Travel news latest: 'Don't book now', holidaymakers warned

Travel news latest: ‘Don’t book now’, holidaymakers warned

A travel agent has warned its customers not to book a summer holiday until the Government has given more detail on its traffic light system.

This week has seen positive news from Spain, Portugal and Cyprus on the prospect of a British return this summer alongside confirmation that the NHS app will be used as a Covid passport for foreign travel, but Lee Hunt, managing director of Deben Travel, says he is dissuading his customers from booking.

“There is still so much uncertainty,” he said. “We are actively putting customers off booking for this summer until the list of green countries is announced along with the associated rules. We then hope to see an influx of bookings.”

Jet2, one of the UK’s largest holiday airlines, has cancelled all flights up until June 24. In a statement it said it looked forward to “clarity [from the Government] about when we can fly, where we can fly to, and how much a Covid-19 testing regime will cost”.

Graham Carter, commercial director of luxury operator, Unforgettable Travel Company, said the absence of detail from the Government will mean “that any major travel between May and early July will [already] be impacted”.

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If you book a festival ticket, ‘you carry some risk’

If you have booked a ticket to a festival in the UK, “you carry some risk”, a minister has warned. 

Despite the Government vowing life will return to normal on June 21 according to its roadmap, this is the latest hint that all restrictions will not be lifted on that date. Vaccines Minister Nadhim Zahawi was repeatedly asked on the BBC’s Radio 4 Today programme whether or not people should be booking tickets for festivals in July or August. 

While he said there was “no evidence” that the Government would miss the May 17 and June 21 milestones, Mr Zahawi insisted “we have to remain cautious”. 

Pressed repeatedly on whether or not people should be booking a ticket, he said: “If you are now booking, you do carry some risk, clearly because we have to follow the data.”

Spain warns will only welcome UK tourists back if Britain reciprocates

Spain has warned that it will only welcome British holidaymakers back to its resorts if the UK offers the same deal to its tourists.

Spain is preparing to open its borders to British holidaymakers in June provided they have a digital vaccine certificate or a negative Covid test result. But the tourism ministry told The Telegraph that the UK must “accept the same terms for Spanish travellers who go to the UK”.

Spain is looking to create its own version of the EU’s proposed digital green certificate to show vaccination status or test results, with plans to trial the technology at 46 airports next month.

It is thought unlikely that Spain will be on the UK Government’s safe “green list” for quarantine-free travel from May 17, when the ban on foreign travel is due to be lifted, but the moves show that opening up to holidays will require bilateral negotiations and the need for digital Covid status certificates.

Read the full story.

Can we expect an update on the holiday ‘traffic light’ system today?

The Government is expected to reveal which countries will be rated green, amber and red next month. 

However, Paul Charles, chief executive of travel consultancy The PC Agency, has suggested there will be some more detail on the system today. 

Heathrow’s losses near £2.4bn

Heathrow has posted a first quarter loss of £329 million, taking total losses since the start of the pandemic to nearly £2.4 billion as travel continues to be hammered.

It said only 1.7 million passengers travelled through the London airport in the three months to March 31, down 91 per cent compared to the first quarter of 2019.

Heathrow, which during the pandemic lost its crown as Europe’s busiest hub to Paris, said continuing uncertainty over British government policy meant it had reduced its passenger forecast for the year to a range of between 13 million and 36 million, compared to 81 million in 2019.

Britain’s aviation industry is hoping that flying will rebound in late May once Covid-19 restrictions are eased, but uncertainty remains about where people will be able to go, and how digital vaccine passports will work.

Jamaica warns UK not to ‘play vaccine politics’ over holidays

Jamaica has warned Britain it will be guilty of “vaccine politics” and unfair discrimination if it bans travel to the island nation next month, reports Charles Hymas.

Edmund Bartlett, its tourism minister, said the UK’s new “traffic light” system for travel was “unfair” to small nations like Jamaica that had not had access to Covid vaccines.

The system for determining whether foreign travel bans are lifted from May 17 is based on countries’ vaccination rates, the prevalence of Covid and its variants and capacity for accurate testing to track the spread of the virus.

But speaking at the World Travel and Tourism Council Global Summit in Cancun, Mexico, Mr Bartlett said it was a recipe for global unfairness and “disruption” and urged the UK to honour its historic Commonwealth links by sharing its vaccine supplies with Jamaica and other poorer nations.

Read the full story.

The most hassle-free holidays likely to be on the green list

Next month, the UK Government will publish its ‘green list’ for travel. Travellers coming to the UK from listed destinations will not be required to quarantine on arrival (either in hotels or at home). In that respect, it will minimise ‘hassle’ – though you’ll still need to take at least two Covid tests on your return home, and be prepared for some extra form-filling pretty much anywhere you decide to go. 

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Which country will you be jetting off to this year?

Crucially, each green list destination will have its own approach to British travellers: some have confirmed that they’ll welcome us with open arms, whether vaccinated or not; while others will likely still be demanding a period of self-isolation, even if you test negative pre-arrival. Spain – and its islands – will require beachgoers to wear face masks for the foreseeable. Malta, meanwhile, still has a 5pm restaurant curfew in place.

That’s a lot of hassle for one holiday – too much, you might surmise. So, to help you figure out which destinations could be on the cards for a (relatively) restriction-free break this summer, we’ve delved into the approach of each place which might be green-listed, and what we know so far.

The Seychelles, the Maldives and Gibraltar will be among the most hassle-free destinations, if they are green-listed.

Find out what to expect elsewhere.

Testing system for holidaymakers at risk of collapse, says Which?

The UK’s Covid testing system for holidaymakers risks collapsing this summer as private labs are failing to deliver results on time, a Which? report has found.  

Some passengers arriving in the UK are having to extend their quarantine or pay for additional Covid tests because of the delays, according to an investigation by the consumer group.  

It warned the system may not have the capacity to cope with just weeks before international travel is set to open on May 17.  

Only four private test providers out of more than 500 on the Government’s list of companies have been accredited. And of those four, only two offered test kits on days two and eight for “amber” country holidaymakers and travellers. 

Read the full story.

What happened yesterday? 

Here’s a recap of the main headlines from Wednesday:

  • Holiday vaccine passports needed for Spain from June  
  • UK to use Test and Trace app as vaccine passport, says Shapps
  • Vaccinated pensioners to deliver staycation boost to crisis-hit Scottish tourism industry
  • EU told it risks forgeries and mistrust it fails bloc’s passport scheme
  • Portugal to open to Britons from ‘middle of May’
  • Boeing eyes cautious passenger number rebound in US
  • Cyprus to confirm vaccine passports after green list announcement 

Now onto today’s news.