Portugal is the most popular destination for British holidaymakers likely to miss out on the first wave of air bridge agreements set to be announced this weekend.
The country’s tourist board is likely to be deeply disappointed. Luis Araujo, chief executive of Visit Portugal, this week told the Telegraph that he was optimistic the UK would be “fully confident” for Britons to return. “We are very excited to be welcoming them back,” he said. Portugal welcomed 2.5million visitors from the UK last year.
However, according to sources, the country’s recent spike in coronavirus cases has meant Portugal will have to wait before enjoying friction-less travel with the UK.
Turkey, Croatia and the US are two other popular destinations not to be included in the first tranche of deals.
France, Spain and Italy, however, will be included in the first deals, allowing the return of travellers for the first time since March.
Follow the latest news below
Holiday searches for Spain spike
TravelSupermarket has reported a surge in traffic from British holidaymakers looking for trips to Spain this summer, as a possible air bridge agreement appears on the horizon.
Searches for package holidays to Majorca are up 102 per cent the last fortnight compared to the first two weeks of June, 86 per cent up for the Balearics and 55 per cent up to Costa del Sol. Conversely, the comparison website said, searches for the US are down 22 per cent.
Tenerife, Corfu and Rhodes have also seen rises in interest.
Emma Coulthurst from TravelSupermarket said that there had also been large growth in searches for UK holidays after the Government announced the reopening of the tourism industry from July 4. Searches for UK cottages are up 141 per cent this week compared to last. Car hire bookings are up 41 per cent.
Air travel ramping up in Europe
With all the talk of the air bridge deals that might be in place next week, it is worth noting that planes are already returning to European skies. According to Eurocontrol, which monitors air traffic across the Continent, yesterday saw 9,000 aircraft airborne for the first time since March.
Refunds within 14 days, British Airways holidays promises customers
The package arm of British Airways has launched a “customer promise” that includes several measures it says will help customers book their holidays in confidence.
British Airways Holidays says anyone who books a trip before August 31 for travel up to next April, will be able to amend or cancel their booking free of charge.
It also said that should your holiday be cancelled you will receive a refund in 14 days, a deadline that caused a number of travel business trouble in recent months.
BAH said it had asked its hotel partners to agree to minimum standards in terms of keeping guests safe from coronavirus.
British Airways has run a skeleton schedule throughout the pandemic, but is believed to be planning to ramp up its services in July.
‘I’m the only British tourist in Tenerife’
Paul Richardson could be the luckiest Briton in Europe.
On a slow morning in early June, as Spain languished under Europe’s strictest lockdown, I had a call from the manager of a small group of exquisite lodgings on the north coast of Tenerife.
For the first time in living memory, Alberto del Hoyo told me over the phone, Tenerife’s colonial towns and mountain landscapes were devoid of tourists, its beauty spots quieter and lovelier than ever. The island’s tourist industry had collapsed a month earlier and none of its 426 hotels was open, but del Hoyo’s own 17th-century Hacienda de las Cuatro Ventanas had discreetly begun welcoming local clients.
My curiosity piqued, I hatched a plan.
Read the full story.
Centre Parcs announces reopening dates
Centre Parcs will reopen across the UK on July 13 for the first time since March.
The five resorts will open with new measures in place, including changes to some activities to maintain social distancing, enhanced cleaning protocols and changes to arrival and departure times. Pools and spas will not be open until at least July 28, the company said.
Only cashless payments will be accepted across the villages and all activities must be booked online. A new takeaway service will be in place for lodges.
Center Parcs’ CEO, Martin Dalby, said: “We’ve had our teams working around the clock to review everything we do, right down to the smallest detail, and we‘re now ready to open our doors again.
“Those families who have visited us before will notice some changes to the way we’re doing things, but the essence of a Center Parcs break will remain the same, offering a fantastic short break experience with plenty of space within our 400 acres of natural woodland.”
Greece set for UK return on July 1
Greece wants British holidaymakers to return on July 1, the country’s tourism minister has said.
Haris Theoharis said that a decision between the UK and Greece will “be in place in the next few days” and that there should be no need for visitors returning to Britain from Greece to quarantine.
Greece is one of the countries included in the initial tranche of air bridge deals reported by the Telegraph today.
Theoharis told Radio 4: “The point is that Greece is a safe country – we have proven that during this crisis and we will continue proving this in the exit stages of the health situation. We feel that the risk of someone contracting the disease in Greece is much lower than most of the countries in Europe and indeed the rest of the world.”
FAQs: Everything you need to know about UK holidays this summer
Bookings for UK holidays have soared since Boris Johnson announced an easing of the lockdown from July 4.
Here is everything you need to know about your ‘staycation’ this summer – and what is left to find out.
Qantas cuts jobs and retires 747s
Australian airline Qantas is to cut at least 6,000 jobs and keep 15,000 more workers on furlough as it struggles to survive the coronavirus pandemic.
The carrier said it also plans to ground 100 planes for more than a year and will retire its last six Boeing 747 aircraft.
Qantas is a popular choice for Britons travelling to Australia, especially since the launch of the first non-stop, direct route between London and Perth in 2018.
Chief Executive Alan Joyce said the airline has to become smaller as it braces for several years of much lower revenues. He said the furloughed workers faced a long interruption to their airline careers.
“The actions that we’re taking will have a huge impact on thousands of our people. This is something that weighs very heavily on all of us,” Joyce told reporters. “This is something that we don’t make a decision on very easily. But the collapse of billions of dollars in revenue leaves us with little choice if we are to save as many jobs as possible longer term.”
Joyce said the airline entered the crisis in a better position than most airlines and remained optimistic about the future.
Premier Inn staff to wear PPE
Guests staying at Premier Inn this summer will be kept apart by floor markings in the communal areas of the hotel, while staff will be behind acrylic screens at check-in and wear additional PPE “where appropriate”.
New no-touch key return boxes and automated hand sanitisers are among changes to be introduced by the hotel chain as it prepares to reopen on July 4.
Premier Inns are, of course, not the only hotels due to open next weekend. See here for the latest news on the UK’s finest properties, and when they plan to welcome back guests.
EasyJet to resume international flights next week
EasyJet is to resume more domestic and international flights from July 1, the airline has announced.
The low-cost carrier resumed operations earlier in the month, with a limited schedule, but said it would fly from 14 UK airports next week for the first time since March. By July, it will fly 50 per cent of its 1,022 routes, and 75 per cent by August.
Some of the first international routes include services to Paris, Milan and Barcelona, as well as destinations in the Balearics and Canary Islands, and airports in Greece, Croatia and Portugal.
Additional measures in place to prevent the spread of coronavirus will include “enhanced aircraft disinfection”, the mandatory wearing of masks by crew and customers and the removal of on-board food services.
Robert Carey, chief commercial and strategy officer, said: “These measures will remain in place for as long as is needed to ensure customers and crew are able to fly safely as the world continues to recover from the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.”
Telegraph Travel’s Greg Dickinson was on the first flight EasyJet operated since the beginning of the pandemic. Read his review of the experience.
In pictures: Eiffel Tower reopens, but you have to take the stairs
The Eiffel Tower has reopened to visitors for the first time since March.
Visitors must wear face masks, keep their distance from each other and only use the stairs. The Paris attraction’s lifts will be in operation again in July.
Read more: Will the City of Love ever be the same again?
‘It’s not that we wanted you to stay away forever’
Away from the news of imminent overseas travel, the UK’s holiday hotspots are braced for an influx of visitors in July and August after the Government announced the easing of lockdown restrictions.
Hazel Plush reports
After months of begging visitors to ‘Stay Away’, England’s local tourism boards are finally able to change their tune – and, for hospitality businesses and holiday-hungry tourists, it’s music to our ears. But when restrictions lift on 4 July, will its honeypot destinations really be welcoming tourists with open arms? And, after all their pleas to postpone our plans, will they be dropping that rather hostile message for good?
“It wasn’t that we didn’t want you to stay away forever – it’s because we cared about you, and the people of Cornwall!”, says Malcolm Bell, Chief Executive of Visit Cornwall. “We were the first English tourist board to ask people to stay away, and that message was absolutely vital at the time, but now – at last – it is changing.”
Now, the emphasis will be on planning and booking, says Bell: “There’s never been a more important time for clear messaging, and ours is emphatically that visitors are welcome after July 4 – but booking [for restaurants, attractions and accommodation] will be absolutely essential.”
Read the full story.
Top 10: UK holidaymaker favourites
These were the 10 most visited countries last year by British holidaymakers. Of the below, Spain, France, Italy, Germany and Greece look to be part of the first wave of air bridge deals next week.
Spain 15.62million UK visitors
Revealed: First air bridge deals for UK holidaymakers
Good morning. The key story today is the revelation of which countries are likely to be linked with the UK via a bilateral ‘air bridge’ deal next week, allowing for the resumption of summer holidays. According to sources, the agreements will appear thus:
First tranche including:
France, Italy, Spain, Greece and Germany
Second tranche including:
Denmark, Norway, Finland, Holland, ‘low-risk’ Caribbean islands, La Reunion
Third tranche including
Vietnam, Singapore, Hong Kong
Read the full story.