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- The empty Greek island you should visit right now
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Analysis by Telegraph Travel has revealed that Britons can now visit just 12 places without restrictions following the removal of Slovenia and Guadeloupe from the quarantine-free list.
Holidaymakers can now travel to Italy, Germany, Turkey and the majority of Greece without having to self-isolate on arrival or return.
Less popular tourist destinations such as San Marino, Gibraltar, Liechtenstein and Greenland are also open for business, as are Sweden, Denmark, Poland and Slovakia.
A further 12 destinations are feasible options, requiring Britons to show evidence of a negative PCR test, or else take submit to being tested on arrival.
These include Madeira, the Azores and Cyprus, alongside several Caribbean countries including Barbados, Bermuda and St Lucia.
The rest of the world, including new ‘travel corridors’ Thailand and Singapore, is not an option for ordinary holidaymakers, with many countries keeping their borders closed to commercial travel while the Covid-19 pandemic continues.
Spain, France, Croatia, Malta, and a small number of Greek islands have all been struck off the ‘green list’ of quarantine-exempt destinations in recent weeks, sparking frantic scrambles among UK holidaymakers as they rushed to get home before quarantine rules came into effect.
That's all for today
Here are some of the day's main headlines:
- British travellers can now visit just 12 destinations without restrictions
- UK tourists warned of post-Brexit rule changes
- UK hospitality sector 'still on a knife-edge' as second lockdown looms
- Scotland facing some “hard but necessary” decisions, says Sturgeon
- Further Ryanair capacity cuts due to 'defective' EU quarantines
You can see below for the rest of Friday's key stories, and join us tomorrow for more live coverage.
The undiscovered region of France taking centre stage in the Tour de France
You might have some Comté lurking in the fridge, stocked up on Aldi’s bargain Crémant from the area, or even driven right through it on the A39 to go skiing. But the chances are you’ve never actually visited the Jura, a delightful départment in eastern France, writes Lebby Eyres.
This undiscovered region is little known by the British, who bypass it on their way to more famous destinations. But this year, it experienced a boom among staycationing French tourists, and has now had its verdant landscape showcased during Stage 19 of the Tour de France.
Whoever organised this stage was kind to the cyclists, who’ve covered the hardest terrain ever this year: they eschewed the steep mountain roads of Haut Jura for the valleys of La Petite Montagne. It’s a gentler way to approach, and the landscape here looks like a piece of material pushed together, with flat, straight roads running between the folds of rolling hills.
I’ve been coming to this region every year for the past decade, first as a tourist and then as a second-home owner. Even now, my French husband and I are still discovering new treats as well as revisiting old haunts.
Where to stay, eat and drink in Gibraltar, the pandemic's unlikely wedding capital
Move over Gretna Green – the curious peninsula of Gibraltar is this year’s hottest elopement destination, write Harry Mount and Emma Beaumont. Couples from all over the world are heading to the British Overseas Territory to tie the knot, thanks to its relative lack of restrictions and after facing various hurdles back home.
Gibraltar has long been known as an alternative wedding choice – John Lennon and Yoko Ono married here back in 1969. But as the pandemic continues to keep much of the world in a state of semi-closure, its popularity has exploded. Since travel restrictions were lifted in July and the government began to ‘Unlock the Rock’, couples have been flying in to exchanging rings and registry office slots are booked up until the end of November.
London cancels New Year's Eve festivities
Concerns over crowds and Covid mean the famous firework displays over London will not go ahead this year, Sadiq Khan has confirmed.
Speaking on LBC Radio, the Mayor of London said: "There will be nothing going on in town. We simply cannot afford to have the number of people congregate on New Year's Eve.
"What we are working on is to do something that people can enjoy in the comfort and safety of their living rooms on TV."
The last event saw 100,000 turn out along the banks of the Thames to watch the festivities, with thousands more attending local fireworks displays around other parts of London.
October half-term holiday tracker: The best options for a family escape in 2020
Missed out on a family holiday this year? You couldn’t make the most of the lockdown sunshine; your summer trip to the Med was cancelled; your staycation break was blown away by the August gales. Now schools are back, so you have one last chance for a rewarding trip for all – the autumn half term.
Consumer Expert Nick Trend's number one tip is to book late, but that doesn't mean you can't start planning early.
How sprucing up your town's Wikipedia page can boost tourism
Economists have found that adding a few extra paragraphs and pictures to a town or city's Wiki page could increase tourism by nine per cent (sometimes more) and boost revenue by up to £100,000, reports Charlotte Johnstone.
The research carried out by the Collegio Carlo Alberto in Turin, Italy, and NEW in Mannheim, Germany randomly selected several Spanish cities and edited half of their Wikipedia pages. They added high-quality photos and extra information on history and local attractions, whilst measuring tourist numbers before and after.
The results were impressive.
Comment: The Foreign Office has become a laughing stock, leaving tour operators to manage risk
When it comes to Covid-19, there is an element of the cure being more dangerous than the virus, writes Alice Gully, co-owner of Aardvark Safaris.
And as the Foreign Office becomes a laughing stock with its sweeping travel ban that makes no considerations for countries that have worked hard to reduce their Covid-19 cases to single figures; the surge in insurance companies offering policies that cover travel against Foreign Office advice is further proof of the nonsensical nature of this blunt instrument.
The UK Foreign Office has taken away our liberty of making fair and informed decisions. It needs to regain some confidence if its advice (and we need to remember that it is just “advice”) is ever to be taken seriously again.
Scotland facing some “hard but necessary” decisions, says Sturgeon
Nicola Sturgeon has advised Scots not to cross the border into England as cases of Covid-19 continue to rise across the UK.
Speaking at the daily coronavirus briefing earlier today, the Scottish First Minister also urged residents in England not to travel north of the border after local lockdown restrictions were put in place in Tyneside, Northumberland and County Durham.
"All of us, right now, should just be very cautious about non-essential travel," she said. "Wherever we go, we could be taking it with us. Or we could get it there and bring it back."
While travel to Scotland from the rest of the UK is still open, the possibility remains that movement soon could be restricted after Ms Sturgeon warned that some “hard but necessary” decisions may have to be taken, with Glasgow, Lanarkshire and Lothian all reporting a surge in infections in the last week.
Can you visit South Africa?
South Africa’s president, Cyril Ramaphosa, announced yesterday that borders will soon reopen as it eases its Covid-19 measures, with travel to and from all other African nations set to recommence on October 1.
The country closed its borders on March 27, and has been one of the world’s hardest-hit countries since the beginning of the pandemic, recording more than 650,000 cases and over 15,000 deaths.
However, case numbers have dropped and levelled out in recent weeks, allowing the South African Government to ease lockdown and travel restrictions.
So does this mean you will soon be able to travel to South Africa? Find out here.
More calls for Government to avoid 'catastrophic' second lockdown
A second lockdown would risk killing off public confidence in travel and tourism, with 'catastrophic' results for the UK's hospitality sector, the British Bed & Breakfast Association (BBA) has warned.
David Weston, chairman of the BBA, said:
"We are appalled to hear talk about another national “lockdown” or “circuit breaker”, and call on the Government NOT to put any such nationwide restrictions in place. That might prove catastrophic for the hospitality sector, which is only just struggling back towards break-even after the months of total closure.
"Many parts of the country - the South-West, for instance - have very low levels of Covid and it would be disproportionate, wrong and hugely damaging to these areas especially to punish them with restrictions designed to reduce spikes in the virus seen elsewhere.
"We call on the Government to hold its nerve, and give steady leadership on Covid-safe operating by businesses (especially hospitality), while letting the economy recover so jobs and livelihoods can be saved."
South Africa will open up travel with whole of Africa
The South African government has announced that the country will open its borders with the rest of Africa on October 1.
Travel will be permitted to and from all other African nations, with arrivals required to provide proof of a negative Covid-19 test taken up to 72 hours before departure, but otherwise free of restrictions.
No announcements have yet been made for countries outside Africa, with decisions based on infection and transmission rates set to be made in the coming days.
Government has 'lost focus' on quarantine
Further to his comments earlier today (see below), Paul Charles, chief executive of travel consultancy The PC Agency and a leading commentator on the UK's quarantine policy, has expressed his bewilderment at the 'inexplicable' decision not to impose restrictions on Denmark.
It’s worrying that #UKGov have lost focus on their #quarantine policy. It is inexplicable that #Denmark was not added yesterday when 822 positive #Covid cases were recorded in the last 24hrs - the highest ever and almost 100% up on the day before. Cases are surging. @ThePCAgency— Paul Charles (@PPaulCharles) September 18, 2020
Danish case numbers stand at 34 per 100,000 people, well over the UK's quarantine cut-off of 20 per 100,000.
Croatia, Switzerland and Slovenia have both had their 'travel corridors' taken away in recent weeks (just yesterday in the latter's case) despite having similar or lower rates.
Comment: For goodness sake, let's stop taking sightseeing 'flights to nowhere'
The “flight to nowhere” – thought up by airlines to keep their mothballed planes in the sky – is more boomerang than beeline, writes Simon Parker.
I’m not against flying per se – in the grand scheme of things, I believe some air travel is a necessary evil for distributing much needed tourist wealth to parts of the world that desperately need it.
As soon as we can, we should travel far and wide, in order to help restore some sort of global economic parity. Countries dependent upon tourism will need visitors. But the idea of self-serving airlines flying around aimlessly leaves a particularly sour taste in the mouth.
UK hospitality sector 'still on a knife-edge' as second lockdown looms
One of the UK's leading hospitality leaders has warned the Government to tread lightly around the prospect of a second 'circuit break' lockdown, with much of the sector still at risk of collapse.
Kate Nicholls, chief executive for trade association UKHospitality, said:
“The hospitality sector is still on a knife-edge. One-in-five businesses [are] still closed and those that are open are trading at severely reduced capacity and are not out of the woods by a long way. We have almost one million people in our sector still furloughed and their jobs are at risk.
"Despite the boost delivered by the Eat Out to Help Out scheme, consumer confidence is still low and it takes a further beating whenever lockdowns or restrictions are mentioned. If lockdowns or restrictions are needed, they need to be formulated carefully, and come with Government support, to minimise the damage to business."
Don't travel to Estonia and Denmark, says Norway
Norway is now advising its citizens against all non-essential travel to Estonia and certain regions of Finland and Denmark following separate rises in the number of coronavirus cases.
The addition of Zealand and North Jutland to the restriction list means that Norwegians are now warned not to travel to Denmark in its entirety, as well as large parts of neighbouring Sweden; Finland is still largely safe, according to Norway's National Institute of Public Health, with the exception of the Southern Savonia region.
In contrast, the UK is not currently advising against travel to Denmark, Sweden, Finland or Estonia (or Norway, for that matter).
Brazil's Pantanal fires threaten to destroy one of the world's greatest natural wonders
The fires that are raging through the Brazilian Pantanal threaten to destroy one of the world’s most beautiful and biodiversity-rich wildernesses, says Chris Moss.
They are also gravely damaging one of South America’s most popular tourism destinations.
Since the 1990s, the Pantanal – the largest floodplain on the planet – has grown from being an off-beat adventure travel option to become a mainstream holiday experience, drawing travellers from all over the world as well as Brazil’s densely populated coastal cities.
The pandemic might have provided a holiday for the wildlife, allowing rangers and scientists to concentrate on research and infrastructure. Instead, the Unesco-listed Pantanal Conservation Area has been devastated by out-of-control fires.
Be ready for extra costs after Brexit, UK holidaymakers warned
Consumer rights champion Which? has responded to the Government's new public information campaign seeking to help Britons plan their post-Brexit holidays in Europe.
Which? Travel Editor Rory Boland said:
"These potential changes to European travel will affect millions of holidaymakers, who may have already booked holidays for 2021 and will now have to factor in additional costs associated with travel insurance and data roaming, and for some the price of renewing their passport earlier than expected.
"From 2021, EHIC cards may no longer be valid, so consumers should ensure their travel insurance policy includes adequate medical cover. Some mobile phone providers have said they have no plans to change roaming charges following Brexit, however holidaymakers should check with their provider before travelling."
Are you dreaming of winter sun?
Travel restrictions aside for now, where would you fly away to if given the chance this winter?
A beach break in the Caribbean? An island escape in the Maldives? Or perhaps you'd rather stay right where you are?
Have your say in our Twitter poll
We're fantasising about winter sun...— Telegraph Travel (@TelegraphTravel) September 18, 2020
Where are you dreaming of going?
Despite the threat of restrictions, this is still a wonderful time to travel
The Government is changing the rules on travel on a weekly basis and at extremely short notice, writes Nick Trend. Now, local lockdowns and the possibility of wider restrictions in this country are threatening to have a serious impact on our freedom to go on holiday. So should you give up on all ideas of an autumn break?
Despite all this uncertainty, this could be a wonderful time to get out and see some of Europe’s great sights and attractions, free from the usual crowds and where hotels and restaurants are operating relatively normally. Those who want to take advantage of the situation just need to have some flexibility, take the right precautions, plan carefully and book at the very last minute.
Is it safe to book a holiday in Italy?
While France and Spain have seen a big rise in new cases, Italy had seen fewer signs of a second spike. However, in the last couple of weeks its infection rate has doubled. Nevertheless, it is still lower than much of Europe, including the UK – so it looks unlikely to be added to the quarantine list.
European tourism industry calls on EU to end quarantine 'chaos'
Travel industry leaders from across Europe have called on the EU to pressure its members into ending quarantine.
In a letter to European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, more than 20 tourism firms and organisations pleaded for the EU to push for coordinated travel restrictions and testing at ports and airports.
The EU Commission is currently working on implementing a 'traffic light system' that would standardise travel and quarantine restrictions across its member states, but the letter's signatories, including air travel association IATA, believe that progress is moving at too slow a pace.
"This chaotic situation requires your immediate personal involvement," they wrote. "Failure to fully implement the Commission’s proposal would kill any chances of a potential recovery."
What life is really like in lockdown-free Sweden
Scientists have varied opinions on whether Swedes have developed greater immunity to the virus, are better at social distancing, or if other factors will turn out to be more relevant to the country’s downward curve, writes Maddy Savage.
But many agree that the consistency of the measures in Sweden – where restrictions have been minimal – has contributed to a calmer public mood here than in the UK.
That might prove another incentive for British tourists seeking a respite from the new rule-of-six, just in time to see Sweden’s forests burst into their autumn colour palette.
New Thomas Cook travel shops to open
The relaunched Thomas Cook brand will see bricks-and-mortar travel shops return to the high street – but not in the UK.
The company, which collapsed last year, was revived as an online travel agency in China in July by the Shanghai-based Fosun Tourism Group, and rolled out in the UK earlier this month.
Fosun has now confirmed that it will start to open Thomas Cook stores in China, with the first expected to launch in Shanghai in early 2021.
What is the point of a 'travel corridor' with a country we can't even enter?
Thailand and Singapore have the 'green light' – but this ultimately means nothing, says Lottie Gross.
Thailand has all but closed its borders to foreign visitors. Unless you’re a diplomat, have permission directly from the Prime Minister (does anyone have a number, by the way?), or have a specific type of visa or a handful of other niche circumstances, you’re simply not allowed in. And anyone that is allowed has to follow a rigorous exercise in bureaucracy and begging.
In Singapore, short term visitors from anywhere are banned – unless you have extenuating circumstances. Does an increasingly incompetent and frankly dangerous government count, I wonder?
Fears for UK tourism if 'circuit break' lockdown is declared
Many domestic tourism firms are banking on the approaching October half term to relieve the financial damage of lockdown.
But with the prospect of a second 'circuit break' lockdown looking increasingly likely, there are fears that it could 'spell disaster' for the industry.
Peter Johnston-Treherne, Finance Director at Heritage Great Britain (which operates the Land’s End hotel and resort and the Snowdon Mountain Railway), said:
“We are already incredibly worried. Uncertainty around potential new restrictions is already undermining public confidence as families are simply holding back on planning days out at UK attractions. If there is a tightening of restrictions ahead of the October half term, then it could spell disaster for many tourism businesses who were relying on the increased trade. These are tourism businesses who were already struggling to survive following the national lockdown. "We are hoping for the best and are working hard to reassure the public that all of our visitor attractions are completely safe. We’ve implemented strict social distancing measures and installed additional sanitising stations. People having been enjoying Heritage Great Britain’s attractions safely since they reopened, we’ve got to continue trading for as long as we can.”
Homecoming in sight for stranded Australians
Over 25,000 stranded Australians will be allowed to return home when strict travel caps are relaxed later this month.
Australia has had a limit on the number of people allowed to enter the country since July – a measure intended to relieve pressure on the country's quarantine system, but which has left thousands of Australian travellers and emigrants unable to return.
Now Prime Minister Scott Morrison has announced that the cap will be raised from September 28, allowed over a thousand extra arrivals each week.
"I want to enable as many Australians to get home as soon as possible and I want to do that safely and I want to do that in as constructive a way as we can," he said.
Which countries are at risk?
With Slovenia and Guadeloupe having been removed from the UK's quarantine-free travel list, there are now even fewer holiday options for Britons that don't require a bout of self-isolation, and, with cases rising across Europe, more destinations could lose their "travel corridors" in the coming weeks.
Further Ryanair capacity cuts due to 'defective' EU quarantines
Ryanair has announced that it will cut its October flight capacity down to 40 per cent of 2019 levels thanks to 'Government mismanagement'.
The airline has pointed the blame at EU governments for their 'damaging' travel policies, claiming that customers are unwilling to book thanks to flight cancellations and 'defective' quarantine restrictions.
A Ryanair spokesperson said:
"We are disappointed to reduce our October capacity from 50 per cent of 2019 to 40 per cent. However, as customer confidence is damaged by Government mismanagement of Covid travel policies, many Ryanair customers are unable to travel for business or urgent family reasons without being subjected to defective 14 day quarantines.While it is too early yet to make final decisions on our winter schedule (from Nov to Mar), if current trends and EU Governments’ mismanagement of the return of air travel and normal economic activity continue, then similar capacity cuts may be required across the winter period."
UK tourists warned of post-Brexit rule changes
The Government has launched a new campaign to help UK holidaymakers plan their post-Brexit trips to the EU, with rules on passports, driving and pets all set to change.
With the Brexit transition period set to end on January 1, Britons heading to EU countries in 2021 (as well as Switzerland, Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein) will be subject to extra checks and regulations.
Passports will have to be less than 10 years old, and must be valid for at least six months from departure, while travellers are also being advised to check health insurance requirements for next year, since European Health Insurance Cards will no longer be valid.
Some EU countries do not recognise UK drivers licences, and any holidaymakers wishing to drive will need to obtain an International Driving Permit.
Pet-owners face some of the most daunting rule changes: EU pet passports will be rendered invalid after Brexit, and anyone wishing to take a cat or dog into Europe will have to complete a four-month application process.
The Government is also warning that UK travellers will no longer automatically receive free data-roaming, although most mobile networks have confirmed they will not introduce charges.
Can I visit Thailand or Singapore?
In a word, no.
Despite being added to the travel corridors list, the Foreign Office says:
Short-term visitors from anywhere in the world are not able to enter Singapore. Long-term pass holders and dependants need approval before entering Singapore. Everyone granted permission to enter Singapore will be issued with a 14-day Stay at Home Notice (SHN).
At present only certain categories of foreign nationals are permitted to enter or transit Thailand.If you’re eligible to enter, you will be subject to a 14-day state quarantine at a Thai government-designated facility at your own expense.
'Inconsistent' UK quarantine rules criticised, with Denmark still on 'green list' while Africa remains excluded
There was a reprieve for Denmark during the UK's travel corridor update yesterday, with the Scandinavian country still on the quarantine exemption list despite having a higher Covid infection rate than Slovenia, which was placed back on the 'red list'.
Paul Charles, chief executive of travel consultancy The PC Agency, has lambasted the Government's 'inconsistency' in following its own rules, under which quarantine restrictions are reimposed if a country's weekly case rate rises above 20 per 100,000 people.
“The Denmark decision shows a lack of consistency – it has a similar profile to Portugal with a rapid increase in infections, test positivity under three per cent and a rate above the government’s own criteria," he told The Independent.
“So why is Portugal on the quarantine list but Denmark isn’t?
“Furthermore, it is remarkable that there isn’t one country in Africa you can visit without having to quarantine on your return to the UK for 14 days.”
The entire continent is on the UK's 'red list', despite many African countries reporting case numbers below the UK's threshold.
Where can I go on holiday now?
The loss of Slovenia means there are just 12 destinations that Britons can visit without any restrictions, plus a further 12 relatively feasible options:
Open for business
- Greece (Partially open)
- Italy (including Vatican City)
- San Marino
- Faroe Islands
- Antigua and Barbuda
- St Lucia
- St Vincent and the Grenadines
What did we learn yesterday?
A recap of yesterday's lead stories.
- Slovenia and Guadeloupe have been removed from the travel corridors list, but Denmark and Ireland survive
- Singapore and Thailand have been added, but neither are welcoming UK tourists
- P&O Cruises has cancelled all sailings until at least January 2021
- South Africa has announced plans to reopen to tourism
- A WHO representative has urged countries to be wary of reducing quarantine periods from 14 days
Now, on with today's news.