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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.”
Scroll down for the latest travel updates.
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.
- ^ When can I go on holiday? (www.telegraph.co.uk)
- ^ Which countries could be ‘green’? (www.telegraph.co.uk)
- ^ How far can I travel in the UK right now? (www.telegraph.co.uk)
- ^ Sign up to the Telegraph Travel newsletter (www.telegraph.co.uk)
- ^ 10:54AM (www.telegraph.co.uk)
- ^ Chile’s rapid vaccination programme hit by new virus surge in warning to UK (www.telegraph.co.uk)
- ^ 10:46AM (www.telegraph.co.uk)
- ^ Countries waiving quarantine (cf-particle-html.eip.telegraph.co.uk)
- ^ The countries accepting vaccine passports this summer (www.telegraph.co.uk)
- ^ 10:38AM (www.telegraph.co.uk)
- ^ April 5, 2021 (twitter.com)
- ^ 10:34AM (www.telegraph.co.uk)
- ^ 10:21AM (www.telegraph.co.uk)
- ^ 10:15AM (www.telegraph.co.uk)
- ^ Read their head-to-head here (www.telegraph.co.uk)
- ^ 10:07AM (www.telegraph.co.uk)
- ^ Don’t book foreign summer holidays yet, warns Boris Johnson (www.telegraph.co.uk)
- ^ 10:04AM (www.telegraph.co.uk)
- ^ So where – and when – will we be able to sail? (www.telegraph.co.uk)
- ^ 10:01AM (www.telegraph.co.uk)
- ^ 9:57AM (www.telegraph.co.uk)
- ^ Travel Traffic Lights (cf-particle-html.eip.telegraph.co.uk)
- ^ Which countries will be green, amber and red in the new holiday traffic light system? (www.telegraph.co.uk)
- ^ 9:48AM (www.telegraph.co.uk)
- ^ 9:40AM (www.telegraph.co.uk)
- ^ Find out more here (www.telegraph.co.uk)
- ^ 9:35AM (www.telegraph.co.uk)
- ^ For millennials like me, ‘vaccine passports’ would be another kick in the teeth (www.telegraph.co.uk)
- ^ 9:25AM (www.telegraph.co.uk)
- ^ April 5, 2021 (twitter.com)
- ^ 9:21AM (www.telegraph.co.uk)
- ^ 9:17AM (www.telegraph.co.uk)
- ^ How the Kent variant has put holidays in Europe in doubt (cf-particle-html.eip.telegraph.co.uk)
- ^ 9:15AM (www.telegraph.co.uk)
- ^ Charles Hymas has the latest details (www.telegraph.co.uk)
- ^ 9:13AM (www.telegraph.co.uk)
- ^ 9:08AM (www.telegraph.co.uk)
- ^ 9:01AM (www.telegraph.co.uk)
- ^ 8:45AM (www.telegraph.co.uk)