Bookings soar for Spanish holidays after ‘green corridor’ news

Tom Mulvihill
·35-min read
ibiza beach - Getty
ibiza beach - Getty

Britons are racing to book holidays in Spain this summer following the announcement that a ‘green corridor’ could be set up for vaccinated travellers.

The bookings boom has been sparked by comments made by the Spanish Minister for Tourism, Fernando Valdés, who confirmed earlier this week that Spain and the UK are in “discussions” over potentially lifting travel restrictions for those who have been inoculated against Covid, as long as there is no collective EU decision on vaccine passports in the next few months.

With the UK government also revealing its roadmap out of lockdown last week, with international travel a possibility by May 17 at the earliest, Spanish holiday firms are now experiencing a surge in demand from UK customers keen to fly south for the summer.

One Ibiza hotel, the Nobu Hotel on Talamanca Beach, has already seen a 250% week-on-week spike in bookings, while the Puente Romano Beach Resort in Marbella has already reached 50% occupancy for the whole of August.

Villa holidays are in high demand too, with one rental company, The Thinking Traveller, reporting a 100% increase in enquiries compared to this time last year, and a threefold increase compared to last week.

Airlines have also witnessed a boost in the last week thanks to renewed passenger confidence: EasyJet sales for June, July and August have more than quadrupled in recent days, while TUI has seen reservations in Spain, Greece and Turkey rise by 600%.

Scroll down for more updates

05:32 PM

What did we learn today?

That’s all folks, here’s a quick round up of the top travel headlines on Thursday:

  • Bookings soar for Spanish holidays

  • British Airways launches rapid-result Covid tests

  • Ryanair promises year of low prices to boost holiday revival

  • 'Measures may not be enough’: Travel bosses react to yesterday’s budget announcement

  • Greece tightens travel restrictions

  • Italian ski resorts come to terms with a lost winter ski season

  • Hancock optimistic for 'great British summer'

  • Seychelles to reopen this month

05:27 PM

Brits book extended post-lockdown holidays

British tour operator Inghams, which specialises in winter ski trips and summer breaks in the mountains, has confirmed the cancellation of all holidays until May 18, as bookings for longer post-lockdown breaks boom in popularity.

"In line with the UK government’s roadmap, we have suspended all Inghams holidays departing up until, and on 17 May 2021. As we continue to look to do right by our customers, those impacted by this news will be offered a full refund or the chance to move their booking to a later date," said Joe Ponte, CEO of Inghams.

"Since the most recent government announcement, we have seen an uplift in summer bookings, with a larger proportion of our customers opting for longer holidays than in previous years. For those planning something to look forward to this summer and those with an existing summer 2021 booking from 18 May onwards, we will be delaying taking final balances until just 4 weeks before departure. With Inghams summer holidays available to reserve for just £155 per person," said Ponte.

05:19 PM

Great British Getaways: 10 amazing holidays in remote corners of the UK

We live in a crowded country, but you can still find splendid isolation in Britain – on remote islands, at end-of-the-road campsites or behind the bulwarks of your own private bastion, writes Paul Bloomfield.

With accommodation in popular locations selling out fast, head for one of these isolated retreats this summer.

Isle of rum - John Finney/Getty
Isle of rum - John Finney/Getty

05:09 PM

Top travel questions

There are many questions budding travellers and hopeful holidaymakers want answering right now – some can be answered, some cannot.

But what are people asking the most about travel right now? All-inclusive specialists Club Med have dived into the world of search engines to find out, here are the most commonly asked questions on Google:

  1. Is travelling a hobby? (Google searches: 3,600)

  2. Why is travelling important? (Google searches: 2,400)

  3. Is travel insurance worth it? (Google searches: 1,300)

  4. Is travelling safe right now? (Google searches: 720)

  5. How do travel bloggers make money? (Google searches: 590)

  6. Why is travelling good for you? (Google searches: 480)

  7. Which travel credit card is the best? (Google searches: 390)

  8. Can travelling affect your period? (Google searches: 320)

  9. Will travel resume in 2021? (Google searches: 260)

  10. Do travel agents still exist? (Google searches: 140)

Have you got a burning travel question? Let Telegraph Travel’s experts help, find all our latest advice here.

04:56 PM

Abta joins Government talks

Abta, the trade association for tour operators and travel agents in the UK, has confirmed it is involved in talks with the Government’s Global Travel Taskforce. Headed up by Transport Secretary Grant Shapps the group is tasked with developing a specific roadmap for the future of travel.

“We are involved and engaged with the taskforce and have already had several conversations and meetings with Government about the work of the taskforce, the areas they are looking at and how we can feed into that to ensure travel agents’ and tour operators’ views are heard. This week we have begun discussing with Members the proposals we intend to put forward to the taskforce. We’re keen to gather views from across the breadth of Abta membership and are developing a particular session where travel agents will be able to provide input. Further details will follow shortly. We continue with our lobbying activity and, today, we have hosted a roundtable event which brings together representatives from across relevant government departments and the Save Future Travel Coalition to discuss the pressing issues facing the industry,” said Mark Tanzer, Abta chief executive.

04:43 PM

First space hotel to open in 2027

We’re all dreaming of future holidays to faraway places right now, but just how far are you willing to travel?

The creators of the galaxy’s first space hotel have announced they hope to welcome guests by 2027. Voyager Station will provide rooms for up to 400 people and plans include a spa and cinema. There are also plans to serve ‘space food’ – thinking freeze-dried ice cream – and allow guests to enjoy zero-gravity experiences.

The Gateway Foundation first revealed plans for the circular cruise ship-style hotel, which floats above the Earth’s atmosphere, in 2019. John Blincow, a former pilot who runs the company set to build the new hotel, the Orbital Assembly Corporation, has explained the construction of the Voyager Station is expected to begin in 2026.

"We're trying to make the public realize that this golden age of space travel is just around the corner. It's coming. It's coming fast," he said.

Orbital Assembly Corporation - Orbital Assembly Corporation
Orbital Assembly Corporation - Orbital Assembly Corporation

04:31 PM

Seychelles to reopen this month

The Seychelles will reopen to visitors from all countries, except South Africa, from March 25, without the need to be vaccinated or to quarantine.

Sylvestre Radegonde, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Tourism, confirmed the reopening date today and explained visitors will only need to present proof of a negative PCR test taken 72 hours before departure in order to enter the country.

There will be no reliance on vaccinations or quarantines for visitors – but all travellers must wear face masks and follow social distancing and enhanced hygiene measures.

“The vaccination campaign has been quite successful. The government has done everything in its power to make sure that the population is protected. We have now arrived at the point where opening our borders further is the next step to allow for our economic recovery,” said Radegonde. Since January the archipelago in the Indian Ocean has been letting travellers in, without the need to quarantine, who can prove they are fully vaccinated against Covid-19.

Did you know, the Seychelles is the ultimate family holiday destination? Michelle Jana Chan shares her experience here.

seychelles
seychelles

04:21 PM

Mind the gap

Transport For London has unveiled the future of tube travel.

The new generation of Piccadilly line tube trains use 20 per cent less energy than existing carriages and have other key desirables: wide doors, more space and, wait for it, air conditioning.

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04:07 PM

Can you go on holiday this summer if you haven't been vaccinated?

In recent months it has moved from a hypothetical to a near-enough certainty that vaccine passports will be the key to opening up our holidays in the post-lockdown era.

A flurry of countries have outlined plans for accepting proof of vaccination as a way for holidaymakers to enter this summer, restriction-free.

Later this month the EU will vote on legislation for a bloc-wide vaccination certification system, to unlock travel between the countries by the summer.

But discussions over vaccine passports as a means to reopen international travel have opened up a question among those in younger age brackets, as well as those who cannot or will not get a jab: what happens if you haven’t received two doses of the jab by the time summer comes round?

Greg Dickinson has the answers

04:00 PM

Comment: Where's your can-do spirit, Guernsey? It's barmy to ban the travellers who've earned you millions

Just as there is a glimmer of hope that cruise lines might soon be allowed to resume sailing in UK waters, Guernsey goes and does a Canada, banning cruise ships for the rest of 2021, writes Jane Archer.

Its reason – to protect residents from Covid – makes sense. Or it would if the island was also outlawing holidaymakers arriving by air or ferry for the rest of the year. But no. The Visit Guernsey website assures such visitors they will be “greeted with open arms” once Covid-19 restrictions are lifted.

Coincidentally, the cruise ban came just after P&O Cruises and Princess Cruises revealed they were ditching overseas sailings this summer, promising instead short breaks and week-long voyages in UK waters. The message from Guernsey is loud and clear: Keep away.

guernsey cruise ban - Getty
guernsey cruise ban - Getty

Can this be the same Guernsey that in 2017 boasted it was the UK’s most popular port of call, was “delighted” that more and more cruise ships were piling in (79 in 2019, bringing 115,000 passengers, they crowed) and wanted me to pop over to see what wonders awaited cruisers?

I didn’t need to. Guernsey was the only ‘abroad’ I knew growing up and I have been a fan ever since. But you can go off a place.

Read the full article

03:43 PM

Travel agents warn they may not be able to open on April 12

A number of high street travel agents have warned that they may not be able to reopen on April 12 when Government restrictions are lifted, despite £5 billion pledged to 'restart' grants.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak set the additional funds aside in his Budget on Wednesday to cover the costs of staff, rent and marketing for businesses set to reopen when restrictions are lifted next month.

As non-essential retail, travel agencies will be entitled to £6,000 each, but many fear that high costs and low revenues will outstrip any Government aid.

“We’re sitting tight,” Carolyn Park, director of three-branch agency C The World, told Travel Weekly.

“If we choose to reopen on April 12, we have to pay staff, the furlough pay goes and we’re not earning anything. It’s difficult to plan. Grants are great but they don’t change the fact that, until people travel again, we’re not earning any money.”

Other tour operators and agents who normally work from home have pointed out that they do not qualify for grant money since they do not have retail outlets, and thus will be struggle to cover the costs of starting up again.

03:27 PM

20 hours, six pilots and an ice runway: On board a record-breaking flight from Antarctica to Norway

"Seeing something that huge landing on the ice runway was quite majestic and unreal," says chef Karin Jansdotter. "A big snowy cloud swirled up after the wheels hit the ice and I thought to myself, 'that thing there is finally bringing me home.'"

The 35-year-old Swede is one of 20 people who took the flight from Antarctica to Oslo, Norway, on February 26 after they finished their contracts at Troll, the Norwegian Antarctic research base.

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It was the biggest commercial plane ever to land in Antarctica, with a Boeing 767 operated by Icelandair touching down on a smooth blue ice runway.

The journey back to Norway took 20 hours in total with a short refuelling stop in Cape Town, South Africa. Jansdotter then flew on to Sweden where she is currently quarantining at her family home.

Sadie Whitelocks has the full story

03:10 PM

What the arrival of Four Seasons says about Italy’s under-the-radar region

Puglia has long been a favourite with the A-list and those-in-the-know. Will a new international brand change its off-beat, low-key vibe, asks Charlotte Johnstone.

Like many of the best things in life, when you’ve discovered something truly amazing you want to keep it to yourself but also tell everyone about it.

This is Puglia in a bottle for me. I waste no time persuading people they have to visit before it all changes, and then feel incredibly sad when I hear more and more people go. I suspect it’s the same for others who know the region well.

From 2000 to 2019 international tourism to Puglia, –once one of the poorest regions of Italy, tripled. It was mooted as “the new Tuscany”. Helped by the introduction of direct Ryanair and British Airways flights from London in 2004, and emerging operators like The Thinking Traveller (2003), it was firmly on the culture-hungry, British sybarite radar.

Read the full article

Trulli in Alberobello - Getty
Trulli in Alberobello - Getty

02:55 PM

Budget reaction: 'Job retention has meaning only if the business survives for the employee to return to'

Bharat Gadhoke, Head of Commercial at the Association of Independent Tour Operators (AITO), has welcomed the extension to the furlough scheme, but maintains that more is needed to ensure the travel industry's survival.

He said:

The business rates holiday extension, and the extension of the furlough scheme to end September 2021, are welcome. But why not also use the furlough scheme to pay people to work?

Job retention has meaning only if the business survives for the employee to return to; otherwise, it is an expensive way to pay unemployment benefit in advance.

Tourism seemed to be included, 12 months ago, as part of the grant schemes announced to help retail, leisure and hospitality - but, by the time of distribution, tourism was excluded. The latest guidance must specify travel agents and tour operators as eligible for these schemes to bring to an end the postcode lottery that has excluded us to date.

The Chancellor stated that “certainty matters” – and those of us in tourism sorely lack such certainty at present.

Research continues to demonstrate that the UK’s voters want to travel. UK specialist operators, world leaders in their field, and their specialist travel agent counterparts, make meaningful travel a reality.

Helping the industry through this hardest of times will pay dividends – job retention, job creation, and the mental wellbeing of individuals due to being able both to plan – and to take – a holiday.

02:37 PM

Advice: Can you go camping in the UK this summer?

If the Prime Minister’s roadmap out of lockdown proceeds without hiccough, camping holidays in England could be back on the cards in a matter of weeks.

Campsites, caravan parks, and other forms of “self-contained accommodation” are set to reopen on April 12 at the earliest, although there is scope for this date to be pushed back if the national infection rate doesn’t fall as expected.

The news, however tentative, has come as welcome relief for the thousands of campsite owners across the country who, despite a brief window of business over the summer, have been struggling to get by since the first lockdown was declared almost a year ago.

But there are still some areas of concern.

Find all the details here

Camping restrictions could be lifted as early as April 12 - iStock
Camping restrictions could be lifted as early as April 12 - iStock

02:22 PM

Germany rejects EU call to ease border restrictions

Germany is continuing to resist calls from the EU for it to relax strict new border controls, arguing that restrictions are "in the interest of health protections".

It is one of six countries in the Schengen Zone to have strengthened border controls on people and goods in recent weeks in response to the emerging threat of coronavirus variants in Europe.

The EU Commission reprimanded the six states last week, asserting that restrictions had "gone too far", and demanded that borders remain fully open.

But the German ambassador to the EU replied in a letter earlier this week: “We have to uphold the measures taken at the internal borders at the moment in the interest of health protection.”

Belgium, another of the countries to have been singled out for imposing blocks at its borders, has also refused to lift them.

02:07 PM

Extraordinary cruise holidays you can book with confidence

Here we are, grounded in a prolonged and unfamiliar time-warpish travel ban, and yet there are holidays – extraordinary, adventurous, sigh-inducing “trip-of-a-lifetime” holidays – coming out of the woodwork, says Teresa Machan. We can at least find pleasure in planning.

Expedition cruises lead the way when it comes to seeking out the remote corners of the planet. The simmering pools and steaming fumaroles of Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky in far eastern Russia... how does one get there? By ship, of course. Struggling to choose between the Arctic or Antarctica? See both on a big-ticket trip.

As the following demonstrates, holiday planners have not folded up their maps. Dare to dream – it’s all there for the taking.

Discover the best cruise holidays on sale now

01:54 PM

Rio shuts down as cases surge

Brazil’s second biggest city of Rio de Janeiro will be the latest to adopt new Covid restrictions from Friday, including a night curfew, in a bid to stall a second wave of the virus.

The city of 6.7 million people will impose a curfew from 11pm to 5am and order restaurants to close at 5pm. Certain businesses, such as clubs, will be shut altogether until 11 March, according to information published in the city’s official bulletin.

A record 1,910 deaths related to the virus were recorded yesterday in Brazil. In response, various states and cities have adopted new restrictions on commerce in recent days, including the federal district, home of the capital, Brasilia, and Sao Paulo state, Brazil’s most populous.

01:45 PM

Shuttered bars and mandatory masks: What Med destinations will look like this summer

Overseas holidays could be back from May 17, allowing us to return to our favourite haunts – if they’ll have us. Greece and Spain are among the Mediterranean countries making plans to welcome Britons back this summer. The latter has said it will permit entry to both vaccinated visitors and those with a negative Covid test, the former has raised the prospect of a ‘green corridor’ for inoculated UK visitors.

However, the economic impact of a year in which tourism plummeted across the world is evident in places such as the Greek islands, the Algarve and Andalucía, where a growing number of businesses are facing permanent closure and hospitality staff are struggling for work. The loss of visitors in 2020 was equivalent to 4 per cent of GDP in Greece, 2 per cent in Portugal and 1.5 per cent in Spain, Europe, according to economist Jack Allen-Reynolds.

Parts of Spain, Greece, Portugal and Malta rely on British visitors– come summer, more businesses will have been lost while Covid may linger - Getty
Parts of Spain, Greece, Portugal and Malta rely on British visitors– come summer, more businesses will have been lost while Covid may linger - Getty

Telegraph Travel’s experts have spoken to those working in the tourism industries in some of our favourite European destinations to find out what Britons can expect to find if overseas holidays resume this summer, from whether their favourite taverna is likely to have gone bust to which Covid rules will still be in place.

Read the full article

01:30 PM

Hancock optimistic for 'great British summer'

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said that he hoped the Government would soon be able to lift travel restrictions in the UK thanks to the vaccine rollout.

He said: "I very much hope that as we are able to lift restrictions then we are all able to travel across the UK.

"I'm confident because of the vaccine we will be able to make that progress and then be able to, all of us, to travel freely wherever we are within these islands.

"One of the factors that we have to be vigilant about in that road map is the emergence of new variants, in case the current vaccines are not as effective.

"I've said before that I'm optimistic for a great British summer and I'm now more optimistic about having a great British summer than I have been at any time, thanks to the speed and the effectiveness of the vaccine rollout.

"By great British summer, I absolutely mean people being able to enjoy travel across the whole of the UK.

"The travel rules for Scotland are a matter for the Scottish Government, but I think we can all see that we can make a stride down that roadmap thanks to the speed of the vaccine rollout."

Keen to start planning your Great British getaway? Find everything you need, from inspiration to advice, here.

01:21 PM

You miss travel, yes – but as much as these people?

For some travel lovers, a year of being grounded has had some rather bizarre effects. From donning a pilots' outfit while sipping 'inflight' G&Ts in a gazebo, to becoming oddly obsessed with planes (absence makes the heart grow fonder, after all), or building a ski slope in the back garden – read the confessions of people who miss travel 'too much' here.

Do you have something to confess? Share your antics in the comments section – then carry on, captain. After all, we're clearly in this for the long-haul.

ba drinks trolley
ba drinks trolley

01:10 PM

Surge in ski holiday bookings

Beach holidays might be at the forefront of most peoples’ minds right now, but for many it's the mountains that are calling.

Following the cancellation of all ski holidays this winter the UK’s leading ski tour operator Crystal Ski has seen demand reach new heights.

“We were already seeing significant demand for next season, with bookings well ahead of where we would expect to be in late February/early March. And the Government’s roadmap announcement has further fuelled this. The entire holiday industry is seeing a surge and for Crystal Ski Holidays that’s meant a daily uplift of around 30 per cent, on top of already strong sales, since the timeline was outlined last Monday,” said Chris Logan, managing director.

Destinations in France, Austria and Italy are proving as popular as ever. Val Thorens (France), Obergugrl (Austria) and Sauze d’Oulx (Italy) are currently the top three selling resorts, with bookings for Christmas trips to Lapland also up a staggering 300 per cent compared to 2019. Peak dates such as February half term are also booking up fast, as families look to secure their spot on the slopes after a winter off.

“Confidence is bouncing back; consideration is high and bookings extremely positive. We could actually be in for a bumper season as skiers clamour to get back to the mountains for their first snow fix since the pandemic took hold over a year ago,” continued Logan.

Keen to book your next ski holiday? Here's everything you need to know before doing so.

12:59 PM

International students to avoid hotel quarantine

Foreign students who attend English boarding schools will be able to self isolate at their school, rather than in a quarantine hotel, the government has said.

The Department for Education has said pupils must travel from the airport in pre-arranged private transport, before isolating in “physically self-contained” accommodation at the school.

The decision comes as parents and teachers voiced concerns about the prospect of children coming from countries on the ‘red list’ having to quarantine on their own in a hotel for 10 days. The Boarding Schools Association said this posed a “significant safeguarding risk” to the students.

12:41 PM

A season of false starts

The Italian government’s decision to keep ski lifts shut this winter has been hard. Across the north of Italy, where seasonal income from skiing is worth as much as €12 billion a year, the economic impact has been enormous. Gianni Battaiola, head of the regional hoteliers association in Trentino, the province around Paganella, estimates the knock-on effects on his and other industries are costing the region around €10 million euros per day, writes Tristan Kennedy.

madonna di campiglio - Tristan Kennedy
madonna di campiglio - Tristan Kennedy

Ski resorts in Italy are coming to terms with a lost winter, communities are reeling and vast amounts of money has been spent to prepare for the reopening that has never come.

Read his full report here.

12:29 PM

Cocktail parties and beauty pageants: The strange story of Nevada's atomic tourism

A few seconds after midday, a cry went up from the crowd at the Desert Inn, writes Chris Leadbeater.

It continued for several moments, a mixture of excitement and admiration which – as it hung in the air – seemed to mimic the very thing that had caused it. Some 65 miles to the north-west, the mushroom cloud billowed up, puffed out its chest and rolled with that boiling grey-white fervour of the radioactive explosion.

Seventy years ago, tourists flocked to see nuclear testing in the Nevada desert - Interim Archives
Seventy years ago, tourists flocked to see nuclear testing in the Nevada desert - Interim Archives

Back on the balcony, the onlookers murmured once more and sipped their cocktails – suitably impressed at the rise of the USA’s Atomic Age.

It seems a remarkable and unlikely image now – but this was once the scene that played out in hotels around Las Vegas.

Read the full article here

12:13 PM

Luxury Maldives resort offers stays from £153 a night

As enticing as they look, the Maldives' ubiquitous island resorts are hardly known for being wallet-friendly. But an affordable escape to the idyllic archipelago could be possible after travel restrictions are lifted – provided you can spare the time.

The Standard, Huruvalhi Maldives has launched a new Stowaway Package designed around long-term stays, with rooms starting from $3,600 (£2,580) a night for 14 nights and $6,000 (£4,300) a night for 28 nights.

With breakfast included and a 20% discount on other meals, that works out at £180 per night for the former and £153 per night for the latter.

What's more, the Maldives is currently open to Britons who pass a pre-departure Covid test (although UK travel restrictions forbid us from taking advantage of this until May 17 at the earliest).

The Standard, Huruvalhi Maldives
The Standard, Huruvalhi Maldives

11:57 AM

Meet the family who are offering their luxury holiday let to victims of lockdown domestic abuse

The hospitality, travel and tourism sector was perhaps the hardest hit when the Government announced it would be enforcing a third lockdown on January 4, but instead of wallowing, one family turned the closure of their business into an act of altruism, writes Georgina Fuller.

Vicky and Chris Saynor, who own Bethnal and Bec, a luxury self-catering retreat in Hertfordshire, began offering their studios, for free, to victims of domestic abuse after a previous guest contacted them on New Year’s Eve desperate for somewhere to stay. “Her husband had become increasingly abusive towards her over lockdown and was drinking heavily,” Vicky says. “She knew that we were closed but couldn’t afford a hotel so we took her in and she ended up staying for four days.”

Read the full story here

The family have supported more than 20 victims of domestic abuse - Vicky Stothard
The family have supported more than 20 victims of domestic abuse - Vicky Stothard

11:46 AM

In pictures: Festivities begin as cherries blossom in Wuhan

Spring has most definitely sprung in Wuhan, the Chinese city where the first cases of Covid-19 were detected.

Almost a year since the city's tough 76-day lockdown was lifted, visitors have returned for the start of the Cherry Blossom Festival.

wuhan cherry blossom festival - Getty
wuhan cherry blossom festival - Getty
wuhan cherry blossom festival - Getty
wuhan cherry blossom festival - Getty
wuhan cherry blossom festival - Getty
wuhan cherry blossom festival - Getty

11:33 AM

Tickets go on sale for Qantas 'mystery flights'

With international trips off the table for most Australians, Qantas has announced a series of 'mystery flights' to promote domestic tourism.

Tickets have now gone on sale for the one-day trips, which fly out of Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne on March 27, April 18 and May 1 respectively.

Passengers who book a place on each flight will only find out where they are going just before landing, although the airline is offering some hints, with the Sydney flight billed as "the perfect getaway if you love the tropics, salt water on your skin, and long lunching on the beach."

The Brisbane trip will feature country hospitality, gourmet food and wine, while the Melbourne flight will transport passengers to "the great outdoors".

It is not the first money-raising scheme the Australian flag carrier has come up with since the start of the pandemic: in September it ran a seven-hour flight to nowhere, departing Sydney and low-flying over Uluru and the Great Barrier Reef before coming full-circle.

11:14 AM

Cruise is coming home: UK voyages on offer as lines scrap overseas sailings

Cruise holidays look set to return to UK shores with a series of voyages in home waters intended to be “a highlight of British summer time,” reports Dave Monk.

Sister lines P&O Cruises and Princess are leading the move after scrapping planned overseas itineraries from Southampton and replacing them with short-break and week-long cruises around Britain. Details will be released later this month.

P&O Cruises president Paul Ludlow said: “We cannot wait to give our guests a much-deserved holiday. Our staycations will provide the ultimate escape and we hope they will be a highlight of British summer time.”

One advantage of domestic cruises right now is that they are part of the UK government’s roadmap out of lockdown. As such, they “will not fall under the remit” of year-long advice by the Foreign Office against “international travel on a ship”, the Department for Transport told The Telegraph.

Read the full story

11:02 AM

Lufthansa considers retiring more aircraft as costs mount

Lufthansa has said it will potentially send more planes into early retirement after suffering record losses in 2020.

The German airline group is waiting to see whether business recovers in the summer, but with a net loss of almost €7 billion since the pandemic's onset, more planes may need to be grounded to mitigate further costs.

"We are examining whether all aircraft older than 25 years will remain on the ground permanently," said chief executive Carsten Spohr, who also pledged to make 2021 "a year of redimensioning and modernisation" for the company.

10:50 AM

Been vaccinated? Here's where you can go on holiday this summer

For much of the pandemic, it is the younger generations who have “enjoyed” the meagre silver linings of a bleak era – less prone to the worst of Covid-19, less fearful of the damage it can do, writes Chris Leadbeater.

But as the vaccination process against the virus rolls out, the clouds are starting to part over a more “experienced” set of age groups. Not the twenty- and thirtysomethings who will have to wait their turn for a liberating jab in the arm, but those of a “finer vintage” who are already feeling the benefit of medical science.

Spain, Greece, Romania and the Seychelles are among the destinations which already suggested that their doors will be open to tourists who have received an injection, when international travel returns once again. But where to go with any newly recovered freedom?

Here are 20 possible holiday destinations for the inoculated this summer

Greece has suggested it will open to vaccinated Britons this summer - Getty
Greece has suggested it will open to vaccinated Britons this summer - Getty

10:36 AM

Paradise in the Philippines? Not when face shields are mandatory and kids banned from restaurants

In recent years, the Philippines has grown in popularity among international travellers. There are thousands of idyllic islands and brilliant diving spots, the people are friendly, and it has some of the best mangoes in the world.

Lured by the tropical climate, and an endless selection of beautiful beaches, the number of foreign visitors increased by nearly three million between 2016 and 2019, and the country’s government has spent large sums of money on marketing, as well as growing its eco-tourism sector.

It was well on its way to becoming one of the premier destinations in south-east Asia.

Then the pandemic hit.

Kyle Helke unpicks the country's 'absurd' lockdown rules

philippines lockdown rules - Getty
philippines lockdown rules - Getty

10:24 AM

Greece tightens travel restrictions as cases hit three-month high

The Greek government has announced tougher travel restrictions in a bid to clamp down on the country's growing Covid infection rate.

Citizens have now been told to stay within their own areas for shopping and exercise, and to travel no more than two kilometres (1.2 miles) from their homes.

It comes after the health authorities reported 2,702 new cases on Wednesday – the highest in three months – with almost half of them concentrated in Athens and the surrounding Attica region, despite a strict local lockdown.

“We are returning to the logic of last March,” said Deputy Citizen Protection Minister Nikos Hardalias. “We stay in our neighborhoods.”

10:14 AM

Budget reaction: 'Measures may not be enough to stave off disaster for travel businesses'

Rajeev Shaunak, Head of Travel & Tourism at accountancy firm MHA MacIntyre Hudson, has expressed disappointment in the Chancellor's lack of aid for the travel industry.

He said:

Although expected, it was disappointing to hear no mention at all of sector specific help for travel and tourism in the Chancellor’s speech.

The extension of both the furlough scheme and the business rate holiday are welcome, but they are not a panacea for the travel industry. Unlike many other businesses, tour operators and agents have been unable to go into hibernation in the last 12 months, having had to process refunds for cancelled holidays, and make new bookings for when lockdown and travel restrictions are lifted in the months ahead.

What is not helpful for the sector is the anticipated rise in corporation tax, despite being delayed until 2023... Many businesses will now be sitting on tax losses and the ability to carry these forward for a longer period may well make the difference for their survival.

Overall, despite some welcome news, the Chancellor did not deliver the vote of confidence that the travel industry had been hoping for. Today’s measures may not be enough to stave off disaster for businesses that have had little income over the past 12 months.

10:02 AM

'Don't be tight': Australians urged to spend more on domestic holidays

Australians have been told not to be "stingy" on domestic holidays by the country's Federal Tourism Minister.

Speaking at the annual Destination Australia conference in Sydney earlier today, Dan Tehan added: “Don’t be tight. Spend the same way you do overseas. No penny pinching in Australia this year.”

Mr Tehan is campaigning to kickstart domestic tourism with JobKeeper, the wage subsidy scheme for businesses affected by the pandemic, set to end on March 31.

09:45 AM

Alpine party hotspot to remain closed for ski season after Covid controversy

An Austrian ski resort dubbed the 'Ibiza of the Alps' has confirmed it will not reopen this season after a massive outbreak of Covid infections last year.

Ischgl made headlines last March after thousands of tourists were found to have contracted the virus in its crowded apres-ski bars before returning home and spreading it throughout Europe.

"Our heart is heavy but at the end of the day it is about health, and that is why we are saying, 'Alright, we will call off this winter because of the exceptional situation and concentrate on the summer season'," said Andreas Steibl, director of Ischgl's tourist board.

09:35 AM

Revealed: What it's like to spend two weeks in space (in an old nuclear bunker)

An unheard of town in northern Poland has become a surprising destination for space fans. A two-week space simulation in Pila is offering aspiring astronauts the opportunity to book a post-lockdown break that’s out of this world.

French scientist Benjamin Pothier, 46, is one such individual who has just finished a stay at the Lunares base, which is housed inside a former nuclear bunker.

He tells Telegraph Travel that he stayed there with five other people, and they lived without natural light, ate freeze-dried food and slept in ‘pods’ as they simulated living in a spacecraft for two weeks.

Sadie Whitelocks has the full story

Visitors wear spacesuits to mimic the experience of being on the moon  - Benjamin Pothier
Visitors wear spacesuits to mimic the experience of being on the moon - Benjamin Pothier

09:26 AM

AirBaltic signs up to IATA 'health passport' trials

AirBaltic has become the latest airline to sign up to IATA's fledgling Travel Pass Initiative, exploring the possibility of using a 'digital health passport' to restart international travel.

The Latvian carrier will run a three-week trial of the mobile phone app, which passengers can use to document testing and vaccine information.

IATA hopes that having a standardised method for presenting verifiable health information to border agencies will give governments the confidence to reopen borders.

It is the 11th aviation group to participate in the scheme. Here's the full list of airlines who have trialled – or are currently trialling – the app:

  • Air New Zealand

  • Copa Airlines

  • Emirates

  • Etihad

  • IAG (inc. British Airways, Iberia, Vueling and Aer Lingus)

  • Malaysia Airlines

  • Qatar Airways

  • RwandAir

  • Singapore Airlines

  • Qantas

  • airBaltic

09:10 AM

Budget reaction: 'It is the reopening of international travel that will ensure aviation's survival'

Tim Alderslade, chief executive of Airlines UK, the industry association representing UK-registered carriers, said:

We welcome the extension of the Job Retention Scheme, which has already saved tens of thousands of jobs across UK aviation. This will enable carriers to retain staff as we await the restart of the sector, and provide much needed certainty to airlines needing to make critical planning decisions over the coming months.

Ultimately, it is the reopening of international travel that will ensure we still have an aviation sector but we are clear that without a summer season airlines will require a bespoke support package that goes beyond loans.

That said, there are things the Government can be doing to support the restart and the continued absence of the promised Treasury consultation into APD – a full 12 months since its announcement by the Chancellor – is a source of much frustration and bewilderment.

09:05 AM

Ryanair promises year of low prices to boost holiday revival

Budget airline Ryanair has announced that it will offer cut-price flights for up to a year in a bid to boost air travel.

CEO Michael O'Leary added that he hopes the lower prices will see air traffic this year return to 90% of normal levels.

Speaking before Parliament’s Transport Select Committee yesterday, Mr O'Leary said: “We would be hopeful that we could fly maybe 60, 70 per cent of our normal traffic volumes during the peak summer months… June, July, August and September.”

He also confirmed the airline's losses of €850 million since the start of the pandemic before launching an attack on the lack of financial support from the Government.

“We had to refund over €1.5 billion to customers in the last 12 months because our flights were cancelled by government order," he said.

“There has been no support for that. We have received no support.”

08:52 AM

British Airways launches rapid-result Covid tests for £33

British Airways has announced a partnership with Covid testing firm Qured, which will enable travellers to access a Government-approved rapid Covid-19 test for £33, writes Hazel Plush. The lateral flow test kits are approved for use for pre-arrival testing when entering the UK, and can be taken anywhere in the world.

The portable test kit will return results within 20 minutes, and provide customers with a ‘fit to fly’ certificate – allowing those with a negative result to return freely to the UK within 72 hours of taking the test.

In order for the result to be verified, the self-administered swab tests must be taken during a virtual consultation with a Qured health advisor, via video call. Results certificates are sent to customers via email, or can be uploaded to BA’s digital health app VeriFLY app (on selected routes) to certify the test result.

british airways covid test - BA
british airways covid test - BA

British Airways’ CEO, Sean Doyle, said the service is designed to “remove uncertainty and unnecessary expense for customers.”

This will be welcome news for those who may be unsure how to source a pre departure test while overseas. The tests will be available for purchase via ba.com before travelling, and sent to customers by next-day delivery (currently UK only).

08:44 AM

Good morning

First things first, let's remind ourselves what happened yesterday:

  • Travel and hospitality sectors react to the Budget

  • EU-wide 'vaccine passports' at risk

  • Promising signs for our staycation prospects

  • P&O pledges "a proper summer holiday at sea"

  • Summer holiday cottage bookings up 460pc on 2019

  • Japan could ban spectators from Tokyo Olympics

  • Guernsey bans cruise ship until 2022