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Bookings for Portugal holidays are surging, despite the country’s borders remaining closed to tourists. In the wake of the green list announcement, tour operator Jet2 is reporting a 1,300pc week-on-week rise in holiday reservations, while Ryanair has released an additional 175,000 seats on its UK-Portugal routes this summer.
Holiday agency Not Just Travel is experiencing a ‘frenzy of activity’ for Portugal bookings, according to co-founder Steve Witt, and Tui has also announced new flights between the UK and Madeira and the Algarve.
However, mainland Portugal remains off-limits to tourism, with no indication of when holidays may resume. As the UK’s Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office warns, ‘If you are travelling from the UK, you can only enter [Portugal] for essential purposes, such as to live with immediate family members, or for professional, educational, health or humanitarian reasons.’
However, tourism to Portuguese islands Madeira and the Azores is currently permitted, with only the requirement for pre-arrival PCR tests.
Travel agencies are selling Portugal itineraries in the hope that the country’s restrictions may ease, but if tourism remains off-limits they will be forced to rebook or refund holidaymakers. Some are more cautious than others: while Ryanair’s new flights will launch on May 17, Jet2 has delayed its resumption of flights and holidays until June 24.
Portugal is one of just 12 destinations on the ‘green list’, announced by transport secretary Grant Shapps last week – meaning that holidays can resume from May 17, and travellers returning to the UK will not be required to quarantine.
Scroll down for more on this, and today’s other top travel stories.
Greece holiday cancellations ‘pouring in’ after ‘amber’ designation
Greek hoteliers are reporting that cancellations are “pouring in” from British tourists, after the country was added to the UK’s ‘amber’ list on Friday.
Greece had hoped to be declared a safe ‘green’ country on the UK’s controversial traffic light system of tourist destinations. But along with Italy, Spain and other countries popular with British visitors, it was judged to be too high-risk.
“Cancellations are starting to pour in for this [three-week] period,” Minas Hatzimichail, the president of the Hoteliers’ Association of the island of Kos told the Greek TV station ANT1. “Vaccinations in major tourist destinations should have happened in time. Europe should have received the message that we are safe”.
Britons returning to the UK from Greece will have to go through a 10-day period of self-isolation and two PCR tests. The decision is set to be re-examined in three weeks.
“There have been cancellations following the UK’s announcement,” said Babis Voulgaris, the president of the Hoteliers’ Association of Corfu.
Free lateral flow tests may not be approved for departing green list holidaymakers
Free lateral flow tests may not be approved for green list holidaymakers to use pre-departure, amid concerns about their effectiveness.
Holidaymakers returning from “green” list destinations may instead have to pay for their pre-departure tests from May 17, when the ban on foreign travel is lifted.
The Government had proposed fast turnaround lateral flow tests would be made available free of charge to people travelling abroad to cut the hassle and expense of getting a pre-return test in a foreign country.
The free kits were due to be announced by Transport Secretary Grant Shapps on Friday when he unveiled the list of 12 safe “green” countries including Portugal, Israel, Gibraltar and Iceland.
But sources have told The Telegraph that the free kits may not now be allowed for use by May 17 because of the failure to reach “cross-Government agreement” on the scheme, amid concerns about validating the test results which are self-administered by travellers and their accuracy.
A quick catch-up on the headlines
It has been a busy few days for travel, in the wake of the ‘green list’ announcement. Here’s a quick recap:
- 12 destinations have been added to the green list
- Europe’s most popular holiday destinations are classified as amber
- Turkey, Nepal and the Maldives added to the red list
- Holidaymakers face Heathrow queues of up to eight hours
- New York City wants to begin offering coronavirus inoculations to tourists
Now, on with today’s travel news.