- When will destinations reopen to British tourists?
- What are the candidates for an 'air bridge'?
- Can I take a UK holiday yet?
- Listen to our brand new travel podcast
Virgin Atlantic is set to return to the skies this summer, announcing new destinations for August and beyond.
Virgin has today announced plans to return to the following destinations:
- Heathrow to Barbados (August 1)
- Heathrow to San Francisco (August 4)
- Heathrow to Tel Aviv (August 9)
- Heathrow to Miami (August 18)
- Heathrow to Lagos (August 23)
- Heathrow to Atlanta (August 25)
In September the airline will resume services from Heathrow to Washington, D.C, Seattle, Las Vegas, Mumbai, Delhi and Johannesburg, with flights operating from Heathrow to Boston in October.
Last month, the airline opened bookings for the summer of 2021, announcing 24 destinations. It said in a statement: “As countries start to lift travel restrictions and demand for travel begins to return, it is expected that Virgin Atlantic will steadily increase passengers flying in the second half of the year, with a further, gradual recovery through 2021."
It has been a difficult time for the long-haul airline. In early May, Virgin Atlantic announced it would pull out of Gatwick Airport and cut 3,150 jobs, roughly a third of its workforce, in an attempt to cut costs. The company has been particularly exposed to the virus as long-haul flights have been the worst affected in the sector, and are likely to take the longest to recover.
Are we closer to our next holiday?
As the government's "air bridge" announcement looms (keep your eyes peeled this Friday), Tui reveals holidays to Spain and Greece from July 11 and Virgin Atlantic relaunches services from August 1, the answer is – yes.
Here's what we learnt today:
- Cruise lines scrap all US voyages until autumn
- Ski resorts in Europe reopen for summer
Dubai will reopen to tourists on July 7
Disneyland Paris to reopen on July 15
Portugal outbreak threatens air bridge potential
And much more. Scroll down for all of today's stories.
What life is like for the only paying guest in this five-star London hotel
On the edge of Mayfair and facing Hyde Park, Four Seasons Hotel London at Park Lane has long been considered one of the most exclusive addresses in the country, but that designation has never been more apt: over the lockdown period the 196-bedroom property has served as a private holiday home to a solitary guest.
An Australian businessman in his 60s, the privacy-conscious occupant had checked into the property in mid-January for work but found his residency extended indefinitely as restrictions rapidly took force around the world in March and the prospect of safe, convenient travel back to Australia became an impossibility. Though the hotel is closed until August 1, as an existing guest he was allowed to remain on site even after every other customer left and new arrivals were prohibited from checking in.
Lockdown eased in New York
After more than 100 days of lockdown, New York City residents have today been given the green light to get their hair cut, to dine at outdoor cafes and to shop in stores that have been closed for months.
Ski resorts in Europe reopen for summer as lockdown measures are eased
High-altitude ski resorts in France, Austria and Switzerland have begun to reopen their slopes for the summer as lockdown measures are eased around Europe, Lucy Aspden reports.
Thousands of skiers and snowboarders were robbed of the chance to hit the slopes last winter as coronavirus put a premature end to the season in Europe and around the world.
But there is light at the end of the tunnel for some this summer. A number of resorts that are home to snow-sure glaciers are reopening for skiing and snowboarding, providing the opportunity for mostly local snow-sport fans to gain back the turns they missed out on earlier in the year.
Spaniards 'slightly concerned' about UK coronavirus numbers
British holidaymakers will no longer have to go into quarantine on arrival into Spain. But are we going to be welcomed with open arms, or is there some reticence about the return of British tourists to mainland Spain and the Balearic and Canary Islands?
Mike Cliffe-Jones, director of Lanzarote Information, says:
“There’s a real split in Lanzarote. The majority of people here rely on tourism for their income, which, with almost 50 per cent of the market, means British tourism. But there’s a significant minority of mainly retired people who are desperate to keep high-risk tourists out and currently Brits fall into that category, at least until the virus is under better control in the UK.”
Alex Bramwell of Gran Canaria Info agrees:
“I see a fair bit of bemusement in Gran Canaria that the British are coming back while their contagion levels are still relatively high. Some people here are afraid they will bring the virus back to the island.”
Cruise lines scrap all US voyages until autumn
Major cruise lines have ended hopes for a summer season of voyages from the US this year, pushing back their restarts until at least the middle of September, reports Benjamin Parker.
The news was announced by Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA), the largest trade body for the cruise industry, who said that due to the Covid-19 situation in America “member cruise lines have decided to voluntarily extend the period of suspended passenger operations.”
Among the affected operators are Carnival Cruise Line – the world’s largest – as well as Royal Caribbean International. MSC Cruises, Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings and Princess Cruises.
Spain and Greece likely to be among first ‘air bridges’
Tui has announced it will be serving eight short-haul travel destinations from July 11, giving British nationals one of the strongest indications yet of where they will be travelling this summer.
The UK's largest tour operator will fly customers from Gatwick, Manchester and Birmingham - with new safety measures onboard - to the Greek islands of Crete, Rhodes, Kos and Corfu; Spain's Canary Islands Tenerife and Lanzarote, and Majorca and Ibiza in the Balearics.
Tui's commercial director Richard Sofer expressed confidence that the UK will have lifted the 14-day quarantine currently imposed on all arrivals by this date. "Due to the size of our organisation we've been able to have a presence in each of those government conversations through our aviation team or through the senior members of the UK business," he said.
"We're well-informed of where those discussions are. Obviously many of those conversations are confidential but that gives us great confidence to open up a small programme to a couple of really key countries, eight key gateways for us.
"We have absolute confidence that we're going to be getting a positive result from the government in time for July."
No holidays until August without more 'air bridge' details, warn tour operators
Tour operators have put paid to the idea of a sudden resumption of summer holidays, warning they need up to six weeks notice of changing travel restrictions to take travellers away again, Hugh Morris reports.
The Government has hinted at plans to announce “air bridge” deals by the end of the month, with a view to allowing overseas travel for the first time since March in early July.
But travel firms that have spoken to Telegraph Travel have called the Government’s approach to the return of summer holidays confused, nonsense and incompetent. Martin Randell, chairman of Martin Randall Travel, a leading specialist in cultural tours, said:
“They haven’t got a clue. That is evident from the three months of negotiations, there is a bizarre lack of capacity for them to grasp the nature of the industry.
“Fine to say, yes you can have your holidays on July 4, but the idea that clients would decide to go or not at a week’s notice is for the fairies.
“We have taken cancellations as late as we possibly can, which is three our four weeks up to departure, by which point many clients would have decided to cancel anyhow.
“Overseas hotels won’t keep rooms ready for UK customers; if they can fill them with Austrian, Russian or French guests, they will.”
Dubai will reopen to tourists on July 7
Dubai authorities have announced that tourists can visit Dubai from July 7, with strict guidelines for those travelling through the airports, Charlotte Johnstone reports.
Along with the appropriate visa entry permits, travellers will need to obtain medical travel insurance as well as complete a Health Declaration Form, register details on the COVID-19 DXB App, and sign a form declaring that they would bear all costs of quarantine or treatment in Dubai.
This could, however, be a way off for British tourists while the Foreign Office continues to advise against all but essential travel. This means that British nationals can't obtain travel insurance, which is a pre-requisite for entering Dubai.
Travellers will undergo thermal screenings at airports, but airlines will have the right to refuse anyone displaying Covid-19 symptoms from boarding. They will have to adhere to the airline's health and safety policies which, across the board, means wearing a face mask and sticking to social distancing rules.
Why I upped sticks to the Isles of Scilly over lockdown
Grounded by Covid-19, Clare Hargreaves swapped her comfortable food-writing life for a demanding job as a farmhand on the Isles of Scilly.
Disneyland Paris to reopen on July 15
Disneyland Paris will reopen its doors as of July 15, with new social distancing measures in place to ensure guests and 'Cast Members' (staff) are not at risk of catching Covid-19.
Disneyland Paris has also announced the phased reopening of several of its hotels, including Disney's Hotel Cheyenne (July 20), Hotel Santa Fe (August 3) and the Disneyland Hotel on September 7.
Now, for some escapism
Have you listened to our brand new podcast, Postcards, yet?
This week, Griff Rhys Jones transports us to the Galapagos, the Mediterranean and Iceland.
For more episodes, click here, or search for 'Postcards' wherever you get your podcasts.
'Save Our Summer', say UK campsites
The Director Generals of the three leading names in UK camping have come together to urge the Prime Minister to 'Save Our Summer'.
A spokesperson for The Caravan and Motorhome Club, The Camping and Caravanning Club and the British Holiday and Home Parks Association (BH&HPA) said:
“While all three organisations have always said we will only re-open when the Government tells us it is safe to do so, we were dismayed to see in the press over the weekend that, while hotels and bed and breakfasts will be allowed to open on the 4th July, tourist sites with shared facilities, such as campsites, will have to wait longer before being given the green light.
“We will of course only open when it’s safe, but we’d call on the UK and devolved governments not to leave us behind other areas when making decisions on re-opening. It now looks like there’s a real possibility that you will be able to go a pub before you can sit in your own self-contained caravan or motorhome on a campsite.”
Wondering when you'll go camping again? Here's everything you need to know.
Grab some lunch and transport yourself to Pelion in Greece – the country's forgotten corner with sandy beaches and soaring mountains, but no tourists.
Read the feature, here.
The 'new normal' in LA
A waiter wears a protective face shield at a Third Street Promenade restaurant.
Can you go on holiday in the UK yet?
The current rule for people in England is that they “may drive to outdoor open spaces irrespective of distance, so long as they respect social distancing guidance while they are there, because this does not involve contact with people outside your household.”
But “when travelling to outdoor spaces, it is important that people respect the rules in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland and do not travel to different parts of the UK where it would be inconsistent with guidance or regulations issued by the relevant devolved administration.”
This stops short of allowing you to stay away from home overnight, but it means you can take the children out on day trips to the English countryside, national parks or coast, for example. The National Trust is slowly reopening its car parks and attractions, and even some canal boat operators have starting offering day rentals.
Read the full article from Nick Trend here.
There's a heatwave on the way...
... so we've rounded up the finest secret beaches across England.
New Zealand extends ban on cruise ships
Some disappointing – though not altogether surprising – news for cruisers this morning as New Zealand extends its ban on cruise ships, reports Benjamin Parker.
The restriction had been due to end on June 30 but Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern told a press conference this morning that the ban would continue – with no end date set.
Last week Spain announced it was going to continue to ban cruise ships from its shores infinitely, and over the weekend major cruise lines in the USA pushed back their planned restarts until September. It might be time to consider British cruises to salvage your summer sailings.
Inside Australia's strict (but luxurious) 14-day hotel quarantine
It's strict, but luxurious, writes Ronan O'Connell.
While 14 nights locked in a room with no opening windows sounds miserable, it could be much worse. It could be me, and not the Government, footing the £5,000-plus bill for our stay in luxurious connecting rooms in a five-star hotel that provides my wife, son and I with three free meals a day.
That is, however, the expensive reality which will soon face some Australian residents returning from overseas. From July 1, the State of Queensland will begin charging people up to £1,500 for their 14-day hotel quarantine.
'New and beautified' Khao San Road to reopen in August
Bangkok's Khao San Road, the thoroughfare on which the central character of The Beach firsts hears about a secret desert island community, is going through something of a deep clean.
Finishing touches are being put to renovation works on the street, said Bangkok's deputy governor Sakoltee Phattiyakul.
And it's not stopping here.
"In the next phase, we will renovate Rambuttri and Tani Roads to beautify the Banglamphu area," he added. "On roads not frequented by vendors, we will plant more trees to offer shady spots for tourists."
"I cannot wait for hotels to reopen..."
"... so my mum can finally meet her granddaughter", writes Hugh Morris.
"I was not after some luxury hideout in the rurals, to escape the city for my first post-pandemic “staycation”, nor did I desire one of the Grand Dames of central London to lay my head somewhere decadent for a night, to feel the unrivalled comfort of a hotel bed; to leave these four walls.
"All I wanted was for the budget hotel in the Sainsbury's car park up the road from our Walthamstow flat to welcome guests again so my mum could travel down from Liverpool to meet her granddaughter."
Will Covid-19 spell the death of the gap year?
Natalie Paris writes:
If some trips do end up running this autumn, young gappers will have to accept that their experiences might look very different to those of the backpackers before them. Crowded beaches will be a thing of the past and social gatherings, like full-moon parties, will quite probably be illegal in countries like Thailand. Cheap seats on public transport might be harder to come by, especially if countries demand a certain amount of space between seats. In somewhere like India, say, private taxis might be a more expensive but plausible alternative to taking the train.
Read the full article, here.
Summer skiing is the best in decades
Ski resorts in Europe are back in business as those with high-altitude glaciers have begun to welcome back the first skiers and snowboarders since they were shut prematurely in March, Lucy Aspden reports.
Warren Smith, The Telegraph’s ski technique editor and acclaimed ski instructor, hit the slopes on the Zermatt-Cervinia Matterhorn glacier for the first time yesterday.
“I did my first ski since Covid yesterday and the snow was the best summer ski snow since 1999, both in terms of depth and quality,” Smith told The Telegraph.
Quality snow conditions will be welcome news for resorts that are eager to welcome visitors back to the mountains as they attempt to adapt to life in the post pandemic age – see which other resorts are reopening for summer skiing and snowboarding here.
Portugal outbreak threatens air bridge potential
Portugal's reputation as one of the European countries that has best controlled Covid-19 is under threat, as the country sees several hundred daily cases and a growing outbreak in the Algarve region.
Portugal's Foreign Ministry has insisted the rise is due to the fact that Portugal has a higher rate of testing than most EU members.
Portugal ranks sixth in its testing rate: 98,700 tests per million inhabitants, and it has registered far lower deaths and infections than neighbouring Spain.
Which airlines have announced the resumption of flights?
Air travel has ground to a halt around the world, with hundreds of thousands of flights cancelled, but plans are afoot to fly once again.
We take a look at the current resumption plans of some of the UK’s key airlines – including British Airways, Virgin and easyJet – when they want to start services again and when you will be able to book.
Read the full article here.
Indonesia's most active volcano erupts
Indonesia's most active volcano has erupted, spewing ash up to 6km into the sky. Watch the video below.
Hotels could get 'safety mark'
Restaurants, hotels and pubs could be given a "consumer mark" to show they are safe for customers to go to, the director of Visit Britain has said.
Boris Johnson will discuss reopening the hospitality sector and loosening the two-metre social-distancing rule in England with his top Cabinet colleagues and scientists today.
The Prime Minister and his most senior ministers will on Monday discuss the next steps for the lockdown with chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance and chief medical officer for England Professor Chris Whitty.
Mr Johnson will then on Tuesday outline the plans to Parliament for pubs, restaurants, hotels and hairdressers to reopen in England from July 4, and a likely loosening of the distance rule to aid the restart to the economy.
Patricia Yates, director at Visit Britain, told the BBC's Radio 4 Today programme:
"We're looking at doing a consumer mark so that businesses can look at the guidance they can go online, they can show that they're complying with it all and then they can have a consumer mark saying 'we're good to go' that really displays to customers and staff and local residence that this business understands Covid-19 and it's a good place to go."
Criticism of Tui's 'private briefings'
Rory Boland, editor of Which? Travel, has spoken out about the news that Tui has been present in government conversations about air bridge negotiations.
"If I was a tour operator struggling to stay afloat, and desperate to sell holidays again I would be pissed off that the gov seems to have been privately briefing TUI on when holidays abroad can restart. How is that fair competition?" he Tweeted.
TUI, UK’s biggest travel company, wholesale broke the law on refunds. Gov response? Here is a leg up to get selling again.— Rory Boland (@roryboland) June 21, 2020
Vivid, and other smaller operators dip into personal funds to refund customers. Gov response? Nothing. No help. https://t.co/sAPOj2JZIP
In a follow-up Tweet, Boland pointed out that smaller tour operators have stuck to the law on refunds, and yet have not been privy to the government air bridge conversations.
What happened over the weekend?
Too busy having fun over the weekend to keep track on the world's travel news? Worry not. Here are the top stories from Saturday and Sunday.
- Britons permitted to enter Spain with no quarantine
- New Covid-19 outbreak in Portugal threatens air bridge
- Cruises in the US cancelled until mid-September
- Ireland extends 14-day quarantine period until July 9
- UK Airport testing could allow arrivals to skip quarantine
- The Eiffel Tower will reopen stairs but no lifts
- Saudi Arabia to invest £3.2bn in tourism
- Cases rise in South Africa as lockdown eases
Now, on to today's news.