'Just five European countries poised for green list'

·35 min read
Portugal is set for the green list this summer - GETTY
Portugal is set for the green list this summer - GETTY

There may only be five European destinations on the UK Government’s ‘green’ list of countries when overseas holidays are set to return from next month.

Portugal, Malta, Iceland, Finland and Gibraltar look set to welcome with the least amount of hassle when coming home. Those considered ‘green’ mean returning travellers aren’t required to quarantine, and need only take two coronavirus tests – though countries may have their own rules in place for arrivals.

Analysis from travel consultancy The PC Agency shows that outside of Europe there may be more options, including Israel – where the Covid-19 vaccine has been a huge success – as well as Morocco and a string of Caribbean islands.

Its chief executive, Paul Charles, added that the expectation is that most of Europe will be labelled ‘green’ by the end of June, at which point the United States may also be in that category.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps is due to confirm when travel can restart on May 10, but Mr Charles said on Twitter that “we expect [the UK Government] to announce their traffic lights on 6th or 7th May.”

The earliest date for the resumption of international leisure travel is May 17, as per Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s strategy to ease coronavirus restrictions. Government sources have suggested that final decisions on the list will only be taken in the middle of next week when analysts can consider the latest data on vaccination rates and infection and variant prevalence in the countries.

Scroll down for the latest travel updates.

04:04 PM

The stories you need to know about today

That's all, folks. Here are the some of the key stories from today (scroll down to read more), but we leave you with news that next week we might actually find out which countries make the first incarnation of the "green" list.

  • Italy hits key vaccination target

  • Scotland faces legal action over hospitality restrictions

  • Just five European countries poised for 'green list'

  • Public events ban as Sri Lanka Covid cases spike

  • EasyJet boss: Most of Europe should be green

  • Republic of Ireland to wait until July for pints inside a pub

03:56 PM

Disneyland reopens as California eases lockdown

Disneyland, California's world-famous theme park, reopened to excited visitors Friday after an unprecedented 13-month closure in what tourism officials hope is a sign of the state's rebound from the pandemic.

The reopening came just four months after the nation's most populous state was struggling to combat a surge in coronavirus hospitalizations that packed patients into outdoor tents and killed hundreds of people each day.

Some visitors cheered and screamed with happiness as they entered Disneyland.

For now, the park is allowing only in-state visitors and operating at limited capacity. The park now has hand sanitizing stations and signs reminding visitors to keep their distance and wear masks. Benches are marked as "designated dining areas" where visitors can remove face coverings to eat.

Disneyland reopened with a flag-raising ceremony - Bloomberg
Disneyland reopened with a flag-raising ceremony - Bloomberg

03:37 PM

Teletext Holidays 'extremely disappointed' with CMA

Teletext Holidays has issued a response to a warning from the CMA that it faces legal action if it does not refund customers for holidays cancelled due to the pandemic (12.47pm).

The company said it was “extremely disappointed with today’s CMA announcement that seemingly ignores the reality of the challenges we face through no fault of our own”.

It said in a statement: “We at Teletext Holidays understand our responsibilities as a package organiser under the Package Travel Regulations. The sheer scale of the pandemic and the vast number of holiday cancellations, has unfortunately meant that some of our customers are still awaiting refunds from us.

“We are absolutely committed to repaying all our customers whose holidays were cancelled due to the pandemic, we have committed to refunding all new customers within 14 days of any new booking, and we will continue to work with the CMA to seek support and agreement to complete this process.”

03:15 PM

The UK's latest Covid figures

There have been 15 new Covid-related deaths in the UK, according to the government's latest figures.

There were also 2,381 new infections reported in the last day.

The total number of deaths within 28 days of a positive test has risen to 127,517,

03:01 PM

Introducing the clean-living reinvention of the traditional ski holiday

Trade cheese and wine for fine (healthy) dining and quirky spa therapies in a French ski resort dedicated to keeping skiers in shape, writes Leslie Woit.

Discover a healthy ski holiday in Les Trois Vallées - GEORGE CLERK/GETTY
Discover a healthy ski holiday in Les Trois Vallées - GEORGE CLERK/GETTY

Despite the fresh air and exercise, a French ski resort is not usually the place for a healthy week away – nothing says “forget the diet” like croissants for breakfast and a white-gloved waitress wheeling a tower of butter at lunch.

“It’s not cheating, it’s balancing,” declared my lunch mate, tucking into seconds of ambrosial bread and butter at two-Michelin-starred Le Chabichou in Courchevel 1850. She had a point. And, it turns out, visiting such a gourmet address is not out of the question when searching out a healthy alternative to the traditional cheese-infused ski week.

Way down on the valley floor below better-known Trois Vallées stable-mates Courchevel, Méribel and Val Thorens, still with direct gondola access to the world’s biggest ski area, Brides Les Bains gives affordable access to 600km of piste and furling swathes of off piste. And as well as being home to good-value two- and three-star hotels, the town has long been known for its thermal baths and medical treatments.

Read more here.

02:46 PM

12 of the best options for a holiday in France this July

France has set its sight on a June reopening, but given its infection rates, July feels more likely, says Hugh Morris.

The schedule is not dissimilar to ours, in the UK, but France’s infection rates, though falling, are far worse, with a rolling seven day average of new cases more than 10 times greater.

Even if France opens its doors in June, it seems unlikely that our Gallic neighbours will be added to the UK’s “green” list by then; July feels a lot more realistic should the country’s third wave continue on its current trajectory.

With that in mind, we’ve rounded up below some of the best options for France this summer, with half an eye on steering clear of the crowds, from Provence to the Pyrenees, and dare we say it, Paris.

Read the full article here.

Sète is a good base in the Languedoc - PASCALE GUERET/GETTY
Sète is a good base in the Languedoc - PASCALE GUERET/GETTY

02:30 PM

London City Airport air traffic controllers to work from 80 miles away

London City Airport digital control tower - VICTORIA JONES/PA WIRE
London City Airport digital control tower - VICTORIA JONES/PA WIRE

London City Airport has become Britain's the first major airport to operate without a staffed air traffic control tower.

Pilots travelling to and from the east London hub will instead be directed by controllers based 80 miles away in Hampshire, following a two-years of testing.

Juliet Kennedy, operations director at air navigation provider, Nats, said: "This is the UK’s first major digital control tower and represents a significant technological and operational achievement, especially against the backdrop of Covid-19."

Alison FitzGerald, the airport's chief operating officer, said that "smart infrastructure will help us meet future growth in passenger demand, improve air traffic management and give us enhanced capability as aviation bounces back from the pandemic."

02:11 PM

Cruise ship returns to port after positive Covid test

A Japanese cruise ship with 295 passengers on board is returning to Yokohama port after one person tested positive for Covid-19.

Asuka II, which is also carrying 425 crew members, is pected to dock tomorrow at around 12pm local time.

A spokesman for NYK Cruises said the infected passenger had tested negative before embarkation but tested positive on board yesterday.

They are stable and are isolating in a cabin and only one person has been in close contact, the operator added. The itinerary was not due to end until May 5.

02:00 PM

The Great British Escape: Where's full, where's not and how to secure a trip

With the UK’s holiday hotspots fit to burst, research reveals where to go and what to book for a holiday on home soil this summer. Lucy Aspden reports.

Last year, the loss of domestic tourism, due to lockdowns, and foreign tourists, thanks to border restrictions, cost the British economy a staggering £80 billion, according to Visit Britain. After months of closures and lost visitors, it’s time for the British tourism industry to bounce back as restrictions are eased.

“The confirmation from the Prime Minister that the reopening of tourism is on track is very encouraging news for England’s tourism industry and the millions of jobs and local economies that depend on it, especially in the run-up to the May half-term and the critical summer season,” said a spokesperson for the tourist board, whose most recent research reveals confidence in the future of UK trips is at a high

Over a third of people are now certain they’ll be able to holiday on home soil in June, and close to a fifth of people say they’ll take more short breaks in the UK this year than they previously would.

As the nation dips its toe back into holidaying, we ask the experts how things are really looking for this summer, whether destinations will be full to bursting and accommodation sold out, and whether there’s still hope for those of us still looking to secure a staycation.

Read the full piece.

There's enormous demand for holidays right now, but you can still find availability – if you look in the right places - GETTY
There's enormous demand for holidays right now, but you can still find availability – if you look in the right places - GETTY

01:50 PM

What needs to line up for international travel to successful return?

Julia Lo Bue-Said, the chief executive of Advantage Travel Partnership, thinks she has the answer.

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01:42 PM

'Disney Cruise Lines asking all their passengers to be vaccinated is as mean as Cruella De Vil'

All passengers over the age of 18 are required to be fully vaccinated before boarding a Disney cruise ship this summer – leaving out a lot of families, says cruise writer Jane Archer.

From adopting a wait-and-see approach to whether passengers would have to be vaccinated against Covid-19 when it unveiled its Magic at Sea staycations earlier this month, Disney Cruise Line has steered a rapid change of course. Or as some might say, shot itself well and truly in the gunwales.

Much of this is in line with what most of the dozen or so other companies offering cruise staycations are mandating. It makes sense for the likes of Saga, which is exclusively for folk aged over 50, who are potentially at greater risk if they catch Covid, and for some other lines that attract more mature travellers (but of course is really tough on cruise lovers who, for whatever reason, cannot have the vaccine).

But Disney’s target market is young people and families. Its UK cruises – two, three or four-night sailings from Liverpool, Southampton, Newcastle and Tilbury with no port calls and only for UK residents – will be on Disney Magic, a dream of a ship where kids can party with Captain Mickey, meet Woody and co from Toy Story, dress like princesses and watch shows themed around Disney characters. There are pirate parties, kids’ clubs and cabins designed especially for families.

Read the full piece here.

Disney Magic at sea - MATT STROSHANE
Disney Magic at sea - MATT STROSHANE

01:28 PM

Spring is here... and so is snow

Lambs in the snow - CHRIS STRICKLAND/ALAMY LIVE NEWS
Lambs in the snow - CHRIS STRICKLAND/ALAMY LIVE NEWS

A snapshot from today: A ewe and lamb on the Otterburn Firing Ranges in Northumberland National Park.

01:12 PM

UK staycations: Have you considered a narrowboat?

With such an emphasis this year on holidays in the UK, perhaps a narrowboating floats your, well, boat.

Nigel Stevens, the director of Drifters Waterways Holidays, told Telegraph Travel why people should consider it.

He said:

Narrowboating is brilliant because it's an outdoor holiday where you take your self-contained accommodation with you. Our beautiful 3,000 mile network of inland waterways takes boaters through some of Britain's best loved countryside, with a plenty of canalside pubs with beer gardens with visit along the way.

The pandemic has made many of us appreciate nature even more. Canals are green corridors providing habitat for many types of animals, birds and insects. And they pass through many of Britain's most-famous historic towns and cities, including Stratford-upon-Avon, Oxford, Warwick, Bath, Birmingham, Manchester and Chester.

Narrowboat holiday-makers this year are really keen to explore parts of England, Wales and Scotland they don’t know, and the world as seen from a boat is a magical, different place.

Mr Stevens added: "Despite the late start, bookings for this year are already at, or surpassing, those achieved in the whole of 2019."

Read more: The best UK canal boat holidays to book now – before they sell out

12:57 PM

Will people be able to watch the Tokyo Olympics in person?

This summer's Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan, could take place behind closed doors with no spectators, the head of the organising committee has said.

Seiko Hashimoto said that "the only way that we can call the Games a success is if we completely protect the lives and health of athletes and the people of Japan", reports AFP.

Foreign visitors have already been banned from travelling to watch the Olympics, which begin in July, but a final decision on spectator is expected in June.

12:50 PM

Italy hits key vaccination target

Might a holiday in Italy be looking more likely? The country has, for the first time, inoculated more than 500,000 people in a day, meeting a key vaccination target.

Authorities initially hoped to reach the milestone by mid-April, but pushed back the objective as supply shortages stymied immunisation efforts across Europe.

"Yesterday more than 500,000 doses of the vaccine were administered in Italy," Health Minister Roberto Speranza wrote on Facebook, hailing the institutional "team work" that led to the result.

Read more: Can I travel to Italy? The latest holiday advice

12:38 PM

Foreign tourists numbers drop in Portugal

Portugal has seen the number of tourists arriving from overseas plummet 92 per cent in the first quarter of 2021 when compared with the same period in 2020, according to the latest figures.

High rates of Covid infections saw the country go back into lockdown in the early months of this year.

The National Statistics Institute reported that 160,000 foreign travellers stayed in Portuguese hotels between January and March.

A beach on the Algarve in Portugal - GETTY
A beach on the Algarve in Portugal - GETTY

12:28 PM

Scotland faces legal action over hospitality restrictions

The Scottish Government is facing a legal challenge over the restrictions it has imposed on the hospitality and night life sectors.

PA reports:

The Night Time Industries Scotland trade body has announced it is launching legal action to end restrictions such as limits on venue capacity and opening hours. The group argues the curbs are "no longer justifiable or proportionate", and claims their continuation would be a breach of the Human Rights Act.

A statement from Night Time Industries Scotland said: "The hospitality sector in general, and late-night sector in particular, has been driven to the edge of insolvency by the severe restrictions in place since the start of the pandemic.

"Scottish Government support has been wholly inadequate to compensate for operating losses and a majority of businesses have now incurred unsustainable debt as a result.

Customers are allowed inside pubs in Glasgow now - Getty
Customers are allowed inside pubs in Glasgow now - Getty

It describes social distancing as "toxic for businesses across numerous sectors of the economy", including restaurants, pubs and bars, wedding suppliers, music venues, nightclubs, coach tours and the wider travel and tourism industry.

It goes on: "All those at serious risk of hospitalisation or mortality have now been offered a vaccine, and take-up rates have been well above expectations with almost all of JCVI groups 1-9 now vaccinated.

"These groups represent around 99% of preventable mortality from Covid-19 and the results of vaccination are startlingly effective."

Cafes, beer gardens, non-essential shops and museums reopened in Scotland on Monday as the country moved from Level 4 to Level 3 of the Scottish Government's five tiers of restrictions. But hospitality venues must close at 8pm indoors, and alcohol can only be served outside.

12:14 PM

Spotlight: Is France over its third wave?

Against all odds France reckons it will welcome overseas tourists as early as June.

President Emmanuel Macron said this week the country will reopen to holidaymakers on June 9, so long as they can prove they have been vaccinated or present a negative test. On June 30, all leftover restrictions, such as curfews and the like, will be lifted.

The schedule is not dissimilar to ours, in the UK, but France’s infection rates, though falling, are far worse, with a rolling seven day average of new cases more than 10 times greater.

Here is how its numbers look like against the UK's

12:01 PM

In pictures: Tulips in bloom across Europe

Tulips bloom in Emirgan Park, Istanbul - AP
Tulips bloom in Emirgan Park, Istanbul - AP
Rows of flowers in Lisse, Netherlands - Reuters
Rows of flowers in Lisse, Netherlands - Reuters
Keukenhof Park, Lisse, Netherlands - Reuters
Keukenhof Park, Lisse, Netherlands - Reuters

11:47 AM

Teletext Holidays threatened with legal action over pandemic refunds

Teletext Holidays will face legal action unless it repays more than £7 million to customers whose package holidays were cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic, the competition watchdog has warned.

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) said the firm has failed to address its concerns after hundreds of customers complained they had not received refunds owed for cancelled trips within 14 days, as required by consumer law.

CMA chief executive Andrea Coscelli said: "It is unacceptable that many have already waited months for the refunds they are legally entitled to. We take very seriously the ongoing failure of Teletext Holidays to meet its obligations.

"The firm must now comply with the law and commit to refunding its customers. If it does not do so, we will not hesitate to pursue this case in court."

The CMA said it wrote to Truly Holdings Ltd - which operates Teletext Holidays - in March, setting out its concerns and giving it "an opportunity to address them".

It told the firm it could avoid potential court action by signing formal commitments to refund affected consumers and ensure compliance with Package Travel Regulations.

But the company has not agreed to provide undertakings "that are sufficient to address the CMA's concerns", according to the watchdog.

Package holiday firms have faced severe criticism from the CMA due to the slow pace of processing refunds.

11:29 AM

The sleepy Yorkshire village where the hippie spirit burns strong

Head to Grassington in September for dancing in the streets in polka-dot frocks, writes Renate Ruge.

“Ey up, who’s this sniffing about,” I wonder, pulling into Grassington’s car park – that’s more like a field.

Horned Swaledale sheep roam around polished sports cars belonging to ‘offcomers’ (visitors like you and I), here to revel in the glorious beauty of this picturesque part of the Dales. And it really is picturesque. We’re talking wild, spectacular landscapes of rolling hills stretching to infinity, chequered with rugged limestone walls. Or peaceful walks taking in ancient grass woods, the stunning River Wharfe and sparkling Linton Falls.

But pause before you head for the hills; there’s also lots to discover in the cobbles of Grassington itself. This not-so-sleepy village doubles as fictional ‘Darrowby’, the idyllic setting of Channel 5’s TV series, All Creatures Great and Small, based on the real-life memoirs of rural vet James Herriot.

Today, shop fronts are liveried up for filming of the second series, which airs in September. Next door to the ‘gentleman’s fitters’, the Devonshire Arms pub has morphed into the ‘Drovers Arms’.

Read the full story here.

11:17 AM

One for those with a head for heights...

The world’s longest pedestrian suspension bridge has been completed in Arouca, Portugal.

Named Arouca 516, it is located 575 feet (175 metres) over the River Paiva, in the Arouca Geopark.

516 Arouca -  VIOLETA SANTOS MOURA/REUTERS
516 Arouca - VIOLETA SANTOS MOURA/REUTERS

Stretching 1,693 feet (516 metres) across, it knocks the previous record holder, the Charles Kuonen Bridge in the Swiss Alps, off the top spot.

The bridge took two years to construct.

516 Arouca -  VIOLETA SANTOS MOURA/REUTERS
516 Arouca - VIOLETA SANTOS MOURA/REUTERS

11:06 AM

Public events ban as Sri Lanka Covid cases spike

Sri Lanka has announced a ban on all public events for the next fortnight, including weddings and large religious services.

The country is now reporting more than 1,000 new cases a day following a number of celebrations earlier this month. The ban will be implemented from Monday.

Last year Sri Lanka was quick to stop the first waves of coronavirus from spreading.

11:01 AM

Forgive me if I’m not frolicking around the Maypole, but this is not the time for a bank holiday

Even at the best of times, bank holidays are a bore, writes Ed Grenby. Why not give us the days as additional holiday to take as and when?

Bank holidays, even at the best of times (ie before social media), were a bore.Only your most annoying colleagues have ever been organised enough to book themselves ‘a cheeky little mini-break to Barcelona, darling’, leaving the rest of us to wake up on certain Thursday mornings in Spring and realise we have a no-plans Bank Holiday black hole yawning before us.

Many of these festival days, of course, have their roots in the ancient rituals of our isles’ Pagan past, and so we observe the timeless traditions: check Skyscanner to see if we can get last-minute flights to Barcelona ourselves (answer: not for less that £1,350, via Frankfurt bitte); check whether the local pub has a table for lunch (answer: they can squeeze you in at the bar for a pack of Ready Salted); and finally, in desperation, check what’s on TV (answer: Gregg Wallace).

Read Ed's full piece here.

Maypole dancers gather around the Maypole - ISTOCKPHOTO
Maypole dancers gather around the Maypole - ISTOCKPHOTO

10:48 AM

Testing plan for green countries is 'overly prescriptive'

Henry Smith, the Conservative chairman of the all-party Future of Aviation group, said holidaymakers returning from "green" countries should only have to take a free lateral flow test and pay for a PCR test only if positive.

"The amount of testing for 'green' countries is overly prescriptive. There is too much complexity for travelling. Most people won't bother," he said.

Read more: The eight destinations likely to feature on the holiday 'green list' this summer

10:44 AM

Sports facilities to reopen in Wales next week

Gyms, leisure centres and swimming pools will be able to open again in Wales from next Monday, the Welsh Government has confirmed.

This further easing will also see indoor fitness classes resume as well as indoor children's activities, according to PA.

First Minister Mark Drakeford said: "The public health situation continues to improve and our vaccination programme remains a success. Thanks to the efforts of people across Wales, we are in a position to further ease the restrictions, in the way we have previously signalled, to allow more elements of normal life to return. However, the virus has not gone away."

10:33 AM

Why the ferry is the answer to your summer holiday

If you’re already dreading a return to airport marathons and crowded planes, now could be the time to fall in love with the humble ferry, writes Adrian Bridge.

In an earlier age, ferries were the only way of getting to mainland Europe, and there was a very real glamour attached to them.

But at some point, they fell out of fashion. The Channel Tunnel had a lot to do with that, as did the advent of low-cost flying. Suddenly there were faster, often cheaper alternatives. The lumbering ferry – or sad old booze cruise, as it had become – no longer looked such an attractive option.

Of course for people wanting to take their cars to the continent – or Ireland – ferries remained the best bet. So while some of the longer routes from the UK to Germany and Scandinavia were cut, the Dover-Calais run remained ever-popular, as did some of the sailings deeper into France and indeed all the way to Spain.

And for all the devastation the Covid pandemic has wrought for the travel industry, ferry operators are suddenly sensing a new wind in their sails.

Read more: Why the ferry is the answer to your summer holiday – and the amazing places you can reach on one

There is something about stepping out onto the deck of a ferry when it has just left port that feels like a holiday beginning  - DIGITAL VISION
There is something about stepping out onto the deck of a ferry when it has just left port that feels like a holiday beginning - DIGITAL VISION

10:28 AM

Exclusive: Social distancing not needed at big events, Boris Johnson to be told

Social distancing for large events can be scrapped from June 21, Boris Johnson will be told next week after initial results from a pilot scheme found no spike in Covid cases among attendees.

An interim report into the reopening trials will advise the Prime Minister that crowds can return safely and without distancing provided that measures such as staggering entries and good ventilation are in place.

Government scientists have been monitoring the impact of letting fans back into an FA Cup semi-final, Carabao Cup final and World Snooker Championship.

Conclusions from the early data are contained in the report and a covering note to be given to ministers next week, details of which The Telegraph has learned.

Read the full report by Ben Riley-Smith here.

10:18 AM

Is the 'amber' traffic light category helpful or harmful? Our columnists go head-to-head

If all goes to plan, the current ban on foreign travel will end on May 17, to be replaced by a traffic light system of restrictions. Each country will be categorised 'green', 'amber', or 'red', depending on infection rates, vaccination rates and various other weights and measures. For those travelling to the UK from green areas, entry at the border rests upon little more than a couple of PCR tests; for those returning from a red area, hotel quarantine awaits.

But what of those parts of the map shaded amber? Is this ripe territory for a cut-price holiday this summer? Or a danger zone full of last-minute rule changes and cancellation fees.

Two our our writers have their say right here.

Much of Europe is likely to be placed into the 'amber' category of restrictions  - GETTY
Much of Europe is likely to be placed into the 'amber' category of restrictions - GETTY

10:10 AM

Scenes from a reopening Northern Ireland

As Belfast unlocks parts of society from coronavirus restrictions today, people have been hitting the streets for some shopping.

belfast - CHARLES MCQUILLAN/GETTY
belfast - CHARLES MCQUILLAN/GETTY
BELFAST - CHARLES MCQUILLAN/GETTY
BELFAST - CHARLES MCQUILLAN/GETTY

10:01 AM

EasyJet boss: Most of Europe should be green

Johan Lundgren, the chief executive of EasyJet, has said that research suggests much of Europe should be considered 'green' in the UK Government's traffic light system that determines whether they are suitable for travel.

He told the BBC that clock is ticking" and that airlines need clarity over which destinations will see restrictions eased.

Mr Lundgren will speak later today to detail research from Yale University which suggests that unrestricted travel to some of the most popular holiday destinations, such as Portugal, Spain and Greece, would only increase hospital admissions by 4 per cent.

"As the rest of the economy emerges from this lockdown with some precautions in place, there is no reason why the same is not possible for travel," he is expected to say.

09:52 AM

Republic of Ireland to wait until July for pints inside a pub

Irish drinkers may be able to enjoy a pint inside a pub by the end of July and holiday abroad in late summer as the government seeks to largely lift all Covid-19 restrictions, Prime Minister Micheál Martin said this morning.

Its government pressed ahead yesterday with plans to reopen all retail stores and personal services for the first time in more than four months in May, with bars and restaurants allowed to serve guests outdoors from early June, according to Reuters.

“The indoor pint? Certainly not in May or June. It may be possible towards the end of July,” Martin told the Newstalk radio station.

The government has said it will develop a plan for a phased return to international travel and Martin said it was possible that holidays abroad could be permitted in July or August as the EU rolls out digital health passes for vaccinated citizens.

09:47 AM

PM urged to encourage foreign travellers to save UK cities

UKinbound, the trade association that represents inbound tourism to the UK, and other seven tourism bodies have written to Prime Minister Boris Johnson to stress the importance of foreign visits returning to this country's major cities.

Many businesses in the cities that rely on overseas visitors, such as bars, hotels and attractions, will struggle to survive if something isn't done, it says.

Joss Croft, UKinbound chief executive said it is "critical that cities are not left behind as the country moves forward with recovery."

“We can’t rely on domestic tourism to make up for the shortfall and spend of international visitors, especially in our cities. As we forge ahead with a new Global Britain post-Brexit, the success of cities across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland will be vital.

“We face the prospect of boarded up shops and restaurants, and the vibrant heart and soul of our cities disappearing if international visitors and their vital revenue doesn’t return.”

09:37 AM

A first look at Disney's newest vessel

Telegraph Travel cruise writer Dave Monk has been taking a look at the first images of Disney Cruise Line's new ship, Disney Wish – and it seems he likes what's in store.

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The ship is due to sail her maiden voyage on June 9, 2022, with tickets on general sail from the end of next month.

09:27 AM

Vaccinations in our favourite holiday spots

09:23 AM

What's happening on the continent?

Here’s a snapshot of the situation across Europe:

  • France will begin its four-phase reopening from Monday, which initially means people can travel without restrictions beyond the current six-mile limit. Museums, cinemas, theatres and outdoor dining venues will reopen on May 19, and from June 9 indoor dining returns – perhaps just in time for Britons to go on holiday.

  • Ireland is bringing in a phased reopening over six weeks from 10 May, when hairdressers and click-and-collect shopping can resume. Travel will be allowed outside your own county for the first time since Christmas.

  • Ukraine is barring entry to foreign nationals travelling from India from midnight tomorrow. It has recorded another 10,000 infections in 24 hours.

  • Portugal lifts lockdown restriction at midnight on all but eight municipalities, after seeing infection rates fall to the lowest level in the European Union, and its border with Spain will reopen for essential travel

09:17 AM

Scotland's Route 66 launched

Scotland’s answer to Route 66 has launched today, offering a stunning route around one of the country's most beautiful regions.

The Kintyre 66, or K66, is a 66-mile circular loop that covers the east and west coast of the Argyll peninsula, from Kennacraig to Campbeltown.

Niall Macalister Hall, chairman of the Kintyre and Gigha Marketing Group, said: “Kintyre is a hidden gem on the west coast, with beaches that would rival the Caribbean on a good day, a pristine marine environment helped by the warmth of the Gulf Stream, and so many unspoiled places to discover.

Here are some pictures of the area to get you excited.

KINTYRE 66 - RAYMOND HOSIE/SOLENT NEWS
KINTYRE 66 - RAYMOND HOSIE/SOLENT NEWS
KINTYRE 66 - RAYMOND HOSIE/SOLENT NEWS
KINTYRE 66 - RAYMOND HOSIE/SOLENT NEWS
GIGHA - RAYMOND HOSIE/SOLENT NEWS
GIGHA - RAYMOND HOSIE/SOLENT NEWS

09:01 AM

Northern Ireland restrictions eased from today

Shops, pubs, restaurants and gyms across Northern Ireland can start to reopen today after four months of lockdown.

Only outdoor dining is allowed at hospitality outlets, with table service and a limit of six people from no more than two households.

Earlier closing times for takeaway businesses and off-licences have been removed.

Restrictions on meeting up outside have also been slightly eased, with 15 people from three households now allowed to gather in a private garden.

08:52 AM

CLIA 'encourged' by plans to resume cruising in the US

The Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA), the largest cruise industry trade body, has welcomed the news that cruise holidays could return in US waters in July.

Earlier this week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said they had been meeting with industry executives twice a week over the past month, and will continueto work with them "to maintain the timeline of passenger voyages by mid-July."

In a statement, CLIA said:

Our technical experts are currently reviewing the information and its implications, but we are optimistic that these clarifications show positive progression — and, importantly, a demonstrated commitment to constructive dialogue, which is key to restarting cruising as we have seen with other governments and health authorities around the world.

It also shows that the voices of community leaders and the wider cruise community are being heard — and we are very grateful for that.

It added that "plenty of work remains in order to achieve our mutual goal of responsible resumption from US ports this summer."

08:41 AM

Glastonbury Festival to become 'family-friendly campsite' this summer

With Glastonbury Festival cancelled for a second year in row due to Covid-19, its organisers have announced they are to turn the Worthy Farm site into a "family-friendly campsite" during the summer holidays.

It will feature a village store, bar and local food, with organisers stating it would not be a "party venue" – with live music and sound systems banned. The famous Pyramid field will be used for picnics.

A statement on the Glastonbury website said: "With no festival taking place on Worthy Farm for a second consecutive year in 2021, Michael and Emily Eavis are pleased to invite campers, for one year only, to experience the farm in a way you've never been able to before."

This year you'll find more peace on Worthy Farm than usual during Glastonbury Festival - OLI SCARFF/AFP
This year you'll find more peace on Worthy Farm than usual during Glastonbury Festival - OLI SCARFF/AFP

08:30 AM

The rise of ‘churchwalking’: How Covid prompted a mini pilgrimage boom

With everywhere shut – in particular, the pubs – the countryside church has become the new go-to destination for weekend ramblers. Peter Stanford reports.

In pre-Covid times, there was nothing nicer than to go for a long walk on a bank holiday with the promise of a pint at the end of it. But when lockdown restrictions closed the pubs, necessity gave rise to an alternative reason to stretch our legs, so why not a nice walk with a place of worship at the end of it? Thus, to give purpose and meaning to that daily perambulation, people began inviting friends to pack sandwiches and a hip flask for a stroll to a nearby church or chapel – a pastime that has since been dubbed ‘churchwalking’. If the interiors were out of bounds, at least the building could be admired and the grounds explored.

Before we were all locked down, pilgrimages were already getting popular, and with all-comers. Over half of those walking the trail towards the shrine city of Santiago de Compostela describe themselves as not having any particular denomination or faith.

But something similar has been triggered on these shores. Old pilgrim trails from North Wales to Norfolk, Dorset to Durham, Galloway to Glastonbury have, this past decade, been dusted down, given new signposts and attracted as diverse a crowd as the Camino. There are those wanting a decent hike in beautiful countryside, those keen to explore the history of the places they pass through, and those intrigued by the prospect of getting away from it all on time-honoured trails associated with the search for a deeper meaning to life.

Read the full piece here.

Pilgrims along the 220-mile route from Southampton to Canterbury - JEFF GILBERT/ALAMY
Pilgrims along the 220-mile route from Southampton to Canterbury - JEFF GILBERT/ALAMY

08:24 AM

New route between Newcastle and Turkey

Newcastle airport is to get two new routes to Turkey from next year.

Low-cost carrier Corendon Airlines will begin flying to Dalaman and Antalya from April, with 50,000 seats available.

“We have continued to see demand increasing to Antalya and Dalaman from the UK, despite the current challenges faced by our industry," said Mine Aslan, Corendon Airlines commercial director.

“There are many British customers who own properties in Turkey and are looking to stay longer than a typical seven- or 14-night holiday."

08:12 AM

The 15 most beautiful seaside towns in France

France has announced that British and foreign tourists with a "health pass" – which offers either the proof of a vaccination or a negative PCR test – will be able to visit the country again from June 9, as part of their lockdown exit road map.

Our France expert presents 15 of his favourite seaside towns and villages to get excited about for when we can holiday overseas.

Read Anthony Peregrine's guide here.

Honfleur in Normandy - GERHARD ROETHLINGER
Honfleur in Normandy - GERHARD ROETHLINGER

08:05 AM

Unvaccinated adults keen to get jab before summer holidays, survey reveals

Around a fifth of unvaccinated adults in the UK say they will feel resentful if they do not get a coronavirus jab before their summer holidays, a survey has found.

The Government's target is to have offered a vaccine to all UK adults by the end of July.

About 18 per cent of those yet to be vaccinated said they would resent those who had been jabbed if they did not get one before their holidays, according to a survey of 4,896 adults aged 18-75.

The research was carried out by the University of Bristol, King's College London and the NIHR Health Protection Research Unit in Emergency Preparedness and Response.

The survey identified "widespread concern" about the ability to control forgeries, with 49 per cent of people thinking vaccination passports will be sold on the black market.

07:58 AM

Hays Travel offering Covid-19 tests from as low as £45

Travel agency chain Hays Travel has unveiled a new testing partnership with Assuredscreening.com that will see PCR testing available to travellers from £45 per person.

There will be three options available depending on how quickly the results are needed. Same-day results are available from £140 per person.

Jonathon Woodall, Hays Travel chief operating officer, said that the firm wouldn't make a profit from the service but that it shows "the value of using a reputable travel agent".

"We will do everything in our power to make sure there are no obstructions to taking a much-needed holiday," he added.

07:47 AM

Latest figures: Covid-19 in France

07:43 AM

Britons who are vaccinated or have negative Covid test can visit France from June 9

British holidaymakers will be able to visit France from June 9 if they are vaccinated or have a negative Covid test, a leaked plan has revealed.

The move means France joins Spain, Portugal and Greece in reopening to tourists for the early summer by accepting digital or paper vaccination certificates or a PCR test result. The leaked plan discloses that France will gradually start lifting its lockdown next Monday, with restaurant terraces reopening in mid-May and a return to near normal by June 30.

If applied, the four-phase roadmap will see France fully reopened just nine days after the UK despite having far higher Covid infection, hospitalisation and death rates. Some French doctors have described the leaked plan as "mad" given that the country still has almost 6,000 Covid patients in intensive care.

France, like most of mainland Europe, is likely to be on the UK Government's "amber" list of countries, potentially due to be announced at the end of next week.

Charles Hymas and Henry Samuel have the story.

07:37 AM

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

In case you missed this yesterday, problems with private test suppliers are threatening to plunge the testing system for travellers into chaos when summer holidays resume.

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.

Covid testing - GETTY
Covid testing - GETTY

07:33 AM

A catch-up from yesterday

Good morning, and happy Friday. Here’s a look at the main stories from yesterday:

  • Britons could be given fortnight's notice of potential 'green list' changes

  • Britons will be able to use health pass to visit France from June 9

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

  • 'Don't book now', holidaymakers warned

  • Cost of Covid tests for travellers are falling, says Grant Shapps

Follow us here for the latest travel news as it happens.