The long-awaited shift has been welcomed by those in the travel industry. Julia Lo Bue-Said, chief executive of the Advantage Travel Partnership, described the decision as “a major game changer” for the beleaguered travel sector, with Paul Charles, chief executive of The PC Agency travel consultancy, labelling it as “brilliant news”.
The new policy will end the 18-month ban on people arriving from the UK, with the easing of restrictions also applying to those travelling from the European Union.
The announcement comes just after Prime Minister Boris Johnson arrived in New York to attend the UN General Assembly before a visit to the White House.
Currently those who have been in the UK in the previous 14 days can only enter the United States for work or study, if you are an American citizen, married to a US citizen or are a green card holder.
Sean Doyle, British Airways CEO and Chairman, has praised the announcement of the relaxation in US-UK travel rules:
Today’s news, which will see our two nations reunited after more than 18 months apart, marks an historic moment and one which will provide a huge boost to Global Britain as it emerges from this pandemic.
We are immensely grateful to the Prime Minister and his Government for all the hard work that’s gone into securing this deal with the US, and which builds upon last Friday’s announcement on the lifting of many travel restrictions. Our customers should now feel that the world is re-opening to them and they can book their trips with confidence.
‘Major milestone’ to the reopening of travel at scale
The US government’s plans to allow travellers from Britain to enter is a “major milestone to the reopening of travel at scale” according to Shai Weiss, the chief executive of Virgin Atlantic.
And it will allow customers, as well as businesses, to book travel to the US with confidence, he added.
Mr Weiss said:
As the UK forges its recovery from the pandemic, the reopening of the transatlantic corridor and the lifting of Presidential Order 212F acknowledges the great progress both nations have made in rolling out successful vaccine programmes. The UK will now be able to strengthen ties with our most important economic partner, the US, boosting trade and tourism as well as reuniting friends, families and business colleagues. We are thankful to the UK Government, the Biden administration and our industry partners for their collaboration.
The US has been our heartland for more than 37 years since our first flight to New York City in 1984. We are simply not Virgin without the Atlantic. After 18 months of uncertainty, we cannot wait to welcome our customers back onboard, flying them safety to their favourite US destination.
Why the future is bright for river cruise holidays
European river voyages are seeing a surge in demand – now is the time to take advantage of ‘exceptional’ deals, writes Benjamin Parker.
When holidays on the water returned in summer 2020, it was river cruising in Europe that gently led the way – vessels comfortingly hugging the banks, elegantly weaving down the continent’s waterways as its great cities and sights unfurled ahead.
In many ways, the river cruise has been pandemic-proof. Although measures to halt infections have been introduced, they’re not very different to what you’d find on land. And while some ocean-going ships have installed medical centres with mass testing facilities on board, river boats have no need to confront the problem on that scale. Suspected cases of coronavirus can be dealt with swiftly and simply, taking a passenger off the ship to be treated on land (and the cruise experience is cosseting: lines differ but you can rest easy you won’t be abandoned on the towpath).
It was with all this in mind that I embarked upon my inaugural river cruise earlier this year. Accustomed to hulking great ocean liners, it was the speed which first struck me. You’re travelling, yes, but you’re getting nowhere fast.
Reaction: WTTC welcomes change to US travel policy
The president and CEO of the World Travel and Tourism Council has welcomed a change in America’s border restrictions.
Julia Simpson said:
The prospect of the U.S. lifting travel restrictions to restore transatlantic travel between the UK and US is welcome news – not just for hard-pressed airlines but for the wider travel and tourism sector, which has been decimated by Covid-19.
It will finally enable families to reunite, business travellers to resume face-to-face meetings and for mass travel and tourism to return for Brits looking to travel to America. The UK alone represents eight per cent of all inbound travel to the US, accounting for US$40 million per day to the nation’s economy.
WTTC has long-been calling for the U.S. to reopen and our research shows that by opening its borders to key markets such as the UK, it will pump US$198 million back into the US economy every single day.
WTTC strongly advocates for fully vaccinated travellers to be able to travel freely and safely, and for unvaccinated travellers to be able to do so with testing, alongside enhanced health and safety protocols.
Reaction is coming in on the news that people from the UK will be able to travel to the US later this year.
Clive Wratten, chief executive of the Business Travel Association, said:
The re-opening of international travel between the UK and the US is long overdue. Today’s reported announcement from President Biden gives the whole travel industry light at the end of a very dark tunnel.
We have been calling for this for many months. Waiting until November harms businesses on both sides of the Atlantic. Once travel between the two countries resumes, it must be on a permanent basis.
‘Thanks to draconian travel rules I haven’t seen my parents in 18 months’
The UK Government still does not recognise vaccines issued in dozens of countries, which leaves people like Melissa Twigg unable to see her family.
Insisting that everyone who hasn’t been jabbed in either the EU, the US, Canada, or a handful of Asian and Caribbean countries is unvaccinated seems unnecessary and even xenophobic.
We are also outliers in approaching vaccination programmes this way. Nearly every other country sets its rules according to which vaccine you’ve had, not where it went into your arm. Across the EU, you’re considered vaccinated if you’ve had Pfizer, Moderna or most types of AstraZeneca, no matter where you live. In the UK, we seem to believe vaccines stop working once you cross certain borders.
My parents are good examples of this. They got double jabbed with Pfizer in May in Cape Town under an official government programme – and they also caught and recovered from Covid-19 last year. They are classified as unvaccinated in the UK, but virtually nowhere else.
Holiday bookings soar after plans to axe traffic light system announced
Travel companies are reporting a huge jump in bookings following the latest travel announcement, which will see the much-maligned traffic light system scrapped.
Skyscanner reported a 103 per cent increase in bookings on Friday, when Transport Secretary Grant Shapps revealed the changes, compared to the previous week, and a spokesman said that they were “continuing to see the numbers go up throughout the weekend.”
Martin Nolan, Skyscanner’s traveller expert said: “It’s clear from our most recent booking figures that travellers are delighted with the latest travel news, not just for holidays and leisure travel, but also for those who will now be able to be reunited with loved ones abroad.”
TravelSupermaket reported similar trends, with demand for late summer trips to European hotspots – Spain, Greece, Cyprus and Portugal – among the most popular. Turkey, which will be removed from the red list on Wednesday, has leapt to become the website’s second-most searched for destination.
The firm cited the change in testing requirements, and subsequent savings, as another factor in demand for holidays.
Elsewhere Thomas Cook reported a 200 per cent rise in half term bookings following the announcement, with chief executive Alan French expecting it to increase further. Jet2.com and Jet2holidays said they have seen “an immediate and massive surge in bookings”.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has insisted the UK’s aviation sector will “absolutely” reclaim its pre-pandemic status.
His remarks follow claims by airlines and airports that the government’s quarantine and testing rules have restricted their recovery from the virus crisis. Heathrow, which was Europe’s busiest airport in 2019, is now in 10th place behind rivals in cities such as Amsterdam and Paris.
Quizzed over whether the sector would recover, Mr Shapps replied: “It will. Absolutely.”
Mr Shapps said new rules for international travel announced last week would bring the country towards “the more normal world of travel, which is that when you’re fully vaccinated you will be able to travel”. But he said: “That relies on other countries doing the same thing.”
Industry body Airlines UK says the UK’s aviation network was behind only the US and China before the COVID pandemic.
Reaction: Sri Lanka ‘desperately’ wants British tourists back
In response to the news that Sri Lanka will be taken off the red list this week, Hiran Cooray, a director of Jetwing Hotels, told Telegraph Travel:
The travel industry celebrated after Friday as if Sri Lanka had won the Cricket World Cup. We so desperately want our beloved British travellers back to revive tourism once again.
We are applying pressure on the Sri Lankan government to ease measures on the island and expect further relaxation by early October. Even now the process is not too difficult to handle even for those who book directly. All one requires is to be double jabbed, present a PCR test on arrival and have travel insurance. With a negative result a guest is good to go anywhere he or she wishes.
Sri Lanka’s tourism industry is planning a major promotion in the key markets – needless to say, Britain is in the top three. Our focus will be on sustainability, wellness, and the great experiences we have created. Our magical five-star island will be positioned once again to welcome discerning travellers. We are oozing with excitement to kick off tourism again
British holidaymakers travelling with children will have welcomed the news that foreign travel rules will become simpler and cheaper next month. Families have faced hundreds of pounds in testing costs for trips abroad since the ban on non-essential overseas trips was lifted on May 17.
Crucially, the costs of overseas breaks for families with children will be much reduced when both the pre-departure tests have been scrapped and day two PCR tests replaced with lateral flow tests come the end of October.
But there has been some confusion over the rules for children, specifically about whether those aged 12 and over would have to self-isolate for 10 days and take the tests that an unvaccinated traveller would be required to.
Thomas Cook: ‘This was our best weekend this year’
“This was our best weekend [for bookings] this year,” a Thomas Cook spokesperson has told The Telegraph, in the wake of Friday’s travel announcement. “Bookings are at least 10 per cent up on the weekend in May (the previous biggest) that the traffic light system was announced, and more than double the previous weekends.”
Here are a few more booking trends from the package holiday specialist:
“About a third of our bookings are for half term, and Canaries is the most popular. We’re also seeing a return of city breaks, with 15 per cent of our bookings taken this weekend for short breaks to Paris, Dublin, Amsterdam, Krakow and Rome among others.
“Greece is still proving popular and has been our star performer, but people are also now booking Turkey and Egypt as well as looking ahead to Christmas and New Year.
“Prior to last week, about a quarter of our bookings were for the next fortnight (and a third for summer 2022) but now it’s much more spread across the typical three-month booking window as clearly people feel more confident that the new rules are not going to change.
“There are still some great deals [available], particularly in Greece, Balearics and Portugal where there is more flying available.”
France to review extension of health pass requirement
The French government’s cabinet will review on October 13 a draft bill allowing it to extend, if necessary, the country’s Covid health pass requirement beyond November 15, said a source close to Prime Minister Jean Castex today.
The pass proves the holder has had the Covid vaccine or has recently tested negative for Covid or recovered from the illness in the last six months, thereby allowing the holder to enter the likes of bars and restaurants and sports venues.
A fourth wave of the virus, which first hit France this summer, is starting to recede but the government has nevertheless kept many measures, including the health pass, in place as schools reopened three weeks ago.
Asked today about the draft bill, Health Minister Olivier Veran told BFM television: “The law allows us to require the health pass until November 15. After that we need to have a law that, without forcing us to use that tool, allows us to use it if the situation requires it.”
Nationwide demonstrations broke out in France in August by those opposed to the health pass, although the numbers of protesters have gradually fallen in recent weeks.
The Canaries volcano is a ‘wonderful show’, says minister
The Canary Islands are safe to visit and a volcano eruption there is a “wonderful show”, Spanish Tourism Minister Reyes Maroto said this morning, just hours after 5,000 people – including hundreds of tourists – had to be evacuated.
The volcano erupted on Sunday, spouting lava hundreds of metres into the air, engulfing houses and sending molten rock towards the Atlantic Ocean across a sparsely populated area of La Palma, the most northwestern island in the archipelago.
“The island is open,” Maroto told Canal Sur radio, calling the eruption “a wonderful show”.
“There are no restrictions on going to the island… on the contrary, we’re passing on the information so tourists know they can travel to the island and enjoy something unusual, see it for themselves,” she said.
Maroto’s remarks drew immediate criticism from Teodoro Garcia Egea, secretary general of the opposition People’s Party, who posted an article on Twitter quoting the minister and asked: “Can someone confirm the minister said that while hundreds of people are losing everything they have?”
Approximately 360 tourists were evacuated from a resort in La Palma following the eruption and taken to the nearby island of Tenerife by boat on Monday, a spokesperson for ferry operator Fred Olsen said.
Another 180 tourists could be evacuated from La Palma later in the day. See below [11:48 post] for pictures of the eruption.
How me and my banned AZ vaccine fared on a Swiss mini-break
Despite knowing that her vaccine pass could be redundant on a holiday to Geneva, Susie Mesure decided to see what would happen anyway.
The trouble started later that day when, after a swim in the new-to-me Plage des Eaux-Vives, a public bathing spot that opened in 2020 just along from Geneva’s Jet d’Eau, we fancied popping to the Musee d’Art et d’Histoire. We thought we’d take advantage of Thursday’s late night opening and see how Ferdinand Hodler, one of Switzerland’s most famous artists and one of my friend’s favourite painters, had captured Lake Geneva on canvas, but the new Swiss rules thought otherwise.
“CERTIFICAT COVID OBLIGATOIRE,” warned a poster of a stern-looking Photoshopped dame, holding a Swiss Covid pass. As I had neither the right pass nor the equally obligatory ID card on me, I wasn’t hopeful of getting past the museum guard, who couldn’t have been more helpful. He tried, in order of decreasing optimism: the NHS barcode that proved I’d had two doses of AstraZeneca; the Swiss certificate I’d downloaded even though the “signature” was “invalid” due to my vaccine, which hasn’t been authorised for use here; and the French #TousAntiCovid app, which he’d figured was worth a try. Nothing worked.
He logged into the Geneva canton website to see if there was a way round the situation while the Swiss authorities decided if and how to accept the British-administered AZ vaccine. Upshot: I could write to someone or other but it would take them “10 to 15 days” to reply. We left, making do instead with the Henry Moore sculpture reclining on the grass opposite the museum.
Universal Studios’ Beijing resort opened its doors to the public today after a two-decade wait, including delays because of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The park will be Universal’s largest and its fifth resort globally, featuring areas dedicated to franchises like Kung Fu Panda and Harry Potter, and grants Beijing a major branded theme park to rival the Disney resorts in Shanghai and Hong Kong.
One Universal Studios employee told Reuters that visitor numbers were being capped at around 10,000 on Monday because of the pandemic, but said the park has the capacity for many more.
Sweeping plans by Britain’s biggest airport to raise fees for flights outside Europe leave airlines apoplectic, reports Oliver Gill.
Against a backdrop of Heathrow falling down the rankings of Europe’s busiest airports combined with huge debt levels, its officials have forged ahead with plans for sweeping changes to airport charges next year, despite regulatory opposition.
A 40-page document, seen by The Telegraph, has left airline executives apoplectic. “They are insane,” says an insider at one of Heathrow’s biggest airlines. “It’s just obnoxious.”
Holland-Kaye, Echave and the rest of Heathrow’s management board remain under extreme pressure from shareholders to squeeze the airlines for money. The airport has avoided defaulting on its mammoth debt pile by gaining waivers on lenders. The fear is, however, that bondholders’ patience will only last so long.
Under the proposals, landing charges for flights to destinations outside of Europe will almost double in 2022 from £38.33 per passenger this year to £67.86.
Low-cost airline EasyJet plans to add 51,000 seats to departures from the UK after seeing bookings soar after a change in England’s travel rules.
As the Telegraph reported on Friday, fully vaccinated travellers will no longer be required to take a pre-departure test to return to the UK from non-red list countries (from October 4). The amber list has been scrapped and eight countries have been removed from the red list.
Flight bookings for the late summer season increased significantly as soon as the announcement was made on Friday, with beach resorts among top destinations for this autumn and travel in October proving most popular.
Sophie Dekkers, chief commercial officer for EasyJet, said:
Every time restrictions have been relaxed or removed we have seen pent up demand and this is no exception. We have seen a huge surge in bookings since the move by the government to disband the traffic light system, take away the pre-departure test and remove popular summer sun destinations from the Red list.
With Brits scrambling for last-minute summer sun, particularly over the October half term, we are putting on even more flights to the most popular beach hot spots to serve this added demand.
Thousands flee as lava spews from volcano on Spain’s La Palma island
Authorities have evacuated about 5,000 people from villages in the Spanish Canary Island of La Palma as lava spews from an erupting volcano, local officials said.
The 15-meter high lava flow has already swallowed 20 houses in the village of El Paso and sections of roads, Mayor Sergio Rodriguez told TVE radio station on Monday morning.
It is now spreading through the neighbouring village of Los Llanos de Aridane where hundreds of houses are at risk, he said. “We are monitoring the trajectory of the lava,” Rodriguez said.
Since erupting on Sunday afternoon, the volcano has shot lava up hundreds meters into the air and poured flows of molten rock towards the Atlantic Ocean over a sparsely populated area of La Palma, the most northwestern island in the Canaries archipelago.
Turkish travel agencies expect at least 200,000 British tourists to visit the country before the end of the year as the country is removed from the UK Government’s red list, according to the Hürriyet Daily News.
“We had expected this decision long ago. Some tour agencies in anticipation of this move had already been booking Turkey holidays,” said the Association of Turkish Travel Agencies in a statement.
The association said that there will be a school break in the UK in September and that there is strong demand from British holidaymakers.
Confidence returning for long-haul travel, says tour operator
Luxury tour operator ScottDunn has told Telegraph Travel that it saw 110 per cent increase in enquiries over the weekend following the travel announcement, compared to the previous weekend.
Popular destinations included Canada, Egypt, Namibia, Oman, Tanzania, the UAE, Peru and the Maldives.
Sonia Davies, the travel firm’s chief executive, said:
We are delighted with the changes announced to the traffic light policy as well as the reduction in the size of the red list. This is another step forward to support the travel and tourism sector in the UK and also for destinations such as Oman, Sri Lanka and the Maldives which are so heavily reliant on tourism, and where UK tourists are traditionally one of their key markets. It is now imperative that [Foreign Office] advice will also be aligned with these changes.
She added: “It’s great to see confidence in bookings coming back, especially for long-haul destinations and we look forward to more countries being removed from the red list over the next few weeks.”
The cruises that prove the best of the Med can be found after summer
From island hopping in Croatia to exploring the Holy Land, there’s no better tonic than a cruise on the big blue as we slide into autumn, writes Sara Macefield.
The Mediterranean may be synonymous with summer holidays but, when it comes to cruises, the next few months make for a glorious holiday at sea. The fierce heat of summer has subsided and the heaving crowds of tourists have thinned out. Excursions on shore coincide with the grape harvest, and the first press of olives. The high temperatures of peak season give way to cool, languid days packed with flavour for tourists.
The eruption of a volcano in the Spanish island of La Palma has destroyed an estimated 100 homes as molten lava flows in two streams from eight separate fissures that have appeared since Sunday afternoon in the Cumbre Vieja natural park.
Laos has locked down its capital Vientiane and barred travel between Covid-hit provinces, as cases soared to a record high.
The communist country appeared to have escaped the brunt of the pandemic in 2020, and by March this year had reported fewer than 60 cases – though the low number was due in part to limited testing. But a surge since mid-April has seen its caseload steadily increase, and on Saturday the country reported 467 new cases of community infection, its highest ever single-day tally.
The mayor of Vientiane, where the bulk of the cases were detected, declared a strict lockdown on Sunday for two weeks, ordering residents to stay in their homes unless obtaining food, medicine or making their way to a hospital.
Travel between seven other hard-hit provinces is banned, while entry into Vientiane requires a quarantine of 14 days.
Australia’s New South Wales(NSW) has today reported its lowest rise in daily Covid-19 cases in more than three weeks as some lockdown restrictions were eased in Sydney, the state capital, amid higher vaccination levels.
Premier Gladys Berejiklian said 935 new cases had been detected in NSW, the lowest daily tally since Aug. 27, and down from 1,083 on Sunday. The state reported four more deaths.
Nearly half of Australia’s 25 million people is in lockdown after the delta variant spread rapidly in Sydney and Melbourne forcing officials there to abandon a Covid-zero target and shift to rapid vaccinations to ease curbs.
With 53 per cent of NSW’s adult population now fully vaccinated, some restrictions on gatherings were relaxed on Monday in 12 of the worst-hit suburbs in Sydney’s west. Time limits for outdoor exercise were lifted, while the fully vaccinated people can gather outside in groups of five.
Neighbouring Victoria state, which includes Melbourne, logged one new death and 567 new infections, its biggest daily rise this year, a day after revealing its roadmap back to freedom when vaccinations reach 70 per cent, expected around October 26.
Fijiplans to reopen for international tourists by November, aiming to rebuild a pandemic-devastated economy while battling a delta-variant outbreak.
“Our goal is to free our country – and our economy – from the rut of the pandemic,” Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama said in a statemen.
Once 80 per cent of Fiji’s eligible population is vaccinated, it will offer quarantine-free travel to visitors from a “green list” of locations. Of Fiji’s eligible population, 66 per cent is now fully vaccinated and Bainimarama predicts the country’s target will be met by November 1.
Fiji’s green list includes Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Canada, Korea, Singapore and parts of the United States. Visitors would need to be fully vaccinated and test negative for Covid-19 prior to departure.
Lockdown in Auckland to stay for another fortnight
New Zealand’s largest city Auckland will remain in a Covid-19 lockdown for at least another two weeks, although some restrictions will be eased, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said today.
Ardern said the city of two million would move down to level three on New Zealand’s four-tier coronavirus response system by late Tuesday, even as authorities remain committed to eliminating a Delta-variant outbreak.
“We’re moving now because the advice we have is that we do not have widespread, undetected transmission in Auckland,” she told reporters. “If everyone continues to play their part, we can continue stamping out (the virus).”
The change means stay-at-home orders will remain in place but some businesses, such as takeaway food outlets, can open using contactless delivery.
New Zealand imposed a nationwide lockdown on August 17 when the first case of the highly transmissible Delta variant was found in the community. The cluster has been concentrated in Auckland and the rest of the country moved out of lockdown earlier this month.
There will be “no need” for Boris Johnson to “bang any tables” as he looks to persuade Joe Biden to restart travel between the UK and US, a minister has said.
The Prime Minister is expected to make an “impassioned” case for why the US President should lift his travel ban by allowing fully vaccinated people in the UK to travel directly into America.
James Cleverly, the Foreign Office minister, told Radio 4’s Today programme: “Obviously international travel is incredibly important for the UK. We want to get to situation where Brits can travel to one of our closest partners in the world.”
Mr Johnson will be making the case that “travel to and from UK is safe, it is important to us and as a strong international partners it is what we should be looking to do”, he added, stressing that the recent Ausuk deal demonstrated that the two countries were “very much on the same page”.
He added: “I have no doubt there will be no need to bang any tables to get the point across.”
The new green list countries which are actually open to Britons
Eight countries have been plucked from the red list but entry rules differ for each.
Egypt, the Maldives and Oman offer up enticing options for winter sun and fully vaccinated UK tourists can visit quarantine-free. Turkey is also open to Britons and will be removed from the hotel quarantine list – those who act swiftly will catch the tail end of the summer season before temperatures fall.
Kenya and Sri Lanka could also be feasible. Kenya imposes quarantine on UK travellers, but this could be carried out in a safari camp; Sri Lanka requires double-vaxxed travellers to wait in a quarantine hotel for a negative arrival test result. Pakistan is open to UK travellers with a negative test (plus rapid test on arrival), while Bangladesh requires a 14-day quarantine.
No other Mediterranean destination offers the visitor as much variety as Turkey, writes our destination expert Terry Richardson. And with the country due to officially come off the red list this week, now’s the time to book a holiday.
Such a remarkably diverse topography, climate and flora and fauna means Turkey offers every kind of holiday experience you could wish for – with warm temperatures well into October. To relax, lounge by the beach or pool at an all-inclusive near Mediterranean Antalya, or cruise the beautiful Turquoise Coast aboard a traditional wooden sailing boat (gulet).
Feeling more active? The Turquoise Coast and its hinterland is perfect for kayaking, scuba-diving, canyoning, mountain-biking and hiking the waymarked Carian and Lycian trails. Accommodation ranges from simple, family-run pensions in places like Dalyan, Kaş and Patara to luxurious hotels in chic Bodrum and golfer’s favourite, Belek – and everything in between, so there’s something for every budget.
Jet2 see ‘phenomenal’ reaction to travel announcement
Jet2.com and Jet2holidays have reported a 250 per cent rise in booking following the Government’s travel announcement last week that saw plans for the ‘traffic light’ system to be dropped, double-jabbed travellers from ‘safe’ countries no longer forced to take any sort of test before they get on a flight home from overseas, and, from later in October, only a lateral flow on their second day back in the UK – rather than a costly PCR test.
Chief executive Steve Heapy said:
There has been a phenomenal reaction from customers since yesterday’s announcement with bookings spiking by more than 250 per cent. People are clearly desperate to get away for some summer sun, as the demand for holidays in the next few weeks has been huge.
Turkey is proving “exceptionally popular”, he added, and half term dates “have also seen a surge in bookings for families.”