UK holidaymakers who have been keeping tabs on imminent air bridge announcements – and had hoped this meant their trips to European destinations including Spain, Italy and Greece would be able to go ahead this summer – could be in for disappointment.
Tui have cancelled 95 per cent of its holidays in July, and easyJet are only running about half of their flights – although in some cases cancellation emails are only going out now. This means that even if air bridges were to be confirmed by the Government at the weekend as proposed, many UK holidaymakers will still not be able to travel on their existing bookings.
Several easyJet and Tui customers posted news of their cancelled flights for the coming weeks on Twitter yesterday, calling into question whether the proposed air bridges would actually be coming into effect any time soon.
My @easyJet return flight to Corfu in mid-July has just been cancelled, so that “air bridge” with Greece seems a bit further off than previously expected…
— Nick Stylianou (@nmsonline) June 25, 2020
Government ministers are meeting today at 12.30pm to finalise air bridge agreements, which are set to be announced in full on Monday.
Follow all of the daily news below.
Behind the scenes of a five-star London hotel during lockdown
While most country hotels are preparing to reopen on July 4, or shortly thereafter, the situation in London is markedly different. Stuart Procter, who runs The Stafford Hotel in Mayfair, is also a member of an association of managers of top London hotels.
“Forty per cent will open on July 4” (including the Mandarin Oriental, Flemings, Corinthia, Hilton Park Lane), he says; “twenty per cent some time in August, and the rest, including The Savoy and Rosewood London, have not yet declared an opening date – some may wait for months”.
The Stafford will reopen on August 3 and though Procter can’t wait, he knows it will be a pretty low-key affair. While luxury country hotels are experiencing a high volume of bookings for July and August, it is not the same in London. “I’m not going to lie”, says Procter. “We expect about 20 per cent occupancy for the rest of the summer.” If the government reverses its ludicrous decision on quarantine, then things may look up, but without it, there is no business. No quarantine and air bridges will bring back our clients, 80 per cent of whom get here on an aeroplane.”
On the day in March that the Government instructed all hotels to close, Procter and seven other senior colleagues shrouded everything – furniture, plates, pots, glasses, saucepans, the lot – in either white sheets or clingfilm and switched off the lights. Seven of them made a rota: each would stay alone in the hotel in turn for 24 hours, from 9pm to 9am before the next took over. One of their jobs has been to flush every loo in the 107 bedrooms and turn on every tap and shower for five minutes to prevent the system from seizing up – and the threat of Legionnaire’s disease.
Fiona Duncan has the full story on what it’s like to be the only person in a five-star hotel.
Has this Swedish restaurant perfected the art of socially distant dining?
Nowhere is a new restaurant experience opening in August in Sweden with just six tables, spread around the Häringe Nature Reserve just outside Stockholm. Each table is found in a different setting, in near complete isolation.
Guests can choose between a wooden grove, a peaceful meadow or even at the end of a lone pier. The concept was created by Oddbird, a winery that makes non-alcoholic wine; the food will be served by the chefs behind innovative Stockholm pop-up Garba; and design is courtesy of Danish b&b owners The Norrmans.
The restaurant is already fully booked, proving its isolated dining tables in beautiful settings are exactly what people are looking for with a meal out post lockdown.
British Airways offers pay rises for some cabin crew
British Airways has vowed not to cut the salaries of its 14,000 cabin crew by more than 20pc in an offer presented to unions as the airline seeks to slash costs after flights were grounded worldwide.
The flag carrier is already planning to axe up to 12,000 staff – more than a quarter of its workforce – and change the terms and conditions for those who keep their jobs, prompting MPs on the Transport Select Committee to label it a “national disgrace”.
The proposals would also mean that more than 40pc of cabin staff who survive the purge get a pay rise, with “market-leading salaries” of between £28,000 and £31,000 for crew and £38,000 for managers.
The 20pc limit on pay cuts was intended to help cushion the blow for long-serving BA crew on contracts that pay them up as much as £70,000, or three times the market rate.
The Unite and GMB unions that represent cabin crew have not taken part in talks with the airline, but the proposals have been sent to them.
Chris Johnston has more details here.
Italy’s tourist board lays out new rules for British visitors
As Italy gets ready to welcome visitors back, the country’s tourist board has released an extensive list of guidelines and protocols to reassure visitors, reports Charlotte Johnstone.
The information, which is published on Italia’s website, outlines specific health and safety measures for museums, hotels, bars and restaurants, which have now reopened. Campsites, mountain huts and beach resorts are also operational under these protocols, as are airports, railway stations and transport services.
Bars and restaurants for instance, may ask customers to to sanitise hands before entry. They may also implement different entry and exit routes. Body temperature may be measured when going into beach resorts, and beach-goers may have to wait to be seated at a beach umbrella. Group sports that can lead to a gathering of people are banned.
Holidaymakers will need to wear a mask at all times indoors and where social distancing isn’t possible, including public transport. They must also adhere to a one-metre social distancing rule in all public areas including restaurants, hotels and communal spaces.
Flavio Zappacosta, Italia manager for UK and Ireland commented:
With the extensive and thorough protocols available online for travellers, we hope to reassure visitors that Italy is ready for tourists and has the correct measures in place to both ensure their health and safety whilst having a fantastic experience in the destination.
Along with France, Spain, Greece and Germany, Italy is one of the only European countries likely to be included in the first stage of air bridges with the UK – which is expected to be officially announced this weekend.
Once this is confirmed, British visitors will be able visit Italy with no quarantine restrictions and will be able to move freely within the whole country, though registration is required upon entering Sardinia, Sicily, Puglia and Calabria.
Should you book right now, or wait? Greg Dickinson has the answer.
Why will none of London’s museums or art galleries reopen on July 4?
Not one of London’s major museums and galleries will reopen on July 4, despite being given the green light to do so from the Government.
The latest easing of lockdown measures means that from next Saturday, cultural institutions, along with pubs, restaurants and hotels, will be permitted to welcome visitors, provided that they adopt a raft of safety and social distancing measures.
While many hospitality businesses have been clamouring to reopen and quickly announced their plans after the Prime Minister’s statement, the capital’s cultural attractions have been much more reticent.
After the announcement, the Directors of the Tate, Science Museum Group, Natural History Museum, National Gallery, British Museum and Victoria and Albert Museum issued a joint statement, which offered no concrete plans:
We welcome the Prime Minister’s announcement to allow the safe reopening of our galleries to the public this summer. We will now work closely with the Government, trade unions and supporters to see how and when we can open our doors again in a financially sustainable manner, for the long term.
Emma Beaumont has the full story.
Tui cancels all Florida holidays until December
The UK’s largest tour operator has cancelled all holidays to Florida for UK customers until December 1. This news comes soon after the Sunshine State recorded its highest number of Covid-19 cases since the pandemic began. Many of Florida’s tourism businesses also fear a second shutdown as cases soar.
In a statement, Tui said:
The decision has been made following new health and safety measures implemented at Walt Disney World to ensure the safety of its guests. ‘These changes would significantly impact the holiday experience for many Tui customers who plan their magical and often once in a lifetime Florida holiday.
Spain-Holiday.com has seen UK&I traffic jump 72 per cent since June 21
Since the opening of the Spanish border to members of the EU’s Schengen Zone and the UK on June 21, Spain-Holiday.com has seen UK&I traffic jump 72 per cent.
The holiday rental site, with villas, apartments and country homes across Spain, has also reported a 104 per cent surge in searches for properties with pools.
Peter Jarvis, Head of International Brands at Spain-Holiday.com added
It’s very early days for Brits this summer who are still researching where to go, but so far we are seeing a huge interest in holiday homes in villages and small towns, particularly in the Alicante or Andalucia areas. Clearly people want to be away from the crowds in a holiday home, not in the big heartland cities. We are seeing this manifest through falls in interest in city breaks such as Madrid, Barcelona and Seville, falling on average 9 per cent versus last year. Interestingly at Spain-Holiday.com we have also seen a fall in island destinations which are only reachable by medium-haul or changing planes such as the Canary Islands, presumably because many people want a short hop to the sun this year.
Find the latest advice on travel to Spain here.
Tourism officials in Portugal are still in discussion with British government over air bridges
There has been much debate in the past 48 hours as to whether Portugal will be included in the UK’s air bridge plans.
Mary Lussiana shared the reaction of tourism business owners across the country, summed up best by Tara Donovan, who runs Casa Fuzetta in Olhã: ‘The uncertainty is crippling.”
Chris Leadbeater wrote how the “Portugal ‘air bridge’ snub would be a strange way to treat your oldest friend.”
But Luis Araujo, President of Turismo de Portugal, has taken a more positive approach. He told Telegraph Travel:
The Portuguese government and tourism officials remain in constant discussion with the British government regarding air bridge agreements and conversations continue to progress well. At this stage it would not be sensible nor rational to speculate as to which countries will be included in a bilateral travel arrangement until an official announcement is made on the 29th June by the UK government. We fully respect the date given by the UK government for an announcement to be made and we do not intend to undermine this be speculating on the outcome beforehand.
The Portuguese tourism board remain fully confident in the safety of our nation and tourism establishments as well as the effectiveness of the safety measures put in place, swiftly, to ensure that visitors can feel safe and welcome here.
Read the latest air bridge news here.
Luxury cruise returns as first voyage departs in Norway
Cruise is slowly reawakening across Europe’s rivers and coastlines, and now a luxury option is back in the mix.
SeaDream Yacht Club, made up of two small vessels, has set sail from Oslo, becoming the first luxury line to resume operations since the coronavirus pandemic caused the world’s cruise industry ground to a halt in March 2020.
So far only two river cruise lines – Nicko Travel in Germany and A-Rosa in Portugal – have returned to service, with Hurtigruten the first to take to the ocean around Norway.
The two ships, SeaDream I and SeaDream II, both take a maximum of 112 passengers, with the line citing their size as an advantage which allows them “to quickly adapt their itineraries to comply with government regulations.”
The first seven-day itinerary will sail as far north as Tromsø, with ports of call including Bergen, Olden, Geiranger, Ålesund, Flåm, Rosendal and Skagen.
Benjamin Parker has the full story.
‘This snobbish shaming of beachgoers has to stop’
We live in curious times when a traffic jam at the beach on the hottest day of the year is described as a “MAJOR INCIDENT”, says Telegraph Travel’s Oliver Smith.
The locals in Bournemouth, which was inundated with sunseekers yesterday, prompting the police warning, went even further. “It’s like Armageddon,” said one. Yes, a few thousand people letting their hair down at the seaside is apparently comparable to the final battle between good and evil before the Day of Judgement.
The outrage on social media has been remarkable. “Selfish idiots,” was one verdict, summing up the general tide of opinion. “Ban people from beaches,” was another commentator’s even-handed solution. “It’s not even a bank holiday!” said a third, as if our coastal towns should remain empty on all but eight days of the year.
The opprobrium levelled at those who decided to pack their lilo and factor 30 and head to the seaside this week has been withering – and almost entirely unfair.
Yes, those who leave litter behind deserve criticism. And there will always be a few fools who go too far, drink too much, and engage in antisocial behaviour.
But the vast majority of those who flocked to Bournemouth broke no rules. They were simply trying to make the most of the heatwave after the best part of three months stuck at home. What’s wrong with that?
Read the full opinion piece here.
Full steam ahead as Britain’s heritage trains emerge from their hibernation
As the country eases its way out of lockdown, many of Britain’s celebrated heritage and steam operated railway lines have announced dates for the first post-lockdown journeys of the summer.
They have had to make a number of modifications, adapting to the changed times with face masks and social distancing.
There will be tighter booking conditions – gone for the time being are the rover tickets, allowing you to hop from train to train throughout the day as you please. Instead, in come limited pre-booked round-trips. Compartment carriages will be more in evidence than the more common open ones. On board dining will in the main be a more modest affair.
But the trains are slowly gearing up to get back on track.
Here are five great journeys to whet the appetite. All aboard!
As much as £4.6bn could still be owed to Britons for cancelled holidays
As much as £4.6 billion is still owed to British holidaymakers due to coronavirus cancellations, new figures suggest.
As tour operators and airlines prepare to welcome holidaymakers again thanks to the easing of travel restrictions, questions remain over the efficiency of the refund process for those whose trips were cancelled by the pandemic.
In April, Abta, the British travel association, said up to £7 billion was owed to UK consumers because of affected travel. Hundreds of thousands of flights and holidays have been cancelled since March.
Now, it seems less than half of that has been paid back to holidaymakers.
Resolver, the resolution firm, said 67 per cent of its travel complaints brought between March and May remain unresolved; across the UK, that could equate to £4.6 billion.
Hugh Morris has more details here.
Far from the madding crowds: Britain’s best secret and remote beaches
Lockdown has made us look again at what we have around us, and that includes some of the most beautiful coastal scenery in Europe. Who hasn’t felt the thrill of that first glimpse of the sea, whether it is between the high hedges of a Cornish lane, from the wide Norfolk cornfields, through the towering peaks of Scotland or over the grassy brow of the Sussex Downs?
You will still need to be vigilant, of course, and not just about Covid matters; the RNLI had to pause its recruitment of lifeguards in March, so fewer beaches will have cover this summer. Take heed, too, of warnings against overcrowding, as happened on the South Coast this week.
Discover Britain’s best secret beaches here.
Uzbekistan will pay tourists £2,400 if they catch Covid-19
As Uzbekistan opens its borders to travellers for the first time since March, its government has pledged to compensate tourists who catch Covid-19 while holidaying there.
Those who contract the virus within the Central Asian country could be granted US$3,000 (£2,417) to cover the costs of medical care in an Uzbek hospital.
“We want to reassure tourists they can come to Uzbekistan,” said Sophie Ibbotson, Uzbekistan’s tourism ambassador to the UK.
“The government is so confident that the new safety and hygiene measures being implemented across the tourism sector will protect tourists from Covid-19 that the president is prepared to put money where his mouth is: if you get Covid-19 on holiday in Uzbekistan, we will compensate you.”
However, the offer only applies to visitors who are part of a tour group which is being led by a local guide.
Tom Mulvihill has the full story.
‘Unenforceable’ air bridges could lead to tourism subterfuge
Unenforceable summer travel restrictions could lead to “tourism subterfuge,” with travellers flying to an approved destination, then driving a short distance to an area missed off of the UK air bridges list, experts have warned.
Paul Charles, spokesman for the campaign group Quash Quarantine, which represents 400 of the biggest travel and hospitality businesses in Britain, argued, “It’s very difficult to restrict people’s freedom of movement when it comes to travel in Europe, because of the nature of the Schengen Zone. It enables me to fly into one country and then move around by car without borders preventing me from moving from country to country, especially now as they open up.”
He added that the system would be unenforceable and people could easily reach a different destination by driving across borders. For instance, there will be nothing to stop someone flying into Seville and making the short drive to a beach holiday in the Algarve, nor someone landing in Cologne before ending up in Amsterdam for the weekend.
“I think the government is realising that it is harder than they think to create these corridors with such narrow criteria,” shared Mr Charles, also chief executive of PC Consultancy. “I think the government is undoubtedly going to have to widen the number of corridors it initially created.”
As it stands, France, Italy, Spain, Greece and Germany are the only European countries likely to be included in the first stage of air bridges with the UK. The government is due to confirm the countries on the air bridge list this weekend, with around 10 countries in Europe named across the first two stages. Charles thinks that number could be boosted to 20 or 30, asking for countries that would not be included to be the exception rather than the rule.
For example, it makes sense to not allow travel to countries with high case numbers like Sweden, but to create arbitrary rules about other European countries that all have a lower R number than ours does not make sense, nor will it be able to be policed.
Charles concluded: “We’ve got to get going again, we can’t sit still and hope that the economy picks up by not doing anything. We’ve got to manage a recovery. While of course health is important and should be the number one priority, equally we’ve got to get going, get the economy moving, and allow travel again, albeit with some restrictions.”
The ultimate guide to a summer holiday in air bridge candidate Gibraltar
The British Overseas Territory of Gibraltar is on the list of likely candidates for an air bridge, meaning summer holidays there could happen without risk of quarantine upon return to the UK.
On the southern tip of the Iberian peninsula, with the Atlantic on one side and the Mediterranean on the other and just 15 miles from Morocco, Gibraltar is dominated by the dramatic limestone Rock and covers an area of just over two and a half square miles. There is a lot packed into that small space though and it is really worth staying longer than a day, whether you’re interested in history, anthropology, geology, nature or marine life. Not to mention the shopping.
Annie Bennett has you covered, with all the best things to do and places to eat and stay.
‘The uncertainty is crippling’: Portugal fears absence of Britons this summer
Under the blue skies of the Algarve, most hotels are already open. Floors gleaming with disinfectant, bedroom doors sealed, hopeful smiles behind the masks – but where are the guests?
A few weeks ago, an air bridge with the UK seemed so certain (and, given the impressive handling of Covid-19 in Portugal, so obvious). Now it is unclear whether Portugal will be able to welcome British holidaymakers this summer at all.
“It doesn’t make much sense to me,” said Armando Ribeiro, who runs a Travel PR company in Lisbon, “not when they are opening up to Italy and Spain, who have been so much worse than Portugal. Yes, there have been clusters on the outskirts of Lisbon, but these are not dramatic events in a country which has proved able to handle the coronavirus.”
In the south, Tara Donovan, who runs Casa Fuzetta in Olhão, reacted with frustration. ‘The uncertainty is crippling,” she told me. “We had 35 groups booked for this year. Some took place before lockdown but 22 have already cancelled and of the remainder only a handful feel positive. Portugal have done have a fantastic job. The UK government’s lack of clarity and delay is having a devastating impact.”
Mary Lussiana has the full story here.
Princess Cruises has completed 60 per cent of requested refunds
Feeling frustrated about getting your holiday refund? Princess Cruises has revealed they have so far completed 60 per cent of requested refunds, reports Benjamin Parker.
While the line – whose ship, Diamond Princess, was the first with confirmed cases of coronavirus on board – said that giving customers their money back or organising credits for future cruises “remained one of our top priorities”, they are still unable to give specific dates about when all refunds will be received.
A spokesman said:
Despite significantly increasing people resources in this area, we needed to also ramp up our systems capabilities to be able to handle higher volume and significant complexity.
With a global scope, our refund process is an involved one, dealing with 13 different currencies and various payment methods.
Details about refund options, as well as when cruise lines will be sailing again, can be found here in our comprehensive guide.
More than 40 tonnes of waste removed from Bournemouth beaches overnight
Services at Bournemouth beaches were left completely overstretched yesterday as visitors arrived in large volumes, resulting in widespread problems of illegal parking, excessive waste, anti-social behaviour, gridlock on roads and prohibited overnight camping.
Council Leader Vikki Slade said in a statement:
We are absolutely appalled at the scenes witnessed on our beaches, particularly at Bournemouth and Sandbanks, in the last 24-48 hours. The irresponsible behaviour and actions of so many people is just shocking and our services are stretched to the absolute hilt trying to keep everyone safe. We have had no choice now but to declare a major incident and initiate an emergency response.
Many locals have taken to Twitter to share photos of the rubbish that was piled up on the beaches.
The results of an hour’s litter pick at #Sandbanks this morning. Dirty nappies. Used sanitary towels. Hundreds of gas canisters. Enough booze bottles to open a bar. Needles. People should be ashamed of themselves. pic.twitter.com/ZSlpM56UwY
— Katie Mosses (@katie_mosses) June 26, 2020
Croatia could miss out on summer tourism completely if air bridge is not confirmed soon
Yesterday, Telegraph Travel reported that Portugal’s omission from the likely list of initial air bridge agreements had been called an “absolute body blow” as other European nations welcomed their inclusion.
Portugal is not the only country likely to miss out out though, and experts across the industry have been calling for details to be announced as soon as possible, even if key summer holiday destinations will not quality for an air bridge until the second or third tranche.
Jonny Baylis, founder of Aglow Pilgrimages, comments:
It’s extremely disappointing to hear that Croatia is unlikely to be included in the first tranche of air bridges.
It’s our most popular destination for pilgrimages, and we’ve had hundreds of enquiries that we’d love to fulfil, but concerns around quarantining are raised time and again by people calling to book.
People don’t want to travel if they have to quarantine when they return home, and until we have a firm date when quarantine rules will be lifted, we are having to turn down a huge amount of business.
It would be a game changer for us if the Government could at least confirm that Croatia will be one of the destinations in the second or third waves of air bridges. People would at least feel more confident about booking now rather than waiting.
Key dates: When will destinations around the world reopen to British tourists?
I’m heading abroad this summer – but what if things go wrong?
It seems summer holidays may end up happening after all. That said, if you’re planning a trip abroad there are still a lot of unknown factors. Consumer expert Nick Trend has put together a troubleshooting guide in case you take the plunge and things go wrong.
Key questions in his comprehensive guide include
Will my insurance cover Covid-19?
I haven’t got any insurance – will I be able to get some?
What if there is a resurgence of the pandemic in the destination I have booked?
My holiday is on, but I really don’t want to go. What can I do?
My holiday was disappointing, can I claim compensation?
Find out the answers to these and more here.
Guernsey and Isle of Man agree ‘air bridge’
For the first time since 2013, commercial flights will begin to operate between Guernsey and the Isle of Man in July. The Aurigny flights will run for an initial six-week period.
This is thanks to the fact that the two Crown Dependencies have agreed an ‘air bridge’, which they announced in a joint statement. It is the first travel corridor agreement in the British Isles since the coronavirus lockdown began.
Both governments cited the very similar measures of the two islands in terms of border controls from other locations, and robust testing and contact tracing capabilities, as the reason the agreement was able to go ahead. Neither Guernsey or the Isle of man has had a new case of Covid-19 for “several weeks”, and a 14-day quarantine is currently in place for all other new arrivals.
Howard Quayle MHK, Chief Minister of the Isle of Man, shared:
Announcing our first air bridge, and unrestricted travel to the Islands of Guernsey, is a major milestone and reflects how well both communities have responded to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Which countries will the UK announce for ‘air bridge’ holidays this summer? Find the latest news here.
Warning over holiday scams as bookings for staycations soar
Criminals are exploiting the coronavirus pandemic to scam would-be holidaymakers, UK Finance has warned.
With the Government expected to announce ‘air bridges’ with several other nations in the next few days, a number of fake holiday lettings sites have been set up with the purpose of duping consumers into parting with hefty deposits for villas that do not exist.
The websites are slickly designed to resemble those of genuine travel companies, with small tweaks in their URLs the only indication that they are not legitimate, the financial sector trade association said.
There has also been a large spike in phishing attacks, with fraudsters impersonating airlines and travel agencies to offer refunds for cancelled holidays in an attempt to steal personal information and infect their victims’ phones and computers with malware.
Read the full story.
World’s largest square rigger to cruise from Britain next year
With sails billowing in the wind, the world’s biggest square-rigged ship is to make its first voyages from Britain next year.
Golden Horizon will carry up to 272 passengers on seven sailings from Harwich and two from Glasgow, starting in May. A round-Britain voyage will see the ship anchoring off Cowes, on the Isle of Wight, for the traditional regatta fireworks display. Northern European itineraries will include Denmark, Iceland, the Norwegian fjords and the Baltics.
Designed as a replica of France II, a five-masted barque built in 1913, Golden Horizon will be powered by its 35 sails for around 70 per cent of the time, with an engine back-up.
The 530ft-long ship, originally designed as Flying Clipper for the Star Clippers fleet, will include a two-tier restaurant, three bars, three pools – including an 18ft dive pool spanning two decks – and a water sports platform.
Read Dave Monk’s full report.