Misery for Christmas holidays as Canaries stripped of travel corridor

canary islands - Getty
canary islands - Getty

Frustrated holidaymakers and tour operators have expressed their fury at the Government’s decision to place the Canary Islands on the quarantine list.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps announced yesterday evening that, as of Saturday, Britons travelling back from the Spanish archipelago will have to self-isolate after the islands’ collective seven-day case rate rose to 52.2 per 100,000 people.

But critics have pointed out that the figures are skewed by the rate in Tenerife – currently 96.1 per 100,000 – with many asking why the UK cannot retain travel corridors with neighbouring islands such as Lanzarote and Gran Canaria, which both have far lower rates.

Concerns have also been raised over the future of UK travel companies, many of which were relying on winter sun holidays in the Canaries to save them from collapse after a chaotic year for tourism.

“There is a lot to debate in the approach the government has  taken to travel corridors, but one thing is certain – removing the Canary Islands this close to the winter sun season is going to send some holiday companies bankrupt,” said Rory Boland, editor of Which? Travel.

Alongside the loss of the Canary Islands, there were two additions to the travel corridor list in Botswana and Saudi Arabia.

However, with the Saudi government having suspended all flights and sea routes since March, and with Botswana only accessible from the UK via South Africa or Ethiopia (both still on the quarantine list), neither is a viable holiday option for Britons.

Scroll down for more updates.

04:52 PM

That's all for today

Here are the main headlines:

  • Misery for Christmas holidays as Canaries stripped of travel corridor
  • Germany faces national lockdown before Christmas
  • Travel quarantine reduced to 10 days
  • Covid hit travel harder than any other service sector, says ONS
  • Travel corridor changes causing 'devastation and misery' for tourism industry

04:47 PM

Comment: From here in Greece it seemed obvious from the outset that Britain would be 'punished' for Brexit

Heidi Fuller-Love writes: On Thursday, June 23, 2016 when the United Kingdom voted to leave the European Union many Greeks, aggrieved at what they perceived as a humiliating defeat after their own referendum just a year earlier, felt a sense of solidarity – albeit a doomed one – with the UK.

“You just wait – what happened to us will happen to them,” one Athens shopkeeper told me with gloomy satisfaction.

Read the full article

Many Greeks are experiencing a sense of déjà vu - Getty

04:34 PM

How travel to Europe will change after Brexit, from passports to data roaming charges

As negotiations with the EU teeter on the brink of collapse, a new implication of leaving without a deal has become clear, writes Nick Trend. Currently, under the transition arrangements, British travellers are exempt from Covid-19 restrictions which ban non-essential visits to the EU from most countries in the world. This exemption would automatically cease from January 1, so that, theoretically, all current travel corridors from the UK to Europe, Madeira and the Canary Islands would be closed, and it might be months before the infection rate falls sufficiently for normal arrangements to resume.

This would almost certainly put paid to the ski season in the Alps – Switzerland might be the only feasible destination to visit – and jeopardise Easter holidays in the Med.

Hopefully, some countries would allow exemptions – in winter, British tourists are vital to the economy of the Canary Islands and Madeira, for example. But it will be another heavy blow to airlines and the travel industry, which is desperate for certainty after nearly a year of cancellations. 

It looks as though we won’t know the full implications until the final decision of deal or no deal is made on Sunday. In the meantime, here are the other changes – some certain, some still uncertain – which are relevant to British travellers after December 31.

 Read the full article

04:17 PM

EU travel ban: What will Covid rules mean for holidays after January 1?

As of January 1, the UK will cease to hold the de facto status of an EU member state. It will therefore be subject to Covid-19 travel restrictions for countries outside the bloc. This has led to reports that the Britons will effectively be banned from non-essential trips to the EU, until our infection rate drops significantly.

However, once you take into account that member states are not legally obliged to follow the EU guidance and that travel to all European countries already comes with some level of restrictions, the rules begin to look less heavy-handed.

Emma Featherstone answers some of the major questions

Destinations such as the Algarve rely on British holidaymakers 

04:03 PM

Comment: For people in Tenerife, the UK's latest travel ban could be the final blow

Joe Cawley writes: When travel restrictions caused by the pandemic completely obliterated the Canary Islands’ summer season, the glass-half-full crowd shouted, “Well, at least we have the winter season to fall back on.”

When the winter season was subsequently nullified due to further constraints at either end of the 2,000-mile UK safe travel corridor, the few remaining optimists clung in hope to the normally busy, festive season providing a little economic cheer. And now? Even the lights on that particular Christmas tree have been snuffed out.

It’s looking like a very bleak winter in this sunny archipelago. There’s little cheer of any description to be found within the towns, villages and resorts of this deserted holiday destination right now.

Along with the rest of the Canaries, Tenerife has lost its travel corridor with the UK - Getty

For a region where 40 per cent of the economy depends on tourism, particularly from the UK, yesterday’s announcement from the UK government was a kick in the teeth to the thousands of workers, employers and business owners who desperately need to start earning again. According to the Canary Nightlife Association, some 450 bars and nightclubs had already gone out of business already by the beginning of December. This latest announcement will surely doom more.

Read the full article

03:49 PM

The 23 countries where you can (feasibly) have a holiday

For all that the Canary Islands have dominated the agenda today, it's easy to forget that the UK's travel 'green list' did actually grow yesterday with the addition of Saudi Arabia and Botswana.

Then again, it makes very little difference to any of us, since Saudi Arabia has a near-total travel ban in place, and Botswana and the UK are only connected via red-listed countries (so you'd have to quarantine anyway).

So where can you travel? Of the countries with UK travel corridors, only 23 are viable holiday options right now. Here's the full list, including the partial restrictions in place:

  1. Gibraltar: No restrictions
  2. Iceland: No quarantine if you have already had Covid
  3. Jersey: Test on arrival (and, for most, a quarantine)
  4. Madeira: Test on arrival or before departure
  5. Anguilla: Test before departure and on arrival
  6. Antigua and Barbuda: Test before departure
  7. Barbados: Test before departure
  8. Bermuda: Test before departure
  9. Cuba: Test on arrival
  10. Dominica: Test before departure and on arrival
  11. Grenada: Test before departure 
  12. St Kitts: Test before departure
  13. St Lucia: Test before departure
  14. St Vincent and the Grenadines: Test before departure
  15. Maldives: Test before departure
  16. Mauritius: Test before departure and on arrival
  17. Seychelles: Test before departure and on arrival
  18. Rwanda: Test before departure and on arrival
  19. Chile: Test before departure
  20. Bahrain: Test on arrival
  21. Cambodia: Test before departure
  22. Sri Lanka: Test before departure
  23. UAE (including Dubai and Abu Dhabi): Test before departure

03:35 PM

The best holiday cottages to book for a last-minute New Year’s Eve escape

Like almost everything else, New Year’s Eve is going to look a little different this year, says Emma Beaumont. Toasting at midnight in restaurants is off the table due to the hospitality curfew, and big bashes in party houses are a distant dream.

However, for those who have become too acquainted with their own homes, starting 2021 with a staycation celebration is an enticing alternative. It will be quieter, just travelling with your partner, household or support bubble, and there may be slightly less champagne popping than usual, but marking the New Year can still feel special. 

From romantic cabins in the woods to family cottages in the Lake District and even a boat in Devon, here's a round-up the best last-minute breaks to book for New Year’s Eve.

Ring in the New Year at a swish beach house in Cornwall - Unique Homestays

03:19 PM

Football's favourite hotel launches £8,000 Christmas hamper

Throughout the two and a half years he spent managing Manchester United, Jose Mourinho famously made his home at The Lowry Hotel in Manchester, racking up a £500,000 room bill in the process.

The same hotel has now unveiled a Christmas hamper worthy of 'The Special One': a basket of festive treats priced at £8,695.

The festively named 'Peace, Joy 7 The Lowry' hamper contains champagne, macarons, a teddy bear and more, although the bulk of the eye-popping price tag would seem to derive from the two nights in the hotel's Presidential Suite, which normally goes for around £4,000 a night.

03:02 PM

Heathrow Terminal 4 to remain closed for another year

After a year which saw passenger traffic plummet by over 70%, Heathrow Airport has announced that Terminal 4 will remain closed until the end of 2021.

Despite a brief uptick in traveller numbers in early autumn, national lockdown restrictions combined with travel bans elsewhere to ensure November traffic fell by a colossal 88% year-on-year, with just 747,000 people passing through the airport last month.

Heathrow announced half-year losses amounting to more than £1 billion for the first six months of 2020, with just 21 million people having travelled via the airport since January – by comparison, it welcomed 81 million passengers in 2019.

Read more:  Heathrow reopens, but there's little sign of celebration inside its eerily quiet terminals

02:45 PM

Comment: The Canary Islands travel ban means I can't support my unwell mother

Of course, we knew something like this was a risk, writes Ellen Manning. We had cancelled a road trip through Europe in the summer for the very reason that with countries being added and removed to ‘the list’ on an almost-daily basis at that point, the risk of being somewhere and the rules changing were too high. But things seemed to have settled down. 

With our flight home due on December 17, a 14-day period of self-isolation will take us right through Christmas. While we don’t have children, our mothers were due to spend Christmas Day and Boxing Day with us – something all of us were looking forward to after a year of enforced distance and long periods apart.

Our hope rests with the new 'test and release' scheme which will allow us to take a test five days after we land, and hopefully get a negative result just in time to save Christmas. We’re optimistic, but if this year has taught us anything it’s that nothing is certain. It also comes with another added price tag on top of the tests we already paid for to get us here. We’re in a position that we can afford to foot the extra cost, but I’m acutely aware not everyone is.

And then there’s the guilt. My own mum is due to have an operation imminently and while it isn’t major surgery, I had hoped to be able to look after her when we returned, and now find myself wondering if my own selfish desire for a holiday has impacted unfairly on someone I love. 

Read the full article

02:27 PM

United Airlines to go '100% green' by 2050

US carrier United Airlines has published its plan to go "100% green" over the next 30 years by funding carbon capture projects.

While most airlines invest in 'carbon offsetting' – technological or wildlife initiatives intended to counterbalance the fumes pumped out by jets – United's foray into 'carbon capture and sequestration' signals a new trend.

Fundamentally, CCS works by capturing the carbon produced by heavy industry, then funnelling it to underground storage facilities. It can then be used to facilitate the extraction of crude oil, making the investment potentially profitable (although possibly undermining the green objective at the same time).

CEO Scott Kirby said: “The pandemic has, if anything, emphasized the importance of what we’re doing. While we were planning to invest in this, work on this project before the pandemic, what has become clear during the pandemic, even more starkly, is that we are a part of a global community, and everything that happens everywhere around the globe affects us.”

02:13 PM

Quiet Christmas in rural Italy

There's a festive feeling down in Alberobello, where streets of traditional 'trulli' have been festooned in Christmas decorations.

A staple feature in Puglia, in southeast Italy, the cone-roofed dry-stone huts normally attract thousands of visitors at this time of year. But with many events and entertainments cancelled because of Covid, the town is eerily quiet.

trulli christmas - Getty
trulli christmas - Getty
trulli christmas - Getty

01:58 PM

Hefty fines in Taiwan

What can you do in eight seconds? Tie your shoe laces or send a text, maybe, if you’re quick.

Eight seconds might not seem like a very long time, but a man in Taiwan has been fined NT$100,000 (an estimated £2,696) for breaking quarantine rules for exactly, well, eight seconds, according to health officials.

The man reportedly stepped outside of his hotel room, where he was quarantining, in Kaohsiung City and was spotted by staff, who reported him to the local health department.

During the pandemic, all arrivals into Taiwan must enter a 14-day hotel quarantine and are ordered not to leave their room for any reason.

Health officials said the man was out of his room for eight seconds delivering something to the door of a friend who was staying in the same hotel – a violation of the country’s strict rules. 

01:45 PM

Germany faces national lockdown before Christmas

Residents in Germany are bracing themselves for tougher national lockdown restrictions before Christmas, as leaders warn the country needs to get the pandemic under control.

There’s increasing pressure on Chancellor Angela Merkel today to impose a national lockdown as the number of new infections and deaths hit new records, and to do it quickly.

“This will lead to a lockdown that is similar in many ways to what happened in the early part of the year,” Economy Minister Peter Altmaier told a virtual news conference.

“We cannot wait until Christmas. We have to act quickly,” said Armin Laschet, the premier of the North Rhine-Westphalia state.

Germany has been in partial lockdown for six weeks now, with bars and restaurants shut, but shops and schools open. But there are differing measures across the country – in Bavaria people are only allowed to leave home for essential reasons while in Baden-Wuerttemberg, on the border with France and Switzerland, a new nightly curfew will come into place tomorrow and leaders in Berlin wants to close shops and extend the school Christmas holidays.


01:28 PM

Lockdown encourages Britons to travel more

Over three quarters of Britons plan to be more spontaneous when it comes to their travel plans in 2021, a study has found.

Research by Zipcar has shown that the pressures of a year under lockdown and tiered restrictions has forced much of the nation to rethink its approach to travelling, with 58 per cent saying they now regret saying no to travel opportunities in the past.

With hopes for eased restriction by spring and positive news of a vaccine at the forefront of peoples’ minds, almost half say they’ll go on more weekends away and a third will commit to visiting friends and family more often.

And staycation will stay in vogue too, with 78 per cent who holidayed on home soil in 2020 saying they’d plan to do the same again next year, with the Lake District and Cornwall being the top two destinations for those surveyed. 

lake district - istock

“This research shows just how much this year has made us all value our freedom. It really does prove that you don’t appreciate the wealth of opportunities you have until you lose them,” said Sarah Rozenthuler, expert psychologist. 

Keen to secure your 2021 getaway? Telegraph Travel's Chris Leadbeater has picked some of the best.

01:11 PM

Travel quarantine reduced to 10 days

Travellers arriving into the UK from high-risk countries will face a reduced quarantine of 10 days, down from 14, from Monday.

The new rule will apply across the UK and is already in place in Wales, following a review by the chief medical officers.

“Self-isolation is essential to reducing the spread of Covid as it breaks the chains of transmission,” they said.

“After reviewing the evidence, we are now confident that we can reduce the number of days that contacts self-isolate from 14 days to 10 days.” 

The new rules will come into place just a day before the Government’s new test and release scheme, which allows travellers arriving from non-travel corridor countries to cut their self isolation if they test negative for Covid-19 on the fifth day and begins on Tuesday.

The reduction in time spent in self isolation also applies to anybody who has been in contact with someone who has tested positive for coronavirus.

“The reduction in the quarantine period along with the imminent start of the test-to-release system in England are welcome steps forward that can help boost the safe restart of international travel,” said Karen Dee, chief executive of the Airport Operators Association.

12:58 PM

Cases rising in London

The proportion of people testing positive for Covid-19 is estimated to have increased in London, according to ONS data. Around three quarters of the 32 boroughs have seen a rise in cases up until December 4, as fears grow that the capital could be plunged into Tier 3 restrictions next week

Rates have decreased in all other regions.

What does this mean for Londoners with upcoming travel plans?

The current advice under Tier 2 is:
People should aim to reduce the number of journeys they make where possible. If they need to travel, they should walk or cycle where possible, or to plan ahead and avoid busy times and routes on public transport. Rule of six applies outdoors, do not meet with anybody outside your household in any indoor setting – whether at home or in a public place. Travel is still permitted, although people are advised to avoid travel to Tier 3. You can visit a hotel or self-catering accommodation with somebody from your own household, in a tier-one or -two area.

International travel is allowed, but the advice is still to only travel when necessary.

But under Tier 3 the restrictions change to:
People should try to avoid travelling outside the ‘very high’ area they are in, or entering a ‘very high’ area, other than for things like work, education, accessing youth services, to meet caring responsibilities or if they are in transit. Advice is against all non-essential international travel. It is understood that hotels will remain shut unless it’s for ‘essential’ purposes, such as business.

International travel is allowed, but the advice is still to only travel when necessary.

Read the rules in full and find out if you can still go on holiday.

12:47 PM

Virgin Atlantic launches new route from Manchester to Pakistan

Virgin Atlantic is today launching its first new flight route since the Covid-19 pandemic started: a regular service between Manchester Airport and Islamabad in Pakistan.

Juha Jarvinen, Chief Commercial Officer at Virgin Atlantic, said:

We have missed flying customers from Manchester, our home in the North, so I’m pleased we can continue to mark our return with the launch of our new service to Pakistan. This is our first route launch since the Covid-19 pandemic, and it is an extremely important one for us as we look to reunite families and loved ones.  

Despite the challenges brought by Covid-19, our commitment to Manchester has never wavered. It’s an exciting time as demand gradually returns and we build up flying from the region. Our desire to delight and connect customers flying from the North West continues and we are looking forward to welcoming them back and flying them safely to their favourite destinations.

12:29 PM

How Africa is opening up to tourism, and where you can go

The UK Government has announced a new travel corridors with Botswana, giving Britons the chance of a quarantine-free post-lockdown holiday, writes Greg Dickinson

In total, there are five African countries that you can visit without needing to go into quarantine on your return – Botswana, Rwanda, Namibia, Seychelles and Mauritius.  However, you cannot currently fly to Botswana or Namibia without transiting in a red-listed country (such as South Africa), meaning there are just three viable quarantine-free holiday options in Africa right now.

Aside from our travel corridors, there are 33 African countries that you can enter right now, including safari favourites like Tanzania, Kenya and South Africa, but which carry UK quarantine restrictions.

 Read the complete guide

12:13 PM

"We will be the low-cost European carrier," says Ryanair boss

The CEO of Ryanair, Michael O'Leary, has predicted a strong comeback for his airline in 2021 while expressing doubts about his key rivals.

Speaking on webcast hosted by European air traffic organisation Eurocontrol, Mr O'Leary said:

“I’ve been predicting Norwegian Air’s bankruptcy for two years. Eventually, it has come. The jury is out on whether easyJet survives as a fifth independent carrier or whether Wizz Air replaces it as number five.

“We will be the low-cost European carrier, with IAG, Lufthansa and Air France-KLM.

“EasyJet and Wizz can’t compete with Ryanair on costs. I don’t see Wizz as a lower-cost competitor. Its costs per aircraft have been rising faster than Ryanair’s. Wizz has much higher aircraft costs and higher airport costs than us.

11:57 AM

Comment: ‘My wife is in tears’ – how Grant Shapps just ruined Christmas for thousands of people

“My wife is in tears,” says Andrew Willett, whose Christmas holiday plans are in tatters after the Government unexpectedly removed the Canary Islands from the UK’s travel corridors list last night.

The new rules mean that, as of 4am on Saturday morning, anyone arriving back from the Canaries to the UK must go into a 14-day quarantine, or (after December 15) pay for a Covid-19 test on the fifth day to exit self-isolation if the result is negative.

For some families, however, this quarantine and further round of testing makes the holiday either unaffordable, or logistically impossible due to work commitments.

Take the Willett family, for example. They were due to travel to Lanzarote on December 21. On top of the holiday costs, they had already spent an extra £500 for PCR tests, which became a requirement for travel to the Canary Islands after they had booked. As of this week, the Canaries will accept cheaper rapid antigen test results, rubbing further salt into the wound for British holidaymakers who had already coughed up for the more expensive PCR tests.

Lanzarote has much lower Covid-19 case numbers than neighbouring Tenerife - Getty

“We are now required to have further tests at further expense on our return, potentially adding in total £1,000 to our holiday,” Mr Willett says. “Our three kids are aware of our despair and know something isn’t right, which is unfair on them.”

The family is now in touch with their travel agent and Jet2 to find out if they can rebook. They are not the only ones whose holiday plans have been ruined by Grant Shapps dropping the Canary Islands from the travel corridors list just two weeks before Christmas.

Read the full article by Greg Dickinson

11:45 AM

Visitors to Norway will have to register with the authorities from January

The Norwegian government is introducing a digital registration system for travellers, which is due to launch next month.

Upon arrival at the border, visitors to the country will be required to submit their names, contact details, employment details and quarantine locations.

These will be used "for the health sector in infection control and infection tracing work, but also for the police and the Norwegian Labor Inspection Authority in their role in following up on breaches of quarantine regulations," according to the Minister of Justice and Emergency Management, Monica Mæland.

Norwegian authorities have emphasised that data collected from travellers will be deleted once it is no longer needed.

11:31 AM

The forgotten (more charming) side of St Anton, now that après-ski is no more

Adrian Bridge writes:

The situation remains fluid, but hopes are high that there will be some sort of ski season this year – and that British visitors, historically a key part of the St Anton clientele, will be among those to venture out on to the slopes. “It will be different and après-ski, as we know, will definitely be out,” said Wilma Himmelfreundpointer of the St Anton tourist office. “In bars and restaurants there will be tight controls on numbers, service will be at tables only, and there will be no standing, dancing and drinking in groups.”

That will be a big negative for those for whom the après-ski element of St Anton is arguably more important than the skiing itself. Early nights and quiet games of cards in subdued hotel lobbies may not quite hit the spot. 

St Anton is one of Austria's leading ski resorts - Getty

But it might be a plus for others. The curbs on nightlife and more distanced procedures on the slopes during the day will mean that it will be a great deal quieter in a resort which, for all its fame, in essence remains a classically pretty Tyrolean village set in a stunning Alpine landscape.

“With no parties, people will look for other activities,” said Himmelfreundpointer. “Those passionate about skiing will return; there will be more outdoor activities like hiking and snowshoeing; the most important thing here, once again, will be the nature and the sport.”

Read the full article

11:18 AM

China flight attendants advised to wear nappies to avoid Covid infection

Taking a more radical approach to Covid safety, China's official aviation authority has advised cabin crew to wear disposable nappies rather than use the lavatory in-flight.

The Civil Aviation Administration of China offered a number of recommendations for airline staff in the latest edition of its Technical Guidelines for Epidemic Prevention and Control for Airlines.

It advised that flight attendants don "medical masks, double-layer disposable medical gloves, goggles, disposable hats, disposable protective clothing, and disposable shoe covers" to protect both themselves and passengers from the spread of coronavirus.

However, the guidelines go on to say: "It is recommended that cabin crew members wear disposable diapers and avoid using the lavatories barring special circumstances to avoid infection risks."

11:07 AM

Thirty years on, we retrace London's 78-mile Capital Ring

As London's idiosyncratic outer-city walking route reaches its 30th anniversary, Neil McQuillian hits the trail in the company of Colin Saunders, the man who wrote the guidebook, to find out about its fascinating history.

Read the full article

The Woodberry Wetlands - Getty


10:54 AM

Wizz Air launches flights to Gibraltar

Gibraltar is one of the few destinations still open to UK travellers, and is certainly the last remaining holiday option with no travel restrictions in place.

All in all, it's an opportune time for Wizz Air to launch its first flight to the tiny British territory abutting Spain's southern coast.

The low-cost carrier will operate twice-weekly services between London Luton and Gibraltar from today, with fares starting from £25.99.

gibraltar airport - Getty

“With the launch of our affordable flights to Gibraltar today, we are offering passengers yet another exciting travel opportunity, this time to the Mediterranean peninsula of Gibraltar," said Owain Jones, managing director of Wizz Air UK.

"A truly unique destination, Gibraltar offers travellers a fascinating blend of history and culture, spectacular views from the top of The Rock and of course, a chance to see its famous Barbary Macaques.

"As Gibraltar remains on the travel corridor list, meaning passengers arriving into England from Gibraltar don’t have to self-isolate on return, now is the perfect time to book a trip onboard our young, green and ultra-efficient Airbus aircraft fleet.”

Read more:  Greetings from Gibraltar, a slice of England on the Med

10:40 AM

Travel Advent Calendar, day 11: Answer questions about Austria to win a £200 holiday voucher

It has been a year to forget for both travellers and holiday providers, but thanks to positive news about a Covid vaccine there's good reason to be optimistic about 2021. So to help you book that much-needed escape, and to give a boost to the beleaguered industry, we are giving away nearly £5,000 worth of vouchers to spend with members of AITO, The Specialist Travel Association.

To enter the prize draw for today's £200 voucher, all you need to do is answer three questions on Austria, and leave your contact details, using the form below.

One winner, chosen at random from all correct entries, will receive a £200 AITO holiday voucher to spend with the tour operator of their choice.

Hallstatt, Austria - Getty

10:28 AM

Amsterdam tops people's wishlists for a 2021 city break

Lastminute.com has reported a 73% surge in holiday searches in the last week, believed to be linked to the rollout of the Pfizer vaccine.

So where are people hoping to travel in 2021? Here are the top choices (according to the online travel firm):

Top 5 destinations 2021 for packages

  1. Amsterdam
  2. Dublin
  3. New York
  4. Algarve
  5. Paris

Top 5 city destinations 2021

  1. Amsterdam
  2. Dublin
  3. New York 
  4. Paris
  5. Rome 

Top 5 Sun & Beach destinations 2021

  1. Algarve
  2. Costa Blanca
  3. Majorca
  4. Tenerife
  5. Lanzarote

10:18 AM

Mapped: How each country is coping with Covid

The world is now approaching 70 million confirmed coronavirus infections, and more than 1.5 million deaths.

The US ranks among the countries worst affected by the pandemic, while in Europe, the chief hotspots are Belgium, the Czech Republic and Montenegro.

10:00 AM

‘It’s been a shocking year’: How ski shops are staying afloat during the pandemic

With Christmas fast approaching and snow falling in the Alps, usually at this time of year skiers and snowboarders would be frantically shopping for their new winter wardrobe and replacing their burnt-out equipment for the latest models, ahead of their first trip to the slopes, writes Rebecca Miles. But as everyone knows, 2020 has been anything but usual.

So where does Covid-19’s impact on ski holidays leave the shops and retailers whose cash registers you’d expect to be ringing right now with the sound of excitement for the ski season?

See the full report here

Skiers are buying touring kit from the likes of Ortovox more than ever before - HANSI HECKMAIR/ORTOVOX

09:49 AM

Covid hit travel harder than any other service sector, says ONS

Travel agents and tour operators have lost 90% of their business between February and October, according to data from the Office of National Statistics (ONS).

It is the service sector to have suffered the most from the Covid-19 pandemic, ranking below the creative arts and hospitality industries for monthly growth over the course of 2020 – both of which have benefited from Government support packages.

While Holyrood has pledged funds to help support travel firms in Scotland, the figures have prompted ABTA to renew calls for tailored financial aid across the entire country.

"All of the travel industry is struggling, but for some parts, like ski and long-haul operators, the coming months will be even more difficult," said ABTA's chief executive, Mark Tanzer.

"Nine months into this crisis, and with the ONS now clearly showing we've been the hardest hit service sector in the UK, travel businesses need help to get through the difficult months ahead.

"The Government also needs to ease its travel advice, allowing people to travel more freely. Yesterday the Scottish Government led the way by introducing specific funding for the travel industry - the UK Government, as well as those in Wales and Northern Ireland, needs to follow suit."

09:29 AM

Travel corridor changes causing 'devastation and misery' for tourism industry

Julia Lo Bue-Said, CEO at Advantage Travel Partnership, says:

The Canary Islands being removed from the travel ‘safe list’ will be absolutely devastating for some travel agents and tour operators. Given the limited number of destinations suitable for winter sun holidays that are also exempt from self-isolation upon return to the UK, the majority of departures over the next few weeks would have been to the Canaries, particularly since the UK lockdown has been lifted and in the lead-up to the Christmas period. Travel agents will now have the difficult task of re-booking and cancelling passengers, while the majority of their workforce remain on furlough. 

The travel industry is vital to economic recovery but continued changes to the travel corridor measures, blanket FCDO advisory and a testing regime that still hasn’t been implemented is causing devastation and misery to many businesses.

The travel industry had started to feel like it was turning a corner, however the removal of The Canaries is hugely damaging. We strongly urge the government to advise at their earliest convenience their plans for the test and release scheme as well as a much needed review of the FCDO advisory.

09:19 AM

Scotland lifts travel ban on most of Ireland

The Scottish government will lift travel restrictions on most of the Republic of Ireland later today, allowing non-essential travel to all areas barring County Donegal in the northwest.

The decision comes after a marked reduction in Ireland's caseload over the past few months, although Irish rules dictate that all travellers arriving from the UK must quarantine for 14 days.

scotland welcome sign - Getty

At the same time Scotland will also ban all non-essential travel to Jersey after a "significant increase" in coronavirus cases on the Channel island.

Scottish restrictions on travel to and from the rest of the UK will remain in place.

09:03 AM

Quarantine to be cut next week (although there are caveats)

One welcome bit of news for those caught out by the Canary Islands announcement is that they will not necessarily have to complete 14 days of self-isolation.

The Test to Release system comes into effect next Tuesday, meaning returning travellers can leave quarantine after five days, provided they submit a negative PCR test.

There is a drawback of course, in that you need to pay for the test yourself, with costs generally in the region of £65 to £120. This will undoubtedly prove a highly unwelcome expense for many, especially large families.

Find all the information here

08:53 AM

Canaries decision a 'disappointment', but quarantine rule changes offer hope

Alan French, CEO of the newly-relaunched Thomas Cook, said: 

This about turn on the Canaries will be a disappointment to our customers. We’re taking holidays to the islands off sale for the winter or until there’s a change. We’re calling our customers now who are out there or due to travel to chat through how we can support them. We had bookings in the run up to and over Christmas and this will no doubt give customers plenty to ponder over the coming days.

The change to self-isolation rules helps, hopefully, and means more people may be able or willing to quarantine for a short time and take a test.

08:42 AM

Furious reaction to Canary Islands announcement

Safe to say, the news that the Canary Islands are now off the travel corridor list has not gone down well with either tourists or tour operators.

08:09 AM

Good morning!

Before we begin, here's a re-cap of yesterday's main stories:

  • Botswana and Saudi Arabia gain travel corridors
  • Outcry to the suggestion of EU-wide travel ban
  • Tui plunges to £2.7bn loss but says post-Brexit challenges are 'manageable'
  • Belarus to close land border over virus concerns