, worth £250.
‘Travel was first hit and is now last out of the crisis
James Bell, the managing director of Turquoise Holidays has told Telegraph Travel that he “can’t think of an industry so deeply affected by the pandemic.”
Travel was first hit and is now last out of the crisis, with our road as yet un-sign posted, badly lit and littered with traffic lights which are as likely to turn to red at a moment’s notice and remain so without logic or timeframe.
Ours is a complicated logistical business and, although I have sympathy with other businesses, preparing aircraft for flight and de-moth balling hotels takes time. I fear our road out will be littered with travel companies who hit terminal potholes created by uncertainty. If we are not going back and the road to opening commerce is one way, travel needs to be forefront of government planning; not left in the car park.
At The Turquoise Holidays Company demand is high, and interest is strong, but I can’t blame our customers for being nervous of committing. We as a company are doing everything in our power to give our clients security, flexibility and confidence…we know travel will return, and companies like ours will be ready to make people’s long held dreams a reality. But first we need clarity and time. We recorded our best ever March for bookings and the road ahead seemed clear, but once again we find ourselves braking hard and swerving to avoid the uncertainty. Our plans and our clients holiday dreams held up again.
Operator had ‘hoped there would be more clarity’
The reactions to Boris Johnson’s announcement on the resumption of international travel – or perhaps the lack of announcement – continue to come in.
Erin Johnson, the marketing director for Sovereign Luxury Travel, said:
The announcement from the Government was disappointing. We understand that the very fine details may not yet be known but we had hoped there would be more clarity on the much-reported traffic light scheme, enabling both us and our customers to plan ahead with more certainty.
We have seen an increase in bookings in recent weeks but the constant mixed messages coming through is damaging for consumer confidence. Customers need to know what is going to be required pre-departure and also on their return to the UK. The system last summer didn’t work. No one will book a trip to risk their destination being added to the red list while they’re abroad, and be faced with an enforced and expensive hotel quarantine stay at short notice.
Norwegian Cruise Line announces cruises for vaccinated passengers
Norwegian Cruise Line has revealed its planned to return to water this summer outside of the USA.
Norwegian Joy and Norwegian Gem will be based in the Caribbean while Norwegian Jade will sail from Athens.
Harry Sommer, the president and chief executive of Norwegian Cruise Line, said:
Over a year after we initially suspended sailings, the time has finally come when we can provide our loyal guests with the news of our great cruise comeback
We have been working diligently towards our resumption of operations, focusing on the guest experience with health and safety at the forefront. The growing availability of the Covid-19 vaccine has been a game changer. The vaccine, combined with our science-backed health and safety protocols, will help us provide our guests with what we believe will be the healthiest and safest vacation at sea.
All passengers and crew will be required to show proof of vaccination. Norwegian joins a handful of lines, including Cunard, Princess and P&O Cruises, in implementing a ‘no jabs, no sail’ policy.
Johnson hopeful over summer holidays
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said he has not “given up” on Britons flying abroad for summer holidays from mid-May, as it emerged most EU countries will be able to vaccinate the majority of their people by the end of June. Mr Johnson said he wanted international travel to start up again and to make it as easy as possible. He also raised the prospect of holidaymakers being able to use cheaper and faster Covid tests on their return to the UK.
The more upbeat message about foreign travel came as EU documents suggested Germany, France, Italy, Spain and the Netherlands will be in a position to fully inoculate more than 55 per cent of their total populations by the end of June, at least two months ahead of schedule.
On a visit to an AstraZeneca laboratory in Macclesfield on Tuesday, Mr Johnson said: “I do want to see international travel start up again.
“We have to be realistic – a lot of the destinations we want to go to at the moment are suffering a new wave of the illness, of Covid, as we know. We can’t do it immediately, but that doesn’t mean we’ve given up on May 17 when we’ll be saying as much as we can as soon as we can about international travel. I know how impatient people are to book their holidays if they possibly can. But we just have to be prudent at this stage.”
‘Crucial that travellers know that they won’t be left out of pocket’
Looking ahead to plans for international travel, Rory Boland, editor of Which? Travel, said:
The government’s plans to use a traffic light system to safely restart international travel will be welcome news to both industry and holidaymakers, but crucial details are still outstanding. With mandatory testing set to continue for all destinations, the cost of private tests mean millions risk being priced out of travel – so the government must urgently look at ways to reduce these costs before it reopens international travel.
With the government confirming countries will move between the red, amber and green lists, it is also crucial that travellers know that they won’t be left out of pocket when changes do take place. We’re likely to face a summer of further disruption as health situations fluctuate, so airlines and holiday companies should be upfront about the risks and the disruption their flexible booking policies do and don’t cover.
US and Gulf states on the green list?
Zadhim Zahawi, the vaccines minister, has hinted that Bahrain, Israel and the United States could be on the UK’s “green” list for travel after May 17.
Speaking at an event with the Bahraini and Israeli embassies this afternoon, Mr Zahawi was asked whether the two countries would feature on the list, since they both have strong vaccine rollouts.
“You’re going to have to wait and see,” he said. “But clearly there are a number of countries who have done tremendously well – not least Bahrain and Israel, of course – the United States of America, and others.
“But the Vaccine Taskforce is looking at exactly how we are going to move forward with reopening the skies effectively, which is really important.
“Part of that obviously is also making sure we operationalize the ability for our citizens to have a test certificate or a vaccination certificate, which the NHS is working on at the moment, so that we make sure that the protocols that we all adhere to are global, and can bring in other countries as they progress with vaccination immunisation of their nations as well.”
PM says it’s ‘right’ to focus on cost of Covid tests
Boris Johnson has responded to a call from the boss of Easyjet to allow people to use lateral flow tests – rather than more expensive PCR tests – as part of border requirements when returning from abroad.
In a document published on Monday night, the government said – when non-essential international travel is allowed – it will be based on a “traffic-light” system with those returning from “green” countries not needing to isolate on their return to the UK.
However, the document added “pre-departure and post-arrival tests would still be needed”.
Asked whether cheaper and more rapid lateral flow tests could be allowed to fulfil these testing requirements, the Prime Minister said: “I do think we want to make things as easy as we possibly can.
“I think the boss of Easyjet is right to focus on this issue. We’re going to see what we can do to make things as flexible and as affordable as possible.”
Seychelles relaxes rules on cruise ships
The Seychelles has dropped a ban on cruise ships, with “small, sustainable cruise ships with a maximum capacity of 300 passengers” allowed to dock in Port Victoria and sail in the island nation’s waters.
The decision comes less than a year after the Seychelles prohibited cruise ships from visiting, although ends eight months earlier than planned, having been due to expire at the end of 2021.
In a statement, the Seychelles’ tourism minister said that the government was “aware of the impact of cruise ships on the economy, and now further equipped with a deeper understanding of the global pandemic as well as ways and means to mitigate its spread” so felt comfortable to begin “the process to tentatively re-open Seychelles to cruise ship visitors”.
The smaller ships permitting to dock will “be on the luxury end attracting high-end clients with elevated spending power, thereby offering greater value addition,” the ministry added.
Green list in focus: Why the US should be first in the queue
The UK Government is contemplating its holiday ‘green list’, and USA should be top priority for inclusion, writes Simon and Susan Veness.
Rochelle Walensky might well be the most important person in America as far as Britain’s transatlantic holiday hopes this year are concerned.
The director of the USA’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a watershed report on April 2, indicating that the country’s top scientific health body is preparing to loosen the pandemic-enforced bonds on its US$233 billion international tourism industry.
That has put travel companies on both sides of the Atlantic on ‘green’ alert for the possible resumption of holidays to the US after more than a year of Covid-19 interruption.
Travel companies faced with escalating numbers of holiday deferral requests
Thomas Power, CEO and co-founder of Pura Aventura, a specialist in tailor-made trips to South America and Iberia, commented:
The impact of yesterday’s announcement is apparent in a jump in the number of holiday deferral requests we are faced with today. The peculiar frustration is that, for months, we have been told to expect an announcement from the travel working group on April 12.
Come Easter weekend, the government decides to pre-empt that report with a press conference which provides no relevant information, despite heavy hints to the contrary beforehand. With certainty in such short supply, sticking to the April 12 date would have been a welcome sign of stability for the travelling public.
‘Staycations going through the roof for summer holidays’
Phil Salcedo, Head of Market UK and North America for HolidayPirates commented:
While the traffic-light system has provided clarity in approach, it hasn’t given any confidence to people hoping to book an overseas holiday this summer. We’re continuing to see overseas searches for the autumn onwards but it’s staycations that are going through the roof for the summer holidays. Compared to 2019, when domestic travel accounted for 20 per cent, it’s now 40 percent of our business.
‘Asparagus picking in Suffolk taught me the value of living in the now’
Picking asparagus in Suffolk during lockdown gave actress Emily Head a fresh perspective on life:
Last March, my boyfriend and I took a holiday to my late grandmother’s cottage in Suffolk, just before I was set to film The Syndicate in Yorkshire. We arrived there with just enough clothes for a week’s holiday, and then lockdown happened.
I hadn’t visited since my grandmother passed away 10 years earlier, the thought of it had been too difficult. There were so many memories of summers there with mum, dad [actor Anthony Head] and my sister Daisy. It’s a dinky cottage in a village with a beautiful little garden and we’d row on the lake in Thorpeness, take walks in reed-filled Snape Marshes and wander around Framlingham Castle. My grandmother always thought I’d be bored but I absolutely loved imagining what it was like there centuries ago. When my grandmother passed, mum renovated the cottage and used it as a writer’s retreat. Ultimately what made me want to go back was that I wanted to share it with my boyfriend.
How to take a toddler on a ski holiday, on your own, and still have fun
An unheard-of ski resort in Austria proved to be the perfect destination for a mother looking for a short break on the slopes.
I’d heard rumours about the Austrian Kinderhotels group, with its bold goal of offering the perfect family holiday for both children and adults, and, keen to test it out, plumped for Hotel Bär in Serfaus.
Serfaus as a skiing destination had long been on my wish list. One of the many authentic villages in the Austrian Tirol that I hadn’t yet visited, it shares 162km of varied slopes with neighbouring Fiss and Ladis, including some seriously steep terrain that had caught my eye. That it manages to combine challenging runs with being one of the most genuinely family-friendly resorts in the Alps was a bonus I didn’t appreciate until we were there.
Our journey to Serfaus was a relative picnic. Another big plus in both the resort and the hotel’s favour is proximity to Innsbruck airport – the drive took just over an hour, on main roads until the last 10 minutes, meaning minimal winding roads to bring on Evie’s car sickness.
Government accused of ‘damaging’ approach to travel restart
James Mundy, the PR and partnerships manager of InsideJapan and Inside Asia, is encouraging people to book their holidays.
He told Telegraph Travel:
The lack of clarity over travel and the message from the government is not only disappointing, it is damaging. The one thing that the Travel industry, whether it be agents or tour operators, such as InsideJapan / InsideAsia, or even suppliers on the ground need right now, are the forward bookings. Although people cannot travel to our destinations at the moment, we know that one day in the not-too-distant future, they will open and people will travel.
We have very flexible booking policies in place which of course favour the traveller and further protection for them from bodies such as Aito and Abta. Although we have a large percentage of people keeping their bookings with us, the industry needs reassuring words from the Government right now. So whilst we cannot travel right now and we wait to see how travel ‘traffic lights’ turn out, people can still book and should be encouraged to do so.
‘The general public find the rules baffling’
Jo Carroll, who owns Winchcombe Farm Holidays, has told Telegraph Travel how the pandemic has affected her business, and how confidence is coming back ahead of the return of UK holidays.
Consumer confidence is high and we have massive surges of bookings whenever there is a Government announcement, giving people a light at the end of a very long tunnel.
We are anticipating a very busy summer, with July and August pretty much fully booked. However, the complex rules in place about whom and who can’t travel between April 12 and June 21 have been a nightmare to work through with our guests to make sure they, and we, are compliant. We’ve had to cancel and refund several group stays as they contravene with the Rule of Six or two households rule. Explaining why we can’t host a group of 8 teachers in one of our lodges for a weekend [it breaks to Rule of 6] when they all work together every day – using the same toilet and kitchen – is tricky.
I think it would be fair to say that the general public find the rules baffling – and we do too, as we welcome guests from Scotland and Wales – both of which have different rules to England.
Ms Carroll added: “We feel quietly confident about reopening on April 12 – although we still have a myriad of restrictions in place, which make trading difficult. The success of the vaccine rollout out, coupled with the uncertainty about foreign travel restrictions, should help the self-catering sector start to make up for some lost ground in the next few months.”
‘The traffic light system is underpinned by a fatal flaw and doomed to fail’
Before holidays resume, the Government must remove the lingering threat of hotel quarantine, writes Hugh Morris.
The long-trailed scheme will allocate each country a red, amber, or green label, with those arriving from the latter not required to isolate on return to the UK, and those wishing to travel to the former, not allowed. Anyone coming back from an amber country will be told to self-isolate or quarantine.
This is not news – we all knew about this, Prime Minister, though there were some murmurs there would be a fourth light (yellow), sort of like a filter lane – but there was a mumbled admission that countries will move from list to list depending on its data. Herein lies a fatal flaw of a plan intended to give travellers the certainty required to book a trip they so crave.
What is to say that your destination won’t turn from green to amber after you’ve booked? It is possible then that a tour operator won’t take you if infection rates are such that they cannot deliver on the holiday as booked (or is a risk to their own operations and/or insurance). At least then you will have your trip moved or refunded, as governed by Atol protection secured by booking a package holiday.
But what is to say that it won’t switch from green to red in the time it takes to get there? Your options will be to abandon the trip early to beat the quarantine cut off or extend your holiday on return for 10 days in a Government-mandated hotel cell for £1,750.
Jump in flight services after Aus-NZ bubble news
Following confirmation of a two-way ‘travel bubble’ between Australia and New Zealand, airlines from both countries have said they will ramp up flights between the pair.
Air New Zealand and Qantas expects flights to be at 70 per cent or more of the pre-pandemic levels.
Prior to the countries shutting their borders, Australia was New Zealand’s largest tourism market. However Virgin Atalantic confirmed today that they will not be offering New Zealand services until at least the end of October 2021.
‘Vaccine passports’ not required for travel, says WHO
The World Health Organisation has said it does not back requiring vaccination passports for entry or exit into countries.
This is due to uncertainty over whether inoculation prevents transmission of the virus, as well as equity concerns, a spokeswoman said today, according to Reuters.
And on The Telegraph’s live politics blog: Opposition to ‘discriminatory’ vaccine passports grows as Labour hints it will vote against them 
Testing regime means holidays for the rich, says EasyJet boss
Requiring holidaymakers returning from low-risk countries to pay for two coronavirus tests will only reopen international travel “for people who can afford it”, the boss of easyJet has warned.
Chief executive Johan Lundgren claimed passengers should not face “more complexities and cost” for visiting “green” destinations.
On Monday, the Government unveiled the outline of a traffic light system for enabling overseas leisure travel to resume as part of the easing of coronavirus restrictions. Travellers returning from countries rated “green” will not be required to self-isolate, although pre-departure and post-arrival tests will still be needed.
Mr Lundgren said: “It should not be needed to put any more complexities and cost in order to travel to and from those destinations.”
Spain statistics show cost of tourism slump
Tourist arrivals to Spain plummeted 93 per cent in the year from February 2020 as visitors stayed away from bars and beaches in what is usually the world’s second most visited country, according to Reuters.
International tourism plunged 80 per cent to 19 million visitors last year due to coronavirus restrictions – the lowest figure since 1969.
That trend continued in the first two months of 2021, data from the National Statistics Institute showed on Tuesday, in further bad news for a country that used to get over a 10th of its gross domestic product from tourism.
Spain received 284,311 foreign tourists in February, 34.6 per cent less than in January. Estimates from the Funcas think tank show the tourism sector’s contribution to Spain’s economy slumped to between 4-5 per cent last year from around 12 per cent in 2019, jeopardising many businesses.
Put US and Israel on the green list, says Virgin Atlantic boss
The chief executive of Virgin Atlantic believes destinations that should be on the “green” list for international travel from May 17 include the US, Israel and the Caribbean.
Shai Weiss said the US is “vaccinating over three million people per day”, Israel is “the world’s leading vaccinated country”, and the Caribbean “has done an awesome job throughout this pandemic of keeping things under control”.
He added: “I think these three areas should be on that list.”Speaking at a joint press conference, Heathrow chief executive John Holland-Kaye said the United Arab Emirates could be included as “they also have very high levels of vaccination”.
He went on: “There are plenty of long-haul countries which have low Covid levels, and many of them have high vaccination levels also.”
‘Vaccine passport concept not new’
On the issue of vaccine passports, the Government’s former chief scientific adviser Professor Sir Mark Walport told the BBC that “the concept of the vaccine passport is actually not new”.
“There are a number of countries in the world that require a yellow fever certificate of vaccination in your passport if they’re going to let you into the country. So there isn’t anything new here and it will not be any one country that takes decisions about vaccine certification for travelling overseas.”
Speaking of Scotland…
Perhaps you fancy discovering some Scottish gems from the water? Going ‘over the sea to Skye’ has improved a great deal since the days of Bonnie Prince Charlie, writes Dave Monk.
It is just one of the Scottish islands served by a flotilla of cruise boats – none carrying more than 12 passengers – whose crew will pamper you as you explore the rugged landscape and tranquil bays. Make sure to book quickly – cruises can sell out a year in advance.
Why Scotland should be your first island break of 2021
As restrictions begin to ease, hiking routes on Scotland’s magical isles – from Eigg and Orkney to Harris and Tiree – await, writes Mark Rowe.
Take a walk on a Scottish island and the experience is quite different to anything else the UK has to offer. There really is nothing like it; stroll over a moorland brow and gaze down upon your hiking kingdom, where peaks incise the skyline like a cardiogram, or softer, rounded hills shelter a loch or valley where birdsong carries a penetratingly stirring quality.
Chances are you will spot a charismatic animal, whether that be a red deer, an otter or a white-tailed sea eagle. And while the landscape may, at first glance, be empty, you will soon pick out small clumps of woodland, a lochan catching the first of the day’s sunlight, or a distant township, its buildings resembling blocks of Lego dropped from the sky.
Chile shuts border for full month
Chileis keeping its borders shut for the entire month of April to try and deal with a rise in coronavirus cases while at the same time seeking to speed up its vaccination campaign.
The measure was announced by the South American nation’s government last week as Chile recorded its highest daily infection rate of 7,830 since the pandemic began.
The country has passed the mark of one million reported infections, with more than 23,000 deaths recorded since March 2020.
Mapped: The countries accepting vaccine passports this summer
Boris Johnson has confirmed that when foreign travel opens up restrictions will be set according to a traffic light system under which countries will be rated red, amber or green, according to their risk. A country’s risk will be decided based on the proportion of the population that have been vaccinated, its infection rates, the prevalence of variants of concern and its capacity to sequence their genomes.
Vaccinated Britons may be able to sidestep restrictions for “amber” countries on their return home, write Emma Featherstone and Greg Dickinson.
Julia Lo Bue-Said, the chief executive at Advantage Travel Partnership, isn’t happy with how the Government is handling the resumption of international travel.
‘Death by back-stabbing’
The Government has ignored the travel sector and “treated us as if we don’t exist”, according to the chairman of the Association of Independent Tour Operators (Aito).
Despite feeling “reasonably encouraged things were going in the right direction” when the Prime Minister spoke last night, Chris Rowles branded Government guidance not to book holidays abroad yet as “death by back-stabbing”.
He added: “Aito’s 200-plus specialist holiday companies and travel agents, along with plenty of other travel businesses that sell overseas travel, have been left to rot by this deceitful and simply uncaring government.”
Mr Rowles urged the Government to offer financial support to the beleagured industry.
‘Strong interest’ in potential green-listed countries
According to data from travel comparison site Skyscanner, there is week-on-week growth in those looking to travel internationally.
The website said that patterns from 2020 show travellers closely follow Government guidance and booking behaviour “responds accordingly” – and they expect a similar situation to destinations on the travel ‘green list’.
Martin Nolan, a consumer rights travel expert, said:
We know that many people are poised and ready to book long-awaited trips as soon as the details on the new traffic light system are made available. Our most recent data shows strong interest in many potential green list countries and we hope to see additional clarity soon to help both travellers and travel providers plan appropriately for the summer and future travel.
Should I book a summer holiday now, or wait? Two experts go head to head
The Prime Minister has once again urged people to hold fire on booking summer holidays abroad, saying yesterday he was hopeful they could go ahead from May 17 but that it was “still too soon to know what is possible”.
So what should you do, if you are contemplating booking a summer holiday abroad? Telegraph Travel’s Nick Trend and Paul Charles of The PC Agency debate the pros and cons of booking now, or playing the waiting game.
PM disappoints travel industry
The chief executive of the Airport Operators Association, Karen Dee, said she was “disappointed” that the prime minister “continues to suggest significant barriers to international travel and may push back the date of restart beyond 17 May”.
She said a “risk-based, proportionate system” could “open up aviation without quarantine and with affordable, rapid testing”.
Will cruise holidays make a comeback in 2021, and where will we be able to go?
After a year without passengers, ocean cruising is gearing up to return to water. Dave Monk has the details.
After a year in which Britons have hardly been able to travel abroad, cruising is coming back – but starting close to home. P&O Cruises, Princess and Cunard are among more than a dozen lines that have announced they are scrapping overseas itineraries until late summer and replacing them with round-Britain cruises.
Maritime Minister Robert Courts has given the go-ahead for cruising in home waters to return as early as May 17. Advice from the Foreign Office still warns against travelling internationally on ocean-going cruise ships, though the Department of Transport has confirmed this will not apply to UK voyages. In Europe, some domestic cruises are sailing but there is no indication yet when Britons might be welcomed back on board. And there’s also the issue of whether vaccinations will be required to board.
BA chief ‘optimistic’ about May 17 restart
Despite Prime Minister Boris Johnson warning that it’s too early to book holidays abroad, the chief executive of British Airways is more positive.
Sean Doyle said: “We are optimistic that travel can resume on 17 May, and the British public should not lose hope, and we remain optimistic that this will happen.”
He added that he expects many countries to be added to the UK’s “green list” when a traffic light system is introduced for travel.
Traffics lights and travel
A holiday ‘traffic light system’ will hopefully make foreign holidays possible again. Here’s how it could work.
Airline sees ‘strong demand’ for holidays
Jet2.com and Jet2holidays have confirmed that they are waiting for further detail about the Government’s plans to allow overseas holidays before changing their plans to return to service in May.
A spokesman said:
We are pleased that the UK Government has once again demonstrated a clear ambition to reopen international travel this summer. We look forward to more detail and clarity, once the Global Travel Taskforce publishes its final report.
We know how much our customers want to get away to enjoy their well-deserved holidays in the sunshine. We have a huge range of hotspots and leisure city destinations on sale from across our network of UK bases for Summer 21, and we have seen strong demand for our ATOL protected package holidays and leisure flights since the Prime Minister said that a Global Travel Taskforce would put forward a report on how to return to international travel. At one stage, bookings rose by more than 1,000 per cent and we have added flights and holidays to a number of destinations across the Mediterranean and Canary Islands this summer in response to demand.
What does the latest government announcement mean for our summer holidays?
Nick Trend has the latest information following the Government’s announcement on April 5.
To the huge frustration of holidaymakers and the travel industry in general, the Prime Minister is still unable to tell us for sure where or when we will be able to travel abroad again. Foreign holidays remain illegal until at least May 17 and Boris Johnson has reconfirmed official advice not to book such holidays “until the picture is clearer.”
This leaves hundreds of thousands of travellers who have bookings for family holidays during the Whitsun half term break (the first week of June) in deep uncertainty and many more unsure as to whether their summer holidays will be able to go ahead. The Prime Minister was also unable to tell us how much notice would be given for the resumption of international travel, though he did say that the Government’s Global Travel Taskforce publishes will be reporting “later this week”, so we may know more then.
Youth affected by travel uncertainty
In response to Boris Johnson’s press conference, Sam Willan, the UK general manager at online travel agency StudentUniverse, said:
We are very disappointed with the lack of detail and clarity about the resumption of international travel in today’s announcement. While the news of a traffic light system and combined vaccine and testing regime is promising, there’s still not enough information for consumers to be confident in travelling abroad this summer.
From a youth perspective, this is going to further delay the almost 40,000 British students who are waiting to head off on valuable study abroad programmes. These educational experiences are highly regarded by British employers and should be considered just as important as business or essential travel. The international student and youth travel market is worth £25bn each year to the UK alone – a significant market that cannot continue to be left in the dark about their travel plans. We urge the government to share much more detail as soon as possible, so that young people have time to consider their travel and education options for 2021.
Clarification needed on travel restart
Paul Charles, the chief executive of The PC Agency travel consultancy, is hoping for further details on travel from the Government this week
Australia and New Zealand confirm travel bubble
New Zealand has approved quarantine-free travel with Australia, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has announced today, completing a two-way corridor for travel between the largely Covid-free neighbours.
It will start at 11.59pm local time on April 18, and comes more than a year after New Zealand closed its doors in the face of the coronavirus pandemic and six months after Australia allowed New Zelanders to fly into selected states without the need to quarantine.
“I very much appreciate the arrangement the New Zealand government has come to today,” Australia Prime Minister Scott Morrison told a press conference.
“We welcome them back as indeed Kiwis will be welcoming Aussies.”
Don’t book foreign summer holidays yet, warns Boris Johnson
Britons should not book summer holidays yet as the ban on foreign travel may not be lifted on May 17 because of the risk of importing Covid variants, Boris Johnson has warned.
His review of global travel, published on Monday, said it was hoped it would be possible for people to take a summer holiday overseas this year but warned that it was “still too soon to know what is possible” and that the reopening of foreign travel could be delayed beyond the middle of May.
The review confirmed that the ban, when lifted, will be replaced by a traffic light system in which quarantine at home will be scrapped for “green” countries and replaced by tests that holidaymakers will have to pay for pre-departure and on arrival back in the UK. Quarantine remains for “amber” and “red” countries.
Mr Johnson’s roadmap out of restrictions originally proposed that foreign travel could restart from May 17 “at the earliest” – but since then much of Europe has been plunged into a third wave of the Covid pandemic, accompanied by a surge in Covid variants and low vaccination rates.
Key points from the roadmap reviews
Alongside the announcement by Boris Johnson, the Government has released a review of the roadmap, including updates on the future of international holidays.
Here’s a glimpse at six of the key points:
- ‘For the moment, the Government advises people not to book summer holidays abroad until the picture is clearer.’
- ‘Given the state of the pandemic abroad, and the progress of vaccination programmes in other countries, we are not yet in a position to confirm that non-essential international travel can resume from that point.’
- ‘When non-essential international travel does return it will do so with a risk-based “traffic light” system.’
- ‘This will add to our current system a new green category with no isolation requirement on return to the UK – although pre-departure and post-arrival tests would still be needed.’
- ‘It is too early to say which countries will be on the green list when non-essential international travel resumes. These decisions will be driven by the data and evidence nearer the time, which we cannot predict now.’
- ‘The Global Travel Taskforce will publish its report, setting out more details on this system, later this week.’
EasyJet CEO criticises ‘travel restart’ testing requirements
The chief executive of airline EasyJet has criticised some of the government’s plans to restart travel, saying Covid-19 tests should not be required for passengers travelling to low-risk destinations.
Britain’s airlines and travel industry were left disappointed by Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s warning on Monday that it was too soon to say when international holidays could resume, meaning the re-opening could be pushed later than the current date of May 17.
EasyJet chief executive Johan Lundgren said on Tuesday that there were a lot of details missing from the previous day’s announcement. He said the government’s proposed traffic light system of ranking low risk countries as green and higher risk countries as red made sense, but travel to green countries should not require passengers to take two Covid-19 tests.
“That doesn’t make sense for me…because this could add to cost and complexities,” he told BBC Radio. He said the cost of Covid-19 tests sometimes exceeded EasyJet’s ticket prices. “That means that you wouldn’t open up international travel for everyone, you would open up for those who could afford to pay it,” he said.
Welcome to Tuesday
Here’s a reminder of the main headlines from Monday.
- ‘Britons should not yet book summer holidays’
- When non-essential international travel does return it will do so with a risk-based ‘traffic light’ system
- One-dose vaccine could open up ‘amber list’ holidays to young Britons
- Self-catering holidays can resume in England on April 12
- Tougher border controls needed to counter ‘real risk’ of Covid variant from Europe
- Italy reduces quarantine for UK travellers
- Masks won’t be required while sunbathing on Balearic Islands
Follow us here today for the latest travel news.
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